Work, risks, success?

This is a post in drafts from 2012 that was apparently a response to a 2010 Get Rich Slowly post that no longer exists entitled, “Break out of your comfort zone to achieve success.”   I think it’s still true and I might as well post it as is!  Plus I guess a lot less seems scary at middle age that might have felt more uncomfortable as a young adult?

I’ve been out of my comfort zone before and I’ve examined what other people do in my field to succeed (hint: perseverance and moxy are more important than talent).

Right now though I’m more interested in doing what I want than in getting ahead, but the advice in the post might have matched an earlier point in my career and will probably match a later point.

Getting out of your comfort zone can be time consuming and tiring… there’s something to be said for slow and steady comfortable progress too. Moderation in all things (including moderation).

Are you currently working on getting out of your comfort zone or are you more into staying comfortable right now?

Asked for a teaching reduction so I could handle everything next year

My colleague and I are the respective heads of the two main tracks in our program.  Since we were appointed heads, the workload for this job has grown enormously, and it will be growing more next year because of additional restructuring and growth at the university level.  Last year was awful and I was so burned out.  This year was awful (though I was on leave so missed much of it) and my colleague, who is not on leave, also burned out.  (He’s going on leave next year.)

So we met together with the department head about long-term planning.  We talked about the increased load and what we’re already doing and the things that we do that can’t be measured or are difficult to measure.  We talked about how our research has suffered and we’re worried about the future.  We talked about how we could take leadership positions in the uncertain future– there will be ad-hoc committees and either we can lead them because we have the time to do so or we could try our best to avoid them because we need breathing room because we were over-burdened.

So my colleague who is already doing an additional job is losing his summer salary for that job but gaining a teaching reduction (which is now worth more to him), and I am taking on a new additional job (one that incorporates some of the junior faculty mentoring that I’m doing anyway).  In a couple of years we will also be getting an associate department head to take on some of the current responsibilities that are being shared by the department head and the faculty in addition to new responsibilities.

I don’t know if this will be a one-off or if it will be for as long as we take these responsibilities, but I can definitely use the time and I’m no longer dreading going back to the grind as much as I had been.

Still, a reminder that my leave is more than half over now and I really need to get a lot more done, even if papers keep getting rejected.  And if I ever want to leave, I need to get some grant money!


  • My last cycle was 16 days.  Dr. Google suggests peri-menopause.  Why can’t I be one of the people who gets longer cycles??!!
  • I really need to get around to reading Jen Gunter’s book.
  • OMG, I am dying with these prima donna authors.
  • I’m at editor at an interdisciplinary journal with short word limits. I have these authors that are 40% over at the editing stage. I look and the paper is just stuffed with bad and unnecessary writing. Run on sentences that last 7-10 lines, repeated multiple connectors that don’t really add anything or have nuance they didn’t intend, excessive adverbs and unnecessary redundant adjectives etc. They use a $5 word with incorrect nuance when they could just use a smaller more general word—like an undergrad with a thesaurus.
  • So I spent a day cutting and then gave up and told them to cut and they’re upset and have gone to the managing editor about how terrible my edits are and they refuse to do any more and they regularly get published in top journals that don’t force them to write better.
  • One sentence had TWO colons in it.
  • I think a lot of people in their field confuse intelligence with impenetrability (something the previous managing editor railed at and is the reason for the tight word limits for our journal).  In reality, they are making many of the same points that a (literally) certified genius economist has been making for years, but he breaks them down into simple sentences that a reasonably intelligent high schooler can understand, because he’s actually a genius and doesn’t need to pretend to be smart.  And he also has a lot of practice breaking down his complex thoughts into things normal people can understand.
  • I use a lot of parentheticals in my blog writing.  I have to go through and take them out of my formal writing because I want people to follow my arguments.
  • Not that I don’t care about you guys, but like, my blogging style should be different from my papers.  You all can handle my meandering because the points I’m making aren’t actually that complex.
  • Several of my papers are used in various undergraduate classes.  If my writing were hard to understand, they wouldn’t be!
  • Anyhow, whenever an editor goes to the trouble of line-editing for me, I’m always really grateful.  Either I just make the changes, or if the changes aren’t what I mean, I fix my writing so what I meant becomes clear.
  • DH has a former colleague who is now a computer science professor at a smallish engineering school that doesn’t limit acceptances by major.  Which means CS is an insanely large major and his classes have more than 500 people in them.

Is there such a thing as an overachiever?

This post is from the 2012 drafts.  I think I was annoyed with people calling my kid an over-achiever, and annoyed with being called an over-achiever as a child.  I think I get less of that now (I’m achieving less?)… but I’ve tried to finish off this post anyway so we have something to post for Monday!

There’s achievement.

And there’s underachievement.

Pretty much everyone is an underachiever.  Nobody is going to reach their fullest potential– that requires the optimal amount of effort and the best luck.  That’s just really unlikely to happen.

But you can still achieve a lot as an underachiever.  And quite possibly be happy because achievement isn’t everything!

How do we define achievement anyway…

And here’s a line I have no idea where I was going with this:  “maybe watching videos helps maximize the whole person even if you go over the amount necessary to maximize your work-life…”  Like… what?

Oh I bet I know!  I bet I was using watching videos as an example of goofing off and not trying to optimize achievement.

How do we define achievement anyway?  Maybe goofing off by watching youtube videos helps to provide happiness, even if it doesn’t optimize some measure of work-life balance, which is a stupid concept anyway.

What are your thoughts on the concept of “over-achievement”?  What is achievement anyway?


Things I haven’t told you about work this year

  • I’m actually on leave this year.  I can’t go anywhere because DC1 is a high school senior, so I’m hanging out in another department.  This is very nice.
  • They screwed up my salary by giving me a full paycheck the first paycheck in October.  Then no paycheck the second paycheck (I still owe them $44).  This has screwed up my retirement because I have a set amount extra taken off and because there was no paycheck last month, I didn’t get it.  I don’t think with my half salary (plus extra fees) that there’s enough money to fill up my accounts even if I try to max them out if I only get the November paycheck.  I’m not sure if the December paycheck counts for 2022 or 2023 (it’s supposed to be disbursed Jan 1, but is always disbursed the last business day before that).  If it counts for 2022 I think I can max out both, but if it doesn’t, I can’t.
  • Despite being on leave, my department head put me on the promotion and tenure committee for the guy who is currently suing the department because he wasn’t promoted the last time he went up, despite not having any new publications since tenure except in teaching journals (the kind where you say here’s a classroom exercise you can use in your classes), and not a whole lot of them earlier.
  • I said no, I will not do this, but I can be on the committee for the junior faculty member I’ve been mentoring (she does work that has a lot of intersections with my areas of expertise) and have read all the papers for.  The chair ignored that email and I got one from the head of the suing guy’s committee trying to set up a meeting.  I replied all and refused because I am fricking on leave.
  • It turns out that the suing guy refuses to work with any department member who denied him full in the past, so he refused to be on the committee of the person I mentored so I ended up being on her committee anyway.  The department head wrote me a kind of jerky email saying that zie had discussed with the dean and provost about whether I was still obligated to do service while on leave and they had said yes, the department head could force me to do service.  But because I had more knowledge of the junior member’s cv, zie was graciously allowing me to be on that committee instead of the suing guy’s (they didn’t replace me).  No mention of the other guy taking himself off the committee (and why was he allowed to do that but I was not?) and needing that slot to be filled.  But the other committee members informed me and were grateful that I was there, especially since I was able to write up the research statement for the committee (everyone gushed about what a great job I did after… which is both nice and makes me cringe because doing a good job is rewarded with more service but not more time or money).
  • I was supposed to get a $2000 additional payment (along with a plaque– currently have a printed paper award that’s supposed to be a place holder) for a small awards thing I was awarded in September and I thought that might fix up the retirement problem, but it has not yet come.  I should probably check on that.
  • Did I mention that I am the only full professor without a fellowship, professorship, or chair?  This includes the woman who is similar to me but does zero service, doesn’t answer student emails, has been here less time than I have, and has a slightly higher google scholar count than I do (she has also been out 3 more years than I have and has gotten a number of sweet deals to not teach).  But she does research in the same area as the chair who likes her more than me even though zie can’t “trust” her on committees or to teach classes.
  • Brainstream:  I think the chair might have a fixed mindset.  It’s weird though because the professor in question used to teach just fine.  It’s just that after starting a field experiment she stopped being able to do anything other than research.  And yet, I did a field experiment before she did (my NSF grant ended just as hers started) and was able to still meet my other commitments.  Still, it seems to me the solution is not to protect her research time at my expense but to get her to go back to doing the minimum for teaching and to start actually doing service.
  • Brainstream:  The department head has trouble about thinking about gestalt fairness.  Zie tends to think in terms of “we have to have everyone teach an undergraduate course and core course” rather than thinking about the entire teaching/service package.  So some people get really lucky in some areas or really unlucky but then get the average load in other areas, which as a whole ends up being extremely unfair.
  • Brainstream:  Zie also takes the wrong message from things.  I got angry about being told to do an additional small service (straw/camel — this was reading over a master’s thesis for an award committee) after dying of service that year and being promised that I would be done for the year after the last thing zie begged me to do (I had said, yes, I will do this but it has to be the LAST thing you ask me to do this year), so instead of taking the lesson not to renege on promises, zie took the lesson that I never wanted to read over masters theses for the award and this master’s thesis committee is so terrible that it should be equivalent to half of the two course reduction that people get for paternity leave (they are supposed to get additional service to make up for the class reduction since we don’t have real parental leave).
  • The other professor does some service external to our university (again, as do I and earlier) so she can’t actually be incompetent.  She just doesn’t care.  And why should she?  She’s getting rewarded for selfishness.  The department head is worried she will leave, but she has been on the market every year since she got here and nobody has hired her yet.
  • I had a fellowship very briefly but I lost it upon becoming a full professor.  This information was not in the letter when I got my fellowship.  Also nobody in admin noticed.  So for a month I was trying to figure out why they couldn’t reimburse a $50 journal submission fee.  I think I may have already complained about this.
  • The one competent person in admin services recently moved to a different state, so she’s not there anymore.
  • I’m very worried that I will never be able to leave because I don’t have a top 5 journal publication.
  • Being on leave is such a contrast to being in the department.  I have a high teaching load compared to other economists (average or low compared to humanities profs– I don’t know how you guys get any work done!)  I have an insane service load compared to even people in my department, including a lot of things that I get zero credit for (I have complained about this in the past).  I was worried that I was becoming stupid and would never have any good ideas or time to get things out again.  But I am thinking deep thoughts!  I am being productive!  I am happy and meeting people and giving keynote talks that go over really well and I’m getting grant proposals out and papers under review.  I’m excited about research and both new and current projects. It’s like I’m back to being me.  My department overload and feeling unappreciated and not being given time or money was seriously hurting me.
  • I went back over to the department yesterday and the people who are competent at service are dying.  They haven’t washed their hair.  They’re frazzled.  They told me about all these stupid directives coming from on high admin that the head isn’t slowing down or pushing back on.  (Hardcore!)  And that’s going to continue into next year except other competent people are going on leave.  I don’t know how I am going to be able to honor the research commitments I’ve made this year in that situation, especially since I’m also supposed to be teaching a new prep.
  • I think I need to have a discussion with the department head before I go back about how this is untenable.  My counterpart in another field who also does outsized service is feeling the same way (but will be on leave next year), so maybe we can approach hir as a united front.  We’re both program coordinators, and the only program coordinators with the full teaching load, even though we’re coordinating the two biggest programs (the other coordinator has a center and does no research anymore, just public outreach).
  • There are a couple of professorships and one chair available, but the dean has decided to take them from our department to distribute across all of the departments in our school (we recently had a re-org).  So I will continue not having a fellowship, professorship, or chair.  These have been open for some time and we were told to apply for them this summer (previously they were just appointed by the department chair) and there would be a committee that would make the decision.  But a couple months after that, we were told in a lengthy email that they would be open to being reassigned to another department, and there would be another committee (headed by someone from the other department), oh, and btw, I no longer have a fellowship and it was going back in the pool too (this was in the email sent to everyone, thanks).  That was almost 2 months ago and still no decisions.  But at least I have a bursary now.
  • IT says that we can’t work from home unless we use a department laptop because we are not allowed to do university business on our own devices.  Except dropbox is still broken on my computer in my home office because when they update it it often (but not always) defaults back to a drive that has no space in it.  I wouldn’t have to download so much stuff, except that the computer in my office is too slow to download on the fly and use stata.  What’s really weird is that the computer in the office I’m using now in the other department has no problem– it’s fast and logging on is fast and dropbox works and is fast.  It just works.  Also we’re not allowed to get reimbursed for software using grant funding.
  • Another irritating thing is that the dean just assumed I had a professorship, which I never did.  We got into an argument about the IT bullet above (which probably wasn’t a great idea on my part since having a dean disliking you isn’t great) and he made a comment about using my professorship funds.  Which I have never had.  Another full professor also thought I had a professorship because she assumed I got one when my colleague who is a substitute for me but does no service got one.  It’s like not getting maternity leave all over again!  Everyone assumes you got the benefit you didn’t get, which is worse than just not getting the benefit.
  • Was this cathartic or did it make things worse?  I don’t know.  I just know I’m dreading going back to work next year and it’s only November.  And if I hadn’t gone in yesterday I could have ignored it.

Dream job not happening

Everything went great until my last meeting. The dean was late as is his usual, apparently.

Then he made a small amount of small talk about his son going to the school. Then he asked me if I wanted to work there and why. Then he was basically like, you do not currently have an R01, therefore I will veto anybody that wants to hire you.

And I’m like, NIH doesn’t fund the work I do. Does it have to be NIH? I’m between grants right now, but I’ve been getting NSF funding more recently. And he said NSF was fine, but it had to be government funding, foundation funding doesn’t count. But the next two grants I’m scheduled to submit are both foundation (and he’d never HEARD of one of them, which, dear readers, many of you have likely heard of because there are celebrities involved with the larger organization). But he said, no, overhead is important and he wants 67% overhead, not 15%. (My colleague who works there says the majority of her funding comes from this specific foundation so the dean has definitely heard of it.)

Then he said that he’d decided not to do a targeted hire and there would be a job posted with a search committee and I was welcome to apply and the search committee was welcome to do what they wanted, but he was going to veto anybody who was not bringing in government funding with the appropriate overhead rate. It’s an equity issue, he said.

NSF deadline is in January, they say what is being funded sometime in the summer. It usually takes two tries. This is not going to happen.

Also he said, this is probably illegal for me to ask, but what does your husband do? When I was on the job market the first time I told off two guys at Berkeley (for a post-doc that I did not get) who asked me that. He’s not a coal miner, there are jobs for anybody in Silicon Valley.  (And yes, they only asked women with rings that, and they did stop the next year.) This time I answered, but I HATE it when people do that. It’s not a state school, where doing that actually would be illegal in this state, but I’m willing to bet they have guidance that they’re not supposed to ask.

Unless I move over into health, it would be very difficult for me to keep up a steady stream of government funding and also get publications out. My work is of strong interest to foundations right now and they are much faster to fund. But they don’t allow more than 10-15% overhead. Even though this job is hard money, I just don’t think it is a good fit for me. I can think of a couple of people it would be a good fit for, but they’ve recently just moved to other jobs that are hard money without the additional funding expectations.

So, a nice visit, but I shouldn’t have spent so much time looking at housing and schooling in the area. It’s not going to happen.

How to determine you need an equity increase and how to argue for one at a US state university

Disclaimer:  We are not financial or legal professionals.  Consult with an actual professional who has your interests in mind and/or do your own research before making any important decisions.

If you work at a state university in the US, your salary information is public information.  For many state universities, the data are available online– you can just google the name of your school and “salary” and click on the links.  For schools where the information is not online, and even those for whom it is, you can also get salary information by asking the university librarians.

If you don’t know what the other people in your department are making compared to you, try googling and see what you find.

Note that not all of the places online report data the same way.  Some report 9 month salaries separate from summer money.  Some include summer money in the numbers you get.  If you get summer money you can look and see what they think your salary is, otherwise you may have to ask someone or just or just skip directly to the library.  Some online places report calendar year instead of fiscal year salaries which is annoying.  The university library should report the fiscal year salary and will separate out 9 month from additional earnings even if the online places don’t (and for some states, there are multiple places that report salaries and the different websites sometimes report them differently!).

Once you have an idea what your salary is compared to people in your department… are you underpaid?  How do you compare to people who have worse cvs than you do?  How do you compare to the people making more than you are?  Are you a research active full professor making less than an associate professor?  Comparisons where the other person has not gotten an outside offer are especially compelling, but you shouldn’t let outside offers stop you– if a person has a higher salary from an outside offer and they’re not as productive as you are, you can still make the argument that your salary should be higher.

Who you compare yourself to is important– in my case, there’s a guy who never had an outside offer who was hired the year after I was who has a less impressive cv, fewer citations, fewer papers, equal quality etc. etc. etc. and it was very easy to use him as a comparison.  (The argument being that his best papers hit during years with raises, and my best papers hit during years without raises.  Or maybe they’re sexist.)  But my friend in a sister department has used several comparisons, some with outside offers, some without.  That way she could say, yeah, this person had an outside offer but this person didn’t, this person was hired a different year, but this person wasn’t.  And it made it very clear that her salary was the one out of whack, not a single comparison person.

Then write up your justification for a salary increase using these comparisons.  Put in charts or tables to make it easy to parse and to make your argument obvious.  My friend and I included this with our annual progress reports, but there’s no need to wait until then if you just found out about the equity problem now for the first time.  Your department head or dean may need extra time to figure out how to get equity increases and to lobby on your behalf.

On the other hand, universities, particularly those who have been through NSF ADVANCE, may have a system in place specifically for equity bumps.  Our uni, for example, runs everybody’s statistics in each department (not publications or grant money or anything like that) and sends each department head a graph of a linear regression that makes it clear who the department outliers are.  The department head then can look at the underpaid outliers and decide if they are outliers because of low publications, for example, or if they want to request equity adjustments from the central university.  Department heads like this because they get money from the university, and there’s no system in place for lowering outliers from the other direction, so nobody gets upset at them.  The department head still has to write up a request though– if you write up that memo for them, it will make their life easier and they will be more likely to put forward the equity request.

I’ve also seen people who don’t have good comparisons at their own university (ex. people in interdisciplinary departments/fields) find comparisons at other schools of similar ranks to theirs (you may also want to include any schools your university considers to be “aspirational”).  Here again it’s important to determine if a salary listed is 9 month or 12 month, and you can either email the person in question or you can call up *their* university library– you don’t have to be at the university to have access to the internal salary data.

I’ve gotten 2 equity bumps in my time here, each about 10% (though I was still underpaid after, despite promises– it’s easy here for them to request a 10% bump but more difficult to request a larger one).  My friend just got an ~$50K/year equity bump and will no longer be underpaid.

University peeps at state schools:  Have you googled your salary info?  Are you underpaid compared to your colleagues?

Finally got my promotion salary info

  • My raise was 13%.  I think that’s the 10% regular bump and a 3% merit increase (I got a lot of pubs and killed myself on service last year).
  • That means that for a brief time, I will be making slightly more than DH (he was making slightly more than I was before this raise).
  • DH’s company is supposed to be doing raises soon.  I hope he out-earns me again, because that means we both will be bringing in more money.
  • I never thought I’d be the type to just have completely shared finances, but it works with DH.  He says he likes it because he doesn’t have to think about money stuff and can just let me take care of it.  I also find it easier to manage.  This is all possible because DH gives himself an allowance and we’re making enough that we don’t have to sweat the small money stuff anymore.  Also it means that his larger salary is also my larger income.  :D  He likes it when I get raises too, though it doesn’t actually affect him much these days (see allowance and not sweating the small stuff already).  But it makes me happy.  #bagladysyndrome
  • I am now making more than 2x what my starting salary was.
  • If DH were making what I’m making, he would be making more than 3x his starting salary #trailingspouse
  • My house is also worth a little more than 2x what it was when we bought it, according to our property taxes that are updated every year.
  • According to an inflation calculator, total inflation has been 47% during that time.  So I guess we’re beating inflation, which is good.
  • We’re supposed to have annual merit increases, but that’s kind of broken because we’ve had so many years with no pay raise.  Sensible departments do raises on a 3-5 year scale, but ours only has a one year look-back period, so it’s easy to get bad luck with publication timing.
  • The crazy thing is, I’m still underpaid for an economist with my record.  I guess that’s what happens when you don’t get outside offers.
  • The good thing about having a lower than expected salary is that I am more movable in the eyes of other departments.  The bad thing is that it might lead to lower salaries even if I’m movable because they figure they don’t have to bump me up as much to get me.
  • When I was talking with people this summer about, “My salary is X, will my salary be a problem/would I have to take a paycut if I moved” nobody blinked an eye.  One person was like, yeah, we pay our untenured research faculty (which you could be) more than that, even prorated to 9 months.
  • This was the last big bump I was eligible for.  I’m hoping so hard that my salary won’t matter that much because I will be going someplace else next year.
  • My bursary seems to have completely disappeared.  I got denied a $50 reimbursement (Desk rejection means half price submission fees) because of insufficient funds.  Nobody seems to be able to tell me what is going on– they won’t even respond to my emails to acknowledge that they have gotten the question.  I have another fund to draw from, but it is going to run out in a year and I kind of have all that money ear-marked for research purposes.  (It also hasn’t refilled for this year, but I have some of last year’s money left because I did so little travel.)
  • More digging and more emails– they have confirmed that I have zero bursary this year.  Which is bad because I have made travel and RA and research commitments that involve having a bursary.  Seems like they could have told me something about it before I started getting payments denied.
  • More emails.  Apparently my bursary was tied to being an associate professor and when I became a full professor I lost it.  And like, nobody noticed I had no bursary.  Well, technically the people denying my reimbursement requests noticed, but they didn’t flag it as being unusual even though *everyone* has some kind of bursary.  (This loss was not the case for anybody else in this history of our department or our closest sister department– every single other person who has gone up for full has had an endowed chair.  I’m the only one without.  This is not because my research record is worse or because I have less service, because neither of those are true.)  They are in the process of restoring my bursary with unmarked funds, but it may take a while.  At some point it’s going to be too late for me to not request travel permissions, so hopefully it will be figured out before then.  In the mean time I guess I float reimbursements.
  • I applied for a job in the midwest that’s close to DH’s family.  Even though there’s a supercreep on the faculty.  (He preys on female freshmen and was fired from another institution for doing so.  He will tell you this proudly if you ever meet him.  He likes to say that they’re legal and he won his wrongful termination lawsuit.)

Big work plans for the year

Let’s see if they pan out!

  • Deep dive into my second focus area that I’m getting known for and asked to do keynotes for, but am not really a member of the community of (even though I do have training and publications)
  • Catch up on all the working paper and published journal abstracts I didn’t read since the pandemic started (>350 unread emails, each one a page full of abstracts)
  • Get out the Second Stage paper (September depending on coauthor)
  • Finish the systematic literature review and get it out (September depending on coauthor)
  • Keynote (October)
  • Three conferences (October)
  • ASSA panels (January)
  • Write the grant proposal I said I would write (January)
  • NSF main paper
  • HR paper
  • HA Name paper (RA-led)
  • Start two new projects
  • Prep new class I was supposed to create last year but didn’t
  • Stop getting so irritated with incompetence and willful making things harder for me on the part of administrative units (ex. IT).  (This seems to be easier with the idea that I am definitely going to leave as soon as I can.)
  • Apply for new jobs!

Do you have any big professional pie in the sky plans for this year?

Co-Pilot update

The first month of co-pilot (not sponsored– if you want a discount, wheezy waiter is sponsored) seems to be going fine. I’m doing exercise exercises for 15 minutes 3 days a week and stretching for 15 minutes 3 days a week and I take Sundays off.

I started out with two weeks of calisthenics because I was traveling the first week and I needed another week to get used to the new program (also my person likes doing two week sets).  These were two days of cardio and full body strength and one day that I would term “leg day.”  The first two workouts were about the right level– I was left sweaty and breathless but didn’t feel like dying.  My first time I did leg day it was too easy, I guess because my legs are in better shape (from walking) than the rest of me, so I let her know.  She calibrated a bit too much in the other direction to fix it the next week but it was still doable.  Each task is ~30 seconds (a few are longer if they’re based on number of reps, and some of my stretches are a full minute) with a 20-30 second break in between.  It keeps things interesting and doable.  (Note:  YMMV– DH does things longer for longer because he started out in better shape!)

Then I had two weeks with weights.  This time I had a full body day, an arm day, and a leg day.  These were a bit harder than the calisthenics were, but still doable.  My arms definitely felt much weaker after doing these exercises, but by the end of the two week set, the exercises had gotten easier and my arms had gotten stronger.  But it wasn’t like I was feeling stronger right away– I definitely was feeling weaker and more tired with the exercise, even on days I didn’t exercise.  I assume this is the whole muscles tearing and rebuilding thing going on.  For all of these, I would do some warmup (always including arm circles for some reason), then a set of exercises, then I would repeat that set, and then I would end with stretches.

I currently have a 4 week set going where she’s breaking up things a bit differently.  I have a day of upper body then lower body, then full body, then the next week it’s a different upper body, lower body, and full body.  These also don’t have the thing where I do a set of exercises followed by a repeat– instead it’s a longer single set in the middle of warmup and stretching.  The first arm day was a little too hard so she adjusted one of the exercises to make it doable for me.

DH’s trainer and my trainer have different personalities.  DH’s is very business-y and pushes him.  Everything is very matter-of-fact.  Mine is more chit-chatty and doesn’t want me to ever feel bad exercising.  She came late to exercising and understands that I don’t know what I’m doing.  Any pushes for me are gentle.

I have not yet gotten any magical increases to willpower.  Exercising is not a real habit yet even though it’s the first thing I do in the morning, and it does seem to take some of my willpower away from other things I would normally do in the morning.  Infinite things cannot be added to my day.  If something goes in, something else goes out.  That may change as it becomes an actual habit and I start doing it without thinking, but for now it becoming a priority has displaced other things that had been priorities.

One thing that does seem to be magically working better– she asked if I had any stretches that I wanted to do on alternating days, and I was like, what do you have for people who spend their days sitting at the computer?  And she was like, I’ve got you covered.  So now I’m doing a set of really great stretches, including this leg thing where I roll my knees to one side and then the other that “loosens my hips” — I did not know my hips were tight until said exercise.  DH also told me to suggest that she add another back exercise where you alternate toe touches while lying on your back, which she did because that’s supposed to be really good for strengthening your back for people who sit at the computer a lot.  And I do seem to be able to sit at the computer without my back hurting.  I think my posture is a little better too, though I don’t know if that’s a side effect or just coincidence.

If you’re wondering if I’ve had any weight-loss, the answer is no.  I am currently weighing more than I did any time in my life except when 9 months pregnant.  Fortunately weight-loss isn’t a very good measure of health, and as they say, muscle weighs more than fat but takes up less space.  I don’t know that I’ve done anything spectacular in the muscle area (unlike DH whose 40 min 3x/week for over a year has given him lovely definition from his shoulders to his calves), but it’s a good reminder that health and weight are not equivalent.

How’s your exercise routine going (or not going)?