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The Zombie Apocalypse and the CDC

I have an unhealthy interest in zombies. I think it started with watching the Walking Dead this past fall. I have had real discussions about my zombie attack plan of action. (It changes depending on where I am at the time and whether we are dealing with the kind that like water or don’t.)

But what does this have to do with the CDC? Well, a few weeks ago the CDC decided to take advantage of everyone’s love or irrational fear of zombies. They actually dedicated an entire page to preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Yes, that’s right. Real life zombies.

The posting has been so popular—more than 30,000 hit in three days—that it crashed the CDC’s servers. Dave Daigle, the Associate Director for Communications at the preparedness and response division explained that the strategy behind the page was to spark interest emergency preparedness.

What better way to connect with people and make emergency preparedness cool than by relating it to something like zombies?

I think this was a perfect example of an organization that could be seen as stale capitalizing off a meme that spans generations. They did it in a smart way, using Twitter and its blog to reach a new audience.

Of course, the hallmark of a good stunt is if there is measurable changes.

Ten days later (get it, like 28 days later?) the zombies were followed by hurricanes. Hopefully, the strategy paid off and people paid attention to the CDC’s recommendations.


Prana Power Yoga

Prana was my first real introduction to hot yoga. I walked in an experienced yogi, scoffing at the girl behind the desk when she asked if I wanted a towel. A towel? No I am good.

Then I walked into the studio. OMG I wanted a towel. I started sweating immediately. (TMI?)

So after that first class I came more prepared.

My favorite class to go to is on Friday night. There is something about unwinding after a long week with a good sweat that I just really enjoy. What I like best about the instructors at Prana is that they really do walk you through the flow. They aren’t afraid to touch you and are perfectly comfortable making sure that you are in the pose appropriately even though you are sweating bullets.

Friday night also happens to be Prana 2 Music. The  music is amazing and usually takes my mind off of how hot it is.

Recommendation: Try several of the classes they offer, because they are all really great.


You Don’t Have to Wear Pants!

I am at the moment a mixture of nerves and excitement. My fiancé recently received a job offer in D.C. A really good one, for a good firm that is going to give him a lot of great learning opportunities.

That pretty much means I have to go with him. (happily, I swear I am going happily) Being anxious to get out into the workforce he wants to start in mid-June, which means we are moving soon. We are also getting married soon. So, I was in sort of a conundrum. New city, new life, new job? That is a lot of new.

Luckily, I work for a very generous company that has figured out a way to work beyond geographical boundaries. So instead of having an entirely new job I just get a new working lifestyle.

I will be joining the ranks of telecommuters.  A few of those comrades have already bestowed some wisdom:

  1. Have a separate room for your office, with a door (says my dad and uncle) to shut work out at the end of the day
  2. Get dressed, no PJs although slippers are acceptable (says an SVP)
  3. Set boundaries and don’t let friends/family interrupt you during working hours

What are some of the other tips you have for me as I begin my new journey as a telecommuter?Anything in particular that will make the transition easier?


Exploring a New City…Fitness Style

A few weeks ago, my fiancée received a job offer in Washington, D.C. Seeing as how we live in NYC that meant we had to consider packing up and moving. There really wasn’t much discussion and we are moving. THEN a great opportunity to become a sort of fitness ambassador popped into my inbox from FitFluential.

So I thought what better way to explore and get acquainted with a new city than to do it through fitness? So FitFluential, here is my application and why I should be your Washington, D.C. ambassador!

  • The first thing I did when we started looking up neighborhoods was figure out how far the nearest gym was.
  • The second thing I did was see how far away the nearest yoga studio was.
  • The third thing I did was figure out the running paths and the race calendar.

On top of everything else, I am a fanatic when it comes to trying new and different exercises and fitness programs, both at the gym and at home. My main goal is to show people that exercise doesn’t have to be all about losing weight. For me, it is a stress reliever. I work in what CareerCast.com called the 2nd most stressful job this year…so yeah let’s just say exercise and being healthy is a release.

I recently met and fell in love with TRX. It is probably one of the best workouts ever (well, next to Soul Cycle).

Pikes on TRX are incredibly difficult. Don't let this photo fool you.

See yoga in the middle of my messy tiny NYC apt…

Yoga in a tiny apt? Won't stop me....

As I mentioned above, running is a big part of my fitness life and I LOVE the running community. Last December my friends and I ran New York Road Runner’s Jingle Bell Jog in Prospect. We got really into it.

Yes, I did run 4 miles in those ears...the nose not so much

Below is a lil video to show you just how dedicated I would be (holding a plank for 90 seconds is serious dedication, or at least I think so). So think it over and let me know.

Holding a plank

Admitting Mistakes, Facing Failure

I have never been good at failing. One slip up can cause a tailspin that seems to me uncontrollable. That is why April’s issue of the Harvard Business Review, which completely focused on failure, was such an interesting read.

It took a long hard look at every aspect of failing. From admitting failure to making sure you understand why you fail.

In Charlene Li’s article, “The Art of Admitting Failure” she discusses three ways to fail successfully. Most importantly she notes that an effective leader builds an organization that is resilient in the face of inevitable failures.  It’s a good read for anyone who is still growing into their position as a manager.

But, to be effective in your growth as a professional you have to understand why you fail.  That requires (a) admitting when you fail and (b) reflecting on your failure. Both are difficult, but understanding why you fail is probably the only thing that can keep you from making the same mistakes.

Below is a checklist on how to reflect on failure.

  1. Was this really my true north? I recently had a conversation with one of my supervisors (appearance number five) about starting to look at documents not as “what would she think about it,” but “what would Laney think about it.” In order to succeed I have to want it. In order to want it, I have to truly believe that this is my calling.
  2. Was my own standard reasonable? I have always had incredibly high standards.  (please see here) Standards that may not be the same as those around me. Tjan recommends giving yourself a pep talk after a failure, because you aren’t expected to be able to do everything right the first time around.
  3. Did I try everything to succeed? Look, there are some times when my heart just isn’t in it. That’s when documents have a missing comma or a misspelled word. Maybe I was too tired; maybe I just needed a break. Only I know if I tried my hardest.
  4. Are you being “Macromyopic” and overdramatizing the short-term impact of the mistake? Here is that whole concept of it being a marathon and not a sprint. Yes, in the short term it may be bad, but what is the long term impact?
  5. What can I learn from my failure? Where is the learning opportunity? What could you have done differently? Admit that even if you run everything as smoothly as possible, something can go wrong and you can’t succeed. You can only try again.

Failure can be extremely rewarding when it provides valuable feedback on whether we are heading in the right direction or are asking too much too soon and need to adjust our expectations. If it doesn’t do that, well then it is just failure.


Soul Maintenance in the Form of Spinning

I like spinning. I always get a good workout and my heart rate skyrockets. So in the back of my mind, I always knew I wanted to check out some of those fancy cycle studios.

Cut to Saturday when I decided to finally try Soul Cycle. I L-O-V-E-D LOVED it!

To explain why, allow me to take you through the class at the Union Square Soul Cycle studio with Jenny.  I was nervous when I walked into the studio. I had never used the special shoes for spinning and knew this was a requirement. The people behind the counter were not only friendly they were also incredibly helpful.

When we were finally let into the windowless, candlelit, hot box of a studio I started to feel a little more comfortable. A nice regular showed me how to work my shoes just as a Soul Cycle rep walked over to introduce me to the whole process. I was doubley impressed that they actually took the time to make sure newbies were comfortable and set up.

Then Jenny got to work. Her energy and positive spirit was infectious as she took us through a series of sprints, climbs, core work, and even a quick on-bike arm-sculpting session with light weights. The music was fantastic and the workout was a super-intense, total body-toning workout.

They aren’t joking when they say you feed off each other. Watching the people around me made me want to do better and stick it out longer.

The words on the wall are just as inspiring as the feeling you get when you are done with the 45-minute workout. I could be in some serious trouble, since one word stuck out a little more…

Glee Gets Message Right…Eventually

On first blush, Glee really upset me during “Born This Way.” The message was great, be comfortable with who you are, love yourself warts and all. Then however, Lauren found out that Quinn was in the not so distant past overweight, pimply and unhappy.

Lauren tried to use it to her advantage and confronted Quinn. Here is the thing though, Quinn didn’t take the easy way out AT ALL. She WORKED for her new life. She took up ballet and other fitness activities to lose weight. So she got a nose job…big deal (maybe that’s the Jew in me, thanks for pointing that out Glee).

The kicker and I was all ready to write a scathing post about Glee is that (oops) Lauren’s plan backfired and the masses saw Quinn as the inspiration that she was. Ok, maybe she could be a little more forgiving and nicer to those less fortunate than her now, but isn’t she the nicest of the popular girls?

I really hope those kids who are sad and unhappy with their weight take a page from Quinn’s book and take an opportunity to reinvent themselves. It is totally 100% acceptable to do so; that is one of the best parts about being young.

It will not be easy and you will certainly want to quit. But, no one will look down on you for doing it.

Bikram Yoga Grand Central

I am a HUGE fan of yoga. It has helped me get through some tough training seasons and most of all actually taught me how to relax.

One of my favorite types of yoga though is hot yoga. So when a Dealist special came out for the newly opened Bikram Yoga Grand Central, I jumped at the chance.

I went to my first class the other day (11:00 AM on Sunday) and found the space to be AMAZING and the people there incredibly warm and friendly. They have a great sun deck that would be an ideal space to have a quick bite when the weather actually allows it.

The yoga studio has this super comfortable covering. I don’t even know what to call it, but it isn’t hardwood floor and is springy. The temperature is just right and I started sweating from just being in there.

I wasn’t so enthused with our instructor. I had such high hopes when she went around and wrote down all of our names so she would know who we are. However, as the class got started she pretty much stayed put at the front and barked orders at us. I like an instructor who is calm and helps you adjust.

The positions were great and I felt good after the workout. I have a month unlimited so I will be trying a new instructor this week.

Breaking My Sugar Addiction

Hello, my name is Laney and I am a sugar addict. I can avoid M&Ms, I can stay away from gummy bears, but if you put Girl Scout cookies or ice cream or most of all a red velvet cupcake in front of me I just can’t say no.

My sweet tooth kicks in before I even finish dinner. I can literally eat my last bite and turn to J to see if I can convince him to go to Baskin Robbins.  Anything can trigger it really and it doesn’t always have to be ice cream. An apple or a pink grapefruit will do the trick too (although let’s be honest).

The sick part about all this is that, I am relatively healthy in every other way. I eat salads and fish and hardly ever find myself eating fried food. I exercise at least five times a week, sometimes more.  I don’t have a weight problem, but I do get tired a lot—suspect that has to with my blood sugar.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association says that Americans eat an average of 21 teaspoons of added sugar a day (meaning sugar that’s not naturally occurring, as in fruit or milk). The American Heart Association recommends a max of just six teaspoons (or 24 grams) a day for women.  From heart disease to diabetes and cavities sugar has its consequences.

So for the next month, I’m going to avoid sugary desserts, snacks and drinks and try to remove as much added sugar as I can in the rest of the food I eat.  This is going to be hard, mostly because even my healthy food like Trader Joe’s Greek Style Yogurt has 6 grams of sugar.

So any ideas and encouraging words are welcome.  Here we go.