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.

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:

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.



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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.