What do you want?

What do you want?
I’m writing this on the eve of October: Unprocessed, and the number of people who have taken the pledge just passed 200.  I’m amazed, impressed, excited, and — above all — humbled at the outpouring of enthusiasm and support this little idea has already garnered.

As we start this month of unprocessed eating together, I hope you will take a moment to consider where you stand now and what you’re trying to accomplish.  Many people already briefly shared their goals when they signed the pledge, but I want to go a little deeper, with two simple questions.

Of course, it’s not fair for me only to ask questions of you — I have to answer, too.  So here goes.

Why did you take the pledge?

If you’ve read my story, you’ll know that I had my “ah-ha!” moment relatively recently, at the beginning of last year.  I started exercising regularly and eating healthfully.  I lost thirty pounds that I hadn’t even realized I needed to lose.

Last October I had this notion of eating no processed foods for an entire month, and invited some friends to join me.  Most wished me luck and said there was no way they could do it.  But two wonderful friends, Dana and Lindsey, joined me in the challenge (and they’re doing it again this year, too!).

We supported each other, and met at each others’ homes for dinner at least a couple of nights a week. It was fun to talk about different foods, try new recipes together, and to dine together in a most communal way. It strengthened our friendship significantly.

After that month ended, it became harder and harder to maintain that enthusiasm and focus. Keeping up momentum takes an awful lot of effort.

Over time, I started fudging a little bit, here and there. Working on several projects, including Eating Rules, has meant that I haven’t had as much time as I would have liked to cook, eat, or exercise.

Diligence gave way to a lack of time.

So my reason for wanting to do another “month unprocessed” is simple:  It’s a way of re-focusing my efforts with a set of absolute rules that I’m once again intensely motivated to follow.  Rebooting, if you will.

Last year at my dinners with Dana and Lindsey, I learned that the community and support surrounding this common goal is what is going to help all of us succeed.  The support network is critical — without it, it’s almost impossible not to lose the motivation and diligence that’s required.

So that’s why I took the pledge here, publicly, alongside as many people as possible.

What do you want to accomplish or learn by October 31st?

I want to feel better physically and mentally by eating only unprocessed foods. I want to have increased energy which will revitalize my exercise routines and help me get back to the gym with a renewed vigor.  And I want to replace that last little bit of pudge with muscle.

I also want to positively impact as many people as possible. I hope that we’ll all learn, grow, and share throughout this month, probably in ways that we can’t yet understand or know.

I want us all to be changed for the better by this experience.

Okay, now it’s your turn: I invite you to share your answers to these two questions in the comments.

Don’t worry, this month isn’t going to be all touchy-feeley all the time.  Every day this month, starting tomorrow, I’ll be sharing terrific guest posts from some wonderful writers, bloggers, and leaders in this field. You may want to subscribe via email or RSS, to be sure you don’t miss a post!  I also encourage you to join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

16 Responses to What do you want?

  1. Coppelia October 3, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    I took the pledge to prove to myself what I already know: eating better will help me feel better. It’ll be a positive change for my hubby and our kids, ages 4 and 10 months. By the end of the month, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what I’ll learn–eat better, feel better!

    It’s going to be a BIG challenge and change for me. I am a sugar-holic. I go to chocolate a lot to “treat myself”, to celebrate, as a midday snack, as a bedtime snack, and dessert is not an option, it’s a given. Coffee cakes and cookies are not treats for me; they are everyday foods.

    Of course, I know this is not healthy. However, my scale and BMI say I’m not “fat”, so I hadn’t felt the need to quit my sugar habit. My last physical said I was in tip top shape (thank God!) Sure, I could lose 10lbs to get my pre-pregnancy body back, but other than that, I felt perfectly fine with my bad habits.

    Even so, I told a couple of friends about this crazy pledge. They said, let’s do it! So here I am. I even worked up some excitement about it! Until Day 1.

    Day 1 was HORRIBLE!! I had the worst migraine-strength-headache, that I had experienced in some time. It was so bad, I had to leave a friend’s dinner party early and I couldn’t even fall asleep. But it was a needed reality check. Day 1 helped me realize that going from my “regular sugar-loaded diet” to unprocessed was such a shock to my body, that I probably needed this change more than I thought.

    Thankfully, Days 2 and 3 have been better. It’s still a challenge, and I’m adding “no wheat” to my unprocessed October. So it’s a BIG challenge. But I know I’m not doing this alone (thanks, Andrew). Day 4, here I come!

  2. Amy October 3, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

    I took the pledge in order to have accountability for another promise I’ve made. My son and I are both working through the SCD/GAPS diet now (no grains, dairy, or processed sugars, and a lot of homemade fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut & kimchi). It’s an attempt to heal our wounded digestive systems after years of poor eating and a family history of celiac disease. For us, it’s about living freely again. I have promised that we will fully do the diet for one month, so October unprocessed helps me keep that promise. No cheating, even when the Halloween candy is begging me to eat it.

  3. Yoly - YNR Live October 2, 2010 at 5:29 pm #

    Took the pledge because I know my body loves when we go on a unprocessed foods diet. I’m working step by step as I want to work “slowly but surely” to get away from processed foods.

  4. Erica October 2, 2010 at 7:43 am #

    Why did you take the pledge?

    This is very simple. I’m taking it for my kids. I have been a very overweight female since I was barely a teenager. Mom and dad both worked so it was lots of boxed and packaged meals and there was always junk food in the house. As an adult I tended to eat the same way until I got pregnant with my daughter. I started really looking at food because it wasn’t just me I was feeding anymore.
    I started with HFCS. That turned out to be a huge challenge. You never realize how many products this chemical is in until you start reading labels. Granted I haven’t been able to cut it out completely, but if you were to raid my cabinets you’d find that it’s only in maybe 2% of what I have. We eat local/organic when we can afford too, and being a stay at home mom really lets me make better choices when it comes to meals with my family.
    Now that I have had two kids within the last 2 years, I’ve changed a lot of things in how my family eats. My parents call me a health nut because I’ll make things like Quinoa, whole wheat pastas, and I threw out my deep fryer a few years ago. I have lost 50lbs this year alone and I’m hoping to lose another 50 and finally feel comfortable in my own skin again.

    What do you want to accomplish or learn by October 31st?

    To finish what I started when I first got pregnant. I am pretty diligent about reading food labels but there are still some things I can do. I buy bread still, but I”m hoping by the end of the month I’ll be a pro at making our own. The only packaged things I buy right now are bread and snacks for my daughter, mind you these snacks are made from ingredients I can pronounce and know what they are. I think the worst thing I have in my house right now are gold fish!! I also want to continue losing weight and hope to drop 10lbs by the end of the month.

  5. Tara October 1, 2010 at 9:13 pm #

    1. I think I eat fairly well, but I’d like to know I do! I’d also like to see if I can do this in earnest with a picky husband and 3 kids in the house – two of which are still highly influenceable and one who has already been exposed to the deadly food habits of…..his peers.

    2. I hope I can finally nudge my family (myself included) over the edge into the land of sustainable, ethical, and/or locavore-ish eating and stick it to Big Food, even just a little bit.

  6. Joel A October 1, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    Q1. As Americans we are pumpin so much crap into our bodies and it’s takin a toll on both us and our healthcare system. It’s time to fight back against the big businesses that push this processed junk on it.

    Q2. I’m really looking forward to expanding my culinary horizons and skills. Already on the first day I made bread for the very first time in my life. I’m excited to see what other recipes I find on my my own and with the help of others (my sister and a few friends are taking the challenge together. I’m hopeful the skills that I learn this month will help me through the rest of my life.

  7. Michelle October 1, 2010 at 5:15 pm #

    I often suffer with the blues come fall and winter. I’m aware that diet affects mood and want to start this season right!

  8. Joan VanCourt October 1, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    Wow, I love a good challenge. I took the pledge because I got off track of my good eating habits and got lazy and ate whatever my husband wanted for meals. Needless to say, I put on unwanted weight !!!! I read your challenge early this morning and start after I took the pledge. Thank you for challenging us all. Went to the store today and headed right for the veggies and fruit. Made some ratatouille for dinner, YUM. Made enough for all of October . LOL Not really. ok, see you all tomorrow.

  9. Lewy October 1, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    2010 has been my year of food epiphanies. Choosing vegetarianism in January started me down a difficult yet incredibly gratifying path towards becoming more connected to what I eat. I’ve come a long way this year, but I still find myself depending on certain processed foods to get me through the week (veggie burgers! tortilla chips!). This is a great challenge for me to cut those security blankets out cold turkey. Eating wholesome, unprocessed, local foods is good for our bodies, good for the environment, and it brings brings us back to a valuable connection with our food that we have lost in this age of convenience, waste and overindulgence.

  10. Natasha October 1, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

    I have been trying to eat more natural foods for two weeks during another weight loss challenge I’m doing. I have lost almost 5 pounds in those two weeks.

    I am hypothyroid and have found losing weight almost impossible without the help of drugs in the past. I entered the weight loss challenge with little hope I would lose weight but I”m convinced its not because of my calorie in/ out but because my body is thriving on the real food.

    I am such a stickler for rules that joining a challenge or taking a pledge is a promise from me and I am only as good as my word. So I know that by signing the pledge I will stick to it.

  11. Fun As We Go October 1, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    I will be honest, I love a good challenge! It makes me grow as a person and tests my strengths! But also, health is very important to me; exercising and eating well makes me and my body happy. So, the health freak that I am, took the pledge to continue the pace I long ago set for myself as well as, get rid of the last of the processed foods I do eat! And, I must add, the pledge created an awareness of what’s in “foods”…EEEW.

    From this challenge, I want to learn to cook (or create) my OWN food! No need to buy bread, cookie, sauces, jams, juices etc. with all the additives and artificial STUFF. I am going to make it all from scratch with fresh ingredients that do a body good. This will take me to the next “foodie” level, a higher level than I am right now!

    Remember, you ARE what you EAT!

    Have fun and good luck :)

  12. Bonnie K. October 1, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    I took the pledge so that I would try to avoid snack foods such as tortilla chips and other chips that I have on hand for the family. I do buy whole grain tortilla chips, but the problem is being able to eat only 1 oz. at a time. Also, I will stay away from candies including on Halloween. I do like dark chocolate, minimum of 70% cacao–keeping it for special treats. It is my hope that I lose some weight–more this month than any other months. There is one day where I won’t be able to stay with this challenge as I had already arranged to do an afternoon tea with family. I don’t drink sodas or eat white bread; so, this isn’t a problem. It’s mainly just being aware of what I buy and eat. Looking forward to what lies ahead.

  13. Dana October 1, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    So when’s the next round of dinner parties??? :)


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