Opting out of Giving Up

There is something so beautiful about feeling strong.

Even though I am not Catholic, I usually like to give up something for Lent just to challenge myself. A part of me loves going whole hog and giving up something ghastly hard like chocolate. I only did that one year because once in a lifetime was enough. I gave up baking another time; AOL instant messenger in college, ranch dressing, cursing and the list goes on.

After “The Biggest Loser” I didn’t bother giving anything up as I felt having done without sweets, wine, beer, most carbs and cheese for seven months was sacrifice enough. But I am feeling the itch to see how I can conquer something new. 

I wanted to do something bold like give up everything bad that I love which includes most of the previous list: wine, chocolate, sweets, bread, cheese, the usual contenders. But then something struck me. I am still focusing on the giving up. What do I have to give up to succeed? I’ve been asking myself. And that is absolutely the wrong way of looking at it. I know Lent typically focuses on giving something up or fasting, but I have decided to go the polar opposite of that. And, no, I am not going to gorge on sweets in retaliation. That’s what Fat Tuesday was for! … I didn’t gorge on anything yesterday. I was too busy burning 600 calories in Alpha and wanting to drown in a pool of my own sweat. 

I was asked the other day at work what I was trying to accomplish with my weight-loss goals and objectives. Besides weight loss being an obvious part of the goal here, I want more than that. I want to feel deeply comfortable in my own skin and I want to do brave and adventurous things (like hike the Appalachian Trail) without feeling out of breath or unable. And mostly, I want to feel strong in body and spirit. There is something so beautiful—so much more beautiful than eyeliner or a new dress—about feeling strong. 

So with my goals in mind, I will not be giving up anything for Lent. Instead I will be spending the next several weeks in a complete quest for strength, beauty, adventure and self-love. What does that entail? Probably a lot of Alpha, because Alpha makes me feel strong and empowered and kind of like I want to become a female boxer, but not really because I like my teeth.

But also more hikes and yoga, photography and writing, and finishing one of the seven books I have started recently and not finished due to “lack of time.” If I have time to watch “Downton Abbey” and “Girls” and multiple re-runs of “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Office“, surely I can finish a book.

Again, this may all just sound like a convenient way not to have to give up any cookies, but in reality I have dieted my whole life and, honestly, where it’s gotten me is back to the same weight over and over again combined with a lot of self-loathing. And this being kind to myself approach, it’s not half bad.

And if I wasn’t certain about not giving up for Lent, this beautiful Oscar winner’s speech on beauty sealed the deal. Lupita Nyong’o more than inspires me and so does her take on beauty. I am going to follow her lead.