Health Magazine

If You Think Being a Vegan is All Salads and Wheatgrass, Think Again…

By Stacylrust

wheatgrassI recently shared with you my Lessons of 2013, so if you haven’t had a chance to check it out, you can read it here.

But, I wanted to save this BIG lesson for it’s own blog post.

One of the biggest things I learned this past year has been: don’t do things you hate in the name of “health” or “success”.

If you hate carrots and lifting weights, find other ways to eat healthy and exercise. If you hate networking events, find other ways to meet new people. If you’re giving up your beloved Starbucks lattes in order to save money, find other ways to meet your savings goals.

I have had to learn and re-learn over and over again that improving your life CANNOT include doing things you hate. If you hate it, don’t do it. It will not make you healthier or more successful.

So many people commit to doing things they don’t want to do in the hopes that these things will bring them to a place of happiness and fulfillment.

Real success in any area of life does take time and effort, but if we have to force ourselves to do it, we should maybe reconsider what we think we want.

Or, maybe we should reconsider the path we are taking to get there.

In the past year, I’ve taken many steps to drastically improve my health: I now have a daily supplement regimen, I gave up drinking soda, I started meditating, I workout more, I drink green juice almost every day, I have swapped all of my toxic beauty and cleaning products with all-natural substitutes, and I am working toward an entirely vegan diet.

I was really nervous to become a vegan because I had never been a person who loved salads or raw veggies. Sometimes a salad sounds great, but not every day, and certainly not every meal. I like hearty, hot meals, especially during the cold months, and I was worried my options would be limited.

Also, I know myself well enough to realize: if I don’t love it, I won’t do it. If being healthier means that I have to force myself to drink wheatgrass, and workout every morning at 6am, I won’t do it, no matter what the health consequences may be.

My willpower might get me by for a few days, but if I’m going to really change my lifestyle, I need to love how I get there.

No strict rules. No punishments. No beating myself up. No guilt. Let’s find a better way.

So I made a promise to myself last year, and continue to make this promise to myself every day: I’m never going to eat something I don’t want to eat, just because it’s healthy. Even if it takes me 5 years to completely become a vegan, I’m going to do it the right way: sustainably.

I’m also never going to exercise just to exercise; I’m going to find workouts that I enjoy.

I’m skipping the willpower B.S. and I’m doing what I want. I’m going to find paths to health and happiness that work for me.

I’m going to enjoy the journey. I’m not going to deny myself certain foods, or punish myself if I’m not perfect.

If I’m really craving a steak burrito from Chipotle, I’m going to go get one. No guilt. No shame. Just extra guacamole.

I’ll let myself off the hook as often as necessary, because I know that each day I’m becoming stronger and more health-conscious, while truly enjoying each meal and each workout along the way.

Another thing I’ve learned: the better you can cook, the easier healthy eating becomes.

My vegan cookbooks are now covered in stains, rips and creases. This lovely wear and tear is a daily reminder of how far I’ve come. These cookbooks have become some of my best friends and lifesavers on my adventure to a cleaner diet. There is far more to a vegan diet than salads, and thank God for that. With these cookbooks, I get to try new things every day.

Another proud accomplishment of 2013: when I’m at the gym, I no longer look at the clock. Instead of stopwatches and repetitions, I’m focusing on fun and strength.

Now, when I wake up, instead of groaning all the way to the treadmill, I go swimming, or I run outside, or I turn on Beyonce and whip out my kettle bell, whatever feels right.

And if I wake up with a headache and want to watch “Legally Blonde” on the couch, I do that instead.

Changing your lifestyle overnight is for amateurs. Waking up one day and deciding you’ll never eat carbs again is unrealistic (and harsh). If meeting your goals becomes a chore, you’ll eventually stop doing it (and then, you’ll feel even worse about yourself).

If you want to create lasting change, be easier on yourself.

Instead of cutting things out of your life and punishing yourself every time you “fall off the wagon”, just make some space for new things.

Focus on adding healthy practices into your life and educating yourself, and before you realize it, the unhealthy stuff will have fallen away.

We’re all stronger and more motivated than we give ourselves credit for. Let’s all stop beating ourselves up, and find better ways to meet our goals.

How do you reach your goals? Do you get better results when you harness your powers of discipline? Or do you prefer to go easy on yourself? Share your story!

Photo Credit: Steven Depolo

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