Sugar alternatives

We all have our little weaknesses, I don’t know about you, but mine is every piece of food that is sweet. If it was healthy and possible to eat just chocolate it would be my case.

I think our tastes come from a place of habits.

I have never been a soda and chips girl. We never had sodas or any salted foods at my parent’s house, except for birthdays. My mom cooked very simple meals with natural ingredients. I remember we had ketchup on the table only on sundays to eat with our fries. She didn’t used much salt but spices and replace sugar with cannelle and other ingredients when cooking pastries.

She used to cook us home made cakes and I never got tired of it. I can’t talk about addiction but for sure I am a sweet-mouth girl. Whenever I am happy, sad, excited or stressed, I want to eat sugar.

I tried to suppress it completely of my food intake but it’s really hard because there is sugar … basically everywhere.

I am not eating white chemical sugar anymore but I need/like my sugar intake every week from different sources : chocolate, ice cream or cereal bars.

I am trying to suppress as much as I can because it’s a really toxic product to take. I have learned in different studies that’s even more addictive than cocaine. It also increase obesity tendancies, diabetese, mood and energy swings.

Like everything in life I think we can have it with moderation. To help you reduce your instake you can replace your white chemical sugar by :

  • Birch sugar : this natural sugar is found in vegetables lie cauliflower, plums and red fruits. It taste like chemical white sugar but it doesn’ t increase so much the sugar level in the blood after a meal. Careful with the quantity, if you eat too much of it you can get flatulences and diarrheas (not sexy but real).
  • Honey: this natural one has anti-inflammatories, antiseptics and anti-bacterials properties. You can put in your tea, yogurts, granola cereals and use with ginger it can help you to cure your cold sore.
  • Stevia : it’s been pretty famous the last couple of years. It comes from a South America plant Stevia Rebaundiana. It doesn’t contain calories and don’t attack the teeths. But it has a bitter taste so everybody doesn’t like it (hate it personnaly).
  • Agave syrup: it comes from a Mexican plant, taste like honey but it is more liquid. In addition of vitamins and minerals it also contains a lot of fructose sor careful with the amount you use.
  • Coconut sugar : it has the same sugary power as white chemical sugar but cost way more money because of it extraction process. It has also the same amount of magnesium, zinc and iron so keep your consumption reasonable.
  • Maple syrup: one of the best Canadian product I have ever eaten. You can use for pretty much everything with as pancakes, crepes, yogurts, tea…

A lot of sugar alternatives are not as healthy as we would think. A lot of these have a lot of fructose or are extracted with a chemical process.

The best advice I can give you is you try all of them with different recipes so you can feel what you like more and be reasonnable with the quantity.

Also keep in mind it’s a long process to reduce this consumption but it’s possible. I used to put 5 squares of sugar in my tea, I only put 1 spoon of honey on it now.

Living abroad

The moments I have spent abroad taught me a lot of things on every level.

I have learnt to be independent, adapt myself to every situation, appreciate moments on my own, take initiatives and organize myself.

Let’s also be honest, I am not going to pretend I have not been scared and did mistakes. I did a lot. I felt stupid a lot of times, I lost myself in many occasions and I have spent money on stupid ways. But that’s the purpose, you do a mistake, so you can learn from it.

You have to take care of everything and every shit that happens, it’s on you. And believe me, shit always happens. But you can’t do anything to plan every second of every day. There are always good and bad surprises that’s life. So, you learn to breath, calm down and accept that a lot of things that you can’t control are going to happen and you will have to accept iT.

Living in another country on my own has taught me to go with the flow and be patient. Generally, when you have problem with a reservation, your rental, your phone or your papers, nothing get solved in a couple of minutes.

Here is a little review of my trips outside of France:

  • After I graduated my Licence degree, I packed a suitcase and a bag and left to discover London in England. It’s because of this trip that I achieved my actual English level. During this year I lived in a small house in a not-really-good but safe neighbourhood with other young people trying to improve their English skills. I have been working as a waitress in a pub, really cliche, with the regulars every night asking for the same amount of beers. I also worked in a clothes shop and since then, I have admiration for people working in this area. There is nothing more annoying than spending 20 minutes folding a pile of clothes and then having a client destroying it in 10 seconds.

Last but not least, I have been a barista in Starbucks and I can honestly say it has been one the toughest jobs I had in my life.

London is an expensive but very nice city to live. There is always a lot of different things to do and once you passed the typical touristic spots, there are amazing little places hidden in every neighbourhood.

What I liked the most is how British people don’t care about the way you are dressed and clothed. People have very different styles and they aren’t scared to do what they want.

A spirit I never found in France. I can’t speak and generalize an entire population but from my experience, English people are very much less judgmental and it’s a release.

  • After this year in a rainy environment (still better than my native Normandy), I chose to go to Spain to also improve my second language. As I have Spanish origins in my family and went to Spain every summer since I was a baby, that was kind of an obvious choice.

I went to the Alicante University, in the province of Valencia and studied in one year my Communication Master’s degree. The classes were really interesting, modern and collaborative. I was the only French, all the classes were in Spanish and we were a very mixed group of students. A part of the class was coming from the city but the majority from different parts of Spain and various countries of South America and East Europe.

It has been very interesting to learn from so many various cultures. Also, Spanish people know how to work hard but also, they know how to party hard, especially in Alicante where you have sun all year around.

What was better than England and very similar to France, was the food. Spain has incredible fresh foods and each province has its own recipes and treats.

I keep as a souvenir a population suffering from the civil war and fighting numerous economic and political problems, but with a ferocious willing to enjoy life.

  • After my master’s degree I stayed in France for two years and a half. During this period, I travelled for short weekends and holidays. I celebrated one of my birthdays in Amsterdam, two New Years in London and I went back to Spain during the summers.

I made two road trips that made me fall in love with North America.

One in Canada for a month by myself: I went to Quebec, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

One to California with friends: LA, San Francisco, Vegas and a lot of small towns in between.

It took me a long time to get there but every time I was in Canada or United States I thought, “I will be back to live here someday’. Which led me in 2017 to my next move in Montreal.

  • May I say the obvious: it has been the coldest year of my life. No one can complain to me about cold except for people who lived in Canada or any country from the North.

I have to endure the all freezing winter but what a human experience. By far Canadian people, Quebecois for the least, are so welcoming, warm and easy to live with.

It stuck in my mind and I repeat all the time now, it’s a cold country but full of warm people.

I have had crazy work experiences and I made friends for life. You have to make tight relationships to endure this type of cold for months (and a lot of alcohol, it helps stay warms, we use the same excuse in Normandy).

Montreal is a really special place because there is a huge mix of different cultures. The city also has two faces, one for the winter that you wouldn’t recognize during the summer. It seems like another planet, everybody is outside all the time and the city teems of activities.

From the beginning I knew this place was going to be temporary for me because my ultimate goal was to go to America. But I am really grateful for the year I spend there and the people that crossed my path.

  • My most recent move is to Miami. As a former Normande who spend a lot of time on rainy and snowy places, I wanted my spot in the sun. I took several trips to Miami during my year in Montreal, I liked the energy and made it my new destination goal.

As I am living here only since a couple of weeks, I will give you guys a feedback in a couple of months. For now, I still feel like a tourist in an adaptation mode, looking all the time for the landmarks I have lost.

To conclude, to each and every one of you that fears to go abroad for a week or a year, just go. Jump and go. It doesn’t matter if it goes how you were expecting it or not. You will learn tons of stuff and you will grow as a person. Of course, to do so, you will have to try and don’t give up when the difficulties are coming to you.

When I was in London, I had a lot of roommates that left after only a couple of weeks because they found it too hard to work with a low English level. I get it. But if you give up and go home where you can speak only French and stay in your comfort zone, how do you expect to improve your language skills?

Believe me, I watch shows in English and Spanish and I read books and articles in those languages. It helps, but it won’t make all the work and won’t make you bilingual. There is nothing more efficient than living in a country to improve your language because you doesn’t give you the choice. You are forced to adapt yourself and get better because you don’t want to feel uncomfortable and stupid all the time.

If you guys want more details or advices about one of the trips I did, just tell me and I will develop more.

Fitness stars

As I said in a previous article, I fell hard for the « fitness » discipline but not for the good reasons. To me, it was just another way to work on a physique I was never happy about.

I had the perfect answer for my family and closed friends, worried about my anorexic past : it’s a healthy sport, I have to eat whole foods, drink plenty of water, and sleep at least 8 hours a day. What’s not healthy on that ?

Well it is super simple, it’s not healthy in the way that you can quickly only care about your image and base your self worth on the way you look.

You get into it even more when you create your social media accounts and you follow only the members of this community. It’s the day to day race for the hashtags, the pic progresses.

Even if everybody say we do it for health, we certainly do it more the image. It’s a race where you win if you have the « perfect » shape implied by the industry.

And for women it’s a battle that seems impossible to reach according to our natural body composition. If you follow fitness successful gurus you will notice that most of them have gone under surgery and a lot of competitors are taking drugs to achieve and maintain their physique.

There is nothing wrong about getting breats implants, I know a lot of women that have done it and they don’t practice sport. That’s not the problem.

The issue is when you have a 23 years old bikini athlete that sells supposed customized trainings programs and meals plans, saying « if you do my challenge you will get my body », when you clearly see that she doesn’t only eat chicken and brocoli.

It’s a marketing lie. But hey, it works and it makes a lot of people have incredible successful lives. I myself spend money on following programs of a few of this fitgirls. I never received the supposed support and customed plans they sold.

For months I have felt bad because I was trying to reduce a gap between what my body was and the image I had cristallized in my head : a feminine women body with muscles and a very low body fat percentage.

From what I have experienced with online and one on one trainers, is that a lot of these supposed professionals are frauds. They don’t use personalized meals plans and training plans. They don’t sell you a product because its good but because they have a contract with the brand. They use photoshop, drugs to stay lean, surgeries, etc…

I had to admit I will never have a body like theirs because I didn’t have the financial power to do so, neither the will power. And it’s okay. Because we need a bit of everything to make a world.

I tried for a couple of months to create a routine on my own but it wasn’t working very well because I had nobody to be accountable to and that’s a very important aspect. So when I arrived in Canada I hired a personal trainer and for the first time in two years I had a clic.

Because I had a professional experienced woman who explained to me what was possible and not according to my situation.

She said to me it was FORBIDDEN for me to go on a bikini competition due to my recent anorexic past, it would be a too dangerous process for my mental health. Aspect totally denied by my previous trainers who wanted me to go to compete quickly. She gave me scientific explainations about my body reactions and took me on a slow but steady process to improve my skills on a long term run.

If you are in Montreal area I highly recommend you to go to work with Emilie Provencher : a tittled athlete with experience, an accomplished business women with a family !

It took me a lot of followwing and unfollowing on social media to find my models.

Instagram is a dangerous tool when you don’t have a strong mind and positive image of your body.

Most of the women I follow now are moms, their take care of their bodies but also their families and their business. And with the time I have come to realize these women are way stronger and inspiring because they are doing a lot of things of their life, not only getting in shape for a photoshoot to sell the new slimming product for the summer.

They don’t just lift weight they do yoga, medidation, they run, they do calisthenics, they have charity projects, they work on their mindset, they write.

What I also like about them that they try, they fail and they teach us.

So if you have Instagram and are looking for a healthy inspiration I recommend you these accounts :

Emilie Provencher

Chontel Duncan

Sophie Guidolin

Shona Vertue

Valentina Lequeux

Lindsay Camerik (Lind Slaay)

Kelsey Wells

Morgan Tyler

Anna Victoria

My “sports” practice

When I was a teenager I was really not good at any sort of physical activity and I hated it. My parents made me practice music and dance, but sports, nope. When I was in school I was avoiding as much as I could exercise: I was feeling stupid, clumsy and didn’t wanted to sweat. I started to swim by myself when I was 17 because I didn’t like any other physical activity and being in the water is one the things I enjoy the most in my life.

In London the swimming pool was expensive and far from home, so I started running in the park next door because it was free. It took me 6 months to start to enjoy it. The first times I ran, I was with my ex-boyfriend and I cried, I swear I cried because it was so hard, and I was feeling ashamed of my level. It’s been a pain in the ass process but without more money on my account I had to get better at it.

Which led me in a year to run between 8 and 10 kilometers per day, 6 times a week when I was in Spain. I also bought a bycicle home to do some cycling in front of the tv and started a Pilates class twice a week.

I learned a lot about the resistance abilities of my body but in a stupid way and for stupid reasons. I also hurt myself a lot, had no idea about the importance of rest and recovery.

When I got back to France, I had to slow down the intensity and amounts of my workouts. The purpose was to gain weight progressively but most importantly to learn how to enjoy exercize and not use it as a punishment to myself.

I started to go to the swimming pool again, run less and started some indoor fitness group classes.

The gym was a weird and scary place to me. I felt I was the only one not knowing how to use the machines and why. With time and experience I have come to learn that most of the people that go to the gym don’t know what they are doing.

I didn’t like the group classes, so I hired a trainer and asked for a personal training combining weights, machines and bodyweight exercises. After a year, I decided to change of gym: the atmosphere and the team are really important when you choose a place to exercise. I needed a place with people more focused on their training.

In the new gym I spend more than a year before going to Canada I have learned so many things about fitness. Good and bad. How you can start with good intentions and end up hurting yourself for a « perfect » reflection in the mirror. How you are supposed to adopt a healthy lifestyle, but you don’t balance your life, focus only on the gym, your look.

In this gym I have met incredible athletes, with knowledge, work ethic. I have also met frauds, with empty heads because there were too busy taking care of their biceps to read a book once in a while. I met people, trainers and members, who would spend all their money, time and energy on drugs to look a certain way but then would say « I am healthy, I eat vegetables and chicken and only drink water ». I met men and women scarifying their health in the medium and long term to win a trophy.

It’s interesting to look back because it was not a long time ago, but fitness and bodybuilding had already reached an incredible impact on the population, and not only my generation.

Nowadays it is a huge industry, making millions per year and everybody as a reason to go to the gym, even the people that would laugh about it a couple of years ago.

Of course, there are all kinds of people with different tastes for sport, but I am pretty sure almost the majority of our generation has at least, tried it.

Aaaah fitness, the shaped oiled bodies, sponsored products and “athletes” getting out of nowhere with incredible one or two-year body transformation. I felt deep in the trend: kicking my butt in the gym, trying to calculate my macros (even if it was counter-productive for my anorexia recovery), following fitness gurus, going to the Paris Body Fitness Salon, surrounding myself with gym people who could only talk about their diet and their previous/current/next workout …

I got even so passionate and interested that I studied at home, got a personal trainer certification and when I arrived in Montreal, I worked as a personal trainer in a gym for a couple of months.

I can now say after almost three years of practice that my approach is really different.

When I first went to a gym it was to recover anorexia, try to gain some muscle and mobility back. Then, slowly, with the results coming in, I started again to be obsessed with my body image but this time, I wanted to look like a fitness model, without fat and a shredded body all year around. Well, not everybody can do that, in a couple of a month and for a life time period.

First of all, it was really dangerous for me according to my previous and not so old illness. And second, it is very stupid to put all your energy JUST in the way you look.

I started to feel depress again because despite my efforts, my body wasn’t like I wanted too.

Getting obsessed with fitness took me in the same place I had left when I was anorexic: unhappy with my body, obsessed with my body image, dysmorphia syndrome and with social and family life damages. Because let’s be honest, whatever your passion is, fitness or cars or specific collections, it is very time-confusing of the rest of your life.

You focus all your time, energy and money on this passion and it has consequences. With fitness it can quickly kill your social life: you don’t eat out, don’t drink alcohol, have to sleep at least 8 hours and you have to spend countless hours in the gym instead of doing anything else.

It took me a couple of months to understand that what I wanted of my body AND the life I wanted wasn’t compatible 100 %.

Yes, I want to have the most beautiful body as I can. But I also want to spend time stimulating my mind with expositions, movies, readings, expositions. I want to spend time with my close friends and the members of my family and don’t say no to a restaurant once in a while for the scale. Once the persons you love are gone, you can’t do anything to have them back.

My health history

I am going to resume as much as I can my experience. Anorexia and the recovery process are pretty tough and long subjects we could be talking for hours.

If some of you are interested in exchanging more about this, I will give more insights in another article or a video.

I started to have an eating disorder when I was 17, resulting from a mix of different stress factors (parent’s divorce, graduating high school, leaving for another city to study and live on my own).

At the beginning I was just eating less because of the stress. I lost weight slowly and wasn’t even noticing it. Until then I had never been really preoccupied by my weight or physical appearance because I was a “normal” girl. I was just really focused on my studies. But my family started to see a change when I was going home on the weekends. With time, they became more insistent and some of my family members really insisted of the difference on my look and the word anorexia started to pop-up.

I began to look at myself more in the mirror, track my weight, banish some food progressively, counting my calories and spending more and more time doing sports just to burn what I was eating.

Sometimes I was slowing it down, but it was really temporary and for a short period of time. I had control issues (still have but much better today) and controlling my food intake was a relief to me in a way.

Also, there is an interesting but dangerous shift in your mind that happens when you lose weight: you have a really strong feeling of power and control upon yourself. At some point I kept going only because I wanted to see how far I could go, when people would really notice and how I would feel about myself if I could lose a few more kilos.

There is no word I can use today to express the sadness, despair and exhaustion that all this journey cost me. There was not one day I was feeling good in my body and my mind. I was worried all the time, living with fear and it’s not a way to live this only life we have. At the beginning I was afraid I could not lose more weight. Later on, I was afraid of the look, judgement and comments of people around me. It’s an illness that make you very alone. You are scared of sharing your feelings and be misunderstood or rejected.

For almost three years I have been in total denial, avoiding the subject and running from every person that would even try to begin a conversation with me about it. I have lost precious moments with my family, my friends, my ex-boyfriends (yep several relationships during this period) because I didn’t wanted to eat neither drink alcohol. I was scared to go out for a coffee, a restaurant, on holidays or clubbing just for a couple of hours.

I have accepted the fact that I needed help and couldn’t recover on my own after five years of battle in my head. I was finishing my master’s degree in Spain, living with my ex-boyfriend in a beautiful country and I couldn’t enjoy anything. It hit me so hard: this was my last year of studying, I should be going out, live crazy with my man, dance, eat, drink, visit places, go to the beach. Nothing was possible with joy (I was doing all of this) because I was focusing on just one thing: keeping the numbers on the scale really low.

My romantic relationship with my ex would have never continued anyway, we were not good to each other. But my illness definitely made things worst.

One day I woke up lying on the bathroom floor, I had passed out. I can remember very clearly my sensations at that time. I was tired all the time, dizzy, nauseous, I didn’t sleep well, I was losing my hair and my body was hurting me so much. I was doing 30 minutes of bike every morning before my « breakfast » and then run 8 to 10 kilometres every night. At some point I just wanted to die because it was too hurtful and exhausting mentally to fight. That’s what I was feeling, fighting every day and for what? I could not see a point in anything at all.

I realized how bad the situation was and I thought « I never want to feel this way again. I don’t want my family to find me in a floor, lying like a piece of shit ». I was feeling like a piece of shit. So weak in my body and I hated myself for not being strong enough to fix this by myself.

I graduated my master’s degree, left my boyfriend and Spain and I went home in Normandy. First moment in a long time that I just wanted to be on my childhood home, close to my mom, in a familiar place. It was the best decision I have ever made because it led to where I am today.

During this recovery process that took me months before feeling better, I had to work hard on myself. I had to learn who I am, why I am this way, how I could really live my life with purpose, how to love myself the way I am.

I had the chance to meet amazing doctors both for my body and my mind. I have been working with a doctor specialized in nutrition, a behaviour therapist, a life coach and several personal trainers. I tried several sports to find what was good for me and how to eat in a good way for me.

I am now feeling better than ever because I work on my state of mind in priority and just not on my physical aspect. I can’t say that I feel 100 % happy with the way I look. It would be a lie and I still have to work on my insecurities. Most of them rely on the fact that I always doubt myself and my capacities, but I should not. We are all always a work in progress, we have to accept it, even if it’s fucking hard.

When I look back, I see how far I come from. I feel super strong and proud of myself. It feels like it was a different life, this girl I see on old pictures is another person. Anorexia is a tough illness that you always have to be careful about. You never fully recover, and you can slip at different stages of your life. That’s why it’s important to work on yourself on spiritual and mental levels, so you can handle the triggers that you will face, because it always happens.

The good thing is that in Canada and America food is way less good than in France and Spain, so I have less temptations!

If you guys want to share more on this topic, we can 🙂