Accepting Abstinence

As I look back on the past 49 years of my life, the happiest times, and the times when I made a difference, were all during periods of abstinence.

What do I mean by abstinence?  Well, for me, it means that I don’t drink alcohol, and I don’t eat my trigger foods.

I gave up drinking for the first time when I was a senior in college.  What a wonderful decision that was.  My dear friend and room-mate Mary Louise joined me in that choice, and the parties and adventures of senior year were so much fun because we actually remembered them, and we didn’t have hangovers the next day.

It was 1986, and that was also the first time gave up sugar by following the Diet Center program.  It sure worked, but the fat and calories in that plan were so low that every week or so I would break down and binge.  How low?  The plan had a total of 1 tablespoon of fat at 950 calories for the entire day.  Yikes.

About 2 weeks ago, we had to have our beloved Shepherd/Queensland heeler mix Tippy put to sleep due to the pain and frailty of old age.  I didn’t realize how heartbreaking losing my dear shadow would be, and I used the pain as an excuse to start drinking wine again.  The effect of the wine opened the door to my trigger foods, and now I sit here and write this feeling like all of the wonderful physical accomplishments of the past 6 weeks have come undone.

I know this isn’t really true.  I’ve poured out the wine, and I’ve created my meal plan for the day. I know that we learn from our mistakes.  As a matter of fact, the entire Sugar Freedom program is a result of writing down what I’ve learned from my mistakes, and from my victories and those of my students.

For me, when it comes to alcohol and sugar, none is vastly better and easier than some.

The key to living this way is filling your life with things that are more fulfilling than your trigger foods and drinks.  Faith, family, fun, community, your work, and your passions will have room to grow when you let go of the foods and behaviors that are holding you back.

Every morning I find it best to sit quietly and form a plan for staying on the road to happiness, health, and productivity.  I started doing this back in 2008, and although this practice doesn’t always save me from myself, it has given me that awareness of the difference between good days, and days that hurt.  Good days leave alcohol, sugar, and grains out, and let life and action in.

I miss Tippy, but that’s not a reason to hurt myself more with wine and junk food.  Besides, I know that there is a dog out there for me and my family, and I need to keep my eyes open so that I won’t miss him- or her.

Tippy porch


March Forth!

UnknownThis is one of my favorite days of the year.

Here in the Sierra Foothills, the daffodils are blooming, and we’re so grateful for the rain, and the snow that has finally come to the mountains this year.

Yes, it can be windy, wet, and cold this time of year, but green buds hint at spring, and the time to shed our winter coats.  This year, March 4th is also Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the day before the start of 40 days of lent.  These coming 40 days are very important for me too, as my 50th birthday comes just 9 days after Easter this year.

50 is an important milestone for all of us.  Who doesn’t assess health, family, work, and relationships at age 50?  For me, the message is of 50 is that The Time Is Now.

It’s time to be more than an apprentice or a journeyman in my life.  It’s time to become a master at what I’ve chosen to do.  Is it time for you to do the same?

For those of us who are physically addicted to sugar, and the starches that break right down to sugar when we eat them, the cheating game has to stop so that we can reach our goals and achieve peace and balance with food.  I used to dream that reaching my goal weight would cause me to be spontaneously healed from my addiction.  It simply isn’t so.  I can eat well, feel satisfied, and get on with the life I love only when I abstain from sugar and grains.  In addition, I’m sad to have to admit that my last binge was triggered by…

A Banana.Unknown-1

This is how powerful my dopamine response to fructose is.  I eat one banana, and I must have sugar, sugar, sugar, until I’m so full that I can’t eat another bite.  Back in 2010, I was completely abstinent from sugar and grains for 9 months.  I dropped all of the fat I wanted, even to that point where people started asking me when I was going to stop losing weight.

“You’re so tiny, Your face is so thin, You’re going to disappear on us!”

Those are a small sample of the comments I heard.  Then, I threw my abstinence away when I read a diet book that told me I could eat whatever I wanted one day a week, and get leaner than ever.  One problem: the book was written by a young man who had never been overweight: let alone obese and addicted to sugar and flour!  Ever since that first Saturday binge, I have had to struggle again with the call of the sweets and starches that so many of my family members, friends, and colleagues can eat.  Now I have to accept that just because they can enjoy cheat meals and cheat days, I simply can’t if I want to stay healthy, happy, and sane.

As a personal trainer and fitness studio owner, I travel to conferences and maintain contacts with amazing fitness pros who have been training clients for so much longer than my two years.  They write and develop powerful programs that get great results for their clients, and the truth is that my research indicates that only 15% of the overweight population is genuinely addicted to food in the same way that I am.  How many of you who are reading this blog are addicted?  Please take the test that you will find at this website:  It will give you powerful insights in to the behavior that indicates food addiction.

If you don’t recognize yourself and your habits in this questionnaire, you may be free to enjoy a much broader menu of fat releasing foods than you find on Sugar Freedom.  That’s wonderful, and the truth is that those of us who are addicted have certainly had our share of sweets and starches, and it’s time to leave those goodies to somebody else who can handle them.

As for me, I have accepted that it’s time to go back to the peace and happiness I had before I let sugar back into my life.  So Sugar Freedom is no longer just for dieting, or getting ready for summer, or even for Lent.  It is a way of eating for life, one day at a time.

Now, the brief pleasure I might have found in snacks will be replaced by enjoying my family, friends, students, and the beauty of the coming Spring.



Trigger Free Chocolate!

Yes, We Can!
Yes, We Can!

I wanted to post about Taza Chocolate a while back, but I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a trigger food first.

I heard about it on Jimmy Moore’s podcast.  Now, Jimmy is coming out with a book on his experience with the Ketogenic diet soon, so his eating style is very low carb, high healthy fat, and moderate highest-quality protein.  I thought, if Jimmy Moore can eat it… maybe I can too.

The package you see here was an anniversary gift: Thanks Van!  I can attest that I’ve had this chocolate on 4 different occasions, and it did not trigger sugar or carb cravings.  I eat it with 1oz of raw almonds to move the sugar content of the entire snack down below the third ingredient.  Why?  For the purposes of Sugar Freedom, that seems to keep the sugar content low enough that it doesn’t trigger my overeating response.  By the way, Van got this for me locally at Nature’s Whole Food Depot, and you can also order it on Amazon.  There are many different flavors like vanilla, orange, and ginger.

If you want to try to incorporate organic, soy-free chocolate into your Sugar Freedom plan, I would suggest enjoying it once or twice a week after you’ve done the 3 Day Sugar Strike, and one week on the Sugar Freedom Diet.

If you try it, please let me know if you like it as much as I do, and if it leaves you trigger free as well.