The New Year’s Resolution Game

2 01 2010

The time has come to take a hard look at where one has been, and where one is hoping to go. These rituals are nice to do because they provide you a measured interval at which to gauge your progress. The actions I aspire to take, as well as my perspectives on the current state of things, evolve each year and every day just as I do.

Of course, you can start a new initiative any day, but the first day of the year is a good day to reinforce this behavior. I’m not going to get into any arguments about whether this is the beginning of a new decade (I don’t think it is), but do believe that adding a new “10” digit to the year is a big milestone.

Here are my public goals, along with the overall objectives they are designed to achieve (I’m a big-picture girl):

1. Laugh and smile more — You can never do this too much. If there’s one thing I’d say about myself this past year, it’s that I needed to stop and smell, er, water, er, nurture the flowers more often at times (and at others, I’ve needed to get back to work!). And that’s just what I’ll do. OVERALL OBJECTIVE: Improve social relationships

2. Domesticate, just a little — Martha Stewart, I have no desire to be, but it wouldn’t hurt for me to keep my place a little neater and learn to cook a few things. OVERALL OBJECTIVE: Become more independent

3. Use more fossil fuels — Other people want to cut back on their environmental footprint. But I need to make mine a little bigger in order to foster my own independence. I hate driving, but I love the open road. If I can get over that synaptic hump, I’ll be able to take more trips and have a more fulfilling life. OVERALL OBJECTIVE: Become more independent

4. Spend less on the “bear necessities” — Currently, my rent and bills consume a lot of my wages, leaving little for me to use for other things. My food expenses are also fairly extreme. All the traveling I’ve done this year has really tested my fiscal security. I should try to cook for myself when possible and use other tricks to cut my food costs (probably easiest for me to control), followed by my other living costs. My lease is up in the fall, so I’ve got about eight or nine months to hunt for a new place to live if I decide to move. OVERALL OBJECTIVE: Become more independent

5. Get over my fear of mornings — Probably Issue #1, 2 or 3 for me right now at work is my ability to get to work on time. I’m doing better, and coming in a full 2 hours earlier than I used to, but I still need to push that back a little and become more consistent in my a.m. appearances. OVERALL OBJECTIVE: Become a better employee

6. Learn about popular culture — I avoid TV and music news and gossip and all that, but that’s what people talk about! From a fun standpoint, I’m missing out on opportunities for enjoyment and enrichment. From an intellectual standpoint, I need to keep my consumption updated so that my mental connections are optimized. From a purely utilitarian standpoint, I won’t have much to add to conversations if I don’t do my research. OVERALL OBJECTIVE: Intellectual enrichment

7. Find my niche at work — Not much has really changed at work, but I do have some stories and projects under my belt. With the economy throwing my field out of whack, I have a unique opportunity to focus my ambitions toward carving out a niche and looking at the Big Picture. What this means in concrete terms is I need to do some abstract thinking and translate my actions into a uniform plan. I know what that means, even if everybody else doesn’t. 🙂 OVERALL OBJECTIVE: Become a better employee

8. Be funny — My sense of humor needs attention. I’ve got to feed it, because it is awesome when it is on top of its game. Thus, I shall make more jokes. Good jokes. OVERALL OBJECTIVE: Improve social relationships

9. Try some cultural and social media experiments — One of the first projects I want to try is photographing myself wearing a different hat every day for the entirety of 2010. That starts today. OVERALL OBJECTIVE: Intellectual enrichment

10. It’s cliche: Eat better, exercise more — My experiment in getting more exercise and working on losing weight was actually somewhat successful. I hit a few roadblocks, but managed to lose about 8 pounds. I may have gained that back, or maybe not. Being sick for over a month did not help and I may have overextended myself at times. So in 2010, I will revive that effort and make sure to get my daily exercise (walking, basic weightlifting, gentle sports and other activities) in a safe way. OBJECTIVE: Maintain and improve health

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Stuff People Seem To Like #5: H1N1/Swine flu

14 11 2009

Don’t get me wrong. People don’t really “like” swine flu, H1N1, but they sure are obsessed with it. I think I darn well might have it right now. Every respectable health source I’ve looked at seems to be indicating that the standard flu isn’t here yet and most cases of the flu that are surfacing right now are in fact H1N1. (Don’t quote me on that, however.)

I suppose I should go to the doctor, but what’s the point? The most I could hope for is a dose of Tamiflu and at this point, I’m not sure if it would really help. I’m just going to ride out this awful, awful storm. Now, you may be wondering what this flu experience is like. Here’s my personal experience with this mystery respiratory ailment:

On Monday night of this week, I started feeling chilly at the office. My coworkers reassured me that it was cold inside, I wasn’t getting sick, etc. But I felt like something was not quite right. I made it to work on Tuesday and  continued to worsen, but still wasn’t all that bad. It was raining pretty hard that night and I returned to my apartment soaking wet. After drying myself off, I collapsed into bed. By the next morning, Wednesday, I could hardly get out of bed. I was so sore, my chest was heaving and wheezing, and I was having trouble breathing. My tonsils were swollen and were collecting tonsil stones, which added to my sore throat. I hadn’t had this tonsil problem in probably a year. In short, I could barely make it the few feet across my quasi-loft apartment to contact my colleagues, much less go to work.

I’ve read unsubstantiated rumors that H1N1 attacks the lungs first, versus the upper respiratory tract as in most ailments. That seems to jive with my experience, as I’ve never heard my lungs wheeze like that before. It also theoretically  would make it pretty dangerous for people with athsma. The CDC advises people with lung problems to be cautious and seek help immediately if they come down with flu-like symptoms.

Anyway, I rode out Wednesday night and felt hungry, so I went out for a quick dinner and drinks (one alcoholic, two cranberry virgin). I felt fine, and thought the worst was over, but felt like collapsing as I walked across the street to my complex. That night was the worst of the worst, as I shivered nonstop for about eight hours. Thursday settled down a bit but I had no food or good drinks in my fridge, so I summoned the energy to go shopping that night. I made it back without too much trouble, but was pretty much a rock. On Friday, I decided that I would just take the day off and then ride out the weekend.

Unfortunately, my coworkers alerted me to the fact that Friday was also the deadline for health benefits election. This time, it was mandatory, no skirting, no exceptions. So I summoned my last reserve of energy and slowly trudged to work to do my benefits election. It became clear that I was not capable of making it through a full day of work. I had a terrible coughing fit and almost thought I might have a fit of vomiting. I calmed my queasy stomach and downed as much water as I could, and blew my nose and coughed until things settled down. Then I finished the deed on my computer, e-mailed myself some crucial notes and got the Dickens out of there. I thought it ironic that I had to put my health and others’ health at risk in order to get health benefits. Life is funny that way.

I’ve retraced my steps for the past week, trying to ascertain when I was exposed. I was around a lot of crowds the past weekend and could have theoretically picked something up at that time, but none of my compadres who I hung out with last weekend are feeling the way that I do. Thank God for that. So how did I get so sick? Hard to say, but I’ll be happy to have some semblance of immunity if I make it through this unscathed.

My consolation is that symptoms should be improving starting on days 4 and 5, namely this weekend. I doubt that I’ll be able to join friends and colleagues in partying it up, but hopefully things will be a bit more comfortable. Which is good, because I miss drinking beer and not having such a remarkably short fuse.

Did I mention the mood swings? I have felt horrible both physically and mentally. I am the kind of person that likes to live life to the fullest (yes) and to be in this kind of shape is torturous and causes my thoughts to drift in unhappy directions. I’m trying to think about joyous things, like looking over my vacation photos and planning future trips abroad. Anything to get my head in the clouds and out of the dumps. I’m certain that by the time I am better, I will be a new woman and I will be prepared to take the world by storm. Until then, I wait.

And there you have it. I have once again bared my soul, and perhaps shared too much about my innermost feelings, and I will probably apologize for something I wrote here. But hey, at least it’s cathartic. See you on the other side of the dark side of the moon, world.





Now you go chase that dream

14 11 2009

I have had a case of the flu for the past few days and it’s gotten me down a bit, but it’s also given me a chance to think about things that are awesome. In particular, I was feeling Star Trekky the other morning (jotting down Captain’s Logs and calculating the actual stardate) when I saw the story of how infamous “last lecture” professor Randy Pausch loved the Trek universe. He got a cameo in the latest movie, even, as well as a small clip of his voice in the film.

Pausch got a signed photo and momentous quote from William Shatner, the prototypical edition of the elder James Tiberius Kirk:

Over the years, some of my sophisticated academic colleagues have turned up their noses at my Star Trek infatuation. But from the start, it has never failed to stand me in good stead.

After Shatner learned of my diagnosis, he sent me a photo of himself as Kirk. On it he wrote: “I don’t believe in the no-win scenario.”

I got to thinking about this guy who dealt with a terminal illness with so much courage and how I was sitting here miserable, thinking that this flu (probably H1N1, let’s not beat around the bush) may never go away. Paush did push-ups and all sorts of demonstrations of his strength during his 2007 speech. He was dead just a few months later. But he took that time in stride, carefully analyzing all the things he’d dreamed about doing as a child. He succeeded at a lot of things and would never get a chance to do others.

So, at the risk of sounding a bit dreary and morbid, I’d say let’s use every minute that we have healthy and alive. If I do sound a bit melancholy, blame this mysterious flu.





Organization calls

5 11 2009

There are times that I clearly feel like life is telling me something, and now is one of those times. I’ve been told over and over again that I’m disorganized, I need to grow up, whatever. And the fact is, that I truly do need to become a more organized person. It’s finally catching up to me as my work becomes ever more complex and I get older and life just gets complicated in general. I’ve tried and failed many times but I feel like if I can make an effort now, in time I will finally be successful.

I’ve had some degree of success already. After months and months of working and working at it, I finally got my eating and exercise habits under relative control. I’m finally starting to see some results from that effort, both in my physical stamina and the fact that I’m comfortably wearing jeans today that I couldn’t wear a few months ago. I’m no longer craving ridiculous portions of food and things are generally OK.

And now, I realize that if I am ever to advance in this life and successfully become who I want to be, organization is basically my only choice. Drawing on my health habits for inspiration, I am going to make an effort to fix my problems and take control of things.

Starting now, I commit myself to do the following things every day:

  • Spend about 30 minutes per evening reading the news
  • Keep a journal and know what I’m doing the next day
  • Read 5 pages of literature per day
  • Keep my laptop closed from midnight to 6 a.m.
  • Shower before bed rather than in the morning
  • Have clothes, bags, etc., planned out before sleeping
  • Have two alarms set to wake me in the morning
  • Write in my blog every day if possible
  • Work on something creative
  • Give work my undivided attention
  • Do something to expand my skills EVERY day
  • Ask people lots of questions, which I often forget to do

It’s going to be difficult, but I must slay this monster within me. I must take control of my life.





Progress report

23 07 2009

As far as my fitness goals go, I think I’ve relaxed a little, but still keep it up. I exercise about five days per week, in addition to the new yoga sessions we’ve started at work, so I still get me some exercise time. I am very pleased with my fitness accomplishments, having increased my athletic capacity and strength and flexibility significantly in the last few months. 20 minutes on the elliptical is the bare minimum for my workouts now. I try to make it to 30 if I can, sometimes breaking up the sessions if I get too sweaty in the Southern humidity.

My actual weight hasn’t changed a whole lot – it goes up and down. It was down for a while and now it has settled to where it was. I haven’t gained anything though. Some of that has to be muscle, since I’m lifting weights and doing other strength exercises to build up my solid mass. My frequent traveling seems to upset any progress or momentum I’m getting, as well as breaking news cycles at work. Plus, I love to eat and am not eager to be hungry during the day.

In the coming days and weeks, I’m going to be focusing on ways to keep myself satisfied and also lower the amount of calories I’m consuming, since I seem to be fitter than I have been as of late and that doesn’t appear to be enough. Since I love to eat (and practically depend on coffee and chai to make it through some days) this could prove a tad challenging.





Don’t weight to exercise, geeks

10 05 2009

Hey geeks, don’t think fitness is incongruent with your primal desires for quackulations, numbers and computerized algorithms. Turns out there’s a lot of math involved in this health and fitness biznass. I’m finding that doing all this mathematical homework is kind of interesting and exciting and helps motivate me to get results.

My last update was the morning of Thursday, April 30, which is what I consider to be my official benchmark although I started earlier. I weighed 183 pounds even at that time. Now, about 11 days later, I weigh 181.5 pounds. I want to lose a pound or more each week and I’m on track so far to be at 181 even by Thursday (the 2-week mark). My body mass index (BMI) has gone down from 33.5 to 33.1, meaning my body is theoretically composed of less fat. My goal is to get that number down to 30 and out of the “obese” category, which means I’ve got to drop back down to 160 pounds. I’ve weighed as little as 130 pounds in my adult life, and I was a little chunky even then, so I’ve probably got to drop down to 115-120 to begin to look slim. That’s a far-off goal, so bottom line, first things first, is to get my weight down into the 170s. Then I’ll work on the 160s and eventually on hitting my target BMI, and then I’ll work from there.

Food is another issue. I’m finding that depriving myself of food or trying to eat a miniscule diet is counterproductive. So I just eat when I need to, and try to make the food selections smart and tasty and healthy. Allowing yourself to get too hungry is a sure way to slow down the metabolism and I don’t want my body thinking that I’m in a famine situation. I need those fat pounds to come off nice and easy. This is also why I have to lift some weights at each workout, just so that the ol’ bod doesn’t decide that I don’t need those arm muscles anymore. And because the muscles use more energy at rest if you use them when you work out.

Physically, I can tell a little difference. I can last longer at cardio (I pushed it  up to 30 minutes today in the gym — and yes I’m going to the gym, if you can believe it) and I’m graduating from spending the whole time on the exercise bike to occupying myself on the elliptical machine. The first time I tried the elliptical machine, I could only last 2 minutes. Now I can use the machine in two five-minute shifts with a 10-minute bicycle ride in between (and a 10-minute ride either before or after). My goal is to spend 10 straight minutes on the elliptical and then graduate to the stairmaster. I also want to be able to jog. Currently, I can only jog about 10 feet without before becoming exhausted. Part of this is due to my foot problems (my surgery did a number on me) and part of it is me being out of shape. Ideally I’d like to be able to jog a half a block. Losing weight and improving my cardio strength will help.

Oh, and my pants are a little looser. That’s nice, too. I’ll update as more details surface. Over and out.





Weight, weight, don’t tell me

30 04 2009

Seems like worrying about one’s weight is all the rage, and I guess I’m going to join the herd now.

I better start getting ready for work… but I thought I would take a second to commit myself and hold myself accountable to something that I need to be doing, and that is living more healthily. I weigh approximately 60 pounds more than I did when I started college, and it’s a little frightening to contemplate. I wasn’t skinny by any means during that time, so I look at the number on the scale and I’m pretty terrified about what’s happening to my body. But the good news is I’m not so far along that I can’t turn things around and I can’t improve the situation.

I waited a couple weeks to weigh myself because I wanted to have some positive momentum going into this event. I knew the number would be scary and discouraging, and it was. I’ve managed to cut back on a lot of the horrible things I typically eat and have increased my activity somewhat. I’m also skipping the food court and bringing my lunch most days, or at least trying to eat something moderately good for me. My genes and metabolism are probably working against me here, so I’m going to have to fight my way through the future. You can’t make changes like this overnight and I’m going to be gradually adjusting my habits a little each day…. negotiating with myself to keep everything in balance.

Balance, balance, balance. Here goes nothing!