What does a thesis have to do with pizza?

Happier times with pizza!

On Friday, I overate. I knew what I was doing. I didn’t like what I was doing, but I was conscious of it. Most of you know from my frequent bitching and moaning that I’m in the process of writing a thesis. Grad school is only for masochists, people who like to whip themselves with the heavy lashings of 475 page articles and the horrors of APA style. In December, I’m supposed to be done with 2.5 years of my own personal torture – a torture I inflicted on myself in the pursuit of self-betterment and personal fulfillment. Despite my complaints, I really do love learning and school. I’m just getting kind of burnt out on it.

With all of the changes going on in my life, my thesis has taken the back seat. In addition, I had completed 36 pages of my first thesis topic when it was decided that my project wasn’t sustainable and I had to start over from scratch. This week, there’s been discussion about delaying my completion date to Spring 2013. In my heart, I know this is a better option, because it will mean less sacrifice – less sacrifice of quality, and less sacrifice of time and good health. Yet, it means I’ll be prolonging the stress of this gigantic 150-page baby I’ll eventually be birthing, paying for another semester, and having to wear the hat of full-time employee + grad student for another 5 months.

So, I ordered a pizza for Matt and I for dinner, and while I flitted around the house trying to pack (have I mentioned this is my fourth trip out of town in three weeks? Yikes) I ate one piece. Then I ate a second. Then I ate a third. And then I ate a fourth. And then I stopped – and realized what I was doing, something I hadn’t done in a long time. I was emotionally eating. I was upset about my thesis and my possible delayed graduation, and I decided to push away that feeling by eating pizza. (Why does emotional eating NEVER happen with celery?). My brain was craving dopamine – an instant reward – and so I gobbled down the pizza, hoping to fill that feeling of sadness with something else.

It’s a shitty realization that sometimes your way of dealing with problems is just adding another problem to your life.  However, there’s a bright side to every little cloud of doom and gloom, and this bright side is that today, I realized what I was doing. Before I started seeing my dietician, I never knew I emotionally ate. I think I knew it but I didn’t acknowledge it, didn’t know how to stop it. I’ll never forget the day one of my former bosses told me I was a disappointment – and how right after work, I drove to the grocery store, bought a bag of potato chips, and stuffed them into my mouth as I drove home. It was the only way I knew how to deal with that absolutely raw feeling of devastation. I’ve come a long way from this type of relationship with food, but tonight proved to me that I can’t ever fully cure myself of using food to pacify emotions. We live in a culture that encourages using food for feeling – the woman who just got dumped eats ice cream, the woman with PMS craves  chocolate. After a funeral, casseroles show up at your door, and with a new job comes celebratory dinners. Birthdays mean cake and weddings mean champagne (and more cake), Christmas means cookies and Thanksgiving means turkey. Food is feeling.

Tonight, it took me awhile to get there, but I finally made that mind-body connection and thought to myself, “Stop it. You’re not hungry, you’re upset – and those are two different feelings.” That alone is progress – one that may not fix me feeling sad about a delayed graduation, but one that in the long term, will help save my life.

 

 

 

Trust and weight loss

Hey everybody! It’s confession time. I haven’t logged into MyFitnessPal all week. This would normally be a bad thing, and while I can’t say with 100% confidence that I don’t need it (because I do), I trusted myself this week. I find that weight loss, for me, is a constant battle between the angel and the devil on the shoulder. I’m at the weight I am because most of the time I listen to the devil – and he and his little pitchfork and I have a grand ole time being hedonistic with food! But this week, I tried something new – I trusted myself.

What I had for lunch - yummy!

Part of this comes from the fact that it’s been a crazy week! Work has been SO busy, school has officially exploded into the almost not do-able zone (I wonder if this thesis will be worth the gray hair), and Matt and I have been doing a lot of social things after work. Between exercise and homework and scholarship receptions and errands and class and cooking and working and freelancing and cat cuddling, I haven’t logged into MyFitnessPal, but what I have done is trust myself. I trusted myself to order a pork sandwich with baked beans instead of french fries, and I trusted myself to have a couple bites of a brownie at a work meeting today. I trusted myself to have water over diet coke (I’ve actually cut WAY down on soda – surprisingly, it hasn’t been as hard for me as I thought!), and I’ve trusted myself to be reasonable with my portion sizes, so if I’m eating something less than healthy, I know I can’t have all of it. I’m also trusting myself to squeeze in exercise where I can – like the 30 minute bike ride I took today after work.

However, I know my real challenge lies in this weekend. I’m flying up north to spend my birthday and mother’s day with my family, and that’s where the food comes out in full force. I seem to equate food with a good time, but I need to work on remembering that food is just a nice perk to an event, not the event itself. The real exciting thing is seeing my family – so I’ll try to focus on that instead of wondering when we’re going to eat. (For real, yo – that’s what happens when you grow up with dinner at 6 pm on the dot every night!)

So yeah. It’s good to trust yourself and see what happens. I weigh in with the nutritionist next Wednesday, so I will try my very very best to stay on track the next week and keep making good choices. In fact, while I trusted myself, tomorrow, it’s back to MyFitnessPal, just for a little extra help navigating the schmorgasboard this weekend.

Mirrorless Monday

Last week, I walked into my university’s bathroom to find green paper covering all the mirrors. It was Mirrorless Monday, sponored by JADE, an eating disorder awareness group.

Mirrorless Monday at California State University, Northridge

All of the mirrors were covered up, and each one had this message:

Trust us, you look great!

I contributed my own message:

NO, your butt doesn't look fat in those jeans.

And my friend and fellow grad student Stephanie wrote a message too.

Nobody cares that you have kale in your teeth!

I really liked the idea of Mirrorless Monday. As a woman, I place a lot of emphasis on what’s in the mirror. Too much. Who really cares if I wear my hair down or up? Does a zit on my nose, shining like Rudolph, determine my self-worth or value? I think not. I’m blessed to be a plus-size lady who doesn’t suffer from horrible self esteem. I’m self-concious about my body, sure, but I know I’m attractive and it’s more than just my pretty blue eyes or spiraling blonde waves. But I’m not invincible, and sometimes, you feel like the mirror determines the outcome of your day. Mirrorless Monday could help fix that. It was refreshing.

How would you feel about Mirrorless Monday? Do you like the idea or is it weird to you?

Making Time for Exercise

Hey everybody! How you doin’ out there? I feel a little distant this week… because school is in FULL BLOWN “GO” mode, and life is just moving along at a crazy pace. Here’s what my schedule was like yesterday: Work from 8 AM – 3:30 PM. Class from 4:00 – 7: 00. Participate in Social Media Panel from 7:00 – 9:00 PM. Eat Dinner at 9:30 PM. Work on homework from 9:30 – 11:00 PM. 11:00 Go to bed.

Thankfully not everyday is as crazy as that, but today was not much better with working from 9:00 – 5:00 PM and then heading right to the hospital for allergy shots from 5:30 – 6:30 PM and then the rest of the evening being spent doing homework. It’s exhausting, right? It’s exhausting and I’ve been slacking about fitness because of it.

Fitness is fun with Richard Simmons! Why can't it be like this every time?!

I work with a wonderful and very funny friend named Jenny. She’s become a Weight Watchers buddy for me, and tonight, a reality check. We were texting back and forth about a Zumba class for $5 that’s offered at my workplace at 7 PM. I normally leave work at 5 PM, so I’ve been hesitant to stay for Zumba because that’s two hours of “home” time I get to have. After I hemmed and hawed and explained why I didn’t want to stay for Zumba, she hit me with this one: “You know you’re going to go home and veg and not exercise! If there’s no time to exercise then you won’t lose weight as fast as you like.”

She’s right. I’m the mayor of excuses village. When it comes to weight loss, I transform into a flubbery, blubbering “But this is why this happened! It’s genetics! It’s because I’m bloated! It’s because my jeans weigh a pound and a half! It’s because I ate that salty soup!”

The reality is that I need to be accountable for the mistakes I make in regards to weight loss, just like I am at work. If I screw up on something at work, I fess up, because usually just admitting your mistake is going to make it better. Like when I got busted in a meeting this week by my colleague as I was doodling hearts and stars all over my legal pad .”Did you get that, Alyssa?” she said, with a bit of sarcasm in her voice. With a straight face, I looked up and said, “Nope. I wasn’t listening. I’m sorry, can you repeat it?” There’s no need to lie because I’m transparent about my actions at work. I’m not perfect. I will never be. I have no problem admitting it. Perfection isn’t the problem, its commitment. It’s willpower. How bad do I want this?

I’m struggling because I am genuinely, honestly busy. I don’t have a lot of free time. But I need to make this a priority, just like I make work and grad school and my husband and my friends and family a priority. How do you fit it all in? We’re all busy, so I can’t keep using it as an excuse. Life is busy. As John Lennon once said, life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.

Do you find lack of time can screw up your eating or fitness habits? What do you do to be prepared? Any hints for a gal like me – short on time but big on hope?