It’s not as if I am not one of those hopelessly self indulgent types… I just like eating!
When you think about it, food is the most natural crutch to help us through the tough times – as well as celebrate the good times. Tough day at the office? Treat yourself to a glass of Rosé and curl up on the sofa with some cheap and greasy takeaway. Heavy night on the tiles? Go get yourself a fry-up with toast and maybe a little hair of the dog stirred into your coffee? Bad Break-up? Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice-cream, Stat!
We all do it, and this is the first hurdle that I have had to overcome as I try to change myself into a Hero. My diet is atrocious, and I never met a sweet or savoury snack I didnt like. But for all of last week, I decided to strip out the saturated fats and the dirty carbs, in favour of something a little lighter.
Rather than go for one of the many ‘fad diets’ out there, I have decided to keep things simple – if only so I can decide for myself what works best for me. I don’t have anything against calorie controlled this, or Atkins that, I just know that often they can be more than a little extreme, and I have seen more than one person who isn’t able to keep up with the demands of their diet. So I have opted simply to replace the bad food I eat with more wholesome alternatives and completely remove the wicked little pleasures I usually keep lying around. In theory, my plan was to replace my white bread and pasta with wholemeal alternatives, and try and use fruits and vegetables to provide a more balanced intake. After something of a shaky start, I finally managed to settle into something of a routine – which actually has been working for me.
Firstly, I skipped my usual morning bacon or sausage roll in favour of fruits, usually a banana or a portion of seedless grapes, and substituted a morning cuppa for a couple of glasses of water. It sounds pretty innocuous at first, but this small adjustment did have me feeling a little healthier in the mornings especially before work. It also gave me an oddly positive burst of energy which helped me wake up naturally without needing the false energy you usually get from caffiene or carbs. I try to follow up the positive start at lunch time by cutting out the usual mainstays, such as sandwiches, instead opting for home made salads and soups. It may not sound like much, but after I settled into a routine where I was only eating good wholesome food, it showed just how much I eat that I dont need to. However when it came to my main meal in the evening, thats when my diet adjustments first hit upon a major setback
Since most of my intake resolved around takeaways and microwave meals, I was never particularly good at cooking. Beforehand, this wouldn’t matter to me in the slightest, but as I realised just how much control I needed to exert over my food intake, I came to understand how much more effective it would be if I had more culinary skill. So already my diet has helped to encourage at least one piece of lasting change, namely by forcing me to cook these good foods for myself – finally developing some much needed kitchen skills. Ok, I’m still no Gorden Ramsay (I dont swear while I cook except for when I burn myself…), but now I can bake my own potatoes and prepare a few simple and easy dishes that wont spend a lifetime on the hips.
The hardest part of the adjustment for me came from trying to use more self control. After all, the best diet is only as strong as the person doing it, which means I had to learn to say no to my favourite snacks and treats. I wish it was as easy as saying don’t buy any, but we live in an age where temptation is quite literally everywhere. When I started my diet on the Monday, I found myself becoming the victim of no less than 3 office cake stalls, and birthdays throughout the week. I also found the prospect of the much anticipated ‘team night out’ to be a little less appealing, as I realised I needed to control myself and stay off the hard stuff. It sounds so simple to just have one or two drinks, but when you suddenly decide that one or two is not enough, and before you know it, it’s 3 am and you are queued up outside the local chippy.
While we’re on the subject, it would be remiss of me to not admit that I have not been as good as gold. Having a diet like my old one, only to swap to such a different one, means mistakes and slip ups are likely to happen. The important thing though is recognising that when we do give in to our food-based vices, it’s important to keep trying. Going cold turkey, or cold Subway in my case, is a massive adjustment – but it’s not impossible. So if you slip up just take it on the chin and get straight back on the wagon and let the results speak for themselves.
When I came to the end of my first week of dieting, I was sure that there would not be any change in my weight. If anything the changes in my diet had left me feeling a little bloated for the first few days, so I prepared myself and expected that at best I would hold steady. Imagine my surprise then when I stepped on and checked my reading.
Name: Scott McMullon
Weight: 12 stone 2 pounds
Sure, 4 pounds is not a massive adjustment, but just seeing that small bit of improvement was enough of a start that I felt like I could keep this on. More importantly though, I didn’t reward my good behaviour by indulging in snacks, and instead opted for buying myself a nice new shirt for a night out that I had planned for the next week.
This week, I am starting at the gym and undertaking a hard exercise regime to sculpt my body and my mind in order to get ready for the next steps I need to take in becoming a self-made fitness hero. I push myself harder and further than I ever have in my life, and all to prove that with hard work, and commitment, we are capable of doing anything with our bodies.