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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Years ago, I knew this guy Curtis. Once, I was hanging out in a group with Curtis, and someone offered him some gum. He declined, and then recounted how he had a friend who wanted to stop smoking, but it was too hard. Curtis said that it isn't too hard, you just have to commit. He said, listen, I'll stop chewing gum. I won't chew gum until you quit smoking, and you'll see how when you commit to something, it's easy.

Over time, Curtis lost touch with this person, so he never knew if his friend had quit smoking. He had remained gumless ever since, refusing to break his pledge to quit gum until this guy quit smoking.

This story is very stupid, but I can't make it any better, because it's true. I mean, comparing gum to cigarettes...and check this out: we were in the smoking section of a restaurant! Curtis was a smoker, and instead of showing his friend how easy quitting smoking is by, you know, quitting smoking, he picked some random habit that doesn't have an addiction component at all.

And yet, this story stuck with me. Curtis hadn't chewed gum in a few years at that point. As far as I know, he still hasn't.

Gum obviously didn't have a measurable or positive impact on Curtis's life, hence his ability to abstain from it indefinitely, even when he didn't have to anymore. I admit to admiring this principled take on his bet with his friend.

Recently, I quit drinking for weight loss reasons. I haven't lost any weight from it, but I take the fact that I haven't gained any more weight as a win.

I do want to lose weight, though, so I decided to give up potato chips about two weeks ago. In thinking about how long I want this to go, I keep going back to Curtis and his gum pledge.

How difficult would it be to give up potato chips forever? Do potato chips actually add anything of value to my life? How easily could they be avoided, if I just decided that was what I was going to do?

And the answer has surprised me. I don't think it'd be difficult. Though I eat a metric eff-ton of them, they don't actually have much utility for me. And I think I could easily select other sides for the rest of my life.

So we'll see if I have the same willpower, the same principles as Curtis, especially as it pertains to the small things.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Well, I hope Curtis was later moved to give up smoking, too. My mother did that for more than fifty years, with lots of serious health repercussions. I tell myself I have always wanted to lose weight, but I realize there've been times when maybe I didn't care, so at those times maybe I didn't even try. Still felt bad, though. So tired of being so food- and weight-focused. Wish I could be "normal."

    I think your resolve to give up potato chips is a good development. In my childhood, potato chips were like a side vegetable--we always had them with hamburgers and hotdogs, and I noticed that at my older brother's house, they still do that. In my case, though, I tend to want to eat the whole bag, so eating chips is not a good idea for me. I like the way you're looking at this, and I hope you succeed in your goal of avoiding them altogether. Along with alcohol, which is really hard to give up. But everything I read about it (especially related to strokes) makes me understand that I can no longer drink without thinking about it, as I did for decades. Darn it.

    20 days ago
    Those sound like good goals! emoticon
    111 days ago
    I've basically done the same thing with ice cream. I just don't buy it anymore. Maybe once a year now? Same with chips. Again, maybe 2-3 times a year? And at this point I don't miss them.
    115 days ago
    Years ago I gave up "Dibs" vanilla ice cream bites. It was tough, but I did it. Like you said, take it slow, a little at a time. emoticon
    115 days ago
    I think setting a 2 week goal is a great idea. I think you will see a return on your investment for sure and that will make it so that you want to keep going. I usually only have potato chips while out camping. But occasionally around the house we might have veggie straws or pita chips but I try not to buy them too often.
    I think your story was very interesting. Now, if only I could decide not to ever eat bread again :(
    115 days ago
  • LORI-K
    So you’ve decided to give up potato chips forever? They don’t have much nutritional value, but the tastebuds have their own story to tell.
    Very interesting story about Curtis. I’d be curious to know if he stuck it out, his life with no gum.
    115 days ago
  • L*I*T*A*
    wow............such a powerful story!!
    115 days ago
    Here's to willpower!
    115 days ago
    Wow! You will have to let us know how this goes. I would love to give them up too!
    116 days ago
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