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Life. It exploded. How do you guys do it?

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Old 03-15-2010, 05:15 PM   #1
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Default Life. It exploded. How do you guys do it?

That is, I'm not asking how you get your life to explode. Previous experience tells me that it...just happens! Rather...how do you deal with it if you're also trying to lose weight?

So since the New Year this is what's happened to me:
  • I finished up teaching one course, including manic marking madness and whiny students whinging.
  • I started teaching another course (two seminars a week, plus marking and prep), which is enormous fun but exhausting.
  • I started teacher training; two days a week at school, observing and teaching, enormous fun but exhausting.
  • I started teacher training; three hours of lectures a week, plus assignments. Somewhat fun - not as fun as being at school - but just as exhausting.
I'm still working out twice a week with my PT, but my other exercise has dropped off. I get home and I'm just knackered!
Once each week I still have choir til quite late in the evening.
Oh yea, and I've got research and a thesis to finish!

Huh. It doesn't look that much to me when I write it up like that - but I'm in therapy and my doc has told me in no unconditional terms that I have unrealistic expectations of myself and that my schedule is dangerously full - what do you guys think?

Ok, I'm not here to rope you all into being co-docs for me (though any opinions you might want to offer on that would be welcome ). It's about my weight.

(I know, you were all waiting for me to stop blathering and get to the point!)

I haven't been weighing daily.
I haven't been writing down what I've been eating (my PT has sent me an excel file to use) (has anyone here tried to be mindful of what they're eating whilst at school with several hundred hormone-tormented teenagers running around?).
The last time I checked, I'd crept up a couple of pounds (which I know isn't very much, but UGH wrong direction etc).

I am still taking my meds each day, which is good (right?).
Some of my fears and issues that I talk to my doc about seem to take up so much time and energy that I just can't think about my portion sizes or making good choices and the like.

Ok. Guys. Help! (please?)
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Old 03-15-2010, 05:25 PM   #2
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I work in a very high-pressure, fast-paced industry, and I am routinely and solidly SLAMMED with work. It is not at all unusual for me to work 14-16 hour days.

I have made exercise and eating at home non-negotiable, on the argument that they ultimately make me more productive and better able to get things done. So the night before any day, I look at my calendar of meetings. I block out exercise time on the calendar. I also look for the times when I'll eat, etc, and how much available time I'll have to cook. If it's not a lot, I prep the night before or in the morning so it comes together at a reasonable time. Then I take a break from my work to cook and eat dinner. I eat while working probably 90% of the time. My laptop is propped off to the side while I do my cardio in case urgent issues arise and I need to pause. And I KNOW I get more done overall if I devote that time to be well exercised and well-fueled.

Make it non-negotiable...PERIOD...and you can find a way to fit it in. That may mean cutting something else. But choose what is most important TO YOU and then commit to doing that thing.
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Old 03-15-2010, 05:41 PM   #3
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This is my theory...busy people are busy people. I will always be busy. I will always have tons of things to do. Although at almost 50 years old I am learning to say no. I have had to learn to make priorities. Take one day at a time and remember that I come first. If I don't take care of me I have nothing to give away.

I don't know if this helps. Balancing life is difficult! Keep coming back to 3FC!
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Old 03-15-2010, 05:42 PM   #4
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I was going to suggest the same thing as Mandalinn - take a weekly calendar and mark off all the time you are physically in class, and then add in the time you have to spend prepping and marking, etc. THEN add in the time to work out. Make that as much of a commitment as being in class/at work. I find food prep and shopping can be done in smaller increments of time, so I don't necessarily plan them into my schedule - if I have a few minutes, I chop some vegetables or boil some eggs. But if you need to, schedule that time into your day too.

Possibly not a lot of time for research/thesis - how far along are you? Can you do a minimum amount for now, until some of your other commitments ease up? I'm assuming that most of this teaching and training is going to finish up at some point and then you'll have a clean calendar and can start the scheduling process all over again.

Losing weight is a huge amount of effort, no doubt about it. But isn't it just as important as doing your teacher training and getting your degree? Aside from my job, it's my top priority. I will even skip other things that are very, very important to me, because for now, this has to be a higher priority.

You've come a long way already, so clearly you know WHAT to do. Now you just have to structure your life in a way that gives you the opportunity to do it.
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Old 03-15-2010, 05:44 PM   #5
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Plan...plan....plan. I work in a busy environment as well...I know I'll have 5 mins to myself to log my food for the entire day (sometimes I do it the night before). I grab my food and throw it in a bag for the day. Then I make my workouts NON-NEGOTIABLE (Like mandalinn does). I want to be healthy more than anything in else...I'm going to make it happen. It's funny if we write everything down we can usually find some spare time in the day. Before I turn the TV on after I get home...I change my clothes, grab the leash and me and the dog get our excercise first. That's before I feel the cushion of the couch! If I don't do that...we both suffer. Usually after I get my dog walking done I'm energized for the rest of my workout.

Just plan each day out; and you will find the time for yourself.
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2011: Got married, gained most of it back
2012: Birth of my son, gained the rest back plus 30lbs over the next 2 years
My new start date is 12/29/14...and I'll keep up this lifestyle forever, so my son will never know an obese mother and he will make healthy choices too.

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Old 03-15-2010, 06:08 PM   #6
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I agree with the other posters. You see, we all have exactly the same amount of time: 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, for 52 weeks a year. There is no such thing as "I don't have time for ____." What that really is, is "I choose not to make time for ____."

No, really, this is true. I am someone who did not have time for exercise and measuring my foods and recording what I ate. I am a very busy person and I can easily take up all my time with working and taking care of the house if I choose to. But I sat down and, as others suggested, made a plan. I decided that I did have a certain amount of time every day during which I could exercise, and so I scheduled that in. It was 5-6 days a week at that time. And I found that once I got used to measuring, it became second nature--and that tracking foods using the computer really did not take a lot of time.

And let me add this: Unless a person learns to make time for exercise and for paying attention to food, that person is not only going to have a hard time losing, but a hard time maintaining as well. Remember the phrase "lifestyle change"? Well, it means your life actually has to change...

Get on the scale. Record what it says. Start looking at your schedule and seeing what you can do to fit in some activity.

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Old 03-15-2010, 06:09 PM   #7
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I'm a teacher, too, and let me give you a teaching analogy:

Some of my student's parents were complaining that their kids were up until 3-4 AM doing homework. I asked what the rule was about bedtime, and learned that the kids mostly had to be in bed by 11, unless they had homework to do. What the parents didn't realize is that they were basically saying "Don't start your homework until 11". The kids realized that they could chit-chat and facebook until then, and if their homework wasn't done by bedtime, they were allowed to stay up because "school was the first priority". I told the parents "Tell them they have to go to bed at 11, homework done or no, but if their grades drop, they have to live with the consequences". Parents who do that see homework done much earlier and much more quickly.

In the same way, if you say "I have to watch my health unless school makes me busy because it's the most important", what your body hears is "you can eat whatever you want when things are busy". It's better to be 15 minutes less prepared for class than it is to be perfectly prepared for class but no lunch packed and no real idea what you are eating. It's better to put off answering student emails for an extra 24 hours than it is to not log your food.

It's like money. If you try to save money by spending all month and putting whatever is left over in your savings account, you never make any progress. You have to put money in the savings account the day you get paid, and then spend the rest. You can't take care of your health with whatever energy is left at the end of the day--you have to take care of yourself first, and then your other responsibilities with whatever is left.
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Old 03-15-2010, 06:19 PM   #8
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Salsa, first, nice to see you back! I've been wondering where you were.

I DO understand what you are saying. I am the POSTER CHILD for overcommitment. I won't go into the details of exactly what I do, but I promise you that my schedule is mind-boggling because I have two completely separate non-overlapping careers as well as four kids.

I ratchet the stress in my life up on purpose, because I enjoy it-- but for years I HANDLED the stress by OVEREATING.

It's NOT a good way to handle stress. NOT NOT NOT.

I'm under a huge amount of stress right now, but for the first time in my life I'm not handling it by eating....

It's a choice.

There is NO EXCUSE not to do it. When we don't do it, we are choosing not to.
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Old 03-15-2010, 06:25 PM   #9
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This is a great reminder thread for all of us who are feeling a little -- a lot -- overwhelmed. It's actually a good reminder to hear that my excuse of being too busy is really just that -- an excuse. AND to hear some of the strategies for fitting it all in.
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Old 03-15-2010, 06:41 PM   #10
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Can I just say one thing about your schedule?? I felt like I needed a nap after reading it!! Great to see you back, Salsa.

I had one real thought about your schedule...if you had a few hours a weekend day to precook and pre-package your meals...you really don't seem to have any idle time to sit around and snack. At least you will be so busy you'll have to stay on plan as long as you have something healthy in your "to go" bag to snack on.

I hope you have some time even just an hour a week when you allow yourself to do nothing but read a book for fun, sleep in, take a hot bath...?
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Old 03-15-2010, 06:55 PM   #11
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Salsa Chip, I'm a grad student in an internship. my schedule is dangerously full too. I have found my dietary change to be not just a dietary change but also a holistic "spiritual discipline" -- I don't resort to food (any longer) as a coping device, I don't reward myself with food, and I don't punish myself with food.

Now, that might mean that I go on autopilot at this point (I just had a hideous midterm exam and there is a crisis at my internship location and I just really really want to be done with this semester, so I can get a gym membership and tone this flab for a couple of hours every day!).

Because I travel to school, staying on the diet at school is very difficult. The only food available on campus is from vending machines (so maybe V-8 once in a blue moon), so I have to go out. Within a reasonable drive, there's a Subway and a Starbuck's, and a Burger King, and a McDonald's. There are a few items on those menus that I can eat on my plan...so I restrict myself to those. There are a few grocery stores a little further out, but it's difficult to eat grocery store food with no kitchen, etc.

If you can stand it and you don't feel penalized, why not just grab a dozen [progresso lite soup or lean cuisine or whatever works for you] and put them at your [fridge/desk/office/cubby] so you don't have to worry about what you're going to eat while you work through this crunch time? Stick some [south beach bars/other meal/snack bars on your plan, small baggies of almonds, etc] in your purse/car in case you slip and forget to eat or get held at a meeting. I think about Einstein, they said he had a closet full of the same black suit...for him, it wasn't worth bothering to think about what he was going to wear.

Bottom line, you have to get back on track or you will undo all the work you have done.
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Old 03-15-2010, 07:38 PM   #12
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Oh, guys, thanks so much

Reading Michelle's post reminded me that I forgot the other work placement I'm on - at another school. Now I'm not hot on publishing my schedule online, but in the interests of garnering sympathy (hey, at least I'm honest about it):

School 1: two days a week + prep
School 2: one afternoon a week + prep
Seminars: couple of hours a week + prep + marking
Working out: 2 hours a week
Lectures: 3 hours a week
Choir: 2 hours a week
Studying: your guess is as good as mine

Ok, here comes a brain dump whilst I try to apply you guys' tough love to my situation

I have a week/month planner wherein I try to keep some sort of 'control' (wrong word) over where I am each day. It's full of pretty colours. Can I use that to 'hold' me to 'appointments' with myself to plan food/record food/prep food? (I'm really not sure I can commit to more exercise at the moment, without disappointing myself and the associated downward spiral that comes with that)

Although I've a suspicion that I've not been keeping Sunday properly and that this only contributes to my mini-meltdowns. Recently I've taken to travelling to go to church and then meeting up with my sister so we can study together. Which is all well and good, but it also means I get back really late on Sunday evenings. So if Sundays are going to look like that (theological concerns aside), I think I need to really make sure that Saturdays really are a day when I sit at home and do nothing except the bare essentials to keep the house standing.

I'm definitely going to try and pre-chop stuff for dinner. And make lunch for the following day each evening (the rate at which I can get through a loaf of bread is somewhat alarming).
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Old 03-15-2010, 07:45 PM   #13
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On the exercise thing...several major studies (one presented in 2006 at the American College of Sports Medicine, another more recently in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management) have found that people who exercise during the day get more done, and are better able to manage their tasks and time management, than those who do not exercise. It also reduces stress and helps you make decisions faster and more accurately! I justify my exercise time in this crazy, busy life because of those benefits...the health benefits are great, but I can fit it in because of what it DOES for me

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People who exercised during their workday were 23 percent more productive on those days than they were when they didn’t exercise, says a recent study from the International Journal of Workplace Health Management. And the majority of the study participants (72 percent) did aerobic workouts.
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Old 03-15-2010, 08:09 PM   #14
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One way to think about it:

When you have more on your plate than you can handle, either you decide what to cut, or it happens randomly. Lots of time there is a difference between what we think we should want, and what we really want, so we leave it to fate in order to avoid responsibility. We don't like to admit that we have to make trade-offs, that we can't do everything all at the same time.

Myself, I might try to limit all my school work--prep, answering emails, grading, teaching, all of it, to 8-6, M-F. If you can't get it done in 50 solid hours a week, it doesn't get done. Literally stop the second the clock hits 6, even if you are in the middle of something, even if you aren't perfectly prepared. You can wing it the next day. That's an important teacher skill!

I think you might be shocked at just how much you can get done in that 50 hours if you know that's all you have. The thing about teaching is that we could always, always, always do more, so if you don't put limits in place, it grows all over everything. If you limit your time, you'll prioritize your activities and do all the most important stuff and still have time for your health.

Face it--if at the end of the day, you are 5% less effective as a teacher, 5% less impressive as a student, but 50% healthier, isn't that a trade off worth making?
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Old 03-15-2010, 08:14 PM   #15
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I lost the bulk of my weight during my thesis-writing period, and there were two things that I found particularly helpful. One was having regularly scheduled meals. I noticed that I had developed the tendency to squeeze a meal into my schedule, or get distracted and not eat until I felt like I was starving. In addition to planning what I was going to eat, I made myself get into the habit of planning when and where I was going to eat. I also tried very hard not to use meal time as just another opportunity to squeeze in some work. Mentally and physically separating meal times from work times was really helpful.

On a similar note, I discovered that I had the tendency to go for a snack when what I really wanted was to take a break. I would feel guilty just taking a break, but somehow felt that getting food/eating was a legitimate excuse. I had to give myself permission to take a break when I needed it, even if it was just to take a five minute walk.

You may also want to start carrying around a water bottle or something. It will not only help you make sure you get enough water while you're doing all your running around, it will also serve as a tangible reminder of your goals.

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