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$300 loan.

Important note: I’m a big fan of pieces of writing cataloged in a series for both their organization appeal and for the anticipation of the next entry. Blogs clearly work in that regard, but I do my best to give you “sub-folders” for ease of reading. Some of the series I’ve previously created haven’t quite taken off yet, but this is the newest attempt: My Weight Loss. I’ve been looking for a way to break down my weight-loss journey step-by-step, based on the great feedback and requests I’ve received from readers. So you can read this series on its own, or consider it a weekly (or monthly) challenge if you are working on weight loss or improving your health as a personal goal. Note that it is called “My Weight Loss” for a reason: I’m a health journalist, not a nutritionist or certified life coach, and these are tips and tricks that worked for me, pulled from the wisdom of my own doctors and health team, as well as the pages of Experience Life and trusted wellness blogs. Please consult your doctor for tailored advice.

As I mentioned above, I’ve been very touched by the feedback on my How I Did It story, live now on our website and featured in the September issue of the magazine. Some people have shared their own challenges and deep, dark monsters that hold them back from change, and I feel honored to be trusted with that information. Not everyone is working on weight loss, and it’s prompted some in-depth conversations about career paths, relationships, and goal setting.

One of the themes in the feedback has been: But how exactly did you get started?

So I thought, Why not unpack it a bit more? In the process, it’ll help me reaffirm the good work I’ve already done while prompting me to move to the next level in my weight-loss goal.

Three years ago, when I started Project Me, I was researching story ideas for the magazine and honing my knowledge via our archives and extensive in-house library. Not everyone has time to keep up with their reading lists (or maybe you’re like me in sometimes stretching out that book for a few months instead of a few weeks), but if you can, do as William Faulkner suggested:

“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” —Faulkner, circa 1951

(Please don’t throw your laptops out the window.)

When you can’t read it all, get the best CliffsNotes. For health, I see that as our tips at and our app, “101 Revolutionary Ways to Be Healthy.” Each actionable tip has corresponding articles, so you can understand the big whys in what you’re doing.

In my complicated relationship with food, I realized I had to examine why and when I was eating certain foods that I thought I shouldn’t, and eliminate them from my diet. So:
Eliminate Trigger Foods — When I started:
I cut soda. All soda, including diet, which is even more insidious because its fake sugars trick your body. Just a bunch of jerks, those diet sodas, and I would drink two or three every day, since I was about 15 years old.

Make a Swap: I couldn’t resist the fizz, so I started drinking sparkling water instead. Flavored, or plain with slices of lime or splashes of pomegranate or cranberry juice (the latter being a treat, to keep my sugars in check, so just a glass or two with juice per week). I was surprised at how good this swap felt, and how, after only a week, I no longer craved a soda. What else helped: research. The more I understood just how bad diet soda (and other sodas, which usually feature high-fructose corn syrup as its main ingredient) was for my body, the less desirable it became. I started to see it as a can of chemicals — not exactly a thirst-quencher.

Eliminate Trigger Foods — What I’m doing now: My current trigger food is other sweets, like the flourless dark chocolate cake sold by the slice at the co-op. It’s rich and smooth and its deliciousness keeps me up at night. I felt like I was good to split it with my friend during our lunch yesterday, but I’m still thinking about it today. And I’ve been eyeing the ice-cream bar left in the freezer by a certain someone. Clearly, I need to cut out sugar for awhile until I feel like I can indulge only occasionally. (Sugar is addictive, as you may already know simply by example, or by reading “Sugar Shock.”)

So, are you up for the challenge? Think about the one food you can eliminate this week (even better, this month!) and don’t eat it all week. Donate it to coworkers (sorry) or a food shelf, or yes, trash it. Do it and be proud.

I’ll report back on striking sugar next week.

raw sugar
Raw Sugar like this one sits in my pantry. I’ve contemplated eating a spoonful. It may be a better choice than white sugar, but only in moderation — and definitely not right now when my sugar cravings are strong.

Thoughts to share?

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