Amount lost (to Aug 22): 20 lbs
How long it’s taken me (to August 22): 9 weeks
Amount spent on diet books, diet programs, diet clubs: $0. Zero. Nada. Nothing. Zilch.
My Story So Far
The last week in June I stopped eating sugar — by which I mean all sugars aside from the sugar that occurs naturally in raw fruits, vegetables, a few other foods, and in trace amounts in the whole grain products like bread and crackers (which I don’t eat too much of). I also cut out sweeteners — my thinking being that if I didn’t get rid of “fake” sugar, I’d never get over sugar.
I treated it like quitting an addiction. The first few days were very hard. As I had done when I quit smoking fourteen years ago (which was when I started adding on the pounds), I took a page of graph paper, and I marked off a grid 7 squares by 24 squares to represent one week. Each time I made it through an hour, I shaded in a square with pencil. My goal was to make it through just ONE month of sugar-less eating, to see what would happen. After the first month I decided to go for two months. I’m now heading for the goal of three months.
It was easier to stick to my resolve because I did not set out to lose weight (although of course I hoped that would be a side-benefit). I set out to cut out sugar for health reasons, just to see what would happen, and I only set out to cut it out for one month. So I was counting days rather than calories or pounds lost. When I had a weight-loss plateau, which I did at one point, it didn’t matter because I was doing this to eliminate the sugar, not the weight. To see if I could make it for a month.
When I went on this program, I was the heaviest I have ever been in my life, and forty pounds heavier than that. Over the past ten years, I had become utterly demoralized by the fact that I had written a novel that I thought was great, I loved it, but I couldn’t sell it. It was my third novel. The first had been published by smaller presses and had done really well, and I wanted a larger publisher this time. I felt the book deserved it. But I had been rejected by nearly 100 publishers and agents.
The book is called The Whole Clove Diet but it is NOT A DIET BOOK, and nobody needs to read it to do what I have done. The Whole Clove Diet is a story about one woman, Rita Turner, and if anything it is how she got her head in the right place to be able to start to eat healthy foods — and then inadvertently lost weight. Which is what I did too, but in a different way, eating different foods, and for different reasons.
I had a lot of personal stresses during those ten years, but the worst part was that I did not feel like a writer any more because I had no readers. All my books were out of print. I had written what I thought was a great NEW book, and no one would even read it! (About three agents/editors out of the 100 rejections even wanted to look at the first page). I’d disappeared completely off the literary landscape. I felt like I was a has-been. I turned 60. My only successes were ten years behind me and they included quitting smoking and publishing three works of fiction. (Well, I’d also raised two fine sons, but that’s beside the point in this story — they have their own lives now, thank heavens.)
My arthritis got worse and worse and as my weight increased, it became harder to get out and do things. I stopped running. I avoided going for walks. I was so lacking in confidence about who I was (a writer! I am a writer!) that I lost track of my core strengths, my hope, and my zest. By this spring, I was walking like an old lady because I had a Morton’s neuroma in one foot and a sore hip. All my joints were painful.
Two years ago I had watched Robert H. Lustig’s amazing video, Sugar: The Bitter Truth. Lustig is a professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California San Francisco, and he explores the damage that is caused to our bodies by sugary foods. He calls it a “poison.” He says that it is “toxic.” He has all the scientific studies you could want to back up his assertions: track them back to their sources. You can check them out for yourself. I was blown away by this video, and sent the link to almost everyone I knew.
I had been reading more and more information over the years about the bad effects of refined sugar (e.g. this article entitled “Cancer cells slurp up sugar“) and I knew that every additional M & M I ate was adding to my current and potential health problems. As I became officially “obese,” I increased my risk of diabetes and Alzheimer’s and a bunch of other diseases I didn’t want. And it got harder and harder to walk, and more and more difficult to open jars with my arthritic fingers. My clothes got tighter. I was getting older before my very eyes. Miserable, depressed, I ate another bowl of ice cream.
By now the literary landscape from which I’d disappeared had changed, so (given my extensive background in publishing and editing) I decided to take the plunge and self-publish The Whole Clove Diet — if for no other reason than to get it off my desk so that I could write my next novel.
And as so often happens in this creative business, things did not go the way the rejecting agents and publishers had thought, and I am now hopeful that some day I will be able to tell them, “I told you so.” (I have kept their email addresses for this very reason.) So far, readers seem to like my book a lot and it’s also received some great critical acclaim and even an award.
With a new book out, even a self-published one (although now I am totally won over to self-publishing and am happy this book didn’t have a traditional publisher: my next novel won’t, either. I co-authored it with another writer. It’s a rollicking western based on the story of Don Quixote, and it’ll be out in a few months) I started to feel like my old self again, and I was able to start looking at my mobility difficulties as issues that could be addressed if I set my mind to it. I started to look forward to the future (my NEXT books. I can’t wait to write them! — I have always felt this way until the last few years when the feeling had gone away, and I’d been afraid I’d never write another. But it’s back. I am so happy.)
For the same reasons that I’d wanted to quit smoking for twenty years before I did it — which was to be healthy so I could write, travel, read, visit and inhale the smells of the world for as many more years as I could — I was ready to get healthy. And based on viewing Lustig’s video, and reading Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman’s books (yes: I admit it. I do want to live forever. And be healthy while I’m doing it), and reading the science that is behind a lot of other diets (including most notably The Zone, which I find a good model to follow, but anything healthy will do), I decided to stop eating sugar. And to wean myself from sweets.
My first goal was to reduce the swelling in my fingers and toes and knees — and it’s happened! I am in SO much less pain than I was two months ago, I can’t believe it. The weight loss has helped with the knees and toes, I guess, but the fingers!! WoW! Yeah! Hand me that jar of pickles! That had to be the sugar. My chiropractor (Dr. Evelyn Bak, owner and founder of the Balance Health Group in Toronto. She’s a genius plus I actually DID the exercises she gave me) has started to make a difference to muscle problems in the hip region that are several decades old, and the neuroma is almost gone.
I also have about 100 times more energy (no afternoon slumps!) than I did when I was shoving candy, ice cream and baked goods in my face. And that helps my self-confidence too.
So I’m back. And I’m telling you this because YOU DON’T need to spend ANY MONEY to start losing the weight and getting healthier. You can just stop eating sugar. If you need a support network, go on to one of the weight-loss forums like diet.com that is free and isn’t connected to any particular group (we can even start a No Sugar group over there if someone wants to do that).
And if you need a reason, watch Lustig. He has a bunch of shorter videos out now too. They’re free. And they will give you all the reason in the world to stop eating sugar even if you don’t need to lose weight. It’s a killer. All I’ve done is stopped poisoning myself.
I am hoping to make this a way of life. It’s not a diet. I eat almost anything that doesn’t have sugar added to it.
I am still less than half way to the shape I want to be — and I want to be that shape because it’s healthy, not because it’s “hot.” I’m already hot–that part’s in my head. 🙂
I’ll keep you posted.