A True, Sad Tale of Epic Failure

An apt title could be better described as “Woe is Me, well deserving of your no-pity, shake your head in disappointment and snickering at my predicament with your “Yeah right, I told you so” retort that I would break down and that my willpower is not as rock solid as I thought.”

Yep, you called it.  Read at your own risk.

It was October 31st.  Tuesday.  Halloween.  A fitting, final day for one Edwin Tanedo enjoying his last all-out day of sugar.  You see, weeks ago he had visited his doctor and upon leaving, the wise doc’s words haunted Edwin.  “Cut out the sweets and the sugar.”  I have friends that have gone sugar-free, some on 30-day challenges, some on 90-day challenges, and some who stopped cold turkey and never looked back.  Surely I could do a 30-day, no-added sugar challenge.  No problem!

Yeah yeah, I am aware that there is lots of added sugar in things like salad dressings, ketchup, crackers, etc.  I’m not totally going to be 100% sugar free.  I allowed myself trace amounts – perhaps up to 5g of added sugar per day – ideally it would be less than 1g of sugar per day, but I was realistic that some things I enjoy do have added sugar.  For example, two tablespoons of Skippy peanut butter has 3 grams of sugar.  I would do 1 tablespoon of peanut butter to add to my sliced apples, which is 1.5 grams.  So yeah, not 100% sugar free, not super hardcore, but I would totally avoid the easy things like ice cream, doughnuts, cakes, candy, etc.  No sweat.

And for the first 29 days, no problem.  I passed up cookie samples, free treats at art gallery openings, pies at Thanksgiving, chocolates shared among co-workers, peanut M&Ms offered by sabotaging “friends” (that’s you Mike!).  Eh, I’m better than that.  I can overcome, I can conquer, I have willpower and commitment!  Yes, I had that.  Until day 29.75.

This evening Lisa and I were invited to the new McMenamins Cedar Hills Pub to check out the new digs before tomorrow’s public opening.  As Cosmic Tripsters (a loyalty program of McMenamins), we could order anything off the menu gratis.  Drinks were also generously discounted, but this was a great chance to try things we might not ordinarily order on a random visit.  And what we had was super good, especially the dry fried Brussels sprouts and ‘Oktoberfest’ soup… and then came the offer for dessert.  You know where this is going.

I couldn’t say no.  Even after the waiter apologized for running out of the Purple Haze Marionberry cobbler, I had an out.  But Edwin passing up free food, free dessert?!!  No way.  That’s not me.  And so I ordered the dessert sampler.  I cared, yet didn’t care.  I knew what I was doing.  There was no guilt.  Okay, no guilt then, but maybe now, yes, perhaps.  But I made my choice.  And I gotta live with it.  And probably the most disappointing part was that after all of the yummy food we had, the desserts were just not spectacular.  I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t overwhelmed with sheer ecstasy.  My friends had warned me that once you get back to sugar, things will taste sweeter, maybe too sweet.  Maybe that is what happened here, I don’t know.  All I know is that my momentary act of weakness and giving into the cravings and acceptance of the added sugar wasn’t worth it.  I had just another hour to go, and I failed (my day 29 is actually day 30, since I had previously planned to fast after tonight’s dinner until the morning of December 1st).  Oh woe is me!

So be it.  I almost made it.  And 29 days is better than 21 is better than 14 is better than 7.  I’m not perfect, but I’ll take it.  Over these last 4 weeks, I lost three pounds.  My portion sizes were about the same, the only thing different was avoiding added sugars.  I am certainly more aware of where sugar lurks.  Just for fun, I frequently check food labels on boxes just to see how much sugar there is.  Yesterday I was at Costco, and there was a special for Famous Dave’s Cornbread mix.  I love cornbread!  Especially from Famous Dave’s BBQ restaurant.  But check it out:  the very first ingredient is sugar, followed by yellow corn meal.  One serving, which is 1.25 oz, has over 16 grams of sugar.  For comparison, three Oreo cookies have 14 grams of sugar.   The American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than 36 grams of added sugar per day.  It’s crazy how much added sugar is out there, hiding out, so even if I failed in my no-sugar 30 day challenge, at least I gained enough valuable insight to make better food choices moving forward.

Sure, I’ll still enjoy my sweets, might even go overboard every now and then.  But after the warnings from my doctor, reading up on the health issues, discussing with my friends, and watching documentaries, I am confident (but not cocky overconfident) that I can control my sugar cravings.  It is about moderation and portion size, but also making sensible choices and conscious decisions about when I put sugar into my system.  So while the old Edwin would happily take a free (yucky) powered donut hole at the Fred Meyer Black Friday sale, the new Edwin will happily pass.  There are just many more treats that are better.  Why settle for mediocre?

And so on this final day 29.75, I am not defeated.  I am okay with how this all went down.  I had many, many successes, and one glaring failure, but I am happy and content with myself.  If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now (and how the dessert actually tasted), I would definitely pass up that free dessert sampler.  But what is, is.  And I can live with that.

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