Category Archives: No Sugar

Good news from the scale and from book-land

LATEST STATS: To November 27, 2012

Amount lost: 33.5 lbs

How long it’s taken me so far (June 20 to Nov. 20): 5 months

Someone said to me last night, on hearing my total weight loss so far and how long I’ve been sticking to my resolution not to eat sugar, “Now you’ll have to rewrite The Whole Clove Diet.

The whole point is that I DON’T have to rewrite The Whole Clove Diet, because what I am doing is proof of the (sugarless 🙂 ) pudding.

Over the course of the novel, Rita learns about the basic and fundamental adjustments in attitude that she needs to make in order to change her compulsive way of eating, and I (knowing those principles from other kinds of overindulgence I have indulged in in my life — I am the one, after all, who wrote the novel!) got it together enough to put those principles to work in the food-consumption area of my life. That’s all.

My weight loss has slowed in the past couple of months because I have been extraordinarily busy with freelance editing work (several full books, a master’s thesis, a PhD thesis, a monograph, not to mention several shorter pieces of fiction and technical articles) and for that and various other reasons, I have  been eating out more than usual. So I’ve had more refined starches than I had earlier in my sugar-free journey – potatoes, rice, and bread. But I continue to avoid sugar, and I continue to watch portions, and I continue to lose weight.

I keep thinking, “I haven’t weighed myself for a week or ten days. I’ve been eating out and I’ve been eating well. I’ll bet I’ve gained.” But each time I check, I’ve lost.

My favourite weight-loss concept, which I acknowledge with great pleasure having borrowed from one of my favourite books about health and life (Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, by Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman. I’ve been reading it over and over, along with their newer book, Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever, for years)  is this: If you choose the number  of calories that you SHOULD be eating if you were the weight you SHOULD be at, and then just eat that number of calories every day, you will get to that weight eventually. It’s inevitable.

I have pretty much been doing that, even though I don’t count calories: I’ve been eating the way I would eat to maintain my weight if I were at my goal weight (which is still another 15 to 20 lbs away). The thing I love about this is that means I am “impersonating myself” at my goal weight: at least in my food intake, if not in my dress size and muscle tone yet. 🙂 Rita gets some pleasure when she discovers this principle too. It’s sort of like training for living at the size I want to be.

NEWS on The Whole Clove Diet front

This week I am honoured to be the Book of the Week on the B.R.A.G. (Book Lovers Appreciation Group) “Indie Brag” site, and although I didn’t win in the Writers Digest Self-Published Books award competition, I did get a fabulous review from them, which I will post here soon. In the meantime, an excerpt:

“These very-real details are wonderfully portrayed [in The Whole Clove Diet] with language which is vivid, humorous and intelligent. And some of the sentences are poetry.”

Okay. Enough crowing and self-indulgence. Back to my editing work!

5 Comments

Filed under Addiction, Awards and Prizes, Eating Disorders, Habits, Healthy Living, No Sugar, The Whole Clove Diet: A Novel, Weight loss

Three months without sugar: I’m down 25 lbs, and loving the extra energy!

LATEST STATS

Amount lost (to Sept 20): 25 lbs

How long it’s taken me (June 20 to Sept. 20): 3 months

Amount spent on diet books, diet programs, diet clubs: $0. Zero. Nada. Nothing. Zilch.

What I eat

Several people have asked me about what I’ve been eating in the past three months.

Please remember that this is NOT a diet: it’s a new way for me to eat, that’s all. So don’t take what I put down here as a routine that needs to be followed. These are just the choices I am making, based on my decision to avoid all processed sugars (including honey and sweeteners, and in that regard also including stevia). I do eat (and enjoy) the sugars that are found in fresh fruits and vegetables, and traces of it in things I am not about to start baking myself — which is mainly bread (whole grain. I eat it only a couple of days a week), ketchup (which I also use sparingly), etc.

I’m also avoiding deep fried foods, white flour, and other unhealthy foods, but if they arrive on my plate at a restaurant or when I’m out for dinner, I will eat them. It’s only the sugar I absolutely refuse because I believe that eating it will cause me to eat more of it — as happens with any addiction.

So. For breakfast I usually have some steel-cut oatmeal and cottage cheese and applesauce (home-made by simmering apples, some water and some cinnamon until apples are mushy) or other fruit. Or a smoothie, involving plain yogurt and protein powder and fruit only. Or a piece of toast, an orange and an egg (a couple of eggs a week max.), or cheese on toast (I eat too much cheese but for now my cholesterol is okay so I’m not worrying about that.)

Lunch is usually a big big salad with some fruit in it and protein — feta cheese, chicken breast, tuna, whatever — and olive-oil-based dressing. I go through a lot of Mrs. Dash. 😉

At about four p.m. I have some Ryvita crackers (2) and peanut butter (made of peanuts only), and an ounce of protein. Or an apple and some protein.

For dinner I eat about 3 oz of chicken or fish or meat, and lots of cooked vegetables with a tsp or two of margarine. Maybe 1/2 potato if I feel like it or some pasta or rice. And in the evening another cracker with peanut butter, or popcorn made in a hot air popper with a bit of melted margarine on it. (I noticed I was doing this too often, with too much margarine, so I’m avoiding it for a while.)

If I don’t eat something in the middle of the afternoon or the middle of the evening (2 to 3 hours after a meal) I get really really hungry and that’s when there can be trouble. So I eat at those time to prevent stupidity.

If you have looked at many diets, you will recognize this as basically The Zone and/or the Harvard Food Pyramid and/or the food pyramids in Ray Kurzweil’s and Terry Grossman’s books. But I am not on a diet and I am not sticking to any food plan. I’m just avoiding sugar.

I don’t worry about fruit in its raw form (no fruit juice though, not even home-made). If I feel like having fruit, I have it. According to Lustig, it has enough fibre in it to cancel out the sugar high and I don’t seem to overeat it. I am eating fruit several times a day and enjoying it more than I ever have before. I nearly died of happiness over a mango a few weeks ago.

And as I said, if I’m out, I don’t worry about the white flour part so much. I’ll have a slice of pizza or a 6″ sub or tacos. I just avoid eating like that more than once or twice a week. If I eat at someone’s house, I eat what they serve except no dessert or fruit drinks.

Since I don’t drink alcohol any more, it’s easy for me to avoid the sugar in drinks, and I sometimes will have a diet pop if I’m really thirsty because i love the feeling of pop going down my throat. But mostly it’s water, clear tea, coffee and club soda. (I love bubbles.)

The Cravings

As far as beating the cravings – as I mentioned in a previous post, for the first few days, I used a chart and filled in squares to mark each hour I was victorious and just toughed it out until the cravings were gone. At a certain point, after a few days, I didn’t feel the need to continue with the squares. The most important part was that I had a goal — to beat my sugar addiction — rather than a barrier (not being “allowed” to eat sugar). It was (and is) a mental posture. More about that in a future post, but in the meantime, here’s an example: if I’m walking down the street, and it’s warm, and I go by a frozen yogurt place and think how wonderful it would be to have a frozen yogurt, instead of denying myself the treat, I just firmly remind myself of the things I enjoy in life aside from food (like walking down the street in the sunlight) and I also remind myself than in about two minutes, the desire/craving will be gone. Which it always is.

The Novel

I will not deny that it’s good publicity to have started this sugar-control journey just when my novel, The Whole Clove Diet, was published, and I certainly plan to take advantage of my increasingly sylph-like shape in promoting the novel. However, for those who have not read The Whole Clove Diet ($14.99 in paperback, and only 2.99 as an e-book 🙂 ), I want to stress that I am not ON The Whole Clove Diet, and the book is NOT a diet book. It is a story about a woman who goes on diet after diet without success until she finally realizes that before any of the diets is going to work (and any of them WILL work if she sticks to it), she needs to change something inside herself.

Ironically, and happily for me, something did happen to me when the novel was published: I got my mojo back (or whatever the equivalent to “mojo” is for a 62-year-old white woman). And that’s what led me to be able to pursue this sugar-free program. I want to stay healthy so I can enjoy what lies ahead of me. I am not on a “diet.” So even though this experience bears out what Rita learned in the novel, the novel is not the story of what I am doing, and it’s not a diet.

Keep those cards and letters coming

I’m really enjoying all the comments I’m getting here, on SparkPeople, on Diet.com (I’m marywwriter on those sites), in my Militant Writer blog, on FaceBook and elsewhere. It’s great to know so many other people are supportive of the idea of ditching sugar — and that some of you are already on this journey with me.

It can be done! (Well, at least it can be done for three months. We’ll see what happens tomorrow…. )

1 Comment

Filed under Addiction, Habits, health, Healthy Living, No Sugar, No sweeteners, Sugar, The Whole Clove Diet: A Novel, Weight loss

Nine weeks without sugar: Down 20 lbs & counting

LATEST STATS

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 doneThe 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.

11 Comments

Filed under Addiction, Habits, health, No Sugar, No sweeteners, Sugar, The Whole Clove Diet: A Novel, Weight loss