Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sugar Freedom: You Don't Have To Eat The Cake.

Lady Liberty says: Scroll down if you want to see the video.
Happy Fourth of July everyone.  Today we celebrate Independence Day, and the birth of a nation built on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

I like to say that fitness is freedom.  It allows us to pursue our dreams with energy and enthusiasm.  But today, we face all kinds of challenges to our fit intentions.

It used to be that most forms of fun and entertainment involved movement of some kind.  Playing sports, dancing, making music: they all involve movement, and even going out to see a movie or play involved effort in getting ready and going to the theatre.

Now our entertainment is streamed to us effortlessly at the touch of a button or key.  We react to the idea of dealing with traffic, parking, and other people by saying, "Oh let's just stay home."  When we do rouse ourselves to get out into the world for parties and celebrations, too often what draws us is the anticipation of sugary indulgent foods.

For example, last week I attended a birthday party, and the cake turned out to be a masterpiece of color and decoration celebrating the Birthday Girl.  Once the cake was cut it looked even better if that's possible, as the yummy chocolate inside was revealed.  Now, I've known for years that eating sugary cakes and treats causes a special uncontrollable madness in my mind and body, but in spite of that I sometimes still respond to signals that tell me it's rude to refuse the cake.

Last year, I was listening to a podcast by a prominent fitness expert who was laughing with his guest and saying,

 "You have to eat the cake (In this case a wedding cake) you can't be all stuck up and holier than thou and refuse."

Have to? Have to?  Would you tell someone with an alcohol addiction that they have to drink the champagne at that wedding?  Apparently some fitness experts, often those who have never been overweight or felt the terrible compulsion to overeat sugars and starches, think that eating these items is some kind of social obligation that can't be refused.

In the past I've listened to these voices, usually because deep down I wanted permission to indulge.  Now, as I have finally returned to my goal weight range after two years of intense struggle, I see that it is time to give myself permission to refuse foods that hurt me.

By the way, I didn't eat the cake at that birthday party.  I didn't have to, in part because of the wonderful foods served by the very considerate hostess.  These was a lovely tray of fresh fruit, vegetables, salad, and organic tri-tip as well, so I certainly didn't have to go hungry.

But here's the best part:  the young woman who made the cake, who formerly baked wedding cakes professionally, didn't have any either!  It turns out that eating sugar and flour gives her serious joint pain.  So the truth is that  it's not holier than thou to step away from the cake- especially if the chef doesn't eat it either!

So I wish you all independence from other people's expectations today.  Act in a way that is most likely to fulfill your dreams.  Enjoy friends, family, fireworks, and finery of red, white, and blue.  If holiday treats are truly what you desire and they bring you pleasure, enjoy them to the fullest, but in the spirit of Liberty, you don't have to eat the cake.