January 2, 2012 by Beth Hess
It started as a 1-month self-challenge. Then I got curious to see if I could make it 2. Around the end of March the idea of going a full year crossed my mind. And that became my goal.
And I did it.
One year. No chocolate. No cake. No cookies. No pie. No ice cream. No jelly beans. No candy. No sugared sodas. No cheesecake. No licking the bowl. No licking my fingers.
Here’s what I learned along the way.
- “No, Thank You” feels really, really good to say. Powerful. And not once in the whole year did anyone push me to reconsider. I didn’t have to explain my challenge or feel like I’d hurt a cook’s feelings. No, Thank you was all I needed.
- It helps to break a year into moment-by-moment choices. Think of going a WHOLE YEAR seemed pretty overwhelming, but when you say, “do you want that cookie? No, I don’t” and then repeat with each little decision, the year goes by pretty quickly. And by the summer, I knew there was no one sweet that was worth giving up more than 6 months of sugar sobriety for.
- Life is SO SWEET even without Sugar! The beach is just as beautiful without ice cream. Easter is wonderful without chocolate. Birthday strawberries are as good as any pie. A wedding is a BLAST even without cake (oh, but it smelled soooooo good!) Christmas spirit isn’t wrapped up in candy wrappers. And all those little moments – donuts in the break room, cookies at a picnic, candy on a road trip… honestly, I just didn’t miss them.
- It gets easier. And then it doesn’t. January was hard. I had to detox, retrain my brain, and build my No, Thank you muscles. But you get used to it. In fact, you start to look right past the sugar and you find other people don’t miss it that much either if you don’t serve dessert with dinner or keep ice cream in the freezer all summer long. And then you hit a wall and your body starts to taunt you, “Really? A year? And even if you did, then what? No chocolate for the rest of your life? Get real!” And for a while it’s just about marking days off the calendar until you can hit the finish line, except…
- There is no finish line. Here I am in 2012, and, frankly, I’m pretty nervous. Because in all the things I’ve learned about myself and sugar and choices and health and mental toughness over the year, I still haven’t learned to be “cured” of sugar. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if you handed me a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies right now, I wouldn’t stop until they were all gone. And if by some miracle, I ate only a bite, I would still feel like I’d cheated on myself and fallen off the wagon. It’s been a year, after all.
After a deep breath. And remembering that I have committed to FLOAT in 2012, I will go back to the beginning. One choice at a time. One opportunity at a time. For this particular thing … do I want it … will I REALLY enjoy it … is it worth it?
I would certainly guess that at some point in my life, I will eat sweets again. But my prayer is that I will never, EVER again confuse the sweetness on my tongue with the sweetness of my life.