Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘low sugar dieting

Other Examples

leave a comment »

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.



Cereal Torture

with 4 comments

With our Thanksgiving holiday less than a week away, the inevitable overindulgence of delectable foodstuffs is close enough to taste. Yesterday, Cyndie unleashed the first assault with one of my all-time favorites: Chex mix.

The most difficult healthy change I made in my diet when I decided to monitor my daily sugar consumption was to control how much cereal I ate. Sure, I love ice cream as the absolutely best treat around, but I even garnish some of the best scoops with Grape-Nuts cereal to take it over the top in extravagance.

Admittedly, one of my big reasons for loving cereal so much is the fact it is ready-to-eat without cooking. Can you say instant gratification?

Unfortunately, most cereals are also high in sugar, among any number of other less than ideal potential additives. While I used to avail myself of unfettered bowlfuls, my servings now are precisely measured to keep portions at or below 10 grams of sugar per meal.

It’s torture.

I have one other persistent craving. I like snacking almost more than a meal. Appetizers are better than dinner. Finger foods are the best!

Yesterday, the house smelled amazing. There was a fire in the fireplace and Chex mix baking in the oven. Butter and salty spices slathered all over the cereal, pretzels, garlic chips, and nuts, slowly roasting.

This morning the giant oval roasting pan filled with gold sits atop the stove and I am desperately trying to pretend it isn’t there.

I already snitched a double-dose beyond my ration yesterday, so I would like to demonstrate a little more restraint today.

Cyndie is gone for the day, so I had a very respectable serving of some banana nut crunch flakes for breakfast. Two bowls of a half-cup each. Ten grams.

I closed the box and put it away. Washed my bowl.

Then I lifted the lid on the roasting pan, just to see if the treasure was still there.


I told Cyndie yesterday that I noticed she forgot to include any Cheerios.

As if that will make it any easier for me to resist.

Oh for the love of cereal.



Written by johnwhays

November 18, 2017 at 11:19 am

Springing Forth

leave a comment »

The multitude of flora on our property is springing forth at a variety of rates this year. To our surprise, some of our trillium are flowering earlier than we’ve seen before. That’s particularly thrilling for us because most of the bloomers are transplants we brought from Cyndie’s family vacation home up north.

We’ve had a good run of consecutive dry days, followed by a perfect evening rainstorm Monday night and it is making growing things very happy.

Getting the water right is key to a lot of things. I went for a scouting bike ride on Sunday to investigate a route that didn’t involve gravel roads. I was successful in that, but in so doing, I out-rode my water supply. The last spot I was planning to get a refill hadn’t yet opened for the season.

I decided to push for the finish on limited rations.

It’s not that hard. I limped home safe and sound, but I was unsurprisingly under-hydrated. What intrigues me is how long the evidence has lingered. Two days later, despite consciously increasing my usual daily intake in hopes of catching up, my primary barometer (urine color) revealed I was still behind.

Working on a long game toward optimal health involves an unending series of small daily efforts. It involves making corrections along the way for intermittent deviations.

As I prepared my breakfast and lunch last night for today’s shift in the mine, measuring the amount of cereal to meet my goals for grams of sugar, it hit me again how different my diet is from just a couple of years ago. I don’t expect I’ve yet reached a point of undoing what decades of a high sugar intake produced in me.

It was probably in the late 1980s that I attended a lecture that touted a mantra of eating like a king for breakfast, a queen for lunch, and a pauper for dinner. I embraced that part about breakfast with gusto, figuring my high activity sports habit was more than enough justification to eat whatever I wanted.

Portion sizes swelled, guilt-free. Meanwhile, my body tended to swell, too –despite the constant exercise of soccer and cycling. I miss eating too much cereal for breakfast whenever I felt like it, but I don’t miss how it made me look and feel.

Pondering the difference helps to reinvigorate my inspiration for staying on course for the long haul.

I’m feeling renewed energy to spring forth into another year of living well. Maybe it will bring me into full bloom sooner than I expect.