“It’s so simple. It is really easy.” You may have heard these exclamations from some of the whole plant-based practitioners. Respectfully, that does not ring true for many of us. You just have to cruise the discussion boards of those either embarking on or all ready on the journey of whole plant-based living to realize that those sentiments are frequently contradicted.
It is much more preferable to offer a ‘real world’ reality. This reality is that change is indeed hard. Change involves the process of reflection and then contemplation as to what outcome you want and what you need to have occur in your life. The reconciliation of your want and need becomes the formation of an outcome goal worthy of going towards because it will be more fully satisfying.
Once this outcome goal is determined and articulated, it can be changed into a doable goal, accomplished within a clearly stated time period. The next task is to determine what behaviours need to be stopped and what behaviours need to be started in order to achieve this stated goal. Once this is determined, it is necessary to identify and commit yourself to the doable steps it will take to stop and start certain behaviours as each relates to the stated goal. Are you lost? Let’s bottom-line this for you.
If you stop certain behaviours – ones that slow or stop your progress, than you need to start other behaviours that move and progress you toward your desired outcome goal successfully. For example, if you stop eating meat than you need to start eating other low fat foods prepared without oil that provide you with protein like green peas, 102 varieties of beans and legumes, brown rice, etc. Another example is if you stop drinking milk, fruit juices and soda pop then you need to start consuming water, sparkling water plain or if you prefer with a twist of lime or lemon, or try a herbal tea or eat the whole fruit – all healthier more healing options.
This plan of switching out old unhealthy habits for new, much healthier habits can help to propel you toward your desired outcome much faster. Will it be hard at times or even at lot of the time? Yes, it will at first. Just as hard as when you first attempted to become a bike rider or decided to become a committed partner to someone or a first-time parent (and a second or even third-time parent).
You have done many hard things before in your life – remember? Sure you do – yet it did not stop you from graduating from riding a bike to driving a car, did it? No. It did though, with practice, get more comfortable and even easier with time. You might have even surprised yourself at how quickly the unfamiliar and awkward became familiar and comfortable. The combination of time and practice smoothes out the edges of what was once a hard, rough initial experience.
Choosing your “hard” seems much more worthwhile and manageable when you are getting real direct benefits for your efforts. It is not enough to set a desired outcome goal. It is also necessary to monitor your progress and turn on your ability to “notice”. What are you ‘noticing’? You are noticing through observations – what you see, hear, feel, smell and taste – using all your senses to notice the changes happening to you, your body as whole and all those around you.
You may, for example, notice the needle on the scale going in a downward direction or that your belt notch can be moved to notch in the smaller direction or that the food tastes surprising good, maybe even delicious as you are introduced to new flavour profiles! Maybe you notice feeling more energetic and that after-dinner bloat is absent.
This is about noticing the presence of certain factors and even the absence of others. For example, you might notice that the needle on the scale has not moved, however, that once tight button on the waist of your jean is no longer a struggle to secure. Clothes are feeling looser and you find that you have a spring in your step. You may also notice your skin is clearer and that you woke feeling refreshed rather than still fatigue as you did in the past.
Each opportunity you take to notice and then make a mental note about or even record in a diary helps to reinforce your new healthier habits. This collection of data or “research” is helping you to adopt a healthier mindset because you are noticing what a positive difference eating an oil-free whole plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains is making in your life on a daily basis.
Another benefit to the practice of noticing is that it can serve as a helpful monitoring of your progress. Perhaps you have experienced a S.L.I.P. aka “sudden lapse in planning” and noticing can help you see the effects of the S.L.I.P. and gives you the immediate feedback to inspire you to get back on track with the vey next bite. No more waiting for ‘magic Monday’ to start anew which just delays and discourages your progress. Now you notice and you respond in a quick and positive manner to keep moving yourself closer to your desired outcome. Noticing helps you to adopt a forgive and move-on strategy for long-term and lasting success.
While change is for sure “hard” – choosing your hard when it comes with positive desirable outcomes – like sustainable weight loss, normal blood pressures and cholesterol readings, stable blood sugars – to name just a few common results -makes any initial challenges or even discomforts well worth it – don’t you think?