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: 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


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.