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?

Wish: Fitness tracker

I was trying to avoid the creation of a wishlist-I-want-it category because I’m trying to cut down on how much I acquire as a consumer.  However, I’m only human and just because I’m not writing these lists doesn’t mean that I don’t actually want something.  I’m thinking of these lists as a coping mechanism and not an encouragement to go out and buy more things because the last thing we all need in this world is more stuff.  In fact, I’d argue that we need less, but that really is another discussion for another time.

So, without further ado, my current wish is for a fitness/lifestyle tracker.

I’m notoriously against the idea of doing things like count calories because the process seems like a lot of work and somewhat unnecessary.  Lately, it seems that I’m stuck in a bit of a rut and quantifying various aspects of my life might be a helpful way to figure what elements of my life need work.  These high tech trackers seem like a pain-free easy way to go.

  1. FitBit Flex – Fitbit has a wide range of tracking products, but I’m partial to the bracelet design just because logistically it seems easier to handle and not lose.  With a clean, adjustable design and easy tracking via apps and your computer, this seems like a good deal.
  2. Nike+ Fuelband – What doesn’t Nike do well?  When it comes to sports equipment and attire for the average person, Nike seems to do a good job.  I generally find their products to be well designed and well made.  Of course I would be happier if they made more products in the good ol’ USA, but I can’t argue with competitive pressure either.  Their bracelet has a sleek design with light up LED messages and tracking that seems more interactive than the other trackers.  I think the extra lights might be a much for my sensibilities, though.
  3. Jawbone UP – Jawbone has a sleek and very well designed bracelet with no real lights or trackers to speak of.  The bracelet seems less obtrusive than the two above, but the drawback is that there is no wireless syncing and it’s a bit pricier.

There are a lot of fitness bands out there on the market, but these seem like the three trackers that I would consider should I go ahead and buy one.

Do you have a fitness/lifestyle tracker?  If so, which one and what do you like about it?

One Change

One change can go a long way.  I just read Domestic Man’s post about Easing into a Paleo Diet and he has some great advice on how to make some small changes to get yourself eating better.  Reading his post got me thinking about how even one change can really improve a person’s health.

Back in the days of yore, I had a classmate in college who between freshman and sophomore year lost a good amount of weight.  When someone asked her how she did it, she said that she cut out soda completely along with some other dietary changes.  She remarked that just by cutting out soda, including diet soda, she lost 10 pounds.  That was before she made the other dietary changes.  I remember thinking one simple change could make a big different.  I also remember thinking, “Soda really is evil!”

Fast forward to the present day.  I had a patient that I was seeing and I asked him about his diet and he said that ate a lot of meat and drank a lot.  He had already quit smoking, so I decided to ask him to make two changes – stop drinking and eat more vegetables.  He readily agreed to try it.  I think that instead of asking him to stop eating meat, which appeared to be a huge part of his culture, I just asked him to add something to what he was already doing.  Stopping alcohol might be a bit harder, but I figured I had a window of opportunity and asking for two changes didn’t seem like a whole lot.

Contrast giving that kind of advice to giving the kind of advice that I’ve heard most people give other people.  You need to eat better.  Well, I think most people know that, but when you give advice in general terms, people become overwhelmed.  Those people start to feel guilt that they aren’t eating better and they can’t seem to ever get to the point where they are eating better.

Writing this gives me an idea for creating a hierarchy or a list of nutritional advice that’s focused on getting people to actually make a positive change that could be used in the medical setting.  I don’t agree with a lot of the nutrition advice that’s being doled out in physicians’ offices, but I think that things like eat more vegetables is something that we can all agree on.

Lots to think about.

I’m interested in other people’s experiences with nutritional advice and interactions with the healthcare system, so leave me comments.

Life Without Internet at Home

Moving is a hassle that I hope that sometime in the next few years I won’t have to deal with anymore.  I’m getting tired of moving every year.  Even with my paltry amount of items, being a single woman makes moving yourself rather difficult.  I’d hire movers if I had that kind of financial latitude, but with the federal government making educational loans a losing game for students, I’m not even close to having anything resembling financial latitude.

I could keep ranting, but I’ll spare you, dear reader.  The subject today is less technology at home.  

Currently, I have yet to order Internet at home.  I’m not terribly happy about the options from the local cable provider, which have changed considerably since I last ordered Internet, and there are still a lot of other issues that need straightening out before I can get to worrying about Internet.

In the meantime, it’s either the school lab, or some other location with wifi.  Currently, most days it’s a lot of coffee shop time.  The good thing about this is that instead of wasting time on the Internet doing things that aren’t productive, I tend to be a lot more productive with my time on the Internet when I know it’s limited to the time I’m spending at the coffee shop.  My priority list goes something along the lines of pay bills, do homework and research necessary for school, and then do things like blog.  As you can see by the lack of posts lately, blogging doesn’t even usually make it into the list of things I get done while I have Internet.

As much as I’d like to make life without internet permanent, I will eventually get around to getting internet service, it’s just low on my priority list for now.  I would like to end up doing work at home instead of having to go out and spend money on drinks I don’t need to be drinking, but it’s working for now since I need the coffee to get me through the day lately (don’t even get me started on how bad that is for me.).

The point is though that I would eventually like to get to a point in life where I am less connected electronically and online and more connected to the earth and people.  It seems like a good goal especially considering that the powers that be are finally admitting that cell phone use will in fact give you brain tumors (and kill you).  You can even be allergic to excessive amounts of electromagnetic radiation.  So yeah…the whole go back to the natural things and get connected to life and not technology seems like a good idea for everyone, not just granola crunching, tree huggers.  

Just some random, on the fly thoughts.  And now I must fly the coffee shop here and get on with other things in life.

Hope everyone is well and staying cool in the summer!


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.



Tuesday Trivia

I’m on a roll with the alliterative day of the week titles…sort of…it’s only day 2.

In any case, here we go.

  1. I need to eat more. Bet you don’t hear that often.  I haven’t been all that interested in cooking or food for that matter, so I haven’t been eating as much as I normally do. There are a bunch of recipes I want to try out, but I’m feeling a bit lazy.
  2. I’ve made chicken soup at least three times in the last two weeks. That’s how lazy I’ve been feeling. Chicken soup is something that I can do without consulting a recipe.  Chicken soup is also something that I can eat for a few meals.
  3. I had rice the last couple of days. Those of you that have been around for a bit know that I follow a paleo/primal (I think I’m going to start using ancestral) lifestyle/diet.  For most people that means no grains.  This is the first time I’ve had rice in a very long time.  I can’t always avoid rice because I’m Asian and people freak out if you say you’re not eating any rice.  That being said, eating rice doesn’t really bother me that much.  I just find that I feel less satisfied if I eat rice.  Even though I can eat rice without a problem, I can’t eat wheat.  Wheat makes me feel ridiculously sleepy…fall asleep at the wheel of the car sleepy.  No good.
  4. Drinking beer seems to be okay.  Oddly enough, even though eating wheat throws me for a loop, beer doesn’t seem to do the same thing.  When I asked my knowledgeable paleo friend about it, he said that beer has the same effect as wheat for him.  So, this is an oddity of mine.  Not that I’ll be downing a lot of beer.  Just an interesting observation.
  5. My proteins this week have been chicken and seafood.  I love seafood.  The only problem is getting fresh, wild caught seafood.  Not that easy.  That’s why I’m usually eating something else for protein.  Since I didn’t visit the farmers market this past week, I’ve been eating my frozen seafood stash from my freezer and making chicken soup. 

Monday Musings

  1. Getting enough sleep makes a difference. I always knew that I would feel better if I could just get enough good sleep. I’m a notoriously light sleeper, which doesn’t make for a well rested person in the morning. Lately, I have been sleeping without an alarm clock. I get up when I wake up and not when the alarm rings. I feel less stressed in the morning and I get all the sleep my body craves. I’ve also been sleeping better since I started eating paleo. So more sleep and better sleep has made a difference. Someone even said that I looked better, but they couldn’t tell me why. I’ll take it.
  2. I’m most productive in a coffee shop drinking a cup of coffee with whip cream on top. Between the caffeine boost and knowing that other people are around, I get stuff done. The only problem is that this habit adds up. I guess lost productivity is money down the drain, too.
  3. Speaking of coffee, I’d really like to break my caffeine habit. The sad truth is that I really do feel and function better with some coffee or tea. I only started my caffeine habit back up over the last few days. 
  4. I love to fly. I took a trampoline aerobics class on Friday and I loved the feeling of flying through the air. If you get a chance, try it sometime. It’s a great workout and you get to fly!
  5. I’m out of shape. Yup, that class on Friday proved how out of shape I am. Whoops. I’ve tried to get outside and walk most days, but I’ve neglected weight training and other forms of exercise for far too long. There is also seemingly very little snow everywhere this year, so snowboarding is out. (Snowboarding is also out because lift tickets cost a good amount and I’m poor this year.)
  6. Technology makes me feel confused and fragmented. Technology gives me ADD. Yes, I know that’s not very politically correct, but with smart phones, laptops, tablets, and the like, I get distracted very easily and get nothing done. The feeling is really unpleasant and makes me tired. I leave the computer home usually when I go out to do work. I feel much better the less I use my computer.
  7. Sometimes you just have to treat yourself. When I’m stressed out, I obsess about very small things and become even more stressed. The way out is to treat myself in some way. Usually, I like to get a massage. I get a guaranteed three good nights of sleep when I’ve seen my massage therapist. A cheaper method is a bubble bath or some sort of beauty product infused soak in the tub. 

Paleo Lessons For All

I know that not every person agrees with the idea of eating paleo.  However, I think that the basic threads of what paleo living is can help anyone improve their eating and health.  They are basic ideas, but ideas that we often forget out of convenience and busy-ness.

So here is my list lessons from paleo that I think everyone can benefit from.

  1. Eat high quality foods – Paleo encourages people to eat high quality foods.  Eating locally and organically is the motto of paleo eaters the world over.  Furthermore, there is a focus on eating grass-fed, pastured meats whenever possible.  Don’t forget that we want wild caught seafood, too.
  2. Cook your own meals – While I’m sure it’s entirely possible to eat paleo without cooking your own meals (whether by the fortune of having someone who will cook for you or a lot of paleo friendly restaurants in your neck of the woods), paleo encourages you to cook your own meals.  I never ate out much to begin with, but since becoming paleo, I eat out even less.  You don’t know what kind of junk you are eating when you eat out.
  3. Avoid processed foods – Yes, there are paleo processed foods.  However, paleo really encourages, fresh, home cooked eats.  All that packaged stuff, goes right in the trash can when do your pantry clean out and start eating paleo.  I know that stuff is easy to eat.  I went through a spree of being depressed and eating lean cuisines last year. I’m not proud of it, but committing to paleo, I don’t even dare.  I’d rather starve.
  4. Sleep – Being paleo (or primal or half a dozen other terms), is not just about eating, although that’s where it usually starts for most people.  Paleo is about a lifestyle and about thinking about how your body best functions.  Your body best functions with sleep.  Make is a habit and a priority to get enough good quality sleep every night.
  5. Exercise – You don’t need to get crazy and stressed over exercise (in fact that would be the wrong idea), just do some.  Walk, run, play tennis, ski…whatever it is that’s active and has you moving.
  6. Stress less – Lower your stress levels.  I’m pretty sure just about everyone can reduce their stress in some way.  My current stress less goal is to wean myself of excessive technology use.  Being constantly plugged in makes me crazy.
  7. Water, water, water – Drink a lot of it.  Don’t skimp and don’t adulterate it with sugars and whatnot.  Just drink water that tastes good to you.
  8. Listen to your body – If your body says sleep, don’t give it coffee.  Listen to that call and get some shut eye.  I know that some people have crazy jobs and responsibilities where you might have to caffeinate instead of sleep, but try to keep those moments to a minimum.

I’m pretty sure I had a lot more for that list, but that’s all I can come up with for now.  Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

Changing of the Seasons

Seasons are wonderful things.  It’s one of the things that I missed when I was living in the desert clime of California.  Yes, they have their own version of seasons, but I like the four seasons that you learn about in school.

Lately, though, I’m less of a fan of seasons.  Living in a place that has more snow than anything else along with terrible driving conditions and long hours at work, I understand why people develop seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

I’ve been trying to combat the lack of sunlight in my life with light therapy, but most mornings there isn’t enough time to sit in front of the light before heading out.  When I come home, I don’t want to be messing with my sleep at night, so light therapy, at that point, is out.

I’ve noticed that since the time change, my mood is less cheery and it takes a bit more in the mornings to get going.  Since I interact with people all day long having a good mood is pretty important.

I am also getting less exercise.  Since I leave when it’s dark and get home when it’s dark, I don’t get a chance to get outside for some running or walking, which compounds my lack of sunlight problem.  What’s worse is that as the season gets closer to winter, we get more clouds than sun anyway.

My eating is also out of whack, either from the hibernation instinct or just from the changing availability of produce.  I find myself less interested in food.

Obviously, life is comprised of a bunch of different factors, but thinking about season changes and the things that I like in my life since transitioning to a paleo lifestyle and mindset is interesting.  I definitely want to tweak things about my life to get more balance, feel better, and be happier.

I think that there will be some bigger changes and decisions to make down the pipeline when I wrap things up here with school.  I don’t see myself staying here as there are a lot of downsides and I’m keen to move back to a larger metropolitan area.  Who knew that I am actually more city girl than I’d like to admit?  I blame growing up in New York for spoiling me.

It’s a short week!  Do the happy dance!

Park Time

I need to have time to commune with nature, especially when I’m stressed out.  Being out in nature away from our crazy, technology driven lives is what I need to cope.  I often forget that.  When I’m at home, I know where to go.  I have a few favorite parks that I go to when I need some time away and I need to think.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a park.  I’ve been to the city park here, but when you’re walking with cars and there is a highway that has rushing cars right along one part of the path, it’s not exactly the relaxing respite that I’m looking for.

In an attempt to get some relaxing out in nature time, I had planned on going on a hike with a friend.  She ended up canceling on me at the last minute and I was torn between going by myself and not going at all.  In the end, I ended up venturing out on my own.  I got a good hour of time wandering around trails.  I got there early enough that I didn’t start running into people until I was back at the parking lot.

Now that I remembered that I need some outdoor alone time, I’m thinking that I’m going to start checking out all the parks in the area when I have some free time on my hands.  Definitely a better idea than turning on some online television and turning into a brainless zombie.