wee answer Wednesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Did I schedule this interview for too far out?

I just had a second-round interview with a place I’d love to work. I interviewed with one of the hiring managers (first round was a phone interview). She said she wanted to bring me in for another interview to meet with the VP and another hiring manager. I ended up scheduling two weeks out because of schedules and difficulty in taking time off. They would have told me if this is a problem, correct? Should I go back to them and say I can do it earlier? Will they think I’m uninterested?

If they were willing to let you schedule for two weeks out and didn’t sound put out by it, I wouldn’t worry about it. Employers generally have no problem saying, “We’re wrapping up interviews by January 20” or whatever if that’s the case.

That said, in the future, if you can make it work earlier, I tend to think it’s a good idea to — you never know if another candidate might come along and wow them in the meantime. (And now I’ve sent a bunch of people into paroxysms of anxiety. Sorry!)

2. Employers hesitating because I look young

Much like your 30-year-old who had to deal with patronizing comments yesterday, I am 30 but look very young for my age. I have been working for a local government for about 6 years and have hit the ceiling in terms of my current position. Because of this, I have been seeking out higher-level jobs with other cities. I interviewed at two places, but in the after-interview discussions with HR, they both said they weren’t sure how the public would respond to “such a young person in a public role.”

I am qualified for the roles, at least according to their position profiles. The ones I apply for state they want “3-5 years of experience” and I have 6-1/2. I do not apply for ones that mention “X years supervising others” or “X years in an executive role,” etc.

Any advice other than to keep looking? Hearing the same thing twice is really discouraging.

It’s certainly true that if you’re baby-faced, you might have a higher bar to meet when it comes to public positions where the public is more comfortable seeing someone “seasoned” or with gravitas. That’s true in a number of positions that involve acting as a public spokesperson, representing the company on the news, etc. The employer may not want to deal with the public not taking a very young-looking representative seriously. (And for anyone wondering, age discrimination laws don’t kick in until age 40.)

Ideally, this would motivate you to show them why you’d be so good at the job that this won’t matter … but yeah, it’s frustrating.

3. My husband, his lover, and I all work for the same company

I’ve been working for the same company (a public networking company) for 15 years and so does my husband. I am an engineer and he started as an engineer too and over the years he escalate and now he is VP RND. He started having an affair with the HR manager (she started working for the company around 3 years ago). I have all the proof, emails, even voice recordings about their affair. We have 2 children. She is also married with children. We are separating in a couple of weeks. Do I have any case to sue them/fire them/damage their careers? I’m really hurt.

Trying to get revenge in situations like this is an understandable impulse, but rarely one that it’s healthy to act on. I’d focus on moving on and making sure your children are as protected as possible from any fall-out. I’m sorry this is happening to you.

4. Asking about the chances to turn an internship into a full-time job

How does one go about asking, during the interview, if an (unpaid) full-time internship opportunity can lead to something full-time/paid/benefits, without seeming ungrateful for the opportunity? And if it includes expenses (daily food and transport allowance)? They vaguely mentioned it in one internship posting, but not in the one I applied to.

You can certainly ask whether previous interns have gone on to be hired by the company, but be careful not to imply that you’ll be disappointed if that doesn’t happen to you. If if they do have a good track record of hiring interns once their internships are over, they don’t know yet whether you’ll be one of them, and they’ll be wary of saying anything you might take as a promise. (And a lot of people hear “we do sometimes hire interns for full-time positions” as “we’ll probably hire you for a full-time position later on” — and once an interviewer has been burned by this, they tend to get very cautious.)

About expenses, you can say, “I know the position is unpaid. Do you offer any type of stipend to help with expenses?”

5. Mentioning that I previously applied for a job with the same organization

I applied for a job at a nonprofit back in the middle of December, and never heard anything back from them (probably because I was a bit late in applying, because I came across it weeks after it was posted). They’ve just posted another position that I would like to apply for. I don’t think they have an HR department (too small an organization), and the posting provides a specific email address and who to send it to. It’s a different person than the first job I applied for.

Should I be mentioning in my cover letter that I applied for a position a month ago, or just apply again without bringing it up? Is that something they would even notice/remember since I’m sure they look over a bunch of resumes and cover letters?

There’s no reason to mention that you applied previously; it doesn’t really impact your candidacy in any way. But I suppose if you want to show a continued interest in this organization in particular, you could say something like, “I was excited to see the X position last month because I’d love to work with ABC Organization, but I’m even more excited to see the Y position now, because ____.”

6. Explaining the impact of ADHD and depression on my job history

I’m 26 and I was recently diagnosed with severe ADHD and depression, which was a huge relief, since it explains a lot of my problems at previous jobs. I was very scattered, unproductive, easily distracted, and consistently late, which led to many poor performance reviews, and I was even fired from a couple of jobs for my poor performance and tardiness. I also had trouble staying at a job for more than a few months even if I didn’t get fired, because I became bored and distracted thinking of greener pastures. Now that I’ve been diagnosed and treated with therapy and medication (which is a continuing process, obviously), I’m a completely different person. I’ve become very reliable and I’m capable of working hard and doing a great job, consistently. I’ve been taking a break from my field for the past year and doing an entry-level retail job part time while I’ve been dealing with these issues, but I feel like I’m ready to go back to my field now. How should I explain my awful resume to prospective employers? Should I disclose my mental health issues?

Say that you were dealing with health issues in the past that made it difficult to fully focus on work, but that that has now been fully resolved. Kudos on solving it!

7. How do people find time for things outside of work?

I am wondering how everyone deals with work/life balance. I struggle with hypothyroidism, which, even though its controlled, still leaves me exhausted most of the time. I work hard at my job and do well at it but find it difficult to do much else. I am set to get married later on this year and desperately need to lose weight and need to get to the gym but feel like I have no time for it. I work your regular “9 to 5” job, don’t have dependents other than my fiance, have one extracurricular of playing in a community orchestra, and that’s it. I am not an early riser so morning workouts sound as appealing as tar, and I am always exhausted and want food when I get home from work, and then I feel like I can’t work out with a full stomach, and then it ends up being late and time to go to bed. I can’t go during lunch because that means buying a gym membership (I can’t justify when we a have a nice free gym in my apartment building, 50 minutes from my work) so what do I do? Would love your suggestions. And also a note, I have no idea how working mothers do it. None. It makes me scared to have kids.

I don’t know either. I have a high need for long periods of downtime, where I do nothing productive at all, so I’m confused by people who fill up every minute with activity. Readers?

{ 238 comments… read them below }

  1. JohnQPublic*

    For 7:
    First- consult your physician. This may have some underlying cause, either you’re on the wrong medication, you’re eating the wrong foods, you may have an allergy to something (allergies don’t always have the classic itchy/sneezy symptoms!).
    Second- The apt gym is an excuse, and a poor one. You don’t use it, so it might as well not exist. If you pay for a membership _but_you’ll_actually_use_it_, it is worth it.
    Third- there is no such thing as a work/life balance. You make a list of your priorities, schedule them In That Order (and if you schedule work first it means that is your number One priority), and you stick to it.
    Fourth- if you find yourself ravenous at the end of the workday, you may need to speak to a dietician. Eating the right food, at the right time, in the right amounts can help enormously. He/she can figure out how to fix that, and this may actually help alleviate the tiredness, lack of energy, AND the weight problems!

    1. The IT Manager*

      It may be worth it to consult a doctor, but I am hungry and tired when I get home everyday. I am tired (mentally) because I worked a full day and commuted for an hour a half, and I am hungry because it’s dinner time. It’s not necessarily a sign of illnes to be tired and hungry at the end of the day.

    2. Kerry*

      I used to feel the way LW #7 describes at the end of the workday when I got home – totally zonked, good for lying around on the sofa and making pathetic movements towards the fridge, but that was about it.

      It really helped to eat something in the hour or so before I left work. After working all afternoon plus a 50-minute commute, your blood sugar is going to be through the floor by the time you get home. On the other hand, if you eat a small something (sandwich, bean salad, whatever) around 4, leave around 5 and get home around 6, you won’t be utterly zonked and won’t have a full stomach so you’ll be able to go to the gym if you want.

      I really love after-work gym because it lets me kind of ‘work off’ the workday, like a physical reset button, and exercise is often energising, so I’m able to do things in the evening too.

      1. Sarah*

        I was going to post a very similar comment about having a substantive late-in-the-day nosh, because I find it very helpful – and otherwise I’m exactly the way OP described.

        I also agree with JohnQPublic – who gives a damn if you have a free gym in your apartment. Awesome. Take advantage of the work gym. I promise you, the amount of people who notice or care that you’re gone for an hour every lunch hour is incredibly smaller than you think.

        Another thing I’ve struggled with (not sure if this will help OP, but just in case) is a very all-or-nothing mindset. Even if you’re only going to the gym one day a week after work, that’s much better than not going any days! Don’t try to force yourself into a huge lifestyle upset – just work small improvements in and let yourself get accustomed to them. Again, JohnQPublic is right. If you list out your priorities, and then you list out your calendar items, and there’s a disconnect, that’s something you need to work on.

        1. Martina*

          I completely agree with Sarah’s last point. In terms of adding exercise into my own schedule, I always went through periods of exercising 3-5 days/week for about 3-6months and then stop for another half year or so. Now, I do yoga twice a week and it feels much less intimidating, but also very rewarding. If you’re concerned with paying for a membership, I don’t know if you have CorePower in your area, but the one by me has free classes.

          Also, I get much more motivated to work out when I have a buddy, so that might work for you too. It especially helps when I have a day when I just really don’t feel up to it, but I know I’ll get to chat with my friend for a bit and that since he’s going, I might as well too.

          1. KarenT*

            I always went through periods of exercising 3-5 days/week for about 3-6months and then stop for another half year or so.

            You just described my entire fitness career!

        2. books*

          Or find a class!
          Or a workout buddy. (Not your soon to be fiance, because it’s easy for you both to say no.) A friend, a neighbor, a coworker – someone who will be annoyed if you’re not there when you say you will be.

      2. fposte*

        I was totally going to suggest a mid-afternoon snack! I have the same problem in that the home-eat-can’t workout syndrome will kill off physical stuff (though I can still go for a walk, at least), and cheese and crackers an hour or two before I arrive home helps considerably. I also find it it helpful to stay moving–change into your workout clothes right away and stay away from the couch–once it gets its claws into you it’s hard to extricate yourself . It can also help to be very specific about your afterwork plans in your mind before you get home–not just “go downstairs to the gym,” but “change into blue shorts and white sports bra and top, grab iPod, head first to elliptical.” The more specific the plan (and you can often do that during the commute) the easier it is to execute it on autopilot once you get in the doors, whereas the dread specter of figuring out what you take and wear and do can kill off any initiative that may be remaining.

        I’m honestly not hearing anything that is necessarily related to hypothyroidism, and generally if your levels are back to normal (I have no thyroid myself, so mine all comes out of a bottle) it’s not likely that that’s the problem. I think you’re just tired at the end of the day and need a new pattern to make the most of your remaining energy.

        1. Anlyn*

          I’m a big fan of the Stretch Island fruit leather. Real fruit, no additional sugar, only 45 calories per strip, and a great pick-me-up for late in the day. (Note, these are not fruit roll-ups, which are basically just sugar…these are dried and pressed fruit.)

        2. Kerry*

          ” I also find it it helpful to stay moving–change into your workout clothes right away and stay away from the couch–once it gets its claws into you it’s hard to extricate yourself. ”

          100% agree with this.

          1. BW*

            For me, it’s just going home. Once I get home, it’s all over. I’m not leaving the house again until the next morning. I won’t even go out to attend to the trash. When it’s my month to take the barrels to the curb and bring them back in, I do it before I even walk in the door because I know the chances of my coming back out once I get in and take my shoes and coat off are slim to none.

            1. Lulu*

              This is why I belong to a gym a 1/2 mile from work, and go directly after, do not pass go, do not go home first. I know that sitting in traffic for an hour will eliminate any motivation I have to work out.

              1. BW*

                This also works for arduous errands like grocery shopping and laundry (when I had to use the laundromat).

            2. Jamie*

              I’m the exact same way. Anything that needs to be done will be done before I come home and sit down. Because that’s moments from putting my hair up, donning flannel jammies, and once the Hello Kitty snuggie and slippers are on I wouldn’t leave the house if it were on fire.

                1. Jamie*

                  I would so place an order.

                  This is part of your master plan to cover the world in fleece, isn’t it?

            3. Hannah*


              I would highly recommend not going home before you head to the gym. Once I’m home, that’s it. I find it extremely hard to then head out to the gym.

              I go straight from work to the gym and usually change in the bathroom at my work building. Just the act of changing into workout clothes usually makes sure I will get there.

      3. AMG*

        I am always less hungry during the day when I have worked out first thing in the morning.

        I also agree completely with advice to speak to your doctor about this. Perhaps you have allergies, need an iron supplement, are eating the wrong foods (protiens and healthy fats could substitute for some of the carbs, and sugar can put you on a high-then-crash roller coaster).

        Try yoga in the evenings for a good workout that is also relaxing and meditative.

        As far as work/life balance with kids…it’s just tough. Mornings are for working out and getting kids dressed & ready, then work, then dinner, homework and bathtimes, and I have alittle time for myself and my husband once the kids are in bed. Steal a little time for yourself here and there on weekends or holidays, but it is just a big change–it’s that simple. Dont worry about trying it until you have been to the doctor and actually have a baby. :)

        1. AMG*

          Also, try taking walks during lunch–it will clear your head, get your energy level up, and keep you moving. Small changes lead toa bog difference–trust me!

      4. Piper*

        Yes! Add me to the chorus of the benefits of an afternoon snack. An apple with some peanut butter, a banana and a handful of almonds, or a protein bar. Having a snack helps me tremendously and gives me plenty of energy for my early evening runs and workouts. Don’t underestimate the power of proper fueling.

        1. Sandy*

          I have to eat every 2 hours or I get cranky. So I have breakfast at home, second breakfast around 9am, lunch, afternoon snack (sometimes just knowing that the apple and peanut butter are waiting for me at 3pm is the only thing that gets me through the day), a little snack after my workout, then dinner. I don’t know how people go all day without eating, I can’t do it.
          As far as working out, I have found that if I schedule the workout, either through signing up for classes, or even just putting “Gym” on my Outlook calendar it makes me more committed to go. If I have a class scheduled, I will go right after work, not even stop at home. If I’m jogging or working out at my house, I will go home and immediately change and start working out. I don’t sit down, I don’t talk to my cats, I just get moving. I don’t count my day as over until I’ve finished my workout, then I’m allowed to relax.

          1. Another Laura*

            My 2 cents it if you want to accomplish more outside work-you have to plan it. I would love a 9-5 schedule. I am at an 8am-7pm schedule usually (consulting hours). I wanted to take a grad school class at night, and I got it done! I came into work at 7am one day a week so I could leave at 6pm for class. I planned which hours I studied. I planned which day of the week I see friends. I never thought I could fit it in, but once you make time for it, it can happen.

            Now that class is over, I feel like I am “soo busy” and “i dont know how I did it before” because I let myself fall into a rut. Make a schedule and stick to it (if you want to !). its hard.

          2. BeenThere*

            I am a total grazer too! If I don’t eat every couple of hours I get cranky or I get a headache.. sometimes a full blown migraine but that’s if I haven’t eaten since breakfast because I’ve been working no stop on a production issue.

            Working out I like Yoga immensely, I also like to have someone to hold my hand see if you can get a friends along. If you motivate each other it’s 100 times easier to make it to the class for whatever exercise you like. Even if you get your friend to come to your gym in the apartment. There are several people in our block that do that.

          3. Lulu*

            I’m the same way with eating. I have a protein bar as I’m getting ready in the AM, lunch around 11, a snack around 3, and dinner around 7:30 when I get home from the gym. I feel like I literally eat all day, but they are small meals/snacks, and this is what keeps my energy up.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      LW#7 – I can almost guarantee your hypothyroidism is NOT being appropriately treated. In a lot of cases doctors put you on T4 (synthroid) treatment only, but a lot of people need T3 as well in order for symptoms to fully go away. I recommend doing more research into T3 and T4 and ask your doctor to test your T3, T4, FT3, FT4 – the full panel.

      1. Beth*

        I am not extremely motivated to go to the gym most days, but I tell myself a few things:
        1) I just have to go to the gym and work out for 10 minutes; usually after I’ve done 10 minutes, I’ll commit to another 20 plus weights. I know other advice is just tell yourself you have to get to the actual gym, not even work out, but once you’re there, you’ll do something, even if it’s just a few minutes of light cardio.
        2) I never, NEVER regret going to the gym. I have never once left the gym thinking, “I wish I hadn’t done that.” There are many things I might regret in my day, but I feel super positive about working out, every single time, even if it was a crappy workout.
        3) 30 minutes is about 2% of your day. If you sleep and work each for 8 hours, you spend 33% of your day sleeping, 33% of it working, and you have 33% for yourself–just 2% of your time working out is really not that much.

        1. Worker Bee*

          As the name implies “work”out: Make it part of your work! Take your workout clothes with you to work. Since you have a little commute, snack before you leave work. Don’t go home go straight to the gym. I even go so far, I use the shower at the gym and bring my comfy close to change into, drive the last 10 minutes home already relaxing. When I get home I prep my stuff for the next day make dinner and lunch for the next day and then I crash on the couch, knowing everything is taken care off. Even more relaxing because there is nothing to worry about/ on my mind.

        2. Sissa*

          The thing is that a 30 minute workout isn’t usually enough to get you burning the fat you might want to desperately burn. I hear an hour would be ideal, but I can understand that a lot of people can’t make that (or if they do, they do it at a great cost to other things).

          The endorphine high at the end is totally worth an hour of sweating though :)

          1. RF*

            Exercise won’t make you thin.

            Well, yes, it can, but it’s completely overrated just what exercise can do for you in terms of dropping weight. 1 hours of running 3 times a week will create less than a 2,000 kcal deficit per week. That’s about 1 kg a month in weight loss. And 1 hour of running is way more than most people can do at first. For people new to running, for example, they will usually start off with exercises that are 300kcal each – so about 1,000 a week.

            On the other hand, a kcal deficit of 500 a day caused by eating less is sustainable for most people and can result in 2 kg of weight loss a month.

            I am all for exercise (I do 6 sessions a week – swimming and strength training – for a total of about 5 hours), but its usefulness for weight loss is way overrated. Just going to the gym won’t lead to the weight loss many people seek. Eating is key.

            1. Beth*

              Well, I don’t work out to lose weight, I do it primarily for the stress relief, so I do the recommended 2.5 hours/week of cardio plus weight training and just eat as healthy as I can. I was promoted from an on-my-feet-constantly lower level job to a completely sedentary admin job and haven’t gained any weight, so I’d say it’s working for me. For some people, though, even just getting to the gym and doing 10 minutes of anything active is a huge win, so I wouldn’t discount a shorter, lighter workout vs. a 1 hour sweat fest.

      2. Sara M*

        Yes, this is exactly what I came here to say. Controlled hypothyroidism should NOT cause what you feel. May I recommend the About.com website about hypothyroidism? (No connection to me.) The writer is up on the latest research and her information helped me teach my doctors how to treat my disease properly.


        If I could reach through the internet and urge one person to please trust me and listen, it’s you. You don’t have to feel the way you do. There may be better treatment. Good luck.

    4. V*

      I agree with everyone above re: eating something small before you get home, even if it just a granola bar that you eat during your commute home, and going to your gym free gym BEFORE setting foot inside your home, even if it means packing a gym bag and changing in the bathroom of a gym that is in the same building as your apartment.

      But I hear something in your question that I do a lot – letting yourself getting overwhelmed with future problems (having the energy to raise children) to the point that you don’t deal with your current problem (getting to the gym). I do this too; I once freaked out with a whole scenario about how having to serve on a grand jury for 2 months was going to prevent me from ever having kids (jury duty = less time at work = no bonus = no savings for IVF = no kids ever). And it made sense in my head. But really, it was ridiculous; I just needed to focus on the immediate problem of adjusting my work schedule for those couple of months. And once I did htat, I made it work. I had to spned some late nights and weekends at the office, which was annoying, but I made it work. And for you, I expect going to the gym will be annoying (at least at first – you may come to enjoy it over time), but it is a doable challenge, so I hope you don’t psych yourself out of it.

      1. Jamie*

        I do this – I had to train myself into making the thoughts manageable as I can’t make them go away.

        I allow myself to dwell on worst case scenario for a 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the problem. It’s a weird way of honoring my neurosis and negative thinking and then putting it away. Then when the thoughts try to crop back in I just remember what my mother said a million times (and she raised a whole family of worst case scenario kids):

        98% of what you worry about will never happen
        1% will happen, but won’t be nearly as bad as you think it will
        There isn’t a darn thing you can do about the remaining 1% so worry about it when the time comes.

        I know there is no logic to her numbers – but it’s a weird little mantra that gives me comfort.

        1. Katie*

          “I allow myself to dwell on worst case scenario for a 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the problem.”

          I like this idea. I usually try to talk myself out of it, but the worst case scenario side of me can argue longer and with greater creativity/ insanity than the rational part of me.

        2. KellyK*

          I like your mom’s mantra and am stealing it. One thing that helps me in the worst-case scenario thinking is that if I let myself carry the worst-case scenarios out, kind of like you do, I can find the points where they probably fall into that 99%. Sometimes I can even get the worst-case scenario to be so ridiculous that I can laugh at it. Because I’m usually not worried about what’s going on right now, but six “what-ifs” down the chain, and some of the what-ifs are improbable.

          1. Jamie*

            Reductio ad absurdum. It can be entertaining to see the lengths people (me) will go to to get to absolute worst scenario.

    5. Sally*

      I know #7 didn’t ask for specific nutritional/fitness advice, but I was just like her until I discovered two things: crossfit and paleo. I don’t know if it actually works for everyone, but eating according to the paleo diet gives me WAY more energy than eating anything else and makes me leaner than anything else I’ve tried. Crossfit is awesome, and I think it’s really fun and effective, but it has also taught me that weightlifting is the best way to burn fat. Lifting heavy weights a few times a week is way more effective (and fun, and takes less time) than running your ass off, which I hated anyway. A good resource for getting started on either (written by a woman dealing with her own wonky thyroid) is http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com

  2. Eric*

    Related to #1, but from the employer side:
    We are reviewing resumes now, but wont be ready to start doing phone interviews for about until the end of February. Would it be off-putting to the candidates to schedule the interviews now, or is it too far out. (We are interviewing primarily college seniors to start over the summer, so it is a long-ish time frame for hiring as compared to other positions).

    1. Ruthie*

      I wouldn’t think it would be off-putting if you start scheduling in a week or two. Finding a quiet land line to do a phone interview as a college senior could be challenging, so candidates will likely appreciate lead time.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d ask why you need to schedule them so far in advance. If you want to do, say, 15 phone interviews, wait a few weeks before you start scheduling them, so that you’re picking the 15 strongest of your final group. Otherwise, you might schedule 15 now but have stronger applications arrive during the six weeks between now and when you’re ready to start talking to people.

      1. Josh S*

        +1 for using “Paroxysms”

        I think that may be the first time I’ve seen the word used in a sentence in the ‘real world’. Hooray for strong vocabulary!


  3. Marie*

    For LW 7, I have the same issue with fitting in gym before/after work, especially since marrying someone whose idea of fun recreational activities was much more sedentary than mine. I’ve had to accept that SOME activity is better than none, and aim for that rather than the fitness levels of my student days.

    The one thing that worked for me was buying a machine to use at home, so I can exercise at whatever odd time I get the urge (generally well after 10pm, once supper has been eaten and digested). Make your goals low – don’t start with a goal of 1 hour every day and disappoint yourself, but rather with a goal of 5 minutes every day for a week, and so on. Then increase it to 10 minutes for the next week. Experiment with times that suit your natural body rhythms better – everyone’s rhythms are different. If you can do it for a month, the habit will stick. I find I only have the patience to use a repetitive machine like my elliptical trainer if I watch or listen to something while exercising. Kettlebells are also good 5-minutes-at-a-time exercise (but you need to get a lesson first, so you don’t injure yourself). Skipping ropes are an inexpensive entry point, and can be kept behind your office door for 5-minute breaks (assuming you have some privacy in your office).

    On evening energy levels, I find that keeping my blood-sugar constant all day (eating small meals every 3 hours rather than breakfast-lunch-supper) gives me more energy to exercise while supper cooks. I keep 100-200 calorie snacks like breakfast bars in my desk drawer and never allow myself to get starving (this also for the sake of those in my immediate vicinity, who likely do not want to meet starving/moody me). Also, a crockpot is your friend for work-life balance: you get to come home to hot food and you get a longer evening.

    Don’t forget that many people lose weight purely from the pre-wedding stress (I know I did), so you might find it drops off on its own.

    1. Lisa*

      “I’ve had to accept that SOME activity is better than none, and aim for that rather than the fitness levels of my student days.”

      We forget that exercise doesn’t mean 30 min of weight training and 30 min of cardio on some machine. It can mean a walk. You can walk after dinner, and honestly 2 miles isn’t far when you are gabby with a friend or spouse. Create a route to take after dinner (snow shouldn’t stop you, but walking in rain sucks), and go walking. Walking 2 miles everyday after dinner will do you more good than trying to fit this warped view of exercise into your life.

      1. fposte*

        I’m a big walker myself, but if you’d be walking alone and you’re in an area where winter means darkness combined with uncertain footing, I’d recommend finding an alternative. Falling down sucks even more than walking in the rain.

        1. mozandeffect*

          Dog walkers in my neighborhood walk late night all the time. I’ve noticed they’ve outfitted themselves with bright orange construction vests and/or reflective tape on their clothes and carry a strong flashlight. On the other hand, that said, they’ve usually got a big dog to protect them :)

          1. fposte*

            I live in a pretty safe area–I’m less concerned about being mugged than about being hit by a car or taking a big fall on the ice (did that a couple of days a go here) and having nobody know. So maybe “Take a phone” is a thought for me there :-).

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              “having nobody know”

              I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned here that when I fell and broke my foot, I was in a parking lot with no one around. I had to sit on the curb (crying in pain, I’m ashamed to say) for about 15 minutes before someone came by who I could flag down. It was awful.

              (No cell phone, since I thought I was just running out quickly. Never again.)

              1. Jamie*

                Wow – no you didn’t, that I can recall. That’s awful. :(

                And a good reminder to all of us to make sure we grab out phones even if we’re just popping out for a second.

                1. Katharina*

                  My cousin once got locked in in his own bathroom for 26 hours – until his roommate came home and broke the door. He now takes his cell phone EVERYWHERE.

                2. Ellie H.*

                  Yesterday I was in an elevator in one of the classroom buildings at the university I work at and I saw a sign pasted over the emergency call box, “Out of order – Please call campus police at [number] for emergencies.” It freaked me out. Even though it’s a great idea to carry a phone everywhere because that is the way the world works now, it still seems pretty bad to me not to have a working emergency button/phone in an elevator.

                3. Ornery PR*

                  Katharina – This reminds me of the “Mad About You” episode where Paul and Jaimie both get locked in the bathroom for the whole episode. Great show. What did we do before cell phones?

              2. VintageLydia*

                When my mother shattered her elbow falling off a curb at night, her phone skidded out of her reach. She could get to her keys so she set her car alarm. Still took about 20 minutes before the people she was having the meeting with heard and came out. It was a REALLY sketchy neighborhood, too. Since then, this business fixed their lights to prevent something similar happening in the future.

                I guess the moral is not to just have your phone, but have it someplace where it won’t fall out easily (in a pocket rather than a purse or briefcase.)

              3. anon..*

                never be ashamed to cry – especially when in physical pain. hell, emotional pain hurts too. crying is not a bad thing. do it if you need to.

                glad someone finally stopped. that must have be a long, long 15 minutes.

            2. LG*

              I when most of my commute was walking, I used YakTrax when it was icy out. They fit over your sneakers or boots and give you more traction.

            3. Long Time Admin*

              I live alone, so I take the phone with me into the bathroom when I shower, and leave it on the floor. If I fall, the phone will be right there. (I did fall in the bath once, pre-cell phone days.)

              And take ID with you when you go out for your walk/run/bike ride. If anything happens to you, you don’t want to be “Jane Doe”, with no emergency info.

              1. anon..*

                Great advice LTA! I too live alone and my phone is always with me (I sleep with it under my pillow). It never occurred to me that if I fall in the bathroom I wouldn’t be able to reach it. I’ll keep it on the floor now. Thanks!

    2. clobbered*

      “Don’t forget that many people lose weight purely from the pre-wedding stress (I know I did), so you might find it drops off on its own.”

      Also, don’t forget that you have found somebody who loves you and is committed to you the way you are, and that a wedding is a ceremony that merely celebrates that commitment. You don’t have to lose weight for your wedding if that is going to mean a year of stress and misery.

      If you want to lose weight fine, but it is not a requirement for matrimony.

      But anyway, if you do want to do something with limited time and energy and you can afford it, find a trainer who can help you with strength training during your weekends. It will give you energy and adding muscle mass will increase your metabolic rate – and you will make progress even with going once or twice a week.

      1. Martina*

        “Also, don’t forget that you have found somebody who loves you and is committed to you the way you are, and that a wedding is a ceremony that merely celebrates that commitment. ” Thank you. I totally agree. But, while I’m not in any way assuming this is how the OP feels, I think there’s a lot of pressure for people to look good on their wedding day since photos will be taken and all eyes are on you. Instead, I’d think of it as a lifestyle change inspired by my upcoming wedding rather than something that i’ll stop worrying about after.

        As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I’ve always had periods of no work out, so that can happen, especially when life gets busier. But it hasn’t stopped me from bouncing back up and finding a new way to exercise. I’ve also stopped worrying about what other people do because although some friends I have work out 5 days a week, it would become too habitual for me and not enjoyable. To each their own. :)

      2. Marie*

        Yes! Agreed. He already wants to marry you, right? And it would be kinda sad if that had anything to do with your current or future weight.

      3. Cindy*

        When we got married, I was very determined not to give into the Wedding Industrial Complex’s line that you have to lose weight in order to get married. I ended up so committed to this view that I gained 15 pounds and when my dress arrived it didn’t fit! Then I actually did have to work out and eat healthy for a few months.

    3. Esra*

      I picked up a machine for my apartment and it’s worked wonders. I would never go to the gym, but workout at home 3-4 times a week now.

      Since Lance Armstrong’s… unfortunate publicity, the Livestrong equipment has been going on sale all over the place and is really good quality.

  4. RE: #4*

    No harm in asking. I interned at an organization that had a good track record for hiring interns but over my 6 months there, there was a crackdown on this and my manager became responsible for contracts and instituted a number of cost-saving measures, including a hiring freeze.

    1. Alex*

      Thank you for responding to my question. As I mentioned to another poster above, I think I’ll just go with Alison’s exact phrasing and hope to not offend. That being said, I do think it is a legitimate question to ask in this economic climate. Thanks. :)

  5. Lisa*

    #3 – Let’s assume that the other woman is the person that the wife will have to go to deal with HR related matters.

    Can the wife ask to have someone else deal with her file / HR matters based on this information? How does she do this quietly, but basically rip her file out of the hands of the HR manager that could possibly also have ill-will toward the wife based on 2nd hand info gotten from the husband? I wouldn’t want to have to upset my work life by leaving, but also would like to protect myself during said divorce that could get ugly. I def wouldn’t want to talk to the HR manager again in general, but is there a way for the wife to ask that she deal with another HR person for the foreseeable future based on a conflict of interest.

    “VP and I are getting a divorce, he is also in a relationship with HR manager. I would prefer not to address HR related things with her, and would like to know whom else I can I speak to about my HR related matters in the future.”

    1. Jamie*

      Yep – her being in HR adds another layer of complication to this. Both if she stays and for references if she tries to get another position elsewhere…HR has a lot of influence in that.

      I am so sorry, OP, I can’t imagine how painful that must be and to have it bleeding all over your work as well – doubly so as there is no escape.

      One word of advice – as much as you’d love to ruin his career (and I won’t pretend I don’t understand the impulse – I’d want to ruin more than that if it were me) take the high road for the sake of your kids. I was always glad I did when it came to my ex – there are things my kids just don’t need to know. Ever. And on a practical note, ruining his career will make child support complicated and you don’t want their (the kids) standard of living to change any more than necessary.

      1. Lisa*

        I just read something about the truth about divorces, and it relates a story about how a mad ex-wife got her husband fired (he was doing something that warranted it, she just let his boss know this). Well the husband got fired and couldn’t find another job that paid as much as the one he was fired from, and this impacted her alimony and child support. The VP prob makes good money, and in this economy may not get another job like that and this would impact her and her kids in a very real way that doesn’t make sense to do.

          1. Jen M.*


            Then, go on and live an awesome life and forget all about him! (That’s the hard part, I know.)

            OP, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think the OP should absolutely speak to someone — her own manager and/or someone higher-up in HR — and discreetly explain the situation (without malice) and ask how to proceed in regard to her own HR needs, since obviously it’s not going to be an option to deal with the HR manager).

      1. jmkenrick*

        I sort of feel like revenge in this situation is unnecessary – if it came out in an office that the HR manager had an affair with the VP of engineering who was married to another employee?

        I have to imagine that even the most liberal of companies would frown on behavior like that.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, really. Eventually this WILL come out.

          I’m sorry, OP. This really sucks and your husband is a complete ass. I would kick him with my skates on for you if I could.

          1. Jill*

            I just want to encourage the OP in #3 NOT to be tempted to give up her job, no matter how awkward things might get when the word gets out. Ever notice when there’s a scandal of some kind, it’s usually the woman that slinks away to hide under a rock while the man just rides it out with no shame? Why? OP – hold your head up high, keep as much of this thing as private as you can, and hold onto your job. You shouldn’t give up your source of income in this economy to avoid the gossip mill just because of what the two of them did!

            1. Anonymouse*

              I agree with this and a few of the above comments which kind of all suggest to hold your head high and look out for your own best LONG-TERM interests and let the chips fall where they may. My hunch is that in the long-run, the situation would turn out to be even better for you than revenge if you play your cards right. I also agree that T.O.W. being the HR lady is problematic and has to be dealt with somehow. I wonder if there would be a way to phrase your HR concerns to the appropriate party indirectly but in such a way that that party figures out for him/herself what the deal is— that way the issue is brought to their attention as it pertains to your valid job-related needs but you “come off” even better because YOU are able to conduct yourself with class and professionalism even as you deal with such a painful situation being the injured party. It’s that thing of the more you seem to ASK for sympathy, the less people want to give it to you. So, I dunno, maybe you calmly say something like: “There’s a conflict of interest of a personal nature between HR Lady and I. In the interest of protecting the professional reputations of myself, my husband and HR Lady, I won’t add further detail and I’d prefer the situation to not become company knowledge as it is extremely painful. So, also in the interest of fairness and discretion for all involved, I’d like to ask that all matters relating to my personnel file and employment here be disassociated entirely from HR Lady and reassigned to someone, anyone else.” If they push you for more of an explanation, you can hint further (i.e. make them “drag it out of you”), but the key is YOU carry yourself as the proponent of discretion for all involved and if the others choose to ruin their own reputations by being indiscreet that’s THEIR doing. They probably are already doing just that. And I hate to say it, but in all likelihood their affair is, and has been, common knowledge already.

              1. Anonymouse*

                And just to add: for financial reasons, I would emphasize in that statement something like: “circumstances and the current job market being as they are, it is imperative to me that no one involved is put in the position of our jobs being put in jeopardy. And certainly not over a matter that should be kept personal. I’m requesting what I am requesting so that everyone involved retains the same ability to be judged on work merits and nothing else.”

  6. Jamie*

    #7 – I know this won’t help but with one extracurricular thing you’re already 100% more engaged in outside activity than I am.

    I have no advice as I like my little treadmill of work>sleep>house cleaning/family time.

    I feel so pathetic when I see my life in writing.

    1. KellyK*

      Yeah, but you’re not comparing like to like. You have kids and a demanding job, and your house still gets clean. That impresses the heck out of me.

  7. Brooke*

    #7: I am a working mother/single mother and I know it can be hard to find time to work out during the day. It’s even harder when you can find so many reasons that would be great excuses to not work out! ;) and I only say that because I use those “great excuses” from time to time.
    Anyway, what works best for me is I come home from work (also a 9-5 job), fix me and my 2 year old son dinner and then I relax with him for about an hour or so – I do this because not only does this give the food time to digest and settle a little bit (so that you’re not working out on a full stomach) and because it just works for me…I take that hour of playing with my son and relaxing and then I think to myself, “OK, I’ve had some down time, I can kick it into gear for 20 minutes and then I can relax again.” It’s almost like a reward system or something. I turn on my awesome Jillian Michaels 20 minute workout and push myself because I really do want to lose the weight and be fit (she does have different levels on the one that I use, I don’t know if all her DVDs are like that). Once the 20 minutes is up, I’m done for the evening. And if you think about it, 20 minutes is NOTHING out of an evening. I also didn’t have to leave home! Sometimes, my son even does it with me! It’s not about “finding” time because from the sounds of your letter, you have the time…it’s just making it a priority and WANTING to do it! If you make it a priority, you will make time for it.

    Also, just as some encouragement…The first couple nights are going to be tough, but working out is seriously addicting. I’ve also found for me personally, it gives me more energy every day than I had when I wasn’t working out!

    1. anon*

      I agree with this–working out is about creating a routine where exercise is a priority and finding the best schedule that works for you. The best schedule is the one that makes it hard to make excuses to get out of it. For me, working out in the morning is best. If I procrastinate until the evening, it’s easy for me to keep pushing it off until later, then it doesn’t get done. I either run or do exercise videos (I love Jillian Michaels!), where there is no extra effort besides putting on some workout clothes and either stepping out the door or pushing play on the DVD player.

  8. Soni*

    #7 – You may want to look into HIIT (high intensity interval training), specifically Tabata protocol workouts: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/tabata.htm. They are literally 4 minutes long (plus a brief warmup and cooldown), but they are very effective at shedding fat assuming your diet is supporting that goal in terms of both calorie count and macronutrient balance (proteins, carbs, fats, etc). My suggestion would be to create a Tabata workout you can do at your apt gym (the standard is high-intensity stationary bike, because you can’t hurt yourself with too much if you start flailing at the end – you just slow down), then start packing a high-energy snack to eat about half an hour before you leave for work (I suggest a small protein bar with at least 9 grams of protein and maybe a cup of coffee for a temporary energy boost). Drive home (gives you another 50 minutes to digest), go straight to the gym, do your Tabata, go make dinner. Boom, you’re done. One thing to remember is that going full out during the work intervals is key – if you don’t wish you were dead by the last few intervals, you’re not doing it right. So make sure you’re up to this level of activity, medically speaking, before trying it and maybe spend a week or two ramping up to full intensity to avoid “intensity shock” injuries.

    1. BeenThere*

      Oh yes husband and I were doing HIIT for awhile together, it is really effective however you do need to be careful to make sure you don’t injure yourself. Make sure you have correct form before going hardcore and busting out 60 burpees in 30 secs.

          1. Jamie*

            Okay – everyone is being way too nice to me today.

            Am I dying and you guys don’t know how to tell me? Ha.

        1. BW*

          I had a high school teacher who assigned it in class. This was back before the movie came out. The book was way better than the movie.

  9. Anonymous*

    #7 – I’ve found it’s easiest to have control over the early part of the day so I’ve become an early riser (5-5:30AM). I get to work early – 7:30 – and leave work by 4:30 as often as I can, probably 85% of the time. That gives me a good chunk of time after work and I work out 5 days/week, for about 40 minutes. I treat this as an appt – I need to leave work because I have something to do that’s important to me. I don’t view it as something I’ll do if I have time, I view it as something I will be doing so I need to get there, on time, and do it. My job allows for me to put in 9 hours a day and leave most days, I don’t know if your job will do that.

    I think though, when it comes to working out, it’s a mindset – once you have that, it;s just the details of when and how. It’s deciding to treat it as an important appointment rather than a maybe.

    1. Sus*

      I have to agree.

      #7, I never, ever thought I could get up early and exercise in the morning, but once I tried it, I discovered how much I really enjoy it, and the alone time is nice too. Even if it’s just 20 minutes of exercise, I feel so much better about myself afterward.

    2. jesicka309*

      Yes! I used to get up at 6.20 to get ready for work. One day I was feeling particularly blobby, so I said to myself, you know what? I don’t need 20 min extra sleep. I’m going for a run instead. As long as I’m in the shower by 6.30, I’m sweet.
      Your body does adjust, I swear. It hurts running in the morning, but when I would find time on a weekend to run, my body hurt so much less.
      Make sure you’re planned before you go to bed, and get up 15 minutes earlier. Even if you ride a stationary bike, or do sprints up and down the street, spend that 15 minutes doing something. Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly lazy, I do push ups and sit ups in my living room while I’m still in my jammies – no effort (or dressing) required.
      I’d find any excuse to ditch gym of an evening, but dammit, if my alarm has gone off at 6 am, and I am awake, I might as well do something. Your bladder becomes helpful too. 6.01 is toilet time, and it generally won’t let me sleep in too late after that!
      OP I’d give mornings a try. You never know, you might enjoy it! It’s so peaceful that time of the morning.

  10. Colette*

    #7 – Working out will probably give you more energy in the long run. You need to decide if it’s a priority for you. If it is, that means you buy the gym membership & work out at lunch or have a snack after work and then go to the gym before dinner or make a point of walking every day (either at lunch or in the evenings) or make whatever adjustments you need to make so that it happens. There are always tons of excuses readily available – you need to decide if you are a person who works out and, if so, do it.

    I would suggest that you make sure your focus is on the benefits of exercise (e.g. more energy, getting stronger, can walk up three flights of stairs & carry out a conversation) rather than motivating yourself with the number on the scale.

    As far as the general lack of time, activities (including lying on the couch) expand to take up the available time. I find that if I have a lot to do, I’ll get all or most of it done – if I don’t, the time just disappears.

  11. Anonymous*

    Is there anything you could do at work? Take your break and go for a little walk around the building/skyway/neighborhood.
    Another thing that helps is figure out what kind of snack can be quick an easy and not leave you feeling starving when you get home (I really like nuts/dried fruit trail mix thing for this), just have a little bit of it like right when you leave work (since you have a 50 minute commute) and then go right to the gym. When I do manage to succeed at this I find that if I set out my gym clothes in the morning and basically never leave the entry area of my apartment. Once I go in and sit down the jig is up. But if I grab my stuff change, go, and don’t stop. Then I can make it.
    It also helps to do food that can be ready so crockpot stuff, something that will take a long time in the oven or something that is super quick when you get back from the gym.
    Good luck finding more balance. (And you definitely don’t need to do something all the time. Just do things that you consider a priority in your life.)

  12. Jamie*

    #6 – I would strongly advice against mentioning your ADHD specifically. There are plenty of people who don’t believe it’s a real thing, so it will hurt you with them. And it will hurt you more with someone like me who has ADD, has three kids with ADD/ADHD, and ex husband with ADH- can’t sit still ever-D and I know it’s a real thing…and if someone was saying that to excuse the behaviors you described in your letter that would really bother me.

    ADD can be a challenge, but channeled correctly it can be a benefit. Granted, I don’t know anything about how depression fits in here – but ADHD and I’m not talking about mild cases – isn’t a reason for what you describe unless you allow it to be completely uncontrolled without attempts to mitigate the issues. But if you use it as an excuse/reason it can paint a lot of people who also have it and still manage to be high performing with that brush and can influence negatively people who don’t know better.

    It’s like when my kids were small and some parents would explain wild and out of control behavior on an ADHD diagnosis. Well – mine had the same and I never had behavioral issues with any of them since I took their differences with energy and attention into account.

    Pet peeve of mine – but there’s still a stigma with this that shouldn’t be there…having to disclose Ritalin or Adderal for a drug test can give a lot of us pause – wondering if people have mistaken notions.

    I’ve worked non-medicated more than medicated and it’s not a reason for being late, unproductive, or quitting out of boredom.

    I know I will come off as unsympathetic again – and I’m really not because I know the challenges – but I have first hand experience all over the place with this and it’s just my opinion.

    1. Victoria HR*

      What I am garnering from the letter is that the OP’s ADHD wasn’t diagnosed until after he/she had already been fired from several jobs. Obviously if he/she didn’t know that it was a medical problem that could be corrected… I agree with you, though, that the specific problem shouldn’t be mentioned.

      1. Jamie*

        That’s a good point – and my comment reads much harsher than I intended. My apologies to the OP – I was trying to over-explain an issue I get very soapboxy about, and it reads angry even to me and I know I wasn’t mad.

        It’s a fine line between giving a reason and making an excuse, in so many instances, and when the line is blurred in this area there is a lot of collateral damage to other people with the same diagnosis.

        But the OP is addressing the issue now and it was a valid question – that’s what’s important. I lost sight of that in making my point.

        1. BW*

          I work unmedicated for ADHD as well, and I get by but it’s s struggle and I have a ton of things I do to help keep me on track in terms of appointments and showing up on time and keeping on track and sometimes my brain still trips me up. I’m to the point where I’m considering sucking it up and going through the evals I need to get that treated as well, because it seems to be catching up with me the more responsibility I take on to advance my career.

          I never did graduate high school, and untreated severe depression made it impossible to work much. I can get by with depression under control, but without that forget it! I am totally farked! The fact that he knows this and is getting treatment tells me he sees it as a reason and not an excuse. people who make excuses keep doing the same things over again without trying to change it.

        2. LW6*

          Hey, no worries, harsh but true. Victoria HR is correct that I was only diagnosed after having years of these issues and being fired from jobs.

          It’s hard to really see where exactly the ADHD-specific problems end and the depression-specific problems begin, and of course there’s also the fact that having these issues and not knowing that they are caused by an actual diagnosable condition really enforced my self-perception as a lazy, careless person… which really didn’t help me learn to build good habits. So there’s that too, which is not directly an ADHD or depression symptom obviously, but it is indirectly a result of living undiagnosed for many years.

          1. Jamie*

            Those light bulb moments are really healing – having a name for something and a course of action is one of the most empowering things ever. As is knowing that other people struggle with the same stuff – and everyone else isn’t living in some kind of easy button utopia.

            Don’t lose sight of the upside of ADD though. Hyperfocus – which is part of the package for most of us – can channel into some serious over achievement and we make it look easy. That’s what I call the superpower and the bonus is medication just makes it easier to channel…it doesn’t dull it.

            It sounds like you have a handle on this – good luck and I hope you find something great.

          2. Your Mileage May Vary*

            It’s hard to really see where exactly the ADHD-specific problems end and the depression-specific problems begin…

            Ask your therapist to point these things out in your sessions when you are talking about what you’ve done the last week. As you get more familiar with your diagnoses and how they manifest in you, you’ll find it easier to know when to go a bit easier on yourself or step up your self-care routine. Both these diagnoses can kick your butt if you don’t know how to manage them in a way that works for you. I’m glad you know what it is you’re dealing with and you sound like you’re getting a handle on it, which will be so helpful to you.

  13. Anon*

    Re: 7

    I do very short workouts-about 30-40 minutes apiece. I have a dance DVD, some days, I’ll do 20 minutes cardio and ten of strength (chair dips, pushups, etc), and I do a yoga class close to where I live, once a week and reasonably priced, where a few of my friends go as well (so I fit social time in). I also am getting married this year and am involved with singing groups, so I understand being busy! Getting in the habit of doing something is good.

    Another piece of advice would be to bring a small snack for the end of the day to eat right before I get home. That way, I’m not too full but not starving and can work out comfortably. I’m assuming fiance lives with you, so maybe a couple nights, he can prepare a quick and easy meal while you take some time at the gym or you both can work out together.

    It’s hard but definitely possible!

  14. Katharina*

    Yay for a wedding related question!
    #7 It sounds like your wish to lose weight and the wedding are somewhat related. If I were in your shoes, I would probably plan my wedding at my current weight and focus on mid to long term goals for my weight loss rather than trying to losing weight for one specific day. I would then think about which kind of physical activity I enjoy and try to incorporate it in my schedule once a week rather than focussing on activities that will lead to quick weight loss (running on a treadmill bores me and can’t get me motivated at all). May be you like to go dancing (with your fiancé?) or swimming, may be the gym near work offers classes that you love, or what about team sports? I personally cycle to work and found a great course called “spinal exercises” at my local gym that I just looove going to. Of course it helps that the gym has a sauna…
    May be it would also help to find a colleague or friend to go with, it’s more fun like that. My boyfriend and I attended cooking classes together and enjoyed them (and we are both couch potatoes).
    Good luck OP!

    1. moss*

      I totally agree with this. Fitness should be part of an overall life strategy. Pushing yourself to lose weight for your wedding just means you will be even more stressed out over the wedding planning.

    2. KellyK*

      Totally agree with not trying to “lose weight for your wedding.” Your fiancee is marrying you as you are right now, not a hypothetical skinny you. And exercise is a lot easier to prioritize when you’re doing it because it helps you feel better rather than doing it to try to make yourself look a certain way.

  15. AnotherAlison*

    #7- I’m a working mom, 2 kids, husband runs a business & I do find time to work out, most of the time. I don’t squeeze in playing an instrument, though, so good for you for keeping that up!

    What works best for me is having something I’m committed to with other people. I go to a bootcamp class at the gym at 6-7 am 3 days a week. If you don’t show up, the instructor will send you emails. Last year, I did it in the evenings, but mornings have fewer conflicts. I’ve also been in a marathon training group & running club in the past, and that helps me get out of bed at 5 am on Saturdays. Even if you don’t have friends who sign up with you, you get to know people in these things & that makes it more fun. I am never really looking forward to working out, but if I can get there, I put in a lot of effort and am glad I went.

    1. Piper*

      I second all of this. Scheduling workouts with other people makes you more inclined to keep them. I’ve also done bootcamps and other classes (barre, yoga, pilates, etc) with friends and I’ve trained with a marathon group and joined a local running group. It makes it so much easier to get up early on a weekend or to get off my butt in the evenings after work when I know there are at least 20 other people doing it with me.

  16. Victoria HR*

    I am also hypothyroid and the doctors say that my TSH levels are “perfect” on meds, which is depressing because I’m still so exhausted all the time. I also struggle with trying to find time to exercise. I have 2 small children and a 9-5 also, and it doesn’t get easier LOL .. but with a strong partner who shoulders half of the family burden, it can be done with good routines.

    Could you invest in a Wii and play some fitness games on WiiFit? I like the yoga and it’s fun to play bowling or tennis with my husband after the kids are in bed.

    1. KellyK*

      My understanding is that TSH levels, like a lot of things, are not one-size-fits-all. “Perfect” levels are perfect for some hypothetical average person. I was really really symptomatic (always tired, never warm, weight skyrocketing) at a TSH level my last doc described as subclinical, but when I got on meds, those issues cleared up.

  17. Sascha*

    My suggestion – hooping. I took up hooping a couple of years ago on my own, no need for classes or a gym membership. There are a myriad of hooping resources with lots of free information – you can get a nice adult-sized hoop for about $40-50. About 15 minutes a day of just waist hooping can be great exercise, and you can do it at home whenever you want – just turn on some music and go. I’d start with hooping.org for some resources. Also, waist hooping feels kind of like a tummy/lower back massage and it’s great for your lower back at the end of the work day.

    Like you, I don’t like to work out on a full stomach, so perhaps you can have a small snack when you get home, or in the last hour of work. Something like a few crackers and a cheese stick or an apple. It’s just enough so you can exercise when you get home but don’t feel like vomiting.

    1. Your Mileage May Vary*

      I am intrigued by hooping. Do you think it’s good exercise for someone with back problems? I’m hoping you say that it strengthens core muscles, etc. and will likely help the back.

  18. bearing*

    #7 –
    Exercise is a worthy habit even if you don’t lose weight. There are lots of reasons to give it a try. For you, two good reasons may be
    1 – it may increase your energy for daily tasks
    2 – it is something that you CAN take control of and succeed at, when you find the right combo. Words cannot express how empowering that feels when you make it happen. I have been there.

    I echo those who say don’t bite off more than you can chew. Go for an initial step of a single short session every day, or a medium session twice a week, depending on the frequency with which you can access – as for me, I took up swimming when I first started, and I started with 20 minutes (plus shower/change/travel time to the gym) 2x per week. I kept up that same simple schedule for 6 months and it was life-changing. You don’t have to ramp it up fast.

    Anyway, 20 min twice a week is a good start. Eventually you can add more minutes, or more intensity, or another session. But if you are doing something like a lunchtime walk, 5 minutes every day would be a similar good start, with intention to ramp it up.

    Second. I don’t know if you can afford the gym membership or not; you did not say. But the existence of a gym in your apartment building does not actually put up a barrier against your getting a membership elsewhere. If you can afford a gym membership, you absolutely CAN justify one even if you have access to a different gym. A gym you don’t use is worthless. Besides, YMCAs and other gyms have tons of perks your apartment complex doesn’t, like classes, a swimming pool, personal trainers, etc. Consider getting a trial membership at one near your work, and find out whether you can “justify” the extra expense, rather than just assuming you can’t [assuming that you do have the money – I don’t mean to bash you if the issue is that you don’t, but it sounded from your comment that you just felt bad about spending the money when you “ought” to be using the free gym at your apartment building.]

    1. Leigh*

      I want to second this. My husband is a personal trainer and we have a ton of exercise equipment at home, but I keep a gym membership at the gym near my work because the only time I have to work out during the week is on my lunch hour. It’s the best $28 I spend each month–even though some days it’s hard to convince myself to get out of the office, I feel so, SO much better when I exercise and it’s always worth the effort. I also second the advice you’ve been given on eating a healthy snack in the afternoon; for me that sometimes makes a huge difference in how much energy I have once I get home.

      As for your question about how people with kids do it: you just . . . do. You figure out how to do what needs to be done and learn to let some things go a bit (my Christmas tree is still up!) and you just manage it, one day at a time. My life will never be Pinterest-perfect, but whose is, really?!

  19. Sys Analyst*

    Regarding #7 – Try to eat a little snack before leaving work to help tide you over until having a full dinner.

    Also, just start off trying to do a small bit of exercise. I have an elliptical at home and get on for 20 minutes 3-4 times a week. I like to watch TV/movies on my ipad while working out and I find that helps me get motivated.

    Or try a workout DVD. The Jillian Michaels ones are tough, but effective.

    I’m married, no kids and not many activities outside of work, but I felt like you for a while where it seemed like I never had time to work out. Part of it is really just making the time to do it. Also, maybe get a reward for yourself when you meet a goal. Maybe a massgage, piece of clothing, etc. Good luck!

  20. Anon*

    #4 be careful on how you handle this. We don’t have internships, but we do have part-time positions. They are minimum wage and have no room for advancement. We do have a lot of professional staff, and sometimes candidates see these part-time positions as a foot in the door, when they are not. We clearly explain this to people over the phone before we schedule an interview, so they have an opportunity before they come in to decide if it’s worth their while to come in.

    The most frustrating thing is when candidate ignores all the previous conversations. We had someone recently who within 5 minutes of starting the interview was asking about how soon the part-time job would lead to full-time professional employment. And then was combative when told that there was no room for advancement. “But people have to leave at some point,” she argued. Actually, they really don’t, we have people who have worked here for decades. And when they do retire, we often don’t have the budget to replace them.

    Don’t be that person.

    1. Natalie*

      It’s really great that you’re honest with the possibility of advancement in these positions. I’ve had that conversation with the sort of employer who was honest (saved us both a lot of time and upset) and an employer who was clearly hedging without actually lying. The first employer definitely endeared themselves to me.

    2. Alex*

      Thank you very much for your reply! I contacted Alison to ask #4. I have an interview next week, and don’t want to seem ungrateful for just that, or like I’m jumping ahead of myself–and understandably, both can count against a candidate. I think I’ll just use the exact phrasing as she has outlined, and pray I do not offend anyone! Thanks again.

  21. Tiff*

    #3 – I’m so sorry about your situation. I don’t know if you’re in any kind of counseling, but I think it would be a a good idea. That is an extremely toxic position to be in, make sure you take care of yourself.

    #7 – Check with your doctor about the energy levels. I work full time, hubby works opposite shift, and we have 2 year old twins. I wish I could write off my gym membership as a charitable donation right about now.

  22. LMW*

    #3 I’ve had this discussion with a lot of woman in the 28-32 year old range lately (mostly in marketing/comms/publishing etc.). It seems that this is the age where you’re ready to take the next step in your career, and you have the experience required, but it’s hard to convince people to see it. I don’t know why that is, but I’ve been noticing it a lot lately. I experienced it at my last job – suddenly it was like I was 3-5 years younger than I am. But once you get over the hump, it gets a lot easier (at least, that’s what I’ve been hearing from the women a few years older than me!).
    #7 I started working out regularly a few years ago, and it really is just making the commitment to do it, no matter how painful or inconvenient it might be. When I started, I’d run after work, three days a week. I couldn’t afford a gym membership, so when it got to the dark and cold time of year, I’d make a lot of excuses not to do it (it’s dark, it’s slippery, it’s cold, I can’t do an aerobics video because it would be rude to the neighbor who lives below me, etc.). Gained all the weight back. So I started again, and redid my budget so I could afford a gym membership (I gave up cable and joined the Y because it was cheaper). And I went in the morning, which is painful, but fits into my schedule better. There are definitely some mornings I don’t want to get up, but if you aren’t willing to make room in your life for it, it won’t happen.

    1. Frances*

      This is *exactly* where I am right now (I’m 32). We’re facing some pending administrative restructuring (in a good way, they are actually hoping to add a couple of positions) and though my direct supervisor is very supportive about getting me more challenging responsibilities, there’s a subtle resistance from other coworkers that seems almost entirely based on a perception that I’m not experienced enough in a general sense (even though I’ve worked at the company for 8 years, though not in this department). I feel a little better knowing that it isn’t just me!

  23. moss*

    How to fit in a workout with kids? Workouts are better with kids! Free child care… some time to oneself…and more energy for the chasing!

    Your big problem, OP, is your 50 minute commute. That will suck the life out of anyone.

    I love to work out… I go to a really good Zumba class and then fit in some walking and weights on the other days. Group exercise classes are fun!

    1. Jamie*

      One of my coolest and weirdest jobs which wasn’t really a job was providing childcare for Jazzercize classes.

      My eldest was 1 (he’s 22 now – so this was some time ago) and it was a couple of hours three times a week and it was like a play date for my baby, who I brought with me, and it paid some ridiculous hourly rate in 1991, because it was only 6 hours a week – and I got free nighttime classes when my husband was home with our son.

      That was an awesome part time gig for a new mom, new to the area.

      Just some spending money, but that was a really fun job. I haven’t thought about that in years.

      1. moss*

        I worked at a church nursery when my son was little (he would stay in the nursery with me) and it was awesome! I was a single mom with a lot of worries and it got me out of the house on the weekends, I got to spend time interacting with my son and see him interact with other kids and grownups, and it gave me a little spending cash as well.

  24. mozandeffect*

    #6: Alison is right. Be vague and stay positive, explaining that you have gotten past the previous health issues. DO NOT specify you have ADHD or depression. It will only hurt you. I have only ever disclosed health issues when absolutely necessary. For example, I had to explain why I was asking for FMLA when a particularly nosy boss demanded to know why I was in the hospital, and even then, that wasn’t great…he ended up blabbing the condition to the whole department :(

    #7: start off small and take baby steps! Like you, I have a chronic illness and fatigue is part of my everyday life. But I try to fit in at least a half hour – preferably an hour! – of a walk/run around the neighborhood after I get home from work, and more on the weekends when I have more time. Walking is a good, low-impact exercise that you can ramp up with weights (hand held or strapped to your legs) and increased speed if your body will tolerate it. I also have the benefit of hills in my neighborhood, so when I’m feeling especially Olympic, I can try for a harder course, but can go for something less strenuous if my joints are hurting. An mp3 player with an audiobook or songs you like will make the time go by that much faster.

    If you don’t live somewhere leafy and nice to walk around, try the mall – which is what I do when the summer months hit and it’s too hot to walk outside – or an elliptical or treadmill in your house that others have suggested. The point is, set yourself small goals that are achievable. This will encourage you to keep going. At age 12 I was told by doctors that I wasn’t going to have a normal life, but I have fought that whenever I can and consider myself in pretty decent shape for the illness I have. Stay positive and good luck!

  25. Jubilance*

    #7 – you say you can’t go to the gym during lunch but can you do anything active, like a walk? Just walking regularly will help a lot. Also I echo the suggestion of an afternoon snack, something light so that you won’t be famished & you can get home & immediate get a workout in before you actually have dinner.

  26. Anne*


    I hated the idea of going to the gym in the morning too. I’ve found, though, that if you just go do it before your brain wakes up enough to realize what’s happening, it actually makes the rest of the day a lot easier.

    1. Jamie*

      This is the same logic I use for scheduling dental appointments at 6:00 AM. I absolutely will talk myself out of it and cancel if it’s not done before I’m fully awake.

      1. BW*

        Anticipating a dental appointment first thing in the morning would only inspire me to scrunch further down under the blankets and stay there.

        1. Jamie*

          Admittedly I’m like a four year old and my husband has to cajole me to get me in the car – but there is something to be said about being done by 7:00 and not having to burn any PTO to do it.

          My excuse is I’m grown up in other ways – when it comes to food and dental stuff he’s accepted my stunted growth.

  27. Natalie*

    #7, I hope your desire to lose weight is about your wants and needs, and not about feeling like you “need to diet” for your wedding. If you’re feeling the pressure of the wedding diet, you might want to check out some of the beautiful and, more importantly, happy and radiant plus-sized brides at Offbeat Bride: http://offbeatbride.com/tag/plus-size

    Weight aside, getting more movement into your life will be a benefit to you, both physically and mentally. This is a cliche, because it happens to be true – you have to pick an activity you like. My friends who like competitive sports don’t go to the gym – they are on kickball teams or play pickup basketball games in the park. I like cycling and yoga, two activities that don’t require a gym (although I do go). Some people turn the music up loud and clean their house at a fast pace.

    What do you like – dancing? running? boxing? roller-skating? roller derby, AKA boxing and roller-skating together at last?

    If you have decided you want to lose weight generally, don’t neglect the other half of the weight equation, your diet. This does *not* mean any sort of thing sold as a “diet” (atkins, south beach, all letter or color-based rules). Deciding to never ever eat Food or Category X is almost always a recipe for failure. Try one of the food tracking apps available for smartphones. Once you get the hang of it you will see you can eat all of the delicious things that exist and still have a calories deficit.

  28. Josh S*

    #2: Older than you look —

    When I was in my first job in a benefits call center as a freshly-minted 21-year old college grad, I looked about 18. I worked my butt off, put in long hours, stood out, and quickly got promoted to a supervisor level. Some of the people I supervised, particularly (but certainly not exclusively) older ones, resented my youth were noticeably reluctant to listen to the ‘young guy.’

    I grew a beard/goatee. All of a sudden, started getting some respect, especially as turnover and seasonal busy times brought in a bunch of new folks. A couple of my friends who were newer on the team and hadn’t seen me clean-shaven said they thought I was 30ish, despite the fact I was 22 at the time. I thought it was hilarious at the time.

    But my point is this: Perhaps you could grow a (well-groomed, tasteful) beard while you’re interviewing?

    1. Josh S*

      Assuming you’re a guy…which there’s no evidence either way. I have no idea what to do if you’re a gal.

      1. Sarah*

        I’ve heard this advice before! I’m a woman, so it doesn’t apply. You can wear make-up and have nicely styled hair in a “mature” style, but even that may not help enough. Plus, then you have to have a “mature” haircut in your real life. :)

    2. #2 Poster*

      Thanks. Yeah, I try growing out my facial hair a bit but it’s so patchy it looks bad after about 3 days of no shaving. Oh well… At least my wife looks young, too, so we don’t look mismatched!

      1. PEBCAK*

        What about eyeglasses? I feel like that’s another thing that can vastly change someone’s appearance in a jiffy.

      2. Anonymous*

        Maybe experiment with hairstyle? Most guys I know look younger with a shorter cut, so maybe grow it out more?

  29. BW*

    #3. Ew. Wanting being angry and wanting revenge is understandable. From a practical standpoint, damaging your ex’s career will affect what he’s able to provide in monetary child support. It’s in your and your children’s best interest for him to stay in a successful career.

    You have no control over what he or his lover do or where they work. If you want to get away from the awkwardness though. you might want to consider looking for a job at another company. That hardly seems fair, but in the long run it may be better for your sanity if continuing to work at the same company, especially with his lover in HR, is going to create too much drama and feelings of squickiness and resentment.

  30. Sarah*

    I am not a morning person, but I’ll run in the mornings if that is the only time I have. i never regret it.

    It helps to have a friend to go with you. Eat a snack instead of a meal, either at work late in the day or right when you get home. Once you have a full meal, you are done for!

    I personally don’t like working out on lunch hour (don’t you just have to get ready for the day all over again??)

    Start small. I found working out gives me more energy in the long run, as does eating the right amount of moderately healthy foods. So if you start, I think it will be easier to continue. I’m no health nut, but nothing makes me more zonked after work than a food coma from a larger or richer than usual meal.

    I too enjoy a lot of alone / downtime. I make up for this by avoiding over-scheduling my weekends, always taking Monday nights off from work outs, and actually, if you put on music, podcasts, or an audiobook, working out can be relaxing alone time as well

    Most importantly, try to find something you like. Some people like fitness classes, some people like workout DVDs, others prefer running… there is probably SOMETHING you will like.

    1. Sarah*

      Also – the most important thing specifically for weight loss is diet, not exercise. Excercises is great for all sorts of reasons (and you can eat more), but if your primary goal is to lose weight, you may want to focus on calorie counting (or diet method of your choice, discussed with a doctor)

    2. The IT Manager*

      I personally don’t like working out on lunch hour (don’t you just have to get ready for the day all over again??)

      I just want to echo this. If the OP honestly thinks she can work out at lunch, it’s worth paying for a nearby membership, but I simply can’t.

      I sweat when I workout and need to shower afterwards. Even if the locker room and gym/workout location were right next door to my office, I’d need at least 5 minutes to change into workout clothes and 35 minutes to shower and cleanup afterwards. I am simply not fast in the shower and as a woman I need to blowup my hair a little and put on a little makeup. And I live in the south so a lot of times after a hot and sweaty workout I need to drop my body temp a bit before I put back on my work clothes if I don’t want to continue sweating in them. The gym has never been as convenient as that so I have never been able to squeeze a workout in in an hour lunch. (Guys win that battle because of short hair and no makeup. They often don’t use separate shampoo, face soap, and body soap in th shower either.)

  31. Susan*

    #7 – Others have given great advice on working out, but I’d like to also suggest focusing back on your diet. Losing weight really is 80% nutrition, and your condition makes it harder, no doubt. Maybe see if you could work with a dietician?

  32. BW*

    #6 – That is what I did back in the day before I had a consistent work history and people would ask – dealing with health issues. People will not ask you to elaborate beyond that. I have had severe depression, anxiety and other things that kept me dependent on disability payments for 10 years before I could hold a steady full time job that paid me enough to support myself. This truly is a medical and health issue, not just a mental one or a matter failing to suck it up and forge ahead.

  33. Anonymous*

    For #7, hypothyroidism sucks. I sympathize.

    One thing that might be useful is to think of your day in terms of spoon theory: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

    It’s not helpful to compare yourself to people who aren’t sick, who don’t have to do the mental juggling of, if I do X, I’m going to be too tired to do Y.

    Also, I agree with the JohnQPublic’s comment that a gym that costs money but that you can actually use is better than a free one that you don’t have time/energy for when you have access to it. (Though I’m not a fan of the “it’s an excuse” framing.)

    It might also help to make sure you’re getting the full benefit of your meds (waiting before eating, avoiding calcium and iron when you take them).

    Another thing is to avoid letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. If you feel like you “should” go to the gym for an hour, but that’s too much to face after a long day of work, it’s easy to end up doing nothing and feeling guilty. It’s better to do what you can, say, take a 20-minute walk, than to set high expectations that just become a source of anxiety or guilt.

    An afternoon snack is probably also a good idea. I tend to need a little something in my stomach to work out, but don’t want to work out after a full meal.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      +1 for posting the spoon theory article. I was struggling to remember the title of it. I too am hypothyroid and while it’s controlled pretty well with medication, there are some days where I just have nothing left in my spoon.

    2. Jen M.*

      Yes! I have fibro, and Spoon Theory is really helpful, not only in terms of picking and choosing my activities, but for explaining to other people what I’m coping with.

      I will often state that I’m “counting spoons” to plan my day, and people around me get it.

  34. Anonymous*

    #7 – I know this may not be helpful to you and I say this as a person who goes to the gym usually 6 days per week, but I wasn’t always this way by any stretch and this is what helped me: You can sit there and think about how you need to go to the gym, and then a couple of hours later you’re thinking again about how you need to go to the gym, etc. . . Meanwhile, by this point if you had gotten off your duff when the thought first popped into your head you would have been out and back by now and done with it for the day. Just. Do. It. Once you truly make fitness a part of your lifestyle motivation isn’t even a factor in the equation.

  35. The IT Manager*

    LW#7 – The other things to do is take a hard look at how you spend your evenings. With my current job and commute, I have very little time in the evening – only about 4 hours and that includes dinner prep and cleanup. Unfortunately I find those 4 hours can vanish quickly if I get involved with the TV or internet. If I want to do anything housework, workout, or fun, I have to consciously avoid getting sucked in for too long. But I am an introvert and do like to unwind by reading, watching particular TV shows, and keeping up on particular internet sites, so I generally plan to not make plans weekday evenings. If between sleep, work, commute, orchestra, and time with your fiancee, you end up close to 24 hours, you may not have time for much else on workdays as well.

    I will echo what others said, though. Working out in the morning is easier for me even though I am not a morning person. If I can get up, there’s no excuse not to workout. In the evenings, I’m tired, hungry, should clean up from dinner, get sucked into the TV or internet.

    For me, it’s much better to cook enough food for the week on the weekends. If don’t have something healthy ready that I can quickly warm up, I’m likely to eat junk instead of healthier stuff I make.

    1. The IT Manager*

      There are other, harder changes you could consider making. Your 50 minute (or longer perhaps) commute essentially sucks two hours out of your day that you could be working out or doing something else. You could move or change jobs – not easy I know, but that could make a big difference. Consider this if you and your fiancee are moving after you get married.

      In a lot of ways my work-life balence was better when I was in the Air Force because I always moved to a town knowing exactly where I was going to work and I found a home that provided a short commute. In fact, a short commute was my highest concern when house hunting.

      The military also allowed me time to work out during the duty day for an hour. I usually did it first thing in the morning or at the end of the work day – arriving a bit late to work or leaving a little early since I was never good a squeezing in a work out during an hour lunch break.

      Now I have a 45min – hour commute because the job I found after I got out was not near the house I already owned, and I can’t workout during work hours. Those two perks made a **HUGE** difference in my life and I am working on ways to at least shorten my commute to get that lost time back.

      * Obviously excludes time I spend deployed.

  36. Liz T*

    When I can’t get motivated to go to the gym, I give myself permission to do a really terrible workout. If I do 10 minutes on the elliptical, then hit the sauna or just go home, that’s fine. Seriously–I tell myself I don’t have to do much more than tag the gym and yell “safe!” This gets me up and out–and usually turns into a little more than 10 minutes. Even when it doesn’t though, it helps keep up the habit of going, which is REALLY important.

    Plus, even 10 minutes make me feel so much better. I suffer from mild depression and there’s nothing worse than sitting on the couch beating myself up for not doing anything. Getting out of the house and sweating even a few drops makes me feel much better about myself–which encourages me to do more.

    1. Katharina*

      Love this suggestion! It works wonders, not just with exercise but anything I fear or dislike doing.

    2. LW6*

      That’s a great point! I also find that often when I get there and I tell myself that I’m only going to do 10 minutes, I start feeling a bit more into it, so when my “mandatory” 10 minutes is up, I end up staying for another 20. Not always, of course, but more often than not.

    3. Laura L*

      Same here! I’m a runner and am trying to get more serious about it, but felt I didn’t have the time.

      Then I got an email from Runner’s World talking about the 1 mile challenge. They challenged their readers to run 1 mile every day during the holiday season.

      It’s great, because 1 mile is very doable for me and if I’m feeling good and have time, I can go farther. If not, I still got some exercise!

  37. Rob Bird*

    #7-Hi, my name is Rob and I am selfish. Let me qaulify that statement; I am a very caring and loving father of 3. I have been with my girlfriend for 16 years now. I am in a career (not a job) whtt I truely love and give of myself every day to anyone I meet to try to help them.

    I am selfish

    I say that because from 6:30 in the morning until 9:00 at night, my hours are filled with my career and my family. That leaves me 9.5 hours for sleep and for me. I think I am pretty important so I have time set aside for me and me alone. I use that time to either work out, play video games, grab my gear and go shooting, read AAM (Hi!!!) go to a hockey game or (if the weather cooperates) hit the water at 5:00 am to go water skiing.

    Point is, you need to be selfish. You need to do something, and do it often. It sounds like you are in a rut. So be selfish and do something you want to do.

  38. JLL*

    #3- Unfortunately, I know how you feel. But this is chess, not checkers. Putting yourself in a position where you are dealing emotionally with the end of your marriage PLUS suddenly needing to provide the bulk of financial support because you’ve gotten your soon-to-be-ex fired is not going to make you any happier. And that’s not going to make you a better parent either. “Mom tried to ruin Dad’s life” is not what you want your children to recall about this time in their lives. And because you all work for the same company, who knows what the political fallout could be professionally. I think the advice to quietly move on would be a wise one. And maybe look for another organization where you don’t have to interact with them. This may feel like “losing,” but in the long run, I promise it is a win.

    #7- I’m hypo as well- if you’re still feeling a great deal of fatigue, maybe you should talk to your endocrinologist, because maybe you have a compound situation happening. I found out about my thyroid…and because of blood tests, found out I’m anemic too, and that was affecting my energy levels as well(I was at the point of randomly passing out, so…yeah.) You cannot find anyone who likes being awake in the morning less. BUT… I found out that when I got up early to work out, my energy level was so much better throughout the day, and combined with a healthy (ish) diet, it really helped. I had to draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag myself out of bed, but it really was worth it once I got done and felt wide awake and refreshed.

  39. Ann*

    #2 I have the same problem. It is frustrating beyond belief. I’m turning 30 this year, and I still get carded for nail polish remover and lottery tickets (you have to be 18 to purchase them).
    I’ve run up against that sort of commentary and feedback when going on interviews. I have a proven track record, and a background that shows the type of work I’ve handled and the level of people I’m currently used to working with. At one point in an interview I just got done talking about how I’d coordinated the travel of and a meeting with a foreign Prime Minister, and the interviewer was voicing her concerns over how comfortable I would be working with upper level management. They needed someone who would be comfortable talking to CEO’s. I have people who look at my resume and are simply gushing on phone interviews over my level of experience. Then they meet me, and suddenly they’re worried about my age. I dress appropriately; I have a “normal” haircut (not long hair as it tends to make me look even younger); I wear conservative amounts and colors of make up.

    1. #2 Poster*

      People ALWAYS say “You’ll appreciate it when you’re older”. Perhaps we will, but it offers no help when you are trying to build your business, make professional contacts, and gain respect.

      1. Ann*

        Oooo.. I hate that! At what point will I start to appreciate it? I have no plans on being a future cougar.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          35, in my experience.

          I’m 39 and people constantly think I’m younger, and I like that now. But I used to feel like people thought I was a child.

          1. Jen M.*

            Yup. I love it. (Early 40s).

            I wanted to kiss the guy who carded me for a 6-pack the day after my 40th birthday!

          2. Laura L*

            Really? My parents always told me I’d love it when I’m 30. I’m 28 now and I just get insulted when people think I’m 24 and I don’t see that changing any time in the next year and a half. :-)

            My mom’s in her 50s and everything thinks she’s in her 40s at the highest and she loves it. So, I have that to look forward to! :-)

      2. Anonymous*

        I don’t appreciate it. I’m 45 and look very young. On top of that, I have dimples, big eyes, and I am petite, which together kind of make me look sweet. I hate it. I hate it because people talk down to me, call me “sweetie” and think butter won’t melt in my mouth. Yes, it’s good not to look leathery and harsh, but I’m tired of feeling patronized. I have a Skype interview scheduled in two weeks, for a position that is senior and involves lots of managing stakeholders, and I am beside myself trying to work out how to ensure my looking young doesn’t work against me. I’m staring down the barrel of cutting my hair (as an earlier post mentioned), just so I look as though I have more gravitas.

        AAM – could this be considered a “weakness”, as in the what are your weaknesses?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hmmm. I don’t think I’d be comfortable hearing it — it’s not really about a weakness you bring to the job, and more about who/what you “are,” if that makes sense.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Actually, let me modify that: If you can explain how it’s posed challenges for you in the performance of your work (not just personally), and what you’ve done to counteract that, it could potentially be an appropriate answer. For instance, if you’ve found that it’s generally helpful for you to do __ so clients take you seriously, that could be interesting.

    2. jesicka309*

      The Head of my Department turned around to me last year and said “I just can’t believe how mature you act for your age!”. This was during our usual monthy birthday cake.
      I grinned at her and said “I’m 23 you know!” I am really youthful too, I look like I’m 16 in full make up, sbut I didn’t think I acted significantly older or anythingh. I’m not going around calling people ‘dearie’ or anything! It made me wonder who else expects me to act like a teenager because I look like one….

  40. Cathy*

    #7 – I am also hypothyroid and feel your pain. Doctors rely on the standard TSH test a little too much IMO. TSH is thyroid stimulating hormone – all the test measures is how much of this your brain is producing. It does nothing to tell you how much thyroid your thyroid gland is actually producing. Ask your doctor to do a complete thyroid panel which will include a T3, T4 and T7 levels and make sure he includes the free T3, T4 and T7 levels (which typically are NOT included in the panel).
    I have also found that for some odd reason, I actually function better on *less* medication, rather than more. It doesn’t make sense, but it works.
    You don’t mention how old you are, but I would also have the doctor check your hormone levels. If you are possibly in peri-menopause and having a decrease in estrogen levels this could explain the fatigue, brain fog and lack of ‘ambition’ to do anything.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Great comment, Cathy. To this I add, have T1 and T2 checked also. Typically doctors will say “oh it is off a little, but nothing to worry about.” NO! That little bit of T1 or T2 is important. If those are low- they will pull down the others… sigh…
      OP, Cathy is right – that TSH test is not discerning/precise enough.

  41. Andie*


    Happiness is the best revenge. Don’t do anything that is going to hurt you and your children in the long run.

  42. Sam*

    #7, please talk with your doctor. And if that isn’t helpful, get a second opinion. Some doctors *still* don’t know the updated “normal” levels for TSH, which means they may be underprescribing Levoxyl or whatever you’re on. Also, you may be able to find a doc who is less concerned with the actual levels than they are with treating symptoms like the exhaustion and low metabolism. Worth a shot!

  43. Career mom*

    #7: I felt the same way before kids, and when pregnant it was even worse! But when you have kids, you MAKE the time to do what you need to do. I snack at work, all day long. Eat healthy, hearty things like oatmeal and Greek yogurt. Don’t skip breakfast either. Set up structured sleep routine and don’t vary on the weekends. (At least these things helped me). Hang in there and good luck!

  44. This is #7*

    Hi all!

    Thanks for all of the suggestions/support. To answer a few questions: I am treated by a very progressive thinking doc on my thyroid so that’s pretty controlled to the best it can be — well aware of the TSH nonsense and she doesn’t go by that.

    I live in the DC Metro Area so no matter what I’m going to have a 40-50 minute commute at minimum. I walk about 15 minutes from my apartment to the metro and another 10 minutes from the metro to my office so I at least get 50 minutes of walking in a day! I just changed jobs so my commute increased by about 10 minutes, but that’s par for the course here.

    I like the idea of snacking before I get home. In addition to losing the weight before the wedding I have resolved to bring my food/coffee/lunch instead of buying for diet reasons and for budget reasons. I’ve been sort of successful there, still allotting myself $5/day for the last minute coffee run if I need it. I just need to add more food to my bag each day to have something for the 4pm call.

    I am not “plus size” just slightly overweight based on my BMI (I’m about 5’1″ and 130 lbs. I want to lose about 20 to get down to 110). I used to be a lot more active but with grad school and now work my motivation has slid away. BTW I am 28.

    Again, thanks all!

    1. Natalie*

      Given the amount of weight you are trying to lose, just tracking your calories might be helpful. You’re getting activity every day which is great for your health regardless of how much you weigh. I’m about the same age as you and I have been managing the “oops, I don’t have the metabolism of a teenager” weight gain pretty well just by paying attention to my diet.

      As far as not having a lot of time, is there any way you could take advantage of your commute? Keep up on websites you like, catch up with friends by email… ?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      With the amount of walking you do – if you just reduce the amount of sugars and flours you eat that weight will fall off.

      I had to look back at your question- the first time I read it I did not see it as a question about diet/thyroid etc.
      I had to mull it over for a minute. When I was in my 20s I did not see how I would keep up with everything married life involved. It is amazing what is hidden inside of us.
      You get your own home/husband/kids/etc and suddenly you find yourself doing more and being able to handle a lot of it. Why. In part because these are people and things that you care about. And you build routines that are workable. You also adjust (meaning- get rid of) the parts that are not working out. It is no one thing that kicks us into gear and makes it all possible.
      Remember you are not going to wake up one day and instantly have five kids. If you chose to have five kids, this happens over a period of time which allows you to build a game plan to adapt.

      So people change and adapt that is one part of the answer to how people find the energy to do things.
      The other part of the answer is to say “how much is reasonable?” I had a friend relate this story. She went to an alternative practitioner with the complaint of being tired all the time. Wisely, the doctor asked “Well what does your average week look like?” She explained full time job, 1 hour commute each way. His very next comment was “Do you honestly think that it is reasonable to feel full of energy at the end of the day?” Something to think about. Do we have fantasy land expectations of what we can do and still work 40 hours a week. “Oh, I am going to build a house, study a new language, rebuild my car’s engine before Saturday.” Really?
      Most people I know have one maybe two activities outside of work- that is it. And even then they do not always show up for those activities.

      In short, when you start getting concerned about having enough energy for future activities/commitments counter balance that concern with a promise to yourself. Promise yourself that you will put continuous effort into finding ways to make things easier to manage.

      1. Worker Bee*

        Another thing that just came to my mind. I used to be exhausted because I slept too much! I slept around 8+ hours during the week and being left to myself on the weekends easily 11+ hours. I found out that I am doing much better with sleeping less. I am now down to 6-7 hours during the week. I have the luxury that I fall a sleep within 5 minutes after I go to bed, which makes it easy for me to set an alarm on the weekends for 8 hours. This has helped me tremendously!!

    3. Malissa*

      Sounds like you have a great doc! I’ve seen an article somewhere that says having a coffee at 2-3 PM is actually better than having coffee in the morning. The benefits from the caffeine is more obvious that time of day. So that might be something to consider.
      Also I think there’s some one around here that has a copy of the Buff Brides work-out DVD that they’ll happily send you. ;)
      The main thing about exercise is the more you do it, the more you want to do it. So have your afternoon snack and go straight to the gym for a week and then see if you still feel like doing it.

    4. AMG*

      Try a pedometer. I always thought I was walking about the same number of steps each day, and I was entirely wrong. Decide to take 10K steps a day, or however many, and go from there.

    5. Anonymous*

      Have you thought about walking all the way home from work sometimes? You’re already walking 25 min. At one point I would walk home from Rosslyn to Cleveland Park in good weather. It always took a long time at first, but after a week or so averaged out fairly close to the same amount of time as taking the metro. I varied the routes – & where to walk up the hill – which was an added bonus. Also walked to meet friends for dinner, etc. Some people were shocked, but when I could do it in 45-50 minutes, it suited me better than the metro, & got me outside.

      1. This is #7*

        Walking home would be kind of hard. If I were in Rosslyn I’d do it in a heartbeat, but I’m in Crystal City, which doesn’t have many options for walking. I am around Dupont for my office so I could walk to Rosslyn and grab the blue there — and might when it gets warmer — but getting from Rosslyn to Crystal City is unnecessarily difficult.

      2. Jen M.*

        Yeah. It really DOES depend on where in the DC area you live and where you work. Good idea, though, in theory!

    6. Jen M.*

      There is a website I use called SparkPeople. It allows you to track your food, track your activity (virtually any kind), and talk to others who are trying to lose weight or just eat better. I’ve found it to be a great site, and it’s really helped me to get motivated, even when I don’t track.

      Good luck with everything, and congrats on your upcoming wedding!

    7. Zed*

      Hi, OP! I just want to preface my comment with the fact that I do not know more about your body than you do, and that I am not trying to invalidate any of your thoughts, feelings or goals.

      But that said… maybe you don’t need to lose weight? 5’1 and 130 pounds sounds like a very reasonable weight to me. 5’1 and 110 would be normal for a lot of people, but depending on your bone structure it may be too little. I am a little shorter than you and if I were 110 lbs I would look like I were dying. In your original question you say you “desperately” need to lose weight for your wedding, but to that I say – why?

      My advice, for what it’s worth: Don’t concentrate on losing weight. If you do that, you may well starve yourself and force yourself to work out. Instead, concentrate on feeling better or on being healthier. Eat more vegetables. Think about nutrition – make sure you’re eating fiber and protein and foods with vitamins, rather than counting calories or watching your fat. Use the new USDA “plate” as a guideline (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/). Don’t go to the gym if you don’t want to – gyms are artificial. Instead, incorporate more walking into your commute or take walks with a partner or friend when you get home. Ride a bike on the weekend if you like to ride bikes. Go to a park and play kickball or frisbee or catch. Learn to dance or take a yoga class. Walk the dog five times a day instead of four. It sounds silly, but think of it like this: if you don’t like to exercise, then find another kind of exercise. Get more fresh air and more sunlight. Get enough sleep and make sure you have enough downtime built into your schedule. And so on.

      I guess what I am saying is this: make small but positive changes to your lifestyle and you may lose weight and you may not lose weight, but chances are you will feel healthier and happier.

      And I for one? Would prefer happy and healthy wedding photos to thin wedding photos. Any day of the week.

  45. saro*

    I know I’m late to the party but I have thyroid problems and am mildly anemic. My dr didn’t think it was necessary to treat my anemia but taking Floradix (a veggie-based iron pill) made a huge difference in my energy levels.

  46. Anonymous*

    The looking young thing — I’ve always had that problem. Just yesterday a condescending male coworker mentioned how I was “born in the 1990s” (uh, try early 70s) and honestly, I’ve never heard anyone say this to a male coworker. I’ve wondered if it’s really meaning “you act young,” so I’ve tried to “dress older” and “more professional” in the meantime and elminate the “likes” and “totallys” from my speech.

  47. Kristen*

    #7 I feel like your letter could have been written by me. I do not have any thyroid issues that I know of (now thinking I should probably get it checked just in case), but have always had low energy levels and just cannot understand how people can handle daily life with a full time job…it just feels impossible and overwhelming sometimes. One thing that really helps me is scheduling my week over the weekend and often sticking to the same routine. I will echo what others said about eating a snack before leaving work–it makes a world of a difference. Also, have you tried couch to 5k? I just started trying it again and have been reminded why I loved it before so much. It is only 30-40 minutes and slowly builds you up until you can run a 5k without stopping. I ran outdoors last night and it was only 25 degrees out–but I wore running leggings, a sweat-wicking hat, a long sleeve sweat-wicking shirt, a lightweight jacket, and gloves, and I was not cold at all. It felt nice to get outside when everyone is all cooped up indoors, and so long as you keep moving, you will stay warm. You could also try c25k on the treadmill if the cold really is just too much for you.

  48. Waiting Patiently*

    After having blood work done, I found out my iron levels were extremely low. I had been suffering from tiredness but because my kids are very active and i was running them around. I didn’t feel that tired rather cranky. I would stay in bed longer in the morning like 15min before it was time for me to clock in. Luckily I live fairly close. I was like a zombie. Now I take iron pills and my energy level has increased.

    Now I work out on Sun mornings, and sometimes on Mon and Thurs.
    I try to go out with my close friends at least once a month.
    I leave Wed open-no activities for me or the children.
    I think I have become better at setting boundaries because my children are in just about every activity under the sun.

  49. Kristen*

    Regarding letter #2, Alison, do you know of any reason the laws don’t kick in until you’re 40 or if there is any push to change them to kick in sooner? I am often mistaken for a high school student (I am 25) and find it very frustrating that having a baby face could be holding me back professionally. I also find it frustrating that some employers may not want to consider a younger person for a position if they have the necessary experience (regardless of their appearance). It just baffles me–why is this ok, but discriminating against someone for being old is not? In my head age discrimination should not happen at all–whether the person is 18 or 80.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it’s because it’s believed to be a bigger problem for older workers than younger workers. With younger workers, age discrimination is more likely to be based on lacking experience or concerns about maturity/gravitas — both of which are legitimate considerations. Whereas with older workers, it’s rarely about lack of experience and more truly about simply not wanting to hire someone older.

  50. SJ*

    LW #7:
    I started training Brazilian jiu jitsu in May of 2011, and got laid off just a couple weeks after I started. The intensity of my training ramped up in the following months, and I was working part time, so I was fine in terms of energy. Then in January of 2012, I started following a Primal/caveman/Paleo diet. My energy improved a lot, and when I started a full-time job in April, for the first time in my life I didn’t feel like I had to go home and crash on the couch in exhaustion after work. When I slipped from the diet for more than, say, four or five days at a time, I would start getting tired again, having the mid-afternoon slump where it was hard to keep my eyes open. That doesn’t happen when I eat ‘primally.’ I now train intensively four nights a week (and on the weekends too), but if I weren’t eating this way, I wouldn’t be able to. Incidentally, this way of eating is excellent for weight loss, if one needs to lose weight – it will help your body ‘normalize.’ Admittedly, I’m not sure how hypothyroidism affects this way of eating, but the website or forums probably have some insight into that. Check out marksdailyapple.com if you’re interested – eating like this has made a HUGE difference in so many things for me, especially energy levels. Also, this is not a plug, all the info on the site is free and there’s nothing you must buy from them in order to make it work for you.

  51. Lulu*

    I’ll echo what the others have said about joining the gym close to work and eating a late afternoon snack so you aren’t famished when you get home. I do both of these things, and it’s because my commute is about the same as yours – 60-75 min in rush hour traffic. I discovered that when I go to the gym straight from work, I not only AVOID sitting in that traffic, but by the time my workout is over, my commute is down to a much more reasonable 30-45 min. So yes, I’m getting home a bit later, but it is a MUCH better use of my time. Usually I’ll eat a yogurt or oatmeal or apple before the gym, and then keep a pack of almonds for the car ride home in case my workout has left me famished. And if I do eat all this, I eat a smaller dinner, which may be harder for you with a partner (I am single) but that can also mean more leftovers for the next day.

  52. Megan*

    I think LW7 is missing the obvious, which is that her 50 minute commute is INSANE! Move closer to work or get a different job. I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic, but that’s really what’s eating all her time.

    1. VintageLydia*

      In her update, she mentions living in the DC Metro area in which case 50 minutes is average to good. Most people use public transportation which takes ages, and if you drive in, well, we’re famous for our bad traffic.
      My husband actually reduced his commute by living further away but close to a commuter train (NOT the Metro!) We went from living 6 miles away to 30, to give you an idea on how ridiculous and counter-intuitive it is. But I’m not sure where she works in relation to the closest VRE or MARC stations.

    2. Zed*

      Is it? My commute is roughly an hour on public transportation… in Big East Coast Cities, that’s pretty average.

  53. Mike*

    In regards to #3, I agree that revenge should not be sought after. I can understand and sympathize with the situation the reader is in, but I have seen first-hand how seeking revenge can have extremely negative repercussions on the children even when it seemingly does not affect them. For example, if you seek to destroy his career, he will be at a disadvantage to supporting his children, which I am under the assumption that he wants to continue doing. If that is the case, not only could he be financially affected by this in a way that negatively affects your children, but he might have to move away to seek a job where his reputation isn’t tarnished. If you look at the statistics for children who grow up without a father–particularly boys, but girls too–you will see how incredibly harmful that can be. We all have our faults, and while some are “worse” than others, the statistics show that a father of some type is generally better than none at all.

    Also important is how seeking revenge could negatively reflect onto you among co-workers and members of your community. I have also seen first-hand how an individual can alienate oneself from others by those actions. Ultimately, to come out on top, your best bet is to burn as few bridges as possible.

    That’s my two cents though; do what you will.

    In regards to #6, I have ADHD as well, and I have a few tips that have helped me:

    1. Be attentive. I know this one sounds like a no duh tip, but I want to make a distinction between “being” attentive and “focusing” on being attentive. Being attentive will integrate attention to things you normally wouldn’t have been attentive to into your typical random and chaotic routine of cognition. These are the hooks that will draw you into hyper-focusing. Try noticing small details about things. Simple things to start out with. When you’re eating see if you can pick out all of the flavors and name them. When you take the trash out to the curb, take note of some of the design features and knicks and scrapes on the trash can. Eventually, you just get used to seeing, hearing, tasting, whatever all of those details that you have missed, and it will become more instinctual for them to catch you and you catch them.

    2. Get used to hyper-focusing on demand. Hyper-focusing is a pretty unique trait to ADHD and ADD because it basically allows the individual to block out absolutely everything else in the environment and just focus on that one thing. For me, it means that I can work faster, more efficiently, and more effectively than most other people I know. It is agonizing to get to the point where you are hyper-focused, but once you are, you get into this zone where you’re just slamming out really awesome work that will impress your boss.

    3. When you have a lot of things to do, don’t be afraid to be working on all of it at once. This can be tricky because you don’t want aspects of one item to subconsciously bleed over into another item. However, if you can prevent that from happening, it’s a great way to indulge in the divergent nature of ADHD/ADD while still getting work done. Have a few projects open and work on each a little bit at a time simultaneously. When you get bored of one, jump to the next one.

    4. All of these tips can be double-edged swords, so use discretion when using them. Sometimes A is way more important than B and due the next day when B, C, and D are due in a week or so. You will have to reign yourself in, suck it up, and finish A. Other times, you’re just stuck in a meeting that you don’t want to be in, but you still need to pay attention. These are what I refer to as “crappy situations that suck” ;). They still have to get done though.

    5. Don’t worry and enjoy who you are. This is by far the most important tip, and I don’t think this is stressed enough to people who have a type of attention deficiency. ADHD can be really awful and difficult to live with, but it’s still part of who you are. It can also be used to your advantage if you stop listening to everyone else and figure out how to make it an asset. Enjoy being you, and you will find the creativity and resourcefulness that is also associated with ADD/ADHD. Through that, you can figure out what works for you and become a productive member of society.

    A word of caution about the medication: know the side-effects of the particular medication you’re taking, and be mindful of them. In certain cases, it can be far more damaging than helpful to continue on the medication. If you feel strange or not yourself, stop taking it and consult your doctor. I got burned when I was a kid because I was made to take it (I was told that it would “fix” my ADHD) and that it was important to just work around the negative side-effects that I had. Treat it as an aid to the ultimate goal of not taking it anymore.

    1. Your Mileage May Vary*

      Good advice but don’t just stop taking your meds without consulting your doctor. Some meds need to be stepped down from.

      1. Jamie*

        And mileage varies when it comes to these meds, as with all meds.

        What works for one person may have bad effects for someone else…but the goal for everyone isn’t to get off them. That’s between individuals and their doctors.

  54. MBG*

    I too have hypothyroidism and struggle with energy. I can tell you from experience that exercising will give you more energy rather than less. If I drag myself to the gym regularly, I feel like an energizer bunny later. If I don’t exercise, the sluggishness is real.

    Take consolation in knowing that this is VERY COMMON for those of us suffering from hypothyroidism. And, if you network with others, you may get better advice. It is hard for people who don’t have this condition to realize just how much of a difference it makes to the life of someone who suffers it. It is a chronic condition, manageable by medication or surgery but not well understood by the general population. Also, it is ‘hidden’ with not obvious signs to outsiders–so you don’t tend to get that sympathy. The chronic fatigue is real.

    Make sure you have a good endocrinologist, take care of yourself, and from experience I can tell you that making the time for exercise–even if it is just walking–will help you feel better and manage your health.

  55. Cindy*

    #7–do you have a Curves gym nearby? The entire workout only takes 30 minutes and it’s (in my experience) highly effective. I was quite overweight and lost a good 60 pounds over 6-8 months of going 3x a week (+eating healthy). It tends to be much cheaper than other gyms too.

  56. Pam*

    #7 — LOVE this question / discussion.

    It sounds like your only option is right after work. I used to love my early morning workouts, but my doc said sleep was more important and I just can’t wake up 3 hours before I go to work (1hr workout, 1hr get ready, 1 hr commute) and get the amount of sleep I need.

    I haaaaaaaated afternoon workouts at first. I am so mentally exhausted after work, it’s not the physical exertion that gets me down, it’s the “oh, you thought you were done? You still have to do one more thing on your list” that gets to me and makes me want to Do. Nothing. But if I immediately crash when I get home, I run into your same exact problem. Oh now I need to cook / eat dinner. Oh now I can’t work out on a full stomach. Oh now it’s too late, you’re not supposed to work out x hours before sleep. Only option is right after work. So follow the tips others have provided, and some of my own:

    1 – Schedule your workouts on your calendar. Do not under any circumstances move it for anything. Book AROUND it.
    2 – Drink water throughout the day, you’d be amazed how your appetite disappears.
    3 – Eat a 200 or so calorie snack in your last hour of work, before your commute, so you’re not on a full stomach.
    4 – Do NOT sit down when you get home.
    5 – Lay out all your workout stuff before you leave for work, including headphones, shoes, socks…everything, so you put forth as little effort as possible.
    6 – Have a workout rule. I read a book recently where the author’s rule was “always work out on Mondays”. If she stuck to that rule, she at least always got in one workout a week and could always re-set from bad weeks. Mine is don’t get off the treadmill / go home until I’ve hit 3.1 miles.
    7 – Use an website like SparkPeople or MyFitnessPal to track your weight loss, nutrition, and exercise. If you are driven by goals and numbers, you will love it.
    8 – Add healthy-living blogs to your RSS Reader and read them along with AAM every day.

    But when it comes to work/life balance in general, I would agree with a commenter above that the best thing you can do is put things on your calendar. I think we all get sucked into hours of web surfing or TV watching before realizing it’s time for bed and the house is still a mess. I treat myself like I would a child – no fun and play until chores are done.

    Good luck! I am loving reading others comments on this topic.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I actually think it’s a fantastic example of being straightforward without being rude, humble without being overly self-deprecating, and showing an understanding of how you might help an employer at a level appropriate to your skills and experience. I really love it (and only fear that now lots of other applicants will start plagiarizing it)!

  57. books*

    Re: OP 3, nothing to add except AAM your advice in this situation is so much better than something Slate’s advice columnist would say, and I’m sure she has gotten a question exactly like this before. Love it.

      1. jennie*

        Dear Prudence just today advised a young-looking female doctor who isn’t getting respect from the nurses to help them out with their duties and bake them brownies! Somehow I’m not sure that’ll earn her respect equal to her male colleagues.

        1. Marie*

          I saw that one!

          I would definitely disagree with the brownies part, but when I joined my law firm as a baby-faced junior lawyer, I only earned the respect of some snappy admin staff at my law firm when I worked alongside them in the photocopy/filing room on a day when they clearly had too many instructions and were not going to get to my urgent admin request in time. Other lawyers were yelling at them about the delays that day, and they told me that they were pleased to see I took steps to get the job done, rather than getting angry. After that day, I had much less trouble getting my admin requests processed.

          My husband (a baby-faced junior academic) had a similar experience with the workshop staff at his engineering faculty: initially, they left his designs until last to build. Then, to demonstrate the urgency, he put on overalls and worked alongside them for a day to get the job done faster. After that, they decided that he was not an out-of-touch academic who didn’t understand how long work took, but someone who understood and respected their workflow, and had his own deadlines.

  58. Anonymous*

    #7: I totally understand your situation. I have had thyroid issues. All I can say is that exercise always gives me more energy, and I’m always more productive when going to the gym regularly. If paying for a gym means that you’ll use it, then pay. The important thing is to get exercise.

    Speak with your doctor and see if your thyroid meds need to be adjusted.

    I’m a person who needs breaks. I make a conscious effort NOT to fill up every minute of my week with activities. Learn to prioritize: make lists of which things are most important to you, and do those tasks/activities first. Then, if you don’t get to the lower priority things, that’s okay. Work/life balance is totally possible; you just need to learn to prioritize.

  59. Liz*

    I work from 8:45-5:15 and I, too, am exhausted after work. I hate that I spend from 7:45-6 getting to work or at work but, I also hate feeling my butt melt into the chair for 8 hours per day so I’ve forced myself to get up at 5:55am and run down to the gym for a 20 minute work out. It gets it out of the way and I feel much better the rest of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather be sleeping in but if you get yourself into the habit of waking up to work out, it’ll become automatic and, dare I say, enjoyable.

  60. Jen M.*


    I have not read all of the comments, so I’m probably repeating what’s already been said here.

    First and foremost, talk to your doctor and get on medication (if needed) to get your thyroid under control. Once you do that, from what I understand, other things will start to normalize. Better energy, weight loss, etc.

    As for exercising, could you go for a short walk at lunch, on breaks, before dinner, etc? Even just a few minutes a day will help.

    As for how people do things outside of work, I can only answer for myself: I schedule things, and I pick and choose. I run a small business on the side. Most of the time during the week, I don’t actually do anything in my studio. Most nights, there just is not time. If there IS time, I squeeze in an hour or so. Most of the time, I deal with my business (cleaning, pricing, making, listing) on weekends or days off. It sucks, but that’s how it has to be, because I need my full time job right now.

    For other activities, I schedule them. I’ve just joined a writers’ group. They meet every Monday night. I’m commiting to one meeting a month. On those days, I have a cup of “half-caff” to keep my energy up. (I don’t consume caffeine most of the time.) It’s artificial energy, but it works. I’m also involved in my religious community. Again, I schedule things for that. Most of that stuff takes place on weekends.

    I try to eat a salad with one meal at least three days a week. Supplementing your diet with fresh (raw where possible) fruits and vegetables will help a lot. Cutting back on meat and dairy (if you consume them) will also help. They are “heavy” foods. I’m not saying you should become a vegetarian if you are not. What I am saying is that if you concentrate on lighter, more nutrient dense foods, you may feel better quickly.

    Being busy is not easy, and you have to really know your limits. Some people just naturally have lower energy levels than others, and that is OK. You don’t HAVE to be busy. Do what makes you happy.

    Good luck to you!

  61. bella*

    Dear Tried,

    I too do not like to get up early. What I found works for me is to eat less it is all about portions monstly anyways. I have been on Jenny Craig where there is nothing to think about and have lost 20 pound without ever working out.

    Or, make sure you take a walk and get up throughout the day especially, during lunch. Maybe form a lunch walking group. Also, on TV on Demand they have videos for all forms of excersize that you can do. As soon as you get home put it on do not sit down.

    Hope you are able to find a great option.

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