Trick or Treat!


Halloween is almost here! Many people love this time of year.

Here are a few suggestions to participate in a different way.

My first suggestion is probably a bit unpopular, but just skip passing out candy altogether.

I have a confession: I don’t like Halloween. I seem to be a bit of an anomaly. Most people love to get into the “spirit” of the season – picking out costumes, getting candy to pass out, watching scary movies, and visiting haunted houses, among other activities. I do not like any of those things.

This is much more feasible if you don’t have your own children. The last few years, Halloween has fallen on a day that my husband and I have not had the girls so we’ve just not participated. For me, I have a hard time deciding to spend $60 on candy for strangers. Now, don’t get me wrong – this is NOT a judgment on anyone else. I just cannot reconcile the thought of buying pounds of sugar-laden, artificial ingredient-packed “treats” for people that I do not even know, especially as I’ve become paleo in the past few years.

Enjoy a night out with your significant other or children. Last year, I took a good book and hung out at Starbucks for a couple of hours.

If you do decide to participate:
Pass out candy

These days a lot of parents are looking for better brands because they are trying to just be healthier in general or for specific health concerns of their children. There are brands, like Yum Earth, that have no egg, milk, shellfish, nuts, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, or soy (https://yumearth.com). Natural Candy Store also carries items that are organic, dye-free, non-GMO, allergy-friendly, gluten free, and vegan (https://www.naturalcandystore.com/category/organic-candy).

Pass out non-food treats.

A lot of parents have children who have such serious food struggles that receiving candy really isn’t an option. Even for children who have issues such as ADHD, Autism, or Type I diabetes, food treats really are not the best option for them. A movement that’s been gaining recognition is the Teal Pumpkin Project (https://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project). Homeowners participating in Trick Or Treat will paint a pumpkin teal and display it on the front porch to indicate to parents that they are giving out non-food treats. Small toys can be purchased by the gross for a reasonable price from Oriental Trading Company (https://www.orientaltrading.com).


photo from Food Allergy Research & Education

Consider having a small game in your driveway. If you have a cornhole/bean bag toss set, get it out and have the kiddos toss the bags to win certain prizes. If you have a basketball hoop, you can do something similar – a small prize choice for an attempted shot and maybe a slightly larger prize toss for making a basket, for example. It’s a novel idea that can foster good relationships in your neighborhood.

Now, what to do with all that leftover candy?

Some dentists offer a candy buy back the week after Halloween, where children turn in their uneaten candy for something. Contact your family dentist to see if that is an option.

Operation Gratitude is an organization that collects candy to send to our troops (https://opgrat.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/halloween-candy-for-the-troops/). It’s a great way to support our armed forces and prevent your children from being on a week-long sugar high.

Call a local women and children’s shelter or Ronald McDonald House in your community to see if they will accept donations of unopened candy. Many do. These children and their families are dealing with heavy issues and aren’t necessarily experiencing a “normal” childhood. A simple act of donating candy could add a bright spot for them.

In the past, my girls and I have dropped off our extra candy at the fire station that is located down the street from us.

What other ideas do you have?

agriculture color fall farm
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com



Autumn is here!

Every September, I am ready for fall. I long for cool weather, tall boots and light sweaters, and all of the autumnal foods: pumpkins and squashes and cinnamon and allspice. I am not one to freak out over the return of pumpkin spice lattes but I am ready to start eating pumpkin again!

American English calls this season fall or autumn, interchangeably, while in British English it’s just called autumn. “Fall” comes from the longer phrase “the fall of the leaf,” which replaced the term “harvest” around the 17th century. Etymologists aren’t quite sure of the origin of the word autumn but can trace its usage back as early as the 14th century. https://www.dictionary.com/e/fall/

Here is a list of some ways to enjoy the fall season:

– Savor the foods and spices of the season by incorporating them into meal planning. Acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash can all be the star at dinner, whether served filled with stuffing, as a soup, or with a Bolognese sauce, respectively. Pumpkin can pull double duty, either in a savory dish, such as ravioli, or sweeter ones, like bread or chia pudding. Spices are great to include, such as a pinch of cinnamon in chili, which adds a delicious surprise.

– Bring the smells of the season into your home by making your own potpourri, either simmering on the stovetop or in a dried version.



– If you have little ones, nature walks are great this time of year. They can search for leaves, pine cones, helicopters, and acorns, depending where you live. Crayon rubbings with leaves or making a collage with their finds is a fun way to spend an afternoon.

– Traditionally, our ancestors would start preparing for the long winter by canning and drying food. You can do this by taking a weekend or two to cut and pack veggies and meat to store in the freezer for future crockpot meals. Definitely time well spent.

– As the year approaches its close, spend time in reflection. The new year is great for turning the page and getting a fresh start and the best way to come up with New Year’s resolutions is to know what you’d like to work on. Look back on the past year and contemplate what’s happened. Maybe a relationship needs mending or an apology needs to be made. Ponder what needs to be done and end the year on a positive note.

– Start to slow life down. Get that book that you’ve been meaning to read for the last few months. Find some quiet time on the weekend before the daily activities start, curl up with a hot drink and a warm blanket, and read a chapter or two.

– I love listening to podcasts and The Living Experiment is one of my favorites. They have published an episode for the start of each season. Take a listen to the episode about fall/autumn: http://livingexperiment.com/autumn/

It’s hard to believe that 2018 is already three-quarters of the way finished. It seems like we were just ringing in the new year not long ago. It can be disconcerting how fast it goes by as we get older. Don’t let it go by too fast and make sure to enjoy the little pleasures in life.


Back to Reality

My husband and I just got back from from Vegas. We had a destination wedding there 5 years ago and visit a couple of times a year. One of our favorite things to do there is to visit the restaurants. I’ve been thinking about how our trips have changed as I have changed.


 Our wedding 8/2013

Our first trip to Vegas, we were still eating a standard American diet. I ate ALL THE THINGS that first trip. Actually, the first several trips were like that. I remember having to buy bottles of Pepto because I would feel like crap pretty much the entire trip, from all the junk I would eat. We weren’t going to fast food places, either. We were going to nice restaurants. So much bread, dairy, and sugar!!

The past couple of trips have been after we became primal. There were a couple of meals on this trip that I had that were almost 100% primal and I felt good afterwards. But every single time I ate off-plan, I felt like crap within about 30 minutes. Sad to say, but I barely ate any vegetables, while we were there. I had dessert most days, splitting something decadent with my husband.

I was so happy to return home after this trip so that I could get back to my normal routine. At the airport, at 5 am (!!) I got an acai bowl for breakfast. That was paleo, albeit high in sugar; at least it wasn’t refined.  After every trip, in a day or two after returning, it’s a struggle for me and the Sugar Dragon will hit hard. It always does after a period of off-plan eating. And it takes all of my willpower to not succumb to temptation.

Every once in awhile I think it is good to eat off-plan. It’s good for a hormetic response, one that shocks the body systems into working to make you better; a kind of reset, or jolt to the system, if you will.

I definitely feel like I went a little more crazy than I would have liked this trip, mainly because I didn’t feel good during the trip and that was kind of a black cloud hanging over me. I could have made better choices but I didn’t. I definitely made better choices than I would have in the past. But the main takeaway is to have grace with yourself and to enjoy life.

During brunch one day at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris (one of my favorites!), I got the quiche Lorraine and my husband got a veggie, potato, and sausage skillet and then we shared some decadent bananas foster waffles. In the past, I would have ordered that and eaten the entire thing myself. This time, while it did taste amazing, I was actually satisfied after just a few bites.

I try to not be too legalistic about what I eat. Sometimes I struggle with that, especially when I first became primal. I have a slightly easier time allowing myself some grace if I do want to eat off-plan. But I definitely do not find it as enjoyable as I once did. I used to live for our meals in Vegas and would eat whatever I wanted. But now I have realized that the seared tuna and brussel sprouts at a five star restaurant are still just as amazing as anything else there. I even ate broccolini for the first time ever!!!! Now for those who know me, I have a strong hatred for actual broccoli (that’s a story for another time). So trying this was a HUGE step. A friend ordered it and I tried some. So good. Another meal, we got sushi with some roasted brussel sprouts which were also amazing!!!

I am learning that I don’t have to sacrifice amazing food at the expenses of my physical well-being. I need to remember that how I feel when I eat off-plan versus when I stick to primal foods and make a more concerted effort to make better choices, and not want to eat all the junk food.

Another point is this: changing one’s lifestyle is difficult. It is a process that happens over time, not in the blink of an eye. As time goes on, I learn more about myself and work hard to align my actions with my healthy lifestyle values.

Just some random thoughts on a plane ride back to reality.





Why I became a minimalist

I follow a primal way of living as much as possible – eating as closely to the way our Paleo ancestors did, focusing on my sleep, exercise, and stress management to improve my well-being. I adamantly believe that living in a minimalistic way is another aspect of this lifestyle, one which some people in the paleo-sphere might overlook.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines minimalism as “a style … that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.” This viewpoint turn off most people. Two of the more iconic leaders of the minimalism movement (The Minimalists) define it this way:

Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.


This is what I have experienced in my own life. I wanted to use my blog post this month to write about my journey in this realm.

I come from a family of pack rats. My paternal grandfather is an immigrant from Italy. His family had to hide in the mountains when the Nazis came through his small village. He would sneak back into his own home at night to grab food and other necessities and return to the cave where he, his mother, and his two siblings would hide out. When my grandfather moved to the United States, he would save everything – empty plastic containers, boxes, anything that might serve another purpose in the future. Even now, at 89 years of age, my grandfather still saves tons of empty plastic containers, and other things, “just in case”.

These traits, and some from other family members, were passed onto me.

As a teen, I couldn’t get rid of anything. I had postcards from friends on vacation and pictures from summer camp underneath the glass on my desk. All kinds of tchotchkes from my own travels decorated my bookshelves, in between my beloved books. I started becoming interested in pop culture and would buy all of the teen magazines with the latest movie/television stars’ posters. I would carefully rip each one out and stick them to my bi-fold closet doors. The doors were literally wallpapered with these posters, to the extent that if I wanted to get into my closet, I would have to carefully take down the posters covering the hinges to open them. My closet was stuffed to the gills with clothes, as were my two large dressers.

When I was a young adult in college, the mentality of clothes hoarding took over my psyche. I would live for buying a new outfit to go out in and, after wearing it 2-3 times, it was no longer deemed “new”. The thrill was gone. It would hang in my closet or get shoved in my dresser, almost to be never worn again.

When I was a special education teacher in my early 30s, I would save all kinds of empty containers, even enlisting my friends to save their containers on my behalf. As a teacher of students with unique learning abilities, I had to make a lot of materials for my students and handcraft the curriculum. Pinterest served as a source of a plethora of homemade ideas.

Guess how many of those ideas I followed through on? Maybe two.

By the time I was in my late twenties, I was tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, thanks to a move across the country and joining a social group made up of singletons. We were very active – always going out to eat, the movies, something. Soon I would have trouble sleeping at night because I was worried about whether or not I would ever get my credit debt paid off because I was just barely able to make the minimum payments on a maxed out account. I would feel physically sick when I would think about my debt.

I was so overwhelmed and tired of doing laundry. I probably could have gone three months without doing any laundry at the peak of my clothes hoarding. I realized I wasn’t wearing most of the items. Once I counted how many pink items of clothing I had. Fifty-five items. Just pink. No other color. I didn’t fit into a lot of the clothing any more. Or it didn’t hang right. Or it was from the previous millenium. I began to get rid of things. It was freeing. After I had gotten rid of the bulk of my clothing, I realized that doing laundry was much more manageable. Since paring back, I have learned about Pareto’s principle – that a person only uses about 20% of what he/she owns 80% of the time – whether it’s clothes, books or something else. Completely true.

Then I met the man I would marry. He a very few belongings. A few pieces of furniture, some books, and his computer work station. I couldn’t believe that someone could live simply like that. When we got married and combined households, I had to condense my belongings, especially my clothes even more. We ripped out the large closet that was in the master bedroom and installed a wardrobe from Ikea, each having about two feet of closet space. We also bought new dressers. I had a total of four drawers. It forced me to pare down even more. I still had a considerable amount of clothing in the spare room closet, mainly offseason items. I finally started to part with those items as well. I could not even tell your how many scores of jammed-packed trash bags full of clothing I donated to Goodwill. So. Many. Dozens of carloads full. It’s so much easier to do laundry now. And guess what – Pareto’s principle is still true. I still only wear about 20% of what I have 80% of the time. Which means now it’s like the same 5-6 shirts.

I was a special education teacher for 9 years. That job was very stressful. There was little that I could control. Nothing, actually, outside of my own behavior. And that’s hard. I could not control the home lives of my students, if they ate breakfast before school or if they even ate dinner the night before. I couldn’t control if they went to to bed or got up on time. So every day was a challenge, depending on the mood of each tiny being as they arrived in my classroom each morning, ready or not to face the academic demands I would place on them that day. I would arrive home completely drained. I didn’t realize it for a long time, but especially after I got married, I felt like my house was always a mess. I didn’t feel that way when I was single and lived alone. It didn’t bother me then. But that changed when I got married. I felt more pressure to kept the house as clean as possible for my husband. Especially since I knew he didn’t like a lot of junk around. But there were so many nights where I was just too drained to deal with any of it. And there were a lot of nights where I was so anxious about the state of the house that I would work myself up over it.

I slowly started getting rid of things. I realized if I had less junk, there was less to get upset about. And then several moths on this journey, as I was looking for a philosophy to describe this, my sister told me about this documentary she had just watched on Netflix called “Minimalism”. I watched it and immediately I knew; this was what I had been searching for. I had a name for my ideals. I had people I could turn to for guidance down this new path.

I found out that the Minimalists had a podcast and started listening to all of the episodes. Most of my conversations with my husband started off, “I was listening to the Minimalists today and they said…” I am sure he got so sick of hearing those those words every day for at least a month.

I started parting with many more household and personal items. I was on a mission to clear out as much junk as possible. I found that getting rid of material things that I don’t really care about helped ease my anxiety. It was less visual clutter, less that I had to clean up and deal with, more over which I could gain control. I loved it.

As I listened more to the podcast, I learned that minimalism is not about a certain number of items that you own. It is not about deprivation. It is about you using the items that you do possess with intentionality and not letting your things possess you. I started making more conscientious decisions at the store – Will I get value out of this? Do I already own something that serves a similar purpose? What do I need to give up in order to obtain this item?

I have followed Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace program and have gotten myself out of debt, actually paying off my old credit card a couple of years ago. I do not use a credit card any longer and I do not miss it.

Minimalism does not just pertain to controlling physical clutter, but can also be extrapolated to other areas of life.

It’s all about simplifying life and getting back to basics. Cutting out all the crap that is not important or even damaging to our psyches and our bodies. I have learned so much from the Minimalists over the course of following them. Not just about managing my possessions but about living a more meaningful life in all aspects.

I found a part time job this year where I can help people liberate themselves from their abundance of possessions, become more organized, and regain order in their homes. I always leave each session with a client feeling like I have truly made a difference. (Blantant plug for Major Organizers!! https://www.majororganizers.com/location/san-antonio-tx/  If you are feeling overwhelmed by the state of your house, we can do a free estimate and discuss how we can help you gain order in your own household – that does not necessarily mean getting rid of ALL of your possesions, but our team can help you with letting go of items that no longer add value while organizing the items that do.)

For a lot of my possessions, I realized that I was holding on to an ideal of who I wanted to be. I don’t even know who that person was supposed to be. Mainly what the media or society made me feel like I had to attain. Once I cut out the constant barrage of media influence (dropping cable and subscribing to satellite radio mainly), I can decide what is important to me independently and make my own decisions.

In the past two years of my life, I feel like I am truly becoming the person I am supposed to be. Trying to get better everyday and trying to help others along the way. I know I am by no means perfect. NowI can focus on living a more meaningful, simpler, and hopefully happier, life now that I have eliminated so much of the non-essential in my life.



What to do when your family won’t eat healthy

Food is big part of our lives and our society. Many different ways of eating have started gaining traction in the last several years: vegetarianism, vegan, Atkins, paleo, primal, keto, Mediterranean….The list goes on.

You may have decided to change your way of eating but others in your household (spouse, significant other, children, roommates) are not on board with that. When we live with others who do not share our philosophy on food, it can become divisive.

So how can we deal with the struggles of different ways of eating (WOE) in a way in which all parties can be happy?

Explain/Express Yourself

Family With Baby Meeting Financial Advisor At Home

  • If you are contemplating changing your WOE, it is important to have a discussion with your significant other/children/other household residents. Sit down and explain WHY you are contemplating this change. Is it because of a moral issue, like the ethical treatment of animals? Is it a health concern, such as the doctor recommending not eating as many refined carbohydrates at your last appointment?
  • Let the others in the house know that you are making the change for you and while you are not going to demand that they change all of their own food habits, it’s important for them to respect your decision. Explain that this is something that you need to do to reclaim your health.
  • Be open about stumbling blocks. If a household member is bringing home fast food and that is a temptation for you, ask if they could eat their food elsewhere, as opposed to bringing it home. Let them know that while you are not necessarily requiring them to change their habits, you do need their support to change yours.

No Judgment


  • If others in your house are not eating the same as you, it is important to not shame or judge them for their choices. That will make them less likely to ever change. The best thing to do is to make your changes and be an example.
  • Talking about your food beliefs in a positive light is more beneficial than knocking someone else’s.
  • Frame statements in a positive light and from your perspective. “I’ve notice my skin has really cleared up since I’ve given up dairy!” as opposed to “Your acne is probably caused by the greasy foods you’re always eating.” You-statements put people in a defense mode, while I-statements generally make people more open or curious.

Make modifications


  • Instead of making a brand new crazy menu all at once, make smaller changes. Too much change all at once can be intimidating.
  • A great way to start is to make family favorites but in a healthier way. You can make burgers for everyone in the family but just leave the buns off of your own.
  • Mashed potatoes can be a great comfort food; you can make them with a blend of potatoes and cauliflower, or even sweet potatoes and cauliflower.
  • A pan of roasted veggies with homemade ranch dressing (without all of the industrial oils and sugar!) make a great addition. And most foods taste better with ranch!
  • If you are the primary meal planner/cook in the household, you will have control over what everyone else eats. Compromises can be struck. If others in the household are not interested in changing, maybe they can assist with cooking the foods that they want to keep in their diet that you will be eliminating. Maybe for the primary cook it’s not too much extra work to make an extra side or some ingredient that can be easily incorporated into the meal.

Find a community


  • These days we can create a virtual community of people from around the world thanks to social media. Odds are that you can find a Facebook community or Instagram account for any WOE you desire. It’s great forum in which to share recipes, articles, and tips with others who share your food values.
  • Talk to people you know in real life: people in your neighborhood, church, workplace, gym, etc. Who knows – maybe someone in your office is in a similar predicament and is also looking for support. You can start your own support/accountability group.

Make it fun

Happy young girl with her mother making dough

  • Get the kids involved! Watch YouTube cooking videos and then try out the recipe. Teaching them good nutrition habits and how to cook, especially when they are young, is so important.
  • Try introducing one new food a week. Make a game out of it with your kids – have them make suggestions of what new food they would like to try and each week try out one from the list.
  • When you do introduce new foods, present it like a fun experiment, not something that MUST be eaten. Demands of children are often met with obstinance, while the option to try one or two bites being encouraged is often more inviting.

Have a game plan

Group Of Friends Enjoying Evening Meal In Restaurant

  • If you’re joining friends at a restaurant, look at the menu online beforehand. You can check out your options ahead of time and decide what you will order there. Or maybe you decide that you will eat a meal at home prior to meeting up with friends and just opt for an appetizer. While food is important in our culture, so is simply spending time with good friends and family. Focus on the social experience you are having and not on what you might perceive you are missing out on.
  • It’s okay to eat before going to other social gatherings if you are not sure exactly what will be available for you to eat or simply because you want to be full in order to resist temptation.
  • You can still join the work gang for happy hour and just order sparkling water with lime.
  • Potlucks are a great way to eat with a group of friends but still have some control over what you eat. You have the control to bring a dish to share that you can eat and introduce something new to your friends.

Be prepared for people to question your choices

Young girl with question mark on a gray background

  • Be strong. People within your circles, be it family, friends, or work colleagues, will question what and why you are doing what you are doing.
  • Have a short answer ready. You don’t have to get into a philosophical debate at that moment. A simple “I don’t really feel like drinking/having dessert/etc.” should hopefully suffice. People sometimes are critical of issues regarding health because it makes them self-conscious in some way of their own behaviors/habits/issues and can read a positive change in another’s behavior as a personal attack on their own, whether this is done consciously or not.
  • Be open. There will come a time when people are genuinely curious and interested in your “why” and how to do what you’re doing. This is the time to share with them the details.

Keep on your journey to great health! Focus on what you are gaining (confidence, more energy, clearer brain functioning) and appropriately losing (weight, joint pain, lethargy). As others see your improvements, they will hopefully be encouraged on their own journey.



Gift ideas that focus on togetherness

So it’s that time of year where we feel the need to get gifts for everyone. But, as in the Grinch’s epiphany, “maybe Christmas, he thought…doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps…means a little bit more!” This post piggybacks off of last week’s, that it’s about presence and not presents, providing some ideas for gifts that aren’t just going to sit and collect dust. Christmas is about love and here are some great ideas to help spread that love while making memories with our loved ones.

Spa/salon/massage certificate or gift card

This is great for the person in your life who needs a little pampering. Getting a manicure with some girlfriends or sisters is a great way to spend an afternoon. And guys, it’s okay for you too! You don’t need to get polish to have someone soak and take care of your hands.

Dinner at a restaurant

A gift card to a favorite restaurant is great for a loved one who lives a distance away. For one who is closer, give them a certificate to take them out to dinner.

Dance/yoga/kickboxing classes

This would be a great time to try something different, like dance classes with a significant other or a belly dancing class with a couple of girlfriends.

Coupon for a service

Do you have a friend who just had a baby or an older person in your life who doesn’t get around as well as when he/she was younger? A voucher for babysitting or a day of help around the house or yard is sure to be greatly appreciated.

Movie/concert tickets

For someone who loves the movies or a particular band, tickets to the event would be a fun evening for you to do together. The event can even be a couple of months down the road. Sometimes the anticipation is part of the fun!


Maybe you have a loved one who holds a cause near to his/her heart, like cancer research, homelessness, or need of resources in a developing country. A donation in someone’s name is a caring gesture of that person’s values. There are foundations for every cause out there and local aid organizations. A couple of amazing international aid organizations are World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, and Charity Water. Charity Navigator can also direct you to choosing the right one for your donation.

Tourist attractions

If you live in a big city, you sometimes take attractions for granted. Spend an afternoon playing tourist and do those activities that you haven’t done since an old school field trip, like visit a museum or local historical site.

Homemade consumables

A homemade sugar or salt scrub is very easy to make in large batches, as is dry cookie dough mix in a jar. For coffee and hot chocolate lovers, chocolate dipped spoons with a bag of their favorite drink is also a great idea. Get the kiddos to help bake and package family favorite holiday treats to hand out to friends. Pinterest is full of ideas!


Whatever you buy does not need to be expensive. What matters is that you spend time with the person. Look on Groupon for deals for different services and activities. If you have siblings or a group of friends, you can even agree instead of buying gifts, that you will all get a package to a certain class or spa service. And these gift ideas are good for other traditional giving occasions, such as Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day, and birthdays.


Things I wish I could tell my 21-year old self

Hindsight is 20-20. How I wish I had a time-turner (or a time machine, for you muggles) so that I could travel back to my 21-year-old self and sit down over a drink and lay some truths down. But then again, at 21 years old, one generally feels like he/she already knows everything.


This past year, 2017, has been a really good one in my life. I feel like all of the puzzles pieces have fallen into place to create a more meaningful, simple life. Note: simple does NOT mean easy. I imagine the thought of my arrogance in thinking that I have life figured out probably makes God laugh, because this is truly not my life, but His. I wonder what my 60-year old self will think of this blog post.

Regardless, I have learned some really good lessons in the past decade and a half since entering the “real world”.


Never Say Never

Several times in my life I have been arrogant enough (hmmm…) to dare to tell God that I will never do something. Not long after that, every time, God has called me to do that very thing.

I said I would never move away from Cleveland, where I grew up and my family and friends pretty much all lived. When I was 28, I felt that God was calling me to move down to Texas. For four years when my best friend, who did live in San Antonio, would ask me every month when I was moving, “I’m not” was my standard reply. Then one morning I woke up and was like, “I think I’ll move to Texas!” Six months later, I was making the drive with my car jam packed with my belongings.

In college, I said I could never be a teacher. Then God called me to be a special ed teacher in San Antonio and I taught for nine years. I did love the work.

A few years ago, in my women’s Bible study, I vividly remember stating that God did not care what we ate, that there was no Biblical place for that idea.  Fast forward to January 2017 when I started following the Primal diet because I believe so deeply that God does care and that it does make a huge difference what we eat.

There are a few of other instances. It’s just funny how God changes our minds. And in every single instance, following through on what I said I would never do, has so greatly improved my life.


Your parents were right!

I remember in the mid-90s, my mom talked about the evils of refined sugar, white flour, and carbs. I would roll my eyes and try to ignore her. Yeah. See above.


Frustrated Mom


My parents tried to get me to budget my money and my mom would recommend Dave Ramsey’s books to me. I thought that because I worked in a bank and talked to people all day long with tons of credit card debt that I would be impervious to that pitfall. Cue a move across country and a very active, single lifestyle (trips, shopping, eating out) and usher in lots of credit card debt. Thankfully, when my husband and I first started dating, he was listening to Dave Ramsey and I finally did as well. We ended up both getting out of credit card debt and now know how to manage our finances.

Again, there are more examples, but those two are the most important issues on which I would tell my younger self.


Exercise and Eat Right

This may sound obvious. I wish I would have been more active when I was younger but I am so glad that I found my group, Camp Gladiator, when I did a few years ago.

My viewpoint on nutrition has changed so completely that I left my teaching career to focus on coaching others to value their own nutrition. What we eat has such a huge impact on our bodies. Duh, I know, but when I was getting my Primal Health Certification, it just struck me as truly amazing how our bodily systems all work in conjunction together. I was CONVINCED at one point, pre-Primal, that I had diabetes and a bunch of other ailments (slight hypochondriatic tendencies). Since eliminating grains, added sugar, and dairy from my diet, I no longer think I am coming down with anything. I feel so much better when I eat REAL food; I should have started this a decade ago.


Don’t Buy All the Things

This is part of what got me into all the credit card debt in the first place. I thought that buying THINGS would fill some void inside of me. And it would for a short time until I needed another fix. My “drug” of choice was clothing. It was truly disgusting how many articles of clothing I had. 90% of it didn’t fit or was outdated because I never got rid of anything.




Over the past few years, I started getting rid of things – the benefit of getting married and combining two households into one. I found The Minimalists this spring and their podcast and documentary has added sooooo much value to my life! (A link to their page is on my Resources page.) Getting rid of all the crap, the clutter, the tchotchkes, the things that I never use, has made my life so much simpler!


Add Value to the World


I graduated college with a dual major in International Business & Economics and Japanese. I wasn’t sure what I would do but I wanted to be a “businesswoman”. I liked to travel and loved learning other languages and, as there was no other strong job calling, it seemed to make sense.

I was fortunate enough to get hired with a major bank a few months prior to graduating. After 5 years of doing a job that I thought trained monkey could do, I left. I had a strong desire to do something that actually made an impact on the world. This was when I felt called to move to Texas and be a special ed teacher.

A couple of years ago, I took three different personality tests to try and find the “perfect job” for me. No joke, each one told me “elementary teacher/special ed teacher”. I really wish I had taken this tests earlier. I have the “provider guardian” personality.


“Providers are observant, cooperative, informative, and expressive. They are greatly concerned with the health and welfare of those under their care and they are the nurturers of established social institutions such as businesses, churches, social clubs, and schools.”
  • Wikipedia, “Provider (role variant)” article


While I wish I would have learned this at the start of my adult life, I think of all the valuable lessons and experiences I have had along the way. Those lessons and experiences have made me who I am today. And I am at a point where I truly love myself.


These are just a few things that I am trying to teach to my kids now, while they are still young, to instill good habits. Some of it is taking hold and some, well, they are just kids.

Oh, and God, I am NEVER going to Tahiti!!!!


Presence not Presents

It is that glorious time of the year where we pack lots of social events, family time, cooking, baking, eating, shopping, wrapping, running around… into 6 weeks.

This year, maybe you can do something different. Slow down. Don’t focus so much on presents as presence.

Start some new family traditions.

Clean out the toy box or the closets and have your children help you take the items to a charity for donation. Teach them that just because they are done loving their stuffed bear doesn’t mean that another child won’t love it just as much. The way I explained it to my kiddos when they both still believed in Santa was that by us donating their old toys, moms and dads who want to buy gifts for their kids but maybe cannot afford brand new things, can buy these things to make their little ones happy.

Take nature walks or discover geocaching, which is basically a modern day treasure hunt.

Watch science experiment videos online and then perform them together (with proper safety precautions, of course).

Watch the home videos your parents took when you were a child. Our children love seeing us at our awkward stages in living color.

Make hot chocolate or tea and sit and have a conversation with them, especially if they are at an age where they still like to talk to you and even more so if they are in those difficult teen years where they don’t talk to any adult.

When the littles ask you to play an imaginary game, do it, even if it’s five minutes. You will only have so many more chances. Turn things like making dinner into a game. I call it cooking school. We put on our aprons and the girls do what they can according to their ability, usually really easy meals.

As a stepmom, I get less time with my two girls than a full-time parent, so I really need to make my time count. Some mornings it’s hard to pry the electronics out of the kids’ hands (and let’s be honest, sometimes my own) but once I am successful, the girls always have fun when we spend time doing something together. And I really value the time with them.

In terms of presents: Sure, you may have bought your children forty gifts each last year and might feel the need to surpass that this year. But if you don’t, your kids will live. A few years ago I saw this on Pinterest and I love it.





Our culture is driven by mindless consumerism and meaningless materialism. It took me getting out of a lot of credit card debt to have my eyes opened, but this topic is for another blog post. As one of my heroes Dave Ramsey says, “more is caught than is taught”. Your children learn by watching what you do, not what you say. You remember that anti-drug PSA from the ‘80s…




Anyway, just some thoughts on that. We just had the girls at our house for the past week and it’s always a little sad the day or so after they go back home. I am just feeling a little sentimental.



10 Simple Thanksgiving Tips

The big day is almost here — The Super Bowl of Food! The day we get together with our family and sometimes have to deal with awkward questions from nosy/well-intentioned loved ones. People spend lots of money and time to make large, decadent meals.

You’ve worked hard the past few weeks. You made it to the gym or to your boot camp every day last week! You were careful when ordering take-out. But you still don’t want all of your hard work to go down the drain, nor do you want to deprive yourself.

Our culture, especially the during the holidays, revolves around food.

It seems, sometimes, to be the entire point of a get together. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy the day…without the self-loathing later.

1. Eat before the big event.

If you are going over to Aunt Sally’s at 3 p.m., make sure you’ve had breakfast, a glass of water, and maybe even a small salad before you pack up the car. When you arrive starving, you are more likely to go overboard with the appetizers laid out.

2. Let others get ahead of you in line.

A full dish heaped with a mountain of mashed potatoes next to a full gravy boat is very enticing. A half full dish isn’t as luring.

3. Turn your plate into a rainbow.

A variety of food will help you to get the most variety of nutrients – vitamins and minerals, not just nutrient-lacking carbs. The different colored food will also tend to have different textures, giving more eating pleasure.

4. Make smaller dishes.

We love to make large dishes, or double a recipe, to feed large crowds of people. But chances are really good that there will be a plethora of dishes at the buffet and sometimes just a bite or two is really all that’s needed to satiate a craving.

5. Choose booze or sugar — not both.

These two food groups pack a huge caloric punch for their volumes. If you go full blast for all the choices, bloating, lethargy, and disappointment are sure to follow.

6. If you choose booze, make a low-calorie drink.

Mixed drinks can be a “two-fer”: both alcohol AND sugar, which are just empty calories and both negatively affect blood sugar levels. Alcohol is a toxin and the body treats it as such, expelling all of its energy into ridding itself of it, thereby disrupting other bodily functions, such as digestion and regulation of hormones, to do so.. Be wise with your choices. If you like mixed drinks, a great substitute is vodka and La Croix. La Croix is super trendy right now and can be found at most grocers. It is naturally flavored, carbonated water that has no sugar or artificial ingredients, and comes in about 20 different flavors. My favorite is the Cherry Lime/Cerise Limón. Mix it with vodka and it is a grown-up version of a Sonic Cherry Limeade.

The best part of getting a case of La Croix is that it is a perfect substitute for kiddos or other non-drinkers to have instead of chemical-laden soda/pop and you can make festive mocktails. Here is a link with some recipes to inspire you.


7. If you choose sugar, make one indulgence.

A piece of pie, any flavor, has a significant amount of calories and sugar. Choose one dessert to have one serving of and let that be the pièce de résistance to an amazing meal.

8. Practice mindful eating.

If possible, make sure to sit down while eating. Hopefully there will be no electronic distractions at the dinner table. Take two or three bites, set down your fork, take a drink, and reply with a witty comeback to cousin John’s comment about current events. Oftentimes we consume our meals so fast that our brains have a lag time in realizing that we are full.

9. Stay hydrated.

As I tell my kids all the time, much to their annoyance, sometimes when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty. Drink a glass of water before the meal starts.

10. Help clean up.

Especially if you are not hosting, assisting on the clean-up crew is such a big help to your host/hostess. It also helps to ensure that you are not going back for seconds.
Happy Thanksgiving!! 



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Body image and Self-talk

Summer is here, ladies!!

Let’s hang out at the pool!!

Grab your swimsuit and meet at my place!!

Wait —


I need to be seen in public in my swimsuit?!

I am so not ready for this!!

I meant to work on my beach body this past winter and spring.

But you know….

Tacos, cookies, and cakes, oh my!!!

Pink swimsuit with beach accessories on blue background

It’s that time of year again. Maybe you are ready to go and feel super confident in your body. And that is amazing! You should be! But if you are like me and most women, we feel very self conscious and super exposed when it comes to parading around in a swimsuit, especially in front of other people.

When I am with friends, I don’t mind – I know what they think about me and am super comfortable with them. But when I am around strangers, no matter what the setting is – public speaking, walking, at the pool – I DON’T know what they think of me and my self-consciousness skyrockets.

Our culture celebrates the thin body as the ultimate ideal. We are bombarded by visual images on the covers of magazines, television shows, that perfect Instagrammer you follow, Pinterest…

But, if we could just reframe our focus and celebrate our bodies…

We have been created by our Divine Father. The human body is a marvel. It’s complexity is truly unfathomable.

Maybe you have stretch marks. Your body created and birthed another human being!! Celebrate that!

Maybe you are carrying more weight than you’d like right now because you have been working too much. You are contributing to society and helping out others, doing an important job. Celebrate that!

Maybe you have more wrinkles than you’d prefer. You’ve led a long life and experienced things! Celebrate that!

Maybe you have an illness that has prevented you from being at your ideal weight. Your body is working hard for you. Pamper it!

Very few women will probably ever be completely satisfied with how their bodies look. I see the areas that I hate when I look in the mirror. So I have to remind myself that my body is beautiful the way it is. I am almost 40 (!!!!!!) and realistically, my body will look very different from the way a 20-year-old’s will look.

But, then I think what my body has done for me. I have been blessed to have had a healthy life and switching to a primal lifestyle about 2 years ago now, I will be much healthier for the rest of it. This body I have has helped me to try and make this world a better place through my time as a special ed teacher and now as a health coach. This body helps to teach my girls how to be healthy. This body can do so much more in terms of working out than I ever thought I could do.

I should celebrate it and be grateful for it. Everyday. And enjoy the time I have while I am “young”. Because someday I will be too old to go enjoy an afternoon by the pool. I don’t want to regret little things like that.

I have two girls, 12 and 10. How I act and talk about my body, especially in front of them, is CRITICAL to how they will form their own body image.

We should not be ashamed of our bodies. We should celebrate them! Now, this is not to say that we shouldn’t take care of them. We absolutely should! We need to do the best we can to honor our bodies and take care of them in the best way we can. But while we are on that journey we shouldn’t hide away.


Buddha said “What we think, we become.” (I found that online – who knows if he actually said that. Regardless, it’s a good quote.) If we are constantly talking crap to ourselves, we will manifest it and exude that vibe. It can slowly take over our whole mindset, like a cancer, infecting our whole being.

The converse is true. If we start by focusing on what we DO like about our bodies, that positive body image will take over and will spread to other parts and we will learn to see the beauty there as well.

Beautiful young woman checking her face in a mirror.

Spend some time looking in the mirror and looking at yourself closely. Again, your body might not look the way you want. But look closer – there are some amazing parts.

Your feet take you to work everyday to provide for your family. They are beautiful.

Your hands make food for your family. They are beautiful.

(Insert body part) does something amazing for yourself, your family, or others. It is beautiful.

We all know people who give off positive self-confidence vibes and those who give off negative ones and who we would rather be around. Aim for that positivity in your own life.

A great exercise is to sit down and actually write out a couple of things that you love about your body. Post it somewhere that you can see everyday, such as on your bathroom mirror. Be grateful everyday for the body you have and celebrate it.

You only get one.