Addicted to Sugar

About a week ago or so there was a nutrition brief that Jeanne got setup for all of the people she trains. We gathered in a conference room at the Health Promotions building on base to listen to the on-base nutritionist. I’ve been reading all sorts of books, articles and studies about nutrition for years – out of interest for my own body and health – and thought I wouldn’t hear anything new. I was wrong! I heard one thing that has ROCKED my world!

The nutritionist opened by stating that as a nation we are all hopped up on sugar! LOL! She had my attention – me having my own sugar demons that I must give semi daily sacrificial virgins to keep their mind controlling hunger pangs at bay.

Here is what was the most interesting and the most vital piece of information (for me) – Carbohydrates breakdown into glucose – not immediately but after the carb goes into your intestines and is broken down into a liquid.

So here’s the skinny:

(1) It puts the food in its mouth! Imagine the carbohydrate is a linked chain. Each link of the chain is a monosaccharide (mono=single, saccharide = sugar) and several links would be a polysaccharide (poly = several, saccharide = sugar). Chewing your food up is like cutting up this chain into separate chunks and the saliva breaks it down chemically. Here is where the poly becomes a mono.

(2) It swallows the food! In the stomach our food hangs out and parties for about 4 hours before it is truly worn out and broken down for further digestion. The stomach muscles go all disco on the food using contractions of the stomach muscles to break it down into a semi-liquid called chyme. Picture chyme as short chunks of chains composed of 5 links each. These short chunks facilitate the breakdown of carbohydrates in the small intestine.

(3) In the intestines the chyme is slowly released from the stomach – here the breakdown that started in the mouth is done. NOW – Enzymes from our pancreas come out to play w/ the chyme. The enzyme breaks down the small chunks of carbohydrates into individual links = they are now monosaccharide. Monosaccharide, or better known as glucose, are taken up by the cells of the intestines and go into the bloodstream.

ARE YOU STILL WITH ME? So basically we just ate some carbs and now our tummy is passing it along to our intestines and it has gone from carbs to chunks, to liquid to sugar.

(4) Now that we have made carbs into glucose – we experience a bit of a spike in the amount of glucose in our blood. This influx of glucose causes the pancreas to release insulin, which is a hormone that plays a major role in our metabolism – that is where our liver comes in.

(5) In addition to using glucose as a source of energy (yee-haw) it also stores the excess (over consumption or low activity levels cause this) glucose as glycogen (another form of sugar). Glycogen is later converted back to glucose between meals to be used for energy if our sugar levels go down.

(6) Fat cells take up glucose from the blood and convert it into ATP (adenosine triphosphate – this lives in the biochemistry of our muscles). When there is an excess of ATP, as in when we eat more than our bodies need, fat cells convert ATP to fat. This is why when we over eat or eat more frequently then we need to that our body fat increases and ultimately our body weight increases, along with risks for all sorts of medical/health issues.

(Credit to this medical website for that breakdown)

She explained all this to then explain how to read how much sugar is REALLY in something you are about to eat – and THIS info is what is haunting me! So when you look at a food label and it lists Carbohydrates (grams or %) and right below this is the Sugar (grams or %). Since we now know that carbs = sugar in our bodies we can deduce that the sugar listed directly below the carbs is the amount of ADDED SUGAR that is in this product to make our taste buds like it!

Do you get what I’m saying – this sugar is the extra they put in it to just make us like the taste of it more. Eventually our taste buds get so used to this extra sugar being in everything we eat – we no longer like the taste of things that are low in sugar or just have their natural sugars.

Yoplait = 27g of sugar

Snickers = 24g of sugar

Guess what else she told me???? The daily recommended amount of sugar is only 22 grams… My Yoplait yogurt has 27g of added sugar that is MORE than a Snickers bar. Now I look at all the labels and am just perplexed at how much added sugar is in EVERYTHING. So this should tell us easily  – why our nation is so obese even though we are all eating lower fat meals and trying to be smart about whole grains and such. We have replaced all the fat with sugar.

This being Easter weekend it made me realize just how focused our lives really are on sugar.

HeyHAPPY BIRTHDAY, here’s some cake, ice-cream and a box of chocolates and dinner out to your favorite place.

HeyHappy Easter, here’s a basket full of candy and fun festivities all centered around finding little eggs w/ more candy inside of them and then we’ll have a huge dinner in celebration.

Hey, Merry Christmas, here’s some pies, cookies for Santa (wink, wink), sweet potato casserole and so much more!

Hey, Happy President’s day lets go to the parade where people will throw fists full of candy at us and we’ll all compete to get the most candy possible and we all know someone in the office will bring bagels or donuts for this festive day!

Hey, Happy Halloween lets go trick-or-treating for bags full of candy.

All of our seasonal festivities, holidays, b-days, and any party atmosphere are focused around FOOD but mainly on desserts and treats for our taste buds. We are all hopped up on sugar all the time!

This reminds me of when I was a young adult and I thought that FUN meant DRINKING! It took me a long time and some harsh realizations to figure out that I don’t need to drink to have a fun time at a party or get together. And this is sort of like that – I don’t need to gorge myself on food and dessert or candy in order to fully ENJOY my food or to fully partake in the festivities of the event. How can I make sure that I get that message to my children?

I’m definitely not over my need to eat sweets – as I ate all of Nola’s Easter Candy (she only found 8 eggs)! But I am glad that I have this awareness now and feel that I am slowly on the path to recovery… ;o)

Training Updates:

Thursday: I was in a world of HURT on this day! Jeanne had me do rounds of 10 Burpees (the push-up/jump thing) and then a 400m sprint for (the goal was 10) 8 rounds. I didn’t like this at all and I’m pretty sure I said it out loud a few times. The point was to make me be in the world of hurt and still be focused and push through. I struggled. I hated the burpees the most. The runs weren’t so bad but only because I wasn’t pushing as hard as I should have. I’ve regretted it ever since. I hate feeling like I could have given more effort after a workout. It sticks with me for days.

I think my problem is that I push myself as hard as I have always BUT my threshold of lactic acid pain is getting higher and I am not pushing myself into that new area of ability to maintain. Does that make sense? So to people on the outside – I look like Ia m really giving a hard effort and for the Sarah that I was 4 months ago I am. But I am this new Sarah who is (I’m gonna brag a little) really a lot tougher/stronger than she was coming into this just a few months ago. Jeanne – if you’re reading this – I think my ass needs to be kicked just a little harder! Lol! I’m probably gonna regret saying that but I hate feeling like I should have pushed harder.

Saturday – didn’t make it out for my run. Rain all morning and then I had a helper (Jeanne’s super sweet daughter) come over to watch Nola so I could get some serious cleaning and homework done.

Sunday – Ran 7.5 miles on Kadena AFB – bad choice of route. I had seen (from the road) what looked to be a good path to run. I parked my car and headed out on this path and then it turned into a road and then it turned into a hilly mess. I was in a world of hurt – some of the hills were so steep that I had to walk and I was literally leaning forward with my head between my arms looking at my feet pushing up these hills! I had no idea where I was but as soon as I saw a main road I ran for it and continued the rest of my run on the main streets of the base. I severely underestimated the distance back to the car and ended up having to run all around another hilly residential area to make up the last 2 miles I needed to complete my run. I now realize I might have to start actually planning and mapping my routes before I run them!

Nutrition Updates:

I still love this Paleo way of eating. I made myself some super yummy poached eggs the other morning w/ 3 turkey sausage patties and half of an avocado sliced w/ a small glass of milk. I found the technique of how to do a real poached egg (not the microwave poached way) from a really cool blog called everydaypaleo dot com.Breakfast has mainly been different forms of eggs and sometimes sausage or ham as the main source of protein. My lunches have been salads w/ leftover meat from dinner tossed in. Dinner is always something new!

Fitness Milestones: I won my second Presidential Award for fitness and I am also 1/4 way done w/ the fitness “Summit Challenge” being held by Sempfer Fit on base. I signed up for the 500 miles in 12 months challenge!!

Miles ran this week = 12.51

YTD = 161.06


The Break Up

Well I did it… I went into my pantry, my refrigerator, and my freezer and got rid of it… I got rid of it all. I broke up with all the grains, pasta, and overall carbohydrates in my house. It was tough…I had cleaned out my pantry a few days before but I wasn’t completely ready to get rid of all of my whole grain paraphernalia.

Well, I am sure you are wondering how it all came about and how it all played out…

It went something like this…

ME: Hey, Carbsy

Carb: What’s UP bestie!

ME: we need to talk.

Carb: Oh, that’s never good – when someone says that…

ME: Look, we’ve had a good run…but it just isn’t working out anymore.

Carb: But Sarah, I can change…have you seen the new selection of Naan bread, pita’s and Quinoa at the Commissary?

ME: It’s too late. I’ve given this a lot of thought and well; it’s ME – not YOU.

Carb: Oh boy – heard that one before. Well, I was the best thing that ever happened to you – you’ll see.

ME: Yea, well…I guess some things just aren’t meant to be – physiologically.

Carbs: you’ll be back. You people always come crawling back. You’ll get an emotionally charged craving and go running for a KitKat or a French loaf freshly baked at the Commissary or think just a few croutons won’t hurt.

ME: You clearly don’t know me Carbsy – I thought you did – but you’ve been the problem all along and now that I see you in this light (bloating my intestines and inflaming my bowels) I can never look at you the same way again. Besides, I’m a Generation X’r… I was raised on Grunge Music and smoking to be cool. If I can quit those things and never look back…well, you’re already toast (pun intended)!

Ignore the Oats & Peanut Butter - I am making some no bake cookies for the Single Marines

I took some creative liberties here but you get the picture! It’s not easy to reverse you’re entire life’s worth of thinking about food and nutrition. I am not going FULL Paleo just because I cannot give up Dairy. My little girly still needs lots of calcium and I do to! I am just going to be cutting WAY back on our cheese and flavored yogurt intake. Baby steps!

Over the passed week I have been doing my best to stick closely to the Paleo theme of eating and finally when most of the food was depleted from the house I knew it was time to “go big or go home!” So I printed out the Week 1 Shopping List from Robb Wolf’s website for the 30 day challenge of eating Paleo and hit the Commissary. Mind you – I couldn’t find everything there but I found most – maybe 3-4 items I couldn’t get my hands on.

Got my spices all organized and out of the cupboard - found some yummy Macadamia Oil too

This has been tough – I think I had been a little moody from the lack of carbs, my body does not like this adjustment but my guts sure do! I haven’t been bloated at all. BUT…I think about chocolate a lot! LOL!

So far I have cooked and enjoyed everything that has been recommended on the 30 day challenge or from another Paleo Cookbook I bought.

Here are some examples of the foods I have cooked:


-Grilled Salmon, Roasted Green Beans, side salad

-Rotisserie Chicken, Steamed Broccoli, side salad


– Chicken Salad w/ Acocado’s, Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar (and Feta)

-1 lb. Chili Lime Shrimp, Side Salad

-5-6oz. deli turkey (rolled), ½ lb steamed broccoli, handful of nuts


-3 poached eggs, bacon, and fruit

I used a microwave poacher

-Scrambled eggs w/ a little milk and shredded cheese, bacon or avocado


-Jerky and unsalted Nuts

-Greek Yogurt w/ berries and drizzled w. honey

Training Updates:

Thursday: Met up with Jeanne at the gym for purely strength training. We went out back and she totally broke me off! We did a full body workout.

Jeanne’s Recap of today’s WOD and explanation of what a Tabata is: Today you did a Tabata working with kettlebells – core workout, upper body and legs – overall strength conditioning. Inner thighs may feel sore/tight – be sure to give them extra time to stretch and warm-up. 

A tabata is 20 seconds on (of work) 10 seconds off (rest) – you repeat for x amount of time 4 min, 8 min, etc. – 10 sec is enough time to let your body rest, but not enough time for your muscles to recover – also adds a cardio element to a strength exercise.

BIG NEWS THIS WEEK! I completed my 2nd 10K and a 5K – both with Nola in the new Baby Jogger.

FRIDAY: The 10K was held on the local Air Force Base and was a fundraiser for the American Red Cross’s effort to raise money for the Mainland Japan Relief Fund. The course was extremely hilly and some of the hills were very long. I ran alone (except for having the stroller) but there were several ladies there that I knew. I asked them to please not run w/ me as I wasn’t sure what sort of pace I would be able to maintain.

Jeanne had told me to just think of this as a training run and to take it easy…. Well, that is hard for me to do – my competitive juices get flowing and off I go! Also, there were lots of strollers – so there was a fair amount of equal competition! There were two people w/ strollers a head of me until about 3.5 miles into the race. They were running fast and when I finally reached them it was because the chick had to walk. I caught up with them just as they were running again and I made small talk about how hard they had been to catch! They were both pushing two kids. Within the next 3/10ths the chick bonked. I think the guy was pushing her to run faster than she was comfortable with and she couldn’t maintain that pace. I heard her start to cry and I looked back and told her to just breath through it, look at her front tire and just push! I kept running and didn’t see them again until after the finish.

I finished the race in 1:00.06 my friend Kelly, who had finished ahead of me, came back looking for me. She grabbed the stroller and was like, “See you at the finish – GO!” But she runs so fast that even though I was running solo now (3/10ths of a miles left) she was still right with me! Lol! So I finished with Kelly cheering me on and Nola getting to see me cross the finish line!

Here are my numbers
Mile 1 = 9:54
Mile 2 = 9:13
Mile 3 = 9:46
Mile 4 = 10:56
Mile 5 = 10:23
Mile 6 = 9:52

SATURDAY: Earth Day 5K – Woke up feeling really sore and stiff from all the previous hard work of the week. If I wouldn’t have told a new friend (Tricia!) I would be there I probably would have crawled back in bed that morning! Damn accountability!

Im in the white cap w. sunglasses on top - getting registered to run!

I decided TODAY will be a for real easy run. I left the Garmin at home and wasn’t worrying about pace or time. The morning was perfect for running! Cool and overcast! I prefer overcast mainly for Nola – I had to think she’s just sitting there baking in the sun while I run. I got there in JUST enough time to sign up and do a little bit of stretching but not my normal routine of stretching. When the race started I could feel how stiff I was. Tricia immediately pulled ahead and left me in her dust! I put my iPod on and just shuffled til my legs felt better and then I used that LONG down hill (the 5K is always the same route) as my recovery/warm up. Right after we finish the downhill we run through a residential area or about half a mile. When we hit the main road again it is a 90 turn up a VERY steep and very long hill (Marek Park). I wish I could get the elevation charts on the running route because this hill is unbelievable.

I just skipped my iPod to a super motivating song, leaned forward to be more on my toes and looked down at the front tire – dug in and PUSHED! The last time I ran this 5K was the weekend before I started working with Jeanne. I remember thinking that my effort to get Nola – my little shuffle/jog – was actually just as fast as a walkers pace – so I walked part of it and I was right…I was only jogging about as fast as I could have walked it! In other words – I was barely moving up that hill the last time.

THIS TIME – I was moving! I made that hill my bitch! After I got to the top I was in such a good groove I just kept up the good pace. At this point in the race there is only MAYBE a mile left. I just plugged away and started passing people. I finished in 29:40 and set a PR for my 5K w/ the stroller time!

After the race I felt great, I was trotting around cheering for other people and especially the little red-faced kids coming in for their finish! I drove home with the goofiest ear-to-ear grin! I was just so proud of myself. I just couldn’t believe that I had just ran a race, that kicked my butt just 4 months ago, and ended it feeling like I could go longer! I am really seeing what Jeanne has been talking about – building a strong base!

New Recipe:

I was totally amazed at this!

Tonight I made Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti – OMG! How crazy is it that a squash can be so amazingly similar to spaghetti! I have never really cooked w/ squash before so this is all new to me. Just another bonus of trying something new with the way I am fuel myself.

I couldnt hardly stop eating this!

Spaghetti Recipe:

1lb ground beef or turkey
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 (12oz) package of kelp noodles or one spaghetti squash 
1-2 C. Marinara sauce
1-2 cloves crushed garlic

Brown the meat in the Olive Oil using a large skillet. Once the meat is browned, add the noodles (or cooked spaghetti squash, see below) and the marinara sauce. Stir and bring to a simmer. Add the crushed garlic just before serving to maximize the health benefits.

If using the spaghetti squash: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Carefully split the squash lengthwise, then dig out the seeds. Place both halves face down on a baking pan, add 1/4 C. water. Bake for 30 minutes. Dig out the squash with a fork and add to your skillet with the meat.

Miles ran this week = 14.3

Miles ran YTD = 138.55