Quitting Sugar, Week 3

This has been the week I was waiting for. The week when it would all start to click, when I would have my “aha” moment, when the frustration of the past fourteen days would finally seem worthwhile. I really feel a change within myself, and without.

This week also saw me face, and pass, my biggest test to date – cottaging with friends for the August long weekend.

Day 15

I checked in with my personal trainer today to get a new workout and have my measurements taken. While there were some minor improvements, I hadn’t progressed as much as I had expected. But I feel really good and my clothes definitely fit a little better, so that’s really what matters.

I had a smoothie on the 2 hour bus ride there (yes you heard right, two hours, but seeing her is worth the trip) and a protein shake and apple on the way home. Dinner was a spinach salad, some avocado toast, and fresh fava bean stew. I felt pretty bloated after that, but then again… beans. ‘Nuff said. I bought half a bushel of favas this week from the farmer’s market and spent a good hour shelling them, after which my hands were raw but my heart full of satisfaction.

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I had two fresh dates to satisfy my sweet tooth after dinner, even though Conor’s nutella was literally screaming my name, and a grapefruit later in the evening, which again was beyond incredible. I’m really impressed that I’ve managed to completely avoid the nutella trap since starting this process. Even though there are some days where I feel like I’d give up my own firstborn for a few spoonfuls, it’s actually been fairly easy to avoid because I know that having refined sugar will undo all the work I’ve put into cleansing my system. One bite will just make me want another, and another, and another, whereas I can have some fruit or a piece of chocolate and feel satisfied.

Day 16

It feels like this is getting easier and easier. I think if I had to overhaul my whole diet this would be a horrific challenge, but since my meals are really well-balanced and nutrient dense already, I just feel better and better each day. I’m just eating what I normally would, but I get to eat a little more of it! And I’m becoming used to the feeling of being just the right amount of full after a meal, rather than eating to that point and then going beyond it with dessert. I used to always feel so stuffed and bloated after doing that, I think I began to confuse being too full with being properly full. It’s really wonderful to feel this light after meals – no tiredness, no brain fog, just pure energy.

Breakfast was a green smoothie (pretty typical, obvious by now I’m sure). I then had more fava bean stew with salad for lunch before hitting the gym for one last workout before the cottage. After the gym I wasn’t particularly hungry so I just had some oatmeal with fresh berries, dried mulberries, a sprinkle of chia and hemp seeds, and a tablespoon of almond butter. Pretty simple, but mega satisfying. I can’t be the only one who loves breakfast at dinner, right?

Day 17-19 (Cottage Weekend)

Every year I look forward to this 4-day getaway with an equal mix of excitement and trepidation. I know I’ll enjoy myself, of course. Good food, great friends, plenty of sun – what’s not to love? But I also know it will be a weekend of excess. I always start things off with good intentions, but by the end of the trip I’m snacking, largely indiscriminately, on chips and candy, stuffed with veggie burgers, and virtually drowning in sangria. It then takes me weeks to work off the inevitable weight gain from those four days of ‘freedom.’

Not so this year. This year I not only kept to my goal of avoiding sugary treats and drinks, I exceeded all expectations by eating just as healthfully as I would at home. I’m really, really proud of myself.

You might be wondering how I accomplished this feat of willpower, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take some planning, but otherwise it was surprisingly easy. The longer I do this, the less I want to go back to my old ways. I have been exercising my willpower for the last two weeks now, and just like any other muscle, the harder you work it, the stronger it becomes. I don’t think I would have been this successful if we had gone on this trip two weeks ago. Moreover, eating sugar makes you hungrier and crave less nutritious foods, so avoiding it meant I was able to maintain a normal appetite. I had no desire to eat too much or to eat junk that I wouldn’t normally touch at home. The single concession I made this weekend was to have some gluten free pancakes with literally a drop of maple syrup on top. No sweets, no candy, no ice cream. Crazy!

The Plan

  1. Shop for and prepare meals ahead of time.

I went to my organic grocery store and loaded up on fruits, veggies, and healthy snacks so that I wouldn’t be stuck choosing from the limited options in cottage country. I then made a large raw pad thai salad (undressed), a couple different salad dressings, and some pasta sauce, and individually packed all the supplements I regularly take – digestive enzymes, probiotics, fiber, and protein powder. On the day of I then packed these along with all the groceries so I had lots of healthy meal options to choose from. 

      2.   No Wine, No Cocktails

I’m certainly not swearing off wine for good, but its high sugar content never fails to leave me feeling bloated, and four days of that is just too much. And the usual run of cocktails are just a no, for obvious reasons. But I’ve found that a simple mixture of gin, club soda, and fresh lime juice is both light and refreshing – the perfect summer drink. I was able to have it all weekend with no problems, and without feeling deprived. 

      3.   Exercise

That’s right, exercise at the cottage. I always dreaded missing my workouts for such a long time but never actually did anything about it. But since I’ve started running and bought myself a suspension trainer, I can work out anytime, anywhere. Granted, my run was cut short by the literal HORDE of mosquitos that were attracted to all that heavy breathing, but I was able to get in a decent TRX session by the lake (sans bugs) and work up a great appetite in time for breakfast. Plus I felt incredible after. No hangover for me! 

 

As a result of taking these steps and planning ahead, the weekend ended up being full of fresh fruits and salads, grilled fish, and barbecued veggies. It was pretty amazing. For the first time in my life I went on a trip without feeling constantly bloated, and for the first time in two years I wore a bikini comfortably. This is huge for me. I basically haven’t worn a bathing suit in two years, and certainly never directly after eating a meal. I did both of those things this weekend, and I felt so incredibly liberated. All of the frustrating moments of the past two weeks have been worthwhile just for that feeling.

Days 20-21

These two days were really just more of the same, along with a bit of recovery from the weekend. I did allow myself to enjoy some raw vegan tiramisu from Live Organic Food Bar, but at only 7 grams of sugar derived from mashed up dates, it’s hardly an indulgence I need to feel bad about. Indeed, I felt great after, and suffered no additional sugar cravings.

 

And that wraps up Week 3! They say it takes 21 days to build a new habit, and that rule seems to be holding true. While I am certainly kicking my sugar habit to the curb, I am developing new, healthier ones in the process, and am finally seeing my hard work come to fruition.

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