What if I told you that you could lose weight and improve over a dozen aspects of your health by making ONE change this year??  AND, it won’t cost you a thing, not a cent more than you normally spend, and quite possibly, you’ll spend LESS?  I’ve debated for a long time whether to put this tip here, because normally I don’t try to dispense health advice.  I SEW.  It’s what I do.  However, this one thing has made such a drastic change in my own life for the better, in only a few months.  Perhaps others need to hear it, if only to help them make that first step toward improving their own health to start off this new year.  It took a call from my own doctor in early July to tell me that my blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol (lipids) were all too high to ignore any longer, and that I needed to start cholesterol lowering meds right away.  I only knew of one of the three things that I might could change on my own, without meds, and right there resolved to DO IT, not expecting it to have any other benefits, BUT, oh wow, did it ever have BENEFITS!!

 

What are the benefits of this one change?  Well, in less than three days, my blood pressure was normal after being high and getting higher for several years. 

After less than a week, my blood sugar went back to normal, after also having been getting higher and higher for several years. I also noticed at this point, coincidentally, that my tongue was no longer coated white when I first woke up in the mornings, it was pink and healthy.

Within two weeks, I noticed that I was going to sleep more easily and no longer needed any meds for pain by bedtime. The arthritis in my hands seemed to have just stopped hurting, as it had everywhere else.

Within about a month, I noticed that my under-eye areas were no longer dark or needed concealing makeup, and my skin was clearer and more even-toned overall.  I even stopped wearing foundation, for the first time, in, like….EVER.

Within two months, I discovered that my skin no longer bruised or turned blue even after a bad fall onto concrete that hurt my face, arms and ribs for days (except for one eye area where my eyeglasses had torn the skin when my face hit the ground, now THAT was a black eye!) 

While at the doctor for the bodily damage from the fall onto the concrete, they drew blood for testing my high cholesterol again, and I soon found out that I no longer HAD high cholesterol.  Not only had it gone from being high down to normal, but it was BEYOND merely normal, every score was at OPTIMAL for good heath!  Yippeeee!

Within 2 ½ months, I noticed that my fingernails no longer broke off or even cracked at the edges, they had to be not just trimmed but CUT more often as they were growing so fast, plus were now pink and healthy looking, and so STRONG. 

It was also around this time that I noticed my energy was amazingly increased, I’d go outside to do yard work, organize the storage building, etc…, and my husband would have to practically DRAG me back inside at the end of the day as I was still going strong and feeling energetic.

During all this new-found energy, I started assembling some woodshop equipment from our old woodcrafting days and realized that now I could follow the directions easily, my focus and memory were very much improved.  For several years since the chemo, I’d felt as if my mental abilities were significantly less than before.  I took advantage of this period of clearer thinking by rebuilding my old computer and putting it in a new case successfully, something I’d put off.  Easy-peasie.

Within 3 months, the cancer antigen test results that had been steadily rising for several years, only receding briefly when I’d started eating lots of sprouts, but going back up when I’d slacked off…..had dropped 10 points (a drop of a whole 1/3 of the previous score!).

Around the 4th month, someone mentioned having ‘dry eye’, a condition where your eyes no longer have the oily tears they are supposed to, so sometimes your eyes overproduce watery tears to try to lubricate themselves.  It was only THEN that I realized my formerly constantly irritated outer corner of one eye had not been leaking & washing away my mascara because of my own ‘dry eye’ syndrome.  Wow, when had THAT been gone?

At almost 5 months, I went to my primary care doctor for a checkup, he reviewed my improvements, pronounced me the healthiest he’d ever seen me, and told me he saw no reason to see me again every 3 months as usual, we’d go at least 6 months this time.  (He said that if everyone made the one lifestyle change I’d made, they’d not need him either.)

At around this time, I noticed that my eyebrows had finally filled in totally, all these years after chemo made them fall out and left them skimpy…and my hair was now much thicker and somewhat more youthful looking.  No longer did I have to fill in bits of my eyebrows, nice!

While renewing my driver’s license, and being asked if I still had the restriction of wearing eyeglasses to drive or had had any surgeries to correct my vision lately, I hesitated…although I’ve worn strong eyeglasses for both distance and reading for years, lately I’d noticed that I’d often get up and read the newspaper, get dressed, and forget to put my eyeglasses on, sometimes for a couple of hours, and would occasionally take OFF my glasses to read more easily.  Well, they tested my vision, and said, “YOU NO LONGER NEED YOUR GLASSES TO DRIVE!”  Talk about shocked, I’d had that restriction since I was old enough to begin driving, this was a FIRST!  After stepping outside and looking around, I realized that I could now see signs a block down the street, where it used to be that without my glasses I’d barely been able to see the hood of the car clearly, lol…

At approximately the 5th full month, after finally fully realizing that I’d lost approximately 20 pounds even though I’d not been exercising, it occurred to me that my jeans no longer fit even though I’d taken them up several times.  I had been wearing 18W jeans for several years since chemo gave me the ‘big fat belly’.  So, like any red-blooded woman, I headed straight to Walmart to try on a pair of size 16 jeans, and they fit…well…almost, they had droopy legs and really needed a belt, so…oh joy..JOY…JOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I tried on a pair of size 14’s, and THEY FIT PERFECTLY!  I'd completely SKIPPED a pants size!  Yes, I bought them.  :^)  Immediately after coming home, I tried on everything in my closet and found that now over 30 items were actually way too big, and things that couldn’t close in front before, now closed just fine!  I had a real waistline again!

At about 5 ½ months, one of the very best things happened…and ladies, those of you who have been through menopause will nod your heads when I say it’s the BEST thing… I noticed that instead of removing chin hair twice a day, I could now go for 3 days without it being noticeable.  :^)  Yes, it’s our big secret, some of us grow chin hairs so fast after 50 that we make our closest friend promise us that if we’re ever in a coma, they’ll have to come pluck or shave us two times a day, minimum.  We are so serious about not letting anyone see what menopause does to us that, yes, we’re more concerned about that than about some life-threatening conditions.  If you’re not one of ‘us’, then don’t judge until you go through it.  BUT, for it to STOP happening, gives us our freedom back, so it’s IMPORTANT to mention about about this, especially.  :^)

 

After all that, and I’m only telling it all that way so that you’ll have some things to watch for if you choose to make this change yourself, because I didn’t expect ANY of it and it happened so slowly that sometimes it was only by accident that the improvement was discovered.  And, before I go further, I want to tell you that it’s not a total miracle.  I still have hot flashes a lot…. Other than that, my total health is so much better than 6 months ago that if you looked at me and my health then, and again now, you’d probably not recognize me.  Sometimes, I don’t recognize myself now that I look honestly at myself.  Having never before been vain, and usually avoiding mirrors because I always considered myself rather ugly anyway, I now stand in front of the mirror sideways and wonder where that big ‘pregnant looking belly’ went.  Even though I still have some ‘rolls’, I now have a waistline.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think that’d happen.

 

So, what’s the change you have to make for all this to happen?  STOP….EATING….SUGAR.  That’s it.  That’s all. Just avoid one processed substance on the face of the earth that is so toxic to us that it affects every aspect of our health.  Yes, I know you like it, I did, too.  Yes, I know it’s hard, because EVERYTHING has sugar in it, but you can do it.  The moment your skin improves so much you no longer have to use makeup (especially if you're 56 like me, and never was able to go without makeup before!), the week when you realize that all ten of your fingernails look great at the same time and that's never happened before, the day you put on your really skinny jeans again and they zip, or the day you get your medical test results and see a huge improvement, not only are all of those things are worth it, but each one of them individually is worth it. 

 

If you’d told me six months ago that even a fraction of these things would have changed, I’d not have believed it.  Still have trouble believing it.  I’ve told people about it when they’ve noticed changes in me themselves, and although most of my friends want to improve something or other or lose weight, hardly any of them are willing to give up sugar for it. Well, actually a nurse at my doctor’s office did tell me that it was enough to make HER stop using sugar and she was starting that day!

 

Before you say how deprived I must be, not eating anything with sugar, and how tired from probably constant exercise...let me assure you that I’m not.  I’ve not been able to start exercising yet, first because of pain after that fall onto the concrete sidewalk edge, then because of a student nurse accidentally giving me a flu shot directly through a tendon or something, took months to heal, so I’m not exercising yet.  I also eat really good stuff, and I’m not counting calories or fat. 

In fact, I’m eating more fats than most of you can conceive of, drinking whole organic milk, real butter, real cheddar cheese, real eggs and even occasionally bacon, etc…  I don’t eat ANY sugar substitutes or use honey or agave nectar, and totally avoid anything low-fat.  After several months of this, I've paid attention to more recent studies being reported that sugar is indeed a toxin to us, and that eating some fats is good for us, that low-fat hasn’t helped anyone really and that our brains NEED most of the fats we eat so that they can fight against mental decline.  Some even say that memory problems, Altzheimers and senile dementia may be related to low-fat eating, but who knows.

 

On a typical day, I start out with a bowl of oatmeal with a tablespoon of raw, unprocessed coconut oil in it, along with about a teaspoon of cinnamon, from the big cheap bulk bottle of cinnamon from Sam’s Club, because it helps even out blood sugar spikes, and I put whole milk over it.  I don’t drink any fruit juices, because they spike blood sugar, and that’s what I want to avoid.  Eating most fruits is fine, (except for apples which seems to be almost the same as eating sugar) as long as you’re getting the fiber in the fruit, but juices alone are out.

Many things you’d think are good for you, aren’t.   In fact, I use a glucometer and test my blood sugar often, to make sure no sneaky sugar-spiking foods are in my diet. If you want to do the same, you can get (without any prescription) a glucometer for about $16 at Walmart, and 50 test strips for about $10 to $15, look at the different brands and get a meter with cheap test strips.  Rather than buy some unproven diet pills that aren't going to work anyway, do yourself a favor and invest in a glucometer, best money you’ll ever spend, as it’ll speed you up on learning what foods specifically you might want to avoid.

 That was the secret to my success at this, because so many foods can spike your blood sugar that it’s better to check your own readings a couple times after each food you’re not sure is safe for you.  If you do it before eating, then compare a reading perhaps an hour after, and again two hours after, you’ll see how much it spikes.  Oatmeal doesn’t do it much, but if you put sugar or honey or whatever on it, it will, so your goal is to eat simple, unprocessed and natural foods.  Sometimes instead of oatmeal, I’ll have a boiled egg and a few cubes of cheddar cheese, or a bowl of Cheerios or Post Spoon Size Shredded Wheat (which I’ve grown to love with milk and a spoon of Kroger all natural (no sugar added) peanut butter. 

For a snack, I’ll have a cup of milk or some cubes of cheddar, or some walnuts or almonds, or some Triscuit Original whole grain crackers (not the flavored kinds).  If I’m really wanting something sweet and decadent, I keep banana chunks frozen at all times so I can toss one in my ‘Bullet Blender’ along with a cup of milk, sometimes with a little vanilla flavoring, and in just a few seconds it gives me a big bowl of ‘ice cream’, looks and tastes like soft-serve and fluffs up into a large amount.  With a few walnuts over the top for crunch, yummy! 

 

For meals, broiled chicken is great, so I keep some frozen broiled chicken breasts ready to toss in the microwave and reheat.  After one is hot, I like to cut it up and pour some Extra-Virgin Olive Oil over it, sometimes putting a little hot sauce in it, too.  EVOO is really good for your health, but not if it’s been heated, so I pour a little over my food almost every day.  Any veggie is fair game for me, my favorite is anything green, and for dessert, I often bake a sweet potato in the microwave and add butter, a little salt, and cinnamon, heaven on a plate!  (When my blood sugar is high, if I eat a sweet potato with butter and cinnamon, it comes right down and usually by morning, I’ve lost a pound that hadn’t wanted to come off.)

 

Added to the things you probably think I shouldn’t eat, lol..I also eat sour cream on things, and drink whole milk in my coffee instead of creamer.  No clue why, but as long as I have all the yummy and very filling high fat foods, I don’t miss sugar one bit.  Whenever a secretly sugar laden food sneaks into my diet, I know it, because it makes me feel ‘off’ and irritable, and disrupts my sleep that night, so that’s also a big reason to avoid anything like that.  Just to know that the high fat foods are not only helping me stay healthy and lose weight, but my HDL and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides are finally at healthy levels, make it way easier for me to avoid sugar.

 

Eating out is the hardest part, if you have family members who want to stop for fast food. So far, I’ve found that Arby’s French Dip Sandwich doesn’t make my blood sugar spike, nor does Wendy’s Chili.  Normally, I don’t eat anything with white flour but on those days, I do eat the bread on the sandwich and a few crackers with the chili sometimes.  I can eat a few French fries, just no ketchup which has more sugar in a tablespoon of it than you should have in a whole day.  It helps to take along some cheese cubes and Triscuits so you won’t be tempted to eat something not so good for you.

 

Some tips to help you get started, it helps to keep the following in the fridge at all times:  Some peeled boiled eggs in a jar to combat hunger between meals, and some pre-cubed cheese, and some bell pepper strips, along with some Philadelphia cream cheese (some brands have bad stuff in it, but philly seems alright).  On the counter, keep some Triscuit Original crackers, some Cheerios, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc..

 

Daisy sour cream is all right to eat, by the way, but most other brands have something or other in them that’s not, so you have to watch everything and read ingredients until you know what brand has sugar and what doesn’t.  Hot dogs in the Sam’s club snack bar must have sugar, as I’ve eaten them cut up with no bread or sauces, and STILL my blood sugar was very high hours later.  Who’d have guessed?

 

There’s books on eating sugar- free at the library, but if you get one that pushes sugar substitutes, avoid it.  I ate Splenda for awhile a few years back before I had blood sugar problems, because my husband’s doctor suggested it for him.  Within a few days, my legs were jerking and extremely uncomfortable, and the doctor said I had become a diabetic with blood sugar around 400 and had diabetic neuropathy.  He prescribed various meds to reduce the blood sugar but nothing worked.  I was very frightened, because it came on me so suddenly! 

After reading on the internet for hours, I found only ONE MAN who mentioned that it could be Splenda.  I stopped eating the Splenda and within two days, my blood sugar was normal and the jerking legs stopped.  Splenda may be safe, but I’ve read that it’s the method to produce it that’s not safe and leaves substances that cause some of us problems.  Personally, I’d not use Splenda or Nutrasweet or any other substitute for any thing, so I do not in any way suggest any of you switch to sugar substitutes.  If you keep up your addiction to sweet tasting things, it’ll only make it harder for you to stay off real sugar, too.  By eating un-processed natural fruits and vegetables and lean meats, you’ll start to appreciate their flavors as your sugar-killed taste buds revive.

 

In fact, within a week of not using sugar, you’ve already mostly begun to break the addiction to it, and within a month, natural foods taste way sweeter than you could imagine.  A banana will taste like candy to you, and some fruits taste so sweet you’ll hardly want to eat them as they taste too sweet.  After about six months of doing without sugar, I really don’t crave it at all and can walk away from it.  At one time, if there were a pan of rice crispy treats on our counter, they’d be gone overnight, no matter how many there were.  Recently, my husband bought a package of them, and I never opened a single one, even after they were here for weeks.

 

The real trick is to get your friends to stop wanting you to ‘have just this one cookie, after all, one can’t hurt you’, because…well…YES IT CAN!  Ask an alcoholic if they can have one drink and not go back to drinking, or someone who has used drugs if they can just have some occasionally.  Our bodies are not made that way.   If you have a belly, chances are, sugar affects you negatively.  After losing so much of my belly, I thought I could have a little dark chocolate for my birthday this week.  I ate perhaps 4 small squares of it, and I ate a very tiny square of cake when we ate out.  By today, I had gained a couple of pounds.  That little bit of sugar didn’t make the weight gain, it made the blood sugar spike that caused the hormone in my body that made everything ELSE I ATE go to the weight gain. 

 

Knowing what I know now, I’ll take it off in a few days, but it takes longer to take off than to put on, so I’ll not plan on having anything else again with any sugar in it, probably until my NEXT birthday when, hopefully, I’ll have lost enough weight to not worry about gaining a small amount.  To tell the truth, the candy and cake didn’t taste nearly as good as I thought they would, it was just my birthday and in my MIND, I wanted something.  Looking back, I’d have been happier if I’d not eaten either, especially since my sleep has been disrupted also.

 

Just remember, do this only if your health permits you to make any changes.  I doubt your doctor would advise many of you to keep eating sugar, BUT in case you have some unusual health issue where you need to eat it, check with your doctor first before making any changes, as always.  You don’t want to have blood sugar that’s TOO low, so eating small regular meals and snacks seems to be what’s helped me stay stable.

 

Is there anything that could convince me to go back to eating sugar?  Let’s see, do I want to see that big belly come back and move back up two jeans sizes?  Um..no…nor do I want to see my arms and legs with bruises from every bump into something, nor do I want to see the dark circles under my eyes again, or have to slather on makeup to go anywhere because my skin looks bad.  I certainly don’t want to go back to wondering how high my cancer antigen tests will be at the next oncologist’s visit, because I’m pretty sure that they’ll continue to drop as inflammation caused by the sugar continues to drop.

 

Though my fingers are still stiff in the mornings from years of damage from arthritis, they no longer hurt, and I know the drop in inflammation has helped that tremendously.  My only wish is that I’d done this years ago.  Yes, I’d heard that sugar was bad for you, but like many others, I thought that since I didn’t eat MUCH of it, I was safe enough.  Who knew back then that ANY sugar can be bad for you? 

Perhaps people were saying it, but it wasn’t sinking in with me for anything other than to lose weight.  I’d even been on a low-sugar diet years ago, and had lost weight.  My husband had stopped drinking colas and lost over 50 pounds in one year with no other change than that.  Now he drinks water, as do I, and we carry bottles of cold water with us everywhere in the car, so we’re not so tempted by sodas for fruit juice or sweetened tea.

 

After saying all this, I’m sure most will ignore it, but there will be a few people who MIGHT want to try it, though in my experience, until you’ve lived it, most won’t believe this stuff is really possible.  I didn’t believe it until it happened to me and couldn’t be explained in any other way.  If any of you are going to try giving up sugar to see what will happen, I’d love to hear from you and also hear how much you accomplish and if any of it happens close to my own time line.  If one person can relieve even a few of their health issues, or even one person can lower their chances of getting cancer again, this long afternoon of typing will have been worth it.  I know that for me, not having to take meds anymore is well worth it…but, I’m almost ashamed to admit it, I’d have done it to get back into the smaller jeans again, too, lol… Size 14’s may seem very large to some of you who have smaller body types, but I’m almost 6 ft. tall, so on me, they’re not all that large.  The size 18’s looked HUGE to me, though, and I don’t want to go back.  In fact, I’m loving being able to try on size Medium tops now instead of always looking for the 2x ones to accommodate the huge belly!

 

Also, please don’t send me advice to further my weight loss by eating ‘low fat’ and telling me how bad my diet is for me.  Keep in mind that until I started eating like this, I ate that way and my cholesterol was awful, and now it’s fine.  I have a great many friends and acquaintances who continue to tell me how to best lose weight, and so far, I don’t see them losing OR keeping off any weight.  Though I appreciate the good sentiments, I’m not going back to that way of eating.  Ever. 

I understand where they’re coming from, as I too was brainwashed by all the media (particularly advertisers of low-fat foods) has pushed on us about eating low fat.  If you think back, those of you who are of my age or greater, before tv dinners and heavily processed foods came along with so much sugar put in to help preserve things, you’d hardly see one overweight person among a large roomful.  Everyone ate regular butter and cheese and drank whole milk back then, but didn't seem to have any ill effects from it.  My grandmother lived into her late 90's and she even ate bacon grease on her biscuits every morning.  Everyone in her family ate high fat, and all lived to ripe old ages.  In fact, most are still alive and going strong. 

 

After we started eating frozen dinners with lots of preservatives back in the 60's especially, and living on fast foods that have so much sugar and preservatives that we never would dream are in them, we became a nation of people who are mostly overweight and there are very few of a healthy weight.  When the medical community decided our diet of high fat foods was the culprit, we were all brain-washed into believing their mantra of eating low-fat because it sounded reasonable, and we WANTED it to be true. 

Turns out, they were wrong, and even in the past few months I’ve seen study after study that disproved the old theories.  People who truly did eat healthy whole foods have tried to tell us this for years and did we listen?  Nope..because the mainstream media was telling us otherwise, in every advertisement.  Only when this point was proved to me in my own body, did I finally ‘get it’.  After all, I didn’t make this change to lose weight, I did it to get my blood sugar down.  Period.  All the many other good side effects were just happy extras, as far as I was concerned, at first.

 

Wishing every one of you a happy new year, and hoping that you find something that makes you feel as good as this has done for me.  Thanks for taking the time to read all this, and understanding that I’m not trying to ‘preach’ good eating habits at you, just am taking the chance that some of you may be ready to hear it at this time of yearly resolutions, and maybe some will benefit from hearing from another breast cancer survivor who also thought she’d never be able to make such a change in her health again.  Yes, you can, I did, and trust me, I’m the weakest person in the world when it comes to ‘dieting’, and I can’t do it.  However, not eating sugar?  Simple, elegantly simple, and easy to remember.  One day at a time, and it just gets easier and easier.  :^)