Day #519: What I learnt From 30 Days of No Sugar Challenge

On the 1st of November I wrote about my commitment to take a 30 days of no sugar challenge. If you remember from my first posts that this was how I started this blog in the first place.

Like all challenges, they are easy when you make them. More importantly, if that commitment is to abstain from doing something you always do, it’s easy when you don’t have the opportunity to do that thing. But we all know how this works, once you decide you don’t want to do something, it’s as if the universe got a message, suddenly you start getting more opportunities to do this thing.

In my case, right after I started this challenge I started getting invitations to birthday parties and people expect you to eat the cake they give you. So you are starring at cakes at birthday parties and everyone is wondering why you are not eating cakes. In some cases it’s chocolates from friends returning from a trip. So the challenge becomes: Should I reject the cakes, chocolates, drinks and say I am on a ‘No Sugar Challenge’, or should I accept them and give other people or just accept them I keep them till the end of the challenge? As you can guess,with chocolates I went with the later.

Here is what I learnt:

1. It’s always hard in the beginning: The first days after you start a challenge are the hardest. And I will admit I forgot I was on a ‘No Sugar Challenge’ on one or two occasions after drinking a bottle of soda. Then quickly put myself back on track.

2.People won’t understand at first: Every time I had to turn down cakes, chocolates or drinks in the office or on social events with friends and I had to explain why, they never got it. You will get a lot of  blank stares and a lot, ‘whys?’.

3.Consistency is key: The argument on how many days it takes for a habit to stick is an ongoing one and I do not intend to contribute to it. Most Psychologists say it takes 21 days for a habit to be locked in and most people have said it takes more. What I know is, if you do something consistently enough, you would soon forget what it was like not to have been doing that thing. I have written this blog for more than 500 days I can’t even imagine how it would feel like not to write in a day. Try to be consistent with the challenge and you can go all the way.

4.Reward yourself: Our brains like reward. Because we associate everything we do with a pain/pleasure mechanism. If you convince your brain it’s a pleasurable thing to stay away from sugar or to exercise, soon it would start prompting you to do more of that thing. Every day I stayed away from sugar I rewarded myself with fruits, good food or something I like. Don’t wait till the end of the challenge. Reward yourself every time you take a step forward.

5. You learn a lot about your habits: One of the things doing  a challenge teaches you is to understand yourself more. Especially as it relates to your habits. During the course of this challenge I realized how my afternoons right after lunch was dependent on sugar. I always had a drink of soda to get back into rhythm and get back to work. I simply substituted that need for soda  which is a much healthier option.

In conclusion, 30 days without sugar might look like a very easy thing to do until you try. It’s 1st December tomorrow. What are you going to do in December??

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