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Walking away from sugar leads to a big weight loss

By Amy Wilde

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, March 29 2011 2:29 p.m. MDT

Jana Nelson lost 132 pounds in two years by giving up sugar and picking up walking.

Amy Wilde

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1,056 Snickers Bars.

3,520 Twinkies.

10,560 Hershey’s Kisses.

Each is equivalent to the 132 pounds Jana Nelson lost since first giving up sugar nearly two years ago. Nelson went from a size "20-something" to a slim size 6, the same dress size she wore when she was 15 years old.

“I just decided to do it, to give up sugar,” Nelson said of her quest to end the unhealthy habit. “Once I put my mind to something I stick with it, it is just the deciding part that is hard.”

Admitting she may have at times been addicted to sugar, she came up with an all or nothing plan.

“I knew that I could not give in, even a little, by allowing myself a ‘sugar day,’ or just a little dessert every once in a while," Nelson said.

The truth is, Nelson admits she is scared to ever try sugar again.

“Just like an alcoholic, I know that if I go back to sugar I may not stop," she said. "So I just stay away."

Nelson, a resident of Perry, Box Elder County, is the mother of five sons and one daughter. She has been an inspiration to her children, as well as to her husband Reese, who has lost 70 pounds since he started to follow her lead. The husband and wife duo can often be found walking to the store and then home again. They would also go to the nursing home where Reese's late mother was living, which was seven miles away. But those walks never lead to the cookie jar. Instead of using sugar as a way to rid her mind of stress and anxiety, Jana Nelson now uses exercise, entering 5Ks and 10Ks, all the while gaining support from fellow Facebook friends and community members.

“At my heaviest weight I was miserable and embarrassed," Nelson recalled. "Especially for my family.”

Now her life is full of energy and vibrancy. She has triumphed over the weight that once brought her down.

“Just put your mind to it and decide what matters most,” Nelson said on her advice to other struggling with the same burden. “Do you want the food? Or do you want to feel good about yourself?”

The American Heart Association recommends women should only be consuming six teaspoons of added sugar daily, and men nine teaspoons. Yet, the average American takes in 22 teaspoons each day, nearly four times the amount recommended for women.

To begin to cut back on sugar, first pay attention to what you are eating on a daily basis. Second, cut out soda. One can contains 10 teaspoons of sugar. Third, replace your sweet tooth with fruit.

“To get away from sugar craving, or sugar fits, individual's can use fructose, fruit's natural sugar, to mediate the effects of the processed sugar or sugar substitutes,” said Annette Nay, Ph.D. “The release of sugar for fruit takes 30 minutes to an hour depending on the fiber content of the fruit. This means that you are able to have energy to get through that portion of your day.”

Nelson is proud of her break-up with sugar. Her smile and fun personality have not changed, and her laugh echoes ever strong. Now, though, her heart beats healthier, her mind thinks clearer and her legs stride stronger. So long sugar!

Amy Wilde is a writer living in Brigham City, Utah. She blogs at amywildeatmosphere.blogspot.com, or her email is wilde.amy@gmail.com.

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