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.

Embrace the Cold

Today I am starting a new “Adventure Calls You Challenge,” inspired from an article I read from my January/February issue of Men’s Journal.  The article, “The Cold Cure,” extols the benefits of being cold.  I’ve already experimented with taking cold showers, and now I am taking it a step further by purposely being cold at certain times during the day.

Our region has experienced a cold snap over the last week, with temperatures hovering around freezing.  So today I took my first step into embracing the cold, but walking outside in my short-sleeve shirt to and from my students’ work experience.  I was cold, but not as cold as I thought I would be.  Two things helped me:  1) the mindset that this ‘cold’ was only temporary and 2) walking straight and upright to take the cold head on.

So for the next few weeks I will continue to embrace the cold, with my goal that this will be a regular thing that I will just adopt as part of my lifestyle.  To help me get through this, I will follow the guidelines as provided by the suggestions of the article.  Read on and join me!

How to Embrace The Cold: A Daily Routine to Hack Your Body

Adventure Calls My Personal Challenges: Eggplant

Never a big fan of eggplant, I try to avoid it whenever it is presented to me as a food choice.  My household growing up featured eggplant at least once a week, usually in some soup or as a main ingredient to some of our main dishes.  And I never really grew accustomed to the taste and the texture.  However, as part of my 30 “day” adventure challenge, I am trying eggplant one more time.

Fortunately on our cruise last month, I had the chance to try it not once but twice — once as an appetizer, and the second time encrusted in Parmesan as a main dish…

Verdict:  not as bad as I remember.  It helped a lot that the other food ingredients overpowered the eggplant, but overall one its own it doesn’t really have too much of a bad taste for me and the texture is bearable.  Though I will not be rushing out to the local grocery store to stock up on eggplant, at least I am okay enough to not be scared the next time I have it.  And I likely will eat it the next time I have the opportunity to do so — well, as long as I’m not paying too much for it!



Adventure Calls You Challenges: My 30 “Day” Challenge

Getting out of my comfort zone — not something I’m really good at, but I try.  There are things in this world that I don’t like to do, or maybe I haven’t tried because I don’t think I’ll like it.  Well, I have decided to create a 30 “day” list of things that I am going to challenge myself to do.  Most will probably be food challenges, but I know that I will be able to come up with more.  So this particular post will be one that is on-going as I add and complete my list — once I attempt one of the challenges listed below, I will devote an entire post to that experience!  It might not say much, might even say “Hated it!”  But at least I can keep honest with myself and meet the challenge as it presents itself.  I have no timeline, it will happen when it will happen.  So I challenge you to do the same — make your own 30 “day” challenge and give it a try!


My 30-Day Challenge List

  1. Try kombucha
  2. Meditate for ten minutes a day for at least 21 days straight
  3. Try sake
  4. Eat eggplant
  5. Eat mushrooms, and not just as some small pizza topping

Adventure Calling, #1

Adventure Calling topics are challenges we present to you, our audience, to attempt.  Some will be easy, others a little more difficult.  The whole idea is that adventures can happen every day with just the right mindset.  Are you up for this first challenge?

Our close friend recently lost his father and shared with his friends the following thoughts (edited for brevity):

“My Dad died a couple of hours ago…

The reason I’m posting a picture of pancakes with peanut butter on them is because that was his thing. It wasn’t until my late teens or early twenties that anyone else told me they had tried that.  My Dad took great joy in exposing all of my friends and anyone else to the joys of an alternative to plain old butter. 

I have perpetuated the peanut butter crusade, exposing my friends to the joy it causes. Some sneer at the idea but most try it and no one has said it wasn’t fantastic. One person not long ago, a full-fledged adult, took a bite, slowly turned to me with their eyes widening and said, “It’s like candy!” as they turned into a five-year old.

It such an automatic ritual that my basketball buddies will often finish my order for me when we have breakfast out. “He wants peanut butter with his pancakes, lots of it.” 

So I ask a small favor, if you haven’t tried peanut butter on your pancakes, I ask you to try it, it is amazing, unless you have a peanut allergy, that would be terrible. And if you do indulge in this delicacy, please tag me, I would greatly appreciate it. Whenever my next meal is, that will be it.

Note: Use warm syrup for best results”

So in honor of our friend’s father,  we took up our friend’s request this morning at the local Denny’s.  They were delicious.

Now it is your turn.