August 29th, 2019 I Blush
Yesterday was a 4-star day: I maintained the integrity of my calorie budget, I remained refined sugar-free, I exceeded my daily water goal, and I stayed well connected with exceptional support.
I envision how I want the day to go each morning. A lot of times it doesn’t necessarily go exactly in line with that visualization–but I can pivot and meet the day, so to speak. Yesterday was one of those days when it all unfolded as I imagined. Those are golden to me. I enjoyed it! Received a DM this morning from a regular Instagram follower who noticed my #whatsfordinner post wasn’t posted last night. I had the same meal (without cheese this time) as Sunday night, so I skipped the post! I still took the picture! But didn’t post it. It was most convenient for me after a long day.
Today’s been a really busy one, but a good one, for sure! I worked through lunch, worked late–then needed to go back to the studio at 5pm for what turned out to be a one-hour client recording session. I ended up with two big meals and my coffee today. I was thinking about adding some calories a little later–but I’m full. I think I’ll just let a low-calorie day be a low-calorie day.
I had a midmorning meeting with a client today at a coffee shop. Their number one specialty drink is one they named after me–and that’s a wonderful honor. It’s a strange dynamic I do at work–it’s my job to promote things like this–and I do my job well, and if I’m doing it well, you’d never know anything about my personal boundary with whatever food or drink I’m advertising for our clients.
Now, just to be clear, I didn’t name this drink or create the recipe–and I’ll spare you the details of the indulgent creation, but it’s called the “Sweet On Sean.” I blush a little every time I say the name. I do take a strange measure of pride in the fact that it’s their top-selling specialty drink.
Anyway, the barista on duty brought over a complimentary specialty drink and sat it in front of me, saying, “They tell me you don’t do sugar, but you can try it this one time.” I didn’t of course. I did thank her for the drink–and passed it on to someone else. She doesn’t know me well and that’s okay! One of the people in the meeting who does know me very well rushed to my defense, saying, “You don’t violate that rule, do you?” No, I don’t. If I do, there’s no telling how long I’d be off the rails.
I don’t make a big deal explaining my plan practice, at all, usually not even a little bit. But I did say that in response to her question. It happens occasionally. Yesterday I was gifted donuts by a guest on my radio show. I passed those along to the office staff upstairs. One thing to remember– it isn’t will power that keeps me from eating and drinking these things. I’m not in any way at all bragging about my ability to turn them down either. It is simply a reflection of the recovery perspective (as imperfect as that is for me most days) I must carry into each day in order to remain well.
I’ve received many questions about my abstinence from refined sugar. Hardly a week passes where I don’t receive at least one question about this topic.
To better understand my path to abstinence, it’s important to start from the beginning. The following is an excerpt from a previous post where I spent some time explaining this topic as it applies to my experience:
This was one of the biggest points of contention for me since I started losing weight in 2008. I lost 275 pounds eating all forms of refined sugar, all within reasonable portions at appropriate times. Using prior success as a reference, It made it very hard to get to a place of acceptance for abstinence, where I am now. (Almost five and half years refined sugar-free)
How did I stay consistent during my initial weight loss as long as I did, despite all the sugary foods in moderation?
In hindsight, I clearly see how my support and accountability system importance level was set so high, I didn’t dare give in to the struggle, temptation and the obsessive like attraction to “getting more.”
There were a lot of prayers and meditation–surrounding myself with people, instead of isolating–and connecting as much as possible with a variety of support sources.
When I basically abandoned almost every support and accountability component I had leaned on for so long–then it was a very different dynamic. Suddenly I was dramatically weakened.
When the biochemical reactions of sugar addiction swirled through my brain, I followed its lead without question–as if possessed. I traded one struggle for another. Instead of struggling against the compulsions to binge, I gave in–then struggled with the regret, shame, and embarrassment associated with weight gain and the guilt associated with doing the very things I wanted to be diametrically opposed.
I was very much NOT wanting to let go of the sugar or, the option to enjoy it occasionally in portioned doses…
My denial was slowly revealed and chipped away by learning.
I kept researching the effects of sugar, specifically the addictive nature of it, and then as if I was destined to hear–I kept having conversations with people in recovery from food addiction—people who have what I want–years of maintenance behind them–and 100% of them said the same thing in relation to sugar and how it creates a biochemical reaction in our pleasure sensors—and then sets off the addictive cycle of, “I gotta have more and NOW!!!!” Every single long term maintenance person I spoke with had abstinence from refined sugar in common. Every single one.
Once I gave it an honest commitment, I finally experienced what everyone was talking and writing about. The most amazing benefits I once thought were impossible to find for me–were changing me in the most wonderful ways.
No biochemical-addiction-driven binges and no urges to binge.
It doesn’t “fix” the pull toward emotional/stress eating, but that’s a post for another day.
The abstinent described a feeling–the peace, the calm, the clarity—the solid foundation making it easier for all other nutritional decisions…but still until I actually committed to the effort needed to personally “test” it, it was like they were speaking a foreign language.
I do recognize that I have a similar and many ways stronger support and accountability system in place now–but even still–I’m not fighting to maintain control. There’s a peace and calm about my approach that I’m absolutely in love with. If trading refined sugar for this feeling is the deal…then I’ll sign a lifetime contract. That’s the long answer to my perspective.
Will I ever go back to eating refined sugar-laden things? I pray I never do. My short answer is no, I don’t plan on ever going back. I now know, understand and appreciate what I must do in order to stay abstinent. I also know that if I ever decide to abandon the principles and practices of my personal recovery, I’ll surely go straight back to the very familiar reality of an unmanageable and chaotic existence.
It’s important to note that fortunately, not everyone is a food and/or sugar addict. For some, the basic fundamentals of eating less, exercising more and developing an “in moderation” approach to food is the answer. I wanted it to be my answer. And as much as I wanted to wish it into being–summoning the law of attraction and constantly telling myself I was someone who could be okay with a non-addict approach to recovery–I finally realized it wasn’t me.
And it’s okay. I’m okay. I’m no longer trying to be someone else’s normal. This is my normal.
And I have a wonderful, rich and fulfilling life ahead of me without refined sugar.
The acceptance of and fully embracing my personal truth of addiction, along with some life-changing epiphanies about identity and self-worth, help keep me in a positive place most days.
I love this feeling and I pray I never trade it for anything.
Truth is, for me, all it takes for that transaction to happen is one bite, one drink–one time.
I’m happily abstinent from refined sugar.
Oh–and the thing about not using will power? Will power is used to not do something we really want to do. If you don’t want to do something, it doesn’t take will power to not do it. I’m deathly afraid of heights. I don’t want to jump out of an airplane–and I won’t, and it doesn’t take willpower to keep me from doing it! I don’t want to go back to living as a 500-pound man, either. I don’t live in fear of that possibility, rather, I live with a healthy respect for the fragility of it all. One bite, one drink–one time, for me, is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute.
And if I did jump, maybe, eventually, I’d signal to someone that I’m in trouble and perhaps they would dive down to me–grab ahold of me and then their parachute would help pull me up, saving me from certain death. But I’d rather not take that chance.
One day at a time, my friend. It’s not guaranteed. All I have is this daily practice of things.
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#whatsfordinner This experiment didn’t quite go as envisioned. Still tastes good. But super messy/soggy. You can imagine what I was going for…just didn’t cook it down long enough. 8.5oz sliced chicken breast, 3.5servings Red Gold refined sugar-free tomato sauce with added refined sugar-free bbq seasoning, 56g Italian blend shredded cheese, and 43g red onion- divided between two Joseph’s Flax-Oat Bran-Whole Wheat Pitas. Could have ditched the pitas for this meal! #kitchenexperiment #dailypractice #foodplan 596 cal. (Same exact calorie count from breakfast). No lunch today. Maybe a small something a little later. 🙂
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Practice, peace, and calm,
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