Design by Sawyer Pennington

Red's Head Red

On one hand, I'm lucky in that it won't be too different from previous years, as I've always been a "homebody" on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I typically cook a Christmas Eve dinner and, being Jewish, taking in Chinese food for Christmas dinner is a tradition. But, on the other hand, it's going to be very different. On Christmas Day, I'd often go to the movies (OK, for the popcorn!) but I won't do that this year. But far, far more importantly, it's knowing that for so many people, including my friends, this Christmas is going to be completely different for them. I'm so sad when I think about the impact COVID-19's having on their holiday celebrations. And it's heartbreaking to think about how so many people have lost loved ones to COVID-19.

Black's Head Black

Since I am an equal opportunity Scrooge, I ignore/avoid not only Chanukah and Christmas, but all holidays throughout the year. So, in that regard, you would think that the pandemic would merely provide me with an "excuse". However, the impact the pandemic is having on everyone who does "celebrate" holidays – not only reduced festivities and the inability to be face-to-face with loved ones, but also the loss of loved ones to COVID-19, has made me stop and count my blessings. Which is the true meaning of the season …

FULL QUESTION: Why are some people talking trash about Olympic gymnast Simone Biles withdrawing from Olympic events?

Red's Head

Honestly, I didn't even know they were. At first, I think we were all in shock when Simone withdrew after she didn't complete the vault as planned , but almost immediately, there was an incredible outpouring of support. And not only from former Olympians, like Michael Phelps who has long spoken of his mental health challenges, but from a wide range of people, including mental health experts, newscasters, celebrities, and even politicians.

I'll admit that initially I questioned her decision because she had competed in previous Olympics, so I assumed she was used to the pressure. But then, the more I read, the more I learned, and the more impressed I became. Because she makes it look so easy, it's easy to forget that you can seriously injure yourself if your head isn't in the game. Finally, when I read what she said at the press conference, I came to see how her decision was the right one, not just for herself but as an example to all of us.

Black's Head Black

I am aware of some of the despicable things being said, and although people have the right to their opinion, I refuse to give them "airtime" by mentioning them by name. These media "personalities" (I do not consider them journalists or even commentators) seem to say what they do solely to stir things up, and get ratings and coverage. Whether they actually believe these things or not, who knows? Unfortunately, many of them have large (and loyal) followings who are easily (mindlessly?) persuaded.

They are quick to criticize someone who has accomplished so much more with their life than they ever will, but maybe not in the obvious way … Simone Biles may be the GOAT in gymnastics, but her greatest accomplishment may be in shining an extremely bright light, seen worldwide, on the importance of mental health.

FULL QUESTION: I gained weight during the pandemic, and now that I'm returning to the office, none of my clothing fits. Any suggestions?

Red's Head

I'm not sure that I'm the best person to ask this question as I work from home. However, unlike my sister, who has mastered maintaining her weight, I sympathize with you completely because, like so many people, I've succumbed to putting on weight during the pandemic. My downfall? Comfort food. And although I've always loved that kind of home cooking, what really did me in wasn't what I prepared, but having second servings because it tasted so good.

So, I need to go back to my Weight Watchers days. I never felt like I was on a diet because I could eat anything I wanted, but developed better eating habits, including being aware of portion control and making smarter food choices. That, and kicking up my exercise routine a notch (or two or three) – whether it's morning weights, mid-day walks, and/or late afternoon bike rides.

Well, I guess I really didn't answer your question as to what you should do. But I realize that I've analyzed how I got in a similar situation and what I should do. Now I just need to do it!

Black's Head Black

I am not going to tell Red that she is going through the logical sequence of change, but I will say that once many of us, Red included, understand WHY we are doing something, it is easier to do something about it. Just do not be too hard on yourself. And, be realistic.

Obviously, the pandemic caused isolation and anxiety, which resulted in more eating and less activity. And being able to work from home wearing "comfy" clothes did not help. But you are not alone, which explains why weight management businesses are doing so well. For example, gym memberships are up, and digital subscriptions at WW (what Weight Watchers is now called) are significantly higher from a year ago at this time.

Even if you are not ready to make drastic changes, you can start with small adjustments. Alcohol consumption increased (no surprise there), so maybe substitute low-calorie (or no-calorie) beverages, such as fruit-infused water instead of wine and cocktails. And, keep in mind short "office-friendly exercises" can also be done at home and can make a big difference. (Think: push-ups in a standing position against a kitchen counter or office desk or if you have stairs at home, putting away items immediately instead of accumulating them to minimize trips.)

One final thought … if you have to buy new clothes, keep it to a minimum and make sure they can either be altered easily or inexpensive enough that you do not mind giving them to a charity (such as Dress for Success or CareerGear).
Image on screen is from "What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!"

Red's Head

Oh, there are more days than I'd care to admit that I'd be grateful if it was just my desk that had too much paper on it as I've been known to use my floor as a filing system. Really! And I've been known to lament about feeling like I'm drowning in paper on way more than one occasion.

So, what do I do? Well, after kicking myself that I've let things (once again) get out of hand instead of keeping on top of the paper clutter, I take a deep breath and remember the advice that Black gave me years ago. And although I initially resisted following her advice, once I gave in, I found it was the perfect (and easiest) way to turn a mountain of paper into manageable stacks. And since it's her "system", I'll let her explain it to you.

Black's Head Black

All those words and Red provided only empathy – but no real advice. However, she brings up a good point in that paper will always accumulate, and we should strive to keep it from getting out of control … versus trying to control it "perfectly".

Now, in terms of the advice I gave Red, this is where our accountants would suggest that I refer you to our book, but I hate when people do that. Instead, I will refer you to the relevant excerpt that is available on this site, Too Much Paper – Not Enough Time.

But, here is a short version ("short" in terms of explanation, not the time it will take to make the piles shrink): take a handful of paper and begin to sort them into piles based on priority – immediate, this week, next week, next month, next lifetime. You will quickly realize that the majority of the items will be very low priority, such as reading, filing, or shredding. And, separating out the highest priority items will not only help you focus on them, but will reduce the stress of wondering if there is something important you are forgetting to do.