On July 24, 2015, I made a promise to myself. I made a promise of self-care. On that day, I also made a list of foods that I call “trigger foods,” which are foods that I overindulge in without control. I qualify as a food addict, and I decided to no longer let food control me.
However, one addicted to food cannot survive without their drug of choice, but I considered smokers who quit smoking by going cold turkey. Eliminating the drug seemed much more doable to me than trying to simply reduce through moderation.
Yet, again, one cannot just stop eating, so, instead, I made a list of all the foods that I find control me, foods I fail to eat in moderation. (Well, I didn’t add healthy foods that I also tend to binge, such as watermelon. Yum…) My list included bread, baked goods, French fries, candy, ice cream and more.
I also added unhealthy foods that I knew I would substitute in for my banned foods even though I didn’t really love them, so pudding also went on the list. In the fall of 2014, I gave up chocolate promising to not eat it until I was under 200 pounds, because chocolate is my greatest and most beloved trigger food. But I made no other changes in my life, and I quickly began overindulging in caramel as a substitute, so by July of 2015, I knew I needed to be prepared for loopholes, because even though my decision and desire was for my long-term benefit, I am a sucker for instant gratification.
So the list was created. I followed it even when following Fit Girl’s Guide and Advocare systems, both of which I love. Fit Girl’s I love for the women who have supported me through the Instagram community (@fitgirlsguide) and subsequently the lovely ladies on @fitbabesunited. Advocare’s line of products work well for me, and its Spark drink for focused energy has long endeared itself to me. I followed the list even during my birthday, forgoing cake and ice cream. I even followed the list despite weeks and weeks of dreams of bread. Oh, how I love bread. Bread and cheese. Cheese was the only guilty pleasure I kept off the list. I understood my limitations. How could I make it without chocolate, bread, AND cheese?
Until a wedding in October 2016, I followed that list. I had lost nearly 55 pounds. Along the way, I began to be more active, completing 5Ks– and even one half marathon– and obsessing over my Fitbit. But the wedding came, and I thought I was in control. I thought I could handle eating unhealthily. So I broke my rules just for the wedding. Then I broke my rules for my time out of town. Then I broke the rules for weekends, but then weekends never ended, and I was back to my old reckless eating habits.
Fruitlessly, I announced I was going back on the list. It would last for a day or two, and then I would cave for a ridiculously convenient and stupid excuse. In the year that followed, I took care of myself less and less, which was unfortunate, because my professional life took a heavy hit and that hit changed the entire trajectory of my personal and professional life. By the end of 2017, I had gained back most of the weight I had lost.
Now that my life has stabilized and now that I’ve persevered through challenges, I’ve realized that I need to do more than survive. I need to thrive. “Thrive” is my word of 2018.
My health is a large part of that, so I made a resolution to ban trigger foods for 2018. I am not good at vague resolutions like, “Make healthy choices,” or ones which are hard to control like, “Lose 50 pounds.” I also struggle to follow ones in which require me to do something daily like, “Run 1 mile each day,” because it’s so easy to fail if I get hurt or sick. I’m better at taking something out than adding something in to my life. Besides, I know I can follow my list of banned foods for a year, since I’ve done it before.
However, this list has some added challenges. I’ve added cheese. I know, what was I thinking? Well, I am still allowed mozzarella cheese and goat cheese, which are both cheeses I’m not likely to binge eat. But otherwise, no cheese. It’s been six days and I already miss it.
In other news, my stomach feels better than it has in a long time and I am more energetic. The first three days were rough. Soon, I know it will get rough again when I begin dreaming of delectable baked goods.
I should probably credit Advocare too. I’m competing in the Advocare One/80 Transformation Challenge. It’s an 80 day challenge in which contestants use the Advocare system and make healthy lifestyle choices. I took my before photos on January 1. On January 2nd, I weighed myself, took my measurements, and began Day One of the 24 Day Challenge. At the end of 80 days, if I do well, I could potentially win $25,000. At the very least, I will be healthier.
Really though, that’s the ultimate goal: to enjoy a healthier life. It’s an important part of thriving, really.