Dealing with addictive behavior (Soul Food week three!)

Addiction comes in all shapes and forms.  While drugs and alcohol are the most widely discussed, they are certainly not the most wide spread. In looking back over a post from last week I noticed I referenced my 'addiction' to my devices. The Whole30 is aimed at breaking sugar addiction in particular. Thinking about it, it seems to me that we all struggle with addiction in one form or another. Often times, perhaps the behavior is more of a compulsion perse, but the fact is, even a compulsion is hard to break.  And often unhealthy too.

The reason I am focusing on this topic this week is personal. Like most of my blog posts, I like to write about what is coming up for me personally and this certainly is.  What I've noticed is that sticking to a very strict set of rules has not helped me break my addictions overall.  Instead is has me trading them for compliant ones instead. To be fair this is not the intention of the Whole30, in fact they expressly say not to do this.  Nevertheless one of my coping strategies has been to continue to over indulge where I'm theoretically 'allowed' to.

I can think of three addictions of mine that are at the forefront of this behavior right now. The first is drinking coffee. I largely swore off coffee over the past year. Primarily due to the inflammation it is known for causing in the body. But as my diet evolved, coffee returned. I noticed it made me a bit jumpier than it used to so I stuck to one per day maximum and not every day consumption. But guess what, giving up many of my other vices when coffee is allowed....has led me to drinking a second....and sometimes even a third cup. Every day. Not ideal.

Secondly, working out is always something I have a tendency to embrace and in some people's opinion maybe take a bit too far. Last year I did a half ironman and ran the NYC marathon. I am no stranger to commiting to a fitness goal and seeing it through.  On the Whole30, along with improved sleep I find myself jumping out of bed to hit the pavement or a yoga class every day kind of compulsively. That said, at least this one is a healthier behavior. It's a sign of my inner addict nonethless.

Finally, in addition to my devices, I am very much addicted to social media. I'm kind of an 'around the grounds' type checker inner. That means, I hit Facebook and Instagram and feel the need to read back to the last time I checked to be 'up to date'. This includes checking in semi regularly on people no longer in my life (not daily but it happens). This really is compulsive and largely unhelpful to me living in the current moment. 

As I've been working through this I have realized I am no expert on overcoming addictive behavior. But my experience does mean I'm aware enough to help support you if you're hoping to work on your stuff too.  Here's a few ideas I'll be trialling to get you started:

  • Be honest with yourself, to work on challenging your unhealthy behaviors you of course need to be aware of them
  • Tell someone else you are going to try and make some shifts - be accountable (a health coach or therapist are great options but a friend will do)
  • Spend time working on yourself in terms of what is driving the behavior, what is the void you are filling?  Can you fill it up in a healthier way?
  • Instead of swearing off said addiction (which I think can actually lead to just trading them like I seem to be doing), be more gradual in your approach - for instance, go back to one coffee per day, check social media once every two days, only have sugar once a day etc
  • When you lapse don't berate yourself; instead see how it makes you feel, use any 'negative' emotional response to remind you why it's important to make change
  • Overall practice healthy variety and moderation (I am not talking about major life threatening addictions here, they typically require abstinance and support in the form of a professional)

Last week I challenged myself to get more physical activity into my week. Whilst this could be considered an addiction, I'm comfortable with this as I do take a day off at least once a week and am sure to balance out cardio with strength. I love how it makes me feel and last week was just a reminder of that.  How did you go?

This week I am going to focus on both my coffee addiction and unhealthy social media habits. I know it's two things, but they are both less healthy behaviors of mine I want to work on. What do you consider to be your vices?  What would you be happier and healthier by moderating somewhat? I would love to hear from you!

By the way, while the Whole30 is anything but a moderation approach, I am committed to seeing this out. I'm just going to try and pull back from my less productive coping strategies along the way.  Half way today. I've so go this.

Have a great week.