Friday, January 17, 2014

The Down Side to Calorie Counting & Sugar

As someone who needs structure to stick with goals or plans, I'm finding it very hard to cope with some aspects of living a healthier life. For example, calorie counting. When it comes to dropping pounds, it's proven that you have to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. It's a known fact. So my go to when I start trying to lose weight is to always use a program to help me track my calorie consumption. For me, My Fitness Pal has been the easiest to use (because you can use the app or their website). BUT many people suggest never counting calories but simply eating better. I find this very frustrating. Because I've seen the results that counting calories can have (two years ago I stuck to my 1200 cal/day for 3 months and lost 16 pounds) it's hard for me wrap my head around the idea of eating as I go without factoring the calories or measuring portions based on calorie count.

As someone who counts calories and tries to avoid the calories and addictions sugar brings, I've been a long time user of artificial sweeteners. Spelnda being my drug of choice. I know artificial sweeteners are highly toxic, I KNOW how bad they are for me, yet I will still reach for a yellow packet before I reach for sugar because I can add a 0 to my calorie count instead of 15. I tell myself it's better because at least it's not as addictive as sugar, but is it? Cognitive dissonance at its finest, peopleDid you know white, refined sugar can be just a addictive as cocaine? The coca leaf (used to make cocaine) is inherently harmless, and is used in many things like tea, until it is refined and processed into the powdery, highly addictive drug. Refined cane sugar you buy at the store is not in its natural form either. It is highly processed and treated before it reaches your hands.

I have found what I think would be a great alternative for both cane sugar and artificial sweeteners in coconut sugar. It has a low glycemic index (between 35-38%, which makes it a great alternative for diabetics) and can be more nutritious than cane sugar. According to Madhava, "Coconut sugar has a nutritional content that is richer than cane or beet sugar; it has naturally occurring nutrients, including magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, B vitamins and amino acids (including glutamine).  Unlike beet/cane sugar, nothing is added or removed in the production of coconut sugar." It is "an organic, unrefined sweetener that is derived from the nectar of coconut palm tree blossoms. The nectar is boiled to evaporate the water, and the remaining concentrated nectar is crystallized into sugar." Coconut sugar can be used as a 1:1 replacement for cane sugar (white or brown) in baking, cooking, your drinks, etc. It doesn't taste like coconut, more closely to brown sugar, so you wouldn't have to worry about that as a side effect in your recipes.

In trying to lead a healthier lifestyle I want to make the switch from cane sugar to coconut sugar but I'm finding it hard to get past the mental block of having to add 15 cal/tsp to my calorie count. It doesn't seem like much, but it can add up. I know it would be all around better for me, my body, my health, and probably my mental health, but I can't get past that number. This is something I need to work on if I'm going to pursue and overall healthier lifestyle. I may have to stop counting my calories all together and just go with my gut when it comes to making food choices, but I won't go that far. Not yet at least. I'm going to make it a goal of mine for 2014 to not be so hard on myself if I go over my calorie allotment, especially if my list of foods I've eaten for the day consist of fruits, vegetables, unprocessed foods, and overall healthy choices.

Have you ever had trouble changing the way you view your eating habits? Or struggled to overcome certain food addictions? Do you have any recommendations for me?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Today is a New Day

I caved yesterday. I can admit it. The day started fine, I had my tea and yogurt for breakfast and soup for lunch, but dinner is where I got off track. We had this very, very spicy rice (I don't do spicy well. At all) so I lathered it with sour cream to help tame some of the spiciness. Then I had three chocolate chip cookies and two pieces of fudge. The homemade fudge with marshmallow cream you make from the recipe on the back of Nestle Tollhouse's chocolate chip bags. My mom makes it every year for Christmas and it's amazing. It was just sitting there, being so tempting, and I gave in.

Normally, after a day like that, I would tell myself, "well, you've already messed it up," and go back to my old eating habits. Not this time. Today I'm going to get right back on track and keep going. Today is day 14, not day 1. I'm trying a workout schedule I found through pinterest where each day it gives you a new set of exercises (mostly just increasing the number of reps from the day before) and I already did today's before getting ready for work this morning. I think that's a step in the right direction.

Have you ever given up on a goal because of one set back or slip up?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Quick Update

I've been a bad blogger lately. There's so much I want to talk about but I just haven't been motivated or couldn't find the right words to get it out.

2013 was a crazy year. So much happened. It was a lot of work and long days and tears and emotions, but in the end it was completely worth it. My husband and I celebrated our one year anniversary, to which several people congratulated us having made it through what they considered to be the hardest year. Everything should be smooth sailing from now on then right? :) We completed most of the remodeling in our house which was a PAIN but I'm so glad to have it done. We managed to squeeze in a trip so San Diego and LA in November with family. I managed to read 28 books last year, which I was pretty proud of. I love to read and tried to make a conscious effort to take more time to do so and was proud that I managed 28. I know for avid readers, that may not sound like much, but I averaged more than 2 books a month, and with the busy year we had, I thought that was pretty good. I've already read one book and start two more so far this year. I'm challenging myself to read 35 before 12/31/2014.

So what now? In 2014, I'm trying to get back on track to a healthier and more fit lifestyle. I tried and failed several times last year, only making it a week or so before going back to old habits. I'm already past that hurdle as I can say I'm on day 9 and have religiously stuck to my guidelines from My Fitness Pal and am already down 3 pounds. My ultimate goal is to lose 44 pounds. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to make it, but I can try right? This time I will not get discouraged and lose hope. I'm going for a lifestyle change, not a diet (or so I keep telling myself). My stomach has adjusted to my smaller portions and intake at least. Let me tell you, those first few days were like torture. I was so hungry. All the time. But I made it through and I'm already seeing results - on the scale at least. I finally bought the pair of running shoes I had been ogling at all year (it helped they were on clearance for 80% off) and am planning on trying to break them in soon. Now to actually get my butt in gear, put those babies on, and head out the door.

I'm also going to try to get back into regular blogging. Whether it's once a week or every two weeks, or even once a month, I don't want to ignore it anymore.