'Ava Anderson Non Toxic' Product Giveaway

Today I've invited my friend Christina to talk about some products she's been having success with lately. She's generously giving away a package of products with a $60 value to one of my lucky readers. Read more for details on how you can win! Contest ends October 6.

Christina Roth www.avaandersonnontoxic.com/croth

When I was officially diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in January of 2013, I had no idea the kind of journey I was about to embark upon. I had always been fairly conscious of the fact that something was “wrong” with my health – I just needed someone to give me a complete diagnosis, guide me in the appropriate direction, and help me correct the symptoms. I needed someone to “fix” me. I realized after my first round of a complete nutritional overhaul and numerous food protocols, that the fixing would be much longer than I had anticipated.  Sadly, this was disappointing since those who are closest to me would confirm that I am not a very patient person.

The more I learned about my autoimmune condition, the more I realized the true complexity of the human body and the significant importance of my nutrition and lifestyle choices. In the midst of the food protocols, the revised fitness regimen, and my attempt at maintaining a minimally stressful schedule – I realized I was neglecting to address the largest organ in my body. My skin.

At some point during the food reintroduction phase I developed a rash on my underarms. I had long given up on natural deodorants because none of them would hold up to teaching all day long and a rigorous CrossFit workout in the evening. Then a friend told me about Ava Anderson Non Toxic, a non-toxic line of home and personal care products. I figured, what’s one more deodorant, so I gave it a try.

It’s not often I get excited about personal care products, let alone something as potentially simple as deodorant. However, the past two years have taught me a great deal about becoming more passionate when it comes to health and wellness – including my deodorant, lotion, mascara and multiple other items in my daily beauty routine. The more I began to listen to my body, the more I realized I needed to consider what I was putting on my body as much as what I was putting in my body.

The deodorant from Ava Anderson is completely non-toxic, paraben-free, aluminum-free, and made with 100% organic ingredients. It is composed of a cocoa butter and coconut oil base, including tea tree and peppermint essential oils. The coconut oil and cocoa butter serve to help moisturize and protect the skin, allowing the essential oils to soothe and reduce any existing inflammation. Not only does it feel and smell wonderful, but also it truly works! One application in the morning and I am comfortable and odor-free the entire day.

When I considered the other products that I wanted to replace after I realized they were irritating my autoimmune symptoms, the one that caused me the most heartache was my beloved mascara. I couldn’t use conventional mascara because it would give me a headache and typically cause my eyes to itch within a matter of minutes. After having success with the Ava Anderson deodorant, I switched to the mascara as well – and can honestly say I was ecstatic with the result. The mascara has an aloe vera base, with coconut oil and natural minerals for color. So the texture is silky and it feels wonderful with every application. No itchy eyes, no more headaches, and it lasts all day without drying or flaking.

Most recently I began using the Ava Anderson Diaper Cream to help with some rosacea that had formed on my nose. This is my typical reaction when I’ve been exposed to dairy  - and I knew that the cream had calendula and chamomile essential oils. The soothing properties of these organic oils, along with the moisturizing component of the shea butter and olive oil, helped to relieve the irritation on my nose in less than 24 hours. I was amazed at the results from just one application.

The Ava Anderson Non Toxic company is more than just products; they’re a message about living a toxic-free lifestyle. Ava Anderson was only 14 when she began to research and develop these products.  She is now a junior in college and advocates for eliminating harsh chemicals all around the country, including our nation’s capitol. I am thankful that, as a teenager, she had the ability to see beyond herself and reach out to spread the word about chemical toxicity. I am also very grateful for the fact that I was able to find products that work for me and help me continue on my journey to wellness. So thankful, that I recently became a consultant for Ava Anderson Non Toxic and hope to share the message about becoming an ingredient detective.

As a gift to the Primal Balance followers I am offering a giveaway package of all three items listed above, to one lucky reader! If you’re interested in learning more about Ava Anderson Non Toxic I encourage you to check out my consultant page at www.avaandersonnontoxic.com/croth and find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/QueenCityAva.

-Christina Roth

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Born Primal Episode 41: Caitlin Weeks and Diane Sanfilippo

This week's guests are two of the three authors of the upcoming cookbook, Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. Caitlin Weeks, her husband Chef Nabil Boumrar, and NY Times bestselling author Diane Sanfilippo collaborated to create this culturally accurate cookbook to be released October 28.

Caitlin and Diane talk about the process and recipes in this episode of Born Primal. We also chat about the importance of community related to food.

Check out the Mediterranean Paleo Book Signings in Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago, & San Francisco.

Podcast available on iTunes or Stitcher. You can also download the mp3 HERE!!!



Guest Post: What Three 12-year Old Girls Taught Me In Middle School

At this year's Ancestral Health Symposium, I had the honor to meet a young man who made a big impression on me. Julian Lucas was born with only one arm and is an aspiring fitness model. See the inspiring video below of his workout regiment. Check out Julian's website Adaptive Health and Fitness and follow him on Facebook

I’ll never forget it. It was 2 a.m. and I was talking to one of my best friends at the time who was a girl. We used to talk every night until her cordless phone would die (yup, those existed way back then). We had just entered middle school so it was a hormonal free for all. In elementary school you are with the same student body the entire time. So everyone knows one another. But middle school is when you are revealed to a much larger audience. My friend and I were telling one another what everyone thought of each of us. Then she started to sob.

What she told me changed my life forever. Through her tears she told me that all the girls were saying that, “I would be so hot if only I didn’t have one arm”

As you could imagine, this was quite devastating for the 12 year old me to hear. I couldn’t understand. My arm was never an issue. See I was born with one arm. And all of my friends and family were accustomed to it. It wasn’t until I entered middle school that I realized how different I was. This set me up for many many years of being one of the most self-conscious individuals to ever exist. It put me on the path to try and become perfect in every way. I told myself that I must become perfect in every other way. That in order for people to like me that I’ll need to be so perfect that they will forget about my “imperfection”.  I became obsessed.

This was of course a losing battle. I struggled with a negative body image for  the majority of my life.  Staring at my arm in the mirror hoping that one day the rest of it would magically grow.  I just couldn’t live like that way anymore. I could no longer stare into the mirror and hate what I saw. I didn’t want to wish to be someone else anymore. I wanted to actually love myself. And true self love. Not telling myself lies I didn’t believe. Who’s to say that I’m not already perfect? That I’m not beautiful? And If I had two arms in whose eyes would I be perfect in?

So I got my act together. I joined a gym, I got my diet in order and I educated myself on what it takes  to be truly happy with one ’s self.  Now I’m not going to say that I have all the answers, or that I have successfully reached the other side yet. But I let go of this fantasy of becoming “perfect”.  I’ll never be perfect. No one will.  I now only try to become the best me, pushing myself to go outside of my comfort zone. Setting news goal and striving to achieve them.

Currently right now I am striving to become one of the only one armed fitness models/bodybuilders in the world. My goal is to help change our perspective on what true beauty is all about and what you can accomplish despite your “limitations”.

Through bodybuilding and fitness I learned that we are all just works in progress. We’re never done, we never reach perfection, there is never a finish line. You just keep going, learning and growing. Letting go of the notion of trying to achieve perfection has had the single greatest impact on my personal well-being and health than anything else in my life.

I can now look in the mirror, acknowledge that I want to become more fit, but can still consider myself beautiful regardless. I no longer look at my arm as an eye sore. I embrace it. It’s just as part of me as any other part of my body. I no longer hide from the world. I face it head first. I stand tall, proud, because I worked too hard to become the man that I am to not be.


Parenting Twins (aka Life In Crazytown)

For 10 years I've been the mom of fraternal twin girls. Still one of the biggest surprises of my life. They were my second pregnancy after delivering a ten pound girl just two years before. As a prior homebirther, I chose to forego the medical route and stick with a midwife. When my belly continued to grow faster than what seemed normal, I assumed I was just going to have a bigger baby than the first one. At 23 weeks the midwife heard two heart beats and felt two babies so I decided it was time to get an ultrasound. Yes, there were two healthy, full sized baby girls in my womb. I didn't know if I should laugh or cry.

There is no comparison between the twin pregnancy and the two singletons I carried before and after them. It was hard. I hurt every single day. Just sleeping after 30 weeks pregnant was a difficult task. To go to the grocery store I had to wear a support band. By the time I got home, the pain was unbearable. But then they were born at 39 weeks. I'd like to say that it was all magic and stars but it certainly wasn't and any parent of multiples would likely agree with me. I still struggle with feeling like I missed out on sweet moments with the twins that happened with my singletons, especially my first baby, because I was just so damn overwhelmed. I had no family support nearby and I had an almost three year old who needed my attention as well. Life was all about feeding them, changing their diapers, soothing constant cries from the older twin who struggled with sensory issues from birth, and attempting to get some sleep.

By the time my daughters were two, my marriage was dissolved. If I thought life couldn't get any harder than that first year of raising them, I was totally wrong. Ten years later on the other side of it all, I can see that all of the struggles I faced having them and getting through those early years were worth every bit of the challenge. There is something so special about those two. They are not like many identical twins who have inseparable bonds. Most of the time they act disgusted with each other, but occasionally they remind me that they grew together and have a bond they'll never have with anyone else.

I have no idea what their future together will be like. I've heard horror stories of fraternal twins hating each other. That's my worst nightmare. But I've learned to let all of my girls go through the normal fighting that happens in a house full of hormones and hope they grow out of it.

If you're pregnant with multiples or parenting infant or toddler twins, I have some very simple wisdom to pass down. Don't beat yourself up and don't try to be perfect. Embrace the imperfections of life with young multiples. Parenting them is nothing like parenting singletons so don't even bother comparing the two. It's going to be a little nutty for a while. Maybe a long while. Hang in there, get a shower when you can, do your best to pamper yourself so that your batteries get recharged, and enjoy the double smiles and coos that come with those days when the double crying has you wondering how you'll get through it. One day when they decide for the first time ever that it would be fun to dress exactly the same on the first day of school, or you hear one translate the other's completely inaudible sentence, you will feel this light in your heart and be so grateful you get to be the mom of twins.


Born Primal Episode 40: Kyle Maynard

This week's guest is a powerfully inspiring human being. Kyle Maynard was born with congenital amputation. He is the first man to crawl on his own to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. He owns a Crossfit gym and he's competing in the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in October. All of this he's accomplishing despite being born with arms that end at the elbows and legs near the knees.

In this episode we talk about:
Kyle's childhood
How he became a wrestling champion
Robb Wolf's influence
Paleo diet
The art of grit
Climbing Kilimanjaro
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Living your dream

Podcast available on iTunes or Stitcher. You can also download the mp3 HERE!!!


Born Primal Episode 39: Dr. Emily Deans Evolutionary Psychiatry

Today I'm joined by Emily Deans, M.D., a psychiatrist searching for evolutionary solutions to the general and mental health problems of the 21st century.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Sleep management
  • Parasites treating autoimmune disease
  • Mental health mismatch and benefit
  • Ketogenic diet for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia

Podcast available on iTunes or Stitcher. You can also download the mp3 HERE!!!


Co-parenting Peacefully With Your Toxic Ex Spouse

This is really hard for me to admit...I was the toxic ex. For 6 years. I certainly didn't see myself that way during that time. I just wanted what I thought was best for my children and I felt like I knew what that was while no one else did. There are all kinds of toxic ex spouses. For instance, deadbeats who won't pay child support or take the children during their allotted custody time. The other kind of toxic ex- parent is the one who fights you on every single item and digs their claws in for control. I was the latter. 

I work everyday to be a better co-parent with my ex-husband and his wife. I know that some toxic ex's never get it. Learning to let go of control and to bring mindfulness into my life is what ultimately changed my relationship with my daughters' other set of parents. I was able to see that for one, I probably didn't necessarily know what was best, just what I wanted. I also realized that the stress of needing to control everything in their lives was making me really sick. 

There's a Buddhist saying, "Holding onto anger is like drinking poison expecting the other person to die." Know what happened? I actually did nearly die because of the anger, control, and stress. Ever since it's been a journey to evolve into a healthier human being who is of service to others. The first thing I had to learn was to love myself, then I could learn to really love others in a healthier way. Those steps plus tools I gained in therapy allowed me to let go of control and see that the other set of parents were wonderful. They've gone out of their way many times to help out, they always stick to our agreements, and ultimately they love our children with all of their hearts just like I do. 

You can't change your ex:

If you didn't know that, now you do. What you can do is take responsibility for how you deal with the situation on your end and do the self work necessary to find peace. Talk to a therapist and learn to meditate daily.

Don't engage:

You don't have to attend every argument you're invited to. If you have an ex who knows how to push your buttons and get you engaged, the healthiest thing to do is completely walk away from the argument. You don't have to get caught up in the drama of every passing storm. 

Let go of control:

When two parents are fighting for control, it's not a tight rope situation. Someone isn't going to fall and the other person isn't going to win. These are your children! Don't even pick up the rope. Even if it seems hopeless, things can oftentimes have a way of working out when we let go of control.

Don't involve the kids:

Never, ever, ever talk about your ex in front of your children. That behavior only adds more toxicity to the situation and it's highly irresponsible to the mental health of the kids. Even if your ex is doing that, instead of reverberating it back, explain to your children that they have their own relationship with you and can decide how they feel about you on that alone. You can explain to them that things are difficult between you and the other parent without adding judgment to the conversation.

On that note, children are highly sensitive little beings. They feel and know far more than we ever give them credit for. If things are tense they know, even a single word hasn't been spoken to them about the problems. If your children are struggling with the difficulties between you and your ex, try to get them help. Even if it's talking to their school counselor. 

If you'd like to read more about co-parenting with a toxic ex check out this book:

(affiliate link)


Born Primal Episode 38: Hannah Crum Kombucha Kamp

This week I'm so excited to hang out on the show with Hannah Crum from Kombucha Kamp also known as the Kombucha Mamma.

Hannah has been healing the world, one gut at a time.

In this episode we talk about:

How much booch to drink
History of fermentation

Podcast available on iTunes or Stitcher. You can also download the mp3 HERE!!!


Born Primal Episode 37: Jimmy Moore and Dr. Jeffry Gerber

Jimmy Moore is back with his new book, Keto Clarity. In this episode I chat with Jimmy and Dr. Jeffry Gerber, Denver's Diet Doctor.

We talk about:

Benefits of Ketosis
Criticism of the Ketogenic Diet
Blood Ketone Testing
MCT Oil- Use It Or Not?
AHS and The Ketosis Talks 
Using Ketosis for Bipolar Balancing
Getting Keto Adapted
Physician Freedom- Ancestral Doctors 
Why Ketogenic Diets Aren't For Everyone

Jimmy Moore on Facebook and Twitter
Dr. Jeffry Gerber on Facebook and Twitter 

Podcast available on iTunes or Stitcher. You can also download the mp3 HERE!!!


Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet


Born Primal Episode 36: Tony Federico Paleo Grilling

If you've been wondering where I disappeared to, I've started co-hosting a new podcast called Living The Optimized Life. Dr. Daniel Stickler and I are now partnering with some other wellness folks on the website ePhysiologix.com where we have not only the podcast, but a video series and I host a weekly parenting column.

After a lonnggggg break, Born Primal is back. This week it's with one of my favorite Paleo pals. Tony Federico, the host of Paleo Magazine Radio, is on the show to chat about his new cookbook just in time for Labor Day. Paleo Grilling gets the caveman or cavewoman "fired" up and ready to eat some meat over the grill! Here's what we chatted about:

-Trends we're seeing in the Paleo community
-Starches, carbs, ketosis.
-Our Beyond Food panel at Paleo FX 
-Medication in the Paleo community
-SEX: American ideas, monogamy, non-monogamy, sex ed in school, talking to kids about sex, shame

Podcast available on iTunes or Stitcher. You can also download the mp3 HERE!!!

Buy the book!

Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire


What Is Love?

At this moment, Ray LaMontagne is blaring through my speakers singing "Still don't know what love is." Do any of us? It seems like we all have these different ideas about love. Yet the theme of love is one of the most popular in our culture. We seek love in so many ways, whether it's the love of our parents, the love of our children, the love of a partner, the love of friends. It's always love. We're so invested in the idea of love that we created a holiday specifically celebrating it. Even though most of us have this general concept of what love looks like, it seems most of us have our own ideas. Getting those to match up with others can be one of the biggest challenges we face in life. 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary love in the form of a noun is defined as:

: a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person
: attraction that includes sexual desire : the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship
: a person you love in a romantic way

First let's talk about unconditional love. This is supposed to be a very specific kind of love reserved for our children, pets, and perhaps greater beings we might believe in. In this idea, all other love is set to conditioning. I don't care for this belief system. Do I love my kids unconditionally? Yes, but I love my husband unconditionally too. I love my parents unconditionally. I love my friends unconditionally. What I'm getting at here is that I don't set conditions on love...period. No matter who it's towards. This brings me to my next point.

LOVE IS AN EMOTION, NOT AN ACTION. This is where we're so confused! Remember that definition above? "A feeling of strong or constant affection for a person." Feelings are feelings. Actions are actions. That feeling can be an indicator in romantic love that we want to go to the next level. I'll leave the chemical releases that happen when we feel love to the smarty pants scientists, but just know that you aren't crazy for feeling all gooey and excited when someone is seriously floating your boat. We're human beings evolved to share those chemical bonds so that we may procreate and keep the humans happening for a long time. While it really is just that simple on a cellular level, our very busy brains make it all so complicated. Why else would there be so many Jennifer Aniston Rom-Coms and Ryan Gosling memes?

Ahem....I digress.

Childhood conditioning and the relationships we have early in life can define our adult belief system about love. Perhaps that's where we begin to put conditions on it and believe that love is only defined by action. Because of how we're raised and what we see in movies and television, we have ideas about what love should look like in our culture. But what if we took love as an actionable item off the table and we allowed ourselves to just feel love? To just really truly feel it and have no attachment to any behaviors associated with it? Especially feeling it without needing others to return the feeling.

When I learned what love was, it wasn't because I got married or gave birth to my daughters. It was when I learned to love myself. I don't believe you have to love yourself to experience the feeling of love for someone else. However once I did start loving myself, my ability to feel love for others grew exponentially. I had a new awareness about how love felt. There are times when I feel love for multitudes of different people in a day. Besides feeling it for those closest to me in life, I might feel it for someone I've just met. Like the cashier at Trader Joe's who finds me the gluten-free pizzas in the back for my daughter's sleepover. Just like you might feel anger for the guy who cuts you off in traffic or fear towards the person you feel is following you too closely while you're running or excitement towards the girl who gave you the eye at the gym. Why do we get so hung up on one emotion like love but feel so many other emotions rather freely? The reason is because we've attached action to love instead of just letting it be a feeling. 

Perhaps we could take a step back from making this idea of love be an action. Imagine a world where we just feel love and we don't have walls around us about that feeling. Forget that you've been hurt in past relationships. Stop protecting yourself by pushing that feeling away. Let go of the belief that you don't deserve to feel love because of your behavior. Allow yourself to feel love. Let go of control, let it in, do nothing, and just feel it. 

Who do you feel love for today? 


Why I'm Having a Hysterectomy

Three years ago I wrote THIS article for Robb Wolf's blog. It's called Female Hormones: Finding Balance. A huge amount of my traffic to Primal Balance comes from that article. I get messages every week from people wanting advice about the supplements I mentioned in the article. So many women wanted information that I made this Hormone Imbalance Resource page on my blog.

It's been a long three years since then and I feel like I need to talk about where I am on my hormone journey. I want to say right off that the resources that Robb offered me did help significantly and I know that it's helped a lot of women clear up their estrogen dominance issues. But my story with hormones and my health has evolved so much since then that I want to share my experience now.

I'd love to sit here and tell you that my article and experience three years ago was the final solution. It wasn't. The Breast-D supplement and other DIM supplements I took over the years did help with some of my symptoms but I was dealing with a myriad of problems that I didn't recognize at the time. A year after I treated the estrogen dominance I was diagnosed with cyclothymia, a high functioning version of bipolar disorder. Unfortunately my mood swings are affected by estrogen. My mania and depression flows along with my cycles which ends up making me one of those rapid cyclers as we call it in the mental health world. If you're interested in what my life has been like before and after I was diagnosed you can read about that here.  Basically I had a double whammy happening. An adult life of untreated bipolar disorder and major hormone imbalance. Once my menstrual cycles were better and PMS was gone because of the supplements, my bipolar symptoms became crystal clear. It was no longer just hormones.

I had a good year of decent periods without much mood change once I was doing supplements and medicated for bipolar disorder. Then I decided to pack as much into my life as possible and go to nutritional therapy school. I had a lot of personal stress that I was also not dealing appropriately with in addition to running the blog, working in food policy, and keeping up with my voiceover company. Because I felt like I had some balance for the first time in my life, I thought I could do it all. Wow, I was wrong!! By the middle of that school program the adrenal fatigue set in, my periods started getting closer together, I was experiencing cramps for the first time in years, and overall in rough shape. I kept thinking once I graduate from this program my life will get better. Except it didn't because I continued to pile stress on my plate. I also continued to self-medicate my pain and stress away. Mostly with alcohol. I'm since sober and back in a program of recovery. The poor stress management and alcohol did a major number on my hormones. I started taking the estrogen dominance supplements again but this time it wasn't just ED. It was far more serious and a supplement wasn't going to fix it.

I'm 37 years old and I've had four healthy babies at term and one miscarriage that was a result of that hormone imbalance four years ago. That hormone imbalance that was not only nutritionally based (vegan) but mostly stress based. STRESS- I can't stress it enough (see what I did there) that it will kill you. It will destroy your brain and your body. I just don't play around with it anymore.

Here's how this past year went. I continued to live in my stress until last fall when I interviewed Sarah Fragoso (Everyday Paleo) and I think I cried through half of the podcast. We talked about the effect stress had on her and she was just telling my story. I committed to getting my stress management under control. It did not happen overnight. It's just a journey that I think about everyday. It's the thing that got me sober, it's the thing that brought me mindfulness and meditation. It's the thing that consistently pushes me to work on my mental health and well-being and be better at personal and professional relationships. It's the thing that reminds me not to attain to be perfect and to stay the hell out of shame.

This week I'm having a hysterectomy. It's another part of my hormonal journey. In the process of learning to manage my stress, I realize that due to the unhealthy lifestyle I'd been living, my hormones had been damaged. I starting working closely with my business partner at ePhysiologix, Dr. Daniel Stickler, also known as The Paleo Doc. He's an MD and former gastric bypass surgeon, specializing in hormones at his practice in Asheville, NC. My blood panels showed that I was making no testosterone. My cortisol (STRESS, STRESS, STRESS!) had depleted every last bit of it. We started doing testosterone injections and I began taking progesterone to try to control my bleeding. At this point my cycles are every 19 days, last for 7, and I have what they call flooding. I've been fighting anemia for months with B12 injections. I had numerous conversations with Dr. Dan and my gynecologist about the best way to deal with this and we all agreed that a hysterectomy would give me the most peace while we continued to work on my hormones.

Could I spend years with my new lifestyle trying to fix these issues without an invasive surgery that requires taking an organ? Perhaps. But I'm done. I'm just done. This is negatively affecting my life in every way. I'm getting a fresh start! It's kind of like sobriety and recovery for me. I'm at an age and a place of wisdom in my life that I'm just not taking anything for granted. I know the damage that I've done to myself. I know better now. I live a life of mindfulness which means I meditate daily. I practice what I preach. I handle stress in a healthy way. I practice good self care. I walk everyday. I do what I can to be in nature more. I'm learning to play. I'm doing all the things that I know will lend themselves to keeping my hormones better balanced. I'm also not beating myself up or living in shame that I got myself here. Instead I'm accepting and embracing this new phase of my life.

If you're where I am or was, please get your stress dealt with. You can't eliminate all stress but you can sure as hell manage and perceive it differently. I wish you all the best in health on your own hormone journeys. xo-K


10 Tips For A Natural Birth

When I gave birth to my oldest daughter, I didn’t have any idea how much her birth would be a shock to my system. Fortunately I was prepared for it as much as a woman who hasn’t yet experienced it can be. My birth was a physically painful and emotionally exhausting ordeal. My ten-pound baby was born at home with the assistance of a midwife and her assistants a few days after her due date. What I learned from that experience is that birth is unpredictable. In celebration of her 13 years on this earth and the 3 homebirths I had after (her including a set of twins) I devised these 10 tips to help others find balance in their own birth experience.

  1. Find a doctor or midwife you feel completely comfortable with
  2. Hire a doula
  3. Take a natural childbirth class
  4. Involve your partner
  5. Keep birth attendees low
  6. Have realistic expectations
  7. Create a peaceful birth environment
  8. Go to La Leche League meetings
  9. Create a daily mantra 
  10. Let go

1. Find a doctor or midwife you feel completely comfortable with
Birth is the most primal, intimate experience of a woman’s life. You want to feel safe and secure while you’re going through it. Most obstectric offices require you to cycle through each doctor because there’s a chance you won’t actually give birth with your personal doctor attending. Unfortunately many OBs are unable to give you more than a 10-15 minute appointment due to modern medicine practices. Certified Nurse Midwives who often practice out of obstectric offices or CNM clinics usually offer a more intimate setting for appointments and have longer appointment times. Birth center and home birth midwives, who are sometimes CNM’s but most often Certified Professional Midwives (CPM,) offer appointments that are generally at least an hour long. No matter which option you use, make sure that you are happy and comfortable with the person attending your birth.

2. Hire a doula
The Greek word doula means a woman who serves. In the labor setting a doula cares exclusively for the mother. She is a birth professional who creates a relationship with the expecting mother before, offers physical and emotional support during the labor, and continues the relationship for as long as agreed upon during the postpartum phase. The mother and doula decide before birth what the mother expects. Usually massages, calming words of support, a doula can be the communicator between the mother and the birth attendant. She can also be the person who ensures that the birth team is following through with a pre-written birth plan.

3. Take a natural childbirth class
There are childbirth classes offered by hospitals and doctors offices but they generally only touch on the process of laboring and giving birth in the hospital. Those may be covered by insurance while natural childbirth classes can be expensive, but the cost is worth it. I took The Bradley Method for my first pregnancy, but there are so many options. A doula or midwife can give you options in your area. You can also find resources through a local attachment parenting group.

4. Involve your partner
Birth can be an overwhelming and harrowing experience for male partners. It’s not possible for them to truly understand the changes a mother’s body goes through for the 9 months of pregnancy and months of postpartum. Talking to them about the process is very important. Including them at prenatal visits is helpful and encouraging them to ask questions will help both parents. Most people have never seen birth, especially men. Watch natural childbirth videos together. Talk together about the things that might happen during labor and birth. Many women make primal noises, some cry, some (including me) say they can’t do it. Sometimes encouragement is welcomed and other times it’s distracting or annoying. Tell your partner before labor that you might say mean things and that you don’t mean them. The overwhelming process of birth can make the most timid and respectful woman turn into a sailor instantaneously! Some partners feel helpless watching their wife in discomfort. This is worth communicating about so that your partner feels safe. Another reason to have back up support and the reminder that birth is the most natural experience a woman can go through.

5. Keep birth attendees low
My first birth had a midwife, two assistants, my mother, my mother-in-law, a friend, and my husband. All while I labored naked in my bed. Most of them were sitting in chairs watching. My birth went on hours longer than it should have. My last birth had my husband and my midwife and it was the easiest birth I’ve had. A watched pot never boils. Birth is a private experience. In the hospital you may have less options but this is something you can discuss with your provider and have an expectation set ahead of time of who is allowed in and during which times. Include this in your birth plan if necessary. If you’re birthing at home, have childcare arranged. Even if you want your other children there in attendance, you could change your mind once those early contractions start.

6. Have realistic expectations
You can take every class possible and feel completely prepared going in, but birth is tricky. While our bodies are 100% designed to do this, that doesn’t mean things won’t get weird or go wrong and that can happen very quickly. Keep a positive attitude but also be prepared for things that could become out of the norm. Talk to your provider about the possibilities and ask them how they would handle those situations.

7. Create a peaceful birth environment
Decide what will keep you calmest. Do you like peaceful music, candles, being able to take a bath during birth or planning to labor in a birth tub? This is personal so plan your birth space accordingly to what relaxes you the most. If you’re birthing outside of your home, have the things you desire packed and ready for someone to set up in your birth environment. Your partner or doula should be aware of what things you want in your setting.

8. Go to La Leche League meetings
La Leche League meetings are a breastfeeding support group found in almost every setting. Breastfeeding as seemingly natural as it should be can be one of the most difficult challenges faced by women. You go through all of this work to get the baby out, now you have to figure out how this feeding stuff works! Latch issues, thrush, pain, it can wear down on the most hormonally stable woman. But take one who’s recovering from birth, sleep deprived, and overwhelmed by new motherhood…the breaking point is easy to get to in that situation. This is where a support system is integral. If we were living in primitive tribes we would grow up seeing women breastfeed everywhere. Once it was our turn all of the women would be supporting and teaching us. In the nuclear family, we have almost no breastfeeding support. We have a couple of generations that made breastfeeding out to be a bad thing so women now have mothers who may have never even breastfed. Going to LLL meetings before you ever have your baby can create that support system so that if you find yourself struggling, there are women who can help you through it so that breastfeeding becomes a successful journey for you.

9. Create a daily mantra
I had a decent postpartum hemorrhage after my first daughter. My midwife was very skilled and knew exactly what to do when it happened but during those 10 minutes or so it was a frightening time. During my next pregnancy I told myself everyday that I wouldn’t hemorrhage and I didn’t! For my fourth baby I told myself daily that I would have a beautiful, peaceful birth and I did. Use whatever mantra you’d like for the outcome of your experience.

10. Let go
There is nothing that takes away your control more than birth. Don’t let perfectionism into your experience. If your goal is a natural childbirth but you end up using medication or having a cesarean it’s perfectly okay. Don’t beat yourself up or build resentments about the experience. Let go of the outcome and enjoy the journey with the baby you’re growing. The moment after birth your whole life will change forever.  The truth is that even though birth is this really big deal, you won’t be thinking too much about it once your little one starts growing up and you’re experiencing all that their own journey brings to your life.

Good luck and happy birthing!


Partnerships, Podcasts, and Big Changes On The Way

Dr. Dan and I on set for our new video series launching in July

I've been a little MIA from the blog and podcast. Here's why! Exciting things have been brewing. A year ago I was contacted by Dr. Daniel Stickler (Paleo Doc) when I was graduating from the Nutritional Therapy Association. He wanted to do some collaborative work and also invited me to be part of a Paleo Wellness Retreat in Jamaica.

As you've possibly experienced, so much can happen in a year. We hosted two retreats in Jamaica. We went to Paleo conferences. We gave talks. We figured out what we really want to put out into the Universe. Now we're taking our collaboration to the next level and starting a brand new company that goes public in a couple of weeks, along with our spouses Mickra and Dave and our friends Warren and Elisa. This last year we've all become a family of people committed to bringing wellness to the world. Not just the Paleo world either. Our website will be a place where you can find information that might only be afforded to those with access to integrative healthcare. Dr. Dan is a functional medicine doctor, former gastric bypass surgeon, and fitness professional. He and his partner Mickra run two wellness centers in Charleston, WV and Asheville, NC with a large patient base of people from all over the world. He has a plethora of knowledge to offer and I'm excited to help facilitate getting that to you guys!

The main goal of our new company is to shift the human potential. In addition to the Born Primal show, I've decided to focus on a new podcast that's more inline with the new website. But I will still have amazing guests and wonderful conversations. Just not always Paleo oriented. I believe that's a good thing. We should always keep expanding our horizons and being open to new ideas. I still love the Paleo world and I'm not going anywhere, just broadening the information I can bring to you. Our new website will offer coaching programs from experts in nutrition, self-help, fitness and more. We'll have tons of recipes plus fitness, lifestyle, nutrition, community, and mindfulness resources. Dr. Dan and I will be offering a weekly video series where we talk about nutrition, sexuality, hormone balancing, fitness, and pretty much anything you want to hear about.

We want everyone to be living up to their full potential of an optimized life and we look forward to helping you get there!


My Break Up Letter To Pain

Recently I recognized that I hadn't "officially" ended my relationship with my pain. When something has dominated your life in such a way, it can be difficult to completely say goodbye. I had a lot of fear about that, but it kept showing up in relationships I was choosing in my life. Making it evident that I needed to let go so that all the possible good I was attempting to bring into my life could actually get in. Pain loves to stand in the way of that. I have the right to good, the right to pleasure, and the right to love. So do you. Feel free to add your own break up letter into the comments. 

Dear Pain, 

Every time I try to write this letter to you, I run. Because you are delicious and sweet to my body in the worst kind of way. You are everything that I have ever known. You are heroin, you are nicotine, you are sugar, you are caffeine, you are wine. I can call on you anytime and you are always there….day or night. For almost 30 years I've been attached to you and relied on your availability to meet my needs. I use our relationship to end every good thing that comes my way. When life becomes challenging or overwhelming I run to you like a moth to a flame. But now things are different. You don't own me any longer. Now when I run to you I realize almost immediately your toxic nature. The twinge in my heart is an instant reminder of your danger. Quite honestly, you disgust me. I've known for some time that we we're over but I've held on out of fear, out of predictability. 

I'm breaking up with you and I'm starting a brand new relationship. His name is Pleasure and he is much sweeter and more delicious than you could ever be. Pleasure puts a smile on my face and in my heart in the way you never could and never will. I know you'll try to show up, but I have a restraining order against you. Thank you for all you taught me but it's time to say goodbye. You're not welcome here anymore. 




Born Primal Episode 35: Molly Galbraith Girls Gone Strong

This week, Girls Gone Strong Co-Founder, Molly Galbraith joins Born Primal to chat about helping women love our bodies. Molly is so incredibly knowledgable about training women. She just released the Modern Woman's Guide to Strength Training. A must have for every woman, no matter what shape you're in or your experience level. 

In this episode we talk about Molly's weight struggles when she was younger, finding love of lifting, how women need to be empowered to rock and own what we've got, and we talk about our dislike of the Paleo police! 

Podcast available on iTunes or Stitcher. You can also download the mp3 HERE!!!

Show Notes:
Molly on Facebook & Twitter
Love Your Body Challenge
Get the guide!!


Born Primal Episode 34: Paleo f(x) Wrap Up With Karen Phelps

Karen Phelps and I rocking our twin bamboo shirts. Gifts from Tess McNulty and her friends at Atlas Wear Clothing

Karen Phelps, my best friend, returns to Born Primal to chat about our fun times in Austin a couple of weeks ago at Paleo f(x). Karen blogs at Paleo Periodical, she writes for Paleo Magazine, and she handles PR for the Ancestral Health Symposium. 

Here are the topics we cover in this episode (photos below)

*My talk on "The Power of Imperfectionism"

*Cultivating The Well-Adjusted Male aka "The Man Panel" with Robb Wolf, J. Brett Smith, Geoffrey Miller, Tucker Max, John Durant, and Christopher Ryan 

*The feminization of men: why we like male attention

*Rafe Kelley workshop: Evolve, Move, Play

*Dan Stickler's talk 

*Paleo and Addiction panel with Karly Randolph Pitman, Kaila Prins, Susan McCauley, Amy Kubal, and Dr. Nicole Avena

*Christopher Ryan (Sex At Dawn) "Paleosexuality" talk and the Bonobo sex video

*My "Beyond Food" panel and how it went from meditation to a sex talk in 20 minutes time with Darryl Edwards, Dr. Dan Stickler, Kyle Maynard, and Steve Kirsch 

*"US Healthcare: In Crisis or Chaos?" panel with Robb Wolf, Dr. Grayson Wheatley, Julie & Charles Mayfield, Dr. Richard Maurer, and Darryl Edwards

Podcast available on iTunes or Stitcher. You can also download the mp3 HERE!!!

Show Notes:
Karen's "Man Panel" Post
My "Coming Out of the Mental Health Closet" post
Ancestral Health Symposium 
Karen's new project: Year in a Yurt

PALEO f(x) Photographic Evidence

Pecha Kucha opening event with Michelle Norris (PFX) & Will White/Caveman Cafeteria who catered the event 
My talk!! "The Power of Imperfectionism"
Getting to squeeze on one of my favorite girls, Sarah Fragoso

Free Kombucha all weekend?? Yes!! Thank you LIVE Kombucha

The "Man Panel" l-r Chris Ryan, Robb Wolf, Brett Smith, Tucker Max, John Durant, & Geoffrey Miller

Another gorgeous lovely I never get enough of, Liz Wolfe

Our fun table at the presenter dinner! Glen White, Shauna Young, Geoffrey Miller, Moi!
Such a beautiful night at Springdale Farm for the presenter dinner
My favorite fashion lover, Diane Sanfilippo
Dr. Daniel Stickler, The Paleo Doc
Two of the beauties from the addiction panel Karly Randolph Pitman & Kaila Prins
My "Beyond Food" panel l-r Kyle Maynard, Darryl Edwards, Dan Stickler, Me, Steve Kirsch
Post conference shooting in Austin! 


Coming Out of the Mental Health Closet

Paleo FX 2014 - Our Flaws Are Our Trophies

This post is about the direction that I am taking Primal Balance. I've had some incredible breakthroughs in my life the last few years. I think it's time that I share some of those. This blog has always been about my journey in the primal lifestyle. I created it three years ago as a way to share my experiences of switching to a Paleo diet, fitness, nutritional therapy training, but most of all trying to balance my brain. I have always struggled with being manic depressive. Chemical imbalances run through my family like brown hair does. I feel like a lot of people will relate with me here but we have so much shame about mental illness and so much judgment about the treatment of it that very few people in the Paleo community will talk about it without condemning others' choices on how to handle it. Those of us who face it stay in the closet for fear of being ostracized.

So this is me being the voice for those of you who haven't found yours yet, but I know you will in your own time. Maybe I'll lose credibility, but honestly I think that those of you who need to hear this will embrace my story and support me through this. Two years ago, I was white knuckling it. I'd been Paleo for a year. My hormones were a disaster and with the help of Robb Wolf and his super podcast I got those straightened out, but my mood swings were only getting worse and my emotional turmoil was spiraling. I was going through intensive therapy that was helping me but the chemical ups and downs were blocking my growth. I tried to Paleo harder. I tried a ketogenic diet which made me utterly miserable. I did sugar detoxes that helped at least temporarily but didn't offer long term solutions. I had shame that I wasn't doing this lifestyle right. Because if I was, I wouldn't be such an emotional wreck.

You see I had a difficult childhood and I know for sure I'm not alone in this. I didn't know how to cope, so at 11 years old I developed a phobia of choking which turned into anorexia. Then when I was 15 I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol so I used those until I became a serious drug addict by the age of 21. It was all control mechanisms to avoid hurt and have some control over a young girl’s life that was completely out of control. I found myself in a 12 step program and while I easily got clean, for the first time I was feeling the disgusting pain of my life. I don't even know if there was one shred of light inside of me. I just felt black on the inside. I had a successful radio career with a well-known morning show on a popular station. But I spent most of my time fantasizing about suicide and escaping pain through caffeine, unhealthy food, cigarettes, and men. During that first sober year I was wrongly diagnosed by a psychiatrist and put on medication that only created a dependency on more drugs and caused me to be manic for two years straight.

When I got pregnant with my first daughter, I weaned off the meds and vowed to never use medication for my mental wellbeing again. Fortunately through my pregnancies and years of breastfeeding I found stability, but as soon as I wasn't pregnant or nursing I couldn't cope. I've always been high functioning, putting on the pretty face that I had my sh*t together. It was never hard for me to fake it because I was such a perfectionist that I spent my life trying to make people think I was...well...perfect.

Exactly two years ago I go to a family reunion. I get completely triggered by old, old, old abandonment that courses through my veins thicker than the blood inside of them. I was correctly diagnosed at that time and had an understanding therapist who supported my stance on using medication. She was trying very hard to help me cope without it. After the family reunion I came home suicidal. For the first time in a while and I knew that I could not live this way anymore. My children deserved better, my husband deserved better, and most of all—dammit!—I deserved better.

So I made an appointment with a psychiatrist who is the most gentle, supportive man I could have ever asked for. He listened to my concerns. He nurtured me in a way I didn't expect. He told me the story about Ted Turner in Atlanta who owns the Braves and all those tv stations and his journey through mental illness and finding success after he got medicated. I felt hope for the first time...maybe ever. The doctor found the right medication for me and I'm not exaggerating when I say, by the next day, my life changed. There were no side effects, I was still me, I wasn't addicted to the pills, I could actually do the work on my emotions without the chemical stuff holding me back. My husband fell in love with me all over again because he could finally see who I really might be. I started healing relationships with people I didn't think possible. Most of all...myself.

I learned to love myself. Through this journey I let go of control, jealousy, attachment, and I found freedom. I worked really hard. I'm not giving the medication all the credit here but it certainly deserves some of it. I do not believe that being medicated is right for everyone but I am tired of the judgment in this community about it. A few months after I started taking it, I was sharing a room with a beautiful young woman I'd just met at a Paleo conference. I had not yet told anyone in the Paleo world about my secret so I told her and she was so accepting. And told me that she knew someone close to her that was much like me and that she hoped one day I would come out of the closet so that maybe I could help others. Eris, I've never forgotten that conversation. You've been my inspiration to work up the courage to write this post all of these years.

I've made it a point to tell more people my "secret" lately as I've preached to y'all that shame can't live in the dark. It's definitely not a secret now and I'm proud of it actually. The beautiful thing is, lots of people in this community are going through exactly the same thing and once I got brave enough to share with them what I was going through they said they were going through it too. I know when I give a talk and women are in the audience crying because they can relate to my story, that I've made all of the right choices on this journey. I want to empower you to be who you truly are and I want you to make choices that are right for you and not based off the judgments of others. I want you to heal and live a joyful, fulfilling, and balanced life.

The direction of this blog will continue to move into a platform of empowerment and motivation. I want to talk about relationships and trauma and all that stuff that keeps us small. I hope you'll continue to join me on this journey of healing and finding self love…together.