Not so sweet

In June, I made a choice to cut added, processed sugar from my diet except on special occasions such as holidays, birthdays and after big races.

With stress and anxiety, I was eating too much. A pint of ice cream? No problem. If there was cake or doughnuts at work, hey, a snack! While I generally eat healthy–lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, salmon, nuts and quinoa–cookies and chocolate and ice cream were my weakness. And those treats were having an impact on me.

My energy levels were unstable. Each day, I’d get the 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. crashes. I’d regularly nap after work, which messed up my sleep cycle and I already had trouble sleeping.

I depended on sugar for comfort, and I knew I needed to make a change. So in June, I gave it up completely. No more black raspberry chocolate chunk ice cream (oh, I miss it), random doughnuts from work and chocolate chip cookies. The first few days were really hard, and I went through an ugly flu-like day of detox.

I did, however, keep raw honey and real maple syrup in my diet. Vanilla-honey-milk-chia pudding became an occasional dessert replacement with some actual nutrients in it.

But since, I’ve actually really enjoyed it. One, I don’t have to worry about whether or not I act on those “I NEED CHOCOLATE” impulses. Nope, move on. Two, it saves money.

My energy levels stabilized. No more 2 p.m. wishes for naps (except sometimes on Fridays) and no more after-work naps. While sleep still isn’t the easiest thing for me, I haven’t had quite so much trouble. And sugar no longer has the power over me it once did. A few times since June, I’ve had a cookie or ice cream or fro-yo. And I enjoyed the treat and went back to the regularly-scheduled program.

I also noticed I looked thinner than I did. My abs are a little more defined and my face seemed more cut. Yesterday, I stepped on a scale for the first time in months and had to triple check the number. I lost the sugar and 3 to 4 pounds. I haven’t been at this weight in nine years, since before I went off to college and its large servings of carbohydrates and then a more sedentary lifestyle in the working world. Losing weight was not a goal in my experiment, but I’m OK with it for the benefit of my race and marathon performance.

I have no target weight, and I doubt I’ll step on a scale again in months. What I weigh in the lifestyle I have is what I weigh. It was interesting to me to see the impact sugar has on all aspects of my life, from energy levels to weight.

Sugar will remain a treat for me, and I’ll keep eating a lot of vegetables.

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