Busy busy bee

Have you guys heard Rimsky Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumble Bee?” Take a listen from these fine fellows of Canadian Brass:

I feel like this piece is the musical accompaniment to my life the past three weeks. As you know, I’m in the final stages of finishing my master’s degree, a three-year long process that’s caused me a lot of grief. When you write a thesis, you go through millions of revisions, up to the point that you “defend”, which means you basically defend your completed work in front of a small group people and respond back to the comments and constructive criticism your graduate committee might have. At this point they can either sign a piece of paper granting you approval, and you graduate, or they can say they need more changes before they sign it and hopefully you’ll graduate, or they can say “You’re SOL”. I’ve been making changes left and right, and I’m really hoping on Thursday when I defend that I’ll have minimal changes to make before I get the all-clear to graduate. It’s been crazy… and I’m ready to get my life back to the still very busy but totally doable routine of work, blog, fitness, relationships, friends and maybe, just maybe, house-hunting. (PS big shout out to April for being so awesome and picking up my blogging slack! You go, girl!)

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been stressed. My desire to stress-eat has been intense. After one particularly rough day last week when I got the first set of revisions and 10 e-mails stared me down with lists of things I had to immediately change, my first instinct was to make popcorn and crunch away my anxiety. But I didn’t – I took a quick walk around the block, came back, had a mango, and settled down to get to it.

Yes, I still ate out of stress, but it was a small mango – much less damaging than a bowl of calorie-laden salty crunchy popcorn. (PS – My latest passionate fruit love affair is definitely Mango. I just took our relationship to the next level by buying the giant jumbo pack from Costco!) I’m still making time to fit in exercise, and tonight, I met with a friend (Hi Suz!) for a long leisurely walk. I’m trying to view exercise as less of an item on my to-do list and more of as a natural stress relief. I know those endorphins will mellow me out, because my body’s been in a particularly flighty panic mode as I imagine not graduating and being sentenced to what feels like the rest of my life in grad school. But that’s just anxiety – anxiety I can work through by getting good nights of sleep, eating well, and fitting in exercise when I can. It’s weeks like this that remind me even if the scale isn’t showing what I want, I’ve made huge changes in my life when it comes to food and fitness.The old Alyssa would have no problem eating popcorn when stressed, nor would she hesitate to blow off all forms of fitness just because it was one more thing to do. But Alyssa 2.0 knows that living a healthy life means not just losing weight, but managing stress, too.

Have you been stressed out this week? How are you managing it?

Tuesday Tidbits

Hello lovelies! How was your Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? I didn’t know I had the day off, and when I called in for my morning conference, myself and the other telecommuter were on the line by ourselves, when we received an e-mail that we were off for the day! That was a nice surprise! I spent my day off lazing about, working on my thesis, meeting some old friends for lunch and enjoying the company of OUR NEW KITTEN!

Our new kitten!

Our new kitten!

Meet Oliver! Oliver is nine weeks old and from the South Los Angeles shelter. We had originally met his little brother “Note” but Note was already claimed for adoption. I wrote on the shelter’s Facebook wall asking if they had any other kittens and VOILA, turns out Note had a brother! Oliver was originally named Cymbal, but we felt his playful spirit, curious nature and mischievous face deserved a cheeky name like Oliver. Isn’t he a little love? Our teenaged cat Lucia is not yet thrilled about his arrival, but I know in a few weeks they’ll be curled up together like old chums.

Walking to the grocery store!

Walking to the grocery store!

After a few weeks of recovering from jetlag and a cold, I was ready to get back into a fitness routine this weekend. As we drove Oliver home from the shelter Friday night, we were stopped at a red light when all of a sudden, BOOM! Another car slammed into my little car from behind, pushing us forward. We pulled off to the side and miraculously there was no damage, but I was feeling pretty shaken up after my first car accident (but nobody was hurt and it wasn’t my fault. Whew!). It’s really alarming how much you can feel the impact of being rear-ended – I felt the jolt from the base of my spine up through my neck. I took it easy the rest of the weekend as I felt kind of stiff and sore and didn’t want to push my luck. However, I made sure I got some activity and did some good, physical chores – like planting daffodil bulbs, weeding the garden and walking to the grocery store.

Sleeping Kitten. Awww.

Sleeping Kitten. Awww.

This week I have a couple fun things lined up for you – a sister/sister review of the FullBeauty Camisole Bra, a review and giveaway of the KalorieBox, and a recipe for Guacahummus, my newest snack obsession. I also need to figure out a new way to track my weight loss progress, because I want to “start over” with my weight loss goal and start counting down from the FULL amount of weight I need to lose. I originally said 50 pounds because that seemed like a doable, not scary number to achieve first. Now that I’m about 20-22 pounds in (depending on the day), I need to face the reality that I have much more than 30 pounds to go until I’m at a healthy weight and BMI. So watch for that in the next few weeks 🙂 Ok – I’m out for now, but I hope you had a wonderful, safe weekend!

 

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.

 

 

 

Weekend Wrap Up!

Toffee at rocket fizz

Hey everybody! I had so much fun this weekend, despite the 102 degree heat in my hometown…  Friday night, Matt and I had dinner at our favorite local Indian food place, Clay Oven. I ordered Matar Paneer in honor of my paneer-flop from the night before. It was deeeeelicious! After dinner, we went next door to Rocket Fizz, a soda and candy shop! We sampled a couple different types of toffee and I tried a low-cal rootbeer, sweetened with honey. It was only 30 calories and so refreshing to try a soda made with natural ingredients as opposed to buckets of aspartame, nutrisweet, sucralose, etc.

Pre-lobster snoozing on the sand

On Saturday, I went to water aerobics with my buddy Virginia and did some aqua-cardio for an hour. The fun in the sun didn’t stop, because Matt and I headed out to Zuma beach in Malibu where he boogie-boarded in the waves while I read and accidentally fell asleep on the sand. Note to self, and helpful hint for everyone else: If there is even a SLIGHT possibility that you will fall asleep on the beach, RE-APPLY SUNSCREEN. I am stupidly suffering from my mistake and cringing every time the crease of skin behind my knee cap moves, which is often. My legs seriously look like I’m wearing red tights, and the best part is how white my bum is in comparison. My lower half looks like a peppermint. No, it’s not sexy. Who says wisdom comes with age?

After the beach we went and saw Beasts of the Southern Wild, which is a very interesting film. Slightly depressing, but really interesting to see and learn about the people of Louisiana who live in the impoverished “bathtub” and choose to live free from modern civilization. It was a phenomenal acting job by the 5-year-old who played “Hushpuppy”, but it’s not a movie I’d pick again for a feel-good Saturday night flick.

Shelley and I rock the golden togas

Today, we went to a Golden Christmas in July party! My sweet friend Merrie hosted with her friends Brian and Erin at their gorgeous house in Thousand Oaks. The party was catered with amazing turkey, ham, roast potatoes and cheeses, and I kept well hydrated on the free flowing lemonade and iced tea. Because my friend Shelley is a creative genius, she came up with these gold togas and hair flowers for the party. Aren’t we cute? She’ll be selling homemade toffee soon… it’s out of this world, you can bet I’m going to link it as soon as her site is up!

Sweet, sweet watery relief.

 

One of the highlights of the party, besides the wonderful people and amazing food, was the crystal clear pool. I waded in and it felt like a chorus of angels singing sweet cooling relief to my sun-chapped calves. Don’t I look ecstatic? At this point Shelley and I had changed out of our stylish gold togas, because while as glittery and beautiful as they were, we quickly learned that Lamé does not breathe. It was a fabulous party, and after several hours I had to peel myself away from the cheese tray and head back to the ‘burbs to work on my thesis.

This weekend was jam packed with fun times, and while I had some food challenges (cheese tray, popcorn, birthday cake), I didn’t majorly overdo it and managed to squeeze in some exercise. I’ll be posting a weight-in post soon, but if you’ve been following the My Fitness Pal counter on the side of the blog, I’m down about 7 pounds when the scale is accurate kind to me. The past week has been a little wacky and I’ve been yo-yoing a  bit, but I think that’s more due to some salty choices and weird heat than actual weight gain, because my jeans are feeling loose. (I LOVE that feeling. Such a good feeling.)

Anyways, thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful week! I start my new job tomorrow, so send me some happy first day vibes, please! 🙂 What did you do this weekend that was fun?

 

 

 

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.