A better version of “myself”

It’s been a while since I’ve gathered my thoughts in blog form, basically because life got busy.  However, all this thought-buildup is spilling over into my work and daily life, so it’s time to pick up the “pen” again and clear my head.

I have been wanting to be a better version of myself, because that is the cliché that all of us who are “leaning in” are looking to do, every day, all the time.  I have been working to be this better version, rededicating myself every once in a while: in the morning when I get up…during the day when I get a spritz of motivation…in the evening, when I look in the mirror and say, tomorrow starts a new life, Rabbit.

Tomorrow Rabbit

From one of my favorite threads on Reddit.

With the difficulty of all this self-improvement work, I’ve arrived at a big question:

Why do I have to change absolutely everything about me in order to be myself?

1. I need to change my diet.

I’m on the same diet roller coaster that many people are on, my struggle is not new, nor is it unique.  I worry about what I eat for a day.  Or more like a minute.  (Usually a minute where I’m not eating anything at the time.)  I go to bed thinking, tomorrow I’ll eat healthier.  I have a fried egg and toast for breakfast.  I curse the egg and toast at the gym, and vow to get a salad for lunch.  I eat office candy to tide me over at 11am.  (I eat office candy because it’s there.)  Lunchtime rolls around, and I inevitably choose the Italian hot-pressed panini over the turkey sandwich with lots of vegetables, forgetting completely about that salad that I had promised myself.  Post-sandwich coma at 2PM, and I need a soda to wake me up.  Or a coffee.  Or a walk for a cupcake.  If I eat the cupcake, it’s definitely important to have a healthy dinner.  Of course, I should have a slice of 6PM pizza that is left over from the office event.  Two slices, the first one was really small.  Well, now I don’t need dinner at all, do I.

So, I started insulin this week.  Now that my cells are better able to process glucose, more of what I eat will get used by my cells, either as energy or stored into fat.  Guess which route is more likely?

2.  I need to change my exercise habits.

I have battled serious gym/exercise phobia ever since Coach Fiset pulled me out of running the Glenbrook Mile in 5th grade because I was way too slow to complete it and no one wanted to wait for me.  I was a varsity athlete in college who basically functioned as marginally agile ballast when no one else would join the team and show up every day.  The accountability factor is truly the biggest motivator that has keeps me moving, and nothing else has ever continuously worked in terms of motivation. (The fact that I have financial help in order to have a trainer and go to Equinox really doesn’t hurt either.)

When I started at Equinox, I was pretty dedicated, and I could get myself to the gym a few extra times a week for spin class, circuit training, and even yoga.  I’ve “run” a half-marathon and I’ve managed to get my 5-mile road race pace from 13:46/mile to 11:12/mile. (Not pretty, but I’ll take the improvement.) However, I’m terrible about tolerating physical exertion—I feel it sapping at my self-worth as I fail at running faster or working harder, especially in group fitness where everyone can see me. I ask myself, if I’m not really a runner (and those times really say “not a runner”), why am I running at all?

These days, if I’m not meeting my trainer, Lauren, I can barely get myself out of bed.  I have been seeing Lauren for over 2 years, and I really hate letting her down. It’s not like I’m hurting her feelings, but hey, I’ve been a teacher, I hate when my students stop trying.  I really haven’t made any weight loss progress in about a year, and I often have trouble even getting out of the house on time to meet her.  Accountability guilt really sucks.  I wasn’t always like this.

3.  I need to change the way I spend and manage my time.

Not only do I need to get to the gym on time, I need to re-imagine how I manage time in general.  I’m a procrastinator, that part is no secret, but I am also plagued by the typical time management afflictions:  one-more-thing-itis, internet addiction, news FOMO, and overcommitment.  I’m not only late to the gym, when I’m left to my own devices, I’m just a bit late to everything.  More like “kinda-less-than-just-exactly-uncomfortably-on-time,” but late is late.  And there’s always some crazy reason.  Snow traffic.  Overloaded trains.  Walking behind double-wide strollers.  Forgetting my jacket/wallet/T pass/ice skates.

I also can’t focus on a single task at work.  Whenever my workflow stops for some reason, like waiting for something to upload, or stopping to compose a tricky email, I get distracted and feel the need to check “my sites”.  After I return from distraction, it’s like, “wait, where was I?” and it takes a few minutes to get back into the workflow.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I’ve tried laying out my clothes the night before. (What if I feel fatter in the morning?)  I’ve tried packing my bags the night before.  (Inevitably, I forget something this way.  Let’s be honest, I forget something anyways.)  I’ve tried setting clocks forward in my car.  I’ve tried making a schedule.  I’ve tried task lists, both analog and digital.  (There are many apps for that.)

I’ve got all the “adult ADD” symptoms, but I won’t go the Adderall route.  I just don’t want to add another medication to my regimen that might make me fatter, because let’s face it, I need all the help I can get in that department already.

4.  I need to change my work habits.

Besides the work ADD and all that goes with it, I have other “wants” in the improvement department.

I want to speak up more.  I want to say “Sorry” less.  More Sheryl Sandberg.  Less “red-stapler” guy.  (BTW, I’m not 100% bought into “Lean In,” the book.  But like Hansel, it’s just so HOT right now.)

I want to dress like a boss more consistently, and not just have a wardrobe that starts out Sheryl Sandberg on Mondays and ends up Mark Zuckerberg on Fridays.

I want to WANT to embrace difficult tasks, and take lead on challenging projects which take me out of my comfort zone.  I want to be comfortable out of my comfort zone.


I get these days (like today) where I feel like it shouldn’t be so much work to “just be myself”.  But hey, I am my traits as much as I am my struggles.  Also—I’m sure that “better me” will have a whole new set of obstacles to face before becoming “better better me.”  After all, what’s living without having something to look forward to or work towards?

Tomorrow starts a new life, Rabbit.  Tomorrow.

Starting in the middle

I didn’t really want to start a blog in the “middle”.  It’s a bit like starting a book in the middle – you enter, take a few pages to get your bearings, and decide if you want to restart at the beginning and find out the whole story.  However, there’s no beginning here, and no formed direction yet.  A little like my entire life right now.  What better way to get a hold of where I’m going by taking stock of my choices in words?  I’m going to resist the urge to fill in all the back-story right away, and try to stick to what’s on my mind.  However, I only have marginal success in achieving that in real life, nevermind in print.

Things I think about a lot and therefore may decide to write about over time:

  • Vault 31 – our 10+ year horizon “project house”/lifestyle/source of impending continuous marital dissent
  • Crafting – knitting, sewing, building things that are hilarious, yet completely un-sellable due to the inadequate potential compensation for time and materials.
  • Cooking and Eating (and Fitness) – my lifelong dilemma about eating “healthy” yet refusing to give up things that are delicious.  “Healthy” usually loses out.  I also have a bit of a focus on the cultural implications that are imposed upon us by things being labeled as “healthy”.
  • Music – these days, it’s mostly nostalgic waxing about someone else’s musical genius.  That, and a lot of karaoke.
  • Career – this never-ending search for a new career to “define me”, and/or the grand decision of whether or not the role of my new career is to define me or just to provide me with the capital and moderate purpose to sustain the rest of my interests.

And of course, being a “bad Asian” – I can’t be the only one a little lost in the Asian diaspora.  I am 30-something and marginally living up to the Asian stereotype largely misunderstood by media and loosely defined by the movie the Joy Luck Club.  I spent so many years growing up largely white-identified and wishing people wouldn’t see me through Joy Luck glasses.  Yet, when I finally married Soy Sauce guy (see: Joy Luck Club movie) I kept my last name, fearing that it would strip me of the Asian identity that I had taken so many years to develop.

So here it is.  The first steps of my chronicles as a Bad Asian.  My mom always thought I was the “bad child” anyways.