Trying to consistently eat healthy foods in college is a nightmare. Everywhere I look, I’m surrounded by cheap, fatty dining hall foods. These offer little to no nutritional benefit, but are still tempting because they’re just so convenient. Most people my age have no experience cooking for themselves, and no interest in spending time and effort learning, so they settle for fast food and meals from the dining hall.

I spent my freshman and sophomore years of college living off a steady diet of deli sandwiches, dining hall pasta, pizza, and red meats; so trust me, I know the feeling well. Sure, I saw people whose diets were a lot more gluttonous than mine, but I knew that eating like a 12-year-old was holding me back on and off the court. I needed to grow up and adjust my diet to fit the nutritional needs of a 20-year-old athlete, and training at TB12™ gave me the chance to do exactly that.

 

ONE STEP AT A TIME

As much as I wanted to jump right in and start a completely new diet, I knew that making a sudden change like that would never work for me. I had to take the process slow and focus on eating the right foods one meal at a time. My first change was switching my daily lunch from sandwiches to salads. I always enjoyed a side salad with dinner once in awhile, but I had honestly never viewed salads as a viable lunch option for me until I started the TB12 Method. Minimizing the carbs and fat I ate by switching off deli meat sandwiches was a great first step for me nutrition-wise, and it helped me realize that small improvements to my diet would set me on the path towards a healthier lifestyle.

I piggybacked off of that by phasing out more of the junk foods that I’d indulged in: pizza, fries, snack foods like chips and crackers, candy, sugary sports drinks, and all forms of fast food. As weird as it sounds, it was a lot easier for me to start by cutting out the unhealthy stuff rather than adding new foods to my diet, so I really had to challenge myself to be a more adventurous eater in order to make even more progress. I swapped out the canned and frozen veggies that were a staple of my college diet for fresh, local produce from the market close to my school — that was one of the first big breakthroughs I made. Buying real, natural foods also gave me the chance to try some new veggies, so kale, spinach, broccoli, artichokes, and cauliflower all became part of my regular diet as a result. My newfound love for veggies helped me cut down on high-carb sides like pasta and potatoes, and gave me a new, healthier alternative to the snack foods I had always relied on to quell my appetite.

 

SMALL SETBACKS WON’T TEAR ME DOWN

The first major bump in the road hit about a month into my time at TB12, when the dining hall at my school brought in a soft serve ice cream machine. I was feeling great and eating better than I ever had before, but there was nothing I could do to shake the craving for an ice cream cone after dinner. Ice cream had always been my vice. Every time I went home to see my family during the school year, I would arrive to a freezer loaded with ice cream, and I never quite had the willpower to resist. Thank god there was no ice cream at the dining hall my freshman year! I had myself convinced that it wasn’t a big deal, and that one small ice cream cone was not going to undo all the progress I had made. My roommates naturally saw it as an opportunity to make fun of me for having a moment of weakness, and one of them jokingly asked me, “What would Tom do?” His goal was really to rub in the fact that I was betraying the TB12 Method for a cheap dining hall ice cream cone, but it got me thinking.

WHAT WOULD TOM DO?

Well, the greatest quarterback of all time sure as hell wouldn’t be wasting his time with dining hall ice cream, I knew that for sure — if he were to have ice cream, it would be TB12-approved avocado ice cream. Right then, I bolted out of that ice cream line and have not been back since.

It started as a joke at my expense, but that line really stuck with me. I committed myself to living out the TB12 Method, and in doing so, I committed to modeling my training after Tom Brady’s. The question of “What would Tom do?” has become my personal mantra over the last year and has helped guide me through the day-to-day challenges that come with intense training and new dietary habits.

I know it probably sounds a little weird, but I see it as a great way to make sure that the daily decisions I make align with the TB12 Method. On days when I’m exhausted and don’t want to work out, even though I know I need to, I use that mantra to get myself motivated and keep my training on track. It doesn’t always have to be a full workout, either; but even on my off-days I love to get up from the couch and go for a hike or play basketball with some friends. On the rare nights when I’m feeling lazy and just want to sit around and order pizza for dinner, my mind always finds its way to the simple question of what Tom Brady would do if he were in my shoes.

That mantra was exactly what I needed to get over the initial hump and commit myself to living out the TB12 Method in every possible way.

That Tom Brady mentality is so ingrained in my habits that I now cannot escape harassment any time my friends or family members see me doing something they think Tom would not approve of. I broke down and had ice cream over the summer for the first time all year, and of course my younger brothers mocked me relentlessly for being weak and eating something Tom never would. My family got some good laughs out of it, but even that was enough to get them hooked on the “What would Tom do?” mantra. I just had to remind myself that Tom didn’t become Tom overnight, and maybe he even indulges in something not entirely TB12-approved now and then. The real point is that I’m making sure my habits and choices help me maximize my own peak performance every single day.

 

STEP BY STEP

You really don’t have to be an elite athlete to see measurable benefits from adapting Tom’s mentality to your own life. Absolutely anyone can use that same mentality to live out a healthy TB12 lifestyle. You’re not going to make a total life change like that right away, though, so do what I’ve done and use this attitude to break it up piece by piece. Start by trying a few TB12-aligned meals this week, or cut out some junk foods you love to eat, or commit to getting to the gym so you can try out some new TB12 exercises on the app. Start with small steps and you’ll soon see yourself forming really positive habits.

Oh, and don’t be afraid to ask yourself “What would Tom do?”

 

The Athletes’ Journal will provide you with a first-person narrative on the TB12 Method, covering pliability exercises, workouts, hydration, nutrition, cognitive exercises, and rest. Our first TB12 Athlete, Drew, has been training at the TB12 Sports Therapy Center and living the Method for over a year as he pursues his goal of playing Olympic Team Handball. This is his second Athletes’ Journal, be on the lookout for more!

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