I had one month under my belt, YAHOO! That felt like a phenomenal accomplishment, and I was well on my way toward the lifestyle that I deeply desired. My confidence in myself, and my new lifestyle skills, was growing.
I didn't see the first month as a restrictive thirty days, but rather as an experiment. I knew that I would succeed at times, and fail at others. In those moments of failure, I chose to learn from them and offer grace for the journey. I was learning how to live in my highest health and vitality by exploring a plant-based path.
What I realized in my second month was that mindset was going to be a huge part of this journey. I was really enjoying this new sense of curiosity, open-heartedness, and fun while I was discovering new cuisines, new foods, and new flavors. I chose to focus on the positives, most importantly the things that I was adding to my plate. My food had never been so colorful!
My sense of vitality was starting to come back and I knew that I was ready to tackle the next food category. I believed in myself, but more importantly I believed deeply in my WHY for not wanting to include chicken and other meat in my diet.
I took much the same approach with this category as I did with the last - red meat. I avoided the meat counter at the market and instead learned to cook with beans and legumes again. If I felt like I needed chicken a few times a week, that was okay. When I was out to eat, I had fun exploring my vegetarian options and fell in love with falafel, roasted mushrooms, and power bowls loaded with colorful ingredients.
This experiment lasted several weeks because I wanted to be sure that I was excited about what I was running TOWARD, instead of being inspired by what I was running FROM. I was really keen to get more plants onto my plate, but I also wanted to remove the meat at this stage.
Instead of focusing on what I had just recently learned from the countless documentaries I had watched, like Earthlings, Dominion, or Food, Inc. I focused on the nutrients and positive things that my body was getting when I chose plants over animals.
This journey was very much about health for me, but it was also about animal welfare and the industry's impact on the planet. Movies like What the Health were helpful for me in understanding why I felt so compelled to stay the course. It helped to refuel the journey, just like stopping for gas on a road trip.
Once I was refueled, I was nearly pescatarian, if you want to give it a label. Just like the first two phases, I didn't move onto the next one until I felt like the phase I was in was fully complete - meaning that I wasn't purchasing these ingredients at the market, wasn't ordering them from a menu, and was no longer craving them.
This last part was key - you NEED to give your gut bacteria time to turn over. Only then will your body start to help you choose the right foods. And actually, you might notice that it becomes less of an active choice, and simply an innate preference. You essentially lose your taste for these other foods once the bacteria that eat the food die off.
So much power is housed in our GI, and when we keep that community happy with the food that's best for how it wants to run, the health and vitality that can be experienced is pretty phenomenal. We just have to give our bodies a chance to show us how we can heal. More on this another time ;)