For the past 21-days, I've been on a sugar detox. Becky Reece, a long-time friend of Trish's, inspired us to do it. Becky is a nutritionist and we've always admired how fit she is. Becky challenged a bunch of her friends to do it, and Trish signed up. I told Trish I'd do it with her to make things easier from a cooking perspective.
To be honest, we really didn't know what we were getting into when we started it. Trish ordered the book the week before we started and it arrived a couple days before things kicked off. Trish started reading the book the night before we started. That's when we realized we should've prepared more. The book had all kinds of things you were supposed to do the week before you started the detox. Most things involved shopping and cooking, so you were prepared with pre-made snacks and weren't too stressed out.
We started the detox on Monday, September 22, 2014. That's when we first realized there was no alcohol (we both love craft beer). Trish shopped and cooked like a madwoman that first week. I think we spent somewhere around $600 on groceries. Trish wrote about our first week on her blog.
We are on Sunday Day-7 and made it through the first week with two birthday parties and a nice dinner out eating well and staying on track. I'm not weighing myself until the end, but my face looks a little slimmer, my skin feels smoother and my wedding ring is not as tight as it used to be. I feel great and have started to believe this is the last detox, diet or cleanse I will ever need. Cleansing my life of sugar could be a life changer especially when an Avo-Coconana Smoothie with Almond Butter Pad Thai becomes my new favorite meal.
What she didn't mention is what we discovered shortly after. She'd printed out a list of “Yes” and “No” foods from the book. But, she printed out the hardest level! We'd been doing level 3 for a week! There are three different levels suggested in the book:
Level 1: ½ cup whole grains, full fat dairy and all the meat and vegetables you want
Level 2: No grains, full fat dairy and all the meat and vegetables you want
Level 3: No grains, no dairy, just meat, nuts and veggies
All levels allow fruit: unlimited limes and lemons, but only one green apple, green-tipped banana or grapefruit per day.
Figuring “we made it this far”, we decided to continue with the hardest level. Unlike Trish, I did weigh myself and was pumped to find I'd lost 5 lbs (2.3 kg) in the first week. I was trying to exercise everyday as well, by riding my bike, running, hiking and walking. Nothing strenuous, just something to get the blood pumping.
I did notice during the second week that I'd get really tired when exercising. I'd hit a wall after about 30-40 minutes were I felt like I'd lost all my energy. I'd felt this before when I was out of shape, but I didn't think I was that out of shape when we'd started.
The second week, our kids were at their Mom's house, so we ate out a bit more and socialized with friends. Getting through happy hours wasn't too hard, as long as we mentioned we were on a sugar detox up front. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, so I never had any chocolate cravings. I also rarely drink soda (except with Whiskey), so I didn't really miss much from the sweet side.
What I did miss was sugar in my coffee. Black coffee still makes my face wrinkle after three weeks and I finally switched to Green Tea during the last week.
During the second week, I noticed my weight loss plateaued. I think this is why they don't want you to weigh yourself - so you don't get discouraged. Even though the pounds stopped dropping, I did notice my pants were a lot looser around the waist.
We watched the movie Fed Up for extra motivation at the end of the second week. I thought it was enlightening to learn that when they take out fat from food, they often add sugar to give it back flavor. The sugar content difference between a diet and regular Coke? None - they both have 3.5 teaspoons.
They mentioned that most kids have their recommended daily allowance of sugar before they leave the house in the morning (in their bowl of cereal and milk). Apparently, adding sugar all started in the late 70s / early 80s when dieting became a fad. The USDA (or someone similar) recommended they warn Americans about sugar, but they chose to strike that from the record and warm them about fat instead. In the last couple years, they've discovered that fat isn't that bad and sugar is likely the cause of our country's obesity problem. They also mentioned that there's a lot of folks that are skinny, but fat on the inside.
The third week was the hardest one. This was mainly because Trish traveled out of town for work and I became a single parent with a mean cooking habit. I was amazed at the amount of dishes I went through, and I was only cooking breakfast and dinner for three. I must've spent almost two hours in the kitchen each day.
This final week is when I realized the sugar detox wasn't a sustainable long term practice. On Wednesday of that week, I rode from my kids school to my office in LoDo. It's a 15-mile ride and took me just over an hour. I felt fine while riding, but once I arrived, I felt sick. I was able to work, drink water and take deep breaths for a couple hours to feel better. However, I ended up taking a nap before noon to shake the weakness I felt. That night, it took me a bit longer to ride back, because it was uphill and I stopped a few times to rest. I loaded up on a green-tipped banana before I left, as well as a couple handfuls of almonds. The same sickness hit me after riding and I almost threw up an hour after the ride. After that experience, I decided not to push myself when exercising. Not until I was off the sugar detox anyway.
The next day I encountered a phenomenon I haven't had in years. I had to roll my pant legs up because my pants kept falling down and dragging on the ground. I also experienced a few headaches this week, something I rarely get.
In fact, as I'm writing this (on day 22), I still have a headache I woke up this morning with. This could be caused by other stressors in my life, for example, looking for a new gig and realizing how much I've spent on my VW Bus project.
As far as feeling good and skin complexion - two things the book said you'd noticed - I haven't noticed them that much. I didn't feel terrible before, but I was annoyed by how tight my pants were. More energy? Nope, I feel like I had more before. During the detox, I didn't get the 2:30 doldrums, but I don't recall feeling them much before either. I did notice that I was never famished when on the detox. If my stomach growled, it was merely an indicator that I should eat in the next hour or two. But I didn't feel like I needed to eat right away. There were some evenings where I was very hungry, but we often had snacks (nuts and jerky) to make the hunger go away.
I weighed myself on the morning of day 21 and I was down 12 pounds (5.4 kg). I weighed myself this morning (day 22) and I'm down 15 pounds (6.8 kg)! Who knew you could lose 3 pounds in 24 hours?!
I realize the biggest problems with these crash diets is keeping the weight off. However, the detox is also designed to change one's taste buds and I think it succeeded there. I'm much more aware of sugars in our food supply and I plan to eat a lot less of it. I hope to keep losing weight, but I'm only aiming for a pound a week for the next couple months.
My plan is to add back in full fat dairy, keep exercising and eat sugar-free meals more often than not. I'm also going to steer clear of any low-fat foods, as they often add sugar to make up for the fat flavor loss. With any luck, I'll be in great shape for this year's ski season!
Many thanks to Becky for inspiring Trish and to Trish for asking me to do it with her. I needed it a lot more than she did.