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August 8, 2012


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Comments (14)

I had, for the entirety of my life except the last two months, a soda habit.

Not just "I like soda, and I have one or two a day". I didn't see the point of drinking anything but soda.

And it was fantastic. I didn't even get sick or fat. It just felt great!

But eventually I realized it was responsible for my acne. And the struggle began. I tried to stop, but the back-and-forth raged on.

Two months ago, a girl I liked started IMing me. We talked about books, and our mutual love of the Internet and cyberpunk and basically everything else that was good.

And so I stopped drinking soda. And eating junk food. I joined the gym and started working out three times a week, and I drink tons and tons of water now.

It's been easy.

I know this probably doesn't help anyone else, but it makes me think about why it's such a struggle to change in the first place. We're smart people and we know what the right decisions are, but we ignore this knowledge. Maybe the problem I had, the reason I used to struggle so much (and I will probably struggle again), was because I didn't think it was worth trying. Maybe I thought the easy route was the life I deserved, or the only one I could ever really have.

Anyway, I miss soda.

Posted by: HwiNoree at August 8, 2012 9:17 PM

i just went through a very similar circumstance. My blood panel was "all normal" except for cholesterol, and my doctor suggested that I watch "Forks Over Knives" and to limit my intake of fatty foods. I did watch the movie, which dances around advocating an all veggie diet, and then I read a lot on the interwebs questioning the "science" behind the movie's claims, and then I got sad.

Also, I've been eating a lot more broccoli.

Posted by: David at August 9, 2012 12:03 PM

Thanks Ze, you just made me spit out my drink, this laugh has lowered my cholesterol instantly! (I was on a statin for a while, now I eat bacon!) XOMO

Posted by: Monique DiCarlo at August 9, 2012 1:09 PM

It doesn't matter what "he" says, only what you do. What you do will define "him."

Posted by: Max at August 9, 2012 6:10 PM

How do I fight him? I change my environment.

You could say that there isn't one true "you" that sits in your head and tells you to get a ham and cheese sandwich, but that there's a "you" for every location and you just hear the one you're closest to.

When I used to try to work from home or when I had to do schoolwork at home my "you" would convince me to play games and watch tv, though he didn't have a problem with me going to the library. When I was at the library my "you" had a different voice and interests.

Basically, some tasks require a lot of willpower, but sometimes the willpower of the same task in a different situations, plus the willpower required to change your situation adds up to a much smaller amount of willpower.

So in your case, I guess, don't say "no we're not having a sandwich, I resist you with my willpower" say "we'll we're going to X to do Y now instead where there are no ham sandwiches".

Worked for me. :)

Good luck!

Posted by: Andrew Owen Martin at August 9, 2012 6:43 PM

That is the question, how do you fight your small mind? your ego...no simple solution there, is there?

I did recently read The Power of Habit, and found the book quite good, and it does offer some insight into how our habits work, and how we can work on replacing bad habits for good once. Something like, noticing the triggers, and the rewards we are seeking, and then replacing the habit, while keeping the same trigger and reward...or something like that...maybe it will be helpful in your diet changes. :]

...but generally speaking, I do zazen (meditation), that seems to be a good path to work on your habits, developing will power, understanding your ego, etc. but certainly is not a quick fix...

Posted by: Simon B. at August 10, 2012 9:53 AM

I think it's helpful to just start by ADDING food to your diet instead of removing it. Add in a big salad every night at dinnertime. Splurge on your favorite exotic fruits and keep them on hand for snacks. Don't necessarily skip the ham and cheese sandwich (ease up a bit on the mayo, tho) but make sure that you have an apple for a snack beforehand and a side salad and maybe then you'll only want half the sandwich.

You might even find that after a while that voice that's currently talking you into another slice/pound of bacon might be trying to interest you in some sushi, or a bag of fresh cherries, or that cool fractal looking cauliflower at the farmer's market (and yummy, too).

Posted by: Daisyifyoudo at August 10, 2012 2:26 PM

I swap old choices for new ones. I found new things that I completely enjoy and satisfy me, and every now and then I give myself permission to eat ridiculous things. I snack on fresh popcorn I make on the stove myself (yay fiber and no artificial/ hydrogenated/ whatever that you get in packaged snacks) and kale chips I bake in my oven (chopped kale tossed in a little olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt).

Then sometimes I make cookies and I "forget" to bake some of them before I eat them... but that's ok! I don't do that every day, or even every week.

There are some things that sound like they should be awful, like mashed rutabega, that taste super amazing but you don't know until you try them that they can make you just as satisfied as a ham and cheese sammich with extra mayo!

So I guess what I am trying to say is, unleash your creativity until you find those things, we already know you are good at that!

Posted by: Cairs at August 10, 2012 3:12 PM

Have you had a friend that ran a marathon? And they spent the previous three months talking about it and getting excited about it? Do it like that.

First, don’t say it like, “Dang. The doctor says I have to lower my cholesterol”. Say “I’m going to get my cholesterol under 180!” And if your friends say “That sucks”, slap them.

Start small. Make a goal of not eating ham and cheese for a week, and the next week you’ll have 5 pieces of fruit each day.

Look at options. Find more than one way to do it. There always is, and when the first fails then you have a choice other than giving up.

Posted by: Peter of the Norse at August 11, 2012 11:26 PM

Ze, I believe the list your doctor gave you should be longer. There are a lot of cholesterol related misunderstandings out there and this is my favourite expert: http://chriskresser.com/heartdisease

Posted by: Dave at August 13, 2012 8:23 AM

While not cholesterol issues (yet) I did cold turkey quit smoking almost two years ago. It sucked. It is better now. Almost better.

I had to stop and really grown up like really look at what I was doing with my life and how smoking was plainly fucking it all up and if I didn't stop I would screw up everything I want.

So I stopped then and there.

I am a better person for it. I try harder at things, I want more out of life.

It still sucks, I still want a smoke now and then. But I don't.

Posted by: Kilted Eric at August 14, 2012 4:51 PM

Gah! I had the same diagnosis (as does my mother, so it is somewhat genetic). My frustration was that I have been vegetarian for ages, so I was like but, but, but... how am I supposed to change my diet.

Cheese. No cheese? What?!? Cheese is the gift of life. Unfortunately, it's also the bringer of choloesterol. "Cholesterol concentrate" is the term my doctor used.

*Sigh* So I don't eat cheese.

I lost some weight, which was awesome. But then I started late-night snacking. Vanishing boxes of Ritz and Wheat Thins (but not cheese). The weight came back. Now I have to be "grown up" and stop that crap too.

I'm not going to stop coffee. At least not today.

Posted by: Jack Vinson at August 15, 2012 12:48 PM

Quick follow up from the "David" above: I went a month on a diet with a lot more veggies and a lot less fat and animal protein, and then I went to a "walk in" lab that would do my blood / lipid panel again, and I was a little bummed to find that my HDL and LDL and total cholesterol numbers had ALL gone the wrong way since the testing one month prior. It turns out cholesterol is not a simple linear function.

Posted by: David at August 20, 2012 1:44 PM

The evil cheese monster...

Right now I'm "studying" thermodynamics... There's nothing in my meaty sack of human animal that is yearning "oh, Chris! Just one more equation! It feels so good..."

...but a cheese sandwich sounds nice.

A funny thing happened, though; I was listening to some Philip Glass, and reading, and imagining... And I started to feel more alive. It wasn't Zen. It wasn't a moment of presence. I was, in that moment, a famous statistical chemist - I was a powerful genie who comprehended thermodynamics. I was Maxwell's daemon - opening a tiny trap door in my mind.

Briefly, the thing I didn't want to do... Became the thing that made me powerful. I fed my good cheese monster the cheese of accomplishment, and told that other voice in my head, "you don't get any ham and cheese - you make me feel anxious. And playing settlers of catan on my phone with you isn't fun anymore."

Thanks Ze.

Posted by: Chris English at August 29, 2012 1:07 PM

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