I Am Not Afraid

Every Father’s Day weekend for the last 18 years, we have celebrated with my Dad’s side of the family at the cottage near Waterloo, Ontario.

It is a wonderful time to gather, reconnect, share our news and enjoy nature. We take time to enjoy family members we don’t often see, we have a 9-hole golf tournament, and there is always lots of laughter and fun; and of course, there is always a lot of food.

But before I talk food, I want to talk fear.

This weekend was exciting for me because I was able to show my friends and gift a few family members with a proof of my first book, The 28 Day Kick The Sugar Challenge. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time as I handed over my “baby” for others to read. I was excited to show my work but scared of being judged for it; to have it judged; to have myself judged.

As you probably know by now, I have struggled for most of my life worrying about what other people think of me. Appearances mattered so much that I didn't often take chances in my life. I was scared to fail; afraid to look stupid; terrified of what people would think of my decisions.

All this fear held me back in my life and to manage it all, I drank. The drinking made me a failure in every area of my life; it had me making poor decisions and looking stupid.

Everything I tried to avoid in my life, I was creating because of my addiction.

Leading up to and including my drinking days, I have been underestimated; mostly because I underestimated myself. I was often told I didn't work to my potential, and I knew, deep down, that this was true and yet for so long I didn't know how to change it.

I was paralyzed by fear.

When I got sober, I didn't just quit drinking; I completely deconstructed my entire life in order to make old habits hard to fall back into. I knew that doing the same things, going to the same places, keeping the same company and maintaining the same mindset would set me up for failure, so I completely changed every aspect of my life.

It has only been through pushing past my comfort zone that I've been able to achieve any of the goals I have set out for myself. Courage can be defined as being afraid and doing it anyway.

It's not that I am fearless now; I just do it in spite of my fear. 

The Fear

Handing over my book was terrifying because I was worried what people would think of my work. But as I saw people's reactions and gratefully listened to their praise for this accomplishment, I realized something.

It doesn't matter what they think of me.

I have worked hard to achieve this goal and I know that the intention I set is grounded in a desire to serve others.

This work was never meant for me; it has always been a gift I have wanted to offer to help others who are struggling. It is my way of paying forward all that I have learned so far in an effort to let people know that they are held, supported and loved.

To know that they are not alone.

For those of you who have supported me along the way, I am so deeply grateful to you that I can barely contain my emotions. I am humbled by those of you who have already joined our tribe and I can't wait to meet more of you who want to join us on this mission to improve our relationship with ourselves and with food.

I am excited for what's to come and I am grateful for every single experience that has led me to where I am today.

All of it.

The Food

As I mentioned at the beginning, there was so much food this weekend that, at times, it was challenging to avoid it. Bags of chips, cookies, candy and even a cake was served up.

Avoiding the beer and wine has become much easier almost 14 years into sobriety, but the junk food requires a strategy. As my father always taught me, "failing to plan is planning to fail", and so we arrived with a cooler stocked with everything we needed to stay on track and manage our cravings all weekend long.

In order to avoid all of the junk food, I simply have to arrive prepared. As my awareness increases and time in my lifestyle lengthens, there are moments where I certainly crave the sweet stuff, but the cravings pass quickly and I know how much better I will feel for making the choices I want to make; not the choices my cravings would have me making.

Believe me, I do understand how all that junk food makes its way to a cottage weekend, I do.

It's a party! It's a fun weekend! It's special and everyone just wants to let loose a little. But I also see what food marketing has done to our brains. We use food for celebration instead of nourishment and they prey on our innate desire for salt, fat and sugar.

We are designed to crave it.

But our bodies don't care that it is a family reunion and that we are celebrating using food. All it knows is that it has a lot of work to do in order to mop up all that sugar, and so off it goes...to work. From the cereal in the morning to the roasted marshmallows at night and all the pop, hot dogs, chips and candy in between, our body has to work its butt off to try and keep us functioning.

The Temple

As we've talked about many times, our body has one goal: to keep us alive. It is incredibly adaptive and will do whatever it takes to keep our hearts beating, our blood circulating, our muscles firing and our blood sugar stable among a million other amazing functions.

When we eat sugar, our pancreas has to release the hormone insulin in order to regulate our blood sugar.

One of my cousin's daughters has Type 1 diabetes and uses a pump, which means small amounts of insulin are pumped into her body regularly. At only 12 years old, she knows the number of carbohydrates in every single thing she eats, and she must "bolus" for any additional sugar she has, meaning, if she does choose to have chips or some ketchup on her hot dog, she has to give her body a little more insulin to "mop up" the excess sugar in her blood.

It is both an art and a science, and whenever I see her little tummy I think about how lucky I am to have a pancreas that works properly. I think of all of my organs and the functions my body performs that I don't want to take for granted, and so I continue to say "no" to the junk food and manage cravings with the nourishing foods I travel with. I stay one step ahead of my hunger by eating! As soon as I am full, it becomes so much easier to avoid the chip bowl or the ice cream sandwiches.

One of my favourite authors, Augusten Burroughs, spoke about not being able to drink as, at its worst, "only uncomfortable". Not drinking won't kill you. It won't make you feel bad to not drink; only drinking will do that. I feel the same way about resisting the temptation to eat junk food. It is only uncomfortable...and then it feels incredibly empowering to be in control of the cravings rather than have them control me.

If I Can Do It, You Can Do It, Too

With my book being passed around this weekend, I had several conversations with people about how I live my life and whether or not they could do it; there was a lot of talk about it being too restrictive and too hard.

I get it. I really, really do. I could have never guessed that this is the person I would become. Not in a million years. After treating my body like a garbage can for so long, who would have guessed that I would be the one living clean and sober and healthy and that I now get to help others see that this lifestyle is do-able...not always easy, but totally do-able, and to realize the biggest truth: that it feels really, really good to treat our bodies well.

It feels really, really good to wake up feeling energized and to have energy throughout the entire day.

It feels empowering to plan and prepare meals and to treat our bodies with dignity and respect. It really is the best feeling in the world---there isn't a single slice of cake that could ever even come close to the feeling we get from loving our bodies and showing them this kind of care.

Everyone's lifestyle will look different. Everyone's definition of healthy will be different; and that's ok! There is no such thing as "perfect" and we all have to be happy with our choices so that we can be happy in our lives.

But making conscious choices to put our health and the well being of our bodies above our cravings is where the magic happens. It changes the way we see ourselves and it changes the way we behave in the world.

I am living proof that no matter where you are on your journey, it is never, ever too late to start something new.

I want to remind you to never, ever let fear hold you back from whatever it is you want in your life the way I let it hold me back in mine.

I lived in fear for far too long and I can tell you that I only started living, really living, when I began pushing through the fear and testing myself  to see how far I could go.

I still have a lot to learn and a lot of things I want to accomplish, but I refuse to let fear guide my path.

I want to be courageous.

I want you to be courageous.

I want you to be happy.

I want you to live well.

I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

P.S. I want to give a shout out to Roger who supports me in everything I do, including avoiding sugar. It makes my journey so much more enjoyable and rewarding and I love how great you feel (and look) because of our lifestyle. Keep up the amazing work. I am so proud of you! xo

P.P.S. Remember, if you'd like to sign up for the Kick The Sugar Challenge, click here and join the Wait List! The book is almost ready for you, and I will notify you as soon as it is available!

P.P.S.S. Let’s be friends! Connect with me on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. Plus, if you haven’t already subscribed to my blog, you should! That way, you won’t miss anything. For joining, you get my personal meal plan, shopping list, and a week’s worth of easy, tasty recipes! https://sarahtalksfood.com/


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