Being enough

draft

I stumbled upon a a bunch of drafts that I thought I would share since I have no idea why they were left unfinished and unpublished. This was originally dated August 10, 2013.

I’ve been reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird the last few weeks (and loving it). This excerpt perfectly explains my thoughts about being a emotionally healthy goal-oriented person. It’s from her essay “Publication.”

“All that I know about the relationship between publication and mental health was summed up in one line of the movie Cool Runnings, which is about the first Jamaican bobsled team. The coach is a four-hundred-pound man who had won a gold in Olympic bobsledding twenty years before but has been a complete loser ever since. The men on his team are desperate to win the Olympic medal, just as half the people in my classes are desperate to get published. But the coach says, ‘If you’re not enough before the gold medal, you won’t be enough with it.'”

This is, adding to last week’s conversation, a key to dealing with/avoiding a quarter life crisis.

What do the “winter blues” feel like for me?

draft

I stumbled upon a a bunch of drafts that I thought I would share since I have no idea why they were left forgotten and unpublished. This was originally dated Nov 12 2012.

It occurred to me this week that I’ve talked about feeling the “winter blues” and I make casually reference in conversations with my friends to feeling “emo” (emotional) sometimes, but I’ve never really explained to anyone what I mean when I say that. Sure, it’s clear enough to get the point across: I don’t feel totally emotionally healthy that day, but what do I feel?*

I’m a person who has always been pretty introspective and in touch with my emotions. I’ve always been able to put a name to what I feel and how I’m doing. I’m also pretty aware of my physical health as well. I’ve never really had to explain to people what certain things feel like. I never felt the need. I know what’s what in my own life and I manage it accordingly.

It never occurred to me that being more specific about what it feels like might be helpful for others to interpret what’s going on in their lives.

This week a few different people mentioned that they have felt lonely recently. That piqued my interest. Partially because I’m saddened by the idea that my friends feel lonely, but mostly because my winter blues feels like loneliness. Why don’t you just say you’re lonely, Jess? Why do you say you have the winter blues? Because I know I’m not actually lonely.

Here’s the other clue. It feels like sadness of the heart. When I have a combination of loneliness and heart-sadness I call this “emo.” This usually happens in  fall up until the end of December, as I’ve already mentioned. In December I’m rarely actually lonely. I’m out with friends celebrating Christmas parties, or with family for actual Christmas. But I rarely have the energy or desire to do things like go cross-country skiing with my family during those holidays and I feel sad and lonely even with them thereThat’s why I say I’m not actually lonely. I’m with people who love me and I love and care for them in return. I don’t feel isolated when I’m with them. But my brain and my heart say something different.

Call it what you may. It only happens from the months of September to December and there’s a remedy for it as I talked about in my post I LOVE LAMP!

If you find you’re feeling a little bit sad and a little bit lonely, consider if you’re exercising and taking Vitamin D, and as always make sure you’re not isolating yourself from your friends and family. You don’t want to make a self-fulfilling prophecy for loneliness.

*I don’t know what it feels like for everyone else. I’m not a medical professional and my advice is based on what has worked for me in the past based on how I feel and what I know to be true about my life and situation.

Lift, data, food

Three things that have been big for me this year are LiftApp, data, and food. You’ve seen me talk about LiftApp several times. It’s been really helpful in tracking my progress on goals. Recently, when I was feeling bummed about not being great about reading my Bible daily which was one of my goals for the year. I checked out my stats on Lift and realized that I had read it almost 300 days in the year. The Data helped me realize that I had done better over the course of the whole year than in the last few months, which was encouraging. I’ve been trying to be more mindful about real information this year. The facts (like the previous example) help me see where I’m at objectively rather than based on my feelings. This year, I also gained a stack of weight due to my love of food and my lack of discipline in exercise and running.

QDiet

In the new year, Lift is combining diet and data doing “the largest randomized trial of popular diet.” It has two aims:

#1. Help one million people make a healthy diet change leading to: weight loss, overall health, and/or more energy. We’re providing 10 popular diets with expert advice.

#2. Perform the largest-ever measurement of popular diets. What works? How do popular diets compare? How can we all be more successful? We’re working with UC Berkeley on the science and the analysis.

People have the option of adjusting their diets to follow any of the following 10 diets (including the option of being given a random diet to follow):

  1. Paleo: eat like a caveman, mostly veggies, meats, nuts. Advised byPaleohacks and Nerd Fitness.
  2. Slow-Carb: lean meat, beans, and veggies; abstain from white foods like sugar, pasta, bread, cheese. Based on Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Body.
  3. Vegetarian: vegetables, but no meat. Cheese and eggs are optional. Advised by No Meat Athlete.
  4. Whole foods: eat only recognizable foods and avoid processed ones. Advised by Summer Tomato.
  5. Gluten-free: no wheat, rye, barley or wheat-based foods.
  6. No sweets: a simple diet change that affects your insulin swings.
  7. DASH: USDA’s current recomendation.
  8. Calorie counting: the old standard.
  9. Sleep more: the science says this should work. Advised by: Swan Sleep Solutions.
  10. Mindful eating: learn mindfulness to recognize when you’re full. Advised by ZenHabits and the Center for Mindful Eating.

When I first heard about this a few weeks ago, I was really interested in the idea, just none of the diets. Well, you know I’m already doing #5 and #6, so I thought there was no real way for me to participate in this. Recently I was listening to a Micheal Hyatt podcast (I forget which one!) and he was talking about how helpful it was for him to start tracking his calorie intake in order to understand whether he was exercising enough. I’ve always been wary of counting calories because it can become a type of eating disorder, but I also have to face the fact that I just eat anything and everything whenever I want. I have zero data about what I’m putting in my body versus how I’m spending that energy (watching Bones on Netflix, these days).

So I tried MyFitnessPal for a few days to count my calories and it was eye opening. I was sometimes 1,000 or 1,500 calories over what I should be consuming based on my activity level! I was reminded of the story from The Power of Habit that talked about those who started tracking what they were eating, it became a Keystone Habit in that they suddenly became aware of what was going into their bodies, but then they also became aware of how they were exercising and spending their money. Their whole lives turned around because of being mindful of this one thing. (Random fact: this article on Keystone Habits is the most visited post of mine via Google).

I’ve decided I’m going to participate in the study doing #8: monitoring my calories. I want to invite you to join me on “the largest randomized trial of popular diet.” All you need is to sign up here and download Lift to your phone (or use it on your browser), or read more about The Quantified Diet

Dissonance

The last few months have been obviously abnormal for me in certain ways. As my dad put it, “Your lack of blogging is very obvious.” He also proceeded to assume that I must be a lot less stressed by blogging less.

Not exactly.

I’ve realized that my life is a lot more together when I’m busy. There’s this sweet spot where I’m quite busy actively working on my priorities. This point exists right before I’m freaking out because I haven’t done laundry or grocery shopping for weeks. This fall, as I have focused on work and getting my laundry done on time and having food in the house, I’ve also watched a lot of Netflix.

I am mostly OK with these things.

I’m mostly OK with having not really moved forward much in reaching some of these goals listed on this website because I know there’s more to life than blogging and running and reaching goals. I’m mostly OK with having been a bit of a blob on my couch because it’s OK for me to not have everything together at all times.

But I was also partly not OK with this fall because I don’t like being a blob. I’m not a very great person when I’m a blob. There’s this ugly spot on that same imaginary chart where if I don’t have enough challenge I revert to laziness. This was me in my personal life this fall.

There was a distinct dissonance in my life and I didn’t know what to do with it. I was unmotivated, yet I understood that this was not the end of the world, even if I didn’t like it. My SAD wasn’t really a big deal recently, which was incredible. And yet, something was still off.

This morning when I woke up the sun was shining. We cleaned the house and I did all kinds of things I had put off. I scrubbed the tub, I cleaned the shower curtain, I did laundry, tidied the house, I walked to Café St. Henri and here I am. Blogging. Getting Things Done.

There’s something about December that motivates me. It’s the anticipation of a new beginning in January. So here I am, turning my back on that weird fall and facing forward.

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