I Quit Sugar

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Seasons End

On Sunday I took part in Born2Tri’s 3rd and final event for 2017, the Notley Autumn Duathlon. I did the Spring version of this back in 2015 when I was a stone and a half lighter posting a time of 01:40:47 – this time around I really struggled with the 4k runs, especially the 2nd one and my final time was 01:46:23. In some respects a backwards step but mostly serves to encourage and motivate. The bike leg once again salvaged some time for me and probably stopped me from finishing last! ūüôā

Back in 2015 I might have been lighter but I did practically no training for any events. Now, I am training regularly and am back on the calorie watching and feeling great. My left side of my right knee is very sore today though, will see if that eases tomorrow but if not a sports massage will probably be in order.

My plan now is to train properly throughout the Winter months and I aim to have lost the weight I put back on and go further than before. I have a single goal for 2018 and that’s to complete my first full Olympic distance Triathlon. I did two thirds of one in 2015 at the London Triathlon relay!!! As always it’s the running part that concerns me, but slowly but surely things are improving in that department. I think with less weight to carry backed up by disciplined training, improvements will come.

I have already said it but once again a massive thanks to all the organisers for a faultless event and to all the fellow club mates doing marshal duties for spurring me on.

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We Graduated!

Okay, the IQuitSugar 8 week programme has long since finished, so how are we doing? Well apart from not being too brilliant at meal plans we are doing great, and are still sugar-free. Interestingly both of our desires for the sugary things in life has all but dissipated entirely, with Ruth finding that her appetite is far less than it used to be, ie she gets full quicker. This was always a natural reaction to taking Fructose out of your everyday eating, but she is finding it more so now than when we were during the programme.

It is now engrained in me to not shop sugar, I know the stuff that is bad and what is acceptable – one of my favourite things now is Avocado on corn cakes! Sounds utterly dull right? So bloomin’ tasty though. One of the things I was concerned about as mentioned before is the initial ban on fruit and the reduction of intake thereafter – having been a 5 plus piece of fruit-a-day kind guy it really was something that I thought I would never be able to handle. How wrong I was, I actually don’t crave fruit at all now, in fact the only fruit I have had (other than Avocado)¬†is raspberries on a sugar-free cheese cake I made for our Halloween party. The cheesecake was yummy incidentally, but not sure about the ground almond base to be fair – I will research an alternative! To be clear here, fruit isn’t bad, in fact IQS encourage the eating of it, particularly berries as they provide the most benefit with the least Fructose – the simple fact is I no longer desire it, instead choosing a handful of nuts if I am feeling snacky!

I need to knuckle down now and work out meal plans around our social lives; a mistake I made in the 8 week programme was to not factor in nights when I am out and hence not around to cook. Being as I do the vast majority of the cooking that’s a bit of a problem when you are carefully devising lunch and dinner meals. Some of the recipes I have learned are now etched on my brain so I can recreate these at the drop of a hat, and the Sarah Wilson policy of using up what you’ve got in the fridge is such a simple concept but oh so very awesome. Grab all that veg from the fridge, lob it onto an oven tray with some extra virgin coconut oil, herbs of your choosing with some potato and onion wedges, bung it in the oven for 20-25 minutes on 180-190C et voila a very tasty and filling meal for dinner and lunch tomorrow. That’s just one of the takes from this experience, there are many more. Basically I am JERFing like you wouldn’t believe!! As an IQS graduate I feel I am qualified to use that term, but if you are reading this and doubting its merits – give it a try, and not just because clicking those links and signing up gets me commission either. It’s a better way of living, eating and promotes much better awareness for your entire family too.

Next step is to get physical, something I am guilty of not doing as part of the IQS programme primarily due to knackering my Planter Fasciosis in my right foot. I am signed up once more for the Blenheim Palace Triathlon in June next year, but this time I want to be well prepared, a lot more¬† lean and actually compete with the group I do it with. Now I feel I have my food diet in check, it feels a natural progression to take it up a gear on the fitness front. I have enlisted the help of one of the Born2Tri coaches, to get some much needed accountability in there. Let’s do this!

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The Final Furlong

We are now nearing week 8 of the IQuitSugar ‘experiment’ and I have to say it has been a thoroughly enjoyable culinary ride. I do feel better for it, of that I am certain, and it is quite bizarre how I don’t crave any sweet stuff anymore – not that I had¬†a particularly sweet tooth, I am talking about crisps (laden with sugar except for most plain crisps). I walk into the canteen at work and see the chocolate bars, desserts, cans of drinks and just don’t miss them – at all! It’s a strange but liberating feeling to not be a slave to the unhealthy snacks anymore. If there is something that I am probably not getting right at the moment is the in-between meal snacking. I buy corn or rice cakes for snacking but am finding myself unable to stop at just 2 or 3 and nearly always polish the lot off throughout the day! Probably not the best idea! However, I am still the same weight four weeks in a row, having lost 9lbs since starting on this regime.

Interestingly the blurb for week 8 says it is now whether you decide that you want to continue your sugar free life or not, I guess they want your money again when you drop back into your bad habits. The last 2 weeks have been pretty challenging from a consistency point of view with a lot of evenings out and business trips meaning that I have been faced with multiple eating out conundrums and not having the organisational skills to cook up multiple plan meals in advance. I think I have done very well, and I know the wife has also been extremely diligent in her eating habits. All of this combines together to make me realise that we can continue this journey, it’s easy really and if there’s the odd slip up here and there it’s no biggie, just jump back on it. I am finding that my taste buds have changed too; a steak I had the other night (without any sauce of course) was just divine, it’s like my buds have found a new lease of life and I am tasting things anew!

So what now? Well, first we have to get through week 8’s yumminess, but after this I plan to revisit all of the meals that both Ruth and I enjoyed, and concoct our own monthly meal plan. We also have the IQuitSugar recipe book which has over 300 recipes in it, so I will make things fun by throwing a few of these into the mix also – also have Davina McCall’s sugarless recipe book and already know how awesome a lot of these are. Cheesecake anyone? Once you get over the cooking every single day aspect out of your system, it’s actually really easy, the results are astonishingly good meals and all are very filling.

You may notice banner ads for the IQS plan throughout the site, I am now an affiliate with them – so if you are thinking of joining up or buying any of Rachel Wilson’s books, order through my site by clicking the links please. It’s so worthwhile, and I would love to hear how you¬† are¬†finding the journey or if you are just embarking upon the path to Yumsville!

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Sugarless Path

(Big Brother Geordie accent) It’s week 3 in the Sugar Free house (/end) Ruth and I have made it to week 3 reasonably unscathed and I think feeling the benefits already. It’s certainly got me cooking a whole lot more, like daily, like Breakfast, Lunch AND Dinner, plus snacks too! How are we coping? Well, for me I had the usual 2 days worth of head-achy nausea that I experienced in my mock lent sugar abstinence.¬† But those were early on in the programme, by week 2 you are supposed to be completely off the sugar, but I had already started this three days prior to week 1 to get ahead, and Ruth joined me on the first official day of the plan. Neither of us have been particularly observant of the limiting of alcohol to one a day, but I have generally stuck with weekend drinking only.

So what is the food like? In short it is absolutely gorgeous, I haven’t had one meal yet that has made me feel like never cooking it again, and because we initially started on the omnivore plan this included a nice mix of veggie and meat meals where I substituted appropriately. We are now totally veggie from week 3 onwards and if I fancy having that meal with meat I can do.¬† I am actually quite happy to eat veggie anyway, so it’s no biggie. Breakfasts have been superb, particularly the weekend ones where we have so far had the Curried Carrot Hash with Boiled Egg (totally yum) and last weekend the Mushroom on Sourdough bread topped with Hazelnuts and Feta, which was just awesome. The only thing I’ve cooked up that I haven’t liked is the water chestnuts in coconut oil – they weren’t bad, they were just not that good! A highlight of the lunch and dinner options so far has been the BLATT burger (Beetroot, Lettuce, Avocado, Tomato and Tahini) and for a meat option the Turkey San Chow Bow was just scrumptious!

The upshot with all the meals is that they contain all the necessary food groups and nutrition you need to sustain you; a lot of the time they will look like they won’t fill you up in a month of Sundays – but they do! It’s bizarre finding yourself eating a chicken salad in Giraffe (an eating out test aced by me thank you!) and not actually being able to finish it! This is when you realise how much Fructose plays a part in not telling your brain you are done eating! Crazy! I have to admit I have become a bit more snacky in latter days, but I think I put this down to psychological than actual need. Still, when water doesn’t sate out come the Macadamias or Rice Cakes to take the edge off things.

Will¬†we continue? At this time,¬†we are fully committed to the 8 week programme and definitely will see it through to completion and see where we are then. I have ordered Sarah Wilson’s recipe book that has over 300 recipes in it so that we can then devise our own meal plans, including highlights from the 8 week plan. It’s got to be beneficial to us, and I’ve even introduced the kids to some of the recipes, the Salmon tray of loveliness being something they devoured without too many questions or protestations.

I feel slimmer already, confirmed by both work and leisure trousers being more loose and no more belt holes to use. The scales are also confirming this to the tune of 7 lbs so far. A happy accident in an experiment that seems like it has got legs. It’s funny, the instant assumption that you are doing this is that you are unhappy, and that you should just enjoy life as you’re only here once, so eat, drink and be merry. Hmmm, I’m here once, I want to try and extend my stay if I can, doing this will no doubt help with that – and with the quality of the food I’m cooking up, the fact I can drink coffee and alcohol (both I don’t need as much of now as another happy accident) and the cash savings from take away food plus using up all that stuff in your fridge and freezer – it all mounts up to a tidy little lifestyle change, one that is manageable, enjoyable and sustainable. The three ‘ables’, if you like.

I will check in again at week 6, but in the meantime if you’re reading this and thinking of giving it a shot, but have questions or concerns, drop me a note and I’ll be happy to help. If you want to try the programme for yourselves click on the banner below:

Embrace the Fat and ditch the Fructose. :O)

I Quit Sugar

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Sugar! I Quit!

So since my ‘Frankie Say’ post, although I have modified my eating behaviours somewhat (not enough in other words) and exercise a little more (not enough in further words!), I am still losing weight but in a very slow manner. This isn’t a problem, I’m not gaining after all, but I need to kick-start the mentality process that needs to be addressed to truly succeed at this. In the past I have done my mock Lents and given up caffeine, bread and even alcohol, but by far the hardest was last year when I chose to kick out added sugar from my diet for 40 days and 40 nights. This, was, HELLA tough! It’s only when you are forced to scrutinise each and every packet in the supermarket is when you realise just how much extra sh1t is chucked into our foods – this of course makes them more appetising and Fructose being something the brain just never tells you that you’ve had enough of, makes it quite frankly dangerous to one’s health. The strain this puts on your liver firstly and the body’s natural way of dealing with the excess, turning it straight to fat and shoving it wherever it can – mostly on the belly! It’s little wonder that obesity is such a problem not only in the UK but most of the world over.

So… What to do? Devise your own sugar free plan and go with that? Yes, you could do that, but I suggest you try just doing it for 2 days and see just how frickin’ hard it is! I am massively thankful I did my sugar free mock lent; it really helped me understand what is going into my body and how much damage my eating was doing. To give you some idea of what you are up against; when I did the Mock Lent, I went into M&S to buy some chicken slices and was hoping to find something to go with it. Firstly, the chicken slices had brown sugar in them, I know right!¬†Secondly the only thing I could find in the entire freezer section was a tray of Egg Fried Rice, everything else had some form of added sugar content! I have to say that since that almost rage inducing day M&S seem to have introduced a lot more healthier ingredients to their meals. Another example I can give is only yesterday I was ingredient shopping for the IQS plan and a tub of Red Cabbage and Beetroot caught my eye – That will make a nice quick snack I thought, I don’t need to check the ingredients do I? Do I? Yes, you do, unfathomably this little tub of vegetable loveliness had added sugar in it!! FFS!

Nope, we’re gonna need help on this one I feel. Hence we have enlisted the, admittedly not cheap, ‘I Quit Sugar’ (IQS) 8 week programme that aims to get your body into the detoxed state it needs to be in to continue on and kick the sugar habit once and for all. When a plan says it’s okay for me to have the odd drink and that caffeine is okay once a day, then this opens the door – both are key things that I love and enjoy, and don’t want to give up – ever! So IQS has received my money, the wife & I are committed to doing this, and with the added bonus that we can control to an extent the amount of sugar our kids are ingesting. Of course we can’t stop this entirely, kids are kids, sweets are commonplace, but if we can nurture the mentality maybe there’s a hope that we can steer the ship in the right direction.

I have never had a particularly sweet tooth, but I am not meticulous enough about checking what I am eating; things like the vast majority of crisps (chips to my US friends) are absolutely loaded with added sugar for example. Happily beer contains Maltose which the body metabolises fine, and wine contains minimal Fructose with red wine being the best to consume on a sugar-free regime. However, on the 8 week plan you are to restrict this down to a drink a day or eradicate it altogether – I only drink at weekends so this isn’t a hardship and I may even opt to go dry. So far I cooked up two of the recipes, the Paleo Veggie Bread is particularly good and the Crispy Cauliflower Tacos are to die for – even though it was an utter ball ache mission to find Tortilla wraps that don’t contain added sugar!! You may be worried you’ll be eating a plate of leaves, which wouldn’t work for me either, I love my food and it has to be interesting or I simply won’t follow the plan. Tonight is Beetroot burgers that look utterly gorgeous. (Update: They were!!)

A natural ‘side effect’ for a lot of people that have followed the IQS plan is weight loss, and calculating the calories intake for a couple of the days that would ring true as taking today for example it has me around 250 calories under my recommended. Throw in some exercise and that’s a great net cal value, and the site has a list of appropriate and accepted snacks both for general snacking and also for boosting post workout. Breakfast was my only real concern, but in fairness most days I have porridge, and this is sugar free, I am now just following the IQS version that has lots of added yumminess, almonds, coconut, vanilla, and cinnamon, to name¬†but a few options. Due to the need to change things up, you are more or less forbidden from eating fruits for the first 4 weeks – this made me frown somewhat as I love my fruit, but I fully understand as these are rich in sugars and the point of the programme is rid your body’s addiction to sugar completely and to recalibrate. They then reintroduce fruits as part of the programme – they do recommend low fructose fruits if you need to eat them and one’s to avoid that are high, but I am going to follow the IQS programme to the letter here. To avoid at all costs from here-on-in though is dried fruits – all the water has been sapped out of it leaving only concentrated sugar! So, that no-sugar muesli you’ve been eating (I’m looking at you Tesco), actually all the dried fruit in there is giving you your daily fix and more. Bosh!

Okay, it’s expensive at ¬£79, but I figure is it really that steep for what is in effect a complete assisted lifestyle change. I am at an age where these things concern me, and should’ve concerned me a lot earlier in my life, but now I have kids my mind-set has definitely recalibrated. On paper it all makes sense, feels like something I can follow and stick with. I will update you midway through the programme and let you know how it’s going and what improvements I have noticed.

If you are interested in the programme click on the link below:

I Quit Sugar

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