Lent is about rising from the old and embracing the new. The Rule of Benedict says Lent is the time for trimming the soul and scrapping the sludge (I’ve got a lot of that)off a life turned slipshod, taking stock of time. Lent is about exercising the control that enables us to say no to ourselves so that when life turns hard of its own accord we have the stamina to say yes to its twists and turns with hope. Hmmm, sounds like a diet to me.
I was raised in the United Methodist Church where Lent meant changing the church vestments to my favorite purple ( I think - or maybe that was Advent - I always get them confused - or maybe it was both) and filling up a slotted card with pennies and later dimes and quarters (inflation) to give to some mission or charity. I guess the money was supposed to come out of my allowance or something but I just remember my Dad giving me the coin to insert each week, no real sacrifice. There must have been a lesson in there somewhere, right? All in all it was just a run up to Easter which meant a new dress and shoes (and until I was old enough to win the protests, a ridiculous hat) and a huge basket full of candy deposited in our living room (right where Santa always left the presents) by some giant furry animal that by all rights should have scared the be-jeezus out of kids.
We were never asked to make a Lenten sacrifice by giving up something significant like I learned later in life was a big thing in the Catholic families of many of my friends. And even my Jewish friends make sacrifices during Passover- which interestingly coincides.
( That is a whole discussion on religion that I do not want to get into just now. Suffice it to say that there are way too many similarities in all the major religions for it to be a coincidence. Someone is borrowing traditions :)
Actually, I love the Lenten season. Early spring! It is all about fresh starts and rebirth and new growth and hope and light. Imagine way back when and the earth had grown darker and darker each day and suddenly people began to notice that it was getting lighter and crocuses, jonquils and hyacinths began to peek through the melting snow and buds appeared on the trees and they realized that perhaps they were being given a second chance, a new opportunity. So they made a sacrifice to the gods to say thanks for letting us off this time or they celebrated that whatever sacrifice they may have made a few weeks earlier was paying off. In some cultures the sacrifice was a personal one, like we do no chocolate or alcohol (although it would more likely have been a piece of gold or an animal that would otherwise have been a much needed dinner) In other cultures, it was very personal for the one young male or female that was sacrificed for the good of the community. Thank goodness most cultures in the world today are past that one - although many still make a pretty big deal out of some of those earlier sacrifices with religious ceremonies and even re-enactments, but where no one living is actually hung from a cross or anything.
I have noticed in recent years that like many religious observances - Christmas, Easter, New Moon, Super Bowl, Opening Day of Major League Baseball - the Lenten sacrifice has become secularized and even people who have never darkened the door of a church are participating. I’m sure we all have at least one friend who is giving up alcohol or chocolate or whatever they want to abstain from for awhile and most are motivated not by religious conviction but by a desire to do something good for themselves - not a bad thing all in all. I just wish we were a bit more honest about it with ourselves and others. Well, you know me so I know that you know ( that I know that you know……) at least one such person because I am giving up Being Fat for Lent.
I’m not celebrating Lent exactly, it is just that a prescribed 40 day period with a designated start and end date seems doable
(and BTW why are all the Easters of different religious sects and Passover on a different date each year? You’d think we could come to some compromise solution ,like President’s Day, that would really simplify all our lives and make school calendars much easier to plan)
But I ramble….
Doable for what, you ask? For doing everything I possibly can to start the scales trending in the other direction. And let me tell you that starting this on the day after I just paid beaucoup bucks to take an amazing cooking class is a REAL SACRIFICE!!!
So I am devising the Lenten Diet (are you listening Mark Herman?) which I will publish, probably weekly. It is a bastardized Atkins ( my past successful weight loss and something David can live with) , Kimkins, Weight-watchers, Scarsdale, Slimfast, non-starvation but definitely controlled eating plan for 40 days only - lo-carb, lo-fat, lo-sugar, lo-calorie, and no doubt with a high bitchiness factor.
If you read it and think, this is not a healthy eating plan, you are right. (too much cheese and not enough dessert ) But please don’t feel compelled to lecture me about it. It is for 40. Days. Only. And it is a DIET intended to cause my body to get angry at parts of itself and start sending them away, not a life-long healthy eating plan which hopefully I can return to in April.
I will NOT be drinking alcohol and instead drinking more water (mostly sparkling), herbal tea, and my morning coffee and eating the following (including a small Activia yogurt each day - I need the calcium J) and snacking on carrots, celery, and lo-fat cheese sticks:*
Day 1 (W 2/17) - that was actually yesterday when I ate what I cooked at Cook School and probably put myself farther behind than ahead ( see upcoming post about that remarkable day)
Day 2 - protein smoothie (fat free)
Chicken/veggie chili, coleslaw with light dressing
Roasted chicken, sautéed spinach, cumin carrots
Day 3 - Eggy w/w French toast with no-sugar jam
Tuna salad on lots of lettuce with tomatoes and cucumber
Chicken broccoli bake (chicken and cheese - no pasta), garlic greens
Day 4 -Eggy “blintzes“ filled with cottage cheese and no sugar jam
Vegetable soup, salad
Stuffed peppers (mince, veggies and cheese), salad
Day 5 - Cheesy eggs, veggie sausage
Chopped chicken ,lettuce, carrot, celery salad
Roast Turkey breast, cauliflower mash, spinach salad
Day 6 -. Denver omelet w/ turkey
Taco salad w/ veggie mince & lo-fat cheese
Salmon w/ lemon-dill sauce.. coleslaw, broccoli
Day 7. Smoothie
Broccoli soup, salad
Chicken breast on tomato & cucumber, romaine salad
* No that I look at it, it is not so unhealthy if I keep the fat low, but it is really BORING!!! for someone who just learned to cook a perfectly medium-rare duck breast with a veal marrow sauce, wild mushrooms and pancetta.
I feel a bit like Oprah having it all out there in front of all of you. So if two days from now I change my mind, just don’t give me a hard time about it OK? It’s not like it is some religious thing.
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