Sunday, September 7, 2008

If You Quit Eating Sugar, You Can do Anything!

It should come as no surprise that this year has had its fair share of changes and challenges. Going without sugar?! Keeping a New Year's resolution has always been an important goal of mine and I have reached that goal off and on in years past. There have been some goals that have fallen to the wayside (doing the splits, doing 100 sit-ups every morning, reading through the entire bible, etc.) but I'm proud to say that going without sugar will be a goal that I will most likely accomplish. Along with this, there have been a plethora of other unusual events in my life this year. Beginning with cutting out all white refined sugar in my diet, which led to cutting out all corn syrups, which led to cutting out white refined flour (for the most part...), which has led me towards some excellent reading material, some of which I am still chewing on. Striving to eat healthy in all possible ways has become this year's mantra. I've gravitated towards fresh over packaged, and home made over store bought.

Eating healthy has lent me to thinking about other areas of my life, as well. I started to re-think all aspects of my life. I mean, since I've been able to give up sugar, I feel like I can do anything. It almost feels like a quiet superpower.

So far this year I've:
  • Quit sugar
  • Sold my adorable little bungalow in the city
  • Quit my established career
  • Supported my husband as he quit his established career in the television business for the last 10 years
  • Traveled to Mexico to build houses
  • Explored the country, taking several road trips
  • Temporarily relocated out in the country, and
  • Joined a CSA.
There is something very exciting psychologically that happens when you accomplish something that you never dreamed was possible. I can't believe I let little white granules have so much power over me and my discipline. Looking back it will seem easy, but it has not been! I had to work at it and think about it every day, and still do.

Recently, I was faced with my fear of heights standing over a 80 foot cliff edge. My husband and I were traveling through Montana and Idaho and stopped at a gas station to talk to some locals. They encouraged us to go on a hike that leads into the woods with a waterfall at the end. That sounded like so much fun, so after driving several hours, we saw the sign for the falls and pulled over. The first challenge was to climb a metal, see-through staircase 4 stories high above and over the train tracks that ran through the forest. I didn't think much about it until I heard someone above coming down the stairs say to us,

"Hope you're not afraid of heights, this is really high and you can see through the stairs to the ground below!"

The next moment an elderly couple passed us and as the woman passed by me, I saw large beads of sweat across her forehead and caught her nervous scent.

(To back up briefly, I am not only afraid of heights, I am terrified. At malls I only go on the first flight of escalators and even then my knees always feel shaky. If I need to go up any higher I find the elevator.)

We crossed the tracks and I made it up that steep, see-through staircase uneventfully. Next, we hiked on a little path through the woods until my husband yells, "Look at that!" Up ahead we could see a narrow swing bridge dangling over the river. "Well, I hope J enjoys crossing that bridge....I'll be taking pictures," I thought to myself. However, while I was thinking about the see-through staircase that I had just climbed, I had a moment of inspiration. I decided to evaluate the situation and ignore my fear of heights for the moment. I knew I wouldn't be pressured into crossing the bridge, so I fanticized about crossing and not feeling afraid of it. The swing bridge hung about 70-80 feet above a violent, roaring river. The bright blue color of the river was beautiful, especially in contrast to the gray, rocky cliffs on either side. The swing bridge immediately became my sugar. Was I going to let it be bigger than my willpower? While my husband free-jumped from rock to rock down below, I stood staring ahead at the swing bridge. It looked strong. People were crossing it. It was only about 150 feet long. Here was my chance to prove something else to myself. I had already overcome some gigantic challenges this year, why not add this to the list?

I climbed up a little wooden staircase to the entrance of the bridge. I felt nervous but excited. I knew I was going to give this my best shot. Suddenly, before I knew what I was doing, both hands reached out and grabbed the thick, metal railing. I put one foot onto the wooden floor of the bridge, followed by my other foot. I slowly stepped forward, sliding my hands along the bouncy railing. I had the bridge to myself. After a total of about 8 steps, I stopped and evaluated the length of the bridge before me. My heart was pounding but I had already done more than I ever thought possible. I gripped the railing tight until my hands hurt and steadily proceeded forward. I moved carefully so as to keep the swing bridge from swinging. Then I heard my husband shout from below and give me the thumbs up. He was taking pictures and I knew he knew just what I was going through. I hesitated on the bridge once more and all of a sudden a wash of panic went through me. Huge rock lay directly beneath me. With a few more steps I would be standing over the mighty river. Instantly my legs felt like jell-o and I started to shake.

"What better moment to move forward, than right in the middle of a full-blown panic attack?" I thought to myself. If I knew there were not other people around, I would have yelled out loud, "Go! Go! Go!" I heard and felt my brain and my heart synchronize these simple words. If I was to ever get over my fear of heights, here was my chance to begin. I looked down at the rocks and river below and then looked up. I stared straight ahead as if my Fear was an entity standing before me. All of a sudden, it felt like Fear was outside of me, taunting me, but not inside me anymore. I adjusted my grip again on the railing, straightened my back, and moved forward with a confidence that I have never experienced before in my life. I knew I could walk all the way across the bridge, but I stopped when I got to the middle. I was going to consider this baby steps and confidently return to the edge.

Once I was standing on solid ground again, I looked out at the swing bridge and felt elated. I was shivering and taking giant breaths. My adrenaline was pumping and I was sweating despite the cool breeze. I saw J jumping from rock to rock in my direction, clutching his camera in one hand. "You did it!" he shouted and I teared up. My biggest fear no longer had quite a hold on me.

"Next time we are out here, I will cross the bridge all the way," I said.

"I know you will," J said.

I had no idea that cutting sugar out of my diet would give me this kind of confidence. But if I can truly go the rest of the year without eating it, then I know that I can do anything.


Gord H. said...

hi my year,

i enjoyed your post re confidence.

a reader from Idaho told me an interesting story re Evel Knieivel's canyon jumping days at Twin Falls. Your excellent photos reminded me of that. You may have been straddling the same river he 'didn't' jump.

my confidence builder was the marathon. it took me ten years but, 13 marathons later, I finally made it to Boston. and still run for pleasure.


gord h.

My Year Without said...

I love to hear stories of people overcoming obstacles and their fears. Congratulations on your successful streak of marathons!