Five years ago today, I quit smoking . . . and fattened up for the kill. Quitting was the hardest thing ever. It ravaged my body. Ravaged! Nobody tells you about how ugly the detox part gets. Imagine 20 some years of poison leaving your body. It’s not pretty. I didn’t feel like myself for about 2.5 years after quitting. Constant craving, constant sticking something into my mouth to soothe the craving, absolutely zero metabolism so everything I shoved in stuck. I was obese within months of quitting. It happened really quickly. I still sometimes crave cigarettes. I suspect I always will. It’s a terrible addiction. But now at least I’m able to combat the lingering aftereffect, the weight. Now, when I watch what I eat, drink lots of water, get some exercise, my body immediately reacts and I begin to notice subtle changes in the way my clothes fit, big changes in my energy levels, a nice change in my overall spirit and physical health. In the throes of quitting nothing I did mattered. No amount of exercise, healthy eating, water drinking, nothing made a difference, everyday I just got fatter and felt worse. It was a terrible time.
I’ve been thinking about the quit and about when I first found out I had arthritis before the quit. I’ve been thinking on the lesson of these things, how they helped me or changed me. I mean obviously both things have led to a healthier lifestyle for me, an awareness of my body that I never had before, but beyond that I think they taught me something else, about control.
When I was in bed with my first really bad arthritis flare and unable to get out and wondering if I would ever be able to walk normally again or if I’d be bedridden the rest of my days, I couldn’t get up. I mean I really couldn’t get up. There was no mind over matter, push through the pain, and go about my business solution to this thing, that had always worked for me in the past. Lord knows I tried, but no matter how much I demanded that my body respond, it just wouldn’t. It shut down. I couldn’t bend it to my will. And the same thing happened when I quit smoking and I was trying to lose weight. I exercised. I ate balanced, proportioned, healthy meals. I ran on the treadmill for 45 minutes every night and did strength exercises and drank gallons and gallons of water . . . and I just got fatter and fatter. I couldn’t make it happen. I couldn’t bend my body to my will.
I’m a control freak. I am, I admit it. It’s only in the past five years that I’ve realized I’m a control freak, likely the rest of the world knew long before me. When I was trying to bend my body to my will, I didn’t know I was a control freak. Both times I was emotionally devastated that I had no control. I mean it’s not like I was trying to control somebody else’s body, this was my body, and I’ve got a strong spirit, strong will, strong mind–it just made no sense to me that I couldn’t make anything happen, I couldn’t even comprehend, it seemed impossible that this could be happening. If I told my body to walk and ignore the pain, then dammit, I should’ve been able to walk!
Both these things pushed me over the edge of incomprehensibility. I’m talking major meltdowns. Before finally, I was forced into acknowledging these were physical conditions that were beyond my control. I have arthritis, I will always have arthritis, I have pretty much always had arthritis. It’s a physical condition that is beyond my control. I needed to acknowledge that and rather than continue my daily life on sheer willpower and mind over matter, I needed to focus on what I could control, and that was living with arthritis in the most comfortable way possible. No quick fixes, but an overall change in lifestyle and philosophy for long-term results.
After I quit smoking my metabolism went on a long vacation, I did everything right and continued to gain weight. Again it was a physical thing that I couldn’t control. And it wasn’t until I acknowledged that and decided that there wouldn’t be any quick fixes, that I needed to take my time and listen to my body and make improving my health the top priority, not losing the weight, that I actually started losing weight and keeping it off.
So today on my quit anniversary I’m thinking about these things and I can see how they helped me deal with control issues in all areas of my life. In relationship with my father, hauntings of past loves, work situations, new relationships, etc. It’s been so freeing to finally understand that I can only control what’s in my own mind, and that is all. Family, friends, and even my own body can not be manipulated to bend to my will, and if I try to make them they will always disappoint me. But I’m still a control freak, I mean I still have moments where I find myself getting frustrated or angry. And sometimes I fly off the handle and stick in the wall, throw a tantrum, but more times I have a little self-talk about what I can and cannot control and my frustration is subdued. The only thing you can control is your own mind. Grasp that concept and set yourself free.
Drinking: coffee, water
Listening To: bombers
Hair: tousled, but in a kinda sexy morning after the night before way