When I was four years old, I used to sit in my Mom’s rocking chair and think intellectually about the world around me. I remember looking up at the ceiling one particular afternoon, and wondering why my life was moving so painstakingly slow. How would I ever survive to the age of ten, twenty, or even thirty? It seemed like each and every day was moving me through a very simple routine, and I was yearning for something more. I think a lot of us feel this way when we are young. We wish away the boring, mundane days leading up to an exciting weekend, a family holiday, or even just for some much needed personal time.

I truly believe that time moved a lot slower when I was young. Once you finish school, begin your career, and start a family (with or without children), the days begin to blend together into a mishmash of months that become harder and harder to remember as time goes on.

It’s far too easy to fall into this basic cycle of life, never thinking critically about the world, or looking for ways to improve yourself. This very process is what led me to make a substantial change in my life. Just before my twenty-seventh birthday, I decided to make a fresh start, and leave my mindless lifestyle habits behind. I chose a plant-based lifestyle.

I recently made it to the six month mark in my new journey, and I wanted to take some time to share my thoughts and progress thus far. The reason as to why I touched on my perception of time, is that it has finally begun to slow down in my life. I take time every single day to reflect on my choices, and this has helped to keep me grounded. To be honest, time has slowed down so much for me, that it feels as though I’ve been living a plant-based lifestyle for years.

Perhaps this has a lot to do with the fact that I’m more conscious of my daily choices, but regardless, I finally feel content. We think of time in relation to everything, so this is a great topic to speak about – how time and change are truly interconnected.

For this piece, I’d like to focus on two different aspects of change: outward, and inward. They are both very important in their own ways, in terms of keeping you motivated, and helping you to continue making strong relationships with others, and ultimately, with yourself.

1. Outward Changes

In order for others to truly understand the personal changes that I’ve undergone, they look at the surface and physical changes first. These are the changes that I looked forward to most. The kinds of things that really drive the message home to others, that this new way of life is worth living.

I touched on this a bit in one of my first posts as something to expect when you adopt a plant-based lifestyle, but six months can make quite a difference to to the outward changes that I experienced in the very beginning.

I suppose that I made a mistake when I started off by not taking measurements of my body, but I can certainly conclude a few solid changes based on what I see, and how my clothes are fitting now.

I have dropped fifteen pounds on a plant-based diet so far. Not only do my food choices allow me to literally feel lighter, but I can see changes in my physical body as well. The extra weight that I was carrying on my hips, waist, and legs have begun to disappear, so I’m continuing to listen to what my body wants, and feed it the proper fuel.

On top of losing pounds, I’ve also lost inches. As mentioned, it’s a bit difficult to determine the exact amount without taking measurements to start, but this is what I know for sure: I’ve lost three inches from my bust, three inches from my waist and hips, and a couple of inches from my upper legs. I’ve also gone down a whole cup size in my bra.

Unfortunately, you have little control with which parts of your body will be targeted by weight loss. I’ve just begun to trust that wherever the weight sheds, that’s the area that needed to let it go the most.

Aside from weight loss, I have noticed a huge difference in my hair. It has become so shiny and much more manageable over the past couple of months. I don’t need to brush it multiple times a day, and the products that I’ve switched to have even allowed me to wash it less often. Bonus!

My fingernails have also gotten some healthy attention. I grew those white deposits on my fingernails for the past ten years at least, and even with research, I’m still not completely sure what caused them. Whether they were calcium deposits, or caused by a zinc deficiency, they were certainly unattractive. Almost immediately after changing my lifestyle these deposits began to show less and less, as opposed to growing one, two, or three at a time on every single fingernail. I am so happy that they’ve disappeared completely. It’s nice not to have to worry about wearing nail polish all the time to cover them up.

Finally, my skin. The struggle is real, and it’s likely to continue for the rest of my life. My skin seems to be super sensitive to face products, food, and stress. I’ve suffered from oily skin since my early teens, and I was unsure as to whether or not a diet change would impact this. I can happily say that six months in, my breakouts are much less (usually only because of hormones now), and my face is significantly less oily. I can set my makeup one time in the morning, without having to worry about reapplying throughout the day, as I used to.

I’m fairly impressed with these changes to date. I’m not viewing the change in lifestyle as a quick fix, and I’m also not getting down on myself for not seeing ridiculous differences in my body right away. This is a gradual, and progressive lifestyle, and I’m happy to continue living it. I believe that the positivity will always grow, and every date marker will hold greater things than the one previous.

Although I’m proud of myself for having such strong commitment, and witnessing these physical changes, I’m even more impressed with the internal changes that I’ve noticed thus far.

2. Inward Changes 

My general energy level, and sleeping habits have undergone some serious adjustments. I find myself sleeping much less throughout the week, even in the colder weather. This time last year, it felt like I was in some kind of hibernation. Of course I still don’t enjoy waking up early for work, but it’s great to not have to count the hours of sleep that I might get, or worry about feeling tired the next day. Consuming more carbohydrates has allowed me to feel more alert, and effortlessly set a positive mood around me.

I’ve been walking a lot more during the day, feeling the need to burn some excess energy. It’s nice to get away from the desk every hour, and take in everything around me. I’ve always been a bit shy and reserved, but I now feel the need to talk openly with others, to learn more about the world, and to share some of myself in return.

Once you get over the fear of judgment, it’s actually really surprising how many people are receptive and open to talking about a plant-based lifestyle. I would have never predicted this to be so. Perhaps I didn’t really push myself that much, it just came with the territory.

When you feel this good, you want nothing more than to share your thoughts and feelings with others. You begin to build solid conversation, and sound opinions to inspire more change, and the best part is that you have personal experiences to reference.

If I had to ask my friends and family, I’m sure they would say that they appreciate the mental and emotional changes that I’ve undergone. It may have been a struggle at first, but my mood swings have disappeared completely, and I’ve finally found some inner balance.

The confidence and social skills that I have developed have helped me significantly with my personal relationships. My boyfriend and I have a much more solid foundation in our relationship, because it goes much deeper than our feelings for just each other. We are constantly thinking through social issues, researching information, and looking for new and exciting plant-based food to eat.

I’ve found that over the last six months, I have required a lot of information and justification for my feelings about the animal industry. What started as a journey to find good health, has absolutely opened my eyes, and shocked me on so many levels. When you start to network with like-minded people, and share information over social media, it seems like humans are providing the world with a plague of never-ending suffering. It’s not even about the food industry alone anymore, it’s about the cosmetic, entertainment and fashion industries as well.

How could anyone be willing to contribute to this madness? It’s simple, really. It’s because they have no idea that it’s happening.

Having so much information at my fingertips has forced me to continue asking questions, and forming arguments. The injustice in the world keeps me motivated, but I no longer have the need to surround myself with terrible facts and alarming statistics. I have truly grown to love the plant-based lifestyle so much, that I trust I will continue living his way for the rest of my life. This kind of validation is profound in my mind. If I can be a healthier and happier person, while simultaneously lessening animal cruelty, why would I ever go back to the way things were?

I’ve definitely struggled emotionally with accepting the completely mindless actions many people in the world. If those around you still choose to close their eyes, and plug their ears, so be it.

I’ve accepted that not everyone is ready to change. It has to be on their own terms, and on their own time, just as it was for me. People have been living the plant-based lifestyle for years, and it wasn’t until just recently that it became a much bigger and better movement.

On a positive note, I feel absolutely no cravings for the food that I used to eat. It’s so freeing. I could care less about sinking my teeth into a juicy steak, when I have plenty of other things that I’d rather be feeding my body. I also don’t need someone else to do my dirty work for me. I can’t look at meat or animal products anymore without thinking about how and why it became food on a plate. Taking the time to reflect on the animal industry processes is enough to curb my appetite for such food products. I find plant foods much more appealing.

The biggest inward change that I’ve experienced in the last six months, is how I perceive myself. I’ve always been super critical of who I am, or who I thought I should be. I’ve never really felt completely included in a social group, or felt satisfied with who I was, but now I feel like I have friends in high and low places.

I trust that every experience has helped to form me into exactly who I need to be right now. I was meant to walk this path, and to eventually see things differently. There’s a reason why it made so much sense to change my life six months ago. It was a very natural progression. I no longer find it necessary to whine and complain about how hard I may find my life to be. I can finally dedicate time to making life better for others, instead of feeling powerless, and unhappy all the time.

Though it was frustrating to have others reject my feelings in the beginning, I’ve been happily surprised at how many people are willing to embrace them now. I’ve had a constant flow of old and new friends, family, and acquaintances asking me about how I changed, and what I would recommend for them. This is the most rewarding part. Once you have learned so much about yourself by how you react to the world around you, you can inspire others to change too. Even if it starts off as something small, it’s always worth it.

The plant-based lifestyle thrives on self-awareness and personal growth. I believe that one day the whole world will adopt its values, because it is such an empowering life choice to make. It’s refreshing to live a lifestyle that encourages you to evolve, learn, and to take ownership for everything that you receive and give back to the world. You too have the power to break away from the shackles of a corrupt world, and see things through a clear lens – free of advertising, greed, and simple human tradition.

After all, our biology does not condone the torture, exploitation, slaughter, or consumption of animals – our choices do. Being plant-based is a choice too, a choice to be a healthier, compassionate, happier, and better version of yourself. Choose to live a plant-based lifestyle, and truly choose a better life for all.

Rant over.