Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lifestyle change update

Well it's been a couple weeks since I started back into the exercise routine along with the eating better (although I did have 2 cupcakes for supper). If I was doing this to lose weight it's be pretty disappointing. I haven't really lost any weight but I'm happy with how things are going.

I'm doing a great range of activities. Yoga is helping me improve my flexibility and balance twice a week. Bootcamp is killing me once a week - there is just no way to not go hard so I'm glad it's only managed to be 45 minutes each week, it must be building endurance. I'm still doing Zumba twice a week because it's so much fun. Once a week Zumba's right after bootcamp so it's not as energetic as it could be.  For more cardiac activity I'm doing an advanced step and a pump class. I just wish there was one more yoga class.

And what about the eating part. I wanted to focus on not eating as much junk food. It's not that I was eating poorly, I was just eating extra stuff late in the evening and I wanted to cut that as much as possible. That part is going well. It's always good to check on your serving size. With my app, I'm finding that I eat not that much but what I eat is kind of fatty and definitely high in sodium. Good thing my blood pressure is on the low side. And there's no scientific studies showing that cutting sodium decreases chances of heart attack - yay.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

First week back at exercise...

and I was away too long. I could see I was starting to lose tone and my serving sizes were creeping up as were the number of "treats". Even though I've missed seeing people and am glad to be back, I did get some new stuff because everything even more fun with new stuff!

I got some new clothes at a new store in town called One Tooth. Very nice quality yoga clothes/active wear for far less than Lululemon. Even though I workout nearly daily, I have problems buying pants for nearly $100 (that includes jeans). So One Tooth is working for me. I also got some new shoes - it was time.

The purchase I'm most excited about, though, is some software for my Galaxy S. It's called Absolute Fitness and I downloaded it from the market. I am a food logger from way back. It forces me to focus on serving size and I'm lazy (yet honest) enough that I eat less because I don't like seeing all those items in a day:) I was looking for something that tracked both calories and exercise. This is a really neat app. You can add foods if you don't find what you eat, it includes all sorts of exercises (for calories burned) and gives a very nice graphic of how you are doing for the day. The daily calorie intake for me is 1850 which seems high but reasonable. It's easy to add your food as you eat it and will show me when I tend to eat - mostly before evening since I exercise in the evening.

I've bumped up the classes I'm doing as well. Over summer I did Zumba for fun. Now I've added Bootcamp before Zumba (are my quads killing me), a flow yoga class on Tuesday, Zumba again on Wednesday, Adv. Step and Flow Yoga on Thursdays, a PUMP class on Saturday morning and intermittent stuff on Sunday. I'm not sure how Thursday is going to work because I have an hour between classes. While it's not to cold, I'll probably come home and shower but as winter sinks in I may shower at the gym and read for awhile before yoga. Or I may do the class right before yoga instead.

I don't do this to lose weight. I tend to eat when I'm not doing anything else so it helps get me off that kick to track my intake. I love exercise classes - I've made lots of friends and it's my opportunity to move to music as my partner is not a dancer. Scalzi has a rant about finding time to write and says just make time. I feel the same way about fitness. Everyone has the same 24 hours, it's how you use it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Paid Labour - a failing social construct?

I was reading the news the other day - much like the Beatles - and decided to read about how Canada's unemployment rate went above 8% to 8.1% in the month of August. Since I live in a very hot job market I'm really an on-looker but I still wonder what the real percentage of people are actually looking for work when these numbers are published. Then I wandering into the comments. The first two comments were anti-Harper comments along the line of - Go Harper raise that unemployment rate. Since we have a capitalist (with safety net) society, I wonder what on earth that means? Is the government supposed to force employers to increase employees? Are our tax dollars supposed to go to an inflated public service so more people can be employed? How much more welcoming can our government be towards business and would it make a difference?

The Industrial Revolution didn't bring about a huge change in labour for most people. Instead of majority of people being peasants they moved to the big city and became labourers. Sure labourer had more autonomy than peasants and seemingly more ability to move up the ladder but most were content to stay where they were. Most people could still identify the fruits of their labour. Good companies fostered paternalism that replaced the serf/lord relationship. You can see it in pictures from the early 1900s. Work for a company and they had housing for you at a reduced rate and did family type stuff like picnics. And so it went  through 2 world wars and for as long as lots of people were needed to make stuff. Things were by no means perfect but basically you worked and got paid. If you did a good job, you stayed employed and even got raises - that was the social contract.

To me that contract seems to be failing and I can pinpoint when it happened in Alberta. The economic downturn in the early '90s. Employees were laid off because companies would go under if they didn't. Employees went along on the unspoken understanding that when times got better, jobs would return. Then the government wanted to reduce costs by 5% so the nurses trimmed and retired enough to offer that 5%. In return the provincial government said - thanks, now *we'll * implement the 5% reduction. The thing I noticed the most about that 5% cut was that it affected jobs performed mostly by women; teachers, administrators and nurses - and male feminists rarely speak out in those situations - they need their jobs too. In Alberta, the public sector lead the way in fracturing the work contract. Businesses started to lay off if they weren't going to make their profits for the year as it was an easy way to cut costs. Lose some people, save their wages and redistribute work. Jobs have returned but the stability of knowing that if you do a *good job* your job will be there never has. Sure you can't get fired but make up some reason to slow down and get rid of a position....

Fast forward to the present. People making the most money don't seem to contribute to the actual manufacture of a product. The economy has recovered to a great extent yet there is still high unemployment rates; at this point jobs aren't coming back so new ones have to be created but by who? Everyone seems to be buying into the idea that company profitability is THE reason for ... everything!  Why would new jobs be created when they can squeeze the people they have. Management disrespects people's skills and knowledge then complains that the quality of employee isn't the same as it used to be AND they are rewarded in the form of tax cuts from the government.

Yet I still hear about an upcoming labour shortage as baby boomers retire. How is this possible? When I was growing up it was a given that the work day would shorten and we would have lots of time to do fun stuff. It seems like all the "leisure time" has been concentrated to create a higher unemployment rate. There is less jobs to be had and more automation. Minimum wage here seems reasonable but how many part time jobs do you need to cover expenses?  Questions, questions. Our economy seems to be based on infinite growth - or at least infinite for now.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Autumn is time to diet and exercise reset

We tend to be on a scholastic year even though neither of us have been in school for decades. The back to school specials combined with the impending end of warm weather activities makes it a good time to think about our winter schedule.

I started thinking about my activity schedule last month and have been eagerly waiting for the fall/winter schedule at nrg4life. I found I was injury/ache prone last year so I asked Grace how she stays so fit and defined. Grace exercises hours a day because she really enjoys it and her favorite activity is power yoga. The hours have changed this year so I can take both evening yoga classes. Fred wants to do some intense kayaking in the Cooks next year so I'll be doing bootcamp to improve my upper body strength. Still enjoying Zumba so that's twice a week and I want to do an advanced step because Grace may add some dimensional routines which are a blast. I also want to do a core routine everyday. My Yoga Online has some very good short core focused routines that I'll be using.

Well that takes me away from the kitchen but what about stocking the kitchen for when I'm home? Fall is horrible for snacking, somewhere inside me is a bear that wants to bulk up for hibernation:) It's really important to have healthy snacks and some kind of meal plan since I exercise during supper hour. This year it looks like there will be lots of stir-fries and we'll probably end up with quesidillas again. I would like to use our slow cooker more but it makes a lot of food and the more food available the more likely we are to take excessive serving sizes.

Exercise is an important part of my winter activity and not just for calories burned. Think about it, a chocolate bar takes almost an hour of hard activity to balance. No the benefits are getting out to see people, relieving stress through activities and keeping busy to prevent boredome eating.

What are you doing to get ready for winter?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Breaking a personal rule

Hopefully this isn't the slippery slope into ethics failure but I feel compelled to blog about work. While work doesn't define who or what I am, it is somewhere I spend a lot of time and have a lot of emotional investment in. News that catches my eye is elevator deaths and food safety violations. I am always disappointed but not surprised when news headlines are followed by reports from employees that they tried to communicate with management about near misses but were ignored. I see this all the time.

Working for a large company I can really see the disconnect between the "slow down for safety" coming from the top down, the desire for manpower at the worker and line supervisor to work safely and the continuing drive to optimize production at all levels in between; the classic organizational culture vs. climate problem. After 10 years of trying to create a safety climate with specific training to most management, there is still a struggle to create a safety culture at the operations management level. There are metrics for shipping, receiving and incidents but without a buy in from that OpMan there is incomplete metrics on near misses for both safety and food safety.

My, should have seen this coming, moment was with regard to product quality. Operating parameters verifications were routinely off spec but operations management believed it was just due to operational changes so disregarded the specs creating all sorts of problems. After years of working with a proactive management I couldn't truly believe that I was now working with a reactive management team. Even now that operations are back near the conditions they had been, operations management seems to believe that what happened was inevitable.

Is a safety incident also inevitable? Our operations manager is minimally involved with safety. He hasn't attended safety training since coming to our location. He skips safety events for employees in favour of production related tasks setting an example that encourages short cuts; kiboshes local safety initiatives that haven't been top down mandated; nods in tacit agreement with a safety violation and has a colleague doing damage control (oh he doesn't phrase things right) after he displays a stunningly negative safety attitude. Will he still be here when the fruits of his labours mature?

In a company with multiple locations, the only true way to measure the of each location is incidents. Upper management wants to believe that all is well; location management is ethical (or at least following the company ethics guideline) and that the workers are just jamming for more money or expensive upgrades that have no payback for the stock holder. Line supervisors are stuck in the middle, on the hook for incidents while being bypassed by management when determining operations.