Ancestralize Me With Laura Schoenfeld, MPH, RD Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:41:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 With Laura Schoenfeld, MPH, RD Ancestralize Me no With Laura Schoenfeld, MPH, RD Ancestralize Me Get Paleo Groceries And Meal Plans Delivered By Relay Foods Mon, 28 Sep 2015 12:00:12 +0000 I’ll admit, I’m not a big “meal planner”.

My general strategy for feeding myself is to just show up at the farmers market or grocery store, see whatever looks good or is on sale, and buy it. At most, my grocery shopping strategy consists of looking for veggies, starches, meat/eggs, and maybe a treat here and there if something looks good.

Being a single nutritionist, this strategy works pretty well. I don’t have to worry about making the food taste great since I’m usually only feeding myself, and I generally know what food I should be looking for to stick to a healthy-ish diet across the week.

But there are a few shortcomings to this approach.

I rarely have a cohesive plan for what I’m going to make with the food I buy. Usually it ends up that I simply sauté whatever meat and greens I’ve bought, through a few potatoes in the convection oven, and put some salt and pepper on everything so that its palatable. Sometimes I’ll get fancy with some spices, but for the most part the food I eat is pretty plain. And while there’s nothing wrong with plain, it doesn’t always leave me feeling satisfied after a meal.

And I sometimes forget to buy ingredients for any recipe that I do want to create. It’s kind of a pain to have to write down all the ingredients that you need, take your best guess for the amounts to buy, and kick yourself when you get home from the store and realize you’ve forgotten a key ingredient for a recipe.

That’s why I was so excited to try out Relay Foods - an online grocery that makes shopping for quality, healthy, and sustainable groceries simple and easy.

What Makes Relay Foods Special?

There are a few things that make Relay Foods an awesome way to shop for your food.

They have a ton of options for local, organic, and sustainable groceries, and they support small food businesses in the area. They offer free delivery of the groceries to certain drop off points in your area, or you can pay a little extra and get the groceries dropped at your door.

They also cater to a variety of dietary choices, including Paleo, gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free. Not only can you shop for individual products that fall into one of those categories, but they even have meal plans that you can shop from. That’s one of the strategies I used when I tested out their service.

Get healthy, local #Paleo and #glutenfree groceries delivered to your door with @RelayFoods!
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Another awesome service they offer is something called “Cook It”, an app for Google Chrome that allows you to find any recipe online and pull the ingredients from it to put into your shopping cart. It’s a really cool app and I used it for two of the recipes I prepared when testing the service.

Here’s a little video explaining how it works:

My Experience Shopping with Relay Foods

I decided to pick my groceries up from the drop off point at Nickelpoint Brewery in Five Points, a neighborhood near downtown Raleigh.

I chose my foods using a combination of the available Paleo meal plans on the Relay Foods website, as well as using the Cook It app for a few recipes I got off Juli Bauer’s website PaleOMG.

The pick up process was super quick and easy. Since everything was paid for ahead of time, I simply walked up to the truck, told them my name, and was handed a few bags full of my chosen groceries.

Doing my first ever @relayfoods pick up tonight! #groceryshopping #eatlocal

A photo posted by Laura (@laura.schoenfeld) on

After I brought my groceries home, I did a little inventory check to make sure I got everything. The cost of my groceries was just over $100, and I got enough food for at least 8 full meals plus 2 dozen eggs for breakfast. (Fun fact – one of these dozen eggs actually came from Polyface Farm!)

Admittedly, it didn’t seem like a ton of food when I opened everything up, but to be fair I usually go a little buck wild at Whole Foods, so I’m just not used to seeing such a normal grocery haul.

I put all my food away and a few days later started experimenting with the recipes.

Using Recipes At Relay Foods

When you order your groceries from Relay Foods using a meal plan or recipe from the Cook It app, they send you an email with the recipes of the meals that you shopped from.

This was really helpful for me to stay organized with the recipes I was planning to use the ingredients for, and made it easy to figure out which ingredients needed to go for which recipes.

One thing I recommend doing is double checking that there aren’t any ingredients that are needed by two different recipes before starting cooking. I accidentally used all my green onions for the sweet potato and chorizo pasta I made, leaving none for the bison stuffed zucchini. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it might have been had the ingredient been more pivotal to the success of the recipe.

I cooked four different recipes over the course of the week, and since nearly all of them were designed for 4 people, I was pleased to have plenty of leftovers throughout the week.

This meant that instead of eating whatever random food I could find in my fridge for lunches during the week, I had tasty home cooked meals available to quickly reheat for lunch.

Here are the recipes I created (and enjoyed!) throughout the week:

Another great @relayfoods recipe. This is bison stuffed zucchini. #paleo #lowcarb #relayfoods #mealplan

A photo posted by Laura (@laura.schoenfeld) on

All of the food was really tasty, and I served some of the lower carb dishes with sides like white rice and homemade mashed potato.

Despite the fact that I almost never use recipes, it was kind of nice to have a more cohesive food plan than I’m used to having. And the Cook It app certainly made using the bazillions of Paleo recipes online WAY easier.

Plus, their customer service department is amazeballs – if you’re unhappy with the groceries for any reason, they’ll give you a refund. So you don’t have to worry about paying good money for wilted lettuce or spoiled dairy products.

Ready To Try Relay Foods?

If you live near Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC, Washington D.C., Baltimore, MD, or Richmond/Charlottesville, VA,  and you decide you want to test out Relay Foods for yourself, USE THIS LINK, to get $30 off your first order of $50 or more.

And trust me, you won’t have any trouble finding $50 worth of healthy, local groceries to have delivered.

I’ll definitely be using Relay Foods a lot in the future. They may just have broken me of my “no meal planning” habits!

BONUS OFFER: You can use Relay Foods to help you shop for the ingredients on the meal plans created by Prep Dish, a Paleo and gluten-free meal planning service. And if you use this link, you can get your first month of weekly meal plans for only $4.

Combining Prep Dish and Relay Foods is a fantastic way to make a healthy and delicious diet a no-brainer.

Have you tried out the service(s) yet? Share your experience in the comments below!

FTC Disclosure: Relay Foods provided me with a $100 gift certificate to test their services. If you use the links provided in this article to order groceries through Relay Foods and get $30 off your first order, I will also receive a $30 credit for the service. Using these links will infer no extra cost to you, and helps support my blogging activities (and helps feed me in this case!) I do not promote products that I wouldn’t use myself.

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A Paleo Rehab Success Story Mon, 14 Sep 2015 20:40:02 +0000 ThinkstockPhotos-521268649

I love health success stories. Who doesn’t?

Many of the “Before and After” stories we see online are related to weight loss. Getting that bikini shot after losing 50 pounds is fine and all, but I find the stories about overcoming chronic illness far more inspiring.

That’s why I’m stoked to share one of my student’s testimonials about her experience going through the Paleo Rehab: Adrenal Fatigue program.

Leslie* contacted me after I asked the Paleo Rehab group to share their personal health journey related to their identification of HPA axis dysregulation (AKA “adrenal fatigue“) and the health improvements they had after implementing the recommendations from the program.

When Leslie told me our program “saved her life”, I had to find out more. Even I was in disbelief that our program could help someone achieve that level of health success from Paleo Rehab.

How could our online program have saved someone’s life?

Leslie was kind enough to share her story publicly, for which I’m so grateful. I hope her experience gives you hope and confidence that you too can find the root of your health problems and begin overcoming them today.

Thank you for your story Leslie! <3

*Name has been changed for privacy.

Leslie’s Story

Three years ago my health changed overnight, and my life went on hold.

I would wake up every night around 1am with internal tremors in my neck, back and abdomen. They became progressively stronger throughout the night and I couldn’t sleep – sometimes for days at a time. They felt like I was having a seizure but I wasn’t. Occasionally the symptoms would happen during the day but for the most part it was at night. The conventional doctor initially thought it was a vitamin deficiency but I didn’t improve with supplementation.

Months passed living with these symptoms. The sleep deprivation was debilitating. I couldn’t understand why it was happening every night at the same time. The doctor thought it was stress and the only stress I had was from not knowing what was wrong with me.

I thought my symptoms might be spine related so I went to see a Chiropractor and he was the first one to suggest “adrenal fatigue.”  He suggested I purchase Dr. Wilson’s book but when I read it the symptoms didn’t sound like mine, at the time, so I didn’t give it any more thought.  Over the years I forgot about it.

Next I tried Osteopathy treatments for two years and I was told that I have a nervous system imbalance and could be fixed with osteopathy and acupuncture but it would take time. I was willing to give it time and went for treatment twice a week but there was no improvement.  During this time I decided to see a Naturopath and when I described my symptoms he looked at me with a little smile and said nothing. He offered no possible explanation.

I went back to the conventional doctor who prescribed an MRI – the results were normal.  Then I had blood tests, x-rays and ultrasounds to rule out other conditions – they were normal. He thought the symptoms were probably menopausal and said that I am lucky because women who have hot flashes suffer more.  My condition was not considered as bad as hot flashes.  Basically, in a polite way, I was told to suck it up.  I didn’t know where to turn to for help. It was a terrible feeling to know that something was wrong and I didn’t know where to go for help.

I felt abandoned and alone.

I decided to try another Naturopath who said my symptoms were due to an underactive thyroid.  After a few months on thyroid supplementation there was no improvement and I was feeling worse with additional symptoms – severe muscular pain every morning for 2 to 3 hours, low blood sugar and lack of energy – almost bedridden. With each appointment I complained about them and one day she realized it was low cortisol, which she called Adrenal Fatigue.  She gave me an adrenal supplement but the other ingredients in this supplement didn’t agree with me and I had to stop taking it.

She offered little help with my diet even though she had a nutritional background.  When I explained that I was having a very difficult time controlling sugar levels and that I was eating almost every hour and a half during the day and several times throughout the night she gave me another supplement to balance sugar levels but it didn’t work.

Desperate for answers I went to see an endocrinologist wondering if it really could be menopausal.  The endocrinologist said that I didn’t have an adrenal problem, that there is no precursor to Addison’s disease, that I didn’t have a blood sugar problem, and that what I have is a result of a stressful life. He said that those who have had a stressful life will have “one heck of a time when they reach menopause”.  He recommended hormone replacement therapy to get me over the hump for the next two years but I refused to take it because of the bad side effects. I didn’t need any more ailments to deal with.

During the day I tried to get some sleep. I was lucky if I got an hour or two.  Any vitamins I tried to take made me severely dizzy for hours or made my hands tremble.  Walking across the room felt like I was going to drop to the ground from severe exhaustion and not only physical exhaustion but I felt an internal exhaustion like I was crumbling on the inside. All I wanted to do was stay in bed and rest.

Every night I was in survival mode.  Eat or pass out. 

Hungry or not I had to eat to keep my sugar levels up and most of the time – actually all of the time – I was not hungry at all and had to force the food down.  Eating several times during the night never gave me a restful sleep and I kept my husband awake too.  I had to get up so frequently that it would wake him.  Sometimes the sugar levels were so low that I’d be trembling and crying from fear and frustration. He’d get up to sit with me in the kitchen until my body absorbed the food and the symptoms settled down.  That was a regular event.  He was worried about my health, which then started to affect his.

When I heard about the Paleo Rehab program I joined hoping that I could, at the very least, learn one or two things that would help me feel a bit better.

This program gave me much more than that. I am on my way to being normal again.

After joining this program I made some diet changes: I increased protein, carb, fat and fiber intake in the recommended ratios.  I ate super foods, such as liver, and my muscular pain improved within a week while stabilizing my blood sugar.  To eliminate the muscle pain completely I increased soluble fiber and over a two-week period it worked – the pain is gone!  I’ve been pain-free for 6 weeks now and my blood sugar is stable.  I used to eat 8 meals a day plus 1 to 3 snacks throughout the night and now I am down to 5 meals and the occasional bedtime snack if I don’t eat enough calories during the day.

I can finally sleep through the night. Finally. No more tremors. Adding meditation and a few, easy lifestyle changes to my daily routine has helped a lot too.

I am also working one-on-one with Kelsey Marksteiner on individualized supplementation due to other health conditions that need attention. After 2 weeks of starting the new supplementation my blood sugar problems feel almost non-existent – the best they’ve ever been.  I know the sugar problem is there and I am in the healing stages so I won’t do anything crazy like go on a restrictive diet and act like it’s not a problem.  I know the problem is still there, but it does feel like it’s getting back to normal.

I am healing.

My energy level is still low but I am confident that it will improve as well.  I know what and how much to eat to get and keep myself healthy. Today I understand that the tremors I had were caused from adrenaline peaks occurring around 1am and lowering blood sugar levels.   Cortisol is supposed to kick in to raise it but mine never did and my sugar levels remained low.  I was miserable every day from sleep deprivation, exhaustion and pain.  I stopped driving because I was afraid I’d fall asleep at the wheel.

Once I started sleeping through the night I was in a better mood – happier – and I could go out and do the things I used to do. My husband is so happy to see me getting back to normal – and so am I.

Would you believe that I had spent close to $10,000 on healthcare practitioners with nothing to show for it?  

It’s hard to enjoy life when you don’t feel well and I was not going to give up on finding someone who could help me. I am so happy that I found the Paleo Rehab program.  The amount and the quality of the material are impressive and it is obvious how much time – and love – was put into it.  It is more than I ever expected.

Laura and Kelsey – you saved my life.

Yes, that is exactly how I feel and I am not ashamed to say it even though it may sound exaggerated.  What I went through was horrible and only my husband knows the extent because he was there to witness it.

You helped me when no one else could and I don’t know where I’d be without you.   

Thank. You. So. Much.

- Leslie

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10 Steps To Regulate Your Period Without Birth Control Tue, 08 Sep 2015 15:10:37 +0000 ThinkstockPhotos-464200729

This post appears in its entirety at

Having a healthy, normal period is incredibly important for long-term health in women.

While some women believe that having a monthly period is an inconvenience or annoyance, an irregular or absent period, or one with severe symptoms, is a sure sign that there’s something else going wrong in the body.

That’s why addressing the root cause of the menstrual dysfunction is often preferable to immediately starting hormonal birth control as a quick fix. While hormonal replacement has its place in supporting women’s health, many doctors are too quick to prescribe birth control to women whose cycle issues could potentially be solved by a change in diet and lifestyle.

Having period trouble? Here are 10 tips by @AncestralizeMe to fix your cycle before going on birth…
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In the United States, 30 to 40 percent of the reproductive female population experience pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), and as many as 15 to 20 percent of women have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). At least 4 percent of US women have secondary amenorrhea: a lack of menses for at least six months in a woman who was previously menstruating.

These stats would suggest that nearly a third of women have some level of menstrual dysfunction. I’d bet that most of you ladies reading this article have experienced some disruption in your cycle at some time in your life. (I know I have!)

Fortunately, hormonal disorders like amenorrhea and PCOS are not only manageable using diet and lifestyle changes, but even reversible in most cases.

These hormonal imbalances are almost always caused by one or more of the following:

  • blood sugar abnormalities
  • HPA axis dysfunction (“adrenal fatigue syndrome”)
  • gut disorders
  • impaired liver function/detoxification

In this article, you’ll learn the 10 most important diet and lifestyle factors affecting your hormonal function. Keep reading for my easy-to-implement tips for making changes that put you on the path to a healthy menstrual cycle.


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Is Adrenal Fatigue Real? Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:00:41 +0000 ThinkstockPhotos-477643628

After writing a guest post for Jen Sinkler, I was somewhat embroiled in a heated discussion about whether or not “adrenal fatigue” really exists.

The argument from the most reasonable critic was this:

Adrenal fatigue is not a real condition. We need to stop perpetuating this term. Here is the problem: You’re tired and someone says you have adrenal fatigue. You take one of those bull— salivary diurnal cortisol tests that you ordered online. You get the results and it says you have adrenal fatigue. OR someone just diagnoses you with adrenal fatigue. All of a sudden you possibly missed a potential real diagnosis (anemia, hypothyroidism, sleep apnea, etc) and you just labeled it with a made of up diagnosis. This is super dangerous and why we cannot go around discussing fake diseases.

I understand what this critic is saying, and to an extent I agree with it. If people are being diagnosed with “adrenal fatigue” when they actually have something more insidious going on, they’ll be in trouble if all they do is take a saliva test, change their diet and lifestyle, and take a handful of supplements.

However, the majority (if not all) of my “adrenal fatigue” clients have already gone to their doctor for help, and after rigorous but inconclusive/negative testing are told “you’re fine” and are often prescribed an antidepressant or Ambien.

The short answer to the question in my headline? No.

“Adrenal fatigue” is not a real diagnosis. But I strongly believe that the condition the term is describing is very much real.

Ever been told adrenal fatigue isn’t real? @AncestralizeMe sets the record straight.
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What is Adrenal Fatigue, anyway?

“Adrenal fatigue” is a misnomer – a colloquial term for HPA Axis Dysregulation, which itself is not a “clinical diagnosis” (yet) but certainly exists in the literature and is associated with chronic stressors like overtraining, PTSD, and sleep disruption.

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) is the control center for your body’s stress response. When you get stressed, the concentrations of your HPA axis hormones are increased. The hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which is the first of a cascade of hormonal changes that eventually result in the production of cortisol (the “stress hormone”) from the adrenal glands. Elevated cortisol levels direct the distribution of energy to different organs that underlie the stress response, such as the brain, heart, and muscles. This is a normal response and is something your body was designed to do.

Screenshot 2015-08-27 14.52.33

Image Source: Tsigos & Chrousos, 2002

As you can see in the diagram above, the HPA axis has several feedback loops that allow the body to normalize the production of stress hormones such as cortisol.

This prevents your body from becoming overstimulated by a source of stress that is more chronic in nature. This process is called “habituation”, where the body is able to decrease its physiological activation to certain stressors. (1) You might also call this adaptation. It’s normal and healthy, and prevents the negative side effects of chronic HPA activation.

However, certain people are unable to properly habituate to the daily stress they face, particularly if the stress is much more significant than simply a traffic jam on the way to work. Think of stressors like an abusive relationship, a sick family member, or serious financial strain. (I’d consider chronic malnourishment or overtraining at this same level from a physical stress perspective.)

What happens when the HPA Axis gets dysfunctional?

When the HPA axis is no longer able to adapt to daily stressors appropriately, this is when the symptoms of “adrenal fatigue” become an issue.

The typical pattern of adrenal dysfunction is a high level of cortisol to start, then a drop to low cortisol, though some stressful events are traumatic enough to send the HPA axis straight into low cortisol output. Some people also experience a reversal of the circadian rhythm of cortisol output, where their cortisol is low in the morning and high in the evening.

The adrenals don’t get “fatigued” – they eventually produce less cortisol over time as the hypothalamus stops stimulating them appropriately. (Fun fact: This is why many people say “adrenal fatigue” doesn’t exist. Because the name sucks.)

Any level of cortisol disturbance due to chronic HPA axis activation falls into the umbrella term of “adrenal fatigue”. Failure of the HPA axis to respond appropriately to acute stress is another cause of symptoms. Those with HPA axis dysregulation typically have developed a new “normal” of steady state low or high cortisol, and depending on which state they fall into, different symptoms can emerge.

These symptoms can include:

  • Weight gain or loss
  • Frequent illness (e.g. colds, flus)
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Lightheadedness
  • Poor memory
  • Fatigue, lethargy and exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Coffee addiction
  • Salt, sugar, and fatty food cravings
  • Worsened PMS
  • Pain in the upper back or neck
  • Mild depression
  • Food allergies
  • Dry and thin skin
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Low body temperature
  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Unexplained hair loss
  • Alternating constipation and diarrhea
  • Heartburn or dyspepsia

One argument from adrenal fatigue critics is that the symptoms list is too diverse and could be related to any number of diagnosable conditions. While this is true, that doesn’t invalidate the fact that chronic HPA axis activation and subsequent dysfunction can cause those symptoms in many individuals as well. These may seem like highly variable, nonspecific symptoms, but that doesn’t mean they’re not primarily due to stress.

In scientific literature, failure of the HPA axis to habituate to chronic stress is associated with a wide range of physical and mental health outcomes, including exhaustion, depression, anxiety, low self esteem, and central fat accumulation (2, 3, 4) High steady state cortisol is often seen in PTSD, where low steady state cortisol is seen in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). (5, 6)

What’s worse, HPA axis dysfunction can affect the regulation of immune and inflammatory processes, which can influence the risk of infectious disease, autoimmunity, heart disease, and even some cancers. (7)

Your ability to respond and adapt appropriately to stress will significantly affect how your body responds to chronic stressors over time. If your body stops responding appropriately, your risk of these conditions rises substantially.

Why do some people react to stress worse than others?

It’s important to realize that not everyone responds and adapts to similar stressors the same way. For example, research shows that people who are prone to “rumination” (i.e. overthinking and focusing on past stressors) have a reduced ability to adapt to repeated stress. (8) Just one night of sleep deprivation has been shown to impact the body’s ability to adapt to stress as well. (9)

This would indicate that certain personality types and/or lifestyle factors may put someone at higher risk for HPA axis dysregulation. And it would explain why certain people seem to be fine when exposed to regular intense stress (professional athletes, military personnel, etc.) while others develop HPA axis dysfunction from seemingly “normal” stress (e.g. doing Crossfit 5 days a week while eating a low calorie diet and sleeping 6 hours a night.)

For those of you suffering from adrenal fatigue syndrome, I’m sure this resonates with you deeply.

Why is it that you can eat a “healthy” diet and exercise regularly, but have crushing fatigue, while your friends or family might eat junk and sit around all day and feel completely fine?

All of us have different levels of response to the same stressors and a lifestyle that might cause HPA axis dysfunction in you might be completely manageable for a friend. That’s why individualization is key when recovering from HPA axis related disorders.

So, is adrenal fatigue “real”?

As you can see, “adrenal fatigue” is not a recognized medical diagnosis, and the term is misrepresenting the processes happening in your body when you are unable to adapt to chronic stress.

However, that doesn’t mean the condition isn’t real.

HPA axis dysregulation is very much a real condition, and it’s important to recognize the importance of healthy lifestyle changes to reduce or eliminate the symptoms associated with chronic HPA axis dysregulation.

If you’ve been to the doctor for any of the symptoms I listed above, gone through multiple diagnostic tests, and have found nothing, you need to take a closer look at your diet and lifestyle  and identify if you’re engaging in behaviors that are causing your body to be under constant stress.

This is an extremely common issue in the Paleo community, particularly for women. I see it all the time with my one-on-one clients – people eating way too little for the amount of exercise their doing, and experiencing severe hormonal disturbances from the HPA axis disruption.

Just look at the experiences Joanna and Ivy had:

Screenshot 2015-08-27 08.48.18

Screenshot 2015-08-27 19.59.05

It frustrates me that there are so many people out there who are harming their HPA axis function in the pursuit of better health and fitness, and when they finally see their doctors about the symptoms, most docs don’t think to look at the person’s diet and lifestyle as a potential cause.

You may be aware that I co-created a program for healing from adrenal fatigue and HPA axis disorders called “Paleo Rehab: Adrenal Fatigue.” Part of my motivation for writing this post is to reassure my readers that our program works because it addresses the underlying root causes of HPA axis dysfunction.

I’m about to give you a deeper look into the program, which will demonstrate what makes our program different than the typical adrenal fatigue program that throws a ton of supplements and a restrictive diet at you.

Why did we create Paleo Rehab: Adrenal Fatigue?

Both Kelsey (my business partner) and I have struggled with hormonal issues related to stress, including low cortisol, and that’s why we’re passionate about helping people who are in a similar condition.

In no way would we ever consider what we’re doing “diagnosing and treating” anything. We’re just trying to help people who are driving themselves into the ground with restrictive dieting, overexercising, high levels of stress, and poor sleep.

The reason we created the program is because we had so many clients coming to us on these restrictive diets and 8 million supplements, and the biggest issue was their inadequate diet and overly stressful lifestyle. So we figured we’d create a program to teach the basics to a wider audience.

Most of our students are the ones who went to their doctor(s) for help and were told that there was “nothing wrong with them”. Sure, from a medical perspective there may be nothing treatable, but from a lifestyle perspective there is a huge room for improvement, especially in the psychological part that many of our clients struggle with most prominently.

Ultimately our ideal client is the person with disputed HPA axis function due to their high stress diet and lifestyle choices, and we help them address those basic issues in detail.

For those critics saying that Kelsey and I are using a “made up term” to dupe people into buying a bogus program, I have two things to say. First of all, we’re helping people address HPA axis dysfunction in the program, and if you want to call it that instead, by all means – do it.

But that leads me to my second point: had we called the program “Healing from HPA Axis Dysregulation”, I can guarantee NO ONE would have bought it. Just look at this Google trends analysis for the term “adrenal fatigue” versus “HPA axis”.

Screenshot 2015-08-27 16.27.49

Which name would YOU choose to use for marketing?

While we’re not master marketers trying to manipulate people into buying our program, we’re also not stupid. We had to use the term “adrenal fatigue” because had we not, 95% of our ideal customer base wouldn’t have even known the program was something they’d benefit from.

It’s unfortunate that the term “adrenal fatigue” is so controversial and we wish we could use the scientific term, but it’s kind of like putting toothpaste back in the tube at this point. That’s why we chose to just use the layman’s term and then educate people once they bought the program.

And I bet the term is going to stick around until medical professionals start diagnosing people with HPA Axis Dysfunction, which I doubt is going to happen anytime soon.

When it comes to Paleo Rehab: Adrenal Fatigue, Kelsey and I are really proud of the information and guidance we provide, and the results our students have gotten. I won’t apologize for using a controversial term if it allows me to help the people who need it.

What do our students learn?

Our first lesson of the Paleo Rehab: Adrenal Fatigue program is explaining why the term “adrenal fatigue” is inaccurate, and clarifying what HPA axis dysregulation is. We describe how cortisol can become high or low, or even inverted, and how the hypothalamus is really what is in charge of adjusting the cortisol output in response to the demands (i.e. stress) on the body.

We teach this first so that people don’t misunderstand what might be going on if their diurnal cortisol is not following the normal pattern.

The rest of the program is focused on helping people make diet and lifestyle changes to remove the most common sources of stress they’re facing. Our audience is primarily people who have been on a Paleo diet, which tends to be very low carb, and many of them have combined this with high intensity training that usually demands a high carbohydrate load (e.g. Crossfit).

Our diet recommendations are a 20% protein, 30% carbohydrate, and 50% fat diet to start out with, and we help people identify their ideal calorie intake based on their height/weight/gender/activity levels. The bulk of our students are shocked to learn that they are significantly under-eating in both calories and carbohydrates.

We provide meal plans to help them get started with eating a more calorically-appropriate diet. This may be the most important part of the program for most of our students.

There are optional supplements based on the person’s test results. We included this because many people will just buy any supplement recommended for adrenal function regardless of whether their cortisol is measured as high or low, and sometimes those supplements do more harm than good.

Our lifestyle recommendations focus on appropriate training or the cessation of exercise until symptoms improve, regular stress management practices like yoga and meditation, and improving sleep hygiene and circadian rhythm entrainment.

We even have a module on disordered eating, orthorexia, and body image issues – something I see all the time in my clients with HPA axis issues. We have a Facebook community where people are supporting each other with making changes to the way they view their bodies and to help them loosen up with unnecessary dietary restrictions.

Of course throughout the program we remind people to work with a physician or mental health professional while making the adjustments we recommend.

Interested in learning more about Paleo Rehab: Adrenal Fatigue? Click the link to get our free eBook and see what the program is all about.

If you believe your health issues are being caused or exacerbated by a stressful lifestyle, marked by inadequate food intake, excessive exercise, poor sleep, a lack of stress management, and/or disordered eating and body image issues, I encourage you to check out the program for a step-by-step guide to building a lifestyle that supports your HPA axis and adrenal function.

What do YOU think about adrenal fatigue?

I’d love to hear your thoughts – do you think adrenal fatigue is real? Do you think HPA axis dysregulation is real? Have you made any diet or lifestyle changes that improved or eliminated your adrenal fatigue symptoms?

Share your story in the comments below!

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Recipe: Paleo Crab Cakes (Gluten-Free) Fri, 21 Aug 2015 19:31:06 +0000 IMG_2034

This is a recipe by Priscilla Cooks. You can find the original post at her website here.

Are you interested in having healthy and delicious meals prepared by Priscilla in your home? Priscilla Cooks is expanding her availability to take on more clients in September and October. If you’re interested in securing a spot for her weekly personal chef service, please contact Priscilla to reserve your spot!

I love re-creating meals for clients that remind them of food they grew up with or used to eat before switching to a gluten-free or grain-free diet. One of those foods is crab cakes. These crab cakes have a golden & crispy center, while maintaining a soft and flavorful interior.

Before I get into the recipe, we need to talk crab meat. You can buy a number of different types of crab meat. In general, there are four varieties – jumbo lump, lump, backfin, and claw. For crab cakes, I recommend either lump or backfin meat (and be easier on your wallet than jumbo lump). I’ve tried out three or four brands of lump & backfin meart, and each one has a slightly different amount of moisture to them. Due to the water content, you may need to adjust the amount of binder in the recipe slightly.

I’m making these #Paleo Crab Cakes tonight!
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If you are in the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham) area, you should check out LoMo Market, a mobile farmer’s market which brings local produce, meat, and seafood to your neighborhood or office. This is where I get my crab meat from. They supply seafood from Locals Seafood, which picks up fresh seafood from the NC coast multiple times per week.

On to the recipe! This recipe has two variations – with and without mayonnaise. These cakes are great on their own, but would be tasty with a sriracha mayo or remoulade. I usually serve them with roasted potato wedges.

Paleo Crab Cakes

Number of servings: 4

Per Serving 347 calories

Fat 28 g

Carbs 8 g

Protein 18 g


Paleo Crab Cakes


  • 1 cup + 1 Tbsp. lump or backfin crab meat (pack meat into measuring cup)
  • 1 cup Almond meal + 1-2 additional Tablespoons if needed (I ground my own almond meal)
  • 1-2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tsp. Old Bay Seasoning (alternatively, use 1 tsp. celery powder + 1 tsp. paprika)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions
  • ¼ cup diced celery
  • 2 Tbsp. minced red bell pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice + 1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or 4 heaping tsp. Mayonnaise + 1 tsp. Lemon Juice)
  • 2 eggs
  • - 2 Tbsp. butter, for cooking (more if you choose)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix crab, almond meal, and chopped veggies together in a large bowl until well incorporated.
  3. Add mustard, seasonings (except the salt), and mayonnaise or lemon/olive oil combo and mix.
  4. At this point, add salt. I added ½ tsp., but you may need more or less depending upon the type of crab you use.
  5. Taste prior to adding eggs. Feel free to add more Old Bay, or some cayenne if you want to kick up the heat.
  6. Crack both eggs and stir until well mixed and set aside for 1-2 minutes. This allows the almond meal to absorb some of the liquid.
  7. Give the batter a quick mix and check its consistency. You will want a somewhat stiff mixture that doesn’t move around too much when you push it over to one side of the bowl. If it seems too soupy or that it won’t hold it’s shape, add the additional almond meal slowly until you get the proper consistency.
  8. Melt 1-2 Tbsp. of the butter in a stainless pan over medium heat.
  9. When the butter is melted and begins to bubble, slowly add batter to the pan. I suggest making crab cakes approximately 2 inches in diameter, otherwise they may take too long to cook, or be difficult to flip. Each crab cake should look like a small mound of batter in the pan. I recommend making 4-6 crab cakes to start, and then you will probably have enough batter to make another 4-6.
  10. At this point, reduce the heat to medium-low, and help the crab cakes keep their shape with two metal spoons. By moving the spoons around each crab cake, keep them fluffy and keep the edges tight so pieces of crab don’t fall out.
  11. After approximately 3-5 minutes (or until the underside of the crab cake begins to brown), it’s time to flip. This is a crucial step to make sure your cakes stay together, so please read it before flipping.
  12. Using a metal spatula, firmly move the spatula around the outside of the underside of the crab cake, but don’t get the spatula completely under it yet. If the crab cake looks like it’s going to fall apart, shape it and pack the sides in a little with a couple of spoons or the edge of the spatula. You might have to do this a couple of times.
  13. After freeing up the outside edges, get the spatula underneath the crab cake, and then release it back to the pan.
  14. Tilt the pan towards the crab cake you will be flipping so that the melted butter surrounds the crab cake. Position your spatula under the crab cake and lift it slightly. Then carefully flip the crab cake into the melted butter. Doing this ensures that the other side of the crab cake will have enough butter to cook in that it won’t stick.
  15. Repeat step 10 with the remainder of the crab cakes, and cook for 2 minutes.
  16. Move pan to the oven and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until crab cakes are fully cooked.
  17. Remove pan from oven and let cool before moving crab cakes to a plate.
  18. Repeat above steps for the rest of the batter.
  19. Top with chopped green onion, a dash of old bay, and a squeeze of lemon juice!

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5 Reasons You Should Hire A Coach Thu, 11 Jun 2015 12:42:17 +0000 ThinkstockPhotos-497345121

Hiring a coach can be a big decision, and a big investment.

And sometimes even those of us who teach and motivate others for a living need our own coach!

For the past month or so, I’ve been doing 1-on-1 training sessions at Capital Strength and Conditioning in Raleigh, NC.

Three times a week, my coach (and CS&C owner) Matt directs me through an hour of mobility, strength work, and some high intensity MetCon type work.

I’m working hard and getting good strength gains, while avoiding injury and burnout. It’s been insanely helpful for me as I’m getting back into a more serious fitness routine after a year of new-business stress, major life changes, and a car accident in January that really set me back in my overall athleticism and body composition.

Before starting with strength coaching, I was feeling frustrated and de-motivated at the gym as exercises that once felt easy and fun were suddenly difficult and uncomfortable. After a few weeks of frustration and irritation, I decided that if I was going to take my fitness seriously, it was time to get help.

Joining Capital S&C was a big investment for me – it’s the most I’ve ever spent on any fitness pursuits. I’ll admit, I was nervous at first to spend the money. But as time goes on I couldn’t be happier that I made the commitment.

Not only am I feeling more energized and capable of running a business, but I’m also becoming a better coach myself as I learn what it feels like to be on the other side of a coach-client relationship.

I find myself looking forward to my training sessions in advance, and enjoying the feeling of steady, sustainable progress.

And I’ve got to admit, it’s nice to be told what to do for once, instead of having to make every decision myself! (All my entrepreneur friends know what I’m talking about!)

If you’ve been considering hiring a “coach” – whether that be a personal trainer, nutritionist, or even a business coach – but aren’t sure if you should take the plunge, here are my top 5 reasons why investing in a pro to help you reach your goals is totally worth the money.

Struggling with reaching your health goals? Here are 5 reasons you should hire a coach!
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When you’re first starting out with a big life change, whether that be a workout routine, a new diet, or a meditation practice, sometimes the hardest part is sticking to the changes for more than a couple of weeks.

This is why short-term challenges are so popular. It’s easy to stick to a healthy diet or exercise program for 30 days. But what about after those 30 days?

While some people are great at self-motivating, others need a little more of a push from someone who cares about their success. That’s why in the group programs I work in, such as 14Four or Paleo Rehab, we always suggest finding an accountability partner to help you stay motivated when your intentions about eating whole foods and exercising regularly start turning to a desire for a doughnut-and-Netflix binge.

Having a friend or family member as an accountability partner is a great inexpensive way to stay motivated as you work on changing your lifestyle habits. But it can be awkward to rely too heavily on someone who doesn’t necessarily have the time or expertise to help you stay on track in a meaningful way.

Sometimes it can even strain your relationship if you’re always talking to that person about your personal goals and achievements, or asking them for advice. (Nobody appreciates a one-sided relationship!)

That’s why hiring a coach is a great option. Sure, you’re paying them to help you, but any coach worth her salt is going to actually care about your ability to achieve your goals.

As a nutritionist, I love celebrating my clients’ successes, and helping them stay positive after an off-the-rails experience.

And as a training client, I love knowing that every time I walk into the gym, my coach is there waiting for me with my workout plan ready to go. I actually get excited about going to work out.

When you hire a coach, you may even find yourself making better decisions on a daily basis. Not because you want to “please” your coach, but because you want to make your investment “worth it” by making better choices in your diet, movement, and even your stress management or financial practices. (More on that later.)

It’s easier for me to forgo a nightly glass of wine or cook a healthy meal at home instead of eating out when I understand how these decisions will affect my training outcomes.

When you’re accountable to someone you speak with regularly, it’s so much easier to stay motivated and make the right choices on a daily basis.


Many times, we’re our own worst critics, needlessly picking apart everything we do and assuming that our behavior or abilities are far worse than they actually are.

Other times, we turn a blind eye to something we know we should or shouldn’t be doing, and our bad habits become set in stone as time goes on.

When you work with a coach, everything is objective. Your coach doesn’t take it personally if you had a slip up. They’ll help you get back on track and identify the conditions that led to the slip up in the first place so you can avoid harmful mistakes in the future.

Your coach will help you not only improve your weaknesses, but also capitalize on your strengths, so that you are both challenged and encouraged during your sessions.

A coach can objectively analyze what you’re currently doing, and identify what changes you can make to start moving towards your goals in a sustainable way. There’s no emotion or fear driving your coach’s decisions, which is a big reason why we get stuck when we try to go it alone.

We’re afraid to try something new, or to make the wrong decision, or we feel discouraged and hopeless about a situation we want to change.

By feeding off our coach’s objectivity, we can look at our health as a problem that can be solved, rather than an insurmountable barrier to our happiness.

Case in point: I’d been avoiding exercises I wasn’t very good at, like pushups or pull ups, and getting frustrated if I wasn’t performing as well at movements I thought I should be good at. I’d been out of commission from my accident for almost 3 months, and when I started exercising again I was getting angry and overwhelmed by the challenge of recovering my physical abilities.

It made me not even want to step foot in the gym.

Since I’ve started working with a coach, he doesn’t let me avoid the movements I hate (as much as I want to), and he helps me refine the movements I’m good at so that I can gain strength quickly and feel confident in my physical abilities. Rather than feeling upset, nervous, or angry during workouts, I feel empowered and excited.

And I’m actually getting better at those movements I was avoiding. (Imagine that.)

When I work with clients on their diet and lifestyle habits, I don’t get angry at them if they went off the plan, even if they’re angry with themselves. Instead I focus on identifying the factors that led to the poor choice in the first place. By identifying the cause, we can come up with ways to make better choices the next time around.

And as my clients start achieving good results, I’m able to keep track of their progress over the time that they work with me.

It always amazes me how quickly people forget where they started when it comes to their health, and I get a kick out of reminding people how much improvement they’ve had since we first started working together.

One of my favorite things to hear is “I totally forgot about that!” when we’re talking about a former symptom that has resolved! It’s truly amazing how fast we forget about health issues we used to deal with when they slowly start to disappear.

Having a coach who is completely objective about your behavior, health concerns, and goals can allow you to make evidence-based changes to your diet, exercise, and lifestyle routine to get on a path to feeling better quickly.


Behavior change becomes extremely challenging when you try to change way too many things at once, or become paralyzed with indecision when trying to decide what to focus on first.

My experience with clients has shown that most people can really only handle around 2-3 major changes at a time.  As much as people like to go gung-ho on their lifestyle changes, my clients are far more successful when we break up their behavior change into bite-size chunks.

When we are faced with too many decisions to make in our daily lives, our ability to exert self-control dwindles with every decision we make.

The more automatic our behavior can become, and the less we need to think about our choices, the more self-control we can exert. We’re then able to stick to our intended changes with ease.

To make that behavior more automatic, pick a handful (2-3) of major changes you plan to focus on and practice those changes daily until they become habits. Maybe that’s meditating every night, or eliminating dairy for 30 days, or aiming for 10,000 steps daily.

By narrowing your focus to just a couple of goals, you don’t spread your self-control as thin and you’re more able to stick to the changes you’ve committed to.

Another way to reduce how much self-control strength you need to use is by working with a coach. This is an incredibly helpful component of my personal training program. I just show up to the gym and my coach tells me what to do.

It doesn’t really take any mental energy (just physical!) and when I get home, I still have plenty of self-control strength left to focus on my business, get lots of work done, and stick to the other healthy habits like eating well and going to bed on time that I’ve committed to.

In my one-on-one sessions with clients, we work together to develop 3 (or so) specific action steps to work on over the coming weeks. These action steps will help them move towards their goal as quickly as possible.

They don’t have to make a decision about which changes they should focus on – I mostly do it for them. And they don’t become overwhelmed by the thousands of potential diet and lifestyle strategies that they’ve read about on the internet.

This can really help them stick to the plan better, because they have a solid direction to focus on.

By getting a coach to create a focused plan of action for you, you can avoid some of the frustration and “analysis paralysis” that comes from trying to make these decisions for yourself.


Knowledge and experience may be the most important consideration when choosing a coach to work with. Your coach can keep you accountable, be objective about your goals, and help you choose a direction to follow – but if they’re giving you bad information, then the investment is not worth it.

There are a few reasons why a coach’s expertise is so important. One of the most important reasons is safety. If your coach doesn’t know how to keep you safe while you’re going through their program, you’re almost guaranteed to get injured or have detrimental health outcomes down the road.

While it’s hard to know ahead of time if a coach will keep your safety in mind, if you ever feel like the recommendations a coach is making to you is potentially unsafe or not respecting your physical limits, find a new coach.

Unfortunately I’ve worked with clients who came to me after following another program that had them eating 1200 calories per day (or less), working out 6-7 days per week, or avoiding foods arbitrarily that was leading them to feel fearful of food.

We had to work hard to undo the damage caused by these unsafe programs, and it frustrates me that there are so many people out there peddling “quick-fix” programs that do more harm than good in the long run.

A coach who has established expertise in the topic they are coaching on should be able to give you evidence-based guidance that will prevent you from doing harm to yourself. This type of coach will help you solve your health problems in a way that addresses the root of the problem, not a way that gets quick but unsustainable results.

And expertise doesn’t just come from education. A coach with plenty of experience working with clients will have a deeper understanding of how to address your health concerns and help you reach your goals. I learn more every day from working with clients, and over time I’ve been able to apply what I’ve learned to new clients in the same position.

The best coach will combine expertise with clarity in the way they present their information to their clients. Health and fitness can get pretty complicated sometimes, and many of my clients come to me with information overload, either from reading too much or working with another health professional that doesn’t stop to explain their recommendations in a way they can understand.

So when you’re working with a coach, make sure you ask for clarification, and don’t be afraid to say you don’t understand something. A good coach will have no problem changing the way they explain their advice so that you can get on the same page.

What I’ve learned from working with my own coach that as a client, working with someone who has a lot of expertise and experience makes me feel confident in their recommendations. And asking my coach questions or asking him to clarify his recommendations allows me to better understand why we’re doing things the way we’re doing them. That way I feel good about what we’re doing and know we’re on the same page.

And since I’m getting the results I’m looking for, I trust him even if I don’t completely understand something he tells me to do!


For this final section, I’ve asked my coach Matt McLaughlin to write up his own top reason for investing in coaching.

Here’s what Matt has to say:

Achieving goals requires action. Not just a single act, but a consistent commitment to doing what needs to be done. Even when it’s uncomfortable.

Read those words again: consistent commitment. It’s the secret sauce to success.

The trail towards success is blazed by the consistent commitment to the right habits and actions.

You must have 100% clarity that you are on-board and willing to do what it takes to change.

Clarity can be tough. But, what brings clarity? Decisive action. Decision through action brings clarity.

Making the choice to invest in yourself is a powerful, and clear, signal that you are ready and willing to commit to your goal. Investing in a coach is an investment in yourself. You are taking action and making a powerful statement that you are ready to commit to success.

Ultimately you have to hold yourself accountable to your commitments. If you aren’t clear on your commitment, or dedicated to doing what it takes – then you aren’t ready for the success you desire.

I can attest to Matt’s statement here. Making the decision to invest in myself and commit to regular coaching was pivotal in moving my mindset into an “I can do this” state. And this positivity and clarity has snowballed into other areas of my life beyond my health, such as my business.

My decision to take myself seriously and invest in my personal goals has permeated into the rest of my life, and I feel 1000% times better than I did a month ago when my motivation, energy, and passion was lacking.

And it’s the consistency I’m getting from working with a coach that’s really getting me the slow but sustainable results I’m looking for. It’s not as sexy as “Drop 10 Pounds This Week!” but it works, and my body is thanking me for it.

Now Go Hire A Coach!

Those are the top 5 reasons to hire a coach to help you reach your goals!

While I focused on diet and exercise in this article, these reasons can apply to any coaching situation, including business coaching, life coaching, financial coaching, and beyond.

If you need nutrition coaching (and want to work with someone who knows what it’s like to be a client herself), check out my coaching page and sign up to work with me one-on-one.

And if you’re in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, I highly recommend checking out Capital Strength and Conditioning for high quality, professional strength and fitness coaching that won’t burn you out or bore you. (PS – I’m not getting paid for this endorsement, I just want to share my good experience with y’all!)

Have you ever worked with a coach? What made it worthwhile for you to hire a pro? Share with me in the comments below!

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Are You Eating Enough? Here’s 8 Signs You Might Not Be! Wed, 03 Jun 2015 17:43:58 +0000 11234913_970906546287181_4139528437253216302_n

This is a preview of a post which originally appeared on To read the full article, click here.

In our modern society with its seemingly endless supply of fast food and junk food, it seems obvious to most why we’re dealing with an obesity epidemic. Cheap, low quality food surrounds us, and there’s not enough time in the world to exercise away all the excess calories that exist in our food supply.

However, those of us in the Paleo and ancestral health community seem to have a different problem altogether. It’s one that I’ve seen in dozens of clients, as well as most of our participants in our online adrenal fatigue program.

This problem is chronic under-eating.

Yes, I said under-eating, not overeating. While most people would find it hard to believe that many of the health problems people experience when going Paleo is from a lack of calories and appropriate macronutrients, I’ve seen it in my private practice countless times; clients who were experiencing mysterious, nagging symptoms that suddenly disappeared when we evaluated and corrected their daily food intake.

I’ve even seen clients who couldn’t lose weight that were suddenly able to after increasing their food intake. Quite the opposite of the “calories-in-calories-out” mentality!

Could something as simple as under-eating be causing your health problems? Could inadequate food intake be the reason why your Paleo diet suddenly isn’t working for you anymore? Is your “rapid weight loss” diet plan the reason your jeans are getting tighter instead of looser?

Below are the top 8 signs and symptoms I see in my clients who are chronically under-eating. Read on to discover if you might simply need some more food to start feeling better today!

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Should You Cheat On Your Diet? 3 Reasons Why Dietary Infidelity is a Good Thing Wed, 27 May 2015 14:00:00 +0000 ThinkstockPhotos-160576234

Usually when people talk about “cheating” on their diet, they mean they had a cheat meal, or a cheat day, or they “went off the rails” completely at a party.

Whether or not these are scheduled “cheats”, the underlying premise is that you’ve broken the rules or done something naughty. And whether or not you have guilt about that cheat depends on how much strictly you follow your diet, and why you did the “cheating” in the first place.

But eating foods that are not on your strict diet plan shouldn’t be compared to something as serious as cheating on your spouse or cheating on your taxes.

That’s why I actually hate the word “cheating” when it comes to building a healthy diet. In my mind, there’s no such thing as cheating on your diet.

Every meal you eat is a choice. Some choices are more disciplined and purposeful, others are more impulsive, and still others are purposefully for the sake of enjoying yourself and chilling the heck out. (Those are my favorite choices!)

But just in case you are stuck in the mindset that “cheating” on your diet is wrong, here are three reasons why breaking free from your rigid diet rules can actually improve your health and happiness both today and twenty years from now.

Dietary infidelity? @Ancestralizeme gives her top 3 reasons why cheating on your diet is good!
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 1. Always Keep Experimenting

One of the big reasons why many of my clients come to work with me is because the diet they’ve been killing themselves to stick to for months or years has suddenly started to fail them.

Perhaps they’ve gained the weight back that they lost. Or maybe they stopped menstruating. Or perhaps their energy has dropped significantly, despite a huge boost when they first started their new way of eating.

Some of these clients have no issues completely revamping their diet and trying something new, such as switching up their macronutrient ranges, adding in new foods they’ve been avoiding, eating more in general, or eliminating problem foods they’ve been overeating.

However, I’ve worked with a lot of people for whom change is scary, and takes more than a few sessions to really get on board with.

I’ve had clients afraid to eat bananas (too much sugar!), white potatoes (not Paleo™!), eggs (autoimmunity!), liver (toxins!), chicken skin (high omega-6 fat!), broccoli (goitrogens!) and white rice (grains!).

Adding some of these foods into their diet was a scary experiment for them that 9 times out of 10 was perfectly fine, and often helpful for getting them to their health goals.

It’s rare for anyone to figure out their 100% perfect diet that will never change no matter what happens in their lives – I’d even argue that this is impossible.

You need to always be open to experimentation when it comes to your diet, otherwise you’ll likely get stuck in a diet that is not be serving you anymore, but you’re too afraid to make changes.

Don’t take your diet too seriously. Yes, diet is extremely important to good health, but not so much that a little bit of experimentation with new and different foods isn’t worthwhile doing.

You might find that lifting restrictions, shifting your macronutrients, or trying new foods that you used to not tolerate may actually improve your health rather than harm it.

2. Rigidity Rarely Lasts

Complete rigidity when it comes to your diet isn’t a good strategy for long term compliance or good mental health when choosing a diet to follow.

It puts you at higher risk for an eating disorder, and often backfires, leading to greater weight gain and poor body image.

Avoiding rigidity in your diet should be a priority.

Mark Sisson has a great term to describe the ideal diet: WCIGAW. (I think that’s pronounced “wicky-gaw”?) It stands for “What Can I Get Away With?”

The basic principle of WCIGAW is that the key to staying consistent and happy with your Paleo, Primal, or ancestral diet is to have a good sense of understanding about what foods your body does well on, what foods you can “get away with” on occasion, and what foods are absolutely non-negotiable.

For example, perhaps for you gluten is a non-negotiable, you enjoy sugar occasionally, and you can eat as much dairy as you want with no repercussions. Knowing that sugar and dairy are okay for you to eat can make it far easier to enjoy eating out and traveling, without the stress of trying to stay perfectly Paleo 24/7.

For me, I don’t even avoid gluten 100% of the time. I have beer an average of 4-6 times a month, I’ll nibble on a nice piece of bread or tasty dessert at a restaurant, and I don’t worry about croutons on a salad (though I pick them off because I actually hate croutons.)

But on the flip side, I don’t buy regular bread or pasta, I typically order gluten-free dishes when I’m eating out, and I know that if I eat excessive wheat products, I generally feel sluggish, my digestion is a little icky, and I tend to break out.

So while I generally avoid gluten because too much of it makes me feel gross, I understand that enjoying a beer or two is not going to kill me or make me violently ill, or even affect my health at all in the long run, so I don’t stress about it.

It’s important for you to figure out what foods you can “get away with” in order to avoid the rigidity that often leads to “falling off the wagon”, bingeing, and feeling extreme guilt when the diet is “broken”.

3. Life Is Short!

This is my favorite reason to loosen up with your die, especially if you’re someone who’s generally healthy but is just looking to stay healthy and live a long, energetic life.

As I mentioned earlier, rigidity in your diet can lead to unhappiness, anxiety, stress, and disordered eating. None of that fits into a picture of health in my book, so I strongly recommend taking a long hard look at your diet if you’re finding that it is causing you emotions like anguish, fear, or depression.

Ultimately, even if you find the perfect diet for longevity and health, we’re still all going to die in the end. And a perfect diet won’t keep you from getting hit by a truck or falling into a manhole, so spending every waking minute analyzing and tweaking your diet is a pretty poor way to spend your precious time.

After all, time is the only resource we have that we can never get more of, so spending it wisely is the most important thing you can do in this world.

And spending it on restrictive dieting, overtraining, and obsessing over your health or physique could not be a bigger waste of time, if you ask me.

For other perspectives on this, check out these posts:

Now I’d like to hear from you. Did your health improve when switching to a less rigid diet? Are you tired of following arbitrary food rules? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Get Rid of Your Fatigue Once and For All Tue, 28 Apr 2015 15:59:34 +0000 ThinkstockPhotos-460148049

Start waking up with energy TODAY!

I am so excited to be able to FINALLY share the release of my first online program with you!

Paleo Rehab: Adrenal Fatigue has just launched today, and dozens of people have already signed up to start learning the step-by-step process to healing from adrenal fatigue.

Are you ready to FINALLY end your adrenal fatigue once and for all? #paleorehab
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This brand new, 5-week multimedia course will teach you everything you need to know about healing from adrenal fatigue, so that you can start recovering your energy today.

Each module has video presentations along with downloadable handouts, guides, and worksheets to keep you organized and on task.

You’ll also get access to a private Facebook community, where you can meet and interact with other students, find support, and and get your questions answered.

All this, plus lifetime access to all future program updates, for only $197.


In this one-of-a-kind online program, you’ll learn:

  • What’s really happening in “adrenal fatigue” and why we call this condition “HPA Axis Dysregulation” instead
  • The lab test(s) you need to get done to get to the root of your adrenal fatigue symptoms, such as exhaustion, chronic illness, injuries, and more (And YES – you can order these tests through our program!)
  • The exact diet recommendations we make to our patients with adrenal fatigue, along with 2 week-long “real food” gluten-free meal plans and a snack guide. No more wondering what and when to eat!
  • The precise supplement schedule you should follow depending on the results of your adrenal fatigue testing. Stop wasting money (and feeling worse) on the wrong supplements!
  • The four most important lifestyle factors that you need to address now in order to start recovering from adrenal fatigue. You absolutely cannot skip this part, or you won’t be able to heal.
  • How to heal your relationship with food and your body, so you can live a lifestyle that fully supports adrenal health and helps you recover the vitality you know you deserve

PLUS: Sign up by 12PM EST on Monday May 4th and you’ll get access to twice-weekly LIVE office hours with me and Kelsey Marksteiner for the full 5 weeks of the program.

That’s 10 full hours of live question and answer sessions, valued at $1999 yours FREE if you sign up by May 4th!

We’ve even enlisted the help of some amazing experts in the ancestral health community to make this program the most comprehensive experience possible.

You’ll learn from the brilliant minds of:

  • Chris Kresser, LAc
  • Aglaee Jacob, RD
  • Lily Nichols, RD
  • Jen Sinkler
  • Summer Innanen, CNP
  • Kate Callaghan, RD
  • … and more!

The best part? We’re giving you a 60-day money back guarantee.

We’re 100% confident that you’ll love Paleo Rehab: Adrenal Fatigue, but we know that investing money into your health can be scary, especially if you’ve spent a lot of money in the past on products and services that have failed you.

We want you to try the program for 60 days to make sure it’s a good fit for you and your health goals. If you don’t love the program, just email us at and we’ll give you your money back, no questions asked.

How do we know you’ll love this program?

Here’s what some of our past students say:

“I’ve been dealing with adrenal fatigue for over four years without really knowing how to heal it. I thought I was doing all the right things by eating a strict, low carb paleo diet and running like a crazy person. Little did I know I was further damaging my adrenals! I’ve learned so much listening to Kelsey and Laura’s podcasts and that’s where I heard about this program. There really is no where else that has such comprehensive information about this condition that affects so many people.Kelsey and Laura give you the tools you need to start taking the steps to heal. For the first time in years, I am feeling hopeful that I will get better.”

- Elisabeth S.

When I started this program I was already 6 months into adrenal fatigue. I was working with 2 different practitioners and getting conflicting advice. I was reading what I could find, but information about adrenal fatigue is all over the place and sometimes hard to track down. When I saw The Ancestral RDs’ offer for this program I jumped at it and I have not been disappointed.

All the information from diet to science to stress management is all here in one place. The interaction of the people in the program over in the Facebook group is very helpful and the office hours! Oh, the office hours! You get to spend an hour picking the brains of these two very smart, very experienced young women. I learned a lot. I got tons of support. I got clarification on many issues.

I can’t say enough how this has helped me. If nothing else, I no longer feel alone nor like I’m some sort of freak. Nor do I have to feel as though I am weak or can’t “take the heat.” There are others going through this and we can support each other. I feel as though I can face what might be a long recovery with realism, hope and confidence. For someone who’s tired all the time and can’t think very clearly, that is a lot of progress. I am so, so grateful that I took this course.

- Laura W.

“I love how this program provides an excellent collection of recommendations and resources to help you recover from adrenal fatigue. I love how the program helps to motivate you by providing non-overwhelming educational information that helps you to better understand why following the recommendations will help you to recover.

I wish this program would have been available a few years ago when I first started my adrenal fatigue healing journey.”

- Gregory R.

Get the help you need TODAY.

We’ve been working incredibly hard on this program for over 6 months now, and we’re over-the-moon excited that we’re finally able to release it to the world!

Click the link below to get all the details you need about the program.


Get started for only $197!


Remember: Sign up by 12PM EST on May 4th to get access to the LIVE Q&A sessions with Kelsey and me!

I hope you’re as excited as I am to start your journey towards the energy and vitality you deserve!

PS – Are you a blogger who is interested in becoming an affiliate for Paleo Rehab? Email us at to find out how you can get involved in sharing this brand new program with your tribe!

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Giveaway: The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook Sat, 04 Apr 2015 14:45:06 +0000 The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook


My friend Diana Rodgers over at Sustainable Dish has offered to give away a free copy of her beautiful hardcover cookbook and lifestyle guide, The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook.

This book is full of delicious, farm-fresh Paleo and gluten-free recipes that will keep you inspired after your trips to the farmers market or if you are lucky enough to be able to grow your own food. The book will push you beyond simply “eating Paleo” to learning how to live a more sustainable lifestyle that respects our environment and encourages a deeper connection with the natural world around us.

The book will not only teach you how to cook delicious meals, but will also show you how to raise your own animals (chickens, goats, bees, and more), how to talk to your local farmers about the food they grow, how to find sustainable seafood, how to care for cast iron cookware, and more. Not to mention the photography is beautiful and a joy to look at (no matter what your diet is!)

I love that Diana has taken such a deep look at how our Paleo and ancestral diets affect the world around us, and how we can make our diet and lifestyle one that supports a thriving ecosystem, rather than destroying it. Everyone will find some type of advice that will help them make their diet a little more sustainable, whether you live on a farm or in the big city.

If you want to win a copy of this book, enter the contest below! Otherwise you can simply order the book online through Amazon.

About The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook:

On her farm in Massachusetts, nutritionist Diana Rodgers has found a way back to a healthy, active lifestyle with a focus on nutritious and delicious eating, raising animals, growing vegetables, and balancing work and play.

Anyone can have the same healthy, balanced lifestyle and a closer connection to their food—whether you live in a house in the suburbs, a farmhouse in the countryside, or an apartment in the city. The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook shows you how.

With over 100 seasonal Paleo recipes, guides to growing your own food and raising animals, and inspiring how-tos for crafts and entertaining, The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook is a guide not just for better eating, but for better living—and a better world.

Submit your entry below to win! Contest ends 4/7/2015 at 12PM EST.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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