A good friend of mine just sent me a message on Facebook, telling me he is looking forward to reading more about my weight loss, which I realized I have spoken about too infrequently in this blog to this moment. This friend described his struggles with food. The biggest thing I can offer is empathy -- I know how hard it is to stay away from the trigger foods, the snacks we love so much, which sabotage our attempts to improve our fitness. I know how hard staying away from those trigger foods for even one day can be.
For me, I had to make the decision -- a very difficult decision it was, too -- to abstain from certain foods. This meant giving certain things up. For instance, when I was in New Orleans -- a stop I will describe shortly in my blog -- I was told I had to have a beignet before I left the city. Well, sweets are one food that, once I start, I can never seem to give up again. So I had to leave a city without having one of its staple foods, one I might normally have gobbled up. How was I able to do it, and, more importantly, how does this fit into my overall abstinence from sweets?
First off, I try to focus not on what I have to "give up," but what I have gained from my abstinence. I am fifteen months removed from my last consumption of sweets -- I feel wonderful that I haven't needed them to survive the stress that has resulted in that time, and believe me, there has been some pretty heavy stress! I lost my Mother when I was in New Orleans, but I didn't lose my abstinence. She would never have wanted me to do that. She would have told me that she is dead whether I eat sweets or not, but I can be good to myself by not eating. This is without mentioning the feelings of pride I have when I look in the mirror, and the extra activities, such as skiing, in which I can now engage more safely.
The second thing I have learned in the time that I have been abstinent is that food was a substitution, an escape from painful realities, and an attempt to fill voids of reality with food. I needed something else to fill that void. I knew I couldn't do it alone, and I made sure to develop a support system that I can utilize in times of need. As my abstinence lengthens, I often find that the habits of the past fifteen months take over, and I naturally avoid the trigger foods. But I have to remind myself that the abstinence is worth it, and my friends are often a great help in this regard. It is my hope that the friend who triggered me to write this entry will utilize speaking to me as a resource to assist him in his battles with food -- I will be there for him, and he knows who he is.