Next morning after I screwed up the sugar bet, I went for a run. I thought about telling Matthew. I knew I had to. I would rather have a peaceful conscience than $10,000. That much was clear. I thought about telling you, my readers, who think I’m better than that.
I ran along the beach in Maui for an hour, and instead of enjoying the crashing waves, I cried. I cried about the $10,000 that is not easy to earn. But more, I cried about failure and my miserable sugar addiction that I have hated my whole life.
I live a disciplined life. It infuriates me that sometimes I eat something I know to be toxic, simply because I am weak. My fury over this, and watching moms feed their babies Coke in baby bottles, fueled my children’s book, The Adventures of Junk Food Dude. Of anyone, I know better. I should BE better.
When we flew to Honolulu, my friend Ben flew in, to spend the last few days with me on Waikiki Beach. He got a Coke and a couple bags of M&M’s twice a day. Dejected, I ate M&M’s with him a few times. My anxiety returned, and I realized I had not experienced it in six months. I wake up with that edgy feeling only when I’m eating sugar—even a little bit of sugar a couple times a week causes me to feel anxious. I spend the whole day trying to outrun that vague anxiety.
Thus ensued a week of eating sugar once almost every day. Partly out of my sheer depression over what I did—what did it matter anymore?
I gained three pounds. I still have most of that with me. It’s an unfriendly reminder.
Let’s just say when I got home and asked Matthew to come over to talk, I was practically on my knees. So mad at myself for wrecking a great thing. I LOVED BEING OFF SUGAR. It was hard, but struggling to choose whether to eat this or that, every single day, my whole life? That was HARDER.
I had in my mind that when I saw Matthew, I’d probably cry. But when I told him, he busted out laughing hysterically. Which made me laugh too. Not that I actually find it funny, because I don’t.
I handed him $1,000 in cash. Either an installment, if he chose that, or a penalty, I said.
And I asked him for a second chance. I said, “Let me back in the Sugar Bet. I’ll add a week onto the endpoint. You can opt out, or do whatever you want. But I want to finish. Not just for the money, but for the chance to succeed. I want to say I ate no sugar for a year. But you won, fair and square—and if you choose to take the money, I’ll give it to you, no problem.”
He tortured me for several more days, thinking about it. Then we had lunch to talk about what to do. He tried to give me my $1,000 back and I said no. It has to hurt.
As it is, I’m thankful for mercy. Matthew let me back in and I’ve been back on the wagon for a week or so. He, however, can do whatever he wants to. He’s thinking about whether he wants to finish out another six months with me, in a modified way. Maybe get twice-a-month free passes. And he doesn’t want to read labels on chips. He feels the Sugar Bet was HARD.
That night, Matthew went out at 2:30 a.m. and ate four King-sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and a Nutrageous bar. (WHOA. I think that would put me in a coma.) The next night he came over for a sauna session with me. He’d asked me to go to Zumba right before that, but I was busy.
I opened the door. I said, shocked: “What the heck is the matter with you?!” I might have said something slightly different than “heck.” Matthew’s eyes were glazed over.
He said, “I couldn’t even lift my arms in Zumba!” Keep in mind this guy is a fireball of non-stop energy until 3 a.m. every day of his life. He’s like a four-year old, kid you not. Keep in mind that he loves NOTHING in this world more than Zumba. Lives for it, really. And keep in mind that the king-size candy bar fiasco was more than 12 hours before!
Matthew learned a hard lesson, too. Not as expensive as mine.
If I screw up a second time, I’m done for. $9,000 more, no questions asked. As I write this, I’m leaving for Mexico with my kids for spring break. One of those all-inclusive resorts all along the Cancun beach, where you can have as much food as you want, all day long? My kids think it’s heaven.
BUT NO SUGAR, BABY. Matthew texted last night and said, “I think you should get a week off, for Mexico.” I said no–I need to do this. To prove it to myself.
Thank you, God, for mercy tempering justice. Thank you Matthew.
Wish me luck.