My friend, Dedra, had the worst diet of just about anyone I’ve ever known. D kept candy bars in her night stand, if that tells you anything. Of all my friends, she was one of the two I was convinced would never change their poor eating habits. Food-wise, I gave up on her years ago. Little did I expect what was to come.

Dedra and her coworkers go paleo for 21 days every January. They did it again this year and, as usual, D went back to her normal eating habits at 21 days and 01 minute. Once she was back on her normal routine, she realized how good she felt for the 3 weeks on paleo. Within days, she saw a food documentary on Netflix, Hungry For Change, and it rocked her world. For the first time in her 30++ years (ha!), she started to see the correlation between what she ate and how she felt.

Instead of being hooked on sugar, Dedra became hooked on food documentaries. She watched them all and quoted them back to anyone in ear shot, whether they wanted to hear it or not. She walked around the office, picked up her coworkers’ snacks, read the labels, and told them about the poison they were consuming. They got her back, though. They let her have it the day she walked into the office with a Schlotzky’s pizza box. But even a Scholtzky’s turkey and veggie pizza was a choice she never would have made before so that was still a step in the right direction.

D’s transformation was as close to overnight as it gets. In addition to realizing how fatigued and sluggish she had become, she also knew she had a one way ticket to Diabetesville. Weight isn’t an issue for her, the needle on the scale wouldn’t pass 100 if she jumped on it, but she has a long line of poor health in her family and she’s convinced it’s diet-related. Despite years of avoiding it, it was creeping up on her.

The documentaries she watched talked about super foods and D went super crazy for them. She has discovered the fish counter at her local market and now knows the difference between farm-raised and wild-caught. She thought she hated salmon but it turns out she just doesn’t like the farm-raised stuff; wild salmon tastes unbelievably better. She bought fresh broccoli, cooked it for the very first time, and loved it! She couldn’t believe how much better it was than the frozen, steam-in-a-bag stuff. She had sautéed squash and zucchini with dinner tonight. She’s eating apples instead of chocolate. I could go on and on…

I finally asked her if I could share her story after this text conversation tonight (she calls me Lulu):

The biggest surprises for her so far have been how easy it is to cook at home and how much cheaper it is to eat natural foods. The food industry wants us to believe the opposite on both accounts and it’s just not true. She even texted me a photo of her grocery store receipt when she bought enough food for 3-4 days worth of dinners and snacks; it was just under $16. That’s for fresh produce and good, wild-caught fish. That’s also about the same price we each paid for our lunch out the day before, not including tip.

The thing is… I’m incredibly proud of Dedra. She has made serious strides and despite her newfound food knowledge, she hasn’t taken it overboard (other than accusing her coworkers of being drug addicts, of course). She texts me photos of her food every day and she’s making good choices. She still drinks her sweet tea (who can blame her?) but she’s no longer eating Chick-Fil-A five days a week like she used to. The decisions she’s making are about long-term change, not short-term results. We’ve talked extensively about how she shouldn’t deprive herself from her cravings and she’s now at a point where eating good stuff makes her crave more of the good stuff. The bad stuff doesn’t taste as good as it used to and she’s only a few weeks in.

I know there are a lot of people out there like Dedra who know they should make better choices but, for whatever reason, don’t. Let D be your inspiration. She had no idea how to cook fresh broccoli but she happens to have this chef friend who does. I get texts that say, “salmon recipe?” and within a few minutes, she’s on her way to cooking salmon for the first time. If you want to make better choices and need a little help, I’m here for you, too. Email me or hit me up on Facebook. And if you have questions for Dedra, ask her in the comments! (Like how I volunteered her?! She’ll be okay with it.)

D and I use the term “baby steps” all the time and I think it’s good advice for anyone; if you want to make changes, do it one choice at a time. Small changes are easier to make than radical ones and they’re much less overwhelming.

Make one good food choice today and see where it leads tomorrow.