Stuff I've Written

Sugar Addict

I have a heroin-level addiction to sugar. I am like a junkie, but instead of sticking a needle in my arm, I stuff sugar down my gullet as quickly as I can.

And it’s not just the foods you would think of—candy, pastries, desserts—although I eat plenty of those, too. It’s bread, milk and other starchy, carb-y foods that cause a quick sugar spike in my bloodstream. It’s those foods that cause me to continue eating even though I know I’m full.

Then afterwards, the withdrawal symptoms start. I feel bloated, tired, cranky, guilty and angry. Angry because I know exactly what makes me feel like that, but I feel powerless to stop it.

It took me a while to put two and two together, but once I did, I researched the effects of sugar and realized that I needed to make some drastic changes to my diet.

And the comparison to heroin? Really? Yes! It sounds overdramatic, but all that sugar releases dopamine, that chemical that’s behind addiction, cravings, anything that gives you that high. It signals feedback from specific things. So when I see sugar, I chase that high to satisfy the craving. In fact, just the idea of it makes me want it.

According to my research, Americans eat 19 teaspoons (about a half cup) or more of added sugar a day. Apparently, we shouldn’t eat more than 6 teaspoons daily, but it’s hard because sugar is everywhere. Obviously, it’s in soda, breads, sauces and other processed foods, but the other day I spent 30 minutes just reading yogurt labels in the grocery store. I was trying to find one with minimal or no sugar and I don’t think I found a single one with less than 30 grams.

About a week ago I started a sugar detox, but it was excruciating. Not just because it was nearly impossible to find foods without sugar—have you spent any time reading labels? Holy hell!—but because the withdrawal symptoms were brutal. I’m not going to lie—my mood was pretty unstable. I was irritable, unable to focus, tired and pissed off. I tried to go cold turkey but holding down a job and managing my other responsibilities just weren’t possible with a full-on detox. What I needed was to be locked in a padded room somewhere, left to wail and cry and pound my fists on the walls.

So I backed off a little and re-evaluated what I was eating and where I could gradually—more painlessly—cut back. Breads were the first to go, which meant I had to stop my Starbucks visits in the morning. On my way into work I’d grab a Venti skinny vanilla latte and a scone or oatmeal or whatever pastry looked good that morning.

And the milk had to change, too. One cup of 1% milk has about 13 grams of sugar, which is like 3 teaspoons. I hate almond milk and coconut milk, and even soy milk has about 10 grams of sugar in it. For now, I’m using a little half and half until I learn how to make my own almond milk. I’m so not a “make my own almond milk”  type of girl, but it looks like I’m going to have to learn how to be.

I’m eating more whole, fresh foods, which means more trips to the grocery store (and more money). I’ve been researching Paleo eating because of the carb thing, but, damn, that’s all so much work. I have to admit, though, in the past week, even with the minimal modifications I’ve made, I’ve dropped a few pounds. And although that’s not the real goal, I was happy that it was mostly in my belly, because I had been packing in on there. That scared me. As a woman careening towards 45 years old, that’s a bad thing.

And I feel better. I sleep better. I’m (I think) less cranky and tired and don’t fade out by 3:00 p.m. I still have the cravings though. Hopefully, that passes in a few weeks. Otherwise, this is going to be a long, sad life.

Returning To My Mat. Again.

 

The number one rule of teaching yoga is to make sure you keep up your own practice. Something I haven’t really done lately.

Between settling into my new job, maintaining freelance work, traveling for work, fighting a bout of bronchitis and now a knee injury (cue the violins!), I really haven’t been as dedicated to my practice as I need to be. Not just for teaching, but for myself. I don’t feel as good as when I practice regularly. I”m tired, achy, irritable, less patient and just, meh. 

A few months ago I passed up the opportunity to audition for the studio that I did my training at. I hadn’t really been teaching much so I didn’t feel prepared. There’s another audition coming up in August and I want to give it a shot.

I’ve been teaching at work to a small but enthusiastic group of students of varying degrees of experience. That, alone, has been good practice because it’s a true mixed-level class. I have people who’ve been taking for a while and a student brand-new to yoga. It’s been a challenge for me to try and connect with all of them without making anyone feel like I wasn’t teaching to them. I’ve walked in with a plan every time, and every time, I’ve thrown it out and have had to think on my feet. Granted, it’s only a 30-minute class, and I’m not teaching complicated inversions or arm balances, but for a newish teacher like me, it’s been scary.

Plus, not being able to practice on my own makes me feel like a bit of a fraud. It’s important to understand yoga in your own body instead of just memorizing a set of instruction, and I don’t feel it right now. I’ve tried to do modified postures but I’m so afraid to do more damage to my knee that I don’t really put my heart into it. I have an MRI scheduled for Thursday and am desperately hoping, wishing, praying, that there isn’t a tear—that I just have a tendon or muscular issue that can be rehabbed. I’m more determined than ever to resume my own practice as soon as possible, and I can’t wait to stand in front of a room full of eager yogis!

Socially Unsocial

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My new job is amazing. I’m the online editor for two websites (unofficially, I work for three and possibly more). This means I repurpose content from the print issues, assign new content, edit it, post it, research images for each post, work with marketing to help develop sponsorship opportunities, work with ad sales to come up with plans for advertising clients, and I manage all the social media for both sites. And, naturally, it all has to be SEO’d to death.

I spend my day on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus, which is a dream in so many ways, but by the time my work day ends I’m so burned out on social media, that I don’t even log into my own blog. Forget about even glancing at Twitter or Facebook.

The sad thing about that is, I’ve learned more about blogging and social media in the past few months than I have in the entire seven years of blogging and I’m too lazy to put it into practice on my own blog. I’ve spent most of last week in Boston (which is a great city that I want to go back to!) at a seminar for digital publishing and marketing, and I’ve been excited to get back to work and put a lot of what I learned into practice.

I miss this space, so I have to find the time to come back and write.

Last summer I decided that I would stop writing about yoga here and I created a new blog called The Modern Yogini. But it turns out that I can’t separate yoga from my life.

It also turns out that I barely have time for one blog, never mind two.

So I’ll probably put the other one on the back burner until I start teaching more, and I’m going to make the time to write here again.

I know…famous last words.