No Sugar, No Flour- Day 30

nosugarnoflour

(Please note that this is an account of a personal experience and not an endorsement or recommendation of any sort. This should not be mistaken for health care advice. And I urge everyone reading this to consult their physician or registered dietitian for nutritional advice because I am neither.)

Many in my self-love challenge community know that this year my self-love practice is focused on my physical health. I want to be healthier in general and lose a considerable amount of weight in particular.

In January and February, I focused on being more active and going to the gym.

While I knew I needed to radically change the food I put in my mouth, to some degree I felt really stuck and overwhelmed. I would make a commitment to myself to eat better and then it seemed as if my self-control would betray me almost without fail.

And I would feel really awful afterwards. And every day was a struggle– knowing I should do better, but not knowing how to make it happen.

Then I heard a neuro-psychologist talk about the addictive properties of certain foods, namely flour and sugar and the way they affect the brain. She argues that certain people are more susceptible to the addictive nature of these foods than others.

And the solution to this is total abstinence from flour and sugar.

For those in the back, I’ll say it again: She advised a lifestyle change in which people don’t eat any foods that contain processed refined sugar or flour of any kind because it’s the flour and the sugar that addict people and trick the brain into thinking that you need more and more. Some experts have even gone so far as to label sugar and flour to be drugs, or even worse, toxic poisons.

This completely changed the way I thought about food.

Now it’s not like I thought pop-tarts, cakes, cookies, brownies, pancakes, or doughnuts were good for me. I mean, I wasn’t delusional.

But I didn’t quite know how eating those types of sugary, doughy “foods” leave my brain craving more and more until I felt powerless to control the cravings.

In other words, the more of those things I ate, the more I craved those things.

The solution it seemed was to completely eliminate all of those things from my diet.

Now, I cannot express to you just what a big deal this decision was for me. I mean, virtually ALL of my favorite foods had flour or sugar in them– preferably both. And it took me a couple of days to process this information. But I eventually knew I had to at least try it.

The first thing I did was make a list of all foods I wouldn’t be able to eat, if I were to adopt this lifestyle. Including all the foods I listed above, I’d also have to eliminate- cornbread, crackers, noodles, sweet potato pie, bread of any kind, syrup of any kind, honey, virtually any kind of box cereal, any kind of boxed food in the grocery store, many salad dressings and many many more things. So really quickly, I knew that I would be cooking almost every meal I put in my mouth.  Manufacturers put sugar or some type of “syrup” in dang near everything.

The second thing I did was start to compile interesting recipes that did not include flour or sugar, so that I didn’t wind up eating the same thing over and over. (If you follow me on Pinterest, sorry for the recent overload of butternut squash recipes.)

What I Ate

Since March 1, 2016,  I have not had any flour or refined sugar.

I found a no flour, no sugar food plan that dictated 3-4 meals a day with no snacking in between, broken down as follows:

Breakfast: one serving of grain/or starchy vegetable, one serving of fruit, one serving of dairy, and one serving of meat or protein

Lunch: one serving of protein/or meat, one cup cooked veggies, one cup fresh veggies

Dinner: one serving of protein/or meat, one cup cooked veggies, one cup fresh veggies and one serving of a grain/or starchy vegetable

Snack (optional): one serving of dairy or meat/protein with with one serving of fruit

So here’s what my food has looked like for the past 30 days:

My usual breakfast is one cup of skim milk, 1/2 cup plain oatmeal (not the sugary instant kind), 1/2 tbsp of peanut butter, a banana, and a few chopped walnuts. But sometimes, I’ll have scrambled eggs and potatoes with yogurt and a piece of fruit.

nfns-breakfast

Honestly, the first day that I had this breakfast I really missed the sugary oatmeal, so I was not in love with it. But funny enough as the weeks have gone by, my bowl of oatmeal is my favorite meal of the day.

On days that I have a lot of writing to get done I will have a cup of coffee right after breakfast or lunch as well. Since I can no longer have sugar and limit my dairy to 1-2 servings a day, I lighten my coffee with a bit of coconut milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It gives the coffee a creamy texture, and a nutty flavor and it is very very good.

Four hours after breakfast, I have my lunch.

nfns-lunch2
Lunch example–One cup cooked string beans, One cup fresh mixed veggies, 4 oz of roasted salmon

Honestly, I’m still getting used to a meal with no starch or grain. This is my least favorite meal of the day because of that.

I have dinner five hours after lunch and one some days I REALLY feel the absence of a grain/starch.

nfns-dinner
Dinner Example–One cup of steamed cabbage and carrots, one cup of roasted winter veggies, one cup of fresh kale and red onion, and 4oz of tilapia

Dinner is usually very filling and satisfying.

Four hours after dinner, I usually have a snack because I don’t like to go to bed with an empty stomach and depending on when I had dinner on some days, it has been as much as 6 or 7 hours.

nfns-snack
Half a cup of cottage cheese and half a cup of unsweetened apple sauce

The Result

Getting though the first 7 days was very difficult. I’m not even gonna lie. It took a whole lot of effort to eat on a particular schedule and to plan out my meals  in advance simply because I wasn’t used to eat. Further I was not at all used to not snacking between meals.  But by day 3, this part got easier. I just fell into a routine.

By about day 4, I started to have really intense cravings for certain sugary and doughy foods. It was kind of ridiculous, honestly. And I had a headache for like 48 hours straight. I was irritable and began to notice how advertisements for these foods were EVERYWHERE.

But…

Almost immediately after cutting out the sugar and flour, my body started to feel better. I was able to move more. I woke up each day feeling a bit lighter. Honestly. I didn’t realize just how bloated I had been.

By day 14, I had noticeably more energy.

My vegetable variety has increased a great deal. In the past 30 days, I’ve had avocado, cabbage, carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach, kale, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, red peppers, yellow peppers, habenero peppers,  string beans, squash, white potatoes, cucumbers, red beans, and romaine lettuce. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten that many different vegetables in such a short period before. I don’t know why, but that felt like a big accomplishment. LOL.

And I lost 10 pounds.

So I’m planning to continue. I’m going to take it one day at a time and continue to monitor how I feel. I’m hopeful.

I’ll keep you updated!

Self-Care is Self-Love in Action

self-care

I want you to think of everyone that you have ever really loved. I mean everyone. Romantic relationships, family members, friends. Even pets, if you like. Everyone.

How did you show them that you loved them?

You probably showed them that you loved them, both in big and little gestures– gifts, sweet words and pet names, doing things for them, being protective, providing for them in ways they can’t provide from themselves, etc.  This is the price of love and when we love someone we usually love to be able to do these special things for them.

Caring for our loved ones is how we nurture our relationships. It’s a privilege.  This is how we show our beloveds and the world that they are special to us.

But for some reason, we find it hard to do these loving gestures for ourselves.

We claim that we love ourselves, but:

  • We talk badly to ourselves.
  • We refuse to do the things we need to do to make our lives run smoothly.
  • We neglect ourselves.
  • We allow other people to treat us shabbily.
  • We give up on our hopes and dreams when they seem to difficult instead of seeking our help and support.

And more to the point, if someone treated someone that we loved the way we treated ourselves, we would probably tell our loved one to  distance themselves from that harmful person.

All of us in the self-love challenge community have made a commitment to loving ourselves more and that means we have to

  • stop neglecting ourselves
  • stop  putting everyone before us
  • finally start tending to the important parts of our lives that no one can do for us

This is the basis of self-care.

And the great thing about it is, self-care feeds on itself. Like compound interest. The more you care for yourself, the more you feel loved and want to care for yourself.

So here’s my question for you: How do you take care of yourself? How do you nourish all the important components of your life?

In the comments below, I’d like to hear what your self-care plan is.

Do You Know Who You Are (Really)?

Be True To Yourself

Could you love someone that you didn’t know?

My guess is that you probably could push yourself to do so. But it would be a struggle.

So since we’re creating a movement of women who are committed to loving ourselves, we must also be dedicated to knowing ourselves better. Completely. Because knowing yourself allows you to accept and love yourself.

So who are you?

No, really. Who are you?

I got some questions for you:

  • What are you into?
  • What’s your “thing”?
  • What do you believe in?
  • What’s important to you?
  • What’s not important to you?
  • When it comes down to it, what do you want your life to stand for?
  • If you knew you had 6 months to live, how would you spend your last days on earth?

Knowing who you are and what you value helps you to weed out and filter through all the “stuff” that comes your way on a daily basis.

And most importantly, knowing yourself and your values stops you from judging yourself based on the opinions of other people. It frees your mind.

For example, I know that I value freedom, simple living, fairness, and knowledge. These values guide my decision making. So when well meaning people, for example, suggest things that they think will be of use to me, if these suggestions are not in line with my values, I simply don’t do them. Plain and simple. They are not for me.  And when other people don’t live according to my values, I’m OK with that, too. They have their own life to live, just as I do.

I determine my worth. No one else gets this privilege. And the same goes for you. You determine your worth. Other people’s opinions belong to them, not you.

Listen, we each only get one life and we need to make sure that we honor it by being true to ourselves and not living the life that other people think you should live.

So here’s what I want you to do. Right now I want you to think about the three things that are most important to you. And in the comments section below, I’d like you to share your top three values with us.

Til next time.

And if you haven’t already done so, be sure to sign up for the 7-Day Self-Love Challenge here.

Clear Out Your Inner Junk Drawer

Let it go(1)

Do you have a junk drawer?

A lot of people do.

It’s the place in the home where you can put any and everything that doesn’t seem to really have a place of its own. Things like extra condiment packets, old batteries, tape, pencils, scissors, take out menus, tools, etc.

And because the junk drawer is so great at storing things, you can kind of forget all the stuff that’s in there. And the irony is when you actually need something that’s in it, you can’t find it. Years can go by without clearing it out and before you know it, you have all this useless little stuff that you never use, just taking up space in your home and being an eyesore.

junkdrawer

But do you also notice that sometimes, we behave like we are junk drawers?

We hold onto useless baggage from the past that other people left in our lives just for the sake of holding onto it. And all this useless stuff weighs on our emotions, self-worth, and relationships.

Here are some examples:

  • An ex-lover was unfaithful and treated you badly which made you feel unworthy, so now you hold on to that “junk belief” just because a temporary person came and dropped it in your mind.
  • You got fired or let go from a job, so now you hold onto the “junk belief” that you are disposable and have little value.
  • You made a mistake for which you were embarrassed and now you carry around a great deal of shame around this mistake, even many years later.

But you are not a junk drawer.

And you simply have to let all this stuff go. Stop holding onto old useless resentments, shame, heartaches,etc. Let it go! Forgive people. Forgive yourself. Try things again. Try new things. Live in the present. Because life is happening now.

Junk is stagnant and still, but life is always moving, growing, developing, and changing. Since you are alive, you must do these things too.

Because the more you hold onto all that junk, the more it weighs you down and gets in the way of living. You will remain stuck and stagnant too.

The more you hold onto these useless unnecessary junk, the less free you are.

And I don’t know about you, but I want to be free!

So here’s what I want you to do right now:

In the comments section below, please tell me what junk beliefs have been hanging out in your mental junk drawer for far too long that you are finally deciding to let go of.

Can’t wait to read them.

Til next time,
Jennifer

Self-Love Begins with A “Gifts and Gratitude” Mindset

Gifts and Gratitude

Do you spend a lot of time thinking about how you wish your life was better?

The truth is that most people do.

They think that people have it so much better than they do.

I know I can personally attest to this. Many years ago, I closed my Facebook account and shut the world out because I was so consumed with looking at other people’s lives and comparing myself to them. I saw so many people I grew up with were getting married, having beautiful children, and looking glamorous, but I wasn’t. I wanted all of those things in my life too, but they weren’t happening for me. The end result was that I felt really bad about myself. I felt like there must be something wrong with me. After many years feeling like crap every time I logged in, I decided the best decision was for me to completely walk away.

And it was years before I felt good enough about myself to log back on.

So what happened in the interim years?

I developed a Four Part Self-Love Practice that I will be sharing with you in the next few blog posts.

The first part of this practice was with shifting my focus towards a “Gifts and Gratitude” mindset.

This is the room where I do most of my gratitude journaling.
This is the room where I do most of my gratitude journaling.

Here’s what I learned:

A BIG reason for why I felt so bad before was because I was so caught up in what I thought my life SHOULD be, that I couldn’t see and appreciate my life for what it actually was. And I spent so much mental energy in the gap between what I had and what I thought I should have that I was miserable.

But in hindsight, I know that at least 2 things are true that I hadn’t realized before:

  1. EVERYBODY has their own particular challenges, so just because things look so great on the outside doesn’t mean everything is perfect on the inside.
  2. There is always someone looking at your situation right now and feeling envious about something in your life.

These 2 things let me know that instead of getting stuck in a never-ending cycle of feeling sorry for myself and drowning in comparison, I needed to shift my focus to identifying the talents, gifts, strengths that I do have and showing my gratitude for them regularly.

Because, here’s the thing: if I am always focused on what I don’t have, I never get to appreciate all the wonderful things that I do have. And not appreciating my gifts is a surefire recipe for feeling bad about myself.

So here’s what I want you to do right now:

I want you to publicly name your gifts and talents. In the comment section three things about yourself that you are grateful for right now in this very moment.

We need to start a movement of beautiful women who are proud of their strengths and talents and not focused on what they do not have.

This is where self-love begins.