I (kind of) Quit Sugar, and I liked it – Part III

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Click to read Part I and Part II.

Week 6

The Week 6 menu looks amazing, AND we get to reintroduce a little fruit back into our diet, hurrah! Frustratingly, I am unable to cook a lot of the recipes with the very basic cooking instruments that I have available with all my kitchen gear on its way to Sydney, so this week is also going to be a write-off for me in terms of sticking to the meal plan. While I am still avoiding sugar, I am not eating nearly as many vegetables as I was earlier in the program, I’m not getting as much variety in my diet as I was just a couple of weeks ago, and I have been skipping meals because it’s just easier. Consequently, combined with the extreme stress that I am currently experiencing thanks to this bloody move, I am feeling sluggish, rather emotional and completely exhausted.

My dad lives and works quite remotely out in the bush (about a five hour drive from PosyTown, and a fairly hectic drive at that), but he drove in to town to see me one last time before we fly down to Sydney – he called to take me out for a milkshake. Not a coffee, a milkshake. I had to laugh, it would seem I will always be five years old to my dad. I enjoyed every sip of my shake, though I did feel pretty sick after finishing it! I’m not sure if it was just a coincidence, but about half hour later, I came down with a cracking headache…

It is an emotional week for me, but it was always going to be, sugar or no sugar – it is the week we move to Sydney! It is also the week that my beloved Sydney Roosters WIN THE GRAND FINAL – and Mr Posy and I are actually there to see it!

Week 7

Our first week living in Sydney! We are surrounded by boxes, but surprisingly unpacking is a lot easier than packing, even with less storage space than in PosyTown. We don’t completely stick to the prescribed meal plan, but we are still on the IQS-wagon. I am feeling completely amazing, but this is can probably be largely attributed to the high that I am experiencing now that WE LIVE IN SYDNEY.

PosyDog is loving all the extra walks as we explore our new area, and I am loving the extra energy that I have. My clothes are looser, my eyes brighter and skin clearer, and I am feeling generally amazing.

Week 8

It would seem that finishing up at work, moving, and wedding planning finally catches up with me – I have come down with a chest infection… Just in time to start my new job – perfect! I have no appetite, so  stick to a fairly bland diet of grilled fish and steamed vegetables instead of this week’s meal plan. I have a disgusting cough (let’s not mention the stuff I’m bringing up…), my chest and back hurt, I’m completely exhausted, and I am getting very little sleep thanks to the aforementioned cough. A GP puts me on a course of antibiotics and gives me something that is supposed to help the cough, but all it does is make me feel hungover the next morning.

Mr Posy and I attend a friend’s birthday dinner on the Saturday night of Week 8 (which I cough and wheeze my way through) – I throw caution to the wind and indulge in a little dessert AND a little birthday cake. Life is for living!

I realise that my cravings for sugar have for the most part disappeared, and that I no longer crave chocolate and icecream, but instead fruits like raspberries, kiwi fruit and plums. I have far more variety in my diet than I have ever had – and I am no longer getting a large portion of my daily calories from sweets. I have created good new habits – I’m consuming more vegetables (with a focus on veggies that are in-season), and I’m back on the breakfast wagon (which I had taken to skipping), and kicked bad old habits – dessert every single night (often ‘just because’), chocolate/various other sweets every day, and mindless snacking. I feel like this is what IQS is all about – or at least what it was all about for me – regaining balance in your life.

Life after IQS

So, nearly two years on since I did the IQS8WP – do I eat sugar? Of course I do. Life is for living! I like chocolate. And ice cream. And cake. And Black Forest Trifle from Rockpool Bar & Grill. But I can’t eat sweets in the same quantity that I once could – neither my tastebuds nor my stomach can take it. I actually prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate these days! I no longer use chocolate as my emotional crutch, nor do I feel the need to eat sweets just because.

The picture I’ve painted of my diet pre-IQS8WP possibly sounds a lot worse than it was, but I did feel very unbalanced, and I am a lot happier with my nutrition now. I enjoy meal planning each week, I love the variety that I have in my diet, and I am a lot better at ‘listening’ to my body these days. I have more balance in my life – not just with what I eat, but overall – and I feel a lot better for it.

I (kind of) Quit Sugar, and I liked it – Part II

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Click to read Part I.

Week 2

Spend much of the week tired, teary, cranky and anxious – but we’re just over four weeks out from an interstate move and there is still a lot to be done, so this is probably ‘normal’. The scales show a loss, which I suspect is a combination of stress and cutting out sugar. The headaches seem to have disappeared, but I’m completely exhausted.

Had a Friday lunch with work colleagues at a Thai-Indian-Nonya restaurant. Knew that my dish would include sugar, but threw caution to the wind and just ate it. Honestly, I will not be the person that sits at a restaurant and asks the waiter to ask the chef to omit sugar from my dish. I am really into giving this giving-up-sugar-thing a go, but I’m not going to let it rule my life.

Mr Posy calls me late Saturday afternoon telling me that his SIL wants us to go out for ice cream down by the wharf after we’ve had our dinner. I have a minor breakdown, before deciding I’ll just have water and fake a stomachache. We get down to the wharf and I discover that the ice cream place has a ‘natural yoghurt’ ice cream, which I decide is a good alternative. There’s no denying it has sugar added, but it is definitely a better choice than the triple chocolate, and, I feel, a good compromise. I am very conscious of how my attitude to and decisions I make about food might impact Niece Posy, and I decide that I am not going to be the person sipping water while the rest of the family is enjoying ice cream on such a beautiful evening. I am just going to have to make the best choice that I can in these situations – we only have a few weeks left with family before we move, and I intend to enjoy this time.

I feel incredibly anxious on the Sunday, but thankfully I have a coffee-date with a friend, and I feel a lot better after talking through some of my moving-anxiety with her. I stop by our local on the way home to do the grocery shop for the week – $80, seriously, eighty bucks, for the two of us for the week, again including all breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. This includes meat/fish for five out of seven dinners… Amazing!

Week 3 

Despite sleeping terribly Sunday night (I think thanks to the second coffee), I wake feeling fairly refreshed Monday morning. Waking early is definitely getting easier. Despite the late timeslot, I have a really good touch football game – I feel lighter, faster, stronger and more focused.

I realise that I am going to be without our fridge in about a week once the removalists have been in, and start to panic. What am I going to do without a fridge for two weeks?! This program relies pretty heavily on both the fridge and freezer – I am going to have to work something out.

I am feeling a lot better within myself, and while I’d definitely like to indulge in some chocolate or ice cream, I’m no longer having mad cravings for sugar. I’ve noticed I’m snacking a lot less now too – I eat when I’m actually hungry, not just because it’s a habit or because I’m bored… I don’t see a loss on the scale this week, but no gain either – my weight has remained stable, hurrah!

I argued with myself repeatedly all weekend – I wanted some ice cream or some chocolate, and I had one part of my brain saying “No! Don’t do it! Keep going with IQS!”, and the other part of my brain saying “Shut up! You’re an adult! If you want to have a scoop of ice cream, you totally can!”. Make a compromise with myself – I will keep going with the IQS program, but if I still want a treat when I’m in Sydney at the end of Week 4, it’s mine…

Week 4

I get through Monday – Wednesday on the IQS program (and when I jump on the scales on the Wednesday, I’ve again remained stable!), but come off the rails a little Thursday – Sunday while we are in Sydney. Breakfasts are easy – eggs on toast, some days with a side of spinach, bacon and avocado. We generally skip lunch, instead opting for an extra coffee (bad!), but dinners are tricky, mostly because I refuse to ask if sugar has been added to a dish, so I just make the best choice that I can with the information that is in front of me. Where I really come unstuck though, is at Yogurt World. The first visit on the Thursday, I can rationalise that it is the treat that I said I would have at the end of Week 4 in Sydney. It’s just a bit of frozen yogurt, a little fruit, a little chocolate (that I actually find too sweet). The second visit on the Friday I rationalise as a celebration – we were accepted on a place that we applied to rent, hurrah! The third and final visit on the Saturday is just because, and still I don’t feel guilty, and I probably should…

Week 5

It is supposed to be detox week (no meat, no wheat, no caffeine (WHAT?!) and no alcohol on top of the no sugar) – I thought we were already bloody detoxing? – but I have a little problem… The removalists came first thing on the Monday morning, packed up my house, and drove away with all my belongings – so that makes things a little difficult. We only have very basic kitchen utensils, plus a cooktop and oven, and I’ve borrowed a bar fridge from my brother – no freezer, no food processor or blender, no sharp knives etc etc etc. I decide that I will move detox week to Week 7 or 8 once we are in Sydney and in our new place (!!), and that I will just rely on regular IQS recipes this week. With under two weeks to go in PosyTown before we move to a city in a whole different state more than 4,000 kilometres away, it’s probably not a good week for me to be ‘detoxing’ anyway. Me without coffee? Not pretty. Not happening. Not this week or next, anyway…

Still to come: Weeks 6-8 and life after the IQS8WP in Part III.

I (kind of) Quit Sugar, and I liked it – Part I

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I was going through my drafts, and realised that with all the craziness of moving to Sydney and then getting married that I never published this post! So here it is – from back in 2013…

Back in August (2013), a good friend mentioned to me that she was interested in giving the whole ‘I Quit Sugar’ thing a go. I had seen the IQS social media frenzy and read a little about it, and was intrigued, but reasoned that I didn’t believe in cutting out entire food groups for the sake of it. I know, I know – would we call sugar a food group? Well, if you’d looked at my diet pre-IQS, then you could be mistaken for thinking so… And don’t you cut out fruit as part of IQS? That’s ludicrous! I realised that I just didn’t want to give up all things chocolate, and once I understood that cutting out fruit was only temporary I decided to jump on the (band)wagon to go along for the ride with my mate. Here is my experience of the IQS 8-week program.

One last hurrah

The incredibly mature thing to do when you’re about to embark on eight weeks of no sugar is to of course eat as much of it as possible while you still can. I know we’re only cutting out fruit temporarily, but I eat it like it’s my last supper. Along with caramel in my coffee (I don’t even normally add sugar to my daily latte!), copious amounts of chocolate ice-cream, and a bag of red frogs. Know that the initial detox is going to hurt. A LOT.

The initial preparation

Lying  on couch feeling sorry for self – suffering from terrible indigestion, a smashing headache, and fatigue from said sugar binge. Realise that I’m being ridiculous and it’s time to make the change. Remove self from couch and head off to forage for vegetables at local supermarket. Buying regular milk (i.e. not skim/low-fat) is so foreign, that I stand in the dairy aisle staring at all the cartons of milk for so long an employee asks if I need help finding something.

Weekly shop for two people (for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks) comes in at about $200 in total. Given we normally shop for dinner each evening after work (and usually buy lunch during the day), this is an incredible saving, and if nothing else comes from this plan, we’ll be saving on the cost of groceries, AND we’ll have less waste each week.

The weekly cook-up involves roasting beetroot, sweet potato and pumpkin, and steaming broccoli and cauliflower. My whole house smells like farts.

Week 1, Day 1

Feeling rather virtuous after my glass of lemon water at 6.00 am, followed by my 7.00 am breakfast of porridge (made using real oats, not instant), with toasted pepitas and coconut flakes. Manage to get out the door and on my way to work earlier than I have in months, and having eaten breakfast. Feel that it would be counter-productive to consume my morning coffee, but I love my daily ritual and I purchase my latte  from my local cafe (on full fat milk!) anyway. Not ready to give up this indulgence, especially not in the first week that I give up all things sugar.

Slammed with a throbbing headache about 2.00 pm. Would normally have had chocolate/fruit/low-fat fruit yoghurt by this time, but this is just a headache, and not a detox symptom. Right? Feels a little early in the program to be having withdrawal headaches, surely. Email my friend who is doing the program, and we conclude that it’s just a headache.

Dinner is delicious – Sausage, Walnut & Beetroot Hash. With yoghurt. Yes, sausages and yoghurt – I had no idea it could taste so good.

Replace my ritual of dessert on the couch while watching TV with a cup of peppermint tea. Miss you, chocolate ice cream.

Week 1, Day 2

For the first time in months, I actually feel like eating breakfast shortly after waking. Headache from yesterday returns with a vengeance (again around 2.00 pm) – try to fight it off with carrot sticks.

Sister-in-law texts “Dinner at our place! My cousin is making Spanish hot dogs!” – I just want to go home and eat the salmon that is on the meal plan for tonight, but we have less than six weeks left in PosyTown, and we’re trying to spend as much time with both our families as possible. I nearly fall asleep at their dinner table, I’m just. so. tired.

Week 1, Day 3

Another day, another headache – this time it hits me shortly after waking. Am on the verge of tears all day, but that is pretty unsurprising given how stressed and overwhelmed I am with planning our interstate move and wedding (less than six weeks and eleven weeks out). Want to devour an entire bag of Caramello Koalas to numb the anxiety. Eat a carrot. May turn into a carrot by the time this program is over.

Get home from work and want to eat bags and bags of red frogs, bars of chocolate and bowls of ice cream. Go for a run instead.

Week 1, Day 4

Hit snooze twice before dragging myself out of bed. Went to bed late, didn’t sleep well, and am completely exhausted as a result. Vow to make an effort to go to bed earlier. Headache hits about 1.30 pm. Dawns on me that perhaps I need to up my intake? I’ve been skipping my mid-morning snack as I’m still full from breakfast, but perhaps this is a hunger headache and not a withdrawal headache at all? Will test theory tomorrow.

Week 1, Day 5

So much for going to bed earlier. Absolutely exhausted after a late night (though I did sleep soundly for a change). Really struggle to open my eyes and take an exceptionally long time to drink hot water with lemon. Manage to make it to work on time, but all I can think about is how tired I am, and how much I want to go back to bed.

No headache today, hurrah! I don’t know if it’s the quitting sugar/generally eating much better, or if it’s other life changes that are all falling into place, but am feeling much happier, more settled, and just generally content.

Week 1, Day 6

Saturdays are usually big snacking days for me, so was a little nervous with how I would cope. I spend most of the day on the couch watching chick flicks, and thankfully feeling uncharacteristically not-hungry.

Week 1, Day 7

Father’s Day – up early to go out for breakfast with Dad, as he’s in town for the weekend. Breakfast out is pretty easy – poached eggs with bacon and spinach + a latte.

Get our weekly shop out of the way – about $120 for both of us, again including all breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. Can’t remember the last time we spent so little on groceries.

Go for a really long walk in the late afternoon, and end up in tears. As you do. It’s really hard to separate moving/wedding/family stress from detox symptoms. Really want to comfort eat chocolate ice cream right now.

I still have seven more weeks of this?!

Stay tuned for Weeks 2-8 and life after the IQS8WP in Part II and III. 

The Big Chop

Back when I vowed to run a half marathon, I mentioned that I was having a recurring dream about chopping off my hair. Any dream dictionary will tell you that willingly cutting off your hair indicates reshaping your thinking, or shedding (pardon the pun) unwanted thoughts and emotions. A big chop is a metaphorical fresh start. It took me a month and a half to mentally prepare myself.

When I went to see my hairdresser in February, she asked if we were just doing the usual – a trim and touching up the colour.

“No. I want to chop it. Let’s chop it.”

“When you say ‘chop it’, how much are we talking here?”

“Maybe 5 or 6 inches?”

“Are you going to cry? I’m not chopping it if you’re going to cry.”

“I won’t cry. I want to chop it. Chop it. I’m ready.”

“Are you SURE you’re not going to cry?”

“I WON’T cry!”

“If you’re going to cry, you’re going to have to go outside. I can’t deal with tears in my salon. This is a tear-free salon.”

“I PROMISE I won’t cry. I don’t think. Please, just chop it.”

“You’re going to cry. I know what you’re like with your hair. You have to wait until you get in your car to cry. If you cry, I’ll start crying. I can’t deal with the tears.”

“For the love of all things good, JUST CHOP IT!”

Sometimes I think my hairdresser knows me better than I know myself. I’ve been going to her for more than ten years. She’s been privy to all of the ups and downs in my life during this period.

When she was finished cutting, I looked in the mirror. She’d taken less off than I wanted. I looked at the floor. I looked back at the mirror. My hair was short, by my standards. I looked back at the floor, at the sheer length that she had cut off. My eyes welled up.

I felt this overwhelming sense of relief.

“I’m just SO happy. I feel so much lighter. I promise I’m not going to cry, I’m just a bit teary. But they’re GOOD tears. I promise! I LOVE IT.”

My hairdresser rolled her eyes and went to mix up my colour.

It has taken me the better part of a year, but my hair is finally around the length that I first had in mind I wanted about eight months ago.

Every six weeks, I would go a bit shorter than the previous visit. Baby steps. I think my hairdresser was concerned I’d have a breakdown while I was sitting in the hot seat.

I could certainly stand to go another inch shorter… but now that we’re just a little over a year out from our wedding, I think it’s probably time that I started growing it again.

Groundhog Day, The Sequel

The Blackmores Running Festival was held in Sydney last Sunday, and with it, the half marathon that rain, hail or shine, I was going to run, stumble, walk or crawl to cross the finish line, as you might remember. I was so looking forward to running across the Harbour Bridge, finishing up down at the Sydney Opera House, collecting my medal, and ticking an item off my 30 by 30 list.

I think I severely under-estimated just how much of my time would be required in taking on three units for my final study period of university, on top of my full-time job. I would battle through 10-hour days in the office, drive home, set myself up with my journal articles and my MacBook, work on essays through until around 1am, finally fall into bed to sleep, only to wake up and repeat again the next day. Weekends involved trying to juggle essay writing while babysitting Niece and Nephew Posy.

Thirteen weeks, three units, twelve essays.

Mr Posy picked up the cooking (it felt like there was barely time to eat, let alone time to make dinner as well!) and cleaning duties, my sporting commitments fell by the wayside, I got behind in all my television shows, I couldn’t remember the last time I opened a book to read for fun and not for an assignment, and my friends started to forget what I looked like.

I’m not sure when I thought I was going to train for a half marathon.

I handed in my final essays for the study period a fortnight ago, today. I can’t even describe the overwhelming sense of relief, the delirium, that I felt when I pressed the ‘Send’ button for the last time.

By the end, I was up to three coffees a day (from my usual once a day, only in the morning routine), and it was still a struggle to keep my eyes open. I was wrecked.

Now, I’ve had two weeks with so much ‘spare’ time, and I feel a little bit lost. I’ve found myself researching Masters programs, downloading training plans for a half marathon, searching vendors and suppliers for our wedding next year, and coming into work on weekends.

This not-studying-thing is going to require some getting used to. In the meantime, I need to decide on a new half marathon race to run…

30 by 30

A little over three weeks ago, I turned 27. My birthday was a wonderful celebration, seemingly continuing for a good two weeks, and I was utterly spoilt by my family and friends. Mr Posy and I have big plans for the next 12 months – twenty-seven is shaping up to be a fabulous year for me.

Soon after the candles had been blown out, and the last of the cake had been eaten, I started to think about how far I’ve come over the past few years, and where I’m looking to go next. I started to create a list in my head of holidays I wanted to take and goals I wanted to achieve, and before I knew it, my list was so long that ideas were spilling out on to paper.

In three years, I turn 30. People tease that I’m getting old, that I’ll soon be over the hill. Turning thirty doesn’t scare or worry me, it doesn’t fill me with anxiety, but I do have a lot between now and then that I want to achieve. If not now, when?

So I kept adding to my list, until I had my magic number. My 30 by 30 –

  1. Move to Sydney
  2. Stop, absorb, and enjoy our wedding day
  3. Stay in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora
  4. Finish a half marathon
  5. Finish a marathon
  6. Take a cooking class
  7. Learn to play one whole song on the guitar my great uncle made for me
  8. See dolphins/whales in the wild [changed from swim with dolphins]
  9. Take a photography course
  10. Visit Hawaii
  11. Learn to surf
  12. Make a soufflé
  13. Drive the scenic route down from Sydney to the Sapphire Coast [changed from drive the Great Ocean Road]
  14. Keep a plant alive
  15. Take a ballet class [changed from buy a stranger their coffee]
  16. Book in a regular (weekly? monthly? fortnightly?) massage
  17. Go parasailing
  18. Dine at La Villa Mahana (Bora Bora) [changed from degustation at Vue de Monde]
  19. Book a snow holiday
  20. Make my own ice cream
  21. Buy an amazing piece of art
  22. Sign up as an emergency foster carer
  23. Take a design course
  24. Book a beach holiday
  25. Turn off the TV for a week
  26. Host a Christmas lunch/dinner
  27. Buy myself a pair of diamond earrings
  28. Land my dream job (or, at the very least, work out what my dream job actually is) [changed from write a novel]
  29. Forgive
  30. Organise a fabulous celebration for my 30th birthday

Mr Posy is not too impressed with item no. 25 (I suspect during that week he’ll be sneaking in TV-time when I’m not home), but for the rest of my list, he’s happy to come along for the ride.

I’m looking forward to our adventures over the next few years. This list is exactly what I need to get me out of my funk.

And so it begins!

Image credit: Thank you to my design friend who saw me struggling with Photoshop one afternoon after work, and after ascertaining exactly what it was that I was trying to do, helped me create the image that I had in my mind.

Groundhog Day

Do you ever feel like every day is Groundhog Day? Lately, I’ve felt like I’m living the same day over and over; like every day is the same as the last. I’m not exactly unhappy – but I am suffering a mad case of ennui.

I know that we’ve not long finished off the Christmas ham, and that we’re all dusting off our party shoes to bring in a new year, and that I should be buzzing with energy and excitement. But I’m not.

For the past few months, I’ve had dreams most nights of chopping off my hair, and at my next hair appointment in January, I plan to do exactly that. Such a plan would have previously been panic-inducing, but currently, the thought of it is exhilarating. Freeing. Change has always been a major source of anxiety for me, but right now, I’m itching for it.

I read blogs like Fit Mumma, Meals and Miles, Skinny Latte Strikes Back, and Healthy Tipping Point, and consequently I feel… restless. I want to achieve something big. Huge, even.

For months I’ve been trying to work out what that something was, and I’ve finally decided – the Blackmores Half Marathon in Sydney on Sunday 16 September 2012. Run, walk, stumble or crawl – I’m going to cross that finish line.