I’m going to get a little personal today in honor of the first day of Lent. I’m not Catholic so my reasons for celebrating Lent aren’t religious, though I think it is kind of spiritual. To me it is a time of self betterment. The things that I choose to “give up” are things that I really shouldn’t be doing, or eating, as often as I am. If it takes 30 days to make a habit, than 40 should be more than enough to break one.
The first time I celebrated Lent was 3 years ago when I started working at my current job. Two of my fellow employees (there were only 6 of us at the time) were Catholic and celebrating Lent. To show solidarity we all decided to give something up for 40 days. We made a list of our commitments and hung it in the office and encouraged, sometimes tortured each other until Easter. The Monday after Easter we all went out to eat to indulge in what we had given up and to celebrate our victories.
That first year I gave up fast food. My metabolism was slowing down, but I was still eating like a college kid. I would skip making a lunch every day and instead spend all of my fun money on McDonald’s, Burger King or Taco Bell. So not only was I gaining weight, but I was also broke. That year Lent also fell around the same time that we were moving into our new house, a time when we were constantly going out to eat because our life was in boxes. Me not being able to eat fast food really made us think about our food choices and really changed our eating habits. It’s three years later and I rarely ever eat fast food, it actually makes me sick now. Now I do indulge in the occasional McDonald’s $1 burger, probably 2-3 times a year, and Chickfila is a must every few months, but it’s nothing like it used to be. Now I do eat Chipotle like it’s my job, but I don’t think that counts as “fast food.”
Last year’s Lent wasn’t as life changing. I gave up soda and it was pure torture. I didn’t realize, until I gave it up, how much Coke I actually drink on a weekly basis. I also wasn’t drinking coffee at the time, so I was giving up caffeine as well. To be honest, this is when my coffee addiction really began because I needed the caffeine. I cheated at least 3 times and bought Cokes and when Lent was over I went right back to my old habits. The times that I cheated I did become more aware of how acidic Coke actually is, but I didn’t care. I was hoping for a huge transformation, like with fast food, and to cut down to only 2 or 3 sodas a month but I failed.
That brings me to this year. I’m drinking at least 4 or 5 sodas a week and it is ridiculous. I have coffee every morning and then a soda in the afternoons and it needs to stop, so this year I’m giving up soda again. I’m also going to try to limit my caffeine intake down to 1 cup of coffee a day. With all of the cyst stuff that happened in January, and is just now ending, I haven’t really worked out at all. I took some “time off” from exercising during the holidays and then never returned, and it’s really starting to show. I feel less in shape and I’ve gained almost 10 lbs. since November, so instead of replacing soda with sugary, high calorie juice I’m just switching to water. I’ll still drink the occasional glass of OJ, I just don’t want to replace one vice with another.
Which leads to part two of what I’m giving up, wine. I love me some wine. It is delicious and wonderful and so full of calories. Since this year’s Lent is all about cutting out/cutting back on bad beverages I’m also giving up wine. I know myself and I know that if I cut out one indulgence, I’ll just move to another. I will still be able to drink the occasional beer or cider, I like some beers but it’s not really my jam, and most mixed drinks are out because they involve soda. The fitness gurus always say not to drink your calories, so I’m hoping wise beverage choices will help with wiser eating choices and help me get back in summer shape. I will make two exceptions to the wine thing though, one is Passover because wine is a very important aspect of Passover dinner and the other is our anniversary because we’ve been saving our last bottle of wine from Paris specifically for that day. You still have to live a little.
There are so many reasons people celebrate Lent and choose to give things up, but for me it’s about thinking about what I can do to be a better version of myself. Being healthier leads to so many other positive changes, so that is usually my #1 goal. When I feel healthy I feel happy, energetic, and just all around better.
Are you participating in Lent this year? If so, what have you decided to give up for the next 40 days?