Diversifying my workout

Since high school I’ve been a self-proclaimed gym rat. I am not a fan of team sports, lack great hand-eye coordination and do not generally enjoy exercising outside during the warmer months. This laundry list of limitations left me staring at a gym membership.

WeightsIt turns out that the air conditioned climate, complete with TVs and an endless supply of water within reach is just what I needed to get active.

Not too long ago I noticed  that I had been doing pretty much the same routine all these years. It was a combination of 45 minutes of moderate to decently intense cardio (usually running on the treadmill or elliptical), 10 minutes of stretching, 15 to 20 minutes of abs finished off with 15 minutes or so of weights.

This is nothing to scoff at. It is a balanced workout (I think…?) and typically left me with a sweat. However, I noticed I started to plateau after a while. The runs that used to leave me panting and clenching my side now barely made me break a sweat. Crunches that once caused me to wake up with a sore stomach the next morning were gradually a piece of cake.

I realized I wasn’t varying or increasing the intensity of my workouts.

Flat-belly workout courtesy of POPSUGAR Fitness.

Flat-belly workout courtesy of POPSUGAR Fitness.

My goal as of late has been to change this. I downloaded the POPSUGAR Fitness app, which I open every day at the gym for new ideas and routines, and started tracking my workouts with MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun. These apps help me stay focused and quickly identify when I’m slipping back into my old ways. I’ve challenged myself to do interval runs at an incline to  amp up the intensity of my daily cardio fix. And, I’ve started mixing in more weights and circuit training.

So far the results have been great. I’ve noticed my endurance has shot up and my muscles are more sculpted, thanks to the weight training. The best outcome is that I’m having more fun at the gym because I’m not doing the same tired routine again, and again.

Today I pushed myself to try two new workout plans, a flat-belly workout that combines cardio and crunchless abs and a circuit training workout for legs. I felt them target muscles that I hadn’t hit before and push others further than I normally do. It was also just fun to try a new set of exercises. I lost track of time in the gym because I was working to get a grasp on the new routines.

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DIY Christmas decoration on a budget

Being on a fairly tight budget I eat a lot of pasta and go through an embarrassing abundance of spaghetti sauce jars. When I was taking out my trash one day I realized that the glass jars are actually quite pretty under the label. So I decided to keep a few, unsure what to do with them.

Yesterday, while searching for a nice bowl to put nuts in when I realized I could use one of the jars.

This is how I turned a sauce jar into a decorative holiday piece:

Step 1: Eat a delicious pasta dinner with your favorite sauce.

Step 2: Wash the left over sauce, and smell, out of the jar.

Step 3: Remove the label. Soak the jar in hot water and the label will start to peel off by itself. There will still be some glue residue that you can scrub off with a wire sponge.

Step 4: Fill it with something festive! Growing up my mom always had nuts and nutcrackers in beautiful dishes around the house during the holidays, so I decided to fill my jar with nuts. But you could put anything in it .

And voila! You have a pretty, cheap holiday decoration.

What I’m reading: media-related articles that recently caught my eye

I read some great pieces in the past two weeks that have stuck with me. I’m sharing them to inspire conversation in others, as they have in me.

“The Forbes digital content model and power of the long-tail,” by Rachel Bartlett on Journalism.co.uk.

Lewis D’Vorkin, chief product officer at Forbes, found that 50 percent of the site’s traffic is generated by content that is at least 30 days old. To someone who has been told that journalists have to churn out content constantly in the digital age and that stories are old news nearly as soon as they’re uploaded; I was shocked.

When D’Vorkin explained what he realized to be the “long-tail” of the content, it resonated a bit more with me. An interesting read for anyone who is also interested in the business and analysis of digital media.

Young People Let Digital Apps Dictate Their Identities, Say 2 Scholars,” by Marc Perry in The Chronicle of Higher Education

This article explains that when the internet first gained traction among teens it was thought that it would be a great way for then to express and find themselves. However, the opposite effect is being seen. Teens are deciding who they are early and it is almost permanent because of how social media publicizes it. They are essentially branding themselves when they aren’t even freshmen in high school.

‘The pressure is to consolidate and to post and to have as many friends and likes as possible,” [Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist] says, ‘not to experiment and to learn from one’s more or less successful attempts.'”

“Dear Young Creatives: Forget Overnight Success,” by Haniya Rae on Digiday.

As a young person starting out their career, I took this piece to heart. Sometimes I get caught up in my passion and ambition, expecting my life and career to move as quickly as my mind. It is good to be reminded to slow down. Success takes time.

If you love the process, it shouldn’t matter how long it takes. If you love what you do every day, I would want it to take longer, because then you can continue to do it every day,” Jeff Ng tells Rae.

Breaking News: Resources for covering shooting,” by Anna Li on Poynter.

I was in the MSNBC newsroom when the LAX shooting occurred. It is the biggest breaking news that I have worked on since beginning as a PA, and it was overwhelming. This piece has great tips and resources for journalists covering a shooting.

“AOL May Sell Patch or Deepen Cuts,” by Tom Risen on U.S. News and World Report.

As a Connecticut native, I am very familiar with Patch.com. There are 67 Patch sites in Connecticut. I have many friends who freelanced or worked as editors for the company. I was sad to read that they are struggling and that many have been laid off.

Two pastels from this summer

This summer I drew two pastels for my boyfriend Kevin that I gave to him as gifts. I took his two favorite pictures of himself, one of him building a fire in Vermont and one of him Kayaking in Maine, and recreated them. This is how they came out.

China’s Adorable Panda Cubs Are Now 100 Days Old

How can someone not love baby pandas? These cubs are 100 days old and simply adorable. This video is sure to put a smile on your face this morning.

NewsFeed

The age of 100 days is a milestone in Chinese tradition, when families gather to celebrate and wish the baby a long and happy life. It’s a big day for the 14 panda cubs, some of whom are now more than 20 times their birth weight.

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Transitions from UConn to the NBC page program to MSNBC

Well, this summer has been a whirlwind.

May: The Page Program

Me and my start sisters on our first day in our Page suits. (From left: me, Kitty, Camille, Theresa, Liz)

Me and my start sisters on our first day in our Page suits. (From left: me, Kitty, Camille, Theresa, Liz)

I was accepted into and began the NBC Page Program on May 27th. My brain was flooded with hundreds of pages of NBC Universal history, facts and stats about NBC shows, brands and talent. I joined a program filled with about 60 of the most interesting, intelligent, talented and funny people I have met.

Before graduating I was worried the program might not be the best choice for me. I wasn’t sure if it would set me back a year in getting a more permanent job.

Well, all I can say is, I am happy I ignored that fear.

Being a page was the best choice I could have made. It allowed me to explore other career paths besides hard news and gave me a glimpse into a variety of NBC departments. I learned more about working in media and broadened my network within the company. Now when I walk through the halls I have a deeper sense of belonging.

June, July, August: PR

During my time in the program I had the opportunity to spend three months on an assignment in the NBC News PR department. I quickly learned that publicists do everything for a brand that nobody really knows about.

The women in this department shaped me into a better employee than I could have dreamed I would be. I learned the ins and outs of NBC, the work flow and the protocols. They taught me how to present myself in a professional and appropriate manner.  They taught me how to work quickly and efficiently. And, they gave me my first taste of what it is like to have real responsibility in an office. Every day I knew my work had an impact and purpose, which was intimidating at times.

By the time I left something happened that I did not expect: I loved PR. While I don’t think I have the guts or stamina to work in PR long-term,  I now have a deep respect for the people that do and a better understanding of how vital their role is.

Vermont

After my 12 weeks came to an end I took a much appreciated vacation to Ludlow, VT. My wonderful boyfriend, Kevin, helped me process leaving the PR department, hid my phone when I tried to check in with my coordinators and got me to actually relax (which, for those who know me, is a feat.)

We hiked Mount Okemo, twice. We built a fire every night. We bought fresh groceries that made for some delicious meals. We went horseback riding. We watched TV. We saw sites. And we spent some peaceful, quiet, quality time together.

When I returned from Vermont I jumped back into the page routine giving tours and selling the coveted tickets to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. After being away for three months I was thrilled to be back on the tour route.

The Offer

On September 19 I was filling in for an assistant to a TODAY Show producer when I got an offer from HR to start as a production assistant that day at MSNBC. I was stunned. This was the job I hoped to get since I ended my internship at MSNBC’s The Cycle a year ago. It was the job I was aiming for after my time as a page. And yet, I hesitated.

I was beyond grateful to be offered this job. I know how lucky I was to be given the opportunity to work as a PA for a huge network early in my career. And I knew it was the job I wanted.

I hesitated because I loved being a page. I loved the program, the people, the opportunities and even the tours (most days.) I wasn’t sure I was ready to leave all of that, yet.

In the end, I decided to take the PA position. I knew it was an opportunity I could not pass up.

Off to MSNBC

I started as a graphics producer for Weekends with Alex Witt on September 21.

One month in and I love my job. Although a hard choice to make, it was absolutely the right one for me. I create graphics for Alex Witt’s program on Saturday and Sunday. Her show airs at 7 am, 12 p.m. and 1p.m., which means I’m up at 3 a.m. The crazy thing is that I don’t mind. I love the work that I’m doing and the show I work on. On Thursdays and Fridays I assist and print scripts for the MSNBC Dayside anchors and write the news that scrolls across the bottom of the screen, called the ticker.

I have broadened my network at NBC even more. And, I’m doing what I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m working in journalism, putting out quality news on a phenomenal network.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my last five months at NBC is that my favorite part of having a job is learning new skills and taking on new challenges. Every time I have mastered a job I am excited to kick it up a notch by adding a new responsibility. NBC Universal is great company for me because there are many different departments, channels and brands that I can be a part of and because of that many skills to learn.

Another lesson I learned is that you have to jump on opportunities when they present themselves. I was hesitant to say yes to three opportunities I was given since I started at NBC, all of which turned out to be wonderful experiences. At this point in my career my goal is to say yes to open doors. There is no harm in trying new jobs, meeting new people and learning a little bit more about myself.

My tea set lamp; the first DIY project of the summer

The final product.

The final product.

Continuing my post grad adventures, today I built a lamp. Let me preface this post by stating that I am not the handiest girl around. I can manage a hammer and screw driver, but once you get more advanced than that I am out of my league. Today was a real learning experience, luckily I was with someone who knew what he was doing. I was inspired and advised by two blogs: Vintage Revivals and My Repurposed Life.

My handy boyfriend Kevin I created a lamp from pieces of a tea set. I bought all the tea set parts cheap at Home Goods and the lampshade at Ikea (although after assembling it I realized the shade is too small and I will have to get a larger one).

My pre-lamp tea set.

My pre-lamp tea set.

Before we could begin putting anything together we made a trip to Home Depot to buy a drill bit (I didn’t even realize these were customized by purpose and size!), a lamp kit (this has all the wiring and bulb appliances needed), a threaded rod and rubber washers (these go on either side of the ceramic to keep it in place).

You have to drill holes in each plate/cup in order to stack them on top of each other and run the rod through them. We put the hole in the center of each piece except the teapot which I decided to orient at an angle, as if it were pouring tea. We chose a 3/8 inch drill bit because that is the side of the rod I bought.

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Drilling these ceramic and china pieces was very intimidating for us because we were scared we would crack them. A bunch of DIY blogs I read said to start drilling at a 45 degree angle and slowly raise the drill until it is perpendicular to the plate/cup and then to let the drill grind without pressure.

While I think this is probably a good method for some plates, it did not work for us. We had to apply more pressure than was recommended to make any mark on the plates and we did not find any advantage in starting at a 45 degree angle versus starting perpendicular. My advice would be to try the careful way first and see how it works for you. It just did not do it for us.

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The best tip I found was to drill under water. The drill and plates got very hot as we drilled so doing it under water made sure it didn’t over heat and ruin the drill bit. At first I slowly poured water, letting it collect within the lip of the cup or plate and replenished it as it evaporated. But the drill started getting really hot so I switched to a hose which I sprayed on the “mist” setting continuously while Kevin drilled.

Pouring water onto the underside of a saucer.

Pouring water onto the underside of a saucer.

After drilling through the set, which we found can take 3-5 minutes per piece, comes the fun part: deciding how to order it! I tried it a couple different ways before settling on one.

My final order.

My final order.

Then I followed instruction in the lamp kit on how to string the wire up through the rod and connect it all at the top. Finally I put the lampshade on and voila: