jenshaped
Single Celebration Day!

I’ve never actually celebrated Valentine’s day, even the years when I happened to be in a relationship on this holiday, because I think it’s obnoxious and cliched.

But on this Valentine’s day I find myself reflecting and appreciating how great it is to be single.  It’s a wonderful thing to be unattached and fancy-free, not weighed down by a relationship with the wrong person.  I’m so much happier now than I was a few months ago when I was not single.

Happy Single Celebration Day!

Happy birthday to me!

I’ll be celebrating my b-day by grading midterms and studying geophysical fluid dynamics.  Oh the glamorous and exciting life of a grad student who is TA’ing and has her PhD qualifying exam coming up in FOUR DAYS!

And it is so unreal to me that I am 31 years old.  Bahahaha!  Shouldn’t I be feeling more grown-up by now?

I like to think of men and woman as equals. Equally good, and equally evil, however usually in different ways.

I agree 100%!  I think I lose sight of this sometimes because the few personality traits that really annoy me happen to be more predominant in men, so I start to think of them as masculine traits, even though a great many men aren’t like that at all!  On the flip side, I’m sure there are many traits often found in women that some people might find very annoying - but these things just don’t happen to bother me so I don’t notice them.  But in the end we are all just people! :-)

Do I hate men?

I find myself asking this question more and more lately.

I know that I don’t.  About half of all my friends are guys, and they are all great people whom I like and respect.  I’ve always gotten along really well with my dad and brother, better than I ever did with my mom, in fact.

But these days there are a few men in my life who seem to be tainting my perception of their whole gender, such that I find myself thinking “Arrrghhh, MEN!” in annoyance on a very regular basis.

There are very few people in the world whom I actually dislike.  Pretty much everyone I either like them or am indifferent to them.  But there are a few personality traits that I absolutely can’t stand.  I really dislike people who are arrogant, judgmental and insensitive.  These three traits seem to go together - anyone I know who is arrogant, is also judgmental and insensitive.  And in my experience, these traits tend to be in males much more often than in females.  I very rarely ever meet an arrogant woman, but I’ve met more than a few arrogant men in my life.

In my current situation at grad school, a couple of my peers are extremely arrogant men who I unfortunately have to interact with on a very regular basis.  With everyone else I’m so laid-back and get along just fine, but these specific guys are constantly saying things that infuriate me.  I’m so disgusted with their obvious feeling that they’re so much better than everyone else and their lack of respect for other people.

I’m a very non-confrontational person, so in the rare times that I dislike someone, my strategy is to just avoid them as much as possible.  I see absolutely no point in trying to reply to or discuss the annoying things they say, because someone who is so judgmental and close-minded isn’t going to be capable of seeing any other side of an issue besides their own.  But unfortunately I can’t really avoid these guys at school, so I’m stuck dealing with them much more than I would prefer.  And I find myself inadvertently becoming wary of all men and making the generalization:  men = arrogant = judgmental = BAD.  But I know that these two dumbasses aren’t representative of their whole gender, and I should resist this anti-men vibe that I’ve been developing lately.

So no, I don’t hate men.  But I really, really dislike a couple of them who have been making my life very unpleasant.

Ok, at least I feel a bit better getting this rant off my chest!

Clean slate

I have been gaining and losing the same 15-25 lbs over and over again throughout my entire adult life.  Whenever I start gaining the weight back I always promise myself that I’ll get back on track, I won’t let myself keep going astray.  But inevitably I end up breaking those promises to myself, over and over again, and my weight keeps going up and up…  Eventually I get a rude awakening when I realize just how many pounds I’ve packed on and all my biggest size clothes start getting too tight.  So I finally get my act together and get back in shape again… for a while… until the cycle starts over again.

I always feel so silly that I keep doing this.  I know how to eat healthy, exercise, and get to a healthy weight that I’m comfortable with - I’ve successfully done this many, many times in my life!  So why don’t I just get to a weight that I’m happy with and stay there?  Why do I keep letting myself get caught up in this cycle of gain/lose/gain/lose?

In September I was 142 lbs, after very slowly losing 17 lbs from a high of 159 last spring.  Then the school year started, I had a messy break-up, and I became overwhelmed with stress and anxiety preparing for my qualifying exams.  Over the last several months I slipped back into habits of emotional eating and binging.  Periodically I would vow to myself that I was going to stop and get back on track, but it would never stick.  I could feel the pounds piling on, but I kept telling myself that it wasn’t that bad and would push it out of my mind because I had too many other things to worry about.

Last Monday I finally decided to face the scale after many months of not weighing myself.  I knew it was going to be pretty bad, but I was still shocked when I saw the number.  In fact I actually burst out laughing because I was just so surprised and flabbergasted.

160 lbs.

18 lbs gained in 4 months.

I had gained back all the weight I lost last year, plus an extra pound for good measure.

HOLY. CRAP.

I couldn’t believe it.  I stepped on and off the scale several times thinking maybe it was a mistake.  Nope.  It was real.  Of course I felt pretty terrible about it.  How could I have let myself undo all the progress I made last year?  For a few brief moments, I was beating myself up about it pretty badly.

But then a thought occurred to me.  Obviously this cycle of gain/lose/gain/lose is not ideal.  Obviously it’s not good to keep making promises to myself to stay on track and then keep breaking those promises and regaining the weight.  But another very real possibility is that instead of cycling through gain/lose/gain/lose, I could just as easily have been steadily gaining weight all these years.  I have some pretty major issues with emotional eating and binging, and if it weren’t for that bit of ‘oomph’ that I periodically get, when I get my act together and lose the extra weight, at least temporarily, then I absolutely would have just kept gaining over the years.  And this would have led me to be in a very, very different place physically than I am now.  And getting down to a healthier weight would be a much bigger and more daunting task.

So I’m keeping things in perspective.  I’m far from perfect, and of course I want to ultimately work through my food issues and break the gain/lose cycle.  But I’m not going to beat myself up about regaining the weight.  I’m not going to keep reminding myself of where I was several months ago and feeling bad about undoing all that hard work.  Feeling guilty and indulging in self-flagellation won’t make the situation any better.  My current reality is what it is, and the only useful thing to do is to focus on going forward from here and getting my body (and my life) back on track.

The weigh-in debacle last Monday was the kick in the pants that I needed to find my motivation and dedication again.  All week I’ve been eating very healthy, and only when actually hungry.  I’ve been getting back into an exercise routine at the gym.  And today when I stepped on the scale, it said:

155.5 lbs.

Down 4.5 lbs from last Monday.  Mostly water weight, obviously, but some of it is definitely real and it’s good to see.  I’m happy about my progress and will keep on going.  No looking back and letting regret about past mistakes tarnish my current accomplishments.  I’m going forward with a clean slate.

p.s. Of course I realize that weight is not a definitive measure of health or fitness.  But for me personally, it happens to be a very useful metric.  All the times in my life when I’ve been strong, fit, eating healthy, taking care of my self, my weight has been in the 135-140 lbs range.  All the times in my life when I’ve been eating crap, not exercising, not taking care of myself, my weight goes up into the 150+ or 160+ range.  So for me there is a very strong correlation, and working towards a weight loss goal goes hand in hand with working towards a healthier lifestyle and a fitter me.

Day 2 back at the gym

Gettin my groove back.

Life is good.

Reunion with the gym

Today I went to the gym for the first time in almost a month - I was travelling the last couple weeks of December, and then have been sick with a cold the past two weeks so there was no point in trying to work out when breathing was already a challenge.  After this long hiatus, I felt like the Tin Man, creaking my way through my workout!  It’s amazing how I became so used to being stiff and sore over the past several weeks of inactivity, and I didn’t even realize how terrible I’ve been feeling physically until today when I finally got moving again.

I am super stressed out preparing for my huge qualifying exam next month, and I didn’t want to add to my stress by trying to schedule regular workouts, when it feels like there just isn’t enough time.  But sitting at my desk for so many hours every day is wreaking havoc on my body, so I’m realizing that I need to just make time for exercise, no matter how hard it seems.  This has nothing to do with weight loss, or worrying about losing my fitness (it’s long gone now anyways…).  I just need to keep active so that I don’t feel like crap anymore!

So I’m going to make it happen.  I will get to the gym first thing each morning and get in a workout.  It can be done and I’m going to do it.

Plus, I think that getting back into working out is the only way I’m going to succeed with healthy eating again, because so far I have been failing miserably.  When I’m not exercising regularly, I feel like crap, and when I feel like crap I always want to eat crap.  But when I am exercising regularly then I feel good and I want to eat healthy foods that will fuel me.

Hi again

It’s been a while.  Life has been crazy.  Jeans are getting tight again.

The craziness is only going to increase over the next six weeks until I finish my (ultra-terrifying) qualifying exam for my PhD program.  Preparing for this exam is my absolute top priority in the coming weeks, so I’m not going to add to my stress by trying to lose weight during this time period.  However, I must keep reminding myself that even though I’m taking a break from the scale I should not spiral out of control with emotional eating and binging, because that is completely counter-productive and after the instant gratification wears off it will only make me feel worse in the long run.

So my plan is to eat reasonably healthy food in reasonable amounts, when I’m actually hungry (and not for comfort or stress relief).  I’m not going to stress about calories or eating a million veggies every day and preparing everything from scratch.  Just keep it simple and manageable so that I can get through the next month and a half without adding to the weight that crept on over the last couple of months in the aftermath of my break-up and over the holidays.  I’d like to squeeze in 2 to 3 workouts per week at the gym, but I won’t beat myself up about it if that doesn’t happen.  The gym will still be there in 6 weeks after the current madness is over, and I love working out so there’s no worry that I won’t get back into it full throttle once I don’t have so much on my plate.

On the plus side, I think I can actually say that I’m over the break-up now.  I don’t feel sad or angry anymore and barely think about him anymore.  Going home for the holidays and seeing all my friends and family helped a lot to get my mind off things and start feeling better.  Thank goodness for that!

This evening I made a choice

I arrived home at 8pm, tired and grumpy as usual, and was faced with a decision.

Option A:  Put on pyjamas and spend the evening on the couch, eating mini-donuts while watching tv.

or

Option B:  Put on my workout clothes and get my butt to the gym for a workout.

Believe it or not folks, I actually chose Option B!  The whole way home I was sure that all I wanted to do when I got home was curl up on the couch under a blanket, but somehow I found a burst of unexpected ambition instead.  Now I’ve got that nice post-workout relaxed feeling, much better than if I’d been a slug on the couch all evening.

File this one under the “Victories” category.  I haven’t had many victories at all lately, so I’ll take whatever I can get.

p.s.  The mini-donuts are in the garbage now.

Paradigm shift

It is so weird to have gone from being single for soooo long, to being in a relationship again, to suddenly being single again.

6 years.  Up until this summer I was single for 6 years. (Ok, a couple years ago there were several months that I was sleeping with an ex but we were decidedly not back together at the time, so it still counts as being single in my book).  I used to love being single.  I was happy on my own.  I would see couples all around me and there was no part of me that thought “I want that.”  I liked being free to do whatever I want, whenever I wanted.  Never having to factor someone else into my decisions.  Never having to try to figure out what was going on in someone else’s head.  I didn’t miss the kissing, cuddling, sex, companionship, any of it because it seemed to me that those things were so far outweighed by the inevitable aggravation and disappointment that comes with yet another failed relationship.  Plus after a while it had been so long that I didn’t even really remember what it was like to be with someone anymore.

Now it’s all different and it’s so frustrating.  This latest relationship was great for a while, then became not so great and ended.  And now here I am, having been reminded of all the relationship things that I’d been missing out on during all those single years, and wanting to have those things again but now there’s no boyfriend in the picture anymore.  Blech.

The idea of dating again is just… exhausting to even think about.  I don’t want to go on an endless series of awkward first dates that go nowhere.  I don’t really like meeting new people - it’s so rare that I have any chemistry with a person even as a friend, much less as a boyfriend.  I’ve managed to develop enough social skills over the years to be able to function adequately in social situations and when meeting new people, but it doesn’t come naturally to me and I find it so draining.  I’d much rather just spend time with my friends and family, or by myself.

Today a friend posted a status update on Facebook about wishing she had a “pause” button for her life.  Well, I wish I had a “fast-forward” button for my life.  Fast-forward past the shitty post-break-up stage of missing him / hating him / being hurt / missing being a couple, and get to the “I’m single and damn happy about it” stage.

I know the best way to get past this stage is to keep myself as busy and distracted as possible.  I tried to keep busy and have fun today by going to a swing dance social this afternoon, but after a couple of hours I was so tired of being spun around and flung around the dance floor and all I wanted to do was go home, put on my pj’s and curl up under a blanket.  So that’s what I did for the rest of the day.  I feel that I’m entitled to some moping time, so I’m not going to feel guilty for today, but I know that too much moping is not going to make me feel better so I’m trying to minimize it.  Hopefully tomorrow will be better.