There’s no better time than the start of the New Year to think about goals and resolutions related to healthy whole food plant-based eating.
- What do we want to do differently?
- How do we want to support our plant-based diet?
- How do we form good habits?
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 a whole food 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 plant-based 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 information as a basis for turning resolutions into solid habits.
It’s All in Your Head: How to Overcome Resistance
Science tells us that there are three main types of resistance.
The first type of resistance is resistance to doing something that we feel forced to do. For children, this could be doing chores or homework. For adults, it could be doing your taxes or mowing the lawn.
The antidote to this type of resistance is to empower ourselves by fully owning our dietary and lifestyle choices, remembering that we are the authors of our lives and that we’re choosing a healthy, whole food path because we want to feel better—it’s that simple. We’re actively pursuing what we most deeply want, and it can help us stay motivated to keep that in mind.
Affirmations work! Write positive, uplifting affirmations such as “I choose to eat healthy” or “I am responsible for my well-being,” where you can easily see them, especially in the kitchen, bathroom, and dining areas.
A second type 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 empowerment through journaling and the many other effective self-care resources available to us these days:
- 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 check out Free Affirmations.
- Visualizations – nothing beats the classic, pioneering bestseller, Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain. It’s available as a book, audiobook and workbook.
- Counseling – Probably the best way to find a good therapist is through a personal referral, but Psychology Today magazine also has an online directory that allows you to search by specialty.
Find ways of exchanging support and encouragement with others pursuing similar goals, such as through a Meetup group, online or in-person support groups, or simply by getting together with friends. Keeping your New Year’s resolutions is an “inside job,” but you don’t have to do it alone. Connection with others can turn struggle into success.
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 motivating your whole food plant-based intentions. These values could be related to holistic 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 needing to honor your family or culture’s traditional foods, which may not be vegan. Here’s help for determining what’s most important in your life. Or, use this free values assessment tool.
Invest 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 for the New Year. Use your willpower—that precious resource—to fuel your whole food plant-based dietary resolutions. Put other worthwhile goals such as meditating every morning, or keeping your home tidier, on the back burner for the time being. The key here is to be careful not to overload your system by attempting to change too many habits at once. Plant-based eating is foundational and will support your other goals, so focus on that until your healthy new dietary routines are well established.
You’ve Got This!
Wishing you the best of success—I know you can do this! I hope these tips have been helpful and lead you down a path of health and happiness in the New Year. Let me know how it’s going in the comments section below.