*Today, I’m beginning a 25 Days of Lent Series. I am not a medical doctor. All advice is just an opinion of what has worked for me.
I recently decided it was time to fast from overeating, drinking and most forms of social media.
It just so happened this lined up well with the Lenten Season for 2023.
What is Lent?
According to writer Philip Nieto,
The purpose of Lent is to strengthen the faith of Christians leading up to the celebration of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the savior and son of God in the Christian religion.What is Lent and the Lenten Season?
There were certain parts of my life that had become a focus when they should have been in my peripheral or not in view at all.
When thinking about the road that Jesus walked to Calvary over these next 40 days, I’ve been wondering what I could sacrifice in order to grow closer to him.
Coffee has been a huge habit of mine for the last twenty years.
I didn’t think I was addicted, but I definitely am. I have major headaches on days I don’t drink it first thing in the morning, and I’m tired and irritable.
One thing you’ll notice as you grow older is that anxiety-riddled activities that used to cause only minor irritation now cause major heart palpitations, sweating and nausea due to your changing hormones.
Our bodies can’t keep up like they used to, and the fight or flight mechanisms that functioned well before are now jumping off a cliff, along with muscle mass and memory.
Ever since a radical hysterectomy at 34 due to endometriosis, my body has changed at a rapid pace.
I’ve had to carefully choose what to allow into my life in all areas, including mentally, spiritually and physically.
For example, I previously could spend hours on social media before my hormones changed.
But when my body began to experience heart flutters and headaches, the smallest irritating post sent me reeling.
I could turn on the news and not bat an eye before, but after the “change,” five minutes of the news gave me major nausea. I couldn’t handle the negativity.
Eating junk food caused minor setbacks in my youth, maybe a five pound gain here or a sour stomach there. But after my hysterectomy, my belly seemed to grow ten inches overnight.
And don’t get me started on alcohol.
Drinking more than one glass of wine made my liver so swollen the next morning it was as if that one organ filled my entire body.
Talking to family about past issues might have bothered me before, whereas now the triggers sent me to bed for days with depression.
Regret took up more space in my head than usual, and I couldn’t shake the blues as fast as I used to.
My husband and children could tell you that I snapped faster, cried sooner, stayed down longer and just generally felt like garbage.
In 2019, I went back to work after 12 years of part time teaching and writing.
I vividly recall the hot day in August that I thought I was having a heart attack in front of my fourth grade students on the playground.
My teacher friends forced me to get checked out, and sure enough, my heart and hormones were out of whack.
My blood pressure was higher than usual, and I was on the border between normal and prediabetic.
I wish I could say that my unhealthy habits scared me into good health, but my bad habits were deeply ingrained.
I felt helpless to change.
It would be another year and a half before life went completely haywire and I decided I needed a permanent change.
Since running away from my life wasn’t an option (laugh- but I’ve seen people do that very thing), I started with a small decision to fast from my phone.
I’d long been off social media and had only recently gotten back on to follow extended family.
I knew it was time to take a break from the news, too, as sites like Yahoo, CNN, and Fox only served to make me more neurotic than I already was, especially during 2020.
Two weeks into fasting from the news I already felt better than ever. My spirits were up, and the nausea and heart palpitations I was experiencing daily were subsiding.
I also knew there were some physical changes I needed to make as well.
One of those changes was to cut out artificial sweeteners, which I’d noticed were causing severe stomach bloating each time I used them.
I’ve never gone back to using them regularly, and now if I have any kind of sugar free food, I instantly regret it.
Finally, I’ve been fasting from alcohol for over two years, and I have to say, I’m confident I will never go back.
Because alcohol is an upper then a depressant (*note- it’s only an upper first for some people), I didn’t realize that I was hurting my chances of healing my hormonal depression every time I took a drink.
While there are benefits to drinking alcohol, for some of us who use drinking as a means of escape, the bad outweighs the good. (For the rest of you, drink up!)
I recently began reading a book called The 40-Day Sugar Fast, by Wendy Speake.
I’m not fasting specifically from sugar; I’ve decided to fast from processed junk food. But whatever your fast is, Wendy’s devotional uses Christian scripture to help us choose our Creator over the creation He’s given us.
Fasting has helped me to run to Jesus instead of food and to Worship Him as opposed to making an idol over what He’s blessed me with.
I recommend it to any Christian traveling this journey of health and wellness.
Life in the last few years has thrown some major curve balls at Midlifers.
We can choose to cower in a corner and use escape methods to cope, or we can meet the challenges we face head on and teach the next generation that healing is possible if we choose to care for ourselves and those around us.
Four Suggestions to Rock a Fast:
- Don’t halfway do it. While it’s tempting to make concessions so that a fast is easier, make a decision about what you can realistically achieve, then stick to it.
- Don’t try to fast too much at once. I want to change my whole life, too, trust me. But one or two hot buttons at a time is the way to go.
- Do speak kindly to yourself throughout the process. Talk to yourself just like you would a friend. After all, you should be your own best friend first! What would you tell your best friend to encourage him or her? That’s what you should say to yourself.
- Do remember your why. There’s no point in changing your life if you don’t have a reason to. Your why should first and foremost be yourself- your health, wholeness and contentment. But then you should remember the people most important to you. My why is my husband and children.
The most important thing to remember about fasting during lent, however, is that your heart intention matters more than your behavior modification. Keep Christ’s journey to the Cross at the center of your mind. This will make your “why” easier to remember!
See you soon,