Today is the first day of Lent. Traditionally, Lent is a period of fasting and self-repentance. I'm not particularly religious, but I think that a lot of older rituals were developed for a reason and have value in themselves, regardless of all the other obligations or religious connotations. Think of it as a framework to a better you :) I see Lent as an opportunity to improve yourself. A time to break nasty habits of create much better ones.
In the past, people fasted to celebrate Lent. Now, most people give up an indulgence, usually something that worsens their health. No soda, no cake, no chocolate, no sweets, no bread...you get the picture. We have moved from a society that had just enough to survive to one of over abundance and indulgence. We all have developed poor habits that worsen our overall wellbeing.
Take the initiative and do something for yourself this year. Use Lent as a framework to make a promise to youself. It doesn't have to be centered on deprivation. You can make it as positive as possible but gear it towards creating health, not taking away from it. Some examples are do yoga for 46 days straight, eat a piece of fruit before every meal, get to bed before 10 5 out of 7 days a week, etc. You can also go the traditional route and not eat desserts, not drink soda, avoid high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fats.
Whatever it may be, here are 3 guidelines.
1) Gear it towards health: For purposes of my blog :) Health is not just about what you put into your mouth. It's about your environment and overall lifestyle. Cut back on chemical cleaning supplies, get 10 minutes of direct sunlight every day, a limit of 2 hours of TV a night...
2) Try to be realistic about it: Remember, this is your promise to yourself! You can make whatever stipulations you want to ensure you can actually carry it out (within reason-don't say you will give up ice cream all but 6 days of the week). For example, you can do whatever it is you're going to do for 5 out of 7 days, or only have dark organic chocolate , or run every morning unless it's snowing outside.
3) Tell people: This is twofold-telling people will 1) get your support from your loved ones and also keep you accountable. Let people know what you're giving up so they can support you in your efforts. So that if you are giving up meat for Lent, then they will not make you a meatloaf at their dinner party. Tell your friends and family in a casual email, post it as your gchat or Facebook status, tweet about it via Twitter, or make a comment to this post!
So after all this chitter chatter about what you should do, I'm sure you're wondering what I'll be doing. I plan to do two things (b/c I always have to complicate it). First, I will not eat baked goods for 46 days-unless they are homemade. And secondly, I will not eat after 8:30 except once a week. How about you?