Friday, March 2, 2012

A Lent Inspired Thought

This morning I was thinking about how it's Friday which, for me, is supposed to mean no meat on Fridays. I will admit that in the past I have forgotten at times and had meat. I'm sure at other times I didn't think about Lent, or participating in not eating meat at all and ate whatever I wanted. I'm sure there were also times when I knew it and went ahead and ate meat anyway.  The latter two haven't happened in quite sometime. In more recent years if I've had meat on a Friday it's been because I just wasn't thinking.  I don't know that it's because I've been more conscientious of it or if it's because I've been healthier.

I think that a new idea I have just might help me stay on track this Lenten season. Please know that this is from a health perspective. It will help me to remember not to eat meat on Fridays.  I know that there are some who say that I "should" remember this without having to have something remind me.  Guess what! I am a human being. I am not perfect. I forget things. Sometimes I do things intentionally knowing that they could be considered "bad" or a "flaw" by some. 

I have never claimed to be perfect, without fault for anything, or that I do good 100% of the time.  Let's face it, NO ONE does that. I am highly aware of things that I've done that have been bad, mean, or make me the cause of something negative. I get it. I don't deny things. I think I moved past denial when I started losing weight. Even when things are hard to hear I take it. I might get emotional but that's a reaction. When I have time to think about things, I tend to calm, look at them rationally, and accept the responsibility whether I like it or not. I'd hope that all responsible adults would take responsibility for their actions but they don't. It's much easier to blame someone else or use something as an excuse.  I'm sure this is why the legal system sees so many repeat offenders. off track...Obviously.

That being said... If health has to be a reminder for me to not eat meat on Fridays during Lent, then so be it. Please don't stone me for using my health as a reason to remember to not eat meat.  Or anything else for that matter.

From what I have read, not eating meat for a day is good for you....As long as you don't overdo it with other fatty, processed foods (cheese, I am looking at YOU). In what I've read it seems that many people will forgo the meat but just replace it with other unhealthy options. This isn't good for your health... In order to benefit your health, remember moderation in EVERYTHING you eat...And really, that's a good philosophy for all the time.

If you're decreasing meat, you need to eat other things (healthy options).  This options may include foods lower in things like calories and cholesterol. They may also be higher in fiber.  With any eating, it is a good idea to track your values to make sure you are meeting your nutritional needs. Tracking foods isn't just for calorie counting, weight loss, or maintaining weight.  I think it's a good idea to track values for the sake of your health. You'd be surprised what you may get too much of or not enough of in your diet.

Another huge point about meat is that skipping meat for even one day is good for the environment. I'm not getting on some soapbox about animal cruelty or anything. I eat meat. I understand where my meat comes from. I try not to think about it...But I also know that animals are raised for their meat. People have eaten meat for ages.  I do understand though where people who don't eat meat (or any animal products) are coming from. I'm not saying that either is right or wrong because I believe it is a personal choice. 

Anyway... During my research I found a site called Meatless Mondays. Oddly, I was on SP after that and the featured article is about this very topic...Well sort of...It was about the health benefits of being a "flexitarian."  I don't think it was inspired by Lent, but it is a convenient time to post it...And lucky for me, it was right there to read! Meatless Mondays focuses on the benefit for the environment is people give up meat for one day a week. So, if you are at all concerned about the environment, it might be something to check out.  FYI: It does not have to be Monday that you choose to be meatless...You are free to have a Meatless Any-Day; whatever best fits your needs.
The article on SP also pointed out that if you skip meat for a day, you will end up saving money. Now, for me this seems like it would have to add up over time.  I do not shop day-by-day. I generally shop once a week for fresh veggies and such, and bi-weekly for other items like meat, dairy, etc.  About once a month (or sometimes longer than that) I stock up on "pantry items." So...My meat goes in the freezer and I generally have enough there for a couple weeks. I do not make a new meal everyday, and often eat leftovers. Not every meal consists of meat. So...For me, doing one meatless day a week doesn't seem as though it will be a huge money saver; at least not initially. I haven't done any sort of math or anything to determine if, over a period of time, it would.  I suppose I am already saving money on meat based on the way I currently eat. For someone new to meatless days, I am sure a savings would be noticed.

I think that, for me, it would be easy to skip meat for at least one meal a day. Now that I think about it, I already do this. It is rare that I eat meat for breakfast. I have to be cooking something special (like pancakes or eggs or something) and have breakfast meat on-hand. Usually if I cook a larger breakfast, I don't have a breakfast meat in the house.  Anyway, so I'm already (the majority of the time) a meatless breakfast eater.  I also have days that I don't eat meat for lunch.  I'm sure I have more days that I do though...I often use leftovers for lunch (quick and easy).  I may add chicken to a salad. I may use something for a wrap or sandwich. I may eat it just as I did my dinner the night before but may have a smaller portion. Then there are days like yesterday and today when I don't have any meat for lunch.  Sometimes a good PB2 and jam sandwich (on a light, whole grain bread, of course!), with a side of fruit or raw veggies, or even pretzels or crackers.... or something, is perfect. The meal I generally have a meat with is dinner. Typically it's in the form of chicken or turkey. Other times I have fish or shrimp sometimes (like today). 

It really would not be at all difficult to make my meatless lunches and dinners on the same day, which for now will be Friday.  I might even go meatless twice a week. This would be a good idea for my two lower (1200) calorie days, which happen to be on Wednesdays and Fridays.  This is a good way to eat lighter and these are also my lighter workout days. 

OKAY WOW...This seems like it will be a fantastic plan for me to continue to follow. The best part is that it works with what I've implemented in my challenge and well as my recent changes with calorie cycling and workouts.

For now I will be meatless at least once a week....Lent is a good reason to do this, but I think that once I get into the habit of it, I can be more conscientious and continue it even after Lent. The day may vary from time-to-time but in general, I see no reason why I cannot commit to being meatless once a week.

Lent has been a time when people have made positive changes in their lives. The idea of giving up a vice has helped people to do things like stop smoking, stop drinking, stop certain bad eating habits, or instead of giving up something to do something nice/good that they wouldn't normally do like to start exercising more. Some people could argue that exercise is of benefit you so it's not the same as giving up something you love, but for some people it might be just as hard...Or harder. In the end, giving up a vice might be an unintended benefit to you.

I know that many people go back to their unhealthy habits after Lent, but there are many who continue. If you can go 40 days without something unhealthy, why can't it be forever?  That doesn't mean NEVER having a drink or a fast food meal... But living that lifestyle the majority of the time can be of such benefit to you. My feeling is that if you use this time as a starting point for a healthy lifestyle change, then that's awesome!!!

Not everyone practices Lent. I'm not trying to push anyone in that direction. I am not really discussing it from a religious perspective; more of a health perspective. Honestly, I'm just showing an example of how people can use it as a method of helping them change.  It's kind of like the idea of a resolution... Hmm. I find this funny because I don't get into the whole resolution thing. Mostly because I feel I don't need a reason to like that to change. I guess my issue with resolutions is that people wait for the New Year to make those changes and I think "why wait!?" 

I think I need to think of resolutions from a different perspective. I can't very well think that it's okay to use Lent as a motivation for change if I don't think that the New Year is... Can I? It seems a little hypocritical to me.  Then again it is all in the way you look at it....I guess I wasn't looking at the thought of people waiting for Lent to come around to make a change.  Some might though.  There also isn't the mainstream hype surrounding Lent that there is New Year resolutions.  The purpose is not to make a change like a resolution is. Lent comes from a religious belief.  Maybe that's the difference?

Like a resolution, Lent is a personal thing. I think that in the end, it's up to an individual to decide what's best for them. Just because I'm not a resolution maker doesn't mean that I think that they're dumb and no one else should make them.  It's just not MY thing. For me, Lent is something that I do.

If making a New Year resolution works for you, then I happen to think that's fantastic! People change when they're ready. No matter the motivation or the timing, if you make a change - you are amazing!! Even small steps toward change are great!! Oh! I do mean positive change, if that wasn't obvious.

Making a positive change is a fabulous thing. It's not always easy. When it comes to your habits, changing can be hard. I think that making permanent changes is an indicator of a determined, strong person. In the end, you're the only one who can change you. You're the only one who can make lasting changes. The motivation to lose weight in a contest might last for the duration of the contest, but its up to you to make it last forever.  The motivation of looking good in a bikini might be enough, but you need to make it last throughout the rest of the year. In the end, your motivation to make a lasting change needs to come from you. It occurs within. No matter what other factors accompany your issues in life, it all comes down to you and your motivation to change. No one else can make you or break you (says the therapist in me).


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