Making your Recovery Creative, Fun, and Colorful

Making your Recovery Creative Fun and ColorfulWe pray, read, write, plan, shop, cook, report, share, meditate, and commit. We take actions to make our recovery strong every day. Let’s remember to lighten up and not take life so seriously!

There are many ways to connect to your creative self and let it shine.
Slogans help us remember what we choose to focus on. Changing our thoughts and retraining our brain is easier when we are constantly reminded of what’s important for us.

When I was new to recovery, I heard this slogan: “Recovery First, No Matter What”. I completely fell in love with this phrase. It was exactly what I needed to hear every day, many times throughout the day. I made it the password on my computer and I typed and wrote it wherever I could. One of my recovery friends chose “A life time of abstinent recovery” as her email address.

Make a list of your favorite slogans. Add slogans to this list when you come across new ones. Keep the list in your bathroom (yes, you heard me correctly! Your bathroom) and get a set of colorful dry erase markers. Assuming that you have a mirror in your bathroom (otherwise, any mirror you frequently look into will work) write your top 3 slogans for the week on the mirror. Have fun with the colors and decorate it. (We only need a small space on our mirrors to see ourselves. The rest can be saved for things that are important for you to remember.) Every day, read the slogans out loud (hearing them spoken is effective) and make them your own. If you share the mirror with other people, no worries. They won’t mind some color, decorations, and inspiring words even if they don’t speak to them.

Here are some slogans for you to choose from:

Recovery first, no matter what

One day at a time

I let go, I let God

It works if you work it

Progress over perfection

Abstinence first, one day at a time

Just for today I choose abstinence

Half measures avail us nothing

Nothing tastes as good as abstinence

Today is all we have

Easy does it

The body knows

Please inspire others by sharing your own personal or favorite slogans. Write them down in the comments area. Thank you for your service. And have some fun!

3 Ways to Undo Overdoing

3 Ways to Undo OverdoingWhen we are in the disease, we use food to escape from life. When we stop binging on food, we may substitute food with binging on work or general busy-ness, which is a vicious cycle that can lead us directly out of recovery.

Addiction to “hyperness” and adrenaline is part of our addiction and it is causing us, just like food did, to escape from life. The consequences are exhaustion, resentment, unhappiness, and dissatisfaction. And the risk in overdoing is that it could take us back into the food for relief. Thus, the vicious cycle.

A few weeks ago I allowed my time to manage me instead of me managing my time.  I gave myself permission to work later, I didn’t keep my boundaries of breaks and rest time, and I didn’t “weigh and measure” my tasks in a way that was supportive to my recovery. Thank God that the food is not an option for me anymore, but I definitely felt the consequences mentioned above: I was tired and feeling resentful, which led me to make amends. Making the amends was a red flag for me. It told me that something was off, and I took the time to pray, evaluate, and correct.  I took actions to bounce back to balance.

3 ways to Undo Overdoing: 

  1. ACCEPT that you’re off.
  2. You must see the connection between overdoing and addiction. It is not something that is just happening to you. It is your escape mechanism and it is part of your disease. Awareness is always the first step!

  3. CREATE a daily mindfulness practice.
  4. Mindfulness is being present, experiencing the moment with no judgment. By building a daily mindfulness practice, you consciously choose to balance the DOING with BEING. I start my morning with prayer, meditation, and self-Reiki. I also read and plan my day. By making the time to start my day centered, it is easier for me to remember to pause and appreciate “God Moments” throughout my day.

  5. ORGANIZE your time to support recovery.
  6. I love my work and I’m passionate about helping people. That’s why it’s hard to stop. There are some things I choose to do to make sure that I set boundaries and don’t put my recovery at risk: Scheduling rest and recovery activities into my calendar, committing to a “hard stop” time.  This to me means I finish work every night at 7 and stop!  When I teach on weekends, I have to plan a free day during the week. Preplanning my grocery shopping, cooking, including batch cooking, is also important to manage time effectively.

    Organizing your time requires taking an honest look at your tasks and your priorities. Get rid of projects that are less important and integrate recovery related activities into your calendar.

By taking these actions, evaluating and correcting, your life immediately feels less busy. When we undo the overdoing, we are also taking care of our health, making recovery first, no matter what. And that is our ultimate goal, right?

Seven Tips for Abstinence from Addictive Substances

Seven Tips for Abstinence from Addictive Substances

  1. Read Labels. We definitely have to know what we are putting in our mouths. Read the list of ingredients every time you buy. We always follow the caution: “When in doubt, leave it out.” If any of the ingredients are complicated or unrecognizable don’t use the product. The best idea is to keep it simple. We recognize real food ingredients when we see them. Stick with those.
  2. Weigh and Measure. This is how we put a boundary on the amount we eat. Take that scale to restaurants too. “Eyeballing” is inaccurate. The food plan is our prescription for abstinence; we want to be accurate and honest and our cups and scales ensure that accuracy. Food plan, no more, no less.
  3. Schedule Meals: This is critically important. If we go too long between meals, we experience irritation, hunger, and agitation from lowered blood glucose levels. There is real risk of relapse in these situations. Eat every 4-1/2 to 5 hours to maintain a level metabolism.
  4. Variety. Eat a variety of different foods. Getting stuck on one particular food may indicate that it is triggering addiction. Also any food eaten too frequently may cause allergies. It is for this reason that we limit the use of eggs. It is tempting to eat them frequently for breakfast. Because they are allergenic in nature, we limit exposure to them.
  5. Restaurant Orders. Give clear directions when ordering in a restaurant. Seafood is a fairly safe choice when ordered carefully. This is how to order: Salmon, no added fat, marinade or seasoning, plain baked potato, large salad with oil and vinegar, no balsamic vinegar please. Keep questions to a minimum, they are confusing. I avoid chicken in most restaurants because it is injected with things we don’t want to eat. Be careful of marinades. One of the popular Chinese Restaurants marinade all their proteins. Most restaurants fry food in butter, therefore we order with “no added fat”. Seasonings are suspect, don’t use theirs, take your own in your restaurant bag. I carry Penzy’s Northwoods. Balsamic vinegar contains a lot of sugar. We certainly want to abstain from that! Don’t drink carbonated beverages served at bars through a hose. Those hoses deliver sugary drinks too.
  6. Accountability. Report your food plan to an experienced sponsor or accountability partner. Be ready for some corrections or feedback if you are new. Some of the things to watch out for if you are helping a newer person: is the cottage cheese clean; the dairy non fat; the protein low fat (I really don’t encourage chicken thighs); what kind of oats; is there a variety of food or the same thing day after day?
  7. Attend Meetings. “Meeting makers, make it!” Getting together with others in recovery provides the support we need to stay abstinent, one day at a time.

Declutter your Desk, Declutter your Mind

Clean desk clear mindI have to admit, coming back home from a trip away and catching up with work makes me feel overwhelmed. If you entered my home office right now and saw my messy desk, you’d have direct insight into how I feel. You will also see a big difference between my desk and my husband’s desk. My husband keeps his desk clear and clean on a regular basis. I, however, have a tendency to wait until my desk gets out of hand and then announce a “declutter project!”

While other people can afford to be overwhelmed, I can’t. I won’t take the risk of eating over the feeling of chaos. I know that creating a space that is supportive is important for my recovery.

Clutter affects our mind and creates a feeling of chaos.

Our space mirrors our minds, so to eliminate chaos from life we must first eliminate chaos from our space.

I’ve noticed that when I do clean my desk I feel better, so I came up with a system to stay consistent with it. I schedule in my calendar 15 minutes at the beginning and the end of each day to get organized with my to-do list and to clear my desk. It is not perfect, but it works most days. My system keeps me structured and keeps my work space clean. And this gives me a “decluttered mind.”

And how about you?

What does your desk look like right now?

How supportive to recovery is the space you live in?

What’s a small step you can take right now to declutter?

Adding Mindfulness into Your Life

Mindfulness is paying attention to your current experience without judging it. When you’re mindful, you are present. There is no fear or regret; there is no dwelling on the past or future; there is only now.

Here are 6 simple ways to bring mindfulness into your life:

  1. Choose a routine activity that you do every day (climbing the stairs, brushing your teeth, washing the dishes) and commit to pay attention to the activity, being really mindful every time you engage in the activity.
  2. Create a daily Tea Ritual and be mindful of the smell, the taste, and the color of the tea as well as the texture and sensations you receive from holding the cup.
  3. Set your alarm for 5 minutes. Sit quietly and do nothing.
  4. If you sit for long periods of time at work, set an alarm and stand up every 90 minutes. Focus on your breath for a few minutes before getting back to work.
  5. Set the table with silverware and napkins and enjoy your meals at the table, focusing on the taste, color, texture, smell, and sight of the food in front of you.
  6. Meditate.

5 Ways to transition into a good night’s sleep

Radiant woman sleeping on her bedTo stay strong in recovery we need to remember the basics. Getting enough sleep is one of these basics. Being tired and not taking good care of ourselves can lead us back into the food.

Many of us go, go, go all day long, and at night we either crash in bed feeling exhausted, or it takes us awhile to fall asleep. Being in recovery, sleeping pills are not an option for us. So what do we do?

In his excellent article: Beyond Paleo: Get More Sleep, Kris Kresser, a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of integrative medicine, describes it perfectly:

“Most of us run around like chickens with their heads cut off all day, and then wonder why we can’t fall right asleep as soon as our head hits the pillow. If our nervous system has been in overdrive for 16 hours, it’s unrealistic to assume that it can switch into low gear in a matter of minutes simply because we want it to. Of course this is why sleeping pills are growing in popularity each year.”

I know for sure that part of my addiction is being addicted to hyperactivity and adrenaline. Following the tools of recovery gives me the structure I need to create more balance and harmony in my life. Here are five of the practices that supported my program of recovery and can support yours as well, in helping you get a better night’s sleep:

  1. Create a “switching gears” routine to end your day. Allow yourself time to unwind by spending some time before bed reflecting on your day, reading, and meditating. Your daily inventory can definitely be part of your routine. Have fun adding other activities to your routine.
  2. Limit the use of technology and screens before bed. Create a “hard stop” time where you stop checking emails, texting, and watching TV.
  3. Clean your kitchen, including the sink and the counters, and clean up your bedroom space. It might help you relax knowing that you’ll wake up to a clean space.
  4. Make changes in your space to support a better night’s sleep: make it dark. If light is shining early in the morning, get room-darkening curtains. Keep electrical cables away from your bed. No TV in the bedroom.
  5. Have a God box. Any box can work – big, small, paper, wood – simply take the lid off and have a small notepad and a pen next to your bed. Write down your concerns on pieces of paper and place them in the box. Turn it over, or “put the lid on it,” and ask God to take care of things for you so you can have a good night’s sleep.

What is your favorite practice to add to your “switching gears” routine?

Please share in the comments area. Would love to hear from you!

Practical Tips on Organized Cooking

If you are like me and like many other people in recovery, you tend to overdo, overachieve, are overstressed and super busy. Hopefully, you aren’t wasting your time getting junk food or driving between different stores looking for food, like you used to do. Putting recovery first requires an investment in time and getting organized with your priorities.

Putting recovery first means different things for different people. But one thing everyone has to do is cook. Eliminating sugar, flour or wheat, eating 3 meals a day and a metabolic before bed are the foundation of Kay’s food plan.

Cooking abstinent food is high on the priority list for any recovering food addict, and it requires getting organized and planning ahead.

Here are some practical tips on organized cooking:

  1. Weekly Meals Planning

    Start your planning on the weekend. Create a time either on Saturday or Sunday and make it your “Weekly Planning Time.” Create a form on your computer that has the days of the week, Monday – Sunday, and space to write your 4 daily meals. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Metabolic). During this planning time, review your weekly schedule and write down what are you planning to eat at each meal.

  2. Weekly Cooking Planning

    Food doesn’t cook itself, but if you plan smartly, you won’t get into situations where you come home from work hungry and realize that you have 2 hours’ worth of cooking but your dinner time is actually coming in 15 minutes. Planning your cooking time ahead takes the pressure off and helps you to be ready to cook and eat your meals on time. If you are working a full-time job away from home, consider spending a few hours on the weekend cooking and freezing your food. If you have a more flexible schedule, plan to cook a few times a week or even every day – but make sure you plan ahead.

  3. Grocery Shopping

    How often does it happen that you want to prepare a specific dish and you have to run to the store and get what you need while you’re already hungry? Grocery shopping while hungry is a bad idea. Grocery shopping takes times, but when done effectively, it can help you better manage your time. When you plan your meals for the week, make a list of items you need for your meals. When your list is complete, check what you already have in your home and what needs to be purchased at the store. With your list organized, try to visit the store once a week to get what you need. It takes a lot of pressure off during the week if you already have what you need on hand. Plus, it eliminates impulse purchases.

  4. Daily Planning

    The weekly planning helps you get organized with the cooking. The daily planning should be done every evening for the next day or every morning before starting your day, and it should reflect your level of commitment to recovery. Not only do you plan the time of your meals for that day and what are you going to eat at each meal, you also report your food plan to your sponsor. Reporting your food means: “I am fully committed! Here is what I’m committed to eat today!” For me, an important part of “turning it over to a power greater than myself” is to report my food and stick to my commitment.

  5. Storing food

    Organizing your food and storing it appropriately will help you feel “on top of things” and responsible for your actions. Many people weigh and measure their food for the week ahead of time, right after cooking, so they don’t have to deal with it later. Make sure to label your plastic containers or zip locks clearly. If you live with other people, decide on a special section in the fridge for you and make sure your family members are not eating your food. (After all, nobody wants to deal with a food addict when someone just ate their food…) I use tiny sticky notes with my name on them to make it clear for my family members which food is mine.

  6. Carrying food with you

    Often you leave your house thinking that you are going to be back in time for your next meal. But stuff happens. You might get stuck in traffic or have a change in plans. It’s easy to simply take a small cooler with you in the car – just in case. You will save yourself some stress around the uncertainty. I take a cooler and leave it in the car when we go to the movies so I can have my metabolic on the way home. A few weeks ago, I dropped my husband at the airport in the morning and found myself stuck in traffic driving back home. I was so grateful for having my loaf with me in the car. I simply pulled off the road and had my breakfast and then got back on the road, fully satisfied.

  7. Emergency food

    Life is life and unexpected circumstances come up. While other people can play with their meal time and be flexible about what they eat, we have to stick to our plan and to our meal time if we want to recover. I’ve had situations where I’ve had to go to the emergency room with a family member or pick up someone unexpectedly, so I simply grabbed one of the “emergency food” items I keep on hand.  Whether you want to make some loaves and freeze them or prepare a kit of tomato juice, canned tuna and oats, make sure you have something ready for times of need.

As Kay says, failing to plan is planning to fail.

Let’s take responsibility, my friends, and plan ahead – so we don’t fail.

Not only will you truly put recovery first, but you will also eliminate stress and uncertainty from your life, at least with food.