Getting your Lent on: You knew best

Ciara Rowland-Simms 22 March 2014

Lent is, for some, a chance for dietary retribution after New Year’s failed health kicks. In some cases, the abstinence is a genuinely healthy choice. For others, myself included, it’s a test of self-restraint alone. We might replace that lunch-time chocolate bar with some other artery-filling snack, but sometimes that just isn’t enough: herein lies the challenge.

The denial of Lent is self-inflicted and that makes failing so much easier and also so much harder to bear. No one else really cares if we order a mocha in a moment of weakness, convincing our friends there’s a latte under the lid. But we care. It can be a way of asking ourselves whether we really know what’s best. That moment at the cupboard staring at the open Nutella: how badly do we want it? And how much do we care about letting our past selves down? At some point or other we believed we would succeed; the decision to put that pot away matters.

Avoiding temptation is hard and your friends won’t always have your back enough to take that cookie away from you. If you’re going strong you’re one of few. So you didn’t realise that your flapjack had cocoa powder in it? Don’t panic. For those who slipped accidentally or in a moment of weakness, I say push on. A singular failure isn’t a reason to stop. Gorging early and conceding defeat is bad self-parenting. To reward yourself for failure is to applaud the very opposite of why you bothered with Lent at all.

To anyone who has come this far, I implore you to continue. Avoid temptation wherever possible, find alternatives as distractions and remember that you chose to abstain from something for a reason. Where you are right now is a result of your former decisions. I would suggest showing some gratitude to your hopeful younger self, and giving up one teeny tiny thing for them: they believe in you. Good luck!