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Getting Started 2nd edition

19 Jan


My local gym is about to embark on a 6 week paleo challenge so I thought it would be an appropriate time to re-visit some how- to-get-started tips and tricks. The process does not always have to be “cold turkey,” but I’m going to focus on that strategy this time. Plus, I’m a very all or nothing type of person. If I have a purpose (a WHY!), clear instructions, and a plan, I am all over it. Hopefully this will help you wherever you are on your journey. No one’s perfect, I know I could use a little re-set to knock out the little things I’ve let creep back into my life.

1. Read, read, and read some more. For those of you know me well, I’m not a big read for pleasure kind of gal but the minute I opened Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint, I couldn’t put it down. The same thing happened when I started reading the Hartwig’s It Starts With Food. The key for me is knowing the science behind WHY eating a primal/paleo diet is beneficial and HOW it’s going to help me build lean muscle, burn fat, and fight silent but deadly inflammation throughout my body.

2. Understand it, share it with your loved ones, and OWN it. Be able to explain to your loved ones and co-workers (in an excited, yet not overpowering or demeaning way!) why eating real foods will heal you from the inside out. Don’t pass it off as a trend or only do it because “CrossFit people are into it.” Own it for yourself and know how it will change your life.

3. Purge the pantry, fridge and freezer. Don’t let yourself be tempted by past vices. Start fresh and don’t give yourself the option to fail.

  • processed, packaged, or preserved foods
  • grains and grain products (pasta, rice, breads, frozen pancakes, flour)
  • sugar and all artificial sweeteners
  • chemically altered fats and certain oils (vegetable oil, margarine, anything that says hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated)

4. Donate non-perishables. A couple of years ago my local Salvation Army was readily accepting of my Costco stock pile of whole wheat pasta and Goldfish crackers.

5. Immediately (if not sooner!) stock up on staples. We updated and organized our shopping list staples just for you!

6. Develop meal plans to ease transition. Pick 6-7 meal ideas and make shopping lists for the week. Or, make ahead meals for busy nights and easy access.

7. Have no/minimal prep snacks readily available. Arm yourself so you don’t have the option to make bad choices.

  • hardboiled eggs
  • fresh fruit
  • trail mix with unsweetened dried fruit
  • nitrate free beef jerky
  • nitrate free deli meat rolled up with some mustard inside
  • cut up veggies/fruit-our dear friend Suzanne always has a big Tupperware type tray of pre-sliced veggies and fruits stocked in the fridge when the snack bug hits–brilliant!
  • larabars
  • canned tuna and salmon
  • egg cupcakes

8. Keep it simple. Stay away from the baked goods and desserts tab for now. Don’t immediately try to re-invent old favorites, start new habits first.

  • Eat lots of meat and veggies first. Then, add some fruit, nuts, and seeds.
  • It doesn’t always have to be fancy. Sauté a couple of pounds of ground meat, throw in some spices, and steam a huge bag of frozen veggies. Or, pick up a rotisserie chicken and serve it on a huge bed of spinach. Done.
  • “Paleo” desserts and baked goods have their place for special occasions, but a muffin is always a muffin unless it’s made out of meat. While the almond flour and honey may not spike your insulin quite as much or cause inflammation from gluten, they are still calorically dense and will not help you if you have any weight loss or body composition goals.
  • Pack your lunch, even if you’re not going anywhere. Make a big salad with lots of veggies and protein in a Tupperware and eat it at lunch time. Fuel your body when it’s not crying out for food, and you will always make better choices. It’s kind of like never going grocery shopping on an empty stomach!
  • Think of food as fuel. Don’t get emotional with it. Let go of the need to use food to satisfy cravings, calm your stress, or fill some sort of void. 


OK, enough information overload. Bookmark this post and refer back to it as you continue on your journey. I’ll leave you with a statement from It Starts with Food that I repeat to myself many times throughout the day…

“The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy.
Those are your options.”

Happy weekend,



Pumpkin Time!

23 Oct

I love the start of fall. The annoying bugs are gone, the sun is warm, and the air is cool. Reminds me that life could be like this everyday if we never left Monterey, but one can only dream! I digress. And, of course, pumpkins. They’re not only the mascots of fall but happen to be nutritional powerhouses full of antioxidants, vitamins A and C, fiber, and potassium. The seeds are also little super foods packed with monounsaturated fat, zinc, magnesium, fiber, iron, protein, L-tryptophan (think anti-depressant), and phytosterols (think cholesterol lowering and cancer preventing).

I have to admit that unsweetened canned pumpkin is somewhat of a staple for me. I use it to make smoothies, eat it as a snack with some cinnamon and nuts, or mix it with cottage cheese as a “dessert.” Canned pumpkin is easy and still packed with the same nutrients as fresh pumpkin (check your labels to make sure they say 100% pumpkin and not pie mix!) but every once in a while it’s fun to slice open a real pumpkin.

Here’s how, plus a perfect way to turn fresh pumpkin seeds into a kid (and adult!) friendly snack:

  1. Slice pumpkin in half.
  2. Scoop out and discard pulp, picking out as many seeds as possible.
  3. Reserve seeds, no need to rinse or clean them from a little excess pulp.
  4. Fill a 9×13 pan with about a half-inch of water.
  5. Place pumpkin skin side up in water.
  6. Bake at 350 for about 60 minutes until tender.
  7. Scoop out pumpkin, discard skin.
  8. Place in food processor or blender and pulse until smooth.
  9. Store in fridge for up to 5 days.
  10. Use in recipes, feed it to your babies, enjoy it on its own as you wish.

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  1. Mix about 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil and 1 tsp cinnamon with reserved pumpkin seeds (no need to rinse or clean off excess pulp).
  2. Spread on parchment lined baking sheet.
  3. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Bake at 300 for 15-20 minutes until crisp.
  5. Serve or store in airtight container for 1-2 weeks (my batch disappeared within 24 hours!).

Stay tuned for a dinner and dessert recipe this week using Fall’s best super food!

Happy fall y’all,


For more information on the health benefits of the pumpkin and it’s seeds, read here:

Pumpkin seed info

Pumpkin nutrition info

Life Lessons from the Ranch

28 Jul

My husband and I had the amazing opportunity of spending a week at the JH Ranch near Etna, CA for a Husband and Wife Adventure. It’s an exquisite place where the air just feels thinner and you are free from all modern-day distractions. The theme is having an everlasting adventure and the goal is to take your faith to a whole new level. We went in super psyched about the ropes courses we heard about, and came away re-born as individuals and as a couple–with life lessons that seem just too valuable not to share.

Discipline becomes desire. This applies to so many areas of life. I, of course, quickly relate it to diet and fitness, but it just as easily relates to everything from flossing your teeth to daily Scripture reading. What may seem tedious, tiring, difficult or boring at first can quickly become such a big part of your life that you find yourself needing it, rather than dreading it.

A life not evaluated is not worth living. Socrates had it right. It’s too easy to busy ourselves throughout each day and never take the time to ponder goals, successes, and failures. Don’t settle. Push a little further to determine what could be better and how you can get there. It was often quoted at the Ranch that “evaluation is the gateway to transformation” and it couldn’t be more true. If you’ve hit a plateau with your diet and fitness, record and track what you’re doing, and look for patterns and ways to improve. If your marriage seems more like a business partnership than a fairytale, dig deeper together to see what’s missing.
I constantly find myself puttering my way through the day because I’m too afraid to STOP and evaluate. I want to be more in touch with the Holy Spirit, but tie up my mind with email/chores/music. I want more from my workout routine, but I don’t take the time to habitually record my results. I’ve pretty much determined that I do this out of straight fear. I fear the results or perhaps lack of results. Don’t settle for the desert when you can have the Promised Land (thanks for your wisdom, Ruthie!)

You only live life once but if you live it right, once is enough.  This pretty much sums up the top two. They might take a bit of time and a whole lot of courage but lead to a more purposeful, joyful, and passion-filled life.


GPP is life in action. At the ranch we found ourselves climbing ropes and rope ladders, tangoing across tight ropes (sometimes blindfolded!), scurrying up 50ft poles and jumping to a bar 7 ft out and up, playing rodeo games, and rafting down the Klamath River.  GPP (General Physical Preparedness) kept running through my head as we tackled the daily fun.  If you’ve perused the CrossFit journal, or hung around a CrossFit gym long enough, you’ve probably heard the term. Basically, you should want your fitness regimen to serve you well in anything that life throws at you. If all you do is run, you’ll be decent at running. If all you do is lift weights, you’ll be good at lifting heavy things. If you do a little bit of everything fast and hard, you should be able to handle any workout, task, obstacle, game or challenge with a certain sense of ease.

You’re not always going to be in control. Of your food, that is. Before we signed in to the Ranch my husband asked me what I would do if they served chili-mac for lunch. After listening to me banter on about all the reasons I would absolutely refuse this hypothetical chili mac, he brought up some very good points. Will I become physically ill after eating chicken that touched some pasta? No. Will I break out in a horrible rash if I try the fancy dessert? No. Will I lose everything I’ve worked for the past two years with some breakfast grits? No. Will I appear ungrateful and elitist by outright refusing food that was so graciously prepared for me? Yes. I quickly learned to take what was given to me with a smile, decline the dinner roll, and make it work with a little help from the salad bar.

Life lessons are great but the challenge is implementing them into your life. For me, I started with a 6 week Scripture challenge and utilizing LogWod to record my workout notes (whether I like them or not!). What are some life lessons you live by? How do you keep them going?

Happy weekend,


Related Reading:

Taking something good and turning it into god

Get off the Hamster Wheel

This is a Guilt Free Zone

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