confessions of a sugar addict, part 2

by Patricia on March 16, 2010 · 11 comments

chocolate-chips

As I mentioned yesterday, I wanted to tell you a little about some of the changes I’ve been making to bring my eating and my life into balance.

I’ve been going to spin class twice a week since the beginning of the year. This is a big improvement over the end of last year. Even so, I kept thinking: Isn’t exercise supposed to make you feel better? Aren’t you supposed to lose weight? Why am I not seeing progress?

Then I’d sit on the couch for 5 days moping. The closest thing to a vegetable I ate during the mope-fest was lemon-blueberry yogurt cake which is seriously good stuff but sadly does not qualify as a vegetable or even fruit in the real world.

Reality check, part 2:

  1. You are what you eat. It’s old news but is worth repeating. How can I lose weight when I keep eating more than my body burns in a day? How can I be physically lean unless what I eat is lean? I’m not talking fat-free, just leaner. As in vegetables, for example. Butter is not a vegetable it turns out. Carrots, yes. Chocolate cake, no. Isn’t that sad? Imagine how much healthier we’d all be if the reverse were true. Studies show that Americans are eating fewer fruits and vegetables than ever. No matter how many campaigns the government sponsors to teach kids and the rest of us the right things to eat, many of us still won’t. It is so easy to eat the wrong things that it can feel difficult to eat well. But I realized that while I can’t change the world, I can change what’s on my plate. I’ve been focusing more on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and good fats. It’s nothing new or revolutionary. I’m still making adjustments and learning new ways to eat, but my diet for the last few weeks is infinitely better than it was even just a month ago.
  2. Sugar is a drug.I am happy when I am eating a chocolate chip cookie or 3, but then I’m tired and grouchy half an hour later. Eating the way I was, I felt tired all the time. I was moody. Some studies have shown that eating sugar releases dopamine in the brain which is what gives us that sugar high. And why we crash and have withdrawal symptoms when we stop eating sugar. It isn’t that sugar is all bad. But refined sugar can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels, with peaks and crashes. I’ve been working hard to choose complex carbohydrates for slow release of sugar into my system. I have enjoyed a dessert or two in the last few weeks, but managed to keep it to a minimum. I have more energy and feel so much better now.
  3. Apply Newton’s first law to your butt. To paraphrase: A body in motion stays in motion, while a butt on the sofa stays on the sofa. 2 days of spin class is a great base and I have seen some improvements just from that little bit. But to really make progress, 2 days is not enough. So I started to add in a some running (in fact, I am training for a 10K). And most recently I started working out with a trainer a couple times per week. I don’t generally like working out in the gym or weight lifting, but have found it’s easier if I join a class or work with a trainer until I reach “cruising altitude”… you know, the point at which the habits are set and I show up to exercise even if no one else is pushing me. I’ve been there before… let’s see how long it takes to get there again.
  4. Patience, grasshopper. It takes time. In an age when I can download movies in an instant and pay my bills online in minutes, it is hard to wait for results. I have had good eating and work out days only to wake up the next morning hoping to see some change in the mirror or on the scale. Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. When making healthy changes, it takes time to see progress. I can’t expect to run a 10K if I’ve only trained one day. And I shouldn’t expect to lose weight overnight. I am not a 400 pound contestant on The Biggest Loser. I am not working out with Jillian Michaels for 6 hours a day. So I will not lose 7-15 pounds in 1 week. And that’s okay.

tomatoes-chopped

Trying to eat well and exercise isn’t a new thing. I have been around this block a few times before, but this time feels different. I can’t claim to have any magic formula, but I have found my motivation… what’s important to me. When I am confronted with milk chocolate covered peanut butter eggs at Trader Joe’s, I am now able to walk away by remembering why I want to be healthy. To me, being healthy means living a long life with my loved ones, setting a good example for the kids in my life so they know what it means to eat well, and to be happy inside and out. As a bonus I’m finding delicious ways to eat healthy… recipes to come.

What does healthy mean to you?

Related: confessions of a sugar addict, part 1

{ 11 comments }

1 charlene May 17, 2010 at 1:29 pm

I just came upon this site and it is great…I am a sugar addict if there ever was one. I take myself into staying away from it, and the next minute I am ordering a cookie to go with my salad and water…I have not had any success yet in handling this problem. My biggest problem, when I say “no” to myself, I just run right to the no item….crazy, really crazy…but reading this blog makes me feel there is hope, and maybe with some of the suggestions, and changing my outlook all will be well….

2 April March 17, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Loving all of this talk about healthy living, it is where I want to be going right now! It really helps to read your blog because it make me feel like I am not alone in the endeavor. I know that when I eat well and exercise I have WAY more energy, but sometimes it is hard to get going in the first place. As far as eating goes, my plan is to stick to that basic 5 a day plan. If I manage to eat 5 fruits or veggies each day, I will feel full before I get to dessert. Not that I want to avoid dessert always, but eat a bit less of it!

3 Patricia March 18, 2010 at 10:13 am

Hey April,
You’re definitely not alone. I’m impressed that you keep track of your 5 a day. And you’re right, if you eat 5 full servings of fruits and vegetables you will fill up. I’m still surprised by how much 1 serving of salad is… I’m exhausted by the time I finish eating it :)

4 Laura Bray March 17, 2010 at 2:32 pm

My greatest weight loss success lately has resulted from concentrating on the fact that my stomach is only the size of my fist. I try to only eat that much at one time. So I eat a lot of small meals. Which is hard, cause I love a big old meal and have never been a snacker, but I think when I overstuff that poor, little, fist-sized tummy, it just sends the overflow immediately into storage.

5 Patricia March 18, 2010 at 10:11 am

Laura,
That is a great tip! It’s so much easier to visualize your stomach the size of a fist than try to remember a portion of meat should be the size of a deck of cards and the portion of veggies should be the size of… well, I don’t remember :)

6 Brit Hammer March 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Sounds all good, Patricia. :-)

To me, Healthy = Balance. I allow myself occasional treats but am ever so slowly changing what those treats are. I can get just as excited over dried figs as homemade cookies fresh out of the oven. Having said that, when I buy bon bons, I’ll buy the high quality ones made by hand in a chocolaterie and eat just one, maybe with a small cordial of port. And I focus on the taste and texture as I nibble on it. So much more enjoyable that way. I guess that’s called conscious eating? :-)

7 Patricia March 18, 2010 at 10:10 am

Balance is definitely key. I love good chocolate and never really need to eat much of it to be happy (unlike cheaper candies like M&Ms that never really satisfy). Conscious eating… exactly. Being aware of what you are eating and enjoying the flavors and subtleties, some would say that’s very French :) (I’m thinking of the book French Women Don’t Get Fat)

8 Bryan March 17, 2010 at 8:46 am

Butter is not a vegetable. It’s a food group. Consult the French :-)

9 Patricia March 18, 2010 at 10:04 am

True, true. But it has to share the plate with other food groups including the dreaded veggies.

10 Joie de vivre March 17, 2010 at 8:35 am

Amen to all of that. It just takes patience and consistency. I’m on the same path. Good luck!

11 Patricia March 18, 2010 at 10:00 am

Thanks! Good luck to you too :)

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