But traditions don't have to last -- Adam Sandler was once funny. I was a man eating "manly" fried foods of bread and red meat. "Moderation" wasn't in my vocabulary; Fat Rich thought healthy, whole foods were for dorks who enjoyed eating cardboard. Sugar was my best friend, there for me in sadness, but also as a reward after victories.
I still felt like shit, still hated my body, still felt tired like a bad metaphor joke. My long-term health worried me. So I made a few small changes: I started walking places, and made the Herculean effort of stopping myself after two plates of food. Crazy, I know! My weight dropped closer to 300lbs and stayed there for some time. In denial, I thought, Hey, 300lbs is OK, I'm just a naturally big guy. I didn't realize how unhealthy I was until I had lost 75lbs and kept losing weight.
Overcoming the dreaded weight-loss plateau
Motivating myself to lose weight by dreaming of having bulging biceps and six-pack abs never worked. It seemed too lofty a goal -- I would never look like a dude starring in a summer blockbuster, or even an extra in an Under Armour commercial. Go figure, focusing on the aesthetic was all wrong.
One day, it clicked for me: I stopped thinking about what I wanted to look like, and instead focused on how I wanted to feel. Having a healthy inside became the goal, rather than a Joe Manganiello exterior.
It sounds simple, but it had a profound effect by shifting the focus from an impossible goal to a result in the not-distant future. Unhealthy food moved from a pleasurable temptation I denied myself, to a cause that produced a negative internal result. Turning my mind from the process of "I can't have that," to "I can have that, but I don't want it," was the engine that powered me through the plateau.
What I did to make it happen
First, I cut out soda. Then, over time, I removed as much processed, sugary foods as possible. Allowing myself one slice of cake or a cookie at parties kept my sanity. I stopped asking for more free bread. Over time the weight began to drop.
Mine was a slow process with many hiccups, and it certainly wasn't easy. I knew I was an addict, so I had to think like one. A trick I still use is to make my own trail mix with lots of nuts, seeds, and a small amount of dried fruit (not chocolate). Chia seeds stick to raisins, pro tip. Avoiding my favorite candy aisles made me feel like a 5-year-old junkie, but feeling that foolish made me realize how foolish junk food is in general.
The hardest times are when you're not in control of the food selection, like work functions, family parties, or going out with friends. A combination of planning ahead (trail mix) and white knuckles gets me through. No one touches the vegetable tray, so there's plenty to eat. No matter how much support you have, temptation will always be there, so being able to recover from bad days is key to moving forward. I always tried not to let one bad day turn into two. Because you know the bad days will come.