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So it’s been time for a while for me to clean up my diet, but I wanted to wait until some major stuff was out of the way.

Right now I’m planning to cut out junk food, sugar (with the exception of a weekly beer/wine), and fried foods.

I’m also using the Reboot Plan site for juicing and smoothie recipes.

Next up:

10 min of dance-walking a day…and maybe a LIVESTRONG summit to help me stay motivated!

The Extremists

While I have a few friends who are adepts at “Cold-Turkey” methods of quitting bad habits, I am not one of them. When I quit smoking, it took 3 years of pretend quitting, about 15 packs of cigarettes w/ 1 smoked, and the rest under water, and bumming approximately 30 cigarettes from strangers in bars before a $75 bet sealed the deal for me. (Thanks to my excellent friend Hoff for that!).

Ok so I like to do a quick scan of extremist measures and pull out tips I can actually do.  When dealing w/ extremist writing, i like to skip past stuff like “It’s sooo hard, but sooo worth it.” “and you MUST eliminate this everyday thing becuase it’s evil”

Doing this causes the beginning of a two-step process in me.

  1. The “No-Fun” General – She’s a JERK. And if we were to go into battle, she’d actually be very ineffective b/c all she knows is we can’t have sugar or we’re good for nothing. Also she’s annoying.  She can quote you a million statistics on the amount of sugar/caffeine/nictoine consumed in a day, she will not hear of giving any ground to the “enemy” and she has no common sense.
  2. The Class Clown – Underneath all that pious stuff my cheating, fun-loving, wisecracking self is repressed, and lying in wait.  Eventually this clever part of my psyche will rise up, bake a million little cakes, buy a bunch of ice cream and several hundred bags of M&M’s and go to town.
  3. Repeat 1 and 2 until the cravings subside and we have beat down the addiction.

I reject this cycle. I’m going to just skip it, and go for a plan to step down gently but firmly over the course of several days and months.

An extremist article on “getting off the sugar” contains a lot of stuff I don’t want.  Use sweeteners to manage cravings (no), quitting forever “is the only way” (hardly).

BUT!

Under “Ways to Stop Sugar Cravings”- there are fantastic tips, and things that I am already working on to support the healthier lifestyle i also CRAVE and I can actually DO these without declaring a war.

  • Drink More Water: If you are a sugar addict, it’s possible you do not drink enough water. Drink at least 3 glasses of water each day with no sweeteners or flavorings. Just plain delicious water!
  • Eat More Vegetables: The more veggies you eat, the less likely you will be tempted to go to sugary foods. It will also occupy you long enough to hopefully get through the sugar craving.
  • Find replacement habits: Eating sugar can be as much about a habit as an actual desire to eat it.  If you chew on candy to calm nerves, try chewing gum or something else.  If you stir sugar into your coffee, try just stirring your coffee to keep the habit.  If sugar is the point then try doing something completely unrelated to eating – go for a walk or do something active.
  • Get enough rest: Sugar affects your blood sugar levels, which affect your energy levels. If you aren’t sleeping enough then you might be tired and craving sugar that will give you a quick energy boost.  Get enough sleep in order to stop cravings caused by lack of sleep.
  • Identify and avoid triggers: Figuring out what triggers sugar cravings can help you avoid them.  When you find out whether lack of sleep, boredom, depression, habit, stress, etc. is causing your cravings you can then fix the triggers so that you can stop the cravings.

I found another interesting article on quitting sugar — this one contains a lot of advice about stocking your kitchen in a way that supports a reduction (or removal) of sugar from your life.

Compare it to the restrictive extremist example

To me it feels much more helpful and doable. 

How about you? Can you quit something cold-turkey?

Ain’t it sweet…

Chinese woman: “Ahhh. You tired?”

Me: “Yes. I’ve been really tired, and I ate a LOT of ice cream last night. Like tons. I was a bottomless pit”

Chinese woman: “Ahhh.  I see it.  I feel it. You have THE YEAST.  Here, I have the fix for you”.

Hmm.  There is a common alternative health condition that over-consumption of sugar occurs when you have a Systemic Yeast Infection or Candidiasis.

Double Hmmm.  There are a lot of supplements out there to eliminate yeast infection.  I bought the $30 bottle of yeast reduction elixir, but i didn’t really stick with it and lost interest…mostly because it tasted funny to me.  Most nutritional supplements do.  Lots of people need them, but I am consistently healthy and full of energy (except when the yeast has control), so I focus my time and dollars learning how to cook tasty veggies that are in line with the cravings I have.

And, as my Grandpa Carl would agree, the money is better in my pockets than theirs.

Ok, so I frequently binge on sugar, and I don’t want to be stupid, so I’m investigating ways to reduce it from my diet, in a way that is easy, and even pleasant.

Oh it’s possible, you naysayers.

Here’s how I go about reducing a habit or activity.  As a practicing yogi, I know that negative habits provide a clue to my unconscious and desires that I am squelching.

  1. Research how others have conquered it
  2. Look at the extremes – What happens when people quit cold-turkey? Is there a high rate of relapse?
  3. Look at how people have successfully reduced their intake.
  4. Look at my past history of controlling this habit.
  5. Consider using it to achieve a Sankalpa (In this method of intention, the stronger the habit, the more effective it is at pushing you to your intention).

I had forgotten about Sankalpa until just now.  In Sankalpa, you use one of Rod Strykers meditation processes for identifying an intention that you want to accomplish w/in 6-18 months.  In order to help keep you focused on that intention, you choose a bad habit, and give it up for 40 days.  Each time you are moved to partake in your habit…you use gratitude and the sankalpa (an intention that you not only want, but FEEL a desire for) to redirect the habit energy.

Here’s the problem… I have tried to “quit” a lot of things.

Smoking…Caffeine, Alcohol, junk food, nail biting, punching boys i like.

Rarely is cold turkey an effective method of quitting for me.  I become a raving lunatic, and eliminating my addiction becomes more important than anything.

Until i cave.  Then i GORGE myself, then we try again.

So …there has to be a better way.  For my Sankalpa, I can choose to quit something i don’t mind, like nail biting or multi-tasking.  Those seem to work well.

Ok Next Blog will be on a “Step-down from Sugar” method.  YAY!

 

Top 5 Dream Jobs

There’s a scene in High Fidelity, where introspective John Cusack’s character, Rob,   catches his ex-girlfriend in his apartment reading his list of “Top 5 Dream Jobs”.

As she reads them aloud, she points out that each one is impossible given the current space-time continuum, except for “architect” which requires 5 years of training.

She then describes his current job to him, and asks…wouldn’t you rather do that?

And Rob agrees, and shifts his outlook on his job.

That’s the definition of realizing, accepting, and appreciating where you are .

I adapted this recipe from this one in “Eat Close to Home”
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves of minced garlic (to taste)
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 bunch of Kale, Mustard Greens or other Green
  • 2 c. diced tomatoes with juice (fresh, or one pint/small can)
  • 1-2 cups potatos
  • 1-2 cups vegetables (green beans, mushrooms, corn)
  • 1/2 tsp -1tsp of ground chile pepper or another warming spice that you like
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil, then wilt your greens in it, turning frequently with tongs.  Don’t be afraid of the giant pile of them, as they will start to reduce and you’ll have 1/4 of the volume when you are done.

Add the tomatoes (cook for a minute or two if they’re fresh so they release their juice and cook until juice is just boiling (if using fresh tomatos, you’ll need a little extra time for the juice to cook down).

Throw in the potatoes and other vegetables and spices.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes.

When the potatoes are tender, remove the lid and cook the tomatoes down so everything is saucy but not soupy. Serve as-is, or over couscous, rice, noodles, etc.

I’ve been obsessed w/ my habits since i was a teenager.  Lifelong things that have been really hard to change.

TV watching, overeating, eating when I’m not hungry, nail biting, gossiping, being mean to boys I like.

Those were my baby/teenager habits, As life ramped up, I added binge drinking on the weekends and special holidays (like all 20 somethings) and smoking to the mix (along w/ sugar addictions, fast food, etc.).

My entire life I have frequently catalogued all of these at once and said “I WILL NO LONGER DO ____”.

Once, in college, I gave  up all habits at once (for one day, er morning)..I quit the following

  • Smoking
  • Nail biting
  • Eating mozzarella sticks at the cafeteria and any other fatty delicious food I frequently craved
  • Drinking diet soda

It was a really ugly morning. I was in the Student Union, talking to one of my favorite smoking buddies, and realized that I was jumpy and my skin was crawling. As I watched her smoke, I imagined horrible things and also stealing her cigarettes.

Around 2pm I realized that giving up all of these habits at once would require a super-human force that I did not possess.

In my 20′s I started to realize that I needed to by more systematic.  When I was 28, smoking was the #1 habit I would eradicate.  While I was working on that, I STARTED doing yoga regularly.  And I started a love affair with cooking vegetables, while flirting with vegetarianism (we’re still flirting, but he’s moved on to more willing participants).

The I started exercising almost every day of the week, and did various workout routines and promptly injured myself repeatedly.  I quit spending so much time focused on the gym, and let it go too.

An interesting thing happened… yoga stuck, flirting with vegetarianism stuck.  I couldn’t imagine a world where I didn’t study, and practice yoga regularly, or where I didn’t cook really amazing things with new vegetables. It whispered to me:

  • “You were born beautiful and perfect.”
  • “You have all the tools you need to live any life that you dream of.”
  • “You fill a very important space in life.”
  • “Kale is delicious when braised in tomato’s along with potatoes and mushrooms and chile powder.”

I slowly started hearing this message through yoga books, through teachers, through the new friends I met.

Soon, I started to notice that the SAME message was available outside of yoga, particularly in my family, and in a few close friends.

I’d been too scared to pay attention to that message until I found it in a tradition that is 5000 years old.  That is time tested enough for this science fan.

And interestingly enough, my habits are becoming keys to unlocking little secrets about myself….I’ll tell you more as I figure those out.

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