Interview with Diane Sanfilippo, Balanced Bites

Intro by Lori. Truly, my life has changed dramatically since I committed to healthy eating as a permanent lifestyle.

Diane played a large role in that in helping me to adopt eating whole and natural food. She continues to inspire with her knowledge, commitment to sharing nutrition information, and her no-nonsense, down-to-earth attitude about, well, everything as you'll see in our interview. Get to know her and grab her new book, Practical Paleo, filled with details about how to live, cook and eat healthy.

1. Describe how releasing the book Practical Paleo has impacted your life.

I'm pretty overwhelmed by the response! I was certainly expecting my fans to love it and had teased photos of recipes that were being prepared along the way, but I knew the rest of the book would end up being a big, wonderful surprise to them. The best feedback I've gotten is how people are able to share the book with friends and family members and they just "get it" without hesitation. I've also heard from readers of my blog, before they even go the book, that I've saved their lives. That kind of stuff just gives me the chills and makes me feel infinitely honored to call this passion of mine a "job." Other than that, my life is pretty similar to what it was before, to be honest - tons of work blogging, podcasting, teaching, consulting... just a bit more travel for book signing events!

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2. You travel a lot ... how do you stay healthy, active and well-fed on-the-road?

I plan ahead and pack plenty of Steve's Original Paleo Kits, canned wild salmon and wild herring (kipper snacks), some macadamia nuts, coconut oil, and ghee. Since most of my travel is centered around teaching nutrition workshops or book signings, I make it a priority to find either a Whole Foods, local organic grocer, or restaurant that will provide solid food to eat for meals and to take with me on-the-go. When you don't need to eat every 2 hours like you once did, finding proper food is actually a lot easier. I also travel with some supplements to help me calm down and sleep when traveling across time zones. I don't tend to exercise if my travel schedule is quick because it adds too much stress and takes away from sleep time, but if my trip is more than 2-3 days, I try to work out at a local CrossFit box since it's where I feel most at-home away from home!

3. What are some of your favorite go-to snacks? Finding healthy snacks options to eat while in our cars is a big challenge for many of us.

Planning ahead is really key as I mentioned above: PaleoKits, Artisana Nut/Coconut Butter packets, wild fish in pop-open cans like salmon or herring as noted above, and in a pinch, Starbucks has some roasted almonds which you can find pretty much anywhere. I also like GT's Synergy Kombucha for on-the-road probiotics when I can't get my home made sauerkraut into my meals.

4. What is one life-changing new habit you can recommend to people just starting their food and fitness journey?

"Change your thoughts." My CrossFit coach Jason Schroeder says this pretty much daily at the gym (Brazen Athletics) and it's written on the wall in huge letters. "Change your thoughts. Change your world." It resonates with me because most of the barriers that people have to either giving up a beloved food or finding time in their day to get some exercise are all about changing the way they think first and foremost. If you change how you think about food, fitness, and health, the rest becomes a lot easier. Instead of thinking "I'm angry for having to give up bread," change your thoughts to be "I am thrilled to be able to put amazing food into my body that tastes great and makes me a stronger, healthier person." It's simple, but not always easy!

5. Who / what are some of your inspirations in life, work, food and fitness?

My long-time trainer and friend, Dave Engen (of Reach Fitness in San Francisco), who was the first one to help me to change how I viewed all aspects of health - from fitness training to nutrition and stress management. Dave learned about these concepts from Paul Chek, as did I over the year, so Paul is a huge influence as well. I have a ton of respect and have been inspired by my nutrition educators at Bauman College - Nori Hudson and Laura Knoff - as well as folks like Chris Kresser, Chris Masterjohn, and of course, Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson. Robb was the one who originally got the fire in my belly lit about this stuff, and I can't ever thank him enough for that.

In food, heck, I am a complete food-television geek. I grew up watching Julia Child, The Frugal Gourmet, and Yan Can Cook - and later Alton Brown, Tyler Florence, Emeril Lagasse, and Giada DeLaurentiis. Clearly I'm also inspired much more personally by my amazingly talented friends Bill & Hayley of The Food Lovers Kitchen and Michelle of Nom Nom Paleo. Their passion for simple food that tastes amazing when made from quality ingredients shines through in their work.

In fitness, I'm inspired by those around me who would otherwise be known as "regular people" but they're doing amazing things - lifting crazy amounts of weight, or overcoming previous set-backs or conquering skills they haven't before. Just recently two of my coaches (Carolyn and Kristy respectively), who are amazing athletes, each beat one of their own "goats." I have always seen them as amazingly strong women, but watching them work hard at their weaknesses motivates me to continue to do better every time I am in the gym. Rather than telling myself I'm not good at one skill or another, I am inspired by them to make myself better at whatever it is!

In life, I am inspired by the people who just make changes every single day. The people who do things they say they are going to do or want to do. I don't care if it's a person in a position of authority or not, I care that the person is passionate about driving their own life and just living their truth every single day. Those who are honest with themselves about what makes them happy and live in pursuit of achieving excellence along that path are the ones who inspire me most.