Well, I’ve settled on it. I’m going to embark on one of the tougher challenges of my life. I’ve hiked 100 miles in 10 days. This will be harder. I completed a Doctoral Program in less than 24 months with 2 jobs, a wife, and a kid. This will be harder.
Over the next 7 months I will be cutting out something I LOVE each month. It’s not cumulative meaning at the end of the month I can bring back the thing I cut out (but hopefully now with more moderation.)
This challenge was birthed out of 2 separate things I’ve been dealing with. First, I’ve been gaining weight consistently over the past 20 years. In fact, I’m like a metronome. I gain almost exactly 4 lbs every year without fail. That might not sound like a ton, but in another 20 years I’ll have gained another 80-lbs. Best-case scenario, I’ll make it on the Biggest Loser, and worst-case I’m on My 600-lb Life. So, in 2017 I started running. I did a Couch-to-5K Program which I completed in March. (It was supposed to take 9-weeks and took me 9-months… but the point is I completed it.) I’m still running some, but not as much, but hope to get back into it more regularly once we get some nice 90-degree fall weather here. The next thing I did is cut out all soda for 2018. It was my New Year’s Resolution so to speak. I’ve tried to limit my soda consumption in the past, but apparently I do better with just all or nothing. So I went from drinking approx. 1,600 calories of Dr. Pepper per day… to zero. I haven’t had one sip of soda in 9 months. I still want a soda occasionally but I see how much it has freed me. But as much as I LOVED Dr. Pepper, there are some other things I love more. I lost some weight in January and February (almost 16 lbs) but I gained it all back, slowly but surely. I’m right back to where I started.
The other issue I’ve been dealing with is trying to help people overcome addictions. As a pastor, if you are willing to ask the hard questions, you will find all sorts of struggles people are dealing with. I praise the Lord that I’ve never really been addicted to any substance. I also praise the Lord that I’ve overcome the one thing I felt truly addicted to for many years, pornography. I at least can somewhat relate to people wanting to stop something and just feeling like they didn’t have the power to do so. But substance abuse is still different in many ways. Personally, I’ve never been addicted to alcohol; in fact I’ve only accidently drank alcohol like 2 or 3 times in my life. (Sometimes people think you’re kidding when you order a Virgin Daiquiri.) I’ve never smoked (anything). I’ve never taken illegal drugs. I did have a prescription for Tylenol with Codeine when I got my wisdom teeth taken out; I did not do well. I don’t say any of this to brag. In fact, I praise God for protecting me, because I honestly think I have a pretty addictive personality. There are some things I’m obsessed with. They’re just not looked down on in society as a whole.
I’m calling this “My 1 Corinthians 6:12 Challenge” because what it says is, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” I think some things have mastery over me. I think that fits well within the definition for an idol. I clearly identified 7 things that I think are Idols in my life. Now, I don’t think I really worship these things. But when I think about losing them I kinda freak out a little. And then that freaks me out a little more. If I really don’t think I can live without something, doesn’t that thinghave control over me? Aren’t I a slave to that thing? I don’t look at any of these 7 things I’m eliminating month-by-month as sin in and of themselves. They just have too many roots in my being. It feels like to rip them out will kill me. I know that’s not true. It just feels that way. I don’t want anything mastering me that way except for the One and Only Master of the Universe – The God-Man Himself – Jesus Christ.
So here are My 7 Deadly Sins. I’ve dedicated one month over the next 7-months to eliminate each of these thingsfrom my life. Once it no longer holds mastery over me, I hope I can enjoy these things responsibly, but if I can’t, at least I’ll know I can completely eliminate them from my life.
No Added Sugar October
This means no candy (sad face), no ice cream (whimper), no cookies (actual tears). This means I can’t have Chick-fil-a Sauce or Honey Mustard… both have added sugar (ahhh!). In all honestly, I think I have to adjust at least 25-30% of what I eat. Now, I can have fruit, because it’s not processed. God made it that way. I can also have honey and pure maple syrup; but nothing with added sugar. I’m worried just about my natural reactions. I see a bowl with skittles, I feel like I’ll just react off of muscle memory. But I will spit it out, if I make a mistake. Pray for Me.
No News November
This means no news radio, no cable news, and especially no Social Media. Go to Settings on your phone. Scroll down to Battery Life. Then toggle it to show the amount of activity on each app. I’m on Facebook an obscene amount. I also get all worked-up by Politicians that live 2,000 miles away despite the real impact on my life being very minimal. There’s always going to be another “crisis” for me to care about. Part of me is looking forward to No News November, but I can see by the nearly 2-hours-a-day I spend on Social Media that I might go through withdrawal.
I love cheese. I can’t even express to you how much I love cheese. Now unfortunately ice cream gets thrown under the bus on this one too, but the real purpose of this one is to cut out cheese. I’m sure I’ll discover other foods I like that has dairy in it too (like pop-tarts, yeah, that has dairy in it for some reason.) But no cheese is gonna hurt. Mac & Cheese… I will miss thee. Cheeseburgers… I will miss thee. Cheese making vegetables tolerable… I will miss thee. Mac & Cheese… I will… wait, I think I did that one already. Queso dip at Chilli’s… I will miss thee. Grilled Cheese…. I will miss thee. Lasagna… I will miss thee. And of course, how can I forget, Mac & Cheese… I will miss, miss, miss thee.
Just-Say-No to Carbs January
This is the Mac-Daddy of Challenges. This is close to cruel and unusual punishment. This is the ultimate test of will power. I love all things carbohydrate – and I’m specifically targeting the Starches. I LOVE bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and the like. They are such a staple to me. I hope people understand what I’m giving up. I will have to set-aside my identity as an Italian-American. Once you surpass 24-hours of no pasta, you are put on probation. After 72-hours, you’re no longer Italian (until you eat at least a serving of Angel Hair with red sauce while wearing a white undershirt.) I’m going to lose my olive colored skin and the dark circles under my eyes. By the end of the month my nose will have shrunk and I’ll stop using my hands to speak. But there’s no doubt, I’m addicted to Carbs, and I don’t want to be addicted to anything.
No Fast-food February
This even includes Chick-fil-a which should not be in the same category as McDonalds and Burger King. But I’m even including places like Jersey Mikes and Subway, even though they aren’t purely fast-food places. I eat soooo much junk (at McDonalds especially.) I love burgers and fries and chicken nuggets and milkshakes, and I have a feeling that just smoking a pack of cigarettes a day might be healthier for me. I’m always on the run, and always hungry, and so I just grab something fried and greasy for convenience. I don’t eat super healthy at home, but definitely way better than when I grab fast food. This is going to take some serious planning though. If I’m 30 min past a scheduled mealtime, I feel like my stomach is sucking up against my spine trying to absorb nutrients.
I’m not really sure which month will be the hardest. I could make a case for 3 or 4 of them and this one might prove to be the hardest. I’m definitely a carnivore. I think I usually have a meat for every meal. Sometimes not for breakfast, but I can’t think of the last lunch or dinner where I didn’t have meat. For shear weight, I think it might be the most amount of food I eat. In a vacuum, I actually am really anti the animal agricultural practices we have in this country. I think we are torturing animals for me to consume. The problem is… they are just so delicious. I’ll eat any animal that’s cooked. I mean it. I’ll eat anything that has a face. I just wish everything was free-range, happy, and enjoyed their life until they were unexpectedly and painlessly killed and served to me medium rare within a few hours. More than any other food group, I’ve heard that when you go without meat for a while that it doesn’t taste the same when you go back.
No Amusement April
I almost named this No Entertainment Epril but I thought “Epril” would confuse people in my desire to alliterate everything. This means no Netflix or anything else on Roku (I already don’t have cable.) This means no videos on Facebook or Youtube, and no video games (which presently just means no Clash of Clans because I have no time to play anything else. This also means, I’m going to miss the start of baseball season (fortunately they have 162,000 games.) But my real Amusement of choice are movies. So I won’t watch any movies on DVD or streaming, but I have one caveat. I can still go to the movies with Amanda. I don’t want to lose out on a date night with her or miss something she wants to see. But she has to pick the movie. This means I might get to see Shazaam, but I have a feeling I’m going to have to wait till May to see the reboot of Hellboy. (I hope MoviePass still exists by May.) I just need to take a month and eliminate screen time.
Well, that’s it – My 7 Deadly Sins. I want to invite you to join in with me. You probably should pick your own 7 things to eliminate but you can just copy me if you want ;)
Follow my blog and like this article and I think you’ll get updates as I make changes. Otherwise, come back to this page at the end of each month and I’ll write about my experiences. Pray for me. I’ll pray for you if you comment. Let the 1 Corinthians 6:12 Challenge… Begin.