Monday, September 28, 2015

Diary 13: Birthday Cake

September 28, 2015 (not my birthday quite yet, just an early celebration)

I've been trying to eat less per sitting. I've been fairly successful over the past few days. The amount that I'm eating still makes me feel uncomfortable and ashamed. I feel huge.

For my birthday, I wanted one of those small five-inch Black Forest Cherry Mousse cakes from the grocery bakery, but they are $10 each *and* they were out of the flavor I wanted. Cake mixes are a dollar each, then three dollars for a can of cherry pie filling, and about two dollars for a can of whipped cream. That's what I decided to do for my birthday cake. Of course, I complained because I didn't want a big ol' 9" layer cake in the house considering how worried I've been about overeating.

Fortunately, Mom happened to spy a Duncan Hines "Perfect Size" cake mix. It was $3 as opposed to the $1 for a regular box cake but, in addition to the cake mix and the frosting mix, there was a little disposable pan included. So that came to $8 with the cherry pie filling and whipped cream--still less expensive than the $10 grocery store bakery cake if they'd had one on hand.

Anyway, to give you an idea of the size difference between the size a regular cake mix would make and the size that this "Perfect Size" mix would make, I took this picture.

Much better, right?? The box said it's meant to serve 2-4 people. I laughed because I used to eat the size on the left on my own in a 48 hour period. So thanks, Duncan Hines, for helping me with my quest to reduce my portion sizes and my overall sugar intake! I'll definitely look for this product again in the future.

I'm also happy to report that for supper I had the second half of my lunch and only a quarter of the cake. :-)

Today I'm thankful for:
--garcinia cambogia
--companies that aren't completely evil
--floss picks

Monday, September 21, 2015

Diary 12

September 21, 2015

2042: Although I had plenty of sleep last night, I was still tired all day today. Besides being sore from physical labor, maybe I had a bit of a hangover from the Tramadol.

We didn't do much today: ran a few errands, took naps, and watched two Star Trek movies.

Oh! How great is it to look in the mirror and see that a cold sore's almost gone and 20 minutes later feel a tingle as if a new one is coming up! @#$!$@%#^$&*(*&^%#@!!!!

Food run-down:

An egg, two pieces of bacon, coffee with milk, a pork chop, half a gluten-free Florentine pizza (crust made of rice, which I later found out is higher in arginine than lysine--should've been a no-no since I have this cold sore), another pork chop, a mound of steamed spinach with unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and some steamed summer squash with garlic & butter. Oh! And leftover strawberry ice milk.

I am very full tonight. I'm trying to wean myself off of omeprazole (brand name would be Prilosec). I've taken it for years at doctor's orders along with ranitidine (one of its brand names is Zantac) after a bout of suspected nutcracker esophagus (*snicker*). I think I've mentioned that before along with the fact that I have a hiatal hernia which probably contributes to my reflux. Anyway, we'll see how that goes tonight. I need to skip tonight and tomorrow night.

Tonight I am thankful for:
--Star Trek
--Mom not judging me for liking either and even participating in the Star Trek viewing. :-)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Diary 11

September 20, 2015

2126: It's been a long day. Up around 4:30, drove a few hours, mowed lawns all day, broke a string trimmer that doesn't belong to me, got rained on, ate more fast food than I should've, drove a few more hours, and now I'm home and showered, ready for bed.

Spent a lot of good time with Sisters 3 & 5 (birth order, not ages) and Mom today. So many laughs! Of course, I don't remember any of the situations clearly enough to relate them to anyone else. Even if I did, I'm probably too tired to write it right now.

I'm going to be really sore tomorrow from the lawn work. I had to take two Tramadols today for my feet. I haven't had a Two Tramadol Day in weeks.

Daily food run-down:
I had coffee with milk when I first got up, but I didn't eat breakfast until about 8:30 a.m. because I wanted something on my stomach when we began to mow. I didn't want to be ready for lunch at 9 a.m. I had a sausage/egg/cheese breakfast on a bun from Whataburger and iced water.

We had lunch around noon, and I had a Hunger Buster Junior from DQ and iced water. I wasn't trying to eat a small meal for weight loss purposes, I just didn't want a huge meal since it was so hot out and we still had a lot to do. Ordering that little burger reminded me that when I was thin I made it a habit to order kids' meals instead of full meals to help with portion control.

I drank three or four Gatorades during the course of mowing. It was humid & hot today--in the 90s--with barely a breeze. Good thing it was overcast now & then.

On the way home, we stopped at Whataburger again and I tried their little Whatachicken bites. They're basically the same thing as the chicken strips, only smaller than a McNugget. I went for the honey mustard dipping sauce. I didn't even eat a third of my fries, but I ate the Texas toast. I felt remorseful about that later. I didn't need that dang toast, I just like butter. I ordered a large unsweetened tea, but of course they screwed up and gave me sweet. I needed the caffeine, so I just drank it. I need to be more particular about checking orders before I move away from the employee. Immediately after realizing my tea was sweet, it dawned on me that I'd forgotten to order a kid's meal instead of a full meal. *sigh*

The good news in all of this is, even though my carb count was undoubtedly super high today, I did a better job at portion control than usual and also the only things I bought at gas stations today were gas and bottles of water. No chips this time, and still no sweets!

In the shower I was thinking about how I used to eat around 15 years ago compared to how I eat now. I lived overseas for seven years, and whenever I came home on leave, one of the main things I liked to do was eat at all the restaurants we didn't have overseas. When I finally moved back to the States, I immediately did the same thing--eating as if I were on vacation and wouldn't have access to all those fast food restaurants again for a while. Unfortunately, that never stopped. Add to that the fact that the antidepressants I was taking made me hungry. The listed side effects were nausea and weight loss. However, I was taught that if you don't have the flu and you're  nauseated, you probably need a snack. So whenever I felt nauseated, I would eat. And you know what? The nausea did subside when I ate. For about 1.5-2 hours.  I ate a lot.

Hopefully the realization about eating as if I'm on vacation plus not currently being medicated will help me break the cycle.

Tonight I'm thankful for:
--Soap & running water
--Clean pajamas
--Comfy beds

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Diary 10

September 19, 2015

We were up early to help some acquaintances with some lawn & painting projects this morning. We were pretty pooped by afternoon since we're not used to that much physical labor, so my afternoon mostly consisted of watching old episodes of Doctor Who to be in the spirit of the "Doctor Who season" even though I won't have access to the episode that aired today until tomorrow.

I had a surprise text from one of my sisters saying that she was nearby and wondering whether she could stay the night. The answer is always Yes, Of Course! She's been really good to me during my tough times, and she's fun to hang out with. We're going to work on the family land tomorrow (haha lawn work, not like farming or something) along with Mom and another of our sisters.

I had a bacon/eggs/coffee breakfast and just a pork chop for lunch. Super keto. lol Later I had a bit of the strawberry iced milk that I'd stashed in the freezer. Surprisingly, I didn't eat the entire stash. This medicine really does suppress my appetite. It's easier to tell the difference between eating for hunger and eating just to taste the food. I wish that would stay with me once I'm done with the treatment.

Supper was Mexican food with Mom & Sister 3, but I didn't have any rice & beans. Just a crunchy beef taco, a cheese enchilada, and guacamole salad. I did not eat my weight in chips, either. Still, not at all low carb. But I figure with the physical labor this morning and the physical labor tomorrow, I'm not going to beat myself up. And NO RICE & BEANS. That is a big deal. I count it as a triumph.

Today I am grateful for:
--Still being able to get up off the ground if I sit down, despite my weight and aches & pains
--Family that has kept me afloat & alive
--Laughter with people I care about
--Laughter in general

Good night.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Diary 8

September 17, 2015

I went through some stuff in my room today. I had many bankers boxes of papers and god knows what else all tossed in together and stacked in my room. Depression & anxiety does not play around. Its mantra is, "Fuck this, fuck that, you don't deserve to be able to see the carpet." I didn't exactly do a lot of filing, but I threw away lots of junk mail (YES I had junk mail from 2010) and receipts. I still have a dozen boxes to go. Egads, I know.

I finally FINALLY finished putting together my desk. I moved into this house in 2009. I have an L-shaped glass desk. I think I put together a half of it so I could have SOMETHING in 2010 or 2011. Today I finally put the entire thing together. There's so much room for activities!

I even found my bookends in a box! I put my study materials on my actual desk so that they can stare at me while I browse things online that will in no way determine my earning power.

Among the office supplies & old receipts in the boxes was a Queen box set, a compilation CD of the music they played at the Frankfurt Galaxy American football games in the late '90s, and a CD with about 15 pictures of a vacation I took with then-friends in 2003. So much fun listening to that music again and looking through those pictures! Great memories that I probably wouldn't have revisited today if I hadn't decided to find the junk mail to throw away in one single box.

We made pork chops & spinach for supper. That's all I had to eat all day besides coffee & milk. I consider it intermittent fasting. I wasn't hungry, so I didn't eat. I didn't miss the food. I hope I have more days like that. Maybe the pictures I found today will help remind me of what it takes to get back down to my 2001 weight (I'd already gained 15 lbs in 2003).

Tonight I'm grateful for being able to remember some good times. I can't remember them all, and I feel like I should be able to remember more than I do. I don't know if it was the decade of medications or the insomnia that they caused. In any case, it makes me sad. So I'm super grateful that I can remember some.

I'm also grateful for the odd day when I feel super motivated and not hungry. I don't know whether that's hypomania or the pills I'm on for my cold sore. Meh. Doesn't matter, still cleaned.

Take care.

Diary 7

September 16, 2015

0759: Today is Mexican Independence Day. I found this history in the International Business Times interesting:

"The origins of Mexican Independence Day date from 1810, 
when Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a priest in the small 
town of Dolores, issued El Grito de Dolores, or 'the Cry of Dolores.'"

The only context I'd ever heard the word "grito" in is that high-pitched cry you hear mariachis do, so that was insightful. (You can also hear it in the background of this Metalachi video, if you have more time.)

Anyway, good morning. Happy Independence Day if it applies to you.

I forgot to take out the trash, so there is a bag containing chicken bones inside the wheelie bin in the garage. That is likely to be super gross right now and will be off the charts by Saturday. I'm setting a reminder to take out the trash then. I also keep forgetting to turn up my alarm on my phone when I go to bed; it's no good that today's wake up call was the sound of a garbage truck picking up my neighbor's trash and reminding me that it's too late to dash out and put out my own.

Grateful for: A working immune system.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Diary 6

September 15, 2015

0922: I feel worse today. Everything inside the right side of my head feels vaguely swollen & achy. I'm running a low-grade fever. My throat is sore, but I'm not sure whether it's from something I'm fighting or having to swallow those monster Lysine supplements. I'm still using Abreva every two hours. I can't imagine that I will get through this on only one tube, and those suckers are $20 each.

An old friend from about 20 years ago contacted me, and we have been emailing back and forth a bit. I'm dropping little hints that I'm not the same person I was then. I weigh way more, I'm not nearly as active, and I don't even have a paying job right now. I have not even broached the subject of politics. I'm probably not going to let it get that far. I am not very good at keeping up with friends, and he lives far away, anyway. Which is for the best, in my opinion. No offense to him, but I'm not interested. I'm not interested in much of anything, to be honest.

I used to use sex as a motivator. When we ran in basic training, I would take my mind off of it by fantasizing about cute guys. In my 20s and 30s, I would use the possibility of bringing someone home as a motivator to clean my apartment (not one-night stands, I would go out with groups of coworkers and someone I'd had my eye on would inevitably be in the group--bringing someone home would always result in dating or a friends-with-benefits situation). These days, I can't even imagine getting involved with someone. I've been single & celibate for about a year and a half. I'm fine with that.

I was about to say, "relationships take too much energy," but then I thought, "what else am I using that energy for?" Funny, right? Not a goddamned thing. So I guess that makes me lazy, not efficient.

Speaking of laziness, I have a full weekend of lawn work planned. When I say "a full weekend," I mean two mornings in a row. We are considering going to the Home Show at the Alamodome on Friday just to get out of the house. Oh my gosh, I just remembered that simply walking from the parking lot is about a quarter mile, never mind walking around inside then walking back to the car. Maybe I'll try to dissuade Mom from going after all. I should never have suggested it to her. I feel so bad for her having to live with rheumatoid arthritis. Here I am laid up because of a cold sore. Geez.

1237: You may have noticed that I'm not staying off of Twitter during the hours I'm supposed to. I have lots of excuses for that, but I'm sure I've covered them already. Anyway, I've been feeling unmotivated and sick. So I'm doing two things today to get unstuck:

1. Listened to an episode of the  ProYou Podcast. I haven't listened to it in a long time, but I really like the kind approach that Tom Deters & John Moretti take to educating listeners about fitness.

The episode I chose to listen to today is #14: Food Addiction. After explaining that sometimes overeating isn't just about a lack of self-control, they encouraged people who might have food addictions to seek professional help to address the underlying issues that lead to overeating. Once they wrapped that topic up, they talk about the dangers of overindulging in sugar and sodium.

Hearing what they had to say about sugar reminded me that between 2012 and 2014 I had lost a lot of weight and felt way better when I cut way back on sugar. I've already begun cutting back again (obviously, I mean post-Great Cheesecake Binge of 2015, a.k.a. GCB15) by not buying bread, staying away from obvious sweets, and avoiding the temptation to eat handfuls of semi-sweet morsels straight from the bag in the freezer. We've also been making suppers that don't include a starch. But the key is consistency (as Tom & John preach often).

Tom & John suggest that one way to keep yourself accountable is to choose a number of carbs you'll eat for the day, then stick with that. I used to read a lot of the Keto subreddit, and their recommended limit is 20-50 grams (net) of carbs per day. I met a woman once who had low-carb'd her way down from a weight of 300-something pounds, and the limit she set for her self was 100g (no idea whether it was net or gross).

I'm not sure what's right for me yet. My labs were actually better after I quit extreme low carb and had gained back all my weight. I think Keto probably isn't for me, and maybe I should be eating more of a South Beach Diet-type And I haven't been diligent about journaling my meals, so I have no idea where my daily carb count truly stands. I'm sure I "should" do that.

Anyway, listening to a single episode today gave me a shot of motivation to pay more attention to how my decisions today will affect my future self.

2. Registered for my next certification exam--September 30th is the day. Hopefully this will put the fear into me to actually study. I've written off the Net+ exam a bit, accepting the fact that I'm going to have to pay for my own retake. This takes a bit of pressure off of me while freeing me up to move on to study for the next exam since I have one voucher expiring each month through December.

The past three days I've posted "Diary" entries, they have probably been just chronicles of failures. I'm not going to look back at them right now since I actually sort of remember the past three or four days just fine. I will try to add an accomplishments TL;DR and/or a list of things for which I'm grateful. I'm sure that sounds very Oprah. Too bad. There is too much negativity and snark in my face when I read current events and social media and, as much as I adore snark, maybe it's not the best thing to pump into my eyeballs and brain right before bed.

Speaking of weight loss, mindfulness, and positivity, check out my Twitter pal Delores Curtis. She is 60 years old and lost 180lbs through diet and exercise. Judging by her frequent posts on Instagram and Twitter, she never lets herself forget that the daily choices she makes could put her right back where she started. Thanks for being an inspiration, Dee!

2205: Tonight I'm grateful for being eligible for VA healthcare. I wish nobody had to worry about how they would pay for their basic healthcare needs.

Diary 5

September 14, 2015

1012: Yesterday I drove Mom to a town a couple hours away for a funeral. I didn't buy any sugar snacks at the gas stations along the way. That is a major victory. I did eat a bag of those "Cheddar Bacon & Cheese" Lays, though, with diet soda. Anyway, still counting it as a victory. Also, I didn't eat breakfast (wasn't hungry) and didn't finish my lunch. I ate supper around 6 p.m. on the way home and didn't eat anything once I was home. Really, a very good day in terms of portion control considering how much I ate during the Great Cheesecake Binge of 2015.

We picked up the stuff for some kind of crock pot broccoli beef concoction for supper this evening, so portion control should be easy. I've never made it before, and from the recipe, it sounds just "okay."

I've decided that if I'm not hungry, I'm not going to eat. That is, I'm not going to eat breakfast just because I "should." I'm not going to eat everything on the plate just to avoid "waste." My fridge works fine, I'm sure it'll be ok to wait until lunch tomorrow to finish off anything I didn't want today. A way for procrastination to finally pay off. Ha!

I realize I haven't been keeping to my schedule thing I set up last week. It looks like I might have identified some important things, though:

  • I am more ambitious/motivated in the one to two weeks before my period. 
  • My appetite is off the charts during the week before my period.
  • My appetite is very low after my period starts.

Let's see if it holds true next month. Maybe I can figure out how to put that to good use.

The weather here was nice and cool this morning, maybe down in to the 60s. I didn't check to see for sure. It was cool enough to sprinkle a little pumpkin pie spice into my milk-splashed coffee, though! And you know what? It tasted good even without sugar or any sweetener.

My cold sore looks disgusting. I completely forgot that I have health coverage and that people actually go to the doctor and are written prescriptions for cold sores. So I'm goin

Monday, September 14, 2015

Diary 4

September 12, 2015

1118: Yesterday was the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, but I'm not going to talk much about that here. Suffice to say I mourned for all the innocent strangers lost on that day and that we should never forget and remain vigilant not only of homeland security but also of those who seek to infringe upon our rights in the name of homeland security.

The Great Cheesecake Binge of 2015 is over. My appetite is significantly smaller today than it's been in probably a month. I didn't want breakfast, and it's already almost lunchtime, and I don't feel hungry.

The day I bought the cheesecake (September 9th), I felt super tired and unmotivated. I've felt like that every day since. I couldn't figure out why, other than PMS. Then yesterday I woke up with the mother of all cold sores. Oh! You mean my body was fighting an infection PLUS PMS, and I didn't know it? Well, that makes total sense. So I broke out the Lysine and have begun dosing myself. I was in quite a bit of pain yesterday and still felt really tired but it has subsided a lot today, and I feel a bit better.

I'm hoping that by recommitting to what I originally set out to do, even if I have to recommit over and over, eventually it will stick. Like I said, at least the first few days weren't zero days. That's something.

Speaking of tweets, I saw another one this morning that made me say, "Wow!" It's an article on that begins, "Changing your environment is the easiest and most powerful way to change your behavior." It's not talking about running away from problems by moving to another city, though I guess that could work depending on the circumstances. It's partially talking about viewing your life objectively, as if you're judging someone else's life, so that you can advise yourself more wisely.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Diary 3

September 9, 2015

0828: Woke up at 0640 after hitting snooze for about ten minutes. I need to change my alarm to 0600 or maybe 0540 so I'll be up by 6.

Anyway, managed to knock my lamp off my bedside table, cracking the lampshade. Great way to start the day!

Remembered to take the wheelie bin to the street in time for the garbage truck.

Had an Herbalife shake with an extra tablespoon of protein powder & some espresso powder blended in.

Mom came down around 0730 and we found that the coffeemaker doesn't work anymore. I guess the heating element is borked. I checked online, and the articles I found said it might be a fuse, but that it's not something a normal consumer should try to fix. It costs just as much to have that fixed as it does to buy a new coffeemaker, so I went to, found the coffeemaker with the highest rating that also had a two-digit price, ensured it had the features I wanted, opened my Amazaon app, searched for the model, found a vendor who had tagged it as Prime, and ordered it with free two-day shipping. It all took about 15 minutes and way less gasoline than it would take driving from store to store to find one that kinda sounded ok.

I also remembered to spray the wasps' nests that I found on the fence post when I mowed the other day. I think I screwed up, because at least one of the nests was mud daubers. I should've left it alone since the yellow jackets seem to have driven the mud daubers out of their usual haunts this year. I shouldn't feel so emotional about it. I'm sure there are plenty of mud daubers in the field behind the house.

Anyway, I'm only an hour behind my schedule today instead of two. Yesterday when I realized that I was beginning to internalize the material I've been studying, I knew it would be easier to get out of bed this morning. Today is the first day since I've begun this journey that I have hit snooze instead of just turning off the alarm and continuing to sleep until the dogs woke me up for breakfast.

1411: Jesus. After the last entry, I did pretty well. Did some "exercising"--that is, I danced to the Dance Cardio station on Pandora for half an hour--then showered. After that, I took some progress pics for PocketDerm and answered an email from a lady who is a good contact for job hunting. That led to getting lost in the internet job search pit for a while, which made me depressed and hungry, so I ate lunch and began to feel really tired.

I decided to lie on the couch for an hour and a half. I even set an alarm. Did I get up when the alarm went off? No. Instead I googled a couple things I was curious about, Tweeted one of the things, then absentmindedly began to retweet stuff. OOPS. Caught myself, closed Twitter. Whew. That could've taken up hours.

Now I'm sitting here wondering why I feel so dang tired. I woke up a few times last night, but I had a decent amount of sleep. Fitbit says it added up to about nine hours. NINE HOURS, and I feel sooo super sluggish. WHY???? I need to go back to low carb. This is ridiculous. I can't remember whether I took any Xenadrine this morning, but it's too late in the day to take it now. I definitely took my multivitamin & (doctor-advised) Vitamin D supplement. I took an iron supplement yesterday, so my next dose is tomorrow; low iron shouldn't be the issue. I haven't been eating a lot of sugar. I've had maybe one small handful of semisweet morsels a day--if any--because I'm premenstrual and I was feeling sorry for myself. Now I want cheesecake. Maybe the sluggishness is due to being premenstrual. In any case, I might go for the cheesecake. I want a big one, and I don't feel like sharing. I want cherry pie filling on top. And a big glass of unsweetened iced tea to go with it.

I guess I can count corn, rice, mashed potatoes, and bread in the sugar category. And regular peanut butter. OMFG and those shakes in the morning. I'm a ditz. And yes, I was journaling this stuff in MFP. Monday: 241g carbs. Tuesday: 204g (plus a handful of semisweet morsels that I didn't journal). Today: 78g so far. That's not a lot, is it? I mean, it's not low carb or keto, but it's not crazy. I've been eating similarly (not journaling) for weeks, so I don't think it's any kind of keto induction that's making me sluggish.

 I was hoping to gradually make my meals smaller and change the ratio of carbs to lower carb foods. Maybe I need to just stop eating carbs. But I do want that cheesecake first. If only I could muster the energy to drive to the store.

September 12, 2015

Postscript: Bought a 16-slice cheesecake & three cans of cherry pie filling. Ate it all in less than 48 hours, minus the two pieces & their corresponding pie filling that Mom wanted. I didn't study at all on September 9, September 10, or September 11.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Diary 2

September 8, 2015

0830: I'm up. Didn't sleep well. Woke up hungry around 0115. Ate a peanut butter sandwich.

0955: Fell down the "job search browsing" well. 

1132: Danced for about half an hour, did five sets of ten crunches, and did four sets of ten counter push-ups. Probably only the last two sets count since my form was wrong for the first two. Showered. I kept getting side-tracked this morning looking at job posts online, lamenting that I'm not qualified. Yet I'm still procrastinating studying.

1523: Studied after last entry. Didn't break for lunch til about 1430. Had leftover curry/rice/corn and a salad (romaine, tomato, cucumber, red onion, black pepper, ranch). I need to make more of an effort to cut back on carbs as I seem to have lost all motivation to study after lunch.

September 9, 2015

Studied quite a bit yesterday. Things are starting to click, but I have a long way to go. We had supper at 6 p.m. We had fried chicken (just skin-on, bone-in wings, deep fried with no breading), steamed okra, and leftover mashed potatoes for supper. I don't know why it seems so important to journal what I ate. Anyway, went to bed at 8 p.m. Fell asleep pretty easily, but then woke up hungry at 10 p.m. Had a hard time going back to sleep, but I finally did. No idea what time it was.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Diary 1

September 7, 2015

0812: I came up with a schedule. Obviously, it is taking as much effort to stick to as I thought it would (and dreaded), because I totally turned of my alarm this morning and am just now having breakfast. Breakfast, by the way, is an Herbalife shake with espresso powder mixed in. While it does contain sugar, it is not a huge meal, and that is what I'm going for right now: portion control. No, I don't sell Herbalife. I did use it to lose 30 lbs once, though, so I still have some lying around. Anyway, here's the first draft of my schedule.

See, it's past 8 a.m., and I'm having coffee/breakfast and blogging rather than studying. BUT I did close Twitter at 8 a.m. in accordance with the rule I made yesterday of no Twitter, Netflix, or TV between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. AND yesterday I did not use Twitter or Netflix (actually, it turned out to be Amazon Instant then Netflix) until 6 p.m.

We had chicken curry, rice, and corn (for sweetness to go with the spice) for supper last night. I overate. Two bites into supper, I realized I should've served mine in a smaller bowl rather than the soup bowl I used. Then, after I finished the bowl, I had seconds that consisted of about a third as much as I had the first time. I guess that might be some kind of progress, but I really should've started with a smaller helping the first time. The good news is I didn't feel miserable when I finished, and I put away all the food and washed dishes as soon as we finished eating. That is new! Thanks to not being enticed by Twitter, maybe? It also seemed to help that we ate around 6 p.m. and I went to bed (well, went to the shower) at 8 p.m., so I didn't have awful reflux when I climbed into bed.

I do take reflux meds every single night. A few years ago, I had an episode of what my doctor guesses was nutcracker esophagus (the name of which cracks me up to this day), and prescribed me basically a daily dose of Zantac and Prilosec (I've since switched from Rx to OTC as my new doc says it's cheaper and just as effective). He said I would have to take it forever to prevent that happening again. So every night, I take both. At one point, I was able to taper off of Prilosec when I'd lost about 25 lbs, but I've gained some of that back. I have ten pounds to lose before I'm at that weight again. My current doctor had suggested that I try to taper off of one or both because she suspects that they're interfering with nutritional absorption (no clue whether I'm saying that right). But I have a hiatal hernia as well as that history of the nutcracker esophagus (hehe), so I am not sure whether I'll ever be able to discontinue both.

It's taking longer to finish breakfast than I thought it would because of the ice I put into the shake and also because I've been typing. Oh, well.

My front yard is looking crummy, so I'll probably mow this morning. Hopefully the dew has dried enough by now (0841).

I am literally two hours behind my schedule at this point. 

1000: Finished mowing & edging the front yard. w00t! Shower time.

1041: Weighed in at 155.6 today. I'm officially back down to my July '15 weight. I was 164 in January. I'd gained back a bunch of weight after a break up in May '14.

1216: I actually studied. Time for a quick lunch, then I have to drive Mom to fill her prescriptions.

1242: I had last night's leftovers. I remembered to use a small bowl and didn't even pack it full of food. lol WIN. Had time to put away the dishes & load the dishwasher, too. Resisted the urge to browse Twitter while eating & browsed job listings on my Dice app instead.

1314: Waiting at the pharmacy for Mom to order her Rx. When I was studying, I realized how much I've forgotten. It's discouraging. I felt like I was drowning.

1340: Wandering around Walmart waiting for prescriptions to be filled, I feel very depressed, almost to the point of tears. My brain is replaying crap from 4yrs ago, things that I normally distract myself from thinking about with Twitter, Netflix, or podcasts. Things I can't change & may never be able to correct. Plus, I'm frustrated with Mom's weird possessive hoarder contrarian attitude. She needs pliers & a hammer. I told her I have extra in the garage she could literally have to keep for herself forever, but she ignored me, put pliers in the basket & continued looking for a hammer. Asshole. I have to remember I'm premenstrual & have a shorter temper today. But it always pisses me off when she unnecessarily buys brand new items to bring into my house when we both have histories of problems with clutter. I know she's thinking that she doesn't live with me, but in reality she does. I guess I have some problems with reality, too, but that doesn't give me patience when she buys stuff. I'm so frustrated.

1530: Back from Walmart with groceries, Mom's meds, and PLIERS in tow. I'm making meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and spinach for supper. When we got home around 2:40, I was looking at LinkedIn and some other recruiting websites (Modis, TriQuest, Volt). It's not looking good for me unless I can get these certs. I feel hopeless. Volt had a career fair ("interview on the spot!") listed on their site, but it only showed the date and a hint that it was for help desk techs, nothing about where it would be held. It had a little apply button, so I clicked that to send them my resume. If I don't hear anything about it by tomorrow evening, I'll email Art Mata, the local contact for Volt Military. At least I know it's on September 14th.

1551: Signed up for a Mission Continues volunteer event on 9/19. Maybe I can network there.

2030: Overate at supper. Froze the leftover meatloaf. I bought some salad stuff so I can eat a bigger lunch tomorrow so hopefully I don't feel ravenous by supper time. Tomorrow's a new day. It'll be better.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Procrastination and solidifying structure in one's own life

Writing about this subject may be another means of procrastination. But I want to put this out there so that if I fail, at least there is a record of me having tried, or maybe some of the compiled thoughts will help someone else. Besides--you only fail if you never try again, right? Right?

I don't consider myself to be self-disciplined at all. This may come as a surprise to people who know that I served "honorably" with the military for many years; that I own a home and keep my lawn semi-groomed; that I have well-fed pets; that if I wear a piece of clothing out of the house, it is most assuredly clean, dry, and serviceable; that my car is fairly well-maintained; and that much of my coursework for the degree that I finished last autumn was completed online. That last one is the one that really gets people. "You took and passed how many online classes? Oh my gosh, you must be really self disciplined!" No, there are plenty of external motivating factors in all those cases.

Most of the time, though, I have a hard time seeing reasons for motivation and reaping that "just do it" feeling until it's too late. But that isn't what this post is about. This post is about distractions and habits.

Over the years, I've seen several articles about internet addiction and social media addiction. Some people describe their Netflix viewing as "binge watching." I am not a scientist and, if it is possible to be addicted to these things, I'm not sure I meet the criteria for addiction. I have recently begun to come to grips with the thought, though, that my overusing these leisure outlets is negatively impacting my life. If not negatively impacting it, then it is at least hampering my progress. I don't blame anyone but myself.

Twitter and Netflix were absolutely necessary to my survival during a time in my life when I couldn't get out of bed in the morning. I wasn't seriously contemplating suicide, but I didn't want to live anymore, either. I found so many wonderful people on Twitter who understood that, and I was able to joke with them about it and share coping mechanisms. I'm forever grateful for the lifeline Twitter gave me. Netflix was also wonderful because I could immerse myself in characters' lives and forget mine. Lots of mindfulness proponents might disagree with me, but escapism was and is a huge coping mechanism for me against anxiety and clinical major depression.

And it's not just escapism. I read an article recently that mentioned that viewers can form para-social bonds with movie & TV characters. So basically, a combination of social networking and Netflix has acted as a stand-in for in-the-flesh socializing for me. For years. I think I needed that at one point when I couldn't see or feel hope and had no energy, inclination, or money to leave the couch, much less my house. But more and more often now, I feel like it's not enough.

My major depression is in semi-remission, so I think I should use this opportunity of the leg-up out of the pit to try to make my life better while I can. Statistics say that I will experience another devastating episode of major depression sometime in my life, so I need to make hay while the sun peeks from behind the clouds.

About a month an a half ago, I ran across a comic ("Is That Not Worth Exploring" by James Rhodes, illustrated by Zen Pencils)--probably on reddit--that made me think. It deals with identifying the unimportant stuff you spend time on and replacing those activities with something meaningful. At least, that's the way I interpreted it. I set the URL to the comic as the pinned tweet on my Twitter profile, hoping that more people would see it and be inspired. Of course, I've not taken Rhodes's advice, but I do think of his words once in a while and sorta hate myself for not doing anything. It has made me think, though.

Lately I've been wondering, "what did I do with my leisure time before I had internet access at home?" And then I realized, "oh, I don't just browse social media and watch Netflix during leisure time. I also do it while I'm supposed to be doing other stuff, like studying, housekeeping, applying for jobs, etc."

As you may know, I am overweight. I like to eat. Most days I eat many times when I'm not even hungry, and then I feel physically and emotionally awful. I mean, yes, I get a mood boost from the food, but then I am upset with myself because I know that overeating leads to weight gain. At one point, I decided to look into Overeaters Anonymous. I thought, "how can OA possibly work when the whole idea behind AA (on which it's based) is abstinence from the substance? Everyone NEEDS food." Turns out that OA's definition of abstinence is only eating planned meals and snacks. It gives a structure. That made sense to me. I tried it for a while on my own (I have never attended an OA meeting), but suffice to say I would not have earned any sobriety coins. I can still see that it makes sense, though, and could work for me. I know that because imposed structure worked for me in the military for many years. The problem is that if I'm the one trying to impose the structure upon myself, I am too lenient with myself.

So here I am, recognizing that I've been making horrible use of my time and that I need structure. I've had way too many zero days, especially in the past four years. But what should I do? Where should I start?

I think I should instill new habits. I'm in an enviable position right now, one where I do not have a job to go to every morning, so my schedule can be anything I want as long as I'm moving toward my goals (and as long as the schedule doesn't cost more money--I'm on a tight budget). You might hear that revamping one's entire lifestyle can be stressful, and that each little habit should be overhauled one at a time. But I have plenty of zero days in the bank to show me that even if I fail on changing most habits every single day, I will still have done more in a few months than I have in the past four years. So why not change everything at once? Fuck it, let's go.

Everyone's probably heard or read that it takes 21 days to instill a new habit. This, obviously, has been contested by psychologists and life coaches, so I'm not going to make this a 21 day challenge. This will be over a few months, starting today and going through December 31, 2015, at least. Let's see what I can accomplish.

Like many of you, I love lists. I love making them, I love checking things off, I love running across them in a junk drawer years later and laughing about how many things I didn't check off and that seem trivial in retrospect. In this case, I don't need a list because the number one thing on my list is studying. Everything except fitness & housekeeping seems to hinge on money.

Since I've already identified how much I rely on Twitter & Netflix to distract me, I'm going to say that I will no longer be on Twitter and will not watch Netflix (or regular TV) between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. (local). This will probably seem ridiculous to people who have no problem with this stuff but, in my case, this is absolutely necessary.

I will probably spend the rest of the day bouncing between studying and making new rules/revising my daily guidelines/creating Excel spreadsheets to track everything. Which is more procrastinating--unless it works. *squints at the screen*

My brain is panicking a little right now about staying off Twitter. "How will I know what's happening???" I have to keep reminding myself that

  1. It's not forever, I'll check in in the morning & evening
  2. I have emergency alerts set up on my phone if we need to evacuate for weather or anything.

I'm reminded of basic training when we had no access to news of current events whatsoever. At some point, one of the women in my group remarked that it would be great if we could have access to newspapers. The answer given was that our being sequestered and away from the outside world was temporary and that outside news would not benefit our training. Hopefully, these thoughts will hold me over and calm my nerves.