August 5, 2009

I am stressed.

There, I admitted it. I think I’ve been denying that for a couple of weeks now. And since I’ve admitted it, I’m going to blog about it just to throw everything out there and maybe even feel better about things in the process. So, apologies in advance if this post is rant-y, but I need to deal with it before I turn into that whole bitchy, stressed out, no fun at all self that I become when I decide not to handle my stress.

Let’s make a neat little list: What am I stressed about? And how can I deal with each stressor?

Stressor number 1: Paying my fall term tuition.

What’s going on? Fall term tuition is due on my birthday near the end of the month. Joy. Happy birthday to me? Anyway, for the past 4 years I’ve been lucky enough to have my tuition covered by my amazing grandparents who set up an RESP to fund all the grandkids through school to make sure we didn’t end up in their position, unable to afford schooling. I’m so so grateful that they did this, but now I’m not sure I can claim anything from the RESP as I’ve accessed it for 4 years now. So I need to find a solution ASAP.

How do I fix this? 1) Talk to my grandparents and find out if I can still access any money (I’m just so nervous about this because they’ve already done so much and I worry they’ll think I’m asking for more handouts), 2) look into bank loans (eww) or 3) pay as much as I can afford to and beg my parents to help out. Hmm. I do have some choices and it’s something I do need to just DO as soon as I can rather than ruminating on it. The sooner I do, the sooner the stress is gone.

Moving on:

Stressor number 2: The job.

What’s going on? The thing stressing me about my job is the current lack of hours. Right now the lab is transitioning between research projects. Two have just ended (or are almost done) and another two are starting but not for a couple more weeks. Which means, aside from organizational stuff or random other tasks that don’t take up much time, there is little to do. Which meas the hours I claimed for the past two weeks are about equal to what I usual claim in one week. Yikes.

How do I fix this? Okay, deep breath here. I think I’m panicking mostly because I’m used to working 30-40 hours per week in the summer and now that I’m working less, it feels wrong. In reality though, I can sustain myself even on my current hours. I have enough in the bank for my next rent payment (almost two, really), so even if I don’t work for the rest of August, I will still have enough for September rent and several months of groceries. And that’s assuming the worst case scenario. Once the transition time is over, I’ll probably have plenty of hours if the last project was any indication. I’ll probably be in and out of schools/daycares and running gazillions of participants. I’ll probably end up complaining of too many hours at that point. So, all in all, I think I’m fine for hours and earnings. I just need to remember that I’m working part-time this year (about 15-20 hours per week) compared to not at all or piddly amounts (5 hours per week or casual work). I will be fine!

Stressor number 3: I’ve been feeling a little… out of control I guess… with regards to eating and exercise.

What’s going on? It’s not as though I’m eating everything in sight or not exercising. In fact, I am exercising but I’m having these ridiculous thoughts that I NEED to exercise every day or I will suddenly be fat again overnight. I’m shifting back into my old ways of feeling like I need to eat less on the days I work out. Ugh. And with eating… I am in a serious dinner rut. SERIOUS. I’m lacking kitchen inspiration like you wouldn’t believe. I need major recipes and I need to do some make ahead and freeze meals for those lazy nights so I don’t revert to simple but less healthy meals as I have been lately.

How do I fix this? I need to remember that I AM in control of my eating. I have the ability to make good choices and despite slipping up and being lazy a few times, I’m still doing fine. It’s all a matter of perception. Most people probably wouldn’t look at my food choices and think “Ew what disgusting eating habits, so unhealthy, blah, blah, blah”. I think that because of the stress in other areas of my life I’m maybe automatically assuming that my eating sucks too. And it doesn’t. Besides, one or two “bad” (but not even that bad, really) meals per week is not going to bring the weight back. I know this deep down. In terms of exercise, I think I need to tell myself the following: ‘umm, hello Val? You ran 4 freaking miles the other day. How do you seem to think you’re not working out enough? And exercising each day? Not a necessity. You didn’t even do that when you were losing weight! You worked out 4-5 times per week so what the heck is with this compulsion to work out 6-7? Chill! You are active and in shape. You do active things each day and even if you didn’t a day or two every now and then of sitting on your butt doing nothing all day is not going to bring the weight back either’.

Whew. I feel SO SO SO much better after getting that all out. I am doing fine. I need to remember that. I will figure out tuition and I have several options to consider so I’m sure something will work out. I have enough money even if I’m lacking hours at work. And I’m still making healthy choices 80% of the time and being active most of the week. I am in control of my eating and exercise and it shows on the scale. Have I gained in the past couple weeks? Nope, I’ve actually lost a little which is evidence that I’m just being too paranoid about my weight. I will get this under control and there is no way I’m going back to that restrictive past!

So, rant over, I do believe. If you read this whole thing, kudos. If not, that’s cool too. All in all, I generally feel better after blogging it out and that’s what this handy blog is here for right?


Setting goals

July 6, 2009

Today’s topic of the Summer Glow Boot Camp was setting goals. I am a goal-oriented person. Setting goals helps me stay motivated while doing tasks that sometimes seem pointless otherwise. For example, reading a 400 page textbook in 3 months is part of getting to my goal of finising my undergraduate degree so I can attend graduate school. So this type of exercise is right up my alley.

First step, three accomplishments that I’m proud of:

1) Finishing my undergraduate thesis.

This was a huge undertaking. I worked on this project for nine months and logged countless hours reading journal articles, applying for ethics review, budgeting my grant money, training my assistants, teaching kids reading skills, scoring reading assessments, entering data and finally writing the whole document! I really doubted my abilities to follow through at many points in the process but when I finished, I felt like I could take on anything!

2) Losing 40 pounds.

It’s more than just about the number. It’s about the lifestyle that came with it and how much healthier I’ve become. I feel stronger, healthier, more confident and happier overall.

3) Taking up running.

Running has allowed me to reach a whole new level of fitness. Being able to run makes me feel so empowered and strong. Each new personal best makes me feel amazing!

Step two, three goals I want to achieve in July:

1) Tone up.

I think this will make me feel better about my body as there are some areas that I nitpick for being too flabby.

2) Read my psychopharmacology textbook.

I enrolled in this class in second year as it was a special topics class not usually offered at the school. But unfortunately, after the first midterm it was kicking my butt! I ended up dropping it since I was afraid of failing it (and since my program is competitive and requires a B to B- to guarantee yearly progression, failing one class does matter a lot). However, I found it really interesting and would love to learn more to increase my knowledge!

3) Further my German skills.

I love German. So much. But during school I haven’t had much time to work on my language skills. Now that summer is here I want to commit more of my time to it with the goal of eventually being nearly fluent in it.

Step three, what type of deadline I’d like for the goals:

1) By August 1st I’d like to see my legs and stomach looking more toned. I’d also hopefully like to lose some inches!

2) I’ll give myself until September 13th (the day before back to school). The textbook is 1) long and 2) very technical in some parts so it’s not exactly light reading and I might need some time to finish it.

3) By September 13th, I’d like to have covered 2-3 more chapters in the German textbook I bought for my class last year. I think this would bring me to chapter 6 or 7 in the book, just a little under halfway through.

Finally, planning:

1) I’m going to increase my strength exercises for my lower body and add more core work like planks into my workouts.

2) I’m going to work on reading about a chapter every week or so, although I’m not necessarily sticking to that for sure as I still have an actual class to do work for until August 1st.

3) I’ll do a quick review of what I’ve already learned in the book and then work through one chapter every couple weeks. Again, until August 1st I’m not making myself stick to the timeline exactly because of school obligations.

So there are some goals and these are things I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Hopefully now that I’ve publicly commited myself to them, I’ll act on them! There’s psychology at work for you 😉

Are you a goal-setter? Do you have any specific goals in mind right now? Are there any recent goal accomplishments that you’re really proud of?

Work, dresses and fail muffins

June 25, 2009

Okie doke, so after that mega job rant yesterday, I’m feeling much better!

I went to work and straight up asked how many hours I could work per week. The answer? 15-20. Hello, 20 hours per week, a.k.a 5 more than I thought I could work and a good chunk more money on each paycheck! So I made up a fancy budget – well, it was on a Post-It but I’ve never been good at making elaborate Excel spreadsheets of my expenses – and things will work. I laid out x dollars per week for groceries, rent for the rest of the summer and looked at how much I’d have left over. Um, whoa? A heck of a lot more than I thought I would!

So worries are gone! Well, the only worry is that my dad will be like “Go find a second job” even though, like I said, I’ve tried at 50 places (applied to FOUR jobs yesterday) with no luck. So hopefully he will understand but the ‘rents are pretty supportive about stuff so I’m sure that as long as I’m not bugging him for cash, it’ll be fine.

Having just this job will work out nicely for scheduling too. Basically, I make my own schedule. Cool, right? That will be super helpful in August since I have plans three of the five weekends. Wow. The first weekend (Civic weekend, woo) I have a final exam (boo… on a Saturday too, at 9 in the A.M.). The second weekend is a weekend with the whole extended fam jam that I’m so excited for. We are doing Treetop Trekking. Oh my! I am scared of heights but it looks so exciting that I’m just going to suck it up. Aaaand finally, the last weekend in August my friends are getting married in my hometown up north so a whole weekend is required for that extravaganza!

Speaking of the wedding, I’ve gotta do some dress shopping. Normally I love shopping for dresses even though I’m not usually a girly-girl. There is just something about trying them on that I love, and its doubly better now that I’ve slimmed down and don’t have to worry about being “too big” for certain styles. Anyway, I said normally right, implying that this time it’s not so lovable.

Here’s why: Shopping for a dress for a wedding means completely different styles than, say, formal or proml. So my usual store of choice is not helpful! I’m heading down to the other mall in the city to check it out since I did a little looking online and found a couple nice looking options down there. So let’s hope they pan out! They are also on SALE which is great times a thousand and since dresses to wear to a wedding are a little less out there than formal/prom dresses, I could probably wear it again just for the heck of it.

In other news, I had my first Tim Horton’s iced capp of the year. Sadly, it will have to be my last. Since switching off a lot of dairy, I’ve noticed I’ve become even more sensitive to it than I was while still consuming it. My tummy is not a happy camper right now. I tried to settle it with some tea and a sugar-free gluten-free muffin (I’ll get to that in a sec) but it’s still hating me.

So about those sugar-free gluten-free muffins, a.k.a fail muffins. My housemate decided to bake something for one coworker that is diabetic and another with a gluten allergy. Basically they don’t have much in them and just a bit of Splenda to sweeten. They turned out very very flat and more scone-like in texture rather than fluffy muffin goodness. Too bad! I think adding some fruit like mashed banana or even unsweetened applesauce or some blueberries would have spiced them up but of course there was no way of knowing that before. So we might make another attempt just to use up the brown rice flour, even if they’re no longer diabetic friendly. I think they would be awesome with banana and chocolate chips! Yum!

Anyway, it’s off to bed for me so I can go to work and then have a dress shopping adventure tomorrow!

Wanted: a second job!

June 24, 2009

Job hunting has never been something I’ve enjoyed very much. Job hunting when there are few jobs and insane competition for those few jobs (some of which are not even that amazing – low pay and crappy duties) is the worst.

I have a folder on my computer filled with resumes – 46 to be precise. So I’ve applied to 46 jobs and haven’t been called back a single time. Ack!

I always think, maybe it’s my resume! Maybe it’s awful or there are grammar/spelling errors. But I’ve used the same resume (updated obviously) successfully for several jobs in the past. It’s gotten me many interviews and job offers. And my new resumes are error free according to my two housemates that have reviewed them. So maybe it isn’t my resume or my job skills, since I’m definitely not lacking there. I’ve done it all – Tim Horton’s (worst job ever), grocery store cashier, assistant pastry chef (best job ever), research assistant (probably 2nd best, or tied for best), camp leader, rental clerk at a ski resort, theatre usher & backstage crew. Obviously those aren’t all on my resume as I started working when I was 15 and I’m now almost 23, but I’m definitely not lacking in related experience to a lot of job I’m applying for.

It’s just really frustrating, as I normally wouldn’t have this much difficulty getting a job. Heck, I have 90% of a university degree in addition to my work experience. But, I keep trying to remind myself that it’s not necessarily me. It’s tough for everyone. I know grads from the computer science field (aka a huge field right now) who can’t find work! One works two days a week at his old summer job for a shipping company. One of my other recent grad friends had to settle for working at Staples because there wasn’t anything else out there. A fellow psych grad gets one or two shifts a week at the restaurant she works at and she can’t find anything else. Another is stuck selling shoes for the summer (she’s also a recent graduate). Basically, no one seems to be able to use their degree OR find full-time work.

I guess I should be thankful I have a job at all, but I feel like I never work (so I’m bored a lot) and my parents seem to expect that I can get a job if I just try hard enough. Well, 46 resumes is definitely trying. There is only one type of work I’m not up for and that’s fast food stuff. I’ll survive on my 10-15 hours a week of research work before I do that. One summer of working at Timmy’s was enough for me – getting up at 6am after 6 hours of sleep (from working til 11pm the night before) and then getting yelled at by cranky, uptight people on the way to the cottage deserves more than minimum wage pay.

So, I realize this was quite the rant about jobs but it’s been really bugging me lately as the summer goes on and I have only part-time work. I’m just trying to budget out my current job and if it will work out to pay for rent, groceries and have even just a little left over each month, I’ll just stick it out and not be too bothered by not having something else. But it’s hard when I know a lot of us students are used to that “I must work 35-50 hours per week in the summer or else” mindset that it’s hard to accept working only 15, even if it still adequately pays the bills.

Anyone else hating the job hunt this summer? Do you have a job right now (and do you like it) or are you like me, stuck working part-time or maybe not at all?

Am I ready…

June 22, 2009

…to ditch the scale?

One of my goals once I hit maintenance was to eventually leave the scale behind and only weigh-in once a month, if that. My goal was to maintain for 8 weeks using the scale to weigh-in and then ditch it once I got used to how much I could eat and how much activity I needed to maintain my weight. I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on that, but I’m still anxious about my plan.

I think it’s because I don’t fully trust myself. I mean, I’ve been good about maintaining and if I’ve seen a gain that I know is because I’ve ate too much or not exercised enough, I’m right on top of it. Usually I know before I step on the scale whether I’m going to have gained any significant amount based on the week I had. But the thing is, I almost never used to weigh myself. Not when I was thinner, not while I was gaining weight and not while I was at my heaviest.

I think my fears stem from the fact that when I didn’t weigh myself in the past, I let 30-40 pounds creep up on me.

I want to think I’d know better this time – that I’d realize something needed to change if I had to buy pants in a larger size like I did in the past. But I’m still kind of scared to put that kind of trust in myself.

I don’t want to be ruled by the scale for the rest of my life and I feel like if I don’t ditch it, I’ll be weighing in weekly forever. I need to be able to get to that place where I feel comfortable with what I’m eating and don’t have to weigh-in to check up on things each week. I need to be able to trust that my eating and exercise habits have changed and will continue to stay that way.

This is week 8 of maintenance for me, meaning that after Friday’s weigh-in, I should be trying to ditch the scale. After Friday, I shoudn’t be weighing again until July 26th! The thought kind of overwhelms me!

Any ideas to make it easier? If you’ve ditched the scale, how did you get away from feeling the need to weigh in so often?

This is called procrastination

June 17, 2009

So I may or may not have a paper due tomorrow and I may or may not be blogging instead of finishing it.

Even when I only have one course, I still procrastinate! When will I ever learn? 😉

I actually wrote 99% of the paper over the past two nights while at work. There’s nothing like writing a paper at 3am while trying not to fall asleep. But hey, I basically get paid to do homework and play games on my cell phone (I’m shamefully addicted to one of them right now). Technically my job is watching over the kiddies staying in the residences at the university but they’re usually out like a light by 12:30 or so, leaving me to occupy myself until 6am. It means I get a lot of school work done, since, even if my laptop didn’t completely suck, I wouldn’t have able to use the internet since I don’t think there is wireless. At least not active during the summer.

Anyway, this residence I’m in? I want to ask my dad if someone… like… died there. Or something. He lived there in first year when it was new so he might know. But seriously, there were some creepy noises going on last night. It could have just been my imagination but I nearly had a mini-panic attack a couple times until I told myself that it’s only the ventilation system making noises that sound like people talking and walking around in the halls. The halls that I could see were empty.

6am couldn’t come fast enough at some points. But I survived to procrastinate another day.

I can’t wait until this class is done. August 1st! Then I get a nice month and a half break until my easy semester of 3 classes, which I registered for the other night. This is how I feel about our online registration system:@#!%^@!

Seriously, it’s that bad. And it used to be worse. At least now they break it down by year and faculty. It used to be a mad rush of every single person in a certain year swarming the system at midnight. Second year was the worst EVER. Everyone on my floor in residence was freaking out because they couldn’t even log in at some points. But I managed to get into all the classes I wanted – yay for being in fourth year and getting first dibs. So I got my research class, one with a placement (it’s a requirement… and yes, I’m a horrible procrastinator for taking it in my last sememster of undergrad) and a distance ed bird course. Pyschology and Religion. It appears that my experience with a certain Dr. Freud will have to continue for one more class before I can say goodbye to him forever. I’ve learned about him in at least 6 classes so far. I know he was a big deal but I feel like I could recite his stuff in my sleep at this point.

In non-school related business:

I’m taking a trip home this weekend! My friend is back from China and he has a present for me! We’re probably going to end up going out for food/drinks a gazillion times on the weekend so my plan is to eat a little healthier. So far that’s only partially happened, but night shift totally throws off my eating (and I found out I was working the one evening at about 1pm that same day… so I couldn’t really prepare). I’m getting back into the exercise groove though. Did a 2.75 mile run the other day, my longest yet. Although I couldn’t quite make it to 3 (ran out of steam) I still felt pretty darn accomplished!

Well, that paper is calling my name, as is a resume or two I should write!

40 down

June 13, 2009

I have officially lost 40 pounds! When I started losing weight, I don’t think I ever could have imagined losing that much!

I know I’m technically in maintenance mode right now but I told myself I’d be okay with losing a couple more pounds as long as I wasn’t consciously trying to diet. And I haven’t been, so I’m completely fine with dropping a few more pounds. I think it’s mainly due to being busy! When I’m keeping busy, I don’t have as much time to snack and I’m also on my feet more.

My limit is 130 though – I don’t want to go below that since I have a larger frame and there are already some areas on my body that are quite slim at my current weight so I don’t think my body would be comfortable weighing less than that. I’m still not 100% satisfied with my legs but I’m trying to love them the way they are. I carry my weight in my hips and thighs and I always have so I’m sure even if I got down to a much lower weight, my thighs would still be a little larger…. but I’m trying to be okay with them the way they are. I don’t want my thighs to be the reason I think I should lose more weight. I could be stuck in that trap forever!

I know a lot of us struggle with that one (or two) body part that no matter how much weight we’ve lost, it still bothers us in some way. For me, it’s my thighs (and about once a week my stomach joins the club). I know others are frustrated with not having a flat stomach after losing a lot of weight. The list could go on and I’m sure we could all add our own less-than-perfect body part.

But really, why do we beat ourselves up over that not so flat stomach or larger thighs? I know I sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture – the weight I’ve already lost and how much healthier I am because of my new eating and exercise habits. I know so many people have come really far in their weight loss journey and I think we should be proud of that and focus on it, rather than think “if I lost another 5 pounds, my stomach would look the way I want it to” or obsess over an area on the body that isn’t perfectly toned and slim or think we have to be skinny to be healthy and beautiful.

Reaching your weight loss goal does not automatically make you love your body. I’ve learned this since achieving my goal weight as, like I said, there are days when I still find things to nitpick. I think you have to find that acceptance within yourself and realize that being a certain weight doesn’t equate to happiness. I think you have to look at yourself and see the things you love rather than the things that you consider flaws (easier said than done, I know).

So today, be proud of what you’ve accomplished and don’t let that one body part bother you. When you look at the big picture, we’ve come so far and your stomach, hips, thighs, etc aren’t going to change that!