It’s a statement that resounds with me constantly and one I’ve written about before. Mark Sisson first uttered these words, in my presence, at PaleoFX in Austin, TX two years ago. He also mentioned level of choice in the world of clean eating and fitness. Extremes will result in extremes and moderation in, well, moderate results.
When I first began to cut grain and sugar, I was an extremist. I felt like I might die (DIE!) if I ate a grain of rice or a speck of sugar in my coffee, NO potatoes, not even a yam. That was 3 years ago. Over time, and through lifestyle changes on many fronts, I’ve reached specific health and fitness goals and then backed off, introduced some starch back into my diet and backed off from them, tried new things in moderation and decided whether or not it was a short or long-term addition. No matter what the choice, though, each were conscious and that is what I am most proud of. I have learned so much about food and our bodies from my journey with “Paleo” and clean eating. I have researched for myself, compared notes, kept food journals and understand how my body reacts to certain things more so than others.
In my old age (kidding, I fully intend to live to 100. I’m barely a third of the way through!) I’m able to recognize my strengths and weaknesses. I thoughtfully work towards making, what I find to be a weakness, more of a strength. More often though, I just try to make it less of a reason I don’t achieve the results I desire. Like being a food nazi. Strong word, but I have a feeling that’s how people think I live my life and it’s not.
Just recently, I went to dinner with a few friends. The dinner special was Tilapia stuffed with crab. YUM! When it came, there was a small side of rice and a cucumber salad. Everyone waited to see if I would eat the rice. OF COURSE I ate the rice. I was a little surprised by everyone’s anticipation of my decision. The meal was delicious and I devoured every single grain of it. I very rarely eat out but when I do, I try to choose the best options. I don’t ask the waiter a thousand questions about ingredients or sauces because I do not have a specific food allergy or medical reason to do so. I would rather allow room for others, should they need to inquire, without making it weird. I feel that paranoid about a restaurant’s menu, then I’d rather choose another restaurant. That’s not weird at all, just smart.
Although I still do not condone replacing all your junk food with gluten-free junk just because it’s ‘gluten free’, I have loosened my thought process for my own children and will buy them gluten and gmo free cereals as an easy morning breakfast. Also, just because they enjoy a bowl of cereal every now and again. Processed food is still processed, after all. Fresh is always better. But again, I’m not trying to be weird or make my kids feel weird, so they also enjoy a gluten, gmo and wheat free waffle or pancake from time to time. Still seem weird to you? Baby steps. Besides, they’re just called waffles in our house. My girls understand they are a better choice of waffles because of the brands we choose to spend our money on.
So, while my stomach is not as flat as it was 2 years ago and my thighs have more fat then they did last summer, I am still healthy and happy with my decisions. I am satisfied with my eating lifestyle at this moment and make conscious decisions to keep my body in a good enough state, while allowing room for ease due to a more hectic lifestyle then I was leading in the past. I’ve dropped from extreme to moderate…with leanings towards extreme. Give me some room here, folks.
I still consider myself 80% Paleo but would rather promote clean eating to others and slowing ease them into a grain-free lifestyle. I realize not everyone is a born extremist and many would rather begin making one better choice at a time. Robb Wolf recently posted the 7 Shades of Paleo, which reminded me that I’m still on track even though I eat sweet potatoes and don’t interrogate the waiter about ingredients. I’m still making great decisions, despite my lack of extremes. Thank you Mark and thank you Robb, you had me at hello.
Boy was it fun!
No, I’m not joking, we had a blast. The guests seemed to have a great time, as well. The slumber party was originally the idea of my newly 5-year-old daughter. At first I thought, HELL NO, but after a few days to think about it and inquiring with other parents, I realized we could be smart about this and make it the best party ever.
Slumber parties, to a 5-year-old, mean lots of snacks and movies and makeup and ALL THE FUN! My 5-year-old invited 2 friends and her sister (wasn’t that kind of her?) and I extended the invite to one of the guest’s big sister to even out the ages. My sister wished me luck getting through the night without belly aches but I was already ahead of the game on that one. Just like thinking ahead at the holidays, I wanted to do this party right by these little girls and give them a great experience, not an unhealthy one.
I decided to start the party off with cake and presents and get the biggest unhealthy obstacle out-of-the-way. This year, I allowed each of my daughters to pick out a decorated cake from the grocery store. It wasn’t gluten-free, sugar-free, or paleo… it was a conventional, decorated, birthday cake. The only thing I decided on was a whipped topping instead of the super-sugar-heavy icing, but it is what it is: a quarter sheet of junk. We sang Happy Birthday, blew out as many candles as I could find, had cake, opened presents and moved onto all the fun things the girls thought a slumber party should include.
Snacks included a tray of popcorn, grapes, Stretch Island Fruit Snacks, UNREAL 41 (M&Ms) & a 77 (peanut butter cups) for each girl, a bowl of apples, a dish of sunflower seeds and glasses of ice-cold water! The girls were so happy and excited. It was a joy to see their sweet faces smiling as we jumped from activity to activity all while enjoying good choices and special treats! Yes, they even ate the apples. They didn’t hesitate to help themselves throughout the evening to more popcorn, seeds, juicy grapes or more water. The best part: their manners were IMPECCABLE. “Please” and “thank you” and “excuse me”s all night long. Good job mom & dad!
- Stretch Island is a special treat in our house. 1: They are a NON-GMO verified company; 2: No artificial additives; 3: REAL fruit puree; and 3: I get coupons for $.75-$1 off at my local grocery store; plus they taste great!
- UNREAL candy is made with REAL ingredients and NO GMOs. They taste amazing and are available locally at CVS, Rite Aid, and Target. Though their peanut butter cups have half the sugar content of Reese’s, I still limited the girls to 1 cup each since they were enjoying their candy coated chocolates (40% less sugar then M&Ms) at will AND they just had cake.
After choosing their desired sleep location, 2 in the top bunk and 3 on the floor, I read the girls a story and closed the door at midnight. They weren’t up much later than that and I made sure to eavesdrop for a bit at the door. Their conversations were to die for! I awoke this morning at 8:07am and heard them chatting in the room still, door closed. GOOD GIRLS.
As soon as they heard me in the kitchen, the girls all scurried out in their pj’s and I quickly began preparing breakfast-to-order as they dove right into playing with LEGOS and art supplies. The initial order doesn’t reflect all that the girls ended up eating, as most had a 2nd serving of a different choice, but pastured local eggs, uncured bacon, gluten-free waffles and cereal, fresh fruit, grass-fed butter and dark syrup were among the options. I figured if I’m sending home tired kids, I may as well pump them full of premium fuel.
- Van’s Natural Food is a GMO free company plus they have gluten AND wheat free options. This is a special treat in our house as I rarely buy frozen waffles/pancakes since I have a great coconut flour recipe I like to make and freeze the leftovers for a quick morning meal. But there is something to be said for the convenience of Van’s.
- Barbara Bakery products are also GMO and gluten-free. My husband and kids enjoy the Peanut Butter and Cinnamon Puffins. This particular morning, the ladies requested cinnamon (40% less sugar then Cinnamon Toast Crunch) and one guest mentioned “I really like dat cereal” when she was all done.
I didn’t plan this party to be a ‘healthy’ sleepover, but I decided to share our celebration to inspire others to offer good choices, mixed with special treats, that aren’t all that bad. Especially when it comes to children, who typically have a special menu of crap at restaurants and an array of junk fed to them at parties. Life is meant to be lived and I indulge, as do my children, from time to time but control is taught through repetition. My daughters had a wonderful 1st slumber party filled with activities and movies and fun! I can only hope they are learning about food choice and control through example and experience. They are currently napping.
What do you typically serve to kid-guests during parties, playdates or special occasions?
I’m on my iPhone all the time. Whether I’m looking up a word in the dictionary, scheduling my calendar, posting to Pushups and Carrots on Facebook or using it to log my workout, everything I want or need is handy! I’m not a junkie, however. I have 1 page of apps. And I’m not a gamer so everything I download is a tool with a purpose.
Here are a few of my favorite apps that help keep me focused, motivated, and in shape. AND THEY’RE FREE.
- Dirty Dozen – Simply lists the 12 most contaminated fruits and veggies. 5 servings from this list will bring no less than 14 different pesticides into your body a day. YUCK. You’ll want to buy these 12 plants organic whenever possible. The app also offers a Clean 15 list which you can find deals on since you’re not committed to organic-only options. It’s an easy go-to when I’m in the produce section. They even have a list of 53 fruits and veggies ranked in order of most pesticides. Apples are #1. I believe 5lb bags of organic apples are on sale this week at GIANT. Just saying.
- nonGMO – I’m the asshole standing in the organic aisle just staring at her cell phone. I promise I’m doing something valuable, not texting my girlfriends. Typically, I’m comparing brands via my nonGMO app and finding the brand who doesn’t use genetically modified organisms in their ingredients. I am especially interested if this is a non-paleo item, as I want it to be as clean and wholesome as possible for my 4 and 5 year olds’ bodies. Just because something is labeled organic, does not mean it is the best choice. Research your food.
- Workouts – This takes the guess-work out of what exercise routine to perform when I’m running behind, only have 30 mins and can’t think straight because I just rolled out of bed. Choose your target area ie; abs, arms, butt, legs, cardio or full body, then choose your length of time 10-30 minutes. Only have 5 minutes? Make it count. The app provides a count down during each exercise so you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it also shows a video of the movement along with posted tips for best form and technique. EASY PEASY. Remember to stretch.
What are your favorite apps? PLEASE SHARE!
One of the highlights of PaleoFX was the vendor set up. One, because there were things we could EAT without hesitation and two, because the vendors understood our mission. They were not there to push products that were mostly-paleo or only had a little bit of sugar, etc. These were vendors who had items to make our lives easier, food that was pure and natural, books that are loaded with recipes and encouragement suited for a lifestyle focused on fueling our bodies in the most efficient, nutritious and strengthening manner. I hope to see it triple in size next year! Now onto the products that I picked up in my travels.
Up first, the infamous LOVE BEAN Fudge. This is considered a cream, as noted over and over again by the TSA Agents at the Austin airport. They confiscated dozens of jars, one by one, as we left the great state of Texas with this precious cargo in our carry-ons. Damn the man. I ordered a new jar as soon as I arrived home and it was worth every penny. I will be ordering more soon, as my stash is minimal and it’s great to have on hand for those chocolate attacks every woman is familiar with.
Love Bean is a clean eater’s dream and the Raw Fudge contains 4 single ingredients. The Original Fudge option contains only a few more and remains all natural. You can store it in the cupboard or the fridge, heat it up or keep it cooled. You will have to stir it up a bit for that smooth fudge look because of the coconut oil concentrating in pockets through the differing temps.
USES: I topped off my daughter’s class snack, coconut flour cupcakes, with some Love Bean, for her birthday. She said it was a hit, but when are cupcakes not a hit? I also scooped a bit and stirred my coffee with it, after adding coconut oil. The combination was a very special treat. I drizzled a little on an apple, tried some with a banana, and honestly, ate it right off a spoon as any delicious icing should be tasted. NOM.
Next: Savory Spice Shop a newly franchised shop focused on herbs, spices, blends and sauces. Their packaging is what caught my eye, long tubes filled with lovely colored blends. However, the representative and local shop owner assured me this was not the typical packaging and wasn’t always available. I purchased the Flat Irons Prime Rib Rub and Red Rocks Hickory Smoke Seasoning based on scent and for the purpose of gifting that cool looking tube, but I couldn’t resist and have used both myself. Delicious and easy: open, rub, cook and enjoy! Can’t wait to use more once grilling season kicks off in Pennsylvania.
Now for my go-to munch while in Austin, Paleo People Snacks. Coined as all natural clusters of nuts, berries, seeds and fruit, it’s one of those things that you’d rather buy then make because of the time it could take. Same reason I buy guacamole. And let me tell you, the banana was DELICIOUS. I bought as many mini packs as I could the first day, probably because I was starving but then I tasted it and had to buy more. I bought a few regular sized pouches the following day to bring home for the kids. They gobbled through a bag of Apple on our next walk and I’ve kept a bag in my purse to nibble from throughout the day, as needed. The Cacao flavor was also appealing but, surprisingly, I wasn’t a huge fan of the Cappuccino, although a new friend bought 3 bags of it. Perhaps I’ll try it again.
Sitting behind the table was a gentleman and his wife, the ‘people’ behind Paleo People. They were charming, direct and the original owners of the 1st CrossFit Affiliate in Palm Springs. Pretty cool. They said they started in their garage. Love that. They’ve since sold and moved on from gym ownership and Palm Springs has had a CrossFit boom in the meantime. You can find Paleo People online and in many CrossFit boxes across the nation.
Now for my final and favorite item of the event: Eat Like A Dinosaur. RAWR! When I asked for it at my local Barnes & Noble recently the woman behind the counter asked “Would that be meat or plant-eating dinosaurs?” to which my answer was “Yes!” Unfortunately, they do not yet carry it in this particular store however it is available online through B&N or Amazon. I pre-ordered the book as soon as it was announced by PaleoParents months ago. It was to be a present for my little girl, who LOVES to ‘make’. When I had the opportunity to view it in person at PaleoFX I became so caught up in the amazing order, colorful allergy key and enticing photos that I nearly missed one of my most anticipated panels.
I was lucky enough to be in the right place on the 3rd day and received a free copy of ELaD on my way out of the conference center. It is all I read on my flight home, cover to cover. I was delighted to learn more about a family I have been following on Facebook and Twitter for some time. They have lost a combined total of 200lbs, their children’s behavior and allergies have evolved and they continue on their quest for health by providing the rest of us a book loaded with menu staples, special treats and school lunch ideas. Oh! The best part: There is a storybook within the book which my girls loved. They asked why Cole got in trouble in school, why the family was sad… and they were elated when the family was happy again. My girls related to the family’s fresh market travels, food preferences and silly disposition. They even ask to read it again as their bedtime story.
This book is a fantastic staple for any family, or individual. It is geared towards children with its illustrations and coloring but it’s full of delicious options for any household, whether college students, single women, bachelors or a family of 12. Cuisine is varied, tradition is kept in mind, and the ever important ‘treat’ is given ample time and variety. Every mom knows you must have a good cookie recipe and the chocolate chip cookies in this book are TO DIE FOR. So yum.
I’m so much a fan of this book and what it can do for a someone dealing with gluten intolerance, who is on a new path towards health, or someone looking for answers to behavior issues or modern disease, that I will be sending a FREE copy of Eat Like a Dinosaur to a random supporter who does the following two things:
1. Comment on this post and tell us what the catalyst has been to change the way you eat/live.
2. Become a fan of Pushups and Carrots on Facebook – it’s a new page, created just days ago, to supplement my blog with more information supplied by those on the forefront of healthy living. Don’t hesitate to share, be active, tell your story or post links that may have struck a chord with you. You could change someone else’s life, after all.