Last July, I took a moment to reflect. For once, it wasn’t on my work list—but my lifestyle in general. I was approaching my 29th birthday and decided that I wanted something big to look forward to on my golden birthday in 2017.
My focus became my health. More specifically, my weight. I’ve fluctuated between sizes over the last few years, but they weren’t the sizes I should be at. So I reached out to my brother, a firefighter and overall health fanatic. He gave me his suggestions as well as information on a diet he uses himself.
That, along with a real workout routine, has allowed me to drop a few inches off and stay inspired to keep going. Now, my goal is to be as close to my ideal weight as possible by my birthday. It’s an exciting challenge.
Just keep in mind—I’m not expert on this subject. It’s only my personal journey. I’ve had professional consultation on this because I wanted to do it safely. My doctors are aware of what I’m doing and if I have questions—you best believe they’re who I’ll be following up with.
Standard Omnivore to Pescetarian
I had a funny relationship with meat. While red meat was always my preference, it wasn’t staying appealing anymore. I don’t say that from a moral perspective. Rather, I physically wasn’t feeling the best when I ate more of it. The moral perspective was just an extra reason.
So to start this change, it was the first thing I took off my list. If there are easy things to cut from your diet—why wait? Now when I attempted to become vegetarian years ago, I tried to drop everything at once and immediately failed. It had to be a gradual process.
To make it easy to handle, my rule was dropping a food category every three to five weeks. After red meat, I dropped turkey. Then it was chicken. Then it was chips (a hard one). And then cheese. That one really hurt. I’ve spent most of my life in the Midwest. We embrace that meat, cheese and potatoes life.
I also added a new item every week. During my grocery shopping, I added one item I’d never tried before. This way, it wasn’t just elimination. You still want variety in your diet!
Pescetarian to Vegetarian
By mid-October, I was down to tuna as the only meat I consumed. Not fish period—specifically tuna. I kept that in my diet until November 17th. It was that date because I had a work event and knew fish was on the menu.
November 18th marked by first day as a vegetarian. As I stretched out the process, it didn’t feel like a shock to me. Which was really important to me. Regardless of your lifestyle, the entire point is that you feel good about it—physically AND emotionally.
At the time of writing this, I’m roughly three months into the new lifestyle. I had debated how quickly I want to shift my diet further. As I’ve already been in that mindset of gradual category swapping, this year will mark my shift straight into a vegan diet.
Vegetarian to Vegan
What I’ve really appreciated about the vegan friends and coworkers I’ve spoken to is this—1) be honest about why you’re doing this, 2) don’t hate yourself for the days you slip early on and 3) don’t let others criticisms get you off track. Our diets are as personal as every other aspect of our lives. I’m not responsible for your decisions in the same way you aren’t for mine. Just keep it respectful.
I think it’s quite safe to say that the vegan discussion can be controversial. Whether it’s the option to be one in the first place or those handfuls of people who can’t accept your decision. That’s okay. Life would be boring if we all agreed on everything. ; )
I love that this journey is teaching me about so much beyond food itself. When you try something new, it gives you new perspectives on the familiar. You’re forced to leave your comfort zone and that, in turn, makes the world that much more relatable.
Exercise is also getting fun again. I’ve put on weight over the years and watching it come back off—in a safe way—it feels so good. I’m looking at the clothes I had mentally set aside as not for me. Fashion trends are more interesting to look at because my options have increased. I’ll do the occasional check-in here, but I’ll mainly focus this kind of content on my second YouTube channel.
How about you? What do you love/hate about your own food lifestyle? Is there something you’re working on eliminating from your diet? Success or failure. It’s still a great learning experience.