|Via Flickr Creative Commons,|
the George Eastman House Collection
Admittedly, on the subject of human milestone celebrations, I've read some really, truly amazing testimonials in the two and a half years since I ditched processed foods in favor of nutrient dense whole foods. Some folks turned their lifestyle around on a dime, and dropped a ton of fat in their first few months, all while reversing one or many chronic illnesses like diabetes and autoimmune conditions. Some even manage to have their extended families on board after a few months, which I always consider to be a miracle, their magnificent transformations notwithstanding.
After I had spent an intense while reading up on nutrition, I fairly swiftly made the decision to eat more healthfully by avoiding processed grains, sugars, and vegetable oils. But while my decision was swift, my transformation has been a long term work in progress of fits and starts.
Maybe some folks reading can identify. For instance, it took me a solid year and a half of primal eating before I realized how dearly I needed to combine exercise with my improved diet. Once I started Crossfitting, I learned within a few months under my coaches' guidance and encouragement how to better monitor my carb intake and really watch some of my weaknesses (like for chocolate) while carefully tracking my personal performance and body comp data - thus allowing me to finally drop about 40 pounds.
It took a break from Crossfit this month while I recover from a lingering injury to discover the mobility-enhancing calm of hot yoga - and the fact that I can manage to keep my body comp steady or even more lean by carefully managing my carbs, despite the fact that right now I'm not working out at my Crossfit box at my firebreather frequency.
In other words, the last two and a half years have involved a lot of personal growth, and not necessarily at the pace I'd have originally liked to see. I think, though, that each person's pace is set the way that it is for a reason, and in my case, there were lots of humility-building, sometimes painful realizations within each of those lessons. Had I experienced all of my milestones in a few months' time, I'd have also had to experience all of those painful humility-building moments - and maybe not have learned as thoroughly from them!
So, my desired pace of progress is not always the ideal pace of progress. It's for this same reason that I fully embrace the progress that comes from those around me. With my parents and my in-laws, I learned a while ago to compromise in some areas where I can (as in allowing my older daughter some wiggle room). Meanwhile, I celebrate any concession, or adaptation, they graciously elect to make for my sake and my family's sake. I realize that for any parent, watching a heretofore "good child" embark on a thoroughly countercultural path to what seems like Crazytown, U.S.A. has to be worrying at best.
However, I think over the last two and a half years, my folks and my in-laws have had a long time to witness my personal growth and a growing acknowledgement of ancestral health principles by mainstream media and peer-reviewed research journals. They have seen my weight loss, my fitness gains, my ongoing journey to provide my youngest daughter with optimal nutrition for her neurological disorder. They've also seen mainstream and academic sources embracing coconut oil, shunning refined sugars, acknowledging inflammation as a driver of heart disease, and even outright suggesting gluten-free diets as a path to avoiding inflammation and obesity. For example, the Today Show recently had Drew Ramsey, MD advocating lard and butter as healthier choices for the 2012 holiday season. Even Dr. Oz had shows in December featuring modern wheat's impact on health (link is 1 of 3 parts, features cardiologist William Davis, MD), and how to take a closer look at what cholesterol numbers really mean (link is 1 of 3 parts, features cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, MD)! If it takes a TV cardiothoracic surgeon to help my folks and in-laws to think of me and my principles as a little less "out there", then I will gladly accept it as one more marker of progress.
My brother has undeniably been an unintentional testimony to the power of fueling responsibly; he recently participated in his Crossfit box's first paleo nutrition challenge, and in one month's time added around 20 points to his Fight Gone Bad score - which any seasoned Crossfitter will recognize as an incredible leap! His performance jump was impressive enough to earn him the men's top prize at his box, including a free month of membership! His slimmer physique and features were plain to see when he returned home for Thanksgiving with our family and my folks.
Meanwhile, my mom has been working hard this year to learn more about gluten-free baking. She made an impressive gluten-free dairy-free bread at Thanksgiving, and a bacon-embedded gluten free cornbread stuffing that I dearly hope she plans to repeat. My mother-in-law has plans, too, to make a gluten-free grassfed beef prime rib roast (which we helped her to source) for the meal she is hosting on Christmas Day, which means that my youngest daughter can eat the same meal alongside everyone else.
Though my parents and in-laws do not fully accept the path we have chosen, they yet try to meet us where we are on it many times each year for our get-togethers, and to that end I count it progress, and I thank God for blessing us through another year of fits and starts as my little family continues along our ancestral-health-anchored path, even as our extended family makes progress of their own in learning about why we do the things we do.
Thus, my Christmas wish for my readers: This Tuesday, may you embrace your family and your progress - the small, the big, the in-betweens of 2012. Count as a blessing, too, the God-ordained pace at which you hit your milestones and lessons, even if it isn't the pace you'd have originally desired. Progress is progress, and the path you are on is yours and your family's to run! May you also anticipate a 2013 of increasing self-knowledge and challenging but achievable victories of all sizes - and I pray that God's grace sustains you in the pursuit of those victories!
Merry Christmas! What progress will you celebrate as 2012 draws to an end?