Self-sabotage is connected to multiple mental health issues and can literally prevent forward momentum if not addressed properly. Lack of momentum means social vulnerability, including poverty and abuse. And we are working toward empowerment, not weakness here. While my fondest hope is that my words offer a long-term solution for defeating what is a life-long problem, I would be remiss if I did not also encourage those of you dealing with the consequences of self-sabotage to seek professional support, along with reading about real-life solutions from a real person who has endured similar struggles.
One of the coping strategies for defeating self-sabotage is getting physically healthy. I truly believed I was healthy at the start of the year, biking 10-15 miles a day, eating organic food, being vegetarian, lifting weights...but boy, was I wrong! I just finished 54 days of cutting out dairy, all processed foods (including alcohol), salt, and sugar. In that time, while maintaining my daily work outs, I've lost 15 lbs!!! That's 15lbs I did not know I had to lose, mind you. My body was beautiful with the apparently 15-extra pounds that I did not know dairy was adding to my daily diet. Still...15lbs?! And, I'm not exactly super-thin after losing what is essentially an entire pant-size either.
Dairy is touted as a weight-loss food though campaigns like, "Milk...it does a body good." Ads where celebrities have painted on "milk" mustaches were everywhere at one point. Greek yogurt is loaded with protein. So is whole milk--which is also considered beneficial for fertility. HOWEVER, most of us use dairy as a way to add flavor, not nutritional value. I never realized how much I relied on dairy for flavor. A little cheese here. A pat of butter there. No big deal, right?
All I was adding was unnecessary fat. The proof is in the weight loss from the last 7.5 weeks. Numbers don't lie--people do. My picture isn't lying either. It was taken a week ago. The last time I lost this much weight, I had to use high intensity cardio for 3-4 hours a day, every day, to drop pounds while on tour with Comic Con; a big-wig in the touring company suggested I might want to "tighten up" and maybe, go a little blonder, too. But because my diet was already so limited as an organic vegetarian, I never even considered making any food changes and would simply tell myself, "This is just how you're built."
A total lie.
We lie to ourselves all the time. Especially when it comes to food. That's part of self-sabotage. We want to "treat" ourselves, but it's more "trick" than "treat"--food is a relatively cheap, easy way to indulge. But, why do we feel the need to indulge? What's behind the craving or compulsion??? It's almost always a psychological disconnect. Being mindful is the best way to prevent self-sabotage but it's not always as easy as we might think.
Going out to eat on a date is a pretty standard love-ritual around the world. About a year ago, I started going on regular "dates" that had nothing to do with food, and everything to do with moving my body. Sunset walks, lifting at the gym, hiking--these are all my preferred ways to spend quality time with a person I love...or even like, as the case may be. Sometime in the fall, before it got too cold, I suggested to my "date" that we walk our way to a local creamery and get some frozen yogurt. My partner-in-crime smiled big and said, "Yeah, I could crush a shake right about now, but, you've been working so hard...do you really want to do that?"
I really didn't. What I wanted was a change of scenery. We'd walked the same area for weeks at that point and I was bored, not hungry. We do that to ourselves often--eat our feelings. Use food as a way to cope with boredom, depression, grief, etc.. What I failed to see myself in that moment wasn't just about that moment--it applied to how I was living my every day life, too. I was bored. So I used cooking to distract myself. Made me feel like I had a purpose when, otherwise, I didn't.
Hurts to see something about yourself you didn't expect to see. How many of you do something similar? Use food to cover up a disconnect in your lives???
Being honest with ourselves is hard. Perhaps the hardest thing we have to learn as human beings. While there will always be someone willing to stand in your way in life, more often than not, we tend to stand in our own way. That means that, outside of social disadvantages, we are responsible for our own failures. Our own lack of momentum.
No more excuses. No more fear. This week marks the halfway point of 2018. We have been making good progress so far. Remember the daily affirmations from the March 2018 essay, #Faith? The first affirmation is, "Excuses and justifications remove my power to make positive change." The second is, "When I have an idea, I will act on it immediately." It's time to act. Not tomorrow or the next day, but today and every single day thereafter. Success is cumulative and incremental. You can and will be successful at everything you do in life if you are consistent. And, patient. With yourself more than anything or anyone else.
Forget "cheat" days--you're only cheating on yourself. A plant-based diet doesn't mean running out and buying almond milk pudding and ice cream, or loading up on gluten-free, organic snacks. It means eating whole fruits and veggies. It means eating protein-rich grains like quinoa and fiber-rich beans and legumes, like lentils and chick peas. It means if you want something sweet, have a little raw honey. It means using raw oats to add crunch (and, healthy fiber that a Tufts study has recently proven can shave 100 calories a day from your diet!). And, guess what? By doing all that, you're actually supporting farmers--real people who sacrifice more than most of us will ever know in order to feed the world. That's an amazing gift. You're also saving yourself SO MUCH money, not to mention time, energy and resources by simply living an ethical life. Increasing our sense of integrity always makes us feel more worthy of good things, good people, good jobs. And, I want that for all of you, my dearest readers. I want you to feel better. Look better. Be healthier, inside and out.
Since cutting dairy, my average cost per meal is about $2.65--no joke. That's with the extra $$$ from buying pricey organic foods, too. A bag of dried lentils can make nearly 20 meals, as can a bag of quinoa. A bag of organic carrots yields the same thing. My biggest splurge is on things like natural peanut butter--I can make it myself, but buying it helps me to manage my time more efficiently. That said, food prep is a key-component to making you healthier and wealthier--grabbing a tupperware container of perfectly portioned pre-made whole foods from your fridge is faster, tastier and much less costly than using the drive-thru window at Panera.
Eating eggs is something vegetarians do, but vegans don't. I was vegetarian for 24 years before dropping dairy. But I never ate fish or eggs as a vegetarian because I was vegetarian for ethical reasons. Eggs also add a ton of fat and cholesterol to your diet. When you have non-fatty protein options, using eggs sparingly for something like quick breads is the healthiest alternative. It's also the most ethical, too.
Always felt that choosing to live a life that honors all life was the reason I'm still alive today. And now, I can prove it:
A transnational study released two years ago in the journal, Aging, showed how restricting our calories by removing sources of fat, sugar, salt, and carbs, and sticking to a mostly plant-based diet, is the fountain of youth. Your body is less sensitive. Swelling is greatly reduced. Allergies are reduced. Colds and flus are reduced. With a balanced diet and exercise routine, there were no major health problems at all and people continued to get leaner, stronger and younger looking. Super-heroic scientists from Tufts University, Duke University, Washington University, University of Vermont, Yale University, Baylor College of Medicine, and Brescia University School of Medicine in Italy all collaborated to prove how calorie restriction can help the body heal itself.
Wow. No wonder I had to dig through years of misinformation to find those results. If more people knew about this, the beef industry, mall restaurants and food franchises would be out of business! That's not something any corporation wants, even if it means saving human lives. If that weren't true, big tobacco would be a thing of the past. Guess some folks don't mind earning (and spending) dollars made off of human suffering. Misery really does love "company." But this blog is free. I don't get paid to write it by anyone either. Because, I want you to help yourself, not some greedy, rich pig who wants you to die, but not before filling corporate coffers with your hard-earned cash.
Yuck! Why do I suddenly feel like I need to take a shower???
Time magazine (along with every other reputable news source around the globe) published a story yesterday, May 26, 2018, on the World Cancer Research Fund's (WCRF) long-term study results that, in fact, back up every word I've written here. Those words are also words I've personally lived by for nearly a quarter of a century. Yeah, I know how to commit. And, be loyal. Back up my promises with effective action. As a result of that hardcore bend to my personality, I've survived high-grade brain cancer...for 27-freakin-years!
It's pretty intense. Marvel should SO give me my own superhero character in X-Men....
True, I'm just one person. Maybe I am a mutant? Or, maybe it's luck. Except, it isn't. Because ALL of the most reputable universities and researchers in the world are FINALLY catching up to what my head and heart told me was the right thing to do--not to beat cancer or lose weight or get healthy--but because it was simply the right thing to do.
Processed meats of all varieties--which is all meat unless you kill it yourself--cause cancer, particularly colorectal cancer. WCRF recommends eating NO MEAT in order to cut your risk of getting any cancer at all by 40%. Drinking alcohol and things like fruit juice and soda will literally kill you, according to WCRF. No less than 7 cancers were connected to alcohol alone. Gives a new kick to your favorite cocktail, doesn't it??? Thanks, but no thanks!
Want to live longer, stronger and leaner?
WCRF suggests people restrict calories, fat, sugar, and salt, eating a mostly plant-based diet of whole foods while staying active in order to improve both quality and quantity of life. I'm living proof that these recently reported findings are the real deal. While it's true that I had brain cancer, and brain cancer is not caused by food (it's primarily caused by toxic environmental factors such as the production of plastics but also, extended exposure to electro-magnetic fields), I have used food as a kind of preventative medicine. There are cancer-clusters all over the States that involve things like brain cancer, lymphoma and leukemia connected to toxins in our environment. Stress is also a factor in almost any cancer, or rather, elevated levels of cortisol in the body for extended periods of time (it releases three compounds that help cancer spread and grow, according to study results published in 2006 from Nature). But, once something like brain cancer starts, though food isn't a cure, changing what you eat may well prevent recurrence in much the same way avoiding certain foods can prevent getting cancer in the first place. If diagnosed with any cancer, you still have to receive recommended treatments, but it also matters what you put in your body. Or rather, what you don't.
While food may not mean a total cure, I'm more convinced than ever that it is the very reason I am still alive today, living five times longer than my last prognosis. In fact, I am one of the longest living survivors of high grade brain cancer alive in the States today. Wish that accomplishment came with a million-dollar check. Sadly, survival comes at a social cost similar to the cost of aging--no one wants to hire you because you are seen as a liability when it is the total opposite--you have proven yourself tougher and stronger than most. You are an asset to this world. Anyone who has had to fight just for the privelege of breathing generally has more gratitude than attitude. A total team-player both eager and grateful to participate in life. And yet, ageism, sexism, racism all still exist. Self-sabotage isn't just an individual psychology--it's social, too.This is part of why I'm so passionate about helping people around the world embrace unconditional love of the self. What starts with one individual can bloom and grow into a veritable garden of love, kindness and compassion for one another...because, like it or not, we're all in this together.
Can you see the connection? Can you see how self-sabotage stems from negatives like fear, which in turn breeds greed, gluttony, jealousy, envy, prompting us to behave in ways that are totally unethical??? We are literally hurting ourselves. Eating our sins. Drinking our failures. When we do that, we hurt each other, too. It's a vicious cycle that we can stop IF we want to.
A family member I saw earlier this month was under the impression that certain cancers just happen, like magic. That is blatantly false. NO CANCER JUST HAPPENS. There is always a reason why a healthy body stops being healthy. Puritanical musings about how only good people have good things happen is part of self-sabotage. Always someone else's fault, right? I was 18 when the first signs of a brain tumor surfaced. I did not drink, smoke or take drugs. I was not a "slut." I didn't even eat much food and was actually underweight as a kid. BUT, I did spend 10+ years living in subsidized housing as a child and right behind my bedroom wall, there was a large, standing electrical box that had so much going on, you could literally hear it humming. I'd play on it and around it, climbing all over it, because it was warm and vibrated and I felt a little like I was in a space ship or driving a car. My bed was against the exterior wall shared by the electrical box in question. That meant my head was merely one rather thin, uninsulated subsidized-housing-wall away from all kinds of badness. For ten years. It typically takes about 7-8 years for the kind of malignant tumor I had to grow large enough to be detected. And, oh, gee whiz, I was 18 when the first signs emerged. Once again, math tells the truth humans don't even like to think about, let alone utter aloud.
So, no more blaming the victims. And, no more shifting of responsibility. A bad thing happened to me. However it started, it became my responsibility to deal with it. It's the same for each of you. Doctors mean well when prescribing certain treatments, but rarely will you hear a doc tell you to stop eating x, y, or z to prevent things like cancer. Hopefully in the future, bad-for-you-foods will be seen by the medical community in the same way as cigarettes--something that is 100% acknowledged to cause cancer, among other problems. Smoking cigarettes (or any addictive behavior) is a major sign of a mental health issue. It's classic self-sabotage. And, in 2018, we're working toward better health and healing. So, no more smoking. No more drinking. No more using food as a shield. And, move that body! Eat a plant-based diet of mainly whole foods. Because, you are worth it. You really are.
Don't you want to beat cancer, too? Don't you want to see the things you will miss if you don't change how you live your life??? I can tell you from personal experience that, yes, you do want to live longer, stronger and leaner. Your life is worth more than that donut you're planning on eating in the morning. Or, the muffin you usually have in the break room before lunch. Or, gawds help me, the giant cheeseburger with bacon you covet for lunch or dinner. You may not want to give up certain foods or turn off the television and go to the gym, but perhaps you will if you stop long enough to consider WHY you don't want to do things for yourself that will help you stay healthy--inside and out.
Love yourself. Unconditionally. You will be happier, healthier and wealthier. Anyone who says different is not your friend. And, there's only one thing to say to a person trying to hurt your chances of success in life: