Confessions of an addict, part 1

Hi, my name is Sheena, and I’m an addict. It’s been hard to admit to myself and I’ve been in denial for quite some time. Although my addiction may seem trivial to some, it is something I battle with on a daily basis. I am addicted to sugar.

I consider myself to be pretty healthy overall; I workout daily, I utilize my nutrition background (90% of the time), and I know the basics of how to treat your body to perform optimally. However, “Knowing isn’t doing”. Just because I know what I should be doing, doesn’t mean I do all the time.

This holiday season, my sugar consumption was out of control. I went home for  6 days and while I rarely keep sweets in my house, my parents usually do a good job of keeping my favorites on hand: Banana Twins, Boston Crème Rolls, kettle cooked potato chips, shoe string potatoes, and homemade peanut butter cookies with the little chocolate kiss in the center, just to name a few. My first mistake was to give into temptation and eat the Banana Twin, which sent the “oh $*%& you’ve been depriving me of this” signal to my brain, naturally releasing dopamine, and the feel good sensory reaction to follow.

Dopamine- the neurotransmitter which controls the brain’s response to reward and pleasure centers, and linked to many forms of addiction: drugs, alcohol, food, sex, etc.  I could geek out for a few minutes and tell you all about dopamine and the neurological effects it has but here’s a good video from NPR that is informative and easy to follow.

When I returned from the holiday hiatus, I knew I needed to get my diet back on track. This is the hardest I’ve ever fallen off the wagon, and it showed.  My energy was at an all-time low, my performance at the gym was less than stellar, and I just felt….fat. I had no intention to sign up for the nutrition challenge offered by my gym, but I knew I needed something drastic to kick my habit. A group of friends and I decided to go cold turkey and kick our sugar habit by signing up for the challenge. The challenge consists of 2 weeks of Whole 30 followed by 6 weeks of Eat To Perform. As advised, I’m only doing one week of Whole 30 because I’m competing in 2 weeks and can’t afford to be lethargic pre-competition.

With that said, I’ve decided to document my daily struggles: the highs and lows associated with detoxifying my body over the next 8 weeks. I’ll write daily and publish these articles every Sunday for the remainder of the challenge.  *Keep in mind I’m writing at different points throughout the day and the flow may not be cohesive, if you will.

Day 1 of Whole30

I was proactive last night and tossed together some meals for the 1st day of the Whole30 challenge. While feeling restricted and not having any direction on what I wanted to make, here is my meal plan for today:

Breakfast 7:45 am:

  • 2 organic, sunny-side up eggs with homemade sweet potato hash browns. I used 1 tsp coconut oil to lather the pan and drank black coffee.

Snack 10:30 am:

  • Had a 10am snack which consisted of 1 serving Blue Diamond Almonds and a regular Dole Banana. Cup 2 of coffee.

It is currently 11:00am and although I’m not hungry, I’m lethargic. I’m tired, my eyes don’t want to stay open and I could use MORE coffee.  Maybe it’s a case of the Monday’s or perhaps it’s because I haven’t had any sugar. It’s too soon to tell.

I’m tracking my caloric intake on and I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I feel so restricted- I only have 648 calories left for my ‘daily allotment’, which is based off a 1,200 calorie per day diet. I feel like that is ridiculously low for the 2-a-day training I’m doing between my normal Crossfit wod’s and my strength and conditioning programming. I really hope this caloric deficit doesn’t negatively affect my training regimen, but fear it will based on the knowledge I have on the days when I used to be  a nutrition coach.

Lunch time:

  • Pot roast, white potatoes (yes) and carrots. Delicious!!! However, I’m only left with 256 calories and I still have dinner and another snack left for the day.

I’m worried that I’m not getting enough fuel today. Normally I eat every 2-3 hours and generally 6 or more times per day. So far, I’ve only eaten 3 times and only have 256 calories to spare- I guarantee I go over this allotment today. I don’t think it’s enough for my body to get through my normal daily workouts and activities.

It’s 1:30pm and I’m still feeling full from lunch, thankfully!

I finished up the day with a 3 oz beef sirloin along with chopped sweet potatoes roasted in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and cinnamon. Those actually tasted pretty good and I’m shocked I’m saying that. Based on this, I somehow managed to be ‘under’ the 1200 calorie restriction, which surprises me immensely.

Day 2:

Breakfast today was fantastic! I got creative in the kitchen and mixed up an egg scramble. The best part, I’ve got leftovers for tomorrow! Yes!

Breakfast 7:45am:

  • Egg Scramble: 2 organic eggs, scrambled into homemade sweet potato hash browns, green peppers, red peppers, yellow peppers, jalepeno peppers, white onion, spinach and broccoli. I lightly sautéed this in 1 tsp organic coconut oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a bit of Mrs. Dash table blend.

Snack 10:00am:

  • Same as yesterday. I’m keeping it simple until I hit the grocery store later this evening.

It’s now almost noon, and I’m getting hungry for lunch. Today I brought a 3 oz beef sirloin with steamed broccoli and carrots. I made extra sweet potatoes last night but either my roommate or dog at them so they’ve gone rogue for the time being.

2:00PM: One thing I really miss….. Scratch that, the two things I really miss are CHOCOLATE and Scratch Cupcakes. I don’t even eat Scratch Cupcakes that frequently, but man, I’d seriously LOVE one right now.  So instead of longing for the chocolate, sugar, and goodness of a cupcake, I’ll drown my thirst with good ol’ fashioned, H2O.

8:45PM: I’ve again somehow managed to come in under the 1200 calorie goal per day, which makes me think I’m not eating enough. I feel full throughout the day and I know I’m receiving nutritionally dense food, but the calorie number is bothering me. I think I’ll figure out how to adjust it in My Fitness Pal.

 Day 3

As of this morning, I’ve noticed my skin is starting to break out, which is not normal for me. I’m fortunate to have very clear skin 99% of the time, with the one exception per month, compliments of Mother Nature.  Perhaps this no sugar business is detoxifying my body more than I thought.

 8:00AM: This morning started off excellent. I decided to make a similar thing as yesterday, but instead of putting the eggs in it to make a ‘scramble’ I sautéed all of the veggies and then made 2 separate over medium eggs in another skillet. The results, ahh-mazing.

10:15AM: I continued to have my 10am snack and lunch around 12:30. Lunch left me feeling full and satisfied as I ate half of the lemon pepper chicken breast and all of the backed sweet potatoes with cinnamon.

Currently, it’s 2:45pm and I’m crashing, HARD. I need coffee, a nap, or both. What started out as an excellent day has turned into an emotional rollercoaster; I can barely keep my eyes open and am getting crabbier by the minute. Hopefully I’ll get my 2nd wind at 4:30, when I’m free to leave my job, which is partially the culprit for my crabbiness and desire for caffeine in the afternoon.

9:00PM After leaving work, I headed home and took a 20 minute nap. I was exhausted. I woke up feeling somewhat better and hit competition class, which turned out to be a pretty great workout considering the lack of energy I was exuding. I made my dinner and tried to fall asleep early, which didn’t happen. I’m having a difficult time falling asleep and staying asleep through the night.

Day 4

I figured out how to update my caloric goals in My Fitness Pal today, so I upped my caloric intake to 1700 calories per day. There is something about the 1200 calorie number that made me feel so restricted. You’ve probably noticed by now, I don’t handle restrictions well.

I’m getting rather good at coming up with delicious breakfast options. The rest of my day is pretty boring regarding my food options and I’m seeing I’m eating the same things over, and over. Luckily I only have 3 more days on Whole 30 before transitioning to Eat 2 Perform.  I realized I used to grab my favorite protein bars (Quest Bars) for snacks prior to starting this Whole 30 journey. Man, I miss eating those bars.

This is my 4th day at the gym without any pre-workout supplementation and I can see I’m not as lethargic and relying on it to get me through, which is pretty refreshing.

Day 5

Praise Bob Harper for feeling my pain and struggle.

Praise Bob Harper for feeling my pain and struggle.


Remember yesterday I mentioned I wasn’t relying on my pre-workout and was less lethargic? LIES! ALL LIES! Today I decided to workout at 5am, for a reason unbeknownst to me. Sans pre-workout and  waking up around 4:15 am, I was dragging. I was in bed by 9pm (another first) last night so I had adequate rest. The 5am class time without being properly caffeinated is not recommended, friends.

It’s Friday, and my breakfast was on point again this morning. Last night I boiled some REGULAR potatoes in lieu of sweet potatoes, for the first time in 5 days. I was excited to eat them, but they taste kind of bland by themselves without the butter; however, paired nicely in my breakfast skillet this morning.

Breakfast 8:00am:

  • Breakfast skillet- sautéed green peppers, red peppers, yellow peppers, white onion, spinach, kale, broccoli and white potatoes in coconut oil.
  • 2 over medium eggs were cooked in a separate pan with coconut oil
  • The eggs were served over the skillet, cut up the eggs and enjoy the entire meal. Every, last, bite.

Snack 10:00am- I’m really creative for breakfast but my snack game sucks.

  • I serving of whole natural almonds
  • 1 banana

10:45AM: Returning from a mid-morning meeting, my co-worker so graciously stood up, stretched, yawned, and announced, “I need sugar”. He proceeded to grab some candy and eat it in front of me, knowing I’m on a no-sugar diet. Are you kidding me? How rude!  I don’t care what you eat, but don’t prance around me and try to make me ‘jealous’. Eff you, buddy. Eff you.

12:25PM: I feel like I’m being tested today. Someone just bought our team pizza, breadsticks, and cinnamon things. Although I’ve never been a huge fan for pizza, (with the exception of taco pizza), I wouldn’t have eaten it anyway, but the fact that I’m told I can’t eat it, makes me want to. It’s safe to assume I have a problem with being told what to do. (Hint: If you want me to do something, tell me I can’t do it).

2:00PM: I walked away from the glorious smell of the za, and decided to do some retail therapy over my lunch hour. I just ate my lunch and for the first time in my life, I can say sweet potatoes were pretty damn good. I’m shocked. I never thought I’d say that.

2:37PM: I’m crashing HARD again. I’m full from lunch and need a nap. My co-worker is agitating me and I’m trying to be polite by putting in my headphones but he keeps doing stupid stuff to mess with me. Seriously, I’m not in the mood to be bothered, again.  I’m having another episode of rollercoaster emotions. It’s probably a good thing I’m currently single because the high and lows I’ve experienced this week are unpredictable, and I hate not being in control of how I feel.

I ended the day with the remainder of the lemon pepper chicken breast I cooked earlier in the week with sweet potatoes. I started looking for more creative recipes and came across a blog called “The Clothes Make The Girl” and has some great recipe options. Tomorrow, I’ll be hitting the grocery store for ingredients to make more creative meal plans.

Day 6

It’s Saturday morning and my alarm was screaming at me at 8:30am. I went to bed at 11:45pm last night so I had adequate sleep, but I woke feeling lethargic. I have no energy this morning and I need to make some breakfast. As I lay here in bed, making food feels like work- can I hire a chef? If I had 3 wishes, a fabulous chef would be one of them.  Speaking of which, I just received a group text message regarding swapping food and bartering- 2 homemade sauces up for grabs from the gym wife. Score! If you’ve ever had her family’s tomato sauce recipe, you know it’s made from scratch and legit.

I’ve realized a few things today. For starters, this is the first weekend of the Whole 30 challenge and I failed to plan for the weekend properly. Saturday’s and Sunday’s routine are very different from my week; I sleep in a few extra hours, hit the gym, and generally sew, hang out, go out, run errands, etc. I didn’t take that into consideration last night and although today’s the BEST I’ve felt since we started Whole 30, here are a few things I noticed:

  • I haven’t had enough water throughout the day
  • I didn’t eat at my scheduled meal times
  • I didn’t think about food or water much today apart from breakfast

Most of the statements above can be attributed to my focus in the sewing room today. Because I was focused on things I actually enjoy (sewing, lifting), I didn’t think about food much at all, which is shocking! It’s known that I think about food all the time, and today I figured out why- I’m bored out of my mind at my 9-5 job so naturally I think about the things that help get me through it (i.e. sweets, candy, sugar, junk food, etc).

I was in my sewing groove from 9am-8pm and time seemed to fly by. I was interrupted by my on occasion by my sweet dog, who wanted some attention and to be let outside to chase squirrels. It was only during those times I realized, ‘I should probably eat something’. That is HUGE. I’ve realized I’ve been emotionally eating junk food at work because I’m bored out of my mind and love how the dopamine makes me feel. BOOM. LIFE CHANGING MOMENT.

Are you following Bob Harper on Instagram? If you’re not, you should. He’s started the Whole 30 challenge and he too, is expressing mood swings and struggles. His latest posts made me giggle:


Bob Harper is experiencing #moodswings also while doing #Whole30

Bob Harper is experiencing #moodswings also while doing #Whole30

We’re in this together, people!!

Day 7

Today is MY final day doing whole 30 and I couldn’t be happier. I felt very good today; strong, energized, and ready to conquer the world. I made a scrumptious breakfast and hit up open gym. In addition, we met with Meghan after open gym and was educated on Eat To Perform, which begins tomorrow. I couldn’t be more excited!

I get to add some things back into my diet: some dairy, rice, oatmeal, and gluten free granola, to name a few. For those who know me, you know I’m lactose intolerant and allergic to rice and avocado, so those ‘additions’ didn’t make me jump for joy. However, I am allowed to eat couscous as a rice substitute, winning!

We figured out our precise macronutrients toady as well, which is completely new for me and I’m stoked to try it out. My calorie consumption will go up, by about 551 calories, making my caloric intake roughly 2251 per day.  Did I mention we have to weigh all of our food? Another first for me. I bought a food scale and am ready to go!

In addition, I had to laugh out loud at Bob Harper’s Instagram post today:

 Whole 30 day 7

7:30PM: I’ve spent the last 3 ½ hours in the kitchen, meal prepping, measuring EVERYTHING with my food scale and prepping meals for the week ahead. The food scale is slightly overwhelming but hopefully it will become less daunting and more routine over the weeks ahead. I went into today’s kitchen prep with a versatile game plan and have come out VICTORIOUS! Onward march to ETP tomorrow!


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