At the end of October I wrote a post about how I was going to give up sugar and wheat for the month of November, to see if either of those things had an influence on my ability to focus, concentrate and be productive.
So I set myself the challenge of having no sugar and no wheat for the entire month of November. I called it NOvember. (And I was pretty chuffed with that moniker, so don’t mock it! :-))
Since today is the last day of NOvember, let me catch you up on how that all went.
Was I able to maintain NOvember?
Going into the NOvember challenge I was pretty nervous. I’ve tried to reduce sugar before but would always get hung up on having a sugar in my coffee. And then of course giving up sugar meant giving up chocolate. And dessert.
And no wheat meant no bread, no stuffing, no crackers with my blue cheese.
I’m not going to keep you in suspense because I’m happy to report that … dum da da dah…..
I have not had any refined/processed sugar or wheat, this whole month.
I’m pretty proud of that. But… this gonna sound weird, I also feel like I may have cheated a bit. Why? Well, because it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be?!?
I came into this preparing myself for a battle of willpower, thinking that I’d have to be really strong for at least the first week or two, and then maybe, I’d find it easier. But as it was, it was much easier than I was anticipating.
There’s a few things, that I didn’t do on purpose, but I think they are what made this challenge easier than I was expecting:
- I announced the challenge here on the blog. Knowing that I had made the commitment to a group of people helped to keep me on track. Admittedly, this group of people (reading this blog) isn’t exactly huge (yet) but it was still out there.
- I (accidentally) shared the post where I talked about it, on my personal facebook page. Ummm, so yeah, I basically announced it to all my family and friends too. How’s that for accountability!
- No sugar and no wheat was one of the tick boxes on my November habits checklist. Being able to tick those off my check list each day made it easier to just deal with one day at a time. If I was offered a chocolate biscuit my usual thought pattern would have been: ‘oh go on, it doesn’t matter, you can just start tomorrow’. But with this challenge my thought was: ‘Hell no! I’ve got 15 successive checks on my habits checklist. I’m not ruining my run for one of your crumbly, stale, packet biscuits. Don’t give me that rubbish! If you’re going to tempt me, tempt me with something gooood!’ or something like that. Now if it had been home-baking that I’d been offered, that might have been a different story.
- We didn’t have ANY social engagements. Didn’t meet up with friends, go and see family or anything. I think that if I had been offered some food that had been prepared by a loved one, I don’t know that I would have been as quick, or sure, to say no. (And I think it’s got everything to do with how we don’t want to offend other people by rejecting food that they’ve prepared for us).
- I had already begun drastically reducing my sugar intake for a couple of weeks prior to the challenge. In October, I had told myself (but just myself) that I wasn’t going to eat any sugar; but there were a couple of times where I had a dessert while out to dinner, and one time where I couldn’t resist a stick of glorious pink and fluffy candy floss (fairy floss/cotton candy).
So… what are the results of my NOvember? Well, let me tell you…
- Massive reduction in cravings. Thank. Goodness. In previous sugar reduction experiments I’ve laboured through the detox process and then succumbed to the intense ‘need’ for chocolate. But this month, after the first week or so, I have not had those ‘panic attacks’ for food.
- I always thought that I had a big problem with emotional eating. Well, now that the cravings are gone, it’s been easier to identity when I wanted to eat because of my emotions rather than my hunger. And it’s only been 2 or 3 times. Not everyday like I thought. I think that what I thought was emotional eating, was really just me giving in to my cravings. (That’s just my opinion of course. I don’t know anything about emotional eating or the psychology of it all)
- Less headaches! Actually, none! I used to get headaches every now and then and I always thought it was because I hadn’t drunk enough water, or I was maybe more addicted to coffee than I realised. Since stopping sugar, I’ve not had any. That’s a pretty clear one to me.
- I think I’ve had less tummy issues. Less bloating… maybe. It’s a bit hard to tell because I’ve got so much stuff going on with endometriosis that I can’t clearly define what’s what. And this month has been a doozy in that department. (Think 3 week period, and aching ovaries. :-/ TMI?)
- No sugar, no wheat = no weight-loss.
Yep, there’s been no weight loss for me. I’ve fluctuated within a 1.5kg range for the whole month which is normal for me, but I haven’t lost any weight. I’m a bit confused by that. Nay, I’m totally bamboozled.
Note: I went into this challenge quite determined (in my head) that this was not about weight loss. Yes, I do need to lose a lot of weight simply for my own health, but I knew that if I focussed on the weight loss instead of just the no sugar, I would lose my way. It was always about being free from the grip of sugar, and in that respect, this has been a resounding success.
I’m not gonna lie, I am quite disappointed that I have not lost any weight BUT, this has not, in any way, made me think that the challenge wasn’t worth it. It was so worth it, just to be free from the cravings.
Yeah but what about the ability to focus, concentrate and be productive?
You can see that I haven’t exactly been scientific in my approach to this challenge so I don’t know how to quantify how my brain/mind feels after this challenge.
But I do feel like my brain is clearer. I think that I’ve been able to focus better. And I definitely have been more productive this month. I have written more (on this blog) and I’ve been much better at just getting straight onto the tasks at hand. I’ve had a running To Do List where things have been put on the list and actually crossed off at the end of the day because they got done!
So yes, I think that NOvember has definitely helped to clear my head and get back the ability to focus and concentrate.
From here one in?
I’m going to have something sweet in the next few days, probably chocolate. I’m curious to see how my taste buds like it. But other than that, I’m going to remain off the sugar until Christmas. I want to remain ‘no sugar’ for the rest of my life, but I’m just going to take it one step/goal at a time.
I’m going to test myself with some wheat. I suspect that wheat hasn’t been causing me stomach issues like I thought, but I’m going to test myself on some toast, probably this weekend. (I have to wait until my other tummy pain settles down or else I won’t know what on earth is going on!)
So there you go.
In my mind, this challenge was a raging success.
Have you ever noticed the influence that food has on your ability to think clearly?