Monday, November 19, 2012

Pan Pizza and Ice Cream Cakes, Mercy

Pan Pizza and Ice Cream Cakes, Mercy

My life has had many ironic twists along the way.  A running irony is how my job sometimes requires me to be a salesman of everything from different restaurants to grocery items.  Yep, that's me talking about the new pan pizza with its "double layers of cheese and toppings all the way to the edge."  My voice shifts into a slightly seductive tone as I try my best to convince you to try this pan pizza masterpiece.  It's my job.  It's what I do. In the "zone" I never really gave it too much thought.  Recently, I've spent more time examining the many facets of me while in the depths of struggle. This slice of irony keeps rising in this introspective study like the fresh-never frozen pan pizza dough I've been talking about.
Saturday found me broadcasting at a store where my entire job was to broadcast the many specials you'll find "for a Thanksgiving dinner they'll never forget!"  Four hours speaking about Sister Shubert's Dinner Yeast Rolls, pecan pies, summer sausage and fifty other grocery items along the way.  And most of it doesn't really bother me at all.  I mean really--Thursday will mark my fifth Thanksgiving since I started along this road, my strategy will be the same as the previous four.  I'll add 1,000 calories to my budget and I'll be very mindful of what I allow into the budget and what I won't.  After researching the calories of pecan pie at my first Thanksgiving (first as in--you know what I mean), I made a very clear decision to abstain.  It just wasn't worth the investment.  So talking about the pecan pies wasn't that big of a deal.  But then...well...

I was approached by the manager in my last broadcast hour requesting that I promote the new Blue Bunny Heath Bar and Reese's Ice Cream Cakes.  I'll tell you right now, the Heath Bar Ice Cream Cake---it's like the new recipe department at Blue Bunny was aiming straight at me with this one.  One of my biggest weaknesses over the previous six months of struggle was the small Heath Bar Mix at Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy Store.  Want to read some crazy rationalizations?  It's a small--made with low fat frozen yogurt--only 450 calories-- It started with an occasional small.  With a food addict like me, it never ends as a once every  month or two treat or something reasonable.  Nope.  At my worst, I would order the large--a whopping 700+ calories in one cup.  I would grab it--then look around as I drove away, hoping nobody spotted me getting my fix.  Then, as if I was being followed and trying to shake a tail, I would wind my way through the residential blocks separating me from my apartment--or my dungeon of guilt and shame, if you will.  I will not allow Heath Bar Mixes into my life again.  Not a portion, not a bite, not once every month or two--not ever. I'm finally accepting the deepest, most important truths of my food addiction.  And that is this: There are some things--especially items with concentrated fat and sugar, I must abstain from for the rest of my life.  Period.

Anyway--back to the manager and these Blue Bunny Ice Cream Cakes.  He asked me to promote the free samples and coupons they were giving away to shoppers. He even invited me in to try it so "you can tell 'em how good it is..."  Uh, yeah--no thanks, I can easily do this without having a sample.  It's ice cream and a candy bar--it kind of sells itself.  He also gave me a three dollar off coupon to serve as a reminder for the promotion.

Now, I assure you I didn't go anywhere near the free samples.  I didn't buy one either.  I talked about these new cakes from Blue Bunny and how wonderful it would be for you to have one ready in the freezer when your company arrives this holiday weekend.  I sold it.  I sold it very well.  I almost sold myself.

I couldn't get these cakes off my brain.  During and after a later broadcast at a car dealer, it was on my brain again.  When I finished at the car dealership, I looked down and there it was. The coupon.  And in the name of completely honest transparency--I'll admit...

I wanted one.

I did.  I wanted it bad.  The picture on the coupon promised it would be even dreamier than the frozen yogurt mix Braum's deals from their drive-through.  This is premium ice cream and Heath Bar.

My mind started racing as it tried to find some kind of out, some kind of rational thought that would excuse such a deliberate act of indulgence.  I knew, if that new cake found its way into my apartment, I would destroy it in short time.  And I knew I had to stop and ask for help.

I have friends who will ask why I didn't stop and call them in this moment.  And trust me, my friends--you'll be getting calls like that from me, I'm sure.  Because I'm not throwing away my life over an ice cream cake, a new pan pizza or the sesame chicken from the Chinese Express.

I stopped and said a prayer.  Out loud.  I took a deep breath and headed home.

This isn't easy.  In fact, I find it more challenging than ever.  It reminds me of a wonderful moment I had during my first year of weight loss.  My phone lit up with an "unknown" and I almost didn't answer.  I'm glad I did because it was one of my heroes, Richard Simmons.  We talked for several minutes and I casually mentioned "lusting" over food.  And he replied, "don't we all!"  I didn't fully appreciate what Richard meant until now.

Being strong willed, being in the zone, having weight loss success---all of it doesn't keep us from being human.  And in our own human state of being--enmeshed in our own way of dealing with emotions and circumstances, the allure of escape with food is powerful.

Standing up against this powerful force requires calling upon a higher power and sometimes, simply calling a friend. We can overcome.  We can be equally as powerful in our good choices.  We can arm ourselves with details exclusive to who we are and how we're affected--then navigate the wonderful world of food with a little less fear and a whole lot more knowledge.

I'm getting stronger everyday.  I'm slowly moving toward regaining consistency in my workouts and I also plan on devising a new weigh day schedule to be unveiled in the coming days.

As for the ironic workplace "hazards" mentioned above, I'm okay.  I love what I do for a living and I know I'm very blessed to be able to do what I do.  My dream of writing and speaking more often about weight loss and the powerful dynamics along this road will come true and will be my full time job someday.  Just not today.  In the meantime I'll be the sugary suggestive voice you might hear, doing my best to sell you ice cream cakes and pizzas.  If you're a food addict like me, please feel free to turn down the volume.

Thank you for reading, goodnight and...

Good Choices,


  1. Your blogs and information attracts me to come back again n again.this site

  2. you know that I totally relate, my friend! The siren song, the rationalization, "one bite won't hurt."

    In our innermost heart, we pray, we connive, we try to make it work that just this one time, we'll will and be able to eat that just one bite.

    Remember that chapter in my book, "Thank You for Sharing." Somehow, telling someone takes all the power out of that screaming little voice in my head. I've found that texting works too. Call or text me any time - we are in it together, my friend. I am a food addict like you.

  3. OH Sean you are my "HERO"!! I can totally relate to you my friend!! I know how hard those MENTAL crazy times can be and I commend you on your strength to survive those catastrophic moments!! I relate those times like bad storms. We have to ride the tide out, and we can survive. Call those life lines of friends and survive the storm. God will always have your back...Many Blessings to you my friend!!

  4. I'm saying this wryly, Mr. Anderson, but how can you sell junk food to the massive masses with a clear conscience? Great that you resisted it and encourage your readers to do so, but by taking to the intercom system in and reminding people that Thanksgiving really isn't complete without two kinds of ice cream-topped pie on the table seems like a bit of a sell-out. Like something Kenlie would do. ;)

    1. Who says that Sean has a clear conscience? He's doing his job. We all do things at our jobs that we don't particularly agree with, but have no choice. Nobody is forcing these shoppers to eat the stuff. Besides there's lots of people out there that can eat any way they like without any consequences. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them.

    2. Well ... it's a fair question, though. Unfortunately. I think he'll dial that stuff back; it's just not good for him to advertise that stuff both for his own health and for others. It's fair enough to say that nobody is forcing people to eat that stuff, but it's still not a good idea to dangle a bottle of wine in front of an alcoholic. And some of those people are, and Sean is a recovering one essentially. It's just not a good place to be for him.

      Sean, you will have to move away from pushing the things that are poison to you at some point. I'm sure you know this already.

    3. Norma, Heather, Janis-- Thank you. It's just a part of my job as a broadcaster. I have to make a living and broadcasting is what I do. My ultimate goal is to evolve my career in broadcasting to focus exclusively on weight loss and every issue involved, including food addiction and emotional/compulsive eating. Eventually I will make my passion my full time job. I'm simply not there yet. I agree, moving forward means moving away from the position I have today. I'm VERY thankful for the job I have and my employer has been very good to me. There will come a day when I will be in a position to elevate myself to another level in broadcasting. And it will be a glorious day! My best always--thank you--Sean

  5. Very, very good insights here, Sean. And by you writing out your thoughts it is helping me sort some through some of the same issues. I look forward to reading some more. I do believe prayer is key.

  6. Norma, I think that not everyone needs to avoid ice-cream cake, especially on a special occasion. One day I want a relationship with food where it is normal for me to have a treat at parties without overdoing it or obsessing about it or beating myself up afterwards. It is just food.

    Also, everyone needs to take responsibility for their own eating. Advertising doesn't "make us" eat something.

    That being said, I can see your point. For a reforming food addict, it is kind of like reminding ex-smokers how smooth and relaxing a cigarette can be.

    So what should Sean do? How about work towards a career in weight-loss inspiration where he never needs to advertise unhealthy food again while in the meantime keeping his dayjob so he doesn't end up sleeping on the street? Hey ....

  7. Thank you for this. Last week I was having strong sugar cravings. I called someone three days in a row to told her about it, knowing she would check back with me to see if I broke my abstinence. I didn't break it.

  8. Sean, I completely identify with the mental block of my food addiction. I have found myself trolling the ice cream aisle at the supermarket looking for new flavors. WHY? Do I think that there is finally going to be a flavor that promises one bite and I will not take another? FAT CHANCE of that. Do I think I will find an ice cream that is worth the risk? This is the problem. I do NOT think. There is no flavor in the world worth risking a relapse yet I have read, handled, tasted and finally binged -over and over again under the premise that I think I know what I am doing. In the act of picking up the addictive food, I will never have the upper hand.

    In my line of work I must occasionally set up celebrations with food - none of which are on my food plan by any stretch of the imagination. In that role I have to plan, shop, purchase, transport, handle and creatively/attractively display the food others will eat. Over the past 8 years I cut back each year on the amount of time I spend in this area of my business and it has helped me maintain the personal integrity regarding food, I need to in every area of my life. I cannot compartmentalize my recovery. I tried and it did not work. I understand you need to keep the rent paid and the lights on and that means sometimes you have to take gigs that are food centered. I hope you will continue to find more gigs outside the food porn-pusher variety - for your recovery and the integrity that it needs to thrive, survive - stay alive.

  9. Thank you Sean; I had no idea that your work required you to promote unhealthy choices in such a way to convince and entice people that they "must have" these food to make their festivities complete etc. etc. It seems so ironic that the media pushes this concept down our throat, yet also on the other hand shuns the obese and publishes how "fat" our people and our kids are becoming by their eating habits. Don't they understand what is happening? I am so torn when I attend the school parties for our little ones and the pizza and chemical filled cupcakes and soda pop are brought in to "celebrate" the special occasion. And believe me, all those little elementary kids raise their hands for more. It is appalling to me to see what is happening to our children. But what can we do to promote change? Most people don't see the harm in it. Believe me, I do. I struggle as you do or I would be 300 pounds if I didn't discipline myself. Anyway, I appreciate your honesty of sharing what really goes on deep inside of us. It sounds like you are winning the battle within!! I admire you.

  10. It's taken me a long time but I admit there are several foods that I simply lose control over. I can't eat a bite although believe you me I've tried and failed. Therefore I came to the same conclusion as you have, I just can't have any. What's funny is that although I find it hard I find it easier to stay completely away than I do having one bite and then trying to not have more.
    It is a really hard thing accept because a lot of people can. But once we accept that it does get easier.

  11. It's interesting that ice cream and peanut butter seem to be really common trigger foods. Neither of these are a problem for me at all. I quite like them, but can go months with them in the freezer/pantry without them troubling me at all.

    But a bag of Doritos (or anything else salty and crunchy) bought specially to share with visitors tomorrow? It's like they are calling me constantly. They don't let me rest or think about anything else. The constant temptation wears me down and I eat half the bag (or more) then have to put the rest into the bin to stop myself finishing the lot. I pour them out of the bag, to be sure. Thank goodness I am not yet at the point I will pick them out from among the tea bags and potato peelings.

    Why haven't I learned yet that I have to buy them within hours of needing them (and I think it's fine to have a bit of what you fancy, if you share), or not at all?

  12. Thankyou Sean, I was there today, so so close to just wolfing down a high-sugar, calorie dense bar. I'd read this earlier in the day though, today you were my friend on the end of the phone. ^_^

  13. One of your best posts ever. Since you've come out of the "Dungeon of Guilt and Shame", your posts have been superb. When losing weight, we learn what works and what doesn't. When maintaining weight, we learn who we are and what we can and can't do. That's why maintenance is so hard and has so many setbacks from which so few recover.

    "Being strong willed, being in the zone, having weight loss success---all of it doesn't keep us from being human. And in our own human state of being--enmeshed in our own way of dealing with emotions and circumstances, the allure of escape with food is powerful."

    It's very hard to accept that this is true - that the allure of escape with food has power that will never end. We will always have to struggle to live with it. It will never be easy but it can be our normal.

  14. This is such an honest and refreshing post. I love that you talked about your struggles and what you need to do to get through this stuff yourself. Not everyone has the same issues with food, just like not everyone is an alcoholic. To me there's no difference in what a person with a drinking problem might have to do- say serve alcohol to restaurant patrons, etc. We all just have our own stuff and we have to find our own way to deal. It's so good of you to share, honestly.

  15. Oh the lies that pop into our brains! :) Sometimess I think "Wow...if I had just 3 bites of such and such, I would be completely satisfied and wouldn't want anything else for the rest of the day!" Lies! Because after 25 bites, I'm not satisfied and I realize that it is actually something else that I need 3 bites of! LOL eerr... I hate food sometimes. And love it at the same time. You are so right--it is all about our brains.

    You may have read that last September I reached 81 pounds lost and had 60 more to go. Then I found myself "off the road" and regained 10 pounds. It is very important to me to end this year without the 10 I regained, so I'm focusing on that. It's a hard time of year to lose, but as you know.....if we want it, it can be done. Let's do this.


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