It was a stressful game. I swear I’m a healthy person. But the world was at stake. Cheyne and Erica sat hunched over the game board. Viruses were spreading and the future was grim. They had been deliberating for ages over the correct strategy. Long enough for me to make some cookies. Bake the cookies. Offer them cookies. Eat the cookies.
All of them. They finally looked up and beheld an entirely different disaster. I had eaten every single one of the cookies. Guilty I explained, “This is a very stressful game!” Through our hilarious laughter and their bewildered stares, I decided in that moment to do Go Sugar Free.
Go Sugar Free is exactly the type of program my friends mock me for. An utterly restrictive, healthier than god health program designed to ween sugar* addicts off their drug of choice.
Cheyne and Erica could not deny the problem. I was one cookie away from an intervention. But the solution? Their advice: just stop after the first, second, heck I’ll give you the third cookie.
This sounded reasonable. So reasonable. Everything in moderation–that sounds so correct. But it just was not working for me.
So I enrolled in Go Sugar Free. I spent the next 66 days learning alongside others attempting to kick their sugar habit. After reading The Power of Habit, I knew that sugar was a deeply ingrained habit in my life.
Stressed out? Eat sugar. Tired? Eat sugar. Sad? Eat sugar. Worked hard today? You deserve sugar. Ate healthy today? You get sugar! Sick? I just want sugar.
The next 66 days I stared this habit in the face. With The Power of Habit ingrained in me and the guidance of this wonderful course, I mindfully replaced the reward sugar provided in each of those scenarios with something better for me.
Towards the end of the 66 days, I learned something about myself that was worth the whole price of the course:
I am a freedom in restriction person.
During my last week, we learned that there are generally two types of people: freedom in moderation and freedom in restriction. Some people find freedom by having a cookie now and again. I’ve never understood those people. I don’t want one cookie. I want all the cookies. If I can’t have all of them, I don’t want any of them.
If you’re a freedom in moderation person, I’m an alien to you and you can’t imagine how going completely without is better than having just a little. But if, like me, you are a freedom in restriction person, you get it completely.
I spent 29 years trying to curb my love for sugar by eating it in moderation. I never felt free.
Now I don’t eat sugar on a daily basis nor even a weekly basis. I’ll have it on special occasions because I’ve learned the price of eating sugar for me is wanting to eat more sugar. It’s a price I’m occasionally willing to pay to eat the things I love. But it takes waaaaay too much energy to actively choose several times a day to restrict myself. I prefer a habit of restriction and I’ve found other ways to enjoy life so that I don’t miss sugar.
So what’s the point? Go off of sugar and you’ll be free?
Far from it. Sugar was my thing. What’s yours? What do you want to be free from that is draining your energy, taking up your time and leading to unhealth? Now that you’ve got it, are you a freedom in moderation person or freedom in restriction? Do you know? Do you intentionally make choices based on this knowledge?
There’s no use fighting the way you are. Embrace it and use it to get free. The habitual restraints I’ve put in place around sugar have kept me happily sugar free since January. I don’t feel deprived.
Now that’s my kind of freedom. What’s yours?
Three questions to help you determine your kind of freedom:
- Does the idea of restricting yourself appeal to you or make you grumpy?
- When you experience small amounts of the thing in question, do you want more or are you satisfied?
- How much energy do you spend restricting yourself from the thing in question? Is it a small amount, or does it exhaust you?
*”Sugar free” in the course is something you define for yourself since the whole goal of the program is helping you make mindful, good choices about your health. For me this included cane sugar, sugar substitutes, fruit juice and the regular use of honey and maple syrup. For others it was a different list.