Tag Archives: #habits

Lent: to “give up” or not?

21 Feb

A client of mine asked for my input on what she could give up for Lent this year and I told her I’d write a blog post with my response.

Much like New Year’s resolutions, Lent is a very popular time of year for many folks to make big adjustments/resolutions/changes to their lives, and often, their health.  A huge part of the Christian Lenten season is fasting or giving something up for the 40 days duration.  The meaning behind this is a significant one in the Christian faith and goes beyond the scope of this blog.  My focus is on how anyone (religious or not) can use this Wednesday- February 22nd- as a starting point for change in their lives.  I believe it does not have to be limited to abstinence of a single thing; sometimes adding something enriching is just as great.

Here are some helpful tips and things to consider:

1) Think about your overall goals and what you want to accomplish in general.  Then, try to find one small part on which you can focus your Lenten promise.  It is impossible to try to cover everything, so pick a part that is important to you.   For example, if you are aiming to rid your diet of all processed foods and move toward a more clean way of eating, choose ONE food to omit during Lent.

2) Choose to give up OR add something that you will try to maintain even after Lent is over.  Consider which choices are most beneficial to your health and well-being in the long haul, not just 40 days.  For example, don’t give up alcohol for 40 days while stockpiling 6-packs of your favorite beer so you can binge on day 41.  Instead, try making the promise to reduce your alcohol intake from X drinks per week to Y drinks per week, and stick with that beyond Easter Sunday.

3) If you can’t think of something to give up, then DON’T!  I know many folks that struggle with thinking of what to omit from their lives when they actually could benefit a tremendous amount from adding something in.  For example, you could promise to add 1 hour of sleep per night if you feel you’re not getting enough.  Or you could add more water, fruits, veggies, exercise, etc into your daily routine.

4) Do NOT, by any means, give up something good or beneficial for you!!! It is mostly in jest, but people have told me they plan on giving up exercise, fruits or veggies for Lent.  This is an opportunity to build in healthy habits, not get rid of them!!

5) Do not set yourself up for failure.  I’ll give a personal example here: I am a very busy person and need a little caffeine to get through my long days.  While I HAVE successfully given up coffee several times for Lent in previous years, I have never gone so far as to give up caffeine completely.  Without coffee, I turned to green and black tea for my caffeine and consumed these things in small amounts.  I know that trying to give up caffeine, in totality, is probably not a likely option for me.

6) Lastly, here are some of the best Lenten promises I have made in the past, for you to use as inspiration:

Gave up: coffee, swearing, biting my nails, beer, peanut butter (this led to my love affair with almond butter!)

Added: more sleep, more water every day, taking 20 mins each day to write, read more books for pleasure (non school related), call family at least 1x/wk, keep in touch with old friends/colleagues

And this year I am going to start a special Lenten promise: I am going to incorporate the Paleo Diet into my life!  I will be blogging weekly about how this goes, so you can all follow along and ask questions.

I’d love to hear your comments on what you think about “giving up” things for Lent and what you choose to do this year!


“cheat days”- we all have them

1 Jul

I get into conversations with people ALLLL the time about my diet- what I eat, what I don’t eat, and how I manage to “eat so healthy all the time!?”   I get asked questions like “Don’t you ever crave cookies or cake??”, “How can salad be so satisfying? Wouldn’t you just rather have pizza??”, and “Oh come on, eating so healthy can’t be that satisfying!”.

Truth is- yes of course I crave sweets and other “forbidden foods”;  while I absolutely truly love salad, sometime I DO want pizza; and eating healthy IS satisfying but I fully admit that I have my “cheat days”.  I break the rules every so often- I eat candy, cake, cookies, hamburgers, french fries, nachos, and maybe even some Munchkin donuts!!  Not all at once of course; but in small bits and on an infrequent basis.  Yes you read that right- I sometimes eat the food I consider to be JUNK!    And I do it because its only human to have cravings and equally as human to allow myself a treat every once and a a while.

I truly believe that it is because of the occasional treat and “cheat” that I am otherwise able to keep a healthy diet full of whole, REAL foods.  95% of the time I eat unprocessed foods that came directly from the ground, a tree/vine, or an animal.  I am aware of what I choose to eat and drink, and I compliment my healthy eating habits by exercising regularly and maintaining a generally healthy lifestyle.  Because this is the case 95% of the time, I allow myself to enjoy and splurge the other 5% of the time.  The key here is that the splurges are the EXCEPTION and not the rule.  Save them for special occasions- holidays, birthdays, important dinners, etc.

With the 4th of July holiday weekend here, it will no doubt be a time where we are surrounded by tempting foods at parties and BBQs.  Whether its potato chips, double chocolate brownies, BBQ ribs, cookies, ice cream cake or anything else that makes you salivate, don’t restrict yourself to the point of being miserable.  Instead do the opposite- plan to indulge during this special occasion.  Pick your favorite treat and allow yourself a small portion of it.  Be sure to take your time eating it- don’t shove it all in your mouth at once.  Enjoy each bite, savor the texture and flavors and really let it be an experience.  It’ll satisfy any cravings you’ve been having, and you’ll be less likely to binge on unhealthy foods in an unplanned way.

Food is delicious and fun.  It is made to be enjoyed so do just that!  All foods can be enjoyed in moderation and even the fittest, most health-conscious person can “Cheat” once and a while!

Have a HAPPY and safe 4th of July!!!

back in the saddle again

18 May

We’ve all been there- the moment where we realize we’ve fallen off the saddle, out of a routine, and away from healthy habits.  It could happen in any area of life; working out, keeping in touch with friends, visiting family, eating healthy, staying organized, or taking time for ourselves.  We realize this has happened, that a variety of reasons have contributed to its occurrence, and decide to get back on track.  Then a very funny thing happens: we try to pick up right where we left off.  We expect to get right back in the saddle again and not miss a single beat.  More often than not, this is not the case and it creates an immediate sense of disappointment, confusion, discontent, and probably aggravation.

“Well I could run 3 miles a month ago, why am I struggling to make it a half mile now!?”

“My best friend and I used to talk every day and had a weekly lunch date, but these days we can’t seem to find 10 minutes to catch up on our week!”

“I used to be so organized, and now things have become so disheveled that I don’t even know where to begin.”

“I was eating clean, whole, healthy foods and then after that holiday weekend I couldn’t get away from the treats, desserts, and fast food.”

Those thoughts and questions swirl through our heads and before we know it, we have created an air of self-doubt and frustration.  The routine/habit we once found to be a positive source of balance suddenly leaves a taste of resentment in our mouths.  Sometimes, this results in giving up our efforts altogether.

Well, guess what?? Give yourself a break!!!! You can not expect to jump right back into your old routine without an adjustment period.  It will take some time to remember old patterns, habits, and routines; more importantly, it takes time to remember WHY we held those routines close to begin with.  What was the driving force behind the habit?  What made it such a priority over other things in life?  What was missing when this routine was gone from daily life?  What do we hope to regain in life by bringing this habit back? Answering these questions helps us regain the FIRE inside and the flames of commitment, passion, and desire will burn strong again.  This is what will get us through that adjustment period, when things aren’t exactly as we want them to be but are well on their way.  That FIRE will carry us over that hump until our routine/habit/pattern is back and in full effect.

Nobody is perfect. We all fall off the saddle once and a while.  I think its actually a good thing- it forces us to take inventory on the important things in our lives, and the reasons WHY we hold them to be important.  Next time you have a moment where you realize “Wow, I haven’t _________ in so long!”, stop and think about what you’ve lost and gained.  Get that FIRE back and make a promise to yourself that you will work HARD to get back in the saddle again.