2014: Let’s Do This Thing


2013 was not a good year for me. In fact, without trying to sound too drama mama, it was the worst year of my life so far. Lots of unexplained health issues that actually started to work themselves out in late summer, when BAM, I was diagnosed with (what should have been) an acute illness in August, but is still partying in my body 4 months later. I am not ready to write about the illness in detail, and not because I’m trying to be all super secretive or garner talk, but really because the disease/treatment is a bit controversial, and frankly, the whole thing scares me. The last thing I need is advice from people I don’t know that could freak me out. (Because, if you know anything about me, I am very anxious about my health, and it’s very easy for me to jump to the worst case scenario, so I’m trying to power through this with positivity. Google searches are not my friend.)

But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about how I’m going to make 2014 a great year, which on my worst days, seems really daunting, but I refuse to continue entertaining doomsday thoughts all the livelong day. Here’s how I’m going to do it.

1. Work with a team of awesome health practitioners. This is still a work in progress, but I have found some wonderful people who are working hard to make me better. I’ve been researching my ass off, which is helpful to a point, but I can’t make every health decision on my own. I need to trust in my team to lead me down the right path. (Trusting people is hard, yo. Which leads me to #2…)

2. Self discovery. I truly believe that everything thrown my way this past year is changing me for the better. I am (sloooowly) learning to let go of fear and anxieties, and to accept that I can’t control everything.

Wait. Let me say that again.


Deep breath.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you search and search, the answers just aren’t there, and that’s okay. This kind of reflection has proven to be the hardest in my 39 years on this earth, and I plan to share some of the techniques I’ve learned and wonderful books I’ve read in upcoming posts.

3. Embark on a full year of yoga and meditation. I have chosen yoga to help assist with #2, as well as my physical health. Detoxification and strengthening my body are huge components in achieving a complete recovery, and I’m hoping a mixture of heated, Iyengar, and restorative yoga will be the ticket. (I checked out a LOT of yoga studios this year, and I finally found one that I really really love called Ekam Yoga. If you are a fellow Orange County resident, they have a great 2014 special going right now!) As for meditation, I still love Headspace.

4. Cleaner eating. I started eating a minimal sugar, gluten-free diet in November, which has been easier than I thought, but ultimately would like to move to a Paleo diet. Right now, beans and whole grains (brown rice and quinoa) are the most difficult thing for me to give up, but I know it would help get me back in the ring. Also, as sad as it is, alcohol is a no-no for the time being. *brushing away a tear*

I am approaching this new way of eating with moderation as my guide. I’m doing this to better my health, not to be all “look at me and my amazing will power.” If I feel the need to eat some brown rice once in awhile or have a glass of red wine on a special occasion, then so be it. My goal is to be healthier and good to my body, not a martyr.

5. Most importantly, stop the negative hamster wheel of doom in my head.


I am a resourceful, strong, and determined woman. Why do I continually bet against myself? This must change in 2014.

How can I achieve this? Trust my intuition. Respect my body. Practice gratitude. Get out of the house. Breathe in the ocean air and dig my toes into the sand.  Spend time with friends. Paint. Play guitar. Shut the laptop. Play on the floor with my kids. Date nights with my husband. Adore my family something fierce. Stop continually searching for answers. Oh, and laughter. Lots of laughter.

This is going to be a huge part of my year, and although I don’t want to smother you, I plan on posting my progress here occasionally. However, if you want to follow a little more closely, I’ve started an Instagram account documenting the day-to-day of this new lifestyle called @TheWholeWay. I hope you’ll join me and share your personal journeys along the way too – also, I’d love to learn more about the best Paleo and gluten-free blogs, as well as inspiring/aspiring yogis out there! Let’s make 2014 the best. Happy New Year!

  • Summer

    January 1, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Get out of my head! ;) Your first post of the new year may be the one I refer back to the most! While our circumstances and motivations might be different, it’s amazing how your goals are EXACTLY the same as mine (and so many others’ I’m sure). Particularly #5 and the daily struggle this can be. Thank you for sharing them, and I look forward to following along. Happy New Year!

  • Betsy S

    January 1, 2014 at 9:35 am

    I have been on a journey for a few years to resolve whatever health situation has been ailing me, with minimal impact on those around me…and I actually don’t want to be the main researcher in my health journey, but I’ve realized a lot. This year, I am trying to make it more about self discovery, if I can’t figure out what is causing the symptoms, at least I can learn a lot about living the best life in the moment…I hate looking back at pictures of my darling kids and remembering how much I was hurting while simultaneously loving the moment…because ultimately fear is the greatest destroyer of living in the present. So, cheers to self discovery, as healthy as possible without missing more of life…and less worry about how it affects those around me and those i love….maybe the worry is part of the feeling badly!

    • whoorl

      January 1, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Oh, Betsy. I get it. I so get it. Looking through my Instagram photos this year, I see my kids smiles, but remember how crappy I felt most of the time. May I recommend a book for you to read about fear? I really enjoyed it – http://www.fearproofyourlife.com/fearproof.html

      • Betsy S

        January 1, 2014 at 7:39 pm

        Thanks for the link, I will check it out. I have been working (because it is work!) on finding my best. I definitely understand not feeling ready for the input of those who don’t know you, but I was wondering , do you have an actual diagnosis, or is your research still to figure out what made 2013 less than wonderful? For me, I know when it all started (one shift years ago), but it continues to be symptoms I’m reacting to, and not anything specific…which makes the fear even easier to access…so, I will get right on this book, because it can’t make anything worse! While, I have immense gratitude for this life I have, I hate looking back and thinking, “I missed so much of that moment”, or “imagine what that could have been if only I would have felt…”

  • Danielle

    January 1, 2014 at 9:41 am

    I’m trying to lower my gluten in 2014, but giving it up won’t happen. Again with the moderation there right? Anyway, I found this link the other day and thought you might like it. http://divinehealthfromtheinsideout.com/2013/12/80-gluten-free-slow-cooker-recipes/

  • Miss Mary

    January 1, 2014 at 9:48 am

    I wish you the best with your journey to health! I’ve been on the same journey for many years & I’ll try most anything to see if it helps. I did an 80% Paleo diet for 3 months and lowered my cholesterol & triglycerides by 2/3’s, something that all my docs said couldn’t be done with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis since it’s an autoimmune disease.

    brenebrown.com –By far the best at helping us to be our best self.

    healthylivinghowto.com –My fav



    marksdailyapple.com –The resource page is full of great recommendations for books, blogs, etc.


    • whoorl

      January 1, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Thank you!

  • Joy

    January 1, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Thanks for this great post, and for opening up as much as you did.

    I will be following your journey closely because I, too, am trying to do lots of self discovery and be more at peace with myself. I dealt with crippling anxiety for years and am happy to say that I’m enjoying the other side of it now, but every day is work so that I don’t fall back into my old negative self-talk ways. I have spent the last year eating so much healthier than ever before in my life, but I still have work to do there as well. We’re all works in progress and I do hope that you are able to get healthy and feel good physically and emotionally this year.

  • Jen

    January 1, 2014 at 10:22 am

    I also heartily recommend Mark’s Daily Apple. It’s not just about food, it’s about health & life. He’s smart, personable, reasonable, incredibly encouraging, full of science (if you like that), and the Friday “success stories” are downright inspiring. He’s also a great writer – it’s a pleasure to read his posts.

    Best wishes for healing and a joy-filled year, Sarah!

  • Stacey

    January 1, 2014 at 11:12 am

    The first quote really struck home with me. My 2013 had its major ups and downs also, and I keep wishing away the days until things get better. I’m going to work on concentrating on the small positives each day rather than dwell on the fact that things aren’t exactly how I want them. Thank you for that quote! I wish you improved health and happiness this year. Here’s to a great 2014!

  • Erica

    January 1, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Check out Against All Grain. The cookbook (yes, purchase the physical book) is AMAZING. the recipes exceeded any expectations I had. Also, the non paleo adults you are feeding will live her recipes as well. She has a blog too, but I haven’t been able to really get into her writting in that format.

    Good luck!

  • Sensibly Sassy

    January 1, 2014 at 11:24 am

    I wish you the best of luck on this journey! Yoga and paleo eating have changed my life and I am thrilled to see how they positively impact yours. Herre’s to 2014!!

  • lisa

    January 1, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Happy and healthy wishes to you in 2014! I look forward to learning along with you :-)

  • Caroline

    January 1, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Love you! 2014 is gonna rock and roll! ????????

  • Barb

    January 1, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    May you find peace and health in 2014! I know you will. I’ve always loved that quote by Marjorie Pay Hinckley- she was one of our beloved leaders in my church and is one of my biggest heroes. Her memoir is delightful if you want to read something uplifting, it’s called Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley.

  • Jennifer

    January 1, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    These are encouraging words for me as I’m on a similar journey with figuring out health stuff. Good times! I need to stop some of the vicious cycles I keep getting caught up in and that’s something I’m determined to do this year. Glad for all the links people have provided. Looking forward to checking them out. Nomnompaleo is one that I’ve referred to in the past that I like.

  • Darla

    January 1, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Similar journey… Similar approaches, except I’m weight lifting instead of primarily yoga.

    Some of my favorite clean eating and paleo blogs:






  • Carolyn

    January 1, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Wishing you peace and good health in 2014 and beyond! I highly recommend the following paleo blogs:
    Nom nom paleo
    The clothes make the girl (great recipes also in her cookbook, Well Fed, and she has a similar yoga and meditation-based approach)
    Whole 9 Life (their book “It Starts With Food” is also a great read and super informative)
    Rob Wolff (also check out his book, “The Paleo Solution”)
    Mark’s Daily Apple

    Sorry I don’t have links for the websites (silly iPhone), but they’re all easy to google.

  • Traci

    January 1, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Happy New Year! Here’s to 2014 being better than 2013 in oh so many ways.

  • Jessica Tucker

    January 1, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    I get annoyed when I surf Pinterest or see posts on fb by well meaning people suggesting that you have ultimate control over your brain, and you can at will, change your mood or thoughts. As a therapist, I often extoll the virtues of just letting thoughts be thoughts and feelings be feelings, accepting them for what they are, and then letting them go using radical acceptance and mindfulness skills. It’s nice to say but it doesn’t always scare away all of the monsters in the dark. For myself, I’m just trying to hang in and live through my worries (which is f’n exhausting). I wish you love and much Gatorade. Sounds like you at least have a plan.

  • Jessica Tucker

    January 1, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    If I could offer one suggestion, there is a fantastic book called “mans search for meaning”. The author, victor frankel was a survivor of the nazi camps. His life work has been to help make sense of tragedy. It’s a short read, but really speaks to suffering. I love this book both for myself and my former clients.

    • whoorl

      January 24, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      Thank you!

  • Lori

    January 2, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Great post…I totally relate. I have huge health anxiety and Google is NOT my friend either!
    I hope you have a much better year, and I look forward to reading about your illness/diagnosis/improvement!

  • Sarah

    January 2, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Ahh! You found a yoga studio you like…this makes me happy for you.

    Yes, I’m still one of those people that will tell nearly anyone, from coworkers to strangers, to do more yoga. I’m a yoga teacher without a studio or regular class, basically. But in keeping with my 2014 goals, I’m not going to apologize for the enthusiasm! (And I hope you join me in being one of those “Do More Yoga!” types!

  • Meghan @ Life Refocused

    January 2, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    Bravo to you for taking charge of your health, Sarah. As someone who has endured a health crisis, I can really relate to your post. I’m excited for you and this journey. Hope to “join” you along the way on my own path on the mat and off.

  • Marci

    January 3, 2014 at 10:06 am

    My friend and coworker is a devout Paleo ;) She recommends Mark’s Daily Apple (great information on foods and resources on illness/recovery) and Against All Grain (also overcame chronic illness through clean eating).

  • kiera

    January 3, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Sounds like you’re on a great path. Good job! Obviously I don’t know the specifics of what you’re dealing with but it sounds like you’re getting good advice and making good choices. Most of favorite paleo blog recommendations have already been made but I’ll add this link to The Clothes Make the Girl because it is a great blog and this post links to some other great paleo food bloggers with a list of great recipes right up front. http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2014/01/03/30-whole30-friendly-recipes/
    Best wishes!!

  • Faith

    January 4, 2014 at 6:09 am

    Are you familiar with the book “It Starts With Food” or Whole30? Check it out. So informational.

  • Jen Campisano

    January 4, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    I think sometimes that yoga has saved my life, no joke. I struggle with the idea of how “moderation” fits into any diet that is something-free (gluten, dairy, or otherwise), but I am paleo-curious. If my oncologist told me it would cure cancer, I’d sign on in a heartbeat. For now, I just try to limit processed foods, keep my wine intake to 3 glasses or less a week, and eat lots of organic veggies. I’ll be following along to see how you do and what you decide. All the best to you in 2014!

  • Sarah

    January 6, 2014 at 8:30 am

    A couple other have mentioned this, but read It Starts with Food. It’ll literally change your life and how you view nutrition and fueling your body. And as much as you’ll probably hate me saying this, you will not heal your body with a “paleo in moderation” approach. Please consider doing a Whole30 or Whole60 that is talked about in the book and once complete, slowly try to reintroduce things (like dairy, legumes, grains) to see how your body responds to each one. You may learn you have an intolerence you never knew about. Good luck on this journey :)

  • Pamela

    January 6, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Wow Sarah, so many exhilarating things are happening in your life right now! I came to a similar place last year when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I wanted to see if I could impact my health with diet and ended up following the Autoimmune protocol of the paleo diet. If your condition is autoimmune related, you might find benefit from reading thepaleomom.com blog. She writes the most extensively about that diet. She also has a lot about “leaky gut” and the possible link to autoimmune diseases of all kinds. I was stunned to read the list of things that should be avoided: eggs, especially whites, alcohol, legumes, caffeine, grains, dairy, and nuts to name a few. I’ve had such problems with many of these foods in the past. It makes me wonder about you because I recall you not being able to tolerate caffeine either. Email me if you want to talk further. I’d love to hear more about yoga. I know nothing about it.

  • Christy

    January 10, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Love what your plan is for your future. I have a few of the same goals. I just finished reading
    Browns book “the gifts of imperfection” and am rereading and love her breakdown. I felt the same way.
    I don’t know if it is the age “40” around the corner or that we are more aware of ourselves, but I see it a lot around this age. I wish you the best of luck on your physical and mental transformation.

  • raeann

    January 14, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I swear I could have written most of your posts so far in 2014. I too have been on an exhausting journey to figure out why the hell my brain started wigging out. I had 2 miscarriages, and truly think they set me on a spiral of pain and suffering. and, like you, I’ve tried everything. my latest journey is thru nutrition response testing with my acupuncturist. i’m only 1 week into this attempt, but have done food elimination in the past, so i’m trying to be optimistic.

    thanks for all the recommendations for books – I know mindfulness is amazing, it is just so, so hard. I’ve been wanting to read the 4 agreements, so def going to put it on my list now.

    I saw someone else suggested Byron Katie – the book is called loving what is. I read the second one – I need your love, is that true, and am now reading loving what is. I have heard from more people than I can count that it changed their life.

    and, I love yoga – so basically, it’s like we are the same person!:)

    good luck with this – I know exactly how you feel – down to the torn up wrist from rubber band snaps.