3 Book Reviews and a MAJOR change

The weekend is almost here friends! Just two more days of work to get through and then we’re packing up and heading to San Fran for the weekend! <–(Can you tell I’m excited for this?!)
Anyway, you might wonder what’s this major change that I’m referring to is…you’re just going to have to read on to find out!


One of my goals for 2012 was to read more, so today I wanted to share some reviews of books I’ve read lately. Originally, I was going to post about them individually, but I thought why not combine them into one giant review. Here goes!


After reading The Paris Wife back in January (which I loved), it inspired me to read something written by Ernest Hemingway. I decided to read The Sun Also Rises because that’s the book he’s writing during The Paris Wife. It took me a long time to get through this book, because honestly, his writing style just doesn’t hold my interest the way some author’s do. The book centers around a group of American ex-pat friends (well acquaintences might be more accurate) living in Europe, and the story takes place during the 1920’s. Much of the book is set in Pamplona, Spain where the group has come for this big festival and to watch the bull fights, and I think that’s a big part of the reason that I wasn’t super in to the story. The whole bullfighting thing just really doesn’t appeal to me, and Hemingway describes it in great detail. However, he’s more sparse with describing the storylines between the characters, and basically it seems like everyone in the group is in love with this one girl who’s there with them, Lady Brett Ashley. If you read The Paris Wife, you know that they make American artists in Paris in the 1920’s seem like they’re just drinking all the time, and this book is the same way. Basically people are just drunk and sad the entire story. The book basically describes the same tangled love triangle that occurred when the characters went to Spain in The Paris Wife. That’s not to say it’s a completely terrible story, and if you’re interested in reading something by Hemingway, it’s not a bad book. But for me, it just wasn’t one of those page turning novels that gripped my attention.


 The next book I read was a recommendation from one of my favorite bloggers, Jenna at Eat Live Run. She’s got great taste in books and I always get inspirations on what to read from her. She had the book How to Love an American Man by Kristine Gasbarre on her list of her favorite books from 2011 and I thought the description sounded interesting enough. The story is a memoir that follows the author as she moves back to her hometown after the death of her beloved grandfather and starts to help care for her widowed grandmother. I think a lot of people I know would be able to relate to Kristine; she’s smart, she’s gone to college, she’s lived in New York, she’s lived in Italy, and she’s dated many different guys. But now she’s in her late twenties, living at home, and trying to figure out her life. She ends up spending a lot of time with her grandmother who shares a lot of wisdom about love and the lessons that she learned in 60 years of marriage. What I loved about the story was the focus on the relationship between these two women, as it was really heart warming to see them grow and learn from one another. Kristine really has a lot of respect for her grandparents, and I think that’s a value that is all to often overlooked by today’s society. The whole Sex and the City psychobabble of trying to date like a man and all the relationship advice being doled out by Cosmo and the like today aren’t really the keys to a lasting relationship, and that’s what Kristine discovers through this book. I loved her writing style, and it’s one of those stories where I was actually sad when the book was over. I’d definitely check it out!

And finally, I just finished reading this:

I’m sure many of you have heard of the Paleo diet, as it’s become quite popular in the last year or two. Basically, the premise is that our bodies haven’t evolved to deal with the heavy grains/dairy diet of modern civilization and that we were actually designed to eat diet similar to our hunter-gatherer ancestors that consists of lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. I had heard a lot of talk about the Paleo diet, as it seems to be very popular with people who do Crossfit (something I’ve never done, but I know it’s supposed to be a great workout!). In the beginning of the year when Cam and I always seem to get all focused on wanting to be healthy, I mentioned something about the Paleo diet to Cam and I guess it must have sparked his interest because a few weeks later he ordered The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet from Amazon and read it cover to cover in two days. He decided that it was something that he wanted to try, and I’ll admit, I was supportive…but skeptical.
NO grains or dairy?
That means no bread, no cheese, no cookies, no ice cream, and basically none of the foods that bring a smile to my face. Ummm…I’m supposed to get on board with this? But Cameron was motivated to try eating this way because he sort of felt that he needed to make a little bit more of a drastic change than just cutting back on calories. Those of you who know my husband know that he’s a bigger guy. He’s 6’1” and he was an offensive lineman when he played football in high school, and so he’s never going to be some kind of waif. But he would like to slim down a little bit. The problem is, a lot of times he’d eat less than I would in a given day and not lose any weight. He’d used My Fitness Pal to get an idea of how many calories he was eating and even though he’d eat the recommended amount of a heavy grains/dairy diet, he’d pretty much stay the same size. He thought that changing what he was eating might be a good thing to try, and so he’s’ been pretty consistently eating a Paleo diet for the last month. And guess what? He’s lost over 20 lbs so far! It’s pretty incredible, and he seems to be feeling really good.

At first, I’ll admit I was very skeptical of this book/lifestyle. It just seemed SO extreme, and I tend to be very wary of anything like that. At the beginning of last month, I was like I’m totally fine eating Paleo-style dinners because that’s usually what we eat anyway (aka some type of meat with some type of vegetable), but as far as my diet for breakfast/lunch, I wasn’t really planning on changing anything. I really like my cereal/greek yogurt/granola/sandwiches/quesidillas/etc, and I figured I’d just keep that part of my diet the same. Cam definitely didn’t push me to do anything that I wasn’t comfortable with, and said it was fine for me to eat however I wanted, but he seemed really passionate about making these changes in his diet. He did encourage me to read this book so I could at least get a better understanding of the whole philosophy and why the Paleo diet thinks cutting out grains and dairy is important. So that’s what I did.

I’m not going to try to recap the entire book as it’s fairly long, but it’s also very interesting. It breaks down diet from an anthropological perspective as well as a biological perspective and really goes into great detail about the human body. Obviously nutritional research seems to point in a million different directions and I think that most of the time group studies that show certain foods being good or bad for you are crap. What I liked about this book is that it instead examined things from a cellular level so you can get a better understanding of how your body works. Then in makes a lot more sense why certain foods are great for you and others can actually be really damaging. The book talks about more than just food, but it also touches on exercise and the importance of sleep in overall health.  And he makes a very convincing case, while making the book light enough that it’s enjoyable to read. If you’re interested in finding out more about eating Paleo, I’d definitely suggest reading this book first as it will give you a lot of good information.

So where do I stand on the issue now? I am in agreement that most grains/most dairy products in stores today are really not good for overall health and so I am, in a sense, jumping on the Paleo bandwagon in terms of how I eat at home. Yes, it is a little extreme. But at the same time being bloated, carrying extra weight, and essentially just destroying your body with excess sugar isn’t exactly an appealing option when you think about it. A big motivator for me to cut out grains and dairy is my skin. I’ve always had oily, break-out prone skin and although I’ve tried different treatments, I know from experience that what I put into my body greatly affects how it looks. I’m tired of always having to wear concealer/foundation to cover up breakouts and I really want to see if making these changes in my diet will help clear things up in this area. So far, I’ve lost like 6 or 7 lbs in the past month, and I’ve noticed that I don’t feel as bloated as I did after the holidays. However, losing weight is not my primary motivation in trying out this way of eating (although it is nice). I just want to try not putting crappy-processed foods in my diet for awhile and see how it feels (aka the major change I was mentioning in the post title!).

I feel like the road to nutrition is a lifelong journey of constantly learning and figuring out what’s best for your body because I do believe that people are different and what works for some may not work for all. I still have much more research I want to do, and I’m not entirely convinced to cut out all grains and dairy forever, but I do think that they should be a much more limited part of your diet than the food pyramid makes them out to be. Regardless of how you feel about that, I think that pretty much everyone can agree that cutting out sugar and processed food out of your diet is a great thing, and I’m really happy that’s what we’re doing right now. I think there are a lot of great benefits that come from eating a Paleo diet, and while I’m not saying that I’m 100% Paleo, when we’re at home, Cam and I are both trying to follow this style of eating pretty closely. I’ve still been trying to finish up some of the dairy in the fridge, like my string cheeses and yogurts, but after that, I’m going to stop buying them for awhile and see how I feel. What I’ve loved is that in the past few weeks our fridge has been filled with colorful fruits and veggies, and we’re actually eating them all. I mean, we always bought fruits and vegetables before, but a lot of times we’d also get less healthy foods as well. And somehow the Nutella and ice cream would always get eaten every week, while the produce would sometimes spoil before we could get to it. Now that we’ve really cut out sweets at home, the amount of fruits and vegetables we’re going through has dramatically increased and I love it! We both have a sweet tooth though, so we have been indulging in a little bit of dark chocolate here and there, but it’s great to be able to eat a few small squares and be satisfied by that.

Now when we travel, that’s’ a little bit of a different story. We do travel quite a bit, so I can’t use every trip as an excuse to go buck wild and just eat whatever I want all day, everyday. Cam and I are both looking at things reasonably enough so that if we do go out of town and want to get ice cream or get something from a bakery, it’s ok. If we go back to France in the future, are we going to not eat any baguettes/brie/Nutella crepes? Umm no, we’ll definitely be indulging there (I mean it’s France…and also completely hypotheical as we have no plans to go there in the immediate future). If I travel, I want to try local specialities and enjoy myself through food. However, I want eating those things to be the exception, not the rule. Because we do travel so much, I really want to make sure what we’re eating at home is healthy, so that way we can indulge a little when we go out. This past Sunday, Cam and I got gelato after skiing and it tasted SO good. We both talked about how sweets taste so much better when you’re not eating them every single day, and you can be satisfied with a small instead of a medium or a large. It’s nice to be able to enjoy those things every once and awhile, but realize that you feel so much better without them.

So, that’s why you may have noticed a significant lack of baked goods here on the blog recently! I love to bake, so it’s not something I’m swearing off forever, I’ve just decided that I need to do a lot less of it for now. I’m still a human who loves chocolate chip cookies and I will be baking again in the future, but it just can’t be a twice a week thing like it’s been in the past. Cam and I both love sweets, so if I make a batch of brownies, we’ll end up eating them all between the two of us. And I’m not saying it’s wrong to have a brownie once and awhile, but do I need to be consuming half a pan on a regular basis? No, I don’t. I realize this post is already epically long and if you’re actually still reading, I applaud you. I just try to be as open and honest as possible here on my blog about what’s going on in my life, which is why I wanted to share where I’m at with all of you. I will be featuring some Paleo-style recipes over the next few weeks, and I’m excited about these healthy changes! Xoxo

PS: Speaking of books, while I was reading Cam’s Paleo book, I suggested he read the Hunger Games…and he actually did! He got through the first book in like a day because he was so into it, which I thought was hilarious. Now he’s just as excited as I am to go see the movie! Yay for reading 🙂



  1. March 8, 2012 / 2:18 pm

    You've definitely sparked my interest with the Paleo book! I may have to read that! I've got a secret: Derek was actually the first one to read the hunger game series!! He liked it so then I read it haha. I agree, it makes it more exciting to both want to go and see the movie!

  2. March 8, 2012 / 4:02 pm

    You've peaked my interest with "How to love an American man." Good luck with your new diet!

  3. March 8, 2012 / 4:29 pm

    oh wow, I've said this before but we have such similar taste in books. I read The Sun Also Rises right after the Paris Wife too! I read the Paris Wife coincidently around the same time as you but read the other one because you had mentioned you thought it would be a good compliment. I agree on the writing style…it was hard to follow at times but I love a good classic. I've just added the other two to my good reads and will be checking them out of the library soon! I have read lots of books about the current american diet like Dangerous Grains, Fast Food Nation, and Michael Pollen books. They are so interesting! And as for my interest in classics I just read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! I really need to do another bookshelf post soon like I used to do. anyway, I love your book posts since we have such similar taste!

  4. March 8, 2012 / 6:32 pm

    Great reviews! I'm super intrigued by the Paleo diet…something my husband should look into! And then maybe me after the baby is born! Super interesting! Can't wait to hear about SF!

  5. March 8, 2012 / 8:10 pm

    Wow – So impressed with the new change! I have to admit, I'm a milk-a-holic so I don't think I could live without dairy, and I tend to lean toward the vegetarian side of things, so I definitely have a lot of go to grains for protein. Does the book speak against grains like quinoa that are very protein-rich? I've had some friends dabble with the Paleo diet, but I don't know a ton about it.

  6. March 9, 2012 / 12:30 am

    I'm impressed with your change girl! And I think I'm going to have to put that book from ELR on my list 🙂

  7. March 9, 2012 / 1:40 am

    that paleo book is super interesting- i'll have to look into it. i know myself and there is no way in heck i could give up cheese- nu-uh, but cutting back on grains and other dairy could be interesting to try- hope it goes well!!

  8. March 9, 2012 / 9:58 am

    I must have been living under a rock or something, but this is the first time I've heard of the paleo diet and it sounds really interesting (although I have heard that grains are dairy aren't very good for our bodies). You should start a series with paleo breakfast and lunch recipes – I would love to try this diet out!


  9. March 10, 2012 / 7:59 pm

    loved your input on the paleo diet. i've been wanting to try it for a while now, but like you said, it just seemed so extreme ( even though I already eat very close to what it calls for) I'm leaning towards trying it for a little while. I guess we'll see how it goes! xo


  10. March 13, 2012 / 4:52 am

    Totally ditto to the person who said "I must have been living under a rock or something because I've never heard of the paleo diet." Interesting concept. I'm totally going to go on a googling spree now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *