Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Yesterday was pancake day, an excuse to eat lots of unhealthy stuff and enjoy gorging on chocolate and lemon curd pancakes (not together, I promise!) and now that’s passed, we’re officially on the countdown to Easter. Traditionally, many of us give things up for Lent, myself included, but this year I’m going to do things a little differently.
In years gone by, I’ve given up some big things. In Yr 4 at school, aged just 8, I gave up my favourite cereal Cheerios for the entire period of Lent. It took a lot of willpower because Cheerios are awesome. When I was at University, I became Vegan and caffeine-free for the entire period of lent (mother’s day aside – the restaurant we visited didn’t do a Vegan option so I had mushroom risotto, the only vegetarian option, despite the fact that I don’t eat mushrooms). It was hard, don’t get me wrong, but I did it and I actually discovered some new recipes that I still used as a base for cooking today!
This year, I have been doing Fat Friday. I have cut out a lot of the unhealthy things that I have been guilty of bingeing on before, and although I have them occasionally, I don’t think it would be a good thing to give up. I don’t drink alcohol, so going tee-total isn’t a challenge, and I don’t smoke so can’t use this as an opportunity to bin cigarettes. I gave caffeine up once upon a time, but frequent 6am starts pretty much prevent this from being done in reality.
So, I decided to make a lifestyle change. Yes, Fat Friday has helped somewhat in losing weight, but I have very much plateaued and stalled and need something to kick start it again. Exercise over the past month has been quite difficult, I haven’t had any motivation to get out and go, and I have had foot pain that’s prevented me from doing some things too. I’ve also been napping a lot more. Early starts do take it out of me, but I have found that napping has been counter-productive in the long run and that I need to try and sort this out. I’m sure you can probably see where the two-pronged Lent plan is therefore going to attack:
Give up Napping*
I love a good nap. When I have done an early shift and I am tired after work, there is something great about coming into the house, changing into my pyjamas, and having a snooze in bed in the middle of the afternoon before the rest of the world comes home from work. The problem: it makes me feel lazy, and it stops me sleeping as well at night. It’s a vicious circle. If I nap, I don’t sleep as well and therefore need to nap. I know the transition period of no napping and less sleep at night is going to be horrible, but I think it will make a real difference. I am hoping it will increase my productivity and drive to do things in the day as well that will hopefully mean I can get more of the house done, and help with exercise.
* Obviously, napping under most circumstances is what I am trying to rid my routine of, however, napping when unwell is often needed to recover, so if I get properly ill (not a sniffle, Flu levels, or proper stomach bug etc) then the napping rule will be postponed.
Exercise Every day
Now, you’re probably thinking that I am majorly overshooting here and being incredibly ambitious, but the fact is that if I do this every day for Lent then I will be used to making time for exercise in my daily routine and will hopefully have become a habit.
Full workouts: I am going to pledge to make sure that I complete 3 full workouts a week. This could be a session in the gym, a Couch to 5K podcast run, an exercise class such as Zumba, spinning, yoga/pilates, or Aquacise, full swimming session, HIIT, or proper hike/walk. This will give me enough time to have a little bit of downtime and recovery between proper sessions, but will be often enough that I will hopefully feel a significant difference in my fitness by the end.
Mini-workouts: I have a series of apps and YouTube videos that provide short workouts. They’re a mixture of strength and toning exercises on the 7-min workout app, and others are small yoga/stretching workouts aimed to increase flexibility, improve sleep, and improve circulation. I hope to be able to complete one of these a day (minimum) and use them in conjunction with the longer workouts to help my body.
I really enjoy the concept of bullet journals, but in reality find them impractical for my daily life. I like a colourful tracker, I enjoy the feeling of crossing off a day and colouring in a square, and find this sort of thing motivates me, so I’ve decided to get out my old bullet journal and create a tracker for Lent 2018.
I’ve also decided to implement a fine system**. I have found that saving money through a fine system has been really fruitful this year, so I’m going to use the system again to save some money for my trip. The idea will be that I make no money, and that I feel fitter and healthier at the end, but if I do miss a workout, the following will apply:
- Every missed day will be a fine of £1
- Every week I do not do 3 full workouts in will be fined at £5
**Again, as previously mentioned with napping, illness could dramatically affect this. So, if I become sick and cannot work out, the weekly fine will be removed and the daily fine will be halved. This will also apply to any broken bones or major accidents.
I’ve got some big goals, but I am hoping for some big results.
Are you doing anything for length this year?
Do you have any good home workout tips?
Please comment below and share you Lent experiences!