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Mindful Bytes: The Voice

I have a voice inside my head. The voice that can be heard at that moment I’m making a decision. The moment where I decide if this is going to be a choice I’m proud of, or one I’ll regret. That voice is subtle and reasoned when I’m strong, powerful and overwhelming when I’m weak.

And I used to trust that voice. For everything. I mistook that voice as my conscience, my intuition. It’s not. It’s the voice of my obsessive addictive personality.

He doesn’t really care what happens to me. As long as his obsession gets fed. He creates the excuses that sound so reasonable in the moment. He offers comfort when I need it most. Part of my forever damaged relationship with food is accepting that it will forever be damaged. I’ll always push towards a normal balanced relationship with food, but the truth is some relationships can’t be healed all better. Too many memories, too many reminders of lost years and opportunities. Just too much damage.

So since September 2018 I listen for that voice. I can hear it now for what it is. I can hear the repetition now. “This is a special time”, or “you only live once”, or “you’ve earned it”, or “you’ll get right back on track Monday”. For most people those are all reasonable and true, at least some of the time. For me, I know my problem is obsession, specifically food addiction. For my obsessive personality a little is never enough. Truthfully a lot isn’t enough. The only shut off I have is discomfort, and I’ve eaten well past that hundreds and hundreds of times.

I used to fight my obsessive tendencies. I was desperate to just be “normal”. I’m obsessive in most of what I do. I’m always squealing the tires of life. I don’t have normal acceleration or modulations for anything. I’m just a peddle to the floor kinda guy. When it’s about cooking, or dad-ing, or husband-ing, or exercising, my obsessive personality is amazing. When it’s about my relationship with food? Not so amazing.

One of the true awakenings of this health journey was the realization that I didn’t need to tame my obsessive tendencies. That was always the struggle. Stopping at one cookie. Or one handful of chips. Or one indulgent weekend, or one indulgent week. I tried a million things a million times. The eventual solution was accidental. Trying to get rid of diabetes in 2018 I decided I wouldn’t tolerate hunger and I’d use lean protein, fruits and vegetables to address it instead of the low calorie snacks and replacement treats I usually leaned on. I even used lean protein fruit and veg to “stress eat” too. Instead of stress eating rice cakes, where I could blast through a full bag in no time (and figured my goals were screwed this week anyway so might as well get into the real chips too), by the 2nd or 3rd apple or chicken breast I was full and ready for bed.

Any previous improvement in my eating usually resulted in decent improvement in my energy, mood, sleep, the usual.

But this new daily focus on eating mostly protein fruit and veg had an exponential improvement to those feelings. It wasn’t mild like before. My obsessive personality raised an eyebrow.

“Wow!!. What was this new feeling?!! Can we get more of that please?!! “

That feeling was the result of my body thanking me for finally feeding it right coupled with the simultaneous weaning off of real and pretend indulgent food that I had at every meal (low calorie bread, low calorie crackers, low calorie pudding, low calorie ice cream, low calorie muffins). I never really ate this healthy before. I just ate “low calorie”. It kept me in a constant battle with my obsessive personality. “Why can I only have 3 rice cakes? They’re basically air right? It’s way better to eat a bag of rice cakes than a large bag of chips right?” Hear it? The voice.

The drastic change in what I ate to get healthy this time gave my personality a new awesome feeling to crave. Now, over indulging meant feeling bloated, foggy, lethargic, tired, sore, sluggish. I kept eating healthy because it just felt better and I didn’t want to give up that good feeling.

Sustainably for me was honestly wanting to protect this new feeling. That is such a powerful emotion, protecting something you love instead of resisting something you crave. My obsessive personality now had a new voice. “There’s birthday cake at every birthday party. Skip it this time and it’ll be there at the next party you go to”, or “I know everyone’s getting fries, we’re ordering pizza on Saturday, so get a salad and the fish with roasted veg and you won’t be hungry”

If you’re the type of person who really gets into something, then try giving your personality the chance to discover other things it can crave. Of course it’s not easy and requires planning and changing lifelong engrained behaviours. But if you’re like me, then the struggle you associate with trying to get healthy is really your obsessive personality reacting to being denied it’s over indulgent habits. Listen for the voice. Eat as healthy as you can for as long as you can. I haven’t mentioned losing weight once in this book-length post. It’s not about that. It’s giving yourself a chance to build a new habit. Truly. Once you get a taste of the exhilaration of limitless energy and soaring moods and every other physical and emotional benefit, you’ll start to protect that feeling. And the struggle you’ve always felt will, slowly, start to melt away.

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