Pay Now or Pay Later: Making Lasting Changes

I’m on a semi-cleanse, nothing too restrictive, just hoping to get off sugar and processed foods, while eating more veggies, raw foods, and juicing more. I already made the commitment to my health and happiness over 9 years ago when I went vegan. So I don’t feel like I need to do a restrictive cleanse for the new year. I want to make lasting impacts on my diet and wellness that will continue on throughout my life. Did you set a new year’s resolution or goal to do the same? Or are you doing a “cleanse”? Cleanses can be great when done right. But I hope that your real plan is to continue a lifetime of health and wellness even after this cleanse is over. And you switch your diet to more whole foods like this beautiful macrobiotic plate at one of my fave restaurants Casa de Luz.

(About cleanses: Spring is really the best time to do a cleanse (winter can be hard to eat raw or juice only), but if you are ready now to jump in I recommend a 21 day detox type cleanse. If you sign up for the 21-day Vegan Kickstart with the you will get free support, menu plans, recipes and more.)

Reading over everyone’s best of 2011 blog posts, I enjoy seeing peoples’ success stories, how they conquered a disease or ailment with diet, how they lost unhealthy pounds, found a new love for exercise, stopped chasing a skinny unrealistic image of themselves, and found peace with their bodies. Over the last year I also saw people destroy their health, choosing to take pleasure in unhealthy food, stocking up the medicine cabinet and eating themselves into a grave. But that isn’t you!

That might have been the old you, but it’s not the healthier, happier you that wants to choose your health first, save billions of animal lives, and tread lightly on the planet. You are here reading my blog because you care about these issues. People often say life is too short not to enjoy it, but I think we can have it all. We can have our taste buds satisfied and have good health! But you want to make changes that last. You can either pay for it now (with diet and healthful food) or pay for it later (having your chest cut open for heart surgery). As I talked about here, my good health has been an accumulative process.

Here are a few tips on how to make lasting changes that stick.

No One Size Fits All Cleanse

Yes, we could all benefit from eating less sugar and processed foods, and eating more whole foods and veggies. Duh. But if you are wanting to do a cleanse, examine first what your goals are. Do you have a health condition, does gluten make you feel icky and bloated, do you have a digestive disorder, do you want to lose weight, do you need to cook more at home? You will want to find a cleanse that is right for you and your goals. Not everyone can do a 30 day juice fast and for some people’s conditions that wouldn’t be the best choice. So maybe commit to eating no processed food, having a green juice every day, or eating more raw food.

Think About Today, Not ForeverĀ 

I have a friend who wants to get off sugar and gluten. She said “I can do anything for a month, but I’m depressed thinking about giving this up forever.” I told her to just think about today and tomorrow. Don’t worry about the future (“forever”). Like I always say, what works for you now may not work for you next week or even next month. Just think about this moment and the healthful choices you are going to make today. Maybe you set weekly goals, like baby steps, to work up to eliminating something unhealthful all together.

Make Your Kitchen a Sacred Space

Getting yourself in the kitchen more should be your most important goal of 2012. I really don’t like using the word “should” but I just can’t help myself here. Cooking more meals at home with whole food ingredients will automatically make you healthier. Cooking may seem daunting so I suggest making your kitchen a fun place to be. Equip yourself with the best tools, grab some beautiful cookbooks, make the lightening welcoming, even paint the walls or hang photos that make you happy. Make it a place you want to spend some quality time in.

Move Your Body

Even if you don’t want to lose weight this year, exercising regularly is essential for good cardiovascular health. It’s also good for stress relief, which is a silent killer and wreaks havoc on our immune systems. Even if it’s just 30 minutes 3 times a week you will see a world a difference in your health. If you are feeling adventurous sign up for a half marathon or olympic triathlon later this year and start training for it. Then you have a training plan, which will keep you committed to your weekly exercise routine.

Keep It Simple

I talk about this in my book: each meal doesn’t have to be a gourmet cook-a-thon. Keep things simple. Learn how to make one-pot meals, spend time making one “fancy” recipe from a cookbook then serve it with simple sides. The elements of your plate should contain a grain, a protein, and a vegetable (I usually make half the plate veggies with a dark green thrown in). That could even mean a huge salad that has quinoa and chickpeas on it. When I cook for myself I keep it very simple and make big batches to eat for leftovers.

If you need help on your journey consider my 28-day online wellness program, Wellness Reboot!

What do you commit to this year regarding your health and happiness?