Sticking to a diet has shown to be one of, if not the hardest part of consistently living a healthy lifestyle for most people. Our relationship with food has changed a lot in the past ~100 years and our daily diet consists of more foods that are usually filled with artificial ingredients and sugar than ever before. Switching from these sweet foods to a more healthy lifestyle that consists of more fruits, vegetables and lean meats can be a real shock to our system making sticking to a diet of these foods much more difficult. Today I would like to talk about how I transitioned from having a terrible diet consisting of 2-3 orders of fast food everyday including snacks, candies, and pastries into having a very clean diet that has helped me lose 70 pounds, while still having opportunities to eat all of my favorite foods.
This article is a continuation of my previous article The #1 Best Way To Start and Stick To An Exercise Routine For Absolute Beginners.
I want to start by saying that gaining control over my relationship with food has been one of the most impactful habits I have curated throughout my whole life. When eating all the fast foods and pastries that are common to have it’s hard to fully realize how it affects your life as the feeling these foods give you is “normal.” However, fast food and these sweet treats really affect a lot of our lives negatively by sapping energy, reducing sleep quality, creating brain fog, adding on fat, worsening our intestinal health, and many more terrible side effects.
By gaining control of my diet and exercise routine I have eliminated all of these terrible side effects which has greatly boosted my quality of life, my daily productivity, my happiness level, my energy levels, and my aspiration for life.
But it wasn’t always this way you see just 3 years ago I was 70 pounds overweight, had little to no motivation, dealt with heavy depression, had daily stomach pains and illnesses and was intaking an insane amount of sugar each day. I was told by many individuals that changing my diet would fix a lot of my issues including my depression but I always put it off and thought “they have no idea what they’re talking about, they don’t know what I’m going through.”
It wasn’t until I had a doctor tell me that I had a medical condition in my liver that if I didn’t begin to fix my diet and lose weight that It would worsen and be a permanent illness in my life. This was my first reality check and I knew that I didn’t want this to forever be a part of my life and decided to take action. I wrote about how I started to exercise in a previous article so I won’t go into this here but that was only one aspect of getting healthy, and honestly the exercise was the easy one. What was the more important and much more difficult aspect was the diet and despite the medical news I wasn’t able to cut out all this bad eating cold turkey as it was too hard and my will power was not yet strong enough.
So how did I go from this terrible diet to now eating clean for over a year while also being able to have some of my favorite bad foods with no repercussion? Well that will be today’s topic and I hope that the very easy formula I used to create my diet will help you start and stick to yours!
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice to treat any sort of medical condition, if you are in dire need of diet advice then you should consult with a dietician. Today’s advice is for people who are trying to just live a healthier life with slower progressive action and no immediate extreme conditions.
How I started my diet was very simple, and extremely easy to stick to. All I did was start with 1 clean meal everyday. For myself I chose breakfast as my designated meal as it was the first meal of the day and I thought it would be the most productive meal to choose as it would kick start my day each day with healthy energy.
I did some research and found some easy recipes that were very nutritious to choose from. Some of these were scrambled eggs, a smoothie with almond milk, protein powder and frozen fruits, and chicken with rice. And every morning I would have one of my selected meals without any compensation and then would usually go back to my terrible eating habits for the remainder of the day.
Despite the rest of my day not being as productive nutrition wise as it could have been I was slowly gaining the skill of eating healthy by always beginning my day with a healthy meal. While pairing this with the daily walks I was taking in the morning I began to quickly notice that I had way more energy, a way higher drive to tackle the day, and I was losing weight!
Now just a month or two after beginning this healthy breakfast habit I began to have the confidence to more easily cut out more of these bad foods in my diet and I started with my snacks. Instead of having milk chocolate I began having 85% Colombian dark chocolate which is actually considered a brain food! I cut out sugar cereal for better options such as cheerios, frosted mini wheats, Life brand cereals, raisin bran etc. I cut out soda and energy drinks in exchange for tea with honey and these were just to name a few of the replacements in my diet.
Now after doing this for a few months I had a huge confidence boost, I never would have imagined I would have had the willpower to cut out these foods from my diet and be able to stick with it. And with this new found confidence I found slowly transitioning my other 2 meals of the day into much healthier options. Now this was about 6 months later and I was down nearly 40 pounds with 40x the energy level, confidence, motivation, and happiness.
I stuck at this for all of 2019 slowly working on cutting out all the unhealthy foods in my diet. At this point I wasn’t perfect (and I’m still not), I still would have some candy, donuts, fast foods and pastries but the amount of junk food I was eating was drastically decreased compared to the healthier options I was having.
By 2020 I had a very good grasp on my diet and had lots of options for each of my meals so that there were tasty varieties in my diet. I also had the option to go out and eat with friends and family having whatever I please without ruining my progress because I had developed the willpower and habits needed to continue sticking to my diet outside of the social gatherings.
Now let’s fast forward to modern day, it’s 2021 as I write this and I’m 70 pounds lighter, sitting at about 10% body fat, my daily diet is consistent with very little snacking that goes on outside of my diet plan but here’s the part everyone has been waiting for, cheat meals. Now that I have greatly improved my health and restructured my relationship with food I now allow myself once a week a period of time to eat whatever I please. This day for me is Wednesday and on Wednesday’s I feast. One thing to note is after all this time of eating healthy I have to be careful with how much junk food I intake as my body is no longer used to it and if I go too hard It will make me feel like absolute garbage. But that doesn’t stop me from eating these tasty meals within my range and still feeling great. I will usually get some take-out and some sort of sweets to go with it. And it is always worth going the 6 days without any junk food to maintain my health and happiness.
Dieting shouldn’t be torture, dieting should be something that only improves your overall quality of life over time. So many people see dieting as an all or nothing game where they either only eat 100% healthy or not at all, and to me this is just not sustainable in today’s society. Eating your favorite foods is something you should be allowed to do with no downsides, but to get to that level you will need to make a large portion of your eating habits healthy. And as I talked about in this article I think the best way to make your daily eating patterns healthy is by taking it 1 day and 1 meal at a time until it compounds into a great everlasting change to improve your life in every aspect.
One concern people might have reading this is something along the lines of “how can my life be better if I have to eat disgusting plain vegetables instead of eating foods that make me happy” and I understand this completely and had the same thoughts but I can explain why this won’t be an issue. Firstly you won’t have to eat plain vegetables, you can mix them with many different ingredients and sauces, it just takes some easy google searches to find easy and quick recipes. Second, have you ever bought a car or item that you were so very excited about for weeks, but a year or two later you no longer feel that excitement about it each day? The reason this happens is because it becomes your normal and it’s now just the car you drive each day. That’s the same with any habit that is hard at the beginning such as dieting, it may be hard hard for you to transition from your artificially flavor enriched foods you enjoy now to more healthy choices but in a month or less it will just be normal to you. It will no longer be hard to eat healthy once you have done it long enough to make it into a habit and once you begin to feel the benefits of extreme health you will realize this is true long lasting happiness opposed to the short term 10 minute happiness that junk foods bring you. And this is coming from a guy who lived off junk food for most of my life and felt the same way, but now I’m on the other side of this coin and I can say for certain that health creates infinitely more happiness each day than food brings.
Thank you so much for reading today’s article! I hope this was able to bring you value and help you become 1% better today than yesterday! I hope you have an amazing day and an amazing life, if you enjoyed please consider following my Instagram @MichaelFladungFitness!