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.