Tag Archives: breaking habits

DBT – CBT and dieting: Counting Calories…and They’re Adding Up!

I did good with my eating ALL day…until the bowl of Stouffer’s lasagna just a little while ago. Boy, it sure was good! Enjoyed every cheesy bite! Didn’t need it, just chose to have it. Put me about 200 calories higher than desirable for the day…makes for a “bad” day. Total calories today – 1465. Month average is now 1265 which is perfect for me…just where I want to be. Allows me to lose about a pound or two a month.

I’m bothered by eating more than desirable today. Did well with mindful eating ALL day…until the lasagna! However, I haven’t given up on me…yet. I’m determined to figure this out. A part of me says, “Maybe your body is just ready for maintenance eating” rather than losing weight. That’s probably Rational Mind! Emotional Mind says, “Well, I’m not ready for that. I still want to lose about 10-15 pounds” (Yes, I’ll still be within ideal body weight and more where I was most of my life before I got heavy in my late 20’s.)

The Wise Mind thought crossed my mind, “Just exercise some each day, that’ll take care of those extra calories.” My stubborn, Emotional Mind responded, “Nah, I’d just rather try to eat less.” In other words, I’m too lazy to exercise…I have other interests and things to do…I want to do the diet my way…not the way I know is best. So, I’ll persist in my stubborn ways and see how it goes.

Rational Mind says, “You can continue to try it your way, but if it isn’t working, you’ll have to try something else.” And, Wise Mind says…”See that bowflex and stepping machine behind you…” I think I’d rather give up that chocolate Snickers protein bar (290 cals) rather than exercise an hour! I’d much rather do that!

Touchdown Minnesota…Can’t help to favor Favre!

Tomorrow I’ll eat like I did today, but not allow myself to have the Snicker’s protein bar.

My God, what an awesome play by Green Bay…major pass from Rodgers…touchdown Green Bay. Score is tied. Exciting game!

Using DBT and CBT to lose weight

I’ve lost 145 pounds and now I have to go on a diet! That’s where I’m at right now. I have steadily lost a ton of weight in 4 years and I find myself in need of going on a diet! September was a VERY bad month for me. I had many more bad days with very high calories than usual (in the 1800-2100 range with one day even higher!) Such high calorie days typically happen just a couple times a month…not many times! Last month (September), I ended up with almost 200 more calories per day than typical. May sound like nothing…but, that adds about 1-1/2 pounds to me over the month…and it kept me from losing any weight.

That may not sound bad…but, the problem is…I really struggled this past month. I was “out-of-control” with eating. I’d pig out some days…and then work hard other days to get my overall monthly calorie count lower…only to have more pig-out days…followed by major attempts to control my eating…which still very often resulted in more calories for me than usual. Overall, I did not have a natural eating pattern this month…it was a time of out-of-control eating.

I recognized that I was in a period of early relapse with my eating disorder (over-eating)…and that if I didn’t gain control, I would lose control, and end up “out-of-control” and back in a cycle of weight gain. I was mindful that I could end up gaining a bunch of weight and perhaps end up fatter than when I started. Scary. Don’t want to go there on purpose.

Because I live, eat, and breathe the teachings of the DBT-CBT “Out-of-Control” Therapy Workbook, I began dealing with this early relapse and my neurotic self. Towards the end of the month when I thought,

“Oh my God, I’m going to gain all my weight back”

and various other statements of an Emotional Mind panic, Rational Mind came to my rescue.

“If I don’t gain control, I will lose control, and gaining weight is certainly likely. I’ve done well with this diet thing for 4 years. I’ve been within ideal body weight for a year now. I’ve been losing weight up until this month. I’ve got the skills, willpower, and know-how to get control of myself. I’ve just gotta tighten up and get a Game Plan for getting through this.”

Wise Mind clicked on and I thought, “I’ll just go back to the early days of my diet and start over. I’ll do things like I did back then. I’ll just start from scratch.”

Emotional Mind clicked on, “I can just not eat much tomorrow and the next day, that’ll cut my calories down a lot for the month…and more in line with a normal month.”

Rational Mind and Wise Mind jumped me, “That’s a bad idea. You know better. You’ll just end up pigging out again. You can’t do that. It’s certainly tempting, but not the way to go. I just need to tighten up and do things like I did in the early days of my dieting.”

Emotional Mind reared up again, “Well, I can just starve myself tomorrow and the next day so my calories won’t be bad for the month and THEN I can start over. I don’t want to have such a bad month…and show a 4-pound weight gain this month. That’s awful”

Rational Mind said, “What’s done is done. It’s just numbers. You’ll show a gain this month, and then next month, you’ll go down again. It’s not real weight, well, just a pound or so. You don’t gain 4 pounds eating an extra 5000 calories a month, that’s just a pound and a half or so…and really instead of losing a pound n’ a half this month, you’re just breaking even. You’re on your period so the extra weight is probably just water.”
Wise Mind said, “Chill, you’ll be okay. This is just temporary. Let’s just get a plan.”

So, I began thinking of how I used to do things. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to be on a diet! I had developed such good eating habits that it became a natural part of living, more a lifestyle than a diet! I actually eat a very healthy diet…I’m just eating more…more yogurt, more fruit, more chocolate protein bars!

Part of my diet basics is to let the people I’m around know about my struggles and to solicit their help. So, I told the family I had a very bad September, that I need to tighten up…and that I don’t want to start the weight gain cycle. I asked them not to offer me food and to put their food up when they’re done. Of course, they’re not perfect in my recovery, so when I notice they’ve left something out that could be tempting to me, I put it up!

I’m also walking past temptation telling myself, “I can’t just eat that, I’m on a diet” instead of having a couple bites, a bowl, or a handful. I’m setting limits because my wants now are much greater than they’ve been for a long time…and I guess I’ve slacked off too much. I find myself eating because I feel like it, rather than eating when I’m hungry.

I’m also setting limits and making choices about when I’m going to eat…not just allowing myself to graze.
I also decided that I would count calories through the day instead of just doing it at night. This will increase my mindfulness of calorie intake throughout the day.

This morning as I was waking up and thinking about my day, I decided what I would eat. Since I slept late, I’d eat two meals and an evening snack.

I’ve also thought about the work week because my calories are higher during the week than on the weekends. I will bring a limited amount of food to work. For instance, instead of a huge bag of grapes that should last a few days, I’ll bring about 100 calories worth. I’m in the process of figuring out what my food day will be like at work and what I’ll have at home in the evening.

So, I’ve gone back to some of the basics, but, I’m not perfect in recovery. I’ve had one “bad day” this first four days of October, but three very good days. My overall calorie count is lower than desirable, but I have faith in myself, I’ll be able to get it up without any problem!

FYI: DBT-CBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy)

A Quit Smoking Success Story…and I’m Even Losing Weight!

I thought I should write a follow-up to the “I Quit Smoking” blog entries over the past few months. So, here goes!

I’m pleased to say that I’ve successfully quit smoking! It’s been about 5-6 weeks now. No constipation…no bloating…and I’ve actually lost a couple pounds! Life is good. I’m still eating Activa type yogurt – about 2 a day and I’m chewing the nicotine gum – about 4-5 pieces a day. I have continued to have less soda per day (about 2 cans per day now) and have a protein bar about 5 times a week (the mega Snickers 21g protein ones!) instead of about 2 per day! Those are a treat and usually take care of chocolate or sweet cravings. I don’t think I’ve done a sweet binge in months since I’ve been eating them! I have been eating a ton of fruit though…that probably helps with the sweet binges! I have lost almost 150 pounds in the past four years so controlling the diet thing is very important to me. Yes, I was QUITE HEAVY, but part of that 150 was pregnancy weight – had an unexpected pregnancy during those four years! However, most of the 150 was part of a slow, insidious weight gain over 12 years! Do you know 100 extra calories a day adds about 1 pound of extra weight per month…and 12 per year! That’s probably how most of us end up so heavy…slow and steady! I’ve written the DBT-CBT Workbook (Dialectical Behavior Therapy – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Workbook) which focuses on life-destroying addictions and behaviors like drugs and alcohol, self-injury (like cutting), verbal and physical aggression – but it only touches on eating disorders – like anorexia, bulimia, and overeating. I wish I had the energy to write a DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook for losing weight. Sure would be helpful to A LOT of people. I have certainly used the skills and understandings in the workbook to quit smoking and to get through this weight loss thing! I have to live, eat, and breathe DBT-CBT on a daily basis to deal with myself! I am a full-time job!

Oh, one other thing…I’ve been eating a lot of sunflower seeds in the evening, that helps to bind the hands and the mouth instead of smoking. I don’t have salt issues, so the seeds work for me! I’m at the point that I rarely think about smoking…can get into the car and take the 23-minute drive to work (or home) and it never crosses my mind. I did think about smoking last Saturday morning…that was a nice smoking time for me…get up, relax, have a few smokes…and start the day! However, got through the thoughts and urges to smoke by reminding myself how glad I am to not smoke…and to be free of that addiction. It also helped that I had lost a “new pound” that morning when I weighed…so that was certainly a positive!

I expect this will be my last “Quit Smoking” blog…and maybe I’ll make myself start writing a Diet Tips one!

I’ve Quit Smoking…and I Think I’ve Stopped the Bloating, Weight Gain, and Constipation!

Well, good things are happening! I’m so excited! I think the latest revisions to my non-smoking DBT-CBT Game Plan are going to be successful. I stopped smoking 9 days ago…and this time, my weight is stable, no bloating, no constipation…life is good! I think cutting down on the soda and the protein bars has helped as well as chewing a few pieces of Nicorette’s type gum per day. Haven’t rode horses in a week, so exercise hasn’t changed much! But, so far, so good. Hope this major blessing continues. I feel so fortunate that something is finally working…given how I’ve struggled with quitting for 6 months. I’m not “out of the woods” yet, so I am going to have to continue to be Mindful of my goal to remain smoke-free…and I’m going to have to keep on keeping on.

Honestly, I’ve quit smoking successfully about a dozen times since I’ve been in my early teens…and I’ve always quit knowing I’d smoke again someday. But, this time, I’m not sure that I will ever smoke again…because I’ve had hell this past 6 months trying to quit. I’ve never had trouble quitting…once I decided to quit. This time around has been very different. I guess it’s the effects of aging or something…but this bloating, constipation, weight gain thing has kicked my butt. I’ve stopped smoking and have restarted smoking about 6 times this year… because of MAJOR weight gain, bloating, and constipation! There’s about 5 or 6 other blog entries documenting this struggle! I hope when I write this weekend, I will have about 12-13 smoke-free days under my belt!

Quit smoking the DBT-CBT therapy way: Attempt #7 – Making my “failures to succeed” successful failures

Here I go again. Another attempt to quit smoking. This constitutes try number 6 or 7 this year. However, I’m stubborn, hard-headed, and persistent…and I’ll keep trying until I make it. This is something that is do-able and something I’m able to do!

My last blog entry was a week or two ago and I had resumed smoking because of major bloating, constipation, and weight gain…like 7-10 pounds in 7-10 days. This has happened each time I have quit smoking this year.

My plan is to quit on Tuesday, my next work day. No smokes on the way to work…and none thereafter! Over the past two weeks, I’ve noticed that I’ve bloated even while smoking; however, I haven’t had the constipation and weight gain. The bloating has come and gone. So, I became mindful of the bloat patterns and noticed it seemed to occur when I drank soda and ate a couple protein bars. So, I gave up soda and protein bars for about 5 days and I had absolutely no bloating. WOW! I began eating some protein bars the last few days because I started feeling VERY tired. However, I did so in moderation and I’ve had a few sodas. Only one bloat session occurred. I’m going to practice moderation with both of these because I like them…and don’t want to have to give them up, TOO!

I am going to start exercising today. I’ll get the junk off the fancy treadmill and do that in front of the TV. I’ll ride horses with my daughter a couple times a week. I need to do something to offset the decrease in metabolism due to not smoking…and to offset a couple hundred extra calories that I might consume daily due to quitting smoking. I’ve lost more weight than I care to admit in the last four years and I have no intention of putting on a lot of weight. I can tolerate a few pounds…but then, it must come off again!

I’ve also added several servings of fruit per day over the last week. I’ll keep that up because it will help offset constipation.

If I start bloating again, I’ll buy some nicorettes and give that a try. If I fail this time again, I have a Dr’s appointment in a few weeks and I’ll try something else. I WILL make this happen.

Here’s an excerpt from the DBT-CBT therapy workbook that I wrote…and it’s something I believe in and I live by. It’s from a section entitled, “Failing to Succeed…or Successful Failures.” It’s in Chapter 7, the Rational Mind chapter…where the Emotional Driven Lies we tell ourselves are challenged through Rational Mind. This excerpt relates to the “I’ll never be able to do it.” and the “Everything I try gets screwed up somehow” type of lies we tell ourselves that sabotage our recovery.

“When we fail, we need to SEEK AN UNDERSTANDING of WHY WE FAILED. We need to LEARN FROM IT and CORRECT WHAT WE’RE DOING. We need to change or adjust our plan to deal with what went wrong. Successful “failures” start with PLAN A and go to PLAN B, C, D, E…and so on until things work out! Despite their failures, THEY KEEP ON KEEPING ON!

It’s also important to be Mindful of our successes and accomplishments and to note WE’VE ALL HAD SOME! We also need to realize that WHEN WE’VE TRIED…when we’ve REALLY STUCK WITH IT, we’ve overcome challenges…and WE HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL. Consider the 8-18 attempts at recovery that it takes people ON AVERAGE to become clean n’ sober. Through our recovery attempts, we learn about our triggers and relapse patterns. We learn we REALLY HAVE TO change the things in our life that we DON’T WANT TO CHANGE…things that we’ve refused to change, like friendships, activities, and abusive or conflict-filled relationships. Because of our repeated failures at recovery, we FINALLY SUCCEED! That’s because we’ve revised our Recovery Plan SO MANY TIMES that we FINALLY GET ENOUGH OF THE NECESSARY CHANGES made! We’re hard-headed and we’ve got to learn from OUR experiences…and in the world of recovery…these experiences ARE OFTEN RELAPSES.

Changing our LIFESTYLE and our LIFE IS VERY DIFFICULT. We need to ACCEPT OUR FAILURES and UNDERSTAND they’re a NATURAL part of the LEARNING PROCESS…IF we learn from them.

The truth is, WHEN WE KEEP TRYING, things FINALLY work out. Sometimes, we don’t succeed because we aren’t going about it the right way. Therefore, we need to get a NEW PLAN. Sometimes, we try to do more than is do-able at one time. We plunge head first when we’d be better off wading in and taking smaller steps! There are many reasons why we haven’t reached our goals. Fortunately, most of these problems can be overcome with PERSISTENCE and a REVISED GAME PLAN!”

So I will practice what I preach and I’ll keep trying until I make it. I’ll just DBT-CBT my way through it and rather than failing to succeed, I will make my attempts successful failures.

The following are some quotes off the side margin of the aforementioned section in the DBT-CBT Recovery Workbook:

“The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Failure: I expect to fail so I don’t try very hard …so, I fail.”

“If we don’t put forth a FULL effort, we’ll never REALLY KNOW if we can succeed.”

“Some of our greatest leaders and wealthiest people failed many times before they achieved great success.”

“We never fail until we quit trying. Success comes to those who are determined to overcome obstacles
in their path.”

“When we understand our failures are a part of the learning process, then we can constructively accept our failures and learn from them.”

This relates to the 8-18 tries at recovery it takes on average to recover from substance abuse: “Some say, ‘Been there, done 14, I’ve got to be real close to making it!’ Folks who are new to recovery are discouraged, ‘I don’t want to do this that many times.’ Be Mindful that 8-18 is an average. Some make it on the 1st try (they need to write the book!), others on the 25th. Some make it in 3 tries, others in 20. Bear in mind though…these numbers don’t mean it’s okay to relapse 17 times ‘just because we can’ and then work real hard on the 18th try!”

How to Get Control of the Quit Smoking Bloat, Weight Gain, and Constipation! Must DBT my way through it!

I teach DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)…in fact I wrote the DBT-CBT Recovery Workbook, “Out of Control.” I have the skills and understandings for behavioral change…I’ve recovered from many things…and I’ve kicked many habits…but this one is kicking my butt this time. This is a follow-up to two previous “I’M TRYING TO STOP SMOKING” WordPress blogs. It’s been about two weeks since my last blog on trying to quit smoking and the bloating and weight gain that compels me to resume smoking. So, I’ve been smoking again for the last two weeks. It’s really a love-hate relationship with smoking…I love to smoke, I hate to smoke. I hate it more than I love it and I’m determined to quit. My plan continues to be to get a Game Plan for quitting. I am going to a conference tomorrow in California on risk assessment, the Reid Meloy PCL-R one. I didn’t want to suffer the agony of being three sizes bigger and “feeling fat,” so I’ve allowed myself to smoke for this period…two weeks plus the conference.

Folks in my DBT Group would say I am just sabotaging myself and falling into the trap of Emotional Mind by coming up with Emotion-Driven Lies and Excuses to continue smoking…that my excuse to smoke is nothing but an excuse to smoke. Alike many people who sabotage themselves this way, I would say, “I’ve got a plan to quit and this is part of my plan. If you knew me, you’d know I was going to quit…and this is part of my quitting plan.” And everyone else would say…”Bull Sheets…that’s just bull, Sheets!” And I would say…”Just sit back and watch. I’ve quit many things in my life and I will quit this…come hail or high water…I’ll find an umbrella to make it through this storm.” And, I will. I’m determined to quit and I’ll find a way. If I knew that smoking two more weeks and through the conference would cause me lung cancer, I’d put this cigarette out right here, right now, and call it quits. Glad I don’t know that! I do think about it though and I’ve asked God to see me through this…and keep me safe while I get ‘er done.

I sent an email out to the Docs and nurse practitioners at the hospital yesterday and was just about desperate enough to send an email out across campus. I explained this bloating – constipation – weight gain problem and I asked if they knew of a medication or patch that would minimize this. I read a bit about Chantix and stopped at the side effects of constipation and gas! I haven’t studied any more…so, I don’t know if Nicorette gum or other nicotine replacement therapies will help. I’m hoping some readers will share their experiences and we can figure out what to do. Many people are reading this blog, so many are struggling with the same thing. Please leave some comments and let us know what works and what doesn’t. I’d really like a magic pill or patch so I can easily quit smoking. I’ve quit 5-6 times this year and I’m fine mentally, emotionally, and psychologically after the first couple days…until this bloat thing happens and my weight soars…and my pant size increases by 2. So, if I can get this bloat thing figured out, I’d be quit again in no time. I seek the “No pain…big gain” method of recovery!

So, if I don’t know of anything else to do when I return from the conference, I’ll set another quit date, try Nicorette gum or something similar and go at it again. I understand that the gum is expensive…and I did try to sabotage myself with that excuse…but, my Rational Mind isn’t going to put up with that crap and quickly reminded me that smoking is more expensive. Ended that. I do have a doctor appointment set up in early July and I can get some information from my PCP at that time if Nicorettes doesn’t work. I’ve also become Mindful that my current diet is very high in fiber and protein and that may be why I am having this new problem with quitting smoking. I’ve always been able to quit for long periods of time and have never had this problem…until this year. Maybe I have to change my diet and eat more roughage rather than soft protein bars. Maybe I have to exercise more often. Do you know that riding a horse burns about 200 calories an hour? All I have to do is to go outside, sit on a horse for an hour, and let it take me for a walk! That’s sure a lazy woman’s way to exercise. If I can hold on while the horse gallops, I can burn about 500 an hour! I thought about putting a sign on my horse’s butt and trotting past power-walkers on the road or galloping past a jogger that says “I’m burning more calories than you!” FUN-NY! Yes, I know I’m not getting the same cardio benefits…nor pulmonary…but the mental picture is quite amusing!

Long blog short…I’m still smoking and I’m not done quitting! I’ll keep folks posted on this journey and what I learn as I go…and what I have to do to get there! Hope there’s a magic pill!

Trying to DBT-CBT My Way Through Quitting Smoking – The Battle Between Emotional Mind and Rational Mind

This is my 5th or 6th time to quit smoking this year. This is something I’ve always been really good at. I’ve successfully quit smoking over a dozen times in my life. No joke…I really mean it! I’ve quit for long periods of time, like years at a time…and then, I pick up a cigarette…and here I go again!

I have most often quit when I’ve gotten sick. It was always a “planned quit”…”I’ll quit next time I get sick and cigarettes taste horrible.” That was a very effective plan. The problem this time…is that I haven’t gotten sick enough to quit and I’ve had to find other reasons to quit. No, please don’t pray for me to get so sick that I quit! Don’t want to go there on purpose…especially in this age of swine flu!

I’ve also quit several times due to pregnancy. I’ve also quit before when I dated someone who didn’t smoke…I knew what it was like for a non-smoker to kiss a smoker…been on the receiving end of such a kiss…and it’s plumb nasty! All in all, I’ve smoked and have quit many times over my 40 year smoking career.

Because I didn’t get sick over the last 18 months…well, not sick enough to quit smoking…I’ve been smoking for 18 months now…with the exception of some short periods of not smoking over the last 4-1/2 months. I did a planned quit on Jan. 5th – the day I went back to work after the holidays. I did fine for about 5 days…my weight had been going crazy and I gained about 13 pounds REAL FAST…like over a two-week period when I was eating 1200-1300 calories a day. Being a professional dieter (like I am a professional smoking quitter!)…My Rational Mind knew that weight wasn’t REAL weight…that it was water, poop, whatever…but, it wasn’t FAT. However, given I’ve lost a ton of weight over the last several years and the last thing I want to do is to gain all my weight back…my Emotional Mind was going crazy…and I was freakin’ out…

I was telling a friend about the weight gain…the bloating…and all the concomitant gas. I told her I shouldn’t be gaining weight because I wasn’t eating that much. She asked what I was eating…and I bragged on eating a very healthy diet of nuts. Well, thank goodness she knew a little something about nuts. She told me that nuts cause bloating…and can cause all that extra gas! I told her I sure wanted to get rid of all the bloating but I was rather enjoying having the ammunition to get even with my gassy family. Well, I did a bunch of googling and found out she was right! So, I got off the nuts and took up smoking AGAIN. My weight dropped as quickly as it came on…and I was RELIEVED!

My Dad was hospitalized for a stroke on Feb 1st…about 3 weeks into my most recent smoking indulgence period. Baylor Heart Hospital in Dallas is NO SMOKING all over the campus…there are NO smoking places…inside or out…imagine that…a heart hospital that does not support smoking. So, given we were living at the hospital for a week, and given my father was a long time smoker and obviously just had to quit cold turkey, I had to give up smoking AGAIN.

That went just fine for a few weeks…and since I wasn’t smoking, I figured it was a good time to start the birth control pills my doctor has prescribed for pre-menopausal hormone replacement. I tried them about two years ago…but my weight went crazy and I quit. Well, this time wasn’t any different…my weight went crazy again. I was gaining 1-2 pounds a day…and about 8 days, 12 pounds, and two sizes later, I quit the pills three days early and started smoking AGAIN!

As expected, my weight went right back down…and I lost a few more pounds. YEA! Well, after about two weeks of enjoying this most recent smoking binge, I set a date to quit smoking AGAIN…on my next “return to work” day. I did just fine for about five days. I quit at the wrong time of the month…the part of the month for me that my weight goes up about 5 pounds…regardless of caloric intake. My Rational Mind knows it’s just water…maybe some extra poop…but, I’m bloated and I have to wear a larger size…and that’s NOT okay. It was also Easter time and my child brought a large bag of some VERY FRESH chocolate covered raisins home and of course, she had to show me what she had. Okay, those were consumed the first night, but I skipped dinner to offset the increased calories. The next day, my friend visits and brings over Easter candy that she found on sale…of course, it’s chocolate stuff…and of course, I consume that…however, because I missed nutrition the night before, I ate real food, too.

Okay, we’re doing “the weight done gone crazy” thing again. My Emotional Mind was freakin’ out…so I asked my husband to bring me some smokes on his way home. I told my family and my friend that I would quit smoking AGAIN once my weight was under control and to NOT BRING SWEETS INTO THE HOUSE if they wanted me to stay off smoking. Our recovery has to be a family affair…our support people need to support us and to help keep our environment as temptation free as possible. Very few people will recover if they live in an environment filled with temptation. That’s why we’re told that we have to change people, places, and things.

Okay…a few weeks went by and I quit again. I quit for five days and I started smoking again because I was stressed out at work…and just because I wanted to. It wasn’t about weight…it was about MY WANTS. I WANTED to smoke.

So, now here we are at Saturday, May 23rd, 2009. I’ve quit AGAIN. I’ve been off cigarettes since Tuesday, May 19th when I went back to work after a long weekend. The week went well, though Tuesday at 4pm when it was getting close to quitting time (at work), I was thinking about the 23 minute drive home and how I could stop off and pick up some smokes…and how nice that would be. I thought about how much I REALLY WANTED a cigarette…and how I was really “Jones-ing” to smoke.

As I sat on the pot at work…my Emotional Mind and Rational Mind was battling it out. My Emotional Mind desire was to smoke. My Rational Mind was fighting hard to talk me out of it and my Wise Mind was telling me to GET THROUGH THE MOMENT…go straight home…you’ll be alright…you’ve done great all day. My Emotional Mind was coming up with all these schemes to smoke, like “I could just smoke at night…and not smoke during the day.” and, “Remember, I don’t want to live ‘til I’m 90 and have to live in a nursing home…if I smoke, I’ll die in my 70’s and not have to deal with that misery…and it’ll be better for my family that way.”

Well, Rational Mind fought back and told me, “It’s an Emotion-Driven Lie to think that you’ll just smoke in the evenings…that may work one day and then you’ll be back to smoking full-time AGAIN…that’s bull Sheets.” Finally, after conducting this fierce battle over the porcelain pot, my Rational Mind spoke again in my sister’s tone of voice…and said, “Think about what you’re doing to your lungs.” – oh thanks a lot for that Rational Mind…spoil my fun. Then, my own voice kicked in with Rational Mind and asked, “What do you desire more…to be a smoker…or a non-smoker?”

Well, that was a defining moment for me…and I said in a strong voice (inside my head)…”I most desire to be a non-smoker.” and…that was it…I sighed deeply, flushed, and went on with my evening. I drove right home and it was wild…while I waited at the Walmart light, it occurred to me that I hadn’t thought about cigarettes until just that moment when I thought about not thinking about cigarettes. That was pretty cool!

I’ve done great until today, Saturday…the 23rd as referenced above. I’ve gained three pounds because it’s that time of the month. At the beginning of this most recent non-smoking attempt, Wise Mind suggested that I wouldn’t start freakin’ out until I gained 8 pounds…to give myself a larger window before taking action! I weighed one more pound on Wedn morning, one more on Thurs…and one more on Friday. I was the same weight this morning.

That should be exciting because maybe the monthly weight gain is slowing down…and the eating an extra 100-200 calories a day not smoking isn’t adding up too fast. My Emotional Mind was a bit disappointed…because if I would have gained another pound or two, I could have smoked again. I was actually disappointed. I even weighed a second time just to be sure. Aren’t we sick?! I say “we”…because we folks who struggle with recovery do all sorts of things to sabotage ourselves…so we can return to our habits and addictions.

Of course, I was Mindful of my mind games and reminded myself that I want MORE to be a non-smoker, save the money, breathe better, it’s more professional, I don’t want to be burdened with the habit and the NEED to smoke when it’s inconvenient and I’m going to be late for a meeting, I’m smoking up my book profits, God’s been good to me and look how I’m taking care of his blessing….etc. I also reminded myself that I told my Group on Wednesday about what helped me to win the relapse battle on Tuesday (what do I desire more)…and how awful it would be…to have to let my Group down by telling them that I’m smoking again. What a horrible example that is. What a hypocrite I would be. I’m encouraging them to change everything in their lives as they try to quit life-encompassing habits like drugs and alcohol…and I can’t overcome smoking. All these Rational Mind thoughts attacked that sick Emotional Mind Game…but, I did think that I could just not smoke in the mornings…that I wouldn’t smell like smoke during Group…and if they asked, I could lie. The faces, the stories, and the hearts of some of my Group Members flashed through my mind…and the guilt trumped my desire to smoke.

Today is Saturday and it’s a time when I spend long hours on the computer. It’s a time when I really enjoy smoking…one cigarette after another. It’s a very convenient and relaxing time to smoke. So, today has been tough. I’m glad I have no smokes at home, I’m glad the store is about 10 minutes and a major hassle away…and that I hate leaving my home on my day off…and my husband hasn’t said, “I’m going to the store, want anything?” I did hear my boy ask his Dad if he was going to “Buffalo Fina” after he drove to a friend’s home to feed their horses. Thank goodness, my husband said, “No, I haven’t thought about it.” Thank goodness I didn’t say, “Hey, could you pick me up a pack of smokes.” I’ve had to remind myself so many times today what it is that I really want…and it’s to be a non-smoker.

I ate fine today…but a part of me wishes I will have gained an extra pound in the morning. I did pray this time around for God to help me through this. I told him that unlike in the past, I may not be able to do this on my own this time…that it was getting harder. I’m off work tomorrow and Monday…Memorial Day weekend. Lord, keep me focused…keep me Mindful of what my goals are…help me through the rough moments…and help me to be bursting with pride and excitement on Tuesday when my Group asks, “Did ya’ smoke?”…and I can say “Came close…came real close, but worked through the moment…for hours and hours over that long weekend!” See me through this Lord, Amen. This makes me smile and gives me hope that I’ll make it through. I don’t want to be a disappointment to others…I want to be an inspiration.

UPDATE: 5-26-09 (Tuesday)
I think I made it through! Got through the long weekend WITHOUT smoking. Had several tough moments each day…really desired to smoke…but used all my Rational Mind – Wise Mind – Talking Myself Through the Moments skills to make it through. Been off cigarettes 8 days now…guess I saved about $40. Almost enough to purchase another pair of boots off Ebay! I’ve probably made it through the toughest point…the long weekend. I bet I can be done with cigarettes…if I choose to be.

Something my patients taught me is that we don’t just relapse when bad things happen…we also relapse when positive things happen…that fun, excitement, good news, and similar positive experiences are also a relapse trigger. I’ve twice experienced this during my 5-6 attempts at not smoking this year. About 2 weeks ago, I relapsed into smoking following an exciting event (good news) and great news this weekend just about sent me to the store to buy some smokes. Celebrating, partying, drinking….and smoking all go together. Add to that the memories of the best times as a kid…often involved smoking, too…and drinking…and partying! It’s just Emotional Mind experience that we have to talk ourselves through. Some Rational Mind statements for me include…”That was then, this is now…those WERE some fun, carefree times. Life is different now. Smoking is a bad thing for me now.” “I MOST DESIRE not to smoke. I want to be a non-smoker more than I want to smoke.” “This moment will pass…I’ll get my mind involved in my work in a few minutes…and I’ll be okay for awhile.” “I want to be an inspiration to people, not a disappointment.”

By the way, my weight is good…have only gained 1 pound during “this time of the month.” I worked harder on my eating this weekend so I wouldn’t have an excuse to start smoking! I was very Mindful of my Mind Games! I made a point of putting up food my family left on the counter so I wouldn’t snack on it all day! I also ate a bunch of sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds SEEM to reduce my appetite. They’re also good cuz they give my mouth and hands something to do…a fine replacement for cigarettes. You know what else I might try…pomegranate seeds. They make for quite a bit of hand and mouth work!!! I haven’t eaten those since I was a kid! Oh Lord, I cannot cycle back to fond memories as a kid and smoking! Man, our Emotional Mind is relentless!

Copyright Statement: Material contained within this blog is copyrighted protected with all rights reserved © Melanie Gordon Sheets commencing in 2009 and extending through the present age. Please request permission to quote or otherwise use material obtained from this blog by emailing: service@dbt-cbt-workbook.com

Please visit the website www.dbt-cbt-workbook.com for more information about the DBT-CBT Workbook. The full title is “Out-of-Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior” – Recovery Works Publications, 2009.