Remembering the Old, But Forgetting the New

When attempting to get back to healthier/more positive habits or further improve my habits, I try to remind myself to keep in mind the lessons and realisations I have discovered in the past.

For instance, one thing that I strongly advocate is to be aware of your own natural tendencies and work with them rather than against them. Discipline and will-power are banned terms when it comes to habit-changing strategies. If it requires you to drum up discipline or willpower, then it’s a weak strategy for you. I mean, if you love shopping but hate exercise, then why would you try to force yourself to go for a run every morning. Doesn’t it make more sense to begin increasing your activity by regularly going to the city or other major shopping districts and shopping without using public transport to get around? Start your pedometer and feel proud!

Going back to nuggets like these remind me of things that I already know work for me, and can help me get started again when I’ve let things lapse.

I’ve been struggling to rebuild my positive and healthy habits since my health went downhill a few years back, but I’ve always had this feeling that the hardest part will be getting myself started and, after that, I know what to do. I’ve kept thinking this way, yet I’ve struggled to get started – specifically with increasing my activity, which is probably the main priority at the moment.

Just recently, I’ve begun to realise something. I’ve been aware that I shouldn’t forget my old lessons, but, in doing so, I didn’t notice one thing.

I change. I continue to change.

While, fundamentally, I’m the same person that I was four years ago, of course things about me have changed. Some of my habits and preferences and tendencies have changed – and, of course, there are physical changes due to my health issues.

I gradually noticed when I was last studying at uni that I had needed to change my study routines from when I first studied at university. During first uni, my brain would stop working after about 8:30-9:00pm, but I’d wake up early in the morning and lie in bed thinking about my assignments for a while, then get up raring to go. Rather than doing the staying-up-late-to-finish-an-assignment, I’d do the get-up-early-to-finish-an-assignment. By the time second uni rolled around, my brain no longer seemed to function like that. I could instead work decently til 10:00-11:00pm (yeah, still not an all-nighter type…), but relying on having oomph and motivation in the morning was hopeless. I had changed.

However, now, I’ve subconsciously assumed that I haven’t continued to change since second uni. I’ve assumed that the times I feel most like being active are the same as they were and the way I like to do things is the same as before. While assuming all of this, I haven’t actually managed to start any of the positive habits I’ve been aiming for, but I didn’t notice and question my assumptions.

Of course, my old lessons and realisations are still extremely valuable and useful. It’s just that I need to re-apply them to the kind of person I am now. The old thing I learned about following your natural tendencies is still hugely important. However, I need to pay attention and become aware of what my natural tendencies are now. I’m sure I’ll be the same in many ways, but, when it concerns how I can be more active, I think I have a lot to learn about myself.

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Why to Blog Again More (AKA You WordPressers are Wunnerful)

Sooooo…I really had never intended to post even one, let alone this second link back to my other blog all of a sudden in just one day! However, I felt the urge to write this latest post and honestly couldn’t decide at first whether to write it for here or my personal blog. In the end, I left it there, because it’s more rambly and long-winded (and poorly-edited) than I try to write the ones for here.

However, this post is my reflection after re-reading some old DO/AO posts and comments, so I feel I want a link to it here, too.

Why to Blog Again More (AKA You WordPressers are Wunnerful)

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Indirect Update

I haven’t forgotten about this site, but health stuff happened and blogging kinda…well…I explained it just now on my other blog:

Stuff about my personal blog and a bit about what happened and where I’m at health-wise.

I would like to start this project up again one day, but I’m not really ready for that yet.

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2014-02 Drop Caring What Others Think (1)/Add Daily Creative Writing

I’ve had a few “add” ideas this month, but a drought of “drop” inspiration. In usual Zaiene fashion, I’ve suddenly come up with a flurry of ideas for things in my life to drop! So, once more you find me here in Lifestyle Experiment Land. I’ve been considering expanding things regularly to a fortnight or a month, but, as my first for the year, I will start with a week and see how things go. This whole Life thing is pretty much trial and error, you know.

This week, I am going to drop caring what other people think (1). Yep, just like that. Ok, so moving on…

No, no, I’m not silly enough to really think it’s that simple, or I would have achieved this years ago and been a thouroughlly happier and more obnoxious person! If I manage to keep DO/AO up (at least semi-regularly) this year, I’m planning to revisit this particular one a few times, so this has the (1) next to it as it is my first step!

Obviously, I’m not planning to stop caring about other people’s feelings or considering other people. I don’t think I could ever be truly arrogant (although probably a teeny bit of arrogance would actually be good for me). What I’d like is to spend less time checking my own behaviour and worrying what other people are thinking of me. I’d like to spend less time reviewing interactions and worrying that the other person didn’t find them as positive as I did. I’d like to spend less time worrying that someone is unhappy with my work or performance or behaviour, even though nothing negative has been said or indicated.

I’ve decided that the easiest way to start might be with the people that already supposedly really like me. No, I’ll say that again: …The people who already really like me. This week, I’m going to try not to worry about what my friends are thinking of me. They already like me, generally think positive things about me and don’t mind (and even enjoy) my normal behaviour. These are people who actually say to me things like “I miss you!” or “Let’s catch up!” or “I had fun today!” or “I love it when we hang out!” and other nice, personally-complimentary things. Despite lovely comments like these, I often find myself wondering if I was being too annoying or if they really like me as much as I thought, or if they were judging me in some way etc. So, this week I will try to check those thoughts and just enjoy spending time with friends or communicating with friends; I will try to relax and be myself and let my friends think whatever it is they always think without trying to guess and worry about it.

This week, more practically, I’m going to add daily creative writing.

I’ve been having a bit of a hiatus from work recently, as one of my jobs has finished and I have felt that I needed some time to try to work my health and wellbeing back up from about 30% to something more sustainable (it’s probably up to about 65-70% now). I’ve eventually got to the stage, however, where “resting” is driving me insane. I’m feeling a little aimless at home, but don’t quite have the energy to constantly be out and about; I still need to make sure I’m taking time to nurse and nurture myself. I will very soon feel ready pick up some teaching or find some new work, but in the meantime I just don’t really like this feeling of not working or studying (uni starts in two weeks) or doing anything that is purposeful for my Life.

It suddenly struck me that normally I long for periods when I have nothing to do except work on my creative projects. In a really ideal world, I would probably work a few days a week in some kind of helping job (for instance, psychology or education) and the rest of my time I would write stories and blog and do other creative things. Normally, though, I expend so much mental energy on work and study that I give up trying to have any left over for a sustained creative writing effort. Recent issues with my eyes and migraines don’t help much, either. Yet, here I’ve been, sitting around feeling dissatisfied and bored, when I could have been making the most of precious obligation-free time!

Sometimes I’m baffled at how long it takes me to realise things like this!!

So, my goal this week is to do at least fifteen minutes of any kind of creative writing each day. More is great, of course, but at least fifteen minutes (or five minutes + ten minutes, or any other combination) will mean I’ve sat down and started to get back into the swing of things.

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A Quote to Keep You Going

I haven’t quite manage to complete a publishable DO/AO blog post, but I keep intending to post one!

In the meantime, here’s a quote that tickled me from a book I’m re-reading:

Socrates used to spend his whole time finding rare and special exceptions to anything anyone said. He must have been most annoying.

From Simplicity by Edward De Bono.

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2013 Summary

I had a few simple goals for 2013:

1. Prioritise regular exercise to manage stress during Honours, increase energy and generally stay healthy.
2. Prioritise regular journally to manage stress during Honours.
3. Complete my Honours coursework brilliantly and produce a kick-arse Honours Research Thesis.

What actually happened in 2013:

1. I caught every cold within a 30km radius.
2. I had chronic, persistent headaches and migraines (and then migraine medication that made me feel dopey).
3. I got part-way through my coursework then realised I needed to repeat first semester in 2014 to have any chance of making up for time lost through illness, I barely managed to complete my research thesis (even with a long extension because of all my illness).

No, 2013 did not go to plan!


1. Completed research thesis: Hoorah!
2. Weaned myself off sweet things (even with a major thesis-writing aberration)!
3. Gained a lot of research skills and experiences, a lot of confidence and some good contacts.

I have found out just recently that my migraines are at least partly due to a condition called idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), although I will have an MRI in two months to rule out anything other cause (both the eye specialist and the neurologist seem fairly unconcerned about my MRI). IIH can be pretty serious, but in my case the optometrist noticed it very early and the neurologist had already recently started me on the correct medication (because of my migraines), so hopefully the MRI will go well, the treatment will go well, the migraines will improve and this year will begin to be easier than last year!

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Reasons for the Fat Shame

Why do we feel ashamed of our weight?

Week in, week out, my work involves visiting teenagers to take their measurements as part of a research project about healthy weight management for adolescents. All the participants in our project are technically overweight, and so am I. In fact, since I was a teenager there has only been a very short period of my life when I haven’t felt that I was at least a bit overweight.

The adolescents I visit are all lovely. Many of them don’t look more than squishy (as opposed to toned), but even the ones who are more obviously overweight are lovely. It is amazing how swiftly my attention shifts from someone’s weight to their personality, and how easy it is for their personality to shine through and enhance their appearance further.

So I find myself wondering why we feel ashamed of our weight, regardless of whether we are fifteen or thirty-two.

I think that there are two main reasons and I don’t think that either of them are very much to do with the real problem with being overweight (i.e. that it’s unhealthy).

The first is that we feel ugly – more importantly, we feel that other people think we’re ugly. Perhaps there are are some evolutionary psychological reasons for us preferring people who are not too overweight (perhaps we want people who look fitter and more able to hunt, run (or protect us) from predators or bear children), but on this premise it would be counter-intuitive to be attracted to people who are very skinny (as they might be weak and would probably not have enough fat stored to survive harsher conditions where perhaps food is scarce). So we can’t blame much on evolution.

I think it is pretty widely acknowledged that the idea we currently have of what is attractive and what is unattractive is an unrealistic construct of society and the media. It is something that many people are trying to shake, but it is persistent and will not change easily. In the meantime, we are all battling to reconcile how we actually look with a skinny ideal. The teenagers I visit struggle with feeling ugly because they are overweight – and often with being told outright by people at school (and even sometimes by family) that they are ugly because they are overweight.

Appalling as this is, it is possible (although difficult) to detatch ourselves from this. It is possible to be comfortable with how we look and to be confident that we ourselves are people worth knowing. I think the second reason we feel ashamed of our weight is less obvious, but somehow worse, because it strikes overweight people at a less superficial level: We feel ashamed of our weight because we feel that people judge who we are by our weight.

How often have you heard jokes about the fat person sitting in front of the TV eating too much chocolate, cake, fried chicken, pizza etc? Even now, people can’t help feeling it’s a little funny because we believe we recognise some grain of truth in there: overweight people are lazy, overweight people have no self-control, overweight people are unhealthy and food-obsessed.

Overweight people often do have a somewhat (at least) unhealthy relationship with food and some do struggle to be as active as they ideally should. The problem is that people who are not overweight also often eat unhealthily and are more inactive than they should be. Genetics and life circumstances (such as having had children or a medical condition) play a role in how much fat our body stores, which means that some people are “lucky” and their body doesn’t give them away when they have any unhealthy habits.

My point here is not with actual healthy habits, it’s with the perception that overweight people are more lazy, gluttonous, undisciplined etc. than people who are not overweight – and peole who are not overweight have more self-control, success, organisation, energy etc. than overweight people. People look at us and they judge who we are by our appearance – or, at least, it feels like people judge us – and soon we start to believe the negative perception of ourselves and others. We believe that the thinner people have better qualities than us. The reality may be that an overweight person is no worse in their habits than anyone else – in fact, they may even be more mindful of being healthy than some because they are overweight. Nobody can actually tell from the outside the true merit of a person.

Yet, if we are obviously overweight (or if we think we are obviously overweight), then we feel a shame about who we are beyond our attractiveness to others.

The one and only problem with being overweight should be our health and, in reality, we should be measuring our health by much more than just weight. We should be measuring it by our fitness, our nutrition and the resilience of our bodies (e.g. immunity) and many not-overweight people would fail those measures. It is just sad that we feel our weight cancels out all of the educational degrees we have earned, the job skills we have gained, the relationships we have forged, the positive attributes we possess and reduces us to: lazy, undisciplined, gluttonous…

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