Jill Escher struggled with what she calls “perma-chub” most of her adult life…that is, until she gave up sugar and finally found sweet success in losing weight.
[Editor’s note: The essay below, by Jill Escher, is part of a series of personal blogs from our readers. Have your own story to tell? Email your idea to email@example.com.]
It’s hard to believe I spent more than forty years completely oblivious to my raging and debilitating drug addiction. No, not cocaine or heroin, but another potent white crystalline extract…sugar.
Yes, sugar. For four decades, that thing we think of as a fairly benign indulgence had me in its grip. I considered my relentless cravings an ordinary part of human existence, and my lumpish physique just under the bell curve of normal.
It should have been easy to spot. I was exhausted and fuzzy-headed, with bags under my eyes that no makeup could cover. Every day I faced intense and undeniable urges for sweets in order to feed my fix. I’d wake up craving chocolate and would reach for the candy jar around 3 p.m. After dinner I’d succumb to “just a little” ice cream. After each fix, my heart would race, my body would submit to subtle shakes, then my energy would plummet, starting the cycle over bringing another craving for sweets. I had insomnia, numbness in my hands, blotchy skin, receding gums, and in my adult years, I had packed 30 pounds onto my five-foot frame.
When I was at my heaviest weight, 156 pounds, I was stunned to run into an old friend who had lost 70 pounds. Shrugging her (now) well-defined shoulders, she said, “It was easy–the key was giving up sugar and flour.”
Inspired by my friend’s transformation, I attended a local Overeaters Anonymous meeting. The guest speaker discussed his own 150-pound weight loss and uttered the exact words I needed to hear: “I didn’t diet. Instead, I found recovery from my disease.”
After a lifetime feeling stuck in what I called “Club Perma-Chub,” my extra weight melted off within a few months of saying, “Hi, my name is Jill, and I’m a sugar addict.” In all, I lost 34 pounds dropping from a size 12 to a size 6. I felt great, with steady energy and glowing skin.
And the secret is–it wasn’t even hard work! Okay, okay, like any drug addict, I did endure a temporary period of withdrawal with cravings, exhaustion, and distractedness. But, after about three days, my addiction’s head-clouding screams softened into faint whispers. On Halloween, three weeks after I gave up sugar, I was not the least bit tempted to eat my kids’ candy bars–imagine my surprise!
Once I accepted that I had become powerless to the white stuff, I began living a life of abstinence from sugar and its close cousin, starch. Instead, I began eating a nutrient-dense diet: brussels sprouts and eggs for breakfast, chopped salad with chicken for lunch, tangerines and nuts for a snack and grass-fed beef with sauteed kale for dinner. I ate fruit in moderation and used sugar substitutes for a few weeks as my “methadone” to nurse myself through cravings. Now, on occasion, I’ll add a pinch of Stevia (natural sweetener) to lemon water or honey in plain yogurt.
The moment we define ourselves as sugar addicts, we no longer think “everything in moderation,” but instead, “that’s poison to my body.” Accepting the reality enables us to put a mental force field around those foods so dangerous to our delicate, over-fifty metabolisms. Who says there’s no magic bullet for weight loss?
Jill Escher is the author of Farewell, Club Perma-Chub: A Sugar Addict’s Guide to Easy Weight Loss, and founder of www.EndSugarAddiction.com. A businesswoman, autism philanthropist, and former lawyer, she lives with her husband and three children in Silicon Valley. Book proceeds are donated to autism charities.