In Montana, Mardi Gras isn’t celebrated with the degree of enthusiasm typical of places like New Orleans. In fact, if it weren’t for the Internet, I probably would have forgotten about it all together.

But thanks to my Facebook friends in the South, I was well aware of the festivities — which of course, reminded me of Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. And that reminded me of Lent — the annual ritual that many people not-so-secretly dread all year.

Admittedly, I’ve never really been a loyal Lent participant. If I happen to be around other people who are super-serious about their Lent sacrifices, I might join in for moral support — you know, for a week or two.

When I was in college, I had several roommates who committed themselves to some pretty solid demonstrations of self-denial. Some gave up chocolate. Some gave up sugar. Some gave up television. Some even — gasp! — gave up Facebook. (I actually thought the Facebook thing was, in theory, a good idea. So I joined in for all of 48 hours. Then I realized how sadly dependent on it I have become.)

A few years ago, one of my good friends made the wildly bold decision to give up alcohol. I never in a million years thought she would make it. She was the kind of girl who drank beer with everything — pizza, pasta and even ice cream.

But her willpower proved unflinching, even as the rest of us blatantly taunted her with pints of Cold Smoke. It was actually kind of inspirational. Plus, we had a guaranteed designated driver for more than a month. And by the end of the ordeal, she had lost about five pounds.

It might not be enough to make an Arnold Palmer your new beverage of choice, but it’s definitely food (or drink) for thought. Happy Lenting!

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.