I will say this...I am Catholic. I even went to a Jesuit college where attending mass was often a part of on campus activities.
I will also say this...I'm a relatively terrible Catholic. I don't attend mass regularly. I don't frequently participate in things like Midnight Mass at Christmas time or getting ashes on my forehead on Ash Wednesday.
But today is Ash Wednesday...the beginning of Lent. For those of us who are Catholic, it's supposed to be a time of sacrifice and reflection, meant to prepare believers for the resurrection celebration of Easter.
As a time of sacrifice, Lent is often secondary only to New Year's for the time of year to make changes in ones life. Often, you give up something you truly enjoy as a sacrifice with all intentions of limiting yourself for the 40 days of Lent and then resuming normal course of action when Easter comes around.
I have a proposal. If you are like me, you often need an external motivator to really push yourself. You need something compelling you to keep working hard...and sometimes that motivation is tough to find. Use Lent as your motivator. They say it takes 21 days to change a habit. Lent is 40.
If you follow the practice of Lent, try giving up one thing for Lent that will make you healthier in the long run. Stop drinking soda, give up your Tuesday night fast food habit, quit smoking, whatever it may be. Don't try to take on everything - don't tell yourself that you're not going to eat *anything* bad for you. But if you give yourself a goal...and if it's part of your faith and belief, it's something you might be more likely to commit to...and stick to it.
By this point in the year - mid-February - we've most likely given up on New Year's Resolutions. Don't get down on yourself if you have...almost everyone does. It's why I've given up on New Year's Resolutions all together - they just don't work for me. But if you need a little motivation to maybe work a little harder as spring (hopefully....it's freaking cold outside right now...) approaches, perhaps the start of Lent can be your jumpstart, your re-invigoration. I mean really...what do you have to lose?
Since I asked the question I suppose I should answer it. This year, for Lent, I'm giving up excuses. I frequently make my own mental excuses for not running, not choosing the healthier food option, not making "good" choices. I've been, in my own estimation, very successful on this journey, but I have NOT, in any way, shape, or form, been perfect. For the next 40 days, I'm not going to make any excuses in response to my journey (other aspects of life can wait til later...but excuses for not working out and making my healthy choices will be the focus :-P). I am going to set a plan for the next 40 days...and stick to it. I'm not going to be "too busy" or rest on the fact that I was "good" yesterday. I'm going to stop excusing myself because I've made so much progress already and work hard to make the rest of the progress I want to make. Lent ends 10 days before my goal. 10 days before my 30th birthday. 10 days before I want to be at my goal weight, which is 6lbs from where I am now. The last little bit is the hardest...and I think, maybe, for the first time in my life, I'm going to set something to give up for Lent, stick to it, and make a change for the better.