I think I might have had one too many chocolates over the Christmas. I might also have had a bit too much turkey and ham. Then there was all that pork, beef, and I did eat a lot of bread for some reason. And who bought all that lovely dip, that quite literally forced me to eat all those crisps and nachos? Of course there was also the matter of Joanna’s lovely trifle, which to be fair would have gone to waste had ‘someone’ not finished it off. She also made her very special sausage stuffing which needs to be tasted to believed, then tasted again and I must say I’m a believer.
Some people hate sprouts. I love them as long they are cooked in the water from boiling the ham and while I’m not generally a big potato fan – that’s potatoe if your name is Bush (who remembers that one?) – the Christmas spuds were to die for.
What the feck is wrong with us at Christmas? I haven’t even mentioned all that yummy cheese, the Tunnocks Tea cakes or Caffrey’s snowballs. Somewhere between December 24 and New year, I ate my way through more calories, than the population of a small Mediterranean Island could manage in a month. It’s unnatural I tell ya’.
The problem now of course is that it has all come to a sudden, crashing stop. Over the coming days, I will have to adjust to getting back up off my arse as I return to work, in addition to resuming a ‘normal’ diet again. What a shock to the system that is going to be. For me it’s not so much about the calories as the fact that I have a dodgy ticker, so I have to be careful in general. I can’t afford to eat unhealthily if I want to stay alive, so it is back to eating good stuff. To be fair, I like the good stuff, it’s just that I know my brain has been re-set to craving junk. I’ve even started to eat lots of bread. I’m a carb craving calorie monster at the minute…well up until last Monday anyway. Of course, I’m quite peculiar when it comes to food anyway. Not that I am picky, I will eat just about anything. By peculiar I mean in relation to my appetite.
I can go all day without eating, something that is certainly not good for you. Some people get grouchy if they don’t eat, they het ‘Hangry’ if you will, overcome by an irritability that makes them rise to anger easily once hunger strikes. I can work away without noticing that I’ve not had breakfast nor lunch, and can even drive on past dinner time as though I have a full belly. It is only when I actually eat that I get hungry. It is the strangest thing.
The problem is that when I am at home for ten days over Christmas, grazing my way through anything and everything, I just keep eating. Yesterday was my first day back to work and well, so far not a twinge. I was even offered choccie biscuits but I declined without batting an eyelid. My challenge will begin when I get home for dinner and start eating. Ahh the lure of the left over Christmas junk food.
But it is really not a complaint now is it. The solution is quite simple. Close the fridge, step away from the sweet bowl, and don’t go hunting for crisps. Choice is the key. It is how I gave up smoking. I made a choice.
I gave up the ciggs thirteen years ago. Like most people who want to quit, I had tried everything and failed- many times. So I analysed what I was doing wrong. I realised that it was never the quit part that was an issue. I could always manage that part. It was the staying off cigarettes that presented the problem.
So in the spirit of New Year and for all those with resolutions, especially the one to stay off the fags, I will share with you, the secret of my success giving up the fags. Pay attention now campers.
Usually when I quit, (and I had tried many times( day one was hard but that was when my resolve was strongest. By day three, I was weakening and if I dared have a drink I was fecked altogether. So in my analysis I came to a few conclusions. I realised that I inevitably had a cigarette ‘eventually’ which always meant I was back to square one or ‘back on the fags.’ The other thing I realised was that if I was honest with myself, a part of me wanted me to stay a smoker. I liked them so why wouldn’t I? Usually what happened (and this is only me of course, it’s different for everyone) was that I began to miss them. Then that missing turned to desire and because of the addiction, my desire inevitably won out. I would panic if I got stressed out when I had no cigarettes – especially if I really ‘needed’ one which of course was a self-fulfilling prophecy. During withdrawal I was constantly looking for an excuse to go back on them.
I chose to do several things to overcome my multi-layered problem. First, I dealt with the notion of re-set, by which I mean one cigg and you’re back to square one. Simple, I decided to forgive myself any single indiscretion i.e. if I slipped up and had one cigarette after say ten days for example, I would not press the reset button by which I mean the next day would not be day one again, but day eleven. This removed one common excuse. “Ah sure I smoked so I’m back on them now.”
Next I overcame the problem of the feeling of panic because I had no access to cigarettes. Again –simple. I placed a full, unopened pack of fags in the door pocket in my car. Should I be overwhelmed, then they were available to me. Out of sight importantly, but available, just in case. But I knew from experience that wouldn’t work on its own, so I added two more key elements, choice and penalty.
The penalty for opening the pack was that in order to smoke the cigarette, I had to first drive to a shop, buy a fresh pack of 20 and place them in the door of my car. Then I could open the other pack; smoke only one before crushing and binning the remaining 19 cigarettes in the bin outside the shop. It sounds ridiculous and it is, however it has a surprising impact on the old brain when you realise by default, how much money you spend on cigarettes. More importantly, as I was focusing on every cigarette being a choice, it highlighted the power they had over me. I began to gain control over my addiction through the power making it a positive choice to quit gave me. The stupidity of the process, made me understand just how much control nicotine had over me and I didn’t like it. I became more determined to overcome the addiction from the very first time I opened the pack in my car and threw away the remaining nineteen cigarettes.
Choice was the key. I asked myself a simple question every day. “Do you want to be a smoker or do you want to overcome the addiction.” This allowed me to leave the pack in my car unopened, while its presence gave me comfort and eliminated the sense of panic. It allowed me to work with the strange set of rules I had created. It allowed me to forgive myself on the very few occasions where I lapsed and went through the throwing away ritual, but I never reset back to day one. I knew they were there if I wanted them, but what I had to go through to have one, reminded me that I really wanted to give them up more than I wanted to have another one.
The upshot was that after a couple of lapses, over about four months, I finally lit but didn’t even finish my last cigarette. I realised that I really didn’t want to smoke anymore and eventually chucked my support pack away altogether. The important thing is that unlike many former smokers – I don’t miss them because I don’t’ feel like I am depriving myself of something I loved. Quite the opposite. I chose to quit and I was successful. Focusing on the fact that I was making a choice, gave me power and control over the demon nicotine. Just as well…ten years later I had a heart attack and that could have been a lot worse had I not quit. But even without my trip to the light and back, I know that I will never smoke again and there is no sweeter feeling. I think for all things in life, you have to make a choice and take responsibility for that choice. That’s the key.
I’m not sure if this strategy will work for anyone else giving up the little devils, but it did for me. Now I’m off to see if I can fit a box of biscuits, a kilo of cheese, some sliced chicken and a large sliced pan into the door of my car. Happy New Year everyone…
Haven’t read a Max Power book yet? I think it’s time to pick one up.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
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