There are more glamourous addition’s out there, but this one is just as powerful and destructive.
It’s an incredibly emotional and powerful subject. Even picking out an image for this story was tough.
Today I want to talk about an addiction. One that’s not made glamourous by Hollywood.
It’s not a sex drugs and rock’n’roll addiction either.
The patterns of self-destruction and ruined health are the same though.
I’m talking about that most modern of addictions…
One definition of an addiction is:
Addiction is when the mind and body need a substance to function. Taking that substance away causes physical and psychological withdrawal.
Having been there and come out the other side. I can tell you that addiction to sugary and high carb/fat content food is real.
It’s a real addiction with real consequences and real health issues. It’s also very tough to quit.
Like other addictions, you are never cured. All you can do is recover and try every day not to fall back into it.
The reason I write this is to highlight this issue and share with others. So that they don’t have to go down the same path of discovery.
They say that you are what you eat, it’s taken me about 32 years to work that out.
My diet was awful, sugary drinks and snacks between meals. The meals themselves pizza, burgers, fries. All my own choices, all addictive and all destructive.
Through my twenties, my health declined and at my worst, I weighed 145kgs or around 320lbs.
I was morbidly obese and pre-diabetic. Over time I have lost over 30kgs/60lbs of that weight and regained my health. I’ve also regained my fitness, although I still have around 20kgs/40lbs left to lose. It’s an ongoing journey.
The hardest part of it all? Changing my eating habits.
Recovery and Reeducation
It took me months to work out what was happening. I could go for a few days eating well, drinking water or tea, and exercising. I would feel good when I made those changes. But the next thing I knew I was 8 cokes deep into the day, sitting eating junk food at lunchtime.
As much as I tried, I was struggling to break the cycle. After a lot of soul searching and research, I finally worked out I’m addicted.
I always have known I have an addictive personality, it’s what’s made me terrified of drugs for example. I just never made the link between the food I was eating and the chemicals being released in my brain.
Once I understood that I could begin to tackle my issues properly. This is an addiction like any other and it needs to be treated accordingly.
The answer will be different for us all, but for me right now, I have to say starting the day with exercise make’s a huge difference to me.
It gives me motivation to get up and start the day with something enjoyable.
At the moment that for me is a cycle of around 1 hour.
The positive action
I’m used to starting my day jumping straight into work and eating the frogs first, that is to say, tackling the hardest jobs first.
There are a couple of issues with that approach that I had actually never thought about until I started working from home:
I’m not motivated in the mornings at all, I know im going to face difficulty and so I end up getting more motivated as the day goes on and I end up too switched on and ready to work at the end of the day.
I don’t have a plan for the day, I just have a to-do list that I jump into head first.
Exercising first is a positive action that motivates me for the rest of the day:
Exercise makes me feel good, this alone motivates me to get up in the morning
I still have a to eat a frog — my 1 hour cycle, but its a physical challenge and that motivates me
I have 1 hour to myself on my bike and during that time, my mind wanders and I actually strategize my day
Those frogs in the shape of tasks are still their to be eaten, but I have a plan for them and im mentally prepared for the day.
The fact that Im prepared for my work day, and also I have the motivation from the exercise, my mornings are much more productive and I actually feel tired at the end of the day.
I also have a routine which helps me feel grounded.
The negatives for me exist only on the days I decide not to exercise in the morning.
On those days I have less energy, im less motivated and I get less done.
Everyone is different and what works for you, wont work me and vice versa.
What I have found is a routine that is working for me, that im getting alot of motivation from.
The days I decide to stay in bed, I feel worse than the days I get up and at em.
My days are happier and more productive, which is a fantastic reason to keep going and to embrace a healthy lifestyle.
I’ve written on medium before about one of my strategies for being quarantined, which was to give myself a series of challenges or experiments.
A lot of those had focused on my relationship with food, which is not a coincidence, since I’m a little more than half way through losing a significant amount of weight.
This new experiment took my by surprise when it entered my thoughts yesterday and so I think its worth writing about.
Challenges of losing weight…..
One of the challenges of trying to lose a significant amount of weight is that what worked for you in the beginning wont work for you all the way through.
Weight loss plateaus, either because your body gets used to the regime, or because you got fed up following the plan.
My strategy to weight loss is intermittent fasting and exercise, and while I don’t find myself getting tired of either of those, I do still have the weight loss plateaus to deal with.
Im in one of those right now, which is how the thought came about I’m sure…
A vegetarian experiment
As a dedicated meat eater, my first thought was have I been abducted by aliens or drugged maybe, there has to be a reason that these thoughts are entering my head, it’s not natural at all….
The more I thought though, the more it makes sense, I need to change gears on the weight loss again and I have already cut red meat consumption down significantly, so this is just the next step in the process.
I wont become a vegetarian full time, that’s not the goal and I have to be honest in telling you that.
What I am interested in is, what can a vegetarian diet (Still consuming dairy) do for my weight loss and my overall health.
To begin with this will be a 7 day experiment.
What will I learn in 7 days???
Not much I think, 7 days is really too short to evaluate anything.
I will be able to see the effect on my blood sugar levels and I’ll know if I feel a difference in myself but that will be it.
So then why 7 days you ask?
The answer is simple, this is probably the biggest and scariest life change I have ever thought of.
If I can compartmentalize it, then I can do 7 days without issues and then extend it if im comfortable with that in 7, 14 or 21 day chunks.
I know I need at least 1 month on this, but that’s looking to far ahead right now and this approach will keep me going.
An exciting new world awaits
All I can do is put one foot in front of the other here and try and make this work, while that’s daunting there is an immediate advantage.
I get to try something new, vegetarian cooking. An exciting new world where the veggies are the main event and not the side show.
As someone who enjoys cooking it’s a new challenge I can look forward to and it genuinely gets me excited for the days ahead.
In terms of these small personal experiments this is the big one for me.
Its a radical change, so one small step at a time and a compartmentalised view is key.
Ive not focused on the pro’s/con’s etc of a vegetarian lifestyle here because I honestly don’t know.
Im taking the YOLO approach here and will see how it turns out, like much that I do in life.
I’ll write about initial progress this time next week, in the meantime if anyone doe’s have any advice or tips etc please do get in touch…
Yeah I have some bad news, our attitude really is the difference between making it or not in our careers.
There is an idiom that often gets shared on social media where someone has written hard work, punctuality and a few other words on a white board and underneath each word they added the number in the alphabet for each letter and added those up.
Its goes on until the bottom word which is attitude equals 100% and I think thats true, there is quote I love which goes:
A bad attitude is like a flat tyre, you can’t go anywhere unless you change it
Its one thing that we all have the ability to change, and the one thing that can make a huge difference in our lives.
A little humility goes a long way
Life happens to us all, maybe we lose out on a promotion or our dream move, or maybe we are less motivated by what we do than we used to be.
The situation can spiral out of control if we let it. Our attitude goes downhill and before we know it we are in a worse situation than we were to begin with.
When these bumps in the road come along its important to keep perspective, and keep a good attitude, the opportunity will come along again and with a little self reflection you can be ready for it.
Even worse is the situation when sadly a job is lost, which in the market right now is happening more and more.
Its really hard to keep perspective and a good attitude during these time, especially coming from a highly paid job to something very different. There can be rewards however, a different perspective on life for example that will pay us back in time.
A smile, a laugh, a joke , humility and hard work are the good attributes and attitude that can keep us going and keep us in a job, almost more than anything else I can think of.
In the horrible event that anyone of us loses a job, then its that same good attitude and sense of perspective that will help get us through.
As an ex colleague of mine remarked today after taking a job in a garden centre part time:
I really miss the salary and the free lunches in a fancy restaurant paid for by someone else, but working hard, meeting people and then eating a sandwich in the back of car at lunchtime, has given me a whole new respect and perspective on life
Attitude really is the thing that makes the difference….
The age of the internet really does mean that the world seems smaller and is certainly more connected than ever before, but that doesnt mean we should’nt take the change to explore it.
The magic of travel
The experiance of the sights, sounds, smell and culture of the places you travel to and experiance, just cannot be replicated by watching or reading something online or in a book.
The magic of travel is soaking up all of those things in person, meeting the people, visiting the landmarks, travelling between places and trying new things, new experiences.
Travel broadens the mind, but often empties the wallet
This is one of the single biggest fears that a lot of people have.
While I can’t say that this isn’t totally untrue, travel today is much cheaper than we tend to think it is, and in fact there are more opportunities to be paid to travel for work than ever before.
Budget airlines, air bnb and group travel options all make it cheaper than you might think to go take a life changing trip.
Or you could explore the career options which allow you to travel for work, these are almost endless and go from long distance track driving and sailing through engineering, sales, management, the list of jobs and list of industries is endless.
If you want to travel and see the world, the options to do that are endless.
The world really is smaller and more connected than ever before, yes they are some challenges and getting out there right now, but once those end the world is out there.
If you want to make the most of it and see what you can, then the options are there.