Chris and Scorpion said it best, but here are some additional thoughts based on my experiences. Any time you are trying to break an old habit or instill a new one, you’re going to be constantly faced with temptations and disruptions: travel for business, going out with friends, unpleasant relatives coming to visit, someone close to you has problems and needs help, etc.
If you want to get really good at handling these challenges in stride, and not being a slave to your habits, there is no better strategy than PRACTICE! Think of the V-Diet as a really fantastic opportunity to get experience with habit-modification. Sticking to this diet will enable you to develop your skills of self-control that will help you in many other areas of your life. Self-control is like a muscle that can be developed with training.
Think of it this way – all of the Muslims in the world right now are fasting every day for a month, with no food at all during the day. Especially for those in the west, they are constantly faced with temptations to cheat. And thousands of people are trying to stop smoking on any given day. In that sense, you have a lot of company who are also trying to modify difficult social habits like you, right at this moment.
Honestly, I think this is one major reason that Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam have restrictions on eating. As long as humans have been around, mealtimes have been the quintessential combination of habit and social intimacy. Dietary restrictions teach followers of these religions to impose self-control on both their habits and their social interactions.
For people like us, who probably don’t have these religious dietary restrictions, we lose a valuable character-building practice. Every time a Hindu eats vegetarian with a group of westerners, or a Muslim holds to Ramadan during a business lunch, it reinforces something positive for them. I wish we were taught that kind of self-control from an early age! With this in mind, for about 10 years now, I have gone on one or two 40-day “habit modification fasts” every year. I normally pick something that has become a really solid habit, and “break” it. If I’ve been walking to the cafe with my co-workers to drink herbal tea every day, I switch to water. If I’ve been eating lots of red meat, I switch entirely to chicken and fish for a month.
It doesn’t have to be a bad habit; just a powerful habit, and one that involves social activity. I highly recommend doing this once a year, since you learn a lot. You start to realize that your coping strategies are a lot more numerous than you used to think, and you get more confident at deploying them. With each small step you take, it’s more fun. Sometimes you can complete a fast without anyone even noticing you were on it, and this can be a really rewarding challenge.
So that’s my bottom line: losing some bodyfat is a good reason to try the V-Diet, but an even better reason is because its a perfect exercise to develop your skills of habit modification under social pressure. It has the three most essential characteristics:
- It involves habits that are hard to break
- It involves social pressure
- It’s straightforward to measure whether you are doing it right or not. You are either following the rules or not; no ambiguity or wiggle room (same as a rule like “don’t eat pork”, or “don’t eat meat”).
What could be more perfect than that?