“How did I go sugar-free? And was it hard?” – The two most things I get asked about so I’m about to answer your questions, with all BS in the box to the left.
In 2013 I made the commitment to myself to become healthier and swap my highly processed and sugary diet for a wholesome, fresh, nourishing one. Why? Because I realised how important looking after yourself and health was. I wanted to change. I wanted to be happier, feel happier and begin to enjoy life with confidence and power. I thought it would be easy, and was sooooo wrong….. BUT I was ready to kick some sugary a$$ and show the doughnuts who was boss!
In the beginning I was intrigued about food but never knew what processed foods were, sugars impact on the body or how healthy and fit felt. On a daily, I was drinking soft drinks. chips. muesli bars… pretty much anything which contained added sugar! I was bloated, constipated, lethargic, had irritated and inflamed skin, and exercise?…. what was that…
I was a teenager with poor lifestyle habits and choices.
How could I possibly break a ‘habit’? Why now?
It came down to one thing: I was terrified at the thought of being depressed (runs in the family) for the rest of my life because I was unhappy. Also, I had the chance right then and there to change, to be who I wanted to be! If I hadn’t taken up that opportunity up while I’m young, I think I would regret not doing something, later down the track.
After many restarts, tears and “I can’t do this”, fast forward 1 year and I had successfully done a 360! I went from processed foods to homemade goodness. I went through highs and lows amongst other hurdles (read more here) , as all transformations have, but in the end I found my ground and was proud of my progress and the new habits I created. It wasn’t easy but I DID IT. On my own. No personal trainer or Nutritionist. Just me.
I BELIEVED IN MYSELF. I went in with a positive attitude and I very quickly learnt to dismiss ‘friends’ who were negative or had a negative vibe. As for family? I could really completely dismiss them because you know how family are.. once somebody does something wrong then everybody else gets their knickers in a twist and.. oh what a wedgie mess! Instead I was honest with them and let them now how I feel and asked for their support….
I shopped in the fresh produce section FIRST. I filled ½ my trolley with green leafy veggies and fruit (berries), THEN I chose my other staples quinoa, buckwheat, greek yoghurt, coconut cream, seeds and nuts etc. You hardly found me in the “boring” aisles…
I did some research on smart swaps and planned my meals. I swapped dried fruit for fresh fruit, corn flakes for quinoa, fruited yoghurt for greek yoghurt, chips for veggie sticks and hummus, and fruit juices for vegetable juices. I prepped once a week so I was always organised and ready if I had no time to cook or couldn’t be bothered cooking something fresh. I made breakfast and snacks the night before.
I found inspiration and created motivation. I used MYSELF as motivation:
- I took progress pictures and measurements which I highly recommend to everybody who want to keep a record of their progress (they show ALOT more change than the scale)
- I made up a vision board with words and pictures of where I wanted to be and pinned it to my wall so I could see it first thing as I wake up
- At the end of every week I ‘checked in’ and re-evaluated my goals, making sure they were realistic and simple.
- And I followed other positive health foodies (Sarah Wilson, Pete Evans) on Instagram who inspired ME.
]I wasn’t strict and allowed for ‘falls’.
It was important to me to ease into change. I didn’t want to make too many changes too fast. I allowed for ‘give ins’ because I still wanted to enjoy life. I struggled, but I never gave up, even when I felt like I failed and would never get there. Positivity got me through!
As I progressed week by week I built up a strong will power and begun eating more and more vegetables and fruits and less processed foods, instead opting for healthier choices such as brown rice and sweet potato instead of white rice, and homemade buckwheat and zucchini bread instead of white bread.
Today, my diet consists of 60-70 % vegetables and fruits (natural sugar is allowed) and the rest macronutrients. By choosing to switch, I FEEL healthier; my skin is clearer; I have a lot more energy; I love exercising; and I’m SO MUCH happier. It has taken a few years, but for me, all the hard work was well with it.
UPDATE: I was recently (April 2015) diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a condition where the ovaries are enlarged and contain multiple cysts (a sac filled with fluid – kind of like a blister), due to increased Androgen and insulin production. So going and being sugar free has been really important for me to maintain as one of the main risks associated with PCOS is diabetes 🙂