It was 3 years ago this month that I finally lost the extra weight I had been carrying around. With Sam as my self-chosen Diet Coach Extraordinaire, I reached my Weight Watchers goal in January of 2014. I have managed to weigh-in at least once a month since then and have never had to pay. Lately, though, the scale has not been my friend.
Let me give a quick refresher as to how my sweet Sam came to tackle this hellish responsibility. We had launched a ttwd relationship some months before. I was seriously working to control my temper and bossiness. Sam and I were both new to this, but there were immediate improvements in both areas and a
closeness that we hadn't ever experienced in all our years of marriage. Another problem that was out of control, though, was my poor eating habits. For a very long time I had professed a desire to lose weight, and I went to the meetings for years. But week after week and month after month, I alternated between staying in the same place on the scale and gaining a few pounds. I paid and paid and paid with very little to show for it.
Finally, one winter night after attending a WW meeting, I burst into tears when I got home. I was so disappointed in myself and felt like a stupid failure. Why couldn't I do this? Sam was sweet and very concerned. He hugged me and asked if there was something he could do - "Anything," he said. Well, then and there it hit me. If ttwd was helping us both in so many other ways, why couldn't it help me with the weight issue?
A few days later, I brought it up to him, and he flatly refused. He told me I was always perfect in his eyes, always beautiful, but I never felt that way. It took a while, but he finally conceded to the idea of helping me to eat sensible, healthy foods. It really wasn't until I added up how much money I had wasted on dues, cookbooks, and clothes I couldn't wear that his eyes were opened. It was quite a sum! He heartily agreed this was a stupid way to spend money but had stipulations.
- If I wanted to quit WW at any time, that was fine with him.
- If I chose to attend, however, I better be doing the program.
- If I had to pay at WW, there would be a spanking when I got home. No discussion.
- Once I got to goal, the same rules applied.
- There would be special allowances made when we planned for them together.
After a great weigh-in, we would sit together and look at my record book. Lots of praise and I felt so proud of myself! As a Lifetime member, I only have to weigh-in once a month. Believe me, I usually make sure I do not even get close to the weight where I would have to pay. Well, usually.
Holidays and vacations are the hardest, of course. One can develop an attitude like "I'll worry about it tomorrow" or "when we get home" or "it only comes once a year." Sam usually helps me a lot through the Christmas season. I check in often, and we talk about
where I will splurge and when I will stop. That didn't happen this year. Outside influences and family responsibilities seemed to play havoc with any quality alone time. We rarely talked about anything except to commiserate about how much we had to do. And I just ate Christmas junk instead of cooking healthy meals. In theory, all the baked goods were for my family.
Anyway, by the time the damage was done, I had developed a full blown sugar addiction again and gained 5 pounds just like in days of old. I don't know if any of you have ever felt this way, but it is sometimes so much better if I never even start with sugar. Maybe there are people who can just have one cookie, but I am hardly ever able to do that. It feels like I just totally lose control. Just one more and just one more and just one more and then "Holy Shit! What the hell did I do?"
In my current work I have cause to read a lot of material pertaining to research studies, especially those studies that employ MRIs in an effort to prove a medical hypothesis. I remembered one conducted at Princeton University about the effects of sugar and the possibility that is was truly as addictive as certain abused drugs - cocaine in particular.
"Sugar is noteworthy as a substance that releases opioids and dopamine and thus might be expected to have addictive potential....Four components of addiction are analyzed. 'Bingeing', 'withdrawal', 'craving' and cross sensitization.....These behaviors are then related to neurochemical changes in the brain that also occur with addictive drugs."
"We used the 'deprivation effect' paradigm to investigate consumption of sugar after abstinence in rats that had been bingeing on sugar. Following 12 hours of daily access to sugar, rats press for 123% more sugar in a test after 2 weeks of abstinence than they ever did before. A group with 30 minutes of daily access to sugar did not show the effect."
OK, basically that boils down to the more sugar you eat, the more sugar you crave. Now, granted, this particular study used lab rats simply because you can control the external stimuli much better in a laboratory setting, but it has also been studied in humans extensively.
"When we eat foods that contain a lot of sugar, a massive amount of dopamine is released in .... the brain. When we eat these foods often and in large amounts, the dopamine receptors start to down-regulate. This means that the next time we eat these foods, their effect is blunted. We will need more junk food next time we eat in order to get the same level of reward. Sugar and other junk foods, due to their powerful effect on the reward centers of the brain, function similarly to drugs of abuse like cocaine....."
So let's get back to Ella and Sam. Without both the positive and negative reinforcement my coach usually gives me, it was too easy for me to fall from grace. When Sam and I finally talked, this little lab rat caught some major negative consequences for hitting that sugar lever at about 123% of what she should have. These spankings are never pleasant. No, not one bit, at least until we get to the part with the hugs and encouragement. I much prefer the times when I sit on Sam's lap and we look at my WW record book. When I feel proud and I know Sam is, too, I positively beam. Physically, I feel better with energy and stamina for what I want to do in my life.
You do not live to eat.
You eat to live.
I should have this on the DropDown Menu of my life.
There will be readers that will shake their heads about why a grown woman cannot handle her own self control, and I don't really know why either. This just works for me. Healthy eating and being happy with myself are just the rewards at the end of the maze. It doesn't mean I will never fall again. I know I will. It just means Sam is always there to pick me up.
"Thanks, Coach. I love you so much."