Note from Mitra: During Kelly’s second month, she passed through her phase of craving sugar, but her fat and salt addictions remain. Here she discusses coming to terms with what it means to embrace a new lifestyle. And you can read Part I of this series here.

My biggest struggle in my second month was looking at how to maintain this lifestyle in perpetuity. Mitra’s basic program (only eat whole foods, pretty much only eat plants, don’t eat added oils, etc.) isn’t easy in our world. Mitra and her husband Doug make it look easy, and when I spend time with them it feels natural. But when I’m out with friends, it often feels like I’m living this wacky lifestyle that no one else can relate to. Walking through the grocery store or going to almost any restaurant is tough – I feel like I’m surrounded by toxic food choices, even at my local co-op, and trying to convince most people that my new lifestyle is healthy has been difficult. I am bombarded by suggestions to add “lean” animal protein and olive oil to my diet lest I miss critical nutrients. Other friends feel like I’m judging their choices when I decide not to eat what they’re eating, and I often feel like I’m alone on this journey.

So how can I do this forever? And do I even want to? The weight loss feels great, but I’d be lying if I said it was easy.

Mitra said something totally surprising to me last week when I was talking to her about all of this, and wondering if I’d be able to do it for the rest of my life:

“You know, I’ve been following a plant-based diet for more than 5 years now, but that wasn’t necessarily my plan in the beginning.” She told me. “When I started this, I thought, why not give it a try? I didn’t look 5 years down the road and know that I’d be a vegan. But I wanted to try this because the science made so much sense, and I figured it was worth checking out.”

I was inspired by this comment because, for me, the thought of never again eating some of my favorite foods is too much of a commitment. I like the idea that I’m trying this lifestyle for now, and that I can always choose to have those foods again if I want to. And I recognize that I feel wildly better now that I’m not eating animal products, and am primarily eating when I’m truly hungry, rather than when the clock says it’s time to eat, or when I’m bored or depressed.

At the same time, it’s very clear that I’m still addicted. Just yesterday, I seriously considered getting a burger, fries, and a Coke. It wasn’t a desperate moment, I wasn’t over-hungry and therefore making a poor choice, and I wasn’t feeling lonely or sad: I wanted a burger, and thought that, since it’d been two months since I’d eaten anything like that, it would be a fine choice to make. I wanted to see how my body felt after I ate it, and I really just wanted some fatty, salty meat. In the end, I decided not to, and I felt good about the choice. Not like I would have been bad if I’d eaten it… more like I was fine choosing not to eat it, and didn’t then mope around feeling like I’d deprived myself.

And I’ll tell you why: just knowing that tomorrow I could choose to have that burger, and it’d be okay if I did, made me realize that I could wait until tomorrow and see if I still wanted it.

So here’s my report for the month: coming off of a successful first month (-13 pounds), I lost three additional pounds during week 1. In weeks two and three, I did maintain an almost-100-percent plant-based diet (there was one slip-up at a restaurant where I had a veggie pancake that definitely had egg in it), but found myself once again eating dinner quite late, and not maintaining my morning yoga, daily walks, or enemas.

I was also eating substantially more than I did in my first month. My mother was visiting, and she’s a fabulous cook (plant-based or otherwise). So I found myself eating bigger portions than necessary, and also snacking more than usual. Whole foods can still be fattening, and while I’m glad that my splurges were plant-based, it was still too much food, too late in the evening.

I’m clear that no detoxification happened while I was eating so much and so late (8pm many nights). Overall, I had a successful month in terms of weight loss: 8 pounds total. But I feel quite confident that returning to the daily enemas (Mitra says 30 days in a row, and I’ve only ever done one or two days, here and there), daily walks and yoga, and eating between the hours of 9am and 5pm will speed up my detox and weight loss.

And I’m still thinking about what it will be to live like this ongoing, and not just as part of a weight loss plan. Because I’m clear that it would be really easy to let the occasional soda or burger slide into a regular habit again. So, like Mitra, I’m taking this one step at a time, and seeing where the journey leads me.

The great news this month is that I am fitting into pants that I haven’t been able to wear since 2004, before my first pregnancy! Of course, now they’re out of style, but that’s a good excuse to go shopping: pretty soon, I’m going to need a whole new wardrobe, and while I’ve hated trying on clothes for the last 8 years, I’m actually excited about it once again.

The other good news is that sugar cravings have more-or-less gone away. A Coke still sounds good to me, but I’m no longer DYING to have one, the way I was for most of my first month. Salty fat is still something I’m craving most days, however. This is consistent with what Mitra told me to expect, which was at least 90-days of no animal products and processed foods before I’d really stop craving them. So I’ve got one more month to go! And maybe more like two, at least in terms of these pesky cravings!

Total weight lost in month two: 8 pounds

Total weight lost overall: 21 pounds