Since the new year Mike and I have been discussing a “detox” of sorts. Just like when we did P90X, we really wanted to clean up our diets to help increase our performance and help us feel better overall. We do generally eat healthy, but we also have a few vices. For me, it’s sugar, and for Mike it’s coffee (ok me too but sugar is harder). While we’re at it, we also want to cut back on alcohol since we do find ourselves drinking a few days a week without any reason other than to “unwind” or be social.
Mike started a new round of P90X (his blog post on it here) on Tuesday and that is why we decided to start our detox this week. We both felt and performed great while eating more clean on the P90X diet in 2011 (we did eat a lot of meat and dairy though so that will be a difference this time). In fact, Mike’s standing half marathon PR is from the La Jolla half in 2011 when we were just about to finish P90X.
The detox Mike and I put together has nothing to do with weight loss and everything to do with overall health. I’m hoping to finally kick my cancer-creating sugar addiction, sleep better without disruptive caffeine and not put unnecessary stress on my body with alcohol. We don’t plan to give all these things up indefinitely, but I do want to give my body a refresher so I know it’s working it’s best on April 28 at Eugene.
I did a little research to help validate why I’m giving these delicious and fun treats up for the time being. Reading more about exactly how sugar, alcohol and caffeine affect our bodies validated my decision. Despite all this, I do think that in moderation we can still have all of these things and be ok! You only life once right?
Lately I’ve been reading a lot about sugar addictions and how giving up sugar is harder to give up than cocaine (assuming you’re addicted to cocaine that is). I can definitely say I’m addicted to sugar, as any of my friends can tell you and as many of you may even know just by reading this blog. For example, I consider this year a win because Mike and I “only” purchased and consumed 4 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, compared to last year’s 11 boxes (evidence documented in my post about my sugar addiction here). I know that I exercise enough to burn off all the calories I’m consuming but it doesn’t mean that it’s ok to eat so much of it. Melissa Costello, one of my favorite vegan chefs, wrote a good blog post about the “Sugar Monster” and what you can do to get yourself off of this powerfully addicting substance.
Some ill effects of eating too much added sugar? Besides obesity and diabetes, cancer also needs ample sugar to survive and grow. Excess sugar also causes wrinkles by causing inflammation in the skin. (Caveat: Sugar IS necessary for the body to survive but you can get enough of these essential sugars from fruits, vegetables, and other low GI carbohydrates. I’m definitely not saying anyone should avoid ALL sugar. I also think it’s ok to have a sugary treat on occasion).
Caffeine is one of those topics that is highly debatable. Some say it’s good for you, some say its bad. No one has every really said it’s THAT bad, but what IS bad, is what I put in in my daily (or twice daily) cup of Joe. Every morning at work I pour sugary (and not vegan although it is IS non-dairy) creamer into my coffee with flavor descriptions such as “Cold Stone Sweet Cream.” Not healthy. Not natural. Not good. On top of that, I know that caffeine disrupts my sleep, stains my teeth and causes me to make more bathroom trips throughout the day (and I already go enough!).
Studies have found that caffeine can increase blood pressure. Caffeine is also highly acidic which can cause problems with digestion. Studies have also linked it to osteoporosis.
Despite that study that said drinking one glass of red wine a day for women prevents cancer, I’m pretty sure I don’t have to convince you that alcohol isn’t good for you. I’m not saying it’s not fun and probably fine in moderation, but taking a little break from it every once in a while won’t hurt either! I recently read an article in my Women’s Health Magazine about alcohol consumption’s affect on women and it wasn’t pretty!
During a quick Google search to find the article I read in the hard copy, I found another article by WHM explaining how alcohol affects your workouts. Alcohol can increase recovery time from hard workouts, encourages your body to store fat, disrupts your sleep, and reduces your stomach’s ability to absorb nutrients.
The Detox Details
Here’s are the “rules”:
- Alcohol: Only special occasions (i.e. Mike’s birthday) until April 28.
- Dessert/Added Sugar: 1 month cold turkey; then 1 dessert/week at least until April 28 (luckily the Hot Chocolate 15k falls after this 1 month period!)
- Coffee: None except race days and Mike’s Birthday at least until April 28
- Follow a whole-foods, plant based diet.
- What I’m NOT giving up: Carbs and fruit (just trying to focus on the good carbs)
In general, I do eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet so that part won’t be too difficult. Although I do admit lately I have been more lax on this side. I haven’t necessarily been eating meat but I’ve been making more exceptions with dairy.
What I Am Actually Eating
Here’s how Day 2 on the plan went:
- Breakfast – oatmeal with cinnamon and almond milk and half a banana (cut out the brown sugar we used to put on it).
- Morning Snack: 1 oz almonds (no more 1-2 cups of coffee with plenty of creamer!).
- Lunch: Spinach salad with avocado, almonds, mandarin oranges and veggies with homemade lentil veggie soup. Orange for dessert (instead of chocolate from the office candy bowl, a Luna Bar or cake for someone’s birthday!).
- Afternoon Snacks: 1 banana with peanut butter; steamed kale with lemon and s&p.
- Dinner: Homemade quinoa veggie enchiladas (skipped the usual almond milk/cocounut milk icecream, chocolate, vegan cookie, etc)!
Since I’m not focused on weight loss, I’ve been curbing cravings by trying to eat more at each meal so that I’m not left with that sugar craving directly afterward. So far, so good!
I suffered from headaches the first and second days due to caffeine withdrawals but those were expected. The real challenge is going to be this weekend – usually weekends involve alcohol, extra coffee and sweets so it will be difficult to avoid all of these things all weekend. Luckily, I have Mike with me so it will make it easier!