Every year, people make resolutions, plan for things they want to give up for the year, and prepare themselves for new habits. I’m all about that life. I love figuring out what I can do to make myself better within the year. It might be exercising more, giving back more, or giving up two hours of screen time every day. It’s a tradition I enjoy when the new year hits.
However, I’ve also had a tradition with myself for the last two years of giving something up in my life for the month of February. I know, so many people ask me, “why now? Why not just wait until lent or something?” to which I say, “I’m not Catholic.” I don’t give up anything during lent. I once tried when I went to a Catholic church with my friend and pretended to be of that religion, but I honestly hated every second of giving something up for forty days. So to finish my response to these inquirers, I say “So, I pick the shortest month of the year, duh.”
I’m someone who’s life motto really is work smarter not harder. So why wouldn’t I pick the shortest month to give things up? I’m a genius and you’re all jealous you didn’t think of it sooner.
Last year I gave up alcohol. I had been wanting to see if it would have any effect on my body if I gave it up (spoiler, it kind of did) and I just wanted to see if I could stay disciplined enough (spoiler alert, I did). So this February I decided to give something that was near and dear to my heart, French fries.
I have loved French fries since I was a wee little one. When my family and I would go to any restaurant, pub food or not, I would want to order a plate of fries. Even one amazing Mexican restaurant in Texas always brought me the biggest, most delicious plate of fries whenever we would walk in. Now, in present day, if fries are an option, my order is a no brainer. If I get a salad, I ask if fries are an option as a side. It doesn’t matter, I love them so much. Which is why when I was traveling around Europe, I was the happiest I had ever been. So many places just bring a dish of fries to your table, like it’s chips and salsa or bread. More places should just bring fries as the complimentary appetizer, in my opinion.
So I knew this is what I needed to give up. My obsession had grown far bigger than I had ever imagined it would.
My process begins internally, deciding if this is something I really wanted to do, if I was absolutely positive, and if I thought I could actually do it. Once I painstakingly answered yes to all of those questions, I moved on to phase two – telling others. I started by telling my boss. I tend to overshare with her and felt like she needed to know what was about to happen to me. Once I told her, my eyes got wide and I said, “shoot, now you know and I know you’re going to make sure I actually stick to it.” (first moment of regret). I moved on then to telling other friends, family, and really anyone who felt like talking to me.
No one: …
Me: “Yeah, I’ve decided to give up French fries this month, it’s gonna be tough…”
No one: …
Me: “because, you know, February is the shortest month, so I have more faith in myself.”
Then began the longest month of my life, where I was tempted by fries within the first two days. I don’t know if you’re aware, but saying “no thank you” to your favorite food is really hard. Every happy hour, friendly dinner outing, and meal at home couldn’t include French fries or tater tots (I didn’t abandon all potato products).
Throughout the month, I found myself just counting days to February. I was hoping I would realize “wow, I don’t want them anyways, I’d rather have this instead!” but that didn’t happen. I found myself just avoiding the places where I could get fries. Going out to eat? Great let’s get tacos. Wanna do Happy Hour? Okay, how about we order the spinach artichoke dip or quesadilla. Instead of tempting myself and showing my strength, I avoided the tasty terrors.
Until, February 27th. It had been a long day facing my fear of advocacy, and my friends and I decided to grab a drink together. We went to a place that is well known for their poutine (if you don’t know what that is, it’s this amazing concoction of fries, gravy, cheese curds, and some type of meat usually) and we found out that was their last day carrying their famous poutine. The table ordered it and I looked at it longingly. I didn’t want just the topping parts of the poutine – no thank you, the best parts are the fries. So I sat there and drank my beer and remained mildly positive. Way to go, Casie!
I don’t think my habits really changed during my month of no fries. I ended up eating a lot of chips and salsa, basic potato chips, or really any other unhealthy side you can have with a meal. I can’t even say my sodium intake was less and I can’t say my cravings ever went away.
However, I will say this. If you’re trying to eat something less, instead of cutting it out cold turkey, try lessening your portion size. Don’t be like me and completely cut something out for a month and then eat a good pound of fries on March 1. Was I happy while eating? Absolutely. Did I feel good that night? Absolutely not.
Everything in moderation my friends.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Who wants to give something up with me in February next year? I’ll never learn my lesson!