On Top of the World – Kicking the Sugar Habit

On Top of the World – Imagine Dragons 

When’s the last time you felt on top of the world? What got you there? I know what’s getting me there. The decision to get there. It all starts with a decision. 

On self nurturing, binge eating, thyroid recovery and Type II Diabetes reversal through kicking the addiction to sugar…it’s all about learning how to love yourself differently. Consider this Part I of many…

So, I vowed to ‘give’ myself a summer retreat. I’m going nowhere for holiday. Okay, that’s a lie. I got creative and booked in to a friend’s beautiful flat in the town centre of this beautiful little German town called Bad Nauheim. I’m escaping the Saudi desert heat for almost four of my nine weeks off this summer. I made this decision also so that I could get some rest and get this bod in shape.  

It’s been a busy Year Two on the new job. And I am absolutely mercenary about saving for my first home. It’s time, baby. Keeping that goal close to the chest. Very close. But weight loss is up front and centre and this is about that. I’m getting away to vary the surroundings, but my goal is the same: shedding the heaviness of life. 

It was cheap: cost me the flight to get there from Saudi Arabia and that’s it. I may as well be staying in the best bed and breakfast place in town. It’s right in the heart of Bad Nauheim! There’s a grocer on the street below. I wanted to continue my writing for the summer and allow myself the distraction of some new views, greenery, schnitzel and – yes – beer. German beer.

My Canadian friend and her boyfriend have a beautiful sense of aesthetics, which I adore. Go and seek beauty is a motto of mine, and from pics I’ve seen, it’s a beautiful little flat full of colour, books and plants with a patio overlooking the market street with its cafes and restaurants – and maybe a cobble street, I hope. Just my thing. They have a beautiful white Yorkie who’s going to be my companion for three weeks. That’s right: I’m dog-sitting, too. 🙂

It just goes to show, if you’re creative, you can help someone out and gift yourself with an amazing holiday. love this whole trend in house swapping. Not that this is exactly that, but I have a few friends who do it and it’s a creative way to get around, don’t you think?

Now, according to this Wikipedia article, this little dream town has a rather checkered past (ie. the Nazis were based there before WWII – ugh ugh ugh – but the American forces occupied this town after, so it was never bombed during the 2nd World War…and Elvis lived there – oooooh!). But what interests me is this: Bad Nauheim is “a world-famous resort, noted for its salt springs, which are used to treat heart and nerve diseases. A Nauheim or “effervescent” bath [is] named after Bad Nauheim.” Or as my friend put it: it’s the town of ‘cures’. I never really took in the significance of this before, but sitting where I sit today I’m thinking: right on…how perfect!

I might have to partake in some of the ‘cures’ of Bad Nauheim. That said, it’s really the synchronicity of my going to a ‘cures’ town that gets me. Why, you ask? 


Following the ending of a significant relationship, my body literally went into shock some years back. It took about a year for the effects to be felt but one day I noticed my hands shaking uncontrollably and thought, “How strange.” I wasn’t in pain. My hands were just trembling. It took a month before I checked in within a doctor to discover that I had hyperthyroidism. At the same time I discovered I had developed Type II Diabetes. 

Now, it was and wasn’t a shock.

Allow me to tell you the story I have told my students for many years.

I have always been a lover of junk food. Burgers, fries, candies, chips all of it. By chips, I mean the North American kind – crisps to you Brits and Aussies – but also ‘chips’ from the English chippy. In fact, I have long been addicted to junk food, and I just love food! One of the greatest pleasures in life and one of the things we are most prone to abusing, because we have to deal with our bodies needing it every single day.

I began to get into a strange routine, a few years before I left Saudi Arabia in 2007, where I would stop at the supermarket on the way home, buy a big bag of Lays chips – cheese, three ice cream Cornettos, maybe an ice cream sandwhich, a few chocolate bars – Galaxy Caramel, mmmmm, licorice if it could be found, popcorn, and who knows what else. I would go home, turn on world news or a movie and begin: ice cream first, then another, then a third, then chips, then maybe some chocolate, then pass out for three hours and wake to realize it was dark and the sun had gone down (it goes down by 7 PM in Saudi in the summer, earlier in winter, all year long). I would then nibble on the rest of that crack all night long. That was dinner. Every single Wednesday (the then ‘Friday’ in Saudi) for weeks and weeks and weeks, months and on and off for some years. 

If I didn’t eat that, I ordered in from the Turkish restaurant and gorged on that, which at least was real food, but always in amounts that were excessive. Humous, bread, tabouli salad, fatoosh salad, healthy things but in amounts far too much for this body. Of course, shish tawook – barbecued chicken. The next day, I would finish it off.

In between these kinds of binges, I would eat ‘normally’ or in a matter that attempted to compensate for this. Slowly the weight crept on. I mean, a lot of weight crept on. Boredom, I feel, impacted my life. But then I’ve always loved delicious tasting junky food. I never noticed quite how much because the mirror lies and you can look in the mirror and still recognize you’re beautiful even with a few extra pounds. But the weight kept creeping on and the scale number went up. It was frustrating. Knowing what was happening and knowing how frustrated I was, I wasn’t able to stop this. I was not ready to. 

In fact, I knew and often told others, “I am going to give myself diabetes. I’m killing myself with sugar.” I knew then that I was passing out from a sugar overload, much like an alcoholic does with booze. But what was underneath that? Emotional pacification. I was an emotional eater and still can be, if I don’t watch it. Food is comforting!!! Holy sh*t. That’s evil. I was in my own rather sad way secretly trying to quell a variety of emotional ills that I wasn’t managing better. Surely, I had long been a sugar addict and couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. Oh, but I did. 

Thankfully, I had a doctor who lovingly gave me a big, hopeful kick in the pants. My GP in Qatar was a lovely squat lady from Iraq with a rough looking exterior…a slight beard…and I (I feel guilty saying this) remember thinking: is that my doctor…no way, nope, I want a new one. She looked like a tough grannie and I didn’t like tough people. They scared me.

In fact, she was a genuinely compassionate and motherly expert who had a vast knowledge of homeopathic and natural remedies in addition to her 25 years of modern medical scientific knowledge. She told me, “You need to lose 10 pounds, immediately. You can reverse this.” It all began with the one thing I could control: my diet and exercise. Everyone should have such a doctor. For she was talking truth.

And I have been working at this for a while now…with positive results. First off, two years later, following all medical advice from the UK, I reversed the hyperthyroidism. It’s gone. I’m good. Everything is stable and normal. I watch my stress levels!

Secondly, my T2D is very under control and looks like ‘pre-diabetes’, on medication – Metformin. But that’s not good enough, and I’m going all the way with this. I will reverse this disease, come off this medicine like so many do and have, and I will keep this at bay…which that brings us to today…

After working out again last night, this time just two workouts – I’m not into perfectionism – I dropped a pound. A glorious pound. And posted this (pics of me and my brunch) on my Facebook feed today: 

For, you see, I actually know better, know what my body needs and have been studying this for years.

I am on a summer intensive, exercising, cooking for myself, reducing all calorific and inflammatory evils and feeling GREAT.

I’m working out three times a day this summer, because I can, and the routine will change up in Germany, but the point is: I’ve cleaned up my diet, gone low-sugar (very low but not puritanically low) and am following mostly a modified paleo diet, though I eat a minimum of fruit (ie. berries, pomegranate, a sliver of apple or sometimes orange) and mix it in with protein or fat when I do – nuts – meat – or cheese on the days I feel I want that.

Amazing how the body responds. It ain’t rocket science. But it demands the will to change. 


So, the song I chose today ‘On Top of the World’ reflects two things for me: a hard won recovery from heartbreak in life and the effects of it and the importance of dancing when you feel good (and maybe when you don’t, eh? It’s a great workout trick – dance if you hate aerobics…I do in my house when the gym isn’t calling me).


Now you…

Are you one of those super sensitive souls? You feel everything? Internalize everything? Don’t know how to work that sh*t out of your system without first putting yourself through the ringer and ripping yourself apart emotionally and physically first?

You a binger? On what? Do you want to stop?

Why not begin today? Think of the rewards.

But more than that…perhaps what helped me will help you.

Consider how miserable you feel inside, though you fight it and you put a good ‘face’ on professionally and even personally. Now, really consider how you really feel…and think about this…are you going to do it alone? Or do you need help? If you’re doing it alone, then dig in.

And if, like me (I’ve really just discovered this, this past year), if you think you can do better with support, then get support. 

I use all sorts of tools and strategies to help myself and others. I also use confessional writing on Facebook to somehow bring my friends and family along for the journey. It psychs my creative brain up and keeps me accountable.

We’re all different. What will it take for you? Here for you if you need a helping hand. 

To your success and happiness,


On Top of the World – Imagine Dragons

(Lyrics below this fabulous other live performance, though the volume is a bit low)

If you love somebody
Better tell them while they’re here ’cause
They just may run away from you

You’ll never know quite when, well
Then again it just depends on
How long of time is left for you

I’ve had the highest mountains
I’ve had the deepest rivers
You can have it all but life keeps moving

I take it in but don’t look down

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.

I’ve tried to cut these corners
Try to take the easy way out
I kept on falling short of something

I coulda gave up then but
Then again I couldn’t have ’cause
I’ve traveled all this way for something

I take it in but don’t look down

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.

Oooooooo… OoooAhhhhhOoooAhhhhh [2x]

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child

And I know it’s hard when you’re falling down
And it’s a long way up when you hit the ground
Get up now, get up, get up now.

And I know it’s hard when you’re falling down
And it’s a long way up when you hit the ground
Get up now, get up, get up now.

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.


Whole concert: 

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