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Challenge Day 4

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Saturday! The Weekend!

First off, are you getting information? I haven’t gone through all 57 of you to ensure you’re in the Facebook group, or subscribed to the Rebelhealth emails so you get the information, but somehow I need to make sure that one or both of those things are happening with everyone. I may send a group email this weekend to see. Learning and having the support of your community is part of this deal.

Second, there was a bonus question yesterday.   I asked which of the listed vegetables was a non-starchy vegetable. I asked that question because I think it’s important that you all thoroughly understand the difference between the two. In our lives, with our sport, starches are higher in  energy density, important for training and activity. Non-starchy vegetables provide nutrients, fiber and many hormonal benefits to your body. Starches are higher in carbohydrate and calories, non-starches are lower in carbohydrates and calories. You choose them based on what your activity looks like that day – or what you’re planning the next day. For example, if Ed and I go out and he gets a steak and I get fish. We each get two sides. We both trained today by Ed long and hard and me short.  The next day I plan to rest (typical!) and he is training. I might do two non-starchy sides like a salad and asparagus. He might do a baked sweet potato and roasted mushrooms.  If you know what the food does for your body, it’s easy to make decisions. Rather than relying on “this blog or this source said to do this”, I want you to be smart and make informed decisions.

Answer: The answer was B: Jicama.The other three options were all starchy in nature: lima beans, sweet potato, and winter squash*. Squash was the tricky one: summer squash (zucchini for example) is generally non-starchy. Winter squash (butternut for example) is generally starchy).

Third, you can have a little “treat” today/tonight!  You can have 350 calories to do with what you’d like: Pizza, Beer, Wine, Ice Cream, Cake…but not more than 350 calories. You may have to ask your server, MyFitnessPal or Google for help – but don’t overdo it. This is a small respite to help you remain social and keep your head together! Please add it to your log…it doesn’t count against you.


So, it’s hard to fight the symptoms of withdrawal when this kinda crap is in your email inbox in the morning!

So, really?  Do we think it’s really withdrawal….?

Well, we’re 4 days into this challenge. We’ve spoken to many of you over the past few days and you’ve sounded off on our Facebook Page about how you’re doing so far.  While most of you are feeling fine, some of you are starting to feel the withdrawal effects (low energy, headaches, irritability, etc.) from no cookies, pudding, bagels, diet coke, ice cream, quick on-the-go energy bars, grains and any other sugar-loaded food that you might be  addicted to. This is completely normal.

Removing added sugars, grains and some chemicals creates sensations of withdrawal for many.

… Eric Stice, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at the Oregon Research Institute who has used fMRI scans to conclude that sugar activates the same brain regions that are activated when a person consumes drugs like cocaine. In addition, he found that heavy users of sugar develop tolerance (needing more and more to feel the same effect), which is a symptom of substance dependence. Nora Volkow, M.D., a psychiatrist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has done similar research using brain imaging techniques to show similarities between the brains of people who are obese and people who abuse drugs and alcohol. Nicole Avena, Ph.D., a psychologist at Princeton University, was even able to induce sugar dependency in rats. In my opinion, the research is convincing that sugar and other foods have an addictive quality. The Lay’s potato chip advertising execs were really onto something when they developed their “betcha can’t eat just one” slogan in the 1950s. Talk about ahead of their time!

Read the full article here...”  But be warned.  The author is a psychologist, and obviously with no background in nutrition, in that if she knew the damage being done to our bodies by sugar (inflammation), grains (permeable gut) and frankenfoods (who KNOWS what our bodies do with HFCS and partially hydrogenated oils, she probably wouldn’t have ended the article, basically stating “all things in moderation”.  Oye!

Dr. Frank Lipman explains that sugar is often compared to other drugs such as nicotine and cocaine, because our brains are essentially addicted to the opioids contained in sugar.

Why you feel the way you do…

Stay with me, I promise this only gets geeky for a second. Cocaine, alcohol grains and many other addictive substances stimulate the release of Serotonin and Dopamine, neurotransmitters, which affect your reward and mood centers in the brains. In other words, people are addicted to drugs and alcohol because they stimulate the part of the brain that makes you feel happy and good. Well guess what SUGAR does in the brain? Sugar also stimulates the release of those same neurotransmitters and makes you feel good. No wonder your body craves this all the time! But like drugs and alcohol, sugar has a seriously negative impact on the rest of your body. That “good feeling” also comes at a high price with regard to the rest of your body, sugar also induces a high insulin response from your pancreas. This chronic elevation of insulin levels is characteristic of almost every autoimmune disease out there–Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Hashimoto’s, MS and Diabetes are just a few. So, just like an addict you, too, are experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

So how do we “get off sugar”.  Without in-house, lock-down rehab? (Sounds pretty good about now doesn’t it?)

We (your coaches and fellow athletes who have completed prior challenges) have ALL been there and can honestly say we know how you feel. If you can push past this period of discomfort where your body is switching from a carb-guzzling machine to an efficient fat-burning machine, the increased energy, lack of hunger between meals, and the newfound ability to push through a full day is truly rewarding.

This, Too, Shall Pass…

As I mentioned before, these “withdrawals” and symptoms are fleeting and should only last 1-2 weeks AT MOST. In the meantime, reach out to your partners in the challenge on FB when you’re feeling a moment of weakness. Chances are they might be going through the same exact thing! It helps to think of sugar as an addictive drug that is BAD FOR YOU! So a tough love approach is also neccessary during this time. You’re a crossfitter–suck it up and face this abstinence from sugar as you would EVA or MURPH and fight through til the end!

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