30-Day Sugar Detox Week 2: Confronting Unexpected Challenges

Easter has come and gone and even with Peeps, Cadbury Eggs and so much more surrounding me, I managed to make it through without cheating even once. I’ve been so proud of myself for the past 14 days, because I’ve really been committed to this challenge and it feels good to see that I can function without constantly eating sugar.

This post started off in a totally different direction, but as I put my fingers to the keyboard, my heart led me to share what is written below instead of my weekly diet for the challenge. Please bear with me, because I’m going to get a little personal in this post and go off on a tangent.

I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed for the past month or so and I couldn’t understand why. I’ve been exercising regularly (which makes me feel amazing) and I’m seeing my therapist every two weeks which has been so impactful for me (I’m in CBT for anxiety and have had a post drafted for months detailing the entire journey, but haven’t had the courage to hit publish yet).

A couple of weeks ago, I started to have trouble taking deep breaths. I even ended up in urgent care the first time it happened because I thought there was something seriously wrong with me. There wasn’t and I’m fine. It appears that my anxiety is manifesting in a new way and it caught me totally off guard because I’ve been less anxious since I’ve been exercising and in therapy.

I shared this with my therapist during my session this week and she asked me “what does it feel like when you have trouble taking deep breaths?” and I told her “like there’s something heavy on my chest and I want to push it off…like I just want to take a deep breath so I can feel relief, but I can’t…”

“I think you’re doing too much,” she said. She told me that sometimes, even a healthy habit can turn into something that triggers anxiety because of the rules, desire to control, and adding something else to your already full plate.

I didn’t understand what she meant at first. I love exercise, I love blogging and find it relaxing (most of the time) and this sugar challenge was something that’s good for my overall health and wellness.

“Does the heaviness on your chest feel almost suffocating?,” she asked me.

I thought about it for a moment. It does.

“I think your body is trying to tell you something,” she continued.

My therapist told me that she sees a lot of women who are driven, successful and busy…but that of them all, there are few as busy as I have made myself over the last few months. This was a shock to me, if I’m being honest, because I don’t view myself that way. But when I really took a step back to see her point of view (and the urgent care doctor and my PCP, who all told me I was doing too much) …I came to realize they were all right.

I’m a mother to two young children, a wife, I work full-time, I run this blog and create new content weekly, I work out four days a week and I’m in therapy every other week (the reason this is significant is because CBT requires daily action, relaxation practices and recording of stats— it’s very different than talk therapy and is a consistent part of my day-to-day life). And yet here I was, taking on yet another “thing” that requires record-keeping and more of an investment than I’m able to give right now.

My goal for 2017 was for it to be a year of abundant, positive change. But I recognize now that in an attempt to do this, I took on too much (that includes everything in my life, not this challenge in particular). I was suffocating myself with too many goals and commitments all at once, without even realizing it. Just like sugar, too much of a good thing sometimes isn’t good at all.

I still find it challenging to recognize myself as busy because I view myself as having an anti-busy mentality. For goodness sakes, a few weeks ago I was advocating for “leaning out” in the workplace. I truly believe people need to take more time for themselves to relax and slow down. But I haven’t actually been practicing what I believe. I just tricked myself into thinking I was…but I know I’m fooling no one when three healthcare professionals tell me I have a ton on my plate and aren’t surprised by my symptoms.

My “a-ha” moment was when my therapist asked me “what do you do to relax?” I paused and remember staring at her blankly. I didn’t have an answer, which is embarrassing to admit. I wanted to say blogging, but while I love this space, it’s still work and requires energy and focus. Then, I wanted to say watching TV, but I don’t watch TV often and when I do, I’m usually also on my phone or laptop, trying to answer emails, keep up with social media or shopping/looking for something we need online.

My therapist challenged me to focus on BEING instead of DOING. It seems like a foreign concept, but I’m trying to do little things to make that happen. One thing I recently did was leave a ton of Facebook groups I was a member of (mom groups, blogging groups etc). They’re so time consuming and clog up my feed— I just stayed in a few I loved and felt were a good fit/aligned with my goals. If you struggle with doing too much, I would love to hear about things that help you relax and be present.

I’m still participating in the sugar challenge, but without any record-keeping (like what I eat day-to-day) or pressure and I already feel a sense of relief just not tracking everything like I was. The goal of this challenge is learning to be more comfortable with moderation and to be mindful about what I eat — but what I’ve learned about myself is that it’s really easy for me to become consumed with something. I’m a driven person and I want to succeed at everything that I do. But when I take on so much and am pulled in so many different directions, it doesn’t allow me to focus on what matters most and actually contributes to the problem I’m trying to solve: anxiety.

I hope that if you identify with this post, it has helped you to know that you’re not alone. If you too feel the “weight” of all you do becoming too heavy, know that it’s okay to step away, to take a break and to re-prioritize or re-configure your goals. It’s not a sign of failure. It’s a sign that you’re listening to your body and intuition and doing what feels right in your season of life.

G I V E A W A Y ! ! !
Before I go, I’m excited to partner with Jessica, Heather and Laura share a giveaway for a one month supply of Suja Juice for one of our readers! I tried them for the first time when we embarked on the sugar challenge and they have a lot of great options, including juices that are very low in sugar and contain probiotics. My husband is obsessed with them and drinks one daily, so he has basically claimed them as his own (which is good because he drinks the ones that have a little more of the natural sugars in them!) Suja juices are cold-pressured beverages that are USDA certified organic and non-GMO, certified by the Non-GMO project. You can read more about the cole pressure process here.

Don’t forget to check out Happily HughesMy Life Well Loved and Waking in Memphis in High Heels to read their 30-day sugar detox posts this week!

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  • Reply
    Heather Keiler-Green
    Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing, I love your honesty.

    • Reply
      Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 8:51 pm

      Thank you Heather <3

  • Reply
    Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    Hi Veronika! I have had the same issue lately and I suspected my anxiety was acting up. Thank you so much for sharing this. I hope you can clear your plate a little and feel better soon!!!

    • Reply
      Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 8:53 pm

      Thank you Jessica! I think just recognizing that I was doing too much was a relief in and of itself. I was in denial because I’ve always been a “doer” and it was my normal. I think I’ve always had the perception that everyone does as much as I take on (or even that I don’t do enough) and that eventually causes a lot of stress.

  • Reply
    Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    I think sometimes our society equates business with success. I can see how it can be extremely detrimental. I see how this can even overflow into the schedules of young children; weeknight and weekend activities of sports, dance classes, attending every birthday party they are invited to… sometimes I think it is okay to just rest! I hope you are able to find a balance that works for you!

    • Reply
      Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 8:54 pm

      Thank you Lynne! We definitely live in a high-pressure society. I think it’s important to see worth in your accomplishments, but there is just as much value in who you are as a person, seperate from the work that you do and I am trying to find ways to just be and be comfortable with that.

  • Reply
    Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    I can so relate to this post… you’re not alone. I struggle with anxiety, and had a major life change two years ago (injury and an autoimmune diagnosis) that has caused me to make a lot of changes in my life… which lead me to this recent week. Just this week I took a step back acknowledging the changes, and now I can finally say that my mind understands what stress is. My body has known for years, manifesting in so many ways like heavy breathing, panic attacks, tense muscles, stomach problems, acne etc. I don’t have advice to help, but I hope you find that awareness too. It’s like a puzzle you put together, and I know it’s a challenging journey. Hang in there, and keep making those small changes.

    • Reply
      Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 8:55 pm

      Thank you for your comment! I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a lot of stressful things happening lately. I think making changes is important but too many changes all at once were not a good idea for me, as I can see now. Wishing you the very best and hope you too can overcome this!

  • Reply
    Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    Love your honest post. I actually just ordered a book that you might like off of Amazon. It’s called, Present Over Perfect, and while I haven’t started it yet, I’ve heard such great things…. many of which seem like they would resonate well with what your experiencing. Good luck on this journey and thank you for your honesty. Xo

  • Reply
    Megan | Honey We're Home
    Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    I’m sure so many women can relate to this post- I can too, so thank you for sharing what I’m sure is a vulnerable thing to share! It’s hard being a high achiever and having so much going on all at once on top of family responsibilities and work. I can’t wait to catch up and spend time together this weekend. I’m so glad we’re driving together!

  • Reply
    Meg O.
    Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    You are one amazing lady, and I really admire that you can share your story. You definitely need some time to slow down and, like you said, focus on being. Love ya friend!!

  • Reply
    Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. I too had this happen to me last year. I started a new job and was stressed out about the idea of pumping at work for my 8 month old at the time. That’s when the chest pain started. I went to urgent care the first time to rule out a heart attack! Lol. The symptoms didn’t go away so they diagnosed me with acid reflux and stress is likely the cause!

    I hope things get better for you!

  • Reply
    Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    Veronica, THANK YOU for sharing this and being courageous enough to honestly share something that could be considered so personal. I can relate on EVERY level, down to not feeling like you’re actually that busy. I could have written the same post substituting my own full plate items for yours. It’s hard to know when to just put it all down and find peace when you feel like you want to do it all, have it all and be amazing at all of it. I recently had a scary heart incident and I’m now working with a cardiologist to make sure my heart is healthy and figure out why I’m having issues. At 39, that’s a wake up call to learn to let things go a little bit. Reading about another woman so similar to myself that ‘seems’ to have it all together on the outside is a relief. We see these picture perfect depictions of lives on social media or simply other women we see out and about and it’s hard to remember that beneath the surface she might be swimming in the same waters. Thank you for putting this out there, it was exactly what i needed to read tonight. Love to you!!!

  • Reply
    Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    Thank you for posting this! I can really relate. Your post is a nice reminder to slow down and take those much needed breaks.

  • Reply
    Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    Proud of you and all of the steps you’re taking to better not only your health but your mental health and for sharing your journey! : )

    Social media is the bane of my existence these days, I love it because I meet people (like you!) that I am able to connect with and form a friendship with but at the same time I too find myself struggling to keep up.

  • Reply
    Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 5:43 am

    I love your honesty here, it’s beautiful 💜 I hope I win the juice raffle! The flavor that I want to try most is the “master cleanse”. I could totally use it right now before I go on a trip in June!! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 6:26 am

    Oh, I am so sorry your anxiety kicked up like that. I struggled with postpartum anxiety after my daughter was born, and realized I had struggled with some level of anxiety for most of my life. I also started therapy and it has really helped, although I’m doing EFT.

    Bearing in mind that this is “one more thing to do”, something that has really helped me is meditation. I use the Headspace app and the 10 introductory sessions are about 10 minutes long, but there’s also a pack just focused on anxiety that’s included with the app’s purchase. It’s something I try to do after my daughter’s bedtime, or before I workout in the morning.

    I really appreciate that you’ve shared this journey of how you’re focusing (and finding ways to overcome) your anxiety.

  • Reply
    Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Thank you for sharing! The way you described you anxiety is the same way I’ve tried to explain mine before. I’m working out! I’m not that busy! When in fact I feel like I can’t breathe half of the day. I think a lot of highly driven women put more pressure on themselves than necessary (myself included!) I hope you can take some things off your plate and feel better soon!

  • Reply
    Rachel @ Better LIVIN
    Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 7:11 am

    Anxiety is a b***h! Thank you for sharing this because all I could do was my nod head along with you throughout this post. If you’re a person who is used to working all the time “just relaxing” doesn’t come easy. My form of relaxing is listening to a show on Netflix while I clean or do laundry, otherwise I’m always working on something else.

    I really hope you can find that balance your body needs! And if you figure out how to relax, could you maybe share? 🙂

  • Reply
    Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 7:51 am

    Thank you for sharing. I totally understand. This year I’ve been as happy in my career as I’ve ever been, my sister moved to Nashville which was exciting, and I’m traveling which I love. My mood and anxiety has been all over the place. Several times I’ve asked myself “what is wrong with me?” Your post makes so much sense!

  • Reply
    Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 8:09 am

    I can totally relate to this and what you’re going through. I have severe anxiety and it really does manifest itself in very surprising ways. I hope that things get better, but you’re doing an amazing job and I hope you are able to get those breaks!

  • Reply
    Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 8:10 am

    I just wanted to say that you are very brave for putting yourself out there like this. I have had social anxiety for roughly 15 years and I still haven’t had the courage to see a therapist, because, well…. anxiety. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 8:18 am

    I struggle with over-scheduling too. I work 50+ hours a week and I realized I was trying to fill our weekends with “fun” to make up for them being in school/daycare. My 2 daughters were constantly getting invited to b-day parties, so we made a family rule that we will only go 1 birthday party a weekend, as I realized all the parties, shopping for gifts, logistics was a giant weekend time suck. Also, the first day of the month, my husband and I mark out 1 weekend day on our calendar to “do nothing”. I try to schedule our dance and sports on the week nights or 1st thing Saturday morning so we can actually relax on the weekends. We also outsource things like cleaning, grocery delivery, landscaping and I do all of my Target shopping on my lunch break, so we can have more family/free time. Hopefully you can find a good balance that works for you and your family!

  • Reply
    janice stern
    Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Wishing you all the best. Just breathe and one day at a time.

  • Reply
    Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Wow. I’ve been following your blog for years (love it!) but I’m not sure if I’ve ever posted before today. Almost exactly the same thing that you describe here happened to me very recently. In the last eight months, I’ve taken the GRE, applied to graduate school, gotten into a PhD program, took on a major research project, sold my house, began plans to move across the country, and I’ve been working full time. In early March, I decided that life had “calmed down” so I could take on more challenges. Since then, I’ve been doing Couch to 5k, decided to go on a shopping “fast,” joined a meditation course and a mindful eating class, began a yoga challenge, became a vegetarian, worked to get 15,000 steps a day instead of 10,000, and began a “bucket list” of things I wanted to do in my city before moving. I’ve kept up with all of them, but about three weeks ago, I began waking up in a panic in the middle of the night, have found it hard to breathe deeply, and have found myself more irritable in traffic and towards my co-workers. I finally realized that, though I’m very goal oriented, I can’t keep up with all of these goals and maintain my emotional well-being (it pains me a little to even type that). I’ve been updating my therapist on my progress, but a couple of weeks ago she asked what brings me joy and peace. Similar to you, I just stared, dumb-founded.
    Before, I was shopping, binge watching Netflix, and often eating unhealthy as a way to comfort myself as I was dealing with all of the stress in my life. I was trying to create better habits, but, like you, I’ve realized that balance and moderation are the keys to a successful life. Though I was driving myself pretty hard, I still have moments of guilt when I forget to do yoga or buy a pair of shoes I like.
    Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone and that it’s okay to “lean back.”

  • Reply
    Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Love this post and how it’s really shined a light on how I’m feeling lately. Im a single mom to a teenager. I just bought a new house, got a dog, and also have a cat with a broken leg who requires weekly vet visits until his splint comes off. I try to workout 3-4 days a week at the gym in addition to the 3x daily dog walks. My son’s grades are about to literally drive me crazy. My fiance also needs attention and work is very demanding. On top of all that, I manage on a constant basis a chronic disease (Type 1 diabetes) that can really affect my mood, energy and wellness. I don’t know how my hair isn’t falling out!
    However, I have taken steps lately to chill things out a little bit. Working out is non-negotiable, but I say no to any mid-week events. I am fortunately in a place in my career where networking is not a huge priority for me anymore, so happy hours and other outside of work hours events are not going to happen. I’ve reduced screen time, and try to take maybe 30 minutes to take a hot bath or read a chapter in a book. But the biggest change I’ve made is sticking to a hard bedtime. I literally could stay up all night and watch tv (bc I feel like I don’t have time for it during regular hours LOL) but I turn out the lights and tv at 10pm. I have been so much more well-rested that I’m actually waking up before my alarm now.
    On another note – I have had several experiences with not being able to take that deep breaths. It’s SO STRESSFUL, and just reading your post was making me take really deep breaths. Turned out my problem was that I have some weird allergy to an ingredient in gum!
    Anyway, I just love yoru blog and just reading this post and all the comments are a sign that we are not alone in our struggles. 🙂

  • Reply
    Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 10:13 am

    I think you should be very proud of yourself for taking these steps, and for recognizing that it’s ok to feel overwhelmed by life (we all do) and that you need to step back sometimes. I also think that maybe putting your phone down more and maybe not posting so many snaps of your kids on Instagram stories and Snapchat might help you. I realize that you likely just want to share cute things that your kids are doing, but doing it as often as you do is probably not helping you to be present in the moment, as I’m sure that part of your brain is preoccupied with about posting the videos to keep up with social media – so even that downtime with your kids that I know you value, is not the relaxing time it should be because your mind isn’t 100% focused on what your kids are doing. I don’t mean this as criticism so I hope you don’t take it that way. Those of us who enjoy sharing how adorable our kids are with the world are all guilty of this sometimes, and I think bloggers put that pressure on themselves to always “share their world” with people who read their blogs – but no one wants you to be doing that at the expense of your mental health, and no one is offended or upset if you skip posting on Snapchat or Instastories – and if they are, then that’s their problem. Take care of yourself, so you can take care of your family.

  • Reply
    Nicole D
    Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 10:56 am

    I want to try the Suja Drinking Vinegar.

  • Reply
    Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Thank you for this post!

  • Reply
    Quincy Mason
    Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    I am super thankful for your honesty and willingness to be open about your anxiety and CBT! It has been a life changing thing for me as well. I know that chest heaviness too well. It is almost like my body can be stresses an even overwhelmed and it doesn’t tell me–it just manifests as anxiety! I’ve learned that (through lots of CBT sessions and biblical counseling) I am a person who requires rest and doesn’t function well going 100 mph and that’s ok. I still work out, work full time as a nurse, take care of my husband and our home. I just am honest with myself about what I can expect of myself and listen to my body cues. And I HAVE TO decompress after work (which I’m sure you experience similiar situations in your healthcare job) to keep the anxiety at bay. My husband understands and lets me take about 30 minutes alone after work to take a bath and just filter through my day. Prayers for you and your anxiety to improve! If you are interested, I really enjoyed adding Christian counseling to my routine. I found that most CBT exercises and beliefs can be found in the Bible and vice versa (like the importance of rest).. this got lengthy, I apologize!

  • Reply
    Friday, April 21, 2017 at 8:48 am

    the drinking vinegars look so interesting!

  • Reply
    Amy Allen
    Friday, April 21, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    I can def. relate to your post being a wife, mom of 2 and work full time! Life can def. get crazy and you try so hard to be the best you can be for your husband, kids and job! Sometimes you forget to take care of yourself and I’m very happy you are taking a step back and live in the moment. Thank you for your honesty and will continue to be a loyal reader!

  • Reply
    Friday, April 21, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    I love your honesty, it’s refreshing and why I keep coming back. Take care!

    I would love to try the probiotic water.

    • Reply
      Monday, April 24, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      thank you Jess 🙂

  • Reply
    Friday, April 21, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    This post really struck a chord with me– thank you so much for sharing!

    These drinks look amazing– I’d be most excited to try the apple celery!

    • Reply
      Monday, April 24, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Laura— I’ve been so surprised by how many women are relating to this post— it seems like a lot of us are always pushing ourselves to the limit. I hope we can all learn to slow down a little bit.

  • Reply
    Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    Hi Veronika, I know you have gotten into listening to podcasts lately (so have I!). I recently started listening to the Happiness Podcast by Dr. Robert Puff and I think you might like it too. Thanks for your honest post! It seems like many of us women are feeling the same way you are!

    • Reply
      Monday, April 24, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      thank you- I will add it to my podcast list!

  • Reply
    Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Great post – thanks for sharing! I would love to the Green Delight. Looks like a delicious way to get more greens 🙂

  • Reply
    Caroline L
    Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Oooh that “Spark” flavor looks so good!

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us – I’ve been feeling some physical manifestations of anxiety lately, and this was a reminder to be attuned to what your body and mind are needing – and not what others are telling you / what you’re telling yourself/THINK that you need.

    • Reply
      Monday, April 24, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Caroline- thank you for your comment! I hope I can learn to slow down a little bit.

  • Reply
    Jennifer Tisdel
    Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    I love Suja! Fuel and Purify are my favs.

    Good luck Veronika! This season of life goes by so quickly. Be sure to take time to enjoy the little moments.

    • Reply
      Monday, April 24, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      thank you so much Jennifer <3

  • Reply
    Monday, April 24, 2017 at 8:11 am

    Wow! Thank you so much for this post. I’ve read your blog for a while and really love it. This post touched me because just last week, the stresses in my live converged and I couldn’t take full breaths. Then, the next day I broke out in hives. I took this weekend to take stock. I guess I’m glad my body put on the emergency brake, but sad that it took an extreme physical reaction for me to pay attention to what was going on. It’s so simple for stressors to become your new “normal,” especially when you are always striving to do your best. Thanks again for this honest post. I wish you all the luck in your journey!

    • Reply
      Monday, April 24, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      Isn’t it amazing how our bodies and minds are so connected? It’s such a tough thing to learn to slow down sometimes. Best of luck with your journey as well.

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