22 January, 2011

A Week's Worth of Sweets Denied

Once you decide to quit doing something, it becomes very clear just how much you were doing it.  Since I've given up sugar, it seems like I confront temptation every single day.  It doesn't just seem that way - it is that way.  That's because before I gave up sweets in November, I ate sugary foods and drank sugary drinks every single day. 

I decided that it would be interesting to document just how much sugar I'm giving up.  A week is a good amount of time, so I wrote down every single thing I would have eaten if I wasn't doing this crazy no-sugar-challenge. 

Remember, this is no "special" week - it's not filled with special events, holidays, or even any unusually stressful events.  It's just a plain old week for me (when I'm not on a diet, which is most of the time).

  • Friday:
    • Starbucks on Fridays:  One tall Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks.
    • Breakfast Club at the office:  Dunkin Donuts.  One around 9am and  a second around 10:30.
    • Oh man, I forgot it was January birthday month!  Cake and vanilla ice cream at 2:30.  By now I have grumble-tummy, but that doesn't stop me.
    • Dinner:  my husband and I decide to get soup at Paradise Bakery.  This place is pure evil - they have the most fantastic cookies and they are buy one get one free - so you literally can't just have one!  They are big enough to split one, but because we get one free, I'd eat a whole one.
  • Saturday:
    • Dinner party:  raspberry vinegarette on the salad and for dessert, apple crumble w/ vanilla ice cream AND freshly baked cupcakes.  Probably would have split a cupcake with my husband.
  • Sunday:
    • Went to yoga - deserve a Strawberry Vivanno from Starbucks
    • Stopped at Cost Plus, husband got a Crunchie...I would have gotten one too.
  • Monday
    • Holiday-no work!  Went hiking - deserve a Caramel Macchiato and Blueberry scone from Starbucks
  • Tuesday
    • Back to work...stayed 'till 7:30pm :-(  Needed some chocolate - candy from vending machine!
  • Wednesday
    • A mostly sugar-free day!  Perhaps an afternoon Diet Pepsi (still has artificial sweeteners, though)
  • Thursday
    • Late at work...hungry so grabbed a Fiber One bar out of my co-workers desk (thanks, Amy!)
  • All week
    • On non-Starbucks days, regular coffee with sugar

Turns out that in this particular week, I gave up approximately 400 grams of sugar and around 3,600 calories.  This is very interesting because, in case you didn't know, you need to eat 3,500 extra calories in order to gain one pound of weight.  No wonder I've easily lost 10 pounds in the last two months! 

I encourage anyone who suspects that they may be eating too much sugar to do an experiment like I did.  You might be shocked at how many "empty" calories you are consuming.  It is so easy to eat too much sugar because of how sugar acts in your body...more on that another time.


16 January, 2011

I've Always TRIED to Be Healthy

I was very pleased this weekend when I got a phone call from my mom - she was calling to make sure she had all of the ingredients to make a green smoothie!  (Also, she confirmed that she liked the smoothie I made for her while she was out here visiting and she wasn't just pretending to be nice).

While my family was out here, I also introduced them to quinoa - and my sister actually enjoyed it!  To put this into context - my sister likes Yoo-hoo, cold hot dogs straight from the package, and scrapple (if you don't know what it is Google it).  On a side-note, check out this article about Yoo-hoo.  Conclusion?  This Frankenfood should come with a warning label!

So my mom also called to make sure she remembered the name of that wonderful couscous-like super food.  It makes me so happy to hear that my parents are eating healthier and that my sister is open to some different foods like quinoa. 

I hope that throughout this year I can learn more about what I'm putting into my body, and that I can share that information with my friends, family, and anyone else who is interested in good health.  

There is one thing that I'm beginning to realize:  you can't do healthy "part-time".  What do I mean by that?  Can you eat dessert and still be healthy?  Yes.  But can you exercise sporadically, eat well only 50% of the time, keep an extra 30 pounds of weight on, and still be healthy?  NO. 

Even though in the past, I've tried to eat right, exercise, and keep my weight in an acceptable range, it wasn't good enough.  My body doesn't know the difference between my good intentions and reality.  In reality, I've been 10 pounds overweight, my digestive system was over-worked, and while my body was craving nutrients, I was giving it sugar.  No wonder I felt like crap all of the time!


08 January, 2011

Benefits of Living Sugar Free

People have asked me why I would intentionally deny myself the pleasure of indulging in sweets (in moderation, of course).  Generally, sane people do not engage in unpleasant activities which do not provide some kind of payoff.  A few examples of unpleasant activities and their related payoffs:
  • Marathons (I personally challenge the sanity of these individuals, but for argument's sake, let's ignore my opinion) - "runner's high" and feeling of accomplishment
  • Desk jobs - money
  • Going to the dentist/flossing - you get to keep your teeth longer
  • Cleaning the house - you feel more comfortable in your home and visitors are impressed with your cleanliness
  • Cutting spending - feelings of security; you get to spend more later
  • Having babies - I'll get back to you on this one
Now I'm not saying I'm completely sane, but for me giving up sugar for a year is perfectly rational.  I eat sweets because they give me pleasure.  Chocolate makes me happy at 3pm on a Wednesday when all I can think about is shutting down my computer and going home.  Ice cream makes me smile, well, pretty much any time I eat it.  (I swear, if it were socially acceptable to eat ice cream for breakfast, I would.  Weird, you say?  When's the last time you had a doughnut before 9 am?  I rest my case).

After a month and a half without sugar I have noticed some pretty significant and positive side effects.  I hope one of those side effects will eventually include the elimination of cravings, but it hasn't happened yet (and I suspect the reason for that is white flour, but that's another topic entirely).

Benefits I've Noticed Since Giving up Sweets:
  1. No energy crashes - since this happens after eating sugar, I don't have them anymore
  2. Feelings of accomplishment - I've never been able to abstain from sugar for very long
  3. Lovely Poos - sugar wreaks havoc on the digestive system, and part two of this area...
  4. Gas is gone - no more grumble-tummy; bloat is neither comfortable nor feminine
  5. Clear skin - I don't have 4 Mt. Everests growing on my jawline every few weeks
  6. No guilt - whenever I overate (and it was always on sweets) I hated myself for it
  7. Less hunger - eating sugar makes you hungry more frequently; since quitting sweets, I don't need snacks between meals, unless I didn't eat very much at my regular mealtime
  8. Weight loss - finally, the one you've been waiting for...yes I have lost weight and I wasn't really trying.  I haven't even been working out!  But I plan to get back into the habit very soon.  I tracked my weight loss since I began my no-sugar journey and I made a chart.  8.5 pounds may not sound like a big deal to some, but when you consider that I started out at only 3 pounds over the "normal" range for my build, it's pretty impressive.
Has anyone else given up sugar and noticed benefits?  Let me know -  I'd love to hear about your experiences!