Life: Getting out of a rut

I’ve been battling a rut for a while.  Part of it is avoidance of all these big to do things that I have to do, but the rest of it I’m not quite sure about.  The biggest problem with this rut is that I have been feeling run down and constantly tired.  I would like to blame the weather, but I took care of that part of it and bought another air conditioner for my apartment.  I kept telling myself that I should start working out and start eating cleaner, but I just couldn’t really find the energy.  The lack of energy has been so bad that driving is scary.

Today, though it seems that the fog is abating a bit and I have some theories as to why I finally feel like I’m climbing out of this rut.

  1. Cut out the caffeine – I don’t usually have a daily caffeine habit.  I do enjoy coffee and tea, but usually it’s a splurge when I go out to a coffee shop to do work.  However, when I started a month of shift work with erratic hours, I started up a caffeine habit.  Mind you, I set a limit of one cup, but I tend to be sensitive to caffeine and continuing that one cup of coffee a day habit even after the erratic shift work was over was probably a bad idea.  Even though a tiny voice in the back of my head was saying that I should stop, I enjoyed the ritual of a morning coffee.  Last week, I read somewhere (sorry, I’m so terrible at remembering where I read things and linking up…something to work on) that daily caffeine could in fact prevent weight loss instead of promote it.  I would like to ditch a couple of pounds that I gained about six months ago, but I’m not actively trying to lose weight.  Reading that article reminded me what I knew all along about fatigue, adrenal function, and so on, so I ditched the coffee.  Sad, but necessary.  I used the rest of my cold brew as a hair rinse.  At least my hair smelled lovely.
  2. Drink more water – I’ve been lucky that the last couple of days I’ve been able to drink more water, but the reality is that most working days I’m lucky if I can remember to drink a cup or two of water.  I’ve gone whole shifts/days of work without drinking water.  I know this is really bad, but when you are running around all day, going to the bathroom is not on your list of to dos.  Naturally, it follows that you stop drinking water, too.  I’ve gotten in the habit of tucking a bottle of water into one of my giant pockets.  The trick now is to remember to actually drink that water.
  3. Sleep consistently well – Sleep has been problematic for me for most of my life.  I can hear just about everything in my sleep.  I also need about 9 hours of sleep to feel fantastic.  I wish I could be one of those people who feels awesome on 7 or 8 hours but frustratingly, I feel the best with 9 hours.  When I switched to eating a more paleo/primal diet, I started to sleep better, which was awesome.  Problem now is that if I get a couple of nights of good sleep, then the third or fourth night, I end up staying up too late.  There is probably a happy medium of being well functioning during the day and being able to sleep consistently well, but I still haven’t found it.  Something to work on.
  4. Get outside – Life has been busy and there is a whole lot of things that I am not doing that I need to be doing.  That being said, I’m basically hitting snooze a million times in the morning, dragging myself out of bed, and throwing on a bunch of black and rushing to work.  When I get home, some evenings I found myself cuddling with my laptop and sleeping because I was too tired to make dinner or do much of anything else.  I realize that no matter what I need to get outside once a day, twice would be preferable, but let’s start small.  Getting outside gets me the natural light exposure that I need and a much needed dose of outside air.  Being inside all day with not very well circulated air is probably contributing to my exhaustion.  Not to mention the lack of natural light is probably not helping my circadian rhythms either.
  5. Breathe – When things get busy, I have a tendency to get wound up and tense.  I start wanting to micromanage and control every detail about what’s going on.  I often don’t realize this until I’m well into doing it and I find myself walking around with a clenched jaw and stiff muscles.  One of my favorite teachers of all time told me on Friday, “Don’t just do something, stand there.”  At first, I was confused, but he was saying that sometimes you have to stop doing and just take a step back and take it all in.  “Don’t forget to enjoy this,” he said.  After that conversation I realized how much I was working myself up and making things more stressful for myself than they need to be.  So one at a time and breathe.

There are probably a million more things that I could change and do differently to feel better, but those are the things that come to mind that seem to have shifted over the last few days.  I was really floundering for a while trying to figure out why I was feeling so terrible.  Hopefully, things are a lot better from here on out.

How do you get yourself out of a rut?

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Life: Holidays

Happy Fourth of July!  I hope everyone has fun and relaxing plans for their Fourth of July celebrations.  Those of you not in the U.S., I hope you’re having a wonderful day, regardless.

I am fortunate enough to have today off, which doesn’t always happen.  Most holidays involve some time at work.  Usually an abbreviated day, but not an entire day off.  Today, I get the wonderful luxury of doing whatever I want all day.

Now, ideally I would be spending the day doing all the relaxing and enjoyable things that I don’t usually get to do, but I’ve spent my morning so far doing work that I haven’t been able to attend to for the last week.  Part of the problem here is that I have been procrastinating and part of the problem is that there are simply not enough hours in the day most days.

Lately, I realize how important it is to actually celebrate holidays and take the time to reflect, relax, and connect with people that are important to us.  That’s what holidays were meant to be originally, but as we’ve gotten more wired and sped up the pace of life, we frequently neglect to celebrate or even acknowledge holidays.  I’m certainly guilty of this.

Growing up my family didn’t pay too much attention to most holidays, but we did have some things that we did every year for certain holidays.  As I grew older we lost more and more of the ritual things we did for those holidays.  Some were simple things like putting up the cardboard cutouts of goofy looking pumpkins in our windows for Halloween and others were a little more involved like dragging the fake tree out of the attic to decorate for Christmas.

As we slowly stopped doing those things, I didn’t notice the loss too much and I was more relieved that there was less thinking and effort involved.  I was glad that I didn’t need to stand outside with chattering teeth and freezing fingers helping my mom string up Christmas lights and decorate the front of the house.  I also told myself that I was being kinder to the planet by not wasting electricity on frivolous decorating.

These days though I miss those rituals as simple as they might be.  I miss being excited to find my favorite pumpkin cutout that had a fuzzy size that I liked to rub with my hand as I put it up in the window.  (I always put the fuzzy side on the size facing away from the window because I didn’t want that side to fade.)  It’s a small thing, but it helped mark the passage of time and the celebration of autumn and a funny holiday called Halloween.

As I start to have a little more control over my time, I’d like to go back to having rituals for holidays.  Maybe not every single holiday, but having some traditions feels grounding and is a good way to take a step back from the rush of life.

What do you think?  How do you celebrate holidays?  Do you have any traditions that you like?

Life: Monday Musings

Some thoughts that have been floating around in my head.

1. Eating strict paleo is easier when you don’t know about all the paleo substitutions that exist out in the world.  (Technically, all these paleo substitutions aren’t really paleo, but that would be a long discussion and debate.)

2. There seems to be some merit to the gut healing theory.  Personally, after two years of paleo/primal eating, I can eat some wheat based products without feeling completely terrible and in need of a long slumber to sleep it off.  Not that I am going to go back to eating wheat.

3.  I found out that my reaction to wheat is much improved because my sister made these amazing cookies while I was home this past weekend and I couldn’t resist.  I probably ate a dozen of them…maybe I’m exaggerating just a little.

4.  I also made cauliflower pizza crust with my sister this past weekend.  She was in charge of the toppings.  Good thing, since she actually makes things look pretty and tasty. (Hopefully, I’ll be sharing some photos soon.)

5.  My goal is to clean up my act this month and eat cleaner and sleep better, but I’m afraid to actually announce that here because I’m not sure I can or want to be that committed.

6. I’m transitioning to writing one blog, this one, and getting it better organized.  What do you think about the new title format?

7. I like the number seven so I’m going to end here.

 

Life: Sleep Around the Clock

Despite the fact that this was touted to be an amazing month of procedures and an easier schedule in terms of total number of hours, I find myself in a constant haze of never knowing what day it is much less what time of the day it is.  Shift work definitely has its perks, but for me the lack of a good day to day rhythm and constantly being tired isn’t working so well for me.  It’s a good experience, but I realize that no matter how much I enjoyed this, I’m no longer really tolerant of this kind of abuse on my body.

Had I started this journey at a younger age, I probably would have jumped into whatever struck me as exciting and fun, scheduling and bad hours would probably not be given even a glimmer of a second thought.  Where I am now, though, I respect and cherish my body a lot more and the way I think about my approach to life and career is vastly different.

I imagine this terrible sleep schedule, the odd hours awake, and the liberal use of caffeine (and when I say liberal I mean one cup a day, two at the max, and two is very rare) isn’t helping me shed my winter weight.  Weight gain that I blame on the terrible hours I had over the winter with 24 hour calls every three days.

Only a few more days of overnight shifts and then I should be back to a more normal schedule.  I can’t wait to join the world of the living.  As convenient as it might sound, overnight shifts and random  hours of sleep are less than ideal.

More thoughts later…I’m not exactly coherent.

Life: Technology, Stress, and Overeating

Technology makes me crazy.  This is a realization that came to me over the last few weeks.  I think to some degree technology makes us all crazy.  We’ve gone from a culture of sit down dinners with polite conversation to constant conversations through text messages and social media.

If I’m being honest about my own habits, there is something to be said about using the Internet as your stand in roommate and best friend.  Time ticks away without any productive work being done the moment I start checking e-mail.  Yet, as much as I would like to say I’m just going to shut my computer off, most of the work I do relies on the resources of the internet and the ability to e-mail.

I remember back in the day having a computer was both a novelty and a privilege.  Not everyone could afford a computer and when Internet came around, it was limited to dial up.  If you were lucky like I was and had a techie parent or two, you might have a separate phone line just for internet, but most people had to use their regular phone line.  If they were on the Internet, it meant that they couldn’t receive or make phone calls.

I always thought myself pretty balanced when it came to media and technology.  Growing up, my mom regulated when and how much TV we could watch and frankly, I don’t think my sisters and I were much into TV anyway.  Even when I went off to college, I didn’t have much interest in watching television.  There were a lot better things to do than watch TV.

Now, that I live in a cold clime and work long tiring hours, when I get home, Hulu has my TV shows queued up and waiting for me.  I don’t even need a television.  And even with the likes of Hulu and Netflix, people think it’s amazing that I don’t own a television.

So, I make some dinner and eat dinner at my desk while watching a show.  If I’m feeling guilty, I might even try to do some work while eating dinner and watching said show.  Can you say (or scream) inefficiency??  Hours later I’ll find that I’m tired and it’s time for bed and I haven’t done a single thing on my to do list.

Did I mention to you how effective online television is at helping you procrastinate and avoid things you really should be doing in life?  I mean, come on, in a race between do boring things like study or write e-mails to various powers that be and things like eat and watch made up stories about the drama in other people’s fake lives, what would you do?  It’s much easier to watch the fake drama and feel better about your life (albeit your rather unproductive one while you’re watching television shows) than to sit down with the silence around you and actually do some work.

I remember I used to really enjoy the peace and quiet when studying back in high school.  It felt meditative and for a while the sensation of time was suspended.  At work, productiveness is punctuated by phone calls and text messages.  Inefficiency is rampant.  Despite all our technological advances, the actual work sometimes takes longer.  Not because the actual work takes longer, but because we have far more interruptions and distractions.  Of course many will argue that interruptions have long been a part of medicine since the beeper has been around for far longer than most of the technology I’m discussing here.

We’re inefficient and distracted.  Now, throw in the fact that we work longer hours, we’re more mobile and spread out, and technology advancements seem to happen in the blink of an eye.  Well, we need to connect!  And the Internet and electronic technology industry have answers for that, too.  We can talk while we drive (a practice that is VERY DANGEROUS), video chat, share photos instantly, text message, tweet, and facebook.  I’m sure there are a million other ways to connect that I’m missing.  Oh, right, blogging.  Yeah.  I realize that I’m blogging right now and I won’t even try to defend myself.

Even when we do meet people face to face, it is rare to just focus on being with that person or people.  We’re too busy checking our phones for text message or getting called.  Sometimes we’re tweeting or instagramming (oh yeah, there is that one, too).  Even with a good old fashioned camera, I find myself distracted, so with all these options, I find myself wanting to pull my hair out.

I have a friend who texts the entire time she’s at the gym.  It drives me batty and it makes me less likely to want to go to the gym with her.  While, I, too, tend to multitask, I do my best to be present when I’m at the gym or driving or spending time with friends or family.  My terrible multitasking habits tend to crop up more when I’m alone and should be doing work.

So, what does this all mean?  We’re dumber, fatter, more stressed, less productive, and inherently less connected.  You might not like that I said it like that, but that is the plain truth.

Why the soapboxy, ranting like post?  Well, because I’m working on being less distracted and stressed out by technology.  In fact, I wrote this entire post without checking my phone or doing something else online.  Aren’t you all proud of me?  Okay, maybe not.  I’m still proud of myself though.

A New Year

I’m finally getting around to posting in 2013.  You’ll noticed I also changed up the way this blog looks.  I did a quick switcheroo with no customizations, so the look is definitely not permanent.  I’m not sure how I feel about the change, but I wanted something different.  Thoughts on this are appreciated.

In the meantime, I feel I should apologize for making promises that I haven’t kept.  I have grand plans for this blog that I’ve mapped out on sticky notes and paper, but I still haven’t found the time to get around to actually making those changes and posting the posts that I keep meaning to post.

Things will in all likelihood get busier and while I hope that I will be able to start implementing some of my ideas for this blog and get some posts up, I can’t honestly figure out when these things will happen.  So my apologies in advance.

I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that it is a new year.  It’s been sort of a strange holidays for me and my brain is still playing catch up with real time.

So, this is my short, not entirely coherent update.  I hope that everyone is well and I hope to be better and connect more with all of you this year.  First, I need to get my regular life in order before I start cleaning and organizing my blogging house.  Wish me luck.

Getting Back on Track

I realize that it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  My food blog has suffered even more than this blog.  Alas, my schedule got the best of me and sadly, I did not have much say about how that went.

In any case, I’ve been rather lax about my cooking and eating, not to mention the terrible lack of good sleep I’ve had over the last month.  Now, that I’m finally through with the wacky schedule, it is time to get back on track.

My goal is to get a whole bunch of posts written and posted over the next few weeks.  So stay tuned.