Staying Motivated Without Reason

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

Spring has arrived!
Hopefully now that Lent has passed, spring is here and we can see more of these!

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?

11 thoughts on “Staying Motivated Without Reason”

  1. I didn’t give up anything for lent, but I could use your idea. We have a drawer we call “the snack drawer.” It’s where we keep the chips, snack crackers and cookies. I find it hard to resist that drawer…….and past attempts to banish myself from it have been unsuccessful. But maybe the idea of only having something when someone else is partaking would work for me. 🙂 Staying motivated after the “rule” is gone is a bit more difficult, but maybe you could keep it going by finding some other motivation – losing a few pounds, just being a little healthier, etc. I doubt it will take long for the behavior to become a habit.

    • Agree. I actually had so much junk food yesterday (Easter) that I can’t even fathom the idea of having it for the next few days. I think my body is telling me that it know the difference now that I’ve had a chance to really back off from it.

  2. I didn’t give anything up for Lent. But your experience was an eye-opening one. I wonder how many empty calories I consume like this. I enjoy grabbing a handful of snacks here and there throughout the day. I think I’m going to be more conscious of this going forward and see what happens.

  3. I don’t participate in Lent, but I noticed that when I started watching football last year, I started snacking much more than usual. I don’t consider myself a snacker, but Sunday football changed all that. Now, I don’t seem to hesitate eating chips and dip -which was never part of my diet. Though it hasn’t drastically changed my over all appearance, if I keep it up, it will!

  4. 3 years ago (I am a Reform Jew) we were challenged to give something up every Shabbat. (Friday sundown till Saturday sundown)
    Suggestions were TV certain foods.
    TV I enjoy but when overseas can go happily 3 more weeks without TV (although I am bilingual (English German and basic French)
    I decided to give up the Internet. I did not realize how difficult it was going to be.
    The first two month I kept asked myself no one is forcing you. Just a short look at the email (My mobile is juwst a phone I will be 84 in August

  5. When I see results from changes, it tends to motivate me more. So even if there is no “rule” imposed, there is a momentum factor that helps me. Just getting things started and seeing initial results is enough to make a big difference in terms of my future motivation. I wonder if many others are like this too.

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