I knew going into this week that it was going to be really hard to stay completely sugar-free during this week in particular. Choosing this week to do this was about putting myself in real situations that I had to make really difficult decisions. Starting the week with a long travel day and ending with a family celebration (and my favorite cake) put real challenges into this that allowed me to really learn from this challenge. Here are some lessons I learned this week…
Sugar has a big impact. Processed foods with added sugar have a really significant impact on health. In the 5 days of this challenge, I lost 8 pounds. For the whole week, I lost over 12 pounds. This is after 4 weeks of basically no weight loss. I’ve talked about the documentaries That Sugar Film and Fed Up as well as the books Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It. Look into them and do your own research. It is really important that you are aware and are making informed choices.
Balance is really important. Twice this week I failed, but I know that if I had chosen to restrict my diet in those situations I would have regretted it. It might have even had a mental impact for days or weeks to come. This journey for me is about finding how to get healthy and stay healthy and doing that requires finding a lifestyle that works permanently and not just during a ‘diet’.
Measure what you want to change. Keeping track of every food I ate this week and then looking up (and sometimes estimating) the calories and nutritional content was eye opening. Having all the details from my iHealth Core wireless scale to go along with it gave me an opportunity to look at correlations day to day. For me, I am trying to shoot for somewhere around 2,000-2,500 calories each day and I would like a rough mix of 40% protein and carbohydrate to 20% fat. I’m nowhere near either of those currently.
Where do these numbers come from? The calories come from the Mifflin-St Jeor equation which you can look up for yourself here. The research behind this can be found here. The nutritional breakdown comes from years of personal experimentation and is based on suggestions like these. Everybody is different and responds to food differently. When I was an athlete in college I needed a much higher percentage of Carbohydrates than what works for me now while trying to lose weight.
Try new things. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If what you are doing is not working, then be willing to try something new. Get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.
Find permanent solutions. As I was going through this, I read a lot about going sugar-free as a permanent choice. I don’t think that will be me, but after doing this I am a lot more open to it. The one thing I found was some permanent solutions that will help me limit the added sugars I eat on a regular basis. One way I found this week to do that was by having an all natural fruit and nut Larabar as a snack. I found both the Cherry Pie and Apple Pie to be a nice treat that could definitely serve as a healthy alternative for a dessert or snack.
If you missed the earlier posts in the Sugar-Free Challenge, you can go back to the introduction.