Hello, lovelies. How are you?? I've been remiss in blogging this week--I needed the extra time to get some other life tasks done, but I've been thinking of you tons and we'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming before you know it. In the meantime, I want to tell you about two things that have me really excited this week: The Compassion Collective, and the Great River Ragnar Relay.
I. The Compassion Collective
I've already written (at length, I know) about my deep love for Glennon Doyle Melton. A woman after my own heart, that treasure. But what I really just can't get over, can't fathom, just. can't. even. is the fact that Glennon is also friends in real life with my other imaginary best friend Liz Gilbert, and that they've teamed up with Cheryl Strayed (you know? who wrote that great book Wild? that was turned into a fine move with Reese Witherspoon?) and Brene Brown (who...I don't know yet. But obviously I should) and Rob Bell (whose book I liked just okay...but that's not the point) to create The Compassion Collective. You can learn more about the organization at http://thecompassioncollective.org/ but what really got me fired up about it this week was this article, by Glennon, about what they've been up to lately: http://momastery.com/blog/2016/04/27/love-revolution/ The article talks about all the things this group of rag tag writers, who just happen to be loving and brilliant people who decided to affect some positive change in the world, have accomplished to help with the refugee crisis across Europe. Basically, they saw this massive problem, they asked their (wide, wide) networks of people to try and help, and they collected a huge sum of money through small donations from caring people like you and me and they're making a HUGE difference in so many lives. I just can't stress enough how much the work they are doing has inspired me, uplifted me, and filled me up with hope for our world. I'm actually begging you to read her post--if this were an in-person conversation, I would be insistently grabbing your wrists and giving you uncomfortably strong eye contact. Read it. Feel hopeful about the impact we can have on this struggling world. Pretty pretty please with sugar on top.
Phew. Switching gears...
II. The Great River Ragnar Relay
Aaaaahhhhhhhh I'm so excited about this one! So, the Ragnar is a relay race that you complete in a team of twelve, with each runner completing three stretches of the relay that add up to somewhere between 11 and 20 miles (most runners come in at about 15 miles between their three stretches) and lasts from Friday to Saturday, so you run through the night, and your team has giant vans and you drive between spots where one runner's ending point meets another runner's starting point...and...I don't actually know all the details because I've never done it before but I'M DOING IT THIS AUGUST. A friend from high school posted on facebook that they needed more team members and I immediately forced her to accept me as one of them. And then, for good measure, I registered for a trail running half marathon at the end of September. Running is happening. Running is good. Running through the night with eleven other crazy people in a giant van (that I hope and assume will have Cheetos in it) is the best. I. Can. Not. Wait.
This weekend I am celebrating another best friend's bachelorette party (for those of you counting along, that's two bachelorette parties and a wedding shower in April). This one is in Madison, my college stomping grounds, so I'll be reliving my undergrad days (except with a valid ID) and having a blast.
Have a wonderful, stupendous, magnificent weekend.
There's a really lovely Matt Nathanson song that played in my head over and over again in my early college years called Little Victories. I love this song because it's just the reminder I need when I feel like I'm drowning in life: hold on to the little victories. Adulting getting you down? Little victories, my friend. My little victories to start off this week are tiny spots of beauty around my home: I finally got around to hanging a mirror that I really love in our bedroom, and some potted plants in these sweet little enameled buckets above our kitchen window, and the cutest teensy orchid added the perfect touch to our bathroom, which desperately needed something green. And today is a rainy Monday, which is the perfect kind for getting things done, even if the to-do list is a mile long. And Chewy's soft, wet dog nose is perpetually in my face/on my lap/wiggling around my kneecaps as I walk in the door, no matter what else is happening. Little victories.
This time, I'll be sailing
No more bailing boats for me
I'll be out there on the sea
Just my confidence and me
And I'll be awful sometimes
Weakened to my knees
But I'll learn to get by
On little victories
This time, I'll have no fear
I'll be standing strong and tall
Turn my back towards them all
And I'll be awful sometimes
Weakened to my knees
And I'll learn to get by
On the little victories
And if the world decides to catch up with me
Still little victories
You guys, yesterday when I was driving home from work I got a call from an 800 number, and when I answered it an automated message said "Hello, we are calling with an important reminder for [my full name]" and then the message cut out. WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO BE REMINDED OF?? Am I missing a terribly important appointment? Am I late for a very important date? Honestly, I may never know.
It's Friday again! This week went pretty quickly for me, and this weekend is packed with seeing friends and throwing another bridal shower. Things keeping me fueled up this week include: coconut cream, warm weather, and fast, fun workouts.
I. Coconut Cream
Coconut has really grown on me. When I did the Whole 30 last year and tried adding coconut to things where I would usually use dairy, I was displeased. Not a fan. But it's sort of done a slow creep and gotten under my skin. On Friday last week I was intensely craving some creamy, thick, fatty coconut cream, so I grabbed a few cans at Trader Joe's and added some to my green smoothie. YUM. I threw the extra in a mason jar in the fridge and have been eating it all week...in smoothies, scooped over fresh berries, in spoonfuls by itself. Probably not an addition I'll make to my everyday routine (not a low calorie food, coconut cream) but I figured if I was craving it then maybe I needed a little extra fat.
II. Warm Weather
So, it's raining in Minneapolis right now and has been for the last few days, but last weekend and earlier this week we got a little taste of summer and I LOVED it. On top of the warmer temperatures, the sun is rising earlier and setting later, which does wonders for my mood. I saw these little turtles sunning themselves on a walk on Monday and they made my heart so happy. Look at them! All lined up on a log like Yertle the Turtle! (Ok, I just googled it, and yertle actually had stacks of turtles. But still. LOOK at them!)
III. Fast and Fun Workouts
Now that I'm not logging high mileage for an upcoming race, and my knee is healed up enough to do some shorter workouts, I'm having fun with some quick and high-energy exercises to get back in the game. This hill is at a park a mile from my house, and my new favorite game is running to the hill and then doing hill circuits where I spring the hill and jog back down on a looped path that makes sort of a semi-circle around the two ends of the hill. When I'm done, I run home. I recognize that you can't see the slope all that well in this picture, but it definitely does the job.
The hill/path loop is just over .2 miles, so 5 hill sprints plus the run there and back is a little over 3 miles, and 10 hill sprints comes out to a little over 4 miles. Dan wants to take Kelly on this run on Saturday morning--that's either going to be a lot of fun or a huge disaster. Odds feel pretty evenly split.
Nom nom nom I love shrimp. This meal is spicy and warm and filling and satisfying and shrimpy. And, served over zucchini noodles (zoodles, if you're hip like that) it's got tons of vegetables and it's low carb and paleo. And it's fast! We ate this for dinner tonight and then did a hill workout (yesterday I had to settle for the treadmill because it was so rainy, but there was a long enough break in the rain today that we could run to a park nearby and do some hills). Dan was a champ and ran with me, even though he hates evening workouts. The knee held up for three miles (one of which was hill loops) so I'm very happy about that! Things are lookin' up.
Paleo Shrimp Fra Diavolo
1 pound of shrimp, thawed, peeled and deveined (I started with frozen raw shrimp, but you could also use pre-cooked)
1 small white or yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
About 1.5 tbs minced garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes
1-2 tsp dried crushed red pepper (to taste--see instructions below)
About 1 tbs lemon juice
2 medium zucchini (for zoodles)
1. Finely dice your onion and red bell pepper. Disclaimer: traditional shrimp fra diavolo does not use bell pepper, but my family loves them and I think the sweetness is great in this recipe. But, if you're a purist, you can leave it out (and you should also probably find a different food blogger to follow. I can make some good recommendations.) I also don't have the best knife skills, but I find it makes my food more rustic and homey to have differently-sized pieces. So there.
2. Pour about 1/3 of a cup of olive oil into a deep skillet and throw in your diced onion, red pepper, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes. I use 1 tsp of red pepper flakes in this recipe and it definitely has some kick to it, but it's not like "did I do something to piss off the chef?" spicy. If you're a native Minnesotan and think ketchup is spicy, try half a teaspoon. If you really like spicy stuff, go for two. Give everything a good stir and sautee over medium heat until your onions are translucent.
3. Add your thawed shrimp to the pan. If you're starting with raw shrimp, sautee over medium heat until the shrimp are pink and no longer translucent. If your shrimp are already cooked, just give them a good stir to coat with olive oil and your delicious onion/garlic/pepper mixture and move on to step 4.
4. Add your can of diced tomatoes to the pan and let the whole pan come to a simmer. I like to add about a tablespoon of lemon juice at the beginning of the simmer process because I think it brightens up the flavor a little bit. Leave it simmering while you spiralize your zucchini to make your zoodles (or, if you're a regular noodle eater, prepare your favorite noodles).
5. Add some olive oil or avocado oil to another frying pan and add your zoodles. Toss the raw zoodles in the oil to coat, and turn the heat up to medium-high for three or four minutes, stirring once or twice. These don't take long to cook (you don't want them to get mushy, so don't let them go for more than a few minutes, but I'm not a fan of the raw texture. If you are, feel free to use them raw.)
6. Once your zoodles are done cooking and your shrimp mixture has been simmering for about ten minutes, plate your zoodles and spoon a generous amount of shrimp mixture over the top. If you eat cheese, this is delicious garnished with a little parmesan (not paleo, but yummy).
So, I did not run the half marathon. But I was there to cheer for Dan, and I picked up my packet because I was grabbing his...and I happened to put on my running shoes...and I was this close to just jumping in the starting queue with him because, what's the worst that could happen? But I have a really great husband who was like "Yeah, don't do that. That's a bad idea. I mean, you can if you want to. But you shouldn't." And he was very right--I didn't, and I shouldn't have, and it was the right choice. Because the worst that could happen was total devastation of my knee that then wouldn't function correctly for an undetermined amount of time. But the great thing that happened was that I got to cheer for Dan, which was so fun. He did an amazing job, and I got to wander around St. Cloud while I waited for him to finish. Did you know that St. Cloud is beautiful? I didn't. Just look at her:
So, on Friday I wrote about how I was sad to be missing the race but excited to look forward to other fitness goals and get excited about what was coming next. But you know what happened between my week of travel and my week of realizing I couldn't run the half marathon? My eating really slipped, and my exercise fell off, and I found myself feeling bloated and uncomfortable and just all around crappy. And then today, I decided to do some strength training after dinner and it quickly became obvious that the strength and conditioning I'd worked hard to build for months has essentially disappeared in the space of about twelve days. I was doing a set of burpees and on the ninth one, when I went to jump my feet from the plank position back up to my hands, I didn't have quite enough power in my jump and my knees and toes hit the floor (which HURT) and I just sort of rolled on to my back like a sad turtle, swearing all of the swear words.
I know from my years as an athlete (and as an independently active person) that it is a much faster and easier process to lose strength and conditioning than it is to build it. But even though I know that, it is so hard and so disheartening to find yourself at the bottom of a hill that you could swear you just climbed. And it's a vicious cycle--feeling frustrated that you've lost the progress you fought hard to gain makes you want to give up altogether (and sit on the couch eating a big bowl of cereal). And eating poorly just makes me want to eat worse. When I don't feel great (because I've been eating crap) I crave sugar and other simple carbs, and if I eat them I feel even crappier...which makes me crave more sugar. Unfortunately, because it's not fun, the only real way to get out of that cycle is to recommit to exercise and healthy eating, and start again from the beginning. That's pretty excruciating, but I think it helps to know that it's not a unique experience to feel frustrated with setbacks, and to be tempted to just give it up because you've already "ruined" what you were working on, anyway. Everybody feels that way. I feel that way today.
But tomorrow, I'm going to wake up early and go run some hills, because I know now what my body feels like when it's healthy, and that feeling is worth the discomfort of the winded, weak, getting-back-on-the-horse workouts (and the "no brain, you may not have any more sugar, please enjoy this green salad instead" internal dialogue). Remind me I said that tomorrow, ok? Thanks.
Hi. It’s Friday! We’re going to get right into Fueled Up Friday in just a second, but I have to start with some news I’m pretty bummed about. Remember how last week I was raving about Tiger Balm because I hurt my knee on an 11-mile run the previous weekend? Well, I was really hoping that injury was going to get in line and cooperate for the half marathon I am supposed to be running tomorrow, but after diligently icing and Tiger-Balm-ing and using the elliptical and the bike so that my knee could get some rest, I went out for a run on Wednesday and had to cut it short about two miles in. Which means there’s no chance I’m going to be able to run the half on Saturday, and that is very sad. Not like, real problem sad—no one is starving or homeless, and my knee totally will heal, but I’m bummed that I don’t get to run the race after logging all those training miles. There will be other races. But there will not be this race. So, that disappointment aside, here are the things that are keeping me fueled up this week: our new fence, making new fitness goals for the summer, and This American Life.
1. Our magical new fence
Disclaimer: I'm aware that what I'm about to say will sound very privileged. It could be hashtagged with lots of offensive-but-accurate descriptors. But it's true. Here it is: I love being able to pay for services that are completed by other people before I arrive home from work. Case in point: on Tuesday this week I left for work and I had no fence, and when I arrived home from work I had a completed, beautiful fence. My appreciation for the magical fence men is endless (they…probably like that they’re appreciated, but like more that I’ve mailed them a check for their work). Dan and I did not get in a fight about the proper way to build the fence. I did not lose years off my life out of frustration over building the fence. Chewy is SO HAPPY. He’s been running laps around our yard with his tongue just hangin’ out the side of his mouth, having the best time that a dog can have. He’s also really interested in finding out how far he can stick his face into the fence, so I’m curious how long that experiment can go on before he gets stuck. I think the over-under is about four days, so we'll know soon. Also, our next door neighbors have cats that pride themselves on sitting just far enough away that Chewy can see them but not reach them, and slowly flicking their tails back and forth until he loses his damn mind trying to reach them, but he can’t. Now? They live on the solid side of the fence. No one can see you, cats. Take that.
2. Making new fitness goals
So, now that the half marathon training is behind me, I’m thinking about what comes next. I have a lot of ideas about what I want that to be, but mostly I think I want to shift my focus to heavier weight training and continuing to log several shorter runs per week. I really want to work on strength training and high intensity interval training to see how much muscle I can build, but I also really want to keep logging running miles because I want to hit my thousand kilometers in 2016.
know I talked about this once before, but the You vs. Year challenge is something I signed up for after about seven seconds of thought on my Map My Run app—the challenge is to run 1000km in 2016, which is actually kind of a lot. Despite having signed on to this goal with absolutely no forethought, I really want to complete the challenge. Which means I need to run about 13 miles a week for the rest of the year. I think this summer I’m going to focus on logging 2-3 shorter runs per week and really working on my speed, and then maybe late summer/early fall I’ll run another half marathon and try to break two hours. Looking forward to goals for the next few months is definitely cheering me up about missing this half—stay tuned to see where things go from here (hopefully not just to the couch. Really crossing my fingers.) One encouraging development, despite the disappointing knee injury, is that I ran the first mile of my run at 8:11 on Wednesday…even though I had to quit that run a mile later, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to improve my mile splits as the summer goes on.
3. This American Life
This American Life really deserves its own entire post, but I’ve listened to so many episodes this week that it’s just going to go on this list. You guys. This American Life is THE BOMB. I actually used to deeply hate this podcast and ridicule my friends for being nerdy when they listened to it (<---any time that’s the case you can almost set your clock to my total change in opinion, because I love all things nerdy. I don’t know why I didn’t catch that flaw in my hatred for TAL earlier, but sometimes I’m pretty dense.) So, This American Life. If you’re not already listening, I have great news for you: this podcast is available to you for free, and will periodically deliver one hour of thought-provoking, funny, and smart content that you can listen to while you’re driving, or exercising, or sitting on the couch (…or sitting at your desk….no, of course I don’t do that. Why do you ask?) The podcast covers a different theme every week, and includes 1-3 stories that relate to that theme.
For example, the most recent episode on my phone is called “For Your Reconsideration” and the description is: “The older and wiser we get, the more bewildering our past decisions can seem. This week, people revisit those decisions – and we revisit a story we aired a year ago with new, fascinating updates about a groundbreaking study that turned out to be false.” The story is about a study that looks at how canvassers can change voters’ opinions by simply speaking with them for about twenty minutes, how those changes are effectively made, and what those transformative experiences look like. I listened to This American Life on many of my plane rides last week (six flights in seven days left plenty of time for that) and it really just reignited my passion for Ira Glass and his genius. (Ira Glass is the host of the show, FYI.) If you ARE already listening to This American Life, high five. Let’s talk about it.
Have an excellent weekend, you guys. Love you the most.
I feel like it’s been weeks since I posted a recipe, but I’m breaking that streak with a really good one! This recipe is savory, and tangy, and just a little bit sweet. I love it very much. Plus, it’s Whole 30 compliant and paleo-approved. All it does is win. I served the chicken over some Yukon Gold potatoes that I pan-fried and mixed in hunks of steamed sweet potato, which was delicious, but you could also serve over spaghetti squash, or even on a salad with the sauce as a dressing, or just by itself.
Sweet and Savory Balsamic Tomato Chicken
Your chicken of choice, raw (I used 5 skin-on chicken drumsticks, this would also be great with bone-in or boneless thighs, which is what we thought we were buying when we bought the drumsticks instead, or even chicken breast)
½ cup white or yellow onion, diced
3 tbs dried onion flakes (optional, but they really bring out that sweet onion-y flavor)
3 tbs minced garlic
One can diced tomatoes
Rosemary (fresh if you have it, dried if you don’t)
Olive oil (or avocado oil)
Potatoes (white or sweet or both) or Spaghetti Squash, or noodles or rice if you’re a grain-eater
4. Turn your chicken and brown for three or four minutes on the other side.
5. Once your chicken is nicely browned (it won’t be cooked through—don’t worry, that’s coming) pour your balsamic vinegar over the chicken and let it reduce for about four minutes. It will bubble a lot and it might smell not awesome, but do not lose faith.
6. Once your vinegar has reduced by about half, pour your can of tomatoes over the chicken and give everything a good stir. Sprinkle your rosemary over the top and give it a good sprinkle of sea salt.
7. Put the whole pan into the oven and set a timer for 25 minutes.
8. While the chicken is finishing in the oven, put together whatever you’re going to serve with your chicken. Spaghetti squash would be delicious and easy underneath this chicken (microwave your spaghetti squash for ten minutes and it’s done—see this post for detailed instructions). I went with some fried Yukon Gold potatoes mixed with steamed sweet potatoes (steamed in the microwave—again see previous post link for detailed instructions). The crispy fried potatoes were a really nice compliment to the chicken, and it added some hearty carbs to the meal. I didn’t want to boil my potatoes ahead of time, so I just sliced them thinly and threw them in a frying pan with some avocado oil over medium heat, and then covered the frying pan and added some chicken stock to help them steam and cook through. Then I removed the cover and let the edges get crispy, and it was pretty delicious.
9. If you think of it, turn your chicken once while it’s cooking so both sides get to soak in the saucy goodness. If you don’t think of it, it will be alright.
10. At 25 minutes, pull the pan from the oven and check the chicken for doneness. I really like to use a meat thermometer for this task, because it takes any of the guesswork away. For chicken, you’re looking for 165F in the center of the piece of meat. If it’s not quite there, throw it back in the oven for a few more minutes.
11. When your chicken is done, plate your potatoes and then place a piece of chicken on top of the potatoes and spoon your tomato-balsamic sauce over everything. I served this with a green salad but it would pair well with any green vegetable, or it could be served by itself.
For several weeks, I've been meaning to write a post about personal mission statements. And then, at the conference I attended last week there was a leadership session where the presenter offered up his personal mission statement, and his story, and his heart, and this post has been writing itself in my mind ever since. In law school, I had the honor of taking a class from a profoundly thoughtful and loving man about ethical leadership in Corporate America. Part of that class involved writing a personal mission statement. Months before taking that class, I was a summer associate at the law firm where I would later start my first post-law school job, and a hit song at that time included the lyric "Do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet?"
That line stayed stuck in my mind for most of that summer, and continued to roll around in my thoughts as I returned to school and found myself sitting down at my computer to write my personal mission statement. As the words appeared on the paper, I realized that the lyric really succinctly stated what I wanted to say: I want to make myself a blessing to everyone I meet. Nearly four years later, that's the goal that I wrote down on my paper at the conference last week, too.
The speaker shared that his mission statement is to show agape love to the whole world. To those who aren't familiar, agape love is a concept that Christians like to talk about as the kind of love God has for humanity--it's a completely full and unconditional love. (In fairness, I think the concept actually comes from the ancient Greeks but if you're hearing about agape these days chances are good you're sitting in a Protestant church.) Then he shared that shortly after he wrote that mission statement, his child passed away. He talked about hugging the doctor who treated this child and telling him that he did the best he could. He talked about how he had no idea he was going to face that tragedy when he crystallized his mission statement, but on the day he faced that unimaginable hardship he really needed it.
The tricky part about committing to a goal of loving everyone, or making yourself a blessing to everyone, is that it doesn't leave anyone out. If that's really the course to which you're steering your ship, you can't pass over the doctor who didn't save your child's life. I can't say that my goal is to make myself a blessing to everyone I meet if I actually want to be petty and spiteful to people who annoy me, or treat me poorly, or wrong me. That means I have to let go of negativity, and that is much easier said than done. I fail at this goal every single day. But I also try to meet it every day, and I consciously try to make myself a blessing to everyone I meet, in little and in big ways. I help where I can, when I can. I try to show kindness to strangers. I try to show kindness to people that I know but don't like. I try to show kindness to people that I love but am annoyed with. I try. And I will keep trying and trying and failing and succeeding, because that's what being a human is about.
Another quote that hits this nail on the head is by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "To know that even one soul has breathed easier because you have lived: this is to have succeeded." So that's my mission. To make myself a blessing by helping, and showing love, and kindness, and forgiveness, and compassion to everyone I meet. To make other people's lives easier in little and big ways however I can. What's yours?
Do you ever have a thirty-second burst of your life that you wish you could have gotten on tape to share with a thousand of your closest friends? I was standing in the Chicago airport today on my quick layover between Nashville and Minneapolis and I had one of those moments. I was watching the nearby moving walkway, and saw a mother standing by her toddler, with an infant in a stroller in front of her that was just screaming bloody murder (the really gut-wrenching kind of baby wail that makes your throat gravelly just to hear it). The walkway pushed this woman past me, and as she went by I noticed a woman standing behind her, who looked to be six or seven months pregnant, just staring forward with total “oh shit” eyes. Like zoning out in the direction of this screaming baby with a look of sheer terror on her face. It was so delightfully hilarious. Stop the walkway, I want to get off.
So right now I’m home for about fifteen hours between the conference and the bachelorette party—just enough time to write a quick Fueled Up Friday. This week, I’m talking about switching it up, and tiger balm. Ready? Ok.
Switching It Up
This week was a great reminder that changing up my routine is essential to recharging my batteries. Even though I was traveling for work, and the conference wasn’t restful, I am more energized than I’ve been in weeks just because I got to do something new. Stepping away from my normal surroundings and daily routine gives me a chance to reflect, and without fail leaves me feeling more appreciative of my life and happier to return to it. I try to be mindful and grateful on a daily basis, but I really need to get away every few months to really keep perspective and stay energized for my daily routine. I thought a lot about that while I was away this week, and realized I need to be more deliberate about planning a few days of routine-busters every couple of months, even if that just means working from home or taking a long weekend. And if I can get out of town, even better. How else am I going to experience something like this on a Wednesday night?
Last Sunday I experienced my first-ever true running injury. I went out on Saturday night for a different friend’s mini-bachelorette party (lots of celebrating around here) and on Sunday I was feeling a little worse for the wear, but decided to soldier on and run my eleven miles anyway. I actually killed the run—I finished with an average time of just under 9:15 a mile—but a few hours later my knee started feeling really sore. We went to see The Big Short that evening, and by the time we left the theater I was noticeably limping.
I figured out that my quad was too tight and was pulling on a ligament on the inner (medial) side of my knee—it’s nothing major, and it’s feeling somewhat better now, but it’s still sore when I walk a long distance and so far this week running is a no go. So, I’ve been icing and foam rolling and getting to know my new best friend Tiger Balm really well. Rubbing it on my knee seems to help, and it makes me smell like a cinnamon air freshener that you would hang on your rear view mirror if you drove a 1996 Buick. Who doesn’t love that? I’m hoping the Tiger Balm and some more TLC will have my knee in fighting shape for next weekend’s half marathon. Cross your fingers for me! This setback has reinforced that I need to be better about post-running stretching and foam rolling (and probably also that running hungover is just asking for trouble...)
I hope you all have marvelous weekends! I’ll be back next week with some recipes and more normal programming. And, almost certainly, another hangover. Bachelorette parties, you guys. I just can't.
Remember how I said I forgot my wallet when I left for the airport on Monday? Want to hear what I didn’t forget? Here goes: two apples, a banana, four packets of almond butter, a snack baggie of raisins, a bag of Paleonola, a pack of Epic Hunt and Harvest trail mix/jerky, a bag of Seven Sundays gluten free muesli, a bag of pecans, and a handful of Lara Bars. I basically brought the snack aisle of the best grocery store ever in my carry-on. Why did I do that? Well, I had some extra time left over from not packing my wallet, for starters. But also I know that finding decent snacks (that won’t make me nauseous) can be tough at the airport, and I’m going to a conference where I won’t have a say in what’s served for lunch, and having a stash of food that I like and that makes me feel good is going to make this trip much more enjoyable. On that note, here are my top three tips for traveling (or eating out at home) if you’re following a Paleo or Whole 30 diet.
1. Always have an emergency snack nearby. You don’t need to pack every snack ever if you’re not interested in bringing 5 pounds of food with you, but keep a Lara Bar or a package of jerky or a piece of fruit in your purse (or car, or office) so you know you have something handy if you find yourself starving and without decent food options. I always leave a snack in the center console of my car, and most of my bags have a Lara Bar stashed in them. When you’re on the road, most gas stations or convenience stores will at least have a basket of bananas at the checkout—I always buy those when I see them, and stash it away for later if I’m not hungry right away.
2. Look for fish, chicken, or steak options on a restaurant menu, and if those don’t work then look to the salad section. The thing about most restaurant salads is they’re going to have either cheese or croutons, and you can order without those things but then you’re losing some of the calories that would otherwise keep you full. Some restaurants have great salads that will hold you over for more than an hour, but especially if you’re traveling it’s hard to know what you’re getting. If you can find a protein that looks good, you can usually get some sort of vegetable next to it (or a side salad, or at least some kind of potato if nothing else will work). In a pinch, you can get a burger without a bun at nearly every restaurant in America.
3. Eat a big breakfast. Breakfast is the easiest meal to eat out, in my opinion, because you’re basically set so long as you skip the cheese and toast. Omelets are great, big, and filling, breakfast potatoes give me heart eyes, and don’t even get me started on bacon. If I know I’m going to be eating out the rest of the day, or I’m not sure that I’m going to have food options, I’ll try to eat a really big and hearty breakfast so that it doesn’t matter as much if I need to eat lighter for lunch or dinner. One note, though—you can usually get good vegetables in your breakfast, but you usually need to try. Be mindful of looking for an omelet or a scramble with some veggies in it.
I don’t eat strictly paleo when I travel (or ever, really, but especially on the road I eat gluten-free grains like rice or oats). I do still avoid dairy, because that upsets my stomach, and even when I’m eating carefully while traveling my stomach gets upset by all the oils and hidden ingredients in restaurant food. Just like at home, you have to do the best you can and let the rest go, but feeling bloated and nauseous and yucky is even worse when you’re away, so I do focus on eating as well as I can. That said, if there's something awesome and regional that's worth trying when I travel, I absolutely eat it. For me, the calculus is mainly based on how sick it's going to make me--if it's not going to upset my stomach, I'll try it without question. If it's dairy, I'll probably eat it. If it's gluten...I'll probably eat a bite or two and hope that it's fine. Most things aren't worth the pain and nausea that gluten inflicts on me, but I'm never going to go to France and not eat pain au chocolat. I'm just not. Eat the things that you really want to eat, and try to make good choices in other parts of the day that will balance it out and not leave you feeling like a busted can of biscuits when you're supposed to be enjoying your trip.
Anyone have great travel or restaurant tips that I missed?