Healthy, Fit, and Fabulous Initiative: Week 2

Congrats on an excellent first week!  I’m hearing reports of weight loss varying from 2-4 pounds in the first week, just from dropping fast food and getting out to walk.  Way to go!  My apologies for being delayed with the next set of instructions…

Exercise Goal:  Walk 20 minutes at a moderate pace.  Do this 5x’s during the week.

So 15 minutes wasn’t all that bad, was it?  We kick it up a notch this week with 20 minute strolls.  Don’t worry about race-walking just yet, but do start to seek out some inclines.  We have a great hill surrounding our workplace, so that’s easy!  And like Sir Isaac Newton taught us, what goes up must come down!  See if you can find a small hill and walk up on the way out and down on the way back.  This gets your heart rate up in the middle for an interval, and then you get to come back down.  Great for beginner walkers.  If you’re more advanced and need a challenge, try speeding up when you’re on the incline and slowing down on the decline.

Nutritional Focus:  Avoid excess sugar.  

So many of the hidden calories in the standard American diet come from liquid calories.  Iced lattes, sodas, ‘sports’ drinks, ‘energy’ drinks, etc.  These are not only sources for loads of sugar that you can’t even perceive, they’re big sources of trouble!  Sugar addiction is no joke.  You have cravings you don’t even recognize, and most people have mood swings, sluggishness, tiredness, headaches, and more – that they don’t even realize are triggered by sugar or the sudden lack thereof.

Eating ‘clean’ has been such an eye opener for me.  I used to think it was normal to crash on the couch after work, nap on car rides, or have headaches a few days a week.  Blamed it on stress, probably.  I was irritable without warning.  Most of that’s gone (just don’t ask my husband for confirmation.  He’ll probably still say he can’t predict my irritability!).  Seriously though, one of the biggest changes when I changed my diet was being able to recognize triggers.  IF and when I have a headache now, I can almost always tell you why, and I can pinpoint something out of whack in my diet in the past several hours.  Practically without fail.  When you have so many things out of whack in your diet, there’s no hope of pinpointing exactly what’s setting you off or triggering unpleasant symptoms.

So, we’ve gotten rid of all the junky fast food.  Sugar is the next item on the list.  Cut out the liquid calories and the sugar highs and lows by drinking your coffee and lattes with vanilla soy milk. There’s some inherent sweetness to the milk, and it can really spice up a bland drink.  It might take some getting used to, and it’s ok to cut back slowly if you need to if that’s the only way to make it palatable.  If you’re a soda drinker, consider replacing those with iced green tea.  You’ll still get some caffeine, but it’s a better, cleaner kind!  Add a little agave syrup if you need to, again just to tide you over to the point where you can get rid of it completely.  Sugar cravings are learned.  You can learn to love drinks without all the sweetness just as you learned to love them with the sweetness.  Before you know it, sugary sweet stuff will taste gross!

A word about ‘diet’ drinks and artificial sweeteners.  Artificial sweeteners are just that – artificial.  It’s some concoction of a chemical that tastes AND ACTS just like sugar.  It’s just not sugar.  So… your body is treating it just like sugar – mood swings, sugar crashes, storing sugar directly as fat instead of burning it as useful calories.  But on top of all that, you’re ingesting chemicals galore.  Stuff we don’t even know what it’s doing!  Diet drinks are not a good substitute for sugary sodas. They’re every bit as bad.

And for another myth (please don’t kill the messenger), vitamin water is no better than gatorade which is hardly any better than a sugary soda….  Most bottled beverages other than plain water are LOADED with sugar.  12 oz of Coke has 39 g of sugar.  12 oz of Gatorade has 17g.  12 oz of Vitamin water has 19.5.  When I suggest green tea, I am suggesting you make it at home!  It can be hard to find unsweetened versions.  Arizona iced tea has 36g of sugar…  Apple juice, 39g.  Here’s a great rundown of common beverages.

So this week, working on avoiding excess sugar may seem more challenging than you originally thought.  Just keep at it, become aware of the sources of sugar in your diet, and work to edge them out.  Drink lots of water.  If you just can’t stand the taste of plain water (yet), try squeezing fresh lemon, lime, or orange into it!  It’ll do wonders!

Cheers!

Watch out for hidden sugar!

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