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The All or Nothing Lifestyle, Examined

Finally, after much procrastination, I follow up on my previous post, The All or Nothing Lifestyle, Defined.  Hit that link if you need some backdrop!


So where last we left off I was to go quietly to the top of a mountain and meditate on what perceived benefits I gain from living my life with no balance.  Did not quite get to the mountain, as end-of-school-year events abounded, but dammit, I made a commitment to follow through on this, so I’m following through!  I just re-read back through that post myself, and methinks I need the aid of a therapist to truly work through some of these issues, but what the hell, here we go.  In no particular order, here are some thoughts on why I continue to live the all-or-nothing lifestyle:

1.  The first thought that jumped into my mind as I considered the gains of the all-or-nothing lifestyle is the exhilaration I feel when I am in my “all” state.  Easiest example of this is diet and exercise, and I’m sure everyone can relate to that feeling, when you just had a banner day:  ate healthfully, avoided temptation, and managed a strenuous workout.  It’s such an intense feeling of pride, and it definitely falls into the “plus” column of my current behavior.


2.  The next thought that came almost as quickly to my mind is, for the most part, this mindset allows me to set low expectations for myself, and by low expectations I mean almost no expectations.  Prime example of this concept relates, once again, back to fitness, and this is the God’s honest truth:  every time I fall off the fitness wagon, the thought that motivates me the most in getting back on is the idea that I only have to do a little each day.  If that is seriously motivating, then its no wonder why I habitually fall off the fitness wagon:  I get to the point where exercise takes real time and real effort, so all I have to do is give up, then I can start over at square one. This thought process may make sense to no one in this universe but me, and it’s actually embarrassing to admit, but it’s true, and it’s been a perpetual cycle for me for as long as I can remember.

As I consider it, this mindset is not exclusive to the fitness arena.  If I have been criticized for the way I perform a task, my default is “then you do it.”  Obviously there is some pride thrown in there, but really, isn’t just the all or nothing thinking at work?  If I can’t do a job the best, then I’ll leave it for someone else to do.  The gain in this case is, well, not having to do whatever task it is!  I have been mocked often (and rightfully so) for my lack of navigational sense (I truly don’t know how I left the house before the GPS was invented).  As a result, I make zero effort to cultivate this skill.  If I am with someone who knows better (and, at this point, a 3-year old toddler would count as one who knows better), I leave all directional decisions up to him or her.


3.  Maybe this point should be first, and God knows I have no concrete evidence of this, but this behavior seems ingrained.  There have been numerous tales of my excitable personality from my youth (I was about 6 years old when I was asked to put my tongue on the table so that it would stop talking, and I did it ) that lead me to conclude I have been an “all in” person forever, so it would follow that the benefit to the current behavior is that it is easy, it is what I’m used to doing, and it’s easier to go with the existing groove in the wood than to make a new groove.


4.  There is certainly an ego component to this behavior.  If I’m in the “all” state, then I’m full of pride (see point #1).  If I’m in the “nothing” state, then it’s ego in reverse:  if I can’t play my way, then I’m picking up my ball and going home.  Just writing this very post is unnatural, as I’m venturing into mental territory that is entirely new to me, so my instincts are screaming to back away from this issue, that since I don’t know what I’m talking about, I should leave the topic alone.  Luckily, the idea of leaving that last post unfinished is more distasteful to me than risking sounding foolish, or this post would never get finished.


5.  I suppose that there is some entertainment value to this behavior, and I do enjoy giving people entertainment.  You will only see me dancing at an event when I am all over the dance floor, I won’t be the one half-heartedly shuffling back and forth.  If I’m not doing it for entertainment, then I won’t do it at all.   Conversely, when I am not good at something, I am loudly and boisterously regaling people of how terrible I am at a given task.  So either way, I am enjoying notoriety.


So there you have it.  I have to say it:  this post was the mental equivalent to racing that 5K a few weeks ago, and I’m sure there is more digging to be done.  For anyone that can relate to this mindset, I’d love to hear from you:  what are some gains that you experience?  What have I missed?  I’m guessing that if I understood the motivation than I would be better equipped to change the behavior.  Let me know what you think!


Today’s Miracle:

For sure, hitting publish on this albatross of a post is a miracle!





Honesty, Hypocrisy & Me

I am a hypocrite.

Countless times, I have had the conversation with my children, the conversation that follows a mistake made by them, a bad decision, a poor judgment.  The main point of the conversation is simple:  a mistake has been made, crying and bemoaning the mistake only makes a bad situation worse.  You can’t un-ring the bell.  What you can do is learn from it, and do your best not to repeat it.

Countless times, I engaged in the behaviors associated with active addiction.  At a certain point in time, I became consciously aware that my behavior was wrong on every level, but I repeated the mistake, time and again.  I tried to correct the mistake, and fell down more times than I can count.  In my heart of hearts, though, I had an unshakeable belief that there was a solution.  For a long time, I was unclear on what that solution was, but deep in my heart I knew it was there.  And, by the grace of God, it became clear to me just two short years ago, and I have thanked Him for it every day since that time.

Here is where the admission of hypocrisy begins.  For the past two days, I have been soul-searching in a way I haven’t soul searched in a long time.  It started innocently enough:  my husband and I have planned a trip to celebrate a milestone birthday for him, and a milestone anniversary for us, both taking place this year.  The trip is set for six weeks from now, and will take place on an island, something to anticipate, given the miles of snow I see outside my window currently.  But of course this leads me to the conclusion that I need to get myself in gear, both in terms of diet and exercise, both disciplines that have been abandoned for quite some time now.

The simple “what can I do to improve myself in 6 weeks” has morphed into such an abyss of despair and hand-wringing anxiety, I knew I needed to write about it.  For the first 24 hours, I was sure I would NOT write about it:  nobody wants to hear me blather on yet again about jumping back into the healthy lifestyle ring, it is not original, or interesting, or relevant.

And yet…

The feelings that rose within me as I attempted to complete the task with which I challenged myself, simply come up with a plan to improve my lifestyle in 6 weeks, the feelings were so similar to those I experienced in early recovery, that I figured I must flesh them out with my blogging friends.

At the heart of all those feeling, the single, most gut-wrenching emotion I experienced, was one of despair, and the voice of despair was so clear it was as if a person was standing alongside of me saying the words out loud,

“There is no way you will ever make this work.  You have tried and failed at this endeavor your whole life; there is no hope to turn it around.”

I am sure many of you reading this will relate to those words, anyone familiar with addiction has felt the despair that comes with repeatedly trying and failing.

And it is in admitting this despair that I am also confessing my hypocrisy.  I can (and have) preached to all those around me, that tomorrow is a new day, that it is not about how many times you fall that counts, but how many times you get back up, but in my heart I make an exception, and the exception is me, and healthy eating.  I’ve done lots of great things in my life, have many accomplishments of which I am proud, and believe myself capable of almost anything I set my mind to… except this.

So I’m a hypocrite, because I simply don’t practice what I preach.  I am a terminally unique individual when it comes to eating.

And I guess this is why I needed to write about it, because I am rolling my eyes even as I type those last lines.

This is why blogging about the garbage rolling around in the brain helps so much.  Because, as God as my witness, I was crying earlier this very day, as I realized this is how I have been thinking.

So now that I’ve gotten the self-pity out of my system, and I have exposed my deepest fears to the light of day, I guess it’s time to take some action.

A wise person suggested to me that I treat this problem in a similar way that I did my recovery.  In recovery, I made sure I did 4 things every day to count that day as a success.  Four was an easy to do list, easy to remember, and easy with which to commit.

So for now, I am working on my daily 4 list as it relates to this form of recovery.  I have identified the 4 food items that pose the greatest danger to me, and it is my goal to eliminate them.  To do that, I am committing to simple daily actions, all designed to eliminate the addictive food items.  There is still much work to be done, in terms of coming up with an eating routine that is healthy and sustainable, but for now I will consider this a great start, certainly leaps and bounds beyond anything I have done in recent memory.

The list is somewhat generic, and I have no doubt will need to be tweaked in the days that follow, but in writing about it, I am giving myself some accountability.  I will work on it, daily, make the necessary adjustments, but I am clear on my one, ultimate goal:  to reset my relationship with myself, to work towards creating a healthy mindset when it comes to treating my body.  I’ve gotten the mind-altering substances out of my system, now it’s time to start putting something healthy and life-affirming back into it.  It feels as daunting a task as making sobriety a reality, but at least I have some tools to help me:

  • One Day at a Time
  • Sharing the burden of my negative feelings
  • Allowing others to help me
  • And, most important,turning it over to a power greater than myself

Because, if He can get me sober, He can do anything!

I will let you know how it goes…

Today’s Miracle:

Having the courage to hit “publish” on this post

losing anonymously

Learning to balance healthy and happy while living a full and busy life!

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