Monthly Archives: March 2016

Day 24: Strange Mood

I normally do not go to the gym on Wednesdays, because I have a two hour rehearsal for the church choir and it is too hard to fit in a workout, shower, take care of the pets, and make and eat dinner in the 3 1/2 hours in between work and rehearsal. Since I’m on Spring Break, I entertained the idea of making an exception, but other things came up. Darn.

First off, I had hoped to get some quality girl time with one of my besties, Jaime this week. Readers from the beginning of this blog when it was about traveling with Freckles may remember her as the hero who stepped up when my house sitter cancelled at the last minute and as the one who convinced me to buy the battery charger/jump starter that saved my tail in the wilds of Washington state. Our schedules did not match up for a whole day, but we were able to fit in a last minute brunch. We talked and, as usual, she got my wheels turning about getting organized and setting up a creative space in my house. We both have great ideas for my house, but I’m going to need to win the lottery to do most of them.

We parted ways and I still found myself in the rarest of rare moods: the mood to clean and organize my house. Organization is the cornerstone to being good at my job, so I have a tendency to expend a lot of that energy at work.  Plus, my organizational style is to tear it all apart and rebuild, so that takes a major time commitment.

I had thought about making a spare bedroom the place for my sewing stuff.  I am a 10 year 4-H-er and clothing was the only category my mom required all of us girls to do every year. I have all the stuff to sew and I enjoy it once I get past the cutting out stage, but that spare room was so full of stuff that I just never do it.  I had an epiphany to make the basement my creative space. It has not flooded in a while and as long as I keep the sewing machine pedal on the table when I’m not using it, then it SHOULD be safe. Weirdly enough, my basement is the room in my house that gets the most natural light so maybe I can finally make that space useful.

The big obstacles in the basement are an elliptical that appears to work, but the tension cannot be adjusted anymore and a treadmill that is stuck on the highest incline.  Both of these met their dooms in separate basement floods. Both are really hard to get out of the basement and they both almost work, so I contacted a repairman to see if they are repairable.  The elliptical would be low impact cardio for me and the treadmill will be for Freckles.  I am not the most high energy person and I detest cold weather, so I had trained Freckles to run on the treadmill. She loved it. Even though the treadmill has been out of commission for a couple of years, whenever I go to the basement she’ll jump on and look at me longingly. So, I’m hoping to help my sweet girl get her beagle on and run. The question is will repairing it cost more than what I paid to buy it.

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Sometimes she’s not napping.

So instead of going to the gym, I cleaned the basement. I am not sure whether to be proud of myself for being a responsible adult or ashamed that I found an elaborate way to avoid working out.

Oh well, at least this avoidance strategy had a pay off instead of my normal avoidance strategy of working on my couch’s butt groove.

Baby steps.

Day 22: The Big Pay-Off

I had to get a new doctor since mine moved, so since I am a new patient it took four months to finally get in for a physical.  That actually worked out since it put it in the middle of this detox.

This was a fasting physical since some blood tests were going to be done.  My job had a mini-physical thing they did last year, so I had not gotten a formal physical in two years.  So as of two years ago, I had tested as pre-diabetic, bad cholesterol ratio (my total wasn’t high, but the ratio of bad compared to good was bad), and my blood pressure has been running on the low end of high.  This means that it was not quite high enough to merit medication, but it was not normal.

Now, it is too early to know how the blood tests will turn out, but I did get some great news.  My weight is lower than two years ago. This is big because I had gained ten pounds last summer on my road trip with my niece and nephew (they liked to be fed. Weird.) Also, my blood pressure was back in the normal range! It also measured in the normal range when I went to the clinic for my cold, so it’s officially a streak!  Now, it’s on the high end of normal, but it is the right direction so YIPPY!

I got home around noon and had breakfast for lunch. There’s a plumber coming tomorrow, so I needed to clean. Of course, I took a nap instead. Priorities.

I was more tired than I realized. I ended up taking a four hour nap. It was a chilly, cloudy day so that may have also contributed.

My workout went well, too well. It started with deadlifts. I like deadlifts. They are very straight forward. You bend over and pick the bar up and stand up. No coordination needed. I think I need to set a new max. The final lifts at 85% were too easy.  The cardio part was 5 rounds of 15 wall balls and then 30 double unders.  Wall balls are when you squat and throw a weighted ball up against the wall about 10-15 feet up, catch it, and repeat. Double unders are jumping rope and you pass the rope under your feet twice in one jump.

I had to modify. The prescribed weight for the wall ball was 14 pounds. My elbow has been sore, so I went down to a 10 pound ball. I also have not been able to do double unders, yet. So, I did 60 single jumps.

This was rounds, so you keep going until you finish. There is usually time cap. I have often hit the time cap. The time cap is my angel of mercy. I don’t know what the time cap should have been and I was not the last to finish, so I am taking that as a sign I should have pushed harder and used a 14 pound wall ball. Yippy?

Coming home meant doing some of that cleaning I had effectively avoided. Ugh.

I am the plumber’s first appointment for the day, so I have to set an alarm for tomorrow morning. This means I have to set my alarm clock for the third time during my Spring Break and it will only be Tuesday.

Might be another nap in order tomorrow.

Living the high life over here.

Day 21: Easter, The Temptation Minefield

I did not write about yesterday because I had a rant to get off my chest, but the need to rant was what shaped yesterday.

I was awoken Saturday morning at 5:30am by Freckles insisting she needed to go out. Not one to get up that early voluntarily, I went back to bed. She needed another potty break at 7am. My philosophy is any time before 8am is not sleeping in, so once again I went back to bed. This time, I woke up, but it was 10:45 and the gym class I normally go to starts at 11am. I knew I needed a workout, but I also was not in a people mood and the gym is crowded on Saturday even if I tried to do the workout myself. That’s when I decided that a nice hike was in order to clear my head and get my mind straight.

It was a crisp, sunny Spring day. When I hike, it is because I want to be alone in nature and away from people. I knew a day like this meant that staying in the city was out of the question. I stuck on going to a nice, secluded nature preserve that was off the beaten path called Pine Hills NP. The last time I had went, Shades State Park had tore out the parking lot and bathroom and created a trail in the park to the preserve so that they could still collect gate fees. I still wasn’t worried because Shades is often mentioned as one of those overlooked gems in the park system. I thought if I was really lucky, it might even be too early in the year for them to be collecting gate fees and it could be free.

I have never been a lucky person.

The hour and 1/2 drive to Shades was fine, but I found myself in a line of cars at the gate which was my first bad sign.  Then I drove back to the trailhead and found an overflowing parking lot. Ugh. My family has been coming to this preserve since the late 80’s and that parking lot had more people than I had seen at that preserve all the years I had gone before combined. So much for a secluded walk.

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I think I was a Mountain Man in a past life, because the last thing I want to see in the wild are people.

Freckles was still super excited and wanted to sniff everything. Every once in a while, she would have her nose to some leaves and she’d suddenly jump back. It would startle me and my first thought every time would be, “Snake!”  I was happy never to see a snake, but we didn’t see any other wildlife either. Every time we would come to a natural landmark, my meditations and thoughts would be interrupted by a loud group tromping through. I saw lovely things, but I was also fairly peeved for much of the hike.

Nature overpowered my foul mood and I think we arrived at the end of the crowds, so by the end of the hike I was feeling more centered again. Freckles was happy and worn out, so we headed home.

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Pooped pooch

Good thing I built up my fortitude for the sugar minefield that is Easter.

I am in my church’s choir and for Easter we performed at both services. In the hour in between, we have a pitch-in breakfast. I knew this was not going to work for my detox. First off, there is a whole table just of sweets and almost every casserole was made with bacon or sausage, both of which usually have sugar. I ate breakfast at home beforehand and drank black coffee there.

Then I travelled to my parents for Easter dinner. We had a mini Easter last Sunday since none of the grandkids would be here, so Mom and Dad wanted to go to Cracker Barrel to eat. Ironically, this is one of the easier times I had finding food I could eat at a restaurant.  Since they cater to an older crowd, they had some diabetic-friendly choices that fit what I needed.

When we got back to their house is when things got tough. There was candy everywhere. Extras from when Mom put together the kids’ baskets, treats leftover from other pitch-ins, and then the normal temptations I don’t keep in my house were all around. Later in the afternoon, the half of the grandkids that aren’t in Texas for Spring Break arrived. Now their candy was everywhere, unguarded, and within easy reach…

Then my aunt passed out what she had gotten us adults. I saw my sister and brother-in-law get bags of Reese’s eggs while I got raisins and sunflower seeds. Weight Watchers has a saying, “Nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels.” I believe that Reese’s peanut butter eggs are the exception to that rule.

I am proud, and more than a little surprised, to say that I survived Easter unscathed and the detox still intact. My eating was not the best today, but once again I  am claiming a win by technicality.

I will be dreaming of Reese’s tonight. Freckles better not wake me up or she might get mistaken for a chocolate bunny with those floppy ears of hers.

This Is Not About the Sugar Detox, Except That I Can’t Cope with Ice Cream

I’ve actually lost count of what day it is for the detox.  I want to say Day 19, but please correct me if I am wrong.  Today I want to write about my frustrations with being in the education field. I will of course be using examples that are unique to me, but I think many of the frustrations and feelings it evokes in me are universal.

I have not written the last few days because I have been struggling with something other than food: illogical guilt.  Today was the first day of Spring Break and instead of feeling relaxed, I am more stressed out than before. You see, Thursday I was approached about coming in to work on the library over my vacation  to help supervise the people being paid to be there. My time would, of course, be volunteer. Why a place that has been closed since mid-December all of a sudden has to be finished right now when it’s on my time is beyond me, but here’s the thing: I still feel guilty about not wanting to give up my vacation to do this. In the same conversation, I was also asked to present at the Professional Development on the Monday when we get back. I was busy in the library all day Friday, so preparing for the PD is essentially another task I have been given to do over my vacation.  This is simply not fair and what really chaps my arse is that if I do come in, none of this will be appreciated or acknowledged in any meaningful way.  I know this because it never has been before. Take last year for example.

I had a student who was graduating. He was smart, but his social skills needed some work. He is one that will be a great employee someday, but first he has to make it through the interview.  Here’s the thing, the Americans With Disabilities Act or ADA is great, but proving discrimination in hiring is very hard. He was a kid who looked obviously visually impaired and he would not be the best interviewee, so I really wanted him to participate in a summer jobs program to give him experience and a great reference to strengthen his application when he went looking for a job someday. He lived about an hour and a half from our school and his home school district was unwilling to provide transportation to get him here on Sundays and pick him up on Fridays for the four week program. I really wanted this opportunity for him, so I went to my administration and then  his dad and got permission to drive him myself. I had driven 10,000 miles the summer before (read the archives for that trip), so I didn’t think it was a big deal. I figured I would use it as an opportunity to camp at a few state parks that were close to him anyway instead of driving home. This kid was excited beyond belief. He was constantly thanking me for the next few months, then the week of graduation (aka the last minute) the administration reversed its decision and said I could not drive him. They claimed it was because they did not want me to feel obligated to do it, so they were forbidding it to help me out. First off, it was my idea and last I checked, I am a grown woman capable of making her own decisions. Of course, I do live in Indiana and this is not a state that thinks women are capable of making their own decisions, but I digress. I have some theories about the real reason, but at the end of the day the reason they gave me was BS.

My student was despondent for the rest of the week, when he should have been celebrating graduation. In his eyes, I became just another adult who had let him down.

He had given up, but I was not out just yet. I went to my church and they bought gas cards so his father could bring him on Sundays and we organized drivers to take him home on Fridays since his dad was at work. (For some reason it was okay for strangers to drive him, but not me…) It was all set and then his dad got sick the day the jobs program started and it was all over. He did not get to do the program.

Cut to August or September and I am getting my evaluation from the previous school year that determines my raise. Once again, I scored just below the cut off for Exceeds Expectation. I looked over it to find where I could have gotten one more point to push me over the top and in the category for doing things for students outside of school hours I had gotten a three out of four.

Pay for performance is a joke. It’s a game I know is rigged, but I beat myself up about it anyway. It’s like a carrot on a stick, except it turns out the carrot is made of plastic.

So it is my vacation and I have been asked to work for free. If I do, then my morale will take a huge hit when once again I merely “Meet Expectations.” If I don’t, then I will feel like I’m letting the kids down and like I didn’t quite reach far enough for that carrot.

Yep, a lot of feelings I want to eat right now. At least a pint’s worth.

Day 16 & 17: Uh-oh

Yesterday was pretty great. Not in a “Wow, this is the greatest day ever!” way more of a “Everything was pleasant today” way. I got to put in a lot of time in the library. I also had the luxury of listening to podcasts and an audiobook while I worked. It was an introvert dream day.

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Livin’ the dream.

After work, I had my violin lesson, which went well. I definitely did not miss my calling as a violinist, but at least it’s starting to sound like music. I am great at the old “get the teacher off topic” trick, which is dumb since I’m paying for the lessons. I don’t always make the best financial decisions. That’s right, food is not my only foible.

I made a relatively painless trip for groceries and found pomegranates. I love pomegranates, but they are very seasonal so this was a major score. I also found sugar free peanut butter and sugar free/gluten free tortillas. The jury is still out on whether those will be considered scores or not.

The gym is where things got really great.

Yes, I really said that.

Our lift was the back squat. Basically, you put the bar behind your head at the bottom of your neck and then you squat down and get back up. We were working on a one rep max and I was able to increase my personal record by twenty pounds! I don’t think it’s all that I’m that much stronger. I think it has just as much to do with getting more flexible so that I can get down and not fall over.

The second half was a bear. For twenty minutes, you would do two power cleans the first minute and then ten box jump burpees the second minute and repeat ten times. Power cleans are one of those lifts requiring coordination. You bring the bar up to your thigh and then jump to make the bar come up to under your chin and then you squat down and come back up. Yes, lots and lots of coordination. I have some nice bruises on my thighs from when I’d finish and bring the bar down to my legs before dropping it. I consider them a badge of honor (or just bad form.)

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Lots of badges there…

Burpees are still the spawn of Satan, so I’m not sure why they need to add a layer of suck to them with the box jumps. Now, I don’t do box jumps. My visual impairment makes it so I don’t have depth perception, so for now I step up on the box instead. Since my jumps on the end of burpees generally get me about two inches off the ground (on a good day) I just don’t feel confident that I’m not going eat floor if I box jump. Jumping is a goal for forty pounds from now. I just have a long list of why it ain’t happening anytime soon.

It was a long twenty minutes. I think seven is the closest I came to reaching ten burpees in a minute. My average worked out to be around five each time. I have seen improvement, but I’m still a slow burpee-er. I actually found myself grunting to do some of the lifts today, which was a first. In high school, we competed against a state-record holder discus thrower and the thing that our coach got from watching her wasn’t her form or explosive speed, it was that we should emulate her grunt when we threw. I tried it a few times, but it is just a distraction when you are forcing it. You aren’t concentrating on form when you feel like an idiot. But the spirit moved me when I was going for my new PR and finishing the power cleans. Who knew? Maybe I should give tennis another go.

This was a workout where I really felt like I left it all out there and it paid off.

When I got home, I had to prepare my lunches for the rest of the week and I decided to be responsible and go to bed at a decent hour instead of staying up to write.

I had trouble getting to sleep, partly because I was pumped to write about it, but now that I am doing it the next day, I have the unsettling feeling that I am forgetting something. That has been the downside of this sugar detox. The brain runs on glucose, aka sugar, so my mind has felt sluggish. It’s better than the first week, but I still don’t feel like my brain is firing on all cylinders. All the better that a majority of my job is currently just moving stuff, which doesn’t take a lot of brainpower.

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So much stuff

Today was fairly non-descript. My sister, her three kids, and my aunt came to Indy to stay in a hotel and swim for their Spring Break, so I went over to hang out with them. I arrived around 5pm and was surprised that they were having dinner at the hotel.  It was ziti with marinara sauce and breadsticks; so no, no, and no. We did some swimming and then the kids wanted to go out for ice cream.

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Ok, not everyone was in favor of the ice cream plan.

I pointed out that I had not eaten dinner, so we compromised with Steak & Shake.  The best I can say is that I made a technically good choice. I had a patty melt and the sugar concern was the bread, but a quick Google search and question to the Detox group led me to conclude that rye generally has no or little sugar. If you don’t take the grease and butter into consideration, then I probably met the sugar requirement, but I can only count it as a win by technicality at best. It’s like winning the Tour De France because the twenty people who beat you tested positive for steroids.  It’s a hollow victory.

The silver lining is I gave my fries to the kids and I didn’t get a shake, nor did I taste any ones.  I think a taste would break all resolve and I would have ordered all the milkshakes, so I will have to accept the technicality and just keep moving forward.

Day 14 & 15: The Birthday Without Cake

Sunday was my birthday and as the tradition goes, I spent it with my church choir.  Oddly, I have spent four of my last five birthdays with the choir. The first one we had a performance, the year after that was a normal Wednesday rehearsal, the next year we had an unprecedented Thursday rehearsal, last year I got to spend with friends, and then this year we had a special Easter rehearsal after church. There is a part of me that is starting to wonder if our director has a superstition about singing on the 20th.

My long stint with the choir started out pretty rough.  I had finally gotten over my cold. My sinuses were clear and my lungs were phlegm free. That is, they were until I was attacked by what I think was a sentient perfume cloud. Within minutes of the person sitting next to me, my sinuses were at capacity and overflowing into my vocal cords and my eyes were burning. It was like being in a middle school locker room when the boys discover Axe body spray for the first time.  It was miserable.

When the service was over, our director had suggested everyone take home their robes for cleaning. I was approached by a friend who is in her mid-twenties. She asked if she could ask me a weird question and who doesn’t love a weird question? She asked if I lived in an apartment. Not too high on the weird scale, so I had to ask my own follow up, “why?” She then explained that she figured that since a lot of young people live in apartments and apartments often don’t have washers/dryers, then she would offer to take some of the young members’ robes with her to wash. During her stumbling explanation, she kept saying “young members” so finally I could not resist (mainly because I was pretty sure I’d like her answer), I asked her how old she thought I was.  Being in her mid-twenties, she immediately got a deer in the headlights look and seemed genuinely concerned that she would insult me by guessing too young. (HA!) Finally, she said, “Not much past 30.”

I hugged her. It was the best gift a 41 year old could get. The fact that she apologized, again because she thought she was being insulting for guessing too low, was just gravy. Believe me, I am at the age where I take being carded as a compliment.

When choir let out, it was time to get Freckles and head to my parents for my birthday dinner. I had a free drink coming to me from Starbucks for the birthday reward, so I decided to try something new since I couldn’t get my favorite sugar laden choice. I went with their sugar free caramel latte and I had them make it with coconut milk. I was hoping for something mimicking a Girl Scout samoa cookie, but alas, it was not to be.  First off, the coconut overpowered everything except for the weird aftertaste of many sugar free products. I have yet to find an artificial sweetener that I even remotely like. Whatever was in the caramel also gave me a slight headache, so that was a bust.

When I arrived at my parents, the nieces and nephew where already there, but even though they were there for my party it was shouts of, “Freckles is here!” that greeted us.

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She’s small, but she’s fast.

I arrived right into temptation town. They were finishing up a lunch of lasagna and garlic bread. Two deliciously sugar-laden bits of heaven that I could not have. I settled for some plain lunch meat and half of the nasty latte. One of my sisters and her family are going to visit our other sister in Texas over Easter, so it was also early Easter for them which meant there was candy. Someone had even made monster cookies. I love monster cookies and this was the first time anyone had ever brought them to a family gathering and all I could do was look longingly at them.

When it was finally time for dinner, my family had done a great job of accommodating me and this detox. My sister bought sugar free vinaigrette for her salad (unfortunately, had the artificial sweetener aftertaste of death). I had requested a casserole my mom makes called hot chicken salad. My favorite part of hot chicken salad is the garlic butter soaked croutons on the top. It truly pained me to scrape them off when I got my portion. It’s a lot of croutons, so I can neither confirm or deny that two or three may have made it onto my plate and into my mouth…

Dessert was strawberry shortcake for everyone else and plain strawberries for me. I did notice that they tasted a lot sweeter on their own than they had before, so I guess my tastebuds are acclimating to not being drowned in sweetness. The kids kept their promise and saved me the best strawberries.

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It was a nice birthday and it was great to spend the day with most of the family.

Today was pretty nondescript. I spent it putting up shelves in the library. I like to have the occasional day like that where you can see a physical pile of “to do” shrink or disappear into a finished project. I am over halfway on getting the shelves put together and then it will be time to put stuff back on them.

I was hoping to get back to the gym today since my lung congestion was gone, but after a day of manual labor I ended up taking an inadvertent nap instead.  I look forward to staring at my ceiling tonight while a half hour nap somehow translates into three hours of insomnia.

Tomorrow I will go to the gym, but it’s too late to avoid the guilt email. When you are gone for a week, my gym sends a “We miss you” email.  It’s very effective and demonstrates part of what is special about the place. They want you to come, not just pay your dues. I was part of a chain gym that did not see me for most of the three years I was a member and the only emails I got were about renewing my membership and to update my credit card info.

This place is different which is why I am still writing about a sugar detox 15 days strong instead of just saying to myself, “I’ll start the diet next Monday,” as I finish a DQ Blizzard.

Days 12 & 13: Coping Mechanism

As I have said before, I am an emotional eater and Friday was emotionally kicking my arse.

Friday was a day I was looking forward to work. I was going to finally be able to get into my library and start putting up some shelves and books! I was happy to have some concrete, active work to do that did not include paperwork.

What should have been a happy day, was instead one of epic irritation and often anger. It started off by me waking up at 4:15, and I just could not get back to sleep. Then right off the bat, it was like everyone who knows how to push my buttons found me and pounded away. Some people irritated me in person, some over email, and one very special irritant ticked me off by not talking to me. Do you have any idea hard it is to irritate me by not talking to me? Silence is normally something I cherish in people who irritate me.

I was so ready to get home.

When I got home, I was welcomed by a nice puddle of pee on the carpet courtesy of my dog. I even put my knee it. Once I cleaned that up, I went to the bathroom myself and sat on a surprisingly cold, wet seat. (That happened two more times before I realized the water on the seat was because one of my cats has started playing in the toilet water. Gross.)

My normal coping strategy, especially on a Friday afternoon would be to order a pizza, put on some comfy clothes, and binge on Netflix. The pizza was my favorite part.

Without being able to put myself in a food coma, I just got more and more irritated which turned into anger. I did not know what to do with myself.  I just kept getting worked up more and more. All I could think to do was take a nap. That didn’t last long (thanks again, Freckles.)

I fumed and fussed the rest of night to the point that I didn’t trust myself to write and keep my cool.

Now that I cannot put myself in a food coma when I’m upset, I need to find a new coping strategy.

Ideally, I would cope using exercise or meditation, but I’m not there yet. Right now, and probably for a while longer my strategy will be hours of being pissy and hungry.

It’s been a fun weekend. Can’t wait for my cake-less birthday party tomorrow.

I might still be working though some anger.

Day 11:St. Patrick’s Day, M’eh.

As part of the 30 Day Sugar Detox, alcohol was also taken off the menu or at least that was my understanding. Facebook would suggest that not everyone read that part the same as I did. I imagine some of my Detox-compatriots are suffering a bit since it is a drinking holiday, but I hate beer and crowds so this one is a walk in the park for me. As you may have already guessed, it’s the sugary mixed cocktails and sweeter wines that are my drinks of choice, so nothing for me on St. Patrick’s Day.

I’m actually doing this post at a reasonable hour. Usually, I’m writing about a half hour or so after I should have already gone to bed. (Good sleep habits are not a healthy habit I’ve been able to pick-up, yet.) So not sleeping as much as I should and hitting the gym before I could really breathe properly again has really given my cold new vigor and a strong hold on my respiratory system, so I decided to stay home and get the rest I need to get over this thing. Even though I am on a prescription cough medication and the Mucinex that the Nurse Practitioner recommended, I woke up this morning with no voice and a cough that sounded like I’ve had a three pack a day habit since I was eight. It was real fun to call in sick to work using a voice menu.  One of things that plagues me is that many medications don’t do much or anything  at all for me. That is why I’ve had problems with my allergies for months. No medicines I have tried have made a dent in my symptoms. I doubt it’s a “taking as directed” problem either. If there is one thing I do well, it is following directions*. Nerd life, yo.

*Coaches: having the coordination/balance/flexibility to perform a physical task with good form is not the same as the ability to follow directions.

Ironically, my rest was interrupted by an early morning call from the clinic following up on how I was doing. Also strange, my dog is terrible to have around if you just want to relax, but yet she naps more than she is awake. When I stay home, her bladder, which can normally hold it for my workday no problem or even twelve hours  or so for special events, all of a sudden needs to be relieved every half hour. There is something about me being on the edge of sleep or really settling in that makes her need to go out. Pets are a joy, but they are terrible for those with insomniac tendencies.

One of my failed attempts at moderation was I subscribe to a snack service. This means I chose snacks I want online and once a month, they mail me a small bag of five. The snacks are supposed to be healthy because there’s no high fructose corn syrup, trans-fats, or really any mad scientist sounding ingredients. Since I had some time on my hands and I had finally put Freckles’ potty bell where she can’t reach it to ask to go out, I decided I better do some editing to reflect my no added sugar lifestyle.

Out of the 31 snacks I had previously selected as ones that I wanted in the future, I was able to keep one of them on my list. It was time to look for some new snacks to request. Here were my parameters: no added sugar (naturally occurring sugars are fine), no nuts except peanuts (I just don’t like nuts), and let’s try to make this gluten-free thing work, too. That left me with six items and the nut thing only eliminated one snack that I looked at.

This is a company who’s whole business is healthy snack foods and when I eliminated snacks with “no added sugar,” I was left with very little to choose from. Can you see why the regular grocery store is impossible when you are looking for quick foods (aka processed) that are healthy?

To make this work, I am really going to have to adopt the healthy habit that I have dreaded and avoided my whole life: meal planning.

I know, I know, it does not sound like that big of a deal, especially when compared to something like giving up sugar, but let me explain. I already pre-plan my workday breakfasts and lunches, so I’m most of the way there. I am a school librarian. I have to plan every class, plan how to spend a budget, plan how and when to do testing and reports on my students, plan the long term direction of the collection, and my workday is ruled by a bell that tells me when I can eat and go to the bathroom. Meal planning just feels like adding another layer of structure to my day during the time that is mine. Can you see why plotting what I’m going to feel like having for dinner a week in advance could feel overly constricting?

So, if anyone would like to volunteer to be my personal grocery shopper/chef, please let me know in the comments. Feel free to prepare multiple meals as your resume. There will be a multistep interview process required before I hire anyone. to insure a good range of culinary skills.  I will be accepting applications until the position is filled.

Day 10: Paradox

Finally, this thirty day challenge has reached the double-digits mark. We are a third of the way done, but I find myself in a conundrum of sorts.

The good news is: this is working great. I have lost almost ten pounds. I feel more energetic. Before I caught this case of the crude (common danger of working with children), my allergies had even cleared up for the first time in months.

The bad news is: this is working great. I have not eaten out at all. I cook every meal from scratch. I am discovering new healthy habits I need to add like supplements and probiotics.  I have to read every label, but mostly avoid anything that needs a label. I have  NOT HAD ANY EASTER CANDY, THE BEST CANDY ALL YEAR!

Taking sugar out of my life has snowballed into more good habits I have known for years I need to develop. Habits are like rabbits: they multiply. Good or bad.

So how is this bad news?

Because this cannot be just a thirty day challenge for me. I need to make this a lifetime habit. I have been attempting and failing the moderation route for decades now, so I can’t kid myself that if I don’t continue to view my diet as an all or nothing proposition that I will magically show control I did not have before.

Actually, let me back up a bit. I have done the whole food tracking thing and already have many of the “quick diet fixes” in my life that are touted in every weight loss article out there, but I need to face the fact that my body just has an extreme reaction to bad foods. I keep joking with a friend that “sugar is my heroin,” but in many ways that is a true statement. There are certain substances out there that will have no effect on some people, but instantly take over the life of someone else. For example, I have tried smoking twice. It did nothing for me, but many smokers get hooked on that first try. I am not the smoker who lives to be ninety. I’m the one who gets lung cancer at twenty-five. Sugar is an addiction that will kill me.

But the good news is that I am ten days in, which is probably about nine and a half days longer than my previous record.

This is hard, but it’s not impossible.

Especially if someone knows of a good sugar free pizza.

 

Day 9: How Is This Challenge Not Even Into Double-Digits, Yet

Time is a relative thing. Everyone knows that Christmas Eve is longer when you are eight years old than is the time left on a deadline before a project you haven’t started. For those of us in the field of education (teachers and students), one of the moments when time stops are the final weeks before Spring Break. Adding this Sugar Detox to the mix has the potential to create time travel, because if time slows down any more we will be going backwards. The silver lining is my Spring Break may end up feeling longer.

Actually, I am not struggling all that much with sugar cravings anymore.  What I am struggling with is the loss of convenience food. Not food from convenience stores. I will never be hungry enough to eat a gas station sandwich. I mean processed foods that make it easy to just slap together dinner with minimal effort or ordering out from restaurants. It  is cooking every meal from scratch, then doing all the clean up, and then going to the gym that is getting to me. I can cook, but I don’t have the skills to prepare my ingredients quickly. Any prep time for a recipe needs to be doubled. I need to get some cooking lessons to learn some fancy knife skills. Maybe a Benihana’s needs an intern.

Today’s big struggle was my mom asked me a simple question that took a lot of willpower to answer responsibly and will take even more willpower to follow through with:

“What do you want for dessert for your birthday?”

Yep, my birthday is Sunday and I will still be deep into this sugar detox.  My first thought was to ask for a dessert I don’t like. Unfortunately, that is a short list. The best I could come up with was carrot cake with lots of tiny walnut pieces mixed in so that even if I got desperate enough to eat carrot cake, the nasty walnuts would be too hard to pick out. The problem with that is most members of my family (like all six nieces and nephews who will be there) also don’t like carrot cake, so I would run the risk of a second crowd-pleasing dessert being made.  What I finally came up with was strawberry shortcake and I just asked that some unadulterated strawberries be saved back for me. I don’t anticipate the angel food cake being a big tempter, but oh the whipped cream and ice cream…

I better stop now.