17. Ninety-Nine Percenting

I’ve been struggling with keeping my diet “clean” over the last couple of weeks, since my appetite hungrily returned after the detox.  I’ve been waiting on a plan and recipes for the plant-based ketogenic diet from a contact I’d made in Phoenix… and in the meantime, the wheels just about fell off the cancer-fighting food wagon.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved every minute of it, but it’s been quite hard to get back on track.  Sugar and more carbs snuck in the side door and have been dancing with abandon.

The good news is that I’ve put on about five pounds (or two and a half kilos) in a few weeks, which was desperately needed.  I don’t know about you skinny ones out there, but since I’ve been at my lightest weight, I’ve also been consistently cold.  Frustratingly and annoyingly chilled, cold hands and feet, a cold nose.  Goosebumps under my jeans.  I’ve been carrying around beanies and gloves and puffy jackets to make sure that I’m comfortable, often times in mild California weather.  I have these chicken legs and arms, and no bum or chest.  I could be sixteen again if it weren’t for the grey highlights and wrinkles!  It makes me look forward to getting my pre-diagnosis body back, and the one without cancer.

Part of it is that I know that my new protocol will be effective against the cancer, and that it will also take discipline and focus… but what was going to be a week off turned into three.

The addictiveness of sugar aside, I’ve been thinking a lot about decisions and how we make and stick to those things we choose.  It reminded me of an analysis piece that I heard on NPR a couple of years ago on the correlation between happiness and the number of choices we have.  The crux of it is that we think choice is good, but it’s not all good.  It delved into the amount of choice we have, from picking cereal at the grocery store or buying a new pair of jeans.  The logic behind more choice is that the welfare of citizens is increased with an increase in freedom.  That is, you don’t negatively affect anybody with more choice because all choices can be ignored, and that many do benefit from access to more options.  It makes sense, but hasn’t proven to be psychologically accurate.

One side-effect of more choice is “a production of paralysis rather than liberation.”  For example, the whole grocery store scene was one I found overwhelming when I first immigrated to the United States.  Stores here are so much bigger than in Australia, and I found the amount of choice staggering.  There were many a time when I’d go in with a list, get sidetracked, frustrated and overwhelmed by the choices and not come home with the things we needed.  It used to be a source of jokes and exasperation from Dave, my task seemed simple and was anything but!  Interestingly, my sister admits to the same issue and still lives in Australia, so it may very well be genetic in our cases... sorry to spill the beans, sis!

The punchline is that it’s easier to make a 100% decision than a 99% decision.  It’s based on Jack Canfield’s book, “The Success Principles,” where he says, “99 percent is a bitch.  100 percent is a breeze."  I have to agree, although I’d have definitely chosen a different word to describe it… maybe “99 percent is a bear” or does that also discriminate against bears?

Once I’ve made a complete choice, it’s easy to stick to.  It’s the “maybe just a little bit,” or the “maybe just this once” that I’ve really had a hard time with.  I totally get that everyone needs time off, and I do believe that even moderation needs some moderating, but this was getting out of hand, people!

So, as of noon yesterday, I’ve officially cut out all sugar and carbs once and for all until the cancer is gone, no more cheat days.  Hopefully, you’ll help keep me honest.  Susie Moore, who wrote this article on the subject, has three rules for 100% effort:

  1. Identify exactly what needs 100 percent of your attention.  Not everything in your life needs it, but you already know what does
  2. Put in the effort.  99%-ing is hard, weighs on us daily, and the “decision fatigue” is usually harder to deal with than the actual task at hand
  3. Repeat (again and again).  To quote Moore, “True happiness is the joy we experience when we move toward our potential.  The beautiful part is when we apply the 100-percent rule to a task at hand, we complete it.  A project gets wrapped.  A once-hopeful intention becomes a habit.  A goal is met.  It then frees up adequate mental space for the next priority to become clear, since we’re not plagued by guilt about other multiple half-assed projects.  And when we give 100 percent, other not-as-important stuff falls away in the meantime”

What things in your life might warrant 100% effort or a 100% decision?  Scott Miker says, “You should be 100% in your commitment level and lenient after you make a mistake,” meaning that it’s not helpful when we beat ourselves up when we slip or stumble -- it often leads to a bigger fall.  True success comes from getting over it quickly with minimal fuss and returning to your routine.  There is a flexibility required with admitting that we’re human and that we’ll make mistakes, and without distraction or justification just setting it aside and getting back on track immediately.

Doing something small towards your goal usually creates the motivation to keep going.  Counterintuitive perhaps, but definitely handy if you’d like your husband to help you clean the house.  Mine would always jump right in five minutes after I’d got all the cleaning supplies out, but had a hard time motivating to start without a nudge, just like most of us.

Creating habits that support positive behavior is the best way to stay on track, your brain will often reinforce similar patterns, suggesting the habitual behavior once you’ve established the routine.  If you use it to your advantage, that is.  Habits can also be what keeps you stuck.

I intend to be kind to myself while providing 100% towards my keto diet.  I will bypass guilt and the entitlement that needs reward.  Stand up Cass, dust yourself off and keep moving forward.