A Challenge, A Change in Diet, or Something More?

Over the past weekend I decided to challenge myself and attempt to go one whole week without meat, eating only fruits and vegetables, just to see if I could.

While I’d be kidding myself if I were to deny that I’ve caught cravings to end the challenge and prepare a hot, juicy burger for myself, or even something sweet for dessert,   far so good, and I haven’t  deviated from my goal.

While shopping for groceries the other day, I noticed something that I had not always paid a lot of attention to in the past when I have shopped for other foods as well as fruits and veggies.

This time however, because I was only looking for fruits and vegetables, I noticed how little there were available in relation to other foods that were sugary, fatty, or processed.

Although I do try to make healthier choices and maintain a balanced diet, I do still consume some of those foods.

Because of this, I found myself having an internal struggle as I navigated past the pound cake to the cabbage, around the pastries to the broccoli, and on and on throughout my time in the store. I felt challenged at every turn, almost literally at every turn.

But still, I did not give in. I did not quit.

[Caption: There’s supposed to be a picture of sweets here, but I left it out to avoid distracting myself. Enjoy this lovely picture instead!]

But it’s not just about the food…

After thinking about this for a while, the thought occurred to me that perhaps the example of the struggle I experienced (which may sound serious to some, and severely comical for others) while it was about the groceries, doesn’t have to end at the groceries, but can extend to our various paths in life as well.

Sure, I’m still working toward reaching the goal I’ve set in terms of sticking to fruits and veggies this week, but the act of being confronted with the sweets, the meat and the other foods I’ve enjoyed and still enjoy while trying to stay true to that goal consistently places me in a position to make choices; to choose or not to choose again and again, tipping the scales of progress in either direction.

I think it is this process, the process of having to make  choices over and over again that is so connecting and translatable to the many other challenges we might face in life.

I challenged myself to change my eating habits to test my own limits, and to take conscious steps to becoming more healthy. So far, remembering why I’m doing this has helped me to work through the challenges and stay true to my goal.

My hope for myself is that I can remember this lesson I learned in the grocery store while navigating through the other challenges in life, and that these words serve to help you in some way as well. For me, I would say that remembering why we’re doing what we’re doing in the first place can take us a long way towards ensuring our actions are consistent to our goals.

Can you relate?

Grace & Peace,

From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW



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Written by

I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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8 Responses

  1. Love this! And this is very great advice. I lost sight of remembering why I wanted to pursue even more education and it through me off a little. Now when i continue I will remember the “why” and let that motivate me.

  2. Love this! And it is very true…remembering the “why” definitely helps in pursue your goals. I struggled with this while pursuing my Master’s and not remembering gave me doubts at time…but as I go on I will definitely keep this concept in mind, great post!

    • Thank you so much for reading and for your thoughtful response. I definitely think remembering the “why” behind our actions are important. I think the conflict you described is very timely, and I’ll be asking myself some important questions as well as I contemplate my next steps in my educational process in the near future.

  3. Yes, Relando, I can relate to this experience!!! I have been struggling with food for my whole life and it doesn’t get any easier. I am in school working toward my certification to be an alcohol and substance abuse counselor. I remind myself all the time that I have to “choose recovery” when it comes to my food choices, or else, how can I help my clients “choose recovery”? Yesterday, was the first day at the gym. i cleaned out my refrigerator and cupboards of “bad” foods and vowed that I would stop eating fast foods. When those cravings come, or when I am short on time and want to get something quick to eat, I will remind myself why I want to get healthy (“choose recovery”). Not just for myself, but to be the best counselor I can be. Thanks for this post. It came at a great time in my life. :)

    • Hey LovEternal! It’s so great to hear from you! I’m glad that you can relate, and in thinking about the work you do in terms of “choosing recovery” and helping others to do the same, I can definitely see how this post can show some parallels to your great work!

      In terms of the food can also relate to having those cravings!! I’m so glad that you’re taking steps towards eating healthy and exercising regularly. I’m trying to do the same myself. I was just talking with a neighbor the other day who is now working with a trainer, and he shared with me that he’s been told that the majority of the progress we might ever hope to make rests within our diet. If we can check some of the things that we eat, We’re likely to see more progress. Of course exercising is also very important, but I’ve even noticed changes in energy after switching up a few things in my diet.

      I’m really glad that this post came to you at a great time in your life, and I’m also glad that you stopped by to share your thoughts!

  4. drlumas says:

    What up Relando,

    I can relate. It seems like you’ve committed to action for a decision you made some time ago. Is that right? Is that you decided some time ago that you would eat healthier and at some point that would look like reducing the amount of meat in your diet? And that it took some time to act on that decision?

    If that is the case, then yes I can relate in many areas of my life. So my questions to you are:
    What/who initially brought you to that decision?
    What/who brought you to the point of action on that decision?

    • Thanks for stopping by Lumas.

      I could write an entire post, even a series of posts on those two questions alone!

      Thank you for asking them, and I think i’ll use my answers to those questions in future posts, as thinking about them causes me to make connections that span even further than this one week experience I’m trying currently.

      “What/Who initially brought you to that decision? What/Who brought you to the point of action on that decision?”

      I’m telling you, those questions cause me to think about a variety of changes and events that have been catalysts for change in my life.

      In terms of this particular thought process and action that I’m taking, the answers to those questions are intertwined. There are a variety of reasons, but the most notable is taking a look at my family history and connections to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart issues, and a variety of other conditions that have been linked to poor diet and a relatively sedentary lifestyle caused me to think deeply and want to make changes for myself and my quality of life now and into the future..

      This realization, combined with increasing my own knowledge of health & fitness, and having a supportive partner who is invested in doing the same thing help to keep me focused.

      However, although the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, my journey with this, just like my journeys in other areas of my life look more like a winding road. There are straight-aways, but there are also twists & turns. I continue to be a work in progress..

      I also want to add that moderated comments are typically for first time users. Should you ever decide to comment again, it should show up right away. Thanks for reading & sharing.

  5. AngelaM says:

    Hey Relando!

    I’m so proud of you for taking the step to becoming a healthier you! I know how difficult it can be to choose healthier options at the grocery store or even while dining out. I am on a health consciousness journey. I recently have been transitioning into a gluten-free, raw food vegan (that’s a mouthful!). The gluten-free part is the hardest because there is gluten in dang near everything (even some makeup products). Vegan isn’t so bad (no animal products or by-products including dairy). Raw food is just that – raw fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, basically food which is uncooked and unprocessed. I am so fascinated with the raw food lifestyle and learning about health.

    It’s not totally people’s fault why they have a hard time choosing healthier food opposed to junk. The food industry has us so addicted to sugar (http://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver.html [watch the whole video or scroll to the 12 min mark]) that its just as bad as crack (Christine Northrup – movie: Hungry for Change). Have you ever seen a person that is told they can’t have cake or pop? They have a total meltdown. That’s the addiction to sugar. So the food industry puts an overload of sugar in everything. If you look at a food label and it says “Sugar 4g” that equals roughly 1 teaspoon of sugar. If there are 16g of sugar on the label, then that’s 4 teaspoons of sugar AND times that by the amount of servings. That’s a lot of sugar! And its only for that particular food/drink item. What are you going to eat for the rest of the day? Week? And people wonder why our country has a problem with obesity and disease. (Link to negative effects of sugar on the body http://www.naturalnews.com/022692.html). (Sorry I couldn’t hyperlink!)

    On a positive note, once you detox your body you have far less cravings (among many other amazing benefits) than you previously had. I also did a 7 day juice detox and felt wonderful afterward. I bought raw, organic fruit and veggies from the farmers market and juiced them at home following the guidelines of Jason Vale’s book 7lbs in 7 days. Everyone always asks how I have the willpower or why I want to undergo such a change in my life. It is simple – knowledge. Once you do the research and become aware of what you are putting in and on your body you can’t help but to want to change. You can’t turn a blind eye to the truth. When you know better you do better.

    I hope to inspire everyone to at the very least THINK about what you are eating before you eat it. If you can’t pronounce it or have no idea what it is or the shelf life is longer than your life, why put it into your body? I hope you continue to add more fruits and veggies in your diet – your body will thank you. Good luck!

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