Earlier this week I decided to give being a vegetarian a try. No one is more surprised by this decision than me. Even today, if asked what my favorite food group is, I’d say protein! And that’s been my problem…I like meat so much that I almost always overeat it. And overeating is one of my least favorite things. Whenever that happens (which is more often than I care to admit), I’m buried by a cascade of physical discomfort, negative self-talk, and despondency. I know in the context of the world’s truly awful problems, this is beyond small but in my day-to-day life it looms large.
I’m not sure I can reconstruct the sequence of events that led me to make the decision to stop eating meat. Clearly I’ve been in search mode in regards to what would be the best overall diet for me in terms of weight loss/maintenance and health. Just a few weeks ago I was researching Whole30 where meat has a starring role though I ultimately decided not to go in that direction. But then I watched “What the Health,” a documentary on the health risks (among other things) of eating meat, dairy, and eggs. Despite the fact that the film was devoid of articulate dissenting opinions as well as any guidance regarding how to make the transition to plant-based eating, something got to me. I hadn’t realized until watching it how much I want to feel lighter, to feel that I’m eating clean, to know that I’m supporting my health and not working against it.
I’ve been amazed about how right this decision feels. There was no “I’ll start tomorrow” or “I’ll start next week.” I decided and then I was ready. I immediately began doing research and looking for recipes. Up until the last year or so I haven’t considered myself to be a cook; not only was l insecure about my kitchen skills but I never could figure out what kind of food I actually wanted to make. But when I began looking at recipes this time, particularly at Pick Up Limes – a plant-based (vegan) website – almost every recipe seemed appealing. It felt like I had come home. The only other time that I can recall having had a similar experience is when I began my Health Coach training program almost two years ago. On the very first day of opening weekend, we got to practice our nascent coaching skills with one another. Needless to say, I felt ill-equipped and nervous. (Terrified would sound overly dramatic, right?) But then it was my turn to coach a classmate for 20 minutes and it was incredible. Not only was I fully immersed in the experience but I could tell that being a coach draws upon my natural strengths in a way that I had never experienced before. I was astonished and filled with gratitude for having found something that I didn’t even know I was looking for.
Which brings me to the TV show, The Voice. The other night, Adam Levine made a comment to one of the contestants that the song he had just sung was a song that everyone wanted to hear but didn’t know that they wanted. That’s how I’m feeling right now about this decision to fundamentally change how I eat. It feels so right although until very recently, I didn’t even know I was thinking about it.
I have a lot to learn and I don’t expect my progress to be linear. But the wellness coach in me knows that the best way to proceed is by taking small, hopefully sustainable, steps, and by remaining open, curious, and positive about the results. Who knows where I’ll end up but I’m excited about the journey.