My Sugar love

One of the ladies in my class hadn’t seen me in a bit, and asked yesterday if I was off sugar again. I had to admit to her that yes I was generally off sugar except for the half tub of ice-cream I had over the weekend along with the little cones that I demolished the day before and on my way to class. Why do you ask, I say… She says she could see it….and I was looking good! Oh right! My efforts do show, even when I don’t see it! I guess I’m back off sugar.
Saying I have a sweet tooth is an understatement. I truly believe that whatever sensor in our brain that tells it to shut off eating sugar, because our blood glucose has risen too fast, often takes a nap -and for long periods. My shut-off mechanism kicks in only because we have made it to the bottom of the bag and there’s no more. I often tell folks I eat chocolate by the bar or box or whatever container it comes in. As a child, my mother would bring home treats for the whole family…I would eat mine and everyone else’s. There was no stopping. I got sick right after my birthday EVERY YEAR…I would indulge in my birthday cake which my mother lovingly adorned with Smarties (like M&M’s but wayyyyyyyyy better, I have some at home if you would like to try it!) along with all the other sugary foods allowed.  As an adult it got worse because I could simply purchase as much as I wanted. Indeed I regularly keep a few pounds of chocolate at home. I love traveling to new places, usually because I can sample their chocolate. I can’t admit how much I spent on chocolate last year in London…even I was horrified when the lady told me my total….say what?
And I’m not the only one in my family.  My family’s request when I travel…chocolate. Years ago, my brother won a 5 pound Hershey bar…it didn’t take long for me, my father and him to blow through it. Though, my father was recently amazed at how much chocolate I quickly ingested…I guess I take the cake for the sweet tooth of the family….oooh cake! Yum! Ok, ok, I’m back.
So imagine my surprise when for 2014 I successfully gave up added sugar, which of course includes my beloved chocolate! In the past, I have gone for months banning chocolate from touching my lips. This usually happened after an especially punishing binge (2/3 bags or bars in a sitting) after which I talked myself into giving up the chocolate. At the beginning of the year we have a corporate fast at church; I usually do a full Daniel’s fast and eliminate sugar etc (Daniel’s fast eliminates meat among other foods, which I already do, so my focus is on the other parts of the fast). So I’ve done that successfully for a few years now, and had drastically cut down my sugar intake in the process. But in 2014 I decided to make it a lifestyle change and removed added sugar from my diet.

I’ll admit, this was not easy at all. I mean, at all. Sugar cravings will make you forget everything including the fact that you're avoiding sugar! But the reward has been amazing. The first thing I noticed was that contrary to what I thought, my energy levels stayed the same and possibly higher. I am high strung and overly energetic which I had attributed to my sugar intake, but alas, it's all natural baby.  I also noticed that I was not overeating as much. My stop eating mechanism seemed to be functioning a lot more and quicker. And of course my favorite change was my weight adjustment. The scale went below 150 lbs, something I'd been struggling to accomplish - and my midsection got trimmer. I noticed my skin was smoother, probably from losing the fatty tissue accustomed to sitting right underneath it. And the ladies in my class noticed...only after about a week!

So why is sugar the bad guy.
Well this article explains that eating too much added sugar increases the risk of dying with heart disease (even if you're not overweight).

CNN reports here that excessive added sugar consumption can cause fat buildup in the liver which can attribute to obesity, Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease

And this article from SFGate discusses similar trends including an impaired immune system which prevents your body from fighting viruses, bacteria and other guys bad for our health.

Oh yeah and it contributes to dementia and aging too!

I started the elimination as a part of a 3 week commitment and decided to extend it out. This allowed me to be really focused and work at keeping my commitment. There have certainly been slip ups and oopsies, but my newly adopted lifestyle has shown me that even I, the queen of the sugar world, can put my mind to something and accomplish it. I'll talk more about how I stayed on track and the challenges of a sugar-free world in the next blog entries! Stay tuned.  

Happy living!
Half-stepping diva



What are you holding onto?

This week, I was asked a simple question by a wisdom-filled woman I've been blessed to be around... "What are you holding onto?"
Huh? I've often heard and asked of myself "what's holding me back?" so this was a new outlook for me!

I shared this question with another blessing in my life who is quite versed in my brand of craziness and without missing a beat, her response was "Stability!" Hmmm...I think she's right, people!

I heart stability! I don't need to rock the boat...for what? I've had the same phone number for 10+ years- I don't know why I hold loyalty to the phone company...they don't provide excellent service, drop calls all the time, their phones are expensive and of no use to me outside of the US..the list of cons goes on. But I stay! I've lived and worked in the same place for the last 6.5 years. The only reason I have a new car is because I had to and even then managed to get a newer version of my previous car-same make, model, and even color!

My world does not change - if I go on vacation, it's because someone prodded me. Routine and schedules are my friends. If I do pick up something new, it will soon become a part of my routine! It is said that good girls rarely make history. Yeah if the history makers were like me, there wouldn't be much to talk about...and we would be stuck in a backwards world!

My desire for stability spans all the different avenues: financial, emotional, relational, etc. I am quite frugal, and that has helped me not spend money on frivilous things (ok not a lot, I mean what do I need all these black shoes for?) . I tend to keep friends for life, or at least try. For my own emotions, I'm fair even keeled. Though those who know me will say I am high strung, ah, I am generally a happy person.

Now I'm not knocking  my firm desire for stability. It is a survival mechanism that has afforded me freedom and peace. But now it has also become a safety blanket; a perceived security. And as a result I find myself stuck in a rut!

So now what? What is a goodytwoshoes-don'trocktheboat-noI'mokrighthere-Icancope to do?

What are you holding onto that's holding you back? What have you done to shake up your world and start digging out of your rut. What chances have you taken on yourself?

I would love to hear your thoughts...meanwhile, I am changing things up; learning spontaneity, ignoring schedules and living in the moment!

Half-stepping diva


Consistently challenged

Ella maneja una carro!
Yes I know that means absolutely  nothing to you, even if you speak Spanish. You see, I decided to add Spanish to my language bank and have invested in Rosetta Stone®, which has promised me that I don’t have to worry about useless memorizations. I am guaranteed to start speaking my language of choice in a few short sessions.
I’d say the folks at Rosetta Stone® are right…there are no useless memorizations, though I’m not quite sure learning how to say “She is driving a car” before I learn how to count in Spanish is particularly useful, but hey, I’m with this program..no problemo!
The part they leave out, is that regardless of how good a program is, consistency is absolutely important to be successful. When I started with my Spanish lessons, I dedicated about 30 minutes daily to it. This was soon cut down to 20 min, then 15 min, and well I haven’t opened up the software in at least 3 months, maybe more. I still remember ella maneja una carro and that los gatos means cats, but I can’t string any words to make any sense. I’m still quite Spanish illiterate.
I’ve found in my world as a 30 something year old, the need for constant consistencies in order to see something happen/change. The most simplified example has been working towards my weight loss and fitness goals.  It’s required consistent effort and when I’ve strayed  have immediately seen my hard work poof into thin air!

Even with my blog entries, I have been inconsistent in the last few weeks. I learned from other bloggers to set a schedule that included specific time for blogging and had been keeping up. Then, life happened and then more life happened, and before I realize, hello July!
For me, it’s generally a vicious cycle…when I achieve a mark towards my goal, I feel completely empowered and “reward” myself by not being so disciplined and soon enough, I erase my achievement. If, on the other hand, I don’t get anywhere after trying for "some time", I get discouraged and give it up, determining it wasn’t mine to begin with. In either case, the consistent effort dissipates and we’re right back where we started.
Career & Financial stability
30 something year olds often find themselves defining their careers and taking steps towards it. For those in the arts such as actors, consistency is the key to success and working towards a career really means consistently acting, or painting or drawing etc. For other careers consistency means going back to school, or finishing school.  In all cases, creating our brand as hardworking achieving go-getters requires that we are consistent in the excellence we produce at our workplaces.    
Family life
Many 30 something year olds have fairly new marriage life and sometimes children. Consistency for them means working daily with a partner towards common goals, creating consistent habits for children such as teaching them to sleep in their own beds, potty training, mealtime habits, homework etc. For others, consistency means building/sustaining relationships and finding ways to connect with new people.
Spiritual life
As we seek growth, many of us work on strengthening our spiritual walk and aligning ourselves with a specific religion. Many of them require consistent efforts in prayer, reading, or attending services.
Health & Fitness
We are all acutely aware of our health and what role we play in achieving optimal health. Many of us have set goals to healthy eating, which might mean cooking healthy meals, or learning how to cook, and avoiding junk food.  Many of us also have weight loss goals, increasing physical activity and adding a sustainable exercise regimen to our daily lives.
We all need to be able to consistently move towards what we want…until our goal is met, no matter how many tries it takes and how often we fail.
Here are some tips to stay consistent
1.       Set realistic goals. Getting to the gym 5 days a week is not a big deal for me…I just have me to take care of. For you parents and people that take care of other people, this might not particularly be realistic.
2.       Set baby goals. Maybe the goal is to make a big purchase. Start with saving a set amount per week ($5) and work your way up to a bigger amount per week ($20)  
3.       Don’t let yourself off the hook. I’ll do it tomorrow is a statement that's as useful for a goal as “5 more minutes”. I know for a fact that if my plan is to do it tomorrow, somehow and quite magically tomorrow never shows up or when he does its usually in about 3 months or a year.
4.       Forgive yourself for slip ups. Consistency does require every something. Be it every day, every week, every hour…whatever the case, if you do slip up, let it go and keep going. Don’t beat yourself up for a simple human behavior. Keep pushing.
5.       Just do it...now! Nike® had the right idea with this tag line. Consistency means nothing if you don’t actually start working towards your goal. So just do it..whatever you’ve been waiting to do, just do it. Do you want to go back to school, learn something new, make new friends, get a new job, learn a new sport, have children? Just do whatever it takes to get you there.
She's still half-stepping!
Half-stepping Diva