Be Present.

When my patience is tested, I pause to thank God for blessings that leave me overwhelmed. It’s so easy to get caught up in staying on top of everything, on being the best mom, wife, employee, manager, coach, blogger… it’s all-consuming.

A three year old boy lost his life a couple of weeks ago, and the Instagram community exploded with love and support. This has caused my heart to ache far more than I imagined. I read his mom’s blog today, about avoiding “land mines”; the things that remind her of her boy. She talks about the places they used to go, the songs they sing together, his favorite snacks. Land mines are painful, but they are are caused by the joyous memories that they created together. They are meant to help her heal, but it doesn’t mean they’re any less difficult.
She misses his arms wrapped around her leg. I can’t imagine that pain. It literally leaves me feeling nauseous, and I pray for her daily. 
I don’t want to link to her blog, only because it drives me crazy when I see people leaving comments on her photos about how they are “holding their kids a little bit tighter tonight”. I know it’s the truth, but somehow it feels so insensitive to me. I might have even said it… but in hindsight, I feel like it’s a huge slap in the face.
I don’t want her to find her way here and have to read about me being thankful for my blessings. For causing me to spend extra time each day to memorize the little curves of Porter’s face, or write down the cute way he says “osside” when he wants to play in the grass, or nods his head passionately when I ask him if he wants something that I know he does. I’ve caught myself losing my temper a few times, only to remind myself blankly: “She would give anything to throw away another unsalvageable shirt covered in blueberry juice”, to to be startled awake at 5am by a toddler with a tummy bug. Those thing I groan about? She would give her very life for.
Sobering, right?

21DF | 21 Day Fix Guide To Eating Out

Eating out on the 21 Day Fix is not hard. In fact, I love that Autumn gives you permission to go out and order spaghetti, or a piece of pizza… it’s not a perfect world, and you will not always have zip-loc baggies or Tupperware full of prepared, pre-portioned food. So, you make due.

When I go out, I look for a few things on the menu – here are 5 easy-to-remember options for dining out!
1. Look for low-cal options.For example, Applebees has some meals under 550 calories, and those are really easy to further customize, because what you’re starting with isn’t so bad. I mean, it would be hard/annoying to ask them to hold the cheese on an extra cheesy, three cheese quesadilla… so, be smart on where you start. I went to Applebees recently for lunch, and I had the Napa Chicken & Portobellos.
Now, the portion size wasn’t NEARLY what is pictured below… it was much smaller. And if it would have been as big as the photo, I would have eaten half of my lunch and boxed the rest to go. But, it was a great option to start – a grilled chicken breast, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, roasted red peppers, red onions and crispy potatoes.

In hindsight: I also should have probably asked them to hold the cheese, or put it on the side (so I could see how much they added, or I could add it myself based on what I know of 1 Blue Container) and I would also ask them to go easy on the oil/sauce. My dish was a LITTLE greasy, but not too bad.

I calculated 2 red (chicken was big), 1 yellow, 2 green and 1 orange for this meal.

2. Salads are your friend.Luckily, there are some great salad options anywhere you go! For example, at Bjs, next time I go, I would probably order the Honey Crisp Chicken Salad, but I would probably order it like this: “On the Honey Crisp Chicken Salad… what kind of lettuce is that? Can I do romaine or mixed greens? I just don’t like iceburg. Ok, great, thanks! Also, can I have grilled chicken instead of fried? And can I get balsamic instead of honey mustard… so, I guess it would called a Grilled Balsamic Chicken Salad now, wouldn’t it?” Yeah. I make cheesy jokes like my dad. 🙂 Anyway. It sounds complex to order, but it’s not that bad if you have a nice wait(er, ress).

A couple of notes when it comes to ordering salads, in general:

  • They are almost always too big. Eat your portions and take the rest home.
  • Ask for dressing on the side – I usually have the house balsamic vinaigrette, or something similar, when I’m out. You could also ask for a few lemon wedges, though, and squeeze those over your salad for extra flavor – delicious and FREE on the Fix!
  • Ask for cheese on the side.
  • If you can, add a lean protein! Lots of restaurants give you the option to add chicken, or shrimp, or salmon to any salad – I always add a protein! It fills you up much better.
  • NO ICEBERG LETTUCE. Look for salads with spinach, romaine, kale, arugula, etc. Dark greens are your friend!

    3. OLE! Don’t be afraid of Mexican!They have the hot sauce, after all. Paul and I love to eat out at our local Mexican restaurant, and they have great options for the Fix. MY FAVE: you can get 2 street tacos (corn tortillas, protein, pico/salsa, hot sauce, lime wedges for extra flavor!), fish tacos (grilled fish, not breaded, and hold the heavy white dressing, add lemon or lime), fajitas (corn tortillas), quesadilla (I love the veggie quesadilla at my local Mex restaurant, and our waiter knows us – so I ask him to go light on the cheese), carne asada, etc. So many options!

    • I ask for a whole wheat tortilla at my spot, too, which is cool. Some restaurants may have a gluten-free option (brown rice tortillas?), which would be a great sub… just ask! Nowadays, you’re almost always guaranteed they have a healthier option for people with food allergies or intolerances, so take advantage of that. You have become someone with an intolerance… you are now intolerant of crap, processed food.
    • Get black beans rather than refried, and only eat half the portion of rice/beans that they give you.
    • Just say no to sour cream, and the chips (I know… so hard).
    • Don’t be afraid of the guacamole! Add a scoop to your meal for some healthy fat in place of cheese.
    4. Come Prepared.Since we can’t have sugar or sweetener on the Fix, pack your bag with a stash of Stevia. I always drink LOADS of water when I’m at restaurants (it helps to fill you up so you don’t overeat), or plain, unsweetened iced tea if I’m needing a change. To my iced tea I add 1 packet of Stevia. Like you’ve heard a billion times… if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Put some Stevia in your purse or diaper bag!
    5. Check the sides!
    Many restaurants have awesome side options (veggies like asparagus or steamed broccoli, a baked potato, brown rice, whole wheat toast, etc). Check it out! Order a few of these and make your own meal. If I went to a restaurant with awesome sides, I would order a small house salad, add chicken… then check the side items for a veggie I liked that I could add to my meal. I would ask them to not add any butter, too 🙂 Salt and pepper is fine. ALSO – get that side of mustard! Great for flavor and dipping your chicken!

    The best advice I can give you… don’t be afraid to be normal. You’re not supposed to lock yourself in the house on the Fix… go on dinner dates, and show people what a lifestyle change is truly all about.
    If you have questions, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at – I’m happy to help!

    21DF | Lemon Thyme Salmon

    My favorite dinner thus far! Add this into your line-up immediately, if you’re a fan of these ingredients.
    Lemon & Thyme
    Fresh Basil
    Fresh Mozzarella (Skim/low moisture or whatever) 😉
    Balsamic Reduction

    We cooked our salmon the bbq, because the sun came out and we forgot that it was April. It was so easy! Season your salmon with a tsp of olive oil and whatever fresh herbs/citrus you want – we did lemon slices, and fresh sprigs of thyme. And, salt + pepper of course! Then, place it on the grill skin side down, until the fish starts to flake and the white/clear “fat” starts to emerge from the meat. Make sense?
    For the Caprese salad, slice tomatoes and mozzarella into medallions. Layer tomato, mozzarella and basil in an alternating pattern, and then drizzle with balsamic reduction. You can make your own reduction by simmering balsamic vinegar over low, low heat until it reduces by half… takes a century, but it’s delicious. OR, you can be lazy like me and go to your local gourmet grocery store and buy an amazing pre-made/pure/no sugar added reduction.
    I’m just being honest, here. It’s a no-brainer for me.

    21 Day Fix Totals: 1 Red + 1 Green + 1 Blue