On the 6th of January I started a ’28 Day Fat Loss Kick Start’ – essentially a month-long detox from all things evil, but with good, fresh, delicious food thrown in. The plan is run by http://www.fitterlondon.co.uk, a great little company based in London and run by two fitness professionals with nutritional interests and knowledge too. Essentially, they follow the ‘paleo-ish’ lifestyle. There are many variations of the paleo ‘diet’ that can be found, but essentially it is all about eating fresh, meat/fish and veggie, a little bit of dairy (normally a ‘no-no’ in ‘proper’ paleo, if there is such a thing), but no wheat or gluten, nothing processed / chemically saturated.
For the past year or so I’ve been trying to follow these principles, but would have gluten ‘every now and then’, and far too much sugary processed crap. At the end of September last year, however, I managed to stop eating gluten completely, and I’ve been off it ever since. I’ve eaten it a couple of times by mistake, and suffered stomach craps and digestive issues (to put it nicely) as a result. So that’s fine, I can live with no gluten. There are gluten-free replacements for a lot of foods, so if I really want pasta or bread, I can have it. Sugar is another matter though.
Anyway, fast forward to January 2014. New year, new focus on food and health. I thought the 28 day detox would be a good start to the year, and set me off on the right path. Essentially the plan follows the ‘paleo-ish’ lifestyle, but the detox element comes from a few banned items that carry on through the month. The idea is to ‘re-set’ the body and try to change some bad habits into good. So the banned stuff includes: booze, caffeine, dairy, and sugar. The first three are fine – a dull headache greeted me on the evening of Day 1, and hung around until Day 3, but nothing major, and I don’t miss them at all. The first 5 days are the hardest – lots of soups and salads and veggies, but not as much protein as I’m used to eating, so I’ve been a bit peckish at time, but the upside of that is it has made me realise it is actually okay to feel hungry sometimes. From tomorrow the protein content kicks up a notch, so I envisage any hunger pangs pretty much disappearing.
What I’m struggling with – and so far managing to keep on top of – are the sugar cravings. They kicked in on Day 2, and have been my constant, yet unwanted companion ever since. I’ve suddenly got this sugar person living in my brain, waving its arms frantically to get my attention and tell me just how good it would be to have that one little sugary treat. Sometimes he crawls down to my stomach and jumps about shouting ‘why have you abandoned me? I thought you loved me!!! You do know that life will be MISERABLE without me??’. I ignore this mad sugar demon, but the over-excited little fucker just will NOT go away.
I know sugar isn’t good for me. I know my mind is just playing tricks on me. I absolutely know that it is a craving that is driving me insane, and not some nutritional deficiency. This week I’ve eaten a wide variety of salad leaves, tomatoes, butternut squash, spinach, celery, cucumber, carrots, peas, herbs & spices, onions, leeks, broccoli, sweet potatoes, different nuts, avocado, peppers, beef broth, salmon, cod, chicken, and probably a few other things I can’t remember. So I’ve hardly been depriving myself of nutrition or vitamins. But I cannot shift these cravings.
I’ve never smoked, so I don’t know what it is like to quit, but I would challenge anyone to tell me that giving up sugar is easier, that it is not an addiction. The thought of having something sweet and sugary makes me feel warm and comforted. It makes me feel as though anxieties and tension will just melt away, that the constant pressure to resist it is the WRONG thing, and if I just relent, the pain will slowly ebb away, to be replaced by an almost meditative calm. I can imagine some people will read that and thing ‘Oh just get a fucking grip!’, and I can’t blame them to a degree, it does sound utterly mental. Today I’ve mostly spent the day feeling anxious about the fact that what if I never have sugar again? What kind of life will I have if I can’t join my pals in having a dessert with dinner, or a biscuit with a cuppa, or a tiny little chocolate from a box? If meals are generally three courses, then I’d effectively be cutting out a third of my life, and the pleasure that goes with it, not to mention all the non-meal sweet treats. These thoughts are nonsensical, but they’re very real. While I’m not saying that I’ll cut sugar out forever – it isn’t realistic, and life really wouldn’t be worth living, I’m genuinely worried, because in my 38 years on this earth I’ve NEVER, not once, managed to have a healthy relationship with sugar, so who is to say I will now?
I’ve not figured out the answer to that – I’ve got 23 days to work it out before this plan finishes and I’m ‘released’ back into the wild to fend for myself. In the meantime though, I’m just gritting my teeth and soaking up the support from the other people i’m going this plan with (we have a group online that we can all access – it makes the WORLD of difference). We’re all suffering at the moment, but we’re keeping going, knowing it is making a difference.
So on to the good bits – well, the healthy food is already a good bit – in the last week I’ve lost a few pounds, bringing my total weight loss since I started this blog to 16.8lb, and total from my heaviest ever (last April) to 18lb. I’ve lost a couple of cm from my waist too, so that is something to be happy with. Part of the reason for writing this particular post was to make myself accountable again. I’ve been so close to going out and buying a massive bag of chocolate and bingeing on the lot that I needed to write this to say ‘make sure you don’t do that!’. I needed to go to the supermarket tonight, but I didn’t go because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to resist buying sweets. Pathetic but true.
So I’ve survived another day, and can go to bed happy that I didn’t ruin it all by succumbing to my sugar addiction.
Onwards and upwards.