Writer tells story of losing weight in memoir/cookbook

When Stacey Morris tipped the scale at 345 pounds, she didn’t go on a diet. She became a food explor
Morris' 'before' photo, on left, when she weighed 300 pounds. On the right is the 'new Stacey,' 180 pounds lighter. (Bill Duckman)
Morris' 'before' photo, on left, when she weighed 300 pounds. On the right is the 'new Stacey,' 180 pounds lighter. (Bill Duckman)

When Stacey Morris tipped the scale at 345 pounds, she didn’t go on a diet.

She became a food explorer.

A self-described “emotional eater,” Morris embarked on an inner journey, too. Over 18 months, she lost 180 pounds, and she has kept the weight off for nearly five years.

“It starts from within. It started the day I started to love myself,” says the 50-year-old Morris. “Work on the wounds but don’t be afraid to enjoy food.”

Morris, a freelance writer, shares her story and more than 80 recipes in “Clean Comfort,” a self-published memoir/cookbook.

More than 1,000 copies have sold since it was published in April.

At her home in Loudonville, Morris tells her tale while sitting next to a big bowl of tangerines, and during the conversation, she jumps up, goes into the kitchen and returns with a Haas avocado in her hand.

“I eat them every day. Love ’em,” she says.

‘Clean Comfort’

AUTHOR: Stacey Morris

HOW MUCH: $15 at Amazon.com, Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs and the Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany

BOOKSIGNING: Morris will give a talk and sign books from 12-4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24 at Niche Gallery, 480 Broadway, Saratoga Springs.

MORE INFO: www.staceymorris.com

She offers a guest a snack — a small square of her moist and chewy Fudgy Black Bean Brownies.

“They taste like a cookie jar item but are loaded with nutrients,” she writes in the recipe, which calls not only for black beans but dates, almond butter, chia seeds and unsweetened coconut.

Morris grew up in Lake George and Queensbury. She was shy and taller than the other girls, and when she was bullied at school, she became “emotionally rattled.”

She became “a chubby girl” and her parents became the “food police,” hiding cookies and potato chips.

She graduated from Queensbury High and Adirondack Community College and studied creative writing at New York’s Columbia University.

The overweight teen became an obese adult.

She tried all kinds of diets and twice lost 100 pounds, only to gain it back.

For about 20 years, she weighed 300 pounds.

“I was literally defeated by diets since childhood,” she says.

But in 2009, her life began to change.

First, there was a visit to the doctor’s office and getting on a scale, which she had avoided for years.

Then one day, Morris was watching “Oprah” and singer Carnie Wilson of Wilson Philips was talking about how she lost weight after she discovered DDPYOGA, which was created by former wrestler Diamond Dallas Page.

Ready for change

“I was in a place where I was ready for change,” Morris said. “I was tired of miracle gimmicks.”

Morris started doing DDPYOGA by watching videos at home.

“It’s a blend of yoga, pilates and calisthenics, but it’s low impact. And it’s cardio,” she says.

“I also worked on self-acceptance. That’s a real important part of the journey. The first change is letting go of shame,” she says. “Confronting the past and long-dormant feelings can be very intense at times, but you will come out feeling freer and much more empowered.”

The next step was to “clean up” her food choices with the help of a nutritionist.

Fast food, fried chicken and potato chips were more of a problem for her than sweets.

Her new eating techniques include avoiding gluten, dairy products made with cow’s milk and processed foods.

The foundation of her food pyramid is protein from eggs, beans, fish and nuts.

“I’m not a vegan but I’m not a big meat eater. I eat beef once a week.”

She carries a container of nuts in her car, and at home, she enjoys nut butters.

Morris doesn’t really like raw vegetables or salad, so she created recipes like Zucchini Hash Browns and “Cauliflower Mousse.” She also turns veggies into juice or broth.

Morris likes goat cheese and almond milk and the “good fats” in olive oil, coconut oil and avocados.

“I had to come up with foods that I enjoyed if I was going to do this long-term,” she says.

In “Clean Comfort,” she shares recipes for baked fruits, smoothies, soups and restyled classics like eggplant parm, meatballs and chili.

Exercise is vital

Exercise is an important part of her new life. Along with DDPYOGA, she does hot yoga, long-distance walking, pilates and light weight training.

And when she needs emotional support, she turns to spiritual mentors and friends.

She ended an unhealthy long-term relationship, and three years ago, on Match.com, she met a new guy, Bill Duckman, who happens to be trained in the culinary arts.

“He helped me come up with the recipes,” she says.

Morris’ free-lance stories appear in Saratoga Living magazine and the Hill Country Observer. She blogs for the Albany Times Union and The Huffington Post.

Morris has written for the Glens Falls Post-Star, Amtrak’s Arrive magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, The Boston Globe and The Jerusalem Post.

With the publication of “Clean Comfort,” she has started helping others who want to change their eating habits, coaching them by phone.

“You just have to be patient with the process,” says Morris. “It’s OK to enjoy food and take some comfort now and then.”

Reach Gazette reporter Karen Bjornland at 395-3197 or [email protected]

Categories: Food, Life and Arts

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