Tuesday, Feb. 21, was Fat Tuesday, marking not only Mardi Gras but the beginning of the Lenten season. In Christian tradition, Lent is the 40-day period leading up to Easter during which we give something up.
Last year, I went vegan for Lent, giving up all meat, dairy, and eggs. While changing my diet in such a drastic way unfortunately did not end up helping me lose any additional weight, it did enable me to discover some interesting things about my body’s cravings and what I need to fuel it for proper weight loss.
Whether or not you celebrate Lent in a religious sense, what better time is there to start experimenting with your own healthy habits? It is not too late to turn around your Fat Tuesday and move forward into Fit Tuesdays from here on out!
It is certainly not necessary to go as far out of your comfort zone as I have in the past. Instead of going for the whole kit and caboodle at once, try to go without just one vice: chocolate, soda, or fried foods, for example. Try giving up using artificial sweeteners in your coffee, or pass on eating out on weeknights.
If sacrificing something specific is not your cup of tea, an alternative to consider might be to try forging a good habit instead. Resolve to go to bed an hour earlier each night, or limit yourself to just one hour of television a day.
This year, I have chosen to make a Lenten resolution of my own. I have made a commitment to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes, five times a week. For someone like me who, in spite of my best efforts to run, dance, and “Namaste” my way into regular exercise, has always had trouble forcing myself to sweat, this will not be an easy adjustment. I know full well that regular exercise is not only a necessary component for my continued weight loss, but an essential part of a healthy lifestyle in general. Even with that acknowledgment, however, I have always found it difficult to make working out a consistent part of my schedule.
To start off in the right direction, I even signed up for a gym membership at Falls Church’s own Vantage Fitness.
After years of driving past and telling myself I don’t need to pay for a gym because I could always run outside (which I rarely do) or utilize the free gym equipment in my office building (which I never do), I have bitten the metaphorical bullet. I feel confident that I am now well-equipped to be able to literally kick myself into gear.
They say it takes 28 days to make or break a habit. Well, I’m giving myself 40 days instead, in the hopes that this Lent-inspired commitment will help me cement this habit for good!
Give it some thought: What unhealthy habit or indulgence do you think you could go without for 40 days? You might be surprised by how you feel by the end!
Gretchen Powell is a fitness and healthy living blogger in Falls Church. She is not a registered dietitian, nutritionist, or medical doctor, and a medical professional should be consulted before undertaking dramatic diet changes. For more about Powell’s weight-loss journey, visit honeyishrunkthegretchen.com.