Thursday, July 31, 2014

You've touched a nerve, my friend

Last week I yelled at Monkey Boy for fat shaming a woman in a pair of booty shorts. Yesterday he posted an article that's been making the rounds, entitled "6 Things I Don't Understand About the Fat Shaming Movement." I have a lot of issue with this article... more than can be expressed in Facebook comments.

This is me elaborating. TL;DR at the bottom if you don't want to read the wall of text. It's really quite simple. 

Maybe I shouldn't have used the word wrong in my FB comment. Misguided might be a better term, because the author is talking about things she claims not to understand regarding the fat acceptance movement. I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt and assuming she doesn't understand because she's never BEEN fat, saying she's a "normal" size (her quotes). What she really means is she's a socially acceptable size, which is not the same thing. The movement isn't for or even about her. She doesn't understand it because she can't conceive not hating herself if she were fat.

I'll address her points one by one. Again, TL;DR at the bottom.

1. America is extremely accepting of fat. America's food, marketing, and yes even diet industries are likely the driving force behind a good portion of our obesity, but America is NOT accepting of fat. The author downplays the prevalence of negative stereotypes, staring, bullying, and crude comments, possibly because she's never seen, heard, or experienced them herself. She may not be aware of the constant barrage of well-meaning and not so well-meaning comments people of  not normal size have to endure on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis. Random strangers judge and try to dictate what a fat person eats, wears, and how much or little they move, without a single idea who that person is or what their personal or medical history might be.

She doesn't mention people of every size participate in the behaviors she cites, nor that body size and behavior are two entirely different things. Instead she implies all fat people are fat because of lifestyle choices. She doesn't mention that SHE is in fact not accepting of fat, and the fact her article went viral is an indication of how rampant that attitude is in our culture. She also doesn't mention that somehow her attitude gives her the right to judge, dictate to, and discuss the acceptance of anyone with a body shape she deems unfit and outside the spectrum of "normal."

2. Body Positivity should include health. This point assumes it's impossible to be healthy when overweight, fat people have absolutely no healthy habits, and being fat is a choice. Body Positivity is more than loving the shape you're in. It's about loving yourself, no matter the shape you're in.

Dieting or losing weight is not the only way to be proactive about your health. Multiple studies have proven dieting, for the majority of people, simply does not work. THIS BLOG POST links to a slew of studies (not just articles hyping, but the actual statistical studies) showing most people lost all of 5-10 lbs, which they then gained back, regardless of the diet they tried. Diets don't make a person more healthy, either. Healthy habits lead to healthy bodies.

The fact is, what we know about nutrition and how the body utilizes it changes every day. One thing we do know is there is no one diet that works for everyone. Every person's body reacts differently based not only on their history and genetics, but also the history and genetics of their parents and grandparents. We don't even know how far back epigenetics affects us.

Regardless of medical history, there is no way convincing people to hate their bodies is in any way a path to health. 

3. Health at every size seems physically impossible. It's true not every person is healthy at every size. People of all sizes have health issues. Just because a person is thinner or heavier than the socially acceptable norm does not mean they are unhealthy. People can eat a lot, be sedentary, and also be thin. People can be "morbidly obese" (the definition and history of this term would take far more space than this already overly long post, but we can get into it if you want) without medical indicators for diabetes, heart disease, joint issues, or any of the other red flags the author seems concerned with. Heart disease and high blood pressure really don't care about your height, weight, or BMI (another false indicator picked up and proliferated by the insurance industry). 

Seriously, read the blog post linked above. It's one of about a million the author could have read to further her understanding, were she truly interested in understanding. Healthy habits = healthy bodies.  

4. People are allowed to not be attracted to certain body types. There is nothing wrong with being attracted to, or not being attracted to certain body types. You don't have to lust after a larger woman. Her not being to your taste however does not give you the right to belittle that woman or tell her what she can or can't wear. This goes deeper than someone saying "no fatties" on their dating profile. No overweight person would want to date someone who reduced them to nothing more than a body size anyway. The focus is not on getting people to be attracted to larger body types, but on permitting people with larger body types the freedom to FEEL attractive. Today's society implies those with a Rubenesque figure should hate themselves, and anyone who finds them attractive should hate themselves as well.

This doesn't even address where our idea of attractive comes from, btw. Hello, Photoshop anyone?

5. Food addiction is a real medical problem. I agree we should address the fact our food supply and marketing industry is constructed to make us addicted and to over-consume. However, addicts almost never respond well to the interventions the author suggests. Telling a person they are fat, they eat the wrong things and they are killing themselves is not a revelation to them (and may not be true!). They heard these things already, many times, in many ways, all day every day. It's like telling someone they need to quit smoking. When has that ever really worked? The addict (if they are one) has to come to terms with their addiction on their own, in terms they alone can relate to. Only then can they make changes, and even then changes are not always successful.

And btw, not every overweight person is addicted to food. There are as many reason why a person is the size they are, as there are people in this world. The author may very well have one of several other food disorders, where she obsesses about everything she puts in her mouth. This just happens to be a socially acceptable disorder in that it makes her look more what we consider "normal". We won't even talk about the contradiction of her implying people are fat by choice, then bringing up food addiction. 

6. We can't accept childhood obesity. I also agree that we have to teach children healthy eating habits at a young age. It bothers me to see infants and toddlers with full size candy bars and sodas. However, children of "normal" sized adults can and are obese. Just like adults, some children can consume candy and soda without ballooning to an unreasonable size. Some children have the same issues that cause obesity in adults. Making them hate themselves at a young age is certainly not the way to resolve whatever issues they are dealing with. 

I see this article as complete bias against the Fat Acceptance Movement, wrapped in the pretense of a lack of understanding. If the author wanted to understand, there are blogs, studies, and articles galore that could help alleviate her misconceptions. I don't think she wants them alleviated though. I think she feels superior because she's always been "normal" sized, and as I indicated above, that gives her the right to pass judgement on anyone who does not fit her definition of "normal." This fits Merriam-Webster's definition of prejudice: "preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience." And THAT is why this article, and people's reaction to it, have touched a nerve. 

TL;DR: The point of the fat acceptance movement, which the author completely misses, is that everyone on this earth should be appreciated and respected without shame, stigma, or oppression, no matter their size. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The evolution of a plan

I've been thinking lately about incorporating daily yoga.

Plan A is the dreamer in me, the ideal, which includes being able to afford both Crossfit and unlimited yoga:

Get up at 6:00am, out the door by 7:00, arrive at work around 7:30
Take an hour + lunch for Crossfit
work until 5:00pm
attend the 6:00 yoga session

At first glance, this would allow me to attend Crossfit every weekday, and Yoga at least 3 weeknights (plus the Saturday class with Superman). Depending on my year end bonus, I might actually be able to swing this and still pay off all my credit cards this year, which is a priority. 
I don't see my year end bonus until March though, and I doubt it will be sizable at all. Also, looking more closely at the schedules, it turns out Yoga only has the 6pm classes Mon-Thurs, and I currently donate plasma Thurs/Sat. I have a standing Wednesday night that I could do after Yoga, but that means driving past where I want to be, then having to backtrack. This wouldn't be such an issue if I weren't already over my lease mileage for the year. 

As much as I like to dream this plan is possible, in reality it's not that simple. I'm reduced to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday yoga, and Wednesday is not ideal. Also, the 12:00 Crossfit class requires I leave work at 11:45, already dressed for a workout. It's not uncommon for me to have 11:00-12:00 meetings, which means I'd have to shift things around on the fly. I do this anyway, but I'd have to be sure I could attend enough Crossfit classes mid-day to make paying for unlimited yoga worthwhile. Crossfit > Yoga, though not by much. 
I want to be her!
Plan B requires quite a bit more motivation on my part. It's easier to get up and get out than it is to get up and work out.

Get up at 6:00am, do an hour of yoga. 
Out the door by 7:45, at work by 8:30. (This is close to what I'm doing now, except I get up at 7:00 and leave around 8:00.)
don't take lunch, which is what I’m doing now.
work until 5:00pm
attend Crossfit at 6:00pm.

The benefit of this plan is I do yoga every day, and it doesn't cost me anything. I've actually made some progress with this schedule, this week.  I scheduled a task on my computer to simply shut it down at 10:00pm. When the computer shuts down, it's time for bed. Not time to do dishes or laundry or pick up my phone. Time to go to bed. According to, I should be asleep by 10:30pm in order to wake up easily at 6:00am. Sunday I had some trouble getting to sleep, probably because I napped that afternoon. I was still awake without my alarm at 6:00am, and out of bed by 6:15. Last night I was tired so went to bed at 9:30pm, and was out of bed by 6:30am.

I originally envisioned a full on hour of yoga, complete with mat and music and sun salutations. This is not happening. What happens is I get up and stretch my calves on the stairs. Then I fold over and stretch my hamstrings. At some point I grab my pullup bar and stretch my arms/shoulders/back. I have a towel set up on a banister at the top of the stairs to help stretch out my quads. I putter around for the next half hour, getting things together, getting things done, and stretching every once in a while in the process. It's not as intense or focused as an hour of yoga would be, but at least I'm stretching. This is progress. Bonus points for making it to work earlier, since I’m getting everything done before 7, which is when I was waking up before. 
So close!
I haven't completely given up on running, either. I'm not really running right now, but I'd still like to participate in the Cleveland 10 Miler at the end of April. At this point it will have to be a walk/run, and I’m OK with that considering. I'll have to work out a schedule and see how running fits into Crossfit, which is much more exciting and feels much more doable at the moment. Right now I see the schedule something like this:

What I would like to happen
Monday: AM Yoga, PM Crossfit & Run
Tuesday: AM Yoga, PM Crossfit & Run
Wednesday: AM Yoga, PM Crossfit
Thursday: AM Yoga, PM donate plasma & Run
Friday: AM Yoga, PM Crossfit
Saturday: AM Yoga class, PM donate plasma
Sunday: AM Yoga,  PM Long Run

What will probably happen
Monday: AM stretching, PM Crossfit
Tuesday: AM stretching, PM Crossfit
Wednesday: AM stretching, PM Crossfit
Thursday: AM stretching, PM donate plasma & Walk/Run
Friday: AM stretching, PM Crossfit
Saturday: AM Yoga class, PM donate plasma
Sunday: PM Long Run

I included the plasma donations because they take up those timeslots, and because they affect my other workouts.

The "What will probably happen" may change as I get stronger, as it gets warmer, and as we have more daylight. I might actually run after Crossfit, or in the mornings. I'll be happy if I can get 2 weekday runs in, and the weekend long run. Hopefully, I can increase those over time. I have to be careful though, that I don't overdo and hurt myself again, as I'm prone to do.

Monday, February 3, 2014

So I guess this really is happening

Last Tuesday, Superman and I went to visit a local CrossFit box. I've been interested in CrossFit for a while, but only recently figured out I might be able to afford going. According to the website, "The aim of CrossFit is to forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness." I like the whole body experience. I like the community they are supposed to embody. I like the idea of classes, and the types of exercises. I've actually incorporated a few of the exercises in my workouts already, though not to the intensity I'm certain I should. I'm hoping that will come in classes and with encouragement.

The introductory class consisted of a 10 minute warm-up (shoulder stretch, sit-ups, lunges), a 12 minute workout (5 burpees, 10 low level pull-ups, 5 box jumps and 10 squats), and a 5 minute cool down (8 sets of 20 second plank, 10 second rest). For those who don't know, burpees are 1) lay full body on the floor, 2) get to your feet and jump, 3) repeat. The low level pull-ups used rings. You scoot your feet in, pulling against the rings and slanting your body to increase resistance. The closer to horizontal you can get, the more body weight you're actually pulling. We flipped playing cards each round we completed, so we didn't have to count rounds and reps. 
I made it through 5 rounds plus 1 burpee. This workout kicked my butt a little, but not completely. I'm sure that's exactly what it was designed to do. I was breathing heavily, but at no point did I have to stop and rest. Were the workout 20 minutes, that may not have been the case.

Predictably, I'm excited about the idea of paying $100+ to get my butt kicked like this. I'm the one who uses all the gadgetry to run. Superman just throws his shoes on and goes. He's not so thrilled with the idea of paying that much $$ to work out. He wants to run and bike. Also, he has a gym workout in mind that worked for him in the past. I'd hoped we would do this together, but I kind of knew going in that wasn't going to happen. We approach this type of thing differently. I need the extra motivation of a class. He doesn't. I am interested in this type of exercise. He is not.

However, this particular Box (that's what CrossFit calls their gyms, mainly because that's exactly what they look like inside) is not for me.

Located halfway between work and Superman's house
There is only one trainer: the owner
It's CrossFit
Ideally, because I donate plasma on Thursdays, I'd like to attend a class Thursday mornings. Thursday morning and Friday night are the only times this box has no classes
CrossFit requires everybody go through Foundations training, to learn the lifts and moves. This box doesn't charge for the Foundation training. It's one class for about an hour, where other boxes charge $100 for 6 classes over the course of 2 weeks
The Foundations class is only 1 time, for about an hour
There is no contract. I can pay for a month, and if I decide this Box or even CrossFit itself is not for me, I'm not out a full year's dues
I'm not sure how other Boxes do it, but this one only has 2 shower rooms, 1 bathroom, and no other changing room facilities. Also, no lockers.
They have a couples discount, if Superman changes his mind
The website listed a $100 fee for a 3x a week schedule. The website is woefully out of date and the fee is now $125 for unlimited classes

I don't know how boxes are supposed to be stocked, but I didn't see any weight plates. Just the 45 lb bars and kettlebells. I thought there would be squat racks, at least.

There is a Box closer to work, which I visited Friday night. If Superman were excited about CrossFit, we would definitely go to the Box closer to his house. Without him in attendance, I'm inclined to frequent the one closer to work. The space is smaller, but brighter, and there were definitely more people around. This may have to do with the fact that the introductory class Superman and I went to was after the regular classes, while the one I went to Friday was during a regular class. Friday's Box has more classes available and also a much busier white board, both of which imply they have more people working out there.

Friday's workout was 20 minutes of warmup, including pushups, bear and crab crawls, suicide drills, and some time spent rolling out sore muscles with a lacrosse ball. The actual workout was descending reps (15-12-9) of 12" box jumps (I jumped a 20" 2x, but was afraid I'd miss when I started getting tired), 18 lb overhead kettle bell swings (I swung a 25 lb., but again was concerned about form when I started getting tired), and burpees. It was work. I definitely got my heart rate up and sweat going. I don't now if Friday's class was less intense than Tuesday's or if I just needed to get things moving earlier in the week, but I was less sore come Saturday.
Part of the reason I'm excited about CrossFit is the hope for a community like I had in Tae Kwon Do. I did not feel that community at the Box I visited with Superman. Granted there were only a few regular CrossFitters around, but I basically felt ignored unless interacting with the owner. Friday's Box, people randomly came up and introduced themselves, the trainer introduced me to everyone in the class, and people came up after class to comment on the workout and my participation in it. THIS is what I was looking for!
It also helps this box charges $10 less per month than the one Superman and I visited.

I'm trying to temper my excitement to spend money I don't necessarily have. I can afford this through donating plasma, but that doesn't mean I SHOULD spend that $$ at CrossFit. The gym I already belong to will offer CrossFit-like classes soon, for a fee. I'm not sure yet what the schedule will look like, but I know the Zumba classes (for which there is also a fee) are only available Wednesdays. I can't attend on Wednesdays. With a CrossFit gym I'll get the type of exercise class I want (interval, whole body training), just about every day. 

That said, I've already arranged to start the essentials classes. These are the classes where they teach me the different lifts and moves. There are 6 of them I have to complete before I can begin attending regular classes. My first is tonight. 

Guess this really is happening! 

Friday, January 31, 2014


I'm still working on the same card I started last Thursday. Monday, another of the new Devs paired with me, and together we resolved the first half of the problem. I had the solution, but didn't have ALL the information I needed for that solution to work. Now we're working on the 2nd half. We worked in different directions, and it looks like neither of our solution paths will work. Now we're trying to create a new stored procedure. I obviously do not have the right mind-set for this position yet, because this is the 3rd time in the past month I've encountered the need to create a new stored procedure to resolve my issue, and it's the 3rd time that thought never even occurred to me.  

It's been 6 months since I jumped the wall into PD. I've had 4+ months of training, 2 solid months of actual work, and I still struggle with the learning curve. The amount I need to learn compared to the pace at which I'm learning still affects my self esteem. I know I'm smart enough to do the job, but every day I question if I've bitten off more than I can chew. I know I can learn what I need to know, eventually. My problem is how often I don't have what I need to know NOW in order to accomplish my daily tasks. I find this incredibly frustrating, and I'm feeling decidedly beaten down by the experience.
 Whenever we finish a card, we're supposed to ask if anyone needs a pair. I've found myself stuck enough to accept that help a few times lately. There is no shame in accepting the help but I'd almost prefer to work alone, even on the more challenging cards. I would struggle and take forever, when we don't have an infinite amount of time. I would ask a lot of questions and need help in certain sections, which would take time away from the more experienced Devs. In the end though, I would do the work and learn more in the process. At this point on my current card, I'm again in the position of watching the other Dev do my work. I have little to contribute, and am basically just staying out of the way until it's done. This is not a good place for me to be.
Until this job, I was accustomed to arriving at work and immediately diving into the flow of the day. "Flow" being a sense of focus and involvement, where I'm challenged but capable and can get lost in what I'm doing. It's a state I enjoy, that makes time pass more quickly and allows me to feel accomplished on a regular basis. Flow has a growth element, where tasks are equal to or somewhat greater than skill level. There is no flow in mundane or menial tasks. There is also no flow when the tasks are too far above current skill level.
HERE is NOT where I am right now. Some cards, I am challenged and can eventually find the solution. Some cards, like several I've picked up lately, I am challenged beyond my current knowledge and experience base. Not only is there no flow, I constantly feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall. I just don't know enough yet, and it's frustrating enough to make me question this path on a regular basis. I have to keep reminding myself to be patient, that I am learning and growing, albiet more slowly than I could wish. This is not an easy thing for ADD/OCD/Instant Gratification Girl.
One way I've found to remind myself I am actually growing is to track the cards I've done. In going through the physical cards, I realized I've completed about twice as many as I originally thought. Almost half of those have passed QA without failing at all (a personal goal I set for myself months ago). It's also possible to see the improvement curve in the cards that have failed, in the reasons they failed and the number of times they failed. 

Another is to track things on the blog. This is part of why I started blogging again: to track my accomplishments. It's easy to focus on the negatives and forget the successes. Writing about them not only impresses them in my memory, it also leaves a record I can refer to later, when I feel I'm making no progress. Being able to refer to successes will also help during glory memo time in the year end review process.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I may still be learning, but some things I already know

This quote has jumped out at me several times in the past few days. At the same time, I've had at least 2 conversations about a lifetime of learning, and what exactly that means. It's not just learning how to code or why pelicans stand on one leg. It's also making little tweaks in my daily life, and seeing what works.

Dietary tweaks this week include breakfast smoothies:
 4-5 ice cubes,
 ~2 cups water,
 ~4 cups of dark leafy greens,
 1 cup of frozen mixed berries,
 2 tbsp of THIS protein powder.

The protein powder by itself tastes pretty nasty, and a single serving is at least twice what I'm using. Mixed with the berries and greens though, it's good enough. It gets me hydrated first thing, and makes taking my supplements easier than with just water. I thought it would push my entire eating schedule back, but that hasn't been the case. I find I’m still hungry when I get to work, so that's when I have my hard boiled eggs. The biggest difference is in when I get hungry for lunch. That timeframe is now pushed back at least an hour, some days up to an hour and a half. Also, I find I don't get hungry until later in the afternoon and early evening. I'm not ready for dinner until at least 7.

I've gone back and forth about using the protein powder. The powders I can use are limited, because I can't use anything that adds iodine to my diet. It's not exactly Paleo or a whole food, but it is an easy way to get protein without too many calories. Not that I'm counting calories right now. I could add a raw egg to my smoothie, and have in the past. There is the whole salmonella issue with that, as well as the fact I'm already eating several eggs a day. I'm using the protein powder now, but am thinking about using just greens and berries and seeing how my eating schedule fares with that. I've also been digging around online for recipes, and may have to try some other variations as well:
Metabolism Boosting Smoothie: I'm trying to stay as close to Paleo as possible, in an attempt to heal my gut and possibly reduce the effects of my auto-immune disease. For this reason, I won't add yogurt or beans to my smoothies, though I’m sure they would taste wonderful. However, almonds and flaxmeal would give me some protein and keep me full for a time.  
Sweet Spinach Smoothie: You wouldn't know it by my diet this past week, but I’m trying to keep the carbs in check. For this reason, I won’t add both a pear and grapes to my smoothies. Avocado, however, would make them very smooth!  
Green Tea Smoothie: I would do this one with berries instead of grapes, and maybe try it without the honey first. 
 Introduction of the breakfast smoothie does not mean I've eaten entirely clean this week. Monday some 3rd party vendor showed up to thank our company for something or other, and brought 2 Costco shopping carts worth of candy. I didn't find it difficult at all to avoid the gluten and peanut options, but I've lost count of the Almond Joy and Peppermint Patties I've consumed in the past few days. I refuse to be upset at myself over this. I may still be learning, but some things I already know. First off, I know how I get around sugar, and I know how hard it is for me to resist when it's Sitting Right. There. This is who I am, and it doesn't make sense to get angry at myself for behaving the way I always behave. Second, because I don't keep it around, I rarely eat candy. This is not an every day occurrence. Third, I am not the only person eating the candy, and it will be gone from the office by the end of the week.
This is also the first week I've had a full batch of Kombucha brewed. The process (and my schedule) requires I bottle on Saturday, and the secondary fermenting isn't complete until at least Tuesday or Wednesday. This means I drank more sugar than I intended, early in the week. The yeast and bacteria consume the sugar, so more fermented tea has fewer carbs. Fermenting depends on sugar and acid content, time, and room temperature, which is why it can vary by a day or more. This batch came out to just over 4 gallons, which provides me with about 2 quarts/day. There should be some left over by the time I next bottle, so eventually I will have enough fully fermented tea to last until the next batch is fully fermented.

I learn more with every batch of tea. This week I tried using apple juice instead of the cranberry I used last week. I prefer the cranberry, and found it does not take as long to ferment as the apple. I also found, when using quart mason jars, the metal caps are not ideal. The fermentation caused the lids to bow, allowing some of the fizz to escape. Wal-Mart had plastic lids at one point, and I'm hoping I can find those again before next week's batch. I also need to leave more space at the top of the bottle or jar, so they don't overflow when I open them.
Because PRETTY!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Who I am vs. who I am in my head

I keep slamming up against a reality that differs greatly from how I see myself internally. I have frequently professed a love for life-long learning. I have spent time finding places to learn what I need to make my job easier, but have yet to spend any real time doing the actual learning. 
I'm going through a healthy eating program for my company's Vitality program. The program talks about self-image, and how uncomfortable it is to perform against your self image. According to the program, self image is made up of one's thoughts, beliefs, pictures, and emotions. Google defines it as "the idea one has of one's abilities, appearance, and personality." I've based my self image in part on high intelligence, the ability to pick things up quickly, and a strong work ethic. 

I've struggled with this image of myself since moving to the PD department. The last few weeks I've been frustrated and stumped time and again by problems at work. I've had to ask more than once how to do the same something, and at least once I was sure I was right even after having it demonstrated I was wrong. Because work is uncomfortable and intimidating, I find myself spending more and more time on the internet instead of my cards. None of these things sync well with my self-image.
I also see myself as someone who eats healthy, who exercises regularly, yet I can't understand why the combination does not result in a healthy body weight. I'm guessing the "ignore and deny" part of cognitive dissonance is in play here. I ignore the hundreds and hundreds of calories I consume in the evenings, when I'm eating because I'm tired and depressed rather than hungry. I might be eating "healthy" almonds and pistachios, but it doesn't matter how healthy when the number of calories regularly exceeds my daily needs.

Exercise has a similar dissonance. I do work out almost daily. Running is difficult right now for several reasons, so I rarely work up a sweat in the hour or so I'm on the treadmill. I lift or row, but again rarely to a point that makes me sweat. Then I wonder why I'm not seeing any benefits.
It's been said awareness of a problem is the first step toward solving said problem. So now I'm aware. While I don't like to think I have no control over my eating habits, I also know trying to control them simply causes me to implode and make things worse. The best approach I've found is to not have my trigger foods in the house. Couple that with a solid plan for portion control, and the odds are stacked more in my favor.
Regarding exercise, I'm adding intervals into every workout. They may be sprint intervals on the treadmill, if it's a day I can actually run. They may be lifting, or jump rope, or rowing. The deal is at least 10 hard pressed sets of whatever, with limited and timed rest in between. I need to get my heart rate up, then keep it up for a sustained period.

Another thing I'm working toward is joining a Crossfit gym. I originally joined my current gym for motivation purposes. I tend not to work out once I get home, and I tend to work harder when someone is there pushing me. I was excited with the list of available classes. Kickboxing. Zumba. Yoga. Unfortunately, the classes 1) are not at a time I can attend, or 2) are not good for my physical issues, or 3) cost extra. Kickboxing does not incorporate stretching, and consists of too much time on the balls of my feet. It took me almost 2 weeks to recover from one class! Zumba, TRX, and now Crossfit classes all cost extra, from $5 to $25 per class. I'm better off joining a Crossfit gym with access to coaches, trainers, and the type of classes I want to take, all for the same kind of money. Also, Crossfit offers the type of community I miss from my Tae Kwon Do days. My current gym has no community. People (myself included) come in, put their headphones on, and get their swole on without so much as a nod or smile hello.

Working out the financing for Crossfit is going to be a challenge. I have other financial goals I refuse to let slide. If I understand the website correctly, it's month to month with no contract. I believe I can manage this, depending on how often I can donate plasma. I should be able to pay for the month when I have the money, then go my current gym when I don't. My current gym is paid up through November, and I'll still use it the days it's the closer gym. Worst case, I can learn the lifts at the Crossfit gym, then do the WOD at my current gym until I can get back to the Crossfit gym.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Define "Important"

I've been thinking a lot lately about my lack of creativity and drive to learn, in relation to Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. I know there has been some disagreement with this model, but the idea stuck with me since I first read about it in Psych 101, way back in the early 90's. For those unfamiliar, the concept is that you can't address higher order needs like creativity and learning without first addressing lower order needs like food, shelter, and self esteem. In case I haven't been abundantly clear, I've been suffering from some esteem issues lately. I like to think they are getting better. I'm hoping to push the envelope a bit on addressing more than one need at a time.

I found out yesterday I'm supposed to have read Clean Code and The Clean Coder. Well, not "supposed to have" so much as they made this a requirement for all engineers after me. For me, it was "suggested" on a list of several others. I chose some of the others, because I feared the coding in these. For similar reasons, I also have "How to Think Like a Programmer" and "ReWork" on my list of books I need to read. 

I have yet to figure out where in my schedule I can fit reading. Or rather, where I can fit reading when I intend to retain what I've read. This past week, the closest I've come to learning (outside of the learning I'm doing daily in the course of my job) is to watch a YouTube video on Pompeii, and that I only watched half of while running on the treadmill. I have actual code I want to focus on, but haven't.

The author of Clean Code, "Uncle Bob" Robert C. Martin has apparently done video of the tenants in his books.  A quick YouTube search shows there are several hours of Google Clean Code Talks. If I'm going to watch videos while on the treadmill (when I'm running at home), I should choose these over RedBox Instant (which doesn't have any real selection anyway). I'll still want to read the books. I know I won't retain as much from the videos, especially since they won't have my full attention if I'm also running. 

So let's think about scheduling. Where can I fit in the learning I claim to want as a life-long pursuit?

I've been trying for the past few weeks to get up an hour early and work out before work. That is not happening, so getting up early to learn is also not likely. That leaves after work and weekends.

I'm not making it up early, so my workouts happen daily after work. Monday is a long workout. Tuesday and Thursday I also donate plasma, which takes about an hour to get to from work, then an hour to donate. Essentially, I get home from the gym between 8-9pm most days, except the days I spend at Superman's. Bedtime is 10pm. This does technically leave me an hour or two every day to study. Or write blogs. Or, as has happened lately, read Reddit.

I think it's time for the 15 minute rule. This used to work well for me, when applied to my sculpture. Essentially, I insist on spending at least 15 minutes studying/reading/learning every day. If it's not working for me that day, I can pack it up after 15 minutes. More likely to happen is, once I'm into the book/video/code, I'll look up a half hour or hour later, wondering where the time went. At least that's the hope, and how it worked with the sculpture.

I'll have to set this up for my art too, though it won't be every day. There's at least 15 minutes of set up and clean up involved in that. I'll have to make time on the weekends, which is an entirely different scheduling nightmare. What I can do, every day, is write or sketch out ideas I can then work on over the weekend. 
Not quite there, but getting there. The question is, what exactly is really important?