Over the last month, I’ve taken some time to truly get myself together physically and professionally. My goals were mostly pretty simple, I wanted to challenge myself to get back into the gym, transition my diet toward a more plant based diet and make at least one new friend or connection for my professional and personal development. I also wanted to begin searching for a more lucrative job, that would allow me to pay my bills and live a bit more comfortably each month. Overall, not outrageous goals, but this month was definitely challenging.
Getting back to the gym
While I was in college, my senior year especially, I was incredibly fit and was a member of my college’s track & field team. I ran or worked out almost every day, and it showed. After graduation, I got a desk job and consequently gained about 15lbs. Recently, I’ve come to realize that I have no energy, and I feel generally like human garbage. So, I decided I wanted to fulfill one of my long-standing goals of completing a triathlon. Now, training for a triathlon is difficult, but it is not as hard as I originally anticipated. For this racing season (May-September), I’ll be racing a maximum of four sprint triathlons in the New Jersey/ Pennsylvania area. I’ve also realized that I do things 100% or not at all and having a goal to meet is much more motivating than just working out to work out. As of right now, I am about four weeks into going to the gym, and one week into triathlon training.
My training grid consists of tiered ‘brick’ workouts, swim workouts, lifting sessions and core strengthening. I am mixing what I have learned in books, online, and in various podcasts regarding triathlons and working through a 12-week training plan leading up to my first race day in May. Ideally, training for the triathlon will help me get rid of the extra weight I can thank my sedentary job for, as well as get me to a better place health-wise and I’ll complete a goal in the process.
Transition to a plant based diet
I have been reading so many articles and watching so many documentaries about the dangers of a meat and processed foods-based diets. I’ve become incredibly skeptical of pharmaceutical companies, large agra-businesses and even facets of the health industry. One aspect that truly stuck with me is the influence of agra-businesses such as the dairy and beef industries influencing the government and public health agencies to promote their businesses. Many of the official food pyramid and ideal diets posted by the federal public health agencies, are sponsored by businesses with deep roots and histories in the dairy and beef business. And the results of basing a diet on animal proteins and processed foods are high rates of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. There is a great deal of debate on these issues, but there is also evidence that a plant based diet is incredibly healthy and promotes a healthy weight and nutrition.
Personally, I wanted to begin cutting down my intake of red meat and processed foods. Growing up, the staples of my diet were red meat, chicken, pastas, and various other typical ‘meat and potatoes’ meals. Now, as I’m getting a bit older, what I eat matters and will determine health risks that I will have in the next thirty years. With a family history of certain cancers, I’d like to reduce my risks as much as possible. Throughout the month, I did not entirely cut down on my meat intake (turns out it is harder than I thought) but I was able to implement vegetable based substitutions for meat products. I made homemade vegetarian soups, with beans and lentils, eggplant parmesan, in place of chicken parmesan, and started making cauliflower and broccoli rice for stir fry meals. So far, I’ve seen some improvements, health-wise, I’m not getting sick as often, and I have a whole lot more energy; but the big improvements will come over time.
Increase the size of my professional circle
After I graduated college, I moved closer to home and began working in the city with a new company and was surrounded by much older and different people. This period of transition was very busy and stressful; it consisted of three different moves and a few health emergencies from older members of my family. After some time, I recognized that my once large social circle from college shrank once I was no longer in the same environment. My goal for this month was to attend a few networking events and make some new connections and even friends at my current job. I attended two networking events this month, one through my graduate school and another through the leadership network I am a member of. Both went very well, I made a few connections at the grad school event, but not as many at the leadership network event.
As far as making new friends, I actually found this very hard to do. Personally, I have never found it easy to make new friends and the majority of the individuals I work with, were much older than me and do not really relate to me. Interestingly enough, my department hired a new coordinator, only a few years older than me and we worked together easily. We’ve had a few lunches and have a lot in common. So far, I can say that I’ve made a few connections that could serve my career in the future, and I’ve increased my social circle just a bit.
February has been a very busy month, but it has been a time of professional and personal growth. My main focus moving forward is my physical condition and health and working on my professional position. Looking forward to March and the weather finally starting to get warmer.