The Truth.

A while back I was all into those Shakeology shakes.  I won’t lie.  They really were awesome, especially from a convenience standpoint.  However, I can’t say I was any healthier then compared to now because it’s just as easy for me to eat those “phytonutrients”  throughout the day the old fashioned way by preparing real meals.  My husband, on the other hand, is usually too “on the go” in the mornings because of his job so he likely benefited more from it.

But we had to give it up because it was getting too expensive.  I could no longer justify spending $200+ a month on that kind of convenience even though I would often opt for the easier choice if I could.  And I also couldn’t justify only allowing myself and my husband to drink these shakes when I knew I should be offering it to my children as well.  But $500+ for “complete nutrition” for the entire family?  It just wasn’t feasible.

A few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and sold all my camera equipment.  I didn’t do this because they weren’t being used or because I lost my interest in photography.  I actually don’t have the free time to do anything creative because of school deadlines and the challenge of learning dance choreography for one of the classes I still teach at the gym.  But who’s to say I don’t pick up the camera for school dances and band concerts and other milestones.  I still do.  Or at least I did.

Let’s face it.  Until I finish grad school and start working full time, it’s slim pickins here.  It always has been, but lately I’ve been feeling the stress of it even more for a number of unfortunate events that I can’t discuss openly.

I wonder sometimes if I need to be more honest and open about my financial situation.  I hear people complain about being broke and not being able to afford things when I really don’t think they know how stressful it is to have financial insecurity or the uncertainty of finding gainful employment, all the while trying to keep an entire household afloat.  Precarious doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about money, although I think pride keeps me from talking about it.

I guess I am thinking about this now when I should be sleeping because a random person popped into my head today.  I remember when I realized she had blocked me on Facebook though now I can’t recall how long ago this was.  Last summer?  Last spring?  Who knows.  I’m guessing she did this because she didn’t appreciate my lack of support for her “business” which involves the promotion and selling of Shakeology and other Beachbody products.  I think I got too much into the “Public Health” mindset while learning about people who are truly struggling to make ends meet.  A $130/month/person nutrition supplement just seemed frivolous to me, even more so when I learned there was nothing more nutritionally magical about it than a salad.

But considering where I was financially, it truly was frivolous.  Perhaps I should have just told her, point blank:  Look, I can’t buy this product because that is money that needs to be spent on basic needs, like food, clothing, and gas for my car.  I guess at this point it doesn’t matter any longer and the fact that I’m giving her this much thought at 1:30 in the morning probably means that I actually did care about our friendship a little.  It’s sad to think that even if I was more open about my financial situation, she probably wouldn’t  have given me the empathy that one would expect from a friend.  Especially one who constantly promotes herself to be super helpful and caring and all about empowering women.

Ah… but of course for people like her, such things are only for those who share the same agenda.  And I will end this with a note to self of what NOT to do when someone disagrees with me, challenges my beliefs, or just flat out tells me I am wrong.  Maybe there is an underlying reason why this person feels this way that has nothing to do with me.   Remember that.

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Some days deserve a rewrite.

Yesterday I wrote a post lamenting the end of a friendship.  Perhaps it was worth mourning at the time.  But now that I’ve had a day to ruminate on the matter, I realized it was ridiculous to dedicate any amount of time on something that really lost its value over time.  The tears she cried when I moved from North Carolina apparently were that of crocodiles.  She had also just given birth to her son so I’m sure hormones might have had something to do with it.

While I do think the time spent in North Carolina produced some life changing moments, I don’t think many real friendships were made.  Or perhaps I was a different person back then, newly divorced and deeply entrenched in a toxic codependent relationship.  The place had a lot of drama, which I left in exchange for even more drama in Illinois, I realized.  The most important takeaway from the drama years was that I don’t need an entourage of friends and weekends full of exciting things to do.  Peace and quite is definitely my preference.

So life goes on and I can’t really lament the time lost mourning a friendship that ended long before it became Facebook official.  I could have been doing a risk analysis of diabetes in DuPage County, which I will be scrambling to do today due to this time wasted.

Just like food that was burnt onto a frying pan, all it took to wash it down the sink was a quick overnight soak.  And voila, it’s all gone, ready to start anew.

Unfriended and Blocked. Oh my!

Today I discovered that an old friend decided to end our friendship.  Granted, in this day and age, this type of breakup is initiated by changing one’s Facebook relationship.  Sure you can Unfollow someone if you don’t want to Unfriend them.  It’s very passive-aggressive because (as far as I know) the offending friend doesn’t know about it, but even in real life face-to-face relationships, there are people we must tolerate but simply Unfollowing them just means I am not subjected to their ramblings on my Newsfeed.  It happened more often than I care to admit during and after the recent election, but sadly, now that everything has calmed down and (most of us) have resorted back to the usual snapshots of food, kittens, and gym memes, I cannot remember who I Unfollowed.  My Facebook Newsfeed probably consists of the same 5 people’s posts because of this.

But really, I should be too busy to care.  Facebook is an artificial means to be friends.  And I suppose that could mean that friendships that are maintained in such a way are actually pretty fake because most people only put forth what they want others to see.

Perhaps the “real” stuff is saved for actual real face-to-face interaction, but to me friendships are no longer taken that seriously because I never know who is sincere.  I realized when listening to gossip one day that I was probably once the main topic of discussion from this particular blabbermouth.  In the grand scheme of things I shouldn’t care because at this point in my mid-40’s, my life is an open book and guess what?  It’s not that interesting.  However, when your supposed best friend is going through a divorce, I don’t want to know the details of what is going on.  I’ve been there and it’s no one’s business, especially when you are the best friend who has been entrusted to listen and not tell the world.  Quite honestly, it’s about as heartless as gossiping about someone’s death, because that is what divorce is.  Death.

Anyway, in the artificial world of social media, Blocking someone is pretty serious.  Maybe I’m basing this on my own standards because I only block those who are truly offensive to me.  Even close friends who can sometimes be a bit off-color just get a quick scroll-through before I would even contemplate blocking them.  I think to myself: “Yeah sure, they’re behaving like an asshole at the moment.  But I’ve known them for X amount of years.  I value our history and know he/she is a good person because of A, B, and C.  This disagreement is not so huge that I would actually Block them.”

Well, I was either not that valuable of a friend or I behaved like such an asshole that I could no longer be tolerated.  I will go with the former, perhaps to pad my ego a bit because I won’t lie, my feelings are a little hurt.  Although, maybe this person was so used to me being sweet and agreeable that when a subject matter came up which I am passionate about forced me to take a stand and challenge her viewpoint, she was so taken aback by this that her only response was to drop me as a friend.  She made no real effort to actually engage.  Not that she had to.  But apparently I hit a nerve.  How dare I.

Good.

Oh well.  I really like the person I’m becoming.  If this ex-friend doesn’t recognize that (and she doesn’t… how could she when she is so consumed with her own thing), then she deserves to be a part of my not-that-interesting past rather than the craziness of the present and the celebration of things to come in the future.

Who is missing out?  Certainly not me.

Note to self.

I seem to recall using this title before.  Let’s face it, I’m either getting too old to remember everything or have too many things I need to remember and am running out of space.  Too bad I can’t just empty the trash and be rid of things I no longer need.

Anyway.

One of my professors just pointed out something I need to remember about health claims: the difference between “science-based” and “evidence-based”.  The former means something is plausible, a conclusion based on the possibility of efficacy based on in vitro studies, animal studies, or simply deduced from the pathophysiology.  We might consider this anecdotal.  But definitely not conclusive. The latter is based on repeated testing (preferably randomized, placebo-controlled trials) which has resulted in a consensus of the efficacy.  This is very important to consider when recommending anything for a client or patient, and the difference between simply Googling for answers and spending hours upon hours researching a product, treatment, or regimen.

Being in the fitness industry, I hear a lot of anecdotal recommendations.  I feel as though this industry is wrought with individuals who are always stepping beyond the threshold of what the scope of practice should be.  They mean well, but without proper research behind what they’re recommending, they could be doing more harm than good because health and wellness is not one size fits all.  One important concept I’ve learned, which even experts tend to rely, is to try and step away from a reductionist approach.  In other words, recognize that the human body is a complex interaction of systems which is affected by one’s environment, and therefore any recommendations should be taken on with a more holistic approach rather than a linear “cause and effect” that tends to coincide with reductionism.  Easier said than done when we always want answers.  After all, a single line is much easier to follow, even when meandering, than a giant web of possibilities.

The Queen of Procrastination.

My sister, who is an excellent therapist, shared some tips about procrastination.  Though they were meant for the Teenager, who is currently struggling with time management, I can certainly benefit from most of these tips myself.

This quarter my plan to take a grueling 16-credit load went from 12 credits to just 8.  This was likely divine intervention because I’m finding half way through the session that 2 courses have given me enough to juggle.  I’m not sure if I’m just burned out or if the courses themselves are challenging (Advanced Metabolism: Carbohydrates & Fats and Health Policy).  In my dual masters program I’ve completed 50% more classes on the MPH side than the MS in Nutrition/Wellness side, and for good reason.  The science end of it is kicking my butt.  Not that policy and law is any less tedious, but it’s a different kind of challenge that entails the regurgitation of knowledge and then some.  If that makes any sense.

Okay, so maybe it isn’t me.  This is just some really difficult shit.

I was actually very disappointed when I realized I may be taking much longer to finish grad school than I had initially planned.  I contemplated dropping the Nutrition component which would have allowed me to graduate this spring, with the MPH internship pending for the summer.  However, in my undying search for the “why” behind everything related to health and fitness, I decided to stick to the dual masters.  On top of that, my Nutrition advisor recommended that I take my time so that I don’t become too overwhelmed.

Blah.

But she was right.  The first year of grad school was a whirlwind.  I need to take this all in so that I know I’m ready when this milestone is behind me.  Right now many things are up in the air, simply because there are so many options.  And that is a great thing.  I never thought in a million years I’d be contemplating a doctorate but that may very well be the next step.

We’ll see.  For now, it’s time to bury myself in academia once again.

As the second year begins.

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since I started grad school.  Granted, during half of this first year, my other foot was still at the junior college completing prerequisites necessary for the second component of my dual masters program. Life during this time was so hectic that I think I successfully blocked it out of my mind.

Once the fog started to lift, I realized I had forgotten important appointments.  It had been 2 years since my kids last visited the dentist; this March will mark 2 years since my last ob/gyn checkup.  I was supposed to get a mammogram sometime as well, but I’m not even sure when.  The icing on the cake occurred while sitting in my Bioethics class and I received a panicked text message from my daughter that she couldn’t try out for the basketball team because her sports physical had expired.

But wait, didn’t we just do that?  They must be wrong.  They must have misplaced the most recent copy.  Or maybe she forgot to turn it in.

Right.

The irony is that one of my degrees is going to be in public health.  I should be on top of preventative health measures for those who are near and dear to me.  Grad school has made me a hopeless flake.   Not to mention more sedentary, with stiff hip flexors from sitting too long along and an annoying shoulder impingement from poor posture while typing endless papers and discussion posts.

While most people see the new year as a new beginning, I tend to view “the year” based on the school term.  Indeed 2015-2016  was great because I started a new chapter in my academic journey, though I wasn’t sure what direction I was going and the sheer amount of thinking rather than merely regurgitating knowledge was an adjustment, though a refreshing one.

I finally found my focus and this is what’s going to carry me through to the end of this leg of the journey.  Hopefully this newfound focus will trickle into the other aspects of my life which seem to run on autopilot, thankfully.

Although this short break between sessions has given me time to evaluate and improve, I have to remember:  No one was sick, injured, or felt deprived, as far I could tell.

We survived, and we’ll just keep going.

A teeny tiny break.

I was looking forward to a 6-week break in between sessions.  It would have given me time to just sit and BE, which usually entails learning new choreography for my classes and binge watching something on Netflix.  After all, the kids are starting school in a few days, the hubby will be at work, leaving my most productive hours in the day completely free.

But 6 weeks is long.  Way too long.  I was fortunate in that the two classes I took over the summer ended early thanks to enduring much pain and suffering in the final weeks, some of which involved working on some massive projects while my husband drove us through the Mohave desert twice while on “vacation”.  My poor mother sat in the back seat in complete silence for fear of causing distractions, unbeknownst to her that when I’m under stress there is very little that can distract me.  Needless to say, 16 hours of drive time from Vegas to Northern California and back were extremely productive.  I earned my pool time and the seemingly bottomless mojitos.

In pursuing a double graduate degree, my total credit requirements went from 64 to 96.  After 3 sessions, I’ve completed 28, which is not quite one-third.  It would have made the most sense to start in the Fall, since that seems to be when people start new things, academically anyway.  However, in keeping with my heightened productivity while under stress, I decided ASAP was a better option, prompting me to begin grad school immediately after acceptance into one of the two programs.  Why not?  Perhaps I’ve actually fallen in love with the rigors of academia because if given the choice between binge watching Game of Thrones and cranking out papers for public health ethics, both of which would require some serious commitment, I would honestly choose the latter.