This week starts a pretty big test of wills for me. I wrote a few weeks back about what I was giving up for Lent. For those unfamiliar with the concept, many Christians ‘give up' something that they enjoy for the period of Lent, which extends for about 6-7 weeks between Ash Wednesday and ending with the arrival of Easter, with the reason being that giving something up acknowledges the great sacrifice made by Jesus when He died for us.
What I Gave Up For Lent This Year
History lesson aside, this year I chose to give up indulging in things on my own. It was a new approach, but instead of just giving up one thing, I gave up a variety of things, with the stipulation that I could only ‘indulge' when others were indulging. This was big for me, as the occasional ‘alone indulgence' is big for me. I'll think nothing of going to the cupboard and grabbing a snack. If I walk by a candy jar, I'll not think twice about grabbing a small piece. If I want the occasional cocktail and nobody else is having one, no big deal.
The issue is that these things became almost habits. Not so much the drinking, but the snacking and candy stuff was pretty much a daily thing. It was adding up and I was noticing that my positive effects from the gym were stalled. I started going to the gym last September, and had lost about six pounds, half of my goal, when that just stopped.
Results From Lent
So, I made my Lenten promise, and it turns out it was a good one. It was very difficult giving up the habits I had taken on. I didn't realize just how much I relied on empty calories from snacking until I no longer had it as an everyday part of my life. I actually walked
around hungry a lot, meaning that I was snacking and having treats so much that my body was basically depending on it, although it certainly didn't need it.
Also, by not giving any of the items up completely, it helped me enjoy them more. If my wife and I had a treat once or twice a week, it made the enjoyment that much more than if I had one every night.
And, I definitely noticed a difference on the scale, as well. Within the first couple of weeks of Lent, I was down an additional two pounds. Then, I got a nasty stomach bug, and after that was over, I was at my goal weight as it stripped four pounds from me in two days! Ha ha, but I knew that was short lived, as the stomach bug just dehydrates you. Sure enough, within a couple of days, I had put back 2.5 pounds. That still kept me at 9.5 total pounds, 3.5 pounds of which had come during Lent.
Can I Keep It Up?
Now that Lent is over, I don't have the ‘rule' over my head anymore. So, the question is whether I'll have the discipline and motivation to keep with it. I hope so. It'd be very easy to fall back into the habits, though now that I know the difference getting out of bad habits can make, it will hopefully serve as motivation to stay away from them, and also serve as inspiration should I somehow slip.
For those of you who might have given anything up for Lent, how did it go for you?