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Posts Tagged ‘Stress’

When I thought about doing P90X a few months ago I wanted to write out the routines on a calendar so I could cross them off as I completed them. Basic behavior modification. I asked my wife to pick up a calendar for me and when she asked what I wanted on it I told her “whatever is fine.” And so I have an “Extraordinary Chickens” calendar upon which I track my progress.

It now has 7 X’s on it πŸ™‚

I made it through the first week of P90X and did pretty well. I’m still getting used to eating differently. I generally eat lots of carbs and not enough protein in any given week. I’m good with veggies and fruit though (thanks to my wife). In order to really have enough energy to do this program I need more protein. I don’t do any of the supplements or drinks. For one, they’re expensive, and for two, I’m not trying to build myself up to be this awesome bodybuilder or anything. Yes, I know I’m missing out and my body is probably missing out, but I take my multivitamin and now a glucosamine supplement (recommended by a friend since I’m having knee trouble this week). My nutrition and vitamin intake are in the spirit of the program and for now that is good enough for me.

My biggest hurdles so far in the program are yoga and abs. Abs are just plain brutal. I’m doing 12-15 reps for each exercise (instead of the 25) and it’s all I can do for now. As for yoga, I’m just not all that flexible and I have a belly, which gets in the way and has more than once caused me to fall over. Plyo isn’t the monster I thought it was. I can mostly keep up and I try to push myself a bit more each time. I’m getting better at pull ups and, honestly, I’m doing mostly adjusted versions of many of the exercises at the moment to get some benefit and learn the routines. It does me no good to do 3/4 a pull up without a chair when I can do 5-10 with a chair (and I always try to do at least one without the chair each time). That’s my best right now and I’m not sad about it.

Kempo X is probably my new favorite thing. I enjoyed the punches and kicks when I did P90 back in the day and this is a high pace version of that. I’m still learning form, but I can keep up intensity, which is something I can’t do on any of the other programs.

In other news, Fantasy Football starts up soon. I’ve tinkered around a bit this weekend and plan to read up on the guys this year during the week. I’m hoping to find enough people (read: people I know) to start my own league this year. I’m sure I can cobble together 7-9 people to make it happen. Updates on that progress later.

I finish my internship in <1 month. After that I will be finishing my dissertation and hopefully finding a job. I’m applying to a lot of places this weekend and next week. I hate not having a plan and feeling like I have little control over what happens to Maggie and the cats and me for the next 3-4 months. All I know is that by the end of the year I will be graduated. There’s also a small chance that we’ll all be homeless. Now accepting donations.

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A lot is going to happen in my life in the next 90 days. I will complete my internship year at Coatesville. I will be extremely close, if not finished with my dissertation. I will almost be graduated with my PsyD. Maggie and I will be packing to move or have already moved to…somewhere. I will tackle P90X.

Internship has been a great experience overall. I have grown so much this year and learned a lot about myself professionally. Admittedly I was slow to adapt to the program and had to relearn a couple of things, but my professional confidence continues to grow and I feel like I’m making a difference in the lives of many veterans.

My dissertation is stressing me out. I need 4 more participants and I am working to find them wherever I can. If you are yourself or know a gay male college student in the Philly area who might be interested in participating in my research on the coming out process, send me an email (jschwenker@spalding.edu) for details. Once I have the last 4 I can pull all my data together, analyze it, write it up, and get on defending to my committee. I’m ready to move this process along since my proposal was accepted by ISTSS for discussion at the 2012 conference in Los Angeles. Yay!!!

I’m not sure what our future holds. Everything is once again up in the air (or perhaps it has always been there). We’re currently stuck in PA paying really high rent while I scour the nation for a job or post doc that will take me ABD. Looking forward to a time when I can count on just a little bit more stability.

Finally, I have decided to tackle P90X. After 2 years of consideration and a lot of procrastination, I will begin the program next week. I’ve been auditioning the workouts the past couple of weeks, doing one to the best of my ability and taking a day or 2 off to recover. They’re difficult. No question. And I don’t think I would have made it through Plyo without having spent the last 90 days running and building up my stamina and leg strength. Plyo was rough, but I think the real challenges for me are going to be Abs, pull ups, and yoga.

I plan to approach this the same way that I did my running and, to borrow a phrase from Tony Horton, “do my best and forget the rest.” My goal is to complete the program. Do each routine from start to finish. Do all of the exercises. There are some exercises where I can keep up with Tony and the gang. There are others where I absolutely cannot, and that’s fine. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. I may not be able to do 25 of each type of crunch, but I am sure I can manage 10 and work my way up. The same goes for other exercises. I can do more than half of what they’re doing and work toward matching for the moment.

I plan on tracking my progress here for each of the phases (tracking my measurements anyway and maybe a few pics). I will be tracking my daily progress on Fitocracy now that I’ve managed to translate the P90X exercises into Fitocracy’s language. I have my calendar marked and my worksheets printed. I take my initial measurements tomorrow (Sunday) morning and I start fresh on Monday after work. All that is left is to do the work and stay focused, which applies to more than just my exercise.

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Moving sucks. Apartment hunting sucks. That’s essentially the rant. Keep reading if you’re interested in the details.

Several weeks ago I made plans to fly to Philly to rent an apartment. Maggie and I found one on Craigslist and contacted the owner. It was as close to perfect as we could hope to find on such short notice. Two bedroom one bath house with a fireplace, small yard, washer & dryer, dishwasher, partial utilities paid, etc. for $1200/month (before you freak out, that’s a pretty standard rent price for the area–stab me).

In case you’re wondering, a one day trip to Philly, with hotel, rental car, and flight from Louisville, goes for about $500. This makes the second time I’ve made the trip (once nearly 2 years ago for an internship interview). Anyway, I make my connecting flight in Cincinnati and I get an email from the guy saying he’s rented out the place. Not only that, he rented it out THE DAY BEFORE. Ass.

So now I’m stranded in Philly for a day with no leads and expected to have an apartment lease by the time I arrive home the next day. That didn’t happen. I looked at about half a dozen places and called twice that many trying to find something that wasn’t an apartment complex. Several places were out of our price range. Several others were already rented and hadn’t removed their ads. Still, others were happy to accept one cat but refused to accept two (like we would choose one over the other!). I looked at a cottage on a farm that was nice, but it was absolutely farm living with all the little buzzy and crawly critters. We were responsible for most of the utilities and mowing the ~1 acre land it sat on. It was nice, but the cons outweighed the pros.

I narrowed it down to 3 complexes after it was all said and done and took all of their information home with me. I consulted Maggie and we made plans, narrowing it down to one complex. They required I show proof of income to prove I could pay the rent. No problem, except my income was slightly lower than their expectation and they would not accept any other source of income I provided (e.g., financial aid awards for the year). Since Maggie is between jobs, she couldn’t contribute a number to the cause, so we lost that one.

Finally we found a place that is going to work out. They accept cats, have all the amenities we want, and accept my proof of income. We still have a few hoops to jump through (such as getting shots for the cats and working with the VA for a proof of income letter), but we should have a place to live when we arrive in Philly next week.

Currently we are plugging away at the apartment here in New Albany. It is a mess. There are three of us going at it, so we’re making progress, but it looks like we’ve been robbed. Maggie took a carload to Goodwill today and we’ll prolly have another load later. I’ve got boxes of stuff to go through to separate trash from stuff I want to keep and I have started a pile for shredding. It’s hot and we don’t wanna do it anymore, but we should be done by Thursday or Friday.

There’s my update/rant. I’ll post more once we’ve gotten moved. Just thought I’d update since I haven’t in a while and people keep asking about the move.

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I’ve been in NC for a week now over Maggie’s spring break and now, this week, I’m enjoying mine. It is a nice vacation and I like to spend time with everyone out here. Last weekend Maggie, our friend Susan, and I went on a self-planned wine tour to five different wineries and punctuated our trip with a visit to the beach in Wilmington.

Two of the wineries stood out: The Country Squire Winery and Noni Bacca Winery. Country Squire reminded me a bit of Murray in the sense of Eastertime playing trumpet for the Catholics and eating at the Brass Lantern. Maggie said it reminded her of Patti’s, though I’ve never been (and that’s a shame). Country Squire is a restaurant and inn as well and it crossed our minds that we may make a return visit for another mini-vacation to stay in the cottage.The wines were excellent and I came home with a bottle of “Knicker Dropper.” Susan really liked the place and bought 3 bottles. One thing to note is that apparently there is a little girl that hangs out at this winery and occasionally makes her presence known to visitors. Paranormal groups visit regularly for a chance to say hello to her.

Noni Bacca was also nice and definitely a different locale than Country Squire. It was located in a strip mall adjacent to a mattress store. We did a wine tasting for $5 and got much more than our money’s worth. The staff were friendly and provided us with lots of crackers, cheese, and chocolate. We sampled something like fifteen wines and got lots of extra samples. I was sad that they had run out of a couple of the wines I wanted to sample, but they had a great selection of ice wines and fruit wines. I’m typically more of a semi-dry red wine kind of guy, but I really liked their fruits and whites. They recommended a fresh seafood place down the street that was awesome.

In between visiting these two wineries we paid a visit to the beach. The water was much too cold to wade into and, truth be told, the wind was very chilly as well. We went mostly to enjoy the view and read for a bit. We were pleasantly surprised to see a pair of dolphins swimming in the waves maybe 50 feet from the shore. It was the first time I have seen dolphins outside of an enclosure and Maggie said it was her first time seeing them while not in a boat. It definitely made my day for sure.

This week I get to visit Carl and my brothers-in-law. I’m looking forward to hanging out with Carl and catching up on things. He recently got a job out in Wilmington so I’ll have to pass along some of what we learned in our trip. I have a feeling the in-laws are gonna celebrate my (belated) birthday during our visit. They’re fun like that. It’ll be nice to have cake. It was the one thing missing from my birthday this year. And even if they don’t celebrate it (which I’m cool with too), it’ll be fun to spend the evening with them and play games with the boys.

Finally, I plan to get some work done with my dissertation this week. I’m hoping to work with some of the UNCG students to gather data. I’m partnering with PRIDE on campus to find participants and space to work and Maggie has a few friends who are willing to work with me. Hopefully I’ll get a handful of participants to take back to Louisville with me. I can get started scoring and work on my SPSS (read: boring statistics program) file to organize it.

That’s all for now. Oh, one more thing. If you read the blog regularly, you might run across the name “Belzan.” Belzan is the (nerd alert!) character I play in the online game Guild Wars. I also write a blog for him and other Guild Wars related things. I’ve honestly been keeping up with that blog a bit more, so you may see that name more frequently. All of my blog replies currently show up with “Jason” but I’ll be changing that to Belzan so as not to confuse those guys. Just a head’s up. I don’t love them more than you guys, I just see them more πŸ™‚

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I am well on my way to collecting data for my dissertation. I have acquired IRB approval at Spalding and I’m awaiting approval at 4 other universities. Funny, the one in North Carolina is much more on their game than the local ones in Louisville. I have printed all of the documents I need and will be stuffing packets this week. I also need to purchase a couple of things, including a locking document box (which are harder to find than you might think) and an external hard drive (multipurpose since I need to back up my compy anyway). Other than that, I need to track down participants and get to it.

Friday is Match Day. I will know then where I will be for internship (or if I need to freak out a whole bunch). I’ll be glad to have an answer either way. I’m tired of waiting. I’m growing impatient for my future. I’d like to be able to say with some certainty where I will be in a year.

I have started to consider my health again. This time last year (give or take a month) I began exploring P90 and doing Sparkpeople. I’ve left the latter in the dust, but I have strong intentions to restart the former. I am 225 lbs–the heaviest I’ve ever been. Internship interviewing and all of the stress from these past few months have led to more stress eating and a tendency to want to sit and veg at the end of the day. I turn 29 in 10 days and I’d like to be healthier on for my 30th birthday than I will be on my 29th. Part of that means eating healthier and part of that means exercising regularly. I plan to jump start this process sometime in the next couple of weeks by kicking my own ass with P90X. I also intend to begin paying more attention to what I consume. Portion size is a problem as is eating when I’m not really hungry. I plan to reduce the number of times I eat fast food and how frequently I eat greasy/fried foods in general. I hardly ever drink soda anymore and I have been increasing my water intake, so I do have something to show for myself. I’d like to get back down to between 165 lbs and 175 lbs. Online BMI calculators are telling me 160-176 for a medium frame and 129-169 (BMI 19-25) for my ideal body weight. Honestly, once I’m down past 200 I’ll be happy.

Let’s see, what else? I get to visit Maggie in a couple weeks for a couple weeks. My spring break and hers bunch up against each other, so it’ll make for a nice mid semester vacation. It won’t be all play though. I will be gathering data for my dissertation at her school while I’m there. I should be visiting her from around the 7th to the 19th of March. Really looking forward to it, I must say.

That’s all for now.

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Last week was my second interview trip. I visited two sites and spent time with Maggie and friends. There were fun times and frustrating times, but overall, I consider the trip a success. Site info and highlights to follow:

Site 8 – On-Site Interview – VA Medical Center

It took forever to get there, but I’m glad I made the trip. I encountered aΒ  lot of travel problems enroute to this site (see previous post) and following my arrival in NH, I had to drive 90 miles to my hotel in VT. I’m talking speed limit 45 due to the icy mess that was the road with cops posted every mile or so to catch you for speeding. I’m talking arriving at my hotel at 1:30 in the morning for a 7:45 am interview time. But hey, I got a nice rental car. 2011 Ford Edge with heated leather seats, Sirius radio, AWD traction control, and only 4.5 miles on it (I was the first to drive it). Hella gas guzzler, but fun to drive.

The site was nice. Moderately sized campus,Β  as VA campuses go. The site offers pretty much everything I’m interested in in an internship site, including PTSD emphasis (with a connection to the National Center for PTSD), inpatient experience, broad assessment opportunities (including neuro and Rorschach), and outpatient opportunities at a local university counseling center. They also offer intensive training in Cognitive Behavioral and Brief Psychodynamic therapies. I knew going into it that this program would be intense and the interns confirmed it. One of the highlights of the trip was that I was interviewed by the executive director of the National Center for PTSD and, whatmore, he was intrigued by my dissertation topic.

Pros: Lots and lots of stuff that I want. I like that I get to try new things and challenge myself and I know that I will get good training at this site. There are a lot of unique opportunities at this site and it sounds like I’ll have some flexibility with my cases.

Cons: Less flexibility than other sites. Very intense 50-55 hr/wk program. Cost of living is moderately high, but hey, it’s New England, so the cost of living is high pretty much everywhere.

Best question asked of me: Nothing really out of the ordinary. I got grilled a bit on my theoretical orientation, but I used that as an opportunity to talk about their CBT and TLDP emphasis and how I want to explore additional theories to further strengthen my theoretical orientation.

Site 9 – On-Site Interview – VA Medical Center

I have to say I was a bit surprised by this site. It is ~1 hour from Maggie (which is a big selling point with her) and I was happy to stay with her and drive her car to the interview. I liked this site a lot on paper, but I like it even more now that I’ve made a visit. They seem very innovative in their thinking and program structure. They also offer a lot of flexibility and are doing things that no other VAs (to my knowledge) are doing, such as including family therapy as a mandatory part of an intern’s training. I’m very excited about their inpatient and outpatient PTSD programs and the manner in which they are organized. I will get opportunities to work with combat trauma and military sexual trauma and will learn several empirically supported treatments for PTSD. They offer a “come as you are” approach to training in neuropsychology seeking to teach the basics to interns who are new to neuropsychological assessment and preparing interns who are more serious for applying to a neuropsych post-doc. They also have training in, and opportunities to practice, hypnosis. The man who interviewed me also uses EMDR and is very interested in ACT and mindfulness, both of which are areas of current study for me. Overall, I’m pretty excited about this site.

Pros: Strong PTSD program, neuropsych and hypnosis training, and emphasis on group therapy. The staff were very welcoming and eager to provide a great experience for the interns. They even asked for feedback from us about the interview process. Cost of living is pretty good and, of course, it is near Maggie πŸ˜‰

Cons: There is no peer supervision at this site and the opportunities for Rorschach are few given the time commitment to administering/scoring/interpreting/etc (which I completely understand, though I’m going to be a lot faster after this dissertation is done).

Best question asked of me: How would your friends describe you and how would you describe yourself?

So that’s that. I have one more phone interview on Friday and then I rank. I’m not gonna post my rank list here for obvious reasons, but I will keep you posted on how things turn out. Match Day is February 25th, so I’ll definitely post something about that.

Travel Highlights:

  • Flights canceled: 2
  • Flights delayed: 3
  • Total layover time: 8+hours
  • Airports visited: 5
  • Cars rented: 1
  • Hotel stays: 1
  • Days with Maggie: ~4.5
  • Meals with friends: 3
  • Parties attended: 1
  • I got to stay in a sweet suite in VT for approximately 5 hours (check in to check out)
  • I attended Maggie’s Alexander Technique class, which was a lot of fun
  • I met more of Maggie’s friends at a party/get together
  • I got to drive a couple fun cars
  • I got to hang out with Carl and play video games
  • I got to see snow mounds that were ~7′ tall

That about sums it up. I’ll update on my final interview later and find something else interesting to talk (or complain) about soon.

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Stranded

So, things turned out about as I had expected. Given the snowfall in New England, my flights have been delayed and/or canceled. I was originally to fly from Louisville to Laguardia at 12:30. That got pushed back to 1:30, then 2:00, then 3:00. Thankfully they found me a different city to travel to first, since NY was just a connecting flight anyway. Sadly, that has lead to my current situation.

I have been stranded in the Philly airport since ~3:00. My 4:00 flight was canceled and I was able to get put on standby for the 6:15 flight…I am 13/15 on the list, but that was 2 hours ago. So, I opted to book passage on the next flight…at 9:00. I know I have a seat on that one and I am still on standby for the 6:15 flight.

So, the 6:15 plane arrives at 5:30 but the crew for that flight won’t arrive until ~8:30.

I didn’t stutter.

I have a feeling enough people have gotten fed up with the 6:15 flight that I’m now higher on the standby list, so that’s good news. The main difference at this point is whether I arrive in Manchester, NH at 10:15 or 10:30.

It gets better.

From Manchester, I still have to drive ~90 minutes north to my hotel, putting me there as early as 11:45. But let’s be realistic. I’m sure there will be additional delays for whatever reason. And that 90 minute drive? That’s in the snowstorm that is the culprit for all of my delays/cancellations today.

I have a feeling I’m not going to get much sleep tonight. My interview is at 7:45am. I still have to shower, study, and relax when I get to the hotel. All of those things take time. Here’s hoping the hot tub is all hours πŸ™‚

So that’s the update for people who have been following along on Facebook. I have 2 hours to kill, but I’ve found the internet and it’s free, so that’ll definitely help. I’m thinking I may stream some Netflix or go wild and play Guild Wars. Really. Anything to pass the next 2 hours more quickly.

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