A few days ago, I was standing beside a friend in a cafeteria and watched as he loaded up his coffee with sugar and then proceeded to roll himself a cigarette. As I watched, I recalled how I was once a regular smoker and, although not a steady coffee drinker, would put at least two heaped spoons of sugar in tea, which I drank copious amounts of.
I’m 63, and Chris is probably ten years my senior. And despite being good part-time workmates for several years, there’s one thing I’ll never convince him to do – change.
When he had finished his routine, I filled my tea mug with hot water and dropped in a green tea sachet.
Both of us sat down together, comfortable but not talking much. I drank, and he drank. Then he coughed slightly and decided it was time to go outside to sit with the other puffers and smoke his cigarette. It was all a regular routine.
Making a major change in our lives, like moderating our drinking, dropping sugar or stopping smoking, is hard.
Many of us will never do it until we end up in hospital or receive a serious health warning from the family doctor.
For me, I knew I had to change long before I took the final step. Especially where smoking was concerned.
Are you as stubborn as me?
I was coughing blood and would run seriously out of breath before I finally took the plunge and gave up smoking.
Even then, it wasn’t really the fact that I felt bad or the fact that I had a young family and a lot more to live for that made me finally give up.
What changed me was the memory of my mother and the way she died. A smoker all her life, she died a horrible death at 53 of emphysema caused by smoking.
Now, surely you would think that memory would be enough to stop a young man from ever taking up smoking. It wasn’t enough for me, but finally accepting the idea that I might be destined for the same fate certainly did.
The motivational factors that trigger any of us to do or not do something vary hugely. For some, it might be the action of a favourite celebrity, a new relationship or even a nagging partner.
I can honestly say I’m not burdened with a nagging partner when it comes to my good health, but if you are, it might pay to do yourself a favour and listen.
I never changed until the blood tests were sending all the wrong signals, and even then, I still waited until I had a minor stroke before taking action over what I was eating.
Now, did I make a conscious decision to do that? No. I was given many opportunities to change but, for some reason, I could never convince myself that I actually needed to.
If the facts are stacking up the wrong way, you may need to make the same move I did. When you wake up tomorrow, take a hard look at that man in the mirror and ask yourself, who do you see?