Reflections on the ‘cleanse’ and more reasons to stay away from most sugars

Well, I made it through the past 10 days and amazingly, this was not as difficult as I had anticipated. Honestly I was a little nervous before I started, as I had re-developed the mid-morning and sometimes early afternoon coffee habit over the past 6 months….and I was worried that I would be falling asleep mid-sentence! I also love to savor a glass(or 2) of full-bodied red wine in the evening, as a way to separate the busy-ness of my work day from the relaxation that I like to enjoy when work is over. And all too often  I found myself sneaking in a few potato or corn chips or occasional bites of chocolate, without paying too much attention to how all of these things added up over the day. The bottomline was that I found myself reaching for the cup of coffee or the quick snack to rebuild my energy when it dipped so going without seemed a bit daunting.

So here it is 10 days later and this is what I noticed during that time:

1. I slept better than I had in years. BHRT(bio-identical hormones) have clearly improved my ability to sleep(no night sweats, more REM sleep, ease of falling and staying asleep) but by developing some of my previously mentioned habits, I was often tossing and turning in the middle of the night, unable to find that rest again. Not so these past 10 days: my sleep was deep and wonderful and I woke each morning feeling refreshed.  And for those of you who have sleep issues, you know how priceless a good night’s sleep is!

2. My head was clearer, memory sharper and I found it easier to do tasks that I might usually keep avoiding.

3. My energy level was terrific. I found that could swim and walk faster and my workouts gave me more energy back.

4. I lost almost an inch around my waist(that darned belly fat…even though I am relatively lean, I still struggle with that…and that is not the good kind of fat to have: it is directly correlated with a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer; Belly fat begone!), shed about 3 pounds  and my clothes fit better. And I felt full and satisfied after eating and I didn’t crave sugar or caffeine….astounding.

5. I had fun trying new recipes and teas…and I didn’t mind the 5 evenings when I was around family and friends who were having wine , beer and cocktails…it was actually very pleasant, not an issue at all.

Some healthy and delicious food choices, packed with powerful nutrients

So now I am on day 11 and actually have decided to continue for a few days longer. A few of my friends asked me last evening if I picked 10 days for any particular reason. My reasoning for that is I don’t think a week is long enough , 2 weeks sounds too long to many people, and  you can make it work so that you are only on it for one weekend. I also think you get to see more results if you make it the full 10 days. Again, this is just something I made up for myself to help me make a few small changes and gain a feeling of empowerment.  But I have heard quite a bit of positive feedback from the women who joined me(there are also 3 men…I would love to hear how they did as well!). Everyone noted better sleep, better energy, less sugar cravings and a feeling of control.  Wow, so small changes really had a big impact.  That is pretty powerful.

Kyle and Candace at our local farmers’ market: so many wonderful food choices, grown locally

I guess there are no coincidences after all. When I came home from work and started to read today’s Living section in our local paper, the Oregonian, I of course noticed the article skewering sugar and its relatives by Dr. Oz and Rozen.  Many points were made in this article. Here are just a few of the highlights: sugar alters essential proteins in the body, particularly if you already have insulin resistance; too much fructose(we are not talking about whole fruits here: more like High Fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, brown and white sugar, honey, agave and turbinado sugars) causes your liver to turn the excess fructose into fat: this in turn can lead to fatty liver and/or cirrhosis; drinking large quantities(30 oz of fructose-containing substances)/day can drive up your blood pressure; high levels of fructose are directly related to the development of diabetes.  Recommendations include: cut down on those sugars in general(try to limit consumption to 20 g or 3 Tblsp/day); eat fruit for dessert and use stevia as a substitute, in moderation of course.

There really is no avoiding the news about sugar and its effects on our health.  So this cleanse for me came at a particularly powerful time, right before Halloween(yikes: just think how much candy we have all consumed as a result of that holiday!!) , Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah. I am motivated to find recipes that will rely minimally on added sugars and I will share them with you. Please do the same for us and all of our readers.  As always, wishing you joy and balance.


Filed under Kyle Bell McAvoy, Menopause Symptoms, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness

7 responses to “Reflections on the ‘cleanse’ and more reasons to stay away from most sugars

  1. Thanks for this reminder. I have been eating a pretty clean diet for about a year and half and lost about 30 pounds and changed the composition of my body overall. I’m finding, though, that as the weather gets darker and colder here in Seattle I’ve suddenly started craving hot espresso with creamy whole milk and sugar and also not quite so excited about my daily huge salad at noon (so cold). Anyway, need these constant reminders of why I need to stay on the straight and (not really so) narrow. BIG THANKS!

    • Christine: that is an incredible accomplishment, losing 30 pounds, as well as changing your body composition. You must feel pretty proud of that as it is no easy task to stay motivated for a prolonged period of time. But you did it and now the work of maintenance begins, which many people find the hardest. Try this: take a photo of yourself from before and one from now and put them on your refrigerator door side by side. Every morning, compare those two and renew your commitment to making positive lifestyle choices. Occasionally do a ‘cleanse’ similar to one we did on our blog to remind yourself 1. that you can do it and 2. how great you feel when you eat a cleaner diet.
      We all have daily challenges to face so we have to plan for those. If I have a special occasion coming up(and they often just keep on coming….), I will try to eat a super clean and lighter diet for the day(s) preceding and afterwards as well, as well as increasing my exercise regimen. That has helped me maintain my weight over many years and I am able to enjoy those occasional indulgences so much more. Food/feasting should be celebrated and enjoyed. Finding the right balance for you will make this a lifelong pleasure instead of a continuous beating up of oneself.
      You didn’t mention your age or if you are having any hormonal challenges but be sure to get your hormones tested, as hormonal imbalances contribute enormously to weight gain and belly fat. Thanks for joining our blog. Let us know if there is anything in particular that you would like us to discuss. See you soon!

      • I am 60 years old. Breast cancer survivor (well, it’s been two years since my heavy-duty treatment ended). On anastrozole. Have changed to the paleo lifestyle and way of eating. Feel fantastic. Balanced mood (always an issue for me). For me, it’s been about looking at food differently. I enjoy cooking again. I do give into my craving for ice cream and tortilla chips every now and again, but am conscious of how it’s affecting me. Thanks for your lengthy, encouraging support.

  2. Mary Jean Guidette

    Congratulations,Kyle! I think that what you did is quite an accomplishment —and how wonderful to share with others! Am I ready to try this? No, not now but I would never say never.

    • Thanks Mary Jean. Believe me it is not as painful as it might sound! And I can honestly say the time just zipped by. During the past 2 weeks, I have been experimenting with various baked good recipes. Just today I made yummy peanut butter cookies with 100% whole wheat pastry flour and coconut sugar(who knew coconuts could yield sugar?? full of vitamins and minerals) and I will share this recipe on the blog. Again, since they do have sugar, even a natural kind, they are for treats and they definitely meet that description.
      Funny, before starting this I wasn’t sure how much it would affect me but I am determined to adopt some of the changes that I made for the long-term. Let’s call this an ‘aspiration’ rather than a resolution…far too often resolutions feel too absolute and bound for failure and I want this to be a win-win.
      Let me know if you ever want to try doing this and we will put out another call for others(including me) to join you as there truly is power in numbers.

  3. Marina Mitchell

    Kyle! You know how I feel about my cleanse…but I have to share on here. I am 41 and noticed for the past few years, that even though I exercise hard care 6-10 hours a week (I’m a fitness professional), I was still gaining fat. Very discouraging to say the least. I knew I had to try the cleanse and I am blown away! I eat really healthy, but had never COMPLETELY cut out sugar and refined foods for any period of time. I don’t really have a sweet tooth, so the sugar I thought would be no big deal. What I didn’t realize until the cleanse is where sugar is…EVERYWHERE!!! I only had 4 carbs (besides fruits and veggies): sweet potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa. Really not that hard at all. And boy did my body respond! I’ve enjoyed some time eating some of the foods I love, and I’ve decided that I’m going to try to eat like this 5 days a week, and then give myself a break (and some treats that I love) on the weekends…cuz life is too short to never enjoy the foods that just make us happy!!! Thank you again for this amazing idea…I’ve referred many people to your sight and to this cleanse!!!

    • Thanks Marina for your comments. I love your strategy of staying with this way of eating for 5 days a week so that you can enjoy some conscious treats occasionally. That really is the key, isn’t it? I agree with your observations: I also don’t have much of a sweet tooth but I have dipped into the candy/cookie jar from time to time, thinking “oh this only has a few calories, so it shouldn’t make much difference” yet in fact, we finally DO know that every calorie is NOT created equal. It DOES matter what we eat and it is so important to read labels. By eating ‘whole foods’ rather than processed ones with multiple ingredients, many we don’t even recognize, will keep us leaner, healthier and help us achieve our long-term health goals. Congrats on completing the cleanse. Let’s do it again in the spring!

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