I grew up in the great Midwestern town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. For anyone who has had the fortune of visiting this growing college town, you’ve probably felt it to be liberal, educated, and health and environmentally conscious.
I attended college in this great city, so I was essentially home for the first 23 years of my life. (I took that 5th year like a champ).
I played college athletics and didn’t have any regard for nutrition aside from fueling me for competition. I could run on protein and calories and never gain any weight. Chicken fingers and fries were a staple in my weekly diet. Mmmm.
When I moved to take my first coaching job, it led me to the Deep South, Sweet Home Alabama.
With an obesity rate of over 33% and delicious BBQ at every corner, paired with my next to nothing ability to prepare a proper meal; led to me gaining 30lbs of pulled pork weight within the span of 3 years.
It was a slow, gradual gain. The excess pounds were added thanks to frequent trips to pick up sandwiches at lunch and picking up dinner on the way home from practice.
As I saw my face get puffier, my joints get achier, my energy plummet, and the weight on the scale go up; I decided I needed to up my workout game.
Running was going to be the game changer.
I ran miles and miles and miles. I set goals to run a marathon. All that did was make me want to eat even more. I found reasons to eat more carbs because that’s what I heard other runners talk about. Stress on the body led to more stress on the body and no weight was lost.
I continued to eat like crap, but I thought I was working hard enough to negate the effects. I was wrong and going nowhere but to more pain and frustration.
As an athlete or any other type of driven person, you are led to believe that working harder leads to breakthroughs and success.
Vegetables intimidated me. I didn’t know my way around a kitchen. What you most need to do is usually outside your comfort zone. I went to the nearest market and filled my basket with vegetables and protein. I bought the items, so I had no choice but to eat them. Seeing food spoil in your refrigerator is like throwing money out of your window. (This is a key lesson. Don’t give yourself an option and create a pain point to not fulfilling your intended outcome.)
I cut up the veggies like I saw in the magazines and a quick Google search, threw some salt and pepper on them, drizzled some olive oil on them and threw them in the oven to roast. It was very spartan at first, and still is most of the time. The most important thing is that I’m eating vegetables instead of french fries every night.
Learning to prepare vegetables to my liking was the first step to this process, but the next is neither revolutionary nor intelligent. It just works.
Lunch. The one meal that causes so many issues in the working world. (If you think it’s breakfast, read this.)
Lunch meetings at restaurants, doughnuts in the break room, grabbing a sandwich from the nearest shop; we are all in a hurry and want comfort when times get hectic and stressful. That comfort comes in the form of breads, sugars, and empty carbs. Soooo good, yet not helpful if you are trying to lose a couple lbs.
To combat this from happening, I used the cook once, eat twice method or eating leftovers from last night. You’ve used this before, the only difference is I did this every day during the week. All you do is cook two portions of dinner, save half, and take that to work the next day.
It saves time and your sanity. You don’t have to create 24 different meals for the entire week, you aren’t left wondering what you’re going to make for lunch in the morning or where you can get a healthy meal.
I credit my entire transformation to this system. Cling to the systems that work for you and they will take you to your goals or beyond.
“My problem with goals is that they are limiting. Granted, if you focus on one particular goal, your odds of achieving it are better than if you have no goal. But you also miss out on opportunities that might have been far better than your goal. Systems, however, simply move you from a game with low odds to a game with better odds. With a system you are less likely to miss one opportunity because you were too focused on another. With a system, you are always scanning for any opportunity.” -Scott Adams
In the end, this is simple. It’s obvious. But, it is not easy. It’s not easy to stick to your meal that you brought when the boss ordered lunch from your favorite taco joint, or someone brings Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the morning and your favorite chocolate glazed ones are staring at you.
Stick to your system. Have patience and consistency and you will see and feel the results you crave.
Originally published at medium.com