I (Re)Lent

‘Tis that time again, folks. While I was busy regaling you with overly detailed accounts of my trip to Harry Potter World, it was Fat Tuesday for everyone else. That means it’s time for (some of) us Christian folk to saddle up and head out on a 40-ish day journey of deprivation in the name of spiritual solidarity. We sacrifice one of our comforts to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, prior to his crucifixion. Last year, I went vegan for Lent. This, as some of you may recall, turned out to be an epic failure for my weight loss, since eventually I got bored of salads and ended up on a predominantly french fry-based diet. No bueno.

eat this salad
Not that fries

This year, I’m taking a slightly different tactic. Most people see Lent as a time when you give something up — i.e. meat, fried food, chocolate, soda, etc. I, however, have always been taught that as an alternative, you can instead make a specific commitment/change to better your lifestyle — i.e. go to bed an hour earlier each night or stop eating in front of the TV. In my case, this year I am committing to exercising regularly. It should come as no surprise to you all that I am not exactly a rockstar when it comes to exercising. I have an endless list of excuses that I am always willing to whip out, but what it comes down to is that I just. don’t. like. it. Despite my best efforts to jump on various wagons — Zumba, Hot Yoga, Racing — in the back of my mind I always held onto the fact that, hey, I had lost 50 lbs without regular exercise, so why did I need to do something that I don’t enjoy? It’s been difficult for me to convince myself that I do, in fact, need it. After all, here we are, one Lent later, and I’m BASICALLY at the same weight that I was during at this time last year. Fail.

I mean, I know it’s been a process, and I’ve lost a few, and gained a few, then gained a lot, and did a little bit of exercising along the way to train for races and the like. But still, it hasn’t even been a true part of my lifestyle. I think I may have finally (yes, FINALLY) come to the realization that I really need to fully incorporate exercise into my life in a REGULAR, CONSISTENT way in order to boast any kind of actually healthy lifestyle. Not to mention if I still intend on losing any more weight, and boy, oh boy, do I ever still intend that! SO. Here’s the deal: I am committing to a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week. They say it takes 28 days to form a habit? Well, I’m giving myself 40. If you’re fixated on the fact that Lent is about giving something up, just think of it as me sacrificing a small portion of my general laziness (which, as you all know, I do so enjoy!). If nothing else, the guilt that inherently comes with the season of Lent should help me to stick to my guns, right? Hahaha.

What am I doing here? Excitement?

To kick things off on the right foot, I did something I never thought I’d actually do: I joined a gym. A real, live, gotta-pay-actual-monies-to-go-there gym. As someone who generally has no trouble wasting lots of money, I’m not sure that the monetary incentive will really do THAT much to motivate me, but at least it’ll be giving me options. I joined Vantage Fitness in Falls Church, which is a mere 0.6 miles from my house, and despite the start-up fee, I’m pretty excited about it! They have tons of free classes, too — everything from yoga to kettlebells to spin — so I’ll have some choices that will hopefully prevent me from getting too bored. And since I seem to be one of the unfortunate few people that doesn’t actually enjoy running outside, maybe having a treadmill underneath my feet will help me build my stamina back up in time for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and Reach the Beach Relay. In case you were curious about the relay team, by the way, here’s the line-up:

1. Anne P. (Fannetastic Food)
2. Sarah (Sarah Fit)
3. Patricia (Run Foodie Run)
4. Tina (Carrots ‘N’ Cake)
5. Ashley (A Healthy, Happier Bear)
6. Bridget (Yogurt and Berries)
7. Elizabeth (On Tap for Today)
8. Theodora (Losing Weight in the City)
9. Yours truly!
10. Monica (Run Eat Repeat)
11. Ali (Fit Chick in the City)
12. Melissa (Fitness NYC)

We are being generously sponsored by New Balance, and so our team name is thus “Off Balance”! You know, ’cause let’s be honest: 2 days, 6 sweaty girls packed in each van, little to no sleep? If we weren’t all a little unbalanced before the relay, you can bet your sweet bippy that we will be afterward! (It was my name suggestion, too! Wheee!)

I am still steadfastly determined NOT to completely humiliate myself during the race, which won’t be an easy feat since as you can see I’ll be running with not only ACTUAL runners, but fierce ones at that! 🙂 I swore to myself that I’d be able to hold my own, though! And I know that throwing myself into the ring exercise-wise will be the ticket to doing so (uh, duh?). I had a consult with a personal trainer last night (free with signing up) who helped me identify some goals and specific exercises for weight loss too. And then totally duped me into buying a few personal training sessions, haha. Oh well, it’s provably necessary to sustain my motivation anyway. Teach a man to fish and all that. I will obviously be spending some days where all I’m doing is running, but hopefully by mixing it up with some other stuff in between, I’ll be able to cement this good habit FORREALZ. Wish me luck…!

What, if anything, are you giving up/committing to for Lent?


  1. This is a GREAT Lent goal! I was actually inspired by your Lent dedication last year and chose to give up red meat this year 🙂

    I personally never thought I would love exercise but I do! I think 30 minutes a day, 5x a week is definitely a great way to ease into it! I remember in the beginning I would just aim to do 30 minutes of ANY physical activity (be it walking fast) a day and it quickly upped to higher intensity and longer workouts! I hope you find something you do enjoy? My bf likes using the Kinect and dancing his ass off hahaha!

    • Yeah, I figure that for right now (like I’ve said before, haha) I need to just focus on getting into the routine. Hit the gym on my way home from work, work classes into my schedule like I would any other appointment, etc. As long as I’m actually doing SOMETHING, it’ll hopefully lead me down the path of eventually doing more high-intensity stuff more often. Just trying to work on my consistency right now!

  2. Sarasays:

    That’s a great goal! And I’m sure you’ll do better than last year! 🙂 Exercise makes you feel good so you’ll want to do it more 😉

    I am giving up preserved/junk food in my house for Lent despite not being Christian/Catholic/Religious.Since I work from home full time I am always at home unless I meet someone for lunch or dinner which really isn’t all that often. I’m still keeping my spray butter and splenda but most of the other stuff that is obviously processed/junk food I’m abstaining from. I’m also giving up texting/checking email/checking facebook while driving. I know it’s already illegal but I still do it and it’s dangerous and I need to stop. So this is my excuse/opportunity to finally get rid of the bad habit. And it’s been harder than I thought it would be even in a few days! I didn’t know how much I played on my phone!

    Anyway – Good luck! The new gym sounds awesome! And I know you can do it!

    • Oof, I should have done something similar. I know it’s awful, and I shouldn’t do it, but I check my email on my phone when driving all the time. Maybe I’ll add that as an unofficial resolution too!

  3. Wow, that’s awesome! Can’t wait to see how great you do 🙂

    We are going vegetarian for Lent, and I’m actually loving it. We had eaten mostly vegetarian prior to me getting pregnant with my daughter, and although I lost no weight doing it, I did feel better, and it inspired me to eat better.

  4. Katesays:

    Maybe I should have gone with getting back into my exercise routine??!!
    For Lent, I decided to try the Whole 30 diet (Think Paleo) but extend it to 40 days. I have heard good things about it helping with PCOS symptoms so I am giving it a try.

  5. I can’t live without the gym. Weightlifting is my favourite activity by far and I really, really enjoy it. Do you plan to weight train at the gym or just use the cardio machines and take the classes? Weight training might help you out with your weight loss too, since muscle helps speed up your metabolism. Just a thought.

    I kinda like running on the treadmill too. Especially when I was training for Disney (in the winter) and outdoor running conditions weren’t always ideal. Plus you can watch TV while you do it.

    • Oh I definitely intend to work on weight training this time around for sure. That’s part of the reason I agreed to get more personal training sessions — so I can learn legit exercises and work on building up some nice muscle underneath this layer of flab. 😉

  6. Great job! This year I’m focusing on gratitude during lent by writing a thank you note to a different person each day! In addition, I’ve given up desserts!

  7. Kristensays:

    AMAZING Gretchen! So proud of you for adding exercise in consistently! You should make another tab – like your “Daily Eats” and make it for exercise! Maybe it would make you more encouraged to post something (or be more unnecessary work?)! Or you could see how consistently you do it during Lent (as accountability) and then keep up with it after Lent? Just a thought. You’re a rockstar!

  8. You’re going to rock the house!! Great job chica!

  9. Despite not being Christian or any religious whatsoever, I do Lent every year (except last year, because I was in Europe!). I think it’s good to spend 40 days realising you in fact CAN live without something you thought you’d die without.

    This year I’m kind of doing the same things as you though – just committing myself to exercising 6 days a week. I’m also giving up booze though, which should be tough (oh, except for on St. Patrick’s Day – but that’s anothing religious celebration so it’s okay, right?! Haha).

    Good luck on your goals! I’m sure you’ll do amazing and fit right in with the relay team!

  10. Good luck lady!

    I am not Christian, but I have decided to make a general life change.. I am giving up beer, and sweets, not just for 40 days tho.., for good! maybe.. or at least until the end of the year.. I gotta get back on the healthy train!

  11. Good for you, girl!! I think once you find a class or form that is at least slightly less boring and lame, you will start to enjoy yourself! Spin and Zumba are my favorites for group classes, and pretty much the only reason I go to the gym anymore!

  12. Katesays:

    I too was always taught that Lent can be for bringing a positive change–in my Catholic household, that meant saying a Rosary each night or resolving to read the Bible daily, etc. 🙂 I think the exercise resolution is a great idea–good luck with it!

  13. I chose to give up all fast food and restaurants, So I will be cooking at home and only eating home cooked meals. I know it doesnt sound that hard but I have been craving everything fast food recently and the scale has not been nice.

    That is great I did that a few years ago and let me tell you it sure does get you into the habbit to workout. Have fun with it.

  14. I too decided to take on or commit to something to better my lifestyle for Lent. I decided to take on exercising for Lent. It is something I should be doing and figured 40 days was a good start. I look at it from the Christian perspective that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and I should take better care of it.

    Good luck with your commitment!

  15. I’m proud of you for joining a gym! I hope that it helps and if personal trainer sessions help you with accountability and inspiration then I think that’s great too. I’m giving up candy and chocolate but I like some of the other ideas people have put on here!

  16. I didn’t give anything up for Lent. I am kind of on your page – instead I am making sure to eat something green for every meal. A great way to get my veggies in!

    That relay looks like SO MUCH FUN. I am super jealous. 🙂

  17. kristen @ livinlifeinlouiesays:

    I completely agree. I dont think “giving somethin gup” is the best method (and who really does that for 40 days! haha)
    I want to eat “cleaner” and get off the computer when my son is awake. That way I focus on him!
    Also, I love my gym. Its also a great motivation when you see other people sweating and lifting, that makes you want to too

  18. I’m a Christian but have never observed Lent in this way (I struggle theologically with the idea that we make a sacrifice for 40 days and then just … stop?) but I am always on board with making positive changes — I think this is a great goal for you!

    Do you have any kind of incentives or anything in place to keep you motivated? I mean beyond just reflecting on Christ’s sacrifice. 😛 Right now I’m trying to get more sleep so I’m rewarding myself at the end of every week with something small (today it was magazines) if I can turn off the computer/be in bed by a certain time each night. I find positive motivations really help. Good luck!

  19. Last year I gave up Hot Cocoa for Lent. Sounds so silly, but it really helped me break that a habit that got out of control. Being last year was so successful, I had a hard time coming up with anything – to where I chose nothing – yeah, not such a great Christian, BUT with reading your Lent idea – I may just have to do this too. I need some sort of focus to get back to exercising & Lent is always such a positive time for me to make it because I feel I’m not only letting myself down, but Jesus too – I know – I’m a weird one. 😀

  20. I think this is a fantastic goal and one that you’ll probably stick with. I usually find that when I start exercising regularly, I feel really bad – and I don’t mean guilty, but actually physically gross – when I stop. The trick for me is usually finding the type of exercise I can stick with. Given that I have what I’m fairly certain could be qualified as chronic bronchitis at this point, running and heavy cardio is not the best for me. Having said that, I can still adapt cardio things as needed. When I did that crazy pilates fat-burning workout the other night, I was definitely following the slower/modified routine for some parts when I felt like my lungs were going to pop – but it’s still a good workout!

    I also think mixing it up is good – I’ve heard that alternating cardio and strength training can be a good approach since it gives you a day to recover. And don’t forget to stretch all the time!

  21. You are going to ROCK that race!! Can I come watch you? Haha 🙂

  22. You can do this!!!!! And remember: MAKE exercise fun. 🙂

  23. Kelly O-skisays:

    I’m giving up sweets and fried foods for Lent. I don’t eat too many fried foods (except for french fries sometimes…aaaand I do like nachos), and I gave up sweets last year for Lent. I’m marathon training, so it’s practical for me, anyway. haha

    Good luck! I know you’ll kick butt :).

  24. I could see you really benefiting from the classes. Why do you hate exercise so much? For me, it’s the monotony of doing the same few things over and over. But I’m too scared/shy/self conscious to try classes which I’m sure I’d love if I did. You are so outgoing that I could see the variety of classes working to your benefit if you do them!

  25. What a great lent goal Gretchen. You’ll be an EPIC success this year!!!! Thanks for the links too, look forward to checking out some new blogs. Have a wonderful weekend.

  26. The Reach the Beach Relay sounds like 6 days full of fun! Cannot wait to read all about it 🙂 And great team name!

    This year for Lent I am thinking that I want to try to GIVE something rather than GIVE UP something… Like volunteer at a soup kitchen, etc. I’m not sure doing what yet but my mind is racing with ideas!

  27. The relay team looks awesome! And good for you for “adding in” something so great for Lent!
    I myself don’t “do” Lent, but try to remove bad things from my diet or start putting in better things whenever the mood strikes.
    I have to tell you- I LOVE EXERCISE. I know that might sound annoying, but it’s hard for me to see how anyone doesn’t love it! It’s a huge part of my life and makes me feel so good in so many ways. Now- that being said- I HATED IT until I was about 23 or 24. A friend got me to go to the gym with her at first, and then eventually I started going by myself, and then grew to really love it. And I especially love teaching it now (and getting paid to work out). You’ll get there- I think by the end of the 40 days, you’ll be a believer too!

  28. Wow good for you!! I think its great that instead of giving up something you’re trying to commit to something. I feel like Lent has just become a reason for everyone to try a fad diet, so I always try not to base mine on food related sacrifices. Keep up the hard work! Very inspirational.

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