A few weeks ago, I got some unfortunate news from my doctor. I have pre-diabetes. This is not the first time I have had sugar problems, and in the past, knowing the problem, I’d cut sugar out of my diet and the issue would solve itself. So of course, I vowed this time to cut out all treats that were made with sugar, while still allowing myself a little dark chocolate with high cocoa content, because I don’t binge on it and it’s healthy.

Shortly after making that promise to myself, I went out to lunch with a friend and ate the two free warm chocolate chip cookies that came with our meal. I didn’t eat them so much as inhale them. My friend Donna had one cookie, ate it slowly, and took the other home. So sensible. So not me.

I’ve been trying to beat my sugar addiction forever. Well, since I stopped smoking in 1987 and food started tasting good. Before 1987 I could care less about candy, cake, bread, chips. Eating was an annoying necessity. I was all about the nicotine. Pack a day for 15 years, except for the two times I was pregnant and the 10-20 times I tried to quit. But finally to my utter amazement I was able to quit nicotine. Harder to get off than heroin! So how come I can’t quit sugar?

I really don’t know the answer. I just know that I can’t quit trying to quit. I’m hoping Judy Smith, who has a chapter on indulging in her book “Good Self, Bad Self” will give me clues. She does have a method, it’s a little complicated, you really have to read the book, but I’m trying to put it into action. Today I figured out that I can actually work The Plan (a healthy lifestyle eating habit my friend Lisa came up with to successfully lose 30 lbs.) and exercise.  Instead of saying “well I’m shopping later so that’s exercise” I got on my treadmill and then hit the yoga mat.

And I’m still going shopping:) Will I be able to give up sugar with the same ease that I have incorporated exercise into my life? It seems so stupid to keep eating cakes and candies and cookies when I am headed on a fast train to giving myself shots of insulin. But I’m not stupid, just a sugar junkie.

I was able to add exercise because it makes me feel so better afterward. Yoga is a must for my back. I hurt if I don’t do some yoga every day. And walking helps cheer me up. I’ve been depressed, I admit it. I hate admitting that. But what I noticed when I started walking was that I am not depressed after 30 minutes on a treadmill. A little exercise gets me through a 24 hour day in a much better mood. Amazing!

Giving up sugar doesn’t have that same gratification. Sugar tastes good. It’s an instant hit of wonderful. I don’t feel a sugar crash like some people do. There is nothing tangible to keep me from indulging. Well, except my health, and I value it as much as my mood. Except when I am confronted with a delicious something full of sugar and slip into sweet denial.

I am motivated to quit sugar. Now I just need to get some practice with “no thanks” under my belt. I need a few successes. The next three days’ social events will all be sugar-rich opportunities. If I say no three times, I’ll have those successes to lean on during the coming holiday sugar rush. Wish me luck. And determination.

She Who Writes

Black cloud subject this rainy summer day. What does depression have to do with writing? It can stop you. It stopped me. I haven’t felt like writing in weeks. The WIP paralyzed. Also joy. Does a writer’s depression differ from other people’s? Writers certainly have lots of writerly specific things to be depressed about: Rejection. Shrinking markets. Low pay rates. Lack of readers. Writer’s block. J.K. Rowling envy.

But unless you buy the tortured artist myth, writers are not necessarily more prone to depression than other people. Everyone has issues that can lay them low. And lately I have not been able to make my depression disappear by the usual avoidance techniques. The thing with avoidance techniques is that, eventually, if you live long enough, they backfire. Spectacularly. At least that’s been my experience.

Some of the depression-avoidance ploys that no longer work for me: Ingesting huge quantities of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and pepperoni pizza. Burying myself in books and movies. Popping various medications, prescribed and otherwise. All of these things my mind once used to escape have gradually taken their toll on my body. Beaten the shit out of it, actually.

And now it’s time to figure out how to use my mind to get my body back together. Because as it turns out, depression only gets worse when you ruin your health. Not that I was trying to…but it happened anyway as I ignored uncomfortable feelings by feasting on calzones, cake and martinis. And that was just last Thursday.

I’ve known for a while now I need to put my mental power to work for my inner self, not my outer life. For months, I have been promising myself a good stretch of six weeks or so when not working or vacationing to get body, mind, and spirit together, to clear out the toxic stuff, to feel great again, to regain health and energy. I’m using two books to guide me: Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston and The Unmistakable Touch of Grace by Cheryl Richardson.

And good news! Writing is actually a natural, non-fattening, not reflux-causing, cure for what ails me. I know as I go through my cleanse, cutting out the toxins, adding in more movement and meditation, that morning pages are as important as the other stuff. What’s different now is that I understand writing alone can’t save me. I need to pay attention to the whole person here, not just she who writes.