Lessons I Learned the Hard Way


Hello! Long post ahead. I don’t usually do these type of posts but I felt compelled to share some of my greatest diet and health lessons today.

I started this blog because I felt like I was a human science experiment of sorts. Well…I have learned a lot about health and nutrition along my journey and I want to kind of summarize my experience for anyone else who might be walking this same path.

Obviously I have many more lessons than this but I don’t want this post to get too long!

7 Diet & Nutrition Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

  1. There is no such thing as a perfect diet. 
    When I first became vegan I was quick to latch on to all the vegan spokespeople who preach veganism as the perfect diet and I really bought into it. I mean, I saw incredible benefits and it seemed to really be working for me for quite a while. And then I did the whole Paleo thing for a while because proponents of that diet say it’s the perfect diet. And honestly I did feel really great on the Whole30 (I just didn’t feel great beyond it). But it left me thinking, “who is really right?” The truth is, there is no such thing as a perfect diet because we are all so different and our dietary needs are all so different!
    I know, I know, you see the Vegan Triathletes that are just crazy fit and they say they can train hard because of their plant based diet. And then you see the super ripped paleo folks who say they look like that because of their diet. It never really occurred to me that those people would probably be super fit and ripped no matter what they ate. There will always be a small percentage of the population who can eat pretty much anything and look incredible.
  2. Carbs are really important.
    If you are a healthy, active person you need to be eating carbs, period. I’m not talking about eating crazy insane amounts of bagels like we did in the 90’s, I’m talking about healthy carbohydrates obviously. Low carb and grain free diets can be really helpful for people with insulin resistance and they certainly have their place. I don’t want to get too much into the science here, but what I want to say is, I see a lot of young, healthy, active people giving up carbohydrates just because going low carb has become mainstream and it really isn’t advisable for many people.
  3. Fat is really important but not eating too much fat is also really important.
    Fat matters. Just like everything else we put in our mouths, it ALL matters. I think fat is shedding its bad rap which is a good thing, but now I’m seeing things swing too far in the opposite direction. People are eating copious amounts of nuts and putting butter in their coffee thinking there won’t be any negative backlash and that’s simply not the case either! It all matters!
  4. You CAN have a protein deficiency.
    So many famous vegans preach about how “over protein-ed” we are in the U.S. and how nobody really gets protein deficiencies. This is false. I was vegan for a long time and I never tracked how many grams of protein I ate but I would estimate I probably never ate more than 60 grams of protein on any given day. This wasn’t nearly enough protein for my activity level which consisted of marathon training + strength training.
  5. Vitamins are a must no matter what diet you follow!
    Ahhh the great vitamin debate. It seems like everyone likes to say “I get my nutrients from my food” these days (I used to say this as well until tests revealed massive vitamin deficiencies). Well, good luck with that. The truth is, our soil is so nutrient depleted there’s no way we can get all out nutrients from food even if we are eating 10 pounds of vegetables a day. Also, the  “Recommended Daily Allowance” for vitamins and minerals is so we DON’T GET a deficiency. It’s not the dose we need to THRIVE and be at our OPTIMAL LEVEL. Sorry for the all caps here but I wish someone would have shaken me and been more stern with me on this one. But do you see there difference there? One level is just the basic minimum needed to survive, but we need much more to function optimally, especially if you are active. Dr. Hyman has great things to say about this topic if you are interested in doing more research.
  6. When it comes to your health, “Test Don’t Guess”.
    I haven’t written about my latest thyroid testing debacle, but the short version is, I got tired of guessing what was wrong and I took a list of tests I wanted to have run to my doctor and made him run them all! I lied and told him I was working with a dietitian who suggested I get all these tests done. He was very receptive to this and gladly ran all the tests, haha!! It revealed my thyroid was pretty low (very low in some aspects), but my DHEA levels were non-existent! I simply started taking a DHEA supplement and that got all my other levels back up to normal. There was no way I could have ever guessed that. So whatever issues you are having, get tested for it. If it’s stomach stuff, get tested. Don’t just assume you have too much stomach acid because it could be more than that.
  7. Quality water and food DO matter!
    I’ve written about water quality before and how I’m convinced it is what cleared up my acne, but I’m serious when I say clean water is important! There are so many contaminants in our drinking water and they simply don’t get filtered out with regular filtration systems like what we have in our refrigerators.
    Ditto for food quality. I was resistant to this one for a long time, simply because I didn’t have the money to spend on higher quality food. So you know what analogy I like to use? The home:body analogy (I made this one up and I’ve very proud of it)
    When people go shopping for a new home they will typically get approved for a loan and then go shopping for a house that is in the very top of their price range. People will calculate the monthly payments and buy as much house as they can afford because it is an investment. You see where I’m going with this? We spend our maximum budget on our homes and in some cases our cars/clothing/purses/shoes etc. But for some reason, when it’s time to buy fuel FOR OUR BODIES we buy the absolute cheapest food out there because it’s good ‘nuf. Just think about that one. Isn’t our health really our best investment? I certainly think so.

Alright, that’s all for now, I’ll try to think up some more hard lessons learned!



Protein Pancakes (protein powder free)

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for the last 3 months but I keep forgetting! I just came across the pictures in my phone which reminded me that I still hadn’t done it!

But first, a house update! The new house is almost done. In fact, we will be moving in one week exactly! I have started packing but there is still LOTS to do. It’s actually really stressful when I think about it.

I don’t really have any super good photos to post yet but I’m thinking once it’s finished maybe I’ll make a video and it will be just like MTV Cribs (my favorite show of all time btw). The whole house is pretty much done, they are just to the stage where they go through and clean and fix all the little things. It’s a big mess right now and everything is covered in a layer of dust so I didn’t take many pictures.

This is the main floor and I am most excited about the flooring! It was the biggest thing we splurged on. I really wanted this luxury vinyl plank flooring and it worked out that I was able to get it. It’s like laminate but it’s also waterproof and darn near indestructible. The color is gorgeous and it doesn’t look like plastic even though the name “vinyl” makes it sound like plastic. I’m stoked!

house pic

The house isn’t fenced yet so I think our first priority is getting some sort of temporary fencing and a dog door so Rocco can run free. OF COURSE the dog’s priority is #1! I mean let’s be real, who is this house for really?

On to the pancakes…

I have been experimenting with baking/cooking with protein powders a lot recently and let me just say, I have wasted approximately $500 worth of protein powder. I kid, I kid. But seriously, baking and cooking with protein powder is a bust. It doesn’t taste good and in the end it just wastes perfectly good protein.

So, I was excited to come up with a high protein pancake recipe that doesn’t use any protein powder! They have a great taste and texture and they are very easy to make. Perfect for weekends!

High Protein Pancakes
Makes 1 serving

  • 1/2 a ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons cottage cheese or greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground flax (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Place all ingredients in a blender (a magic bullet type device is clutch in this situation) and blend until smooth. Let the batter “rest” for approx 3 minutes to allow the batter to thicken up. Heat your pan over medium heat. Pour/scrape the batter into the heated pan. It will make 3-4 small pancakes. Flip once they start to bubble.

Top with pancake toppings of your choice (obviously).

I am the WORST at taking food pics. You know I made these pancakes after running 8 miles or something and I just wanted to sit down and eat so I snapped a picture really quick before they got cold. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I loathe cold food, especially if it is a food that’s supposed to be hot!