As it says in the title, I have a really hard time with sugar. I don’t know if a sweet tooth is born or made but ever since I can remember, I have loved all things sweet. I have a mother who would rather eat sweets than meals. She was pretty good about it when we were growing up, eating proper meals with us and everything but now that there are no more kids in the house, I think she lives mostly on sugar. I guess my favourite form is ice cream but since I gave up dairy 4 years ago, there hasn’t been a good substitute in this country so that hasn’t been much of an issue. I also gave up refined sugar 4 years ago but it’s amazing how many things are on the market that use unrefined sweeteners to tempt me. Then there is of course chocolate. I love dark chocolate but have recently discovered if I eat it at night, it keeps me up. Oh the joys of growing older.
It’s a slippery slope this sugar thing. First you have a little something after dinner because it is nice to end dinner with something sweet. Then before you know it you crave something sweet after every meal and that includes breakfast. There were cookies, chocolate, cake readily available in the house so I had a choice whenever I had a craving. The inevitable consequence was even with lots of gym time, I kept putting on weight in my middle. It got to a point where my usual jeans were uncomfortable. This is a very familiar pattern to me. So you’d think I would immediately know the cause. But no, the light bulb finally went off this time and so I decided to go cold turkey. No more snacking on anything sweet, no more desserts. Within 3 days I could see the difference to my stomach. I don’t know if it’s weight or bloat that happens when I eat sugar but visually the results are the same. I spend so much time at the gym, if I was more careful about what I eat then I could look like someone who spends a lot of time at the gym. Of course I know what I should be eating, but it’s a constant battle between doing what’s right and laziness. But to make changes and make them sustainable, I need to take things slowly. First I’ll tackle the sugar, then the fat. I’m sure I will slide back now and again but as long as I can remember what happened this time and hopefully get to it sooner, I should be okay. Wish me luck.
Well this is it, the excitement of the holidays are over, the weather is miserable and the reality of another year looms large. The initial resolutions have faded a bit and it’s hard to muster that get up and go when you can’t tell if it’s 10am or 4pm from looking outside. When that happens, it is so easy to fall into martyr mode. I found myself on that slippery slope yesterday, just feeling generally down, as if a cloud was hanging over me and weighing me down. Forget work, I needed to dwell on my current woes. Oh yes I thought, I am the one doing all the work (usually for my family) and no one appreciates it. The reality is, I’m a bit of a control freak and the things I’ve chosen to take on, I wouldn’t be that happy letting someone else do it. But you can’t let rational thought get in the way of a good rant and so I continued to brood with a good dose of self righteousness thrown in.
I was all set to continue to wallow when the sun came out, a real blast of light that instantly lifted my mood. It was just what I needed to get me out of this pointless and unpleasant activity. I decided to go run errands instead of sitting in front of my computer. Of course by the time I got ready to go out, it was grey again, but by then I was committed. I ran my errand, treated myself to a nice lunch and had a catch up with a friend. I was also getting e mails with nice news and by the time I got home (much later than I anticipated) I was all set to get back to work.
So I guess the moral of the story is when you don’t feel productive, get out. Do something else, a change of scenery really works. Remember, even if it won’t warm up for awhile yet, the days are already getting longer.
I am not a health and fitness expert so I’m not going to attempt to talk about the science behind overtraining. I’m just going to tell you what happened to me. I began going to the gym seriously 2+ years ago after a 8 year break. During that time, I gained more and more weight and my blood pressure shot up. I finally adjusted my diet and began exercising in an attempt to stay off the blood pressure medication. I joined a very nice local gym which had just opened. It is a gym that specialises in MMA training. I don’t have any interest in fighting but I really liked the conditioning classes and so I began. Of course the classes were super tough but because it was a brand new gym, there weren’t that many people yet so I managed to keep up. Before you know it, I was stronger and fitter and I began to increase the number of classes I was taking. I could handle it, I thought and at a peak I was taking 8 classes a week. I loved the fact that I could do all those classes and keep up.
In between, I would take 3 week breaks here and there since I didn’t train when I went home to Tokyo and I had cataract surgery and had to stop for almost 4 weeks. I noticed when I came back, I was stronger. I thought it was strange and there were people at the gym who would suggest that it was a sign my body needed rest. Well, I just had three weeks off, that should be enough rest.
Then I took my annual summer holiday with my family. Since it is a holiday involving my entire family, I treat myself to a personal trainer to keep the stress levels down. I was chatting with him about my routine at home and he said to me, “that’s just a lot of stress on your central nervous system” a sentiment that was echoed on a programme I listened to on London Real TV. I also noticed that while I was away and training 3 times a week, I felt great and lost weight. So finally I began thinking about how much I was doing and came to the conclusion it was too much.
Since I’ve been home, I have added one more day off so now I go to the gym 4 times a week and do 5 classes and you know, I feel so much better and stronger when I go to class. I can go all out during the classes knowing that I have the next day to rest and recover. Maybe you know these things when you’ve been involved in sports your whole life. I never was, so it never occurred to me that you could do too much exercise. But as with everything else, it doesn’t matter what anyone says if you’re not ready to hear it. I’m glad I was ready before I did any real damage.
Life is hectic, life is manic. As modern women, we take pride in how much we are able to accomplish in a day. Multi tasking is a given, the question is, how many tasks can you do simultaneously?
Since I work from home and for myself, my periods of intense activity come in bursts. I have times when I can’t even think straight I’m so busy to vegging on the sofa during the day. But the down times are few and far between, mostly I live in manic activity. Lately I have been so busy that I can recall conversations but not with whom or where they took place. I was not fully present obviously, or I would be able to remember these things.
Then something happens to make you stop and think. In this case, it was a terrible something. A young person was taken very suddenly, a senseless accident. I saw how his friends are still in shock, I can’t even begin to imagine what his parents are going through. Gone, in an instant, before he even had a chance at life.
I was always a bit cynical about the ” live each day as if it could be your last” thing. How incredibly tiring to live that way, I thought, too intense. But now I see it’s not about intensity, it’s about intent. If you do everything with thought, then you are fully present in your own life. When I go, I don’t want a string of half done, half assed projects that I can half remember to be my legacy.
So I hope to take a bit more time and care in everything I do. I’m not striving for perfection, just to go about each day with a little more thought and a little less action.
As if to send me on my way, I went to a meditation class last night given by my neighbour S. She demystified it and made it something accessible. Creating stillness, making the periods of jangly activity farther apart, these are all by products of meditation. Armed with this new tool, I hope to recreate that blissed out feeling I had last night during class on a more regular basis.