It’s hard to believe I am in Week 7 already. The fears I used to harbour around quitting sugar have now completely dissipated. I am by no means saying I plan to eat 100% sugar-free for the rest of my life, but I am convinced that quitting sugar is far easier than many would have had me believe (including myself!). With some planning and effort it is achievable… and it can be done without any sense of loss or deprivation being involved.
Some of the fabulous spin-offs of doing this program are no doubt a direct result of living consciously and “clearly”. The more aware I am of what I am consuming, the more in touch I am with what my body needs. It’s very simple. And so, quite naturally and effortlessly, I find myself sleeping enough, drinking enough water, motivated to exercise in a balanced, practical and consistent manner and keen to incorporate yoga and meditation into my daily life.
In the past, I had a habit of doing “healthy” things out of a desire to compensate for some kind of lack in my lifestyle. If I ate poorly, I would “make up for it” at the gym. At times when I didn’t exercise, I’d do a juice “detox” or meditate everyday for a short period of time. As a university student, I smoked cigarettes everyday (bleugh!) and did up to 70 minutes of pilates a day.
Although I can’t consider myself to have ever been a yo-yo dieter, I can certainly see that during periods of imbalance in my life, my relationship with food and exercise has similarly been unbalanced.
When I started this blog it was all about exploring; little adventures of an everyday variety… projects undertaken from the heart, in the home. As I scroll through older posts, I see a clear desire to experiment with gluten-free, refined sugar-free, vegan and raw foods. This hasn’t left me. In fact, IQS has opened up a whole world of inspiration for me. I even dream about recipe creation! What has happened during the course of this program is that I *think* I may have found a way to incorporate many of the things I love/that make me feel good into my daily routine in a holistic and sustainable way.
WHAT I HAVE BEEN EATING
Week 3 was off to a flying start with fabulous Quinoa Porridge. Deliciously spiced with cinnamon and given wonderful texture thanks to pepitas, almonds and coconut, this breakfast, prepared the night before, was a joy to wake up to! Quick Moroccan Chickpea Stew was truly lovely; comfort food with an exotic twist. Poached Eggs with Frozen Peas, Spinach & Feta. Wow. What can I say? A delicious way to pack a truckload of greens into one meal. Loved it! Quinoa, Zucchini & Corn Fritters were loved by all, including Cupcake. A fabulous, generous, make-ahead meal that’s perfect for freezing in. The Toasties with Avocado & Cheese have become a go-to quick meal staple in our home now. They are beyond delicious, whether using a little Vegemite (trust me, it works!) or spicing things up with finely chopped fresh red chilli. Zucchini Noodles with Spinach and Basil Pesto proved to be as yummy as it is nutritious and clever. What a week!
I was travelling for 6 days of Week 4 and thus unable to follow the meal plan for almost the entire week (boo!), but made it back just in time to prepare White Bean Soup (I made a vegan version, omitting the Parmesan) and fabulous Middle Eastern Quinoa Stuffed Eggplants. I was so excited to catch this wonderful tail-end of the Week 4 meal plan… and rather chuffed with my efforts to make up for lost time. I was also able to try to apply IQS-style eating principles when choosing pre-packaged meals from Marks & Spencer Simply Food during an overnight stay at a transit hotel at Gatwick Airport!
Week 5 saw us traveling again, but with access to a few basic ingredients and a small kitchenette on a boat, I was able to throw together some very modest IQS-style meals, including Veggie Scramble, Coco-Nutty Granola topped oats and Toasties with Avocado & Cheese. Upon returning home, I was stoked to the point of becoming seriously emotional, when my attempt at Roast Vegetable and Quinoa salad with Turmeric Tahini Dressing proved itself delectable. The hits kept coming with Halloumi, Lentil & Beet Salad, which my husband really loved.
Not wanting to miss out on some of the fun from the previous week, I backtracked a little in Week 6 and made Savoury Lentils, which I ate as they were with a fried egg and also incorporated into a most delish Lentil and Sweet Potato Pie. I had Coco-Nutty Granola religiously for breakfast and I also dipped into my stock of frozen IQS meals and thawed out some Savoury Muffins. Unfortunately travel, once again, made it impossible for me to follow the Week 6 meal plan (boo!). I couldn’t wait to get cooking again when I returned home!
HOW I HAVE BEEN FEELING
Week 3 was easy peasy and I was inspired (in the kitchen and in general). Had a fabulous week of experimenting in the kitchen and discovering like-minded people online. The occasional tummy pains I experienced in Weeks 1 & 2 were gone, I felt “clear” and motivated. Out of curiosity, I did weigh myself at the gym and, as I suspected, 60 kilograms was the result.
Week 4… ruh-roh! Major spanner in the works as a result of traveling. Prior to signing up for the IQS 8-week program, I had booked an all-inclusive trip to England. I must say that staying on an organic farm, having all meals prepared lovingly and expertly by a fabulous chef (with a background in gastronomy and a love of the ideology behind permaculture) is nothing to complain about. The food was beautiful, vibrant and abundant and all the meals happened to be gluten-free. However, I ate what was served and thus I cannot claim that I was able to stick by IQS. And “Clean Week” (Week 4 of the program) was well and truly out the window. I felt rough after only a couple of days of non-IQS eating. My digestion was sluggish, I had tummy pains regularly, I was relying on coffee to get me through the afternoon, I was bloated and less motivated to exercise… I suppose that during Weeks 1 and 2 my body had begun the recalibration process that Sarah Wilson refers to, and that abandoning IQS so abruptly was a rude shock to my system.
Week 5 went semi-well. I was on track with IQS-style eating as long as I had access to fresh produce and cooking facilities. But we were still traveling (this time in the Stockholm archipelago… by boat!). I wasn’t able to follow the Week 5 meal plan for at least half of the week, so even though I did my best with IQS-style eating, it was a little disappointing to not be able to follow the entire Week 5 meal plan, however some great successes with some of the new 8WP recipes when I was back at home, helped to compensate somewhat.
Week 6 came along… so did my cycle… and a whole new boost of motivation to get back on track. Although we had another fun-filled trip (this time to the north of Sweden), I was happy to arrive home mid-week and get stuck into reestablishing healthy routines for both myself and my children. As with last month, this start of this cycle was painful, uncomfortable and my skin was out of control. Very noticeably, however, this month it took far longer to get past the “yucky” phase.
And the difference this month? Sugar.
Whilst visiting Östersund, we were guests of family friends and, despite pre-preparing some IQS meals (Savoury Lentils included) to bring along for the journey, it was impossible to avoid certain group meals or eating a slice of birthday cake bought in celebration of my husband’s grandmother’s 90th birthday. I would have felt deeply uncomfortable to refuse to be part of the festivities. However, my hormonal health paid the price for my participation. I am glad for the experience in terms of the self-knowledge it has afforded me, as I now have a clear and direct comparison of what it’s like to have a sugar-free cycle and a sugar-fueled one.
The beginning of my last cycle was horrid. The beginning of this one was horrid too… but the nastiness was more intense and lasted far longer.
Back at home again, I found myself super-motivated and keen to jump back into the program with renewed vigour. Not only did I jump back into IQS-ing, but I started Jillian Michaels‘ infamous 30 Day Shred and Gabby Berstein‘s 40-day, 9 minute Liberation Kriya (as taught by Yogi Bhajan and Gurmukh) challenge.
WHAT I AM LOVING
I am beyond inspired right now, not just in terms of health and wellbeing and not just in terms of food. Creatively things are just… flowing. I am listening to my intuitive voice and opportunities are manifesting so fast I can hardly keep up!
It has been a joy to throw myself back into cooking IQS meals. So much so that I ended up doing my “Sunday Cook-Up” on Saturday. And, honestly, within 24 hours of being back at home after our last trip, eating IQS-style, drinking loads of water and doing a little exercise, I was noticing marked improvements in my mood, quality of sleep and digestion (all despite my cycle giving me a hard time).
Aside from eating/cooking IQS-style (which I genuinely love and enjoy!), I have done three 30 Day Shred sessions and on the weekend I completed a 10 km fun-run hosted by a lovely friend on her gorgeous farm property out in the archipelago. I have completed 5 days of the Liberation Kriya challenge and, believe it or not, running 10 km on a dirt/gravel trail on a hot and muggy day was easier than my first days of 9 minutes’ worth of sitting still in that pose!
I don’t have a “path” when it comes to yoga. My efforts yoga-wise have been earnest yet inconsistent and I can’t claim any in-depth knowledge of any particular yoga practice (least of all Kundalini!). But my interest in yoga has always been there. And my desire to incorporate yoga into my life in some form of daily practice has never been stronger. So when I saw Gabby Bernstein’s post about her 40-day Liberation Kriya challenge, I saw it as a call to action. Being part of the IQS 8-week program has motivated me to establish firmer, healthier routines in more areas of my life than what I consume.
I am seeing more each week that, with a little vigilance, eating “clean” is not only sustainable, health-affirming and immensely satisfying, it feels like a huge act of self-love.
This has been the most wonderful revelation that has come about for me during weeks 3 to 6.
Wishing you well! <3 MM xx