Temptation makes victory taste ever more sweet

There they lay, within reach, and yet to do so was entirely forbidden. It would be so easy, I told myself. All I had to do was open up one of kiddo’s packaged snacks from the basket in the pantry and chew. All those delicious salty treats were mine for the taking. But I’d made a promise to myself to limit my carb intake, particularly over the next thirty days, as the scale had taken issue with my summer beach excesses.

“She’d started taking up a lot of bad habits”, I imagined its snide electronic voice justifying itself to my toothbrush and my towel as they discussed my morning routine. “You both just help her stay hygienic. I, however, am helping her make better lifestyle choices.” I am sure both towel and brush would roll their eyes if they had them, but that awful scale had a point. I had enjoyed my summer a wee bit too much and it was starting to show.

You know what the secret to weight loss is? Don’t eat much.” – Simon Cowell
(Gee thanks, Simon)

It came to a head one Tuesday evening. There, on the table, were all the fixings for tacos which had become our weekly staple since the Lego Movie first introduced the children to the concept of Taco Tuesday. A pair of tortillas waited for me to add lettuce, beef, and cheese, with a dollop of yogurt just as I had done the Tuesday before and the Tuesday before that.

“After today I am going to limit my sugar and bread for awhile,” I announced to the hubby. “At least for the next thirty days.” Lamont looked at his own plate and agreed to support me by doing the same. We both were in the mood to change up the dietary cycle. We wouldn’t cut it out altogether, we agreed, as that was next to impossible seeing as both ingredients were hidden in way too much. To avoid them altogether would involve *gasp* actually reading labels. But we would try not to intentionally consume either.

I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t easy. I’d gotten into a habit of having a bit of ice cream in the evening after tucking the boys in their beds. A reward for successfully surviving another day. Suddenly I was out my reward. The cravings started to chip away at my resolve.

“Lead us not into temptation. Just tell us where it is; we’ll find it.” – Sam Levenson

Brilliantly (at least in our opinion), we decided to make our own dessert. We had plenty of plain greek yogurt in the fridge. Add a few berries and some honey and poof. Instant ice cream substitute. We even added a little cinnamon to give it a bit more pizzaz!

And other meal times took on a bit more excitement as we managed to break away from our weekly routine, replacing the stand-bys with things like zucchini pasta or eggs poached inside an avocado. This whole “sacrifice” wasn’t one.

Then my mom’s birthday came along with a visit by my sister. After a celebratory dinner, the smell of a fruit pie tempted my nose. A bit more of my resolve chipped away. But still, I remained strong, empowered by what I had accomplished before. There was nothing to this goal. Or so I thought until I entered the final days of my self-imposed thirty-day challenge.

Then the air began to change. Fall has arrived and with it will be the assault on my senses that is pumpkin spice. I do so love the smell of Fall. If you listen very carefully, you might yet hear the sound of my scale crying. If my resolve started out as a mighty oak tree, it is now only a splinter of its former self.

“What makes resisting temptation difficult for many people is they don’t want to discourage it completely.” Franklin P. Jones

A friend of mine suggested I read Stephen Pressfield’s book The War of Art in which the author theorizes that our brains are somehow wired to resist completing goals. While I haven’t yet read the book (though fully intend to) I can’t help thinking he might be on to something. I was so close to writing End of Book Two in this current draft, and yet my characters keep drawing out the action. No matter how much I wrote, there was still more to do. More to say.

It was so very tempting to simply type THE END before the story is ready and short circuit the process. And if I did? Would it really matter? This is not my final draft. I’ll be rewriting an editing next. I could grab those chips as well. One small bag on day 29 isn’t going to make a difference in the scheme of things. Who would know?

I would.

And so, while my resolve may only be a splinter, that splinter wedged itself deeply under my skin. I can’t ignore it. I can’t make a move without feeling its pain.

And so, I stood fast over these final few days. What’s a couple hundred more words compared to the many I’ve written thus far? Certainly not enough to lose heart now. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote until the words END OF BOOK TWO were no longer words in my head but words on a screen. Yes. You read that right. This draft is finished. Now on to round two.

I pull back from the pantry and fixed a salad instead. It might not taste quite as good to my sugar biased tastes, but victory continues to be more satisfying.


As a reminder, I will be on the air Friday, September 23rd at 6pm Eastern time. The link to follow is http://www.blogtalkradio.com/writestream/2016/09/23/the-speculative-fiction-cantina-with-madeleine-holly-rosing-and-allie-potts

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50 thoughts on “Temptation makes victory taste ever more sweet

  1. Hey Allie! 1. Awesome on finishing the draft. 2. Awesome on keeping to the resolve.

    Do you find that your taste buds become more sensitive over time when you limit the sugar intake? We’ve done that in the past and it seemed to make flavors more… intense, to the point when we did have sugar it seemed very strong or overwhelming.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m reminded of Simon & Garfunkel: “the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away.” Happy to know that you’re hanging tough, impressed by your awareness of what could do you in. Good job, Allie.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on finishing your draft – it’s a good feeling, isn’t it?

    And good luck with the diet, too. I recently gave up yeast, sugar and caffeine (what was I thinking!?) But the changes have been remarkable over just a couple of months and now, sugary things taste so overly sweet I really don’t want them any more. I confess I did keep a bag of chocolate buttons in the fridge so, when I had a real sweet craving, I could eat one (or two). But really, it’s gone very well. However, ask me to give up potato chips and you’d be in for a battle! Out of my cold, dead hands, pretty much! haha

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a really weird feeling. I had increased my weekly productivity so much over the last few weeks that not having to hit a count quota seems wrong.

      Wow – no caffeine? And you are still a lovely and charming person? One day you must tell me your secret. Lives could be saved!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, maybe I only appear to be that way. Maybe I’m actually a hollow-eyed harridan, terrorising all I meet- Actually, it wasn’t that bad. I had a headache for a couple of days, but now I’m used to waking up without caffeine. And I never really drank it at night anyway 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Good for you–staying strong! And finishing the draft! I had to laugh at: “I’d gotten into a habit of having a bit of ice cream in the evening after tucking the boys in their beds. A reward for successfully surviving another day.”–Is this a universal mom thing, or what? Yes, me too! (Only girls, not boys, but a reward for the same reason.) And this quote is terrific: “Lead us not into temptation. Just tell us where it is; we’ll find it.” – Sam Levenson
    Best of luck on the radio today!!!! I’ll try to listen, but if you’re like me, knowing someone you “know” is listening will make you more nervous, so I’ll probably forget. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congrats! 🎉 Awesome and good for you with the eating (or cutting back on) thing. That doesn’t work for me. My scale talks, too, though. Hey, a friend just recommended that same book to me! (Coincidence?) 😉

    Good luck tonight. Have fun. Will tune in.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Good work on seeing those magic words appear on your screen! And also on avoiding the temptation of fall. I love Greek yogurt and find it a very good substitute for sweeter, more sinful treats. And it’s more satisfying, too. Then again, diabetes notwithstanding, I’ve never really had much of a sweet tooth so it’s probably easier for me to stick with the yogurt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was surprised how well the yogurt has served as a stand in. The only problem we are having is that Kiddo is a strawberry fiend and keeps raiding my supply before lights out. We’ve had to switch to raspberries just to throw him off.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We were buying Fage but have been getting the generic alternative lately instead considering we mix it up with the honey, berries, and dash of cinnamon. Do you have a favorite to recommend? I’m open to suggestions.

        Like

      • I’ve actually done quite a bit of internet sleuthing and have been trying all the top-recommended brands this past month. In fact, we’re having a blind Greek yogurt taste test at work on Monday. Never thought I’d type that sentence, by the way! Fage is really good (and nutritionally one of the best choices). I am torn between Wallaby Organic, Stonyfield Farms, and Blue Isle. We’ll see which one prevails next week!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. You really do tell a good yarn, you should so write non-fiction you know. Your philosophical insights on life the universe and every thing in between always make me smile and think. I could read a book of it and come out knowing something more about myself. Or perhaps, that is because we are similar?

    Love your will power – love the analogy, you are so right, we’re lucky though, for some people a splinter isn’t enough, they need great tree trunks not to break. Like you said, our splinters have sharp edges, one false move, one bite of a cookie or one day with no writing and its stabbing you in places you’d really rather it didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “Lead us not into temptation. Just tell us where it is; we’ll find it.” – Sam Levenson
    Ha ha ha. Congrats, Allie, on your 2nd draft and your resolve about eating healthier! I find the arguments with the scale are never-ending as a writer. Happy Writing

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congrats on finishing the draft. I’m curious how long you let a draft sit before you start the revision. I find that I can’t just jump right in and start the revision as soon as I finish. I work on a different project for a while and then get back to it when I can see it with fresh eyes. Do you do the same?

    And congrats on the willpower. I so, so struggle with food. It’s awful. I love to exercise, but have such a problem giving up the sugar. I do well for a while (like a month) and then I slip back into nibbling. And then the nibbles turn into binges. It’s awful. Even though I know it makes me feel like crap. And even though (I’ve discovered) I can totally tell how much sugar and refined carbs I’ve been eating by counting how many pimples I have. Ughhhh. I’ve come to the conclusion that my best strategy is to not have the stuff in my house. . . . not easy to do since I find myself frequently needing to bake cookies for some sort of school event or party I’m hosting or whatever. And then, of course, there’s always leftovers. . . . which, of course, end up calling to me from the freezer for days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t wait too long in between. I write linearly and as I’ve been writing this draft for so long, there has been plenty of time since I last visited the beginning for the opening to sit. One day I hope to write more rapidly, and will likely do the same as you, but I am a long way from that day at the moment.

      Ugh – the nibbles are the absolute worst! I used a fitbit for a while immediately following the birth of my second kid and was stunned how much those nibbles add up when you force yourself to code everything. The upside of this latest hmmm… let’s call it refocusing rather than diet, has been I found that I am not experiencing nearly the amount of indigestion at night that I was before. As much as I love food (and I DO!) I love sleep too, so if skipping a donut now and then is going to help me get extra hour of shut eye, it’s a worthy sacrifice.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I totally agree. I have so much trouble actually sleeping through the night, even when my kids don’t wake me up. As much as I love sugar….sleep would be such a good incentive to give it up.

        And it’s interesting what you said about your not waiting between drafts. I’ve only been working on short stories and haven’t tried a novel in a very long time. I think if I were working on a novel, I’d probably be writing linearly too, and with the time it would take me to get to the end…I probably would needn’t to set it aside like I do my stories. Good point!

        Liked by 1 person

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