A is for Abstinence

Starting this week I am going to try something a little different. Once a week I’ll write about food, fitness, weight loss and other lifestyle type topics according to the alphabet.  We’ll see how far I get. “X” should be interesting. 🙂

A is for Abstinence

Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing a good job of “practicing what I preach.” The reason I wonder this is because I did some different things when I was trying to lose 100 pounds. I was very strict with my calories. I ate a LOT of processed foods because they were portion controlled and low in calories. The last year or so I’ve gotten away from that. I’m trying to limit the processed foods I eat and prefer to eat REAL FOOD now instead of portion controlled frozen food.

When I say “abstinence” I’m talking about the time when I was losing 100 pounds, not now that I’m in maintenance mode.

I had to go cold turkey. I had to abstain from ALL temptations. Period. It sounds like a hard feat right? It was. I went from overindulging in EVERYTHING one day to limiting everything I ate the next day. I counted everything. The butter I put on my toast. The extra half serving of Wheat Thins with my lunch. I was meticulous. It was the only way to do it.

The hardest part in losing weight for me (besides being patient with how slow it was) was resisting my trigger foods. Ice cream and pizza. That’s what I craved, that’s what I couldn’t eat in moderation. I always went hog-wild with those two things. I knew that I couldn’t lose weight and stay on track if I had ice cream in my house at all. Period. For two years I did not buy any ice cream. Once in awhile I’d buy the Smart Ones diet desserts and I’d have those but I just didn’t trust myself with a carton of ice cream in my freezer.

One bite was such a slippery slope for me. As for pizza, I ate it almost weekly. I’d get a medium sized or sometimes large sized pizza delivered and I’d vow every time that I wouldn’t eat the whole thing.

“Just one more piece” I’d tell myself. And before I knew it over half the pizza was gone. So for two years I didn’t eat pizza. At all. Did I crave it? Sometimes. But usually only when I saw someone else eating pizza.

Abstinence is a funny thing. For me, once I stopped eating something I didn’t crave it as much. Another example is when I tried the Slow Carb Diet for a few weeks. I thought I wouldn’t survive not eating bread but I quickly discovered I didn’t miss it when I wasn’t eating it.

Now that I’m in maintenance mode I can have a carton of ice cream in the freezer without the urge to eat the whole thing. I can go out for pizza and only eat a few slices. Having leftover pizza in the fridge does not mean I HAVE to eat it. It can sit there for a few days and be eaten slowly.

Abstinence helped me get to that point. Denying myself those things while I learned how to eat again gave me the clarity I desperately needed. It made me appreciate them when I did eat them in moderation.

My piece of advice (learned the hard way) is to abstain from the trigger foods that cause you trouble. If you can’t stay on track if there’s a bag of Cheetos in the house, don’t have them in the house. At least for awhile. It might be hard at first, but think about how proud and empowered you will feel by conquering that challenge!

QUESTION: Do you abstain from any specific foods in order to stay on track?

Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and Glamour.com.

17 thoughts on “A is for Abstinence”

  1. C is for cereal! I still cannot control myself with cereal. If I allow myself 1 serving it turns into 5 or 6 for some reason. Then the guilt and anger comes. Then the start of the binge begins. I wish I could solve this problem as my husband and daughter should be allowed to have cereal. There have been times when I have told them that it needs to stay out of the house for a little while. Thankfully they are understanding and supportive. When there is cereal in the house- I just can’t have any. Not even a nibble. *sigh* so sad……
    Jill recently posted..Some Friendly Competition

    1. I totally understand! Pizza was like that for me. I couldn’t have ONE piece. It was too hard to resist.

      Cereal is sneaky. A serving is often 1/2 a cup. Which is NOTHING!

  2. I never had anything completely off limits, but I did try really hard to stay on track and “be good.” Now that I live alone, I don’t like to have trigger foods in my kitchen and try to keep snacks and things that are easy for me to overdo it on at a minimum. If I want ice cream, I’ll go get a serving or go to an ice cream shop, rather than having the tub in my freezer. The temptation is just not worth it!
    Beth @ Beth’s Journey recently posted..Mexican Pizza

    1. That’s the way to do it, Beth! Go out for ice cream once in awhile instead of having it in the house. Good idea.

      It is much easier living alone to control the foods in the house. Michael used to buy those Costco sized bags of M&M’s and I HATED having them in the house. That humongous bag taunted me.

  3. Hi!
    I’ve just started my weight loss journey and this post hit home with me. I’m also the kind of person that needs abstinence… I’ve quit candy and chocolate, and the beloved junk food. So far I’m 6 days in and no problem. I know it’ll get hard, but it’s really the only way until I can be in charge – and not the food!

    Thanks for a good post 🙂
    Maren recently posted..The (sad) story behind my blog name..

    1. Hi Maren, I’m glad you stumbled onto my blog and found this post helpful! It sounds like you are doing all the right things to be successful. It’s hard at first but trust me, it does get easier.

  4. So true about abstinence giving you clarity. I’m losing weight with Take Shape for Life/ Medifast (45 down and 20 left to go) and you are so right about not missing bread when you don’t have it for awhile.

    Trigger foods for me are many- but sweets (Peeps, smarties, kettle corn, etc) and some salty foods like potato chips are very much triggers for me.

    Thank goodness for clarity! Time to get to the root of the overeating and to change my habits for good.

    Great post.
    Karen recently posted..Sunday 10/9/10 Weigh-in

  5. Milk fat and sugar. Both trigger my addiction. Not having them has enabled me to keep off 220 pounds. I can have the in the house and not eat them. But it I put a bite of either into my mouth I find myself in a pit of struggle. I do not have them in my mouth – no struggle.

    Some days I ask my family not to parade the food around the kitchen but for the most part it is a peaceful co-existence.

    jane Cartelli recently posted..Changing Trains

      1. Lisa,
        This might sound strange but it is and it isn’t. If I KNOW I cannot have that first bite and I truly accept it and have turned my will over then I could live in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and not want a nibble. It is only during those times when the squirrels are dancing in my head and I get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired, ot act out of feelings of entitlement and start to forget what I KNOW and think I should be able to eat what other’s have – then the food of family and friends becomes an issue.

        jane Cartelli recently posted..Changing Trains

        1. No I totally get what you are saying. I had the same mentality for 2 years when I was losing the weight. I knew I couldn’t have “just one bite” and I didn’t. And it was MUCH easier. I just accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to have a bite of dessert and pizza. It was actually very empowering. I had willpower of steel. Potlucks at work did not phase me. It worked.

  6. I love this post! Because I can relate to it and because it gives me hope. I have abstained from a whole bunch of trigger foods. Peanut butter – over a year. I don’t keep bread in the house any more. And the list goes on. Like you, I found that if they are not here and I go without, I don’t crave them. And, mostly, don’t miss them. I have had some of the foods when I’m out, when moderation is a given since the whole loaf or box or jar isn’t at home tempting me. My long term vision for maintaining is that I CAN someday return to moderation of certain foods. But I also know that it might be a slippery slope so I need to tread lightly and slowly and see which, if any, should just never come into my house. I know that this is controversial. Maybe subscribe to the “anything in moderation” theory. But for some of us, that just doesn’t work.
    Karen@WaistingTime recently posted..I’m All Thumbs

    1. Everyone is different and I wish I could say that “everyone” can someday get to that point but there might be some people that can’t. I think what helped me was having time to “digest” that I couldn’t eat certain foods. For 2 years I avoided trigger foods and then stopped thinking about them/craving them. It took a long time eating in moderation to realize that I could have SOME of those foods in moderation and be ok.

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