May 30, 2013

Yup, this is tough

That's been my thought off and on this week. More off than on, happily, but it's still a struggle: Sugar is everywhere, and cutting it out of a diet is a time-intensive, detail-minding task.

Probably most frustrating so far, however, is that there are no results to really speak of so far. Sure, I know it's only been 48 hours, so obviously I'm not shedding inches yet. And while I do feel a bit more energy as I go about each day, I'm not overwhelmed by "healthy" vibes. Yet.

I've only got 22 hours left in this round of the "cleanse" -- and I'm already pondering a "Part Deux" for next week. Should I start Saturday? Monday? (Sunday's a cheat day, no matter what, in my opinion.) I'll see how I'm feeling.

May 29, 2013

"Lean In," Part 2 (or chapters 3 thru 6)

It’s OK to Cry in the Bathroom

(Or, apparently, in front of your boss.)

One of the thing’s I don’t like about discussions of women in business is that there tends to be some sort of “be more like a man to succeed” thread in them. We’re often taught that being successful is being aggressive, outspoken, bold and, relevant to today’s review, buttoned up -- and while these qualities aren’t limited to men, society seems to perceive that men exemplify them.

Sandberg does, I think, a great job of illustrating this -- and, I think, of arguing, however subtly, that business might be better if we also embrace the strengths of a woman’s personality.

For instance, showing emotion. Yes, even crying.

Let me say, upfront, that I’m not advocating a tissue-holding sob fest every week at the office. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could regard the occasional cry as a simple fact of everyday life, as some of the workers featured in “Lean In” seem to?

When I was just starting out in my newspaper career, I moved between internships every few months. During one such transition, I had a mini-breakdown. I was exhausted from (yet again) packing up my belongings and saying good-bye to everyone I’d just met -- and, worst of all, I was suffering from a major case of writer’s block. I had only one assignment left to finish, but I just couldn’t pull it together. It was a professional crisis, but one completely blurred by my personal struggles around moving.

Worst of all, my editor -- who I can now see was up against pressures and deadlines of her own -- was bearing down on me, insisting I finish the piece, sprinkling in the type of fear-inspiring “or else!” statements that are so common in newsrooms. (That’s a post for another day on another blog, I’m sure.)

I was on the verge of cracking for a day or two, and then I finally did -- in my editor’s office, during another round of “When is going to be done?” questioning.

The thing is, though I don't cry often -- or perhaps because I don't cry often -- I didn’t think this was so unusual. That is, I didn't until someone else made a comment along the lines of, “Oh, it’s never a good idea to cry in front of the boss.”

What was the big deal? I was upset, needed sleep (my time management skills, believe it or not, were even worse in those days, resulting in all-night packing expeditions each time I moved) and I was truly frustrated that I couldn’t pull that last piece together. Of course I cried!

I hated that this was seen as a sign of weakness. Women do cry, and I’m glad of it. Someone should! It shows that we’re plugged in, that we’re connected -- and often, that we’re striving to do good.

During a more recent transition, I broke down -- in private this time -- over my laptop one night. I was completely overwhelmed by new partnerships at work, new client relationships and new responsibilities -- and I was alone, in a hotel room, on a business trip. I was feeling like I must be the only one who couldn’t handle a new role until a coworker, also dealing with new responsibilities, chatted me to ask if we could go for a walk: She was crying, too!

Were we bad at our jobs? No! In fact, I was promoted just a few months after that mini-breakdown. But I was intensely frustrated by my job -- to which I am, in turns out, intensely connected. No one was harmed by the tears I shed that day -- and, in fact, I was probably helped by them. In admitting I was overwhelmed, I was able to connect with a friend -- and we worked together to sort out what we were individually struggling with.

Along with Sandberg, I hope that companies will continue to encourage workers to bring their whole selves to work -- emotions and all, men and women. Who wants to work in an stodgy, dry place where no one ever gets upset?

May 28, 2013

A no-sugar gift to self

Well, it's that time of year again. This Friday, I celebrate my "golden" birthday, turning 31 on the 31st. (Nifty, huh? I only just realized this.)

Last year, on the six months running up to my 30th birthday, I went through a major revisiting of my life: my career, my hobbies, my apartment (which I redecorated) -- pretty much everything except my love life (still very happily married to my husband of nearly three years). I was on my best behavior: Dressed up for work each day, eating well, exercising, organizing my "free" time so that I could write and craft my heart out. I was a woman on a mission.

This year, I find myself in an odd situation, having accomplished several of my missions. I've written. I've traveled. I've spent enough energy (and money) on redecorating for now. I've even found a new role at work! Now I want to relax -- and not like a drink at happy hour or a picnic outside. We're talking wanting to wear yoga pants to work everyday, wanting to eat junk food whenever I so please and wanting to watch TV and read books as much as my little heart desires.

Not all of these things are necessarily bad, of course. I work at a tech company, where yoga pants are acceptable (if not exactly great for career progression), and reading is an arguably healthy habit (if it doesn't result in spending all day in bed in PJs). But overall, I'm leaning on serotonin binges. It's not healthy. I've spent the last month of my 30th year being a little lazy and, yes, gaining a little weight. It's not a trend I'd like to continue.

So as a birthday gift to self this week, I'm spending the last three days of my 30th year on a sugar cleanse. I'll hate everyone for the next 68 hours, but I think it'll be worth it. I did this successfully only once before, when I was trying to figure out what was upsetting my tummy by following a strict "elimination" diet for 10 days (read: rice, veggies, lean cuts of chicken) -- and I felt amazing when I was done.

This week I'm just focusing on no added sugars: no corn syrup, no brown sugar, no raw sugar, no agave, no honey. I'm allowing myself to have fruit (baby steps, people!) and dried fruit as needed in "crisis" mode. It sounds, on paper, like not a huge step -- but if I listed out all the added-sugar foods I'd had in the past three days, I'm sure most of you would be horrified. I know I am.

Three days isn't quite enough, but I'm not going to kid myself about this weekend. I fully intend to eat birthday cake and drink birthday cocktails (or at least some champagne) to celebrate. But maybe after getting my sugar surges out of my system, I'll be able to get through the festivities with fewer slices of cake -- and in, or at least en route to being in, my favorite jeans.

And perhaps that will be enough inspiration to continue.