Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Insights After 365 Days of Veggies for Breakfast. Thoughts on Habit Formation.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you are enjoying your last day before 2016 and that your reflections on 2015 give you hope for the future.

I've got a huge smile on my face today.

I can't say that I'm surprised that I did it. 

I knew that I'd complete it after a few months had gone by, because it felt so good already.

But I'm still really psyched that this day has come.

I have eaten at least one pound of non-starchy vegetables as my first meal of the day for 365 consecutive days. Sometimes I have potato or rice with that, and sometimes I don't. It depends on what time I eat my first meal and what else is going on that day.

Sometimes it's as simple as frozen vegetables that I have microwaved. Other times it a more creative "stew" of cooked vegetables. Whatever I have time for and whatever I'm in the mood for. I'm never bored. There are endless options. A bag of baby carrots will do.

This experiment has taught me a number of things about myself. Here are the top ten things I've learned from my 365 Days of Veggies for Breakfast experience, in no particular order of importance: 

1) Healthy habits are made one day at a time. A habit is something that you do automatically that takes very little thought or energy to accomplish. Want to make something a habit? Do it every day, at roughly the same time every day. There is real power in this. It's not a bunch of b.s. There is so much science now about the power of habit and the habit cycle (cue - routine - reward). This is how you end up turning your desires into actual cravings. These days, I crave my veggies for breakfast, and that's amazing. I never have to think about what I "feel" like for breakfast. I always "feel" like eating vegetables. And that extended out into what I "feel" like eating the rest of the day as well. I want to crave exercise too, so more on that to come!

2) Habits are not negotiable. They come before everything else. Would you ever not brush your teeth for the day because you were too busy? I can now say the same for VFBs. I'm never too busy to take care of myself right. Self care is health care and I get that now at my core.

Unhealthy habits can be replaced with healthy ones. We can override our current brain wiring just by making a conscious effort to do it. My morning coffee habit of over twenty years? GONE. Replaced with a VFB habit. And I've even got a nice new herbal tea habit that I've developed this year. If you haven't done this yet, I can tell you that it is totally liberating and I feel SO. MUCH. BETTER. I know, I know, if you are a caffeine addict you can't even imagine it. But I promise it's true.

3) Simple food is good food. I used to spend a lot of my time looking at recipes and planning elaborate meals. I thought that I needed a recipe in order to make something that tasted good. Well, I've graduated! I now understand that I can whip up very simple plant based meals with what is already in my fridge, freezer and pantry. And I don't need a recipe. Creating 365 breakfasts using non-starchy vegetables, low sodium vegetable broth, herbs, and spices taught me this. And it extends to lunch and dinner. Just add beans, grains, winter squashes and/or potatoes to make a satisfying meal that keeps you full for hours on end! If you've got a tried and true sauce on hand, it's over the top yummy and can be served to even the most discriminating of guests.

4) Community is key. Surrounding yourself with like minded peeps cannot be underestimated. Hire a coach. Find a mentor. The important thing is that you be consistently reminded of what you already know you want and people who are achieving these things on a regular basis, or at least trying to! I highly recommend joining Chef AJ and John Pierre's Ultimate Weight Loss if you have found weight loss on a plant based diet elusive. This group of folks is getting amazing results and knows exactly what it takes to effectuate permanent change.

5) Dump the baggage in your life that brings you down. This could range from unhealthy eating habits to toxic people. Stress leads to overeating and destressing is the best remedy for that. There are many ways to destress--get a new job, meditate, practice yoga, hire help, exercise daily. You know what you have to do! Just do it already! This has been a transformative year for me in the destressing catogory and I cannot even begin to tell you how much this has impacted my eating for the good.

6) I can do anything if I set my mind to it. This is so cliche it's painful, but it's so damned true. If you think you can, you can. If you think you can't, you can't. Either way, you're right. Get yourself educated in the power of your own thoughts and watch your life transform before your eyes. So what's next for me? It would be so like me right now to bite off more than I can chew, so I'm trying to contain myself to adding just one new healthy daily habit in 2016. And for me, that habit must be daily yoga. It combines movement, stress release, meditation, stretching, strength training and breathing. Doing yoga daily is screaming my name! And I know it will become a beloved habit if I do it every day at roughly the same time, so I'm going for it.

7) Don't be a food snob. Frozen vegetables are just fine, thank you. If you think that eating vegetables for breakfast is something that you don't have time for, I'm going to call bullshit on you right now. Everyone has time to microwave a bag of frozen vegetables and start their day off right. I promise you, you won't regret it.

8) Starting your day in a savory way is the perfect antidote to the Standard American Diet. We have become all too used to eating dessert for breakfast. Even that bowl of oatmeal with fruit and nuts sprinkled on tastes like a decadent dessert to me now that I have been eating a shit ton of vegetables each day. So save those higher calorie but otherwise healthy foods for the treats that they are. Unless you are a world class athlete like Rip Esselstyn or Rich Roll. They can eat whatever the hell they want for breakfast and it won't pack on the pounds. But if you are a mere mortal like me, the less calories, the better, so veggies are where it's at!

9) Starting my day with veg makes me a person that is very serious about healthy eating. And that makes all of the other healthy choices that I need to make each day really easy for me to make, because I have already proven to myself that I am serious about this stuff. And I prove it to myself day after day after day.

10) Vegetables (especially when paired with starches) are VERY filling and satisfying. I don't miss anything that I used to eat at all. Don't buy into the myths that you need to worry about where you get your protein from in order to feel full for hours. This is just a bunch of b.s. Eat a potato. You'll be more full than you've been in years. And you'll regret all of those years that you feared the potato. 

I could probably go on and on about this experience, but I've hit my limit for the day! I hope that you have enjoyed following along on my veggies for breakfast journey this past year and that you will continue to cheer me on in 2016 as I continue with VFBs and add in a daily yoga practice. YOU are my peeps! Thank you for sticking with me through my plant based evolution over the past six years.

If you want to experience the freedom from food stress that is your birthright, please consider joining me today in The Ultimate Weight Loss Program. I promise you, you won't regret it.

What are your health intentions for 2016? I have found that it helps to tackle one juicy habit at a time. And announcing your intention publicly--on social media or to a friend--makes it even more likely that you will get the job done. So do it! Let your goals flag fly! Let me know what your intention is right here in the comments section. And have an amazing 2016!!!!

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