Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Day in the Life (Almost 2.9 Years Old)

Good morning!

So, I missed our Day in the Life post for last month (oops, again), so I figured I would write next month’s post a little early with another mid-month post to make up for it. I also wanted to make sure that I got in this month’s post because it marks such a significant age for our little guy. Our sweet boy turns 2.9 years old next week, which, in the school/daycare world, is a big, important age because it means Qman is old enough for preschool! (Where did my baby go!?) Just this week, his teachers let us know that he’ll start to transition to preschool, splitting time there and in his current toddler classroom. There are two other kids in his class, who are moving to preschool too, so, hopefully, having some buddies will help with the transition. Anyway, here’s a recap from a day in our life earlier this week!

4:01 AM: I wake up drenched in sweat (ugh, annoying), so I get out of bed and change my clothes. I climb back into bed.

4:21 AM: My mind is wandering to my To Do list for the day as well as random things like whether or not baby carrots will freeze well since we have a big bag in the fridge, and I don’t think we’ll eat them all. (Have I mentioned I have an obsession with wasting food!?) I eventually give up on sleep, find my slippers, and head downstairs.

4:23 AM: I break out my laptop, answer a few emails, approve and reply to comments on my blog and social media.

4:45 AM: I pour myself a half glass of iced coffee mixed with Dandy Blend, collagen, and coconut creamer. I read an interesting article about giving up coffee and how it can help improve your skin. Obviously, I have zero interest in giving up my beloved iced coffee, but I figured cutting back would probably help. At home, I typically drink 2-3 glasses of iced coffee per day, so now I’m drinking a 1/2 to 1 glass with Dandy Blend mixed in. It tastes similar to coffee without the caffeine or acidity, and, bonus, dandelion and roasted chicory root are actually really good for you!

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4:46 AM: I get to work – busy week ahead!

5:20 AM: Mal comes downstairs, says good morning, and starts to make his breakfast.

5:30 AM: We hear Quinn wake up. He’s whining/crying. We give him a few minutes to settle himself down, but he’s just getting more and more upset. Mal heads upstairs to try to calm him down. (If I go into his room at this hour, he will for sure want to get up and start the day.) I finish making Mal’s breakfast for him.

5:39 AM: Mal doesn’t have any luck with Qman. They come downstairs and head into the living room. I stop working and follow them in, thinking I can score some early-morning toddler cuddles.

5:40 AM: Mal doesn’t turn on the lights in the living room and he’s whispering “lay down” to Quinn, so I assume they worked out some sort of deal that he’ll go back to sleep on the couch. (Qman likes being “downstairs” once he hears that we’re up for the day.)

5:42 AM: All is quiet in the living room, so Mal comes back into the kitchen to eat his breakfast, and I start to work again.

6:00 AM: Quinn starts crying. “Nap time” is over. He wants to watch a show, so I grab my iced coffee and snuggle with him on the couch. We watch Octonauts.

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6:19 AM: Quinn asks for a “bar, please,” which has become a morning ritual. He loves cereal bars and would eat them day and night if we let him. I know they have a lot of sugar, but he’s such a picky eater, we’re just happy he’s eating at all, and they’re not ALL bad. The PB& J Bars (gluten-free) as well as the Fig Cereal Bars from Trader Joe’s are actually semi-decent in the sugar department (11g, 13g) compared to other cereal bars, even the ones at Whole Foods (17-19g).

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6:22 AM: Qman is content eating his bar and watching TV, so I head upstairs to quickly get ready for the day.

6:35 AM: We say goodbye to Dada.

6:44 AM: I make Quinn and me breakfast. He has mini pancakes, mango, Greek yogurt, and milk for breakfast. I eat scrambled eggs and roasted sweet potatoes. Quinn eats three bites of yogurt and one pancake and says he’s all done. Well, ok then. He starts playing with his cars, so I finish my breakfast and then get him ready for the day.

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7:00 AM: Murphy’s all out of dog treats, so Quinn and I make him a batch!

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7:45 AM: I pop the dog treats in the oven and clean up the kitchen.

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8:00 AM: I offer Quinn his breakfast again. He eats a couple more pancakes, a few more bites of yogurt, and finishes his milk. Woohoo!

8:15 AM: Time for our bi-weekly Early Intervention session. Things are wrapping up with his services (he’s made great strides and probably won’t qualify for another year), so we chat, fill out paperwork, and play LEGOS.

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9:30 AM: EI ends. I’m pretty hungry, so I whip up a snack: Apple chunks nuked in microwave with cinnamon on top.

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9:39 AM: The doorbell rings, Murphy goes ballistic (the doorbell is his nemesis), and a special delivery arrives from my friends at General Mills...  just in time for National Cereal Day!

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Inside the package is a personalized Carrots ‘N’ Cake spoon.

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As well as all sorts of fun decorations and activities to celebrate National Cereal Day next Tuesday! FYI: If you follow CNC on Instagram, keep you eyes peeled for a special cereal giveaway! 🙂

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10:25 AM: Qman tells me that he wants to “go in the car.” Well, ok then! 🙂 I suggest a few places to go, and he ultimately decides on the “cows,” but immediately clarifies what he really wants to see and says “cat.”

10:42 AM: We arrive at Hornstra Farm and, as soon as I park the car, Quinn’s cat friend approaches us. We follow him around the farm for a solid 20 minutes before briefly stopping to see the cows.

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11:06 AM: We head inside the farm store. We shop around for a little bit and ultimately decide to buy some Coffee Toffee ice cream. Great choice, Quinn! 🙂

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11:10 AM: We leave the store and look for Quinn’s cat friend to say goodbye, but he’s nowhere to be found.

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11:30 AM: We arrive home. I make us lunch.

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12:15 PM: We finish eating lunch. Qman plays while I clean up.

12:45 PM: Nap time for Quinn.

1:00 PM: Workout time for Mumma!

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Wearing: Reebok Nano 7.0 <— super cute, right?

1:30 PM: I take a quick shower, get dressed, and then get to work.

2:45 PM: I’m starting to get hungry, so I break out an RXBAR. Delicious!

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3:30 PM: The UPS guy rings our doorbell, Murphy goes ballistic, and wakes up Quinn. Ughhhh. I used to put a note on the front door asking delivery people not to ring the doorbell during nap time, but no one has rung it in ages, so I just stopped doing it. I guess we got a new doorbell-happy UPS man? Blah. #momfail.

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3:33 PM: I wait a few minutes to see if Quinn will settle himself down, but he’s getting more and more upset, so I head upstairs to his bedroom. He’s really sad, so I bring him downstairs to the living room. We cuddle on the couch for quite awhile. I keep thinking he’s asleep, but every time I look down at him, his eyes are open. Ha!

3:53 PM: Qman is (suddenly) finished with cuddle time, so he slides off the couch and (literally) runs into his playroom. Such a goof. Apparently, he really wanted to play with his cars at that very moment! Haha!

3:59 PM: Mal arrives home. We catch up and then decide to take a family walk since it’s such a nice day.

4:15 PM: Family walk!

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4:55 PM: We arrive home after our walk. The (human) boys add some air to the tires on our jogging stroller while Murphy and I head upstairs for dinner.

4:58 PM: Dinnertime for Murphy!

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6:07 PM: Dinnertime for the humans!

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6:45 PM: We finish eating dinner. Mal and I tag team the cleaning in the kitchen and then we all have some ice cream for dessert! 🙂

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7:00 PM: We watch a TV show with Quinn.

7:25 PM: Time to get Quinn ready for bed. Mal takes over pajamas, teeth, and books while I do a little work in my office. I check for “sugar bugs” after Quinn brushes his teeth and then join them for Qman’s favorite book of the moment.

7:55 PM: Bedtime for Quinn.

8:00 PM: Usually, Mal and I watch TV after we put Quinn to bed, but we’re both exhausted, so we get ready for bed ourselves, read for maybe 15 minutes, and then go to sleep.

8:30 PM: Lights out.

The end.

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Bojangles’ Chicken ‘n Biscuits Whistleblower Sends Us Never Before Released Ingredients.

It’s absolutely appalling to me that we have been asking the restaurant chain Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits for their ingredients for over a year, and they refuse to provide any information to us. They have over 600 restaurants and no one … Continued

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How to Move through Life with an Edge

Inline_Life_with_an_EdgeEvery former competitive athlete’s worst nightmare is that moment when you lose to a younger person doing the sport you love. When the cocoon of invincibility and superiority you’ve erected around yourself comes crashing down and a piece of your self-identity shatters. It can truly feel like the end.

I know the feeling. Several years ago on a family ski trip, my son challenged me to a downhill snowboard race. We’d been doing these races—and I’d been winning them—ever since he was old enough to board. It was tradition that we race, and that I win. It’s just how it played out.

This time was different. I was a newly minted member of the 6-decades club. He was a young man, fully grown, years of sports under his belt. He smoked me. It wasn’t even close. And suddenly I realized that despite being in the best shape of my life relative to my age, that upper limit was trending down.

Luckily, the existential crisis was short-lived if it ever really happened. A few moments were all I needed to realize this wasn’t a tragedy. It was the opposite: the graduation of my son into manhood, the passing of the torch.

Our snowboard race also highlighted a simple fact of human biology and aging that we all have to face. Performance inevitably declines. Michael Jordan in his 40s can’t beat Kevin Durant one-on-one. Usain Bolt won’t beat his WR 100M run from 2009. Arnold will never regain his Mr. Olympia title. It transcends physical output as well—the Rolling Stones won’t ever match “Sticky Fingers” or “Exile on Main Street,” the concluding books of “A Song of Ice and Fire” (if they ever come) will probably be worse than the first two.

And that’s okay. I’m fine with it. You should, too. Denying reality never goes well. It’ll ruin you. You can’t win.

But we still fight it.

A reader passed along a link to a paper entitled “Early and extraordinary peaks in physical performance come with a longevity cost.” The researchers tracked top Olympians from the early 20th century, recorded during which phase of life they attained “peak performance,” and recorded when they died. Those who peaked early tended to die younger than those who peaked later. The relationship was stronger the bigger and earlier the achievement.

They propose a few potential mechanisms, including excessive early mTOR activation or lopsided growth hormone/IGF signaling on the part of the early achievers.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that were part of the story. But I have another idea. This was the early 1900s. There weren’t million dollar endorsement deals with Nike or Gatorade waiting for them. They weren’t famous after weeks of ceaseless media coverage. Jim Thorpe, one of the greatest Olympians of the early 20th century, died penniless. Olympians were true amateurs who, after the glory faded and the medals rusted over, had to figure out what to do with their lives. They often failed.

I’ve talked about peak performance before, about wringing out every last drop of performance and realizing your full potential. Well, peaks come and go. Once you hit it, you either have to keep pushing onward and working harder and harder, which isn’t sustainable for long, or you trend downward. You can’t stay there forever.

Some of the best athletes I’ve known haven’t figured it out. Either they try in vain to hold on to their past glories, maintain their output, and fail miserably or burn out, or they flounder aimlessly. Maybe that’s what happened to those Olympians in the study. 

There are people who figure that out.

My good friend (and dad to my great friend and Primal Blueprint colleague Brad Kearns) Dr. Walter Kearns is probably the world’s top 90+ golfer, who at 94 is on his third round (pun intended) of golfing buddies. He’s always complaining about not being able to see the ball and track its flight. Well, it’s because he hits the ball so damn far. He knows he’s not going to beat top guys fifty years his junior. He’s okay with that, but he’s also not hanging up his clubs anytime soon. That’s edge living, and it carries over into all areas.

When he was in the hospital recovering from emergency bowel obstruction surgery, Walter refused pain meds to avoid being drugged up and immobile. This allowed him to walk right out several days ahead of schedule. A nurse later pulled Brad aside and said most people his father’s age never recover from a surgery like that. Many never even leave the bed. She was convinced refusing the meds made the difference.

My chief marketing officer, a man who’s been with the company from the very beginning, has a great grandmother who turns 100 this year. She’s avoided doctors and meds all her life and still lives in the same house she shared with his great grandfather. After a checkup this year, her blood panel came back pristine, but she had high blood pressure. The doc recommended blood pressure meds—”With your excellent health, it could extend life another five years”—and she’s considering taking them. Even if she takes them, it’ll be on her terms and only because she decided to. It’s really an attitude or spirit that seems to have kept her in good stead: It’s her life, her home, her body, and she’ll be damned to hand over control of any of it. 

I’ve often said that retirement kills only because people waste their free time. A buddy of mine has a father-in-law who retired several years ago. Rather than sit around watching bad daytime T.V. and getting angry on Facebook, he started a fledgling eBay business. A former mechanic and all-around automotive expert who had to give up his shop when he had a series of bad heart attacks and couldn’t maintain the rigorous pace of running a business, he now goes to L.A.-area swap meets and hunts for old car brochures, rare automotive tools, engine parts, and other collector’s items, then sells them for big profits to people across the world. He’s arguably more engaged and in better health than he was before retiring, and he’s doing it by repurposing his talents.

What’s this have to do with health and wellness?

Everything.

Living life on your own terms isn’t just a quaint turn of phrase. It has huge effects on your health.

A large body of research shows that the less control you think you have over your life, the higher your mortality risk. That persists even when you control for other health variables and biomarkers. It’s even true for animals. Self-agency—or even the illusion of it—appears to be a requirement for healthy, happy aging.

And unlike some of the characteristics shared by centenarians, like good genes, control is malleable. You can’t change the structure of your DNA. You can, however, wrest control over your own life.

How?

Pay attention to that voice inside urging you onward. If something speaks to your soul, answer the call. Check it out. See where it leads. It’s usually guiding you to a good place.

When something feels right, stay with the moment, even if you can’t articulate what’s happening. Suss it out. What are you doing? Who are you with? What were you thinking about? That feeling of “this is right, this is good” is a physiological hint that you should pay attention to what you’re doing—and maybe keep doing it.

Ignoring the call, however, is an abdication of control

How do you move on and keep going through life while maintaining and indulging that edge? How do you ride the edge?

In reading this blog, eating this way, questioning conventional wisdom, heeding the science, and listening to your body, you’re already doing it. You’ve made—or are in the process of making—some major changes to your lifestyle, changes that will pay dividends.

Moving through life along the edge isn’t necessarily about fitness training. It’s about having a good reason to get up in the morning. A business, a hobby, a project, a job, a family, a physical pursuit, or yes, a workout—anything that calls to you and provides meaning. And whatever that thing is, you go after it. 

Keep the fire going, but don’t get into battles you can’t win. Acknowledge and accept your weaknesses. Repurpose your skills and passions. Ride the decline into something new—and maybe better.

Challenge yourself. Maybe not every day, but often enough that you’re always excited about and engaged with something.

Think about ascending a mountain peak. You’re there. The view’s great. It’s frankly exhilarating being on top of the visible world. But you can’t go higher. There’s nowhere to go from there but down. How do you do it? Do you just head straight off, tumbling down over loose gravel to arrive at the bottom, bruised and disheveled? Do you plunge headfirst over a cliff, totally giving up? Or do you ride the edge, walk the range toward the horizon, gradually descending while remaining on a pinnacle? 

I know what I’ve chosen. How about you?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care and be sure to let me know if and how this post resonates with you.

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Celiac Disease and Fecal Transplants: When Genes are not Destiny

(So…you might have noticed that I mentioned fecal transplants in last weeks post…only to have nothing ABOUT fecal transplants in the material! Sorry about that brain-fade. Here is the scoop on more poop)

After last weeks exploration of panda poo I really may be down to 6 listeners (or readers in this case) but if you are still with me you clearly have a strong constitution or a borderline unhealthy fascination with scat. No judgements on my part, just an observation. This week I want to look at an interesting condition (Celiac Disease) and consider it from the perspective of the Discordance Theory while also investigating it as an example of how tweaking our epigenetics (in this case gut microbiome) can potentially turn a disease process on or off.

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune condition that has historically been linked to folks of Northern European ancestry, however recent research suggests just about any ethnic group http://ift.tt/2lpNGIe may be affected by the condition. The quick and dirty story on CD is that a protein (gliadin) in certain grains (wheat, rye, oats, barley, millet) can cause intestinal permeability and precipitate an autoimmune response to the gut lining (and beyond). Celiac complications can affect ANY organ, system or tissue as part of the disease process is the formation of a hapten http://ift.tt/2mss96u between the gliadin protein and a ubiquitous enzyme called tissue transglutaminase (TTG). TTG is active in just about every cell imaginable, so if the body mounts an immune response to TTG, it can affect anything from the brain to the heart to the much more commonly understood, gut lining. This very ubiquity of affected tissues and organs makes diagnosis of celiac challenging as not everyone presents with GI problems. It is this fact however that has made me reasonably successful in working with folks as I tend to hold any gluten consumption as suspect. So I tend to recommend full avoidance of gluten for 30 days, followed by a reintroduction and assessment of general wellbeing both with and without gluten containing foods. This is a simple, safe, TRANSPARENT process that has helped a lot of people but you would not believe the hand-wringing and belly-aching about suggesting that we ditch bread and eat more yams and fruit for a month.

I’m sure most of you are reasonably familiar with CD but I wanted to provide a bit of background for the folks who may be new to the site. Something that is likely new to most of you is looking at CD not for its disease process, but what benefits the genetic predilection for CD may bring to the affected individual. Some of my most fruitful research has come about from searching a certain condition in the following way: “celiac disease EVOLUTIONARY ADVANTAGE.” It’s interesting to do this process with things like Huntington disease and even BRCA (the “breast cancer” genes). I encourage you to do a bit of exploring along this line and let folks know what you find in the comments.

Many people look at CD as a “weakness” but this is not only an oversimplification, it’s just inaccurate. Folks with the genetic predisposition for CD appear to have an enhanced immune response, particularly in relation to gut pathogens. In a pre-antibiotic era, particularly one in which people were making the transition to living in cities, or on farms in close proximity to domesticated animals, having a robust immune response to gut pathogens was clearly a net win. Unfortunately for the CD carrier, this enhanced reactivity can be hijacked by the anti-predation chemicals used by things like gluten containing grains and this ultimately manifests in what we commonly describe as celiac disease. This is the simple biological tradeoff we see throughout nature and it makes the point that an “advantage” or “disadvantage” is situationally specific. Given easy access to antibiotics and the difficulty in avoiding gluten in our modern, highly processed, “manufactured on shared equipment” world, celiac disease may not be much of an advantage these days. I know it’s not a party for me! There is another interesting wrinkle to the CD story which is that throughout most of history, CD was diagnosed due to severe wasting and malabsorption. Affected individuals were effectively starving to death as their gut lining was so damaged they absorbed little of what they consumed. Sine the 1980’s however, CD has become more and more associated with not wasting, but obesity. The reasons for this shift are unclear but it may have to do with a shift in gut flora. File that nugget away for a moment as we consider that not everyone who develops CD has the “genetic predisposition.” There are some case reports (not a lot to go on but interesting) that certain infections, Giardia for example, can precipitate celiac disease.  What’s interesting in these cases is individuals had no CD symptoms before giardia infection, after clearing the giardia (using some pretty robust antimicrobials) some folks see a complete healing of the gut, while others continue to manifest CD pathology. I happen to be in that latter category.

Remember I asked you to file away that nugget about changing gut microbiome and CD? Ok, here is where we pull that out. There is preliminary research suggesting that some folks with CD may be able to completely reverse the condition with a fecal transplantOne might make the pithy observation “The microbes giveth, and the microbes taketh away.”

Now, what might be happening in the case of the fecal transplant mitigating or reversing celiac disease? It’s possible the transplanted microbiota reduce inflammation in such a way that the intestinal permeability which leads to an autoimmune response just does not happen. In a related although peripheral mechanism, these “new” bacteria might have the enzymes to properly degrade gliadin, making it a non-issue for the CD prone individual. This should be reminiscent of my last post talking about the panda microbiome potentially shifting in such a way to make cellulose (bamboo) a viable food source.

This is all potentially interesting stuff if you are really into poo, but what are some takeaways?

1-From a biological perspective any given set of traits could be a boom or a bust. This is a highly situationally specific story. A frisky immune response may decrease the likelihood of succumbing to infectious disease, but this might also increase our likelihood of autoimmune disease, including atherosclerosis.

2-Despite “genetic predisposition” one may or may not develop a given condition, and this seems to be driven by factors such as sleep, food, stress and of course, the gut microbiome. Genes are as much potential as destiny.

3-Although it is clear that the gut microbiome will be a treasure trove of medical insights, we are far, far away from any type of pin-point diagnostic and predictive processes. Right now the best that I see happening is we find folks who are “healthy” make a poo-milkshake from their morning offerings, then turkey-baster that up the backside of someone who is “not healthy.” We are looking more and more at the various strains of bacteria, trying to find the “good” ones, but my prediction on that is it will largely be a failure as a legit diagnostic/implementation tool. If you recall from the last blog post on panda digestions, pandas still exhibit the gut microbiome of a carnivore, yet are clearly using the cellulose found in bamboo to fuel their existence. The likely, although as to yet be established story, is those “carnivore” microbes have taken on the genes necessary to degrade and ferment cellulose. So, we MIGHT find some magic strains of bacteria, but I’d not be surprised if we start not looking for bacterial strains, but specific bacterial genes or gene families which confer a desired metabolic effect.

4-Given the complexities of point #3, and although it’s important to dig into those complexities, we need to also keep an eye on outcome based approaches. We may not know exactly what worked, but so long as people are getting favorable results, so long as that process is being conducted in a rigorous way, we do not need to understand the exact “why’s” to be able to give folks better options than they have now.

I talk about all of these nuances and a good bit more in my forthcoming book, Wired To Eat. I think it’s important to understand there IS a process that will help you look, feel and perform better. That process is likely different than what will work for your neighbor, co-worker or spouse, and none of those individual processes are any more (or less) valid than the others. What is important is you have the will to tinker and a framework to objectively test and find your way to optimal health.



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What Can You Count On?

You can count on me friends! And you can count on Counter the turtle, Mazen’s new toy that Grammie sent in the mail. He is currently really into numbers and he asks to do “math” at bedtime now, so I give him addition and subtraction challenges (under 10). This turtle counts in Spanish too, and when Mazen heard him say “cinco” he thought he was saying “tinkle” and laughed hysterically!

What can you not count on? Your unlocked iPhone working on any cell phone carrier the way Apple says it will.

Here’s a little PSA about some things you shouldn’t count on: I use the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program, which means I get my phone directly from Apple. Apple promises that you can use any carrier you like and you can “switch carriers at any time!” But then I switched from AT&T to Verizon and the new SIM card just wouldn’t give me any service on Verizon. After an entire day of troubleshooting at the Verizon store and with Apple support, the support team told me that my phone was, in fact, not compatible with Verizon. This was a surprise to almost everyone I spoke with. To put it simply, there are different types of networks (GSM v CDMA) and different models of the iPhone 7 are compatible with only some carriers. I had already cut ties with AT&T, so this was an absolute nightmare to deal with. I had no phone for days, and couldn’t make any calls (especially frustrating when a tech person told me to “give them a call.”) The happy ending is that Apple made it right. Major props to their customer service team, who were easy to reach, pleasant to talk to, and solved my issues by refunding my phone purchase 4 months after I got it.

Hope that might help some of you avoid a similar situation. Don’t just count on your phone being unlocked – check your phone’s model number and network compatibility before switching carriers!

Breakfast: Fried egg, pineapple, bagel toasted with butter, too much coffee.

You can count on me using my Crab koozie every day! Lunch was an arugula salad with carrots, cheese and walnuts plus a Siggi’s. And probably some chips!

And you can count on a glass of wine after a stressful day : )

Dinner: Mexican bowl of rice, beans, cheese, peppers, guac, yogurt, chips.

What else can you count on? Tons of super cute art projects coming home from preschool! We keep them in a basket in the office and Mazen often goes in there to find ones that fit with the theme of the game he’s playing (like a lion mask or magic wand). No idea what I’ll do when this basket fills up!

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Clean Eating Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Clean Eating Irish Soda Bread Recipe

I swear by all that is holy in my life, this is THE best bread I’ve ever had.

My mom recently went on a trip to Ireland. She has never really gone anywhere, so this was the trip of a lifetime for… Read more →



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