I just realized that I haven’t done any sort of a fitness baseline in over a year and a half. The last one was in January of 2012 – here’s the link if you want a recap – Setting a Fitness Baseline. Since then I spent 6 months engaged in a consulting project, and then the following 8 months as my husband’s caregiver. Neither of those two things were particularly conducive to healthy eating and exercise habits. Frankly there was a lot of sitting on my rear. Sitting on my rear in front of the computer. Sitting on my rear in the hospital. Sitting on my rear driving back and forth to Chapel Hill from the beach. Sitting on my rear in doctor appointments. Since I’ve gotten back home I’ve been running around like a crazy person traveling, visiting with friends, playing volleyball and just trying to get everything done that has been neglected for far too long. The yard is still an absolute disaster I am afraid. All through this I have been rather unmotivated to get back into my regular exercise routine. I’ve started and stopped a couple of times now and I am not happy about it.
So, to remedy that I just started a new program. Hopefully having a coach will motivate me to keep active and fit and I want to learn some new things in the process. I’ve been eyeing Precision Nutrition for a dog’s age now and I finally decided that it was time to sign up for their Lean Eating program. This sucker is going to take a year to complete and I got a good friend to sign up with me to keep me engaged in the process. We plan to reward ourselves by going to Key West next summer when we are through.
As part of the program they want you to document all of your measurements and take photos in skimpy clothing at regular points along the way. Of course they want the “before” picture. Sorry, no pictures on the blog, these things aren’t flattering no matter how good you look in real life. They are sort of the police lineup of fitness pictures – full front, full rear, left side. YUCK! I prefer action photos or ones that are artfully posed.
Now, I will share some of the data. I am 47 years young. I am still 5’7″ tall. I currently weigh in at 131 lbs. For this round I bought a new set of fat calipers that seem to be much more accurate than the electronic ones. I traumatized a good friend of mine by forcing him to take my measurements. To get greater accuracy each of the 7 sites was measured 3-4 times. Yowzer. Talk about torture. Somehow after my year and a half of bad living, (I really do not know how)…. my body fat percentage worked out to be 16.2%. No idea how that happened. I guess my diet has actually been pretty good since I moved back home at the beginning of June. For me, food is the key to leanness and this measure proves that.
I clearly do not need to lose weight, so my fitness goals for this program are mainly strength related. We’ll see how I do:
- 10 chinups
- 50-100 manly pushups (wiggle wiggle – really going for 100 but not sure my bum elbow can handle it)
- deadlift 200 lbs for reps
Where am I today?
- 3 chinups
- 15 manly pushups
- deadlift 120 lbs – probably could do a bit more, but right now I am working on some other things first
To be honest, I think that I might be sandbagging a little bit. This shouldn’t take a year if I actually pay attention and make measurable progress regularly. Also, after my last year, I wanted to make sure that whatever I set out to do is actually 100% achievable. Maybe I am setting the bar too low, but I can always readjust later.
Lately I’ve had a lot of disconnected thoughts about my contribution to society. Some people out there – wow – you don’t even have to think twice about what they have done.
- Bill Gates – Microsoft is just a teeny part of his legacy, his real work is with the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation.
- Steve Jobs – Elegance in engineering. Near perfection.
- Mother Theresa – Humanitarian and advocate for the poor and helpless.
I have to stop with this list or I will get totally discouraged. I know I should be inspired, but some of their contributions are so overwhelming that the little that I can do in my own backyard seems insignificant. It also can be hard to fit anything else into my day to day activities. I think most of us are in that boat. We live our insulated lives, we get up, brush our teeth and head off to work, we take care of our houses and our families and before we know it the day is done and we wake again another day to do it all over again. I’ve definitely had the strange feeling of living in the movie Groundhog Day. Here we go again…
I don’t want to keep living like that. So now what? I am, trying to figure out what I’ve done so far that has provided value and what I can do going forward that will make a difference. Being an introvert I could happily just sit in my chair and read books until I die, but to what end? Would that be a waste of life? It would bring me pleasure, but shouldn’t we all strive to make our society better in some way? Does it matter if it is big or small? I hope not.
Posted in Personal
Something really amazing happened to us last week. In this economic climate we sold our house after it had only be listed for 42 days on the market. We got a great offer, it was pretty close to our asking price, the buyer does not have any contingencies regarding selling another house, and they are already pre-approved for a mortgage. We really couldn’t have asked for a better scenario. Granted, it isn’t done until we sign the papers at the closing, but we are that much closer to consolidating our belongings into one place – down at the beach. Having one house will simplify our lives greatly, and from a cash flow perspective it certainly won’t hurt either!
There is one minor issue with all of this. The buyer wants to close (and we have to move out) by July 27th! Oh boy oh boy. We have been in our house for 13 years now and although I like to think that I am pretty ruthless about getting rid of detritus on a semi-regular basis we have a lot of work to do if we are going to be out in one month from today. We also have the one little issue that our beach house is rented through the summer season and we don’t even have access to it until August 20th. At that point we will be able to start converting it to our primary residence from a business property. Ok, I guess that makes two issues.
At this point I am obsessing about what stuff to sell, what stuff to give away, what stuff to pack (and when), how to move the stuff, and where the stuff goes for a month. Never mind that we have to find a temporary home for my husband, me, 3 cats and a 75 gallon fish tank. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. I’ll also add in nebulous worries about inspection findings and appraisal results. Gosh I wish I was a laid back person because I already feel like I’m wound too tight and we’re just starting the work.
I’m not sure how much you’ll hear from me over the next month – postings may dwindle to nothing – either that or I might need a place to vent about the silly things that inevitably happen when one moves on a tight deadline. Who knows.
Posted in Personal
Tagged Goals, Stress
Well, I think this lifestyle change is going to stick. It has now officially been three months since we made the switch in our household. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would go vegan. I always had some issues with eating meat, but it never stopped me. I *loved* milk products and eggs. (can you say scrambled eggs and cheese?) Going vegan was a totally foreign concept to me. Then I got sick and I also learned I couldn’t tolerate milk products. I started to read more about food. I read The China Study and watched Supersize Me. I know a lot of people have issues with some of the studies in The China Study, but it profoundly impacted how I think about food and how food can impact cancer risk.
I had no idea what a difference it would make. Here are some examples – my cholesterol was a health 186 when I started. I recently had it checked again. Wow, down to 142. My husband’s blood pressure and cholesterol have taken similar nose dives as well. Both of us have lost weight. I dropped 13lbs and he’s down 25lbs. All of these changes happened before I retired, so that clearly wasn’t the cause.
The beautiful thing about all those wonderful changes is that they didn’t come at the cost of typical dieting. I am never hungry. I no longer track every morsel I eat in order to count calories (that plus exercise was my secret to staying slim). I don’t need to do these things anymore – ok I do exercise, but I don’t think that will ever stop – I love to feel strong and healthy. I eat as much as I want of the healthy things in our house and I’m now at the weight I was at in my early 20s. The last time I got down to this weight I was really trying hard to get there. This time, not so much. I even have dessert most nights. I’ve learned how to bake tasty cupcakes and breads without any eggs or milk.
The switch wasn’t easy, but I think that anyone can do it with a little bit of attitude adjustment toward the food industry.
I’m still thinking about that last book I reviewed. One of the other questions is something like – are you willing to pay the cost of your dream? Most people don’t even think about the cost of their dreams. Even small dreams have a cost. Big dreams have a huge cost. You need to know what it is, and if you’re willing to pay it.
One of my dreams is to own my own business. I vacillate between a high tech business and one that is not. There are benefits and detriments to both. I’ll touch on the non-high tech options a bit. There are a lot of costs. Here are but a few.
- Loss of salary – ok – I’m already there, starting a business now doesn’t mean I will lose anything. However I might delay how long it takes to get back to a good salary.
- Loss of identity – I’ve lived and breathed high tech my entire career. It is part of who I am. That would be gone. This one really hurts. I have a strong resume and I would be turning my back on it.
- Loss of stability – I’ve always had a “job” working for someone else. This is all up to me!
- Loss of expertise – Time to learn something new – and not be an expert anymore.
- Closing a door – Once you leave high tech, it is almost impossible to get back into it because the technology changes so quickly. Is it worth it?
What’s the cost of your dream? Do you think it is worth it? I’m still trying to figure that out.
I just finished reading John C. Maxwell’s book “Put Your Dream to the Test – 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It”
If you want to get a feel for what this book is like – check out an adaptation from the book on his website. How Do You Know If Your Dream is Obtainable?
I’ve never read any of his books before and I just happened upon this one in the library while I was in the throes of navel gazing about my own future. These last 9 months (nine!! where does the time go?) of job searching and soul searching have been both good and bad. At first I really needed the time off but more recently I’ve determined that it is time for me to *DO* something productive. The question has been: “what?” Do I want to keep doing what I had been doing? Or do I want to try doing something completely different with a huge learning curve and a higher likelihood of failure? I’ve gone back and forth from one day to the next. I’ve been on interviews that seriously felt like my soul was being sucked out of my body… and then I’ve regretted not being more enthusiastic about the position! Well, maybe my gut was trying to tell me something. I think that it is time for a change. I am always happiest when I am learning something new. The bigger the learning curve and the more support I have while learning, the better off I am.
This book really helped me put my dreams about the future into better focus. I think that my favorite question is “The Ownership Question: Is my dream really my dream?” Who hasn’t said that they want to do something because it’s what they are “supposed” to do? Clearly that’s not your dream. Or maybe you are doing something for someone else… that too, not yours. Sorry. How about you want to keep working on something because you’ve been doing it for all of your career but it isn’t fun anymore? hmmm. Sounds like that isn’t your dream anymore either.
I’m all for leveraging strengths and I know what mine are. I connect with people and I like to think that I bring out their best. I don’t lose sight of the big picture. I am extremely organized and I can be detailed oriented when necessary. I can run a complicated project like no ones business. I just need to apply all that to something a little different than what I have been doing.
I leave you with this final thought:
“Think of your comfort zone as a prison you live in – a largely self-created prison. It consists of a collection of cants, musts, must nots and other unfounded beliefs formed from all the negative thoughts and decisions you have accumulated and reinforced during your lifetime.” Jack Canfield
Every now and then I notice that my weight has gone up by 2 or 3 pounds. This usually happens after a vacation or the holidays. Unfortunately it never wants to go back down on its own, so I figure that it’s time for a tuneup. The best way to do a tuneup is to do a diagnostic to figure out what is going on. Right now I’m in the middle of a tuneup and its not been a lot of fun, but I know I can do better.
First off, I take a look at my exercise program and determine if I’ve been lazy. Am I skipping the hardest exercises? Have I reduced the number of days I lift or my reps or weights because I’m not feeling strong? The worst for me is aerobic exercise. I hate it. Have I been avoiding running or getting on the stairmaster? Exercise is pretty easy for me to address. Food is always harder. I think this happens to everyone. You eat healthy but eventually you sneak in a cookie, or maybe some cheese, or some chips, or what about pizza and beer after volleyball? After a while you get used to that and you add something else. Before you know it, you’re eating a lot more calories. Time to start weighing and measuring. My favorite site for calorie monitoring is fitday.com. It’s free and easy to use and it makes it painfully apparent when I’ve been adding “snacks” to my diet.
This approach can be used on your business as well. Have you examined your costs lately? You don’t want to be cheap, but being frugal sure can help in this economic environment.
- One of the easiest ways to cut costs is to look at your broadband, telephone, and wireless expenses. If your contracts are up you will almost always be able to find a better deal. How do I know? I’ve done it. Actually I cut costs *and* I tripled the bandwidth of a company I worked for by doing a little comparison shopping.
- Does you company have multiple sites? Do you do a lot of travel between them? Do you have a corporate discount at a local hotel? Check out the competition. There is sure to be someone who wants to undercut your current deal.
- If you’re doing a lot of travel – don’t underestimate the savings you can obtain by planning in advance. Short notice flights will cost you dearly.
- If you’re really small do you negotiate with vendors to cut training costs? I’ve managed to secure free conference attendance for my team – something that should have cost $800+ a person. I’ve done this in two different companies.
- When you buy a new hardware or software platform do you ask for a discount? You’d be surprised what you can get if you just ask nicely. I’ve managed 10-35% discounts pretty easily by asking.
This isn’t rocket science, it’s just a matter of paying attention to what you’re doing. Whether is what you put in your mouth at meals or what you spend on an ongoing basis – the solution is the same.
Unlike a lot of folks, I’ve never really been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I typically address issues as I go throughout the year – it’s easier that way – at least it is for me. I’d rather quietly make small changes in my life on an ongoing basis than try to do a big bang, make a lot of noise and fail. Besides, I already eat pretty well, I work out 5-6 times a week, and I floss my teeth regularly. After about 10 years of effort to make many small changes in these areas I’ve got most of the typical resolutions covered.
However, that strategy isn’t a lot of fun to blog about this time of year. BORING. There is one new thing that I have been working on lately – I started it the week after Christmas and I found that it is helping me get more focused on the things that I want to do with my life going forward. I’ve decided to make a list of my 100 dreams. You might call it a bucket list, but I’d rather be more positive than that. As I cross items off the list I plan to add new items to it. These are things big and small that I want to accomplish in my life. The big ones were easy. I want to be financially secure, I want to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, I want to climb Machu Picchu, and I want to run a successful company. These are things that will take time and a bit of planning. Just putting them on the list gives me permission to start the investigative phase. How? When? Where? What skills and resources (time, people, money, equipment) do I need to collect first?
I’ve come up with 31 out of 100 so far, and I am turning over rocks for some of the smaller ones. Some of the smaller ones are subgoals of the large ones. Some are just things that I want to be able to do. I’d like to be able to deadlift 200lbs. I’m probably not that far off on that one, just been lazy. I need to learn how to roll my kayak at some point. I would like to have a successful vegetable garden – so far I’ve had dismal failures. This time my plan includes getting my soil tested by the agricultural division at NC State.
From a blogging perspective I have a lot of ideas. The biggest thing that I plan to do is to get more involved with other bloggers. I’ve signed up on blogher (women bloggers), I’ve guest blogged for The Mad Peacock Perfection is the Enemy of Good Enough. Very exciting – my first guest blog!
I’m also putting out a request for guest bloggers on my site. Do you have something that you want to say about leadership?