Quitting Coffee and Challenging Addiction

So the other day, I didn’t make time to have any tea or coffee before I left the house. It was totally unplanned, yet amazingly liberating. Caffeine seems like such a harmless staple of the Western diet, something most people “depend” on to survive their day. At least that’s what they think.

I’ve realized that my struggle to maintain consistent change has come from a lack of focus historically. Perhaps that isn’t true. I was focused, just on thoughts and stories I was telling myself which did not benefit my larger-scale goals. For example, I looked forward to me morning coffee or my evening tea (herbal or caffeinated). It made me happy to sit there with a warm cup of deliciousness because it felt like such comfort.

On the other hand, I don’t like depending on substances. It’s not sustainable. On a high level, I consider it the same as needing a gram of cocaine to get through the day. At least that’s how it appears to be treated by society at large. Obviously the images in our minds of what these respective substances can do are quite different, but it’s nevertheless a similar attachment. It’s ultimately worse for caffeine or any sort of a food addiction because abstinence is not a viable option in many circumstances.

So it’s an interesting path, one I’m happy to be on. I know that ultimately I do want to be addiction free, and to continue challenging myself. It’s not like I ever did drugs, but I also spent way too much time clinging to ideas and subsequently a food addiction that’s clung to me for years.

I’m excited to say the least. I don’t think I’ve been this serious before.

UPDATE on November 29, 2013: I did not quit caffeine for any longer than that day. I reasoned that it was the lesser of my problematic habits, and that it benefits me at this point in my life. Will this always be the case? I hope not. Though it is what it is for now. There’s bigger fish to fry 😉

Three Ways I Overcame Mindless Spending

In February 2007, I met someone who would be integral to my personal success, especially in terms of finances. She was a 22 year old single mother who was incredibly driven and everything I would have wanted my mother / sister-type to be at that time. I was seriously lacking direction (haha, I was a whole 15!), and I really needed something to aspire to.
 
Through my friendship with her, I actually began to explore the reality of fiscal responsibility. Not for my parents, my friends or even the future me, but for who I was at that time. I needed money. To get there, I made some changes that I still utilize today. Interesting that in spite of insane progress, I’m still motivated by the same things. So here goes 🙂
 
1) Urgency. To me, the sense of “I need to build up my emergency fund”. I teetered back in forth, in and out of discipline until March 2009 when my roommate died. I saved $3000 in four months. The balance of how much I’m personally willing to do to avoid pain vs. gain pleasure.
 
2) The Older, Less Energetic Version of Me (formerly The Older, Less Pretty Version of Me). This one was my thoughts of being 66 working at McDonald’s. Not that there isn’t dignity in doing that, I don’t think anyone’s above doing any type of work. I just didn’t want to do it at 15 or 22 and I’m sure I’ll be kicking myself if I have to at 66. Or 50. Or ever haha.
 
3) Taking Care of My Child. This is one that came up more recently, but it resonates so deeply. I try to think of things in relation to finances (and health for that matter) as if I was doing it for my child. I would always make sure my child had a safe place to sleep and play. Healthy, quality food to eat as well as extracurricular things to do that would contribute to their growth. I’d also ensure they didn’t suffer because of my lack of discipline.
 
All of these things considered really drives me in terms of what I refer to as my “financial domination”. I don’t like saying discipline because it makes me feel restricted. Domination implies that you’re taking the driver’s seat with the affluence you are afforded (let’s not be silly, almost the entirety of Western civilization is amazingly affluent in contrast to the average on this planet).
 
I hope this helps inspire someone who reads this. I’m always inspired by these list type things, so I figured I’d create one!

Om Nom the Feelings. OMNOMZEM!

I’ve struggled with an eating issue (overeating as a means of coping with emotional discord), and enjoyed my fair share of over-salted, high-sugar foods. I’ve maintained a 50+ lb weight loss for 3.5 years and I have a lot of awareness in terms of how it works. It’s not brain surgery, it’s calories in, calories out. The more natural the calories are (say 1000 calories from a chocolate bar, vs. 1000 calories from some almonds, chicken, etc. in a salad), the better off you are.

I was always equating it to being heavy and slipping into unconsciousness before. It was nice when the going got tough, to just receed into a warm, safe, unconscious place where I could be numb from everything I was afraid of or felt I couldn’t handle. Interestingly enough it worked. Until recently.

A few days ago I had some popcorn. It was this delicious white cheddar popcorn, though I really wasn’t hungry. I was being especially lazy in not making food for work, almost as an excuse to get bad food. Anyhow, I devoured the entire bag in about 7 minutes (I’m big on numbers), and I felt myself slipping away. It was surreal. I was tired, irritable and all I wanted was more. Popcorn or not, anything else. Except my typical go-to, spinach and chicken breast.

The bad food, beyond weight fluctuations, really affects my quality of life. I don’t want to be unconscious. I love how it feels to be present and to give my all. At work, my sales and quality go up when I am present. In my relationships, my gifts are better amplified. I’ve been really assessing how I can effectively manage these impulses in a way that’s sustainable long-term. I’ve spent years going up and down about 15 – 25 lbs. and while it was fine, it’s becoming worse. I’m beginning to feel immature by still being so undisciplined. It’s beginning to frustrate me, essentially making me sick of my own past baggage.

I think it’s incredible. Beyond looking hot, or getting hot guys, etc. I am really just exhausted trying to mask my underlying struggles. It’s time to face the music!

Relationships and Personal Progress

A friend of mine told me today about how his sister and brother-in-law are divorcing. Apparently there were some issues with substance abuse, but it began to really strain their relationship. While he was telling me the story, I tried to fathom how difficult it must have been trying to balance the reality of the love you feel for someone, while caring for yourself enough to know when to let go.
 
It’s been an interesting point of argument for a number of people I have discussed this with. If 50% of marriages fail, is it because of a lack of effort, or because it wasn’t meant to be in the first place?
 
On one hand, why feel like you have to stay with someone just because at one point you felt something powerful for them. If your needs are not being met, if the love isn’t being reciprocated despite your best efforts, why feel obligated? On the other, you wouldn’t have wanted to share your life with them if on some level you didn’t feel you could commit to them on a deep level. Granted, that’s not the case for every union, I think that’s the general idea.
 
It’s really got me evaluating, focusing on who I want to become, who I’m supposed to become prior to entering into my next relationship. I couldn’t imagine the guilt of making a decision I knew I’d later regret in the heat of the moment because I haven’t put the work into myself. I’m beginning to see this awareness as a gift.
 
I’m also beginning to consider how I’d like to learn from people who have suffered from addictions.

Mindless Om-noming Resolution

In the last year and a bit, I realized that profit, weight loss, happiness, etc. are all results of psychology behind an idea or a person. It’s all in your perception and how you position things. When I thought of starting this blog, it was a result of feedback I’d received from friends and family over the years that always told me I was a fairly good writer. Even this is a result haha.

Since I’ve shed 20 lbs. this past month, I’ve really begun to truly evaluate my relationship between emotions and food. I created my attachment to it, likely through easy access in my younger, more stressful days. These past few days I’ve spent really considering my triggers. I was legitimately on a high for the first three weeks. I felt amazing, all that exercise and that feeling of your body digesting itself. The excitement wore off, as it often does, so I’m back trying to establish a new perspective. I had a few indulgent meals, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s a little bad, because I completely revert back to my old mindset for the duration of the meal.

I realize that my willingness to even evaluate my thoughts around it is progress. I’ve mentioned before that I spent alot of time being unconscious about a lot of things.

I don’t think I made any points here, but I’m a little sick with a ridiculous throat/allergy/hateful thing going on that’s leaving me sounding like Courtney Love today. It was Barry White yesterday, so I don’t know if that’s progress or not.

Snap Moments in Life

After more than a year of immersing myself in personal development material, I’ve obviously picked up a few recurring themes. One that’s on my mind today is from Tony Robbins I’m sure. I’m about to poorly paraphrase here, so be patient. It might have been in one of his books or in a seminar I watched, but basically he talks about how some people will respond to pain more than pleasure. The things people are willing to do to avoid pain vs. gain pleasure.

On July 26 I went to the doctor and it wasn’t the best. It wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m a sensitive person and I care a lot about what the important people I interact with think. Within reason, my doctor is one of those people (by within reason, I mean that I wouldn’t take everything he says for gospel. What if he’s part of the ‘system’ trying to keep us all down!? Haha, just kidding ;)). I spent years overindulging and eating to absolute excess to soothe my pain. The pleasure of feeling light, looking and feeling sexy, and essentially having the confidence to pursue my dreams was more painful as an unknown than the comfort of eating to excess.

Just over a month into it, I have shed 20 lbs. (I say shed, mostly because lost implies that I don’t know where it went. I digested it! I digested all of it!), and I’m back in a relatively normal range for my health. My blood pressure is about 12 points lower than it was, so I’m happy.

The point of this blog entry is that in one moment, the pain of continuing a lifestyle that cannot be sustained (as almost any addiction cannot be, at least long term) was smashed to pieces when the doctor pulled me out of my dream world. Not with his words, but by how aware I was of my greatness in that moment. By that, I mean my potential greatness.

You hear a lot of personal development coaches and speakers refer to your gifts as belonging to those who you come into contact with. Holding back really does seem selfish when you think about it. By holding back, you’re implying that you’re somehow entitled to keep your gifts. I’m not saying that shedding weight is a gift, it was a conscious decision. The gift is the fact that I can share, and that I choose to share my thoughts on this blog.

I could be like one of those professional bloggers, spending days labouring over my work, trying to find some way to make it marketable and easy to read. In truth, I’m being incredibly honest. I don’t edit my stuff, I just type it and put it out there. What happens after that is hopefully cool, but overall satisfying for me. I feel good sharing this stuff because this is what I think I would have liked hearing when I was younger.

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Phew, and to top it off, in spite of having an hilariously hoarse voice today, it’s sunny! It’s totally sunny and beautiful. (Please forgive the sub par picture. Maybe Google some prettier sunny day pictures for effect :))

Coach Trevor

So a few weeks back, I saw a random post on Facebook that was an early chapter in an upcoming book called The Devil in the Shadows by Trevor Kucheran (https://www.facebook.com/CoachTrevorK). It was interesting initially, because I didn’t read it, I merely ‘liked’ it. Until yesterday.

When I woke up, I saw a new post he had for I think chapter 29, and I was compelled to read it. Something about it, perhaps because it happened where I live, or perhaps because it was about addiction in general, really resonated with me. I actually read all 31 posted chapters (there’s 32 as of today) yesterday.

Basically the book is about his struggle with alcoholism. I’d strongly recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in a good story that also happens to be free. He plans to privately publish the book, providing a link to his Facebook fans, but for now it’s all out there. It’s really an amazing story that really had me thinking about addiction in my life. I’ve never personally struggled with alcoholism, but it’s all the same hole in the soul.

Hmm. I’m still processing everything I feel about it, but either way. Links above if anyone’s interested :3