SORRY MOM & DAD: I swear I don’t have an eating disorder

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    Justin lost more than 20 pounds in three weeks while on a plant-based diet.

    As I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror, wondering if I should get Invisalign, I noticed that my love handles looked like large, deadly tumors nestled on the sides of my body. I lifted my shirt up to discover I had a muffin top. So I decided to weigh myself. When I stepped on the scale, I saw that I was 230.6 pounds.

    “Oh my God! I’m Kevin James,” I said, which was the polar opposite of when I would get plastered in college and scream, “I’m Rick James, bitch.” As the skinny kid in high school who graduated at 144 pounds, I never thought I’d ever be [gulp] fat. But it happened.

    I’m too attractive to be fat. I have a face for television — but a body for radio. I guess it’s the perfect balance for me to work in print journalism. So when I decided to take on a 22-day plant-based diet from the book, “The 22-Day Revolution,” by Jay-Z and Beyonce’s trainer/life coach, Marco Borges, I decided to share my vegan and gluten-free journey with readers. As a reporter, I found myself putting my diet on the bottom of my list of priorities.

    As soon as I shared the beginning of my journey to get rid of my dad-bod, I was instantly greeted by haters. Michael Tyahur took to Facebook to say: “This dude sucks at reporting the news.” He’s in a band — or so it appears by his Facebook profile — so he must know what he’s talking about, right? Also, judging that only one person Liked his status posted May 23 saying, “Anybody tryina jam today?” he doesn’t seem to be an expert at his own shit. So critiquing columns is probably his forte.

    On a more related note, Rob Miller commented on Facebook that the 22-day revolution wasn’t a diet, but an “eating disorder.” Sorry, Mom and Dad, but Rob is wrong. I don’t have an eating disorder. After following the 22-day revolution, I’ve reset my habits and adopted a healthier lifestyle.

    In case you’re interested in following the buzzed-about “revolution,” here are five tips to successfully reset your habits and change your life — based on my personal experience only.

    1. Ground rules

    This lifestyle change consists of a plant-based meal-plan. Understand that you’ll be vegan and gluten free for 22 days. That’s a big commitment. It’s the healthiest option for you, but it’s not for everyone. Before you waste your time — and your money — mentally prepare yourself to go without meat, dairy and wheat products.

    2. Actually read the book

    Inside “The 22-Day Revolution,” you’ll find over 65 healthy vegan recipes. Don’t just follow the recipes; actually read the book. In the book, Borges breaks down facts about the food you’re eating — and not eating — to educate you along the way. He also motivates you to keep going when you might feel like giving up. Reading the book keeps you stay well-informed and motivated. And who wouldn’t want daily messages from Queen Bey’s life-coach?

    3. Redefine what a “cheat meal” is for three weeks

    For the next 22 days, you won’t be getting a cheat meal. I found it easy to give myself three opportunities to redefine my “cheat meal” by eating out with my friends — and selecting the healthiest option. This will help you not feel ostracized from social settings and will give you the opportunity to practice making healthier habits at restaurants. I went to Kildare’s in Scranton on their burger night with a friend and ordered a veggie burger with no bun, topped with guacamole and pico de gallo and vegetables on the side. I also popped my Eden — A Vegan Cafe cherry with a vegan grilled cheese and had a vegan cheese sandwich at Nucleus Raw Foods in Luzerne.

    4. Skip dessert for some alcohol

    The meal-plan says absolutely no alcohol — but they do allow two vegan desserts to be eaten; each to be tried once at any point throughout the diet. It’s summer. I’d rather drink. I skipped the desserts. Instead, on Day 21, I traded them for three vodka drinks mixed with water and fresh lemon.

    5. Repeat your favorite recipes

    Some of the recipes are gross, but most of them are actually delicious. I made sure to try everything during the first 11 days. After that, when something didn’t sound appetizing, I just repeated another recipe in the book. My favorites are the vegetable curry, Gluten-free Pasta (with homemade sauce) and Hummus Tartine with Sprouts. Find your favorites and after the 22 days, consistently incorporate them into your diet.

    After 22 days, I lost 21.6 — weighing 209 — and I’m feeling proud, great and healthy. I recommend this to everyone.