Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July 26th, 2016 I Feel The Same Way

July 26th, 2016 I Feel The Same Way

The past two days have been rather busy. Several new readers have come along since the Today Show social media post yesterday and today's feature on MSN.com. Two different questions about my abstinence from refined sugar gave me an idea. It's re-run time on the DDWL!

The following excerpt comes from June 2014. I was only nine weeks abstinent. I'm currently approaching two years and four months. Without question, it's the best nutritional decision I've ever made. It was interesting to go back in the archives and read how passionate I was about this topic. And now, over two years later--I feel the same way.

From June 2014:

I've written about my abstinence from sugar and how it's given me a peace and calm like I've never known. It's not something necessary for everyone. You may not have the reactions I do when you consume sugar. Arriving at this point in my journey has required a bunch of trial and error, or more accurately, a bunch of denial and struggle. I'm glad I've experienced things this way, though. Because without the trials, the struggles--I wouldn't be where I am today. And I love where I am today.

If you're not someone affected by sugar, like me, good! For you, moderation is key. After experiencing the last nine and a half weeks without and the resulting peace and calm--I've never been more sure of its affects on me. When denial and struggle is replaced with the positive perspective of peaceful acceptance, it's life-changing, certainly has been for me.

I'm writing about this because I've received a few messages and an email today on this very subject.

I believe I've shared these thoughts before. Just in case, here's my deal with sugar:

Restrictions.
This was one of the biggest points of contention for me since I started losing weight in 2008.
I lost 275 pounds eating cake, ice cream and desserts--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.

How did I stay consistent for 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 bio-chemical 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. What ended up happening is, 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 bio-chemical reaction in our pleasure sensors---and then sets off the addictive cycle of, "I gotta have more and NOW!!!!" 

(The following two sentences of this excerpt no longer applies. I switched to Half & Half in my coffee a very long time ago) I can't say I'm 100% sugar-free, because of my non-flavored plain coffee creamer. The tiny amount doesn't seem to have the same effect as larger more obvious amounts. I'm sugar-free enough to experience the most amazing benefits I once thought were impossible to find for me.

No binges and no urges to binge. So many people described their experience to me--and they described this feeling--but still, until I actually committed to the effort needed to personally "test" it, it was like they were speaking of some mythical fantasy.

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 the occasional 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 ice cream, cakes and other 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. And I have a wonderful, rich and fulfilling life ahead of me without sugar.

The acceptance of and fully embracing my personal truth of addiction, along with some life changing epiphanies about identity and self-worth, have sent me straight to a very positive place. I love this feeling and I wouldn't trade it for all the Snickers Bars and mint chocolate chip shakes in the world. Truth is, all it takes for that transaction to happen is one Snickers or shake.

I'm happily abstinent from sugar.
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That was a fun look back!

Today, I maintained the integrity of my maintenance calorie budget. I remained abstinent from refined sugar. I exceeded my daily water goal. I remained firmly connected with solid support contacts and I completed an unusual, but very effective workout.

I'll try for another day like today, tomorrow.

One more thing. I do share a lot here, but I try to be very mindful of protecting the privacy of people close to me. I'm the only one who signed up for this level of sharing. I haven't always made this important and the archives reflect that very well. I do much better these days. With that said...

I noticed Kristin publicly acknowledged our breakup early last week, so I will too. Ultimately, It turned out to be a mutual decision. I wish her all the best. I know she wishes me well, too.

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Thank you for reading and your continued support,
Strength,
Sean

3 comments:

  1. Wanted to add what I call the "loop" to your sugar conversation. I have seen many people think they are okay with sugar because one sugar does not lead to another sugar. Instead they have a loop going with sugar-salt-fat. So ice cream might lead to potato chips which leads to fried chicken. In any combination. So they THINK they are okay with "everything in moderation" because ice cream does not lead to ice cream. But ice cream is the start of a trifecta. And the loop can continue, just rolling on, once it gets going. This is a really important point.

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    1. I totally agree with you and I think this is me. I don't like a lot of sugar, in fact if I eat something sweet I often feel a bit "yuck" and "over-sugared" - I certainly don't turn to more sugar, so for a long time I resisted thinking sugar was a problem for me. But sugar makes me want salt/fat to "balance" it. Then after that maybe something a little bit sweet to finish off a meal. Then... and so on.

      Actually for me I'd say it's all simple carbs rather than just pure sugar. Anything that is quickly converted to sugar in my blood.

      Knowing all this hasn't magically made it easy to change though. Many failed attempts to change my diet, still working on it.

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  2. In line with what Vickie stated- Robb Wolf (The Paleo Solution author) presented a lecture at Paleo Fx 2015. About food hyper-palatability.

    The professional eaters, the example was people who eat lots and lots of ice-cream competitively will start to stop because their brains will start to make them stop after 20 minutes of a 30 min chosen binge. The winners of these competitions will stop, order a plate of french fries, then go on to gorge themselves on more ice cream and win the competition. They out tricked their brains to "eat more" in a dangerous situation.

    The addition of high fat/high starch combo overrides their brains and allows any bit of protective "stop" switch to be turned over to an "eat more switch".

    It's easy for me to look back on 40 years of food addiction and obesity and to see that combo in myself in french fries, chips, and popcorn along with the sugar addiction I had since the age of 6. (extra ghrlein hunger hormone- I was not a bad little girl or adult, just crap hormones)

    I now use a Low Carb Food template that happens to have high fat, but all from well sourced meats, and starch from only veggies and some 85% chocolate here and there. I also salt my food with sea salt or mineral salt with great results. Low carb requires adequate salt intake.

    It's up to us to find our hyper-palatable food triggers and get and keep them out. Moderation is a myth for many of us. Terrible we've been told we must moderate. Even a small amount of Xantham Gum and Guar Gum (Natural emulsifiers) can keep my brain signal in the wrong direction.

    Gretchen Rubin is a "famous" abstainer. I point to her. As many people who said I would die as a morbidly obese person tell me I'm going to die eating low carb high fat, natural food of my ancestors. That's not what my doc tells me. She says I'm doing well according to my blood work.

    Terrible advise to flip the trigger-by those not affected- food made by chemists so that our brain is highjacked. The sooner we return to as few processed foods the better. For many reasons- normal weight, normal hunger signals, cheaper meals, more sustained agriculture and correct land management for nutrient dense soil and safer farming.

    One stop shopping. Return to what our ancestors knew.

    Onward and the sugar, high fat from inflammatory oils, and highly processed foods.

    Karen P (4.5 years of solid weight maintenance after 40 of obesity and binge eating)

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