Matt Jager on Plant Based Nutrition and Creating Healthy Habits
I hope you’re ready to be inspired, because this week we’re back with another interview.
You may remember a couple of weeks ago when I brought to you the lovely Sarah Argo of Southern Blonde Vegan. Super-mum, vegan recipe blogger, and Instagram extraordinaire. I had some great feedback from that post, so I thought why not bring you another dose of positive energy!
Today we’re sticking with the plant powered theme, and I’m really happy to share with you a new friend of mine: Matt Jager.
Matt is a blogger, habit forming specialist, and just all round nice guy. We crossed paths not long ago, and I soon had him down as someone with a great message and story to share, and I wanted to get that across to you guys asap. So here we are!
In the interview we chat about his journey towards a plant-based diet, how he overcame the obstacles on the way, and Matt even drops some knowledge on what you can do to start developing healthy habits of your own…
It’s a cool interview, and I really think you’ll get something valuable from it.
So enough chit chat from me, let’s get to it!
1/ Thanks for joining us Matt, why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself and your background?
Pleasure to be here! Well, I reached my peak at age 14 when I placed 4th in my age group at the World Power Tumbling Championships. It’s all been pretty much downhill from there…
Just kiddin, life has only gotten better!
It is my great joy and privilege to serve an awesome community of folks interested in reconnecting to health and happiness through my website www.DontLoseTheCow.com
2/ When and why did you decide to embark on this plant based journey?
During my last year of college I ended up taking a yoga class from an older woman, and I was absolutely astounded at how healthy she was.
She was maybe in her 50’s or 60’s, but was doing back bends, push ups, and basically running circles around all us 20-year olds. I was so impressed that I told her, “I want to know what you know. Anything you tell me to do, I’ll at least give it a try.”
Well she really ran with that! Next thing I knew I was off to a 10-day silent meditation retreat and found myself on a strict 100% raw food diet!
I felt absolutely incredible, but the burden of trying to maintain the lifestyle was barely worth it. So I kept the best from the raw food days and now follow a more moderate plant-based lifestyle.
3/ I understand that the transition to eating healthily wasn’t quite as smooth as you might have hoped. What obstacles did you come across on the way?
Ah yes, I do have a special talent for doing things the hard way. Well I didn’t know how to cook, period, so learning to prepare healthy plant-based meals from scratch took a ton of time and effort. I wandered the aisles of the grocery store looking for ingredients I’d never heard of, I spent a small fortune on super foods and other items I didn’t really need, and I made a ton of mediocre and sometimes inedible food.
I also didn’t quite know how to navigate restaurants, travel, holidays, and social situations, so I became quite the health hermit. And then there is the infamous pie incident. After three days on my raw food diet, I sat down for dinner and ate an entire marionberry pie!
Is that enough embarrassment for one interview?
The silver lining to all this is that through my own struggle, I became intimately familiar with the challenges that every single person faces when they decide to get healthy. And doing everything wrong initially started me on a quest to figure out how to do things right.
This led to two years of research and experimentation, followed by three years working at a holistic healing center specializing in plant-based nutrition, and now to helping others make it as easy as possible to look and feel their best.
4/ What benefits have you seen since eating this way?
It has done so much for the way I experience life. In a matter of weeks I lost weight, all my aches, pains, acne, and allergies lessened considerably or disappeared altogether, I slept like a rock, woke up full of energy, and I started getting compliments on my skin — which was pretty weird for a guy!
It’s been over five years now, and feeling optimal is the new normal.
I’m far from perfect, but when I eat right, move just a little, and get enough sleep, I generally feel fantastic. I rarely get sick, eat as much as I need to feel satisfied without worrying about gaining weight, have a positive, healthy relationship with food, and enjoy a much higher quality of life than I did previously. I can’t imagine going back.
5/ You’re someone who really focuses on the habit forming process. What do you think are the biggest mistakes people commonly make when they try forming a new habit?
I think that biggest mistake we make is expecting too much for our own willpower. Lets say you find yourself with an especially gnarly afternoon sugar craving. Many people will try and quit cold turkey. No more afternoon snack, plus I’m going to start exercising an hour a day!
But we aren’t very successful at quitting a bad habit just like that. Instead, the Golden Rule of Habit Change is to switch the contents of the habit — to change it from a bad habit to a good one. So when that afternoon sugar craving hits, you can choose a better substitute — a piece of fruit or a cup of stevia sweetened tea for example.
6/ If someone was looking to help their children transition towards eating more plants, what ideas would you suggest?
I like to be totally upfront about what kind of questions I can answer, and which ones I can’t.
I have three amazing nephews and a niece, but I don’t have any experience raising children of my own. Honestly, I think it’s a bit of a miracle that my brother can get his kids to eat anything! I’m in awe of all the parents out there who dedicate themselves so completely to the health and well-being of their children.
So rather than giving pointers that I myself haven’t had a chance to put to the test, I’d prefer to recommend a book called Baby Greens. It was written by a dear friend of mine and is a great resource for parents looking to help their kids eat more plants.
7/ Outside of the blogging and diet related stuff, what else makes you tick/keeps you motivated?
I wish I had a more exciting answer for you, but the honest truth is that I just love the simple things in life.
I live in a no-stoplight small town in Southern Arizona with my wonderful partner Regan, and I love the day to day life that we share with our friends. Making food, meditating, walking in nature, biking around town, playing music, making occasional trips into civilization to see a movie and enjoy some plant-based Ethiopian food.
It’s the small things for me.
8/ If you had a motto to live your life by, what would it be?
Live your life in a way that uplifts the entire web of life, that creates health and well-being for yourself, your family, your community, the ecology, and all living things.
9/ What’s next for Matt Jager and Don’t Lose The Cow?!
We are so fortunate to live in this point in history. I believe we have all the information and technology that we need to explode human potential, solve our biggest global challenges, and live healthy and happy lives. The information is at our fingertips, we just have to put it into practice.
My small part to play in all this is to be a catalyst — to do all I can to help make it as easy and accessible as humanly possible for others to, as you so nicely put it, eat plants, move freely, live mindfully and exist sustainably.
For now, this means creating online programs to help others put the principles into practice in their daily lives. In the future, I’d love to explore ways to empower individuals to create local support networks in their own communities.
10/ Anything else you want to share with the readers before we wrap up?
Thank you for having me, and thank you so much for reading! I have an infographic that I think your readers might find useful. It’s a simple framework for putting together plant-based meals in 5 minutes or less.
I call it the Chipotle Method, and I’d be more than happy to send your readers a free PDF.
My take home message is always this: The journey to health is often a bumpy one, but if you just keep at it you will succeed. Progress over perfection. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall of the wagon as long as you get back on. It doesn’t matter how many times you spill the milk as long as you don’t lose the cow.
I hope you readers enjoyed it and took something away that resonates with you. If you did, as always, the next step is to take action!
I strongly encourage you pay a visit to Matt’s site Don’t Lose the Cow.
Along with a huge collection of useful, entertaining articles on plant based nutrition and habit forming, you can get your hands on a free copy of Matt’s Chipotle Method: a simple guide to making delicious plant powered meals in no time.
I’ve used it, and it works a treat. So go check it out!!!