Friday, October 28, 2011

Adrift in a sea of......nothing

So much for snapping right back into the weight loss efforts and life as I knew it pre-intensive-dissertation-writing time.

Digital Photograph by Matt Stidham
It's been three weeks since my last post and I'm not really any closer to getting back into the groove of things as I thought I'd be.  It's funny - when I was in the midst of writing, I wanted nothing more than to be done so I could get on with my life, doing things I'd had to stop doing in order to finish.  And now that I'm done?  I feel adrift, disjointed, and a little lost.

I knew I'd feel this way, to some extent.  You don't pour your heart and soul into something for four straight years, turn it in, and then simply go back to life as you knew it.  I knew there'd be a period of feeling aimless and grieving the end to the process.  What vocational purpose I had in life (beyond this particular part of getting fit) is somewhat diminished.  For four years I have called myself a PhD student and when asked what I do, I had something to say. 

Now?  I have no idea.  Given the current state of theology/religion departments in the UK, chances of me finding a job in academia are pretty slim.  So I find myself facing the prospects of blazing new trails, working freelance, writing and doing informal education - but such a possibility feels a bit overwhelming right now. 

There's a part of me that's tired of being a pioneer.  It's always been my default.  I feel like I am always fighting against the current, doing things differently, taking the road less traveled by.   Despite the positives of such action, I'd like to travel in someone else's slipstream for just a little while.  I really don't have the energy for whacking through all the brambles and undergrowth, clearing a bit of earth, and building something new right now. 

There's too much unknown.  I don't know if my dissertation will be passed by the examiners (my defense is in December).  I don't know yet if my current job will continue beyond the end of the year.  I don't know where I'll be living 6-12 months from now.  And after all these years of preparing, I don't know if the world wants what I've got to give if I did go my own way.

All of this, as a result, takes its toll on my efforts to be healthier.  Over the last three weeks, the scale has been as up and down, bobbing along as I have.  281.6, 278.2 and today's 280.

I'm eating good stuff (for the most part), but just too much.  And I have determined that I am definitely a binge eater.  That has become apparent in the last 3 months.  And I am going to the gym, but not enough (about once a week so far).  I'm not recording, I'm not keeping track, I'm not counting.  And so I'm not seeing results.

I decided to go back and look at where I was a year ago on this here blog and I found something interesting.  Roughly this time last year, I wrote a post about priorities that was an attempt to kick myself in the tail and get back in gear.

Is there a pattern here?  Is October my "drift" month?  Is the waning daylight connected to my despondency (aka "lack of courage and umph")?  It's totally plausible.  Add on top of that this period of life I'm in and it's no wonder I'm struggling.

So maybe this is an opportunity to start fresh, to wipe the slate clean, to make a new schedule for myself and see what rises to the surface after a few weeks.  I want to be gentle with myself, acknowledge this place of life that I am in, sit with it and not try to make myself busy in order to gloss over it.  But I also know I can't sit with it indefinitely.  Eventually I need to act. 

So today I'm going to spend the day figuring out a schedule, making a list of priorities and what needs to get done work-wise, figure out how to map some ideas I have, and see what happens.  I may also change my weigh-in days to Wednesdays.  Sundays just aren't working for me, really.

Will let you know how I get on. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

And now we return to our regularly scheduled program....

Well, it's been almost 2 months since my last post - and holy cow, what a 2 months it has been!  Seriously, it has been a roller coaster ride of emotions, pressure, stress, writing, editing, and more as I've spent the last 2 months finishing up my Ph.D dissertation.

But it's handed in now (I did that a couple days ago) and life is slowly returning to some semblance of normal, albeit a strange kind of normal without having this idea of the dissertation always looming.  My defense is in early December, so it's not completely done.  I'll need to go back to it, read, and do a bit more research in preparation for my defense.  And then, in the defense, most likely there will be recommended revisions before it passes.  So the process is not completely over, but barring major revisions, the hard part is done.

Want to see what it looks like?

the front cover

first page of chapter four

one of the prettiest pages to me - footnotes are beautiful!

A few stats about this thing.  It turned out being:
  • 395 pages (352 pages of text + 34 pages of bibliography)
  • 87,859 words in main text 
  • 48,978 words in footnotes
  • approximately 1,200 paragraphs
These 395 pages represent four years worth of work for me, and while I know I need to be proud of this achievement (and I am), it's hard to celebrate fully until I know what my examiners think.  I can think I did the most amazing thing in the world, but if my examiners don't like it, it can all be for naught.  So early December will bring the result and will dictate just where I stand in the whole process.

So it's not over.  But it is over for now.

And so now life returns to what it was before the madness began.

So, where am I on the whole losing weight thing?

Heavier than I had hoped I'd be, but about what I expected.  Shall we reveal the toll the last 2 months have taken?

Drum roll please....

2 October 2011 weigh-in

Starting weight:                          327.0
Last weigh-in (9 August):          270.6
Current weigh-in (2 October):   279.6    
Gain of                                       + 9.0

Total Loss                                -  47.4 lbs

Yeah, it's a little disappointing I have to admit.  I was doing pretty well at maintaining until these last 2 months, and then all health-related habits pretty much took a hiatus with my blog.  
I wish I could have continued to lose or maintain.  But at the same time, I know I need to give myself a break.  I have just completed the hardest thing I have EVER done....and probably one of the hardest things I will ever do.  The task was immense, to say the least.  And so, a 9 pound gain, in the big scheme of things, is not the end of the world.

I'm headed back to the gym this coming week.  Time to get back into the routine.  I miss running.  I miss swimming.  I miss feeling strong.  I feel flabby, slobbish, and weak again.  I feel tight, inflexible, and heavy.  My lack of exercise and improper diet (particularly not enough fruit & vegetables) has wreaked havoc on my digestive system, skin, and mood.  I didn't want to go back to that, but this dissertation exacted its price in whatever way it could, and unfortunately, that's what went.

But what's done is done.  
And watch out, October, because I'm gonna try hard to knock you out.

What have I missed in your world?  
And what do you do to get back on the horse after a break?