I used to have seriously wicked carb cravings.
I was driven by them, and as a result I was cranky, tired and about 10-15 pounds heavier than I wanted to be.
I’ve done a lot of work over the years and come to terms with my health, my body and my weight, and most of the time I feel nothing short of vibrant and vivacious.
But last week those pesky carb cravings were back with a vengeance. I gave into them at first… “Just a little crusty bread with my soup,” I said. “Ohhhh sure, just one piece of pizza.” And before I knew it I was totally consumed by this carb-hungry beast. The worst part about it was that my mood plummeted and I started feeling totally defeated. Totally uncool. I knew I had to do something before I fell too far down the rabbit hole.
With no time to lose I mapped out a super-easy, fail-proof plan to boost myself back to vibrant. It was more than just the refined carbs and sweets that were bringing me down, and I knew it.
Cravings don’t just pop up for no reason. They’re our body’s way of telling us something is out of whack.
I didn’t have to dig too deep to know I’ve been burning the candle at both ends and using my super-power procrastination talents at every turn, and I was cranky, frustrated and overwhelmed with all the things I’ve been putting off. It wasn’t all going to go away or fix itself, so tackling it was a big part of my mini-cleanse… mind, diet and body. I was excited before I even started because I knew it was going to help me feel great.
Each day I made a point to tackle at least one thing that was weighing on my mind. I started small and reaped the benefits of the ripple effect.
Day One: I cleaned the shower while I was in it, straightened the bathroom and waded through a pile of unopened mail. My car died last week (one source of my stress-driven cravings), so I also put in some time researching new and used cars online. I found some good deals, so that was a load off my mind. I made sure to let the feelings of accomplishment, no matter how small, wash over me.
Day Two: I started gaining momentum. I boldly tackled the laundry pile(s) while I worked on video classes for my 12-week online wellness program. I dusted. I cleaned the kitchen. I uncovered my desk and threw away tons of stuff. I was on a roll and feeling better by the second! I had one of the most productive days I’ve had in months, both personally and professionally.
Day Three: Because I was so efficient on Day Two, I woke up and had no immediate work to do! Woot. So I allowed myself to do whatever the heck I wanted all morning long… an often overlooked, massively important activity called Recharging the Batteries. I pampered myself with a little at-home facial. I made tea and sat quietly. I sat on the couch and caught up on some TV (which I never do!), and I started a new book. It. Was. Lovely. Total rejuvenation.
You see, our external environment is a reflection of our internal environment. And vice versa. So when we clean and declutter our space, we clean and declutter our mind. It’s very important to start out small and let the tiny accomplishments snowball – you don’t want to add to the overwhelm…. that’s totally counterproductive.
When I say I was consumed by a carb-hungry beast what I mean is that the refined, white breads (pizza, pancakes, crusty bread, grinders) and sweets (cake, cookies, muffins, anything else) had gotten a hold of me. Not that I ate all of that!! Okay… I ate some of it. But believe me when I say I wanted to eat everything. I have nothing against carbs in general. I love veggies and whole grains and dried fruits. But all of that went by the wayside and all I could think about was bread and when I was going to get my next fix. Ack! I knew I needed a quick, efficient reboot. This is what I ate:
Breakfast: A low-glycemic smoothie (to combat the carb cravings) with cinnamon and a handful of greens like frozen spinach or broccoli.
Water, water! I avoided coffee and had green tea instead, for the added antioxidant boost. And then I drank more water with my vitamins. I also boosted the cleansing aspect by adding in a super-strength vitamin C complex and a liver support supplement with milk thistle—our livers do so much for us, they deserve some love too!
Lunch: A big, green dark-leafy salad with baked fish, fresh veggies, dried cherries and a little goat’s milk cheese and/or a hearty soup like lentil or tomato.
Snacks: Sunflower seeds and no-sugar added dried fruit, like prunes or plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries and chia.
Dinner: Another low-glycemic green smoothie.
I also added in fresh green juice, like this snazzy little combo: kale, spinach, parsley, cilantro, cucumber, ginger, lemon, red grape. Yum!
The smoothies have a ton of fiber, so I wasn’t the least bit hungry, and they also help squash carb cravings because they’re low-glycemic—meaning no serious blood sugar swings—which is one thing that leads to those nasty little cravings. Plus the healthy foods and vitamins gave my cells all the good stuff they were probably missing last week while I was on the hamster wheel of refined, nutrient poor carbs and sugar. And when you have cells that are happy you have a body that’s happy. Ta da! Instant energy! Oh thank goodness.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling down in the dumps the absolute last thing I want to do is exercise. And yet I consistently find it to be one of the best tools in my pull-yourself-together arsenal. It makes me feel better about myself and gives me energy. Plus it de-crankifies me and makes me happier afterwards, 100 percent of the time. This is not to say that it’s easy to get out there and do it, especially those first couple days. So I started with small goals. My daily plan looked something like this:
Run at least one mile
Do at least 50 sit-ups
Do at least five pushups
Do at least one 30 second plank
I say “at least” because most of the time once I start I’ll keep going and give it a good effort. All together this took me 15-20 minutes each day. The small goals make it a conceivable feat when I’m wrapped up in my robe and slippers enjoying my tea. And the consistent daily effort gets that proverbial snowball rolling.
By the end of Day Three I had lost three pounds, but more importantly that feeling of bloat and fullness was gone. My energy at least doubled from last week when I was dancing the evil dance with the carb-hungry beast. I’m feeling 110 percent happier and my overall outlook on life has improved. I’m totally motivated again… all in all I feel incredible. And more importantly, I reminded myself that this is how I should feel… this is how I want to feel, all the time.
Sometimes we just have to hit the reset button to get the ball rolling again.
Amber Barry is a healthy living expert and avid runner on a mission to show people that each small step, over time, adds up to huge results. She helps people around the world become the best version of themselves, undeniably, by teaching them how to create a strong foundation of health, happiness and purpose so they can love life and live it vibrantly. She is a Registered Nurse, Board Certified Health Coach, and founder of Whole & Vibrant Living.
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Ed: Lynn Hasselberger