Move More, Eat Well: So, how’s that sugar detox working?

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life69 Comments


Sugar detox… riiiiight.

A few weeks back, I was writing about the sugar monkey.

And I decided to bring it up with my therapist last week, who said to me: “You don’t even really know what kind of woman you want to be in the first place.”


No need to feel sorry for me. I need an ass kicking on a weekly basis from her because I’m a very slippery little monkey myself. I will actively seek out ways to sabotage my efforts because it’s so much easier to be a mess than to be responsible. It sounds weird, but if I eat like shit then I can feel sorry for myself that I’m chubby, and in turn, it actually gives me a lift somehow, a sense of having power. Woe is me! This is so hard! 

Victimhood is power. That is something I have learned, then I forget, then I re-learn.

I’m not talking about true victims of horrific things. I’m talking about neurotic victimhood. Stuff that you actually can influence and change.

But for me, it starts with an attitude of wanting to understand what is going on, and then an attitude of wanting to learn how to change it.

I can get stuck on either prong.

Right after I wrote the post, I ditched the sugar for a full week. Nothing with obvious sugar (candy, soda, pastries, etc.) and nothing with added sugar or stuff that breaks down into sugar (breads, processed foods, wine, etc.). I felt like crap for one day and then fine for the rest of the week. I ate veggies, fruits and proteins. In other words, I ate real, delicious food. Everything was peachy keen.

Then I hit Super America for a ginormous Blue Raspberry ICEE on Day 8. Say hello to the brand new sugar craving cycle.

Honestly, if that wasn’t an emotionally driven purchase, I don’t know what is. Something was going on under the hood of my brain that caused me to give the old what the hell shrug and load up on the blue slush.

I didn’t need it. I just wanted it. Instant gratification colored my vision raspberry blue.

Now here’s the good news. I haven’t gained a pound this year. Not a one. But I also haven’t really budged, save for the occasional five-pound dip, from the 178 I clocked in at on New Year’s Day.

Here’s some other news: I’m officially in The Change. The Big M. The Hasta la Vista Menses phase of life (until it decides to unexpectedly return in a blaze of glory.) And what I’ve divined from this? Losing weight in this phase is a bitch.

Whoop de doo, right? What does it all mean?

I was in the dressing room the other day, at Target, and things weren’t going so well. It was one of those moments where I felt like I actually saw what I looked like. Not what I think I look like. Not what I hope to look like. But what I looked like.

I only saw a middle aged mama with a widening middle and back. And I was all, “Cath, what the hell?”

What the hell is right. What the hell do I want for my life, or rather, who the hell do I want to be?

I’ll tell you what I don’t want: I don’t to be a woman who thinks that being thinner is the key to making everything better. And if I’m being honest, that IS who I have been and who I wrestle with.

Back in 2010 I lost 40 pounds from running and eating 22 points a day. From a physical standpoint, I looked amazing.

But my marriage was a freaking mess.

I want to be a woman who knows what is needed and who nurtures and loves both herself and her family and her friends. Where my body falls into that equation is going to be something I want to learn to accept as well.

I have the attitude right there. I just need to do the work to integrate it experientially.

That’s my story about sugar for today.

It’s not just about white, tasty granules afterall.



The Move More, Eat Well Jumpstart is a 31-day workshop designed to help you get back on track (or get on track) with taking better care of you. Learn more by clicking here.


Cathy ZielskeMove More, Eat Well: So, how’s that sugar detox working?

69 Comments on “Move More, Eat Well: So, how’s that sugar detox working?”

  1. #2

    And this post is exactly where I am right now minus the menopause and shaky marriage. Never thought of victimhood having power. And I am totally in a woe is me phase. I think I love myself and my body, so I am struggling to figure out why I constantly self sabotage my efforts and have no ability to delay gratification or outright say no.

  2. #3

    So with you. I’m 53 and still waiting for menopause… anxiously waiting I might add. In the meantime, I’m struggling with my weight, struggling with my willpower (I have none) and struggling with what I really want. Throwing myself a huge pity party. And not at all sure what to do or try next.

  3. #4

    OMG you hit the nail right on the head. I struggle with all of the same things, and have most of my life. It’s so much easier to be the victim than to be responsible. Life is hard, and sometimes being responsible sucks. Being an adult sucks.
    I’ve lately found myself not caring what other people think for minutes at a time. I’m hoping that number will keep growing, and I can stop worrying about it all.

  4. #5

    I just wanted to pop in to say you aren’t alone. I was off the white stuff for 6 months – happy, pain-free months before I let it sneak back in. I’m allergic to wheat and had a light bulb moment last summer and deduced that my exhaustion, mood problems (not true depression) and cravings not to mention out of control eating the junk summed up to the same problems from wheat back in the day.

    I cut the sugar out 2 weeks ago – back to being pain-free and happy again. I still eat carbs but took out the sugar-cane products.

    Wishing you well on this journey! At least there is more awareness about the sugar addiction.

  5. #6

    I never thought of any of the stuff Im looking at right now. The whole victimhood as power was a hard pill to swallow, but it makes sense to me. I still have all kinds of other ways i try to snag power. I plan to write a lot more about this idea and how it ties into everything else.

  6. #7

    The pain free stuff SO appeals to me. I mean, I have issues with my hip ever since having foot surgery (I think because my gait is not the same) and I know that sugar causes inflammation in the body ergo, pain.

  7. #8
    Lynne Gillis

    You can do this. You can. And you will. When you are ready. (Any time you need some encouragement or someone who has your back on this – just let me know. I’ve been there. I’ve come through it on the other side. And let me tell you – the view from over here is amazing. You’re gonna love it!)

  8. #9
    Melinda Wilson

    Thanks Cathy for this good “slap in the face”!!! I needed this and I want to print it poster size so I can post it everywhere I go in my house!! LOL!!
    I love reading your blog (some days I read it to my hubby too) because you are REAL!!!! Thanks for the real you!!

  9. #10
    Susan A

    Victimhood is power…light bulb moment for me. I truly appreciate these posts where you are keeping it real. Thank you.

  10. #11

    I applaud you Cathy; you tell it straight up, like it is. You put into words exactly how I feel and you are doing so much better at than me. I haven’t hit the Big M yet, but I totally relate to the whole losing-weight-not-happening right now, peri-M phase. But unlike you, who can motivate yourself, I have zero motivation right now. So, I admire you, your put into action what your words say. Keep going and doing what you are doing. And keep on writing about this subject on your blog. I came to your blog because of scrapbooking, but I love when you have posts like this one. You give me the motivation that I need.

  11. #12
    Terri Torrez

    I needed this. April and May are always my crazy overwhelm months. And May is also my birthday, so I gave myself permission to do what I had to (including not exercising) and to indulge in tasty birthday pies (lemon meringue *and* chocolate cream because I couldn’t decide.) when I started craving Cheetos again, I knew I was I trouble. Cutting myself some slack is reasonable, but it’s dragging on way too long. I hate how fatigued I feel. Time to end the pity party, get out the running shoes and dump the sugar.

  12. #13

    God almighty Cathy – you took words out of my head that I didn’t know I needed to get out…

    I have spent the last 4 weeks recovering from a pinched sciatic nerve that flattened me. Yesterday, I finally felt good. For the first time. I miss my exercise. I miss mowing the lawn. I miss being active. In 4 weeks, I put on 5 pounds that I really did not need to put back on. I have been following your journey for about 4 years and you inspired me to lose 35 pounds. I gained 10 back in the past year, plus the 5 more in the last month.

    But, slowing down helped my family realize how much I do at home and they are now helping out more. I am less resentful. My injury led to more peace in my head and in our house.

    I don’t know. I am rambling… for what it is worth, no matter what, you have helped this 43 year old from Ohio who relates to you more than you know.

  13. #16

    Honestly Cathy, I think you are wicked hard on yourself. I am 44 year old peri-menapausal wife and mother and my story could be your story. We all have struggles in our marriage, with ourselves and with our weight. I don’t think you are a terrible person for having moments of weakness. Sugar is friggin delicious and its super hard to give it up completely. I have gone through all sorts of phases with weight loss and exercise and I am learning that swearing off any food whether it be sugar, carbs, fat, gluten, animal products is a sure recipe for failure. Everything in moderation. EVERYTHING. IN. MODERATION. If you gave yourself permission to have that damn ICEE once a week, you might not totally get sucked into sugar powered shame spiral. Give yourself a break woman! Have an ICEE now and then. But make sure you try really hard to exercise and eat well MOST of the time. Life’s a marathon….not a sprint. Deuces up.

  14. #17

    Rebecca, I fully plan to be more intentional with my writing. And Im going to work really hard at writing stuff that is real. Not manipulative BS. My therapist loves to point out that Ive done a lot of that. Honestly, I feel like I have a lot to say about what Im trying to change in my life. Life, it is about more than scrapbooking, right? ; )

  15. #18

    I think any time something isnt right with us its hard. For sure. Heres to a healed nerve and getting back to what you want to do.

  16. #19

    I need to take this in more. The idea of moderation. I have always been so black and white and when that is working, oh baby, its working. Moderation has never worked for me before. Its something I need to think about for sure.

  17. #20

    I am right there with you my friend. Just a little insight from someone over the hill already to help you be more motivated NOW. It’s even HARDER to lose it once you’re past menopause, because then you don’t have any estrogen helping you at all. DO IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. #23

    This post reads so much like “All I Know About Animal Behavior I Learned in Loehman’s Dressing Room” by Erma Bombeck . Great post! I’m still hoping to outgrow body image issues…

  19. #24
    Sara Mangan

    Oh Cathy, I had to smile when you said what your therapist said about it. I can totally hear her saying that. That’s what I love about her. She doesn’t sugar coat anything. Just tells it like it is.
    I was wondering if you would talk with her more about it. She seems so spot on with things that I would think she could help you with this too. 🙂

    I am doing a 7 day detox. Not a crazy starvation thing just taking out the bad stuff and adding in more good stuff. Today is day 4 and I feel so good!! I too love sugar. Instead of blue icees my downfall is Special K bars. I treat myself by going to our local coffee shop and buying 1. If I made a pan of them I would eat them all. Trouble is eating one does make me crave more sugar. But I do like the idea of a previous commenter. Give yourself permission to have something once a week. Maybe that will help?? And to be honest just talking about Special K bars is making me crave one.

    Good luck on your journey.

  20. #25
    Julie Finch

    I love this. I can so relate. I am on a sugar detox right now, actually an anti-inflammatory diet to be exact. so, a lot of no-nos for 3 weeks. it seems so fine for a while, but then three weeks feels like FOREVER. and like someone mentioned above, we should be able to eat everything in moderation, but my brain doesn’t really work like that! its all or nothing. Just like now, I am overly immersing myself in all things health related. Podcasts, books, anything and everything I can get my hands on! I wish it were easier to wrap our brains around that.

    But I sure love your take on all this, you so eloquently tell it like my brain thinks it. I just can’t put it into words so beautifully like you do! 🙂 so, Thanks! 🙂 and Go Cathy go! you’re doing awesome stuff here!!

  21. #30

    What Susan said.
    That’s what I was thinking. I think you are so hard on yourself, but join the club…we are all too hard on ourselves. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I just think that exercising regularly helps a ton. Just ~mentally~! You feel like you are using this body of yours and not being “lazy” so however it looks, it looks, that’s the best it’s gonna get. It’s easier to not care anymore as long as you are “trying”…if that makes any sense. As for diet…I don’t think ~any~ of us need a “diet”. We all know how it works. Work off more calories than you take in and you’ll lose weight. Eat real food. Have the occassional bit of crap. Be happy. Besides…did you see that study they did on people over 100 on 60 minutes (I think it was)? The ones who live longest are the ones that put on a little weight as they age. It’s healthy! And…what they ate…made absolutely zero difference. No sugar, tons of sugar, high carb, low carb…none of it made any difference at all.

  22. #31

    This spoke to me on every level! I’m 47, petite, but yes the middle is widening, (those Target mirrors are HELL), my marriage is in fact, a ‘freaking mess’, I have no idea who I am or where I’m suppose to be…. Thanks for your raw honesty. It’s refreshing and REAL ! Rock on!

  23. #33

    I have been practicing this new fangled “moderation” thing for the last three months after years of atkins/paleo/south beach/sugar detox/etc. type of dieting (with lots of sugar mixed in because I was pissed off at not being able to eat it!). I feel like I’m getting my brain back. Food is fun again. I can eat a brownie without hating myself. I can eat pizza without calling it a cheat meal. And I can read about other people’s diets without thinking “I need to try that!”

    For me, it is helpful to plan out what I’m going to eat the next day the night before. If I know I’m going to want a blue ICEE, I put that into My Fitness Pal first, and then I plan the day accordingly–eat more protein and veggies and fewer carbs throughout the day, and then I enjoy the shit out of that blue ICEE! (Or more likely, I’ll now only eat half of the icee or cake or whatever because I know I can have another one tomorrow if I want).

    I’ve had to remind myself DAILY that consistency is the key here. If I get mad and eat a bunch of movie popcorn, with a package of sour patch kids, followed by two glasses of wine and three brownies when I get home (it’s been done) then I’ve just added 500 calories to every day that I ate well that week. But I’ve found that as I have stopped shaming myself over food and forbidding certain foods, I haven’t needed cheat meals. I can eat what I want. And just knowing that has made me free. My diet is not the boss of me.

    If you are interested, my method has been choosing a reasonable amount of calories for me (1700cal which has allowed for slow weight loss, but no starvation), and a good breakdown of macronutrients that keeps me happy and satiated (30% protein, 35% fat, 35% carbs). I do it the night before so I can plan out my dinner with my family and then make little adjustments to what I eat earlier in the day to get close to my macronutrient breakdown. Then during the day if I eat something different, I just make adjustments to my diary in MFP. Sometimes I decide I want a chocolate chip cookie with lunch and then my burrito at night has to be tortilla-less. That’s my choice and I’m happy to make it! And now I put EVERYTHING into My Fitness Pal, even when I do go way over my limit–being honest with myself, but not angry at myself. Did it. Move on.

    It all sounds so simple and silly. I can’t believe how messed up I made myself will all those diets I called “eating healthy” for years.

  24. #34

    I should have added that what ~did~ make a difference was regular exercise…about 30-45 minutes per day….at a, of course, “moderate” level.
    There’s that word again. 😉

  25. #36
    Debbie Mc

    Glad I popped in to read your post today. You always put it right out there and call it like it really is. Love that you do. I wonder if you’re about ready to see that you are already the amazing person you’re looking for. I think we can always be a bit better and can lose another 20 pounds, but as long as we make some kind of progress every day, it’s fine. Pressure’s off. I might have ice cream tonight, but I won’t have the pie with it, and I’ll be happy and really nice to my husband. Tomorrow I’ll do better. The big M can be hard to cope with, but easier if you just run with it.
    Great post today.

  26. #37

    Jami, I too want to have a reasonable approach. Real food and treats here and there. Ive just been way overdoing the treats. I think my fitness pal is similar to lose it, right? You can log everything. : ) Love your attitude and approach.

  27. #39
    Karen H

    As usual you are feeling the same way that I am! Lost 20 pounds a few years ago gradually put it all back on so that now I’m more than 40 pounds above what I should be. My delusion of choice is that I’ll do better once my daughter graduates this week. But it’s always something different. I’ll probably use the excuse that I am missing her and missing my former job of being a full-time mom. As a former dietitian I know that moderation in all things is the key to eating well. But maintaining that moderation and balance as a human being just seems next to impossible sometimes. Thank you for putting this out there helping us all feel like we are not alone in our struggles. It really helps to know that there are other people fighting the same battle with themselves every day. My mantra is just keep keeping on! I row on an indoor rowing machine almost every day and I start every day with a positive I am going to eat well feeling. So maybe someday I’ll actually do it!
    Anyway thanks for being you!

  28. #40

    Wow! I like the part where you say “It was one of those moments where I felt like I actually saw what I looked like. Not what I think I look like. Not what I hope I looked like.” EVERY woman on earth has that moment….EVERY. LAST. ONE. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  29. #41

    “I will actively seek out ways to sabotage my efforts because it’s so much easier to be a mess than to be responsible.”

    Boy can I relate to that! WELL SAID!!
    Thanks for the insight…

  30. #43
    Becky Handforth

    Oh I so relate. I have pain issues and my trigger is sugar and carbs that turn to sugar. So when I crave the Salt and Pepper Potato chips I am aching for 2 days after that wonderful bag of chips. I sometimes wonder why we have to work so hard to get the weight off, but I guess all good things come with some bad.

  31. #44
    Cheryl W

    Cathy, thanks so much for the post. I can see from the comments that many of us are in the same situation. So here’s my 2 cents worth. I am 54 and am in the Hasta la Vista Menses phase. I put on 10 lbs without changing anything! I also have high blood pressure and some food allergies that make me cough horribly when I indulge. My biggest motivation for at least making a daily commitment to do better at taking care of this body? My 8 children (ages 32 to 7) and the fact that I need to do my best for them. No, this isn’t a guilt trip, I do it out of love for them. Just as I want them to take care of themselves I want to take care of me because of my love for them and being a good steward of the body God has given me. That’s the bottom line for me. Each day is a new day and some days I fail to do as I planned, other days I succeed. I have seen so many good comments here. Thanks to everyone for sharing!

  32. #45

    totally want i needed to read, hear, & think about. thank you for your wise honesty dear cathy! you teach us so much more than simple design in our scrapping pages without the crap. you teach us simple design in our artful lives & memories.

  33. #47
    Deb @ PaperTurtle

    God, Cathy, I LOVE this post. Everything about it. I love your honesty and how your words speak the truth for so many of us – myself included…big time. If you finally find a way to avoid sugar forever, I’ll be reading and looking forward to learning that secret. Until then, I’m going to enjoy my daily piece of chocolate (ok, probably not just ONE piece…) and rejoice in my 53 year old body. ~sigh~

  34. #49

    Cathy, do you crave sugar? I used to struggle with this then I found out I had Candida overgrowth. Since I have treated myself for that I don’t want sugar!!! I am amazed that I have been beating myself up for giving in to sugar and will finding this out, I don’t want it anymore! Just another thought!

  35. #54

    You are so awesome to share all this! I find it so inspiring and reassuring to hear that your struggles are so much like mine, and like so many women’s. Thanks for being honest and funny! I appreciate your words so much.

  36. #55

    Thank you for keeping it real, that is why I like coming to your blog. Your statement “It was one of those moments where I felt like I actually saw what I looked like. Not what I think I look like. Not what I hope to look like. But what I looked like” made me smile and want to cry that I wasn’t alone in feeling this way!! I swear sometimes I have some type of fun house mirror in my home that lets me see what I want to see and then when I get in front of a “real” mirror it is just laughing at me and saying gotcha! I first started visiting your blog for your talent with scrapbooking but is your honesty with life and its many struggles that keep me coming back. Thank you!

  37. #56

    Ok so it is truly pathetic that I can’t put a link in post, but that is the state of my computer skills. Go over to “” and watch the video “Embrace.” It should be there right at the top of the page. I love it. The bottom line is loving your body is a hard thing to do for most of us.

  38. #59

    Dearest Cathy,

    To read that so many women (and in my generation–53) struggle with the meno-pots and the “whoa, WTH smack down comforts me to no end. (I mean that in the best way possible.) I’m the first in my friend group who hit menopause early, meno-pot shortly thereafter and now don’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore. I will have to read more about the sugar issue. What? No that chocolate Haagen Daz doesn’t own me…..thanks for always sharing the honest happenings in your life. I’m not “alone.”

  39. #60
    katie squires

    Cathy I adore you! I love how you share the real, raw, honest and funny too. I identified with the part where you talked about how when you were at your “thinnest” and running etc…how not everything else was so awesome. I know for me, I have gained some weight back and frankly I don’t want the “life” it took to keep those pounds off. To be at the “thinnest” weight took so much effort ad focus other things suffered. I think my family did a bit too. I’m a little “fluffier” now, happier, food isn’t always on my mind and I am LIVING and ENJOYING this awesome life in my fit and healthy body. The sugar cycle is hard, and all the underlying emotions….gahhh 🙂 I’m for one am really proud of you for maintaining this year, that’s an accomplishment! Here’s to figuring it all out and finding your happy balance 🙂 GO CATHY GO! 🙂

  40. #62

    hey cathy,
    i just saw a headline that said “move more, eat less” with a Roseanne Barr interview…thinking she stole that from you!! 😉

    On another note, i am right there with you on this sugar thing and being responsible for what I eat. love reading your post! thanks for sharing.

  41. #63
    mary e.


    This is exactly what happened to me. I suffered debilitating migraines – too many carbs and TOO.MUCH.SUGAR. Allergy testing showed candida OFF THE CHARTS. Doc put me on a complete elimination diet, and it’s been nothing short of a miracle.

    I’ve left all sugar and all carbs (save for natural carbs from meats, veg, and very occasional fruit) and I’ve been pain free for over 52 days.

    Cutting sugar is the best thing you can do for yourself. I know I’ve said it before, and I know you feel like it’s a Mount Everest, Cathy, but once you go to the top of that mountain, crest it, and go over the other side, just like Brandie said, ALL OF YOUR CRAVINGS literally go away. I’m not making it up – exagerrating – or being a drama queen.

    You know my story of anorexia, living on sugar, exercising hours a day — the whole schpiel. The only thing I can say is that the cravings went away, my body came back to really good health, the pain vanished, and my energy is now, 6 weeks later starting to really soar.

    I still make desserts for my family, but they’re made with non-glycemic ingredients and they’re delicious! But, you know what? We don’t have dessert very often anymore – and we’re all fine!!

    One of the other best things about this whole change for me, is I have so much more TIME to think about other things. I do have to plan meals carefully, but now that I”m in the rhythm, it’s easy! And I’m spending the wasted energy I used to use thinking (or beating myself up) about food, doing creative, active, engaging things!

    I’m never going back – it’s like when you gave up smoking. You prob thought you’d never be able to do it, and then you finally just put your head down and said “enough is enough”.

    Keep on keepin’ on – you’re moving in the perfect direction!! (And with your marriage, too – which studies show to have an enormous impact on how we feel physically as our emotional and mental health is a KEY factor in our overall health!

  42. #64

    I’m also in the ‘M’ cycle and I was reading an article about the things they don’t tell you – like you crave junk food like a teenager!! WTF! I’m already overweight and now my body tells me that it only wants to eat crap and as a consequence I feel crap about myself. I should record the constant argument in my head every time I go to eat, it would be better than reality TV.

    Not sure if you’ve read Oriah Mountan Dreamer’s, The Dance:

    “What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?”

    This resonates with me every time I read it.

  43. #65
    Toni Brockliss

    I was talking to my Grandma-in-law the other day and she was complaining about her weight. Grandma is 89.
    When does the worrying and obsessing about weight end, because clearly it’s not at 89.
    I am 42. I have been on a diet since I was 14… will translate that since I was 14 I have never felt comfortable in my skin. To get to 42 and still be thinking like this is despicable. Maybe if I had taken all this worrying and obsessing for nearly 30 years and invested that energy into my brain….well I could have been an inventor or atom splitter or something…
    I’m me. I am funny and I have a great eye for fashion, I am a loving Mum, top Wife and I robot dance. When I am 89 I want this to be enough.

  44. #66

    I want it to end for myself, the obsessing. I think thats part of what Im doing in therapy… working to be a complete person and to be a person I can respect and like.

  45. #69

    I sooo love that you share this stuff, thank you! Our Target change rooms are just as bad. 100 different angles. Pretty sure many of us have thought the same thing in there, it’s usually the point I give up looking for clothes and tell myself my 10 year old top is just fine.

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