Friday, September 10, 2010

Compulsion - Fight It or Ride It?

I have spent many moments in thought over the past couple of years regarding compulsion.  Not addiction.  Addiction oftentimes requires professional medical treatment.  The addict does not recognize the addiction. Compulsion on the other hand merely requires one to look clearly at oneself.  Compulsion can slip into addiction, but this is not a story about addiction.
Like most people I had little things I craved.  Dr Pepper was BIG.  Mrs Fields’ white chocolate macadamia nut cookies were another.  Groucho’s Deli (in Columbia, SC and other fine locations around the Carolinas) was another killer.  My compulsions were things that I could go without for weeks or months, then without warning I had to find IT.  As soon as I had IT I regretted giving in.  I felt weak.
Few if any of my compulsions were healthy.  I realized that my compulsions centered exclusively on food and drink.  Sometimes I craved the taste.  Other times I craved spending the money.  But it was always food or drink.  I would buy unhealthy food when I had good food waiting at home.
My "aha" moment came when I realized that the craving for taste was just that - for the taste.  I wanted the taste of Dr Pepper, beer, hamburger, cookie, whatever.  But I was not satisfied in my stomach.  I was not satisfied in my mind.  While the craving cured (temporarily) what I wanted, it never touched what I needed.
The "aha" moment came when I realized that food should be fuel for the body.  And a strong body worked to its limit can be more nourishing for the soul than any substance.  Fueling the body properly is my new compulsion.  A healthy compulsion.  In the morning I crave peach/banana smoothies made in my kitchen.  I relish making a salad to share with my wife.  I love eating a half cantaloupe or whole watermelon in a single sitting.  I am finding joy in the foods that build my muscles and provide energy and propel my running without clogging my heart or digestive system or bring “the crash”.  I am even researching veganism through friends encountered in cyberspace.
I see other people, people very close to me, struggling with these same compulsions.  My heart aches for them. I know how dangerous unchecked compulsions can be. I understand what changes need to be made and how tough those changes will be.  But the changes are worth the struggle.  Every day I feel that I am closer to being the athlete I never was.  I feel stronger and more in control of my physical and emotional being than ever before.

In closing you might ask "Don't you feel deprived?" or "Why deny the things you enjoy?  You could drop dead tomorrow."  First, I don't feel deprived.  I want to grow and develop and experience what being "in control" brings into my life.  Second, while tomorrow is not promised to anyone, untimely death is not guaranteed either.  Enjoying life no longer means eating or drinking whatever I can shove in my mouth.  Enjoying life now means running faster or farther than anyone thought possible of me.  And boy do I ever enjoy life.

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