40 Days of Health: Give Up. Take On. Swap Out. Add In.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

But this post isn’t about the holiday made of chocolate (preferably dark).

It’s about Fat Tuesday. And Lent. I know I’m several days late, but it’s never too late to start bettering yourself.

Quick history lesson: For the six weeks leading up to Easter Sunday in the Christian faith, followers of Jesus and His teachings prepare for the celebration of His resurrection by fasting, giving up certain habits or luxuries as a form of penitence. It’s 40 days long in commemoration of the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the desert  before publicly ministering, in which He was constantly tempted by the devil and beat such temptation.

No matter what your religion is, this is a great way to test your strength, endurance, self-respect, self-restraint, and determination to become a better you.

No, you don’t have to fast and no, you don’t have to give up sweets, but there are various ways to make yourself better and healthier.

Here are some ideas:

Give Up: Smoking, alcohol, sweets, coffee, sweating, sleeping in, soda, TV, texting/emailing at night, being on the computer at night, Facebook, Twitter, your after-dinner dessert.

Take On: Walking every day, eating at least 3 servings each of fruit and vegetables a day, a morning workout, eating breakfast, going to bed earlier, a relaxing bedtime routine, drinking more water, a daily brain game, more face time and less screen time.

Swap Out: Skim milk for 2%, homemade coffee for Starbucks, fruit for chocolate, Greek yogurt for low-fat yogurt, almonds for cashews, brown rice/pasta/bread for white varieties. Here are some other healthy food swaps.

Add In: Reading or writing for fun a few minutes every day, 5 pushups every time a commercial comes on TV, protein powder to your oatmeal, an extra few minutes of stretching at the end of each workout, an extra short workout every day (like this 8-minute one that I did this morning).

There are plenty of things you can do to better yourself, better your health, better your relationships, and even better your sleep. Choose something or take something away and make the commitment to yourself. It’s only 40 days—what have you got to lose!?