July 30, 2012

I Used to be a Sugar Junkie.

These are the true confessions of a recovering sugar addict.

I used to feel like a criminal in the morning as my husband collected the evidence of countless cookie crumbs in our sheets before he climbed into bed next to me.

Flash back to earlier that night and you’d see me sitting in bed reading a Deepak Chopra book. Desperate Housewives would be on in the background (cheesy tv shows are another bad habit of mine), and I’d be sitting with a stash of my addiction beside me. Crumbling gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and a big bar of 73% dark chocolate were my drugs of choice.

Yes, me, the fitness and health focused Hayley Hobson. You don’t believe me? I swear it’s true. On nights when I’d turn in early; I used to eat my way through my stash before my husband would come to bed and find me innocently sleeping, thinking I had gotten away with my sugar fix.

Inevitably, he next morning the guilt would be there as I awoke amongst a bed of crumbs; remorseful and grimacing as my husband poked fun of me.

Hi, my name is Hayley Hobson and I was once a sugar junkie.

The sugar fixes gave me short and sweet highs, but then they’d kick me into a slump a few hours later. Even worse, they would wake me up several times during the night. Then, to climb out of that slump, I’d eat more sugar. Then I’d put an IV drip of caffeine in my arm (not really, but I’d wished I could!).

As you may be able to pick up so far, this was not working. I thought I could get away with it since I was lean and athletic.

What was really happening was that I was spiraling into an endless cycle that was wreaking havoc on my body, moods and energy.

With my sweet tooth raging out of control, I decided it was time to lay down the needle—the boxes of cookies, coconut milk ice cream and choc-o-love bars—and pick up the greens.

I committed to go cold turkey.

Can you relate? We have cravings because our diets are out of balance and then we eat sugar or processed foods in order to make us feel better. It’s temporary and in the long run debilitating.

We go through an experience of feeling on top of the world and then we use caffeine to prevent ourselves from crashing into a slump when we feel it coming on. We love the taste and feeling the sugar high gives us so much because of the chemical properties behind it.

Sugar releases the feel-good chemical serotonin in our brain as well as endorphins that are in charge of making us happy and energized, but it’s just a fix.

As any kind of junkies knows, fixes don’t last long.

As a yoga and Pilates instructor, I need my body to be feeling flexible, supple and strong. With my obsession of eating Jelly Bellies, red licorice and Tootsie Rolls, I may have looked that way, but that’s not how I was feeling. I felt sluggish and blah until I ate another Starburst to release more serotonin and help me feel nice.

I knew my commitment to nixing the sugar and eating more green, would benefit my career family and the people around me as well.

My first step was to get off the caffeine. This was a hard one. When we’re using caffeine, we can never really hear what our bodies are actually saying to us. We don’t know we are tired because we’re drugging ourselves to keep going faster and longer every day.

Next, I filled every plate with live food (lots of greens), complex carbohydrates, good fats and a complete protein. When our bodies are getting what we need in terms of nourishment, the cravings do go away. I promise.

Finally, I started to eat regularly again.

Before, I would often skip breakfast or lunch because I was too busy—or jacked up on caffeine and not hungry—and then by mid-day I’d be dying for my sugar fixes or gluten-free pretzels. Many people skip meals for diet reasons or lifestyle reasons. It is one of the biggest counter-productive mistakes to make if you want to move toward a more energetic, healthy and fit lifestyle.

By simply feeding your body its regular meals, it loves you back by not craving the extra food.

Greens are sugar’s arch-enemy. I knew if I was going to put down that addiction with a Pilates body slam, greens were the way to go. I started by going to the farmer’s market and picking out nice dark green veggies like spinach, kale and chard. Starting with more of these in your diet is a great place to begin, as they are so rich of the nutrients our bodies crave.

Next, I realized dining out a lot was an obstacle to my goal. I endeavored to make healthy meals at home so I could understand what I was eating because I was the one buying and cooking it.

I felt better almost immediately with these small changes.

Then, energized and inspired by my greens, I started juicing. I’d make a ton of green smoothies and eat a large array of vegetables ranging from fresh bok choy to mouth-watering avocados.

Life was getting good.

The results I experienced I became so passionate about, I began to study more about it through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, www.instituteofintegrativenutrition.com and turned this new lifestyle into part of my career.

Now, the “icing on the cake” is living the life I love and feeling good too!

Take it from an ex-junkie—you can get off the sugar and go green too!


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