Our Small Changes Challenge started last week and I encourage you all to join on in…and go step by step with me. I’m not posting Biggest Loser style numbers on the scale (because it isn’t realistic and the scales and I parted ways awhile ago), but I am learning and re-learning how to develop new habits safely.
During this challenge I share what small change I am focusing on, how my week went and give a little breakdown on some of the high & low points, and maybe a few tips too that might help you out. You can find the post for Week 1 here, where we talked about positive steps and how the mental work needs to be done if you want change to happen in your life.
Week 2 is starting and the focus this week is: SUGAR
It really is amazing how much sugar is in the products that we buy. This past year I have become more aware of what and where sugar is and watching how it has changed my body in various ways…and usually not in the good ways. I was also reading through some of Cori’s posts, the other writer here at The Journey, while she was writing about her Paleo Diet experience and at one point she said that sugar really is everywhere. She is right. It is. But what IS sugar and really, has it changed at all in the last ___ years? Those are excellent questions and answers that we all need to take a second and educate ourselves on…because the info is quite interesting and paints a fascinating picture.
For me…I have a few favorite things that I like that have sugar in them. Peanut Butter, Ketchup, Granola bars, chocolate…more specifically a Cafe Mocha and those lovely coffee creamers that make coffee so lovely.
About a year ago I found out that I love coffee. :) Really…that might even be an understatement. I think coffee might actually love me. Our family even co-owns a coffee roasting company called Narrow Road Coffee…so I literally have coffee beans available at any time of day. I can drink black coffee but I do love the tasty creamers. They. Are. Delish! For a few months I was on a kick of drinking a specific coffee beverage from a local coffee company and never bothered to even look to see what I was drinking. The stats and nutrition info are out there but I’m guessing that I really just didn’t want to know how bad my favorite drink was for me. Today I did look it up though:
My favorite coffee drink was a Cafe Mocha and had 45 grams of sugar. I was consuming almost TWICE the recommended amount of sugar for my day in this one cup of “coffee”. Wowzers! When I worked in the Twin Cities I had the convenience of living down the street from a Caribou Coffee. My favorite drink at that time was a Turtle Mocha Latte. Guess how many grams of sugar I consumed then…84! One cup…down the throat as I drove down I-35N. I have no words right now.
While I was on the kick of drinking these yummy treats I noticed that I gained weight, my stomach was a bit more squishy, I’m pretty sure my butt got bigger and I wanted to eat bad foods all the time.
You want to know what else is shocking? I’m not the only one that drinks these types of drinks. There is always a line at every coffee place I visit and the customers are adults AND kids. Kids. If my sugar intake is higher than the recommended amount I can guarantee that the kids are consuming more than they are supposed to as well. Parents…if you are paying for these drinks for the kids…STOP. If you are drinking these…well…yep…you should probably stop too. Just walk right on by those coffee shops and drink your black coffee, choose water and go sugar free.
Regardless of if you drink coffee or not…it is time to think about our sugar and get in the recommended amounts.
How much sugar should we be consuming and what is going on now with sugar compared to years ago?
There is a lot of research out there that has already been done on sugar, the past…now…and what is going to happen with our bodies in the future. Here is one of the best summaries that I have found that relates to sugar…read it, soak it in and think about these numbers:
- Today, close to 70% of America is overweight with a THIRD of the nation obese…pretty sure that the numbers are now slightly more than 1/3 according to other sources I read.
- 1822: Americans consume 45 grams of sugar every five days, or the amount of sugar in a can of coke.
- 2012: Americans consume 756 grams of sugar every five days, or 130 POUNDS of sugar a year.
- As of 2010, the American diet has 19 percent more sugar than in 1970, according to “TIME Magazine.” Rates of obesity and some chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, have increased right along with it. (www.livestrong.com)
- The American Heart Association recommends men limit added sugar to 36 grams, or 9 teaspoons, per day. Women should limit added sugar to 24 grams, or 6 teaspoons, each day. An additional recommendation calls for limiting sugary soft drinks to 36 ounces every week, or 450 calories at the most, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. The calories from soft drinks cause more weight gain than the calories from solid foods. These limits only pertain to added sugars, not sugars that occur naturally in some foods, such as fruits. The average American consumes 21 teaspoons, or 84 grams, of sugar daily though; far more than recommended.
- Studies are going on right now that are showing that a calorie isn’t just a calorie…but that the calories from high fructose corn syrup are actually leading to more illnesses and diseases than a calorie from other foods. What are those illnesses that are being shown so far? LDL cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and cancer. How long did it take to see these results? 2 weeks. Not years of eating cheeseburgers and french fries. The study that was being done had evidence of increased levels of ldl and cardiovascular issues in a 2 week period. (You can find out this info at about the 7:30 mark of this video… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6n29ZIJ-jQA)
How do you know what sugar and added sugars are based on the nutrition labels?
The nutrition labels can be confusing. It is very easy to just pick something off a shelf at the store, put it in your cart, buy it and eat it…without ever looking at the little, tiny print on the back. If sugar is in something though, it must be listed as an ingredient on food labels. One thing that I learned recently from nerdfitness.com is how these sugar items are actually listed…and it can be sneaky. The most prominent ingredients must be listed first in the food labels and to get sugar a bit lower on that list (so they appear to not be as prominent) the companies will sometimes use a variety of sugar types so sugar doesn’t appear to be as big of a deal in that particular product. Added sugar goes by many different names, including:
- Agave nectar
- Brown sugar
- Cane crystals
- Cane sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Crystalline fructose
- Evaporated cane juice
- Organic evaporated cane juice
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Raw sugar
(list from nerdfitness.com)
Fruit has sugar in it. Are you telling me I can’t eat fruit?
Actually…I’m not. I do know that fruit has sugar in it. I eat fruit every day…and even have a banana peel or two in my car at the end of the day to prove it. I’m not saying that fruit is bad and to never eat it again. I do know though that if you cut out all that other processed and high sugar items that you eat and pay more attention to what foods are going in your mouth…you will realize again how sweet those natural fruits are and you will be perfectly fine just eating those as your sweet instead of grabbing for that candy or pastry. Fruit doesn’t have a nutrition label on it…and those are the types of food that I tend to like. If I can read the ingredients it is probably one of the best options for my body. If I can’t pronounce something…I need to question if my body can recognize it too.
If you were ok with eating fruit before you started this challenge…great! Keep eating it. If you have some other food plan that you are going with and you don’t want to eat fruit because of the sugar in them…that is fine too.
My only tip for fruits is this…watch the dried fruits.
What is the challenge for this week?
For days 1, 2 and/or 3…look at the foods you are consuming and write down the number of sugar that is in those food items for every single meal and snack. You have to know how much you are consuming before you can start to make changes in this area. These first few days are going to be more about awareness.
For days 3, 4, 5…you are a woman, you can eat 40 grams of sugar or less during the day. If you are a male, you can eat 52 grams of sugar or less during the day.
Days 6 and 7…we are going to hit those recommendations! Women…consume 24 grams of sugar or less in a day. Men…consume 36 grams or less of sugar in a day.
What if I mess up and don’t make it on a day?
You put your big girl panties on and you keep on going…because you CAN do this! So you messed up…you know it…now it is time to get back up and keep going. Learn from your weakness and just move forward.
Remember…we just spent an entire week with those positive thoughts. (there is a reason why we did that!) Those words, pictures and sayings all need to be playing in your head on the days that are tough. Post these all over your house. Put it in your car. If you need to…stick it on the vending machine at work or on that goodie table that will be in the break room from now until mid-January. No one will know it was you and really…who cares. This is your battle. This is for YOU! Those positive words and encouragement need to serve as reminders when you want to give up and they need to be right there when you need it.
Those positive messages that motivate you need to be in your head…on the easy and the tough days. When your body is ready to eat that favorite item YOU have to be the person that says “no”. This is all you…no one else. If you have a bad day…a bad moment…get over it, stand back up and tell yourself that it is ok…you can do this and will overcome this challenge the next time it comes. Trust me…it will come again. Just be even more ready. If you still need help…send me an e-mail or message on Facebook. I’ll connect with you and remind you that this is possible.
Homework: Due on Saturday, December 14th. Watch the video below and write down three things that you learned from the video. This will take some time and you need to pay attention…because this is important stuff…all about sugar. Send your response to firstname.lastname@example.org We will be sharing some of the comments from those participating on our Facebook page. If you would like to remain anonymous…please let us know in the e-mail. The earlier in the week you do this homework the easier it might be to actually want to finish this challenge. :) The homework must be turned in on time if you want to be eligible for the giveaway!
Calendar and Tracking Sheet: Use this pdf form to help keep you on track! Small Changes Challenge calendar december 2
How did my week go with this challenge? I’ve had a few people ask me that lately and I did this a few weeks ago actually. I did write it down though day by day to help you know that this is not always the easiest for me either. Here was my week…
Week 2: No sugar
Day 1. It was an Ok day. I was mentally ready and had it in my head that I was going to do this. I need this. I really have to do this if I want results again. Sugar is such a huge problem for me…and it is everywhere…including the banana bread still sitting on my counter that I did not eat. For me…that is tough. I think I went several weeks while I was pregnant with my first where banana bread was all I wanted to eat, including one meal where I actually ordered that at a restaurant and nothing else. No joke. Good thing though…no cheating today…even with Halloween candy around.
Day 2. Things just got interesting. Even with coffee my head is about ready to explode. Today is also a big day for me and a group I work with…so a tad stressful. I decided I’m going to eat when I’m hungry and make healthy choices even with my head pounding out of control. Went to bed pretty early for me with the headache…maybe I need more water? Maybe I need sugar? I didn’t cave though. It was a long day. My body is tired. Not the best choice of days to be in sugar withdrawal.
Day 3. Slept bad. lots of tossing and turning. I was up about an hour before i needed to be and was hoping I could close my eyes and feel good. my head was hurting all night. I had to pop some meds. Teaching spin with a throbbing head is never a fun time. :) headache left pretty fast and the rest of the day was more of a realization that grazing was a part of my day at specific times. There isn’t anything unhealthy I want to eat in the house so grazing on junk really isn’t an option. I ate more veggies today than I have in a long time…and they weren’t bad. Finished the day with Greek yogurt and fresh berries. It wasn’t ice cream but it was really good.
Day 4: busiest work day for me. I had to have food ready to go and just be ready. Cravings were there but I didn’t cave. We made turkey chili for supper which was really good. It had a bit of kick and was mostly meat but at least everyone ate it. I did eat an entire container of raspberries from Costco today. Fresh. No sugar. Pure delish.
Day 5: this is the day I’m usually tired and today isn’t any different. I had an awesome class this morning though and that always gets me going. My day was basically me being hungry. I wanted to eat everything. I didn’t have anything but good stuff though so I reached for some leftover chili. My afternoon was spent trying to read for the Made to Crave study and help my 6 year old read books at the same time. Not easy. I did take a nap and woke up with a tad of energy. At the Bible Study a woman was eating chocolate cake with amazing frosting all over it and in the middle layer…right in front of me. The smell was amazing, I didn’t eat any but did watch her and smelled every morsel. Watching the sugar being eaten by someone else is ok. ;) Putting it in my own mouth at that quantity is not.
Day 6: time to start thinking about the next week and what the next small change will be. At the moment I have no idea. Eating wise today was tough. Today was a celebration meal and I was looking forward to a lovely salad from Buffalo Wild Wings. Rest of the day and food was challenging but I got through today. I’m very proud of myself and that I did it this week! Plus today I outlifted two guys at the gym this morning. I did my stuff and was going to put the weights away but the guys took it before I had a chance…and they couldn’t do it at the same amount. Yep, awesome feeling. ;) One even said, “that’s a tough one” and I just agreed.
Day 7: We had some very tough days with the kiddos and it was one of those mom moments where you have to think of something to get their attitudes to adjust for the better. Today was reward day for the kiddos because they have been so good (the big chat from mom probably helped with that). Our reward was going to a new restaurant in town; Texas Roadhouse. Can I just say that I thought Buffalo Wild Wings was my celebration meal. I changed my mind. I’m picking today. I know, i know…I already ate it…but I am eating it again. Have you had their bread? Food was amazing but I have to say that it was so sugary that I couldn’t eat all of it. Even the green beans…very sweet. I’ve never had sweet green beans before. I enjoyed it though but knew that I would be saying goodbye to that sugar again and that I could just take that moment and enjoy each little morsel that I ate right then. If I go back to this restaurant at some point I will be looking at their menu online before I order because I think they are sneaking sugar in many places.
Check back next week for the Small Changes Challenge #3 post or subscribe via e-mail to get updates sent to your inbox. We will have daily notes and info on our Facebook event page too with the challenge to help keep you motivated! Later this week I will be sharing a bit more about high fructose corn syrup…you will want to come back and read that info…for sure!
Are you joining us for the Small Changes Challenge? We’d love to hear how it is going for you. Send us a message at email@example.com or write a comment below.
Thanks for being part of The Journey
Jessica is a mom of three kids, wife to 1 and fitness instructor at two locations in Rochester, MN. She recently started working one-on-one with women and helping them with their health and fitness goals. You can read about Jessica’s journey and how this site was started at the blog post titled “The Beginning”.