Catching Up, Slimming Down and the Long Farewell to Sugar

Hiking Trail

Almaden Quicksilver Hiking Trail

The first Monday of the year rolled around and the house emptied out. My eldest son returned to college, his brother went back to high school and Mike headed in to the office. It seemed time for me to get off the couch and rejoin the world as well.

In late December I put on a pair of shoes for the first time in months. Then I went for a short, albeit painful walk around our local park. Meanwhile, my crutches, knee scooter and foot brace stayed home.

Though it will be awhile before I can hike on local trails, it felt good getting out for a stroll.

Then I saw my doctor on Monday.

She’s been pleased with my progress at every post-op appointment, but this time she looked concerned. Dr. Sheth said that I was doing too much, too soon, using polite phrases like “you’re an optimist” and a “go-getter” while telling me to slow down. The swelling I assumed was normal is actually my body’s way of telling me to please back off.

On the brighter side, she prescribed physical therapy to strengthen the foot and to reduce the edema. I’m going three days a week for treatment: heat and ice therapy, ultra sound, manipulation and exercises. Although the exercises are work, I feel pampered too. Drew and his team are a warm and caring group of folks. I’m learning how to get rid of my limp and I’ve also gained a better understanding of the healing process. Tendons do not have their own blood supply so they take longer to heal than a broken bone or an injured muscle. Who knew?

All this brings me to my word of the year: Health.

While I have many good habits, I have bad ones, too. Simply put, I’m a vegetarian who likes junk food. Shortbread cookies, rich chocolate of any kind, soft taffy and Red Vines. Raise your hand if you know what they all have in common.

Sugar.

I’ve been in a life-long, dysfunctional relationship with the sweet stuff. My height and rabbit-like metabolism kept me slim for many years, so I never gave it much thought. About a decade ago I started gaining weight and joined the ranks of dieters. I increased my exercise from four hours a week to seven. I lost fat, but I didn’t lose weight.

All roads lead to refined sugar. It’s a powerful drug, all dressed up in creamy chocolate, buttery cookies and chewy bites of candy. Swoon.

Sitting on the couch for the past eight weeks while recovering from surgery didn’t help. Extended couch-sitting during the “season of sweets” means I’ve started this new year ten pounds heavier. Add that to the extra fluff I’ve been struggling to lose and I’ve moved past slim to a weight that feels uncomfortable for my health and my self-image. Enough.

I want to focus my emotional energy this year on improving my health. Saying goodbye to sugar is at the top of the list. Some people can moderate their intake, but I’m not one of them. There are other areas I want to focus on this year.

  • I want to walk and hike pain-free
  • I want to return to Pilates two days a week
  • I want to add a yoga class
  • I want to return to my practice of Mindfulness

Hopefully those last two will help support the hardest of the goals: showing sugar the door.

Is there an area of your life that you struggle with despite your good intentions? What do you think about the idea of choosing a word for the year?

 

39 thoughts on “Catching Up, Slimming Down and the Long Farewell to Sugar

  1. I struggle with carbs, sugar all the “good” stuff. Because of the new added nerve pain from my neck I have not been as active as I need to be. Unfortunately, my doctor informed me I would need to add another med for my diabetes. To which I said “no, nope not happening” so back to lower carbs and no sugar. I am using spaghetti squash and z ucchinni for pasta. Cauliflower for rice ( just cooking up a nice little rice pudding as I write) My blog may have more liw carb recioez posted as I experiment and figure out ways to make it a forever lifestyle. I have got my sugars back to normal now just have to keep it up FOREVER!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Donna, I’m sorry about your nerve pain. I’ve suffered with nerve pain in the past and know how debilitating it can be. I wish you well with that. I’m glad you’ve been able to reduce your sugar intake, thereby avoiding another diabetes medication. We’ve made “mashed potatoes” with cauliflower and it is quite amazing how much alike they are.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Charlie, you are right. It’s hard but necessary. I’ve read a lot about refined sugar (and high fructose corn syrup which is worse) and now it’s toxic. It also leads to abdominal fat (the dangerous kind) so all sorts of reasons to give it up.

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  2. I have always found that once I stop eating sugar, I don’t want it or think about it. But I understand the need to cut it out–as well as those points where you reach for another something and think “no, I should be done.” Usually that’s with salt though… I have some similar goals this year, Alys, and so I send you good thoughts and wish you power. Do what you should with the foot–and research some lovely healthy foods you’d like to eat!

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    • The key for me is to not let it back in the “door” so to speak. To say no to offered cake, and to completely avoid chocolate. I’ve even tried the low sugar, dark chocolate route, but I’m just better off avoiding it altogether. Thank you for your good thoughts. Right back at you, Lisa. Today was day three of PT. I’m backing off one exercise as it increases my pain, but the rest of the activities seem okay. The ultrasound and electrical stimulation should help improve circulation and healing. Onward. I hope your year is off to a good start.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah sugar – the enemy dressed up in sweet frothiness πŸ™‚ Watch ‘The Sugar Film’ and you’ll never want to touch another granule. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uaWekLrilY

    You know when I fell down the stairs in 99, it was my tendons that took the brunt of the fall in and around my left knee. Tendon damage also occurred somewhere in the damage that was done to the right hip and pelvic area. It was three years before I could walk again without excruciating pain setting in- but interestingly it was only when I gave up sugar that the pain completely left my body. Which really makes you think doesn’t it? Sugar causes congestion generally and particularly in the weak and damaged areas that just about every body has somewhere. And then the ‘sugar substitutes’ can do even worse damage. I found that within a couple of weeks of giving up my taste buds re-discovered the natural sweetness available in so many foods. It was such an eye opener.

    I think the really hard part is having to give up the ready made commercial foods that are loaded with sugar – I had to go back into the kitchen and regain the pleasure I had lost in taking time to prepare my foods from scratch…….. though really, in the big scheme of things, it didn’t take that long.

    And dear Alys, please don’t for a moment think I’m saying it will be three years before you can walk again, that was just my story from multiple tendon damage – but do be prepared to give your tendons time to heal – you have superb professional support which I lacked at the time.

    Sending you lots of love and good wishes for your healing. Just let me know if you want to chat. xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Pauline, thank you for the link. I just watched the trailer and will investigate renting the film. I’m so sorry you had to go through three years of pain before fulling healing. I’m glad you discovered sugar as one of the culprits for feeling well. I woke up this Saturday and felt better than I have in a long time. My foot felt better, too.

      You are such an inspiration in the way you turned your life around so completely and found good health and mental stamina and joy. I have noticed that other foods taste better once you get away from eating sugar. And when I snack on a few nuts, tangerines, or a slice of cheese, I’m satisfied longer. I’ve also learned that walnuts have good omega 3s as do avocados. And I’m drinking me lemon water daily, thanks to the bounty on my tree.

      My doctor warned me before the surgery that it would be six months before I really felt good and a year before I was glad I had the surgery. So to be walking at all at nine weeks is fantastic.

      And I would love to chat.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Alys, as you have known me for 25 years, you know of others always and myself last. Like a lot of women, I try to do it all and be all to everyone. My word this year is Enough! Enough of thinking of myself last and everyone else first, enough to making myself feel guilty for eating something, I shouldn’t, not being the size 6-8 I was in college or not doing it all, enough to saying sure I’ll do that, we I don’t have the time or energy to do! Enough to not being perfect. I’m enough as I am and don’t need to do it all. Happy 2016, the year of me and enough of the guilt! 😍

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good for you, Kristi! Guilt serves no one, and leaves us feeling depleted and disappointed in ourselves.I’m glad to hear that you are putting yourself first. And here’s to a wonderful year of “you without guilt.”

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  5. I didn’t know that tendons too longer to heal because of not having their own blood supply!

    Good luck with cutting out sugar. I eat more than I used to but I’m more concerned about my daughter’s consumption. Mmm…

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    • I was determined not to pass on my cravings/bad habits to my boys. Instead of restricting sugar, I let them choose in moderation. Neither one of them has a weight problem, a sugar problem or a single cavity and they don’t ask for or crave it the way I do. I know someone that is obsessed with keeping sugar away from her kids, which resulted in them begging for it all the time. It’s finding the happy balance. Good luck finding what works best for you.

      In the states, they have candy at every checkout aisle. It’s promoted on TV, offered at parties and can be really hard to avoid. Imagine if we were pushing fresh fruit, crunchy carrots, whole nuts, etc. at the checkout?

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  6. I remember you gave up sugar just before Halloween a couple of years ago, so I know you can do it again Alys! Wish you lots of luck. I have found that since becoming (almost) vegan my lower fat intake (I used to love cheesy creamy foods) has lost me a few pounds, and although it isn’t much it does make a difference in how I feel. And my clothes all fit more comfortably now too. (Haven’t been able to give up chocolate though! πŸ˜‰ )
    I haven’t chosen a word for this year yet, but am also thinking along the lines of health. Physiotherapy sounds like an excellent way to get back on your feet. I do hope you see progress soon. I am just being patient now and waiting for my feet to decide to heal on their own as there is nothing more I can do. Take it easy Alys! xx

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    • Cathy, what a memory. I swore off candy for an entire month and should have kept going. There is an emotional reward I get from eating chocolate, and that is what I need to overcome (or replace). Today I ate two small tangerines, that were sweet and delicious, low in calories and satisfying. Someone I know calls it upgrading: replacing candy with a sweet that also has nutrition, fiber, vitamins and minerals. I like Leilani’s idea of drinking tea, too, since I drink either green tea or herbal infusions without adding milk or sweetener.

      Congratulations on your close to vegan diet. That’s terrific.

      I’m really sorry that your foot pain continues. I can certainly relate. I hope you’ve found shoes that will support you as you heal. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I wish you the best results for all your plans. Maybe because I grew up in a farm, I got use to eat lot of tropical and any other fruit. Of course, some of them have natural sugar; but not too bad since you can burn it laboring. It is a matter of adapting oneself to some regime of nutrition, in the long run the flavors end being delicious, with a little of mental concentration. It is like when somebody quits smoking, just the first few weeks and strong will.

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    • Thank you. How wonderful to have grown up on a farm. It’s hard work, but open space, and growing food sound wonderful to me.

      Mental concentration is a big component of it. You are so right.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  8. I don’t have a sweet tooth at all and rarely have sugar in my day to day diet – my downfall is savoury. Whilst our diet is healthy, I haven’t exercised regularly since I broke those ribs in June and have put on half a stone as a consequence, so I empathise with your predicament entirely. Here’s hoping that a bit of online support will aid with your recovery….but take it slowly!

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    • I love the support flowing in. It’s amazing how much that can help, too, even virtually. I’m really sorry to hear you broke your ribs. I’ve had bruised ribs and that was bad enough. Every breath hurts.

      It can be a challenge starting an exercise program in the middle of winter. I hope you can find something you enjoy. As for that half a stone, it must be hiding under all that fabric. You look amazing in your blue dress.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Gooooo, Alys!! I hear you times infinity on the wanting to do too much too soon. I tore my achilles in college and wouldn’t walk again for another 4 months. Even then, my pace was a hobble. It was so challenging to eat healthy while sedentary. All this to say, I’m holding your hand knowing that you will make every wise decision to you need to make for that moment.

    Blessings on your road to health. Strength when you need it most. A good sweat without stressing that foot. Here’s to hot, delicious cups of tea; my go to solution for avoiding the sweet stuff. πŸ™‚ Hugs!

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    • Thanks for sharing your own experience, Leilani and for holding my hand. I feel that support and I cherish it. I’ve heard that Achilles tendons are among the worst. I can relate to how painful that must have been and such a long recovery too in the midst of college. You poor dear.

      I love hot tea and have been alternating that with sparkling water. I’ve been shopping for loose tea at a shop in nearby Campbell. The teas are more flavorful and quite delicious. Thanks for reminding me to try that when I’m otherwise tempted.

      Hugs to you, too.

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  10. Looks like you have a team of supporters out there. I knew you would push too soon. Do some floor exercises that keep the weight off your foot. Even that movement will help. That’s what I’m doing to get moving since it’s too wet to go for a walk. It’s poured for weeks now. And I’m lazy. No sugar though so I’m hanging on. Have a week of retreat next month and there will be loads of sugar and wine. I’m already plotting my best tactics to survive it. I need lots of crunch so I started with nuts and found myself eating too many. I had to get a head of cabbage and lots of celery to work that jaw. If I’m busy with my hands, not so much with the mouth. πŸ™‚ It’s the sitting too much that’s getting me down. We will all stay with you in this. My word this year is change. Deep change that sticks, finally.

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    • Deep change. I love that, Marlene. I look forward to hearing more as your year unfolds.

      I’ve heard that you were getting slammed with a lot of the wet stuff. Many of the storms we hope will make it this way seem to be heading to your state instead. I’m sorry you can’t get out for a walk. We’ve had so many “it will probably, maybe, kind of, possibly” rain days that amount to nothing. I’m ready for some downpours. I heard is coming down hard this morning around 5:30. It lasted two minutes. It’s nearly 4 pm now and not a drop since. That said, the garden is happy, the birds and squirrels have fresh water and it’s only mid-January, so weeks of possible storms lie ahead.

      Yep, you had me pegged. Sigh. I’ve backed off the walking though, other than what I do around the house. I had three ours of PT this week and the therapist is pleased with my progress. A lot less swelling than even a week ago.

      Congratulations on avoiding the sugar. I read an article today that talks about planning around events. Take a drink in one hand, carry a napkin in the other. Sounds so simple.

      Now cookies or chocolate for me for ten days now. Slow and steady. I’m drinking a lot of Rooibos from my favorite little tea shop in Campbell.

      Good job finding the crunchy substitutes. That’s half the battle.

      Thanks for being here and for your continued support. It helps immensely.

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  11. Helloooooo Alys!!
    How’s that for an energetic salutation? πŸ™‚
    I just read through all of the comments / responses, and am wanting an update on the sugar intake reduction and how you are mobilizing. It’s interesting to read about the food challenges that we all have. I could go forever without obvious sugar, chocolate, desserts, etc. It’s the “hidden” sugars (bread, pasta) and dairy (cheese) and wine that tempt me.
    I’m working on a word … but so far it’s more of a phrase: what is it that I really want?
    Anyway … I’m off to your next post!

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    • Helllooooo Laurie! That made me smile.

      I’m doing well. I’ve been logging everything that I eat and drink via a free app called MyFitnessPal. It allows you to track food and exercise, to set exercise and weight goals, and it helps you calculate calories based on your desired weight loss and level of activity. It helps keep me accountable.

      I’m only drinking three things: water, herbal tea and an occassional Kombucha, an organic, raw probiatic, which is only 60 calories a bottle. I’m also avoiding bread, white rice and pasta along with candy, cookies, pie and the like. So, mostly vegetarian proteins (beans, tofu, soy, lentils, nuts and cheese) and vegetables. I have one or two pieces of fruit a day. I’m still seeing the PT twice a week, and I’ve been back to Pilates for two weeks, twice a week as well. The long walks are still a ways off, but I am walking in regular shoes, wearing a compression sock which is really helping the swelling.

      I like your phrase. No one said it had to be just one word. If you want a word, perhaps “searching ” might work.

      I’m picturing you cozy in your home with the white fluffy snow outside your window. It sounds lovely.

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  12. The benefit of being tardy is reading everyone else’s messages. I’m pretty sure we all have the same concerns. I know, since we’ve left the lake and all that yard work (it kept me trim), I’ve really packed on the pounds too. I don’t necessarily crave sweets if I eat my meals. But they’re all over the place and often, at work, I snack on a muffin or cookie as it seems less time consuming.
    Unlike you, I’ve never had a fast metabolism. I was just lucky to be very active. So now, at my age, naturally I need to change habits. I doubt that I’ll do anything radical, that never works for me. Everything in moderation is my thought. Weight Watchers has been a successful program for me, I can eat real food, things I like, just less of it. Good Luck with your goals hon and for taking steps to reaching them.
    Happy to hear you’re walking better too, that’ll be a big help towards reaching your goals. I hope the physio gets the results you’re hoping for. Sounds like you’re doing all the right things.
    xox Kelly, Love you!

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    • Your life at the lake must have kept you moving all the time. There was always so much to do in that beautiful home of yours. Plus, half the time you were taking care of two yards, yours and the deadbeat neighbor. It’s amazing, too, how daily exercise seems effortless when it is part of your day. I used to walk Mac to and from school five days a week, then walk with Mike in the evenings, then maybe sweep the deck, water plants or some other garden work.

      I’ve been tracking everything I eat via MyFitnessPal, a free app. It’s been a great way to stay accountable to myself.

      As for the PT, it really is working. The swelling continues to go down and in turn the pain is less.

      I can’t wait to hear your first Maui update. xox

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      • You know what’s great about walking? It’s free! I love to walk, mostly in the summer. We’re in the perfect location. There’s endless trails in Edmonton’s River valley. If you can get me out of bed early enough, we can enjoy a brisk walk every morning, say 10ish…..mid-morning :/ works best for me. Happy to hear your PT is making your life better. It’s probably rather traumatic on your muscles to go from rest to activity. Steady as she goes hon, nothing too crazy. I was wearing my aqua platform sandals in Safeway here today and a girl asked me where to get them. I said in Edmonton, and she went, ‘huh?’ LOL. xoxo

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          • Me either! I hope it’s a nice summer, they usually are. But our weather isn’t as consistent as California’s. It can change in a heartbeat. It’d be fun if it snowed one day, LOL Bite my tongue xoxo

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                    • Oh what fun!!!

                      I’m actually hoping to look at cars this weekend, while at the same time taking mine in for a few repairs. The breaks are a bid spongy and I just learned that one of my break lights is out. My van is almost 16 years old so it’s probably time for an update. I don’t know exactly what I want, but I know what I don’t want and that is a car low to the ground. It’s so hard for me to get in and out of those cars. I don’t want a gas hug, I don’t want anything too big, but I still need to be able to carpool teens for a few more years, and of course I’m always hauling stuff for clients too. Playing in a craft room sounds like more fun that car shopping…which I loath. I just want a working model to magically appear in my driveway in my favorite color with every safety feature known to man. What a Barbie, eh?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • You deserve a new vehicle! 16 years?! That has to be some kind of record. Cars last a lot longer in CA than here. It’d be a rust pile by then. We put so much stuff on the roads in winter. Maybe you bought something???!!!! I only had Friday off last week, so today is my fun day xox and you my friend is someone Barbie would aspire to be more like.

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