I’m back after 3 weeks, a gazillion cookies (and 6.4 pounds) later… #project135

Picture of Dr. Jen Kerns

Dr. Jen Kerns

Fascinating how my sugar-addicted brain decided that the holidays were the perfect excuse to eat All. The. Sugar. I followed my well worn habit pathway of eating in response to urges/desire rather than eating when physically hungry, and overeating to the point of feeling ill most days over the past week. It’s a vacation mindset that I get into where I think that eating sweets and drinking alcohol are such fun, feel-good activities that bolster my already happy mood and make everything better. It feels so indulgent and celebratory. And socially acceptable, especially over the holidays. But it really made me feel unwell.  My stomach felt bloated and my bathroom habits… umm… changed, I felt my heart literally beating out of my chest with sugar rushes, I felt fatigued and aches and slept poorly. Yet my primitive brain wanted to eat all the sugar/salt/fat it could get its grubby paws on because the scarcity mindset was at play. I knew it was making me sick and knew that with each cookie or slice of cake that I was feeding my ever-growing pyre of desire with more fuel; that I would stop after Christmas, going back to avoiding added sugar, withholding the fuel to my fire and letting the desire in my brain burn itself out. Knowing I would stop led me to go nuts while I “still could,” the classic response to feeling scarcity. The reason why people were hoarding toilet paper even if they had plenty: scarcity mentality. Well, knowing this didn’t change my behavior. I still wanted it, romanticized the sweets, the temporary high I got as my tastebuds delighted in the first few bites. As a result, my weight this morning on the day after Christmas is up a full 6.4 pounds from my lowest weight just before Thanksgiving.

This morning I woke up actually feeling relieved that I am not going to choose to eat sugar today. True relief. Isn’t that weird? I guess that’s how addicts feel, as if they’re not in control of their behavior and it feels like a relief to be away from it. But truly, I was in control of my behavior the whole time. I was just choosing to overeat.

What I’ve been preaching, trying to work on myself, over the past 9 months is the deconditioning of these urges, uncoupling them from the reward of food. I truly believe that mindfulness and surfing the urges – noticing an urge to eat something and then just letting that uncomfortable restless feeling, that pull to go get the food, sit in my body without eating to make it go away – is they key to developing freedom around food. And it takes practice. I’ve done it a few times, but truly have been impulsive about doing whatever I have the urge to do in that vast majority of situations, from eating a cookie to drinking a cocktail to shopping online to watching reruns of Survivor instead of writing my grand rounds lecture. Urges are leading me to fail at achieving my goals. And I want so badly to overcome urges, to be able to be around food and not really notice it. It takes commitment and it takes practice. A 40 year old habit of eating in response to an urge doesn’t just disappear. I have to know and accept this deep within my psyche, which wants me to hurry up and get over it yesterday. But I can’t just get over it that quickly, I have to work at it. And that work begins anew today. I couldn’t wait for a New Year’s resolution — I was feeling too sick on sugar. December 26 is my recommitment date. Practice makes perfect, and I can guarantee I’ll have lots of practice feeling cravings and urges in the coming days as I deny myself the sugar I’ve become so accustomed to. It’s hard work sitting with emotional discomfort, but I can do hard things. Bring it.


Project 135 stats:

Starting weight: 159.6
Week 1: 157.2
Week 2: 155.6
Week 3: 155.4
Week 4: 153.8
Week 5: 151.0
Week 6: 152.8
Week 7: ? (Dad’s death)
Week 8: 150.8
Week 9: 152.6
Week 10: 154.2
Week 11: 152.6
Week 12: 150.8
Week 13: 150.6
Week 14: 151.6
Week 15: 152.4
Week 16: 152.4
Week 17: 155.2 (sugar binges)
Week 18: 154.4
Week 19: 153.8
Week 20: 151.2
Week 21: 150.2
Week 22: 150.6
Week 23: 151.0
Week 24: 150.6
Week 25: 146.6
Week 26: 148.2 (Halloween candy)
Week 27: 146.8
Week 28: 146.6
Week 29: 148.8 (Thanksgiving)
Week 30: 148.4
Week 31: 149.0
Week 32: 152.2
Week 33: 153.0 (Christmas)

Total weight loss: 6.6 pounds (4.1%)




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