Whether you're Catholic or not, Lent is an excellent time to get serious about those healthy resolutions you failed to put into practice on January 1st. Michael Koller, MD, an internal physicist at Loyola University Health System says Lent is the ideal time to pick up a healthy habit. “Since it’s only 40 days, that’s a goal people feel they can attain...there will be lots of people around to support you and not tempt you to fall off track," he said.
Use the next 40 days to give up some destructive habits and tackle these (realistic) healthy resolutions instead:
1. Added Sugar
Give Up: Added Sugar
According to ABC News, Americans swallow a staggering 13 percent of their daily calories from added sugars. There are many excellent reasons to give up added sugar: it packs on the pounds, it accelerates aging, and it fattens your liver -- which forces your pancreas to make extra insulin.
We’re not saying to give up the sweet stuff entirely. Instead, make a pact to stop ordering dessert except for once a week. Or, vow to give up your afternoon Snickers and instead grab a cup or yogurt or piece of fruit. Small changes can have big payouts.
Give Up: Soda
Is drinking soda actually bad for you? Well, to put it simply: yes. A study published by the American Journal of Nutrition found an increased risk of stroke in people who consumed more than one soda per day. Not to mention, soda is filled with excess calories, sugar, and chemicals than can mess with your waistline and your digestive system. Instead of reaching for your mid-afternoon Diet Coke, try a cup of green tea or grab a protein-filled granola bar for a burst of energy.
Give Up: Netflix
Okay, just think of all the things you could do if you gave up binge-watching House of Cards and Friday Night Lights on Netflix every weekend. You could read more novels (here are some suggestions), exercise more (try these at-home routines!), or even just spend more time with your family and friends. Instead of piling around the television to watch a movie, why not whip out a board game and spend some time actually talking.
4. Your Time
Give Up: Your Time
Hear us out: Take a weekend or two during Lent to give up your Saturday brunch plans and pick up a volunteer opportunity instead. Idealist allows you to search for volunteer opps by neighborhood and interests, and, trust us, there something out there for everyone. You can walk dogs for a nearby shelter, assist with local documentary projects, volunteer in the offices of non-profit organizations, and more. Make it a Lent resolution to give up your time for others over the next 40 days. Hey, you might even enjoy it so much, you’ll want to continue when your time is up!
5. Your Smartphone
Give Up: Refreshing Twitter On Your iPhone
And your Facebook timeline. And your Instagram feed. Take a step back from your iPhone and ask yourself if you’re fully engaged in what’s going on around you. Are you currently at dinner with someone? Having a conversation? Then, there’s no excuse for you to be on your phone. We know it’s tempting (I mean....1 in 10 people actually use their smartphone during sex) but put your iPhone away, and actually focus on the experience at hand.
6. Being Negative
For 40 days, experiment with positivity. Start small: Check yourself before you start complaining about your obnoxious co-worker. Stop gossiping behind other people’s backs. You can’t control the emotions of people around you, but you can control how you respond to them. So, do whatever it takes to channel your positive energy: meditate, surround yourself with optimistic people, and remind yourself each day of your blessings.