Monday, May 05, 2014
I am really struggling with my goals this round, in part because I graduated on Friday so am still figuring out this whole life-after-school thing. I've been working 12-19 hours 7 days a week pretty much non stop except for the holiday break since... well, January 2013. And I was working a lot before then, just not quite so intensely (not 7 days a week, for one thing). So to go from that to suddenly no longer being a student is... a bit of a transition, to say the least.
I have some areas I want to work on, but I am going to take things slowly so that I can figure out how this all works, plus it lets me listen to my body hopefully. So the areas I want to work on:
1) SLEEP. I'm serious about the exhaustion thing. The week after I turned in the last of my stuff for gradschool, I slept up to 12 hours a night. That's starting to taper off, but I'm still tending to sleep around 10 hours, and I'm still tired. all. the. time. I can't promise I'll get 8 hours every night--I struggle with insomnia, for one thing, and sometimes life just doesn't cooperate. But one side effect of grad school has been that I guard my sleep hours as much as I can like a jealous dragon, and I think sleep needs to be a priority for awhile.
2) I've already started working on this (as of when I turned in my dissertation 2 weeks ago) but I am cutting back the caffeine--especially soft drinks. Which isn't to say I'm going caffeine free, or even soft drink free (I have found that doesn't work for me, sorry CAMO) but I'm returning to drinking 1 small pot (~24 oz) of tea, mostly green (it's easier on my stomach than black and lower in caffeine, plus I really like it and it's full of antioxidants) in the morning and mostly non-sugary, non-caffeinated drinks after that--water, carbonated water, herbal tea, etc. I have found that this *really& helps cut the soft drink consumption WAY down. But that means cutting my caffeine levels down by a third from where they got to at the end of the semester... and that's been... hard (getting there, but ugh).
3) Once the caffeine levels are stabilized, I really want/need to cut back on the pain killers and anti-inflammatories. Again, I can't say "no" meds, not with my joint issues and migraines etc., but I pushed my body too far by relying on medicines and that's just not an option any more. The transition is going to be an ugly painful one (which is why I'm waiting until the caffeine withdrawal is over--rebound headaches + caffeine withdrawal = nightmare, not to mention that right now I hurt so much I can't sleep without pain medications. In some ways, I suspect this one will be harder than the caffeine, but its an important one to do.
4) Exercise. This one is harder to pinpoint. I want to push myself--but slowly enough I don't hurt myself. This is a great time of year for me to be active--I love being outside, it's the SCA "war" season (which means a ton of fencing intensive events, particularly melees), I can swim which is MUCH easier on my hip than anything else I can do. The flip side is... I've slid out of shape, even though I tried really hard to stay active, and my hip and knee are both pretty cranky (read: painful) right now. Plus my hands, wrists, and arms hurt. It'd be very easy to throw myself into fun activities (like fencing) and then injure myself. So I have to take it carefully.
5) REST. And I don't mean sleep. I mean learning--really learning how to truly relax. I honestly don't know how. I have been pretty good about fitting in "me" time--I read daily, even when I'm only getting 4 hours of sleep or less. I treat myself to long bathes (helps me sleep sometimes too). But I have been so stressed for so long I don't remember how to be anything else. And I need to relearn how not to be stressed. How to really, truly relax--mentally and physically.
6) Remember to eat regularly. It sounds dumb but this is something I constantly struggle with. Problem a) I struggle with low blood sugar issues, so I do best if I eat small meals at regular intervals (this is also, by the way, why I don't like challenges where you don't eat after x pm--they don't always work for me). Problem b) I don't get "hungry" very often, at least not like most people do. I might have a short window--about 30 minutes--where I register "hungry" but if I'm working on something (even something for fun, like discussing Japanese heraldry on line) I often miss that window. Then I get to irritable and unable to concentrate, which is usually when I realize I'm "hungry" even though food isn't particularly appealing. If I miss that--or get distracted again, or put it off because I just don't want to deal with the hassle of cooking when food isn't appealing--I hit the shaky, dizzy, nauseous stage. All of which can hit pretty quickly--I don't have a lot of warning between the irritable stage and the crash (which feels... awful. And is really scary.) My best solution has been eating about every 3-4 hours when awake, even if it's just something small. But it can't be just veggies--it has to include carbohydrates, fats, and protein.
7) Related to that... eat more protein. I always assumed before sparks that I eat too much protein (Americans usually do, I've read) but actually I don't tend to get enough, and I've been particularly struggling with that this spring because with the temporary filling/crown I can't have nuts, sesame seeds, peanut butter, etc., which were staple protein "snacks" for me.
I think I'm going to focus on a few things to start off and then once I figure that out, build from there.
My SMART goals:
1) SLEEP. Get at least 8 hours of sleep (not necessarily how much sleep the fitbit says I got since it reads me as "awake" every time I roll over, but the time from when I go to bed with the intent of sleeping to the time I wake up) 5 days a week.
2) CAFFEINE: Drink tea instead of a soft drink in the morning--and then stick to a non-caffeinated beverage after that for 5 days a week.
3) EXERCISE: Get at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week, plus resume fencing again, hopefully at least once a week though I will have to miss fencing this week (was out of town when practice happened).
4) REST: Meditate every day, whether it's 5 minutes of sitting meditation or 20 minutes of a moving meditation. Point isn't duration, it's consistency.
5) WEIGHT LOSS: 1/2 pound a week, so 6 lbs for the challenge.
Once I feel more secure with these, I can push myself a little farther in the other areas.