I think that most of us genuinely want to become our favorite selves. We are willing to seek change and to do the work to grow. We strive to find balance and actively look for ways to achieve all our heart desires. We want to fulfill our dreams.
The only problem is that we frequently have no idea how to do it.
We try, though. Boy, do we try. We decide we want to release some weight, and we think we’ll try out keto. Someone at the office tried it, and it worked great for them. However, when we attempt, it doesn’t work out in the way we expected. We aren’t sure what we did wrong, but we feel we have to be the problem. It worked for so many others that the failure must be in us. We feel discouraged by our own perceived lack of willpower and self-discipline. Frustrated, we give up and think we’ll give it a shot again next year. Maybe try out whatever it is Adele has been doing. We aren’t sure exactly how it works, but we think she looks great.
Perhaps our considerations are different. It could be a matter of ethics. We are uncomfortable with factory farming and want to help the planet, so with all enthusiasm, we embark upon a lifetime plan to eat a strict vegan diet. There are parts of it we love, but dining out has become more complicated, and the kids complain daily. More sugar may have sneaked into our diet. Portobello burgers aren’t the same experience. Okay, maybe this isn’t working as well as we first thought.
It is entirely possible to thrive on a vegan diet. Many people do. I applaud them because there are many beautiful things about eating a vegan diet. That said, I do not believe that every person on the planet needs to eat in the exact same way. We are individuals. Your body, goals, and lifestyle are unique to you. I believe that we each must find a way of eating that works for us as individual beings.
I do not believe that we are lazy and lacking willpower. We are willing, eager even, to grow and change. We are actively trying to create a life of health and balance for ourselves. I suspect that a great deal of our struggle comes from being too hard on ourselves. We want to do it “perfectly” or not at all. We begin with all good intentions and burn ourselves out by not giving ourselves grace or time to learn and listen to our own bodies.
Please, continue to try things. That is good, but it is also good to give yourself the freedom to let them go. If strict veganism isn’t working for you and your family, what would work? How can you honor your values and keep your sanity?
Instead of making repeated lifetime commitments, I suggest that you try it for thirty days and see how you feel. Thirty days. After the time is up, you can evaluate how you feel and where you are. You may find that you are thrilled to be living a life that reflects your values, but you cannot go all-in at this time. You may find it easier to adapt to a vegetarian lifestyle than a vegan one, or maybe you simply need to start with meatless Mondays and work your way up. We tend to begin with the most exacting version of where we want to be, but sometimes it is easier to take small steps to our goals rather than jumping directly into the deep end.
You tried keto for thirty days but found it wasn’t exactly what you are looking for right now. You also found that your energy is up, your bloating is gone, and your afternoon fatigue has disappeared. You love all of that and want to keep that feeling, but you are also pretty sure you can’t live without potatoes for the rest of your life. These are all things worth noting. You have learned something about what works for you and what doesn’t.
You can try adjusting the plan. Maybe your body does like fewer carbs, or perhaps the lack of refined sugar or gluten, in particular, has made you feel better. Take another thirty days and find out. You can add or subtract until you find the balance that feels right for you.
You can get there thirty days at a time. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and you aren’t required to make a lifetime promise. Take a deep breath, remember to be kind to yourself, and give yourself a month. You can find what works for your body. I believe in you.