I will be the first to admit I have some bad habits. Okay, a lot of bad habits. And many of them would fall into the “not-good-for-me” category. But I have made some improvements. It has taken me more than fifty years, but that just proves that it’s never too late. And I still have a long way to go, so I’d better live another forty or so, at least.
For starters, there’s the chocolate thing. Now (NOW they tell us) a little bit of chocolate is not a bad thing, at least not as bad as it used to be. And at least not as long as it’s dark chocolate. Nice for me, I love dark chocolate. But there are some chocolates that I have always been prone to overdo. Like Oreos. M&Ms. Kisses. And I got away with it for a long time, with only some extra poundage to show for it. Then, not long ago, those little binges started making me feel absolutely awful. Stomach pain, pounding head, other symptoms I won’t describe. Ugh. Had to stop. Fortunately darker chocolate in smaller doses will make me feel the chocolate happy without the chocolate sick. Small victory. (And I lost some weight.)
Grocery shopping. I hate it with a purple passion. I do all the grocery shopping for the household. It is my personal hell on earth. I hate having to go to a new store, or one on another side of town. I need to go where I know where everything is so I can make my list and zoom through and get it the frak over with as fast as possible. And I have to make that list — and I have to be a little hungry when I go, so I’ll actually throw enough food in the cart to last more than a few days. Because the last thing I want to do is have to turn around and go grocery shopping again tomorrow.
Obviously with such deviant grocery shopping habits, I also have deviant eating habits. I like convenience foods and comfort foods, and convenient comfort foods best of all. And I don’t like to cook. But my recent bout of prolonged joblessness forced me to get more creative with meal components, because they were cheaper than buying all the pre-packaged stuff I normally came home with. For instance, real potatoes can be mashed or baked or cut up and roasted or pan fried or a bunch of other things. Not that I didn’t know that; I just never wanted to do the work involved until I was forced to. Well, it was more than that, really. Working in the kitchen makes my back hurt. Or it used to. A lot.
Chronic pain isn’t that conducive to forming good habits. It tends to make a person cranky and depressed. And then the cranky depression becomes another bad habit and it all seems so overwhelming and way too much to climb out from under. I estimate it has taken me close to fifteen years. Even after back surgery ten years ago to save me from disc damage and nerve damage that could have put me in a wheelchair, I continued to have back and leg pain that I thought would never completely go away. By accident I discovered that taking an antihistamine for a fire ant bite also helped my back pain. Then I read something about B-vitamins and nerve health and I started taking supplements, which also helped. Then I read that doing five minutes of bicycle crunches every day is a great way to get and stay in shape. Ha. Ha. I decided to try that. I lasted about twenty seconds.
But I decided that twenty seconds a day could eventually turn into five minutes, so I kept at it. I’m not trying to time myself any more, because I do my crunches after I get in bed at night. So much easier on my back than the hard floor. So I started doing just ten at a time (that’s ten right-left repetitions), and now I’m up to forty. And I can do two sets of those forty. And most of the time I have no pain. That’s huge. And that’s why I think there’s some hope for me to improve on some of my other bad habits — and why I don’t ever intend to try to make myself give up chocolate completely. Because a good dog deserves a treat.