The reason I am chronicling this is so I can look back and see what it took to quit. My weight loss is on track so there’s not much to write about that. I’m down another half pound and that’s slower than it has been but that’s fine with me. My main goal right now is to quit smoking. I just went over twenty-four hours without any nicotine at all and I am proud of that. I only had one little blow up and it wasn’t at anyone, I was alone and lost it just a little bit.
The secret to quitting is that it really isn’t hard, you just have to be vigilant. This morning I wasn’t. I had some asshead pull out of a parking lot in to traffic and almost hit me. It was morning traffic on Clay Rd. and if you’ve ever driven that you know I didn’t have many options on avoiding an accident. In fact I can’t tell you how I managed it. There wasn’t any room to swerve in the left lane without hitting someone and I didn’t think the other car could stop but lo and behold they did. The accident was avoided by inches. Afterwards I was shaking with rage and adrenaline so I bought smokes. I fell in to the old habit, which is harder to break than the nicotine addiction. Now I’ve got to start over. I’ll be starting over tonight, with my next last cigarette being the one I smoke before I go to sleep. I could have handled the stress this morning if I had been on top of my game and kept my thoughts in the right place but I didn’t.
The upshot is that I now know another situation to look for so I can keep these things in the front of my mind. I had fallen in to the ease of quitting and let my subconscious take over and I never even thought about it until I had one of those nasty things hanging out of my mouth. That’s the real trap, the physical habits, and damn if it didn’t get me.
You may be wondering why I say escaping the slavery of nicotine is easy, even after I failed to do so, and I can explain. All day yesterday my mind told me I needed a cigarette, it did this every few minutes. I simply reminded myself that I didn’t actually need one and that the little bit of stress I felt was the addiction and it really didn’t add much stress to anything and in a few days even that would be gone. I wasn’t bored any more than normal and I wasn’t freaking out. I didn’t need a smoke then and I didn’t need one this morning when I caved. Caving is a failure on my part that I can fix. I will free of this slavery and I will not give up.
You may be wondering why I am waiting to stop until tonight. For me that’s a pretty big deal, it’s a departure from how I do things. I have a weird quirk where I like to start things on Mondays. For me this is important enough to forego that quirk and stop tonight. However I know enough about myself that if I did it right now I would likely fail again today and that’s a lot of not being successful for one day. So I will chalk this morning up to not being on top of my game, get my mental state in order, and smoke my last cigarette tonight before I go to sleep and wake up tomorrow a non-smoker, like I was yesterday.
I’m mostly posting this for me right now, writing it all down helps me work through the why and how of all of this. Of course if it helps someone else that’s never a bad thing. We’ve got a big weekend planned, at least a big Saturday, and I won’t be smoking through any of it. I will escape this slavery to nicotine and I will not give up until I have done so. I deserve better and everyone around me deserves better.
At least that’s how I’m feeling at the moment. I keep getting up to go outside and smoke, only I’m not doing that anymore. I caught up with just about everything on Thursday so I wouldn’t feel stressed today at work and now it seems like that’s making more stressed because I don’t have much to do. Sure I could go take a pull or two on the e-cig but I don’t think it’s the nicotine I want right now. I just want something to do, but I know if I find something that I won’t want that thing to do. At least this only lasts a little while from what I hear.
I was going to write about how this picture demonstrates what’s wrong with the cops today:
but I can’t really be bothered. You see it was posted on Police One’s FB page. That’s a website for law enforcement officers and their families. Right now, in my head, if you can’t see what’s wrong with that picture then I don’t think my explanation will make any difference at all so I won’t even bother. I’m not exactly in a mood where I give humanity the benefit of the doubt. I’m just going to sign off before I turn this in to a rant about how a cop even considering posting that picture, much less actually posting it, in the context of current events, shows more about what’s wrong with our society than just about anything else I can think of.
So I haven’t mentioned something that I’ve been worried about. You see I’m a fat bastard that used to eat like so many other fat bastards. At one point in my life there was a Shell filling station on the way to work that had a 64 oz refillable cup. I bought on and would fill it with Mountain Dew on the way to work, again at lunch, and on the way home. No ice mind you, I wouldn’t be getting my money’s worth that way. Yes children, I drank a gallon and a half of Mountain Dew a day for the better part of six months. While that’s fifteen years in the past it serves as an example of the excesses I allowed myself.
What I’ve been worried about is Diabetes. You see it runs in my family, type 2 that is, and being a fat bastard puts me at pretty high risk for it. So over the past few days I’ve been testing my blood sugar. I’ve dipped a a couple of points lower than I’d like but I haven’t been over 120 at the magic two hours after eating mark. No this isn’t a fasting glucose test, it probably wouldn’t convince a doctor, but I’m not worried. The fluctuations are within the tolerances for normal and happen at the right times after eating. And I am allergic to giving money to doctors, I mean, I will if I need to but this seemed so simple since a coworker has a testing kit and made the offer.
I’ve finally started walking again, not enough to annoy certain people on Facebook but enough that it’s making a difference. I have to keep that up because one of my friends has just quit smoking and I plan on following in her path. She’s inspired me in much the same way I was inspired to lose weight after seeing someone else do it. Quitting smoking is technically easier than losing weight. There’s nothing to count and all I have to do is never pick up a cigarette again. I am wracked with fear about it. It’s part of my life for so long that I can’t imagine being without it. All of that is even though I hate the habit. It stinks, it robs me of my wind, it makes food bland, and a plethora of other things, not the least of which being the cardiovascular disease risk. Yeah, that runs in my family as well.
I have a three day weekend, as I do every other week, and I am going to lay them down, for what I hope is the last time, on Thursday night. I will smoke my last before bed cigarette and wake up smoke free. I know it’s possible. I can rattle off myriad friends who have done it and stayed quit. All I have to conquer is my own fear. I’ve come close a couple of times but never succeeded. This is the second most important thing to me, outside of losing weight, on the list of changes I want to make. Part of the reason I’m doing it now is because I know I can lose any weight I gain, if I do gain, during the process. That was my biggest fear, going from fat bastard to Jabba The Hut, and I can fix that now.
So if you’re the praying sort, say one for little old me, I’ll likely need it. On second thought, save that and say one for the family that’s going to deal with my quitting for the next couple of weeks. Every last one of them is supportive but I’m scared that I’m going to a real asshole for a bit. In fact that’s pretty likely but the pay off for putting up with it is they get have me around for a couple of extra decades, if I’m lucky. This may turn out to be a bigger change than losing weight and it may turn out to be easier than I thought. And no, I’m not switching to vaping, using gum, patches, or anything of the sort. I am quitting nicotine for good, period, cold turkey.
I am starting to get a decent amount of questions about my weight loss. I find this a little strange because I’ve not made a secret about any of it and most of the people that ask are people that have even commented on some of my FB posts. I pretty much say the same thing every time: “I eat less calories than I expend”. What people don’t seem to grasp is that I’m not dieting. You see there’s no magic bullet to take off weight and keep it off. If you want to lose weight and keep it off then you have to change how you live. If you want to eat the diet to which you are accustomed and not be a fat bastard like, then you have have to eat less of the same things. If you want to swap out some of the beef in your diet for fish and chicken then you can eat a little more. The trick is that this is a change you’ll want to keep around. You cannot cut weight and then go back to eating like you did before losing the weight and expect to keep it off.
Diets can help you lose weight and sometimes rapidly but the trick is keeping that weight off and the only way to do that is to eat few enough calories that aren’t gaining weight. It all boils down to thermodynamics and a lot people don’t seem grasp that. If you eat more calories than you need to maintain your weight, at your current level of activity, you will gain weight. If you eat less calories than your body needs to maintain its weight. at your current level of activity, you will lose weight. When it comes to weight loss you can’t target any specific area and you will lose muscle mass at some point while you’re losing weight so there are some things to take in to account when trying get healthy but as far as simple weight loss goes the only answer is to eat less calories than you burn. There is no other way around it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using a points system, counting calories, eating specific diet, or what you’re doing if you’re losing weight you are creating a calorie deficit. Period.
I’ve used some psychological tools, like milestones, to help myself make the changes I need to make but in the end the only thing that matters is the calorie deficit I create. Of course it’s best to eat healthy food, I don’t you could argue that it’s not, but you can lose weight eating nothing but Twinkies if you create a calorie deficit. I have slowly changed my diet and am still working on that side of it because I would like to be more healthy overall but the most unhealthy thing in my life, the most dangerous, a bigger risk than smoking, is the fat I’m carrying around so that’s the most important thing to change right now. Other tweaks to my life can be managed more slowly, over time, as I change bad habits and try to develop good ones.
You may have seen my morning walks posted on FB. When I walk before work I wear an HRM to get a decently accurate calorie count and I eat those calories back. I don’t lose more weight when I walk because my calorie deficit is 3500 kcal a week. This translates to about 1 lb a week lost weight. That is a sustainable and not all that hard to accomplish. So when I walk I track those calories and make sure to eat them back. For instance, I need to eat 2040 calories a day, right now, to lose 1 lb a week, so if I burn 400 calories walking before work, I eat 2440 calories that day. You can safely lose more than a pound a week but for me that is too much change and I end up blowing it because I can’t sustain the deficit needed and still feel satisfied.
Satisfaction is a huge thing. You do have to give your body time to adjust to living with a caloric deficit but if you are miserable after three or four weeks then you aren’t going to stick to it. I am using the deficit I use right now because I can eat, feel satisfied, and still lose weight. I think it took me about two weeks to get used to the deficit but even those two weeks weren’t all that bad. I still blow it some days and some days I eat under my goal but I average that 3500 kcal deficit every week and I keep losing weight.
I use a lot of apps to keep track of the things I am tracking, My Fitness Pal for calorie counting, Endomondo for my morning walks (it ties in to MFP), a couple of Runtastic apps for strength training, and FB for posting my results and getting the boost you get when your friends and family are supportive. I can talk about motivation all day but that has to come from within you and how I stay motivated probably won’t help you at all. I’ve talked about it some other posts so I’m going to skip it here.
In the end, in all the words I’ve written here, losing weight comes down to the simple mantra of: eat less fuel than you burn. Anything else you tack on to that is up to you. I advise against huge changes because while the rewards are bigger so is the letdown when you fail, and you will fail, I do, all the time. It’s not about being perfect, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about what you do with your failure. I will always choose slow and steady over high risk, high reward. I screw up all the time but the system I’ve developed allows for that and make correction easy. If I was shooting higher I would fail more and end up discouraged.
The last point I’ll make is that you need a support system. I have my wonderful wife along with Walker and Casey that I count on for support and pep talks when I slip. I have a lot of FB friends who post positive comments and like my statuses about getting healthy and this may sound silly but that helps more than I can quantify. Find a friend that will hold you accountable, make a plan, and then execute your plan. You can only fail if you don’t try. Hell if you want you can join MFP, send me a friend request, and we can do this together. Hell if I can lose weight then anyone can.
I used to be bad at planning, to the point I’d have to pick on of three things on a Friday night and be genuinely shocked that I put myself in that situation. Michelle wasn’t a part of this, she went where I went and such. No that wasn’t a control thing, she has social anxiety disorder and my social life became our social life because it was easier that way. These days I’m not so bad at planning and she manages to remind me when it looks like I’m going to over-commit. This weekend I put off grocery shopping until Monday night because stuff just kept popping up. What I didn’t consider was the rest of the family’s schedule. Children’s Museum, Teen Time at the library, and music lessons in the evening which all add up to my plan being exceedingly ill advised. I got the shopping done but didn’t get home until 11 PM. The only upshot is that we got rid of a bunch of leftovers by delaying the shopping.
While my plan was ill advised I’m really proud of Michelle right now. She has stuff planned for the kids almost every day of the week that coincides with their school stuff. She has really upped the game this year on the school front. The kids were doing fine last year but the work was bland. It was all computer based and the same every time. You can learn that way but it appeared to be dome of the most boring stuff I’d ever seen. This year almost everything is hands on, from math manipulatives to read actual books and not just passages. Toss in regular field trips, homeschool park days, videos, and more and school seems pretty exciting right now.
She originally asked me for help but as it turns out all she really needed was a little advice. I did what I could but once you get her going there’s no stopping her. She uses me for my library skills because I can put words in to Google and get back exactly what I want pretty easily. I’m fine with her using me for that, as an assistant or a reference, I’m good at it. And she’s really good at what she’s doing. The kids are really enjoying themselves as well. Sure there are hiccups and off days but that’s life and we all learn how to take those days in stride.
Right now I am sitting at work, staving off the long blinks, and regretting my poor planning. I am very happy with the reasons my planning was poor. I couldn’t be happier with my life at home right now. I’m struggling with the ADD a little bit at work but that too shall pass. I may be making a lot of changes but it’s all to make my life better and not because I’m unhappy with where I am in life. Actually it’s probably due, in part, to where I am in life that I’m able to make the changes that I’m making. I’ve a little less than an hour and fifteen minutes left today and I can’t wait to get home. I’ll probably pass out pretty early tonight but I’ll do it with a smile on my face.
And I’ve learned a valuable lesson about planning things on weeknights, check with Michelle first about the sanity of my plans!