4 Baby Gifts Not Found On A Registry

These days, girls' night out conversations usually have several common topics: being OVER work, the latest issue of Southern Living and Garden & Gun, and last but definitely not least-BABIES.

Everywhere I turn, I somehow get pulled into conversations about babies. I typically smile and nod and just pray that someone changes the subject. Not because I don't like babies (believe me I LOVE THEM), but because I don't have any of my own, so I don't have much to add to the conversation.

Regardless, all my friends are having them now, so I've had to come up with multiple gift ideas recently. I try to avoid registries if at all possible, unless its someone who is starting from scratch and then they get the typical fancy bottle set with a case of diapers.  I find that the one of a kind gifts are more my speed, so today I'm sharing a few Etsy finds that I think make fabulous gifts!

 This has to be the sweetest little bunny rabbit I've ever laid eyes on.  This vendor has several others to choose from, but I loved this one especially.
 If I could crochet, I would totally make this my go to gift. A total labor of love.  Crocheted baby blankets are insanely beautiful!
 My mom's childhood neighbor gave her a silver cup for each of her babies. She still has these in her china cabinet. I think they are the sweetest gift that last a lifetime...one that nobody thinks to give. Impractical, yes...but such a fun gift!
I couldn't resist myself when I stumbled upon these!  There are lots of patterns to choose from, but these little gators on seersucker just stole my heart.

Drugstore Beauty Finds

When you're a girl on a budget like me, you learn how to stretch a paycheck so that you can still afford social outings like wine nights and dinner at your favorite restaurant.  

One way you can really cut corners without regrets is by saying hasta luego to the department store makeup and hello to Target's makeup section. I'm here to tell you that there are SO many options that nobody would ever know are from the drug store.

Recently, I've found a few items that really pass the test, so without further adieu, here are a few items that I'm really loving!

NYX Blush in "Pinched"  This is VERY similar to NARS "Orgasm" with just a bit more color to it. In my opinion, the cult classic doesn't provide enough color, so I love that this is the same shade with what seems to be a more concentrated pigment. It really does give that nice flushed "just worked out" look.

Maybelline Fit Me Foundation I really LOVE this stuff. For the past few months, I've been using the Fit Me Shine eliminating foundation stick. This was really nice for when it was humid and hot out but now that its going to be colder and dryer, my complexion is going to need a bit more help. I am a sucker for the dewy skin look and this is the perfect way to get it. It isn't heavy like most liquid foundations and from what I've found, a little bit goes a long way (translation: serious budget find) and it lasts all day. I'm pale so I wear Buff Beige 130.

Maybelline DreamLumi Touch Highlighting Concealer NOT to be confused as a concealer alternative, this is the perfect highlighter. Use this once you've completed your face makeup routine. If you're into contouring, this is amazing for the bridge of your nose and corner of your eyes.

Revlon ColorStay Longwear Nail Enamel Seriously a game changer. Make your at home manicure stretch out for at least a week. This top coat makes your nails look like they have gel-shiny and strong. BUY IT NOW!!

Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Suede Lipstick I'm really into matte lipsticks right now. I feel like they aren't as over the top as a bright gloss.  This lipstick really stands the test of time. I bought "Trendsetter" because its a gorgeous raspberry red color. I highly recommend this!

NYX Matte Lipstick Another Matte Lipstick I love. This one I bought in "Pale Pink" for that nude lip look. Very early 2000's Kate Moss if you ask me.

Calling all bloggers: Help me decorate my living room

I've confessed this several times before and I'll confess it again: I'm a habitual re-decorator. Hi, my name is Rachel and I have a decorating addiction.

Whew! There-got that off my chest.

I'll make this brief. I am at the point of disgust with my living room and desperate for a change.  Desperate, I say. And this is where I need any and all advice you have to give.

Here is the current state of my living room. Madison and Hudson are really big into posing for the camera, as you can see.

For the most part, the bones are in place. The sofa, coffee table, chair , lamps, art...they all have to stay. The side tables are eventually going to live in my brother and sister in law's house (hope you still want these Kristen) since they just don't work in this space.

So here's the breakdown of what needs to be done:
-Fill in the spaces on each side of the sofa where the tables currently are situated.
-Add in a few pieces on the walls to help balance it out.
-re-style the sofa table behind the sofa. Those empty frames aren't cutting it and could be used elsewhere in the room somehow.

Sounds like its not that tall of an order, but believe me when I tell you that it is. I've tossed and turned on what to do here and honestly can't decide for the life of me.

A few ideas I've had:
-Bookshelves on the right side of the sofa (the left end of this picture) styled with books (obviously), trinkets, plants and art.
-a mini console or buffet table on the left side of the sofa (the middle/right side of this picture)-not sure if I want an antique wood piece or metal base with white stone or glass top.
-Make things less symmetric (perhaps I don't need a matching set of teal lamps, one might be just what I need)

What I like about this room:
-the location of the sofa, coffee table and chair
-the white drapes (really want more white up in here)

-a brighter feel (translation more white/cream/etc-there's too much dark wood going on in here)
-a put together/collected look
-more on the walls (a gallery wall isn't an option since I already have one across from this wall)-perhaps some sconces?

And here is the ultimate challenge:
This has to be done on a VERY strict budget. Like under $150. I know-the worst.

Here's where YOU come in:
Lay your suggestions on me. Whatever you have, I need it!

In case you're curious what my ideal style is, you can see it here with photos from Danielle's Chicago apartment tour on The Everygirl.    

And for any of you readers that never comment...here's where I would LOVE to hear from you.  I can't wait to hear what you think I should do!!

Bar Cart Essentials

Let's get one thing clear.  Bloggers like to drink.

Either that or we love the idea of a gorgeous bar that awaits guests at any given time.

I'm not going to lie-I have a fully stocked bar. It isn't styled like I would like, so we'll skip it's picture for today. And you better believe that the moment anyone comes over, that's the first thing they head for-the booze.

I think it really emphasizes to guests that you want them to feel welcome in your home when you have all the fixings for a cocktail readily available.

So today, we're going to walk through the basics of a bar so that your guests can treat themselves in your home.

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 We'll start with what your finished product should look like.  Let the dissection begin.

First and foremost, you have to start with a really pretty bar. It can be your classic bar cart (like the one seen below, which is from Target, by the way!), or you can really venture off course like I did and use an unexpected piece of furniture. I used a baby changing table. Weird-I know. But it actually is the PERFECT size for what I needed.
Keep in mind that when you're selecting your bar, you need to remember how much booze you plan to store.  Are you going for a simple look with a few options? That works just as well, but we all have those friends that have their minds made up about what they need to make their favorite cocktail. The idea is to have everything on hand ready to be served. The last thing you want is the classic, "hey do you have any....?" In my opinion, it should all be right there so that means less time for me to have to play bartender.

The next thing to consider are the essentials. These are items like the bar utensils, ice buckets, decanters and glasses.  You don't want to overwhelm the bar with these guys, but if you have the necessities, you should be good to go. Remember, the idea is to make your life easier!

 I really like this ice bucket. It is simple and sleek and there's just something to be said about that. At $30, you really can't beat a deal like that. I also LOVE the look of a crystal ice bucket, but those can be more expensive. If you're on a strict budget, save your funds for the booze-that's what people pay attention to, anyway.
 This copper shaker is to die for. I like the idea of mixing colors and textures when it comes to bar essentials. Go for that collected look. Nothing is worse than a house that looks like you went to a few stores in one day and maxed out your credit card. I've said it before and I'll say it again- the difference between a house and a home are the items inside. A house has the necessities, a home has all the unique items that each have a story. This is the look you're going for!

Ahh the classic wedding registry gift. We all can spot this from a mile away. As cliche as it is, you'll be glad you have it on hand when you're trying to make a fancy schmancy cocktail.  And for all you single ladies out there, who said you have to wait on a wedding to buy yourself a little something fun like this? Go for it!  P.S. You married ladies out there, take note. Your single girlfriends have spent countless dollars on wedding gifts through the years. I can attest to this. There were many times I dined on PB&J's for weeks so that I could buy that $150 dinner plate for my friends.  It wouldn't hurt to give them a little happy like this every now and then. They have to build their kitchens on their own without a registry. You think about that :).
 Let's get some texture up in here. With decanters, you can throw caution to the wind and mix and match. All shapes, sizes and designs look fabulous, if you ask me.


Now you know you can never have enough glasses. The key is to cover your bases. Nothing says you have to have the traditional glasses, but it is nice to have a mix of shapes and sizes. And while you're mixing things up, go ahead and start an eclectic collection. I'm ALWAYS on the lookout for vintage and modern finds. My favorite places to look are Anthropologie, West Elm, World Market & Antique Shops.

Now let's talk about the accessories. You don't walk out of the house without your jewelry, why would you serve cocktails without the fun stuff that goes with it?

For starters, you know you have to have cocktail napkins. If you ask me, a cocktail napkin should not be disposable when you are serving from a fancy bar like this.  Sure, if you're hosting a big party with cheapo wine glasses, go for it. Although, I must say that I truly despise the tacky cocktail napkins with the snarky comments. They are the worst.   I would much prefer to see a nicely pressed, embroidered linen cocktail napkin, like so.
 And if you think you can serve your guests a bunch of delicious drinks without something for them to snack on, you are clearly a novice at this. That's okay, we're going to help you avoid that disaster.  On your bar, you will be so glad to have 1 or 2 small bowls filled with snacks. You can't go wrong with mixed nuts or chocolates.

I actually have the bowl below and I get compliments on it all the time.
 I love this little bottle opener. It is only $6, so go to World Market and stock up on these. They would make for perfect hostess gifts tied around a bottle of wine, just saying.

And there you have it- the essentials of the bar cart. Now, keep in mind you will obviously need to stock your bar with the wine, liquor, mixers, etc. that you like.  I keep a nice selection of red and white wine because most of my girlfriends prefer wine to mixed drinks. 

Also, you'll want to have the following on hand:
-Bourbon or Whiskey
-Tonic Water
-lemons and limes
-any mixers you prefer

Drink up!!

Read This: It Is Time For You To Relax

Listen up, ladies.  Today is going to be a real one. 

I'm tired. Like really really tired. 

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Amanda in "The Holiday" hit the nail on the head for how I feel today.

"I need to get out of town. You know, I think I need some peace and quiet... or whatever it is people go away for. You know what I really want to do? I want to eat carbs without wanting to kill myself. You know, I want to read a book! Not just a magazine, an actual book. For years I read those reviews, I buy the books but I never read them. Did you read that article in the New York Times last Sunday? Severe stress makes women age prematurely because stress causes the DNA in our cells to shrink until they can no longer replicate. So when we're stressed we look haggard. This is just women not men.  And remember when they used to say that single women over the age of 35 were more likely to get killed by a terrorist than to get married? Okay, that was horrible but now our generation is also not getting married and, bonus!, real terrorists actually became part of our lives. So the stress of it all shows up on our faces making us look haggard!"

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 Preach, Amanda, preach!  I DO want to eat carbs and not feel incredibly guilty.  In fact, I'ld like to have that Brie & Bacon Grilled Cheese with Fig Jam. I dream of scouring the incredible Cheese selection my farmers market offers and throwing caution to the wind. I'ld love to be able to eat this exact sandwich without the guilt and stomach pains that follow.
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 But the truth is, I really just need a getaway. You know, the kind where you let your spirit unwind and the stress slowly melts away. Yes, I have enough spare time that I shouldn't be complaining, but I can't fight the feeling that I just need a few days that are full of the little luxuries.
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Luxuries like overindulging in gorgeous flowers that make the room smell heavenly.

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 And steaming hot coffee served in a fluffy bed with starched sheets and magazines galore scattered everywhere. Candles burning, morning sun pouring in, fan on high. Doesn't that sound heavenly?

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The point is, it doesn't take a lavish vacation to get the break you need. All it takes is a bit of preparation so that you can spend a Saturday morning soaking up the little luxuries life has to offer.

So if you could use a Saturday morning in bed, stock up today on those must haves like Coffee (a day like this really deserves French Press, if you ask me),  all of your favorite magazines, fresh flowers (I really am partial to an all white bouquet-they have such a calming effect), a few candles (I'm partial to vanilla scents for mornings like this ) & some oversized PJ's (my favorite sets are from Target-relaxation on a budget).  Be sure you make your bed with freshly washed sheets the night before and clear your calendar. This is your time.

5 Links to Extra Fabulous Blog Posts

I start every day with a cup of hot coffee and 30 minutes on the iPad perusing the blog world. I end the day doing the same (except with a glass of wine).  What that means is I see A LOT of really fabulous content out there on a daily basis. If you want to stay inspired, the blog world is the perfect place to do just that.

I've been meaning to share a few things that I thought are above and beyond the usual blog content you can find.

A blogger gets real

A friend and I joke that the blog world is all unicorns and glitter, but we're convinced that there is more to life than peonies and macaroons. It's true. We all have so much more to offer than your typical post written through Rose Colored Glasses. Which is exactly why I LOVED reading this post. Not because she is going through a rough time but because she is so honest. We've all been there. So link up, ladies. It's past time we "stop being polite and start being real."

How to care for Cast Iron

Shoutout to my girl, Natalie. This chick can cook like a grandma but has the wit and technical know how I could only dream of.  I LOVED her post of caring for Cast Iron. In the south, Cast Iron skillets are a staple of every home and I was so glad Natalie devoted a whole post to this.

Secret of a Stylist-Emily Henderson

Emily Henderson is by far one of THE most talented interior designers out there. Her feature on The Everygirl was right up my alley. I am obsessed with constantly "styling" my place so I was drooling over this feature.

 You've most likely heard of this, but if you haven't, do yourself a favor and start a new addiction. This blog is intoxicating, regardless of your marital status.
Fourty Days of Dating

How to make one VERY fabulous Headboard

Isn't that the most gorgeous bed you've laid your eyes on in quite a while? If you're handy enough, you can make one for yourself.

5 Must Haves For Your Fall Wardrobe

You remember that episode of Sex And The City where Carrie waxes poetically about that very first hint of fall? It seems that we always get little teases around this time of year but they only stay for just a bit and then we're back in the upper 80's.  

Regardless, that crisp fall morning air always gets me pumped to pull out all things fall.  Boots get dusted off, long sleeve blouses are moved out from the bottomless pit of the back part of the closet and I have a nice little visit with all the items I haven't seen in a while (sometimes discovering items I didn't even know were mine).  

So this fall, I'm going to be more selective of items I add to the wardrobe. Take a look at what has made it to the top of my list.

 These Sweater Tights are such a good price, I want several colors.  These are perfect for layering. I'm imaging these with a chambray dress with an oversized sweater and scarf.
I typically add a few signature sweaters each year from Anthropologie and these would be a perfect choice, if you ask me.

Really love this necklace. I think it is long enough that you could also layer another necklace in there for an unexpected look.

This HAS to become mine asap!  Add this to the everyday staples and I think this Madewell bracelet will be worth every penny!

Let me say this. I am NOT a fan of Toms. I think they are so fugly. I said it. Yep. BUT I am a fan of these Suede wedges. I would wear these with skinny jeans and a longer shirt-about as boho as I'll get.

3 Budget Friendly Decorating Items

Happy Monday! I hope you enjoyed your weekends. If you're like me, you spent the majority of Saturday parked on the sofa, watching College Football.  In my opinion, there really isn't anything much better than that.

As you already know, I am obsessed with decorating my place, making sure I stay VERY budget conscious. Hey, there is NO SHAME in decorating on a budget. In fact, I think it makes the process more interesting, ultimately resulting in a home that was developed over time. Pieces collected here and there are what makes a house a home, if you ask me. The key is always keeping your eyes peeled for things you love and if the price is right, snagging them up. You may not have that item on your list, but I can promise you, you'll find something to do with your purchases.

Today, I'm sharing 3 pieces that I'm really loving right now.
This Parsons Console Table is a gorgeous shade of blue/gray and only $119. Yes, that number is correct. I can see this functioning in so many ways (Entry Way Table, Sofa Table, TV stand, Bar, Bedside Table.).

 These barstools are too good. Another Ikea project that I have added to my list! Just buy a can of gold spray paint to jazz the legs up and BOOM, you have got some seriously stylish barstools.
Santa are you listening? I would LOVE to have this print. It's only $20 and I could easily find a frame for it.  I'm just saying.

Seen on my iPhone

Cheers to the weekend. I'm going to work on a few posts for the week so we can have a bit more consistent content on here.  In the meantime, have a look at a few things seen recently on my phone.

 Yep. This is what I like to call "the daily staples." You will very rarely catch me without my watch and these two Alex and Ani bracelets.  I love them because they stack so nicely with other bracelets, making for a very nice arm party.
 I was supposed to host wine night earlier this week. Since I just couldn't think of something quick, easy & healthy to make, we opted for going out to a fabulous Paleo friendly restaurant. The gelato shop in the back, however, wasn't on our list of allowed foods. Trust me, I would have LOVED to do a nice little sampler of all those gorgeous options.
 Manicures have been my vice for years and years. For the past few years, I've been a gel girl through and through.  I liked knowing that I could get in and out of the salon in under and hour and not worry about smudged paint or chipping paint a few days later. Unfortunately, I was spending an amount I'm ashamed to admit to which was cutting into my monthly budget.  Since I just bought a new car, I've had to make cuts here and there and the weekly nail salon manicures were the first to go. Believe it or not, cutting this almost pays half the monthly car payment. I know-terrible. So I've decided to do them myself.  While they won't be perfect, my nails are just as pretty all thanks to that little miracle worker in the back of this picture. Revlon's Color Stay Gel Shine Top Coat is seriously where its at. GO BUY IT NOW!
 Every now and then, I cheat and eat a non-paleo meal. Yesterday was a cheat day, so I opted for the most delicious sandwich I've ever had. Roasted Pork, lettuce, Swiss, Peach Chutney, Honey Mustard and pickles. Good NESS it was worth it 100%!!
 After hour cocktails at a Mexican restaurant can be very tricky for this Paleo convert. Everyone was chowing down on cheese dip and tacos with their margaritas and I spent a few extra minutes combing the menu searching for SOMETHING I could have. I'm happy to report that I was over-pleased with my selection-Pineapple Bacon Guacamole. Skip the chips, you don't need them. Just scoop it up with a fork and you will be happy you did. This has to be so easy to make and I love how filling it was.

 I just went to my favorite antique shop and this box of gold flatware was STILL there-taunting me. I've had my eye on it for months. One of these days, I'm biting the bullet. One day.
 I did, however, score these two beauties for a price that almost makes me feel guilty. At $5 a pop, these two framed watercolors came home with me and I couldn't be more excited about having them here.
And finally, I recently discovered this grilling sauce. I marinated a few pork chops in this for the day and then baked them and I SWEAR they were the most amazing pork chops of my life! Such a great flavor for fall, if you ask me.

Paleo Progress

Well hello there! You must have thought I forgot about you.  
To put it lightly, I haven't had a spare moment until now to update this here, blog.
But I'm here now with a post that you may or may not have any interest in.

A friend reminded me today that I need to do a Paleo update for everyone.
I'm still riding the Paleo train and to be honest, I'm not sure if I'll ever jump off completely.
This is seriously the first "diet" I've stuck with. And believe me, I've tried most of them out there.
So before I share too many details, lets have a look at what I like to call progress.

I started Paleo a little less than 3 months ago (that's still hard for me to believe). If you're new to this story, I decided to take pictures along the way to serve as a documentation tool for my progress. All my prego friends are doing it to watch their bellies grow. This Tina is doing it to watch her belly shrink!

This little collage was the first month of Paleo. It was where I really saw "quick results" When you look at it on a week-by-week basis, you can see subtle changes. I joke that fat likes to migrate around before it disappears. One week, the hips look to have shrunk and then next week, they're a tad fuller but the waist has lost a few. It really is funny to me how that works. Maybe it is just me that this happens to.

Fast forward to today where I'm almost at the 3 month mark...

So what has changed, you ask?
Oh, dear friend, soo soo much!

For starters, I'm down a solid 20 lbs.
TWENTY pounds!
And I can honestly say that was ALL diet, NO additional exercise.

My clothes don't fit anymore. LITERALLY.  I have very few pants that I can't pull off when they're fully buttoned and zipped.

I sleep so much better now and wake up energized.

For about a year, my upper back was ALWAYS in pain. I would do stretches all the time but nothing helped. I realized the other day that I couldn't remember the last time it hurt.

And in the course of one month, my blood pressure has dropped ten points. TEN.

So if you're still reading and possibly considering a lifestyle change like this, I'll share a few questions I get asked quite frequently.

1. Isn't Paleo expensive to maintain?
Yes and no. Think about how much money you spend on food. How much of that is prepared at home versus at a restaurant? If you are like how I used to be, I ate almost every meal out. It was quick and easy and honestly, I was lazy and wanted instant gratification. But the truth is, those meals add up so fast! Ten dollars here, eight there...I was spending around $15/day just on eating out. That adds up to $105/week. And then there were the groceries I bought weekly that added another $50 in the pot for simple things like granola bars, coffee, creamer, cereal and a few other random items that usually perished before I ate them. With Paleo, you buy FRESH FRESH FRESH.  And you buy only what you can eat before things go bad. So you're forced to really think about what you need because who wants to go to the grocery store every day? Not me. This really leads to meal planning and you end up with precise lists. Translation: I spend a little less than I did before.

2. How do you live without cheese and bread?
Believe me, there has never been anyone who loved these two things more than I did (and still do).  Every year at Thanksgiving when it was my turn to say what I'm thankful for, my answer was ALWAYS "cheese." Yep-I couldn't get enough of it. And bread-that was my weakness for sure.  But I made up my mind that I would at least see if I could live without it and if living without it meant feeling better. I'm here to tell you that there is a direct correlation with these two items and how I feel. I've cheated a few times and literally within 20 minutes, I felt awful. Stomach hurting, headache, tired, nauseous...all because of these two precious items. Let me say this, I don't enjoy feeling that way. So much that I don't miss eating bread or cheese. Do I walk by the lavish cheese selection at the market and get a bit frustrated? Absolutely! Would I just LOVE to have pizza for dinner? YES PLEASE! But it honestly isn't worth it in my book.

3. No Dairy? What about the calcium you need?
Believe it or not, eating fresh fruits and veggies alone will provide you with most of the nutrients you need to stay healthy. Calcium is found in many different food choices, not just milk items.

4. Do you miss the junk food?
NO! I honestly don't. There's been several times that I've eaten food that falls into the junk category and after a bite I realized that it really isn't that much better than healthy options.  When you know that the food you're putting into your body is healthy and providing it with the nutrients it actually needs, you get a mental satisfaction that is actually greater than the satisfaction that comes from eating fries or cake.

5.  Isn't it hard to maintain that strict of a diet and go to dinner with friends?
Initially, yes.  When your friends are chowing down on yummy sandwiches and you're eating a salad, there are definitely moments of pity that you have to deal with.  BUT, there is also that thought process in the back of my mind that reminds me "a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips." Ten minutes after eating bad food, you can't take that back. You're not still thinking about how great that meal was. You're focused on something else at that point. That moment of pity you feel is temporary.  The key is staying prepared. If I know I'm going to dinner with friends. I load up on healthy snacks prior, perhaps a small handful of almonds and an apple. And then I typically research the restaurant before going to know what my options are.  I went to lunch with my Dad yesterday and it was tough to find something on the menu that I could have, but I did it. Ordering fish tacos (no sauce) and not eating the tortillas is exactly what I did and didn't feel deprived at all.  My friends have been so gracious and encouraging to me that they'll even try to suggest places that have healthy options.

6. Do you ever cheat?
Sometimes!  When I had a horrible day a few weeks ago, I threw the towel in and ordered wings with fries and a beer. It was good, but I felt guilty immediately.  A lot of work goes into this lifestyle and I know that I want to see progress. I know that a meal like this isn't going to get me to my goal so it wasn't worth it if you ask me. But yes, there are times when I cheat. I didn't allow this until I finished the initial 30 day cleanse. It takes that long to rid your body of the toxins found in processed foods. After that, you don't crave chocolate or chips. I'll allow myself to go off course maybe once a week. It keeps my sanity in check and reminds me that staying healthy is a much better option.

7.  Aren't you always hungry?
The first week-YES! Oh my gosh I was ravenous! I would eat some chicken and 1 hour later my stomach would be growling. This is the grain detox talking! A lot of people describe this initial phase to be similar to that of the flu because you just feel so tired and gross. But after that first week, my stomach size shrank and would stay full for longer. If you're considering Paleo, expect the first week to be very hard. But also know that it gets much better!

8.  How do you travel and eat healthy?
This is a hard one!  I'm still working on this if I'm being completely honest.  I always have snacks on hand with me, especially if I'm in the car on a road trip. I typically keep a Lara Bar with me and sometimes almonds and fruit.  Oh and then its an absolute requirement to keep a lot of water on hand. This seems to help as well.

9.  What happens when you reach your goal weight?
I didn't do Paleo simply to lose weight. Yes, I needed to shed a few LB's but the goal was really more about taking control of my health. The food you put into your body is so powerful in how you feel now and in the future. I'm pushing 30 now and from what I'm told, "its all downhill from here" when it comes to your health.  I figured that if I take control now, I can prolong or prevent so many health issues simply by eating healthy foods. So when I get to my goal weight, I'll be ecstatic. But it doesn't mean I can jump off the wagon and go back to eating fast food frequently. I like the healthy options now. I don't think I would want to change what I eat even with the waist size of my dreams.

10.  Are you counting calories?
Absolutely not! That's the beauty of Paleo! You can eat whatever you want and however much you want as long as the food comes from the list of approved options. The truth is, you're never really hungry!  I rarely eat much for dinner anymore. It's typically a spoon full of coconut milk ice cream (German Chocolate) to reward myself for completing the day and maybe some chicken.

11. What DO you eat?
LOTS and LOTS of fruits, salads, lean meats & nuts.  Right now, I really love pork chops. They're lean and so easy to cook!

12.  Why Paleo and not other diets?
For me, I liked the idea of no processed foods. No chemicals, no genetically altered items for this girl. I also like the idea that I don't have to worry about counting calories or reading nutrition facts to see how much I can have. I know what I can and cannot eat and it is so easy to do! I needed a lifestyle change, so a trendy diet wasn't going to cut it for me.

13.  How do you say no to something tempting?
Sometimes this is hard. I'm human, it happens. Over Labor Day weekend, my mom had all kinds of goodies up at our lake house. These didn't taunt me, but one thing did: a Layered Ice Cream Dessert. It looked amazing and everyone was raving about it. But I came prepared with my favorite Coconut Milk Ice Cream and I prepared a bowl of this while they chowed down on the other dessert. Overcoming that temptation was so gratifying, let me tell you! For me, its very mental. I sometimes have to talk myself through the temptation. "Rachel, if you eat this, how are you going to feel? You know that in 15 minutes you will feel sick. Is it worth it?"  Yesterday, I texted a friend and said "Talk me off the ledge. I'm really considering Zaxby's for dinner." I hadn't had enough to eat that day so the temptation was really strong. My friend encouraged me to say no and reminded me what my goal is and how hard I've been working to get there. Accountability is everything! Enlist all your friends and family to do this for you!

14. Dairy can't be bad for you. I just don't buy it!
Well I wouldn't say that dairy is BAD for you. I would just say that it really isn't good for you.  You know those pesky 5-10 lbs you just cannot get rid of? Try cutting dairy out and see what happens! Dairy causes bloating from my experience. Cutting out dairy is the difference of those jeans that are a tad too snug that you have to really work to get zipped up and those same jeans slipping on effortlessly and not having a little roll over. You know what I'm talking about-be honest!

15. I don't need to lose weight. Is Paleo an option for me?
First of all, cry me a river. You are naturally a perfect size. We all hate you!  Not really, but you should be grateful that you have a naturally high metabolism. The problem is, your weight isn't the only indicator of a healthy body. If you read my stats from my last physical, you would see that I am perfectly healthy in all regards. I like to think of Paleo as preventative medicine. You cannot go wrong with cutting out processed foods. You know that an apple is a much better choice than a few Oreos. The idea is to fuel your body with clean options. You don't want to put crappy gasoline into your brand new luxury car do you? Why would you want to put crappy fuel into your body? You can't trade it in for a new on in a few years, so take care of it!  Weight loss may not be a goal for you, which is fine.  Cutting out the junk doesn't mean you'll drop the amount that I have. I needed to drop that weight, so the healthy foods are helping to make that happen. Your body will tell you what it needs, I promise. If you notice a drop in weight, then add in more fruit and protein and pull back a bit on the greens.
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