Throughout my 20s, I remained a teetotaler. I drink alcohol now, occasionally. But it’s still not my thing. Liquor makes me vomit. Carbonated drinks make my stomach uncomfortable. I only drink once in a while, and for certain social get-togethers.
WHAT? YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTER THAN ME?
I loosened up because not drinking seemed to offend the people around me, as if they felt I was judging their lifestyle disapprovingly.
On at least two instances, I noticed a shocked, hurt, rejected, and almost angry look on the other person’s face, as if I’d sorely rejected him.
I used to prefer living on base, in on-post military housing. Living on base tends to be closer to work, and comes with less worry about the traffic piling up at the gate. Today I prefer to live off post.
In 29 Palms, California, I lived in a duplex with my family. This Marine Corporal moved in next to me, with his family, of course. Our backyards opened up to a park and playground.
One warm afternoon, soon after he moved in, he approached me with two open beers. One for him. One for me. I replied, “I’m sorry. I don’t drink.”
And by the look on his face, I decided to quickly express gratitude and welcome him to the neighborhood, ending with, “About the beer, I guess that means more for you, right?” We chatted for about an hour as we watched our kids play.
Maybe I should try the counter-offer approach; not saying no, but instead asking for an alternative.
MAINTAINING A POSITIVE BEHAVIOR IN A NEGATIVE ENVIRONMENT
It’s the same with food in general. One of my best friends sought to eliminate or reduce as much as he can from his diet, added sugars, bread products, processed foods, and pretty much any food that’s more than a handful of steps away from primitive or natural.
At the time, I appreciated his self-discipline, but I didn’t appreciate enough his reasons for it. In our small circle of friends, despite knowing this about him, we ignored it and sought to eat at places regardless of his preference.
Eventually, he relaxed his self-discipline to where he was again eating a normal (not to be confused with healthy) American diet.
Some years go by. He and I coincidentally both get stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. He lived just a few blocks from me. By then, he had returned to the dietary self-discipline he chose earlier – except of course for the times when he came to visit.
I heard him reason a few times that it was his cheat day, and was succeeding in reducing if not eliminating. It’s likely that he valued our relationship more than his diet.
HE NEVER TRIED TO SELL ME ON HIS DIET
I value his health more than my pleasure in eating.
This is the same friend who, by the way, when I first held a gun to my head, picked up his phone when I called.
He never tried to sell me on his diet. He did say, however, that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
It took about seven years after we first met, that I now eat more mindfully. Diet matters.
I discovered this on my own when I hit a plateau in my workout. I used to believe that it didn’t matter what I ate so long as I worked out and did so regularly.
Then one day I hit a plateau. I was 28. I logged my performance into a spreadsheet; push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and running. For more than a couple weeks, I just couldn’t break through.
I wondered, not enough rest? Not enough difficulty? Stretching? Other exercises?
I tried protein shakes for the first time. They worked. My scores began increasing.
Years later, I hit another plateau, I replaced my multivitamin with a supplement specific to support aerobic exercise. And I broke the plateau again. I ended the supplement when I finished the course for which I was training.
Clearly, diet matters.
ADDING AND REMOVING
Adding a protein shake and a supplement helped.
I’m now removing, as much as I can, the added sugars and bread products, and certain other eating habits.
For my birthday a couple years back, my wife got me a home food allergy test. When I got the results back in the mail, among other things, it recommended that I stay away from bread products and dairy, get more vitamin D, stay away from cadmium, and avoid cat dander and dog dander.
Well, the cats and dogs… they’re staying, but I do have three indoor air filters to remove the dander in the air. My sister has the same sensitivities I do. When she came to visit, and without allergy meds, her nose wasn’t runny, and that’s despite two dogs and a cat (we’ve gotten a second cat since then).
Are the other removals working?
I still need to more diligently apply it. I’ll let you know.