Dear Sugar… Get Lost

If it wasn’t for Dr. Mark Hyman, I would be beating myself up right now (if you’re not familiar with him please please please (!) spend some time online or in a bookstore reading about his push to get us healthier). Trying to figure out why I’ve gone back to a lethargic state lately, it finally dawned on me last night that my little nibble of dessert here and my little nibble of dessert there (“Oh but it’s summer.”  “Oh but it’s our anniversary.”  “Oh but I’m tired.  “Oh but it’s a Tuesday.”  You get the picture) actually equaled much more than just “nibbles” these last couple of weeks. I’m all for treating ourselves sometimes to a good piece of chocolate birthday cake or a summertime ice cream cone or a Thanksgiving apple pie, but somehow along the way, these “treats” didn’t just become treats, they became weekly occurrences (and one that I had worked so hard to contain).  Been there, done that, right?  But I can only speak for myself and say that for somebody living with cancer, what I eat, drink and think is pretty crucial to trying to stay healthy.

I remembered from my time at the Chopra Center that Dr. Hyman explicitly explained that our cravings for sweets are actually not our fault (phew!). I won’t bore you with the ins and outs of this (it’s all over the news), but recent studies have even shown that when rats are given the choice of cocaine or sugar, they will actually work eight times harder to get the sugar. Wow, that just blew my mind…

Now I’m not talking about anything crazy here, like making “fudge” with dates and almond butter (oh wait, maybe I am). I’m just talking about MINDFULNESS… (Remember, Dr. Hyman says that there is no such thing as junk food.  There is either junk, or food)…And then… Once we’ve gotten practice of that, thinking about how we want to feel throughout the day. As much as I try to be in-the-moment, today it occurred to me that if I could just fast-forward in my mind to how I’ll feel tonight when I get into bed, this forward-thinking may actually impact my daily decisions, and in turn, I may actually make better choices. For instance, do I want that cup of coffee, or do I want to see if I’m just dehydrated first? What will help me to sleep more restfully?  Easy peesy, right?  If only.  We’re all addicted to something, it seems.

So as I become more mindful again of how sugar makes me feel (blah, for one thing) I also try to take my own advice and just…slow…down. It’s even harder to do this week because we’ve just launched a new database system at work and everybody is, how do I say this? Well, freaking out. Information is lost, the system freezes and then crashes, nobody knows how to access files, people are holding on the phone lines and business is supposed to continue as usual…

Now what would I tell you if that was your work situation and you were stressed out, having trouble finding balance again in your life? I thought long and hard about it friends, and then I tried to incorporate a little bit of that guidance into my own situation.

I wish that I had the time to exercise and meditate this morning, but honestly friends, I just so love my sleep right now.  However, I didn’t turn on the radio this morning on the way to work, or grab a coffee absent-mindedly, or even have my phone out. I drove quietly to work and set my intention for the day, which has been my intention all week: To not miss the beautiful “little” things in life because of my work stress. To be in the car, and not at work (mentally).  Because of that intention, I was able to then notice that one whole street was lined with just golden-yellow leaves, and I wondered if the brilliant red leaves had been soaked up by all of this gorgeous fall sunshine.

When lunchtime rolled around, I was tempted to go out and get an iced coffee or just stay in my office and eat lunch at my desk. Part of the difficulty with lethargy from a lack of nutrition is that it’s similar to depression; a vicious cycle. When you don’t eat well you don’t feel well, and the worse you feel, the more you want to eat the sugary and heavy stuff.

But once I got out into the sunshine, I was so glad that I had stepped away from my desk. We are having probably one of the most beautiful autumn New England fall days here, and since my windows at work don’t open and it’s basically recycled air like a plane throughout our offices (yuck!), I just couldn’t have been happier sucking up that amazing fresh air!

Everybody is always talking about the beauty of nature, but rarely do I get the chance to focus on it. So I walked, and I listened, and I paid attention to what I heard, saw, and smelled. Wind chimes! Flowers! A bird singing that I had never heard the melody to before!

I don’t care if it sounds hokey, friends. It’s almost 3pm and as I sit here writing this, I actually don’t feel like I want to fall asleep at my desk, which is my usual afternoon MO after lunch.

So far, so good folks. But it’s only Day 1 of trying to cut out (most) sugars (again) and taking walks during lunchtime. Let’s see how I do tomorrow, and in the meantime, what’s your intention for today and can you see how it can benefit your overall mood, health and happiness?

Cheers to intentions, wind chimes, turning leaves, and slowing down,

Sam xo.

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