Now that I’ve wrapped up my tales of travel I want to tell you what else went on in the month of August this year. It was mostly a month filled with travel or the anticipation of it but there were some things that happened this month that I feel I must document here.
Where I went
The highlight of the month of course was our travel to France. We were in Paris for the first part of the trip (we took a day trip to Bruges, Belgium during this time) and spent the latter part of the trip in the Côte d’Azur area. It was the first time I was visiting Europe and I am so glad to have had the time this year to finally make the trip!
Back to the where it all began
I got back to a much loved cardio activity this August – Zumba. Zumba was the first thing that got me started on my fitness journey after I moved to the US and I was so happy to know that the studio I used to go to for Zumba classes had relocated to my neighborhood. I’ve found Zumba to be a perfect cardio activity for me. I don’t count calories or track my heartbeat but the endorphin rush post-Zumba is enough to bring me back every single time.
What I read
A very typical thing for me to do is to be overly optimistic about two things when I travel: working out and reading. This time was no different and I packed my workout shoes and three books for the trip. Now, you’d think I am going to tell you how I surprised myself this time by adhering to my workout routine and how I managed to read all three books but sadly no, I didn’t get around to either on this trip as well. I guess I need to accept the fact that I won’t always stick to my routines when I am away from home and just do my best to deal with it. (And I’ll also need to deal with the fact that my disciplined husband will stick with his routines and I shouldn’t get jealous!)
The one book I did get around to reading was David Leibovitz’s “The Sweet Life in Paris”. I read this book on the train ride between Paris and Nice and found it to be a very enjoyable read. It wasn’t a sickly sweet ode to Paris but a nice balanced view on how the author found his transition to life in the city. I realized when I read the book that when you live in any place there’s always trade offs and compromises to be made – the only question is whether you love living there or not. I can see why some of my friends have moved back to India and adjusted very well to life back home – they recognize that there’s some compromises and sacrifices to be made but their love for the place keeps them happy there.
August is also when I came across a video that spurred an important change in my eating habits. It started with me watching a lecture on sugar called “Sugar: Bitter Truth” by Dr. Robert Lustig.
The video is about 90 minutes long and quite detailed but it was enough to get me thinking very deeply about how much sugar was in my everyday diet. What I found was stunning:
For the three years I spent on the road traveling for work my breakfast of choice had always been a Starbucks Chai Latte (with non fat milk or soy milk). Sometimes I’d add an energy bar to this or a bagel or a wrap. Now, the WHO (World Health Organization) has proposed a new draft guideline early this year that sugar should take up no more than 5% of a person’s total energy intake. This works out to around 25 grams (6 teaspoons) for an adult of normal BMI.
What I found was that the Starbucks Chai I’d been chugging for the past three years was not just high in sugar. That would be a gross understatement. One ‘tall’ serving of Chai contains 32 grams of sugar. That’s 7 grams over the daily-recommended intake of sugar!! Now, add a Luna or Lara bar to this and I’ve consumed around 50 grams of sugar and it’s only 8 AM!!
If you haven’t already paid attention to the sugar levels in your diet I urge you to start doing so. This one change in eating habits has made a huge difference to my health and I don’t want to pass up a chance to spread the word. Here are some resources to get you thinking:
- Robert Lustig’s excellent lecture on Sugar and it’s effects on the body
- This New York Times piece on sugar has good background on the various studies done on sugar and it’s effects over the past few decades.
- WHO’s draft guideline on sugar intake
- Authority Nutrition is my favorite resource for nutrition knowledge – Here’s there take on sugar and why it’s bad for you
- John Oliver on HBO did a hilarious and thought provoking segment on Sugar (I LOVE this show!)
Knowing all this made my meals during our travels so much more balanced. Sure, we had our share of ice creams, macarons and bread, but we ate balanced meals that filled us up with the energy needed to walk around all day. This was a conscious effort on our part and totally worth it. I can’t say I’ve complete abstained from sugar but I’ve cut out a large portion of the sugar sources in my day-to-day meals. This has freed me from my sugar addiction patterns. I love that I can finally walk past my neighborhood donut shop and not become a five-year-old child who MUST have a donut right now!