Thursday, July 24, 2014

How To Tame Your Sugar Dragon. Bonus! Before and After Pics

Sugar and I are not friends. In fact, that statement is putting it lightly. Sugar to me is like kryptonite to Superman. Even if sugar was the only food left in the world to eat, I should still NEVER eat sugar. Research has shown that sugar is more addictive than cocaine (the proof here.) And a sugar addiction is not just emotional but actually biological - driven by hormones effecting brain chemistry. YIKES. But just like a vegetarian says no to meat and feels ecstatic; you too can say no to sugar and feel empowered.

This was me last weekend, minus the boobs
My relationship with sugar is completely addictive and self-sabotaging. For days after I eat large amounts of it via dessert(s), I pay a hefty price. Recently, I ate multiple desserts at a wedding and thus that bottomed out feeling was me falling off the wagon, but I am eager to climb back in. 

I stopped eating sugar almost a year ago (besides a few relapses). Giving it up was the best thing I ever did for my family, my mood, my body and thus, my general sanity. To end my sugar addiction meant I had to put up my dukes for one of the biggest fights of my life; but when I did my personal heaven welcomed me. Not only did I get stronger, faster and more self-confident, but I also got the body that I dreamed of my whole life. I had no idea that sugar was the major player blocking me from my dream self. It very likely could be doing the same thing to you. 

What happens After I Consume Sugar:

1. My CRaZY self comes out to play.  A gentler description would be that I get moody. But no matter what the label, I go for a roller coaster of emotions: ecstatic, guilty, happy, angry, negative, emotionless, needy and sad bordering on depressed; and they all play on repeat. It's a vicious attack.
2. Major dips in self-confidence - Anything positive I had been thinking about takes a nose-dive. I don't feel worthy of much, sometimes even the idea of putting myself out there in the world feels daunting. Self-doubt comes rearing his head in my direction and I feel too negative to put up a decent fight.
3. Sugar cravings- I crave MORE of the stuff that harms me. My cravings for dessert and fake, processed foods becomes intense and sometimes unmanageable. If there is sugar in my house,  I am drawn to it by obsessive thoughts and most often can not avoid eating more of it if it's in close proximity. 

What is Going On  Inside Your Body (The Parts You Don't See) When You Eat Sugar:

  • Insulin emerges. When excess insulin is lingering inside your body it means you are storing fat instead of burning it. Your liver doesn't have the ability to convert your fat into energy. And too much insulin inside your body gets stored to your tummy (can you say beer belly). This is reason enough to stay away from sugar. Keep that sugar raging in your blood and you develop blood sugar issues, insulin insensitivity, type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and a host of other issues.
  • Leptin and Ghrelin (hormones) get wacky. These are hormones which regulate your hunger/satisfaction levels. More on this here. The more sugar you consume (which includes fructose sugar from fruit juices) the more your body doesn't know when to stop eating. Also, your body will be conned into thinking it needs to consume high calorie foods & store them as fat deposits. Don't even get me started on how corporate America puts sugar in processed foods to profit from our overweight lifestyle.
  • Damaging your cells. Oh man. Sugar weakens your immune system by depleting your Vitamin C absorption, putting inflammation in your body, adding bad bacteria to your gut and damaging your cells. Being armed with all the factual data out there, why do we still reach for the cake? It's not just a craving anymore, it's an effing dragon.
My only saving grace is that after I stop consuming sugar, the negative/self-doubt subsides within about 3-5 days. As of today, after about four days, I can feel my stronger, better self coming back to the horizon, yea! There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Steph, FREE From SUGAR

1. Satisfy your (non-food) reward system with something you LOVE. Personally, I like to meditate, go outside, take a short nap, go for a jog, call a friend...what do you like to do? Maybe put a strike on TV watching, which is notorious for making people overeat and can be a complete drain to your soul. Do something different, do something that is super enjoyable. Hell, send me an email - I'm 100% committed to help you!
2. Stabilize your blood sugar (insulin secretion) with protein and fiber. This means to eat lean meats and loads of veggies. Eat your fill of the good foods so you don't want the bad ones. Eat the foods that your body really needs to function and eat them timely before your hunger steers you in the wrong direction. 
3. Eat more fat. Yes, fat had a very naughty reputation but it has now been vindicated! Foods full of healthy fats are going to grab your hand and steer you away from your sugar cravings. Think coconut, avocados, nuts, olive oil, and (my favorite!) nut butters. 
4. Sleep! Naps and a good night of sleep will help you feel your best! When you are sleep deprived you have a more difficult time saying no to those dirty, tempting foods. It's hormonal, it's not just you, don't get mad, instead, get even with those hormones by getting your beauty rest.
5. Cut up veggies and prepare healthy snacks ahead of time, get them ready to go in your tummy; just like sugar-laden processed foods are ready. Be proactive by preparing! Good foods to have around are almond butter, sugar-free beef jerky, eggs, radishes, bell peppers,and regular staples like carrots, celery and cucumbers. And for the love of your waistline, get all the processed sugary, junk, chemical foods out of the house! Don't let those fake foods poison you anymore.
6.  Make Rules that you can follow & stick to your guns! Write down your rules and hold yourself accountable. For example: Rule#1. No desserts for a week. Make your rules reasonable. In fact, I made a rule once that I could eat as many apples as I wanted instead of eating dessert. One crazy apple-eating afternoon, I ate 4 apples; I have no shame in admitting. It got me through my sugar craving & I was full. Do whatever you need to get through, take those baby steps if that's what you need.
7. Substitute pure maple syrup or raw honey for sugar. If you must have some sweetness, go with what nature has made. At least it won't burden your hard-working liver. Your body can trust foods that come from nature. But remember, the sweet tooth will still be activated, which means it might cause cravings to creep in later through the day so be aware you might be on a slippery slope. Maple syrup, coconut sugar, raw honey, agave are much better options than sugar. Baby steps...
Eat Food That LOVES You Back

Some inspiring words of wisdom from Marianne Williamson, EAT FOOD THAT LOVES YOU BACK. Does sugar love you back? No way. Sugar harms you in every possible way. Sugar makes you puffy and inflammed, so you can't look fit. You can visually see the difference in people's physique when they stop eating sugar. Now is YOUR turn to put up a fight and let your body become whole and functioning at full capacity again. Out of all the steps above to get off sugar, the most important one is to stop eating sugar.

I can promise you giving up sugar can change your life for the better. Going sugar-free is going to give you powerful, almost-instant results, and it is completely doable. Maybe you take baby steps and try going sugar-free for a week? Maybe you try for 3 months? Either way, your body will be blissfully happy and you might even feel obliged to hug me. Best of luck in your endeavors with taming your sugar dragon. Feel free to email me in times of crisis during your battles or post comments, suggestions or progress reports. Constructive feedback is always a blessing to a blogger. 


****Now A feel-fabulous Challenge! When you are ready for this mentally and feel ready to see results, the challenge is ready for you. Remember, you have tried the other way (on sugar) now let's try to see who you blossom into when you nix the poison. Remember, you can always go back to sugar, since it isn't going anywhere. The challenge is FREE, it's outlined for you and it could make you feel like a million bucks! It's the Whole 30 Challenge. Which is 30 days of Real Foods for 30 days. ****

Extra Reading/References
1. Ten-day Sugar Detox

2. One Year Without Sugar

3. Sugar and bodybuilding

4. Sugars role in the body, a basic run-down

5. Weight loss and Blood Sugar