A Week Without Chocolate

*(except for two dark-chocolate-covered coffee beans, which I couldn’t avoid).

So, here’s how it is: I love chocolate. If I were to indulge in a fantasy for the future, being the lead character in that movie Chocolat would probably enter into it somehow. I’ve always eaten chocolate, but I’ve been eating a lot of it lately, because honestly after a long, sometimes very rough workday, it’s a quick and easy endorphin fix.

A little while ago though, I noticed quite abstractly that although I was shovelling the stuff into my mouth, I wasn’t actually enjoying the experience. At all. Blergh, I thought, and then I did a double take because the only times I’ve ever thought blergh about chocolate were times when I’d just made a kilogram of the stuff and couldn’t stand the sickly sweet reek any more, or had just bitten into it and discovered it was carob (not a pleasant surprise for a chocolate-lover).

But I finished the box anyway.

Then, about a week ago, a conversation with a friend got me thinking about that ugly little word, “self-control”. And how I don’t have it. It’s that urge to finish the box of chocolates even though you know it’s just too much, or realising that you said “I’m just going to play Tetris for ten minutes!” three hours ago. It goes deeper too. I get stuck on thought loops in my head (fruit loops? Heehee!) About five years ago, someone I liked and admired once told me I was a “terribly cerebral person” and that I “completely live in my head”, which I dwelled on… well hell, I’m still dwelling on it.

So thinking about all this mental lack of self-control, I had a brief moment of self-loathing, and then I thought, wait a second, I DO have self-control! I can not spend money like nobody’s business. I am the only person I know who regularly has bouts of non-buyer’s remorse. And I definitely know when I’ve had enough alcohol, although this is mostly because I studied economics (see here The Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns*). So I have these areas in which I’m pretty good at saying no to myself, and other areas where I’m awful.

Why are there certain areas in everyone’s life in which you just can’t say, enough is enough, and move on with your life? If you expected me to have the answer, too bad – I have no idea.

Let’s get back to the chocolate thing. My thought process went something like this: I’m going to give up chocolate. Why, though? Because if I don’t I’m going to have to order all my clothes from a special website for fat people. OK, but couldn’t you just exercise more? Yes, I intend to do that too. In fact, every time I long for chocolate I’m going to climb on the exercise bike, crank up the Gotye and drive myself until my lungs bleed. What are you going to do if you have a really shitty day and you start craving a box of rum and raisin Melty blocks? I’m going to eat a fucking carrot and imagine how gross I’d feel if I absolutely stuffed my face with chocolate and then puked. And I’m not going to go grocery shopping or to convenience stores.

As things would have it, I actually barely thought about chocolate this week. I did indulge a little with some cookies, and on Saturday morning a very kind Japanese lady with whom I happened to be having breakfast passed around some dark-chocolate-covered coffee beans she’d brought back from a recent trip to Hawaii. I ate two, felt really guilty, and thought about tacking an extra day onto my chocolate fast. I spent a bit of time on the exercise bike, but it was mostly to work off some (probably) unrelated anger and frustration. I stayed away from the places I usually buy chocolate and I was sceptical and honest with myself. I set an achievable goal, and I achieved it. Is this the flaky rubbish that motivational speakers always go on about? Well… we’ll see. πŸ™‚

* If you were too lazy to click the link, here is the Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns in a nutshell, with kudos to my economics professor: if you keep adding the same thing to a situation, each subsequent addition will have less and less benefit, and may at some point even have negative consequences. It’s pretty obvious how this applies to alcohol, but cars are a good example too: imagine if you added a new car to your collection every week. Pretty soon there would be cars that you never drove, and the insurance premiums would be a real bitch.


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