In January 2009, Andrew Wilder parked his car and started to walk. “The lot was level, but I felt like I was walking through molasses. My body did not want to move.” He was 32.
“I had this moment: ‘Something’s wrong here.’ ” Back then, living in Santa Monica, he was a self-described “junk-food vegetarian,” eating mostly veggie burgers and fries, white pasta and not much produce.
So Wilder improved his diet and began exercising. Now foods have to pass his “Kitchen Test,”—as in they could be made in a home kitchen. (Not that they have to be: think foods like artisan bread, yogurt and honey.) Since his aha moment, he’s lost 30 pounds and feels better than ever.
Bursting with enthusiasm, he’s now helping others find the same joy in eating healthy with his blog, EatingRules.com. His mantra is simple: “Healthy eating doesn’t have to suck.”
His biggest success has been October Unprocessed, a month-long challenge to ditch processed food. Participants sign a pledge and Wilder gives daily tips and recipes.
“Even if they do it for a day and that’s a big step for them, that’s awesome!” Ultimately, he adds, it’s an awareness exercise. “It’s about thinking about what we’re putting in our bodies.” Wilder suggests doing it with a buddy. “Because then it will be more like a game and not work—and healthy eating should never be work.”
In 2009, Wilder did what many of us have done: he ranted on Facebook. He had made some improvements, but realized he was still eating a lot of junk.
So he asked his friends if they wanted to join him in eating no processed foods for a month. Just two accepted. “We set up rules, cooked together, emailed each other with recipes. It was a lot of fun and we became closer friends.”
In 2010, after he began his blog, about 400 took part in October Unprocessed. Last year, more than 15,600 people joined. “People take the pledge seriously. It’s causing lasting change. They tell me it’s gotten them eating differently. They’ve lost weight and become healthier. This is what keeps me going.”