Adversity Breeds Awesomeness

*Let it be known that in what you are about to read, my intent is not to gossip. It is only to spread awareness of a horrible prejudice, and share one of the most – if not the most – important lessons I’ve ever learned.

“Yesterday I deactivated my Facebook account. Then I thought about all my long distance family and friends, that I only get to see and talk to through Facebook. Which is why I opened a Facebook account in the first place. It’s also been a place to promote causes that are important to me. So I’m reactivating it.

I realize that not everyone is going to agree with everything I say or do. You might be bothered by the fact that my husband was born in Mexico, the fact that I don’t work because of my disability, or the fact that sometimes my husband and I make the wrong decisions; financially or otherwise. And that’s ok. We do our best to live our lives the way we believe God calls us to, even when others disagree. And sometimes we make mistakes.

However, if we do disagree on anything, I expect we can do it in an adult-like fashion, without name calling, public humiliation, or airing dirty laundry…”

The post went on to say that if you can’t disagree without public humiliation, I will simply block you. Many don’t need to hear that, but surprisingly, a lot do.

Near the end of last week, I shared a photo on Facebook. A photo of a lady holding a sign that described her situation. She is a 34 year old woman, with a job that does not offer insurance benefits. After a trip to the ER, tumors were found in her uterus. Of course, trying to get insurance after that, she was denied based on her pre-existing condition.

The photo brought up the very controversial topic of Obamacare.

Along with the photo, I commented basically that I was neither for nor against Obamacare; Republican nor Democrat. Well, actually I said that I was a little of both. What I did specify was that we need healthcare reform. Because I don’t believe that any hardworking person should have to go without health insurance. I believe that companies like McDonald’s, or Olive Garden, who make millions every year, because of their employees, should offer health insurance to those employees. And I believe that those who cannot get health insurance through a company should be able to purchase an affordable individual plan.

Nothing to do with ‘welfare’; or even Obamacare, really. Everything to do with providers in the medical field exploiting our basic human need for health care. Employers caring more about profit than people. And I don’t see any health insurance companies or medical providers going bankrupt. Not in the real sense of the term.

The sign the lady was holding did start out saying “I am Obamacare”. But like I mentioned, I stated that I was not advocating Obamacare, but some kind of healthcare reform.

My point was not even that ‘people like me’ (Read: people who don’t work and get government assistance) should get health care. It was that people who work hard for their companies every day, should.

But somehow, based on the photo I shared and the words that I said, a family member verbally attacked me. On Facebook, for everyone to see.

The short of it was that she also has pain, but she still goes to work every day, and that I am robbing her by not doing so myself. She went on to refer to me as ungrateful, entitled, uneducated, unintelligent, and irrational, while she listed some of the financial mistakes my husband and I have made in the past.

I retaliated, not by defending my mistakes, or even by telling the other side of that story, but by referring to her as ‘lady’, and listing off all of the reasons why I am, in fact, ‘entitled’ to receive a disability check every month.

And my cousin said some political/social justice things, and my sister said some things that, honestly, made me really proud to be her sister.

My intent was not (and never is) that she, or anyone, would pity me, only that they would not assume that I simply don’t try hard enough.

But then I apologized, because I heard a still, small voice. It said “As much as depends on you, live peaceably.”

I’ve probably only really recognized that scripture twice in my life. Yet there it was, clear as day. I would have to Google it to even tell you what verse it is.

I had not answered by name calling, listing her mistakes, or even mentioning the other side of the story in those financial mistakes. But I had not answered peaceably. So I apologized. She never responded, so I may never know if she read my apology.

The reason I deactivated my account was not because of her. It was because of various family members over time taking similar actions, resorting to Facebook bullying and airing dirty laundry when they disagree with something I say or do. All of them but one over the age of 45.

I’ve been accused of faking and/or over exaggerating my disability (I’ve had multiple surgeries and therapy, starting at the age of 2, so I don’t know how you fake that). They say that I receive ‘special treatment’ from my parents and grandparents because I ‘limp a little’.

This really hurts, specifically coming from family members, and specifically within the past few years, because I have always been independent to a fault.

Regarding working, and then collecting disability, I can honestly say that I worked as hard as I could for as long as I could. I ignored the pain for a long, long time. Then I took OTC meds, then prescriptions, then got a wheelchair, braces, and accommodations. I did everything in my power to keep working. But there came a time when I couldn’t do it anymore, and I felt a peace about leaving, and collecting from a system that I had paid into as long as I could. (Note: I have no qualms about someone not working and getting government assistance if they are unable, whether or not they have paid into it. If you need it, you need it.)

With the help of a very good friend (another shout out to Mrs. C!), and the support of a few others, I realized that trying to communicate this to any of them, or anyone else, doesn’t matter. Because I do not have to defend myself. I have One much greater than any of us to defend me. My only job is to seek first the kingdom of God.

I’ve realized something else in these past few days, with all of this drama. I think a lot of you will find it interesting, maybe eye-opening to your own circumstances. Maybe you will think less of me, because I’m going to be very honest and transparent about some of my own faults. But I hope not. I hope you will just see me as a fellow human being, who has flaws and hurdles to overcome, just like the rest of us.

When I was a kid, I had all these plans about what my life was going to be after I turned 18. I didn’t like that my parents were poor, and had to worry all the time, so I was going to do all the right things to have ‘enough’ money. I didn’t like that their house was always messy, so mine was going to be clean. I thought it was sad how they fought with family members and stopped talking to them, so I wasn’t going to do that. I didn’t understand why a lot of disabled people didn’t have the life that they wanted, so I was going to have it. I was going to be nice, work hard, and make smart decisions.

But life happened, and I’m broke, my house is a mess, and I don’t talk to a growing number of family members (because I give up after multiple attacks on my character), and I can’t even grocery shop without assistance.

Ever since I started seriously losing my mobility and having a lot of pain, a few years ago, and realizing my life is not what I had ‘planned’ it would be, I’ve been asking God why. Full on, crying in the shower, punching my pillow, begging God to either rewind time or show me a reason.

For a long time I blamed it on some influences and problems from my teenage years. If I could have just stayed where I was instead of having to move to such and such place. If I could have done this at that time I wouldn’t have gone down such and such path. Why I listened to the negative voices. Why I hadn’t had more courage. Why I had to have CP. Not because it bothered me to be disabled, but because now the pain got in the way so much. And because of the prejudice and accusations.

Mostly I wanted to know why it felt like I had lost the past 10 years. Why as much as I tried to make the right decisions, they usually turned out to be the wrong ones. But knowing I could have done better, learned more.

I never really thought I would get an answer. I figured it was one of those things I’d have to wait to find out until I ask God when I get there. But going through this in the past few days, I heard my answer: Compassion.

If I had gotten out of my parents’ house and made all the right decisions, made more than enough money, never fought with my family; even not had the pain that I have now, I would be just like this family member who seemed to think that if you do not make enough make enough money to support yourself and your own family, regardless of the reason, you deserved only what your own finances could produce. Even if it meant not enough food or healthcare. Even if that was nothing.

I don’t think I would be as mean as her, but I would think like her. I would look down on my parents, and anyone who didn’t make ‘enough’ money. I would look down on people that didn’t have the career and the life that they wanted. I would even look down on disabled people that didn’t work. And even the ones that could walk, but used a wheelchair. Because if I can, they can too. To me it would be simply a matter of will power. I would assume that, regardless of what their circumstances are or have been, they should have done better. Because I would have no idea.

So I am really glad for all of my adversity. I do plan on turning our financial future around. But I will use my mind and my heart instead of my body. And I won’t look down on anyone who is in a different place. Or tax bracket.

It’s kind of embarrassing to admit all of that, so hopefully it doesn’t cause you to have a negative opinion of me.

But through all of this I learned: Adversity Breeds Awesomeness

And Compassion.

And I figured that was a lesson worth sharing.

**My cousin coined this phrase. We use it often, and we claim rights. 😉 We’ll probably make T-shirts.

***Oh, and please no mean-spirited comments. The post I applied to my Facebook page also applies to this blog.

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Spina Bifida Awareness Month!

Kate :) Photo Credit: Romi

Kate 🙂
Photo Credit: Romi

October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month! As some of you may remember, one of my (two) best friends has Spina Bifida. Some of you fellow bloggers do as well, and I wanted to get your input. What do you want to see on the subject? What do you want others to know about SB? Chime in!

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

During September, Invisible Illness week came and went. I had other things on my mind in September, so I’m talking about it now. While cerebral palsy is a disability and not really an illness, I still feel that it fits the bill in my case.

If you’re wondering how it’s invisible, the reasons are these:

  • I don’t ‘look’ disabled. I really don’t like this one, because I feel like nobody should be labeled that they ‘look disabled’ or ‘don’t look disabled’. But out in the world, people like labels.
  • When I’m walking around in public, or even in my wheelchair, nobody knows that I’m in a lot of pain. I look happy (because I am happy, based on things that have nothing to do with my physical circumstances). I think that, at least for me, walking (or rolling; mostly rolling) around with a sad face, or being angry all the time, would be detrimental to my life and to the people around me. Especially my kids.
  • Still a lot of my friends and family, even doctors, have a hard time understanding it. I’ve been a lot more open about the pain lately, and losing my mobility, but sometimes I still get the feeling that a lot of people don’t understand it’s more than just a limp.

Anyway, I found this survey on another blog, and reading her answers was interesting, so I thought I would post it too 🙂 Surveys are a fun way to learn things about other people, and even yourself, while your searching your insides for the answer to a question you had never thought to ask yourself. Here goes!

1. The illness I live with is: Cerebral Palsy

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 1987 I think? Maybe ’86. I was a year and a half or two.

3. But I had symptoms since: I was born I guess, just nobody really recognized them for a while. CP symptoms are similar to regular newborn/baby characteristics.

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: Not being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want. Having an A-type personality and losing your mobility is hard!

5. Most people assume: Oh… where do I start with this question… Most people assume that I’m fine. That limping is my biggest problem.

6. The hardest part about mornings are: Everything. The pain is worst in the morning. It wakes me up before the sun. Which is good anyway, because I need a good couple hours to get it under control before the kids wake up.

7. My favorite medical TV show is: TV is boring. Turn up the radio. Or X Factor. X Factor is good.

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My iPhone. Same answer as the last girl. But it’s oh. So. True.

9. The hardest part about nights are: Falling asleep when my legs are aching. Also, same answer as the last girl, who has Spina Bifida. I would add that staying asleep while things are aching is also a big challenge.

10. Each day I take at least 7 pills & vitamins. Lately it’s in the 20’s (Don’t judge me, a lot of ibuprofen for swelling and inflammation. And it’s OTC because I don’t wanna pay $100 plus to get and buy a prescription)

11. Regarding alternative treatments I: Have tried them all.. To help with pain and overall health and wellbeing. Again, same answer as the last girl. I would add that nothing seems to really help.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: 10 years ago I wouldn’t have changed it. Now I would. Well, maybe not, because I would have to choose a visible one, which has it’s advantages, but I don’t know if its a good trade off.

13. Regarding working and career: I miss working, and making more money than I recieve on Social Security, but I’m not going to let it bother me because I can’t change it. And some of the things I get to do now are pretty awesome.

14. People would be surprised to know: I feel like I fell/am falling through the cracks, medically speaking. I didn’t have any medical care from the time I was 13 until I got my first job with insurance at 23. And now, they don’t know what to do with me. I keep hearing about other people that are having surgeries that are working wonders for them, and I think a few of them could really help me, but I don’t have insurance right now 😦

15. The hardest thing to accept about reality has been: Losing my mobility, resulting in not being able to raise my kids or live my life the way I really want to. I don’t know that I’ve really even accepted it. I have for right now, but I still have hopes that it can be better.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: Wear flip-flops. Stupid I know, but if you only knew…
Thank you, Old Navy, for making cheap flip flops that stick to my feet so I can wear them.

17. The commercials about my illness: Are always about suing doctors for medical malpractice.

18. Something I really miss doing since my disability has progressed is: walking, running, exercising, not being in pain… it’s a long list.

19. It is really hard to go without: prescription drugs! Same answer as the last girl. But seriously I couldn’t get out of bed without them. Or stay in bed, so that’s a problem. But most of all I wouldn’t be able to take care of my kids.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: Go on a hike with my family. Climb a mountain or something. Fit in as much as I possibly could.

22. My illness has taught me: You can never truly know, or judge, what another person is going through.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: You’re faking it. You don’t really need that wheelchair. You’re in a handicap spot. You could work if you really wanted to. Basically any kind of doubt that I have the trouble that I have. I think that stems from having some actual family members and friends say things like that.

24. But I love it when people: Recognize that despite my disability, I’m just another person, mom, etc. When they make the effort to get to know the person in front of the disability (I don’t think I’m behind it, it’s behind me), instead of being prejudice.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy” James 1:2, and “Pray about everything; worry about nothing. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.” Philippians 4:6

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t do.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: Getting worse. I was always told it wouldn’t get worse. What they meant was that the brain damage wouldn’t progress.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: A lot of things. Carry me, raise money for a wheelchair so I wouldn’t have to keep walking, accomodations and days off at work…

29. I’m going to get involved with Invisible Illness Week next year because: People need to be aware of what other people around them might be going through, and that they shouldn’t be quick to judge.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Funny way to end, but I’m glad you took the time to get to know me a little better 😉

You Can Still Eat Out Part 2: What to Order Where

*Sorry this is later than I said it would be; I compiled this list on Word, and I was having internet problems, so I was unable to transfer it and post it.*

As I mentioned before, eating right while eating out isn’t impossible. It just requires a little knowledge, maybe some research, and as always, a little self control.

Here are some of my go-to’s for my most frequented restaurants:

McDonald’s

Grilled chicken sandwich, no mayo. Their balsamic vinegar dressing is a good alternative if you have to have a condiment. It’s ok to leave the cheese on, and sometimes even the bacon 😉 The whole wheat bun they serve it on makes it doubly awesome.

Fruit N’ Yogurt Parfait. As a side of course. They are admittedly kinda high in sugar, but in my opinion that’s cancelled out by the calcium, fruit, and the fact that it’s still way better for you than French fries.

Cheeseburger. That’s right, sometimes you gotta just have a good old McD’s cheeseburger. That, and the calorie count is only 300. So that plus your yogurt makes for a reasonable lunch.

Apple Slices. I don’t order them, because I’m allergic. But you can order them. It doesn’t get much healthier than sliced fruit.

Salads. They offer an impressive variety of salads. I’m also allergic to lettuce, so I don’t order these either. But you can. Just remember to stick to grilled chicken instead of crispy, and be VERY careful with the dressings.

Since I’m me, and everyone has their own taste, I would recommend visiting their website to see what your options are. They even have an ‘Under 400 calories’ page.

Breakfast. Stick to English muffins instead of biscuits, ham instead of sausage, and yogurt instead of hash browns.

Burger King

I had to rewrite this one. I’ve never liked BK as a ‘healthy eating’ option. Their grilled chicken and buns are really dry, and they offer apples and salads, but no healthy side that I can eat. In my opinion, their burger and fries are better than McD’s, but if I’m trying to eat healthy, I skip BK. So when they came out with their Satisfries, I was really excited. Until I did some research.

I went to their website to find out the calorie and fat counts for both types of fries. Their website and commercials are all about how the new fries are 40% less fat and 30% less calories than regular fries. Naturally, since you’re at BK, you assume it’s less fat and cals than original BK fries. But when I looked at the numbers, I didn’t need a calculator to see that it was not a 40% difference. Wondering why the discrepancy, I went back to the home page. This time, I noticed the tell-tale asterisks next to the font. So, I read the fine print, which states: “*40% less fat than McDonald’s fries” & “**30% less calories than McDonald’s fries.”.

That just makes me mad. They are basically lying to the public. Sure, those little asterisks mean they can’t actually be sued, because they were ‘honest’, but really?? Why not just say that? Or why not just say ‘20% less fat and calories than BK fries.’

So there’s my rant. I don’t think restaurants should be allowed to legally mislead people. It’s wrong.

So anyway, if you can down their grilled chicken sandwich, and you aren’t allergic to raw fruits and veggies, go for it.

Otherwise, the Whopper Jr. isn’t too bad of an option. It’s got tomatoes and onions on it (which I’m not allergic to), so you have some veggies. Just remember to skip the mayo. Personally, I think Bk’s cheese is gross, so I don’t order it there, but again, that’s just my taste.

Taco Bell

This is my favorite fast food option. As long as you order your items without any cream based sauces, and stay away from the deep fried foods, you pretty much can’t go wrong.

These are their cream based sauces:

Creamy Jalapeno sauce

Baja sauce

Pepper Jack sauce

Volcano sauce

Avocado Ranch dressing

Sour cream

Nacho Cheese

Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean your food has to be boring.

Here are some toppings you can substitute, and they’re actually good for you:

Guacamole

Salsa

Pico de gallo

Cheddar cheese or three cheese blend

Red sauce

Tomatoes, onions, and lettuce

Their deep fried items are:

Potatos

Chips

Chalupas

Cinnamon Twists,

Empanadas

Edible taco salad bowls

What you can have instead:

Pintos & Cheese

A side of rice

Gorditas instead of chalupas

Subway

As everyone knows, Subway is another place you almost can’t go wrong.

My suggestions:

Ask for a whole grain bread (wheat or honey oat)

Load up on the veggies

Stay away from mayo and other cream based sauces and condiments

Oil and vinegar is ok; even good for you (they use olive oil)

Be careful with the chips. They offer baked chips and yogurt, which are better options.

Panda Express

I like Panda Express because there is no MSG, and they use fresh foods. Even better, they now offer brown rice. Their Wok Smart items are easy to spot, and have 250 calories or less per serving.

So if you can, I would stick to brown rice as a side, and choose Wok Smart entrees. Something with veggies is best of course 😉 But even I can’t resist their orange chicken once in a while.

At bigger, sit-down restaurants (Applebees, Olive Garden, IHOP, etc.), a lot of them now have a low cal or Weight Watchers menu. There are flavorful items with a reasonable fat and calorie count. Best of all, there is usually a side of fruit or steamed veggies.

If there is not an alternative menu, it can still be easy to eat right. Just remember to stay away from ‘crispy’ or fried items, stick to tomato based sauces instead of cream based sauces, and don’t forget your fruit or veggies.

So there are my restaurant secrets to eating right. If you have a smart phone, it’s easy to check nutrition facts on the quick.

Don’t forget to have desert once in a while!

You should know that I do not count calories (or fat) as a practice. I think it’s unnecessary and it over-complicates healthy eating. Especially since fat and calories aren’t what matter most in healthy eating. What matters most is making sure you get the vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, and carbs that your body needs. But it is important, especially when you’re losing weight, to know more or less how many calories and how much fat are in your food. Keeping it within a certain range each time you eat will help you stay in control and on track.

If there’s a restaurant you want specifics on, or you have a question about something, send me a message!

Help Wanted

Yesterday was a rough day. It made me realize I am quickly losing my mobility and independence. I fear I am losing my ability to take care of my own kids every day.
On Facebook, there is a Cerebral Palsy Support Group page. Sometimes they post member questions, so that other people that have experienced similar problems can provide ideas and insight. So I sent them a question. They haven’t replied to me or posted my question, but I wanted to ask all of you. Maybe some or one of you is experiencing this. Or maybe you have a friend or acquaintance that has dealt with it. My question was this:

“I have CP, I’m married, and I have 2 kids, ages 8 & 1. I can walk, but as time goes by, it is increasingly difficult and painful. Cooking is especially difficult. When I say cooking, this includes even simple things like making sandwiches. I used to be able to clean ok, but that is getting much harder, as is chasing around my 1 year old son. Sometimes we sit in the car and watch movies, just so he is buckled down and happy, so I can sit down for a while. My husband works as a cook and I have been on disability for a year. I have a wheelchair, but my house is small, and it doesn’t fit through the hall or doorways, or around the kitchen table, or really even around the living room. And of course, it doesn’t reach the kitchen counters or stove. I’ve tried cooking from a stool, but having to get up and down a lot is worse than standing and walking, so that doesn’t work. I can tell I am rapidly losing mobility, and I don’t know what to do to be able to take care of my house and my kids. I was wondering if anyone else is going through this and what do they do?”

Please, chime in 🙂
The obvious answer would be to hire a someone to cook and clean for me, but I don’t have the resources right now. To my fellow Americans, would any type of insurance or government program cover anything like this?

What do I do?

**Please keep answers polite, any mean-spirited responses will be deleted. Thank you :)**

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!

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!