Goal Setting: “A spoon full of sugar…”

Posted on Posted in Goals, Health

I have a confession to make…I’m a big fan of goal setting, but I’m not that good at following through on them.  Sound familiar?  I’m challenging myself and you to set at least one goal for 2013 that you plan to follow through on.  I don’t believe that New Years resolutions have to be a bad thing.

Let’s take a quick look at how to set a good goal before we get to my goal for 2013.  The best method I know of for setting goals is setting S.M.A.R.T. goals:SMART goals

  • Specific – your goal needs to have a narrowly defined scope
  • Measurable – how will you measure success, progress or failure for your goal
  • Attainable – is this something that you can realistically achieve?
  • Relevant – is this the right goal for this time in your life?
  • Time-bound – set a date to make it happen.  Can you set checkpoints along the way?

Have a goal in mind for yourself?  Can you formulate your goal so it is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound?

And now onto my goal for 2013.  Mary Poppins said, “a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.”  But what if you’re drinking several spoon fulls of sugar to help your lunch go down?  As you probably guessed, I’ll be tackling my soda problem in 2013.

dr pepper nutrition label
Dr. Pepper nutrition label.

I believe a successful part of achieving a challenging goal is visualizing it.  Perhaps my most unhealthy habit is drinking soda, specifically Dr. Pepper.  I have always thought about measuring out the sugar content of soda, but had never actually done it.  On Sunday afternoon while everyone was napping I played with some sugar and a digital scale…Alton Brown style.

I started off with 3 tall glasses that were all the same, so the visual comparison would be easy.  One can of Dr. Pepper has 40g of sugar in it.  Of course in most Dr. Pepper this sugar comes in the form of high fructose corn syrup, a substance that won’t be debated in this post.  The sugar content of one can really didn’t look that bad when I measured it out, but the problem is that I often drink more than 12oz of soda in a day.

one week of sugar from dr pepper
One week of sugar – 840 grams.

It is practically impossible to estimate how much soda I really drink since I live in the land of endless refills – Texas.  I had to assign a measurement for the sake of my experiment so I went with 3 cans or 36oz of soda a day.  When I measured out the 120g of sugar it made a bit of an impact.  Each day I was making my body process a lot of sugar.

The real shocker came when I added up the sugar content for the week.  If I drank 36oz (120 grams of sugar) a day, 7 days a week that would add up to about 840g of sugar being pumped into my body each week.  The amount of sugar was so large that I had to steal the ‘1 Can’ glass and use it as an additional glass to measure out 1 week of sugar content!  I filled 2 glasses heaping full with sugar to get the 840g of sugar that I estimated I was taking in.  That is 420g of sugar per glass.  Seeing that much sugar and realizing I was consuming that much per week really hit home…liked I had secretly hoped it would.

Sugar by can, day and week
Sugar by can, day and week. 840 grams (the weekly amount) is a shocking amount of sugar.

I weigh 210lbs and stand 5’11.  I carry my weight pretty well and don’t look too overweight.  But like most people, the real damage is probably being done inside.  I sat with my table of sugar and thought for a while about what a specific, measurable goal could be.  I decided that I need to stop drinking soda in unmeasurable quantities – so the soda at restaurants will have to go.  It is far too easy to let consumption get out of control.  Plus I’ll be saving a ton of money.

I’m not the type of person that can quit something cold turkey, so I set a goal of 1 can of soda per day for the next 3 months.  Over that time period I would reduce sugar intake from 14,400g to 4,800g.  (Of course this doesn’t account for other sugar intake from foods.)  The amount of 4,800g of sugar over 3 months is still quite a bit – that is still 10.5lbs of sugar…yikes!  But it is far better than 32lbs of sugar for the same time period.  I cannot believe that I have been consuming approximately 128 POUNDS of sugar a year for the last several years from soda!

Many would suggest switching to diet sodas, but I don’t really care for the taste and when I do drink a diet soda I feel kind of ‘icky.’  Plus there is the big debate about artificial sweeteners, which I won’t address here.  If I stayed with 1 can of soda a day throughout all of 2013, it would result in a reduction of – 300 calories per day – 2,100 calories per week – approximately 9,000 calories per month and 109,500 calories over the course of the year.

For this goal here are my measurable items:

  • Specific – Cut back on daily amount of soda.
  • Measurable – One can of soda instead of an estimated 3 cans per day.
  • Attainable – Probably – the sugar visualization sure helps.
  • Relevant – Best time to improve your health was yesterday.
  • Time-bound – Daily goals plus 3 month goal.

What about you?  Do you have a New Years goal that you’re aiming at?  Have any suggestions for me as I try to achieve my goal?

2014 Update: I continue to live out the lessons I learned by measuring out the sugar content of my beloved Dr. Pepper.  I still enjoy the occassional soda but try my best to stay away from the big drink cup and the refillable restaurant cup.  I lost about 10lbs by cutting back on my soda in 2013.  In combination with my treadmill desk I am feeling great!

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13 thoughts on “Goal Setting: “A spoon full of sugar…”

  1. Two things you won’t address in 1 posting ! Maybe later? I like your approach to the situation. Might I suggest one variation? If you can afford those 6 ounce bottles or cans, how about using them at times. That way you could have 1 at one time of day, and the 2nd at a later time of the day, and, who knows, some days you might not even drink the 2nd one. Just don’t get the 8 oz. ones. Good idea ?

    1. I’m avoiding the ‘hot topics’ Ted 🙂 Still not sure how I really feel about high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. I think there is a lot of ‘hype’ on both sides of the argument for those substances. I like your idea about smaller sodas. My sister gave me 24 of the smaller bottles of Dr. Pepper for Christmas…the bottles made with real sugar. I’ll work on those first and see where I go from there.

  2. Jon, I think you can do it. Does Dr. Pepper have caffeine in it? If it does you might have some withdrawal from that, especially headaches. I am still working on my weight loss goal. I’ve lost 65lbs. and plan on reaching 100lbs. By this time next year. Slow and steady but for my health I have to do it. Don’t forget your biggest supporter as you do this God. He will help you through this, and sometimes you will slip up and have more than you want on a certain day but you just start over the next day. Keep water with you at all times and wherever you drink Dr. Pepper the most work or home try not to keep it there. Good Luck!

    1. Thanks Linda! And congrats on your phenomenal weight loss so far…keep up the good work. I’m guessing there will be a few issues associated with cutting out that much sugar and caffeine, but I’m sure they will be short-lived. Thanks for the good advice on moving past any ‘slip-ups.’

  3. Jon, we are going through a similiar situation with salt and fluids. We have to cut our fluid intake to 64 oz a day, and only 2000mg of salt a day. We measure the salt in everything that goes in the mouth! It gets tedious but I ask for God’s help more than daily. I know the results in just one month is going to make a big difference in how we feel. Our prayers are with you always. Do not give up.

    1. Thanks Joyce! I know you and your Mom are going through a lot right now. It must be very challenging to keep up with all of those measurements during the day. You’ve got the right focus!

  4. Hi Jon,

    Your goal is definitely admirable. I gave up soda several years ago cold turkey for a month and after that month my desire for it was severely diminished. I now occasionally have a coke (with pizza), but only once or twice a month. Of course now, every time I think about having a can all I’ll be doing is picturing how much sugar is in it…so I’m guessing my soda intake will fall even more. Good luck with your goal, I’ll be following along to see how you do!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement AB! Actually seeing the sugar, measuring it out, the weight of it in my hand really made an impact on me. Plus I had this thought…the amount of sugar I estimated I was consuming per year (128 lbs) weighs much more than my wife. That was a wake up call for sure! Saw your response to my comment on your site…glad you were able to get your site claimed with Alexa so quickly.

  5. Good luck to you! I quit soda (I used to drink Diet Coke) about 2-3 years ago. I gave it up for Lent. It was challenging at first, but now I don’t want it at all. In fact, the last time I had a Coke (which was over a year ago) I thought it tasted awful so I am in no way tempted to go back to my soda-drinking ways. I’m guessing my taste-buds shifted after I quit drinking it which is why it no longer is appealing to me.

    1. Thanks JBC! I haven’t been able to get fully away from my soda habit but I have cut back significantly after the visualization I made for myself. Soda and I have a more balanced relationship now. I enjoy it like I would dessert…instead of having it with every meal. It is nice every once in a while but not every day. I can tell a definite difference in my health and energy. Not sure if there is a connection or not but I haven’t been sick this entire last year either.

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