I'm not very good about writing blog entries consistently right now, but I know they help me think. So, here are my thoughts today, which I apologize, they are all over the place:
Part of my job is asking people about smoking, if they'd like to quit, all that jazz. Today, I spoke to a woman who said, "I smoked for a week when I was 17, hated it, and have never tried it again." She then went on to tell me about how it had to be the cinnamon flavored smokes while she chewed cinnamon gum. I was reminded of the clove cigarettes with the vanilla filter I used to smoke while I hung out with my guy friends when I was 16/17. But here's the thing: I *LOVED* smoking. I still love smoking. I love the community of smokers, the taste of smoking, the feel, even the smell to certain extent. But. I was raised in a house where smoking was not acceptable. My parents didn't smoke, and they probably wouldn't have let me hang out with my guy friends if they had realized I was smoking too. So even though I love smoking, crave it, I have never smoked consistently. I have probably smoked a pack of cigarettes total since trying it when I was 16, and 90% of those would have been when I was 16/17. I've never bought a pack for myself, and while I bought a vape pen over a year ago so I could "smoke" 0% nicotine, I have yet to use up the free samples of oil I got.
So now, let's talk food. I love sweets. Crave them. Love the taste. Love the smell. And was raised in a house where my dad eating a half a tray of brownies was pretty typical. Now, my dad, being 6'3" and very physically active, can do this on occasion without much outcome. Currently, he bicycles every day, and anything under 20 miles "doesn't count" as having ridden for the day. He is still not anywhere near thin, but he is also not fat. My mom also has not so great eating habits; I remember every time we went grocery shopping, we got a treat. We would get ice cream probably at least weekly when she picked me up from school. My older sister had bulimia. She would make cookie dough and we would each take a cereal bowl full to eat, then put the rest in the fridge to maybe cook later. Of course now I realize that she would go throw up later, but at the time, I had no idea.
Even with all these terrible influences, I wasn't fat until I hit my 20s. And then I moved in with a friend on a farm that he worked on. I don't know if you've ever done farm work, but it is GRUELING. We would drive to school, do that all day, then drive home where he would go do work on the farm while I did homework and watch TV. We'd eat dinner together watching shows, and always after came dessert. He would go back for seconds, and say things like, "You should have dessert too so I don't feel like such a fatty getting two servings". And when the attractive farm guy tells you that you should have dessert, do you argue? Hell no you don't! So on it went. I had cut back on my physical activities a lot because before, I had walked to school and had physical classes. Now I was driving miles to school, focusing in on my psych and art classes, and being encouraged to eat multiple bowls of ice cream a day. I lived there with him probably 18 months, and I gained a good 20 pounds. "Still not THAT fat though" I would tell myself.
Then I moved 100 miles away, from the country to the city to get work. I moved in with a guy I didn't know, and with my social anxiety, that meant that I tried to stay out of his way 90% of the time by staying in my room. I worked two 16 hour shifts on the weekends as a caregiver, which is very physical work, but then the other 5 days a week, I spent in my room watching TV and playing games on the computer with my partner, 100 miles away. I was not happy, and did not take care of myself. Making myself go grocery shopping was sometimes like making myself climb up a cliff. I hit a major depressive slump and gained another 15-20 pounds. Now, let's fast forward through the next 5 years. Life got better, moved around with my partner, got better jobs (that involved eating more fast food however, or not eating at all until the end of the day), and then, I started the job I have now almost 6 months ago. The job where I ask people how much they weigh, how much exercise they get, all while inching ever closer to 200 pounds. So that's how I got here trying to loose weight.
Now, let's go back to smoking and sweets. I was raised with terrible habits around sweets, no doubt about it. I've also gotten less active in the past 10 years. I know how unhealthy all that is; really its no better than smoking. But for some reason, I never think of it that way. With smoking, I know full well what I'm putting into my body, what I'm doing to my lungs, my brain, my whole body. I know I could be taking years off my life if I let myself smoke. I want to have kids, and I know that smoking could hurt them. So I don't do it. But even though overeating can have similar effects, raising my blood pressure, making it harder to breathe and be active, making it harder to have kids, it somehow doesn't compute.
I think the hard thing with food is that you have to have it. You will die if you don't eat. Even if you live on a diet of processed foods and soda, you may be killing yourself, but definitely slower than if you ate nothing. So I have to eat. And it just so happens that, while I love meat and bread and even a few veggies, most of what I love to eat is also what happens to be "the bad stuff". I know, food isn't bad, just how much we eat. But even if I eat portion controlled versions of what I want to eat, I won't be doing myself any favors. I've hit the point where eating fast food sounds awful, I'd rather have home cooked meals over the quick fix meals 90% of the time, and when we do go out to eat, I usually pick healthier things because that's what I'd actually rather eat. But. Those desserts. I'll admit, I've gotten a little healthier with my dessert cravings even. I don't want Ho-Hos or candy bars. I want cheesecake and brownies and ice cream. And I don't want 1 slice, 1 piece, 1 serving. I want the whole damn thing.
I've already established, I know that this could kill me. Just like a cigarette could. So why is this so hard? Why can't I quit desserts like I quit smoking? For most people, quitting smoking is incredibly hard with irresistible cravings. I just never bought myself any. When I have a craving, it just isn't even an option because I don't have them. I don't go buy them because I honestly don't even know what I would buy myself. The one time I tried, I asked the person behind the counter if they had clove cigarettes, and I got a weird look and a "No, I have no idea where you would buy those". But desserts. I get irresistible cravings. The kind where I can't stop thinking about it, even while I try to do other things. I have tried eating fruit to try to trick my body, but my body is no dumby. I will find myself stopping at the grocery store for no other reason that to buy my tray of brownies. And this isn't a situation where I will eat one and be good. I will channel my father and eat half the tray before I can stop myself. My brain is not part of the conversation, because my brain knows full well that this is a terrible idea that I don't actually want to do. But there we go. Half a tray of brownies is gone. Time to hide the evidence.
So how do I change my thought patterns from what they have been from childhood? How do I quit sweets? I work in mental health, so I should be better at this. But it's that whole thing of doctors being the worst patients. I am terrible at changing my own thought patterns. But I think its time to treat this like someone who is quitting smoking. Or someone fighting a drug addiction. After all, food releases similar chemicals into our brains as drugs. So I'm going to try this workbook I found:
What I'm currently considering is trying out this workbook, see how it goes for me, then if it is helpful, create a group to help other people going through something similar. If it isn't "just" for myself, I'm more likely to try it and stick with it, which isn't right, but its a way to get myself to start. Is there anyone else out there really struggling with food addiction, whether its something specific like my sweets, or just in general, that would be interested in some help or doing this with me to see what we think?
Anyways, Sparkers, that is my ramblings for today. I wish you all the best, and hope that you don't loose hope. Keep working hard, and keep looking forward!