Tuesday, May 19, 2015

On Avoiding Sugar

So I decided I'd like to lose some weight. I've been exercising consistently for awhile now (more on that in a later post) and although I'm seeing results in the mirror, I wasn't seeing them on the scale. Normally, I'm not a dieter. The very thought makes me want to do burpees. I hate burpees. But I thought, just as an experiment more than anything, I'd try avoiding sugar for about three weeks in April. Nothing too drastic. I think I might have lost a pound or two, but I learned some interesting things. Here are some of them:

Sugar is in everything

Okay, maybe not everything. But seriously. I was only avoiding sugar and other added sweeteners, but I swear, it's almost impossible to avoid added sugar unless you are also avoiding carbs, dairy, and processed foods, just to name a few. I actually had considered doing a Whole 30, a program that a friend of mine had recommended. I chickened out on that and just avoided sugar instead, but it turns out that's harder than I thought it would be. If I ever try this again, I'm going to go with the carb-counting method I learned from my nutrition consultation when I had gestational diabetes, or just suck it up and do the Whole 30.

Sugar makes me sick

Not even kidding. On one Sunday morning, after I'd been avoiding sugar for about a week, I accidentally ate two cookies out of habit. About 30 minutes later, I felt terrible. Heart rate went wacky, stomach felt icky, and I got a headache. Then went I went back to eating sugar on my daughter's birthday, I overloaded and believe me, I felt it. Clearly my body doesn't handle it well. Sadly, I know that and I just keep eating the stuff anyway.

Some things actually taste good without sugar

First, I should probably confess that although I significantly reduced my sugar intake, I also increased one of my other guilty pleasures: butter. I love butter. Possibly more than sugar. Yes, I realize that eating more butter probably balanced out eating less sugar, and could be the reason I didn't lose more than a pound or two, but I just kept telling myself that butter was better for me than sugar anyway. So I ate it on toast. Smeared it on pancakes and covered that with strawberries (yes I know pancakes have sugar. I checked the label. See? Everything has sugar) I cooked stuff in it. And it was delicious. Believe me, if a little butter is good, more butter is better.

Okay, enough about butter. I drink a lot of coffee. With creamer and flavored syrup and yes, sometimes whipped cream. All the good stuff. Well, I wasn't about to give up coffee - I've tried that, with disastrous consequences - but I was good and didn't put sugar in it. Sometimes I drank it black. I can do that. I like coffee. Sometimes I did put milk in it. And half and half. See what I mean about dairy? It's a problem. But anyway, I discovered that plain, unsweetened lattes are actually really tasty. So now I'll have my grande hazelnut latte with just one pump of syrup instead of three or four and guess what? It still tastes like an indulgent treat. A little bit of heaven. Happiness in a cup.

I also learned that plain yogurt isn't actually that nasty. Especially if you put raspberries or blueberries and a teeny dribble of vanilla in it. Or a teaspoon honey. Strictly speaking, honey is an added sweetener (read: sugar) but it sure does make yogurt palatable. And we get honey from a local guy who has his own bees, not the fake crap from the grocery store. So there. Anyway, just today I had some yogurt with raspberries and honey, and I didn't gag.

Also, homemade Chex Mix is really, really good.

Talking about what I'm not eating makes people uncomfortable

So much of our social interaction revolves around food. I gave up sugar and suddenly people were apologizing for eating it or making stuff with it, or asking me if I'd like dessert and then looking all guilty when I said no. I just wanted to make a sign that says "Please excuse me if my personal food choices are making you feel bad. Get over it." Instead, I decided that if I ever go on any kind of diet again (somewhat unlikely) I'm not going to tell people about it. It's just more trouble than it's worth. So yeah, maybe I'll just eat the brownie at the potluck. It's not gonna kill me. It's kind of like when the Apostle Paul talks about food in 1 Corinthians 8. Do what you have to do. But don't throw it in people's faces. Be kind, and gracious, and let other people eat what they want. It's a good approach to food, and to life.

So much for my brief excursion into dieting. Even if it was short and rather limited. My biggest conclusion? I actually don't eat that much sugar. I could eat less. But there's a reason why I'd rather exercise. I love food. All the food. That is all.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

On The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Just like pretty much everyone else in America, I saw the new Avengers movie this week. And now, for your entertainment, I present my spoiler-free take on the film.

First of all, if you can, go with friends. Movies are just more fun with friends. I'd say this is a good date movie but I'm not sure what that means. As with most movies, Greg grudgingly went along with me to see it because he knew I would never let him hear the end of it if he didn't go. In his defense, he does like the Avengers. We also went with three other friends. The great thing about seeing Marvel movies with friends is that they are funny movies, and it's fun to laugh with friends. I mean, I don't know about you, but that's pretty much why I have friends. Right? Also, I like to talk about movies after seeing them, which is much more enjoyable if you're with a group and you've all just seen the same movie together. Bonus points if you or at least a couple of your friends are some level of Marvel geek, because then you can have heated discussions about things like Civil Wars and Infinity Stones and explain minute points that either everyone already knows or no one cares about. And more bonus points if you get more than one funny look from the server at the restaurant you go to hang out at after the movie.

So anyway. The Avengers. Quick synopsis: The volatile crew of superheroes known as the Avengers (or as Greg likes to call them, the league of beautiful people) is working to recover Loki's nasty scepter that caused so much trouble in the last movie. This becomes a problem, we eventually figure out why, there's lots of drama, interpersonal relationship stuff, and a freaky mean sentient robot who decides that the Avengers are the world's sickness and he knows the cure. Which is, of course, destroy the world (and humanity along with it). Since the Avengers are known for being rather fond of the earth (and humanity along with it), they figure they'd better stop him. It's not a perfectly constructed, watertight plot by any means, but it provides a good backdrop for all the fun superhero antics that everyone is really there to see. That and the beautiful people. Because let's face it, these people are superhumanly gorgeous. Eye candy, fun one-liners, and a really obnoxious villain who just needs a good butt-kicking are the essential elements of this film, and they deliver. I will leave the sarcastic criticism of various plot elements to the people of YouTube (HISHE, Screen Junkies, Cinema Sins, take your pick, there's a bunch of them and they rule the Internet) and just say yes, it's a fun movie. No, it's not as good as the first Avengers movie, which is on my list of all-time favorite movies. No, it will not win any Oscars. And really, who cares? Marvel knows exactly how to part millions of us with our money: Keep making movies like this. It works.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

On Being the Master of My Domain

As I'm sure you all know, I'm naturally a humble, unassuming person, even quiet and shy at times. (And if you really know me, you'll know there is some sarcasm in that statement, too. But it's mostly true. Or partially true. Sometimes) But there are times in life when it becomes necessary to say, Hey look at me! I'm awesome! For me, this is one of those moments. Because I have registered a domain name. See it there at the top of the page? www.allisonduke.com. See it? Awesome, right? Now all I need is an awesome website to go with it. And maybe something to sell. Like a book, or editing services, or something like that. Oh and maybe I should blog more often. Yeah. That would be good.

So there you go. Tell all your friends. And if anyone wants to volunteer to help me figure out the awesome website part, please email me or comment below. :)