The Lean

Writers, because our job is sedentary, need to pay attention to diet more than most people. I never feel like exercising beyond my ten minute yoga stretches and tend to eat way too much sugar and not enough vegetables. Even though I’m a vegetarian.

Four years ago, dinner menus included beef most of the time, and lunch, in the form of Wendy’s fab hamburgers, were at least a weekly treat. Pot roast for Sunday dinner, steak on Friday night, meat sauce on spaghetti, tacos, burritos, stuffed cabbage, hamburger soup! I loved all things beef.

Then I read a book that talked a bit about the meat industry and a lot about health and I quit eating all meat and stopped buying most leather products. That one book could have such an effect surprised me. I seem to be resistant to any diet, and believe me, I’ve tried them all. So one book and I give up my favorite food forever? Just like that. Yep. Don’t even want it anymore.

So what was this book that had such a magical effect on me? Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston. You’d think that giving up meat would have made my weight problems disappear but that didn’t happen. I replaced my love of beef with love of cookies, cake, and anything chocolate. Also, chips are vegetarian and so is wine.

I’ve been wanting to get sugar out of my diet for a few years now. Sugar wrecks my metabolism, adds pounds, increases the chances of diabetes, and causes that hell-raising health abuser– inflammation. I want to do something nice for my cells by booting sugar and other inflammation causing foods out of my diet. So I’m hoping Freston’s new book, The Lean, will help me in much the same way Quantum Wellness did.

If I can give up beef, surely I can also eliminate sugar.

Freston’s approach in The Lean is a bit different than other diet plans. It’s a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. Meaning the changes I am making now are forever. She spreads the tiny tweaks out through a month so that little by little good food crowds out the bad. So far I have successfully completed 5 of the 30 days with no problem. #1 was drink 8 glasses of water a day. Done. Next, eat a hearty breakfast, also an easy fix. Then came “eat an apple” — no problem. Day #4 looked daunting “Clean out cupboards and just for today say no to your poison.”

I decided to take the weekend off (this if fine with Freston, by the way) and tackle the poison on Monday. I do have sugar in my house but mostly use it for baking during the holidays. Raw sugar is not my poison. I love cookies and cake but not enough to bake them when I have a craving. Monday I shopped and didn’t buy any of my various poisons, skipping chips, chocolate and shortbread cookies. My husband eats protein bars so I  bought those even though I have at times been driven to eat them. So they are in the house, and I’m building up my “just say no” muscles.

Today’s tweak was to eat a handful of raw unsalted nuts. Done. I ate them before lunch and then only had my apple and banana for what is usually my downfall meal of the day. I tend to eat A LOT of lunch. But I ate the nuts and fruit five hours ago and I’m not hungry for dinner yet.

The catch here, in case you haven’t figured it out, is that you need to keep doing the tweaks. All of them. I think the 8 glasses of water today helped me out as much as the nuts and fruit. So that’s it so far. I know there will be challenges ahead, but for today, I’m doing good.

It’s not just weight that I want to change. It’s energy level, so I can write more. It’s brain fog, so I can think more clearly. It’s all the crap inflammation causes, so I can stay home writing instead of making yet another trip to the doctor. I would love to follow other people trying The Lean, so I’ll be looking for you.




  1. Is it the time of year? Just days ago I was fessing up to someone that I love sugar. I’ve been on a cookie binge. The trick is not to have them in the house. When I bake, I eat far fewer than when I start in on store bought. So back to not bringing them into the house, just like the Twizzlers I stopped buying…


  2. Sharon, you seem to handle stress in different ways than I do. When I said I eat sugar, I mean Lots of donuts, cookies, pies, and cakes. Also chocolate candy. And potato chips. I can tell from pics you’ve posted that you do not have a weight problem. Not to minimize your own stressors, which I know about from reading your blog. How many more weeks of school?


  3. I think ’twas Hemmingway who wrote standing up, to avoid falling into the fog of crouched people. After about two hours on the computer, I get hit with “psychosclerosis” and looking away from the screen becomes weird.


  4. Hi Ethan, I lived in Key West in my wild youth and Hemingway’s house sold postcards, one of which was him writing standing up. It’s on Google images now. He had back problems, an issue with many people who are not young anymore but have desk jobs. I’m like you with the computer, Twitter is especially pernicious. I love waiting for new tweets to pop up, which they do every few seconds:) For some reaons it’s quite addictive.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.