W3.D4

More good study today! I’ve had two good days in a row and I feel much better about it than I did a week ago. My anxiety about it has decreased and I feel much more in control of what’s coming up ahead of me – it’s like I’ve shined a spotlight on everything and now have greater visibility .

Food today was not great. I ate out a couple of times and didn’t make the healthiest of choices. I also had 2 glasses of wine with dinner.

No skiing / exercise today either. I went for a walk along the lake which was really nice though.

W3.D3

A good day for study!! About 3.5hrs of work.

Food was pretty good too. The scale shows me up a couple of pounds from Monday, which is pretty weird as my diet’s been good. Not sure what’s going on there but I’m going to keep things going and hope it settles back down.

No skiing today but that’s ok. No new snow which means the conditions are still poor.

Overall a pretty decent kinda day 🙂

Reframing My Study

I’m studying for an undergraduate psychology degree. This started as a part-time endeavour alongside my day job but I found it difficult. After a day of fairly intensive mental effort doing software programming I was rarely in a good mood to study. Since then I’ve quit my job and taken on a full-time study load, which will allow me to graduate in October 2015. The plan was to focus on the study and “get the degree out the way” quicker. Whilst I’m still hitting the deadlines and scoring good grades, I’m not happy with how my studying is going. I don’t feel like I’m learning the material properly and I don’t think I’m putting enough effort in.

In no particular order, some of the problems I’ve identified: –

  1. The studying, and perhaps the degree itself, feel like a chore.
  2. I have a lot of anxiety about not putting enough effort in.
  3. Why I’m doing the degree is not “clear”. I don’t have a well defined reason for doing the degree.
  4. I don’t identify myself as being a student.

Right now studying feels a bit like a pointless chore. It’s something I feel like I have to do, but I don’t really know why I’m doing it. It’s hard to motivate myself to spend 3hrs/day on something I don’t seem to value or appreciate; yet I feel bad about myself when I don’t put the effort in.

The identity issue is really important. If “being a student” (first and foremost) becomes part of my identity, then I think my attitude towards study changes. It’s no longer something that I’m trying to fit “into my life”, it becomes something more central to who I am. (Side note: perhaps this is similar to “being on a diet” vs. “being a healthy person” ?) If I am a student then it’s normal for me to spend big chunks of the day studying – that’s what a person like me does.

My ultimate end-goal is to become an expert in psychology. Someone who has the theoretical knowledge/academic background and understanding, who can and does apply this knowledge in the real world to have a positive effect on people’s lives. Right now this vision is not linked to my studying. I understand that doing my degree is a stepping-stone towards my goal but it still feels abstract and distant. The degree is something for me to get out of the way, an obstacle to clear before moving on to something more relevant, interesting or nearer to where I want to be. Perhaps I want the outcome but I don’t want to do the work. (Side note: Again, similarities with weigh-loss stuff… we want the slimmer bodies but don’t want to take the necessary steps to get there)

To fix these issues I’m going to become a student. I am a student. And what do students do? They study and they learn things. And they party lots. That’s my job; it’s who I am and what I do. It’s normal for me to spend X hours/day studying.

And why am I doing it? To learn. Sure, I want to get the degree, and yes it will help me get to the next step, but the goal isn’t a collection of certificates for the wall. I want to help people and I want to know as much as I can about how to do that. I want to master this domain.

At the moment my focus is on completing assignments and going through the motions. My focus is not on the learning, and that needs to change. I’m really motivated by the thought of learning more – I want to be smarter. So instead of my studying being a chore and something to get done and out of the way with no intrinsic value, I am reframing it as an opportunity to get smarter. I will measure myself on my understanding of the topics and not on my ability to complete an assignment. The primary goal is the knowledge and not the degree.

W3.D1

A good food day, although I had 2 beers in the evening, which I regret today (the day after).

I did some writing in the morning which was nice. In the afternoon I had two calls with Zen Change Labs members. One was a weekly check-in call with our support group and the other was with Yvonne to go through her Gainstorming process. We focused on my study struggles and I’ve got a few new angles/ideas to try out.

Skiing is on pause for the moment. I’ve got a minor muscle strain that I want to heal up and the conditions are not great. I don’t think I’m going to ride until we get some fresh snow. It feels nice actually to give myself the “time off” to fully focus on the studying/writing.

Weigh-in #102: No booze, no problem!

Peak: 256.6lb
Previous: 253.4lb
Current: 251.0lb
Loss this week: 2.4lb
Total Loss: 5.4lb

Oh yea. A nice 2.4lb loss this week. It was a week of “mostly good food” with a few slips here and there, particularly over the weekend, but overall I felt there was more good than bad in my diet.

A big success was my alcohol intake. I refrained from drinking for 6 out of 7 days. What’s particularly pleasing is that I was in a pub or restaurant on 5 occasions, sitting with others who were drinking. So I was still able to socialise without getting tempted with a drink. I told my friends this is was something I wanted to do this week and almost everyone was supportive. There was one dissenting member of the pack, and if I had to pick one person beforehand it would have been him. Every time we were in the bar he’d try and goad me into having a drink. I don’t think it bothered me too much, although the one night I did drink, he was involved. I had fun that night and don’t have any problems with having a few beers, it was one night out of seven and I had fun.

On the days where I ate some “less optimal” food (I want a word that isn’t “bad” to describe bad foods I ate) there were a few things going on: –

  1. On Friday I was rushed and ate pizza because I was hungry and needed to grab something on the go.
    (Need to make healthy choices when eating out)

  2. Also on Friday I had some friends over for a movie night. I played the host, serving up some less than healthy food and snacks.
    (Peer pressure in social situations)
  3. On Saturday I went to the cinema and had popcorn, soda and some chocolate.
    (Food associated/paired with an activity)
  4. On Tuesday/Wednesday I ate a couple of peanut butter & banana bagels.
    (I bought bad food, then I ate it)

These are all familiar situations for me. None are all that worrying given that I lost weight this week. I think it’s enough just to be aware of what’s going on.

My focus this week is to maintain the alcohol restriction and to make healthier choices when I eat out. I also want to cut out the chocolate/sweets as they are a no-brainer bad food. Nothing about them is good for my body… except they taste so goooood!

W2.D7

Perhaps a better day today. I went snowboarding for a couple of hours in the morning and it was beautiful blue skies and sunshine. Not the best conditions on the hill, but just being outside in the mountains felt great.

The afternoon was a bit of a write-off. We watched a hockey game in the pub (no beer) and played pool into the evening. There was no studying today.

Food wasn’t great. Mostly down to poor planning and not having things prepared. I took the easy option by eating out for lunch and dinner and didn’t make healthy choices.

W2.D6 – Another day

Another “meh” day. In the spirit of self-compassion, today was just another day. It might not have been the best day, I may not have been the most perfect happy human being, but it was another day. The “meh” part comes from sitting on my ass for most of the afternoon feeling sorry for myself, wondering why I wasn’t out running or writing or reading, or doing anything a little more substantive than Netflix.

I spent time this morning transcribing my first interview. It’s amazing how much information is lost or not absorbed when you have a conversation with someone. As I’m transcribing I find all these little details that I missed the first time around – it’s an interesting experience. It’s great that I can also already see themes and structure in the text and I haven’t started analysing it properly yet.

Food has been good. Healthy home-cooked meals, no booze and no snacking.

 

W4.D5

Huzzah! A good day for studying. I completed two more interviews and I don’t think I need any more. I now have some firm next-steps to take and I know what I have to do (part of the problem I find with study is not knowing what I should be doing).

It was a bad food day. There were some social influences that led me to making back choices. My intraday scale reading was up on yesterday but I’m still down for the week and I’m sure a good weekend will see it settle nicely at a new low on Monday.

 

 

W2.D3+4

These days were both forgettable. I didn’t feel particularly productive or happy on either – “meh” days. I think I’ve drifted into a depressed state. I feel down generally and a little sad about a few things.

I did my the first interview for my project on Thursday and my food log was good for both days. We went to the pub this evening and Adam and myself refrained from drinking alcohol, making it 4/4 so far this week. A nice side benefit was the size of our bar tabs. We joked that we are a pair of geniuses for discovering that you feel good, lose weight and save money when you don’t drink beer!