Paleo Power!

Yep, we’re still at it.  We went through 30 days of “strict” Paleo and not only did we survive, but we feel awesome!  Here are some way-cool benefits that we’ve experienced:

1.  Sugar-brain is gone.  I’m  not sure if this is the way sugar effects everyone, but for Cosmo and me, it is like a sneaky, mind-numbing drug.  Several years ago, we tried Somersizing (the Suzanne Somers diet).  The main benefit we saw came from not eating sugar.  It was like a fog was lifted.  We both felt sharp, I mean really brilliant, and were able to keep multiple thoughts and tasks going at once.  We also noticed an increase in willpower – for lack of a better word.  Here’s what I mean: It would be evening after a really long day and there was laundry in the dryer.  Normally, I would just say, “Meh.  I’ll just turn it on again in the morning to ‘iron’ it and then take it out.”  But without sugar-brain, it goes like this, “Let’s get the laundry out now and fold it all or hang it all up and put it all away!  And let’s do another load while we’re at it!  Oh, look, I can vacuum right now, too!  I think I’ll clean the toilet right quick!”  You get the idea, right?

It may seem odd to attribute this to lack of sugar, but we have tested our theory and this is the explanation that fits our scenario.  And I’m not the only one who things sugar is to blame for a LOT of ailments – just Google “Sugar is the Devil” and see what you get!  ;)   And even with no sugar, I get to eat this homemade version of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups:

2.  I no longer have the uncontrollable need to eat bones.  (For the un-initiated, that’s a reference from the greatest sci-fi show, ever – Farscape.  In Season 1, Episode 21: “Bone to be Wild,”  there is a seemingly helpless alien who turns into a bone-eating monster when she is hungry.  She can’t help it.  She just needs to eat and she just happens to eat bones.  The urban dictionary calls it “Hangry, but in my house, it is affectionately referred to as needing to eat bones…I do the accent and everything.)  Anyway, on Paleo, my blood-sugar has stabilized and I no longer experience these swings from high to low.  In fact, just today, I ate breakfast around 8:00 a.m. and then wasn’t able to eat more than a handful of nuts until 5:00 p.m. when I made supper.  Normally, I would have been grumpy, tired, irritable, and looking to shove anything resembling food into my mouth.  BUT after a hearty Paleo breakfast, I made it all day and I was even nice to perfect strangers!  I came home and cooked this for supper:

That really is amazing!

3.  I’ve lost about five pounds.  Nothing earth shattering, but pretty impressive considering the fact that I feel like I have eaten better than I have in ages and I haven’t been working out any more than normal.  I’m starting a bootcamp next week to increase the intensity of my workouts, so I’m curious to see what that does for me…

The hard part:

1.  It does take some planning and preparation.  The first three weeks I was really trying to eat specific recipes from Practical Paleo, so that meant a lot of time making a menu and then a shopping list from her recipes.  The last two weeks, I’ve made things easier and am mostly focusing on protein and veggies for meals and only cook a specific recipe once in awhile.  But there is still a lot of prep involved with fresh veggies – washing, chopping, cooking, etc.  Which also means a lot of dishes to wash…but thankfully my hubby does the dishes most of the time, so I really can’t complain there!

2.  I miss bread on occasion.  I have a special place in my heart (and gut!) for bread, so giving it up was tough at first.  However, I found some awesome muffin and waffle recipes that are made with coconut flour, so I’m perfectly happy with that.  I’m still missing crackers, so now I need to find a Paleo cracker to satisfy that need…

So, we are now calling ourselves “Paleo.” We are no longer considering this a ‘new diet,’ rather it has just become the way we eat.  Love it!

Happy Birthday to Me

My birthday was January 11th.  I had an epiphany that day that I’d like to share…  I love the new year.  I get so busy between Thanksgiving and Christmas that the new year often becomes this beacon of hope shining out in promise and rest and newness.  I’m not so big into new year’s resolutions, but I do sense a feeling of starting over every January 1st.

Birthday Dinner at Chuy's

The trouble is, my Christmas vacation is usually still going on when January 1st hit.  Now, the only “trouble” with this is that I’m usually out of pocket, not at home, with my family, still indulging on sweets and such, etc.  Then I arrive home around the 5th and have to get my home back in order, unpack, go to the grocery store, etc. before I can think about applying anything of the new things I want to do or the undone things I want to pick back up.  I wonder if that makes any sense to anyone else…

Anyway, I often find that on my birthday, I look up and think, “Geez!  We’re 11 days into this new year and I haven’t begun ________ or _______ or finished ________.”

Birthday Dinner at Chuy's

This year, I had a different thought:  January 11th is my new year.  That is so often the day I’m ready to jump in with both feet and do all the things I’ve been wanting to do.  Talk about a sense of relief!

One of those things I planned to do in the new year was take part in Anne Voskamp’s Joy Dare.  To hit the goal of 1000 listed gifts in a year, I need to do about three a day, but by my birthday, I had done zero.  I started to feel behind.  “I should give up!  I can’t even stay current this early in the year!  Oh well…it’s too late now.”  (I know, a little melodramatic, but some of you are with me, right?)  The birthday epiphany gave me the encouragement I needed when I realized I always feel behind when I hit my birthday and haven’t hit my stride for the new year.

So I started where I was and have my list underway.  I’m finding it easiest to post my Joy Dare list in Facebook, but I’d like to keep a running list somewhere, so maybe here…my first 20:

1. delicious Paleo meals
2. the first Hope Student Life of 2014 last night
3. coconut soup for lunch
4. tulips in the morning sunlight on my kitchen table
5. allergies (yes, I’m thankful for them because they remind me me of how good I normally feel when I don’t have them…and *everything* from God’s hand is a gift…)
6. successfully resisting temptation
7. forgiveness for failing to resist temptation
8. Braving the allergens to enjoy this beautiful day
9. Lunch with great, fun, and silly friends
10. Church at Hope Chapel with these fine folks (and a few others…):
11. yet another beautiful day in Austin
12. persistent faith that clings to God’s promises in His Word
13. an optimistic tree already in bloom as if it’s spring
14. lessons from Malcolm Gladwell’s “David and Goliath”
15. parents who are willing to learn new things, despite their children giving them a hard time!
16. homemade laundry detergent
17. fresh flowers on the kitchen table
18. sunlight through purple bottles on the windowsill
19. prayers to a loving, compassionate Father
20. ending a list on a nice round number…

What are you thankful for?

Adventures in Paleo

I got this mammoth book for Christmas: Practical Paleo Book

It is huge and heavy and I’m fixin’ to take it to the Kinko’s and have them split it in half and spiral bind the sucker.  Then it will be more manageable and user-friendly.  The first half is the why of doing Paleo and the second is mostly recipes.  The “why” was an interesting read over Christmas break, but my “why” is simple – I want the benefits I’ve seen in Cosmo’s cousin…  She and her family have some allergies and they started doing Paleo several months ago.  Allergies are gone and she and her husband look amazing!

I want my allergies gone and I want to look amazing, so I decided to give it a shot!

Beef & Veggie Stir Fry

So, we’ve been at it since Monday (today is Saturday) and I have to say, it has gone GREAT.  We went on a massive shopping excursion after spending a couple of hours creating a meal plan and shopping list (note: there are only two of us…I have no idea how you people with children ever accomplish this task.  You are my heroes.).  We have spent more time cooking this week than I think we did in the last six months – and that includes Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners!  But we have had fun being together in the kitchen and have created some truly amazing food.

In this process, I wanted to keep track of our progress, likes and dislikes, successes, failures, struggles and the like.

Thai Curry & Coconut Soup

What I’ve learned this week:

  • reheated eggs are not my favorite – we made the “Swirly Crustless Quiche” and then reheated it a couple of days.  It was ok, but not as awesome as it would have been fresh out of the oven.  Good, time-saving idea, but not worth it…
  • perfectly baked bacon rocks and is good reheated
  • pumpkin pancakes took a long time and were not worth the effort…maybe I didn’t cook them long enough or something, but they were kinda too soft and mushy.  I’m big on texture, so these didn’t work for me.  Searching for a better paleo-friendly pancake / waffle recipe.  I think coconut flour ones are the answer…
  • it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  I did find myself longing for bread last night, but I made it through and am planning some paleo muffins into this week’s menu.
  • it has been time consuming, BUT as we learn more about how to do it, I’ll feel better about branching out from specific recipes to do my own thing.  AND we have enjoyed being in the kitchen working together to make meals.

So far, I am still sniffling with allergies and don’t look amazing, but I feel pretty good about the whole thing and am willing to persist…

Joy Dare

joyJoy.  Exuberance.  Bliss.  Delight.  Elation.  Wonder.

Dare.  Challenge.  Provoke.  Entice.

I am taking a dare that was issued to my heart quite awhile back.  A dare to look for joy daily.  A dare to find in the everyday-ness of life the treasures God has planted for me to find.  A challenge to see beyond the “in your face” stuff of life to the things that sing songs to my soul.  It has also been called gratitude, but Joy is a lovelier word to my heart.

Inspired by Ann Voskamp and her One Thousand Gifts, I am taking her up on her dare in the new year.  It is my only resolution.  (I thought of quoting her – of explaining her one thousand gifts / joy dare, but I decided to let her do that for herself through her blog and books and instead, I will simply (!) take the dare for myself.)

The dare is to face each and every day with expectation and an eye to the gifts God gives every moment of every day.  Some are obvious, blue-skies-and-sunshine type gifts.  Others seem to be nothing but pain until you peel back a few layers that remind that God is always and only ever seeking our best.

But I am waiting to start.  I’m waiting until January 1, 2014.  I know, seems doomed if it becomes a New Year’s Resolution, but as I have pondered the idea, I find myself needing to wait.  Everywhere I look, I am surrounded by Advent – this season of waiting, of anticipation.  Waiting for the coming of the Christ-child.  Waiting for His perfect timing to birth a new thing in me.  It isn’t about the date so much as it is about my heart.  I feel a sense of needing to wait; the kind of wait that builds anticipation and longing.  The kind of wait that lives through the initial excitement of a new thing and sustains it past the newness of a thing.  A wait that outlives the honeymoon and blossoms into a happily-ever-after marriage of commitment and devotion.

Yes, I’m striving to list 1000 Gifts. Yes, I’m going to number them.  As for where they will be…I’m not entirely sure.  Some will be here, most will be on Facebook.  Boy, I sure would like to say that you will be able to find the entire list in one place and I hope to make that the case, but you’ll forgive me if some end up not together.  Let me think on that some more an give you an update in the next post…


sunsetI’m speaking at our church’s women’s retreat in October.  I have never spoken at a women’s retreat – or really anywhere – and I’ve been doing a lot of praying and pondering about what God wants me to say.

The topic is simplicity and I’ve been asked to simply share what I have done in my life to simplify. It’s a funny question because I feel I am still very much on a quest to simplify more, but sometimes I’m not sure what that means. Get rid of stuff? Take more quiet walks around the block? Spend more time doing less?

There are so many ways to simply and I seem to be complicating how to go about simplifying…

But I am also getting a clearer picture of what God has for me. Not only what He wants me to share with the women, but also how he wants me to simplify. The image is becoming clearer, but I’m not there just yet. I do know that it starts with focusing simply on one thing and one things only…Jesus.  :)