The process is so natural Danny Wilson can barely feel the transformation his body is undergoing.
Apparently it's so effective Wilson has wound the clock back by almost 10 years — if appraisals on the football park are anything to go by.
But that doesn't come as a surprise to the 36-year old Napier bank employee after he signed a contract just after Christmas with Thirsty Whale Hawke's Bay United to revive his career in the national summer league.
"I've changed my diet completely," Wilson says of a renaissance built on a platform of health in November last year. "I've quit meat and diary completely so I'm pretty much on a 90 per cent plant-based diet."
The defender didn't expect the results he's having but, astoundingly, he's coming to terms with the fact that the groundwork of happiness is health.
Exercising, he surmises, is ultimately about an endorphin fix that takes one past the pain threshold of accomplishment in a quest to reward his constitution, not punish it.
"I don't have any joint or muscle pains so it's given me a new lease of playing life, actually, which kind of drove me to put in the work to give it another crack," he reveals after his first full appearance in four years although he did come off the bench sporadically under former coach Brett Angell.
Wilson won't be travelling to Kiwitea St for the 2pm kick off against table-topping Auckland City FC tomorrow after the 4-0 loss to Team Wellington on the road last weekend.
It's the first birthday of his son, Arthur, on game day but he's raring to help co-coaches Chris Greatholder and Bill Robertson bolster Bay United's defence this summer as they try to avoid three defeats on the trot in week 10.
Title favourites Auckland City, on 21 points, and Team Wellington, on 18 below them, have established a gulf in the drive for playoff berths as Bay United sit in third place on equal 12 points with their pre-Christmas slayers, Hamilton Wanderers, below them on an inferior goal average.
Wilson parks himself at left back, next to Robertson, with Fergus Neil on the right flank. The trio have a daunting task to reverse their fortunes as they try to massage a -1 goal difference (20 for, 21 against) in the premiership after nine rounds.
Bay United are shopping for talent to bolster their bench after adding Wilson to their equation but it'll be equally imperative to plug the defensive leak that may decide who progresses to claim the remaining two playoff spots in April.
Wilson is mindful he isn't the fastest defender on the park — in fact, 90 per cent of the strikers he's tried to put on a leash have had the wood on him — but that's where the former forager has had to adapt and develop a sixth sense that puts him mentally ahead of opponents at the coal face of composure.
"I'm grateful to get the opportunity to represent the Bay again at an elite level," he says.
"I'm also enjoying working alongside some of the new, younger lads coming through — it kind of takes me back to 10 years ago when I was a young one."
The David Farrington Park outing tested his match fitness. He believes his teammates are upbeat about doing well against Auckland who are undefeated, albeit it with three draws, and who flogged Waitakere United 6-0 in the previous round.
"There's no let off in training and everyone is involved so I don't see why — if they apply themselves to their full potential — they can't go there to get a result."
He agrees with Greatholder that Bay United need to tighten up the chinks in the set-piece plays although he emphasises everyone knows the third goal Team Wellington scored wasn't a corner kick but there's no excuse for not mopping up.
Wilson's diet entails injecting more bean-based dishes.
"My wife's a big driver of it and she's very good in the kitchen," he says of Lauren who is finding traction with their other children — Henry, 5, and Violet, 3.
"To be honest, she's the only one of us two who can really cook."
They didn't just dive into the dietary pool but had conducted an extensive research via TV documentaries and articles.
"We've looked at what other footballers are doing around the world," says Wilson.
"We gave it a go initially and, to be honest, I thought it was all a load of rubbish because I was liking my steaks."
However, it wasn't until the Napier City Rovers player was almost three weeks into the food plan that he started noticing the changes.
"I was doing workouts and found myself feeling a lot better."
For someone who was guzzling four cups of coffee daily, he had cut it back to just one in the morning over that duration and started questioning whether he even needed any at all. He has shed 5kg since.
The family were on a Christmas holiday cruise, with relatives, that included a visit to Disneyland in the United States.
The Wilsons took packed lunches from their villa at Florida although the parents weren't militant about the children momentarily taking the leash off their taste buds.
"I'm not going to lie. Other things crept in and stuff like that but I've maintained the fitness level that I needed."
With Lauren's parents and siblings there, the Wilsons weren't going to curtail the children's experience.
Greatholder and Robertson had indicated to Wilson that they intended signing him because of his work ethic with the squad this summer.
"I was in a place where I thought I can definitely give it another go."
The former Napier Marist striker in the Bay men's premier league counts his lucky stars in having gone through a career without picking up any major injuries.
"I've always looked after myself in terms of muscles and body," he says, revealing he had stopped playing in England for five years before carving a niche at 20 for a career here spanning a shade more than a decade.