My partner and I are committing to a 30-days of no desserts diet from May 20, 2014, and the start of World Pride in Toronto (June 20-29). Why? We both want to look and feel our best during Pride. And why not? We spend a lot of time exercising and working out to stay in top shape.

Gay Pride is a celebration of many things, most notably sexual freedom, diversity, and expression. Celebrating Pride with millions of people is an awesome and liberating experience. You’ve seen the pictures of scantily clad people at Pride events around the world — it’s fun and liberating to to celebrate our physical bodies at Pride and I have no shame in taking my shirt off in public. Christiaan suggested this ‘no-dessert’ goal on Sunday. I felt it was a great idea, but for another more important reason than looking good at Pride.

I Feel Fat

Darren Stehle Pride 2013. Photo by Burke Campbell

Me & Christiaan, Pride 2013. Photo by Burke Campbell

I’ve been feeling sluggish and I’ve allowed myself to eat more desserts that I ever have in the last six months. I’ve noticed a gradual increase of body fat around my midsection, below my navel and at the iliac crest. This is not where you want to gain extra weight as that’s usually indicative of increased abdominal-visceral fat — fat around your organs.

The additional fat is noticeable to me and it bothers me. I’ve been keeping track of my body weight and body fat measurements using a bio-impedance scale.

On January 11, 2014, I weighed 157 pounds with 13 pounds body fat, or 8.3% BF.
As of May 08, 2014, I weighed 161.8 pounds with 17.2 pounds body fat, or 10.7 % BF.

I know those numbers are not the end of the world and people will not run away screaming if I take off my shirt!

My Body Mass Index and BF % are both considered normal (healthy BF for males is approx. 10-20%).

However, this is still an increase in the wrong direction. Luckily my skeletal muscle mass has remained the same (only a difference of 0.3 pounds). Given that I’m 48 it’s important for my general health to maintain muscle mass. For personal and aesthetic reasons I’d like to add a few more pounds of lean muscle.

Sugar Is the Enemy

La Rocca Truffle Royale CakeI’m not making excuses for my choices. My partner has a sweet tooth and a much faster metabolism that I do (he’s also much younger). He will bring home desserts a few times per week. Before we lived together I would only have desserts infrequently. When I did I would have a single serving sometimes out at dinner. Maybe once a month I would bring something home, but rarely would I gorge.

Since moving in together last June I’ve been eating a lot more dessert, and as a result craving sugar on a daily basis. Now I’m also bringing home desserts or asking him if he’s going to pick up something at the store.

It’s been interesting to observe how much easier it became to eat dessert living with him. Monkey see, monkey do — our social surroundings can influence our behaviours and choices, but we can still choose how to respond. I don’t know how many clients I’ve spoken with about their social influences, and now here I am “advising” myself.

Sometimes We Have to Feel a Lot of Pain Before We Can Change

A few weeks ago I had a major sugar craving. I was having a bad day — I was frustrated with business growth, wondering if I was doing the right thing, and keeping myself motivated to be productive. Truffle cake nutrition label On the way home from training clients I stopped in at Loblaw’s and bought a La Rocca Truffle Royale Cake. This is an absolutely delicious, rich cake.

There was only one problem — I ate half of it in one sitting. It’s simply not in my nature to over-eat or to eat for emotional reasons. Even while I was eating the cake I knew I was trying to mask my emotional frustrations and was literally making myself feel sick on purpose.

When I woke up the next morning morning I was achy everywhere. I couldn’t lay comfortably in any position. I had to go to the bathroom, but I was too tired and weak to get up. I felt bloated as if I had just eaten a huge meal even though it was only 6 AM. I was angry with myself. I knew I didn’t need to eat that cake the night before and I certainly didn’t need to eat half of it.

According to the nutritional information on the cake, I consumed 1200 Calories! WHAT!? This is a real-cream cake and over 50% of the Calories come from saturated fat. The amount of sugar I consumed was approx. 80 grams — that’s 16 teaspoons of sugar!

No Wonder I Felt Like Shit!

The first thing I did after finally getting out of bed was to have a big glass of water with fresh lemon juice and then an espresso (as I usually do with about ½ tsp. of raw unpasturized honey). Drinking my coffee I was thinking about how I could get out of my foul mood and physical discomfort. I decided to do some work and then go to the gym. I made two more espressos because I could not wake up — I was having major difficulty getting energized. The third espresso seemed to do the trick so I headed out to the gym.

I wasn’t sure how well I would. My routine for that day was a mostly body weight and very high reps lower-body workout. Surprisingly, after warming up and completing my abdominal circuit I was energized to complete the routine. At the end of the work out I congratulated myself — I recognized my achievement and was proud that I convinced myself to train. I didn’t do less than what I was capable of.

On the walk home I realized how much better I felt. Back at home I made a healthy greens protein smoothie and I felt amazing. I had completely changed my emotional state for the better. I made a healthy choice by working out, and working off some of the excess Calories from the night before. Had I not gone to the gym I would’ve felt like crap all day long.

Does it Help to Make Your Goals Public?

I’ve decided to make public my 30-days of no desserts diet goal. I want to demonstrate that I practice what I preach. I don’t like how the extra fat around my waist makes me feel, both physically (I feel bloated) and aesthetically. I’ve always had a flat stomach and a six-pack for the longest time. I know what I want to see in the mirror and I’m currently not seeing it. My body is subpar at the moment.

I’m doing this goal as an experiment. I’m going keep you updated about how I’m doing with my goal — be it success or setback.

The maintenance of a healthy bodyweight is dependent on your knowledge, preparation, healthy eating habits adjusted to your lifestyle, and your social environment. If your friends, family, or partner eat in a way that doesn’t help you to achieve your body weight goals, or if they don’t support your goals, it will be much more difficult for you to succeed.

My partner and I are doing this together. Feel free to join us in you own 30-day health goal — tell me your goal in the comments form at the end of this post!

No More Honey in My Coffee

Anyone for 'Iced-Coffee'?

Anyone for ‘Iced-Coffee’?

As of Monday, May 19, 2014 I didn’t put any raw honey in my espresso. I realize just how addicted I am to the sweetness it brings. To help with the transition I added a dash of ground cinnamon and a couple drops of pure, organic vanilla extract. YUM!

If I’m going to cut out dessert, I realize I need to cut out all forms of processed sugar. Since I cook my own food having honey in my espresso was the only other place I was consuming sugar. Dr Mercola wrote an interesting article about the health benefits of coffee and how they are diminished when you add sugar or milk. Given how much I love expresso, I also want to reap the health benefits.

First Day of No Desserts and the First Test of My Willpower


Don’t you just want to devour these!?

On Monday afternoon my partner sent me a text message wondering if I wanted cupcakes. I said no. He came home with two delicious looking cupcakes that we both love. This was my “Day 1” test.

For dinner we had a roast chicken that I made in the slow cooker. It was a huge meal and a little bit on the rich side, because I made a gravy from the drippings. I was full. Christiaan got out the cupcakes and offered one to me again. I know how good it would have tasted, but I was ready to commit to my goal. I passed the test.

One of the other problems I’ve had with eating desserts is that we usually eat it after dinner around 8pm. This is one of the worst times to eat sugar — after a big meal and only a couple of hours before bed. It messes up your digestions, makes your stomach more acidic, you can feel bloated, and it even gives some people bad dreams.

Making Healthy Choices and Better Decisions to Compliment My No Desserts Diet

I’ve decided that I’m going to get up during the week at 5 AM with Christiaan, take Buster out for a 10-minute walk, and then go to the gym for 6 AM. This will start on Tuesday morning.

I won’t eat breakfast before working out to see how that affects my body fat loss goal. I’m basing this decision on research mentioned in an article by Dr Mercola on the Benefits of Exercising Before Breakfast. I’ll be home by 8:30, have breakfast, take Buster out for his longer morning walk, shower, and then get to work by 10 AM.

Putting My New Choices into Practice

Day 1: Monday, May 19. Success! No sugar. It was an easy day, in part because it was a holiday in Canada (Victoria Day).

Day 2: Tuesday, 20 May. Success with the new morning schedule. We both got up and out of bed at 5 AM and I was the first person at the gym for 6 AM.

I drank 25 grams of whey protein with 5 grams of branched-chain amino acids 30-minutes before my workout. Drank only water with a slice of lemon during my workout.

For breakfast I had three eggs, two slices of bacon, a large handful of spinach, and a small bowl of cream of wheat with fresh pineapple.

My body felt fantastic all day, but my brain was not accustomed to waking up earlier or working out at a completely new time. Definitely tired and a bit out of it all day long. I wanted honey in my espresso but I let it go.

Day 3: Wednesday, 21 May. Success! Got up a bit later at 5:20 AM. I didn’t hear the alarm and my boyfriend didn’t wake me up!100% Whole Grain Steel Cut Oats I didn’t have an espresso yesterday morning, but I wanted to see what would happen if I had one before my workout.

Made it to the gym for 6:20 AM. 12 minutes warm-up on the treadmill followed by a very deep, relaxing stretch for 1-hour.

Breakfast 8 AM: Three eggs with a slice of peameal bacon, one slice of cheddar cheese, and a handful of spinach. Bowl of steel-cut oatmeal (¼ cup dry oats with 1 cup water, cooked).

I felt much more awake, rested and clearheaded all day. I ate my own home-cooked meals and felt satisfied.

After dinner I mentioned to Christiaan that I had a slight craving for something sweet. He felt the same way. I think it might have been both craving and habit.

Only 27-Move Days to Go!

I’ll update you on my progress intermittently. I’m excited to see both physical changes and feel less cravings.

Have you ever attempted to go a month, on longer, without eating desserts, sugar or processed foods? Tell me about your experience in the comments form below.

Transparent Darren

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