I wrote this yesterday as (part of) a comment on beckyc's journal (friends-only). I thought I'd reproduce it here for those who don't know Becky.
I'm not Christian, but I do tend to give things up for Lent, even though some people find that contradictory, and occasionally even offensive.
I find it an interesting exercise in willpower, in doing without a luxury for a reasonably long period. I don't think you have to give something up entirely for it to be worth while giving up at all. And having it be in a fixed timeframe makes it more attainable: think SMART. It can also be easier to explain to people why you've given something up, without having to go into long discussions of motivations. And it can often lead to it being easier to have reduced consumption thereafter: I gave up sugar in tea and coffee one lent when I was 11 or 12, and never went back. And periods of drinking no alcohol at all (usually for medical reasons) have meant I drink less now than I used to - although this may partly simply be the fact I'm no longer a student and have to get up and work in the mornings.
This year however I have a specific goal of making sure I can still fit in the bridesmaids dress which was bought in October when my sister's wedding comes round the weekend after easter. I've put on around half a stone or perhaps a bit more since then, and I could really do to shift that. I'm using Lent as a tool to help in that. I don't have the willpower for dieting "properly" at the moment, but Lent is something I've done successfully in the past.
Normally I only give up one or two things, but this year I'm going to be harsh. So I'm giving up:
- junk food
The latter is a very broad category, though I'm not including sandwiches in it. Basically my downfall at the moment is crisps, chocolate, cake or pork pies with my lunch at work, and pizza and chips and such things for dinner in the evening. Cut those out and what I'm left with isn't too unhealthy or fattening. I may allow myself to drink on my sister's hen night, and a glass of bubbly when we move house, but usually I give things up for the entire period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Saturday inclusive.