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*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘craving sugar

Other Examples

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As long as I’m on the subject of sticktoitiveness, there are two other examples in my life that have slowly rewarded me for staying the course day after day, in one case, for years.

When I finally took action to address an addiction to sugar which manifested in cravings that controlled my decisions, I had no idea what lay ahead for me. I had previously experimented with simply cutting out desserts and cookies or candy treats for a random period of weeks, just to see if I could, but I neglected to account for the amount of sugar I was getting from other sources.

My cravings for breads and cereals would ramp up to impressive levels, and I would allow myself those compromises.

After learning more about where I was getting most of the sugar in my diet, and discovering the actual measurement of sugar recommended by the World Health Organization for percentage of daily calories, I set out to control it by watching the numbers.

That made a big difference. First of all, it showed me how physically addicted my body, and mind, had become. I experienced withdrawal symptoms that included headaches, dizziness, nausea, and tremors, not because I cut out sugar completely, but simply by strictly limiting the amount of sugar in the food I was eating.

It has taken me years at the rate I am working it (because I waver with my level of strictness), but self-control slowly improved to a point where it hardly takes mental energy to employ anymore. Most importantly, I am not just doing this for a period of weeks. This is forever. I always measure how much cereal I eat, and I always check serving size information to figure out how much sugar there is.

A more recent adventure in every day tenacity that I am watching produce slow results is, my daily planking exercises. When I started back in the last week of March, I decided to see what results I might achieve if I did the exercises my physical therapist recommended for the entire month of April. These were focused on strengthening my core to treat the painful symptoms of degenerating discs.

It is really helpful to not be constrained by debilitating pain when doing daily chores to care for our animals.

Thirty consecutive days of planking in April established enough of a pattern that I found it easy enough to keep going through May. Then two months became four, and in a blink, I’ve made it eight months of pretty regular planking. In that time I have slowly gained enough strength that I have modified my methods to match.

The current plank that is my primary exercise is four minutes long, starting with a minute and a half of a basic horizontal planking, then 45 seconds of lifting an opposite arm and leg for a two-point plank, 45 more seconds with the other arm and leg, and then finishing with a final minute of the basic plank again.

There are other leg exercises and some yoga stretches that get mixed in after the planking, depending on how much time I have to spend, but the planking is key.

Between these two daily efforts of healthy controlled-sugar diet and regular exercise, practiced over months and years, my physical health is in better shape than most of my previous adult life.

That is providing plenty of incentive for me to stick to this indefinitely.

Maybe the fact that these steps are not a quick fix, makes the positive results that much more satisfying. It definitely provides a welcome bonus of boosting my mental health, as well.



Surviving Halloween

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Today is the first day of November, so that means last night was candy-stravaganza! It also means the next week or so will consist of people trying to unload leftover treats.

All holidays are challenging for those of us striving to conquer cravings for sweets, but Halloween is particularly ominous. There tends to be an overwhelming amount of bite-size treats in seductively colored wrappers well within reach at every turn.

I have been enjoying uncharacteristic success with my self-control in the days leading up to last night. I celebrated by raiding Cyndie’s secret stash of Reese’s Peanutbutter Cups hidden in a drawer. I ate exactly one and was just fine with that.

I think I’m getting the hang of this routine. The longer I go without consuming more sugar than is healthy each day, the less my body craves.

On the way to the airport on Tuesday morning, I mentioned that I would be home alone on Halloween and Cyndie told me where I could find candy if anyone decided to venture up our long driveway and knock on the door. No one did.

In the six years we have been here, we have received a total of two visits on Halloween night. Both were by the same family that lives around the corner –a couple of miles away– on two successive years. It’s the only time we have ever talked with them.

I’m guessing their son is old enough now that he doesn’t want to be dragged to all these strangers houses by his parents, just to listen to them gab for 20 minutes at each stop. It wasn’t as much trick or treating as it was social networking.

Now, after the sun comes up, if there is no toilet paper hanging in our tree branches, and no egg stains on any of our structures, that will be the true, full measure of surviving Halloween.

The next thing I need to do is survive the days after. In the end, that’s possibly the bigger challenge.



Written by johnwhays

November 1, 2018 at 6:00 am

Periodic Assessment

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Yesterday was the day of our annual furnace inspection by the company that installed it a few years ago. So far, so good. Honestly, I would have been shocked if he had found something amiss. We are past the initial break-in period where manufacturing or installation issues could appear, and it is still new enough that no parts should be wearing out. Plus, it has been performing flawlessly from the start.

Still, I pay good money for the peace of mind to know all is well.

Our experience last fall of discovering the cracked tiles in the flue of our chimney bolstered my confidence in the value of regular check-ups.

Upon recommendation from someone at work, I watched “That Sugar Film” last night. I invite you to check out the trailer for a sampling. It might make you crave seeing the whole movie. It served as a periodic assessment of my sugar reduction/control efforts, not that I wasn’t aware of some slippage in the wrong direction.

I struggle with a physical addiction to sweetness. Well, mental and physical, frankly. Every time I cheat a little on my attempt to stay below the recommended healthy daily amount of calories from sugar, I feed the mental monster. My mind then works with my body to coerce me into feeding the urge.

It is weird to watch the movie and get a sense of how similar my sugar craving is to drug addictions that are publicly looked upon as all around bad things, while the food industry flashes spectacular and colorfully happy ad campaigns in broad daylight for products laden with the chemical that will capture our minds and make our bodies sick.

Think, tobacco industry. How many years did they get away with it? Cigarettes were safe. Heck, they were even good for you! NOT!

That scene is happening today with soft drink companies, cereal, yogurt, pasta sauces, …pretty much all processed foods. They are all safe! Enjoy!

We can trust them, because they pay scientists to collect data that shows everything is okay. It’s fine. Don’t worry. Have some more. You know, a calorie is a calorie, whether from sugar or otherwise. NOT!

Don’t fall for the ruse that you should be able to exercise enough to justify that next sugar laden meal. That is a war that can’t be won.

If you have children, save them from this. Please, understand the effects of sugar on our brains and bodies.

Addiction is addiction. Pick a poison. Street drugs, prescription drugs, tobacco, gambling, sex, shopping, food, sugar.

When choosing to profit off the human brain’s cravings, a company should have a plan to hide the facts about making their customers sick. Maybe no one is noticing the obesity trend and subsequent increase in associated diseases, like diabetes and heart disease. Go ahead, keep on eating the convenient foods filling the grocery store shelves.

What this movie points out is that he doesn’t eat the obvious soda pop, candy, and ice cream which most people know should be moderated.DSCN4499e He chooses supposed “healthy” choices of cereal, yogurt, juices, and snack bars during his 60-day experiment. It’s eye-opening, even for me.

I need to renew my effort to spot what my brain is doing to feed its craving.

Last night, it was pasta for dinner. It was soooooo good.












Written by johnwhays

March 5, 2016 at 10:40 am