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.

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

“Globesity”?? Ack! Now INVESTORS are looking at ways to make money off our extra pounds!!

Those of us who have been wandering into the obesity zone are now making at least one group’s mouth water with longing and desire (and I don’t mean people with a thing for big butts): The investment business.

That is reason enough to get rid of the weight. Who wants to be putting money in someone else’s pockets for such an unfortunate reason??? It’s like dying early to help the funeral business. Well, actually it’s almost the same thing.

Even the director of Weight Watchers is trying to climb onto the financial bandwagon, riding on our slightly too-broad backs.

Membership in WW is plummeting due to all the on-line competition, s0 — to take advantage of the huge health-care costs associated with weight issues — the $2.5 Billion business is working its little brain cells out trying to figure out how to convince insurers to subsidize the fees for Weight Watchers attendees.

Remember, my dear readers: It makes NO difference what weight-loss/exercise program you follow (as long as it gives you a balanced diet and makes you feel great!  and energetic! instead of deprived). Weight Watchers? Jenny Craig? The Zone? They all work!  You just have to have your head in the right place: all the rest will follow.

As I have proven, at least temporarily, using the principles Rita discovers in The Whole Clove Diet (which is NOT a diet book. It is a novel!), just eliminating sugar from your diet and getting out for a few walks when you are in the right head space will help you hugely.

I am down 17.5 lbs in two months  (equivalent to the weight of two human heads apparently, speaking of head space, or a sperm whale’s brain) with these small changes (and a few other adjustments to my diet that I’ll be happy to share with you if you are interested.)

Don’t let them cash in on us! But don’t get mad! Just get slenderer!

Thank you. End of speech de jour.

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Is overeating an addiction, an eating disorder, a bad habit, or self-indulgence gone totally off the rails?

Several book sites such as Book Club Buddy have asked me to come up with a question or two that readers of The Whole Clove Diet, my new novel, might want to discuss with one another. To answer this one, you don’t need to have read the novel (and there are no spoilers in this post).

I was talking to one of my readers who had a problem with anorexia in the past (which she has overcome), and she told me that she had a really hard time reading about Rita’s over-eating because of that. (She said she finally managed to keep reading and that ultimately she liked the book, for which I am very grateful on both counts.)

Some of MY weaknesses: I’m working on them!

Her statement made me think again, as I often did while I was writing the book, and often do when I am overeating – is overeating an addiction, an eating disorder, a bad habit or just overindulgence and lack of willpower?

Maybe eating disorders ARE addictions – I know they have a lot in common. I’ve been addicted to cigarettes and other things myself in the past. And I know that in my mind, Rita and Harry (Rosa’s father, who drinks too much) have a lot in common. (I have a very soft spot for Harry.)

Anorexia and bulimia are certainly addictions and very hard to overcome. Times have changed in the past decade or so when it comes to public awareness of these conditions. When I see a really really thin woman, now I immediately think, “She’s anorexic. That is a fatal addiction. I hope to God she can overcome it before she dies.”

But most of us never feel sympathy or concern when we see a woman (or man) who is obese. We think, “Push yourself away from the table, Woman! Get some exercise, Guy! Don’t be a sloth!” (Most of us know better than to say it out loud any more, but we do think it. Even those of us who are also overweight and haven’t been around the block for months. ) And overweight people know what other people are thinking, and of course that becomes another hurdle to address, which just makes them want to eat something to feel better and think “Why bother?” when it comes to getting outside for a walk. Not everyone has a live-in mother-in-law she needs to escape from, like Rita does.

So. What do YOU think?

Post your comments here or over on my Mary W. Walters, Writer page on FaceBook  or on my GoodReads Blog.

Thank you!

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Filed under Addiction, Book Clubs, Eating Disorders, Habits, Reading Group, The Whole Clove Diet: A Novel, Weight loss

Olympian attitudes towards food and exercise

The top athletes and their junk food

An article from The Week reminds me of the difference between us mortals and the gods and goddesses who are running, cycling and swimming around London at the moment.

“Pizza, beer, and ice cream are actually staples for some elite athletes, who gorge themselves on mountains of unhealthy food to meet 6,000-calorie daily quotients,” it says.

The problem with healthy food? You have to eat too much of it to meet the caloric goals these athletes require.

Then there’s the challenge of getting off the couch

From the same source, an item on an externally posed regime that failed to meet its mark. Apparently, British Olympic organizers pledged in 2005 to get two million U.K. citizens to exercise more before the games. Didn’t happen. This article tries to explain why.

I guess that’s just one more example of Rita’s finding in The Whole Clove Diet: change just has to start on the inside.

… and

In recent additions to the general confusion about exercise and diet, in the past week I have read that

Maybe the best idea is to just go on holidays, as Dave Seminara suggests.

I like that idea.

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B.R.A.G. Medallion for The Whole Clove Diet

I am very pleased to announce that The Whole Clove Diet has been honoured with a Book Readers Appreciation Group (B.R.A.G.) Medallion.

The Book Readers Appreciation Group mission is “to recognize quality on the part of authors who self-publish both print and digital books.”

From their website:

BRAGMedallion.com is owned and operated by indieBRAG, LLC, a privately held organization that has brought together a large group of readers, both individuals and members of book clubs, located throughout the United States, Canada, and the European Union. The word “indie” refers to self or independently published books, while B.R.A.G. is an acronym for Book Readers Appreciation Group. By their nature, our readers are passionate about all books, but for the purposes of the service we provide, we focus exclusively on the work of self-published authors of print and digital books.

Our mission is to recognize quality on the part of authors who self-publish both print and digital books. As such, we are constantly on the lookout for the work of talented men and women who have written indie books across a wide range of genres. Our primary focus is fiction, however, we selectively consider non-fiction books as well.

From the large and rapidly growing library of indie books that are available today, we select those that we believe deserve to be considered. These books are then read and evaluated by members drawn from our reader group. The readers judge the merits of the books based on our proprietary list of criteria. The single most important criterion that we ask our readers to use in judging a book is whether or not they would recommend it to their best friend. Once a book meets this standard of quality, we award it our B.R.A.G. Medallion™, and along with other medallion recipients, it is presented on this website.

It is also interesting to read the group’s explanation of “Why We Exist.”

There are increasing numbers of individuals and companies that have begun to see the financial possibilities of endorsing some self-published books in an attempt to help readers sort the wheat from the chaff among the millions of tomes that are now available in both print and e-format. For only $500 or so, for example, you can get Kirkus Reviews or Publishers’ Weekly to read your self-published book and, if they like it, you can publish their review on your website. (I did not do that, by the way. I received my Publishers’ Weekly review as part of the process of reaching the top 100 in the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards competition.) Other outlets are also springing up that are offering, for a fee, to give your self-published book a rubber stamp that will advise readers it has been edited and looks professional.

It is really nice to see that there is a group of people who love books enough to perform this service without charging the author anything.

It is even nicer to have been the recipient of one of their awards. Thank you, indieBRAG LLC!

______________

Notes:

  • You can follow indieBRAG on FaceBook and Twitter.
  • Books can be nominated by anyone for a B.R.A.G. Medallion, but nominators have no influence on the outcome of the evaluation process.

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Ten reminders that will make your day!

A friend of mine just sent me the link to a set of “Ten Reminders Worth Reviewing Daily,” from the website Mark and Angel Hack Life: Practical Tips for Productive Living. They are exactly the kinds of things that my main character, Rita, discovers in her meandering journey towards sanity and stability in The Whole Clove Diet.

The only problem is that we all have to discover such principles for living and then learn them deeply ourselves in a way that applies to our own lives: we can’t just read a list (or even a novel — or even WRITE a novel) about them, and internalize them immediately. We need to absorb them.

But a list that sounds so right that you know it must be true is a good place to start. So here – from Mark and Angel Hack Life  – are a few tastes of their wisdom for today, and a link to the rest. Enjoy.

  1. Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you.  Stop discrediting yourself for everything you aren’t, and start giving yourself credit for everything that you are.  We have to learn to be our own best friends, because sometimes we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies.  Insecurity is what’s ugly, not you.  Accept yourself!  Be you, just the way you are, in the beautiful way only you know how.
  2. The biggest obstacles in your life are the barriers your mind creates.  Worrying will never change the outcome.  When you can no longer think of a reason to continue, you must think of a reason to start over.  And do not let where you start, define where you will end up; only your actions and willpower determine that.  Read Awaken the Giant Within.
  3. Sometimes to get where you want to go, you have to do what you are afraid to do.  You must be brave and push forward.  Miracles occur when you give as much attention and energy to your dreams as you do to your fears.

Read 7 to 10 here!

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Review of The Whole Clove Diet from Publishers Weekly

In honour of the fact that I have finally got the typo fixed in The Whole Clove Diet, and have approved the revised proof, and can now begin to really promote it (well, as soon as the paperback is back for sale on Amazon, which will take a day or two, and is available as an ebook, which will take a week or two), I am posting the review the novel received from Publishers Weekly when it was a top-100 semifinalist in the first-ever Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition:

Manuscript review of The Whole Clove Diet by Publishers Weekly, an independent organization

“Uncommon candor and realistic detail distinguish this engrossing novel about an obese woman struggling to end her addiction to food and cigarettes. Although Rita Turner is only 29, she weighs more than 200 pounds. She is married to a widower with two young children, whom she’s raising. Having skipped college and self-actualization, she now feels stifled in her role of housekeeper-nanny. As she careens from one diet to another (each cleverly outlined at the opening of each section) she gradually realizes that she feels trapped by her life, and that no diet can change her situation unless she herself effects a major transformation. This hard-won knowledge comes slowly and is overcome at times by backsliding and self-pity, but Rita’s eventual epiphany provides a satisfying and convincing conclusion to this well-wrought story. Each character here — Rita, her husband, her mother and her various in-laws — is portrayed with psychological acuity, and Rita’s vulnerabilities make her an appealing protagonist. Her self-loathing when she binges rings true, as does her need for food to assuage unacknowledged emotional cravings. This is an impressive work from a writer with real potential.”

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This is just plain gross!

Introducing The K-E Diet

According to Yahoo News, “Brides-to-be looking to shed that final 10, 15 or 20 pounds in order to fit into their dream wedding gown have taken a controversial approach to crash dieting that involves inserting a feeding tube into their noses for up to 10 days for a quick fix to rapid weight loss.” The tube not only goes up your nose, but down into your stomach and fortunately for me, the video that attaches to that story is unavailable in my area. No thanks. That is one that not even Rita would try.

And speaking of Rita….

It turns out that my trusty reader John found only one small typo in addition to the one big typo he found (the date, on p.3) of The Whole Clove Diet. I have submitted these to be corrected in the paperback, and after that is done the Kindle will be released. Another few weeks, and I can’t wait. I’m very pleased with how the book is looking.

So, if you have a copy of the paperback with the year 1998 on page 3, it is my hope that you will have a collectible before this is done 🙂

I was really happy with the response to my giveaway of the Kindle version of The Woman Upstairs which I ran in late March. Not only did about 2500 people download the book when it was free, 60 have purchased it since it went back to its normal price of $2.99. Guess that old book of mine still has legs. 🙂

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A Very Public Weight-Loss Plan

Artist Plans to Spend A Month On A Scale

Chinese artist Wang Jun is half-way through a very unusual weight-loss initiative. According to stories in the Huffington Post and Wired UK, Wang Jun got on an electronic scale in a Beijing Hotel on March 18 and  – unless he reaches his weight-loss goal before that – he’s not getting off until April 18. Not even to go to the bathroom.

So much for the advice of weight-loss experts who say that stepping on the scale every day can be discouraging, and those who insist that getting outside for some exercise is important to dieting success.

The artist does have a weight-loss goal in mind – 15 Jin (about 16.5 lbs) – but according to China Hush, he has an artistic one as well. He is protesting the excesses of “this materialistic age,” where “in the era of pleasure-seeking and greed, all things are inflated infinitely,” and “slowly lose the beautiful and clear origins.” His progress (and stick-to-it-iveness) is being monitored by a web-cam and recorded on his blog.

It doesn’t sound to me as though Wang Jun has a very solid or practical long-term weight-reduction program here, and I sure hope what he’s doing doesn’t become an international fad. If he makes it, I’ll have to admire his tenacity, but I don’t see much art in it, either: unless you consider “art imitating life” to actually be art.

And in Whole Clove Diet news…

I am about to spend $50 to correct a typo.

A careful reader caught a mistake in The Whole Clove Diet (print version), near the beginning of Chapter 15. It was a significant error because it involved a date: the new year in the story is 1999, but I wrote “1998.” However, the mistake wasn’t part of a chapter title: it was buried in a paragraph. Most readers might never have noticed it.

The title of Chapter One shows that the novel starts in Sept. 1998. Later in the book, I flash forward to Dec. 31, 1999 for one chapter, but the book actually ends in Oct., 1999. The more I thought about it, the more important it seemed that no one get confused about the flash-forward year.

I hate mistakes. Fifty dollars is a lot of money, but if I hadn’t changed it, it would have irritated me forever. I’d have been grabbing books out of people’s hands and correcting the year with a pen before they could come across it on their own.

So I decided that since I haven’t actually started promotion on The Whole Clove Diet yet, and only a few copies are in print, I’ll make the change. It means another delay in getting the e-book version out, but in the long run I’ll be happier.

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Breaking Habits

I came across this article the other day, which is a review of a new book about habits and how to break them by Charles Duhigg.

The book is called The Power of Habit, and the issues the author explores are applicable to almost everything we do on a regular basis in our daily lives – from driving to work to going for a drink at the end of the week. Those who are fighting to change personal habits in such areas as drinking, eating and smoking will be familiar with the triggers (or “cues,” as Duhigg calls them), and what they set off in terms of behavior and rewards. It looks as though Duhigg has some strategies for breaking the “habit loop” that I will be interested in testing on a few bad habits of my own.

In Whole Clove news…

The paperback version of The Whole Clove Diet is resoundingly thumping my first novel in the Amazon best-seller ranks! TWCD is at #1,055,369 and The Woman Upstairs is at #3,852,255.

The Woman Upstairs is a story about a young woman, Diana Guthrie, who must go home and confront her past when she learns that her mother — to whom she has not spoken in several years — is dying. It won the Writers Guild of Alberta award for excellence in Writing, Novel Category way back in 1988.

As a promotion for the impending release of the Kindle version of The Whole Clove Diet, I’ve made Kindle version of The Woman Upstairs  available at no charge for four days only.

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