Monday, November 5, 2012

Giving Up Artificial Sweetener

I'm not really going to eat him.
Yes, that's Giving Up Artificial Sweetener to be completely honest.

So how did my day without sugar, saccharine, aspartame, Splenda, and Xylitol go?  Well, it was interesting.  It was nothing like the horrible time I had trying to give up coffee a few weeks ago.  There wasn't any physical pain, but there was a sense of loneliness.

The day was a good one.  Van and I planted bulbs in the backyard: giant hyacinth, daffodils, crocuses, and mountain lilies that will color up our spring after the coming winter.  While I was busy, the lack of sweet drinks and sugar free gum weren't an issue at all.

When I wasn't busy, I could feel the empty space inside me, and that made me sad.  What's in that space that I have to cover up with the taste of fake sweetness?  It's mostly regret.  I regret that I haven't filed everything on my desk.  The roses need trimming, the bookshelves are a bit messy, my closet isn't that organized, there are water stains on the kitchen sink, there is dry cleaning in the back of my car.  My book isn't finished, that You Tube Video isn't up yet.  Do you see where this is going?

Take the sweetness out and the guilt rushes in.

What is the solution?  The solution is simple, but its execution is hard.  To the best of our ability, we can complete the tasks that  cause guilt.  When guilt is gone avoidance is no longer needed.  I eat, drink, shop, and surf in order to avoid the pull of my conscience.

Do I need to perfectly fulfill every chore to be free of guilt?  I sure hope not!  I have been listening to Brian Tracy's book, "Eat That Frog," on my iPod.  Mr. Tracy suggests many excellent ways to get things done.  The "Frog" represents the most odious task that the the reader (or listener) is putting off.  The idea is that once you eat the frog, everything you do after that is so much easier.

How do you eat your frog?  Here are some of Tracy's excellent ideas.

The "Salami" method- take the job one slice at a time, or the "Swiss Cheese Method" where you poke holes in the job by doing the parts you are most comfortable with first.  The simplest great suggestion in the book is to get everything you need to do down on paper.  I did that this morning, and my list isn't really that awful or overwhelming after all.  With my frogs down on paper I see that I can eat them one bite at a time.

Then, with nothing guilt producing to avoid, I can stop the avoidance behaviors like diet soda drinking, and nearly constant gum chewing.

Now to explain the emphasis on artificial in the title.

When I got up this morning I made my coffee and added a teaspoon of cream.  Honestly, when I drank it, it was just too bitter.  I added ten drops of stevia.  It's natural, and I'm not perfect.  The soda is gone, along with the gum, the sugar free jell-o, and the fake pancake syrup.  For now, I believe this is enough to ease my sweet-seeking work- avoiding behavior.

I will know for sure when I finish eating my frogs.