Smoked Brisket, Fried Egg, Avocado Taco…It’s what’s for breakfast!

Totes Paleo. Well the version of Paleo that allows for real corn tortillas containing only natural ingredients. I strive for 95% perfection. That measly 5% makes the plan livable. So what exactly are the 5% non-paleo foods that I consume? I can tell you it will never be things like cookies, ice creams, etc. The 5% is purely a convenience factor for me. I cook 95% of everything I eat. The 5% is for things I don’t want to make or find too time consuming or expensive to prepare. A corn tortilla is a perfect example. Is it hard to make? No. Can I easily make one or two of them on the rare occasion I want one? Nope. I try to limit the 5% to items that aren’t really that unhealthy but, in the interest of eating natural, I usually forego. Another example of the 5% is ketchup.

I don’t stress about meals and I don’t over plan them. I purchase meats, veggies, fruits, and nuts, and try to group them together so they complement each other. I will cook a protein and add a vegetable. I will snack on fruit if I want something sweet and nuts if I want something salty or if I’ve not eaten enough fat for the day. I know I’ve not eaten enough fat if I’m truly hungry. A high fat meal will keep me satisfied for hours and overall I eat less throughout the day. When I feel hungry, I’ll drink 8 oz of water first. After 15 minutes if I still feel ready to eat my own hand, then I’ll snack. Sometimes dehydration will feel like hunger.

So eating this way is simple for me. I add a healthy fat to a pan, add protein, brown it and add a vegetable. Season to taste and add compliments such as homemade salsa, pickles, etc., and its meal time.

This morning, I had left over smoked brisket to use up. Trust me when I say we are big carnivores here. It’s rare to have left over proteins. So I warmed two corn tortillas then added an egg fried in bacon fat, shredded smoked brisket seasoned with chili powder, a spritz of fresh lime, a slice of avocado, a pinch of fresh cilantro and a tablespoon of salsa. Ta-da! It’s 95% Paleo and 100% easy.

Eat clean? You mean like wash the fruit?

Eating clean. I’ve seen this phrase a lot lately on message boards, blogs, and in magazine articles. It is an interesting turn of phrase. I didn’t know I was eating dirty. Well, except maybe that one time… As it turns out, I had adopted a clean eating lifestyle a while back before the lingo, the media craze, and definitely before all the cool kids were doing it. I started it back in July 2013 after a life changing epiphany. One summer day my husband and I were on the way to a movie and decided to grab a quick bite of lunch. We stopped at a common fast casual chain restaurant near the theater and ordered our meals. As I sat at our table waiting for our food to arrive, I glanced around me to the other diners. What I saw was eye-opening. I saw obese people everywhere. The server was obese, the management was obese, the busboy was obese, and so were 95% of the customers. As I observed my fellow diners, I watched a server deliver a platter of onion rings to the table beside us. The platter was arranged (I kid you not) a foot high. My husband and I sat and watched in horror and disgust as they proceeded to throw these back with a bowl of mayonnaise based dipping sauce as an appetizer. I’m unclear what they actually ordered for lunch because by than my food had arrived. A BBQ bacon cheeseburger with fries, which, twenty minutes before sounded really tasty, now just left me feeling like the world’s biggest hypocrite. I mean, I sat in judgment of everyone and thought, “How can these people let themselves get this big or eat like that?” I was there and I was eating the same, albeit a smaller portion of the same crap. Crap is exactly what it was. I pondered this and I tried to eat my lunch and it felt like eating crow, quite honestly. I raised my eyes to my very fit husband and let the floodgate of feelings open wide and I said, “You know, I’m not really any different then these people. I’m judging them for the exact thing I’m doing right now. While I’m not obese, I’m not a healthy weight either and what exactly am I doing about it?’ I then glanced around the room again and saw it differently. I saw it as a future outcome if I didn’t change. It was my “Aha!” moment. I truly got it. I then understood in perfect clarity every article I had ever read about a “life altering moment.” I had just had mine.

So with new purpose I started researching “diet” plans.  Diets had never really worked for me in the past so I put new vigor into finding something different. I found it in a book called “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf.  I had heard of Paleo before and it had always struck me as being too strict, not livable, and too hard. Well change isn’t easy as I was learning so I began to read it. Did I read the entire book? No. I read about 85% of it and then began researching Paleo online. There was a TON of versions of the “paleo” plan out there and all of it was confusing. One source would say, absolutely no dairy. Other sources would say you can have dairy in small quantities, if it came from grass-fed cows, organic, etc. The more I read about it the more it appealed to me.

Clean eating appealed to me. A diet…not die(t) of pure, honest-to-goodness food. No processed, man-made Franken-food, no grains, no pastas, no baked goods, no ice cream (sob!), no man-made industrial cooking oils, chemicals or preservatives. Just clean food. Food grown in the dirt, hanging from a tree, or raised in a pasture. Food not from a box, a package, or wrapped with a label.

Also-and honestly this was probably my biggest motivating factor; I was tired of eating. I was tired of consuming everything and not feeling nourished. In general I guess you could say that eating bored me. WHAT?!? Eating bored you? You must be crazy? These are heavy words considering my line of work. I’m a classically trained chef. I work with food. I play with food and, yes, sometimes I dream of it. Most people think Chefs eat amazing food everyday. I’m here to tell you, that is not the case the majority of the time. We work long hours without breaks, without meals, and, depending on the season, work in extreme temperatures. When most of us have time to cook ourselves a “meal”, it’s usually something fast and, often times, unhealthy. Ramen noodles are a classic chef meal. It’s sad, but true.

So I was tired of eating and I didn’t feel like it was going to get better unless I made a change. Cue theme song and disco lights. So I started eliminating certain foods from my diet based on the paleo premise. I started in July 2013 and by Dec 2013 I had lost 30 pounds and was very near my goal weight. I felt great and after a few more months I settled into it. It became second nature to eat that way. I loved it.

So what happened? Life happens. Sometimes traumatic things happen that change a person and we self medicate as a method of dealing. I self medicated with food. Food items that I had eliminated from my diet for months became newly found friends and then they brought friends. You get the picture. My new vigor for the lifestyle dampened while I recovered.

Several months later, I’m in a good place and ready to take control of my life again. I’m ready to adopt that healthy lifestyle. Paleo was very good for me. I lost weight. I got stronger, my skin cleaned up, my sleep apnea disappeared (BIG WOOHOO) and overall my life improved. I was happy.

I am happy but I could be happier, healthier and could lose a couple of pounds but honestly it’s about that renewed vigor for food that drives me. Real food tastes better for a reason.

So my first goal of 2015 is to eat real food. I will again slowly eliminate foods and beverages that I find unhealthy. The first week I will eliminate anything containing gluten or any processed food. Hence I will not eat bread, pastries, cookies, colas, pastas, rice, sugar and the list goes on. So what exactly will I be eating? I will be eating vegetables, meat, fruits and nuts. These items will be either fresh, frozen or in certain instances canned and will not contain any hard to pronounce chemical or additives.

I’m looking forward to some really good food.

Never say die(t)!

The dreaded January diet deadline. Just the word diet is enough to both inspire and depress me. “Why?” you ask? Like most of you, the word diet brings forth images of starvation, bland food, salads, and that other thing we all hate ….exercise.

If you Google the word “diet” you get 461,000,000 results in .24 seconds and every link therein says something different or promises something different if only you follow this plan. The top three links per Google on January 1st, 2015 were: South Beach Diet, Nutrisystem, and Weight Watchers. Surprising? Not really.

Is there anything wrong with any of these plans? Do they work? I will say that I’m not a guru about these things, but these plans work SOMETIMES for SOME people.  Why? Diets are realistically a short term solution to a long term problem.  I mean you sacrifice for a few weeks and exercise like a beast to lose those 10 pounds, only then to splurge on a piece of cake or a slice of pizza and all your progress disappears. What all of these have in common is that they are not livable long term. Life happens. Special occasions happen. Is your waistline and general health always going to be in peril in want of a chocolate chip cookie?

I’m here to tell you from my vast dieting experience that I’ve tried almost everything. I purchased books, subscribed to magazines, attended meetings, popped diet pills and supplements, underwent hypnosis, drank shakes, liquid- fasted, ate overpriced frozen meals, bought workout DVDS and gym memberships, starved, and sat across from countless  diet “counselors” (who have never been overweight a day in their life) who told me I needed to “eat less .”

So what am I trying to say? I’m saying that I am tired and slightly insane from doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. Isn’t that the very definition of insanity?

So I’m ready.  Let’s roll.

My first goal is to develop a better relationship with food and my body, and to stop beating myself up over every perceived, mismanaged step. On the journey, there will be bumps in the path. I have only one body and its mine to treat how I see fit. I’m gonna love it.

So stick a fork in me, baby! I’m done. I shall never diet again!!! –said in my best Scarlett O’Hara voice.

Are you ready? Well? Are you??

The first days of January are an opportunity to start a new you. An opportunity with a blank slate to start a new worthwhile goal and 365 days to accomplish it. As I look at the blank calendar I am filled with hope that this new day, week, month, or year will bring about something different than previous years.  Unfortunately, the calendar has the power to inspire, but nothing more. YOU are the motivating factor in your successes or failures.

How many times have you read a “how to” book and it says the first step to success is to be “ready?” I don’t know about you but this always kind of dumb- founded me. I mean, of course, I’m ready. I purchased the book, shake mix, exercise video, etc., didn’t I?

The idea of readiness is something to ponder. How many times have you said “Gee, I’d give anything to be that size?” Of course, in that instance we are envious of the result but are we really ready to do “anything” to obtain it?  I’ve said those words many times but when it came time to really mean it…well, I didn’t.

Are you ready? Are you ready like me to change your life one small goal at a time? Take some time and think about it.  Meditate over it. Mull it over. Make a decision and roll with it. In reality, what have you got to lose? Time passes anyway, right?  Over the next 7 days I will publish my personal goals and I will blog my results on each goal to hold myself accountable. Pretty ballsy, right? Well, I’ve never been accused of being shy.

Who am I anyway? Am I a diet guru? Am I a nutritionist? Am I a personal trainer? I am none of these things and yet at certain times I strive to be all of those things to myself to achieve my personal goals.

I am just your average PHAT girl working toward living a healthy life in all facets. Join me on my journey. Cheer for me and cheer for yourself to succeed with your goals.

I’m ready for the journey. Are you?

A healthy life…..2015!

What does this mean to you? Well it’s December 31st and I’ve yet to really think about resolutions for 2015. All the resolutions I’ve ever made relate to living a more healthy life. Sound familiar? Most people think of a healthy life as…I’ll lose weight, I’ll quit smoking; I’ll eat better; etc. Most of these things, while worthwhile and doable, tend to fall by the wayside come January 15th, or sooner.  It’s not necessarily our fault.  Life, or what we perceive to be life, gets in the way. Maybe its working 50 hours week that gets in the way of our best intentions. Struggling to put food on the table, juggling family time, and trying to find time to be everything to everyone else that causes us to short change ourselves and our life.  It is our life. It is our decision how to live it.  Easier said than done, right?

What makes 2015 different than 2014, 2013, 2012 and so on? I choose. I choose how I’m going to live going forward. I will not let fear of failure, fear of judgment or anything else stand in my way of living my life. I will live a healthy life. I will eat to nourish myself. I will move to strengthen my body. I will breathe to nurture my soul. I will search for beauty in all things. I will journey until I find what I have been searching for. I will dine. I will laugh. I will live. I will live a fulfilling, healthy life. Life isn’t about the destination but the journey. The journey begins now.

Welcome to it.