Last week was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I know this is completely un-Christian of me, but fasting is one of my absolute least favorite things to do. I wake up on the days that require fasting (only two days a year - Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) and I am not looking forward to a day without eating. Ask anyone - I love to eat. And I swear, the day after Ash Wednesday, I woke up to birds singing, the sun shining, and a giant plate of pancakes - all was right in the world again.
Part of Lent is doing something for self-improvement. That isn't the only part, but that's the part I'm going to focus on. I really, really enjoy chocolate and cookies and brownies, etc, etc, etc. One of the things I wanted to work on in 2013 was eating better - and giving up chocolate, highly processed foods, baked goods, etc for Lent would serve two purposes then. I was starting to feel like my sweet tooth was a little out of control and I wanted to rein that in before triathlon season was in full swing.
Another part of my Lenten self-improvement kick is self control, especially when it comes to food. I have a terrible habit of keeping a jar of peanut butter open on my desk at work - you would be surprised at how quickly a jar disappears when you take a bite here and there and here and there and... you know how it goes. I'm also a habitual snacker between the time I get home from work and the time I eat dinner. Then there is the bowl (or two) of ice cream for dessert. And let's not talk about bagel Friday, the number of bagels I've eaten is embarrassing. Anyway, maybe I am paranoid or maybe my metabolism really is slowing down, but whatever it is, I can't eat junk and just get away with it anymore. I physically do not feel great when I eat poorly - or overeat - and I need to work harder than I used to in order to burn off the excess calories. All this has lead me to pose the questions "Am I really hungry or just bored" and "does my swim really justify three bagels" etc etc etc. I'm going to need to leave second breakfast and third lunch solely for the times that I am in the thick of Ironman training and I'm truly earning those extra meals with 5 hour bike rides and 3 hour long runs. An extra 500yds in the pool does not warrant 5 extra pancakes as a snack.
Granted, it is still early in Lent so there is still lots of time for error, but so far my approach to mindfully eat has been going well. I don't leave the open jar of peanut butter on my desk so I'm now on week two with the same jar. Apples with cinnamon (and some sugar) have been my dessert of choice. Portion control and waiting a few minutes to see if I'm really, really hungry for a second helping of dinner has made me aware of whether or not I truly need the extra food (typically I do not). I'm not snacking a ton at work (I will have something small in the afternoon and sometimes a little something mid-morning) and I try to make it until at least 11:30am before digging into my lunch. Snacks have been mainly fruit and sometimes a piece of toast with peanut butter. No chips or chocolate granola for me! Even after Lent is over, I'd like to keep these new habits up - mindfully eating and having chocolate only once in awhile rather than multiple times a day. The trick will be figuring out the self control once I let chocolate back into my life. Both Mr. Sweetie and I are terrible about this - give us a little and we take a mile. I've been known to eat entire bags of chocolate chips just because they are there (and if I eat them all now, I won't have to eat them later - seems rational at the time). Typically the best way for us to maintain control is to simply NOT keep junk food in the house.