March 2013 archive

City Sports Run Club with CS by City Sports Apparel

By Kristina

On Monday I went to City Sports Run Club with Jess. We ran with her friend Emma, Rachel from Healthy Chicks and her friend Jess. The Run Club meets every Tuesday at 6:00 pm, and welcomes runners of all abilities. You can store your bag in a dressing room and learn about a new company each week. This week, Merrell showcased some of their new shoe offerings, and there were Bonk Breaker peanut butter and jelly energy bar samples.  Another reason to go–every mile you log gives you $1 in rewards points. I’m excited to go to more of these runs–they fall right after my school leadership team meeting, so it’s a great way to finish the day and keep my work and life balanced.

City Sports gave us running apparel from their CS by City Sports line, which has lots of affordable options and extended sizes for long tights, capris, crops, tank tops, shirts, longsleeved shirts, and hoodies.  The material is soft and breathable. Rachel and I both chose the All Sport Tank. I picked yellow while she picked pink. I liked the loose fit and ruffle detail. I think it will be good for barre classes and strength training as well as running in hot or cool weather (with layers).

AllSportTank

We also both picked the Accelerate Run Full Zip in Black Stripe. I liked that this had thumbholes and a small pocket near the waist for keys or ID.

AccelerateFullZip

Jess and I both chose the Paramount Run Capri in yellow and gray. I liked the zippered pocket in the back for taking keys, ID, and an emergency $20 for running. I noticed there is an iPod hole if you wish to carry an iPod in the pocket (probably a shuffle or nano would work best). I would wear these to barre and strength training as well, but have had some trouble when doing situps in pants with zippered back pockets.

ParamountRun

We then gathered as a group to go over the 3.5 mile and 5 mile routes that went along the river and came back around the Public Garden. I like to take the JQUS Running Club out along the river, around the Public Garden, and around the Common as well, so it was familiar territory! The girls and I chose the 3.5 mile route and enjoyed some good conversation and the scenery of the Charles River, Beacon Hill, and Back Bay before we arrived back at City Sports.

CSladiesandalex

Looking forward to the next run!

All photos by Ben Eld and City Sports.

Disclaimer: Our CS by City Sports apparel were complimentary courtesy of City Sports. All opinions are my own.

C2 Pilates Blogger Barre

By Kristina

Yesterday I went to a C2 Pilates blogger barre class with Jess from Little Miss Runshine and Denisefrom Fit 4 a Foodie. Other attendees included Sarah from SarahFit, Jen from Boston Bachelorette, and Monica from Burpees and Bubbly.

c2pilates Jess, Denise, and me

CC began with an introduction of the studio, rundown of the class routines, and rationale behind their method. I appreciated this–though I have gone to many barre classes, I like knowing what to expect! In fact, I was a little nervous because I heard from Jess that the class was supposedly harder than the ones she had gone to before.

CC and Carolyn put their heart and soul into designing great barre & pilates classes for students of all ages and fitness levels. As we get older and spend most of our workdays at desks, it gets harder to complete and recover from long runs, ultimate frisbee games, and tough classes such as soul.train Crazy 8’s. I am now trying to lure my 50-something coworker to Pure Barre. Though she did gymnastics and cheerleading as a teenager and has natural athletic ability, she was hoping for a “beginner” version of barre.

c2pilatesinstructors
CC and Carolyn

C2 Pilates provides a different approach than many of the other barre studios, making barre more accessible to ladies like my coworker. Differentiation of instruction rocks! Their oldest barre client is 84, and they are also doing a fundraiser (Pink Barre) for breast cancer.  Instruction will be modified to accommodate physical limitations or provide extra challenges. The classes are also designed for more of a slow burn than the intense burn that many other barre classes incorporate, and it is comprised of 50 minutes of standing work and 10 minutes of floor work rather than moving from barre to floor and back. I’ve noticed that Pure Barre, Core Fusion, and Bar Method clients tend to be in their 20s and 30s–would love to see some 84-year-young ladies in there too!

CC led the warmup, arms, legs, abs, and cooldown sections while Carolyn led the cardio legs sections. The music was slower and calmer than I was used to, and at first I felt like we were in a more traditional ballet class. I liked the scaffolding of the exercises (gradually increasing in difficulty, and spiraling back to different muscle groups). For example, we worked arms and legs several times rather than moving in discrete sections. Over the course of the class, we did eleves, releves, arabesques, attitudes, plies, tendus, and rond de jambes as part of the carefully choreographed routines (all of which were timed perfectly to the songs). The instructors’ cuing was helpful and accurate. They positioned themselves so that they could see us and we could see them in the mirrors, then provided verbal corrections to our form and alignment. I worried about going the wrong direction from the other students and hitting someone in the face. Thankfully, this did not happen (though I did drop my orange ball in the later leg work!).

All in all, the C2 Pilates barre experience was a fun way to meet other bloggers and shake up my fitness routine. Thank you CC and Carolyn!

Lululemon FunRun

By Kristina

It’s not just for Wunder Unders…Lululemon Prudential has a weekly run club!

lulu

Yesterday I went to Lululemon Run Club with my friend Jess. I was so nervous on the way over from work. I hadn’t run with other people in a really long time, and feared that no one would want to run with me at 9:30-10:30/mile pace or that I’d feel awkward trying to make new friends on the run. I decided not to fuss about pace at all and abandoned RunKeeper (aka a “naked” run), and relaxed as Jess and I set off with the group. We ended up running a 3.55 mile loop at conversational pace (from Prudential Mall to Fairfield St to the river to Longfellow Bridge, down Memorial Drive to the Mass Ave Bridge and back to the mall via Boylston St. I found out later that we did it in about 37 minutes (10:18 pace)…will have to fight the urge to obsessively collect data in spite of my math teacher tendencies.

After the run we congregated at Back Bay Social Club for conversation and appetizers. The duck sliders and meat candy were a delicious…precursor to some Pinkberry (my favorite is key lime yogurt topped with blueberries, kiwis, and mangos) afterward!

I’m looking forward to trying out other run clubs (e.g., Athleta, City Sports, Lululemon Newbury) in the area as the weather gets nicer!

productivity hacks #1-3: one week later

By Kristina

One week later, here’s how I did!

Check email standing up
3/5 – broke this in the morning by paranoidly checking if I had gotten sub coverage for dealing with a broken heating water pump. When I got to school, I did all email standing up at the laptop cart.
3/6 – did it! it’s making me so aware of how much time i’m spending on email.
3/7 – accidentally wrote some sitting emails in the morning, and in the evening at my kitchen counter.
3/8 – slipped a few times for work, but ended up not checking personal email for most of the day
3/9 – cheated a LOT this afternoon.
3/10 – it worked when I had the laptop at the kitchen counter, but I moved it to the dining room table and ended up sitting.
3/11 – cheated some during the day.

Bookends
Morning: Pure Barre or Yogaglo, Bellocq Breakfast tea, breakfast
Evening: pack lunch, set up teakettle & tea, lay out outfit, pack work bag, write in journal, drink tea and read.
3/5 – could not wake myself up to do Yogaglo. Tea and breakfast were good (but started late because waiting for plumber).
3/6 – went to Pure Barre and did breakfast routine. drank an iced venti redeye after. Did crosswords with New York Times app.
3/7 – went to Pure Barre. Thought I’d be really sore. Was good but I was so tired later. My evening routine is not going so well…I am hesitant to read Broken Harbor (creepy thriller) right before bed.
3/8 – let myself sleep in (planned yesterday). needed it, though i accidentally left on my Pure Barre alarm.
3/9 – did Pure Barre in the morning, did crosswords at night.
3/10 – could not wake up to run before brunch. Also sat while emailing a lot (I moved the computer to the dining room table vs. the kitchen counter.
3/11 – did Pure Barre in the morning, did crosswords at night. Also ran in the evening, so I was more tired than usual.
3/12 – ended up sleeping in instead of doing Yogaglo.

Smarter To-Do List
Write out to-do list at beginning of day. Prioritize it in order of importance (and then what needs to be done consecutively) and work on it in that order.
3/5 – didn’t do at start of the day and regretted it. I started doing it at 11:00 a.m. but was still answering emails instead of immediately working on the tasks.
3/6 – did on a notecard and did 2/3 because I let in some cherry-picking tasks.
3/7 – need to make sure to do this as soon as I sit down…I let the day get away from me. Also not in Evernote but in my Google Calendar as starred tasks.
3/8 – did it at the end of the day (3 MITs). didn’t update my list or use it in the day because of snow day.
3/9 – did it at the beginning of the day but couldn’t get focused after helping a friend develop a blog tagline. That was some cherrypicking of tasks.
3/10 – did it at the beginning of the day on a notecard…but didn’t get one accomplished (IB Coordinator workday task list).
3/11 – Tried to do it the day before my IB Coordinator off-site workday…got overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff that I put on the list and didn’t prioritize.
3/12 – Wished that I had prioritized…would have felt more confident and productive.

Takeaways
I wish I had tried to change one thing at a time versus going for all three productivity hacks in the past week. I am very happy with my newly developed morning workout habit. I never would have guessed that I’d be walking to the T at 5:00 a.m., excited to feel the burn at Pure Barre. I could view my sleeping in on alternate days as a failure, but I won’t. I now realize that I’ll need to stay consistent with alternating days before trying to move to an every-day routine, and to sharpen my evening routine with an earlier bedtime and weaning off the crossword app back onto fiction books.

I’m going to aim for the 3 MITs habit again. I think it will add focus and cut scope creep in my day. I’m still trying to let go of the idea that I have to be constantly working on evenings and weekends, and to trust that I can teach a class without spending hours on the lesson. I’ll use the Google Tasks and put “*1), *2), and *3)” in front of the task names for the MITs and then number the rest.

I am going to try the email-with-timer. I think the email standing up made me aware of the time I was spending on email, but my view of “standing desk = good” probably kept me emailing longer than I should have.

just a kindergarten teacher

By Kristina

This weekend I caught up on some DVRed episodes of How I Met Your Mother. This scene made me so sad.

Lily: Because he was right; I am just a kindergarten teacher. And, yes, I have a degree in art history, and I was meant to do something with it—but I didn’t. Somewhere along the line I forgot to pursue my dream and, and now I’m old and I’m a Mom and it’s just too late for me.

I feel sad that teaching is portrayed as less than a dream, and that being “old” and a “mom” makes it too late to pursue one’s dreams. The show’s had some story arcs before about Lily wanting to pursue art as her dream, but it did seem like she’d grown to like her teaching career (at least from the absence of work complaints) over the past several seasons. Why go to the job change right away? Why not incorporate art in other ways (e.g., teaching it, creating it part-time and selling it on Etsy)? It’s always possible to “do something” with your passions without abandoning new ones. My friend Melissa is kicking butt at teaching and motherhood, and she’s pursuing her other dream of being a writer through her blog.

The Century Foundation also provides insightful perspective on this…particularly that Marshall could have told her how important she was as a teacher. We can say all we want about education reform, but we have a long way to go. It sure would be nice to see a Hollywood depiction of a real teacher with a balanced life rather than caricatures like Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher or “save all the inner-city kids” types like Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds. The “just a kindergarten teacher” with Lily Aldrin has more impact–because she’s a relatable, regular girl like the rest of us, her disregard of the teaching profession stings more.

Me: I am just a high school teacher. And, yes, I have a degree in engineering, and I was meant to do something with it—teaching math is it. Somewhere along the line I took a risk in pursuing my dream and, and now I’m 32 and one day I’ll be a Mom and it’ll never be too late for me.

 

popcorn challenge

By Kristina

You are trying to decide what popcorn containers to select for a school movie night.

For the four types, calculate:
1) Volume
2) Surface Area
3) Cost per Cup of Popcorn (hint: you’ll need to find out some more information).

The challenge: come up with new popcorn containers that hold the same volume but have less surface area (so they cost less to produce).

Screen shot 2013-03-05 at 9.18.13 AM

Authentic Movie Night: The small plastic tub costs $1.99. It measures 5.25″ across the top and is 5″ tall. The large plastic tub costs $2.99. It measures 7″ across the top and is 7.25″ tall.

Pop-open Popcorn: These cardboard tubs have dimensions 4″W x 8″H. They come in packages of 100 for $22.99.

Movie Time Red: This square plastic tub is 7” by 7” and costs $9.99.

The kids figured out that they had to find the number of cubic inches per cup, so I showed them how to do the conversion by typing it into Google.

 
photo (2)  photo (1)

photo

Some kids figured out to take the second tub and turn it on its side so that the opening would be on the long side (holding the exact same volume but removing a bunch of the cardboard).

I liked this activity for having students manipulate real-world shapes and present their work in front of others. Some groups in one class didn’t get to this challenge activity because they needed more time practicing volume calculations, so they served as judges for choosing the best modifications to the popcorn boxes.

 

productivity hack #3: no cherry-picking

By Kristina

From A Life Less Bullshit:

3. Stop “cherry-picking” your to-do list
My most unproductive days always have one main thing in common: I work through my to-do list in a haphazard order, doing just the easiest things and procrastinating on the bigger, scarier – and much more important – ones. In short, I cherry-pick my to-do list. This month, though, I’m working with a new strategy. First, I brain-dump everything I think needs to get done that day. Then, instead of jumping into that mess by choosing whatever I most want to work on, I re-write the list in a specific, thoughtful order. Which of these things is most important? That one gets the top spot on the list. What’s most important after that? Which tasks need to be done consecutively? And on and on until I have a to-do list that’s much smarter. Then, I start at the top of the list and work on the first task until it’s complete. When it’s complete, I cross it off and move to the second item on the list. I don’t give myself the option of bouncing around, so I don’t waste time wondering what to do next and I don’t waste emotional energy feeling bad about procrastinating on the biggest thing. Oh, and a big bonus of this system is that it works perfectly with the way I check my email, because completing one or two tasks gives me a clear break-point in which to do 30 minutes of email before getting started on the next thing on my list. All in all, it’s a way to create a bias toward real action, because you have to get the first thing on the list accomplished in order to move onto the second thing, and so on.

Over the past year, I have improved from scrawls on scraps of paper to putting my tasks into specific days into Tasks on my Google Calendar like Around the World L, but my priorities aren’t defined clearly. I have a bunch of tasks that I just keep moving forward to the next day, and my only attempt at prioritization is to put an asterisk in the name of must-do tasks so that they get bumped to the top of the list. I also am guilty of doing tasks not on the list and then adding them to the list so I can check them off. It’s time to smarten up my to-do list for MITs: most important tasks.

So there you have it–my next week will be an experiment in email timing, bookends, and MITs!

productivity hack #2 – bookends

By Kristina

Also from A Life Less Bullshit:

2. Create daily “bookends”
The way I start my day has a huge impact on how the next 24 hours unfold. If the first thing I do is reach for my phone and check my email in bed, my mind is already buzzing with a list of things that other people need from me. To stop myself from doing this, I bought an alarm clock to use instead of my phone alarm (remember alarm clocks, haha??), and every night before bed I turn my phone off and leave it in another room so that I’m physically incapable of checking my email from bed. (Hey, you do what you gotta do, right?) Now, with that hurdle taken care of, I’m focusing on creating what I call “daily bookends,” little routines to start and end my day. Because that’s the thing: The beginning and end of our day are the times we have the most control over. In the middle of the day, we’re subject to other people’s wants and needs by email, phone, in person, all of it – and it can be tough to focus on what’s most important to us when we’re being bombarded on all sides by other people. With this in mind, one of the easiest ways to ensure you’re still focusing on your personal priorities is to create a simple morning and evening routine to act as “bookends” to your day. Your morning routine might be 10 minutes and involve a latte and quiet meditation. It might be 40 minutes and involve writing in your journal and eating pancakes. For me, it’s peppermint tea and accomplishing one complete task for Life Less Bullshit (writing this note to you, for example, or outlining a blog post). No matter what your routine entails and how long it lasts, starting your day with something important to you sets an empowered tone for the rest of the day. And then, at the end of the day, it’s nice to have a “just before bed” routine, too. You know, a little way to end the day on your own terms instead of just falling into bed like an exhausted wreck. For me, that means 10 minutes of tidying up my apartment and laying out my workout clothes for the morning. For you, it might mean taking a bath, or washing all of your dishes, or reading in bed, or calling your mother. Whatever makes you feel your best. Our daily bookend routines don’t have to be strict, long, or complicated, but I’ve found that I function much better when I draw lines around my time and put a high priority on the things I know are important to me.

The “checking email in bed” was so me…at 5:30 a.m. and at 11:30 p.m.! The habit got so bad that I’d look at email (personal and work) constantly and set a precedent that I’d reply to people at all hours of the night. I also started playing Words with Friends and Scramble under the covers, which further impacted the quality of my sleep. Healthier behaviors at the beginning and end of the day will help me with overall productivity.

My bookends will be:

– Morning: at least for the next week, a morning workout (Pure Barre in Boston or Yogaglo at home), followed by a protein-full breakfast and Bellocq Breakfast tea. Gulp…this will be a difficult change. In the beginning of February, I tried a 6:00 a.m. Pure Barre class on a whim, and discovered I actually liked it. I never thought I’d be a morning exerciser, but now that I don’t do lesson planning in the mornings, I can actually fit in a full hour workout! However, I haven’t tried to do a full five days in a row of morning workouts. Alternating days has been the best I’ve done so far, but a consecutive day habit will require better sleep.

…which leads me to:

– Evening: packing my lunch, setting up the teakettle and tea, laying out an outfit, packing my work bag, writing in my one-line-a-day journal, drinking Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime or Honey Lavender tea and reading. This will be money-saving, time-saving, and calming.

productivity hack #1 – email timer

By Kristina

From A Life Less Bullshit‘s email newsletter on March 1:

1. Set a timer when answering your email
I’ve read a lot of tips about how to best organize your inbox by using labels and folders and filters, and while I definitely think some of those techniques can be helpful, I’ve also found that solely focusing on email organization can mask the real problem. Buying pretty boxes to hold all of your clutter doesn’t actually help you de-clutter, you know? Especially considering that what I really want is to make email my bitch, which means that the first thing I do is treat it like a once-in-a-while task instead of an all-day ongoing activity. I mean, listen, I know myself well enough by now to admit that if my inbox is open and an email arrives, I’m going to read it. I might not respond to it, but I’m compelled to read it, which completely breaks my focus from whatever I was working on when the email popped up. So, instead of keeping my email open all day, I treat it like a task. Periodically throughout the day, I open my inbox and I set a timer on my phone for 30 minutes. Then, I start at the bottom of the inbox (aka the emails that have been there the longest) and I answer them, in the order they were received, as quickly and efficiently as possible. I don’t skip around from email to email, I just go straight up from bottom to top, answering and archiving each message, and when the timer goes off I close my inbox. Then, I do this same thing again a few hours later, on and on throughout the day. By batch-processing my email like this, I’m able to focus on my work when I’m working and I’m also able to respond to the email itself more efficiently with the motivation of the timer. It’s almost like a game now – how many emails can I answer in 30 minutes?! – and it’s really helped boost my productivity during non-email periods.

I keep hearing a lot about only checking email three times a day, and I’ve dabbled with this (and feel proud of myself when I can go until after lunchtime without checking personal email). However, my work email inbox keeps growing…and I find my planning periods sometimes get dominated by answering them. I like Nicole’s ideas for a 30 minute time limit and answering from bottom to top. She has also mentioned in another email newsletter to check email standing up. I’m going to try both strategies for a week each.