It’s said in substance abuse treatment circles that sooner or later everybody relapses. The trick, then, is to get those relapses as far apart as possible, and to let them last the least amount of time possible. So, I have to acknowledge my first relapse, in hopes that I can both end it now and stretch the amount of time between now and the next one. Because while I have no intention of inviting trouble, I also know myself. I know. This will happen again. And perhaps by examining the whys and hows and all the feelings behind it, I will be better prepared to mitigate it next time.
The first thing I am doing is giving myself a break. My dad has been sick – very sick – and running back and forth to the city where they live, to various hospital waiting rooms and recovery rooms and stuffy, cramped rooms and roomier but scarier ICU rooms, and spending the night in the hospital with him, making sure he knew where he was and that he didn’t try to get up, fighting with him over what he was and was not able to do, eating on the run, eating what was there, obviously no time for exercise – all of these things took a toll on my efforts. But I remembered something I had told my therapist a few months ago, when I was new to Weight Watchers and had just given up Diet Coke – I had been in a minor car accident (no one was hurt, thank God) and when we got home and settled, all I could think about was having a Diet Coke and a cookie. But I stopped myself, wondering why I was so willing to let something that was stressful, but ultimately unrelated, take control of my eating/drinking habits as well as my transportation?
So I didn’t. I resisted. I didn’t have a cookie or a Diet Coke, and I went to bed and let sleep help me cope.
The point of this being that I know I am capable of making a better choice. I have an arsenal of things I carry with me to help battle stress. It just seemed to me, in this particular situation, that none of the things in my arsenal were strong enough, nothing would work into my schedule or the logistics of where I was, and all of the things I have been learning to do to deal with stress seemed very selfish in the face of my dad almost dying, maybe not being able to walk again, etc. So, I ate what I wanted to eat, when I wanted to eat it, and exercise was not even an option. I wasn’t able to see, and still can’t really see, where the influence of this situation could end. We’re talking about my dad – how does one define where the stress begins and ends when a loved one is very ill? I just don’t know, but I do know that I need to figure it out, define where my boudaries are, and go into the next crisis, whatever it may be, with a plan.
And now the crisis seems to be over, things are back to the new normal (dad in rehab, improving, getting physical therapy and nursing care), and I have jumped back into Weight Watchers as well as exercise. It takes a little time to totally get my groove back, but it’s coming.
My challenge is this – making myself strong enough that the next time a major stressor appears I can deal with it, without resorting to sugary goodness or cheesy goodness or carby goodness. That I can allow the crisis to affect the appropriate part of my life but not the eating/drinking/exercising part of my life. That I can use tools like cognitive restructuring to talk myself out of feeling selfish for spending time meditating or writing or taking a walk, or allowing myself a good night’s sleep, a bubble bath, a chat on the phone and a quick trip to Goodwill or the used bookstore. Because the fact is, my life is stressful. Life is stressful. No one escapes crises; everyone deals with sick parents or a tough day at work or kids who break ceiling fans and need to be taken to science competitions at 7:00 on a Saturday morning. Everyone moves, changes jobs, worries about money, tires, retirement, and figuring out a good Facebook status. My goal now is to learn to dwell healthily within all that, allowing each piece to have its own appropriate sphere of influence but no more than that.
I will do better next time. I’m doing better now. And don’t we always say, weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint.
I am claiming one victory, however, and that is the fact that I did not drink a drop of Diet Coke, and I haven’t had any since January15.
Take that, stress!!
(PS, yesterday was day 3 of no sugar, no fried, extra veggies and my sugar cravings have already abated. So, maybe getting back on the wagon gets easier over time?!)