A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about stepping away from my scale for a little while to work on disconnecting my self worth from my weight. That’s been going well — admittedly, I have gotten on the scale a couple of times — but it’s been nice to not be so weight-obsessed and pay more attention to how my body feels instead. Unfortunately, since our daughter started daycare back in August, we’ve been trapped in a seemingly endless string of viruses (both colds and stomach bugs), so feeling great hasn’t really been possible as of late (PLEASE get it together soon, immune system). About a week and a half ago, after my THIRD stomach flu in three months (SERIOUSLY, immune system, I need you), I decided I need to get serious about doing more to help my body fight illness and for general wellness, especially since I’ll be training for races for the next several months. I’ve started taking additional vitamins, and we’ve been doing more healthy meal-prepping/planning, but if I had to point a finger at the biggest problem with my diet, it’s sugar.
Anyone who knows me knows that I can put away sugary treats like candy and donuts like no other. We (and by we, I mean I) take candy very seriously in our house. We even have a Common Law Candy Rule in place – any candy purchased by and/or belonging to an individual becomes fair game to all other members of the household after a period of two weeks. I like to pretend that running and triathlon training cancels out some of my rampant sugar intake, but I have no idea if it actually does, and it’s always at the back of my mind that maybe (probably…) I’d feel/perform better if I wasn’t loaded up on sugar 90% of the time. Basically, I really need to stop eating like I’m an unattended child at a birthday party (a very apt analogy borrowed from my friend, Allie).
There’s evidence that too much sugar can have harmful effects on your liver and kidneys, slow your metabolism, contribute to inflammation, and increase the risk of certain diseases like diabetes and heart disease (see articles on health effects here and here). That’s scary stuff! Long story short, I think it’s time to hit the reset button on my sugar intake and go cold(ish) turkey for a month. I know what you’re thinking — challenges like this are a dime a dozen in the blogging/You-Tubing world these days, but hey, I like to try things for myself and writing about it is good for accountability. We’ve done a couple of challenges like this in the past that have really helped us incorporate healthier habits in the long-term (we went vegan for 24 days, and completed an Advocare 24 Day Challenge). I’m also hoping to make good use of the Commit 30 planner I got for Christmas by trying something new (and good for me) each month!
So, let’s establish some ground rules:
- The “No” Sugar Challenge runs from February 1 – February 29 (OK, so technically it’s a 29 day challenge…).
- In the interest of not driving myself crazy, I will not be scouring labels to avoid all added sugar. Rather, I must stay below the 25 g of daily sugar intake from added sugars that is recommended for women by the American Heart Association (hence the quotation marks around No in rule #1). The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends less than 5-10% of your daily calorie intake be from added sugars, which is ~25-50 g for a 2000 calorie diet, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says less than 10%. Note that this does not include naturally occurring sugars in foods such as fruits, but does include fruit juices, honey, and syrups.
- No sugary treats (e.g., candy, donuts, ice cream) or sugar-filled foods at meals (e.g., sugary cereal), even if they fit within the daily 25 g of added sugar rule above.
- An exception will be made for Mardi Gras on February 25, because paczkis are life.
I’ll be posting updates on social media throughout this challenge, so you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram if you’re interested. I’ll also be checking in with blog posts at the halfway point and at the conclusion. In the meantime, I’m going to go enjoy my last three days of being able to eat candy until March! 😭
Meagan is a geochemistry research lab manager, runner, Netflix binge-watcher, and Mom to a rescue dog, a bunny, and a human child. She started running in May 2011 and ran her first half marathon in October 2012, followed by her first marathon in October 2013. In July 2018, she joined the triathlon world and completed an Olympic-distance race. After an extended break (pregnancy/maternity leave), she is making a long-overdue return to running and is preparing for a high-elevation half marathon at Crater Lake National Park in August 2020.