I cannot believe how hungry I have been since going to the gym last night. If this keeps up I’ll have to stop working out to keep from gaining weight! :) I’m chanting “healthy snacks, healthy snacks” but eyeing those Christmas cookies on the counter. . .
Being my last week of “break” before school begins next Monday, I’ve been doing a bit more reading and movie watching than usual. Yesterday, I finished re-reading C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian and finished the day by watching Precious on Netflix. Wow.
C.S. Lewis concludes Prince Caspian with a simple and true picture of the best and worst of humanity:
“I was wishing that I came of a more honorable lineage,” Caspian says.
Aslan replies: “You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve. . . And that is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.” *
Watching Precious with this paradoxical conceptualization of what it means to be created in the image of God was a powerful experience. If you haven’t yet seen the film, I recommend it — the film is dark, and sad, but shows the situations into which innocent children are born and struggle to survive. It is so easy to forget about true suffering, and this film is a stark reminder that it happens. And not just in little doses. Some of us are plagued with unrelenting circumstances, including the protagonist of this film.
And when we see the shame and misfortune heaped upon the shoulders of Precious, as Christians we simultaneously know that she is a child of God, created in his image. Is this perhaps one of the hardest issues to reconcile, that anyone created with love and in the image of God could be held to lifelong and unrelenting suffering? That this kind of suffering takes place all around our world, with the Creator standing by?
Furthermore, do we too often forget that this same shame and misfortune are equally placed on the shoulders of our pastors and beauty queens and celebrities because they, too, are devastatingly marred by original sin? We share the burdens and blessings of our creation equally. And this is definitely something to think about.
* Quoted language from C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, 218 (Scholastic 1995).
Today was my first day at the gym. Well, not exactly the first ever but pretty darn close.
Because of my resolution to pay more attention to my personal life and live more healthily, I went with my husband and joined . . . dum dum dum . . . the gym. I’ve never once joined a gym in my life, and I found the joining process quite nerve-wracking.
My husband came into the room and said “Let’s go join the gym,” to which I promptly had a crazy freak out: I’m not ready! My hair is a mess! They’re going to think I’m lazy and fat! I need more warning to prepare! This is not okay!
Husband did not quite know what to do. He tried explaining that everyone starts somewhere and that no one can tell by looking that I’m not a runner, but I did not believe him. I just knew that all of those “gym people” who were obviously so “fit and perfect” would know by looking that I did not belong.
It was the next day before I was ready to walk down to the gym, and even then I was not comfortable at all and let Husband do most of the speaking.
Well, two days later I made my first journey to the gym, a whopping 177 Meters from our condo. I walked in, scanned my ID card at the entrance, hung my jacket up and hit the treadmill. I did 20 minutes of “cardio.”
I meant to do the First Week of the Couch to 5K (C25k) plan, but I had a little problem — the podcast I planned to walk/run to stopped working during my workout. So I did the best I could remember: 5 minute walk, 2 minute run, 5 minute walk, 2 minute run, 5 minute walk, cooldown. It’s not exactly the Week One plan, but it worked for me.
By the way, if you are starting to run for the first time like I am, you should definitely check out Robert Ullrey’s podcasts. They are fantastic. Once I figure out how to sync my Black Berry to my Computer, buy a USB connector and a media card, I will be listening to them while I run.
Post-workout, I’m feeling pretty proud of myself. In two days I transitioned from being afraid of the gym to using the gym.
Things I learned today:
- There are wipes at the gym, and you wipe off the equipment after you use it;
- No one really looks at you when you are working out, so basically you can go as fast or as slow as you want;
- I need new socks and tennis shoes! My current tennis shoes are from the tornado warehouse after the 2008 tornado at my school, and they are too big! It’s time to update.
A healthy work-life balance is key to reducing stress and a positive, healthy lifestyle. This is basically common knowledge, and is touted by health magazines and medical experts everywhere. See what they say over at WebMD, and also how work stress affects women from Dr. Oz here and from the Department of Health and Human Services here, One of my biggest struggles as a professional is that I let my work crowd out the joy of my non-work life. This spillover prevents my “relaxing” activities from actually being relaxing.
The Mayo Clinic offers some suggestions for reducing stress by maintaining a positive work-life balance. These tips are pretty basic, but I plan to put a few of them into action this year. With finishing law school, studying for and taking the bar, and searching for and beginning my first real job in the next year, I know that the work-side of my life is going to be busy and exciting. I want the personal-side of my life to be just as important and hope to spend this year bettering myself as a person as much as I do as an attorney.
As an almost-attorney, stress-management and work-life balance is especially important. Lawyers experience overwhelming stress every day. The ABA recommends maintaining time separate from your billable hours to focus on nutrition, family, and rest. This year, I will make these goals a priority:
1. I plan to create boundaries between my work time and personal time by not answering emails after 8 PM unless they are emergent client issues. I know that this is not always do-able, but if I try to save my time from 8-10:30 p.m. for 100% me/personal time, I think it will help me to reduce daily stress.
2. Exercise. Exercise is the number 1 stress reducing activity and, when combined with its numerous other health benefits, it seems silly not to exercise. Yet, for some reason, I just never have. My family was never very active and I was a clumsy child so I never played softball or soccer or took gymnastics. I still feel really awkward about working out (more about this later) but I’m going to do it at least twice a week. It’s just stupid not to, and I can accept that and deal with the rest as it comes.
3. Plan and set goals for my free time. I often sacrifice my “me” time to my husband’s interests or to finish up a work project, and even when I’m “having fun” I am often thinking about work or stressing that things are not complete. This is wasted time, because I’m not relaxing or having fun and I’m not working! I’m not letting it happen any more. I’m going to schedule in my free time — how crazy is that! — for a few months and see if it helps.
4. Keep to my schedule. I am excellent at planning things out but sometimes let my committment to the plan slip and, thus, lose my exercise or sleep time to last minute things. Further, when things get sloppy I feel more stressed. I’m going to schedule a time to clean up clutter and a time to wake up, a little at a time, to see how things go.
As you can tell, these goals are more organic than measurable and I plan to incorporate them into my life slowly instead of adopting a rigid, robotic schedule. Life is full of surprises, and too many requirements for each day can add stress when things go awry. I’m going to measure my progress here on the blog, and hope you will join me in a less stressful 2011!