With my academics now under control, it’s time to divert my attention back towards my diet and exercise. In my effort to get a good college schedule in order, I have become a little less disciplined in the weight-room and the kitchen. In September, I plan to change this, and here’s how.
:: 30 Days of Healthy Living, Diet Edition ::
For the next 30 days, I will be making a number of changes to my diet. Not all at once--but rather eliminating one thing for the first three weeks, along with finding new, healthy replacements for those things, and then bringing it all together and sustaining the change in the final week of September. Here is the final plan, which I have deeply considered and weighed, and that I find to be completely reasonable and achievable:
:: Week One - Eliminating Fried and Sugary Foods ::
These are the foods that are outright poisonous to your body. McDonald’s yields no nutritional value, nor does that delicious chocolate chip cookie. I still find these salty, belt-busting foods to be tasty, but their outright lack of nutritional value cannot be overemphasized. For the sake of living a long, healthy life, these foods need to go immediately.
:: Choose Healthy Fats ::
Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, and something I already love to eat. In the past I have always eaten them raw, and will likely continue to do that on occasion. Research suggests, however, that soaking them makes for easier digestion, so I’ll be giving that a try, too. I am also intrigued by flaxseeds, which are overflowing with nutrients.
:: Week Two - The Meat Eating Vegan ::
Dairy doesn’t have a huge role in my diet at present. Truthfully, the hardest aspect of giving up dairy will be at breakfast time, when I often put together a sugary bowl of cereal. Considering I’ll be forgoing sugary foods during week one, this should not be an issue. I’ve never liked cheese, which makes this aspect of being vegan effortless.
I will also give up chocolate, which is something I often eat out of habit or in the spur of the moment when I’m stressed or have cravings. A little dose of mindfulness should make giving up chocolate a realistic and sustainable.
:: Culinary Artistry ::
I love fruits, and I am warming up to vegetables. I’m a big fan of salads, but not the right kinds of salads. The salads I claim are superb are generally drenched in dressings, meat, and other ingredients. For week two, I plan to up my intake of each, minus the condiments and other unhealthy ingredients.
An eighteen year old male that gets between 30-60 minutes of exercise per day should, according to ChooseMyPlate, be taking in approximately 2.5 cups of fruits and 3.5 cups of vegetables per day. This means eating 3-4 fruits a day, as well as a large salad and some veggies for snacks and sides. This will require me to be more creative come meal time. I’ve avoided food creativity for as long as I could, but it’s time to overcome the fear of trying new foods and combinations of foods.
:: Week Three - Vegan ::
By now, I will be more comfortable with consuming no dairy, will have upped my fruit and veggie intake, and my body will be more accustomed to consuming almonds, flaxseeds, and any other nuts I decide to test drive. I’ll be ripe for becoming a vegan, and will bid farewell to meat. Hopefully after week two my palate will be feeling more adventurous and giving up meat will be less terrifying, and actually healthy.
Everything I have read, whether it be about becoming vegetarian, vegan, or simply more healthy, has indicated that I should be consuming more beans. I’m a novice on the subject of beans. Outright clueless. That’s what I want to change. Unfortunately many beans cannot be eaten raw, and thus are less conveniently consumed, and so I plan to start doing my fair share of research throughout the month so that when September 15 arrives, I’ll be ready to start preparing beans and making educated decisions on what kind of beans to eat and how to eat them.
:: Week Four - Sustain ::
Each week sustains the sacrifice of the previous week. For example: During week two, I will be giving up dairy and chocolate, as well as fried and sugary foods from the week before. During week three, I will be giving up dairy, chocolate, fried foods, sugary foods, along with meat. Get the idea?
That in mind, week four is the same as week three, but it’s intended to be a challenge of consistency. By week four, I should be more comfortable with being vegan than I’ve ever been. It’ll still be challenging and confusing, but it’ll be clear by this point whether it is or is not possible. Week four is when I begin to dig deeper into the vegan lifestyle and try new things.
:: Cutting Caffeine Cold Turkey ::
After giving colas up in July, I realized that my addiction to caffeine is gone. I generally drink soda for convenience or to taste something other than water. The urge, however, is largely nonexistent. Therefore I see no reason to consume a cola more than once a week, if at all. Instead I plan to drink plenty of orange juice and, of course, water.
:: 30 Days of Healthy Living, Exercise Edition ::
My focus: Exercise for 30 minutes six days per week. I want to stick to my current exercise regime, as I find it to be very promising and suited to my individual goals, but what’s most important is that I get out there and do something. If I don’t workout 26 days this September, I have failed.
:: Accountability ::
This will all be for naught if someone doesn’t keep me accountable. I’m a strong believer in self-accountability, but experience has taught me that whenever the subject is dietary or fitness oriented, it’s good to have external forces keeping you accountable, too. It’s too easy, after all, to rationalize your way into eating a cookie or getting some ice cream.
Therefore, I am pledging to write one blog post per day detailing what I’ve eaten, what physical exercise I’ve undergone, and any temptations or relevant thoughts I have. Not only will this allow me to organize my thoughts and frequently recall why I’m doing what I’m doing, but it will give my awesome readers the chance to call me out whenever I make a mistake.
Please, keep me accountable. I will thank you eternally for it.
Photo is the current state of my parents’ refrigerator. It isn’t always this filled, but my coming in for Labor Day weekend has spurred them to put together an all-out family BBQ. In a few weeks, most of those items will be strictly off-limits.