Results may vary

Results may vary

 

Do you ever see those short little click-baity blogs that are like “What I experienced after quitting sugar will surprise you…”

I do… and I click. I always want to know if I’m experiencing what I should be, if my results are typical. If I summed up a year of no sugar into a five minute article, I’m sure it would end up being quite similar to those that I’ve read.

However, what you tend not to read about are the struggles. I mean, when I’m trying to tell someone what it is like to not eat sugar, I definitely don’t go into a tirade about how horrible it is, I’m sure I’d start losing friends fast.

And it’s not always horrible, I mean it’s not always rose-coloured fairies and unicorn rainbow farts either, but it’s good to push our limits and ourselves.

I had a discussion with a friend the other day about why I haven’t been blogging as much as I wanted to this year. Honestly, it’s because some days are really hard. I don’t want to be a nutritionist, blogging about why everyone should give up sugar so they can be healthy just like me – when actually I’ve been feeling like crap. She told me, that when I’m not feeling great is when I should definitely be blogging, so people can relate. This is a real journey and if I’m honest about what I’m going through, more people will, hopefully, feel empowered to push through and make positive changes in their lives. Even though it’s hard it is definitely worth it to live a healthier life.

It’s not easy changing the way you eat, you’re normal for feeling crazy sometimes, you’re normal for falling back on other bad habits, you’re normal for wanting to sneak into a dark alley with a peanut butter cup, orrr is that one just me?

You just have to remember that even if you give in to temptation, you’re normal and you don’t have to give up. Each new meal is an opportunity to do better. I know that sounds super lame and cliché, but whatfoodiesfeed-com_choosing-from-menu1ever, it’s totally true.

Just because you tossed your sad-sack lunch and went out with your co-workers for dirty burgers, doesn’t mean you are a bad person. It also doesn’t mean the day, week, month, year, or lifetime is ruined. You can go home and make yourself a sexy fresh salad at home, or take an extra scoop of veggies at supper. Life goes on and it’s too friggen short to worry about being perfect.

 

I still feel little crazy, okay a lot crazy some days. But other days I feel like I got this. That might not be the sugar, that might just be life. Results may or may not be typical, but they are definitely outside my comfort zone and that is where we grow.

My 100% favourite and the best thing about giving up sugar, is being an inspiration to those around me to give up their bad habits too. I love when my mom tells me she’s been reading labels at the grocery store. I am my sister’s number one cheerleader when she told me she is giving up sugar too. I beam with pride when my hubby tells me he was going to sneak some donuts on his way home from work, but he decided he’d feel better if he didn’t. Probably one of the best ways to help someone you love change their eating habits, is to be an example for them to follow.

2016 Wrap-up

How’s the ‘no sugar thing’ going?

Over the holidays I was asked a million times how the ‘no sugar thing’ was going – which was actually a nice break from the usual ‘when are you having kids’ interrogation. However, I found it a hard question to answer. Maybe because the last month I’ve just been taking it meal by meal and not really stopping to think about things. I haven’t even written you guys a good blog in a while!

My typical answer is “good – hard, but good.” Which is true. It has been good and I’ve been learning a lot about my food choices and how they affect my body. For example, my recent reliance on plain kettle potato chips as a comfort food has been wreaking havoc on my skin. On days that I eat as many vegetables as possible, I have crazy awesome energy and my mood improves greatly! After stringing together a few days of eating as many vegetables as I can, I start dropping weight effortlessly. When I have a bad day – or week and decide that nachos for supper is about all I can muster, I bloat up like crazy and well, they say everybody poops… but I don’t after all that cheese.

I’ve actually been a little shocked about how much my mood influences my food choices. The nights when I would love to just order a pizza and eat my feelings have probably been the hardest. What the heck do I do with all these feelings if I can’t just eat them into submission?? Sometimes I just sulk or live in a moody fog of anger for a couple of days until I get over myself. Other days I reach out to friends, family and my husband and actually let them know how I’m feeling. This has been incredible, seriously. I am not an overly open person and this whole ‘no sugar thing’ is forcing me to be more open and turn to those that I love for advice and to be my sounding board. I can’t even tell you how much pressure it takes off hearing someone say, “I understand.” My other go-to for those rough days is to hit the gym. It’s definitely harder to get there on bad days, but the payoff is totally worth the effort. Working out boosts those feel good hormones and makes me want to eat more veggies – it’s a win-win!

So do you feel better?

Yes and no. I feel absolutely amazing that I can turn down chocolate or dessert and not feel sad about it anymore. The first month or two were really hard for this and to be honest Christmas was little bit harder than the regular day to day. But it feels so empowering to say no and actually mean it.

Quitting sugar didn’t magically change my life and everything is not suddenly perfect. To be honest, a little part of me hoped that would happen. After learning about how ‘evil’ sugar is, I created a bit of an illusion for myself that giving it up would be the solution to all my problems. I would lose tons of weight, become super happy all the time and skip around merrily all day long. There are good days, but there are still bad days. Skipping the sugar has definitely made it easier to eat healthy, but there are ways to eat around sugar and still not fuel my body in good ways. It reminds me of someone I once knew that was a vegetarian who seemed to only eat cheese pizza and candy. Eliminating a food, whether it’s sugar, meat, carbs, dairy, or whatever else people are avoiding these days, doesn’t automatically make you healthy. You have to replace what you’ve taken out with nutrient dense healthy foods. And just as importantly, you have to work on the mental and emotional aspects that drive your behaviour.

‘No sugar 2016’ has been full of surprises and life lessons so far and I’m anticipating many more in 2017.

Yours in awesomeness,
Susan

FAQ

FAQ

FAQ. No, that is not a creative spelling of an expletive that describes exactly how I feel when I remember I can’t have pizza… It’s Frequently Asked Questions time! Since I started I’ve been getting tons of questions from friends, family and people interested in cutting back on their own sugar intake. I haven’t spelled out much on the details of my challenge yet, because I jumped right in without overthinking things #justdoit. So here we go!

Are you insane?

Okay, so maybe this is my most FAQ to myself and yes I am a bit of a crazy cat lady, so there is a chance that I’m not right in the head. But – the older I get the more I am noticing the effects of what I eat on my health. Being diagnosed with PCOS was a big kick in the lady balls and I have also been waking up with stiff joints and constantly dealing with injuries at the gym. Despite warnings from other 30-somethings, I didn’t think it would happen to me. I’m a nutritionist, I know better!

Why give up sugar?

Sugar used to be a treat that only the very rich could afford in small quantities, now it has become a staple in nearly everyone’s diet. What effects has this massive influx of sugar had on our society?

In the short term sugar can cause: acne, mood swings, unrestful sleeps, fatigue and susceptibility to colds and flus. In the long term in can cause: cavities and dental disfigurement, depression, cystic acne, PCOS and infertility, insomnia, adrenal fatigue, insulin resistance and diabetes, and studies are even showing that it could lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Sugar causes inflammation (oh, hello stiff joints). Long term inflammation in our bodies can lead to: arthritis, asthma, heart disease, strokes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. Sugar is not the only contributor to inflammation, but watching what we eat and drink can go a LONG way in reducing our inflammation and improving our health.

How can some innocent little white powder lead to so much evil in our bodies? Consider an egg which gives your body a variety of nutrients; choline, selenium, biotin, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, molybdenum, iodine, vitamin B5, protein, phosphorus, vitamin D and vitamin A. Now consider white sugar, it has been refined and stripped of the vitamins and minerals that we need to process it properly. In order for our bodies to metabolize the stuff, it must take nutrients out of our body, meaning sugar can rob us from chromium, magnesium, and calcium (please keep this in mind with ALL refined foods – always choose whole foods first).

So which sounds like the healthier breakfast choice? Scrambled eggs or a bowl of Sugar Loops…I mean Fruit Loops?

I promise to give you more details about sugar metabolism throughout the year. For those of you that can’t wait please check out some of these resources:

http://www.mercola.com/article/sugar/dangers_of_sugar.htm
http://thatsugarfilm.com/blog/2016/03/27/diet-and-inflammation/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

Are you eating natural sugars?

As far as fruits – yes! Mother Nature made fruit in a perfect package, wrapped in fibre, so our bodies can eliminate the fructose safely without congesting our livers.

As far as maple syrup and honey, no, I am avoiding those for the year too, unfortunately. As delicious as they are, they contain fructose without fibre. Don’t get me wrong, there are many health benefits in maple syrup and honey, but for this year I can live without their sweet deliciousness.

Are you eating sugar alternatives?

For the most part I am cutting out anything sweet, including alternatives. Occasionally I will have some stevia or xylitol in my smoothies as my favourite protein powers are sweetened using those.

Are you drinking alcohol?

I wasn’t too sure when I started the no sugar year about drinking. Alcohol is very hard for our bodies to process, so for the most part I’m going to avoid alcohol. When I do indulge on special occasions (I’m only human), I will be sticking to drinks with minimal fructose levels, such as red wine and clear spirits mixed with water. Feel free to check out this link for a breakdown of the sugar levels in your favourite adult beverages: https://iquitsugar.com/faqs/can-i-drink-wine/

What does a typical week of meals look like for you?

Homemade, homemade, homemade! Food producers often hide sugar in processed food to make it more palatable, so although it’s a little more effort cooking from scratch, it is totally worth it!

Let’s take a look at my meal plan for next week:

My breakfasts depfoodiesfeed.com_eggs-in-shadowend on the day. Mornings that I go to the gym for a swim before work I typically have a bulletproof coffee at home and then a smoothie when I get to work. At home breakfasts vary from nuts-and-seeds homemade granola with almond milk or different kinds of eggs with veggies.I may or may not have an obsession with eggs as you may have noticed from my Instagram.

 

Lunches are always leftovers from the night before or sometimes leftovers turned into a salad.

Suppers:

Sunday

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Saturday

Roast beef, potatoes and veggies Veggie lasagna (with zucchini noodles) Homemade chicken soup and tuna wrap on a flax wrap (avocado instead of mayo) Chicken legs  and a green salad Baked fish with green salad and sweet potato fries Burgers (no buns) with roasted zucchini/ peppers and onion. Out for supper to Plant Matters Kitchen

 

What is your goal weight at the end of the year?

I don’t have one. To me this year is about getting as healthy as possible. I have always struggled with my weight, so I do not want to put a number on it. I know weight loss will happen throughout the year so I’m considering that as a happy bonus!

I’ve had blood work done to show my “before.” I’ve measured my glucose and insulin, cardiovascular markers (cholesterol and triglycerides), as well as my inflammation markers. I also had some of my lady hormones measured so I can see how no sugar impacts my PCOS over the course of the year. I have definitely learned that I cannot rely on the scale to tell me how well I’m doing day in and day out!

How can I cut out sugar?

You know you best. Personally, I felt like I had to just cut sugar out entirely instead of just cutting back here and there – I definitely sound like an addict eh?? Programs like 21 Day Sugar Detox or I Quit Sugar are great places to start for those of you that are thinking ‘enough is enough’ and want to jump in with both feet.

For some people an all or nothing approach would be too stressful and counterproductive in the long run. For those people I would definitely recommend  cutting back on things that are manageable. If the thought of giving up your box of timbits a day causes you anxiety, start somewhere else and work your way up to that.

The first thing I would suggest is to look at what you are drinking. Are you drinking sugar on a regular basis, in your coffee, lattes, pop, fruit juices, sports drinks, tea, etc? Start switching out these sugary drinks for water. You can add in lemons or other fruits to help you make the transition if you are water-adverse. Increasing your aqua intake will help you to start feeling awesome – after all we are mostly water!

Through activities of daily living, the average person loses about 3- 4 liters (about 10-15 cups) of fluid a day in sweat, urine, exhaled air and bowel movement. What is lost must be replaced by the water/ fluid we drink and the food we eat.

 We lose approximately 1-2 liters of water just from breathing. The evaporation of sweat from the skin accounts for 90% of our cooling ability.”  – Dr. Batmanghelidj

The next place to start cutting sugar, if you are anything like me, is your snacks. What are you snacking on throughout the day or at night in front of the TV? Some great alternatives are nuts and fruits, chopped veggies with hummus, popcorn (from whole kernels not microwave popcorn). I’ve been having a cup of night time tea after dinner and this not only stops me from making trips to the kitchen, it helps me to relax before bedtime so I can get a sound sleep.

Please feel free to contact me for more tips and to sit down and discuss how sugar might be getting in the way of you achieving your inner awesome!

Yours in health,
Susan

Perfection – what I learned from wood

 

Walnut Display Board - Keane Woodworking

Walnut Display Board – Keane Woodworking

Perfection – something many of us strive for. But what does it really mean to be perfect? Think about it. Your idea of the perfect body can be wildly different from the person next to you. The perfect house, the perfect car, the perfect family – all of this is subjective. Your perfect life belongs to you.

Let’s take a moment to think about that. Your perfect life is unique to you and you alone.

So what is it that is holding you back from your perfection?

Perhaps it has to do with our perceptions and feeling gratitude. The past month or so I have set an alarm on my phone that just says “gratitude.” It goes off at 7:30 in the morning when I am getting ready for work or at the gym (and usually quite frustrated that I’m not still cozy in bed). It is a gentle reminder to take a deep breath and truly feel grateful. I try to focus on one thing and really bask in the feeling of gratefulness. Some days are harder than others, but it always calms me and puts me in a better mood.

It is so important for me to remember that right now, I am grateful for everything and everyone I have in my life. Honestly, it is making me realize that perfection is absolutely everywhere, I just need to choose to see it and appreciate it.

An amazing lesson my woodworker husband taught me was to see the beauty in nature’s “flaws”(shameless plug: www.facebook.com/keanewoodworking).

Manitoba Maple Wood Slab

Manitoba Maple Wood Slab – Keane Woodworking

When we were dating, he was showing me some of his projects from school and some of his favourite types of wood, one of which was a piece of curly maple. He was going on and on about how awesome the curl was and it made the wood so unique and beautiful. Then he looked at me and said, “Your stretch marks remind me of it.” It completely threw me off. Something I was absolutely ashamed of and hated about myself and here he was telling me that it reminds him of something so beautiful and unique. Does that mean I am beautiful and unique? Of course, we all are!

We can find beauty in imperfections in nature so quickly, but we ignore or hate those imperfections in ourselves.

Spalted Beech Coffee Table – Keane Woodworking

At one of my husband’s shows he had a cutting board made of spalted beech (similar to the coffee table above) that customers were nearly fighting over because of the different patterning. When wood is spalted, it is because the tree was diseased. How many of us end up with scars or battle wounds from life, but hide them and hate ourselves for it? We need to stop seeing all of these things as flaws and view them just as we would view nature. Flawed, but perfectly beautiful and unique.

 

Stay healthy my friends, 

Susan Keane