Went to the theater yesterday and watched the movie “Whiplash”. Had a bucket of popcorn and a regular sweetened Coke. I didn’t drink it all! I shared it and we left about half of it in the theater. Earlier we had shared a rum cake desert at one of the good local food restaurants in Kansas City. It was mildly sweet, instead of being over the top.
So, Resolution number one has been violated…or has it? By way of explaining my understanding of what I have set for myself as a goal, when I say “No Sugar” I really mean that I will not eat sugar mindlessly. I will do it when it is called for, in dessert, or once a month in the theater (sometimes), at other times when eating something sweet is the point of the eating or drinking. Abstinence is not the goal.
The movie “Whiplash” is about a young man at an elite music school. He is incredibly self-driven and comes into the inner circle of a very domineering and authoritarian instructor who pushes him even harder than he pushes himself. To me it is related to our lonely struggles to eat right in a world where everyone else wants to make excuses for eating wrong, to the point where we would get sick and take pills to make it where we can KEEP eating wrong. As someone who is fighting the causes of dietary illness and not the symptoms it is a kind of solitary struggle. Would we be helped if someone were pushing on us from the outside to do it right?
This is kind of the 12 Step program mentality. I am sure there is a 12 Step program for overeating, but what about sugar addiction? I don’t know if having a group of people that you can turn to in times of stress is really that helpful in the relationship between you and your food. Since it is SO available, the trigger to the crime is so fast, it leaves no time to call for reassurance or assistance. Lots of 12 Steps are about breaking the addiction cycle at the planning to execution stage. For food addiction there really is none of that. You are at the store and buy a candy bar, you are at the theater and buy a Coke. Since we all can’t have a bullying coach with us at all times then we must be able to turn to ourselves for help.
First and foremost you must believe that you are the one that you are cheating when you cheat. If you are trying to live better to satisfy your husband (or god, in the case of 12 Step), and when you don’t live better you feel responsible to him, then you are not ready mentally for the real work of living better. You have to know that you owe it to yourself to do the right thing. Once you realize that, then you know that you can’t hide your sins from you. It is then that you begin to realize that the beneficiary of you behaving right is also you. When I think about it you also know how hard it is to do the right thing. Your partner or whoever you think you are eating right for, is blissfully unaware of how many times you have avoided the traps of living like you do. They have no idea how hard it is to not submit to temptation. You do. You can give yourself credit. You can also give yourself permission.
On the topic of permission, this is where the trouble begins in addiction. It goes like this…you have worked hard all week. Your brain is demanding a quart of ice cream. This is where you have to realize that a quart of ice cream is not a reward. It is not something that you would give yourself as a planned reward. By that I mean at the beginning of the week you did not set yourself down and say “If you can go the whole week without eating any sugar, you can eat a whole quart of ice cream in a single sitting”. That is a plan. At the end of the week, saying, “hey I went a whole week, I deserve ice cream” is a trap. Your mind knows how to keep the addiction cycle going and this trap is the one you have to watch out for. If you find yourself offering yourself rewards that are counter to your lifestyle, you have to get out of it in some way. You might try saying “If I can go another week I will eat a whole quart of ice cream, but not this week.” You might try enforcing the no sugar rule at that moment and give yourself some other reward. Just realize that your reward should be public. You should tell your spouse, I think I deserve a box of Twinkies for eating so good this week. You wouldn’t do that, would you? Then your reward is no reward at all, but still something that you would not be proud of. Keep that in mind.
Living and eating right is it’s own reward. Being tough on yourself and being able to make you do what is best for you is a learned behavior, just like your addiction was a learned behavior. It took you years to get to the point you are at. But, the point you are at is that you are ready to put your addiction behind you. It won’t be easy for you, because it is you against you. Nothing is easier than doing nothing different. Nobody benefits from living the same way and giving in to temptation. Only you really benefit from growing and taking responsibility for your own decisions. Once you realize that you can’t trick yourself, you can’ t lie to yourself, you can’t cheat yourself, then you are ready to stop living wrong. You are doing it for you, and you alone. If you start eating right you will be healthy and you will lose weight. That will make other people happy, too, but the one that matters is you.