Not everybody practices the rituals of the Lenten season. Lent is observed by catholics and many Christians, and is a time to reflect and make positive changes in their life for the better; through prayer, fasting and charity. Lent means "spring" or "new birth."
It is so often that we “give up” something for the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday, and then we go back to the same routine.
Many people during the spring season engage in the same behaviors as those observing Lent, or vice versa. Many of us make springtime goals to be better, more organized, nicer to to our families, lose some weight, start an exercise program, stop drinking coffee, no more wine, no bread...essentially “give something up”. The desire to make yourself better and practice more control of your choices is good. Writing down the necessary action steps for success and having your response prepared when obstacles occur; even better.
Create a new habit:
I have been writing about habits and behavior change since 2008, and believe that habits dictate most of what we do. Growing up with a father that touted repeatedly “30 days to make or break a habit”, sinks in over time. Change requires willingness to change, self discipline and simple, achievable steps. We tend to take extreme paths that are not sustainable. We fast, cleanse, and diet in preparation of summer, or after the holidays. The energy, time and money it takes us to get our brains wrapped around starting a “new program”, starting, achieving the goal and then somehow coming full circle is the definition of insanity. You may have heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Doing things repeatedly the same time everyday helps create a habit. If you typically grab a diet soda in the afternoon, replace that with green tea. If you are not drinking enough water, then find a time that you will add 8 oz. to your day, if you are drinking too much coffee, then drink one less each day this week and go from there. If you have been enjoying a high calorie snack in the afternoons, replace that with a healthier choice, like an apple. You might discover these actions are more your habit or routine rather than your true desire to have whatever it is. Use Lent or spring as the time to create those new habits that will last a lifetime.
Change one thing at a time, be specific with your goal, make it measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound. That is a S.M.A.R.T goal. It is formed in the positive frame of what you will do, not what you won’t do; i.e., not what you are “giving up”. Here are some of examples of S.M.A.R.T goals:
Delay immediate gratification:
I agree it is way more exciting to see 5+ pounds come off in one week! It is not way more exciting to hear about the toll that takes on your physical body, body chemistry and organs…yo-yo dieting is not helpful. It is harmful; both physically and mentally. Changing one thing at a time may take more time for results, but the results will show up. The benefits of your achievement go far beyond the physical.
The “I can’t have that” extreme diet plan takes the fun out of dining with friends and not allowing yourself to enjoy one glass of wine or one piece of bread with your healthy meal. One piece of bread or one glass of wine, paints a picture of moderation. One of anything, and only sometimes (depending what it is), is the right practice. It is a good approach for all of us; (one cup of coffee (not 3), one glass of wine (not two or three), 6 baby carrots (not chips-except at Friday lunch, for example). Life is about choices. We cannot have everything all of the time, and we certainly should enjoy the good times, and practice moderation, and moderation in moderation at times.
So, if you are planning for your spring renewal, whether through Lent or in your regular spring ritual, play for life this time. Take baby steps and make it sustainable. Ultimately, the picture is bigger than your summer body. It is truly about your health and wellness....and of course, your summer body;), that lasts through the seasons!
See more of my blogs on this topic for encouragement. Ready for change? Dive in!
My passion and purpose is helping people reach their full potential and master their wellbeing.
Disclosure: Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before beginning any diet or exercise program and ask whether you are healthy enough to engage in a diet and exercise program. Never disregard, avoid or delay in obtaining medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider concerning your overall health and wellness, including your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. It is your choice to follow the suggestions, opinions and advice given by a Health Inspires wellness coach.