How Becoming a Vegetarian Helped Me Realize That EVERYONE Needs Accountability Partners

Even though the week for the Weekly Writing Challenge: From Mundane to Meaningful on WordPress has passed, I believe that this post is quite appropriate for that challenge.

Image via Boston.com
Sadly, this was one of the most attractive pictures of a Turducken offered on Google Images.

It is 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 31st and I’m indulging in a Turducken dipped in lobster bisque and shrimp au jus, with a side of scallops and salmon-stuffed crab cakes. The meal was prepared especially for this monumental occasion—to celebrate the successful completion of 30 days of vegetarianism. I couldn’t think of a better way to do this than to totally cancel out these last 30 days. My journey began at 12:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 1st and ended just now. During this time, I’ve learned valuable transferable life lessons such as the importance of continuous self-examination and thorough research and preparation before embarking on any major lifestyle change. I’ve also learned the necessity of having accountability partners. Below are some lessons learned during my short stint as a vegetarian. Hopefully you will find them helpful; I believe they are widely applicable.

Try to ascertain exactly WHY you are becoming a vegetarian. I initially talked myself into believing that the reason that I was becoming a vegetarian was to lose weight. After some serious self-examination, I realized that becoming a vegetarian allowed me to not deal with my real issue…craving sugar.  It’s the carbs and sweets that are causing my weight issues, NOT meat. Approximately eight years ago, I stopped eating pork. And I did it cold turkey. I literally woke up one day and said, “I’m not going to eat pork anymore.” And I didn’t.  About six years ago, I was driving down the street one day and said, “I’m not going to eat red meat anymore.” And I didn’t. You know why? Because meat isn’t and never was my “problem”…SUGAR is. The opportunity to participate in a 3-week sugar detox program has recently presented itself. I’m in the process of doing my research on the program. And speaking of research…

Do some research on exactly what vegetarianism entails. Did you know that part of what makes rice taste so much better in restaurants than in your own house is probably that they boil it in chicken or beef broth rather than water? I didn’t. But now I do. It can take A LOT of practice to get the food you cook at home to taste like (or better than) the dishes you’re accustomed to in restaurants…usually longer than 30 days. And if you’re eating rice boiled in meat juice then that takes part of the vegetarianism aspect away, right? In addition to doing your research…

Image via Marg (CaymanDesigns) at Food.com

Keep an open mind…try things that you thought you never would. And challenge yourself to determine WHY you thought you’d never try those things. Did you know that black beans are good? As a matter of fact, they are the bomb.com. I’d never given them a shot before, because they reminded me of beetles. Little creepy, crawly black beetles. But what I quickly learned on day 2 of 30 is that when you cut a significant portion of your diet out, you resort to desperate measures. Those beetles started looking quite good! Because I didn’t properly plan or do sufficient research, I didn’t fully identify meat alternatives the way I should have. But thanks to a persistent server at Chili’s, I tried their black beans and instantly fell in love! Now, even though I’ve surpassed the 30 days, I’m sure I’ll order the black beans whenever I return to that restaurant. Those beans tossed in the smoky gravy and topped with chopped onions and tomatoes are simply divine! Next lesson…

Have realistic expectations so that you don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Did you know that you might not lose ANY weight? In fact, if you haven’t fully researched things and aren’t prepared for this drastic lifestyle change, you might actually gain weight. I didn’t lose any weight. Not NONE! The first week I gained a pound. Which I lost half of the following week and the other half the week after that. By that point, I was happy to break even and I stopped weighing myself. Okay, time to talk about accountability

Tell other people that you are becoming a vegetarian so that they can help hold you accountable. One of the first things I did when I decided to become a vegetarian for 30 days was to take to Twitter and Facebook to announce it. There is nothing like publicly declaring something to make you feel guilty about not staying true to it. This helped me understand why being a vegetarian was easier in the day than it was at night. Shall I say it again? Accountability! People see you in the day. When you’re at home at night inside your house, nobody sees you. Nobody can pass judgment. Nobody can call you out. Also, telling other people about your endeavors is key if you’re memory-challenged like me. Honestly, one of the hardest things about being a vegetarian was REMEMBERING that I was a vegetarian. I considered myself to be fairly dedicated to the cause, but because it was so out of the ordinary for me, I had to catch myself a couple of times. Not out of sheer disregard for the rules that I’d set for myself, but because I completely forgot. Which leads me to my last point…

If you need help, it’s okay to ask for help! How many times have you made the statement that “before I seek assistance, I want to see if I can do it on my own first…”? You know what? YOU CAN’T! Because if you could, you would have already. This statement is transferable across many situations and is just an excuse to delay the inevitable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that you literally can’t, because of course you can! It’s just that you don’t. And you won’t. Because talking about it and procrastinating until that exact “right” moment (which may never come) is easier than just doing it. Once again, it all goes back to accountability. It helps when somebody other than YOU is responsible for YOU. Get that trainer. Join the diet program. IT IS WORTH THE INVESTMENT.

As I’ve stated several times already, my lessons learned from 30 days of vegetarianism are transferable ones. As a result of this experience, I’ve decided to establish several groups to serve as my accountability partners. In life, EVERYONE has something that they need to be held accountable for. Whether its diet, exercise, drafting a business plan, revamping your out-of-date résumé, cleaning out the garage, or putting those cigarettes down once and for all, EVERYBODY needs someone to help hold them accountable.

Accountability partners can also be unknowing participants. Whenever I exercise inside my house, I open the blinds and the front door. This turns my neighbors into accountability partners, whether they realize it or not. Generally speaking, just the thought of somebody watching you will probably make you want to do the right thing. On the flip side of that, gawking neighbors could also be totally creepy. But for the sake of making a point, let’s pretend it’s not.

Have you had similar revelations? Do you already have accountability partners or do you need to establish some? Let’s support each other! Share with me in the comments section.

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About Magnet for Foolishness

Resident of the DMV…and my incessant thoughts. Always hungry. Comedy craver. Ice cream freak. Reality TV show junkie. Slightly opinionated. Rarely wrong. Part Lisa Simpson. Part Sue Sylvester. Part Meredith Grey. Renowned chef and baker…avid gardener…pet lover…sometimes liar. Effortlessly forgetful. Always hungry. Blindly hopeful. Easily embarrassed (NOT). Eerily observant. Searching for something. Disregarding parallelism. Chronically tardy. Ruthlessly impatient. Surprisingly affectionate. Unnecessarily long-winded.
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15 Responses to How Becoming a Vegetarian Helped Me Realize That EVERYONE Needs Accountability Partners

  1. stevebetz says:

    Good for you! We’ve made a concerted effort to eat more vegetarian meals over the past couple of years, and I think now probably 5 out of 7 of our dinners are vegetarian. And when we do have meat, we have less of it.

    Has it helped us lose weight? A little perhaps, but a big plate of pasta still has a whole bunch of calories in it. Portion control for me has been the bigger issue than what the portion is made of — that and when I eat it. I’ve really tried to stop eating big dinners late.

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    • Wow, 5 out of 7 is awesome! Having built-in accountability partners helps as well, I’m sure.

      And you are very correct about portion control. I feel like we (as Americans) have been conditioned to eat enormous amounts of food as if they were regular amounts. So now our bodies expect that much food all the time. And don’t get me started on not eating late…I’m working on this one, too, but sometimes life gets in the way of eating and you CAN’T eat at a reasonable hour. In terms of health, I wonder what’s worse: going to bed STARVING or going to bed full as a tick? Using the argument that you burn calories while sleeping, usually I wind up eating.

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  2. stevebetz says:

    PS love your banner!!

    Like

  3. hermitsdoor says:

    No more cake layers sliding off each other, huh?

    I have several friends who are vegetarians, but none for nutritional reasons (mostly spiritual quests or do-not-harm-animals sentiments). Their diets of french fries and chips never impressed me as healthy.

    My wife has been reading a couple of books on nutrition recently that have basically advocated reducing starches and sugars (even grains, breads, fruits which convert starch to sugars), eating proteins (meats, eggs, certain nuts), and adding lots of vegetables. The idea is to shift the balance of what you eat, rather than eliminate this or that from the plate. I like the general concept of eating whole foods (e.g. an apple rather than juice) rather than processed foods, and to have a colorful plate (which usually means adding green, yellow, and orange from vegetable.

    Keeps us posted so that we can keep you accountable!
    Oscar

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    • Thanks for your support, Oscar! Yeah, I have two more cakes to bake for a couple of friends (luckily, neither of them are layer cakes). After that, I will go on hiatus probably until the holidays. But that’s a long time, so we’ll see!

      I really like what you’ve said above, especially the concept of eating the whole food. I like juice (1) because it’s quicker and easier than the fruit to consume when you’re on the go and (2) because it’s sweet, I sometimes use it as a replacement for dessert. But you’re exactly right, the whole fruit is better for you and more filling.

      ME vs. SUGAR…the battle continues!

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      • hermitsdoor says:

        I have been so well know for my preference for fruit and fiber foods that one year, for the Secret Santa gift exchange, I received a box of “Fruit and Fiber” cereal. A great laugh.

        Regarding the convenience of juice vs whole fruit, we make fruist salad on our days off from work. These store well in the refrigerator in single serving containers for quick addition to breakfast or snacks. Fruits that keep well this way are melons, citrus, pineapple, and kiwis, and blueberries. We add high-slime-risk fruits (e.g. strawberries and raspberries) at the last minute. Some fruits turn brown when cut up (e.g. peaches, apples, bananas). Put these on the bottom and add yogurt (plain, non-fat) to keep the oxygen away, or at least to not see that they are brown. If you need a little more sweetness than plain yogurt, drizzle a little (A LITTLE!) honey or maple syrup (good quality, not Log Cabin). For some crunch and protien, add some granola or alomond slices.

        Now you are ready for that hot-yoga class!

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        • Thanks again for these tips, Oscar. A co-worker and I just finished a conversation where she shared some of the same ideas with me. Now if we could just come up with an easy way to get me to eat my veggies! I keep dragging my feet on buying a juicer…

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          • hermitsdoor says:

            Buy a knife and cutting board instead. We use the time that we spend preparing fruit salad to chat with family & friends on the phone… or with each other… what a concept for married folks! You can apply the same idea to green salads, preparing them a for a couple of work days ahead. Linda says that six salads (two for tonight & two for each of the next two nights) is as easy as making two salads. Lettuce, cucumbers, onions, peppers, mushroom, carrots will all last when coverd by a small plate over the salad bowl. Add the high-risk-of-slime stuff (tomatoes, avacado) at the last minute. Sprinkle on more of those almond slices and cheese for protien. Watch out for the dressing, as this is where the fat and carb’s are.
            Happy munching! Oscar

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  4. El Guapo says:

    Well done! takes a lot to commit to a lifestyle change like that, even if it’s just for a bit.
    Restaurants also change the way the food tastes through massive amounts of butter.
    One place I worked also used all shallots instead of onions. A small change, but a huge flavor difference.

    there are also vegetarian soup powders which I use (I’m not a vegetarian, they’re just easier to use than the cubes) for cooking rice.
    And for me, reading ingredient lists on packages was a great way to improve my diet.. Knowing is half the battle…

    Good luck with the sugar battle!

    Like

    • Thank you very much! I think I am winning that battle slowly but surely. I haven’t officially done a sugar detox program (I still plan to, though), but I’ve SIGNIFICANTLY decreased my sugar/carb intake since writing this post. I’ve seen a difference in the way I feel and in my weight.

      And you’re right, reading labels and knowing IS half the battle! I eat alot of peanuts, walnuts, and pecans. I never bothered to look at the nutrition label until recently. I was floored by how much fat nuts have. I knew they were fatty, but I didn’t know they had THAT much fat. 😦

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  5. Pingback: TWO YEARS! | Magnet for Foolishness™

  6. Tessa says:

    What a great post! I read something similiar on another website though i have to say you explained it better!1

    Like

  7. Pingback: What I gave up for Lent | Magnet for Foolishness®

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