Stronger Than Chocolate Challenge Grand Finale

26 Jan

What started out as a bunch of comments on a post about choosing blackberries over a Lindt chocolate truffle ended up being one of the most epic challenges I’ve ever hosted on Mel Runs.

stronger than chocolate challenge

The Stronger Than Chocolate Challenge put nine readers to the test, ten if you include me, to see who could give up chocolate for the longest. Now if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like chocolate (I don’t understand how you exist, but alas, you do) imagine that we’re talking about telling a three year old they can’t have crayons, or a school teacher they can’t have pencils. Imagine telling a fish they can’t have water or a flower no sunlight. Imagine someone made you hide under your bed for two weeks until the boogie man went away. That might help explain to you what the magnitude of this challenge was like. Huge. Monumental. Unthinkable. Unfair, even.

The ten of us started a fight against the most delicious food ever. Why did we want to give it up? Well I, for one, had been eating chocolate every day of my life for the past seven years. That’s right. In the last 2,555 days, there’s a fair chance I’ve consumed over 40 pounds of it. Do you think I have a problem? Debatable (… okay, I had a problem). But it wasn’t just about the quantity of consumption–it was about the victory of NOT consuming it that we were trying to focus on. The strength of overcoming one vice each day hoping it would snowball into the next and create a great energy that each of us could leverage throughout our lives. In exchange for chocolate? Fruit. and your first born. (I kid, just fruit).

Having just entered week 4 of the challenge, there are 3 ladies remaining–and I’m excited to announce them as the winners of the Stronger Than Chocolate Challenge!

1. Tasha at Dine n Dash


2. Jen at In Good Company

jen selverian

3. Jessie at My Baking Empire

Congratulations ladies! You somehow managed to break free from the grips of chocolatey goodness and reign champions of self-control and healthy momentum. I am going to build a page on that showcases all of the challenge winners permanently. A virtual wall of fame, if you will.


Here are quotes and highlights from the challenge, showign the journey that each challenger went through along the way. It was tough, it was fun, it was, well… read on…


In the beginning people were a little nervous, yet excited. Readers Mike and Barb began bringing clementines to work to hit the challenge head on. I was PUMPED to see them digging in so quickly! The onslought of chocolate banishment talk began, and people started exposing their secret stashes.

  • “OMG chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream! So hard” Tasha
  • “I’ll do whatever workout but give up chocolate!? #crazylady :P ” Austin Fit Magazine (maybe next time?)
  • “Yesterday was the first day in a LONG time without a bite of chocolate. and i’m still alive.” Mike
  • “just stared down chocolate cake (with SPRINKLES ON THE FROSTING!) & made a strawberry smoothie” Brittany
  • “Today’s after lunch chocolate” Mike


  • stronger than chocolate challenge
  • “Chocolate has crossed my mind at least three times already today ::shaking::” Me
  • “chocolate chocolate charlie and the chocolate factoryyyyy :P ” Austin Fit Magazine (sabotage?)
  • “Day 1 was a success! I just devoured a whole bowl of fruit” Mariam stronger than chocolate challenge

Fighting temptation. They also started paying attention to the frequency in which chocolate appeared in their lives. In case you didn’t know, chocolate. is. everywhere. It took a lot of determination to power through the urge everyday for each challenger–they were faced with gift boxes of chocolate from the holidays, still having to bake with chocolate for others, cabinets full of the evil brown food, and more…


  • “Tons of chocolate samples at Whole Foods, why?” Tasha
  • “THIS just arrived from my family in New England. You have to be kidding.” Brittanystronger than chocolate challenge
  • “I’m still in! It’s been hard but I managed to calmly avoid the last brownie today!” Barb
  • I’m driving in a car with girls eating endless pieces of ghirardelli chocolate! Easier to resist today tho…” Melissa
  • “So, I had a dream this weekend that I was eating (actually, it was more like devouring) a chocolate cupcake with chocolate filling and chocolate icing” Mariam (dream ended up coming true, actually… keep reading)
  • I almost gave in one day, when Brittany stepped in to get my back “No Mel don’t do it! Fight the force!” Phew. Nothin’ like a friend.
  • “The biggest challenge I face is that my desk drawer is full of goodies and I’m trying to ignore it.” Mariam The biggest challenge I face is that my desk drawer is full of goodies and I'm trying to ignore it.
  • “The biggest challenged I faced was baking cookies and mini chocolate tarts for the Giants game yesterday without actually trying the sweets I was going to serve.” Jessie
  • “My friends and family are in awe that I could give up my favorite thing” Tasha
  • “I barely thought about chocolate today, and when I did, I went for a 5-mile run. I hate myself.” Jen

Interesting chocolate swaps started to make appearances throughout the weeks. Fruit wasn’t cutting it for most people, including me. It’s definitely a dessert like craving that needs to be subsided sometimes, and I think the “idea” of fruit doesn’t fulfil the mental need. I went to town on Teddy Grahams (my other weakness) more than once, and others, well, others hit the bottle more than once.

  • “I seem to crave peanut butter more now that choc is gone from my life. after peanut butter is increased salty cravings. weird.” Tasha
  • “Substitution is my strategy. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pour myself another cocktail. I’ll hang some fruit off the side. ;)Jen
  • “still chocolate free! shakes subsiding, fruit intake on the rise” Mike
  • “I survived. I drank a lot of tequila though… so my calorie intake pretty much stayed the same :D ” Mariam (Mariam, we should take some shots next time I’m in NYC :) )
  • “Check this awesome recipe:Blend frozen banana, ½ diabetic friendly Light & Fit yogurt (low sugar count), frozen blueberries, little pumpkin pie filling (from can) + Kashi Light granola sprinkles on top for crunch” Jen (awesome, Jen, thanks!)

To the darkside (Luke, I am your father). Then all of a sudden, as the competition began to take shape, the confessions started pouring out from the sky. I got emails, tweets, and comments confessing that challengers had gone to the darkside. The chocolate side. As I held my head high in convenience stores so as not to see the point-of-sale chocolate bars at the register, others were nose diving into it.

  • “I caved this past Thurs and cheated with a Healthy Choice fudge bar. That’s a good thing right? LOL.
    I was doing so good and I opened the freezer at work and there they were looking so pretty. They wanted to be eaten! ;-)Nicole
  • “This thing got me. ashamed face” Brittanystronger than chocolate challenge
  • “Ah, it’s over. Social life wins out. Delicious chocolate cake at Apothecary Cafe. Stay strong for us weaklings! Well it was fun/miserable while it lasted.” Mike
  • “I gave in and ate chocolate after 11 days, and oddly enough, it was WAY TOO SWEET. the madness!” – Melissa
  • Barb:
  • stronger than chocolate challenge


  • “Dear Melly,
    I know your out of town but I had to write you.
    I survived the chocolate challenge for more than a week, so much I even lost count, but today… Today I had an exhausting day and lost it.
    I opened my desk drawer and saw a variety of wrapped little gourmet chocolates then closed it back. I didn’t know why until I left to go home.
    As I was walking, I saw a Crumbs Bake Shop that just opened on 21st and park, but kept walking… Thats when I started hearing my name being called… I had to go in.
    Then I saw it. The cupcake I dreamt about that weekend… It looked so yummy. I got it.
    It is THE most delicious thing I’ve ever had. Sweet sweet happiness” Mariamstronger than chocholate challenge

The upside (Oh the glory of it all!)

  • “Happy by-product: Chocolate fast has curbed my 2nd food addiction to energy bars, because I don’t have any w/o chocolate in the house.” Jen
  • “I always hear about people who eat better having more energy- and I think I’m experiencing that. Without any sugar (or caffeine) to assist me – I am ALL KINDS OF ENERGETIC!” Jessie
  • Tasha has taken her resolved and decided to attempt to also give up peanut butter for a little while in favor of integrating other proteins into her day. Keep us posted T!
  • ” With the chocolate I even gave up soda which I would only have at work but of course is still bad. I am happy to say I will not go back to soda again and my chocolate intake…let’s just say thursday was the last time I had any. If I do have some, I will make sure to not over indulge like before.” Nicole
  • “I’ve learned that it’s hard to avoid chocolate altogether, but its actually really easy for me to sub-in other snacks to keep me going.  If I can replace 90% of my chocolate intake with fruits and nuts, then I don’t have to feel bad about having a bite sized piece of chocolate!  Even though I didn’t make it through the whole week, I’m going to stick with my healthy snack choices.” Barb
  • “I enjoyed the challenge a lot but then I realized that it made me chocolate picky. That means, no kisses no kitkats will satisfy me. It’s gotta be the cupcake, at least for a while.” Mariam


Think you’d like to join the next Mel Runs challenge? Be my guest, join the community!

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9 Responses to “Stronger Than Chocolate Challenge Grand Finale”

  1. Jessie January 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    Woo! Congrats to you too, Tasha and Jen!

    • melruns January 27, 2012 at 2:06 am #

      team spirit :)

  2. Melissa @TryingtoHeal January 26, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    Dang, those girls did an awesome job! I actually started the challenge again with just myself three days ago, because in reality, I felt so much better without that chocolate in my diet (gasp, I know).

    I can’t wait for the next challenge!

    Oh, and I totally subbed all the chocolate with ginger chews (sweet but SPICY) and ginger cat cookies from Trader Joe’s.

    • melruns January 27, 2012 at 2:05 am #

      Wow, again, huh? That’s great! I feel like this can be such a useful tool for all of us moving forward. I am actually still chocolate free–I want to hit the 30 day mark :)

      And I actually LOVE ginger chews–nice choice!

  3. Amanda January 27, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    Congrats to the strongest women! I am impressed with your ability to give up every girl’s best friend, (aside from diamonds, of course);-)

  4. Tasha @ Dine & Dash January 27, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    YAY congrats girls!

  5. Jen Selverian January 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    Nice wrap-up, Mel.

    Way to show chocolate who’s boss, Ladies!

    Excited (and a little scared) to hear the next challenge.

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  1. How I Broke My 30 Day Chocolate Ban | Mel Runs - February 3, 2012

    [...] that my readers partake in from time to time. The latest of said challenges was called the “Stronger Than Chocolate Challenge“, in which myself and nine readers gave up chocolatey goodness for as long as humanly [...]

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