8 Lessons learned failing the “no sugar challenge”
Well, I’m embarrassed to report that, after posting three weeks ago about my great start, I now get to report on lessons learned failing the “30-day no sugar challenge.”
Technically, I wrote about a 10-day no sugar challenge proposed by the documentary Fed Up, but I was undertaking 30 days of no sugar.
But whether 10 days, or 30, I failed.
However, I did learn a lot [about myself and sugar] which I felt was worth sharing.
The goal, set by my friend Gary, was to avoid anything with sugar in it for 30 days.
Here’s why I failed
1. SUGAR IS IN EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!! Even if it doesn’t say “sugar,” there are 56 other terms for it – see the chart in my original post.
2. I didn’t read all the nutrition labels I should have. Such as my organic hemp protein powder. I don’t know why there’s sugar in it, but there was, and I didn’t read the nutrition label until 10 days in.
That was just one of many sugar surprises.
3. Then there were foods already opened in my refrigerator that I hated to throw away [my mother drilled into me a long time ago not to waste food!] So I ate them as long as the sugar content was very low, such as 2 grams per serving.
4. Then there was the problem of denial: I have developed a habit of having a Starbucks Grande Soy Chai on the days I teach seminars. Since I don’t drink coffee, it’s my little bit of caffeine boost to pump me up for the day.
I didn’t look up the sugar content of a Grande Soy Chai until last week, by which time I had downed five of them in three weeks.
I was in for a mega-shock: 42 grams in one chai – almost twice the daily maximum of sugar recommended by the American Heart Association!
So no more Starbucks Chai for me.
What were the lessons from failing?
FIRST LESSON: what is failure anyway? – it’s not meeting an intended objective.
But perhaps my objective wasn’t realistic.
I’m not saying this to make excuses, but I honestly believe eating no sugar for any period of time beyond a few days is almost impossible if you live in the U.S.A. It’s a main ingredient in 80% of our food supply.
SECOND LESSON: re-evaluate your goal.
If your goal was unrealistic, re-set a new, more achievable goal.
Why did you set the goal? What was your intention? Perhaps with some adjustments to your plan, you can still achieve the goal. I wanted to cut down on sugar and lose weight. I achieved that with my modified plan.
Space shuttles are technically off course 90% of the time because they are heading towards a moving target. So they constantly correct course. We can do the same.
So, having learned that no sugar at all was an unrealistic target, I changed my goal to: No more than 24 grams of sugar a day. This is what the American Heart Association recommends for women [and 36 grams for men].
I can do that. And even averaging in my five Starbucks Chai Teas, I did succeed at being well below 24 grams most days.
THIRD LESSON: reevaluate your plan and be better prepared next time: I had a poor plan because I didn’t read all labels.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
And build up to it. No one runs a marathon without having run before! Work up to it. I needed time to research what had sugar in it and to find alternatives. Instead, I jumped on the bandwagon the day Gary suggested the challenge.
FOURTH LESSON: what did you learn? – that may be the most important thing of all.
“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” John Wooden
FIFTH LESSON: Reframe the failure. What went right?
There’s really no such thing as failure – only feedback and learning.
Thomas Edison undertook 1,000 attempts before developing a successful prototype for the light bulb.
Asked by a reporter, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?”
Edison replied: “I didn’t fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
I failed at “no sugar at all” but I succeeded at having less than the maximum recommended daily amount for 30 straight days. Yay me!
Don’t beat yourself up for not achieving a goal when you’ve actually achieved more than you ever would have before.
“Reach for the stars; even if you fail, you might still touch the moon.”
SIXTH LESSON: Take responsibility for your results.
I take full responsibility for not reading all the labels, and choosing to eat some things I knew had sugar, no matter how little sugar.
Taking responsibility is how we grow character and learn. Research shows that if you take personal ownership of the outcome, you’re more likely to learn from and work harder after that mistake.
Life is about learning, adjusting and celebrating.
SEVENTH LESSON: Celebrate what went right, not what went wrong. I probably averaged less than 10 grams of sugar a day. Pretty darn good.
Remind yourself why you want to do it. I wanted to cut down on sugar and I did. I wanted to lose weight and I did. So I celebrate that.
EIGHTH LESSON: Have a partner in your venture. Someone to help motivate and inspire you. Give you pep-talks when you’re about to falter. I didn’t consult with my friend Gary enough!
“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” Ellen DeGeneres
The only failure is not to try!
Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller “The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman” and other books on health. She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes, healing practice and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com