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SPECIAL EASTER EDITION
    APRIL 11, 2003     PAGE FOUR      
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  The Low Carb Connoisseur



 
                  Spring Cleaning Your Life by Jo Cordi Sica

Reaction to Jo's article, The Power To Change in our last issue was so overwhelmingly positive, that we have asked Jo to be a regular contributor to the Low Carb Luxury Magazine Online. And we couldn't be more pleased that she's agreed to do just that! Expect to see a lot more of Jo's insightful writing...

                                  "Faced with the choice between changing one's mind,
                             and proving there is no need to do so,
                                       almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
                                                                      John Kenneth Galbraith


Spring time always seems to evoke thoughts about cleaning. There is something both comforting and refreshing about having a fresh clean house as we head into the sunshine and warm weather. It is the time of year we all think about getting rid of the old to make room for the new. My mother was the “queen of clean.” Many years ago, my cousin Sheril was working on her graduate degree in microbiology. My mom would pop in from time to time to have coffee and visit.

During one of these visits, my mom opened Sheril’s refrigerator and started tossing containers into the trash while proclaiming loudly, “Honey, everything in here is moldy!” Sheril was out of the chair and into the kitchen like a streak of greased lightening. “NO! AUNT JOAN, THOSE ARE EXPERIMENTS FOR SCHOOL!!!” Ever since, I use the same excuse for the furry stuff in the back of my fridge. I dislike cleaning out the refrigerator so much that I can make procrastination an art form when it comes to tossing old food in the garbage. Apparently, I did not inherit the “clean gene” from my mother. Nonetheless, every week I reach a point where I simply have no choice. If I want to put new food in, the old food has to go. Life is much the same. We can’t make room for new habits, relationships, and experiences if we don’t clean out some of the old ones.

Old habits die hard. I had a friend who had quit smoking for 7 years. One night on his way home, he reached up over the car visor for his cigarettes. Naturally, they weren’t there anymore. Nonetheless, he was positively horrified that after all that time, he was, without even thinking, going to light up a smoke. Some bizarre subconscious trigger had prompted him to reach for those cigarettes. I frequently find myself in the same situation. I have gotten into the habit of munching almost non-stop when I am writing. I believe that this habit started as a result of my high carb eating. I would eat something loaded with carbs and when I had the sugar crash an hour or two later, I had to eat again to stay awake. Now, every time I am at my desk for a prolonged period, I think I need to eat. I’m not hungry; it’s simply a bad habit. The problem is that I have developed the bad habit of eating while doing almost everything. I like to eat while I read, write, and watch TV. I can’t imagine why I have a weight problem! Solving the weight problem requires me to eliminate the old habit to make room for a new one. Now I drink water instead of munching. This solves two problems because I absentmindedly grab the water instead of food which means I get the water (that I don’t really like) down without having to think about it.

Managing old relationships can be even more challenging. Often, we stay in relationships simply because we have had them for so many years. The relationship may not be enjoyable, or even worse, it may be downright destructive. Yet we continue just because it has been a part of our life for so long. I had a friend that I had known for years. We became friends because she was positive, bubbly, and enthusiastic. I loved talking to her because she never failed to perk me up. Somewhere along the line, all that changed. Every conversation revolved around the problems in her life. We all need a shoulder at times, so I was committed to being the ever-supportive friend. I’d listen while she vented. I’d listen while she complained about her ever-growing list of problems. I’d offer encouragement and advice when appropriate.

Sadly, there was never a workable solution to any of her problems. Nothing would help. This went on for five very long years. (Yes, I am slow to catch on!) One day the light bulb finally came on. I realized that our relationship was one-sided. I was willing to listen, and she was willing to talk. On the rare occasions when I needed to vent, she was on her way out the door late for an appointment. I felt like the city dump. I was merely a convenient place to unload her garbage. I will always have a shoulder or an ear for my friends, but I realized this was not a friend. Rather, I had become an unpaid therapist. Since I didn’t have enough time to invest in all of the positive, productive relationships in my life, I certainly could not afford to devote several hours a week to this non-relationship.

This realization made me re-evaluate all of my relationships. I prioritized the people in my life based on their importance and the mutual value we received from each other. Does that sound cold? Perhaps, but there are only so many hours in a day. Now I have those extra hours to devote to people in whose lives I can make a positive difference. As the old saying goes, “You’re either with me or against me.” I’ve eliminated those relationships that were a negative influence. I have so much I still intend to accomplish in my life that I cannot afford to surround myself with people whose comments or behaviors impede my progress. As difficult as it is to end a bad relationship, the benefit of having extra time and energy to devote to true and new friends more than makes up for it.

Keep in mind that not all poor relationships need to end. Some merely require renegotiating the ground rules. It has been said that people treat you the way you teach them to treat you. While it is far easier to teach people the right way to treat you early in the relationship, it is possible to re-train the people you want to keep in your life. To do this you must be firm and consistent in communicating your needs. Expecting people to “just know” what you want and need is unrealistic and unfair. Here are some simple tips to help you get what you need:

  1. Use “I” language. Starting a sentence with “you” puts people on the defensive. Once their guard is up, they are focusing on defending themselves rather than listening to your concerns. “I am trying very hard to stay on this program and I need your help. Please do not ask me to try ‘just a bite’ of something that I do not eat.” This approach will be much more effective than “You are always trying to get me off track!”

  2. Be specific in stating what you want. Don’t fall into the trap of asking for something that is vague and non-specific. Describe your needs in terms of behaviors; things that you can see, hear or do. “I need you to watch the children on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 so that I can go to the gym” instead of “I need help with the kids.”

  3. Be direct. Communication should be directly from you to the other person. Dropping hints or hoping the person will overhear you and catch on never works.

  4. Get agreement. Ask the individual if they understand why this is important to you. If not, explain the reasons for your request. Once they understand, ask them to commit to making the change.

  5. Be consistent. Remember that teaching an old dog a new trick requires patience and perseverance. You will likely have to remind the person of the agreements you made. Be gentle, but firm, in restating what you need.

As I continue on my weight loss journey, I am methodically eliminating anything that no longer fits. My reasons are twofold: without a bigger size to fall back on, I can’t regain the weight; and I am creating room for the exciting, new, and smaller clothes I will buy when I reach goal. There are a couple of old favorites I am keeping because I like them and they are comfortable. Those I will have altered. On my lifetime journey, I am following the same plan. The habits and relationships that no longer fit must be either altered or passed along. The fond memories will last forever, but I have to make room for the future.

Does your life need a good Spring cleaning?


                  Jo Cordi Sica
                  SPHR Organizational Development and Training
                  jwcordi@aol.com




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