Category Archives: Healthy eating

New Year, New You!

This is the mantra I’m seeing all over the place these days.  It’s a time of resolutions where I will typically write down goals for the year.  However, again this year, I only have 4. They feel doable and not overwhelming. In the past, I would write 20 goals and it was ridiculous.  Thankfully, wisdom comes with age.

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Mostly because I’ve been doing some self-reflection on my life. Last year, as you know, I went off sugar for 3 straight months. It was fantastic! I felt great, lost a lot of weight and was doing well.  Then I started in the on the sugar again and it all came back. That’s when I decided, enough is a enough.  I am done with diets.  They work, don’t get me wrong, but they are not sustainable for me.   Yes, not eating sugar and flour is fantastic for your health and if you stay off it, you’d probably be in the best shape of your life.  The problem for us emotional eaters, is that there are emotions involved and because they can be pretty strong, it’s not that simple.  I have always believed in the 80/20 rule and decided, it’s time I apply it to all aspects of my life.

I want to live my life, not be so focused on my weight. This topic has taken the majority of my brain power too long and for too many years.  I want to enjoy my life. To do that, I have to give up this obsession with losing weight.  Instead, how about feeling good now.  In the past, I would get anxious thinking about doing that because does it mean I don’t care? How could I be perceived as not caring? I look in the mirror everyday.  But that’s just it, I am caring about myself if I’m focused on being happy.  If I’m happy, I’m more likely to take care of my body and enjoy myself along the way…

What’s better than that?

Let’s Listen to our Bodies!

Lately, I’ve been listening and reading a lot about health, psychology and wellness.  This is what I do in my free time because I love the subject so much and I’m one to look at all angles and ask, “What makes the most sense?”

There is so much information out there, most of it garbage.  It’s no wonder our society has no idea what to believe about food, health and wellness. One day you’ll hear, ‘Eggs are bad for you, too much cholesterol’.  The other day, I just saw in a magazine an article about how eggs are good for you and the old premise was debunked.  Go figure!

All these years I’ve been following diets and dieting advice. Eat dairy, don’t eat dairy. Eat meat, don’t eat meat.  Eat grains, don’t eat grains.  The list goes on and on.  Then people get into the minutia to say, well you can eat this fruit but not that fruit because its high on the glycemic index.  Whew, to keep up with all this is a full time job and honestly, I’ve turned in my resignation.

We have, as a society, become so obsessed with this stuff that the average person doesn’t know what to believe.  And this is where I had to say, enough is enough. It’s time to get back to basics. What is our body telling us? Have we ever stopped to think about that? When was the last time, you actually sat down without distractions to eat and felt your body signals? Did you feel when it was telling you it was full? How about when it was telling you the food you ate didn’t agree with you?  I can honestly say because I believed and followed these ‘programs’ for so many years, it brought me SO far away from trusting my own instincts that I don’t even know what my body is telling me.  I have relied on diet programs to tell me. That’s honestly quite pathetic.

It’s time we take our power back. It’s time we start to really learn to listen to ourselves, trust ourselves and our bodies. These bodies are amazing, they heal themselves if you remove all the resistance and negative thinking.  If a body can heal itself from cancer, can’t we trust it to tell us how to eat?

Can I Eat Sugar Again? Ever?

This past week was pretty busy. I had a lot going on at home with school starting, I still have family in town and work.  I wasn’t on top of my eating as much as I wanted to be but I didn’t go crazy either. I had a birthday which was a lot of fun.  And, drum roll please…. I had a child size cup of my favorite ice cream!! Yes, I did, I admit it. I debated for days whether I should or shouldn’t but in the end, I decided to have it.  It had been over 80 days being off sugar, flour and corn.  I thought to myself, can I eat sugar again? Ever? I thought about it for a long time, but let me tell you, that ice cream was the best ice cream I have ever had! When I was done, I didn’t have any urge to eat more and I still haven’t had the urge to eat ice cream since. I went back to eating the way I have been and it’s like nothing happened.

I was hesitant to do it, because in the past, I had situations where I abstained from sugar/flour and when I ate it again, I overate it for weeks on end.  This time, I felt so different. I was thankful for having some but I didn’t go overboard and I was okay.  It felt amazing. I now know my approach to health is changing. I can have the control and freedom to decide without my body dictating what to eat because of serious cravings.  It’s a such a relief to feel this way and I’m grateful.

When I was on previous programs, I would eat foods I liked making sure I kept within my calories for the day. Of course, I didn’t pick vegetables and lean proteins. No, I was picking things like low fat ice cream, bars and mostly processed foods. It wouldn’t fill me up and I can’t say I was healthy either.  The difference this time, is that I am eating more protein and veggies then I ever have and I can physically feel the difference. I’m not craving, I’m not having the afternoon crash nor the evening pull to grab Ben & Jerry’s. This time around, I stop eating when I’m done.  That type of self-control is what I’ve been searching for all my life!

I was reading a comment on someone’s blog the other day and this guy kept saying overweight people should take responsibility, stop overeating because it’s all their fault.  Here’s my response to that type of comment: I agree, we have to take responsibility and our power back to address our health. That is true.  However, there is a physical component (read Salt Sugar Fat: Michael Moss) that has to be addressed as well. I’ve heard people say it takes 3 days to rid yourself of sugar cravings. I can tell you from experience that once you do remove the physical component, then you feel more confident about making a difference in your health.  It’s because you are not feeling those physical cravings that cause failure so quickly when on most diets.  I believe when you restrict your calories but yet still eat sugar and processed foods, you remain very hungry and those feelings of deprivation set in.

If you are a sugar addict like I was, getting off completely for just 6-8 weeks clears your body of those toxins and cravings. You start to feel so much better and your mind works better too. When you are in this clearer state, you can start to change how you think about your health and food.  It’s not about a diet, it’s about starting to look at your health differently. You know yourself better than anyone. You know what foods you crave and are ‘trigger’ foods for you. If sugar is a trigger, getting off is going to be a whole new world to you. It’s going to show you how sugar affects your body and how those cravings cause overeating.  Once you remove the physical component, it’s much easier to eat healthier. It’s much easier to focus on exercise because you feel differently.

Some believe moderation is not possible and others think it is. Only you can decide what works for you. For me, if I continue eating the majority of the time, natural, whole foods and occasionally (like on special occasions like it’s meant to be eaten) have treats, I believe it doesn’t have to throw me into a tail spin. Because I already established good habits to keep me on track, I can go immediately back to those habits.  I don’t expect to be 100% perfect (that was the old me) but how about 75-80%? I think that is definitely possible!

 

 

60 Days off Sugar and Flour

Wow, it’s hard to believe it’s been 60 Days!! It has flown by. In that time, I have learned a lot about myself and new habits I’ve picked up along the way that when continued, will keep me healthy.  It’s been an interesting ride and I feel better than I’ve felt in years.  But I know I can feel even better and that’s what keeps me going forward.

The biggest change, I no longer experience that underlying ‘anxiety’ (for lack of a better word) on a daily basis.  This anxiety was background noise that continued to hinder my ability to focus and move forward.  It feels so nice to be able to relax and just enjoy the moment.  Enjoying the moment is something I’m not used to doing. I tended to focus on the future.  “It will be better when this happens…” was my mantra instead of saying, “I’m enjoying the moment right now.”  It’s a shift in thinking.  Because I no longer experience the ‘anxiousness’ feeling, I have room in my brain, to calm down and focus on what’s important.

The other word that comes to mind is ‘freedom’.  Those who are or have been addicted to sugar and flour know what I’m talking about.  It’s that feeling of needing sugar/flour to feel better and the days are focused on the next meal to the point where it almost becomes an obsession.  In these last 60 days, those feelings have disappeared and I’m amazed!  I didn’t realize how strong they were until I began this journey and documented the changes.  The sad part is when I was in the middle of it, I accepted it as normal because I didn’t have any other frame of reference.  I just assumed I was doomed to feel that way for life.  Now I realize, it never has to be that way and I’m so grateful to have experienced this now.  But like I said earlier, I know it can get even better!  60 Days off Sugar and Flour

Lastly, one of the learnings I’ve had along the way was my focus. In the past, my focus has always been on how to lose weight and keep it off. That’s why I tried so many diets and worked out excessively. Losing weight was the focus because that’s what I thought would work and what other women were doing.  The result was failed diets and a cycle of weight loss/weight gain that threw my whole body out of whack.  As a result, I grew more and more hopeless because I thought I had tried everything to lose weight but wasn’t able to sustain it. Little did I know, I was focused on the wrong thing!! If we want our society to be healthy, why are we studying disease?? Why not focus on health? Same with weight, why are we focusing so much on losing weight instead of focusing on living a healthy life?  Focusing on losing weight has lead to extreme dieting, eating disorders and even death.  Obviously, this is the wrong approach. I was focused on it for 20 years and still wasn’t successful.  What’s wrong with that picture?

The focus has to be on living a healthy life by eating the right foods, performing enjoyable exercise (which isn’t a chore) and being kind to myself. To me, that’s a healthy life, it’s also freedom.  It all comes down to the thoughts we think.  By choosing healthy thoughts, I can continue to feel good no matter what’s happening around me.  That’s the key to happiness, freedom and peace. That’s the life I want to live and if this is a glimpse into that life, I can’t wait to see more of it!    60 Days off Sugar and Flour

The Ups and Downs of this Journey

It’s been an interesting few weeks. I contracted a cold, which I haven’t had in years.  My skin all of the sudden became inflamed and itchy.  I couldn’t figure it out.  I have been eating well for over 50 days now and yet for some reason, these things appeared. I’m thinking my body is just ridding itself of toxins, but I’m not sure.  My focus these past couple of weeks has been on getting better and healing.

Last week, we went on a road trip.  Eating out required planning ahead and looking online at menus to decide which would be the best choices.  Overall, I did well.  However, when I got home, we went out for dinner one night and while I ordered fish, I also ordered sweet potato fries. I know it was because I waited too long to eat and I didn’t plan ahead. One big learning, if I wait too long I feel vulnerable to the negative thoughts of giving up. In this case, I had the thought, I want sweet potato friends and I’m going to eat them. Because I was hungry and tired, these thoughts were strong and prevailed over my ‘logical self’.

The next day, I got back on track and started eating what I planned for the day and I felt much better about it. But lately, I have been craving carbs and that’s a sign the sugar is calling.  It’s important to keep moving forward and continuing to plan ahead the healthy foods I’m going to eat. I also plan to pick out some interesting recipes I can look forward to eating so I don’t get bored eating the same things every day.

 

 

I continue to learn about myself, habits and how my body works.  I do well planning ahead instead of leaving it up to circumstances where I’m more likely to binge on unhealthy foods.  I’m so grateful though that I’m not overeating or have the ‘urge’ to overeat in the afternoons and at night. Even after eating the sweet potato fries, it didn’t set me up to binge on sugar and flour. It was easy to regroup which is a different then what I’ve experienced in the past. Typically, I would go off and binge for days.

One thing I’m exploring is my thoughts and focus throughout this journey.  I believe no matter what, if I focus on health and being at the perfect weight, things will change. Instead of focusing on ‘good vs. bad’ foods and focusing more on health, I believe my life with change dramatically. I’m testing the theory out now.  In the past, my focus has always been ‘losing weight’ and I’m not sure if that was the right focus.  I think now, it’s more about health.  More to come on this as I go through this journey. For now, I’m thankful I could share with you these experiences that are evolving me as a person while also transforming how I approach health and wellness.

5 Things That’s Changed Since Being Off Sugar & Flour

It’s been 39 days off sugar and flour and there are some significant changes I’ve witness so far I wanted to share with you.  It amazes me how fast these changes have occurred.

  1. Improved sleep – 2 months ago I was complaining about my sleep.  I just couldn’t get comfortable at night and sleeping through the night was rare.  At times, I found myself waking up abruptly (which may have been sleep apnea) and I snored.  For the past few weeks, I haven’t woken myself up and sleeping has been much more comfortable.  I can’t believe how much better I’ve been feeling during the day because I had a decent night of sleep.
  2. Self-control – this is an interesting one. I’ve blogged in the past how much I’ve been very hard on myself repeatedly about not controlling my eating in the afternoons and at night. These last few weeks have been eye-opening.  I haven’t felt a physical craving since the first week.  The biggest test was when I spent hours decorating my son’s birthday cake (cake was a huge trigger food for me) and not one thing went into my mouth.  I didn’t even have one urge to take a bite! Unheard of in the past!
  3. Clear & focused thinking – I blogged about a time at work where I had to give a big presentation and rocked it. Now this doesn’t seem out of the ordinary but in the last few years, I’ve noticed differences with my memory and quick thinking.  It never seemed an issue in the past, but I couldn’t deny it was slowly impacting things in my life and it started to bother me more and more.  Today, I’m remembering things and can quickly focus on tasks rather then feeling ‘all over the place’.
  4. Calmer disposition – This one follows the one above because I believe having focus and clarity leads to a calmer life.  I can’t tell you how much I experienced anxiety over stupid stuff (not getting somewhere on time, etc).  I noticed a dramatic change just the other day when a ‘stressful’ situation came up, I was able to take a moment to think clearly instead of impulsively taking action.  Even my family noticed this change!
  5. More energy – Finally, I definitely have more energy to do things. I have been up later and doing more then ever.  Typically, I would zone out after dinner on the couch with ice cream. Now I’m getting ready for the next day, cooking a full dinner or finishing things on my ‘to do’ list. It feels nice to have the energy to get things done instead of having them linger.  A huge plus as I move into this next month.

Overall, I can say this has been the best experience for me. I feel so much better.  Have I lost weight? Yes, but it’s more than that. Having self-control is the most liberating.  Feeling better about my focus and thoughts helps too.  I’m not saying there are going to be tough times, in fact I was just talking to a friend about traveling this weekend and making sure I prepare ahead because eating on the road has been an issue for me in the past.

Losing weight in our society is not easy.  We are hit constantly by food ads and fast food places, it’s overwhelming.  It takes time and effort to be healthy.  But my decision to do this for myself is a priority and there isn’t any other way but to take the time and effort to plan ahead.  Next week will be good test to see how I do on the road. More to come!

 

Progress Fuels Motivation

Progress Fuels Motivation.  It’s been 18 days since I’ve eaten any sugar or flour.  It feels good. The first 10 days were tough. I had headaches, pains and strange things going on with my body. Although now, I feel a lot better.  If I drink caffeine though, I don’t sleep as well and I can feel it the next day.  I’m still somewhat tired in the afternoons but I don’t experience the typical sugar crash which leads to eating carbs or sugar.  I’m not experiencing cravings either which feels great. The key for me is I have to eat all that I planned to eat for the day otherwise I’m hungry and that’s when I can get into trouble.

Yes, I’ve lost about 7 lbs so far and there have been a couple of people at work mentioning it to me which I was surprised given it’s not really dramatic, yet.  Their compliments made my day and it feels good physically as well.

However, here’s what really hit me hard.  Yesterday, I had to present to ~80 ppl.  Typically, these types of events cause me to stress beforehand to the point where I can’t focus on anything else. But yesterday, I prepared ahead, went through the presentation material and felt really good. What really made such an impact on me was my brain. We’ve all heard a poor nutritional diet causes brain-fog, and I was the poster child for this symptom for years. I’ve had brain fog for a while but it didn’t really impact much when I was younger so I didn’t think it was a big deal (a.k.a. I was in denial).

I knew I was smart, but there would be times where neurons weren’t firing correctly and I wasn’t thinking fast enough to articulate what I needed to say. It was frustrating but I brushed it off because it wasn’t such an issue then.  However, after hitting 40, I noticed it more and more. As a result, I started not trusting my ability to articulate or think clearly. I know that sounds crazy but it’s the truth. I was very hard on myself and I knew deep down inside it was related to my poor diet of sugar and processed foods. I didn’t want to admit it because I was so addicted to those foods and didn’t want to give them up. In the meantime, my self worth was going down fast because I wasn’t processing mentally like I used to and yet I was denying the truth. It’s like a car that ages and if you continue to abuse it by not servicing it, going for oil changes or using the correct octane of gas, it deteriorates slowly.  You don’t notice because it’s slow, until one day when it breaks down.  It’s the same thing with our bodies. Most of us don’t focus on it until the doctor comes to give a diagnosis and we’re sitting there saying, ‘How did this happen?’ when in reality, we know what caused it.  Years of abusing our bodies.

Yesterday proved to me yet another reason why eating a healthy diet is so important (not that I didn’t know this already, but actually ‘KNOWING’ it is something different).   I was confident going into the presentation.  Thoughts came to me easily, I felt comfortable about what I was saying and honestly, those in the audience could feel it. I received a lot of positive feedback afterwards and it was exhilarating! I knew at that moment, this is why I’m taking the time and the effort to clean up my diet. I spent 20 years eating garbage and it’s going to take time to heal this body, but I now know this is right track.

I’ve done so many diets, so many fads and failed consistently because of cravings and deprivation.  I cannot say I’m deprived now because I eat more food then I ever have in the past.  I haven’t experienced cravings which caused me to fail in the past.  I’m also listening to lectures and books on why sugar and flour is causing the ‘diabesity’ in our country and it keeps me motivated.

I will continue with preparing ahead of time, creating menus and prepping foods for the week ahead.  It takes work, but it also takes work to think when you’re brain isn’t operating at full throttle, it takes work to get in and out of a car when you’re severely overweight. It takes work to walk up stairs.  I provided a lot of excuses as to why I continued down the unhealthy path, ‘It’s too hard.’ ‘I’m too tired (my favorite one).’ or ‘I’ll do it next week.’ These were all helpless/hopeless lies I told myself to feel better, to justify why I couldn’t do it. Honestly, I can say, if you have help, you can do it. If you don’t have friends or family support, hire someone to help you or start a support group at your local library which is free, to create that support for yourself.

I strive to be the example we can all live a happy, healthy life if we take the time and effort to move forward and refuse to give up.

Making my health a priority

It’s been an interesting week.  BFF is here and on time as usual. It explains my emotional roller coaster last week.  I’m on day 11 not eating sugar or flour.  I feel okay but it’s hard to say how much it’s impacted my health because it’s so early.  I’m not experiencing physical hunger. The food I’m eating (whole grains, veggies, lean protein) keeps me satisfied for the day. I was feeling very tired yesterday and believe its because of BFF right now and why I ate some ‘Mary Gone Crackers’ (flax crackers) last night.  I didn’t have it planned but it satisfied the ‘crunch’ that I was looking for all day.  I’m wondering if those types of cravings eventually disappear with time.

Time – that’s the key.  It took me 20 years to get to this point, I know it’s going to take time to get used to eating this way for the rest of my life and ultimately ‘reset’ my body to where it’s supposed to be.  I may have to give up caffeine but I’m not doing it just yet. I have made a huge shift and I think if I add another major one it will add too much at once. It’s going to have to wait until I get used to this initial shift first . But, I noticed when I drink caffeine, my skin gets agitated.  It’s got to be the acid. I’ll look to drink decaf at some point. However, for now, I’m going to continue to be aware of what’s going on with my body.  I have lost some weight, although I feel bloated this week because of BFF, but overall I feel good.

For so long, I’ve been ‘waiting’ for the right time to ‘work on my health’. It’s funny because back in 2011, I made a major move to ‘work on my health’.  But I never realized it had to start with my mind. I was so unaware back then (and it’s only been a few years). I thought for sure I would figure out what I needed to do to lose weight, but what happened was so much more and for that I’m eternally grateful. I learned about my mind and my feelings and how they are connected. I learned how my thinking was causing my current reality.  If I never learned all of that, I wouldn’t be where I am today which is facing reality as to why I’m overweight, how it began, how my thinking and resulting behaviors contributed to an unhealthy body.  If I didn’t gain that knowledge, I would be on another diet again, failing and wondering why I’m gaining and losing the same 10 lbs when I have over 50 to lose.

This is the focus in my life right now. Everything else is on the periphery. I’m okay with that because I have been wanting to focus just on this and yet, things seemed to get in the way. Not this time. I’ve got weight to lose and a body to transform. I cannot do that when distracted with so many other things in my life.  Of course, those distraction were cause by me making those other things a priority over the true priority which is my health. I also know, doing this will help me achieve one of my other goals – being a role model for my son which I believe is going to be the case as I go through this transformation.