Monday, February 27, 2012

"Don't Do the Dew" Challenge 3

First I wanted to explain something. I am not doing this with the point of having no soda whatsoever. I am trying to increase control over my own desires, so that I can have and do things I enjoy with reasonable moderation. I have no intention of living the life of a monk, drinking only water, waking up at the butt-crack of dawn and eating a bare minimum. But neither do I want to live the life of a glutton. I have noticed certain tendencies in myself leaning in the latter direction, and I wanted to curb those tendencies, so I can continue to live a healthy life. So I am still drinking Mountain Dew. But I am only drinking one can a day. To some that may seem excessive still, but, well, that's you. For me, one seems a reasonable goal.

The thing is, when I first started this, I didn't have a clear idea of limits. In general I wanted to carry the can around and not drink it, but I wasn't clear with myself how much I could drink. It was only clear that I wanted to drink less, and for the first few days, 1 seemed like a good number, so I allowed myself that simple indulgence. Having no strict limit seemed like something more of a challenge. That way, I knew that I could drink the can if I really wanted to, and I wouldn't be breaking any rules, per se. And that did make it harder. It became a battle between wanting another soda and increasing my capacity to resist. It really made me work those resistance muscles. But it also left the door open to be kind of a vague and purposeless exercise.

I held a pepsi in my hand a couple days ago. I thought to myself, it's not the same as Mountain Dew. I didn't really commit to resisting it. I'd really like to drink one. But then I thought about it further. What is it that I'm really doing? What is it to resist temptations, if there are no clear limits? There have been times in my life where I wanted to reduce the amount of limits I place on myself. After all, if I want to watch an extra hour of tv one day, I'd like to have the freedom to do so, once in a while. If every once in a while I want to have 2 sodas, it's not such a big deal. But what do I (and so many other people) do without those limits? If an extra hour, why not one more? If 2, why not 3? What's to stop 3 from becoming 4? At times, I would consider that it would be better merely to shift my focus. Instead of limits, I would work daily on my focus, meditating on a better way, telling myself that I really want healthy foods and orange juice. And it does help, to some extent. But without certain rules in place, I am only doing what I feel. Even with daily meditation, I am finding there is just no replacement for rigorous discipline.


jeannine said...

I quit pop a year and a half ago for that reason. Limits of "one a day" would extend to "well, just today I'll have one more," then pretty soon I was drinking 2 or 3 a day. Or if it was "only on weekends," I would binge on pop on the weekends, and then feel really gross on Monday (kind of a sugar hangover). So, I just quit altogether, because the limits are more clear to me. I drink lots of iced tea now.

Jake said...

Yes. The zero rule is easier than limits. And I have given up soda for several months at a time. Even a year before.

Actually, that's partly why this exercise is so perfect for what I want to accomplish. The point is to build up resistance, to learn more control. And when I do exercise that control, I've found it's a very liberating feeling. I'm hoping, over the long haul, that it will spill over into a lot of other areas of my life. So far, it seems like a great experience, even if it is hard and a little confusing.

CassieU said...

I love that you are doing this and I'm rejoicing with you for your successes!