Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Getting healthy: bye bye Coke, hello gym!

Moving to the other end of the earth is a great opportunity to change your habits, get rid of what you don't like or is not good for you and do more of what you want to start. Right after we moved, there was always a good excuse to eat outside, not to get information about the local gym or make any of the changes we wanted to make. 

A month and a half after, I felt comfortable enough in my new life to get out of my comfort zone again and push the door of the gym. After visiting and talking membership, we subscribed for a two year period with the warranty to be able to stop it if we were to move back to France.

The first session with a trainer was a big eye opener. I knew I was not in good shape, but I thought I'd be healthier than I really was. I also thought I was bad at math and sports alike and that I disliked both. I discovered during Black Belt that my maths skills are actually decent, and I discovered during the past two weeks that if I put my mind to it and follow good guidance, working out is actually something I can enjoy (and eventually become decent at). We now have a session a week to learn new exercises focused on our needs.

When our trainer gave us our meal plan, I immediately rejected it in my head, thinking it'd be too hard, that I'd starve, that I'd been there before and that it wouldn't work for me. I actually had a hard time falling asleep that night, going over and over the rejection of that new diet. But then I tried it with a few extras for a week and quickly adopted it. I can live eating chicken everyday and the choice in veggies that I have is actually decent. The only thing I miss is fruits (except for apples that I can eat now).

While I was drinking at the very least a liter of Coke Zero everyday, I started drinking a gallon of water instead. The change happened overnight and without much frustration as water is preventing me to want to drink Coke. 

After two weeks of working out four days a week, I start to see changes on and in my body. I used to loose a lot of hair, I don't anymore. My nails are healthier and my skin looks better, even though I've got a skin allergy that I don't know the cause of. I have a lot more energy to accomplish chores and all that I didn't had the time to before. 

This new life style forces us to cook a lot more, and I enjoy spending time in the kitchen with my husband. Granted we can't cook like we were used to, we can at least use onions and spices to make our food taste delicious. Ironically, grocery shopping is a lot faster (if not cheaper) as we only visit half the supermarket. We also started to plan our meals for the week using our cook books and modifying the recipes (or changing the sides for instance). Cooking more also means cleaning more and keeping the house in better shape, which is a lot nicer to live in.

I had to change my hectic bedtime routine to make it more structured so it fits my gym oriented needs: thoroughly clean my face, hydrate my all body, drink more water, stretch and the most important: get a good night sleep. 

It's only been two weeks but I love it so far. I always look forward my next work out and improving my performances. Unlike the last time I visited a gym frequently, I understand that it is not an mean to an end but a way of life. I'll need to work out and drink lots of water all my life, especially if I want more flexibility with the food I eat. I now understand that healthy people exercise too, that you don't need to spend 15 min doing push ups but you should alternate several repetitions of each exercise, that you may not want to do a full body work out at once.

I'm no expert and it's going to be a while before I feel comfortable sharing tips that work for me, but I'd recommend getting the help of a trainer / someone who exercises regularly if like me you decide to take the path to health. It can be pricey, but a quick calculation tells me that what we pay today for the gym and trainer doesn't exceed what we use to spend in take-away (that we banned as much as possible).

Friday, March 13, 2015

Five first learnings from my amazing new boss

I've been told that you don't change job, but change boss. I quite like the saying. Part of the decision about taking this new job abroad was linked to my new boss. He was one of the teachers for my Green Belt and Black Belt and I knew we got along and that he is a great guy with values I adhere to. I knew I'd gain a great boss and that I'd learn a lot, and he didn't disappoint!

I've only been there for two months, but here are my learnings so far:
  • He's the first boss I've had who asks me what he can do to help me. Every single day. By removing some road blocks or answering some questions, he is making sure I'm performing at my best. And this is not only about work, as I moved abroad he is always happy to help with personal questions too!
  • Get ready for meetings. Like 100% prepared. His expression is "let's review the agenda". It made me smile at first, but when said meeting was starting, I found out I was really confident about what needed to be achieved and how. I feel a lot of meetings could use more prep, in not only the slides but knowing what you are going to say, how you want to react if anything happen, what is your timing for each item on your agenda, who's talking, who's taking notes... Now I feel like I need to go over the agenda and the flow a few times before each meeting, and it feels good!
  • One big Excel book per project. Use tabs and put pain points, solutions, FMEA, B&E, parking lot, etc. in the same book. As long as you rename your tabs, it will make things a lot easier to find back and share with your team. It really shows how organized you are and how much work, time and effort you put into the project.
  • Learn from your team. Even with years of experience and skills way above mine, my boss is willing to learn from me if I know something he doesn't. Usually, it's a MS Office/IT question, but still, it takes humility to have that attitude.
  • Praise when owned. I don't know if it is a cultural difference, but I have received and witnessed a lot more recognition in here that I'm used to. Nothing boosts me better than a thank you and it sure is much nicer to work in that kind of mood.
I'm sure I'll be adding on to that list over time, but these few simple facts have a great impact on both the quality of my work environment and my performances. I'm never one to slack, but I'll give more, be more loyal and supportive when there is that big of a trust and respect between my boss and I.

Dan, if you read this, don't change anything!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Taking a break?

I haven’t blogged much lately. Well, not in English anyway. Let’s figure out why.

  • I started this blog at a time my career was not fulfilling. This new opportunity however is full of challenges and I don’t feel the need to research and work on content. On the other hand, I created my French travel blog to share with my friends and family pictures and a recollection of our travels, and this new adventure makes me want to share a lot with them.

  • English. Living in France, I was a bit frustrated not to use my English enough. Now that’s the language I use all the time (except at home, where we tend to be between the two languages all the time).

  • In here, I am a Lean Six Sigma expert but unlike France I don’t know everyone and have little access to information that I acquired during the past seven years of my career. This is an uncomfortable position, and though I could take comfort in blogging, I often feel too self-conscious to do so.

  • I thought I could just translate some posts and make them work on both blogs. Actually, what I need is to relate what I live from the France point of view on my travel blog and from the American one in here. This would take me minimal effort as most of the content is in my head, but I don’t feel it would be interesting.

  • I’m making changes in my life that I could / should document somewhere. But how can I talk about small changes (how I now prep for meetings for instance) when I am still experimenting? How can I talk about my journey to get healthy when it has been a week?

As I write these lines, I realize that I could tell you about my new (awesome) new boss, about what I like or not so far in the workplace here, how I try to make my cubicle more homey… This is clearly not an end but a simple break to come back with hopefully good content.