the smell of my desperation has become a stench

On being a better, more annoying liberal

Last weekend when we all packed up and spent a few days in Moab, I was certain that I was going to return home with the raging cold that had conquered both of my kids, my mother, my stepfather, and even Dane. The first night there I got no sleep because every single person was coughing up internal organs and a woman staying in the room directly next to mine in the building was letting everyone in the state of Utah know that she was in some way satisfying certain carnal desires.

Wow, that was one of the most Mormon things I’ve ever written on this website. The dangers of carnal desires! All the Mormons in the audience just nodded. Admit it, Mormons. Your inner 14-year-old just snickered.

Had Leta been awake and heard all the commotion I guarantee she would have said, “That woman sounds very happy.”

The day after we returned I experienced a few hours of a runny nose and general fatigue from traveling, but then both symptoms went away immediately. I am now one of those crazy people you can’t stand to be around who has convinced herself that her diet is totally responsible for this. No, seriously. This is the only explanation. Unless the church is true and my mother put my immune system on the prayer list in the temple.


I’ve been surrounded by awful illnesses all season, and even though I’m quite possibly more stressed out than I have ever been in my life, I’ve managed to stave off one after another. Ever since I started eating Paleo in 2011 I haven’t had a single sinus infection, and you guys, I used to get sinus infections that would paralyze the entire right side of my face. My sinus infections could totally beat up your sinus infections. Am I bragging about my sinus infections? Yes, I am, and while I’m at it I’ll go ahead and bet that my hangnails could slice in half a pork filet.

You so want this.

This got me thinking about all the other ways I could clean up my life and what the cumulative of effect of that effort might be. I’m sort of starting things over in a way, and while I already work out regularly and eat a diet that keeps me healthy, there could be some excellent symbolism in making some firm changes in other areas of my life. Like, instead of just threatening to stalk Ryan Gosling, actually stalking Ryan Gosling.

Here’s where I want to mention that this is a sponsored post and for those of you who might take issue with me mentioning a product in a post, you don’t have to continue reading. I agreed to it because it fits with the changes I personally want to make right now at this turning point in my life, things like conserving more energy and water, never using plastic bags at the grocery store, turning off my car if I’m going to idle for more than a minute, purchasing humanely raised meat. Changes that are good for me, good for the earth, and good for my kids to see. Changes that could possible seduce Ryan Gosling.

What really hit home about this is that I thought I was doing most of these things already — I am an annoying self-righteous liberal, for crying out loud — but then I realized how incredibly lazy I get not just sometimes but all too frequently, especially when it comes to decreasing my horrible human footprint on this planet. And then a major brand like Clorox comes along and formulates household cleaners called Greenworks that are being nicer to the environment than I am. Are they doing it just because it’s the hot new thing right now? Because it’s hip to be green? I’m not sure that really matters. They’re doing it. It’s a start. This means that a lot of people who might not ever be open to the idea of using a greener product have it that much closer to their faces. And you cannot argue that that is a bad thing. If this entices other companies to follow suit? Even better.

It’s a little too late to make this a resolution for the year, but I can at least rededicate myself to being a better recycler, investing in beauty products that don’t poison me and cleaning products whose fumes won’t give my children headaches, even just picking up trash if I see any on a walk. The cumulative effect of my doing these things is of course not going to save the earth from the cancer that is Human Beings, but I’m really interested to see the effect it will have in my day-to-day life as I move forward from here, this turning point. I also really hope that maybe my kids will pick up on some of my good habits. Let’s start with: EATING SOMETHING OTHER THAN FRUITY PEBBLES.


This post is sponsored by Green Works®. You don’t have to compromise to be clean when you use hard working, plant-based cleaners powered by The Clorox Company.

  • Amanda Cherry

    2013/02/12 at 9:42 am

    I can totally relate. I went completely Paleo about 13 months ago, after unexpectedly being told I couldn’t have gluten anymore in March of 2011. And I got nary a cold or sinus infection for a year + until a couple weeks ago, BUT I’M PREGNANT. And the cold that lasted for 4 days for me has lasted for 10+ days for all my co workers. The only logical explanation is the same as it is for you: diet. I was amazed, and really happy, because everyone always says you get so much sicker so much more easily when you are pregnant. So yeah, Paleo FTW!

  • Desiree Buraghi Frey

    2013/02/12 at 10:09 am

    Been reading your blog since 2003. Love it…It made me smile today when you mentioned GreenWorks. I work for Clorox. And even though this was a sponsored post, it brought a little smirk to my face.

  • Julie

    2013/02/12 at 10:16 am

    Thanks for making Paleo sound sane. I’ve been sick once in six years, and I definitely think it’s my diet!

  • Kimberly Wydeen

    2013/02/12 at 10:26 am

    I am in no way paleo, but I started a new healthy diet about a year ago. It is pretty straightforward: 90 – 120 grams of protein a day, at least 10 glasses of water, 7 servings of fruits and vegetables. Wine or beer once, maybe twice a week. Desserts are only consumed if I make them myself (it cuts down on cravings if I actually have to plan, bake, and clean up. If I make it, I REALLY want it). For me, this was a slow transition. I started something new every week, sometimes every two weeks, until I got to this point. Some weeks my only goal was something incredibly simple like “eat a container of Greek yogurt for breakfast.” But gradual, small changes really worked for me. I lost 25 pounds, kept it off, and never felt better.

  • Jackie Bragale

    2013/02/12 at 10:52 am

    I’ve been toying with the idea of going paleo for a while now but my major hang up is self-control. How do you keep to your diet and not have a bowl of those fruity pebbles every once in awhile? My husband would he the other problem. He would totally sabotage me. Let’s just say his favorite “restaurant” is McDonald’s.

  • bweece

    2013/02/12 at 11:05 am

    An ad with a survey keeps covering up the article on my iPad, and there is no x on it to minimize it. Just a heads up.

  • bweece

    2013/02/12 at 11:07 am

    Then I read to the end and it makes sense, haha.

  • Celia

    2013/02/12 at 11:49 am

    I have mixed feelings about Clorox. On one hand, they now own my beloved burt’s bees, and it’s great that they are working on making their products better for the environment. But on the other, why are they still selling all of their regular products? If their green line is so wonderful, why not discontinue the non-green equivalents? It just smells a lot like greenwashing to me. BUT! I commend you Heather, for committing to conserve and such! That shit is hard, I know I’m not good at it half the time. God, this comment is all over the place.

    (Note: I am in no way complaining that this is a sponsored post, I think it’s great that Clorox can sponsor people to talk about things like this. I’d so much rather they give their money to a family/family business than like, lobbying or whatever.)

  • Melissa

    2013/02/12 at 12:28 pm

    You’ll be surprised to find that when you go paleo, your desire for those kinds of foods goes down a lot. Not that they still don’t pop up but they aren’t like you would think. Also, most who follow the paleo rule, follow it 80/20. I have one really bad meal once or twice a month (I have a soft spot for this pad thai at a nearby restaurant, I get pretty sick when I eat it though. It’s worth it) and I’ll have something like gluten free toast or gluten free pasta every once in awhile. If you want those fruit pebbles every once in awhile, go for it! Just make sure it is really every once in awhile. You will probably find that you don’t think about it that much. My husband eats what I eat at home though I do occasionally throw in a roll with his dinner (he also eats dairy so he’ll throw cheese on things, I’m allergic to dairy so it wasn’t something I was eating anyway) and if he wants McD’s or Chinese he has to get them for lunch at work.

  • Melissa

    2013/02/12 at 12:31 pm

    Vinegar works just as well for cleaning!

  • jill

    2013/02/12 at 12:41 pm

    Valedictorian of hangnails! And I’ve been Paleo since January 2nd, surrounded by sick people, and still healthy. Hoping I didn’t just jinx myself.

  • Liz Anderson

    2013/02/12 at 12:50 pm

    Melaleuca. Fifteen years and proudly, obscenely healthy. Oh, and the house is clean, too. Just sayin.

  • Meg H

    2013/02/12 at 1:05 pm

    The Greenworks wipes are usually available on Amazon Subscribe & Save in some quantity — that’s how I get them. Great for general cleaning but I do still buy the regular wipes for sanitizing purposes. And I also get bleach. I have a dog. I’m not going to wipe up messes with a wet cloth & call it clean enough.

  • Michelle

    2013/02/12 at 1:15 pm

    Personally, during my two pregnancies I was hardly ever sick with lots of people falling ill around me all the time. That all changed during the breastfeeding months, both times and with no changes in diet. So I guess it really depends, but then again a lot of other moms had the same experience as I did.

  • kent williams

    2013/02/12 at 1:25 pm

    When major corporations get into ‘Green’ marketing they’re mostly selling you a way to bring Greenwashing home, for a price.

    99% of home cleaning jobs can be done with Ammonia, White Vinegar, and Baking Soda.

    I do have to admit to an abiding fondness for PineSol and Comet Cleaner.

    RE: Paleo — why does the Paleo diet come along just when I figured out how to make bread from scratch reliably?

  • Bonny Bard

    2013/02/12 at 1:27 pm

    You can never be too good or too annoying a liberal…
    And if you’re looking for good, greener products check out Lush and Living Libations. I’ve started using both recently and they’re fantastic (I don’t work for either of them, they’re just great). Although, gotta say, Clorox jumping on the green bandwagon is great, but it’s still clorox… if you know what I mean. (I may just be a more annoying liberal than you are…)

  • HeatherArmstrong

    2013/02/12 at 1:30 pm

    I second everything you just said. I was so surprised by the fact that cravings just disappeared. And when I do indulge it’s pretty sparingly and usually not worth how gross I feel afterward. I’m about 90/10, a little bit of milk in my coffee and tortilla chips are my weakness.

  • gigi

    2013/02/12 at 1:36 pm

    Agree. I’m 4 mos. pregnant and have had horrible all day morning sickness. My diet consists of red baron mini pizzas, mcdonalds french fries, and peanut butter crunch. Haven’t been sick once this winter.

  • Necole

    2013/02/12 at 4:36 pm

    I use natural cleaning products, since I make my daughters keep their own bathroom clean. I have started with shampoos, facial scrub, make up etc. No Paleo for me, I love beans.

  • Cristy

    2013/02/12 at 7:50 pm

    I follow a paleo influenced, but not strictly adhered to diet and I’ve avoided all the nasty plague going around the office. (knock on wood).

    I’ll keep my thoughts on Greenworks to myself. 🙂

  • Cristy

    2013/02/12 at 7:53 pm

    I totally second what Melissa said. When you give up the simple carbs your body quits craving it. I still do whole grains but have cut out the simple carbs and I don’t miss it at all.

  • Allison Wilson

    2013/02/12 at 9:12 pm

    You were the valedictorian of sinus infections!

    High five to you for all of your greening, madame. I think it’s great.

  • JudithNYC

    2013/02/13 at 7:03 am

    I never get colds, etc. and I am also convinced that it’s all due to my excellent diet. I do eat lots of carbs but only in the form of whole grains and I make everything myself, including bread and yogurt.. So, yep, after all this work (which I do enjoy a lot) I want all the credit!

    Now to work on the greening of my cleaning routine. I am annoyingly liberal in every other way but I love my Clorox and Mr. Clean, used sparingly, of course.

  • Sally

    2013/02/13 at 9:42 am

    Why do grains and bread have to taste so good? I did the Paleo diet for 2 weeks, felt great, lost weight, but it sucked! How do you do it and feed your family completely different? That’s what got me, watching my kids eat stuff I can’t and also wondering, why I am letting them eat what I have decided is not good for me? Also knowing that there is no way my picky kids could live without a wheat product of some sort with every meal. So, I try to cut back on the wheat, mostly and grains in our meals, but it’s hard!

    Having just moved here from Portland OR, I am impressed with your rededication. It’s not easy being environmentally conscious in these parts. My kids have decided to start a petition banning Styrofoam in SLC. My son is concerned though, he said that he’s worried that they don’t have anything else to use.

  • Gretchen

    2013/02/14 at 3:05 pm

    When you decided to start eating Paleo, how did you get started? Any specific websites, books, or resources to recommend?

  • Jackie Bragale

    2013/02/14 at 5:53 pm

    That’s good to know. I guess I really just need to kick my butt and do it already.

  • Karen K

    2013/02/14 at 8:33 pm

    I’m glad you can get paid for writing a blog– sponsor away!
    That said…
    I have a dog and a vegetarian husband who gets really really sick if kitchen items aren’t clean.
    I use 7th generation dish soap and vinegar and baking soda for everything else. I even trust vinegar, soap and hot water to clean up after making dog food (raw pork and chicken). No one’s gotten sick in 8+ years. If you want to purchase a ready made cleaner Mrs. Meyers all purpose is pretty fantastic.
    And tea tree oil kills everything, but if you have a septic tank you’ll want to avoid it because it even kills the good bacteria in there and then you’re in trouble!
    I don’t have children, but friends do and I can’t, in good conscience, use bleach for anything. There is nothing good there for general cleaning.
    Rant over 🙂

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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