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How I Broke My 30 Day Chocolate Ban

3 Feb

Oh hey there! Welcome to Mel Runs. In case you’re new, I would like to welcome you to this wonderful blog where I write about my daily health and fitness antics, life occurrences, and also create crazy challenges 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 possible.

It’s been a long and windy road, but I finally made it to the 30 day mark. That’s ONE WHOLE MONTH without chocolate!! Can you believe it?! I’m serious. I want to know if you can believe it.

Because I cannot.

And now this story takes a sad turn, as I will tell you how I broke my chocolate fast. Not sad because I broke it, but sad because of what I broke it with. So I’m telling you right now, this story will be anticlimactic. You can stop reading now, if you’d like.

Last night my friend texted me and asked if I wanted to come see her boyfriend’s band play at a bar called The Spider House in Austin. I was pretty tired, but she mentioned it was a singer/songwriter type vibe, and well, that got me. I love that kind of show because acoustic guitar melts me, and also because I daydream of having my own band (so I stare at the lead guitar player’s hands and wonder if he wrote all the songs by himself). Before I left to meet her, I looked up the bar online to get the address and saw that there was also a poetry slam going on that night. At that point I was jonesin’ to go. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a poetry slam, but spoken word poetry is much different than a reading you might attend at a bookstore. The poems are brought to life with powerful annunciation, punctuation, and so much heart it sends goosebumps up your arms.

When I got to there, I met my friends in the backyard and waited for them to finish their drinks. From there, I ushered them into the poetry slam room. It was packed with every seat full and people standing, crammed into whatever empty space they could wedge their bodies. I thought to myself, “Wow, I finally found the secret awesomeness of Austin.” As the show unfolded before us, it became clear this wasn’t a regular old slam night–it was a serious competition. The winner would represent the city of Austin in the 2012 Women Of The World Poetry Slam in Colorado next month. I took another look around the room and realized all of the competing poets were, in fact, women. As they got up to read, their words were full of feminist innuendos, lots of mention of “vagina,” (seriously, it was the topic of the night), and some un.real. talent. Here’s a clip of one woman.

After watching 10 different poets speak about our rights, and the glory of life, I had such a feeling of freedom and spontaneity–as if I stepped into a time machine back to the 70′s, and life was all about love and peace, man. I suddenly had an urge to go outside and look up at the stars, to spin around in circles until I got dizzy. That tattoo I never got because it would make my mom cry suddenly seemed doable–”THIS IS MY LIFE! OH THE POSSIBILITIES!” I thought. Jeez, maybe you shouldn’t let me around poetry slams too often, huh? I’ll end up buying a motorcycle.

From there we walked over to the concert portion of the night, and as promised, I stared at the lead singers fingers going up and down the guitar. “One day, that could be me,” I thought. Clearly I had entered into a danger zone in my mind. Liberal Mel was out in full force. But it wasn’t until after the show that I acted on my “this is my life” impulse. Once the guys got off stage, and I said my goodbyes, I started heading over to my car to go home. When I got up to the door, I noticed that I was parked next to a CVS. That’s when the bright idea hit me. It was day 30 of no chocolate, and it was time to BREAK FREE! Weeeee!

I strode into CVS, and left my motorcycle parked out front. I headed straight toward the candy aisle. I was on a mission. I arrived in aisle four*, and there it was. Rows and rows of chocolate waiting for me to eat it. “I do what I want!” I thought. I started staring down every option to make sure I made the absolute best decision. Reeses peanut butter cups? No. Mounds?! I love coconut! Nah… Maybe Rochers, my backup husband… “but I’ve done so well without him,” I thought.

Wait, what was that?


It was. Guilt reared it’s ugly head. I suddenly felt like I was drowning in sin and the devil on my shoulder was laughing that super evil laugh very loudly in my ear. I backed up. It was a very dramatic one man scene in this candy aisle. It’s a good thing no one else walked down it. I was probably sweating. I swiveled on my feet a quick 180 degrees and headed to the refrigerated drink section. “Okay, I’ll just grab a Diet Sprite and some Chex Mix maybe.” I opened the fridge, grabbed the soda, and proceeded down the chips and other assorted shelf-stable foods aisle (I cannot believe CVS still carries spam. Really?). On my way down the aisle, I caught something out of the corner of my eye and stopped. It was a chocolate flavored granola bar. “Well maybe this is a midway compromise,” I thought. I grabbed the box, along with a box of Kashi whole grain crackers to level out the guilt, paid, and ran out the door.

My motorcycle poofed into thin air once it saw my granola bar box, so i trudged over to my Honda Accord sedan. A bumper sticker that read “My child is on the honor roll!” poofed onto the back of it. I got in the car and hastily opened the box, ripping that little flap closure guy that you usually need to be very careful with if you ever want to close the cardboard box again. Out came a granola bar, the wrapper flew off onto the floor of my car, and I devoured it. If you’re thinking I bought some kind of chocolate chip cookie dough flavored bar, or double chocolate dream bar, you’re wrong. I lost my guts and glory. I went as safe as possible.

I drove home with this wrapper by my feet.

 fiber one bar wrapper

That’s right. A Fiber One bar. And not just any Fiber One bar. The lower calorie one. Did you hear that crashing sound? That was my motorcycle driving itself off a cliff. I had a stomach ache the rest of the night, too.

 *I do not actually remember if the chocolate was in aisle four, but just humor me, please.

Reader Spotlight: I Survived My 14 Day Chocolate Detox

23 Jan

In case you’re just joining this blog community (welcome! stay a while!), nine blog readers and I embarked on a Stronger Than Chocolate Challenge in which we stayed away from chocolatey goodness for as long as possible. Some lasted two days, some two weeks, but everyone came out stronger. In the end, it wasn’t about the deprivation, it was about building positive momentum grounded in inner strength. Who knew chocolate could be so deep? Here’s Jen’s story (she’s pretty funny, too… read on).

I Survived My 14-Day Chocolate Detox

jen selverian


Hello, my name is Jen and I am a Chocoholic.


A few weeks ago I decided to face my worst fear and join 8 other reluctant competitors in the Stronger Than Chocolate Challenge hosted by Mel Runs. Instructions: Swear off all forms of chocolate for 14 days.

Why did I need to do this?

Well, it caught me at a good time, coinciding with New Year’s resolutions and the need to repent for a month’s worth of holiday eating.

Bigger picture, I wanted to see if I could wriggle free from the spell chocolate had over me.

I go to the gym every day and eat cleanly, but chocolate is a persistent vice. On any given day, I’d consume 250-500 extra calories in chocolate… starting with chocolate chips in my breakfast oatmeal. Over the course of 14 days, this equals 3500-7000 calories, or 1-2 lbs! Gross. Step 1: Admit you have a problem. Check.

Day One was the hardest.

I didn’t actually cry, but I came close. I went and stared at my chocolate stash several times. I kept reminding myself that it wasn’t like I could never have chocolate again. It was 14 friggin’ days.

I thought about other times I had to deny myself things I loved. During my pregnancies, I didn’t have any sushi or booze, and I drank decaf coffee and backed off intense exercise FOR 10 MONTHS. How in holy hell did I survive that… twice?! Sh*t, 14 days without chocolate didn’t seem so bad.

The Challenge dictated that we were supposed to exchange chocolate for fruit. That only happened half the time for me. Otherwise, I was like Ronald Reagan exchanging cigarettes for jellybeans. Instead of chocolate, I made frozen banana-blueberry slushies, ate almond croissants and bowls of oatmeal with pumpkin pie filling, drank iced coffee, and oh, lots of white wine. I may have successfully foiled my chocolate cravings, but this 14-day fast was doing bupkiss for my waistline.

The Highs & Lows

Day 5     My husband actually gets to taste the TJ’s Chocolate World Sampler I allegedly bought for him as a stocking stuffer. I watch in horror as he tosses the last piece of New Guinea in his mouth. “Hey! I wanted to try New Guinea – 70% cocoa. Marked fruity taste with a touch of spice. Ideal pairing: Merlot.”

Day 7     I barely thought about chocolate today, and when I did, I went for a 5-mile run. I hate myself.

Day 11  Considering sabotage of the other competitors. Come ‘on people, fold!

Day ?      I’ve lost track of days. Are we there yet? Mel says when this is over she’s going to marry Ferrero Rocher. I’m going to melt down all the chocolate I didn’t consume into a giant Bradley Cooper-shaped Easter bunny and devour him.

let's get married

Day 14 & Beyond

I did it. I beat the pants off of chocolate. How do you like me now?! But part of me is worried. Sure, I can fend off the toxic boyfriend in broad daylight, as long as I’m keeping busy. But if he showed up at my door after too much wine and Natalie Merchant, would I be so honorable? What if my first bite of chocolate is the gateway to a wild chocolate bender that results in me Hoovering up chocolate croissants, chocolate ice cream, molten chocolate lava cakes, etc? I wonder if I’ll ever be able to enjoy chocolate responsibly again.

There’s only one solution.

I’ve decided to save my chocolate indulgences for when I’m out. I’m not going to keep chocolate in the house. I choose quality over quantity. Because let’s face it, me consuming just a single square of dark chocolate is about as likely as my pug chewing each bite of dinner 30 seconds before he swallows. It’s just not in our genetic make-up.

So I’m handing over the keys to all the fine chocolate-makers out there. And I trust that their withering looks will deter me from ordering seconds and thirds. First stop? Maybe a delicious mug of Mexican hot chocolate. Callate mi amor, you had me at hola.

Jen is a NYC recruiter who writes a blog called In Good Company where she showcases the ad industry’s thought leaders, speaking on a variety of topics – from social media to launching a business.

P.S. If you liked Jen’s story, here’s some other Mel Runs challenge stories:

Happy Monday :)

“You’re Not Eating Chocolate? Why?!” or “A Recipe Worth Sharing”

18 Jan

When I’m out with friends and somehow the topic of me not eating chocolate comes up (usually when we’re out to dinner and it’s time for dessert, at which point I look at the menu with sunglasses on so people can’t see my tears), my surrounding company seems to be extremely intrigued (must be the sunglasses).

I get questions like “Why are you doing this to yourself?” “Did you know they have brownies for dessert at this restaurant?” (grrr) “How long do you plan to keep going?” and I have to find a way to explain to people, who have no idea that I even write a blog, that I have a commitment to my readers in something called the Stronger Than Chocolate Challenge.

stronger than chocolate challenge

Here’s one reason why I’m doing this.

A success story from participant Jessie, that reminds me, and I hope all of you, that it’s not the deprivation we should focus on, it’s the strength that we gain each day when we come out victorious–and how it can change our lives in the smallest of ways, yet add up to fantastic momentum.

I sent the challengers an email yesterday asking them a series of questions, one being “How much do you hate me for making you give up chocolate?” and here was part of Jessie’s response:

“…I thank you for providing a challenge because that’s just what I needed!

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! Everything is running like a mile a minute –  my mouth, my body. It’s kind of awesome. I’m going to the gym more just to kind of wear myself out, not something I’m used to generally.

I plan to keep going indefinitely. I will allow myself to slip up should it happen (like if I’m in Europe again and presented with sweets), but I have been pretty good at turning down temptation and am hoping it just keeps getting easier…”

I love to connect with my readers, and truly make a healthy, inspiring difference in people’s lives. And oh, I also have a chocolate addiction that I’m trying to break–but that’s not the point :) . Seeing Jessie’s triumph in turn empowers me to continue strong on my own journey, and the recipe continues to repeat. It’s a recipe worth sharing, trust me.

How can we help push each other to the next level? What kind of challenge are you in need of?

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