Posted in Your Story

Adriane—Getting Real About Fitness, Because She Can!

Beat Beethovan with Janet

Adriane and I

At a race in the past year or so, I met Adriane and I love the changes she’s made in her life. Even though she faces obstacles, she does what she can live life well.

I want to share her story with you and also let you know about a free fitness opportunity she has for women in/near the New Holland, PA area. Info at the end of the post.

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Tell us about yourself:

I am Adriane Warren, 33 years old, from Ephrata, PA. I live with my husband John and have a daughter Alana 15, and a step-son Jami 14. I LOVE the outdoors, cooking, photography, anything fitness, and of course spending time with my family. I work as a Medical Assistant at a local family doctor’s office. I have always been fascinated by the science behind the body and love being able to use that in my everyday life.

In 2010 at 31 years old I was diagnosed with 2 slightly herniated discs in my back and spinal stenosis. I also have chronic kidney disease and inflammatory arthritis, but I’m currently taking my life back. I come from a family with many health problems including a mother who is classified as super morbidly obese with hypertension, depression and type II diabetes, and a father who almost died of a chest wall aortic aneurysm at 42 years of age. My father now has a mitral valve replacement, internal defibrillator and pacemaker, and has had a double by-pass. He also suffers from CHF and COPD. Seeing these problems first hand helped with my “wake up call” in realizing I never want to suffer from something that I can control and prevent.

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When did you decide to make some changes to your life and why?

I know the exact date my life changed for the better. It was February 1, 2011. At the time, my life was in a vicious cycle. I would have kidney flare-ups that would cause me to miss days, or even up to a week of work at a time. I’d have nausea, extreme fatigue, headaches, dizziness and would lie in bed for days. Lying around never helped my back issues due to getting extremely stiff, which in turn would flare every joint in my body. Any exercise would make the pain worse but no exercise piled on more pounds.

Finally I had, had enough!

My orthopedic doctor recommended me getting injections in my back to help the pain. I had one injection that did nothing and had made up my mind, that after the second injection I NEEDED to make a change. The second injection again, did nothing, and it was time to put on my big girl panties and do what I needed to do.

Progress for Janet

Adriane Warren – making real changes!

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It’s hard to make changes, how did you do it?

The very first thing I did was try to find something I could use or do that would be relatively quiet since we live on a second floor apartment. I found something called an Air Climber and decided to give it a try. I also purchased a few exercise DVDs. I started working out 6 days a week for about an hour at a time. I would do the air climber for about 15 minutes and then a circuit training exercise DVD for about 30-40 minutes.

I was not willing to go outside and let everyone see me. I worked out in the bedroom which had a small space, MAYBE 6 x 12 feet. I would work-out at the end of the day, some days not finishing up until about 10pm.

A few weeks into working out I decided that I needed to start eating better too. I did a TON of research and decided that I wanted to try the Maker’s Diet, basically a very clean approach to eating. I cut out all white flours, sugars, processed foods, and simple carbs.

The weight literally started dropping off. I felt AWESOME! I had so much energy, slept better, felt better, and stopped getting so many health issues. In all of my yo-yo dieting over the years and trying to keep off weight, there as never a point that I made a physical goal for myself. It had always been about the number on the scale and thinking that that would make me feel better about myself.

Then I read an article in a magazine about training for a 5k. What really got me is that the models they had pictured looked like your everyday woman. They weren’t decked out in high tech running gear, looking all fit and young. I must have read that article and picked up that magazine staring at the pictures at least 40 times.

I finally realized that I’m not going to get ahead without: 
1. Doing something that scares me, and
2. Making a physical goal for myself rather than a weight loss goal.

Mrs. Smith's 5 mile trail race
I decided to revamp the training they had listed and make it go a little longer so I could work my way up slower. At this point, I had already lost about 30lbs. I got the ok from the doctor I work with, who is also an avid runner. He told me that if I do the training, he will come along and run the race. GREAT, I had a goal! I started off doing run/walks and eventually worked my way up to all running. On September 17, 2011 I ran my first 5k.

Knowing that I had a goal to work towards was what I needed to stay on track, versus before when every time I lost weight, I would eventually gain it all back. I started signing up for more races so I would keep going and not let myself get off -track.

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Are there any situations that make it easy for you to slip back into old habits, if so how do you counteract that?

Every day is a struggle. I always say that anyone who tells you, or makes it look easy is lying. It goes by one choice at a time, one day at a time. We all have bad days, and I’m trying to not beat myself up over a few steps back, as long as the majority of steps are forward.

I had shoulder surgery in September, 2012 and that had me go backwards a bit. I ended up gaining back about 13lbs post-surgery and over the holidays. I was unable to run or do much exercising for about 12 weeks, and it was very slow moving after that.

The beginning of this year I put things back into high gear and lost the 13lbs and then some. I HIGHLY recommend taking progress pictures, documenting inches and weight, and looking at them often. The “former me” is what keeps me going. I look at the woman I was, and how far I have come, not only physically, but emotionally and it scares me to go back to that.

Where I was once afraid to move forward, I am now more afraid to go back. I also recommend keeping a journal, or writing blog posts to go back to and read. It’s really fun to go back a year or so and see what I was going through, or thinking at the time.

REAL JOURNEY PICS (2)

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What goals have you reached that you didn’t know if you could?

In total, I went from 230 lbs at 5’5” down to the mid 160’s, losing about 65lbs and over 70 inches. I am down approximately 4 dress sizes, and can even wear a smaller shoe size! I can do daily activities and recreational activities with my family without getting winded or feeling horrible. I am proud that I can now unload about 10 bags of groceries from my car and carry them up a flight of steps like a pro. It is stupid little things like that, that you will soon start to notice when you start getting healthier.

Also I NEVER pictured myself to be a runner! The first 5k was a feat in itself, but after I started training for it, I knew that wasn’t going to be the last, nor was it going to be the hardest thing I would do. I saw a lot of friends having info/pictures up about running mud runs, so I decided to look into things further.

I researched tons of races and decided on the Spartan race series, and signed up for a Spartan Sprint. This is a 5+ mile trail run up and down double black diamond ski slopes with at least 15 different obstacles. The obstacles include jumping over 8 foot walls, crawling in mud under barbed wire, rope climbs, carrying a 20lb sandbag up and down a ¼ mile loop of ski slopes, a small swim, and jumping over fire. I was scared to death yet extremely excited.

I linked up with a group online that is specifically for women who run these races. I got TONS of support from other racers. This was another thing I was lacking in previous weight loss attempts. I had never surrounded myself with like-minded individuals. You NEED to have a great support system of people who understand you and will push you in the right direction.

The day I crossed the finish line of my first Spartan has by far been the biggest accomplishment of my life. I never thought I would see the day that I would reach such an extreme fitness goal.

Barbed Wire

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What goals do you have for yourself in the future?

I have a HUGE bucket-list! Since meeting others in the OCR (obstacle course racing) world I have learned about many other races/events that I want to take place in. I would love to do some higher level Spartan races (longer distances and more obstacles) a half and maybe full marathon, a triathlon, a Goruck or S.E.R.E challenge (a military type team based “race” where the object is just to finish) and lots of trails to conquer in my hiking.

Another HUGE goal of mine is to inspire others. I started Real Fitness, which is a fitness concept to help others. I have a Facebook page, blog, and an accountability group, Real Fitness/Real Accountability.

I am just starting another new concept, Real Fitness/Real Difference, where I would get a group of individuals together who struggle with morbid obesity or physical problems that limit their abilities for hard/high impact exercise. It would be very light work-outs with lots of stretching and a walk afterwards. I eventually want to pay it forward and might ask a small donation for upcoming trainings and all the money would go directly to a health foundation.

I want others to see and realize that it CAN be done. Even with some physical limitations, you will feel better in the end. I also have aspirations to get my personal training certificate and a certificate in Weight loss and Nutrition counseling.

New Real Fitness (2)

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What does a well lived day look like to you? If you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?

Wow, that’s a really loaded question and something I’ve not really thought too much about. For me a great day is spending time outdoors with my family. I don’t have a crazy answer like going sky diving or bungee jumping. Although I have a huge bucket list, I don’t feel the need to get everything accomplished to feel fulfilled. I love my life right now. Sure there are ups and downs, but that’s what life is all about. I absolutely LOVE the beach, so if I knew I was going to die tomorrow, I would tell my family we’re loading up in the car and driving to the beach and or maybe go somewhere tropical since I’ve never been!

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I love how Adriane not only does what she can to help herself, but she also helps others. She does some training and also hosts some “Ladies Night”. She has one coming up on Thursday, May 30th in New Holland, PA. Ladies night is:

Leave the martinis behind and come play with some tires. This will be a FREE 45-60 min training session, including a warm-up. Circuit training type workout using body weight exercises, tires, sledgehammer, sand bags. Don’t let it intimidate you. Come DO WHAT YOU CAN! Remember Real Fitness is about REAL people. Bring water, gloves if you have them (gardening gloves are fine) and lots of determination!

If interested, check out the Ladies Night facebook event page or email Adriane at:
akuenzli@hotmail.com (put Real Fitness in the subject line)

far from not yet

Here’s some final encouraging words from Adriane:

Your body can become a prison if you let it.
Prison is a very hard place to escape.
You need to dig deep, break the chains and sometimes even crawl.
Breaking free is the best feeling in the world and

knowing that I was able to accomplish this is so rewarding.

Posted in Uncategorized

You have to watch this: My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech

Seriously, you have to watch this.
Seriously!
Just do it.
I promise, you won’t regret it.
I’m not kidding, watch it now…

 

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Make sure you catch some of the amazing things he says:

You don’t have to find out you are dying to start living.
Life is beautiful.
You can either sit in your basement and wait or you can get out there and do some crazy stuff.
Go down fighting.
You can stress about dying or you can just relax.

zach-sobiech

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And here is Zach singing Clouds,
a amazing song he wrote
and recorded a few months ago.

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Celebrating while being honest about disappointments

May 20th is the day…
The day my life changed.
The day that normal as I knew it ended.
The day I received injuries over 60% of my body.
The day when I almost died and almost lost my leg.
The day that divided the rest of my life into before and after.

May 20th is the day…
When the impossible happened.
When I began appreciating each day as a gift.
When I began a journey of discovering who I really am.
When I survived an accident I wasn’t expected to survive.
When I began living in the now, instead of in the past or in the future.

 

Living in the tension of celebrating the good that happened,
while being honest about the disappointments I live with.

 

I’m not very detailed about many things in life… but when it comes to remembering dates, I can be super detailed even when I don’t want to be. I remember dates of many important and unimportant things. Jerry has given up trying to come up with an answer when I ask, “Remember what happened on this date 2, 5, 8 or 21 years ago?” He just asks, “What?” Because he knows it could be something significant, like the day we met or it could be something somewhat trivial like a day we moved in the past or the day I first got a kayak.

So naturally I remember the date when accident injuries changed my world. I don’t even try to remember it. It’s simply in my mind each and every year around May 20th. Along with my mind remembering it, I learned from my counselor that every cell in my body probably remembers the traumatic events. It was a relief to learn that because it helped me undersand why each year around May 20th, I feel an influx of emotions… thankful, irritable, reflective, tired, edgy, annoyed, etc.

Thankfully over the years the trauma of the day has decreased, but it hasn’t disappeared like I thought it might. Last year I did the Bob Potts Marathon on the 8th anniversary of the accident, so earlier this year, I found myself debating if I wanted to plan some type of big event this year.

I decided while that was good for last year, I don’t need to do a big thing every year. A low-key day is good also. Plus I wondered (hoped!) if maybe this year the date wouldn’t bother me as much because of the marathon I did last year and because it’s almost a decade now.

It didn’t quite work out that way… while last year’s marathon might have helped me to ‘reclaim’ the day to some degree, it didn’t make it go away. I woke up on the 20th and it’s what I thought of immediately. It’s what was on my mind as I did some book keeping for myself and for my husband’s business. It’s what was on my mind as I ran an errand. Thankfully I had a few hours of distraction during a long lunch with friends, including an out-of-state friend who was in the area, but even during our conversations, it was in the back of my mind.

Living in the tension of celebrating the good that happened 
while being honest about the disappointments I live with.

I had started the day with a morning run/walk in my neighborhood. My left leg ached a little more than normal (not sure why, some days it just complains louder than others) but I was grateful that I could be out there walking and running. I thought about all the paramedics, doctors and other medical personnel who saved my life and helped me recover. And I welled up with gratitude thinking about my family and friends who helped me in countless ways over the past 9 years. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

I also thought about the many great people I’ve met over the past 9 years, especially the ones who face various obstacles of their own, but they keep doing what they can. I’ve been honored to share some of their stories on here.

Though thankful, I also have moments of anger, sadness and disappointment that…
I will spend the rest of my life with pain.
I will always be faced with some limitations.
I will spend the rest of my life with a funky-looking leg.
I will always wonder what life would be like if the accident hadn’t happened.

I thought about the miserable, dark days I had as I adjusted to life with pain, limitations and a deformed leg. I thought about the times I wanted to call a doctor to beg for risky cosmetic surgery on my leg. I thought about the journey of learning that time alone does not heal all wounds. And of the times something unexpected triggered post traumatic stress.

I thought about how I’m more aware of what my body needs and what it doesn’t need. How switching to a plant-based diet has increased my energy and decreased my pain and about the moments when I felt like I could run forever. Also how I now know things like what to give to hospital patients.

Living in the tension of celebrating the good that happened 
while being honest about the disappointments I live with.

I thought about the mindsets I’ve changed because I’ve been willing to think about things that I used to not allow myself to. How I learned what is kind instead of coming across like a jerk when someone’s life changes. About how much more peace I have since I’ve adjusted my mindset to not believing that everything happens for a reason. And how freeing it is to allow the sands of change to flow.

Reflecting, thinking, processing… it’s all a necessary part of the journey.

So in one way it’s an important day for me, because it’s the day that forever changed my life… but in another way, I remind myself that it’s simply a day. A day like every other when I have the power to make a choice to live well by…

doing what I can, with what I have, where I am… because I can!

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As I was writing this, I heard the news about the powerful tornado in Oklahoma which claimed many lives and injured countless others. With my emotions heighten already, it made for a tough evening while making me debate if I even wanted to publish this today. But another thing that I’ve learned is that while another tragedy might give us a new perspective, it doesn’t change the effects of our own traumas. So I will continue to process my own story, while being heartbroken for everyone affected by the tornado.

Posted in Your Story

Rebecca—A 1,000 Mile Journey, Because She Can!

rebecca-profile-2Thanks to the wonderful world of Facebook, I recently met Rebecca online. Rebecca live within an hour’s drive from me near Philadelphia, so hopefully we will meet in person sometime.

Today I want you to meet Rebecca, because she is one of those folks who does what she can, with what she has, where she is… because she can!

Here’s Rebecca’s inspiring story…

 

Janet: Tell us a little about yourself.

Rebecca: I am a teacher, inline skater, cyclist, reader, writer, photographer, traveler, friend, oldest sister, cousin, daughter, or granddaughter — depending on who you ask.  I’m 43 years old and live in Philadelphia where I help run the special education program at a public charter school.   I am also an above-knee amputee walking step-by-step through an unexpected journey.
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When and how did your world change?

On the morning of November 9, 2010, while riding my bicycle to work, I was struck by a garbage truck when it turned into my designated bike lane.   My left leg was crushed by the wheels of the truck, and I suffered severe internal injuries.   I was taken by ambulance to Jefferson Hospital’s Trauma Center.  There, an amazing group of trauma surgeons saved my life, but they had to amputate my left leg to do so.

Dec. 17. 2010. Ready to be discharged from the hospital with my brothers Andy and Mark

With her brothers about 5 weeks post-accident… December 17, 2010

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What was your recovery like… physical, emotional and/or mental? 

Prior to the accident, I bike commuted for 5 years.  I skated with an inline skate club for 15 years.  I led an active life that included working full time, socializing with friends, and traveling.  I was always healthy.  I rarely missed a day of work.

During the long recovery after the accident, I found myself in unchartered territory.  There were many set-backs, including infection and abdominal complications.  Over 2 years, I was hospitalized 7 times and had 15 surgeries.  The acute pain and phantom limb pain were at times difficult to bear.  I struggled with nightmares and flashbacks of the accident.  Being sedentary and dependent on others was a big adjustment since I’d been so active and independent before.

But I was lucky in more ways than I can count.  I’d been wearing a bike helmet and sustained no head injury in the accident.  From the very beginning, I received first-rate medical treatment and rehabilitation.  When my leg was healed enough, I was fitted with a state-of-the-art prosthesis and received excellent prosthetic training.

Early on, my aunt and uncle gave me a necklace inscribed with the Confucius quoteThe journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  As I recovered, I decided to set a goal of walking 1000 miles on my prosthesis.  Each mile marker served as a way to measure progress and help me digest all that had happened.  I documented the journey via my blog: A Thousand Miles.

Throughout this experience, I’ve been supported by family, friends, and professionals who never gave up or let me feel alone.  Even today, 2 ½ years later, they continue to encourage me every step of the way.

Mile 1 with my brother Mark and Jack

The first mile of a 1,000 – with her brother Mark and Jack.

I like hearing what makes people do what they can… was there a defining moment that inspired you to push your limits or was it a slow realization of seeing what you are capable of? 

When I met my prosthetist Tim for the first time, he said, “I’m not going to tell you what you can’t do.  You tell me what you want to do, and I’m going to help you get there.”  I was sold!   I told him I needed a leg I could SKATE on.

My friend Susan helps me relearn to skate

Her friend Susan helps her relearn to skate

But there hasn’t really been one defining moment in this journey.  Rather it’s been a process that’s unfolded day by day, mile by mile.  The slogan of my rehab hospital is BELIEVE.  And it’s those types of messages that guide me forward.  Whenever I have doubts about my own abilities, I look to those around me for reassurance.

For example, I wanted to try to ride my bike again, but after the accident I was skittish and leery.  I was afraid that getting back on a bike – the very act of pedaling – might make me relive the accident like I did so many nights in the beginning of my recovery.  My physical therapist Deb was determined to teach me to ride.  She said, “It’s ok if you don’t want to bike again, but you should know that you can.  It should be your CHOICE.”

So my therapy team puzzled out how to keep my prosthetic foot on the pedal, and we practiced session after session in the basement of the rehab gym.  Finally, on March 30, 2013, almost 2 ½ years after the accident, I rode my bike away from that intersection where I’d been hit.  It was my official 1000th Mile!

There are a thousand stories like this.  Throughout my recovery, I’ve met so many people who’ve pushed themselves to new heights.  And all along, I’ve been embraced by a team that enables me to test my own limits and see what I’m really capable of achieving.

Mile 1000

‘Leaving her foot’…

Mile 1000 bike ride

Then biking away from the accident location –   the 1,000th mile

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What do you do that others are surprised you do? 

I paint the toenails of my prosthesis!

Although it seems like a small detail, people are always surprised when they see me with painted toenails.  I just tell them, “I gotta keep the main thing, the main thing!”

That first summer, I asked my prosthetist if I’d be able to walk in sandals.  He showed me how to use strips of Velcro to stick my prosthetic foot to the sandal.  When I got home, I just had to give myself a pedicure!

But really, it’s part of a larger picture.  I have an optimistic and bright outlook on life.  I need to put my best foot forward – even with a body part that resembles a robot!  It’s just one more way I try to keep my life “normal.”

Sportin sandals

Putting her best foot forward!

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In what ways do the obstacles you face affect your daily life that others might not be aware of?

With jeans on, you might not be able to tell I wear a prosthesis.   With lots of therapy, I’ve learned to walk with a natural gait and navigate most types of terrain.  But the paradox of walking better is that people FORGET.

They forget that I have to concentrate when I cross a street or go down a hill.  They don’t realize how my independence is limited by weather conditions – snow, ice, or wind – that make walking on a prosthesis difficult, if not impossible.

Also, I can’t wear my prosthesis 24/7.  I take it off every night and can’t wear it when I have skin irritations.  Without it, I need crutches and adaptive equipment.  I’m less confident and able.    And I’m much more vulnerable, especially in emergency situations such as illness, fire alarms, or power outages.
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What goals have you reached that you didn’t know if you could?

I certainly never imagined I’d be able to teach people about prosthetics or mentor other amputees.  I’m pleased to say that I’m currently doing both.  I’ve had the opportunity to share my knowledge with elementary and middle school students, as well as with classes of PT students at local universities.

I also volunteer at the rehab hospital where I was a patient.   I love meeting new amputees who are just beginning this journey.  I hope that my experiences can help them weather the ups and downs of their own recovery, and in some way, inspire them to reach their own goals.

Mile 160 with my surgeons

Mile 160 with her surgeons

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What goals do you have for yourself in the future?

I’d like to take more steps forward, of course.  To continue volunteering and give back to the organizations that have given me so much.  To promote bicycle and motorist safety in order to reduce future accidents and injuries like my own.

I’d also like to pursue many of the life goals I had before the accident.  Physical activity, socializing, and travel are still difficult for many reasons.  Ultimately, I’d like to walk into a future that interweaves my old life with my new one.
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rebecca rock climbing

Reaching for new heights!

 

What does a well-lived day look like to you… or in other words, if you knew you were dying tomorrow, what would you do today?

Sometimes I wonder what I would have done differently on November 8, 2010, if I knew what was going to happen the very next morning.  This question reminds me of that.

In my life now, every day is a well-lived day.  I’m not always as comfortable as I like.  I don’t have as much energy as I used to have.  And I’m not happy every minute.  But I’m full of passion and creativity that used to get brushed aside in the daily hustle.  My relationships are genuine and deep.  I prioritize and engage in activities that have meaning.

If you’d asked me 3 years ago where I’d be today, this is certainly not the place.   But taking this journey has taught me to live life fully, in way I never had before.

I wake up each morning knowing ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. And often, it does!

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Inspiring… right? 

Read more about Rebecca’s 1,000 mile journey—from the day of her first blog post Go
to the day she completed the 1,000th mile, A Beautiful Day.
You can also connect with her at A Thousand Miles on Facebook.

Rebecca, thanks for sharing your story with my readers.
Bike, climb, roll, walk on… because you can!

 

Tuesday’s Treat — Avocado, Vegetable & Feta Wrap

For a time after I quit eating meat in January 2010, I rarely ate a sandwich or a wrap, because it seemed like they were too empty without meat. Thankfully avocados have become more available in the past few years, and they are a perfect protein-packed option. Plus while protein in meat is difficult for most people to digest, avocado protein is easily absorbed because avocadoes also contain fiber.

A few days ago, I created this avocado, vegetable, and feta wrap for lunch… and I’ve had one everyday for lunch since then. Delicious!

avocado, vege & feta wrap

More and more studies are showing how eating more vinegar, especially balsamic vinegar, is beneficial in various ways (helps decrease pain, provides energy, boasts immune systems, and reduces cholesterol level) so I drizzle it on many of my dishes. For added flavor you could drizzle some of your favorite salad dressing on it.

And obviously, you could use any vegetables your heart (and taste buds) desire.

veggie wrap 1

gather, dice, chop and assemble…

veggie wrap 3

roll… and enjoy!

And here’s info to help you select the perfect avocado.

Avocado

From Hass Avocado at AvocadoCentral.com

 What’s a favorite lunch of yours?