Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dancesport

Monday:

I've been trying very hard to NOT say: it's my birthday in a few days so I might as well just eat what I like and start my diet the day after.

On Saturday I did over an hour of vigorous dancing. I was really hungry all day and ate quite a lot of cheese, more than "a handful" of nuts, and right at bedtime raided the fridge for some cold chicken. So I don't know if that counts as a good day or not.

On Sunday we spent the whole day watching the Dancesport competition. They have it every year here, quite a big event of mostly Australians but a few visitors -- ballroom (waltz, foxtrot etc) New Vogue (which I think is an Australian invention, it's nothing like Madonna's video, more like a precise routine based on waltz, tango etc depending on which one you are doing) and Latin dancing (cha cha, pasa doble etc). Tim's cousin and his wife were in the beginner levels. We stayed all day and went back in the evening for the finals but couldn't stay for all of that due to the kids slumping with exhaustion.

I limited unhealthy food to lunch and an ice cream, taking other snacks with us, but spent most of the day sitting. I did have to climb up and down steep auditorium stairs every time I went to the bathroom, which was quite often. I think I did quite well under the circumstances.

This morning I drove the car in to be serviced and walked home. Usually I enjoy walking but it was miserably cold. I woke with a bit of a sniffle this morning; and when I was outside my nose was running, my eyes weeping, my ears hurting from the cold etc. Hopefully it will be better later in the day when I go to pick the car up. My poor children are at their school athletics (sports) carnival today! I hope they are warm enough.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Last day

Friday:

It was my last day of this contract, working in an office with other people instead of home on my own. I worked really hard all day getting everything clear for those who would come after me. Basically I've been writing website content for a big government department and it's all interactive and complex. Other people code it up in computer-speak.

It wasn't a bad job but I felt really happy when I walked out the doors this afternoon. Freedom!

I'll give my RSI a little break then write that novel. Very exciting.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I'm serious, that's more than enough cake

Thursday:

Tuesday had been really busy, I didn't get to have a lunch break. I had a couple of hours notice that what I'd been working on for weeks had to be finished that day, so my boss took over part of it to get it done. She made a comment that there didn't seem much to do and she didn't know why I'd been taking so long (usually she is very nice, I guess she was under a lot of pressure). It quite hurt my feelings, and I also felt that she wasn't acknowledging that she had the benefit of all the work I'd already done to base her quickness on.

Anyway, the busy day combined with PMS caused my RSI to flare up really badly and I had a difficult night and then called in sick the next day. My boss called me a couple of hours later to ask me to come in to advise without typing or doing anything that would exacerbate the RSI, so I did. And it turned out there were huge problems with the bit she did! It got sent back to us. I went through it and found 31 things she missed, some very important. Sorry to get petty about it, but I felt very vindicated!

As she said some very nice things to me today about if I ever needed a job reference from her.

The RSI pain is a lot better today but I'm still glad there is only one day to go before I can take a break. I'm keen to start on my novel, too, but not until I'm back to normal -- and also I'll only be typing a couple of hours a day not five.

Today there was a morning tea at work, held by the regular staff to thank us contractors for helping out. Even a lovely speech. And lots of cake. Ok, I had a piece. Only one. Then drank tea and chatted. The 'party' was right beside my desk, they even used my filing cabinet as a table for the food. So for the next couple of hours there was a bunch of leftovers right behind me. Then when I was away from my desk, someone rolled the filing cabinet back in beside my desk ... with the leftovers still on it. Are you kidding me? Not enough to have the smell of chocolate cake wafting around my head, I have to be looking at it too.

Eventually I moved it all to someone else's filing cabinet, but only about two desks down, where I still passed it every time I left my desk. Um, I may have brought a couple of slices home for the kids ... and me. Not a great idea, I know. Terrible idea. Maybe that willpower thing was true. I resisted for hours and hours then at the last moment when I was leaving I grabbed some to take with me. I'd used up all my anti-chocolate-cake willpower for the day.

Ok. Take a deep breath. Start again.

Did I mention it is my birthday in five days?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What it is with the cake, already

Tuesday:

On most Tuesday afternoons I get together with a friend after school, the kids play together and we have a cup of tea and a chat. We both provide some food from various places on the healthiness scale; fruit, home-made muffins, breadsticks. Today my friend brought half a cake. I'm getting a bit worried about this weird cake motif in my life lately. Usually I can go months without seeing one.

PS I didn't have any.

I've decided to go with the basic counting calories (plus exercise) method of weight-loss. I'm not specifically cutting out or down on any particular food (or pseudo-food) groups, but you can't fit much butter or bread into a lowish calorie regime, so there will be less fat and carbs. Bring on the vegetables!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rain and more cake

Monday:

Well I've put on about 1.5 kg since I last weighed myself, and no wonder. This morning we had another morning tea at work, cake and biscuits. Luckily it was another cake I didn't like (coffee and walnut, this time, I hate coffee) so I wasn't tempted by that but I did have a couple of chocolate covered biscuits. I feel like my workplace if full of unexpected hazards! But I can't blame it all on work, I also had a chocolate √©clair when out shopping with my family yesterday.

The more junk I eat, the harder it is to stop.

To help make sure I actually do it, I've told lots of people that I am going to take time off and write a novel. I've belonged to a writing group for a few years but only faffed around, of course they were all very supportive. When the big boss at work called me this afternoon to say they could extend my contract for another month, I told him I had other plans. I'm excited but also scared, I know it is going to be really hard work. But I also know from experience that getting started each session is the hard bit, once I start writing I don't really want to stop. Kind of like exercise.

I didn't walk to work today, only the second time I've driven, because it was pouring rain. Still is, probably will be raining all day tomorrow too. I don't mind a sprinkle, especially on a warm day, but this is bucket-loads and it is freezing here. Canberra does tend to get its rain in winter.

Last Thursday it wasn't raining but it was very cold, and I got home late after ferrying children around to their activities looking forward to a hot and tasty casserole. It was lukewarm, the cooking process barely started after more than three hours. So our oven is broken. And I'd just done the grocery shopping and included a roast and two more casseroles for the week ahead. Luckily we have a slow cooker and the stove-top still works. The slow cooker is great for casseroles, but didn't work so well for the lamb roast. It was falling apart but with no crispy bits or golden potatoes.

Maybe I think too much about food.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Exciting plans

Saturday evening:

After writing the last post I was feeling a bit down about the future. My dream job was now out of bounds. But... what about the other dream job?

I've always wanted to be a writer, but never really made the time for it. It came last, after family and work and watching TV and playing with my iPhone. I've watched in awe and envy as others completed whole books, and even sometimes got them published.

Well I have one week of my current contract to go. I just turned down a job offer and recanted on one I'd already accepted for August. I've taken my name off the websites that have my freelance business listed. I have my plot, and a barely-started manuscript.

 I have six months to write a book. Wish me luck!

 Of course writing full time wouldn't go any better with my RSI than editing full time would. I am going to write two hours a day (trying various cafes and libraries so I can get out of the house). Two hours a day at my rate of 800-1000 words per hour gives me a novel in three months, then another three months to work on the first draft and the second draft ... then in 2014 I'll put it through my writing group's critique circle then I'll hire a professional editor ... and then I'll send it off to publishers.
 
If I'm ever going to do this, it is time to start.

And writing two hours a day will give me plenty of time for exercise and housework and all the other stuff I've been neglecting. I know that some people can get up at 4am to write and then do their yoga and then work full time and study in the evenings and still cook up a gourmet meal and present a smiling face to the husband. Well if you've been reading this blog you'll know that isn't me!

I've got six months to give it a good go, then review. Obviously I won't have a publisher at that point, even if I've written a masterpiece, but at least I'll know if writing as a profession is something I can do.

BTW, the book I am planning is the kind with dragons and magic.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Too much cake

Saturday:

This week has been shocking in terms of unhealthy food intake.

I'm still not sure if I am better off as an abstainer (just don't eat particular foods) or a moderator (have a bit of what you fancy). On the one hand, sometimes the thought of giving up favourite foods sends me into a deprivation panic binge. But on the other hand, telling myself that trigger foods are ok to have occasionally can be a slippery slope.

I haven't been in an active weight-loss mindset for a few weeks now, since I started working longer hours than I am used to in an office. I put concentrating on eating healthily on hold while I focussed on working and getting the kids to all their after-school activities, grocery shopping etc. It's not my usual routine and I guess I felt like is it very temporary state of things (only one week to go now before the end of this contract).

But.

This week we had take-away on Monday. On Tuesday we had a play-date to which I brought (and ate) biscuits (cookies), and then had lots of junk at supper that night. And I think that was the day my boss brought cake to a meeting (luckily I didn't like it so only picked at a slice to be polite, but I would have eaten it if it was something nice). Wednesday is my long day at work so I had a packet of Cheezles to get me through the afternoon. On Thursday there was a big cake sale in aid of refugees in the foyer of my building. I went down and there was a huge queue (they ended up making $2500, it is a big building). As we all crept forward I started to get really paranoid about all the good stuff being gone, so when I finally got to the front I bought four things! Four! I gave one to a workmate, but ate the cupcake and two pieces of fudge. Then that afternoon grabbed fries from McDonald's with my daughter before we did the shopping -- at which I bought several packets of biscuits and ate some of those that night. Friday didn't get any better, my daughter had an extra dance rehearsal so after we dropped my son at gymnastics we went to a café for cake before going on to her dance. A drink and more biscuits in the evening.

This concept of having a treat occasionally, as part of being a balanced human being, obviously doesn't apply to that list!

Time to start turning it around.

I haven't mentioned zombies for a while. Walking to work doesn't really suit the program, I walk briskly but can't comfortably break into a run while in to work clothes and I don't want to get caught by zombies again! Also I am beside busy roads for part of the way, making it hard to hear, and it isn't quite far enough for a whole session. I've given up training to run for the time being but still want to listen to the zombie episodes at some point when I go for longer walks, when I can do a bit of jogging too if I feel like it or the zombies get too close.

There is an anti-smoking ad here at the moment that talks about will power being a muscle that you can build up with repeated use, and I think that is true, but studies have also shown that you have a limited amount of will power at any one time. If it gets used up, you are likely to give in to the next thing that comes along and tempts you. That still fits with the muscle analogy, it's like working a muscle to fatigue and you just can't lift any more that day. Like someone starting a fitness program from the couch, you can to work up to doing more reps of heavier weights but you can't do it all in one day.

I didn't really have a point there (I wasn't trying to say I can't resist cake because my will power muscle is too small!), I just thought that was interesting. The lesson, I suppose, is to reduce the amount of temptation you are exposed to until you can handle it. I'm definitely struggling with that aspect. I usually work from home where I have total control over what comes in, and it's much harder for me to access junk if I suddenly get a craving -- I would have to walk 20 minutes each way or get in the car. In the office, there are boxes of chocolates in the tea room being sold for charity, and vending machines, and cake sales, and a major supermarket just next door. And I am grocery shopping late in the afternoon when I am tired instead of first thing in the morning, and getting a snack with my daughter first. The opportunities for unhealthy food have gone from around twice a week to all day every day. It's something I won't miss when this contract ends in a week.

There is another reason to be glad it is ending. I left my full-time office job eleven years ago after two years of crippling pain with RSI -- or occupational overuse syndrome I think was the preferred term. I had numerous sessions a week of painful physio, plus aqua physio (physio in a pool), acupuncture, lots of anti-inflammatory and pain-killing drugs and I can't even remember what else. But as long as I still went in to work, even on part-time sick leave, I was getting worse and worse. In the end I couldn't dress myself or even sleep comfortably, the pain in my shoulders and arms and hands was so bad. So I quit work and got a pitiful amount of compensation - a couple of months salary. My husband worked long hours and then came home and did everything else as well. I was in pain all the time.

Over five or six years (during which I couldn't go near a computer) I got to the point where I rarely felt any pain. It was only occasionally triggered; usually by some combination of too much computer usage, being sick, having PMS and/or cold weather. I started working from home as a freelancer, which was pretty ideal as I could make my own hours.

I've been back in the office for five weeks now, five hours a day, and the pain has been creeping back for a couple of weeks. It is clearly too much for me, even eleven years later. It makes me a bit sad, I was enjoying many things about being back in a office. Being around other people instead of alone all day was a big part of it. My "dream job" was to get a part time job with a publisher. But I don't think I'm going to be able to do that. I can't imagine anyone wanting to hire me if I can only offer two or three hours a day. So it's back to freelancing from home, with its freedoms and its loneliness. And dealing with the occasional crazy.

The upside is I will have a lot more time to plan and cook healthy meals and exercise regularly.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Karaoke and dance

Monday:

Tim & I went out to karaoke on Saturday night. It was a place where you get a private room for you and your friends. The upsides are you're only among people you know and you get to sing a lot; the downsides are a small audience (I love to perform) and it's too loud to talk. And it's not free like most karaoke in a pub or something, you have to hire the room. I haven't actually been to karaoke for many years and back in my day there was always a host/dj who put on the song for you after you chose from a big list in a folder. In this place you had to work the touch-screen thingie yourself. The interface was terrible, really hard to find stuff, and a lot of it was in Korean. But we managed to find some good songs eventually.

On Sunday I did two hours of dance, getting through the whole "crew challenge" on medium on Dance Central 2. I was very tired by the end but it was fun. I think I am over the illness that had been dogging me all last week (Tim still had a stiff neck today).

We had a team meeting at work today and my supervisor bought cake. Luckily neither of the ones she bought were flavours I like -- I picked at once slice but was not tempted to eat much.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Strange and stressful

Wednesday:

Sorry that this post isn't weight-loss related, except in that things that happen can influence other areas of my life (like if choose to binge or not exercise because I'm stressed, for example, not that fat cares if I'm stress as Marion said today).

About a month ago I mentioned a difficult client of my freelance business. They had paid me half in advance, which I didn't even ask for as I've never had a problem getting money from clients, and then the work was going reasonably well until near the end. Several times the client gave me conflicting instructions -- telling me one thing on the phone then denying it by email. They ignored work I'd done and went back to earlier versions. They emailed me several times a day for reassurance. Some emails were extremely garbled, full of gibberish, and made no sense at all. The client would apologise for those and say to ignore them, then later be affronted because I hadn't used the information in those emails. I was very confused about what was going on.

Then I learned that the client had just been forcibly admitted to a psychiatric ward.

Ok.

I tried to continue on doing my job, but communications broke down. Eventually the client said that it was time to part ways, and I politely (with relief) agreed.

There remained the question of the rest of the money. I had done many many hours of work on this project and had only been paid half of the agreed amount. I felt I had done my job as well as I could under the circumstances. But on the other hand, the client wasn't completely happy and the job was not completely finished -- certainly not to any state I would want my name on it.

I left it for a month. Partly to see if they would pay, partly because I was busy, party because I wasn't sure what to do, partly I felt very sorry for this person now in a psychiatric ward and obviously with huge life problems, but mostly because I am a coward about conflict.

I did feel that I deserved at least a good chunk of that money, if not all of it.

So today, home sick, I gathered my courage and sent a polite reminder email about the money still owing.

What I expected was an angry email saying they hadn't been happy with the results and that they refused to pay (and I hadn't yet decided what to do about this) but what I got was an "ok, that's done" and the money in my account a couple of hours later.

I nearly fell over in shock. They just paid, with no argument. I had been stressing for a whole month about nothing! I felt great.

Then a few hours later, another email. Asking me how the project was going.

!!!

Now my stomach is churning like a rhino is giving birth in there.

Is the client suggesting that they thought I was still working on it for all this time? After previously sending me up to five or six emails a day, then telling me they would "take it from here", then silence? Surely not.

I sent a puzzled email back, and haven't got a response to that yet.

What do I do?

I don't want anything more to do with this person. Quite frankly I would have preferred to forfeit the money (well, maybe, it was quite a lot of money). Should I offer a few more hours in one last try to get it all done? Or maybe offer some of the money back as the work was not completed to their satisfaction. I think the latter. I don't want to go through all that again. The client is clearly unbalanced.

I feel a bit better for writing all that out, but still look at my email in-box as a ticking bomb at the moment.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dance robots

Tuesday:

We just had a long weekend, for .... I dunno. Queen's Birthday, maybe? Anyway, my father-in-law was here for the first couple of days then it was just us for a nice little break at home.

I didn't do much exercise until the Monday when I got in over an hour of good dancing. I've finished the Dance Central 2 crew challenge on easy, you battle dance robots at the end! Now onward to medium. Medium is not just scored more stringently (like on Just Dance games), it actually adds more difficult and more energetic dance moves. So should be fun.

Last night Tim was sick with stomach cramps and he stayed home today. I went to work but came home at lunchtime after suddenly feeling awful. I feel like I've been sick quite often this year. As usual, my main symptom is intense fatigue. Headache, bit of nausea. Aching body, weak legs. Nothing too horrible, just need to rest.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

How do I want to live?

Saturday:

I may have said this before, but I think the thing that has the single biggest influence on how I feel is whether my hair is clean. Since cutting it to shoulder length it seems to get oily quicker, I should probably wash it every day but can't be bothered so it's every second day which is passable. But a single minute over that 48 hours and I look and feel awful. My hair looks greasy and my face looks oily and I just feel generally unkempt and unattractive. With clean hair I feel quite pretty. I can't imagine how I would cope in the bad old days when even the rich only washed their hair once a month. Forget lice, they had mice living in their wigs. Mice!

Work was much slower this week, which was pleasant at first but now a bit of a worry considering the contract has only three more weeks to go and has to be done by 30 June. There are nine of us contractors in the team, three doing my particular part, and my supervisor is pulling her hair out in stress. She had two sick days off this week. The problem is we have sent all our completed work out for approval by the company employing us and have to wait for it to come back before we can move on. And it still has to go to the legal area after that! My husband (who is a lawyer) just laughs at the idea that the legal section is going to have a turnover of a few days. As if. Oh well, not really my problem. But I like to do the best job I can.

Marion over at affectionforfitness.blogspot.com.au wrote, the other day, about slender people: "they eat exactly like the weight they want to be - every single day". It struck me because I was thinking about that very subject that morning walking to work. My dietitian friend said (long ago, but I just remembered it) that for a slow sustainable weight loss you should eat as if you are maintaining the weight you want to be. This is different to many diet regimes which get you to greatly restrict your calorie intake and lose rapidly (I can see the benefit of this, it is motivating to see a rapid weight loss, but it's much harder to sustain), then increase your calories when you reach your goal. Even Weight Watchers does this.

It is a different way of thinking to plan where you want to be, and then live as if you are that weight already. This is more the: "it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change" thing.

This made me think about where I want to be.

There is a woman at my current workplace who goes to the gym every morning. She is about my age, I would guess, but she is a solid slab of muscle. Good on her, if that is what she wants, but that is not what I want to be. I don't want abs you could break your knuckles on. I also don't want to be model-skinny with no softening fat at all, like an ultra-marathoner at the end of the race. I don't think soft is necessarily a negative thing. I like curves (and so does my husband), but I don't like jiggle or flab. I like strong, but not weight-lifter. So I am getting a good picture in my own mind of what I want to aim for.

And the lifestyle thing, do I want to never eat bread again, or have sugar in my tea? Not just when I am "dieting", but never? I know sugar is a problem for some people, or wheat, or whatever, but I don't think it particularly is for me. I have different food triggers. If I am going to live as if I was my goal weight already (and want to stay that way), what does that mean to me?

I am about to turn 43. I started this blog almost exactly three years ago, just before I turned 40. Before then, although I did want to lose weight I wasn't a dieter. The only diet I can remember was a formal one my mum paid for before my wedding (her idea). But since I turned 40 I have tried lots of diets. I rarely sick to them for more than a couple of weeks. I have lost 5kg over that period, but most of that was from being sick in China. I have hovered around 78kg for the rest of the time. Have I just not "got it" yet, seen the light, got the true conviction? Or do I go too extreme and set myself up for failure. I give up foods I love then give up dieting, or exercise hard until I get sick (as I always do pretty quickly) because my body can't handle it.

This sounds a bit maudlin, but actually I am feeling pretty good tonight despite having lasagne then lemon cheesecake tonight (both made by me). This is my thinking space.

I'm finding being back in the office, and still being a mother and wife and housewife the rest of the time, is enough for me to deal with at the moment. I think small changes (like walking briskly for nearly an hour each day) are the way to go at the moment. Regular activity, a few less junky snacks. Trying for maintainable instead of the excitement of a drop on the scales.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Confidence in my cooking


Monday:

Nothing makes me regain confidence in my own cooking like a visit to mum's house.

My mum is a terrible cook. Dad used to take us out to Chinese restaurants sometimes (divorced parents) and it seemed like to best food ever. Even vegetables were edible there -- amazing.

Anyway, when I moved out of home in my 20s I slowly taught myself to cook a few things. Over the years I built up a repertoire, and thought I was pretty good. Then came shows like Master Chef and My Kitchen Rules. OMG, is that what other people can cook? Incredible stuff. Made my cooking skills seem rather feeble.

But any visit to mum's reminds me that I am not so bad. We try to avoid meals there as much as possible but usually have breakfast. Ah, half a piece of flabby bacon and a burnt egg. Nothing like it.

Apart from that it was a lovely weekend. We drove up to Sydney. A cousin I was very close to as a child had a baby a year ago so we went to the 1st birthday party and saw all mum's side of the family. Then took mum out to dinner at a restaurant ($195 was a small price to pay to avoid her cooking) and stayed at her house. Then on Sunday went to see my baby niece and my husband's side of the family. Little Emma is only 11 weeks old and so cute.

We managed to avoid fast food on the road trip both ways which is a change.

Being away all weekend meant I we didn't catch up on all the housework I've been neglecting since I started work, but it was nice anyway.