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A sad update on the sugar bet….part 2 of 2

Robyn Openshaw - Apr 06, 2012 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

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.

Posted in: Lifestyle, Whole Food

32 thoughts on “A sad update on the sugar bet….part 2 of 2”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow, Robyn, you’re amazing for telling us all this. I think you have to go through it to fully know your readers.

  2. Wow! Wow! Wow! What a journey….and thank you again for your honesty. It really is refreshing to see that you struggle just as we all do. Through your transparency I am finding strength and encouragement, even though I may have my obstacles, if you can try and try again, then I can too!

  3. Anonymous says:

    All I can say is thank you for being human, real and filled with integrity. I have been on my raw journey for13 months now ( though a 90% vegetarian for over 25 years) and it is a challenge!!! But SO WORTH THE EFFORT! I love how you said, ” I know better”! When I mess up, that is what runs though my mind! You are an inspiration to so many of us…. thank you for your message, your heart and your soul and YOUR JOURNEY!!! : ) I promise, you DO continue to light the way!

  4. Anonymous says:

    You are human :o)!

  5. I deeply appreciate your vulnerability and rawness. I have suffered for a long time with the temptation of overeating at meals. So I know what this pull and desire to do something that is wrong for my body is all about. I have used EFT-meridian tapping when I have the “desire” and the results have been amazing. If you are interested I would love to share that with you and your readers!

    Much love and support,

    Elysha Maughan

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m so glad to know that you are “human” too and that I’m not the only one that “:screws up”! Thank you for sharing this! It gives me hope that I too can conquer the sugar addiction. You are someone to look up to and to just know that you have weakness and are not “perfect” with healthy eating helps me alot. Onward and Upward is my motto! Thanks for everything!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Talk about an expensive brownie! This life is a process, I think of the scripture that talks about overcoming the natural man. We all have our own addictions and things to overcome, we are mortal and in our fallen state, it makes sense why it is easy to fall sometimes. But the good news is we won’t always be like this. Someday we will be ressurected and have perfect bodies. Until then, keep trying, you are doing so great!

  8. Anonymous says:

    a few bites from one brownie after all that time w/no sugar is not a failure… it is a success…you’re crying and can’t even enjoy what should be a blissful run on the beach because you’re beating yourself up over a brownie?..I am also living a balanced lifestyle w/mostly raw foods and feel very successful over the positive things I do and put in my body…

  9. Anonymous says:

    Parts of that experience could have been my own – that you followed it up with some m&ms only marginally surprised me, because it sounded right in line with the strange spiral that follows a lapse. I do that all the time. I tell myself ‘it’s a treat – just this once’ but I find bad foods, and the place of guilt they put you in, propel you into further cravings for more bad food, and self-punishing food choices. French fries make me want to drink coke, not water. Donuts make me want to wash them down with hot coffee with lots of cream, not decaf green tea. Healthy eating perpetuates more healthy eating, bad choices perpetuate more bad choices.

    Today I am starting over – again. I have blood work coming in 45 days and want to have stellar numbers. I’m feeling stupid and guilty for having gained 2 pounds this week. But I realized, my arteries don’t understand or comprehend guilt – while guilt is a powerful and neccesary motivation and reality check in our spiritual integrity and our relationships, it doesn’t do much for your waistline if it puts in a downward bad food spiral. That’s false guilt. If you indulge it more than a day or so, it’s now become an excuse. God is so gracious to us – he gave us a new day every 24 hours. So here I go – Day 1 of 45 on my way to some kick-a$$ bloodwork.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I think it’s so great that you shared this with us. I am sometimes so hard on myself when I eat something I know isn’t good for me. It’s actually very encouraging for me to know that I’m not the only one. 🙂

  11. Anonymous says:

    Robyn you are soo cute. I can completely understand and relate to the guilt and lousiness you felt/feel with eating sugar. Good luck being back on track!

  12. Anonymous says:

    You owe him $9,000. You should have never suggested to him otherwise.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I can totally relate to your story. I have been educating myself on good nutrition for years and for all my vast library on the subject I have yet to lick the sugar habit. I have gone months, at different times, without refined sugar and felt wonderful. It boggles my mind that knowing what I know and experiencing the positive effects of going without sugar I can still go through periods where I can’t stop eating it.

    Last year, I went through a bit of a health crisis. I was very sick for months and finally diagnosed with Graves Disease. I determined that if I ate the way I believe to be best; mostly raw, plant-based whole foods, I could get on top of the disease. I couldn’t. I did eat much better than the SAD, but I couldn’t completely walk away from sugar, fried foods and white flour. I was so frustrated with myself…. with my health on the line, why couldn’t I just keep away from the toxic stuff?? The final discouraging blow came in October when my symptoms were out of control and I wasn’t responding to any of the standard care. I had to have my thyroid removed to prevent damage to my heart and liver. It is difficult for me to know that I might have been able to prevent all of this if I had been eating properly in the first place. I will now have to depend on thyroid hormones for the rest of my life to get me by.

    We all stumble and fall, even when the stakes are high. We just have to stand back up and rededicate ourselves to what we know is good and right. It takes a very conscious effort on my part, but I believe that health and vibrancy can be achieved, so I will not stop trying.
    Best wishes on your sugar-free year!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Well, all I can say Girl, is you are human. Only Jesus was perfect when He was here on earth. We realize that this was a specially devised challenge for you and Matthew, not just eating properly every day. We all have our weak spots and you simply chose a huge challenge that involves your weakest spot. Every day all of us out here in blogland think of your 5% message. Your Gramma said it won’t kill us. You are doing a mind challenge right along with the sugar challenge. Sounds like you are growing in the mental area that presents a whole new look at the subject of sugar. Have you ever read the book The Taste of Sweet by Joanne Chen? What an eye opener. Have a wonderful sweet holiday with your kiddos. We’ll see you in Sacramento soon. Love all you do, AND that you are human like us! ; }

  15. Anonymous says:

    Ahhh, Sara – allow for grace. If Matt has extended it, and she accepts it, both their hearts are enriched more than either would have been no matter who won the big original bet. Let it play out – Robyn and Matt will do right by each other – they know there are more ways to measure this whole experience than the bottom line.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Sara. You owe him the rest. I would never make a bet like that, because I can’t afford it. But if you can get out of a bet like that, it’s not a real bet, so don’t even make it.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Robyn, thank you for sharing your story with us. Your very healthy lifestyle seems so out of reach sometimes. It’s nice to see that even you have slips! I know you will make it a year without sugar this time!

  18. I don’t see myself putting such a hard goal to reach. When I was your age I learned goals are stars to stear by not to beat ourselves up with and I handled my life raising children alot easier when I realized that.


    That was quite a brave goal you two.

    A year is a long time, maybe that’s something you’ve learned also!

    Wishing you strength as you chose to continue.

    Thanks for being honest. We are humans.

    Please don’t be too hard on yourself.

    I would never expect you as green smoothie girl to be more than human.

    2nd commandment…love thy neighbor as thy self.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Mgm, I understand what you are saying. I also understand that Robyn’s ‘vulnerability’ has been meaningful to others. I agree that it takes guts to post a story of failure for the world to read, especially when it relates directly to something you advocate for and make a living from.

    This story does not sit with me well at all, however, because she knew that she could play the sorrowful friend card, and that Matthew would give in. It would have been rude of him not to. Putting him in that place is not respectable. Confessing is. Offering a payment plan of $1,000 per whenever is. It should have been up to him to change the conditions of the arrangement. His suggestion, his follow-through. Robyn took advantage of his friendship and that, to me, is not honest.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Brenda K. , Thank you for your inspired and wise words about goals. You have blessed and helped me and my family forever. Thank you!

  21. I guess what I really want to say here is Robyn we love you just the way you are,

    with or without sugar challenge, so no pressure from me and maybe us?

    Life is hard enough without putting too hard of expectations on ourselves.

    My husband and I went and had a Farr’s ice cream cone , one scoop, our first ice cream

    in 3 months. We have lost 20 and 24 lbs in that time. Our bodies are forgiving and we need

    a little break once in awhile to continue on.

    We embraced the icecream moment and probably won’t have another until we really want to.

    We have a little tiny bag of marshmellow eggs for Easter ready with a healthy easter basket

    filled with new kinds of healthy noodles from an asian store.

    Happy Easter everyone!

    P.S. funny about Matt’s sugar coma, thanks for sharing!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Just can’t bring myself to see Robyn as manipulative and shifty, and Matt as a naive babe in the woods, easily manipulated. I don’t know Matt, but if he is a close friend of Robyn’s, I’m going to guess he has a stronger core than that – I doubt she surrounds herself with emotional weaklings or nitwits. I see no villain and no victim here. Just friends having a public adventure with a playful, gracious and humanity laced spirit. I do find it interesting that the comment thread has become quite large. Usually, it’s just a few per post, and sometimes none, but add in money, and things get interesting.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Sara, you have a point. I have had some guilty feelings about that myself. That Matthew may have felt compelled by our friendship to show compassion. I am reflecting on your words….whether I should just finish the year and give him $9K anyway. It might happen. If it does, it will not be something I announce here. He had said in the past that if I lost, he would spend the money taking me and our other friends on a cruise.

      That said, I think Matthew gets to grow from mercy extended (keep in mind that both of us are financially successful and the $10k is not a game changer for either of us). And I certainly get to grow from being the recipient of it, and getting a second chance, and the crow I have had to eat in front of my Fri night and Sat morning audiences of 250 and 300, yesterday and today—people who watch what I do. (Not to mention my internet friends.)

      I truly am thankful for second chances. In this case, and in my life in general. Hardline, dogmatic, no-mercy positions feel harmful to me. (Thus the following on this site, I assume, bigger in traffic than any other alternative health / nutrition site except the two titans Mercola and NaturalNews. The difference, I think, is that I’m fierce about nurturing you, me, and all the people we love to a better place. Is it not? I cannot offer the world anything very proprietary or even new. I can be me, and what is the essence of me is trying to find a balanced place in the counterculture, if that isn’t too oxymoronic for you.)

      I know this: I would have done the same for Matthew. In a heartbeat.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing this story. Sugar is such a difficult thing to kick! I have gotten rid of it around my house, but still crave some sweet things. I want to try your recipe for the cocoa almonds in your 12-steps book, but have a quick question (I hope that’s okay to post here). In the ingredients it calls for the almonds to be soaked and dehydrated and then the first instruction is to soak the almonds and then let them air dry for a couple of hours. Is this right? Do I need to do it twice? I still have some almonds (raw from your group buy, thanks for that!!) that I’ve kept refrigerated and haven’t gotten around to soaking yet, can I just use those and continue with the recipe? Thanks for your help!!

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Britni, yes you can do that. The reason to dry them a little, the first time, is that they absorb the cocoa sauce better. But you can do them air dried, sure—or even wet. 🙂 Yes, just use your group buy almonds!

  24. Anonymous says:

    I say next time you make a bet choose your favorite charity to donate to – that alone could be huge motivator to ante up and still continue your journey : )

  25. Anonymous says:


  26. Anonymous says:


    Thanks for sharing this struggle with us. Your openness is so refreshing! Those who are disturbed by how you worked this out with your friend probably don’t have a lot of very close friends and have NO idea that your friend would probably NEVER take the money from you. You sneaked that cool $1000 in on him, didn’t you? Heheh… sneaky you!

    The whole point to me is this – you didn’t pass the challenge off as a joke like you could have – you could have lied – and you didn’t…

    A true winner is brave enough to risk failing – and when they do fail, they get up, brush themselves off and finish the race!

    I bought 12 Steps to Whole Foods…didn’t take detox seriously and started with a quart of green smoothie a day last Friday – OMGOSH! The headache was incredible – body shakes and all – slept almost all day on Easter and missed church (which I was sad to miss because I love it) but by the afternoon and a BE (bathroom experience) – the headache went away and my head feels very clear – I could see other way to explain that. Energy levels are WAAYY up! This is so awesome!

    Thank you, Robyn.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Hello Robyn, I am not sure if you have covered this subject matter or not and I don’t feel like I need to have my email published either…I just want to know your opinion.

    What do you know about ion foot baths? I have read some things on the internet, and of course there are always conflicting stories for anything relating to naturopathic theropies. I had one and was absolutely shocked with the black dirty water with floaties after an hour of soaking. But really…can your body eliminate toxins through your feet and with this kind of therapy? BTW…I am a huge green smoothie fan and am trying to kick the sugar habit too. It is dang hard…but green smoothies make it easier. Thanks. CT

  28. You owe him $9,000. You should have never suggested to him otherwise.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Robyn you are amazing! But I wanted to share something with you that has helped me soooo much in eliminating the wrong things from my diet- the minute you say “I can’t have this or that”, your body and mind tell you ” yes you can!” But, if you say to yourself- I can have it, but I choose not too- it works miracles! So with the sugar thing- you could say ” I can have sugar- but I choose not to!

    This has really worked for me!

    Love & Success- Debraw

  30. I have been told that teachers are often the most tortured with what they teach which is what makes them great teachers. I’ve been a fan for several years and your green smoothie guidance is a serious gift! Knowing you also struggle sometimes only makes me appreciate you more. My hope for you and me and anyone else hoping for perfection is to only love ourselves more for the mistakes. Falling down and screwing up always teaches me something as soon as I let go of beating myself up about it. Thanks again for leading the way.

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