I gave up carbs, booze and sugar for 21 days (and here's what happened)

This is not to say I’m stopping my ‘lifestyle change’ now that I’ve hit 21 days, but I do feel like I’ve reached a bit of a milestone in my ‘Fuck You Fat’ journey.

They say it takes 21 days to form or break a habit. Let me tell you, 21 days is a very long time when that habit is so ingrained in you, and such a part of your everyday life.

21 days 1

A few weeks back I made a commitment to myself to give up the following for most of January (I say most, because it’s my birthday in a few days, and there ‘aint no way in hell I’m going without champagne, sushi or spaghetti on my special day):

  • Gluten
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • White carbs

So, on day 22, how have I done, and how do I feel?

Emotionally I feel, well, the same. Everyone tells you how wonderful, revived and rejuvenated you will feel. I had visions of bursting through the office doors on a  Monday morning singing about the hills being alive while group high-fiving the entire office and drumming on my keyboard with organic carrot sticks. Alas, this never happened, and I feel none of these things. In fact, I am more tired, lethargic and moody than ever before. This could be due to other factors such as Zuma, my finances, the state of the Rand, work stress, motherhood, traffic or the weather.

21 days 5.gif

Physically I feel like a thousand bucks. No booze means my skin isn’t blotchy in the morning, and I have absolutely noticed less-puffy bags underneath my eyes. I’ve lost 3.5 kilograms and my tummy doesn’t bloat or ache like it usually does after a meal. I’m back in (some) of my size 10 jeans, and am feeling slightly more confident about my body. I say slightly, because I had to take some before photos for my SleekGeek challenge, and whilst clothed bodies hide a multitude of sins, half naked ones are truthful as fuck.

My diligence has paid off and I train 5-6 days a week, alternating between running, Pilates (which is super hard by the way, jaysus), crossfit &bootcamp style exercises and weights. Getting to the gym some most days is hard, and I often think up every excuse under the sun not to go, but afterwards I am so glad I did. Classes have also kept me accountable – it’s a lot harder to sneak out of a packed Grid class than it is to stop a treadmill run half way.

Side note story: Last week in my Shape class, 3 guys from the weighs section joined the class. I could tell they did it as a bribe or a dare from their buff gym boys, and I kept a close eye on them throughout the hour long session. Because I knew that about half way, they would be begging like orphaned puppies to be let loose and go back to the benches. These guys died. I had one of them ask me for my ‘girl weights’, one of them removed his weights entirely and the other one collapse to his knees half way through a jumping squat sequence. ‘Twas not sweat that fell from their brows, but little pissy man tears. They both made it to the end, but barely. Okes, before you ever judge a ‘girly class’ from outside, come in, do it, then say sorry.

21 days 6

I’ve cheated twice. Once was when I added 1 potato to a batch of fishcakes I made as we had nothing else in the house, and the other was when I added a tablespoon of curry powder to a dish I was making, only to realise afterwards that it contained gluten.

On that topic – everything you eat contains gluten and sugar. Have you read a label lately? Not even tinned Ratoutille  is safe. It’s incredible just how clean you start eating when you read food labels. I still don’t understand most of what the label says, but I have learnt what I should and shouldn’t have.

21 days 7

Planning is the most important thing when it comes to not falling off the wagon. It’s a schelp, but that extra 10 minutes you take at night to pack a lunchbox, means you absolutely can stick to the plan the next day. I’ve also found that meals are a lot more delicious and exciting than what you initially think of when faced with the idea of a carb, gluten,sugar and booze free diet. I allow myself brown rice and quinoa once a day. That, along with delicious fruits, veggies, smoothies, eggs and legumes have also meant I’m never bored.

Being accountable to someone or something is key. I mentioned the WhatsApp group I created – a bunch of ladies all looking to change their lives through diet, exercise and humour. Some need to lose 1 kilo, some need to lose 31, we are all different in our approach and style, but at the end of the day we check in with each other, post (gasp!) before photos and keep each other on the wagon in times of trouble (read: birthdays, weekends, kids tantrums and work trauma). The ‘something’ I’m accountable to is my FitBit device. I feel personally responsible for logging my food, hitting my step goal and appeasing this little band on my arm. The data doesn’t lie, and I treat the Fitbit challenges like my own personal Zelda quest.

I can live without sugar. I have never had a sweet tooth, so this was the least daunting approach of them all – and possibly the easiest of the items to cut out. I do still dream about a large pizza or a mac ‘n cheese though (because it takes 21 days to break a habit, not to kill your taste buds entirely). Funnily enough, my biggest craving of all? A donut.

I’m really battling to live without wine. 

So, whilst I’m nowhere near my goal, and whilst I won’t stop at 27 days, I will allow myself to have 1 ‘cheat’ meal a week. First stop? My birthday. That sushi carousel has no idea what’s about to happen to it.

21 days 4

I’d be very interested to hear your experience with breaking a 21 day habit – please share in the comments below.

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  1. Very inspiring Kate! I want to start doing this too. Question, how do you manage to find time for exercise, a full time job and motherhood? Our 4 month old wakes up every two hours right through the night and I can’t get myself to wake up before 6am. In the evenings it’s bath time and bed time for baby, then time to feed hubby and myself before washing bottles, packing lunch and going to bed myself. I just can’t seem to find a gap for a workout.

    1. Hi Anneli. To be honest – it requires a lot of juggling and both parents doing 50% all the time. My husband and I alternate days in which we fetch, drop, cook etc. On the night one of us is on duty the other will fetch baby, feed, bath, put to sleep, cook dinner etc, and the other person gets to train. same with mornings. It means living with barely seeing each other – but in some marriages that’s a blessing 😉 Jokes aside, its hard work and means you wont always get to tuck your baby in at night – but you will feel so much better about yourself. Also, if one of you is better at coping with less sleep then they could train in the morning. let me know how it goes? x

  2. The Whatsapp group saved me. Something pretty shitty happened to me in December, and I gave myself permission to wallow in carbs, booze and sorrow. The 6kg I picked up in ONE MONTH just made the sorrow worse. Then, the Whatsapp group came along. One day, I will find a way to thank you for that. For now, it’s back to my tuna salad and hilarious fitness memes.

    1. It’s me who needs to thank you guys – I suddenly have people to account to – and it’s so much harder to cheat when i have you guys holding me to that. I’m sorry you had something shitty happen – but I’m so glad you’re on the group, and I’m eternally grateful for your memes. 😉

  3. Your blogs are amusing and inspirational. So proud of you my sweetheart, not easy to give up so much but he’ll you’ve got guts – a flat one at that.

  4. Well done! I’m sugar free and haven’t eaten carbs in the form of grains/bread/pasta/pastries/cakes etc in ages … Ok a few times in December and it was torture to my body. Like proper poison! I didn’t feel like singing the Hills are Alive after 21 days either. Way too soon. For 30 years we’ve eaten one way … And now we are eating me a completely different (better) way! So in 21 days, your body isn’t going to be “fixed” – it takes time. By 3 months you’ll be cartwheeling WHILST singing the Hills are Alive! KEEP AT IT! I still have wine – but it’s not every night! I have a glass at birthdays or a dinner out! Wine soritzers are the way forward if it’s going to be a boozy one!

    1. Thanks Bails! So 3 months is my next target then? I love the way i feel, even though I’m not banting, and I’m definitely going to keep at it and see where it takes me. The only thing that I crave is sugar in my tea – have you tried the coconut sugar from Woolies? Again, your transformation has been inspiring, to me and so many others!

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