Happy New Year! What a perfect time to reset our goals and dreams; to recommit to a healthy way of life!
I am so excited about having January come around because that marks the one year anniversary of my being vegetarian/nutritarian!* It also marks one whole year since I’ve eaten desserts! A whole year!! If you only knew how addicted I was to sugar and how I continually fell off the no-sugar wagon, you would be surprised that I could last a day, let alone a year without sugar. I credit God for helping me and making it possible!!
*nutritarian is a word coined by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and it is a person who not only avoids certain unhealthy foods like sugar, meat, or dairy, but intentionally eats the most nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds. So no vegan junk food for me! I don’t try to replace meats or desserts with processed vegetarian substitutes. I just eat lots of fruits and veggies and nuts!
Many times, people who see the change in me, ask, “What did you do?” “Where do I start?” and so I wanted to make a list of what has helped me to stick to a healthier lifestyle for a year, with no going back. This list is in no particular order. I promise you, all of these things will improve your health and you will feel and look better!
Eat salad first.
It is a proven fact that eating more vegetables and greens equals better health and longevity. So, for at least one meal a day, you should have a BIG salad topped with a healthy dressing before you eat the rest of your meal. That ensures that you won’t be too full of other things to eat your veggies and you will flood your body with all of that nutrition right at first. And if you decide to eat a less-than-healthy dinner, you won’t be able to eat as much of it, since you will have just finished off a large bowl of salad. : )
Cut out sugar/dessert.
This may be most important. Maybe I should have put this at the top. It is definitely the hardest change to make, but it is the most worth it when it comes to your health.
There are many resources out there that let you know the dangers of sugar, and like me, you may have read them and dismissed it all, believing sugar would be too hard to give up. And it is hard, but not for long. I will not lie: addiction to sugar is real and requires a withdrawal period. It will be pretty bad (flu-like symptoms, headaches, irritability, etc.), but if you can make through those first 3 days or so, the cravings start to disappear and you start feeling better than you ever have! Fruit is your friend during those first few days. They are like a nicotine patch – they give you some healthy sugar to blunt the withdrawal symptoms. Just be careful not to have too much, limit yourself to only a few pieces a day. You need to go through this process; there is no way around it, and too much fruit will keep you addicted.
It will take serious commitment. You have to decide you are going to do this no matter what; that your health is that important. Don’t do moderation. Don’t do temporary. You honestly won’t regret it.
Use your self-control and willpower at the grocery store, and you won’t have to at home.
Many times, I see things at the store, usually healthy junk food, and they look so GOOD, so GOOD FOR ME. I’ve found that if I tell myself that I could just have this chocolate granola sprinkled on my nicecream occasionally, or these black bean crispy crackers would go great with some healthy hummus, then I buy them and next thing you know, I’m sitting there stuffing my face with handfuls of cereal and an empty box of crackers, wondering how I went so wrong! I’ve found that if I just a.) don’t go down those aisles, or b.) just walk away and exercise some self-control, then at home I can go to the pantry and have no temptations! I can’t eat it if it’s not there.
This is a good friend of #3. Make sure you have truly healthy snacks and plenty of healthy food that you really like on hand at all times. Always have salad greens and some toppings you like in your fridge. Never be without some fruit, whether it’s a bag of apples or oranges or grapes; or frozen fruit like bananas or berries for nicecream/dessert. Whatever it is that you like to eat, keep it in your house and ready to go when hunger/cravings start. If it’s not convenient to eat right, you won’t. Seriously.
Be kind to yourself.
This is something I still struggle with but is so important. If you are feeling terrible about how you look or how you keep failing in your diet; if you are filling your mind with negative self-talk and mean, unkind thoughts about yourself, you will find it much harder to take care of yourself. You won’t feel like you are worth the effort. But that is a lie. You are so worth it. God made you and loves you, really loves you. You can do this. Don’t give up. If/when you fail, keep getting up and trying again.
If weighing yourself discourages you, don’t weigh yourself. You will know by the way your clothes fit and how you look if this is working. You will know by how much better you feel.
If you want, pick an uplifting phrase to tell yourself when you start to feel down about yourself.
- I can and will do this.
- I am worth the effort.
- I will not give up.
Repeat it until you believe it. Then keep believing it.
Next week, I’ll give you 5 more tips on how to start and stick to a healthy lifestyle, so be watching for that! I hope you have a great week!
Question: what are some things that you feel are holding you back as you embark on this journey of healthy eating? What obstacles do you face? Lack of time or money? Difficulty level of recipes? Hard-to-find-ingredients? Too much to give up? I will be doing a series in the near future on ways to overcome those obstacles, and I’d love to hear what you face so I can make sure what I write is helpful to you. Let me know in the comments below or email me. : )