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Calorie-Free Birthday Experiment: Lessons Learned




I LOVE February!


There’s Valentine’s day and a 3 day weekend (I’m old enough to remember when there were 2 days off in February!). Winter is ending, the days are getting a bit longer and the promise of Spring is in the air.


But, mostly I love February because it’s my birthday month.


I adore birthdays!

Who doesn’t love a day of love directed at you? That’s how I see it—a day that friends and family think of you.

They remember it’s your special day (thank you iCal) and reach out in some way. That’s the best—getting cards, texts and calls from people you cherish, especially those you may not have heard from in awhile.


I still have some cassette tapes (!) of birthday answering machine messages from my early 20’s.

One of my all time favorites was a guitar solo and another is when my friend said he was trying to be clever because he knew I kept the recordings (Dan :).

Now one of the most special is the last one my father left before he passed away in 2017.


I shamelessly take advantage of my birthday to arrange get-togethers. I have a group of friends I’ve known since kindergarten (amazing, right!?). We make a concerted effort to get together for each other’s birthdays. Usually we go out for a special meal.


Well this year I wanted to practice what I preach. I talk about focusing on connection rather than food at parties as a way to keep calories under control, weight at your desired level and celebrations meaningful.

It works.

Not only that, I wanted to highlight what was most important to me, especially as I get older—my connection with them.


So I had an open house instead. I picked a Saturday afternoon, had the fireplace going and my friends were invited to come hang out for as long or short as they liked.   Here’s what I learned:


  1. I love talking with my friends.


I’m not a social phone person so I don’t get a lot of chat time in. This was a huge treat!


  1. It feels weird to invite people over and not offer them food.


But that was the whole point! I chose a time between meals and made it very clear there would be no food on offer, but it still felt strange. Luckily these are people I love and who love me so I could experiment without worry.

It turns out it felt weird for them too. One friend explained her thought process of wanting to bring a treat, but knowing I was trying to avoid that. Another friend just couldn’t help herself. I understand. It’s hard to break decades-long ingrained habits. We want to show love—and how do we often do that? With food!

Food isn’t love. Love is. I feel loved when I can emotionally connect through stories and hugs and smiles. That’s what I got (calorie free).


  1. I would do this again in a heartbeat!


I’ll continue to celebrate this way because I got exactly what I wanted for my birthday—fun, easy time with my friends. As a bonus, we saved money, calories and time. Win-win-win.


It takes time and willingness to change a habit. Even one that no longer fits.

Clarity on what’s important is one of the gifts of getting older. So is our courage to act on that clarity.



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