I answer as many emails and voice mails about how to stay compliant on a program of dietary excellence as I do questions about the diet itself. In spite of some of the best intentions, an intellectual understanding of the concepts we teach, and the desire to lose weight, regain health, and accomplish other important goals, staying on track seems to be challenging for many people. Why is this?
There are lots of reasons, a major one being that most of the people that most of us know do not live and eat the way we do. This means we are all faced with constant temptation to do the wrong thing. But there is a greater issue that must be addressed, which is that being successful at anything is an unnatural experience and is generally only achieved by people who are willing to work to overcome their natural tendencies, which are to avoid doing things they do not want to do.
One of the best lectures on this topic I have ever heard was given by Earl Nightingale, in which he talks about the difference between successful and unsuccessful people. According to Nightingale (and I agree with him) the difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people have formed the habit of doing things that unsuccessful people are unwilling to do. Successful people are motivated by desirable results, while unsuccessful people are motivated by pleasing methods. As it pertains to our issue, the person who succeeds in making permanent life changes with diet and exercise is motivated by achieving goals – regaining health, maintaining health, staying fit, etc., and is willing to do things that he/she does not want to do in order to achieve those goals.
What are the things that people do not want to do? Exercise when you don’t feel like it, avoid the cheese tray at a reception, order a baked potato when everyone else is eating cheese quesadillas, and throw away Halloween candy after eating only two pieces. In other words, the things that are contrary to everyone’s tendencies. Successful people do them any way in order to achieve their goals.
So, if you are one of those people who usually gives in to your desire to avoid discomfort and seek momentary pleasure instead, how can you change your ways? You have to work on yourself beyond just learning the basics of plant-based nutrition. This means self-examination, reading articles and books on self-improvement, disciplining yourself to make commitments and keep them, seeking mentors, and hanging around with people who reinforce your good habits while minimizing the time you spend with people who don’t.
This is one of the reasons why The Wellness Forum schedules so many activities in addition to our basic Wellness 101 course. We know that there is more to health than just a plant-based diet (how to choose a doctor, evaluating health information, the value of diagnostic tests, etc.) and we also know that most people need reinforcement and support in order to maintain their good habits. Just as doctors and lawyers need continuing education in order to practice for life, people who want to be healthy for life need continuing education too.
If you are not currently connected to The Wellness Forum or a group like The Wellness Forum, it may be time to form such a connection. Reinforcement of what you know is always valuable, there is always more to learn, and regular communication with people who are all heading in the same direction is important.
It’s commitment time. Are you ready to be lean, healthy and fit? If you are, ignore your tendency to delete this newsletter after reading it and go on about your day, and do something proactive instead. Call us or call someone else, but begin today creating your own success story by gathering the resources needed to consistently do the things you’d rather not do.