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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Is Sugar Addiction for REAL?

This is a topic that I have discussed before but I feel I need to revisit it, as much for me as for you.
Is Sugar Addiction for Real?
In a word...YES!

As I have mentioned before, I am addicted to sugar and this is a battle that I have struggled with for a year.
Why only a year? Well, because it was only a year ago that I discovered this addiction.
I mean, how can you know your addicted to something if you have never been without it?

Before I go into this subject any further, let me first say that I am not throwing this word "addiction" around lightly. After discussing this with my husband and getting his encouragement, I am going to get a little personal here and give a little more information about me (and my family) because I really want you to understand where I am coming from.

So here it is, my husband is a recovering alcoholic (going on 2 1/2 years sober). I have been with my husband for 23 years and have known him since I was 14 years old and he was 15 years old. The point? I KNOW my husband. What I didn't know was that he was an alcoholic. How is that possible?
Because I didn't understand what addiction really meant.

When we were in college, we both partied with the best of them and he could drink anyone under a table and still appear "Sober". It seemed like a talent. People admired him for it. Then one day during his Freshman year, he woke up very, very sick from a night of heavy drinking, realized he had a problem and decided at the moment to stop drinking. Yep! Just like that...right?

This lasted a small period of time and gradually he began to drink again on occasion or socially but he never seemed to become drunk, so I never worried. Here is the thing though, alcohol didn't have control over me, so how could I possibly know what he was going through? In fact, if you had asked me then, I would have told you that he was a "cured" alcoholic.

I can tell you today, there is NO SUCH THING as a "cured alcoholic".

Here is what I didn't know. He was still an alcoholic and he was only able to "control" it because he managed to have a little bit of alcohol at least 3 times a week.

It all came to a head about 4 years ago when my mother-in-law suddenly passed away. It was awful and tragic and that night my husband and I cried and mourned for her over a 6-pack of beer for him and a pack of Jack Daniels Lynchburg Lemonade for me. It wasn't until about a week later when I came out of that sad "fog" that I realized my husband was still drinking a 6 pack every day.

It had begun. The seesaw had been tipped.

I will not get into what we went through that horrible year, because it is over and it's a place I do not want to revisit. I do, however, want to share with you what I learned and what he taught me during his recovery.
I learned that for 20 years (since he "quit" drinking in college) he had to make a conscious decision to NOT drink EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

I remember talking with the AA counselor one day and saying, "I don't get it. I drank just as much as he did in college. If I don't want another drink, I stop. I know when enough is enough. Why can I stop and he can't? Why would he continue to drink knowing that it was harming himself and tearing his family apart?"

Answer:-because he is addicted and I am not. PERIOD.

As a non-addict, this was very hard to wrap my head around. I just didn't understand.

So what does this have to do with Sugar Addiction? Stay with me.

A few weeks ago, Melissa Hartwig of Whole9 posted a blog regarding her own addiction in her blog, "Coming Clean". It was such an honest and open account of what she went through many years ago and how she is now using that experience in a positive way to help others with their food addictions. Particularly sugar and carbs.
This part really jumped out at me.

"Because theoretically, food addiction isn’t that different from drug addiction.
I’m not saying it’s the same, because technically, it’s not.  According to the The American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV, addiction is classified by three factors:
  1. Desire, even in the face of negative consequences
  2. Tolerance to the effect of the substance
  3. Withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped
Food – particularly sugar – clearly satisfies the first two conditions.  The jury is still out as to the third, and I’m simply not comfortable putting sugar or bread in the same category as heroin.
But the term is also applied to behaviors that are not substance-related, such as shopping, gambling or overeating. In this common usage, “addiction” describes a recurring compulsion to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences (as deemed by the user themselves) to their individual health, mental state, or social life."
Ok, so let's be honest. Sugar addiction will not rip a family apart. Sugar addiction will not cause you to go bankrupt or break someone's heart or steal. You don't get a DUI/DWI for having too many milkshakes. People won't really take you serious if you tell them your are addicted to sugar, and why not? What's the big deal anyway? Sugar can't hurt you...right?
Umm, have you heard of diabetes? How about this? "Refined sugar is notorious for causing increased inflammation in the body. Regular consumption of refined sugar can lead to chronic inflammation which can disrupt immune system functioning. Chronic inflammation is implicated in arthritis, some forms of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease among many other illnesses. Chronic inflammation has also been linked to a higher risk of depression and schizophrenia. Psychologists who have become aware of the recent research on sugar and mental illness have begun recommending sugar free diets to patients." Learn more:
I know all of these things. I even discuss with my athletes about how much better they will feel if they just eliminate the sugar out of their diets. I know because I have done the Whole30 twice in the past year. The last time I went 40 days and I felt amazing!! But then, I allow myself a cheat day, and then a cheat weekend and then, before I know it I have managed to explain to myself why I "deserve" to enjoy the bliss of sugar for the entire week.
Next thing I know, I am standing in front of a candy drawer hoping my husband doesn't come in and catch me sneaking a mini snickers.
I just didn't know what addiction really was and it took my husband who has been through his own program to point out to me what was going on. I will be honest. I was PISSED! I mean, how could he possibly compare my desire for chocolate to alcohol? And yet, here I was on the phone telling him to get twizzlers for our family movie night. "I thought you said no more sugar?," he asks. "Oh! I will start that next week. (enter excuse here). 
You see, I had no idea I was addicted to sugar. Do you know why? Because until I did the Whole30 I had never gone ONE day in my life without consuming some type of sugar. NOT ONE! Have you? Think about it. Yes, I may have gone a whole week without cookies, or cake, but how about ketchup? Sweetend tea? Salad Dressing? jelly? Soda?
If you have never gone without, how do you know what it is doing to you or how it makes you feel? 
So what is my point? I have a problem...sugar. And the conclusion is this. I have to take this not just "day by day" but "meal by meal". As a coach, it is a very hard thing to admit that you are owned by sugar and it makes me angry. By posting this, I hope that I am able to encourage you to tackle your addiction head on, whether it is sugar, over eating, shopping, ect. It may not be as serious as alcohol or heroine, but if it has control over you then it is something that you personally have to deal with every day. You deserve to be free from that.
I know this is something that I must conquer...and I will! 
As Melissa told me,  "You have to work your own program, and take it one day, one meal, one minute at a time." 
That is exactly what I intend to do.
This week's WOD
4 Rounds
20 Box (20") Step Ups holding 20lb dumbbells
30 sit ups
Run 400 meters

AMRAP 9 minutes
10 Romanian Dead lifts (65lbs)
10 Hand Release Push ups
Score: 11+3 (Holy Hamstrings!!!)

Strength Day
Climbing Squats (each set go up in weight)
Overhead Squats- 95lbs, 105lbs, 115lbs, 125lbs, 135lbs (NEW PR!!!)
Front Squats-140lbs, 145lbs, 150lbs, 150F, 150F (Suck at these! WHY?!?)
Back Squats- 155lbs, 165lbs, 175F, 175lbs, 185lbs

Tabata Box Jumps (7)
rest 1 minute
Tabata Situps (10)
rest 1 minute
Tabata KBS, 50lbs (7)

Skill Day
Run 1 mile for time-7 minutes
Max height Box jump- 35 1/4"
Clean & Jerk 5-5-5 (95lbs, 115lbs, 125lbs) New PR for 5rep max


  1. loove this! and love you! proud of you for posting.

  2. This is amazing! Thank you for sharing! I definitely agree with you!

  3. I am in the middle of writing a very similar post. I've known for over a year that I am addicted to sugar. I am always joking that I need to be on intervention for my problem. I started my Whole 30 on January 2nd and made it 21 days before I cracked at the movies with my kids. I am not on a full range binge like I was in December... "I have it under control". Who am I kidding. I am not in control right now. When you sneak a few M&M's before lunch you are not in control. Great POST and I will be sure to share it!

    1. Tracy I would love to read your blog.Please send me a link when you are done with it.
      Thanks for reading.

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  5. I loved this post, Dawn! Back in January, I did d 21 day challenge with a friend. We eliminated sugar from our diet, exercised for 30 min each day, made sure to eat a green veggie and logged our food. Day 1 I had the worst headache and was just plain exhausted..... it was the lack of sugar. I knew it. By day 3, I felt so much better. I made it the whole 21 days. The first time I had sugar after that, it was like a drug.... I was buzzed and happy. So, now I have limited my sugar and read labels. I even went so far to give sugar up for lent this year. Seriously, great post and thanks for sharing, friend!