A BAD CASE OF THE SUGAR BUTTS
By: Lauren Anderson
Oh HI. Ready to talk about butts? Haha! Good. Cause I’m always ready to talk butts…
When you’re making a total lifestyle transformation, things are bound to get messy. I have talked about triumphs, I have talked about failure, but I have yet to talk about the most triumphant failure in my CrossFit journey to date. The Sugar Butts.
Just to get you up to speed, I have been off sugar since I started the Essential You food challenge back in January. Things have been great. I feel better. My mood is stable. Lately, my body feels like it’s a working, well-oiled machine. Something I have never said before in my LIFE.
And after the first few weeks of missing sugar, (like, willing to trade my right arm for a sleeve of Oreos kind of longing,) things got better. Soon regular stuff started to taste EXTRA good. I didn’t need that brownie anymore, because all of a sudden my taste buds and cravings changed. And at the risk of sounding like a douche, I am now one of those people that is blown away by the sweetness in an orange…
Skeptical? Well you should be. I was too. Until I was offered a potato chip from a friend. And when I chomped on that chip, I was like, “Weird. These taste sweet.” Low and behold, when I flipped over the bag to check the ingredients, there was CANE JUICE (aka sugar) in them!
Ah! SUGAR is EVERYWHERE!!! Even in a fancy bag of kettle chips cooked in (challenge approved) avocado oil. But I soldiered on. With practice, and patience, I have managed to really watch my sugars. Effectively cutting them out of sneaky places like potato chips, tomato sauce, and soups. Which has allowed me to really enjoy the sugar sweetness when it’s there on purpose, or naturally occurring. Like in a raspberry or a cherry tomato.
So, for a while I’ve been talking about wanting to live the coveted 80/20 lifestyle. Meaning 80 percent of the time, I eat for nutrition. To keep my body moving like this new well-oiled machine. To serve my life, and my new lifestyle. Using food to help me complete my goals.
Then 20 percent of the time I eat because, part of serving your lifestyle, is really living your life. And that involves fun times with what Coach Hannah likes to call “Fun Foods”. Tacos with your buds, an occasional Martini after a hard meeting, and BIRTHDAY CAKE on your damn birthday.
Well, last week was my birthday. And I decided, I have been 13 weeks without sugar and I was gonna have some damn Birthday Cake. I didn’t know how or where, but that was the only thing I put on my agenda for the day. Because you SHOULD have cake on your birthday if you want it. It’s hard to make a rotation around the sun. And it calls for celebration.
When my birthday came it was a great day. To my surprise and elation, My dear friend Taj got me a beautiful lemon cake with cream cheese frosting (MY FAVORITE) from Wuollet bakery no less. (Ooooo fancy!) I was so excited, I legit clappped my hands and rubbed them together in cartoon villian anticipation. This was gonna be good.
Candles were lit, songs were sung, and wishes were made.
I had one bite and I almost blacked out from the sugary tidal wave. It was everything I dreamt it would be and more. A burst of sugar and citrus swirled in my mouth. Happy Birthday to ME!!!
But what I noticed right away was I was knocked out by sweetness. It was so…so sweet. Over the top, teeth aching, slap-you-silly sweet. The old me would’ve gobbled that piece, and probably gone in for seconds. But the new me, nursed that cake like an 11 dollar beer at a nightclub.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of it. It was delicious. It was magnificent. It was a perfect way to highlight a special occasion. And I’m glad I broke from my 13 week sugar challenge to eat it. That’s what the 80/20 lifestyle is all about. No shame. No regrets. Just thoughtful choices about food that make up a fulfilling life.
About 15 minutes in though, I was shaky. Truth be told, I felt like I had done a few lines of cocaine or something. I was talking too fast, and laughing just a little too loud. I felt high, and a little out-of-control. Like any minute me and Leo from Wolf of Wallstreet would start pounding our chests and chanting.
I mean, I could feel my skin buzzing. It was so weird. And I’m not exaggerating. My friends were laughing and teasing me like, “Are you okay to drive?” All from eating a slice of cake!
The rest of the evening was great, and I went to sleep happy, tired, and satisfied. Feeling very grateful to have these people in my life, and for another chance to try and make it a great year.
Cut to the next morning.
I woke up with a terrible headache. Eyes unwilling to open, and mouth fuzzy. I was hungover. From CAKE. I felt sleepy and groggy. Like I tied one on and forgot to take it off. My stomach started to gurgle. Uh oh. I quickly shuffled off to the bathroom and… brace for it…. tagged the toilet with butt graffiti.
I KNOW. I’M SORRY. BUT I WARNED YOU IN THE TITLE.
I had a bad case of what I’m now calling, The Sugar Butts. Luckily, as the day went on I got better. But it was baaaad. Thankfully in between rounds of Advil and water, and some non-cake-based food, by the evening I was feeling more like myself. But I still wasn’t totally up to snuff. I went to do the show without incident, but when I got home… There it was.
The leftover cake.
Patiently waiting there in it’s pretty white box. I tried to pawn it off, I swear. But everyone that was gonna have a slice, had had their slice already! I walked by. I stopped, turned around. Almost without thinking, I cut myself another piece and ate it. And I ate it up good.
What are you doing Anderson?! You were minutes away from having to call FEMA to clean up this morning’s natural disaster! Why? WHY?! Why are you doubling down?!!
For the life of me, I can’t tell you why. It was just so pretty. And it was CAKE. And it was fancy, and there was frosting, and and and… it was for my birthday dammit! I guess I convinced myself the worst was over so it was safe. I fell asleep with false sense of security, because in the morning… you guessed it!
On top of that, all day I felt on edge. It was even harder to wake up. I felt so sleepy. My sister asked me a simple question later that evening and I snapped at her. I felt myself get so irrationally angry. And I knew it too, but I couldn’t stop myself. What was happening?!
I knew it was from the cake. My sugars had spiked and dipped, and my body was trying to play catch up. And I don’t wanna be one of those alarmist citizens that use every opportunity to tell you that “Sugar is a drug!” All while making hissing snake sounds and trying to force-feed you shots of wheat grass. But it got me thinking.
Because my bod has been clear of refined sugar for so long, it was reacting way more intensely than it did when I had sugar snuck in every part of every meal. Kinda like chugging a latte when you’ve been off caffeine for awhile. The only difference is that nowadays, most people consider caffeine a type of drug. But not sugar? Why?!
Well, I have my theories. But they are un-researched and I don’t even want to pretend that I know how the FDA or anything like that works. And I refuse to vilify food anymore. I’m off that train for good.
Is Sugar a tempting, decadent, mistress of the night? Why yes. Yes she is. But she’s not evil. Just volatile, and misunderstood. And best taken in small doses. But that’s not what this is about. This is about what was happening between me, my body, and this damn cake.
Aka: The Beautiful Bastard.
I got home from doing 2 shows, wiped out and ready to call it a night. I walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water, and there it was. That pretty white box again. There was still cake inside. But it had been picked at. Forked through. De-flowered. And yet… NO! Lauren! You’ll feel awful. You’ve had the Sugar Butts for 2 days now! Just throw it away! Suddenly, the words of my wise life coach popped into my head.
She used to say, “You can throw it away in the trash, or you can throw it away in your body. You decide.”
This quote has always stuck with me, because it challenged in a simple sound-bite so many things that I struggle with. Eating for the sake of eating. Being a part of the “Clean Plate Club”. Eating when you’re not hungry. Eating when you’re stressed. Because it’s there. Because you feel guilty. Because you need comfort. Because because because.
I wish I could tell you guys that I took that cake, slammed it in the trash and went out and jogged a victory lap around the block to celebrate. But that’s not what happened.
Instead, I grabbed a fork. Sat down right there on the kitchen floor, and silently ate the rest of the cake straight out of the pretty white box. Like a woman possessed. All the while contemplating how my life had suddenly become an actual episode of Sex in The City.
The next morning, just like you’d expect, I got a visit from the Sugar Butt Goblins. Dancing their devilish dance around the toilet bowl. By this time, I just kept my head down and suffered my sentence in bathroom jail. Hoping this will be penance enough for committing that cake crime.
It’s been three days now since I sat alone on the kitchen floor eating days-old cake from a box. Not my finest hour for sure, but also not my worst. And I’ll say that now that I’ve danced with the sugar dragon, the cravings are back. Not like they used to be, but they’re there, poking me.
I am careful not to beat myself up. The Sugar Butts did enough of that already. Instead, I’m back to eating proteins, carbs, and good fats that are challenge approved. And I’m trying something new. I’ve decided to observe this whole thing objectively. Like a detective. Like Lucia (The Solcana Wellness Guru-trition) taught me. So, what are the facts? Well…
- Eating cake on my birthday was fun. Celebratory. Special. And despite the adverse side effects, I don’t regret having that first piece of cake at all.
- Refined sugar in large quantities does not make me feel good right now. I got sleepy, ornery, and suffered a pretty hefty case of the Sugar Butts.
- I seem to have a real emotional connection to birthday cake. It’s something that I value. It feels important. Enough that I was unable to throw it away. Even when it was no longer serving its celebratory or special purpose. In fact, I couldn’t stand the idea.
- I guess when it comes to cake, I am way more a Miranda than Samantha or Carrie.
Conclusion? Oh, did you want one of those? Cause I don’t really have one. Not yet anyway. I guess when it comes to all this food stuff, I’m on a major learning curve. But the good thing is I’m learning.
I’m listening to my body now more than ever, and that’s a really new thing. Even when I try to drown out threats of Sugar Butt with more cake.
I guess my working theory is that next time I want cake, I will order one slice, and leave the rest of the cake and the pretty white box at the bakery. And unpacking my life-long relationship with food will take more time than 13 weeks being sugar free. I will triumph. I will fail. And it’s bound to get messy. Messy like a Bad Case of the Sugar Butts.
But just like that first piece of birthday cake, it’ll totally be worth it.