If you’re like me, you’re excited about a new year – a chance for a new beginning. It’s an opportunity to review the past year and vow to make some positive changes in your life for the year ahead. And for this coming new year, you’ve made a resolution to improve your diet and explore / adopt an all (or mainly) vegan diet.
But then it happens. Procrastination. Excuses. Distractions. Interruptions. Postponement. Delays. Derailment. Illness. Travel. Avoidance.
Whatever the reasons, we’ve all been there, done that (or rather, not done that). And it can be tough to get back on track again and move forward to make some real progress toward our goals.
Have a Plan for Your Resolution
It’s always a good idea to have a solid plan for your resolution. And in this case, since we’re talking about a diet change, this means creating a meal plan:
- Track what you currently eat or usually eat. This way you can pinpoint all of the areas needed for improvement and mark them for change.
- Create a meal plan using most of the food you already have on hand, and identify what you should replace with healthier versions.
- Educate yourself on the many plant-based alternatives available for meats, dairy, eggs and seafood. Experiment to find the ones you like the best.
- Plan your meals ahead of time and utilize a grocery list.
- Break it all down into several mini-goals. For example, during the first month: Remove / replace beef and pork. For month two: Remove / replace chicken and eggs. And for month three: Remove / replace dairy products.
Remember that knowledge is power! Spend some time doing research so you understand the issues. This can come in the form of nutritional statistics, ingredient replacements, veg-friendly restaurants, and new recipes to try. Remind yourself of the positive impact a plant-based diet has on the planet, your health and the animals.
Track Your Resolution Progress
Whether trying to cut down on sugar, saturated fat / cholesterol, sodium, gluten, alcohol or whatever, it’s amazing how much can escape our radar or how easy it is to deviate from the plan if we don’t track our progress. So it really helps to identify your patterns or triggers, so you can head off at the pass those weakest moments. And the best way to do that is by keeping a log or journal.
- Write down what and when you eat or drink for at least the first two weeks.
- If weight loss is your primary objective, don’t become a slave to the scale.
- For optimal results, include yoga, cardio activities (e.g., walking, running, cycling) and light workouts with weights into your daily / weekly routines.
And be patient with yourself! It takes at least three weeks for a new activity or lifestyle change to become a habit. And you may not notice any marked changes in your weight / appearance or energy levels for at least a month or so after adopting a plant-based diet. Allow your body time to fully detox and adapt to the new healthier habits.
As you reach each milestone or goal, treat yourself to something special. Whether a night out, a decadent dessert, or a new pair of shoes, select a reward that means something to you.
And then set your sights on the next mini-goal or milestone, and repeat the reward process once you reach the next one.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back – Getting Back on Track
So you fumbled; you could not resist that slice of turkey at the last holiday meal or the omelet at that champagne brunch last week. Not to worry; the vegan police won’t arrest you.
Changing or breaking old habits and creating new ones takes time and, well, resolution. So cut yourself some slack and start again:
- Maybe try not to aim too high if your time, energy and dedication are too compromised to reach your original goals.
- Don’t set yourself up to fail by putting yourself into situations or environments where you are likely to stray from your plan. For example, you may want to reduce or avoid restaurants / eating out for a while if those unhealthy habits / establishments usually prove too tempting.
- If you do dine out, remember that there’s always something veg*n on the menu. Or discover how easy it is to request the chef / cook turn a non-veg*n menu item into a veg*n dish for you.
- Prepare recipes in advance for quick grab and go meals.
- Freeze leftovers to have extra prepared meals ready at a moment’s notice.
- Bring packed lunches to work / school, and carry healthy snacks with you or in your car.
And if you can, try to find a veg buddy to accompany you on your new journey. In this way, you’ll have someone with whom you can explore new ingredients and dishes.
Remember to just keep trying. Because as your habits and taste buds change, and you begin to notice the many positive results of pursuing this new diet / lifestyle, you’ll probably never look back.