Why You Should Quit Sugar.

Originally published: January 12, 2016

You walk into your colleague’s office and grab a Starburst from his candy bowl. You grab a donut from the reception desk. You have a free drink from Starbucks so you decide to treat yourself to a Venti Peppermint Frappuccino. You have just entered a sugar-induced roller coaster and it’s affecting your life in many unseen ways.

I recently read the book The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. In the book she makes the case for keeping animal fats, including butter and cheese, in your diet and points to sugar as being the real culprit of an overweight society. I digested that for a few weeks and finally started to take sugar and simple carbs (bread, pasta, and my much beloved pizza) out of my diet. I started with breakfast. I used to eat a high fiber cereal and a flavored yogurt. It’s virtually impossible to find cereal without any sugar and flavored yogurt has as much sugar as a hot fudge sundae. And I was eating that every day. I decided to make a smoothie from frozen berries (without any added sugar), raw almonds, whole Greek unflavored yogurt and chia seeds. The most important thing was to not have a sugar spike that would creep up on me two hours later causing me to feel hungry. I also abandoned all fake sugar like diet drinks and sweetener because it’s still tricking your head that there’s more food coming which causes hunger down the road.

Why You Should Quit Sugar

After the breakfast changes, I started eating arugula and cheese for lunch. The first few weeks were just like quitting smoking for me. Headaches, fogginess, sweating and chills. All from quitting sugar. Makes me think we might need rehab centers for all the after effects! I survived it, and now, some 4 months later, my sugar addiction is long behind me.

But you’re wondering why you should even go through the hassle. Here are the unexpected benefits:

1. My mind is sharper. Once I came out of the fog of addiction, my mind is much more focused. I sit down to complete a project or task or writing a blog post like this, and I have complete focus. I’m not getting up to grab a cookie from the pantry or rummaging through the fridge for a yogurt pick me up. As Rick Foster wrote in his article for the Huffington Post, “I’m aware of being far more able to focus on a task and get it done. My tendency toward distraction has reduced dramatically. What I would now describe as jittery, nervous energy after big doses of sugar through the day, has been replaced by a sense of focused calm.” This for me was the biggest surprise.

2. I sleep better. I don’t know why but I sleep much better. I used to wake up with night sweats due to menopause but this has subsided dramatically since going off sugar. I go to bed at 9 or 9:30 and drop off immediately to sleep and wake up at 5:30 usually without an alarm.

3. I’m more adaptable. I don’t understand this at all but I feel like a last minute crisis doesn’t rattle me as much. Maybe because I’m not going up and down in glucose spikes but I roll with the punches much more easily. And I am able to fit in tasks when before I would have procrastinated. So let’s say I need to get an article done in the next 10 minutes or wait until later. I try and get done what I can get done in the next ten minutes. Before I would have sat on my phone going through Facebook notifications instead of tackling the task.

4. I’m rarely hungry. I can go 6 to 7 hours without food. I remember a health coach instructing us that even if you have that one piece of chocolate or mint, it turns you metabolism on and your body immediately starts calling for more. When I eat protein-rich foods like eggs and bacon, I rarely want to over eat. I eat what I want and don’t think about food again. I lost 20 pounds without starvation. I have to say I never expected this.

5. I have less inflammation. I walk every day. It used to be I would start up the hill of my driveway and I would feel pain in my joints like my hips and knees. About a month after not eating sugar, I suddenly realized that I wasn’t in any pain any more. I used to have bursitis in my hips and shoulders that required cortisone shots or physical therapy. There has been no need ever since giving up sugar.

6. I have energy throughout the day. I used to dread being the afternoon speaker on a team off-site roster. Now it’s no big deal. As long as I’m not binging on potato chips and chocolate chip cookies or downing a Pepsi at lunch, I’m coasting along on an even keel without any fog or sleepiness.

This post is the perfect example of my non-sugar lifestyle. My son is home for the holidays and last year I would have pestered away the morning waiting for him to get ready to go out to the store. But instead I have proactively written the post and feel accomplished before 10 AM. I’m not saying it’s easy to give up sugar and you definitely feel the barrage of sugar exploitation every time you are in the checkout line for the first few weeks but once you are free? It’s life changing.

6 Surprising Reasons to Quit Sugar.

You walk into your colleague’s office and grab a starburst from his candy bowl. You grab a donut from the reception desk. You have a free drink from Starbucks so you decide to treat yourself to a Venti Peppermint Frappuccino. You have just entered a sugar induced roller coaster and it’s affecting your life in many unseen ways.

I recently read the book, The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. In the book she makes the case for keeping animal fats including butter and cheese in your diet and points to sugar as being the real culprit of an overweight society. I digested that for a few weeks and finally started to take sugar and simple carbs (bread, pasta, and my much beloved pizza) out of my diet. I started with breakfast. I used to eat a high fiber cereal and a flavored yogurt. It’s virtually impossible to find cereal without any sugar and flavored yogurt has as much sugar as a hot fudge sundae. And I was eating that every day. I decided to make a smoothie from frozen berries (without any added sugar), raw almonds, whole Greek unflavored yogurt and chia seeds. The most important thing was to not have a sugar spike that would creep up on me two hours later causing me to feel hungry. I also abandoned all fake sugar like diet drinks and sweetener because it’s still tricking your head that there’s more food coming which causes hunger down the road.

Sugar Free at last

After the breakfast changes, I started eating arugula and cheese for lunch. The first few weeks were just like quitting smoking for me. Headaches, fogginess, sweating and chills. All from quitting sugar. Makes me think we might need rehab centers for all the after effects! I survived it, and now, some 4 months later, my sugar addiction is long behind me.

But you’re wondering why you should even go through the hassle. Here are the unexpected benefits:

1. My mind is sharper. Once I came out of the fog of addiction, my mind is much more focused. I sit down to complete a project or task or writing a blog post like this, and I have complete focus. I’m not getting up to grab a cookie from the pantry or rummaging through the fridge for a yogurt pick me up. As Rick Foster wrote in his article for the Huffington Post, “I’m aware of being far more able to focus on a task and get it done. My tendency toward distraction has reduced dramatically. What I would now describe as jittery, nervous energy after big doses of sugar through the day, has been replaced by a sense of focused calm.” This for me was the biggest surprise.

2. I sleep better. I don’t know why but I sleep much better. I used to wake up with night sweats due to menopause but this has subsided dramatically since going off sugar. I go to bed at 9 or 9:30 and drop off immediately to sleep and wake up at 5:30 usually without an alarm.

3. I’m more adaptable. I don’t understand this at all but I feel like a last minute crisis doesn’t rattle me as much. Maybe because I’m not going up and down in glucose spikes but I roll with the punches much more easily. And I am able to fit in tasks when before I would have procrastinated. So let’s say I need to get an article done in the next 10 minutes or wait until later. I try and get done what I can get done in the next ten minutes. Before I would have sat on my phone going through Facebook notifications instead of tackling the task.

4. I’m rarely hungry. I can go 6 to 7 hours without food. I remember a health coach instructing us that even if you have that one piece of chocolate or mint, it turns you metabolism on and your body immediately starts calling for more. When I eat protein rich foods like eggs and bacon, I rarely want to over eat. I eat what I want and don’t think about food again. I lost 20 pounds without starvation. I have to say I never expected this.

5. I have less inflammation. I walk every day. It used to be I would start up the hill of my driveway and I would feel pain in my joints like my hips and knees. About a month after not eating sugar, I suddenly realized that I wasn’t in any pain any more. I used to have bursitis in my hips and shoulders that required cortisone shots or physical therapy. There has been no need ever since giving up sugar.

6. I have energy throughout the day. I used to dread being the afternoon speaker on a team off-site roster. Now it’s no big deal. As long as I’m not binging on potato chips and chocolate chip cookies or downing a Pepsi at lunch, I’m coasting along on an even keel without any fog or sleepiness.

This post is the perfect example of my non-sugar lifestyle. My son is home for the holidays and last year I would have pestered away the morning waiting for him to get ready to go out to the store. But instead I have proactively written the post and feel accomplished before 10 AM. I’m not saying it’s easy to give up sugar and you definitely feel the barrage of sugar exploitation every time you are in the checkout line for the first few weeks but once you are free? It’s life changing.

Failing towards Success.

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Robert F. Kennedy

If you aren’t failing, you aren’t innovating. Wow. That’s a scary realization. I had a project go off the rails recently and I have to say that at the time I was reading, Scott Adams‘ book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. It was an eye opener. Scott Adams has failed at countless projects. Video games, restaurants, internet services, Velcro Rosen bags, and Webvan to name just a few of his failures. He suggests actually being steeped in failure. If I was not in the middle of the book reading about all of his failures, my project that failed would have stopped me. I’d have thrown in the towel. I’m not meant for this. But Scott’s consistent optimism and his systems orientation showed me that failing is inevitable. As Scott said to look at “failure as a tool, not an outcome”. It’s reshaped the way I see failure. Don’t avert your eyes from failure, learn from it. Find the one little nugget of information and move on. Thanks, Scott. success

Now I’ve started reflecting back on various other projects that were less than stellar in my life. Like this blog. I write it weekly and I can never predict if more people will click to open it or not. Frequently, the subject line or title has a lot to do with whether or not someone like you even decides to open it. This becomes a delicate dance between a quirky title like Lawnmower Fairies or something more main stream like The Butterfly Effect. One Small Change Can Have An Impact. So which do you think had more opens? The second one. It’s more straight-forward. It’s something that is relatable. I’m sure you are thinking, yeah, I can handle one small change…let me see what that’s all about. On the other hand Lawnmower Fairies was published in July of 2012 and has precisely 26 opens…ever. The Butterfly Effect was published in July of 2014 and has had over 154 opens as of this morning. Big difference. I don’t write cryptic titles any more. I mean what the heck IS a lawnmower fairy and why would anyone but immediate family (thanks Mom) want to read about it? The most important thing is to learn from it. Otherwise, I could have packed up this blog two years ago and thrown in the towel.

So here are some of the secrets on how to get to success through all those failures:

1. Do. My friend, Janine quotes Yoda frequently, “No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.” Do the work. Write the blog. Contact potential clients. Raise the money. Research potential locations. Read books on the topic. Put a business plan together. Network. Update your resume. Make a LinkedIn profile. See who else sells Purple Squirrel catchers. Decide what you want on your menu. Figure out how many items you want in your product line. Decide if you want to self publish or not. Show up and do. Do do do.

2. Energy. Scott Adams spends a lot of time talking about energy. If want to be constantly “doing”, you can’t be sitting on a coach eating Twinkies all day. Think about how you are going to keep the fire in your belly roaring. Regular movement is one of the best things to keep you optimistic and motivated. There is no downside to exercise except for over doing it or the cost of equipment. Eat fuel that helps your body keep in tip top shape. You know if you eat that cream filled donut you will feel miserable in an hour and want to go back to bed. So don’t. Keep you energy stoked.

3. Reframe. Anytime you have a setback or make a mistake, reframe it. Say to yourself “Hmmm, that was interesting, what can I learn from this?” I have to say I use this when I coach. A client will say that they want to do yoga 5 times a week and they don’t follow through. Goose egg. So I say, “No sweat. What did you learn from that?” Client says, “I don’t like yoga”. Me, “Great. Is exercise still important to you?” Client, “Yes. I think I’d rather play tennis 3 times a week”. OK so now we have reframed and moved on.

4. Keep on. Keep on keeping on. It’s so easy to fall under the shadow of one small failure and decide to succumb to fear. “I’m not meant to be an entrepreneur.” “I’ll never get into that college.” “I’ll never find the right partner.” Do not sit and catalog all your failures from the last thirty years in order to rationalize why you should give up. Think about Thomas Edison and his 1,500 failures at creating a light bulb. Thank goodness he didn’t give up. Keep on.

5. Systems. Scott recommends creating systems instead of goals. So a system is getting daily movement. A goal is running a marathon. A system is eating three vegetables a day. A goal is losing 20 pounds. Systems are just habits in disguise. As Scott sees goals as limiting. Once you achieve it you are done. With a system, you are constantly updating and looking for opportunities. Take the system of daily movement. I don’t need to worry about whether it’s yoga, running, walking or jitterbugging. I just make sure I get daily movement. It’s a habit. A process with no end point. Set up systems.

6. Acceptance. Make sure to accept the failings of others. When you start judging those around you for their failures, it’s just a reflection of how you see yourself. If you think your son isn’t athletic enough or your daughter isn’t smart enough…there is a good chance that you don’t see yourself as “enough”. We are just works of art in progress. At one point, the Mona Lisa was just a few strokes of paint waiting to be brought to fruition. Let go and accept.

I’m not sure why I never realized it before but Scott Adams’ book just made me understand that we are all out here just trying our best. He was drawing Dilbert for 8 years while still working full time at Pacific Bell. He’s a real human just like me. We are all humans just like me.