It’s been too long since my last post, and there have been several crazy reasons why. Over recent weeks I’ve had an influx of ‘Silly Season’ – a raft of changes and upsets to my healthy mission. For the first time, one of these has left my physically unable to attend class and weigh in. They say that bad luck comes in threes – not so much bad luck, but mixed luck.
I finally got a ‘proper’ job – i.e one pertaining to my qualifications and something that involves what I love most – animals. I’m now part of a team that goes around dairy farms sampling milk which is tested for disease monitoring purposes, bacteria levels and yield volumes. This suits me perfectly, as I love being out and about (a throwback to my sales rep years), talking to farmers as well as satisfying my scientific curiosities and meeting some lovely animals. To date my favourites are a sheepdog with a lazy eye, a cheeky escapee piglet and a rather stubborn and greedy Jersey cow.
Traditional vs. Industrial
Perfect job, right? Well…..like anything, it has its’ downside. And it’s a biggie. The hours are the most anti-social EVER. The first thought is that of a traditional dairy farmer – you need to be up early. Correct. Just how early is another matter. In addition, two samples need to be taken – an evening and a morning. So ‘old fashioned’ farms require a visit at night then you are up again to sample first thing. My earliest start is 3:30 am.
It’s not these charming little traditional farms that cause the issue however. If all were like that, your body clock would eventually adjust, and in my case so would my eating patterns. Not so.
Take a moment to think of the milk aisle in your supermarket. Think of how many cartons of milk there are. Not one type – LOTS of varieties – skimmed, gold, 1%, whole milk, cream etc. That’s a lot of milk. Dairy farms now reflect this, and some operate more like factories than farms. Your average ‘traditional’ farm will milk anywhere between 50-200 cows twice a day, but the masses and masses of milk that we buy in supermarkets (particularly skimmed/1% milk) is mostly generated by large dairy units (how very impersonal) milking 500-1200 cows up to three times a day. This obviously takes time, with many herds finishing one milking and being ready to start again almost immediately. The health/welfare implications of this can be discussed elsewhere, but my point is milking times.
I recently visited one of said ‘units’ working on an old-fashioned system (most big dairies have a rotary parlour that works like a carousel) for a night milking. 900 cows starting at 7pm. I had to drive 90 mins each way, so missed dinner-time, but went well-armed with soup etc for later. This parlour was an experience. Very little room, very warm (unusual) and no breaks. At all. I managed to get ahead at one point to give myself time to go to the toilet. I finally peeled my waterproofs off at 2:15 am, and got in the shower at home sometime after 4 am.
It’s stints like these that screw everything up, because they are thrown in at random (no-one in their right mind has that as a regular farm, so everyone takes turns for the night milking) and it’s not like working an 8-hour shift in a normal job. Once you start, you can’t stop, no breaks, and you are constantly working with numbers. Plus, in that particular parlour, you have to go up and down slippy step ladders to reach the collection bottles. I struggled to sleep when I got home that night, and was awake, bright as a button at 8am,which is a moderate lie-in for me under normal circumstances.This type of irregular work/sleep pattern has thrown exercise and eating habits into complete disarray, creating a vicious cycle of being too tired to exercise and craving stodgy warm food after being cold and tired.
Adding Injury to Insult
Upon taking this job, I had a transition period of three weeks where I was still working at the shop. So on top of crazy hours, in between I was either starting at 5:30am or finishing at 10pm. Also not conducive to attending class. Or getting any sleep.
During this transition, I had a bit of bother with one of only two fillings I have in my mouth – one had split and half of it had fallen out. I spent a few nights rinsing with salt water, unable to sleep. My dentist patched it during an emergency appointment to get me through the next few weeks until my ‘proper’ appointment. Within a week I had a full-on hamster cheek, and the pain was making my head throb. Bending down or lifting anything was out of the question. The smell was horrific and I knew then I had a mega-infection. Back to the dentist in between work.
I was offered root canal or extraction, the former being expensive and not guaranteeing success. I opted to haul it out – I’d had nothing but bother since the day and hour I’d had it filled the first time, and was feeling considerably rubbish. The extraction itself was pretty traumatic, I take a lot of anaesthetic, and even then I still feel stuff (apparently this has to do with the density of the jawbone) and this time was no exception. The tooth itself was knackered, and no amount of root canal would have saved it. (Phew! – Right choice.)
I was warned that I’d probably feel rough for a few days after due to the abscess and was told not to exercise heavily. As soon as the extraction pain disappeared a couple of days later, I felt a million times better. I went for a run. Big mistake. The throbbing started within minutes and I ended up turning round and walking home. The next day I had a sore throat, cough, and felt as if someone had stuffed my airways with cement. Mixed in with the crazy body-clock stuff, I developed two cold sores -a sure sign I was run-down. This is always my bodies’ way of telling me to slow down.
Here We Go Again
I’m now fully recovered and have finished my job at the shop (thank goodness!) and can start again building my habits. I’m very thankful that everything else in my life is pretty stable, otherwise things could have been disastrous (see posts from April) This is probably the last major aspect of my life to change that affects the way I eat and live, so now I can get on.
I’m sort-of ready to tackle the work/eating/exercise pattern now after giving it a bit of thought, and this ties in nicely with actually being able to attend weigh-in this week. I’m going to compartmentalize; the days I’m not working I’m going to keep as normal as possible. Get out for a run, track my points. The days I am at work, I’m just going to go with the flow and see where it takes me. My only rule here is not to stop at shops on the way to/from farms- as I’ve said before, sandwiches are a mega-weakness and can easily blow your daily allowance. Eating from home makes it easier to track. Hopefully after a few more weeks and getting some regular farms, I can start to plan round work because I’ll know what’s coming.
So, here’s to a fresh start on Thursday after weigh-in, as I’m pretty sure Walter’s been having a party behind my back…….