Day 10 – Sue: 10 Ways to Distract Myself

Wow, did this challenge come on the perfect day for me to put it to work!

Today I was working from home (which I do every Wednesday) and I had to complete my year-end performance review.

Working from home when I’m NOT stressed is easy for me regarding food choices and snacking, but when I’m STRESSED it is much more difficult to manage.  At work, I keep a minimum amount of food available to me … because I know I will “stress eat” if the choices are available 🙁 Usually I have almonds, pistachios, salmon jerky and cottage cheese available in the office. But at home there is a whole kitchen full of food … and the grocery store is on;y one block away if I want something that I don’t have!

And I find completing my performance review to be stressful.  I know that I’ve done a good job, but I find it stressful getting the words just right on paper …

So here are some ways I can distract myself, a combination of tactics I used today and others:

  1. Go for a walk.
  2. Put in a load of wash.
  3. Feed the cat, who loves me in return when I do 🙂
  4. Tidy up around the house.
  5. Eat some grapes or an orange.
  6. Play music I like on my iPod.
  7. Clean the clutter out of my purse.
  8. Find a new recipe to make for dinner.
  9. Do my fingernails.
  10. Take a nap!

Day 9 – Sue: 5-5-5-5 List

This was the most fun challenge yet! I liked spending the time to actually write down non-food ways that I use to “comfort” myself.

When I was using sugar to self-medicate, I always said that I turned to sugar for EVERY emotion: happy, sad, tired, stressed, etc. Now I realize that I have developed effective ways of “self-medicating” that don’t involve food — or sugar!

5 Ways I Relax

  1. Take a long walk outside
  2. Take a nap
  3. Write my blog (http://simplysugarfree.typepad.com/blog/)
  4. Read Facebook posts
  5. Paint my nails

5 People who Comfort Me

  1. My children
  2. My husband
  3. A group of 55 women who went on a meditation retreat with me 🙂
  4. Listening to Deepak Chopra’s meditations
  5. Friends at work

5 Activities that Provide a Little Soothing

  1. Taking a bath with candles and soothing music
  2. Getting a pedicure
  3. Wandering aimlessly at Whole Foods
  4. Going ton a bike ride with my husband
  5. Going for a long walk outdoors

5 Places that are Comforting

  1. Anywhere outdoors
  2. Whole Foods
  3. My extra-long, extra deep soaking bathtub 🙂
  4. The sofa in our family room
  5. The hammock in our backyard

Day 8 – Sue: Yum Yum!

Ah, the list of healthy stress-reducing foods makes my heart sing!

Since giving up sugar, I have really learned how to love foods that fuel my body.

For breakfast,  I had a nice bowl of steel cut oats (the coarser kind than regular oatmeal, they really stick to your ribs!) with a few raisins, some slivered almonds and skim milk.

For lunch, I had a trip to the cafeteria salad bar. Raw spinach was one of the greens, so onto my salad it went.

Mid-morning and mid-afternoon I like to enjoy a cup of tea … no sugar, no artificial sweetener.

Now, the only thing on the list that is hard for me is chocolate.  I know that everyone stresses the health benefits of dark chocolate … and that at least 80% cacao is most beneficial.  I have tried this … but it triggered my sugar cravings 🙁

I have found, however, that I CAN enjoy cacao nibs (they are the ground up bits of the actual cacao seed).  They aren’t sweet at all, but deliver the flavor of chocolate without the addictive sugar.  If I put them into a smoothie or sprinkle them on fresh fruit, the fruit delivers the slow, non-triggering sweetness and the cacao nibs deliver the chocolate flavor … works for me!

And now, for my bedtime snack.  I have a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter and the oranges are calling my name.

I am enjoying this challenge so much!  Having a daily tidbit to think about is just enough to help keep myself aware and mindful throughout the day.


Day 7 – Sue: Teachable Moments and Just Say No

Ah, the food pushers.

Early in my weight loss, I ran into this a lot.  “Just a bite won’t make you fat,” they would say, not understanding that I wasn’t avoiding the calories … I was avoiding the battle I had with sugar addiction for my entire life! And I hadn’t read any of Dr. Alber’s books … so I wasn’t very well prepared with what to say.

But now that I’ve maintained my 52-pound weight loss for seven years, I don’t find that any more … my success dis-arms any food pushers!

I do try, however, to use Teachable Moments. On behalf of myself and all others who consider themselves sugar addicts, I think it is important for people to know that some of us just can’t say “No” to sugar once we start.  I believe that my relationship to sugar is the same as an alcoholic’s relationship to alcohol.  Without sounding self-righteous, I explain to people that it’s best for me to just stay away from sugar because once I start eating it I can’t stop.  Most people will respect your will-power and the boundary that you draw for yourself.

I also believe in the power of “No, thank you.”  We have a lot of celebrations at work that involve cake 🙂  People are used to me just politely saying “No, thank you” when it is offered … and I just continue chatting with my friends who have gathered for the celebration.

P.S. I recently celebrated my 30th anniversary at work.  My boss went to at least three grocery stores to put together a magnificent bowl of exotic fresh fruit for everyone to enjoy! We had donut peaches and black velvet plums …  a treat for everyone!



Day 6 – Sue: Positive Self Talk

Phew!  This one I’ve got nailed!

I’ve worked 30 years at one company, currently in the IT Department.  It is a job that I love!

But when I lost weight, I went back to school at night to become certified as a Holistic Health Coach.  It is my goal to help other sugar addicts gain freedom from sugar and I wanted the knowledge and tools to help me — and others — be successful. (You can follow me on Twitter @simplysugarfree.)

At work I am also our Wellness Champion (a volunteer position).  I give a number of workshops, or hire people to speak on topics that I’m not an expert in.  I’m always telling my audiences: “You have a choice with each bite.  To improve your health, or make it worse.”

And I have a number of sayings like that I use on myself (and sometimes my husband!) Another favorite one is “Pay the farmer.  Or pay the pharmacist.” Because sometimes it seems like I might be spending more money on “healthy” food.  But the cost of a cup of coffee and a donut really isn’t less than a hot bowl of oatmeal with some raisins and walnuts … at least in the long run.  Because I have my health … which is priceless!

I have some other mantras that I use … usually when I walk each day.  But they’re too private to reveal here 🙂

Suffice it to say: “If you don’t love yourself, who will?”  And “If you don’t take of your body, where will you live?!”




Day 5 – Sue: Epic fail!

Ok, here’s the truth about today.  It was an EPIC FAIL.  In terms on Mindful Eating.

But, you know what? I’ve learned over the past seven years (during which I’ve maintained my 52-pound weight loss) that life happens.  And failing doesn’t matter.  What matters is picking yourself up, learning from the situation and carrying on.  After all, life is a long time.  And I choose to spend each day TRYING to get better instead of giving up.

I’m participating in this challenge PRECISELY because I NEED mindful eating … so I can’t expect to get it all right the first time.  And I give myself permission to fail … as long as I keep trying!

Most of my success in weight loss and maintenance has been because I have learned WHAT to eat and, to a lesser extent, WHEN to eat to fuel my body and maintain a kind of homeostasis.

But it’s the WHY I sometimes want to eat when I’m not hungry and the HOW (like under want circumstances and the LACK of mindfulness … ) that I’m hoping to gain in this challenge.

I have printed out the Four S’s of Mindful Eating and I am going to carry them with me in a journal that I use.  That way, even though today was an epic fail in applying them TODAY, I will carry the thoughts forward with me and use them to guide my future actions and behaviors.

The good news is that the day was NOT an epic fail in terms of what I ate.  It’s just that I didn’t apply mindfulness to my eating.  Which is what I am committed to.

And I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this challenge. Because I am learning … even if each day isn’t a complete success.




Day 4 Sue Stopping Yourself

I’m back after a one-day “pause” … I needed time to reflect on this.
When I stopped eating sugar seven years ago, a few things happened.
One is that, after about three months, I never “craved” food again. Really. Truly. I haven’t “craved” anything in seven years!
Now, sometimes I “want” to eat for some other reason … Usually because I am tired or am avoiding doing something that I don”t want to do …
The other thing that happened when I gave up sugar is that I added in to my diet healthy, unprocessed foods — Lots of vegetables and fresh fruit. That means that I rarely have trouble stopping once I have made a good choice, because fresh fruits and vegetables are self-limiting. I don’t have to MAKE myself stop. They do it for me :-)!
I do have two techniques I use, however, to delay the “starting” of eating to determine how real the “want” is.
Tea is number one. I’m not a natural fan of tea but I have worked hard to find a few that I LOVE … Sans sugar. I like Egyptian Licorice Mint and Chrysanthemum. By the time I make the tea and enjoy it, I have time to check-in with myself about why I want to eat. Also, the warmth of the tea in my stomach comforts and fills me long enough to pause and make a good decision.
The other technique I use is almonds. I ALWAYS have a 100-calorie pack of almonds with me everywhere I go. The almonds are a great anti-dote for low blood sugar, which can be fueling the “want”. Eating the almonds is enjoyable and satisfying. They stabilize my blood sugar so that I can delay eating until I’m able to make a better decision or find healthy food choices.


Day 3 – Sue

Today’s challenge is near and dear to my heart … decision-making around food.

If you’ve been following my posts, you know that I lost 52 pounds in 52 weeks when I was 52.  That’s an accomplishment that I’m proud of.  But you know what?  The even LARGER accomplishment is that I’ve kept off every single pound for seven years!

I’m a member of the National Weight Control Registry (you can Google it for more information).  It is a research project of people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for more than a year.  They study is being done to help understand what contributes to successful weight loss maintenance.

One of the key findings is that most of us successful maintainers eat pretty much the same foods most of the time.  Why? Because when we discover what works for us, it is easier to remove some of the decision-making from the process.

For me, I eat approximately the same foods at approximately the same time for breakfast, a mid-morning snack and lunch (at least during the week).  It’s not a hard and rigid thing, but rather an act of simplicity and pleasure.  I know what I like and what fuels my body well. For dinner, there’s more variety because I find myself in a wider variety of situations … but even then I have a few “go to” foods and choices that I know will work for me.

Today was the third busy, stressful day in a row … putting me pretty much at my limit! I don’t like this much stress.  I facilitated a workshop this morning, which was a little stressful and required that I get up early and arrive at work early to prepare the room.  Luckily the meeting went extremely well, but it went longer than expected.  That meant that I could only get outside to walk for half an hour at lunch, and I couldn’t walk with my friends because they were done by the time I started.  I missed their friendship today.

When I got home from work, my husband offered to take me out to dinner … because he knows it’s been a difficult week for me!  We went to Chili’s.  They have a wonderful entree in their “2 for $20” special: Mango Chile Tilapia.  It’s one of their “light” dishes and I think it’s wonderful. It comes with broccoli and rice (but they let me substitute corn on the cob for rice because I find that an extra vegetable keeps me full better than the rice).  Yum yum!  This is an example of me having a few favorite foods that I know are good “go to ” choices for me.  That way, when I am stressed and tired like today, I don’t have to struggle with making a decision.  (After all, if I was good at making food decisions I wouldn’t have gained so much weight!) I already know a few choices that will please me and work for me.

So, I am now ready for bed.  I am proud of how I have handled this difficult week so far.  All of the big meetings are out of the way, and I’ve stayed the course nutritionally speaking.  Looking forward to a more peaceful day tomorrow.



Day 2 – Sue

Well, so much for hoping today would be less stressful and busy!

My life really isn’t usually this busy … it’s just that a lot of projects at work are getting busy all at once (probably because our year-end performance reviews are coming up and people are scurrying around trying to meet their goals … including me!)

I had to get up early so that I could be ready to lead a meeting with IT people in France, Singapore and China.  I didn’t sleep well because I was worried about having to wake up early so that I’d be at work early, so I was tired on top of stressed this morning.  But I ate my standard breakfast and the meeting went well.

But because I had to get up early, I got hungry between breakfast and lunch.  Luckily, a friend had brought a new kind of tea into work and gave me a bag to try.  I used my new “slow down” skills to thoroughly savor the tea.  It was Chrysanthemum tea that she had purchased at an Asian market.  It was WONDERFUL! I enjoyed every sip.

I was able to go outside for a walk at lunch, which has been part of my daily routine since losing 52 pounds seven years ago.  I enjoy how the walk breaks up the day, and then I eat at my desk when I return. I usually pack my own lunch (a large salad with some kind of lean protein like tuna, salmon or chicken).  I find that I have better portion control when I pack my own lunch.  When the bowl is empty, lunch is over! I enjoyed the time at lunch, because I was texting with my daughter at college.  She was creating her first website, and it was fun to be in communication with her.

When I got home for dinner, I was VERY tired … so I took a quick nap.  My husband and I are recent empty nesters, so there is less urgency around when dinner is prepared.  I usually get home a little bit before him and start dinner, but tonight I knew the best thing to do was to take a little nap.  I knew that if I didn’t, I would just snack my way around the kitchen, confusing fatigue with hunger!

After my nap, I realized that I really WAS hungry and it would be about an hour before we would be ready to eat.  So I prepared a snack of two rice cakes with half an avocado and a little sprinkle of sea salt. It’s one of my favorite snacks.

When he came home, we enjoyed preparing dinner together.  And then we ate. I ate slowly and deliberately, savoring each bite.  The snack had taken the edge off my hunger, so I was able to slow down and enjoy each bite.

I’m having fun with this challenge.  Even though it’s been such a busy week, I’m enjoying a least TRYING to slow down. Tomorrow I have one more stressful meeting to be prepared for, and then the rest of the week should slow down to a normal pace.

Ta ta for now!


Day 1 – Sue

I am an IT Project Leader … and today was just one of THOSE days! I had to lead two large meetings so I was literally racing through the day from breakfast through late afternoon. No chance to apply pacing at breakfast or lunch. But I knew this in advance. No surprise here.

I was in a better position at dinner time to slow down and set my pace. I was watching the evening news with my husband as we ate. Seeing the stories of people affected by the typhoon tragedy in the Philipines made it easy to slow down and appreciate each bite … to be thankful for what I have and to savor each bite.

Tomorrow will be a less hectic day at work, so I’m looking forward to a slower pace for the day … and for each meal 🙂

WIsh me luck!


Eat.Q. Blogger: Meet Sue!

I lost 52 pounds in 52 weeks by conquering my sugar addiction. I’ve kept off every pound for seven years.

1 Food I Couldn’t Live Without: Do “vegetables” count as one? I rely on vegetables as my go-to food, when I want to feel full or just eat a lot.

1 Food I Hate (and why): Sugar, because of how it controlled my life for so long!

One Goal for the EatQ Challenge: To approach eating from a “softer,” simpler way with some new tools to help keep me fresh and on my toes in maintaining my weight loss.