The Ketogenic (or Keto) Diet. You’ve probably heard of it somewhere or know someone who’s following it right now. Some say it’s just another fad diet while others swear by it and make it a way of life. Throughout my training to become a Primal Health Coach, I learned about the keto diet but never tried it myself. I eat clean, nutrient-dense, whole foods most of the time. When I occasionally indulge in non-primal foods (i.e. desserts, pizza) it’s made with high quality ingredients and gluten-free. I do love me a good slightly green banana by itself or in a shake with chocolate collagen protein powder or roasted sweet potatoes with butter and salt.
For those of you who are not familiar with the keto diet, it’s a way of eating in which you eat real nutrient-dense foods and keep your carbohydrate consumption at 50 grams or less per day. There are many health benefits to a ketogenic diet (many of which I will get into more detail in another post) including starving cancer cells. Cancer cells feed off of glucose so when you consume a super low carb diet the cancer cells have no food and they die. It’s also been shown to reverse type 2 diabetes. Of course, everyone should continue working closely with their doctor while treating a disease naturally.
I was inspired to do the keto diet for six weeks (this is the length of time Mark Sisson recommends in his book The Keto Reset Diet) for two reasons. The first reason was to conduct a personal experiment on myself to see how my body reacts to a super low carb diet. The second reason was to experience the keto diet so I can coach my clients who want to follow a keto diet.
I wanted to journal my personal six week keto journey with you. Enjoy!
The first two days were surprisingly really easy for me. I believe this is because I had never consumed less than 50 grams of carbs in one day, I have been following a primal lifestyle for six years already. I was also really excited to try new recipes. As an artist in the kitchen, this was a way for me to express myself and expand the menu of meals that eat.
There were two challenges to the first week.
Number one: I was REALLY hungry all the time, even after I ate a meal full of healthy proteins and fats. I was tracking my macros using the My Fitness Pal app on my phone which was extremely helpful. I learned that I was eating a bit too much protein and not enough fat. Fat is more calorically dense than protein and carbs so it keeps you feeling full longer.
Number two: I felt really fatigued during my workouts, especially during sprint workouts. I did ride my bike to and from work one day and I felt a little fatigued but not as much as during a sprint workout.
At the start of week two I was still feeling hungry most of the time and struggling to get through my sprint workouts. I decided to temporarily cut out my sprint workouts and stick to my strength training and low level cardio.
I increased my fat in take and decreased my protein and that seemed to help me feel more satiated. I was craving bananas and sweet potatoes just about every day. The interesting thing is that I was not having any sugar cravings. This was surprising to me because I have a big sweet tooth. Put a dark chocolate gluten-free cheesecake in front of me and I’ll devour a piece while making weird noises.
This was the week that I would be tested. We were heading up to Reno for my friend, Stephanie’s wedding in which I was a bridesmaid. Stephanie and I have been friends for many years and I was truly honored to be a part of her big day so I wanted to celebrate as much as I could with her.
The morning of the wedding, the bridal party went to get pedicures at a really cute boutique nail spa called Soak. After we sat down and our feet were soaking in a warm bath of soapy water we were offered an adult beverage. Whenever I do a strict primal eating challenge I usually avoid alcohol. However, I gave myself permission to make an exception since it was Stephanie’s wedding. I promised myself I would not go overboard. I’m not a big drinker to begin with so going overboard would not have been an option even if I wasn’t doing a keto.
So, I ordered a Bailey’s and coffee with whipped cream. It came in a giant mug with lots of whipped cream. I only enjoyed half of it before it became too sweet for my taste. Later on I had a few glasses of champagne while we were getting ready.
I may have exceeded 50 grams of carbs (though probably not by much) that day but I wasn’t hard on myself because of it. I knew the next day I would get back on track and that’s exactly what I did.
At the beginning of week four I started to get a sore throat and it became a full blown head cold within a few days. This was most likely from the lack of sleep from the previous weekend. I’ve learned to pay attention to what’s happening in my life when I get sick (which is not that often). If I’m eating clean when I get sick, I’m usually feeling anxious or not sleeping enough and my immune system shuts down.
Whenever I’m sick my go-to comfort meal is tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread. Of course my craving for this made it very difficult to stick to my keto challenge. I was very tempted to go to Trader Joe’s and buy all the ingredients. Instead, I ate some tomato soup with broccoli to help me feel better. We tend to eat comfort foods for psychological reasons rather than the fact that our bodies actually needing the nutrients. Even though the tomato soup was not that low carb, the ingredients weren’t too bad.
Week five was a real challenge for me because I knew we were over half way done. By this time, I was really craving a banana every time I laid eyes on one. Especially the bananas that are still slightly green and when you bite into them they’re the perfect consistency: not too hard and not too soft. This week felt like the never ending trail when we hiked Mt. Whitney last October. After hiking 11 miles with 6,000 feet in elevation gain up to the summit of Mt. Whitney we still needed to hike 11 miles back down to the portal. We had about 3-4 miles to go and it felt like the trail was never going to end. Every time we turned a corner I expected to see the signs at the trailhead and all I saw was more trail. I kept walking (eating keto aligned foods) and I knew eventually I would get to the finish line.
And the finish line was in sight. During week six, I was reflecting on my keto journey. I learned a lot about myself and my body the past six weeks. Toward the end of the week I gave myself permission to give in to temptation and enjoyed some gluten free toast and white potatoes.
1. My favorite workout workout to do is sprints, preferably hill sprints. When I ran sprints during my keto challenge I did not have as much power as I usually do. I learned this the first week and thought maybe my body just needs to adjust. During my sixth week I still didn’t have as much power. I learned that my body does better during a sprint workout when I’m eating clean starchy foods like sweet potatoes and bananas.
2. It was more difficult for me to fast during keto. I rarely eat breakfast since I’ve switched over to a primal aligned eating pattern so I’m not hungry in the mornings. While eating keto I was usually always hungry in the morning. I like getting the benefits of fasting.
3. Before our keto challenge, I was getting a little lazy with my food intake and eating more non-primal aligned foods than I should have been. I definitely felt very energetic and had a clear mind while eating keto. Even though I’ve chosen not to eat keto 100% of the time it was a good reminder to be more mindful of what I put in my body. Even as a Primal Health Coach it was a really good reset for me.
What I Ate During My Keto Journey
Breakfast: Coffee shake with Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel protein powder, MCT oil, and cacao powder or eggs and veggies.
Lunch: HBK Salad with healthy proteins (sardines, grass-fed sausages, hard boiled eggs) and fats (HBK Ranch Dressing, olive oil, avocado, etc).
Dinner: Healthy protein (salmon, mahi mahi, grass-fed burger, grass-fed sausages, grass-fed bison, or eggs) and non-starchy veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, kale, or spinach).
If you’re interested in seeing if keto is a good fit for you, please feel free to reach out to me for coaching. I’m happy to help!
The holidays are coming soon, at lightening speed this year it seems. With the holidays comes many stresses including choosing the perfect gift for your special someone, potential weight gain from indulging in too many sweets and adult beverages, dealing with crowds, and many more. I’ve found the holidays tend to become more stressful and not as enjoyable as an adult.
I’ve always loved this time of year when the leaves were turning color, the weather starts to get cooler, and it’s ok to start making and eating everything pumpkin. When I was a kid, I always looked forward to getting the 1,000 page JC Penny catalogue and turning the pages for hours on end circling all the cool toys and gadgets I wanted Santa to bring me. I never felt stressed about the holidays coming up, just excited to see what would be under the Christmas tree the morning of December 25th.
As an adult, my values have changed (obviously) and the holiday season has a different energy to it. I no longer think about the presents I want to find under the tree. Instead, I decide which steps I’m going to take to be proactive to lower my stress levels instead of allowing them to rise due to the pressures of the holiday season from our current society. Do I indulge a little on non-primal food and drinks this time of year? Yes, absolutely! After all, I am human and there are still certain foods and beverages I like to enjoy occasionally.
It’s so easy to get on the internet and spend money on material items that will likely take up space in someone’s home and not be used. It’s also easy to allow ourselves to eat anything that’s in front of us because “it’s the holidays, it’s ok to indulge.” We tell ourselves, “I’ll start my eating better and working out on January 1st. Until then I’ll enjoy the holidays and eat whatever I want.”
In my opinion, the holidays should be treated like any other time of the year. You should still focus on eating nutrient-dense foods but also indulge every now and then. You should also focus on keeping your stress levels low as much as possible. And you should keep moving.
Here are my tips for having a fun, relaxing, and meaningful holiday season:
Focus on quality time spent with loved ones and friends rather than which material items to buy them. My siblings and I decided years ago we were only going to buy gifts for the kids and not for each other. Even though we all live in different parts of the country and we can’t always spend the holidays together, a phone conversation getting caught up on everything exciting happening in our lives is more meaningful than an item of clothing or piece of jewelry. I have more fun hanging out with my family enjoying a good meal together or watching Christmas movies than I do opening gifts.
When purchasing gifts, focus on gifts someone will use frequently or give them an experience they might not otherwise give themselves. When I do give a gift, it’s usually an item they can use on a daily basis or a gift certificate to a place they can have a meaningful experience. For example, we usually get my parents a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or a restaurant that they might not normally go to.
When my mom asks us each year,”What do you want for Christmas?” I usually don’t have an answer for her. Last year Scot and I told her we want a burr coffee grinder. We make homemade cold brew coffee quite frequently in a large batch. This requires grinding lots of coffee beans at once. We have an easy-to-use hand grinder but we found it was too time consuming to grind all the beans using this we need for a large batch of cold brew. So, we asked for nice burr grinder that we would use frequently. This was one of the best gifts we’ve received because we use it quite often.
Instead of focusing on the foods you don’t eat since you’ve started eating real nutrient-dense food, focus on finding new fall comfort food recipes that are primal friendly. I’ve become really good at recreating my favorite comfort foods and making them primal. I do this because I love to cook and create new recipes. It’s one way I like to challenge myself and I always learn something new related to cooking. One of my favorite recipes I’ve created in my kitchen is my Bacon Kale Butternut Squash Soup. Butternut squash is a great fall starchy vegetable to have after a sprint session or high intensity workout or if you’re just wanting a hot soup. You can make and freeze this soup in single size portions so you can enjoy it on a busy day by just heating it up. However, you don’t have to do this on your own. There are so many recipes online and many primal/paleo cookbooks that have done the job for you.
Get moving! Keep up your normal workout routine regardless of how busy your schedule is this time of year. Take 10-15 minutes breaks every few hours or so to go for a walk or do 20 burpees, 20 push ups and 20 squats. If you don’t have 10-15 minutes, take a one minutes break and do 10 push ups or 10 squats. When you’re at the mall shopping for gifts park really far away from the entrance so you have to walk farther. Better yet, park on the other side of the mall from the entrance and walk all the way around. If you haven’t started a workout routine get started. If you need help figuring out how to fit exercise into your busy schedule, please reach out to me. I’m happy to help!
Give yourself permission to indulge in some holiday treats in moderation. This is really important because if we’re stressed out over what we eat our cortisol levels increase which could cause weight gain regardless of what we eat or don’t eat. One holiday tradition that we have in our family is to drink mimosas and Bailey’s Irish Cream in our coffee on Christmas morning. This is a holiday treat I look forward to every year.
If I’m having a holiday dinner at someone else’s house I always offer to bring a side dish or dessert and make sure it’s primal friendly. I don’t get caught up in whether or not the turkey is pasture-raised or the vegetables are organic. I also indulge in a piece of bread if it’s available. As long as you don’t have celiac or a gluten intolerance I think it’s ok to enjoy a piece of bread every now and then. The one food I won’t eat at all is margarine or any other kind of fake butter. Besides the fact that it’s not good for you due to the vegetable oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids, I won’t eat because it is I just don’t like it. However, I will enjoy a piece of bread with real butter on it every now and then. I fill my plate with a little bit of protein and the rest with vegetables, focusing on eating the protein and vegetables first and the bread last. I have a big sweet tooth so I usually always have dessert especially if pumpkin pie is served.
Take time each day to be alone and enjoy some quiet time. This is a great way to start your day before the busyness of the day takes you away to your to do list. Take frequent breaks throughout the day to take a few deep breaths or go for a walk to get some fresh air. Give your mind a break from focusing on the task at hand and just be still. Even one minute of this can make a difference in your mood and stress levels.
Hire a health coach to be your accountability partner throughout the holiday season. One of the reasons I chose to become a health coach is to help others become the healthiest and happiest versions of themselves. One of the benefits of having a health coach (or a coach of any kind) is having someone who is your ally and will hold you accountable to taking the action steps that will help you reach your health and fitness goals. I have a 30 day program that will help you get jump started on your health goals. I also offer a 12 week program that will help get you through the holiday season and have an amazing start to the new year. If you’re looking for a longer commitment I offer a 6 month program which will get you through almost half of 2018.
The holiday season shouldn’t be a time of worrying about whether or not your favorite jeans are going to fit at the end of the year. It should be a stress-free time of celebration and fun along with a little indulgence in your favorite holiday treats. They should be enjoyable!
Thanks for reading! I’d love hear your takeaways from this post.
We had such a great time in Austin, Texas, this past week visiting family and friends and making new friends at Palo f(x). If you haven’t been to Austin and you like to eat delicious food and enjoy the outdoors (when it’s not 95 degrees and 100% humidity), I highly recommend visiting this fun city.
Austin is considered the Paleo capital of the United States so it’s only fitting that the ancestral health convention, Paleo f(x), is held there. The conference was held downtown at the Palmer Events Center right next to Lady Bird Lake, renamed in 2007 from Town Lake to Lady Bird Lake in honor of the former United States First Lady Lady Bird Johnson. This reservoir type lake is great for kayaking or paddle boarding. We kayaked on this lake when we were in Austin last November. There’s also hiking and bike trails around the lake to enjoy as well.
Here are a few highlights from my first Paleo f(x) experience.
When I walked into the expo for the first time on Friday morning I was thrilled to see the Primal Blueprint booth right in the front. Primal Blueprint was founded by Mark Sisson, who is one of the people on the forefront of the ancestral health movement. Mark writes the widely popular paleo/primal blog marksdailyapple.com, which I have been reading for the last five years. Scot referred me to his blog when we met and I’ve been hooked on it ever since. Mark is also the creator of the best healthy mayonnaise in the world, Primal Kitchen Mayonnaise.
About three years ago, Mark launched the Primal Health Coach Certification, which is the first ancestral health coaching certification. When this certification was launched I signed up for it and became certified. I was excited to have the opportunity to meet Mark and take a picture with him. And he gave me a hug for completing the health coaching certification. I also met two of the ladies, Erin and Laura, on the Primal Health Coach support team. It was awesome to be able to thank them in person for they’re hard work they do behind the scenes to support us and give us the resources that help us build a successful coaching business.
I also had the pleasure of sitting in the audience during Mark’s keynote talk about creating your life’s work out of your passion. The number one takeaway from his message for me was that your passion finds you and you don’t find it. And it can change depending in your interests and where you are on your life journey. My passion on this part of life journey is helping others optimize their health by living a primal lifestyle. It brings me so much joy to teach a cooking class on how to create nutrient dense meals at home that are quick and easy. Or coaching a client to help them achieve their weight loss goals by making small changes that are simple but not always easy. Not only are they losing weight, but they are healthier in all areas in their life by making better lifestyle choices.
One of my other passions at this time is fitness. Although I’m really passionate about improving my own fitness level, I’m also passionate about helping others achieve their fitness goals. Darryl Edwards is well known in the paleoshere for his expertise in primal play. He teaches folks how to incorporate primal play into their lifestyle. Part of this play is teaching folks how to move like animals: bears, ducks, cats, rabbits, etc. It may sound and look easy but it is definitely challenging. Scot and I attended one of Darryl’s Animal Moves workshops at Paleo f(x) and it was definitely one of the most challenging workouts I’ve done. It was a lot of core strength in which I don’t have a lot of at this time but I’m working on improving. He is a master at primal play and animals moves and makes it look easy. He moves like a bear or a monkey with such grace that it looks so simple. I was definitely inspired by Darryl to incorporate animal moves into my daily movement routine.
After the workshop, I asked Darryl if he would take a photo with me. He said, “Yes, but you have to give me a piggy back ride.” I said, “Are you serious?” He said, “Yes!” I said, “Ok, let’s do this!”
There’s always something unconventional coming up in the paleoshere. The newest up and coming thing is camel milk. Yes, it sounds weird, but it actually tastes a lot like cow’s milk. We had the privilege of sampling camel milk at the expo. It’s lower in lactose which means it’s more easily digestible for most folks who are lactose intolerant. It also has less fat and calories and more vitamin C and B3 than cow’s milk.
They were offering free camel rides at the conference. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to ride one of the camels. One of the camels did agree to take a photo with us.
There were many vendors there that make meat bars and sticks. My favorite vendors were the ones with the dark chocolate. This wasn’t just any chocolate. It was gourmet dark chocolate. The good stuff.
We made new friends and learned about new scientific research about how to find the optimal diet for each individual. There was so much to see and so many great experts to listen to all under one roof. I left Paleo f(x) inspired and motivated to help people become the healthiest versions of themselves.
Thanks for reading!
Today I’ll talk about the tools I use in the kitchen to make my meals as healthy as possible. These are in no particular order of importance.
Cast Iron Skillet
These days we mostly use cast iron skillets when we cook because they’re great for cooking meat and vegetables. You can use them on gas and induction stove tops and in the oven so they are multi-use and versatile. You can also get extra iron intake from using them. They’re really easy to take care of and clean. Get one that comes already seasoned with oil. The more you use it the more seasoned it becomes and the better your food will taste. We just scrape the chunks of food out with steel wool and wipe it down with a paper towel. Every once in a while, we’ll season it with MCT oil, which has no flavor so it won’t add flavor to your food like olive oil or coconut oil might. If there’s food stuck on the skillet we will soak it in HOT WATER ONLY (no soap, as the skillet will absorb the soap which will get into your food). If there are no food chunks in it we will leave the left over cooking fat in there for the next time we cook. It adds lots of flavor to the next dish we make.
10 or 12 inch Ceramic Coated Skillet
If you don’t want to go with a cast iron skillet, the next best thing is a ceramic coated skillet. It’s safer than Teflon non-stick cookware which can release toxins into your food as you cook. Ceramic is a much safer and healthier choice than other non-stick skillets. We have a 12 inch ceramic skillet that we use when we cook more than two pounds of meat at a time and it works great. It’s easy to clean and it’s dishwasher safe.
Rectangular Glass Baking Dish
A glass baking dish is not just for baking brownies. It’s great for roasting vegetables, making casseroles, primal friendly lasagna, baking meatballs and meat patties. It’s really easy to clean; just put it in the dishwasher.
Glass Loaf Pan
I love making my bison meatloaf in my glass loaf pan. I don’t need to coat it with cooking fat because the meat has enough fat in it that comes out as it cooks that the meatloaf doesn’t stick to the pan. It’s also great for baking primal friendly breads.
Stainless Steel 3 Quart Sauce Pan
I absolutely love my stainless steal 3 quart sauce pan! I use it just about everyday. It’s great for heating up homemade bone broth, making shrimp coconut curry, and tomato sauce. A high quality stainless steel sauce pan is a safe multi-use staple to have in your kitchen.
InstaPot Slow/Pressure Cooker
This is hands down one of my favorite kitchen staples. It can be used as a slow cooker to make delicious chili or homemade bone broth. Or you can use it as a pressure cooker to cook your meals in minutes. And, as a bonus, it’s really easy to clean. Check out this cookbook for great InstaPot Pressure Cooker recipes.
Oven Safe Glass Food Storage Containers
Oven safe glass food storage containers are essential for efficient meal prep. They’re great for storing precooked meals you can just take out of the fridge and reheat without dirtying any other dishes. We use them to store washed and chopped vegetables.
Before I started my paleo/primal journey, I ate lots of pasta. I love the combination of homemade marinara sauce with meat and vegetables. Zucchini noodles, or zoodles, are a great alternative to high-carb wheat pasta and they’re really easy to make with the Spiralizer. It’s really easy to use and comes with three different attachments so you can choose different size noodles. All the parts are dishwasher safe. I recommend rinsing the parts under hot water before putting them in the dishwasher to make sure they get really clean.
Glass or Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls (Various Sizes)
About 10 years ago, I received one of my favorite Christmas gifts: 10 piece glass mixing bowl set from William Sonoma. This was the only thing I wanted for Christmas because I knew I would use them frequently and they are really durable. They have been through seven moves with me and lots of use and are still in great shape. I use the small bowls to mix my homemade taco seasoning. One of the medium size bowl are great for dips such as homemade guacamole. The large ones are good for bringing salads to dinner parties and mixing ingredients for baked goods.
We try not to waste food so a silicon scraper spatula is perfect for making sure we get all the left overs from the sauce pan to the glass storage container. It’s great for scraping the bowl when I make my homemade salad dressing or homemade primal waffles.
I love to make anything I can homemade: lotion, deodorant, toothpaste, salad dressing, taco seasoning, tarter sauce, lip gloss, etc. Measuring spoons are a must have tool in my kitchen to make as many homemade products as I can. Most of these items take less than 10 minutes to make. The best part is that I have control over the quality of ingredients I use so I know I’m putting the best ingredients in and on my body at any given time.
Measuring cups are another essential tool in my kitchen mostly because I make so many things from scratch. You’ll need this for many of the recipes you make. If you’re going to start cooking most of your meals yourself, this is a must have tool in your kitchen.
A high quality blender is great for making homemade soups, nut milks, ice cream, sauces, dressings, smoothies, and much more. We have a Blendtech because it can handle blending whole foods and nuts with ease.
Kitchen Aide Stand Mixer
The Kitchen Aide Stand Mixer is my favorite piece of equipment in my kitchen. I use it for baking, mixing meat for meatloaf and patties, making dips, and much more. The mixer comes with a wire whisk, flat paddle, bread hook, and shield. However, you can purchase more attachments such as a spiralizer and ice cream maker. We have the ice cream maker attachment and make homemade primal-approved ice cream that is so creamy and delicious. There are different sizes of mixers to choose from depending on the space you have in your kitchen. You can also choose from glass and stainless steel for your bowl. They are both great options.
These kitchen staples make it easy for us to make primal-approved nutrient-dense meals at home that are delicious and easy to make. We’re now hosting a Primal Cooking Basics class at our home the forth Saturday of each month. I invite you to join us so you can see first hand how we use these kitchen staples.
Thanks for reading everyone!
Today I’m going to talk about personal challenges and the benefits and struggles of them along with how to choose which challenges to do. I call them challenges because I’m challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone to either be more productive with my time or develop healthier habits. Every month, Scot and I experiment with different challenges. Some of them are challenges that we repeat regularly while others are new.
Challenges can either be eliminating an activity or food or adding something positive into your life for a specified time period. Today I’ll share six ideas for challenges that we incorporate in our house.
21 Day Primal Eating Challenge
Scot and I just finished a 21 day primal eating challenge with a few friends. We all focused on eating only primal approved foods for 21 days. Primal approved foods are grass-fed/pasture raised (if you can find it) meat, wild caught fish, eggs from pasture raised chickens (if available), healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, etc.), nuts and seeds, and lots of vegetables. You basically want to cut out bread, grains, processed foods, dairy (temporarily for some), and unhealthy fats (vegetable oil, canola oil, soy oil, etc.). This is one of the first things I encourage all of my health coaching clients to do to jump start their primal health journey.
One key benefit of this challenge, since it tends to be low-carb, is reprogramming your genes to train your body to become a fat burner instead of a sugar/carb burner for energy. When you become a fat burner your body dips into your fat stores to use as energy to keep you moving and thinking clearly. Another benefit to this challenge is your fueling your body with high quality nutrient dense food to nourish your body and mind.
The challenge comes when you have a family event to go to or have prescheduled dinner planned with friends who are not focusing on eating a primal aligned diet. It can be difficult when there are limited food options for you on the menu. The number one thing I’ve learned from personal experience is to not get stressed out about eating something that is not primal. I’ve learned which foods are ok to eat occasionally and which foods I absolutely will not eat no matter what (processed cured lunch meat is one of them).
No-Spend Month Challenge
Every four or five months Scot and I will do a “no-spend” month in which we only spend money to satisfy our basic needs: food, water, and shelter. If we don’t need it to survive we don’t buy it. It’s very simple.
The number one benefit to this challenge is obvious: we save more money. The more money we have saved up, the closer we are to achieving our financial freedom goals. The number two benefit to this challenge is we spend our time differently. We focus our decision making energy on activities that will assist us with improving our health and wellness such as meal planning. Meal planning is crucial to the success of eating a clean primal aligned diet especially when our schedules are full.
Amber Colored Glasses Challenge
Quality sleep is one of the most important variables of optimal health. With technology these days, it can be difficult to get a good nights sleep mostly because the screens and light bulbs that light up our night produce blue light which increases our cortisol levels and suppresses our melatonin levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that keeps us alert and awake. Melatonin lets our body know that it’s time to go sleep.
When our primal ancestors were winding down at night they would typically sit around a fire sharing stories or playing music. The orangish hues of fire has been imprinted in our genes for our bodies to produce melatonin to signal sleep time. So, wearing amber glasses helps your body produce melatonin to enable you to relax and wind down to get good quality sleep.
The challenge is to wear amber glasses every night as soon as the sun goes down to block the blue light coming from screens and light bulbs and keep a journal on your quality of sleep. Write down how you feel when you wake up. Do you feel refreshed and ready for the day? Or do you feel sluggish?
No Alarm Clock Challenge
This challenge can be difficult since most people are accustomed to waking up to an alarm. Our primal ancestors would typically go to sleep a few hours after the sun went down and woke up around the time the sun came up. This programmed our genes to align our sleep with our natural circadian rhythm.
We rarely wake up to an alarm clock. If we do, we wake up to a sunrise alarm clock, the sounds of birds chirping, or a nice, mellow ring tone; not a jarring buzzing sound that creates the fight-or-flight response in our bodies. It’s a much more natural way to wake up.
When you go to bed within a few hours of the sun going down and wake up naturally feeling refreshed and energized, take note of how many hours you slept. This is most likely the number of hours you need to get an adequate night of sleep. This is one of the benefits of waking up naturally.
When I first started waking up without an alarm clock it did cause some anxiety when I did it the night before having to go to work. I was worried I wouldn’t wake up in time. Once I trained my body to wake up around 7:00am or 7:30am naturally I stopped worrying about whether or not I was going to wake up in time or not. I encourage you to try it on a night in which you don’t have to wake up at a certain time the next morning.
No Internet Challenge
The internet can be a very useful tool, but can also be a huge distraction if not used properly or used too much. Surfing the internet has never been enjoyable for me. If I’m on the internet it’s because I’m looking for something specific. Occasionally I will allow myself to be distracted by going down a rabbit hole of nonsense that isn’t related to the topic I’m researching at the moment.
Scot, on the other hand, enjoys browsing the internet, shopping or reading blog posts. This is one of the ways he likes to wind down and relax. We all need activities that get us out of our normal routine. It becomes a problem when all you’re doing is surfing the web and not getting outside to get exercise and sunshine, or you’re not having enough face-to-face interaction with your friends and family, and you’re not getting good sleep because you’re up late shopping on the internet for items you don’t necessarily need.
If this sounds like you, I challenge you to do a No Internet Challenge. Only use the internet if you absolutely need to (i.e. you need it for a work task). When you’re at home with your family turn off the internet and have meaningful conversation with friends and family or go for a walk. Replace your internet with more meaningful activities that will serve you better now and in the future.
No Movies or TV on “School Nights” Challenge
This is the challenge we do most often in our house. I love watching movies! It’s one of my top five activities that relaxes me. I really enjoy watching a great movie that makes me think or even a cheesy RomCom that takes me out of my current reality for a few hours.
Personally, though, the downfall to watching TV or movies every night is it interferes with my sleep. I’m more likely to stay up later than I normally would because after the movie or TV show is finished I still need to clean up dishes and get ready for bed.
We do challenges where we don’t watch TV or movies on nights when we have work the next morning, typically Sunday through Thursday nights. Y’know...”school nights”. Instead of watching a show, we’ll sit down across from each other at dinner, listen to music, and have a meaningful conversation. We enjoy our homemade primal meal and relax as we wind down for the evening. Our bodies digest food and absorb nutrients more efficiently when we are relaxed as we eat.
There are an infinite number of challenges you can do to improve your health and your life in general. Think about areas of your life in which you know you can do better and create a challenge around those. Brainstorm with a friend or family member (someone you trust) on challenges you can do together. You can hold each accountable each day and then celebrate at the end of the challenge, even if you didn’t complete the challenge 100%. The purpose is not to be perfect but to learn from it.
What challenge will you start with?
Thanks so much for reading!
“The best way to obtain personal growth is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Personal growth is a topic I’ve study for many years now. One of the most important things I learned along the way is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’ve transformed my life significantly by stepping out of my comfort zone in ways that I never imagined I would. I’ve heard it said many times “if you’re not growing, you’re dying.” Stepping out of your comfort zone is scary regardless of the frequency or magnitude. The rewards of being uncomfortable, even if it’s for a short amount of time, are truly amazing.
I’ve made it a daily habit to do something, even if it’s small, to push myself out of my comfort zone every day. Sometimes it’s pushing myself to do one more round or one more rep during my workout. Other times it’s cooking a new recipe I’ve written not knowing if it will taste good or bad and not having a back up plan for dinner. For someone who’s really shy, this could be smiling and saying hello to a stranger on the street. Your smile might just make that person’s day.
In June of 2016, Scot and I hiked the Kalalau Trail on the Napali Coast on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. It’s an 11 mile hike to the end of the trail where you arrive at Kalalau Beach, a beach in which you can only hike or kayak to. Boats or jet skis are not allowed on the beach. It’s rated one of the most difficult and dangerous hikes in the world. When Scot first told me he wanted to hike the Napali Coast and I agreed to do it, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. What I did know was that I would be stepping way outside my comfort zone mostly because we would be backpacking for three days and I had never been backpacking before.
He did tell me there were six streams we had to cross to get to the beach. I had a huge fear of crossing streams that I created (yes, I created this fear in my head) when we hiked through Convict Canyon near Mammoth. On our way back to our car on the Convict Canyon trail, it started raining and the stream rose and the undercurrent grew stronger. Crossing the stream was more challenging going back than it was coming. I remember standing on a rock in the middle of the stream and my legs were shaking so bad because I was so scared. I knew one misstep and I would be swept away with the current or so I thought. Scot had already made it across to the other side. He kept telling me, “You can do it. I’ll be here to catch you.” He was confident I would make it so I went for it. I made it across safe and sound and in one piece.
When you step out of your comfort zone it’s ok to feel a little scared and nervous. As long as you are not putting your life or anyone else’s life in danger it’s beneficial to your health to do activities that scare you every now and then. When we are put in a stressful situation it brings out one if our most important primal responses that our genes expect: the fight-or-flight response. Our fight-or-flight response protects us when our primal instincts are telling us we’re in danger by increasing our cortisol levels. When our cortisol levels are increased, we are more alert. This helps us to to be more aware of our surroundings. This was beneficial to us when were on the Kalalau trail because for a good portion of the trail we were on the edge of a 400 ft cliff. One misstep and we would be fish food in the ocean.
The night before we started our first backpacking adventure together, I started to have a lot of anxiety about the stream crossings even though we called the ranger and she said the streams were crossable. One of the things that I allowed to triggered my anxiety was that it was raining more than usual for that time of year. The streams can be crossable one minute and flooding the next. Something inside of me was telling me everything would work out. And Scot’s reassurance helped also. When you do something you’ve never done before and your belief in yourself isn’t as strong as it should be, it helps when someone you trust believes in you.
When we arrived at the Kalalau trail head at Ke’e Beach it started sprinkling. The man who gave us a ride to the trailhead said the rain meant that the island was blessing us. At that moment I knew we would be ok no matter what happened.
It took us about 10 hours to hike the 11 miles to Kalalau beach. When we approached mile seven, we arrived at Crawler’s Ledge, which is exactly how it sounds. It’s a two foot wide trail that had a rock wall on one side and a 400 foot cliff on the other. You literally had to crawl along the rock wall so you didn’t fall of the cliff. Scot didn’t tell me about Crawler’s Ledge before hand because he thought it would discourage me from going on the hike at all. This was the most technical part of trail. We kept each other going with positive talk and focusing on our next step.
We were so happy to be at the beach and be able to set up camp, eat dinner, and relax. The next day we began our hike back to the other campsite which was about 5 miles, just about the half way point. That night it rained pretty much the whole night on and off. I was up most of night worried about the stream crossings getting off the trail. The first stream crossing on our last day hiking was right next to our campsite. The stream had flooded and was difficult to cross and it took us about 30-45 minutes to figure how to make it to the other side without being swept away with the current.
We knew if we wanted to make this work without risking our lives we had to get creative and think outside the box. Scot put his pack down and tried to cross without the extra weight on his back. When he made it across I thought,”We’ve got this!” I started to take things out of his pack and throw them over to him one at a time since it was too risky to throw the whole pack at once. I then did the same thing with my pack. I kept my trekking poles with me for support and crossed successfully. I felt so relieved when we were both on the other side of the stream. That particular stream crossing increased my confidence so much that I had no doubt after that that we would make it off the trail in one piece that same day.
It continued to drizzle through the remainder of the hike out. We still had one more big stream crossing before we were totally clear. I was extremely determined to make it to the end of the trail that day because we were flying to Maui the next day to stay at a 5-star resort for the next four nights.
When we got to the final stream crossing the water was up to my chest. One of the park rangers was at the other side of the stream along with other people helping to pull people across. There were three more people that we were leap frogging with on the way out that were crossing the stream when we arrived. Scot was worried about me being swept away with the strong under current. I was confident that we would make it across the stream just fine.
I approached the stream with Scot in front of me and stepped into the water. I felt how strong the under current was and told Scot to go for it and that I was ok. Thankfully there was a giant boulder under water that we were able to step up on to so the water wasn’t so high on us. Scot grabbed the park ranger’s hand and she assisted in pulling him out of the water. Immediately following that, Scot pulled me out of the water. When we were on dry ground I started crying tears of joy. I was overwhelmed with emotion thinking about the last three days. That hike was the hardest thing physically, emotionally, and mentally that I had ever done in my life.
We still had two miles to hike to reach the trail head so we weren’t quite finished yet but we over came the last obstacle. After we hiked the last two miles, we hitched a ride to Hanalei where we were going to take the bus back to our hotel. We had some time to kill so we enjoyed a cup of cold brew coffee and bowl of macadamia nut ice cream (yes, I know it's not paleo or primal). That was the BEST (and probably always will be) cup of cold brew coffee I’ve ever had.
I felt incredibly relaxed and proud of myself for doing what I did the past three days. The experience increased by confidence in my ability to tackle any obstacle that comes my way whether it be physical or mental or both. It also taught me that when you have a very strong why you can achieve anything with enough determination and belief in yourself. My why was catching a flight the next day to Maui to relax at a five star resort for three days. I was determined to make it on that flight no matter what. I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way. Those three days in Maui were my reward for pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
Since our Kalalau adventure, we’ve hiked to the peak of Mount San Jacinto near Palm Springs, CA, with three feet of snow and, at times, questionable weather. The peak is at 10,800 feet and there's an elevation gain of 2,190 feet. That was a piece of cake compared to the 400 foot cliffs and two foot wide trails we walked along in Kauai.
You don't have to go back packing in the jungle to have personal growth. Just go do something every day that scares you a little. I challenge you to do one thing outside of your comfort zone every day for the next 21 days and write down how you feel before, during, and after. I guarantee by day 21 you will have increased your confidence.
I welcome all e-mails to let me know what you did and how you feel.
Thanks so much for reading!
“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”
5 Tips on How to Incorporate Eating Real Food into a Busy Life
You’ve been reading and hearing from your coworkers and friends about how beneficial it is to eat real, nutrient dense food and you want to try it out. You’re not sure where to start and you have all sorts of reasons why you can’t work it into your lifestyle: you don’t like left overs, you don’t have time to cook, you don’t like to cook, you don’t know how to cook, etc. These are all valid reasons for a majority of the population. Everyone is “really busy”. So, how do the people who are working 40 hours a week, have three kids to care for, plus make the time to workout make the time to cook real food? Today I’m going to give you tips on how I create home cooked meals we enjoy so you can be the leanest, fittest and healthiest version of yourself.
1. Get to Know Your WHY
Your WHY is going to be your motivation for prepping food when you’re too tired or you just don’t “feel” like it. To figure out your why, go to a place that is quiet and peaceful for you with a pen or pencil and a piece of paper. Yes, a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. There’s something about actually writing down your thoughts and feelings the old school way that’s completely different than typing it on your computer, phone or iPad.
Why do you want to eat clean? Do you have a health condition you’d like to improve? Did a family member or close friend just get diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? Do you want to be able to run around with your kids at the park? There are an infinite number of reasons people want to be healthy. Really dig down deep inside you and write down why you want to be lean, fit, and healthy. Write down whatever thoughts come to you whether you think they’re valid or not.
For example, I eat real food and take the time to prep my food in advance so I feel great physically and mentally. I love my sleep and when I don’t sleep well because I’m not eating well I’m not in the best mood and I have a hard time focusing on anything. I want to eat food my body is designed to digest to avoid stomach aches and heartburn. I want to be in great physical shape just case I get invited to climb Mt. Whitney or any other mountain I have on my “mountains to climb/hikes to go on” list spur of the moment. If we have a natural disaster I want to be physically and mentally able to help people if needed. And I have a really long list of things I’d like to do and accomplish in my life so I want to live for many, many, many, many more years.
When you have your list written down (you can always add more to your list as you think of more reasons, as you probably will) write it down on a 3x5 index card and keep it with you at all times. When you have moments of weakness (which you will have, we all have them at some point) pull our your list and read it aloud or to yourself. This will help you switch your mindset and create the motivation to do what you need to do to eat real home cooked meals.
2. Plan Your Meals in Advance
I believe planning your meals in advance in critical to eating clean regularly. When I get home the last thing I want to do is make a decision after I’ve been making decisions all day. Our brains need a break because they can actually get “fried.” I love coming home knowing exactly what we’re making for dinner and not having to think about it.
Every Saturday or Sunday (depending on what we have going on on the weekend) I sit down for 5-10 minutes and plan the menu for the week. We eat a salad just about every day for lunch so that’s an easy one for me. We usually have eggs, bacon, sausage and veggies ready for breakfast if we eat breakfast. Most of the time we incorporate intermittent fasting into our day in the morning. (More on that in another blog post).
Find recipes that are appetizing and easy for you to prep in advance or the night you’re going to eat each meal. Print them out, bookmark them on your web browser, or put them in your day planner on the day you’re going to enjoy them.
When you’re planning your menu, take into account your schedule each day of the week. For example, when we both ride our bikes to andfrom work our commute is about 40-45 minutes each way, so on those days we don’t get home until about 7:15pm, depending on what time we leave our office. Those days we like to have a slow cooker meal ready for when we get home. Usually we make chili or slow cooked lamb shanks that night and all we have to do when we get home is cook up some veggies.
3. Be Strategic with Your Grocery Shopping
After I’ve planned all the meals for the coming week, I go through the fridge, freezer and pantry to see which ingredients I need to buy. I prefer actually writing a list out on a piece of paper but you can also make your list electronically if you prefer. If you do write your list on an actual piece of paper, please recycle the paper by either using it again or putting it in the recycle bin.
We purchase everything we can in bulk to save us time and money when it comes to food. We recently invested in a Costco membership because they carry a good variety of frozen organic veggies, high quality meats and cheeses, organic fresh produce, and other high quality products such as organic salsa. Since we’re able to buy these in bulk we only need to make a Costco run about every 4-6 weeks.
We also purchase 2-3 dozen eggs at once since eggs have a long shelf life in the fridge. When you purchase fresh eggs from a local farmer or farmers market, you can usually keep them on your kitchen counter for up to 30 days.
We purchase all our meat in bulk including wild caught salmon, wild caught shrimp, grass fed beef, grass fed bison, and lamb. We’ve found delicious sausage at Costco made with grass fed beef and no nitrates that we always keep in the freezer as well.
If you don’t have a Thrive Market membership already, I encourage you to sign up for one right now. Thrive Market is like the Whole Foods/Costco of the internet. You pay $60 a year for a membership and you have access to wholesale prices for thousands of healthy food options.
The only food we always buy weekly are fresh product that we can’t find in the frozen section such as organic spring mix, organic cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus.
4. Prepare Your Food in Advance
We have our salad and veggie preparation systems in place. On the weekend, we will cut all the ingredients for our salads for the week. We put the lettuce in a separate containers for each day and salad toppings in smaller containers for each day. We keep the toppings separate from the lettuce so the lettuce doesn’t get soggy. In the morning all we need to do is put our salads for that day in our lunch boxes.
We cut and wash all our veggies (with the exception of mushrooms as they can get soggy if they are washed and then stored) and store them in airtight containers in the fridge. When we are ready to cook them all we need to do is prepare them the way we would like them cooked,
We also purchase organic frozen veggies when they’re available. This eliminates the need to cut and wash them all together. When vegetables re frozen they are picked at their prime so they are very fresh even thought they’re frozen.
5. Order Paleo/Primal Meals Already Cooked
There’s a great company based in San Diego, California, called Pete’s Paleo that does all the work for you. They “hunt” and “gather” the freshest, local, organic, pasture raised, grass feed ingredients they can find and prepare the meals for you. The meals are shipped right to your door step (or office) and sealed in air tight bags ready to heat up and eat. All you need to do is sauté or microwave the meat and veggies and enjoy! We enjoy our Pete’s Paleo meals on the nights we just get home after work, eat a healthy meal, relax, and get to bed at a reasonable time.
You do have the option to add an extra side or extra protein if there is not enough food in one meal. We supplement our Pete’s Paleo meals with our own organic veggies.
This option does financially cost a bit more than preparing your own meals but it saves time. And the all the meals we’ve had from Pete’s Paleo have been absolutely delicious!
That’s all for this week. Thanks so much for reading!
For more tips on food preparation I invite you to attend my monthly HBK Primal Food Prep Course. Keep an eye out for the monthly schedule in my Honey Bee Kitchen Newsletter that is e-mailed monthly. Not signed up for my newsletter? No problem! Just send me an e-mail to let me know you're interested in attending the HBK Primal Food Prep Course.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” - Lao Tzu
Today is the beginning of a new adventure for me. I’m so grateful for my past adventures as they have been the road map that has lead to my new adventure. My new mantra is “Always be on an adventure!” Every experience and every journey I’m on is an adventure to me. Life is all about adventures whether it’s starting a new job or a new workout routine or going backpacking for the first time.
This new adventure of blogging and primal lifestyle coaching is serving others in a way that I strongly believe is my calling. I’ve always loved being an inspiration to others around me in any way possible whether it be a friendly smile, positive words of encouragement, being loyal, or giving someone the peace of mind that they can rely on me to be there no matter what. As I was inspiring others on past adventures I was simply just being myself.
As I continue to be myself and grow on my new adventure, I want to inspire you to live an abundant life and achieve optimal health through living a primal lifestyle. This doesn’t mean you have to live in a cave or hunt your own food or worry about a ferocious mountain lion that may chase you down and gobble you up so he can satisfy his hunger. To me, living a primal lifestyle means living an abundant life which includes eating nutrient dense foods that nourish my body to give me energy, following my natural circadian rhythm, be in the best physical shape for my genes and body type, and slow down and enjoy life. I will share with you how I live a primal lifestyle in the fast paced, hectic modern world we live in today.
My primal/paleo adventure began on April 11, 2012, and I was at the Four Seasons in Westlake Village, California, enjoying beer (which was NOT paleo/primal and NOT gluten free) while on a first date with a tall, handsome man with salt and pepper hair. When my date, Scot, told me he had bacon and eggs for dinner before our date I didn’t think anything of it. After all, I eat breakfast for dinner occasionally. When he said he poured the bacon grease ON the eggs and then ate them, that’s the moment I thought he was weird. I thought, ”That is so disgusting! Who would do that?!” As the night went on, and we got to know each other, he told me that optimal health is a priority in his life. This was the beginning of a new chapter in my life.
About six months before Scot and I met I made a list of qualities I wanted in a life partner. Besides being family oriented and loving at the top of my list, he had to value his health as a priority in his life. I have always valued my health by being physically active all my life and eating nutrient dense foods. Of course, I was taught that whole wheat, oatmeal, lots of fruit (fruit isn’t the worst but I don’t eat a lot of it these days), stay away from red meat and eggs, and to cook with vegetable oil. Everything the government tells us we should eat. After all, we should all do what the government tells us to do, right (insert sarcastic laugh here)?
I definitely got what I asked for in a partner because he was living a primal lifestyle when I met him and I could feel how passionate he's was about it. At the time I met Scot I was training for my first half marathon and was running about 15-20 miles a week and doing little or no strength training. Running has always been very meditative for me and was one of the ways I would relax after a long day at the office. Running a half marathon had always been a fitness goal for me so I wanted to do really well but at the same time not wreck my body during the journey. I had wanted to lose about 5 pounds so I was leaner and lighter during my race. I was at the point where I wasn’t losing any weight and not getting any faster with my time. I was at a plateau with my weight and my fitness level.
About two or three weeks after Scot and I enjoyed drinks at the Four Seasons, we were having dinner at one of my favorite restaurants near our house. He was leaving for a week to go camping and I said to him, “Teach me how you eat and how you workout. I want to learn how to live a primal lifestyle.” He gave me Mark Sisson’s Book, The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation. After he returned from his camping trip, he started coaching me with which foods to buy and which ones to avoid. He taught me about high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts and how they help you burn fat better than working out for one hour six days a week. We cooked together and worked out together which helped me learn how to apply the primal lifestyle to my life. I’m a very visual learner and I learn best by doing.
The two areas of a primal lifestyle that I was most excited about was primal cooking and primal workouts. I’ve always been passionate about cooking and love experimenting in the kitchen with recipes. I love to be challenged in the kitchen and it’s fun for me to convert non-primal recipes to primal recipes. When we went on our second date, I had to make Scot dinner since I lost to pool. I wanted to make him my mom’s sour cream chicken enchilada recipe but it has corn tortillas in it (obviously) so I had to omit the corn tortillas and make it more like a casserole than traditional enchiladas. In my opinion, it tasted just as good without tortillas as it does with tortillas. Since I was not completely knowledgeable about which foods to avoid, I did use a store bought cream of mushroom soup with wheat in it. Now that I’m in the know with the primal style of eating, I’ve modified my mom’s sour cream enchilada recipe with my own cream of mushroom soup recipe.
I’ve modified many of the recipes in the last 4 years to be primal friendly and I’m excited to share my recipes with you on my blog. Before I share my primal friendly recipes with you, I’d like to share my first recipe I ever wrote from scratch. I’m very proud of this recipe!