Day 10: Two voices

I confess, I don’t think I’m going to make it to 100 days.

Saying that goes against everything I know (and everything I teach) about developing the strength to break habits.

Rule 1 is, ‘You have to believe you can do it’.

I suppose that’s part of my problem. I believe I can. I just don’t want to. I’m not feeling committed to this goal the way I was committed to quitting booze and there’s a voice in my head saying, “you’re fine. You don’t have a problem.”

I remember in Claire Pooley’s book, “Sober Diaries”, she called that voice the Wine Witch. She whispers in your ear that all is well and there is no need to put yourself through this. It’s been such a long time since I went through the initial discomfort of quitting booze that I can’t quite remember if the desire to give up was as strong then as it is now.

The things is, technically I don’t have a problem. By average standards, I live a super healthy life. I start the day with fresh pressed vegetable juice, I exercise, I eat veg with every meal and I cook everything from scratch. Before starting this 100 day sugar-free quest, I ate sugar in moderation (until a month before the start of the 100 days and then I ate like there was no tomorrow!)

Before starting the 100 days, I thought I had a problem because I know sugar is basically the devil when it comes to nutrition. I know that living a truly healthy life means cutting it out entirely – along with all other processed foods. Now though, that somehow seems a bit fanatical.

I don’t want an entire life without sugar. When I did the 100 days without alcohol, my eventual goal was to develop the ability to drink in moderation. As it turned out, that took two years to accomplish and, even now, I have to be vigilant and careful. Yet, when it comes to sugar, I’m already there.

Haha! A little voice just piped up as I typed that. “No you’re not.”

I guess I’m not. If I was, I wouldn’t have felt the need to commit to these 100 days in the first place.

The mental processes that accompany habits are fascinating to me. When you give up something you’ve come to rely on, it feels like you become two people. In many ways, that’s exactly what’s happening. Although I prefer the “Chimp – Human” analogy (where your chimp is your unconscious, emotional brain and your human is you – the conscious, logical brain) rather than thinking of myself as “two people”.

My chimp is clearly upset about losing one of its comforts. It yells and has tantrums – “I don’t have a problem! I had it under control! You’ve created a problem where there wasn’t one!”. When that doesn’t work, it cajoles and whispers. “You don’t need to do this. You’re doing way better than most people. You’re already doing so many good things for your health.”

Writing this has helped me see that Claire Pooley’s Wine Witch and my chimp are one in the same and it seems you may have been hearing from my chimp at the start of this post!

I am back in charge and ready to keep going.

I think it might help to give my chimp an identity – a name, a face and a personality. It might be quite a fun way to separate her voice from my own in my head and make it easier to stick with the commitment I have made.

I made this commitment because I believed there was something I needed to change in my life, something I needed to learn and something I needed to prove to myself. Now that the weight of the challenge is clear, the easier thing to do would be to quit and my chimp / ‘personality-to-be-determined’ desperately wants me to quit. My job is to get stronger in the face of that doubt, stronger in the face of old patterns and stronger in my self-belief.

I believe that’s the best way for any of us to keep going. And that’s all we need to do. Keep going.

Photo by Thirdman from Pexels

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tim A. O'Connor says:

    I appreciate your article. I am diabetic. It’s amazing how many foods have sugar in it. When I first controlled by blood sugar with food, I came to understand that carbs turn to sugar, so I have to be careful eating too much bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta, etc. I control the “bad” sugar like a piece of candy and syrup by not eating it. It amazed me how high my blood sugar rises when I eat an extra roll with a large baked potato … it’s crazy because it stays in your system longer than bad sugar, like candy.

    My point is that there is good sugar, like carrots which have about 5 grams of sugar for a handful, and also fruits.

    For me, it’s getting used to a variety of fruits and foods that satisfy the need to eat a bad sugar product or sweets. I also found that diet sodas increase my desire to eat bad sugar. I have no idea why, but it is noticeable.

    Also, your head clears up when you decrease sugar intake. Your sleep will improve. It’s amazing how clear my thoughts have become since I reduced my total daily sugar intake to under 40 grams.

    Good luck and stay healthy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Big Happy Life says:

      Thanks so much for your comment Tim! It’s super helpful and informative and it’s great to think about sugars in two camps. I am still eating things like potatoes and bread but in small amounts. I plan to cut these things once I have broken the emotional link with “bad sugars”.
      I don’t completely understand the effects of sugar in the blood. I started researching it a while ago but became fanatical and obsessive so decided a staged approach would be better in order to change my habits in the long term.
      It’s great to hear that mental clarity is enhanced and sleep improves when sugar is removed. I found this when I did a cleanse a few years ago but because I cut absolutely everything except meat and veg, I didn’t know exactly what had caused the effect.
      You’ve got me thinking about whether or not to get a blood sugar monitor. Again, I’m concerned about becoming obsessive. Where food is concerned, I generally do better if I tread lightly and take small steps. Extreme measures and specific measurements can tip the balance and I always end up returning to the starting point. At least that’s been the pattern so far.
      Thanks again for your comment and insights. So helpful!

      Liked by 2 people

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