Making time…again

Life has been insane mode ever since the beginning of February, when we did our taxes and found that we owed the government a disgusting amount of money. From that point on, our free time was consumed with working overtime and looking at homes to buy so we could take advantage of the tax credit (something we’d been hoping to do, anyway).

Let me tell you, living under that kind of financial stress for so long can really put a damper on working out and eating well. We were hellbent on saving as much money as possible, so the quality of our food was downgraded a bit, though we did cook at home much more to save some cash. And by cook, I mean we made a lot of tuna sandwiches and fruit smoothies. In fact, I think there was a period of about two weeks where we didn’t eat a single hot meal.

THANK GOD IT’S OVER.

Anyway, Dan and I both fell off the workout horse, but we’ve picked ourselves up and are back in the saddle for yet another ride. I’ve been loving some of Jillian’s older workout videos that I found via The Shredheads. They are similar to 30-Day Shred in approach but incorporate more moves from her book, Making the Cut (which I wrote about at length here). You can read a review of the Biggest Winner set here.

So, I’m writing to say … I’m baaaaack.

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Making time

Everyone is busy. Really, really busy. That can make it really hard to get in a workout and eat well. Dan and I knew this upcoming week was going to be particularly rough, so we tried our best to prepare. We planned out the meals we wanted for the week and went to the grocery store Sunday afternoon. Stupid, I know. It was Super Bowl Sunday and the place was packed. We then came home and proceeded to prepare our major meals for the rest of the week. It took us maybe 90 minutes to make the following:

  • Baked chicken
  • Baked scallops
  • A huge chopped salad
  • A few pounds of steamed broccoli and cauliflower
  • Pasta salad with fresh veggies
  • Lemon garlic asparagus
  • Homemade macaroni and cheese

All of that, coupled with the nuts, raw fruits and veggies, and string cheese we snack on, fed us for the entire week. In fact, we probably ate better this week than we usually do, even though we were much busier. I adapted my workouts by trading in  my 40-minute sessions for some 30 Day Shred. That enabled me to squeeze my sweat sessions in, despite my lack of time. All in all, it was a pretty successful week.

When you make the commitment to eat well and exercise, it’s important to plan ahead so you can follow through. Make it a priority; Try to anticipate what your week is going to look like  you so can adjust accordingly. It will prevent disappointment and lead to success, which will motivate you to keep going.

Disastrous week

Well, everything that I’d been doing for the past two weeks went out the window last week.

I only got in one workout. It was a great one, but it was only one. I’d been feeling icky for a few days and finally went to the doctor. I basically slept my week away, which is also disappointing. However, taking a few days off to get well and recharge is better than being chronically ill. I’m feeling much better now.

As a result of all the sleeping, my eating habits were totally out of whack. I went entire days where I didn’t eat anything until 4 or 5 p.m., and once I fed myself something, my appetite was voracious. To make matters worse, we were and still are totally out of produce and good food, so I ate a lot of crumby calories this week. We’re talking Goldfish crackers and frozen pizza. Pretty dire. That situation will change tomorrow, as I plan to drag my butt to the grocery store come hell or high water and stock up.

My plan going forward  with Making the Cut  is to pretend that last week never happened. I’m going to do the entire week’s worth of workouts and pick up the program where I left off. That means I’ll be on day 16, when really I should be on day 23 or 24.

With the exception of last week, I’ve been following the program pretty closely. The one area where I’ve been lax, though, is alcohol consumption. So, I’m putting my foot down: No more alcohol for me until I’m finished with the cut. I have a feeling that I will see results even faster if I give up my glass (or five) of red wine for the next few weeks.

Dodging the bullet

So my boss was kind enough to let me know early yesterday that my job is safe. For now, anyway. An editor who’s been with the paper for more than 20 years took the buyout to concentrate on her academic pursuits. She plans to move to England at some point in the next couple of years, so it works out for everyone.

I’m certainly relieved that I don’t have to worry about work for a little while, but I definitely feel less safe at this job than I did before all of this happened. It’s always going to be in the back of my mind that I could still eventually be on the chopping block. What happens next quarter? Will I have to go through this again? Will things ever get better and stabilize? I guess I won’t know until the time comes.

McClatchy announced Monday that wage freezes have been lifted, exactly one week after it announced layoffs/buyouts. I found that out before I knew the status of my job, and it makes me wonder what, exactly, is going on in the accounting department. I understand that management wants to boost morale for those who get to remain with the company, but we’re not idiots … it just looks like bad math to say, “Oh, we need to cut X positions. By the way, the rest of you will likely get a raise this year.” If anything, it probably contributes to layoff survivors’ guilt.

If nothing else, this experience pushed me to explore some opportunities that I had formerly talked myself out of. I now have a few freelance sources for additional income, and I’m still flirting with the idea of going back to school.

The paper is throwing it’s Christmas party tonight. Seems like questionable timing but, apparently, “these things can’t be helped.” Instead of 2% raises for everyone, maybe the company should just expand the booze budget for the party. Seems like it’d be more useful right about now.

Isn’t it ironic?

Oh, my dear Alanis Morissette, your words are ever-so-true. It is ironic. And annoying.

Last week, I got an early morning call from one my editors at the paper. Never a good sign when you work the night shift. He proceeds to inform my sleep-addled brain that the paper is offering voluntary buyouts in an effort to cut a certain number of positions.

I wake up a little.

Then he says that, although the buyouts are voluntary, at least one position in the newsroom must go and if nobody else takes the buyout, the position getting the axe will be mine.

OK, I’m up.

He gives me a bunch of information about how and why and when all of this is happening. Nothing that really matters much, because none of it will enable me to keep my job or make the fact that I will likely lose it any easier to deal with. The company didn’t make as much money as it hoped to, revenue is to volatile, nobody saw this coming, people will have one week to apply for the buyout, I’ll know what my fate is 12/09, blah blah blah.

Well, crap. If you read my previous post in September about landing this job, you’ll know how excited and relieved I was to to work for a paper again. You’ll also probably know that I was a little apprehensive about taking the job and that I left an incredibly secure and stable job elsewhere to work for the News-Democrat. Looks like I was right to be concerned.

I won’t know what’s happening for a couple of days, but I’m planning my life as if definitely don’t have a job. I’m looking at my options and trying to figure out what to do next. It seems like the only way to guarantee your personal security and well-being these days is to be your own boss. With that in mind, I’m pursuing some freelance opportunities and seriously considering going back to school for a career change.

All I know is that when you’re only 25 and have been laid off three times in two years, something out there isn’t quite right.

Rage-inducing heat

The past few weeks have been so incredibly hot and humid here that I don’t feel like doing anything but taking a cold shower and sitting around in my underwear after work. Hence the lack of updates.

I started my new job as a loan processor at American Equity Mortgage about two weeks ago. Aside from the commute (30 minutes or more one way, depending on traffic), I enjoy it. I’m learning a ton about the mortgage industry and how one goes about buying a house. I’ve still got about two weeks of training before I’ll be doing the entirety of my job unsupervised, but I have been able to do some of my work independently.

My job basically consists of looking through people’s loan applications/refinancing paperwork to make sure that they’ve got everything they need and they’re making as much money as they say they do. It’s really interesting to have access to people’s financial lives. Even the best of friends don’t know the details of each other’s finances, but I get to look into complete strangers’ records  and see that Jane Smith, age 32, is a single woman working as a senior VP for a publishing company making $30,000 a month (yes, a month) who uses 4 credit cards and still owes$7,300 on her student loans, but has no other debt. Not too bad.

However, I also get to see really depressing applications. Joe and Jane Smith, ages 68 and 64, both retired and earning combined social security and pensions of about $2,400 a month. Jane works at Wal-Mart and earns a lousy $7.00 an hour to net another $400 a month for the two of them.  They have 17 credit cards, all near their limits.  They’re refinancing because Joe needs a root canal and they want to consolidate some credit card debt. I flip through their paperwork, knowing they will most likely die hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

Most of the time, applications don’t fall into either extreme, but they’re still interesting. I guess it’s just the nosy journalist/real estate hound in me constantly wanting to learn about people and the places they live.

Ladies and gentlemen, enter career path #3

So life has been a little hectic lately, and I could write loads and loads about all the craziness pertaining to my work situation, but I’ll spare you some of the details to avoid sounding petty.

Basically, the company I worked for as a software tester decided to randomly cancel all of the workers’ contracts and give us the option to re-apply and interview. Really long story really short, they chose not to bring me back for who knows what reasons.  Me and one other girl had our contracts permanently canceled. Everyone else was rehired.

So, for the second time in less than 12 months, I was jobless. Until today.

Truth be told, I was already looking around for other work. I had probably a dozen resumes out in the jobosphere, which isn’t very many by today’s standards.  I was just hoping to quit my job on my own terms and have other employment lined up before taking the plunge. God apparently had other plans.

I lost my contract on Monday, had a first interview with American Equity Mortgage on Tuesday, had an interview with the VP on Wednesday and got a call offering me a job today (Thursday). And, it’s a “real” job– one that actually has the potential to be a viable career path. In 90 days –assuming all goes well– Dan and I will have medical insurance and benefits again for the first time in a year.

I have to give my best friend, Lacy, a huge shout out here, as I probably wouldn’t have gotten an interview had she not passed my info along to the HR person.

So, starting Monday at 8:30 a.m., I will begin my journey down yet another career path…as a loan processor. It’ll be my job to help people get the money they need to buy a house, a car, etc., and make sure that they filled all their paperwork out correctly. I know that sounds a little dry to a lot of people out there, but it requires the attention to detail and working on deadline that I thrive on. Also, I’ll be helping people get the money they need to accomplish what they want to accomplish.

Last time I lost my job, I felt like a loser and I was a really unpleasant person to be around. I took it personally and wallowed in my own misery. God has given me the opportunity to handle a similar situation with grace and optimism, and I’m thankful that all seems be working out for the best.