Whenever I see ‘former’ plant-based vegans talking about how sick, weak, or tired they were while poking their pinky toe into plant-based vegan waters I know they had to be missing an important part of this lifestyle. You can’t chow down on a box of sweetened cereal for breakfast, eat a peanut butter and jelly on white bread for lunch, and a box of Oreos (Vegan!) and think you’re going to feel swell. Your taste buds will sing but your head will spin.
Here are a few tips to kickstart your plant-based lifestyle.
1. Don’t follow the fads.
Health diets are all. the. rage. these days. The detox diet. The juice fast diet. The lose 20 pounds only eating 2 carrots a day det (I just made that up). Changing your lifestyle based a sponsored ad in your Facebook feed is like shopping for a bra online. You’ll be disappointed. You’ll wonder why you haven’t perked up (your energy levels that is) and go back to your old bad habits. You need to really research what is going to work best for you. If you want real change you have to make real changes. There is a general rule that I follow when it comes to what I put in my body: If it came from a plant, I eat it. If it was made in a lab, I don’t eat it. Natural foods. Not the kind of foods that have the word natural stamped on the box. I reduce all packaged goods. Fresh fruits and vegetables in abundance. Processed foods are out.
2. Set realistic expectations.
Heres the healthy (previously the skinny. Skinny is out and healthy is in). If you start your plant-based diet today you wont wake up tomorrow and automatically look like Freelee the banana girl.
Lets put it into perspective. We invested a lengthy amount of time into cramming as many chemicals into every cell of our body as we could manage. It’s going to take a while to get all that ish out. Yo-yo dieting takes a massive toll on your body. When you lose weight and put it back on again you end up weighing more than you did before. Not only do you weigh more, you also put on more fat than before.
Set realistic expectations for yourself. In fact, don’t even focus on your weight or the scale. I threw my scale out a few months ago and indulged in an entire batch of unprocessed vegan cookies. I haven’t regretted that day since. It’s not about how much you weigh it’s about how well you eat. Treat your body like you treat your most valuable possession, because it is. You’ll drive yourself bat shit crazy weighing yourself every day to see how much or little you’ve progressed. It can take years for your body to realize you aren’t binge dieting anymore and release that survival fat that’s been packed on as a result of it. The bod you’ve always wanted will fall into line, but remember you have to give it time.
3. This too shall pass.
I guarantee you will feel icky. At first. Breaking up from bad food is like breaking up with a bad boy. Our love of sweets, fried fatty foods, salty snacks and meat has turned into borderline obsession. In fact, some researchers believe food is just as addicting as cigarettes and cocaine. Research done by Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts found that when someone eats a meal that is high in refined carbs it produces the same effects in the brain that is consistent with those of a drug addiction (End of Dieting – Dr. Joel Fuhrman). In short, you will experience a period of withdrawal. People often mistake this period of withdrawal as the body needing meat, cheese, dairy, or whatever other crappy food you’re detoxing from. It’s natural to feel some level of discomfort when switching to a plant-based diet. Take heart! This too shall pass. The first five days will be the hardest. To help ease this process make sure you are filling your plate with nutrient dense foods. Once you get over that first hump you’ll see how beautiful it is on the other side. Come on over, I’ll save you a seat.
4. It’s all about perspective!
There is no try. There is only do or don’t do. If you say you’re going to try then you’ve already failed. If you think of this lifestyle only as an opportunity to lose weight, then your going to focus on restriction and deprivation. This type of stinkin thinkin (as Kris Carr would say) will only lead to self-pity. Think of this as an opportunity to have the health you’ve always wanted. It’s about abundance. How you think and what you focus on have a huge impact on every aspect of your life. Think of all of the positive things you’ll gain from making the switch: Glowing skin, increased energy levels, luscious locks, and a firm ass perhaps? What you think is almost as important as what you eat. Be kind and loving to yourself. You’re worth it.
5. Tomorrow never comes.
We’ve all said it. I’ll start tomorrow. Shit I’m starting tomorrow today right now! (It doesn’t make sense but it totally does!). I used to be a heavy smoker. Crazy right? The crap my body used to tolerate for me is amazing! I’m blessed to still be standing. As a smoker tomorrow was my favorite day. I’ll quit tomorrow. I’ll quit after that party next weekend. I’ll quick after thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, next Tuesday. Telling yourself you’ll start after the next special occasion will never work. There will always be another one just around the corner. Stop looking at the calendar and start looking in the mirror. Is that person staring back at you worth a little dedication and effort. You bet your ass it is!.
Just remember that life is hard sometimes. When the days get challenging stay committed to your health and making wise food choices the best you can.
“It will take strength, it will take effort, but the pleasures and rewards that you’ll get from a healthy life will be priceless.”