Giving within, not Giving up

Author’s Note: The purpose of this entry is not to discuss religion or religious beliefs. Its sole intent is to engage in a dialogue about the relationship between behavior and the current state of affairs in this particular author’s life and was inspired by a dear friend’s Facebook query. Thanks for the inspiration, B. πŸ™‚

The Lenten Season began yesterday with Ash Wednesday and will extend approximately six weeks until Easter Sunday on April 12th. For the last few years, I’ve decided to give up my beloved chocolate during this time of penance, reflection and fasting. As a chocoholic (now converted to a sugar-free, stevia-sweetened cocoa connoisseur), it is a hard-fought personal challenge for me to bypass my daily chocolate fix for six weeks each year. With flushed cheeks and a somewhat shameful head nod to the side, I fully admit that up until yesterday, my daily chocolate dosage consisted of the following somewhat over-the-top schedule:

6:15 a.m.: A few homemade pre-workout dark chocolate chips following my morning banana

9:15 a.m.: A few more homemade dark chocolate chips following my post-workout breakfast

1:30 p.m.: A few squares of Lily’s Almond Dark Chocolate bar as a post-lunch treat

9:30 p.m.: A few more squares of the same Lily’s bar as a night cap

I’ve consistently kept up with this routine for the last couple of months and have been quite happy with the results — my daily chocolate fix was well-maintained and I even managed to lose a couple of pounds. (Although, I believe the weight-loss is the result of loss of inflammation from not running for the last two months. But, that is fodder for a future post…). So even though I thoroughly entertained the idea of giving up something else for Lent this year, I felt as if I *may* have a slight addiction to chocolate and would benefit from the challenge of cutting out my four-times daily indulgence. On Fat Tuesday, I ate the last of the open bar of Lily’s and the remaining handful of homemade chocolate chips before bedtime. Believe me, I savored every single bite of those little treats, as I know it’s going to be six long weeks before I taste their sweet goodness again. Unlike when I was a child, I don’t allow myself to “cheat” on Sundays during Lent, and truly do just power through until the end. I know, I’m totally hardcore.

Day 1 has passed and I’m happy to report that I managed to survive it unscathed, despite the fact that it was one of those days when my hunger was through the roof. Day 2 is now upon us and I’m still holding strong. (Serenity now, serenity now…) My hunger is a bit more repressed today and I’ve learned that spoonfuls of Crazy Richard’s Powdered Peanut Butter, which I keep fully blended with some water in a bowl in my fridge, are helping to keep my chocolate cravings at bay. (Thankfully, I have almost two full 2-pound bags of this powdered lifesaver in my pantry.) As is chugging water whenever I feel the urge to just tear open one of the five Lily’s bars that longingly stare at me every time I open the pantry door.

I’ve also decided that in order to hold myself accountable during my chocolate-fast, I wanted to add something meaningful to my daily routine. Almost eight weeks ago, I started Beachbody’s new Barre Blend program (which I absolutely love!). Along with being a fabulous program for the physical body, it’s also been an amazing way to keep my overzealous mind calm and in-check. If you purchased the program early (which I did), it came with a deck of “I Am” daily motivation cards. In my haste to begin the program right after we returned from our holiday break in Rhode Island, I never used the darn cards. However, I decided to incorporate them now as part of my new Lenten routine. Ironically, I finish the program tomorrow (but will be doing another round starting on Monday because I love it that much!), so this new routine will coincide well with the beginning of my new round. Works for me. So, I’ll draw a card everyday and then journal about the message and how I plan on using the affirmationIMG_20200227_124946 during that particular day. My goal is to document this spiritual journey online. Some days I may be right on task, while others I may need to backtrack to catch up. But, I’m giving myself the grace to just go with the flow and at least think about how the affirmation may set the tone for the day ahead. So without further adieu, here are the cards for Days 1 and 2:

Day 1: I AM Extraordinary. “I own my greatness and am so much more than ordinary.”

Now, considering the fact that I pulled this card on Day 1, I was just a bit intimidated. Sort of a high bar to set on the very first day. But, after taking the time to reflect on its message, I think it is actually pretty perfect in laying the foundation for the next six weeks. It’s not easy to “give up” something that’s become part of your routine and/or something you rely on. Did I really need to eat chocolate four times a day in order to keep my body properly fueled and nourished? Probably not. Did I rely a bit too much on my sweet treats to boost my energy before I exercised, treat myself after my workout and help me relax after the girls went off to bed? Probably. So, there you have it. My need for chocolate far outweighed its actual benefits and now I get the opportunity to spend the next six weeks learning how to cope with these situations minus my chocolate fix. The question now becomes: Will I go back to my chocolatey ways after these six weeks are over? We’ll just have to wait and see. πŸ™‚

Day 2: I AM Transforming. “I have the power to change, learn and grow.”

I think I pulled another ace in the hole with Day 2’s card, as well. Based on Day 1’s goal of finding the extraordinary strength I’ll need to get through these next six weeks sans my chocolate crutch, I’ll definitely be demonstrating the power to change during this unique opportunity to learn and grow. Trust me, these next six weeks of affirmations aren’t all going to focus on my psychological need for chocolate and everything that I’m doing to suppress these feelings. I’m hoping to add reflecting on and journaling about these affirmations to my daily routine in the hopes of making writing as much a part of my day as my morning workout. I am a creature of habit and have high hopes that the simple act of choosing a card at random and writing about how the card may impact my daily mindset will become as natural to me as lugging myself down to my home gym in the early hours of the morning to get my sweat on.

And, there you have it, folks. I’ve outlined my master plan for the 2020 Lenten Season, a time that, for me, is not as much about giving something up (as a lone tear slips down my cheek in memory of my dear cocoa companion), as adding something into the mix. And when Easter Sunday rolls around and I’m ready to take that first bite of chocolate after our 40-day separation, I will (hopefully) revel in my extraordinary transformation and the new path that I allowed it to pave for me.

Now let me go check the expiration date on those Lily’s bars while I help myself to another few spoonfuls of peanut butter…

Happy Thursday, Friends!


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