Hello, my name is Crystal, and I am a sugar addict. Not just a have-a-little-sugar-in-my-morning-coffee consumer but a serious powdered-sugar-ring-around-my-mouth addict. And I need help.
I love sugar in all of its many wonderful forms: I love to sprinkle the crystallized granules on hot cereals and oatmeal and watch it dissolve in cumulous cloudy swirls in my coffee. It blankets the tops of brownies and muffins in a freshly-fallen snow tribute, completing them as it comforts me. I'm addicted to the smell of it caramelized with butter in a saucepan, to the sound of the soft thud of a brown sugar sandcastle when I'm baking and to the sweet, sticky taste of candies dissolving on my tongue. I love the anticipation of the first taste, the sinful, decadent delight of savoring sugar's sweetness in my mouth and the warmth that fills my body as I bask in my sugar-induced coma. I dream of Willy Wonka-esque Chocolate Factory worlds complete with talking Gummy Bears as my friends.
So, if my love for sugar is so great, and it gives me such immense pleasure why would I need to end this relationship? Well, as I've mentioned in previous blog posts, a couple of years ago, I lost 40 pounds and started running. I was able to keep it off for a year and a half, but slowly, by small increments measured in Jolly Ranchers, Hershey Kisses and Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches, my jeans are getting tighter and a white pastry dough roll is rising out of my waistband. It is time to cut back and restore balance to my diet before I start dressing in more layers, wearing higher waist bands and accessorizing like a jewelry consultant.
Sure, this sounds easy enough, right? Just lay off the sweets and the problem is solved. Ha! If only it was so easy for this sugar addict, I would be walking around so skinny that people would drop coins in my Starbucks cup so that I could buy food to eat. (I would responsibly donate them, of course!) To truly understand the extent of my addiction, I should probably share a typical day and my consumption:
6:00 Wake up, very grumpy. (So grumpy that my husband bolts from our bed and hides in the bathroom until I've had a cup of coffee.) I move to the other side of the bed, reach over to the nightstand, open the drawer and suck on one of the jolly ranchers hidden inside while I check my facebook page from my smart phone.
6:30 Finally downstairs, I drink my coffee loaded with sweetened creamer, eat my sugared, flavored instant oatmeal with dried fruit and added brown sugar sprinkled on top and read the paper. Current events trigger my anxiety, so I grab a Hershey Kiss or five (hidden at the bottom of the napkin basket) to eat until I can breathe again.
8:20 The kids finally leave for school. I celebrate with another Hershey Kiss or five before I work out, shower and begin my day.
11:15 Have lunch with my crew of kindergartners. I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, some dairy and grains to model good eating habits for the kids. While they play or make crafts, I surreptitiously pop Gummy Bears from the computer desk drawer. My breath smells delightfully fruity all afternoon. I organize an activity or outing with the children and sneak an assortment of Butterscotch candies and Starlight mints from my purse or pockets.
2:00 I enjoy my afternoon cup of coffee, heavy on the flavored creamer.
3:30 The older kids arrive home from school, ravenously attacking our snack cabinet. I choose reduced-fat flavorless microwave popcorn and an orange to model healthy snack choices for the children, while I sneak Junior Mints and Raisinets from the dining room buffet cabinet.
5:00 I make our wonderfully nutritious meal with two vegetables, lean protein and a whole grain. I, hypocritically, deny my children dessert with a sing-songy "only on holidays." I wash the dishes, happily munching on a bowl of sugary cereal, preferably Fruit Loops.
8:00 I finish my day, curled up in bed, watching television and sucking on a Tootsie Pop.
It really is no surprise that the pounds have started creeping back on, especially considering the fact that my blood could probably be used as the newest "organic" sweetener. (I should probably approach Whole Foods about that as a future income source--all natural sweetener: made for humans by humans!) Every morning and evening for the last two years, I have gingerly stepped onto a scale, one foot at a time, so as not to startle her with my impact.
When my scale first started registering a weight gain, I was in denial: I would readjust the scale and move her into another room, change her position, step on and off and on and off and change her batteries. Finally, I accepted that initial five pounds gain. I justified each pound like a lawyer begging a jury for his client. The five pounds would come off without any effort, I reasoned.
Suddenly, the scale's numbers were brighter and I could swear that she actually groaned in disgust at my lack of self-control when the scale proclaimed that I had gained another five pounds, 10 pounds total! In denial, I yelled at the scale, shook her, and convinced that the damn thing was broken, I went and bought a new scale. However, the new scale was clearly a part of the massive scale conspiracy because it flashed numbers at me that I hadn't seen in years. I changed the batteries. Several times.
I couldn't deny the truth any more: I had gained back ten pounds! Of course, I blamed the kids. So what if I'm the parent and the one in charge, I just couldn't resist being the neighborhood mom with great snacks. It felt so great to have a house stocked full of kiddie crack (junk food and candy) and have all the kids want to spend time hanging out here. I easily justified that the treats were only used for special occasions, sleep-overs and play dates and that they burned off all of those calories riding bikes, playing at the playground and running around like wild maniacs in my house. I just didn't realize my own lack of self-control. I started stuffing my face with the crap and impulse eating again.
And, so, here I am: 10 pounds heavier and jonesing for my next sugary score. I'm a fraud, always pushing my super-healthy lifestyle with cheeks full of hard candy goodness. I've probably got urine so sweet it could be served in a fast food cup with a straw. I've heard that the first step is admitting that you have a problem: My name is Crystal and I am a sugar addict. Now, I've just gotta suck it up, practice what I preach and change. If only it was as easy as the clichés I use to describe the process. Spring is approaching, and I'm finally ready!