The vegan experiment ended last week, and the results have been pleasantly surprising. As I mentioned, I lost a little bit of weight (around 5 pounds), people have been complimenting me on my skin (the only change was the diet), and I feel really good. Even though the experiment is officially over, I have decided to continue with my modified vegan diet. I will continue to forego eggs and dairy, and I will stick with green tea for my caffeine, unless it’s a weekend. Then I might go for something a that’s a bit more of a treat, like a soy mocha or chai. I feel rested, have good energy, and see no reason to give any of that up. All in all, the experiment was a success.
The Transtheoretical Model is a useful tool for understanding change and what makes humans change. According to the model, originally described by Dr. Prochaska and Dr. DiClemente, there are five stages a person goes through when he is making a change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. In the precontemplation stage, a person isn’t consciously thinking about changing a part of his life. In the contemplation stage, a person is thinking he should make a change (e.g., eat less sugar), but isn’t actually doing anything about it. The preparation stage finds the person eating less sugar once a month, while in the action phase the person has made a commitment to eating less sugar on a daily basis. In the maintenance phase, the person doesn’t have to think about eating less sugar- he just does it. From the maintenance phase, it is possible to relapse; however, the key is to make sure the relapse period is short, and directly after eating an entire box of cookies, the person re-establishes the commitment to eating less sugar. I just experienced the TM model with my diet change, and I can honestly say, the first week of action was the hardest for me. To make a change successfully, it is important to pick a goal that is attainable. I was not a meat eating, processed food consuming junkie who decided to go vegan; rather, I was a vegetarian with a sweet tooth. Accept that sometimes setbacks happen, and be patient with yourself when you are making positive changes to your life. It also helps to have a support system, either your spouse or friends, while you are going through change. Studies repeatedly show having overweight friends makes you more likely to gain weight (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Diet/story?id=3413751&page=1). One theory is our reference of what a healthy weight is changes subconsciously if we are spending time with people who are not at a healthy weight. This can sabotage your wellness goals. Remember: diet and exercise is a choice.
Yours in health and wellness,