We are getting closer to the start of our fast! Some of you are ready to go. You will just “not eat sugar.” It will be fine. Others are starting to look at the labels on the back of the food in their refrigerators and cupboards and wondering what they can eat.
I just loved this picture because it’s how I feel when I try to understand the labels on the back of my food – or worse, when I try to figure out how these sugars are affecting my body.
Regardless of which camp you are in, let’s roll up our sleeves and do a little prep work. In fact, we are going to prepare ourselves in 4 areas:
- Challenge: You WILL be tempted. You might even struggle.
- Solution: Eliminate temptation by cleaning out your fridge/pantry. Trust me, if it is there, you WILL accidentally eat it.
- Reward Yourself: Go shopping to be sure you have tasty alternatives that you look forward to eating!
I don’t like focusing on what I CAN’T have, so I decided to use a meal-planning app. Since we have auto-immune issues in my family, we’re using the Whole 30 meal planning app. It goes further with the “don’ts” (for example, no dairy). But I can live with that since it’s an excuse to try sugar-free recipes that will benefit our bodies in more ways.
- Challenge: Sugar is more than just a bad habit. Our bodies become dependent on it. Expect to have a few days where you will feel low-energy, possibly crabby, and definitely not “on your game.”
- Solution: I will post each day to let you know what you might be experiencing physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. You aren’t alone!
- Reward Yourself: I urge you to plan ahead for ways you will reward yourself throughout the fast. Have a few “tough day” rewards that you can use as needed; “weekly” rewards to mark your progress; heck, I’m already planning my “finisher’s” prize, because I am going to Do This Thing!!
What kind of rewards? Think of things you enjoy, but don’t take the time (or spend the money) to treat yourself. Maybe it is a bubble bath. A good book. Movie night. A walk alone in the cool of the morning/evening. Know in advance that you have these rewards ready. It will give you the confidence, and that extra little push, when it’s needed.
- Challenge: This isn’t going to be easy, but it IS going to be one of the best things you have ever done for yourself, for your loved ones, and for the people who will receive more of the “real” you as a result of it.
- Solution: Go public! Joining this group will help. We can lean on each other and help those who might be having a tough day. But there is no substitute for telling the people in your everyday life what you are doing. For one, they will understand why you might be cranky in the first few days. But more importantly, they will be right there, in person, when you need it most.
- Reward Yourself: Invite your spouse, kids, roommates or even a close friend to join you! Meal planning is more fun when you have someone to compare experiences with! And grocery shopping is more fun when you’re in it together!
I saved the best, and perhaps most important, for last.
- Challenge: There may come a time when our bodies desperately want to give in to cravings; when we realize we didn’t anticipate what to do when eating at a restaurant and feel like we just need to chuck it all; and/or when we don’t want even our support system to know how weak we feel. That is when spiritual preparation will see us through.
- Solution: Connect with your higher power to (1) understand how/why your fast is even bigger and more important than your own body; (2) dedicate your fast to a higher purpose; and (3) be ready (and able) to seek comfort, guidance and strength from your higher power when you are struggling.
If you have done your spiritual preparation effectively, you will be equipped to convince, correct and encourage (yourself) with the utmost patience. Not through your own power, but through your higher power.
Questions to connect to your higher power:
- What does your Scripture say about the importance of a healthy body?
- What does your Scripture say about over-indulgence and/or gluttony?
- Who and what are you letting down if you give in to cravings?
- How might dedicating your body to the service of a higher purpose add value (to your family, your friends, to the world)?
- In light of this, what is your higher purpose for kicking sugar to the curb? “I am giving up sugar so that I can (insert your answers from the questions above).”
- Reward Yourself: And finally, with your sights set on dedicating your fast to this higher purpose, entrust its success to your higher power. Ask for wisdom when you are confused; strength for when you are tempted; and say “thank you” in advance.
You Can Do This!