…and it’s killing us!
I’m talking about sugar. White sugar, brown sugar, pink packets, blue packets, yellow packets. It’s all taking a toll on our mind, body, and spirit. Our physical body can’t process it. Our mental state is clouded by it. Our spiritual body is being suffocated by it. Yes, it’s sweet, I know! But sweetness doesn’t necessarily translate into goodness, and our bodies are telling us all about it.
In the last couple of years I had noticed that my hands were swelling when I was exercising. I thought it was odd. Shouldn’t things shrink with exercise instead of increasing in size? At first I thought it was the heat, but I would find that my hands would swell even when it was sixty degrees, or less. I also noticed that my face was swollen some mornings. After a while I would begin to notice other areas of my body that were either swollen, or in pain, without an apparent reason.
After a visit to the doctor and some blood tests, it became clear that there was no reason for the swelling that could be fixed with the help of medication. The only immediate solution, according to the doctor, was to drop the extra pounds I had so conveniently added to my body. Yes, I knew that my weight was also an issue that I had to deal with, but I sensed that my body was telling me that there was more.
I wanted to find answers, so I began to read articles and books. One of the books I found, and that really hit home, was The Makers Diet by Jordan Rubin. The more I dissected the information provided by Rubin, the more I realized that eating unprocessed food is by far healthier for us. It was this realization that was the beginning of my newfound journey of making smarter food choices. But although I started my journey of making healthier food choices with every intention of keeping it up, I found myself failing quickly. Could it be that I needed to begin with transforming my mind? Yes!
On February 17, 2017, as I drove from Columbus to Pittsburgh I had an encounter with God. He was clear in telling me I needed to pray to lose. It wasn’t about body weight. It was about transforming my mind. I had to release some things. I wrote and implemented my own program Ready To Release, which is a 49-day prayer journey. I quickly learned that most of my physical and emotional challenges centered around sugar. All things pointed to my sugar intake! I started paying attention to how much sugar I was consuming—it was a lot! I began to understand that it was imperative that I make adjustments, and reading food labels was at the top of my list. As I began to read the labels I found that sugar is pretty much in everything, unless it is fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and fish. I found also that I was safe with nuts, but yogurt had to go. Things that I had thought were good food choices were actually bad food choices. I learned quickly that any food item that is processed is packed with sugar. I mean, who knew that even some cheeses contain sugar!
On May 15, 2017, after searching for answers, I came to the realization that sugar was the culprit behind my health challenges. I knew I enjoyed it, but it was killing me. I asked myself how I could love it, when my body was deteriorating because of it. I wanted it, but it was bad for me. I desired it, but it wasn’t adding a single benefit to my life. I knew I had to let it go. But what I didn’t know was that what had begun as a journey looking for answers to swelling hands and some pain in my body, was about to become a journey that would change my life—and save it.
Letting go of anything is no easy feat. But giving up sugar is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do, because sugar is everywhere and we all crave it. Actually, let me re-phrase that one: we are addicted to it. Trust me when I say that I have said good-bye to sugar before—and always allowed it back into my life after a few hours. But this time things were different. I didn’t drop sugar from my life willy-nilly. I researched it in order to gain knowledge and understanding. I knew I needed a challenge to make my decision stick. As a competitive person I needed something I could compete with.
While I was looking for a challenge, I remembered the Fed Up challenge launched in 2014 by Katie Couric, Laurie, Stephanie, and the Fed Up team. It’s a 10-day challenge that sets you on the path towards a permanent breakup with sugar. As shared on their website, “The Fed Up Challenge is a national campaign to break loose from the sugar industry’s powerful grip.”
The Fed Up Challenge guides each participant to start their breakup with sugar by cutting down their consumption of sodas and other sweetened beverages and foods that have added sugars. They encourage people to eat fresh whole foods, and lay off all products that contain added sugar (including honey, molasses, agave, etc.), and all liquid sugars (such as sodas, bottled teas, fruit juices, and sports drinks). Yes, my friends, this includes also all those artificial sugars and sugar substitutes.
I was ready to finally say good-bye to sugar, but… I also live with an amazing husband who loves sweets. This would be my journey, my story—not his. I wasn’t asking him to join me. Yet, the questions remained. How will this work? Where would I get the strength to finally let go of sugar, only see it on a regular basis throughout my home?
With these questions in my mind, I began my journey towards a sugar-free life, and here’s how it went:
Day one. The no added sugar journey began. Not bad. Matter of fact it was easy! I knew then I would be able to knock this out without a sweat.
Not so fast, girlie!
Day two. I woke up ready to hurt someone. Really! I have never been addicted to alchol or drugs, but I believe that day I acted as one addicted to something mightier than a stronghold. I was a raging maniac! I turned to fruit seeking something sweet. I turned to almonds seeking a crunch. I found myself reading labels looking for something that said, “You can eat this.” I was grateful when night fell so I could go to sleep hoping that when I wake on day three I would be in a better state.
Days three, four, and five. I felt better than I had in years!!!
I was thankful that I only had one day of fighting, for I’m not sure I would have survived another day as bad as day two. The struggle is there and it’s real. After finding my groove and pushing through the challenge I knew that I could live without sugar. It wasn’t just about the swollen hands. For years I have suffered from headaches, sinus pain, and migraines. For all those years I would not make it a week without experiencing headaches. My head would begin to pound the moment clouds began to roll in. But on day three of my journey, I woke to a downpour, and instead of a pounding headache, I jumped out of bed absolutely thrilled! I could breathe! In fact, it’s been 47 days now (as of this blog post), and I haven’t had any sort of headache, sinus pressure, or migraine. Could it be that my breaking up with sugar has given me a new life? Yes! I feel great! My mind is clear. My body has been revived. The break up was difficult and there are days I want to run back, but there’s something inside of me that tells me, “It’s not worth it.” It’s sweet I know… but I just can’t do it anymore. I love me too much. Heck! No headaches? I would be a fool to return to something that was causing me misery. But at the same time, I’m not going to remove all joy out of my life, for I do love Jeni’s Ice Cream and Keylime Pie. Giving up sugar doesn’t mean that I won’t ever take a bite, or two, or maybe even three on a special occasion. It means that I have now the information I need to make good decision that will keep me feeling great. And that in itself is a victory.
What about you? What in your life must you say good-bye to? Join the conversation and post in the comment section.