How To Screw Up Your Diet – A Personal Story
I was nineteen years old. I had successfully cut for the summer before – I knew what I was doing, right?
Be Objective, Don’t Fool Yourself
First year of university had been unkind to me. Or at least, that’s how I perceived it at the time, being the typical dumb kid who refuses to take responsibility. Lots of alcohol had been consumed. In fact, every single week involved at least two nights out. Wow.
Whilst it is possible to stay lean whilst drinking alcohol regularly (the link above details recommendations on how to do so), and I’ve proven this over the last twelve months, it’s not possible if you lose control with your food intake.
Eating McDonald’s after every night out will prevent you from staying lean.
Only performing cardio once per week will prevent you from staying lean.
Eating copious amounts of high sugar cereal every night will make you fat as hell.
These are all examples of terrible habits, which are very difficult to eliminate. Ideally, it would be best not to start them in the first place, but some bad habits aren’t too destructive, as long as you have the correct habits in place.
This appears to be the case, as I’ve technically “got away with murder” this past year – staying very, very lean year-round, whilst drinking regularly and eating some junk food quite regularly. How have I managed this?
I would say the main points would be:
- Having a very “chilled” mindset – never going too extreme with anything.
- Performing a decent amount of cardio.
- Intermittent Fasting – and eating LOADS of vegetables in the evening.
These habits give you a great amount of freedom. The mindset means it’s ok if you cock up occasionally – no big deal. Performing cardio twice per week and doing IF gives you a huge amount of autonomy – think of it as a buffer – you have far more room for error than you would do otherwise.
Cramming vegetables down your throat every evening is obviously great for your health and energy levels, but also for keeping you full – CRUCIAL if you’re a greedy pig by nature, like myself. It can taste great if you add the right spices etc.
But, the problem is that I was doing none of this when I was a dumb nineteen year old. You can get away with dumb stuff if you are doing all the right things, but I wasn’t.
I was performing half the amount of cardio, wasn’t doing IF, and was eating very little veg. Not good!
But everything would be fine, I told myself. I had eight weeks until mid July; when my summer holiday in Greece was booked. I would be able to get lean in eight weeks, I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again. Or will I?
Two weeks in, I had lost two pounds. Okay great, you may be thinking. But there was virtually no visual change in the mirror. Nothing really seemed to be happening. Was I really that fat, whereby two pounds didn’t make any difference at all?
Four weeks passed – another pound. Ohhhhh shit. We’re halfway there, and I look barely any better. I was light-years from where I was last summer – a very lean and chiselled sonofabitch…how the hell did I do it? Why is it SO DIFFICULT now??
I thought “screw it”. I’m going to seek some assistance.
No, I know what you’re thinking. Not anabolics. Stimulants. These would surely stop me eating as much, and help me push through the plateau. Surely??
They did. The following week, I lost a further three pounds! YES! There was a noticeable change in the mirror, granted, I looked a bit flat, and had lost significant strength, but at least I had finally started to make some noticeable progress.
What happened over the next few weeks was nothing short of disastrous. I lost absolutely no weight. But why? I’d done so well in the previous week. What went wrong?
I had adapted to the ridiculous caffeine intake, becoming dependent on it, and now I was completely adapted to the stuff, it failed to have an impact on my appetite. However, when I stopped taking it, my appetite went through the roof.
So during the last few weeks of my diet, I yo-yo-ed back and forth like an absolute tool, at about 15% body fat, when I had planned to be comfortably sat at 10%. Miserable fail.
Also, I couldn’t sleep properly on the stuff, therefore, my strength plummeted. The end result was me sat at 15% body fat, looking unusually crap by my usual standards, and feeling weak and fatigued as hell. I felt awful in just about every way possible.
What Can We Learn
There were two catastrophic mistakes I made.
- I had underestimated my starting body fat – leaving myself with too little time.
- I had failed to maintain positive habits throughout the year, these habits are what breed long-term success.
Leaving yourself with too little time causes you to put yourself into a very rushed mindset, which tends to restrict autonomy and you end up seeking external assistance, which is never sustainable – so don’t go there in the first place.
If you don’t already have good habits, start. Then never quit. You can actually “get away with murder” if you continue them – they carry you through the rough patches. They provide you with dieting freedom, an abundance mentality, and sustainability.
This abundance is the opposite of the traditional dieter’s mindset – scarcity and deprivation.
Don’t make the same mistakes as I did. Give yourself plenty of time, and maintain your freedom.