Archive for the ‘Sugar Free’ Category

A bit of a random, chatty post

One of our fish died today.  I am quite sad about this.  This is a picture of the remaining clown fish (I know they’re clown loaches,

but I have always and will always call them clown fish) and the one that died ages ago, which the one that died today replaced.  I still miss the old one.  He was called Fish.  Such creativity and thought went into that name, I can’t tell you.  But he was a really cool fish, who behaved more like a puppy than a fish.  Chasing his tail, swimming up and down repeatedly, lying on his side or on his back, swimming backwards – he could do it all.  And he wagged his tail.  Such a cool fish.

Poor old remaining fish though (also called Fish; very confusing); he’s lost two mates now.  Although I’m starting to get suspicious that he might be bumping them off…  Maybe he’s an assassin fish and we just don’t know…

Anyway, a good day today.  Rode 30 minutes of spin bike at the gym between PT sessions, whilst listening to the Chesney Hawkes classic “The One and Only”.  Yes, yes, how cheesy.  I know.  But marvellous for a bit of a hill climb on the spin bike.  Rousing.  Yes indeed.  It was a challenge to walk down the stairs afterwards, so that should be reassuring to anyone I’ve ever trained who also had that “can’t get down the stairs because of my newly acquired jelly legs” feeling.

And whilst at the gym training I decided firmly on next week’s challenge.  But you’re going to have to wait to see what it is.  I bet you’re on tenterhooks now, right?  Actually, what are tenterhooks?  Hang on…..

Ok, I’ve just looked – it’s really quite boring.  Something to do with making cloth.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

But yes, next week’s challenge will involve Oomph.  Oomph is Virgin’s version of exuberance so it all fits together nicely.  I like it when that happens.  And it is all made more possible by the meditation in fact, as confidence in spades is required.

Right then, off to do some meditation and ignore the sugar cravings.  The blog seems to be getting a good hit rate and growing in audience so please feel free to leave me a comment if you want to!  Thank you if you have texted or facebooked me to tell me you are enjoying reading it – it makes me very happy.

Ok, so see if I can keep wedding venues out of my head this time.  Especially as we’ll be going to check some out on Wednesday.  Back on those tenterhooks now, are you?  Good stuff.  See you tomorrow!

Day 7! Day 7! Day 7!

Not that I’m looking forward to being able to eat sugar again.  No, no, I am now a paragon – yes, a paragon – of virtue, and sugar will never again pass my lips.

Yeah right.  But that said, I’m not going to throw away what I’ve achieved this week.  Which is not a lot, I know, but I have learnt things.  Such as the amount of excuses I can find to eat junk and therefore how frequently sugar comes up in my diet.  Let’s just recap, shall we?  Triggers are:

  • Train journeys
  • Being out for lunch/dinner/coffee with friends
  • Having a day off
  • Being in a bad mood
  • Being in a good mood
  • Finishing work
  • Saturdays
  • Sundays

Crikey, there’s a lot there.  How entirely shameful!!  And that probably doesn’t even scratch the surface.  Scary.  Just goes to show though, how eating is quite often not about making conscious choices, but led by emotion or circumstance.

So where to move forward from here?  Well, the discipline of having sugar-free as an unmoveable fact is really useful.  It makes choices a lot easier to make, so I think I would do well to keep that.  But not every day.  Maybe one day a week where sugar is allowed (taking care not to let that turn into a binge day!) and one floating cheat meal allowed during the rest of the week.  Which, incidentally, is the way that I lost weight originally, when I was on my quest to become a personal trainer in the first place.  That kind of discipline comes in handy when you have a goal to achieve.

It was good having you lot to keep informed though; it kept me on the straight and narrow.  This little can of Dr Pepper

sat in the fridge all alone all week (please take note, by the way, of all the many, many apples in there – a very becoming fridge for a personal trainer, don’t you think?), and although it frequently spoke to me in a sinister “drink me, no-one will know…” kind of way, I couldn’t lie to you.  I just couldn’t do it.

So, the amount of sugar that passed my lips this week was negligible.  A bit of ketchup here, a little yoghurt there.  There may have been 2 Kola Kubes (I know, I know – I’m sorry.  *hangs head in shame*  In my defence, they were eaten on separate days; it wasn’t a Kola Kube binge.  And did I mention the apples in my fridge?  There’s so many of them.  Look!  *tries to redeem self*).  So on the whole, I think I did pretty well.  I am a bit more exuberant than I was this time last week.  I am a little more proud of myself, a fair bit healthier and more at peace with my diet.  And that’s a good thing.

Right then, next week!  Meditation week.  But more about that tomorrow…

Days 5 and 6 – sorry, I was busy getting engaged…

Well, on day 5 I wasn’t, but on day 6, which was Valentines Day for those of you who don’t observe such things, I was!

On Day 5, I was in Reading with my friend Bella, sitting in a funky bistro place, painting this little masterpiece…

I can’t remember what the bar was called, but there were canvases and paints everywhere and you could just paint or draw to your heart’s content.  And for the price of a donation to charity you could take your painting away, or you could leave it there for the viewing pleasure of all the other patrons.  I imagine there are some interesting paintings done in the evening when people are getting blitzed on alcohol…

Sugar cravings hit quite hard every now and then, but I just ignored them like a brave little soldier.  There were all sorts of triggers that day – being on a train (but said train was caught from the back end of nowhere, so there was more tumbleweed blowing through than there were sweets on offer), being out for lunch with a friend who normally is a reliable accomplice in the coffee and cake ritual and has been since Uni, and it being a Sunday which, as we’ve noted before, is a day when calories apparently don’t exist. 

Quite an interesting phenomenon I think; the weekend reprieve.  I know so many people who eat well in the week and then at the weekend eat all the things they’ve been careful to avoid in the week.  Which is somewhat ok if just taken from an “everything in moderation” perspective, as long as you don’t go too mad and it is actually moderate, but from a weight loss standpoint it tends to undo everything.  Because if you’re trying to create a 3500 calorie deficit each week (which is the fundamental thing which will lead to a 1lb weight loss), then it’s likely that the calories that you saved in the week will go back on again at the weekend.  Especially if you add into the equation that little voice in your brain that says “you’ve been good all week, and you’ve been to the gym, so go on, have it.  And while you’re at it, have the other thing as well.”  Because that voice pipes up several times during the weekend.  And every time it says the same thing, so potentially you end up eating more junk than you would have done in the week.  Hmm. 

Anyway, I ignored my little sugar voice.  And I ignored it all Monday until the evening, when I had planned - yes I had, I had planned - to have a one meal break as we were going out to the local organic veggie cafe for a Valentines Day meal.  Which was beautiful, I must say.  In my last blog, you will remember that I went a lot to the Orchard Cafe in Worcester.  In this blog, you will probably notice that I am a regular at the Manic Organic Cafe in Kings Heath.  The veggie burgers there rock.  And it’s all organic and local, so on every front it’s pretty cool. 

The sugar monster was there all day Monday (trigger – celebrating!), but a lid was kept on it in lieu of the evening when our engagement was commemorated with a piece of lemon cheesecake (for me;  ginger cake for Emma who doesn’t like cheesecake.  How can this be?  How can anyone not like cheesecake?? I am astounded, still, by this information).  And do you know what?   It was *whispers* too sweet !  *gasps!*

So it’s happening; my palate is changing.  The cravings are still there, but you know, one step at a time and all that.  This is obviously the momentous news of the day; the fact that my palate is changing.  Not the whole engagement thing.  Obviously.  Oh, no – hang on.  I’ve got that the wrong way round again…

Day 4: the weekend commences

And breathe. The week is done, thank goodness. That’ll be the working week, not the sugar-free one.

So Saturday, huh? The day when most of us think “brilliant, a day off from being disciplined about what I eat!” and proceed merrily to the chip shop/chinese/indian/pizza place.

For me, usually the end of the working week is heralded with, generally in this order:

Cup of tea
Nice sit down
Something sweet

because I reckon I’ve earned it, having been a little trooper and worked Saturday, which, as we all know, is intended as a sacrosanct day of doing stuff you like.

So today I got home and went forth in this way:

Cup of tea – check.
Nice sit down – present and correct.
Something sweet – erm…no, it seems not, actually.

So I got up again and put the washing on.

See how productive I am now! That would never have happened before.

And then I wandered off to the train station to get my sugar-free self to Oxford so I can finally spend a bit of time this week with my girl. Ah see, I didn’t tell you that did I? That I’ve undertaken my little quest against the backdrop of 7 days without the girl I love? Smacks of self-flagellation really. A classic, time-honoured reason (excuse) to eat rubbish and I slap a big, fat restriction on my ability to do so.

So yeah, train journeys. Normally a reason for me to purchase a mahoosive bag of eclairs/minstrels/revels to revel in (see what I did there!) on the way to my destination. I will add a caveat to that that this behaviour is only par for the course on train rides to holiday type places, not trips for work or routine missions. But today I tootled my way onto the train with a pot of Swiss Birchers muesli in my hot little hand (which, for reference, is natural yoghurt mixed with fruit and oats). And a small cup of coffee (£2.15 for 6 or 7 mouthfuls – I mean, really. That’s not small, that’s flippin’ microscopic. And extortionate). And very nice it was too. It’s proving rather interesting what you find to eat when you need to find alternatives. Broadening my horizons no end.

It’s also interesting what you find on buses these days. A large inflatable zebra, in my case. It was accompanied by a woman, obviously, it wasn’t just riding the bus on its own. Although when it was picked up on the bus CCTV cameras it did look for all the world like it was standing up, pawing at the windows and looking avidly out, like a puppy in a car.

So there you go, day 4 done and dusted. Doing good so far! See you on day 5!

Day 3 and trouble brews…

Oh dear.  I’m in a bad mood. 

Not for any good reason – I just got out of bed on the wrong side, then someone cheered me up, then someone got me down, someone else cheered me up and someone else got me down.  The last person I properly spoke to cheered me up again, but I’m too far gone now and am in that door slamming mood that I remember having a lot when I worked for the council. 

And yes, when I’m in a bad mood that’s when the whole comfort eating saga usually rears its ugly head.  And, in the old world order, this would have yielded today as a sugar-fest kind of a day (possibly – I do have some self control. (Hmm, get a load of the defensiveness!  That’s the bad mood talking – I do apologise on its behalf (and now we have brackets, within brackets, within brackets, which has nothing to do with anything but it amused me))).  But this is a new world where sugar is not permitted, and so I have…

…ooh, the tension

not succumbed.  Well done me (I’m allowed to praise myself; I’m having a bad day, ok? (yup, defensive again – sorry))!

It has crossed my mind.  A few times.  But only because it’s a habit to get my butt over the road to the shop and pick up a curly wurly/bar of dairy milk/cookie/whatever evilness takes my bad mood addled fancy, not because I’ve been tempted to break my quest.  It’s a Pavlov’s dog thing - sugar is my conditioned response to being down or stressed.  We all know it doesn’t really help to eat crap when you feel emotionally rubbish, and actually usually makes you feel guilty on top of the grumpy you already were so you end up feeling more rubbish than when you started. 

I have drunk more tea than usual though.  But that’s rooibos, thanks, before you all think I’ve swopped sugar for caffeine (and that’s defensive number 3…)!

So all in all the quest remains unbroken, but it’s only 4pm and there’s a whole, ooh, several hours to go yet.  But I have faith in myself.  So I think I’ll be fine.  I just have to get a grip on my mood now, before I scare the members…

Ooh, sugar-free is gooood!

So Day 2 is done, nearly.  Day 1 was good – I must confess though, a little sugar did indeed pass my lips.  Via a small blob of organic ketchup.  Sugar is everywhere – I told you it was insidious.  In fact, I just checked that I had that word right and the first definition that came up on Google was “proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects”.  Couldn’t really be a better word, could there?!

But I’m not too worried about that – I have never been known to binge on ketchup (er, gross), so that wasn’t one of my reasons for this week’s quest.  Oh, I also ate some organic blueberry yoghurt (because it needed eating and sugar free or not, I don’t like to be wasteful).  So not a perfect day, but when it mattered, being on a sugar-free week made a difference.  Because I went out to dinner last night with my best friend Zoe.  And when it came to dessert, instead of doing that to-ing and fro-ing thing that we all do, the dessert dance of “shall I have a pudding? I really shouldn’t. But I’d quite like to… and I’m out at a restaurant therefore normal food rules don’t apply, as everyone knows that food eaten in a restaurant is outside of the rules (kind of like Christmas, or when you’re on holiday, or on a weekend…). So I think I will.  I know I shouldn’t.  I’ll feel guilty later…  Oh stuff it, I’m going to!” – instead of that, when the waiter asked if we wanted to see a sweet menu, without any hesitation at all we both said, as one, “no thanks” and carried on with our conversation.

Blimey.  I’m not sure I’ve ever done that before.  It’s a whole new world…

The other thing that was came up was how much more productive I am when I’m not able to indulge my sweet tooth.  See, yesterday was a day off for me, and I, for some unknown reason, correlate relaxing with eating junk.  I eat well when I work, I eat junk when I chill.  Just as well I don’t get much time off, huh!  So normally, I get up and the first thing I think is “right, what can I eat this morning!”, and any rubbish that’s in the house will suddenly become fair game as a breakfast food.  Yesterday I got up and asked myself the same question.  And answered it with “well, porridge, really”, had my porridge and went about my day.  Cool!

And that was the pattern.  So I got looooads done, including, but not limited to, booking my first piano lesson.  Oh yes.  Give it a couple of weeks and you won’t know whether it’s Jamie Cullum in the room or me.  Or, I’ll be able to play a scale with the correct fingers.  One or the other; I’ll leave you to work out which.

The other thing that came out of yesterday’s dinner with Zoe was the selection of next week’s mini challenge, which shall be…drumroll please…meditation.  But I’ll leave that till next week to explain otherwise I’ll get all ahead of myself again – one thing at a time, Trace, one thing at a time…

And so to today – has sugar passed my lips, or have I been a veritable paragon of virtue?  I’ll leave a space for you to decide…

Well ok, I might have had a small – note, small – tin of pasta shapes with my dinner and that had sugar in.  And guess what?  Tasted way too sweet.  So my palate is changing already!  Rock on.  But nothing of the chocolate, sweet, cake or biscuit persuasion, and I feel much better for it already, even just psychologically.  Instead of missing it, I feel quite peaceful and relaxed, knowing that I am doing a good thing for my body and mind.  It doesn’t mean to say that the chocolate monster won’t try and lure me back tomorrow, but I tell you what, I won’t be going.  So there!

That’s it – sugar and I are NOT friends anymore

As you will know if have read my About Me page, I am a strong and single minded personal trainer type who never, ever succumbs to chocolate, sweets, ice-cream or cake.  Oh no, wait – that’s not me.  Let me do that sentence over – if you have read my About Me page, you’ll know that every now and then, I’m quite susceptible to being frogmarched to the fridge by an insatiable sugar craving, whereupon I tend to go a bit mad and eat everything I can lay my hands on.  Not altogether becoming behaviour in a pt, huh?

So, in an effort to break this habit – which is all it is, after all; just a habit – I have decided to go completely sugar free for a week.  It’s like the Nirvana state to me, being a sugar free person, and one I’ve not yet been able to attain.  I was going to go all scientific at this point and say that my reason was that they reckon it takes 7 days to break a habit and 21 to build a new one, but then I did a little research and found that no-one agrees on the numbers, so the best I can say is that it is thought to take either 7, 14, 21, 28 or 30 days to break a habit, and either 7, 21, 30 or 90 days to make a new one.  Erm, right.

So I may as well share my real reason for the timescale which is this: Chris Moyles is currently having 2 weeks of not eating bread or drinking beer, and I thought to myself “now there’s an idea – put a timescale on it and it’s easier to handle, mentally”.  As I say, I’ve done the whole “I shall henceforth strike all forms of sugar from my life and never be tempted to touch them again, ever, period”.  And I have found that as soon as you do that, you realise that it isn’t possible because at some point you’ll be tempted and your motivation will be down, and at this point the sugar will just reach out and get you.  It’ll just reach out from the fridge with its creepy, sneaky fingers and drag you down into its pit of gluttony.  And your brain, well, it knows this as soon as you speak of your intention to give up and says “well, you know what, that’s bound to happen so let’s not even bother.  Now, where’s that cake?”  So, far it from me to take nutrition ideas from Chris Moyles, but he has hit on a good method there.

What we do know is that once you get rid of something like sugar from your diet, it’s hard in the initial stages – the cold turkey phase, if you will – but then it’s easy and your cravings disappear.  Any chocolate fiend who has ever done this will testify – the first week or two is tough going but after that you don’t even miss it.  Surprising but true.  And it’s worth doing, because sugar is evil.  It promotes fat storage, wrecks your blood sugar balance and saps your energy.  Horrible stuff.  And sugar begets sugar, in that insidious way that Pringles beget Pringles – if you eat some, you want more (I refuse to promote the Pringle tagline in my blog).

So from an exuberance point of view, I’m expecting to be far more bouncy with all the extra energy I’m going to have when it’s not all being sucked out of me by a blood sugar crash (I’m sure Emma is looking forward to that bit; it’ll be like having a over-exictable puppy around the house), and far more relaxed about being in control of my diet.  Cause you know that crap feeling you get when you’ve eaten a load of stuff you know you shouldn’t have.  It’s rubbish.  And it’s never worth it.

Plus, from a “living the way we were originally designed to live” perspective, there’s a theory goes that if your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t have recognised it as food, our bodies weren’t designed to eat it and therefore it won’t actually do you any good.  Which makes sense if you think that you are what you eat (let’s just pretend that Gillian McKeith never happened and that phrase was never sullied by her bizarrely wizened self – it’s actually a valid principle), as if you’re eating stuff humans weren’t designed to eat, your body will have traces of chemicals, additives and all sorts of horrible who knows what in it, which will change things like cell structure, how efficiently your body functions etc.  Like putting petrol in a diesel car, only not quite so explosive.  So the question is: would my great-great grandmother recognise a Toblerone as food?  Or Kola Kubes?  And I think the honest answer is probably no.

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