Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Adventures in Happiness and Low-Carb Living

Okay. So far there are a lot of checks and a lot of x's on my resolution sheet for January, but I'm trying. I'm actually keeping up with my health journal using a handy dandy...... NOTEBOOK! No, just kidding, really I WAS using a notebook but now I'm using a Chrome app, which led me to a website where I keep track of other stuff. The combination of app and website help me keep track of what I eat each day (including calories, carbs, protein, fat, and individual vitamins and other nutrients), how much water I drink, how much (if) I exercise, how much sleep I'm getting and the quality, and my reflux symptoms. It's work to keep up with it, because if I don't do it daily I'll forget and be all out of whack, at which point (I know myself) I'll just say, "Screw the whole thing, I've ruined it."

Anyway, this is a lovely segue into the fact that I'm embarking upon a low-carb diet plan. No, I don't particularly want to. I am not excited about counting carbs and eliminating white bread, normal pasta, white rice, and excess sugar from my diet which previously consisted of probably 75% or more carbs. Well, I have been having a crap-ton of trouble maintaining stable blood sugar lately, evidenced by the shaking and sleepiness and hot flashes I've had daily over the past year. So I'm trying this diet plan to see if it helps keep me on a more even keel. Yesterday was great. Today was not AS successful, but I didn't have any dramatic drops like I have been, so it is still an improvement.

I have discovered that SweetLeaf (a stevia-based sweetener) still has an aftertaste when I use it in coffee. I baked a hot fudge cake tonight, using the same powder in the batter but not the topping, and it was ALMOST not noticeable. I don't think it will bother Bob, for instance, but I can pick up the subtle difference because I know what to look for. Still, it's a step in the right direction for someone whose livelihood depends so heavily on chocolate.

Anyway, on to my Happiness Project: As far as the organizing is going, well, I'm trying. More so than daily organizing tasks, though, I'm better about just actually doing the chores that need doing--cleaning the cat box, washing the dishes, doing the laundry, and (now that I've done the total organizing overhaul of this one thing) keeping my desk neat and usable. I would LIKE to get the kitchen (pantry and fridge), bookshelf in the living room, and my bedroom closet in order before the month is out, but my diet insufficiencies have left me without the necessary energy so far. We shall see.

I'm trying on the sleep, and the evening tidy-up. I've already discussed the health journal. As far as the one-minute rule, that's the one I'm actually most lax about because I don't think so much that way. Another principle I got from Gretchen Rubin's book (she may have gotten it from somewhere else, I don't remember) is this: Do it now. That helps me more than the one-minute rule. Instead of thinking, "Can I do this in one minute or less?" I just think, "I should just do it now." This is especially helpful when it comes to throwing away junk mail, paying bills, and washing the dishes (or at least loading/unloading the dishwasher.) I've also gotten better about cooking at home rather than rely on frozen pizzas and pasta, but part of that is the carb thing.

Okay, though. I kind of had a breakthrough yesterday. It was earlyish in the school day, about 9:30, and just about everybody was in a crabby mood, me included. No patience with each other, with the kids, or with ourselves. So I wondered how I could go about changing that, at least for me. I ended up asking myself four questions:
1. How am I feeling?
2. What is making me feel that way?
3. What positive things can I be happy about today?
4. What things can I do NOW or SOON (within 20 minutes) to change my feelings?

1. It turned out to be harder to describe my feelings in words, so I used a color instead: gray.
2. I figured that a combination of the cold, wet weather, the rough commute that morning, and a feeling of stagnation at work and at home was contributing to my "gray" feeling.
3. I was able to quickly find some positive things to focus on, two of which were directly related to specific children I work with--one had a vast improvement with the addition of medication, and another is always so happy to see me, and so enthusiastic to learn. He makes me feel good, even though he wears me out! Finally, I was feeling good about my workable (if difficult) eating plan.
4. Because I was still in class with kids, my happiness-boosting strategies were fairly limited. But I came up with two things I could do to help myself reframe: deep breathing, and a little stretching. Turns out breathing doesn't work for me when I'm angry, but when I'm just feeling a little edgy or grumpy, counting 10 deep breaths and simply stretching my arms and legs a bit helps me to refocus and "try again."

That's all for my update for now, since this post is already pretty long. I will add this, though: If you are a fan of http://thebloggess.com/, then you should totally read her book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened. I got it for Christmas. I've read it twice and am rereading my favorite parts for the third, fourth, or fifth time by now. It is hilarious and it will make you happy.

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