Coach Heather: “Sugar Stop (Valentine’s Day Switch)”

On any given day there’s an excuse to ‘celebrate’ with a treat, therefore clouding the definition of ‘treat’ and chronically inflaming our system while we’re at it. The day that winter holiday paraphernalia is wiped from the shelves is the same one that all things red, hearts and sugar take over!

There’s an irony with having this sugar-laden love-celebration right in the middle of 28 days set to highlight the importance of heart health.

Sugar intake among American adults has tripled in the past three decades according to the CDC’s 2014 report. You don’t have to grab a tiny candy heart for something sweet, just turn your canned tomatoes around and check the ingredient list. Inspect that barbecue sauce, or even your salad dressing, not to mention “healthy” granola bars, smoothies, yogurt and manufactured “whole grain” snacks.  Sugar intake in excess of what we need, or burn via physical activity, will contribute to an increase in cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as increase your risk of insulin resistance (a top risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes).  Sugars disrupt our hunger hormones, train our taste-buds to crave sweetness and happily turn themselves into fat when they’re not needed (which is pretty often).

Not even the everyday exerciser or elite athlete has a free pass. High sugar intake causes stress on the body, which will affect your performance on a number of levels.  I’m not here to drop a “NO MORE SUGAR EVER” bomb; I am here to say you should stop, pause and contemplate how you celebrate this holiday o’ love. Does it call for so many chocolates you end up clutching your stomach on the couch?  So many little weird-tasting wordy hearts that you’re buzzing and unable to think straight? Or a dessert so decadent that you lay awake at night because now your body thinks you must have taken in all this sugar because you must go conquer the world?!

(End dramatic scene.)

We all have our favorite treats, and they should be just that. Something we rarely enjoy, but truly savor. Every other day should be one in which we love and respect the digestive system that provides us endless energy every time we demand it to, with whole foods, balanced meals and good ol’ H2O.