Coming Up For Air: Two Books in 21 Months, and Now What?

July 21, 2014 in Categories: by

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TPM FamilyIn the olden days of this blog (something like 2 years ago), I included personal posts–about my own health journey, my experiences of raising two young girls in a Paleo family, and how I am encouraging positive health choices for my husband–at least once per month.  Actually, when I first started this blog, I posted about our challenges, successes, experiments and frustrations nearly weekly.

But, it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post about me or my family.  What happened?

Well, I wrote a book.  Two actually.  Oh, and I launched a Consultation Company.  And, I became recognized as one of the thought leaders in the Paleo Movement and went from having very few people outside of followers knowing who I am to consulting twice for the Dr. Oz Show, being included in dozens of Summits (like the Eating Psychology Online Conference which starts TODAY), being interviewed for magazine articles, writing magazine articles (more on this soon), presenting at conferences, consulting for companies,  being a guest on dozens of podcasts and radio shows, and having Robb Wolf’s phone number in my address book (squee!).

When I started my books 21 months ago, my readership was approximately 1/40th of what it is now.  My blog was my hobby, an outlet for my enthusiasm about Paleo and my natural geekiness for the science behind it.  And, I was doing 100% of all of it, my own IT, all the social media, every single post, every single product and book review, everything.   It was a huge job, to which I added writing two epic tomes.   And it became quickly apparent that I had to change a few things in order to meet all of my commitments.

For those of you who don’t know the story, I had originally planned to have The Paleo Approach and The Paleo Approach Cookbook be one book, but as I started flushing out the science that I wanted to include in The Paleo Approach and accumulating recipes (The Paleo Approach Cookbook has over 200!) we discovered that my book was so overly ambitious that it would be too big to bind–by a factor of about 2!–and it was divided into a guidebook and a companion cookbook.  What was originally supposed to be about a 9 or 10 month project became 21 months of working about 60-70 hours a week (between the books, the blog, and co-hosting The Paleo View podcast), mostly while my kids are at school or playing with babysitters, and after they go to bed at night.

Book Twins-ssmI feel deeply honored for the opportunity to write my books, to be an educator and a role model.  And I feel humbled by the large social media following I have amassed, mostly in the last year.  I don’t think I can even begin to describe how it feels to have thousands of people credit me for their improved health.  I have something very important to say to those people:  I don’t deserve the credit, you do.  You’re the one actually making changes and taking control of your health.  Give yourself a pat on the back. :)

How writing books has changed this blog…

There’s actually been some huge benefits that arose from me struggling to meet my commitments and incorporate so many new responsibilities into my days throughout the last nearly two years.

The most important benefit is my two assistants, Tamar and Christina, who are both amazingly competent and talented and have kept this blog going for the past several months.  You’ll notice that they answer the majority of questions asked on blog posts and social media posts.  It was hard for me to give up so much of my direct interactions with all of you, but this was also a way for me to guarantee that every comment and post would get read and responded to, when it became too big of a task for me to manage by myself.  Tamar and Christina actually do a very wide range of “behind the scenes” tasks related to keeping this blog up and running, and I truly do not know what I would do without them.

I’m also now looking for interns, especially anybody with science backgrounds, who would like to help with literature searches and research for blog posts.  If you’re interested, please contact my team at contact@thepaleomom.com with an introduction and your credentials.

My blog readership increased dramatically with the launch of The Paleo Approach, I think in part because the detailed scientific nature of that book caught the attention of some major forces in the Paleo Movement and the Alternative Health Movement.  This has led to some amazing opportunities, the constant stream of great companies willing to sponsor giveaways (woot!), and has also allowed me to keep the blog going more effectively during the last few hectic months of working on the cookbook compared to how the blog slowed to a crawl while I was finishing the guidebook.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the increased number of guest posts on this blog over the last few months. This has been necessary to create as much time as possible for me to focus on getting The Paleo Approach Cookbook complete and off to the printer on time for its August 26th, 2014 release date (I think that deserves another WOOT!). One of the major benefits to having such a huge audience is that I’ve been able to solicit extremely high quality guest posts. This has meant that you’ve had great content posted here on a regular basis, and I’ve been able to keep my nose to the grindstone.

However, moving forward, you can expect the frequency of posts that are guest posts to decrease. I really want to get back to writing for this blog, my first passion and my continued passion. I am actively working on several blog posts, all topics that I’m interested in and have been meaning to explore for a while (including some fairly controversial topics like cancer risk, non-celiac gluten intolerance, diet changes for autism and ADHD, ketogenic diets, and resistant starch). These types of topics will often take me 40-60 hours per post to thoroughly research and write, so it might be a few weeks before you see the first of them.

How writing books led to a new company…

Consulting LogoOne of the other benefits of the craziness of the last nearly two years was launching ThePaleoMom Consulting.  This was a direct response to the hundreds of e-mails I get every day asking for health advice.  It’s actually completely illegal for me to give any medical or nutrition advice (and those murky waters of “well, research says….” was creating some liability issues that I am unwilling to risk).  And even replying with an “I’m sorry I can’t help you, but here’s where you can find a good healthcare practitioner” was taking hours every day (not to mention had me feeling horrible).  My solution was to hire four of the absolute best (and certified!) nutrition and health consultants , and offer a real service to those of you who need that help.  This company has been a resounding success, and has helped dozens of people in the short time since its launch.  You can get more information here.

Finally getting to the point…

This has become a fairly longwinded way for me to say something quite simple:  I’m sorry I haven’t shared much about my personal health journey lately.  It’s actually been quite eventful so far in 2014 and I know that many of you have been eagerly anticipating more information on how I healed a severe burn so quickly despite complications, what I’m doing to address adrenal fatigue and hormone imbalance, and my forays into the world of CrossFit.

I’m not sure that I can really play catch-up here.  So, maybe what I’ll have to do is settle for some bullet points.

August 2013.  I started gaining weight.  The stress of The Paleo Approach was starting to really ramp up.  I didn’t worry about it at first, figuring the weight would come off when I de-stressed when the book was done.

December 2013.  The day after The Paleo Approach was sent to the printer, I woke up pneumonia.  I escaped having to take antibiotics, but did have to start taking an inhaled steroid.  I got sick 2 more times in the next six weeks.  My body was crashing.

January-February 2014.  I suffered a pretty major burn as the result of a kitchen accident (hot bacon grease slopped on my sleeve, which was too tight to get off quickly).  The burn was a deep 2nd degree burns with a couple small spots of probable 3rd degree where I had “immediate loss of tissue”.  The burn measured about 2″x7″, covering most of my forearm.  Initially, I was told the burn would take months to heal, would scar, and may even need a skin graft. On day 5, the burn got infected.  I agreed to take antibiotics and went to see a burn specialist.  The burn specialist scrubbed the burn (ouch!!!) and applied a special bandage that had to stay on for 7 days (and that itched like crazy!).  On the last day of the antibiotics, I developed a systemic allergic reaction to them (Bactrim, which is a sulfa drug).  I had to go on prednisone for 15 days.  It was miserable.

I kept my food choices very centered around skin health, lots of fat soluble vitamins from organ meat, coconut oil, cultured grass-fed ghee, and fermented cod liver oil.  Also, lots of glycine-rich foods, including lots of homemade bone broth and a collagen supplement.  I also eat lots of greens and other vegetables.  After the special bandage comes off, I use a mix of a prescription anti-scarring lotion, Vintage Traditions Body Balm, Tamanu Oil, Green Pasture Beauty Balm, and Primal Life Organics Torn Up Primal Skin Repair, applying one of those moisturizers every few hours throughout the day.

Throughout all this, I’m also doing book events and working on the cookbook.

March 2014. I hadn’t lost any of the weight I had gained while working on The Paleo Approach and I gained a further 5 pounds while on prednisone.  I track my calories and they are on target.   I track my micronutrients and I’m getting tons of everything (thanks to all those high nutrient-density foods).  So, I find a local functional medicine specialist, Dr. Lynn Flowers, who was an emergency medicine doctor for 20 years before giving it up to open an anti-aging practice, and who is extremely skilled and insightful.  I go through a bunch of tests.

Three weeks later, I get the test results.  Lots of good news (super high omega-3 to 6 ratio, normal thyroid function, excellent blood sugar regulation, great cholesterol).  And some bad news: I have adrenal insufficiency.  My adrenal glands are making only a fraction of the cortisol that my body needs to run normally.  I’m deficient in DHEA, testosterone and progesterone.  I start adrenal support supplements, and hormone balancing therapy.  I also opt for micronutrient testing.

More traveling and more working on the cookbook.

ImageApril 2014.  My burn looks so amazing when I go to my 8-week follow-up appointment that I graduate from the burn clinic.  They’ve never seen anyone heal from such a major burn so well so quickly…. and they credit the doctor.  I didn’t bother getting into it.

I get my micronutrient testing results back.  The only thing I’m deficient in is biotin, so I start a supplement.   I agree to do a medical detox (i.e., supplement based), the Metabolic Detox by Douglas Labs.

I get the first draft of the cookbook manuscript turned in, but only have a week and a half off before edits come back for me to go through.

May 2014.  The detox is miserable.  I did so much traveling in April that my 4-year old has decided that no boys are allowed in her bedroom so she won’t let her dad read her bedtime stories when I’m gone.  Instead, my 7-year old puts her to bed.  Time for a break, except work on the cookbook is ramping up. I’m in the editing and designing phase of the cookbook.  This is the part with strict deadlines, and it’s becoming less and less enjoyable to work on the book.

I decide to start CrossFit.  I need an outlet and a stress reducer and because of my low testosterone, Dr. Flowers thinks it’s a great idea.

I actually start losing a little body fat and putting on muscle.  The number on the scale isn’t changing, but my body is.

July 2014.  I’ve been doing CrossFit for three months.  I’m stronger, I sleep better, and I love it.  I’m still learning how to read my body’s signals when it’s crying out for a rest day, but I’m getting better.  Mentally, I would love to do it every day; but physically, about 4 times a week seems about right.  There’s almost no visible mark of the burn and people think I’m making up how severe it was.  I’ll take it.  My weight has stayed steady over the last 6 months, which is disappointing, but my body shape is changing thanks to CrossFit.  And, I’ve got some pretty rockin’ awesome shoulders now.

I will re-test cortisol and hormones next month.  My anticipation is that they’ll still be low.  But, I’m working hard on de-stressing, getting lots of sleep, and continuing to keep my diet very clean.

2014-07-05 13.55.12My health did not fall apart when The Paleo Approach Cookbook went to print at the beginning of July, despite the fact that I finished the book while traveling by myself with my kids, preparing for my brother’s wedding (in which my girls and I were in the wedding party) and dealing with some family stuff–and I credit Dr. Flowers and CrossFit for that.

Now What: the blog and life…

I still feel passionately about sharing my own personal experiences and those of my family with you.  It’s just been hard to find the time lately!  I hope this post catches you up a bit.  And I’ll definitely be keeping you updated on my recovery from adrenal fatigue and hopefully my success in losing those “book stress pounds”.  My girls are also both interested in doing interviews (like this post), which will be very fun!

There’s a couple of more sciency posts that I want to write inspired by my experiences over the last six months, like: what to do if you have to take antibiotics, what to do if you have to take steroids, what exactly is functional medicine, what is hormone balancing, and how to recover from adrenal fatigue.  Again, these are time consuming posts to write (at least to write them properly), but all topics I’m hoping to get to soon.

I feel happy and proud of my books.  But, I’m also glad that they’re done. Now, I’m focusing on finding better work-life balance (more time for family fun, hobbies, activity, nature, and sleep).   And, I’m making sure that the projects I work on are both fun and rewarding.   And finally getting to write more new content for this blog.  And, making sure that I get to connect with you!  Lol!  It might take me a while to actually find the right balance!

Now what: the books…

As the launch of The Paleo Approach Cookbook rapidly approaches, my schedule is becoming full of interviews (not that I’m complaining!).  I’m planning as many book events as I think my family can handle. It’s very stressful for my family when I travel, so I just can’t do a big book tour.  Instead, I do short trips and tend to stay within a 2-hour flight from Atlanta (home).  You can keep an eye out for events near you on my Events Page.

As an aside, I’ve been trying to figure out how to fund this book travel.  You might be surprised to know that when authors go on book tours (at least with my publisher, who does the majority of the Paleo books), it’s on their own dime.  I briefly contemplated crowd sourcing, using IndieGoGo or something similar, however, if you don’t meet your target, you don’t get any of the funds raised.  Plus, time is pretty short for something like that.  Instead, I thought maybe I should just ask.  If you’d like to donate toward my travel expenses for my book tour events this fall, please do so here:

I’m hoping to visit Charlotte NC, Washington DC, New York NY, Philadelphia PA, Chicago IL, Denver CO, and Toronto ON. Every little bit helps.  THANK YOU!!!!

If you would like to support me in a different way, please consider buying The Paleo Approach.  If you already have it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon, Barnes&Noble and other online retailers. Another way to support me is to pre-order The Paleo Approach Cookbook.

I also have been asked several times what Book #3 will be?  It so happens that I have a pretty detailed idea of what I want to write, but I have also promised my family that I will not start a third book until my adrenal glands are functioning normally again and my house is organized (I’m in the process of completely organizing my home office space, which will be followed by major cleaning and organization of most of the rest of the house).  I am in the very early stages of work on an e-book (a collaborative project that I expect to take close to a year to complete).  And I’m working on a few other projects that I’m not ready to share with the world yet.  Rest assured, I’m not bored!

So onward and upward, I guess. And, it’s good to be back!!!!

Comments

Thanks for sharing your real life struggles, it helps me with my struggles and frustrations over my own health issues which are overwhelming me. It gives me new determination to continue to fight for myself because I want to live with without pain, do the things I want to do and have a healthy weight; all things that I used to have and want back! Thanks again!

So good to hear an update on how you are doing, sounds like you are doing great! Jack & I miss hearing from you at Dance Class each week.

I admire your strength and perseverance. I too way over did it this year with a new high stress male dominated career with two kids under six, an hour each way commute, and finishing a certification program. It has cost me some weight gain and adrenal thyroid slow down…I am not happy but happy to pause regroup and keep living life….and not eat and make bad food choices over fatigue or frustration!

I loved this post! So great to “hear” how you are doing. Thank you for sharing your story with us. This is what keeps me coming back to your site. It’s filled with amazing information, but it is also personal, too!

“I don’t deserve the credit, you do. You’re the one actually making changes and taking control of your health. Give yourself a pat on the back. :)” – while that may be true, the fact is that until I found your book, I had absolutely no idea how to feed my body. I just knew what I was doing was wrong. My dr told me to eat more whole grains and beans. Just before I was diagnosed with my third autoimmune disease three months ago, I stood in my kitchen and cried because I knew what I was eating was making me sick. But I had no idea what changes to make. (I ate “healthier” than anybody I knew. Only whole grains, beans, and vegetables with a little bit of chicken and olive oil.) So I got on the internet and found…….YOU. Words can’t express how much I appreciate your work. I have a long way to go, but I have come so far. I can get out of bed! I can make it through the day without pain pills. The brain fog is gone. But mostly I have hope now. My drs told me to expect a new autoimmune disease every decade for the rest of my life. I finally feel like I have some control and can prevent that. I’m following AIP to the letter, and it feels so good!

PLEASE take good care of yourself. We need your insight and science “geekiness”. I’m a teacher of special needs kids, but I had to take the last 6 weeks of school off. I think I’ll be able to go back in the fall. See how many people you touch? Even every kid in my class. THANK YOU SARAH.

Thanks you for sharing! You never cease to amaze me with how well you take care of yourself! I’ve been struggling to recover from stage 3 adrenal insufficiency myself and can certainly sympathize with what you’ve been through!! I can imagine how very intense it has been for sure! I wish you complete healing in these upcoming months of “rest” and recovery! I’m wondering if you will share what test(s) you did for evaluating your micronutrients. Thank you!!

Hello Sarah! I’m new to paleo and love your blog! I have a question, what do you recommend for thyrod healing? I’ve lost my menstruation years ago, and I’m trying to fix things with diet.

What a crazy whirlwind you have been on. I’m so happy to see you having so much success. You are one of the first Paleo bloggers that i followed as I started my journey a few years ago. I’m not in remission from Rheumatoid Arthritis and I did it one meal at a time. Yours were a lot of those meals!! I will definitely donate to your tour, buy your cookbook and come to Chicago IL to see you! I’m in Toledo, OH so 4 hours away. Also thank you for introducing me to the plantain your plantain pancakes are one of my go-to’s :)

I loved this update post! Thank you for all you do! Your life is such an inspiration. I’ve pre ordered The Paleo Approach Cookbook and I am giddy with excitement to receive it in the mail! Take care!

I bought the Paleo Kitchen Cook Book. I am reading the Paleo Approach book now. I’m confused. The Paleo Kitchen Cook Book uses ingredients that should be avoided per the Paleo Approach book.

Thank you Christina! I have Hashimotos, so I better pay attention to what recipe I use from the Paleo Kitchen book.

Sarah, I had no idea you were going through this. How ironic that you faced this tough time of injury and illness in December/January/February, because that’s just when I was discovering your work, which is helping me turn my health around (after years of suffering from un-healed celiac disease, and the colitis and food allergies that developed as a result). Think what it says about your work that even while you are battling your own health crisis, you are saving the life of someone you never even met. You look beautiful in your wedding-party dress; please take good care of yourself and continue to restore your own health – you have more well-wishers than you know!

Yay! Glad you’re “back”, Sarah. Please please take care of yourself. I am an avid Paleo View listener, and love both you and Stacy. You guys are the bright spot in my week. I’ve been struggling myself recently, and find so much inspiration in you two awesome ladies! I can’t wait to read the new science posts, but it is great to hear from you again about what’s going on in your world.

So good to read all that’s been going on with you, Sarah.
You’ve been my guide since spring 2013 and I’ve been missing you in the blog and – gulp!- now I know why. I am so impressed by how well you have been taking care of yourself amid the chaos and how you’re getting that chaos to recede.
I’m so looking forward to the coming posts – all of them.

We love you Sarah, you turned your serious health problems to a lifetime success and you’re spreading it to everyone else !

OMG Sarah…I’m still trying to “digest” the 1st book can’t believe you already finished book 2. NO rush on another cut I do look forward to your writing on resistant starch. So glad burn healed so well & so quickly! Would you please share what adrenal support supplements you are using?
BTW…you look beautiful in that gown, congrats on shift in body comp. Well done.
Please take care.

Would looooooooooooooove a 3rd book from you…..but would rather see you getting to live in the “slow” (or appropriate speed) lane, the way you encourage the rest of us to do!! You and your family FIRST, then us!! ;) As always, so thankful for all you do!! <3

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