I have been thinking a lot in the past few days about what makes people truly make changes in their lives, specifically concerning diet and health. We have all been in situations where we want to make a change, we might even have the intention to make a change, but we just….don’t. I’ve spoken at length with two friends in the past month about changes that they want to make to their diets – one is trying to lose weight, frustrated that nothing has worked for her; the other is trying to eliminate a common allergen (dairy) from her diet. I’ve talked to both of these women about the why and the how – my opinions on how to lose weight (focus on whole foods, fruits and vegetables) and how you can successfully and feasibly cut out dairy. And I see both women struggle with the ability to make these changes. They’re strong, smart, beautiful people, but the change just isn’t coming.
This situation frustrates me for a few reasons. First, I want to help my friends. I want them to be happier and healthier. I believe that health brings us so much happiness and makes room for so much goodness in our lives. Second, I just want them to be able to do it. And I don’t know how to help them stick to these changes. I know that I was able to make changes, transform the way I ate, and willingly eliminate animal products from my diet through slow change and educating myself. But I’m not sure how to leverage that experience to help others.
And then….I feel bad that I’m frustrated. Because it means that I assume I know what’s best for these people. A certain diet worked for me, so I assume it will work for everyone. I think that eliminating dairy is good for your health, so I assume that everyone should share my belief. I want to be able to help others without simply expecting them to adhere to all of my beliefs. I feel guilty that I think I’m so right about these things.
But I still want to know what makes us change. What makes us wake up one day, make a commitment to changing our lives, and actually stick with it? I think that so many people see setbacks as reasons to give up – we “cheat” on our diet, so we just give up. We eat a piece of cheese one day, so we assume we’ll never be able to eat dairy free. We aren’t forgiving – we aren’t seeking slow, staying change.
I wish I could figure this out. I want to help people make positive changes in their lives. And I dont wan’t to do this for selfish reasons. It frustrates me that I do not have the tools to help people make these changes. Does this mean I should be a nutritionist? Is that the right path for me? Who knows. But the fact that I keep mulling over these ideas for days – that makes me hopeful. Because it means that there’s something igniting a fire inside me. And I just need to listen to it, and nurture it, and I’ll figure out where it wants me to go.