Thursday, March 20, 2014

How to Lose Weight While Working Full-Time - Part 2: The Second 30 Days

beachbody program shakeology
How to lose weight while working full-time.  Or how to lose the baby weight.  If you are just joining and did not get a chance to read about my first 30 days, please feel free to read that here.  As I said before, I am just sharing what worked for me to potentially inspire you or give you ideas of how you might start or continue your weight loss journey.  I am not a nutritionist or a fitness expert, so please let that frame this accordingly.

Last month, I lost 14 lbs and 12 inches.  Woot woot!  Very exciting.  This second month was tough.  Along with my fellow Biggest Loser competitors at work, I was finding it much harder to lose weight in the second 30 days. I pushed through though, and I never gave up or lost sight of my end game.  I realized quickly that I was going to have to mix it up in order to keep getting results.

Here are the some of my Favorite Takeaways from this month that Helped Me Lose Weight:

  1. New Workouts - As I mentioned last month, I get bored easily, so I made sure to keep mixing it up.  I tried out new workout programs and continued to challenge myself.  I, on a couple occasions, even fit in two workouts a day, but I always scheduled it ahead of time and made it a priority.  If you do not plan it, it will not happen.  Do not say you are going to "try" and work out.  When you say "try" then you have already given yourself an out.  It is a weak statement.  Instead just say "I am going to workout."  
  2. Accountability Partner and Group Support - This one was a huge one.  I do not know where I would be without my accountability partner and group support.  I joined an accountability group where I not only messaged my partner everyday about my progress, how I was feeling, my wins for the day and what I was struggling with, but I was also posting my workout pics on Facebook and tagging my partner as proof that I did them.  The group provided inspiration and constant encouragement to keep going.  I will sometimes let myself down, but something about letting down my group felt different.
  3. Sleep - I LOVE sleep AND it is super important when it comes to weight-loss.  My sister has gone as far as tracking how much sleep she gets in addition to her food diary, and the results show that the more consistent sleep she got, the more weight she lost.  Plan ahead and make sure you can get to bed at a decent hour.  I know I personally fought it for a while because it made me feel old.  Now I just accept that it does the body good, and if I want energy and weight loss then I need to go to bed at a decent hour.
  4. Sleep Time App - You might have read in my last post that I have been getting up at 4:45am everyday to work out.  It is true, and amazingly enough, my body has adjusted and almost gotten used to it.  What helps immensely though is this cool Sleep Time App that I downloaded for free.  My sister actually turned me onto it.  She told me you just turn it upside down next to your pillow, and it knows when you are in deep sleep versus light sleep.  Given this information, it makes sure to wake you up when you are in light sleep by using this gentle music.  My husband swears he cannot even hear it.  As an alarm, it is the most graceful one I have ever had, and it makes waking up at the crack of dawn a lot easier.
  5. Nutrient Dense Shakes - I was already drinking fruit smoothies in the morning with my husband.  One, because they are easy, and two, so I would not have to think about it.  I recently found a nutrient dense shake that I cannot get enough of, and it has so many vitamins and nutrients in it that I do not even have to take a multivitamin anymore.  I start the day off with one of these everyday now.  The flavors are great, and it keeps me full.  That is a win if you ask me.
  6. A Strategic Plan - This was probably one of the most important factors along with having an accountability partner and support group.  I had a meal plan that I tailored for my specific needs, and I would grocery shop for the week to make sure I had healthy choices to eat.  I also knew what workouts I wanted to do and purposely planned out my cardio and strength training.  I do not know about you, but I like having a plan to follow.  It takes out the guess work and ensures that you get the results you want.

Now, it is obviously a journey, and if you want the results to stick, then it needs to be a lifestyle change.  If you have been following me, then you know that I am part of a Biggest Loser competition at work as well.  I am excited to announce that I won the 60 Day weigh in!  In the last 60 days, I have lost 20.4 lbs and 13.51% of my body weight!  We have one more final weigh in next month.  Wish me luck!

beachbody coach shakeology results

I have been so inspired by this journey and the success that I have.  I am SUPER EXCITED to announce that I will be co-hosting my own accountability groups to help others start or continue their weight loss journey.  Whether you are just starting out or trying to shed those last 10 lbs, let me know.  I believe in making people smile and have LOVED my own experience doing these programs with the help of others.


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Thursday, March 6, 2014

How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

Job Search Tips
So you want to know how to optimize your LinkedIn profile.  I would say the main reason you would do this is to help your job search and make it easy for companies and recruiters to find you, but there are other great reasons why having an optimized LinkedIn profile are ideal, like personal branding, networking, staying on top of trends and best practices.

In any case, I am guessing you are reading this because you already know it is a good idea or because someone told you it was a good idea.  Thus, I will not be wasting time highlighting benefits.  Just know that it is a good thing.

I would also like to quickly address any critics out there who might ask, "Who are you to give advice on the topic of optimizing a LinkedIn profile?" This is the part that sounds downright braggy (if that is a word), but out of 200 million members, I was recognized by LinkedIn in 2012 as one of the Top 1% Most Viewed Profiles on LinkedIn.  So now that credentials are out of the way, let us jump in and review:

What You Can Do to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
  1. Choose Your Picture Wisely:  I would think this was a given but unfortunately I have learned that it is not.  Please smile in your photo.  So many times I see pictures where the person is not smiling and actually looks scary or even creepy (think webcam photo taken in a dark room just illuminated by the computer screen).  It makes me pause and wonder what kind of personality they have and makes me question whether they would be a good culture fit if I hired them.  Most people want to work with positive happy individuals.  Also, please avoid full-body shots, pictures with kids or pets, side profiles, or pictures of inanimate objects.  It's just not professional.  
  2. Put Some Personality in Your Summary:  Try to infuse some personality into your Summary section.  Share what you love about your chosen career or what you are looking for in your next opportunity if you are in transition or a recent grad.  You are also able to share documents in this section.  You can attach your resume, video, presentation, or a helpful resource guide.  People love free information and the more they can learn about you or your philosophies through your profile, the better.  It creates a connection and lets people get to know you in a safe way.  And because you control the content, it allows you to be purposeful about how you present yourself.  Be thoughtful about it.
  3. SEO Your Headline and Experience:  When Recruiters are searching LinkedIn for candidates, the Experience section is heavily weighted.  Obviously, do not lie about where you have worked or what you did, but also keep in mind that it needs to be in a search friendly language.  My advice would be to find a job posting of a role similar to yours or one that you aspire to be in, and incorporate as many of those phrases and keywords as you can into your bullet points.  This will be how Recruiters find you.  Think about.  If a Recruiter wants to do a search on LinkedIn, what are they going to reference when looking for search terms?  The job description, of course.  See where I am going with this?
  4. Groups:  Join as many groups as you can.  I believe the current max is 50.  Joining some professional groups will help you stay on top of trends and give you a forum to ask questions related to your field.  Alumni groups are also popular.  This will help you with the next bullet point.
  5. Add Connections:  I know there are different thoughts on this, but try to connect with as many individuals as possible.  It is truly all about who you know when it comes to business.  I know people have been saying this since we were kids, and I was so skeptical about the validity of such a statement when I was younger.  Today, I feel like I truly understand the power of "who you know."  It is completely up to you whether you take advantage of this or not.  Those that do will reap the benefits.  Remember, everyone started as a stranger before they became your friend.  Do not limit yourself to only who you know today.
  6. Follow Influencers, News, Companies, and Schools:  Again, like with Groups, this will help you keep up on trends and also serve as great sources for personal development.  I personally love reading the articles and feel like I can always get a golden nugget of information that I can apply in not only my job but my personal life.  Who better to be inspired by than successful individuals who have already done it?
  7. Fill Out As Much As Possible:  LinkedIn is really good at walking you through everything and prompting you to fill in additional information.  Somewhere there should be a circle that will indicate your profile strength.  Strive to get that blue circle filled in all the way.  Skills, Awards, Education, Recommendations, Certifications, Publications, and Organizations are pretty straight forward.  The reason you want to do this is because LinkedIn will serve you up higher in the search results if your profile is more complete.  
As a Recruiter, it also gives me insight into you as a potential employee.  The degree to which your LinkedIn profile is optimized gives me clues to how social media or tech savvy you are, how thorough you are, how professional your written communication is, and all of that together shows me what your personal brand is.  Make sure it's telling the story you want it to convey.  How optimized is your LinkedIn Profile?  I know it can feel daunting but just get started.  A first great step?  Why not add me as a connection?  Let's grow our network together.  See you over on LinkedIn :)  Click here.
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Monday, March 3, 2014

10 Reasons Why You Didn't Get That Promotion

career tips
10 Reasons Why You Didn't Get That Promotion.  Such a touchy subject.  Who doesn't at some point feel like they were wronged or undervalued at work?  Whether you might have blamed your manager or the politics that can sometimes plague a workplace, I would like to instead focus on things you can actually change.

Below are a list of 10 Reasons Why You Didn't Get That Promotion, and the best part?  You can actually OWN it, IDENTIFY OPPORTUNITIES to grow, and CHANGE your BEHAVIOR, so you can get that FUTURE PROMOTION.  So, let's dive in:

  1. You Approach Your Manager With Problems Only:  A promotable employee always goes to their manager, not only with a problem, but at least 2 to 3 well-researched solutions and a recommendation on how to move forward.  Think about it.  Which employee would you rather have?  The one who brings you more work, or the one who presents you choices and answers?
  2. You Do Not Have Competitive Competency:  In other words, to be promoted, you need to be an expert in your field.  If you are not doing well at this, then it will usually show up in the form of missing deadlines, not meeting goals, or other team members having to take on more work because you are not pulling your weight.  You might even be on a performance improvement plan.  Sorry but a good leadership team cannot in good faith promote a poor performing employee.
  3. You Do Not Own Your Own Development:  To the above point, if you are struggling in your job and you genuinely feel like you did not get enough training or were not set up for success, then create your own performance improvement plan.  If you do not, you will probably be put on one by your manager which is a lot less fun.  You want to be proactive in this situation and control your own destiny.  If you cannot find training at your company, research and find some workshops or seminars that will.  If the company will not pay for it, then invest in yourself and pay for it out of your own pocket.  Control what you can.  High performers manage their own career path.  You have to be willing to invest in your own personal and professional development, otherwise, no one else will.
  4. You Didn't Ask For the Promotion:  So many times I think we expect our managers to naturally recognize our hard work and offer us a promotion, and when that does not happen, many people become disenchanted and look for another job.  Instead I encourage you to have this type of conversation with your boss, "I really enjoy working here.  I have been thinking a lot about my career goals and was hoping we could discuss possible career paths here.  I have researched some job titles and roles that I would like to strive for and would like to hear your thoughts so I can map out what I need to do to get there."  I caution you to make sure you have #2 covered before you attempt this one.  Meaning, make sure you are doing a good job in your current role before asking what is next.
  5. You Are Not a Change Agent:  Companies are changing strategies and tactics everyday.  If they don't, they risk becoming obsolete.  This means that they need employees and leaders who can be change agents.  That means that not only do you have to be okay with change, but you actually have to make others feel good about change.  This is hard, but I promise you that if you master this one bullet point, you will be golden for the rest of your career.  Companies LOVE employees who can roll with the punches, adapt quickly, and motivate others to change.
  6. You Do Not Drink the Kool-Aid:  The promotions usually go to the employees who are passionate about the business.  I mean really.  Who would you promote?  The employee who signs up for all the company events, shares great ideas in meetings, and smiles every morning or the Debbie Downer who is always complaining to her peers about a lack of resources and changing directives.  Leaders need to be role models for other employees.  Good managers will promote the employees who display the type of behavior they want all their other employees to emulate.  Imagine cloning yourself 10 times.  Would you want to work with those 10 clones?  If you paused, then there is probably an opportunity for you to reflect right now.
  7. You Do Not Think About the Business as a Whole:  Promotable employees are strategic.  They understand the bigger picture and firmly see where they are going.  For example, you might love an IT system because it is technically superior to the competition, but it may also be super expensive, more than you need, and not truly serve the needs of the business.  A promotable employee will recognize the the difference and be able to articulate it to management.
  8. You Do Not Work Well With Others:  Do you ever find yourself complaining about the incompetency of other departments?  Do you find you have to task manage everyone?  The best employees are able to intrinsically motivate those around them.  They identify others' strengths and make people feel good about themselves.  To be cliche, they are great collaborators and dealmakers.  As you climb the corporate ladder, the more strategic you need to be, and the more you will accomplish through your relationships with other managers.  So yes, if you want to get promoted, you must play well with others.
  9. You Do Not Dress Up:  People can get really offended here, but it is the truth.  People will treat you differently based on how you present yourself.  Imagine a mail clerk.  Let us even say we have 2 mail clerks.  One dresses in suits every day when he delivers the mail.  The other one wears jeans and sneakers.  If a sales position opened up, which one could you imagine in the role?  See how apparel alone has already swayed you?
  10. You Are Not Visionary:  Leaders are able to paint a picture and inspire others to follow them.  A promotable employee is able to see where the company is going, articulate it in an exciting way, and effectively translate the executive's vision to their employees in executable actions.  If you find yourself more so questioning the management team's decisions and talking about that around the water cooler, then you are still thinking like an individual contributor.  The ones who get promoted are not at the water cooler, but at their desk busy figuring out how to change their current strategy to align with that of the new strategic initiatives.  That is the employee who will get promoted.
So what do you think?  Are you a promotable employee?  Is there anything listed above that could be an opportunity for you to grow?  Let me know if you think I missed anything that would lead to why you didn't get that promotion.  I would love to hear from you.

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