Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lent as a diet plan

Years ago, way back in college and before there was such a thing as the Atkins diet, I gave up carbs for Lent. If you believe the notion that what you give up during this season should be a real sacrifice, then for a college kid giving up pizza, fries and subs definitely qualified as a sacrifice and therefore met the true spirit of Lent. I lost 20 pounds and figured, at least in part, it was because I had God on my side.

Last year I made the same commitment to walk away from many of the foods I love for the forty days of Lent. I'd like to think that generally speaking I have more willpower as an adult than I did as a college kid and that maybe my relationship with God is as good or stronger. What I didn't count on was having a book hit stores right in the middle of Lent.

You may not know this about authors -- or at least this author -- but we fret over everything. We worry the books won't be on the shelves when they're supposed to be and that all of our carefully-timed publicity plans will be for naught. When they are on shelves, we worry that they're not selling fast enough. Those of us who are truly crazed -- and count me among them -- visit every bookstore, grocery store or anyplace books are shelved and for sale. You'd think after all these years and more than a hundred books I'd be over this. I'm not.

I'm also an information junkie. I want numbers. I watch bestseller lists. In other words, I make myself nuts, probably hauling my agent and editor slightly past the edge of sanity with me. Needless to say, there is never a time when I am more desperate for chocolate. In fact, during those days, there's not a carb on earth that's not my friend.

Despite my determination and whatever assistance God was doling out, I fell off the carb wagon about three weeks into Lent last year. Now I'm trying again. My next book -- THE INN AT EAGLE POINT -- will be in stores before Easter (on March 31, in fact), but I am hoping to be so ingrained into a non-carb lifestyle by then that it'll be second nature to me. I am also hoping that any of you who have made sacrifices for Lent will share your stories about what you've given up and how you've stuck to it. I need the inspiration.

In theory 40 days of sacrifice should be doable. It's a finite period of time, unlike those new year's resolutions that are supposed to last forever...or at least until December 31. So, help me out and tell me how you're doing. And if you happen to cross paths with me in a bookstore and I happen to be sitting in the cafe with a scone in front of me, you have my permission to snatch it away. Of course, it's probably best if you first make certain that it is me and not some total stranger who'll accuse you of theft or break your wrist. Having that on my conscience would drive me straight into a tub of ice cream.

Sherryl Woods

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