Sunday, January 27, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

No, this is not to update you on resolutions I made at the beginning of 2008. That would be the normal thing to do. I am actually only putting my resolutions into effect tomorrow. Which is my birthday and is therefore a new year of a different sort. I'll explain: at the beginning of the year, I was agitated. I was very much dreading this year. I was in no mood to make declarations about a "new me." So I decided that I would ease myself into some resolutions and try them out before I turned them into rules--a "practice run"--then use my conveniently timed birthday as my new beginning.

Before I get started on listing my 2008 resolutions, I want to write a little about my resolutions from last year. One of my resolutions last year was very successful. I had resolved to eat more whole grains, and fewer white flour/white rice items. I totally did it! I now understand the difference between whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour (the former is for yeast breads, the latter is for everything else, like cookies, cakes, pie crusts) and use at least 50% whole wheat flour (or pastry flour) in most everything I make. I marginally increased my consumption of brown rice (which I really do prefer to white rice in terms of taste and texture, it's just that it takes so long to cook that keeps me from always eating it) but mostly just decreased my consumption of white rice. I haven't been all that good about eating other whole grains... I did use a bit of bulgar (bulghur?) wheat and barley in my cooking this past year, but I don't remember using the other grains I'd previously tried out (quinoa, kasha) much. [Note to self: I should eat more varied grains.]

Another of my resolutions from last year is an embarrassing one to admit in this public forum, but maybe admitting it will be good for me. I pick at the split ends of my hair. Some of you who hang out with me in person probably already know that. I actually used to do it in full view of my coworkers, because I do it when I am deep in thought... and as a scientist, part of my working day is dedicated to thinking! I found that picking my hair helped me concentrate on thinking, because it was mindless and kept me from other distractions. At the beginning of 2007, I resolved to stop this pointless habit, and for at least the whole of January, I did. I had one little slip up on January 1st or 2nd... I pulled off a split end without even thinking about it, then realized that I was going to need to pay more attention. Anyway, I did start picking at my hair again, but stopped numerous times over the year telling myself, "is this really how you want to spend your time? is this really something you should be doing in public?" etc. By the Christmas break, I had re-resolved to stop and, so far, I've been very good and don't even remember the last time I picked at my hair. I still notice my split ends, but when I'm tempted, I tie my hair back. I hope I continue to not pick!

Last year, I also made the classic resolution of losing weight. I failed miserably. I gained weight. I blame a lot of it on my getting really sick in January and the rest of it on depression. While sick, I COULDN'T exercise for almost a week because my body wouldn't have been able to take it. And that got me out of the habit. To state in plain words what I may have alluded to before: I have (what feels to me as pretty bad) plantar fasciitis in my right foot, and have a mild case of it in my left foot. I have some undefined problems (2, possibly related, but that announce themselves in distinct places) with the left side of my pelvis that can cause me a bit of pain and a lot of discomfort. And my lower back is very sensitive and frequently gets tweaked. Once I got out of the habit of exercising through the pain, I found it mentally very difficult to force myself back into exercise. I decided to take a few months off of regular exercise in the hopes that that would allow my feet to get better (I'd had PF in my right foot for about 7 months at that time, now >1.5 yrs; the pelvic problems I've had for years, so they're chronic, life-long problems in my eyes and, anyway, I took time off of exercise when one of the problems first showed up... after about 6 months, it improved enough that I started exercising again). [I did actually run occasionally January-April, but no more than once a week, and even that I stopped for most of the rest of the year; I picked my upper body toning work back up around the mid year... 3 days a week, very consistently. Yay!] I gained a little bit of weight, but mostly lost muscle, so really I gained more fat than a scale would tell me. And then my ongoing aches and pains and my ongoing lack of a "real job" and poor prospects for one led me to depression. And that led me to increase my dessert consumption and pre-dinner snacking. I gained about 7 pounds over last year. This has made a very big dent into my amazing 15+ pound weight loss in 2004 (my 30th birthday was coming up...), especially when added to the 3-4 pounds I'd put on 2005-2006. And that has led to further depression.

I'm really getting away from my original plans for this post, but I do want to record this here: my logical way of thinking serves me well as a scientist. It also makes for a good voice of reason in my head. However, I spend a lot of time thinking about "how fat I am" (yes, for those who know what I look like, I know I'm not very fat by common standards, just well-padded). I didn't used to... it started in ~2003 or so and now I'm obsessed. The voice of reason says "spending so much time thinking about how fat you are and how much you'd like to look better in pants is foolish. If you are this concerned about your weight, why not just lose weight? You've done it before. You know that all you have to do is take in fewer calories than you expend. You know that reducing portion size is what has worked for you in the past. You don't have to deprive yourself of anything... you just have to eat less of everything." And the voice of reason is right. Yet, I have not been able to get myself back into my 2004 habit of eating less. Sigh.

*****
Okay... I stepped away from the computer for many hours at that point of this ever longer essay and have returned in no mood to ramble (originally, I had planned to opine on the subjects of cellulite and physical aging... aren't you glad I'm going to skip that?). Getting to the point: my resolutions!

- Lose fat. Will do by eating less (have been practicing this for the last week at least) and resuming regular cardio exercise (see next item)
- Do cardio exercise regularly [yes, through the pain] (have been exercising almost daily for the last ~2 weeks; has taken my right foot to new levels of pain; see next item) [Note on other forms of exercise: I love toned arms so much (yes, I suffer from vanity), that I have no problem sticking to my weight-lifting routine for my upper body. And, two physical therapists have now told me, and my experience has convinced me they're right, that I am going to have to do "core" strengthening exercises for the rest of my life, to hold my pelvis together. I have been doing these exercises regularly since I went through another round of physical therapy starting in ~August, and appreciate the resulting reduction in pelvic pain enough to keep up with core exercises. So, no problem there either. It's cardio I need to work on]
- Try harder to improve PF in feet (I've also been through physical therapy sessions for the PF, but stopped doing the stretches I learned from my PT when I decided (after my last session) that they actually made things worse. But, I wasn't exercising then, so maybe the stretches will be more constructive now? It's worth a shot, even if (while I'm stretching my calf muscles) my coworkers make constant jokes about my "holding up the freezer" or "holding up the wall" (I am supposed to stretch every hour and I don't have time to always go find "somewhere private" to stretch and I use solid objects in the lab to push against, hence the comments). I need to start icing my foot again (yes, even though ice feels extra cold in winter!) I also ordered a splint today... it's to keep my foot flexed while I am sleeping). Maybe I'll return to doctor and ask to see a podiatrist, at my dad's suggestion. Want to avoid surgery and cortisone shots like the plague.
- Don't pick at split ends (so far so good)
- Do less random blog trolling (also going well--I signed up for my favorite blogs in Google Reader and so now don't actually go to people's blog pages where I may get derailed by juicy-looking links to their friends' blogs etc.)

...maybe I should have finished this earlier... I can't remember my resolutions any more! I probably had some work/career-related ones in mind, but my brain isn't putting them into coherent thoughts right now. Oh well, since I anyway think I've already bared my soul more than I should have in a public forum, I'll stop here rather than try to make up some more resolutions. Maybe I'll write again if I remember them. Or maybe I'll be too busy trying to keep these. By the way, I do recommend the "practice run" approach--for all you know, I practiced a few more and found them too hard to keep so decided not to mention them :-)

Happy birthday to me, and may my 34th year be filled with kept resolutions!

PS. Just thought of a candidate resolution: be more succinct (and use fewer asides) in blog postings and comments on other people's blogs. Oh, who am I kidding? I'll never be able to stick to that one!

1 comment:

Genevieve said...

Hi Foof. Wow, that was a long one! Happy Birthday again, and vasbyt on the resolutions. I think you can lose the weight again pretty easily - as you said, portion size.