Sunday, October 13, 2013

I'm listening...

I WILL learn how to feed this body.

I've mentioned several times on this blog how I don't understand what hunger feels like. I can eat a decent meal, then half an hour or an hour later feel things I define as "hungry." This is not empty belly, tummy grumbling hunger. It's an emptiness in my gut, which is also somehow discomfort in my head. I became so frustrated with this contradiction, I Googled "What does hunger feel like?"

Which led me almost directly to THIS post by the Fat Nutritionist. I'm not ready to sign on for 12 sessions at $75 each, but what she had to say in that one post made a lot of sense to me. I never thought about different types of hunger. Empty belly hunger. Have a taste for it hunger. Desperation hunger. Chemical hunger. 

She describes Chemical Hunger much as I describe this nebulous not-hunger-but-defined-as-hunger feeling. It never occurred to me I might actually have a dietary deficiency, causing that phantom not-empty-but-still-hungry feeling. I don't know what nutrient I'm missing, but apparently I've been missing it for a while. I'd stopped taking a multivitamin ages ago because they upset my stomach. I've now reassessed that decision and found a chewable that does not appear to cause the same issues. I don't know yet if it includes whatever it is I'm missing, but it's a step in the right direction.

Her post spoke to me enough that I read the comments. I don't usually read internet post comments, but I read every single one of these. I found there are a whole slew of people who understand chemical hunger, and who describe it much like the feelings I've described. I also found a community of like-minded people who don't want to obsess over food, don't want to count calories, feel deprived, or feel guilty for eating things they enjoy.

I also found information on Jean Antonello, RN, RD (How To Become Naturally Thin by Eating More, Breaking Out of the Food Jail, web site: naturally-thin.com). What I read there also made complete and utter sense to me. Eat when you're hungry. Stop when you're not. I've tried to do that off and on for quite a while. The chemical hunger thing always confused me though, so I didn't know when I was hungry. Turns out I was hungry the whole time.

The idea behind eat-when-you're-hungry is your body knows what it needs. Controversial, I know. This concept is coupled with the fact your body goes into starvation mode when you're hungry and don't eat. It starts packing away pounds like a squirrel hiding nuts to survive the lean winter months. Duh. Every dieter knows this. Jean Antonello's approach to address this instinctive behavior is to reassure your body it will be fed EVERY time it's hungry, as soon as it gets hungry. Once the body recognizes it is not in danger of starving, it will stop asking for extra calories and your weight will balance out to a healthy norm. 

These revelations have prompted a return to the eat-when-you're-hungry plan. I make sure to have healthy food with me at all times. Snack bags of various veggies in my lunch bag. A bag of trail mix in my purse. Small portions of zucchini lasagna, chicken marsala, or whatever meals I've planned for the week. When I think I'm hungry, I trust I am hungry and eat something, even if I just ate 15 minutes ago. I may only eat an oz. of green beans. I might eat 3 oz of carrots. I might eat a hard boiled egg or a portion of whatever meal I have with me. I don't eat a full MEAL because I'm never hungry enough that I need that much food. I just eat enough to satisfy the hunger I do feel. I don't find it necessary to clean my plate, and I believe I enjoy my food more now that I'm not stressing over what or how much I eat.

It's only been a couple days. I'm not tracking calories so I don't where I am on the "calories in, calories out" scale. I do know I haven't binged since I started this, and binging can be a nightly occurrence around these parts. I know the only desert I've wanted is pumpkin ice cream, because, well, PUMPKIN, and I've only had one large spoonful of that. I've gone out to eat twice since starting this, and do not feel I over-ate either time. I'm supposed to go out to eat with a friend today, and do not fear that I will eat too much, as was my norm until now.

I am still eating grain-free, because I do believe grains exacerbate my auto-immune issues. This is free reign to eat anything I want, any time I want, but it is not free reign to eat ALL. THE. FOOD. I eat when I'm hungry, I stop when I'm no longer hungry, and I eat foods that are nutritionally dense enough to convince my body it's getting fed. This requires that I listen to my body not only for hunger signals, but also for satiation signals. No mindless eating. I'm not eating long enough to go mindless, anyway. I have a few bites. I stop for a minute. Maybe I have a few more bites. Usually I put it away for later at that point. Later might be 15 minutes and it might be an hour.

 So far the only downside I've found is I wake up at 5am and want a hard boiled egg or chicken wing, then go back to bed for another hour or two. I did find myself eating more than a handful of trail mix last night, so maybe my body is trying to find a balance between feeding and sleeping.

I took a week off of exercise and running in the midst of all this. Everything I did hurt. Everything was more difficult than I thought it ought to be, and therefore not enjoyable at all. I don't know how much of that has to do with whatever deficiency it is I'm dealing with. I don't know if I was over-training. I do know I plan to start back up this week with only a little back-pedaling. Weekday runs of 4 miles instead of 6. I'd traded in pushups for weight training, and want to pick that back up 2x a week. I'll still do the pushups because I still have those goals, but I'll scale back to 50-70/day for now. I'm adding in a mid-week yoga class in lieu of the 3rd weight training day. The weekend runs will stay on track, because I can always walk when I need during those. Throughout all of this I'll have dates and nuts and snacks available to address any hunger/energy issues that arise.

I've abused and ignored and insisted I knew better than my body what it needed, for nigh on 25 years now. I've been willing to try supplements and fad diets, trying to force it to comply. Now I'm willing to love my body enough to trust it knows what it needs. I never tried that before.

Now, I'm listening.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Trying

I don't know who besides Superman is aware of my love for T-Rex Trying. It's the same joke, day after day after day, just presented in a different way every time. And every single time it makes me laugh, usually out loud.

I'm paying attention to my smiles and my laughter lately. Noticing it's there, which is a good thing. I'm no longer overly stressed at work, and have come to terms with the stress of living with my youngest child. Yes, even though I love him, and even though he's a reasonably mature house-mate, I feel stress with him in the house. I'd gotten used to having my house to myself. I'm not sure what that says about moving in with Superman, but we're moving toward that goal so I guess I'm going to find out.

Over all, things are going well. I met with my manager today, and we agreed (though it terrifies me a bit) I should start picking up more challenging work. I'm now supposed to pick up small and extra small cards. I felt a bit adrift last week, so it's a good thing we agreed I should focus more on working and less on training. I only have a couple more classes, one more assessment, and one more item on my new hire check list. I'll definitely have my engineer's cap (yes, they give out a real striped engineer's cap when complete training) by end of month.

More good news came from management, in the form of an unexpected consultant's budget they received from Finance. It means Bacon Patrol is getting an overhaul. This will include SQL stored procedure refinement, and either integration with the main company product or conversion to a .NET environment. Or both. Or at least the determination of whether either of these things are feasible. The biggest news is it will happen this calendar year, as opposed to "some time in the next 5 years or so." The best news is, no matter what they do it will look good on my resume.  
OK, so maybe it's not ALWAYS the same joke...
Random change of subject:

I'm supposed to give a 10 minute Lightening Talk as part of my year end goals. A Lightening Talk can be on any subject. It's about getting people accustomed to public speaking, but also about sharing information, which falls under the Best Practices category. The Lightening Talk doesn't have to be about computers or code. It should be about something I know enough about to share.

This has me thinking. What exactly do I know? Which led me to "What do I spend all my time on?" Which led me to "What can I talk about on my blog, other than work and food and running?" I spend a lot of time thinking about work and food and running.

It's hard to come up with a computer related topic when I know my audience includes the senior developers. What can I teach them, in their own area of expertise? I decided to spend some more time on the keyboard sharing I learned about when I was attempting to multi-box World of Warcraft. This led me to a program I didn't try back then, which has me itching to try it now. I haven't played WoW for several months, but I might log on again for a minute, just to try this out. Maybe. When I'm not swamped with other projects. As Superman says, "Winter is coming..."

I spend a lot of time talking about, researching and thinking about my diet. I don't know that I'd be comfortable doing a Lightening Talk on all my food issues, on Paleo or gluten free or sugar addiction. I carry a lot of information in my head on those topics, and about supplements that address my personal, specific issues. I'm already considered something of a food weirdo because I drink homemade pumpkin spice lattes out of a quart mason jar, and I bring my own ceramic bowl to the cafeteria. I don't like hot food in styrofoam. I'd rather wash a bowl than throw out plastic. I'm odd that way.

I could talk about running, about how someone would start running. I spend a lot of time both running and thinking about running. I actually just worked it out with my manager that I can leave early 2x a week over the winter, so I can get my weekday runs in during daylight. I'd recommend a couch to 5k type of program for beginners, though I didn't start out that way. I could talk about fast twitch and slow twitch muscles, since that's my current research focus. Turns out if I have fast twitch muscles, they aren't firing. This doesn't surprise me in the slightest.

I'm not sure what else I have to talk about. Lately, I've spent a lot of time on a Bejeweled type phone app. I spend a lot of time reading running blogs, quotes and comics. I spend a lot of time organizing the things I want to do on my Trello boards, but the things I want to do are not anything I can talk about for 10 minutes. So far this week's Trello accomplishments include: organizing my photos and removing duplicates, researching another supplement that's supposed to help lower blood pressure, looking into wireless internet providers in my area, housework items, organizing my file cabinet, researching how to create a Windows 7 USB recovery disc, and finding a piercing place to put in permanent earrings. I'm getting a lot done, but none of it is exciting or even noteworthy.
I also love the antithesis of the TRex joke...
The fact of the matter is, I have a lot of random, non-technical shit in my head. My interests range from writing to sculpting to glass blowing. I've researched things like how to get grease spots and the smell of cat urine out of laundry. I don't know who was in the latest movie, but I know how to feed a cat real food (Thanks to Superman). I've no idea what happened on Breaking Bad's finale, but I can tell you about Titanoboa, real stories from The Moth, highlights from the latest TED Talks and the 2013 National Poetry Slam.

Because I'm an over-achiever, even without a firm topic idea I've expanded the "give a Lightening Talk" goal to "Give a Lightening Talk every quarter." This means I need to continuously look for things to research and become a 10 minute expert on. This works for me, because I like to research and find out about things. I just need to find the right things to find out about. I did realize I know a few things about Microsoft Office my team mates do not, such as format painter. I also copy out column headings of particularly hairy SQL tables, paste and transpose them in Excle, then convert them to a table so I can see column names in alphabetical order. There may be a better way to do that in Management Studio, but I use the tools I know.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Catch up

How has it been a week since I've posted? I've had ideas and things I wanted to write about. I've saved tidbits and comics and quotes. I just haven't had the time or energy to post somehow.

The week started off really well. I completed a card at work with minimal help, learning new things about Bacon Patrol in the process. The card failed QA the next day, but it wasn't because of anything I did. Turns out I have to test things like apartment number changes in multiple databases, because they can be formatted differently. I'm told I'm not officially a developer until I can say "It worked on my machine!" I didn't get an answer on the question "If it worked on my database, is that the same as it worked on my machine?" I'm thinking the answer is yes. I'm almost bona fide!

I actually am almost bona fide. I've completed everything on my new hire list, except pairing with someone for the full duration of a card. Somehow I can't seem to convince anyone to pair with me, either because they forget I need to pair or because no one is available. I'm not taking it personally though. I've seen other Devs ask for pairing and have to ask again and again. I still have an 8.5 hour death-by-PowerPoint to watch (scheduled for this coming week) and I finished watching 3.5 hours on algorithms on Friday. I still have to pass .NET Fundamentals, Test Data Management, and Test Driven Development. I have one more "Cornerstone" course and an assessment of them all to pass yet, too. The Cornerstone courses cover the company ideals and goals.

So close to being done with training, and so ready to be done as well. I feel very much in limbo without regular classes, but not picking up regular cards yet because there are other training things yet to do. At least that's how I felt this past week. I've cleaned up most of the other things now, and will hopefully have a bit more focus this coming week.

I've been pushing the physical work a bit as well, which is probably why I haven't had energy to do things like post. I hit 100 push-ups 4 days last week, which is a record. I'm aiming for that every day, before increasing the numbers and set sizes. Ultimately I want to bang out 100 push-ups in the morning, get on with my day, then bang out another 100 before going to bed. This does not include the play I'm giving my pull-up bar, either. I want 100 pull-ups and 100 chin-ups too, but the push-ups come first.

My weekend runs are consistently 12-13 miles (same route, but my GPS tells me it's a different distance every week!). The runs take a bit out of me, I think because a good half the way I'm running the grass median instead of the sidewalk. I very much prefer trail running, but also prefer running home from Superman's as a long run. I spend time on each of those runs envisioning new routes and added miles on for upcoming runs, as I'm getting close to "Here there be dragons" territory. My first 14 miler is scheduled for the end of this month, and most my long runs after will be at distances I've never run before.

My week-day runs have suffered, in part because I'm losing daylight in the evenings. I'm very uncomfortable running in the dark, having face-planted more than once. I have it on my schedule to talk with my manager about how to fit in daylight runs 2x a week. I can either take 2 hour lunches 2x a week, or leave way early 2x a week. Sundown is right around 5 through December, before the days lengthen again, so that will be the worst it gets. Right now I've changed parks I run in, to one with streetlights at least part of the way. That will work for another month or so, and I'm going to see if flashlights on the path with help. Paths as opposed to uneven sidewalks and curbs will also help.
Because it made me laugh... in a wry, self-depreciating sort of way
I have quite a few things I've been meaning to share, which would make this post excessively lengthy. Hopefully I'll get some of them up during the week this week. I've read some books some of you might find interesting. I've found some websites I'm enjoying tremendously. Mostly I've spent a lot of time playing with my Trello boards, coming up with things I want to do and in some cases actually doing them. I never get everything done I think I will in a given time period, so I'm learning about myself and time management in the process.

Lastly, as usual, I've focused on how to fuel this body. I've learned I'm comfortable at 1800 calories a day, but I don't lose weight in that range. I'm very much trying to focus on "eat when I'm hungry," and letting myself get quite hungry before eating. However, I cannot let myself get too hungry or I will eat everything and still not be satisfied. I also cannot let myself get hungry at night, or I don't sleep well. I eat several small meals (~300 calories) which are high in protein, and keep my carb count under 100. My body also seems to like a gallon of unsweetened tea a day. These are all goals, of course, not hard and fast and set in stone. I have to be flexible in what I eat, because I'm flexible in how many calories I expend in a day. I long for a day when I can eat when I'm hungry and not worry about how many calories I've consumed. I hear that's possible, but I've never experienced it myself. I have found with the current plan that I don't always finish what is in front of me, which is a new behavior. Maybe that's the key I've been missing. Maybe.
I've also learned it's definitely wheat/gluten/grains that cause my ankles to swell. I don't know if that's because it raises my blood pressure, or affects my auto-immune disease, or exactly why it happens. I've been able to demonstrate to myself it is the case though. Sugar, while addictive, is not the culprit in this instance.

Or, I can just be happy where I am, which really is an option. I am active and not unattractive. It could happen.

Monday, September 30, 2013

On food and body image and stuff

Internal dialog is so odd. I spent over an hour today researching this Solyent food substitute, because even while I'm a huge proponent of real food, I'm also broken when it comes to diet and losing weight. I've said in the past if I could just take a pill for my nutrition, I would. Then I could turn down all manner of yummy-but-horrible-for-me foods just by saying "No thanks. I don't eat."

And yes, I'm aware of Solyent Green. The creator of this Solyent formula insists the "made from people" aspect of the movie was a Hollywood invention, that the original books had a soy-based recipe.

Solyent kind of sort of looked like that magic pill, at first glance. All the nutrition you need, without the sugars in Ensure and other over the counter meal replacements. Supposedly kind of sweet and not disgusting tasting. It was only when I dug further I started hearing "completely processed" in the back of my mind. I started reading the articles for and against, and had to agree with the ones who said:
"This guy is a computer programmer, not a nutritionist or scientist."
"He's only spent a few months working this out."
"It's still in beta form."
"It's baby formula for adults, but bottle fed babies are not as healthy as breastfed."
"We don't yet know the full range of necessary human nutrition."
I was excited about the idea for a minute. Excited enough to come one click away from a $230/month supply, before I came to my senses.

This is not the direction I'm trying to go. I'm trying to eat real food. Healthy food.

The direction I'm going, as of earlier today (before I saw the Solyent article) is to treat my weight loss as a project. There are things I need to remember to do, goals I want to achieve. I've created a Trello board to track these things. I'm on Trello every day anyway, sorting out my personal and work tasks. I'm hoping just having these things in front of me regularly will help in achieving them.

Friday, September 27, 2013

I'll sleep when I'm dead

Turns out I don't write well when I'm fatigued. I don't do much of anything well, when I'm fatigued.

I've been fatigued all week. Sunday's long run took a lot out of me, as it has the past few weeks. I'm not certain why, since the distance hasn't changed. Maybe it has to do with the increased mileage during the week. My mid-week runs are now both 6 miles, in the very hilly Solon park. I'm not really timing any of my runs and I'm spending at least some time walking every time out, so I don't think it's that I'm pushing harder that way. I started to write a post about the shin issues that have plagued this running season. The TLDR (too long didn't read) version is I need to stretch and roll my calves more. At least that seemed  to help on my last run. It wasn't perfect, but definitely better. I did add a very short sprint run Saturday. Ninja and I raced light pole to light pole for about a mile, then walked back. Good times, and not likely to have emptied my tank the way it has been lately.

My fatigue might also have to do with the push-ups I've been doing daily. I was up to 100 push-ups a day for a minute, though the last few days I've slacked off a bit. I even had 2 days where I was doing them in sets of 20. Now my upper body is fatigued enough a set of 10 is a challenge again.

I'm having allergy issues too, which isn't helping. I'm not certain how much the allergies are related to autumn, and how much to my crappy diet of late. I got completely off track while on vacation. I've had moments here and there since, but haven't really gotten my diet back together. I'm certain I'd be better off completely without sugar and grains, but I can't seem to convince that whiny little kid inside that ice cream, chips, and candy are off limits. What happened over vacation and since is proof enough I can't have "just one."

None of this is helped by the fact I'm not sleeping well again. I haven't figured out the cause of that either. It could be my poor diet, though I think part of the diet issue is in direct result of the poor sleep. I eat crap because I'm tired and looking for energy. It starts with sugar-laced coffee about mid-day. Turns out sugar is something of a gateway drug to grain-based foods, at least in my world.

The poor sleep might have something to do with my hydration levels, which have dropped by half since I stopped drinking soda. I've still not had any soda, and I'm finding I enjoy teas I thought I'd ruled out without sweetener. My tastes must be changing. Unfortunately, it appears I don't like the unsweetened teas as much as I did the teas laced with Monster. I have to seriously think about drinking them, which has not been happening.

Ultimately what all this means is, workout-wise, this is a down week. I actually did not run my 2nd 6-miler yesterday as planned. I will not run it today, as back-up planned. Hopefully by Sunday's long run time I'll have gotten enough sleep to catch up on the week's worth of 4 and 5 hour nights.

At least it's been a good week, work-wise. I was able to work on a card in the Bacon Patrol product. I didn't get it done completely solo, but I am content with the progress I made on my own, and the card passed the first time through QA. That is an accomplishment. I finished the book I was reading, wrote my reaction paper, and am on to the next book. I also created a Trello board for books I want to read in the future, so I can prioritize and keep track. Goddess, your book is on the list as my current non-work read. I will hopefully have edits on the first chapter for you by the end of the weekend.

What I have to do now is figure out how to schedule in my learning. I need to spend probably an hour a day learning C# coding. Starting at 8 or 9pm is not working for me, which means after work does not work for me since that's when I get home from my runs. I could maybe make it work 2 days a week, which would be better than I'm getting right now. I just need to find a way to make it happen, instead of sitting down to my computer and looking up from YouTube several hours later, wondering where the evening went. Fatigued + Learning do not go well together.

I'm also secretly amused that this is happening directly after I decided to move my bedtime up an hour. Never fails, as soon as I make a decision regarding sleep, diet, or training, I sabotage myself and the decision goes out the window. I'm not letting up on this one though. Not getting enough sleep is likely a direct contributor to my poor late night eating habits. I am determined to figure out how to feed this body, without overfeeding it. I believe sleep is a key factor. It can't hurt other areas of my life, either!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Notes to Self - the bullet point edition

  • Sunglasses on a cloudy day can cause delusions of vision, where you believe you see everything fine while out running until a dog bark distracts you and you trip over a rock you didn't even know was there because you didn't see it through your tunnel vision and the hazy lens.  
  • Congratulations! You've proven once again that sugar is a gateway drug and having just a little will ultimately lead to having a lot more than a little and most likely a lot of grain-based foods as well before you reign it back and start to eat sensibly again. 
  • 100 push-ups a day is awesome! Keep it up!


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Real Talk

Yesterday's post was full of frustration, which is not surprising considering I was supposed to start the Primal Challenge and made it one day. As I drifted off to sleep however, I realized the day was not a complete failure.
I now know 1500 calories is not enough for me. Thursday wasn't even a workout day, meaning all I did was the sets of push-ups I've been doing periodically throughout the day. I didn't hit 10K steps. I did not do much of anything physical, beyond my normal day-to-day. Yesterday was the same, activity-wise. A few more steps for walking to the restaurant, and maybe an extra trip up and down stairs.
I did 80 pushups yesterday, which is a new record. One I now have to strive to beat today.
It's been 3 weeks since I've had any soda. That in itself is a success, considering soda has been a mainstay for 3/4 my lifetime.
While I binged on corn chips and ice cream, I did not add rice and beans and tortillas, and the ice cream was actually sorbet. "It could have been worse" is not the best approach to weight loss, but it is, in fact, fact.
Today is, as always, a brand new, fresh clean day. It also happens to be the start of my menu week, when I make my plans, get my shopping done, and set myself up for the week ahead.

My goal is currently somewhere around .7g protein per pound of body weight, healthy fats as defined by Mark's Daily Apple, and a carb count under 75 if possible. The closer to 50g carbs, the happier I am with that. I'm trying not to obsess, which means I fuss over my menu today, then leave be for the rest of the week. If I stick to the menu I know approximately how many calories and micronutrients I'm consuming.

The thing is to stick to the menu, which means I need to be prepared for surprise hunger on workout days, or if this plan is not enough to sustain.

Life. It's an adventure.



Friday, September 20, 2013

Why?

Today answers the question WHY. Why do I never lose weight? Why do I find it so difficult to stay grain and sugar free?

Because I go out to eat on a regular basis, and I allow myself one bite. One bite always leads to many, many more bites.


Mexican. Every Friday we go out to Mexican. I've tried changing the restaurant. I've tried not going. It's Friend's Night Out though, so not going week after week is not an option. I did pretty well for a while, resisting the chips, getting meals without the rice and bean sides. I ordered a meal without the rice and bean side today. I also ate far too many chips, then had fudge, then an ice cream when I got home. These were my choices, and nobody's fault but my own.

I think the real problem is I don't really know how much food I need on a daily basis. I started a Primal challenge yesterday. With it, I'm not so much counting calories, but I did start tracking my protein and carbs again. I couldn't help but notice I came in right about 1500 calories. Protein and carbs were both under the percentages I'd set. Of course, this is all relative and estimated. None of these numbers are hard and 100% accurate.

I went to bed last night a little hungry. Not starving, and I didn't wake up starving either. I did however wake up after only 5 hours, and couldn't get back to sleep. I wasn't thirsty. Just a little hungry. Just a small, niggling little hunger. Not enough to make me get out of bed, but apparently enough to keep me awake.

I finally got up around 6:30 and puttered around with my morning routine. Did some pushups. Got some laundry and dishes done. Got ready and left for work. I didn't eat until almost 10. Intermittent fasting is supposed to be good, according to the site I'm doing the challenge for. I agree with their reasoning, and even more with the "you're only supposed to eat when hungry" thought process. I wasn't trying to fast. I just wasn't really hungry.

Another problems is, I don't really know what hunger is. I think I do, but how can I be only slightly hungry overnight, into the morning, and not really hungry until 10am? Does really hungry feel like you need to eat now or you're going to be sick? Or your stomach is going to eat it's way out of you? Does it affect your head and sinuses? Does it go away when you drink water? Does it go away at all, if you ignore it? I sometimes feel something that might be hunger, but it might be something else entirely. I don't know what it is. It happens sometimes when I've recently eaten, so shouldn't be hunger. I interpret it as hunger though, which is why I'm so confused. I do know what REALLY hungry feels like. I don't know what just plain hunger is.

Unfortunately, letting myself get REALLY hungry creates a whole different set of problems. Today's problem didn't start when I let myself have a bite of chips. It started when I went through all the food I'd brought to work, about 2/3 the protein and carbs I'd allotted for the day, and I still wasn't satisfied. I never caught up from waiting until 10am to eat, or from not eating enough yesterday. I didn't necessarily feel hungry. I didn't necessarily feel full. I just wanted more... something. I'd avoided the donuts my manager brought in, but it only took a moment after noticing the candy bars in the coffee room to decide a dark chocolate candy bar was primal. Yeah, right. I suppose I should be happy I stopped at one candy bar.

I went through about 3/4 gallon of tea today, where normally I drink a full gallon or more. I was REALLY hungry and thirsty on the way home. I had a couple macadamias, then Superman and I walked the mile to the restaurant. I didn't even balk a little at the chips. I didn't think about it. I just dove in as soon as they were in front of me. Then I ate probably a full basket by myself. Then everything on my plate. The a piece of fudge. Then more chips. Then I bought ice cream on the way home, and ate all of that too.

So where did this slippery slope begin, and how do I catch the warning flags to prevent it from happening again? Should I have gone to the cafeteria for a burger or salad? Should I have drank more tea? I did not have any salad or veggies today, until dinner. That definitely would have been the better choice, over chocolate, chips, and ice cream. I don't know if it would have stopped the binge. Maybe. It probably would have resulted in a different type of binge, since I tend to eat everything on my plate. I've taken food home in the past though. I don't know where my right mindset left me.

I firmly believe primal is the answer for me. I've been overweight now for 20 years, and I know sugar free and grain free are the key. I just have to figure out how to convince the part of me that so often just doesn't care. The spoiled child in me that wants what I want, when I want it, damn the consequences and full speed ahead.
I don't know, Jillian. I don't yet have the answer to that why.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Alcoholic, much?

While I am certainly no teetotaler, I like to think I'm not a big drinker either. I only go out once a month or so, if that. Granted, when I do go out I've been known to get completely smashed. I will stop drinking at a certain point, before I actually get sick, but it's only because I know the next drink will make me sick. Also, having a few beers on a Saturday night has somehow become a thing most weekends. Also, the occasional drink at Friend's Night Out (FNO) on Friday night has become a thing.

When my boys were younger, I refused to drink in front of them (except for that one birthday party... and that one New Year's Eve...) I didn't keep alcohol in the house. Now they are of age, I will occasionally have a beer (or 5) with them. I keep alcohol in the house, which has caused a problem or two when I thought someone else was drinking my stash.

I should probably explain that I'm a freak when it comes to alcohol. My dad insisted he was not an alcoholic, but his drinking affected quite a few events in my childhood. My first love was in AA. That relationship did not turn out well. The father of my children was a raging alcoholic. These have made me quite gun-shy, and I fear my children will exhibit alcoholic tendencies. They are rolling their eyes at me while reading this, but the fear remains.

I never claimed to be consistent. In this instance, my inconsistencies might be because I occasionally see traces of those alcoholic tendencies in myself. Put a drink in front of me, I'll probably drink it. I am protective of my stash, even if I'm not drinking it or planning to drink it any time soon. I don't drink on weeknights, but periodically think about having a beer (beer = gluten free cider) when I get home. Lately I've found myself with a new, alcohol related dilemma:

Right now I do my long run on Saturdays. Long runs are very important to me, because I have marathon and ultra marathon goals. If I miss my long runs I'll never get to those distances. If I try to run the longer distances without gradually increasing my long runs, I'll end up hurting myself and be out of commission for weeks or even months at a time. Since running is the only exercise I've ever continued doing long term, taking that away portends a rather large and unhappy future me.

Superman and I have also enjoyed going to yoga together. We actually paid quite a bit to continue classes, just before summer changed our scheduled and we stopped going. We are trying to schedule that back in, and the Saturday morning class is really the best option. Our yoga studio is heated, and an hour class wipes me for the rest of the day. This means yoga and long run are not happening on the same day. Long run gets pushed to Sunday, and now I'm scheduled for intense physical activity both Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Yay, right? This is good for me, doing things that are important to me, right?

Apparently, drinking is important to me too. Neither activity, yoga or running, are in any way improved with alcohol. In fact, the results of a binge drinking night invariably prevent yoga and running from happening. If they do happen, I end up hating life, performing miserably, and otherwise paying dearly for my fun the night before.

In my head, I'm scrambling to find a loophole, a way to drink AND yoga/run. Superman and I have gone over multiple scheduling options. The best way to get both yoga and long run in is yoga Saturday, long run Sunday. 

I'm not necessarily looking to tie one on every weekend, so theoretically I could do my long run on a different day some weeks. Friday night means missing FNO, so that's not happening. To keep the rest of my schedule as close to normal as possible, that leaves Monday. Monday is a normal run day anyway, so I would replace 6 miles with double or triple that distance.

The long run takes approximately 3 hours, and will take longer yet as the distances increase. Running for 3 or more hours on a work day would involve a distinct lack of daylight hours, even on the best of days. I could carry a flashlight and run on even pavement. I plan to do this for my weekday runs, which happen after work, since evening daylight disappears in the winter months. Eventually those runs will likely happen on my treadmill, though. Running after dark makes me nervous. I've face planted in the past, creeps come out at night, and it makes for a long day after a full day of work. Also, I refuse to run on ice and any real depth of snow. 

I'm really not thrilled with the idea of trying to stay motivated running in place for 3 or more hours. There will be long runs on the treadmill, due to the ice/snow issue. I'm just not fond of the idea and prefer that be my absolute last resort.

So it looks like any weekend I want to drink, I have a limited options. I'd need to get up at 4am on a Monday morning to get 3 hours in before getting ready for work, even earlier as the distances increase. Alternatively, I can run until 10 or 11 at night, depending what time I get home from work. The third option is less than ideal, but I can run half in the morning and half after work. The danger there is being too tired or distracted or disinterested to complete the run after work.

Or, I can control myself and not get roaring drunk, then suffer through yet another sucky run, because even one or two beers is enough to affect my performance. Somehow, not drinking at all is simply not an option. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Down the rabbit hole

I mentioned in my last post that I'm a list maker. Family will tell you as a child I was a "make lists of lists" person. I'm not quite as bad now. At least I thought I wasn't quite that bad, until I was introduced to the kanban system this past week. Or rather, my introduction to kanban was reinforced. We use a kanban system at work, to keep track of work in progress.

For those who don't know, kanban is basically a glorified To Do list. You make a list of everything you want to accomplish, maybe breaking larger tasks down into smaller, bite-sized chunks. For work, the bite-sized chunks are written out on index cards and stuck on a white board with magnets. This is the backlog, and can have as many items as needed. The backlog is ordered with the highest priority item on top. 

The board is separated by multiple columns in a "What To Do," "Doing," "Done" format. You can define whatever columns you decide you need. Bacon Patrol has Backlog, Hootenanny, Work in Progress, Waiting For Build, On Hold, QA, QA Fail, and PO Accept columns. When a dev finishes a task, they move their card into the Waiting For Build spot and take another card from the top of the backlog. QA picks it up after the build for testing. The object is to move the cards, column by column, to the PO Accept (= Done) column on the right of the board.

Last Friday I took a class on personal kanban systems. This led me to explore Trello.com, which is a free online version of a work in progress board. Bacon Patrol uses Trello.com to keep track of mid-year and year-end goal progress. I wanted to know if this would be useful for me to adopt for personal goals. Helpfully, though not as fully functional as the website, there's an app for Trello.com.

Keep in mind, I already manage a current calendar, with tasks I want to remember penciled in when I expect to have time to do them. I set up a personal Trello board, listed out all the things I currently want to get done, moved a few things over to the Doing Today column, and promptly updated my calender with what I wanted to get done that day. This seemed inefficient, but it allowed me to timebox the tasks, schedule them and set reminders for them. 

I realized the kanban backlog held items not on my calendar, because I hadn't yet determined when I would handle them. Also, I wasn't sure how to handle reoccurring tasks in kanban. I did find it nice being able to comment on cards if I've completed bits and pieces of the task (ie: get the phone number you need to call your health insurance company), and the comments sometimes evolve into new cards (ie Download PowerPoint Stacks from Cornerstone Training, and Study/Take Notes on PowerPoint stacks from Cornerstone Training ).

To address items not yet scheduled, I looked at To Do List apps. A To Do list would allow me to document all the items I want to accomplish, without having to know when they will be done. I found one that synchs with Google Tasks, meaning I can enter things on either the phone or computer, which I find useful. The To Do list app allows me to prioritize items, and also to date things with notification times so I get reminders on my phone when they are scheduled to be done.

Do you see where this is going? I now have my calender, my To Do list, and my Trello board. I start with the To Do list, creating backlog items which I put in the Trello backlog. Items then go on my calendar. This is where I determine how many items I have time to handle on any given day, interspersed among classes and meetings and my workout schedule. Actually, my workout schedule is included in my To Dos, along with things like dishes and laundry, etc. I then go back to Trello and pull items from the backlog into my Doing Today column. 

I move items around on my Trello board throughout the day, as I get bits and pieces of things done. One of the best practices for kanban is to limit the number of items you work on at any given time. I currently have 5 items in my Doing Today column, with notes on where I am with that item, what I've done, and maybe what else needs to be done. Remember I've already broken tasks down into bite-sized chunks, so there shouldn't be too many steps per item.

I've set up a work Trello board as well, to track the things I need to complete relating to training.  The To Do app holds all tasks, and items cross between work and personal Trello boards depending on when I plan to complete the tasks. Essentially, I'm now making lists of lists of lists.

I'm not yet certain if this is more effective and efficient than my previous approach, using only the calendar. I run the risk of spending more time playing with all the different programs than I do actually getting things done. I'm in my glory though, like a kid in a candy store (or myself in an office supply store), having fun with the process. It's nice to see what I've actually completed at the end of a day. For someone who tends to focus on the bad and immediately forgets the good, this is very nice positive reinforcement that I'm actually accomplishing things. 


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I am my fathers daughter

My father was something of a pack rat when it came to building supplies. The family joke is he would decide on a project, then go out and purchase everything he needed for said project. This included nails, wood, tape, hinges, paintbrushes, paint sticks... You get the idea.

My mother inherited a substantial inventory of nails, wood, tape, hinges, paintbrushes, paint sticks, etc.

I'm usually more of a list maker myself, primarily because I've rarely had enough money to just go shopping and get what I need on the fly.  However there appears to be an exception to this rule.

I found a a pumpkin spice coffee creamer recipe, made with Almond milk and honey instead of cream and sugar. This prompted a trip down the spice aisle of my local grocery, recipe in hand. I knew I had some of the spices I needed, but did not know if I had them all. I had them all, and then some!
This is my pumpkin spice stash. That is one full cup of premixed pumpkin spice, and at least another cup's worth of fixin's in the background.

I will have pumpkin spice coffee all year long!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

So...Yeah... About that...


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Why is it every time I say something about continuing to post, I stop posting?

Why is it, whenever I go off my "diet," it takes me weeks to get back on?

Why is it, although I love spending time with my loved ones, it takes me weeks to decompress when I do?
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So yeah. Posting. First, it seems when I'm not running I'm not posting. I come up with most post ideas in the hours alone in my head. I've hardly run since the Monday before Superman and I went on vacation over Labor Day week. Even that run was not stellar, but at least it was a considerable distance.

I did have a post started for Suicide Prevention week last week, but decided it was too uncomfortable to share and full of triggers besides. Suffice it to say I've been there, I did not know of resources to help me out of there, and had I access to a gun during that time I don't know if I or my children would be here today. Luckily I am no longer in that place, and have not been for decades. If I ever find myself there again, I'm now aware of resources and places to call for help.

Better late than never: The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. Use it if you need it or know someone who does. If you or someone you know is thinking or talking about suicide, please call. Suicide is preventable, and they CAN help.
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So yeah. Diet. The good news is I'm now over a week completely soda/Monster free. I finally found a combination of teas I can drink without sweetener, that does not upset my stomach, and which I enjoy the taste of enough to consume a gallon a day (my daily hydration goal). I even found a tea I can purchase out in the wild if I need something stronger than water to get by, until I can make my own again. Unsweetened Pure Leaf Tea has tea and citric acid. Period. No preservatives or garbage added.
So I have that going for me.

The rest of my diet has been a mess since going on vacation. I eat what I want, when I want, regardless of hunger or what it does to my system. Not good. I don't know if it's gluten or grain or sugar, but my ankles have been swollen since I started eating this way again (a symptom of my auto-immune disease) and there are other effects I won't go into here. My system is definitely not happy, and hasn't been for 2 weeks now.

I had my final birthday dinner last night, am finishing up the leftovers from that today, then it's back on the bandwagon. I want to know if it's grains or sugar that's causing the reactions I'm having, so am modifying my current plan a little. I will be grain-free, but will allow a small amount of sugar for no more than one coffee a day. Sugar, not artificial sweetener. We had a dietitian from Cleveland Clinic in at work last week, and I was surprised to learn artificial sweeteners (including Stevia) are completely not helpful. I kind of knew this already, but the dietitian spelled it out clearly. Studies show artificial sweeteners stimulate appetite, fat storage, and weight gain. This is of course the exact opposite of what I want. If it turns out I actually am addicted and cannot handle small amounts of sugar, or the swelling in my ankles does not go away after being grain free for a few weeks, I will eliminate sugar completely and have to be satisfied with fruits, honey, and syrup as my sweets.

I'm not concerned with the caffeine addiction, since my current tea recipe provides enough to keep away the worst symptoms. I might crash earlier in the evening, but that's not a bad thing. The coffee actually may not even be every day. I just like to have it in reserve for days I'm really dragging.
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So yeah. People. I owe my mother and a friend apologies. They called right after I got home from vacation, and I haven't called either of them back yet. I was supposed to go out and play with a third friend the weekend we came back, and that didn't happen either. I'm still trying to decompress from spending several days non-stop in the car and out-and-about with Superman. It doesn't help I now have one or both of my boys around the house frequently. Nor does it help to always have to be "on" at work, where I can no longer hide behind cubicle walls. I'm an introvert, and this much human interaction is exhausting. I've been able to escape a bit at work this past week, scheduling conference rooms to go through on-line courses. My children have not been home EVERY day. Still, reaching out to people is not easy in this state.
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Vacation was, as Monkey Boy pointed out, an old people's trip. We originally planned to ride the motorcycle, but the forecast was cold and raining for most the time we would be gone, so chose the car instead. I'm good with either, since Superman and I travel well together. Car trips offer an intimacy we don't normally experience, considering our normal schedule. It's enough of an anomaly that Energizer Bunny asked "Is it even LEGAL for the two of you to spend that much time alone together in such a small space?!?"

We drove out to Stuebenville Monday to stay at a bed and breakfast, stopping at a favorite diner in Lisben on the way. The bed and breakfast house was renovated from basically a condemned state. $350K later, it looks like this:
Super narrow hallways and stairs. Super cluttered with antique knick knacks, but beautiful and historic. The rest of the neighborhood kind of looked like this:
Very historic, though quite dilapidated, with I think they advertise 20 murals. Most of those are religious. They literally painted the town for the bicentennial. The only "major" attraction (and you'll notice the quotes on "major") was the recreation of Fort Stueben. We arrived too late to actually tour the fort, but you could walk around the outside in about 5 minutes.

The best part was having the house to ourselves. I'd never stayed at a bed and breakfast before, and did not know what to expect. It would have been more challenging for me to share the house with strangers, but being off season and mid-week it turned out perfect. We hung out amid the antiques in the evening, explored the bookshelves and knick knacks, and went through the renovation photo album. The owner came and made breakfast for us in the morning. Superman chatted with him while I did a round of weights upstairs, then we cleaned up, packed up, and left.

(Yes, I brought weights with me. Yes, this was the only time I used them. I planned to run as well, but that didn't happen. Go figure.)

The reason we stayed in Stuebenville was because it's less than an hour from Oglebay's blown glass museum and exhibit. Superman and I have both been somewhat fascinated with blown glass since catching an exhibit at the Geneva County Fair a few years ago. Unfortunately, the glass blowing exhibit was cancelled because one of the glass blowers was on vacation, and the other was picking up more than just exhibit slack. However, we spent a good bit of time exploring the museums and shops at the Oglebay mansion.
The grounds and views were amazing. The history was fun, though after several hours I tend to get saturated with facts in places like this. We didn't get any photos of the glass museum, and probably spent as much time in the glass gift shop as we did the museum.

As I said, the trip was planned around a motorcycle ride. After we saw everything we wanted at Oglebay we hopped back into the car for a 4 hour trip to Dayton, where we bedded down and rested up. Next stop on the itinerary was the Dayton Air Force Museum.
The Air Force Museum covers pretty much the entire history of flight, from the Wright brothers to the most recent space flight. We planned to spend the entire day, and saturated or not both agree we could have spent at least another full day without getting bored. There was not enough time to read all the information, and barely enough time to walk around gawking at the evolution of airplanes and atomics and helicopters and war. We texted back and forth with Monkey Boy, trying to figure out which plane he worked on. It turns out his was too new to be in the museum yet. We don't even have images of the rockets and satellites section, where I was stunned at the size of it all. I expected rockets to be larger and satellites to be smaller. There's a holocaust section and a Bob Hope section. There's a hall of fame, and a wall of all the Air Force leading men. I can guarantee Superman and I will be back again.

After soaking in the history of war and flight, we headed north toward Toledo. Here we found probably the best Indian restaurant I've ever been to. The food was cooked to perfection, moist and flavorful without being overwhelmingly spiced. Since it was my birthday, I ordered one of every desert on the menu, and was not disappointed in any of them. There were no brownies or cakes. Mango pudding with fruit. Rice puddings. Condensed milk ice cream. Superman helped, of course, and it was a marvelous birthday celebration.

The next morning we headed a bit further north, to a fossil park in Sylvania.
This image is from their website. It's part of a local park system, is not manned and there is no fee for entry. They simply supply the rocks and a place to break them. There was literally no one around when Superman and I were there, though we did see a runner and a bicyclist on the local paths surrounding the area. You're not allowed to bring tools in, so I had fun for an hour or more raising large rocks above my head and smashing them down onto other rocks or concrete, then sifting through the crumbling remains to see what I could find. We found probably 10 or 12 fossils of varying sizes and shapes, which was pretty neat.

This was the last stop on our vacation, and we headed back toward Cleveland when we got tired of smashing rocks. I hung out with Superman Thursday night, then ran home Friday.
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So yeah. To clarify, running didn't happen on vacation, but it has happened. Sporadically, and mostly my long runs. I ran again the following Monday, but after sitting in the car so long all week and eating crap, it's not surprising my run was less than stellar. I bailed on most exercise the rest of the week, and even then yesterday's run home from Superman's was better. I'm ahead of the curve for mileage right now, so can afford to be a little lax. That's not to say it's a good idea, but I'm not worried about it. I'm already planning how to add in the extras when my schedule calls for 14, 15 and even higher mileage runs.
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Now you know where I've been and where I am. Work is good, too. It took me a minute to remember what the heck I was supposed to be doing, but I had more than one person tell me this past week that I'm doing good, that they've heard nothing but good things about me. I'm also almost done with my training, and may actually finish most of it within the 90 days like I'm supposed to. I meet with my manager and the training coordinator on Monday to get a better idea what else needs to be done. I'm very excited to finally get into actually doing my job and learning the program I'll be supporting. We will see what happens and if I can really do this, then. So much of this training will be unused and forgotten, and it's been somewhat frustrating to fight my way through, knowing that.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Everything changes. Everything stays the same.


I'm changing email address again. Basically I'm tired of the constant push to pay for premium service, I'm tired of the blinking ads in the sidebar, and I can't simply forward mail from the mail.com address to my new one. Or rather, I can't forward mail from the mail.com address without paying for that service.

All of the Shebajc email addresses will automatically forward to my new email, but the mail.com address will only forward for the next 30 days. Send me a note or message me on Facebook with your preferred email address, and I'll shoot you a note from the new inbox so you can update your contacts.
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In case you hadn't noticed, I've been MIA for a while again. I really like the idea of posting here daily. However, I've noticed my writing suffers when I have nothing to say. Things become disjointed when I'm tired and pressed for time. Apparently I'm not as good as Rick up there, and I'm uncomfortable submitting sub-par posts. At the same time, I enjoy blogging. I enjoy the creativity of putting words together "just so." I enjoy the (albeit infrequent) comments from my "public." I enjoy the (also infrequent) real life conversations my posts spark. I've also been told by family it's how they know what's going on in my world. For a semi-professional recluse, this is not a bad thing.

I know you'll be thrilled to learn this means I will continue as I have, posting when I want with no promises of continuity. If no one reads, my words will still be here for me to look back on, as I have from time to time (both here, and now here.) I've even gone back to MySpace for the blog posts there, though they are no longer online. (side note: MySpace made me laugh by their message "within a few short months you will receive an email indicating your blogs are ready for download." I wonder how long they've been telling people that. Interesting to see what MySpace has become. I'm thinking about spending some time at some point exploring both MySpace and Google+, but those endeavors are for a time without quite so much homework, and are just a little off topic for this post.)

Coming soon: news (and hopefully pics) from the road trip Superman and I took to celebrate our birthdays;

Sunday, August 25, 2013

8/25 - Now THAT's over with...

Ever since my anxiety went away a week or so ago, when I had that epiphany about not getting fired if I work hard enough, I've found it nearly impossible to put in work after hours. I've brought my laptop home every night, but only actually worked on homework one night in the past week and a half.  I think this might be part of the cause:
 I've worked on homework at work, while also working on cards (a little). I'd like to say I've been busy accomplishing other things, but most nights you can find me glued to my phone, playing this:
Important stuff, right?

It doesn't help I've been fatigued this past week. That might be due to how hard I'm pushing myself physically, and maybe to how poorly I'm sleeping (again).

I did get quite a bit accomplished this weekend. Superman and I have started running from each others houses for our long runs. He drives my car home, then runs to his house while I run home from his place. It's pretty much exactly a 13 mile run door to door. I get the easy route, which has like a 400 foot elevation drop. He gets to run all uphill. Lucky for me he likes punishment like that. I'll have my chance to get good at hill work when my runs get closer to marathon length.

After the run, I got all my grocery shopping done, then did a lot of cooking. I normally do my cooking for the week on Sundays, but I was supposed to spend the afternoon with a friend today. She bailed at the last minute, which actually worked for me because I had to find a dress for a wedding next weekend. 4 hours of shopping this afternoon and I found the perfect dress. It's cute, summery, hides my belly, and cost all of $13 (marked down from $70). Some days the shopping gods just smile on down on a person. I won't even have to buy new shoes!

I came home with the dress, then did a lot more food processing. The shopping gods smiled down on me yesterday while grocery shopping too. I scored at least $15 worth of green peppers and tomatoes for $3. I made tomato soup yesterday. Today I cut the peppers, then vacuum packed and froze them. I did laundry and dishes, puttered in my garden, and basically took a rest day.

I don't have anything to laugh at today. Instead I have something that's been bothering me for a while now.

I normally don't have any difficulty finding my moral compass. I live by the rule "an it harm none, do as you will." I try not to judge, and I try to behave in ways that are true to myself. When I start doing things that make me uncomfortable with myself, I look at why, then work toward getting back into balance.

I'm currently doing things that make me uncomfortable with myself, in relation to a friend of mine. He's not a "empty my bank account for you" type of friend. It's more a "hang out every once in a while and have a few laughs" kind of relationship. This friend has of late become quite exhausting to be around. I guess it's a good thing he's comfortable enough to be his true self around me, which from what he's told me has not been the case for most of the time I've known him. His true self, however, is somewhat inappropriate and a bit demanding. The last time I saw him, he talked at me non-stop, preventing me from talking with anyone else in the room for the entire time I was there.

I find I'm now avoiding this person. This is the part I'm uncomfortable with. I don't like planning things around trying not to see him. On the other hand, I get the impression telling him he's inappropriate would only egg him on to be even more so. I'm also a little afraid of his reaction, as he's indicated he has violent thoughts. I don't know how valid my impression of him is any more. I don't know what he's capable of, and I no longer trust his behavior.

I also don't know what my responsibility is to this person. The "friendship" was based on who he presented himself to be, which is apparently not who he really is. Do I try to talk with him and let him know why I'm no longer hanging around, or do I just stop hanging around where he is? The latter is not all that difficult, since I'm unhappy hanging out where he is for other reasons. The only real draw at this point is to hang out with someone else, who appears to be content moving the hang-out spot as well.  (how convoluted was THAT sentence?!?)

I'm probably going to have to confront him at some point, which is not an appealing option. I can't keep avoiding him though, and I don't want to hang out with him any longer. Telling him is really the only option left. I guess I knew that, just didn't want to admit it to myself.

See, there are benefits to writing this stuff out. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

8/20 - ADD Girl strikes again (aka As Always, A Work In Progress)

Another quote that doesn't necessarily fit the mood of the day, except it kind of sort of does. I'm far happier after last week's epiphany. I'm more relaxed, I'm doing things I enjoy instead of work work work work work. At the same time, I'm still working hard to get where I need to be skills-wise. It seems I've turned a corner of sorts.

ADD Girl (I totally see myself in purple spandex tights and a rainbow tie dyed cape when I say "ADD Girl.") <Strikes impressive pose> <Hey Look! A chicken!>

I'm currently researching my SaaS paper, trying to fix the Synergy interaction between my work laptop and my desktop, and obviously blogging. This is not the most split my attention has ever been, either.

I don't know who Lord Chesterfield was, but he wrote a note to his son that actually fit the moment (and my life):
“There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time.”
Too bad my brain don't work that way. I understand things take longer when you're taking time out to do other things. I also understand those who multitask are actually not as productive as those who focus on a single thing at a time. I am personally less productive when forced to focus on only one thing for long periods, because my mind wanders. I miss information while wool-gathering, and have to drag myself back to the present. I realize I could probably get better at this focus with discipline, but man is it hard!

I'm starting to like my job. Actually getting to do some work yesterday helped. Having my card pass on the first QA today, helped. Not being anxiety ridden helps. Taking pages and pages of notes on how to do things in the program, then being able to recreate those things while I transcribed the notes definitely helped. So did sharing some of the notes with another member of the team. I'm helpful!

I spent part of the morning completing the notes transcription, then dove into my Learn Ruby the Hard Way exercises. The Hard Way, according to the author, is the way programmers used to learn. It consists of:

  1. Going through each exercise.
  2. Typing in each sample exactly.
  3. Making it run.

I've gone through 4 lessons, one of which was how to install the necessary programs on my machine. So far I'm liking this method. It doesn't presuppose I know anything. I've had to do some research on Google, but having to research and find an answer helps me to remember that answer later. I didn't get as far as I'd hoped, but that doesn't matter in the long run. The suggestion is that I spend at least an hour a day practicing. I'm not sure I can commit to that much time, but I can certainly try.

The afternoon was spent revisiting the Ruby Fundamentals class. This time it was taught by the person who put together the curriculum. While it lasted 2 of the 4 scheduled hours, unlike the last time I took this class it did not feel at all rushed. I was able to ask my questions. My understanding is deeper. Still not where I need to be to write comfortably, but I'm getting there. Hopefully I'll be close enough where I need to be before next week, when I understand I'll be taking 4 hours a day of a combination of Ruby and Gherkin. I'm supposed to be able to use the Ruby in those classes. At this point I haven't been invited to those classes, but I expect if they're happening I will be included.

I went to take the Tap Out class after work, but no one else showed up so I just played with weights. I was pleased to be able to increase my dumb bells to 15 lbs., from the 10 lb. weights I used last week. I'm curious to see what my arms feel like in a day or two, after 2 sets of 20 reps each on all the exercises I could think of. There are 3 exercises I did with 5 lb weights, because 10 was too much and there are no 8s at work. There was one exercise I started with 10s and bumped up to 15s. There was one exercise I started the 2nd set with 15s and knocked it down to 10s. I did full push-ups. They were ugly but they were deeper than I've been for a long time.

In case you didn't notice I'm quite thrilled to be feeling stronger. I'm seriously thinking of adding a 3rd day of lifting to my week. I'm thinking about watching P90X videos again, or studying YouTube for new exercises. I don't want to do the full classes, but I do want to move in different ways. I don't want to get into a rut.

I'm still trying to figure out how best to get my running in too. I like running more than I did a year ago. I've changed my gait, which has eliminated most of the issues I used to deal with. I certainly like being able to say I ran. I still have trouble actually getting out the door during the week though. This is not a good thing when it adversely affects my weekend long runs. As always, a work in progress.

Monday, August 19, 2013

8/19 - Random ADD blatherings

This quote doesn't have anything to do with anything, except it's one of my favorites. While I was in Support I printed it out and had it on my wall, with a tag line at the end saying "Everyone is just trying to get stuff done." It helped on the days the world was full of angry.

It's been a crazy whirlwind couple of days around here. Not so much drama and excitement as just jam-packed with one thing after another:
Friday was an unsuccessful struggle to convert more Python to Ruby. It was also dinner and FroYo with Monkey Boy and Superman. 
Saturday was a harder-than-it-should-have-been long run, grocery shopping, and dinner with the Goddess and son for her birthday. Saturday was also a stop at the computer store for a book on C#, and I found an on-line course in Ruby too. I haven't done anything with either of them yet, but it makes me feel better to have them. Odd little security blankets, I know. 
Sunday was a rush to get all my weekly cooking done before spending the afternoon with my Mom, house hunting. We saw one house I wouldn't mind living in, even if it is more house than my mother has right now. We got an idea what she needs, size wise, and what is available. Now comes the hard part of getting her house ready for market and her stuff ready to move. Toward that end (kind of), Sunday night was also a trip to both Mom's and Superman's with a jack-of-all-trades contractor. 
It doesn't sound like a lot, but it kicked my buttocks.

I completed another card at work today, learning things about both Bacon Patrol and Powerbuilder in the process. I was able to see at a glance when one of the form boxes had a field in it similar to a mail merge, where it inserted the name of the form instead of having it hard typed in. I'm working my way through the required on-line courses, taking notes, and basically doing what I do to learn. It's very nice not to have the past month and half's anxiety beating me about the head and shoulders.

Tonight I meant to do several things that didn't get done. I wanted to get a couple miles in. I wanted to study Ruby and get a start on the newest SaaS paper I have due. Instead I went from Wal Mart to Wal Mart looking for an affordable juicer, only to decide I can't afford one and I'm not even sure I'd use it. I'm getting better at being gadget girl... at least some days.

I wanted a juicer because I want to stop drink soda (again!). I've actually mostly stopped, except instead of soda I'm now drinking a Monster (or two) every day. It goes well with my iced tea, you see. I don't like the tea straight and I don't like just water all day every day, so I'm looking for something to spike one, the other, or both. I thought fruit juice would be good, but there's all sorts of added crap in store bought juice. That brought me to the juicer, but I just can't bring myself to spend the $$. I have a little plastic hand held citrus juicer, and decided to give that a try to see if this idea will even work. My first attempt at tea with it, I made the mistake of changing both the number of tea bags and the juice instead of Monster. I'm thinking either more tea bag or more juice. Since it's already a full grapefruit of juice, I'm hoping the teabag will suffice.

I also spent time making salads for the week. I'm surprised at how much food I actually need in a day. Need? Want? Am hungry for? All I know is lately it seems I'm not bringing enough to eat. I end up either buying at the cafeteria so I'm not hungry trying to work out after work, or going hungry and most times just not working out.  Neither is a viable solution. This week I'd purchased salad fixings, but decided I didn't need them. Today changed my mind, so I put all that together for the week. Now I'll have enough to take me through my exercise class, and will only need the cup of homemade tomato soup and a handful of strawberries when I get home. At least that's the plan.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

8/15 - Feeling better


I'm just going to keep telling myself this...

I don't want to jinx it, but this has so far been a pretty good week. I worked with the training coordinator to take several completed tasks off my to do list today. I completed a card for the team and learned some more about the PowerBuilder program. I'm being given the opportunity to retake the Ruby class (scheduled for Tuesday) and the Bacon Patrol overview class (scheduled for Thursday).

I also found out more about why Jesus got fired. Turns out I really do have nothing to worry about. I am not about to be fired for skipping training sessions and telling my manager "I didn't want to go." I'm not about to be fired for not handing in homework, for spending 7 of my 8 hours at work on Magic the Gathering forums and watching Batman videos. I'm certainly not about to be fired for skipping my 1:1 meeting with my manager, where we're supposed to communicate about how I'm doing and how I feel about what I'm doing.

So yeah. Add together last night's realization that they won't fire me if I work hard enough and continue to show improvement, with today's new information on why exactly we're now down a man, and I'm feeling a palpable reduction in stress levels.

That said, I didn't make a whole heck of a lot of progress today. I knocked another on-line class off my list. Then I spun my wheels for about 2 hours trying to convert a new Python homework program to Ruby. I'm missing something, and I'm not sure yet what it is. I'm not clear enough on how and when to successfully use classes and/or variables. I may just need to memorize a bunch of methods. I may need to dig deeper into more complex examples. I'd planned to spend time tonight on CodeAcademy, going back to the beginning to see if I missed anything, but that didn't happen. I know I need to continue working hard toward catching up, but I don't have to work every waking hour. Just like I need rest days from working out, I took a rest day from stressing out.

I did have a good hard workout today. Tuesday and today I started by playing with 10lb dumb bells. I know several exercises from P90X videos, so I just did them each 20x. Then I took the Tap Out class, using 3lb weights for all the punching sections. I will probably move up to 5 lb weights for that, pretty soon. I refuse to do most of the floor work because it hurts my back, so I modify by doing something similar in a standing position. This equates into quite a few knee ups, and I'm ok with that. I do try to get as many pushups in as I can, even if most of those are still on my knees. I felt my arms all day today, from Tuesday's workout. I feel them now from today's, so tomorrow and Saturday should be fun.

Superman sent me this smile yesterday:
I love me some pumpkin spice. Not sure how I'm going to get to enjoy it when I'm gluten and sugar free, but we'll see what happens.

I haven't talked much about my current food plan. I've been working at gluten free for a while, and have been successful for over a month now. The sugar free has lasted 3 weeks, except for last Friday when I got trashed on mango margaritas. I'm obviously more inclined to make an exception on the sugar front than I am the gluten one, and I still can't envision my entire life without sugar. I'm leaning very hard toward Paleo (pretty much defined here, though I still eat cheese) as the most sustainable for my particular needs.

The gluten free is supposed to help keep my auto-immune thyroid disorder in check. The sugar free is supposed to help keep me from binging. The paleo is because I like the idea of whole, non-processed foods, and because it fits in with the gluten and sugar free restrictions.

I don't know how well the gluten free thing is working yet, and won't until I've been gluten free for longer than a month at a stretch. I'll need blood tests and probably at least 6 months to a year before I'm convinced it's working, or not. As far as sugar free goes though, other than late night "I'm tired looking for energy" binges (which have been confined to nuts and the occasional peach), I've been doing much better. I don't eat everything in sight. I don't always eat everything on my plate, or that I bring for lunch. As far as I can tell the scale hasn't changed any, but with my thyroid disorder water weight is a constant. I'm mostly comfortable with my current plan, which is mostly what's important. We'll see what my comfort levels are once the pumpkin spice hits the shelves, though...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

8/12 - Following my dream and bubble therapy

Following this dream is hard....

My manager suggested Monday that I start taking the Python programs I'm writing for the MIT Introduction to Computer Programming class, and convert them to the Ruby language. I don't need to know Python. I just need to understand the concepts of computer programming. I also need to know Ruby, in part so I can complete upcoming courses in my training. At the time I didn't think I was ready for a challenge like that. Somewhere between Monday and yesterday I changed my mind, at least enough to be willing to give it a try.

This seems to be a theme, by the way. Someone suggests I try something. I immediately say "I'm not ready for that." Then, soon thereafter, I'm trying to figure out how to go about whatever they suggested. If I can curb that initial outburst of uncertainty, I think I'd look more like a go-getter and less like the nervous wreck I feel inside. Just a thought....

Yesterday I decided to try converting some of the homework. I didn't get very far, instead watching a 4 hour video and catching up on assessments and tests I hadn't know were required on some of the classes I've already completed. I also found I was missing a component of SQL Server Management Studio which was listed as a class. That meant I needed it. I spent some time researching how to get it and why I didn't have it, but was unable to install the missing program before leaving for the day.

This morning I woke up thinking I would not only convert the programs to Ruby, but also to Visual Basic. I need to learn the .NET environment, and that requires either Visual Basic or C#. Before I even left for work I'd been up and down on my emotional roller coaster several times, excited about the idea of converting the programs, but concerned over learning 3 languages at once. I imagined what some of the people at work would say, and it wasn't supportive in my head. Of course, by the time I got to work I was feeling overwhelmed and behind schedule again. That seems to be the norm lately, at least part of every day.

I started the work day by visiting another team's stand up meeting, which is part of my new hire requirements. I have to visit all the teams' stand up meetings, eventually. As I was leaving that meeting I heard one of the new hires talking about an intro to C# video training he was taking. A light bulb went off. I talked to one of the trainers on my team, the one who taught the .NET class. He convinced me C# would be better than Visual Basic to learn, for multiple reasons. I now had a plan. I would convert the programs to both Ruby and C#, learning all 3 languages as I went.

First I wanted to get that program I was missing installed onto my machine. Turns out I'd installed the Express edition of SQL Server Management Studio. Express not only doesn't come with SQL Server Profiler, it also prohibits installation of Profiler for some reason. I tried several fixes suggested by various people on the internet, before realizing I really needed to uninstall everything having to do with Management Studio. I was hesitant to do this because I had connections to several databases, plus Powerbuilder, I didn't want to lose. I tried every other suggestion I could find first, but finally admitted defeat and uninstalled Management Studio. Only then could I reinstall the program complete with Profiler. This took the better part of the day, what with uninstalls and reinstalls.

I didn't twiddle my thumbs while my machine was chugging away. I watched some of the intro to C# video. I had a few meetings. We found out the other new hire on my team was let go, so there was a lot of talk about that.

Yes, they fired Jesus. That freaked me out a bit too. I'm not sure who the hell I am anymore, with all this uncertainty and insecurity. Several people had to reassure me, both subtly and outright, that I have nothing to worry about. Of course I'm still concerned I can't learn what I need fast enough, but I'm confident if I continue to work REALLY hard they won't fire me too. Jesus was fired for spending too much time on Magic the Gathering forums, watching cartoons, and doing math equations instead of work. I know he was warned. We meet with our managers every two weeks, one-on-one, specifically to go over concerns on both sides. He was given opportunity to change, but from what I gather he opted not to. This makes no sense to me, but I guess at this point it doesn't matter. He was an irritation to me, and even more so to other members of the team. Now he's gone and I have one less distraction. I'm not doing a happy dance, but part of me is breathing a sigh of relief.

I rode the "they fire people who can't cut it!" wave of anxiety all the way home though. Superman was very supportive, as he has been through this whole roller coaster ride. I sat down after dinner and banged out Ruby and C# interpretations to the first homework assignment. I expected the programs to take much longer than they did, which was a happy surprise. I'm sure as the problems become more challenging, the conversions will too. For now though, I have something to hand in and show for my efforts. Progress is being made, which is important in keeping my job.

I did not indulge in bubble therapy, though I have bubbles at the ready if necessary.