A Friday Wrap

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It’s Friday, the week has been busy, but it’s great to be alive.

After pulling my first all-nighter since college, which I finished a year ago this weekend, I realized that something has to give when it comes to my daily schedule. I’m grateful for the opportunity I have, to work from home as I study for my personal training certification, but working from home forces you to actually develop a schedule that needs to be maintained and improved upon daily.

Since it’s Friday, I won’t bore you with how to create a schedule for yourself, or even how to help jumpstart your motivation to get everything done, but what I will give you is this:

You always have more time than you think you do, you just have to find it.

I look for blog topics every morning, since October I’ve been contributing to the Third Wave Fashion Blog and monthly Fashion Tech Report, Paige and I average six runs a week, and I have to study to get certified. Without some type of order, like I lost this week, you’ll end up with the dreaded all-nighter, which shouldn’t happen once you’ve graduated.

You can make it through this Friday, use the weekend to get that big breath of fresh air you need, and don’t worry about anything until Monday. Like the photo below, it doesn’t matter how you have fun, but make sure you do!

7fd2d5e65aa211e382810ee93d32a936_8Courtesy: Paige

The Business of Edcuation

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My general disdain for the money made from higher education has been pretty evident, if it hasn’t, just browse through the education category over on the left. Typically my focus is on student loans, the impact that students are left to deal with in the pursuit of a decent education, but today I’m taking a slightly different route.

Thanks to the Western Carolinian, the student newspaper at Western Carolina University, today I’m focused on how the money is being spent by the institution. Before I get started though, I will clarify: the issue I’m addressing in this post is not that money is being spent, but how it is being spent.

Having established that, the inspiration for this post comes from a recent article published by the Western Carolinian in regard to the 2020 Vision Plan for WCU, and the impact that a potential parking garage would have on students, staff and faculty.

Parking garages are expensive, they must be managed and maintained, just like any other facility. I get that. Considering the growth that WCU has experienced over the last few years, I’m not one to disagree with the notion that a parking garage is probably a smart idea for the preservation of the campus and the community. In this case, I’d personally much rather see one structure a short distance from campus that could provide solid parking options for students without paving over the whole landscape.

There is one thing however that sticks out to me though, and an issue that I believe should be a more intricate part of the planning well beyond 2020, and should be considered as we head into 2014.

The faculty and staff of WCU have not received a raise in their salary since 2008, and some of them are upset that their parking fees will go up in order to compensate for the garage. Renee Corbin, director of assessment, even talked about parking further away from campus or making a deal with local business, for a fee. If the faculty and staff are to pay more per year for parking or other fees in order to accomplish the 2020 Vision plan, without a pay raise, they have every right to be frustrated.

Western Carolinian

I can’t imagine that Western is the only school with this problem, not necessarily directly related to a parking garage, but the idea that faculty aren’t seeing pay raises for the work and dedication given to the institutions they serve, as money continues to be spent on expansion projects and useless campus “beautification”.

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Where my problem with the situation goes deeper, is the fact that all of this money is spent, but programs continue to be cut, class sizes increase as classes are cut from programs, and the blame is placed on money and budgeting despite expansion and beautification projects.

Yes, growth is good. I’m not saying that it isn’t, but should the quality of education, and the quality of programs offered be driven into the ground just so the students can have a new fountain or new campus directional signs?

The simple answer is no. At institutions of higher education, something inside me says that we should be focusing on maintaining a competitive level of education, not making things pretty. There are programs at WCU that have scaled back so much, that they hardly resemble the programs that students initially came to the school for.

On a larger scale, the problem with education across the country, high schools and colleges alike, is coming from how money is being spent. At some point, the focus needs to be on advancing what is best for students, or these institutions need to quit pretending to be focused on education.

Yes, I included high schools because North Carolina can’t seem to get anything right in terms of budgeting for education, which may or may not come from the fact that all the people making real decision have no idea what it’s like to work in the actual education system.

Teachers, professors, faculty and staff, they all deserve respect from the students they serve, but they deserve even more from the systems that they are working for.

If education were actually the focus of higher education, I’d be willing to bet money that many of the problems we’re facing would seemingly fix themselves. But when you’re more concerned with the way something looks than how it operates, then no, none of these problems are ever going to be solved.

Education is a business. It’s time the employees were shown that they are appreciated, not just being used to bring in more money under the facade of helping develop the future.

As always, that’s just my two cents and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but where I do think we can come together is in the idea that a change needs to be made to the system as a whole; something is broke, it’s time we fixed it.

Making Social Media Work For You

IMG_0357Image: Paige Hogan for Third Wave Fashion

To many people, social media is a game, one that almost isn’t worth playing because success is difficult to measure.

Yes, the more followers or fans you have, the better it looks, but without meaningful relationships in that community, the numbers don’t mean anything.

Advice flowed from the panel of industry experts that Third Wave Fashion put together, and for a look at what you missed, jump over to my recap on Making Social Media Work For You.

Don’t Do It: Juice Cleanse

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I like juice. I like being clean. A juice cleanse can’t be that bad, right?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

This isn’t our first bout with juice cleanses, Paige has done one before, but with the amount of ginger and vegetables that I wouldn’t eat even if they were in a salad with a whole bottle of ranch on them, I couldn’t do it.

Why change my mind? New product meant a new taste, I thought that was a pretty safe assumption. So with the wedding three weeks away, and wanting to look our best, I agreed that I would try the juice cleanse too, that it couldn’t be that bad, and we would pursue our best bodies together.

On the menu: Juice Press raw/organic juices. The Pink Punk, from the picture above, was my introduction to the newest option. It has pineapple, strawberry, and beet juice, a strange combination, but a good one.

Only problem with the Pink Punk… The way it punches you in the throat when the ginger kicks in.

Ginger is supposed to help quell hunger, to manage how hungry you feel and trick you into thinking that you’re full. Despite how much I hate it, I have to admit that I think it works, since the Pink Punk and a handful of chips is basically all I ate yesterday, and felt full.

Other than the ginger, I haven’t figured out how to stomach the green juices, from any company, without feeling like I want to vomit. It’s as if I want to like it, but after the third drink I’m looking for the steak and potatoes to offset the sudden influx of veggies sloshing their way through my stomach.

Luckily, I picked up a new box of Clif Bars, just in case, so there is something other than the juices for me to find some type of sustenance. In the end, the juice cleanse isn’t an awful option for halfway healthy, quick weight loss and weight management. I, however, will remain firm in my belief that really you can eat whatever you want as long as you burn the calories.

If you put in the food, you have to put in the work, and if you’re willing to do that, you get to enjoy food and life.

Daily Blogging: 2 Week Mark

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It’s Friday, and the week has been full of new things, posts on politics, fashion, student issues, and occasionally a mention of joblessness in the face a wedding.

Today however, considering the weekend is on the brink of beginning, I’ll go easy.

When I told Paige that I was no longer going to be working the job that I’d been at since May, we weren’t sure what I should do. It’s difficult to look for a job when you have to ask for the second month off so you can go on a 19-day honeymoon in Japan, let alone the week before that trip to have the actual wedding. So, considering the difficulty of finding a job with those stipulations, Paige issued me a challenge.

Blog at least once a day.

I had a decent number of followers, and was only on the website once every other month or so, but faced with quickly approaching student loans and a fairly weak portfolio, it only made sense.

Thus it began. As many of you saw, last week, a post went out everyday, the numbers slowly crept up, and I began to see the potential that Paige has been telling me existed for a long time. With that, this last week I decided to up the ante, to strive for at least a few days of two posts, just to see the reaction, and get a feeling of when you would be reading.

Paige nailed it. On Monday, you guys put my numbers close to the total views and visitors that I had for all of last week, and the week only got better. We redesigned some of the options on the website, I started tagging my posts, and updated Tumblr too.

Thanks in large part to Paige, but the quiet support that many of you have shown just by visiting, my whole attitude has turned around as the wedding gets closer.

I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you. To all of you. You’ve helped ease the stress of looming loan payments and wedding detail finalization. If there is any topic you want to see written about, or you want some advice on here, just click that gif on the right, or connect with me here.

You’ve helped me, and I’ll help you. Have a great weekend, and smile a little bit, you deserve it.

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Cross-Cardio: Because Running Sucks

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Running is an excellent way to get in shape and stay in shape. The reality of the sport though…

It sucks!

I’m fairly confident that’s the sole reason why my training regimens never seem to last, despite the fact that I know I have to train if I want to get any better.

Luckily though, Paige has developed her own system of doing things. One that was born after doing 10k Tuesdays and 5-mile Fridays, and discovering how awful an hour on a treadmill is.

Thus is the birth of Cross-Cardio.

I joke and ask what the difference is between the new method and traditional cross-training, but Paige pushes on, focused on feeling awesome for our wedding. With her drive, it was dumb to argue with the process, so now I too have adopted what most would think is lame triathlon training without the swimming portion.

Essentially, it’s this:
1) Run for 10-20 mins, get your heart rate up.

2)Bike for 10-20 mins, if you aren’t pouring sweat by this point, you aren’t working hard enough.

3) Elliptical or back to the treadmill for a final 10-20 mins, your option, but you should be feeling it by now either way.

Instead of mixing in workouts to improve core strength or balance, the focus is purely heart rate and recovery, even if you aren’t actively monitoring it.

Will this system have you looking like an Abercrombie model? Probably not. What cross-cardio can offer though, is a fairly simple way to lose and manage your weight. Whether it’s treadmills, bikes, or ellipticals, you get to choose how long and how hard you are going to work. With you at the helm, the sweat equity that you gain from taking control is unmatched, because you know how much you’ve done to make yourself healthier.

In the end, it’s all about the sweat. If you don’t like that, then you won’t like this process, but if you find yourself dripping sweat after 30 mins you’ll find that in 30 days you feel a whole lot better.

Even though I mocked it, I promise it’s worth a try.