• Monika

Confessions of a sugar junkie aka ME

Many people assume that since I'm a Personal Trainer and a Nutrition Coach I eat chicken and broccoli out of tupperware containers and exercise every day but I want to say that I have been a sugar addict for most of my life.

So let's get real today.

My clients share their stories with me all the time, so it's time to return the favor. Below is a short version of my food story.

Most of you know that I grew up in Poland, moved to Scotland when I was 18 and then permanently to the US when I was 23.

Since I remember, all of my fond memories have been around food, mostly cakes, pastries, chocolate and pizza.

Growing up in Poland was like being constantly surrounded by the best pastries, breads, sausages, cheeses you can imagine, 24/7, unlimited.

I would always have white bread with cheese and honey for breakfast, more bread with cold cuts or cheese and fruit juice for lunch at school, fairly healthy dinner at home (meat, potatoes, overcooked vegetables), followed by a sweet pastries, donuts, cakes, ice cream or chocolate. EVERYDAY for 18 years. I even had a secret Belgian chocolate stash in my desk. At least I can say I have always been a chocolate snob.

It was a miracle that I didn't put on weight and my best guess is that it was due to following reasons:

1) I walked everywhere (everybody does) - 10,000 steps means nothing in Europe,

2) Since the first grade, we had 3 mandatory PE sessions a week at school, plus I played various sports after school,

3) I never ate when I wasn't hungry,

4) I never overate,

5) I spent most weekends at my grandfather's house/farm so besides the junk I did have very good access to freshest eggs, meat, fruits and vegetables.

Then at 18, I moved to Scotland to attend university.

I wanted to make it on my own, without help from my parents, so I got a job the second day I arrived, and lived on a very limited budget (I had an Excel spreadsheet with all my food expenses) of $45 a month, yes, a month.

All my college years I worked in food places, pizza places to be precise.

My little food budget was mostly spent on: bread, cottage cheese, honey, pasta, frozen meals, tomato sauce, chips and english tea biscuits. Plus I ate pizza at least 3 times a week for lunch or dinner because I could eat it for free at work.

This time around I wasn't so lucky. I still walked a ton, but I started to put on weight pretty quickly after having pizza on my work breaks (at 11pm) three times a week. The breaking point was when, during my work shift, I bent over, and my jeans (yes JEANS) ripped right on my butt. Oops...

Long story short, I got my s^%t together, stopped having pizza in the middle of the night and signed up for the gym. Lost the weight quickly by cutting calories and doing lots of cardio on empty stomach.

Then at 21, I had my first taste of the United States of America.

I worked full time in a country club and lived on club's property. I had no fridge in my room, and no easy access to a store, so I completely relied on the food being served by the cooks in the kitchen. You can imagine what kind of food they served, cheap and greasy American favorites: burgers, fries, french toast, pancakes, soda and lots of sandwiches.

I put on weight fairly quick, and again, as soon as I realized it, I started to exercise and cut down on the crap, and I went back to normal weight.

Then at 23, I moved to the US for good and this time around I wanted to make sure things would be different. I started to learn how to cook, eat out less, read about eating better, go for occasional runs, etc.

Since then, I changed my career, my diet and exercise habits have improved dramatically and I made my life goal to help people live healthier, but it wasn't until very recently that I realized that I was totally addicted to sugar.

I had some suspicions that there was something going on in my brain, but I never thought that strategically planning out sugar splurges, day-dreaming about nightly chocolate or planning trips based on pastry shops, was a red flag.

In the end of the day, I was healthy, lean and fairly fit. A little sugar can't be so bad, can it?

Moderation is key, right?

Do you know that saying "the darkest place is under the lamp?"

I thought that my food obsessions stem from the fact that I love to eat and that I'm in the line of work where I talk about it and read about it all the time.

Then I went added sugar free for about 6 weeks and everything changed. I didn't realize that my obsessive thoughts about food were coming from the fact that I was addicted to sugar. A small amount of sugar, yet so significant.

When I cut out all the remaining added sugar (nightly chocolate) in my diet I had a number of epiphanies.

My brain changed.

My cravings have changed (meaning 0 cravings!!!!)

My physiology changed.

My thoughts about food have changed.

If you are a sugar addict like me, moderation may not be good enough. Moderation was keeping me hooked.

And again, I didn't have a ton of chocolate every day but even that little bit was kryptonite for me.

That tiny habit made a huge difference!!

Don't believe me that moderation of all things is not always a solution?

Would you ever ask an alcoholic to moderate his alcohol intake?

Would you ask a cocaine addict to limit himself to 1oz a day?

The purpose behind this article is to let you know that I am not perfect. You are not the only one craving food, obsessing about food, day-dreaming about food. You are not the only one struggling. We all are.

What's your kryptonite? Mine is chocolate.

I can't say that I am totally sugar-rehabbed but I am getting there.

And I can help you.

I can help you deal with this stuff because figuring out this stuff is hard.

I'm passionate about helping people resolve their food and drink problems.

Let me help you.

Shoot me an email and let's start figuring things out together.

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