Read Well: Women at Work

Image via The Huffington Post

This past weekend, during a routine, mindless period spent clicking through internet links, I ran across Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant's series of essays entitled "Women at Work." While I'm always up for a thoughtful New York Times piece (who isn't?), this series in particular piqued my interest because I find the topic of implicit biases in human interaction fascinating, particularly (and somewhat selfishly) when those biases affect women.

The pair have released three of four planned essays so far: one covering the dangers of educating about biases, the next about the problems women encounter when speaking up at work, and the third about the gendered double-standard when it comes to "communal" work.

 I thought the first essay did a deft job laying the groundwork for the rest of the pieces: in it, the authors discuss how studies show that simply discussing the existence of a stereotype does nothing to eradicate it. Rather, education about biases must be coupled with directives to no longer allow that bias to seep into your interactions in order to result in progress. The rest of the essays do exactly that: discuss a bias, and then suggest actionable ways to diminish it.

While at first I was somewhat inclined to read each of these essays and dwell on all the insidious ways that gender biases were affecting my life and work, I've come to the rather obvious conclusion that there is not much I can do to change the interactions I've had in the past or control the behavior of the people I encounter in the future. The thing I CAN change is whether or not I allow these biases to dictate my reaction to others. As has been widely documented, gender biases against women don't solely result from men actively discriminating against women. Instead, they result from the collective actions of the entire population, men and women, chipping away at the confidence and control of women one tiny interaction at a time. I (and you, too!) can stem the stereotypical tide by making sure I am not judging the women around me harshly when they exhibit traditionally male behaviors like speaking up at work or making direct critiques. Maybe it's naive, but I believe that limiting subtle, negative behaviors (such as taking a defensive tone with women who have direct managerial styles) can slowly improve the gender bias situation for us all.

Also: a humorous take on this topic.

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Speaking of women at work, I am freshly back from a business trip to Dallas! A lot of time and energy went into preparing for our meeting there, but everything went very well and I'm pleased to be able to count those 36 hours among my experiences.

I'm even happier now that I'm back in my own home in my own bed, with at least two weeks of down time before I have to head to the airport again.

I hope you all are having a similarly productive but enjoyable week. Back tomorrow to take us into the weekend.

Be Well: Back on Track

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Okay, maybe the title of this post should be "Mostly Back on Track" but hey, I'm going for it.

This week I took a major leap: my husband and I started a paleo-inspired, low-carb diet. I know - I'm not into depravation, and I really like to eat. Trust me, I'm not going cold-turkey - I still have dark chocolate in my pantry and I expect to enjoy a nice dinner out from time to time. But today and for the foreseeable future it's goodbye, processed food, bread, dairy, and dessert and hello meat, vegetables, and more meat.

I knew it was time to take the diet plunge the first time I realized that I was afraid to step on the scale. Like I literally avoided it because I knew I would be so demoralized by the number I saw there. Also, I've spent the last month complaining to my husband that I'm a fatty and then stuffing my face with delicious baked treats, so there's that, too. It was time to put my money where my mouth is, rather than just putting chocolate where my mouth is.

The other motivation behind deciding to do this diet is that I've never actually done a diet before. I mean, I did my paleo eating experiment, but the goal wasn't really to lose weight. This time the goal is to lose weight, and it's really important to me that I prove to myself that I'm capable of being successful. I'm going to weigh myself once a week and I even bought one of those seamstress's tape measures so I can track whether I lose inches off my waist. I realize I'm achieving nerd status with my goals and measurements, but I figure shooting for something specific is a necessary component to a successful diet/exercise plan - otherwise, it can seem like you're going to have to deprive yourself forever. I want to know when I can stop!

Most of all, I want to feel like my healthy, fit self again. For the past couple months I've been overindulging in great meals and underperforming on going to the gym, so I think it's about time I switched the priority of those two pastimes.

I started this little adventure on Monday, so how's it going so far, you ask? Well, it's been really hard. In fact, I'm surprised I managed to make it through Tuesday without caving. I thought Monday was bad (I was seeing mirages of cupcakes in the afternoon, I swear), but then Tuesday morning I woke up at 5:15AM with a migraine-status headache. I had to scrap going to the gym in favor of laying in bed, praying that I wouldn't throw up. Luckily, some medicine cleared the headache up quick, but then my workday was pretty crazy starting at 7:30AM and ending around 7:30PM. I ended up eating lunch at 3:00, and although my stressed-out brain was begging me to go get a cheese sandwich, I somehow forced myself into Chipotle where it's easy to get a no rice, no beans, meat and vegetable extravaganza. Work, stress, and physical pain are three of the major excuses I use to "treat myself" and eat what I want, so I figure if I can stick to my diet plan on a day like yesterday, I can make it through any day. Right?

Right. This is happening, and you guys will hold me accountable. If any of you are hoping to clean up your eating act, let me know - I'm always in favor of the buddy system to keep yourself honest!

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On this day, as on all other days, I turn to books to make it all make sense. Today, the book on my mind is Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. Read it for the tragedy, read it for the good.

Be Well: Making It Work

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I'll admit it, friends: I'm stuck in a fitness rut.

And "fitness rut" is probably a bit of a generous description - that rut consists of me not doing anything. I know, right? Me? Not working out? Well, that day has arrived, lovely readers, and I'm a bit ashamed to admit it.

Ever since I started my new job, I just haven't figured out how to fit working out into my new schedule. Prior to starting my job, I took the introductory course at a CrossFit studio about 10 minutes away from my apartment. They offer 6AM classes every morning of the week, which I thought would work perfectly for me, since it gives me plenty of time to go home, shower, change, and then commute to work.

Here's the catch, though: I generally get home from work at 8PM. I then need to cook dinner, write this blog, and finish up any work tasks that I may have left over from my day at the office. However, in order to go to bed in time to wake up, eat breakfast, and get to CrossFit on time while still getting eight hours of sleep, I have to go to bed at 9:15. NINE FIFTEEN. That means I have exactly one hour and 15 minutes to do everything before I should be heading to bed. Doable? Maybe. Pleasant? Not at all.

I know so many of you guys are reading this right now and thinking, "this is why I never work out!!" And I totally get it, I do. But I'm not ready to throw in the towel and say that working out just isn't going to be a part of my life anymore. I need to figure out a way to arrange my schedule so that I can make it work.

One of the most ironic bits of this whole situation is that writing this blog makes it harder for me to find time to work out. Let me say that again - writing this fitness blog makes it harder for me to find time to pursue fitness. Does that qualify as a Catch-22? So, one of the things I need to start doing is being better about writing my blog posts on the weekend when I have more time. Taking away a bit of my beloved weekend down time sounds terrible right now, but I know it's the best thing for me overall.

Secondly, I think I need to explore other workout options. Having to wake up at 5:15AM for CrossFit just isn't something I'm going to be able to do on more than two weekday mornings per week with my schedule as it is. So, maybe it's time for me to train for another half marathon, and go on runs in the morning - prep and travel time is minimal for running, and I can do it pretty much anywhere! Plus, I should probably consider other, different types of workout options, like cycling classes or going to yoga more frequently.

Part of me hates writing this post because I feel like I'm supposed to have all the answers - I should be showing you guys how to make fitness a daily part of your life! But that wouldn't be true to my experience, and I hope that when I pull out of this no-workout rut (eventually) my method for how I do it can be one of the most educational (maybe even inspirational?) parts of this blog.

So, to all of you who think I've got my workout life perfectly together...I don't. Somehow in the past four weeks I've become a girl with gym clothes gathering dust and cellulite on the back of her legs. But I'm poised for a comeback, I just know it - I'll let you know when it happens :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday.