Religious or not, it is traditional at this time of year to give something up, typically foods that we consider ‘bad’ – chocolate, cake, alcohol, etc. – and I imagine that most women, myself included, have weight loss in the forefront of their minds. If unable to complete the 40 days sans treats, one typically considers themselves ‘a failure’. But why? Surely we can take this instead as an opportunity to learn about ourselves?
This year got me thinking about different ways to partake in Lent. Undoubtedly it is a great way to perhaps give something up you have become over reliant on – perhaps you have been eating the same food over and over and so the move to temporarily eliminate this from your diet pushes you to look to a whole new range of meals, opening up your diet to greater variety and, ultimately, improved health. I’m not trying to argue against such an option, I personally believe that it is great to prove to yourself that you can do something you previously thought unachievable.
Nonetheless, why not give up something a little less physical? As health food blogs grow, exercise becomes fashionable once again and we are more aware of our bodies and lifestyles, it is natural to fall into the comparison trap. ‘She’s doing more exercise than me’, ‘They’re eating less than me’ or even ‘I’m not academic enough’, ‘I’ll never be as clever as *****’, sound familiar? They sure do to me. So this Lent, why not take the time to be less harsh on yourself. Quit the body shaming, the self-criticising and enjoy you for you. Cos you know what? You’re pretty awesome.
And if you ‘fail’? If you eat that food, have a moment of body loathing, a crisis of confidence, or whatever, so what? This isn’t a test, you don’t have to pass, it is purely an experiment. And experiments are full of trial and error, just pick yourself up and carry right on. Let’s stop judging ourselves and each other so much and just enjoy the journey, it’s one long learning curve.
Are you giving anything up for Lent this year?