How I Stopped Eating Cookies in Bed

In my last post, I talked about how changing a behavior or habit typically doesn’t happen quickly or easily. Rather, it usually happens slowly over a period of time and requires repetitive, deliberate practice—and a hearty dose of patience. 

Often, it can be quite helpful to get support with making the changes you desire, whether it’s from your partner, friend, therapist or coach. Having someone hold you accountable can make all the difference.

Sometimes, support can come from unexpected places.

Unforeseen Support
Some years ago, I developed a habit of eating cookies in bed while reading. This typically happened on weekend nights after drinking a glass or two of wine. It was a habit I wanted to kick, yet struggled to do so. I didn’t like the crumbs in my bed, the mindless eating or the late-night sugar hit. Despite all this, the habit stuck like super glue. Until…

...my apartment was raided by ants. 

For months, I would catch ants crawling across my kitchen table, my keyboard, my couch, and yes, even my bed. 

Of course, this was extremely annoying and agitating.

However, there is nothing like the possibility of ants in your bed to get a girl to stop leaving a sugar trail on her sheets!

Universe On My Side
My feelings toward the ants completely changed when I remembered that the Universe is always on my side. I busted out laughing upon realizing the Universe had sent the ants my way to help me release a habit I was yearning to let go of. It was simply fulfilling my wishes!

So, in the end, I was grateful for the ants. I still didn't want them in my home (thank goodness, they moved on), but I’m glad they decided to move in for a while.

May my story encourage you to look for the gift in your challenges, no matter how big or small. And, may it remind you that you don't have to wait for the discomfort of "ants" to get the support you desire and deserve to make lasting change.

Cigs, Sugar and Not Giving Up

When I was 24, I decided one day that I never wanted to smoke cigarettes again. I had been a social smoker—that is, I smoked when I drank—on and off for years.

I never smoked again.

For most of us (myself included), changing a behavior or habit typically doesn’t happen this quickly or easily. It usually happens slowly over a period of time and requires repetitive, deliberate practice. 

I’ve seen over and over again, with both my clients and myself, that small, incremental changes practiced consistently are the stepping stones of true transformation and lasting change

Wholehearted Willingness
It took me a few years to change my relationship with sugar. Doing so required a commitment to follow through in a way I never had before. And, it required a wholehearted willingness to experiment with new ways of being with food, with my body, with my beliefs, with uncomfortable feelings, with uncertainty, with pleasure, and more.

Sure, I still eat too much sugar every now and then. But, because my transformation occurred from doing the deeper, inner work, rather than just the surface strategies, I have complete faith that I’ll never regress to the sugar-coated cookie monster I once was. 

Faith, Not Fear
I also know that because my transformation was rooted in faith rather than fear, that sustaining it doesn’t require me to be 100-percent perfect with my actions. I trust, that with the wisdom I gathered along my journey, I have the resources I need to swiftly reel myself back in, with compassion and non-judgment, should I ever stray too far.

A Slow Unfolding
Sometimes, change can happen so slowly that we mistakenly believe we’re not making any progress at all. So we get discouraged, frustrated and angry. We want to throw in the towel.

My transformation with sugar didn’t take place over night or occur like a lightning bolt, but rather it was like a small, steady drip that subtly carved a new pathway in my mind. It was a slow unfolding to a new way of being.

Perhaps spiritual teacher, philosopher and author Vernon Howard said it best:

“Do not be impatient with your seemingly slow progress. Do not try to run faster than you presently can. If you are studying, reflecting and trying, you are making progress whether you are aware of it or not. A traveler walking the road in the darkness of night is still going forward. Someday, some way, everything will break open, like the natural unfolding of a rosebud.

To Your Unfolding,
Renee

Resolving to Adopt New Habits? Use this Mantra...

In my early 20s, my cooking was pretty much limited to:

  • boiling water for pasta and mixing the noodles with store-bought sauce
  • heating up a can of tomato soup while making a grilled-cheese sandwich 
  • toasting a bagel and dipping it into microwaved spaghetti sauce
  • shoving a frozen cheese pizza in the oven
  • pouring a bowl of cereal

When I moved to San Francisco 16 years ago, my boyfriend and I got hooked on Jamie Oliver’s cooking show, The Naked Chef. While I loved watching Jamie whip up mouth-watering meals, I wasn’t as inspired as my boyfriend was to actually take what we were learning from the couch to the kitchen.

Although I enjoyed looking at the sumptuous photos in Jamie’s cookbooks, I was daunted by the recipes, overwhelmed by the unfamiliar ingredients, equipment and techniques. They were really quite basic (e.g., coriander, mortar and pestle, blanching), however they seemed exotic and complicated to me. I couldn’t be bothered. It all seemed like so much…work.

I knew, however, that I needed to step up my cooking skills and let go of my college way of eating. So, eventually, I joined my boyfriend in his cooking experiments. And, wouldn't you know it, I evolved into a passionate home cook.

It Looked So Much Easier
Learning how to cook better was definitely not as easy as Jamie made it look. I had to seek out ingredients I’d never heard of and suffer from embarrassment when I mispronounced them to store clerks. I had to buy new cookware. There were more plates to wash and pots to scrub. And, of course, I had to deal with the disappointment when a recipe flopped.

All of this inconvenience, however, was temporary--and, it undoubtedly led to permanent improvement. I started eating more varied, wholesome and pleasurable fare. I discovered an unexpected outlet for alleviating stress and expressing creativity. And, I developed a deep commitment to supporting my local farmers and producers.

The Initial Pain of Change 
As we embark on a new year, many of us are resolving to change our ways, whether it’s to eat less sugar, cook more dinners, drink less booze, start working out or meditate daily.

And, for most of us, adopting these new habits will be hard, uncomfortable and inconvenient at times, like getting out of your cozy, warm bed before sunrise to exercise, dealing with the pain of sore muscles, cooking dinner instead of ordering takeout, or forgoing your 3 p.m. sugar fix or nightly glass of wine. Not always easy, I know.

When you find yourself faltering and hitting bumps in the road, I encourage you to think of this very helpful statement that's often posted on construction signs:

"Temporary Inconvenience, Permanent Improvement"

Make this your mantra. It will motivate you to stick with it by reminding you that the initial "pain" that often accompanies positive behavior change is often short-term, absolutely endurable and totally worth it.