Monday, 3 September 2018

September [and Handling a Perpetual Sweet Tooth]

   September.
   I am not eyeing up my jumpers. I did not pre-order a Naked Marshmallow advent calendar the moment they became available on Saturday morning. I did not I buy a few tins of pumpkin puree. I am not noting down recipe and craft ideas for Christmas. I have not started my Christmas shopping.
   No, I am. I did. I have. It's all true.
   Calendrically speaking, it is autumn. I don't really count it until it comes around meteorologically, but as that's only on the 23rd, I'm just rolling with it. 24 degrees or not. And I'm not the only one. I've seen Christmas products sneaking out into shops - decorations, food and the like. And I may already be compiling a list for our homemade advent calendars. Yes, that's right, two again. Ask me if I'm bothered.


   But aside from all that, I'm also excited about the start of a new month. I'm a firm believer that if you want to make a change, you do it right away. If you do it 'tomorrow', or 'Monday', or 'the 1st' or 'January', you're putting your decisions on a pedestal and that means you have a lot further to fall when you inevitably slip up - and much further to climb to get back onto it. Because you will slip up, it's only natural, and strength and progress come with acknowledging that likelihood, acknowledging your mistakes, and climbing right back on the horse.
   All that said, when you do happen to make a decision or experience a sudden rush of determination to reinforce a change that has started to slip on a Sunday night on the 2nd of a fresh month at the start of a brand new season, it makes it that much sweeter. Because a new week, a new month, they are great places to start, and you are that much more likely to persevere.

   Sugar has started slipping back into my diet - I never gave it up, but it's coming in more frequently than it used to. One or two chocolates will not hurt, but if it's one or two chocolates every single day, and you're not acknowledging them because it's just a little bit, then that can become a problem - because, in my case, that can, and has, become three or four. And when a single chocolate averages 75 calories, three chocolates equate to a chocolate bar, and a chocolate bar a day, while still not really an issue, it's not going to help with fat-loss and it's only going to fuel my sweet tooth, especially if I'm not acknowledging it in my food diary.
   I've said it before: I don't drink alcohol or sweet drinks. If it's not water or tea, won't drink it. With the exception of the occasional light Chocomel or hot chocolate. I get about 5 take-away dinners a year, and I would sooner cut off my hands than step foot in a fast food 'restaurant'. I also only eat out about 3 times a year, and that's assuming my in-laws are around. Otherwise, it's just the once. I don't smoke, I don't drink coffee, I don't do anything like that. My one and only vice is sugar.
   I know that if I cut it out, I will lose my mind. So I learned long ago to appreciate a single chocolate. It takes me about 2 minutes to each a single chocolate, and I will have it in 3-4 bites, each of which I melt in my mouth before moving on to the next bite. It's the best way to eat chocolate because you really get to savour flavours and textures without scoffing it down, and it's much, much easier to be satisfied with it that way. It may take some...'training', I suppose, but it's a trick well worth mastering if you have a sweet tooth like me.

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   All that said, I've also learned that it takes me just 3 days without sugar to eliminate the craving. 3 days. I usually have a chocolate or two about an hour and a half after dinner when I sit down with my laptop. If I don't have chocolate within 30 minutes of sitting down, I'm not likely to have it at all. When I'm in the habit of chocolate, those 30 minutes are a lifetime. When I've gone 3 days without, however, I don't even think about it when I flip the laptop on, I just get right on down to work.

   All that said, though, there is also the fact that it's mostly just Hotel Chocolat, and they have always been high cocoa, low sugar, and no artificial nasties, so even then the chocolates in question aren't as guilty as they could be...

   Either way, it's Monday, it's autumn, it's September, it's my final month of my present training plan, and chocolate is edging its way in a little too easily. I'm trying, as I said before, to meet maintenance calories, and empty calories - ie sweets and foods with little nutritional value - should not play a part in that. A chocolate every other day is absolutely fine, but when it becomes routine, it isn't. If the fancy strikes, no problem, but if it's a need, I have to ignore it. And with Christmas on the horizon, it's time to get it in check. I've got a few sweet recipes to try for the blog, and with my parents' 30th wedding anniversary this Sunday, now is as good a time as any to shed the cravings so that when I do taste-test or have a slice of cake, there's no guilt to add to.

   September-October is the perfect time to start getting in shape for winter, by that physically or mentally. There's enough time to make real and safe progress towards a little black dress - and as strange as eating more is towards that goal, that is mine, and shedding the sugar is part of that.

   Do you have any goals to set in motion?



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