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Monday, May 6, 2013

Self-Management: Saying NO! to Sugar.


As I am getting ready to venture into my juice fast I realize there is one thing that I may struggle with the most; sugar. Sugar is a very addicting substance (I can't really say food since I don't see it as being food, but more as a filler). I have come to the conclusion that cutting sugar out of my diet now, before juicing, will give me the best results. Having to fight hunger AND sugar cravings together will be incredibly torturous to someone who loves both things! In college I took a lot of psychology classes and there was one course that we learned a lot about the locus of control.

Attitudes Toward Self-Control

Depending on the situation I am faced with and what action I take will determine whether or not I am being internal or external with locus of control. Internal means that I feel I can control the outcome of a certain event, while external means that I feel the outcome of certain events are not in my control. When it comes to sugar, it is completely 100% internal locus of control, however, I sometimes make myself believe it is external to help me from feeling so guilty. In fact, when it comes to certain addictions, many people often resort to feeling their self-control is external. 

Since as long as I can remember my sugar intake is have extremely excessive. Sodas, candy, cake, ice cream, energy drinks, etc. are all effecting my health and I am doing nothing about it. When it comes to my excessive sugar intake there are many antecedents involved; sometimes there is only one at a time and sometimes there is a combination of more than one.  The behavior of eating too much sugar is a function of five different types of environments. The first environment is physical; having something sweet in physical reach feeds into my temptations, seeing it somewhere makes me want it. The second environment is emotional; I tend to crave something sweet when I am sad, bored, or even stressed because in return I will for a short amount of time feel good. The third environment is physiological; because my body is so use to a high level of sugar it feels deprived when it does not get any; almost like an addiction needing to be fed. Another reason the physiological environment influences my sugar intake is that when I am feeling hungry my first instinct is to eat something simple and I can eat now, most of the time that option is something filled with a lot of sugar rather than something healthy which I would have to make and would take longer. The fourth environment is social; I tend to be "peer pressured" when I am around other people and sugar infested foods. This is especially true when it comes to my family. All of my family on my dad's side have a huge "sweet tooth" and so there is always something sweet at their homes. The fifth environment is cognitive; if I start to think about how sweet the food will be and how much I will enjoy it, then i have a hard time rejecting the thoughts and tend to five in to those temptations. The consequences of giving into these temptations is often short-term satisfaction or afterwards guilt, but it usually does not stop me from repeating these bad behaviors.

By knowing these five environments I can change the situations that contribute to a behavior chain. Often the beginning behaviors of my behavior chain are shopping when hungry or while craving something sweet, being bored, depressed, or stressed, and being around people who also consume a lot of sugar. The consequences that follow these behaviors is usually feeling guilty, overeating and feeling sick, feeling fat, and temporarily feeling happy or satisfied and at times calmed. 

Motivation to Change Bad Behavior

So knowing all of this, how do I change my actions of consuming too much sugar? Well I found a list of 141 reasons sugar is bad for you and you can view that list here; Nancy Appleton's 141 reasons sugar ruins your health. After reviewing this list I believe my chances of success are very high because this can be used as a motivational tool. I can print out this list and hang it on my wall at home and work to reference whenever I get a random craving. No one wants to have health problems and with a list like this showing you exactly what problems sugar gives makes it easier to change the behavior that contributes to bad health. 

My goal is to cut out as much sugar as I possibly can. Now I know it is impossible to cut out sugar completely since almost everything contains sugar, even fruits. So all I can do is watch what I eat and make better decisions. I know that anything that doesn't benefit my health in some way is completely out. I also know that I am human, and I am going to make mistakes, so I can't be too hard on myself if I mess up, but I do need to be firm and if I do mess up there should be some type of consequence in place. 

Problem Solving Methods

In order to make sure my goal is met I need to make plans ahead of time. The best way to implement an environmental planing strategy is to make a grocery list before going to the store, substitute "junk" food with fruits and vegetables, remove all sugar temptations that are in my home environment. Learning to say no is a huge help to cutting back on bad behaviors. In turn my antecedents in this situation is to make a grocery list and to learn how to say no, while my behavior is to avoid situations where I will be more likely to eat more sugar, and my consequence will be consuming less sugar and following through with my goals. 

The best way to implement an environments programming strategy is to substitute foods high in sugar with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  Reminding myself why I shouldn't be consuming sugar when around foods that are loaded with sugar is another great way to implement this strategy. In addition, making a list of activities or objects I enjoy that I will lose if I do not follow through with my new behavior of consuming less sugar.

The best way to implement a cognitive strategy is to print out that list I mentioned above and keep it with me to reference whenever I get a craving. Creating a list of things I will be able to do in the future is another good way to implement this strategy; for example, being able to live longer, to be more active and less lethargic, to have less trips to the dentist and doctor, etc. By using a delayed decision technique when I see something sweet by telling myself something like, my birthday is soon I can have a piece of cake then, will allow me to dodge the current situation and put it off. I can then distract myself with other important things or something to eat that is more healthy. 

The End Result

By following these methods I am confident that not only will I feel more healthy, but I will have more energy and will be able to successfully lose more unwanted weight. By cutting sugar out of my diet I will have better results when I begin my juicing fast because I will not be craving sugar infested foods as much as I would be if I don't cut out sugar now. I will have already began the cleansing process which will be the hardest part of the beginning of the fast. 

I am ready to feel and look healthy and great!!!!