Why Cheating Really Isn’t Worth It.

stuffed animals from childhood, nostalgia

Here are two of my favorite stuffed animals from my childhood.  People who know me really well know that I’ve never outgrown my deep affinity for stuffed toys, and my closest inner circle (and now all of you) knows that sometimes, I still make sure they’re sitting upright and don’t get buried under things lest they smother or feel like I don’t care about them anymore.

I read one of those “tug-at-your-heartstrings” stories this week, imagining Calvin and Hobbes as old men, and I haven’t been able to get over how sad it’s made me. People laugh or roll their eyes when I tell them that I refuse to see chick flicks, or sappy/sad movies, but the problem is that, for most people, they can watch the movie and have a good cathartic cry and then move on.  For me, I’ll be sad about it for weeks and will internalize it into getting sadder and sadder about something that’s going on in my own life. Naturally, I’m a little pissed at myself for reading the story, but the damage has been done, and now I’m struggling with the aftermath.

Here’s the other thing; when I took control of my health last May, I discovered through process of elimination that gluten affects my mental health in a negative way.  During my first foray with gluten-free eating, my depression/anxiety cleared up drastically within the first week, and I continued to feel fantastic until I started to slack off and allow myself some “cheats.”  I know that some people think that cheating on a food lifestyle here and there is okay, and for the most part, I’d agree.  However, here’s why it just doesn’t work for me:

  1. It’s never just “one” cheat.  If I was able to just have some gluten on the *very* rare occasion, then I’d probably be okay, but my problem is that ONE special occasion then brings out my all-or-nothing mentality (well, you’ve already cheated once today…might as well take the rest of the day/weekend/month off and pick back up again afterward).
  2. The payout is rarely worth it.  Now, I’m not talking about some once-in-a-lifetime trip or something like that.  I’m talking about the “plate-of-spaghetti because it’s Valentine’s Day” or the “big hunk of birthday cake because you’re are a party” type of cheats.  Is it really worth it to feel bad the next day over something that wasn’t really a dynamic experience?
  3. You’re only cheating on yourself.  I thought about this the other day when I was getting ready for bed and really didn’t want to floss my teeth (I know…lazy me).  I was going to let it go for the night, and then it hit me that the only one who’s going to suffer the consequences of that decision is me.  I’m the one who may end up with a cavity, and it would be a result of my decision.  Why is it that we mostly worry about how our decisions will impact others, but never seem to really consider how they will affect us?

My dad is a diabetic with heart problems; he can’t afford to “cheat” on his food lifestyle.  A “cheat” will result in atherosclerosis, kidney problems, diabetic neuropathy, and worse.  And he lives with that reality.  If I have too much gluten, I get anxious and sad and life becomes (even more) overwhelming and daunting.  That’s a reality I have to live with.  It’s not even about weight (although losing weight has been an excellent result of cutting the gluten/most grains); it’s about deciding whether a food is worth compromising my mental health.

The answer to that question, friends, is “usually not.”

I’m not trying to tell you to restrict your diet or engage in unhealthy food behavior; on the contrary: I’m suggesting that you think more deeply about the ramifications (both short and long-term) of your choices (food and otherwise).

My Adrenals are Worn Out and Dried Up…

I really don’t know whether to be hopeful that the second half of the year will be better than the first or not.  After two months of the severe mood swings and general depression/hopelessness, I’m starting to fee at home being in a funk.  At this point, I’m not sure I’d even know what to do if I did feel normal.  One of the girls I work with last week commented that she couldn’t believe that I was feeling the way I am.  I asked her what she expected me to do?  It’s not like I can cease to function at my job…I’ve got to keep doing a good job at work.  It’s not like the world is going to quit spinning on my account.  I tried to explain to her how I do my best to get through the workday and then I’m basically nonfunctional once I get home.  It mystified her.  I guess that’s a good thing.

Anyway, I’ve been reading Tired of Being Tired, a book about adrenal fatigue and burnout (Amazon Link–not an affiliate link).  According to their test, I’m at the point of “losing it,” which is just a category away from burnout.  After you assess your own level of burnout, the author (an MD) offers ten lifestyle changes that will help your adrenal glands recover and function normally again.  Her theory is that our increasingly fast-paced lifestyles take a toll on our adrenal glands that, historically, would have been limited to immediate physical threat (read:  being chased by a large predator).  While I’m usually leery of “Lose Weight and Feel GREAT” books, this one caught my eye because part of my anxiety diagnosis is PTSD and the fact that I’m constantly functioning in fight-or-flight mode.  My adrenals have been totally shot for quite some time, and while I’m a huge fan of prescription treatment for mental health issues, I also look for every holistic and natural method to help the meds do their job.

Nothing that I’ve read thus far as been earth-shattering; I do think it’s interesting that the author promotes a low-carbohydrate diet.  While she doesn’t promote a paleo- or primal-type diet, she does recommend that those at the highest levels of adrenal fatigue/burnout stick right around 65 grams of carbs per day (three meals and 2-3 snacks).  Surprisingly, she also recommends that those at highest level of burnout not engage in any incredibly strenuous exercise program (so, my plans to start Insanity again are on hold for a little while), but to engage in moderate activity every day.  In light of that, I’m going to develop a routine on the Wii that matches her recommendations and stick with that every day.

The toughest parts?  8 hours of sleep and giving up caffeine:(.  I really suck at getting enough sleep.  It is what it is.  I don’t like going to bed (mostly because, these days, I just really don’t want it to be “tomorrow,” and I seem to have this twisted belief that, if I stay up as late as possible, then it’ll stay “today”), but I have to get up at 5:30 every day, to head into an extremely high-stress environment, for which I really should have had a full night’s sleep.  So, bleh.  And I love my caffeine:(…at least she says that I shouldn’t go cold-turkey and can wean down.

Anyway, I’ll keep updating you about what I’m learning and how it’s going.  I did manage to make a meal plan for the week and we got some groceries today (Joey’ll have to get the rest tomorrow), so this week will be much better in terms of real, balanced meals.  I’ll let you know about the rest.

Also, please send prayers and good thoughts out for my friend Phil.  He was supposed to have surgery to remove the cancer (on the pancreas) this past Thursday, but a pre-op CAT scan revealed some changes and now they’re not exactly sure how they’re going to be able to tackle the treatment/surgery.  He means so much to me…he changed my life seven years ago, and I don’t know where I’d be without him.

Phil’s on my right.  I totally stole this picture from my church’s website, and when I went back today to find it so I could link to the source, they’ve started updating the website and I can’t find it anymore, so if you visit FBCIT.org and find some pictures, it’ll probably be in there somewhere.