Last Christmas my four year old niece, Scarlett, was making out her list for Santa by using the weekly toy store flyer. She circled the items she wanted with a crayon. There was a picture of a giant stuffed unicorn with a little girl standing behind it. Scarlet circled the unicorn and then put an X over the face of the little girl. After laughing until I cried, I realized that Scarlett was an expert at setting goals. According to the *S.M.A.R.T. goals setting acronym, the S stands for be specific. I don’t know how much more specific she could get. There was no way she was going to wake up on Christmas morning with another child playing with HER giant stuffed unicorn!
I didn’t fare so well this January while setting my New Year’s Resolutions. I was neither specific, nor did I have any goals of my own in mind when I was scrolling through Instagram on January 2nd and noticed that an acquaintance was doing this thing called The Whole 30 Program and I thought, okay, I’ll do that too. I had no idea what it was but I was in! I gained 15 pounds last year so whatever it takes, right? After a quick google search I found The Whole 30 website but decided to skip reading about the science behind it and just got right down to the "what I can’t eat" list. It turned out to be pretty extensive but I looked for some recipes, made out a grocery list and headed to Whole Foods. I came home with pounds of cauliflower and after hours of trying to rice it without the proper equipment, I put together a broccoli and cauliflower “rice” casserole for dinner. (According to The Whole 30 Program-do not consume: any sugars, grains, alcohol, beans, dairy and anything baked even if it’s lies within the parameters of these ingredients.)
I am married to a man who hates casseroles. In fact, he hates them so much that when speaking about them he drops the first letter off the word. I wait until he’s on a business trip and make a batch of Tuna Noodle Asserole for myself. Why I would choose to start a seriously restrictive diet with something that he didn’t like even in its non-diet form is beyond me. Have I mentioned that I hadn’t even consulted him about this Whole 30 thing? He just came home from work and I announced that I was doing it. I rolled my eyes when he asked me what the science behind it was.
When I first met my husband I was a vegetarian and sometimes vegan. I’ve been around the block when it comes to cooking with restrictions. One Christmas I gave my entire family sour dough starter in jars and these vegan cookies that I had made that basically tasted like sand. I know. But at the time I thought it was really great. Don’t worry, this year my sister got me back by giving us all cans of jackfruit from Trader Joe’s. It’s kind of ironic because apparently, jackfruit is highly sought after by people on The Whole 30 Program. They claim it can be doctored up to pass as a substitute for pulled pork. If you believe that, I’ve got a really good vegan cookie recipe for you.
In addition to 7 previous years of vegetarianism, I’ve been gluten free for the last 6 years for health reasons. I’m such a picky eater that I didn’t eat a vegetable until I was 25 years old. So my husband looked at me when I showed him the list of foods that I couldn’t eat on The Whole 30 Program and he said, “There is so much you already can’t or won’t eat so you picked the most restrictive diet ever? This seems unattainable.” Ahhh...the A in the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting acronym.
I dished us both out some Broccoli and “Cheddar” Cauliflower “Rice" Asserole and rolled my eyes at him again. Then I proceeded to hold back my tears as I tried to eat that crap. “Rice” my asserole. There was nothing about this dish that resembled rice or cheddar. It was watery and the broccoli was mushy and I suddenly remembered from my vegan days that on no planet does nutritional yeast resemble cheese. In the end I had lasted four hours from grocery shopping to quitting The Whole 30 Program.
So, my husband asked me, “Exactly what is it that you want to get out of this?” After I had a slight meltdown, we both decided that the goal this year is to eat more vegetables, cook at home more often and make better food choices when we go out to eat. So, I threw out the rest of the coconut oil, chia seed, almond butter and unsweetened cocoa bites I had made earlier in the day and then once again on Instagram I came across a glorious vegetarian website that has recipes that actually taste good. I used the leftover cauliflower to make these amazing tacos and we both agreed that we didn’t miss the meat a bit and that they tasted great and filled us up at the same time.
Sometimes we jump into things without thinking first, without doing the research, without asking ourselves what we really want to get out of it and definitely without a plan. But there is always room to fail and to start over. Even if you’re only four hours in.
(*SMART goal setting acronym: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time sensitive)
May all your goals this year be SMART!