This month, I started
feeling a real sense of disconnection from my thesis. I spent most of it in
agony. It was quite an ordeal. To be honest, I probably spent more time
worrying about it than actually working on it (physically). You might remember from my
earlier post that I ran into some major issues with statistics. The code that I needed to generate for
my analyses was a complex one and totally new to me. As I don’t have a coding
background, I required support from a statistician and it took over a couple of
weeks (still yet to resolve fully).
The other reason I
haven’t made enough progress was because of my teaching commitments this
semester. While I have really strapped for time since semester has started, I’m
really enjoying my current role and it has been a rewarding experience. However,
I haven’t worked this many hours since I started my PhD so I also felt like I
haven’t had enough time to focus on my thesis. I’m still yet to figure out a
way to balance the two but I’m hopeful that it’ll slowly fall into place!
In other news, I decided not to attend the DAA conference in Gold Coast. The sad part is that I had even purchased tickets a while ago and really wanted to go. But I realised that it would be best not to go with a hanging PhD. It felt a little weird because I‘ve attended and presented at all the DAA conferences since I graduated as a dietitian. It was a tough decision to make but maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t go as I was down with the flu around that time.
Overall, it was a really tough month as I had to deal with numerous
challenges (both personal and professional). Dealing with a single
setback is somewhat manageable but it’s much harder when you’ve got
almost everything going wrong in your life (it may sound like an
exaggeration but it really isn’t all that easy to see light when you’re
stuck in a dark tunnel). Happy to say, I ended August on a happier note-
I recently moved houses and got myself a much-needed haircut. I was
really stuck in a rut, so both changes have been very refreshing for me!
My month started off on a good note as I took off to Fiji to attend a friend’s wedding. I was away for just over a week (blog coming up soon). Towards the end of my holiday, I was ready to come home and smash the rest of my PhD. I knew there would be an awful lot of revisions that would need to be done but I told myself that it was going to be okay. The motto I had in mind was to take it ‘one page at a time’. However, I soon realised the magnitiude of revisions that awaited me was going to be far more than what I had anticipated. I needed to redo parts of my analyses using a different method. As I wasn’t familiar with this method, I needed to start from scratch. I went back to the basics (did all the Googling I could, watched YouTube tutorials and tried to contact others). All of these did help to some extent as I was able to get close to reaching the final numbers. However, I was stuck on the last step and could not work out how to combine the results I had.
This misery phase lasted many days until I was finally able see
a statistician. It turned out that the output I was trying to achieve didn’t
work as SPSS doesn’t allow this function. In other words, SPSS was not
sophisticated enough to perform this step. This meant that I needed to resort
to a different software (SAS, R or Stata). I chose the latter as I had some
exposure in my first year. However, what I didn’t realise was how complex the
code would be. Luckily, I was able to get some help from the statistician but
it still took me a really long time. Safe to say, I’m now somewhat closer to
having a finished code.
Overall, it was a pretty terrible month. I know that I’ve probably had worst months in the past but the present really does seem like the worst. I also had to deal with some personal issues which made it very difficult to make progress. I thought this month was going to be the final leg of my PhD (the ‘writing up’ phase). But the truth is I have done very little writing this month. I haven’t been writing as the stats took the chunk of my time. This means that my draft chapters haven’t been touched for weeks so I’m putting all my hopes on August.
Here are some of my eats from August 🙂 I didn’t do much cooking as I was away for the week and things got crazy after that…
This month has been one hell of a crazy month. I was very
ambitious in setting my goals because I knew I would be taking some time off at
the end of the month. My first task for the month was to finish writing up my
intervention paper. I was hoping to have this ready by the first week of June
but I didn’t get around to finishing until 15th June.
The other big goal I had set for myself was to finish a
draft of all my chapters by 28th June. It seemed like an impossible and
never-ending task. My progress was very slow at the beginning which left me
feeling very anxious. I was getting frustrated and there were times when I felt
very low. After much self-battle, I told myself that I was going to stick to my
original plan and prepare a draft. I knew it would not be the perfect version I
imagined it to be but I just wanted to have something. I was wrong to think
that the finale was going to be a smooth ride as I realised that the end game
is going to be wilder than I imagined!
Happy to say, I managed to print out my draft on 28th June.
I had the longest day ever (finished at 9 pm) but it was such a good feeling to
see it in print. I know that the draft I have produced is far from perfect but
I feel pretty excited knowing that it’s now a step closer to getting better.
Now it’s time for me temporarily switch off as I part ways with my thesis. I’m
off to Fiji to attend my friend’s destination wedding.
Overall, it was a very jam-packed month but I managed to
accomplish all I wanted to before going away. I also had my exit seminar
earlier this month which was a 25 min presentation. Putting together my
presentation made me realise just how far I have come in the last 3.5 years.
The end is so near yet so far! But at least I can now see light at the end of
I can’t believe we are in June. It is literally freaking me out because I am leaving to attend a friend’s destination wedding and had planned to finish all my chapters before the end of this month. I really did hustle hard in May but I’m not sure if it was enough to get me to where I need to be.
May was a pretty crazy but relatively productive month. I finished running my intervention in the first week of May. I had been running this since mid-January so I was really excited to close my intervention and get onto to the next step of analysing. I had made appointments with statisticians to help me guide my data analyses. While it was insightful to see two different statisticians, I also found it overwhelming because they had very different approaches and I needed to work out what would work best in my situation, and I hadn’t done anything similar involving a large data set of this sort. Most tasks have been taking longer than anticipated as some sections needed to be analysed multiple times or in different ways. There were times I felt too overwhelmed as there was simply too much to do! I tried to get around this by writing a clear plan of what needs to be done and changing tasks frequently (when possible) to overcome fatigue associated with data analyses.
In other news, I was away in Hamilton Island for a hens getaway (blog coming up soon) and also attended the 9 to Thrive Summit with Business Chicks. On the whole, May was pretty tedious but was a huge learning curve for me as I discovered new ways of doing things. Unfortunately, most of these were learnt the hard way after spending huge chunks of my time. But it was really useful to learn these techniques and has helped me feel more equipped to tackle similar analyses in the future (if there is a next time) 😛
Here are some of my May eats. Due to Ramadan, most of the photos I took this month were fruit and veggie platters.
My priorities for
this month were to attempt first round analyses of the data that had come in so
far and make big progress with writing. I met with statistician at the start of
April which gave me a rough idea on what I needed to do. It took me a while to
clean up data and work out how to report my outcomes in a table. I realised
that it’s going to be some trial and error before I know what’s going to look
In terms of writing, I finished writing up Chapter 1 which
felt like quite a milestone as I had wanted to get it ready since last
December. I also started formatted two of my other chapters and completed my
intent to submit form.
In other news, I turned 26 this month. I’m so grateful to
everyone who made it special but let’s just say there were some highs and lows even
though I have passed the official quarter life crisis. I also travelled to the
South Coast during the Easter long weekend which involved lots of good food,
beaches and hiking (blog will be up soon). It was really nice to get away and it
definitely helped me feel calmer.
Overall, it was a pretty demanding month. I definitely felt like I had my thinking caps on more than usual. My mind keeps racing and goes places. I am finding it difficult to be in the present. I feel rather overwhelmed but let’s hope that I will be able to pull this through on time *positive vibes*
Here are some of my April eats 🙂 I have started investing a bit more time in the kitchen to cook dishes different to the usual. I am really enjoying it; photographing food brings pure joy to my soul!
Cannot believe we are another month down! With my submission around the corner, I find it really scary that a quarter of the year is gone. In terms of my PhD, I’m still running my intervention and need to collect some more data. I closed recruitment this month which felt like a step closer to completion. I’m really looking forward to the next phase. I’ve started cleaning the data which feels rather tedious. But I know it’s going to get more exciting once I have my data set ready for analyses. The other good news is that the paper I resubmitted last month was accepted for publication. I have been holding onto this paper for the longest time (started data collection in early 2017); so, it felt really nice to get it out of my hands.
In other news, I’m back to teaching again. I’m doing less hours this semester as I wanted to allocate enough time for writing up. Speaking of which, I really need to work towards finishing my first chapter. I’ve been meaning to get it finished for some time now but I’m having trouble tying up my ideas. This is probably because I haven’t had the chance to block out enough time. Going forward, I need to ensure I allocate hours for writing every week.
Another highlight of the month was getting featured in the latest infuse magazine as a rising star. The struggle to keep Shenanigans of a Dietitian alive has been real while doing a full-time PhD. Maintaining my presence on the blog and Instagram hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to take lots of breaks. I’ve had to take lots of breaks every time I felt overwhelmed. So, it was really special to have this recognition from infuse. Click here to read the feature (page 32-34).
Overall, it was a relatively good month. It probably feels somewhat mediocre for me because I was rather ambitious and hoping to get a lot more done (mainly with writing). But it’s alright, we’ve got April to get on top of that!
The start of this month officially marked 3 years
since I started my PhD. This put me in a rather panicky state because it was
scary to process how time just flew. But it was also exciting when I began to
reflect on my achievements in the last 3 years. It was important for me to take
on this reflection as I am often harsh on myself and tend to focus on failures
or things that didn’t work out. This is why I find it beneficial to reflect at
least once a month through writing this series.
In terms of progress with my PhD, my accomplishments
included submitting my paper revisions and recruiting around over 100 people in
my intervention. Earlier this month, I was really excited to be moving closer
to our target. However, I have had major setbacks since then. Towards the end
of January, I submitted an ethics modification which incorporated a new mode of
recruitment. I was really hoping to get better results but unfortunately, it
did not work out for me despite getting approval. It was frustrating because I
had seen others gain success using the same technique. So, I had no other
choice but to resort to existing old-fashioned methods (i.e. putting up
I also worked on another ethics modification (hopefully this will be the last one). I was hoping to submit abstracts to present my results later this year but I am still in the middle of collecting data. I was disappointed in myself for not being able to prepare a submission on time because I have always been successful in the past (the conference deadlines have always pushed me to get my paper ready). However, I was quick to remind myself that everything happens for a reason (I constantly tell myself that when I miss out on opportunities). It’s a bit different now because I am dealing with a much larger data set, and my priorities have changed. My current priorities are to finish running this intervention, write up my final paper and submit my thesis. Speaking of which, I have made some progress with writing but not to the level I was hoping.
news, we went on a rural getaway to celebrate our anniversary (blog coming up
soon). My month ended with a desk move. It was really exciting to be upgrading
after 3 years but also a little sad because my PhD journey is coming to an end.
I cannot believe the first month of the year
has left us already! Time is flying away like crazy. It really scares
me sometimes because I am due to hand in my PhD in a couple of months. I
was away in Bali for the first week of January
(blog coming up soon). Coming back to work was initially overwhelming
but I was also excited to be back. Happy to say, I was able to finally
start my intervention from mid-January. Honestly, it was so surreal
because this is something I have been planning
for the longest time. In fact, the majority of my PhD has been about
planning this intervention. Unfortunately, we are a little behind with
recruitment so I have recently submitted another ethics modification.
So, I’m really hoping that the recruitment situation
will improve when the approval comes through.
In other news, I haven’t been able to do much
writing this month as I was so preoccupied with other tasks. I was doing
major revisions on one of my earlier papers which took me a lot more
time than I anticipated. I had hoped that this
would be finished by mid-January at most. As a result, I have fallen
rather behind with my thesis.
Overall, January was a pretty rough month but I am super positive that things will pick up in February. I didn’t take much food photos this month which is a little sad. This is definitely something that I want to make time for in the coming months. Here are some of my January eats 🙂
Happy New Year! I’m a little late in posting this. December
was a very busy month. I had set myself a very long to-do list which included
all the bits and pieces that I hadn’t finished. I also really wanted to finish
writing chapter one of my thesis to feel a sense of completeness. I had told
myself I’d finish everything by the last working day (21st December) and allow
myself to switch off after this.
Unfortunately, it did not go as I had planned. I did get very close to finishing some tasks but not to the extent I had hoped. This resulted in much anxiety which lasted even after my holidays had started. After a few days, I managed to convince myself that I didn’t need to fret over the things I didn’t get done. It will eventually be done next year. I was able to relax after this and had the best time. We had nothing planned for the first couple of days so it was nice to be doing nothing.
In other news, I finally went on a hike to Wedding Cake Rock after wanting to go for over 4 years. Sadly I was not able to go close as it has been fenced off for safety reasons. Nonetheless, the view was worth it and it was nice to have something ticked off my bucket list. I then travelled to Bali for an end of year holiday (blog coming up soon).
Overall, I just want to end by saying I am so grateful for all the wonderful things that happened in 2018. It has taught me to be more resilient, chase bigger dreams, keep hustling and more importantly, trust the timing of things. If I were to describe the past year in one word, I’d say GRATITUDE. Here’s to a bigger and better 2019.
Gosh, what a month it has been! It started off with my final progress review which really made me realise what a long way I have come over the last three years. I still can’t believe that was my last one and how fast time has flown. I am in my final months of writing up now and it feels like I have been stuck on chapter 1 forever. But I have been told by others that chapter 1 is the most difficult chapter to write but it does get easier as you go on. So, there is hope! For now, I have decided to focus all my energies into writing as it looks like I won’t be starting on the last part of my PhD until early next year.
On a related note, I decided to try out a pair of glasses from Baxter Blue this month. Since I spend a lot of my hours behind the screen, I thought it’d be good to give these glasses a go. These are designed to protect your eyes from the dangers of blue-violet light which can also lead to digital eye strain. These glasses basically help to filter out the harmful blue light while allowing the good blue light in. What is great about the company is that for every pair of Baxter Blue glasses, they donate a pair of reading glasses to someone in need. And they are an Aussie born and designed right here in Sydney. Use the code ‘ANIKA’ for an upgrade to Free Express Shipping if you are ordering in Australia.
In other news, I did a Mental Health First Aid course this month. I came across the opportunity in October which was the Mental Health Month in NSW. This course teaches adults to provide initial support to a friend, family member or a co-worker who may be developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. I’m so glad I was able to take part in this course. It was very empowering and informative. Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma associated with this topic and many of us don’t realise how common it really is. Given that it affects 1 in 5, it’s so important to promote mental health discussions and invest in developing these first aid skills.
Overall, it has been a pretty mediocre month. There are times when I have struggled to write as I am still learning how to navigate around my thesis. It has felt rather slow at times but I am positive it will get easier. The good news is that we have finished setting up our little home. Honestly, it feels so great to be able to settle down because our weekends had become more hectic than weekdays. We are slowly falling into a routine with things like meal prep and all things adulting.
My month started with responding to reviewer comments for one of my papers. As always, I was overwhelmed when I initially got the comments. Unfortunately, the deadline was very tight which meant that all my efforts were focused on this paper. To make things more eventful, I was also preparing to move in with my partner after almost two years of long distance. I ended up going on a long hibernation from social media because I needed to focus on doing major revisions on my paper.
It has been rather difficult to juggle the move and PhD life. At times, I felt like it took away all my excitement I had for the move and I even felt that it was bad timing. But as the saying goes, sometimes, you just have to ‘trust the timing’. So, that’s what I did and it eventually worked out okay in the end. Happy to say, the paper was published a few days ago!
I have also been working on finalising my content for my intervention which has taken a lot of refining. We were granted with ethics approval on our modifications. It was very exciting to be able to finally start recruiting. The response so far has been a little disappointing, but I am aware that it is a busy time of the year with semester ending and upcoming exams.
In other news, I had the opportunity to do a one-day media training in Melbourne (cover photo taken at Oaks on William). It was quite overwhelming but it was so incredibly useful. I’m so glad I was able to tick this off my list because now it means I can take on requests as a DAA Spokesperson.
In summary, it has been a rather challenging but productive month. I feel a little overworked because the lines between my working hours/ weekdays vs. free time/ weekends have been blurred. The other reason I feel overworked maybe from setting up the new house and other duties associated with adulting. The whole process of moving has been very exciting but it has been a huge adjustment at the same time. We have realised that it’s going to take much longer to settle than we anticipated. So, we’re trying to make peace with that and be content with what we have (I still continue to document in the gratitude journal I started back in March).
September has been a slow month for me. I’ve had some minor setbacks this month as I realised that I required an ethics modification for my next project. Initially, I was a little disappointed as my original plan was to start recruiting this month. However, I strongly believe that every delay happens for a reason so I’m completely at peace.
I am calling it a slow month as I didn’t achieve what I had hoped to. While it certainly wasn’t what I hoped it would be, I still managed to get a few things ticked off. I submitted a paper, an ethics modification and presented an oral at a uni symposium. I’d like to think that this delay has been a blessing in disguise because it helped me refine the content for my upcoming intervention.
In other news, I have been very busy planning a personal milestone. It is something that I have been dreaming about for a long time now, so it was incredibly special when the good news came through. I am now patiently waiting for this long-awaited phase to unfold. Living in the present has never been so wonderful. I cannot wait to share the updates with you next month!
The year is flying away like crazy! I’ve continued to spend a lot of time hibernating this month which really helps with writing (at times). It only works at times because I suffer from Writer’s block on some days. I managed to get somewhat close to finishing another paper. I say ‘somewhat close’ because I am not sure how much work it will require. I worked on revising another paper which is almost ready to go.
In other news, I’ve started doing a bit of teaching again and taken on an admin role at journal club. Sometimes, it really helps to change up tasks and expose myself to other activities. I’ve also been finalising the finer details of my last project which finally received ethics clearance last week. Obtaining ethics approval was definitely the highlight of the month as it has taken almost two months to come together. I am so looking forward to starting the next chapter of my PhD.
There are still a few things I need to set up but I can definitely see light at the end of the tunnel. I have written up a monthly plan for the rest of the year which is a little unusual for me (I only write one at the beginning of each month). While I know that things may not fully go according to my plan, I still find it really useful to write as it helps me stay focused. It is so easy to get caught up in the little project and lose sight of the big picture!
Overall, it has been a pretty productive month. I have tried to get around Writer’s block and adapt to the situation by constantly telling myself that the output I am producing towards my PhD will never be consistent. Some days will be super productive while other days won’t be. It is okay to have both.
Here are my eats for this month 🙂 I’m currently obsessed with strawberries!
Another month down! It is crazy how fast the year is going. I have mostly been hibernating because I have been writing. One of the challenges that come with writing is that some days are better than others and I often underestimate the time it will take to do something (i.e. writing a section on X, finding a reference on Y). So, it can feel like I am not making progress on some days. However, the good news is that I have managed to finish the paper I was writing and moved onto the next one.
I have also been working on a few other side projects. It can often be quite rewarding to have tasks like this when I need to take a break from writing. Speaking of which, I went to a workshop on thesis writing workshop earlier this month. I found it pretty overwhelming because it made me realise how complicated and all the little things that I need to consider during write up.
In other news, I managed to finish my conference blog from Hong Kong. Overall, it has been a pretty stressful but productive month. I have realised that there’s so much left that needs to be done, so I am trying to pace myself as much as I can and priortise what needs to be done first.
My month started off with ISBNPA conference which was held in Hong Kong this year. This was my second time attending this conference (after Victoria, Canada last year). I really enjoyed the conference as it is closely related to my PhD topic. I also had a chance to explore Hong Kong. It was nice to get away from the cold and take a mini break (click here to read the blog).
In terms of PhD work, I had a super productive month. I was bogged down writing a really big ethics application which will form the last section of my PhD. When I started, it seemed like an impossible task because I hadn’t done anything this big before. It took some time to come together, with the help of my supervisor and PhD colleagues. Honestly, I am so grateful to all the people that supported me, because I couldn’t have done it all on my own.
In other news, I’ve joined as a DAA Media Spokesperson this month. I had applied for this role back in April after learning that a position had become available in NSW. I started writing for the media last year and I knew it’d be the perfect opportunity to hone my media skills. I was so thrilled when I heard the good news, it literally made my week and was probably my highlight from this month!
On a personal note, I’ve had some past issues resurface this month. It has been tough and it has been giving me major anxiety at times. But I’ve mostly been trying to focus on the positives and reminding myself of the great things that happened this month. I’m going to keep my focus on the sunny side, just like my eggs!
Last month, I attended the DAA conference in Sydney. This was my third DAA conference after becoming a dietitian. Previous conferences in Melbourne and Hobart presented great travel opportunities. But I had a lot going on leading up to this conference (preparing for my oral presentation and another upcoming international conference) so I was kind of relieved that I wouldn’t have to travel anywhere.
Asking the BIG questions “How can we be the change we want to see in the world?”
The theme for this year’s conference was #ThinkBig. The conference started with motivational speaker Jeremy Meltzer who spoke about business as a force for good and millennial power. This was one of my favourite sessions as it really got me thinking big picture.
“Women entrepreneurs and business leaders are the fastest-growing economic force in the world”-Muhtar Kent (CEO, Coca Cola). Women are the greatest drivers of economic growth this century.
We also learnt about new terms like ‘nutribollox’ which describes the utter rubbish we are exposed to on social media. Another interesting one was ‘nutribabble’ which is not absolute rubbish but it is information that conflicts (like a popular women’s magazine).
Why do we so readily reject expert advice? One reason: as humans, we favour information that confirms our pre-existing ideas.
On Friday, I attended a breakfast seminar which was hosted by Australian Eggs presenting some latest research. A few people asked me about this on Instagram already, so I thought I’d put in a summary here as well:
Eggs are an economical, nutrient rich food and contain 11 of the essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, E and B12, as well as antioxidants, choline and lutein. The advice in Australia has been to consume up to 6 eggs per week. However, recommendations around the world have been much higher.
The latest Australian study (DIABEGG) looked at the of high-egg diet on cardiovascular risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes. It was a randomised controlled trial. This essentially meant that people either got a high egg diet OR low egg diet. The main findings from the study was no change in cardiovascular risk factors when compared between the two groups. They looked at a range of measures which included blood pressure, pulse, body fat, weight, total body fat and waist, total cholesterol, triglyceride, LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol) and novel markers to measure vascular and systemic inflammation.
So, what does this mean? This means it may be safe to include eggs in your diet more regularly (even if you are at risk of type 2 diabetes or have type two diabetes). “A healthy diet based on population guidelines and including more eggs than currently recommended by some countries may be safely consumed.” Click here if you want to know more about the published research.
Food fairness everyone’s business especially if we are going to feed 9 billion people by 2042. All stakeholders need to be involved and engaged. It’s time to advocate for change! Most would not think of food security in the modern age of social media where we see so much food porn and endless brunch posts when we are scrolling
On the last day, we had workshops on food security/ hidden hunger which was quite insightful. We are so caught up in the social media world with brunch porn and decadent desserts, we often forget how common food security can be. The plenary session ended with a great debate on the weighty issue which questioned whether BMI should be regularly used to assess obese patients.
BMI is a real issue but not the only issue. But it should not be reflective as a single measure of total health. Focusing on diet quality may be better for improving health and well-being rather than talking only about weight.
#DAA2018 has been my favourite DAA conference I have been to thus far. Happy to say, it sparked some really big ideas in me. #DAA2018 has gotten me to think bigger than ever before! Now I’ve got a million dreams that are keeping me awake! It has helped me realise that I need to work on rebranding my account and aligning my passion/ personal interests closer to my professional work.
My favourite sessions included the motivational talk by Jeremy Meltzer, workshops on engaging for success and creating your dream career. The latter workshop focused on branding and becoming an entrepreneur which was highly valuable. It all got me thinking about making changes in my personal and professional life so it aligns better with my passion.
While there is an endless amount of ‘nutribollox’ out there, it’s also an exciting time to be involved. Our profession is not headed in one direction, it’s headed in multiple directions. There is a lot going on which can be puzzling but we now have an international audience.
Here are my top 5 learnings:
We as dietitians need to connect over food and look out for each other (rather than competing). We really need to support the work that other dietitians are doing.
We have lost the enjoyment with food. We need to take your weight-centric glasses off! We should focus on improving diet quality and having a healthy relationship with food (rather than weight per se).
Despite having the expertise in food and nutrition, we must say we “don’t have all the answers”. We must stop saying sorry for changing diet advice. When the evidence changes, we should not be sorry and stand firm on evidence-based practice.
As dietitians, we have a lot of compassion in our profession already which is great! But we need to work on empathy- we should focus on how patients want to be treated rather than how we want to treat them.
Last but certainly not least, we must have courage, an evidence-based opinion and bring out our passion in everything we do!
Thanks for reading! Check out my Twitter if you’d like to see more conference updates from #DAA2018 🙂
It has been a rather strange month. At times, it felt like everything was in my favour while at other times, it felt like an absolute chaos. But happy to say, I am mostly starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. But there are times when I have been hung up on how things used to be and I am trying my best to get past this phase. I’m just taking it one day at a time and waiting on a number of different things to unfold in my life. Despite the uncertainty, everything feels like a miracle after having a recent disruptive change in my life. It almost reminds me of Albert Einstein’s famous quote, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.” I have always believed in miracles and I think they’re great because it gives you hope to go on under any circumstances.
In terms of my PhD, I spent this month preparing for my oral presentation, creating my posters for my next conference, finalising work on a student project, writing up a survey paper and planning the last chapter of my PhD. I attended the DAA conference which was held in Sydney (blog coming up soon). The conference was so insightful and probably was my favourite DAA conference out of the three I have been to. It’s only early days but I’ve been super pumped after the conference. I feel like I have now discovered a purpose and now I somehow just need to connect the dots between my core values and my love for dietetics. I haven’t figured it out all yet but definitely feeling more optimistic about everything.
In other news, I finally managed to finish my London blog after almost 3 months. It honestly feels like a huge accomplishment because I haven’t been able to blog at all and it felt like everything had come to a roadblock. I am spending more time in the social media space and working on planning some new content.
I’m not even sure how to begin. The word ‘anxious’ barely covers the emotions I have felt this month. April has always been a happy period in my life as my birthday falls on this month. In my last post, I felt like things were finally looking up in my life. I could have never guessed that the glimpse of sunshine would move out so drastically and be replaced by pitch darkness.
A part of me wasn’t even sure how to write this out. But I felt the need to write something because I often find it therapeutic to write in times of stress. Moreover, I felt it was important to document my PhD journey despite the recent changes in my personal situation. I’ve had to take some time off to attend a family emergency. It has been really tough because family has always been my number one.
For the first week, I had to disconnect from everything in order to cope. I am a huge task planner so I felt very miserable when I didn’t know what was going to happen tomorrow or the day after. All my plans had become non-existent. Then I realised that I needed to pick up things from where I left off. I knew that I wasn’t going to make great progress because I’m not in the same mindset I used to be. But I knew that I am better off making an attempt rather than not trying at all. To be honest, I am still struggling but I am trying to normalise my routine to what it used to be. I have started to work flexible hours, communicate with others and appear somewhat active on social media.
In other news, I’ve had my ‘gestation paper‘ accepted for publication. It was probably my happiest moment from April that came out of my PhD. But I’ve also had a paper rejected which probably makes it even. My current priorities include screening for a review and preparing for upcoming conference presentations. Of course, there’s so much more that needs to be done but I am taking it one step at a time.
Overall, this month has been incredibly challenging and emotionally exhausting. There were times when I completely broke down and other times when I did my best to remain strong. I have come to learn just how unpredictable life can be, the hard way. So, I am doing my best to be grateful for the present and for the little things in life.
I honestly cannot believe how fast the year is flying away! March didn’t start off all that great for me. I started on a brand new project, so there were some initial challenges. Thankfully, I was able to resolve them within a couple of days. I was also working on putting a summary of my conference learning. I find it really inspiring to attend conferences as it helps me think about the big picture (I sometimes get too bogged down with the smaller details).
Other major tasks this month included two paper revisions. I am back to do doing some teaching and supervising an interesting project (the semester started earlier this month). It is hard to juggle at times, but I still find it to be very rewarding and fun!
In other news, I am also working on creating some content for my blog. However, progress has been slow because most of the time I am in the ‘blog planning’ phase and struggle to find the time to put my plans into action. Happy to say, I am working on ways to manage my time better, so hopefully there will be more content coming up soon.
There were a few personal struggles too (was sick for a couple of days and dealing with an ongoing internal conflict which has been going on for longer than it should). But I know that it’s probably not going to stop until I get things off my chest. I know that won’t be happening anytime soon, so I decided to start a gratitude journal this month. I tried the #30daysofthankfulness challenge on Instagram last year, and I have been thinking about making it a regular thing since then. It has only been three weeks, but I like it so far.
Overall, it has been a pretty good month. I was able to tick off a few things off my list, so I feel like things are finally starting to look up, yay!
The highlight of this month was my trip to London. I flew over to attend the 4th CBC Conference at UCL. I’ve heard lots of great things about this conference from other people in my research group. Since then, I started envisaging about going there at some point in my PhD. I was super excited for this one!
The conference was so great, probably my favourite thus far. It was a relatively smaller conference, so I was able to network with several people (unlike previous large conferences where it was often rather overwhelming). In terms of sightseeing, I didn’t end up doing any trip planning because I knew I would only be there for a couple of days. I asked a few of my friends for recommendations which gave us plenty of places to cover. I won’t say too much about my trip here because I’ll be writing up a separate travel blog for London soon. In other news, February wasn’t super productive in terms of making progress with my PhD. I spent the first two weeks working on my presentation. Some days felt slow because it needed a lot of tweaking. I also tried to write up a new paper as I waited for ethics to come through.
Overall, it has been a very adventurous month. Even though I was only away for a week, it felt somewhat longer because of the long flights and winter? I was starting to freeze in London as it got down to minus one! Let’s just say that I’m happy to be back and thankful for the weather we have here now.
I spent the first week of January holidaying in Fiji and taking a break has sort of helped me get a fresh start. The good news is that I finally had a pretty productive and positive month! A few people had expressed their concerns about the way I had been naming my blog posts towards the end of last year. Yes, I have had some pretty dark times. But I am finally starting to see the light at the end of a tunnel.
I’ve finally submitted my ‘gestation paper’ after almost 1.5 years. I started this paper towards the end of my first year and been carrying it since like a baby. While I know that it still has a long way to go until it goes out to the world, it was nice to get it out of my hands (for now at least). I’ve also been busy writing up a new ethics application which is one of those things that always takes much longer than you anticipate. But I am pretty happy with how things are coming along so far.
In other news, I have been focusing on lots of self-care routines this month. Some of you would know that 2017 has been a very overwhelming year for me. It was crazy and hectic; I can’t remember a time or month when I wasn’t out of my comfort zone. There were so many ups and downs in the same week or sometimes, even on the same day. I’ve tried my very best to keep my focus on the sunny side, but it hasn’t always been that easy. Nonetheless, I’d like to think that I am stronger and in a better space now. But one of the things I realised in 2017 is that I have been a ‘people pleaser’ more often than I should be. So, my goal for this year is to show more of the real me, engage in regular self-care and posting more blogs! Let’s do this 😀
I decided to push myself to the max this month and was trying harder than ever to finish my two papers. I was spending most of my time working on revisions and was feeling hopeful that I’d be able to submit before Christmas. It was coming along pretty well until I hit mid-December when I realised it wasn’t going to happen like I had planned. This meant that I wouldn’t be able to submit anything until next year. I felt quite demoralised after this point; it felt like none of my goals will get accomplished. But I told myself that every delay happens for a reason.
I tried to finish up other pending tasks but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to tick off all that I had on my list. Again, I was a bit disappointed initially but I have decided to remind myself that it is okay. I have done the best I can and they will eventually be finished. No one really looks at anything over Christmas, anyway!
Saying goodbye to my desk for the year was bittersweet because I hadn’t accomplished what I wanted to. But I told myself, it’s okay, because there’s always next year, right?
In other news, I completed a teaching course this month which was an eye opening experience for me. I’m not sure if I will end up taking up teaching, but it was interesting to learn about it from a student perspective. The other good news that made my month was hearing back from a conference that I had put in my abstract for and really wanted to attend!
This month has been a relatively terrifying month for me. I thought I was getting close to settling down but it ended up being quite the opposite. To be honest, a part of me was very reluctant to write about that other fragile side here. I usually try not to bring up personal sides in these monthly posts because I want them to be purely about the progression of my PhD. But my emotional health has not been at its best this month. Safe to say, I am in a slightly better space right now, but I am well aware that this is temporary and it may just hit again. But unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do now other than waiting for the right time and hope for the best!
Whoops, that ended up sounding mushier than I intended, but I am kind of glad I got that out of the way. Now let’s move onto the more exciting parts of my life, shall we? I have been really trying to push myself with my current tasks because I really need to pick up my game. I have set myself a few targets that I want to achieve before the year ends. I am working on a few different papers right now which is really exciting because I have never worked on so many at any one time. But it can sometimes be hard to juggle!
Overall, this month has been very rocky but one of the things I really enjoyed was the #30daysofthankfulness challenge on Instagram. It kind of forced me to be thankful about something every single day. It was challenging on some days but it made me realise that we often get so caught up in our own tangles, we forget to cherish the blessings we do have in our life. You can read more about it from my Instagram.
Finally, here are my November eats from this month 🙂
I have literally a million things on my mind. I almost feel like I will never be able to reach a level where I am happy with the amount of work I am doing and not feel like I am behind! I am trying to get things done one at a time. I really hope it calms down for me soon. It is so hectic right now and it’s probably because I want to do a bit of everything.
I am working on a few different things right now which includes paper writing, finalising statistical analyses and recruitment for focus groups. Stats has probably been the hardest out of these because I tend to forget the steps once I switch to a different task. Recruitment has also been challenging because getting a bunch of humans to arrive at the same time is hard work!
On the bright side, I managed to finish a draft of one of my papers. That’s probably the only milestone from this month, other than additional lecturing opportunities. We celebrated 50 years of dietetics in Sydney which was an exciting event. It was so nice to be able to attend this event and learn about some of the pioneers in nutrition and their stories. It also made me realise just how far our profession has come in 50 years!
This month has been pretty intense. I set myself a large number of goals, both professional and personal. I probably made more progress on my professional ones which is still a good thing. My tasks this month included preparing two posters for a symposium and an international conference. I love making posters, but they can be so fiddly and always end up taking way longer than I plan. Unfortunately, I could only present one in person as the other one was in Argentina.
In other news, I have been working on redoing some stats analyses and have also started recruiting for next round of focus groups. The other important milestone from this month was delivering my first ever lecture. I had to step in to cover for someone so I only learnt about it last minute. I was pretty comfortable in a tutorial setting but preparing for a lecture took a lot of effort and I ended up spending an entire weekend reading. Happy to say though, it ended up being a great experience. I am glad I took up the opportunity.
Overall, it has been a very busy month, filled with some new milestones. Unfortunately, new responsibilities come with longer hours. It has left me feeling a little burnt out and has severely hindered my PhD progress and work-life balance. But let’s hope I can adjust and things will settle down soon!