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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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May 06, 2011

I Am Tired of This Hamster Wheel

By Guest
109 Comments

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another dose of Primal Blueprint inspiration. Today, Michelle Ford, a PrimalCon 2011 attendee, shares a story that many of you can probably relate to – one of sugar dependence and Chronic Cardio. Ultimately, Michelle was able to break out of this vicious cycle. Learn from her real life story, and share your words of encouragement and gratitude in the comment board. Grok on!

If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as you send them in. Thanks for reading!

Dear Mark and Carrie,

First of all, I want to thank you both for an amazing weekend at PrimalCon. You both are amazing in your attitude towards life, and I really admire you. You both have your priorities straight, and have learned how to live a true quality life. That is what I want. I don’t want quantity….what our culture serves up constantly and daily….I want quality.

I came to PrimalCon because I wanted to sit at your feet and learn. I don’t have a before and after picture to show people. I have never been overweight, and from the outside looking in, I look healthy and I look like I have it all together. But from the inside looking out, I felt like I was living a lie. Everyone around me thought I was so amazingly healthy, but the truth is, I was like an alcoholic with sugar. The other day, my friend Dana said, “It use to be so cute how you could eat a whole cake because you’re so little. If a big person did that, it is just gross, but seeing you do it, it was so cute, because you are so little, and no one would expect it.” Well, I felt gross and horrible when I did things like that. But, I could not control myself with sugar.

So, my story: Three years ago I joined Weight Watchers to lose about 10 lbs. I had noticed my weight creeping up slowly after I hit 40, and I realized, if I didn’t watch what I ate, I was going to be 20 lbs overweight by the time I hit 50. I exercised like crazy, but to no avail. I was still gaining weight. Just a pound or two a year, but enough to notice.

I joined Weight Watchers, and lost 12 lbs counting my points. I started keeping a food journal, and weighed every morsel that went into my mouth. I was able to get back into size 2 clothes, and I really felt great. I was still exercising like crazy, biking, running, weight training. I felt really good, and I was in control. I kept my calories down to about 1200 to 1500 a day, and severely limited my fat intake. I ate egg whites, lots of veggies, fruits, lots of beans, lots of soy, very little meat except lean chicken, salmon, and turkey. I also ate low-fat yogurt, low-fat salad dressings, low-fat cheese, and I would allow myself a low-fat WW fudgy bar every day as a “treat.” All the low-fat stuff I ate was processed, contained high fructose corn syrup, and what have you. I remember, sometimes if I got hungry, I would eat a can of WW soup worth only 1 point, even if you ate the whole can. Gross. Still on the whole, I had a pretty healthy diet. I didn’t believe in eating a lot of processed foods, but if it kept me from eating fat, that is what I had to do.

In January 2009, I returned to work as a nurse after a three year hiatus. I had to go back to working night shift. By this point, I was no longer a youngster, and my 44 year old body revolted. For 11 months I worked two 12 hour night shifts a week. I would stay up all day, go to work, come home, sleep for 4 hours, go work out, and either get on with my day, or go back to work. I was exhausted, I craved sugar like an addict, and I was mean. I began to gain weight back….not a lot, but I noticed. I was not nearly as in control of my eating habits as I was before because I was so tired ALL THE TIME. I hated everyone. I hated everything. All I wanted was to make myself feel better, and the only thing that did that was sugar.

Of course, it was a vicious cycle, because I would binge on sugar and then I would hate myself. I would feel awful, inside and out. I thought I had an eating disorder. The glorious day finally came when I was put on day shift. I thought all my troubles were behind me. I thought I could finally return to normal, and be a normal person.

Truth is, it did get better. I felt better, I was a much nicer person, I liked people again. I liked life again. But I was still on this vicious sugar cycle. I truly was an addict. Of course I was now working out like crazy. I was riding my bike for miles, I was training for a marathon, I was swimming, I was weight lifting. I would run in the morning, go for a 4 hour bike ride, come home, shower, make dinner, than go take an hour Tai Kwon Do class with the family. I tried to run 25 to 35 miles a week even though I had an injured foot. I rode 120 to 150 miles a week. I weight trained 2 to 3 days a week. On my off day, I would swim a mile. And then I would do Tai Kwon Do twice a week, but that was not a “work out.” On my days that I worked, I would get up at 4:30 am, get to work by 6:30, work until 7:30 pm and than go work out. If I was too tired, I would swim.

After I ran the Big Sur marathon last April, I really screwed my foot up, and could not run at all. I started to bike like crazy. For my birthday, my husband bought me a brand new bike (her name is Ruby :)), and I rode her like crazy. I had an amazing group I rode with, most of them older than me and faster than me, and I just had the time of my life.

However, all was not well internally. I was still severely limiting my calories. I still kept a food journal. I still weighed every morsel that went into my mouth. Even when I rode my bike, I counted the calories I consumed while I was riding. I was so careful all the time. I was also starving all the time. I would be so hungry that there were days I would eat a bowl of cereal, then another, then another, until I had eaten 5 huge bowls of cereal. I would feel so sick, I would go lay down and sleep for an hour. I would make dinner, and couldn’t eat I was so sick. I stopped buying granola because I would eat the whole box in one sitting. I stopped buying anything that I would crave or binge on.

One day, I had an epiphany. A friend said, “You are lucky. You can eat whatever you want and not gain weight because you exercise so much.” I said, “No, it’s not true. I have to count calories. I eat only about 1200 to 1500 calories a day or I gain weight. I have to exercise like I do or I gain weight.” She looked at me and said, “Well, that sucks. You have created a horrible little cycle for yourself.” I thought with horror, “She’s right.” What is going to happen when I can’t work out like this anymore…when I am in my mid 50’s, my 60’s, my 70’s? I knew at some point my body would not be able to handle the intensity of my workouts.

I started to look for help. I found a book at work called the Carb Crave Solution, or something like that. I started following those guidelines, and I did feel better. But my sugar craving would not go away. I was exhausted all the time, pushing myself to ride 180 to 220 miles a week at break neck pace. I would beat myself up if I couldn’t keep up with the “fast” riders, and then beat myself up some more if I gave into my hunger.

Fast forward to November 2010. I am coming home from work.  I don’t feel like working out. I am dead dog tired. I am tired of this hamster wheel. I turn on Josh Axe, a local holistic chiropractor with a Sunday evening radio show. He is talking about Primal Blueprint, and Mark Sisson. “Hmmmm,” I think, “this sounds really interesting.” I go home, and I order Mark’s book. It is the week of Thanksgiving. We are leaving for Maryland in the morning, and I can’t bring my bike, and I still can’t run. I probably will have to rest all week. Of course I am having visions of blowing up like a balloon. I think about Mark’s book all week. I am wondering if this book will help me, or if I am forever going to live my life like this.
We arrive home on Sunday after Thanksgiving. The book arrives on Monday. I read it cover to cover in less than a week. I implement Mark’s recommendations. I get through December without eating one sugar treat at all. I am bombarded at the hospital with candy, donuts, cakes, cookies, you name it. I don’t touch it. I go to Dana’s birthday party, and after the luncheon the cake is placed right in front of me since I am sitting beside Dana. I don’t have one inkling of desire. Dana is absolutely amazed. I back off of my biking. I start taking walks. My foot starts feeling better. I begin to take more yoga. I begin to take Tai Kwon Do more seriously. I don’t feel hungry anymore. I am eating whole eggs, meat, and fat, and nuts and avocados…green gold, I call it. I don’t binge on cereal, cookies, and ice cream anymore.

It is the first time in 46 years that I have not craved sugar. I still would like to lose 5 lbs, but for me the weight has not dropped off. Probably because I am eating more calories now, not counting calories, and not working out like an obsessive fiend. Although I can say, I have lost about 2 lbs, but it has been a very slow process. Probably because I don’t have a ton to lose. My abdomen is completely flat now….no more Buddah belly for me. And since giving up grains, no more intestinal issues for me.

I am still baby stepping my way through the Primal life. I still don’t have it all figured out. As I told Mark at PrimalCon, “Biking to me is as Ultimate Frisbee is to you.” I love to bike. I love my bike, Ruby. I love my group that I bike with. But, I also realize I don’t have to ride 200 miles a week, I don’t have to kill myself on every ride to “keep up,” and I can still enjoy my rides with Ruby and my group on a more Primal level. I am running a marathon in June for my sister Linda, who has lymphoma. I raised $3000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to run for her. A marathon is not Primal, but my reasons for doing it are Primal, because it symbolizes to me that if I can run this race after a year of not being able to run, she can beat this disease. I don’t want to run any more marathons after this. And I am being kind to my body, allowing myself to go easy, and I won’t beat myself up if I don’t run it as fast, or faster than my other marathon’s.

I have fallen off the wagon, and it is always a miserable experience. For me, I can only be 100% Primal, because I truly am a sugarholic. The other day a friend offered me a milk chocolate. She said, “Just eat one. One won’t hurt you.” I told her, “Kellie, you would not offer a drink to an alcoholic and say one won’t hurt you. Sugar is poison to me. I can’t do it. I will crave it all day long.” I am still trying to get it right with enough sleep. That is my biggest challenge. Enough sleep and less stress. I am trying to focus less on the things in life that are not important, and focus more on the things I love: my family, my friends, the outdoors, playing and not always working. Giving myself permission to take a day off, to have fun, to relax. As Carrie and Karen counseled me to do at PrimalCon: to set my intentions, and to affirm those intentions. To keep my mind fixed on how I want my life to be, and what I want out of my life.

I am so grateful to Mark and to Carrie for being so intentional with their lives, and for feeling compelled to share their experience with the rest of the world. I feel incredibly blessed that I am a recipient of their wisdom and knowledge. I do want my life to be a life of quality. I want the things that I do to matter, and to touch others lives in a significant way. I went to PrimalCon to sit at Mark’s feet to learn. I know it was well worth the money that my husband and I spent. I cannot put a price on what I learned and gleaned from a weekend immersed in the Primal Blueprint lifestyle. It has spurred Mark (my husband) and me to re-assess our lives and to set out to create the life that we want.

Yours Primally!!!!

Michelle Ford

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109 Comments on "I Am Tired of This Hamster Wheel"

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Nutritionator
5 years 4 months ago

Stories like this directed me to The Primal Blueprint, they need to keep coming. Congrats on the success!

Primal Toad
5 years 4 months ago
Great story! While the weight loss ones are incredibly inspirational, its good to read one that has to do with a sugar addiction. I was also in this position for a short period of time. I went primal last year in April and was doing great until I began to binge eat late last year into January of this year. I decided to do a 30 day primal challenge in order to stop my binge eating and it was a huge success. I am not more primal than ever and am 110% dedicated to spreading this lifestyle to millions around… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
5 years 4 months ago

Yes, we did meet! My husband, Mark and I were in Group A. Mark (my husband) is the one who sent you the picture of you on the slackline.

Primal Toad
Primal Toad
5 years 4 months ago

Yes, that’s right! I do remember now. Bald guy, right?

Michelle
Michelle
5 years 4 months ago

Yes, with a tough-guy goatee…..:)

Mike Paleovillage
5 years 4 months ago

Inspirational stories like this will turn more and more ppl into Paleo and Primal lifestyle. Keep them coming!

Michael
Michael
5 years 4 months ago
Dear Michelle, What a powerful story. Thank you so much for sharing your struggles, your ephiphanies, and moreover your articulation of that value of quality vs. quantity. I believe we all can relate to that or we wouldn’t have interest in challenging conventional wisdom. It is so funny to be in a world where colleagues are eating SAD, and they are sick all the time, they drink nasty canned shakes for lunch, they are on the hamster wheel, and they look at me funny when I heat up mushrooms and kale with a big dab of cocoanut oil with smoked… Read more »
Peggy
5 years 4 months ago
Wow! Her story sounds so much like mine before I started the Primal diet. I was always really obsessive about getting gaining weight because I too would eat junk food ravenously, and I had a workout schedule to match it. After 6 years I am still the same way with sugar. If I eat it, I will crave it for days and have to use god-like will power to fight the cravings. I just can’t eat sugar. I’ve never run another marathon since, but I’ve wanted to do it just to see how much better at it I’d be now,… Read more »
Sharon C.
Sharon C.
5 years 4 months ago

LOL! That’s me, too!!!

SC
SC
5 years 4 months ago
Me three! Michelle, thank you so much for writing this letter! I have struggled with the same issues that you capture so perfectly in your story. I have very close friends that giggle at the quantity of cake, cookies, batter and candy that I can stuff down in a single sitting. I have numerous coworkers and friends that think I am the epitome of health and express envy of my dedication to exercise. But. BUT. It’s just the hamster wheel … and from the inside, it’s scary. I’ve suffered with body image issues, worried that I’m a disordered eater and… Read more »
Kym
Kym
5 years 4 months ago
Yep, and me! I think someone has been following me around and wrote about my life!! 🙂 I guess I always assume others are going through the same thing but it’s helpful and inspiring to read about it. My colleagues are always saying I can eat anything because I’ll work it off, but they don’t seem to understand the consequences I’ll have to face if I do. It’s frustrating how long it takes to get myself off sugar compared to the miniscule amount of time it takes to reignite the craving! Yet I still get stuck on that wheel… Thanks… Read more »
Mike
Mike
5 years 4 months ago
Thank you for your story. I can relate to the sugar cravings: I used to be a sugar fiend. It was dangerous for me to have too many sugar items in the house, because I would binge on them. Like you, I was not overweight due to calorie control. That was some time ago, but prior to going primal, I still ate sweets daily (at the very minimum, one candy bar a day). I started going primal 20 days ago, and I haven’t had any processed sweets, besides a little very dark chocolate. I went to a gathering and I… Read more »
Harry
5 years 4 months ago

Anyone who says “calories in, calories out” should read this.

Steph
Steph
5 years 4 months ago

Agreed!

Daria
Daria
5 years 4 months ago
What a great story, so much you have been through. I have never in my life exercised with that kind of intensity, and I never really want to! I have always been a sugar fiend since childhood though so I can relate to that. I used to walk to a nearby gas station when I was a child and buy a huge bag of candy and eat it all in one sitting. Finally in my 30’s this began to catch up with me and the first time I had to buy larger pants I knew I had to do something.… Read more »
Alexis
Alexis
5 years 4 months ago

Good for you, Daria. Keep it going!

Alison Golden
5 years 4 months ago

I have a very similar story. Same age, same sugar thing. It’s like crack for us mid-life women.

I, too, am slowly losing the sugar cravings. I still have them but it is not part of my daily life anymore. I have relapses but they are getting fewer and fewer. It isn’t a linear process but the trend is in the right direction.

It is good to know I am not the only one. Great job!

Tim
Tim
5 years 4 months ago

Keep it going Michelle, you’re doing awesome!! I have similar issues, although my story is one that got to the point of getting Type 2 diabetes…I have gone Primal, and my sugar cravings are gone, my blood sugar is down 40 points and I have lost 10 lbs in 1 week!! I know this works, and will be doing it the rest of my life!!

Thank you for sharing!! AND THANK YOU MARK for the awakening!!!

Tim

Mike
Mike
5 years 4 months ago

10 pounds in 1 week! Cool.

I’ve been trimming up since committing to primal 20 days ago. I haven’t been keeping track, but my belly appears to be shrinking. I’m very satisfied with what I’m eating, and it hasn’t been a struggle not to cheat.

I thought that I would allow myself a cheat day when I started, but I haven’t even wanted to.

Primal Palate
Primal Palate
5 years 4 months ago
It’s awesome to still get newcomers to us Primal folks 🙂 I’ve been primal for 1 year and 1 month now and feel better than when I was 20 (i’m 40 now). I used to stay thin by starvation. That didn’t work much anymore in my late 30’s. All these digestive problems my entire life, joint pain in my 30’s, poor nail and hair growth, allergies, sensitive skin to everything even someones gentle touch, and the list goes on. Since going primal, I went as far as getting a palatal expansion done on both of my jaws to have a… Read more »
Uncephalized
Uncephalized
5 years 4 months ago

How did it go for you? I really want to get that procedure done when I have the money, but I like to hear from people that have actually done it rather than the testimonials on the pages selling the devices and so on.

I have a tiny mouth (had 4 bicuspids pulled as a teenager so the rest of my teeth would fit), as well as problems with perma-clogged sinuses and asthma. I think I would really benefit from it, and I hope to be able to keep my wisdom teeth.

Primal Palate
Primal Palate
5 years 4 months ago
Hi Uncephalized, for some reason I can’t reply to your post. I’ve decided to have an expansion done because the right side of my face was underdeveloped, with crooked teeth in front (on that side) and wisdom teeth pulled (on that side). I look “normal” to anyone who doesn’t know anything about this craniofacial development thing… Due to this dental arch deformity I’ve had eye pain in my right eye and felt pressure, like my whole side of that face was pushing in. I stumbled upon all this after going primal by seeing a post with Weston A. Price linked.… Read more »
Alex
Alex
5 years 4 months ago
wow, you sound like you had some serious ocd/body image issues before discovering primal. Paying such close attention to your food and exercise sounds insane. But, good for you for making a change, better late than never. But maybe it’s your personality and you’ll obsess with primal now. I went threw a bit of a primal obsession after making a switch (spending hours per day reading about it, thinking about it, deciding what I was going to eat, worrying if I ate something that wasn’t on the primal list, etc) and I slowly began to realize that I’m not living… Read more »
April
April
5 years 4 months ago

I’ve been strict primal for over a month now. (Primal zone diet) My only cheating is eating a little fruit almost every day… and that’s because I loved sugar.

But, I miss it. I get angry when I see doughnuts in the grocery store. Walking past cookies makes me sad. I want to yell at my coworkers eating candy in front of me all day. You’re poisoning yourself! I miss eating an entire box of Oreos in one day. Or the whole cake. Or pan of brownies.

I dumped Sugar… and I’m not over it yet.

Mike
Mike
5 years 4 months ago

Wow, an entire box of Oreos or a pan of brownies 🙂 Sounds great that you’ve been doing it for over a month (I’m at 20 days and counting).

I don’t think eating fruit almost every day is cheating. A small amount of fruit is OK. I eat 1 apple and some berries every day – it’s better than eating bread or candy 🙂

I also just got a big dark chocolate bar (85%) and will probably have a little bit throughout the week.

Primal Palate
Primal Palate
5 years 4 months ago

LOL…omg you sound like my husband. He just joined me on my journey of being primal. He’s addicted to sugar AND grain. He’s been grain free for about 2 weeks now and he CRIES in the store!
No cookies, no bread, no crackers, no cereal….Whaaaaa.
I allow him cane sugar atm for his plain yogurt and small amount of fruit with it for breakfast. Fortunately today he woke up and was in the mood for eggs…yay.

Timothy
5 years 4 months ago
April, I know just how you feel! I used to bake a whole tray of chocolate chip cookies and scarf them down with CAFO milk. I enjoyed them so much I didn’t even care when I found a large insect leg in one. I also liked to eat a large pizza… and then eat a cinnamon-sugar pizza with frosting for dessert. All while tugging away at a 2-liter of HFCS soda, of course. Looking back, it seems incredible that I’m still alive. The cravings didn’t stop quickly. For many months after going primal, walking past Cinnabon in the mall made… Read more »
Uncephalized
Uncephalized
5 years 4 months ago

Insect legs in baked goods really aren’t a big deal. At least they’re cooked thoroughly. And you know how many insect parts you probably eat in a year? Lots, but fewer than Grok probably ate! It’s just extra protein.

Timothy
5 years 4 months ago

You’re right, those insect legs were probably the healthiest part of the meal! Still, though, if I were to eat bugs, I’d rather dine on free-range than cookie-fed.

Julia
5 years 4 months ago

Thanks for your story Michelle! It’s inspiring to hear from someone that doesn’t have that typical before/after picture story. I too broke the counting calories and obsessive exercise routine. Thank god.

So glad to hear that you’re much happier now.

peggy
peggy
5 years 4 months ago

WOW! From the story & the responces thus far, it is apparent that there are alot of us sugarholics out there.
Like Toad, I too just did a 30 days of super strictness – I saw it as the only way. (yes! it’s working!)
Like the rest of you (so far) I haven’t ever had a weight “problem”, but being primal/paleo has kept 10lbs of excess baggage off of me.
I am encouraged by this story & the feedback to keep at it. I am encouraged by knowing there are plenty others out there just like me. No more cake for this cookie…

Melly Sue
5 years 4 months ago

It’s amazing the way we’re all individuals: different bodies, different demons, different reactions to stress. I love this story for showcasing sugar addiction.

Thank you for sharing it with us, Michelle. Props to you for choosing what’s best for your health, not only now, but also in the decades to come. Enjoy the good times with Ruby!

Julie
Julie
5 years 4 months ago

Great story that I really needed to read. Just got the book and have the cookbook on reserve at the store now. Hoping for better health and looking forward to writing my own story someday.

Phoenix
Phoenix
5 years 4 months ago

“I am running a marathon in June for my sister Linda, who has lymphoma. I raised $3000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to run for her. A marathon is not Primal, but my reasons for doing it are Primal, because it symbolizes to me that if I can run this race after a year of not being able to run, she can beat this disease.”

This is beautiful. Have a great, well-paced run!

Darcy
5 years 4 months ago

Great story reminds me of the days I use to torture myself marathon training, with crossfit, and with Krav Maga. I can so relate to the sugar addiction and to be honest still look at the candy trays at work with drool and longing lol

Croí
Croí
5 years 4 months ago

Alex,
Some people, in the beginning, do need to obsess about it in a way. Me, for example, if I don’t stay with the MDA forum, always researching new ideas, recipes, I fall off the course, and it takes me forever to get back on it.

Suzanne
Suzanne
5 years 4 months ago

Former sugar addict here. Primal eating definitely helped. Reading Kathleen des Maison’s book, Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery was the final piece of the puzzle for me. She does advocate eating “browns” (high fibre, unrefined carbs) but I find they react just like sugar in my body so I don’t go there. No booze, no sugar, no grains… no cravings.

Griff
Griff
5 years 4 months ago
Some of the folks here on the forums accuse me of being a purist and a jerk because when someone says “Is it okay for me to have grains/high-sugar fruit/beer occasionally” and I tell them NO, I get told off and told that nobody can be 100% Primal. I love this quote: “For me, I can only be 100% Primal, because I truly am a sugarholic. The other day a friend offered me a milk chocolate. She said, “Just eat one. One won’t hurt you.” I told her, “Kellie, you would not offer a drink to an alcoholic and say… Read more »
Hannah
5 years 4 months ago

Griff-I feel the same way, I too cannot have “cheat days” because that one day will become two, then a week, etc…
We are all different and the best thing I ever learned from going Paleo/Primal is to listen to your body, if these are the side affects to “just having one” then they are not worth it at all!

Thank you Michelle for sharing your journey! Keep up the great work!

Croí
Croí
5 years 4 months ago

Ditto on that one!

non-ideologue
non-ideologue
5 years 4 months ago

*sighhh* Just because you need to be either 100% or 0% Primal doesn’t mean that you have to push that upon others. Some of us came upon Primal due to truly messed up eating-disordered backgrounds, so please realize that while your fanaticism might help YOU, it can really be unwelcoming and even damaging to others.

On another note, congrats on your new Primal life, Michelle!

Matt
Matt
5 years 4 months ago

Totally agree. Kurt Harris makes a similar analogy with smokers….you don’t try to get them to smoke once in a while.

Tonya L
Tonya L
5 years 4 months ago

your comment of someone offering you chocolate (come on just one) really hit me. you are 100% right, you wouldn’t offer an alcholic just one drink and unfortunately sugar is the devil for me….i’ve recently fallen off the wagon too and feel terrible, guilty, and ashamed.
Thank you for this story to remind me just to get back on track and stop beating myself up!

Jenny
Jenny
5 years 4 months ago

I love this story, thank you for sharing. It is definitely a “before and after success story” because there’s more to success than weight loss. Clearly this has made a HUGE difference in your quality of life, and you now have the tools to keep both control and perspective! I’m so happy for you!

Timothy
5 years 4 months ago

Michelle, congratulations! Griff and Tonya are right: sugar is demonic.

“You wouldn’t offer a drink to an alcoholic and say ‘one won’t hurt you’.”

Brilliantly stated. I’m going to use that next time somebody has the bad taste to push sugar at me.

I feel bad for folks who work a “cheat day” into their diet, because for a sugar addict, that amounts to shameful self-abuse. What would you call an alcoholic who swears off all liquor — except for a massive weekly binge?

Thanks for the inspiring thoughts!

Mike
Mike
5 years 4 months ago

“I feel bad for folks who work a “cheat day” into their diet, because for a sugar addict, that amounts to shameful self-abuse.”

I never thought of it like that. I don’t do cheat days, but I’m open to the idea (I’ve read some things that cheating a bit can be good for making gains in the gym, but I haven’t researched it enough).

As a former sugar addict, my cheating would take place in the form of pizza or rice dishes. But again, I don’t plan to cheat unless I decide it will ultimately be good for me.

Timothy
5 years 4 months ago
Some folks say that it’s good to have a high-carb day once in a while, that it helps regulate leptin and keeps their metabolism high. That’s not my approach, but different things work for different people. Still, if you’re going to go for carbs, your best bet is probably nutrient-dense fruit or berries. A day full of cookies and ice cream, on the other hand — that’s more like nursing an eating disorder. Some people say they exercise just so they can eat whatever they want, but Mark tells from personal experience where that leads. Ultimately, if you’re eating nutritious… Read more »
Debs
Debs
5 years 4 months ago

Wow, great story. The Primal Blueprint is not all about losing weight, it’s about adopting a healthier lifestyle, one that will make you feel great! Who wants to be addicted to anything? It’s so energy draining. Eating primnally gives you freedom, freedom of choice to eat good, healthy foods and the freedom of feeling free of your addictions. I for one love how I don’t feel hungry all the time, it’s the best feeling ever!

Heidi P.
Heidi P.
5 years 4 months ago

I agree Debs! I thought my addiction to sugar was hopeless. It controlled me. I LOVED to bake. I LOVED to buy baked goods. I never lost my pregnancy weight (3 kids), and it was creeping up too.

Now I feel so unbelievably free.

I can even watch others eat my old favs and it doesn’t bother me.

Shirley @ gfe
5 years 4 months ago
Very inspiring story, Michelle. Thank so much for sharing it. I can totally identify with either no sugar or tons of sugar. There is no middle ground for many of us, and most folks don’t get that. I don’t have an eating disorder, but gluten grains and sugar make me want to eat more and more. Incidentally, since you have digestive issues that were resolved by going gluten free, it’s also possible that you actually are gluten sensitive/gluten intolerant or celiac. It won’t matter much to you as long as you stay grain free, but it’s worth pursuing a bit… Read more »
Cecilia
5 years 4 months ago

that is very helpful information Shirley, thanks!

Sharon C.
Sharon C.
5 years 4 months ago
Wow, I love this article. I have gone through this twice in the last 3 years. It’s been a heck of a learning experience. When I first began changing my lifestyle habits, I went way of South Beach Diet. Not really a bad diet, except- it still exposed me to food I was unknowingly addicted to. It had a relaxed stance on desserts, suggesting to have a few bites and pass it to someone to share (if out to eat), or- use moderation. When eating grains, a small amount, maybe fist sized should suffice. Well I did well with this… Read more »
Timothy
5 years 4 months ago
Thank you for sharing this wonderful testimonial, Sharon. Yours is an inspiring success story indeed. Congratulations on going cold turkey on sugar! Sugar is addictive not just because of the drug-like rush, but because it displaces fat as the body’s energy source. Eat enough sugar and your body forgets how to burn fat, and you become one of those poor creatures who can’t go three hours without eating lest they end up with crashed blood sugar, migraine headaches, depression etc. I spent most of my life in that state. Never again. Once you’ve put the sugar addiction behind you, and… Read more »
Primal Palate
Primal Palate
5 years 4 months ago

I just had a dental cleaning done at the dentists office and when I got up to leave there was a basket of ‘sugar free’ chocolate candy ….WTH!

And this coming from a dentist who has a whole chapter of ‘Nutrition that’s good for your teeth’ posted on his web site…ironic.

kerrybonnie
kerrybonnie
5 years 4 months ago
I struggled for 7 years with serious anorexia and nearly died from it. Even when I appeared to have recovered from it (on the outside at least), my eating was still really out of whack and I’d lost all understanding of my natural appetite. I went through a period of binging on the foods I’d never allowed myself to touch for years. The Doctors thought this was fine because I’d been so thin, but it still wasn’t healthy, and I then found I developed cravings for the foods I had previously blacklisted. It became a sort of moral war in… Read more »
Alison
Alison
5 years 4 months ago

As a fellow sugar-holic… Good for you! I feel your pain, 100%, and it’s completely accurate to call it an addiction. Few understand that so well as they do here. After going Primal for 6 months, only yesterday did I feel ready or capable of giving up sugar for 30 days. It’s my one-woman challenge. Your story came up at a great time, I’m stealin’ your mojo 🙂 Best of luck to you

Digby
Digby
5 years 4 months ago
Great testimonal Michelle! I so relate. I was lean, but clearly had a sugar problem that was getting worse, and by the mid-40s was becoming a struggle; ten plus years of fighting the “you can have a little” mantra of so many diets, when it was plain I couldn’t. I finally feel at peace. Now you won’t have to go through the steady weight gains of the 40s-50s which is the result of the cravings that get ever stronger which so many do. But, I’m so glad I can look forward to my elder years without the sugar/starch demon on… Read more »
Tony
Tony
5 years 4 months ago

I am also a sugar addict. I find myself falling back into it easily and have to go cold turkey. There isn’t a middle ground for me. I am an all-or-nothing person in terms of sugar. Congrats for breaking the cycle and getting healthy and happy.

I am right there with you on passing on the cake and candy. I, too, work in a hospital and its amazing how much bad-for-you stuff there is here. Half of it is supplied by the hospital! Good luck and stay strong, we’re all working on killing the addiction!

Mary
Mary
5 years 4 months ago
This letter hits home with me big time. I didn’t start Primal eating to lose weight but to stop my obsession with junk food. I used to think I was a healthy eater, but when I look back I was eating potato chips every day, french fries at least three times a week, dessert whenever I felt like it… I was never a sugar holic, instead I was a salt junky; potato chips, cheezies, nachos, french fries, hamburgers, pizza, pickles, anything with a salty taste I loved. I justified all of it because I didn’t gain weight eating that way.… Read more »
Elenor
Elenor
5 years 4 months ago

“you wouldn’t offer an alcoholic just one drink”

Tom Naughton has mentioned this somewhere in his blog, and it’s noticeably true: if you go to an AA meeting the folks — the addicts working with their addiction — are all guzzling highly-sugared coffee and non-diet sodas.

Going low carb (more so even than paleo) seems to really help alcohol addicts stay sober and, if not free of cravings, at least dealing with lesser cravings.

(After all, alcohol is just another kind of fuel for the body to burn — ahead, even, of carbs!)

Kim
Kim
5 years 4 months ago
This experience really struck a chord with me, as well. Sugar craving are so insidious, too. Now that I do not eat any grains, cakes, cookies or candy bars or sweets like that, I began to eat dried fruit, sometimes a lot. But, I came to realize that that can be like sugar too, and is preventing me from losing the weight that I want to. I think it is partly cravings, partly habit, that I do that. My whole life I have eaten a snack after school, or when I started working I would have a snack after work–usually… Read more »
slacker
slacker
5 years 4 months ago
Awesome! It is so heartening to read about this kind of progress. I do hope you are able to get to the point where you are OK to rest more, though. I need to get more active. One foot in front of the other is my mantra. Not everyone can fix it all in one big leap. I started with Primal Blueprint about a year ago. I had been gluten, soy and corn free for years, but was still eating lots of steamed rice, sorghum breads, juice drinks and yogurt with honey. All those are gone out of my intake… Read more »
Timothy
5 years 4 months ago

Well put, Slacker. One step at a time is the only way to go. Now that you’ve fixed your diet, getting active will come a lot more easily to you. It’s really just a matter of finding an activity that you enjoy. The best exercise never feels like a chore, and there’s something for everyone. Good luck discovering your personal favorites!

DeAnna
DeAnna
5 years 4 months ago

I love your story. I also first heard about Mark listening to Dr. Axe 🙂 small world – he is a great guy!

The Primal Commuter
5 years 4 months ago

Thanks for sharing! You got it – the objective is to break the vicious cycle…to STOP dieting and start living primal.

fitmom
fitmom
5 years 4 months ago

Mark,
Seems like a blog post on the nature of sugar addiction is in order, and some ideas for easing cravings!
I have to commend you. Primal Blueprint has helped so many people in WILDLY different circumstances achieve health. Thanks, and thanks to Michelle and all the other success stories for continuing to inspire me!

Matt
Matt
5 years 4 months ago

Agree! I could sure use some help with that.

randallfloyd
randallfloyd
5 years 4 months ago

I like the weekly success story thing!

Brenda
Brenda
5 years 4 months ago
This article came in for me at a good time. I am a sugar addict and about to go primal. I’m not looking forward to the sugar withdrawal. I was told once that I should do amino acid therapy (like in “The Diet Cure” or “The Mood Cure”) to get off of the sugar……which I did for one month. It took three weeks before I stopped craving sugar and I thought it was a miracle but the supplements were bothering my sensitive stomach and I stopped. It was Christmas time so started eating sugar again. I don’t need much of… Read more »
Megan
5 years 4 months ago
Thanks so much for your story. I can totally relate to your sugar addiciton, when I’m eating sugar I just don’t feel like myself. I feel sad and defeated and mad at myself and sick to my stomach. I’ve gone off sugar in the past but then it always crept back in. Right now I’m on day 6 with no sugar or grains! Yay, I feel fabulous, and it’s amazing how quickly that feeling came. When I compare how I felt last Friday to how I feel today, it’s amazing that I ever even wanted to eat sugar, it’s horrible!… Read more »
Anne
Anne
5 years 4 months ago
“Mark,Seems like a blog post on the nature of sugar addiction is in order, and some ideas for easing cravings! I have to commend you. Primal Blueprint has helped so many people in WILDLY different circumstances achieve health. Thanks, and thanks to Michelle and all the other success stories for continuing to inspire me!” S.O.S MARK SISSON! Great idea. I also need a fail proof plan to KILL CANDIDA FOR GOOD! I also have the sugar addiction and when I go overboard, which I do sometimes – CANDIDA OUTBREAK! Rashes, angular chelitis, itchy…etc. My body punishes me when I eat… Read more »
Anne
Anne
5 years 4 months ago

Yes, Mark, please post something more on beating sugar-addiction. Before going Primal I would eat so much sugar that I would have whole-body yeast infections – the skin on my hands and feet even peeled completely off because of it. Now that I’m mostly primal I STILL crave sugar, although not like before. Before I would make an excuse to go the grocery store to get a pack of Zingers or Suzie-Q’s!

Laurie D.
5 years 4 months ago
Hi, my name is Laurie and I am a sugar addict. Yes, this post struck home with me as well. I gave up gluten three years ago and that was hard, but it is far harder to give up the sugar. I started my own 31 Days of Primality challenge this month, using recipes from Mark’s new cookbook and Everyday Paleo, among others. I have done well so far, but today I had to attend a meeting where they had candy bowls at each table, several dozen donuts, granola bars, and even frozen popsicles! Luckily, most had gluten and I… Read more »
primal tree top
primal tree top
5 years 4 months ago
Hi Laurie my name is Trina and I face similar problems at work and I have learned to stock my locker with snacks that are primal and never be without a primal snack in any social situation. I feel your fustration about these things and even though I thought I would never need a primal desert I have statred making some so if, I do give into something sweet it’s on my primal menu. I have gotten better about eating and being primal in a SAD world but, I still stumbe too. I try not to kick myself for it… Read more »
PrimalGrandma
PrimalGrandma
5 years 4 months ago
If you google “Sugar Addiction” you’ll get a wealth of links related to the problem. One I liked in particular links to Dr. Mark Hyman who calls sugar addiction as bad as addiction to heroin, cocaine or nicotine. Dr. Hyman isn’t exactly what I’d call primal, but he’s worth reading. Gary Taubes makes similar references. I’ve been sugar free for almost 2 years. If I can break the habit at age 66 then I guess there’s hope for everyone out there who wants to try. Thanks to Primal Blueprint, I’ve been totally grain free for several months as well and… Read more »
nomoredarkchocolate
nomoredarkchocolate
5 years 4 months ago
I too am a sugar addict, and I agree, 100% cold turkey is the way to go. I went primal about 2 months ago and had fabulous, immediate results. I had never been overweight, but I slimmed down, felt healthier, had more energy, enjoyed my Primal exercise, and wasn’t having any cravings. Then I started to allow myself dark chocolate. And then I would put almond butter on the dark chocolate… and then I would eat the whole bar of dark chocolate, and then I would want some of the cookies or the chocolate chips that were in the pantry…… Read more »
Shema
Shema
5 years 4 months ago
It’s fortunate this story comes today. I’m a Type II Diabetic and raging sugarholic. I also desperately want to plan for a child this year. But my endocrinologist has sternly warned me that I need to lose my excess 25 pounds and get my blood sugar under control before even thinking about pregnancy. I managed to be strictly paleo for about a month and a half and lost 8 pounds and my cravings disappeared. But along came PMS last week…along with the wild sugar cravings (that intensified after I decided to be “gentle” with my body and allow myself a… Read more »
Page
Page
5 years 4 months ago

Another recovering sugar addict here — I was always thin, so it was easy to kid myself that it was OK to eat mass quantities of sweets. Finally, I felt so exhausted and irritable all the time, and my husband found this site and went Primal, so I quit about a 18 months ago. It hasn’t been perfect. I backslide big time last Christmas, and of course, kicked myself later. Yep, people who haven’t fought a sugar addiction just don’t understand. It’s helps to remember just how bad I felt back then.

jennachica
jennachica
5 years 4 months ago
Thank you so much for your honest article Michelle, it really, really hits home for a(nother) suger-addict. Cutting out sugar is the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever done, making it more difficult because I seem to be surrounded my people who do not understand at all (and unless you SUFFER as well with sugar-addiction you really can’t understand the horrifying power it can have over an individual). I’m currently suffering from my own ED demons that are spawned by sugar-induced binges, and after reading this article and the responses I now realize that 100% abstinence is the only way to… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
5 years 4 months ago
Thank you to everyone who has read my story, and for all of your comments. I was actually afraid to share my story because it exposes a part of me that I have always hated, and that I have always tried to hide. But, I see from all the comments that I definitely struck a nerve with many out there. It is shameful to be addicted to anything, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, food, sugar, what have you. It becomes something outside of yourself, controlling you, and there is no end in sight. When I say that for the first time… Read more »
Hannah
Hannah
5 years 4 months ago
Reading this post and all the subsequent comments has been nothing short of extraordinary for me. So much of what has been written could have been written by me. And I have always felt very alone in regards to this issue. I am 19 years old and a sophomore in college. I am unlike anyone else I know here, in terms of the way I eat and the way I think about food. I also think I am unlike many of the MDA readers in that I was exposed to primal eating much earlier than I chose to accept it.… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
5 years 4 months ago
Hannah, to encourage you, it looks like we are not alone! So many low carb diets, ie. like South Beach, Sugar Busters, etc. don’t address the addiction. And as long as you are eating the foods that fuel the addiction, you are going to crave sugar. Grains, beans, pasta,etc. are still poison because it causes our bodies to crave, crave, crave. I taught group fitness classes for 26 years, so I ate a ton of carbs, and could get away with it, because I exercised so much. But, as I got older, it began to show. The exercise did not… Read more »
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