Everything that kills me makes me feel like poop
May 25, 2014 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Over the past 6-8 months, I've fallen into a lot of bad habits that affect how I feel in my body. I want to improve, but there is so much that needs improving that I'm not sure where or how to start, and I don't have a lot of motivation. How do I begin to turn things around?

Over the past six months or so, I've left one stressful job and started a different one that I like a lot more but that requires me to develop a lot of new skills -- so it's challenging in unfamiliar ways. I seem to have coped with this big change by abandoning some good habits I'd developed and falling back into some old destructive ones. As a result, I'm feeling sluggish, uncomfortable in my skin and clothes, overtired, and just overall gross.

I really want to turn this trend around and get back into a better place, but there are so many variables I'm not sure where to start:

1) Diet. I lost about 25 pounds last year by tracking my portion size and limiting sweets intake (I have a major sweet tooth). Once I reached my goal weight, I fell off the wagon in a big way and gained all the weight back promptly, plus 10 pounds. I barely fit in my work clothes and can't afford new, bigger suits. I don't like the way my body looks or feels. I feel like my eating is totally out of control and want to regain that sense of control and moderation. When I'm hungry, though, all thoughts of moderation go out the window, and I end up stuffing my face. I barely drink any water during the day, even though I bought cute water bottles to try to make drinking water more fun.

Related to diet is cooking. I really enjoy cooking and when I was eating better I would cook a lot, but I've fallen out of the habit and have been eating a lot of packaged foods. It doesn't help that my partner buys a lot of junk food and doesn't cook himself. I don't want to limit what he buys; I just want to rediscover the willpower that used to allow me to leave his snacks alone.

2) Exercise. I've never been a huge exercise buff, but for a while I was going to a yoga class once or twice a week. I haven't been in months. Embarrassingly, one of the reasons I haven't been back is because my favorite yoga instructor complimented my slimmer body shape last year and I'm embarrassed for him to see that I've gained it all back. I'm sure you'll tell me he doesn't care, which I know rationally is true, but... the thought is still there.

I also have a gym membership that I barely use. I have a knee condition that makes nearly all cardio beyond walking very painful, and so going there to run on the treadmill or use the stairmaster is not an option.

3) Smoking. I'm most ashamed of this one. I quit smoking about 6 years ago, but fell off the wagon big time about 6 months ago and have been smoking about 2-3 packs per week for the past few months. I do feel motivated to stop this, because I know how bad this is for me, but it's hard to resist the cravings. I bought nicotine gum to help me reduce cravings, and it's helping a little. I haven't smoked at all today (yay!), because I finished a pack yesterday and have managed to avoid buying any more, but damn I want a cigarette.

4) Sleep/caffeine. I've had insomnia for years, and have an Ambien prescription. I also drink 1-2 cups of delicious coffee each morning. I know that the quality of my sleep is at its best when I drink no coffee at all and take no Ambien. Currently, I'm back in the vicious cycle of needing coffee to wake up and Ambien to sleep. Several years ago, I broke this cycle by doing a total detox. I want to do that again, but I'm worried my work (which demands a lot of attention and focus) will suffer if I quit drinking coffee. [Note: my primary care physician is not concerned about my nightly Ambien use, but I know that I'm not functioning up to par.]

So: My ideal me is someone who cooks healthy food, eats in moderation, gets regular exercise, is at a healthy weight, doesn't smoke, and is awake, well-rested and energetic without coffee or sleep medication. That is...very far from where I am right now, and I don't know how to get back there. Should I try to fix everything at once? That seems doomed to fail. If I should take baby steps, where do I start? What should I try to fix first? And how?

I'm looking for suggestions, recommendations, and gentle advice from people who have struggled with any of these challenges.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
1. Don't diet. Change your eating habits in ways that are sustainable. You need to find a happy medium between constant self-denial and all the dessert you can eat, that leaves you at a weight where your clothes fit and hell won't break loose if you go ahead and have that cupcake in the breakroom. (My hack for this, personally, is to err on the side of Always Cooking Dinner. Even if it's super simple and not really from scratch, or things that aren't 100% optimal for whatever the current diet logic is. Still better than fast food.)

2. Find a yoga class that is convenient to schedule around work, and actually go. If you can't face your old teacher, go somewhere else/at a different time. "What if my yoga teacher thinks I'm fat" is a dumb reason to stop going to yoga.

3. Don't buy anymore cigarettes.

4. Eliminate the second cup of coffee. I don't understand why this needs to be an all or nothing thing, where either you have no caffeine ever or you're drinking so much you literally need sleeping pills to get any rest. Just cut back to an amount of caffeine that doesn't keep you up all night. I'm hyper-responsive to caffeine, so I totally feel you on the difficulty of finding that balance. For me, I will either have Only One Cup of coffee, in the morning, first thing, or I'll have two cups of tea which can be moderately spaced out. No coffee after that "starting the day" period. No tea after noon. (In fact right now it's ten to noon, and a weekend, and I'm realizing I never got my second cup of tea. Too bad, I guess.) Also watch your soda intake, if that's a factor. I really can't drink a diet coke after about 3 PM without it impacting my sleep.

In general I find the "detox" mindset to be stupid and completely counterproductive for anything but ultimately failing and feeling bad about yourself and backtracking entirely on your goals. Part of me thinks it's a conspiracy theory from the fad diet people. If you get people to "detox", they will immediately fall straight off the wagon, fuck everything up, and come running back for the latest health fad.

Just get a sustainable lifestyle going. Do what you can. Baby steps. Think "better" not "what is the ultimately perfect way of being that proves I'm a virtuous person by the fact that other people notice I'm living the proper lifestyle."
posted by Sara C. at 11:53 AM on May 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

A--are you me? Other than the smoking and the Ambien, this is pretty much me to a T. I even have similar excuses for not re-joining martial arts classes, but ... they're not just excuses. It's real anxiety. For me, I think anxiety is holding me back from doing all these things that would make me happier, and it's a vicious cycle. I finally bit the bullet last week and asked my GP what she suggested. She gave me a few options and thanks to MeFi, I've chosen the CBT route. I'll set up an appointment next week. I'm hopeful that this will help me start to clear away the mental and emotional obstacles I've set up. So, if it's an option for you, maybe look into CBT too? Like me, you already know your reasons are unrealistic, but *believing* it and moving past them is a different thing entirely.

When I had that initial great weight loss like you did, it was because my doctor said "It's OK to not do everything all at once. Just start by exercising 20 minutes ONCE a week for four weeks. Then twice a week for four weeks. Then three times a week. Then keep it up." It might work for you? I am having trouble starting it again, but...worth a shot!

Once I start clearing away obstacles, I hope to start exercising just in my place with yoga or Pilates videos. I also want to take a cooking class so it's easier for me. As for snacks, I actually HAVE made some positive movement in that direction. My partner's chocolate stash is up in a high, high cabinet, whereas (since I've realized I'm crap at eating fresh fruit before it's gone bad) I'm keeping bags of freeze-dried fruit on the counter, and putting Costco's dried fruit/seed mix in my morning oatmeal. I've also taught myself to carry my water bottle EVERYWHERE. (First, maybe just focus on having the water at hand.)

As for coffee and Ambien, do you have a hard line after which point in the day you won't intake caffeine? (It used to be 4 for me, but now that I'm over 35, it's 2 PM.) Can you dilute the coffee? Can you try green tea to replace some of the coffee? Do you have a good mattress and pillow? Do you have a TOTALLY DARK room?
posted by kutsushita nyanko at 12:00 PM on May 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Everyone goes through these phases. You can tackle it. However, you weren't able to cold-turkey reach your optimal life the first time around, so don't assume you can address any of these habits overnight. Maybe give yourself the next 6months to work on these personal challenges.

Pick ONE of these things to work on first. For me, I'd probably tackle cigarettes for the first month, then diet (once my appetite level readjusted) for the next two months, then yoga for the next two months.
posted by samthemander at 12:01 PM on May 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I like to approach picking up that sort of slack with a lot of permission to drop the ball -- which probably sounds counter-intuitive, but it relieves a lot of the anxiety around it to have that permission and makes for more productive progress for me. Ate too much junk? That's fine, because in general you are trying to eat better, and you ate well recently and will eat well again; you just want to be oriented in the right general direction and deviations from the path are okay as long as you are still headed down it. It is useless to beat yourself up, so don't do it. Focus on "I didn't smoke all that day!" instead of "Oh @#$*, I bought another pack."
posted by kmennie at 12:06 PM on May 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

You are looking for a total life reboot, which is a tall order for most people. This kind of transition is most likely to take if you actually reboot your life: move, start a new job, new friends, etc. Since your job seems important to you, I would do these one at a time.

1) Quit smoking. This is the biggest problem you have. We all know eating healthy is important, etc but none of this matters if you are smoking. You are also going to save a ton of money, so doing this first is crucial. You'll then have no problem paying for gym membership, better food, or even new clothes. What are smokes now, like $8 and up? 3 packs a week? Thats $100 a month.

Don't worry if you start overeating to compensate for the smoking withdrawal. One thing at a time. I quit cold turkey 15 years ago, so can't really address the new technologies (patches, vapor pens, all that) but I would urge you to look into them, take this super-seriously, and do whatever it takes to quit for good. One thing that did help me was put a few butts in a jar with an inch of water. Take a deep huff of that when you have the urge. It should make you want to hurl, and let that smell stick with you as the true nature of what smoking is doing to you.

2) Start walking. Everywhere. A lot. This reduces stress, will help you sleep, and should not be a problem with your knee. If it is, talk to a sports therapist about getting you back into walking shape. Walk to the grocery store, walk to the farmers market, listen to podcasts, look at birds, whatever. Just get out there and do it. This is mediation time and mild exercise all in one. A Killer deal.

3) Once you have quit smoking and started walking, you might already have a growing interest in good food. Your taste buds will be re-awakened, you will be feeling less "blah", you should have more energy, and you might be getting impatient to get fit. Use this energy to start exploring vegetable juices, whole foods of whatever stripe you enjoy, and returning to your cooking mode. You might challenge yourself by mastering a new ethnic cuisine, learning to make complex dishes from scratch, or just whipping up your old favorites, but just do it.

4) Once you are eating better, walking, and not smoking, it is time to address the caffeine. Explore herbal and vegetable teas. Try peppermint oil in water. Get used to waking up and having a different kind of thing to look forward to, weather that is chocolate milk or celery juice and tabasco or a fancy omelette, it's up to you.

5) By now, you should automatically be sleeping better, feeling better, saving money, and can then approach fitness in earnest, by going to a gym, or finding a different yoga teacher, or sucking it up and directly telling your yoga teacher you need help getting back to the person he knows is there.

Good luck...
posted by mantid at 12:06 PM on May 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Sleep/caffeine. I've had insomnia for years, and have an Ambien prescription. I also drink 1-2 cups of delicious coffee each morning. I know that the quality of my sleep is at its best when I drink no coffee at all and take no Ambien. Currently, I'm back in the vicious cycle of needing coffee to wake up and Ambien to sleep. Several years ago, I broke this cycle by doing a total detox. I want to do that again, but I'm worried my work (which demands a lot of attention and focus) will suffer if I quit drinking coffee. [Note: my primary care physician is not concerned about my nightly Ambien use, but I know that I'm not functioning up to par.]

I DO get the all or nothing part of coffee drinking, because I'm the same way. If I have a cup, I might as well have two. I let myself have a morning latte on Saturday mornings because it's the weekend and a treat and I have pretty good control over caffeine now, but I can always tell Sunday morning that I'm tired and can't wake up easily because my sleep is botched.

Can you switch first to black tea, then to green tea? Switching straight to green tea might be too much of a let down, but black tea still has a lot of caffeine. Green tea has a gentler amount of caffeine and I can drink it with no sleep effects at all, but it still helps me work. Just a step?
posted by stoneandstar at 12:12 PM on May 25, 2014

Are you into gaming, at all? This HabitRPG app showed up in my tumblr feed last week; it's free and might be worth a try. Also, when I participated in HealthMonth (Metafilter has a great, supportive team), I liked it -- there's a low monthly fee, but current members usually have sponsorship tokens.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:31 PM on May 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I agree with mantid about the value of walking. In particular, you'd be surprised at how effective it is at helping you sleep better. Also, it's a much easier habit to get into than anything else you're considering here, so I'd consider getting into that first.
posted by baf at 12:32 PM on May 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Buy a bike.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 1:00 PM on May 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Augh, just re-read the link in my comment above -- HealthMonth is free for the first 3 goals you're working on, and $5/month for more than those three.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:01 PM on May 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

For me (and I get in these kinds of cycles, too) I've found they work in self-reinforcing positive or negative loops: when i exercise, I cook and eat better because I don't want to "waste" the exercise. When I don't, I care less about what I eat (even if I well know that it matters so much more in that context). So, is there a way to re-start the positive loop? For me, starting to up my exercise frequency helps with the eating. How about swimming? It's very low impact and you'd go to a place (I assume) where no one knows how you used to look?
posted by AwkwardPause at 1:10 PM on May 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

You're overwhelming yourself with too much. I would say only do one thing, but I'm going to tell you to do two.

First, quit the coffee/Ambien thing. It's one of the most vicious cycles you can get into, and it's sabotaging everything else. You can't do any of the rest of it if you're suffering from sleep problems.

Second, walk. Walk, walk, walk.

Just don't overdo. We're talking simple things. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a stroll before/after dinner. Need a ciggie or feel like eating junk? Take a ten minute walk. If you absolutely have to have your coffin nail or cookies after, well, allow yourself one, or a handful. Life goes on, and at least you had a walk to offset the negative.

It won't all come at once. You have to take the little steps.

For the rest of it, well, if you can sign up for a yogi class elsewhere, that's great. (Awkward explained very well what can happen as a natural result of making just one small change--and actually, the swimming idea is super, if you'd enjoy it.)

Beyond the two steps above, if you can buy premade salads and eat protein (cottage cheese, nuts, meats) with your salads as a meal, great! But don't worry if it doesn't happen all at once. Just think about implementing those two things. Simple steps can get you on the right track again.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:17 PM on May 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Come join the Metafilter team on HealthMonth! I also have a bunch of habits I want to either quit or establish. HealthMonth has helped me figure out how many things I can actually tackle at once, and convert them into measurable, realistic goals, and the monthly structure makes it easy to reassess and adjust things. The (totally optional) daily check-ins have helped me keep forward momentum, and made it easier to get back on the wagon when I fall off.

Whether you do HealthMonth or not, I'd suggest picking one hard thing to work on and one or two easier things. Since you like cooking, I would definitely include that one - an enjoyable way to take care of yourself. Maybe you could start by shopping for and cooking one healthy meal this week that generates a lot of delicious leftovers?
posted by fussbudget at 1:38 PM on May 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

2nding the tea suggestion, especially green tea. You'll feel awake and working and functioning and all that. But expect that you'll not have that same sharp focused feeling that coffee gives you. I managed to stop drinking coffee for 3-4 months a couple of times in my adult life but I could not get over the lack of sharp focused 'on' feeling. This absence of focus did not seem to have any adverse effects on my work for example. But I still craved coffee a lot. I don't suffer from sleep problems so the positive effects of abstaining from coffee were less immediately noticeable for me and I started to drink the odd cup of coffee again and was back at several cups a day in no time. Still, tea will keep you awake and functioning and is one of the easier modifications you can make.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:05 PM on May 25, 2014

Man, I feel you. The problem with exercise and eating well is that you feel like you need the energy to do it, and irony of all ironies, you often need to be eating well and exercising to get that energy.

So what you need is a way to jump start this, despite how you feel about it. If you can simply make yourself start participating in some exercise, sometimes that will work. If you can't do this on your own, finding someone else to track with you can be helpful.

Some of this is about knowing a very specific truth about habit formation, and I'll phrase this in two ways. One is that you never regret getting to the gym, but you always regret not going. In this way, it's like the ancients say, "virtue is easy." Not because it's easy to get to the gym, but the benefits so outweigh the investment that when all of the information is on the table, it becomes the compelling choice. Also, I'm a firm believer that it's about getting a toe hold on these issues, not mastering them all at once. Make a small change that can snowball into bigger ones, once you start feeling the benefits. I think you'll find that if you can start an exercise routine that provides results, it can provide the motivation you need to eat well, as well, and then the rest of those things start to follow when you are simply feeling better.

I'm just going to throw this last one out there, because I have some experience in this. If you feel that your clothes are getting tight, sometimes just buying bigger undershirts and a longer belt can do wonders to loosen things up a bit. It might buy you some time as you work towards taking off some pounds or getting new clothes.

Good luck and hang in there. The good news is that you can do this. There's nothing that you mentioned that you want to do that is outside of your ability, and I think it's just about getting the ball rolling in ways that you see some tangible feedback. If it affects how you feel first, that's perhaps the best place to start. In case it is helpful, an antidepressant as you attempt to make changes in addictive behavior is not unheard of. I have a good friend of mine who is attempting to take off some major weight, and his doctor prescribed him a low dose of an antidepressant. Not because he was majorly depressive, but these kinds of stressed can definitely encourage an atypical depression (low-level stuff that feels like being in the dumps), and one needs all the help they can get.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:55 PM on May 25, 2014

Can you decide which issue you'd like to change first?
posted by DMelanogaster at 4:38 PM on May 25, 2014

Also nth-ing HealthMonth. If you do decide to join us and would like to be sponsored for the month, MeMail me and I'll be glad to hook you up.

A couple suggestions:

Set a timer for regular water breaks. Every so often (every hour, maybe?), stop what you're doing to drink some water. Even a sip helps! This'll likely help with getting into healthier eating too.

If your job allows, do the same thing for either a walk break or a dance party break. Walk breaks could mean a quick trip around the room, around the building, or around the block. For a dance party break, put on some fun music and dance for a minute or two. Getting moving will likely help productivity too.

You can do it!
posted by wiskunde at 6:47 PM on May 25, 2014

Echoing all the advice about changing one thing at a time only, and team MetaFilter on Health Month!

While quitting smoking will probably have the best health benefit, it's probably the hardest one to do. I'd start with either walking or the change which you feel will be the easiest if that's not walking. Getting a victory under your belt will help with the motivation for the rest. Good luck!
posted by pianissimo at 7:05 PM on May 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I guess everybody is different, because personally I'd start with the food. Not dieting or loosing weight, but getting more nutritious, higher quality fuel into my body. That would give me the biggest improvement in overall energy.

Though what I do agree with most of the above on is to make small manageable changes.

So for food, you could buy healthy premade food (stuff like premade salads, chopped veggies, with hummus, lunch meat, nuts, yogurt, cheese sticks, etc.), you could also try doing a once a week cooking, focusing on cooking up some meats and preparing (washing and/or chopping) veggies and fruit, so you can easily have a high protein salad (nuts, cheese, etc. can liven them up) or a meat, an easy side and a veg. If you can get a bit more of the good stuff (which I think of as protein, good fats, veggies and fruit, but opinions vary). That should help even if you have a slice of chocolate cake after your good meal, and least you got those nutrients in to help your body run better.

I've also noticed lately (because life's been crazy and we haven't been eating well) that when I don't eat enough non-empty calories in the evening I don't sleep as well. My husband seems to be the same. And it's not so much that I wake up hungry, I'm just much more restless.

As for the caffeine/ambien cycle, could you try going to bed earlier? I know that when I've taken ambien (I've struggled with insomnia in the past as well), its important for me to take it long enough before I have to wake up that it's mostly out of my system. If you could give your body a little more time to be asleep (or at least be permissibly groggy) then it might be easier to start easing back on the caffeine (the suggestions to switch to tea are good). Also, maybe as that cycle starts to weaken, you could lower your dose of ambien a bit, assuming you're not on the extended release ambien, you can just split a pill in to two or more doses (though I know they are tiny pills to start with). And speaking of, if you are on the extended release, have you tried the instant release? It might leave you less groggy, and personally I found the extended release version didn't help me with sleep maintenance, so the instant release worked just as well for me. Your insomnia and drug interaction may vary of course. But these are some small changes that could be made that might add a little more energy to your pot, which can make so many other things easier (exercising, not having another cigarette, etc.)

One other thing, I think people often underestimate the amount of energy that both stress and mental exertion take. Between the stress at your old job, finding a new one, and all the learning your doing on the new one, it's no wonder your tired! Give yourself (and your body) credit for all the hard work you're doing, and don't beat yourself up that you aren't exactly where you want to be with everything else. You don't deserve it, but more practically, it's a waste of your precious energy ;)
posted by pennypiper at 7:58 PM on May 25, 2014

I was surprised at how well keeping a Seinfeld Calendar has motivated me to consistently go to the gym.

Also, I’ve been on again off again with Habit Judo for a while now, and through it have been able to pick up some very health-positive habits (as well as many good ideas for self-rewarding to reinforce positive behavior.)
posted by Kevtaro at 1:39 AM on May 26, 2014

There is a lot of great advice in this thread already. It might help you to look at the way you approach learning new habits and staying motivated over time. This zenhabits post about lyrical learning talks about learning new habits in the same way you would learn the lyrics to a song. It was a real eye-opener for me, and it helps me to not be too hard on myself when I get frustrated that forming a new habit is not as easy as snapping my fingers.

Leo Babauta's zenhabits blog
is a great resource in general, and has a ton of advice on forming and keeping habits.
posted by rawrberry at 3:58 AM on May 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Will power is a finite resource. There are a few studies out there that show that if someone sits in a room beside a plate of cookies and doesn't take any of them, at the end of a hour of being tempted and not taking cookies they will take more than if they weren't sitting there not taking cookies. It's not just that sitting beside cookies makes you want them more. The study subjects are also more likely to lose their temper, or steal something, or have a cigarette or show other breakdowns in will power. Willpower burns a lot of blood sugar. It's mentally exhausting.

Willpower is related to concentration. If your new job and situation is taking a lot of concentration and focus then it makes sense that you are running short of both willpower and concentration outside of your actual job duties.

So how can you stock up on willpower and concentration? I'm going to suggest that you start a two part regime for after work. One part is to lower stimulation and will power drains by coming home and taking a break from all draining mental activity. First eat something, then basically sit or lie still and let your brain rest. If you can meditate this is good. Otherwise, schedule a forty-five minute lie down with no expectations or requirements. You can listen to lyric free restful music, but the idea is to turn off thinking, analysing and other higher brain functions which are overused right now and turn around your mental exhaustion. You need to eat first to make sure there wil be enough bloodsugar readily available for your brain.

At the end of the forty-five minutes of resting making organization plans and work on healthy projects- chop celery sticks to take to work for a healthy lunch, do a session of yoga at home, draw up a list of healthy groceries to pick up, make sure that you have it fixed in your mind to remember to drink water during the day, recommit to quiting smoking, or limiting smoking - This is your time to work on developing good habits.

If you are stressed your brain needs support. The decompression time could help a lot. It's important not to simply add more assignments and shoulds and a tighter schedule without doing anything to support your over stressed brain. Otherwise you will be even worse off than before.

With luck as you get more familiar with your job it will start requiring less concentration and you can delegate some parts of it to your reptilian brain. That will give you more leeway in the good habits.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:33 AM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I absolutely get what you are going through. I'm living it in a lot of ways, so I really feel for you.

1. I too love cooking but default very easily to prepackaged foods. What has worked TREMENDOUSLY well for me was to go low carb/keto. I track my food using MyFitnessPal to make sure I keep within my macros. This has worked wonders for me because:
a) I feel physically so much better than I have in years. I feel energized and de-fogged. It is weird.
b) I have energy up the whazoo, energy I haven't had... well, ever maybe!
c) By drastically reducing carbs (I try to keep to 50g of carbs a day or less) I basically eliminate the ability to eat pre-packaged foods and I naturally end up eating way more veggies.
d) Sweet tooth drastically reduced.
e) I get to eat filling, delicious foods and I am not hungry.
f) I no longer get sugary, nor do I have the big energy crashes after meals
g) I am rediscovering my love for things like cauliflower, avocado, leafy salads, full fat dairy, etc.
h) It is pretty easy to follow, doesn't take a whole lot of thinking.

Keto may not be for you but it sure marked a major turning point for me. It really doesn't feel like a "diet" because I am full and satisfied and feel great, and I don't have the mega carb cravings (which led to binges) anymore.

Also, just drink your water. I don't do well with the "keep a bottle beside me and sip all day" thing. I never drink enough. Instead I just do a "Drink a whole bottle of water in the morning"/"Drink a bottle of water in the afternoon" type thing. If lunchtime rolls around and I haven't emptied my bottle then I basically chug. Well, not chug, but I force myself to drink it before lunch. Same for later. If it is the end of the work day and I have water in my 'afternoon' bottle left then I chug it before I leave the office.

2. Honestly, I think step one is get your eating better. It is a lot easier to get the motivation and energy to go exercise when you actually, you know,... have the energy. If you are largely eating crap foods (prepackaged, carb heavy, sugary, etc) then your body isn't going to be so happy. Start giving it the fuel it needs and thrives on and watch your energy levels rise.

3. I have no advice on this, I haven't lived it. I have a friend who has struggled with kicking the cigarette habit for years, so I know it isn't an easy thing. You did it before, you can do it again!

4. This also goes back to #1. I find that when I am eating crap every function of my body (including sleep) takes a hit. If you can solve #1 and #2 then this will almost definitely improve.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:13 AM on May 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

One of the best pieces of advice I got years ago was to think of cycles like this as a bicycle wheel. If you want to stop such a wheel, it really doesn't matter which spokes you jam your stick between, so long as you get stuck in somewhere. Addressing any one of these issues will slow the "wheel" down, so pick the one you are most motivated/ willing to tackle first.

If that is caffeine, I'd suggest mixing decaf grounds with regular, gradually increasing the proportions until you reach a level that does not impede your sleep. That way you can continue your morning two cup ritual.
posted by rpfields at 11:32 AM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

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