In the book Ninety Days: A Memoir of Recovery the author, Bill Clegg, writes about the all encompassing thoughts that filled his head when he wanted to get high, the complete suspension of considering consequences as he cashed out his credit cards and rent money to pay for his fix, and the self abhorrence that followed his benders.
While I’m happy to say I’ve been lucky enough to avoid drug addiction (I just said ‘no’) the other day I began to consider that perhaps I had a teensy, tiny (ok, huge, colossal) issue with food.
I thought Cheater’s Weekend had cured my food “addiction” but I discovered yesterday that it did not. Not completely. Because Daniel said I can now drink coffee again, and have Diet Coke and use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter on my food.
My heart pounded out of my chest. “Oh, you made my week!” I exclaimed with exuberance. His head tilted to the side and he got that look, the one that says he’s going to call me out for something. I didn’t even do anything…yet…
“When you say things like, ‘you made my week,’ it makes me think you’re going to go overboard.”
“I won’t go overboard!” I said too quickly.
We both know this was a lie because already I’m envisioning all the things I’m going to put I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter on. Quinoa. Green Beans. Chicken. Add to egg whites for more flavor. For an instant I wonder what butter would taste like in coffee. Would it taste like butter beer of Harry Potty fame? And you what? THAT’S NUTS.
I’m not maxing out my credit cards for crack, but I’m certainly not thinking like a sane human being either…
Switching subjects a bit – I spent my junior year at Goldsmith College, an offshoot of the University of London. It rained a lot and even when it didn’t rain it was various shades of gray and the fact that they even hired weather people for the news made me laugh. Every night was the same forecast: cloudy with a chance of rain. Also, it got dark around 3 p.m. Well what was a college student to do? Go to the pub, of course!
My drink of choice was a screwdriver and by the end of the year I had developed a fairly impressive tolerance for the stuff. At the start of the year one drink got me buzzed; by year’s end five drinks in a row didn’t even phase me.
I realized I might have a teensy issue with alcohol when my Welsh boyfriend, Julian, took me to a dress rehearsal of the London Ballet and I almost chocked on the orange juice served at intermission.
“Oh my God, Jules, this tastes awful! What’s wrong with it?”
He smiled wryly, “There’s no vodka in it, lass.”
I reeled myself in after that, but now I can’t seem to put my appetite in check. Food has become overly powerful in my mind. I went home and, as you can imagine, I put I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter on everything. (But not my coffee. I’m happy to say I have some limits.) And then I felt kind of bad. Really bad.
I had back-to-back training that week so the next day I came in and Daniel gave me an overview of the next 12 weeks of preparation for the competition. More weight lifting. Different cardio. Another Cheater’s Weekend five weeks out.
I don’t want another Cheater’s Weekend. I feel out of control over stupid butter spray and it’s on the approved list. He sees I feel bad. “Cheater’s Weekend just let’s you get your cravings out of the way so you won’t cheat as much the rest of the time,” he answers, even though I haven’t said a word.
“I thought you weren’t supposed to cheat at all?”
“Everyone does. I cheated today.”
“You?!” I ask in mock horror.
“Of course. I’m human. But I cheated with a protein bar, not a cupcake.”
My husband says a healthy diet is just about making choices and (surprise, surprise) he’s right again. So today I’m sitting at the breakfast table, reading the rest of the Ninety Days excerpt in Newsweek and I only put a little butter spray on my gluten free toast. I skipped it everywhere else. I’m back on track.
The author’s friend, Polly, tells him to stop the pity party about his three day binge and makes him go to a meeting, where the members state their number of days clean from their addictions.
“The speakers go on speaking, a hat gets passed and fills up with dollars, people raise their hands and announce their day counts- 24, 88, 30. People clap. Polly raises her hand and says nine or 10 or something in that range. More clapping. She pinches my leg, I raise my hand. One day, I say, and the place explodes.”
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