Monday, July 14, 2014

Off season

I think I'm mystified by all this "ode to summer" hoopla going around the internet because summer is not exactly my favorite season. My kids aren't in school yet, granted, so the calendar and schedule is the same for us year-round. Work is, if anything, busier for me in the summer. Grants are due, budgets ending, trainees are new and require additional supervision, and all our conferences happen to occur in May and June.

I grew up in the south and pretty much spent my whole life in climates that hit 80 degrees in March and didn't let up until November. "Hot" is not a novelty to me, nor something to get excited about. It is to be tolerated and avoided as much as possible. Oddly, all that living in the heat never really got me acclimated to it, I tend to wilt in the heat, feeling lethargic and headachey. When the temperature gets above 90, I want to be in indoors, lounging somewhere with cold air blowing on my face. I like going to the pool, but its not exactly relaxing or exhilarating to get us all dressed and sun-screened up and trudge over to the pool only for the boys to be tired & hungry 30 minutes later. The mosquitos invade the backyard, and no amount of "reminding" the boys to CLOSE THE DOOR when they go in and out can keep all the flies out of the kitchen.  I wear my cute summer clothes, sweat right through them, and then cover them up when I walk into our frigid building at work.

Its certainly not all bad. I like the late sunsets, I am still delighted as a child over fireflies, thoughts of ice cream & geleto keep me going. I am very much looking forward to our beach trip with my family at the end of summer...I would live at the beach if I could, but so far haven't been able to make that happen (and G is not keen, so its not really in our long-term plan).  A glass of chilled white wine & some fresh grilled vegetables make a perfect summer dinner. 

I'm sure I'll be more positive tomorrow. I'm exhausted today. L started crawling out of his crib a couple of weeks ago so we took the side off and every. single. night. he marches himself into our room at some ungodly hour and pokes & paws at me until he can get himself back to sleep. Last night was one of the worst.

On the cuteness front, B told us that he woke up in the middle of the night and saw that L wasn't in his crib and got really sad that he was gone away forever. So he  went to sleep again, and had a dream that he and L were together again, playing, and he was happy. Then he woke up in the morning, saw L playing with his crayons, and hit him because "I was happy he was there but he's not supposed to touch my things".

Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer Fun?

No, I don't intend to make this once-a-month posting a habit, but its been a busy few weeks. Also, I realized just how much time I was spending on the internet and decided to take a few days off completely from reading blogs (sorry I haven't been commenting, I've got a huge backlog to get through this weekend!)

I don't usually succumb to FOMO (fear-of-missing-out), but it really hit me after the 4th, seeing on blogs and facebook feeds all the awesome "essence of summer" things people are doing---all the pool time, beach vacays, family reunions, fireworks, picnics, parades. We did...nothing. We stayed in town, skipped the parade because it was drizzly and planning to storm (though it never did), skipped the fireworks because its crazy crowded and the fireworks don't go off until after 11pm, skipped the public pool because I walked by and saw the line outside... Basically we had a very ordinary, but not at all relaxing (because the kids were REALLY something else those 3 days) weekend. Lots of meltdowns, time-outs, yelling, and outings gone awry.

I've been on service all week with brand spanking new fellows (trainees in my subspecialty, straight out of residency) and its been challenging in good & bad ways. I do like clinical work and teaching, but even after a week I get tired of some of the b.s. consults we get and all the nonsense scutwork that is involved (even though I don't have to do the scutwork anymore, it pains me to have to tell the fellows to do it).

After all that calorie counting, I didn't lose a single ounce, but I did make some changes to my diet that hopefully will---over the long run---have positive consequences for my health. I'm still using my FitBit.  I realize that I get 10K steps on very ordinary days when I'm not trying to get more steps. 15K on consults or when I pick up the kids or run in the morning. 20-30K on weekends if I go for long runs and we have some major walking outing---though my lowest count ever was last Sunday when I got 7K because I went nowhere except about a mile to (a very heavy) brunch.

I've been reading a LOT. Maybe I'll do a post about recent books I read.

Hmmm, my work phone has been suspiciously quiet, I better investigate what's going on...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Drizzle on

Its been drizzling all week. Cloudy and humid, randomly raining off and on throughout the day. It hasn't gotten me down!

So far June has been amazing. Even with L being sick (it was hand-food-mouth; we kept him home for 2 days but he went back yesterday, to "quarantine" with 3 other kids that are recovering), and the rain, and a ton of work deadlines, things have overall been….fun.

We had two great weekends in a row and are planning a third (the rain should stop by Friday night). I've been feeling better about myself with all the clean eating and exercise I'm getting. And most importantly to the general mood in the house, the boys are in a good place (except L right now, still cranky as hell, but we know its because he's sick and can coddle him a bit). The mornings and evenings are not complete battle zones. We've been staying up a bit later, and sleeping in (except L and one unlucky parent each day). Enjoying what we can of the weather when it permits.

The boys are eating lots of ice cream, as they should. Also lots of peaches, berries, pineapple, and plums. The soundtrack from Frozen is heard nonstop, either on the stereo or directly from the boys' mouths. Too much Sesame Street has been watched. The house is a complete disaster and we have no plans to remedy that.

G and I are in a good place. Some nights we hang out together, watch TV or just have a drink and talk. Some nights we do our own things. Last night we watched old videos from when B was a toddler and it made us cry. I feel like we're a team again, and friends, and that makes all the difference.

I don't know what the point of this post is. I just opened a page and started writing. Writing this has made my heart feel full and happy. Maybe I just needed some sunshine on a cloudy week.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bits of Fit

It was a lovely, extremely busy weekend. I had a lovely 6 mile run and went to a friend's bridal tea Saturday, we all went for a LONG hike Sunday, and we managed to get all our chores done, too. We were exhausted but I like to think it was a good exhausted. I was ready to hit the ground running at work today, but life had other plans, and L developed a rash last night that was consistent with hand-foot-mouth (its been going around the kids' school). He was afebrile, but clingy and itchy, and wouldn't be put down, so we are taking turns holding him while the other goes to work. 

Weight loss related bits:
  • I started wearing my FitBit on Friday. I was hoping I'd get to the recommended 10K steps. Turns out, I walk a LOT. I didn't run or work out Friday and I easily got 15K. Saturday and Sunday were 20K each. Today will be lower since I'm spending half the day sitting on the couch holding a toddler, but overall, I think I can safely say my weight gain is not due to inactivity. 
  • I also synced the FitBit to MFP and I get EXTRA CALORIES for the walking I do.
  • Pretty much everything has more calories than I expected. A peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat >400 Kcal. On small slice of swiss=110 Kcal. One slice of pizza with black olives >400 Kcal. Six stoneground wheat crackers=180 Kcal. 
  • I did manage to stay within 100KCal of my goal (which varied, based on activity level) each day. Yesterday I had about 100 Kcal left, even after the 2nd glass of wine.  
  • I really want to put the FitBit on B for a day. I think he'd easily get to 50K, he DOES NOT stop moving. Yesterday, after the two hour hike during which he ran back and forth, climbed, jumped etc.. the entire time, he came home and proceeded to run back and forth our house and jump from chair to table to chair in the backyard, belting out Frozen songs. I finally got him to bed at 8 and heard him kicking the wall for about an hour. 
I'm OK with going over my daily caloric allotment. I would like to lose a few pounds, but I'm OK with it going extremely slowly. The more important goal was really to become more aware of what and how I'm eating and exercising and to make sure I'm doing the right things for long-term health. I absolutely was eating too much. I had NO IDEA how many calories were in things I routinely ate and considered "pretty healthy". I have no intention to stop eating pizza or any other treat, but I will definitely keep it to 2 slices. I bought tons of different greens for having salads with our dinners so that we eat less of the main, higher calorie dish. I almost grabbed a cookie in clinic today, but looked at the calories (it wasn't even home made!) and ate my pineapple instead (and it was SO JUICY and good!). 

I've also been trying to keep up my activity---I walked the dog around another block to try to bolster my steps this morning (and then realized I wasn't wearing my FitBit, durrr!), I mustered up the motivation to do my push-ups/planks while L watched home videos on my phone, I paced while reading blogs on my phone the other night because I was at 19800 and I really wanted to get to 20K (but last night I gave up at 19700 because I was beat).

If you have any concerns about your weight or are simply curious about what you're eating, I HIGHLY recommend tracking your calories for a week or two. Its really fascinating and pretty easy to do, since you can search the app for calorie counts others have entered, and easily google most other things.  I also think pretty much everyone should try a pedometer for a week or so too. I love how the two integrate my information and update in real time. Technology!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Calorie Deficit

MFP initially told me I need 1200-ish net calories per day for a "sedentary" job and to lose 10 lb in 20 weeks. After lunch, I only had 300 calories left, despite eating only coffee+Kind bar for breakfast and salad/fruit for lunch. So I freaked out. Then I changed my settings to a "lightly active" job and a goal of losing 7 lb in 14 weeks (0.5 lb/week). That gave me 1400 net calories. By the end of the day, I was over by only 70 calories. I ate 1800 calories yesterday, I bet I used to eat 2000-2200. I didn't burn many calories, since I did strength training instead of cardio. Just my walking commute and dog walking.

I've decided that if I'm within 100 calories of my net calorie goal, than I'm doing OK. I was hungry at 2 times during the day---4-6 pm before dinner, and 10pm right before bed. I did have an afternoon snack of some fruit, but I think I need more fruit. In the winter I used to eat ginormous apples and oranges, and now I'm eating little berries and peaches, which are much less filling. I had a 9pm snack of cereal and milk which helped a lot. I could've eaten another bowl but didn't. 

The best thing about tracking calories is that I am mindful about snacking. I measured out my cereal and milk instead of heaping up a huge bowl (and then refilling). It also immediately changed my view of my nightly wine/beer from a necessity to a treat. I did have a glass of wine with dinner, but did NOT have another glass later in the evening. I was hungry and decided the cereal would be way more satisfying for the same amount of calories. Of course, in the past, I would've had both. I think drinking may be a contributor to a lot of 30-something women's mild weight gain. We think we are doing well by avoiding ice cream and candy bars, but a beer in the evening (any beer worth drinking anyways) or a couple of glasses of wine is setting us back at least 200 calories. 

Some of the comments here and on other blogs are making me consider my motivation for doing this. It really is NOT vanity. That ship sailed 2.5 years ago when my ab muscles separated irreparably and while it took me some time (2 years), I have gotten over the fact that my body will never look the way I want it to look again. I could lose 20 pounds (and be technically underweight) and I would still have the poochy, wrinkly stomach. I will never be a size 2 again, my hip bones are wider then they were pre-babies, as is my ribcage (also my feet, I've gained a full shoe size). 

My weight right now is technically healthy, but its 10 pounds up from where it was before. And I gain my weight exclusively in my abdomen, which is neither healthy nor attractive. If I gained it all over, I'd actually be ecstatic, I'd love to not have chicken arms and legs and to have plumper cheeks/cleavage/butt. I know I'll look and feel better at a slightly lower weight and I also know that eating better/less is good for my long-term health and my energy levels. 

So, yeah, these ten pounds may look like "vanity pounds" to some, but I don't want to wait until those ten turn to twenty or more and become "health risk pounds". 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Creep

Moving away from the career-angst topics for a bit.

I need to lose some weight. 10 pounds, specifically. They've just crept on over the past few years and I want them gone. More importantly, I don't want any more to join them. The reason is simple, I eat too much. I've always been lucky enough to eat like a teenage boy and stay slim, but those days are over and I need to adjust. My mother is not overweight at all , is quite active, eats extremely healthy and has developed mild type 2 diabetes in her 60s. Her cholesterol has been high since her 40s. So my genes are not in my favor. Also I have PCOS, which raises my risks for those things in itself.

G has also put on 10-15 pounds over the past few years. He's got 9 inches on me, so it doesn't really show as much as mine! He started tracking his calories in a smartphone app (you know the one) recently, and I signed up and started today. Its a pain to remember to log every bite, and I know some of the calories allotted to certain foods are unlikely to be accurate. I also don't like how it shows you "net calories" by subtracting your output (calories burned, based on the exercise you input) from your intake. I want to know the GROSS calories I need to stay under to lose 0.5 lb/week (what I put in for my goal), not the NET. Mostly because the "calories burned" estimates are even more likely to be overestimated. Both food and exercise calories are input by users into the system, and you can choose from those or create your own. I have NO idea how I would go about accurately calculating out how many calories I burned in my 30 minute strength training circuit.

And eating out makes it near-impossible to be accurate. We went for dinner last week and G got a chicken salad sandwich. This restaurant does not offer calorie information, and no one had input an estimate. There were 20+ different types of chicken salad sandwich you could choose from, ranging from 300-1000 calories each. He went for a high calorie version because they sandwich was HUGE and mayo-rich, but who knows?

The upside, though, is that regardless of accuracy, the very act of having to add every morsel that enters your mouth into the app creates more mindful eating. G definitely thinks he's snacking less at night, to avoid the shame-add of 4 servings of Thai Chili Cashews or 6 servings of Pirate's booty. Just today, I reached for some fruit when I got hungry after dinner, rather than settling in with a bag of tortilla chips.

I've got a few more tricks I'm working on, too:
1) Record what I eat (as above)
2) Get comfortable with being hungry. I cannot stand to be hungry at all, so I eat. I tell myself I "need" to eat because I'm hungry, but clearly my body has just gotten used to more food than it needs---the weight gain is the proof of that. I've been trying to power through the afternoon and evening hunger pangs until I get used to it. Unfortunately, I do get headaches when I get hungry, and its hard to be productive and patient and all that, but I know its temporary (I've done this before, when I got used to MAJOR breastfeeding-induced snacking that continued long after I weaned).
3) Track my steps. I got myself a FitBit in JANUARY and haven't opened it yet. Its time.
4) Exercise for health. I've been going on nice leisurely 3 mile runs for my exercise, because its pleasant to be out in the spring and see the flowers blooming and the river gleaming. But I'm not burning a whole lot of calories nor am I getting faster or stronger doing the same thing 3-4 times a week. I re-started strength training and calisthenics (push-ups, planks) once a week. I also need to switch up my cardio work-outs, maybe add intervals and speed work, consider swimming or classes at the Y (which will look more appealing when it gets hotter out there). I know exercise isn't going to help me lose weight (because I eat too much), but it will help me gain more muscle and look better/more toned.
5) Sit less at work. I need to start taking more frequent breaks to get up and move. I try to be efficient about things that require me leaving my desk, but its probably better for my body AND concentration to get up every hour or so.

Apparently I need a net of 1200 calories per day (remember, this is calories in-calories out, not total calories) to lose 10 lbs in 20 weeks. I'm curious to see how far off I am and a little apprehensive of what deliciousness I'll have to cut out of my life. But you do what you have to do.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Rekindling the Fire?

No this isn't about marriage. Its about burn out. A couple of months ago, a friend forwarded me an article about burn out. I didn't even need to read the article, the title alone put into words what I've been feeling for a while now. I am completely and totally burnt out on work.

Of COURSE I'm burnt out. I've been working full tilt for so many years--by necessity, by desire, by sheer stubbornness of the "I will never give up" variety. 100+ hours a week at the absolute worst (yes I DID track my time) and 50-60 at the best (yup, tracking). And I just…don't care anymore. Well, no, I DO care, but I don't care that much. I do the things that other people are counting on me to do, but I'm struggling mightily to do the things that are sheerly for my own career advancement. Getting 40 hours of real work in a week is worthy of a gold star.

One cure to burn out is to switch things up---try a different type of work, or a different setting. But after thinking seriously about how I'd feel in a more clinical role, I don't think that's the answer. Why? The thought of that filled me with utter dread. No not fear of change, just hating the idea of seeing patients day in and out, charting, dealing with authorizations and appeals, and taking call.

Its more of an "I need a break" than an "I'm DONE". I don't want a change of job. I want a change of attitude. I want to feel engaged and driven again because I'm in the perfect position to use that drive to push forward a really rewarding career. And it IS rewarding. I love my clinical work and teaching trainees, I love the clinical projects I'm starting up, I love my focused little bench work and I really really love how I can combine all three on a daily basis. Its like part of my brain is excited and ready to dive in, but there is a stronger, more primitive side that wants to zone out for a month or so. But since I can't do that, I just hobble along, half in/half out and half-assed. I'm trying to keep things from falling apart until I can jump all in again.

I'm holding out hope that the fire will eventually start to smolder again. Is that possible? Anyone been through this and come out the other side without a major life overhaul?