Something about the onset of summer kicks my butt into healthy overdrive. The brightly colored produce popping up in the markets makes me rethink my eating habits, the arrival of tank top weather makes me hyper-aware of my less-than-toned upper arms, and the sunshiny evenings leave me without an excuse to spend my weeknights curled up cozily on the couch. So here I am, squirming uncomfortably in my too-tight skinny jeans, bound and determined to shape up. I’ve activated my subscription to Barre3’s library of online videos, I’m logging more miles than usual on the old running shoes, and, Lord help me, I’m cutting back on my most favorite food group: sugar. Oooooh, how it pains me to put that last one on the list. Because I don’t just have a sweet tooth, I have sweet teeth. I crave it all – cookies, chocolate, ice cream, pastries, candy, sugar, sugar, SUGAR…I’m strung out, folks. So like an addict truly committed to recovery, I told myself last week that I was going to cut it all out. No mas. Cold turkey. That resolution ended up lasting all of eight minutes, because first, who am I kidding? And second, do I really want to live a life riddled with so much self-denial? I’ve adjusted my goals a bit and have settled on a couple of rules that feel achievable.
1) Quality over quantity*. Cut out the high fructose corn syrup and the nutritionally empty sugar fixes. I dug through our snack cupboard and threw away a box of Red Vines and a bag of Skittles yesterday. It felt like such a shame to waste all those beautiful flavors of the rainbow, but if I’m going to stick with this, it had to be done.
*Birthdays, anniversaries, and major U.S. holidays may be occasions for both quality and quantity.
2) Fruit first. If I’m craving something sweet, I eat an apple or a handful of berries. If that doesn’t cut it, by all means, I can indulge in a good piece of chocolate or a scoop of ice cream, guilt-free.
I’m one week into this little experiment and feeling pretty good – those first couple of days of detox were pretty rough (picture me rummaging through my desk drawer during my usual post-lunch sweets craving, praying that there was a stray Starburst or an old Snickers bar tucked away in the recesses of my cabinet), but my cravings are gradually lessening and I’m hoping my energy levels will increase as I stick with this. Besides, who needs all the flavors of the Skittles rainbow when red comes in so many juicy hues?