With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, there’s no better time to start thinking about goals and New Year’s resolutions related to healthy whole foods plant-based eating. What do we want to do differently next year? How do we want to support our diet and well-being? The New Year is an ideal time to be asking these questions, to turn inward and reflect. A fresh year is a fresh start, but what how can we structure our New Year’s resolutions so we maximize our chances of keeping them over the long haul?
A whole foods, plant-based diet is not is a quick fix. We want to stack the odds in our favor so we can go the distance with our New Year’s resolutions. What distinguishes those who can maintain motivation in the face of life’s challenges and curve balls? Let’s take a quick look at what science has to say about the topic and use that as a basis for turning resolutions into solid habits.
It’s All in Your Head: Three Types of Resistance
Psychology tells us that there are three main sources, or types, of resistance to tasks. One type that we’ve all experienced is resistance to doing something we feel forced to do. For children, think homework. For adults, of course, think doing your taxes.
The antidote is to empower ourselves by fully owning our dietary and lifestyle choices, remembering that we are the authorities in our lives and that we are choosing a healthy, whole-foods path because we want to feel better. It’s that simple. We’re actively pursuing what we most deeply want, and it can be motivating to keep that in mind.
Post self-empowerment affirmations, such as “I choose to eat healthily,” or “I am responsible for my wellbeing,” where you can easily see them, especially in the kitchen, bathroom, and dining areas.
A second source of resistance boils down to a lack of confidence in our ability to succeed. This occurs when we feel overwhelmed by the changes required of us and are plagued by a sense of discouragement or despair, believing deep down that we’ll ultimately fail.
Bolster your self-confidence and sense of efficacy through journaling and the many other creative and helpful self-care resources that are available to us these days such as:
- Journaling – check out Penzu, Journalate or one of the many other great free online journaling tools.
- Affirmations – visit bestselling author Louise Hay’s site for daily affirmations or Free Affirmations.
- Visualizations – check out the classic, pioneering bestseller, Creative Visualization, by Shakti Gawain. It’s available in book, audiobook and workbook formats.
- Therapy – Probably the best way to find a good therapist is through a personal referral, but Psychology Today magazine also has an online directory which allows searches by specialty.
Get support from a Meetup group, online or in-person support group, club, or get together with close friends. Find some way of exchanging support and encouragement with others pursuing similar goals. Keeping your New Year’s resolutions, as they say, is an “inside job,” but you don’t have to do it alone. Connection with others can often make the difference between success and struggle.
The third type of resistance occurs when we’re faced with tasks that are out of alignment with our values. Since most people drawn to a vegan lifestyle are oriented toward health, this type of resistance is less likely. But in case you’re experiencing some degree of internal conflict, here’s a way to deal with that.
Take time to identify what values are behind your whole foods, plant-based intentions through journaling or talking with a friend or therapist. These values could be related to anything you hold dear, such as natural healing, longevity, the environment or animal rights, for instance. By identifying these values, you can overcome any resistance arising from conflicting values, for instance, such as valuing your cultural food traditions, which may not be vegan.
Spend Your Willpower Wisely
If resistance is one side of the motivation coin, willpower is the other. Some scientists believe that willpower is a “limited resource,” meaning that we have a finite amount of it, and once past the threshold of our reserve, our ability to exercise willpower becomes considerably more difficult.
Make plant-based eating your top priority. Use your willpower to fuel your whole-foods, plant-based dietary resolutions, and put other worthwhile goals, such as training for a marathon, meditating every morning, or keeping your home tidier, on hold for the time being. The key here is to be mindful of overloading your system by attempting too many new habits at once. If plant-based eating is important, focus on that until your new eating habits are well established.
Good luck! I hope these tips have been helpful and lead you down a path of health and happiness in the New Year.