Get A Christmas Action Plan Together!

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I know it’s only November but I’ve already had several emails from people worrying about those dreaded festivities lying just around the corner. Time does have a terrible habit of running away with itself so I know it’ll feel like Christmas is upon us in just a matter of minutes.

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In anticipation of the worrying I know lots of people will be doing in the coming weeks, here’s my guide to making the festive season a lovely experience that will definitely NOT derail your alcohol-free intentions…

  1. If you convince yourself that alcohol doth make Christmas special and magical, I guarantee you’ll spend the whole of the holidays feeling like you’re missing out. Booze is not a good thing when you can’t moderate the amount you drink. It makes you argue with people, fall asleep on the settee drooling, make an arse of yourself at the work Xmas do, have the hangover from hell on Christmas morning (making present opening and cooking dinner truly horrendous experiences that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy), and adds countless calories to your already wildly-exaggerated daily intake. So remember – you’re not missing out on anything by not drinking!
  2. Get organised with the whole festive shebang – and make the organising a thing to enjoy! I’m never one to pass up any opportunity to write lists and plan stuff so perhaps I’m slightly biased with this one, but hear me out. If you aren’t organised, things become super stressful, right? And when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to want a drink. So it makes sense to start shopping early, work out your budget, write Christmas card and pressie lists, and put together a theme for your decorations and tree. The earlier you start with this, the better you will feel. Plus, it has the added bonus of keeping you busy when otherwise you might be thinking about booze.
  3. Buy a nice outfit. Have your hair done. Get a new lipstick. Focus a bit of energy and thought into looking and feeling glamorous during the Crimbo period. You’ll feel amazing, get loads of compliments (thus boosting your self-esteem and confidence), and it’ll help get you into the celebration mood.
  4. Spend a couple of hours before the holidays start making and testing out some mocktails. Make sure you have all the ingredients in ready for Christmas, and enjoy drinking your special creation on the day. Nothing will make you feel flatter than drinking water with your Crimbo dinner.
  5. Be creative. When I drank, I never really did much creative but when I stopped, I found that I LOVED making things. Whether it’s baking or conjuring up some homemade Christmas decorations with the kids, being creative is a brilliant way of staying mindful and not letting your brain run away with anxieties and worrying about booze and how you’ll manage to stay sober.
  6. Look after yourself REALLY well. Get as much sleep as you can, eat as healthily as you can, get lots of exercise, meditate, and spend time alone rejuvenating and winding down. This could be in the bath with candles and some luxury smellies, going for a run or listening to music, wrapping up and going on a gorgeous country walk, or whatever else takes your fancy. Just make sure you take care of YOU this Christmas. Because when YOU are in tiptop condition, everything else becomes so much easier to manage. I’m also a fan of buying yourself a few presents alongside those you’re choosing for loved ones…
  7. Last one – remember what Christmas is. And what it is not. It’s a holiday, lovely downtime for spending quality time with family and friends (this is my definition because I’m not religious, but if you are a Christian then it’s all about celebrating that – either way, it ain’t about booze). In the run up to Christmas, focus your thinking, whenever you get a quiet moment, on what Christmas means to you – really zoom in on what you want it to be, for you and those around you. Give it a new meaning, whatever works best for you.

When you apply all of the above, it should be entirely possible to start making new, much happier festive memories! Wishing you a very happy time this Christmas. Lucy xx

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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.

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 🙂