Perceptive Communications

I spent the last two days taking a work-related class on my communication and how others perceive my communication style. I like bettering myself, and I found this class quite interesting. Before the class, each participant takes a survey on themselves and then sends the survey to five people that they work with. According to the results, people are placed as either controlling (assertive and reserved), analyzing (receptive and reserved), advocating (assertive and responsive), or facilitating (receptive and responsive). Below are my results:

Controlling: Achievement, “I win”
Analyzing: Security, “I’m right”
Advocating: Recognition, “I’m noticed”
Facilitating: Relationships, “I’m liked”

I very much thought that I was going to be a facilitator because I like the world to be a happy place where everyone always gets along. I think at one point in my life, I was probably the most receptive and responsive person you’d ever meet (bottom right of the graph). I put little value in my own thoughts because I wanted to go with the flow. Just easier that way.

I think that as we age, we begin to appreciate our own perspectives. I pick my battles. I would still rather that everyone was happy all the time, forever and always, but I am not afraid to challenge you, particularly if I have facts that support my decision. I am also less willing to trust a statement at face value without researching an issue for myself. I think this is one of the reasons that I have felt weighed down since taking my current job. I’d still like everyone to be happy, but acting as a representative, I need to defend my people: I am the wrinkle in a lot of otherwise smooth plans.

That is not to say that I will always challenge someone if I do not agree. If I don’t care enough about the issue, I let it slide. Our instructor was very good about repeating that there are no good or bad styles, and one style is not better than another. The class is an exercise in understanding your own motivations, and understanding how to classify people you work with so that communication can be more successful.

Additionally, people tend to exhibit the qualities from three of the quadrants, but have a very difficult time working with the fourth. In my case, I am primarily an analyzer, but also a facilitator, and sometimes a controller (when I need to be). Advocating styles make me roll my eyes. This is quite funny to me because when I plot a point for Nick according to a short questionnaire, he is an absolute advocator. Oh well. The instructor said that opposites do attract. I certainly could never work with Nick, but I don’t have a problem loving him.

Running Improvements

Last week, I mentioned the appreciation I have for Nick training for his half marathon last year, and I have been thinking about that all week because it was the first time that I ever saw him dedicate himself to a structured exercise program of any kind. Additionally, I give him much credit for his half marathon, as, at this time, I do not see myself ever running a formal half marathon. I have run the distance and further before, but I have completed my runs on “good days” instead of a specific date on the calendar.

I will forever admire people who can train for a high impact event by calendar days. I have come to the conclusion that I have to work with my body instead of against it, and that has made the difference this year compared to last year. Instead of being bitter, I think I will choose to celebrate that we each have our own strengths and weaknesses, and move on. Good job on completing your first half, Nick! You are awesome!


January, 2010


September, 2010

I think it is important with anything to track your progress. Improvements happen so gradually that it is easy to forget the journey you have been on. I have been using Nike Plus for all of my running this year, and the program has only eaten a couple of them—the technology is still flawed, but I am mostly happy with the system. I also sync to Daily Mile, which does allow for manual entry, but I do not want a manual override option in Nike Plus because it would be so easy for people to cheat on challenges. Oh well! Who knows how to fix it!

Above is my running graph from January and my graph from last month. Everything about my running has improved. My longest distance in January was seven miles, and my longest in September was 15. My pace was 9:22 (which I was very impressed with at the time), and my pace is now around eight minutes a mile. My cumulative running pace through Nike Plus has finally dropped below 9:00 per mile.

I had a long stretch (2008 and 2009) where I was running over 10:00 minutes per mile, and every step felt like a jackhammer in my spine. I was running on a schedule instead of when I was feeling good. My running was also very staggered, and my frustration affected my ability to condition myself to the sport. In the last couple of months, I have had several runs below 8:00 per mile, and I am very happy with that. I know it’s not the fastest, and I can’t do it on demand, but it’s self improvement.

I can definitely tell, compared to other months, that Nick and I started P90X on September 13, because that’s when the longer runs started becoming only a once-a-week thing. It was my original intention to get in three miles a day during P90X training, but I realized quickly that A.) three miles does not give me a runner’s high and B.) I like rest days between running. The first month of the program was extremely low carb, and it looks like I documented most of my runs during that period with sad faces by them, hah!

The only other time I have gone a bit extreme with removing a macro nutrient from my body was when I started losing weight, and I cut out most of my fat (not knowing any better). After my skin started flaking and my hair started falling out, I put two and two together and realized that fat in moderation plays a very important role in maintaining a healthy body! I lost the majority of my weight eating 65% to 70% quality carbohydrates, so I have never been interested in the low-carb craze!

Nick and I agreed to keep an open mind with the P90X program though, so we did the required four weeks of low- to no-carbohydrates. I will say that doing so has helped me appreciate carbs as an energy source rather than a pick-me-up after a stressful day. The first 10 mile run I attempted on low carbs nearly made me cry because I felt so inadequate! I was in the habit of running a 13+ distance every week, and suddenly I was hitting a wall at seven! This week is the first week where we’ve added high fiber, low glycemic index carbohydrates. I have had such a spurt of energy off them that I’m almost hyper! I’ve had trouble falling asleep at night because I have all this extra pent up energy!

Between the two graphs, I also think it is interesting that I ran for an hour less in September compared to January, but nearly completed an additional six miles. I am now tracking my heart rate while running, and I highly doubt that my average heart rate in January would have been in the 150s! I keenly remember feeling like I was going to die at the end of five miles at the beginning of this year! Besides, I like looking at the heart rate vs pace graphs that Nike spits out for me! As you can see, I’ve only been tracking heart rate since June.


Trend lines from September 4, 2010 through October 15, 2010

I’ve said this several times this year, but making myself this goal to run 1,000 miles was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I have 170 miles left to get done in the next two and a half months, and I already feel such a huge sense of accomplishment and empowerment. All this from something so simple. I feel great, and I hope to continue seeing improvements.

Ghosts

By the title, I mean my own ghosts, not the ghosts that seem to appear every year in October. I have gotten into watching a show on the Style Network called Too Fat for Fifteen: Fighting Back. I feel fortunate to have received my wake up call when I did, and I bear no feelings of frustration or anger toward my parents for bringing me up in such an unhealthy lifestyle. But this show stirs up a lot of emotions for me.

I cannot really say that my weight loss journey is documented on this website, because I started blogging when I was near my goal weight. I also know that a large part of my success was dependent on the fact that I lived 1,200 miles away from all of the negative influences that caused my bad habits. The opening of the show is stark reality: For the first time ever, the current American generation will have a lower life expectancy than the previous generation. With all the medical breakthroughs and advances in technology, today’s children are killing themselves with obesity…and it’s because they don’t know any better.

I am dually surprised and disgusted that some of the children on this show come home from a weight loss camp only to be surrounded with parents who eat poorly in front of them. No wonder serious weight loss (more than the vanity pounds) is rare without surgical intervention: the support in this country is seriously lacking. But losing the weight makes for really strong people, and I almost wish that everyone would have to go through it.

I now live with a man that has never had to think twice about his weight. He can eat garbage without the scale ever reflecting the difference—but he is a good man, and he supports me in bringing healthy food into our home; he is a willing participant if somebody helps him. I think people make the mistake of thinking that the outside appearance completely reflects internal health. You can be at a healthy weight yet be sorely out of shape, and vice versa.

My time away from home allowed me opportunity to fully adopt my new lifestyle before coming back to all the stressors and enablers from my past. I was very lucky, and I appreciate the progression of this experience. It is easy to say that I wish things had gone differently (that whole marrying a North Carolina boy thing), but I also realize that I am in a good place now, and it’s because my experiences took me away, made me hurt, made me grow, and made me want to come home.

Nick has noticed the difference in our personalities, and actually references this quite a bit. I get frustrated because I have motivation thick enough to cut with a knife, but with my medical issues, the body isn’t always willing. If I could physically do it without hurting myself, I would love to be able to work out three hours a day. Nick is in good health without chronic pain, but rarely has the drive to exercise unless I am doing it with him—the noteworthy exception being when he trained for his half marathon last summer while I was crippled once more with back pain.

If I had not gone through my own journey, I would have never learned drive, determination, or persistence. For the longest time, I felt embarrassed that losing weight just might be the crowing achievement of my life. I was thinking of it all wrong. Losing weight was a side effect of building myself up instead of the other way around. I have achieved many awesome things since, just by knowing that if I work hard enough, I am unstoppable.

DSC03087

I am sad, though. I am sad that the messages of image and health become intertwined, which makes talking about weight difficult. I never hear people point and laughing because someone has hardened arteries, but I guess it’s funny when BMIs get into the 30s. I am sad that we as a country eat so much processed food, that the produce section is never as busy as the frozen dinner section.

Mostly though, I am sad that the next generation is suffering by the unacknowledged mistakes of the last. Easy is not always better. Working overtime may bring home a bigger paycheck, but if you don’t need the extra money, just think of getting actual time and a half in your life by working out. We are becoming automate and losing the value of putting in the time on our biggest project: ourselves.

I think my ghosts have been haunting me lately because I have been thinking about my past. I graduated high school 10 years ago this year. 10 years ago from today, I was in my first semester at UW LaCrosse. They say that you can walk the entire campus in 10 minutes. I remember the struggle of getting from my French class to my Java class in 10 minutes. They were in two different buildings, both on the third floor, and not that far apart. Every day I staggered into that programming class beet-red, panting, and sweaty.

What if I had learned my lessons early in life? What if I had been brought up in an environment where I innately knew how to eat right and exercise? Life would have been very different for me, I can tell you that much. I did learn from the experience, but it would have been nice if a healthy lifestyle had been part of the toolkit I was given to conduct my life when I went out on my own.

Parents, teach your children by example…please.