Ash Wednesday

lentToday is the first day of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. Traditionally in my family, we would give up desserts and sugar for the 40 days. It was during this period that I first realized that sugar is addictive and that the less I ate it, the less I craved it.

Last year, I tried something different: in addition to the cutting sugar thing, I tried introducing a healthy habit: fresh vegetable juice every morning. And something strange happened there too: My body started craving this and it became a habit that stuck beyond the 40 days.

Right now in my life, I am in a good place where I am listening to my body’s needs and enjoying the relationship I have with food, even sugar. I don’t want deprivation to spoil this delicate balance, so I want to try working on something else that ‘feeds’ me, albeit in a different way: My internet and iPhone consumption.

I am always connected. I don’t actually ‘check’ email, my email is open all the time. When it isn’t email, I am on my phone, messaging away. And while it is important for me to be ‘connected’ both socially and professionally, this year I want to try switching off a little more. So my 40 day challenge this Lent is switching off first thing in the morning and last thing at night to give my mind a mini-fast as well. As Alain de Botton, a modern day philosopher writes:

The past decade has seen an unparalleled assault on our capacity to fix our minds steadily on anything. To sit still and think, without succumbing to an anxious reach for a machine, has become almost impossible…The need to diet, which we know so well in relation to food, and which runs so contrary to our natural impulses, should be brought to bear on what we now have to relearn in relation to knowledge, people, and ideas. Our minds, no less than our bodies, require periods of fasting.

What about you, will you use these 40 days to try something new?