Let’s Chat: Rambles on Paleo & Umbrellas

Oh, hey there! How are you? Haven’t talked to you in awhile. How’s the family? And your job?

Willy Wonka Tell me more

Yeah so I haven’t written in awhile, mostly because I haven’t found anything really worth writing about.

Actually, that’s a lie. I have a couple drafts of things I would love to post, but I’m not really sure about sharing them with the interwebs.

So now that I’ve lied to you and told you I’m keeping secrets from you, let’s continue to chat like those two old friends catching up at the coffee shop who speak loudly and have no discretion for what the general population of said coffee shop wants to know about their lives.

Or the overly zealous female talking about her work frustrations or juicy conversations with friends or whatever with her male counterpart on the already cramped train where there is no escape. He usually just gives one word responses in between her breaths (that don’t come frequently and don’t last long) to make it seem like he’s paying attention and actually cares. Luckily for him, he’s gotten really good at tuning her out and pretending he cares because he cares about her as a person. Aww, what a guy. Unfortunately, the rest of us don’t care and cannot drown her out as easily, so we are left to hear every little detail.

But I digress.

So it’s May now. We had a monsoon blow through New York yesterday; I thought April was supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. But I realized a few things yesterday because of the rain…

First, I am not prepared at all for the rain. The one pair of boots I own are almost 2 years old and I found out yesterday that they have holes somewhere. So, um, needless to say my feet were absolutely soaked by the time I got home last night. Disappointing. And uncomfortable.

Also, I don’t own anything that resembles a rain coat. I have my winter coat and light spring coats, but nothing to keep me dry. Yes, I have an umbrella, but here in New York City you find out real quick that you can’t simply rely on umbrellas. The wind changes direction every time you turn a corner in the city and I swear it purposely blows up from the ground just to turn your umbrella inside out, losing the battle completely.

Broken umbrellas are a common sighting here. Now, I don’t condone littering, but it’s kind of comically sad seeing them strewn on the ground on or after rainy days. They obviously weren’t able to hold on through the storm and have been abandoned because they no longer serve their purpose.

I mean, if you Google or look through Flickr for ‘broken umbrellas’, you’ll see what I mean by the pathetic nature of said broken and useless umbrellas. Some are just a tad broken, but broken nonetheless. Others, however, are so mangled and disfigured, it makes one wonder whether a lion escaped from the zoo and went on a killing spree.

Broken umbrella

And then there are the people who are determined to stay at least a tiny bit dry, even though their umbrellas have been overcome by the elements. Even if one or more of the spokes are broken. Even if the extension part of the handle no longer works. These people are manually holding the umbrella open because, dammit, they will not accept defeat! They will do whatever it takes to keep at least their forehead untainted by the rain. Granted, who wants to go in a bodega or to a street cart and pay $10 for a poorly made umbrella that almost seems designed to break under the smallest gust of wind?

Another thing is that it’s such a pain walking down a narrow sidewalk while people walking in the opposite direction also have their umbrellas open. It’s kind of like playing chicken; one of us has to either raise our umbrella or close it a little bit in order for us both to fit through. But I don’t want to close it and risk getting soaked. And it doesn’t seem like they’re going to close it either. Then I start to raise my umbrella, thinking I’m going to be the considerate one…but then I notice them doing the same…so then we both kind of lower them. Quick, we’re getting really close!

It usually ends up working out, but sometimes the umbrellas get caught on either the other’s umbrella or a tree, and water flies everywhere, usually on both parties. It’s kind of like that embarrassing “dance” when people awkwardly can’t pick a side when walking by each other under normal circumstances.

Bottom line: I need to find some rain gear, like, ASAP.

Another reason I haven’t written in awhile is because I feel like I’m failing majorly with the whole eating Paleo thing. I made a dish or two using a cookbook I bought, but that’s been about it. I have been eating more health-consciously [scout’s honor!] since I wrote that last post, choosing salads over sandwiches, burgers, pasta, etc. I don’t think I’ve had pasta in quite awhile. Great, now I want tortellini with Alfredo sauce, broccoli, and sun-dried tomatoes. Mouth is watering. I’m full-on drooling now.

I’ve been eating more fruit, purposely buying it from a small veggie store nearby so that I have them to snack on instead of chips or cookies or the like. I have, however, been kind of bad with chocolate since Easter was 2 weeks ago and that silly Bunny spoiled Tom and I with Cadbury Creme Eggs and hollow chocolate bunnies. The thing with me and chocolate is that, if it’s in the house, you best believe I will eat it.

Matilda Chocolate Cake

>>Oh, side note, I wanted to try the Carrot Cake M&Ms but I totally missed out! I didn’t realize they were limited edition for Easter, so I never picked any up because my thinking was, “I have a feeling we will be getting some candy from Mr. Easter Bunny, so I can wait.” Well, I’ve waited and heard people raving about how delicious they are. Come to find out everywhere is now sold out, and people are selling them on Amazon for $15 a bag! Like, what?! Preposterous. So anyways, let’s hope they decide to make them a permanent flavor because they were so popular. Otherwise, I’ll have to wait until next Easter.<<

I talked to one of my co-workers a few weeks back when I decided Paleo was a good idea and she said her husband does it; she found that eating 80% Paleo is totally fine and that a slow-cooker is your best friend with this diet. Part of my problem with eating Paleo is that it’s about 70% preparation and 30% self-control. Also, sometimes the lack of calories and sugar has given me problems in terms of feelings that I’ll pass out, so sometimes I just need something quick and sweet to boost my sugar levels.

Honestly (and obviously), it takes so much longer to prepare a Paleo meal. So she said using a slow-cooker has been a God-send; she just decides what she wants to make, prepares everything the night before, throws everything in the crockpot in the morning before work, and when she comes home, it’s nearly ready! Plus, you can make a few nights’ worth of food using a crockpot, whereas some meals take so much time and work just to prepare enough for 2 people.

So I’ve been working on not putting myself down on doing poorly on this mission of eating healthfully because I’ve been improving my eating habits in general. And I’ve been using the workout room here at the school at least 3 times each week for the past month, so that’s great! I bumped my Fitbit step goal up to 12,000 steps per day and have been consistently surpassing that daily. Overall, good things happening.

Okay I think I’ve blabbed enough. Until next time, ciao!

Sleep deprivation is making me stoopid.

Seriously, I feel dumb. Like, all the time. It wasn’t always this way (I’m pretty sure), but in the past 2 months, I think my IQ has dropped below the level of possible IQs. Yeah, that happened. Didn’t think it was possible? Well, I have set a new low. So now everyone in the world can feel super intelligent!

My memory has plummeted – I used to remember anything and everything, but lately I can’t even remember basic math. Oh, did I mention that I have a Bachelors in Mathematics from SUNY Geneseo and a Masters in Mathematics Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Mhm, great.

I constantly forget words that I want to use in order to finish my complete sentences. And it’s not even like “oh, it’s at the tip of my tongue” or “it sounds like this” or “another word for this.” I don’t even think a quick game of charades would help my plight. My mind just stops and turns into a big black hole of ideas and words. And then I start panicking because I should know this! Why the heck can’t I think of what I’m trying to say or do? So those complete sentences get completely butchered and most of the time I can’t even salvage them with a synonym or parallel idea.Frustration meme

So then the people I’m talking to get frustrated, and then I get frustrated. We all get a whole lot of frustrated because I can’t freaking finish what I was trying to convey to them. Or I’m completely wrong about something because I simply didn’t think my idea all the way through, usually because I panicked from the lack of remembering, and now my credibility starts to be whittled down.

Tom has noticed it too. There have been many times where we’ll be talking and I’ll say something so dumb and he’ll call me out on it. And then I’ll realize just how stupid it sounded or how ridiculously wrong it was and recoil in embarrassment. He started by calling them dumb blonde moments, but then they began to be too frequent to be dumb blonde moments. And it wasn’t just me trying to be silly or act dumb; they were honestly lapses in my brain and train of thought.

What is happening to me? How can I be 24 years old and having this much of a difficult time remembering basic facts? Why have my math skills plummeted when I just finished school 2 months ago?

I’ve wondered if I’m developing some sort of early onsetting Alzheimer’s. My mom has Multiple Sclerosis, and I know that ‘thinking problems’ is a symptom of that; could I be showing early signs of MS?

I figured I’d go to WebMD (super reliable, right?) just to see what kinds of conditions they might suggest I have with my given symptoms. I put in:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty finding words
  • Difficulty solving problems
  • Forgetfulness
  • Memory problems (some of these are quite redundant)
  • Poor concentration
  • Easily distracted
  • Difficulty learning new things

Side note: When I put in that I was having difficulty concentrating, the following question popped up on the screen:Concentration WebMD question

Maybe it has something to do with too much or too little oxygen while diving that might screw someone up? Just thought the question was quite random when it popped up.

Anyways, my results came up as follows:

  1. Depression (adult)
  2. ADHD
  3. Postconcussive syndrome
  4. Alcohol withdrawal
  5. Head injury
  6. Medication reaction or side-effect
  7. Sleep apnea
  8. Sleep deprivation
  9. Depression (postpartum)
  10. Intoxication
  11. Asperger syndrome

…and they just continued to be less and less likely, so I’ll stop at Asperger syndrome. After the main possibilities, they just ended up being listed in alphabetical order. MS did make it on the list, after Marijuana use. Goodnes gracious.

So the first plausible cause (unless I am depressed and don’t know it) would be sleep deprivation. Hm, that would make sense…sleep deprivation

See, I live in Long Island and work at a school in Brooklyn. Every weekday, I wake up at 5 a.m., get on a train at 5:54, arrive at work around 7:45, leave work at 3:30 p.m., hop on the 4:19 train from Penn Station, and don’t usually get home until around 6:30 p.m. After I get home, I shower, eat dinner, watch TV, and hang out with Tom and his parents. My typical bed time ends up being around 10:30 since showering and eating dinner kind of perk me up and then I want to hang out and talk with everyone before doing it all over again the next day.

I have a Fitbit, so I’ve been able to keep track of how many hours of sleep I get per night, as well as how many times I’m restless during the night. It’s actually really interesting and I usually spend more time paying attention to the sleep log than of how many steps I’ve taken throughout the day.Fitbit sleep log

According to my Fitbit log, I barely get more than 6 hours of sleep each night during the week. Sometimes I might catch some shut-eye on the trains, but it’s not enough to say so, and it never gets to REM sleep, the most important kind of sleep that gives your body the rest it needs.

Interesting enough, this past week I read an article from BBC about how sleep deprivation affects students’ performance in school. It focused on the fact that the lower performing schools tended to have more students that suffered from lack of sleep than those countries who performed better.

The findings are not cut-and-dried; just looking at the first bar graph in the article (shown below), it is clear that not all high-performing countries’ students are getting enough sleep. And the lowest performing countries are not all suffering from sleep deprived zombie children, either. For example, Finland has been at the top of the charts for math and science performance for years now (although, surprisingly, this past December, a report came out that their scores dropped, bringing them down to 12th in the rankings), but they are nowhere near the countries whose students are getting the most sleep.

Sleep deprivation by country

Fun education facts for you all out there!

So the BBC article points to technology as a possible culprit for lack of sleep. According to Dr. Karrie Fitzpatrick, the light from computer, tablet, or phone screens, “…can reset the whole circadian rhythm system and say, ‘Wait a minute, it’s not time to go to bed’.”.

Coincidentally, I am one who has always fallen asleep with TV or Netflix running next to me. Sometimes, if I just try laying down in bed and going straight to sleep, my mind starts racing and concentrating on the things I need to do the next day, causing me to become anxious and more awake than I was when I laid down. So Netflix allows me to concentrate on something else, and I usually fall asleep within about 10 minutes of laying down while watching a show or movie.

Tom had told me about the light screwing with circadian rhythms before, scolding me for having my computer on while trying to fall asleep at night. He mostly did this because when I get tired I get cranky. And when I get cranky, he usually receives the brunt of my terror. I apologize Tom. And anyone else who has endured my overtired wrath.

He told me there’s an app that is meant for using screens at night, and I actually found it in another article from Business Insider. It’s called f.lux and reduces the bluish light that LCD screens emit and screw with our sleep.Phone with and without f.lux

Luckily for me (and everyone else!), the effects of sleep deprivation can be reversed with a return to sleeping 7 to 9 hours regularly. So this week I’m going to try to fall asleep without a screen in front of my face. If I find my anxious thoughts make it too difficult to fall asleep normally, I will use the f.lux software to turn the brightness down and hopefully still reap full benefits of sleep.

And if I’m still dumb after getting more sleep, then I guess it’ll be wise to go to a doctor and get it checked out.

I just really hate how this has affected me, so I’m determined to get back to a normal state of intelligence. Sure, I’ll definitely have dumb blonde moments, but they’ll just be a silly, infrequent occurrence as opposed to all day, everyday. Happy snoozing everyone!