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Must Be Sugar on the Brain

April 1st – UGG…why did I start this challenge…? I don’t feel prepared! I feel rushed  like it might be too much effort to pre-prepare foods as my kitchen has plenty of fast “kid-friendly” treats…which do the trick when you’re in a hurry…and who isn’t in a hurry?  I made some sugar free oatmeal and coffee and went to the studio.  After teaching a couple of reformer classes I was SUPER Hungry so I headed off to Whole Foods to get the right stuff so I wouldn’t cheat.  Shopping list: green veggies such as zucchini noodles (already prepped because I live for convenience); green pepper, salad greens, including broccoli, sweet onion, plain Greek Yogurt, apples, lemon for flavoring water and sugar free drinks, avocado, chicken breast, salmon, pre-cooked chicken strips and coconut oil.  Then I shopped for more kid-friendly stuff because my daughter let me know that under-no-circumstances would she be doing the 10-day sugar free challenge (she’s 12 and has a mind of her own!)

Day 1 – Went OK, but it was the weekend.  By Saturday night I was craving something sugary as I watched an episode of Homeland.  Ordinarily I would have a glass of wine, while I catch up on my favorite shows…this didn’t happen, but I didn’t feel that I missed the wine.  I actually thought that after a day of eating healthy foods, the wine would not feel good and may feel somewhat sickening…interesting…

Day 2 – Started out OK.  I got up SUPER early to go the skating rink with my daughter.  I noticed I really wasn’t hungry until much later in the day.  I had a couple of brown rice cakes (no sugar, the very dry and tasteless kind) and put some no added sugar almond butter on them.  It was filling.  Later in the day I made a scrambled egg wrap which was filling.  I did well following the plan all day. However, again by evening I was SUPER craving something sugary and when I realized I wasn’t that hungry and that it was my brain telling me I “needed” something sweet, I started to feel surprisingly anxious.

Day 3 – I woke up with a terrible headache and feeling a little bit anxious.  Not sure if this is sugar related, however it wouldn’t surprise me.  I have noticed in the past that when I have changed my dietary habits for weight loss or health, I have felt some anxiety.   It made me think about how closely our emotions are linked with food.  Food is about a lot more than satiating hunger.  It’s how we nurture and care for ourselves and others.  It’s social.  It is connected to how we were nurtured as infants and children…sorry to get deep here… Also, I am noticing that I would really like refined sugar this morning…not happening…I am doing this…(sigh)!

Day 4– Day 4 really stinks.  I had a tough day and realized I wanted a sugary ice coffee and chocolate chip cookie to feel better.  After getting really upset with our current landlord (we are moving soon…fingers crossed) …I really wanted a glass of wine…all of these are on the naughty list for 6 more days…. ugh…

Day 5– Woke up craving sugar again even though I didn’t really feel hungry. I noticed I was a little dehydrated so I decided to focus on drinking lots of water today.  The headache is less than yesterday, but still there.  Yesterday was tough…a SUPER long day and I really craved sugar ALL DAY…something that I give into a lot and justify because I workout all the time when I teach…But, I’m realizing that even though I have believed my habits are healthy…they really aren’t if I am totally weak and cave in when it comes to packaged treats.  My down-fall is the kid-friendly stuff in the house, that I will reach for when I need quick energy, believing I will burn it off.  I definitely noticed that as I am getting older that is NOT the case and I think the sugar is stored as fat in all the WRONG places.  Onward….

Day 6 – Woke up Ok, but later in the day I was SUPER hungry and nothing seemed appealing.  I had that let’s start the weekend early feeling on a Thursday night and badly wanted a sugary celebratory treat or glass of wine to celebrate a lot of hard work and making it through another week…(sigh).  I was in a super bad mood the evening before and went to bed early and very cranky, but today is much better.  I had wraps all day and no bread, I ate quite a bit of fruit to get natural sugar.  Drank a lot of herbal tea which so far proves to be the best to curb cravings.  I have been drinking apple cinnamon spice Celestial Seasonings Tea, which sort of tricks your mind that you are having a treat…sort of…  A much better habit than cheese and crackers or popcorn with a glass of Pinot… (bummer but good to realize).  Cooking has been the saving grace.  It’s all about planning, there is no way to do this on the run…which we always seem to be!

Day 7- So happy this thing is almost over, but today I’m feeling more in control of what I will eat and not so anxious about it.  It’s the weekend, but luckily, I will be SO BUSY I think this thing might be OK…and I won’t self-sabotage.  Although weight-loss isn’t the goal, I did lose 1-pound the last few days…I must really be affected by too much sugar!  Scary, I’m thinking insulin-resistance is most likely a factor for me.

Day 8 –  Facing the weekend without the usual rewards.  I’m thinking about how addictive sugar is and how closely linked to a “reward system” it is for me…which reinforces which is known to reinforce addiction in general. In fact, when the body and brain become addicted to drugs, nicotine or alcohol, it affects the brain’s “reward” circuit, which is part of the limbic-system.  Normally, the reward circuit responds to feelings of pleasure by releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine.  Could it be sugar on the brain?

Day 9 –  I feel pretty good, kept busy and did not have time to think about grabbing a handful of sugary snacks, crackers, or the usual assortment of vending machine food at the skating rink (my home away from home and studio).  I weighed-in this morning and noticed I lost 3 pounds which really surprises me as I did not count calories in any way shape or form, just gave up the junky stuff (even the 100-calorie packaged “healthy” options…you know the ones).

Day 10 – I feel really good, less fatigued, and more in-control of my cravings and habits.  I am not cranky, anxious or moody.  Oddly, I feel like it will be easy to limit packaged food as it seems unappealing and artificial – something that felt impossible a few days ago.  I am struck by the change in how I feel. I notice on Day-10 that when hungry, I find myself seeking whole or real foods and the idea of packaged food is a bit stomach turning as I think of the crash that follows a junky snack.  I am hoping to make this a permanent change moving forward.  I’ve set a personal goal to strictly limit artificial snacks and limit all forms of added sugar…onward.

In Good Health~

Leslie

WellBarre Studio

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