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    GINAV2   36,302
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Cold hard reality check

Sunday, December 08, 2013

I finally dusted off my Wii and hooked up the ol' Wii Fit for the first time in (apparently) 270 days. I think I really hate that chipper Wii Fit voice right now. It cheerfully informed me that I have gained 14 pounds in the past 9-ish months and that I am now technically obese. Lovely.

Guys, I'm literally right back at square one with my body. I weigh exactly what I did when I first discovered SparkPeople. I'm healthier than I was then - my blood pressure is good, and staying gluten-free has ended my wacky allergy problems - but I am right back to being super-flabby and disappointed in myself! emoticon

It's school, dammit. Higher education has once again made me sick, fat, and miserable. When it happened in college I thought it was the usual college thang, first time away from home and all, compounded by being at a tough tech school. Then I lost weight while working for a year, and when I gained it back getting my masters I thought it was just the stress of being in a program and city that were a bad match. Then I lost weight and started getting really fit during my next stint in a real job (thanks, Spark!) but here I am, back in school and back in my damn fat pants!!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

We all know that correlation is not causation, but that's a pretty tight pattern, innit? I've thought about getting the hell out of here but every time I look for jobs I remember that all the really fun jobs doing scientific research at private companies require a PhD. That, and I hate quitting as a general rule. The good news is, my ongoing saga of The Wound That Would Not Heal finally seems to be over, after one year of regular doctors visits, three surgeries, six weeks of alternating between excruciating pain, pain-pill daze, and pain-pill withdrawals, and a few rounds of hard core kill-all-your-good-bacteria antibiotics. So I'm glad that's over, and that I can start exercising again.

But school stress is a big problem. I'm at a point where I just want to throw paper airplanes and shoot the first years with spitballs. (Not really, cuz that's gross, but you get the point.) I don't understand why "becoming a scientist" requires that you beg for money by writing BS sob stories about teaching and outreach and why you are a good candidate for affirmative-action pity money. I hate that I am in debt via student loans for the first time in my life, and that I'm about to turn 30 but I get treated like a sheltered 18 year old just because my job title has the world "student" in it. It pisses me off that I'm supposed to be grateful for the free pizza, cookies, and crappy sandwiches that the department occasionally throws our way. And I really dislike the isolation of the PhD process; I much prefer working collaboratively, or at least having colleagues who are working on the same broad project who have a vested interest in the work that I am doing. Too much time in my head is just not healthy.

Regardless, I need a PhD to get the research jobs that I want and I don't want to become morbidly obese while getting the damn thing, so something has to give. I've joined the local YMCA so I can take advantage of their lap pool, rock wall, and gym, which I think is a good start. I haven't stopped eating fresh, local, healthy meat and veggies, so I'm good on that front. What I need to work on is stress-bingeing. I'm using all my willpower just to get through each day at school, and when I get home at night I'm so desperate for a serotonin boost that I carb load. Like, epic amounts of food. Bottomless pit, me. It's no bueno.

Sometimes I wish I could just fast forward two or three years and be done with this part of my life. I want to be a PhD graduate, but the ideological mismatch between academia and my worldview is wearing me down more than I expected it to. Some days it's just too damn much…and then I numb the pain with ice cream. At least it isn't drugs? Le sigh.

Anyway. Sorry for the mind dump. That cheery little Wii voice really got to me today. Stupid bodyweight. Stupid school. Stupid negative reaction to being labeled obese again. But, to end on a happy note: yay for reasonably priced indoor pools in December?
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DOLLYHOLLY 12/10/2013 9:31AM

    First, emoticon on being in a PhD program!

Second, don't be too hard on yourself. Good nutrition and fitness can be hard particularly if you have a busy life.

Third, you inspire me to want to return to school! I'm in my 40's and I was in grad schools (note the plural) before and I kept quitting due to health issues. I think if the end goal is something you genuinely desire, don't quit because you may end up regretting it (as I do).

Truly, we only live once. emoticon

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CHAOSTHEORY635 12/9/2013 10:35PM

    *hugs* you and me both. this thing will end eventually...

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GINAV2 12/9/2013 9:31PM

    Well, as of right now the thought of leaving is more stressful than the thought of staying, so I'm not going anywhere in the near future. But I am half expecting my advisor to call me on my BS one of these days, cuz I've gone from overachiever to slacker and it's pretty darn obvious, at least to me, that I'm not doing my best work here. But I don't want to quit, and the thought of starting over somewhere new yet again is exhausting, so I'm toughing it out until things improve or get bad enough that leaving does seem worth the effort.

And yeah, maybe I should go talk to someone. I had a terribly frustrating time talking to the folks at the career center a few months ago, though, which made me a bit skittish about professional assistance.

Anywho, thanks for all the support, guys! I needed it yesterday for sure. And today's eating well and exercising endeavor seems to be helping, so…yay for small successes!

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GIANTMICROBE 12/9/2013 10:36AM

    Are you absolutely sure you want to continue? I'm all for school but you sound just miserable :( Isn't there anything you would like to do with your master's, or maybe do another master's or some kind of short certificate-ish program? You just seem happier with work. Some people are like that.

Hey, does University Park have free counseling for students? When I was at Behrend, I saw a counselor my first year because I was feeling so overwhelmed and homesick and it really, really helped.

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HISTORYRUNNER 12/8/2013 11:23PM

    Interesting blog, and I can empathize, both as a former grad student and now as a mentor of grad students. My take on all of this is that if we give in to the tyranny of the urgent (one more paper to read, one more deadline) and don't take the time to treat ourselves right - nutritionally, excercise-wise, sleepwise - we'll become less productive, very unhappy, and less/unfit people. I speak from experience. So I tell my students to schedule in their exercise time and to guard it closely, and I do the same myself. I don't go into nutrition unless they ask, although I'm kind of known now in my workplace as the GF guy. So I'd encourage you to be self-centered in a healthy way, I think the payoff in all areas will be worth it.
BTW are you going to Penn State? I grew up in State College ... you reference Central PA ... just wondering.
I'm rooting for you! emoticon

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KAYELLEBEE 12/8/2013 8:46PM

  I know exactly how you feel - I feel the same way as a grad student right now!!! I hate the fact that I want to be active, and my schoolwork keeps interfering with my desire for exercise. I think we both need to remember what is best for us in the long run - what might seem like a great release at the time (read: binging) will only come back to get us the next morning.

I'm a closet binger too - I come home after a day of deprivation and binge binge binge! I've put on 10-15 lbs since starting grad school, and I know how NOT fun it can be. Let's work on getting our butts moving and making good choices - always putting OURSELVES first - and turn out stronger and happier for those choices.

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ROBBIEY 12/8/2013 8:40PM

  Don't give up, get back to basics and keep moving forward. School is stressful, but you can overcome this, you have done it before. Sparkpeople have shown you the way forward. emoticon emoticon

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