Photo credit: Giuseppe Chirico

I am a master at justifying my bad habits.

Like when it’s 10pm and I really don’t need to be eating a bowl of coconut bliss ice cream.

Give me 30 seconds and I can convince myself that it’s been a tough week and I’ve earned this small reward — after all, there are much worse things I could be eating.

Or that it’s really no big deal because it only has 13 grams of sugar per serving.

Or that I haven’t had any sweets at all for nearly two weeks, and I had a super healthy lunch. Surely a little ice cream before bed can’t hurt.

Any of this sound familiar?

It’s amazing how, in an instant, we can talk ourselves out of our big picture goals — what we TRULY want for our lives, for a few seconds of pleasure that we’ll instantly regret.

Yes we want to lose weight, to be healthy, to look and feel our best and be an example of health for our loved ones.

But in the moment, we decide that we’d rather have the ice cream!

Instead of saying no, instead of taking a stand for our radiant health and our goal weight, we take a step in the other direction, promising to do better tomorrow.

Now, I’m a big fan of the “crowding-out” strategy.

The idea is that you focus on adding good habits and good foods to your life. These good choices eventually “crowd-out” the bad and the bad falls away on its own.

But sometimes crowding out isn’t enough. Sometimes we get stuck and it becomes clear that there is a craving or habit that is standing in our way that we must let go of.

Especially when months or years pass and we still aren’t making progress.

How can we breakthrough so that in 3 or 6 months we can look back and see how far we have come?

How can we begin to make real progress towards our goals?

At a certain point, true transformation means you have to get serious. You have to make a commitment to yourself and stick to it. You have to learn how to say no.

But what we sometimes miss is that saying no is also something that we can learn. It is something that we can practice.

If it’s time for you to take the next step to take your health, weight-loss and well-being to the next level, here’s how to get started.

1) Draw a bright line

One of the most effective ways to create change is to make a single rule and commit to it 100%. Start with a meaningful commitment, but something that doesn’t terrify you.

For example you might commit to attending a single party without eating anything with sugar, a week of eating 100% vegan, no animal products, or a month of starting each day with a green smoothie.

This is called drawing a bright line — making a clearly defined rule that comes with a 100% commitment.

Yes, we all love freedom. Believe me, the last thing I want to do is to make a 100% commitment to never enjoying my favorite chocolate treat ever again. In fact, the idea of letting go of something forever can prevent us from ever getting started (more on that on the next point.)

But drawing a bright line removes the in-the-moment decision of whether you are going to make a good choice or a bad choice. It removes that possibility of justification.

As we’ve already covered, and I’m sure you’ve seen in your own life, we are all masters at justifying the choices we make that are not in our best interest.

Trick the justifier. Get the upper hand on your psychology. Draw a bright line.

2) Set a start and end date

Bright lines work best when you set both a start date and an end date.

A start date also helps you to formalize the commitment. It allows you to prepare yourself mentally and makes it more likely that the commitment will stick.

Most of us make 100% commitments after a particularly brutal fall off the wagon, but it becomes all too easy to throw that commitment out of the window when presented with the temptation again.

Give yourself at least a couple days to let the commitment marinate. Mondays, the first of the month or the new moon are also good dates to pick.

Setting an end date, on the other hand, removes the fear that you are never going to be able to enjoy a (insert your favorite vice here) ever again.

Again, make the commitment meaningful but not terrifying. A week or a month is a good length of time to start with.

Finally, mark both the start date and the end date in your calendar. If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real.

3) Start with one thing at a time

Making big change is awesome.

I love it when people go 100% plant-based, or quit sugar cold turkey. When you make a drastic change, it doesn’t take long to experience the benefits, and getting quick results is a powerful motivator to keep you moving forward.

But making big changes that last is difficult for most of us. If your personality is better suited to making small changes or you’ve tried to make big changes before that haven’t stuck, then taking a step-by-step is the way to go.

The behavior change literature supports small steps as the more effective way to make life-changes that are sustainable.

Again it really comes down to knowing yourself and your personality, but I recommend making just one single commitment at a time.

Pick something realistic that you know you can accomplish. Engineer a win for yourself. A small success now can cascade into bigger wins down the line.

4) Eliminate decisions

Bright lines work so well because they eliminate the in-the-moment decision of will we stay on track or will we indulge?

If you haven’t drawn a bright line then every time you are faced with temptation you have to make that choice.

Do we decide to grab the candy when it’s there? Do we order the healthy option at a restaurant or the old favorite? Do we give in to that afternoon sugar craving?

Long-term success on any diet or health plan really comes down to consistently winning these small daily battles.

If you have to make this decision every time you place an order at your favorite restaurant, or every time you walk past the candy bowl at the office, it is almost guaranteed that eventually you will give in.

The amazing power of bright lines is that eventually the decision becomes automatic. Once saying no becomes habitual you no longer even consider reaching for the candy bowl.

The golden rule here is to make your decisions in advance, and eliminate as many decisions as possible.

For example, try planning your meals and snacks the day before, or deciding what you’ll order at the restaurant before you go.

5) Practice accountability

Let’s get real. Nobody wants to be held accountable, because deep down we don’t want to give up our indiscretions.

As much as I want to put my health first, I don’t want to have to give up my afternoon Miracle Tart. And when I’m sneaking my afternoon chocolate, I surely don’t want anybody looking over my shoulder!

That’s why accountability is so often talked about, but so rarely put into practice.

But in the same way that we can begin to practice saying no, we can also begin to practice accountability.

When you draw your bright line, make the commitment to mention it to someone. Make your commitment public in whatever way pushes you out of your comfort zone just a little bit.

You can ask your friend or significant other to help you keep the commitment or post it on facebook.

Just take that small step to let someone else know what you’ve committed to.

Do this now

You can get started right away. Decide on your commitment, pick a start date and an end date and mark it on your calendar.

There will never a perfect time to get started. There will always be something coming up or some excuse about why this can wait another week.

But I care most about what is best for you. Honor yourself enough to make this top priority. Care about yourself enough to set a higher standard. This is game time.

Let us know your commitment and start and end date in the comments below, and we’ll follow up and help hold you accountable.

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We have a special interview and book giveaway to share with you today.

But first we wanted to say thank you to everyone who took the time to send us travel questions and well wishes on our move! We made it safe and sound and are enjoying getting settled here in the DC area.

Next time, we’ll go behind the scenes and share all the tips and tricks we use to eat well on the road.

But for now, on to the feature du jour…

If you are at all interested in nutrition, you’ve likely heard of The China Study.

This landmark book has sold over a million copies and the New York Times called it the “most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease.”

The China Study was co-authored by legendary nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and when it was time to write the book he asked that his son Tom move back home to help out.

This supposed one year project ended up taking four years to complete, and during the process Tom developed such a passion for the subject that he went on to become a physician.

The Campbell Plan

Fast forward to the present, and the now Thomas Campbell, MD has released a new book that offers a practical follow-up based on The China Study principles.

His book The Campbell Plan explores the science behind recent dietary confusion, feeding kids as well as what to stock in your kitchen, how to read labels and shop, and what to watch for in social and eating out situations.

And of course recipes! 55 delicious and easy recipes to be exact.

You already know how nerdy I get about behavioral psychology, so I was especially excited to see that the book addresses some of the behavior change principles behind making and sustaining healthy eating habits.

If you liked this video, subscribe to our youtube channel.

Show Notes:

  • (1:35) How strong is the evidence showing the correlation between the consumption of animal products and chronic disease?
  • (5:57) Why is there so much dietary confusion and how do we navigate it?
  • (14:50) Why information alone is not enough to change our behavior, and the three most important factors that help us change.
  • (19:00) The surprising reason why making a 100% commitment is sometimes easier than making gradual changes.
  • (22:30) What Dr. Campbell thinks is the most important thing to eliminate from the Standard American Diet and why.

Enter to win a copy of The Campbell Plan

Dr. Campbell has been gracious enough to provide a copy of his book to our community, and you can enter to win!

We’ll be randomly selecting one recipient (see entry details below) and notifying the winner on Monday April 6th, 2015.

UPDATE: The giveaway has ended. Congrats to Tracy C! We’ll be in touch to send you a free copy of The Campbell Plan.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Sign up for the email list using the form below. If you are already subscribed, you do NOT have to subscribe again.
  2. Leave a comment below letting us know the following: How has your decision to eat healthy impacted your relationships with friends and family? Give an example and be specific.

*Note: Only open to residents of the Continental U.S.

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Image Attribution: Quotes Everlasting

Note: As a complement to this post, I’ve asked Regan to offer a few free 30-minute coaching sessions. I expect these to go fast, so make sure to fill out the application, asap!

Last time we talked about one way to create a breakthrough — how baby building blocks can remove the barrier to getting started and lead to significant change.

Today, we are taking a very different approach to breaking through. Hail Mary, hallelujah, let’s go big!

The year is still new and shiny, and I want to talk about how you can reach your health and weight loss goals before the next holiday season rolls around.

I recently asked what inspires you to eat more plants on your path to better health, and I LOVED reading these comments.

You have such compelling and important reasons to make these changes. Here are some of my favorites:

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 8.57.27 AM


Screen_Shot_2015-01-19_at_8_56_09_AM (1)

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These are FANTASTIC goals.

Inspire Others: We want to be around, energized and healthy for our children and grandchildren, and provide an example of good health.

Solve A Health Issue: Some of us struggle with diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol or some other chronic condition preventing us from living life to the fullest.

Look And Feel Our Best: We want to have energy and confidence for whatever life throws at us, knowing that we are looking and feeling our very best.

Now, fast forward exactly one year in your mind’s eye and imagine where you could be

A LOT of transformation can happen in a year. Think about what life will be like when you’ve met your goal.

Imagine waking up and instantly feeling at home in your body. Full of energy, you hop out of bed, ready for anything that the day throws at you.

Imagine being off your diabetes, blood pressure, or cholesterol meds. Not only do you get to say goodbye to a major monthly expense, but you no longer feel off from the side effects.

Imagine being totally happy with the way that you look. You get compliments when you go out for your walk around the neighborhood, and don’t have to shy away from pictures.

Imagine losing 20, 30, or even 100 pounds and the ease, freedom, and additional self-confidence that it would bring.

These are all completely life-changing benefits, and YES, you can make major progress in a year.

Not overnight. Not with some magic bullet or diet pill. Not without some real effort.

No, this only happens by committing to yourself, your health, your future, and making steady and consistent progress. Day in and day out.

But if you just keep at it, you can absolutely revolutionize your health and reach your goal weight (or at least make significant progress) in a year. Totally achievable.

Now let’s get honest with ourselves.

What is it REALLY going to take to reach your goal in the next year?

It’s easy to dream, but what does it actually take to get from point A to point B?

As we well know, there are quite a few pitfalls along the way. Ok, fine since you asked so nicely, I’ll share my favorite cartoon with you one more time.

Your-Plan-In-Life-Vs.-The-Universes-Plan-For-You-In-Dog-House-Diaries-Comic (1)

True for life, and especially true for health. Here are a few of the biggest roadblocks that we all face when it comes to taking charge of our health:

Time: One of the best thing we can do for our health is to prepare our meals at home, but it’s so hard to find the time amidst the demands of modern life.

Cravings and emotional eating: We all sabotage ourselves at some point. We make progress only to find ourselves thrown off track with cravings or emotional eating.

Over-complication: Instead of focusing on the big wins, we get lost in the details, overthinking and over-complicating everything. Finally we burn out.

Conflicting information: Are fats good? Bad? What about carbs? Is coconut oil saving your life or killing you?

Negative self-talk: Those little voices in our heads that tell us that we aren’t good enough, that we can’t do this, that we don’t have what it takes.

Social pressure: Your dear significant other, best friend, or mother-in-law is not exactly on your team. Then there is navigating parties, eating out, holidays, and more.

Life: Sometimes the things beyond our control have the biggest impact on our health. A stressful job, problems with relationships, having to take care of others.

Not exactly a walk in the park!

I bring this up not to discourage you, but because if this is to be the year that we change our lives, we need to step back and look at the landscape.

For this to really work, we have to embrace reality and make the necessary changes.

Maybe you are intimately familiar with the challenges you face and know where you get off track.

Maybe you are starting out and all this is completely new.

In either case, how can we overcome these barriers?  Is there a way to ensure that we will follow through — even if we have tried and failed many times before?

Making Failure Impossible

Having the right information is important. And with all the conflicting health information out there, it’s become increasingly difficult to know what to do.

But the bigger challenge always comes back to the follow through.

When we look at what is holding us back, we often know deep down that another recipe, book, or kitchen hack isn’t going to produce the monumental sea change that we are looking for.

So for this year to be different, for this to be THE transformative year, I want you to think big. How can we engineer success? How can we ensure follow through?

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Thomas Jefferson:


Note: We have a tendency to always jump to reasons why the solutions won’t work. Suspend your inner skeptic just for a minute. What if anything was possible?

Brainstorm with me for a minute. What haven’t you done that could make all the difference? What’s a “big win” that would put you well on your way to success?

Is there a barrier that you haven’t addressed? An elephant in the room that you’ve preferred not to look at?

Get creative, think big, and DON’T limit yourself just yet. You can sort through the ideas later.

Let me give you some examples:


None of these are easy. They either require a big investment, a large life change, or having the courage to look at a deep issue.

They all require you to step out of your comfort zone.

But they are all extremely powerful. In one fell swoop you could eliminate a major obstacle and be so much closer to reaching your goals.

Imagine how much easier it would be to follow through if you could come home to meals waiting for you.

Imagine what a difference it would make to have a group of friends that support your healthy choices.

How less likely would you be to cheat if you were investing in a coach or a chef. You’d know you’ve made this top priority, and would be taking it that much more seriously.

This is the difference between buying a gym membership vs investing in a personal trainer.

It might be hard to muster the willpower to go to the gym, but if you are paying for a trainer, there is no way you are ever going to miss a session.

You’ve almost guaranteed that you will follow through.

Or buying some books to read versus enrolling to get a college education. The chance that you’ll read the books and get the same education? Pretty minimal.

Enrolling in college? This is a huge life-changing investment that provides a quantum leap in your skill set.

These are the “big win” solutions that can almost guarantee a major life change.

Maybe these particular examples aren’t right for you at this point in time. We all have our constraints. Believe me, I know not everyone can hire a chef.

But there are always creative solutions to the challenges you face, and the point I’m making is that sometimes to meet your goals you have to REALLY go for it.

How can you engineer success? How can you ensure that you will follow through?

Get A Head Start With A Free 30-Minute Coaching Session

Apply for a free session with Regan
A year from now you could still be reading blogs about health and weight loss or you could be well on your way to having your life back.

You could still be dreaming of the far off day when you’re favorite jeans will fit again, when you’ll have lost enough weight to begin exercising, or go on vacation, or enjoy a day at the beach.

Or you could be free to enjoy your time with family and friends without having to worry about medications, not having enough energy, or feeling self-conscious.

Make this the year. Be willing to try the big things that you’ve never tried before, to step out of your comfort zone, and know that the solutions are always there if you just keep at it.

Unless you have some special super power, odds are your journey won’t be perfect. No matter. I have total confidence that if you just keep at it, you will arrive sooner or later.

And Regan has been kind enough to offer some of her personal time to help you get started towards your goals this year.

She is offering a limited number of free 30-minute coaching sessions.

If you are interested in some additional guidance and accountability, this is a great way to get started, put together a clear path forward,  and create some added accountability.

Space is limited and I expect these to go fast! If you are interested, go ahead and fill out the application here.

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Tiny Habits_0

Photo Credit: Karunakar Rayker

Congratulations to Heather, the winner of this week’s giveaway! We’ll be in touch to send you a copy of JL Fields’ new book Vegan Pressure Cooking.

Now that we’ve done two book giveaways in a row, I have a confession:

I can’t read!

I used to be a voracious reader, but over the last few years the time that I devote to cozying up with a good book has slowly diminished.

Looking back over the last year, I’ve hardly read anything at all!

I keep ordering interesting books and making big promises to myself, but the days just seem to get away from me.

Fortunately, I make consistent measurable progress, which you can see in the following graph:


You may have guessed by now that I didn’t actually write to you solely to lament about my literary decline.

The thing is, many of us struggle with the same issue when it comes to making progress with our health.

●We decide that it’s time to get in shape, pick out a 6-week program, but we are somehow always planning on starting the next Monday.

●We decide that this time we are going in 100%, no cheating! But one misstep and we say, “Well I messed up today, but tomorrow will be different!”

If any of this sounds familiar, don’t worry because you are not alone! We all struggle with these very human issues.

So today I’ve got an interesting strategy that I’m going to try out.

And if you’ve been struggling to make progress towards your health goals and goal weight or struggling to stay on track, I want you to try it out too.

Flossing One Tooth

Stanford Psychologist BJ Fogg has a strategy for behavior change that he calls Flossing One Tooth.

The idea is that the hardest part of behavior change is just getting started.

We imagine the entirety of the task before us (ie a whole book to read, a whole lot of weight to lose, or a complete dietary transformation) and get so overwhelmed that we can’t take that first step to actually begin.

By focusing on creating “tiny habits” we remove the psychological barrier to getting started.

And once you get started and have a success under your belt, it becomes easier and easier to build on that success.

More times than not you don’t quit after flossing one tooth. You simply provided the catalyst and created the momentum that propels you forward.

And before you know it, you’re flossing twice a day!

Create Your Tiny Habit

So, last week I set a goal for myself to read three paragraphs a day.

I can read more than that if I want, but my obligation to myself is just three paragraphs a day.

Once I reach that goal I can continue with my day, guilt free.

Right now, I want you to create a tiny habit of your own.

Think about something that you know that you should be doing or have struggled to get started with, and break it down into the smallest possible unit.

Do you want to be eating more vegetables? Commit to eating just one vegetable at every meal. Just one lettuce leaf or broccoli floret.

Working towards being plant-based? Commit to eating just one plant-based meal a week.

A tiny habit can be a small version of something bigger, like the examples above.

Or it can be a starter step, something like browsing a recipe book and bookmarking one healthy meal that looks especially appetizing.

Just make sure it’s something as easy as flossing one tooth – so easy that you are absolutely positive that you can follow through with it.

Oh, and this is important: Once you do your tiny habit, celebrate it! Fogg says that this celebration is especially important in reinforcing the habit that you are creating.

Because I’m especially nerdy, my celebration consists of giving myself a thumbs up and saying to myself, “Who da man? You da man!”

You can say something positive to yourself, do a celebratory action like a fist pump or thumbs up, or do a little happy dance. Just make sure you feel happy and recognize your success.

If you want to learn more about tiny habits, BJ has a free and simple five-day course that walks you through the process. Check it out here.

What Did You Decide On?

One of the best ways to increase your chances of following through is to create accountability through making a public commitment.

So leave a comment below and let me know what your tiny habit is. I’ll follow up with you next week.

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The Six Pillarsof Lasting Health

Photo Credit: Terence S. Jones

When I used to fall off the plant powered wagon, I would experience anguish that can only be understood by watching this hilarious youtube clip of Denver the Guilty Dog.

Oh the guilt!

And I’m not the only one.

When we take a tumble, we often say things like, “I am having so much trouble following through…I don’t know what is wrong with me.” “I feel like such a failure for not being able to stick with this way of eating.”

We think that our failure is due to the fact that we lack willpower, discipline, and motivation, and come to the conclusion that we are somehow faulty human beings!

Not only are we left with the guilt and pain of failure, but even worse is the confusion, the overwhelm, and not knowing the next step forward.

But as you know by now, my manifesto is different. It is my passionate conviction that the problem isn’t you!

Though our first instinct is to blame ourselves, there are factors that play an enormous role in determining whether or not we succeed — yet we don’t often give them the attention they deserve.

Things like social support, organization and planning, and our inner psychology.

That’s why I talk about building Lifestyle Support Systems — the habits, programs, systems, psychology and safeguards of health that help us to orient our lives our health and well-being.

Your One Key Action

Now this can be a pretty overwhelming concept,

The last thing I want is for you to read this post and decide to spend the afternoon seeing for yourself why ostriches stick their heads in the ground.

Maybe it’s super fun?

So last week I introduced the Six Pillars of Lasting Health and Successful Weight Loss and gave you a six question quiz.

Today we’ll get minutely practical and use your quiz results to identify your one big win — the single most important action you can take to move forward towards lasting health and your goal weight.

Ready to begin? If you haven’t yet, take the quiz, identify which question you scored the lowest on, and click the corresponding link below.

I scored lowest on:

  • Question 1: I know exactly what to eat to get healthy and lose weight.
  • Question 2: Healthy foods are easy to prepare and readily available.
  • Question 3: I have friends or family that support me on my journey towards better health.
  • Question 4: If I get off track I will be held accountable.
  • Question 5: I do NOT usually have self-sabotaging or negative thoughts.
  • Question 6: I know the issues that sabotage my health goals, and I am working through them.

The Six Pillars Of Lasting Health and Sustainable Weight Loss


1. The Right Food

Even if you overcome emotional eating, have the most wonderful social support network, and never go off track, you will probably not lose weight if you are on the twinkie diet.

You have to know what foods are going to help you lose weight and get healthy and which only moonlight as health foods.

And in this day and age, that’s not super easy!

There are a million different ideas and approaches, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and throw in the towel before you begin.

But interestingly enough, the research shows that following through on any program is more important and effective than finding the perfect one.

Your one key action to improve this pillar:

If you don’t know what to eat to get healthy and lose weight, the best thing to do is to try a plant-based whole foods program.

Discuss the options with a qualified medical professional, pick the program that resonates most with you, and follow it as diligently as possible. Usually the time frame is anywhere from 10 days to six weeks.

At that point, objectively step back and look at the data. Did you see improvements? Were you able to follow though? What is working? What isn’t?

The first hand experience is invaluable, and you’ll begin building the nutritional understanding that will allow you to sort through all the conflicting advice out there.

The more you learn, the more you will be able to become your own health scientist, evaluate the different approaches, and decide for yourself what works and what doesn’t.

And if you get stuck, you can make tweaks and changes and find a solution.

Need help choosing a program? Are you not getting results on your current program? These are what I have found to be the most important questions to ask:

  • Does it focus on real food?
  • Does it make veggies the focal point?
  • Does it promote eating lots of nutrient dense foods such as greens, veggies, beans, berries, and seeds?
  • Does it promote eating foods that are low in caloric density?
  • And the most important, am I likely to follow through?

The follow through is the most important! If you know the program is too strict for you and you won’t follow it, start with an easier option. Engineer a win for yourself.

When you have a win under your belt, it’s easier to fine tune things and pick a more disciplined program.

You can modify or experiment with different approaches as you learn more about nutrition and what works for you as an individual.

2. Organization and Planning

When willpower fails, it’s often because we haven’t made it easy enough on ourselves.

And so once we know what to eat, the next step is to make sure that those foods are easily and readily available!

How can you organize your life in a way that makes it as easy as humanly possible to follow through?

Your one key action to improve this pillar: Think about the one meal that is the most difficult to prepare or where you get off track. Is it breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Snack time? Dessert?

Take 5-10 minutes and make a step-by-step plan of how you will make sure you have easy access to the right foods. Here are a couple examples.

Afternoon Snack:

  • Afternoon snack is my biggest weakness. I get ravenous after lunch and end up eating junk food.
  • So I need to have snacks available in my car for my after lunch craving.
  • I’m going to identify three snacks that I can buy or make.
  • To make the snacks, I need to shop for these ingredients on Sunday.
  • To have the snacks ready, I need to prep the veggies, put them in a little cooler bag, and put them in the car before I leave for work each day.


  • I get home from work too tired to cook, so I usually end up getting fast food.
  • So I need a quick and easy way to get dinner on the table.
  • I’m going to pick one meal that I love, make a triple batch on Sunday and freeze the leftovers.
  • I’ll have leftovers on Monday and Wednesday,  use the Chipotle Method to put together something on Thursday and Saturday, and eat dinner at Whole Foods on Tuesday and Friday.

It can take some time to get your particular system figured out. If this is your biggest barrier, take some time to learn how to buy and prepare healthy foods in a quick, easy, efficient and cost effective manner.

It will get easier over time. It can also help to start with a meal plan, or you can use a resource like the Chipotle Method to learn how to put together quick and easy meals.

3. Social Support

In a study highlighted in the New York Times, the researchers found that when we have a close friend that becomes obese, we are 57% more likely to become obese ourselves.

Even more incredible is that we are 20% more likely to become obese if the friend of a friend becomes obese.

The takeaway? It’s critical, absolutely critical, that you find some friends that support your journey to optimal health.

Your one key action to improve this pillar: Find a meetup group (, a yoga class, or a local support group that you are interested in joining and sign up now.

Put it in your calendar.

If there are no groups available, reach out to one person who shares your health values. Call or email them right now and Invite them over for a meal, for a walk, or for a Sunday food prep session.

If there isn’t anyone else in rural South Dakota who cares about health, then join a facebook group or find a virtual accountability partner.

4. Accountability

If I told you that you could double your chance of success without any additional effort, would you do it?

Accountability often makes us squeamish, but adding real consequences to our goals can more than double our chances of success.

A Yale economics professor founded the website Stickk, in order to do just that. The site is an online commitment store that allows you to set a goal and add a financial incentive to ensure that you follow through.

From 2008 – 2011, the Stickk found that average success rates of 33.5% skyrocketed to 72.8% when an additional incentive was added.

Your one key action to improve this pillar: Call somebody close to you, a friend, your significant other, your son or daughter and tell them that if you haven’t set up some accountability by this time next week, you owe them $20.

Then go to, set a goal, find a referee, and put some money on the line.

You really want to make this thing happen right? Do you want a 30% chance of success or a 70% chance of success?

Think about what it will be like to succeed. How great you’ll feel. How good you’ll look. How your life will improve. Imagine all the money that you will save on medications and health care costs.

It’s worth it. Put your money where your mouth is.

5. Psychology

This may seem a bit ambiguous.

But remember Nora’s success where she overcame a lifetime of failed diets, and lost 100+ pounds?

In her story, the big shift happened when our heroine not only found the right information, but shifted her mindset.

Negative or self-sabotaging thoughts can have a huge impact on our ability to stay the course and follow through long term.

Your one key action to improve this pillar: Simply recognize when you are having a negative thought and acknowledge it.

Here are some common ones:

  • “I’m not good enough.”
  • “I’m just going to fail anyway.”
  • “I deserve this treat.”
  • “What is wrong with me, why can’t I stick to this?”

Just becoming aware of our thought patterns is the first step towards changing them. Recognize the story you tell yourself.

When you recognize the story, you can begin to rewrite it.

We are all going to have negative thoughts. We are all going to struggle. Know that the path can be difficult.

The right mindset is understanding that this is a process. Keep your focus on getting healthy, expect some ups and downs, and know that if you just keep at it you will succeed.

Progress over perfection. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down as long as you get back up. It doesn’t matter how many times you spill the milk as long as you don’t lose the cow.

6. Address Your Issues

Health isn’t just physical. Shifting from a diet mentality to a healthy lifestyle mentality is so effective for this very reason. It broadens our focus to look at the whole picture of health.

A healthy lifestyle involves physical, emotional, mental, and social health, and these are all intertwined.

That’s why Addressing Our Issues has to be included in the equation.

Fascinatingly enough, this shows up as one the biggest factors that separates people who are able to lose weight and keep it off, from those who end up yo-yoing.

In a study, 90% of the people who were able to lose weight and keep it off shared this common trait: They dealt with their problems head on.

Note: It doesn’t say that they solved their problems. Only that they were willing to deal with them head on.

We all fall off the wagon. We all have moments of self-sabotage. We all have some weird piece of ourselves working in our best interest, and some weird piece of ourselves working against it!

Whatever the issues are, we must face them. Emotional eating? Stress because of work?

There are a million different examples and possibilities, but I’d bet top dollar you aren’t scratching your head wondering what it is for you.

Your one key action to improve this pillar: Find the tiniest thing that you can do to begin to address your issue, and put it into practice.

Addressing our issues can be a daunting task, so the best way to move forward is to break it down into the smallest possible steps.

What is the first step that you can take to begin to move forward?

Do you struggle with stress? Sign up for just one meditation class, or begin meditating just three minutes a day.

Is it emotional eating? Commit to keeping a food journal for just ONE of your meals.

The most important thing here is to simply begin. Find the smallest step forward and take it!

But this is hard!

Did you skim through the article, but not take action? Most of these things are not easy to do, because they involve looking at the root of the issues that are holding us back.

It can be uncomfortable to look at your issues, pay attention to your inner psychology, put some money on the line, reach out to someone or sign up for a new class.

But I’m not here to help you be comfortable. I’m here to help you make real transformation in your life. Be brave.

I believe in you. I know you can do it. Just take that one single next step. Take the one little action to move you forward.

And let me know in the comments: What is your one key action? What are you going to do right now to move forward with your health goals?

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Photo Credit: Natasia Causse

Last time we spoke, I revealed my oddball approach to losing weight. The best way to reach your goal weight and stay there?

Stop trying to lose weight. Instead, focus on getting healthy.

Are you rolling your eyes at such an ambiguous and non-sexy statement?

Did you already start frantically googling the Top 10 Diet Tips To Lose 5 Pounds In 24 Hours?

It may sound silly, but shifting the focus from losing weight to gaining health can completely change the game.

If your interest is piqued, take a look at the previous article where I share how this very mindset shift tipped the scales for Nora, catalyzing over 100 lbs lost to date.

Because today, I want to tackle a different beast; to answer the rather large question that we’ve yet to answer.

See, deciding to get healthy is all well and good. But…what the heck does that even mean?!

What does it mean to get healthy, and more importantly how do you do it? How do you become a healthy person?

The Six Pillars of Lasting Health and Accidental Weight Loss

So what does it take to creating lasting health? To lose weight and not have it creep back on?

Do we have to exercise an hour a day? Spend the rest of our lives counting carbs and being worried about what we eat? Is it never enjoying a delicious, indulgent meal ever again?

Far from it. When I took a long hard look at what separated those who are successful from those who continue to struggle, I came up with six differentiating factors.

And fascinating enough, only one has to do with diet. Exercise didn’t even make the list!

Let’s dive right in. The Six Pillars of Lasting Health and Accidental Weight Loss:

  1. The right food
  2. Organization and planning
  3. Social support
  4. Accountability
  5. The right mindset
  6. Addressing your issues

Were you surprised that only one of the pillars has to do with what you eat?

The right food is of course critical, but the place where most of us struggle is the follow through.

That is why the majority of the pillars have to do with building the foundations of a healthy lifestyle. This is the key to whole shebang.

Why? Because once we create the habits, patterns, programs, systems, and safeguards of health, they work automatically to keep us on track.

I just counted, and there are now 2.61 bazillion delicious, satisfying, and decadent whole food plant-based recipes on the internet.

If you eat these foods that are nutrient dense and low in caloric density over the long-term, you will get the results you are looking for.

You don’t have to try and lose weight; it will happen. The real challenge is to stay the course.

Rather than putting ourselves through deprivation and restriction diet after diet, we can invest that effort in putting the supports in place that will keep us on track.

Things like making friends with folks who share your same healthy values. Or getting organized so that healthy snacks are always readily available.

This is a process I call building your Lifestyle Support Systems.

For most of us, getting healthy is usually a bit of a bumpy journey. For me, it was like riding a camel over a waterfall.

Will you fall off the wagon? Have good days and bad days? Feel like giving up? Almost certainly.

But when your Lifestyle Support Systems are in place, you don’t have to rely on discipline and willpower — they work automatically to pull you forward when you experience the inevitable bumps along the way.

This is the real secret to long-term, sustainable, healthy weight loss.

The Health and Weight Loss Diagnostic

Sigh! You probably wanted a six-week plan to look great in your bathing suit, and I turned it into a lifetime of building healthy habits!

Where do we even begin?!

Next article, I go into the Six Pillars in-depth, but today I want to simplify things.

I have a roadmap that can help you identify just one key action that you can take to move forward.

I call this the Health and Weight Loss Diagnostic.

Answering these six questions takes just a couple minutes, but it will allow you to get laser focused on which of the Six Pillars is the most important for you to focus on.

Fill it out now:

All done! Now leave a comment below and let me know: Which question did you score the highest on? Which question did you score the lowest on?

And next article, I help you get started on the one key action that can take to get the results you are looking for.

Talk soon,

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Photo Credit: Todd Chandler

It’s a typical Saturday night. The whole world is getting dressed up and ready to go out, but where am I?

Getting ready to settle into a fun-filled evening of…perusing holistic health and weight loss groups on facebook.

Ok, this may be a wee exaggeration, but I do spend an embarrassing amount of my free time browsing these groups.


I love reading the advice that people give, understanding what allows some people to succeed while others continue to struggle, and seeing how people support each other.

Anyway! While perusing one particularly interesting facebook group, I came across a post by a woman named Nora.

Nora had struggled to lose weight her whole life, trying one failed diet after another.

She had completely given up when she stumbled upon a life changing insight that made all the difference.

And it really worked! In Nora’s post, she shared that she has lost over 100 pounds to date!

Reading her story was so powerful that it honestly moved me to tears, but I also found it compelling for two specific reasons:

  1. Her story has the common elements of every weight loss story. The yo-yo diets, the experience of constant failure, the negative self talk, making progress only to be sent back to square one.
  2. Her real breakthrough didn’t come from just finding the right information. It was an important part of the puzzle, but to let go of her old patterns and really move forward required something more: A mindset shift.

The Great Diet Hoax

One of my great joys in writing this blog is making fun of our weird quirks —  all the ways that human beings are irrational, divided and well…pretty much insane.

And I’m not just making this up!

Psychologists have identified 168 of these cognitive biases — systematic errors that every human mind has a tendency to make.

Einstein must have been familiar with this human weirdness when he offered this little gem of wisdom.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

It seems so obvious, yet this is exactly what the vast majority of us do when we try and lose weight.

We jump from diet to diet, expecting that this time it will be different. We somehow think that if we can only find just the right diet, recipe, tip, or trick, this time we’ll be successful.

So the next fad diet rolls around, and we decide that the grapefruit diet is the one!

We tell our friends, turn down the cupcakes, push away our plates at the right time.

We eat grapefruit till the cows come home, endure the pain and suffering, see some results, yo-yo a bit, and then the inevitable happens.

All the deprivation and restriction catch up with the fact that every human being is what psychologists call a cognitive miser.

This means that our willpower is, by nature, limited. You can’t live a life of constant restriction and deprivation. And so the unavoidable outcome is crash and burn.

Now I don’t have an issue with crash and burn. The path to optimal healthy isn’t of the straight and narrow variety, and we all face challenges.

In fact, this blog’s strange moniker is derived from my passionate belief that it doesn’t matter how many times we spill the milk as long as we don’t lose the cow.

Instead, the real heartbreak is this: Every diet has a beginning and an end. And post-diet we almost always end up right back where we started. Or worse!

All that effort and no progress.

The Little Twist of Thinking That Makes All the Difference

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to ride the merry go round of continual failure! We don’t have to star as Bill Murray in weight-loss Groundhog Day!

We don’t have to…insert some other terrible metaphor here!

Instead, we can make real sustainable progress towards health, happiness, and our goal weight, but it requires one little insight, one little twist of thinking that makes all the difference.

In fact, I found Nora’s story SO interesting, because this was the exact insight that ended up tipping the scale for her.

Drum roll please…

The best way to sustainable, long-term progress towards better health, well-being, reducing or eliminating meds, looking and feeling younger, AND reaching your goal weight?

Don’t try and lose weight. Focus on getting healthy.

That’s the key to the whole affair. Stop trying to lose weight. Instead, build the foundations of a healthy lifestyle; become a healthy person.

Now maybe this is revelatory new information.

More probable is that you are questioning why the tremendous power of the universe would conspire to have you read such obvious commentary.

But Yar Maties! Before you threaten mutiny, hear me out. More is at play here than we may think.

See, there are tremendous differences between these two goals. Losing weight is an outcome goal. Getting healthy is a process goal.

Trying to lose weight is like going on a camping trip and pitching a tent. You leave your normal routine, make a temporary change in order to get a specific result, and when vacation is over, it’s time to go back home.

Deciding to get healthy is like buying a piece of land, pouring a foundation, and building a house. It’s a change that lasts a lifetime.

Losing weight is about doing something. Getting healthy is about becoming something.


Click here to open a bigger version of the image in a new window.

Do you see the difference?

And on a more practical level, trying to lose weight brings so much worry and concern about eating.

Counting everything, deciding whether or not the extra serving is worth the calories, thinking about much time you’ll have to spend on the treadmill to make up the difference.

Dieters worry incessantly about eating, and this makes it much harder to develop a healthy relationship with food.

Healthy people eat when they are hungry, enjoy as much healthy, nutritious food as they need to feel satisfied, and don’t really sweat the rest.

I used to groan and roll my eyes at the concept, but there really is an important distinction between a plant-based diet and a plant-based lifestyle.

But where it really gets fun is how this one little mindset shift cascades into other fundamental life changes.

Since going on a diet is temporary, it will always take motivation and willpower to sustain. But when you decide to get healthy, your energy goes towards creating healthy habits.

And once these habits are in place, they no longer require willpower or discipline to maintain.

And this, dear friend, is the key to getting off the diet merry go-round and creating long-term, sustainable health and weight loss.

The Key To Long Term, Sustainable Weight Loss

Ok, deciding to ditch dieting and instead focus your efforts on building healthy habits is all well and good. But there is one HUGE question that we’ve yet to answer.


What does it mean to get healthy, and more importantly, how do you do it? What are the these healthy habits and how to create them? How do you become a healthy person?

Seriously, I have no idea. Please tell me how!

Just kidding 😉

In this article, I get minutely practical and share with you the six elements that almost all healthy people have in common.

I also share a little tool with you that I use to determine the single most important step that you can take to build (or improve) your healthy lifestyle.

I’d bet my finest grapefruit that you’ll find it simple and intuitive.

Until then, leave me a comment and let me know the following:

Do you think there is a meaningful difference between going on a diet and deciding to get healthy?

Has a mindset shift played an important role in meeting your health goals? I’ll read and respond to every one.

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Photo Credit: Vinoth Chandar

Life doesn’t always go as planned.

My grandpa passed away last week and so Regan and I ended up traveling to Salt Lake City for the services.

It was of course a sad and difficult event for our family and friends, and I’ve greatly appreciated the many condolences.

Grandpa lived a long, successful life and his unconditional support was the foundation of our family. His memory and legacy lives on.

And while heartbreaking, I think these difficult events also offer us a special opportunity. And that’s what I wanted to share with you today.

Life is a precious and fleeting affair, and the silver lining is the perspective that these events bring.

Sometimes we need a bit of jolt to shake us out of our routines and help us remember what really matters.

Times of tumult require deep reflection. And that crystallizes our deeper purpose and motivates us to make changes that we might not have made otherwise.

These moments help us discover or reinforce our Why.

I’ve found that many plant powered journeys are sparked by just such a moment.

It can be anything from watching an inspiring film, to stepping on a scale and saying enough is enough.

Sadly it’s often watching a loved one struggle with or even lose the battle to a serious health challenge.

Or a personal diagnosis, sitting in the Doctor’s office and hearing those words that you dreaded, wondering, “How did I get here?”

Whatever the situation, in an instant a decision is made, a new direction is taken, and behind that life altering action is the Why.

So today, I want to give you an opportunity to reconnect with your Why without the catalyst of an unfortunate life event.

Take a moment and remember what sparked you to make the decision to get healthy. Why did you make the decision to change your lifestyle?

Do you want to be around for your kids and grandkids and have enough energy to play with and take care of them?

Do you want to lead by example and leave a legacy of health and wellbeing for those who follow you?

Do you want a happy, healthy, and quality second half of life without the chronic health conditions that other loved ones have struggled with?

Are there items on your bucket list that you’ve yet to accomplish? Do you want to learn to play the piano, travel to Ecuador, or do life life changing, world-saving work?

Your Why is your most powerful motivator, so write it down and display it prominently.

Put it on the fridge or on the bathroom mirror.

Remind yourself daily why you have set a course for healthier living. Deep purpose is a powerful anchor when we are tempted to stray from the path.

If you don’t yet have a Why, take a moment and reflect.

Why do you want to get healthy? Why do you want to embrace a plant strong lifestyle?

Personal health goals? Compassion for all beings? Leaving the planet better than you found it?

Personal goals are great, but when we make the decision for a reason beyond ourselves the motivation is often even more powerful.

Connect your Why to your deepest values, the kind of life you want to live and the legacy you want to live behind.

My Why

I haven’t written out my own Why before this, and so I thought I’d take the opportunity and share it with you.

I choose to live in a way that uplifts the entire web of life on the planet, that nourishes my body, that supports the health of the planet and the ecology, and that helps me feel connected to all of life.

I choose a plant-based lifestyle for my own health and to lead by example, to support all people in living a life of health, harmony, and happiness.

Now That You Know My Why, What’s Yours?

I’d be so honored if you would share your Why with me in the comments below. I promise to read and respond to every one.

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