Posted by: draknor | June 1, 2012

Crash Diet Update + Musings on Structure

Let’s start with the diet update — this is technically day 12, but the reality is I’m at about the same point I was at this time last week, with my weight at 192.4.

As expected, attending a friend’s wedding over Memorial Weekend derailed me for a little while. Note that it didn’t have too — I could have avoided the desserts & cake & other high-fat, high-carb foods.  But I chose not too — I wanted to enjoy myself and not be “missing out” (and probably be miserable) during my friend’s celebration.  Overall, while my fat & carb intake was much higher than desired (and protein intake much lower), I don’t think my overall calories ended up being insanely excessive — probably somewhere in the 2500-3000 range. I did try writing down my foods for the weekend but at this point, almost a week later, I’ve given up on actually trying to remember & enter things in.  It’s old news at this point.

The bigger disappointment has been my dietary adherence during the week.

Protein has been down — I haven’t hit my 200g / day goal yet ONCE this week.  And carbs & fat have been up — according to the Ketostix this morning, I’m still not in ketosis.  I’m pretty comfortable with my breakfast meal — 6 eggs’ worth of Egg-Beaters with 1/2 c fat free cheddar cheese + 2 tbsp salsa (and sometimes cottage cheese on the side).  It’s boring, it’s a lot of food, but it’s super-high protein and low fat/carbs (50g protein, 10g fat, 14 g carbs, without cottage cheese).

Lunches are difficult, because I’m often eating out while meeting or networking with people.  There are not a lot of  high protein, low-fat/carb options.  Yesterday I had a grilled chicken salad, but it had dates & goat cheese on it.  It was delicious (!) but pretty high in fat & carbs.  And yes, I made the decision to order that item over more “boring” items on the menu (without goat cheese or dates), particularly because it was lunch with a colleague at a unique restaurant.  I am at least typically ordering some form of salad with a protein.

Dinners have been working out fine — typically a green salad or stir fry with chicken or beef (still haven’t touched the fish in the freezer).

That is, when I have them.  My biggest challenge is meal consistency.  Speaking of which, it’s 11am and I haven’t eaten breakfast yet — and I won’t, because I’m meeting a colleague for lunch in an hour, which means I’ve already got my day off to a poor start, dietarily.

And that leads me to my next topic — structure.  For the last 9 months, I have really had no form of daily/weekly structure to my life.  And for awhile, that’s been great — complete freedom!  But now I’m finding it’s a liability to actually getting things done in an efficient & productive manner.

Consider the old analogy of rocks & sand in a jar.  If the jar is your time, and you pour sand (little stuff) in first, then you won’t find room for the rocks (the big stuff).  But if you put the rocks in first and THEN the sand — you’ll find plenty of room for both.  Leaving aside what “rocks” and “sands” I have, the key here is approaching this in a structured way, like playing Tetris.

I met with my new mentor last week — a recent friend & fellow creatively self-employed woman with high energy & a great personality.  I prepared my mindmap of all these different ideas rolling around in my head — ways to earn an income, projects I’d like to do, etc.  She barely looked at it — she told me I’m an “ideas” person, in that I love new ideas and getting things going, but I easily get bored of new things.  And she’s absolutely right.  But to be creatively self-employed, you can’t just jump from new shiny idea to new shiny idea; there’s no way to build a reputation and establish credibility doing that.  So instead, I need to focus on one idea (and maybe a side project or two to indulge my “ideas” side), and stick with it to really build up something.

A lot of the advice I hear / read for self-employed individuals, particularly in the beginning, is “stick with it”, “persevere”, “keep working at it”.  Building your own business, whatever it is, is not a get-rich-quick scheme.  It takes work & dedication to plant the seeds, or lay the foundation, that will support you in the future.

So with that in mind, I put together a spreadsheet mapping out my week — trying to impose some structure so that I can focus my energy instead of wandering all about.  It’s not really a “schedule” so much as a guide or template.  The key component is that its forced me to recognize what are my priorities for a 168-hour week, how much time do I (ideally) need/want for each, and how do I fit them all in.  It’s been kind of an eye-opening process.

Now that I have this pretty color-coordinated template, the next challenge is to mesh that with reality.  As much as I would love to eat breakfast at 9am everyday, lunch at noon and dinner at 6pm — some days that’s not going to work out.  And that’s okay, because now I have this visual indicator that helps me understand when reality messes with my schedule, I can look & see where I’m making sacrifices or trade-offs.

As an example, my template starts my day at 8am.  I slept in this morning until 10am, so those 2 hours I “lost”  were supposed to be an hour of work, and an hour of breakfast.  Well, I skipped breakfast, so I’ve made up that hour (although my rumbling stomach is not happy with that decision!).  And that hour of work? Well… I probably won’t make that up.  I slept in because I’ve been up late the previous few nights, typically watching a TV show.  So what I’ve really done is traded an hour of work Friday morning, for an hour of TV watching Wednesday night.  Having it all laid out in a template makes that easier to see.  And then I can decide — is that a good decision?  Is that what I want / need?  Or did I just get distracted & lose focus?  Maybe I just needed more personal recharge time this week, and it WAS a good decision.  Or maybe I was just interested in the “new shiny” and really could have better spent that time planning a new marketing campaign or making website updates.

It’s up to me to decide, but at least now I can see the opportunity costs more clearly.  Speaking of which, I need to get ready for lunch, and not a moment too soon!