My wife and I are on a diet and activity plan.  Some of what we want to do is move toward eating Mediterranean Diet and Activity along with moving toward meatless days a few days a week.

This is fairly in the opposite direction of the American diet pattern and it makes dining out tricky. 

How does one maintain enthusiasm for life style differences from the general population?  I figure religion helps keep the focus for some. 

How do others manage to keep up the effort until it becomes the new normal?

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Fair points.  But how do you stay on target over the long run?

Is it just a mater of celebrating every little accomplishment to maintain the goal or setting lots of little steps? 

I'm not getting the difference in celebrating a goal met and an accomplishment made.

I don't know how to stay on target over the long run, but there are plenty of ways to celebrate that don't involve more eating!

Dancing music movie book day-trip ...

Why did you go on a diet and activity plan at all ?

As you pointed out, it involves some problems and inconveniences.

Yet something was more important to you than inconvenience, otherwise you wouldn't be on this plan in the first place. What was that ?

I don't think its so much enthusiasm as it's sheer stubbornness that keeps you on course for long periods.  I've seen stubborn trump enthusiastic time after time.

What is your "WHY"? 

You are not enthusiastic about your new diet and activity plan because your reason for doing it is not motivating.  

Why do you want to follow a Mediterranean diet?  What goal is this diet supporting?  You want to be active but that could mean anything.  What level of activity? What type of activity?  What do you want your body to be able to do? 

If there is not stick and carrot, what makes the horse move? 

I would like to also point out whats good for the goose is not always good for the gander.  A meatless meal may support some aspects of health, but men who eat meat have higher free testosterone levels which is very important for men's health

Shifting the lifestyle & diet is partially making changes that allow for a healthier life, partially to reduce footprint on the earth.  But it is the constant swimming against the current that is hard. 

I suppose if I had an evangelistic focus on the “better way to live” it would be easier.  But I can’t stand evangelists and my upbringing was anti-hippy so I have a knee jerk reaction to “hippy”.

I’m right now just trying to make step-wise changes of habit.  My family will follow but I need to be the leader.

I don't think you're the only one who's doing these things. Is the issue that everyone around you eats differently? If so, then it probably will be difficult, especially since eating is such a social activity.

I'm not sure why it would be all that difficult to do follow these diets, especially given the choices available today. While there's still a lot of processed food, there also is an increasing variety of choices that would allow you to follow your diet. Is it not available at your local grocery store?

Grocery store is good for a lot of it.  The meats can be tricky.  Most of the sea food is gulf caught or farm raised.   I'll be hunting this fall so that will help stocking up proper red meats.  

Mostly I think it is having to fight off the times you want to be lazy and order in or have a pre-built meal.

Do what you can with what's available. As for seafood, you might want to be cautious about that. Do some research about mercury levels.

Having things that match your diet immediately available and convenient, as well as planning ahead for your meals, can be key. Put together some menus, buy what's needed for those and make stuff ahead whenever possible (e.g., cook more than you need and freeze the rest to eat at another meal).

Have some easy snacks on hand, too -- nuts, for example.

Also, it might be easier to try to do this for a few meals a week at first, then increase as you become more used to it. That gives you a chance to find the things you like and you won't feel as though you can't satisfy cravings for what you used to eat, since you'll have those available soon.

Finally, someone else mentioned about focusing on what you're actually trying to accomplish (lose weight, etc.) vs. the diet. For the most part, conscious dieting is a means, not an end. Find a way to quantify your goals, both to check your progress and as motivation. Do that in a real way -- a list or calendar somewhere -- so you're reminded of what you're doing and why.

It seems the crux of the issue is that you are giving up something you actually like (certain things in your previous diet) rather than "finding" the new foods you wish to eat (I suspect you could find items that qualify as "Mediterranian" at about 95% of the places you eat). So perhaps you need a more reasonable approach:

It seems the entire goal is not that you are trying to "be Mediterranean" or "live as a Mediterranean," but that you want a healthier diet.

Instead of moving to a Mediterranean Diet (which excludes most food in the world), consider, instead of moving to a healthy diet. The key here isn't "Mediterranean," the key is healthy. By limiting all your food choices to the things that those in the Mediterranean area, you are actually doing something unhealthy. Reality is that those who live in that area eat a much, much wider diet than what is commonly thought of as a Mediterranean diet. In fact, if you go there, you will see they probably have fries and hamburgers, and a bevy of other foods. Therefore, "going Mediterranean" could possibly consist of all the same things you used to eat before your change, which would be just as unhealthy. Heck, eating a daily diet of only fava beans, olives, and honey is certainly Mediterranean, but would be extremely unhealthy!

Instead, be open-minded about what you eat. Start considering healthy food from any culture. There are phenomenally satisfying and healthy foods that started in Japan, or Norway, or Greece, or XYZtown. Seriously, stop limiting your foods to only ONE genre and consider embracing any food that is healthy.

When you open your diet (and minds) to a more world-wide diet, you will start finding excitement and joy in eating. Instead of ruing that you miss XYZ, you will start actually looking forward to trying a new cuisine! Or perhaps a fusion of cuisines! Instead of being bored or feeling "deprived" you will start seeking out adventurous new foods. Instead of feeling left out at gatherings, you will start looking forward to trying all the different foods.

The other things you really should start doing is allowing yourself to eat foods from your previous "unhealthy" diet. Seriously, there is nothing unhealthy about eating a meal of fries, burger, and coke. The unhealthy thing is when you eat too much of such. Embrace a new diet which does not "outlaw" food, but eats in moderation.

Food is too important, to exquisite, too glorious to degrade to a diet. Eat anything and everything that is in moderation and is appropriate! Just too eat too many calories, or too many of any one nutrient.

Oh, except mushrooms or seafood. Even in moderation, those are just nasty as snot and should not be a part of any human's diet.

For clarification, the diet we are working toward is one rich in legumes, fresh vegetables and fruit with minimal processed foods such as refined starches and pre-processed foods.  Oils and sugars are minimized as are red meats.  Plant and fish protein are preferred.  

This means a fairly strong commitment to cooking and bringing food from home.  Not the end of the world but trying to keep at it.  Dining out is problematic as fish sourced on the menu is of dubious origin or preparation.

The diet is not “I want to be a Mediterranean” it is more of the blue zone diet with balance.  I’m still eating beef and such but cutting back and introducing more and more other options.

I called it Mediterranean as I thought it was a fairly well known diet.  We are not excluding all the wonderful foods from around the world.  We are noting that people who walk more, sleep well, and eat in this style, live better longer.  So we are trying to shift into that lifestyle.

It is just hard when you want to order a pizza after a rough day.  But writing this makes me realize that perhaps I need to store some easy to reheat meals.  Perhaps the answer is to stock up the freezer for lazy days.

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