What I’ve Lost – 1 of 3

Writing 101 – Today’s Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

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Loss is not necessarily a bad thing. Often it is not until after you have lost something that you realize how that thing really impacted your life. Even if the loss was beneficial, that does not mean it was pain free and doesn’t hurt from time to time. This post’s loss started as a fling and ended up being an 18 year relationship with many ups and downs. This relationship cost me dearly and felt abusive at times.

As the picture suggests, my relationship was with cigarettes. As of tomorrow the 10th, I will be nicotine free for 4 months. Do I still miss it? Sadly yes. Was it hard to quit? F-ing yes it was. Did I think I would actually be able to quit? Day to day, no, but as time passed, yes.

Anyone who has never dealt with an addiction may not completely understand the difficulty in quitting. Therefore I’m try to explain the relationship I had with smoking and its place in my life for so long. Before I start, a word of warning for anyone out there reading this: Never Start Smoking! Trust me it is not worth it.

In the Beginning There was a Woman and a Car Accident

Back in the innocent days of the late 1990s I found myself in an unexpected relationship with a woman way out of my league. It is the summer of 1996, in the final months before my senior year.  After a junior year party and the junior prom I started dating hanging out with a senior, we’ll call her K.

I thought she was one of the coolest women I’d ever met and the fact that she was interested in me made her all that much cooler. So that summer when we started dating I fell pretty hard. She was getting ready for college and enjoying her last summer of freedom. Not wanting to appear un-cool and unworthy of her time I made the idiotic decision to try smoking. If she did it and appeared to enjoy it, I wanted to do it to. Even if I had spent years telling myself I wouldn’t smoke like my parents did.

Come August, she ends up giving me mono and strep throat at the same time she breaks up with me. I end up laid out for weeks and stop smoking. I’m smart enough not to pick it back up even though all my friends smoked. I even manage to find myself a new girlfriend.

Things were looking up. Then an elderly gentlemen runs a red light one cool October evening.

I was driving my girlfriend to a min-golf course to meet up with friends. Going through a lighted intersection my car is struck on the driver’s side door. Luckily we are not struck by any other vehicles and I’m able to pull over to the side of the road.

My heart was thumping in my chest and anger simmered just below the surface as I listened to a cop try to tell me it was my fault.  After the whole ordeal I needed to relax and ended up buying cigarettes. And from that day on, I didn’t go more than 5 days without smoking for 18 long years.

What I Got From Smoking

From that night so many years ago until last December, smoking became my go to for dealing with stress and moments I didn’t want to be around. The nicotine did its number on my system, and I won’t lie and say I didn’t enjoy that part of it. Truthfully though it was the action that held the most power over me.

I would use smoking as an excuse to go outside away from everyone. I’d light that cigarette and stand there breathing deep the smoke. That deep breathing and exhaling could have been done without the cigs, but I didn’t know that at the time.

Through a tumultuous 15 year relationship, the birth of two children, a divorce, a suicide in the family, death, job loss, going back to school in my late 20’s, and many other ups and downs, there was one constant. I could always count on cigarettes to be there for me without judging me.

Besides getting dressed and going to the bathroom, the first thing I did every morning was smoke a cigarette. After every meal, I’d smoke. After a show or movie was over, I’d have a cigarette. I couldn’t go to sleep without having one last cigarette just before I went to bed. On average I’d smoke between 1 and 2 packs a day. While I didn’t like paying for them I handed over thousands of dollars at the register and got to know the local gas station clerks pretty well.

All in all, part of me knew I had to end my relationship with cigarettes, but I loved them too much to be serious about it. I still loved them even as I decided that I needed to get my health under control or I’d miss seeing my kids get married and have kids of their own.

I know its not over and I’ll be tempted for years to come, but as the days come and go and I’m still not smoking I feel confident I’ll make it.

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Taking the Train – Mental Health

Day 2 of Writing 101:

“If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?”

Ignoring the sciency (is that even a word, if not spellcheck, it is now) warning that going the speed of light is dangerous for your health and still wouldn’t get you very far out of our solar system very fast, how cool would it be to be able to go that fast. I’m going to leave the logistics of proving Mr. Einstein write or wrong to people smarter than I and instead focus on the location part of the prompt.

A little backstory to this post. The past few days I’ve been trying to figure out how I could incorporate meditation into my daily routine. I used to practice it years ago and really enjoyed it and feel it would be beneficial to start it up again. My form of meditation was what worked for me and may not work for others of course. I always looked at it as a journey, therefore I’ll take you along for a ride by describing the mental images and thought process of my meditation.

Taking the Train

You find yourself sitting on the dusty wooden floor of a train car. You feel the hum and vibration in the seat of your pants as you race over the tracks. The click/clack sounds begin to fade into background white noise as you stare out the open sliding door and watch the country side speed past.

Unbidden thoughts try to invade the zone you find yourself in. Instead of giving into the busy chaos of your brain you hold open your hand before your face. When a thought surfaces you squeeze it down out of your mind and blow it out your mouth in a deep breath. You catch the thought in your hand. Staring at it you can’t help but realize that the little bugger is not as important or defining as it seemed in your mind.

You blow the thought out the door like blowing a kiss to a loved one and fall deeper down the rabbit hole of relaxation. One by one dozens of thoughts are purged and you find yourself centered and just feeling the world around yourself. The subtle weight of your own limbs pulls at your body pulling your focus inward. You begin searching for your core truths, tossing your self-immolating lies out the train door. Eventually you hear the brakes squeak and your weight shift. Time to get off the train.

Today’s journey is short, only a few minutes. Tomorrow’s will be longer. And with each trip you will reach new heights of awareness.


I usually chose a train as the mental setting of my meditation because it serves as an easy way to trick my brain into ignoring the sounds around myself. If you’ve ever tried to sit still and clear your mind you can relate with how much background noise we all deal with every day. I also liked the idea of being able to throw undesirable thoughts away. I have other locations I’ve used and may post about them another day. If you meditate I’d love to hear what techniques you use to trick your mind.

Stream Of Consciousness

I signed up for a prompt event this month. This is the first post of 20 that I will being doing as part of this event.  I will try to tailor the prompts given to me towards the purpose of this blog.  Today’s prompt is to do a 20 minute free writing exercise and post to my blog.  20 minutes feels daunting now nearly as much as it appears when I’m beginning 20 minutes on an elliptical machine.

So how do I do this successfully and try to make it interesting to read?  Talk about that all fun issue, starting over.  After this weekends holiday, I need to start over for the week. I ate way too much, didn’t have any physical activity, and only the fact that I didn’t drink any soda keeps it from feeling like a losing effort on my part.

Of course, like everyone else, I need to not beat myself up too much when this happens. Holidays are notorious diet/exercise killers.  How do you get back on the right side of the ledger afterwards? One small step. Decide you are going to start over whatever came before has no bearing on what you do going forwards.

I made that commitment to myself this morning. I will eat properly, go to the gym, and not look at the scale for a few days.  Looking at the scale gives credence to any weight I put on over two days of family feasts.  Instead I’ll do what I’m supposed to do and let my diet and exercise get me on the right track.

So what’s the plan for today? Decent breakfast, still didn’t quite nail it on a higher caloric/protein breakfast but it will have to do. solid lunch, a planned dinner with meat, fruits, and vegetables. 1 to 1.5 hours at the gym tonight. Weights, weights, weights. Sandwiched in-between a mile walking on the track and a mile plus on an elliptical machine.  Hopefully I can get it done before the Badgers’ NCAA championship game tonight. Go Bucky!

All throughout I need to get back on track with my water intake. I had 12 cups of water total over Saturday and Sunday this weekend. I’ve already gotten my morning 3 cups and 1 cup of coffee out of the way. Only 8 more cups to hit my goal for the day. I’m focusing on the water because I noticied a difference after not drinking what I needed to the past two days. I had inklings of headaches, was tired, was hungry consistently, and really craved sweets.

(Looking at the clock I’ve got 3 minutes left on my timer, and I’m freaking out about finishing)

After making the commitment this morning I felt eager to hit the gym.  I’m still new to weightlifting but I can’t wait to push myself to steady and stable improvements.

The biggest thing I hope to learn and the biggest accomplishment of this week will be that holidays are only a temporary setback if I let them be. With summer barbeques and family reunions and birthdays on the horizon, that will be valuable for my mindset.

Whew, 20 minutes down. Ugly post but I did it.

The Event

 


Quick edit note, this was my 10th post on this blog. Woo-hoo, its a good start.

10th Post

Get Healthy With Breakfast

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I am not a morning person. If possible, I wish my day could start at noon. Sadly that’s not my life, so up before the sun rises is the day to day occurrence. Along with not being a morning person is the fact that I’m not much of a breakfast easter.

Don’t get me wrong, I like breakfast foods. I usually eat them at dinner time instead. A lifetime of not eating breakfast had made it extremely difficult to be good about eating it on a regular basis.

Now that I’m trying to get healthy, and stay that way, in having to take a deep look at my eating habits. And here is the ugly trend I’ve found.

If I eat a small breakfast, each subsequent meal doubles in size from the previous meal. So if my breakfast is 250 calories, on average my dinner is 1000 calories. If I want too keep to a 1500 calorie diet I need to do better in the mornings.

Goal for tomorrow: come up with a plan for quick and filling breakfast ideas.

Late Day+Long Drive+Light Lunch=Poor Dinner

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I had done well on lunch, not so well on breakfast, then the day conspired against me. In not going to gripe about life, it happens to us all. Instead I’ll say I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.

I tend to let stress get to me. When stressed I just want to relax. When I relax I enjoy eating junk. Combine stress with my still infantile grasp of healthy eating and I’m ripe for a bad night.

I chose to eat salad today along with fruit. Apparently I didn’t have enough protein or something today so by the time I got home I was starving. Even though I had 130 oz of water today, I was still hungry. Needless to say but I’ll say it anyways; I overate and regret my choices.

To top it off, due to scheduling I can’t go to the gym. So my eating carries a double punch.

Today’s lesson, find foods that carry over well from one meal to the next. Off to the internet I go.

Water you going to do about it?

Trust me. I hate that title too. I just couldn’t help myself. For the past 19 years I’ve drunk more soda on a daily basis than I did water. I’m amazed my kidneys have not failed yet.

Last night I had an epiphany: maybe if I drank more water than soda I could save my kidneys and maybe just lose some weight along the way. I know right? What a breakthrough. Therefore I went to the store and found myself a nice reusable water bottle.

My next step was to figure out how much water I’m supposed to drink every day. My high school health teacher, not to mention my nurse girlfriend, would be so disappointed that I don’t know how much. Like every other good nerd off to the internet I headed.

According to Web-MD I am supposed to drink 64oz or 8 cups of water a day. Considering at my worst I was drinking 90-100oz of soda every day, I need to make some changes. First is to try and limit my soda intake. “Why don’t you just cut out soda entirely? ” I’m sure you’re asking. I would say, “why don’t you stop breathing?”

This is going to have to be a slow change or I am liable to go berserk on everyone in my life. So my goal is to get down to 20-30oz of soda a day, less if I have coffee. At the same time I need to drink more water. The hope being if I keep my belly full of water I won’t feel the need to snack throughout the day.

According to Live Strong I should be consuming 125oz of fluids a day to maintain hydration. More with heavy exertion. I’ve also heard that to lose weight a good rule of thumb is to divide your weight and drink that many oz a day. For me that would be 105oz of water. That’s a big jump from the less than 30oz a day I am used to.

So, if you’ve read the About section you’ll have seen that I have dietary changes to make as well as losing weight. I won’t lie, I do feel a bit overwhelmed but I am going to press forward. My water goal will be 124 oz a day. That amounts to filling and emptying my new bottle 5 times a day.

If I narrow my thinking to just needing to drink 5 bottles of water; it feels a bit less daunting than 41 cups. I’ll try to keep track and update my progress in my twitter stream.

Again sorry for the cheesy title.