Tag Archives: chocolate

The Blessing of a Broken Routine

7 Apr

Vacations are great. It’s actually been proven that simply planning a vacation makes you happier. I can vouch for that. During the past 2-3 weeks of being crazy busy at work, knowing that I was going to have 3 days off was like a ray of sunshine through clouds of gloom. And now that that trip is over, I’m looking forward to our Alaska trip where I’ll run my first full marathon.

But something about vacations has always bothered me: the break from routine. You may think that sounds ridiculous but for me, a person who values routine, having many days in a row without my usual routine makes me feel naked and unproductive. It also makes me worry that my routine must not be that important to me, if one little vacation makes me throw it out the window. The result is that I come back from vacations feeling like, for however many days I was gone, I wasn’t really living my life. I was living someone else’s life, a life in an alternate universe.

I can hear some of you saying, “That’s the sign of a good vacation.”

And now, I’d have to agree. I was thinking about this while we were down in Evansville, how feeling so separated from normal life bothers me. And then I realized: the break from reality is God’s blessing. True, I come home from vacation feeling like I was someone else for a while, but that reinvigorates and refreshes me for my everyday life. It makes me even more excited for my routine, more thankful for my own bed, more loving to my pooches, more grateful for my house. Without the break from reality that a vacation provides, I wouldn’t feel that new life instilled in the “same old.”

So now, I’m looking at the break from routine as a good thing… and trying to keep that positive perspective when I look at what happens to my eating habits on vacation.

Over the course of doing my Food Log for Lent, I have experienced many of the “diet downfalls” that normally trip me up: group meals, vacations, baby or bridal showers, date night, post-long run food fests. It has been very interesting to me to see how my body naturally regulates itself so that higher calories days (or weeks) are balanced out with lower ones.

On our recent trip to Evansville, I kept up my food log as much as I could (though I’m pretty sure I missed a mini Twix bar or two). And looking back on what I ate and drank, I was interested to see that 20% of my calories were EMPTY. Meaning they were in the form of chocolate (not dark), alcohol (white wine), and soda (Mountain Dew), and provided no nutritional value (there were other things consumed that weren’t the epitome of health but they had some nutritional value). I compared that to a “normal” week of eating and found that my empty calories then were only 8% of my total calories. Sure, the numbers aren’t a night and day difference but when I look at days where I ate 700 calories of pure sugar, it’s not hard to see why I feel sluggish and blob-like on vacation.

You know what they say, Knowledge is power. It’s been helpful for me to see the truth of my eating habits, even when they’re not pretty. And even though at first, I was surprised at how much I ate (which ended up being a higher-calorie week than average anyway), I’m now surprised that the times when I feel like I’ve eaten “so much food” and have “gained 5 lbs” really aren’t that big of a deal calorie-wise in the end anyway (it’s still a big deal glorifying-God-wise). And because I can relax over “the damage that has been done,” I can focus on what really matters: finding my satisfaction and joy in God alone.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a little more chocolate than usual while I’m on vacation.

January Goal: Achieved.

2 Feb

Well, friends, I made it. Survived one entire month without sweets of any sorts. It was rough. Especially last week. The culmination of busyness at work, that time of the month, tiredness, and sickness made me want to punch someone and steal their ice cream. But I didn’t.

The past couple days, I’ve been thinking over whether this goal achieved its intended purpose or not, which was to destroy my intense craving for sweets at all hours of the day for part of every meal. And I have to be honest, last week I was convinced that this whole goal was one big waste of willpower.

But then this week came. And the idea of getting to eat chocolate today was like Meh. I woke up this morning and stumbled to the bathroom with one eye half open, and then I remembered, it’s over. I can eat sweets again.

I stumbled to the kitchen where the thawed Triple Decker Brownies that I had kept in the freezer since New Years were sitting. And to be honest, I didn’t really want one. But I have been waiting for this moment the entire month of January – it’s the Day of Chocolate!

So I got out a plate and made the breakfast of champions:

I ate the dark chocolate square first. It was chocolate but it didn’t explode in my mouth like I had fantasized for 30 days.

Then I started eating the brownie. And I realized that what I was doing was ridiculous. Not only was I eating chocolate for breakfast, I wasn’t even enjoying it. So I bagged up the other half of the brownie and the chocolate cherry for later. As I drank my coffee and ate a piece of peanut butter toast, my stomach was doing flip-flops – not in the elated, I can’t believe we get to eat chocolate again! way but in the What the f? What is this crap? way.

{Don’t worry, I still ate the other half of the brownie and chocolate cherry for my morning snack, and instead of the salad and butternut squash lasagna I so carefully packed, I ate a Cinnamon Crunch bagel with Honey Walnut cream cheese from Panera for lunch. Now my stomach is really confused angry.}

All that to say…

It was cutting it close but I think that my goal finally had its intended effect. That time of the month aside (because we all know that we can’t be held accountable for our actions then), I think that my craving for sweets has decreased to a normal, sane amount.

In fact, I’m not even planning to get Yogurtland tonight.

I know, I know. Who am I?

The reason being that I’m going to run 5 miles and do my physical therapy exercises. And Travis is meeting with guys from church. And I don’t want to drive all the way to Yogurtland by myself. And it’s supposed to be a blizzard tonight after work. And I don’t want my stomach to go on strike for being mistreated.

What I Learned:

This experience has taught me that I do have the willpower to resist sweets. I can never use lack of willpower as an excuse again. I will have to admit that I ate the bowl of ice cream because I wanted it more than I wanted a flat stomach or a stable blood sugar. (That’s been the truth all along anyway.)

I also learned that I turned to sweets of all kinds (including soda…who knew?) for comfort and indulgence. When I come home from a stressful or tiring day, and just want to relax, food is where I turn – because it’s fast, easy, and gratifying. I tried to think of other ways to achieve the same effect but I don’t like baths because relaxing against a cement wall isn’t my idea of a good time. Walks are just more work. Reading and TV are better with food so that’s not it either. I guess I’m left with trying to tame the beast.

Where I Go from Here:

This goal reminded me of why I believe in Intuitive Eating (IE). The main idea of IE is that you give yourself permission to eat whatever you want. There are only two rules in IE: Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full. The authors believe that when we classify foods as “bad” and “good,” food ends up exerting power over us. But when you ditch the classifications and allow yourself to have whatever you want as long as you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, food loses it power – because you know you can have it anytime you want.

With this goal, I took away that freedom. I couldn’t eat sweets when I craved them and found myself trying to fill the void with other food. This comic from Cathy sums it up beautifully:

This is exactly what the authors of IE  say – you end up eating more food and calories trying to satisfy your true craving in a “healthy” way than you would if you just ate what you truly wanted. And I really found that to be true. When I wanted something sweet after dinner, instead of being able to satisfy myself with a 35-calorie Dove chocolate, I would eat 250 calories of Pirate’s Booty or a bowl of cereal. So if you’re wondering if I lost any weight doing this challenge, sadly, no I did not. 😦

Now that the month of no sweets is over, I’m going back to giving myself the freedom to eat sweets when I’m truly craving them. But I am not going back to the licentiousness I had before I did this challenge. Then, I ate whatever was sitting out or free, whether I really wanted it or not. I exercised hardly any discretion (which is what led me to my sugar addiction in the first place). Now, I would like to be more intentional and make every choice count. If I eat a piece of chocolate cake, it better be just about the best piece of cake I’ve ever had. If I eat ice cream, it better be my favorite flavor or served on top of a gooey, still-warm brownie. That’s one rule I try to follow regarding what I eat in general: If you don’t love it, don’t eat it (even if that means throwing out “perfectly good food”).

I would like to preserve my body’s sugar shock as long as possible. It always make me feel good (and yet at the same time, feel horrible) when I’ve been eating healthy for long enough that my body freaks out when I give it unhealthy food. I must be doing something right. 

Have you ever ransacked the cupboard trying to satisfy a craving?

January Goal Update 2.0: No sweets for a month.

17 Jan

Here is my second (and second to last) January goal update. I posted my first update last week. Here are the details of the goal if you missed them.

Not eating sweets has gotten slightly easier, though I am by no means out of the woods. I am still planning to eat Godiva chocolate for breakfast, cupcakes for lunch, and froyo for dinner on Feb 2nd when this silly goal is over.

{source, source, source}

What’s sad is that I’m not even kidding.

Last Saturday a friend brought a delicious-looking butter braid dessert to our football party. I really wanted some so I asked Travis if he thought that was classified as dessert. Without realizing why I was asking, he replied, “Heck yes, this is dessert!” Darnit.

Another friend had brought Coke Zero and even though I’ve realized that I really don’t like diet pop, I was desperate and thought, “Well I’ll just have one of those.” Then I realized those were off-limits too. Bah.

Anyway…

Last week, I said that I was going to distract myself after dinner to avoid eating snacks in lieu of dessert. Well, last week was rough on multiple fronts, one of those being the eating front. I did manage to squelch my after-dinner snacking but… I replaced it with pre-dinner snacking. The minute I walked in the door, my hand was in the box of Oatmeal Squares. I needed to fuel up for taking the dogs on a walk, right? In my defense, I was actually hungry.

So I have two observations this week:

1. Don’t come home from work starving. I get home too hungry to wait for dinner and this is only going to get worse as running mileage increases. I would like to figure out a balance between eating healthy snacks to alleviate hunger and being a big girl by just waiting to eat until dinner is ready.

2. Eating chocolate every day is not bad. When this goal is over, I am going to buy some dark chocolate Dove squares and allow myself to eat one every night after dinner. Seriously, all I need after dinner is that sweet little flourish to signal the end of eating and since it is sorely lacking in this month of deprivation, I have been wanting to find something else that will even just come close. There is nothing. I just want chocolate. And since one dark chocolate Dove square only has 42 calories but contains healthy antioxidants and satisfies my sweet tooth, I think it’s totally justified.

On a more positive note, I do like that my diet is cleaner as a result of this challenge. It has actually motivated me to make some other changes, like cutting out refined carbs, taking a multi-vitamin, and flossing every day. Now, I haven’t actually done any of those things yet but I’m planning to implement one change every month. Otherwise, I get overwhelmed and do nothing. So stay tuned on those…

What is one healthy habit you’ve adopted recently?

January Goal Update: No Sweets for a Month

10 Jan

So I have successfully made it 8, going on 9, days without sweets. And I have to say, it’s been ROUGH.

I have given up foods before as a way to go cold-turkey off a bad habit – because let’s be honest, I’ve tried “to eat less chocolate” and bombed big time. So it works for me to abstain from a certain thing for a while, until the craving goes away or at least decreases. But for some reason, this time has been the hardest.

Maybe it’s because I outlawed all sweets, not just chocolate or pop. Maybe it’s because I entered this goal with a fresh holiday sugar rush that I accumulated, bite by bite, over many weeks. Maybe it’s because I just got so used to ending a meal with a “little something extra.” Maybe it’s because I don’t have any cheat days, or even cheat moments, with this goal.

Whatever it is, I really hope these 8 days aren’t a foreshadow of what the next 22 will be like. 

I mean, it’s got to get easier, right?

It’s the hardest after dinner. I just want… something. Sweet. Chocolate.

Then it doesn’t help that I see all these delicious baked goods on the blogs I follow. Or at friends’ houses. Or on TV commercials.

What I wouldn’t give for a brownie, a blondie, or a chocolate chip cookie.

Anyway… I’ve noticed and not cared that I am substituting other post-dinner snacks for the MIA chocolate. I know that this is partly the result of having eaten dessert for after every meal in the months of November and December, and partly the result of me being extremely addicted to chocolate.

I’ve found that a good remedy for this is to use the snack as a reward for doing the dishes right after dinner, straightening up the living room, walking the dogs, etc. Do something else right after eating, with the promise that if you still want it, you can have a dessert/snack later. About 95% of the time, my craving is gone by the time I’ve done doing whatever. Because I  just wanted to eat more. But once I get out of “eating mode,” a dessert isn’t as appealing (unless, say, you were attempting to go a whole month without one).

I do this with bowls of cereal too. Honey Bunches of Oats is especially tempting (probably because it’s a bowl of sugar). I finish one bowl and immediately want another one. But in order to practice Intuitive Eating, I take a break. If I’m still hungry in 20 minutes, I can have another bowl. If I’m not hungry in 20 minutes, I can have another bowl once I’m hungry again. Overeating often happens because we think, “This is the only chance I get to eat this! If I don’t eat all of it, right now, this second, it’ll be gone and I’ll be unsatisfied for the rest of my life!” Dramatic, yes. But tell me you haven’t acted like this around food.

So this week, I’m going to distract myself after dinner to prevent me from substituting one bad post-dinner habit (snacking) for another (eating dessert).

Do you have any tricks that you use to prevent overeating?

January Goal: Forego sweets for an entire month.

2 Jan

Like most people, I ate way too many sweets over the holidays.

And while I didn’t gain any weight (how did that happen?), I have been feeling on the verge of getting sick for a couple of weeks – which, I believe, is caused by my increased consumption of sugar. This article, among others, says that sugar can suppress your immune system.

Also, in the book The End of Overeating, David Kessler talks about our body’s response to sugar, fat and salt – our brains become wired to seek more of those things the more we consume them. I have found this to be true – the more I eat sugar, the more I crave it. The less I eat sugar, the less I crave it.

I wrote that my goal is to “Forego sweets for an entire month.” What do I consider sweets?

Sweets are anything that have a high level of sugar and provide no nutritional value, such as:

  • all candy (not including gum)
  • all cookies
  • all foods involving chocolate (I know that dark chocolate has some nutritional value, but that’s not the point here)
  • all pop (even diet)
  • all ice cream (even froyo)
  • all foods made of white flour, sugar and butter
Pretty much everything that would or could be considered dessert.

What is not included is the coffee creamer and 2 packets of sweetener I drink with my coffee every morning. It has nutritional value: keeping me sane. 😉

Unfortunately, I have already failed at this goal. I forgot that yesterday was Jan 1st, so I had 2 Godiva chocolates after dinner.  (whoops) But I won’t give up just because of that. I’ll still do it for a month (ending on Feb 2nd then instead of the 1st).

In conjunction with this goal, I signed up for the Food Journal Challenge hosted by Amanda at Run to the Finish.

I also failed at this yesterday (can I be excused because I felt sick?) but will start today. I hope that this will help me be more mindful of my food choices, so that I can respect my body as God’s temple. Today, I will Take Stock of where I am eating-wise and go from there.

How are you feeling after the holidays? Any goals for January?

Willpower – what’s that?

14 Dec

This holiday season, I’m struggling with what a lot of Americans struggle with: eating copious amounts of not-good-for-you-but-tastes-so-good food. As in, every kind of cookie imaginable, caramel popcorn, hostess cakes and delicious pies, in addition to my usual dose of chocolate and ice cream. Lucky for me, I don’t like eggnog or I’d be in serious trouble.

Typically, I don’t eat sweets everyday. I might have a single Dove chocolate after dinner, and then a bowl of ice cream once a week. But lately, the sweets intake has been at least an everyday thing – if not, a multiple times a day thing.

So I decided to do an experiment today: make it one day without eating any sweets. 

One day? That’s not so hard.

Right?

Well, I made it to 3:30. When I was told there were treats in the break room. I would have remained strong if it weren’t for my bright idea to venture into the kitchen to get my healthy snack of yogurt. The minute I stepped foot in that room, the chocolate cake pulled me in like a magnet. All my resolve, out the window.

I grabbed the last piece of cake, as well as my yogurt, and made my way back to my desk.

I took a bite of the cake – moist and chocolate-y, but honestly, not that good.

I took another bite. Still not that good. And it is my rule of thumb, if I’m eating something decadent and it doesn’t blow me away with deliciousness, I don’t eat it. If you don’t love it, don’t eat it.

So I ate my yogurt first. Then in a rare moment of willpower, I threw the chocolate cake away! Take that, devil’s food!

But then I ventured back into the kitchen to refill my water bottle. A box filled with weird-looking pastries beckoned me to try them. So I cut off a piece of some coconut covered poof ball. It was pretty good – similar to a cheese danish. Then I tried another pastry that looked like a roll covered in asiago cheese. Not good. Took one bite and threw it away (a co-worker had already tried it so it wasn’t as big of a waste as it sounds). To end on a good note, I had another little piece of the coconut danish.

One Day Without Sweets – FAIL.

I am addicted to sweets. I read in The End of Overeating that when we eat things laden with salt, fat and/or sugar, our brains form connections and program our desires to actually want more of those things. The more you eat them, the more you want them. I’m not surprised, then, that my sweets habit is hard to kick.

After the holidays, I’ll try a little harder to tone my sweet tooth down. Until then, I will enjoy worthy sweets in daily moderation and continue busting my butt in training.

Chocolate Sunday

19 Jan

After gorging ourselves silly on cookies, cakes, bars, and fudge over the Christmas holiday, Travis and I decided to limit our sweets intake to one day a week–Sunday. The first week was rough. I craved chocolate, candy, and ice cream just about every waking moment (but thankfully, I did not dream about it). The 2nd week was better. Last week was no problem. I can handle this no-sweets-until-Sunday thing.

That is, until Sunday. I tried to tell myself that just because I was allowed to eat chocolate, didn’t mean I had to.

I didn’t listen.

I blame Saturday. It got me on the wrong track. For some strange reason, I was absolutely starving on Saturday. I had eaten 1,000 calories well before noon. Finally, we got out of the house and went ice skating on a frozen lake up in Evergreen, CO. I am surprisingly a very good ice skater, considering I’ve ice skated probably 3 times in the past 4 years. Travis and I hit the hockey puck around for about an hour and then my toes had frozen so we left.

We had dinner at One World Cafe, on Charlie’s recommendation (Trav’s boss). I had a glass of Riesling on a how-in-the-world-could-it-possibly-be-empty-considering-all-the-food-you’ve-eaten-today stomach–meaning it gave me a little buzz. So after dinner, we mosied next door to Cactus Jack’s, a bar full of rough middle-aged mountain folk and a handful of no-good college students. I had 2 vodka cranberries and a basket of fries while Travis shot antelope and zebras on Big Buck Hunter. After about 30 minutes, Trav’s boss, Charlie, and his wife, Karen, showed up so we hung out with them for a while.

If you haven’t guessed, that basket of fries was totally uncalled for. And 1 glass of wine + 2 vodka cranberries is more than enough booze to get me slightly drunk (I am a total lightweight). So I woke up Sunday morning swearing off hard liquor (darn vodka!) and greasy foods.

Oh, but my delicious chocolate was conveniently exempt from those 2 categories.

After a sensible breakfast of Cherrios with a sliced banana and 1% milk (and possibly a coffee topped with about 4 inches of fat-free Cool whip), we went to church. After church, we went to Walmart, where I proceeded to buy my absolute favorite Easter candy: a Reese’s peanut butter egg. They are delicious. I decided to share the egg with Travis so that I wouldn’t feel SO guilty about eating the 180-cal egg-shaped bundle of chocolatey, peanut buttery goodness. There was one little chunk left and I was going to let Travis have it. At the same moment that I held it out to him, he grabbed the gum out of his mouth and flung it in my direction into a garbage can…

…effectively hitting my hand so that the Reese’s chunk flew up into the air and then down onto the Walmart parking lot.

I stood there making a pouty face for about 30 seconds before I deftly picked the chunk up and popped it into my mouth. Hey–I wasn’t about to let it go to waste!

Travis later told me that when he saw me do that, he realized how desperate I was for chocolate and knew that there was no hope for me.

I finished what I started by eating a minty chocolate layered bar, a chocolate-covered peanut butter ball, and 2 heaping bowls of Moose Tracks ice cream.

It was a quite a feat, I tell ya. I mean, not everyone can eat an entire day’s worth of calories in CHOCOLATE (although I’m willing to bet that any female could!)

It makes me wonder if I’m really benefitting from this whole sweets-only-on-Sundays plan or if it’s just turning me into a chocolate craving maniac? I guess we’ll find out next Sunday… 🙂