Update on Life

I haven’t been posting a lot lately.  I would apologize, but life’s been pretty busy.  I’ve been doing a lot of paperwork in prep for my new job, and just doing my daily routines.  I will be getting some new posts up in the near future.  I do have a lot to post about, especially as we get closer to the end of the semester.  My garden’s been planted, I’ve been trying new recipes, and I’m planning to do a complete fashion makeover in the weeks before my new job.  Switching from academia to industry is going to be a tough transition, but I’ll be sure to keep you all aware of what’s going on as much as I can.

Finally Losing Weight: What I’m Doing Now

So, last year, one of my goals was to lose weight.  It’s a tangential goal this year (as in, it’s not a big focus).  I’ve been overweight for a good long time, since I came to college and started living on my own.  I’ve read diet books, tried keeping a food journal, worked out a lot.  Nothing really seemed to work, or I wouldn’t stick with it because it was super tedious.

Last December, I was reading yet another diet plan (I mentioned it back in January).  It was using an oversimplified formula (calories in < calories out).  Didn’t look like anything special.  But what was interesting was that the guy started talking about using statistics to find out your “true weight”.  The weight of a human body fluctuates throughout the day (and for women, sometimes the month), and so it’s difficult to say “I weigh ___.”  When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s even more frustrating.  One day you’ll be really low, and the next really high.  It is literally like a roller coaster.  So what this guy does is he keeps a weighted moving average of his weight, and that gives him an idea of where his weight is really at.

Of course, this is a simple enough calculation for a computer, so there’s an app for that.  I’ve been using FatWatch.  The name is crude, but it has a nice set of features and is easy to use.  There’s also True Weight for the iOS, and Libra for Android.  FatWatch is the most expensive of the three, but I like the fact that I can mark “Oh, I ate out today”, or “I worked out today”, and there’s even a built in “mini-workout” system.  You can also make free-form notes, so if I eat out, I denote what restaurant.  If I work out, I put a brief note about what I did.

So how’s it working?  Well, I am actually losing weight!  I don’t think it’s all due to the program.  I’ve been making dietary changes mostly, eating smaller portions, and not having all my vices in one day.  The biggest thing I’ve done is that I’ve stopped snacking between meals.  I still like a snack, but I make it very small, or I have the snack and not a meal.  I haven’t been eating as many processed foods at home, and certainly nothing “low-fat”.  I’ve been doing compensations ala French Women Don’t Get Fat.  And I’ve been eating out a lot, due to family in town.  My results are probably going to get much better once I start eating at home more.

I’ve lost about 5 pounds.  This may not sound like a huge deal, but that’s 5 pounds “real weight”.  I’ve gone down a pants size.  In all my attempts ever, I’ve never had this kind of success.  I probably won’t hit my goal weight before the end of the year (if I hit it at all, it may be unrealistic).  But I’m sure I can get to a healthier place, even before May (when I start my new job) or August (big family gathering to show off at).  I’ve been doing the mini-workout in the program to make sure that I’m actually losing fat and not the (little bit of) muscle that I have.

The one galling thing to me is how easy it is to do this now.  Why couldn’t I have done this years ago?  Why couldn’t I have done this before the problem became so bad that I have this much to lose?  I think the biggest suspect is stress.  I eat when I’m stressed, and between family drama, graduate school, and fears for the future, I’ve been really stressed the past few years.  This semester, I’m relaxing as I finish up my obligations at the university, looking forward to a new job with defined hours, and picking up hobbies that I had abandoned long ago.  I have a big event coming up this weekend (actually two!) and I’m already prepared for them.  So stress is not a factor this semester.  Let’s hope I can keep it that way.

2012 New Year’s Resolutions

Well, the end of 2011 is near, and that means time for New Year’s Resolutions.  This past year has been half productive and half not.  This last semester was particularly bad.  I’m beginning to feel burnout, after having been in school for 9 years (after high school) straight.  I’ve convinced myself to give it one more semester before I call it quits or not.  I currently have a pretty sweet situation, and having to look for a job is not something I want to think about right now.  It’s a complicated dilemma, because I’ve already invested a lot of time, but I never really wanted a Ph.D. or to do research anyway.

So that’s one resolution, I suppose.  To give this next semester a good strong go for my research.  But I don’t really count that.  This year I’ve decided to do two sets of resolutions, a year-long set, and a set that I’ll work on every few months, similar to what I did this past year.  So, here we go:

Year-Long Resolutions

  • Get down to 125 pounds – This goal has been off and on for the better part of my twenties.  I ignored it last year in favor of trying to eat healthier, and it seems my weight has stabilized at about 175.  However, that’s still overweight, and so I’m giving myself a whole year to try to lose the weight.  I’m using an iOS app called Fatwatch.  It’s a neat little program; instead of you dealing with the ups and downs of individual daily weights, it looks at an overall trend, and tells you how many calories you are over what you need to maintain and also how many calories you need to cut to stay on track with your goal.  It also has a built in “mini” exercise program, meant to be done in 15 minutes.  It’s based on the Hacker’s Diet, a book written by a programmer on how he lost weight.  He basically espouses a calorie counting, calorie restriction only diet, which I’m not interested in.  But I did like the idea of the trend line, and using your daily weights to help calculate if you’re maintaining, gaining, or losing weight.  The maintaining part is particularly important, because I don’t want to yo-yo.   The 125 number is based on being in the middle of the “healthy” weight range based on BMI (which I think is bunk in most cases), and I don’t know if I’ll actually reach it, but we’ll see how far I get.
  • Continue to follow the Real Food Lessons – I’ve still been following the lessons on GNOWFGLINS, albeit slowly.  I still think they’re a great learning tool and a great learning experience for me.  In fact, Wardeh is having a free webinar on how to transition to eating Real Food.  I’ve already registered.  I’m going to keep working through the lessons throughout the year, and hopefully slowly integrate them as habits.
  • Zazen – During Ango, I was great at first about doing zazen every day.  Toward the end I trailed off, and then I tried a two-day retreat in December.  I didn’t get through the whole two days, but it is important to my spiritual practice that I develop this habit.

Tri-Monthly Goals

  • Fashion Makeover – I recently purchased a mini-makeover pdf from Sally at Already Pretty.  I’ve been unhappy with my fashion/style for a while now, and while I’ve done a couple closet purges, I still don’t feel like I have a cohesive style.  It feels like it jumps around from super casual to super formal.  I’d like to get it a little more together, especially if I might be looking for jobs in the not so near future.
  • Crafting – This was a goal last year that didn’t happen.  While I need to do some crafting in the first three months for my juggling club, those aren’t personal projects.  I’m hoping to work on carving out some time for this, as I have a lot of hobbies.
  • Piano – This is another goal from last year that didn’t happen.  I got an electric piano as a graduation present , 5 years ago now.  I took piano lessons once upon a time, but it’s been a long time since I played.  I’d like to get back in the habit, especially if I have to give up some of my other hobbies in the future due to research or jobs.
  • Getting back in touch – I’m horrible about keeping in touch with friends.  I’ve gotten better, using Facebook and Google+, but lurking and reading other people’s posts and making the occasional post myself isn’t really communication.  I’d like to get back into a regular email or chat habit with friends who I used to be close to.
I think that’s more than enough on my plate for 2012.  I might add in a workout habit, but I want to wait and see how I feel about that.  And that’s not counting all the other things that might happen to completely change my plans.  What are your resolutions for the coming year?  Or do you not believe in making resolutions?