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  • No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Nelson Mandela ‘Long Walk to Freedom’

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

REWARDS

Several years ago, about the time I turned 50, realizing I might have only lived half my life I began to ponder if there might be things I could do to improve and maintain my general health.

I have always been somewhat physically active and I pay attention to what I eat. I don't always follow all the rules I know and learn but I do notice if I am or not.

My weight has stayed almost the same for nearly 20 years. I have believed if I could attain a more healthy weight, somewhat less that I now maintain, that I would be more healthy and able to do many things that are difficult for me at present. Nevertheless, though many strategies of activity and diet have been adhered to, I have seemed stuck on this plateau.

One of my favorite strategies has been to wear chocolate. Let me explain. Since I will wear it under my skin in the form of gained pounds if I indulge too often in too many sweets, chocolate being one of my personal vulnerabilities, I decided that each time I did NOT buy a chocolate bar (or other 'treat' item) that the price of it would go into a 'chocolate' fund.

My chocolate fund is spent on whatever I want whenever I choose- of course I have to have enough to cover the cost of what is purchased. That means I have to save it up. I tally and track it in the banks of my memory allotted to 'pleasure, I am worth it, and reward-me-I-have-been-good'. You have those files in your memory bank - right? If not create them and regularly add to them.

My inclination is generally to use the funds I save for clothes - something nice I wouldn't otherwise get or be able to afford. I can only enter the sum to my fund if I genuinely would have spent the money. I can especially enter the amount if I pick up the item and sometime prior to actually buying it talk myself into putting the price of it in my chocolate fund and leave it in the store.  (Sometimes I buy a smaller chocolate bar and only put in the difference.)

 One time I put back a case of my favorite bars at Costco in Canada knowing I would not be able to purchase any until my next visit to Canada - perhaps months away. I also knew if I bought them I WOULD eat them.I bought one small bar in another store later - and savored every bite of it - but it was only one bar!

chocolate sweater and pants
While shopping that week, yes in Canada, I bought a pair of pants and a sweater that were on sale. My chocolate fund happened to have the price from that case of chocolate bars recently added to it and I did not even feel a twinge of selfishness or frivolousness as I purchased my 'chocolate sweater and pants'. A girlfriend got a good laugh when I told her about this strategy - and took my picture.

A couple years ago, while recovering from a surgery to remove a massive 9x8x15 cm, nonmalignant tumour from my right thigh, I began to seriously consider ways that I might be able to prevent any occurrence of similar problems. I wondered if I have toxins in my environment or diet - or genetics ;). Would it be possible to remove or control risk factors? What might those factors be?

As I ate my hospital lunch I considered the food I had not been able to eat for a couple of days and relished the  food I was consuming. Portions were generous and the University hospital expects patients to order their meals in advance somewhat like a restaurant from an extensive menu. If you want to eat something, just order it and it will be delivered in about 45 minutes.

As I ate I wondered what changes to the things I eat might help my health and if there might be a food I could stop eating to improve my overall health. Immediately there came to mind a single item.  Ice-cream. I knew I could entirely eliminate such an item and not feel hungry or deprived.

I decided to do it.

I stopped eating ice-cream cold turkey, immediately, right there in the hospital. I found I seldom missed it and when I did and seriously considered picking up a carton at the store I often added the cost to my chocolate fund.  Inevitably my husband purchased more ice-cream to replenish his freezer stocks. I fully expected to have to fight with myself a bit to stay out of it. I did not. We had company over for dinner one evening and when I indulged in a single scoop I found I no longer really care for ice-cream.

My weight dropped about 12 pounds that year. It has stayed off for more than a year now. The only change I made in my life was to eliminate that one single food. I think on that a lot and have added another change. I began to walk more. I bought an inexpensive pedometer. I used my chocolate money. I make an effort to get to 3 miles every day. Nothing has changed. I often make it to 5 miles a day now spring is here. I am on another plateau.

I began to wonder what would happen if I gave up some other 'treat' - hmmm - what other change could I make? It would have to be so simple that it required minimal thought AND effort. I am basically lazy. What about chocolate, could I stop eating it? And I would need incentive. How might I reward myself? And if so what rewards might I enjoy as a 'fix'? I decided I will always call my reward funds 'chocolate money'. It is a good reminder.

This spring I am astonished to find that chocolate has 'pushers'. It is almost impossible to avoid chocolate. Why is it in so much food? Seriously - in Chili? That seems a bit excessive and silly! You all constantly have it and offer it and are hurt if I decline it. What? Are we all addicted?

It is amazing how much chocolate I now refuse and in a pinch throw away. Don't be offended. If I ate it wouldn't it still be gone?  I am determined to improve my health. I wasn't able to go cold turkey. I haven't even completely given it up. But I sure eat less of it than previously AND I find I crave it less and less. I AM AN ADDICT!!!! I must admit that much to myself.

Recently I was in an awkward social situation. The solution was to remind my husband he had promised to take me for ice-cream. He actually had promised that ... it is still his poison of choice. I don't remember what I did but he felt it was significant - and it was. We got in the car and went to the local ice-cream shop. I decided that one Tiger ice-cream cone wouldn't matter and it has been years since I relished the delicious orange licorice combination. They didn't have any. We left. He was relieved. He tends to be stunned by the prices of such places. I appreciated his offer though. And next time I see some I intend to enjoy it.


Next we went to the local home improvement store. We bought some plants for the porch and yard. That is almost as good as ice-cream - isn't it? Really it is better. Now I have to increase my activity to include their care. And so does he.

Today I did it again. I had been downtown on an errand. I was really craving something sweet, or salty, or maybe chewy, or even fruit like berries. As I drove along the street I decided where to stop and shop. Suddenly I remembered my resolve to improve my health. At the last possible second I swerved into a different lane and went another direction. Yes I shoulder-checked first. No one was behind me and I did not cause any traffic issues. Could have maybe but didn't!


I drove to the nearest home and garden center. I bought another plant I want. My mother said she lost a significant amount of weight by 'eating less food'. It might work. I am going to try. I wonder what other inducements I can invent. Do you have any you like?




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