Category Archives: Geek

“I’m stuck! My scale’s stuck! What do I do?”

Stuck_Scale

I once did a blog post on plateaus and how to break them. Today I’m going to expand upon that and give more tips based on personal experience and watching others go through similar experiences:

  1. Move more! Find ways to squeeze in an extra 5-15 minutes throughout your day versus one long, crazy workout. You’ll be less likely to overtrain and get injuries this way, too. More tips on increasing physical activity here.
  2. Log EVERYTHING. Use sites like MyFitnessPal.com and cronometer.com to track food intake.
  3. Make sure you’re getting enough nutrition. Make sure you’re getting enough calories. I see a LOT of people plateau if they severely undereat because after a time, your body will go into starvation mode. If you’re eating under 1000 calories and/or have a calorie deficit greater than 1000 on a regular basis, you are in this category. Maybe what you were doing was working to start but it doesn’t work for the long run.
  4. Consider getting a device such as a Bodymedia or FitBit to track calorie burn. You may be under or overestimating calorie burn, which can affect your performance and how valuable your diet is. See #3.
  5. Change up your routine! Avoid steady state cardio and try new ways of burning calories.
  6. Pump that iron! Try heavier weights or mix it up.
  7. Take rest days! You could be overtraining, and your body can not only adapt quickly but will treat it like a burden and just “get by”. Don’t work out for hours per day. Extreme workouts will NOT get you extreme results, but being consistent with both eating and exercise habits will.
  8. Weight loss and fitness goals are a marathon, not a sprint. If you look for a quick fix you can expect to gain the weight back and return to where you were at to start when you’re done. Worse yet, you could gain more than you had to begin with. Go for the long haul. There ARE healthy approaches that are of shorter duration than most, and if done right can help to start you off on the right track, or shake you up. I highly recommend the 3 Day Refresh for this.

If your problem is motivation, consider getting an exercise buddy. I’m also available to you as a coach to help you with your fitness goals.

 

 

Women in the Professional Geek World

I haven’t done too many blog posts on geek topics as of late, namely because I’ve been trying to keep my fitness and software development worlds separate, but I thought that this was too important not to comment on.

There have been a few blog posts I’ve been reading recently on the subject of women developers and IT staff, one at Coding  Horror and another over at Girl Developer, an awesome blog I was happy to be introduced to as a result of Coding Horror.

I have an advantage a lot of women didn’t in my generation: I grew up with computers. For Millennials this is a non-issue, but when I was growing up, the idea of the PC–personal computer–was brand spanking new. I never thought of them any differently than any other game or toy, and it’s how I got started in programming to begin with. One afternoon being bored and coming across a BASIC manual was enough for me to get going. I was no older than six. With the advent of the Internet however, the concept of the computer became “cool”, and smartphones have increased that perspective. And of course, social media took care of the rest.

Prior to the arrival of such things, anyone who had an interest in computers was associated with this type of image:

nerds

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that other guys were okay with my being a geek girl. Prior to then, I was a threat, and the fact that I could code circles around them did NOT help. But when I got older, suddenly guys wanted to hang with me because I could “speak geek”. In fact, I’d call it a second language at this point if not a first. Then of course, there’s my love of science fiction and fantasy. While people were watching “Friends”, I was watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.

And let’s face it, science fiction has better role models for us than pop culture:

fgg2

However…what drives me crazy is that decades later…women are still minorities in this industry. People who interview me for jobs still wax poetic about how “neat” it is that I am both female and a software engineer. I still read on programming forums how women like me supposedly do not exist and if we do, we have less skills than male programmers. There are some men out there, thankfully, who step in on their blogs and inform other men that we do indeed exist. But the fact remains that they still HAVE to, which is utterly ridiculous. In short, it’s 2014, I’m still a purple unicorn, and women like me are met with a great deal of skepticism.

Nowadays women have to deal with the “fake geek girl” accusation because we have the audacity to like a “male” activity. I’m not even sure how activities can be either male or female without it strictly involving biology, but I digress.

geekgirlsfake

It’s no secret that the stereotype of software engineers being introverts tends to hold true, while I do NOT fit that mold. I love interacting with people and helping them out, and it’s probably why a lot of software companies enjoy hiring me: they know I can communicate in addition to being able to be a good coder. I wind up in a lot of client facing roles as a result, which I don’t mind and rather enjoy. As always, YMMV.

So the question remains: how do you get more women in there? Wait, I know! How about speaking out against the following:

  • Accusing women of being “fake geek girls” because obviously it’s impossible for women to really be geeks.
  • Telling women they can’t REALLY be a programmer/gamer/science fiction fan/etc because they’re too “pretty”.
  • Telling people women can’t possibly be programmers/gamers/science fiction fans/etc and even if they were, they’d be less knowledgeable than men.
  • Paying women less in those fields than a man would make for the same skillset and expertise.

And instead, support the following:

  • Foster a positive attitude towards women in engineering, science, and other “nerd spaces”.
  • Raise your daughters to become geeks! My dad did a pretty good job with that. 🙂
  • Encourage teachers and professors who treat women no differently than men in the classroom starting from their youth going forward.

And above all else, don’t overlook  us.

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do is bridge the two worlds that I have and love: fitness and software engineering. Beyond a few positions I’ve worked in within the healthcare industry, it hasn’t manifested. So I’ve taken it upon myself to start working on a product that would help the fitness industry and give me the chance to flex my programming muscles. I have a survey for fitness professionals to fill out, actually, which will help me (and YOU!) a great deal.

Being healthy, happy, and fit in a 9-5 sedentary world

I’m a software engineer. I’ve been in my career for almost fifteen years now, and have spent way, way, way too much of my time seated at a desk, bent over a keyboard typing out code.

Obviously this isn’t healthy. We weren’t designed for long periods of sitting day in and day out, eating processed food, and sitting in traffic to and from this experience. It’s not ideal. It’s not conducive to our well-beings.

Okay, so you may be thinking, “Yeah, no kidding, Tea-Addicted Geek, so what the heck do I do about it?” Great question! I’m here to share with you based on years of experimentation and pain what has worked for me.

  1. Park as far away from your building as possible and walk.
  2. STAIRS. Walk them. Ditto with Escalators. Up AND down. It drives me nuts to watch fellow fitness coaches just STANDING there on an escalator going down! I am used to taking absolutely every advantage I have to be active, and this is one of those things.
  3. Get. Up. Walk away from your desk. Grab water. Grab tea. Drink it. If this means frequent bathroom breaks, GREAT! Even better: take the time to walk to your co-workers versus sending them emails. You’ll look more proactive AND you’ll be on  your feet more.
  4. Go for walks during lunch breaks, indoors or outdoors. No place to do it? Walk up and down the stairs.
  5. Get up earlier and work out before going to work. For some this may be challenging. I am NOT a morning person, and some mornings for me are better than others.
  6. Bag your lunch. You’ll save money AND you won’t be eating crap (or tempted to do so).
  7. Join any wellness, fitness classes or programs your workplace provides. My own place of employment will be offering a series of Zumba classes this month.
  8. Do exercises at your desk. Visit those links and see what works for you!
  9. STRETCH. My neck and shoulders are prone to strain and injury due to my occupation, and stretching every hour helps. I also recommend rumble rollers or foam rollers. Worth. Every. Penny.
  10. If you can take public transportation to work, DO SO. It’s not only green, but it’s also giving you more chances to be active and on your feet! It could (and does) make the caloric burn difference. When I have a job in downtown Boston, I burn an extra 200-400 calories per day on average according to my Bodybugg. It takes 3500 calories to burn in order to lose a pound, that’s 500 calories PER DAY extra to burn. See how much that could help?
  11. Tips on healthy snacks at work: hummus and veggies, pieces of fruit, rice cakes, meal bars (watch the sugar!!), and smoothies. I sometimes bring a travel blender into work in order to make my Shakeology protein smoothies.
  12. Find out if any of your co-workers are into fitness, maybe organize a regular group walk. It’s social, it’s fun, and it can only help you and others in the long run.

If you work in a career like, odds are likely not everyone will be as mindful as you. They may want to eat crap, sit around, and be perfectly happy about that. Some may even make fun of you or try to sabotage your success. Don’t let them! It’s YOUR life, not theirs, and they’re perfectly welcome to do what they want with theirs. In the end, YOU have to live with your body, your health, and your happiness.

And who knows? Maybe one of them will join you for a quick walk around the building. 🙂

Movies, movies, movies!

It’s looking like quite a number of good looking movies are coming out, and I’m quite excited! Here’s my list:

1) Men in Black 3. This is one of the few movie franchises so far where they’ve had sequels and I’m not yet sick of it. Bring it!!

2) Dark Shadows. I know it looks very little like the original, but in Tim Burton I trust.

3) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. This has the potential to be either extreme awesome or the worst movie ever. I personally can’t wait to see it.

4) The Dark Knight Rises. Duhhh, it’s Batman. Nuff said.

5) Brave. I saw previews for this ages ago, and it looks really good. Can’t wait!

6) Snow White and the Huntsman. I will forgive Kristen Stewart her time in Twilight and give this a look-see.

Last but definitely not least…

7) THE AVENGERS. DIRECTED BY JOSS WHEDON. DIRECTED BY JOSS WHEDON. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

What are your picks? Personally, out of the bunch I’m the most excited for The Avengers. Can you tell? 😉

Why I am a proud geek

This sounds awfully “hipster”, but I’ve been a geek long before it was vaguely acceptable. I started out with computers at a young age, taught myself how to program BASIC on a Commodore 64 when I was all of six years old. I had no idea that my curiosity would lead to an eventual career down the road; it just seemed like a great way to make my own computer games at the time! I still remember being the only girl at a summer computer camp, eight years old and surrounded by thirteen year old boys. Needless to say, I wasn’t too popular–and even less so when they found out my coding skills.

I have no idea why computers and programming is still a mostly men’s world. I blame this on latent sexism and prejustice in regards to any woman in the sciences or mathematics in this culture. Even now, I still get told “comforting” things by men such as “Oh, it’s so much better now being a woman in the industry, there’s no prejudice at all!” Um, I beg to differ. I once worked for a place where they made me–and only me–telemarket for them from all of the people on the development team. When I confronted them, I was told that “women sound better on the phone”. A few years ago I was on a forum where the guys there ranted that no woman in the field existed and if we did, we were only junior to mid level and our coding skills were supposedly subpar. Well, this senior level softwar engineer will disagree with that!

It’s true that today there are more female geeks out there: geeks in regards to computers, science fiction, fantasy, role playing games, etc. I was at a discussion at a recent scifi/fantasy convention on what precisely a geek is, and it was determined that a geek is an enthusiastic, knowledgable person in a particular field or topic that is considered to either a) not be mainstream and/or b) cerebral. I am forever grateful to Joss Whedon for providing female geeks on his shows: Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Kaylee from Firefly are fantastic examples of this one.

Geeks aren’t afraid to not be mainstream. We probably don’t care who won the Oscars. Some of us might be into sports, others not. We’re probably watching shows like Supernatural and Fringe while everyone else is watching Jersey Shore. Some geeks are embarrassed at their interests and try to “fit in” while others embrace it and just don’t care about what other people think.

I ceased to give a crap about what others thought of me and my interests back when I was around eleven or twelve years old. It was around then that I read various essays by Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and they greatly inspired me. In particular, quotes like this:

From Emerson:

    “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
    “Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.”
    “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.”
    “Nothing external to you has any power over you.”
    “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
    “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself and you shall have the sufferage of the world.”
    “Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for.”

And from Thoreau:

    “Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.”
    “Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.”
    “I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
    “How can any man be weak who dares to be at all?”
    “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
    “There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.”

I guess I’m a literary geek too. 🙂

It’s these works, I think, which inspired me to deliberately seek out corners where I knew I’d be able to meet more of my “own kind” in high school: chess club, computer club, science club. As a result, I had a blast. As an adult, not much has changed. I hang out in “fandom” corners where people share my love of certain books, movies, and tv shows such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Supernatural, Harry Potter, and Sherlock Holmes. I’ve attended science fiction conventions, read and written “fanfic”, cosplayed, and had a fabulous time just following my bliss.

I’m not particularly likely to care about what people think “adults” should believe, think, speak, or act like. I believe in being responsible to yourself, your principles, and your way of life. People should live according to whatever reaches into your chest, grabs a hold of your heart, and sets your soul on fire. All else is dust and smoke.

And that in a nutshell is why I’m proud of being a geek.

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