Let me guess, every diet you try you fail, fall back into old eating habits, and are left researching the next diet you want to try. Every diet sounds so perfect until it isn’t. Here are 3 things that I have experienced that led to diet fatigue, anxiety, and ultimately failure.
When I first started lifting weights in college, I was obsessed with protein. I used any extra money I had to buy the tubs of protein that were on clearance at GNC near my apartment. The protein didn’t taste very good and it was hardly absorbed into milk or water. It was so cheap and clumpy but I had to do what I had to do to gain muscle. Most of the time the majority of the protein would stick to the side of the shaker or blender. I would use my finger to make sure I could scoop out and eat any excess protein that was left on the side of the shaker or blender. I COULD NOT let any protein go to waste! I would also buy the cheapest pork chops and cook as many as I could on my little George Foreman Grill. I never considered vegetables or carbohydrate sources. Sure I ate carbs as well but nothing was as important as PROTEIN. My stomach was always in knots from the awful protein powders and loads of meat I was eating. I attribute a good bit of my heart disease battle to the lack of understanding of how to eat nutritiously in my early 20s. I was so influenced by what I read in the fitness magazines that I was completely unaware of what it was doing to my overall health.
As time went on, I couldn’t sustain what the magazines were telling me to eat. I was naive and uneducated. I was stuffing myself thinking protein was all I needed to get massive in six weeks. I road the protein rollercoaster for many years. It was hard to sustain for long periods of time. I was even setting protein shakes next to my bed to drink when I woke up in the middle of the night. At the time, I thought I had to do it in order to build as much muscle as possible. Thinking back, it was most likely destroying my health. I always felt bloated, looked bloated, and my overall fitness took a hit. I was narrowly focused on one goal, building muscle, while missing out on every other aspect of health. Within that focus, I was also fatigued by trying to consume so much protein. It got to be exhausting, disgusting, and expensive. The scary part was, I couldn’t think of any other way to eat. I was brainwashed. If I didn’t eat enough protein, I was anxious. It was no way to live.
Another bad habit that developed within gym culture was trying to find the next guru who had the secret to building muscle while getting shredded. It seemed with the internet becoming larger and larger and the beginning of fitness YouTubers, there was a ton of new information to consume. It all depended on what rabbit hole you wanted to go down. For me, I grew up a skinny kid, so all I wanted to do was gain muscle. It led me to another bad habit that once again most likely contributed considerably to my heart disease.
I was always looking for that edge or trick to lose weight and put on muscle as quickly as possible. From week to week I would hear of some new miracle system that someone was following to get the results I was looking for. From butter coffee in the morning to eating highly processed, sugary meals immediately post-workout, I was going to get INSANE results in no time. The problem was that these fads were not rooted in long-term data or science to study to effective outcomes of these dietary changes. They were completely anecdotal and most likely not common results. I would read a message board of how someone achieved amazing results and it was all the convincing I needed to try some crazy strategies to gain muscle and lose fat. Once again, these strategies were unhealthy, unsustainable, and flat-out didn’t work. I was always going back to the drawing board looking for the next trick. The real trick I have found is that there is no trick.
As I got into my mid-30s, I was done with the tricks. I knew there was no supplement or voodoo coffee that would secretly get me fit and shredded. I started focusing more on diet. I was at least getting smart enough to know that supplements were not the answers. As I turned my focus to food, I started to read about the Keto Diet and other ways of eating that were coming about. I was intrigued by the Keto Diet because it seemed like a miracle diet! You could eat all the steak you wanted! It fit the concept that protein was king, and so many people were supporting the diet as a way of life. In my mind, I could definitely just eat meat and never have carbohydrates ever again. So I would start the diet. I’d make it a few days and then it would get derailed by one thing or another. It wasn’t sustainable, for me at least. It was okay for a few days but not to build a life around. I had too much going on that I found more reasons to not stick to the diet than to stick with it. The only purpose of eating Keto was to lose weight as fast as possible, and that wasn’t happening either! It was frustrating and of course, this type of dieting brought on more anxiety. The yo-yo dieting continued. It’s crazy to reflect back and realize how much what I was consuming was taking a toll mentally.
I really didn’t find a solution to my dieting problems until I had my second heart attack at 39 years old. At that moment, I faced an existential crisis. How do I eat to make sure I can live into my 80s or 90s? Having suffered two heart attacks at such a young age, living a long healthy life didn’t seem possible unless I made a commitment to major lifestyle changes. The main lifestyle change I had to make was what I was consuming on a daily basis.
So I asked myself, how should I eat to live until I am 100 years old? Now the picture became a little clearer. As I studied heart health I stumbled onto the concept of Blue Zones. Blue Zones are areas of the world studied and documented by Dan Buettner where most centenarians are living. The majority of these areas eat a plant-based diet with very little meat consumption. It was a start for me and how I began to adopt a 100% plant-based vegan diet. It was a diet rooted in science. It was a diet with a ton of data on its effects on heart disease, diabetes, dementia, gut health, and more.
For the first time in my life, I made a dietary decision that promoted longevity and health, not quick, ego-driven results. And after about 9 months of eating a plant-based vegan diet, I have seen results that I have never seen before! I have lost weight without trying. I have gotten lean but kept muscle on as well. I have improved all health markers. The number one thing that is amazing about this lifestyle choice is I no longer have diet fatigue or anxiety. I know what I am doing is promoting long-term wellness and for me that is and always should have been number 1.
It took me to have 2 heart attacks to make these changes. I write this post hoping that someone will avoid the serious health complications I suffered, and make the lifestyle changes needed to live a long, happy, and healthy life. If you want to know more about how I have completely transformed my life, here is my roadmap to a long, healthy life.