Day 15- Let’s talk about the unfortunate 4 AM club

Day 14 was mired in household chores, literature review (for work) and contemplation. I went to bed early (i.e. 01:00 AM rather than 03:00 AM) and hoped to wake early.

I did wake up earlier than usual today. 06:00 AM is much later than my pre- COVID 04:00AM start, but the past couple of weeks have been “off”. I wanted to have the luxury of not setting an alarm. My natural clock wakes me up at 08:30 AM, always has. And I fight it every darned day of my life, by trying to kick myself out of bed at a god- awful hour such at 04:00 AM. It is the bane of my existence, but I must endure it if I harbour any hopes of having a productive day.

I am often asked how I accomplish this seeming impossible task. To go against the grain of my most basic nature. The easiest answer would be – make it a habit. Of course it is easier said than done. Even after all these years of waking early, any number of factors can throw my morning routine off. A late night, a sick child, rainy or cold mornings, spousal discouragement, a presentation to prepare, travel or just pure fatigue. And deviating from the habit for even a couple of days can make it much harder to get back on track.

I have always kept my phone away from the bedside. Not particularly due to fears of radiation exposure, no; when the alarm rings I want it to be far enough to make me get out of bed. ( For the chronic snoozers of alarms -try one of these https://alar.my or Alarm Clock for Heavy Sleepers. There are several similar apps out there.)

Getting up and brushing your teeth is step 1 to winning the sleep battle. Second is not going back to bed after your morning cuppa. For that I have gotten into the habit of changing into my workout gear as soon as possible. There have been days when I have woken up too early, taken a cup of tea to the couch and fallen asleep there. But I am yet to fall asleep so in my workout attire.

Minimising the number of steps I need to take to get to this point is critical. Therefore, my clothes and bag are laid out the previous night. This seems to help. And once I’m out of the door, there is no looking back of course. So that is all. My secret. I don’t think of it as a long sequence for the day. The aim when hitting the sack at night is singular. Get my arse of bed and into the loo. Period. The rest then falls into place from there on.

Getting home after training in the morning. Getting ready (almost) before the kids wake up. Prep the progeny for school. Get to work. Yada yada yada. The rest of the day is self- scheduled. And falling asleep as early as possible at night is also taken care of. Many nights, I end up passing out mid sentence during story time. I’m that knackered. All that sevofluorane exposure in the OR must also help.

Like I mentioned before, I despise this 4 AM business. I do it out of compulsion. Compulsion to training. And on days that I’m truly miserable, I give in. I sleep. And on other days I thank heavens that the days when the alarm rang at 03:00 AM or even 02:45 AM (residency +3 yr old + 3 months old+ pumping + pre- rounds )are behind me!

 

Till next time,

J

Day 11- Better days

Heard this just I opened the page to type.

 

I am happy for the life I have lived thus far. I’ve not had less, nor more. Just enough, of everything; laughter, joy, pain, love, gauntlets, triumphs. Do I regret my choices? If I’m being honest, no. Could I have done things differently? I do not think so. Is my current actuality less than satisfactory? Considering the default human condition, it is absolutely stellar. Do I wish for better? Unfortunately, my humaness warrants that I do.

Till next time,

J

P.S. This is a car song without a doubt (wait…for the beat to kick in). In hope of my next rainy, road trip, once all this is over, I bid good night. Stay safe folks!

 

Life and lifting

I. AM. OBSESSED.

Before we get into the specifics, read about my physical pursuits here and here or just click on the Runday Monday link above.

I have been seriously “lifting” since my second born was about 14 weeks. 8 months and counting now.

The sheer physicality of moving heavy things around never appealed to me before. I am unsure of the reasons, just as I am unsure of how I got into weights. I did not meet anyone who inspired me to do it, nor did I read about it. Maternity leave, and then going back to work at 11 weeks post- partum, with no real help on hand hit me hard. The guilt of leaving the young one, not having enough time for the first- born and the stress of catching up at work almost drove me to despair.

I needed a way to clear my head occasionally, and for me the only way to do that is to sweat it out. Once upon a time, running helped me do that. But now, driving halfway across town to find a half- decent place to run seems ludicrous.

I headed to the nearby gym/ fitness centre out of sheer desperation. Payed the 3 months’ joining fee, bought ONE new sports top (I did not get my hopes high) and weeded out my old running bottoms from the sad and messy depths of my wardrobe.

One day after work, I pumped in the car and even though every cell of me told me to head home to my babies- I drove  to this gym place.

The timing was crap, and the place was bursting at it’s seams with people who were stuck on moving machines with their phones super- glued to their hands. Every darned cardio machine was taken. It is a ladies- only sort of place, and so the weights section was peaceful and quiet. Again, desperation and the need for some space and quiet drove me to the weights section. And, I WAS HOOKED.

How I looked, did not matter.

I did not yearn for me pre- babies abs.

My squishy mid- section, flabby arms and dimpled legs did not bother me one bit. (Having a baby second time around does that to you. Your bodily changes don’t have the same shock value anymore. You know all about how the female physical being can travel to hell and back.)

I did not care how my hair was or what I wore. I did not mind grunting and making feral noises while I lifted. I cared zero shit as to what the women around me thought or did. At first, I treated the cardio equipment like the plague and stayed far away.

I went whenever I possibly could. I despised the management with all my heart for closing the place on Fridays. I even went in after my 24 hour on call shifts. I went in at 11 PM after putting the little ones to bed. Or sneaked in an afternoon session at around lunch time if I could, knowing that the place will be fairly empty at that time.

I did not have hours on end to spare. So my mantra was simple. Have a plan. Make it quick. Make it count.

Be efficient. Be brutal.

Needless to say, the beginning was not pleasant. Even with my physically active background, my body was shocked. It had not seen or experienced anything like this for it’s three decades of existence. Marathons and day long dance practice is different. And oh yes! I was only three months in after delivering my second child when I started 🙂

Slowly, the changes began to get apparent. The strength gains are addictive. Pushing oneself to the brink of their physical limit and then past it is always an exhilarating experience. A hint of a quad sweep, a trace of the biceps brachii as I pick up the little one and the pins going further down on the weight stack every week- the victories are small but fulfilling. I am not even upset that I cannot find jeans that fit anymore (the quads- glute- waist ratio conundrum ) or that I am packing on the pounds.

For the first time, it ain’t about the looks at all. It is about the me time, the strength gains. The mental emptiness as the physical self is being tortured into submission. The sore bottoms that remind you of the good times you had the previous day every time you sit. The achy back as your try to find a comfortable stance in the OR. The joy of feeling in control of at least one thing in your life. Of people commenting on how you stand different, walk different- seem different.

The high of the so called “beginner gains” is hard to explain.

I have no idea how long this will last. I hope to have stumbled upon a life- long passion but I don’t care either way. I am not aiming to compete in bodybuilding shows or becoming a powerlifter. Heck, I am not entirely sure when I can make it to the gym today. All I know is that currently I am being sucked into the vortex of protein shakes, pre- workout, foam- rolling and workout splits. That currently the only clothes that I own (that fit me) are my pyjamas, scrubs and workout apparel.

In fact my wardrobe is a fair indication of my life currently- family, work and the gym.

Till next time.

J.

The Ladies Lounge- Precious great hair days.

Hella Ladies,

This might seem a shallow, trivial post. But as someone who has dry, finicky, extremely fine, curly hair with a sebaceous scalp; great hair days are few and far between. To add to my woes, I invariably end up living in either a humid place, or one that sees too much rain.

I have abused my hair in every manner possible. Chemical treatments, heat styling, coloring and just general, overall lack of care. I am never too keen on oiling my hair, nor can I bothered with DIY or even store bought hair treatments and masks. They deserve so much love and affection than they actually receive from their owner.

I work out most days, and I work at hospitals. So I end up shampooing and washing my hair about twice a day everyday. I am not sure if that does any damage.

Post- Zoe, I had neither time nor motivation to bother with hair “upkeep”, so I chopped it off. More than a foot of it!

So why am I ranting about my hair today you ask?

Because I know how women like me struggle with their hair everyday. And recently I stumbled upon a couple of products which have been working great on my hair- I’d like to share them with you folks.

If you like fuss- free hair care. Or if you are someone who shampooes her hair more than once day, or is really, really strapped for time; then these are for you my friend.

They are not insanely priced or overtly advertised. Of course they might not work for you, but the shampoo seems gentle on my hair and conditioner has just enough “weight” to tame my sometimes unruly, sometimes gorgeous locks.

Try them if you will… 🙂

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Need to use a little more product than your usual "adult" version. Does lather, but does not foam.
Need to use a little more product than your usual “adult” version. Does lather, but does not foam. No fragrance to speak of. And does not strip your hair dry. Might not be great shampoo for someone who does not wash their hair everyday, or if your hair really “needs a wash”.
If I can be bothered, I use this on the ends after rinsing the shampoo off. Complements the shampoo, does not weigh- down fine hair and makes curls less frizz prone and more manageable. Beachy, summery curls ensue...
If I can be bothered, I use this on the ends after rinsing the shampoo off. Complements the shampoo, does not weigh- down fine hair and makes curls less frizz prone and more manageable. Beachy, summery curls ensue…

Till next time..

Dr J.

P.S. My hair DOES look exactly like the cover picture!

Runday Monday- Confessions of a postpartum runner.

Her eyes keep drifting back to the clock. It’s has been a long day. Work, home, work, home. All she wants to do is pass out on her bed. But it’s playtime. She is playing fetch with The Little One. 

She feels restless and anxious. Irritable. Maybe a run would help. She mulls over going out for a run- at 7 pm. She is torn; between staying home and chillin’ with her little one and dragging herself up, putting on her running gear and hitting the road. The clock’s ticking by, not waiting around for her to make her decision. And the later it gets, the more unlikely the run becomes.

It’s 7:30 pm by the time she hits the track. The stark floodlights and the crowded track irks her. She tries to tune them out. She plugs into some high bpm music and starts warming up. Her body ain’t so responsive anymore. It seems to take longer to warm up. The muscles don’t feel so supple, the joints seem creaky. 

Fifteen minutes into the run, and she still hasn’t found her groove. She should be in cruise mode by now, but her lungs seem tired, huffy. Her breath is choppy and there is no economy in her breathing. She is slouchy and her muscles don’t fire the way they usually do. 

It has been this way for a while now. Ten months on, and things are yet to go back to how they were before. She had deluded herself into thinking that things would be “normal” in about six weeks of training/ running. It is 6 months now, since the day she put on her trainers again (a year and a baby after her last run). For the first few weeks, her pelvis seemed wonky. Then her calves started to spasm. The knees soon commenced their protests. And beyond all this, there seemed to be something else…. things just did not seem right.

Half an hour into the run, and she can barely go on. Maybe she is coming down with a fever. Or maybe she is too tired. Her throat seems parched and breathing through her mouth doesn’t help matters. She repeatedly licks her lips, swallows and tries to take deep, conscious breaths. She soldiers on. Her body protests, but she keeps pounding the track.

Out of  nowhere Nausea creeps up on her. It builds up slowly. And then it hits her with full force. She stops, gasping for breath and trying to keep the contents of her stomach from hurling onto the ground.

As the nausea dullens it’s intensity, dizziness takes over. Nausea is a sensation that she is well versed with. She did her Masters in Nauseous Sciences during her pregnancy, but feeling dizzy or faint is an entirely novel feeling. She sits down, and gets her head between her knees and breathes hard. In and out. In and out.  

It takes a good fifteen minutes before she can get up by herself and make the long trip home. Tired and thoughtful, she searches within for answers. A 30 minute jog inducing nausea and giddyness? Where have things come to? And this has been happening often. Every time she wants to crank things up, or push herself, her body refuses to cooperate. Her young, healthy, fit body feels alien to her now.

And then, a fleeting, seemingly disconnected thought/ memory floats up to the surface of her consciousness. A few days ago, while applyin kohl to the rims of her eyes, she remembers noticing how pale they looked.

Anaemic?

It finally dawns on her. Damn. The tiredness. The huffing. The inefficient oxygen carrying capacity of her blood. And the utter carelessness during and after her pregnancy when it came to iron supplements. But her Hb levels were always more than good. Did she lose a lot of blood during childbirth? That should have corrected itself by now… Or have her eating habits deteriorated? Is it the nursing? Is she really anaemic?


 

Hella folks!

I have a confession to make.

I ain’t worthy to be called a “runner” anymore. There, I have said it out aloud.

It has been a struggle, these last few months. Paucity of time. Lack of energy. Deficient motivation. Precedence of sleep. A lot of things have contributed to me becoming an insincere runner. Add to that my recent “episodes of giddyness” and troublesome knees and I am nothing more than an exalted “walker” now. Yes. It is painful to admit, but ’tis the truth folks. I still have my good run- days, but they are few and far between. Warming up takes forever, and cool down never seems sufficient. The fluidity and economy of motion are conspicuous by their absence. Dare I say, running isn’t so much “fun” anymore.

I wonder, is this permanent?

I need to re-discover my love for running. Before that, I need to sort my health. Eat better, get my hemoglobin levels checked, maybe even start taking some supplements. I have so many roles to play at the moment that I often put myself and my health to the back-burner. That has to change. An unhealthy mother is a useless mother. A tired, irritable wife is a bane. A physically unfit, weak- in- body surgeon/ fellow will never produce her best work in the OR or be up to the daily challenges of a gruelling workday. An ill daughter is of no help to ageing parents. So yes, a few things have to change. In my head and inside my body.

A sizeable chunk of the readers here are new mamas, or soon-to-be mamas (going by the popularity of the “Qatar birthing” and the Ma Wednesday posts). I hope you ladies take some lessons from my tales and make changes in your lives too. It is that time in our lives when we are so busy that we may sometimes completely neglect ourselves and our health. Health is often taken for granted, but ill health is something that can ruin the most precious moments of our lives and make everything seem dreadful and meaningless. Hope none of us have to tread that path.

I hope to regain my love for running and feel good about my level of fitness again. I know it will not be easy from now on, with so much on my plate these days. But I shall honestly try. You should too!

 

Till next time..

Dr J.

Shopping Saturday- Unhinged January sales and shopper’s high!

Hooray!!

Dr J is a little high folks. Apologies, on her behalf.

She is drunk on consumerism. Intoxicated with retail therapy.

Does anybody around here know the sheer, infrangible pleasure of giving into your vice? Of letting go?

Like growing out your hair long and strong. Of conditioning and oiling it. Nurturing it. And then going to the fanciest salon in town and getting an ultra- short bob.

Of being on a zero- carb, no- sugar, no fat diet for eons and then indulging in fat laden burgers and carb- loaded pastries and other goodies.

Of feeling free and unrestrained. Of knowing it may lead to later regret and ruefulness and yet going ahead nevertheless?

Well, the Doc recently had one such day.

A shopaholic with a full wallet, during January sales; is like a recovering drug addict stumbling into a crack house (sorry for the crass analogy :-))

Dare I say, things got a bit out of hand…

Sharing "some" (ahem!) o the spoils.
Sharing “some” (ahem!) of the spoils.

 

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Shush! Not a word to Mr H.

 

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Dr J’s kind of  heaven. When will Doha have such book stores and sales? Sigh!

 

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Tried and tested loves!

 

 

Well, well. No harm done folks. It is all part of a grand plan. Almost every item belonged to a well thought- out, exalted, master- list. 🙂 Many were lusted after for long. Many were tried and tested re- purchases. Some obviously were impulse buys.

Anyhoo, after some rotten days; the good doctor was in dire need of some retail therapy.

Hopefully loads of reviews coming up ladies. J has vowed to venture into more product reviews and tangible posts, rather than the excess of dark, pseudo- philosophical mumbo- jumbo that her alter ego has been spouting these past few days.

Soon then.

Till next time.

Dr J’s sane, sober self.

 

* Kindly Note- Some items/ purchases/ pictures cannot be shared here at this moment- for domestic peace and harmony purposes. Also, no husbands were harmed in the process of this act and in the making of this blog post. No banks were broken either. 😉

 

I never missed the city lights!

My parent’s hail from this beautiful town, dotted with coconut palms and stuffed with wild shrubs and trees.Lined by the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats, it’s picturesque and like my friends say almost “resort- like”. True. But what I love about my hometown is the amalgamated seamless co-existence of the old and new. Of technology and nature. Of mud roads and fancy cars. Of air conditioners and open fire cooking. Of fresh, local fish and tinned condiments. It’s not awkward or weird. It’s sustainable, “best-of-all-worlds” sort of life.

For four days, I woke to chirping birds and went to bed with a cacophony of insect sounds as white noise. Mum picked fresh curry leaves from the backyard to garnish the curries. We had country eggs for breakfast and fresh, non–stinky fish for dinner. From peppercorn to bananas, we ate what we grew.

I still had air- conditioning, water heaters, satellite television, internet, 3G mobile network, cars to take me places….

I was surrounded by nosy but endearing cousins. Gossipy but well- meaning aunts. Hardworking uncles who also know how to have a good time. The concept of privacy and “me time” was alien. I like having my space and time, yet here I was; loving every minute of every intrusion. I guess it was the novelty of the whole experience.

I always thought of myself as a big- city girl. I loved the fast- paced lifestyle, the sights, the sounds and the city lights. Now the pace is tiring and uninspiring. The sounds are jarring and the lights too harsh.

Is it age? An actual desire for change? Or is it a case of the “grass always being greener on the other side”?

Not sure. But there is a small part of me which craves the simple life.

Suddenly, my city accent and language seems lame and phoney. All the technology makes me feel anti- social and I do not seem to know how to make small talk and mingle with family who I have not met for a while. My clothes seem funny and garish and my high- heels are downright impractical and foolish on the wobbly, mud and gravel paths. My female relatives stare at me with a mixture of awe, curiosity, amusement and incredulity. The male relatives probably think I’m cuckoo. Especially the ultra- conservative ones.

I belong to the “cross- over generation”. Plagued with incessant, dramatic changes, we seem to be caught between two- worlds. Lil’ Z will probably have no such problems. For her, the distinction between old and new will be more marked. She will grow up in the “new world”, unlike us who grew up int he “old world” but as adults are stuck in the “new world”. We will forever be confused and undecided. We will always pine for simpler days but will never be able to give up the present either. Stuck. In limbo.

I am not entirely sure what what I want from life. I never have been one with clear aspirations and defined paths. I sort of go with the flow and meander along. I am forever fickle and perennially undecided. But I do know one thing, I never missed the city or the city- lights; even for a moment, during the last four days. A part of me did not even want to come back.

Here’s my hometown folks, through the lens of my Lumia 1520….

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I have walked this path, this very path- as a barefoot and carefree toddler, about quarter of a century ago.
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In stark contrast to a place like Qatar, greenery pours forth from every surface. Unlike Qatar, workers are paid to get rid of unwanted weeds and shrubbery! 
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This one is hundreds of years’ old I’m told.
A private car-park! How different from the dingy, stingy basement lots.
A private car-park! How different from the dingy, stinky basement lots.
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These are not walkways, even cars pass through.
Pepper, bananas, coconuts, cashews, herbs, tomatoes, mangoes, drumstick, chillies, fire-wood....
Pepper, bananas, coconuts, cashews, herbs, tomatoes, mangoes, drumstick, chillies, fire-wood….
Even chickens...
Even chickens…

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I have no idea what these flowers are called. They just grow. As nature’s gifts to man who let her be; for once!

Till next time…

Dr J.