Last updated on June 21st, 2012 at 09:10 pm
Last year my best friend and I decided to challenge ourselves to eating “raw” during Lent.
We’re not practicing Christians, just two girls who want to continue to make healthier eating choices and who like to play fun games. Lent seems like the perfect time to shift habits, so we jumped on board.
Eating “raw” means eating a 100% vegan, plant-based diet, and not heating any foods above 108 degrees. Basically it means we will not be eating anything that has been cooked or processed for six weeks!
When we prepare raw meals, we joke that it is “uncooking.” You can still be surprisingly creative – last year, Steph and I perfected recipes for zucchini fettucini with pesto; “spaghetti” and “nutballs,” Thai cucumber noodles with almond sauce, raw ginger cookies and other fun recipes.
We gained a lot of inspiration from various Websites out there that features recipes and strategies; some favorites include Raw Divas, Rawmazing and the Website of Mimi Kirk, who was voted PETA’s sexiest vegetarian over 50 when she was over 70.
At 73, she is a sexy, glamourous, blond bombshell of a grandmother who eats raw vegan and teaches others how to practice this radically healthy lifestyle choice.
Steph and I joke about starting up a raw TV station, billing ourselves as “RawGrrls” or something else fun… Our theme song for the whole adventure is “Don’t Cha” by the Pussycat Dolls which features the line, “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was RAW like me…”
The thing is, changing our eating habits to adopt healthier practices can feel challenging! Raw Lent means not only zero processed food, which I am happy about! It also means NO cooked food.
No baked goods, no bread, no pasta, no stir-fries. No eggs or black beans or lentils, or some of the other staples that I count on for protein in my vegetarian diet.
Can you imagine eating no cooked food for six weeks?
I won’t lie and say that it’s effortless. It can be challenging, and does require some time and preparation.
That’s why we make it silly and fun. It becomes an adventure. And, it’s a shared adventure, which makes it so much easier.
World’s Best Best Friend!
I am clear that I have the world’s best best friend, and I’m reminded of this as we prepare to launch “Raw Lent.” I’ve been traveling so much lately, with my recent trips to Florida, London and Hawaii, that I had neglected to prepare for the upcoming culinary adventures.
I have barely finished unpacking, catching up with laundry, and opening mail, and just hadn’t had time to think through the strategy for how to make Raw Lent work best for us.
Luckily, Stephanie was on top of it. She has it down to a science, in fact. She’s prepared a schedule and menu plan. We’ll start with a smoothie in the mornings, have a big salad for lunch, and choose from some creative raw dinner menu options in the evenings.
She’s even been out shopping already to pick up some “superfoods” like maca and chia to put in our shakes, smoothies and puddings. This of course just reinforced for me that I do in fact have the world’s best best friend!
Let’s Get It Started In Here!
It also reinforces for me the fact that it’s easier to shift to healthier habits when we partner up with someone. Making a date to go to the gym with a friend as a work-out partner, or working out with your partner or spouse, can make it easier to get your butt to the gym, since you know that someone else is counting on you to show up for them.
I think it’s just easier, in general, to change our habits when we create a support system to help hold us accountable, and to cheer us on. It’s part of the reason that I’ve created my upcoming Goddess adventure, the 100-Day Extraordinary Woman Challenge, so that a posse of “Goddesses” can cheer each other on as we each commit to working on goals and making positive shifts in our lives.
Each woman will be challenged to select either a series of “30-day-wins” (three different goals or habits) to make multiple positive shifts, or to settle on one big “100-day-win” and to focus on making progress on that goal over the journey together with the support of the group.
6 Happy Ways to Switch to Healthier Habits
After many years of studying self-help and personal development books and strategies, here is what I’ve gathered about what works for me (and my clients!) to make it easier to shift to healthier habits.
1. Start small.
So often, when people want to change habits, they decide to try to change everything all at once. Thus, the New Year’s Resolutions that people sometimes make (and that I’ve made in the past!), which can look like this: 1) exercise five days a week!) 2) drink 10 glasses of water a day! 3) lose 10 pounds! 4) no more coffee! 5) 8+ hours of sleep! 6) go dancing once a week. etc. etc. etc.
The problem is that when we try to change everything at once, more often than not we end up simply frustrated with ourselves because it’s just too much to incorporate into our busy lives all at once. Most people at this point give up on all their new habits, vs. trying to simply change just one thing at a time, which has proven to be more effective in countless research studies.
2. Team up with a friend.
I don’t know how I’d possibly manage to pull off my Raw Lent adventures without Steph’s support, help and culinary creativity! You may think to yourself that I’m just lucky to have a best friend who’s a talented chef.
That is true!
Yet I’m sure most of us also have some friends who are dedicated to fitness, or healthy eating, or other habits. Partner up with someone else who has a passion for what you are doing, or who has been itching to make a change in the same area of their lives too.
You could also join www.100extraordinarydays.com to team up with a whole posse of Goddesses and be supported in making change!
3. Repeat a new habit for 21-days to make it stick!
You may have read before that it takes 21-days to make or break a habit. If you can stick with your new pattern for three weeks, it is generally enough for it to start to feel natural, so that you can incorporate it more readily into your lifestyle.
The same is true of breaking habits, although research also suggests that if you’re trying to break a habit (for example, to stop drinking coffee) it helps to replace it with another positive habit, vs. simply feeling deprived.
4. If that feels too “big,” start with some “Four-Day Wins.”
Life coach and author Martha Beck recommends making progress on our goals by taking “turtle steps” and creating “Four-Day Wins.”
Just as in the fable about the tortoise and hare when the tortoise wins the race by taking slow but steady steps, Beck suggests that we can get in motion on living our dreams by taking baby steps every day for four days, and then coming up with a way to reward ourselves for the progress.
We’ll feel good about moving forward, and more likely be inspired to stay in motion on the goals and dreams. So create some four-day wins if 21 days still feels too daunting!
5. Remind yourself WHY you’re doing it.
It can help to create a positive vision for what we want at the outset, and to remind ourselves of this frequently.
For example, I am eating raw for Lent because I want to feel and look healthy and vibrant, with clear skin and a happy, trim, healthy body. They say the “Standard American Diet” (SAD) is responsible for 60% of disease.
I want to eat in a way that is good for me and good for the planet! Write down a positive vision for why you are doing what you’re doing and remind yourself often.
6. Reward yourself for progress.
Do something nice for yourself when you’ve made it through the 21 days.
Sometimes we forget to honor ourselves for making positive changes in our lives, and those changes are more likely to stick when we celebrate and acknowledge what we’ve done and created.
Jump On Board!
Join us for the RawLent adventures if you’re feeling brave! Or come on-board for the 100-Day Extraordinary Woman Challenge and make positive shifts while supported by a posse of Goddesses.
To your health and happiness!
Lisa Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on the Madam President Project or watch her TEDx speech on YouTube.
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