I found the inspiration for this post amongst the small mountain of confectionary in my local supermarket. Now, before you start thinking ‘ew, you shop at Walmart’ there’s something you should know. I live in a teeny tiny village, with one shop, one petrol station (or ‘gas’ station if you’re from across the pond) and one post office. This ‘supermarket’ is not so super after all. In fact, it could quite comfortably fit inside my house. So, quite often when perusing all of the three aisles in the ENTIRE store, the shop assistants will attempt to make charmingly-awkward conversation. It was only when I was caught lustfully gazing at the chocolate stash big enough to feed a small country, that the assistant remarked “my daughter has given up chocolate for Lent, would you believe it!”. I gave the obligatory smile and nod, somewhat voicing my approval at her commitment to the cause. But secretly inside, I was arrogantly dying to burst out with “Yeah I gave up chocolate too, for 400 days”. That’s right. A year and then some without the confectionary gold that is C H O C O L A T E. Before you fall on your knees to worship me (I joke, I joke) I’m here to tell you why I did it and how you can do it too.
Now I’d given up chocolate before. A few years of going without for Lent and at the start of January after the Christmas binge had me thinking I was a professional Chocolate abstainee. The start of 2011 was no different. I decided to go chocolate free for January, and that would be that, by February I’d make a happy return to my coco-pops. I’ll admit the first two weeks of January were HARD, but after that, the ‘no chocolate’ lifestyle had become something I was beginning to enjoy. I set myself the target of going 50 days without chocolate, I marked the day off in my calendar and returned to the mission in hand of avoiding all temptation. Without realising it, 50 days of no chocolate had been and gone, upon discovering this I felt a warm sense of achievement. Then a thought crept into my head..if I’d gone all this time without chocolate, then surely I could reach 100 days and that would be fabulous. 100 became the new landmark, I think you can see where this is going. Once I got past 200 days I focused my new found determination and will power on reaching the end of the year, 100% chocolate free.
Here’s the most important part. There may be some of you reading this thinking ‘not in a million years could I give up chocolate, I love it too much’, but you CAN. If you said to me this time last year, that I would go 400 days without chocolate, I would have laughed out loud. After day 1, I seriously doubted completing a month.
The best part about all of this for me, is not boasting about my 400 chocolate free days, but it’s about what I learnt about myself along the way. I considered myself relatively healthy, and thought that I rewarded myself with chocolate as an indulgent treat. It was only after a week or so that I realised how I’d misled myself. Chocolate had become quite a significant part of my diet, and because it didn’t show on the outside I forgot about what it was doing to my inside. It was not only the real ‘hard stuff’ that I had to say no to, but my diet was now free from chocolate cereals, cookies, yoghurts, milkshakes, cakes, muffins, ice creams, biscuits, flapjacks… the list is ENDLESS.
Giving up chocolate was more than just a health benefit, it also gave me a new sense of self-confidence, perseverance and determination. So, that’s why I invite you all to give up your guilty little pleasure for just one month.
This time next year, who knows where you’ll be.