I love Lent. Ever since my very first one, those long ten years ago, I've tried to give up something (with or without a religious context), to varying levels of success. Had my first Lent not gone so well (I gave up red meat, which led to me becoming a vegetarian), I probably wouldn't get so excited about it. But it did, and I do. Much better than a New Year's Resolution, Lent provides sort of a trial-run for things in my life that I'd like to change, but am unsure of. With a set start and end, and the added accountability of God presumably "caring" how you follow through with it, it's a much easier thing to undertake than a vague, "In this year, I will try to _____." A resolution seems so... wishy-washy. There's too much wiggle room. But Lent? It's very specific. You say, "I'm not going to do ____ (or I'm going to start doing ___) until after Easter." Then you just don't do it (or start doing it, as applicable). If you can't abstain from (or commit to) something for a measly 40 days, then you probably have a problem with it, and ought to do something about that anyway. So really, if you fail at Lent, you fail at life. Nobody wants to fail at life, and fear of failure can be a great motivator. That's what's so great about Lent: instant will-power.
My Lent is more complicated this year than many years past. I've given up three things, and made one commitment. In no particular order, I have given up: sex, beer, and doughnuts. The commitment is to go to the gym three times per week (which also involved joining a gym).
Giving up sex just seemed like a good idea; while I no longer enjoy the whole casual thing, I found that I was quick to escalate things with people I really liked, too, and that I was too permissive with people I've been associated with in the past. This Lent has found me in a uniquely single position, with no one even in the wings, and keeping it that way for a while seems wise.
I chose to give up beer for a few reasons: 1) I feel that I drink it too casually, 2) It is empty calories, and 3) I wasn't willing to give up all alcohol in light of Dylan's impending 21st, so beer seemed like a reasonable compromise. I will say it's been a little more inconvenient than I thought it would be (Cocktails are expensive! Beer is so refreshing!), but there was a time when you couldn't pay me to drink a beer, so I have no doubt of my ability to follow through.
Doughnuts are a repeat from last year's Lent. It went well, and I didn't immediately start gorging once it ended, but over time I have allowed more doughnuts into my diet than I'd prefer. Some people think this one shouldn't be so hard, but keep in mind that we have doughnuts at work every day, and on top of that we have special doughnuts from a different place on Thursdays. It's all-doughnut-all-the-time up in this piece. They're tasty, accessible, and free. But again, empty calories, and a misuse of company resources (they're supposed to be for customers). Giving up work doughnuts but not other doughnuts would just be silly - I'm an all-or-nothing kind of girl.
The gym thing was mostly good timing; I had been thinking about it anyway, and I'm just using Lent as an excuse to get me into the habit of going that often. When Lindsay asked me a while ago to go to her gym with her, I was receptive but non-committal, because in general I'm both busy and lazy. But lately I've also become increasingly, unacceptably fat. To the point that schedule and fatigue were deemed less important than a solution.
We're supposed to go together on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, which went well last week, but yesterday Lindsay had to go pick up her car from the shop, so she flaked. Which, of course, made me totally want to flake too. But, thanks to the compelling powers of Lent, I went anyway! By myself! And that, my friends, is an Easter miracle.