Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It's a time of solemnity and prayer. It's a time of sacrifice and reflection. It's a time when we try to better ourselves, purify ourselves, in preparation for the coming of Jesus.
Often during this time, people will give something up. Generally, this is something like chocolate, soda, fried foods, cable, internet, etc. Last year I gave up Facebook. As always, I will be following the Catholic tradition of no-meat Fridays. I don't know how or why that started, but it's my excuse to eat fish, and I'm taking it. The focus of Lent for me this year, though, is to simply take care of myself.
In 2012 I saw some wonderful and awesome changes. My business expanded, I ran a marathon, I achieved goals that I almost thought would never happen. It was amazing. However, I also sacrificed a lot. Cooking at home was almost non-existent because of lack of time. I wasn't getting enough sleep and was constantly tired. The house was a wreck because I never had time to clean. Finally, I think my body said, "ENOUGH!" Shortly after Christmas, I ended up with that horrible stress fracture.
So, for the first few weeks I tried to work through it. I swam at the gym, I rode my bike, I still woke up early to workout. However, because neither swimming nor cycling gave me the satisfaction that running did, I felt even more tired and more defeated. I found myself eating even more partially due to some injury-related depression, and partially because I was so tired I felt like I needed constant fueling. Somewhere, something had to change.
So, here's the deal. For Lent, before doing anything I will ask myself, "Is this best for me?" Before waking up at 4:00 a.m. so I can get to the gym by 5:00 so I can be at work by 7:00 and work until 9:30 at night I will ask, "Is this best for me?" Will missing this one work out hurt me, or would it be better if I slept an extra hour and had a healthy breakfast? Before heading to Qdoba because it's been a long day and I just don't feel like anything else, I will ask, "Is this best for me?" Is it better to grab the quick meal so I can just go home and sleep, or should I head home, prepare something simple and enjoy the healthier meal at home?
I will allow my body time to heal. I will try to find more balance in my life. I will try to spend time doing fun things with my family, but I will also try to find time to sleep. Yes, I want to work out, but maybe I don't need to go 5 days a week. Yes I want to eat healthy, but maybe healthy doesn't have to mean something that takes 2 hours to prepare. Maybe I will be well-rested enough to focus more at work. Maybe I will be able to get a decent night's sleep and not feel so burnt out in the morning.
Trust me, when I'm able to run again I will, but maybe I'll take it a little easier. Maybe I won't run 3 marathons in a year (not yet anyway). Maybe I'll just stick to one. Somehow, I need a little more balance. Somehow I need to take care of me.
So, that's the focus of Lent for me this year. Take care of myself, so I can take care of everything else.