This morning I was listening to a video on Impact Theory with Marisa Peer talking about how the way we think about things determines how successful (or unsuccessful) we are in regard to things we want for ourselves. I have long known that finding the root cause of where the stories we tell ourselves come from and figuring out why we tell ourselves these things can help change the story but I never really put a lot of thought into it until I was listening to this discussion.
As some of you know, I haven’t had any Coke for almost a year now. New Year’s Eve 2018 I had my last Cocoa-Cola. I stopped cold turkey and in truth, haven’t had as hard a time giving it up as I thought I would. This entire year I have always said I would pick up a case of Mexican Coke from Costco and have it all day long New Year’s Eve again, and then be done for another year, and that has gotten me through going cold turkey for the full year. All in all, it hasn’t been that difficult, which totally surprised me.
However, when I think about giving up cake, cookies, donuts and excess sugar, which is the plan for 2020, I get upset. I get anxious, cranky and quite literally angry, even though I know it’s the best thing to do for my health.
This reaction made me wonder why I had no problem giving up Coke for a year, but I can’t seem to not stop eating <insert frosting laden cake product here>. Sugar is sugar…and I feel like I was WAY more addicted to Coke than to cake. So what’s the difference?
When I have heard people talking about finding the root of negative self-talk and facing it, I was skeptical. Like, “Ok weirdo, whatever. Something from when you were 7 isn’t making you eat the donut when you’re 52.” Yet, when I listened to what they were talking about, I could see a connection. So, following the logic that was being discussed, I went through the process of figuring out the outdated story & outdated language I was still telling myself, literally thinking it was going to turn out to be bullshit the entire time I was doing the exercise.
Yet, when I started to dig deeper and deeper and deeper, I suddenly realized that what they were saying was true.
When I was growing up, in our household, we didn’t have sugary snacks available to us. There weren’t cakes, or cookies, or pastries of any kind in the house. My mother was always heavy and ALWAYS on a diet. There were plenty of oranges, cans of tuna and melba toast because that was all she would eat. When we went grocery shopping, we got to pick Corn Flakes or Cheerios, there was never a box of sugary cereal allowed. The only time we got donuts or sweets was if she was on a binge and wanted something when we were with her, then we got donuts too.
I was always a big girl for my age. Always oversized no matter what. I was never allowed jeans or “cool clothes”, I had to wear polyester stretch pants because according to my mother, that’s all that would fit me (also, that’s all that SHE wore as well). I was always told, “You have such a pretty face if only you could lose weight”. And I was forced to diet constantly because she was.
Even when my parents owned a restaurant, and we would eat hamburgers and french fries and soda every night, still, it wasn’t me binge eating that, it was just what we had available because we would be at the shop until time for bed. But at the restaurant, we didn’t have pastries or donuts. It was soft-serve ice cream and we could eat that when we asked.
So how does all this roll into why I find it harder to give up cookies and cake and pastries you ask?
The answer I realized today is … Freedom.
In my mind, giving up desserts, treats, donuts, etc. meant I was giving up my freedom.
When I left home for college the single most defining moment of my life at that time was that I could go to the grocery store and buy ANYTHING I wanted, because I was an adult and no one controlled me anymore. I bought Little Debbie Snack Cakes, Fruit Loops and a double layer frosted birthday cake. I went home, sat in the middle of my living room watching TV eating it ALL.
When friends would come over, I had all the cool treats, snack cakes, sugar cereal, and cookies!!! Hell I put myself through college working at an ice cream store, I could get my sugar fix any time I wanted and NO ONE TOLD ME NO! To me, THIS was the ultimate freedom.
But until I worked my way back in this story, asking myself WHY this was so hard, it didn’t make sense to me.
Sugar is sugar is sugar. Yes, I am addicted to sugar but if I stopped Coke cold turkey, I should be able to do this.
But figuring out why I was SO resistant to doing this helped me realize that a lot of things are tied up in me eating cake. In past blogs I’ve even talked about the first work birthday party I went to after my gastric bypass, and instantly reaching for the big corner piece of cake with the most frosting because that is what I did…not thinking beforehand how horribly sick it would make me in one bite. I did it because cake gives me endorphins and makes me happy and…made me feel like an adult deep down inside my crazy brain.
In the past few months on my YouTube Channel and here on my blog, I have talked about “reducing my sugar intake” several times. But at the end of every month, I failed that goal because in truth, put a donut anywhere within my vicinity and I ate it. Thus, always failing but also not fully trying, if I am 100% truthful with myself.
Today has been the first time in a very long time that I am actually excited about not eating cake (and everything associated with dessert, excess sugar and the like). It’s also the first time I can say with 100% honesty that I will truly give this a real shot instead of trying to figure out a workaround or play “Let’s Make A Deal” with the fat girl in my head so she can still have some sort of cake-like substance.
Will it work? I have no fucking clue, but I can tell you the way I am thinking about, something has changed. That click has happened. Was it this whole ‘changing my story’ thing? I don’t know, and truthfully, I won’t know until this time next year.
What I do know is that it’s now become my 53rd Birthday Challenge for myself. I’ve succeeded in every birthday challenge I’ve ever started, so here’s hoping. Come December 14th, 2019 Cake and all its frosting delivery cousins are off the menu for a year.
Here’s to 2020 in all it’s cake-less glory!!!