Skinny Girl Tips: You Can Still Eat Out!

During both of my weight loss rampages, I still ate at restaurants frequently. I even lost 20 pounds while working and eating at Taco Bell every day! Now, having a lot less mobility and a lot more pain, eating out is almost a necessity for us. For example, leaving church on Sunday, my husband and I took separate cars because he had to go straight to work. My hips and legs were hurting so bad I was holding back tears. But in the back seat I had two hungry kids (and a hungry me). There was no way I was going to be able to get around the kitchen to even make sandwiches. So we hit the Taco Bell drive thru instead, and watched a movie in the car while we ate.

Scenarios like that happen far too often at our house. Sometimes my husband is home with me, so he cooks, but being a cook at work, he cooks all day, and sometimes he just doesn’t want to. My daughter is also a big help, but at 8 years old, I don’t want her childhood to be about taking care of mom and little brother. So we eat out more than most people (or at least it seems that way). For a long time I felt guilty, because of the extra cost and the fact that it might not be as healthy as cooking at home, but with the help of a friend (Shout out to Mrs. C!) I decided that I wasn’t going to feel guilty anymore, I was just going to do what I needed to do to take care of my family, even when that meant doing things a different way than most.

I have never enjoyed cooking. It was kind of drilled in to me as a teen that I need to cook and learn to like it because when I get married and have kids, I will have to cook. So I tried, and I would get frustrated because it hurt, and it took so long, and then of course, you have to clean up afterward. So a couple hours of painful cooking and cleaning, for a meal that was gone in 20 minutes.  Ordering pizza just seems a lot less painful, and a lot more enjoyable. Luckily, my husband and kids don’t care that I’m not a 50’s housewife kinda girl. I’m kind of glad that I never liked cooking, because it would be one more thing that I wished I could do. Instead, I can see part of the blessing in my disability: I have a good excuse not to do something that I hate doing anyway.

So that was kind of a tangent, but this is a disability blog, so I feel like the disability aspect is important.

Anyway, it is totally possible to stay on track eating right at restaurants. Here are a few rules I follow:

  • No matter what you choose off the menu, STOP WHEN YOU’RE FULL. I know, it’s just. So. Good. But the leftovers will be good tomorrow when you heat them for lunch.
  • Have some fruits or veggies with your meal (fries don’t count. Anything deep fried doesn’t count). It doesn’t have to be anything complicated; it’s as simple as having tomato, onion, and lettuce on your burger, or salsa and guacamole with your quesadilla.
  • Look at the menus nutrition guide if available. Most fast food places have them. Even Starbucks has one. Sit-down restaurants will sometimes list calorie counts next to menu items. 500-700 calories = good. 1,000 calories or more = bad. (This is for a meal, if you are just having coffee and desert, the counts should be much lower)
  • Grilled or baked, good. Fried or crispy, bad. I don’t think I need to explain that one.
  • Don’t be afraid of cheese. Just don’t ask for extra. Cheese has nutritional value. Remember, we’re making lifestyle changes. Are you going to go the rest of your life without cheese? Didn’t think so.
  • Think outside the mayo jar. Mayonnaise is bad for you. No nutritional value, lots of fat and calories. Get creative with your condiments. Burgers are fine with just mustard and ketchup. Guacamole & BBQ sauce make a great western burger. Balsamic vinegar is awesome on a chicken sandwich.
  • Trade in your French fries. The day when you could only get fries with your burger or nacho cheese sauce for your chips is gone. Try a healthy side like yogurt or fruit instead of fries. Ask for salsa and guacamole instead of nacho cheese. Gotta get that fry fix? Steal just a few from your husband (or kid or friend)!
  • The same goes for sour cream and salad dressings. Ditch the sour cream for guacamole. Still creamy, and packed with nutritional value. Cream based salad dressings are bad. Choose balsamic vinegar (good for you!) or olive oil and lime (also good for you).
  • Starbucks? Ask for nonfat milk. What about sugar free? Artificial sweeteners are chemically altered. They are carcinogens (shown to increase risk of cancer). Also, there have been tons of studies that show that they don’t help weight loss. Stick to the real stuff in moderation.
  • Starbucks pastry? loaf. Their reduced fat pastries are better than the regular ones! Or pick something with nutrients, like pumpkin or banana nut.
  • Pizza can be good for you! Especially if you order a thin crust vegetarian special. If you have to have meat, Canadian bacon (or ham) is your best bet. It has a surprisingly low fat and calorie count. If you don’t like all the veggies, just add the ones that you do like. Love Hawaiian? Just ask for Canadian bacon and pineapple instead. Hawaiian has extra cheese. If you don’t like thin crust, don’t beat yourself up; order pan. Ask for whole wheat crust where available, and don’t forget to sprinkle those little crushed pepper packets! So good for you, and a metabolism booster!

Eating healthy at restaurants doesn’t require a degree in nutrition, just a combination of common sense and creativity. Later in the week I’ll post some of my favorite weight-loss-friendly menu items 🙂 Now go hit a drive thru!

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Skinny Girl Tips: Easy Ways to Incorporate Fruits and Veggies into Your Diet

Hey everyone! Sorry, I’ve missed a couple of weeks. We had some sad stuff going on, so I didn’t post any tips for a while. When we left off, I was going to show you some easy ways to incorporate fruits and veggies into your diet. Here they are 🙂

Breakfast
• Bananas, berries, raisins, or dried cranberries in your cereal or oatmeal. This one is simple, but many people don’t think of it. Peaches are great in oatmeal!
• Warm a whole wheat tortilla. Spread on some peanut butter and a sliced banana, drizzle some honey (good for you!), and sprinkle some cinnamon,
• Use whole wheat pancake mix to make pancakes, and add in some fruit chunks. My favorite combinations: apples and cinnamon, strawberries and white chocolate, banana and chocolate chips. Top with peanut butter for protein, and if you use syrup, use real maple syrup. (it usually comes in a glass bottle)
• Make a smoothie! Just use frozen yogurt, milk, and any fruit combinations you like. Don’t have frozen yogurt? Use regular yogurt and ice. Even add coffee!’
• Easy fruit and yogurt ‘parfait’: Layer yogurt, fruit, and graham crackers, cereal, or granola
• Top eggs with avocado, spinach, mushrooms, salsa, and/or whatever veggies you like.

Lunch
• Top sandwiches with avocado, tomato, cucumber, fresh spinach, and\or whatever other veggies you like. That works for burgers too.
• Don’t forget the veggies on your hot dog! Avocado, tomato, onion, and cucumbers go great.
• Top your nachos with all of those veggies too!
• When all else fails, have a side of veggies or a salad. It’s best to skip the dressing or use balsamic vinegar or olive oil and lime.
• A hot ham, cheese, and broccoli sandwich.
• Tuna: Use mayo made with olive oil, add in a little mustard or lime juice. Add raisins or dried cranberries, sliced avocado and tomato, or chunks of apple and/or celery.

Dinner
• Making pasta? Marinara is veggie packed, especially if you use or make one with veggie chunks. For alfredo add in broccoli and corn.
• For quesadillas, add corn, tomato, and/or onion. Dip them in salsa or guacamole.
• Chicken soup: Boil 4 chicken breasts, 4 small potatoes, half a bag of baby carrots, corn, half an onion,and2 zucchini. Add salt, garlic, oregano, cumin, paprika, and chili powder to taste.
• Top chili with avocado, tomato, onion, cucumber, and/or corn.
Snacks
• Slice and apple and eat it with peanut butter as a snack. This is the perfect carbs-and-protein combination.
• Family sized bowl of guacamole: 4 avocados, ½-1 tomato, ¼-1/2 onion, ½ bushel of cilantro. Optional: ½ cucumber. Mash avocado, dice veggies, and chop cilantro. Mix together and add salt, lime juice, cumin, paprika, and chili powder to taste. The Lazy Cook’s way: Throw it all in a blender. It just won’t be as chunky.
• Pita chips with hummus, guacamole, or salsa.
• Dip bell pepper or cucumber spears in guacamole, hummus, or salsa.
• Drizzle chocolate over strawberries.
• Super quick ‘fancy’ salad: Sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, 1 can whole olives. Optional: Sliced avocado. Mix together with balsamic vinegar or olive oil and lime.
• When all else fails, wash some fruit or veggies and eat them.

Adding fruits and veggies is pretty easy once you get started. Use fresh as much as possible, but don’t feel guilty about using canned or frozen; it’s better than nothing. Be creative and find unique ways to add fruits and veggies to your recipes, or even frozen or microwave meals! If you’re not used to fruits and veggies being a big part of your diet, fake it ‘til you make it. It WILL make a difference in your waistline and your health!

Comment with your own creations!

For My Uncle Kreg

“At least I don’t have cancer.”

That’s what I always told people who asked how I could have such a great attitude about my medical problems. That was before my uncle was diagnosed with cancer. I had no idea how true those words would ring.

I always thought he would win. I always thought he would beat it. I never once thought “What if he doesn’t?” I think I was doing it to be strong. Strong for my aunt. Strong for my daughter. Strong for my uncle. Strong for myself. But now I wish I would have asked “What if the worst happens? What if he doesn’t make it?”

I would have gone to see him every day. I would have called him more. I would have sat and listened more. Instead of being afraid to talk to him, afraid to disturb him, I would have asked. I would have thanked him for everything. All the times he just sat and had coffee with me, or dinner. Thanked him for his guidance. For listening to me. For treating me like another adult family member; like my view and my opinion mattered. I would have told him just how much he mattered to me.

It’s not very often that I question the way God works, or why He allows things to happen. But this is one of those times. I still needed him here. I needed him to talk with me and have coffee with me. I needed his guidance and his outlook. My husband needed his guidance and his example. Who is going to mentor him now? Who is going to sneak candy to my kids in plain sight? He won’t be there to see Cruz grow up. He hasn’t really even gotten to notice all the cute things Cruz does now. You know, if it weren’t for uncle Kreg, Cruz probably wouldn’t even exist. Sure, my husband always wanted another baby, and every only child wants a baby brother or sister, but it was my uncle’s constant “So when is the other one coming?” That finally broke my grudge against pregnancy. But he never really got to know him.

And then I think about how selfish that is of me, because if I still need him that much, I can’t imagine what my aunt and my cousins must be going through. 25 years. They’ve been married for 25 years. They’re best friends. I can’t imagine what it must be like, after all that time, to look down the road without him. His oldest daughter’s baby is younger than Cruz. If I’m this torn over him not being able to see Cruz grow, I can’t imagine what she is going through. Or my middle cousin. 19 and going through college. He won’t be there when she graduates. He won’t be there to walk her down the aisle. Or watch her kids grow up. Or my youngest cousin. He’s only 16. He won’t even see him graduate high school. He claims he’s never having kids. Uncle Kreg won’t be there to change his mind like he changed mine.

But we know where he is now. There is no questioning it. He is in heaven. He is with Jesus. He has no more pain; he is healed. He has a joy that we cannot even fathom. And he will be waiting when we get there.

Uncle Kreg is still with us in some ways. Whenever the Oregon Ducks play. Whenever someone gives Promise, or Cruz, or his little granddaughter a cookie. Whenever we help someone, just because they need help. When I look at my kids, or my aunt, or my cousins, and remember how much he loved all of us.

During his fight with cancer, uncle Kreg told me about a book he wanted me to read. A book about one young man’s struggle with the same cancer. I am reading the book now, and I feel so sorry that I never really knew what it was like when he was here with us.

Many times, he told me that if he made it through, his dream was to spread awareness of this cancer. To speak in high schools and colleges and hand out this book that talks about the pain and loneliness of cancer in such detail. Such detail that it gave me nightmares.

You see, my uncle had testicular cancer. A cancer that none of us had ever heard of, yet it is the most common cancer among men ages 15-35. It is also the most curable cancer – if you catch it early. By the time my uncle was diagnosed – because he passed out and went into seizures one night – it had already spread to his lymph nodes, lungs, and brain.

It makes me angry to think that it is the most common cancer in young men, yet most people have never heard of it. Why isn’t there more awareness of this cancer that affects so many people? Awareness can save lives. It could have saved my uncle’s life.

So I intend to help carry out my uncle’s plan. I intend to spread awareness. If he, one of the least, maybe THE least deserving person that I know, had to die, I will help make sure that it was not in vain. That it does not go unnoticed.

Talk to your sons about testicular cancer. One awkward talk could save their lives.

http://testicularcancerawarenessfoundation.org
http://togetherwewillwin.net

Dedicated to my uncle Kreg, who read my blog posts from the very beginning.
2/14/65 -8/31/13
You are greatly missed.

Aunt Brenda and Uncle Kreg at my cousin's wedding, 2 months before he was diagnosed.

Aunt Brenda and Uncle Kreg at my cousin’s wedding, 2 months before he was diagnosed.

Uncle Kreg holding my son, Christmas 2012, almost 1 year after being diagnosed.

Uncle Kreg holding my son, Christmas 2012, almost 1 year after being diagnosed.

Us at Relay For Life 2012. Uncle Kreg is in front.

Us at Relay For Life 2012. Uncle Kreg is in front.

Testicular Cancer Awareness bracelets in orchid, the color of its awareness ribbon.

Testicular Cancer Awareness bracelets in orchid, the color of its awareness ribbon.