No, i’m not in Hawaii (well not physically), but with the rain pattering down outside, the slightly grey tinge to the sky and the residual smell of the cat pee we just found in an empty storage container (seriously cats, get your act together), I figured it might be nice to mentally transport myself to sunny shores, hibiscus flowers and the smell of the slightly-more-pleasant-than-cat-pee coconut oil. Feel free to join me at any time. It’s pretty great here.
I wrote a few weeks back about the start of the new year and a few goals I had sat down and set on the eve of 2013. Getting both feet back on the ground, embracing the new and sorting out my mental and physical wellbeing was the general theme that ran through my goals. Taking a holistic approach to eating, exercise and my mental health was the more practical manifestation of what I hoped to achieve. Part of this approach was quitting sugar (or quitting fructose to be more accurate). Yes, getting rid of it. Showing it the door right outta my life. Bidding it adieu.. Basically i’m trying to say that I decided to stop eating the stuff.
Now I am not what you could call a ‘dieter’. I have always had a fairly healthy relationship with food and have been extremely blessed to never fall foul to anything extreme. Sure, food and I have had the odd ‘disagreement’, but generally speaking, everything has been pretty decent. As a rather avid exerciser over the years, i’ve managed to keep my body at a fairly constant weight with the odd fluctuation but nothing that has caused me a huge amount of concern.
That mutually beneficial relationship started to falter a few years ago I think but I never really noticed it till last year. I guess when you start rebuilding yourself after a dramatic change to your life, you notice stuff. And I started to notice the impact what I was putting into my body had on my mental (and physical) health. Of course, me being me, I didn’t really do anything about it at first. I recognised that perhaps I was falling into some pretty sketchy eating patterns but, like many things, recognising and actually doing something are mountains apart.
I had stumbled on Sarah Wilsons’ blog a while back as I was always a big fan of her Sunday Life columns and found her approach to health and wellbeing rather refreshing. Authentic I guess you could say. I liked that she practiced what she preached. That she used her own health as the stick in the sand for whatever she chose to talk about. So when she started chatting about the ‘I Quit Sugar‘ program, I decided I might like to read a little more. Again, I initially ran screaming from the computer, into a packet of Tim Tams and sat rocking in a corner, muttering all kinds of colourful words at the idea that my beloved Sarah would want to take away my beloved sugar. I eventually removed my hand from the plastic tray, licked my chocolate covered fingers and dragged my bloated and nauseas belly back to the computer to download the ebooks.
And what I read made sense. I may not have been big into diets over the years, but that’s not to say I haven’t gorged on the literature. Being female and having female friends, playing sport at an elite level, working in the health and fitness industries and ending up in a career where press release come flying in more frequently than jetplanes over Mascot (if you don’t live in Sydney this may not make sense but all you need to know is that Mascot is right on the ol’ flight path), meant I’d been exposed to pretty much every fad to out there.
Reading about sugar was different somehow. Following up ‘I Quit Sugar‘ with the compulsory reading on the topic ‘Sweet Poison’ made things even more compelling. I can’t explain it really, it just made sense to me. All of it. The history of sugar, the way it reacts with our body and our emotions, the nature of addiction to the stuff. I found myself nodding along as I read.
And I identified a couple of things; 1) I was completely and totally addicted to sugar 2) sugary foods were a form of medicine for making me feel better 3) I was completely and totally addicted to sugar, both physically and mentally.
So four weeks ago, I said goodbye. Cold turkey. I cut that bad boy right outta my life. While I was OS and away from my own kitchen and pantry. While I had a 24 hour plane ride to contend with. While I had a 24 hour plane ride WITH a baby to contend with. While I had a hens party, 1st birthday party AND a wedding all in the weeks after returning home.
Mad? Maybe. But I was sick of deciding to do something then waiting. Waiting for the right time. Waiting for Monday. Waiting till I could get to the shops to buy what I thought I needed to be successful. I figured if I started that very day that I finished my reading, if I could navigate those challenges that were upcoming, well I was giving myself the very best shot. Because life in general is going to be challenging. There was always ‘something’ I could use as a valid excuse, to justify waiting. So I said screw it and just bloody well did it.
Four weeks in? It was worth starting down this path. Not just only for the immense health benefits (hello flat tummy, we haven’t seen each other in approximately 760 years) BUT for what i’m learning about myself. I love me a bit of self growth or ‘self discovery’ if you will. And man, am I having some revelations.
I’m going to post weekly about my ‘journey’ (I couldn’t get through a whole post without using that word) so I won’t give it all away but I will say that for anyone who suffers anxiety or depression, who feels that perhaps their emotions are kind of entangled with the world of food, perhaps look into some reading on sugar and the role it plays in our bodies.
To conclude, an ode to sugar
Oh sugar you were so sweet
But you made me feel crappy, like a piece of leftover meat
So I decided to say goodbye
It wasn’t easy, time did not fly
The headaches were bad, the cravings worse
I was tempted to chew on a corner of my purse
Just because it had come in contact with a piece of cake
But I got through it you see
I broke your hold on me
So i’m not a poet AND I wrote this in the depths of withdrawal but hey, it’s an honest, raw, moving account of the first week of my new life. And it includes the words ‘leftover meat’ so can’t be all bad.
Hope all my Aussie readers have had a fab long weekend. Stay safe in this crazy weather. Xx
The face of a sugar addict during withdrawal. Eeeep!
You can download my new bedside companion ‘I Quit Sugar‘ the eight week program here.