Lent started yesterday. Did you give something up? I’ve never given something up for Lent before. It wasn’t common in my church growing up. I have, however, learned a lot by giving some food item up for a period of time.
It’s super fun to give up carrots, cauliflower, beets … ha ha! I’m kidding. (And I’ve never eaten beets, have you?)
So, anyway, it’s been good for me to give up sugar from time to time, (I’m pretty sure there will be a post here sometime about how bad sugar is for us. Stay tuned!) and I’ve done it in different ways over the past few years. One year on January 1st, I declared to my husband, “This will be the last Mt. Dew I drink this year!” He laughed, rightfully so. That attempt was pretty unsuccessful.
One time, I started by not drinking pop for one day in a week. The next week I added another day, third week three days. You get the idea. I put an X on a calendar ahead of time for the days I wasn’t supposed to drink pop. That kept me from cheating by drinking pop all week and then having to have my days off at the end of the week. It worked pretty well for those seven weeks.
Last year, I did one month of no pop and another month of no sugar. I’ve repeated the no sugar months a couple times. I’ve learned a lot through those months, here are some highlights:
- It’s hard. It’s really, really hard. You will see sugar (or whatever food item you choose to give up) everywhere. You will attend an event with an array of off-limits food. You will feel stupid for passing up the treat all your friends are eating. You will crave the thing you are giving up like never before. It is extremely hard … at first.
- But, it does get easier! The more times I’ve done it, the easier it has become. It grows like a snowball, gaining momentum as you go.
- A time frame is key. My declaration that I wasn’t going to drink Mt. Dew one year was silly and not practical, especially since a year is a long time. Start slowly (you knew I was going to say that, right?) and gradually add length. Do it first for one day, then try a week or a month. Knowing there is a deadline helps keep your focus. This is not an eternal decision. You can do anything for a short amount of time, right?
- When you start is important, too. Set yourself up for success. Don’t decide to give up sugar right before Christmas or the week before you go on vacation. Yes, there will be things that come up like a Super Bowl party or a birthday, we can’t avoid those things completely. But, don’t pick a time frame that will have too many events that might cause you to derail.
- I didn’t always see results. Last February I gave up soda and then in March I did no sugar. The number on my scale did not change at all, nor did any measurements. I did no sugar in November (except for Thanksgiving) and saw results. I’m not sure what the difference was, but just be warned there is no guarantee you will see results.
- You do eventually stop craving things so badly and you stop feeling deprived. At first, I would see everyone else eating sugar and feel like I was missing out. Poor me. Now, I can see something sugary and not crave it or feel deprived if I don’t eat it. I will still think it looks delicious and tasty, but I’ve lost the poor me attitude.
- When I do eat sugar, it I am able to really enjoy it and not just feel like I am stuffing my face.
- My husband is happy because if I make a sweet treat, there is still some of it left several days later because I didn’t eat it all.
- I never went 100 percent sugar free. I generally have yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast, and they both have added sugar. I also allowed myself an occasional cheat. The key was making it the exception and not the rule.
- Even though I allowed some cheating, having the all-or-nothing approach is much easier for me than some sort of counting system, such as, “I will allow myself one pop per week.” My husband is great at those kind of rules and has success with limiting much better than I do. When I make exceptions to my rules from the beginning, I am bound to break them. I’ll justify why I should have this one cookie, even though I already had one the day before, promising to eat none the following week. You can imagine how that goes. It’s best to just say no.
- You will feel victorious at the end of your time frame! It’s exciting to know that you had self control and stuck it out! You will know that it can be done! Hooray for you!
I am in need of doing another no sugar month to get myself back on track. Between my birthday, Valentine’s day and boxes of Girl Scout cookies being in my house, I’ve been pretty bad lately. I might have to wait until tomorrow, though, because I’m planning a yummy dessert for for my husband for tonight, and I really want to eat a few bites. 😉