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Archive for April 21st, 2010

  • Day 54: Magical Thinking, the Donate Button and the Boston Red Sox

    Date: 2010.04.21 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 2

    So yesterday I put a DONATE button on this blog.  It’s a common widget on a lot of blogs. It  basically says, hey nobody is paying me to write this content so can you give me something to offset my costs?

    To someone who has been financially independent since the age of 21 and never relied on anyone for money, the DONATE button on blogs seemed pathetic and desperate. I mean, why write a blog if you have to beg for money?

    Then yesterday, out of the blue, it seemed like a good idea.  Am I desperate for money? No?  But do I get paid for writing this blog? No.

    I have Google AdSense ads on my blog to monetize it the way a lot of bloggers do. However, you need a TON of pageviews per day to make anything more than enough money to go to McDonald’s once a month.

    So I put a DONATE button on the blog.  Then it occurred to me:  Who’s to say someone, a secret admirer of the blog, would make a huge donation.  Hopefully anonymously. Just because he or she could. Just for the hell of it.

    How fun would that be to get a big fat donation courtesy of PayPal?

    See, that’s my magical thinking at work.  People have mocked my magical thinking before -- most notably in 2004 when my hometown team, the Boston Red Sox, won the World Series for the first time in 86 years.

    Curse of the Bambino?  What curse?  We were just pacing ourselves!

    The American League Championship series that year was enough of  a nail-biter. The Sox lost the first three games against the Yankees. At that specific point, it looked totally hopeless. The Bosox had choked again.

    However, I had this strange feeling.  It was so bad, the Sox losing the first three games of the ALCS, it looked as if they’d lose fast and limp away -- the World Series win yet again an impossible dream.

    But because it was so hopeless, my instinct was this was the very thing the Sox needed: to be nailed to the wall with all odds against them.  I don’t know about you but that’s the kind of stress and pressure I enjoy.  It brings out the best in me.  I think it’s an Irish quality -- and you know Boston is a Irish town.

    So I told my friend Gale the Dodger fan in LA, “You know I think the Sox are going to win this and then they’re going to go on to the World Series and win that.”

    Her scorn was palpable, even over the telephone.

    “That’s your magical thinking again,” she said.

    P.S.  The Sox came from behind in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the playoffs and played an incredible 14 innings before winning the pennant and going to the World Series.

    I could barely sleep at night it was so exciting. I even drafted all my California friends into being Red Sox fans -- at least in 2004.

    P.P.S.  Then the Red Sox won the World Series in four straight innings, knocking off the Cardinals in a 1-2-3-4 punch.

    Gale called seconds after the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 1986. She called me “The Oracle” this time and said she was bowing down to the phone.

    I believe in magical thinking.

    I think someone will donate $100,000 to this blog. Why not? Life is a crazy adventure.

    Never give up.  Or so Winston Churchill told us.

    Go Red Sox.  I love you.

  • Day 53: My Most Embarrassing Sugar Addict Moment Involved Whipped Cream

    Date: 2010.04.21 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    No, stop, it’s not what you think – unfortunately. I haven’t had many embarrassing moments involving candy or desserts – maybe because I don’t hide my vice. I’ve always eaten candy right out in the open, no secret binging for me.

    I do remember once when I was living in New York and someone noticed two empty boxes of Haviland thin chocolate peppermints sticking out of my trash.  But that’s so boring it would get me kicked out of Overeaters Anonymous for even telling such a yawn story.

    But one time qualifies as embarrassing:

    One of my favorite cheap sugar fixes is whipped cream.  The kind of plain whipped cream that comes in an aerosol can and you can buy in any supermarket in the U.S. or Europe. Normally I put some in a bowl.  However, one time an entire can somehow migrated into my bed – when I was alone.

    I apparently forgot about it until one day when a platonic male friend (could this get any more boring?) was at my place and decided to take a quick nap on my bed.  What did he find?  You guessed it – a can of whipped cream stuck down somewhere in the sheets.  He only mocked me for about an hour or so and then forgot about it. Lucky for me he was also a bit of a sugar addict himself and couldn’t ridicule me too much.

    I recovered this memory when reading an email from Meg Bozman, honorary U.S.-based correspondent for A Year Without Candy.  Meg’s a member of the Wednesday night kick-sugar tele-coaching seminar led by Connie Bennett of

    Most people might find eating plain whipped cream odd.  Not sweetfreaks.  Here’s Meg’s email to everyone in Connie’s group, reprinted with her permission, about her love for whipped cream, which morphs into her take on what it’s like to drastically reduce the amount of sugar she’s eating.

    Meg’s rather cool goal is to be able to eat sweets just once or twice a month and she’s succeeding so far:

    Hey everyone,

    Whipped cream is another of my favs. Love love LOVE IT! Cool whip is good, but I prefer the redi-whip stuff  – airy & fluffy & sweet. OK, sorry, I’ll refrain from further description. ;)

    We were in a rush Saturday to hit the road for our 3 hour trek to my Mother-in-Law’s place & stopped for a late lunch of fast food. Since we were rushing, I ran in to grab the food while my hubby got some gas. I got the drinks first & DH got a milkshake. They add HEAPS of whipped cream to the top & a cherry. He’s not that wild about maraschino cherries & often lets me have them along with several spoonfuls of the cream. There was a bunch actually sticking out from the top of the little domed plastic lid. I almost instinctually went to lick the protruding portion, but I stopped myself.

    I stood there holding this drink, waiting for our chicken sandwiches & thinking how crazy it was for me to not have any. Uncharacteristic! This isn’t Meg!

    But then I realized, resisting wasn’t that bad. It was just a brief, habitual urge to lick the whipped cream, but after resisting that urge, it just seemed like life… it was just the way it is to not have any. The same way I wouldn’t lick the whipped cream off the milkshake of the person standing next to me! The same way I don’t eat bacon (don’t like it) etc. I just don’t eat it.

    I’m at 3 weeks as of tomorrow with no dessert. I think I’ll wait until the weekend, then have one sweet treat the 2nd weekend of every month. (Away from the office & the temptations of office candy & when I can go enjoy something with my family.)

    I’m very interested to see how this evolves & if I’m able to ‘keep the lion controlled’ in this “once a month cage.”  But I feel like I have to try it. I don’t want to say, “I’m never EVER having it again until the day I die.” Maybe I’ll find once every 3-4 months is better, I don’t know. But that’s my goal for now & I feel pretty good about it. I feel like I NEED to try it out.

    & certainly this weekend I will be watching myself like a science experiment to see how I feel after having something.

    In other news, 3 weeks off desserts & I’ve nearly lost a dress size! I got my period yesterday & it actually took me by surprise – no moody PMS like last month! (Last month, I was so weepy & emotional, I hadn’t felt that way since I was a teenager!)

    I also feel like I’m EVEN more aware of eating healthy than I was before. I miscalculated & we had to stop on our journey for snacks for my son (I continue to be astounded at how much he eats!) I had nuts in the car, but he didn’t want any, so I stopped & grabbed a yogurt & felt guilty feeding him the high-fructose-corn-syrup laden crap. :( (he isn’t wild about fresh fruit, unless pureed, so I didn’t even buy the melon slices or an apple.)


  • Day 53: Selina Gave Up Candy For a Year at 16!

    Date: 2010.04.21 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    Budding journalist Selina MacLaren (today, left) was a 16-year-old student at West Valley Christian School near LA when she wrote about her Year Without Candy. Now she’s a 2o-year-old political economy and English major at UC Berkeley and reporter for the Daily Cal.  See how she coped with her Year Without Candy. I think Selina is a great writer. She is considering journalism as a career, although it’s a tough profession to enter these days, with print media on its last legs.  If anyone wants to hire Selina for a reporting job or writing project, you can email her at:

    Article reprinted from LA Youth, a newspaper “by and about teens.”

    By Selina MacLaren

    On New Year’s Eve 2004, I decided that I would make the ultimate resolution—no candy for one year. There is always candy in my house, and my mother, blessed with a good metabolism, considers candy an essential food group. I wanted to avoid this addiction, so I kissed good-bye to Reese’s Pieces, lollipops, Hershey’s Kisses and Jelly Bellies.

    Giving up my indulgent habit was the price I decided to pay for the sake of a healthier lifestyle that could improve my mood (after the sugar withdrawal, you have more energy and fewer mood swings), running skills for cross country, self-discipline, and eventually, long-term health.

    One of the most tempting experiences I had was immediately following New Year’s, when I was staying with relatives in Denmark. People in that country are notorious for having a sweet tooth, and it was an extreme test of my discipline to turn down the mounds of marzipan, chocolate and licorice candies offered each day.

    Usually, the Danish cookies were enough to satisfy my cravings since I still allowed myself to have cookies, cake and ice cream. But sometimes candy was the only dessert offered, and I would sip my water and desperately try not to look.

    Temptation was everywhere.

    I struggled to stay up all night at sleepovers, surrounded by Reese’s wrappers and Red Vines, but forced to eat fruit, which definitely does not offer the sugar high that the candy gave my friends.

    My family went to the Jelly Belly factory when the company had just created its new M&M-like candies, and the overwhelming scent of chocolate on the tour made it agonizing to refuse the free samples they handed out.

    My family had to get used to the fact that chocolate wasn’t a present or souvenir for me, and in their flexible tolerance of my decision, they felt obligated to buy me unique presents. They usually decided upon tea, and consequently, fed my newly acquired tea addiction.

    The strict and enduring resolution was the subject of many conversations among my friends. All summer, my friends debated whether chocolate-covered strawberries qualified as fruit or candy, only to draw more people into the debate and never reach a conclusion.

    And for some reason, friends found it amusing to try to seduce me by annoyingly waving candy in front of my face, occasionally jabbing it between my tightly sealed lips.

    At first, I had to fight the temptations by substituting candy with soda or ice cream. But after five months, I lost my cravings for candy and stopped viewing it as food at all. After eleven months, I forgot what certain candy, such as candy canes and white chocolate, tasted like.

    Candy was inedible in my mind—artificially flavored, with unnatural textures and colors made in factories. Of course, much of the food we eat today is “factory-made” rather than nature’s true child, but candy even more so. After months of watching the bowl of sweets pass me by, those sweets became like plastic in my mind.

    During Easter, my sister gladly took my candy, and I avoided trick-or-treating during Halloween. But as soon as I thought I had overcome my cravings, Christmas season came and candy was everywhere. When my school sold fudge in the cafeteria, I watched with adoring eyes as my friends licked the soft, sticky brown sweetness from their fingers.

    Teachers handed out candy canes, and I would politely say no over and over until I was tired of the puzzled reactions and took the candy to give to a friend. The biggest obstacle was no longer my craving, but the pressure from other people and the constant explanations I had to give.

    New Year’s came—success! Ten minutes after midnight, I held a green M&M in my hands and stared at it with anticipation. A crowd gathered around me, wanting to see my reaction to my first bite of candy in a year.

    At first I wasn’t sure how to eat the M&M—was I supposed to chew it and get that chalky chocolate feeling between my teeth or suck it into disintegration?

    The taste was familiar and brought back memories of the careless handfuls of M&Ms I used to eat. But not wanting to gorge right away, that M&M was the only candy I ate that night. Since then I’ve only eaten candy on Fridays (to make sure I don’t become addicted again).

    I’m proud of my willpower.

    Not eating candy didn’t make me a better runner, help me lose weight, or improve my mood like I had hoped it would, probably because I was still eating other sweets. However, I now have more confidence in my self-discipline and I know that I can fix my bad habits if I really dedicate myself. And apparently I’ve also affected others—two of my friends are trying the candy boycott this year.

    Many people were amazed that I did it—or that I even wanted to try. Of the many motives I had, honestly the main reason was that I wanted a really tough resolution. I am a resolution addict.

    Since my childhood, I’ve filled notebooks with lists of “Habits to Break” and “Habits to Make,” seeking eternal improvement. I believe that everyone has this drive within them—babies want to speak and walk, children grapple with reading and writing, adults rejoice over a raise at work or lost pounds—and we continuously want more of ourselves.

    Resolutions teach people how to remember their goals, focus on them, and work toward them. Not only do they change your perspective and give you a sense of achievement, but they also teach you to forgive yourself for the goals you could not meet (example: the 15 times I’ve stopped biting my nails for a few weeks, only to resume during a stressful test).

    New Year’s is by far my favorite holiday for all the obvious reasons—a time to start anew, appreciate the last year, leave behind regrets and, of course, the parties. But most of all, I am delighted that the entire Earth can join in the human desire to be better.

    New Year’s is a time to forgive oneself, test oneself, and ultimately, experience eye-opening lessons. This year, I have a new challenge: I’ve given up chips and French fries. I don’t even have cravings for that salty crunch … yet.

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This American candy addict/journalist in France writes about quitting candy – and all desserts – for at least one year beginning Feb. 28, 2010. Follow my progress – or relapses – as I delete candy corn, moelleux au chocolat, peppermint patties, Carambars, tarte tatin, After Eights, crème brûlée, Nutella, tapioca pudding, mint chocolate chip ice cream, Haribo Polkas, M & Ms and more from my life. Learn about the evils of white sugar and its effects on mood and health from my interviews with experts and friends! Let the sugar fog lift!

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