Like a Gummy Frog in a Pot

There is a story about a frog in a pot of water. If you turn up the water slowly enough, the frog will not notice he is sitting in boiling water until it is too late to jump out, because, well, he will be, you know, dead. This is what I think of when it comes to my sugar story. (Only my frog would be a gummy one – which can’t be boiled because it would break down, but that is not my point, now is it!)

Now that I am off of sugar, I can look back and realize all the slow changes that were not due to age, or hormones, or life, but due to excessive sugar.

I was one moody bitch. It was due to the weather, the kids fighting, or my husband breathing. I do not remember being happy on Tuesday and blah on Wednesday. However, mild depression and mood swings are associated with excessive sugar consumption. Don’t get me wrong, the weather still can suck, my kids will fight over nothing, and my husband still snores. The difference is I do not wake up snarling at everyone about it.

The gut is the new black! No, seriously, it is. No one used to ever talk about their gut flora or their biome, except for my colon therapist, Kelly. She was the only person I talked to about it, because let’s face it, no one really wants to talk about those things. No matter how many times I read Everybody Poops to my kids, did it ever make it OK to discuss such things with anyone but my colon hydrotherapist? I did learn many things during my years with Kelly; mostly her life story but a lot about our internal plumbing, and this was way before it was cool. The majority of our immune system is in our intestinal tract.

You know what our GI tract cannot have if we want to keep the good bacteria happy and the bad ones away? Sugar. You know what I was feeding them forever? That’s right, sugar. I would be doubled over in pain with Kelly after every single stinking holiday. Post Easter and Halloween were always especially brutal. I won’t get any more graphic. Let’s just say those issues are gone as well.

My skin as a teenager was good. I had the occasional zit. Nothing major. I look at pictures of myself from high school and college, and I might have the occasional little blemish, but nothing noteworthy. My skin got progressively worse starting in grad school, and by the time I could afford a dermatologist in my late 20s, I was dealing with cystic acne. I was told it was due to hormones at my age, and it happens to many women. I had to go on oral meds and get breakouts injected with cortisone because they hurt so stinking bad, I couldn’t wait for them to work themselves out. Never mind going around the world with a giant zit and a baby on your hip like something out of MTV’s Teen Mom. I was going to one of the best dermatologists in NYC and given tons of creams and medications. I was never asked about my sugar, wheat, or artificial sweetener consumption. Now I know sugar increases inflammation in the body overall, it increases blood sugar, and confuses the heck out of your hormones resulting in acne. Post sugar breakup, my skin is good. I still obsess over premature aging and wish Botox grew on trees, but the constant zits have gone the way of the Sweet Tarts – as in, out of my life.

One of my favorite parts of The Wizard of Oz has always been when everything goes from black and white to color when Dorothy and Toto land on the Wicked Witch of the West. That is the best way I can describe how things taste now that I have stopped deadening my taste buds with sugar. Everything tastes better without the constant bombardment of chemicals. Things smell better – or worse, in some instances. My taste buds took at least a month to wake back up from the sugar coma I put them in. Yours will too, just be patient. As a warning, some things might taste or smell flat-out disgusting once you ditch all the sugars. I remember smelling a fellow passenger opening up a bag of Blue Chips on an airplane and just about gagging. I used to love them.

I had a really annoying 15 pounds I could not lose. Nothing that ruined my health, not enough that I would be deemed, you know, overweight, but enough that it shook my self-confidence. I have been teaching Spin, Pilates, and Yoga for ten years, so to have any extra weight was not cool.

In addition, with my body type, which is called an inverted triangle, it is even worse. It consists of broad shoulders (thanks Dad), small waist, and narrow hips at 5’7. So if I am at my current fighting weight, it can all work. If I have extra pounds, it goes to my face almost immediately, my upper arms, and to my muffin top. It isn’t a cute distribution like a Kardashian who gets a bigger butt and everyone gives her a high five for loving herself. I was asked if I was expecting when I went with a pregnant friend to a maternity store (true story) when I was a little heavier.

So, these extra pounds were really bothering me, but I could not lose them for good. They kept finding me! I would drop a few for a while, and they would come back with friends. It was an annoying dance I wanted no part of, and yet I could not get off the dance floor. Once I got rid of sugar, the twelve pounds left for good and took another three with them. I went down three pants sizes and started buying bikinis again at 40. I got my groove back, and you will too.

Excerpt from my book “Why Can’t I Stick to My Diet”

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