Sunday, May 5, 2013

What I've been up to and a shift in focus

It's been a really long time since I've written anything here, and even longer since I wrote anything of substance. So, I thought I would give you a quick rundown of what's been going on in my life.

1. I will be finishing my Masters in Instructional Technology at the University of Akron in August. I graduate on Saturday, August 17th and have orientation for a Ph.D. program at Kent State University three days later. My career has taken a huge turn. While it's all going really well, I am heading out into uncharted waters into a field I didn't even know existed 2 years ago. People keep telling me I'm really good at it, so I'm going to keep going.

2. As part of my Master's portfolio I started a second blog: An English Teacher Techie. The intended audience is 7th-12th grade and college teachers who want to learn about using technology in their teaching. Feel free to drop in and say hello.

3. February 1st was the official anniversary of me starting my vegetarian journey. In the past year I have learned a lot about food: what makes me feel good and what doesn't, how to vegetarian-ize just about any recipe, and how to eat at restaurants without unwanted surprises (Hint: almost all Mexican rice is made with chicken broth, and my stomach can really tell).

4. My son's father and I have decided that while my son's daycare does provide breakfast, lunch and a snack that we were unhappy with the food choices they were offering. But, since we love everything else about the school we decided to pack his food rather than finding a new daycare. And this kid has weird food preferences: He will eat coconut crusted shrimp with cocktail sauce and banana peppers straight out of the garden but he won't eat spaghetti-o's (the organic Trader Joe's kind) or rice in any form. 

5. From October-January I lost 20 lbs by meticulously counting calories and spending an hour in the gym two or three times a week. Then, I got really sick, and I switched jobs, and I started taking 3 grad classes instead of 2 like last semester, and I discovered Popcorners Kettle Corn chips (seriously, they must put crack in those things), and I've gained 5 of it back. I have always felt weird about my weight because while  I don't particularly hate the way I look, I have always really felt that my physical appearance is not something that defines me. 

But,  I started trying to loose weight because the last month I was pregnant I had to get a test every week to make sure the baby was moving as much as he should be. They told me this was because a miscarriage is more likely for obese women. I had known that most of my adult life that I wasn't skinny, but no doctor or anyone had ever used the bit "O" word or told me I needed to eat healthier and exercise. 

I was too pregnant at the time do worry about it, and then I was a new mom and didn't have time to worry about it. When I accidentally became a very strict vegetarian, the original goal was to eat healthier. It was my second of several monthly goals that ended up completely changing my life so much that I got overwhelmed and stopped making changes after the third (or fourth? I can't remember) month. I still don't eat meat and I still meditate (which had been another goal). 

But, there are a lot of crappy foods that are vegetarian. And Diet Coke is also vegetarian. And, while I am cutting back on dairy, I don't know if I will ever actually do the vegan thing, so cheese is still very much vegetarian (mostly, but that's a different post). 

So, I'm back up 5 lbs with no end in sight to how busy I am or a magical increase in being able to squeeze in hour long workouts. And I still cook constantly but end up eating cheese quesadillas and soft pretzels from Sheetz a few times a week. And I feel sluggish and tired and starting to get stomach aches again. It's time to get back on the self-improvement train and to further the things that I know make me feel good. 

So, rather than trying to make time for things that I know I will never have time for right now, I've got two new goals in mind for this month:
1) Stop eating when I'm not hungry
2) Take the stairs at work (I'm on the 5th floor) and go for a walk a few times a week. 

One of my favorite sayings is: You can't throw a bad habit down the stairs, you have to walk it down one step at a time. 

The big steps worked last time in a different context. It's time to start walking my impulses to eat when I'm not hungry and using my busy schedule as an excuse back down the stairs so I can gain control of my life again. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

How many calories do I need?

I stumbled across this as part of my new subscription to the Happy Herbivore meal plans (more to come on that, it was totally an impulse buy, so we will see).

This is something I have been looking for for years: something that will actually tell me how many calories I need every day.

Click through for you to try it.

Click to visit calorie calculator 

P.S. I guarantee you haven't been eating enough calories when you try to diet.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Stop doing things that don't make you feel better, and start doing things that make you feel good.

This ^ Very much this.

I recently had a conversion with one of my students. He has a severe medical condition, that I won't pretend to understand, which screws up his hormones and makes him chemically very prone to extreme anger. He had had a really bad falling out with friends and was telling me about how he feels like he has no coping skills.

For the first time, I told a student about my struggles with anxiety. Actually, this is probably the first time I'm telling the internet about my struggles with anxiety. That day it was timely because I had experience the first panic attack in over a year: it was so sever that I had to pull my car off the side of the road and sit in a gas station parking lot for about 10 minutes.

This used to be so common place I didn't every realize there was something wrong with me. This used to be the way I lived my life. But, at some point, I saw a doctor, and a therapist, and started meditating, and stopped believing that I was hopelessly inadequate (a.k.a. I let go of my Christian upbringing and because a Buddhist), and realized that there was more to life than living minute to minute doing anything that I could to not feel worse.

I completely understand how people turn to drugs and alcohol. If I hadn't had my teaching career planned out since I was 17 I might have too.

So, I was telling my student about this, and a few specific stories to emphasize the fact that I understand that when your body doesn't chemically work right that you feel powerless, and I came to this thesis:

Stop doing things that don't make you feel better, and start doing things that make you feel good. 

For me, the things that didn't make me feel better were staying up late and not getting enough sleep for work. Blowing off class. Cheating on someone who loved me very much (ohh...another internet first confession). I'm honestly surprised I made it past 23 sometimes.

Once I decided that I was tired of doing things that just made me not feel worse, I had to start the hard task of figuring out what actually makes me feel good.

Some of these things are:
1) Being open and real with my friends instead of having to put on a veil of perfection
2) Getting rid of people who only brought negative energy to the table
3) Running...Sorta. Actually, I hate running. I LOVE going to Fitworks and doing 3-5 miles on the elliptical while watching a movie)
4) Dating people who make me happy rather than people who would just make a good husband someday
5) Being a vegetarian
6) Meditating, and studying Buddhism, and being upfront about this with my students when I work at a Catholic High School. (They call me the soulless closet ginger...that's their cute way of saying I don't believe in heaven. I promise, its cute and fun and not demeaning).
7) Working. A lot. And not being a stay at home mom.
8) Letting Odin eat a happy meal once a week so I don't have to cook or clean the kitchen
9) Cooking good, healthy food for myself and for my baby
10) Making solid financial decisions, a.k.a. not falling into the "Went into Target, came out with a $112 Keurig" trap.

This past summer was really rough for me. It was the lack of work (teacher summer off, not unemployed) that just kept me inside my head. I realized that there were a lot of things that I needed to sort out, and it was scary and stressful and hard. But, I come to some pretty big conclusions about myself that have made me a much more authentic version of myself as well as made me much happier.

But, for some reason, when I started this school year in August I lost sight of most of the progress I had made in terms of identifying what made me feel like me, and, therefore, what made me happy.

Something happened today that brought this into focus for me. I won't go into it, because the specifics are irrelevant. The important thing is that I need to get back to the things that make me happy.

So, I canceled my OKC profile and canceled both of my first dates for this weekend. I found a doctoral program I have to apply for asap because I already have two leads about assistantships. I'm going to tell my current pretend teaching position that I am officially not coming back next year (though I may still try and coach). I'm going to spend more time with Sarah, and work really hard at adjusting to the new person she is. I'm going to to sort out some personal relationships that have been allowed to run away with themselves. And I'm going to do all those things above that I know make me happier than blowing off homework or ignoring my messy house to watch all of Firefly and Serenity in a weekend. And I'm going to do my homework on time.

I need to keep that 4.0 if I want to get into the program I want with the assistantship.

In the next few years you will be calling me Dr. Potter.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

I hate food.

I was sick from December 10th-ish until the week of January 14th. Monday, January 14th I threw up so much I was in the hospital. I don't think I ate more than 2000 calories that entire week. I was on medicine to keep me from throwing up more. 

I now am feeling better, and have an appatite again, but no food is appealing to me. I get hungry, and then get frustarated because I can't think of a single freaking thing that I want to eat. Monday I made pizza, and that was really good. That was probably the first thing since December 10th that I really wanted to eat, and that ship has sailed. I've wasted so much food it stupid. 

No, I am not anorexic. I do eventually eat. And, often when I eat something it does taste good. I don't know what the problem is. I feel like Liz Gilbert in Eat Pray Love when she says "I used to have this appetite for food, for life, and it's just gone. I want to go some place where I can marvel at something ... I'm going to Italy, India and I'm going to end the year in Bali." 

Well, yes, I want to go to India,and to Bali, but mostly to India. But, more than that, I want to adjust to all the change in my life and stop feeling so freaking anxious. (Wow, this post was supposed to be about food. How did we get here?). I know the reason I feel weird is that 1) I haven't exercised since the end of December 2) the last time I meditated was January 3rd-ish 3) I don't deal well with change (new job, new speech schedule, everything is all confused in my internal clock) and 4) I've been eating like crap because I just don't like food right now. 

So here's my plan:
1) Go to my meditation class tonight

2) Go to the gym tomorrow (it's my day off)
3) Cook THIS :)

Zucchini and Spaghetti Squash "Lasagna"
From Green Lite Bites

What better way to get over a food aversion than something that looks this amazing?