I recently read a book about dieting for my Copyediting class. I usually don’t read diet books, but it was for an assignment called “read something outside my usual genre.” Normally I read fantasy, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, romance, and YA novels. I like the escape factor of these books. They allow me to get away from the stresses of the world for a while and tap into my imagination. So I decided to as far away from that idea as possible and pick a book that would ground me in the real world and make me think about something many people struggle with: weight loss. Though, to be fair, the book I eventually did choose—I’ll Have What She’s Having: My Adventures In Celebrity Dieting by Rebecca Harrington—seemed to be more of a humorous book rather than a serious one.
It was an interesting book—huge spaces between the paragraphs and unnatural apostrophes in the header aside (thank you, publishing classes, for making me never be able to read a book again without random noticing the flaws)—one that detailed how Rebecca tried different celebrity diets. And celebrities… they eat weird things when dieting. (Think a piece of steak on top of peanut butter on top of bread. Or cooked and mashed carrots with seeds that you supposedly roll into balls to eat. Or nothing but spicy water for three days.) But it was an interesting read.
So when my mom and sister tried this new 21 Day Transformation Challenge that’s supposed to make you see how much sugar you’re eating and then wean you off it, I decided to give it a whirl. (Mind you, I figured I’d try it while I was eating a cookie. Not the best time to make decisions.)
The first week was horrible. Yes. Horrible. Okay, maybe it wasn’t so bad for other people and I fully realize now how much I depend on sugar to make me the energetic creature I am today, but I went a whole week without sugar. Not even natural sugar. So no cow’s milk, no honey, no bread (did I mention we couldn’t have grains, either?), absolutely no cookies, and, to my horror, no fruit. That’s right, folks, no fruit. No Fruit.
This was the Atkins diet all over again. (Of which I failed after Day One.)
To be fair, dinner wasn’t that difficult. I normally have some combination of meat and veggies (or just vegetables) for dinner. I couldn’t have a side of rice or cuscus, but I could live with that for a week. Lunch wasn’t that bad, either, since I could have tuna or frozen vegetables. I could deal with that, too.
But breakfast? Breakfast was horrible.
I usually have fruit in the morning. I ALWAYS have fruit in the morning. It’s just an easy way to eat breakfast—smoothies, frozen, thawed, fresh—I eat fruit for breakfast all the time. I also always have a piece of fruit sometime throughout the day. (Thank you, Mom, for instilling that in me and then subsequently taking it away when suggesting this “challenge”. I kid!) So to not have fruit was horrible. Plus, I couldn’t have my usual tea in the morning either—black tea with milk and honey—so breakfast was a sad, stressful occasion. (Stressful mainly because it’s almost finals season here in grad school land.)
I got grumpy. No joke, actually grumpy. I’d like to think I hid it well from people, but when anyone asked that would be my first response, “Grumpy.” (So maybe I didn’t hide it well enough.)
I did it.
I’m not entirely sure it worked, because the whole week I wanted a cookie, and now, even with fruit, I still want a cookie. But I’m significantly happier with fruit in my diet. I even have more energy. (Like I could complete my 30+ minute high-intensity Zumba routine easily when, without fruit, it made me tired halfway through.)
So, what did I learn? Well, I don’t exactly need to eat cookies. I also found out that sugar is in everything, seriously everything, even things I didn’t expect. (I’m looking at you, “natural black beans in water”.)
Overall, I think the rest of the challenge will be a bit easier now that fruit is back in my life.
If you want to try to not eat sugar or grains for a while and look at food labels with a horrified expression when you find out just how much sugar there is in everything we eat, check out the 21 Day Transformation Challenge. (Seriously, though, the WOW workouts are amazing, and I have to admit, the advice they give is pretty good.)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to eat a strawberry.