Con trolls.

 I wrote recently that personifying my sugar addiction was a way for me to identify what was leading the craving or grazing movement in my journey. Sometimes it seems all about control. And when the sugar troll is controlling, it's not good. So yes. I am con troll. 

The pro and con stuff reminds me of something I wrote another time about progress. We're works in progress. Moving forward. Learning from past mistakes. Reaching with hope for better. And the opposite of that? Is it congress? 

Politics aside. (That's enough to cause multiple tremors. But perhaps I should leave the puns aside, too.) I had a conversation with someone who leads a wellness initiative for a major corporation. Like major, major. It was a big deal for little (yes, I'm under my goal weight) old (well, I'm over 50, but I don't see that as old) me to have the opportunity to speak with someone who could help my book reach a wider audience (and maybe help them be thinner). I enjoyed talking with this person and I think she enjoyed talking with me. She ended our conversation saying she's going to recommend my book to her book club. 

Back to the control issue. Part of my journey of learning to live with sugar addiction has been about control. Maybe most of it has been about control. I had people suggesting years ago that I might want to read books about sugar. But I didn't. Because maybe I wasn't ready. Or maybe I didn't want to feel like I was giving control of my problem to someone else. It's a convoluted thought from this angle (of healthier), but I think it was a real problem when sugar was in charge. (As I read what I just typed, I feel so thankful that I recognized my problem and saw a solution as I read the back cover of a book about sugar sensitivity when I was 49.)

I know I struggled with coaching calls associated with an insurance incentives program for two years when I was struggling with regaining control over sugar (and thus had a need to lose weight). I had issues with the coaches wanting to push their agendas of eat less; move more; and "how much are you going to lose before the next call" goals. I had a plan that I knew would work. Logging my food; jogging my moves; and blogging my moods. But that wasn't an acceptable plan because I was the only one who had proven it.

For some reason, the diet mode kicked in with these coaching calls and I proved again that diets don't work for me. Focus on numbers? I tend to lose control and gain weight after I've met a goal (yes, I got the incentive bonus first). Focus on words and thoughts and feeling better? My weight goes to healthy. Feeling good is the incentive. Go figure. I think my figure is better. Part of the value of my book is for people who don't struggle with these things to learn what it's like. 

My thought process may seem way out there, but I know my weigh ins are better when I use the tools that I've proven to work for me. Case in point, I regained control over sugar as I finished editing my book last year. My weigh in at the start of this year's incentive program was lower than my goal weight from the previous year. But it had ballooned after the final weigh in at the end of June. As I paid attention to where I'd been, what I'd done, and how I felt (my book), I continued to pay attention to how I was feeling and what I was eating. My mind and body felt healthy and my weight went to healthy as a side effect.

I had great difficulties with my thoughts when I was on Weight Watchers so many times in the past. I think I gave some kind of psychological power to the receptionist who weighed me as if I had to answer to her about the number on the scale. If the number was down and the reaction was good, there was cause to celebrate (usually with food). If the number was up with a sense of disapproval, there was cause for a pity party (usually with food).

I've learned that the number on the scale is just a tool of awareness. A snapshot in time. It doesn't define me. And it doesn't have to make me feel bad. What really makes me feel bad is poor food choices, not writing out my thoughts and not getting exercise. It's a big deal to be aware of this, accept it, and make adaptations.

I felt a twinge of difficulty at my last weigh in when I was getting my free Weight Watchers eTools for April. I knew I was under goal weight before I weighed in. I also knew I weighed a little more than the last month's weigh in. (You may be thinking I'm weigh in over my head on the psych stuff.) The very nice woman looked at my number and said, "Oh." (pause) "Your weight is up." (apologetic/worried/sad look) My response was, "I'm aware of that, but I'm also aware that I'm under my goal weight and I qualify for an eTools voucher." She quickly recovered her cheeriness and congratulated me on being at free lifetime for so long. I got my voucher and my weigh in booklet back. And headed to the meeting space. Not end of story.

This troll that is my sugar addiction can take the tiniest wedge and work it to distraction. It doesn't succeed much any more, but it still tries to knock me off and grab control over me again. About the same time, I had the bizarre thought that perhaps my book sales would take off and at some point make me a more public figure. I remember reading about some celebrity who had made some public announcement about being off sugar only to have pictures of her with a sugar and soda laden grocery cart plastered on some media outlet with a mocking caption of hypocrisy. "Oh!" says my troll. "You're running out of chances to buy and eat stuff without people noticing." How crazy is that? It's part of why I'm con trolls. I didn't buy sugary stuff, but I did find out that plain popcorn might as well be sugar for me. I ate too much and went for more. But now I'm processing it in my head. And now I'm aware. I care. And I'll beware! Addiction is no joke.

I had a mishap with a platelet donation (major bruising and nerve pain) that messed up my sleep and typing abilities. Actually it made a big impact on my exercise program, too. I found out that my tools of blogging and jogging make a huge difference in how much control I have over this persistent troll. If I'd continued to log my food, I might have done better. But it's over now. While I didn't cave into eating processed sugar or processed grains (they're pretty much sugar to my system), I found myself out to pasture and grazing more than once. Moo. 

The infiltration and subsequent nerve aggravation is pretty much resolved. I've gotten back into running and stretching. My typing has picked up again and I remember how valuable processed thoughts are when I'm trying to avoid processed food. If I can take the time to think past the eating, I'm better able to keep the eating to fueling. Not fooling myself into thinking the food will help me cope with something other than hunger. The mind can be a terrible thing to waist. Or, used with control, it can be a wonderful shrink. And the troll is not in charge.

Back to the weigh in last month and the weird feeling I had when the receptionist made her remarks. I think there was an element of doubt that I perceived (whether she meant it or not). And that was enough of a wedge for the troll to start working. I'm writing about it now because that's how my tools work. I'm processing the thoughts for progress. So they can't be congress.

I learned quite some time ago that it doesn't really help me to make up substitutions for things I stay away from because the substitutions can also make me feel lousy or out of control. Cookies and cakes and candies can be made without processed sugars and grains, but if I go overboard by eating too much of them, I'm really relinquishing my control. If I can't stop, it's not good for me.

I did figure out how to make a pretty great tasting single serving dark chocolate bark, though. Don't read the rest of this if you don't think you can handle it. It doesn't take very long to make. And it takes even less time to eat. I knew I was in trouble with it when I stopped waiting for it to solidify. This was during the time I couldn't type much and couldn't exercise much, though.

Perhaps that was why I let the troll in for a little while. I wasn't using all of my tools to stay in control. Fortunately for me, I realized I was going to the dogs (sorry dog lovers, it's a phrase). I craved feeling better more than the dark chocolate bark. Woof.

Just in case you're curious, though: 

Dark Chocolate Bark. (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free, but not Taste Free)

1 tsp coconut oil. 1 tsp almond butter or peanut butter. 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder. pinch of salt. drop of vanilla extract.

Optional add ins: teaspoons of unsweetened coconut flakes, raisins. chopped pecans or other nuts. 

Combine coconut oil and almond butter in small dish. Microwave until liquid (15 seconds).
Stir in remaining ingredients.
Place in muffin wrapper or on waxed paper lined plate.
Place in freezer for a few minutes to solidify.

This can be made without the raisins for a less sweet version. Larger quantities can be dangerous for sugar addicts. Full discosure: I never made it in this small of a batch. Measurements are estimated. Measurements will be larger if you eat too much.