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December 17, 2017

Carpet Camp

My last year of college I began my first grown up job search. It was time to see what I could do with my business degree.  I registered through Chico State’s career center, made a resume and purchased my first business suit.  Dressed in our business suits, that fall, my friends and I went to the career fair held at Chico State.  Walking around the many booths with recruiters handing out information about their companies was exciting. I was finally starting to get excited about graduating college. Previously I had been very scared to leave the safety of college, Chico, my friends, and my routine.

The next step was attending information nights offering more details about the companies and their jobs. I attended many information nights. One information night stood out to me, Shaw Industries. I’ll bet you’ve never heard of the world’s largest flooring manufacturer. Thanks to me, now you have.

Shaw had friendly, approachable recruiters. At Shaw’s information night, they showed us a cute little computer they called a Mad Pad. Mind you this was 2002 before I-Pads and Notebooks. I liked the idea of using this little computer. The sales representative job also required an SUV to haul flooring samples around.  That night I went home excited about the prospect of the Shaw Industries job. I thought all night about using that cute little Mad Pad and driving around in a white GMC Yukon. By my level of excitement, you would’ve thought I already had the job.

Over the course of that year, I had many interviews with all sorts of companies. Many flops and a few good. You bet the first interview with Shaw went well. I was offered a second interview, this time in Georgia. I was going to fly to across the country, for free no less, to interview for a job I wanted!!! I remember that feeling vividly; I felt so grown up.

The interview in Georgia went very well. I got the job!!!! Visualization works ladies!  I was starting their training program that July in the carpet capital of the world, Dalton, Georgia! Carpet Camp here I come!! I write all this with a hint of sarcasm because who says they want to sell commercial carpet when they grow up. I didn’t, but I was damn happy for the opportunity.

I couldn’t have made a better decision.  I loved my time working for Shaw. It is a good company, and I met many great people. Their training program was very thorough, and I was well prepared for my first big girl job.

Shaw took great care of their sales representative training employees. The training office staffed with supremely nice women, who not only had an impressive knowledge of football but heaping bowls of good candy on their desks. These same fabulous women had food brought in from Meat and 3’s, Chick-Fil-A and various local cafes. For those of you who don’t know what Meat and 3’s are, it’s a cafeteria style restaurant where you chose a meat and three sides. They are delicious!

Can you say sausage biscuit sandwiches from Chick-Fil-A for breakfast, chicken salad croissant sandwiches for lunch and the ubiquitous of the south, sweet tea!! Yes, it was tasty as it sounds. I really took to Southern eating.

Did I also mention that there were around 30, fresh out of college, graduates from schools all across the United States? Shaw liked to hire from “social” schools; I think that is a nice way of saying party schools. From Chico State alone there were four of us in the training program.

Friday night after work it was Mexican food and margaritas. Going out Friday and Saturday nights in Chattanooga, Tennessee was the norm due to better bars and drinking laws. Then there was football. Football food and drinks were the Sunday routine.  As you can imagine, I packed on the pounds about 20 to be exact. That suit I mentioned above was now very tight.

The first improvement I made was joining the local gym. I was not in the mood to exercise after a long day at work, so I would come home from work and immediately put on workout clothes. The less time I gave myself to think about going to the gym the better. The takeaway ladies, put on your workout clothes right away, get in your car or hit the pavement, without thinking too much. You don’t want to give yourself time to talk yourself out of working out.

Many of my fellow trainees were also members of the gym so we would go together. I was often the one to round everybody up. There were times my friends said, “If you hadn’t come and gotten me I wouldn’t have gone to the gym today.” Having workout buddies is great!

My weight training schedule from my old gym in Chico was in the glove compartment of my car, so I busted it out again. I used the Stairmaster and treadmill for 30 minutes of cardio followed by weight lifting. In the evening I would stretch and do abs on my living room floor while I watched bad reality TV.

I went to the gym Monday through Thursday. Friday was still Mexican and margaritas after work. Peeps, you cannot lose all the fun in your life! Saturday and Sunday I would use the beautiful outdoor walking loop at the gym and run/walk. I love walking/running outdoors. I was working out a good 5 to 6 days a week, give or take.

There were weekends we went to Georgia football games in Athens on Saturday. Even a few Atlanta Falcons games on Sunday.

As you can see there were times I didn’t hit the gym over the weekend. There is always wiggle room for fun! People don’t realize how much wiggle room they actually have. You don’t need to eat and exercise perfectly all the time, just most of the time.

The second improvement I made was ditching the sweet tea and regular trips to the candy bowl. I did not give up the chicken salad croissant sandwich or Chick-Fil-A breakfast sandwiches; they were only eaten once a week anyhow.

ate lunch out pretty much every day, either in a business meeting or on the go between carpet mill tours. I did go home to eat lunch when possible.

I started cooking either soup or chili on Sunday and ate it with french bread or corn bread. Always with real butter. I would eat the leftovers the rest of the week for dinner. I also started making filling salads that were a meal in themselves. I also love a combination of both soup and salad.

My fellow trainees and I had dinners together since a bunch of us cooking for one did not make sense. We took turns cooking/hosting, which worked out well. We had fun dining together, and it was time and cost effective. Like I said I enjoyed everyone in training. We all lived in the same apartment complex, owned by Shaw, specifically for their training employees.

At this time I began eating even cleaner than I ever had before. I grocery shopped every Sunday in preparation for the busy week ahead.

I allowed myself to drink Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Monday through Thursday were dry days, of course, if there was a birthday or an event I would allow myself to have a drink or two. Wiggle room ladies, wiggle room, you really have it.

Not only did I want to drop the 20 pounds I had gained I also had other areas of my life that needed improvement.  I was going to business lunches with people I’d never met. My college conversational skills were no longer working. Starting a conversation with, “what bar did you go to last night?” was no longer applicable. I seriously needed new conversational tricks in my bag!

I needed daily CNN and regular football viewing to up my conversational game. I created a new morning routine consisting of eating oatmeal, watching CNN and getting ready for work. I was not in the habit of making oatmeal for breakfast or waking up at 5:30 am. Food motivated me to get up early. It takes time to make oatmeal, cut up fruit, etc., plus it allowed more time for listening to the news. My big girl job needed a big girl routine.

By October I was down a solid 20 pounds. I loved the way I looked and felt. I loved my new routine, and best of all none of the improvements I made were unpleasant. I loved shopping for new work clothes. Some of my fondest memories were driving to Atlanta for a day of shopping at the fabulous Lenox Mall.

The timing worked out perfectly I had finished paying off credit card debt from college. That same money I was putting towards the credit cards, I could now use to improve my work clothes situation. College clothing is way different than business attire.

Conclusion: Cleaning up other areas of your life can help to clean up your eating and exercise routine. For example, my morning routine made it easier to get my hands out of the candy bowl because I wasn’t hungry at 10 am.

Getting out of debt was amazing. I was happier and less stressed. It’s easier to make good decisions when you are happy, less stressed and proud of your self.

Nothing about this story is written to overwhelm you but rather to illustrate that all areas of our lives overlap. Use the momentum from the areas of your life you are rocking to help fuel your motivation in areas you would like to improve.

I would never want anyone to feel overwhelmed after reading this blog post. Thinking, “oh shit, not only do I need to lose weight and exercise but now I need to organize my life and get out of debt.”

Take it easy one step at a time layering your improvements as it feels good to do so. As always, remember to show love and compassion to yourself. Treat yourself the way you would your best friend.

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