It is December 30th, and tomorrow the eve of a new year. You probably gathered from my post in November encouraging people to start their resolutions at that point, so that by the time January 1 rolls around, you are already well on your way to making good choices. If you didn’t, the great thing is, you can start anytime, and hopefully this post will give a few tips, just from what I have learned to help out some of those choices.

My 30-day Paleo challenge was complete today (although I am just going to go until the 1st), and after my last (failed) attempt, I doubted my ability to do it, to try vegetables, create new eating habits, cut out grain, dairy, and all processed sugars, but, I did it. The closest I came to non-compliance was almond milk, which people reccommend you make yourself, but it is a long and arduous task, but many paleoites drink it anyways. You choose your battles, and I learned a lot about what it means to be paleo, what our relationships with food is like, and although learned a lot, created some new future problems for myself. In the last month, I have become so ingredient conscious that it will be hard to not judge a food by the amount of ingredients I cannot pronounce. My main goal is to be semi-paleo, where I eat in a similar way (looking to get products that are not riddled with sugar), but once in a while, if I have a treat, I am not going to torture myself.

I learned that I like a few things. Squashes of all sorts are great, broccoli is alright, eggplant, as long as it is breaded can be tasty, bananas are amazing, but clementines are crazy good, I don’t care for strawberries that much, and raspberries are still amazing, I tried carrots and didn’t die, asparagus is not good, but I can deal with peppers if they are small, and I plan to continue my ventures into the unknown. I ate a lot of almonds, almond butter, and almond milk. Meat was a good friend in forms of turkey, chicken, and pork. So much water. I didn’t die from doing this challenge, something that one year ago, I would have scathed at. It is funny to see the people around me seeing me try these things because they know how picky and closed-off I was before. Life is better if you don’t shut down everything just because you don’t think you will like it. Food is just as much mental as it is taste.

The main reasons for starting paleo was because from Halloween time to the middle of November, my binging was getting pretty bad. I was chocolate chip obsessed to the point where I would be driving and have to stop at a store to get some (it was mostly just sugar craving, but I like the dark chocolate chips), the cravings were insatiable and felt uncontrollable. It got to the point where I didn’t know what to do, and normally I would never recommend going extreme when trying to make a transition, but having gone through the changes I have in the last 2 years, I figure starting paleo was a great way to cut out the sugar to reduce my cravings and learn to like new foods that I never gave a chance. It has worked for the most part. There were only a few times where I had deep cravings for anything sweet. I was having a conversation with a friend tonight about a lot of this stuff and talked about how food addiction, which I don’t think fully had in my former, unhealthy life, but a hint of the affliction is similar to how alcoholism works with a downward spiral effect. Sort of the “you can’t just have one drink” — “you can’t have just one cookie”, and obviously that comparison has major differences, but addiction is addiction. I’m glad I was able to overcome that in a successful way because I promised myself a long time ago that I would never go back to a life where I was overweight, unhappy, and depriving myself of living life to its fullest. I like the person and the life that I have right now, and I want to keep forging forward.

I truly have so much to be thankful for over this past year. 2013 has been one of the best years of my life. Although I started my journey close to 2 years ago, 2012 is really when change started happening for me. I started really shedding the weight, I started going out more, I ran 15 races after never having run once in my entire life (except away from things or towards food) with one of those races being a half-marathon, I went whitewater rafting twice, ziplining, learned to skate and met a whole new group of awesome friends, connected closer with current friends, continued working at a job that I absolutely love with students who make going to work all worth the traveling that is involved, I shared great memories and great laughs with old and new friends, I started CrossFit, possibly one of the best things that happened to me this year, where I met an amazing coach and other great people who care about fitness as much as I do and get up as the crack of before dawn to work out, I hit 100 lbs. lost, I reached 1,000 trophies on PS3 (hey, my gamer life still exists!), I made more goals and accomplished those goals than I ever have in my entire life, I continued in a program of higher education that I believe in and care about deeply, I got a new bed that is so comfortable that I don’t know how I lived without it, and a myriad of other great things that happened this year.

The ups are not to come without the downs, which were mostly psychological. That half-marathon, it was a killer that almost made me fall to my meet, staying on top of my fitness was a mental stressor on a daily basis, whitewater rafting, I almost drowned, losing that 100 lbs. has come with ugly extra skin, having that great job means the world to me because people close to me lost their jobs from our co-program that was defunded, and the list goes on. We live in a world of duality; without contrast, we don’t know the good that we have, but when all is said and done, the negative list nowhere compares to the positive list. Doing these things, making these changes, and having these things has enriched my life far beyond anything else that has ever happened to me, and I am extreme grateful that it happened. I feel encouraged about what 2013 will bring because learning everything I have learned this year can only benefit me in the future. That’s not to say that there will not be hurdles, failures, doubts, and fears, but I am better equipped to deal with those things.

This is the end of 2012, which is bitter because so many great things happened (and it makes me feel older), but I am more excited for 2013 than any other new year in my entire life because I know that I did not take this  year for granted, but I am even more aware of myself and what I truly need to work on to be happy, and with that clarity, I feel like I can only climb higher, run faster, laugh harder, and become an even better version of myself than I can even imagine right now.

I want to thank anyone who has supported me this past year.

For my friends, who supported me, even though sometimes its hard to see a friend go through such a transformation and still be supportive. The ones who stuck by me, encouraged me, cheered me on, told me I look good, and cared to ask me how my fitness was going even if working out or eating a weird diet wasn’t something they cared about. The last year was very lonely for me in a lot of ways, and not because I was not supported by people that care about me, but because when 100 lbs. of you changes, it can affect your relationships, your self-perception, and every single action you take. If i wanted to take my fitness seriously,  I had to suck it up and go to classes where I knew no one, I had to go to the gym alone, or late night runs, I had to go shopping alone, but it was something that I learned from. That’s not to say I didn’t have people that shopped with me, worked out with me, or helped me, but psychologically  the doubts, and all the other mental pieces can make it all a hard journey. But, it hasn’t been all bad or lonely because of these people, my friends, the ones who come for game nights, the ones in my classes, the ones at fitness skate and crossfit, the ones I work with, the ones who simply tell me that they are proud of me, everyone has pushed me just a little bit more to where I am today, and, for that, I am extremely thankful.

So, 2013 is in two days, I can’t wait because I know I am going to do a variety of things that I have never done before. Look out for that post tomorrow, as I am still formulating my goal list 🙂 For now, keep on keepin’ on 🙂