Alcoholism #5

This continues my story with alcoholism.  Past posts here: https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/06/13/alcoholism-1/      https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/08/04/alcoholism-2/ https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/alcoholism-3/  https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/09/29/alcoholism-4/

 

So I finally had enough.  For whatever reason, something snapped and I accepted that it would be best if I just stopped drinking, at least for the time being.

Significant lifestyle changes took place.  I stopped hanging out with friends (my shame still kept me from telling anyone, so I figured it would be easier just to avoid the situation).  I threw myself into work completely, with maybe a video game on the side just to completely fill up my time.

I went back to the military mental health treatment.  I didn’t go specifically for their alcohol program because I thought that would flag me and I hated that program, but I went under general “reacclimation” concerns.  The psychologist was nice about it, and didn’t flag anything.  That lasted for a couple months and seemed to get me through the initial hurdle.  Then she ended up getting sent somewhere and they wanted to switch doctors on me, so I figured that was enough of that.

Guilt still plagued me, I had to tell my commander about everything.  I started with another senior officer who I trusted, literally crying in his office about it.  He was very considerate and supported me.  I soon had a meeting with my commander.  That went a bit better, I laid out everything, how I felt like I was a sham, how I had been drinking and didn’t feel I was living up to the standards of an officer etc. and how I was now quitting alcohol to try to at least be on the right foot.  He also was very supportive, saying he wished he knew sooner so he could have helped, but that he was proud of me.  He got up and gave me a hug.  It was a moment I took to heart, how you should care for your troops.

I kept my job, motivated more than ever to do well and stay sober.  I spoke about my troubles often, both as a way to show others it’s ok to reach out for help and to keep myself personally accountable.  It was still hard to talk to people close to me.  Some close friends, particularly those that I had been drinking buddies with, I just couldn’t get around to it.  Finally I told my brother, blurting it all out as he was driving me back to the airport after a holiday vacation.  He seemed a little stunned, but supportive.  Later, when I thanked him over the phone for listening, he replied in typical brotherly fashion, “well you didn’t give me much choice!”

My life has changed, if not full acceptance, at least a begrudging equilibrium

two years now, still sober

-dmitri

Eating Healthy

This is a self-improvement post.  See all here: https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/self-improvement/

Few things are more important to your overall well-being and happiness than what you put into your body.  The food you eat has such a large impact on everything from energy levels, mood, self-image, disease resistance, physical and mental performance and sex drive.  Unfortunately diet is also one of the most neglected and misunderstood behavioral traits in the US.

When I was in college as well as a workforce member, I lived off fast food.  In retrospect, I have no idea how I did it.  Literally my early 20s, when I should have been at peak performance, I was at my unhealthiest and it was all due to diet.  I worked out a ton, but I just couldn’t resist taco bell, subway, or McDonalds whenever I got that craving.  It showed in my performance.  I had issues sleeping, less self-confidence, and an inability to maintain focus for a sustained period of time.

Eventually the military did some things to help me clean up my diet.  I deployed, which switched up my routines, and showed me the importance of eating in a way to make sure I had enough energy for the whole day.  When I came back, I was off the fast food wagon, although I promptly fell onto the binge drinking/partying wagon.  It took a bit, but the military eventually forced me to give up that habit also.   The last major piece was finding a food I could make myself easily and cheaply.  That was solved when I found quinoa.

I can now say that I’m close to my healthiest I’ve ever been.  Which is critical, because I probably have the most mentally demanding job that I ever had.  Really, I owe a lot of my work performance to my diet.  And the fact that I mentally make that connection helps me stay disciplined with my diet.

Another big factor is the people you have in your life.  My father was always an outstanding role model when it came to health.  It was a pretty big motivator when you’re in your 20s and your dad who’s in his 50s is more cut than you are.  He’s now moved to be a full-fledged vegan for heart health reasons, and he’s still as active and energetic as he has he’s ever been.

For folks who are trying to improve their diets I can offer some advice.  Look at it as a permanent lifestyle change, not a temporary thing to lose weight.  Take it slow and make gradual changes that you can accept.  Focus on eating right, not eating less.  Educate yourself on nutrition, there are plenty of great resources out there.  Finally, get in the habit of looking at food labels.  Just try to understand what you are putting into your body.  One nice website is fooducate.com – you can search for any food and bring a report on it’s healthiness.  Sometimes things that are marketed as healthy really aren’t.

Finally, I have very little willpower when it comes to food.  I know this, so I avoid putting myself in situations where I will be tempted.  I don’t keep snacks where I live, and I make sure I eat plenty of healthy food, so I’m not tempted to eat that donut at work.

 

~dmitri

 

Passion #4

This is a continuation of one of my experiences with passion.  For earlier parts see here:

https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/07/20/passion-1/  https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/passion-2/ https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/passion-3/

 

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Well, her mom thought I was an outstanding match for her daughter!  I had sent her my linked-in as pretty much the only thing I could think of to show her my value, and I guess she saw enough that she liked.  job, check.  We ended up talking on the phone.  I was very open and even told her about my past issues with alcohol (which I haven’t even told my own mother about).  She seemed to think that was ok, and that I was “perfect” for her daughter, her daughter just had some past issues and was unsure of things.  She said she would guide her daughter to make the right decision.

Well, I wasn’t completely convinced, and I certainly didn’t want an overbearing mom forcing a situation on someone, doesn’t exactly breed success in a relationship.  I had reached out to her in a fit of passion, but maybe I hadn’t really thought things through?  Still, I was desperate to see if something could work.

A little bit of time passed and her mother and I stayed in touch via text.  I still didn’t hear from my love interest.  Thanksgiving was coming up, and mom said she would see her daughter over thanksgiving and talk to her then.  Well, quickly I saw scenes of a fight breaking out over me, and that’s not what I wanted to happen.  I wrote up an email, detailing my feelings and trying to make it clear I didn’t want anything forced.  Her mom agreed, and said her plan was just to show her daughter my original email and let her take things from there.

I was on leave at my sister’s having an outstanding (parent free) Thanksgiving with all my siblings.  Suddenly my phone buzzed, and I received a text out of the blue.  It was her!  She said her mom told her about me and she was willing to talk, but we had to be friends first.  My heart skipped a beat, but soon we started exchanging friendly texts the rest of the weekend.  I kept in touch with her mom too, who said it had been an easy sell.  It was certainly a pleasant thanksgiving surprise.

However, we hadn’t even talked yet, just texting.  (For the record I hate texting)  Eventually the weekend ended.  We had made some tentative plans to workout together, and start hanging out as friends.  I was at the airport on my way home when suddenly I got a text.   It was the old, “I think you’re nice but… ”

bitch.

 

 

 

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Continued here: https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/passion-5/

 

 

The Power of Habit

For whatever reason I am very habit driven.  I recognize this and have learned to work within it.  Clearly there are some questionable habits or addictions in my life, such as alcohol, but there are also good ones, such as exercising.

A useful book on this topic is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.  It lays out why we form habits and why they are generally beneficial.  They basically allow the mind to make sense of the world around it when being overwhelmed with information.  It’s a book worth checking out.

The book outlines a technique for breaking habits.  If you want to break a bad habit, you need to replace it with a good habit that has a similar mental hook.  It is a lot easier for the mind to switch to a new similar habit than quit a habit.  I just recently did an experiment on myself trying this.  I’ve always drank a lot of diet coke, and I mean a lot.  It wasn’t just the caffeine addiction, but it was a pretty ingrained habit to seek a can whenever I was slightly thirsty.  Well, not to debate the health reasons, but I just wanted to stop.  Instead of quitting cold turkey (which I have tried to do before), this time I’ve chosen to replace the diet coke with unsweetened sparkling water.  I still get the sense of opening a can, the carbonation, but it’s cheaper and far fewer chemicals going into my body.  So far it’s been going well, just a little over a month and a half, and I’ve noticed my cravings for diet coke are now cravings for sparkling water.  I am now pounding the sparkling water, but I am ok with that.

Are there habits that you have that could be modified?  Doesn’t have to be something serious, but the book might be worth your read.