The Back Story (aka “What I Never Wanted You To Know”)
Several months ago a Facebook post caught my eye about a sugar detox. I brushed past it thinking “Oh gosh, that sounds horrible” and continued along my merry way… and by merry, I mean a not-so-merry, horribly destructive food path. Only the people in my very inner circle knew how bad my eating habits actually were, and even they didn’t know the extent of it as I hid it from everyone, sometimes even my husband.
My whole life I’ve been drawn to junk food, going from one snack to the next… An entire bag of hot cheetos? Oh yes! Follow it up with a pretzel with nacho cheese? Bring it on! What should I wash it down with? A coke? How about two! That may sound dramatic but that’s just a tiny glimpse into the way I have always eaten.
Once I had a baby, things got so much worse. My husband left on a trip for 5 weeks leaving me with a newborn and so my sleep-deprived, unmotivated, sugar-bound self would literally eat two meals of fast food EVERY. Single. Day. Wow. I never thought I would admit that to myself or anyone else, but there it is. Fast food was convenient, always sounded tasty, and was an easy excuse for me to get out of the house for a quick drive with a newborn. But the more I ate it, the more I craved it. It consumed me. I was drinking 3 to 4 cokes per day and dragging my sluggish body from point A to point B, thinking well I guess I better get some more caffeine.
All this to say, I hit ROCK BOTTOM. After a baby, my body was not “bouncing back” like I thought it would and I was stuck at 3 months post-partum looking the same as I did at 20 weeks pregnant. I hid the weight under baggy shirts and maternity tops and smiled as people told me how “great” I looked, but secretly I cringed when my husband hugged my waistline, and I cried looking at my closet full of clothes I’d surely never wear again.
I’ve always said to myself that I would never let my kids eat this way, but recently had started to worry… because how could I teach them to eat well when I didn’t even know how to myself? I had to do something drastic; something harsh, completely 180 degrees, a cold-turkey stop to my food life as I knew it. And then I remembered the book cover I had seen floating around Facebook, The 21-Day Sugar Detox. I started reading reviews, messaging friends who had done it, and scouring the web for info and resources. It was my answer! I roped in my best friend Tori (my husband also participated when he wasn’t flying) and we jumped in head first. I thought “I can do anything for just 21 days right?!” Our meal plan followed a strict Paleo diet, in addition to no sugar, gluten, or wheat. We also decided to pair our food challenge with at least 20 minutes of exercise per day.
Week 1: Let’s Do This
Tori and I prepped for the first week by doing super detailed meal planning and grocery lists. We went to Whole Foods to stock our “new” pantry, and must’ve looked like toddlers lost at an amusement park… “Excuse me Mr. Whole Foods Employee, where can I find coconut aminos and what the heck are they?” For anyone watching us, it was probably quite entertaining. At home I dove into the book of recipes and started prepping my meals, knowing that cooking from scratch for every meal with a 3-month old would be near impossible.
Over the course of the first week, I was honestly SHOCKED at how good the food was and how little time went into preparing it once grocery shopping was out of the way. I’ve never been a cook or enjoyed cooking in the slightest, but these meals were SO tasty that I started to get excited about making them. Each night we were blown away as the meals kept getting better and better. I usually hate leftovers but found myself looking forward to lunchtime just so I could eat some more of what we had for dinner the night before. And overall I saved way more time by cooking at home than if I had loaded up the baby to go drive through somewhere. All of my stereotypes about clean eating (takes too much time, costs too much, doesn’t taste good, etc) were completely blown away during just week one.
On the fitness front, I found that with a baby, a traveling husband, and working from home, the only possible time to squeeze in my workout was 9pm after the baby went to sleep. I had bought Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred and committed myself to doing it every night as the workouts were only 20 minutes long. All I can say is whoa… She kicked my booty!
Week 2: I’m Hangry
As the shiny newness and excitement of the first week wore off, the detox started to really become a challenge. Week two was rough! My cravings were coming at me in full swing, and I found myself wanting to eat things that I normally didn’t even crave. I powered through though and didn’t even cheat once, even though I thought about it many times a day. I baked every single “non-sweet treat” in the detox book and finally found a way to beat my sweet cravings with the Apple Crumble (cue the angels singing!). I started scouring Pinterest to find new recipes so that I wouldn’t get bored of my limited food options.
I continued working out, missing a day or two, but still getting my workout done at least 5 times a week, and I started already noticing a difference! I couldn’t remember the last time I could feel my abs under a layer of baby belly or after-baby-squish, but there they were making a comeback!! Seeing results in the mirror was all the motivation I needed to power on.
Week 3: Finishing Strong
The third week is when things really started to change for me. My new way of eating was quickly becoming a habit and I could easily drive past any fast food joint without needing to “just get a quick snack”. In fact, I noticed myself not even wanting or needing to snack much at all. My taste buds had also completely started to change and a handful of carrots, a green apple, or a lemon now tasted sweet. What?! Even coffee was no longer bitter to me. I was blown away. It sounds crazy. It IS crazy!
More than anything, my energy levels were THROUGH THE ROOF! I have never in my life felt energy like that surging through my body, and it felt amazing. It was as if my body was thanking me for finally giving it the fuel it needed to run on :) I found myself looking forward to going to the grocery store (also a lifetime first for me) and going around just reading food labels, which the book also taught me how to do. I was so surprised while reading labels by just how much crap I used to put into my body – even things that I thought were healthy for me.
My Results & Final Thoughts
I went into this thinking that maybe I’d learn a few new recipes and learn how to cut back on my sugar, but what I ended up coming out with was a whole new way of life. I’m not joking when I say that my life has been totally changed by these 21 days. The way I look at food is completely different. It’s so exciting! I feel confident that I can give my family the healthy meals they need and give my own body the nutrition it deserves. It’s very empowering!
Although, I don’t plan to continue eating quite as strictly as the detox required, going forward I do intend to continue eating sugar-free and gluten-free in every way that I can. I feel too good to go back to how I was eating before! My sugar stronghold has been broken and I plan to keep it that way :)
And while the main goal of this detox was to change my food habits, I did see some INCREDIBLE weight and fitness results as well. In just 3 weeks, I lost 4 inches off my waist, 1.5 inches off my hips, and 6lbs!!! Tori had amazing results too losing 5 inches off her hips – Whoa! Dedication and hard work totally pay off.
In case I haven’t made my point yet, I think everyone should do this detox. It’s just 21 days! And you never know, it might just change your whole life.