(Not) Meeting New People

So I thought today was the day I would meet my roommate, but apparently, it wasn’t. I still have an empty living room. Maybe tomorrow is the day. That is, if I even have a roommate. If not, I’d rather have a coffee table over of an unused extra desk and bed.

Meanwhile, since classes haven’t started yet, I’ve been using my free time to either explore the campus or exercise. I went to the campus aquatic center two days in a row now. Both days I swam 20 lengths of the pool in freestyle. Since I haven’t exercised in quite a while, it was exhausting. I have sore arms, but it felt so great to exercise again. The aquatic center is a short walk from my apartment, so hopefully I can go for a swim in the early evenings during the term. Maybe I can get my swimmer’s body!

The problem with exercising in the evening, however, is that I eat dinner later. Usually this isn’t an issue, as I was raised eating dinner around 9pm (thanks, parents), but it seems like everywhere nearby to campus closes at 9pm! Tonight I walked 25 minutes to the nearest shopping plaza, but I got there at 9:05pm and was turned away from two eateries! I walked back another 25 minutes to the on-campus graduate student bar/eatery, but it was packed with people (which was why I didn’t go there from the beginning). I waited a very long time before I finally got my food. Luckily, my college bestie called me so I didn’t go insane from waiting. By the time I finished eating (a grilled club sandwich and fries), it was about 10:45pm. Ridiculous. At least the food was good (but a little too unhealthy).

The reason the graduate student bar/eatery was packed with people was because there was a mixer that I missed out on because I had gone swimming instead. I knew about the mixer, but I really wasn’t interested in a noisy gathering where everyone is drinking beer. I know I’m supposed to be meeting new people right now, but I’ve been deliberately avoiding large rowdy crowds the last few days. I’d rather do something low key or on my own.

I sound like such an old man. I am old, in some sense, at least compared to the other graduate students. When I went to graduate school for math, I was fresh out of college and barely turned 22 before school started. Now I’ve just turned 28 and feel quite a bit more mature than the other new graduate students, most of who are now six years younger than me.

Anyway. There’s still time to meet new people. My departmental orientation is tomorrow afternoon, so I’m sure to meet people then.

In other news, I found out about a month ago that my old officemate from my previous graduate school is here doing a postdoc for a year! I dropped by his office this afternoon, and we caught up over coffee. At least I have an old friend here with me!

Daily Walking

I’ve thoroughly convinced (or so I think) my parents that exercising is the easiest lifestyle change in my mom’s efforts to lower her cholesterol. Every night this week, right after we get home from work, my parents and I have gone out and walked around our neighborhood for a good 30-40 minutes; the route we take is at least two miles long. I was initially afraid that my parents would think the walk was too time consuming and give up after one day, but the routine seems to be sticking.

My mom’s plan is to see how her diet and new exercise regimen will affect her cholesterol. In a few months, she will get another blood test and see if she really does need to take medication or not. I don’t think walking every day is going to be enough, but it’s a start.

Cholesterol

My mom found out that she has high cholesterol. She was borderline before, but her latest test results were quite a bit higher than expected. I think she has a predisposition to it (which might mean I do too?); my dad eats the same sorts of food (and likes red meat more than my mom does) but his cholesterol levels are normal. My parents already generally eat healthier than the average American family, but my mom’s diet is clearly not enough to keep her LDL levels down.

My mom’s doctor recommended a low dose of medication (I don’t know which one yet, it doesn’t really matter at this point) to help, but my mom is very hesitant to take medication for fear that she’ll become dependent on a drug (she doesn’t want to be “addicted” for the rest of her life). She insists that her diet is good enough. I think she’s in denial a little bit. While I understand my mom’s reluctance to take medication, I don’t necessarily want her to rule out the possibility that she might need it either.

I think the biggest and easiest thing to change in my mom’s lifestyle is her exercise routine, or rather, the lack thereof. We usually walk around in our backyard after dinner for 15-20 minutes and stroll around the mall for a few hours on weekends, but that’s the extent of her cardio activity (I’m not sure how much five minutes of qi gong in the morning counts). Most of my mom’s evening (besides cooking dinner) is spent sitting on the couch watching Chinese soap operas or Taiwanese news/politics on TV.

Thus, because I’m the “mini-doctor” in the family (I’m not the doctor in the family, which will be my brother in two years, but I’ve always been interested in taking care of everyday health issues), I’m trying to learn more about how to deal with high cholesterol and come up with an exercise plan to which my parents can actually stick. If I’m going to help my mom get into shape, I may as well help my dad too. Hopefully I can get myself back into shape in the process.

Forced Exercise

In an effort to get started on my New Year’s resolutions, I went to the gym over the weekend. As I expected, I wasn’t very into it. I did a little strength training, a little ab work, and then spent 20 minutes on an elliptical trainer.

I used to be really into working out. I would go four times a week and always try to beat my own record for how long I could stay on the elliptical trainer. This time, the 20 minutes I did felt forced and ultimately unproductive.

I’m pretty sure exercising at the gym is the kind of activity that is hard to get going, but once you get into it, you wonder how you did without it. Actually, many things are like that for me, such as watching Heroes, blogging, or eating sushi. Some things are linked with my fear of change and/or fear of trying new things, but that can of worms is for another day.

Anyway. I don’t know if there’s an easy way to get back into exercising, beyond regularly forcing myself to go to the gym. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of making excuses to not go (like getting home from work around 9pm, which is what I did today), but I shouldn’t make excuses every day.

Why does self-improvement have to be so difficult?

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Not Quite Five Days

I got up really late today, partly because I was sore from going to the gym yesterday. When my muscles are sore, I don’t feel like moving to get out of bed. It was the good kind of sore, though, the kind you only get from exercising. It lets you know you did something productive for your body. No pain no gain, right?

Even with a late start, I decided to go to Starbucks (a different one from yesterday, just for a change of scenery) to study. At least I could get in a couple hours of studying out of the last day of my five day weekend. Or at least, so I thought.

Less than an hour after I started studying at Starbucks, my favorite team leader called me and asked if I could work a closing shift tonight. I didn’t have any plans with anyone else tonight, so I said yes. I read for another ten minutes (maybe less) before going home to change into my red and khaki outfit (I really should just wear it under my civilian clothes, like Superman).

So I guess my five day weekend was really only a four day weekend. But that’s pretty good already, anyway. Once I get a “real” job (and a “real” life), I won’t be seeing many more of those.

The Starbucks-Gym Combination

My last three days off from work were busy with friends. It was a great change of pace from my normal boring weekends. I really must hang out with my friends more often. Unfortunately, I didn’t have plans with anyone today.

I made a point not to visit Target today. Instead, I went to Starbucks for a couple hours and read one of the texts for the actuarial exams. My usual Starbucks was being renovated, so I had to find another Starbucks in the nearby area. It wasn’t hard.

Afterwards, I went to the gym for the first time since sometime in February (at least I think it was February; I haven’t mentioned going to gym on this blog since early January). I forgot how relaxing the gym is. I did a medium workout to gauge how my body and muscles have changed over the last few months. I was afraid that a lot of my weight loss was from muscle loss, but I still seem to be able to do everything that I could do from when I went to the gym regularly.

I’ve lost about twenty pounds since I started working at Target. I’m five or six pounds less than my “ideal weight,” which I thought was impossible to reach six months ago! Many of my friends have commented on how skinny I am. One of them is jealous that I weigh less than him. Whenever I go out to eat with him, he tries to buy me dessert!

The actual number of pounds I weigh is mostly just a number, not an indication of my health. I already know I’m healthy (knock on wood). Even still, I don’t want to gain weight from gaining muscle. Now that I’m skinny, I don’t want my weight to go back up, even if it’s in a good way (I know, I’m crazy).

Anyway, going to the gym was fun, except that my iPod nano was out of battery from lack of use. I used to listen to my nano every day, but I rarely use it now because I don’t listen to it at work. The battery can’t even hold a charge as long anymore. My (2nd generation blue) nano was a birthday present from six of my graduate school friends in 2006, so it has a lot of sentimental value.

The Starbucks-gym combination was what I did for the three months before working at Target, and it’s how I passed the first actuarial exam. Maybe it’s time to go back to what works.

I Need A Hobby

I’m definitely a workaholic. Because I love my job so much, most of my fun and excitement these days comes from work. I’m losing the balance between work and life outside work. Even on my days off, the only thing I can think of doing (unless my college friends are free to hang out, which is rare) is to go shopping at Target, which is a lot like working. Basically, I need a hobby.

Throughout high school, college, and graduate school, I sang in a choir. With my erratic work schedule, it’s hard to schedule a fixed time every week to sing in a choir. Not only that, but I don’t really know of any decent choirs in my neighborhood (albeit I haven’t looked that hard).

Video games are a good distraction, but I haven’t been into playing them lately. I currently don’t own any games for my Playstation 3, and buying games is really expensive. My brother has our Wii right now (we share everything), but I didn’t play it very often when I did have it. Also, getting lost in a game for hours at a time can get tedious and boring, but playing for only an hour doesn’t seem worth it either.

I wouldn’t consider exercise as a hobby (it’s more of a necessary part of staying healthy), but I used to go to the gym a lot. Now that I run around all day for work, I don’t feel like exercising on my day off. It’s not like I need to lose more weight anyway; I weigh 40 pounds less now than when I was at my heaviest.

The one hobby I can think of (besides shopping) is to make my digital pictures into prints and make photo albums. But every time I vaguely choose which pictures to print, I second guess myself and end up not printing any of them. My indecisiveness strikes again.

Anyway. I have the next two days off. I haven’t had an entire weekend off since I started working at Target. I’m hanging out with my sister on Sunday (because her birthday is coming up), but that still leaves all of tomorrow with no agenda.