View Full Version : The chicken or the egg?

January 5th, 2007, 10:38 AM
A good friend of mine asked me if my quitting drinking was part of an overall decision to get healthy. I wish that I could say that it was. I wish that I could say that it has become that even today, but it hasn’t.

My quitting drinking was two things: survival instinct and avoidance of pain. And of the two, I think it was the latter that was my primary motivation, at least in the beginning. The pain of drinking had finally become so great that I was willing to endure the pain of not drinking, if you know what I mean. I became willing to do whatever it took to not suffer that way any more. After a while, the acute memory of the pain went away, and that’s when the survival instinct kicked in. I was no longer abstaining to avoid pain; I made the conscious choice to continue abstaining because I knew my life depended on it.

Drinking alcohol to excess was only one of several bad behaviors I practiced. I also smoked, ate a lot of fast food, and got zero exercise. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to change my life and get healthy…. in fact I still smoke, eat fast food, and get very little exercise. (These behaviors are works in progress…) The point is that I made a decision to quit drinking, rather than a decision to get healthy. But all of these behaviors are tied to my self-esteem. When I don’t care about myself, it’s easy to treat myself badly. But when I stopped drinking, I gave myself a very powerful message: I am worth something. I have reinforced that message with hypnotherapy and meditation, and it feels really good. I’ve started feeling guilty for treating myself badly in those other ways. Why should I continue to breathe toxic fumes, eat terrible food and allow my body to go down the tubes with time? I’ve gone to this much trouble to quit drinking… why keep up these other self-destructive behaviors?

So for me, I originally made a “micro” decision to quit drinking… I didn’t give a damn about the rest of it, but it is morphing into a “macro” lifestyle makeover, in the end. I’m becoming more and more motivated, with time, to tackle these other behaviors one by one. In the end, they all add up to a healthy lifestyle and taking care of myself.

I know some of you must have done this the other way around. Did you make a “macro” decision to become healthy, and quitting drinking was a part of that decision? I’m just curious about this, because I see how sobriety fits into the holistic picture of good health (physical, mental, and spiritual). It has always amazed me, too, to see how many people give up one addiction and let others run rampant in their lives – but this doesn’t happen if you put sobriety into the whole scheme of good health.

I guess what I’m trying to figure out is this: is there a right or a wrong way to do this? I feel as if I’m going through my brain, flipping one switch at a time. (One for alcohol, another for bad diet, another for exercising, another for smoking, etc.) Is there some kind of “master switch” in there that I’m not aware of?

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

~ Mike

January 5th, 2007, 12:58 PM
Hi Mike,
I did it the other way around at first. I decided to get healthy - eat right, exercise, quit smoking - before I decided to quit drinking. I lived next to a very large beef cattle feed lot years ago in California and since then have been vegetarian. I was struggling with eating fast food before this because of books I had read. The feedlot experience sealed the deal. I also started exercising almost everyday at that time and, because of this, quit smoking. I was still drinking though. I guess I was just young enough back then to bounce back on the right track quicker. Now, though, I find the smoking and lack of exercise are directly determined by how much and how often I drink. I still can't stomach the fast food though! So yes, now the inspiration to quit drinking is based on the fact that I cannot stay healthy when I am hungover anymore.
As for me, I feel that drinking or not drinking is the master switch.
ON = drinking + overall unhealthy lifestyle
OFF = no drinking + overall more health

January 5th, 2007, 01:30 PM
For me the drink made me smoke more and eat anything (very quickly) so just by dealing with one thing others are following without trying. I will tackle the cigarettes (again) when I am fine about not drinking, when i've tried to quit smoking before, I was still drinking...no wonder I failed so many times xx

January 5th, 2007, 01:50 PM
Interesting topic Mike. I have always had pretty healthy physical habits minus the alcohol. I have always worked out regularly, ate a pretty healthy diet, gone to bed early (usually by 10 pm), never smoked and have associated with mostly normies who rarely drink. What I have neglected most my life resides deep inside of me. I'm one of those who needed a drink long before I ever took my first one. Lots of fear, anxiety, low self esteem have plagued me all my life. Slowly I am learning how to peel back the layers of the onion and trust in God's presence in my life to bring me peace. This is what needs to be done to reach ultimate health in my life.

January 5th, 2007, 02:10 PM
Mornin Mike ....I'm not a lta, but am now on day 30, and the plan is to just keep on truckin' with that so i'm on a practice visit (actually...how long DO you have to be sober for before you are actually counted as a lta?)..
I am a bit of chicken AND egg. When I was drinking, I used to try desperately hard to eat real well to try to counter the effects of the vino (this of course all went to pot after a couple of bottles or three, as the munchies would then kick in, and the wholefood diet was then topped up with fat, cholestrol and bad carbs...this would happen pretty much every day...green food for 12 hours, then greasy food for 12...(my body must have thought I had some sort of dieting personality disorder vera the vegan versus mary the muck muncher...)
Now i do not drink, I find it easier to stick to the healthy stuff, and have far more incentive for doing it... I have engaged so much in visualisations of my booze monster after a few of your threads Mike, and I tend to focus on my body when doing it.
My bod. is a lovely old victorian villa I have found in the country... Now, I know from the outside that it SHOULD have good views, but from inside, I see nothing, as the windows are broken, and bramble and tradescantia have forged their way in with stems as thick as a wrist, curling around every pole and beam and covering the floor to a depth with wild, matted bush...these are my wine weeds!....I started hacking away at these from day one AF with a rusty sickle, and it took a lot of sweat and blood to clear the first metre...it seemed like an impossible task...there was so much to do, and my tool was inadequate...still...every day, when I got home from work, I made myself chop, chop, chop away...sticking to manageable portions of growth, a metre a time. After a couple of weeks, I started to notice something odd, the sickle was shinier, sharper and ...was that my imagination, or did those weeds look weaker??? My muscles had built up too, and I had got into the stride with my 'swing'...I was clearing away bigger and bigger patches all the time...this goes on...I won't give you the full novel, but, what I have noticed, as the windows are now clear and the floor has made a reappearance, is that each room is full of junk...bags and bags of rubbish that I never noticed at first as they were covered with the weeds... there's the unhealthy diet bag, the lack of motivation bag, the bag of sloth and a huuuuge trunk in the corner which is the 'smoking steamer' ....I must sort these out too...no point clearing, rebuilding and painting, and then leaving bags of crap scattered about everywhere!!!!!
I am now tackling the rubbish, I must admit though...the food bag is the smallest, so I have started with that first...and my nemesis is THAT steamer in the corner...(I have a notion to put this one in the attic for a while LOL), but, I WILL sort them out...I hate a messy house...really hate it (my daughter spends countless hours amusing herself by drawing comic strips of the 'she hulk' on yet another cleaning mission!!!) and that is why this is the best sort of mental image for me, because I will not stop until it is tidy...it may take a while, and I may not invite any one over for dinner until I've finished...but this house will be on the covers of homes and gardens!!

xoxo Love your posts Mike, but seriously have trouble imagining the writer of 'two paths' jamming a big mac into his face!!!!! :h, you are always an inspiration and were my real estate agent for my new house...thanks! you got me a GREAT deal...it's going to be the best place I ever lived in xxx

January 5th, 2007, 02:56 PM
Hello everyone..I still haven't read all the post, but wanted to drop in real quick..

Mike, you always bring good questions to light..I don't think there is a right or a wrong way to quit. This time I actually stopped drinking so that I could feel the pain that I was trying to avoid..I knew that the pain that came from the hangovers and low self esteem that resulted from being a slave to the drink was secondary and self imposed..I knew that there was something deeper that I needed to feel...I'd been in psychotherapy for a while..a very interesting journey..one I chose because I knew that I was in a transitional place in my life and that I was going to have to go inward if I was going to move forward..I allowed myself to drink for a while..I talked to my therapist about it..we always addressed the triggers, what I was feeling when i would make the decision to drink, etc. He never suggested that I quit, or what I should do..that was really very helpful..this time around I made the decision with the awareness that my drinking was keeping me from doing what I knew was best for me..in my therapy, and in my life. I had to sit within the tension of that paradox (drinking knowing that I was inhibiting my own feeling) for a while until I became conscious enough of that tension to make a decision. Once the decision was made, it was easy for me. Now, I am still observing my feelings and observing myself avoid them in other ways..drinking is a very convenient...hit yourself over the head with a sledge hammer..method of avoiding pain..Now I have to observe the more subtle ways that I do that..food, watching too many movies..it's a process for me. Yes, I want to be healthy, I always have..I'm 48 now, but I've spent more of my life practicing healthy habits than unhealthy ones...I think I'm dealing with issues I've always had, but at a much deeper level these days, I'm focusing on paying attention to what is going on inside..from moment to moment..I'm slowing down so that I can do that..I'm eliminating things in my life that don't serve me on the deepest level. My approach to quitting the drinking this time (I quit for 16 years back in 1986) is more about what is going on inside than it is the alcohol because I've seen myself use other things, relationships, food, my art...in the same way as I did the alcohol..I found it didn't serve me to focus on the substance or the object of my attachment anymore..at least where I am right now, but that I had to dig much deeper than that..so whether it is the chicken or the egg..I don't know, I do suspect that it is more like a circle with the chicken and the egg running in cycles.

finishing 12 weeks Abs (I think I may have posted 13 or 14 the other day..but I was mistaken) I'm going to start counting months beginning Jan 16, which will make it 3 months!!!

January 5th, 2007, 03:34 PM
Hello you wonderful people!

Weemelonhead I can see a beautiful villa and Mike as usual good topic. I stopped out of complete desparation because I was not in control at all and scared to death, the depression totally killed my spirit and the hangover pain was unbearable. If it wouldn't have been for those problems I'd probably still be going strong. I'm lucky I did try to smoke a few times through-out my life but never got hooked.

Since I stopped drinking my spirit is starting to shine, health and wellness are all slowly but beautifully falling in place - like one puzzle piece at a time.
My diet I think it will come around to where I'm eating sensible. I've always tried to keep my weight down however my vanity took a back seat when it came to drinking. I have gone through many phases in eating from lots of veggies to the Akin's Diet. I'm a carb addict and up until these past months I tried to keep that under control - ya right. For now I'm trying to cut down the amount of portions but am giving myself the privledge to eat what I want - I'm eating a lot of sugar! I need to do it this way because I know myself well enough if I do to much all at once I'll fail.

Exercise - As a kid I never stopped moving and loved to run, ride my bike, skate etc. It was junior high gym class that ruined me. If you weren't one of the elite athletes you were nothing. I shut down at that time in trying to do at any sports. As an adult I tried arerobics, jogging, and biking but not for long periods of time they got in the way to my other activity. Now I'm paying the price because I have aches and pains...I am getting 30-45 minutes a day on the treadmil and working in other exercises every other day. I'm starting to look forward to getting this exercise in because of the mental gift it brings me.


January 5th, 2007, 04:21 PM
Hi there folks:

I guess how we change our lives for the better, is as varied as our personalities are.

My method was the culmination of years and years of failed attempts. Oh I could stop drinking for a month, and keep smoking, and not exercising. Or I could, stop drinking, and smoking, and exercise for 4 months, but not meditate or do the internal work.

Or I could do any combination of things, and leave out an element. Then kerplunk! Back to the bottle.

So I had to do the ?Big Kahuna?. All or nothing it was. Just the way I am I guess.

Many here refer to the ?dry drunk? from AA, and I guess it has a certain validity in my case. Many, many times I would stop my habits, and not address the underlying issues. Heck, once or twice I tried doing the psychological stuff alone, with no exercise or supplements. Again, same end result. Crying in my beer.

Even this past week, I went over another rough patch. No reason for it, although it could be attributable to this new EFT method I have begun using. Lot of emotional purging from past childhood traumas I think. At least that is what it seems like, and I could not sleep one wink a couple of nights ago, and got very upset the next day. In no way, in no form did the thought that a drink could ?fix? any of it, enter my mind. Instead, it was a bit of helplessness, which perhaps nothing could help. But I got through it, and today is much better, as I slept very well last night.

These are rough times that I think everyone who quits drinking long term goes through. How to live life, for the rest of your life, without the GD alcohol to buffer the waves.
I read where Og Oggilby said the first three years were hell. Oh cripes!! Well at least I have something to look forward to, if right now is hell!!

As before, I am going to leave no stone unturned. If someone says that standing on my head 30 minutes a day, reciting Lord Byron poetry, and snorting table salt will help stop drinking, I would probably try it out you know, just to see if it works. If not, I?ll try something else. Anything else, besides that GD alky!!

As Walter Cronkite used to say, ?And that?s the way it is, January 5, 2007?

Be well,


Waves 2
January 5th, 2007, 04:55 PM
Hi Mike,
I always feel inspired when I read your posts. I have never smoked, but I know that all my family have really struggled to stop. Rather than tackle two powerful addictions at once I would suggest that the next step would be to improve your diet. ( You can tell from my caption that I am not one to tackle everything at once like Xtexan.) It takes more time and planning than just grabbing a bite from the Takeaway( I hate cooking) but you must have more time than you used to. ( unless you spend all your time cleaning your new place!;) )

lots of love

January 6th, 2007, 02:43 AM
Hi all, and thanks for the feedback. It just goes to show that there is no "one size fits all" approach to this. I think we're all doing it the right way as long as it's working for us and we're heading in the right direction (toward better health).

Melon, I have to say I love the visual of your house! And you are a LTA whenever you choose... there's no time requirement. It's just a state of mind. Or more accurately, your stated goal.

Now I'm off to stand on my head for 30 minutes, recite Lord Byron poetry, and snort table salt before going to bed. :)

~ Mike

P.S. Waves -- I got some Lean Cuisine lunches for work next week. They're prepared and frozen, but they must be better for me than Taco Bell!