Monday, January 27, 2014

Debunk the Debunkers and listen for yourself

Last week, my dad sent me a link to an article about Michael Pollan and the Paleo diet.  He knows that I'm a big fan of BOTH, so it made sense that he'd forward this to me, and I was eager to read it.

You can read the original article here: Michael Pollan Explains What's Wrong With The Paleo Diet"- The celebrated food author dishes on how to eat well: less meat, more microbes, and cook it for yourself.".  Based on the title, you'd logically assume that this interview was just that: The Great Michael Pollan going through reasons why the "paleo diet" is wrong.  If you read the full article, you may still think that. But, if you listen to the actual interview... you see this title is completely misleading.

Click here to read original article on
(And yes, that's what all we modern paleo lifestylers look like.
So flattering.)

First, I read the article (by Cynthia Graber), and immediately sent my reactions back to my dad.  To be clear, my gripes below are with the article's framing and titling, not with Pollan's arguments.

My initial email response:

Thanks, but disappointing. Once again, another article that says it busts the paleo diet, but clearly doesn't understand it and actually does little more than agree with it.  All he's doing here is promoting his book.  
1. Modern paleo is NOT just about replicating cavemen, which is all the media keeps saying about it.  They clearly don't do their research.  
2. Ancient bread is nothing like modern bread, which is why paleo people don't eat it. Many paleo/primal leaders (see Mark's take, for one) do concede that ancient grains, if properly prepared, may be digestible and/or beneficial.
3. Paleo loves microbes!  Fermented foods are highly regarded, discussed, and eaten in the paleosphere. Remember when I made my own sauerkraut? (Edit: Also see Chris Kresser's "Become a Fermentation Ninja" post!)
4. Paleo people are not raw dieters? I don't even understand what that's doing there in an article claiming to be about paleo. It's a promotion ofCooked 
5. ... Again promoting the book. 
I just woke up so didn't listen to the podcast yet but from the article alone, I'm angry that the author titled it "Michael Pollan an busts paleo myths" instead of what it really was--"Michael Pollan busts two misguided assumptions about paleo, and makes three other points regarding how to eat well."  Authors use the word "paleo" in headlines because they know it will draw attention. 

Since listening to the full podcast episode, I stand by my initial assessment above; the author's interview with Michael Pollan was entirely about his book and research--NOT targeted at debunking the paleo lifestyle.  (As proof, he only even uses the word "paleo" ONCE in the span of 45 minutes! ARGH!!)

The interview with Pollan doesn't actually begin until minute 13:30, and continues through minute 54. I'll run through it now, quoting some of the relevant parts heavily because I want to make it clear that he's not shunning paleo as much as the article title makes it sound (in fact, it may be the opposite!).

Below, I compare Pollan's actual words to the diet he's supposedly debunking:

Monday, January 20, 2014

Block Out Blue Light at Night!

I had a lovely day off today, but now it's back to work... back to bed!

Maybe you already set a bedtime alarm or take the time to shut down before bed, but maybe you slipped back into old ways.  Maybe you have so much work to do that by the time you're done on your computer, you're ready to crash and don't have time to "unwind" before you drift off to sleep!  Does that mean you're doomed to reap the consequences of evening blue light exposure?  Not at all!  There are a few ways you can block out blue light to help you achieve a good night's sleep.

First of all, why do we care about blue light?

Our bodies know well that daylight is "awake" time, and that darkness means time to sleep and recover for the next day.

According to the Harvard Health Letter (May 2013), blue wavelengths help boost attention and reaction times (great for during the day), but also serves to powerfully suppress melatonin--the sleep hormone.  It makes sense that our melatonin would be lower during the day, when it's light and we should be active, and should be raised at night, when it's dark and not much can be done, so we can sleep and rest up for the next day's activities.

This is great, because it means we fall asleep at night when it's dark and are awake during the (blue wavelength) daylight hours.  However, this becomes a problem when our lightbulbs, televisions, computers, tablets, and phones emit strong blue light throughout the late hours of the evening and night.  These trick our body into thinking it is still day, so we should remain awake!  Thus, we become "wired", unable to sleep or experiencing poor quality of sleep when we finally hit the sack.

How can we "hack" this modern twist on blue light and orange light?  I've got a few suggestions for you:

1.  Change your screen's light!  Download a program called f.lux to have your computer screen automatically change light quality with the rising and setting of the sun.  SO cool!  At first, you'll clearly see the difference between your "regular" screen and your new orange-tinted screen, but I promise you get used to it and won't even notice the difference after a day or two.

(Personally, I've found that running the app slows down my computer.  Maybe it's just me, but, for this reason, I recently opted for Hack #2...)

2. Wear orange-tinted glasses.  I bought mine for just six dollars on Amazon.  These are easy enough to slip on while you use your electronics in the hours before bed, blocking out blue light for you.  They do make everything slightly darker, so that can be difficult, but they're great for if I'm just finishing a few things up on the computer or phone at night, knowing I want to go to bed soon after I finish.

3. Change your bulbs!  Replace a lamp or two in your bedroom with red lights to use at night.  Help yourself mellow out for bed.

4.  Use your bedtime alarm to mean SHUT DOWN and go to bed. Sorry, my last tip here is not a hack, but a simple reminder that there's no better trick than actually shutting down.  It's late.  Instead of watching TV or skimming Facebook, read a book or write in a journal.  Avoiding screens and electronics for even just an hour or two before bed can make a huge difference.

Do you have any tricks for keeping your sleep hormones regulated and ready for night?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

WIAW: Sedona

Dropping in to post a quick WIAW, documenting eats from my trip last week to Sedona, Arizona!  (Read all about our adventures here)

We didn't have a single bad meal, and I was highly impressed by the gluten-free accommodations everywhere we went!

Picazzo's, a restaurant that is some 90% gluten-free, was outstanding.  We started by sharing the "Heart Healthy Gourmet" salad, which was SO good we got it again the next day to pair with our leftovers for dinner!!

As an entree, I very much enjoyed my mushroomy-goodness rotelli:

Even my gluten-loving compadre enjoyed his buffalo chicken pasta dish!

Brunch at Red Rock Cafe with the locals was quite satisfying.

In the evening, we sampled the local wine: Kokopelli

On our hikes, I sustained my energy by munching on Quest Protein Bars:

Lunch uptown was at Wildflower Bread Company ("making up for the gluten-free dinner"), where I got a delicious Chopped Salad with Salmon!

In town, I also enjoyed a bit of fresh fudge from the Sedona Fudge Company.

Our final night in Sedona, we dined at Cucina Rustica, which came highly recommended from everyone we spoke to.  It did not disappoint!

On our way up to the Grand Canyon, we stopped in Flagstaff for lunch at a place called Mix.  It was very good, and their menu identified their soups as being gluten-free!  This was great news, because I've been glutened by restaurant soups before, so I felt good knowing it wouldn't provoke my symptoms.

On the way back down to Phoenix, we got our lunch (as well as dinner for the plane) at Paradise Bakery & Cafe, essentially a local Panera.  Both salads I got there were delish.

So there you have it!  If you ever travel to Sedona, I highly recommend all the above places.  Our dining experiences were all fantastic, with friendly waitstaff and delicious food.  (People sure are nice out there!)

That's what I ate last week and Wednesday.  Where have you dined in Sedona?

What's been on your plate?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Take an Active Vacation -- Visit Sedona!

[The winner of the recently closed book giveaway is Christy!  Congratulations!]

Where have I been?  Hiking red rocks in Sedona, Arizona!

I typically dream of tropical islands for a winter getaway, but this year I dared to visit one of America's most beautiful cities and get back to nature.

For an alternative, off-season, ACTIVE trip, I can't recommend Sedona enough.  There's endless hiking options, each trail a unique experience.  There are fine Arizona wines.  There are spas and wellness centers galore.  There is beautiful art on display in the many galleries.  There are wild off-road jeep rides.   There are stars spread across the sky, untainted by city lights.

Beautiful landscapes!

Here are some scenes from the trip:

Bell Rock and Cathedral Butte Loop

Hanging out in a little cave

Awkwardly balancing my way down the slope

Sunset view from Airport Vista

The sky was on FIRE!

Sunrise on the red rock

Pink Jeep Tour: Broken Arrow (Thank you, Hilary, for the recommendation!)

Wild ride!

Cathedral Rock

Going up

Cathedral Rock silhouette

Another night's sunset, igniting the red rock again

Hike: Doe Mesa

Demonstrating my superhuman strength

Getting Blissed In in nature!

Our picnic view

Heading back down was always the hardest part!

Oak Creek Vista

We concluded our trip by driving up to the Grand Canyona must-see!

I had such a wonderful time, and can't recommend Sedona enough! 

Dare YOU To plan an active vacation and get back to nature! 

Have you been to Sedona? 

Where's your favorite place to take an active trip?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Five Friday Favorites

Today, I bring you a hodgepodge of some things I'm loving lately:

The Calorie Myth.  I love Jonathan Bailor's message.  I know the book's tagline sounds gimmicky, but his "eat more, exercise less, but smarter" message is really important, and is supported by scientific research.  Just give it a read, or enter the giveaway to win a copy.  Giveaway ends TODAY, so enter now!

Gel polish.  Okay, I'm late to the game on this one.  My fingernails are pretty healthy and strong, so I  always avoid weakening or damaging them with any fancy acrylic/gel/fake business.  However, I recently went on a trip (recaps coming soon!), and wanted my nails to look good and stay strong for the whole week.  I hear that the new gel polish doesn't do damage to the nails if it's used only once in a while.  Really, I just didn't want to worry about my nails chipping or breaking while I was away, so I finally bit the bullet and tried getting the gel polish everyone's raving about.

And now I'm raving about it, too.  The polish stayed beautifully, and my nails did not chip at all, while I was hiking and climbing on rocks!  Now, it's TWO WEEKS LATER and my nails still look awesome.  Sure, the color has grown out a tiny bit as my nails grew, but the polish is still fresh as if it was done yesterday.  This is amazing.

(Update: I might mean Shellac, although maybe that's just one brand. Clearly a newbie.)

This doesn't mean I'm forever converted; I still prefer to leave my nails in their more natural states for most of the time.  Tomorrow, I'll go to get it removed and go back to my regular old polish (or no polish) routine.  BUT - this is a fantastic option for times when I want good-looking nails to last.

(I got OPI "Big Apple Red", but it turned out
a little 
pinkier than the strong red I thought
it was. Oh well; I'll learn.

Any.DO.  As the self-proclaimed Queen of To-Do Lists, I've sampled my share of productivity apps (only to serve as long-term lists. I still use handwritten lists for short-term to-do's).  I'd been using Clear for a while and liked how simple it was, but wanted something new for this New Year.    I downloaded a few and tried out Any.DO and fell. in. love!

It's simple enough that it can stay super simple, but also has some useful features for those who want an added layer of organization to their list.  I started writing a whole LOT about it, but decided to put that away to develop into a full post at a later date.  For now, I'll just tell you that it's one of my new favorite things!  Dare you to check it out!

Image from

The West Wing.  When I was younger, I watched various episodes here and there with my parents (who have been committed fans from the beginning of time), but I never watched it ALL, in order.  Over the summer, I decided it was time to watch it straight through, so I've since been on-again off-again watching in spurts.   I like to put it on while I'm working on other less mental tasks (although when things get serious, it demands all my attention), and I am loooooving it.  What a great show!!!! 

Bone Broth.  This cold weather is insane, but it makes me appreciate my homemade bone broth even more!  Glad one batch makes so much, so I've got plenty in the freezer, ready to defrost whenever a polar vortex strikes.


How are you keeping warm this winter?

Are you a gel polish convert?

Got any other great productivity apps I should try?

What are YOU loving lately?