For as long as I can remember New Year’s Day has been my favorite holiday. I absolutely love the idea of everyone getting a fresh start and looking forward to the future with fresh eyes, using the wisdom of the past year and learning from their mistakes to make the coming year better.
I think it was New Year’s Eve 1999 that I began an annual personal tradition of writing down an annual list of 10 New Year’s Resolutions, which I would spend the entire year working to accomplish. I think so many people give up on these resolutions (statistically what is it…like 99%) before January ends because they expect the changes to be easy, or rather they don’t want them to be so difficult. They say, “Oh forget it. This will never work. I can’t do this.” But for me, I know that the hardest month is January. That is the month where you have all the momentum and excitement about the change you are embarking on, and inevitably you begin to feel all the disappointment and frustration (that same month) when you are confronted with the challenges and the unforeseen difficulties such a change entails.
On my 15th Anniversary of my New Year’s Resolution list I have decided to go VEGAN. After having my second child last year, and spending the last six months battling the sleep deprivation, hormones, and baby weight I am ready to begin the next stage of my personal journey…changing my eating habits.
I didn’t come to this decision lightly. After being a vegetarian for nearly 20 years, when I became pregnant with my son, the primal desire for cheeseburgers was so strong it could not be denied. I think I am still holding onto at least 10 lbs. of cheeseburger weight from that pregnancy. I ate cheeseburger after cheeseburger, no holding back. And I didn’t stop there. I even started drinking whole milk, eating chicken, and anything else I could get my hands on. My long standing diet of black coffee, stir fry, and tofu had long been forgotten and was replaced by something the documentary list in my Netflix cue warned against, I was eating like I was living in Super Size Me.
After I had my son, I lost most of the baby weight fairly quickly however breastfeeding came with its own hunger cues as did chasing a little crawling baby around. When I realized I was pregnant again, I thought, “Oh no, I am never going to lose this baby weight” but surprisingly the morning sickness I had with my daughter was so intense for the first 4-5 months I actually LOST weight being pregnant. However, the remainder of my pregnancy I really could only eat Breyer’s Vanilla Ice Cream, literally, it was the only thing I could keep in my stomach, and so I ate it, and lots and lots of it.
Once my daughter was born, I was so tired and stressed adjusting to having a newborn and toddler I couldn’t even think about changing my diet, just remembering to eat was hard enough. I finally enlisted the help of my best friend and begged her to help me, “I want to be healthy. I want to set a good example for my kids. I don’t want to be standing in the kitchen eating cookies at 3pm after drinking coffee all day! Help me!”
And so, like the wonderful best friend and woman she is, she said, “being a vegan is not hard! It’s probably one of the easiest things there is! How hard is it to just open the fridge and grab a head of lettuce and just bite it if you are hungry? Grab some carrots, an apple, a banana, and a spoonful of almond butter! This isn’t difficult! You just need to change the way you are thinking about it. You most certainly don’t need to spend half the day chopping vegetables and making a perfect salad or a green smoothie! That is so dumb. You are not Gwyneth Paltrow. You have two young, small children that require a lot of attention. You just need to make sure you are taking care of yourself, so then you can take better care of your family.”
And isn’t that it? Shouldn’t that be the reason we make changes? I chose to become a vegan because it is in line with my beliefs and values. I know that when my kids are old enough and they are able to ask me thoughtful questions like, “Why do we eat this mama?” I will be able to answer them equally as thoughtfully. Additionally, I also think being vegan and being healthy ensures that I am doing everything I can do be around as long as I can to take care of my family and the people I love.
Years ago I had a wonderful yoga teacher that always said, “If you can; you must,” throughout class. To this day, I repeat this to myself. To me it means if you know better…then be better…do better. If you can: you must.