When checking my blog stats, I noticed that one of you fine folks arrived at my site by searching this title question. When I Google it, I see my blog pops up as the second result! [Fist raised to the sky] But you have to type the whole sentence. If you just search for “warm turkey”, I am lost in a sea of Thanksgiving tips.
Following results include “warm pheasant approach to smoking” (fine, go with total poultry replacement to make a point), “staying warm while turkey hunting”, and “Turkey’s warm ties with Iran”.
The first result is 1991 research article by a UNM-Albuquerque psych professor. The freakishly small world thing about this is that I actually met this guy while at UNM, though we never did discuss warm turkey concepts. Now, I’m not gonna pony up $31.50 for 1991 research, but I do believe in signs. I am embracing the phrase and changing my blog title. Stick around, people, I’ve got some pretty big moves…
Warm turkey is gentler than cold turkey. I am not a fan of quick fixes. I don’t think they stick. Of course there are exceptions. My grandma quit smoking one day justlikethat. She smoked for 40 years. She’d shrug, “eh…no big deal”. She was a humble little soul.
Digging further into Google results, I came across another article on pathological gambling. It suggests that treatment programs with a trial period of controlled gambling work better for those who can’t, or refuse to, completely abstain. A similar approach was also effective for smokers and drinkers. Reduce unhealthy behavior before expecting complete abstinence. Some were able to eventually abstain completely when given the chance to ease into it. In the gambling study, nearly all recoveries were achieved in the “absence of abstinence”.
Many doctors don’t recommend cold turkey approaches. Cutting something out that your body is accustomed to causes you mental and physical stress. You release all sorts of stress hormones, which prompt you to resume the unhealthy behavior you’re trying to quit in the first place. Vicious cycles suck.
For those of us not looking for full-on rehab and clinical interventions (yet), why not apply this premise to your state of wellness? Reduce a behavior that makes you feel crappy. Or guilty. Or bloated. Celebrate the small, subtle differences in how you feel instead of focusing on ohmigod I suck I suck I’m STILL doing this. Determine what you can do, and when. Challenge yourself, yes. But expect improvements to stick only after you’ve actively worked on them for months. And months. Expect setbacks too. [cue the Debbie Downer music]
Make those New Year’s resolutions. But instead of declaring “This is the year I’m going to lose weight!”, raise your glass and toast, “This year, I’m going to feel better. I’ll slack off somewhere in late February, get back on track when it starts getting warm out, then do pretty well until the holidays. I’m going to make more healthy choices than unhealthy ones, because two steps forward, one step back still puts me ahead, dammit.” And then you’ll probably have to slam your champagne because everyone else will already be on their second glass.
Because really, it doesn’t matter that you drank too much champagne that night. It does matter that you partake in some turkey (might I recommend the warm?) the rest of the year.