21 Day Chocolate Challenge

31 Aug

In early sobriety they tell us to do anything that keeps us sober. For many, allowing ourselves sugar cravings is a big part of that. I had a special anti-booze secret weapon of a Cadburys Twirl tucked away in my handbag to kill cravings. And it worked.

But as regular readers of this blog know, I’ve always had a problematic relationship with food and body image which has variously manifested itself over the years from anorexia to binge episodes. In early recovery in particular, my body image was terrible and that, of course, as an addict, drove me to eat sweet, comforting foods.

I was expecting to drop weight in very early recovery by virtue of cutting out thousands if calories of booze every week, but alas, I maintained the weight I’ve been for the past year or so. This got me down hugely.

I haven’t blogged on this topic for a while but a big change has happened: my body image has got dramatically better because I made a big change.

I eased off the running in search of a huge new challenge, and chose weight lifting. I’m not talking 3lbs dumbells whilst doing some light aerobics in my living room, I’m talking body weight squats. 65kg deadlifts. Joining the men for the tussle to get to the bench press at 6:30am before work. IT. FEELS. AMAZING. So bloody empowering. I’m getting stronger, it’s boosting my self esteem and my body is getting harder, more muscular, whilst remaining feminine. I love it. I love my body for possibly the first time in 10 years. Completing marathons made me feel like this to an extent, but with weights, I feel like superwoman 3 times a week.

But here’s the thing. I’m not happy with my eating. I’ll eat really well all day and then blow it with chocolate. And I’m not talking “a little of what you fancy” here, I’m talking binges. It’s pure emotional eating, swapping the booze for another crutch. I’m using food to punctuate my stressful day, to mark “alone time”, to make me feel comforted. I hate to write this. It fills me with as much shame as the drinking did.

Last time I talked about this on the blog and my desire to shift some weight, I was rightly cautioned against dieting or restriction of any kind because I’m still very early in my sober journey. My motives have evolved slightly, however. This time, it’s about breaking the negative emotional behaviour that is jeopardising my mental well-being. It’s emerged that my destructive easting behaviours are as damaging as the alcohol in some ways, because I’m using them mindlessly to numb. I occasionally get an elated boost from a binge, but as I do it, I see myself as if from afar and think “what the fuck are you doing?!”

Like the alcohol, food is a crutch that I abuse to change the way I feel, and I think it’s time to tackle that negative behaviour. I was considering Whole 30-ing it or some other strict plan. But that won’t work for me- it will lead me to rebel against the rules and get a case of “the fuck its.”

So I’ve decided on this. I want to reset my bad habits, by doing a short, manageable challenge. I’ve tried sugar detoxes in the past but the insistence on fruit being off limits is ridiculous. It’s the only thing that keeps my sweet tooth at bay.

So, I’m going to do a 21 day sweet-tox. No chocolate, sugary flapjacks or biscuits. Smoothies and dried fruit and nuts are fine.

I’m hoping to end the desire to binge by practicing new habits, and to reset my emotional connection with food. I’ll never binge eat a bag of prunes (thank God, can you imagine?) so how will I soothe myself instead? How else will I punctuate a busy day? It will be a really interesting one for me, and I have no idea whether I can stick to it.

I’m going to try and check in here more regularly than I have been doing of late, to keep myself accountable.

21 days is the time it takes to change a habit, apparently, so we’ll see how much progress I have made in shifting away from the poor habits that have developed in sobriety and whether shifting those habits will make space for the more hardcore emotional work that needs to be done. 

1st Semptember, here we go!

28 Responses to “21 Day Chocolate Challenge”

  1. merrimj1122 August 31, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

    Great read. It is the hardest thing to diet and stay sober…keep strong…I hear ya…its my life tryin so hard each day to fight the weight and the vices! I go for a couple of sugar free dark chocolate squares and a coffee, takes the edge right off! 🙂

    • FitFatFood September 1, 2014 at 5:59 am #

      What’s interesting to me is my ability to moderate sweet things has gone the same way as my ability to moderate drink- whilst I used to be able to have a few squares and savour them, now I cannot. There’s more to it than cravings and taste there’s something emotional going on here. Hopefully if I can work through some stuff I’ll be able to go back to more moderate consumption 🙂

  2. Anne August 31, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

    Are you working on body image and eating with a therapist?
    I have been since December and I honestly can’t believe how far I have come. And how eat if is to get caught up in restricting again!

    I don’t weigh myself at all right now. Ever. I’m going by my clothes and how I feel. And trying to accept my 42 year old self as is. Because I know the number on the scale will impact my mental health. I try to eat lots of protein and veggies, but cheesecake is a weakness!
    Weight lifting is great. I used to lift weights, but have move into solely doing yoga. It’s a good body weight workout and is supportive for me.
    I hope the chocolate break feels good. If not you have no obligations to stick with it.
    I look forward to hearing how it goes!

    • FitFatFood September 1, 2014 at 6:01 am #

      I did start seeing a therapist last year who specialised in food and body image disorders, but then we unearthed my alcohol problem and spent all our time working on that! The thing is, I’m not overweight or fat, I’m comparing my body weight now to what it was when I was severely underweight and ill. That’s not cool. I’m getting better at letting go of that old unwell, tiny self but it’s hard.

      Completely agree with ditching the scales!

      • ainsobriety September 3, 2014 at 2:05 am #

        Me neither. I’m a size small. Fit. I have abs. And muscle.
        Yet I still struggle to see myself like this in the mirror. I feel like a big oaf beside other people.
        It’s coming along. Booze, body image and anxiety intertwined for me.

  3. Jacinta August 31, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

    I think your amazing! Sobriety is bloody hard and all of us look for a substitute crutch to reward ourselves!! Everything seems to be bad for us!!! I’m interested in raw food movement! Try their sweets! They are made with natural ingredients and plant based sweeteners or honey ! They are rich so you only need a small amount! Same with raw chocolate! Keep up the inspiration 😊

    • FitFatFood September 1, 2014 at 6:04 am #

      Thanks for the tips 🙂 will let you know how I get on x x x

  4. Resilient Brilliance September 1, 2014 at 2:12 am #

    Good for you for acknowledging that link between your habits & motivators. Hoping all goes well with this challenge! Perhaps it would be worthwhile to delve deeper into what that “itch” is saying to you to get you to scratch it (i.e. Binge eating or drinking, in the past)…perhaps if you can hear its voice, it will allow you to better address your internal need or concern. Good luck! Keep us posted in your progress!

    • FitFatFood September 1, 2014 at 6:05 am #

      You’re absolutely right- I need to tune into where the “itch” is coming from. I have a good idea, but I’ll be interested to see whether I was right or not! Happy Monday 🙂

  5. primrose September 1, 2014 at 6:09 am #

    was thinking last night what a good day for starting new things today is – 1st of the month on a Monday, can’t beat it!

    and yes I identify with that new ability to recognise addictive behaviour. how once you see it you can’t unsee it and need to do something about it.

    I had a habit in the early days of sobriety of eating a bowl of muesli in the evening. it was sweet enough to meet the cravings of those pesky sugar pixies, but filling enough that I couldn’t eat vast quantities. also a bowl of chopped fruit (banana, grape, apple mostly) mixed with a few tablespoons of full fat yoghurt – greek yog with honey by Yeo Valley in particular. best of luck with your challenge and let us know how you get on! xx

  6. Bea September 1, 2014 at 7:19 am #

    I hope you unearth whatever is triggering you. Good luck! Go gently with yourself.

  7. Annie September 1, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    As you know, I’m doing a 30 day no alcohol thing (in the hope that I can go beyond 30 days, but I need to get that far first and stop giving up on Day 3), and blogging every day, so I’m really with you on the more regular blogging post path. The weight lifting sounds amazing; I might venture into the gym too. Good luck – I’m with you all the way! Annie x

  8. One day at a time September 1, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    I know exactly where you’re coming from with the chocolate. I replaced alcohol with chocolate too. And I realise that I’ve just swapped one problem for another. I crave chocolate all day long. As soon as I finish a meal (even breakfast) I need chocolate and I feel crazy until I get it. After dinner me and my husband a very large bar of Cadbury hazlenut every night. Since giving up drinking in December I’ve put a stone and half on. Nobody can believe it (but they don’t know how much chocolate I’m consuming). I didn’t realise it was the first today. Thank you for the reminder Primrose. I too will try my very own 21 day chocolate challenge – just sweets, chocolate and biscuits inbetween meals for now. So good to hear you’ve found something that works for you. If weights make you feel good about yourself keep at it. I’m sure if we all try hard enough we’ll eventually find what works for us.

  9. birdomcd September 1, 2014 at 8:13 am #

    *sigh* I am completely overidentifying with this. I am addicted to the gym (about three hours every morning) and go from the super rigid calorie calculated rules to massive splurges on Ritter Sport Weiss + Crisp, 4 large bars, eaten in a very particular fashion. It’s a lonely, lonely existence. I weight train, and I am strong for a whippet thin woman, but has it brought me any lasting happiness? Nope. Not a thing. Nothing is ever good enough, I can never train enough… and I can never let fun or spontaneity or other people interfere with my routines and the amount of time needed to make them happen.
    Please don’t end up where I am. Eat when you want to and wat what you want – and I mean by that don’t scarf chocolate if you are angry or tired or lonely, eat it when you want to eat and enjoy chocolate. And don’t deny yourself the simple pleasures in life – not everything has to become another addiction!
    Enjoy your training too, it sounds like a positive thing for you and one you are keeping in check. You muscle those blokes out the way!!

  10. lucy2610 September 1, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    Yep me too and am doing a 28 day food challenge once the kids are back at school 🙂 xx

    • FitFatFood September 2, 2014 at 9:28 am #

      Let me know when you plan to start 😉

      • lucy2610 September 2, 2014 at 9:30 am #

        Will do by the way you have email 😉 xx

  11. moretomethanthis September 1, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    I loved your description on weight training – I was watching a woman the other day in the gym with weights and felt really in awe of her! I like the idea of appreciating our bodies for their strength and for what they can do, rather than for what they look like.
    Good luck with the 21 day challenge. Sounds like a sensible, healthy way to approach that whole minefield of sugar binging / restrictive eating. Hope it works for you 🙂 xx

    • FitFatFood September 2, 2014 at 9:28 am #

      I think breaking the cycle might help. We’ll see! Thanks for your encouragement x

  12. Debbie September 1, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    I so need to do something similar. I’m still using the sugar/chocolate nightly – and it is ‘using’, no doubt. Congrats on the weight lifting. I bet you look awesome!

    • FitFatFood September 2, 2014 at 9:27 am #

      It makes me FEEL awesome, how I look is another matter 😉

  13. pp September 2, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    the weight/food/alcohol thing hits me too. I haven’t drunk in 4 months. At least THAT feels good. And I haven’t really gone overboard on anything, especially when I consider what I ate when I was buzzed or when I had a hangover the next day.
    So frustrating.
    I wish you luck. I think I’ll join you in your 21 days..even if I’m a day late.

    • FitFatFood September 2, 2014 at 9:57 am #

      Yes do! The more the merrier 🙂

  14. sillymelove September 3, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    If you crave sugar you could tri stevia, which is all natural, and is sweet! When I competed as a pro competitor, sugar was not allowed… if I craved something sweet, I would have a tea spoon of stevia and it helped! no calories…. Good luck with the next 20 something days… Im on day 2 of a 100 day sobriety challenge… I hope that this time I stick with it!

    • FitFatFood September 3, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

      Straight stevia? Never tried it! Best of luck with the 100 day challenge x

      • sillymelove September 4, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

        Yes I got it in liquid formula and powder packs from Whole Foods… not sure if you have anything like it where you live. The 100 Day challenge is sucky right now…


  1. repost from fitfatfood: 21 day chocolate challenge | club east: indianapolis - September 1, 2014

    […] at what I saw as simply trading one addiction for another. So I just really, really appreciate the 21-Day Chocolate Challenge from fitfatfood. Even though I’ve been clean and sober from alcohol for 4+ years, there are […]

  2. Oh, These Food Cravings! | We Admitted We Were Powerless - September 1, 2014

    […] food cravings are par for the course.  Right now in fact, FitFatFood is challenging herself to a 21 day chocolate detox and inviting others to join her.  Way to […]

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