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? 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

No spend October: Intro and Update

Apparently I'm not the only one doing a no-spend October. Mallory, over at From California to Kansas is also doing it. Her rules are more straight forward: no "shopping for fun". My purposes are a little different, so I thought I would explain. 

Why Am I Not Spending Money In October?

Partially because I have become a hoarder of on-sale organic cereal, frozen veggie entrees, and soup (and not just cans, but the big, half gallon cartons that would take me a week to finish by myself. I have something like 7 of them). Partially because I am pretty well stocked in my new apartment and don't want to start buying things I don't need. Partially because I am already 95% done Christmas shopping (though, somehow I forgot my sister's birthday which is October 29th, so I'm gonna have to figure something out there). Partially because I have enough clothes that I can make it two weeks with out washing anything, but this also means that laundry day 1) sucks and 2) costs more than a role of quarters...and that's just not a workable thing. And, partially because I really want to buy a nice DSLR, which I don't need and wouldn't know how to use well enough if I did have one to justify the expense.

But, mostly, it's because I did really well when I was pregnant living on a $750 a month salary. Since then, however, I have let my lifestyle inflate and am not doing a good job with my finances. I have maxed out my credit card again (it has a $500 limit for a reason), though I am doing well at paying off the bill. I have taken on all the expenses of an apartment, and while I CAN afford it, I can't afford to screw around with my money like I tend to do. Yes, $46 for 6 pairs of dress pants at the thrift store is a good deal, but I don't NEED 6 pairs of dress pants and I sure as heck don't need 6 more pairs to have to deal with washing and ironing. 

So, here are the rules. 

1) No money on fast food. We don't eat a lot anyway, but a cheese quesadilla here and a Diet Coke almost every day there really adds up. 

2) No money on non-perishable groceries until I have used up the amount that I have hoarded thus far. I am only going to buy milk, cheese, a very SMALL amount of veggies (so I will use the cans I have) and bread.

3) No money on "stuff" throw blankets to match the pillows I just bought, no vacuum (mine is broken, but my neighbor lets me use hers so I shouldn't by one right now), no organizing baskets or sippie cups or anything else. 

Basically, I'm want to try the "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without". I don't see myself every truly becoming a non-consumerist like The Tightwad Queen herself, but the idea is romantic and I want to move towards that even if I don't care to ever be that crazy, I mean disciplined.

So, today is October 2nd. I did start yesterday, but I didn't write about it because I had a VERY long work day. How have I done so far?

I did a bad job yesterday and today and bought an egg and cheese biscuit from McDonalds for breakfast. The reason for this was that I don't have to be at work until 10 a.m. this year, but the baby needs to be at daycare by 8:30. So, it makes sense to sleep late, dress quickly, run out the door, and eat after I have dropped him off. However, I am getting to work late enough that I don't have myself mentally prepared to teach straight through for 5 hours (sometimes 7 if I have practice after school), so all around this is a bad idea. And I'm eating too much McDonalds. I'm thinking some breakfast burrito supplies might be necessary to curb this habit.

I also didn't get to go grocery shopping over the weekend (because I lost my wallet, which I still haven't found)  like I wanted to in order to get things that I needed to be prepared to start using the things I have. I don't have any yogurt, almost no cheese, nothing to put on the two pizza doughs I have in my fridge, etc. So, that is also on my list of things to do today. 

But, I went in Big Lots this morning to buy juice (Seriously, they have organic good stuff mixed in with all the crap, for super cheap prices) and only walked out with juice and a bag of veggie chips. I have a list for my shopping today and plan to stick t it. I also only have so much cash since my debit card is MIA, so that helps too. I really need to go back to a cash budget system. Maybe that will be my November goal.

So, I think I'm making progress, but I've still got a ways to go. And that's okay.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

October starts tomorrow, and I'm not prepared.

I have been writing recently about a few reasons why I am having a no spend October (mostly, I have been hoarding groceries and I am obsessed with McDonalds Monopoly). I had every intention of making nice lists and making sure had diapers and wipes and such to last through the month. I also wanted to sort my stash of groceries into meals and make a month long menu.

Well, that hasn't happened yet.

My son was in a wedding this weekend. His father and I kept looking at eachother and smiling during the rehearsal and reception. The silent thougth was "It isn't our kid being horrible for once!" Don't get me wrong, Odin is a very happy and mostly well behaved child. But, holy crap does he have a wild streak.

It was particularly adorable watching him try to blow bubbles. He knows how, he was just too excited and was holding the wand up in the air instead of up to his lips while he was blowing. 

But, the real moral of this story is that, somewhere in the two days I wore dresses and didn't carry a purse I misplaced my wallet. Awesome. So, my plan to show stockpiled diapers and such will probably not work out exactly. And getting ready for this wedding meant that I didn't go through and make menus like I wanted to. 

Regardless, I am still going to stick with my no spend October. 

I will keep you posted. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Confession: I love McDonald's Monopoly

Seriously, I love McDonald's Monopoly a little too much. I actually ate a hashbrown this morning (something I haven't done since I was pregnant 2 years ago) simply so I could get 2 more Monopoly pieces. Yesterday, I won a free medium fry with my morning Diet Coke, so I bought another medium Diet Coke with my free fry on the way home from school. 

Basically, what I'm saying is: I know it's stupid, but I love it. 

I wrote last week about how my plan for October is to not spend money. I'll get to a picture of my freezer later this week, but my obsession with McDonald's Monopoly is another reason I am going on a spending fast October 1st. Monopoly goes until October 22nd so cutting it off cold turkey next Monday is a much needed thing. 

Other food related confessions:
1) I hate whole wheat tortillas and am officially giving up on buying them. The spinach tortillas from Trader Joe's are pretty good, but I prefer the all white flour-crappy for  your digestive system white tortillas. This is only worth noting because I tried so long to like them and wasted so much money letting them go moldy. 

2) I don't like Greek yogurt. It is too sour. My doctor told me that it would replace just about anything I was missing from not eating meat, but I've never really put any effort into figuring out how to eat it because I was content not liking it. However, when I finally looked up the difference between regular and greek yogurt I have decided that I'm going to try and figure out how to add stuff to it so I like it. It's more expensive, and I have been trying to buy organic and ethically raised dairy products, but the nutritional benefits I think will be worth it. There will be a post about this soon. Just for the record, blueberries and honey do a pretty okay job of making it not too sour to deal with. 

3) I made crappy taco pizza Monday. The reason this is notable is that since I became a vegetarian I don't think I've tried one new recipe (or made one new thing) that I actually didn't like. I was very disappointed when I used salsa instead of tomato sauce that it just took all of the flavor out of the pizza. I used cheap Aldi's salsa, which I am not officially not a fan of anymore. I plan on making 25 lbs of tomato worth of roasted corn and tomato salsa sometime in the near future (it's almost winter, I should get on that if I want to use fresh local produce), so that might work better next time. I gave a pizza and a half to a friend last night because I couldn't make myself eat it. 

That's all for now. More to come on the reasons behind the no spend October and updates along the way are also in order.