Giving up vices on the Asperger’s / autism spectrum

I’m kind of a mess.  I’m more sedentary than I should be.   I engage in the use of a still-Americanly-legal type of kretek.  I indulge in too much chocolate.  Once trim and fit, I’ve now put on 30 pounds.  My hormones are out of whack, my teeth have gone to hell, my heavy metals are at scary bad levels, and I’ve inadvertently developed an acquired form of hemochromatosis.

Whoops.

I’m not shaming myself; I’m not into that.  However, I have some health slippage for which I’m responsible, and I’ll own that.  Without judgment, without self-denigration.  My situation is what it is, and I accept my role in my outcome, and now it’s time to move on toward brighter skies.

So now, it’s time for a complete overhaul.  Time to revamp my life and reinvent myself.

This isn’t my first rodeo; I’ve done this before, about 15 years ago.  I did it before, and I know that I can–and will–do it again.

But I’ve got a few variables to juggle now.  Some have always been there, like my place on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum.  Others are newcomers to the scene, like the PTSD and the kretek pastime.

Knowing what I know now, I’m well aware that I can’t just say, “let’s not do this anymore; let’s do this other healthy stuff instead.”  For me, it probably doesn’t work like that.

Because now, so many unhealthy elements have become part of a daily routine.  One that is damaging to my body, but that my brain is perfectly OK with.

Therein lies the problem: convincing my brain (remember that one?   The separate entity with a mind of its own?)

At this point, I’m happily hanging on to a monkey bar–one that fits, feels right, and is holding steady.  Or so I thought; it’s actually crumbling beneath me, but my grip on it is rather decent.

Part of me knows that in order to not crumble down along with my current monkey bar, I have to grab on to a new one–one that will feel even better.

Like I mentioned, the problem is convincing my brain.  My brain likes where it’s at; my current routine meets all of its needs.  I have some downtime, I have some active time, I have some work time, and I have some play time.  I have Alone Time and I have social time.  I have left-brain analytical time and I have right-brain creative time.  All is calm, all is bright, and I have labored long and hard to achieve this balance.

And yet, the balance is detrimental. I don’t have much meditation time.  I don’t have much sleep time.  I don’t have any physical activity time.  I have a lot of sitting time.  I have a lot of awake time.

This sitting and being awake stuff has to change, and my vices have to go.  Those are the three things that pose the greatest risks.

Any of these would likely be hard for anyone to change, whether the person is autistic/an Aspie or not.  But factor in an Asperger’s/autistic neurotype, and the situation gets a whole lot more complicated.

There’s the tendency to adhere to routine.  This likely adds a compounding dimension to any vice we might pick up.

There’s the need for alone time; I go outside and off by myself a lot.  This provides the perfect fertile opportunity to stay the current course.

And then there’s the task-switching, the greater amount of time I need to convert from Home Mode to Office Mode in the morning, and back again in the evening.

Then there are the periodic breaks my brain needs to take between sprints, periods of intense focus.  Up until now, my brain has embraced the idea of checking social media and WordPress during this time.  It’s also during this time that my best ideas come to me.  The bonus is, I’m by myself, free to flesh out ideas uninterrupted.

All of this involves sitting, kretek indulgence, and probably at the expense of sleep at times.

Because I’ve been this way for the past four to seven years (depending on the factor in question), my brain has found solace in the package, having made peace with all of its elements.

So naturally, when I tell my brain we’re going to need to make a change, my brain puts up a fuss.  At times like these, I must enter into serious and sometimes heated negotiations with said brain.

No way!  it says.  I like it this way!  It works!

But it doesn’t, brain.  You think you like it now, but eventually, the problems are going to reach you, too.  Hell, they probably already have; you just don’t know it.  The monkey bar you’re holding onto is collapsing.

But I like my current monkey bar! 

Yes, brain, but it’s not like things are going to stay this way; they’re headed on a downhill slide.  We’ve got to change.

OK – but what can I grab onto instead??

I’m working on that.

And I am.  Here’s what I’ve got so far…

First, this isn’t an overnight thing; it’s a process, and it requires a LOT of planning.  Every detail must be accounted for, every variable solidified, every question answered, every unknown shored up, multiple solutions and fallback options discovered, covered, and lined up.

So it’s not going to happen today.  I’d like to start in a couple weeks.

Second, I do have to consider–and account for–every detail, tie up any and all loose ends.  No minute of the day can remain unspoken for.  Current needs and healthy pleasures must be reshuffled and reallocated.

Instead of going for a morning “walk” during which I check in to social media and then return for breakfast, I would complete a seven-minute morning Qigong routine, after which I steep some tea and wait for breakfast to heat up (in a toaster oven, as opposed to bringing refrigerated deli meat with me to work), meanwhile checking in to social media at that time.

That’s four positive additions to my morning:  Qigong, tea, warm breakfast, and no kretek. 

That’s two healthy/benign activities preserved and spoken for: having breakfast in the first place, and checking social media. 

And that’s two counterproductive activity eliminated: chilled breakfast and kreteks (yep, I’m counting it twice, dammit).

There are lots of potential barriers pulling this off:

  • locating the Qigong DVD
  • wrapping my head around the Qigong routine
  • planning which tea I’m going to make
  • setting up the kitchen so as not to feel overwhelmed by the already-cluttered kitchen counter, or all the new life changes
  • ordering the new toaster oven (we don’t currently have one)
  • setting up (and designating space for) said new toaster oven
  • learning how to work the new toaster oven
  • ensuring that I don’t forget about the tea while it’s on the stove
  • ensuring that I don’t forget about the breakfast in the toaster oven

And that’s just a simple half-hour time slot in the morning; I have to review and revise the entire remainder of my day in much the same way (including weekends, which lack a natural structure and are thus likely to be even tougher to work through).

I have to figure out a new workday structure, because I’ll have to include chiropractic manipulation for my EDS-related aches and pains and acupuncture treatments for restoring proper energy, balance, and a myriad of compromised body functions.

There will likely be a new food plan, which will assuredly necessitate a new shopping list extra items to remember to take to work in the morning.

There will definitely be new medical grade supplements to take, whether it involves nutrients to restore deficiencies, powerful herbal formulas, or what-have-you.  I’ll need to make sure the order for them gets placed, that they make it home with me when they arrive, that I begin taking them and remember to do so every day, and I’ll have to keep an eye on my supply and order refills before running out of my current supply.

And so on and so forth, right down to my bedtime routine at night.  My entire ritual may have to change, or perhaps only tiny parts of it might need a slight tweaking.  Either way, my sleep hygiene has to improve.

My brain still has its questions.  It likes to play devil’s advocate.

  • How do I take the mental breaks I’ve become accustomed to throughout the day?
  • How and when do I work in my physical activity?
  • Do I need a new iPad so that I can surf the web for pleasure without getting immersed in a deeper activity?
  • Am I going to have to force myself to sleep in bed, as opposed to my spot on the couch that has led a double-life as my sleeping place, too?
  • Where will my social (media) life fit in?
  • What is my new life going to look like?

So many questions, and for now, so few answers.  But as usual, time will bring the answers.  I know that I can move Life Mountains by taking baby-steps, and baby-steps are what it will take, because baby-steps are all I can take.  Anything more at one time would be too daunting, and the last thing I want to do is give up before I get started.

I think that maybe, just maybe, in writing this whole thing out, I might’ve just taken my first baby step.  Now where’s that next monkey bar?  🙂

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38 Comments

  1. I relate very much, friend. I admit I really struggle to fit in healthy eating and physical activity in my world. I could make the excuse of being just too busy, but I know better. The real truth is I don’t like having to think so hard about such things when there are so many other things to think on! lol. Not to mention I have a lifelong history of countless sensory issues with foods ( especially ones that are good for me it seems! Lol) As to physical activity, of course, the joint pain plays a major role, but, in addition to that, I grow incredibly bored far too quickly with any sort of exercise routine. Overall, the effort it takes to implement change is so slippery to hold onto I seem to always drop it before I can really get going. But, you know, I like the analogy of the monkey bars. Seems a little less daunting to think of it as one swing at a time. So very proud of you. ❤Here’s to that next monkey bar. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for adding your voice ❤️. I’m so sorry that’s happening to you, and also relieved to know we’re not alone 😊. I’m so with you on the boredom and joint issues! Are you EDS like me? 💜

      All we can do is the best we can do at any given moment, right? 💙. Keep kicking butt, girl! We’ll get through all this and make progress at the pace that’s right for us 😊. Here’s to the next monkey bar indeed! Cheers! 💪🏼💞🌟💞

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! Always lovely to be understood! Yep. I am EDS. It runs a long line through my family just as autism does. I think they are closely intertwined, honestly. I have met so many on the spectrum with similar stories.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re very welcome, luv! 😘. Yep, 2016 brought two discoveries for me – Asperger’s/autism and EDS 😊❤️. I think my dad is an Aspie as well; he’s also likely the one with EDS; his joints are like Rice Krispies! He’s never talked much about having joint pain, but then, he’s a guy lol 😉💙. I don’t get much pain, per se, but I do get stiffness, probably centered in my muscle tendons. My ligaments (connecting bone to bone) are lax, though. So I do throw my joints out pretty easily and that *can* cause pain ❤️. Yep, once again, you’re definitely not alone. You’ve got good company 💞🤗💞

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m in the midst of finally giving up drinking, which is own breed of beast entirely. Right now I can’t begin pushing myself to establish any real specific routine. I’m just doing what I can to deter temptations, and writing as much as I can because it helps more than anything. I feel like I’m eating pretty healthily, if eating a lot. I haven’t made it very far into the process of not drinking, but once I feel settled enough into it eventually I will have to figure out and establish what works for me day to day.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh wow! Good for you, luv! Very happy for you 😊. Yep, been there, too. It wasn’t too easy for me, but it could’ve been tougher had I not had a few really bad hangovers pretty early on that were a total deterrent 😖. I have the utmost respect for you, my friend! Take it at your pace, do what works for you 😊. There might be some trial and error in there, or maybe it’ll happen for you very easily. I definitely hope the latter! Sending you warm, supportive, encouraging thoughts 💞💞

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve had many attempts in the last three years. The biggest differences here are that writing began to flow and has given me something to latch onto, and I’ve finally discarded the notion that after some time passes I could have a drink and be okay. I’ve realized, very much, I just cannot. The catalyst this time was just how very shifty I felt after downing a pint of whiskey on my birthday. That, and a deep-seated desire to be a proper support for a dear friend who’s having a major battle with depression and alcohol.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yay!! Three cheers for writing. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend, though 😔💐💞. Kudos to you for wanting to be an awesome source of strength and support for them ❤️

          Liked by 1 person

        1. Yep, I hear you 💐. Definitely 😊. From the kreteks I’ve developed hypoxia (low oxygen in the blood), which has given rise to a non-genetic hemochromatosis (iron overload), which has thrown off all my hormones and caused me to gain about 35-40 pounds, which is *very* uncharacteristic for me. But stopping probably won’t be easy 😊. But I know it has to be done, because the low oxygen makes me feel shitty too, and that high iron and extra weight make the hot summers unbearable. Truthfully I’m still in the planning stages, fixing to start in earnest in about a month. I’m walking beside you, girl! You’re not alone, and we can totally do this 💪🏼👍🏼🌟💖🌟

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I have to admit there are just certain health hazards/vices that I absolutely refuse to give up (beer, Scotch, cigars, ice cream, etc.). I know these things aren’t exactly good for me, but it’s a tradeoff I think. What’s worse for you? Vices (engaged with in a moderated way) or stress? Obviously stress is a much greater harm to you so I’ll gladly take my chances.

    That said, I’ve learned to engage them in a way that doesn’t really cause much, if any, harm to me. Ice cream I’ve just moved around and that’s my breakfast every day (1 cup of normal ice cream has no more calories than an average bowl of cereal with milk really), I look up calorie content of my alcoholic drinks in a day and adjust my dinner to compensate (while still making sure to get ample protein and fat) and I’ve never smoked more than a couple of cigars in a day (which has been shown to have next to no effects on your health).

    All of these things help me de-stress so it’s a balancing act. There was one time very recently I was pretty much a functioning alcoholic and just ate whatever and yes, I paid for it. It was when I started an office job not surprisingly and then the stress that came with it. I’m going back the right direction though; I’ve lost a little over 2 inches off of my waist since January and I’d like to lose one more, but I’m getting there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awesome! You go, my friend 👏🏼👏🏼. You bring up a really good point: drawing the line somewhere, and picking one’s battles (OK, that’s actually *two* great points 😉).

      I’m with you; for example, obviously my kretek use has proven detrimental to my own health, so I will give up that, but I will draw the line at my dairy-free gluten-free dark chocolate sun butter cups 😊 In moderation, and *after* (not *instead of* – “whoops” again!) I’ve eaten a healthy meal, they pose no issue and they’re quite enjoyable ❤️

      So happy you’re eating well and managing stress – I figure that anything that can manage stress without doing harm is a way to go 👏🏼😊

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      1. It really is about balance. I should say so long as you don’t inhale (IDK? do you? I don’t see how people inhale cigars honestly) 1-2 a day isn’t going to do much if any harm to you (source: http://www.rstreet.org/op-ed/fda-study-cancer-risks-nearly-nil-for-1-2-cigars-per-day/). Otherwise if you smoke them like cigarettes but still enjoy it then you might consider switching to vaping if you can find eliquid with a similar flavor? Don’t know, just throwing out suggestions so you might not have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

        Of course, I allow myself 1 or 2 days per week where I don’t really count calories and pretty much have whatever I want but still don’t overdo it. You can’t deprive yourself all the time and honestly the occasional cheat meal can help break plateaus in weight loss by forcibly boosting metabolism.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oooh, I like the vaping idea 😊. Yep, they’re inhaled, so that’s another hurdle for me ❤️. Definitely looking into that! You reminded me of some of the people I work with who mentioned organic/all-natural vaping substances (nothing illegal or anything) – thank you so much!! 👏🏼❤️

          Like

          1. You’re welcome. I actually vape too (Max VG juices which it seems most juice manufacturers use organic VG) for the very reason I can’t be like Sigmund Freud and have a cigar in my mouth all the time. LOL!!!

            Yeah, I don’t ever inhale cigars. I’m just a “mouth breather” for the most part but do retrohale a little of each draw (i.e. pass through the nose, which you can do without inhaling). It enhances the flavor and aroma, which is the main reason I enjoy cigars rather than for a nicotine fix (though the head rush is kind of nice too).

            Liked by 1 person

  4. The great thing about Aspieness is that once you develop a regular healthy routine, you can’t help but stick with it. I exercise vigorously each morning, before I do anything else. For about a year, I literally had to have a checklist to keep me on track for what I needed to do, but eventually it became rote, and I got rid of the checklist.

    Now that I have it “down”, it’s the best thing in the world. And it’s seamless. I check my Twitter feed and listen to music while I exercise. Net result is, I’m more awake in the mornings than I used to be, I get off to a good start each morning, and I’ve shed an extra 25 pounds I didn’t want, in the past year. (Oh, I”m also pretty strict about what I eat for lunch – cut that in 1/2, and that helped.)

    I honestly can’t get going into my day unless I exercise first. And because I’m so routinized, even when I want to skip it (like this morning), I can’t. I just can’t. And afterwards, I’m glad I didn’t.

    Once you get going, I’m sure you’ll

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lol been there, done that! 😉

      Thank you for your warm words of encouragement, girl! You make the awesomest point – that once the healthy changes have been implemented, we almost can’t help but stick with them! Our “adherence to routine”, pathologized in the diagnostic criteria, actually becomes a huge asset 👏🏼👏🏼🎉🎊💪🏼. Thank you kindly for the awesome reminder ❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes – what some think is our greatest weakness, is actually one of our greatest strengths. Thing is, you have to routinize the right stuff. If you go off in the wrong direction, you’re sunk 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Absolutely!👏🏼👏🏼 I’ve totally routinized the wrong stuff. Train derailed. Time for me to get back on track! I can totally do this, I’m sure; it’ll just take some Doing lol 😊. Thank you for your awesome pointers ❤️💜

          Liked by 1 person

  5. When Ben was smaller I used to toss him in the stroller & just walk, walk, walk. It kept him occupied & let my mind wander where it wanted & obviously was great for the bod. He’s 8 & weighs 85lbs now. No stroller. I can’t seem to get my groove back (llama face😕). This year I’m blaming the kooky weather. Super hot, then two days later it’s raining.
    Sending you supportive vibes😘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dude! 😘. Ben sounds awesome 🤗❤️. The weather, however, does not lol 😂. Ours here in South Texas is doing the same thing–chilly (yay!), then warm and humid (not-so-yay!) lol 😉😎💜

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  6. well i literally said the other day to a friend, “i certainly dont mind an extra stone or two” (14 or 28 pounds) but the other stuff you mentioned– man, what kind of chocolate are you eating?!

    good luck with your health regimin. other than pure self discipline, i think the trick is to do something thats efficient enough, but also makes you feel good enough to become its own (healthier) addiction. like when i went to the y with my friend, that was pretty fun. elliptical trainer with pulse monitor (otherwise id overdo it, and i think people do that at their own risk) and treadmill (with less effort put in) to cool down, thats enough for me. if i had an elliptical trainer at home, i wouldnt need the y. but i dont go anymore, that was a sweet deal back then. (also the y was in walking distance back then.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe they’re dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Theo, and then I have something similar from another company, except that it’s sunflower seed butter. Really good stuff! They’re not horrible for you, either, if done in moderation, as long as you don’t do what I did and allow them a little too wide a doorway into your menu lol 😉💖

      Liked by 1 person

  7. OMG! You are missing so much! Ms Wave, really??! The initial changes will be hard, no doubt, but a healthy lifestyle is an aspie dream come true!

    SO MUCH IS WITHIN YOUR (YES, YOUR!) CONTROL. It is the ultimate in OCD related heaven.

    When I began serious body building in 2010, I cried for a week about the food I’d miss (all natural, fodmap-py, no gluten and dairy, old school body building diet). It was tough the first month, but when I realised how I totally excelled at all the planning, prepping and adhering to the training and food, not to mention the rigourous routine, I found it easy to sustain.

    I have scaled back the competitiveness of it, and I relax my food a little, but I have a very healthy lifestyle I am proud of. It is second nature now and I still thrive on the planning part.

    You will see what I mean. I know you will excel at all this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words! 💜. I’m so excited to hear about your regimen! It sounds sublime, actually 😊

      Oh yeah, I already know what you mean; I used to have the healthiest lifestyle ever 💙. Meditation, massage therapy, clean organic diet (I’ve still retained that part!), exercise and strength, and so much more 😊. My diet is still pretty decent, although I have relied a little too much on “organic” junk food. I still do awesome smoothies and stuff, though. Oh, and I still get acupuncture, too, which has been great! Everything else, though, hit the fan when, probably due to the onset of the PTSD, I developed both insomnia and massive intense hay fever overnight 😖. The kreteks were a purely therapeutic move, because they quite-efficiently knock out histamine, without causing drowsiness. But it was a slippery slope!! All of it downhill, too. It really was a last resort, as I had tried everything else to reduce the histamine, but nothing worked. But I can’t keep going the way I’m going, either. It has reached a critical point. And your words were awesome to hear–so motivating!! Thank you 😊👍🏼💖

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post as ever my lovely!

    My acupuncturist gave me the kick to get going again. (I’ve been putting off running training for at least a year.) she said to put my training stuff straight on when I got out of bed in the morning and to commit to just 5 minutes every day for a week or two, no more. Then maybe ten minutes. A month later and I’m jogging a mile in the mornings again – yippee!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That brain, eh? Got a mind of its own…
    One good thing, though, about knowing you’re an Aspie is that you know it’s to do with attachment to routine and executive function issues, so at least you don’t have to beat yourself up for being lazy.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Oh, meine liebe…
    I am zee slave of my Brain, called Zee Brain (he is English but pretends to be German, hence the accent, and sometimes our identities intertwine…) and Zee Brain forces me to worship zee creature called Zee Armchair, his cousin.
    Yes, I know, I’m doomed, so let’s sing: “IIIIIt’s theeeeee end of the world as we know it…”
    HeHeHe 😜😜🖖

    Liked by 2 people

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