Happy Thanksgiving


As the days have quickly been approaching the holiday season, my excitement and joy has grown to point where words failed me…and then it hit me yesterday! THIS IS THE FIRST HOLIDAY SEASON IN 3 YEARS I AM NOT TOO SICK TO ENJOY IT! ūüôā How awesome is that?

Three years ago, my health took a major turn for the worse. My body was in constant pain; I was dizzy all the time; I slept more than I was awake, yet somehow managed to keep a full time job going. I cooked, but I was so exhausted by the time the food was ready, I could only muster up the strength to nibble. I crashed for months after that, desperately trying to recover, but to no avail. Things just kept getting worse.

The following year, the doctors thought they figured it all out, and I spent the holidays on medical leave from work, laying in bed, preparing for surgery the day after Christmas. There was minimal cooking on my part, but my husband and son were a trooper. They followed instructions and cooked dinner, decorated our house so I wasn’t so depressed, and tried to give me space to sleep. They were amazing. It brings tears to my eyes even to this day to think of all they did for me during that very difficult time.

Last year, I was starting to feel better. I changed my lifestyle, my eating habits, and really felt things were turning around for me. I decided to join the Christmas Choir again at church, home life was getting back on track and work was great! ¬†I was feeling excitement about the upcoming holidays when BAM! I came down with pneumonia. For whatever reason, my body likes to hide my illnesses, so despite seeing the doctor on 2 different occasions in a 10 day period, they could only surmise that I had a virus and it needed to work its course. By Thanksgiving, I was in the hospital from dehydration, high fever and pneumonia. I think this year was the hardest because I truly wasn’t expecting it. It took me months to fully recover and heal.

So that leads me to today. Today, I was up early…gladly, I might add…to prepare my turkey, stuffing, desserts, etc. and while I know I am not 100%, I am well enough to think straight, feel emotions, be with my family, and make turkey dinner! My heart is full of gratitude. Despite all that has happened over the past few years, I am grateful for the experiences. It has taught me so much compassion, understanding, love and even deeper gratitude. I am thankful for the things I have learned about myself and about my little family through these trials. We may be small but we are mighty. I am grateful for the friends that have stuck by me, even when I couldn’t be there for them. I am grateful for the love so many people showed me and shared with me over these few years. I haven’t lived in Austin very long, and I’ve been sick more than half of it, yet the friendships I have made are real and powerful. I am grateful for beginnings and endings. I am grateful for good times and bad times. I am grateful to know opposition because without it, I couldn’t appreciate harmony. For this and so many other things, I am bursting with joy and thankfulness!

My life may not be storybook perfect, but it’s my beautiful, crazy life and I am grateful for the opportunity to live!


The Miracle of Living Paleo!

It has been quite some time since I have written a post, and at first, I will admit that I didn’t write because I was really struggling. I had started the AIP elimination diet, and I was going through my own personal hell. I never realized just how centered our lives were around food. Have you ever gone to a friends house or a girls night out or a party where food wasn’t in the middle of it all? Have you ever been to one of these events and said “no thank you” to their food offerings only to be interrogated and talked about because of your “no thank you”? It was awful, and I was depressed! I was H-ANGRY most of the time, AND my body was seriously detoxing. It took a solid 4 weeks for me to start to feel normal, let alone good…although, I haven’t felt good in a long time, so I use that word very loosely.

After the 4th week, I did start to notice that my energy level was increasing; my stomach didn’t feel heavy and bloated; I was coming home and actually had the stamina to cook supper! Not only that, but I wasn’t coming home, feeling the pain overtake me for the night. I was sleeping much more peacefully and soundly. You know that saying, “I slept like a baby”? I think I can officially say that I understand that phrase, and I now sleep like a baby! ¬†Chronic fatigue? Don’t feel it anymore! Woooohooooo!



I still have a ways to go with all my health issues, but the pain and fatigue that once plagued my entire existence has drastically reduced. I am able to fight off infections, bugs, illnesses, etc. a whole lot easier than I have done over the last 7-10 years.

In fact, I really put myself to the test these past two weeks. About two weeks ago, I had to attend a conference in Vegas. I wasn’t able to bring much of my own food with me, so I had no choice but to attempt to make my paleo lifestyle out of the options presented at this conference. I was offered Gluten Free options, but when I was finally at the conference, it was shocking to me that there was truly a lack of understanding on what is and what isn’t Gluten Free. By the 4th day, I was back to feeling exhausted, bloated and the inflammation in my legs was starting to get out of control. I had stomach cramps that would bring a WWE wrestler to his knees. It was brutal. I kept thinking that it was going to take me weeks to recover and my body would make me pay. As soon as I went to the airport, I called my husband and asked him to take out of the freezer two mason jars of my bone broth and have them in the fridge for me. I got home and spent the next few days recovering, eating only items I would have if I were still having to follow the AIP lifestyle 100%, and I drank a TON of bone broth. I even made extra because I was dwindling my supply quickly. By the time the weekend was through, I was starting to feel good again. I was floored….but, I was nervous because I knew that I would have to leave, yet again, for another week long trip in just a few days. And this upcoming trip was going to be harder because I was going to be stuck in a car most of the time traveling from Canada to North Carolina.

So, I tried to plan ahead as much as possible. I was determined not to be miserable and cause myself a major set back in my recovery. I made sure to buy myself snacks that would sustain me if there were not decent restaurant options. For example, have you heard of AMRAP Nutrition Bars? Love them! I first saw them while following¬†PaleoParents¬† and their¬†instagram feed; she mentioned that she needed to “skip” dinner due to her schedule that night so she grabbed one of these bars. I figured if one of my favorite Paleo bloggers likes them, they must be good, so I ordered¬†an entire box for my trip. They are really good! Another thing I did was bring along my favorite cookbook, Meals Made Simple by Danielle Walker from Against All Grain. I figured that I would be able to make some meals for myself once we finally arrived at my mom’s house.

rachel and danielle¬†¬†Side note, I was able to attend Danielle’s book signing in Austin just before leaving. This was a testament to how far I’ve come in my recovery that I was able to even do this because I had already been working 10 hours and then went straight from work to the book signing, stood in line for her autograph and didn’t get home until after 9pm!

OK, I’ve slightly deviated from the topic at hand…so, food choices were a little challenging, but not as hard since I brought food that I could eat. Plus, I was so impressed and touched by my sister making a special trip to the store to buy me food that I could eat while at her house, even if it was only for a day! My family is Italian, so the idea of having no gluten AND no grains is kinda funny! ¬†Now, not all my choices were solid, but here’s the cool part! I didn’t suffer so severely that it knocked me out for the entire duration of the trip. Did I notice a little swelling the next morning? Yes, but it was nothing that didn’t go away after a little bit of movement. Here’s the second coolest part. I was able to exert some pretty significant physical energy to help my Mom, and guess what? I didn’t cause myself to become bed-ridden! I didn’t “hurt” outside the normal everyday hurt. I was OK! It was amazing! I was able to lift my own suitcase in and out of the car day after day, stop after stop.

I felt like She-Ra! ūüôā


Seriously, I didn’t feel like I was dying. Less than a year ago, I never would have been able to make that trip without it putting me out for weeks upon my return. Even my husband worried about the condition I would be in upon my return home.

Words cannot express the joy I feel, the relief I have experienced, the miracle that has come into my life. Who would have thought that I could begin to heal myself through food. It has been an entire lifestyle change, and it was really challenging both mentally and physically, but it has been worth it every step of the way. I probably didn’t realize it along the journey, but looking back, I am so grateful to have stuck it out. I am grateful for the amazing bloggers I have found along the way; they have encouraged me, helped me, educated me and given me strength…and they don’t even know I exist! ūüôā Learning about the Paleo lifestyle is my own personal miracle that has transformed my life and how I live it. I found a quote on savingforsomeday.com that fits my thought process perfectly. Enjoy!




Healthy Living 101: Five Unhealthy “Healthy” Habits

Changing my eating habits has brought me to the knowledge that these low fat/no fat, quick and easy meal options are NOT the way my body feels best. It hasn’t been easy, but I have found that it’s much easier to take a little bit of extra time to pack my lunch, or place supper in a crock-pot than it is to fight the attack my body gives my immune system when I eat “lazy”.
I have a saying that I remind myself when I start to feel too tired or get lazy. “Nothing tastes as good as healthy FEELS”! After years of being sick, I can attest that this statement is true. There isn’t a single thing that I have put into my mouth that makes me feel better than something fresh and natural because I know first hand how it FEELS after eating fresh, all-natural foods vs sugar, chocolate and processed “food”. I’m not going to lie to you and say it has been an easy road, but I will tell you that it has been worth it. Hope you enjoy reading the below blog post.
Happy Reading ūüôā

Find Me Gluten Free

Healthy living

Welcome to Healthy Living 101, a monthly health column featuring articles written by Marla Brodsky (RD, LD, BCIM). Marla is a Registered Dietitian and specialist in integrative medicine, with many years experience in clinical nutrition and research. To learn more about Marla, read her bio here.

In this monthly nutrition column, I plan on giving you easy, quick tidbits that can move you in the direction of health by reducing inflammation, healing your gut, and giving your body the nutrients it needs to function properly and naturally.

To start, here are 5 things that seem ‚Äúhealthy‚ÄĚ but are actually unhealthy:

1. Counting calories and relying on ‚Äúdiet foods‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúA calorie is a calorie‚ÄĚ is not true. The body uses different types of calories differently in storing fat and affecting metabolism. Focus on quality ingredients that are found in nature rather than the number of calories. Your cravings will subside and‚Ķ

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Talk to me baby…

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01¬† ¬†Yup, this just about describes my mornings this past week while learning to change my eating habits towards¬†the Paleo AIP diet. I’d be lying if I told you this past week was easy for me to fully stick to this elimination diet. It’s hard to avoid the soda, the sweets, the hunger, but the hardest thing for me has been breakfast. My blood sugar dips every morning and I struggle to know what to eat to help boost it, so I end up breaking the AIP protocol and have a KIND bar. It works, but I know it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing. I never realized how many carbs I must eat for breakfast. At least that’s what I’m assuming because why else would I be struggling with my blood sugars every day? ¬†Once I eat the KIND bar, I’m fine for the rest of the day, and then I’m just dealing with the hunger and fighting my urge to drink a Pepsi! ūüôā

pepsiI don’t know why this little bottle of sugar is so appealing to me. I can just feel the bubbles in my mouth and the sweetness running down my throat…I can’t wait to take that first sip…And then I remember exactly why I can’t stand drinking soda. The sugar crash is horrific! The bloating in my stomach is uncomfortable and ugly. I feel so gross I never¬†finish the soda, so why does it have such a sweet hold on me? I don’t mind drinking water; in fact, I actually prefer it to most anything else. I can feel my body crave it, but yet, I still play these mental games that I want that damn Pepsi. Thankfully my body knows better than my brain and makes it quite challenging to¬†continue drinking it.

So onto another week. I’ll keep trying to figure out the low blood sugar thing, but if anyone has any suggestions or advice, I am all ears.

i'm all ears


Is It Possible To Be Hung Over Without Ever Drinking Alcohol?


Is it possible to be hung over even though you don’t drink alcohol? ¬†Maybe it’s food hangover? ¬†Maybe I had one too many Keebler cookies; I don’t really know what it is, but the cleanse was not fun at all. I couldn’t even get to the point where I felt hunger because my stomach hurt all the time; my migraines came back in full force, then the allergies kicked in…and que the dizziness! I figured after a couple days of yuckiness, I would feel better and I¬†did…sorta.


I never realized how much I love breakfast! ¬†The AIP diet does not have a lot of solutions/recipes for breakfast unless it involves bacon, pork or sausage. ¬†ICK…I am all about the pancakes, french toast, waffles, eggs, omelets. Oh yummy, yummy, yummy! Sadly those days are gone for a while, and I’m finding it hard to get myself going in the mornings. ¬†I wake up hungry and I don’t know what to eat, so I can’t seem to feel awake until late morning when I grab a snack. When your day starts at 5:00am, late morning is a long time to wait! ¬†It’s only been a few days, so I’ll figure it out, but right now, I really miss my breakfasts.

chicken bone broth

One thing I am really liking is the bone broth. I made a batch of beef bone broth and now I’m making chicken bone broth. Surprisingly I don’t mind drinking it. I have to admit, it was really bizarre to go to the grocery store and buy bones. I felt like such a caveman (pun intended), if truth be told! But I believe it’s because of the broth that I started to feel better after the initial hangover effect of the cleanse.

It’s occurred to me that I don’t know anyone who eats the way I am choosing to eat; better yet, I don’t know anyone who chooses to live this lifestyle. Learning to heal myself through food really is a completely different lifestyle that people don’t necessarily understand. It’s a totally different mindset when looking at food now, and it feels slightly isolating. People think you’re joining the next “fad” and will actually roll their eyes. It’s hard to feel alone. I enjoy the blogs and the advice I receive through¬†those blogs, plus books and google, but it’s not the same as being able to talk to someone else who cares about you and understands what you’re going through. It’s hard to not feel like all eyes are on you when you’re going out to eat with a bunch of people and you have to quietly ask the waitress/waiter very detailed questions to make sure I understand what I’m putting in my body. Gone are the days when I just ate a piece of pie because I felt like it. Everything is different now, and I’m sure I’ll learn to adjust mentally, but I’m not there yet. I guess it’s just going to take some time.


Just Another Manic Monday…but I Don’t Wish It Were Sunday!

sick weekend

I am really getting tired of my body having such an acute insight to when the weekend is approaching; lately, it completely shuts down and ruins any plans I may have made for the weekend.

When I woke up on Wednesday, it was time for me to return home from my trip back home, and I swear my body knew it. I woke up with severe brain fog, irritability and of course, the constant pain. I was actually starting to think this trip wasn’t going to be that bad since I had several days where I felt pretty good, all things considering. ¬†I tried to remain active so my body wouldn’t get stiff, which seemed to help, especially since the bed wasn’t that comfortable to sleep in. It definitely could have been worse, but it wasn’t my bed so naturally, it was going to feel a little “off” to me. But I’m telling ya, my body¬†knew¬†I was coming back home and decided to act up. I tried to sleep on the plane in the hopes I wouldn’t sit for the next 5 hours feeling the pain burning throughout my hips and lower back, but that hope didn’t turn into reality. ¬†As soon as I got off the airplane and stepped outside into the Austin “air”, I swear I could feel my face begin to tighten, as if anticipating the attack it would soon face.

Thursday and Friday morning, sure enough, I could feel the allergies attacking my face as my sinuses start to swell, causing pressure to build up. I could be wrong, but it seems like since having my surgery, any little swelling makes the sinus pressure so much worse than before. By the time Saturday came, the pressure has turned to vertigo, dizziness and nausea.  Oh the joys of my weekend!

After plenty of steroids, it’s safe to go¬†to work, but we shall see how long it lasts. When the vertigo hits, no one wants me on the roads! :-0 ¬†I am really starting to miss my gym workouts, but what’s worse is I am really starting to dread weekends. Boo!

OK, my rant is over.

This week will be better and my next weekend is going to be magical!



Barely Keeping My Head Above Water


I haven’t been shirking my “attitude of gratitude” the last couple of days! I promise! I admit that¬†I’ve been feeling slightly overwhelmed, struggling to keep up. ¬†My work calendar looks like a bad game of tetris, barely giving me time to breath between meetings. ¬†By the time I get home, I have just enough left to make supper before I¬†crash! Monday I don’t even remember how I got to my bed! ¬†LOL…but oh boy was I grateful for a great night sleep. ¬†I woke up dazed and confused! That’s what I call a good sleep. ¬†ūüôā

While work has been crazy, I’m grateful for the busy-ness to make the time move quickly. ¬†It helps to keep my mind off the fact that I don’t feel all that great, and I won’t get the latest results of my tests for at least another few weeks. I’m grateful my days are so full right now because¬†it tires me out and I can sleep more soundly at night.

I am struggling for words this evening, so I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite songs that just makes me happy and smile…probably cuz it’s how I feel about my sweet hubby. ¬†ūüôā