Confessions of a former TV addict

There once was a time when I was a bona fide TV addict. I was struck by this affliction in my early teens and a typical evening would involve intense co-ordination of TV schedules.

If it was a busy night I would need to run back and forth from screen to screen, watching Buffy on one TV, recording Friends, Spin City and Veronica’s Closet on one VCR and recording Survivor on another.

VCRs are now a relic of the past, long overtaken by PVRs and SVOD services that allow us to watch our recordings and binge watch shows whenever we want. At the time though, I regarded our VCR as my saviour, performing a wonderful service for those of us who technically had no life and relied too heavily on TV for entertainment.

It shocks me to reveal this, but at one point many years ago I counted that I was recording eighteen shows a week on my PVR. How on earth I kept up with that much TV is beyond me. I was young, almost everything on TV looked as though it was worth watching, and no one was going to stop me consuming it all. Not even my parents who attempted to offer words of warning but to no avail.

Part of my problem was in the misguided mindset that once I started a series I should really try and finish it. I mean, I even stuck with Felicity long after her hair was cut and grew back again and into the strange last season storyline involving time travel.

A crucial turning point came when I first decided to quit a show – this came in season 4 of Alias when it really started to go nuts and it was time to start trimming the fat where my TV viewing was concerned.

Since then I have gradually cut down my TV viewing, to the point where I am currently only watching three shows a week (Big Little Lies, Girls and Billions – all brilliant!). It is about quality, not quantity, and being much more selective about how I spend my free time.

As I mentioned in my post about my attempts to minimize my life, cutting down on TV and only selecting a few shows to watch a week is part of my strategy to declutter my life.

It has also been a part of my shift towards leading a more active lifestyle, aided by my newfound love of Zumba and the long walks I have been taking in the evenings now that it is staying lighter for longer.

Don’t get me wrong, I still really enjoy watching TV but my priorities have changed over time and I am no longer the addict I once was. That is the thing about growing and developing as you get older – hopefully you gain more wisdom and I have found that cutting down on TV is one of the wisest things I have ever done.

Down the rabbit hole: celebrity news addiction

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Anyone who has ever been on the Daily Mail website and been drawn to their showbiz column knows exactly what it is like to lose an hour of your life without knowing or remembering what happened.

These days I rarely allow myself to get caught down the rabbit hole that is the never-ending showbiz column, namely because I inevitably want to scan through every single story headline and there are a lot of them. I end up opening at least 10 of these articles in succession, thereby crashing my Safari session, which then begins to draw me out of my celeb-addicted haze and back into cold hard reality wondering where the last half an hour just went.

Whilst this was once a daily activity, a few years ago I decided to go cold turkey on engaging in this zombie-like consumption of useless news and I haven’t turned back since (bar the odd relapse which then reminds me why I went cold turkey in the first place).

I now find out celebrity news through the grapevine (Amal Clooney is pregnant?? Beyonce is pregnant? Everyone it seems is pregnant!). I find it odd being so out of the loop with news I was once so up-to-date on, but I need to stick to my guns on this if I am to maintain my sanity and prevent countless hours of time wasting.

Moderation has never been my forte which such things, which is a shame. But I rest easy in the knowledge that I have gained back countless hours of my life that I would have never seen again and that is really worth something. I am not sure what those hours were then filled with alternatively (watching TV, eating?) but I have to believe that whatever it is must be better than being stuck down the celebrity news rabbit hole.

Cold turkey

I have decided that it is time to go cold turkey off of chocolate again. This may seem a little extreme to your average person who can eat a couple of pieces a day and call it quits, but I am simply not one of those lucky people. I don’t go by individual units of chocolate – I count by rows. And while I may be able to limit myself to one row of chocolate on the first day that a king size block is in the house, by day two I am up to two rows, and then the next day it is three, and quicker than you know it the whole block is gone and I have the realization that I am back to square one as far as chocolate consumption is concerned.

Now this may not rate as a terrible addiction to anyone who has seen one of those documentaries about people who eat a king size block all in one go by themselves, in addition to an entire pizza, two burgers and a two litre bottle of coke, but it starts to become a problem when one cannot fit into one’s pants anymore. So I have decided to start with eliminating chocolate and see where it takes me. I hope that I will be back to sliding into my size 10s in no time. If I can just stay clear of that magical aisle beckoning me with the promise of sugary goodness…

If we are looking at the bigger picture, I think we must hone in on the root of the problem – I am essentially addicted to sugar. In recent years there has been a massive sugar backlash with an array of people presenting their case for the poisoning effects of sugar. The fact that it is bad for us surely surprises no one, the fact that it may be better for you to eat fat instead is a bit of a surprise. Apparently, back when we were hunter-gatherers sugar was extremely scarce, so when we got a taste of it our bodies would clutch at it and desperately hold on to it and it would not satiate our hunger. Now that sugar is no longer scarce, we can eat seemingly limitless amounts of sugar and never be satisfied. Anyone who has been confronted by a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups knows that this is true.

My day is buoyed by my consumption of sugar. Work is the worst place for my sugar addiction, namely because my workplace is packed with an impressive number of bakers who are constantly luring me to their desks with the promise of carrot/chocolate/hummingbird/lolly/blueberry cakes. I at least have the willpower to wait until after lunch to consume said cakes, which seems to impress some of my colleagues. Shame I can’t seem to stretch my willpower to actually refrain from eating the cakes in the first place, but willpower has to start somewhere. The good thing is, I have a plan. As an extension of my no chocolate diet, I’m cutting down on cake. I’m only allowed one dessert food a week starting from today. Here’s hoping that no one brings red velvet cupcakes to work tomorrow.

When I was vacationing in Melbourne I stopped into a cute little boutique and had a conversation with a friendly shop assistant dressed in a fabulous vintage 50s inspired ensemble. How we got started on the topic of sugar I can’t recall, but I was relieved to discover that I am not the only person suffering from sugar addiction. This girl, who found herself flagging mid-morning only to take refuge in a sugary treat to get her through till lunchtime, was actually on the verge of cutting out sugar all together and that, she explained to me, included cutting out fruit. That’s right, fruit! Which I have always been told is good for me. Apparently it contains fructose which only works to feed the addiction and if you are to curb your appetite for sweets 24/7 you have to cut absolutely everything with sugar content. Which doesn’t leave terribly much in the grand scheme of things seeing as sugar is in everything.

Goodness, if I was to go strict on myself about this I guess I could forfeit my morning kiwifruit and afternoon pear, but my sanity is far too important to me to go that far. I still need a little sweetness in my life – it just means I can only eat natural sugars. As long as that is not a sliding slope back to chocolate, cupcakes and donuts, I am fine with that. We shall see how I go.