(Other) Things that happen

After my last post about “things that happen” when you start getting into shape, I found myself thinking about OTHER things that happen. From my experience you can also expect the following:

-You’ll feel cold ALL THE TIME. I used to brave the winter months with little more than a sweater and a coat and now even during Spring and Summer nights I need at least a light jacket. I had never been this cold in my life, but then again, I had always had on my very own insulation bodysuit made out of fat.

– You’ll spend soooooo much money on clothes, especially if you’re a girl. I had no idea how seriously expensive it would be. Say goodbye to your favourite t-shirt or cardigan or whatever, for it will no longer fit and at some point even the seamstress won’t be able to help you with it. So you’ll need to buy clothes, but not just once, for as your volume loss progresses you’ll need to keep on buying / tailoring clothes so that you don’t feel like you’re wearing a tent all the time. Also, you’ll spend a lot of money on gym clothes and bras.

– Which brings me to: You’ll see your boobs disappear like it’s an act of magic. They shrink, and fast. And if, like me, you have always been a big breasted lady, be prepared for some emotional/identity readjustment.

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One healthy loop

I used to look at fit people and think “what the hell is in those protein shakes?! They’re always in a such good mood! It must be some sort of drug…”. We all know healthy people are usually cheerful, and happy, and positive, and all those things which tend to be seriously annoying to those of us couch surfing our days away. I used to question how they managed to stay perky all day, every day…and now I know the answer: it’s a combination of proper nutrition and exercising – no drugs! (lol) – One thing leads to the other and so on, in a beautifully aligned loop.

Everything works together. Exercise doesn’t do much on its own (you can exercise your heart out, but if you eat like crap you’re pretty much like a hamster on a wheel: not going anywhere) and if you just diet you are merely changing your weight, not your body. BUT If you put proper nourishment together with the endorphins and strength exercise provides, “magic” happens.

If, like me, you are on the road to health, I suggest you take a good look at the following picture:

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I have talked about how exercise makes you feel (on my Love those endorphins ♡ post), and how processed food truly harms your body (on my Nutritional Choices post) and now I suggest you read this article:

You Are What You Eat: How Your Diet Effects Your Emotions

and in a very shortened way, the moral of the article is:

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If you consistently exercise and work your way into optimum nutrition (I’m still baby-stepping my way into that, no drastic dietary changes for me, no, no, no!) everything falls into step, truly! I have experienced it first hand. When you feel good from exercising you don’t go for the junk food, and when you don’t go for the junk food you don’t feel as sluggish so you’re more likely to go to the gym, and so on. Obviously things take TIME, nothing happens overnight, nothing is easy at first, but it’s worth the effort.

Supermarket strategies

Self-control around sugary foods is not really my strong suit. Very slowly – but surely – I have been reducing my sugar intake, but I have the feeling it will be a war I will never truly win, I’ll only win battles. 15 months after I’ve started this process I am MILES away from where I was, and have actually successfully introduced a lot more changes than I had ever dreamt I would. However, I still have a very soft spot for milk and white chocolate, and if anyone offers me any kind of desert I’m kinda powerless and can’t say no.
Eating a treat now and then is ok for most people, I guess. But in my case it means I’m taking several steps back, because on the days after I’ll feel cravings much more often and they’re stronger as well, so I have to go through that whole process again, which really isn’t nice. After Christmas it took me over a month to get back to where I was before Christmas, and I don’t really have to explain why, do I?

I tried the naive approach of “I’ll buy the chocolate now, just to have it around the house if I feel like it during the week”. AHAHAHAHAHAH, how about no? An hour or so after I get home from the supermarket the chocolate will be sitting comfortably in my stomach. My record was probably a couple of hours staying away from it. I simply cannot have sugary things in my house. Period. So this makes total sense to me:

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And how did I manage it? In the beginning, before it became a habit going on second nature, when I went to the supermarket and saw aaaaaallll those junky foods available, and some of them even happened to have a discount (extra tempting!!), I kept in mind what they did to my organs, to my metabolism, to my brain. I never gave a damn if they’re high in calories, that doesn’t matter to me. I no longer need this strategy, but in the beginning it saved me from a lot of mistakes. Also, another thing that really helped: I went to the supermarket AFTER meals, so this didn’t happen:61f9b9ecc75e83c18fdf1cec6f7079fbIt may sound silly, I know, but it’s effective. If I go to the supermarket hungry I’ll end up – unconsciously – putting a LOT more food in my cart than I actually need, and among that food will be junk, no doubt.
Even today I avoid walking by the chocolate/gummies aisle: out of sight, out of mind. I don’t feel the need to put myself to the test so see if I can resist the temptation, I simply avoid it.

Changing focus

All my life exercising had been a chore because I had always chosen to focus on the uncomfortable part. Fact: by changing focus I completely changed my experience, and something which I used to perceive as hell on earth, became the high point of my day (also: endorphins ). Useless to say this shift didn’t happen overnight… But if you read my post about endorphins you already know how technically one feels much better afterwards and how focusing on that turned my mind around.

Now I want to share a very recent article on the New York Times, called “Rethinking Exercise as a Source of Immediate Rewards” so you can see I’m not making this up 😉

However, it is important to point out that I found the right kind of exercise for me. I don’t believe for a second that I would be writing this post if was spending 60 minutes in the exercise room instead of 60 minutes on a Les Mills Body Combat class, for example. Everyone needs to find what works for them.

When searching for the right workout for you, I suggest you keep this in mind:
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Things that happen

To lighten the mood after the seriousness of my last 2 posts, here’s a fun article by BuzzFeed filled with gifs!! *yay*

23 Things That Inevitably Happen When You Start Getting In Shape

Obviously these don’t happen overnight… One starts to feel them after a while of consistently exercising.

Also, be aware, according to my experience the following reaction will also happen, sooner or later, because people will instantly assume you’re on a “crash diet” and make the silliest remarks…
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Sugar = Drug of abuse (part 2)

Now that I’ve shared information about how sugar acts on your brain, I’m going to share information about how sugar acts on your liver. For that I’m relying on the 2012 “The Skinny on Obesity” documentary by the University of California, which will explain how sugar produces the same kind of reactions on your liver as alcohol abuse.

I have watched several documentaries and news stories on sugar and processed food and this one is by far the most informative. Even better, it explains things in a very accessible language. I seriously recommend you watch all 7 episodes, but if you cannot bring yourself to do that, at least watch episode 2:

Sugar = Drug of abuse (part 1)

Brace yourselves: it’s going to be a long post.

Since I was a teenager I experienced serious emotional roller-coasters whenever I tried to diet, and since my worst nutritional errors have always been sugar related (cookies, iced tea, ice cream, chocolate, gummies, adding sugar to fruit, etc!), that’s where I cut most heavily. By emotional roller-coasters I mean I could go from crying my heart out, to apathetic, to ravenous mad all within two hours or so, while also experiencing violent cravings. I tried to explain to people that what I felt weren’t simple cravings, but rather a very powerful and borderline crippling demand my mind made for sugary foods, and that no… the cravings didn’t go away after 15 minutes. I could easily go to bed craving cookies and wake up the next day still craving cookies. I heard these revolting answers too many times: “you just lack will power” or “you simply don’t want it badly enough”. To everyone who’s ever said that to anyone here’s what I have for you:
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Several researches have come to a similar conclusion: sugar acts on your brain in a manner very similar to drugs of abuse like cocaine. Yes, you read it correctly: cocaine. And that means that symptoms of withdrawal are to be expected, and to those of us who have developed a sugar addiction over the years it will be unbelievably hard to get away from it. I was beyond happy when I came across this information, because FINALLY what I had always experienced had been validated by scientific research.

brain sugarOn the left is a brain on sugar, and on the right side is a brain on cocaine. Notice how the same areas light up?
And just like with other drugs you develop resistance, so you need more and more to feel the same thing. And when you don’t get your fix? All hell breaks loose.

I suggest you take the time to read this article “10 Similarities Between Sugar, Junk Food and Abusive Drugs and on part 2 of this post I will share a video by the University of California.
I hope by now you already understand the following:

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BUT, just because it’s (very) hard, that doesn’t make it impossible 😉

Love those endorphins ♡

They say “fall in love with the process and the results will come”, and in my case this became the truest of truths.

At first taking the fitness classes was hard, and by “at first” I mean the first couple of months. Yep, again: it’s a process and it takes time. The discomfort, the frustration, the soreness, it was all there. But you know what else was there? A great new feeling after fitness classes: I actually felt happy! I know you’re rolling your eyes at this, but it’s true. In the beginning I didn’t even notice it, I only realized it when others started pointing it out to me: “aren’t you cheerful today!”, “how many coffees did you drink already? You’re all hyped up”. And I was like “wut? dunno whatcha mean…”, but then I started paying attention to how I felt around the clock and made the golden connection: I always felt better after class.

I knew I would have fun during classes because I have awesome instructors, and that I would be rewarded afterwards, and that’s what I decided to focus on – Yes, what you focus on is a conscious decision – instead of the negative sensations which were also present. Even today, when I feel tired, sleepy or moody I make damn sure to drag myself to the gym, because I know I’ll leave feeling so much better than when I walked in.

Here’s some encouragement:
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Bye Bye Soft Drinks

Since I was an itsy bitsy child I had ALWAYS drank soft drinks during meals and during leisure times. This was the hardest change for me: giving up my beloved iced tea, and it took me months to do it. Over many months I slowly reduced the amount of iced tea I drank with my meals, and believe me… I drank seas’ worth of it.

Switching straight to water just didn’t work, for the food didn’t taste the same, and I felt strong sugar cravings shortly after meals – sugar is a b*itch of a drug, but I’ll get to it later – so it took me time, plenty of time, to remove it from my life, and I often thought I would never be able to completely give it up. But I strived to keep in mind that it’s a process, and life-time habits aren’t changed overnight: it takes time. So if today I drank 3 glasses of iced tea, next week I would only drink 2 glasses and 3/4, and so on at a painstakingly slow pace.

At this point I am glad to share that after months without a single sip of soft drinks, when I decided to have some Coca-Cola for “old times sake” it tasted horrible to me! Like cheap caramel gone bad, truthfully. I am fully aware that it was not the Coke that changed, it was me, and since then I have never ever wished for it again. As for the Iced Tea, my taste buds now perceive it as cloying liquid, so the outcome is the same: never again.

Since health is my destination, I never went for the “zero calories” soft drinks. My mind associates that with “chemical sh*t-storm”.

For a follow-up on this theme, please check out my Soft drinks = ☠ post

And at 1st… it was blergh

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Yep, yep… Natural food tastes really bland when your taste buds are used to being over stimulated by processed food. Even taking tiny baby steps towards healthy food, it is a serious adjustment. You cannot expect to successfully change life-long habits in a month or so, it’s a process and processes take time.

I was never on a diet, so if on a certain day the cravings were too strong or I just didn’t feel like resisting them, I didn’t. Most importantly I need to feel good, and having your mind going “candy, candy, candy, CAAAANNNDDDDYYYY” is the opposite of feeling good. Obviously I resisted sometimes, then often, then most of the times and then the cravings started to appear only seldom. Again: it’s a process. Sometimes you take steps forward, and sometimes you need to take a step back and readjust. I was never too hard on myself because I am on a journey towards health, not towards weight loss, and I never established a deadline. To me it’s not as much about the destination as it is about the road, and the road is made of all the changes I need to make.

Also, exercise was very helpful when it came to managing the cravings, since when I was distracted in fitness class and pumped up with endorphins afterwards, junk food was really the last thing on my mind. So I suggest you spend sometime considering the following sentences:

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