Sugar Free September is almost upon us! Most of our bootcamp athletes are familiar with whole food or “clean” eating (Not to be confused with the 3 second rule.) Several of us have gone through the Whole30 one or more times, and have gotten the hang of how our bodies respond to proper nutrition. We fuel ourselves for performance, and when we indulge in less than optimal choices, we feel the difference. As a personal trainer, I see athletes come in and out of healthy habits. There is a natural ebb and flow, and I support some level of forgiveness within a nutritional framework. At the same time, it’s also beneficial to come back to “home base” from time to time and reset your system…enter Sugar Free September.
Why Sugar? Simple. You want to look better in jeans. Or a bathing suit. Or your birthday suit. You want smaller waistlines and more energy. I see it all the time- people will cut calories or substitute meals for bars, blend up kale with cottage cheese and almond butter… (ok, I made that recipe up) People are the least willing to eliminate what truly stands between them and their goals: sugar. I see it a lot in the “clean eating” community. (I really just don’t want to say paleo. There. I said it. I’m talking about paleo) Drop beans? Easy. Milk? meh. Bread? mmmmm….well ok. Cheese? I really don’t want to, but I will. Sugar? Wait, you don’t mean honey and maple syrup too? I think I’ll just modify.
I like a challenge. You need a challenge. Quit eating sugar for a month and see what happens. See if you can do it.
Blended from two simple programs I found online. This one from Pure Austin (includes a “sugar incognito” list to check for in ingredients) and this one from Gracious Pantry.
- This is a no ADDED sugar challenge. Don’t worry about checking the nutritional labels. Get used to looking at the ingredient list instead. For example, my macadamia nuts have 1g of sugar per serving, but the ingredients are “dry roasted macadamia nuts, salt.” No added sugar here- the nuts have a small amount of naturally occurring sugar. Okay to eat.
- You are allowed 3 pieces of fruit per day. No more. You are welcome to eat less. A whole watermelon does not count as 1 piece. We’re not going into glycemic index or load in detail, but make smart choices. Berries and citrus fruits are lower in sugar, tropical fruit is high. If it tastes really sweet, it has more sugar. If it’s not so sweet, it has less. Dried fruit is off limits, including dates. Freeze dried is ok, just don’t crack out on it.
- No Alcohol. You’ve eliminated juices and soda from your diet, but still hanging on to your “mommy juice?” It’s a month. If you can’t do that, we will discuss a different sort of program.
- No artificial sweeteners. I don’t care if it says natural on the label. Lots of reasons why, but mostly I want to eliminate the sugar craving.
- You get a sticker chart! So fun. Yes, I have a preschooler. Motivation is key, and you can’t take this challenge on at once. This is a one day at a time deal. If you screw up one day, you don’t have to start over, but I want you to keep pushing through. Every day counts. I, personally, am a fan of this chart. Here’s another super chart, and here’s another. Accountability is part of the deal. We’re posting photos each week of our progress.
- Prizes? Well, duh. What’s a challenge without a prize? And what’s a sticker chart without a prize? I’m giving a prize each week and the overall winner will be given a big prize! I’m keeping it under wraps, but I promise it will be worthwhile.
- One last thing. DO NOT BINGE EAT TO CLEAR YOUR PANTRY. You are better than that. Eating junk to prepare for a life change is counterproductive. It says “I’m doing this now and will get back to these oreos later.” Trashing your junk food is a statement of intent and commitment. Put the trash in the trash. Done.