It’s the first day of a new year. Like many people, I slept in this morning (unlike my amazing wife, who was up and cleaning the house at 5AM this morning). Some people, in fact, may be “sleeping it off.” At least where I live, it’s a grey, rainy, cold day today. It’s just perfect for relaxing at home (once I pitch in with some chores around my house to help my unbelievable wife), cooking and eating some “New Year’s Food,” and watching a few football games. But more importantly, it’s a great opportunity to reflect, look forward, plan for the future – and, yes, formulate a “New Year’s Resolution.” Mine – once again – is to be more organized, more disciplined, and more consistent in my day to day working towards every goal I have set for myself. Those who know me would chuckle and say, “Hmmm… that sounds familiar!” What can I say? Like the old saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed…”
But I guess that’s exactly the thought I want to share in this first-of-the-year (and first ever) “Thought of the Day” on this blog. Don’t be too afraid or too embarrassed or too frustrated to try again. Whatever it is that you want or need to accomplish – whether it’s losing weight, or getting in shape, or improving your diet, or writing a book, or starting a business – whatever it is. The only way you can guarantee defeat is if you don’t try. And sometimes, you simply have to keep plugging away at it – sometimes after many failed attempts, or over many years – before you will finally succeed.
I used to say, as far back as 25 years ago, “Some day, I’m going to become a vegetarian.” But for years I never actually took the plunge. In fact, in the late 90s and the first decade of this century, my diet got much worse than it had ever been. I started eating more meats and sweets and salty foods and fattening foods than I had ever eaten before. And before I knew it I tipped the scales at 206 lbs. – more than I had ever imagined I could weigh. Then, on September 3, 2010, I did it. I took the plunge. I started what I’m still calling my “Vegan Experiment.” And I have never looked back. I have been following a strictly plant-based diet consistently, unwaveringly, since that date. Amazingly, I don’t miss the meat, or the dairy products, or the eggs or any of the foods I just knew I could never give up.
To appreciate this, you need to understand: there was no more hardcore carnivore “back -in-the-day” than I was. A double quarter pounder with cheese and large supersized fries was just a light snack for me. I could easily eat as much or more of a large steak dinner than my 6’9” former-NBA-basketball-player employee, much to his amazement. And what’s worse, I could get away with it – sort of. I have always had a very rapid metabolism. The men in my family (including me) just don’t get fat – probably for genetic reasons, more than anything else. And I grew up as that super skinny kid who could never gain weight, no matter how hard I tried.
But as a physician and a public health professional, I knew better. I wasn’t really getting away with anything. Let’s face it: skinny people have heart attacks, too. So in September 2010, I started my “Vegan Experiment.” And it’s awesome. I LOVE the foods I eat now. My weight now hovers between 180 lbs and 185 lbs – my ideal body weight range – and I feel better than I’ve ever felt.
The point is, if a hard-core, big-appetite, bad-food-loving carnivore like me can become a vegan (although technically, I’m still calling it an “experiment” until I’ve stuck with it for at least 5 years), then I am convinced that any one of you can do anything you set your mind to. And that’s where trying again comes in. It’s New Year’s Day. Try again to stop drinking. Try again to stop using drugs. If you’re still alive today, that means you’ve been given another opportunity – and this is a wonderful time to give it another shot. Try again to become more organized. (I am!) Try again to be more adherent to the principles of your faith. Try again to be a more loving spouse; a more consistent, effective and loving parent; a more disciplined and dedicated student; a better friend. Try again to take your medication more consistently and keep your illness under better control. Whatever it is that you need or want to accomplish, but have had a hard time getting it done – go ahead! Make another New Year’s Resolution! Give it another shot! Don’t be afraid, or embarrassed, or cynical.
New Year’s Day is a wonderful day. We all get another chance to try again.