Lent: Stop and Start

This year for Lent I wanted to really commit to do something for 40 days. Normally I end up giving up coffee, soda or junk food and I always give in after a week. I think I always gave in because I hadn’t really put any meaning behind what I was doing. I guess I would do Lent more for the ritual, rather than a real purpose. This year, as Ash Wednesday approached, I kept thinking about getting in better shape. I was pretty tired of getting winded after walking up one flight of stairs. So, becoming more active and going to the gym was on my mind quite a bit. I guess I mentioned it out loud a few times because my lovely wife said,

“Why don’t you just go to the gym for 40 days straight?”
In my head I was all like, “Nah, that’s crazy talk. What am I gonna do at the gym for 40 days?”

The idea stuck in my head for a few days, however, and just before Ash Wednesday I decided I would commit to go to the gym for 40 days. You guys know me; I needed a little extra motivation, and what better way to motivate me than to give me something that’s nerdy or gadgety? So I bought myself a FitBit. This little wristband challenges you to complete a set amount of steps per day, helping you to make more active choices. It tracks your steps and even lights up and buzzes (like a little celebration) every time you reach your goal. It’s really caused me to think about my daily choices – whether I’ll be active or not. I decided to change little things like, instead of emailing someone at work I’ll walk to their desk, or how about I walk to work because I live close enough, or maybe I’ll park my car at the back of the parking lot at a store, or take the stairs instead of the elevator.

The Ash Wednesday services at Cornerstone really confirmed that choosing to be more active during the next 40 days was the right thing for me to do this year. We learned that Lent doesn’t always have to be about “giving something up”; we can also choose to stop doing something, negative or not, and start, or substitute it for, something more positive. For example, STOP sleeping in and START getting up early to get your day started. STOP being face to face with your phone/iPad and START having real human interaction. STOP drinking coffee and START giving your Starbucks money to support a good cause. The thought in my head was, STOP living a sedentary lifestyle and START living an active one.

So that is what I am doing I am STOPPING an old version of me, and STARTING a new version. I guess my end goal is that I’m a better version of me so I can be better for other people.

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You’re probably wondering how am I combating the monotony of going to the gym for 40 days. Well, for starters, I’ve recently become obsessed with playing racquetball. A few friends and I play several days a week. On non-racquetball days I do cardio, one day it may be the treadmill, the next it might be the cybex/elliptical. Some days are leg or arm days where I just focus on weight training. Working out isn’t the only thing I’m doing the next 40 days, I’m also taking our dog on longer walks, walking instead of driving when possible, eating better, and choosing to be active even when laying around on the couch sounds so much better. It’s been a little over 2 weeks and I’m already noticing a difference in how I feel both mentally and physically.

This is just the beginning of my 40-day journey. It’s not too late to get started on yours.

-J

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