Year 2014 in Review: Whole 30 Edition

I only posted for one short stint in 2014, which is abysmal by blogging standards. Granted, those postings were during a particularly influential part of 2014 for me, so at a personal level, they were pretty darn important. In March 2014, I completed my first Whole 30 challenge.

It started in early 2014 when, for reasons I can’t quite recall, I finally decided I would give the gluten-free thing a try to see if it made me feel better (and, I admit, maybe lose some weight, too). Like most projects, I embraced the gluten-free experiment with zeal. I went to Wegman’s and stocked up on all of the ingredients I would need to make gluten-free soft pretzels for a dinner party I was attending that weekend. Armed with ingredients like brown rice flour and xantham gum, I thought I was going to make a big change. Those of you who have done the Whole 30 or have switched to paleo or primal diets probably know the outcome already: these small changes to simply gluten-free made no real difference in my life, other than giving me the pleasure of trying new recipes in the kitchen.

So, February rolled around and Sam and I left our four-month old puppy in the care of two very generous (and immensely patient) friends while we flew off to the Dominican Republic for 8 days to join a few dear friends in a mission to build housing in some of the poorest mountain villages in the Dominican. While on this trip, we met a man (we’ll call him A) who had been following the primal lifestyle for quite some time. Prior to meeting him, I had never heard of eating primal, nor had I heard of the blog Mark’s Daily Apple or his book, The Primal Blueprint. But A’s overall well-being resulting from adhering to a primal lifestyle were proof enough to me that he was doing something right. All week, between house-building tasks, he graciously answered all of my questions about saturated fats, cholesterol, calories, exercise, and why peanuts were not a suggested snack. His biggest advice was to go home, read a few books, and try it for myself. He told me that the proof is in the results you see for yourself.

So, I returned home and started reading books like Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes and It Starts with Food by Melissa & Dallas Hartwig. I was convinced, at least convinced enough to give the Whole 30 a try in March, which I mostly completed. I thought like, most beginners, that after a few weeks of the Whole 30 that I had the lifestyle change down. I had more energy, I had lot several pounds, and I was feeling great. I thought that had learned enough and I could reincorporate a few things now, thereby pursuing the 80/20 healthy eating that is often suggested for paleo/primal folks.

Unfortunately, as far as my health is concerned, the rest of the year was a bit of a wash and I gained 20 pounds (some of it was weight that I had lost earlier in the year, but still). Though I would cook mostly healthy meals, I didn’t make other good choices. I walked less. I accepted that second (or third) glass of wine too often. I ate junk food (including stuff with gluten, which I had sworn off in the beginning of the year) without worrying about it too much. I told myself the same old lies: these things are okay in moderation, a little won’t kill me, what’s the big deal anyway? The rational me knew what the big deal was. These “small” decisions were happening way too often and the cumulative effect was making me more tired, feel weaker, and gain weight.

So, I’m pledging to make 2015 a better year. I’m starting the year with a Whole 30 (today is day 5!) and I hope that sets the tone for a year of better decisions… at least 80% of the time.