...it's not just for Catholics.
I'm Episcopalian, and we follow Lent just as closely as the Catholic church. For a forty day period, many people make a sacrifice, that is, they "give up" something like sweets, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever. Lent began on February 22nd, and ends on April 5th. I'm not extremely religious, so some years I give something up, and some years I don't. In 2009 I gave up Facebook, and I lasted about ten days. In 2010, I gave up cookies, and I was successful. Last year, nada. This year, I gave up sweets (including but not limited to: cookies, cake, candy, ice cream, etc) and it's actually been great.
In my place of employment, we see a lot of food. We have lunches, we have birthday cakes, we have people stopping in with food, et cetera. Combine that with sitting for most of the day and it's easy to put on some pounds. I've found that if I eat sweets regularly, I want them more because my body craves that sugar. Since the beginning of the year through February 21st, I was eating something sweet four to five times a week!
Today is the 22nd day of Lent and I am happy to report that I am still sweet-free. On more than one occasion I've wanted something sweet in a terrible way, but about 10-15 minutes later, the craving is gone. But that's not the best part! I've seen two noticeable changes in my body:
1. I've lost weight! My gym has a scale that measures not just weight, but fat mass and water mass as well. Three weeks ago, I got on that scale and had a weight of X with about 70 pounds of water mass. On Monday, I got on the scale again, saw that I had the same water weight, but my total weight was down almost three pounds. I lost fat, not water!
2. My skin is clearer. I always say that things happen to me later in life than they do for others, namely my hormonal functions. In high school, when your face is supposed to look like the Swiss Alps, I had clear skin. It wasn't until college that I started breaking out, and I still do. "They" say that what you eat doesn't make you break out, but I am no longer a believer of that thought. If a diet of fast food can give you terrible health problems, then how can excess sugar NOT give you skin problems? Since my sugar intake has gone way down, so have my breakouts. In fact, I don't think I've had a new breakout on my face in weeks!
Needless to say, I am feeling pretty good right now. My plan is to continue limiting my sugar intake even after Lent and see what happens.
2012 is proving to be a good year for me so far and I hope it continues!