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?

Advertisements

Caffeination Nation

I know I said I was back from my hiatus a long time ago and then have posted a piddly amount of posts since. It’s been absolutely nuts around here.

I’m in the middle of moving while starting to work full days. Exhausted might be an understatement at this point. I think I will need someone to peel me off the floor by the end of the week.

Given the sad state of things (don’t even get me started on what I’ve been eating lately), I’ve been relying on coffee every morning. I think a recharge and rebalance is going to be in order after this whole ordeal is over.

Well, that’s my update. More much later after I am no longer relying on quick sources of “energy.”

To Be or Not To Be

Caffeinated.  That is the big question today.

I never was much of a coffee drinker until after I graduated from college.  Starbucks was for the corporate and wall street types and as far as I know studying in coffee shops was not the hip thing to do.  Or maybe that was just my college, since there were plenty of cooler placees to get your study on.  Then again we are talking about a pre-Facebook era.

In any case, the most coffee I would have would come in the form of a blended coffee drink of some sort maybe three times a year.  I just never really got into the whole coffee thing.

Now, I’m not sure which came first, but somewhere between the amazing coffee that my sister brought back from Costa Rica and a backpacking trip though Spain, I started drinking coffee.  I loved the way it tasted and smelled and I got a nice euphoric high off of it that would have me going all day long.

Pretty soon, I knew which types of coffees I liked and would seek out novel coffees to see if I enjoyed them.  Around this time, I was also spending a lot of time in New York and well, there is some pretty darn good coffee there.  A busy schedule meant that I started drinking coffee almost everyday.  Unless I had to cram in extra work into the wee hours of the morning, I only drank one cup at breakfast.

Fast forward a few years and without the crazy schedule, I stopped drinking as much coffee.  I didn’t need to make sure that I was alert and ready to go at 5 AM any more, so I didn’t see the need for it.  Of course, if I did enjoy indulging in a good cup of coffee every so often.

More time travel to the summer of 2011 when I changed to paleo eating.  I ate a really strict diet for a month and then it sort of naturally continued on from there.  I didn’t drink coffee until I started having overnight shifts and even then, I only drank coffee when I needed to.  Up until this point, I never noticed that I had an issue with coffee.

A little side note here.  I might be sensitive to coffee in that it can keep me wired for three days after one good cup, but I never had the shakiness or the palpitations that some other members of my family had.

Welcome to the present day.  I drank a cup of coffee this morning that I brewed myself, french press style, and my heart is pounding pretty hard.  I’ve noticed over the last couple of weeks that this has been happening to me when I drink coffee.  I’m not liking it.

I love the clarity and up that coffee used to give me, but now coffee seems to just give me heart pounding and not a whole lot else.  I don’t know if this is because I eat such a clean diet that this issue was not apparent to me in the past or if the whole mycotoxin theory is actually correct.

The only reason I am even drinking coffee at this point is because it’s allergy season and anti-histamines make me drowsy (yes, even the non-drowsy kind).  I’ve noticed that this year I’m doing okay with one allergy medicine (versus three in years past) and that skipping a day or two of allergy medicine doesn’t cause huge problems.  However, I still have work to do.

So, much to my utter disappointment, I believe the correct answer here is to not be caffeinated.  I’ll just have to be that much better about eating well and getting good sleep.

In the end, I would love to have all the energy I need without relying on any sort of caffeinated beverages.  I’m pretty sure my reliance on them in the winter of 2010-2011 is what precipitated a huge burn out (another story for another post).  So, we’ll see if I can actually get through everything without the occasional caffeine boost.

 

 

Thursday Thoughts

I’m awake bright and early.  Well, it’s not exactly bright outside, but it’s definitely early.  I was going to sleep around this time over the weekend and now I’m waking up at this time.  Go figure.  I prefer waking up at this time rather than sleeping at this time (that is 3 AM).  I can get my night owl tendencies toward darkness and peacefulness in while still getting a jump start on my day.

Some early morning thoughts for today.

  1. Caffeine and Estrogen levels – Sorry to be so scientific so early in the morning, but there was this interesting study that I came across last week about how consumption of caffeine affects estrogen levels in women.  (see official NIH media release here)  In looking for that information on google, I also came across another older study (PDF here) saying that caffeine does appear to elevate estradiol, but the focus of the study was looking at testosterone levels in postmenopausal women consuming caffeine.  It’s all very interesting and scientific.  It’s also too early in the morning for me to come up with any good coherent thoughts on the matter.  I’m sure someone in the paleo/primal/ancestral blogging world will be jumping on this.
  2. Did you know that you only need one space between sentences?  So a friend found this article on spacing between sentences.  Apparently, it’s wrong to double space after periods.  I tried to single space for a while after that, but I couldn’t do it.  Double spacing is automatic for me.  I think I have to thank public education for this little bit of incorrect dogma being drilled into my head.  Not cool.  The only place where I single space is my text messages and that’s only because the technology is more recent and space is at a premium.
  3. I’m pretty sure today calls for coffee.  I’m sure my estrogen levels will be going up, but until I get on a better schedule and start sleeping a good amount of hours consistently, I’ll be spiking my hormone levels.  I wonder if the whip cream I put on top makes any difference.
  4. I need to do laundry, but I don’t want to.  I like clean things, but I hate living without my own laundry machines.  Plus, the laundry machines here are the old fashioned agitator kind, which I’m not a fan of.  The debate rages between going downstairs and doing laundry here or going to a laundromat.  Personally, it seems about the same to me.
  5. I’m thinking it’s time to get to work before the magic on this early morning runs out.  Approaching 4 AM here.  I had some breakfast (I might have some more) and then it’s off to the races.  Perhaps, this morning I can squeeze in a post on Funny Eater.  I’ve been hung up on writing this one post for a while.

Well, I hope that everyone else is enjoying sweet dreams this morning.  Off I go.

Sleeeepy

I have been having some major issues with getting tired in the middle of the afternoon.  I know that there is a natural dip in energy, but passing out for an hour or two just doesn’t seem quite right.  Plus, I was hoping that I could avoid the afternoon slump by turning paleo.

Now, I know that I’ve only been eating paleo for a short while, so I shouldn’t get all concerned, but I either need to wait this one out or change something.  (The other explanation is that I really hate studying…honestly, I’m allergic to sitting for a long time.)  I’ve been trying to sleep better at night, but I don’t seem to be sleeping that much better.  I do seem to sleep deeper since going paleo, but I’m still not sleeping great.

I recruited the services of an app on my phone called Sleep Cycle ($0.99 at the Apple App Store) for the last few nights to see how I’m sleeping and to see if waking up when it was more optimal would help me.  So far nothing really great to report.  I think it’s going to take a little bit longer to figure out how to optimize that.

I think my biggest problem is falling asleep.  I also seem to be sleeping the best in the early morning, which is not ideal since I need to wake up fairly early in the day.  Plus, it’s my preference, since I seem to get more done getting up earlier – it’s a mental thing.

I read on Mark’s Daily Apple something about long lying and how that can help you fall asleep, so my plan is to use the inversion table we have and hang upside down for a while before I head to bed for the next few nights and see if that helps.

In addition, just in case I might be tired from not enough calories or from “low carb flu,” I am trying to eat more today and see if that helps things.  We’ll see.

I really hate to have to resort to caffeine to keep me up, but if this continues, I might just have to do that since I really need to focus for the next couple of weeks.  Sigh.

Any suggestions or ideas are welcome, especially from those with first hand experience in getting over their sleep and sleepiness issues.