How Lent Changed My Life

Last year my boyfriend randomly proposed the idea of giving up fast food for Lent. Neither of us are religious people so the idea of giving up something for Lent was completely out of the blue. My initial reaction was, “that’s impossible.”

Fast food was my go-to for many situations. If I had a bad day, I would want to make myself feel better with chicken tenders and fries. If I had a good day, I could treat myself to a hot dog or Italian beef sandwich because I deserved it! If I was drunk I couldn’t end the night without one (sometimes two) fast food pit stops. If I was traveling it was automatically assumed that it would involve McDonald’s at some point in time. The worst of it was that on weekends Jon and I were able to hangout we spent the entire 48 hours fixated on what we were eating, what our next meal was, and how we can fit all our favorite guilty pleasures in.  

And might I add that French fries were one of my favorite foods. How could I possibly go 6 weeks without them?

Despite all of these reservations, we pursued. I’m happy to report that I came out alive.

I will admit that I was not perfect in those 6 weeks. I ended up eating fast food twice (both of which while traveling). Despite the hiccups, I had completely changed my habits and the way I look at fast food.  

I was forced to find other ways to cherish and celebrate the good days.

I was forced to find other ways to overcome my bad days.

I was forced to stop my binge eating drunken behaviors.

I was forced to seek other food options while traveling.

I was awakened to see how much Jon and I’s relationship had revolved around food.

I recognized that fast food was only complicating my life, not complementing it. It impacted my health and fitness goals, was terrible for my skin, made me sluggish and tired, and was expensive. I’m a better, healthier person today because of those 6 weeks without fast food.

I started bringing food with me to the airport and on long road trips. In the events that I am unable to bring food, I opt to purchase healthier options such as yogurt and fruit over McDonald’s. I minimized my drunk eating behaviors by planning ahead of time. If I know that I’m going to be drinking, I’ll think about what I may want later and account for it. I know that I don’t have to go all out, either. Jon and I started cooking together more (#bonding) and opting for healthier options when we do want to grab a bite to eat. I celebrate the good days and cope with the bad days by spending time with loved ones, and while I may break into the Oreos or candy, I know I don’t have to take it overboard.

What started as restriction has turned into a lesson of moderation.

Now a full year later, I wanted to challenge myself to give up something again for Lent. I wanted it to bring about the same feeling of, “that’s impossible.” I settled on no TV or Netflix… and then added on no processed food or candy. It definitely triggered the, “there is no way that can happen” circuit in my brain ball.

TV and Netflix have been my go to at the end of every day. They are what I do to shut off my brain and not think for an hour or two. It had gotten to the point that once 7 pm hit I felt obligated to start watching TV, as if it was a part of my daily duties, and meant continuously putting off tasks I actually NEEDED to do. Plane rides that I wanted to use as valuable time on work with no possible distractions were always consumed with a Netflix saga that added no value to my life. Bedtime would get pushed off if I decided to watch an episode on my laptop that would usually accumulate to three. The worst part of it all? 85% of time I’m watching TV or Netflix, I’M ON MY PHONE. I’M NOT EVEN GIVING IT MY FULL ATTENTION. PITIFUL

TV was officially complicating and not complementing my life. Even if it was just an hour of my day, the thought of spending a minimum of 7 hours a week up to 20 hours a week watching Netflix or TV was a bit sickening to me. That’s a part time job! Here I am throwing away my youth in front of a screen. I want to challenge and change those habits I have formed, just as I did last year with fast food. 

So, I am one week into giving up TV/Netflix (and candy/processed foods –I recognized that I started reaching for them out of stress/boredom instead of actual desire so wanted to nip that in the bud). I have some exceptions that are as follows:

I can watch the episode of The Challenge each week if I so desire.

  • It is my all time favorite TV show and I don’t want to risk inorganically finding out the results
  • I did end up watching last week’s episode this Sunday after traveling to DC (I guess traveling is my weakness)

I can eat the chocolates that are presently in my house.

  • I don’t want to be wasteful plus they’re small portions that I don’t struggle with going overboard with

I can eat Oreos.

  • Again, I don’t want to be wasteful and I’m really good at sticking to 2-3 cookies!

I want to stress that I’m not doing this because I feel like I need to restrict myself or because I think candy and processed foods can’t fit into a diet. I recognized areas of my life that I can improve upon and this gives me a time frame to change my habits. My days and daily caloric intake can be better spent.

Thus far, my skin and energy levels have improved drastically from the lack of candy and chips. I’ve accomplished tasks that I’ve put off for months. I’ve spent more time with loved ones – animals included. I’ve been more focused on my business and accomplished tasks that have seen incredibly daunting. I’ve been a better, more attentive coach to my clients. Life is just better without the weird, impending feeling of needing to watch TV at some point everyday. I’m excited to see where I end up come Easter!