CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Just as our new year's resolutions are wearing thin, and right in the middle of the heart-health month of February, we're given one more opportunity to take better care of ourselves. I refer to the Lenten season.For many Christian denominations, Lent is a 40-day period of sacrifice in honor of something bigger than one's self. Giving up something we love or are addicted to for Lent is no easy task. However, this mild form of deprivation is a worthy endeavor even if not founded in religion, because if successful, it can easily improve the quality of our life.Admittedly, it's a tough sell. Americans aren't really into doing without the things that make them feel good. Still, if framed the right way, it just might be embraced. What we need is a way to change the way we think about this concept. Who better than skilled advertisers to rework the idea of restraint and turn deprivation into inspiration? I heartily applaud Kellogg's newest multimedia ad campaign focused on better health by challenging people with the question what will you gain when you lose?Tip the scale
Using this thought-provoking tagline, the producers of the commercial, filmed in Times Square, invited women onto a larger-than-life scale to see what it would reveal. Those who agreed to step on paused anxiously, expecting their weight to be revealed to hundreds of bystanders. Surprisingly, the brave souls were greeted with good news. Instead of showing numbers, it provided positive feedback showing them what they would gain. Confidence. Joy. Satisfaction. Fly. Pizzazz. This is marketing at its best.Don't give it up
Why not look at any weight loss or habit-kicking attempt like this? Rather than contemplating the thought of being without, try reframing it as a time to add something to your life. Our minds are definitely susceptible to the power of suggestion. We tend to narrow our focus and lament what we have to leave behind when we should be widening our view of focus to encompass what we might discover.Here are some examples.Forgo these:Staring into any kind of screen after 8 p.m.Fast food and junk food you loveSocializing in the gymSwearingProcrastinatingOnline shopping and surfingWeekend TV/watching sportsAlcohol and sugar-sweetened beveragesSocial media such as Facebook and Twitter
And envision these:Rejuvenating sleep, meditation, readingFresh-grilled, healthy, easy, economicalEfficient gym time, great resultsGreater self-esteem and self-worthLocal shopping, volunteer, mentorPlay a sport, play with your kids, projectsHydration, weight loss, clarityFace-to-face time with friendsMake it a habit
Consider this: About 40 percent of our daily actions are because of our ingrained habits rather than by an actual decision we make. So, obviously, the habits we form or reform are extremely important. Deciding to change an undesirable habit doesn't happen overnight; it relies heavily upon a solid pledge over a period of time. Gathering the willpower to remain active or to eat healthier, for example, requires a commitment to something larger than us. It also helps to have a support system in place for times of weakness. Sometimes a friend's gentle reminder or nudge off the sofa is all the inspiration we need to put us back on the right track.Back to the scales
If you're one who's trying to shed a few pounds and firm up underused muscles, why not think about all the things you could gain if you lose. Instead of concentrating on numbers, it might be interesting to take note of other important markers, such as your energy level, your mood, the way your clothes fit, how you sleep, how your skin looks, how your hair shines. And you'll take pride in the example you're setting for those around you. Don't be surprised if after you lose a little, you gain a lot.Cindy Boggs, wellness presenter and author, is an ACE-certified instructor/trainer. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for her award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World" on her website, www.cindysays.com.