Last year I had a ton of New Year’s resolutions – 1. Lose weight, 2. Travel a lot, 3. Start my own business, 4. eat healthy, 5. exercise daily and many, many, many, many more. It’s really funny to realize now that NONE of these has happened. I tried to do all of them at some point of the year, but the truth is, I wasn’t even sure I needed or wanted these things at some point.
Now, before you give me a lecture on goal setting or send me a link to a 20-minute YouTube video on how to set goals or make vision boards, I’ve got to tell you – I have watched them all. Okay, I don’t know if all, but lots of them. And I’ve read enough books on the topic.
I know I’m not perfect, but honestly I don’t care. The problem with my goals is not that they’re not specific, measurable, or that there’s no reason why. The problem for me is that they’re set too far in the future. I mean 366 days to achieve something? That’s too long.
1st problem: If I achieve my goal in January, what am I going to do the rest of the year?
2nd problem: I have enough time, I’ll do it tomorrow (even if it’s December 15th and I still haven’t lost weight).
3rd problem: Life.
See it’s either too much time, the fear of the “next step” after achieving that goal or simply a life change that changes your perspective.
So this year, I’ll be making one New Year’s resolution: Take everything one step at a time. One day, one week, one month at a time. Not a month-worth of activities packed in one week and not everything too far ahead. I will have my goal for maximum a month, then a smaller goal for the week and then a few smaller ones for each day that lead to the “big” monthly goal.
This deadline of 30 days keeps me focused. If I have to say I won’t drink any coffee for 366 days, I can guarantee I’ll be going to the coffee shop the very next day. But if I say I won’t drink any coffee for 30 days (one of the most difficult things for me) – I might even make it to 30 days. After all I know that my chances of “winning” are bigger if I don’t have to do something for too long.
If I, on the other hand, say I won’t drink coffee for 366 days, I know deep inside that I will, at some point (probably at the 43th day) go to a coffee shop and buy a coffee. So I know I will lose that bet with myself anyway at some point. Why waste any time and not do it the next day?
For this month I really feel like I need to take care of my health and my goal will be to reset my taste buds by quitting all sugar aside from fresh fruit. I thought about going gluten-free, trying paleo and all those types of diets. But I know that the one thing I really need to do is remove simple carbs and all concentrated forms of sugar (even if it’s dried frui
t) from my diet.
People take those no-sugar-challenges pretty easy. And I do too. In fact the last few years, I have been what many people would consider sugar-free. Why? Because I didn’t eat any refined sugar.
But I ate honey, dried fruit, maple syrup, agave, coconut blossom nectar, even stevia…And here’s the thing: I did it almost every day.
Over time I just felt like even though I’m eating healthy (I am eating dried fruit and nuts after all) I don’t really feel better. And I always had this sweet taste in my mouth, even when I had just woken up. I also noticed that if I didn’t get any sugar I would get really really really annoyed.
Why do this challenge?
While honey and dried fruit might be healthier and more nutrient dense than refined sugar – the fructose inside is not really better for your health and. When it’s in moderation it really won’t matter much, but I think we’ve slowly forgotten what moderation is.
So my plan is to quit all sugar aside from fresh fruit and just reset. Learn again what moderation is.
Many people would say – fresh fruit also contains fructose. Don’t eat it at all.
Yes, fresh fruit does contain fructose. But I know myself and the chances of me eating more than one whole banana a day are very very thin. The chances of me eating 6 dates in a brownie or 3-4 Tbsp honey are much bigger.
From this challenge I expect to stop craving sugar that much and to reset my taste buds back to normal. Back to the taste buds that would taste a milk chocolate and think: “Damn, that’s so sweet, it’s actually hurting me.”
Of course I don’t just stop sugar because I don’t want to feel like a junkie or because I need to prove that the food industry is trying to kill our taste buds and us. I also do this challenge because it will help me lose 8 pounds, bring some freshness to my skin and give me more real energy.
One more reason
I write this blog and I read approximately 15 science reviews and original research articles a week on how to live a healthier life. But I must admit right now I don’t feel like I’m living a really healthy life myself. I’m sitting for 10-12 hours, I haven’t exercised in a while – not even stretching and if it wasn’t for the one green smoothie I lately have in the morning – I would probably be developing a bad scurvy right now.
You know the story of how one woman asked Gandhi to tell her son not to eat sugar? Well here’s the short version if you don’t. One week after the woman asked Gandhi for that favor, he told her son not to eat sugar and the kid stopped eating sugar. Gandhi took a week to talk to the child, because at the time the woman asked him for help he was also eating sugar. After he quit sugar, he felt he can tell the child to do the same.
I’m not Gandhi. If I have to tell a child to quit sugar, I will do so and then after all the motivation is gone probably eat a chocolate bar. Not because I’m lying, inauthentic or don’t believe sugar is bad for you. It’s because I know sugar is bad for the kid, but I guess sometimes I’m not sure if those rules apply to me.
So this month and this whole year I will be more like Gandhi. Because whether something is backed by science or not doesn’t really matter if I’m not able to do it myself. And I’ll start with his experiment. I will quit all sugar for the next 30 days.
After the holidays I’m so sick of sugar, but I know as the days and weeks go by I will probably start to crave it. So instead of thinking I can’t eat any sugar for 30 days, I will focus on this: Eating 8 servings of fruits and vegetables. If you’re wondering why 8, read here.
I will break those down to 4 servings of vegetables (all colors) and 4 servings of fresh fruit. With the fresh fruit I will make sure to have a maximum of 2 servings of fruits that are very sweet like mango, banana, pine-apple and 2 or more of those that are not that sweet like berries and lemons.
In general I will also be focusing on eating more other plants like nuts & seeds, whole grains and legumes.
The thing about sugar is that it’s everywhere. salami, yogurt, dressings, sauces, bread…everything that’s been processed has sugar. I don’t really eat many processed foods, but many Asian foods I love and use also contain some form of sugar. So I’ll stay away from them as well. Instead I’ll try making them myself.
When: January 11th – February 10th
- 8 servings of fruits and vegetables
- more plants like nuts, seeds, some whole grains and legumes
- a food journal.
- refined sugar
- dried fruit, honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar, coconut blossom sugar, stevia or artificial sweeteners
- processed foods
- bread & sauces I haven’t made myself
I know there are many diet challenges right now. I get about 10 emails a day on those. And they’re all great, but I think it’s important for everyone to make these challenges their own. To tailor that challenge to their needs. Whether you join me on this challenge or do another one, make sure to do everything in a way that’s best for you.
Also this month expect many sugar-free recipes. There will even be some desserts with only fresh fruit as the sweetener and they’re delicious!
See you tomorrow with a delicious green smoothie recipe.