On December 23, 2013, around 11:37pm, I wrote the last sentence of my manuscript for The YU Book. I hit “save” for the millionth time, stood up from my chair, shuffled downstairs and did the only thing that felt right at the moment—make a hot cocoa. I climbed back up the stairs with my favorite yellow teacup in hand, and instead of sitting back in my desk chair like I had been routinely doing since July, I just sat on the floor, feeling a welcome lightness fill my body. I took a conscious deep breath that reached all the way to my toes. Then another.
I did it.
I wrote a book for YU.
I spent Christmas Eve day doing a long overdue (like months overdue) super clean of my home, you probably know the kind I mean. Where you move everything, dust everything, wipe everything, vacuum everything, organize everything inside and out. By the early evening, all the “everythings” that had been put on hold for too long, were sorted out. Ah, more lightness.
I had set a goal: finish the manuscript before Christmas. And I did. But…
… Many times while writing, it didn’t seem remotely possible that I would ever finish. I had effortless days and also stretches where I felt like I was walking through mud. Up to my waist. I watched the seasons change mostly through my office window despite my best efforts to get outside as much as possible. I had people who needed things from me and I just couldn’t deliver, but I only indulged in being hard on myself about it for a little while. Because in my heart, I knew that I was doing my absolute best and feeling guilty wouldn’t help me finish any sooner or stronger. One day at a time. One step at a time.
I had to make wrong turns like spending months working tirelessly on a particular section of the book, only when it was done to muster the courage to admit to myself that “I have to completely rewrite that. All 70+ pages.” (It happened again a month later, too. Ouch.) I had to let go and put things on hold, like posting to the blog and sharing more regularly on Facebook and in newsletters. I can’t think of many undertakings in my life where I’ve felt so excited, scared, drained, energized, vulnerable and proud all at the same time.
But here’s what I’ve learned. Anything that has the potential to make a difference—to others or to your life—is going to be uncomfortable. It’s because what you’re doing matters.
If you’re new to this site, you probably want to lose weight, get in shape, sleep better, improve skin, prevent disease, heal digestive issues or you want to continue eating delicious food even though you have a allergies/sensitivities, Celiac disease or reasons for avoiding meat and dairy. All are great reasons for considering a plant-based diet—it can do all of that and more for you. But I want to clarify, when I use the term “diet,” I mean what we eat for a lifetime. Not the conventional idea of eating a particular way for a limited time where by the end of it you resent the diet and feel like a failure. If we’re honest with ourselves, diets don’t work and we know it.
Going plant-powerful is a lifestyle change. So if you’re serious about feeling healthier and happier than you ever have, make your resolution to never diet again.
Make a commitment to begin a wellness adventure that will last a lifetime. And know that like any great adventure, it includes wrong turns, detours and unexpected obstacles—it’s all part of a memorable journey. Instead of using these challenges as an excuse to quit, respect them as the lessons that can help you forge ahead smarter each time.
This is how resolutions stick. Before you begin, if you understand that mistakes will be made, momentum will wax and wane, and if you just take one step at a time, eventually you’ll arrive at your goal. Change won’t happen overnight. It takes time.
I can’t tell you that it’s going to be easy, but I can tell you that it’s going to be worth it. If you want sustainable health (not just losing 10 lbs only to put it back on and then some in March), you have to do more than set a goal. You have to change your mindset. You have to prioritize. You have to address unhealthful routines (pick up the The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg to help you reach beyond willpower to change habits). You have to let go of the cultural sham that quick, easy and convenient makes our lives better. That’s a lie marketers tell us, that we in turn tell ourselves. In a nutshell, you have to be accountable for your health in order to change it. Again, take those baby steps.
Instead of turning your entire routine upside down on January 1, do something small. One thing. Add one green smoothie or one new plant-based recipe to your existing weekly routine. Instead of focusing on what to take away, add more good stuff in and eventually, the bad stuff (habits, foods), including excess weight, will drop off. Get used to one new change at a time until it’s routine. THEN, and only then, add a new change goal. Repeat. If you derail, or lose momentum. Feel it. Let it happen. It will pass. Momentum is like a muscle, it needs rest. Then you can dust the cookie crumbs off your chest and get back on track. Be kind to yourself. Making mistakes means that you’re trying. One change at a time builds a new lifestyle.
Shoot for a resolution that will make you feel good. Not sure if it’s the right one? Ask yourself, “in two months, if I hit a wall, would I feel relieved or disappointed if that goal was removed from my life?” If it’s the latter, it’s a good choice. It matters.
Now, I want to know, what’s one small thing you’d like to change? How can I help YU achieve it? Tell me with a comment below.
Here’s to 2014 loves, I think it’s going to be a great year for us!
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