Monthly Archives: January 2016

Life After 21 Days of No Sugar and Carbs

When I started this journey, I can’t lie I wasn’t sure I was going to make it the whole three weeks. The first week was hard – the sugar withdrawal gave me headaches and I kept wanting to have a piece of bread or rice with my dinner. Trying to figure out new recipes, spending more time planning meals and having to read ingredients all the time felt daunting in the beginning.

Thankfully I wasn’t on my own on this journey. Along with a group of my girlfriends who were also detoxing with me, we shared recipes, healthy snack options and words of encouragement. Honestly, I wouldn’t have made it without them.

By week two I started seeing the benefits of the detox and began to enjoy it.

Here are some of the benefits that I noticed –

More energy in the AM – In the past, I used to hit the snooze button at least three times each morning. However now, I can get up in the morning with ease and I don’t feel groggy. The need for caffeine to wake up is gone. I’m alert and more focused than I’ve ever been in the mornings.

Less dependent on coffee –  I love coffee. I’m genetically entwined to good coffee but whenever I feel lethargic I’ve needed a cup of coffee to keep me going. With this detox, I’ve had to take sugar and milk out of my coffee and drink it black. It was an adjustment so I stuck to one a day. During the first week when the headaches were strong, I thought I’d need another coffee when that 3pm wall hit, but I just snacked properly and drank lemon water. I found that helped and soon I didn’t need coffee as an energy boost at all.

Clearer skin – Following a binge on chocolate, coffee and carbs over the holidays my skin was less than kind to me. Having darker skin, the pimples that do appear love to leave a souvenir of a dark scar. As a reminder to always stay humble. However since cutting out sugar completely, my skin hasn’t had any breakouts and the hyper pigmentation has gone down. My skin is noticeably smoother and glowed up.

Clear thinking – My job is busy and can be stressful at times. I love what I do but I need to be constantly present and ready to put out as many fires as I can in one day. Having too much sugar impacted my performance at work. Too much sugar can cause “free radical damage and inflammation of the brain…making it hard to think clearly.” Having too much sugar such as in fruit juices, low fat snacks and/or carbs can lead to higher blood sugar levels that “trigger the release of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol which can lead to feelings of anxiety and further impair your thought processes.”

Overall this detox has become more than a dietary modification. This is now a permanent lifestyle change. I’m going to keep this up and only allow myself to have sugar and carbs once a week as a treat if I ever need to treat myself. I’ve already done 21 days, so I know I can do it. But without setting myself up for a deadly binge, I want to allow myself one day a week as a ‘get out of jail’ card just in case.

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So this is pretty much how I’m feeling right now, knowing I conquered this detox and can keep going.

If you’re thinking of also cutting sugar and carbs out of your diet, know that it is definitely doable. There are so many tools and resources online to help you find easy recipes, tips to cut sugar cravings and lists of benefits to keep you motivated.

They Finally Discovered Canada

I’ve traveled quite a bit throughout the US and Europe and the differences between the two are as vast as the Atlantic ocean separating them. My favourite difference is the reaction I get from folks when I tell them I’m from Canada. In Europe, folks will actually name off cities they know and have visited. They know Toronto and can share stories of visiting our beautiful city in the summer.

When in the US, I’d often get a surprised look. “Really, wow that’s far!”, said by a New Yorker. “I didn’t know there were black folks up there” was said to me while in Memphis one time. Especially in the early 2000s, I often met folks in the US who had never traveled to Canada let alone met any Canadians. But in my recent trips, things have changed.

In my most recent trips to the US, folks told me directly they love Toronto and can name actual landmarks they’ve visited. What caused this sudden change? What made Canada, more specifically Toronto for my experience, more attractive to our louder than life cousins south of the border?

What got me thinking about this today was an article I read from the New York Times called ‘With The Rise of Justin Trudeau, Canada is Suddenly…Hip?’. The added question mark got me. Because the cold North couldn’t be anything but Labatt drinking hockey players, right? After a while the stereotypes and narrow thinking must get tiring.

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I’m not going to quote too much from that sadly written and hyperbolic article, but to sum up the writer concludes that the prince Justin Trudeau has taken us out of our dark ages and made us all magically cool to the world…something like that.

But to me, what caused the tides to change in the eyes of the US arts media when it comes to us is that we stopped caring. For so long, Canadian artists especially musical acts were expected to emulate their successful American counterparts. And with the rise of Drake, who uses his  awkwardness and eloquence to his advantage giving him a competitive edge, we are now seeing more artists who are abandoning the old scripture and forging their own path. The sounds of The Weeknd, Majid Jordan and producer Wondagurl to name a few are unlike any south of the border and that’s what makes them coveted. And that’s what’s got them looking our way wondering how we ‘all of a sudden got hip’.

Nah fam, we been hip!

 

Sugar Addiction Is Real

Over the Christmas/New Year holiday, I was blessed with time off work. I had so many grand plans of catching up on errands, gym time, trying out new recipes and other life enhancing tasks. But as I said goodbye to my office for a week, I left with boxes of chocolates that were handed out as gifts. This was the first step that led to my destruction.

So now I have time off work and way too much chocolate on hand. This deadly combo caused  postponed errands, endless hours of Netflix and way too many naps. The intense surge of sugar in my system led to roller coaster crashes causing me to nap at all hours, heavy lethargy and break outs all over my face. What a way to start the New Year.

While venting away to a close girlfriend she mentioned she was starting a 21 Day Sugar Detox. The exact remedy I needed! She sent me the list and I was energized to get started. What really got my attention was the list of indicators that your blood sugar might be out of balance –

  • Cravings for sugar, sweets and bread products
  • Fatigue after eating a meal
  • Getting lightheaded if missed a meal
  • Eating sweets doesn’t relieve the craving for sweets
  • Dependence on coffee to keep going
  • Difficulty losing weight

The first three and the need for coffee are exactly what I go through all the time. Seeing this list made it imperative I do something to get my blood sugar in check. Diabetes runs in my family.

The desire to shake off the cloud of fatigue and to clear up my skin was so strong, I didn’t thoroughly look over the list of foods that I was about to swear off for three weeks. And the list of foods to avoid is LONG! I pretty much didn’t have a lot of items to pick up at the grocery store.

Thankfully I’m not alone in this detox. My girlfriend reached out to a group of her friends and they also joined the detox. We’ve created a text messaging group to support one another. We share recipes, tips and jokes on how much we’re over eating eggs. Thank goodness for them because the first few days were rough. The sugar withdrawal had the headaches extra strong. That 3pm sugar wall is harder than ever and trying to cook in a whole new way feels daunting but there is strength in numbers. Having that community to reach out when the frustration kicks in or just to hear stories makes it easier.

Week one done so far and 2 more to go. I’ll be done on Jan 27th. And I can say that right now, I know this is going to lead to a lifestyle change. The new meals I’ve made are great and easy to duplicate, I prefer my coffee black now and I’m loving how much easier it is to wake up in the morning. It feels great to have energy throughout the day and not always feel that I need to take a nap after work. The breakouts have subsided and I can’t wait to see what the results are like at the end of the three weeks.

Have you tired a detox of some sorts? Have you changed your diet for health reasons recently? Let me know some of your tips.

 

Leo Forever Has My Heart

When an actor reaches a certain echelon, they don’t need to do interviews or the regular press junkets anymore. Their name alone holds weight when their latest film comes out.

This is true of Leonardo DiCaprio. As the buzz of his Golden Globe winning film The Revenant increases daily, Leo recently appeared in Esquire magazine in photos only. Not that I’m complaining. Leo is gorgeous and won my heart even more during his acceptance speech at last night’s 73rd annual Golden Globe awards. He did the usual thank yous but then spoke about the importance of having real indigenous actors in the film,  the importance to honour native culture and that it is time we all work together with their community to save the earth from corporate greed.

Reminiscent of when Marlon Brando boycotted the Academy Awards when he won for The Godfather and in his place stood Sacheen Littlefeather, an actress and Native American activist, who gave his declinatory speech. That was 1973 and she was booed.  When Leo spoke last night there was applause but let’s not feel that we have made that much progress. There is still a lot more work to do when it comes to alleviating the struggle of indigenous communities all over the world.

‘The Get Down’ Trailer

Back in April 2015, I told you guys about an upcoming TV show for Netflix coming from the extraordinary Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet) called The Get Down.

The trailer has come out and as if I needed another reason to be attached to Netflix, I’m looking forward to seeing how Baz entwines his knack for the fabulous and the story of hip hop’s birth in the south Bronx in 1979.

Right now there are 10 episodes slatted to come out this year but no date has been set yet. Keep an eye out for it and enjoy the trailer below.