New Year, New Me – Days 1-3 Of My Health and Better Eating Journey

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since my last post. Where have I been? Right here, as always. But I’ve shifted my priorities, and not all in a good way.

I’m still leaving mini-reviews over on Goodreads. (Link in the sidebar!) I aim for every book, but I’m less strict with myself than before, so I’m sure I’ve missed a couple.

I’m still writing, which for me is a better use of my time than blogging. (Sorry readers!)

And I’ve been addicted to the app Game of Sultans on my phone. I almost quit, but then I was given leadership of my union, and felt obligated to my teammates to stay play. And I don’t do things halfway. If I play a game, I FULLY COMMIT. Even if it negatively impacts my life. I am trying to cut back though.

So, why the title of this post? Especially in May, which is far from the new year? Well, it’s been nearly a year since I last posted, and I’ve made changes in that time, as mentioned above, but I’m also working on making BIG changes going forward.

Image courtesy of @jamin-djuang-116234

Hi. I’m Caroline, and I’m a sugar addict.

If you don’t have a sweet tooth it’s probably easy to brush off or roll your eyes at anyone who says they’re addicted to sugar. Just stop eating it, right? But no, it’s not that simple. Especially for a picky eater like me. But, I recently made the decision that NOW is the time to make big changes in my life.

If you keep reading you can see just how bad I am about making good food choices. In short: candy and ice cream and minimal veggies.

All this sugar is slowly killing me. And my body shows it, both in how tired and sluggish I usually am (even after a full night of uninterrupted sleep) AND in the stubborn bit of belly fat I can’t lose (and I can’t blame that on my baby, who is now 7 and a half years old!)

So… it’s time for a change. And I’ll admit it, my primary motive for starting this attempt at change is a vain one. In just about 2 years my family is planning a cruise to the Caribbean and dammit, I want to look healthy and good in a bathing suit, and this change needs to start with saying sayonara to sugar. Because I’m an addict and I need to change things.

Courtesy of @PixaBay

I made this difficult decision on Friday – 3 days ago.

Actually, let me back up a bit. I made the decision to get healthier almost as soon as it was decided we were going to make this cruise happen. The better eating plan (I refuse to call it a diet, because diets are something you do for a little while, and I plan to change how I eat FOREVER) was started Friday.

So, I started with fitness. I’ve been trying to go for roughly mile long walks with my girls after school/work, but the weather has been pretty crummy lately, and if it’s too cold I get really bad cold headaches and have to waste at least twenty minutes of my life after the walk waiting for the headache to go away.

So I dug out my workout DVD’s. Les Mills’ Body Pump and The 21 Day Fix are my primary go-to’s, but I know I can also find some good ones on YouTube, and I have PiYo (another BeachBody workout I don’t care for as much.)

Why am I sharing this with the world via my blog? Because I know I’m not the only one with a sugar addiction. I’m not the only one who leads a sedentary life. (On a good day I MIGHT log 3,000 steps on my FitBit.)

I hope that by blogging my journey with sugar reduction, I might inspire someone else. And blogging might keep me more accountable.

NOTE: I am not a health or fitness expert. Everything I know, I learned from the internet, but I do try to locate reputable sources. I welcome anyone to leave comments with sources if I ever give flawed information so that I can learn and so can my readers!


BEFORE:

I feel like I should tell you my usual (bad) habits, to get a feel for what my diet and activity level was like before I started working toward this goal.

Activity: I don’t have a very physically demanding job. My work space is pretty small, so even when I have to do a lot of walking, it’s not a lot of walking! I mostly sit at my desk and process orders, except for when I’m grabbing the items for shipping from the shelf, 15 steps away. After work, when the weather is nice, I try to go on at least a mile long walk, but that’s a newer habit I’m working on building, not my norm, and definitely won’t be happening come winter! (Come summer I’m hoping for a morning and afternoon walk.)

I’m not really overweight, technically I think I’m in the recommended range for a 5’5″ woman, but my belly blubber and lack of energy tell me I need to make changes.

I also “pass” my yearly physical, except my August 2018 numbers put me at high risk for my HDL (good cholesterol.) I came in at 33 mg/dl when the ideal goal is to be above 60. How do I fix this? Cutting the crap and more exercise. (Important to note, I was working at a hotel for over a year and I ate a LOT of free cookies…. Gone are my days of free cookies, but now I need to kick the chocolate to the curb!)

Breakfast: Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, or some other breakfast cereal LOADED with oh-so-delicious and awful for me added sugars, topped with 1% milk. And I never ate ONE serving, who eats only 3/4 cup of cereal? NOT ME!

Lunch: On a work day, usually way too much candy (I’m talking at least 6 of the Hershey Nuggets mentioned above, usually more – a serving size is 3 and that’s 150 calories and 16g added sugar!) or chocolate chip granola bars (usually, at least 2-3.) Sometimes I’d stop at Panera and pick up an Asiago bagel and a couple pads of butter (I’d buy two at a time, one for that day and one for the next.) If I had a good reward on my account, I might get a panini, chicken noodle soup (in the cold months), or a strawberry salad when it was in season. But the panini and salad weren’t often, because I don’t have the money to spend on expensive takeout. I can afford my two bagels at $2.99 a week no problem!

Dinner: I don’t mind cooking, but I hate coming up with ideas for dinner. In the past my go-to meal was pizza. My mother-in-law taught me to make dough and sauce and we would eat that at least once a week. It’s been a while since I made pizza though. Most nights are “fend for yourself” and I might have another bowl of cereal, or a can of creamy chicken noodle soup with a ton of saltine crackers, maybe we’d make homemade panini’s or burgers. Sometimes grilled chicken (my favorite is on a toasted bun with pineapple, lettuce, and a sweet chili mayo mixture I make.) In the last month or so I’ve been making stir-fry, in an attempt to get more veggies into my diet. I really hate veggies, so this is a REAL struggle for me.

Snack: As mentioned before, I would snack on ice cream or another bowl of sugary cereal, and maybe some more chocolate while I’m working at my computer.

Now – ONTO THE PRESENT!


DAY 1: Friday

On Friday I decided I needed to get serious about my health.

I had big plans of making a healthy grilled chicken dish for dinner. Until I got home and discovered we were out of chicken. I don’t know what I ate for dinner, as I hadn’t started logging my food yet, but I’m sure it was something like a bowl of cereal. I did refrain from eating a bunch of chocolate at lunch, so that was something.

When hubby arrived home from work, we ditched the kids at home and went to Costco together in search of some healthy foods, including the giant bag of Perdue Chicken Breasts. I seriously love these because they’re the PERFECT chicken breast for grilling on the George Foreman grill, cutting into chunks for stir fry, anything really!

I also picked up a bag of pistachios. I haven’t had them in forever, but I want to incorporate more nuts into my diet and these were always my (way too expensive) favorite.


DAY 2: Saturday, May 4, 2019

This was when things got real. I spent the day doing laundry and tracking my food.

Weigh In: Weighed myself first thing in the morning and was down 1 lb from the last time I weighed in Friday morning.

EXERCISE: I did a 30 minute Body Pump workout and was really feeling it. (I’d done the same Body Pump workout on Wednesday, and Yoga on Thursday.) Because I’m just getting back into lifting weights, I’m sticking with the lighter 5lb weights on my barbell and the shorter 30 minute workouts. Gradually, when I feel ready, I’ll up to my 10lb weights on the lifts I know I can do, and move to the longer workouts.

FOOD: Was I perfect? No. But I’m not going for perfect. I’m not going to cold turkey remove all sugar from my life. I’m going to work on making healthy choices, but if there’s a moment where I feel the need for a single piece of chocolate, I’m going to look at my nutrition for the day and decide if I’ll allow myself to cheat.

Everything I ate on Saturday.
Some portion sizes are guesstimates.
Oh, and the BBQ sauce I had to just pick one from my options – this was a homemade sauce that The Husband got from a co-worker, so I have no nutrition stats on it.
I also have read that sugars found in milk and fruit should not really count against me since they’re natural sugars.

I do want to limit all sugars, but right now my main focus is added sugars.
So, excluding natural sugars I’m looking at 58g of added sugars.
Yikes.
If one teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams,
that means I consumed about 14.5 teaspoons in under 24 hours.

DAY 3: Sunday May 5, 2019

A lazy Sunday for me! I folded more laundry (seriously, I feel like laundry is my life sometimes!!!)

Weigh In: Forget to weigh in today. But that’s okay, because weight fluctuates a little bit from day to day.

EXERCISE: I planned to do yoga today, since I was still a little sore from the Body Pump session yesterday. Instead I put in 21 Day Fix Lower Body Fix and holy cow were my legs feeling it by the end! I was dripping sweat and absolutely feeling the burn!!!

FOOD: Time got away from us and we didn’t have time to make dinner, since it was a school night for the kids, so we ended up eating canned soup or Ramen. I opted for a can of Campbell’s Creamy Chicken Noodle with a handful of Saltine crackers, knowing full well this was an AWFUL choice. I did try to limit my crackers, so that’s a small victory. And at least it wasn’t sugary cereal? I ended up going over my calories, but my FitBit One doesn’t do a great job of tracking anything that isn’t walking, so I honestly think I may have burned those 80 calories I went over by. (Anyone have the FitBit Charge 3? Does that do a better job tracking exercises that don’t involve a lot of walking, but heart rate increases?)

I was pretty hungry shortly after breakfast on Saturday, so today I opted to double things and use a whole cup of guacamole on two slices of toast with two fried eggs.

For lunch, I went with the least sugary cereal option – regular Cheerios only have 1 gram of sugar per serving. I did add one packet of pure cane sugar to sweeten things, and cut up some strawberries and added those in.

Excluding natural sugars, I was sitting at 30g added sugars.
I’m down to 7.5 tsp of added sugar today vs 14.5 yesterday.
I need to get all my sugars down though.
But this isn’t a race, it’s a learning process.

Eating that bedtime bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios was a bad choice

DAY 4: Monday May 6, 2019

Today I’m feeling optimistic!

Weigh In: First thing in the A.M. and down 0.6 lb!

Exercise: I should’ve done another workout DVD, but I didn’t. I DID go on a walk with my kids though, so I upped my step count, got some fresh pollen-filled air (and itchy eyes), and earned some extra calories. I have a feeling I won’t get to work out again until Wednesday, aside from a walk.

Eating: Today was so much easier! I was going to double my avocado/egg/toast breakfast like I did yesterday, but I burnt one slice of toast when I went to the basement to weigh myself. Whoops! One was enough though. I did almost cave and eat some chocolate twice during the day, and in the evening when I saw where my sugars and total calories were at, I opted to allow myself one Hershey’s Nugget as a treat. AND IT DIDN’T EVEN TASTE THAT GOOD! The nuts for lunch were a killer on my overall fats for the day, but better fats from nuts than sugars? I think? The Panini’s I made for dinner were DELICIOUS and the Ciabata rolls I bought were healthier than I thought! The Husband said we could eat that every night and he’d never get sick of it. Next time I’ll probably add some more deli turkey to the Panini for the calories and protein since I did struggle to reach my caloric goal today. I’m not extremely under so I’m calling it a day and going to bed. AND LOOK AT THOSE SUGARS!!!

Look at those sugars!
Only NINE grams of ADDED sugars! That’s only 2.25 tsp!
I also feel like I’m craving the sugar less.

I did struggle with the nuts, because trail mix always has something sweet – raising or chocolate candies or both!
I’ll be adding a couple chocolate covered almonds to the mix to sweeten it up, and adding a variety of other nuts/seeds, as I adjust to less and hopefully, eventually no, sugar.

Oh, and you can see at the bottom that FitBit did give me extra calories for my walk. Because it knows my steps, but can’t calculate my other workouts.

SUMMARY: The first days were hard, but by day 4 things are getting easier. I do need to find more food options. Eventually I’m going to get REALLY sick of avocado/egg/toast for breakfast! And I’m still not getting NEARLY enough veggies. A handful of carrot sticks with hummus won’t cut it. (Have I mentioned how much I HATE carrots? But they’re such an easy and healthy snack.)



TRACKING TOOLS: I do my tracking with MyFitnessPro – I have a hard time tracking my workout videos with it, so I usually leave those out and just track my food. I like that MFP gives me the breakdown of my macros (fat, protein, carbs) and even lets me customize them if I so desire.

Because I have a FitBit, I connected MFP to my FitBit app and I can see it all there (but have to go into MFP for the Macros.)

Both the FitBit and MyFitnessPal aps are available on Andorid, OS, and on the computer.


MY WRITING LIFE: Even though I’m going to be focusing on my health and fitness journey here, at the end of the day I’m still a writer.

I’m VERY excited to announce that my YA contemporary romance, SOMETHING I’M GOOD AT, will be released in June. No official date yet, and cover reveal to come! I’m waiting for my writing partner to send me her final thoughts (tomorrow she says!) so I can make any final tweaks, then it goes to my editor, and then I’m sending it to NetGalley. (So if you’re a member of NetGalley and in good standing, be sure to watch for my book!)

My editor is VERY QUICK, so I anticipate probably being done with this book by the weekend. It’s been a year long labor of love, and I’m very proud of what I’ve created.

My NEXT project is a teen paranormal series. I’ve got a very loose outline and the first chapter written, so I’m HOPING by fall to have something ready for my editor, but let’s be honest, deadlines aren’t my forte. I say fall, and it may be fall 2020. Either way, it’s in the works. Along with the sequel to SOMETHING I’M GOOD AT.

If you haven’t checked out any of my other teen books yet, both PEACE IN FLAMES and SUMMER OF PEACE are available wherever ebooks are sold!


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