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.

Thirty Days of No Sugar: Days 5-12

It is day number 12 and I am still on track for keeping my goal of avoiding sugars for this month.  Days 5 and 6 were pretty easy because I fasted pretty much all day long.  Today, day 12, is also easy because I am fasting.  But those other days did present some challenges…

Day 7 was Hillsboro’s First Tuesday art walk in downtown.  Two of the art spaces I went to had a scrumptious spread of cookies, brownies, cakes and more.  But oh, they were so hard to pass up!  On day 8, Wednesday, I stopped by Great Harvest Bread company is passed on their chocolate chip cookie samples as well as their cinnamon swirl bread slice sample.

I have decided that I will not entirely eliminate all added sugars from my diet, as I will still have a few crackers here and there with my cheese.  I’m aiming for no more than about 10 grams per day of added sugar, which can be hidden in things like salad dressings and crackers.  The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests less than 200 calories per day of added sugar (50 grams) and the American Heart Association suggests less than 150 calories of added sugar (36 grams).  This data came from a Greatist.com article “Here’s How Much Sugar You’re Really Eating in a Day.”  Realistically, I’ve probably been at less than 5 grams per day of added sugar.

I have had cravings for sure, especially after a meal when I am wanting some sort of dessert.  Peanut M&Ms are my favorite, and I actually bought a big post-Halloween discounted package of the stuff on Wednesday.  But I hid it away so it is out of sight, but not necessarily out of mind.  I’ll bust open a small snack size bag on December 1st, when I will have made my goal.  But for now, I’ve been eating a lot of nuts and more fruit, though not enough vegetables just yet.  At any rate, I’m happy with my progress and I think I’ve been pretty good thus far, and plan to keep at it!

Thirty Days of No Sugar: Days 3 & 4

Big test this weekend, as Lisa and I are doing a mini-road trip up north in Seattle.  It’s been a lot of eating out and while I haven’t exactly been super duper healthy as far as my food choices, I am aware and making the effort to be good!

Friday

Breakfast:  scrambled eggs with avocado and bacon, with roasted potatoes and buttered bread (avoided the jelly)

Lunch:  Arby’s Roast Beef classic sandwich with loaded curly fries (cheese sauce, bacon and sour cream)

Dinner:  cheese slices, apple slices, tortilla chips and guacamole as an appetizer, then the main course was white bean chicken chili with cheese and sour cream.

Saturday

Breakfast:  scrambled eggs with cheese, one maple sausage link, fried potato cubes and two Trader Joe’s gluten-free pumpkin spice pancakes with just a trace of real maple syrup.  Sure, there is some sugar in the pancakes, but Dan made them and I’m not going to disregard his hospitality!

Lunch:  Cheesecake Factory Carne Asada medallions with corn kernels and a bunch of steamed broccoli.  I also had three pieces of bread with butter, but no dessert!

Beverage:  got a little bit of Lisa’s hot chocolate from Starbucks and added some milk and Bailey’s Irish Cream

Dinner:  Happy hour at Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse, split small plates of ribeye sliders, flatbread pizza and grilled shrimp.  Yummy!

 

So that’s that, still haven’t succumbed to my desserts and treats and I did substitute white rice for broccoli.  Probably could have chosen something other than Arby’s, but I’m not going to beat myself over that.  It is day four and I think I’m still on track, so there!

Thirty Days of No Sugar: Day 2

Was faced with my first challenge today:  chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting.  We guided a cooking/baking class for our students, and on the menu were gluten-free chocolate cupcakes.  They looked and smelled delicious, but I held firm — come on, two days in and quit?  Puh-leeze.

Breakfast:  slice of toast with one hard-boiled egg made into egg salad

Lunch:  Yogurt with fresh blueberries, half banana and nuts.  I was surprised to see that my Plain, 2% Greek yogurt actually had 8 grams of sugar per serving!  I probably had half a serving, and I’m not going to count this as breaking my no-sugar rule.

Snack:  handful of baby carrots with hummus

Dinner:  Chicken sausage sauteed with spinach, onions and sweet potato.  Also ate handfuls of peanuts, hard to stop!

So there – aside from my peanut binge, I think I did all right.  I’m adding a few more “rules” to my daily intake:

#4- drink green tea, preferably non-caffeinated, daily

#5 – continue my intake of at least three large glasses of water per day

Day two done and in the bag.  Bring on the sugar challenge, I can do this!

Thirty Days of No Sugar: Day 1

Went to my doctor last week for my every-four-year annual physical and got some blood work done.  My test results revealed some concerns, which my doctor translated into some actions:  “Avoid fatty foods, carbohydrates and sweets.”  With a history of diabetes and high blood pressure in my family, this is some timely advice, and as a result, I have decided to go sugar-free for the next thirty days.  I know that sugar is everywhere, but I won’t be scrutinizing every single label.  I’ll be diligent in avoiding the most obvious foods — cake, cookies, candy, etc.

That’s step one, avoiding sweets.

Step two is eating more fruits and veggies.

Step three is getting more consistent exercise.

And step four is being mindful of these changes, and one way I can do this is self-reporting at theLun end of everyday on this web site.

Thus, Day 1:

Breakfast:  didn’t start off too well, as I had a free sausage breakfast biscuit at Chick-Fil-A.  It wasn’t that great, and I would not pay money for that.  I also had a bowl of Greek plain yogurt with some blueberries and half a banana.

Lunch:  bowl of my chicken rice soup with diced avocado and almonds.  Also had a handful of cashews and pistachios.

Dinner:  spinach salad with sliced cucumber, pecans and avocado-ranch dressing.  Also had one corn tortilla with refried beans and cheddar cheese.

Not so good:  finished off the last of my movie theater popcorn that I brought home from yesterday.

Bottom line:  not a bad start, could definitely be better.  But at least I had no sugar in the forms of doughnuts, cake and candy.  I’ll have to come up with a breakfast and lunch routine for my work days, and then just be careful on the weekends…