Keep Moving Forward: My guest post on

Keep Moving Forward. This is the theme of a Triathlon-Mom blog I absolutely love. I have to say that she really hit the nail on the head with that. Three words that mean so much and are, in my opinion, the key to health and fitness success.
For the last three years, my family and I have been engaged in a food and fitness revolution. I have become fully engaged in eating Paleo, working out, and spending quality time with my family. Balancing these things is what makes me feel that I am living a healthy and happy life. This balance can sometimes be difficult to achieve. And like most Moms with young kids, I think the fitness piece is the most difficult to maintain. There are times where it seems impossible to do it all. The kids get sick, we overcommit to activities, the house is a mess, we moved, etc… But through those times, the one thing that I always try to keep in mind is how far I have come. I have worked so hard to get to the fitness and health place I am in. I can not go backwards. So what I have to do is keep moving forward. It can be as little as an extra walk around the block, a great stretching session when I am feeling overwhelmed, or a climb up my kids playground in the backyard. As little as these things may seem, they are all a step forward. A step towards being active, healthy, and enjoying life. Every workout, every great Paleo meal, is one step forward.
With all that motivational talk aside, I have a few simple pointers for those who are looking to include fitness into their lives and are not sure how they can make it work. Keep in mind that of course everyones situation is different. These points are just a rough outline of what I have found to be helpful to me.

1. Keep it fun- There is nothing worse than logging hours on a treadmill while staring at a wall. Besides the fact that it’s not doing your fitness routine justice, it’s just plain boring. And boring is not something we want to do every day. Try to incorporate things you like to do. If you love being outside, look for an outdoor fitness class, ride a bike, or take a hike. I tend to mix up lots of different style workouts to keep myself from getting bored with the same old same old. In the same week I can mix spinning, weight training, suspension training, and running outside. It keeps it from becoming boring.

2. Find a fitness friend- You don’t need a ton of gym buddies to make your workout enjoyable. One friend who you reliably see at the gym can make the difference between a great workout and no workout at all. If you work out at home, having another Mom with kids to share that with is a great idea too. I am very lucky to have had a few friends at my old gym and recently found a friend at my new gym. Just her texting me asking if I am going today is enough to help motivate me to get there. And having a friend to share fitness enthusiasm with is great. It’s the “I’ll try it if you do” idea from your childhood. Its great being able to motivate each other to try new things.
Rock climbing with a fitness friend

3. If you are a Mom, find a place that you can bring your kids to- I can not stress this one enough. If you have young children, do not join a gym where you can’t bring kids. You will never go as much as you would otherwise, and when you do it can be stressful to have to coordinate childcare.

4. Enlist in some help- Take classes with instruction, use personal trainers, ask the staff for help if there’s a machine you aren’t familiar with. If you are home, watch youtube videos or for inspiration and guidance. The more you know, the more confident and less apprehensive you feel.

5. Set a goal- Setting a goal is proven to be motivating. So sign up for an event or partake in a “gym challenge”. Theres nothing better than reaching a goal you set for yourself.
My triathlon “medal”. I set a goal and followed through.

6. Make being active a family affair-Spend your weekend free time hiking, skiing, walking or biking with your spouse and kids. We love riding bikes as a family. There are usually plenty of safe trails and parks to ride in. Go to your town Recreation department and ask for information. Check out for local events you can do with your spouse or the whole family. My husband and I have done a number of events together, and we have a blast every time.

If the “keep moving forward” message really feels like it makes sense to you, check out Swim Bike Mom’s video on youtube. I watched it multiple times a day when I was training for my triathlon. It is incredibly inspiring.

Heres a great protein packed snack that provides great nutrition, and enough fat to keep you satisfied.

BLT Egg Salad

2 hard-boiled eggs
1 Tbsp homemade bacon mayo (make mayo the way you normally do but sub bacon grease for half your oil)
1 Tbsp finely diced red onion
2 Tbsp finely diced of celery
5 grape tomatoes, quartered
3-4 slices pastured bacon, crumbled
Pepper to taste

Mash up the eggs in a large bowl.
Add the rest if the ingredients and mix.
Serve with veggie scoops or lettuce boats (romaine works great).


Rachel is a 36-year-old mother of three boys. She has a B.S. in Nutrition, is a Physician Assistant, and a fitness enthusiast. Because of a love for cooking (and eating!) she will be sharing recipes, tips, and ideas on her blog at


Paleo 101: The Basics

Recently I created a little sheet to give people when they ask about Paleo. I think with all the information out there, it can be very overwhelming at first. Realizing I never put this basic information here on my blog, I am adding it now.


The Basics:

-Paleo is not a diet. It is a lifestyle. The goal is to reduce inflammation in the body and achieve a healthy hormonal balance. Losing weight is a side effect of eating this way, not the goal.

-Foods to eat-
Meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts, healthy fats and oils. Fermented foods.

Meats/seafood-grass fed beef, pastured poultry/pork/lamb, etc. Wild caught seafood.

Vegetables-pay attention to the dirty dozen (12 most contaminated fruits/vegs)-choose organic if poss. Use sweet potato/squash/zucchini in place of pasta or white potato.

Fruits-Same as vegetables. Limit starchy/high sugar like bananas, mangoes, etc to once a day if you are active.

Nuts-Garnish/snack. Not main course. Try not to overdo them. A handful a day is fine. Preferable nuts (with l owed omega-6 content-ie. less inflammatory) are macadamias, cashews, hazelnuts. Almonds ok in moderation.

Oils-Use coconut oil, clarified butter (preferably grass fed), olive oil. Avocados, coconut, olives are great fat sources.

Fermented foods-kombucha (a fermented tea), sauerkraut, kimchee, coconut or almond based kefir or yogurt.

-Foods to avoid– ALL grains (this includes corn, wheat, oats, rye, barley, rice, etc..NO GLUTEN), refined seed oils (canola, soy, sunflower,vegetable, grape seed), white potato, legumes (including peanuts and soy), artificial color/flavor, dairy (some paleos eat raw or grass fed organic dairy-this depends on how your body handles it). Refined sugars (maple syrup, local raw honey, date sugar ok).
Alcohol (at the very least you should avoid beer and the sugary mixed drinks).


-Basics Books:
Practical Paleo by Dianne SanFilippo. This book is a great resource for starting out. She breaks it down in a very easy to understand way.
Theres 30 day plans, lists, and helpful charts and cut outs you can use as reminders so you don’t have to lug the book to the store. Its also colorful and full of great photos.

It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Creators of a 30 day squeaky clean paleo plan called “Whole 30”. This book is a little more technical but a great read once you have a handle on the basics, or you are interested in doing a 30 day super clean Paleo diet.

The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. He has his own paleo-like program called “Primal”. Allows for a little more than Paleo does. Great way to start. His website is full of info thats easy to understand and supported by research.

-Cookbooks: These are books that provide easy to follow recipes, some background info/tips, and beautiful food photography.
Against All Grain by Danielle Walker.
Make It Paleo by Haley Mason and Bill Staley.
Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso.
Well Fed by Melissa Jouliwan.
Eat Like a Dinosaur by Stacy Toth and Matthew McCarry.

-Websites: There are TONS of Paleo bloggers out there. Most of the very popular ones have written cookbooks to go along with their blog.

2 Week Update: My Whole 30

I have been doing Whole 30 (a 30 day squeaky clean Paleo challenge) since January 1. You can find more info on Whole 30 here. I have a chunk of time tonight so I want to do a halfway post, even if its a little early. Whole 30 is not a giant change for me, but enough of a change that I do feel a difference. With the Whole 30, I can not have any sugar, dairy, alcohol, additives, and of course no grains.. I continue to eat organic vegetables, fruit, some nuts, and grass fed/pastured meats. In the last few months I had begun to drink my coffee with cream (and sometimes maple syrup), indulged nightly dark chocolate, and had a few too many Paleoized treats. So when January came, I decided that I needed a reboot. Whole 30 is just that. It is a metabolic reboot. Despite the changes being pretty minimal for me (vs. someone coming from a typical American diet), I do see a major difference already both physically and emotionally. Heres what I have noticed so far:

1. My energy is through the roof. I am normally pretty high energy, even with 3 little boys to take care of all day. But now I am unstoppable. I go strong from morning to night without feeling tired AT ALL. The strange thing is that I am drinking half the caffeine I was (coffee isn’t as warm and cozy when its black). Almost every day I am able to do all the things I like to do. I workout hard, spend time with my husband and boys, tend the house, cook, socialize with friends, and sleep.

2. My skin is glowing. I have been asked a few times what I use on my skin. My answer is its not whats on my skin, its what I put in my mouth. I tend to think its from all the beautiful fat I am eating.

3. My stomach is flatter. I have 3 kids. I will never have a fully flat belly. But, I work out like a fiend. And yet, until the last week I had a belly. About 2 inches of bloat have literally vanished from my waist. My clothes are looser. I did my stats with my trainer at the start of this, so at the end of my whole 30 we will really see what happened to my body fat and muscle.

4. I am never super hungry. Even after a tough workout, I am not super hungry. I think my blood sugar stays so stable eating this way that I don’t experience highs and lows at all. I feel even keeled and happy.

Here are some pictures of what I have been eating on Whole 30. As you can see, life without grains, sugar, dairy, and additives is absolutely delicious!




IMG_2897 IMG_2705



Little Helpers

Last night I went out with a group of Moms for drinks (ok being on Whole 30 I had herbal tea and drooled at everyone’s wine). Naturally, the discussion turned to kids. Having this blog post in mind I asked everyone how they felt about having their kids help in the kitchen. The answers were mixed about the logistics of it all, but we all agreed on one thing. Allowing kids to help choose food and/or cook with you makes them much more likely to try new things and be enthusiastic about eating.
I have always had my kids “help” me in the kitchen. They love to add ingredients, mix, crack eggs, and even flip pancakes (my 8 year old is a great almond flour pancake flipper). They get excited knowing its time to make something. It’s a nice way to keep then involved and still get done what you need to. With younger toddlers, giving them their own bowl with stuff you aren’t really making inside it is great. They don’t know it’s not what you’re making, but they are still excited to “help”.

Some ideas for things to let them do mostly on their own are:
Smoothies–they can pick the fruit,veggies, pour liquid, turn it on and off.
Eggs–my boys love cracking them. Unfortunately only the 8 year old can do it without getting a bowl full of shells. They can also mix them and scramble them.
Trail mix and granola–they can add the ingredients and mix by hand. They also can put in containers.
Baking–I give them their own measuring spoons, cups, etc. They mix, pour, turn on the oven, and watch the timer
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So here’s a super easy Paleo snack idea to make with the kids. We make a big batch and then the kids fill little snack sized ziplocks that we stash in the car and self serve snack drawer in the house. We keep the baggies, rinse and dry, then store for next time.

3/4 cup cashews
3/4 cup pistachios
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup chocolate chunks  (we use either Dagoba chocodrops or Enjoy Life chips/chunks)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Allow little hands to measure, dump, mix, and of course SAMPLE. Then put in containers for individual snacks or a big airtight container for the pantry.



With so many new Paleo books and cookbooks appearing on the market in the last year, I am often asked what my go-to books are. My answer almost always depends on who I am talking to. I literally have almost every book that has been published and released so far.

To lay down the basics, I usually hand over my copy of Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfillipo. I have loaned this book to many people already (in fact, its not even here now). I think she did an amazing job laying out the basics and providing a workable starting point. Its easy to read and the recipes are great. Perfect beginner book.

If the person has kids and is interested in doing family Paleo or kid stuff, my number one recommendation is Eat Like a Dinosaur by Paleo Parents. Its got tons of great recipes, but also has little tips and tricks, a story, and a food allergy guide. Perfect for families with young children. My kids actually enjoy browsing this book to look for recipes to make. Another good one is Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook by Sarah Fragoso. There are some great kid friendly recipes in there as well.

As for my favorite cookbook, Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan is fantastic. Mine is covered in food, crumpled, and stained. I use it a lot. So much so that I don’t even lend it out. God forbid I get the urge to have The Best Chicken You Ever Ate, I’d be in trouble if it weren’t here! I also really love Make it Paleo by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason. It was one of my first Paleo cookbooks (I think I preordered it before it was released) and I have made a lot of what they have in there. The recipes are simple, and the pictures are beautiful. Another must have.

There are a lot of new books coming out in the next few months, so I will be sure and check them out as well, but these are the ones I currently reach for the most. Yes, you can get a lot of recipes online but something about using an actual book makes me happy. Seeing the turned down pages and splatters shows a passion and love for food you just don’t get with an iPad or laptop.



Baby Steps

In order to make transitioning the kids to Paleo easier, I decided to focus on what would cause us to fail and work from there. What I came up with was a short list. Working from that angle, I think we have the biggest chance at success.  The biggest things (aside from my oldest being a carb-addict) that I see could trip us up are being unprepared (ie. appropriate snacks unavailable, meals last minute) and taking too big a leap and having them throw a hissy about adjusting to new stuff.  The first one is easy. Be my best girl scout (ok, I was not a girl scout–I went to like one meeting and quit).  Be prepared.  Plan, plan, plan.  Outline a meal plan for the week, prep early, and stock the car.  My kids love to snack in the car.  This is what I have been doing for myself and my husband for about 2 years.  We have a white board on the refrigerator and I plan out 5-6 meals at a time. I make sure that we have what I need on hand.  I try to stick to the days but life often gets in the way and I mix it up.  Now what I am doing (as of Jan 1) is adding the kids in the mix, making it easier on me to make meals that either all of us eat, or we eat and they get a variation of.


The other problem I foresee is me moving too fast, too soon.  Adults have trouble going from a standard diet to Paleo. I can not imagine kids would find it easy.  Still, I am a type A, need to get stuff done type gal, so I fear I could move too fast for him.  My strategy on this was to come up with goals, by month.  Realistic goals.  I spend 75% of my day in the kitchen so I put them on the refrigerator (do you sense a theme here?).  This is to keep me focused on now.  Do I want him to eat kale?  Yes.  Should I expect them to eat it immediately? No.  So for January we are keeping it simple. Get rid of gluten, talk a whole lot about food, and ditch most dairy.  Easy peasy….we have done that in the first week.  The challenge is living and maintaining this for the rest of the month so we can reach the next months plan.


I am proud to say that after 1 week, they are all doing great.  B is 8 now so he really understands how food and his body relate.  He knows what makes him feel junky.  We went to our local breakfast spot this weekend where he usually scarfs down a giant bagel and cream cheese.  I was assuming I would be up for a fight.  So before we went, I talked to him about what options would be the best choice from there and he could pick.  He had scrambled eggs, bacon, and gluten free toast.  Not an ounce of whining, complaining or negativity.   The two littles are sausage and fruit boys so they just got the usual.

Heres a pic of our pantry clean out.  The box of contraband went to the garage (and will be dropped at the local shelter).  And, of course, the new self serve snack drawer!


Some great Paleo kids snack ideas for when you are pressed for time or in the car:

Tanka Bites, baby food pouches and squeezy apple sauces, trail mix, apple chips, larabars, fruit leather