A few weeks 7 months ago I shared my word for 2016: STOP.  Well now I have another word to go right along with it: CONTEXT.  Between you and me I think I like this second word even better than the first.  The more I use “CONTEXT” the less I have to remember to STOP.  Context: what you see is not always what you get.

After spending the last 7 months year perusing the interwebs in search of health truths in order to fix WTF is was wrong with me it’s become clear to me that one of the biggest reasons that we’re all so horribly confused about what the right way to eat is, what works and what doesn’t, and what is truly healthy in the food department, is that there is an almost complete lack of context.  I blame Twitter (somewhat).  You just cannot adequately explain anything in 140 characters (unless you’re Ted Naiman, in which case a few words on a meme can replace an entire book) so you’re left to use keywords which regularly impart some of the truth, a little of the truth or exactly none of the truth.

Add to that the love of bait-and-click headlines by anyone who stands to earn a cent off of your arriving on their website, the marketing ‘gurus’ and shills who take anything out of context to get a sale (often touted as The Silver Bullet), plus our absurdly sensationalist media who will say anything to get you to push that link.  The other side of the context coin is people taking snippets – or in trendier terms soundbites – from an article which can then be entirely misunderstood or misconstrued once they are removed from the entire piece.  And unless you listen to or read the entire piece it’s highly likely that you’ll walk away with the wrong end of the stick. To your detriment.  And often to someone else’s gain.

So without context what do we end up with?  An entire world full of people who wouldn’t know what was truly healthy if their life depended on it.  Which is the sad, sad irony in all this: our lives DO depend on it.  Context: what you see is not always what you get.  One of my favorite people on Twitter is Bill Lagakos, partly because he is such a huge fan of context.  I think he must use #context more than anyone else in the Twitterverse.  I do believe that a lot of context is lost merely through lack of time and space rather than a conscious attempt to mislead people.  A lot of tweets and soundbites are shared with all the right intent, but the fact remains that folks can easily walk away with the wrong idea.  I am not saying that lack of context is necessarily deliberate.  I am just saying that it happens all the time and it is adding mightily to the swirling mists of dietary confusion.

Here’s just a few examples of stuff we see every day online:

  • You have to eat fat to lose fat.
  • Calories don’t count.
  • Carbs make you fat.
  • Eat more to get thin.
  • Eat as much as you want and lose weight.
  • Lose weight without giving up all the foods you crave.
  • Vitamin [insert letter here] will [insert benefit here].
  • Butter makes your pants fall off.
  • To lose weight eat more fat.
  • Eat less, move more.
  • Eat more, exercise less.
  • Calories in, calories out.
  • LowCarbHighFat
  • Too much protein makes you fat
  • Raspberry ketones for fat loss

Now some of these are just plain wrong, but I’ve another post lined up for those and their click-bait cousins.  Today I just want to wax lyrical about context, because if you take the above bullet points at face value – and therefore out of context – they can lead you down entirely the wrong path.  And it’s super easy to take these headlines at face value because who has the time to read about this stuff in detail in the midst of their crazy busy life?

1. I have a crazy busy life but I don’t have a ‘normal’ crazy busy life with a spouse and children and family to tend to, and 2. Getting to the root of all this was my #1 priority after the mortgage was paid and the ‘kids’ were fed and watered, so I have made it my business to read it all this past year. The good news is: because I have, you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

Anymore I feel like my purpose on this earth is to help as many people as I can – or maybe I should say as many people who will listen and are ready to change – find and get on the right path.  I’ve been on the wrong path soooooo many times and if I can help in saving you from that misery I’d like to.  I used to think I was here ‘just’ to give you delicious recipes that actually worked and that didn’t take a ton of time and a degree from the Culinary Institute to make, but I feel increasingly compelled to also help you navigate the vast vats of crapola that is the diet and nutrition landscape.

Maybe it’s just because I’ve spent the last year completely immersed in what The Internet has to say on the matter, but from my perspective that landscape is getting greyer, and murkier, and uglier every day.  Because $$$.  I have no skin in this game.  My only motivation is to save you from the utter frustration of conflicting information that all the so-called experts, scientists, doctors, dieticians and nutritionists put out there like it’s gospel, and that leaves you – after all these years – still not knowing what the hell you are supposed to eat.  Context: what you see is not always what you get.

Context: what you see is not always what you get | Carrie Brown

 

So let’s contextualize a few examples:

  • You have to eat fat to lose fat / To lose weight eat more fat.
    • No, no you don’t. You have to eat the right kinds of fat to be optimally healthy, but you don’t have to eat fat in order to lose body fat.  Moreover, if you just add more fat to your current diet you will more than likely gain body fat. Eating fat does not make you magically lose body fat.  However, if you change your diet to eat very few starch and sugar carbs you can eat more fat and still lose body fat – hence the “you have to eat fat to lose fat” statement.
  • Calories don’t matter / Calories in, calories out.
    • Yes, yes they do.  If you are trying to lose weight and you are consistently consuming more calories than your energy requirements you will more than likely gain body fat or at least not lose any body fat.  Having said that, what the calorie is made of is far more important – if you just count calories in order to lose body fat without taking into consideration what they are made of you may lose body fat but you are also likely to be tired, cranky, sad, sick, and then get fed up and go back to whatever you were eating before.  And then you’ll gain body fat at a faster rate than ever.  Calories do matter, you just don’t have to count them if you are eating the right foods – hence the “calories don’t matter” statement.  Conversely, losing body fat is not just a simple case of mathematics.  300 calories of doughnuts and 300 calories of protein will bring completely different results to your body despite the calorific value being the same.
  • Carbs make you fat.
    • Yes they do and no they don’t.  Eating carbs triggers the production of insulin. Insulin’s job is to shuttle excess starch and sugar carbs into our fat cells.  If insulin is not triggered this does not happen.  It is true that if I eat starch and sugar carbs I get fatter.  But is it the carb that makes me gain body fat? No, it’s the insulin doing it’s job.  The remedy is to not eat starch and sugar carbs that will trigger insulin production, but that doesn’t mean it’s the carbs that are actually making you gain body fat.
  • Eat more to get thin / Eat as much as you want and lose weight.
    • Yes and no.  If you have body fat to lose and you just eat more of what you are currently eating you will just gain more body fat.  However, you can eat more of the right foods and lose body fat.  As well of eating more of the right foods you have to eat less of the wrong foods.  You can’t just eat more and get thin. What you eat is critically important if you are going to eat more and get thin.  With no context the “eat more to get thin” and “eat as much as you want and lose weight” statements are just misleading at best and dangerous at worst.
  • Lose weight without giving up all the foods you crave.
    • No and yes.  It all depends on what you crave.  If you crave eggs, carry on eating them.  If you crave doughnuts, the chances are you will have to give them up if you want to lose body fat.  You absolutely cannot continue to eat all the starchy and sugary things you crave and lose body fat. Run far, far, far away from anyone who tells you that you can.  If they will flat-out lie about that then they will lie about anything to get your $$$.  If you crave chocolate, as long as it’s 85% cocoa or higher and you’re not eating a whole big bar every day the chances are you’ll still be able to lose body fat.
  • Vitamin [insert letter here] will [insert benefit here].
    • No and yes.  Vitamins do not typically work in isolation, so unless you have a deficiency that needs to be addressed the chances that adding a single vitamin in isolation will give you any appreciable benefit are very slim.  In my experience the only exception to this is super-dosing with Vitamin C, which has brought benefits far and wide to my body (losing body fat is not one of them).  I also have to take methylated B vitamins because my body cannot process B vitamins on it’s own (but taking them does not make me lose body fat).  Outside of specific deficiencies that are unique to you, adding a particular vitamin to your diet won’t make you magically lose body fat.
  • Butter makes your pants fall off.
    • No, no it doesn’t, and if you add butter to your current diet you will almost certainly gain body fat not lose it.  In fat, consuming high starch and sugar carbs and high fat at the same time will have disastrous consequences.  However, it you switch to or are eating a low carb diet you can happily eat butter (but NOT in unlimited quantities!) and still lose body fat.  Eating butter in and of itself does not make you lose body fat. No really, it doesn’t.  And “Butter” Bob Briggs would agree with me wholeheartedly on this!  He goes to great lengths on his videos to explain that this catch-phrase is only within the context of an LCHF, Lowcarb, or KETO diet, but if you’ve never seen Bob’s videos and don’t have that context then you would miss that key piece of info. I love Bob. Bob has done a ton to help folks get healthier, but anyone who sees this catchphrase out of context could get entirely the wrong idea.  This is a perfect example of how lovely, well-intentioned people can have their wonderful message misconstrued by others through lack of context.
  • Eat less, move more / Eat more, exercise less.
    • No and yes. Yes and no.  It very much depends on what you are eating and what exercise you are doing. If you are eating the wrong foods and doing most types of exercise you have to eat less and move more if you have any hope of losing body fat, and then you will likely still fail long-term and you almost definitely will not experience optimal health.  If you are eating the right foods and doing eccentric or bodyweight or HIIT exercising then you can eat more and exercise less, lose body fat and experience optimal health.
  • LowCarbHighFat (LCHF) for weight loss.
    • Yes and no.  It is the low carb of LCHF that (mostly)  causes you to lose body fat, not the consumption of high fat.  So as Ted Naiman likes to say, “If you have a body with high fat, all you need is the low carb”.  In other words, if you want to lose body fat it’s not eating high fat (HF) that will get you there fastest, it’s the low carb (LC).  You have all the fat you need for energy in your ‘on-board pantry’, so you don’t need to add large amounts of dietary fat to get the high fat (HF) part of the equation.  The reason it’s called high fat is that because you are not eating any starch and sugar carbs you have to replace those calories from either protein or fat.  Once you have eaten your daily protein needs the rest of the calories comes from fat, so it can seem like a lot of fat relative to what you ate before you started LCHF.  However, to lose body fat faster, lower the amount of dietary fat you eat so that you burn more from your ‘on-board’ pantry.  Note: I said “lower fat” not “zero fat”.  You need to eat some of the right kinds of fat to be healthy.
  • Too much protein makes you fat.
    • No and yes.  “Too much” means nothing out of context.  Also, if you are trying to lose weight and you have eaten your body’s daily protein requirements and eaten enough calories to meet your daily energy needs then yes, eating more of pretty much anything except water and fiber will make you gain body fat.  Protein in and of itself does not cause body fat gain.
  • Raspberry ketones for fat loss.
    • No and kind of.  I remember recording a podcast with Jonathan Bailor where he went on an epic rant over Dr. Oz promoting and selling Raspberry Ketones on the basis that it was an amazing fat-loss product, because as Jonathan says, “No one ever gained weight because they were deficient in Raspberry Ketones”.  Consuming Raspberry Ketones while you continue to eat your current diet will not make you lose body fat.  Consuming Raspberry Ketones while you eat a low carb high fat diet will not make you lose more body fat than if you just eat a low carb high fat diet.  However, Dr. Oz wasn’t all BS, because raspberries do contain high levels of ketones so consuming them will raise the amount you have floating around in your blood stream.  But, and it’s a big but – it’s not high levels of ketones in your blood that cause you to lose body fat, it’s the absence of starch and sugar carbs.  The body will always burn starch and sugar carbs provided by your food before they will start burning ketones or body fat for fuel.

I could go on and on with more examples but I hope you have enough here to stop you in your tracks the next time you see a one-liner, tweet, or soundbite without context, because as you can see, once you add context the message can change entirely.

Context: what you see is not always what you get.

And, just so you have this all in the right context, this post is written with folks who are looking to lose body fat in mind.  If we change the context of audience or goals then some of the above applies and some of it doesn’t.  This does not necessarily apply to people who are at their goal weight, athletes, or people who need to be in therapeutic KETO, for example, because there is not one size fits all when it comes to this whole diet thing.

#context

 

 

 

 

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  • Mark wakeling - Mike Keens mateReplyCancel

  • Dave Candage - Still awesome! Still love you!ReplyCancel

  • Andy - Great summary Carrie – you have cut through all the fluff and guff. Love your work!ReplyCancel

  • Debra - Great content?Keep it coming.ReplyCancel

  • jonny D - I don’t know about the lot of them, and I do get your point, but in the case of ‘Butter makes your pants fall off’, Bob makes it very clear that this “catch phrase” is only relevant in light of following a LCHF diet. If you’ve watched his videos, you know he goes to great lengths to explain that obesity is an insulin problem first and foremost, and getting it under control and then coupling it with the power of fasting, is an unbeatble strategy to lose body fat. ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Jonny – YES! YES! YES! And that was my whole point. For the loads of people who haven’t watched the videos etc and don’t understand the context they could get completely the wrong idea. This post was in NO WAY poking at Bob! I love Bob! I don’t think for one second that Bob is trying to mislead anyone. Bob is awesome and has done a load of good for people’s health. Maybe I need to edit the post a little so that is clearer. I think lack of context is typically a side-effect of not having enough room or time to give the full explanation – not a conscious attempt to mislead people. Now click-bait and headlines…that’s another story. Does that help clarify my intent here? Thanks for posting so I had the chance to make the post better!ReplyCancel

      • tracy - Who is Bob and where can we see these videos?ReplyCancel

      • jonny D - Haha – it’s all good, Carrie. Didn’t mean to get all defensive, it’s just that Bob’s first video “Butter makes your pants fall off” is what got me started on this journey in the first place. I do understand your intentions for writing this article, it’s needed in the world of click-bait we live in and there’s a lot of bs that you have to wade through to find the gold nuggets. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • jonny D - Tracy, his name is Bob Briggs. Here’s his video upload list on youtube:
    https://www.youtube.com/user/butterbobbriggs/videosReplyCancel

  • Wren Tidwell - good one Carrie! I’m with you on all of this. All of your time and research has paid off.ReplyCancel

  • Julie - Love this post Carrie! I’ve been fed up with these sources of information, like JB, turning into used car dealers. Do you have a good source for figuring out daily protein needs? Looking forward to more posts on the subject. What worked for me after kid #1 isn’t working after kid #2 and I’m feeling a bit lost.ReplyCancel

  • Emma - Love this post, Carrie!

    Having been on your journey vicariously since your early ‘duet’ podcast days, & some ensuing confusion about that info on my part as you moved forward on your own path and unpacked a whole load more info through your necessary & drastic experiments on yourself (!), your posts of the last 2 years have been the most honest, most useful, amd definitely the most inspiring & reassuring of the entire webiverse for me. Thanks for the time you give to share all the info you collect & test, and for the CONTEXT of the real world that you always add!

    I’m so very glad you have found a route to real health, and have shared all the information about the incredible changes you had to make, and the real, amazing results you’ve had personally. Wishing you continued health improvements as you no doubt pursue more info & more tweaks :) Thanks for sharing everything xReplyCancel

To eat *meat or to not eat *meat – that is one of the burning questions out in The Land of Health Food right now.  Does eating *meat cause diabetes?  The amount of stuff out there on the interwebs about this very topic is plentiful.  The arguments back and forth would take you a year to wade through, not to mention make you feel all stabby (think arguing, rudeness, one-upping, lies, other assorted unnecessary nonsense, blah, blah, blah) and by the end of it all you still wouldn’t know the answer and would probably be more confused, not less.  (*where meat = fresh and minimally processed as opposed to highly processed meat products with sugars / additives / preservatives and other crap added to them ie. hotdogs, some deli meats, etc).

So, in order to reduce any confusion to zero in the shortest possible time I enlisted the help of the brilliant Dr. Ted Naiman who has the amazing ability to reduce the most complex things into “Duh!” moments. www.carriebrown.com | Does Eating Meat Cause Diabetes | Ted Naiman

Lovely readers – I give you my shortest post ever.

You’re welcome.

Now, with all the time you have that you don’t need to spend reading about whether or not *meat causes diabetes – go do something fun!

 

(Ted also wrote the foreword for my ‘Drink Smarter! Beverages’ cookbook.  Thanks, Ted!)

 

 

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I always used to say that I liked a bit of bread with my butter.  Now, thanks to going wheat-, gluten-, and grain-free I can just skip the bread altogether.  Winning!

Do you remember the best butter you ever ate?  I do.  9 years ago – almost to the day – I was dining with some business colleagues at a Michelin 3-starred restaurant in Paris owned by Alain Ducasse who is arguably one of the finest chefs in the world.  Alain joined us for the cheese course, dessert, and coffee (one of our party was Alain’s neighbor and another was the Vice President of Microsoft, hence the privilege of having Alain at our table).  He had a cellar full of 100-year-old aged cheeses, and wines that cost more money than I earn in a month.  But what made me want to marry him was this: he made his own butter.  I remember the color – which rightfully should have it’s own Pantone number, the consistency, and oh la la that very first taste.  I swear my heart beat a little faster.  I stopped eating, turned in wonder to my beautiful French friend, Coralie, and declared, “I just want butter for dinner”.  She nodded slowly.  She understood.

Things you need to know about butter include that you should exclusively be using it as opposed to any other spreadable butter-like stuff.  There should be nothing that even vaguely resembles butter in your ‘fridge or pantry that isn’t actually butter.  It’s *real* butter or nothing!  Down with butter imposters!  (In the interests of my quest to write shorter posts, along with not being the science nerd around here, and having neither the time nor inclination to write the why, read this.)

You should exclusively be using butter that has been made from the milk of cows that are grass-fed.  If you live outside the US you might well be wondering why I am even mentioning this (because all cows eat grass, right??). If you live in the US you might well be wondering why I am even mentioning this (because butter is butter is butter, right??).  No and no.  (If you didn’t read the link in the last paragraph and want to know why the answer to both those questions is no, read this.)  And if you have any doubts about how the quality of milk can be dramatically affected by the diet of the milk-producer, read this.

I use Kerrygold Irish Butter.  It is the gold standard for grass-fed butter in the US.  It tastes and cooks nothing like regular American butter.  Try it once and you will never go back.

 

happy cows

 

You should keep your butter in a covered dish out on the counter.  Americans – this includes you.  Unless you live somewhere where the ambient room temperature renders butter into a puddle, or it takes you a month to get through one package – and if it does then that’s a different conversation that we need to have.  It will not go bad if you don’t keep it in the ‘fridge.  75 million Brits have never put their butter in the ‘fridge and there has never been one single case of RTBP (Room Temperature Butter Poisoning) reported.  Why keep it on the counter?  Because soft and delicious.  And because not hard and tasteless.  Hard butter makes everything difficult whether you’re just trying to spread it on any of these or you’re whipping up magic.  Hard butter is very annoying.  Room temperature butter is delightful.

You should buy your Kerrygold in bulk at Costco so you can get it for much cheaper than the grocery stores and make sure that you never run out (in the US the next cheapest place to get Kerrygold is at Trader Joe’s).  You can store your bulk stash in the freezer, then once you need it transfer it to your covered dish and store it on the counter.  I am repeating this ‘on the counter’ part because I know some of you Americans are sitting there with your hands over your ears singing, “La la la la la la la la”.

And lastly, we have arrived at what is probably the best tip I have given you on anything, ever. And it’s a tip on butter.

I have no idea how I’ve been writing here for over 4 years and not shared this before.  When you forget to take the golden goodness out of the freezer in advance (or you are still steadfastly refusing to store it on the counter) and you have some of these rising in the oven, to avoid a disaster of colossal proportions when you realize that you won’t be able to slather on some yellow heaven and eat one hot from the baking sheet, here’s how to soften your butter in a heartbeat:  GRATE IT.  It is even quicker than microwaving it and is foolproof, which microwaving is most definitely not. Come on – own up. How many times have you microwaved your butter for half a second too long and ended up with a puddle?  Seriously, grate it.  Big side on the box grater over a plate or bowl.  Grate, grate, grate, done.  Two minutes later you will have perfect, evenly soft, spreadable butter.

Alain Ducasse, you can still butter me up anytime.

 

 

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  • Vanessa - My mother was afraid of fats and is still terrified of animal products. (She’s positive I’m going to keel over from the 90-120 grams of protein – mostly chicken, eggs and sardines – I eat daily, even though I’m also eating 10-15 servings of veggies.)

    As a result, I need a lot of help in the recipes-using-butter department. So far I’ve managed to successfully add it to sauteed green beans with garlic (yum!). What other non-baking things is it good in? Because the chances of me baking this year are earthworm-slim.ReplyCancel

  • Raina - Grated butter! MIND BLOWN! Okay, totally going to do that when I’ve bought it straight from the store and need to use it immediately, because you know…. my butter lives on the counter ;)ReplyCancel

  • Peter. Turner - Hi carey, thanks for all you do. Currently making your pumpkin pie squares from your new recipe book which we just bought. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be using salted or unsalted butter. comments or thoughts? I’m sort of assuming it would say unsalted in the recipe if it was, otherwise it probably is salted. Paragraph thanks!

    PeteReplyCancel

I’ve started a file in my brain labeled ‘Awesome Things That Have Happened Since I Started Detoxing My Body’.  This (fingers crossed) short post comes from that file, because it’s been a while since I gave you a progress report.

As I was lying in bed at some ridiculous hour this morning not sleeping I was reminded how miraculous it is to not have stinky ‘pits after rolling around in bed all night under a sea of blankets and two overly furry Ragdolls, right after having a sauna. (Mr. McHenry on the left(ish), Daisy on the right, and yes I had to lie diagonally across the bed).  I was undoubtedly reminded of the lack of stinkiness because when you’re lying down your nose is somehow much closer to your underarms.  (This is especially true when you’re lying down and have one arm raised high in the air while you take a picture of your right hip with two fluffy cats attached to it).

www.carriebrown.comI determined that your life might well be improved if you knew that stinky ‘pits are not – in fact – just a part of life’s rich tapestry.  I’d always just gone along with the notion that you sweat, it has an odor, and if you don’t wash it off and apply antiperspirants and deodorant at least daily you’ll end up morphing into Billy Nomates. Except for your cat(s) (and I suspect dog(s) ) who will gladly still hang out with you on the basis that 1. it’s not your fault, 2. someone has to, and 3. food.  Plus, your clothes will never smell perfectly fresh again – no matter what you do. Bummer.

Well I am here to tell you lovely readers that this is all a shameful lie banded about by (I suspect) people who can make dosh from your less-than-ideal situation and your desire not to be hauled up in front of HR at work for mandatory counseling around personal hygiene.  And, I also suspect that most doctors were not told in medical school that stinky ‘pits are not normal, so they never took it upon themselves to mention that something might be out of whack if we’re a little whiffy.

Wait. What? Do I still sweat? Honey, you should see me after 30 hot and heavy minutes in the sauna! Sweat City, USA.  But NO ODOR.

Have I done an experiment where I deliberately slept in the same t-shirt every night for a week having not applied antiperspirants or deodorant for said week?  Why yes. Yes I have. But NO ODOR. (Do I still sleep in the same t-shirt every night for a week now the experiment is over? No. No I don’t).  PS. I did not leave the house that week – in case you work with me and are now wondering if you were an unwitting participant in my sanitary experiment).

I noticed around 4 months into my treatment plan that my ‘pits no longer perfumed the air, and the only reasonable conclusion to draw is that producing a somewhat unpleasant odor from one’s armpits is not the body’s modus operandi when everything is working as it should.  Now malodorous ‘pits may well be ‘normal’ in that most everyone seems to have them, but if we think of the word normal as what should be rather than what happens in most people then smelly underarms are abnormal.  And you can make it stop.

Here’s the rub: I can’t tell you exactly what was causing the smellies or what I added or took away or changed that made it stop.  I just know that after figuring out WTF was wrong with me and systematically removing things, adding things, and changing things in order to address all my physical symptoms and detox my body my production of semi-offensive underarm aroma has stopped.  So I’d just like to suggest that everything in your bod is maybe not working as tickety-boo as you thought if you are still having to use antiperspirants and deodorant every day to stop the stink.  I do not miss stinky ‘pits.

Along similar lines – I can now go at least 5 days without having to wash my hair.  And what I mean by that is 5 days after I’ve washed my crowning glory it still looks like I’ve just washed it.  Which for girls with long locks who have had to wash their hair almost every. single. day. of. their. entire life is right up there with dating Ryan Gosling, winning the lottery, or magically having a body like Elle MacPhearson while eating 38 boxes of Krispy Kremes a day and doing no exercise.

Now I don’t know what made my body stop producing the oils that made my hair dirty approximately 15 hours after I washed it, but what I do know is it no longer does that and my hair looks and feels better than it has since I was a teenager – probably due to the fact that I am not washing and using drying tools on it every day.  My hairdresser calls it, “Doll hair”.  Ridiculously soft, silky, and shiny.  Like baby hair only on a grown-up (except the days I am channeling Pebbles).  Do you have any idea how much this is saving me in time and product??!  I’d take a stab at healthy hormones being the answer, but that’s a guess.  Honestly, I don’t really care, I just know that it’s a huge change and it’s awesome.  I do not miss hair that needs washing 15 hours after I washed it.

As an aside, the products I use when hair washing time does come around are these.  They are the other reason that I have doll hair now.  I have never found products that make my hair feel or look the way these do.  When I went road-tripping to Colorado last month I slapped this hair mask on my hair and tied it up in a ballerina bun for a few days (yes, a few days – you totally couldn’t tell my hair was slathered in goop).  The result was amazing.  Hair-mask-ballerina-bun is now an every-other-weekend ritual at the Brown house (a very small amount goes a very long way even on long hair).  Even better is because I now only use hair product so infrequently these products last me for ages and end up costing very little per use.  Their hand cream is also ridiculously good and the intensive body treatment does things I never knew were possible for dry, cracked skin.

And as if those two things weren’t enough, here’s my favorite thing I don’t miss: taking Bi-polar medications.  I am still entirely unmedicated after a little over 8 months, and there has been no fallout.  No symptoms of Bi-polar. None.  And if that isn’t a freaking miracle I don’t know what is.

I will never get tired of telling you this stuff. GO, detox!

PS. Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting about various detox protocols I use because you might not know where to start and it’s a minefield out there because of all the usual money-grabbing snake-oil salesmen out there with only one goal in life – taking your $$$ regardless of whether they give you anything of value in return.

 

 

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  • nofixedstars - thanks for your writing about getting healthy…it’s ever so useful to have an honest, real, and yes—sane—voice blogging about these things.

    cheers!ReplyCancel

  • Debra - Yes, yes, yes. This is exactly what we want to hear about?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Debra, who knew?! (If only you knew how long it took me to say, ‘Oh what the heck I’m just going to post about stinky armpits!”)ReplyCancel

  • Mary Reynolds - Thanks for this. I usually don’t have stinky pits tho I don’t detox. But I do eat healthy most of the time, so maybe that’s a part of it. I have reduced my carbs significantly. My man does modified Atkins and his “gas” no longer forces me out of a room, tho he swears he misses my reaction, lol.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Oh, Mary – this made me laugh out loud when I read it! Thanks for giving me a giggle :-)ReplyCancel

  • Mendi - Thank you so much! I have missed your posts and find myself periodically checking Facebook and your blog to see if you were back yet. I worried for awhile and then told myself you were much better and therefore busy living and not writing. So glad to have you back and writing in such an open, honest way. I am really looking forward to reading about your journey and your life hacks and tips, big and small. My health journey is better but has stagnated a little, so I am looking forward to some fresh ideas from someone I know is sharing what has really helped and not just trying to sell snake oil!ReplyCancel

What is this madness??  That’s right, kids: another post just a week after the last one.  And while I am thinking about last week’s post I want to say, “You’re awesome”, and “Thank you”, and “I am here because of you”, to everyone who commented and emailed and otherwise connected with me after reading it.  And truly, I am very grateful that you love me warts and all because the transition to a new format may well be a little clunky. Which brings me to the reason for this post: I’m all-or-nothing. Go big or go home. I’m gonna do something and knock it out the ball park or I’m not even gonna look at the ball.  I’m just not a half-assed kinda girl.

Having an all-or-nothing mindset can be a really awesome thing in life.  When it comes to getting s*** done, remodeling your kitchen single-handedly, writing a cookbook in 5 weeks, becoming an expert at something, sticking to a plan, seeing things through to the end, producing really high quality stuff, being trustworthy, developing recipes that taste great and actually work, being known for excellence, living with integrity, making things easier for those around you, and all manner of other stuff, not being half-assed can reap huge rewards.  It can also be a real handicap to ALL OF THE ABOVE.  It is both a blessing and a curse.  It is the thing I love the most and hate the most about myself.  Huh?

And therein lies the problem: it can be both a help and a hindrance to just about every situation.  Why?  Because as much as it has enabled me to do extraordinary things, there are other things I won’t even start if I don’t think I can or will finish them perfectly.  So I miss out on the experience, the learning, the growth, (not to mention the possibility that I might – in fact – do a great job), and those around me miss out (although they don’t know it) on the results, which even though not perfect might still be useful.  And useful is good.  Useful can be *really* good. And while I fully appreciate that useful can be really good, I struggle with allowing myself to sit somewhere between all and nothing because it feels like an excuse to enable sub-par to be acceptable.  So let me be clear that I am not advocating for crappy, sloppy work.  I am not suggesting we all lower our standards and be content with mediocre – heaven knows the entire interwebs are crammed with mediocre.  I’m saying that doing your best from where you are with what you have is the best way to get started – and more often than not is better than not getting started at all.  The trick is to get started, do the best you can, and then once you’ve gained some traction, got into a rhythm, and aren’t feeling overwhelmed, up your game a notch.  You don’t always need to wait until everything is perfect before you start.

I remember years ago when I was still living in England how I would fly into a blind panic ahead of a visit from my mother because my house was not in (her definition of) perfect order.  In most everyone else’s definition my house looked like a showroom, but that’s beside the point.  I would run myself ragged making sure that not one fleck of dust remained and nothing was even one measly millimeter out of place.  And still she would stride in and start moving the cushions.  Years later a friend from Canada was visiting me in Seattle for the first time and when I expressed my mental pandemonium at his imminent arrival because my house wasn’t in (my definition of) perfect he drawled, “I’m coming to see you, not your house”, which pretty much put things into perspective for me, and in this instance the all of all-or-nothing did nothing except give me unnecessary anxiety. And seriously, when was the subjective ‘perfectness’ of a home more important than a relationship? Time to rethink any relationship where you can envisage the state of your home truly being more important than you to the other person.

For anyone curious enough – and everyone who needs a quick mental break from all the text – here is a snap of my house when I am not expecting anyone.  That’s Zebedee snuggling on the couch with me.

www.carriebrown.comAs a more relevant example to the subject at hand: there are so many little tips and tricks I’ve learned over the last 10 months while I’ve been unraveling my health issues, and yet I haven’t shared any of them with you.  Why?  Because every time I got all excited about sharing something with you, I’ve run to the computer and ground to a screeching halt.  “I don’t know everything there is to know about this Thing”, “I can’t make a complete post out of that”, “It would be a really short post”, “I don’t have a good picture to go with it”, “It’s not about food so people won’t want to read it”, blah, blah, blah.  And so the post doesn’t get written and you don’t get to know the really cool Thing that I have discovered that is helping me be healthier, smarter, saner, whatever.

There’s a whole bunch of other things that I have procrastinated on because I feel overwhelmed about getting started thanks to this all-or-nothing way my brain works. Invariably once I get off the starting blocks I find things are never as difficult as I imagined they would be and I always end up wondering why I didn’t start sooner.  Changing the format of the blog is part of getting started, because heaven knows I’ve been procrastinating on it for far too long.  I am going to assume that if it’s a little clunky to begin with you’ll just bear with me, take what’s of value and leave what isn’t.  Likewise if it’s not helpful, useful, inspiring, has no value, or just plain old sucks you’ll tell me.

I am one of those people who 99% of the time does not open her mouth unless I am 99.9% sure that what I am saying is true.  You might find this a stretch if you’ve listened to me natter away on the podcasts, but in person I rarely open my mouth.  This makes writing a blog hard, because I won’t put pen to paper unless I know exactly what I am talking about.  This approach definitely has it merits, but it also has a lot of downsides.

There are some things I will very happily never compromise on – where all-or-nothing will forever be my mantra. For one I’m looking at you, recipes.  I simply will not post a recipe that does not work and does not taste great. I will never scrape recipes from someone else’s site (and I’d stab myself before I used someone else’s recipe without giving proper attribution), post a recipe without a picture of the dish (that I took), or fail to make sure that the recipe has no errors in it.  I want you to be confident before you buy ingredients and put forth the effort that you are going to get an edible and enjoyable result (notwithstanding personal taste, of course).  I remember being steadfast with our beloved Jonathan when he would suggest things like, “Can we just swap out this ingredient for that one”, or “Why not make it a whole egg instead of just the white” and I’d be all, “NO. NO. NO. It might not work, I haven’t tested it, and it might taste awful. NO.”  Because non-chefs often don’t understand (and why would they?) that cooking – especially baking – is a science and you can’t just swap things out willy-nilly and expect them still to work and taste great. It matters. It matters a lot.

There are an alarming number of cookbooks and blogs out there that consist of recipes stolen from someone else without any attribution. Stolen recipes that have been tweaked to make them seem original but then not tested (so who knows if they even work or what they taste like), and recipes scraped from someone else’s work with just the name changed to make it not seem so obviously stolen.  Then there are recipes with images that are of  different dishes entirely and not taken by the “author” but also stolen from elsewhere.  I’d rather hang up my hat altogether than churn out rubbish and / or dish up plain old plagiarism. Nope. Not doing it. You deserve better. Much better.  Of course, the people who do this kind of stuff simply don’t care about integrity or honesty. They want $$ and they’ll try and get them anyway they can.

But there are times when all-or-nothing just isn’t the best approach.  Thankfully I have learned not to apply all-or-nothing to my photography, because if I did that then I would not have shared ONE. SINGLE. IMAGE that I’ve ever shot because none of them are perfect.  But I learned that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.  It never ceases to amaze me which of my images people just fall over themselves to buy so they can hang them on their walls or pop them in a frame, and which images have others going “Meh” about.  I will never create a perfect image, but I have come to realize that my definition of perfection is different from everyone else’s and despite my thoughts about my images there are still plenty of people who are inspired or moved or simply just entertained by the images I create.  So who am I to keep them from the world?

So I am going to try writing shorter blog posts – short little ditties with a quick update or a little life hack that doesn’t need a novel to explain it.  And I am going to be a lot more active on more social media platforms because they allow me to post little snippets of goodness quickly instead of saving everything up for one enormous blog post that it takes me an eternity to write.  We can stay connected without me feeling terrible for not having posted some mother of a blog post or a full-blown recipe, given that the time I get to spend here is {regrettably} less than it was.

All-or-nothing: What’s this got to do with you?

It occurred to me while I was thinking about all this earlier that it applies equally to diets.  An all-or-nothing approach could take you from overweight and sick to slim and vibrant.  Equally it could prevent you from getting started on any dietary change at all.  On the surface that last statement is entirely unhelpful to you.  What’s the right and the wrong approach here?  Should we be all-or-nothing when it comes to diets?  That depends.  My purpose for bringing this up is to make you aware, and then to make you think.  Does all-or-nothing light your fire and make you determined to do whatever you need to do to reach your health goals, or does all-or-nothing paralyze you because it feels overwhelming and you are not sure that you can keep it up?  Either way – the important thing to bear in mind when it comes to diets is this: PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION.  It is better to take baby steps consistently towards better health than go all-out for perfection and then quit when you slip.  Go all-out if that’s your brain’s way and you can be hardcore in your execution.  But if that’s not you, just get started.  Take a step in the right direction and then another one.  It you fall backwards a step, just take another step forward.  And another.  Dieting isn’t about all-or-nothing, it’s about getting a little bit healthier every day.

So while I am working on being a little less all-or-nothing with my blog, find something in your life that would benefit from you being a little less all-or-nothing with.  If you’ve been procrastinating on some big scary thing, get started.  If you need to move the needle on your health, take the first step.

We got this.

 

(Yes, this was supposed to be a short post. Hey, it’s a post :-) )

 

 

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  • Kerry - Carrie this post is brilliant you are one of the most nicest honest and caring people I know. And to be British is the icing on the cake. Your sense of humour is hilirous, I can so relate to you I’m British and I’ll soon be moving to San Jose CA which is so exciting. I feel like I actually know you on a personal level. I just want to say thank you, you’ve helped me such a lot with advice. Keep doing what your doing if it makes you happy because you are making such a difference to people’s lives. XxReplyCancel

    • carrie - I hope you love it here, Kerry!! (Welcome to no one ever understanding what your name is or how to spell it :-) ) If you’re ever in Seattle – look me up!ReplyCancel

  • Debra - Lots of wisdom here?Check out Carole Tuttles energy profiling system. I’m a T4 and you sound very much like that same energy. She has huge insight into Living Your Truth. I’ve learned a lot from her. I’m excited to hear what you have to share.ReplyCancel

  • Debra Ulrich - Years ago my sis showed up unannounced at my door with an elderly friend of hers. I had been SEVERELY depressed and the house looked like pure s–t. I explained this and begged them to understand that I could not invite them in. They INSISTED they were there to see me, not my house. I finally caved and let them in. The women sat very rigidly and refused my offer of cake and coffee.

    The next day my sis called to say the woman had refused refreshments because “She said it was the dirtiest house she had ever seen and she did not want to touch anything”

    Two lessons learned . .. first. . they say they could care less about how your house looks. . . they are lying.

    Lesson two . . my sis is a b==ch.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hence my suggestion to rethink any relationship where it turns out the house is more important than seeing you!ReplyCancel

  • Popcorn - “So I am going to try writing shorter blog posts – short little ditties with a quick update or a little life hack that doesn’t need a novel to explain it.”

    Wheeeeeeee!!!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Beth Gildersleeve - Short or long, I’ll take whatever wisdom you share.ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa - I did a little happy dance when I got the notification that there was a new post here.

    I giggled a little when I realized you’d written a novel explaining that there would be shorter posts ahead, because it reminds me of the time I decided to try new vegetables…and promptly made a list of 18 new vegetables to buy that very day. You’re in good company, Carrie!ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne - I, too, and an “all-or nothing” kind of person. AND, struggle with perfectionism. I believe we have our parents (or other mentor) to point at for that lovely trait. : ( (and I am sure our parents got it from their parents, and so forth.)

    Once I realized both of these personality traits were not helpful to me, I worked – and continue to work – at changing them. But they do still seem to hover in the background of my mind.

    Carrie: I will enjoy and appreciate your posts – and you – whether long or short.

    Best,ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - I love reading your posts Carrie! Short works for me. Then I get time to chew on a nugget instead of digesting a banquet.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Oh I like that, Nancy! That helps me feel better about writing short posts – thanks :-)ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - Agreed! Long or short, we will love them. :)ReplyCancel

  • Ellen - Another breath of fresh air – thanks, Carrie!ReplyCancel

  • Raina - “There are an alarming number of cookbooks and blogs out there that consist of recipes stolen from someone else without any attribution. Stolen recipes that have been tweaked to make them seem original but then not tested” <– So much this, and this is why I have always loved and appreciated your work. Whenever I see something with your name to it, I know you have have put yourself on the line and gone through the iterations of testing and tweaking it to make it amazing, undoubtedly at great expense! I even hear 'your voice' when I read the recipe method since it's truly yours. Being a consumer of all of your delicious recipes, I'm glad it was this that you didn't copromise on.

    You have got me thinking, there are so many things that I've wanted to do that haven't done – I've even bought equipment for it, but have been waiting for the time when I can go all-in to dedicate to it. I bought a proper camera a year ago, and I haven't even charged it. Wah! Definitely something to think about for me.

    So THANK YOU for this post, whether they be long or short or just a picture of an onion, I love them :DReplyCancel