Posted in 30 Challenges, Getting Started, Healthy Eating, Paleo

Journey to the Paleolithic

Yesterday began my journey into the Paleolithic, and I didn’t even need a time machine. I am referring of course, to the infamous Paleo Diet. If you have somehow never heard of the Paleo Diet, or any of its other nicknames: Paleolithic diet, ancestral diet, or caveman diet allow me to give a very brief introduction. The Paleo Diet is a movement where essentially us modern day humans are to channel our ancestors and their dietary proclivities.  Using ones local grocery store as the grounds for their newly adopted hunter-gatherer lifestyle, they are to shun processed foods of all kinds like packaged sweets, cookies, chips along with bread, pasta, and rice.

Why in the world would anyone do this?  Well, by focusing on only what our ancestral caveman relatives could hunt and gather it emphasizes healthy, unprocessed foods.

In my effort to learn a little more about this, I discovered that there are a lot of inherent benefits.  Weight loss, muscle gain, improved digestion, better sleep are just a few of the health benefits people tout after ‘going paleo’.

The General Practices of the Paleo Diet:

  • Lean protein and meats- good
  • Vegetables- very good
  • Fruits- good
  • Seeds and Nuts- good
  • Sugar- BAD!
  • Legumes- BAD!
  • Grains (pastas, breads, rice)- BAD!
  • Dairy (cheese, butter, milk)- BAD!

I have had some hangups about trying the Paleo Diet, both in terms of I can do it (no bread???) and if it was all really worth it. So in my quest for self-improvement challenges, and my interest to get conditioned for my Swim Around Lido Key (only 6 weeks away!) this seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to test run Paleo.


To make matters difficult, on a recent trip to Seattle, I rediscovered my love for BREAD. This particular bread experience took place over a plate of linguini and clams in a small restaurant in Ballard, north of downtown Seattle. The bread was a crusty loaf with a delicate sprinkling of sea salt over the top and the homemade butter was something I could have eaten on its own (it was truly that good). I am not going to lie, this was a wonderful, but very poorly timed food experience.  So, I had to overcome  (or at least stave off) my deeply devoted love of bread…

I also discovered, after an initial trip to the grocery store that buying fresh produce and quality protein does not come cheap. I will likely need to pick up some clever recipes to make this a little more friendly on my wallet.


Before I could start my challenge, I also needed to figure out what was going to work for me.  While the basics of Paleo are all the same, there is some room for interpretation, and I had to ultimately decide what would work for me.

So here are the details of my Paleo Challenge:

  • 21 days of Paleo
  • Focus my diet around proteins, vegetables, fruits and some seeds/nuts
  • No bread, rice, pasta or processed food

Here are my non-Paleo compromises (to keep me sane):

  • Corn– specifically pop corn. It is my one go-to snack. I have to have it. And technically, while most paleo-purists will say that corn is not approved, I will argue that it is still vegetable-ish
  • Salt– again, in true Paleo terms, you aren’t supposed to have sugar OR salt but I have to be able to season my food and I use salt as one of my main kitchen staples
  • Cheese/Breadcrumbs– I am going to allow myself the occasional allowance of cheese to sprinkle onto particularly boring dishes or breadcrumbs to liven up and bind together protein. But again, this will be a periodic exception and by no means a habitual practice.
  • Coffee and Creamer– I am not a regular coffee drinker, but my Sunday mornings are sacred to me. I sleep in, have breakfast with the boyfriend and enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee with creamer. I have decided I am keeping this as a once-a-week treat.
Posted in 30 Challenges, Road Trip, Travel

Road Trip Recap- Part 3


This is going to round out my series of road trip recaps (Check out my Itinerary in Road Trip Recap- Part 2 and my Trip Overview in Road Trip Recap- Part 1).  In this last road trip related post, I am going to focus on the planning and preparation for the trip to highlight some of my Tips and Tricks for an AWESOME ROAD TRIP!


  • Map out your route and review alternative routes. While we were planning for this trip we went through many itierations of our route… This was actually fun and got us excited as we talked about cities and stopping points.  But from a planning standpoint, it was really helpful by thinking through fastest/shortest/most interesting routes and best cities to stop in.
  • Make a checklist. And check it twice (at least)
  • Make a budget. Think about all your likely expenses: food/gas/hotel/excursions/tolls. Determine if there are any opportunities to save money.
  • Check weather. Our trip went from Orange County (FL) to Orange County (CA) in January and we saw temperatures as high as 80 degrees and as low as 30 degrees.  Having an idea of what the weather would be was critical to know what to pack.
  • Don’t forget time zones… When traveling across the country, it is really helpful to know when you will be crossing time zones and when they will be advantageous to the trip.  Also, there were parts of the trip where the time went back and forth as we crossed back and forth time zones, so that was fun (and confusing)
  • Look at blogs/websites/articles- Here are a few I recommend: For some roadside attraction ideas, tips, tricks, more tips and packing suggestions
  • Do your research! Not only is it fun to think about, it really helps maximize the trip. Decide what cities you want to stop in and consider what roadside attractions/food/activities would be fun.
  • But be flexible.   While we planned the majority of our stopping points along our itinerary we had enough room to stay flexible, which provided us great surprises like a singing musical revue steak dinner in Flagstaff, AZ or a live jazz performance at Preservation Jazz Hall in New Orleans. Don’t forget, it’s not just the destination…it’s also the journey. 🙂


  • Use packing cubes. I am convinced packing cubes are part fabric/part mesh/part witch craft magic! I can fit so much in them. Also… roll your clothes (don’t fold!)
  • Freeze water bottles. If you are going to bring a cooler, freeze water bottles rather than packing ice packs… once the water bottles have melted you can drink the water.
  • Use all available spaces… Use the spaces under the seats, in the glove compartment… we even hung bags on the backs of our seats to maximize vertical space.
  • Don’t forget extra chargers and batteries.
  • Prioritize! If you are like me you will pack more than you can bring/can fit in the car. Make sure you determine what are the Must-Haves and what items you can live without so that if you reach critical mass you don’t have to redo all your packed items.


  • Must have apps! Here are some that I recommend: Gas Buddy, Hotel Tonight, iExit, TVFoodMaps
  • Make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready. My car is 9 years old with well over 100,000 miles. As much as I love her, I didn’t want to risk her on this extensive drive. Tom’s car is stick shift (and I am a non-stick shift driver). We reasoned that a minivan from a rental company made the most sense for our trip.  It was incredibly reliable (virtually no mileage), nice and roomy and one less thing to worry about.
  • Snap a photo- Take photos of essential reservations, IDs and insurance cards. That way if you lose something you have it on your phone.
  • Figure out what you will use most. We learned quickly that if we put the stuff we would need each night in a place in our minivan that was easy to grab, it made for a much less chaotic load-in process at the hotel.

Saving Money

  • Bring your own food. On the few weeks before our trip, I scoured deals at the grocery store and bought snacks when they were on sale. We made sandwiches for lunch, had apples, breakfast bars and muffins for a quick breakfast on the road and lots of healthy-ish snacks packed.
  • Compare prices and shop around.
  • Ask for trip-related gifts… Our trip was right after the holidays. Knowing we had this trip we asked family and friends things that would benefit us for the trip like gas cards or cash
  • Invest in a National Park Annual Pass. If you plan to visit any National Parks, this is a great way to go… $80 for two people good for all National Parks and many National Landmarks and Monuments for a whole year!
  • Make a cash fund. I always like having cash for vacations. Try a savings challenge to jump start a cash fund for extra spending money on your trip.

Other Trip Essentials

  • Music is a must! Make new playlists and if you need some inspiration I found lots of road trip playlist recommendations like this or this
  • Audio Books. I rented a few audiobooks from my local library that I downloaded onto my phone for FREE using apps like Overdrive or Hoopla. I loved Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which was funny and entertaining, keeping me great company through the long drive of Texas. Here is another list of some good audio books to keep you going on long drives
  • Keep your car tidy. By Day 2 of the trip our rented Kia Sedona minivan felt less like a vehicle and more like our home. If you keep it cleaner, it will make you feel much less gross. We packed hand sanitizer and paper towels and set up a designated trash bag to toss all of our trash to keep the car clean.
  • Stay comfortable. You are going to do a lot of lounging/sleeping in the car. Pack blankets and pillows, and rock those sweatshirts and yoga pants like a champion.
  • Last but not least- HAVE FUN and ENJOY THE RIDE! 🙂