- Robert Louis Stevenson
So, it’s the end of October which also means it’s the end of the October Unprocessed Challenge. The challenge, as led by Adam Wilder at eatingrules.com, was to eat only unprocessed foods for the entire month of October. At the end of September I was all on board. I was hyped, ready to take on my slack eating habits and whip them into shape. But now comes the day of reckoning. How did I fare with rising to the Challenge? In a word: not very well.
Okay, that’s three words. But who’s counting? Well… one might argue that perhaps I should be counting. Maybe I don’t have to sweat my word count in a blog post, but I might want to examine my accountability for how many times I succeeded or failed in meeting the challenge of not eating processed foods in the course of a month.
Holding myself accountable is a matter of acknowledging that I am the one who made the choices as to what I ate. I was the one who drove to the store one day and bought a bag of Doritos and a pint of Cherry Garcia ice cream instead of cooking the Brussels sprouts that were on hand at home. And I am also the one responsible for any consequences of my actions; in this instance, the crappy way I felt after consuming the junk foods. But does accountability necessitate beating myself over the head for failing to make the proper choices 100% of the time? I don’t think so.
If I look at my successes and failures, I come to the realization that I’m not a pinnacle of moral fortitude. I didn’t have the steely resolve to hold steadfastly to my convictions, not even for a month. At least not my culinary convictions. Does that mean I failed the Challenge? Does that make me a failure? I think what it makes me is human.
In discussing self-accountability, an article at ideavist.com advises that “If you beat yourself up too much, you can drive yourself into anxiety, stress, and depression. If you don’t hold yourself accountable enough, you can drive yourself towards apathy, laziness, and anti-social behavior."
There’s a middle ground, and that’s where we endeavor to learn from our mistakes. I think the important thing to glean from the Challenge is not a lesson in guilt and self-judgment. Rather, the Challenge has sown the seeds for greater awareness of the food choices I make and how they impact my life. That’s a valuable take-away.
The challenge and the self-accountability don’t end with the end of October, however. I’m getting ready to head to the grocery store right now, and the question arises as to what I will put into my cart today. In reality, we face challenges every day.
So what will I choose? Only my pantry will know.
Oh, and me, of course.