If you're at all familiar with lent you know that this week is when it starts, growing up Catholic I used lent as way to test myself not necessarily for religion's sake but more to see if I can really let go of a habit or see if I can give something up for more than a month. This week with it beginning it made me think of how everyone can use this as an opportunity to challenge yourselves by giving up one thing. Being in the yoga world we are taught throughout our practice of how to let things go; whether they are in forms of bad habits, avoiding foods that your body doesn't benefit from or even giving yourself the chance to do something new like taking 5 minutes away from the computer screen to walk outside and enjoy the fresh air.
Lent is a nutritionist's favorite time of year because for a chunk of time each year their clients do not waiver in their commitments. They choose something to give up for some it’s sugar, for others alcohol or even driving. Their clients forego their area of sacrifice without need for a pep talk or modification or anything. Religion aside, I love this idea of giving up one thing. It’s not giving up all your favorite things, living on juices or canceling social plans. Its just one thing but one thing can make a big difference!
So this Wednesday is the day it starts and I challenge you to give one thing up, just one. Maybe something you have been wanting to give up for a while but never had the chance. Whatever it is, you will skip for the duration of lent or 40 days until Easter, which is April 28th.
If you’re unsure what to give up, here are a few ideas:
Technology - ok maybe not for the whole 40 days but I do suggest using this chance to give yourself an hour a day for the next 40 days to spend without any type of screen in front of you, use that time to spend some quality time with yourself by reading a book or going on nature walks.
Eating After Dinner - maybe this is your chance to give up the midnight snacking and see if it makes a difference for you in the morning.
Restaurant and Take Out Meals - no matter how you slice it restaurant meals are higher in salt and fat and cost more than home cooked meals. If you use your oven for storing clothes or have fewer than 5 ingredients in your refrigerator this would be a good one for you!
Meat - this is what is traditionally given up during lent. While I’m so not a vegan, I do love cheese and eggs and fish, a month-ish without beef and poultry would be doable.
Packaged food - even healthy eaters can consume their fair share of packaged food. From cold cereal to salad dressing there are many foods that aren’t horrible for you but aren’t healthy either. Skip all foods with more than a few ingredients. For example eggs in a package (or carton) are ok but pretzels are not.
Wheat - while many of us don’t suffer from celiac disease or even gluten intolerance, I hear from people all the time that they feel better: fewer GI issues, improved skin and mood when wheat-less. In forty days you’ll have a sense whether wheat is an issue for you or not. Wheat includes bread, pasta, crackers, dumplings, breaded items, waffles, pancakes and flour tortillas.
Excused Exercise - if your indulgence is the snooze button use the next 40 days as an excuse-free zone. Exercise daily for the duration of Lent. It doesn’t have to be an hour a day or super-intense but do something each day for 15 minutes or more.
Second Helpings - giving up sweets or bread is not for everyone. If you can’t bear the thought of parting with something for 40 days try changing how you eat. Whether it’s cookies or your dinner meal adopt the 1 plate rule. Denying yourself the second helping allows you to appreciate the first one.
Elevators - even if you workout regularly, there are many hours in the day most of us spend sedentary, tush to chair. Trade out elevators or escalators for stairs and you have the opportunity to seriously jack up your activity level!
So, what's it going to be? Pick your challenge of choice and we'll do this together. I am giving up chocolate for the next 40 days and I love my dark chocolate covered almonds so this definitely won't be easy!