Did Super Bowl Sunday get you? Buffalo wings? Nachos? Chips? Cheese? Beer? Wine? COOKIES?!!
It got me. It got me good.
But I was already out of the Paleo Pool. I was out 5 days into the challenge. And that is including the 2 cheat days!
All is not lost. I created the rules that govern the behaviors of the participants. I’ll keep my honor; I ate non-Paleo 3 days in the first week. I”m the first challenger out.
To learn my lesson and shine light on why I failed, Colin Beavan, author of No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process, discusses the “social exception” that allows him to break from the rules he has created to leave no negative impact on the planet for one year.
Here are a few exceptions of my own.
Lesson 1: Value-based Exception
The challenge started the day before I was to leave on a two-week vacation to Hawaii.
I start cursing myself as the first snack the flight attendant hands me on the 10 hour flight is a chicken enchilada. They even had the courtesy to warm it up!
In my head, I’m arguing back and forth, “Do I stick to my guns and let them trash this enticing snack? … or … Is this cheat day 1? Because there is a starving child somewhere in the world that would greatly appreciate the temporary bliss that the enchilada would give me?”
The starving child won.
I ate it.
I can remember as a young boy, not wanting to finish my plate. Mom (Hi Mom!) would grill my brother and I:
“Do you realize that there are starving children in the world that would die to have these carrots and steak?”
It worked Mom.
Now, I am aware.
But she created a monster. A monster with conscious intent.
If I can give food to someone who needs or wants it more than I do, I will give it to him. But if any food is meant for the garbage, the thought of letting those calories sit without decomposing in the anaerobic environment of a landfill where it could give a boy the energy to survive another day causes me to act.
Respect food, because it keeps you alive.
Lesson 2: Experiential Exception
Two days later, my friend Kevin, who I’m staying with in Hawaii, tells me that every Thursday he volunteers at a farmer’s market. His payment for doing so is an abundance of organic greens … AND he gets to eat the dish that the farmer prepares for consumers.
“What is the dish?” I ask fearfully.
“Ahi tuna with a wasabi and teriyaki special sauce over fried kale and eggplant, BATTERED IN TEMPURA! You’re going to want to use a cheat day.”
“Yes Kevin. Yes I am, dammit! Crap!”
Cheat Day 2.
Point to delicious Ahi dish. Ahi Tuna will win every time. (If you ever have the chance to try poke in Hawaii, do it. It’s heavenly. We are deprived of it on the mainland.)
When it comes to new foods that you’ll never forget, or new opportunities or new experiences, why say “no”?
It could be an experience that you’ll never forget.
Lesson 3: Social Exception
Cheat Day 3. I knew I was out as soon as I ate the Ahi Tuna.
Two days after the Ahi Tuna fiasco was Kristin’s birthday (Kevin’s girlfriend), and they planned a very elaborate barbecue including Mexican food and baked goodies of all sorts.
I like Kristin. I am grateful that she is in Kevin’s life to make him happy. Why wouldn’t I celebrate her birthday?!
Point to celebrations where the hosts go overboard with edible treats.
Spending time with 15 people … in a park in Waikiki … with the sun beating down … and happy people around … (and alcohol) … it was worth it.
It’s OK to fall. It’s not OK to stay on the ground.
While I am the first challenger out of the Paleo Pool, I do not see it as a failure.
It wasn’t me or the system that failed, the rules just need tweeking.
As far as I know at this time, the other 5 challengers are going strong.
Not only that, but Mom tells me that the “Carb Queen” that is my 10-year-old sister is experimenting with the diet too.
Besides my exceptions from above and the Super Bowl, I’m holding strong with my diet and feeling good about it too. That means more money in the “Give the World What it Wants Fund”, which will go towards donating money to an organization I see fit.
As with any lifestyle or habit change, setbacks happen and should be planned for.
In pursuit of health, you may have days where you binge on half a gallon of ice cream or drink a few too many glasses of wine.
It won’t kill you.
Hopefully the experience of celebrating with your family and friends or enjoying a new meal you’ve wanted to try is worth the cost of regret, bloating, or discomfort you may be experiencing.
Remember, it’s not whether you fall. You will fall. It’s how quickly you get back up.
Challengers, official and unofficial, would you please comment as to if you’re still in and how you’re feeling.