One of my bigger mistakes was setting aside things like eating right and working out regularly while I worked on my dissertation.  I am INCREDIBLY lucky that at 45, despite being fat all my life (size 22), my cholesterol has been good, my blood sugar normal, my resting heart rate is very low (55-60), I breathe 2 times to my husband’s 3 breaths, and my blood pressure is normal.  I had blood drawn earlier this week and those things are still the case; normal thyroid, blood sugar, cholesterol, iron, and all that good stuff.

During the course of writing my dissertation, however, I put back the 60 lbs I had previously lost.  I had kept the weight off for 2 years before starting the dissertation but now am right back where I was before.  So I get to diet again until I lose that weight.  It was hard enough the first time.

I took my cruiser bike out on sunday for the first time in ages.  No pressure, not a speed thing, just ride for 30 minutes.  Cardio-wise, that was no problem.  But my legs started to burn before I got out of my cul-de-sac (It’s only 3 houses long).  The road bike (on which I used to go for 2 hour rides for fun, and maxed out at 5 hours) is staying in the garage for at least a couple of weeks until I can make it a bit further before the burn starts.

Working full-time while working on the dissertation made it very hard for me to keep in perspective the fact that this was a marathon and not a sprint.  I felt rushed to try to get done, and as such kept sacrificing things like exercise, cooking decent food [note: popcorn is not a meal] and paying attention to my weight.  I appear to have dodged a bullet, as the effects are primarily in terms of my clothing size and not my health, but I am likely an exception.

This is a slow, time-consuming process that will take a while.  If you keep up your exercise habits and eat well, it might take a little while longer.  That’s OK.  This is also a stressful process and keeping up your health and fitness will help reduce that stress.  If I could do it again, not only would I not have stopped those things but I would have added yoga to the mix in order to deal with stress.  Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.

(Think about it this way:  if you are concerned about the extra money that additional time in grad school might cost, you can either pay that money to the school or to Old Navy for new clothing as your size changes.  Your choice.  I’m pretty sure it comes out about the same…..)