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A podcast interview with Christopher Lawrence done by Ms. Opium for her podcast Ohmpire. If you would like to learn more about weight and weight loss or experience anti-inflammation or a ketogenic diet, please check out www.healthytransformations.ca.
Transcript for your reading pleasure…
Ms. Opium: Hey, everybody welcome back! It’s The Sugar Chronicles, Episode 6 on The Pod Life. We are broadcasting from Calgary, Alberta and this episode we have a very special guest. He is the most awesome Life Coach, Christopher Lawrence, of Change My Life Coaching. Christopher is a Life Coach, a Health Coach; a Career Coach the list goes on and on, so let’s get started.
Okay Christopher, so let’s get started on our questions. I am just going to talk a little bit on how we met. Christopher and I met in a building that we both used to live in and we met through my very special little doggie Bentley at Woofington Post. Christopher is a Life Coach and he provided me life coaching, also the co-founder (correct me if I am wrong) Healthy Transformations in Calgary along with Dr. Mike Breen, going to talk about that a little later.
So when we first met with Healthy Transformations, I came to an information session and I let you look at my food journal, do you remember what you said to me?
Ms. Opium: I don’t remember what I said to you. What did I say to you? By the way you missed a part of the story. Part of the story is that I actually tried to steal Bentley from you.
Ms. Opium: That’s true, yes you did
Christopher: Woofington Post forever. No I don’t remember what I said to you
Ms. Opium: You looked back at my food journal, and you sat back in your chair and you said “Oh my God Ms. Opium how are you not dead”.
Christopher: Yeah, now I remember, as soon as you said I sat back in my chair, I was going to say how are you not dead
Ms. Opium: Yes you did. So that leads us into addiction
Ms. Opium: Can you give us an overview, general overview of addiction?
Christopher: Yeah, I’ll do my best, I am not a scientist by any means what I have is my personal experience with addiction. And so what I understand addiction to be is something, and this is very layman, but it is something in us that takes control of us, it is something that we either live for or by. And there can be addictions that are very positive and leads us towards some great results and some that leads us towards maybe negative things or incorrect choices.
And so addiction kind of takes over, it’s the thing it’s on your mind, it’s often on your mind when that thing that you are addicted to you are not getting you are thinking about the next time you are going to get it.
Ms. Opium: That’s very true, that speaks very loudly to me, so with respect to what we are here to talk about today, what’s your philosophy on food addiction?
Christopher: Oh, it’s interesting, I am glad you use the word philosophy because there is a difference between science and philosophy; and so when it comes to food addiction, geez that’s a loaded question. I will try to keep it as simple as possible, but my philosophy on it is we require food to eat or to live, there is no question we require it. We are going to eat if we want to not to survive but thrive, right.
Ms. Opium: Right
Christopher: As it relates to addiction, I would say that we have habits, maybe and some of those habits may be out of control that leads us to consume foods that would not be correct and when we are doing that consistently, my philosophy is that perhaps it has taken over, the food choice has taken over.
Ms. Opium: Okay, so if I am making this a bit personal for me
Christopher: Yeah totally, this is your journey
Ms. Opium: Because I am not a huge food addict, as you know, I can do without food, if it was possible
Ms. Opium: I would have to ask you, and I don’t know if I am gonna use the right words here but, does sugars addictive qualities warrants it as its own type of addiction.
Christopher: It’s so interesting that you say that because I was actually listening a podcast about this, like why not classify sugar as a drug, right.
Ms. Opium: Yes
Christopher: But that’s kind of a philosophical question, so I was actually listening another podcast about this. I believe it was Freakonomics, just within the last couple of months and so addiction has sort of different, like there are certain criteria and I am sorry I can’t remember them. But there are certain criteria that says this thing is the substance requires, and sugar has a couple of exit points out of that criteria as sort of scientist would look at it.
Like why is it you can sell illegal substance and this kind of thing, and it kind of show that sugar has a couple exit points, the question that is not being asked now is, should we redefine the criteria that makes (you know, I don’t know if this is anticipating one of your future questions), but I am going to be honest with you, I sort of feels that sugar should be treated like cigarettes and alcohol.
If we ban it it’s not going to do any good, but I do think that we need to look at, and you know this has huge social implications, right, like economic implication. There are companies that would go out of business because of choices like this; but maybe sugar needs to be regulated and controlled differently more than it is now.
If we are talking about health, I know that there are columnists out there that are going “oh my God don’t do that”, right. But, if we are talking about health, I think there is something to be said about having that and providing more nutrition education and sugar education.
Ms. Opium: I agree.
Christopher: Because if I can go back and rewrite elementary school curriculum. I would start with things like mindfulness, and I would start with things like it’s not too early to understand how interest works. You know like why did none of us know or understand what is happening on our credit card. I think that nutrition would be a much bigger part of it and not just nutrition education but asking questions, right.
I can’t tell you that I haven’t had a piece of cake since I have been sort of on this anti-sugar thing, because it is never anti-sugar. I can’t tell you I haven’t had one. But what I can tell you is when I do I understand the implications, I truly understand the implications, not “yeah I know what it is doing to my body” but I don’t really know.
No I understand the implications, and I choose to make a choice and I eat food with it that helps me counteract the effect of inflammation that comes as a result of sugar. So that’s a long winded answer to a very simple question
Ms. Opium: Its interesting the scary nature of sugar, there is a very scary nature to it
Christopher: Yeah, Like you talk about mood, right? Like you consume sugar and 20 minutes later you could be dealing with a completely different person and some people aren’t as affected by it, I am. Oh yeah, like if I eat enough sugar within 2 hours later I will be the most miserable person you have ever met and in my worst moments even depressive thoughts come up with it like it’s a very very powerful substance.
Ms. Opium: And I think, for me, I never put my connection to my nature to be copious with the amount of sugar that I consume, now that I know that connection, I know that connection it’s like Oh!
Christopher: I like that you use that word nature – I never connected my nature with the copious amount of sugar. I think what you are implying there is maybe sugar has actually defined some of my personality and some of my behavior. I would have to say in my history that is also true. I would have to say that absolutely when you go into the sugar benders, I would say for me that started when I was a little kid. I would go into the corner store every day with my allowance I would make it stretch over that room. I would start every day with sugar, every single day I would start with sugar.
Ms. Opium: I am with you on that one
Christopher: Yeah, totally right and you see the difference in it and you can feel it too.
Ms. Opium: You can feel it, and I think like for me I have always been very high speed, I can just go go go go and since I have tried to cut down on sugar I find that I can’t go go go as much. At first, I was what’s wrong with me? and now I can make that connection it’s like I wasn’t really functioning properly, I was just going on sugar.
Christopher: Yep, you know when you talk about eating sugar in the quantities that we have both done in our lives previously, yeah I mean it’s like somebody who is drinking 8 cups of coffee that’s beyond reason, you know like what is may be enough if you need.
Ms. Opium: Exactly, so this also is very personal, can you explain the cycle of guilt and what I mean by that is eat a lot of sugar, sugary bad food whatever it is, candies, cakes, cupcakes you know, you just have that massive pig out session and then you feel guilty but to make yourself feel better
Christopher: you eat more sugar
Ms. Opium: Yes, can you explain that behavior
Christopher: Yeah, I’ll do my best with it. It’s a really fascinating thing and I know that there is a lot of research on it and maybe not enough. But so I would like to go to the layman’s place with it because for me I have to make everything relatable, the science is interesting but I have to make it relatable to me and put in words that I understand, right. The way that I understand this to work is that you have the cue and there is a really interesting book, by the way, by Charles Duhigg called The Power of Habit and it’s well worth the read.
It talks a little bit about this kind of thing it talks about things like addiction and habits, really an addition is a habits that’s completely taken control of your life and so we have our cue that’s the trigger the thing that makes us want the thing
Ms. Opium: Yes
Christopher: Right, so we have a cue maybe the cue is I am feeling low today, the routine or the behavior, that triggers the routine or the behavior. So if it’s an emotion I am feeling low today, I know that the behavior is that I go grab a chocolate bar or a bag of chips or something like that so we are talking about sugar today, for me it’s also like junk food. So I go grab the chocolate bar or the bag of chips and then I get pay off and the payoff is I feel good for a little while; and when it comes to sugar this is the really sort of scary thing about sugar is that it happens fast, you can feel good really fast, right.
Which is also why some people are addicted to skydiving or going shopping or exercise because you can feel good very quickly, because that’s what we need, we need a payoff. One we have that payoff the next time we have that emotion of feeling down or low or whatever it might be, that starts the habit ball all over so that’s another trigger that leads to the behavior.
Here is the cycle of sugar we know at some point there can be for many of us an emotional crash or an emotional mood swing or a shift in the emotion and the emotion that usually follows the high is the one of feeling low
Ms. Opium: Yes
Christopher: Right, And so one if your triggers is feeling low and guilt, you just start it over
Ms. Opium: You just start it all over
Christopher: Literally just start it all over, it’s like a perpetual cycle whereas I feel like crap about this but I know that sugar makes me feel better, so I am just going to eat more sugar, so you just go through this, go through this and go through this again because your trigger is emotional guilt or it’s the emotional feeling low.
Which when you are coming off of sugar, what does it do it makes you feel guilty or makes you feel low, so that you go back to the thing that is quickest and easiest to pacify yourself. That a perpetual cycle so what we need to do is actually give you the same thing that sugar gives you which might be a bit of pick me up physically but I bet you has a lot to do with emotion, right. We need to give you the same emotional pay off that you get where it doesn’t trigger guilt or a low feeling and then you be looking for that same cycle again
Ms. Opium: So based on that really what you need to do is find that payoff
Ms. Opium: That’s not sugar
Christopher: Yeah, what’s another payoff, I think the first question actually, you know I won’t take credit for it actually, this is all Charles Duhigg’s work, this is my interpretation and understanding of it, okay; so I don’t want to take credit for that but the first question is what are the triggers? Right are there certain times of day, are there certain emotions, are there certain people that I am around, are there certain activities that I have just done something that triggers it.
For me it could be anyone of the above like I have an incredible day, I have one of the most successful day at work you know this is something I have well managed now, but I can still tell you that the cravings or something junkie comes up with the most incredible day, why? Because I associate that with celebration.
Ms. Opium: Yes
Christopher: Right I deserve this I have earned it I have earned this thing. Or I have the worst day even though this is well managed I have the worst day and so what do I choose? For me, I still go to food, right I still go to something junkie, right and I deserve this because it has been a bad day and I need some TLC and TLC is represented by food, that’s one example and that’s an emotional thing. I also know that filling up my gas tank at the gas station is a cue for me
Ms. Opium: To go and get food
Christopher: To go and get junk food, right and so I have to be very mindful of it and so I think the first question is what are the triggers? The second question is what am I getting by having this thing, this sugar? That’s the second question, what’s the pay off what am I actually getting. Because the trigger and the payoff cannot change. If what you are seeking is comfort or what you are seeking is to be pacified or what you are seeking is to be stimulated, that is what you are always going to seek. What we have to change is the behavior, so that is why we ask the question what is the new behavior that I can do that will give me the same pay off? And that is the third question, what’s the behavior, does that make sense?
Ms. Opium: It makes total sense, and something that you said triggered another question, I am not sure about. When I go to get gas, I get gas and I go in and I am looking at all the chocolate bars and all that kind of stuff
Christopher: You do Gummies?
Ms. Opium: Yes
Christopher: Can we call us Gummy Whores?
Ms. Opium: Yes! Yes absolutely Gummy Whores! That’s going to be the name of this podcast
Christopher: Gummy Whores, I love that. I don’t love it but I love the name.
Ms. Opium: I do too. So I go in looking around and looking to see who else is in the store, if there is someone else in the store I won’t buy the candy because I don’t want somebody to see me, but I think we have talked about this before on healthy transformations; because I was a closet addict and even still the same now. If there is a cookie, there is cake or anything at work I will sneak it and I will sneak it into my office and have it when no one else is looking
Christopher: Yeah, there is totally something about shame there; there is totally something about shame.
Ms. Opium: Yeah,
Christopher: Actually, it’s really fascinating that you say that because you and I both know that the person at the till is still going to see you, but it is almost like socially, you are like it is socially acceptable that somebody does just processing the transaction they see this all the time.
Ms. Opium: They are not going to remember that that girl or that car bought that thing.
Christopher: Yes, there are interesting association, can I add to your story?
Ms. Opium: Of course
Christopher: So when I was a little boy, my parents- I was living with my dad and my ex-stepmother at the time, she is no longer part of our family but they were a couple then; and they would get treats, right and you know how I feel about that word. Treat for me is no longer associated with food, it can’t be eat. If it is associated with food it has to be leafy greens or carrots or the ability to have healthy movement or a more sustainable lifestyle, right it’s a different word. But at that time treats were associated with cookies or cakey things or whatever it is and our parents would hide them in the closet.
Ms. Opium: Really!
Christopher: They would hide them in the closet and so growing up there was much sneaking of having treats of having this junk that felt really good, that totally triggered something for you, didn’t it?
Ms. Opium: Yes it did
Christopher: So it’s interesting, so as a direct association there is these Swiss rolls. Swiss rolls are like a chocolate cake with a crème wire that’s rolled up, so it’s rolled up
Ms. Opium: Yeah
Christopher: So there was a period probably about 10 years ago when I weighted much more than I do now, and I went through this period where I would see these Swiss rolls in the grocery store and I would buy them and I would like consume six of them.
Ms. Opium: Because of being deprived?
Christopher: Because of being deprived, but I didn’t even make the connection. It took me probably three years after the fact to go O my God I am totally eating these Swiss rolls because that. And there was an incident around Swiss rolls it wasn’t just, in that case it wasn’t just a sneaking thing but there was a specific incident around this Swiss roll where it was associated with trouble and shame.
Ms. Opium: Interesting.
Christopher: And so no I can have this now, I am an adult, I can choose to have this, and so I would have around five or six to make myself feel better. Interesting eh.
Ms. Opium: And now you’ve talked about that I can totally relate because in our household growing up candies, cookies and that kind of stuff was a treat a my mom used to, like if she baked cookies or there would be candies or something, she would count them before she would go out.
Christopher: Oh wow
Ms. Opium: And so it‘s like we could sneak one because she could miscount by one, but you couldn’t have two or more and after when you didn’t have mom watching over you it’s like I can have all, I can have it I can have all of it and I did
Christopher: There is something about control there too, isn’t there, right totally.
Ms. Opium: Yeah, yeah,
Christopher As oppose to listen, our parents did what they did, and if we are going to blame them for the bad stuff we have to blame them for the good stuff too, right? It’s interesting that hindsight is always 20/20 and I think about this stuff, and I don’t have children, right but the one thing that I would do now, even just having this conversation with you is I would make sure that my children actually had access to these things but understood how to have a relationship with them
Ms. Opium: Yeah, yes
Christopher: I define relationship where you are mindful and make choices because we have a relationship with cookies and Swiss rolls now, right we do. It’s just an unconscious relationship rather than a conscious one and that the idea is to make a choice and teach along the way, yea that’s fascinating.
Ms. Opium: Kind of trigger something for me
Christopher: yeah yeah me too
Ms. Opium: As we use the word philosophy again do you have a philosophy on self-sabotage?
Christopher: Oh philosophy, I guess my soft philosophy is that it exists and I think I have in my line of work to meet somebody who hasn’t at some point in their life self-sabotage or doesn’t self-sabotage. And so I guess my philosophy or my self-loss on it is probably going to happen. The question is when it’s happening or just before it happens or after it happens, what do you do with it?
Ms. Opium: Yes, yes
Christopher: Right, it’s what we are doing with it is something that’s productive or mindful that creates awareness or does it go back to the shame and guilt cycle
Ms. Opium: You see for me in that regard, it will be for me that day at work, I am getting low, and I know talking myself down the whole time. Then I will get hungry or whatever and then I have countless amount of cookies or candies and I go it works the same way so might as well blow my face with sugar, because what difference does it make? I might as well just keep going.
Christopher: Right, exactly
Ms. Opium: And then after that’s when the guilt happening and all that kind of stuff. So that leads to my next question, why do you think we repeat behaviors despite knowing better?
Christopher: Yea, you know it’s funny, I don’t think knowing is enough, it has to be… so to answer your question why do I think we do it, I think it goes back to the habit cycle, honestly, I think it has to do with neuroplasticity that’s ingrained in you. And that neuroplasticity will probably never go away at this point in your life, which doesn’t mean that we can’t change. What it means is that we have to be aware that that’s our default mode. Our default operation or our modus operandi or mode of operation. That’s our mode of operation in certain circumstances.
What we want to do, is create a new mode of operation in those same circumstances so when these things come up, for example I know if I am conferencing, whether I am speaking at a conference or participant at a conference, usually I am doing both, if I am at a conference I am speaking and participating. Conferences are a trigger for me, it’s licensed, here I am I am at a conference and so because I know that about myself I must do a lot of pre-planning around food and food related behaviors. So I will sit down and say, if I go up to the buffet and see the following things what will I choose and I make my decisions before I go.
One other thing, I don’t know if it’s from Charles Duhigg’s book or another book that I read. We know that people who go to buffet there are people who over consume and there are people who make good choices. The people who make good choices sit further away from the food but they actually go and plan what they are going to eat before they pick up the plate, it’s a conscious decision
Ms. Opium: Interesting
Christopher: Where those say, I am gonna have that, I am gonna have that and I am gonna have that and it’s a choice, it’s a choice rather than just an action that we are going through, right. It’s a really fascinating thing. So now if I go to buffet, which oftentimes conferences are, I plan ahead and I say, there is almost always something healthy, not always but almost always, so I will look and say where is the vegetables, where is the protein, where is the…. And if I can’t find something I have meal replacement bars that fit within my lifestyle, right that I actually selected. I would rather have the conference food because sometimes it’s more enjoyable and I want to participate in that.
Ms. Opium: Right
Christopher: For me it’s about the social aspect too and participating in the whole thing, getting value for the time and money that I have invested in it. But I will pull out a meal replacement bar and I almost have that or I keep nuts with me so these are some of my personal tactics to create that. So to create new… sort of going on a tangent, so I do hope that’s okay.
Ms. Opium: That’s totally okay
Christopher: So to create a new neuropath ways in your brain what you have to do is apply correct action, correct action means good food choices consistently over a long period of time. Sometimes we know that we are going to go back but as best as possible we have to keep getting back on the wagon and don’t stop getting back on the wagon, I won’t use the word try, right. We know that people who make attempts to quit smoking the more attempts they make to quit smoking the more likely they are to be nonsmokers in the future.
Ms. Opium: Interesting
Christopher: Yea it’s very fascinating, so what we want to do is keep applying it consistently for as long as possible. For me it comes back to planning, I have to plan if I don’t have a plan I am way off course, right and the planning gets easier you do this for a couple of years and then you just yeah
Ms. Opium: It becomes a part of you
Christopher: I am okay yeah, and especially planning for those times, there are times I have with some of my clients, but I haven’t done it personally for a long time, I did it for something else in my life. It’s like when I am feeling the following three things which are my biggest triggers so for me its high stress, maybe some depressive feeling, and overwhelmer or even a sense of self lowly things sometimes. If these three things show up and they show up in a big way, you know, I haven’t done this myself, maybe there are times I could use, this but I think it is useful for anybody. So I have clients who do this and they literally have cue card with five instructions on it saying you need to go and get greens and you need to put nuts on them and you need to put olive oil on them and maybe throw on some fruit, your favorite kind, that’s with a salad.
You need to do those things first and then you need to get out of the house and go for a walk with the dog, right, go do something enjoyable, right. Things that are non triggers for me, sitting down and watching a movie is always a trigger for bad food so that’s not on that list; right.
Call a friend, call my coach whatever it is and you go through this list, and you say once I go through this if I still don’t have what I am looking for I am going to do a little bit of journaling about that first and say what it is that I need? What I am actually looking for but I am not getting? and if after all that I still can’t get what I need then I will give myself permission to make a choice to have the junk food. It is a lot of work.
Ms. Opium: It is a lot of work it sounds overwhelming.
Christopher: yeah totally, which is why when we are in that moment it’s on a cue card so all I have to do is follow the steps
Ms. Opium: I think I need to do that
Christopher: Yeah, just follow the steps. And the reason why I use that example I am feeling strong feelings on this is because sometimes when we have the strong feelings, I don’t know; maybe this isn’t everybody certainly. But for those who experience it sometimes it can last for a period like days and so would just go on like a food bender with jog for days, the problem with that is it continues to perpetuate the feelings, a feeling like shit, excuse my French, you’ll have to bleep me
Ms. Opium: No, we don’t bleep, so do you think that doing a cue card in that same method but fur the opposite, so today I doing great, I am feeling really good and I didn’t touch sugar and I write down all the things the triggers, yes I am having salad, yes I am having….
Christopher: Analyzing the successes too, yeah why not.
Ms. Opium: For me, I am one of those people that I have to have the positive reinforcements all the time instead, because I would automatically go negative so hearing this things maybe I should try it the other way.
Christopher: yeah totally, why not, why not. I get motivating… the purpose of buying the cue cards, it could be a reminder in your phone it doesn’t matter the point is that you have something accessible that you can grab in an instant that you will remember to grab
Ms. Opium: yeah
Christopher: you know what’s interesting, you can go crazy with this where I came up with this was actually when I was experiencing extreme anxiety in my life. So I created a kit and inside that kit were things so it had a cue card of instructions but inside that was a kit of things that would help relax me right. Things that I could do in an instant so I put in my favorite music CD, I put in a piece of dark chocolate was in there I thought it comforting, a bag of peppermint tea. But to think of something like this when you are in that state, hey here is my reward box or here is my I am not feeling good kind of food support box and you go and open it and there is like some nuts in there and you know nonperishable stuff sometimes that’s harder to do because nuts goes rancid after a while.
But even like a gift certificate to a place that has healthy food that you love, that you can just go and access when it’s a bad day.
Maybe have five of them in there; and you have these cue cards, call a friend, go for dinner, take them here, if the friend won’t go, go anyways, bring it in as takeout. Do something while you are waiting for the food to come so that you are not sitting in your house thinking I have Oreos in the cupboard.
Ms. Opium: So again going back for me, I’ve tried to stop buying sweet stuff at the grocery store, and so my thing is like I am having one of those really bad cravings like I want it I have to have it, and Safeway is right across the street from where I live, and right across the street from where I work. I can’t do it at work but at home I’ll purposefully put my pajamas because once I have my pajamas on I am not leaving the house, it’s like I am not going to get dressed
Christopher: That’s great
Ms. Opium: At work, I would just keep working, which it’s probably not the best idea but it is something I do to stop and also when I am at work I won’t go with a bag as I don’t want people to see me coming back with a bag with stuff.
Christopher: Exactly. Listen at this point sometimes it is about whatever it takes. If that’s the thing whatever it takes use that motivation because the more consistently you can apply, coming back to the question, the more consistently you can apply correct behavior for longer periods of time and when you step off the path just step back on as soon as you realize it come back on.
Ms. Opium: Yeah, I think that leads us into the next question, which you have kind of answered perhaps, how does one train themselves to get self-control or can they?
Ms. Opium: Yeah, but do you every really, really truly get self-control because there could be normal things that triggers that you just……
Christopher: Yeah, totally, I think… how are we doing is it still going?
Ms. Opium: I think so; I am just going to check here. We are good
Christopher: This is technology. How do you get self-control or can you? I don’t know if I have the right answer to that question, I know that there are people who have discipline that I don’t have
Ms. Opium: Right
Christopher: I think the word I would replace it with is practice and maybe it’s lifelong practice. Right so it’s less about about self-control and it’s about practice and I also have to know why, what is your reason for wanting to do this and making it so big that there is a possibility of not doing it becomes less optional. I think also when you look at self-control, it’s also, this actually came up as a topic in the group last night, the weight loss group that I host with Mike, is you have more self-control when you feel like you have choice and some people were like, what? Really? And I was like yeah knowing that choice exist yeah it’s actually an option. Because if you and I were to talk before you get the candy next time at the gas station and I said to you, you have a choice, which choice do you want to make, truly want to make?
Ms. Opium: That would change my mind
Christopher: it would totally change your mind in that moment, right. There is also something to be said here about having community, because we could write that out on cue cards and it would help but actually having somebody there would change that in an instant.
Ms. Opium: It would
Christopher: This speaks to self-control is interesting having community is incredible especially community where one has done something or come close to or is further along the path than somebody who isn’t, right. It is hard to have community with your best friend or your spouse if they haven’t already done it because you could end up in that place of “I don’t’ know”, “should we give in” “I don’t feel like it totally”, right.
Ms. Opium: I don’t feel well
Christopher: Totally right and we have those people. I don’t look for accountability in my best friend, I don’t look for accountability in my spouse I don’t look for it in my parents and if I had children I wouldn’t look for it from them either because there is too much history and too many rules. I look for accountability with a hired professional or from someone who gets what I am doing but they are a little bit arm’s length from me, not totally estranged but a little bit estranged, where it wouldn’t feel like a big deal to me. Community is important community can be two people
Ms. Opium: yes, yes
Christopher: It doesn’t have to be more than that and so when you talk about self-control, I don’t even know if I know what that means, like the word that comes up for me is discipline. But I have never… you know I feel like I have had tremendous success in my life and personal fulfillment but I don’t know if I have self-control. I would describe myself that way and so I think this is where that plays a role so certainly the words of “what do I really want here” is important. And we can ask ourselves that and I think it can be effective and I think also having a community, a single person that can actually ask that question, and say that. Eventually that person becomes us, right and eventually we talk about this. When something becomes a habit it doesn’t require self-control any longer and it doesn’t require motivation any longer, because it’s a habit we don’t think about our habits we just do them
Ms. Opium: Right
Christopher: And that’s why we use the word practice
Ms. Opium: It is interesting because like when I think about it in terms of that, I am kind of an obsessive person like when I develop a habit I am obsessed over it. I try to break the habit of going to work early or working through lunch and I can’t. It’s like I noticed this is your time use it for yourself and then I think about the sugar thing, and I am like you are smart, you are intelligent and you know that’s wrong why can’t you change that habit into something good.
Christopher: Yeah, because you can’t talk yourself out of a habit you have to behave yourself out of it, which is again I stepped off the path, get back on the path, right and get back on as many times as it takes until I get it.
Ms. Opium: Yeah
Christopher: And then there comes a point where it clicks, but sometimes for days, weeks months or years. They say it takes 21 days to change a habit so actually that’s not true, it can take as little as 21 days to change a habit or maybe that’s the median number or the average number but actually sometimes it can happen in an instant, right.
Ms. Opium: Really
Christopher: Oh yeah it can happen in an instant and sometimes it takes years
Ms. Opium: That I can see, that I can see
Christopher: Yeah, it’s not easier, but it can happen in an instant. I will give you an extreme example – let’s say somebody has a bad habit, let’s call it an incorrect habit somebody has an incorrect habit of not doing a shoulder check when doing a lane change; and that’s a habit, let’s say one day they sideswipe a car that is full of children and let’s say one of those children has to have an amputated leg because of the accident, do you think that person will ever not shoulder check again?
Ms. Opium: No, that person might not want to drive again
Christopher: They might not drive, but if they do, they will likely shoulder check for the rest of their life and they will probably be even over careful about it. That is how you can change something like that in an instant.
Ms. Opium: So how do we change the sugar habit in an instant?
Christopher: You know, that’s interesting there are lots of different tactics this is where maybe some Tony Robbins stuff comes in too right. I have got a great idea how about every time you feel like you are going to buy sugar, you yell at the top of your lungs. ”I am going to buy sugar even though I know, I shouldn’t be right now, it’s going to make me feel like shit but I am doing it because I feel bad about myself”. You would probably do that once or twice.
Ms. Opium: I don’t know that I would even do that
Christopher: You probably wouldn’t even do that right, but that’s also the question if all you had to do was do that five times in your life and you wouldn’t eat sugar again, would it be worth it
Ms. Opium: Absolutely
Christopher: Totally right, that is one way. The other thing that we can do too, I will draw on a Tony Robbins example, if you don’t mind. He tells a story there was a guy in one of his workshops that says “I love chocolate, there is nothing you can do to make me not eat chocolate in my life”. And Tony Robbins just says okay, let’s do this as a challenge and so what he said is “great do you love it so much that’s all that you are going to consume for the next three or four days”, he said ”there is nothing you can do to make me not eat chocolate”.
So he says “great, no water, no nutrition you are going to eat chocolate and everybody in this room that has chocolate are you willing to give it up to prove something to him to help him not want chocolate again in his life”. After two days of doing this he never wanted to look at a piece of chocolate again in his life.
Ms. Opium: That’s interesting
Christopher: Because he got so sick from it but he wasn’t allowed to consume water. Now listen for your listeners and for you, I am not recommending that, however if you make personal choice that that’s something that you want to do, listen it would probably change everything, right. You know, I think about people like these that seem extreme or I don’t know if it would work. Here is my comment what you are doing is extreme over years of your life, like this is dictating your sustainability of your life. We all know we are going to die, the question is do you want to spend the last 20 years of your life bedridden, or unhealthy or dealing with health issues versus okay I have gotten to the end of my life and I have died, right.
But I have had full mobility, full independence the whole time, right well thinking that far on isn’t motivating when you feel like crap and you are in the gas station you don’t think about these things, right
Ms. Opium: Right
Christopher: To me I look at this extreme thing and I am like geez is it really extreme when you look at the extremeness of eating this food over that long of a period of time; and then I look at the other side, I don’t know if it will work. I think back to like I have a couple of friends that smell of peach or peach smell makes them want to vomit. Because when they were younger maybe just graduating from high school, maybe they weren’t graduated yet. I am not sure maybe they were underage I can’t even remember, but they drank so much of it that they puked and puked and puked peach slops for hours and so they won’t even look at the stuff, even to this day and here we are like 20 years later.
And a I look at that I say geez maybe there is something to that, maybe there is something to consume in your diet, you know, gummy bears consistently with no fluid and no other nutrition for two … you know you can’t even think about it without being grossed out
Ms. Opium: I know, I know
Christopher: You know right, I can’t even think to myself in this moment you can imagine that but when you are in front of it, you can’t; and so maybe there is something to be said about doing that, I don’t know maybe it wouldn’t work, maybe it wouldn’t work. Maybe the key there is he also did not allow him to have water. The guy choose not to have water because Tony Robbins said maybe you won’t drink water, right, the guy also made a choice that is probably the main factor into it because water can sustain us a long time.
Ms. Opium: Well maybe it wasn’t enough but I think of haven’t done lately, but my soft spot always used to be the marshmallow strawberries that came in the bag, there was Dare and there was McCormick’s and if I had McCormick’s I would eat them just like crazy and I would eat them until I was sick. As soon as I got all of that out I would go back I went right back to them
Christopher: You would, that’s interesting
Ms. Opium: But it probably was not a copious amount enough to …
Christopher: And you might have needed to eat more, like even after you have done that, keep eating them and keep going. I am not recommending it; I think the point is that to change something in an instant you have to do something extreme. Something that really challenges you like some of my clients we are trying to get movement with them, and they have been stuck and segmented but they really want it, I would say what’s it worth to you, what it’s worth in dollars, like if you could do this what that be worth, they would be I don’t know, thousand bucks, okay great. So you are going to do this by this date and time which they have chosen a date and time and if you don’t then it’s a thousand dollars to a charity of my choice
Ms. Opium: Well is that successful?
Christopher: Often yes, we can’t do it with all clients. Some of the its often so much stress that they crash so we have to work with their performance model, but for many clients it is, yes and I have never had anybody that have to cut a cheque. I also tell them that the charity of my choice is going to be the KKK or …. But it’s going in their name. this kind of thing so use tactics, not all tactics work for all people some people require far gentler approach. Like put the real strawberry in front of you and put the candy strawberries and I know exactly the ones you are talking about because they are pink on the inside but coated a darker pink sugar on the outside and I know why McCormick versus Dare because the Dare ones have a bitter aftertaste.
Ms. Opium: That is correct, you see
Christopher: I know, so if you were to put a pile of those and to put a pile of real strawberries a gentler approach would be, I have choice.
Ms. Opium: Yeah
Christopher: And now that I see that I have choice right in front of me what will I do? So maybe if I am going to be in those moments and sometimes I am going to choose the candy strawberries when I am in the gas station or in the grocery stores or where ever it is, sometimes I am going to choose that. But when I am mindful, when I am in this moment after I am feeling inspired, maybe even right after this; maybe I will take the candy ones and I take the strawberry ones when I am feeling inspired and I practice it while I am fully conscious, right, because the gas station moment is going to come.
Ms. Opium: It is
Christopher: And so, if I can practice it in my good moments that will also lead to neuroplasticity. Because in your good moments you know you are going to reach for the strawberry and you might even pick up the candy one and you might smell it and you might squish it and then you set it right back down because you need another real strawberry and you will notice the difference. Right and it will become a noticing activity.
And then you would say what does it like to throw out the candied one, what does it feel like to throw that out? What is it like to throw out the fruit one and just experiencing what comes with it and noticing it?
Ms. Opium: Are you interested now in what would come with it?
Christopher: Yeah Yeah I am interested
Ms. Opium: The candy one for me if I threw it out I would be aww aww my candy I feel bad if I threw out this real strawberry, I would be a mass of guilt on wasting food
Christopher: See my reaction would be the same which is why I wonder what it would be like to practice that in real life as homework, to say twice per week, three times per week or five times per week even if I am eating candy the rest of the day. You know whatever you are doing now I know I am going to take some time to sit down and actually practice this and make a choice that feels helpful and sustainable to me. What is that like and just see how this translates into the rest of my life. But doing it with mindfulness like actually being aware it not just like here is a bowl of candy, here is a bowl of strawberries – I’ll eat the strawberries throw out the candies, and it’s over very transactional.
No sit down pen and paper, make some observations, what did I just notice and test yourself. Maybe you even take those candy strawberries roll it around, smell it, put it back down, have a real strawberry, do the same thing. Maybe you actually eat one of the candied strawberries. Notice how you feel when you have this choice in front of you without judgment, without the shit I made a wrong decision, shame on me.
No hold on I just ate this and I am experiencing feelings. Not I feel like crap, you say I am experiencing feelings of guilt and shame is not interesting and you make note of that and you just become observant with it, right.
Ms. Opium: Hmm, I think that is a future podcast
Christopher: Yeah that would be interesting actually.
Ms. Opium: Yeah it would be
Christopher: Cause I think you are going to do it yeah, and so when you do it you can talk without knowing that you have an audience, it could be the same people that are listening. I would like to know what happen
Ms. Opium: Yeah, yeah I thing that is really interesting
Christopher: And then what happens the next day when you are feeling stressed and you are at the gas station
Ms. Opium: Yeah, well on that note a thought came to mind when you were talking about cue cards. I think for me what would be if I don’t have somebody to call or with someone, I think having a cue card in my bag, on my cue card what would have the biggest impact is all of the negative effects of sugar, what it’s doing to my body, 20 years bedridden, sick, hooked up to tubes all that kind of stuff or even drawing a little skeleton, right. That would probably be the impact on me.
Christopher: Here is what I would say; you could have it in your bag which I think is a great idea, what if you should actually attach it to your debit/credit card, the thing that you actually use to buy the candy with. What if you were to attach it to that, now that’s interesting, or to your phone, you want to be too accustomed to it.
I’ll give you an example, as a businessman I am supposed to track my mileage, I hate tracking mileage but it’s a necessary evil, there is very few ways around it, I have asked my accountant and my bookkeeper if there is another way of doing this, haven’t found one yet. And so basically I have to and so I actually leave a post it on the passenger seat of my car that says mileage but I have to change that post it every six to eight weeks, sometimes I have to move it to another place in the car to keep it fresh. This is something that has taken me months to develop a habit. Habit I do well for a period and then start fall off again, but haven’t forgotten since I started doing this.
Sometimes, I just remember later, and I’m oh yes how many kilometers was that to get there. I should go back and put that in; and I make myself do it because it is very easy I mean, it’s a nominal amount you get from tracking mileage, it adds up over time but even if I remember the next day I make myself go back into my app and track the mileage. I make myself go back, I could just very easily say I am not going to do it, no totally.
When I was doing some of my foodstuff I might have a bag of chips or whatever, I would say I have had that and I can’t do anything about it is in me and I don’t want to develop bad food practices by purging it or anything like that, probably make myself eat something healthy after. Like I would just reinforce it with good food after.
Ms. Opium: Like a salad
Christopher: From a nutritional perspective, sugar helps it’s not ideal but I just try to make a correct decision as quickly after having the thing.
Ms. Opium: So based on that, I have… I write my food down every day in a book that I have at home but this week I start putting it back in my fitness pal so that I can see the actually numbers. Because those numbers talk to me more than just seeing it here
Christopher: Yes, tracking is one of the most effective ways in changing a habit, right. Tracking and planning- what did I plan and what did I actually do? Those two things are incredible combination. You throw that in with a little bit of community, I think it’s much harder to fail.
I also think there is something to be said about perception and hierarchy. When I have staff here, I had one staff member that wanted to quit smoking, I told her we were making it a part of her performance plan, this was very early on in her coaching with us.
Ms. Opium: That’s awesome
Christopher: Huge, huge results, and we checked in, we wanted to get to not just she is not smoking but she wanted to feel like a non-smoker, meaning she could actually say I am a non-smoker, right, she never identified as that before and so we checked it. There was very few slip-ups because what your boss is telling you, this is probably what you do.
Sometimes it’s a dollar value too, you know like if you were paying somebody $10,000.00 per month to fix this problem you would have it fixed very quickly.
Ms. Opium: That’s very interesting, because I think if my employer said to me I would give you a whole Branford gift card if you quit sugar that would totally motivate me, totally motivate me.
Christopher: Totally, but it would have to be for a sustained period
Ms. Opium: Exactly
Christopher: like a year or something
Ms. Opium: And then how do you prove that on the other side
Christopher: Well it’s a little bit on the honor basis, but I think people want to be honest anyway, like could you imagine going to your boss and saying, yeah I actually quit eating sugar when you know that you had 5 Oreos every week for the last 52 weeks
Ms. Opium: No I couldn’t do that
Christopher: Of course not
Ms. Opium: Christopher I know that we are running short on time, I have a lot more questions for you and I would love to invite you back for another session.
Christopher: Let’s do it, let’s totally do it
Ms. Opium: Awesome because I want to keep going on this path but I also want to talk to you a bit about healthy transformations as well, you know for people out there that are curious and all of that the ketogenic model so definitely want to invite you back. Thank you for your time and we will talk again soon.
Christopher: Sounds good
Ms. Opium: Thanks everybody for joining us on Episode 6, The Sugar Chronicles – The Gummy Whores and thank you for joining in, tuning in, following us, continuing with us on our journey to overcome this sugar addiction. Lots more to come in The Sugar Chronicles and we will have Christopher back on a future episode very soon and give us the like, subscribe, comment, recommend, anything. Remember a new podcast every other Monday 7 p.m. mountain standard time.