What next?

I started learning some new ‘things’ while finishing my postgrad studies. It’s a very strange feeling when you’re finished with something that has been taking up all of your time and energy: like there’s something missing from my life and I’m forgetting something, but can’t quite remember what it is. It’s strange finally having more free time, and not having the same thing on your mind for years. It’s like I came out of the dark and I forgot what the outside world looks and feel like. There is future to look forward to. Only I am not the same person any more. Years went by, good and bad things happened.

Yet again I find myself between two stages in life: after the studies and before a new career path. Last time I rushed into something and not listened to my instincts. This time I wanted to take time and research my options more thoroughly and carefully and also take other skills, talents and personal preferences into consideration. I’ll share my experience with you in this post. I hope you find it helpful.

There are a lot of questions to ask and answer when considering a new career path. This is called self-assessment. It enables you to gather information about yourself and put the puzzle pieces together. It is essential that you are completely honest and opened with yourself when answering these questions, so you get the maximum out of self-assessment exercise and can be well informed to find the career path most appropriate for you. I highly recommend getting help and advice from a careers adviser/ counsellor if that’s at all possible. In the UK, universities and colleges offer this service during your education and for a limited time period after graduation or completion of your course, or you can inquire at your county council – local library. I don’t know if things have changed on the Balkans.

Below are some of the questions you need to answer. Some of them are more general, and some more individual.

How do you decide where to go and what to do next (career wise)?

How much do you know about yourself and what more do you need to find out? (Who you were ‘then’ vs who you are now? When I say ‘then’, I mean before you wanted to change career paths, when you were starting your previous job, studies, etc. What made you want to change your career path?

Did you choose your current career path because your first choice seemed impossible at the time? How do you remember and remind yourself what you liked, what were your talents long ago and what are they now? Do they differ and if they do, how/ in what? Have you changed fundamentally, or have you remained the same at the core?

Which values and beliefs are important to you (value inventory)? What do you want out of life and career/ job? What are your priorities? Are you a people’s person or not? Do you like collaboration? What keeps you interested/ ‘out of mischief’/ challenged? Do you like a challenge?  If you are the type who gets bored quickly/ within 3-6 months, you might like a job/career employing different sets of your skills and abilities.

What motivates and drives you, what are your needs and attitudes (personality inventory)? What makes you happy? What do you enjoy? What’s important to you?

Which activities do you like and dislike and why (interest inventory)? What are your hobbies, what do you like to do in your free time?

Where do your talents lie (aptitude inventory)? What do you find easy to do? But, importantly, do you also enjoy using your talents? For example: if you are very talented at learning languages, but you don’t enjoy doing it, then you should take that into consideration. What are your skills? How do you join/ combine the two satisfactorily? It is important to distinguish between enjoying research and enjoying learning!

Think of your dream job and does such a job/career exist? If there isn’t, is there a gap in the market for it? Or do you want/need a longer career break?

Where are you willing to compromise, if you are willing to compromise? How much do you need to earn/ how little can you afford to earn?

Do you need to move for any reason (lack of funds, contract running out, studies finished, going back to live with your parents for a while)? It is easier to move to another city / country/ continent if you are by yourself (single and don’t have any dependents – children) if necessary. This move also depends on the knowledge of other foreign language(s).

Changing careers is not an easy thing to do. Support from your friends and family is priceless if you have it. But even if you don’t, stay true to yourself, talk to other people in a similar position and research potential career paths. It’s your life, do what makes you happy.

Have you ever changed careers or know someone who is trying? Do you have any questions or comments about your or friend’s experience? Feel free to share them here.

Food for Thought

Like many people, I have a few extra kilos. Between 2010 and 2012, I ‘collected’ some more and reached about 70kg. And I’m a fairly small person (163 cm). So I could really feel gravity at work, pulling my stomach, bottom and lower back towards the ground. Of course the extra kilos don’t ever go where I would want them to – on my boobs. I had a bit of a backache (lower back) and my shoulders were slouching. I looked pregnant and definitely wasn’t.

In fact, in 2011, while on holiday, I met a lovely and friendly hotel maid – a Serbian lady working far from home to provide for her family. We chatted nicely on a few occasions. She once congratulated me and asked when I was due. As in: when do I expect my baby to be born… So I smiled widely from ear to ear, waved my hand and just said: “Oh, I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat!” She was embarrassed, but I really wasn’t offended and thought it was really hilarious. We had a good laugh together at my expense. You mustn’t take yourself too seriously. Trust us Balkans to think something and come right out and say it! *laughs loudly and snorts by accident* They do it in a more subtle way in the UK, but that was one priceless moment I will treasure forever. I was giggling for the rest of the day. (This really DID happen.)

But, all jokes aside / šalu na stranu. My wardrobe was half full of clothes I couldn’t fit into (not past my thighs, anyway), and the other half was filled with clothes I was nearly bursting out of (my intestines and stomach felt awkwardly displaced). So, you can imagine the hubby’s reply to I need some more clothes: “But you have sooooooo much to wear!!!” And I was looking only at my face in the mirror.

I still kept thinking about my Dad (died in 2010). And my uncle, his non-identical twin died (2005). And pancreatic cancers that killed them before time. And how excessive weight around my vital organs isn’t helping my prospects….

1961 Michelin Guide to France

1961 Michelin Guide to France

Walking up the stairs, felt like climbing the north face of the Eiger. I had to stop halfway up and have a rest. I was out of breath. I was tired and sluggish for various reasons, but my extra Michelin tyres didn’t help. I kept saying that I really want to lose some weight and get fit and healthy. And no fad dieting. I had to do it right. I knew I had to be in it for the long haul. Not like very familiar words of somebody I know well: “Od sutra sam na dijeti (I’m on a diet from tomorrow)!” I used to hear that often in my childhood.

All of you know that diet is serious stuff. And I don’t mean the fad (a few weeks/months) diets that don’t really solve anything and can even make things worse. Food we put into our mouths affects so many things, starting from our digestion, immunity, mood changes (friendly, with unpredictable doses of ‘THE BITCH has arrived!!!!’), hair, skin and nails, concentration, body odour… I could go on forever…. It’s about my life and my lifestyle, not a fashion trend of size zero and heroin chic.

And it all starts in the head. With your brain and thought processes. Because, if you want a change to be permanent and transform your life, you have to come up with a really god strategy that works for you. You have to know yourself, your faults and your strengths, your habits, emotions, reasoning and above all you have to be honest with yourself. You have to love yourself and forgive yourself, because you’re only human.Why we eat

Over the years I’ve watched a lot of health programmes on telly, something that probably help me gain my tyres in the first place! But it’s not as simple as that, as I was reminded of a few years ago in a lecture from the ‘obesity clinic people’ in Cambridge <a href="http://www.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html" onclick="__gaTracker('send', 'event', 'outbound-article', 'http://www find out this here.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html’, ‘http://www.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html’);”>http://www.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html

I talked to somebody from where I used to work who went on a diet and lost a lot of weight and looked fantastic. I also talked to another lady who had a surgery done (a gastric bypass, I think). And then I talked to my stepmother-in-law. About all this. And more.

So I took a lot of thoughts from these programmes, and people I knew and started going way back with my food issues. Memories. Feelings. Habits. Adopted and inherited, consciously or subconsciously. I wanted to get to the bottom of my problem and work out a strategy for myself, to change things effectively and change my lifestyle permanently. To be healthier and happier, and hopefully live longer.

 

How and where we eatI asked myself:

  • When and why do I eat? When I’m hungry, thirsty, sad and depressed or bored? Sometimes I feel like I’m hungry, but I’m actually thirsty, so when I have a drink, the hunger feeling goes away.
  • What do I eat on these occasions? Good and healthy stuff or any shit I can get my hands on, like: crisps, chocolates, biscuits and such ‘delicacies’?
  • How do I feel before and while I’m eating? Am I stressed, angry or doing something I shouldn’t be focusing on (like eating at my desk while working on the computer)? How did I feel after I ate? Satisfied for a second and then wanting to binge of my favourite junk? Or do I feel happily full and my appetite sated? What was the benefit of that meal? Comfort, ‘inside hug’ or acquiring nutrients? How long does the ‘happy feeling’ inside me last?
  • How do I eat? Chew slowly and enjoy every mouthful or gobble it up because I’m in a hurry or I do I just eat fast for no reason? Are all my senses employed and enjoying the eating experience?
  • Do I snack and when? Am I keeping it a secret?
  • How varied or boring is my menu? Eating the same stuff during each season?
  • Where do I shop? Supermarkets, markets, health food shops or a bit of everything? (Of course this depends on budget and the availability of shops and foods.)
  • Am I hungry or not when I’m food shopping? I tend to choose a lot of meaty and fishy things if I’m shopping hungry!
  • What are my eating patterns? Do I eat regularly or do I not eat (because I don’t feel like it, for whatever psychological reason) and then binge on something (usually some sugar/salt/ butter loaded junk mentioned above)?
  • What is my food history?
    • And my role models – good and bad? For cooking and eating.
    • What are my memories and earliest experiences? Of certain foods and meals and the atmosphere while eating? Is an unpleasant feeling or memory causing me to avoid some foods or eat only certain types of food and nothing else?
    • What are my traumatic food experiences? Yes, I have those, too.
  • And let’s not forget the all important bowel movement! How often, how much, shape, colour and consistency. I’m not joking. *shrugs shoulders / slegne ramenima and smiles apologetically*
  • And since I mentioned the bowel movement, I shouldn’t leave out the kidneys, either. Am I hydrating myself = drinking enough? Or is my urine concentrated, because the water needs to reabsorb back into the body? (Kidneys are your filters, so make it easy on them and drink enough!)
  • What do I drink and how much? Water, juices (home-made or bought), coca-cola, tea (with or without sugar/honey), fizzy drinks?
  • And how much alcohol you drink and how? Binging some days? (I rarely drink alcohol, so I nearly forgot about that one).
  • What do I buy to eat? Ready meals, tinned food or raw and fresh or frozen ingredients? Or a combination of those?
  • How do I prepare my food? Steam, fry, deep-fry or overcook it until it’s all dead? How much time do I have to prepare it, if any?
  • When and where do I eat breakfast – the most important meal of the day?

What and when we snackWhat we buy and how we prepare it

Answers to the above questions provided me with a wealth of information. I knew what I was dealing with, how I needed to tackle it and approach my lifestyle change and what I needed to change.

If you remember at the start of the post, I said 2012. It’s now 2014 and I’m still at it. I was in a really bad place and shape when I started my lifestyle change. But I didn’t expect miracles. It’s been a long road to recovery. I had my moments of frustration and impatience, but I persisted. I hope your journey and your changes go well. And remember to take small steps. Know your goals. Don’t start your journey with a run and stop halfway through. Be patient. Take your time, making GRADUAL changes, allowing you body to adjust. You will get there eventually. Love your body, the temple of your soul and it will reward you.

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