My Experience Lose weight? Me? No way. Until...

I used to be thin...

...And then I went through two pregnancies. Not to mention my husband and I really enjoy cooking together and going out to eat. It did not take long for my weight to creep up, a few pounds every year, until one day I stepped on the scales and realized I weighed 222 pounds. I had tried so many ways to lose weight, and few of them had any effect at all. Even when I had a personal trainer and was building muscle - so much that I could leg press 375 pounds and take any crazy set my trainer threw at me - I still could not lose more than ten to fifteen pounds. I reasoned with myself - "At least I'm really strong!" "I guess it's worth a little bit of extra weight to be able to enjoy the foods I love." The most frustrating part was that it seemed no matter how I changed my diet, the scale wouldn't budge - unless it was moving in the wrong direction.

I was never any good at "dieting".

I tried weighing my food, keeping a calorie journal, reducing red meat, fats, carbs, but none of it worked. I never saw any of the methods as being enjoyable for a sustainable amount of time. Seriously, who wants to spend the rest of their life weighing their servings or looking up calorie counts on an app? I knew that my life was not going to get any less hectic anytime soon, and I simply didn't have the time to investigate my food every time I ate. The calorie counts of foods didn't make any sense to me, either, so I wasn't very optimistic about being able to wean myself off of a calorie counting app. Why did Brand X's strawberry yogurt have so many more calories than Brand Y's strawberry yogurt, even though Brand X was supposed to be the "healthy" kind? Maybe counting calories was a sensible approach forty or fifty years ago, but there are so many options now that a person could spend an entire day at the grocery store trying to figure out the calorie counts of a week's worth of groceries!

Sound familiar?

Many people I talk to struggle with these same issues. I have friends that cook their own meals, visit the gym every day, enroll their children in daily physical activities, and avoid sodas yet still can't manage to look in the mirror or step on the scale and feel like they are where they want to be. It is always a hot topic when we get together - "I lost a couple of pounds this month because I stopped eating (fill in the blank with the bad food du jour).

I know, right?

Then my husband was given a research assignment...

After retiring from the Army, my husband returned to college to complete his Bachelor's degree. His options were somewhat limited based on what would allow him to retain the most transfer credits, and he elected to enter the Community and Public Health program at the University of Central Oklahoma. One of his most intensive assignments was a research paper over the health topic of his choosing. He had done a small assignment previously about sugar and its effects on the body that had piqued his interest, so he took the opportunity to research it further. The more he read, the more shocked he became at what he was discovering. He would talk to me about it and I would continue folding laundry and half-listen, but I could tell he was starting to get excited about what he was learning. Finally, a couple of months after he turned his assignment in, I sat down and read the full paper and the accompanying resources.

I was blown away - and angry.

I had no clue that sugar was so prevalent in food, and that it was capable of the havoc it is wreaking on our bodies. Yes, our bodies require sugars to work properly, but those are natural sugars - fructose, glucose, and lactose - that occur naturally in fruits, dairy, and other foods. The sugars that are added (!) to so many foods, though - those are the culprit in many of our physical ills. And artificial sweeteners? Don't get me started! My education was not laden with science courses, but I have a good grasp of chemistry and biology. Still, my layperson's knowledge was more than sufficient to see that it's a miracle that any of us are alive if we eat the processed foods that have taken over our grocery stores! Don't get me wrong - I truly appreciate the convenience of these foods, and I enjoy eating many of them, but I feel like we have been betrayed by the producers of these foods. We really have no idea what some of the ingredients in our foods are - and that is purely intentional, in my opinion.

I put my newly acquired knowledge to work.

I knew that if half of what I had read was true, this surely was the key - the reason that none of the other approaches had been effective. Having a firm grasp of the effects of added sugars helped to steel my resolve - but it still took several weeks for me to really commit to what seemed to be a HUGE lifestyle change. I am a dedicated coffee drinker - but that used to mean that I was constantly replenishing our stock of liquid hazelnut creamer and sugar (pure cane, of course). I always assumed that sugar was absolutely the best choice since it had only 16 calories per teaspoon. According to what I knew about calories, that was practically nothing! Now, however, I was beginning to realize that calories are very different when sugar is involved, and I knew that my flavored coffees would likely be the most difficult sacrifice I would make. Once I decided to take the plunge, though, I made sure we had plenty of real cream in the refrigerator, since that would be all I would use in my coffee from then on. I was sure I would just completely give up coffee, or end up with my "coffee" being fifty percent cream. At first I wasn't crazy about this new way of getting my caffeine fix, but once my husband told me that cinnamon and nutmeg were perfectly acceptable add-ins, I was more satisfied.

No more of this...

Then I began to notice the strangest things...

...I realized after just a few days that things tasted different. Nuts suddenly had a sweet flavor. My coffee seemed almost too sweet if I put very much cinnamon in it at all. I started enjoying fruit more than I had since childhood, when fruit was still a treat, not a chore.

And then there were the completely unexpected (but very welcome) side effects.

I had a noticeable reduction in the number of times I felt bloated or had acid reflux. Before the "sugar kick", I had suffered from acid reflux on a fairly regular basis, but one day I realized that I had not had any trouble with it since I changed my sugar intake. After a few weeks, I noticed that my feet were softer and smoother and my tinnea versicolor (a fungal condition that causes large areas of the skin to have pink circles that can be dime-to-quarter-sized) had mysteriously disappeared. My hunger had decreased, as had the urge to buy a Dr. Pepper every time I went somewhere.


And then it happened...

The weight began to come off. It was as though the pounds were criminals scattering during a police raid. I couldn't keep them if I wanted to! Over the first 2 months I lost 14 pounds. Fourteen months after I began the "sugar kick", I stepped on the scale....172.8 pounds. I had not exercised. I had not made an effort to reduce my portions (although that is a natural side effect of reducing sugar intake). I still ate out, ordered decadent food, and picked up fast food more often than I care to admit. I still made the family's monthly-at-a-minimum trek to Eischen's for their famous fried chicken (and ate until I couldn't eat anymore). Once in a while, my husband and I shared a dessert. And still the weight had come off. In those 14 months, I went from a size 16 to a 10 in my favorite brand of jeans. I had not been a size 10 since before my pregnancies.

Of all these positive effects, the most life-changing was the knowledge that I was now entirely in control of my weight and my health.

It was like having a superpower! I no longer felt miserable and hopeless if I gained a couple of pounds because I knew that I would be able to turn it around. There was no guilt over "blowing my diet" when I had dessert, because I wasn't on a "diet". I had made a lifestyle change that had become second nature. I made the decision during the holidays to allow myself more sweets and I gained a few pounds back, but since I knew "the secret" now, I knew that the extra sugar calories would not be hanging around for long. It was a little scary how quickly that compulsion to eat sugary foods crept back into my system, but 48 hours of conscious self-control purged that urge, and the pounds slid right off again.

You don't scare me anymore!

I wasn't the only one seeing benefits.

My husband had gone for annual lab work at the doctor a few months before we reduced (notice I didn't say eliminated ?) our sugar intake. His triglycerides were high at 330. When he returned to the doctor a few months after we made the change, they were 77. From 330 to 77. In a few months. Ask someone with a medical background if that is a pretty good rate of improvement. But be prepared for them to accuse you of having your information wrong. It was just one more piece of evidence that reinforced how crucial this change is. Oh, and his high cholesterol? Yeah, the sugar "fixed" that too. And here we were believing all this time that fat was the culprit. Now, I wonder how we could have been so wrong. Surely the sugar industry had nothing to do with it, right? I have some eyebrow-raising information for you later in the course about why trans fats have taken far too much blame for the nation's obesity crisis.

I became one of THOSE people...

"Oh my gosh, I HAVE to tell you how this works..." "Let me tell you my weight loss story!" "It was so easy....want to hear about it? Sure you do....."

"Here we go again...."

I never understood why "those people" always wanted to "share". I get it now. The health risks associated with a diet laden with added sugar are too devastating and unnecessary for me to conscientiously keep this information quiet. I want so badly to help other people realize that feeling and looking better - and being healthier in general - is so much easier than they think. I know this because I once felt exactly the same way. "How do these celebrities go back to being skinny right after they have a baby? They must be starving themselves," I would think as I finished my "healthy" snack of yogurt-covered raisins and flavored water. But now I get it, and I am determined to help other people get it. Will everyone see all of these health benefits? I honestly don't know - I am merely sharing what my family experienced. In addition, it depends on the level of commitment to your chosen intake amount. If you are skeptical about the truth of what you have heard, please note that I am not selling or endorsing any products or services and make your own judgment. I only hope to help others understand how to be a critical consumer and determine which foods are harmful and which are helpful. It's not as easy as it sounds, since food production practices have changed so much in the past 3-4 decades, and the sugar lobby is powerful and deceptive. I get that they have to make money, but it makes me angry and sad that they are doing so at the expense of consumers' health.

Are you ready to learn more?

Now that you know more about why I created this course and what you can gain (or lose!) by perusing the information, let's see how familiar you are with sugar levels in various foods.

Created By
Audrey Ranney


Created with images by 955169 - "sugar cup pile of sugar" • striatic - "/doh" • moritz320 - "coffee sugar drink" • jimbowen0306 - "Budai -The Chinese Representation of the Buddha" • Jo Jakeman - "Scales" • PublicDomainPictures - "business smartphone call"

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