Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sugar update- over 30 days

Well, my rule was away from refined sugar as much as is humanly possible. I got a nasty cold this week, and I had a lot of cough drops. I don't know how that will effect things. but I had to have cough drops.

 Other than that, before I managed to get sick, I was feeling really great. The side effects of sugar withdrawal were gone, and I was feeling great. Cravings were even starting to go. Then I had cough drops and started dreaming about a cronut cake (something I should definitely invent someday) and my area manager came to town and put girl scout cookies by my desk all week. Being sick makes me want to eat sugar more than normal. So its a bit of a struggle still, but apart from the cough drops, we're still soldiering on, and I think doing well. Apart from the effects of this cold- coughing, sneezing, etc I feel excellent, and have for about a week.  Once I hit day 21 things felt really amazing.   

Glee Finale Thoughts (spoilers)

  Those of you who know me, know that I quite recently got hard core into Glee. I love it, mostly. Of course, I did sing goodbye to our French exchange student when she left, rather than saying a traditional farewell. In fact, I think you will find I have always preferred to express my feelings by singing, skating, or dancing them out when it comes to deep emotions.  For somethings, words alone are not enough.

   So when I finally got talked into watching Glee, just before the start of its final season, I binged seasons 1-4 in about a week on Netflix, because I loved it. well, until season 4. I hated season 4. That was a major mess, which I intend to never subject myself to ever again.  But season 5 got better and so I was excited for season 6 to start up.

 I do like to save up shows and watch them all at once. I don't have patience to watch things the traditional way, and I would have given up on Glee in season 4 for sure if I had watched it like a normal person.

 Season 6 started, and I loved it as much as seasons 1,2, and 3.  It felt like it was back to what worked. It was balanced, between the comedy, drama, and diva-ness. Good song choices were being made, and my hopes were high.  Then we had the episode A Wedding, and my hopes for things done right this season skyrocketed.  I think that may be my favorite episode. Its at least in my top 5.  It was funny, good songs, everyone was there, it wasn't Rachel centric.  Maybe that's something important for me to point out right here. I mostly can't stand Rachel Berry.  I can stand her more in season six than I could previously, but I've never been a fan.  I like all the other characters on Glee, and I think they are all far more interesting than Rachel. I also don't super love Will Schuster, but I'm not going to go into that.  Those two factors may have something to do with why I didn't love the finale.

 So the finale of Glee was a two part-er. The first part flashed back to 2009. This part of it, I loved. Although I hoped we would have seen at least a few more glimpses of the other key glee club member, just a little bit. Other than Puck being a bully, and Blaine in the background (which was very cute) I didn't see anyone. And maybe that was down to actor availability, but  It would have been nice.  But, I mostly loved 2009. I loved learning more about Kurt's back story, I loved seeing more of Tina, and Artie, and that really vulnerable moment with Mercedes crying in a church. I loved that they ended it with classic footage that included Finn and Don't Stop Believing .  This part of the finale, was incredibly well done, and I was satisfied with it.

 Then we got to dreams come true, the second half of the finale, and I feel like it all fell apart. There were really great moments, Sues song apology to will, Sues run in with Becky Jackson, the nice set up for the future.  The Kaine flash forward was fun. Even Rachel being their surrogate, that was a fun twist, it gave me hope. and then it fizzled in the end,  it felt incomplete. The last song and everyone on stage lacked inspirational goodbye quality. it seemed impersonal, and dedicating the auditorium to Finn was nice, but it just seemed kind of empty unconnected to him with that song choice. We got no follow up information on some of our very important characters with our flash forward- Santana, Brittany, Quinn, Puck, coach Beiste, kitty. So many people were just pretty much ignored in this finale it didn't feel like a proper goodbye to anything.  Mercedes goodbye song was a far better end than that was.   I expected so much. and maybe that's the problem. flashing forward and then to current repeatedly made it feel choppy. Finn, and the memorial they said they would be doing  for  him felt pretty much absent to me.  That final episode for me, was a fail. They could have done better, they should have done better. And now that is what we are left with.

 Its like on A Christmas Story, when he finally gets that decoder ring, and hes so excited, and writing down the message, thinking its some great secret spy message, and it ends up just saying "drink more Ovaltine"   I'm sad about that, because there is no other episode to redeem that ending.   Glee,  as John  Candy once said to the Disney version of the Jamaican Bobsled team, "It was yours for the taking, and you choked."   I went back and watched A Wedding again, so I could go to sleep on a happy fulfilled feeling note.  As a positive though, I will say that most the song choices for the finale were really great. Lea Michele's solo, Sues song to will,  even Klaine's song was great.  But as they say, all's well that ends well. and the last minutes of this were a mess and it left a bad taste in my mouth and ruined the rest of it for me, like finding someone else's hair in an other wise perfect piece of cake.

Dear other TV shows I watch,

please learn from this, and do not do this to me ever again. Finales are important, make sure they actually work start to finish. DO NOT DROP THE BALL inches from the end zone.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

18 Days Off Sugar

 Hello, My name is Mandi, and apparently I am addicted to refined sugars.

Today is my 18th day not eating refined sugars. I am allowing honey, and fruit, and things in my food that I can't completely get around. I mean, I can't make everything myself all the time, that would be exhausting, but as much as is Americanly possible, I am avoiding refined sugars.

 This has been an interesting, and extremely difficult 18 days, far more difficult than I ever thought when I started it.  I decided on Mardi Gras, probably mid lunch time festivities, that since one of my co-workers was going to try to live healthy and exercise for lent, maybe that would be a good idea and I would join in too. And then I realized, i already eat fairly healthy and exercise pretty much daily, at every opportunity I get. So, that wasn't specific enough. I'm a Mormon, so we don't really do lent, as a religious body. We do monthly 24 hr fasts from all food and drink (including water) so  I think that is enough fasting pretty much for anyone.

 But, we do believe in being healthy, getting closer to God, and weeding things out of our lives that interfere with either of those two things. So, as I finished yet another snickers bar I had hidden in my drawer at work, I realized something, as my exercise regime had improved over the last year, so had my chocolate/ candy bar/ cake/ doughnut eating. And I didn't like that, that was counter productive.  Almost as a sign from God a few friends posted some articles on FB about how bad refined sugar is and how addictive it is, with studies comparing its effects on our brains to crack.  My decision was made, I would go without refined sugar for lent, and see what happened.  At the end, hopefully I would eat less of it.

I didn't think this was going to be hard. Partly, because I am a Mormon, and I have no idea how long lent actually lasts. I thought I only needed to make it a month, to Saint Patricks day. difficult, I thought, but totally doable. Later I found out lent was 40 days, so like a few weeks longer. Which was fine, because all those articles I read said something about 40 days being a good amount of time to kick the habit and form new ones. Then, yesterday I decided to look it up and discovered I need to make it to the Saturday before Easter Sunday. I broke down and cried a bit, because I didn't think I could do it.  I can do it, and I will do it, and I don't plan to go back to eating refined sugar except on special occasions, a decision I made around day 7.

The first few days of this, were a little tough. I kind of wanted my habitual post lunch work time treat.  I tried eating fruit, and other things, it was fine, it wasn't completely satisfying but it was fine. I have to walk past Top Pot doughnuts every day to work, so that was a little hard to have that reminder, but I don't like Top Pot, so it was fine. I used to have reoccurring dreams about a field of doughnuts that I could just eat and new ones would pop up as a child. I have always loved doughnuts, and I always will, but Top Pot is my least favorite of all doughnuts ever. Some people like them, they just aren't for me.  So I'm glad its Top Pot and not Crispy Cream or that little shop at Pike Place market that I have to walk past every morning.

Any way, by day 3 I started to notice I was angry. A lot. I wanted a doughnut or snickers or something, I wanted it now, and I wanted to punch someone, anyone really, because I had made the choice to not eat doughnuts or Snickers, and I was now feeling angry about that, and also refusing to cave. Also my sense of smell has become highly sensitive to sugary things. Everything smells like sugar, every where, and its all I want, but also what I don't want.  I also just started to feel really emotional and moody, and kind of out of control.

By day 7 I started to feel like I was perhaps going crazy. I felt like a drug addict. My eyes felt all dark circle-y and I was tired, and angry and emotional, and I just felt really crappy. Then the headaches started. Oh my the headaches. My co worker told me I looked like I was in severe pain. And I was. I took some Advil, that didn't help. I ate some fruit, that didn't help. I exercised. Making yourself exercise with a blinding headache is not easy to do, but it helped, for about an hour at a time, it made the headache less intense and made me feel almost normal again, with a little rush of adrenaline. Unfortunately I did have to work, so I was limited how often I could exercise, but I tried to walk around and do stuff as much as possible. I also tried to drink more water, because people were telling me that would help, but then I got moody and didn't want to drink the water, and it was an uphill battle. Water helped a little, exercise helped a lot, nothing else seemed to make any difference.

 All my friends that have done this before said this would last probably till the end of the second week. and it did. It started to get better on about day 12, and the headache lifted on day 14 like clockwork.

It was at this point, I decided that it wasn't worth it to ever get so attached to sugar again. I will never do this again, I will never have headaches like this again. So I boxed up my sugar, and I'm giving it to a large family. I seriously have a box of white sugar, powdered sugar, and like candy things. I had that much sugar in my house. Its a big box. Anything that has this kind of an effect on a person, anything that is this painful to give up, that doesn't really have any merits of continuing to be used should NEVER be reintroduced to my life.  However, there are birthday parties, and retirement parties, and ward parties, and special occasions. I don't want to not be able to enjoy doughnuts ever again, and things like that. I just shouldn't enjoy them regularly. They probably should remain only a special treat. I hope at the end of 40+ days my tastes will have changed enough, that I don't really want them all the time any more, and keeping that special times only thing will be do able. I think it will happen, because I lived in Lithuania and came back to America and found the amount of sugar in things here compared to there absolutely abhorrent and disgusting when I got back, and only very slowly re-Americanized my palate.

Which takes us to this week, and today.  Headache is gone, most of the mood swings and anger is gone. (most, i still get pretty moody around 2pm at work, when i normally would have had my treat, but this is now exercise time, so that helps). I also found a few other people that are giving up refined sugar and we have become a support system for each other.  Ive picked up a new problem this week though, everything tastes disgusting to me, and food has lost all its joy.  I wrote a friend last night, and complained that I missed food making me happy. I didn't mean in an eating your feelings sense, I actually feel pretty happy in general right now, I just mean, that rush you get when you eat something and it makes you feel all excited and you want to eat more of it.   Honey and fruit isn't tricking my brain into that feeling, dispute the fact that they are a kind of sugar, which means all those things I read about refined sugar having similar effects on your brain to crack are kind of hitting home. I'm not even sure I want a snickers bar any more, I just want to feel that feeling when you eat one.   Last night was a particularly low spot for me, so a friend sent me this clip as encouragement

I want to see this now. because I believe it is accurate, just based off my experience in the past 18 days.  Another point this trailer brings up is Fat shaming, and blaming people and their exercise levels, This is a topic for another blog, but I will be blogging it.

 Giving up sugar is hard. hard hard. I've given up all sorts of things far easier than this. I once was told by an addiction counselor that I had a "white knuckle" ability like no one he had ever seen before. I am good at toughing things out. He then also had me work through the real issues at the time, so I didn't have to do that. but the point is, Sugar addiction is real, and its hard to give up. I am having a massively hard time. But it can be done, if you do it wisely.  Everything I read did not recommend giving it up cold turkey, because most people fail. they recommend gradually doing it. I think I can do this, and get through it, with help from my friends. I don't think I could do gradual, I'm not good at that sort of thing.  But as hard as this is, I'm very happy with my decision to make this change, even if it has been very painful and emotional at times.   Day 18, not even half way there yet, but I'm finally starting to feel good, and I have hope that I will enjoy food again soon, real food, without processed sugars.