Spiralling Out Of Control

This week has mostly been a foggy jumble of sinus-related illness, tissues too many to recall, and a fortieth birthday which somehow slid by barely noticed due to the aforementioned illness. BUT! Throughout it all I have stuck stoically to my commitment to staying sugar-free, and as a nice side effect I have lost two pounds.

Over the last seven days I have been increasingly more mindful of what I’ve been eating. It’s so easy to slip into overeating (especially junk food) and I confess to being the queen of chocolate frenzies; I have regularly scoffed entire giant bars of the stuff within a matter of minutes, barely registering what is going on until the empty wrapper lies before me and I’m filled with disgust at such a potent lack of self-control.

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However, during the past week I’ve noticed a gradual but obvious reduction of cravings for sugar, a very significant lack of interest in sugary foods, and a small sense of pride in starting to overcome my addiction. It’s nice to know that I’m not a complete slave to the white stuff.

Another positive is that I have finally reached a point in my life where I feel safely able to ‘watch my diet’ without launching into obsessive and dangerous eating patterns, as was the case in my younger years. I’m not denying myself crucial calories in a bid to lose vast amounts of weight; I’m addressing an addiction to sugar which, when consumed in excess, causes us problems both physically and mentally. I read on Soberistas.com all the time about an inability to control food intake and especially so in the early stages of becoming alcohol-free. This is a common problem, and one which many people beat themselves up about.

I was incapable, once-upon-a-time, of eating ‘sensibly’ without spiralling into a dangerous game of excessive control which resulted in losing way too much weight and becoming obsessed with food and how best to avoid it. I hated my body and used my restrictive calorie controlling as a means of exercising discipline in the rest of my life – where I clearly felt as though there was none.

This whole business of ‘getting better’ following a dependency upon alcohol is a very complex one. Personally speaking, my ‘issues’ manifested themselves in drug use, an eating disorder and heavy drinking, and I merely swapped between these three things (or engaged in all three simultaneously) for several years in an effort to channel my discontentment away from actually facing up to them. Anything but resolve my deep dislike of myself.

The thing that really began the ball rolling towards happiness and acceptance of who I am was stopping drinking. That act alone was enough to initiate a steady process of beginning to like myself. It provided the foundations for being able to deal with all of the negativity, and injected me with the inner strength to get to grips with everything that I was scared of facing for all those years.

Cutting out sugar may sound like a fairly insignificant lifestyle change. But for those of us who’ve found our demons emerging in so many guises including a warped relationship with food, being able to eat nutritionally well and to enjoy healthy eating in a normal manner without fearing food, is a massive achievement.

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Sugar Junkie Makes It Through The Weekend! (Here are the 3 things that helped me beat my cravings)

Writing as a MASSIVE chocolate addict/sugar junkie, I am delighted to announce that I’ve made it through the weekend without any sweet stuff whatsoever. I know not everyone who follows my blog will care whether I’m eating sugary food or not (this is a blog about sobriety, after all) but I am noticing some definite parallels with quitting alcohol and sugar, so bear with me – it might help you deal with addiction, regardless of what the object of your addiction is.

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I blogged about my desire to cut out sugar because of a suspicion I had that making myself accountable would work wonders as a means of motivation when temptation struck. And, I have to say; this was the single most effective tool over the course of the last three days in me staying sugar-free. There were a couple of wobbly moments (buying my daughter and sister a piece of marshmallow brownie each, and Sunday evening after dinner which, I realised, is a major trigger point for me in terms of gorging on biscuits) when I very nearly caved in, but because I’d blogged about my month off the sugar, I couldn’t do it. I would have felt terrible for going back on my word so soon after announcing publicly that this is what I was planning on doing until November 8th. I even had a friend suggest to me that it would be fine to have a few chocolate biscuits and nobody would know (I know! Naughty, naughty) but I still stuck to my promise – because even if nobody else would have found out, I’d have known, and I couldn’t be duplicitous in that way.

Second big help: being prepared. On Friday I bought loads of fruit and vegetables with which to make delicious smoothies, and also nuts and medjool dates to snack on when I felt peckish. Because there was always something close to hand that did not include sugar (I know fruit contains fructose but I’m not giving that up – just the refined stuff) I never felt as if I was denying myself. I didn’t go hungry or put myself in a position where the cravings would become too much to handle.

Thirdly, I adopted a mantra, which I repeated in my head every time I felt the sweet tooth sensation creeping up on me: ‘You will feel worse afterwards, if you give in and eat this biscuit/cake/sweet, than you do now’. Somehow, this simplistic message worked. I was able to see the pointlessness of giving into my sugar addiction – all I would be doing is perpetuating the habit, providing relief for a craving that would eventually disappear altogether if I ignored it for a sufficient length of time.

Today I don’t feel remarkably different to how I did on Friday, as I am still suffering from a horrible cold. I don’t think I’ve lost any weight either (it has only been three days!). But I do feel light and free mentally, as that regret over losing control of my food intake is noticeably absent. I feel as though I’m making progress. It’s nice to be back in the driving seat of my body, as opposed to letting a sugar addiction take hold.

To summarise, the three biggies that have helped me to achieve the HUGE goal of not eating refined sugar this weekend are as follows: accountability (blogging in my case, but telling people verbally would work just as well), preparation, and a mantra that I repeated in my head every time a craving hit. If you are joining me in this sugar-free challenge, please let me know what is working for you and how you are feeling. Thanks, Lucy x

Sugar No More!

I write this feeling slightly below par. Not mentally, I feel pretty good about things in that respect, but physically, I am somewhat run down. I’ve had a manic schedule this week plus my toddler has been ill, neither of which has helped. But this is me and I am, as ever, on the search for a solution. I don’t like accepting less than perfect and if I know I can change my situation for the better then I usually do – or at least try to.

Yesterday I loaded up on Strepsils and Soothers and snuffled my way through the day as best I could with tissues sprouting from every pocket. Today I am desperate to be back to normal, and have decided to embark on a month of super healthy eating to try and boost my energy levels and natural defences. So, here I am with a juice and smoothie recipe book at my side, and a lengthy shopping list consisting mostly of fruit, nuts and vegetables.

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I know that accountability works fantastically with anything like this, so I’m planning on blogging my way through this journey – if you are in the same boat as me (wanting to lose a few pounds, feeling a bit rubbish as the seasons change, and looking for more energy), you might want to join me. It’s nicer with company!

As well as the aforementioned ban on processed food and (not the technical term I know) general crap, I am also going to make a specific effort to eliminate sugar. I hate being reliant on something and I know I’ve got a bit of a dependency for the sweet stuff. Sugar is ridiculously addictive, and concrete proof of this can be found in my delving into the biscuit tin every night whereupon I plough my way through multiple Kit-Kats and/or chocolate Hobnobs (ostensibly bought for the children). This uncontrollable urge to gorge on sugar creeps up on me; what starts out as the odd treat gradually becomes a fully-fledged sugar habit, and I hate it. I hate how rubbish I feel after eating the stuff. I hate knowing that I’m not in control of what goes into my body.

Does this sound at all familiar? Yes, I know, I could be writing about booze here. And it’s the same process at work – so I’m going to address it with the same remedy that I used for alcohol.

Starting out, I am 9 stone and 4 pounds. And most days I’m generally scoffing (in terms of sugary stuff) a piece of cake plus a few biscuits. I exercise a decent amount, running and yoga being the main activities. Not a problem there. But sugar…cold turkey starts here.

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This desire to improve my diet may well be heightened by the fact that I’ll be forty years old next week. As we age, weight becomes easier to gain and harder to shift, and I suppose I am motivated by a desire to hang on to my youth for just a little bit longer…will all this help in my efforts to look and feel rejuvenated? We shall see. If you are going to join me in this, please add your comments below and let’s support each other. I’m expecting to feel grumpy without sugar in the first few days, and hungry initially, as my body adjusts to a greener diet.

I’ll keep you posted 🙂

The Art of Resistance

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I am currently in my twenty first month without alcohol. I rarely feel the urge to go and get drunk, although I would be lying if I said that the thought had never entered my head during that time.

Usually as a result of being depressed, or something not going my way, or worrying about family or money, I have once or twice slipped into that mental place which is only a small step away from the wine aisle in Tesco. It is a fleeting thought which maybe lasts a couple of minutes; the pros and cons are weighed up, I quickly come to realise that there are no pros because I play the movie to the end, and we all know how the movie finishes. Then it’s all cons, I know it will go exactly the way it went last time and in the long run I would lose; the knowledge that my children are happy and secure, my partner, my self-respect and my happiness, lots of money, any chance I have of regaining my figure after having a baby in my late thirties (I have discovered that the human body is not quite so resilient at 37 as it is at 23, which is when I had my first baby). In the end, I lose.

Those thoughts go at one hundred miles an hour, I take a sharp intake of breath and then begin to think how best to snap out of my mood, now that I have come to the realisation that booze isn’t going to be involved in the process.

Previous to my giving up alcohol, I would often experience these thoughts, instances of ‘shall I, shan’t I?’ and the wine would always win. Even if I was on the wagon at the time, as soon as I had one of these moments I would give in to it and go get drunk. I have since named these few seconds of internal conversation, a debate between the good and the bad, the devil and the angel, as ‘Fuck It Moments.’ And now that I am entering into my third calendar year of sobriety, I have developed an acute awareness of when I am suffering from such an attack on my state of mind and, where booze is concerned, I deal with it pretty well these days (if I do say so myself).

Fuck It Moments (FIMs?) do not just happen in relation to drink – I routinely experience FIMs when I am trying to lose weight, and this particular manifestation I have not mastered. Yet. My weight is hovering around the 140 pound mark, and my pre-baby weight was about 132 pounds, so I really want to drop that last half a stone. I start off each morning with porridge, low fat almond milk as a substitute for cows’, some vitamins, juice, all going great. Feeling a little peckish around mid-morning but stave off the hunger pangs with a small banana and a glass of hot water with lemon. Oh, so virtuous, smug and on the way to thin again. Until lunchtime, when, overwhelmed by hunger, I scoff a sandwich, apple, yoghurt, and three (count them, three!) chocolate biscuits. Oh god. I want to rewind, I feel a bit sick, I am thoroughly annoyed with myself.

What got me there? What led me to eat three chocolate biscuits? A colossal FIM, that’s what. I opened the biscuit barrel, I stared down into the shiny wrappers, I knew that in that selection of bad boys lay a few thousand calories just waiting to latch on to my hips, and after due consideration, I cast aside the lid, stuck my hand in, grabbed three and said an almighty Fuck It.

Such wayward behaviour is not going to lead me down the path of slimness, back to my size 10 jeans and the gorgeous dress I bought just a couple of weeks before I discovered I was pregnant and have only worn once. I know this, and I also knew, back in the day, that every time I cracked open a bottle of wine, I was heading for misery – maybe not on that night, but on a night to come for sure if I carried on. But I did it anyway, and continued to do so until I hit a large enough, nasty enough, frightening enough rock bottom, for me to successfully eliminate those alcohol FIMs from my life for good.

Now I need to do the same for the biscuit tin FIMs. And I don’t really want to hit three hundred pounds before I am so full of self-disgust that I never want to taste the sickly sweetness of chocolate ever again; I’d rather banish my biscuit FIMs quite a long way off that point.

More self discovery, more alternative coping strategies, more soul searching…here we go again.

Say goodbye to the muffin top.

What a difference a day makes. I’ve spent the last couple of days feeling pretty flat with regards to keeping fit (I just wrote fat there by mistake – how telling!) and shifting this last stone of baby weight. I signed up for a 10k race which takes place on December 2nd, and I am starting to worry slightly that I may not be able to complete it, never mind improve on my PB (which was achieved approximately 10 years ago). None of this was making me feel particularly positive. Oh yes, to disconcert the healthy-lifestyle apple cart further, I seem to have gradually upped my biscuit and chocolate munching once again – this week it’s been close to the epic pregnancy portions, which is never going to make me happy. Or thin.

Not rocket science…these things have been maintaining my muffin top.

But this morning as I lay in bed at 6am with Lily gurgling next to me, I began to think about will power and positive mental attitude – how I have managed to successfully transform myself from heavy binge-drinking, manic depressive, bipolar-esque boozer, to calm, happy, level-headed person who is much nicer to be around (I hope). I didn’t switch from one persona to the other by accident, or with no effort. I did it by altering my state of mind.

Prior to giving up alcohol for good, I regularly knocked it on the head for short periods of, say, six weeks or three months. I would spend the entire duration of my wagon rides miserable as sin, drooling whenever I thought of wine. At the end of these aeons of alcohol deprivation, my spirits would lift once again as I embarked on a good old piss up by way of a reward for my abstinence. I’d give myself a good pat on the back too for not being an alcoholic – after all, if I could manage six weeks without booze then surely I couldn’t be dependent upon it?

In order to stop drinking for good and to be happy about it, I had to alter my thought processes. Without alcohol in my life, I wasn’t depriving myself of something desirable; I was giving myself the benefits of good health, happier state of mind and improved physical appearance. Without alcohol, I am able to go running whenever I want, I don’t have to worry about what I said or did the night before – ever (that is so freeing), I never suffer from a furry tongue, bad breath or dried leather-handbag skin owing to dehydration, I have more money, my fears about dying prematurely have vanished, I no longer have panic attacks, my self-confidence has improved massively, I have tonnes more energy, and I don’t hate myself. Makes me wonder why the hell I ever drank in the first place!

So, back to my ponderings this morning – in order to get back in pre-pregnancy shape, I need to apply the same state of mind alteration to my cake-munching and fitness programme. I read an article yesterday about Alzheimer’s now being regarded as Type-3 diabetes, in that recent research suggests that it is brought on by eating too many sugary and processed foods. Cakes and biscuits are bad for us; they keep us from reaching our desired weight loss goals, they’re bad for our teeth, they provide absolutely no nutritional benefit whatsoever and they cost money that could be spent on better things. Now they may even be responsible for the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. I want to lose a stone and I want to be able to run a good time when I take part in the 10k in December. Cakes ain’t gonna help me do either.

So, with cakes out of the window and a new, more positive state of mind in place, I did 100 crunches followed by a 1 minute plank this morning in my PJ’s, and I am going to take the dog for a 5 mile run shortly. I skipped my usual cake at the café and I am planning on repeating my crunches/plank regime every day. Incidentally I have never followed a fitness regime for any length of time that specifically targets one area of the body, so I am intrigued to see how effective this will be. I am feeling much happier as a result of this mind change – it’s good to discover yet another positive from giving up the booze, which is that if I can get that shit out of my life, then I can pretty much achieve anything I want – happy days! (I’ll keep you posted re the six pack).