Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Self-Denial: An Experiment.

Several weeks ago, I felt convicted about the number of times per day I was checking Facebook.  The calm after our morning routine?  Better check Facebook!  Feeding Ezra and have a free hand?  Facebook Time!  Nap time? Status update and way too much perusing!  You catch my drift.  It was a mindless habit, and I felt there were far better ways to spend my time. God was telling me loud and clear.  So, I laid off of it for a week.

It's like I told my friend when I was discussing this conviction with her, "do I really need to know what *enter obscure high school classmate who I wasn't even friends with then* is having for lunch?"  The answer was no.  Of course not.  So why waste precious moments with my little family filling my head with such useless information?

The clarity of thought and refocus that I experienced throughout that week was such a refreshment to my soul.  I didn't know what anyone else was doing unless we chatted on the phone or texted, and no one knew what I was doing.  It inspired me to give up something new each week for the span of a week, and to redirect old habits.  Eliminating something completely for a specified amount of time makes a big impact - it's realistic, achievable, and it helps me "reset".  My hope was/is that after my breaks, I'll be better aware and make the best decisions in how I fill my time, how I fill my mind, and how I fill my body.

Living in a world of excess and easy access, it's been good and healthy for me practicing such self restraint and giving myself limitations.  Hey, I give my children restrictions, why not throw some in there for myself?  Just because we are adults doesn't mean we should get everything we want when we want it.  That's not healthy.

Let's recap my weeks so far.

* FACEBOOK.

The first day of my "break",  I caught myself mindlessly opening the app on my phone without even thinking about what I was doing!  Then I gasped and quickly shut out of it before I saw anything!  If that doesn't scream "HABIT!", I don't know what does.  I was annoyed with myself.  As the days went on,  I rarely even thought about the little blue app.  I also had such a clear mind that it was amazing! Now, that may sound extreme, but I'm serious.  I could think easier, recall things quicker, and my imagination was greater!

I found myself less aware of my phone. I didn't even know where it was half the time.  I became better focused on my children, my husband, and myself.  I came up with new ideas and as goofy as this sounds, I didn't think in the form of status updates.  HA!  So ridiculous.

This was a great week, and when it was over, I crept quietly back on and you know what?  I didn't miss it a bit.  Ever since my "Facebreak", I have limited myself to checking/updating just a couple times a day, typically during nap time and after the boys are in bed (which is when I do my blogging). And some days, I don't even open it at all.  Refocus and repurpose.

* SUGAR

Now this was going to be a toughie, because I love sweet treats.  Even if it's just an Oreo after dinner, I like that little bit of sweetness in my tummy.  This happened to fall on the week that I was making dinner for my sweet friend with a new baby, and I made ooey gooey chocolate chip cookies that looked and smelled really good.  Levi was my little taste tester, and since I couldn't try them, I have no idea how they turned out.

One day I really wanted a cupcake.

Fruit and yogurt were a great substitute and by mid-week, I found myself not missing it a bit.  Actually, I went almost two weeks without sugar because even though I was free to eat it after the first week, I didn't want it.  I even lost a pound! Refocus and repurpose.

* DIET COKE

Um.  This one was the hardest by a landslide.  Guys, I am physically ADDICTED to the stuff.  I hoped that this "break" would cure me from my DC-a-day habit.  I drink one every morning (it's my coffee), and ALWAYS with Mexican food.

I had a miserable headache for three solid days.

I lasted until Thursday when Husby wanted to go out for pizza and convinced me you can't have pizza without a Diet Coke.

I failed that one miserably.  After that first sip, I threw it all out the window and drank it the rest of the week.  I couldn't help but compare this little experiment with our sin nature.  Now, even though drinking Diet Coke is not a sin (or I'd be in a world of hurt), I set out to not do it.  I told myself that for that week it was "wrong" and not to do it.  And what happened?  I was tempted, it sounded good and fun, and I gave in.  Isn't that what we do time and again as sinful beings?  We mess up (sin), fess up (confession to God), and we start over.

.... even though I didn't start over.  I'm drinking a big Diet Coke with lime as I type this.

I need an intervention.

I didn't refocus.  Diet Coke consumed my every thought that week.  I didn't repurpose.  I'm still an addict.

* CARBOHYDRATES

This specific week was supposed to be television, but I just so happened to be starting a new health plan.  So although this plan is way longer than a week, I wanted to document it.  Three of the four weeks I am reviewing here have to do with consumption, and I wish now that I had switched my weeks with some other things I have planned.  Oh well, consumption is something a lot of us struggle with! Can I get an amen?

This specific health plan limits carbs (not completely - you just eat good carbs, nothing white, etc.), so not only would I be eliminating most of the things my body was used to having, but I was also adding good, nutrient dense things to my diet.

First of all, I can't tell you how much better I feel not eating junk and an excess of carbs.  I have so much more energy, my hunger has redirected itself, I rarely think about food, and just all around feel great.  This week has been the best week for the physical portion of my body, and is something I am implementing in my lifestyle until I reach my goal of "healthy". And even then, I will probably incorporate permanently to an extent.  Refocus and repurpose.

---

These past four weeks have been really great for me.  For my body, for my health, for my mind, and my soul.  I feel like I have a greater grasp on four of the things that really had a hold on me. (Well, except for Diet Coke. Drat.) Sometimes, all it takes is a little break to open the skies and to have an awakening!  I am loving this weekly break system, and once I feel like I've run out of things, I will rotate my list and give up some of the same things.

The goal after each week was to take that thing and to put it back in it's place in my life.  So, thankfully, each of these four categories are sitting quietly on their respective branches, instead of inside the looming cloud covering everything.  Breaks are good.  Limitations are necessary.  Even for adults.  Especially for adults.

Refocus and repurpose.

Consciously and constantly.















23 comments:

  1. I think this is GREAT!!! How inspiring. I need to try this.

    The only thing I don't get is why your hubby doesn't help you kick the diet coke? He is a DOCTOR! There is so much research showing how absolutely terrible it is for you I would think he would be prying it out of your hand :)

    Good job quitting something each week, I think just the idea of "resetting" our habits is BRILLIANT!

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  2. The cookies were amazing! I'm a little embarrassed by how many I consumed. I couldn't stop myself!
    I'm impressed with your self control!

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  3. Addictions - Facebook, caffeine, alcohol, what have you - really bring me back to the 1st commandment: You shall have no other Gods before me. It's a bit like having a higher power that comes first when it shouldn't, you know? So trying to stay focused and un-addicted to things that are not good for you is basically what the Bible tells us to do. You did a great job trying to cut back on certain things you knew you weren't completely happy about - it was really brave too!

    I also recommend quitting Diet Coke, though. It's REALLY bad for you. And you would think it's better because there's no sugar but the artificial sweeteners are actually worse. If you need caffeine, try coffee or tea - they're much better for you. I used to be addicted to Pepsi Max - my Mum has "made" me drink it ever since I was little and when I grew up I realised what a horrible habit it was and I stopped, even though it was hard. And I swear, it tastes TERRIBLE now. I'm so glad I got rid of it. And I feel so much better!

    Try not to avoid carbs altogether, though - eating fruits, vegetables and brown wheat/rice, etc. is very important. But yeah, white wheat, white sugar and all of that is kind of useless even tough it tastes so good..

    Great job :)

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  4. I have a friend who gives something up every year. She doesn't choose lightly. She has given up chocolate, soda, facebook, etc. She wants to remind herself that she is in control. Not the natural man, it's an enemy to God. She says,"I'm the one in control here." I really admire her and think we should all practice more restraint.

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  5. I really need to work on the FB one. That is my own personal demon. Glad you got perspective!

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  6. I liked this post. And I am totally with you on the Diet Coke. I love it and have to have one everyday. I drink coffee in the morning, but never really feel ready to conquer my day until my DC! And sometimes, I really crave a fountain Diet Coke! mmm! the fizz!
    Back in June, we went to New Hampshire to visit my parents and drop the kids off with them for the summer. I could not for the life of me get a Fountain DC ANYWHERE!!! Even in resturants they would give me a bottled DC. When we got back to home a week later, I made my hubby stop at the first 7-11. I ran in and grabbed the bigget big gulp I could find. It was heaven.

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  7. What a pratical idea. Gives us just enough time to recognize our habits/addictions without torture. I'm constantly deleting and putting back aps like FB and blog reader, ha! I've thought about giving up sugar but have never tried.
    DP is my soda addiction! But my body let's me know when I've had enough. I drink way too much.
    Thanks for sharing and motivating!

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  8. I am SO with you on the Diet Coke. I LOVE Dr. Pepper and Diet Pepsi AND Diet Coke- I finally quit buying it at the store, and treat myself when we are having pizza or mexican food. But it's TOUGH.

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  9. I love this, and it makes me think about some of the changes that I need to make and changes in life. Thanks for making me look at this. :)

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  10. Love that you posted this today! Yesterday I went in and deactivated my FB account. For several personal reasons...but I caught myself typing in facebook.com and hitting enter before I even knew I was doing it!!! Def a HABIT! I am so happy today that I don't need to know what such and such are doing, eating, or going to. Such a freeing feeling. I also gave up soda for lent and have not drank it since... well minus a few mishaps I had some sips, and it taste totally nasty after not having it so long ago!!

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  11. Oh my gosh...I love this! Just last week my hubby and I decided to delete the FB app on our phones (I know I can still log in via Safari but still). It has been amazing to say the least. It had become such a rediculous time filler that was taking away "us" time. Although I don't know if I would delete my whole FB page, it has been cleansing to delete the app! Now the Diet Coke thing is a whole other thing...why is it sooo good???? Oh well one step at a time :)

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  12. I have given up eonline, msn and a few other websites for Good! I couldn't stop Checking those stupid things. It's been 2 years now :)

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  13. Great post Whitney! Isn't it liberating to get your life back!?!
    It's funny because Mike just got me a new phone and he's always asking me, "where's your phone?" and I don't know half the time. I made it a rule a long time ago to not get on the computer, or have daytime t.v., or phone time when the kids are awake. Every now and then, I'll slip, but for the most part, it's about quality family time. I LOVE it. It's just about clarity. I can't focus on the kids when I'm on the computer or using my phone, it's mindless and I feel fuzzy after "using". Haha!!!

    Good for you!!

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  14. I had the same realization a few months ago how i was constantly checking in on fb - sometimes right after I had just closed it!! One thing that helped me "cut back" but not eliminate it totally is to hide posts from people I really just don't care about, and for some people just put them on "important posts only". It severely cut out the clutter and so when I do check facebook, I'm not on for as long - and the things I see are much more relevant about friends and family I care about!

    Good luck with the Diet Coke addiction! I switched Coke for water a few years ago, slowly phasing it out so that I now only have about one a week in desperate times.

    Don't think I could cut out food groups - impressive!!

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  15. I have "quit" Diet Coke so many times :) I really should cut back from 2 to 1 a day now. That's my goal. And I could cut back on Facebook too- good idea!

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  16. This makes me wonder if I really could give up sweet tea. Nah!

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  17. Good for you and what a good idea to do your "quitting" in little bites of a week - like Christi said, enough time to recognize without torturing yourself. I gave up Facebook for the summer, mostly because my husband was always badgering me about how stupid it is. After not missing it AT ALL these last three months, I have to say I pretty much agree with him. When someone says, "Did you see on Facebook...(fill in the latest drama/complaint/etc", I just smile and say "no". I was worried I'd miss out on cute photos of kids' friends but the ones I really care to see, I see in person or email or even (*gasp*) snail mail anyway!

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  18. Now Pinterest...THERE'S a addicting time-sucker! :) So fun and useful though!

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  19. I also took a break from facebook for about a week and a half. It was SO nice to not feel like I needed to check it. I got back on and definitely still use it but not as much as before. I think sometimes it is good to just disconnect from these types of things.

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  20. Hah.. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thinks in status updates. I definitely need to go on a Facebook break. I've done it once where I took a week off, and another time where I took a few days off. No logging in whatsoever.
    I also need to try to give up sugar in a bad way, but I think giving up sugar for me would be like a chain smoker giving up smoking. Still, I'd like to cut back.

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  22. We are so used to instant gratification and being bombarded with information these days. I still like to stop and smell the roses. I think children should still be taught to appreciate some old-fashioned habits BF - Before Facebook.
    XO Suzy

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  23. I've read your blog for awhile now and have taken note of your diet soda addiction...and addicion is definitely what it is. I'm not sure if you know this but diet soda has been linked to auto immune disease. I pray that you are able to kick this addiction to the curb some day soon! We all would like to see you live a long full life free of any illness. I loved this post and find myself evaluating my daily habits and making changes often.
    Some more interesting diet soda info: Water Pollution-
    The artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas don't break down in our bodies, nor do wastewater-treatment plants catch them before they enter waterways, researchers have found. In 2009, Swiss scientists tested water samples from wastewater-treatment plants, rivers and lakes in Switzerland and detected levels of acesulfame K, sucralose, and saccharin, all of which are, or have been, used in diet sodas. A recent test of 19 municipal water supplies in the U.S. revealed the presence of sucralose in every one. It's not clear yet what these low levels are doing to people, but past research has found that sucralose in rivers and lakes interferes with some organisms' feeding habits.


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May the Lord bless you and keep you safe today! Thanks for the comment, friends! :)

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