A Routine Life

So, those of you who have been longtime readers or followers of mine have gleaned at least a little bit about my job. I work for Yelp as a Community Manager right here on the ground in Northern VA.

While it generally speaking falls under the umbrella of “marketing”, this role is pretty unique, even amongst jobs at Yelp. It’s a full-time job (sometimes more than full-time, if I’m being honest), but I work remotely (even with the recent opening of Yelp’s DC office since I only go in once a week…ish, hehe) which means I have the incredible luxury of making my work situation pretty much whatever I want it to be.

Am I going into the office? Do I want to squat in a coffee shop all day? Put my desk at home to actual use? Or work from my couch with Parks & Rec playing through in the background for the 40th time? (YES, NETFLIX, I AM STILL WATCHING.) This freedom also extends to my schedule — I am not beholden to the same 9-5 situation to which many others have to adhere. And every day looks very different.

I might pop open my laptop first thing in the morning, head out for an in-person meeting, meet a friend for lunch, have back-to-back conference calls, and then have to go prep for an evening event. Maybe it is a day when I need to go into the actual office. Or I might sleep in, go out for coffee, run some errands, and then settle back in at my computer and work until late into the evening.

Anyway, I say all this not to brag about my job (which is admittedly awesome and I know I am very lucky to have it), nor did I intend for this post to be a deep-dive into what my daily life looks like (though this does remind me that I’ve been promising to write up another Day in the Life post for a long while now, lol.) I just thought that explaining what I do in a little more detail would help illustrate the point that I am trying to get at, which is this:

Because my life has so much flexibility, it also lacks any semblance of routine.

For over five years, I have rarely had to set an alarm clock. I don’t have a specific bedtime. I don’t eat meals at the same time each day. I don’t have a laundry day, or a meal prep day, or a date night. Save for a few rare regularly scheduled calls, my calendar never looks the same from one week to the next.

And for the better part of five years, it’s been pretty great. There have been tons of benefits that I have heartily taken advantage of — taking care of errands and appointments during the day, sleeping in, regularly getting to see my friends, and, of course, getting to be around my daughter so much more than the typical full-time working mom.

But it’s a double-edged sword, right? Because with all of those perks also comes the burden of not being able to predict how a given day might go, not being able to slide into the familiarity or comfort of “your old routine.” Which, granted, hasn’t really been an issue until lately.

But lately, I’ve been feeling pretty down, and thanks to the prodding of some of friends, I finally took the initiative to find a therapist to talk to — something I honestly should have been doing for a long time now. I have only just started therapy, but already in our short time together she has helped me realize how frazzled and frantic and overwhelmed I am. And while I’m sure it’s really, really common, especially for new moms, it’s still not something I like to admit. I mean, who loves admitting that they no longer know how to handle just like, life? Especially given all of the advantages that I have — a perfect baby, a husband, close family, a decent salary, all that aforementioned flexibility… I know I have a really good situation overall. Which is why it was kind of hard for me to admit that I’ve been feeling depressed & overwhelmed in the first place — because it’s like, with all the privileges I am afforded, I should have no reason not to be happy.

(Sidenote: My therapist did tell me to stop “shoulding on myself” (heh.) Like, to stop saying things like “I feel like I shouldn’t even feel this way because I have it so good!”or “I should just be happy because there are other people who have it so much worse,” since my struggles are my struggles and my feelings are still valid. This is actually a rather difficult concept for me to digest, and one I think I’m going to need to let percolate a little more before I really try and dig into it, but I digress.)

I know I’m not the first woman to feel like she is being pulled in a thousand different directions and finding it hard to cope. I think we’re all trying to find some way to balance all of the various roles we have to play: mother, wife, homemaker, daughter, sister, friend, coworker, manager, employee — and that doesn’t even touch the roles we form around our hobbies and interests: writer, blogger, photographer, advocate, bookworm, crafter, gamer… and ten zillion more.

I’ve been able to identify that the loosey-goosey, whatever, whenever approach I’ve had towards work (and towards my life in general) is currently adding to my feelings of overwhelm…ed…ness? And that I’m actually craving some structure, predictability, and routine.

Penny has actually already helped in this arena, quite a lot. I mean, sure, in the beginning, she made things even more frantic and crazy and unpredictable. But both Sean and I recognize that we are supremely lucky to have such a good baby. She sleeps well, she eats well, and she has a strong internal clock that has given me at least a modicum of a routine when it comes to her.

But I have a lot further to go. I need to create boundaries — my work & home & social lives all kind of blend and bleed together, and even though I have what’s considered a “lifestyle job,” I need to realize that it’s okay for those things to be a little more separate. I need to figure out how to focus on one thing at a time, be mindful of my current task, and then allow myself to move onto the next one. When it’s time to work, I want to be able to focus on work. When I’m catching up with a friend, I want to be able to focus on my friend. When it’s time to be with Penny, I really want to be able to focus on feeding/snuggling/playing with Penny.

Basically, I just want to do less of what I currently do, which is hard to even articulate properly but is a little more like… this:

*opens laptop* Okay, time to answer these emails about the event I have happening tomorrow, and then I’ll do the ones having to do with next week’s event, oh, next week I’m also going back to Atlanta, I need to call Southwest and add Penny as a lap infant to my ticket *opens tab to Southwest.com* Hmm, do I have time to get a pedicure before I go, oh crap, by the time I come back my car registration will have expired, I need to get my emissions test done *opens tab to Google gas station’s inspection hours* okay, scrap the pedicure, I don’t need to spend the money on that anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve checked Mint, better see where we’re at with this month’s budget *opens tab to Mint.com* oh man, there’s the tab to my Nordstrom cart, the Anniversary Sale is ending soon and this is SUCH good deal on Baby Bling Bows, maybe I should check out — no! I told myself no more baby bows *closes out of tab* *finally sends one email*

Ahem. So, you know, that’s not great.

Anyway, my “homework” from my initial therapy session is a two-parter: 1) to start thinking of ways that I can create structure and routine for my daily life, and 2) to try (tryyyyyy) to be more mindful, focused, and in-the-moment as I go through the day. I definitely have my work cut out for me with the latter part, but I feel like I’ve already been laying the groundwork for the former. Especially as my recent health initiative has me embracing a kind of morning to-do list, made up of things I should have been doing ALL ALONG FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE like eating breakfast & taking vitamins.

 
Plus, like I mentioned, Penny has me following at least some kind of loose structure at the beginning of each day — it’s just get a smidgen more complicated because while we have a steady childcare schedule, it’s not consistent from day to day. So the mornings when she goes to daycare are different than the mornings when she’s with my parents or mother-in-law.

My idea to help overcome this is to officially integrate fitness into my routine (I almost said “back into my routine” but who are we kidding? I’ve never had a true fitness routine hahaha.) For like, the first time in my entire life, I’m actually feeling a kind of… dare I say… desire to exercise. (Ew.) I don’t know if it’s coming from my weight loss, or because my therapist suggested or out of my postulations that I want to get healthy for Penny (I’m particularly concerned about my longterm heart health right now — but mayhaps I’ll delve into that at another time), but whatever the exact reason, I figure I need to capitalize on this rare, completely-out-of-character motivation.

So I went online and signed up for a free pass to a nearby gym this morning, and am doing the same at another one on Friday. Both facilities have kid’s clubs and are close by, so my hope is that I’ll be able to create a morning routine where I go to the gym at around the same time every morning — on the days when Penny is in daycare, I’ll drop her off first, and on the days when she isn’t, I’ll bring her with me. The rest of my day might still end up looking like a trash panda straight-up ripped into the garbage bag of my life, but at least I’ll be starting each off day with consistency and on the right foot.

This sounds great in theory, of course, but my visit to the first gym today (Gold’s) unfortunately didn’t leave me with a great impression. Partly because their kid’s club was insane — there was 1 adult and like 25 kids in there — and partly because of my own insecurities and discomfort over a) working out at all, and b) working out in public. But while that gym would have been my first choice based on location (it’s suuuuuper close to Penny’s daycare), I have high hopes for the second one. And I’m also looking into non-gym alternatives like boutique fitness places that offer childcare and Fit4Mom Stroller Strides. As long as I can hodgepodge them together into some kind of cohesive, regular routine.

Anyway, so that’s the latest in Gretchen’s Journey to Self-Improvement & Sanity™. I’m still feeling pretty positive and optimistic about being able to make lasting changes, but I’m trying to remain relatively guarded about it as well. Knowing my tendency to jump headfirst into things, only to abandon them later, I want to make sure I’m making manageable changes, and for the right reasons this time. That way, I hopefully really will be able to say I’m making positive changes to last me a lifetime.

Go forth!

Year of the Ram

Happy Chinese New Year, friends!

Yesterday marked the first day of the Year of the Ram (or Sheep or Goat, depending on who you ask!), so allow me to wish you all a year of prosperity, good health, and great times! As most of you know, I am half-Chinese, so Chinese New Year is usually a big deal in my household, but this year my parents are out of the country so I had to make due with my own mini-celebration.

 
And by mini-celebration, I mean that ate some hand-pulled noodles at Lotus Garden with friends. Heeeeee.

Speaking of celebrations, I have another exciting thing to celebrate this week:

I got my BRACES OFF!!!!!!!

 
I’ve had lingual braces for the past year-and-change, which means I had braces behind my top set of teeth. So while you couldn’t actually see them, I DEFINITELY knew they were there. And now they’re gone! Well, replaced with a permanent retainer, so there is still a little something behind my chompers, but nothing nearly as intrusive as those big metal brackets. So here’s to a new year of not getting food stuck in my braces anymore!

In other news, Yelp’s Fit Club is still chugging along, and this week has so far given me the chance to try out an Ayengar yoga class. And tomorrow I toy with fate by attending my very first [solidcore] class, which I hear is supposed to be the most difficult workout of your life. No big deal. And then, as if that weren’t enough, I have another fitness event on Sunday — a bootcamp-style workout at The Worx by Maia. WHEW.

Good thing I’ve been doing P90 for the past six weeks, otherwise I wouldn’t even be in good enough shape to make it through my own fitness classes, hahahaha.

So I guess you can look forward to hearing about all those various different workouts next week… if I survive, that is! And have a great weekend in the meantime, folks!

P90: 30 Day Update

So, last we left off in my P90 saga, I had just entered my third week. I am now at the point where I’ve just finished Week 5, which included my 30 day weight and measurement update. I also spoke a little bit about feeling off in my fourth week, which caused me to take two days off from the whole six-days-a-week workout thing. Alas, I’m sort of embarrassed to report I haven’t really recovered from that.

Fortunately (and somewhat shockingly), I have still been working out and following the program, I just haven’t quite managed to get myself back up to doing it every single day. It’s been more like every other day which, granted, is better than nothing at all, but still not what I’m “supposed” to be doing.

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Somewhat ironically, given the name of this blog, I’m really having a hard time finding that in-between when it comes to working out. It appears to be all or nothing with me. So, once I let myself have a break, it becomes all that much easier to continue allowing myself to do so. And unfortunately, with me hopping on a plane today to head down to Savannah for the next couple of days for work, I’m not sure this issue is going to fix itself quite yet (though I am bringing workout gear so I can hit that hotel gym at least once.)

Thankfully, finally starting a new set of P90 workouts (I’m officially in “Phase B”) is indeed helping with ramping my motivation back up a little. I admit that just doing the exact same workout in the same order with the same jokes over and over did get a little bit taxing, and so far I’m liking Phase B a lot more because there’s no more “intro” talk — Tony knows that you’re already a month into the program, so he jumps right into things a bit more, and I appreciate that.

Regardless of how things have been waning slightly over the past week or so, I was pretty vigilant for those first 30 days, at least, so let’s see where that got me, eh? I took my measurements and some photos on Day 1, and again on Day 30, as recommended. While photo progress appears to have been minimal, as has my actual weight loss (I’m down about 4 pounds, which, on the one hand, hooray! But on the other, womp womp), I have made a bit of progress measurement-wise. So, without further adieu:

Day 1 (1/7/2015)
Chest: 43″
Waist: 38″
Arms (R/L): 15.5″/15″
Thighs (R/L): 30.5″/30″

Day 30 (2/10/2015)
Chest: 42.5″
Waist: 37″
Arms (R/L): 14″/14″
Thighs (R/L): 29″/29″

So, basically an inch off of everywhere, which might not be anything groundbreaking or Biggest Loser worthy, but I’ll take it! I do wish I had taken my hips/butt measurement back on Day 1 (it wasn’t prompted in the little P90 booklet so I kind of forgot about it) but I did measure it on Day 30, so we’ll see what progress is made in that department on Day 60. And hopefully by then I’ll have made enough visible progress that I’m down with sharing some not-sucking-it-in photos, hahahaha.

The workouts in Phase B are definitely more intense than those in Phase A (still with lots of options for modifications, which I am taking advantage of), so maybe my fitness level will start being ramped up even faster, doing more intensive work? Provided I actually get back to DOING it the full six days a week, that is. And outside of P90, since Yelp’s Fit Club is also this month, I’ve got a ton of other cool workouts (yoga, kempo, pilates, bootcamp, and more!) to throw into the mix to keep things interesting — and to keep me on track.

Speaking of which, my first Yelp’s Fit Club fitness class was on Friday!

Northern Virginia Yelpers gathered together for a Zumba-esque dance workout called Sweatvibes! And it KICKED. MY. ASS. In the best way possible, of course! Sweatvibes is an hour of super loud, super pumped up, super high energy dance cardio, and it was a TON of fun. And seriously, what a great workout — I was definitely sore the next day! All that arm-pumping really does you in, man! Thank goodness I’ve already been working out for the past month, otherwise I’m not sure I would have even gotten through the whole hour, haha.

 
Too bad my Fitbit is half-broken, so I only got like half-credit for sweating my butt off. So bitter… because if we know anything, it’s that if you didn’t take a picture/log it/post about it on Facebook, it didn’t happen, right? 😉

Aaaanyway, now it’s off to Savannah for me! I’m probably in the air as you read this, in fact! Here’s hoping I have the strength not to simply bathe in buckets of sweet tea and butter for the next two days, hehe. And I’ll see you on the flipside!

You’re Invited to: Yelp’s Fit Club!

Soooo, I know it might not seem like it, but I try not to brag about my super awesome job all the time. Even though working for Yelp as a Community Manager here in Northern Virginia is literally the most perfect thing that has ever happened to me, I really do try to restrain myself from, say, recapping every single Elite Event that I host. ‘Cause, you know, I can kinda see how that’d get annoying, heh.

But, every now and then, something comes along that’s so awesome that I just can’t quite hold it in. And it just so happens that one of those awesome things is, well, happening next month… and you’re invited!

Introducing Yelp’s Fit Club!

Yelp's Fit Club DMV

Yelp’s Fit Club is a promotion that I’ve been working on with my fantabulous coworkers Kimberly (DC) and Mike (Maryland) to bring together an entire month of super fun health + fitness events all across the DMV! We’ve partnered with really great local businesses to put together a full schedule of greatness: we’re talking yoga classes, nutrition challenges, dance workouts, healthy eats meetups, and more!

And the very best part? It’s all F-R-E-E!

Thaaat’s right! All you have to do is RSVP on Yelp.com via your (also free) Yelp account. Want to bring friends? The more, the merrier! Just have them do the same thing on their own Yelp accounts. You’ll receive email confirmations after you RSVP to each event with further instructions and details.

Since most New Year’s resolutions tend to start to wane (shocker!) by the time February rolls around, we figured that it’d the perfect time to do something big health- and fitness-wise. Plus, given that February is American Heart Month, even if you’re not looking to slim down or tone up, coming out to a Fit Club event is just a great way to get your blood pumping!

Blood, Yelp, and Tears!

 

If you live in the DMV area, I would lovelovelove to get my sweat on (or healthy eats on) with you at one of these events! I’ll be at every event that’s taking place in Northern VA (guess it’s a good thing I’ve been working out so much lately, eh?), so I hope to see you there! You can check out the entire list of events here.

Oh, and even if you’re not local to the DC Metro region, you should check Yelp Events to see if Yelp’s Fit Club is happening where you live! Other Community Managers across the country are also hosting Yelp’s Fit Club (or a variation of it) around now, including Orange County, Tampa Bay, NC Triangle, Cleveland, Detroit, Ottawa, and even Honolulu!

In the meantime, I hope everyone has an awesome weekend! Personally, I’m pretty pumped for what this weekend has in store: tonight I’m seeing The Tempest at GMU with my pops, tomorrow Sean and I are celebrating our 3-year anniversary (a few days early), and on Sunday, well, I plan on playing a loooooot of Little Big Planet 3. 😉

See you guys on the flipside!

P90: 2.5 Weeks In

Wellps, I’m a little over two weeks into the P90 program and somehow, miraculously, defying all logic and precedence, I’m still going strong.


Despite the scale-related setbacks that I’ve been experiencing, I’m actually starting to feel pretty great about having set up an actual fitness routine (though, as I explained yesterday, it’s not really that routine yet… but at least I’m still fitting it into my day somewhere!) and the slow improvements I’m making with the various moves in P90 Sculpt and Sweat A.

I still find myself following the modifier for a lot of things, like the press jacks (actual jumping jacks are kinda hard on my bazoombas), pushups, walking planks, and ab stuff, though even that is an improvement on where I was when I started. I didn’t really talk about this in my initial Week 1 update, but even though P90 is the “beginner” videos, I still found myself needing to modify some of the modifier’s moves at first.

There are a lot of moves that require you to be able to hold a plank in order to complete the move (sprawls, walking planks, the half-pushups), and I wasn’t really able to do them well, even following the modifier (which mainly meant just doing the moves slower or less deep). So I’d have to do the half-pushups on my knees instead of on my feet, or just try to hold a plank through the sprawls instead of actually, y’know, sprawling.

But now I’m pretty much doing the full moves as prescribed, and even upping my game and following the non-modified folks in the video, especially with the mixed martial arts moves and cardio. Hoorah!


Just another week and a half of the “A” videos and I’ll be able to move onto Phase B. Which is good, because as I suspected might happen, I am admittedly starting to get a little bit annoyed with watching the exact same video every other day.

Mostly it’s Tony Horton’s “dad jokes” that are starting to make me a little stabby. There’s this one joke that he makes in the Sculpt A video — one of the workout guys in the video’s name is Jim. So when he’s introducing the folks, he goes something like, “Jim! Jim Beam came to work out. Jack & Jim went up the hill to fetch a pail of… liquor!” *cue forced laughter from workout folks* Then Tony continues, “No, they fetched a pail of Shakeology! That’s what they did!” and that’s when my eyes get their own little workout because they are rolling SO HARD.

I’m thinking that I might start doing the videos with the captions + put on my own music, since at this point I think I’ve done the moves enough that I don’t need to really watch the screen to remember how to do them, I just need the cues to know when to move on to the next one.

Anyway, it’s not so bad that I’m tempted to stop watching (yet), since it is somehow gratifying to go through the same cycle of moves because I get better at doing them each time. I’ve also learned a few additional things about this workout so far that I thought I might share:

  • I am finding I like using dumbbells more than the resistance bands during strength moves. The resistance band handles hurt my wrists a bit, and it’s kind of awkward to attach the band to a door hinge because it means I have to do the resistance moves at a little bit of an angle.
  • I think I need a better/thicker mat — my tailbone hurts doing some of the ab moves (especially those targeting my lower abs, which require the use of my legs). I’ve cracked my tailbone once and bruised it twice in my life (I fall down stairs a lot…) so maybe this isn’t a problem that most people have, but I’m definitely thinking I need some more cushioning. Even doubling up my mat doesn’t seem to do enough, so I definitely think I need a thicker mat. Working out on carpet might also be a solution for this, but I have hardwood floors so womp womp.
  • As I mentioned before, in addition to the Sculpt and Sweat videos, there’s also one called “Saturday Special” that you do on, well, Saturdays. Duh. It’s a lot more intense, and still requires a lot of modification for me, but I think this makes sense since it’s the same video throughout the entire 90-day program, not just Phase A.
  • I’m really pleased with how immensely doable P90 is on a daily basis. The time really flies (God bless that countdown timer!) and before you know it, you’re done and you feel nice and sweaty even though it’s only been 28 – 34 minutes. It’s such a short amount of time that I have also started adding in a little bit of additional strength work afterwards if I have some extra time.

Anyway, even with Tony’s annoying dad jokes starting to get on my nerves, I’m still pretty happy with having started the program (as a reminder, I’m just following the fitness plan, not the nutrition plan — I’m not using Shakeology or anything), and while I’m definitely not in fighting shape by any means yet (dude, it’s only been two and a half weeks, haha) I am already seeing differences in my physical capabilities. Which, frankly, is surprising to me because I didn’t actually think progress would be noticeable after only two weeks. But I guess that’s because I’ve never paid attention before! Or, maybe it’s because I’ve never actually worked out this much before. Your guess is as good as mine. 😉