Now, first off, I just want to say that it's not the religious observance of Lent that I'm anti, it's the posts filling up my Instagram feed about people giving up: (tick any/all that apply) chocolate, booze, gluten, dairy, wheat, sugar, happiness (I could go on) in the name of #fitness or #fitspo.
Why? Because in my mind, fitness isn't about self-denial or penance. It's not about denying yourself an arbitrary food or ingredient for a certain period of time before gorging on it when that time is up (hello Easter eggs) and - let's face it - that's what happens.
More often than not, when people give something up, they fill that space with something else. For example, you may give up chocolate but, unless your sweet tooth magically disappears overnight, the likelihood is that you'll still be reaching for the cookie jar.
Besides, setting ourselves these kinds of goals that are all about abstinence just make you want that one thing you're not supposed to have even more. And if/when you 'fail' and break down and have that bowl of pasta/slice of bread/ice cream/whatever you feel even worse about yourself than you did at the start of the whole endeavour. Basically, it's no fun at all and - in my humble opinion - is just an exercise in self-punishment.
In my view, a much healthier (mentally and physically) route is to make good nutritional choices on a daily basis, not just over the next 40 days, because everyone else is posting about it on social media.
It's around this time of year that the New Year resolutions we've made start to fall by the wayside and I appreciate that for some people Lent is a chance to push that reset button and start all over again. But, instead of giving up 'something bad' for Lent, why not just try to manage your intake of whatever that 'something' is on a daily basis?
For example, if you were thinking about giving up chocolate, look at how often you're having it. Is it once a week, twice a week, most days, every day? Whichever it may be, instead of telling yourself that you can't eat it at all, start by just halving the amount you have either in quantity or frequency. If it's once a week go for once every two weeks or having half the amount you would normally eat - have half the Snickers bar and leave the rest for next week.
How does that change your outlook? More importantly, how does that change the way you feel? Give it a try and see what happens, you might surprise yourself.
In the long run, management is much more sustainable than abstinence. So instead of here's to the next 40 days, here's to the next 40 years!
All opinions are my own and this blog is intended for motivational and informational purposes only. The information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a medical professional before starting a training or nutrition program.