Sunday, October 12, 2014

Canadian Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in Canada and abroad who celebrate. I know Americans hold off until November, but up North we figure, why wait? It's getting cold out so bring on the festive season!

It's typically a time of getting together with friends and family around a harvest table to give thanks for our many blessings and to celebrate the abundance of the season. We eat, we drink, we feel stuffed and then the guilt comes on. The trouser button gets undone, the pepto bismol gets uncorked, and for two or three months, we promise that we'll do better at the next party or next occasion.

I have a sugar addiction. A serious one. It's no secret. Other artists drink spirits or inject chemicals or sniff powders, I do none of the above. But offer to hook me up intravenously to a bag of chocolate and I'm in. I thought I had finally conquered this demon, but stepping onto the scale recently I came to the rude awakening that I have been in denial!

My sister's birthday is October 24th. But it is also a very significant day for me because sixteen years ago on her birthday I quit smoking. I thought perhaps I could gain some significant strength from the date and came up with a plan to give up sugar again. Once and for all this time, on her birthday this year. The plan was that I was going to take the next two weeks and hit all my favorite shops and restaurants to indulge in each and every one of my favorite sweets and desserts, saying a heartfelt goodbye to each one. Then I thought I could photograph the various delights and talk about my love and longing and blah blah blah! 

Really? Kill me now for being so sorry and pathetic. Omigod I think there is a far better use of my time and resources than a sugar pity party. I had had a lot of sugar yesterday and by last night I felt absolutely horrible. Head-ache, bloated, irritable. Gross. I was like that guy in the Monty Python sketch...

Wafer-thin mint, sir? Ugh, not another bite. I had to ask myself: "What the hell are you waiting for?" It's an addiction, there is always a reason, always an excuse, but none of them are good ones. I needed to quit and I needed to do it now. But having been down this particular steep and pot-hole ridden road before and failing so miserably, what is a girl to do? Sadly, there is no magic potion, no magic bullet or quick fix.

Like ripping off a band-aid. You've got to just do it. Plain and simple. No mess, no fuss. Simply quit. Full stop. That's how I gave up the smokes. It took a few tries but here I am smoke-free sixteen years later so...

I got to thinking about this exercise (game) I play when I am struggling with a problem. At the top of a clean sheet of paper I'll write: This is the condition I am currently struggling with.

I'll list the issue. 

Then below it I'll write: If this condition were to resolve itself right now, I would feel...

And write down all the feelings that might come with the resolution of the problem. So why not try this with my sugar addiction? Instead of thinking about all the types of sweets I love and will inevitably miss, or all the reasons it's hard to give them up, what might happen if I focused on how I'd feel if I suddenly wasn't addicted to sugar anymore?

It would look something like this:
This is the condition I am currently faced with.
I cannot control myself around sugar. It creates a hole that cannot be filled and I eat and eat and eat until I can literally make myself sick.

If this condition were to resolve itself right now I would feel:
Healthy, liberated, clear-minded, free, at ease, awake, slim, in control, happy, off the hook, unchained, well, uplifted and so on. 

I went on to fill a whole page, repeating the words of feelings that felt the most empowered or the strongest so that by the time I was done writing I actually started to believe that giving up sugar was a really good idea. That I could do it. Why not? I'd done it before and can still remember how great I felt. Not only is this possible I'm doing it and I am happy to be doing it.

So on this Thanksgiving weekend, a time of indulgence and feasting, allow me to introduce myself to you.

Hello, my name is Shannon and I am a choc-o-holic. I have one day!

Happy holidays everyone. I hope your weekend is filled with hope, happiness and good health.



  1. Happy Thanksgiving, Shan. OMG your sugar pity party sounds like SUCH a bad idea, although all this had me laughing so much - I could totally see myself doing something crazy like that. :) Thanks for the idea of writing down "This is the condition . . . " - I love this and am definitely going to try this myself. Congrats on your one day. . . . and I believe in you! I believe you can do anything you put your mind to! - Donna

    1. Thanks Donna, it really was the sugar monster talking. I have three days under my belt and so far so good. Writing down my feelings as though I had already conquered the demon is really helping. Hope it works out in some capacity for you too!

  2. Hope you're having a lovely Thanksgiving, I always get caught out with you having it in October!
    You're totally right though, there never is a right time, but there is always NOW, so just go for it, and so what if you fall off the sugar wagon again, you just get back on at the next opportunity and carry on. You don't have to be perfect all the time, especially with something that you really love. Be kind to yourself and allow a little here and there. I know you don't do half measures, but hey... what if you gave up 'all or nothing' on the 24th too?!
    That idea of writing down the problem and how you'd feel if you changed it, it's been proven that if you write something down every day for a month, it will get into your brain and stay there eventually... so you could get your pen & paper out and try that for a few days, see if anything sinks in?!

    1. Janice, it seems to be holding up really well so far. Writing it down seemed to cement my resolve. I cannot go part way. Each and every time I have tried I have had an epic fail. I think a sugar free way of life is the way forward for me.
      Thanks as always for your support!

  3. Have you ever looked at the sugar detox cookbooks? I know you're not a foodie -- but you do seem to enjoy the motivation and ideas that come from some good health books. I'd be interested to know...

    1. Hi. I do love me a good book! You're not wrong. I haven't read many of these types of books. I have tried online programs before where you eat sweet potato and beets and other veggies that are naturally sweet. I think for me, I have to just give it up like I gave up smoking, gave up meat. But would love to hear about any terrific recipes or authors that you've enjoyed. Thanks so much.

  4. I think that what you and of course I should conquer is the fact that one chocolate doesn't have to be 100. I think that's the key here. I can see how sugar can become an addiction, but I'm not sure this addiction compares to nicotine addiction... Maybe it does... but I compare it with what happens to a food addict. The food addict still needs the food... What we need to conquer here (and I say we because you know me and I'm so in the same place... and it's not sugar Shan it's food for me) is that we don't go through a whole box of cookies... I believe that that's doable, hard... mega hard...but doable.... It's good to leave the sugar out for an amount of time so that we stop our brain from wanting's the forever and ever that I am not quite sure of... I want to eliminate the urge or the failure to be able to stop after one.... It's funny that you quit smoking in 1998 because I did too!!! 7th of february 1998!!! how cool is that!!!!

    1. Oooooo Natalia, we are super cool for quitting smoking. Look at us go girl! I fully understand what you are saying, I do. But just when I thought I was doing what you said, having one cookie and not the whole box etc, I was lying to myself. I was having only one cookie, but then I'd go back a little later and a little later until I'd eaten half a dozen or more in the day.
      The best I have ever felt was when I had given up for good. I was seven months in when my father in law died and my mother in law made his favorite cookies and asked me to eat them for him. I haven't been able to be more than a week or two sugar-free since then and the entire time it's been a battle. I am tired of fighting.
      It feels like being under water and having an anchor chained around my foot and I am desperately trying to reach the surface to no avail. If I could just cut it loose, I'd float easily to the top and be able to breath. I'm on day three and breathing easy. Okay well not easy but you know what I mean.
      Being addicted to all food is another thing entirely. Of course we need to eat to live. But as we gave up smoking, if there is something truly unhealthy for us, it might be time to consider quitting that thing.

    2. You are so right, you have to do what makes you feel the healthiest and the happiest, you know that we are here to give you all the support you are really doing this!!!! I'm really proud of you!!!

    3. I hope you know that the support is reciprocated my friend. I'm here for you too girl!

  5. hello I love you bliss!!!

    You will always be a kick ass, beautiful person! DOing what you want to do! I got your back little girl!!

    1. You're the best ever sister in the world. Hope you got your voice back!

  6. Hi Shan,

    You are stronger than you give yourself credit for.
    I saw a really interesting practice of a NLP counsellor on youtube recently.
    Basically it was sort of like a mantra - very similar to your paper exercise.

    It was all about shifting perspective and perception of ourselves - and thus how we handle various situations.

    If we were using your sugar issue then the mantra would go something like this.

    'I am addicted to sugar - except when I'm not'…. 'I am addicted to sugar, - except when I'm not'.

    I used it on a few self beliefs I have - about myself, and its quite palpable the mental shift which takes place by admitting that you are not always that person - you are not always a sugar addict.
    I used it something like this 'I handle stress badly - except when I don't …

    Anyway just putting it out there xx

    1. I think it's a great suggestion, Sophie. Sounds like it's working out for you. It's really odd, as since I made the list, it's like a reset button and I've kind of gone back to when I'd quit sugar the last time. After a few months it was just normal for me to say no. Making the list shifted my mind somehow, and this time I haven't had hard cravings. It's great so far.

      So you handle stress badly and I am addicted to sugar.... except when we're not! And we're in great shape!

  7. I just love reading your posts...... they always make me smile! But mostly I love them for your honesty, it shines through and that, to me, is what makes it so appealing! I think mine should be, 'my name is hanna and I'm a bake-o-holic!!' Just love baking (and eating!!) it..........but I've made quite a few neighbours happy around here as I take over platefuls to them so that I don't eat it all :) Happy belated Thanksgiving by the way too x x

    1. Hanna, I adore you but am relieved that we are not neighbors. I believe we'd feed each others' addiction! You'd bake it and I'd eat it and we'd drink tea all day I'm sure. Ha ha.