My Teachable Point of View

I thought this might be relevant to share with you all. As part of a leadership program at work, I had to write a Teachable Point of View (TPOV). After taking a freakishly accurate profile assessment, a report was generated that identified my strengths and areas I need to improve. From that, I came up with a TPOV. Without further adieu, here it is:

My friend and I have been training for a Crossfit partner competition for the last two months.  It’s been an emotional roller coaster as we have had highs and lows depending on the day, depending on whether we are energized or fatigued, whether we are mentally encouraging or psyching ourselves out. Finally, less than a week away from the competition, we were feeling pretty good about it. There will be 3 workouts and we had strategies for them all. We have practiced, hit new PR’s and finally felt like we can go there and kick some butt.

Then today, we noticed that we made an incorrect assumption in one of the movements and it sent me straight into a panic.  There’s a movement called wall balls where basically you face a wall, do an air squat holding a weighted ball and on the way up from the squat, you release the ball upwards to hit a target. We incorrectly assumed the target was 9 feet. Turns out its 10 feet. For someone as short as me, an extra foot is a huge adjustment. Wall balls are my nemesis to begin with but I somehow managed to conquer them …at 9 feet anyways. Now 5 days away from competing, my confidence is totally shot. How on earth am I going to hit a ten foot target, 40 times no less? We were planning on alternating sets of 10 to complete the total of 80. Every expletive you can think of crossed my mind and I was about ready to say forget it; I am not cut out to compete.

Thankfully my friend reminded me it’s a PARTNER competition and we can still do this. She suggested that she could do more of the Wall Balls if I can do more of the burpee deadlifts. (In case you are wondering what in the world is a burpee deadlift? Here’s how it works. With a weighted bar on the ground, you grip it about at shoulder width, jump down into a push up, keeping your hands on the bar and your toes on the ground so that your chest hits the bar. Then you jump back up to your feet hip width apart and deadlift the bar up so you are in a standing position). Compared to wall balls, these are my strength. I can do this movement fast.  So to play on each of our strengths and weaknesses, we changed up the rep scheme and now have a new plan. Instead of sets of 10’s for Wall Balls, my friend will do sets of 15 and I will do sets of 5. For burpee deadlifts, instead of alternating sets of 5’s, I will do 10’s and my friend will do 5 (so that I end up doing the majority of them to make up for my deficit in  wall balls). I drafted up a new strategy for each of the 4 movements for that workout, sent it to my friend and we agreed we would practice before the competition to see how we feel.

I failed myself about a hundred times in the 5 minutes of panic I experienced this morning. I focused right on the negative (wall balls) and never once thought about the other movements I am strong at to find a way to balance it out. I let one movement undermine all my training and confidence.  In a heartbeat, I went from feeling like Super Woman to feeling like the weakest woman on the planet. And it hit me hard that here I am, case and point, holding myself to such a high standard that I am way too critical.

I am fortunate to be partnered with someone who instead of giving up on me or trying to find a partner replacement before Saturday, she said ok, let’s take a step back and come up with a new plan. It won’t be easy but it will be doable. She reminded me I am still strong and I will not be dead weight. We can do this.

Once I got past the panic and self-demoralization, I was able to rationally come up with a few different rep schemes for the workout. I looked at the “process” if you will to find out where it can be improved. I didn’t want to have either of us doing the majority of the work for all movements as it would slow us down as a team. With balancing out the schemes for wall balls and burpee deadlifts while not messing with pull ups or clusters (don’t ask, that movement is just downright nasty), we were able to recognize what needs tweaking and what works.  Like any process in the workplace even, it’s crucial we know when to execute it versus when to take a step back to see where it needs to be adjusted or improved. This is something I tend to do well and pride myself on. Processes are in place for a reason yet it is important that we know when it will not work.  My problem is before I can evaluate process, I need to remove the self-doubt and self-criticism so that I can think it through logically.

There are “Wall Ball Situations” in the workplace all the time.  You get called into your boss’ office to help with a project and your immediate thought is “I am not skilled enough to take this on.” Or you get an email from a colleague that says “let’s chat about this project” and your first response is, “Oh no what did I miss?” Your boss is selecting you based on your skills while you so quickly rule yourself out based on your weaknesses. Your colleague might just have standard questions to understand the project better. Not every initiated contact necessarily means someone is desperate to tell you that you are not good enough at your job.  Ok so I shouldn’t speak for you but for me, these are common thoughts that go through my head. It’s the self-doubt and ridiculous standards that can get in the way of good judgment.

We are all part of a team, part of a process. We do not always need to have all the pieces to the puzzle. It’s ok that we lean on other people. In fact, that’s what teams are for. We collaborate. We strategize. We support. We balance each other out. Nobody is perfect.

So I am vowing to do this for myself (and I encourage you do the same):  The next time I encounter a wall ball situation, instead of beating myself up about it, I will take a deep breath. Remind myself that if let rational thoughts in and the emotions out, I can make things happen.

Small Changes in Diet Make Big Differences

Hi friends!

I’ve been asked a few times recently how I lost a few pounds so I think I can fill you in on how I did it. Spoiler alert: it is not rocket science.

*Also disclaimer: I am paraphrasing from what I learned from my nutritionist. So definitely don’t use any of my references as final fact.

I elicited the help of my amazing sister, Stacy, as she is a registered nutritionist. She had me track my food for a week.  I used (and there’s an app too) to capture every little thing I put into my body. Turns out some of those little things are the biggest calorie offenders.

Stacy wanted to get an idea of quantities, where I was getting my calories and if I was taking in too many of them.  From her analysis, she surmised that I was snacking too much. She told me something to the effect of “Do you know your snacks are the equivalent of another meal?” I was eating A LOT of dried fruit and nuts.  She pointed out that raisins, for example, have potassium but otherwise eating too  many overrides the nutritional value, and yet I was  treating them like a staple in my diet. I had them with almonds for one of my afternoon snacks as well as in one of the veggie dishes I was eating for lunch.

Here is what my typical diet was:

Breakfast: Paleo oatmeal (egg whites, full egg, almond milk, flax seed and banana cooked with a little almond butter)

Morning snack: Grapes/berries

Lunch: Cooked broccoli dish with sundried tomatoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic. Cauliflower pilaf with almonds, raisins, coconut flakes and dried apricots

1st afternoon snack: a whole lot of almonds with raisins and occasionally coconut flakes

2nd afternoon snack: vegan protein shake

Dinner: Salad (with carrots, sun dried tomatoes, onions, avocado, dates and oil with pepper and salt as dressing)

Stacy quickly saw I was getting a lot of unnecessary calories not just from the almonds and raisins but also the coconut oil I was cooking it with. Dates (oh how I love them) are hundreds of calories. So having a few of those in a salad was adding to my dried fruit downfall. She suggested making a few tweaks and said that if I am snacking that much that I am not getting full from my meals.

Here is what she recommended tweaking:

  • For lunch, no more of that cauliflower pilaf. Replace it with something like carrot sticks and homemade hummus. (which I now make just using low sodium garbanzo beans, a drizzle of EOO, squeezed lemon juice and salt and pepper)
  • Ditch the 1st afternoon snack. Meals should keep me full for 3 hours so I only need one. I could stick with the protein shake
  • For dinner, as much as I want those dates, they are not going to help me lose weight. Instead of using the olive oil as dressing I could mix less than half an avocado into a paste and combine with sun dried tomatoes (it’s in a jar with oil so that replaces the EOO). I use that to coat my lettuce, onions, carrots, tomatoes or whatever veggies I have on hand


Stacy told me she rather I eat as much veggies and fresh fruit as I want as opposed to the dried stuff.  Eating 10 dried apricots is the equivalent of 5 whole apricots and really, who eats that in one sitting?

Another great tip she gave me is that people often mistake thirst for hunger. So before I go grabbing for a snack, I should drink water. 

Every body is different. I am by no means an expert on nutrition (I will leave that to my sister and other professionals). I am the type of person that will stick with the same foods for years and not get bored. Ask my friends (aka the Lunch Girls) back from my Jersey City working days. I ate a veggie burger religiously every day. The thing though is when I got to the point (aka when I got the body scan results) I realized that my diet was not working for me anymore. I was getting into bad habits and doing them daily. I needed to change them. I don’t miss the offenders as much as I thought I would. (although I confess I do snack a lot more than I should on almond butter. Someone please take me to Almond Butter Anonymous!) Sometimes the best things are good things in moderation. My sister, my very own nutritionist, threw a few dried cranberries in my salad for dinner once and I was appalled. “A few cranberries aren’t going to kill you.” So I also realized the importance of balancing a healthy diet with not having to live it 100% of the time.