Eastern Orthodox Lent started this past Monday and reminded me of the first time I had success with weight loss. I won’t call it a “diet” because I don’t think that was the intention. I was twelve and decided to give “everything” up for lent. This included sweets, pizza, sugar, butter, and gravy, etc.
Being a God-fearing young girl, I was very disciplined. I can remember sitting in front of people who were eating pizza and I was very matter of fact about not eating anything. It was as if there was an invisible barrier keeping me from eating anything I had given up. Easter had arrived and I was still reluctant to eating anything on the “bad” list. People had noticed I had lost weight and were very complimentary.
At this time, I had also started exercising. I really didn’t know what I was doing, it was deep-knee bends and sit-ups, the basic calisthenics. More weight came off and more compliments were received. I was obsessed with making sure I never gained weight again!
My obsession led to exercising two hours each day and eating as little food as possible. I would measure out every ounce of found and lived with my calorie counting book. I was so proud when I could get down to eating only 250 calories a day. People would tell me I was getting too thin, but I thought they were jealous and trying to sabotage me. Eventually I had no energy and would just lie in bed crying wondering what was wrong. My hair started thinning and my nails were brittle.
Somehow, I snapped out of the obsession of not eating and started bingeing on the weekends. I remember eating a bunch of donuts one Saturday that kicked off the cycle. I can see still see the box in front of me and not being able to control myself. The once a week bingeing started to be more than once a week. I eventually put all my weight back on and then some (and some more…).
I have tried other years to be disciplined during Lent but never really had the success of that time in my life. I start off strong and then gradually fall off each week. Usually by the last week my commitment is “I won’t eat chocolate chip cookies on Thursday”.
As Lent has arrived this year, I have decided to make the commitment to give up sweets. This time it’s not about losing weight. I am at peace for the most part of where I am. This time it’s about reflecting that God has been with me the entire journey. When so much around us in the world is out of our control, my faith in God has been my constant. May God Bless you on your journey!