Why Not Give Up….

by tinareale on February 22, 2012

I had 0 intentions of blogging today. I have a to-do list a mile long and didn’t have anything in particular to write about. I long ago gave up on that whole “blogging just to blog” thing. I had other work (like creating plans for new clients) to focus on for today.Then, lo and behold, on the way to drop Makenzie off this morning something hit me like a shock and it is burning a hole in my…fingers? Keyboard? Whatever.

I have to get this out. Even if it’s done in the quickest blog session I have ever done.

Today marks the start of Lent. Despite being a Christian, I usually don’t practice Lent in the traditional sense of giving something up for 40 days. I always just preferred being more mindful of the meaning of this time of year and focusing on devoting more time to prayer and counting my blessings.

I feel the traditional Lent practices have been skewed these days. It seems less about giving up personal vices to grow as an individual and more as a fad diet since it seems the popular practice is to pick a food to give up. I’m not saying that’s wrong – it can certainly motivate people to healthier decisions and actions. It just bothers me that it is SO emphasized. What if we gave up something else?

What if we gave up…

…judging ourselves so harshly???

…putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves for perfection or to get it ALL done???

…negative self-talk???



What if????

Lent or not. I don’t think it would hurt.

End rant.

Edited to add: I am in no way saying it is bad or wrong to give up food related things for Lent. I solely want to emphasize the importance of growing as a person and other things that could provide that benefit. Plus, it saddens me that people turn it into a diet plan.


1 Cheryl @ Happy is the new healthy February 22, 2012 at 9:49 am

I usually give up something non-food or at least something that isn’t about getting healthier or losing weight, since it’s really not about that…my friends who use it as a way to restrict kind of miss the point, I think. I gave up peanut butter one year, magazines another, granola bars, and swearing. This year I’m doing decaf coffee, I think because it’s just something I like to comfort myself with and get carried away with!

Happy Wednesday. :) Good luck with your to do list!

2 Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries February 22, 2012 at 9:51 am

this is one of the BEST shortest posts i’ve ever read. couldn’t agree more with everything you’re saying!

3 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat February 22, 2012 at 9:51 am

I am giving up added sugar for Lent, but it’s a difficult sacrifice for me – and I always try to ADD in a positive thing for those 40 days, too.

4 tinareale February 22, 2012 at 10:04 am

I went back and added that giving up certain foods can certainly make a difference and be a good choice – when coupled with learning to lean on Him during the struggles for example. When it’s not just “Oh, I’m not going to eat ice cream for 40 days because maybe it will help me lost that last few pounds”…that’s my beef. I hope you got what I was trying to express. :)

5 Heather (Where's the Beach) February 22, 2012 at 9:51 am

Love this so much. I never understood giving up things like sugar or chocolate or even meat for x number of days then going right back to it at the end. It’d be different if it was some sort of long-term goal. But that’s just me. I love your ideas for Lent!

6 Jane February 22, 2012 at 9:53 am

I think that is a great idea! Why is everything always focused around food?

7 Amanda Perry @ Sistas of Strength February 22, 2012 at 9:55 am

Completely agree…giving up personal vices for Lent has always confused me. I don’t get why people see it as a time to diet? Ah well…to each their own.

8 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen February 22, 2012 at 9:56 am

Amen! Seeing tons of tweets and fb messages yesterday about Lent and people begrudgingly giving up x, y or z just bothered me. Why not focus on working on something positive or any of the things you listed instead of chocolate? What good is that?! I guess I’ve always been a rebel, because I’ve never conformed to Lent in the traditional sense.

9 Cat @ Breakfast to Bed February 22, 2012 at 9:56 am

giving up negative self-talk has been a lifelong struggle for me. It’s almost like an extra arm, or piece of my brain. It’s so attached to me.

10 Heather @ Better With Veggies February 22, 2012 at 9:56 am

I’m with you on this one – I don’t practice giving something up for Lent. I’ve found that many people who do give up something don’t really know why they are doing it, so it’s more of a ritual. It’s not something that I feel called to do in my own life right now, as it’s more about a daily relationship for me.

11 tinareale February 22, 2012 at 10:06 am

That’s exactly how I feel. I understand the point of those who give up something to learn to live without and lean on Him instead…but not a “just because its Lent” type of thing.

12 Heather @ Better With Veggies February 22, 2012 at 10:08 am


13 Amanda @ Click. The Good News February 22, 2012 at 9:58 am

AMEN! :)

I get the concept of giving up something for Lent & I’ve even been tempted to do it, but I struggle with my motivation for wanting to “quit facebook” or ” give up cokes” for a short time. I can see how some people would enjoy it for the right reasons, but it’s interesting how much social media has changed the need to brag about what you are giving up & adds a layer of pressure to others to participate in Lent also.

Thanks for the beautiful inspiration!

14 Bex February 22, 2012 at 9:59 am

I’m a former-Christian, but never understood Lent practices (or most rituals)… I think it’s best to be mindful, kind, and practice doing-no-harm everyday. Great post! (your short post is the length of my regular ones… haha). xo

15 Erin @ livelifeactive.com February 22, 2012 at 10:01 am

That’s a great idea. I think I should give up judging myself so harshly. I’m very guilty of that one!

16 Heather @ Run Eat Play February 22, 2012 at 10:01 am

Great post! What a great idea. I am Christian too but don’t participate in Lent, but this are great ideas for everyone! I would like to give up judging myself too harshly and negative self talk.

17 Kinley @ Better Off Barefoot February 22, 2012 at 10:05 am

Very fitting that you happen to post this today… yesterday I realized my only “vice” that I should give up is disliking myself… here’s to not just giving that up for Lent but for forever because of the reason of Lent :) Thanks for this “reminder” today.

18 tinareale February 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm

I guess it was meant to be. ;)

19 Katie @ Healthy Heddleston February 22, 2012 at 10:06 am

I’d also like to add that it doesn’t have to be all about giving something up — it could be adding something meaningful to your life: more prayer, volunteering, complimenting someone every day… things like that.

And I love the things you listed as ideas for things to give up — John picked swearing, which he doesn’t do much, but I really like when people give up swearing — seems so unnecessary to me.

20 Maggie February 22, 2012 at 10:06 am

Haha oh my gosh- I literally just posted about how I’m giving up negative self-talk for lent. Great minds think alike :D

21 tinareale February 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm

So awesome!

22 Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona February 22, 2012 at 10:11 am

I love this post – it’s totally something I should work on.

23 Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean February 22, 2012 at 10:14 am

i’ve actually seen a lot of people deciding to add something positive like drinking more water or more exercise during lent instead of giving something up this year and i’m LOVING it!

24 Parita @ myinnershakti February 22, 2012 at 10:15 am

I love how I just think something and then some blog about it! Last night, I was honestly thinking about how the focus should be on what you will do versus on what you won’t do. So, if you do want to focus on something food related for Lent, why not say I will eat 5 servings of veggies a day, instead of giving up sweets. I think it’s just a healthier way of thinking.

25 tinareale February 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm

We’re on the same wavelength so often its crazy. :)

26 Ali @ Around the VeggieTable February 22, 2012 at 10:20 am

I agree 100%! I think it’s totally okay to give up a food item if that is something that could be separating you from a relationship with Christ (because things like gluttony, or alcohol, or lack of self-control can do that) but I hate when people use Lent as a diet! It’s one of my biggest pet peeves lol

27 tinareale February 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm

You said it exactly how I was trying to express it! Thanks!

28 Steph @ DairyFreeOmnivore February 22, 2012 at 10:22 am

I totally agree with you. I was raised Catholic and each year I gave up something meaningless like chocolate. Over the past few years I have tried to do something that would help me better myself in the long run. After a long talk with my husband last night, I have decided to give up one hour of sleep each morning and trade it in for exercise. I know I need to get back into my routine of working out, and this is how I am going to do it. It’s actually not that I am giving up sleep for Lent, but rather I am going to use these next 40 days to get fit again. So if I were to say I am giving something up, it would be laziness.
As far as kids go, my girls are each giving up one bad habit. They picked them, we’ll see how long it lasts:-)

29 tinareale February 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Best of luck! I know you can do it!

30 Sarah February 22, 2012 at 10:23 am

Great post :) Growing up (Episcopalian) I was always taught that Lent is a time to spend more time with God and reflecting on your relationship as opposed to using Lent as another diet. Personally that’s my goal for Lent: spend more time in prayer and strengthening my relationship with God.

31 Dena @ 40 Fit in the Mitt February 22, 2012 at 10:29 am

What a great idea Tina!

32 Michelle February 22, 2012 at 10:30 am

Amen! (and this may be my shortest comment ever)

33 Carol @ Lucky Zucca February 22, 2012 at 10:32 am

I always try to give up something that will be hard for me to live without. Rather than being a diet plan, it has to be something that requires me to be mindful and aware that I am giving it up. I often choose a food (in the past, I have chosen serious vices like cheese or ketchup) but have also chosen things like television. I think if you choose a food, it has to be something that makes you mindful. That is the point of Lent to me. Not a diet, but becoming more aware of our vices and growing as a person as a result of giving them up. I love your suggestions of alternative things to give up! I think people often don’t realize that you can give up something other than a food.

34 tinareale February 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Yes. That is what I wanted to get at. If you’re choosing something like chocolate bec it’s a vice or something that will be a struggle in which you will turn more and be more aware of God, then that’s great. That’s the purpose. Not just because. :)

35 [email protected] February 22, 2012 at 10:37 am

Absolutely! Too often people jump straight to the giving up of food without considering other ways they could mark lent. I think practising love and kindness to one’s self would be lovely.

36 Jess February 22, 2012 at 10:45 am

…what if we gave up on being afraid to follow a dream? Dream chasing can be scary — I’m going through that right now, and was literally about to give up on my dream last night. But then I thought about it. I have a chance to reach for the stars, why would I give that up merely because it was getting scary? Nope, not happening. Thank you for solidifying that for me here. You’re the best!

37 Cara February 22, 2012 at 10:54 am

Wow thanks Tina! This is exactly what I needed to hear. Despite being a Christian, I also don’t typically give up anything for Lent but your post got me thinking. I have been terribly self-critical in the recent weeks/months and I need to be doing a whole lot less of that and focusing on the beautiful women God made me inside and out. Why not focus on devoting more time to him and much much less time criticizing myself. So for Lent this year, I’m giving up something. I’m giving up negative body image/self talk, etc and focusing on what He has to say about me and my body and heart!

38 tinareale February 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I love this! And making that a focus is what helped me so much on my personal journey and its still a practice I have to be aware of. It’s too easy to be too hard on ourselves.

39 Sonya February 22, 2012 at 10:58 am

Thank you so much for this post! I couldn’t agree with you more! It is not a “diet” and I decided to give up my morning radio on the drive into work (I love istening to KLove on my commute) and am going to pray and talk to God for the 50 minutes.

40 Lauren @ What Lauren Likes February 22, 2012 at 11:14 am

So true!! This was a bomb post! Totally got me thinking of something non-food to give up for Lent :)

41 Bethany @ Accidental Intentions February 22, 2012 at 11:31 am

I think what it really comes down to is mindset. I’m giving up sweets for Lent this year, which is the first time I’ve ever done that specifically and only the second time I’ve given anything up for Lent. Prayer, alms-giving, and fasting are the three traditional spiritual disciplines to practice during Lent, and that’s the real reason why you’re supposed to give up something–to fast from it. It’s not meant to be a diet, it’s not meant to just be a cool thing to do, it’s meant to be a spiritual discipline. If that’s not how you’re using your fast from whatever you chose to fast from, then there’s no reason to participate in it, and in my eyes it’s really rather sacrilegious to participate in a fast just for the sake of doing it rather than using it as a spiritual discipline. I’m choosing to fast from sweets for 40 days because it will be a huge challenge for me. I’d be lying if I said part of my motivation to give up sweets from now until Easter isn’t health related, because that is certainly not the entire reason. I’m not giving up something like chips because that wouldn’t be a difficult thing for me to say no to and thus would defeat the entire purpose of a fast. It’s supposed to be a challenge, and through that challenge you are supposed to learn about yourself, your faith, and God more deeply. If that’s not your mindset heading into a fast (or any of the other spiritual disciplines of Lent–if you’re giving more of your time, money, self, whatever just because it’s what you’re “supposed” to do or if you’re spending ten more minutes a day half-heartedly praying because it’s what you’re “supposed” to do), then there’s no reason to do it.

42 tinareale February 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Thank you for wording this so eloquently, Bethany. That was exactly what I was trying to get at. Not so much that giving up dessert is wrong for Lent by any means, but that the motivation behind the choice could be misplaced. I need to change my “Edit to Add” section to say read your comment bec it’s what I was trying to say but didn’t have the time to put it so nicely. Haha!

43 Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers February 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm

I LOVE your response, Bethany! I agree 100%!

44 Heather February 22, 2012 at 11:35 am

great post. I am not catholic and don’t give up anything for lent but dont see a problem with those that do. But I also agree with you!

45 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss February 22, 2012 at 11:37 am

I’m so glad you posted these thoughts. I completely, whole-heartedly agree with you 100% on the lent point. I really feel like the world would be a better place if we used that energy on positive things like prayer and the blessings in our lives rather than making it a diet plan.

46 Adri @ FoodieBeFit February 22, 2012 at 11:41 am

Wow! That really hit me. Specially the second one about perfection and getting it ALL done. That’s just me and my OCD right there. Ready to let go a little bit of it all and the stress that comes with it. Amen sister.

47 tinareale February 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Not trying to get it ALL done is what mine would be too. It’s a big personal vice for me as well. And something I try to work on daily.

48 Yellow Haired Girl February 22, 2012 at 11:53 am

I couldn’t agree more Tina! Even though it was short and sweet, this was an excellent post! I haven’t given up anything for Lent in years … probably since I was in Catholic school and it was “required”. But this year, two of my coworkers and I decided to do something. Whoever caves puts money into a pot, winner takes all. And you know what? Mine is all about decreasing negativity.

I promised that I wouldn’t complain about my boss. Sounds silly. But necessary.

That’s going to be really hard to do. But I think I can do it! Its better for me … and it’s better for the people around me, too :) wish me luck!

49 tinareale February 22, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I love that choice and the positive it holds. Best of luck!

50 Angie February 22, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I love this post. I am Catholic. Years ago the priest at my parish said that anyone who tells you to give up something like chocolate for Lent misses the meaning of the season. Jesus died so our sins may be forgiven. The priest said that we should focus on following the commandments to honor Jesus and God – not give up chocolate or something like that.

I find the start of Lent to be difficult every year. I use it as a time to take a hard look at myself and to work on things that are uncomfortable. It’s a time for prayer and repentance. I do not pass judgement on others (because that, to me, seems hypocritical given that I’m refocusing on following the commandments and working on my bad habits), but I am doing my best to ignore everyone who says ‘I’m giving up chocolate, etc.’ It is hard because I have to teach my children about the true meaning of the season, and, honestly, it seems like Lent is becoming commercialized.

51 sunshine February 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Awesome post! And I agree! For years I used Lent as a way to justify eliminating certain foods from my diet (sweets, chocolate, candy, snack foods). Now I just focus on DOING something – random acts of kindness for others. Lent is not about food elimination and dieting.

52 [email protected] February 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Very good point; people do often focus on giving up an indulgent food they love, rather than something that is harmful to them in a different way (stressing about small things at work, nitpicking with friends or significant others, etc.). But, this is probably because these things take a lot more time to work on than just 40 days. Although this would get you off to a good start in becoming a better person by overcoming these internal struggles, it is usually a short-term goal of people to deprive themselves of something they really want for the 40 days, rather than really trying to change for the better as a human being. I know that this year for lent I am trying to give up procrastinating (not only because giving up chocolate last year was one of the hardest things I’ve EVER done). I want to do this to prove to myself that I can change something that I’ve become so accustomed to.

53 jobo February 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Amen, Tina! I think we all need to give that up forever, of course, and not just for 40 days. It is something I continue to work at and is a daily process. I need to NOT doubt and NOT fall into negative self-talk. As for unnecessary pressure? Again, AMEN! I work on this too, and it is so refreshing not to feel that pressure that we don’t need…enough pressure in our lives already right??

54 Callie @ The Wannabe Athlete February 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Thank you for saying what I’ve been thinking all day. Love when you do that (which is pretty often actually). :)

55 [email protected] February 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Totally agree. Amen. AMen.

56 Alaina February 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm

These are such great ideas Tina! I do plan on giving up a food for Lent, but I hope that by doing that, it’ll help me get more creative and possibly learn something about myself too. :-)

57 tinareale February 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm

As I hope came across, I think giving up food related things can have its purpose. Its all about having the right motivations behind it and mindset. :)

58 Lindsay @ Lindsay's List February 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm

The “turning it into a diet plan” is THE WORST! The heart isn’t in the right place. not good.

59 lindsay February 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm

best lent giving up ever! i am there, but i want to continue this for years! amen, yes?!

60 tinareale February 22, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Amen, indeed!

61 Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health February 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Yes! Thank you! I think it’s great if this is a time that can motivate someone to do something healthy, but I don’t think Lent should be just a time when many people essentially go on a diet. I love your ideas of other things to give up! Some of my friends in high school used to add something for 40 days that would be beneficial for others- such as community service. Now that’s a good idea!

62 Kim @ girlevolving February 22, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I’m so glad you added the last part, Tina, about it not being a diet plan. I get frustrated hearing people talk about what they’re giving up for Lent as a way to lose weight instead of a way to draw closer to God. Thanks for saying something.

63 Kelly February 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I am Jewish therefore no lent but I totally agree with you. I hate it when I hear people say they are giving up sugar for lent or coke for lent in hopes of losing 5 pounds. It completely defeats the purpose of lent because it takes the focus away from what it should be.

64 maria @ Chasing the Now February 22, 2012 at 6:03 pm

I 100% agree with this post. This is only my second year trying to give something up for Lent (I’m letting go of Youtube video watching–something I spend a ridiculous amount of time on-and praying/reading my Bible instead), but it makes me so sad to see it made into a 40-day diet.

I think it’s perfectly ok to give up foods if they really are vices and not just something you secretly home will help you drop a few pounds.

65 Laura is Undeterrable February 22, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Great post! I went to a catholic college, and the big discussion was about how lent turned into basically giving up sex, drugs, and food. We were ignoring the purpose of the season which was to become closer to God through giving up these things. I’ve never really participated because of my spirituality, but I also believe that if there is something I need to give up because its bad for me, I should wait until Ash Wednesday to start. I need to make the change now.

66 Jules February 22, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Great post! I agree – in my opinion, just giving up foods or sweets in order to lose weight defeats the point of lent Your suggestions for alternative vices to give up are excellent, and so much more appropriate to get to the heart of the season of lent.

67 Jamie @ Don't Forget the Cinnamon February 22, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I totally agree with you on this. Did you see the “10 unhealthy foods to give up for lent and the calories you’ll save” slideshow on FitSugar yesterday? It made me so mad!! For various reasons I haven’t taken part in giving something up for lent in years but when I did, I always preferred actions like giving someone a compliment every day or smiling at a stranger every day. I always found that they were more meaningful!

68 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More February 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm

I think you may a GREAT point. It has become more about a “fad” versus allowing us to grow as a person or to make a healthy life choice. If giving up the food is for one of those purposes, then I totally get it but if not, it’s not meant to be a time to lose weight…

69 Katy February 22, 2012 at 10:09 pm

I’m so with you. I’d rather spend this time working on being a better person. I’d love to devote at least 40 days to this.

70 MCM Mama February 22, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Great post. I’m Christian, but our church has never preached giving up something for Lent, so it’s not something I’ve ever done. I love your suggestions. I also like the move towards giving back or random acts of kindness every day during Lent. Seems much more meaningful to me than giving up chocolate…

71 Jen February 23, 2012 at 3:12 am

Love this, Tina! I have never really given up things for lent either (I guess some churches emphasize that more than others), but I really like your suggestions! I will give it a try – easier said than done… :)

72 Michelle @ Lipstick and Lunges February 23, 2012 at 8:58 am

I totally agree with you! I grew up practicing lent. I no longer do, but am continuing my resolution to being a more confident and happy me. PS. My co worker is giving up sweets for lent. She unloaded them from her office into our main suit area…totally testing my will power!
— Michelle

73 Sara February 23, 2012 at 9:56 am

Great post that really has me thinking – thanks! I heard on the radio yesterday morning that Lent should be more about “giving of yourself” not necessarily giving something UP.

74 Carolina @ Peas in a Blog February 24, 2012 at 9:00 am

Wow, this is why I read your blog Tina — you are so inspiring! We need more people like you in the world :)

75 Michelle (Better with Berries) February 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Love your thoughts on this! I wrote about my Lenten promise on Wednesday. First I thought about giving up sweets. The thing is, I knew it would make me unhappy. Why would I make myself unhappy for 40 whole days?? Then I realized what WOULD make me happy: giving up being negative (and complaining) about my job. I’m leaving the field of teaching this year and it’s been getting harder and harder to make it through the end of the year, but complaining is making it worse. So I vow to be positive about my career for the next 40 days, and I’m guessing it may turn into more :-)

76 tinareale February 26, 2012 at 7:45 am

I love that change you made! Sounds like a great, positive one. And you will get through these last months! :)

77 [email protected] February 27, 2012 at 12:27 pm

I couldn’t agree more with the post if I tried!! All of my friends have food-related things they have given up for lent, and I don’t think its a reason to start a diet! The past two year I’ve tried giving up non food related activities, like last year, not sleeping in past 9 (unless extremely necessary!) and this year not cursing. Lent should be about being a better person, not a healthier one (although that is important). Thanks for the post!

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