New Direction for Cheeseslave: Hell Yeah or Hell No

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I went through a lot this past couple years. It was definitely the hardest time in my life. (You can read about it here.) Things got so bad for me, I almost stopped blogging. But many people reached out to me and told me they loved Cheeseslave and wanted it to continue. And deep down, so did I.

Which is why I'm back. I'm not doing this for the money. In fact, this blog costs more to run than it makes right now. I'm only doing this for love. In order to come back to blogging, I need to do some things differently. I need to cut out the bullshit and focus on the joy.

No More B.S.

The gift of adversity is it makes you focus more on what you really want. Pain makes you appreciate life more. One of the things I realized over this past couple years is that life is short and fleeting, and it's very easy to get distracted by bullshit.

Bullshit people, bullshit stuff, bullshit commitments. Your life gets so full of crap that you don't want and you don't LOVE that you lose sight of the things you do love.

I used to worry so much about whatever everyone else thought of me that I wouldn't have even used that word: bullshit. Even though that is the word I really want to use. It is the word that says what I am trying to say.

But in the early days of my blog, I used bad words and people criticized me. I talked about politics and they criticized me. I did x or y or z and they criticized me.

I got to the point with this blog that I worried so much about what doing things right and what “people will say” that I wasn't being authentic. And it just wasn't fun anymore.

I'm living for me now. And I'm writing this blog for me. If you happen to read the blog and you dig it, awesome. If not, that's OK, too. Because I am not writing it for you. I'm writing it for me. This blog is my explorations and reflections on the things I care about in my daily life. Parenting, homeschooling, cooking, eating, and loving life.

Hell Yeah or Hell No and Life Changing Magic

Two things helped me transform my life into a no-B.S. life. I'm not there yet — probably around 70%. But it's way better than drowning in crap.

1. Hell Yeah! Or Hell No!

If I'm not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then say no. Meaning: When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than, “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” – then my answer is no.

That quote is from Derek Sivers in his blog post, Hell Yeah or No.

I think I read this in his book, Anything You Want, which I read a couple years ago. (Great book, by the way.)

I've always read that the most effective, successful, happiest people are those who make decisions quickly. This little concept of Hell Yeah or Hell No makes life so much easier for me.

Whether I'm trying to decide what to make for dinner, whether to write a blog post, whether to get a book on Audible, I just ask myself, “Is it hell yeah?” If it's not hell yeah, it's hell no.

2. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

This past summer (2015) I bought Marie Kondo's audiobook, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This is a book that teaches you how to finally once and for all clean up and organize your home and your life — and to make it stay that way forever.

I know, pretty grand claims. But this stuff works. What you do is you pick up each item and you say, “Does this spark joy, yes or no?” And if it doesn't spark joy, you get rid of it.

What do you know? It's another way of doing Hell Yeah or Hell No! If you pick something up and it doesn't “spark joy,” then it's Hell No. And it gets pitched. (Or donated, or sold, or whatever you want.)

I worked all summer to “konmari” my house. Got through 95% of it (not including the garage or digital) by Labor Day. Everything I “konmaried” has stayed amazing. My kitchen is super tidy and I know where everything goes — which makes cooking and cleaning up a joy because it's EASY.

But not only that, the bigger gift was this… getting rid of all the junk has really freed me. I felt like a massive weight was lifted off of my life. And my life is so much more joyful and happy now. Because everywhere I look, instead of clutter and obligation, I see joy.

I'll get to the rest of it (the 5% plus the garage) in the new year. And yes, I'll be blogging about it, so you can join in with me!

New Direction for Cheeseslave

So based on my newfound Hell Yeah philosophy… here are some more decisions I made about this blog…

There will be no blogging schedule. I'll blog when I feel like it. You can watch my Facebook page for updates. Meaning, I will update the FB page when I post. I won't be sending out any emails.

And I am going to write about what I feel like writing about. If I feel like blogging about pressure cooker recipes, I will. And you're gonna see a bunch of those in the near future because that's what I'm fixated on these days.

If I want to just post cute pictures of my kids and write about what I'm learning about photography, that's what I'll do. If I want to write about vaccines and rant about pharmaceutical drug companies, then I will.

Unschooling, technology, quilting… I don't know what will strike my fancy on any given day. All I know is I want this blog to be about passion and joy and living a life that's amazing. And I don't have to impress anyone — it's just for me.

And if you love it, great! If you don't, there are lots of other blogs out there.

The 80/20 Rule

What I've found in life is that the 80/20 rule applies to almost everything. 80% of the benefits/results come from 20% of the stuff you do. And trying to be perfect just makes you (and everyone around you) miserable… and makes you want to quit.

So no more cultish perfectionism. We are just gonna do 80% and that's gonna be good enough. This applies to the way I write recipes (see below). I don't have time for perfect and I know you don't either.

It also applies to how I write blog posts. Perfect is the enemy of the good (and the done) so my goal is just to get posts out. If I never fix the typos, forgive me.

Dr. Weston Price, Not WAPF

When I started this blog back in 2007, I was just discovering Dr. Weston A. Price and WAPF. In the process of exploring Dr. Price and the non-profit organization. I think when you're exploring something, it's good to explore the whole thing and take it all the way… which I did.

And you swing like a pendulum. I embraced WAPF fully in the beginning. And then around 2011 I swung away, toward Matt Stone. And now I'm settled happily in the middle.

I still recommend organic food and healthy fats, and Dr. Weston Price's book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.

However, I no longer recommend WAPF (The Weston A. Price Foundation). That decision is chronicled here.

And obviously I no longer recommend fermented cod liver oil. (Read why here.) I still recommend cod liver oil, though, just not FCLO.

Paleo, Not GAPS

Many of you know that I healed myself in my 20s of gluten intolerance, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, seasonal allergies, etc. I did it by going on an elimination diet (basically Paleo) and then slowly re-introducing foods until I found what I could and could not tolerate.

After that first month of strict Paleo, I pretty much just stayed away from gluten and sugar, and took strong therapeutic grade probiotics. It took about 2 years, but that's all it took for me to recover.

This is why I started recommending the GAPS Diet on my blog early on. Because I knew it could help people recover from food allergies and other health challenges.

But from now on, I will be recommending the Paleo Diet instead of the GAPS Diet. Mainly because Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride still recommends FCLO (fermented cod liver oil). And considering the amount of reports coming in from FCLO customers with adverse health reactions, I think this is very, very bad.

Especially because she is a doctor. First, do no harm. I messaged Dr. Natasha on Facebook to let her know that I think she should look into it. But she hasn't. Not sure why… but I just don't want young moms with kids on the spectrum giving them FCLO. So I can no longer recommend her book.

From now on I'll be recommending Paleo, not GAPS. And in the new year, I'll be changing all the links on my site to books about Paleo, not GAPS.

New 80/20 Rules for My Recipes

Not a lot of rules… but some things are changing. Some of these will shock some of you. But again, I'm not writing this blog for you. I'm writing it for me. And this is the way I eat.

1. Meat, fish, dairy, and other animal products are eaten often and enjoyed. I try to buy grass-fed meats, grass-fed and full-fat dairy, sustainable seafood, and I always buy raw milk.
2. Nose-to-tail eating is advocated and endorsed (bones, organs, etc.)
3. Healthy, traditional fats are recommended (butter, ghee, coconut oil, tallow, lard, sustainable palm oil, olive oil).
4. Bone broth is incorporated whenever possible. Lots of health benefits, but it also just makes food taste so much more delicious.
5. I use organic ingredients whenever possible. But if I can't find something organic, I am not going to go to 2 different stores to get it.
6. White flour is OK. I don't think it's bad to eat white flour. If you're eating LOTS of white flour (like the ancient Egyptians), yeah, that's not good. But white flour as part of a balanced diet along with meat, dairy, vegetables, fats, etc. is perfectly fine. I have met plenty of Mexicans and Russians and other ethnic peoples who grew up on traditional diets and ate refined grains in moderation with no negative consequences. I actually like the taste of whole wheat flour so I often use that as well. Many times, I will use a 50/50 combination.
7. I soak and sprout whole grains whenever possible.
8. White sugar is OK. I think people make too much of a big deal about sugar. If you're guzzling sodas all day long, that's a problem. I don't eat a lot of sugar, but I do add it to my coffee and I do eat desserts. I do try to buy organic sugar when possible (due to the new GM sugar beet). But I don't think it's necessary to buy only coconut sugar or sucanat.
9. Cereal is OK. I'm not going to be using Frosted Flakes in any of my recipes but I don't see a problem with, say, puffed rice. I know Sally Fallon has a problem with cereal but I'm just not convinced it's that bad for you in moderation.
10. I don't use the microwave, not because I think it's bad for you (not enough evidence on that), but because I don't like the way it cooks the food.
11. I will use my pressure cooker whenever possible.
12. I tend to cook food that kids love — since that's mainly who I'm feeding these days with two littles in the house.
13. I use mostly whole foods but will use prepared/processed foods when (a) they taste as good as homemade (b) they don't have any offensive additives/ingredients (c) there's no huge benefit to making it yourself. For example, dried pasta is pretty darn good and I don't see a huge advantage to making your own pasta with the exception of that special dinner party. Now, I can taste the difference between homemade pasta and dried pasta, but in most cases, making homemade pasta is not something I would do on any given day — just too much effort for the return.
14. I don't tend to use any soy except for soy sauce and natto. I don't think it will hurt you to eat some edamame here and there. Why would anyone want to drink soy milk anyway? It's nasty.
15. Coffee and tea are OK. Yes, caffeine is OK. I do buy organic whenever possible.
16. Chocolate is OK. Dark chocolate is all right but I personally prefer milk chocolate (this is the Cheeseslave blog, after all.)
17. Booze is OK. My motto: “A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.”

Comments Are Welcome

I welcome your comments as always.

That said, I have a new comment moderation policy (see below just above the comments section). I want Cheeseslave to be a safe place to share and learn from each other.

Although I will occasionally use the bad word on the blog (hell and bullshit, see above), overall I strive to keep my blog free of obscenity, including the comments. I also delete comments that are hate speech (sexist, racist, etc.), and comments that are personal attack.

Life is just too short for any of that.

Also, if you want to criticize me, I'll probably just delete that, too. Constructive criticism is valued, but attacking me online because you are in a bad mood or just hate me for some reason — that will not be tolerated.

Because I got hacked last spring, I had to send about 75,000 comments to moderation. They're ever-so-slowly being moderated. So if you left a comment back in 2009 that you no longer see on my blog, that's why. It's still there, just waiting to be moderated. Because of this, my spam catcher is on “overdrive”. It has to be retrained.

So a lot of comments go to spam accidentally — I do go and retrieve them as often as possible (I try every day but sometimes it's every few days). If your comment gets stuck in the spam moderation queue, you might not see your comment go up for a few days — you can ping me on Facebook.

Find Me Online

Ann Marie Michaels

I have 25 years of experience in digital and online media & marketing. I started my career in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, working at some of the world’s top ad agencies. In 2007, after my first child was born, I started this little food blog which I grew to over 250K monthly unique website visitors and over 350K social media followers. For nearly 15 years, I've helped my audience of mostly moms and women 25-65 cook for their families and live a healthier lifestyle.

 The year after I started the blog, I founded a blog network in the health & wellness space called Village Green Network. I started the company on my coffee table and bootstrapped the business to over $1.3 million in annual revenue within 5 years. During that time, I helped a number of our bloggers become six figure earners. After being censored on almost every social media platform for telling the After being censored on almost every social media platform from Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest and Twitter, and being deplatformed on Google, I am now deployed as a digital soldier, writing almost exclusively about politics on my blog Because who can think about food when we are fighting the second revolutionary war and third world war? Don't worry, there will be more recipes one day. After the war is over.

43 thoughts on “New Direction for Cheeseslave: Hell Yeah or Hell No

  1. Good for you! (It’s hard to write that without it sounding sarcastic but I genuinely mean it). I’ve always been a fan of your blog, I’m thrilled you’re still writing. What if you hadn’t written about classical education homeschooling, or fclo, or a number of things that have turned out to be profoundly useful to me? So thank you, for as long as you continue to blog:)

    1. Thank you, Ingrid.

      I genuinely do love sharing useful information. So I am very happy that some things I have written have helped you.

      I am going to be blogging more soon about classical homeschooling as well as unschooling. We are doing a blend and we’ve had some big breakthroughs recently!

  2. What are refreshing read this was Anne Marie. I felt more and more relaxed as I read it. In my effort to get things right I went way over into perfectionism. Just ask my kids. Miserable watching every bite. And as I shared with you, I think this phase in my life is about real people, not so much about real food. What good is all that care in selection and preparation if we don’t use it to build caring lives. I think we’ve all witnessed recently that the two don’t necessarily go together. I want to practice deep caring, first for myself and then for others.

    You make me laugh with joy recommending white sugar and flour in moderation. I think there is a time and place for fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookies. Tonight maybe the night. I celebrate you Ann Marie Michaels. Some of us teach by example, that would be you

    1. Dear Cathy,

      I have a heart full of love for you! You have shown me so much deep caring and I am very grateful.

      Yes, white flour and sugar. I spent all day baking Christmas cookies made with white flour, butter and sugar. They are delicious!

      I hate the cookies from the store full of soybean oil and HFCS. For me, homemade cookies with white flour, butter and sugar are perfect. (And I also buy butter cookies from Trader Joe’s 🙂 )

      I’m working on a new recipe tomorrow for buttercream frosting with some coconut oil added… so the frosting on the Christmas cookies will stay firm at room temperature.

      And PS: I put on just a few extra pounds thanks to all this holiday food and I have not been doing my walking (my Fitbit broke a few days ago). But it’s fine. Easy to put on, easy to lose. January is for getting back in shape!

  3. Good for you!!! I’m glad you’re back and glad you’re putting your joy at the center of it all. Looking forward to reading what comes next!

  4. I love this so so so much. Down with dogma, up with joy! (Also, in the fourth paragraph, I totally read “bullshit commitments” as “bullshit comments.”)

  5. I follow you on Facebook and I’m glad your back. I look forward to all your future blogs. I know they’ll be great, as this one was.

  6. OK this will be biased – we are a WAPF chapter and the NZ sellers of both GP FCLO and Nutrapro CLO.

    One thing that nobody seems to comment on is that a large portion of the people who stopped taking FCLO suffered health deteriorations and went back to buying it.

    We sell about 50/50 fermented to virgin and hypothisise that some metabolic types are better suited to one type and some to the other.

    Natasha C-McB knows her stuff, and there seems to be a lot unproven claims being thrown around about CLO at the moment. Personally I take Lemon flavoured Nutrapro CLO, but have seen many people getting good results from fermented oil.

    1. Hi, Ian

      What kind of percentage are you talking about? And how many people? Are you talking about people in your chapter? Because maybe they are listening to what you are telling them..

      I don’t know anyone who quit and then went back to buying FCLO. Not the woman who lost all her hair, not the people who had heart palpitations, not the people with low vitamin D, not the people who were vomiting from it.

      Natasha Campbell-McBride is a doctor. First, do no harm. If there is ANY doubt that there might be adverse health reactions, she should stop recommending it. Especially with her very sensitive patients on the spectrum. I’m honestly surprised that I did not hear back from her.

      PS: I didn’t see any negative results right away from FCLO. We were on it for 4 years before we saw bone loss, huge cavities, and problems with my eyes.

  7. Hi Anne-Marie,
    I’m curious, I believe I read once that you said you had low milk supply. Did you successfully breastfeed your second baby? I was looking forward to hearing about how you were going to increase your supply the second time around 🙂

    1. It turned out that with the first baby, it was the birth control pill the doctor had given me that caused the problem with my milk supply. I wish I had known better but I didn’t find out until a year later. Thankfully I was able to breastfeed her for 9 months.

  8. oh AnnMarie! I am so happy for you! we “met” while giving each other advice on baby formula in the wapfhealthy babies group and at conferences… I too have totally been freed by fiercely choosing my family over any commitments and we are so happy! I just took my son out of third grade at the “great” public school down the street and we have our happy kid back! Now I can title my thoughts.. “hell yeah and hell no!” keep up the hard work and I’d love to see what you are learning about un/homeschooling and more! Have you discovered the 101homeschoolideas pod cast?

  9. Thumbs way up !! 🙂 Glad to see you aren’t leaving. …and I am glad you are starting out with a combo education approach traditional and “unschooling”. I did so much stressing about the critics that it took me awhile to get there. As a single mom juggling entrepreneurial l endeavors to be a full time home educating, SAHM (or kids with me on projects ) the naysayers were loud ! I will be delighted to hear what you are diving into in life ahead. It is not only a pleasure and a source of inspiration to hear others/your thoughts. It also helps me permit myself ( to enjoy exploring ) because while I easily applaud others I often limit myself ( I feel guilty for “playtime”) and you remind me-I can too !!

  10. This was a fantastic read. It made me feel better with every line. It’s how I honestly feel, but with so many purists and extremists in the healthy eating world, it often makes me question my ideals. I have gotten to where I feel like I am poisoning my family if I eat something that is not organic and paleo. I do have to keep a fairly strict diet as I heal my insides, but it is freeing to feel not alone in my views. Even though I know it’s up to me to do what I want, it somehow feels freeing to have someone tell you it is okay. May many blessings come your way!

  11. Hi Ann Marie,
    You sound so much like me. I discovered WAPF when my son was 7, and it made a dramatic difference to his health (no more rampant tooth decay!). We began unschooling when he was 8 and I only wish it had been sooner – best thing we ever did. Just tossed all of my FCLO and I love your food list. (I, too, am passionate about raw cheese…and wine!) Thanks for your informed and inspiring posts.

  12. You were my very first blog and I am SO happy you”re back. I completely understand your revised outlook and am glad you will be writing for you – that will only make the writing better for us all. Thanks for all you do!

  13. We are on the same page! I had done the whole 30 and became very strict with myself and it was not enjoyable. My overall philosophy nowadays is it’s all about choices and as long as I don’t go overboard on less healthy choices, it’s fine.

    Welcome back!

  14. How wonderful Ann Marie ! What a wonderful post – and inspiring to me for stepping out and embracing your life full of joy and just being real !
    I’m so happy you’re back – I’ve always loved your blog and your cooking classes and I’m thrilled that you’re doing well and back sharing your heart with us all 🙂
    Looking forwards to hearing more from you


  15. Ann Marie,

    I joined your Cheeseslave Blog about a year or two before you last gave it up. I was 50+ years old and plenty sick. You were the first food blogger I ever joined. I learned about GAPS from you and it saved my life! I still use your Ox-tail Soup recipe, it’s the best. You introduced me to Carol Tuttle and Dressing Your Truth and I’ve never looked back, I love it. I always take cod live oil, (though I’m not sure I take FCLO) but I’ve felt better with it than without so I will continue. Bone broth is a way of life also. I joined VGN but I had to drop out after about 6 months due to funds. I wish you the best and I look forward to more of your blogs.

  16. A BIG Hell Yeah! I am so happy that Cheeseslave is back! I always loved your unique insight and great information. Looking forward to your blogs…

  17. I’m so glad you’re back. Cheeseslave was the first blog I ever read and my introduction to real food. I missed you. And since I’m not perfect, I don’t expect perfection from you. I do my best most of the time, and do the best I can manage the rest of the time.

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