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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Just dumped my best friend...

Back in 2003 when I quit smoking I went through a terrible time with withdrawl symptoms. I would get cold, shake, and then cry uncontrollably at the smallest little thing. After 4 weeks, when a person supposedly "successfully kicks a habit" I was shocked and disappointed that I was still suffering. I even made an appointment with my doctor in hopes that I could get some medication for my terrible bout with the blues. I clearly remember sitting in his office, perfectly composed and suddenly busting into tears when I uttered the words "I don't know what's wrong...I just feel so saaaaad!" Waaaah! You should have seen the doctor's look of shock as I turned into an emotional trainwreck right before his eyes. He ended up writing me a prescription for Wellbutrin. All I will say about Wellbutrin is that one of the side effects the doctor shared with me was that it could "significantly enhance feelings of depression and sadness" in about 10% of people. Consider me that 10%.

Since I had already gone 4-5 weeks without a cigarette or nicotine of any kind, I decided to kick the drugs and keep going at it cold turkey. This required a concious look at my belief systems as well as my perspective. One day I had a bit of an "ah ha!" moment while in the middle of a withdrawl episode. I thought to myself "There are two ways of looking at this horrible feeling - one way is that having a cigarette right now would immediately calm me down and make me quit shaking. The other way to think about it is that THIS is what these cigarettes have done to me." In other words, the thing I had been reaching for for 12 years to calm my nerves and help me relax had completely destroyed not only my lungs - but my ability to effectively deal with stress and emotions. Now here I was trying to get away from cigarettes and I was a shaking, twisting, fidgeting, sweating, crybaby, shell of a person. Some best friend I had! The past 12 years I'd been turning to a scam artist to help me relax. That simple realization was a complete paradigm shift in the way I thought about smoking. Suddenly the tug of cigarettes became a lot less powerful for me. I'm happy to say that on November 17th will be 9 years since the day I had my last cigarette.

As I reflect on that, I think the same can be true about food. How many of us turn to food when we're stressed, sad, bored, scared - or simply out of mindless habit? I've started thinking about the way I feel when I eat - am I really hungry?  Not only that - how long do I beat myself up for one small little mistake? That's the kicker - that's the one thing that will make me turn back to food on a vicious cycle - the beat up session after I've made a mistake. So I've decided that much like cigarettes, I'm going to turn to something else when I think I'm about to eat to soothe myself. Food is not an enemy like nicotine, but it's definitely not my best friend and confidant either. To a degree it has also messed up my ability to effectively deal with stress and emotions as well as the size of my spreading hips and thighs! So instead of beating myself when I fall off the wagon (and I'm sure I will sooner or later), I've typed up a list of positive affirmations and accomplishments to remind me of all of the good things I've done so I don't sit and dwell upon miniscule setbacks. Then I'll get up, get over it and keep on keeping on....

Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. I do the same thing. I get "off the wagon" on food and then just say forget it, and eat bad even more. I wish there was a magic pill to help stop this