I have challenged myself to make healthier choices each and every day this year. For me, that means going back to eating more natural foods (whole grains, vegetables, fruit, small portions of protein), and passing on the processed "garbage" that so easily lures me.
Why a year? I want to give it the old college try, so to speak. I want to see where I am at physically at the end of the year. Will I be able to fit into some of my clothes again? If not, then I will toss them, knowing I have done everything I could. Whatever body shape I have at the end of the year, then surely that must be the shape my body wants to maintain. And, of course if I can faithfully do this one year, I will continue on my quest. "Onward! Upward!"
MY SUGARHOLIC STORY: When people find out I abstain from sugary foods, they usually say, "I could never live like that." They don't understand... I was not living before giving up sweets. I was existing, but certainly not living. I existed in a world of mood swings, depression, fatigue, sickness, anger, and self-loathing. I had dreams, but no oomph to follow them.
I reached a point where I was desperate. I wanted to be well! I wanted good health! I made appointments with my gynecologist (were my hormones out of whack?); an allergist (were allergies making me sick?); and an internal medicine doctor. Surely someone would have answers. In the meantime, I poured my heart out in prayer. This was nothing new, but perhaps I was finally in the right frame of mind to understand the answer: sugar addiction. Just as surely as someone could be addicted to alcohol, I was addicted to sugar. I realized that addiction runs in my family. Alcohol. Drugs. Sugar was my drug of choice. I realized that just as an alcoholic needs to avoid alcohol at all times (one should not tell an alcoholic, "It's your birthday, go ahead and have a drink!") I needed to avoid sugary foods, even on special occasions.
When this realization hit me, I stopped cold turkey. It was October 9, 2001. I went through about a week of withdrawals...and then...the cravings ceased, and I emerged into a whole new world! I felt alive. Really alive!
I am a different person. Here are some things that changed for me:
- Nearly every day of the week is a good day for me. I used to have maybe one good day out of a week. A good day for me is when I am productive and accomplish tasks.
- More energy! Sure, I still get tired, but it is because I have been on the go all day long.
- No heartburn. Before going off sugar, I used to have frequent heartburn. I kept Tums in my purse, next to my bed, in the medicine cabinet. Now I don't need them.
- Better sleep patterns. I go to bed early and arise early. (I never dreamed I was actually a morning person!!) I used to go to bed exhausted, have insomnia, and never feel awake even after arising. I slept in any chance I could get and the only thing that motivated me to get out of bed was the thought of something yummy to eat. Sugary cereals. Donuts. I used to have a sweatshirt that read: "Start every day with a smile and a donut...the smile is optional."
- No need for anti-depressants! Prior to discovering my sugar addiction, I went on anti-depressants (off and on) always thinking they would help me feel better. They did not. Since avoiding sugars, I have never once felt the need for medication--and what's more, I feel mentally better than I ever did during the times I used anti-depressants.
- Fewer skin tags. I used to have lots of skin tags all over my neck. Most of them disappeared when I stopped eating sweets!
- Easier to donate blood. When I was full of sugar, if I donated blood I became very light-headed and dizzy. They would have to put ice packs around my neck and have me recline with my feet up for a long period of time until I could finally leave the blood mobile. It was embarrassing, so I rarely donated. Now, they take my blood, I hop up, grab a bottle of water and free T-shirt, and I'm out the door.
- Rarely have headaches. I used to have frequent severe headaches. Often, the headaches would not go away until the pain reached a point of making me vomit. Now, I rarely get a headache, and when I do get one, it is quite mild compared to what I used to experience.
- More tolerant of odors and fragrances. This is linked with the headaches, actually. I used to be very sensitive to odors or strong scents. Sitting next to someone wearing perfume easily triggered a major headache. I probably offended more than one person by moving to another seat after they sat next to me. Now, although strong odors and fragrances still offend my sense of smell, they do not cause such severe reactions. I can physically tolerate odors better.
SO WHY DO I NEED THIS CHALLENGE? Because I have been slothful in reading labels, and fallen into a habit of eating on the run, slowly allowing simple carbs -- which act similar to sugar -- into my system. As I mentioned, I have regained some of the weight, and feel bloated. I want back to health.
Why this blog? I am hoping that others will encourage me to stick to my goal. I hope that needing to report each day, or several times a week, will help me think about my choices. And maybe others will want to join me!