|Publisher:||Morgan James Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
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My Life, My Weight, and What I Ate....
ONE OF MY MOTHER'S FAVORITE MEMORIES of me as a toddler in the 1970s involved me and a giant red licorice rope. She would give me one in my umbrella stroller, I would gnaw on it, and she could get all of her shopping done at the mall in relative peace. I hear this story now and cringe.
However, I do use it as an example for my coaching clients and workshop participants to drive home the point that as a small child, I was given a powerful substance by my parent, and that I liked it enough to be quiet for a considerable amount of time. I was always super chatty. If we substituted heroin for licorice in the story, everyone would be horrified, right? But sugar is eight times more addictive, and the hardest addiction to kick. Why? Some of it is because it's so readily available – you can find sugary snacks at every grocery store, convenience store, and office supply chain across the land. But mostly, it's because, as researchers have found, sugar is more addictive than cocaine.
I have struggled with body image problems since what feels like forever, but is at least junior high. I felt "fat" in the sixth grade, and I cannot remember a time since when I was not painfully aware of how much space I was taking up, and where I could find some sugar.
In the 90s, fat-free was the rage. It was also my personal heaven. I had decided to focus my obsession on licorice and gummies, anything chewy and fat-free. The beauty of fat-free, high-fructose corn syrup, AKA sugar, is that it hits your blood sugar like a ton of bricks. You can't stop eating it even if you wanted to, it is engineered to screw with your brain in just this way. Same things happen to kids who love soda, but I wasn't a soda kid, not a traditional sugary soda kid. I drank Diet Coke.
Around this same time, I decided I'd had enough of my childhood baby fat, and wanted to be skinny. It was the beginning of my weight obsession. Over the summer between ninth and tenth grade, I dropped thirty pounds. Yep, and I am 5'7. Teachers thought I had transferred in from a new school! I loved the attention, and the boys who had previously ignored me were suddenly interested. It was fantastic! However, I had to maintain the weight loss, right? So I did what every self-respecting girl does: find a way to have it all, through tons of exercise and/or flat-out bulimia.
At college, I would have periods when I would be "good" and not binge or engage in any crazy behaviors. Then I would be pretty "bad." I would stop by a grocery store after my shift at work and buy bags of gummy bears. I used tons of sweetener in coffee and drank diet soda by the gallon. My weight slowly crept up. My old way of keeping up with my eating by over-exercising, taking laxatives, and purging was not working anymore, but at the time, I blamed my weight gain on birth control, not on my eating habits
In grad school, I met the guy who would become my husband, and we went out to dinner all the time. I gained a good ten pounds in graduate school, which put me officially past the weight marker I had set back in high school with my baby fat. I didn't purge much then, but I sure binged a lot.
I moved to Chicago, where my then boyfriend was accepted into business school, in the dead of winter. I pretty much hid out in a giant puffy coat that resembled a duvet with arms when I left the apartment, which was next to never. After a particularly uncomfortable experience that spring as a friend's bridesmaid, I decided enough was enough: I was losing the weight. I lost 35 pounds, but never gave up sugar, nor did anyone say I was supposed to. This was when Weight Watchers was OK with whatever you wanted to eat, as long as it had some fiber shoved into it. It was a fabulous work-around as far as I was concerned. I will admit I felt good that I was able to maintain my weight loss and adhere to the plan. It was empowering to have such a sense of control and I loved the results. The compliments didn't hurt.
My husband and I got married, I was thin, and life was good. He worked 80-100 hours a week, and I worked out a ton. It never occurred to me to wonder why I still had acne, why I was so moody, or why I "had" to have something sweet by a certain time each day. I didn't connect the dots to understand why my weight was slowly creeping up again.
I got pregnant, and, for the first time in my life, immediately became the poster girl for perfect chemical-free eating. I was able to drink unsweetened iced tea! I wanted to be healthy for the baby. But once my daughter was born, I found staying home with a baby in the winter depressing, boring, and a lot of other things that threw me right back into my screwy eating habits. I still worked out and was somewhat "good," but working out wasn't enough of a counter-balance with being home all day with a three-month-old while my husband was working 18-hour days to keep me sane. Oh, that, and I didn't think I had a problem. I was still BFFs with denial.
It was after we moved to the NYC suburbs that I became an exercise teacher. I started with spinning. I needed to connect with grown-ups and had always liked working out, so I figured, why not? My son was born in February of 2009. Once the arsenal of family members who'd come to help out went back home, I got back on the coffee with sweetener, Diet Coke, and candy – my trifecta from hell.
I slowly gained a good ten pounds from where I wanted to be post-baby weight, and was always dieting. Granted, I wasn't visibly overweight or anywhere near being unreliable as an example when teaching. However, I wasn't happy with my body, and believed I could be if only I could stick to my freaking diet! Why couldn't I do it like other times?
Next came my yoga certification, and yet I still didn't lose enough weight for good with it. So much for inner peace. Then Pilates, but it, too, wasn't the magic exercise that would change the number on the scale or the one on the back of my jeans. Barre and TRX were great, but the scale didn't budge. I had the sugar trifecta working against me.
Then came the exercise shakes, which still make me cringe. None of it really worked for long. When I was doing the packaged shakes, we would have challenge groups where a bunch of women would support each other via Facebook to get healthy. I lost track of how many I did. Or how many times I lost the same five pounds in the three-week timespan of the group. Each and every time, we would be asked in the getting to know you stage "Why are you here?" I always wrote "I want to stop the food drama." Not sure if anyone realized what I was saying. I know I didn't really understand it at the time.
I finally do understand what I meant by the food drama. I was so flipping tired of the constant internal dialogue related to my weight and food. Was I being good or bad? Were my jeans going to fit today? Could I lose enough weight fast enough that no one would know what I ate last night? Does this sound familiar to you? Have you also been aware of your weight, your size, and your daily calorie intake since forever? I bet you are pretty tired from it. I know I was.
I wanted someone to help me escape from this whole nightmare. I was hoping I would find the magic solution, pill, diet, or blog. It would have been amazing if my dream of being done with the ups and downs could be reality. Think of the extra room in my brain I would have if I wasn't constantly obsessing over: my body, if I look fat, how I feel fat, and what I want to eat next. I wanted it to stop for once and for all. I tried to find the magic pill, wand, or spell to make it stop. I have a pretty good feeling that you have as well. I bet you have been asking yourself why you can't stick to your diet too. Why does it have to be so stinking hard to live life and not be constantly thinking of weight and calories?
When I finally figured out what worked, I knew I had to share it with other women. Not just the ones I knew from school, or the ones who belong to my secret Facebook group, but all the women I could find. I wanted to help them, because I wish someone had helped me years ago. Think of how much sooner I could have lived free from the food drama if only I knew better.
I know the woman who struggles with sugar. I was her. I had to write a book for her. What would have helped me? What author would I have loved to run across at an airport bookstore on my way to a yoga retreat?
I would have wanted to know who she was, why she felt qualified to help me, if she had even helped herself, if it had lasted, and most: When could we start?
So let's get on with it already.CHAPTER 2
A Brain Held Hostage
Erin, I never understood how food truly worked until you explained it in terms I could understand.
– Kelly, 42, lost 9.2 lbs in 3 weeks
WHEN I WAS A KID, there was a commercial to tell us kids to not do drugs. It had a sizzling frying pan, and the voiceover said "This is your brain." Then an egg would be cracked on the side of the frying pan and the voice would say "This is your brain on drugs." The eggs would cook up in about 15 seconds and then the screen would flash to a "don't do drugs" statement. I like to use the same idea with sugar. When my brain was on sugar, it was equally as fried as those stinking eggs.
In the food addiction world, we like to use the term "hijacked." It is a rather strong word nowadays, but give me some time to explain the reasoning. When we are being held hostage by sugar, we are impaired. We cannot make independent decisions on what is in our best interests for our health or our bodies.
The introduction of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) into the modern diet only complicates the hijacked situation. HFCS was genetically modified to make us crave if we stop eating it.
Growing up in the 1970s, I aspired to be Wonder Woman, the mirror image of the Lynda Carter version from the show. I had the Underoos, the golden bracelets, even the action figures. The thing with Wonder Woman is she doesn't have a mortal enemy or anything she cannot conquer as she is perfect in every way, like any good Feminist icon. However, I can relate to a different member of the Justice League because I have learned I have something in common with Superman. I was not born light years away and sent to Earth as an infant; however, there is a substance I cannot tolerate – it is my weakness or my kryptonite. It is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It is the main ingredient in licorice. It makes me want to eat it once it is out of my system, because the little genetic markers are lying in my fat cells demanding to be fed.
Artificial Isn't Any Better
One of my favorite things to do was to go to the movies with my kids and eat candy, popcorn, and get a massive Diet Coke. I mean one the size of a swimming pool. It would usually send me into a giant sugar tailspin later on in the day, but at the time, I didn't care. I was under the Halo Effect. Simply put, anything with implied health benefits such as a diet soda or sugar-free gives the consumer implied permission to eat more later since they were so healthy in their earlier choices.
Now we are learning artificial sweeteners make us crave sugary foods more than sugar. Simply put, they let our brain think that something sweet is coming into our bodies by turning on the receptors of the pleasure centers of our brain. When the sugary food doesn't come, the cravings get stronger, and we end up eating more sugar.
Why Is This Worth the Hassle?
The pain of not changing needs to be greater than the pain of the sacrifice required for change.
– Tony Robbins
Let's face it, I could have been on the sugar roller coaster for longer. It wouldn't have been pretty, and eventually my body would have started to break down even further. I was able to change my life and my body, and my outlook.
I have lost my cravings, the extra weight, the brain fog, and the lack of energy. I did this without surgery or by running away from home and joining an ashram. If I can do it, I know you can.
The current Standard American Diet (SAD) is one of very little vegetables, lots of meat, processed food, and sugar. It is essentially high-calorie malnutrition. The current SAD is linked to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Sugar comes in many forms. The obvious ones are fruit, then sugars from turbinado (less processed) to what we would all recognize as white table sugar. The other 48 names include dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, crystal dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose sweetener, fruit juice sweetener. For avid label readers, we might be avoiding an obvious word such as sugar but would we walk away from maltose in yogurt? Or rice syrup in packaged roast beef? Even if our minds do not register it, our bodies will, and our cravings will kick in causing havoc when all we had consumed was what seemed like an innocuous sandwich.
Our First Drug
Addiction experts often say abusers have their first sip of alcohol during their preteen years. Most of us had sugar before we were one. How often have we all seen the one-year-old birthday cake pictures? Popsicles in grade school and snow cones at the street fair.
Using the addiction analogy, those of us that are sugar-sensitive often have learned to associate sweetness with good feelings, with happiness and celebration. Society doesn't help with the cooking channels and the recipe exchanges. It is Christmas, so let's have Grandma's special cake! You got straight As, so we are taking you out for ice cream. The hotel you are staying in is welcoming you to the room, so here, have some cookies! Sugar is love. Sugar is comfort. Sugar is your friend. Sugar is a party in a bag, or a waxed cup, or an ice cream container. Sugar is everything and everywhere!
Once sugar is introduced into our lives, there is no turning back. I can still remember how happy my daughter was when she stole my iced coffee full of artificial sweetener at two. I would have to wrestle it away from her chubby little toddler arms. Thankfully, she finds them gross now at eleven and hates most sweet things.
Are You Impacted?
Women seem to love to say to me things like, "Hey Erin, I am a total sugar addict," in a wellness workshop. Or I'll meet a mother at a coffee shop who says "I need to go to Sugar Anonymous, haha," while downing a large Unicorn Frappuccino at 2 pm. I just got a text while writing this: "I am back from Summer Vacation. I gained 14 pounds. Now what? LOL." I try to take these comments in a good way as they keep me employed and at least these things are being discussed openly. When I was truly suffering, I was not making jokes about it. I was too food hungover to make jokes and too embarrassed to text an acquaintance about it.
Two cool additional things happened in my search to fix myself: 1) I became super knowledgeable as to what the hell had happened to me; 2) I became obsessed with the idea of helping others to get off of it as well. Wouldn't it have been fantastic if someone like me had been around to help me back when I was the old me? So old me, come and find the new me already!
If the future me could have come back and said just one thing to the present me, it would have been to pay attention to the white stuff. Meaning sugar, flour, and artificial sweeteners. I started to notice through my food journaling, that those three things would always mess me up. The less of them I ate, the more success I would have in maintaining my weight and in weight loss. Simply put, the less white stuff I ate, the better.
I have spent a lot of time studying food addiction, listening to some of the best researchers on the planet discuss super high-level terms that only nutrition nerds like me care about. (The nutrition nerd stuff is coming later on, but you will have to wait.) They lecture a lot about brain chemistry, and they have shown me in-depth addiction models, and have gone into great detail on relapse prevention.
Amongst the Food Addiction Field, there is an agreed upon spectrum and your spot on the chart might change depending on your life and what foods you are consuming on a regular basis. There have been times when I was eating the frosting off my kid's birthday cake when everyone was in bed versus today when the cake would be safe in the house. Generally, I do very well on a Sugar Dependency Test. In my typical overachiever fashion, I usually get an A! However, that doesn't mean my grade has not severely plummeted on occasion since I figured it out. Your grade will rise and fall too, but for now, let's ask ourselves a few questions.
These questions have been borrowed from Overeaters Anonymous. Don't worry, there is a method too my madness. I adapted these from OA, because in only a few questions, a great deal can be assessed. The reason why we are doing this is not to scare you or to try to persuade you that you need to go to a twelve-step food group.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Why Can't I Stick to My Diet?"
Copyright © 2019 Erin Boardman Wathen.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword by JJ Virgin,
Chapter One My Life, My Weight, and What I Ate ...,
Chapter Two A Brain Held Hostage,
Chapter Three Our Perpetually Hijacked Brain,
Chapter Four You Can't Always Get What You Want,
Chapter Five Cold Turkey, Kicking the Can Down the Road, and Winston Churchill,
Chapter Six Let's Cut the Sugar Already, AKA Take Some Action,
Chapter Seven The Reality of the Four Guidelines and Four Checkboxes,
Chapter Eight Cravings, Triggers, and Euphoric Recall, Oh My!,
Chapter Nine The Emotional Elephant in the Room,
Chapter Ten Slips Happen,
Chapter Eleven Remembering the Good Times and Moving On,
Chapter Twelve The Rest of Our Lives,
Sample Meal Plan,
About the Author,