2020 The Lost Year

Hi everyone. I don’t know about you, but 2020 was probably the most challenging year of my life, both mentally, emotionally and physically. I started the year like I always do, with so many goals. I was going to train and sign up for an Olympic distance triathlon, I was going to publish a book, travel, join some new social groups.

And then the Pandemic hit. In early March everyone in NY was in a tizzy about grocery stores doing away with plastic bags. People were so upset about that, and then Covid hit. Quarantine. Life absolutely changed.

As a Gen X girl, I handled quarantine really well. My generation is super good at keeping ourselves busy. I spent quarantine outside – most times by myself, biking, swimming, jogging. I was able to keep my brain busy exercising.

I also published Book 6 in my Kelsey Porter series, called THE JOURNEY BACK. I love this book. For those invested in the series, it gives you insight into the characters that you didn’t see in the other books. One note of caution – don’t read book 6 unless you read book 5, THE SEARCH FOR STARLIGHT. Just trust me on this.

Probably the biggest and saddest part for me for 2020, was the friendships that seemed to go by the wayside. I learned the true nature of so many people. It was as if a blinder was pulled off my eyes and you could see that the values of many people were clearly not my own. I had to decide how I felt about that. Did I want to interact with people that said derogatory things? That made racist comments as if it meant nothing. That didn’t believe science? That said hateful things about the LGBT community? And don’t get me started on politics. I refuse to go into it. It’s just too darn sad. It was like 2020 said, “Let it rip folks and I simply don’t care anymore.”

AND THEN… to end this horrible year, my family of four got Covid. We are diligent folks. For 10 months we wore our masks everywhere and anytime we did anything it was with the conscious thought of safety. And yet, all it takes is one person to take down a family. This virus is rough, folks. My children thankfully breezed through it like rockstars, but me and my husband are struggling a bit. Weeks out I still have congestion and exhaustion at times. But I am taking it one day at a time and have incorporated some herbal inhalation treatments (filled with everything from cinnamon sticks and red onions and other fruits and veggies) along with juicing. It seems to be helping a little bit every day.

I have never been so glad for a new year in my life. 2021, please be gentle with us. We could use it. Be safe my friends.

Five Weeks on Paleo and the Inflammation is Gone! But, is it all it’s Cracked up to Be?

On a beach in Corfu, Greece

Hey folks! It’s been about five weeks on paleo. I’ve been pretty darn compliant, except when I went to Italy for about 10 days. I admit to having pasta two times (I mean, there is no way I’m going to Italy and not having their pasta) and I was terribly queasy on the ship, so I also had some small scoops of rice occasionally, but overall, I’ve tried to stick to the program all the rest of the time. I would say I’ve been 90% compliant and now a week home and pretty close to 100%.

I have good news. The inflammation around my L4/L5 herniations is gone. I was suffering from sciatica and that has ceased. Not eating dairy, breads, white flour and tons of sugar I truly believe has been the guiding factor here.

Zucchini Carrot Bread made with almond and coconut flour

Bad news? I feel like I’m still suffering from “carb flu.” You know, headaches, lack of energy, being exhausted all the time. At the same time, I’ve lost 4 lbs. I’m not sure if it’s from actually not eating enough, or being seasick on the ship. I think I’ll know more in a few weeks.

I “think” I’m seeing a turning point. I did sleep well last night and I did get up energized enough this morning to go for a 1.5 mile SLOW jog and do 100 sit-ups. Baby steps for me, but I’ll take it. Will continue with the plan because with inflammation causing so much pain, I’m very happy to be able to drop something on the floor and bend down and pick it up without an issue. I used to drop my sock on the floor and just cry… thinking “it was so far away.”

Just astounding tile work at the Ruins of Nora in Cagliari.

As you know, I love to cook and be accountable, so I made an instagram account of paleo recipes I’ve tried. Feel free to follow me there at @paleoinspired_

Love to hear if you have any issues with this, what you think and if it’s the “be all, end all.” I’m still working that out.

P.S. That zucchini bread above looked great – but what a strange texture. Hence, no recipe. Still playing around with recipes. Please feel free to share any recipes for baked goods that actually taste good. I did make a cherry pie with almond flour that went over really well. 🙂

My Paleo Journey So Far to Reduce Inflammation

Just cooking up some cauliflower rice!

About six years ago, I herniated my L4/L5 doing a pretty aggressive bootcamp exercise (let’s just say doing jumping jacks with a heavy bar over my head is not any part of my future plans). Add in being over 45 years old at the time, and I was ripe for a big injury and a boatload of pain. In fact, I suffer from inflammation and the inflamed muscles would press on those nerves surrounding the injury, sending sciatica pain down my legs. For nearly two years I was unable to really even exercise.

Fast forward five years later and I’m a lot better, though not perfect. I’ve spent the past few years strengthening my core, getting back into shape and now I can jog 3 miles at a time and do yoga a few times a week. But, I’m still plagued with inflammation issues. You know the drill, swollen belly, aches and pains at the injury site.

Last July I cut all artificial sweeteners in my coffee and that made a drastic difference. Three weeks after doing that, I was able to do burpees. (something I was never able to do before and here’s a good video example from Bowflex). I’d drop something on the floor and just cry that it was “so far away.” The idea of bending was horrific. Now, I’m 1000X better. But I could be even better. So that’s why I started Paleo.

I was never a big bread eater to begin with and I have a lactose intolerance, so this diet appeals to me. I love bacon. I love steak. I love vegetables. What could be bad? I do miss the pasta and rice, but this “diet” allows a few cheats in moderation a week, so I had a piece of birthday pie, and had a soup and didn’t freak that there were beans in it.

Steak, eggs and cauliflower/sweet potato mix

This diet has been easy and pretty clear cut. No grains, no legumes, no dairy. There’s a few other things to watch out for, but this is a great start for me. With a wee bit of planning, I have food in the house to keep me stocked and I simply modify my meals so they are paleo compliant.The trick has been to keep myself filled and to actually have “fat” at night so I stay filled, so at the dreaded 10:00 PM I don’t go downstairs and raid the refrigerator. I’ve not snacked at night for over a week and a cup of water helps me to sway those old bad habits.

I’ve made a few mistakes along the way so far. Adding some corn to a salad, which I learned was a no no, or adding a dressing to a compliant salad, and learned it had yogurt in it. I try not to freak about it and know that I’ve done my best. Everything is a learning experience and so far, just removing dairy (well, most of it) and grains has already reduced my inflammation and the sciatica pain I was experiencing recently has ceased again. I haven’t lost any weight yet, but I’m hopeful that will be an added benefit at some point.

So if you’d like to follow my journey and see the recipes I’m making on instagram, follow me @paleoinspired_

Love to hear how you are doing on your own dieting or paleo journey.

Can Getting Rid of Gluten and Dairy Get me Back to Bootcamp?

Climbing a Rope at Bootcamp

Climbing a Rope at Bootcamp

Besides the fact that I love to write (I mean, who doesn’t know at this point that I do?) What people may not know is that I love exercising. I absolutely adore it, but I haven’t been able to do it in over a year. October, 2012, I had been in a Bootcamp class. I’m talking “hardcore stuff.” Now, I won’t compare what I was doing for an hour with what Marines do day in and day out in their military training, but the Marines who taught us told us that it was close.

Oh, how I loved that class. I love it so much I got up at 5:30 am to get to a 6:00 am class, three to four times a week, where the Marines would “lovingly” yell at me, put me through exercises, make me climb ropes, run laps, lift tires, etc, for a full hour. When class was done, I was a disgusting, sweaty, smelly mess (along with the other fifteen insane people with me), but I felt incredible and I thought I was looking great.

But then I got hurt. In one class, I was doing jumping jacks holding a heavy bar, and thinking I was fine… when suddenly I wasn’t. Something “sort of snapped” in my back. I remember slowly falling to the floor and getting numb. I thought maybe I just twisted wrong (the numbness was my body’s way of keeping me ignorant to what had really happened.) I tried to continue the class but couldn’t and as the day progressed, I was basically crippled. After all the subsequent doctors and MRI’s we discovered two herniated disks. L4 and L5. Sciatica, numbness.. pain. This is basically textbook and nothing new. But, the disks are sitting on nerves and other fun stuff, so no matter how textbook this is… it hurts.

So what have I been doing to fix this? I did nothing for about eight months. I couldn’t. And then this past October I started with a chiropractor who gave me some relief. Then, this past week I started acupuncture and I also changed my diet. I read that gluten and dairy cause inflammation. I figured, “what if I could just get rid of them as much as I could from my diet?” It really wasn’t that hard to do – you just have to prepare. Brown rice pasta has replaced regular pasta, brown rice instead of white, I’ve made quinoa and lentils, I broil and bake instead of breading and frying, and I purchased gluten-free crackers.

What was interesting was this. Two weeks ago, I went on this diet for the first time for a week. I was pretty strict, though there were one or two meals I “cheated” because I wasn’t home and there was food in front of me. Regardless, I would say I changed my diet 90% that week. Looking back, I realize my back felt better. Then when the week was done, I went hog wild and chowed down on Chinese food for two days, started drinking milk again, yogurt and cheese for breakfast, bread at lunch, and wouldn’t you know, three days later my back went out… and bad. Lots of sciatic pain. Hmmm… so, back to the chiropractor, added my first acupuncture treatment and went BACK to the gluten-free/dairy free diet.

Verdict? Three days after being in the worst pain I’ve been in months, I’m so much better. Coincidence? A combination of everything? I don’t know, but I really believe that this “little cocktail of treatments” is hopefully working. The fact is, if I don’t add to my own problems by eating foods that CAUSE inflammation, maybe I can keep the nerve pain at bay – just by watching what I put in my mouth.

So, the verdict is out on exactly how this is going to go, but I’m hopeful. My next acupuncture treatment is Wednesday… I’ll keep up the diet and I’ll report next week. So far, so good.

My goal? Maybe I can get back to bootcamp one day. But for now, I’ll take “tying my shoes without flinching,” thank you very much.

Clean Eating – Will it Make Me a Better Writer?

lentilsMaybe it’s winter. Maybe it’s the cold. Maybe I’m just being lazy. It can be any, or all of these things, and I can make every excuse in the book, but the fact is, I’m not eating well recently. Instead of grabbing a yogurt for breakfast, I’ve been indulging on bacon and egg sandwiches. Instead of a salad for lunch, I’m grabbing sushi, stuffed with tons of rice or these big thick udon soups that are loaded with noodles and sodium. Dinners are usually fine, but then by 10:00 pm, I’m downing ice cream and chocolate bars (and I’m not talking about Hershey’s but the real good stuff – Godiva and Lindt) Can we say sea salt and dark chocolate? I’m drooling.

Now, I haven’t gained as much weight as you would think, but I’m not feeling all that great. My back hurts, I have no energy and I’m finding myself stressed. I’m trying to write a book and I have to concentrate and research things and I’m finding it’s a chore. I can’t seem to concentrate on things for more than a certain amount of time.

So, I’m trying to switch things up. My chiropractor and his wonderful receptionist did this healthy eating cleanse for 21 days. I found it tremendously intriguing and while I don’t have the capacity to do that intensive a treatment since I travel on biz, have a family and go out with clients, I can modify my diet. I’ve set a tiny, teeny, little goal. ONE WEEK. For one week only, I will try to avoid milk, white flour, gluten and meat. I’ve been instructed to “make as much food as I can at home” instead of eating out, go organic as much as I can, and up my water intake tremendously. It’s day #2 of this endeavor and so far, so good.

I’ve made two different white bean dips, mushroom sauce to go on brown rice pasta with salmon, eggplant lasagna (broiled, not fried eggplant) with daiya cheese,tofutti ricotta and brown rice noodles, and lentil stew – stuffed with veggies. Everything I’ve made the rest of the family ate and it’s been a hit. I think they were surprised actually.

For me, I ‘ve snacked on the lentils throughout the day, adding a bit of hot sauce or the bean dip. I’m finding that eating them fills me up greatly.

So, after two days, am I feeling clearer? Can I conquer the world yet? That verdict is still out, but I feel pretty good that I am trying this. What is the very worst thing that happens? I feel better? Get more energy? Lose some weight?

Here’s the recipe for that white bean dip I made yesterday:

1 Can Cannelli White Beans
1/2 juiced lemon
2 garlic cloves
2 tbs olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
handful of fresh parsley

Mix all the ingredients together with a hand blender or food processor and refrigerate. Seriously easy. If you want to up the ante like I did tonight (since I had to make it again because my daughter ate all of it), I cooked cauliflower florets for 10 minutes, mixed it with all the ingredients above and added fresh rosemary. The added cauliflower changed the recipe from a creamy one to more of a hummus texture, which I know will be a hit with my daughter. She loves hummus, but is allergic to it (a chickpea allergy???), so this is a fine substitute.

If you’re feeling adventurous, take a peeler and make strips of parsnip, put on light olive oil and salt and bake at 425 degrees for 10 – 14 min (turn over halfway) – let cool – super good with the dip.

So tell me, what do you do to feel healthy? Any good, simple recipes you’d like to add in the comments below? Love to hear them! Simple please…

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And lastly, writing: I’m building my newsletter. If you’d like to join my e-mail list for announcements about upcoming book releases, please do so here: I promise NEVER to sell or distribute your email to anyone else.

SWEEPSTAKES: SWEEPSTAKES! The 10th person to join my newsletter is going to win a signed copy of FLYING TO THE LIGHT – with the original first cover. The 20th person will win a signed copy and so will the 30th. I will do this up until the 100th new newsletter fan! The contest will go until the new book cover is released in early March.