Friday, April 14, 2006


I know two people who have given up things they really love for lent. My no meat thing isn't a challenge by comparison I didn't eat it in the first place really, and it's been such a positive thing with trying new food that I've not felt like I've been giving anything up.

But my colleague and my friend have been having a much harder time of it. One of them has given up chocolate and cakes, and the other has given up crisps. They've been ultra disciplined for the last month and a half, but are each planning blow-outs over the weekend, at which point they'll go back to where they were before.

Neither of them need to lose weight, and neither of them are doing this because they want to give up chocolate and crisps permanently. But both of them have asked me how I have been able to apparently completely change what I eat on a permanent basis, while they can't carry on with their abstinence from their vices for a single day after the end of lent. They wish that they could be just a bit more controlled, even if they don't give up chocolate and crisps completely. They just want to eat them a bit less. If they can give them up completely for lent, why can't they cut them down the rest of the time?

It seems to me that it's the classic "diet" problem. The only reason they can give up is because they have an end date. Deferred pleasure. They can pass up on the crisps today because they can eat extra on Sunday. Anything with a fixed timescale, whether the end is measured by a date or a weight or another goal, has that problem. Even though the changes look the same, the mindset is slightly different. And sometimes we do it almost unconsciously.

I didn't set a specific end date on my no meat thing. I knew that it coincided with lent and that it would be nice to do the whole time, but I never thought that I was giving up now for a limited period of time. I saw it as a stage to making permanent changes. A trial run which may end before committing on a longer term basis, but still something that isn't just for now. It's more enduring than that.

I'm not going to give up something for a month or so each year. I'm going to make changes that make my life better and healthier on a permanent basis. I tried to explain this to my friends, but I think they were too busy stockpiling crisps and chocolate for Sunday...


Blogger WifeMomChocoholic said...

And that is the exact problem with diets. The more you're deprived of something, the more you crave it -- until you explode in a frenzy of bingeing. Then the cycle begins again with self-flagellation, deprivation, and obsession.

8:29 PM  

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