Woah, 2017. I can’t believe you are almost here!
At the writing of this blog post I’m pondering the making of new years resolutions. Are they healthy? Are they harmful? Are they something in between?
I’ve gone back and forth, but concluded that, like them or not, new year’s resolutions are a part of our culture, exciting and important motivators that can give someone the push they need to make valuable and lasting changes.
I’m not into crash dieting (or “diets” of any kind really) and I’m not into resolutions that end up making people feel worse about themselves when they fail to live up to unreasonable standards.
But health IS important, and focusing on feeling better and doing better in the new year is something admirable, after all.
So here’s my list of 5 Paleo for Women Approved New Years Resolutions!
#1 Cook More
Cooking is something I usually despise doing and avoid if I can help it. But it gets old eating canned salmon all the time.
As the new year begins, take some time to plan a daily schedule.
If you’re a detailed list maker, you’ll love it and if you’re not, you might feel caged in, but sketching out your time might show you ways you can be more efficient and leave room for home cooked meals.
Try buying books with meal and shopping plans already inside for you. Practical Paleo (find it here) is one of my favorites, because it contains meal plans for every possible variation of paleo.
There are other great books too. Stick with ones that focus on easy recipes that can be made quickly like Well Fed Weeknights (find it here). Or try books that utilize less dishes for easier cleanup like One Pot Paleo or Paleo Slow Cooker.
Cooking more will mean eating more veggies, one of the biggest indicators of a healthy lifestyle, and will cut down on the amount of rancid oil, sugar and Omega 6 you eat, making you feel healthier, improving skin and cardiovascular health, and probably helping you lose some weight.
#2 Lose Weight
Speaking of losing weight…
I might catch some flack here. You see, I believe strongly in body positivity and the body positive movement. That means I do hold firm to a belief in health at every size.
However, I also believe that weight loss can be a valuable goal for certain people.
Excessive adipose tissue does produce inflammatory responses in the body and does contribute to a range of health issues. And whether we like it or not, it IS something that we need to consider in our modern world of convenience foods and obesity related illness.
If you’ve become out of sync with your body, feel you need to lose excessive body weight (and remember that doesn’t mean you need to be stick thin!) the only real difficulty is finding a way to do it gently, positively, and with as little guilt and shame as possible.
That’s where my weight loss program, Weight Loss Unlocked comes in.
It’s designed to help you lose weight efficiently but mindfully, learning to listen to the natural signals of your body, rather than the mean girl in your head.
It can help you follow those New Years Resolutions without the fad dieting that normally goes with it. I’d suggest pairing it with a great paleo cookbook with meal plans like the ones I mentioned above.
Find Weight Loss Unlocked Here.
#3 Focus on Self-Love
While most people choose to lose weight at the beginning of the new year, it’s just as important to choose to love.
We often become our worst enemies and meanest critics, beating ourselves up and tearing ourselves down.
Disordered eating, low self-confidence, so many things stem from not loving ourselves.
To give and recieve love in the new year, we’ve got to start with healing our own hearts.
There are many, many people out there happy to help you do it.
To discover the sexy, confident woman you really are, try reading my book Sexy By Nature.
If you’ve strugged with disordered eating and are ready to take control of negative thinking, try my friend Kayla’s program Starting the Path to Recovery and Discovery here. Try reading When Food is Love (find it here), a classic for any emotional eater.
If you’re shy, perhaps try pushing yourself to do something that sounds fun but makes you a bit nervous- go out dancing or join friends at a party.
And if you’re always out to avoid being alone at home, perhaps try a night in of reflective thinking and journaling (Let it Out is a great resource) and sit with some of those emotions.
You’ll gain self-awareness and balance which we all could use in the new year!
#4 Breathe More
Breathing is something we do far too often without really thinking about it.
Most of us don’t even use the full capacity of our lungs, but only a tiny portion of them.
And breathe, just like food, is so important to life itself, and quality of life.
Improper breathing can do damage to the body just as poor food choices can.
Proper breathing, taking deep, long breaths, and long, smooth exhalations, can also be a form of meditation that has been shown to reduce stress, calm the nervous system and relax the mind.
It’s an imperative especially for those with anxiety, and may help anyone with stress-flaring conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, autoimmune conditions, and more.
With the new year, I’m vowing to remember to breathe in positivity and breathe out negativity. I hope you’ll do the same.
#5 Let Go
And as I work to breathe out negativity, I’m going to be trying my best to let go of anger, expectations, and arbitrary standards I place on myself and others.
2016 was a hard year for many and it’s easy to pick out the bad things that happened and let them stew and boil within us.
We can focus on that negativity, that anger, and let it fester.
Or we can consciously make the choice to let it go.
I don’t have a 3 step program to help you do that (though I’m sure one probably exists!) but I think we should try it nonetheless.
Let’s focus our hearts and minds on the good in 2017 and work for peace, justice, and positivity in the new year.
I will. I hope you will too.
What are your new year’s resolutions?
As much as I always loved the holidays growing up, I also always dreaded them.
I knew that along with all my favorite things — like the hugs and the carols and the twinkle lights — there would also be my greatest demons: the apple pies, the peppermint fudge, and the oatmeal raisin cookies.
(Here, by the way, are my absolute favorite paleo dessert cookbooks: Every Last Crumb: Paleo Bread and Beyond and The Paleo Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook.)
Holidays meant feasts.
For my relatives this was a great thing. They loved nothing more than sitting and delighting in each other’s company and good, hearty food.
But for me it was hell – because I was in a sea of temptations. I would always start out good. But then over time my willpower would wear down. I would have one nibble. And then another. And another.
And soon enough perhaps a whole dessert tray would be gone. I would have eaten a few pounds of sweets.
And absolutely hated myself for it.
Nowadays, however, I am so happy and relieved to report that this is no longer a problem.
Might you happen to need a little – or a lot – of help making that shift yourself?
To that end, Here are 5 helpful things I always do before the holidays:
1. Absolutely nothing different
That’s right. Nothing.
There plenty of diet and health gurus out there who will tell you that the key to “getting through the holidays” is to fast.
I tried this for several years. I kept thinking that if I starved myself before big meals, then I wouldn’t feel so guilty if I overate a little bit.
Here’s why this doesn’t work:
When you fast, two things happen to you. One is physical, and one is psychological.
Physically, your body sends you a lot of hunger signals. When you don’t eat — and especially as a woman — your body really, really wants you to eat.
Psychologically, you begin to develop feelings of deprivation. You are hungry but you can’t eat. You feel deprived. And then you may, like me and like millions of other women, start to obsess over all the things you can’t have. The cookies, the candies, the tarts, the fruit cakes….they start to haunt you.
These two things mean that, by the time the cookie trays come out, your brain and body both are super eager to eat. It will be nearly impossible to eat “normally.”
This is not your fault. It is a biological fact.
So don’t let yourself fall into this trap. Don’t let the gurus trick you. I change absolutely nothing about my eating in the days leading up to holiday parties or feasts. This has radically improved my ability to have peace of mind and enjoy them.
2. Eat whatever macronutrient ratio I want
Many diet gurus will tell you that it’s imperative to eat low carb before big feasts. The point is to maximize insulin sensitivity.
For one thing – managing insulin sensitivity is a matter of nourishing one’s gut health over a long-term period.
(Get my favorite fermented treats delivered to you by amazon on this page.)
For another, a short-term low-carb fix isn’t going to necessarily make any impactful changes.
And finally, even if there is any slight different in insulin sensitivity for a meal, it really won’t make a difference in the long run. I find it much more physically and psychologically healthy to just always focus on eating well most of the time. It’s not worth the 20% change in insulin sensitivity for a meal or a few days (if it even happens). It is much better for me too eat a whole range of macronutrients all of the time, and focus on their quality rather than on their quantity.
3. Forbid pinching and mirror nitpicking
We may all be a lot of things, but one thing none of us are is objective.
Your perception of your physique is highly influenced by your psychological context. If you’re feeling guilty, you’ll probably pinch your hips and think “wow, I’m definitely thicker than I was yesterday.” You’ll think this is real.
But there is a very good chance you will be wrong.
I positively forbid myself from doing anything of the sort. I attempt to do this in my every day life, of course. But I do get more serious about it over the holidays are special occasions.
You cannot be objective about your body. (The scale won’t be objective either.)
So just let it go. I promise your body will still be there when you get back. 😉
4. Go to the gym, or not
I exercise on a reasonably regular basis. Usually this entails dancing, but I do lift weights from time to time. All of these things are good and important and healthy. They support healthy insulin resistance, healthy brain function, and healthy bones, lungs, and hearts.
I work out during the holidays if I feel like it.
If I don’t, I don’t.
Exercise is a part of a long-term plan in life that can wax and wane based on your needs for flexibility.
Sure, you might be in a “calorie deficit” if you work out on Christmas morning… but who the hell wants to work out on Christmas morning?
It’s fine if you don’t. The world won’t end.
Nothing will happen to me, or to you, in the long run if we let ourselves be flexible over the holidays.
5. Remind myself that love and relationships are the most important things
Something that’s very interesting to me about body image and food issues is how selfish they are.
This is not to say that they aren’t very real and very important things that need to be dealt with.
But they are also very much within ourselves, within our own hearts.
Throughout my entire life, I try to remind myself that the quality of my life, my goodness in the world, and my relationships are the most important things.
My self-respect and love most certainly matters… so much… but it is much easier for me to love and embrace my body when I think about it as the vehicle in which I have the capacity to love, rather than the idol that I need to worship and prevent from being judged.
During the holidays, when I focus on loving, supporting, hugging, and laughing with the people around me, I don’t have issues around food. I don’t worry about how much eggnog I drink. Instead, I feel loving and warm.
So this is it! I hope it helps. 🙂 What do you do during the holidays to make it through feeling safe and warm?
If you’re looking for some extra emotional support over the holidays, check out two of my favorite body image and love books: Why Weight and When Food is Love, both by Geneen Roth.
If you’re looking for a self-loving way to maintain a healthy weight after the holidays, check out my guide designed to help you do just that: Weight Loss Unlocked.
Are you a paleo fanatic looking to share the joy this holiday season?
Are you married to a paleo fanatic and have no idea what to get them?
Are you looking to get started on the right foot with your diet/lifestyle choices post-Christmas?
Well, look no further!
Below are our 2016 top picks for paleo gifts: great stocking stuffers and special presents that will show you care about your friends and family’s happiness AND their health!
Gift the Gift of Grass-Fed Meat
ButcherBox is our choice for antibiotic-free, grass fed and finished beef, chicken, and pork. They’re subscription style service would make an AMAZING gift for a loved one who just can’t swing the expense of grass fed meat or for yourself!
They’ve recently committed to a few great changes including totally recyclable/biodegradable packaging and an extra pound of meat per box!
They even have chicken/pork only boxes if that’s your thang.
Find out more here
Give Snacks That Don’t Talk Back
And by talk back I mean make your stomach talk back.
I mean, what’s more embarrassing than the “I’m intolerant to this” stomach gurgle??
Avoid those moments of horror with paleo snacks that contain only the good stuff.
Stack the deck in your favor with some of these great stocking stuffers:
All My Favorite Snacks
Top Snacks for the Movies
The BEST Jerky and Fruit
Give Skin Care That Will Make You Glow (Naturally)
No weird chemical glows here.
Your skin responds just as much to diet as what products you let soak into it.
Treat it well from the inside out and the outside in with these paleo beauty products.
From deodorant (we all need it!) to face wash, toner, toothpaste and moisturizer, these beauty gifts will make your friends SWOON.
Beauty Products Roundup
Tips for Shiny, Beautiful Hair
Give the Gift of Self-Love
True beauty is more than skin deep and starts with full and total acceptance and love for ourselves!
In a hurting world what better gift to give than the gift of self love this holiday season?
My Favorite Self-Love Resources
Let it Out!
Starting the Path to Recovery and Discovery
An Introvert Night In
Sexy By Nature
Give a Great New Cookbook
What’s better for a paleo friend or someone new to paleo than the gift of a cookbook (and an accompanying dish to get them excited)?
The recipes and their cookbooks below are some of the best to come out this year!
Bacon Beef Liver Pate with Rosemary and Thyme (AIP)
Paleo Spicy Shrimp and Chorizo Soup
Paleo Carrot Cake Bars Recipe
Well Fed Weeknights
Eggplant Lasagna Recipe
Give the Gift of A New Start
Know someone battling PCOS who doesn’t know where to begin with nutrition advice?
Why not buy them PCOS Unlocked. It contains everything they need to get started on their new journey. Find it here.
Know someone who wants to lose some weight for their health but struggles with typical weight loss programs?
Weight Loss Unlocked is my unique program to help you lose weight and feel better while still loving yourself right where you are.
It promotes a mindful eating approach that does away with the guilt and shame of typical weight loss programs. Find it here.
Want more great ideas? Check out last year’s post on Gifts for Paleo Enthusiasts Here!
What paleo gifts are you giving this Christmas?
For my American friends, Thanksgiving is coming soon!
This particular season has been divisive and difficult for many.
The election left some happy, some sad, and some angry.
But Thanksgiving is a time for all of us to come together, to celebrate the uniting quality of gratitude, to spend time with those we love and who love us.
And let’s hopefully remember all that we still have to be grateful for.
The thing I love most about Thanksgiving, besides the time with family, is the delicious, amazing food and the beautiful table.
There’s something magical about it.
But as a person who carefully watches what I eat, many things like stuffing, green bean casserole, and cheesy potatoes are off limits to me.
I admit, I’ll usually make an exception for these big, important holidays.
But even still, I hate the feeling of the morning after, the sugar-gluten hangover is almost as bad as a real hangover!
Okay, sometimes it’s honestly worse!
And that’s why, when I can, I help prepare paleo-friendly Thanksgiving food.
You’d be surprised at how many options are out there to make old favorites with allergen-free ingredients.
I’ve even shared a few recipes that would be great on a Thanksgiving table. (Like this pumpkin bread for example or any of the many things on this pumpkin spice list)
Two books in particular are great for special occasions and celebration ideas: Gather: the Art of Paleo Entertaining and Celebrations.
Celebrations is by Danielle Walker from Against All Grain, an author who is highly respected for writing some of the best grain-free recipes in our world and covers a whole year of celebration food in her latest book.
It’s AMAZING. Find it on Amazon here
Gather: the Art of Paleo Entertaining is by Bill Staley and Haley Mason and sets up the art of the paleo table, making beautiful dishes that are also tasty and help you entertain well and in a way that non paleo folks will appreciate.
If any book will inspire you to cook a full on Thanksgiving feast (which you may or may not later regret!) this is the one. Find it here.
Even though normally, I’m a no-fuss person with food, on special holidays I really like to make things fun.
I love ceramic bowls and dishes because I love to display all the food family style on the table at Thanksgiving.
Something about a beautiful table makes me so happy during the Holidays!
Like, I mean, how cute would it be to have your pumpkin pie in this PUMPKIN DISH.
Or these KISSING PILGRIM SALT AND PEPPER SHAKERS
I can’t even.
No matter how you like to celebrate the holidays, there’s no reason you have the feel bad eating food you’re intolerant to.
And there’s also no reason to feel guilty if you do.
After all, if holidays aren’t the time to let loose a little and cut yourself a break, when is??
So ENJOY this time of the year, eat ALL THE FOODS, and just decide right now to wear stretchy pants for the rest of the winter.
In the meantime, I’m realizing two things.
First, I can’t wait for Thanksgiving, even if I have to spend it in London and second, I really shouldn’t write anything about food while I’m hungry.
That picture of a turkey is looking reeeeaaaal good right now.
How do you guys celebrate paleo thanksgiving?
There comes a time in each person’s life when they must decipher their own motivations.
In fact, there are probably many times we do this as we seek to learn more about ourselves and come to a greater awareness of who we are.
In the paleo community, many of us swim dangerously close to the deep waters of eating disorders.
We sometimes hide behind “healthy” food as a mechanism of control.
We sometimes fall a little too deep into our community until the world around us and the food around us begins to create deep fear.
We often worry about our waist size above all else, even our underlying health, even our relationships.
Is there a little (or big) part of you that has strayed into those deep waters?
Do you eat calories, macros or food?
Does food that isn’t “clean” or “paleo” cause you fear or anxiety?
Is being the “healthy role model” more important to you than anything else?
Is being “fat” one of your greatest fears?
Kaila Prins, an advocate for women’s health and a dear friend in the realm of disordered eating recovery, has been helping women face these issues for a long time, ever since she herself began to overcome the battle several years ago.
Her new program; Recover. Discover. Emerge. is changing the way women everywhere think about disordered eating and recovery.
The program is intended to help those suffering disordered eating, exercise, and mindset issues that are holding them back from fully reaching a place of body acceptance.
The course is intended to introduce you, in two phases, to the world beyond “recovery.”
Kaila is the perfect person to be teaching this course and I’m so excited she is finally doing it!
She has always offered up her help and advice to women when they need it most and couldn’t be a kinder, more beautiful soul.
I know you will get out of her new program something amazing.
Some of us struggle with issues of disordered eating more than others, but it’s common for those of us who need the help most to feel the most resistant to it.
Are you ready for a change?
Are you ready to uncover the beauty of the path to “discovery”?
Are you tired of beating yourself up over the way you look or the food you put into your mouth?
Recover. Discover. Emerge. will help you.
Through a series of phases, Kaila will walk you through exactly how to overcome many specific issues related to body image, disordered eating, exercise bulimia, and more.
By the end, you’ll have learned what to do to recover, but more than that, you’ll learn about the beautiful life waiting for you beyond recovery.
You’ll discover. And then you’ll emerge.
The program starts October 9th.
To learn more about this phenomenal opportunity, visit the program website for Recover. Discover. Emerge. here.
The health care system in the UK is becoming overly expensive and overly burdened, almost to a tipping point.
So now – in an effort to stay afloat – nearly a third of UK hospitals are now denying health care to patients with a BMI over 30.
These hospitals have restricted knee, hip, and other lower body replacement surgeries from obese patients and active smokers, saying that the interventions are “wasted” on the obese.
There are so many unfortunate things about this scenario. One of them, however, is in my opinion the worst of all.
It’s that they might actually be making the problem worse.
Fat shaming causes overeating.
This is something we have been saying here at Paleo for Women for a very long time (read my book on it, here).
Four years ago, I wrote a post on what I call the ‘binge-restrict’ pattern of overeating. This is what happens to people who are fat shamed.
When fat shamed, you feel guilty about your body. This motivates you to starve yourself. You “eat clean.” You do a bunch of whole 30s. You might even “feel great.”
But after a while it wears on you. You begin to obsess over what you’re restricted from. You feel hungry and irritable all of the time, perhaps. And you develop very, very, very strong cravings.
So then you ultimately (and inevitably) fall off the wagon, and overeat.
This makes you feel guilty again, so you starve yourself again. Then you develop cravings again. Then you overeat again.
And again, and again.
Restricting food intake has drastic consequences, especially with an unhealthy mindset.
This is exactly what happens with “obesity awareness”
The more that our culture shames people for the size of their bodies, the more we doubt themselves.
The more we doubt themselves, the less capable we are of making changes that focus on health instead of weight loss.
And the more we doubt ourselves, the more we hate our bodies, and resent our bodies, and therefore develop unhealthy relationships with food. We fall into binge and restrict patterns.
Here at Paleo for Women, I often talked about this phenomenon as though it was definitively true. And I did believe that it was.
But now we know more certainly that it is, and that it affects our society on a broad scale. It didn’t just happen to me. It didn’t just happen to Noelle. It didn’t just happen to you. It happens to cultures as a whole.
It is happening to the world.
With such big players like the UK and US health care systems at bat, there is a lot at stake.
This article interviews Researcher Eric Robinson regarding his study of obesity awareness. He says of obesity and the intentions behind it that:
““There is quite a substantial body of research showing it is not really very much fun being an overweight person in this climate,” said Robinson. “It is a stigmatised condition. Realising you are an overweight individual is in itself likely to be quite stressful and make making healthy choices in your lifestyle more difficult.
“It is a tricky finding for public health intervention work. You would hope that making a person aware they are overweight would result in them being more likely to change and lose some weight.”
What Robinson and others instead found is that, from a study of 14,000 adults in the US and the UK, perceiving yourself as overweight actually has the opposite effect. Thinking you are overweight doesn’t incentivize you to lose weight.
Instead, it is strongly associated with weight gain. And this is entirely independent of people’s actual size. It has everything to do, instead, with their own perceptions of themselves.
In the study, the authors write that, “Individuals who identified themselves as being ‘overweight’ were more likely to report overeating in response to stress and this predicted subsequent weight gain. These findings are in line with recent suggestions that the stress associated with being part of a stigmatised group may be detrimental to health.”
So now we know. This happens to people. It wasn’t just me. It isn’t just you. It’s all of us. It’s a part of how we work. It is basic human psychology – that we do, for any number of reasons, overeat in response to negative body image.
But what do you do about it?
You may find yourself then in a bit of a Catch 22. If you already have these feelings about yourself, what do you do?
Does this study actually help? Can it help you choose love, or self-acceptance, or weight loss for the sake of health or energy, instead of for validation?
I think that it can. It can affirm your humanity. It can provide proof for your suspicions. It can help you throw off the condemnations of people around you, and perhaps start looking for ways to stop thinking of yourself in a negative light.
You may want to sit down and think seriously about the relationship between your size and your health. “Health” is no longer a good excuse to starve one’s self. As it turns out, the relationship between health and weight is much more complex than we ever thought. It is totally possible to be healthy and to be overweight.
You may also want to think about the “health at every size” movement. Since it is possible to be healthy at any size, becoming a part of a community of people focused on living well instead of restricting food intake could be great for you. I wrote about why I love Healthy At Every Size in this post.
You may also want to consider thinking about food intake in terms of setting minimums, not maximums. In this post, I describe the way that I like to do macronutrients. Instead of saying “only 100 grams of carbs a day” or “only 50 grams of fat a day” or “no more than 1800 calories a day” I set minimums: “at least 100 grams of carbs a day,” I say. “At least 50 grams of fat.” “At least 2000 calories.”
You might also want to think about fitness in a new way. Many people do work outs because they have to, because that’s what you do in order to lose weight. But what if you engaged with fitness because it was fun…because you found an activity that makes you come alive? I talk about that a bit in this post on why I will never run a marathon.
I have provided a few of our resources in the paragraphs above that I think could be helpful for your relationship with your body fat percentage, whatever that may be. Of course it is all insufficient – our need for self-affirmation and love in this society is truly never ending. So perhaps I should just leave with this thought:
They may that you are not enough. You may sometimes feel like you are not enough. But what you are is beyond enough. You are acceptable, and then some. You are a powerful human being with a body that lives and breathes and thrives no matter how rocky your relationship has been in the past, no many how many hardships it has been through. You are a body that is strong and lovely and your home, and seriously screw any body, any resource, any lingerie company that may make you feel otherwise. You can be healthy at any size, and you deserve it as much as you might deserve anything. You deserve to be nourished more so than anything, to let food be your friend, to let your body be your friend. Your body really does love you. All you have to do is let yourself love it back.
(“Your body is a natural body with natural needs, that, when loved properly, loves you right back” is actually the “golden rule” of our community’s best-selling manifesto, Sexy by Nature. Check it out on Amazon!)