Addiction and Recovery, Diary entry

Developing the third “D” – Discipline

My mum’s boyfriend is an incredible businessman who believes in the 3 Ds of success:

When it comes to my full recovery from bulimia in 2019, I have the drive and determination of a horny rhinoceros, but the discipline?
The third D would appear to be sorely absent.  And not just when i am in my crazed caterpillar eating frenzy, but also when I am a perfectly calm, relaxed and happy.

The dreaded D for discipline.
Also known as will power and self-motivation.

Upping the ante on the third D has not helped me recover from bulimia before.  Not in the long term at any rate.  And it’s no surprise.  Any addict and Stanford University Professor will tell you that no force of will can outlast the pull of a deeply ingrained habit or addiction.

I have chosen to abandon any use of discipline or willpower for fear of further failure.
But what if I didn’t try to tackle the whole thing at once?  What if I tackled a few small habits, one at a time?

By using the 80/20 rule, which tiny habits could I crush that might have the greatest impact in assisting with long term recovery?  Where can I get the most bang for my discipline buck?

I have two bad habits that definitely jeopardise any chance I have of staying binge and purge free for the day:

1. Snacking
I snack relentlessly.
I’m always nibbling at something.
As a chef on a superyacht I can easily justify my relentless nibbling. “I am tasting the food.  A chef has to taste her food.”  Okay, yes, A chef must taste.  But there’s a BIG difference between tasting the cookie batter vs. licking the entire bowl, the spatula and the whisk. Yes. And I know it.

2. Seconds
I always have second helpings of homemade food.  Always.  Yep. Without exception.

So, if I want to tackle the tiny habits that lead me to the first binge which leads to the first purge of the day – which invariably lead to a second binge and a second purge etc etc etc. Then, well, surely tackling the habits of snacking and seconds would be a great place to start in the battle to be bulimia free. Right?


And there’s some good news:
I am great at discipline in other areas.  Daily exercise, meditation, journaling – i took to these three disciplines like a duck to water.  Hell, it even occurred to me yesterday, that about 6 years ago I had consciously developed the discipline to ignore the sweets and choccies in the checkout aisles.  I had successfully crushed the bad habit of putting those little naughties into my shopping basket while waiting in the queue!  And that one little bad habit that I destroyed 6 years ago has stuck with me.  To this day I barely notice snacks in the checkout aisles!  And… I had done that while in full blown 7-times-a-day-bulimia!!  I chose one bad habit and trained myself out of it. With a healthy dose of motivation + discipline I created a new, better habit of looking away.  I honestly don’t even see the checkout snacks anymore!

So, if I could do that 6 years ago, then surely i can develop new habits around second helpings and snacking now?  A bit of discipline now would lead to a wealth of freedom later.
(The irony that freedom comes out of disciplined practise is not lost on me.) 

Okay – now that I’ve revved up my excitement around this idea let’s get to work:

My coach, Lori, had a wacky idea that I wear a medical face mask across my mouth while I cook to create a physical barrier that literally prevents me from absent-mindedly popping food into my mouth. An idea which, quite frankly, I freaking love!   The yacht is out of the water for the next two weeks and I am doing my cooking in the privacy of a small apartment, so there is no reason why I shouldn’t give this a go.  I have bought a mask and it is hanging on the cupboard door – ready for use at the next available opportunity.

As I think about this habit it has occurred to me that I most often go back for seconds because I have under-dished up my first serving, and I am legitimately still physically hungry.  That is not the only reason I have seconds, but it’s one I’ll start with.
So my job is to dish up a good serving.  As my judgement on this is clearly dodgy at best, I will need to think both like an athlete and a chef when dishing up.  What will I need to nourish and satiate me until my next meal, that will give me the energy I need to train later (if I am honest I know when I have served myself too little).  What would I be dishing up for my clients?  Et voila!  One serving.
This will take some trial and error of course.  And that’s okay.  Each day I can learn what worked and what didn’t.  A little experiment in feeding myself “like an adult” as Lori would say.

Once I have finished my meal I will give Mel Robbins’ 5 second rule a bash.
5-4-3-2-1 PUSH BOWL AWAY

I will write
5-4-3-2-1 on a Post-It note and pop it onto the salt and pepper grinders that we use at meal times.  I will then pop this onto my place setting when I sit down to eat as a reminder when I am done.

As a back up plan I have asked my husband Greg to take my bowl away from me (we eat out of large bowls on the boat and weirdly this has become a habit that travels with us into the real world too!)  when I have finished my food.

Hopefully that work.

And that’s it for now folks.
Wish me luck in beginning to bust those two habits this week!


p.s. I will have “attack the snack” another day from different angles as I move back on board the yacht.  But for now – let’s get it started by wearing the mask.

p.p.s. *BJ Fogg – Tiny habits.  Check him out!

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