Trading Chocolate for Free Weights

Tuesday, April 2, 2013
On Sunday morning, Andy caught me putting a piece of a Cadbury Caramello bar in my mouth.

"Wait a minute," he said. "You can't eat that."

 "Oh yes I can," I replied. "It's Easter. Lent's oooooover."

"Oh." Andy paused for a second. "Did you win?"

While Lent isn't really meant to be "conquered," I suppose I did win in a way. After vowing to give up chocolate for the Lenten season, I did not eat a bite of cocoa or processed chocolate for 45 days.

Lent's always marketed as 40 days - because Sundays are technically "free days" - but I only took advantage of one Sunday this year - the first one, when I drank a cup of hot cocoa while reading in the evening. I should admit that this past Saturday I thoughtlessly put a bit of melted chocolate and butter in my mouth while making the flourless chocolate cake for Easter dinner, which I spat out as soon as I'd realized what I'd done. As I see it, if you're going to give something up, you might as well go all out.

I learned a few things from my 45 days without chocolate:

1) I like citrus flavored sweets well enough that giving up chocolate really wasn't much of a sacrifice. Now if you told me I had to give up sugar all together for 40 days . . . .

2) I felt better when I wasn't eating chocolate. Even though I was still eating sugar, my sugar consumption must have dropped considerably over the last month because I've felt pretty off since resuming chocolate consumption on Sunday. Of course, I'm sure quantity is not a factor at all here. #sarcasm.

3) It is much easier to resist something when it is expressly "forbidden" then when it's a matter of free will. I noticed on Sunday that when the dialogue in my head about chocolate shifted from, "You can't eat that," to "Should you eat that?" I almost always, without fail, decide that yes, yes I should eat that delicious piece of chocolate cake/bar/candy, etc. etc.

4) Giving up chocolate need not be a part of your diet plan. I'm pretty sure I gave up chocolate for Lent and did not lose a single ounce.

Coincidentally, this Lent saw me return to spending a little more time working on my physical fitness. In lieu of eating chocolate, I lifted free weights and did my sit-ups.  So I emerge from this Lent with stronger willpower and muscles. I don't really approach Lent from a religious place. Instead I prefer to use Lent as a time of reassessment: to really look at what you truly can and can't do. Now that Lent's done, I'm glad not only that I'm back to my old chocolate eating self again, but also that I took the opportunity to use the season to kickstart some better habits.

Did you give anything up for Lent? How you'd you do?



  1. I don't do anything for Lent but a friend of mine gives up Facebook every year for Lent. I saw her yesterday and she was so excited to be back on. Enjoy your chocolate! ;-)

  2. I gave up coffee last year... It SUCKED.

    I felt great after a few weeks of it but man... It was sooo hard! Especially when my husband would make it and I got a big whiff.

    This year I didn't give anything up.
    I felt kind of bad... But, hopefully I'll make up for it next year ;)

  3. I tried giving up chocolate one year for Lent and lasted maybe two days. I have NO willpower. I need to read that book on Willpower that you reviewed! I think there is great merit in self-denial, but I haven't figured out if it's worth it yet :-) I admire that you did that and what you learned from it. Mostly that you learned you still love chocolate ;-)

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  5. I don't give up things for lent, but I have been dairy, peanut, shellfish free since Salem was born (actually I gave up peanuts since I found out I was pregnant). Frankly it is very tough for me. So many of my fav items fall into these categories. I actually want to give up gluten as well, but I am going to wait until I can start consuming at least shellfish again (this has to do with preventing food allergies in my little one), because it is hard enough right now as it is!!!

  6. Good for you Ada! I think that's great you were able to kick the choco but still survive. Now...tell me more about this Cadbury Caramello? That sounds amazing.

  7. Good job. I used to have more will power. This years fastening did not happen. Well at least not till now. For whatever reasons my liver has been affected by????? As I do not drink, smoke or do drugs, so serious illness sand no hepatitis, I decide to go into a 7 days liver cleansing.
    A friend of mine in the process of given up sugar altogether is currently rather short tempered and moody.


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