Tuesday, May 24, 2011

To be or not to be...sugar free

I have been wrestling off and on with the question of whether I should jump into the June 10-Day Sugar Free Challenge. You can read more about it from Amanda at Run to the Finish here. Basically it calls for giving up all sugars, syrups, sugar substitutes and fruit juice from June 1-10. The purpose is to reset your taste buds and get rid of sugar cravings, with the long term goal of reducing overall sugar consumption. It doesn't necessarily mean giving up all sugar, forever. The ten days is a sort of detox period, for your body, your taste buds, and your mind.

Now, in many ways I think this is a great idea and it would, in fact, probably be great for me. I do have a wicked sweet tooth and periodically I set out to shun sweets and desserts in hopes of conquering my sugary desires. In fact, I would say that I am almost constantly in a period of avoiding sweets, it's just that sometimes I am more successful than other times.

I know that giving up sweets would probably help me in my desire to lean up some (read, lose a few pounds) in order to improve my running. I would say that on many, if not most, days, I consume 300-400 calories that can be attributed to unnecessary treats (cookie, piece of cake, candy, etc.). That is not including the sugar calories that are in "allowed" sweets (a spoonful of honey* in my tea, a drizzle of maple syrup on greek yogurt). (I really don't eat as much sugar as this makes it sound!)

As far as sugar substitutes, I know it would not hurt me to reduce my consumption of Coke Zero.

With all that, you would think that I would enthusiastically jump on the Sugar Free bandwagon, wouldn't you? Plus, I love a challenge!

But...I think not. Probably not.

Why not? I have pretty good reasons and not so great reasons. I am not sure which is which. But....

  • Rod's birthday and my niece Eva's birthday fall right in the middle of the challenge. I suppose I could eschew all birthday cupcakes and other birthday desserts that are on offer that weekend (and eat strawberries), but honestly, I think that would be rather mean to the others involved. I know that Oprah didn't eat the cake at her 50th birthday party...but I bet she kind of regrets that now. I have declined desserts at some events, and will again, but it seems a little extreme to reject all special event desserts considering that I am not on a major weight-loss diet.

  • I always put two Splenda in my grande Americano (coffee). It doesn't make it sweet, just takes the edge off. If I eliminated the Splenda, I would probably compensate with more cream, and what benefit is that?

  • The aforementioned Coke Zero. Yes, I know this is a bad reason. But I love it so! It will be easier to drink more water when the weather gets hot. But giving up all sweeteners would also mean eliminating things like Crystal Light, and TruLemonade (great in water or iced tea!). Frankly, I don't believe these sweeteners make me crave other sweets in the way that cookies and "real" sweets do.

  • The drizzle of maple syrup on greek yogurt provides a lot of satisfaction for very few calories. Same thing with a spoonful of jam on a peanut butter or almond butter sandwich. And what about the small amount of sugar in Justin's maple almond butter?

  • I don't want to examine the ingredients of everything and eliminate it if there is a little sugar. For example, Oroweat Double Fiber English Muffins. I actually don't know if they contain sugar. But I don't want to stop eating them. I occasionally buy whole grain scones or banana nut muffins for breakfast. I know they contain sugar. I don't have to have them...but I would substitute an English muffin instead.

  • And then there is the issue of bars. Meaning granola bars, snack bars, whatever. I actually don't eat a lot of bars. But I do like the South Beach Fiber Fit bars (110 calories) for an occasional treat or snack. Or I might have half a PR*Bar as a pre- or post-run snack. Or a mini-Clif bar or mini-Larabar if I have them. I don't have to have these...but I might substitute an English muffin (or half) with almond butter instead and...see above.

  • And what about Gu? Pure sugar. Okay, I know I'm taking this a little far, I doubt that I will need any sports gels during this ten-day period, but that is another example of a sugar product that is intended to help, not hinder, my running.
Having said all that, who knows? I may end up jumping on the sugar-free train after all. But I'll probably just stick with my current goal of moderation most of the time, with an occasional treat on special occasions, and try to avoid making treats a daily thing.

And...today was speed work! I had to cut my distance to 7.27 miles again because of work (darn those courts for starting so early!). I did two miles warm-up, then three tempo interval miles (10K pace) with half mile recovery at approximate marathon pace between, plus another half mile at 10K pace (I would have done a full mile but just didn't have time), and a quarter mile recovery at the end.

My splits:

1 - 10:46
2 - 9:58
3 - 8:24
4 - (half mile) 8:56 pace
5 - 8:12
6 - (half mile) 9:17 pace
7 - 8:18
8 - (half mile) 9:17 pace
9 - (half mile) 8:18 pace
10 - (.27 mile) 10:09 pace

Total distance 7.27 miles, 1:05:19, 9:07 average pace. If you average all the tempo splits, they come to exactly 8:18 pace!

*I intentionally consume small amounts of honey for the antibacterial properties, to help fend off colds.

1 comment:

Alma said...

Hi Kristin - Did you know you won the Merrell's on Kerrie's/MomvsMarathon blog? Check it out, you need to send her your contact info!