Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Time to give up the sugar, sugar

There's nothing like the bloated, dreamy interregnum between Christmas and the promise of a new year to make one pause for reflection on what has made up the pattern of life - both good and bad - for the previous 12 months.

Armed with a bag of easy-peel oranges, or, even better, a chocolate one, and a glass of something alcoholic, it can be tempting to look back on 2017 in all its glory, or reflect on darker moments. I'm pretty good at shovelling crisps into my mouth and thinking. So, I thought, I might as well write something while I do it.

I hope 2017 was a great year for you. If it was anything like mine, it was, as years go, mixed but ultimately, overall, a good one.

At first glance, looking back on mine, it appeared unremarkable. After all, what did I do?

Look after my family, go to work, do the 1,001 small jobs which keep body, mind and soul together. And, we were fortunate enough to have some great breaks away together. And pow! Just like that, when I first sat down to start writing this, it was  the end of December.....exactly 365 days since I vowed to do more exercise, get financially fit, meet people more face to face, do less mindless scrolling on Facebook, sort out conflict and try to figure out my working life....oh, and blog more.   Pretty run of the mill stuff.

So run of the mill, in fact, that in between walking the treadmill of the everyday, and meeting our own needs and the needs of others, it can be easy to look back on 12 months and think that we haven't achieved much. Other people's lives can seem to be easier/more exciting/all figured out, while we can tend to feel we are plodding on with little to show for the passing weeks.

So, at the end of 2016, I decided to keep a note on my phone of 2017 achievements, both small and large. Basically, if I felt like achieved something, I made a note of it. 12 months later, here's the (largely) unedited list. I was surprised, when it was all in one place, how much I'd done, and it was a boost to read something positive, all in one place. I think as humans we're too good at concentrating on the negative.

  • De-cluttering
  • Not spending as much on stuff I don't need (this is very much a work in progress)
  • April: Job interview (didn't get it, but good, if slightly terrifying experience, complete with PowerPoint horror experience)
  • April: Started Inspiring Managers Course for CMI qualification
  • Trying to do 10,000 steps a day or more
  • More decluttering!
  • New tyres on car (I'd been meaning to do this for months)
  • April: started and finished Diabetes Jersey walk
  • Carried on Saving for my 40th (which seemed like a long time away in Jan 2017)
  • Bought new plants for window box
  • Good progress with various work projects
  • May: Gritted my teeth and got a personal trainer
  • Did 15 mile walk - South Coast Challenge
  • Iris started at gymnastics
  • Iris turned 4 and loved her birthday party
  • Carried on with Caring Cooks, local charity
  • Massive cupboard clear out on Bank Holiday Monday
  • Did charity clothing sale
  • More de-cluttering
  • Blog accepted by Blog of the Day by MumsNet (yay!) in September
  • Essay submitted for CMI (after doing no academic work for 20 odd years, major stuff)
  • Iris started school
  • Iris learned to swim
  • Great family holiday
  • Great day trip to Guernsey with my mum
  • More de-cluttering
  • Launch of 2 major work projects
  • Spa day at Hotel de France
  • Had some difficult conversations
  • Gave up sugar (as in constantly grazing cakes, chocolate and biscuits) 
  • Passed CMI course! And loved my Cohort, new friends, best bit

So, what stands out from this list for me the most, as the biggest achievement, apart from the emotional wobble of Iris starting school?

It might surprise you.

Giving up the sugar. Seriously. It's been a revelation.

When I began 2017, one of the issues not on my list was "sort your skin out". I have been putting up with, for a couple of years now, eczema (particularly on my face) which seems to come and go with a life cycle and party schedule all of its own.

Eczema does not like me to:
  • drink white wine
  • go swimming
  • get stressed at work
  • have fun

So, in October, as I stood before my GP with a blotchy red face and feeling like I wanted to go at my elbow joints with wire wool, I was prepared to try anything.

After a short, mumbled confession on my part about processed foods, he advised me to try cutting down on sugar. I've made half hearted attempts at this in the past. It didn't last. This time, I snapped. And, since October half term (probably on reflection, not the best time to try this) - I have cut out sweets, chocolate, cake and biscuits out of my daily diet. (I'm not going to lie. At Christmas the Chocolate Orange made a brief and welcome return.)

For the first few days, I felt lethargic and odd that I couldn't turn to sugar, (thank God for crisps) but after a week, my stomach looked flatter and there was no 3 pm "afternoon slump" where I was desperate for 12 biscuits. And it carried on.

I haven't abstained completely, but I'm 98 per cent away from it, and I feel much, much better for it.

An unexpected bonus has been the steady shrinking of the "doughnut" on my belly.

I've also been impressed that, after many years, I've been able to say no to something which was a fast, easy fix, but was quietly and slowly doing me long-term damage.

So, while 2018 is still young....here's the challenge.....what's your sugar? What are you going to say no or yes to this year that'll stretch you, make you think differently? Is it waving goodbye to a toxic job, relationship, friend, lifestyle or mindset? Or saying hello to improving any or all of those things.

Here's mine:
  • Less spending
  • Less scrolling
  • Less sugar
  • Less stress
(why do they all begin with s?!)

  • More time with family and friends
  • More ambition
  • Not fearing change
  • More new friends
  • More experiences
  • More appreciation of what I have
  • More joy
  • Love being 40 come March!  I can't wait
  • More blogging: (Aside: my Christmas present from my husband was a fantastic computer, given to me on the promise that I blog more....)

That little lot sounds a lot sweeter than sugar, yes? :)

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