Each day I get several e-mails from people that are losing all hope when it comes to their health and weight. And I get a handful of e-mails from people telling me that they do not want to go through what I’ve gone through, or that they are concerned for their health or their families health. I got a few e-mails this week from people who have serious near grave situations who say they “desperately” want to change to become Vegan.
Each day in the news there are more and more reports on how going plant based is best for helping all sorts of illness and even disease. It’s not a fad, just fact. We’ve put stuff that doesn’t belong in our bodies for way too long, and our bodies are tired, they are at overload, they can’t process it all anymore, and yet we keep putting stuff that doesn’t belong there in, and we keep getting put on more medications, and we keep getting sicker. In part, this is not our faults. We have been fed a lot of advertising, lies, and we’ve been fed harmful addictive chemicals that have caused us to become addicted to some of the most dangerous foods.
We know all of this, but very few are willing to make the changes necessary. Often I will get e-mails that are filled with language that is not hopeful at all, and it seems to me that these folks who say they would do “anything” would then not say “except give up X”.
I get so many e-mails saying that “I can not go plant based because X food!” , or they really want to be healthy, but they can’t give up diet sodas. It kind of negates every thing. And, generally if I say “Well give up every thing BUT X” it is followed with a response with “Well, it’s not JUST X it’s also x, y, z, a, b, c & D!”. And there is the trouble.
Sadly, I don’t know if for most people their health just has not become bad enough to want to change it, and more sad, I don’t know what the threshold for most people is. For me it was facing amputation, but for others who aren’t so lucky, they could be met with something far worse, and every day is like a game of chance, but with your life.
I have this way of living right now, that I am hoping will help some of you who are here because you are unsure if you should try going plant based.
It’s a few steps to a healthy plant based diet (that can help you lose weight!)
1. What’s the worst that could happen?
I say this often to myself. And I think of the most terrible things that could happen if I do or do not do something. Let’s take cheese for instance. What is the worst that is going to happen if you don’t eat cheese? Seriously? You might feel angry and irritable for a few days (it’s a HUGE addictive food for most), you might crave it like crazy, you might cry in a parking lot because you can’t get cheese on your sandwich. Think of all the worst case scenarios for you giving up or doing whatever it is that will make you more healthy. I gave cheese as an example, because it’s the one people would punch me in the face if they met me in person and I told them to give it up. It’s a powerful and harmful addiction to something we don’t process well, and that we just don’t need.
Maybe going plant based will cost you a little more upfront money (it will save you thousands later on, but at first you might be spending a little more). Maybe you will have to wake up earlier to prepare meals, maybe you will have to pack the kids lunches, maybe you will choke on a carrot, anything, just write out a list of all of the worst case scenarios of the things you are afraid to do, or afraid to give up.
But, ask yourself the next time you are thinking “I just can’t” or “I could never” what is the worst that could happen?
2. I am choosing not do… vs. “I Can’t”
When I first went plant based, and when I first started to work out hard core I started to change my inner thought process. Instead of saying “I CAN’T work out today!” I would say “I am choosing not to work out today.”
This really put the power in my hands, I was the one choosing not to work out, it wasn’t that I could not do it. There was hardly a day where I could NOT work out. By saying that I was choosing not to work out would really force me to think about it, and to own what I was choosing. And by doing so I would have to reason why I was making that choice, in this case not to work out.
The same goes with food. Instead of saying “I CAN’T give up X” say “I’m choosing to not give up X” own your decision to not treat your body well. And decide if that is truly what you want to do, and what you are choosing to do. You have far more power than you could ever imagine, and you are stronger than any addiction, it’s realizing it that is the hardest part. Once you own your choices and own your reasons, you can then make changes. When you think that you “can’t” or that you are helpless nothing will ever change in your life. Own your choices.
3. Picturing yourself there.
There is a really great exercise in dealing with panic, if you are scared of something, picture yourself completing the task, or the thing you are afraid of. So let’s say you are just starting out with a work out routine, rather than seeing what is right in front of you (a nasty treadmill or big huge hill to walk up) picture yourself when you have finished. Think of all of the positive things that you will feel about yourself when you have accomplished what you set out to do. Picture yourself feeling a little stronger, a little more healthy, picture yourself calling your best friend and telling her/him “I JUST walked 3 miles!”. In regards to food, picture yourself in a few months, in the kitchen, making something really tasty. Picture yourself a few pounds lighter, fitting into some new hot clothes. Picture your children/husband/partner enjoying a healthy not fast food meal, and feeling good about their bodies. Picture yourself feeling energetic, not tired, and more filled with life.
4. Breaking up with food.
For years I struggled with losing weight and getting control of my diabetes. I tried every thing, but wasn’t willing to take that one extra step most of the time. Food was this thing that had a hold on me, and I did not want it to let go. That’s right, it was me not wanting it to go away. Food was my shelter, my comfort, my thing I was able to turn to when all else failed.
When the heck was a cup of raw toasted almonds going to comfort me after a bad day of work? Food and me had this really bad relationship going on, I needed it. More so, I needed certain foods to let me know that life would be okay, as long as I could have some mozzarella every so often, I’d be just fine. When I took that away, I thought I’d lose something, I thought I’d lose freedom in choice of food, I thought that I’d lose the ability to entertain (I love cooking for people), I thought I’d lose certain comforts, I wanted to hold on to those things that I thought made me most happy, which were mainly dairy products, and I did not want to picture my life with out them.
I was wrong. By giving up all of those bad foods – I gained more freedom than I know what to do with, and I gained control of my body. For the first time in my life, I’m in control of my body, not a doctor, not a drug, not a diet. I am in control because I am only putting into my body what it was meant to handle. I do not live my life trying to deny myself of bad foods. I live my life, enjoying nourishing my body, and learning what my body really does need, not what it is addicted to. There are still days where I will crave things that aren’t as healthy for me, but they are considerably less than ever before, and that is what makes me free.
5. Stop making excuses.
Every time you make an excuse come up with 5 ways that you could actually accomplish something. This is how it works…
“I don’t have time to make the kids dinner, and get to the gym and get home in time to put them to bed”
- I could – make dinner the night before, or earlier that day.
- I could have a list of easy plant based meals ready to go (like Amy’s frozen veggie pizza and a big bagged salad)
- I could budget and give up (X) so that I can hire a babysitter to help.
- I could find a gym with a great child care program to get a little “me” time in for working out.
- I could get the kids in on the work out – go for a family walk/hike play a game of soccer.
- I could work something out with my partner so we alternated nights so we both can work out for 30 min. (or more)
- I could work out in the morning and wake up earlier.
- I could get a pass to a pool and bring the kids all summer and swim a lot.
- I could go for 30 minute walks/work outs during my lunch.
- I could walk while watching my favorite tv show after they go to bed.
- I could find 15 min. in the morning, 15 min in the afternoon and 15 min in the evening to work out, bringing my work out time to 45 min. per day.
- I could make sure that I’m eating properly so that my body can more effectively burn calories.
*On the kid front, I myself do not have children, and I know that it can be a really hard thing for most parents. But I do want to say – do not use your kids as an excuse for your health being poor. You will end up resenting your kids, and your kids, in the future will blame themselves. I do not believe that people pass things like obesity and diabetes down to their children, I do believe you pass habits down to them. You can choose to have a healthy family, and I know that’s not always easy, but look down the road. Picture your kids with their kids, eating healthy, working out, moving around, going on walks, picture them not struggling with food addictions, and being thankful that you got them to eat veggies and fruit. I’ve met tons of veggie parents now, who have had great success in feeding their children. One who recently told me – that half the battle with getting kids to eat right, is changing the way the parents eat. Make eating fun, make moving fun, decide that you are going to be a healthy family, and do whatever it takes to make that happen. You’ll be happy in the end, and so will your children, and future generations. You have a huge responsibility for ending they deadly cycles that might have been passed down to you.
Let’s try another excuse: “I can’t give up diet coke because it helps me stay awake and I hate water”
- I could eat a more nourishing breakfast that will help with energy levels. (staying away from cheese and dairy products will help this a lot)
- I could make sure I’m getting plenty of vitamin B-12 every morning.
- I could make sure that I’m getting the vitamins I need.
- I could put a tea bag in my water to give it a little taste
- I could drink green tea (iced or hot)
- I could have seltzer (plain) with lemon or lime if I need something fizzy.
- I could save the few dollars a day on diet coke to get myself a massage every month.
- I could research and find out why drinking diet coke is so harmful to my body.
- I could make a refreshing cold fruit smoothie instead.
- I could picture myself not needing diet coke every day.
- I could imagine my body and how happy it will be to rid itself of another unhealthy addiction.
Stop making excuses and start coming up with lists of ways that you can actually accomplish something. The moment you start to make an excuse, stop yourself, slow down the thought, and get out a pen (or a word doc) and start writing all the ways that you WILL do or for some not do something.
I know that some of you are reading this and thinking “BUT SHE DOESN’T UNDERSTAND!”
Maybe I don’t, maybe I haven’t been through exactly what you have been through, and maybe you think you have a very unique case where you can absolutely not give up the things that are making you unhealthy. But I can assure you that all of us can choose to live and be healthier, when we want to. Starting today I want you to get yourself a journal, or save a document in your e-mail or on your computer – each week evaluate if you are healthier than the week before. This can be baby steps. But if your end goal is to be living a healthy life, free of harmful animal products, moving more, and making healthier choices start one week at a time.
Pick one thing to work on this week, and picture yourself writing out next week “This week I ate less X” or “This week I walked 30 more minutes” or “This week I smoked 5 less cigarettes” whatever it is that you would really like to see change.
When you write down what you’ve accomplished, write what that means multiplied out. If you walked 30 minutes more in one week, over a month that is over 1200 extra calories burned (for an average person) which equals just about an extra pound, and that’s just adding less than 5 minutes of walking per day to your work outs! If you eliminate 5 servings of cheese a week (which by the way is NOT a lot of cheese, most people have 5-7 servings in a typical eating out meal) you will save yourself 605 calories and 60 grams of fat! You will also start to eliminate how much addictive chemicals are getting in your body. But just on calories alone, if you cut 5 servings per week that is 2601 calories per month! Which, if you’ve been paying attention, combined with that extra 30 minutes of walking you have now saved yourself over 3000 calories which equals a couple of pounds, with out too much work.
Becoming healthier is a gradual process, that won’t just change over night. But you need to first start with deciding to become a healthier person, and deciding what you want that to look like in the end. For me, I want to be at a healthy weight, I want to have completely reversed diabetes, I want to be able to run a 10K, I want to be able to carry myself around with a lot more ease, I want to fit into clothes that I really love, I want to be able to do more active things (like surf, hike harder mountains, kayak), I want to be able to have children, I want to feel 100% more often, I want to crave healthier foods, I do not want to crave bad foods. Think of all the reasons why you want to be healthy, and all of the things that will help you to get there, and start doing them. And, if you ask me, I say start with the hardest things first. Chances are that your strongest addictions are actually causing all of the other addictions, and are causing you to not feel energetic – think of your strongest addictions like they are allergies that are hurting your body, once you stop those, other things will get easier as you go along.
And in the end, the more you go forward, the more you will lose the addictions or the excuses you have now. You will start to feel like a different person, which in turn will encourage you to keep it up, even on the hardest of days.
The most important thing to know is that there is hope, and you just happen to hold it all, and it’s all ready to be released, you just need to make that first step and be willing, and be ready to start that process of moving forward and choosing health.
Plant Based Diet Resources
I thought I’d write a short list of some resources on plant based every thing. This is kind of just the bare bones, there are 100′s of more resources. I believe that people need to research and discover on their own, and find out every thing they can.
Do research outside of what your doctor has told you. Every doctor I had told me I needed to eat animal protein – and they were ALL wrong. Ask your dr. what they know about plant based nutrition, ask what their most recent study on it has been, as, about the studies that were done that have been de-bunked since (like on soy, and vitamin B12) ask them what they think of some of the biggest studies of nutrition and disease. How much time do they spend with you on diet and exercise? How much time do they take to explain why they are recommending eating a certain way? And lastly, are you getting a second opinion from someone well versed in plant based health?
This is your life, research as much as you can. For me, it saved my life. A little over a year ago I was on 9 meds for EVERY THING. My cholesterol was life threatening, my diabetes was out of control, my hormone levels were messed up. Now, 10 sizes smaller and on no medications I am glad that I stopped just relying on doctors to save me, sometimes you have to learn how to save yourself. It’s the best thing you will ever do, to make informed decisions.
Here Are The Resources:
The China Study, Dr. Collin Campbell
-A very concise scientific summary of every thing you need to know about why going plant based is the best thing you can do for your body.
Dr. Neal Barnard:http://www.nealbarnard.org/
The Engine 2 Diet: Rip Esselstyn
– Practical guide to going on a healthy plant based diet. Filled with success stories and great recipes.
From the Doctor behind “Simply Raw, Reversing Diabetes” a book that outlines every thing that the “Tree of Life Institute” follows for helping type one and type 2 diabetics go off of insulin. There is also a spiritual aspect to this book.
Heart Attack Proof:http://www.heartattackproof.com/
The 30 Day Diabetes Miracle
This is the book that started it all for me. There is a lot of science and studies, as well as a very practical starting point for people.
Reversing Diabetes by Dr. Neal Barnard
One of my favorite books on plant based health. Dr. Barnard does a wonderful job in explaining exactly what will heal diabetes.
Breaking the Food Seduction Neal D. Barnard, M.D.
Also Dr. Neal Barnard great book on understanding food.
The Kind Diet – Alicia Silverstone
A book by actress, Alicia Silverstone. This book covers all the aspects of a vegan life.
The Thrive Diet – Brenden Brazier
Brenden is a super tri-athlete who has tons of information on a healthy plant based diet, especially for athletes.
Vegan Body Building: Robert Cheeke
Body builder, Robert Cheeke has a lot of information on the best way to be your best.
The Cancers Survivor Guide: Neal D. Barnard
Another great book by Neal Barnard who has helped thousands get through and survive cancer.
Skinny Bitch/Skinny Bastard: Rory Freedman
If you don’t mind some bad language and some straight talk, these are the books for you! To the point and not messing around, it’s an in your face and not subtle approach to being vegan.
Some Plant Based Diet sites to check out:
-Veg News – Blog of the year! I love this site for healthy fat free vegan recipes.
Information and blog from “The Engine 2 Diet”
Awesome resources and a 21 day kick start program that is completely free!
All about where vegans get their protein and dispelling a lot of myths. These are hardcore athletes who know a lot about food.
A site developed by Robert Cheeke, body builder. Great for motivation and inspiration!
Alicia Silverstone’s site based on her new book.
Tons of vegan recipes! Pretty much anything you can think of can be found here!
Great vegan magazine filled with lots of resources.
Find vegan places to eat and shop near you!
Documentaries/Movies to watch:
Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 days. Amazing must watch documentary by Brave New Films: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y41BDg1bBo8
A must watch movie! Follow 6 people as they transform and change their lives on a plant based diet.
The Eating Documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bgtyv3juYI
Straight forward and very informative documentary on what you are eating.
Fast Food Nation: https://www.amazon.com/Fast-Food-Nation-Greg-Kinnear/dp/B000MEYKAU
A movie on the fast food industry, very eye opening (and kind of gross)
Super Size Me: https://vimeo.com/206788157
Find out what happens when someone eats McDonalds for a month. You can watch it for free with the link above!