Giving Up Sugar

I’ve almost always been thin (well, with the exception of those post-college depression days where I drank and ate excessively all the time). Both my parents are thin; my brothers too. And I’ve almost always (well, again, with the exception of teen, college, and early 20’s where I’d hit up McDonald’s & KFC everyday) eaten well. And after college, when I moved to Seattle to study acting, I got back into running and walking. (So I guess I’ve almost always been fit too.) And then in New York, back in 2001, I got into yoga and never  looked back.

Image from Science Media Centre

But it wasn’t until about 2 years ago that I got really fit and that my body started to truly change. For the past 3 years I’ve been doing yoga sculpt (that’s how I met Kerri & Rebecca!). Using weights, 4-5 times a week, in sculpt class has made a big difference. I’m really strong and lean. But that’s not when my body really changed. Outside of puberty, the biggest change I’ve ever had with my body’s form and shape, is 2 years ago, when, following Sheila’s example, I gave up sugar. Wow. Within 3 months of giving up sugar, no sweets, cookies, brownies, cakes, or carob covered raisins, my body revealed itself, all that exercise became apparent. I didn’t lose any weight but I was so much leaner looking. I needed smaller sized jeans. And I felt better. No more serious bloat. I think I was just swollen all these years from the inflammation sugar causes. Sheila saw me the first week of giving up sugar and then again 3 months later and both she and her husband were shocked at the change… for the better. So knowing what I know about sugar, why did it take me so long to kick the habit? I love sweets. I’m southern, and I’m a helluva baker. I can make Hummingbird cakes, Red Velvet cakes, Lady Baltimore cakes, the best brownies you’ll ever have (1 lb. of butter, sugar & lots of dark chocolate, cocoa, 6 eggs, why wouldn’t they be the best?), chocolate chip cookies, Christmas cookies to die for, pecan bars, and more, so much more. I love sweets more than I love wine (well, almost). And I’ve always been thin. I was even getting thinner! So why quit sugar, I thought. Well, I started reading things, by people I respect, about how sugar causes inflammation. Inflammation is what makes us look bigger and older. Enough said, I didn’t want to be aged by what I consumed. I wanted food to make me thrive and feel alive.

Then I read this article last year in the New York Times about how toxic sugar is for the body and mind that underscored everything I felt. And the great, dirty, little secret about giving up sugar is that you really don’t crave it once you stop eating it daily. It takes a few weeks but you don’t have a taste for it after that. And, because I’m not a sugar addict (lover, yes, but not an addict), I can still have dark chocolate (77-90% cocoa) occasionally. (Sheila finds that she has such a strong addiction to sugar that she can’t have just a little so she stays away from it entirely.) I still indulge over Christmas (I’m baking cookies, people, for dozens of family members how could I not sneak some?!) but overall I don’t do sugar. And my body has changed. I feel amazing (most of the time) in my skin.

Our fitness contributor Kerri Gedert

The other thing that, very recently, has made me look and feel better, are these exercises that Kerri and Rebecca have devised for Happiness Series. They don’t take a lot of time to do – I do them daily now – and they really, really work. My abs are starting to get that look, like Kerri’s, that long, lean and sexy look. I’m not there yet but I will be by summer.

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About the Author: Tania Van Pelt is the creator of Happiness Series. After working in film, she realized that creating content for an online world that moves and inspires people is where it's at. She loves the immediacy and the vibrancy of working online. Tania created Happiness Series because she wants to empower people to live healthier, longer, more joyful lives through fitness, nutrition, stress management and integrative wellness. After years of research and practical application, she is excited about the newest project, Ageless Diet™. Ageless Diet is a lifestyle that promotes an Ageless You. Because getting older doesn't have to mean aging, and losing weight doesn't have to be hard. Happiness Series and Ageless Diet are going in new directions, bringing people together in beautiful settings with retreats and conferences. Books and a cooking series are soon to follow. Tania also recently completed her sitcom web/TV series pilot Employees Only, at http://employeesonly.tv.

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