As I was doing my yoga this morning, with the scent of fried butter on my hair from a gloriously gluttonous Shrove Tuesday with friends last night, I decided that this year I will attempt to give some things up for Lent (note the plural there – errr…hello?!). I am not religious, but I have been wanting to try out a dietary-based experiment of abstinence for a while, and it seems a good idea to do it whilst others out there are sharing my pain – somehow there is motivation in the reassurance of communal suffering… 🙂
I’ve been here before – I’ve tried to give up cake, chocolate and ‘seconds’ on numerous previous Lents, but have usually failed within 24 hours of my last pancake (and, for the latter, massively cheated by making my ‘firsts’ super-size). It doesn’t help that my birthday usually falls within Lent, so even if I’ve succeeded until that point, all resolve crumbles at the first sniff of my mum’s famous marshmallow birthday cake.
However, this time, by putting my intention ‘out there’, to be seen by friends, family, strangers and random people who search for odd things like ‘naked rambling’ and ‘world’s most expensive muffin’ on the internet and end up on my blog (FACT), I feel I may have more chance at succeeding.
So, not being someone who does things by halves, the list of things that I am going to go without for 40 days and 40 nights is as follows (I call this the ‘body-temple hit-list’):
- Tea and coffee (herbals, green tea and redbush are allowed though)
- Alcohol (gulp – or rather, not gulp)
- Refined sugar (so cakes and biscuits are out, eek – but fruit is still OK)
Blimey, it’s going to be tough. This morning I gazed longingly at the last M&S chocolate refrigerator slice in my cupboard and wondered whether I could sneak a last taste of sugar in before beginning the experiment but then stiffened my resolve, took a deep breath, and threw it in the bin. Anyone who knows me well will appreciate the huge symbolism of this action. Not only do I really like cake, I REALLY don’t like food waste. But it felt good – it felt like a sign that I might actually achieve the Lent challenge this time.
So why am I doing this?
- I am intrigued about how I will feel if I eradicate caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar from my diet for 40 days. Will I be bouncing around like an insufferable health magazine advert, glowing with smug health? Will I start to defy my advancing years in a Gwyneth Paltrow stylee? Will I feel amazing and energised? Or will I be a joyless shadow of my former self, often to be found pressing my nose morosely against the windows of cake shops and stroking coffee machines in a sinister way? We shall see…
- I am intrigued as to why I am generally very disciplined when it comes to proactively ‘doing things’– e.g. my daily yoga practice or training for a half-marathon, but am conversely not so good at desisting from harmful activities or behaviour – for example I still bite the skin around my nails, I still have a tendency to doubt myself, I still pick my spots (sorry, probably too much information) and I can’t seem to give up coffee no matter how many times I decide that this time I will order a mint tea – somehow the order for a latte still falls out of my mouth. So this is a chance to prove to myself that I can have the discipline to resist if I really put my mind to it. It will be immensely difficult, especially on my birthday, but then all the best challenges are.
- Finally, I like a challenge and I like to ‘accumulate new experiences’ – this ticks both boxes.
So, if anyone else fancies giving abstinence a whirl this Lent (what an invitation…) then do let me know – safety in numbers an’ all that. Meanwhile, wish me luck and roll on 31st March, when I will just about be visible behind a mountainous pile of cake and a giant latte, with a later appointment with a bottle of red. Or will I? Therein lies the exciting unknown of this experiment!
I will of course bring you updates of how I fare on restricted fayre, so tune in for cake-watch and tales of whether my body becomes a temple, or just a ruin…