How do you find time amidst the chaos?

Successful workaholics know exactly what company to keep on a hectic Tuesday afternoon…

Duncan at Home

Question to the workaholics out there –  how do you get back on track when you are completely consumed by work and personal commitments?

More to come on managing the chaos the Spring/Summer seems to bring…this workaholic fell off the balance bandwagon for about week and is hastily attempting to get back on track

Onboarding Graduate – why haven’t you put yourself out there yet?

A debrief on the last 2 weeks…

• 6 onboarding classes
• 80 wall balls
• 300 jump ropes
• 60 box jumps
• Too many squats to count…

…But in the end, this newbie finally graduated from the first step in the crossfit journey. And what do I have to show for it? Well at the moment, my victory consists of tired legs, but the overall payoff, even in only 6 classes, looks a little something like this:

• Increased energy and focus at work
• Fostering new friendships
• Noticeable improvement in flexibility and mobility
• Consistently left work at or before 5:00pm 3 nights a week
• Improved work-life balance

Personal-Achievement-PrinciplesNow I will be the first to admit that these improvements are not something specific to crossfit, but they can be achieved with any extracurricular activity that sparks your inner passion. Maybe that passion is cooking, maybe it’s yoga, maybe it’s pottery and heck during some weeks, maybe your passion is just plain old silence. The moral of the story—if you were like me—chained to your desk/iPhone/laptop—it’s time to do some sampling and get yourself out there—this should be the year you take back fun and try something new.

What’s the harm in trying something new? And why worry about what others may think or say? What I have noticed over the last week is that my choice in extracurricular activities has sparked a number of comments, jokes and inquiries over, but in the end many of my friends and coworkers have been more than supportive.

Reward Yourself
After putting myself out there, I thought, what about a few small rewards—so why not finda few new items to keep that spark alive?

1. Crazy about capris
After swinging by the outlets last weekend—these Reebok capris made their way into my bag Caprisand who doesn’t enjoy a little wimsy in their workout attire? Even if crossfit isn’t your shtick, you still may want check out your local Reebok outlet, as these capris were only $17 (with the help of the AAA card, which I never used before and never saw any use in until recently)

Can’t get to an outlet? Why not cruise the following sites for your own flair:
Reebok: http://www.reebok.com/us/women-pants-apparel
Amazon: http://smile.amazon.com/Reebok-Womens-Print-Capri-Pragmatic/dp/B00KG7TJRW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1426730020&sr=8-2&keywords=reebok%2520capri

2. Tank top for warmer weather runs

Tank top 2Thanks to the help of Pinterest, I found the tank top below—I have always gravitated to and enjoyed running; however, being a fair-weather fan, it’s a hobby I enjoy when the outside temperature registers at a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit
Reasons to take a look: in addition to the handy iPod pocket, it also boasts a no chafe, no rid-up design

Disclaimer: This company is still quite new and only recently secured a manufacturer for their popular tank top with pocket and sports bar with pocket—but having worn it for a few runs (on the treadmill because it’s only about 25 degrees here this week)—I will say it is a piece worth waiting for.

Where to find it: https://www.graciesgearandtraining.com/store/gracies-gear-long-tank/

The Proof is in the PVC

So you have started a journey down the crossfit road—and you get the hang of box jumps, wall-balls, and even double unders—but then your trainer breaks out the barbell and your knees begin to shake.  (Note: for demos and links, locate the orange text throughout the post)

But who would have thought the trick to mastering some of the toughest crossfit moves is PVCPVC Pipes piping or even a broomstick? I would venture to guess that these household objects probably don’t immediately come to mind when many think about a typical crossfit routine.

Over the past week, I have completed 4 classes as part of my initial crossfit onboarding—my trainer has broken down, demonstrated and critiqued several routines involving the infamous barbell. At the heart of each exercise is a 2 minute practice with a 6 foot PVC pipe—not-so glamourous and slightly humbling, but extremely helpful to master the movement before using the real deal. And for the gentlemen out there—this technique was something each trainer required both men and women in the onboarding group to do before moving up to the bar.

This PVC was even used to stretch before some of the tougher workouts and helped to build my confidence with the actual barbell, because at the end of the day, the goal is to learn the move without dropping the bar and weights on your head. Don’t have a 6 foot PVC pipe lying around the house? Why not try a broomstick or mop, so long as they’re clean?

Interested in giving it a try and not entirely sure where to start? Why not try these videos from Reebok and other crossfit trainers?
1. Reebok Sumo Deadlift
2. Reebok Overhead Squat
3. PVC Stretches

After 4 days of onboarding I also learned that when it comes to shoes, the type of sneaker does actually matter—at least for lifting.

Newbies generally don’t have to worry about outfitting yourself head to toe in crossfit gear—so if you’re a runner who’s looking to branch out with crossfit, your Asics or Nikes will work perfectly fine for most of the crossfit workouts. However, I did see a difference when it came to lifting.

When you have the barbell with weights above your head, the one thing you want is a stable base—something you may not necessarily feel with running shoes, due to the cushioning in the sole. Instead, there are weight-lifting shoes that will help to stabilize you and surprisingly, you don’t have to spend all that much on them.

Crossfit ShoesI happened to stumbled upon a 2 for the price of 1 sale at the Reebok outlet outside of Boston and ended up with the 2 pairs of crossfit shoes shown to the left—the orange ones for lifting and the electric blue ones for all other exercises (i.e. wall balls, double unders, etc.).

Here are some other options to try if you are in the market:
1. For the Amazon Prime members out there
2. Some great sales and deals on East Bay’s site

As I drove home from crossfit last night—after a long week at work—I realized I actually had much more energy than the week before and while the temperatures are warming up and the snow is melting, I have to think one of the major contributors to this new found energy has to be crossfit.

And after reflecting on this last week, I am slowly starting to understand why this fitness method has taken off and why there are some strong believers out there—

It’s easy to make the time – only 50-55 minutes, warm-up to finish

The trainers and members are beyond supportive – everyone encourages each other and I can’t remember getting more high-fives in my entire life

You can do the moves – with proper onboarding, even the most novice of folks can muscle through 14 straight minutes of rotations consisting of 50 double unders, 10 box jumps and 10 burpees (note—this was the onboarding WOD as part of yesterday’s workout and trust me it’s as tough as you want to make it for yourself)

It’s my excuse to leave work at a decent hour – I have consistently left at 5pm on crossfit days, which has been liberating and helped to foster a more balanced feeling at the end of a hectic work day for this workaholic

Here’s to week 2—only one more week until I can enter the regular classes!

When all else fails, get the heck out of dodge

“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you have been taking.” – Earl Wilson

 

What’s your last resort when you are in need of a break?  How about a little vacation–preferably somewhere sunny and warm after over 100 inches of snow in the last month

The miracle of this mini 5-day family-filled vacation for this workaholic is the fact that at this very moment, all real connections to work are approximately 2,000 miles north in my home office.  Goodbye laptop, goodbye daily status meetings, goodbye babysitting and hello freedom.

Sometimes no matter how you try and put a bandaid on the stresses of work, the only way to really hit the reset button–or sometimes feels like the panic button–is to pack your bags and get the heck out of dodge.  Out of sight, out of mind–out of luck unless you can truly unplug from the constant borage of emails, phone calls, meetings and multitasking.

Setting boundaries with bosses, coworkers and even loved ones may feel a little awkward for some workaholics and control freaks–like yours truly–but something as small as an out of office reply for your work email can help those needy worker bees self soothe in your absence but can also put your mind at rest.  I liken my out of office reply to a formal disclaimer—“expect delays” or even “I will return all emails upon my return” are glorious phrases that can send a clear signal to most professionals and while they may be envious, ultimately we all recognize the importance of a vacation.

The other key to cutting the cord with work–back up plans–while we all know we are entitled to utilize our allotted vacation time, sometimes it can be hard to imagine our team members providing guidance in our absence.  The truth- with so much red tape at work, the obvious fact you must realize: nothing will burn to the ground and people will survive.

My challenge over the last few months at a new company has been consistency and structure and somehow I felt this pit feeling in my stomach at the very thought of asking for time off, but the company survived pre-April and can certainly survive sans April for 3 working days. Luckily, I have a very supportive boss who recognizes that burn out is a real possibility without ample breaks from the organized chaos–and after working 80 hour weeks for several months while trying to balance a personal life, my burn out point was becoming visible on the near horizon.

If you are also a workaholic, do you have enough self awareness to identify the factors that contribute to or can see your burn out point?  A serious question you have to ask yourself before you come home one night from work and binge on ice cream, wine or chocolate and wake up feeling completely unrested and restless.

So you’re at the same juncture of being burnt out–now what?

Well luckily the Internet is full of wonderful outlets for vacation planning and deals, in addition to stay-cation ideas:

1. Cheap Carribean — yes I realize this sounds like an Internet scam, but after hearing stories from close friends who have taken the leap, I’m a believer (Website)

2. Trip Advisor– my vacation website staple for things from restaurants to the real scoop on hotels in every locale under the sun.  It may even be a great resource for stay-cation ideas in and around your area–new neighborhood gems pop up everyday

3. Why not try a blog for additional ideas?  Beats the office on WordPress is one of my favorites and why notj just take a look right? (Beats the Office website)

So let’s do this–I’m off to Florida for some family time and rest from my professional life–what are you waiting for?

In the words of Winnie the Pooh– TTFN

Junk in January

After watching an episode of Tiny House nation on FYI, I thought “I could certainly live that lifestyle” but after a glance in our upstairs closet–affectionately referred to as No Man’s Land in our house–I realized that we were fostering useless relics. Now I come from a long line of neat freaks and I can say that I’ve always been a fan of periodically purging but after 4 months of birthdays, Christmas, a new job and just no spare time, I thought it was only fitting to tackle No Man’s Land and several other sneaky hiding spots for all things clutter.

The timing wasn’t altogether coincidence, as part of my January no-spend challenge was to review and reassess. Why? As per several no-spend resources, it is helpful to go through your things, and I mean all your things, and determine what is needed, what makes you happy, and what items that had previously brought joy but had lost their luster. After 3 hours of going through the closet, every drawer, cabinet and bin, I had amassed a small pile of success on my dining room table. The scary truth of this expedition: I have plenty of personal items–further reinforcing the notion that mindless spending (pre no-spend challenge) was only adding to this mountain of purged household goods–otherwise known as a waste of money.

Part of the rebalancing act as a workaholic is to identify and conquer the crutches we all use to achieve temporary satisfaction that generally have no correlation to actual solution. Ever had a bad morning at work and decide you deserve a treat because the world has wronged you? (Hoping for honest internal monologues here) I am a guilty of this reward system and the result has been countless trips to Home Goods, Starbucks, Marshall’s and even Cupcake City (amazing cupcakes but not for this reason)–downstream impact: a house full of stuff–not meaningful, thoughtful tangible goods but rather visual confirmation that a rebalance is needed. My January no-spend challenge has forced me to find alternatives to sooth the sting of a hectic morning like taking a walk around the floor, or listening to classical music in our company’s sleep pods (amazing employee perk). It’s taken some getting used to but I’ve learned to appreciate just silence when it feels like the world is tumbling down. What a novel concept.

Next up- the miracle garment for every work out…

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