Tag Archives: healthy

Why I’m not giving up anything for Lent

8970182946_40dc985e84_bPost-Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday, whichever you prefer) all everyone seems to be talking about is what they are giving up for Lent – whether a practising Christian or not, it has become engrained in our culture that we should go through life systematically making sacrifices to break up the times when we gorge ourselves silly. There seem to be three main types of people who I have spoken to on the subject – those who try and fail continuously at dieting and are using this as an excuse to make another half-hearted attempt at losing weight. Then there are those who fancy a personal challenge of seeing if they can give up something for around six weeks, some even do it for charity. And finally, those who use Lent as a way to start a longer project of giving up bad habits like smoking.

The one I seem to hear about repeatedly, it seems to be the only thing on peoples’ minds lately, is losing weight, This seems to be the motivation behind any of these sacrifices whether it is stopping drinking, eating sweets or chocolate, or for those who decide to take up exercise. I have no problem with people wanting to improve themselves or their health, but there is rarely any mention of this. Everyone seems more concerned with losing weight and doing it as quickly as possible by starving themselves or cutting out any treats rather than changing their lifestyle to keep the weight off long term and becoming a healthier person who is stronger and more toned. I really hate the way our society has become so focused on this cycle of gorging and purging – so many seem to go for a “health kick” which sees them working out loads and cutting back their foods to an unhealthy extent or even sticking to a liquid diet. This is crazy and totally ridiculous – how on earth can they possibly think this is maintainable long-term? And if it is not, what is the point when you will only put the weight back on when you return to normal?

5681629499_1178c11ef7_bDon’t get me wrong, I’m totally in support of those who give up chocolate for Lent and manage to stick to it the whole time – I just don’t understand the point when the same individual will, in my experience, go and stuff themselves silly when Easter arrives. I have a lot of respect for people who completely change their lifestyles – the ones who go cold turkey after smoking 40 a day for decades, the ones who completely change their eating habits and create a new lifestyle with plenty of exercise and the ones who cut back on drinking and partying all the time to take part in marathons. All of these people are so inspiring and should be really proud of themselves because they have committed to a lifestyle change and they have created a long-term plan. I am firmly of the belief that there is no short-term fix for anything and a six-week cutting back of booze, fags or grub is not going to undo a lifetime of binging on all of these.

Of course, just to clarify, I am talking about those who have adapted Lent from the traditional Christian season of fasting and prayer to a time of sacrifice for weight loss. I know that there are many out there who genuinely give things up because of their beliefs and this is also to be respected. However, I personally have little time for those who say they are giving something up for a few weeks – is this really a sacrifice when there are hundreds of thousands, even billions, out there who have sacrifice their health every time they take a drink from a dirty river? I just don’t understand why it is so hard for some people to understand that moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle – just as you can’t binge on McDonald’s all the time, it is not healthy to live off the same limited foods, to cut out food groups like carbohydrates, or to have a liquid diet. It takes a careful balance of healthy foods, treats and EXERCISE! Of course it is easier if you enjoy healthy foods and working out, but there are many variations of these and it is just a case of finding the right one for you.

380435359_85e10c439c_oI like to think I have found my balance – I eat healthily, drink plenty of water and work out a few times a week, but I also enjoy getting drunk on a night out and going out for a nice meal. I never sacrifice or stop myself from having something I want, I just work harder at the gym to balance it out. This is my motto for life, if you want things, you have to work for them. Quite frankly, if you want that dream body, you need to work for it, not take the easy option. This is why I am not giving up anything for Lent – a) I just don’t see what sacrificing something for six weeks will achieve, and b) I feel that actually I already have a balanced lifestyle and I genuinely don’t know what I would give up! Why not join me? Forget about Lent and make some real life changes, get healthy and fit for life, not just until Easter.

Have you given anything up for Lent? What was your motivation and do you think you will stick with it?

Image

Fasting, dieting or starvation – what ever happened to enjoying a healthy lifestyle?

Fasting, dieting or starvation - what ever happened to enjoying a healthy lifestyle?

I was ashamed to see my mother lovingly unpacking a book she had ordered last night. Unpacking the packaging as delicately as if it were a newborn baby, she squealed with glee and called me over to look at what she had in her hands.

To my horror, it was the new 5:2 cooking book which offers a range of “delicious” meals that are 500 calories or less to help you fast on certain days of the week.

What kind of lunacy is this? On what planet do women believe that they should starve their bodies of nutrition for two days a week in order to be unhealthily skinny and model a body more often owned by the starving children in third world countries?

I think it is disgusting that society has made women feel they must lose weight in such a ridiculous manner that could pose serious health risks – in one magazine article I read that a woman’s reproductive system had actually shut down because her body went into starvation mode and could no longer cope.

But what I think is even more disgusting is the fact that women in society are now stupid enough and naive enough (and sadly, I must now include my mother in this category) to buy into this fad and potentially be willing to cause their bodies serious harm in the process.

I have always been one for a healthy lifestyle and go to the gym or swim three times a week, purely because I love to exercise and as a social experience because many of my friends attend the same gym. I don’t do it to be skinny or loose weight, I prefer to build muscle and tone up which in turn makes me weigh more as muscle is heavier than fat.
I go to the gym because I like to set myself personal challenges and to push myself using machines to build up the weights and resistance I am using.

I also eat extremely healthily, again, because I enjoy it – I love healthy food. I have always craved salad and fish and fruit, but I am also known to indulge in a few cocktails, cakes and sausage rolls!

I eat to fuel my body for exercise, and just as I deserve a rest day from exercise, my tummy deserves a treat from the usual healthy food every now and again. The key is moderation and a good attitude!

Far too many people seem to think that eating less is the key to losing weight when really they need to get off their bottoms and start moving more and faster.

I know it is hard to fit in workouts around a full time job and to have the energy when you get home, but I work a full time job, am studying for a Diploma in Journalism distance learning, have a pretty packed social life and contribute regular articles to a festival website – yet I still manage to find time.

I think there are far too many excuses in the world and far too many lazy people with bad attitudes. Your body is the most precious gift you will ever receive and it deserves the finest in treatment considering the incredible things it allows you to do. Cramming down three McDonalds meals a week and heading to KFC every night for a Krushem is not the way to respect your body.

Hopefully, I have managed to persuade my mother to shred the book and try a better attitude towards working out – one can only hope she doesn’t sneak the book back out of the bin!

In the meantime, hopefully I will be getting out of the gym soon and trying out a combination of yoga classes and bootcamp to test my body in new ways.