Friday, February 01, 2013
This morning, it occurred to me how similar quitting smoking and implementing a healthier lifestyle are to me. Maybe it's a little dramatic, or obvious to some, but comparing the addiction and emotional nature of food and cigarettes was a real "a-ha" moment for me.
I loved smoking, I really did. I had a cigarette as soon as I woke up in the morning. I dreaded a long flight because if I went longer than 2 hours without a cigarette I was jittery and irritable. I smoked for years even though my boyfriend (now husband) never smoked and found it disgusting. Smoking was my break, my comfort, my appetite suppressant, my anti-anxiety medication.
When I finally decided to quit, it was because I was sick of something that was ultimately killing me, being such a priority in and having so much control over my life. Not that this made anything easier. Just the thought of being without cigarettes was terrifying. What would I do now when I was stressed, angry, tired, having morning coffee?
What ultimately worked for me was the nicotine patch. I decreased my dose over time, all the while telling myself that it was too dangerous to slip up, even once. This was a change I needed to stick with for the rest of my life. Even still it was really sad for me, like losing an old friend.
I don't crave cigarettes anymore, thank goodness (ahem…except with the occasional cocktail!). But in some ways, I feel like food has become a replacement for the emotional needs that cigarettes used to soothe.
There are definitely times that I hit the vending machine at the office for chocolate because I am stressed. That I have a piece of birthday cake (despite the fact that I don't even really like it) because it's there, and I'm being social. I've been known to order pizza and sit in front of the TV with the family for relaxation. I am a big "bored" eater. I am truly attached to certain junk foods.
I know these things aren't good for me, and I already knew that I needed some changes in my life. But I never really looked at things a truly harmful, not as bad as smoking, anyway. But when it comes right down to it, poor relationships with food can absolutely kill you. Heart disease, depression, type 2 diabetes… I think it’s time I take it just as seriously as smoking. I can't spend years letting something slowly kill me just because I've formed irrational bonds with it.
I need to apply some of the things that I used while quitting smoking – taking it slow and looking for ways to replace the emotional aspects (and when I can't, knowing it's going to be okay anyway). Looking at it as a “forever” change, and (for now at least) not allowing myself trigger foods so I can avoid backsliding at all costs.
A lot of these things I’m already doing, but now I've had a subtle shift in perception, and a renewed sense of urgency. It's time to let go of another toxic "friend".
Anyone have any tips for letting go of something you really love, but know isn’t good for you?