It’s beginning to be very clear that I started a progression in May when I began trying to take off the excessive weight I had gained. I guess that somewhere in me I knew that if I just started to reach for one piece of one goal (good health) and actually stuck with it for awhile, believed in it, that the path to the others would naturally unfold in front of me. I just needed to have a little help and a little faith that it wouldn’t be as hard as it seemed. I mean, people get over heroin addictions, right? Or Meth. Or alcoholism. Or smoking cigs for 33 years (seriously, if my mom can quit smoking after that long, I should be able to, right?!).
It has been amazing how one piece of one goal leads to another piece. When I haven’t been trying to do everything all at once, and have just been focusing on one thing at a time, it has been so much easier to move right from one thing to another. I started with weight-loss and food issues because that is the hardest and most long-term health issue I’ve had. I have had an eating disorder of one kind or another for my entire life.
After five months of having my eating issues under control, the decision to quit drinking came very naturally to me. I didn’t need to force it because I had learned through dealing with my eating issues that alcohol is escapism for me. It was also a major contributor to the weight gain, and a major detractor from spending my time in a meaningful manner. Alcohol was a much more minor addiction for me than food. In fact, I think that alcohol itself isn’t an addiction for me at all; it is a secondary addiction (which I’ll go deeper into in a later post).
After six months of having my eating issues under control, and three weeks of being a non-drinker, continuing to smoke cigarettes was just seeming silly. There was nothing really satisfying about it anymore. It was just putting a dimmer on my other accomplishments. By all accounts my body should have been feeling a lot better minus the bad eating habits and the drinking. But I still felt like crap thanks to smoking: swollen sinuses, shortness of breath, fatigue, etc. I realized that I was only continuing to do it out of fear. If I was able to stop using food like a drug, and to stop drinking as escapism, what was I scared of? I know I can do this. I am doing it.
It is true that elements of all the health changes I’ve made have been difficult (I plan to write about some of my challenges, learnings, and experiences here over the next week or so). But they haven’t been nearly as bad as I made them in my mind during the years (years! Sad.) when I had so much trouble just getting started. The surprising part is that the gains from making one change have been so exponential. Once you start to feel good again (or, maybe even for the first time!), you actually want to do more stuff that will make you feel better – even if it’s stuff that seemed impossible before. Weird, right?
I know this sounds so cliché. It sounded that way to me for a long time. But seriously: just start. It does get easy eventually!