• Sandy Reynolds

Sugar blues in January

Our Background:

Like many people, the pandemic hasn't been kind to my waistline. I'm home a lot and snacking more. We are in the depths of winter and have been in lockdown for five weeks here in Ontario, Canada. I've got nothing but time and carbs most days.

Over the years I have tried ALL the diets. My sister has had a similar experience. And although we have been successful in losing weight, we have also never been successful in maintaining our desired weight for very long. I am currently about 15 lbs heavier than I would like to be.


We are both mature women (62 & 55) years old. Neither of us feel motivated by vanity. I used to care what other people thought about me. I don't give a shit anymore. Without that motivator, it has been harder to find motivation. Neither of us is grossly overweight. We are just carrying 15-20 pounds more than we would like. I would guess our reason is that we want to feel good in our clothes AND health. I want to feel like I'm taking care of my body.

So we started talking about a year of focusing on our health. Actually we talked about how sick we are of feeling uncomfortable in our clothes and then we started talking about our health. We both felt a resistance to jumping on a diet bandwagon again. We are both sick of hearing about Keto. We don't want to be ON something. We want a lifestyle that works for us, not deprivation for several months, only to boomerang back to where we started.

We decided each month to try something different and experiment with how we felt. We chose to eliminate refined sugar from our diets for January and see what the results were. For both of us, we want to make sure that what we do is sustainable. I'm not interested in losing weight and regaining it in six months. I don't want to commit to something knowing I won't stick with it long term.

The only measurement we used this month was weight.

Sandy's experience: At the end of the month, I lost 3 pounds, and my sister lost 1 pound. I don't think those numbers are significant. I would have lost 3 pounds this month without eliminating sugar. Knowing I would be restricting sugar from my diet led me to an all-out, no holds barred, sugar eating frenzy in December. I ate Hagen-Daz chocolate peanut butter ice cream almost nightly. I had cinnamon buns (4) the week of Christmas. I ate chocolates like they were carrot sticks. My weight was inflated when I weighed myself at the end of December.

Here's what I learned: I stopped drinking alcohol in October. It's been almost four months since I had a glass of wine. (I'm not sure it is permanent; I'm just taking it weekly, and I'll write a blog post on it soon.) However, it is common when you eliminate alcohol to crave sugar. And so, the last few months of the year, I was eating a lot more sugar than usual. Focusing on sugar was probably a good thing for me. I was starting to develop a habit that I needed to get under control.

Sandy's experience:

I did cheat a few times. Sometimes without even thinking about it, and once I just ignored my commitment to not eating sugar and went for it. I found a left over Kinder egg in the cupboard and ate it. I don't even like Kinder eggs. The close I got to the end of the month the harder it was. I knew the experiment was coming to an end, so I just went for it on Sunday and had a morning glory muffin.

I also ate a lot of potato chips. Whenever I felt like a snack I grabbed something salty. I'm sure my calorie count wasn't any lower for the month.

I don't do well with deprivation. I am a rebel at heart. As soon as I'm told I can't do something I'm triggered. I also had a shopping ban going on in January. So not only was I not eating, I was spending money on anything. What was I thinking? This month has been hard emotionally. Not allowing myself any little treats along the way to ease our conditions' harshness might have been too much. (I'll be buying myself fresh tulips and a treat this week!)

I cheated on shopping as well but under the guise of 'office supplies.' I ordered a few things for my work, legit business expenses.

I think I did better with the shopping ban than I did with the sugar ban. I actually created a clothing inventory in Notion, and I've been putting in all the clothes I own. I love clothes, and I find it easy on a bad day to succumb to the urge to get something new to wear. And I'm wondering if tracking anything in our lives helps moderate. (Note to Kath - let's track what we eat one month!)

The bottom line for me is I am not willing to go without sugar for the rest of my life. I think I'll be more successful over all trying to moderate my sugar consumption. I am eating more fruit and I think I've broken the ice cream habit.

Kath's experience:

January 1st: "Happy New Year! F*ck Covid! I have gained about 18 pounds during this pandemic. The more I shove in my mouth the better I feel. My sister and I aren't eating sugar this month. I knew this was coming, so I made sure to eat as much as possible to the point of almost being sick.

I should note that I range from a size 8 to a size 12. Whose kidding who? A size 14 would feel amazing right now. I was a size 6 once but only for a few hours. I would be happy feeling comfortable in a size 10. Well..January 1st and I feel motivated."

January 9th: "I slept like shit. I thought giving up sugar was supposed to make you feel better."

January 10th: "Ate a bag of chips. I am carb crazy right now. I hate this no sugar way of life."

January 18th: "Another bag of chips. And I found a Lindt chocolate and ate it."

January 12th: "Feeling like a hot fudge Sunday from McDonalds. But I won't have one. Opted instead for a rum and coke. Clearly I have not motivation."

January 23rd: "Don't feel any thinner. This is not working. I am tired of this and Covid."

January 27th: The end is in sight. I can't do the no sugar thing. I won't be writing any books about my great happy life without sugar.


So for February, we've decided not to focus on eliminating anything. We are tackling intermittent fasting. We start with 14.5 hours per day (we won't eat between 7 pm and 9:30 am the following day). I'll let you know how it goes for us.

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