onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “change your thinking”

The bare minimum, but like you mean it…

I was talking to some people the other day about making changes. I am talking about the kind of changes that alter the course of your life. In my experience, there is a human tendency to get inspired, and decide to jump head first into change. And then, when change gets difficult, which it inevitably does, to give up.

Sometimes, when I am helping someone give up sugar and put boundaries around their food, they will tell me that they have a laundry list of things they want to quit. They want to quit sugar, and smoking, and caffeine, and chewing gum, and diet soda, and artificial sweetener, and watching more than an hour of TV, and playing video games, and Facebook, and…

I always tell these people that they can do that if they really want to, but that I don’t recommend it. I think you should take on one thing. Especially if it’s one thing that takes a lot of time and energy, like quitting sugar. I believe that first you take care of the thing that is killing you quickest.

As an illustration, I was a smoker for over six years after I quit sugar. I am going to be blunt. It helped. I needed it. I could even say it saved me. Coffee and cigarettes were like a kind of religion for me at that time. Of course, I was already a smoker and coffee drinker. I didn’t start smoking to stop eating, though I went from a cup or two of coffee a day to drinking it from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to bed, often drinking 15 cups a day. But again, I needed it. Coffee wasn’t going to kill me before the food was. Cigarettes weren’t going to kill me before the food was either. I am suggesting that “killing you quickest” doesn’t necessarily have to mean physically. Smoking may be more likely to kill you younger statistically, but not being able to stop eating was killing me physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. It was killing my self-love, my self-respect, and my feelings of self-worth. Eating was more than just slow-motion suicide. It was fuel for the fire of my self-loathing.

I am glad I didn’t try give up coffee and cigarettes at the same time that I put boundaries around my eating. It would only have been in the name of chasing after perfection. And I can tell you pretty assuredly, that I wouldn’t have succeeded. And then where would I be? Still eating, still smoking, and felling like a failure, who was cursed to be fat and food obsessed forever.

The excitement of change doesn’t last long. Ask any gym patron who goes year-round. On January 15th, everyone is at the gym, excited to make a change. On February 15th, they are excited that Valentine’s Day chocolate is half off.

Perfection, or at least the quest for it, has always been my enemy. I never pull it off, and whatever I do achieve is not good enough, because the goal was perfection. But when I do one thing, and I do it with purpose, commitment, integrity, and love, even when it’s hard, even when it sucks, even when I don’t want to, I see results. I make a change that sticks. And once I have made that change, and it has stuck, it is no longer the thing that is killing me quickest. Now there is something else to deal with, slowly, honestly, purposefully.

For me, that is how things get done. And this is from a low-functioning addict, someone who didn’t get a lot done for most of her life. So screw perfection. I recommend the bare minimum, but every day, like you mean it.

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Presence for Christmas (Yes, I know it’s a bad pun…)

This week has been an e exercise in keeping my focus in the presentmoment. And on top of that, keeping happy and peaceful.

I don’t know where I stand in the job process. And I have not allowed myself to dwell on it. I have especially not allowed myself to worry about it.There is a saying: Hell is in the hallway. It means that the time that one is waiting or transitioning is always the most trying and difficult. 

I don’t have the luxury of wallowing in worry. I’m an addict. Wallowing of any kind is a chocolate-cake-binge waiting to happen. 

Having huge emotions is something I have had to make friends with. I have learned that they have their place. I won’t pretend I’m good at controlling them, but I no longer let them control me.

I used to think that my emotions meant something. I thought they were “The Universe” telling me some irrefutable truth. It turns out that my emotions are the physical expressions of my thoughts. When I change my thoughts, I change my feelings.

It’s not hard to change the way you think, but it takes something. Mostly, you have to be willing. Willingness is key. Willingness and commitment.

Giving up sugar took willingness. I had to be willing to sit in what was uncomfortable and not numb it with cake. And sitting in discomfort made it possible for me to change my thinking. Commitment to not eating sugar meant that if I didn’t want to be uncomfortable forever, I had to come up with new ways to be comfortable. (By the way, being high on sugar was not really very comfortable. Certainly not as comfortable as self-respect.) They say necessity is the mother of invention. I had to invent new thoughts to go along with my experiences. I had been thinking like an addict for my whole life. I had been thinking like a fragile, dramatic child. And that kept me eating compulsively.

When I committed to putting boundaries around my food, I committed to changing anything that got in the way of that. And that included being responsible for having positive thoughts. It meant being grateful for all of the amazing things in my life. And having faith that life is always working toward the better. 

The other day, our furnace broke down. I had to be at work that afternoon. For the first 15 minutes, I was in a panic. And then I remembered that whatever happened, it would all turn out fine. I called the repair people. I set up an appointment. And I stopped worrying. 

It actually all played out perfectly. The furnace was fixed and I made it to work on time. But the best part was knowing that even if it hadn’t gone perfectly, it would have been perfectly fine. Because in any given moment, I can choose to think gratitude, and feel faith in the benevolence of life. 

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