The Whole Damn Thing II: The 5 Day Plan

Today was a long day, that’s for certain, but the little sunlight that managed to peek between the snowstorms made it all worth it. I can’t begin to express how desperate I am for a little boost of vitamin D, but since that looks like it’s not totally here to stay, I’m going to boost the best way I know how: the fuel + sweat 5 day plan.

fuel sweat grow: the whole damn thing

In January we launched The Whole Damn Thing with our Charlottesville MADabolic community and had upwards of 90 awesome friends participate.  We’re not particular about what your preferred path is, but generally speaking our group did either Paleo, Whole 30, or 28toLife, and said buh-bye to processed foods, refined sugars, and in most cases also alcohol for a full month.  It’s definitely a commitment, but with so much support it passed much faster than I think we all thought.

Now, a month after completion, I’m ready for a different commitment – in the form of a 5-day plan – to keep the lifestyle strong, and my energy boosted, but without such strict restrictions and the ability to let loose on the weekends just enough to explore all of our local offerings.

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Like some of the clean eating plans out there that base themselves on points or rewards, this allows some ‘cheat-ish’ days where strict eating isn’t the focus.  The focus here is on keeping the foundation strong the majority of the time, to maintain a strong and healthy balance.  Personally, prepping on Sunday and going straight through until thursday night with clean home cooking is my preferred mode, allowing Friday and Saturday for going out and living a little harder.  Outside of the natural social flows that support this schedule, I tend to be more active on the weekends when time isn’t quite as difficult to come by.

So, want to know when we’re kicking this off?  Sunday if you live in my house, but Sunday March 22nd, 4pm, at MADabolic if you want to get in on The Whole Damn Potluck, round II.  

The last potluck was amazing and there are only a few rules:

1. Bring a copy of your recipe

2. list what plan it is compliant to (paleo, whole 30, 28tolife…vegan…whatever)

3. bring serving utensils for your dish, please!

4. join the Facebook group and get in on the conversation/meal posting (okay, so it’s not really mandatory, and it’s a private group so your other friends won’t know you’re ‘one of those people.’)

5 Commitments for Balance + Productivity

It’s Sunday night, and once again as we stand at the close of this week and the start of the next, I keep coming back to the same thought: the weekends are too short.

fuel sweat grow: weekend days

It’s not that I necessarily need more rest — I’m not sure if the weekends are actually better for that these days.  My focus has been on trying to do less constant gear shifting,  and getting into a better rhythm of taking things to completion without a constant emphasis on multi-tasking.

It sounds somewhat like an oxymoron, but what I’m really going for is organized and balanced structure.  Organization in my environment, structure in my schedule, and a combination of the two when it comes to my calendars and work streams.  Time blocking is my best friend, and OneNote is my deepest passion — the only thing that I’ve been putting a little on the back burner is the food part.

It’s really not common for me to ever cook anything that isn’t Paleo, whole30, or 28toLife friendly because I’m just so used to it by now that I don’t really even know what I would cook otherwise.  What I’ve been slacking a little on lately is meal prep and planning, keeping things interesting and not monotonous, as well as doing actual at-home cooking.  The emphasis on restaurants and my red wine security blanket to get through these last four weeks of winter brutality has thrown me and my system off a little — so it’s time to re-organize, re-structure, and re-energize ALL the aspects of my life(style) and not just the work pieces.

So here are 5 things I’m doing on Monday to kick off the week:

1.  Email Organization. By the end of the week my email is usually out of control, so it’s helpful to start off monday morning not only clearing out the lingering unread messages, but also following up on anything that may not have been urgent at the moment but needs to be actioned.

2. Create a list of 5 action items to tackle each day before the first meeting of each day.  They can all be small milestones towards a bigger task, or completely unrelated, but I always like to start with the things that I either keep putting off or struggle to remember once I get caught up in the day.

3. Set a sweat schedule.  My daily schedule doesn’t always appear conducive to a regular fitness schedule, but my lifestyle is intertwined with it, so taking the time to be intentional not only with my schedule, but also the balance, brings me both sanity and a structure I can work around.

4. Plan meals out + go to the store.  I usually do this on Sundays and spend the afternoon prepping a number of different meals for the week, but with the craziness that has been filling up my weekend days lately, this can sometimes fall onto a Monday. And that’s exactly what’s happening this week.  I’ve got a little ‘whole damn thing’ spin-off brewing inside my head, so stay tuned for those updates coming soon, and as always, please join me.

5. Commit to down time.  This is everything right here — it’s the thing that constantly gets compromised or squeezed out, and it’s the most important part of the whole.  When I’m not zoned in on getting something done, or hyper conscious of my every-loving and constantly growing to-do list, every thing seems to become more clear.  When I slow down my mind is able to wander, creativity is heightened, and ideas generate at a faster and more connected way than normal.  It’s a 2015 priority for me, and it certainly deserves it’s space in my week.

So here’s to the start of this week, of March, and the hopeful ascent in temperatures and vitamin D. It all has to circle back at some point.

Getting Toasty on Core Branding

There are just some days when it all happens; days when a bunch of things come together to feed the energy back into your work-worn soul.  And that was mostly what today was for me.

fuel sweat grow: b:core methods branding

We’ve definitely not been at a deficit of action over here, but it can be a lot sometimes, and balancing the workload of my full time job with these seemingly full time businesses can sometimes just run my energy a little lean.  It’s a strung out balance at times, but it’s worth it for days like these and the countless days that will benefit from this push in the future.

Last week’s excitement stemmed from the finalization of our basic branding and logo/icon.  It seems so trivial, but for me it’s the most soulful element of our foundation and it was so important to feel connected to it.  Now, here’s where I just goop over our favorite brand designer, Carrie from Pink Toast Ink — she’s seriously awesome.  She was behind the re-branding of MADabolic just prior to our opening in Charlottesville, and just totally captures the essence of what b:core is about.

fuel sweat grow: b:core branding

It’s more than just capturing the colors and a ‘cool’ logo that matches up with the ‘vibe’ we’re going for; it’s about really digging in and communicating out the warmth, the essence, and voice of the brand — and of us.

When Carrie and I first sat down I showed her my pinterest board, and sent her a (rather lengthy) list of descriptors and elements of the brand.  I needed to connect to it personally, to have it extend from my own personal brand in a way that is authentic to me and can translate back into being authentic for the brand and the community we have here.

In my opinion, she nailed it.  I’m so in love with the color scheme, how it ties into our design concepts, and even more so the potential that I see in it for the million things we have planned for the soul of this brand.

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Now that the identity, at the most core level, has been established, it’s finally time to settle in to the fun stuff.  Carrie’s continuing to make things even toastier over there in Pink Toast HQ, and it’s pretty much filling my heart up full.

Since this all happened last week, this week has been about finalizing some of our partnerships, strategic plans, and the final details necessary for the full blown announcement that we’re prepping for.

We Got Stoned Last Week [a resurrected life recap]

So, I love writing.  Even when I’m not in a place to post I’ll frequently spew out a draft and either save it or delete it – it’s cathartic for me.  And then sometimes, I write full posts and completely forget that it ever happened — like I did with the below post that I apparently wrote last week.  I wrote it last Wednesday right after the ER trauma, and right before our training for b:core, and while part of me thought maybe I should hit delete and leave it in the past….I’m going to honor the dear diary moment that it was since it leads directly into my upcoming recap of training, the methodology, and what I’m now referring to as the wonder team because they’re all so freaking amazing.

So here it is….

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Seriously, but not seriously, we got stoned this week — kidney stoned (or Dar did)– and it was not cool.  It was not cool because it’s never cool to get severe pain in your kidneys, or to throw up your whole life in front of your dog, or to have to take a not-so-joy ride in an ambulance because you can’t walk or move.  Those things are mostly not cool for the person going through the actual ‘pain’ process, but it’s also not cool to be the person calling 911, exhausted enough to start wondering if their questions about ebola might actually be relevant to the situation (has Dar been in close contact with animal blood from West Africa recently? I don’t know! Maybe?); or did it just sound too appealing to have a root cause for why the person keeled over next to you seems to believe there is an alien trying to escape their abdomen.  I mean, I guess there are just some things we will never know?

Regardless, Monday night through most of Tuesday is a complete blur, and all of the front loading of work that I had planned kind of evaporated while coping mechanisms took over.  If there was one serious positive about the whole thing it was definitely the reiteration of something that was already pretty understood – we’ve got the best community ever, and our friends are unbelievably awesome.

From quickly picking up classes at MAD to delivering dinner two nights in a row (ehem, Anita) and to the constant check in’s to make sure everything was going smoothly, there was never a lonely moment, and for that I thank you.  I may currently look like a homeless insomniac, but I am chock full of gratitude for all of the sweet people that we are lucky to know.

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Today was the first full day back in life and I’m pretty sure while my body completed some overtime (I had actually worked from 2pm-11pm yesterday to make up for my life evaporation), my brain was still on break for the first couple hours of the day.  I finally started to feel less foggy by 10am, and that is exactly when the flood gates all opened.  One million emails? check.  Three somewhat illogical fire drills? mmhmm.  And of course, there was the anxious yet exciting status reports on the next business to join the family, so I was back on all-cylindars digging out.

Tomorrow is going to be epic, and the first of several PTO days that could not be more well spent.  It’s foundation building time, and I could not be more excited about completing that stage.  I’ve got so many updates, so much crazy news, and of course some already stored content to publish when I have the green light to share the final pieces of what feels like an incomplete puzzle at the moment.  All in due time I suppose — but patience never was a virtue of mine.

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So, there you have it.  The exhale of some stress, and the inhale of a new experience that has proven to be far better than anything I could have hoped for.  We’re still concealing three big surprises with b:core, but at least the barre piece is out there and our teachers are able to fully realize their own passions, dynamic personal brands, and so much more.

fuel sweat grow: barre training b:core

This is just the beginning, and that’s what makes it so much more fun to get up every day and hop right on the grind.

Catching up on last week: fuel + barre

It’s been a while since I had a spare minute, so updates have been a little sparse, but believe me, good food has not.

Last week kicked off with a trip to the ER when Dar had kidney stones that presented like they might be appendicitis, or what she described as ‘an alien living inside’ of her (good thing that proved to be a misdiagnosis). The week ended (and the new one began) with the most intensive 5 day certification I’ve ever been to with our unbelievable team for the barre portion of our new studio concept in Charlottesville (b:core methods).  We were all trained by Exhale/Core Fusion co-founder Fred DeVito (who basically established Barre in the US with the Lotte Berk Method before creating Core Fusion — you’re welcome America), and it could not have been more exceptional.

fuel sweat grow: b:core core fusion training by exhale

I will be sharing a far more extensive history of the method, updates from the weekend and my recap of the experience in the next week or so, but in short, it was better than I could have hoped for from an truly educational, and functionally sound perspective.  Our teachers were all amazing right from the beginning, not only getting right into teaching like rock stars (seriously, all of them. rock stars) but also in how they embraced and dug into the kinesiology and anatomy sections, which was the most important part to Dar and I. Everyone got two manuals, one for the method and class structure (etc.) and a second THICK manual detailing out the ‘why’ behind each nuance, movement, and modification that has been developed and improved in line with physical therapists, professors, and doctors of varying specialties.  Twenty years of expertise, evolution, and technique all wrapped up into 5 long days of intensives.

It’s now four days later and I’m still applying new tidbits not only to how I think about barre on the whole, but also how I think about coaching and performing at MADabolic — and it’s already made a huge difference.

When I haven’t been at this training, at MAD, or you know, working at my day job, we’ve been (of course) working on another pretty exciting collaboration (or three) with some folks locally, and I can’t wait to announce all of them in the next month or so.  Lots of amazing things are about to unleash themselves in Charlottesville, and a few other choice locations.  I guess when it rains it pours, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Through all of the scurrying, training, and building, one thing has remained constant: good food.  We’ve been lucky to have the time and ability to stay in Cville rather than having to travel for training, and through that have had some amazing meals both at home and with friends.

Here are a few clean and awesome meals that helped to keep things in a ‘go’ status:

Grilled Flank Steak Fajita Wraps w/ fresh guacamole, that I believe may have been an offspring of this recipe from Paleo Kitchen, and happened to also be paired with the most amazing mexican cauliflower rice thanks to two of our awesome MAD members.

fuel sweat grow: paleo dinner club

This soup was a hybrid product, existing somewhere between the Whole Food’s Turkey Chili made paleo that Todd and Kiks made a few weeks ago, a general vegetable soup, and a basic dump in of everything left in the fridge.

Here’s what we had: sautéd onion with ground turkey, zucchini and yellow squash, kale, chicken stock, and mushrooms added to the boil.  The only spices added were garlic salt (from the grinder) and black pepper — and that’s all that it needed.

fuel sweat grow: chili soup

Monday night, at the end of our final training day, I decompressed with one of my favorite staple meals; flank steak, calciferous kale and green onion slaw (dressed in lime juice, olive oil + sea salt) with a side of avocado.

fuel sweat grow: sunday night dinner

This is definitely one of my favorite meal combo’s and have had it in several different iterations over the last few weeks, including last night again when we had two of our MADmen over for dinner + development.

fuel sweat grow: steak / salad

This weekend I’m looking forward to laying low, and I actually head to Charlotte on Sunday night for most of next week, but as we all know, a week in my office in charlotte = a full weekend day prepping meals and making sure I’m fully stocked for a week of work life imbalance.

Paleo Eats: Game Day Style

So, one of the hardest things about a real food / clean eating challenge can be the social aspect — especially if you’re not surrounded by people who share a similar lifestyle, or that support what you’re doing.  That’s usually the biggest fail point for anyone looking to make a lifestyle change — being surrounded by people and choices that counter the healthy habits they are trying to form.

The first time Dar and I completed 28toLife we were pretty much alone on our own island.  Friends would want to hang out and fear and panic would set in because we didn’t know how we could possibly make it through an outing where everyone else is eating and drinking whatever they wanted.

fuel sweat grow: all i need is food

The second time we went through the 28 days of garbage-free living was a little easier, and we had far greater understanding and appreciation for the lifestyle and how to find that place of complacency even when out of a controlled environment.  This third official time that we’ve completed the full 28 days was the best of all, not only because we had a pretty secure grasp on how to live in normal-ish society, but mostly because the community that surrounds us was a part of what we were doing, all inspired and motivated with the same healthy sense of purpose, and commitment to living a better cleaner life.  And it was awesome.

It’s February now and the ‘challenge’ is over, but the lifestyle remains, and so does the awesome community that came together over the last 28 days, and this weekend we proved it.  While Saturday brought Dar’s 49th (that’s not a typo) Birthday and a little bit of an off-the-wagon wine and beer indulgence (not to mention the most amazing ‘asparagus’ cake from Maliha Creations).

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Sunday re-directed itself back on track thanks to sleep, recovery, and the continued culinary expertise of Anita (the love behind Maliha Creations). So, instead of having a Sunday afternoon full of food that we just spent a month detoxing from, it seemed only fitting to re-create our favorite treats, paleo style.

Homemade salsa, to ensure no sugar; stuffed peppers (amazing); spaghetti [squash] + meatball nests, and a veggie ‘chip’ plate for scooping guacamole, all helped us kick off the game.

fuel sweat grow: paleo super bowl snacks

fuel sweat grow: paleo super bowl snacks I brought the guacamole deviled eggs (upper left corner above), which are easily my new favorite quick grab snacks to make.

Quick details:

Ingredients:

  • One Dozen Hard Boiled Eggs
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Sea Salt
  • Chili Powder
  • 1/2 LIme (sqeezed)
  •  Garlic Powder

The quick how-to:

  • Shell the eggs
  • Cut the egg in half with a sharp knife
  • [in a small bowl]: Combine egg yolks, avocado, sea salt, chili powder, garlic powder + lime juice
  • Mash all together (with fork or avocado masher)
  • Spoon filling into egg white
  • garnish with a light sprinkling of chili powder

All in all, while the weekend brought back wine and some dessert cheats, it all came back around in the end, and things went (relatively) back on track.  I’m actually so excited to do food prep tomorrow night for the rest of the week that I almost can’t contain it — and I probably won’t.

Time + Trigger Points

You know that saying, ‘where does the time go’? Like a questioning of how time could possibly be evaporating into the ether; mysterious and elusive.  I don’t know if it’s better or worse, but I know exactly where my time is going because it’s all blocked out on my planner between work, to-do’s, meetings, projects, and the inevitable MADness that consumes my week. And I couldn’t live any other way.

I’m front loading this week with everything – sweats, organization, work.  Everything that legitimately needs to get done  from a real life perspective will be happening between now and Thursday morning.  I was slow on registering for MAD this week, so of course I couldn’t get in to the 6am, but luckily was able to snag one of the last spots in the 7am to fully kick off Momentum Month.

fuel sweat grow: Sweat Schedule

The last few weeks have been a complete blur of travel, organization and system completion for the next big thing we have happening around here, and we’re just about at the point of sharing those details with everyone….ALL the details, which is more than what even our new team is aware of.  We just need a few more days to make sure all the details are fully cooked and ready to go, so that’s exactly what we’re working on.  This has been by far the most fun, exciting, and inspiring of all my ventures, and as promised at our 1 year anniversary of MAD, it is the combined product of all of the successes, failures, and learnings from the last 5 years of business owning, operating, buying and selling.  The commitment was to building each one better and smarter than the one before — in both practice and strategy.  And so far, so good.

Since the build is always the hardest part, things have been a little nuttier than normal, and I’m so thankful for the community and support that everyone provided through The Whole Damn Thing.  Seriously, it helped to stay motivated and on track when organization seemed was most challenging and most necessary.  In tandem with that, we had some amazing community vibes happening around here hitting up class at Opal Yoga, Hot Yoga Charlottesville, truPILATES, and  back in the MAD house for a little Yin Yoga/Myofascial Release with Mia Hamza on Saturday.  And some day soon I’ll fill you in on where I’ve been going when I’m NOT in Charlottesville, because that has been the most fun of all.

fuel sweat grow: Myofascial release Yin Yoga

fuel sweat grow: yin yoga myofascial release

We had an awesome crew join for the 2 hour (2.5 if you were really counting) workshop after 4 crazy packed MAD classes, and we most definitely found some release.  For our athletes at MADabolic, and athletes anywhere, it’s so critical to remember that their health is a full circle lifestyle — we’ve covered a ton of the eating part, and in our intervals we cover the strength, cardio, endurance and stabilized training methods, but we can’t forget the nuances of what we still need and often overlook — it’s the strengthening, challenging, and lengthening the smaller and more attention needy muscles that allow us to play big when we want to.

We started with Yin Yoga to warm up our muscles and get a few of the kinks and cobwebs out, and then went right into the education and practice of myofascial release, and finding the trigger points that our bodies crave to have worked out.

fuel sweat grow: Yin Yoga + Myofascial release with Mia Hamza

The hardest thing to adapt to is the very apparent feeling of nausea that can sometimes come out of releasing a point where stress has been building.  The feeling is different for everyone, and so is the trigger.  I’ve always known through my perpetual massage habit that my traps and neck carry tons of stress for me in my life, but what I sometimes forget is just how much of a load lands and stays in my quads.  That’s my most sensitive and trigger rich area, so it requires the most breathing and conscious relaxation (yep, that’s a thing) to get through….always with the hope of not barfing.

While I was just so thrilled to be offering this to the community (and some other stretch options soon to be hitting the plate of our MAD members), there was still the question of how everyone would respond to it.  We’re of course always trying to figure out what our clients need more of, less of, and what additional resources and education we can provide to make sure they’re LEARNING the WHY and not just going through the motions because we told them to.  After a short recovery coffee and some food to keep the machine functioning, I received a text from our awesome friend and client Abby with the following text: ‘I was just able to bend over with my legs relatively straight and touch the ground.  It has literally been forever since I could do that!!!’ which was an awesome testimonial after just one workshop, and really great to know that it’s not just Dar and I who believe in, and benefit from it.

Of course the hope is to make this a habit to have lasting and not just feigning results….so expect to see some more deep, loving, and in the words of Robin, ‘yummy’ stretch sessions happening around MAD – very soon.

So with that all behind me, including this morning’s 7am MAD class, we’re about a third of the way into the ‘get ‘er done’ section of the week.  Here’s to hoping I made enough of a dent in the to-do’s today to prevent any heavy back loading on Wednesday so I can stay on top of where all my time went, and where it’s going from here.

The Whole Damn Lifestyle: Beyond the Trend

Today was day 28.  The final day of the hard push, and just another day further along in sustaining a lifestyle that slowly starts to feel ordinary.  I think the whole point of developing a lifestyle is to create habits that become the standard of ‘normalcy,’ or the standardization of the typical — but that’s not really what we’re going for here.

I don’t think there’s anything ‘typical’ about what our community has accomplished.  The words that come to mind are more like extraordinary…incredible…committed…supportive….and most of all inspiring.  Everyone began this challenge for different reasons and from different places.  The changes to each of our routines has been different, our new routines continue with difference, and our outcomes could not be any less standardized. There’s no single or exact outcome, but it doesn’t matter.  From where we stand now, different is still nothing short of amazing.  I’m so proud of everyone who participated, and everyone who supported this community shift.  The impact has been far larger than we ever could have imagined, and has truly created a lifestyle movement that’s beyond any trendy hype, and simply based in honest results that are changing lives for the healthier.

fuel sweat grow: the whole damn thing

I think if there is one big moral that I’d hope is apparent to everyone who participated, and I want to integrate into the understanding of anyone who didn’t (but is still listening), it’s that it isn’t really about weight loss or even fitting better into clothes.  It’s about giving yourself better odds and living a whole (full) damn life. The rest is just a bonus. The chemicals, sugars, and horrible additives that exist in processed foods aren’t just pushing forward obesity in this country, it’s actually killing us.  It’s killing active, ‘toned,’ people who didn’t realize what it was doing to their body internally and how it was triggering disease and illness.  It’s so easy to throw around the concept of a healthy ‘lifestyle’ these days – and it’s a trend that had lost meaning to me for a while.  It’s easy to preach a healthy lifestyle, to grasp at inclusion and community through vocabulary and hype, but without living it you’re doing yourself a disservice.  You’re a high performance sports care and you’re putting low-octane gas in your tank expecting to win — it doesn’t matter how good you look on the outside, none of that matters if your engine is clogged.  You also aren’t going to be able to go if you don’t put in any gas at all.

It’s too easy in our culture to get calorie and fat obsessed, but that’s the least of our worries.  Cut the crap out of your diet, learn where your foods come from, and clean it up, And if you have any questions, we’ve got about 85 folks who just participated (probably more) in a month of cleaning out our own engines, and it’s looking like it’s going to be an amazing year.  So, let me step off of the soap box for just a moment and re-iterate just how inspired I am by our community and all of the amazing meals, strategies, connections, and support that they brought to the table for this challenge.  I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished, and even more excited at the visible shift I’m seeing define such amazing new lifestyles.   Thank you all for sharing it with me.

MAD minute: the Airport Edition

I knew that if I made my flight this morning it will not be because of luck, or speeding, or the remote proficiencies of the ticket and gate agents at the airport.  I knew that if I made my flight, it will be only because my body is fully  conditioned to break into a forced 1 minute on, 1 minute off, very aggressive sprint (x 4) through the parking garage and terminals of this airport, all while carrying some damn heavy loads.  Suitcase deadlift? Check.  Suicide (or what I would call a long-distance sprint): double check. Both at the same time? Oh yeah, that challenge was accepted.

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Had I known that this morning was going to be such a fools game (of spreading awesome) I would have just gotten up two hours earlier and killed time with a long coffee date with myself in terminal A.  Instead of that, I started my day from a place of complete calm; all my bags were packed and sitting at the door, I had already planned my outfit out, the dogs cooperated with the feeding/medicating timeline I had proposed with slight apprehension.  I had even made time yesterday morning to clean my closet and office into the well organized meccas they had been intended to be.  In short, I was going to not only crush this work trip, but I was also going to crush my anxiety about it by creating complete control in my environment.  Cue the universe’s intervention.
I’m all about the slow build, but apparently that wasn’t an option.  My 90 minute drive to Richmond turned into a 2+ hour ride, chock full of accidents and lane leaders that believe the speed limits themselves are too high (forget pushing it to +5).  When I finally got there I escorted myself to the daily parking garage, only to learn that the 12 remaining parking spaces were also playing a game: hide and seek.  When I finally got into the airport (after sprints #1 and #2), it became especially clear to me that this challenge was not only physical, but also a mental one, questioning compassion and rationale.  I had 5 minutes to get my ticket, make it through security, and get to my gate before the plane would be finished boarding, and the only ticket agent was helping an elderly woman re-book her flight and understand her new travel…and possibly life.  Honestly, universe, an elderly woman? Of course you did.  You can’t get mad at that.
So, I stood in line, as patiently as I can while simultaneously tapping all of my things and twitching. I eventually got my ticket and well wishes from the ticketing staff as sprint #3 commenced to the security gate.  Shoes off, laptop out, take of literally everything that could possibly suggest weapon of drug concealment  and cause a trip back to the end of the line.  Now, I will say that I appreciate the free pass on the personal body search today, but seeing as though I was just about as naked as you can be (thanks to my lululemon uniform of the day) that search would have been extreme to go beyond the 3 second full body scan.
Eventually I made it to the gate as zone 2 was finished boarding. I slowed my pace to cruise right into seat 16A with muffled, yet still heavy, breathing, a fresh coat of morning sweat covering my forehead and little droplets running down my back.  I know that description made you all want to travel with me, and definitely made you want to be squished into a tiny plane with me and limited air supply.   Truly, how could you resist?
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As luck would have it, we got a little delayed on the runway, and I got to repeat the whole exercise again when I changed planes in Charlotte, just barely making it to the final, and nearly excruciating 5+ hour flight to San Francisco, crammed 3 in against a window.  But, I made it.
I made it and I’m now safely where I should be, getting work organized, and waiting for work to officially release so I can have company for dinner, and the first actually good and restful meal of the day.

The Middle Week + Work Travel

This past week, end to end, felt like a 9 or 10 day week.  As I sit now at the end of day 6 of the week, and day 17 of The Whole Damn Thing, I am just so happy to be this far along in the hard push that I knew January was going to be — and even happier that I am still rolling right along.

I was due in to Charlotte from Wednesday – Friday for work, and after a packed Monday and Tuesday trying to get everything ready, Tuesday night Yoga was more than in order.

fuel sweat grow: charlottesville opal yoga

A big group of us MAD ones got caught up in a non-stop Facebook thread that landed us in Opal Yoga at 5:30, prepped and ready for a near 90 minutes of Yin Yoga and myofascial release that was led by Mia in her Rasa Yoga Lab class.  And I needed it more than I even know.

fuel sweat grow: opal yoga charlottesville

Still sore from a killer workout on Sunday, my hamstrings needed some serious love to help recover and release.  While the early moments of the class my ability to make it through seemed a little questionable (my hamstrings were not remotely forgiving), ten minutes in I had generated some good heat, and slowly but surely things began to move a little easier, feel a little better, and ultimately felt amazing.

I needed it.  Not just my sore and stress bearing body, but my mind.  I needed the time away from everything else; the time in my own body, my own breath, and my own mind.  Even if just for a moment

Still in the zen-ish wake of savasana, I got to work in the kitchen cleaning out the rest of the fridge contents with a serious focus on getting meals organized for my trip.

fuel sweat grow: ground beef and roasted sweet potatoes

It was ground beef with zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers made the bulk of the meals, and roasted sweet potatoes with rosemary sea salt on the side.  The whole meal was plated with some leftover cole slaw (green cabbage, red cabbage, carrot, green onion, kale and a light olive oil and sea salt dressing.

fuel sweat grow: The Whole Damn Thing Dinner

While I loved this meal round I, the best part about all of these items and their flavor is that they are even better as leftovers.  Seriously.  When you travel as much as I do, and you’re constantly bringing food in tow, it’s important to plan meals that are good two to three days after the fact.

This particular meal got me through my trip to Charlotte (in several different installments), which was so critical since lunch is the absolute hardest time of day for me when I’m in the office.

By the time I got home, around 8pm on Friday night, I was beyond ready to be back to my Charlottesville routine — which I’ve got three (now two) days to enjoy before heading out to San Francisco for another work trip (though, I’m not fighting against mid 60’s temps, and my favorite city to visit).

Today kicked off with my two favorite Saturday things: MADabolic Cville and an almond milk latte from Milli Joe, and for that I am thankful.

Last week — the dreaded first week back to work after a long holiday break — was nothing short of exactly what I had feared.  Now, it could have been that at work there was a quick ramp up to handle all the million loose ends that carried over from the incomplete to-do’s that time didn’t look kindly upon — it could have been that.  It also could have been the fact that I have a million little things going on outside of work that required time and attention; or the ups and downs of 28toLife / The Whole Damn Thing days 4-11.

Truly, there couldn’t have been more variables in the mix to promote stress and anxiety, and somehow I did manage (albeit probably just barely) to get through the most challenging and critical portion of 28toLife.  While it’s not the first time, and this is not so far from my typical eating/cooking style, I have to say, giving up wine and fully embracing the challenge amidst all the moving life pieces would have been next to impossible without the amazing folks in Cville, MAD, and beyond, participating and pushing me.  This ‘group’ has gone from being a small group of devotees, to a huge group of amazing contributors, food innovators, community builders, and inspirations, who collectively and individually committed to forming these new lifestyle habits together.  It’s so amazing.

Today is day 12; the bad habits have been just about lost, and the good habits have begun to strengthen and grow within the framework they had previously existed.  While I’ve been a little tight on time all around, I’ve still managed to have some great meals, including some awesome ones with friends, and absolutely killer sweats in MAD this week.

I’ll start with Friday — it was a pretty long day of work, and a great + grueling durability interval at MAD, only to be capped off by a sweet night with friends.  Kiks is one of our MAD coaches, Todd is one of Dar’s top boyfriends, and they’re both not only great friends, but the parents of two sweet and sassy little munchkins who we love to hang with — so Friday was exactly that, but with the added bonus of an amazing 28toLife compliant chili and paleo corn(less) cornbread.

fuel sweat grow: paleo chili whole foods

Truly, this was amazing.  It was stock based so there was a super warm almost soupy vibe, and it was exactly what this frigidly cold week needed.  I forget sometimes just how much I love this type of dinner, so it was the perfectly timed reminder.

Saturday morning, which came way too soon, kicked off at MAD – sort of a weekend tradition – with packed 7:30, 8:30 & 9:30 classes.  There’s really nothing like Saturday morning in MAD when all of our weekday friends from different time slots all come together to really define and connect the community end to end (pictured here in my pretty choppy panoramic shot).

fuel sweat grow: MADabolic Cville

Saturday night brought a little heartier of a meal to try and help combat the cold, which has been nothing short of bone chilling these last couple of weeks: cole slaw w/green and red cabbage, carrots, and thinly sliced green onion, alongside two big fat NY Strips.

fuel sweat grow: steak / salad

 

When I tell you I needed that, understand that ‘needed’ is an understatement.  I was so desperately craving red meat that I knew my body was in serious need, and after the intervals at MAD on Friday and Saturday, I had no doubt in my mind that it was a legitimate need.

After dinner Saturday turned in to a fun night with some of our favorite friends and MAD ones, their families, and a couple crazy pups.  Does it get much better than that?  Not usually.

I can’t put into words how happy I am that the first climb with 28toLife is over and it’s clear sailing into week three with a much fresher, healthier, and lighter (just in general feeling) whole self than I came into 2015 with.  I mean, that’s really the point right?  While the whole clean eating thing is detoxing your body from all of the garbage that passed through it and was stored, there’s a certain need to also free yourself of the garbage that you carried with you emotionally, and that kind of lightness, well that can be the best feeling of all.

 

6 Habit Reminders to Help Stay Charged

‘I’m not sure….what day is it again?’  That’s how most of my conversations (and thoughts) went this week.  More than just not being recovered from the holidays, I seem to have adapted to the work Monday, Tuesday, vacation, work friday, off again, holiday schedule — which doesn’t seem to be catching on as an on-going national trend, unfortunately.

We’re going strong, heading in to week 2 of The Whole Damn Thing, and while I’m clear through the sugar quitting phase, I was dragging.  I could tell you what day of the challenge I’m on, but ask me for a day of the week and I’ve got nothing.

On Tuesday, instead of going to the 7am MAD class, I slept in until 7:30.  I worked all day mostly in a fog, and with a considerable pace deficiency.  By 6:30 that night I was fading fast; low on energy, low on general capacity, and I continued with what was my constant assumption for the day — I’m just hungry.   I’m definitely guilty of getting lost in work for hours, and lunch between 11 or 3:30 can be pretty normal for me, so throw in The Whole Damn Thing, and the probability that I would not be eating regularly enough seemed like a definite possibility….only that wasn’t it.

fuel sweat grow: smoothie

It wasn’t until after I had dinner (and then another big post-dinner snack to make extra sure) that I realized that perhaps food wasn’t my issue.  I had eaten — all day really; I ate great meals, clean, balanced, and nourishing meals that are right in line with some of the best I could have managed (including a killer smoothie in the vitamix to power me through the mid-afternoon hour).  But what I didn’t think about, and what can often get buried behind the focus of fueling with food, is making sure I’ve gotten enough rest to even be able to function on good fuel.

I’ve been burning it at both ends.  Even though I took ‘off from work’ for the majority of the last two weeks, that was just off from my full-time job and didn’t really account for the fact that all of the ‘free’ time that comes with vacation was then immediately allotted to the other businesses, strategic planning, and the million little things that I haven’t been able to get to with all of my working and traveling full time.  While this is pretty normal for me and I actually function better on a tight timeline with lots of moving parts, I needed just a little extra recovery time.

With The Whole Damn thing, with MAD, and just life in general, it’s great to have focus and commitment, but forfeiting that recovery time amidst craziness was a major miss for me.  So, I’ve tried to adjust –  where I can.  Here are a few habits I’ve been trying to revive (or in some cases form) to help bring a little balance and rest into my life:

1)   Sit down to eat.  I’ve gotten into the habit of rushing meals, eating at my desk…standing… and taking zero time to just de-load.  Making this change is so critical in really creating a little quality time for my mind to slow down and my body to re-set.

2)  Drink Water.  Seriously, our brains are something like 70% water, right?  We need water, so the 6 hour IV of coffee that I was in the habit of living on had to be adjusted to stop the midday headaches, keep me fully functioning, and most of all have me hydrated enough to truly handle our intervals.

3) No phone in bed.  This is a big one, and something I’ve heard a number of our coaches talking about as well.  From causing a divide in relationships, having late-night chime/text/call wake ups, to even the risks the constant screen time plays on your eye balls and sleep habits, the phone has got to go.

4) Sleep. Seriously, sounds stupid, but I can’t tell you how much I’ve been benefitting from shutting EVERYTHING down before 10 and letting my body rest in full.  It’s too easy for me to keep burning the candle into the middle of the night, unproductively shifting between everything, unable to keep my wheels from turning when I’m trying to fall asleep.

5) 7th hour stretch.  I work predominantly from home — for all my jobs.  While I’m definitely luck that one of them includes owning fitness businesses with unlimited opportunities to sweat, I spend at LEAST 11 hours a day sitting working for my ‘real’ job and trying to crank out a few things each day for  the businesses.  It’s a thankless position, and even though I do try to stand for portions of the work day, there’s nothing quite as necessary as a little childs pose and ad-hoc office-floor stretching to mitigate some of the stress.  Maybe this should really be about breathing…so here you go…

6) Keep Breathing. Pretty self explanatory, and pretty important.  Just do it.

7) Take time for food prep.  Regardless of if you’re eating clean or not (though clean eating DOES help regulate hormones, sleep patterns…stress…) make sure you are taking time to prepare meals, and have good healthy food available when you need it.  There’s nothing worse than literally having nothing good to feed yourself, causing you either to cave and eat processed garbage, or to venture out into the world in a full out hunger-panic — which isn’t safe for anyone.

None of these things are life-altering discoveries, or new information at all…in fact, most of these I used to do as a habit in my younger years when things seemed less serious, but these days I sometimes just need the reminder.  All in all, this week has been laborious, but necessary in getting back on track and re-balancing life.  Today is day 8 for us on the challenge and I have to say, outside of the complete smash back into reality, it’s been a pretty smooth ride.

Potluck: Complete.

The Whole Damn Potluck happened this afternoon at MADabolic Cville, and it was magnificent.

fuel sweat grow: WholeDamnPotluck paleo potluck

For my main dish I brought my favorite spaghetti squash bolognese, made with 2lbs of ground beef (no zucchini, yellow squash or carrots this time) white mushrooms, and a jar of Keswick Gourmet marinara – all to top some fresh spaghetti squash.

fuel sweat grow: meat and mushroom bolognese

Since I was already in a prepping place, I threw together some fresh guacamole with 3 large avocados (diced purple onion is optional, and I omitted this time), chili powder, ground sea salt, and lemon juice, all mashed up.

So, that’s what I brought, and it was fine.  But it pales in comparison to the amazing spread of Whole30, 28toLife, and Paleo foods that the 70+ dinner guests brought to make this first kick off even more amazing than we imagined.

fuel sweat grow: TheWholeDamnThing Paleo Potluck

fuel sweat grow: thewholedamnthing paleo potluck

So, first of all, all of the food was amazing.  Truly amazing, delicious, and incredibly diverse, which was so exciting.  When starting something that feels or presents as ‘restrictive,’ it can be so easy to feel like that means no options, but the potluck proved just the opposite – which was exactly what we were hoping for.  The best part is that we could do this once a week for the next 4 (or 12?) weeks and likely not repeat meals because that’s how much option and diversity really does exist within the parameters.  It’s about getting clean food, and good fueling nutrients into your body, eliminating the garbage — that still leaves a lot of room for flavor, creative food combinations, and yummy yummy goodness.

So what’s the real point? Thank you.  A big huge thank you to all who came out and didn’t just ‘participate’ in the potluck, but actually embraced it with seriously creative thought, intention, and commitment to make it the awesome community event that it was.  That’s the point.  It’s so much easier to approach a challenge with a little extra strength in numbers, and you blew us completely away.  You’re awesome + it’s so on.

We’ve got all the recipes and will be putting them together in a little ‘first potluck’ recipe book, so stay tuned for that tomorrow or Tuesday.  In the meantime, congratulations, you’re really doing The Whole Damn Thing.

fuel sweat grow: the whole damn thing

Shopping the Perimeter + Beginning The Whole Damn Thing

I’m both completely prepared and completely unprepared to return back to my ‘real’ job tomorrow, so I’m pretty happy that we’re closing out the break with the Whole Damn Potluck, so many of my favorite people, and a goal to keep the balance and organization going strong as reality slaps me directly in the face (beginning at the 6am MAD class tomorrow).

While I do typically function best when my schedule is packed and the chaos forces stricter organization and structure in my life, there was something so beautiful about not having my normal work stress dominating my days, allowing me to crank out some major progress on 2015 goals and all of the loose ends that needed to be aligned.  I’m in a great place with all of the moving parts now, so mission accomplished, but it definitely reminded me about the value of the 100% focus when multi-tasking isn’t realistic.  Next vacation I’m hoping to actually take ‘off’….but I’ve already seen what I believe the future to be, and it’s not that, so chest la vie I suppose.

As part of our local Charlottesville crew (rolling 79 strong!) heads into tackling real food and The Whole Damn Thing, I’m going to close out my prep posts with the basic and staple items that are typically found on my grocery list (perimeter shopping + staple isle items), split out by either price or quality to land on the specific lists for either Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.  Small disclaimer here — while it’s not included in the graphic, if you’re only low on meat, I highly suggest making a local stop at JM Stock Provisions on Main, or The Organic Butcher in Main St. Market, because you’re going to get some seriously awesome local quality and attention there.  Stock also has some grocery basics if your need is just basic produce and eggs, so at the very least stop in and say hey – they’re MAD friendly, and you know we love to support our community members and their businesses.

So here goes it:

fuel sweat grow: trader joes grocery list #thewholedamnthing fuel sweat grow: Whole Foods Grocery List #thewholedamnthing

Last night was a night in, wrapping up some details, doing strategic planning/biz development (my favorite, of course) and putting a few more ducks in a row, so cooking was a welcomed interruption.  (To be honest, I also had a 90 minute massage – 2nd this week – at 3pm, so I wasn’t suffering to terribly.  2015 whole wellness is my favorite goal.)

On Friday night I made taco salad – which basically is just ground beef, sautéed with zucchini, yellow squash, and orange/yellow peppers, seasoned with chili powder and ground salt over salad.  It’s one of my favorite quick meals in the world, and if you make enough of the beef (I usually make albs at a time) you’ve got some killer leftovers for the next few days.  Since that is exactly what happened, last night I re-heated some of the leftover beef and used it for early-evening lettuce wraps.

fuel sweat grow: taco salad lettuce wrap

Whole Foods has some pretty great local hydroponic butter lettuce (in the last fridge of the produce section near the Tessemae Salad dressing) that is amazing for lettuce wrapping.  You can also totally make little boats out of romaine stalks, but I was looking for a little wrap action.

fuel sweat grow: taco salad lettuce wrap #thewholedamnthing

I was actually a little hasty in my production and presentation of this tiny little flavor bombs because I had gone slightly longer than I should have between meals…but regardless, they hit the spot and bridged the gap between lunch and dinner.

Dinner consisted of another huge salad, which bug supervised so she could be the first on the scene for any ‘droppings’.

fuel sweat grow: #thewholedamnthing

The rest of dinner was one of my favorites: steak and roasted cauliflower (with a side of zucchini sautéed in coconut oil with Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning.

fuel sweat grow: #thewholedamnthing dinner

All in all it was a pretty solid Saturday — beginning with MADness and ending with kitchen therapy + a solid at-home meal.

Can’t wait to see all the potluck food tonight, share ideas, and taste everything that sounded so good on the group page.  Life in Charlottesville in 2015 it definitely starting off right.

The Rules: Paleo, Potluck + The Whole Damn Thing

It’s prep time my friends.  With The Whole Damn Thing ‘officially’ kicking off on Sunday at MADabolic Cville, it’s time to talk about the rules.

fuel sweat grow: the whole damn thing

1. Whole 30 allows meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.

Key points:
* Protein every meal
* 3 meals per day, pre-workout, post-workout
* Limit fruit to 1 or 2 serving if fat loss is a goal
* two cups of different veggies every meal
* Limit nuts to 1-2 oz if fat loss is a goal
* Beverages are coffee, tea, mineral water. Unsweetened.

[more information available on the website]

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2. 28toLife allows meat, fish, vegetables, low sugar fruits, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, refined sugar, and alcohol.

fuel sweat grow: 28tolife real food freedom

Key points: 

* Food pairing: protein, natural carbohydrate (i.e. vegetables), and healthy fats
* Limit high sugar fruits, opt for lower sugar dark berries
* Sweet potatoes ARE allowed, but in moderation, and preferably within an hour after working out / intense intervals….
* No corn!
* Beverages are coffee, tea, mineral water. Unsweetened.

[books with full details available for sale at MADabolic Cville]

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3. Paleoallows for grass-fed/finished meats, fish/seafood, fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, nuts & seeds, and healthy oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut); it excludes cereal grains, legumes (including peanuts), dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods, salt, refined vegetable oils.

Key points: 

* The goal is to create a diet high in the beneficial nutrients (soluble fiber, antioxidant vitamins, phytochemicals, omega-3 and monounsaturated fats, and low-glycemic carbohydrates) that promote good health.
* The key is in eliminating foods containing nutrients (refined sugars, grains, transaturated fats, salt, high-glycemic carbohydrates, and processed foods) that are key factors in weight gain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
[check out website for more information on the FAQ’s and specifics]

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Again, the common foundation of all of these methods is eliminating all processed foods, and reading all the labels on the basic items (coconut milk, almond butter, marinara, etc) that are allowed but are frequently packed with added sugars and chemicals if you don’t check the ingredients on the label. The basic allowances are lean meats (preferably grass-fed / grass-finished / local), fish/seafood, vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, nuts and healthy oils.

For the Whole Damn Potluck on Sunday, here’s what you need to remember:

– Bring an entree, salad, snack, or treat of your choice, fitting within the nutritional guidelines of at least one of the preferred plans above (please leave a comment on the Facebook Event with what you are bringing so we can keep track in one spot)

– With your entree, include a sign/index card with the following information: Name of Dish, ingredients, which plan it falls under (or ALL), recipe + cooking instructions, and source of recipe (if applicable)

– Since there will likely be leftover food, feel free to bring an extra container or two to take or share leftovers home for an even more solid start to the week.

Most of all, enjoy.  Even if it’s far from your norm, try to enjoy the routine, the organization, and the preparation.  Appreciate the struggles and what they’re telling you about what your body is detoxing from.  Love all the good fuel, and clean nutrition that you’re putting into your body, and (after you’ve passed through the sugar-quitting phase) notice the difference each day in your energy levels, focus, and performance — in whatever it is that you are passionate about.  That’s the whole point — to nourish your body and self up to the same quality/standards that you expect it to return to you day in and day out.  If you fuel yourself with garbage, that’s about what you can expect it to give back to you.

Next up is a list of some of my favorite blogs, recipes and resources for creative (or just plain delicious) meal ideas to shake things up a bit, and also shed some light on how diverse the options really are for creating your favorite flavors without sacrificing quality of food.  There are so many truly amazing resources out there, and work-arounds for all your favorite meals/flavors, so don’t panic yet.fuel sweat grow: 28tolife real food freedom

[source]

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6 Basic Tips for Starting (& Living) a Real Food Lifestyle

Time to say hello to 2015; and hello to the possibility that this will be the best year of your life.  For those of you prepping (with me) for The Whole Damn Thing, it’s almost GO time!  While the prep and the weight of the ‘commitment’ itself can seem pretty intimidating as it approaches, I assure you, it will not be as bad as you think, and you will feel better than you can even imagine.

I’m going to say this now, but it might not mean anything until we’re closing out January (so don’t worry, I’ll repeat it): the real purpose, and the actual value, of this whole challenge has less to do with these next 28-30 days than may be apparent amidst the current build up.  The value is in the lifestyle change; the forming of habits and the conscious choice making of what food we buy, and where we buy it; the self-education that happens within the process; and most importantly, how we choose fuel our bodies to be strong and healthy.

So, lets get started with the basics.

1. Make meal plans, grocery lists, and buy what you need for the week.  Without food ready to cook, life will be tough.

2. Make time to prep in bulk (I typically recommend Sundays, just because that seems to work best for me and my crazy weekday schedule). If you’re planning two meals with spaghetti squash, make it in advance — if you’re using zoodles/spiralized zucchini, get them ready.  Seriously, whatever you can chop, prep, and store, do it in one effort.  You’ll thank yourself later.

Fuel Sweat Grow: Saturday meals, spaghetti squash

3.  If you’re a meat eater, buy it in bulk (or on sale when you can) and freeze it.  Whole Foods will frequently have sales on staple meat items (ground beef and chicken of all varieties).   You’ll save money and time if you take advantage of those opportunities, and you’ll be so thankful when you have backup ready if you’re ever in a pinch.

Fuel Sweat Grow: rib eyes

4.  Plan for leftover mix + match.  Leftover meat added to a simple salad makes for a great on the go meal; roasted cauliflower makes an awesome addition to scrambled eggs; brussel sprout hash is good in/on/with everything (just saying).

fuel

5.  Don’t leave the house without food.  Seriously.  There’s nothing worse than hunger panic, so don’t set yourself up failure.  Prep in advance, take food with you, and keep some emergency snacks with you at all times (nuts, fruit, etc).

6.  Take it one day at a time.  Like anything else all you can really do is deal with what you can control in the moment — everything else is a waste of energy.  Just focus on the plan for ‘today’ and keep the momentum going.

I actually started today (and yesterday if you choose not to count the end-of-2014 celebratory wine), so I can tell you with certainty that the future isn’t so bad.  I did a good amount of shopping, for meat anyhow, at Whole Foods yesterday and got away with making meals with what was left in the fridge, but I’ll be heading out to Trader Joe’s tomorrow to finish up the list, and get the meal plans cranking for the rest of the week.  Again, the work load is heavy on the front end, but it definitely pays off in the long run.

I’m already feeling more accomplished in 2015 so here’s to continuing in that direction!

The Whole Damn Thing: The Yes/NO List + Helpful Tips

We’re just about 5 days out from kicking off the Whole Damn Thing, so it’s time to talk details: yes/no foods, the ‘why’ behind each method, and a few of the starter how-to guides.  So here we go!

This week this really great article came out as a summarized guide to how to eat Paleo, Whole 30, or even less restrictive with a focus on ditching processed foods.  So here’s the quick and dirty guide on what you can and CANNOT have if you’re eating Paleo.

fuel sweat grow: how to eat Paleo

(source)

Now, if you’re hopping on the 28toLife train, and coming into 2015 guns blazing, you’re also going to ditch the Honey and Maple Syrup.  No sugar is no sugar, with the exception of fructose in some fruits, which should still be viewed in moderation.  You’ll notice when my full grocery and meal lists come out that my preferred shopping list is really heavy on some items, and really light on some others….that’s not by mistake.  We’re going for nutrient rich foods; lean meats (local/grassfed and grass finished), nutrient rich vegetables, antioxidant rich (lower sugar/fructose) fruits/berries, eggs….so many eggs, and some staple items to support creative meal creation.

The most important thing to remember is that you must read all ingredient labels.  Just even doing this exercise will change the way you look at food.   It’s not about calories or fat (processed foods labelled as gluten-free or fat-free typically have the highest sugar, carb, and chemical compositions and are worse for you can straight up butter or whole grain breads – unless you are celiac or truly gluten intolerant).  Look at the ingredient list, and if there are words you don’t know (or naughty words you do know like sugar or anything ending in -ate), put it down and run away.  Keswick Gourmet (pictured below) is honestly one of the only marinara/pasta sauces in a jar that you can find anywhere in town without added sugar, and happens to be made locally.  It’s at Whole Foods, thank goodness, and is one of the few things that will bridge the gap between eating clean and having convenience.

fuel sweat grow: keswick gourmet

The best things to do when shopping is shop local farmers markets, or, in a traditional grocery store shop the perimeter – produce, fruit, meat, eggs, and out!  And just for a little extra, check out this article on Superfoods that are healthier and more nutrient rich than the currently trend leading #kale.  It’s great that so many people are embracing kale’s deep leafy greens, but it’s not the King of the mountain when it comes to green Superfoods and nutrient density, so don’t feel like you need to load up on it unless you love it too.

Snacks are always the hardest, so we’ll do our best to put out some great snack options for eating at home, or taking on-the-go, but typically you’ll want to think within the boundaries of the basics and prepare some quick grab bags/containers.  Almond butter is a great dipping sauce for baby carrots, celery, apples, bananas…..the usual suspects that we’ve all known since childhood — just once again, opt for the fresh ground almond or cashew butters from Whole Foods or Trader Joes, and make sure you read the label….most nut-butters have added sugar.  If you’re looking for some approved vendors, from snacks and dressings to meat vendors, et all, check out this list that is Whole 30 approved, or as always, visit our friends from MODpaleo and enter the code ‘MadnessCville’ when you create your account to receive 10% off your first order (they make meals AND snacks).

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo Pre-packaged meal delivery

As you get ready to stock up on some Staple Items, here’s a quick list of what you’ll need as serious basics, and my store preferences if you’re looking to shop around on price:

Coconut Milk: this will become a life-line of sorts, so stock up.  It’s $0.99/can at Trader Joes vs. $2.49 at Whole Foods, and when you’re buying cans 10 at a time it really adds up.

Almond Milk: this is expensive wherever you go, and most brands are on the naughty list thanks to added Sugars, so if you’re looking to save $ and do it right, buy raw (unsalted, non-roasted) almonds from Trader Joe’s and follow this guide to make your own.  It’s much easier and cheaper than you would think. [But if you’re in a jam and just need a latte, Milli Joe and GRIT Coffee both make their almond milk in-house and will steam it up right for you with a few shots of amazing espresso.  It’s worth the $4+ when you’re in a jam.]

Coconut Oil: Have at least 2 jars on hand at all times, you will use it more than you can imagine.  Trader Joe’s will be your best bet on price by $1-2/jar.

Coconut Flour: You don’t need a ton of this, it goes amazingly far.  You can find it at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and most other general grocery stores (Harris Teeter, Kroger), just check the back and make sure it’s pure coconut.

Cinnamon:  You’ll want to make sure you have ground cinnamon on hand for coffee, coconut milk mixes, etc.  Once you quit sugar, spices will taste so amazing that you’ll find yourself getting excited to try new combos for veggie stir-frys and meat rubs.

Vanilla Extract: another label hunter. We’re going for pure/organic (not the alcohol/chemical rich generic brands); you’ll want this for making coconut milk coffee creamer, smoothies, etc.

Grocery Lists divided into best-of stores (Whole Foods / Trader Joes and local favorites like Stock and The Organic Butcher for meat) are headed your way tomorrow, but in the meantime, here’s a prep-post I put out prior to some of our clients doing the Whole30 earlier this year.  There’s a lot on the list, but I tend to find myself cooking for multiples, and the pre-making and packaging away leftovers habit has been known to save lives around here.

Until then, you know those cookies that have been eyeing you from the cabinet (or worse, the counter) every night?  Throw them out.  Let the wine linger a little longer so you don’t hate directly on 2014, and we’ll say g’bye after the ball has dropped….and remember, it’s only goodbye for now, you’ll be back at the end of the month.

Prepping for a Week of Clean Eating + MAD Cardio Sweats

There are few things I love more than organization, strategic planning, and food, so The Whole Damn Thing: real food, real health challenge is lighting up my little inner light as 2014 closes out.  And lets be honest, when paired with my next great love, fitness & sweats, 2015 is already welcoming me in.

Last week I had some amazing sweats, both scheduled and somewhat spontaneous, which I imagine will be the same for this week, but here’s what I’ve got planned:

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Even though we’re not kicking off the lifestyle/challenge until Sunday night at The Whole Damn Potluck, I’ll be posting some prep tips, grocery lists, and starter recipes right here over the next few days. So, if you’re feeling so inclined (my liver just raised it’s hand), kick start a little early and come to the potluck as a 3 day seasoned veteran of food prep and sugar detox.

This of course happened this week for Christmas Round II with my parents, obviously since it’s my favorite meal to make and eat – Paleo Thai Chicken Stir Fry (w/almond butter sauce).

fuel sweat grow: paleo almond butter stir fry

It’s been on here more times than I can count (if I don’t have it twice a month my life feels empty) so check it out and give it a whirl.  My one piece of advice for a novice — less nut-buttery, more coconut milky, and an extra grind of salt will do the trick.

fuel sweat grow: paleo dinner thai chicken stir-fry

For all of my Charlottesville folks hitting up the Challenge with us, make sure you also join the group/forum for recipe and tip sharing — it’s open to non-MAD folks as well, you just need to join to see the content!

That’s it for now — more to come tomorrow to help you clear everything out and re-stock with the good stuff, but for now, it’s time for this girl to catch some z’s before kicking off cardio week in MADville at 6am with all the sexy people of course.  See you there.

fuel sweat grow: MADabolic Cville Cardio Week

The Whole Damn Thing

There’s been a lot of buzz around MADville lately.  The endless holiday party circuits (wine/beer/booze and ALL the desserts), coupled with the increased demands of travel and sweat schedule sacrifices have left many of our tribe feeling the effects, and it sure doesn’t feel great.  So, we’re going to do something about it, all of us, together.  We’re doing The Whole Damn Thing.

fuel sweat grow: the whole damn thing

We’re not talking juice fasting – not at all.  We’re talking real good food – just pure fuel for our bodies, and none of the crap, chemicals, or otherwise inflammation inducing foods that are messing with our systems (body and mind).

Now, just to be clear, I’m not owning this concept by way of my new hybrid name for it, it’s merely an umbrella campaign to cover all the different clients choosing their preferred ‘plan’ (the 28toLife, Whole 30, or just classic Paleo challenge evangelists). We’ll call it strength in numbers since this effort is all inclusive. So whatever your preference (and that includes plant based modifications too!), and wherever you choose to sweat (we’re not closing this off to MAD clients) let’s find some common ground.  Here are the basic fundamentals; no chemicals, no sugar, no artificial anything; no grains, no/limited dairy, and no alcohol.  We’re simply focusing on real whole foods that we prefer to have locally sourced from some of the amazing farms and local businesses we’ve got right here in Charlottesville.

The commencement date for this challenge is Sunday, January 4th (if we can wait that long) and will be kicked off with a potluck dinner for all (sign up and ‘rules’ on how to ‘appropriately potluck’ to follow).

In preparation for the kick off — in case you’re not able to wait another week, or you know that your life is going to be hella crazy as you forge into the new year, you need to check out MODpaleo.

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo

I kid you not, if I didn’t love cooking so much as my own in-house therapy, I would seriously consider ordering all of my meals from these guys.  It’s better than my own cooking, and is 100% clean and amazing.  And the bonus: THEY SHIP OVERNIGHT TO VIRGINIA!  Yep.  That’s right.

So, head on over and make yourself an account, check out their super awesome menu for the week, and go to town.  Oh, did I mention that if you plug in the code ‘MadnessCville,’ you’ll get 10% off your first order.  Yep, just because I like you.

So, that’s what’s happening around MADville this week, and we could not be more excited.  There is, of course, more to come, so sign up to get the blog updates right smack in your inbox, follow instagram, and keep an eye out for a Facebook event for the potluck.  Here’s to kicking off 2015 with the best damn community Charlottesville can bring together for some good clean fun.

Recover + Recharge: Holidays in Charlottesville

There have been years when the holidays have been hectic; lots of travel, gift hunting, and a million to-do’s that all collide with each other generating a little more stress than usual.  Since this year has been full of all things hectic (plenty of travel and to-do’s included), it was a nice change of pace to stay planted in Charlottesville, and take the time to recover, recharge, and settle fully into the warmth of a holiday at home.

With work winding down, I took a couple extra days off to do all of the things I love about living in such a locally driven town; exploring locally owned businesses, hand picking gifts, coffee with friends, and of course, one of my favorite treats: sweethaus cupcakes.

fuel sweat grow: sweethaus cupcakes

Tuesday night was filled with mini-cupcakes, great friends, and warm holiday spirit. This time the party was at HOME, which was a welcomed change from the crazy holiday party circuit that has dominated the last few weeks.  This year has been one with challenges, change, and so many amazing people, old friends and brand new, that make it impossible not to have an (over) full heart.

After a great night of celebrating, the 7am class at MADabolic Cville followed by 75 minutes of Rasa Yoga Lab / myofascial release at Opal Yoga with Mia paired up to be the perfect complement for a little extra recovery.

fuel sweat grow: Christmas Eve Opal Yoga

The more I put on myself, physically and mentally, a load that seems to increase by the year, the more important it has become to know what it needs to recover.  Years ago when I started exploring different practices, methods, and the balance of them, my main goal was to figure out the perfect compliments for my own body and lifestyle.  While that’s still the goal, over time I realized that there’s no ‘perfect’ forever combination, but there’s a definite formula for the intelligent pairings of building and releasing strength, stress, and space.  The formula forces self-education, intelligent pairings and cyclical change over time.

The combination of Mia’s class – the yoga (flow + yin) to warm the muscles, and the myofascial release with blocks and tennis (or lacrosse) balls to release – was exactly what I was needing this week, and allowed so much more of a mental release than hurried stretch or foam/PVC rolling on my own (pre or post sweat).

We found our post-sweat / post-release recovery bliss in an almond milk latte at Milli Joe, nerdish conversation about the body, fitness philosophies, and life’s evolutions – in both body and mind.  It was a great Wednesday out of the routine, and a sweet recharge to kick off the holiday.

I’m excited to get back to a little routine and structure tomorrow, but it will definitely be nice to have a few more days off from work to enjoy the easy balance before real life weighs back in.

Coffee, Recovery + the Sweetness of Life

There’s a strange feeling in the air; a slower pace than a typical monday, and a sense of calm that trumps the urgency that usually dominates the start of a new week.

fuel sweat grow: coffee is life

As I sat sipping my coffee this morning, a welcomed change to my typically hurried infusion of caffeine, I took a few extra minutes to breathe, settle into Monday, and embrace the Holiday calm.

The best part about the week of blending nothing and everything is taking more time to focus on what I’m really needing right now — some serious recovery sweats.

fuel sweat grow: sweat schedule Holidays 2014 We’ve gotten pretty into declaratory sweat schedules around here lately, a long-time habit from my lululemon days circa 2009-11, with a little more of the personalized branding to make it feel like home.  I’m pretty excited looking at this because I know how killer all of those days will be (in a good way), but also because I’m heading into a long stretch of…well, stretching…so expect a little revisiting the practice of Becoming a Supple Leopard and some new habit’s I’m forming to complement everything I’m putting my body through these days.  While I’ve been a little lax recently with my stretching and whole wellness routine, I’ve been creating balance with some other life choices that just fill my heart right up.

Last week amid the mayhem I opted to give my body an end-of-week break since it had been through enough with travel, gluttony, and constant pushing of December, and instead, I filled my usual Saturday morning sweat slot with two of the sweetest girls ever, and their amazing parent’s who are undoubtedly beginning a beautiful family adventure.

fuel sweat grow: Erin McDermotte Suki and Coco

Suki, my first (McDermott) White baby love, recently became a big sister to Coco (Collier Carrington White) and could not be more perfect for the role.  She’s lost none of her spunk or smooching skills, but has become an immediate protector and best friend to her sweet sister, as if her role was laid out perfectly for her.

I stopped by for a visit, and to give Coco some ‘welcome to the world’ gifts (any excuse to shop at Pottery Barn Kids + Baby), and of course ended up in my favorite room in the house, and the creative haven for Erin McDermott Jewelry.

fuel sweat grow: Erin McDermott Jewelry and Suki girl

The visit, the conversation, and the re-connection that I love every time I can make it in Charlotte was so much more than any workout I could have forced into the morning haze, and was exactly what my body and soul needed to take that first deep breath, and full exhale out as I moved closer to letting go for the Holidays.

Now, here we are on Monday, wrapping up all the loose ends, and creating space for relaxation.  It’s never a dull moment around here, but here’s to filling them with the joy and laugher of good friends and family to close out the year.  <3

Fueling the Extra Mile + The Longest Week of 2014

This last week, hour for hour, was without a doubt one of the longest of the year.  After last weekend’s marathon of holiday parties, a week of complete insanity and over-booked days of work and bid’ness was seriously cutting it close to my capacity limit.  But thankfully, like always, I somehow live to tell the tale (but in all honesty, I had an airborne for snack this afternoon and have been in my PJ’s since 2pm…so the candle may have burned a little too long).

Monday and Tuesday brought early morning sweats at MADabolic Cville, and a lot of end-of-day food prep to fuel incredible conversations, strategic planning, and serious contemplations about the broader concept of development with some of our favorite MAD ones.  Tuesday dinner was another zoodle + beef sauté, accompanied by one of my new favorite salad combo’s [romaine; shredded kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage; cucumbers; raspberries; slivered almonds] and Tessemae’s Zesty Ranch dressing. It’s winter love.

fuel sweat grow: beef zoodles and

Tuesday happened to also be our night to take dinner to two amazing new parents, Robin and Ryan (and sweet baby Arya), so I got to cook a little out of my usual zone since Ryan is a veg-eater, and Robin eats ‘anything’.

fuel sweat grow: spinach fettuccine and veggies

I made them one of my absolute favorite meals from my grain-loving days, and I have to say, if you’re going to have pasta and a bit of dairy, it’s definitely a killer option.  Zucchini and peppers sautéd in coconut oil, Trader Joe’s spinach and chive linguine, tossed in a greek yogurt and avocado blended ‘sauce.’  The veggies are seasoned with Trader Joe’s ‘everyday seasoning,’and can be done with gluten free pasta (or zoodles) if that’s your thing.  I added some grilled chicken thighs to Robins meat-favorable meal, and a cucumber and heirloom tomato salad with balsamic and olive oil to up the ante for Ryan as well.  All in all, a pretty solid tuesday night meal (I think, and yes, I had a little bit myself for old times sake…).

With a million things backing up on the to-do list and ‘real’ work pushing to the end of the year in a full sprint, most mornings begin like this to help me get through: egg and zucchini scramble with a post-MADabolic almond milk latte from Milli Joe.

fuel sweat grow: zucchini eggs and almond milk latte

This is the scene from Wednesday morning, the day of ‘all the things,’ and the last day I spent in Cville this week before taking off for more work+holiday mayhem in Charlotte.  While craziness has been the constant theme of the last few months, it’s all been worth it.  As work and 2014 finally slow down, and new everything begins to ramp up, the only true thing I know is that it always, always, pays off to push it to go the extra mile.

fuel sweat grow: the extra mile

The end of the week finished with more amazing friends, great food, holiday parties galore, and more than I can capture in these final sentences, that’s for sure.  You can expect to hear about all the adventures and new amazingness over the next few weeks.

Embracing the Holidays: Ingredients, Blended Families & Presence

One might think that I would be the person that would have all of my holiday decorations up on December 1st, ready to be #homegoodshappy for a full month.  Well, it would be a logical thought, at least a passing one, and if it were any other year you would have been spot on, but not in 2014. No sir.  This has been the year of maxing out capacity and managing the build of the permanent fixtures in life – letting go of the seasonal.  I’m currently neck deep in things-to-be-done, some critical, some deeply passionate, and some so trivial that it can be hard to want to give any time or energy to them.  As the Holidays barreled closer, and more of the i-want-to-do’s began to shine through in my schedule, I decided to make a choice – and it made my week.  Joy over stress; value over waste; community over self; and presence over presents.

On Wednesday night it was cookie baking night in the neighborhood with some of the dearest friends in the world, and the kids that help to glue us together as the most untraditional and amazing blended family we could hope for.

fuel sweat grow: cookie swap / #myblendedfamily

fuel sweat grow: cookie swap / my blended family

It’s just Love.  A whole lot of love, laughter, dancing…..and sugar.  But whatever, life’s about living, and these moments don’t just come around every day.

I’ll spare you all the finished product because some of those happy little snow/gingerbread men didn’t fare well through the decorating phase, but we still managed to have the best time.

fuel sweat grow: sugar cookies / cookie swap

The whole sugary crew made their debut at Thursday night’s cookie swap at Paradox Pastry with our friends from Our Local Commons, and they got to live out their holiday destiny bringing joy…or something…to other peoples lives.

So leaving Paradox on a high, followed by an AWESOME dinner – that I will post more about later- at the new spot on Main St., Oakhart Social where Dar and I ran into multiple awesome MADabolic Cville clients …and soon-to-be clients… I was fully inspired.  The holiday spirit is alive and well within me, and this weekend it took over in the form of our MAD client Holiday Happy Hour, so many Holiday Parties, and ultimately an afternoon of full out holiday nesting and (paleo) comfort food making (more to come on this).

fuel sweat grow: holiday paleo comfort foods

It’s time to let the year unwind, and while I know that it’s going to have to crank back up pretty damn hard as soon as the ’14 fades out and ’15 busts in, I’m going to just enjoy the moment(s) for a while, and appreciate the people that keep me going all year long when I’m definitely spread way too thin.

By the Grace of Coffee, this MAD week is ON

I know that there are 7 full days in a week, but somehow it always seems to be Sunday night.

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That was the thought that led off this post when I started it late Sunday.  Now it’s late Tuesday, proving two things: another couple of days have slipped past, each closer to Sunday’s return, and I’m constantly up, working, organizing, and writing late at night.  C’est la vie, I suppose, because if I’ve learned anything in the last 30 odd (literally) years of my life, it’s that I function best when in constant motion…as long as I’ve got some sense of organization and structure bracing my schedule.

Which of course leads us to food.  When things are crazy, but still functional, it’s usually a sign that I’ve made time for grocery shopping and cleared some therapy time in the kitchen.  I’ve been in the habit lately of hitting two grocery spots for different items: trader joe’s for produce and the general staples (coconut milk, coconut oil, almond butter, etc) and Whole Foods for the rest (avocados, meat, eggs).  It’s 100% a cost thing for making the two stops, because that’s obviously the only thing that can trump the convenience of Whole Foods, but the difference is substantial.  That’s not to say, however, that I don’t still impulse buy at Whole Foods.  It happens all the time, lately with my new favorite salad add-on: microgreens.

fuel sweat grow: sunflower and basil microgreens

I’m a sampler.  If you offer me a sample and it looks like something I would possibly eat (greens, soup, chili…anything but fish) I’m going to try it.  A year or so ago that habit led me to discover Keswick Gourmet, which has since become a favorite cooking staple; so obviously I’m a target market of sorts.  Last week as I walked into Whole Foods there was a sample table with these microgreens (sunflower and basil) dressed with light olive oil and sea salt.  Um, yes please (I bought two).  I played around a little with it for dinner, added some almonds, and ultimately mixed it in with romaine, some cucumbers, and other ever-loving salad add-ons.

On the stovetop I sautéed 2lbs of ground beef with onion (in coconut oil) and mixed the zoodles/spiralized zucchini right in there to soften slightly and soak up all the flavor. There’s a chance this might be my new favorite quickie meal….but I could just be caught up in the moment.

fuel sweat grow: ground beef zoodlesThe full meal looked like this and was arguably just as good as lunch leftovers, so again, if you have time to make more than you can eat, do it.  You’ll be thankful later.

fuel sweat grow: micro green salad and ground beef zoodles

This was exactly the right way (for me) to start the week, a structural component that has contributed to a pretty packed and productive week –  so far.  The other main contributor has been getting myself up (by the grace of coffee) for the 6 or 7am classes at MAD three mornings a week so I can relax and work without a deadline or a super packed end of the day.  It has been everything.

So, what have we learned here?  Coffee + early morning MADness + all the sunflower basil microgreens you can handle = an amazing start to a grey winter week.

Goal Digging My Way into 2015

This may be news to some, but it is likely the least shocking and most underwhelming declaration to those who have known me well over the last 5 years: I love goal setting. I’m a total goal digger.

fuel sweat grow: Goal digging / goal setting

At my core I’m an idea generating, relationship developing, connection making, and all around goal crushing nerd trapped inside what recently has felt like an ad-hoc life on the fast track to somewhere, but certainly no where externally defined.

In my previous life I was goal obsessed (It was borderline unhealthy).  I would ‘create possibility’ and make vision boards during every spare moment.  I craved time with friends who wanted to talk about their goals, or even better, allow me to peel away the layers to discover the goals they never knew they had. I was devastated by people who didn’t know any of their own unique passions, or didn’t want to spend all of their free time exploring their own existential purpose. I kept a notebook with me at all times where I recorded all of my ideas, projections, and complete mental regurgitations of work/life flows and strategic mind maps – it was yellow, you may have seen it with me everywhere from 2009-2011.

Sometime over the last three years I lost a little touch with that presence of mind when it comes to my own development.  I continue to build, I have ‘goals’ in the most practical of terms, but I left the constant state of possibility somewhere far behind me.  Maybe it was for the best, but maybe I can make a little room for that imagination without losing my bearings in the now.

Recently Dar became an ambassador for our lululemon showroom here in Charlottesville, and one of her first assignments was/is to develop her goals.  When she asked me to help her expand on her brainstorms and sketch out her milestones it was as if, finally, after two years of being partnered on business goals she realized my full existence and allowed me to revisit my former self.  A little too involved? Maybe, but it only took a few minutes for my arms to get tired of holding Tank up towards the sky like Simba, and eventually the Lion King theme song ended and my iPod shuffled over to some other meaningless anthem. And as suddenly as it all began, I was back to normal… but a normal that lives somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

Last night we finally made time and talked goals.  We discussed 10 year visions, the 5 year milestones, and the now.  We contemplated what we each need to be doing right now to get started on that trajectory that we secretly hope lingers around the bend.  What’s there to do?  So much.  So, so, much, and it’s all exciting, terrifying, and overwhelming in all the best and worst ways.

fuel sweat grow: goal setting

We spent 45 minutes talking through the different exercises, the overall objective, and a few of the details surrounding our own personal milestones.  And then, of course, I spent another 45 minutes alone on my own head, scribbling out crazy detailed and psychotic mind maps to show how all of the goals, the next 10 years, and points of performance that all connect to the end goal(s).  What’s life without a little chaos? I wouldn’t recognize it.

While my actual full-blown 2015+ goals are not yet complete, there are a few big ticket items that did manage to sprout and find growth even in the darkest of times, and we’re just about ready to scream it from the rooftops….but not quite yet…

Shaking Things Up w/Carolina Barre & Core: Thanksgiving Edition

I’m not going to lie – I don’t love winter.  I love the idea of it; pumpkin things, snow days with hot chocolate, beautiful blankets of white snow that lasts for a day before magically disappearing, and all of the holiday things that HomeGoods has to offer.  I love the storybook moments of winter, and none of the dark, cold, everyday parts hat come from shorter days and wind chill.

This past week was a cold one in my part of the world, and I can’t say I was too thankful for that life reality, but I’m Thankful nonetheless.  I’m still in complete denial that it’s not summer anymore (deep denial apparently), so the 30 degree weather that we met in Charlotte for Thanksgiving week was a bit traumatic.  Naturally, I took to wine, blankets, and barre to recover…along with a pretty significant amount of cooking.  I was in good company for all of those things, so it managed to balance out the wind chill and a happy wine-giving was had by all.

On Thanksgiving Day the Mayor of MADville (Dar) and I made a pilgrimage (get it?) out of the full house and over to Carolina Barre & Core to shake things up with our good friend Amity.  Amity was one of my first ever Barre teachers, and is (and probably will forever be) my favorite teacher of all time.

fuel sweat grow: carolina barre and core

About two years ago I got a phone call from Amity telling me she was thinking about leaving her previous studio to open one, with programming powered by Exhale Spa, and the Barre technique that started it all.  And when I say it all, I mean it.  This method is the first derivative of the Lotte Berk method that spawned the frenzy of barre techniques and studios.

I was already a huge fan of Amity’s, but I’m also obsessed with the diversity of this method, the flexibility and depth of programming, and the warm spirit that it brings to the community of her studio.  In addition to just having standard Barre Fusion classes, they also have Advanced Barre, Cardio / Barre (LOVE), Cardio Sport, and Yoga Fusion classes, just to name a few.  The other huge plus, in my opinion, is that they don’t promote ‘tucking,’ which is a big criticism of more main streamed techniques for the negative impacts the repetitive motion and pelvic contraction can have on women’s bodies.

I love the classes at CBC, but it’s truly the community and the friendly vibe inside the studio that makes it feel like a home away from home for me, and when I’m in Charlotte for work, that’s exactly what I’m looking for.

fuel sweat grow: Carolina Barre and Core

I can’t say that I was totally feeling up for any sort of sweating (first thing) when I woke up on Thursday, but about 3 minutes in to the class I remembered why Amity is everything, and why I was never able to walk, breathe…or really move, after I took one of her classes.  All of those thing proved true again, and on Friday morning when I returned, very stiffly, for day 2, I met my complete match in 30/30 (Cardio/Barre).  That class is my own personal love.  It starts with 30 minutes of body weight, and light weight, cardio isometrics, utilizing full body movements to elevate the heart rate and simultaneously strengthen with slight weights through more functionally designed movements.  It’s not about just isolating one single group at a time, and it’s everything about feeling the burn, and apparently sweating like an animal if you’re me.  The second half of the class is Barre, but only my favorite parts (thighs, glutes, abs, and stretch), and then almost as fast as it started you find yourself laying peacefully on your mat lingering just a little longer before you have to go home.  And then there’s the bonus: there are two stall bars in the studio for you to stretch out and re-align your body/spine, which is pretty critical.

fuel sweat grow: carolina barre stall bar Needless to say, after two consecutive days at Carolina Barre & Core, followed up by Saturday morning back at MADabolic in Charlottesville, my body welcomed a much needed rest day today to get organized for another week of everything at once as we steadily build into the thick of the holiday season. Tomorrow is December 1st, beginning the last month of 2014 and I’ll be damned if this year doesn’t end on a positive note, so who’s in?

Spreading Awesome w/ Paleo Parents, Athletic Stretch + Friendsgiving(s)

Last week I needed a little focus mantra to push through the week and I loved this perspective of Kid President.

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Sometimes the to-do lists, the perpetual over scheduling and the weight of the yet-to-be-done work can bring senses of monotony and burden, rather than opportunity.  That was the choice last week for me; get pulled down into depths of the trivial, or prioritize through both time and emotional investment the things that really matter.  I chose the latter — the relationships and opportunities for the future that can give even the most mundane hours purpose.

So, that’s what I did.  And by the end of the week, I was tee’d up to be even more excited for the things that were happening in MADville (a.k.a. MADabolic Cville).

Friday night brought the book signing, and talk, with Paleo Parents, Stacey and Matt.  We loved having them in to MAD to share their story with the Charlottesville community.

fuel sweat grow: Paleo Parents Real Life Paleo

What I loved about their story is that it was about health — real health for their kids and family as a whole.  Weight loss and fitness were something of a byproduct, but their motivation and benefits had to do with saving their lives, and their children’s lives, from obesity and all that it triggers.  They are real people, with real lives, and very real health motivations to clean up their food.

fuel sweat grow: Paleo Parents Beyond Bacon

Their first book, Eat Like a Dinosaur, was originally written to help bring some normalcy, and clarity, to their children’s eating, and all the kids that were on gluten-free, dairy-free, or some allergen-free diets — and it’s awesome.  Kid tested and MAD approved.

We were lucky to also have Kathy from Keswick Gourmet sampling out her amazing marinara sauce; no sugar, preservatives, or any sort of additives…just good homemade sauce, the way your grandma always made.

Fuel sweat grow: spaghetti squash marinara

So all and all, we had some good clean fun last Friday in MADville, and are even bigger fans of Paleo Parents now that we can put faces to the name, and connect their story to the root of their cooking.  It’s a lifestyle thing, and we can totally dig that.

Saturday brought our Athletic Stretch Class with Robin from tru PILATES, which was over-sold and awesome — and definitely the first of many for our community.

fuel sweat grow: athletic stretch class tru Pilates

Tacos and mind-mapping continued after stretch with Robin and her fiancé Ryan for what was my final breakfast at Brazos Tacos before they ended their 60 day term in our beloved IX building.  We’re so lucky to have such cool things happening around us in our space (studio IX coming soon just two doors down!), and the coolest people that take anchor in our lives.

Saturday evening brought ‘Friendsgiving’ with some of the best people I’ve ever known.  And, of course, because it was a Maliha Creations (hosted) event, it was a warm, embracing night of grateful hearts and beautiful souls.

fuel sweat grow: friendsgiving 2014

fuel sweat grow: friendsgiving dinner

Sunday brought a day of recovery that included, but was not limited to breakfast back at the scene of the previous night’s friendsgiving, and a bonus night of real life paleo eating (and of course Keswick Gourmet).  There are few things I love more than small Sunday night dinners with friends, accompanied by great food, wine, and conversation.

All in all it was a great wrap up to a crazy week, and was exactly what was needed to wined down, and back up, into a week of work and holiday travel.   Boring was totally out, and awesome is the new black.

MODpaleo + Paleo Parents: BOTH COMING TO CVILLE!

Over the last few months I’ve been all up in MODpaleo’s grill….pretty literally.  Aside from making sure they catered meals at my office in Charlotte (their home base), I’ve also been talking up their upcoming delivery option for our folks at MADabolic Cville (or really any friends in Charlottesville or Virginia).  So here’s the big announcement(s): THE WAIT IS FINALLY OVER!  Meal delivery is here and you can get some special love and treatment right here through this link (aka, the portal to paleo).

fuel sweat grow: modpaleo

I’m so excited about this, not only for my own life convenience (I too like to take days off from cooking), but also for the lives of all of my favorite MADville friends.

So, folks, go here and order up.  I promise that you’ll be happy that you did.  Efficiency finally meets convenience for a whole lot of clean, delicious eating without having to shop, cook, or clean.

So, while I have your attention and we’re all fueled up on the thought of clean fuel, paleo meals and being amazing, here’s announcement #2 – and it’s a big one.

Paleo Parents (bloggers, authors, and also…well, real live paleo-living parents) are bringing The Paleo View Book Signing Tour to Charlottesville, and we’re hosting the event at MADabolic Cville.

fuel sweat grow: Paleo Parents Book Tour

We’re pretty pumped to have them in Charlottesville (not to mention our own happy little piece of ‘ville), and hope that you will all come out to join us for this amazing night.  Come on out, buy their book, and get it signed right there by the authors — and then, hey, maybe we can all go up to Citizen’s Burger Bar (CBB) and grab a bite.  Why not dream big?

Convenience v. Efficiency: A Food + Fitness Story

I’ve been a little off-target over the past two weeks with planning my food and getting into any sort of consistent sweat routine.  It’s not historically in my nature to take long breaks from working out, but over the last year I’ve developed a (much) more balanced approach to letting go of structure when the stress of trying to force fitness in any given day is greater than the benefit.  I’m not sure if it’s a product of ‘growing up’ or just ‘getting old,’ but it’s a real need a couple times a year to slow down and I’m always so thankful when I allow myself to let it go.

Part of creating that balance has also been efficiency.  Convenience is something our whole world seems to be driven by these days, but somehow efficiency sometimes gets lost in the mix.  They’re not the same thing, in fact, they’re grossly different.

It’s the appeal of convenience that leads so many of us to drive-thrus, to processed foods and sugar addictions.  It’s what keeps us on the continuous (proverbial and literal) treadmill for years without seeing any significant change or improvement to our bodies or lives —  and in fact, it usually has the adverse effect.  Efficiency is completely different. It’s the ironic counter to convenience; it’s the most effective way to reach a goal or see a result, and without it, I would never accomplish anything.

So, let me talk clean to you for a second…  [clean + efficient meets food + fitness].

The most important part of eating clean (for me, in my crazy life) is preparation, and packaging.  When I cook it’s never for one meal – I’ll happily live off of leftovers for a week of work lunches and on-the-go dinners.   Example: on Sunday morning I made breakfast for my Charlotte family – 18 eggs worth of breakfast.

fuel sweat grow: steak and eggsZucchini, leftover chimichurri marinated skirt steak (a YUM from Fresh Market), and 18 full fledged eggs.

fuel sweat grow: egg scramble #paleo breakfast

I’m terrible about giving myself enough time for breakfast during the week, but I love breakfast on weekends, so having these leftovers is such a huge thing for me.

Sunday afternoon I followed right up with a bulk-cooking marathon to get ready for a week in the office with my favorite Thai Chicken Stir-fry (with spaghetti squash).

fuel sweat grow: thai chicken stir fry

fuel sweat grow: thai chicken stir fry

To compliment (and balance out the days) this salad came to be — and is always a consistent favorite of mine. It’s definitely more of a summer salad, but it was 80 degrees in Charlotte this weekend, so I’m going to give it a seasonal pass.

fuel sweat grow: fall summer salad

Efficiency is also what I look for in my workouts.  Well, that, and a little escape once in a while.  I still run when I’m feeling inspired — its one of the most freeing actions, and sometimes the only time I have to be in my own head.  I still crave yoga + stretching because it feeds my body and soul.  And I still love sweating for the sake of sweating, when that’s what I need, but for my actual fitness, strength, and total body change, I go for efficiency – and that’s the theme of the week.  So here’s how I’m hoping to balance it:

Monday: Run + new playlist

Tuesday: Carolina Barre + Core: 30/30 Cardio Barre

Wednesday: MADabolic

Thursday: Walk with a friend + Run/body weight circuit

Friday: MADabolic

Saturday: MADabolic

Sunday: a day of REST (or maybe a hike with the 4-leggers)

And the reality is….if somewhere in there life gets a little too jammed and my sanity depends on a little lunch time yoga or childs pose in my office, then so be it.  Sometimes being effective is just about being still.

Wine-Down to Thirty

Last week was a crazy travel, and literal wine-down to Thirty week.  After a weekend of major celebrating with some of the finest of the Charlottesville crew, I made the trek down to Charlotte for a quick return to reality – work – and LOTS of it.

Thankfully, and on night 2 of my working girl plight, I had this amazing wine from my friend (& MADville member) Juan’s own vineyard in Buenos Aires.  I shared it because I really like my friends, but I would be lying if I didn’t say seeing the bottom of the bottle so quickly made me a little sad.

fuel sweat grow: wine down to 30

The night that will now be known as ‘the night after the wine,’ is one filled with irony because it also included amazing wine and great people – and an actual BirthDAY party.  It’s been a really long time since I celebrated my birthday on the actual day, so it was a little surreal (and special) to come home from work to meet back up with some of my favorite Charlotte friends from work + play.

There’s something very comforting to me about a laughter filled room of amazing women, supporting each other, sharing stories, and connecting beneath the surface layers.  I know how special it is to have so many incredible people in my life – all strong, driven, and phenomenally brilliant in their own ways – and being in such close company would be overwhelming if it weren’t so fulfilling.  My happy place looks a lot like this – wine in hand, happy chatter, thoughtful conversation…. just give me a blanket and a fire and I’ll stay all winter.

As is typical for me when I try to burn the candle at both ends (and since I did a pretty poor job of recovering from the last few weeks) I crashed this weekend and slept more in the next 3 days that I had in the last week.  I guess this is what Thirty looks like.  But you know what? If the company and content in this life can stay on the steady incline, I’m happy to re-charge when it’s needed.

I’m still in Charlotte this week, chomping at the bit to get back to Charlottesville so I can get this little weirdos from their favorite  Nanny.  They may come begrudgingly at first, but I’m certain that after I hug them in super tight and whisper sweet nothings to them over and over while they struggle to get away, we’ll all feel much better.  There’s no place like home, right?

fuel sweat grow: bug and tank

So, cliffs notes on Thirty: so far so good.  I think it’s going to be a slow march up hill for a while, but I’ve been training for it my whole life, so why not just accept the challenge and soldier on.  You with me?

Thirty Love.

There’s not a day that goes by when I’m not acutely aware of how amazing the people in my life are — and how amazing my life is for that matter.  In a cliche way I often want to say how ‘lucky’ I am, but it’s not about luck — its about these people who make my life full, rich, and never ever (ever) dull.  It’s about the honest and sustaining love and appreciation that is grows out of shared experience, maturity, and compassionate relating….oh, and a whole hell of a lot of fun.

fuel sweat grow: celebrating friend love and birthdays #23to30

I can’t begin to count the number of times (sometimes multiple times a day) I’m overwhelmed by all of the amazing souls in my life.  This weekend was a full one, and kicked off early on Friday night with a sweet gathering of friends in Charlottesville to help me celebrate thirty before I make my way down to Charlotte this week.

fuel sweat grow: 30th Birthday #23to30

Two weeks ago I posted about the amazing and inspiring Wonder Women that make up my tribe and have impacted my growth, and of course, two of them brought the theme to life.  Lisa, who made me an amazing (2nd) Wonder Woman crown, cuffs, and personalized stationary, and Anita (the WW behind Maliha Creations) who made this amazing cake, all clad with power and containing some of the best salted caramel filling (and THE best buttercream) that anyone has ever had.

fuel sweat grow: Maliha creations Wonder Woman Birthday cake

Unconditional love is something we all, hopefully, know when we are born.  It’s an expectation of family, good or bad, and something that we all strive to replicate when we cultivate our adult relationships.  It can be hit or miss –  I’ve learned this over time – but the evolution seems to be within ourselves, and as we grow that love in our relationship with ourselves, the external relationships seem to follow suit.   It took me until my late twenties to understand and more fully live this concept, and I’m declaring this the theme of my thirties;- universal, full, unconditional, and boundary-less love of myself and relationships of quality, not quantity.

It has really been in the last 5 years that I’ve learned how to really build my tribe; I’ve learned what I’m looking for (and conversely, what I’m not looking for) in the people and environments I surround myself with.  It has been a process, but I’ve learned (and still am learning) to be unapologetically true to myself and what I want to achieve, living by no one else’s timeline or values.  Thanks to my people, I finally feel the solid ground underneath me that helps to give me the confidence and stability to openly enter this next decade.

Thanks to everyone who made this weekend so special to me — there’s definitely more to come on the details (read: incriminating ridiculous photos) clearly defining why it was so awesome.  I’ve got 4.5 days left of 29, and you better believe I’m going to squeeze out every last drop — but just for the sake of finishing it out strong.  I’m ready for you thirties, I think I might already be in love with you.

5 Needs for Personal Health + the Good Life

I’ve been down for the count the last few days.  It has definitely not been fun — I’m a terrible patient, and worse when left up to my own devices — but the down time has no doubt been so important for my body to begin recovering.

It’s very rare that I have any time to rest or allow myself to recover, and I’m constantly burning the candle at both ends…and possibly also in the middle. I pretty much burn the whole damn candle all the time and without apology and never make enough time to completely catch up.  This is a huge growth area for me — listening to my body when it first starts to show signs of breaking down and actually letting it re-charge.  Admittedly, I’m much better at weekend couch time when it’s cold outside and hibernation mode seems so appealing, but I need to really shut it down.  That means no constant laptop working, planning, and letting stress keep me ‘on’ 24/7 — just good old fashioned slothing on the couch, watching movie marathons and giving myself whole days to play in the kitchen with no where in particular to be.  (Like this guy who makes self-care and napping a full time j.o.b.)

Painted in Waterlogue

As I’ve gotten older I’ve found a few things (practices) to be so incredibly important in staying above water (and out of the doctor’s office).  While I’ve proven the effectiveness of these little things in bringing rest and recovery into my life to ultimately be more productive, I’ve also proven them right by completely ignoring them all and marching hard into a stress induced breakdown.  I’ve fully lived the success and failure.

Here’s what matters:

1.  Give yourself a damn break; mentally and physically.  Sometimes allowing yourself to take time for nothing is exactly what’s necessary to be able to push forward to something later.

2.  Unplug.  No computer, no phone, no work anything.  Maybe for a day, or maybe just 6 hours, but give that time to yourself to live and relax, free of interruptions, and the stress of being on a timeline..

3.  Ask for help.  It’s not my natural tendency to cry uncle when it comes to feeling fatigued or having too much on my plate, but when my body cries uncle, it’s time to start listening.

4.  Plan mental health days for yourself.  Take a day for nothing but the small chores that nourish your sense of both accomplishment and security.  Laundry, organization, grocery shopping, cooking… and a trip to Home Goods if you’re ‘exciting’ like me.  They’re not fancy plans, but ability those little life chores have to relieve stress can have such a huge impact on both mental and physical stress.  Counter to most of our life chores, these are more restorative than draining.

5.  Learn to say no.  This is the most challenging thing for me — not just because I feel obligated to say yes to everyone and to be everything — but because I actually want to do everything.  It’s not hard to say no to things that aren’t appealing or have no significant spark to excite all my passions, but that rarely seems to be the reality.  I have amazing friends who do amazing things, and I am so in love with their passions and the things that make them come alive that I can’t help but get drawn in.  I want to do all the things, be all the things, and give whatever I have to the purpose — it’s just not realistic.  Sometimes saying no is the best thing you can do — and then when you don’t have to be the perfect master of everything, you can be tremendously good at the things that create your legacy.

be good

These last few days have been focused on giving myself the recovery time needed to be a better and fuller version of myself – shedding the demands of the day to day and allowing myself to be good.  As I finish out year 29 and head into the long anticipated thirtieth year, I know that expanding on my personal health focus (the 360 degree view) is going to be paramount in being successful as time goes on.  To rest is to recover, to recover is to allow for greater strength, and to have strength is to thrive — and isn’t that the whole point?

MODpaleo: Clean, Convenient Fuel

Remember earlier this summer when our friends from MODpaleo came out to our Grand Opening Party at MAD Charleston for a little ‘MEAT & GREET’ to let our clients taste test their delicious paleo meals? Well, we’re actually their pick up location in Mt. Pleasant, which is awesome, and since July I’ve been pumping hard (from my social media perch) to make sure that their food is in ALL of my favorite places.

fuel sweat grow: modpaleo

In addition to putting a hard push on them to bring their clean eats to Charlottesville, I somehow managed to score them as a breakfast vendor in my office in Charlotte so I’ve got some amazing healthy options when I’m there.  It’s all about convenience and quality in our industry, and when the right options are there it’s not hard to make good choices and maintain positive momentum knowing that you’ve been fueling your body to sustain an active lifestyle.  Day 8 of #23to30: quality of life comes from the quality of your surroundings -know what you need and what makes you feel whole and surround yourself with it.

Two weeks ago when I was working in Charlotte you better believe that I was in the office early on Wednesday morning to get my breakfast on with MODpaleo in our super pantry, and it was killer.  [Egg baked in a sweet potato, herbed chicken patty with fresh pesto on top.]

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo Breakfast

This meal sold out completely by 8am, and not only tasted amazing, it kept me full well past lunch time.  In a job and world where I rarely have a down moment or a regularly scheduled anything, having MODpaleo at the office was an absolute life saver.  So, naturally, this breakfast just re-lit my hard march to get their pre-packaged meals to Charlottesville so I can spend a few less days doing meal prep and planning and just let them do it for me.  And then low and behold, I saw this on instagram:

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo Virginia

You better believe this made my day.  Happy, clean, fresh fuel made for convenience and overall goodness – I’m in.  For everyone who has been nagging asking frequently for made to order clean meals….well here’s your best shot.  Check out their website and the weekly menu posted and get your orders in — they even have veggie options people.

Amber + Carter, sounds like it’s time to get your Cville on and get this full-blown show rolling.  We’re ready for you in MADville.  Next goal: shipping meals to me on all my trips.  Just saying…

 

Gratitude, Vegetables + Love: Featuring Zoodles [ Day 7 of #23to30 ]

The last 5 years have taught me more than I can fully communicate in the #23to30 chronicles, but these three concepts have proven to be critically important day to day.  When one is missing, the whole day is off balance.70b009db8decb19162818bffee458eea

I’ve always been a vegetable lover – growing up my dad had to have a backyard garden – we ate fresh food, we learned to like all food (mostly) and fast food was not something that came around often.  My mom did have a thing for Dairy Queen, but we all try not to talk about it.

I truly grew up thinking that salad made with home grown produce, and whole wheat pasta sautéd in olive oil with pine nuts, arugula and sun dried tomatoes was a typical tuesday night dinner for all families.  Add avocado? Obviously.   That’s how I learned to cook (and eat); watching my dad cook, acting as his sous chef, and being second in command to conduct the evening assessment of refrigerator contents to determine what meals are actually possible (aka Fridge Disposal Meals).  When my dad would travel I was automatically promoted to head chef, a scenario which my mom was both intrigued and terrified by; but outside of a few small and thankfully contained kitchen fires, I steadily honed my craft.

As an adult I can honestly say that things have only gotten worse, which of course really means exponentially better.  My love for locally grown and organic food has become more obsessive, I live in a town that is focused on locally sourced foods and culinary uniqueness, and I have slowly (but certainly) become more compulsive about cooking and eating clean and delicious food.  That being said, it should come as no surprise that Zoodlers and spiralizers are one of the greatest things to happen to me in the last decade.

fuel sweat grow: zoodles  Anyone who has peeled or sliced zucchini into ribbons knows, these kitchen toys have completely changed the game.  Lately I’ve been loving zoodles sautéed in coconut oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and ultimately topped with browned ground beef and sautéed peppers, carrots, and mushrooms.

fuel sweat grow: zoodles and ground beef

I love this as another grain free option, in addition to spaghetti squash, to create and replicate meals.  Obviously it’s an amazing pasta replacement, but it also works as an amazing addition to scrambled eggs (like below), fajitas, and pretty much anywhere you might want to mix in some greens.fuel sweat grow: scrambled eggs and zoodles

You can definitely expect a series of zoodle heavy recipes to come out of the winter months, so get excited.  You’ll be zoodling before you know it.

While I never really lost touch with my love for vegetables and ‘fridge disposal meals,’ it wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve really focused on creating more in a clean and grain free arena.  The first few months were a little scary, and I missed the meals that I was so used to, but slowly I figured out how to recreate them; how to work with different ingredients, pair different ingredients, and create more flavorful and exciting meals than I ever had before.

This is going to be the winter of amazing meals and I’m inviting you all to dinner, one way or another – so join me with plenty of gratitude, vegetables, and love.

Generosity + Compassion: Creating Impact out of Gratitude

I spend a lot of time focusing in on gratitude; on being thankful for the people, opportunities, and quality of my life – and I should – I’m very fortunate.  However, one thing that can be arguably more important than showing gratitude, is giving to others. Generosity and compassion, the cousins of gratitude, they generate action that speaks louder than any words and have the power to, and have a universally positive impact.  Day 6 of #23to30: generosity pays back ten fold so you can give more – make it part of your growth strategy.

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Sometimes the effort is small; smiling at strangers, holding doors, tipping your barista, walking the dogs at the SPCA in your free time, skipping one mocha a month to donate the few (but impactful) dollars to a great cause.  Show love, receive love, spread love.  It’s easier than it seems, and it doesn’t have to cost a thing.  Other times, the effort is larger; helping a friend in need, mentoring a child (or several), donating to a cause you believe in, giving your time and energy to bring some light to your community (or any community) during a difficult time.  Even the large efforts typically don’t cost anything – and even when they do, the return is greater than you can imagine.

Over the last month our sweet Charlottesville town has been turned upside down, again.  Over the last few years we’ve been slightly unsettled, aware of a lingering dark cloud that could not be explained.  The unknown can often be the biggest threat to security, and it certainly felt that way in our tight community, in this happiest city in the United States.  Despite the darkness, it’s been amazing to see the unity and light that has come from neighbors near and far, the UVa community, and our incredible network of small business owners and clients.  We all feel an ownership and responsibility to protect our sweet home, and that has been so apparent.

During the breaking news in the search for Hannah I followed much of the news from our local NBC29 and Merch Colony, who both provided excellent up to the minute updates.  It was through a comments thread on Merch Colony’s Facebook page that the idea was born to do something (separate to the gallant search efforts this community has participated in), something to bring strength, positive change, and solidarity back into the mix.  At this point, the rest is history, and this event was born out of the generosity of the event sponsors: Sam Spillman from Balanced Chiropractic, Gordon Emery from Charlottesville Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the IX building, and our team at MADabolic Cville.

So here it is my friends, a day of FREE self-defense workshops, open to anyone in the community; anyone who has felt the darkness or been the light here in our beautiful town; anyone who wants to empower themselves or others; just anyone. So join us — all you need to do is sign up here (create an account – takes 30 seconds- and find Saturday October 18th on the schedule to reserve your spot).  We will add more times as needed.  We will be taking donations (mainly items) to benefit the Sexual Assault Resource Agency (S.A.R.A) here in Charlottesville, which is in need of many basic necessities and personal hygiene items for those they help.

Fuel sweat grow: self-defense at IX MADabolic Cville

And as if that wasn’t enough excitement for a little Saturday in October, join us at the United Way (Thomas Jefferson Area) Impact Bash on Saturday night at the Jefferson City Center for a night of guaranteed fun, community, and generous impact right here in Charlottesville.  So much to be grateful for, and even more to be generous with – please join us.

A Head-down, Strategy in Focus, Hard March Kind of Week

There’s nothing like the start of an up hill week to keep you humble.  It’s an amazing thing how Friday can bring such a natural tapering of events and urgency, but Monday never fails to re-open the flood gates.  C’est la vie, I suppose.  Which brings me to #23to30 guideline #6:

fuel sweat grow: humble mondays

 

Over the last year I’ve tried to routinize myself enough to set aside a chunk of time on Mondays for circling back on loose ends and setting a basic plan for the next 5 days.  It’s always humbling, and somewhat overwhelming, to look at the full list of to-do’s, so I like to take a moment (coffee in hand, in immediate route to belly) to make an execution plan.  Workload isn’t something that scares me – believe me, I love to work and I’m terrible at vacation – but I have to have a plan or even smallest sense of organization and structure.  I need a strategy for how and why I am doing things and big picture approach –  without that, I suffer from what feels like a severe adult case of no-freaking-focus syndrome.  I’m pretty sure that’s not an actual ‘medical’ diagnosis, but it should be, because I think all my friends have had it at one time or another (we’re probably just passing it back and forth via viral emails and Facebook posts).

The reality is, no mater what, I’ll eventually get it all done, but I’d prefer to not waste my time (or others’) to get there.  Whether it’s work, life, or a combination therein, it all seems to be about perspective and and vision.  When both of those things are present in the foundation, it’s not so hard to deal with the unexpected, or adjust on the fly.  All in stride, and all with a deep breath, and all with trusty cup of coffee (or beautiful glass of wine).

So far this week has required many moments of pause, coffee drinking, and list-making….and the fact that it’s not even half way over should probably scare me, but thankfully the careful structure of my sweat schedule has added an extra precautionary layer to boost my mental preparedness.

We wrapped up MAD cardio week on Sunday with the longest, most grueling, and most intense hamstring and glute interval that I had felt in a while, so I took today as a rest day with the full-on commitment to my sweats for the rest of the week, as follows:

Tuesday: MADabolic

Wednesday: MADabolic

Thursday:  Run + kettlebells + band stretch (yep, i’ll be posting this)

Friday: MADabolic + Stretch

Saturday: MADabolic + foam rolling / stretch

Sunday: REST.

This weeks focus is a head down, strategy in focus, and a hard march on toward the end-zone as a restart to this final quarter.  The holidays are coming sooner than we think, and it’s time to get prepped, so who’s with me? I’ve got barely three weeks until I turn 30 and you better believe that 29 is going to finish out stronger than it started….and this year has certainly been a big one so it’s go time.

Wine, Apples, Brunch + More: #23to30 Days 4 & 5

This weekend brought Day 4&5 of my #23to30 chronicles, and marked a solid October weekend of both amazing friends and the first convincingly crisp fall air.

Day 4 landed on Saturday, and it kicked off with an abrupt wake up call that was the second to last day of cardio week intervals at MAD Cville. Saturdays, when I’m in Charlottesville, typically always involve taking and teaching the interval, and this week was no different.  While there are some moments when I first wake up that I reconsider this scheduling decision, I have to say it’s by far my favorite day of the week with our community, packing classes with clients from all week-day time slots, always adding a fresh dynamic to the morning.

After class, the second week of patronizing Brazo’s Tacos, the new pop-up taco spot in IX (In the Al Dente space) brought both fuel and happiness into my life, perfectly timed right before what turned into a marathon day of errands and chores.

Thankfully the day ended with some much needed wine with a few of my favorite people, a finale that inspired this #23to30 philosophy for the day:

fuel sweat grow: #23to30 Day 4

All of these things are absolutely true, and just further support the notion that wine = happiness, and since happiness is the basic goal, wine is the foundation for life and prosperity.

Today, Sunday, brings day 5 of the chronicles, and if it’s possible, was end to end one of the best Sunday’s in a long while.  Wake up, grind out a durability interval at MAD, finally have coffee, eat an amazing brunch at the Guptas (the patron saints of Cherry Hill) and then go apple picking with some of the MAD folks? Yes please.

[grain free paleo pumpkin waffles, egg + asparagus fritata, bacon, coffee....brunch perfection]

[grain free paleo pumpkin waffles, egg + asparagus fritata, bacon, coffee….brunch perfection]

Apple Picking at Carter Mountain Orchard with the MAD crew

Apple Picking at Carter Mountain Orchard with the MAD crew

I’ll have to circle back on the specifics of the day because there are many moments worth sharing, but the main focus was enjoying moments with friends; the beauty that we’re lucky to have in our backyards, and all of the subtle thrills of Charlottesville life.   I could write about this all day, and as much as I want to, I also want to keep to the point —  and that is that sometimes it’s important to just take a break for the people and things that are right in front of you — the ones that give content to your life, everyday.

fuel sweat grow: get excited

 

There’s so much to be so grateful for, and positively overwhelmed with, so take a time to make room and celebrate all of the little things that make up your big happy life.  They add up, and more importantly, so do the relationships, making the difference between simply having a life to having an amazing quality of life….and that deserves a little enthusiasm.

Always Go Full-Ass Towards Your Goals

Day 3 of #23to30: Don’t half-ass anything, and be clear about what’s important to you.

I’m perpetually working to keep up the juggling act that is my life; trying not to let anything drop and to give all of my jobs and commitments (to othes and myself) the attention they demand.   When I choose new ventures, my goal is not only for it to be successful, but more importantly, fulfilling.  I learned a long time ago that I have to passionate about what I’m doing to be effective in it, and my success unfailingly runs in direct proportion to how connected I feel to the work content, the people, and the overall balance I’m able to keep across my life. The last thing I want is to waste my time and energy giving marginal effort to something I’m not connected to, or don’t have enough time to give to.
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This year has been a big year for really setting priorities, digging in deeper to the things/places where I find value,  making room for what’s coming next, and becoming clear on what I for any degree of life-balance.   For me it’s work and life.  Outside of the connection to my work, I need the structure and balance of a eating good clean food, being physically active – ranging from the most intense sweats to childs pose – and a little time once in a while to be no where in particular.

  • What’s important?
  • What is a fundamental need to be happy?
  • Where do you want to be?
  • What people and passions fall within the first concentric circle of your life?

I ask myself these questions to help me figure out whether something is important enough to say yes to, or whether it will end up compromising the balance in my life.  While the system isn’t fool proof, and some bouts of passion are just momentary, it does help me to stay a little more focused than I normally would on what I have available for myself, and anyone else.

So after many, many, failed attempts to do and be everything, here’s what I’ve learned to be the most important: know your passion, set your own path, and always, always, go full-ass towards your goals (it’s just a metaphor, mom).

 

Overthinking, Overcoming + Allowing Our Own Happiness

I don’t even want to think about how many hours of my life have been lost to over-thinking, analyzing the pointless, and of course, dwelling on the past.  There’s really no benefit to self inflicting anxiety and fixating on things that can’t change — all you’ll really achieve is killing your own happiness, and who wants to do that?  Not this girl. Obviously, I’m all Namaste, betches.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 9.57.39 PM

I can’t say that I’ve come remotely close to mastering those occasional moments of mental spiraling, or that I’ve evolved to a place of calm wisdom, but I’ve gotten better.  I’ve taken more of a ‘breathe in, breathe out, take a walk, don’t react and find some internal mantra of mature rationale, no matter how far down you have to dig to find it’ approach to getting to the other side.

You’ll win some, and you’ll still lose some, but remembering that each moment you waste on worry and not creating some sort of positive change (or just simple mental silence) is a moment lost.  And that usually brings a little rationale to the situation, however begrudgingly I accept my own advice.

The truth is, we usually struggle with the same issues (constantly re-inventing themselves) and get stuck in our own cycles of overthinking and repetition.  At the end of the day we just need to give ourselves a break.  Let your hair down; don’t sweat the small stuff (but maybe actually sweat it out); simply live and allow yourself to be happy.

Here are my top five rules, and if I ever fully master them, I’ll let you know, but they’re great for a re-focus, or maybe a laugh:

1) If you want to have ice cream, have a damn ice cream.  It’s delicious happy food.  (just maybe don’t have it for every meal…)

2) You’re never too old for a mental health day.  Take one. Or two. And don’t let anyone take that time from you.

3) Take time to celebrate the small victories, a victory of any size is worth a little pause.

4) Don’t question your abilities.  Consider your course, evaluate your approach, and maybe recognize your weaknesses, but don’t ever cheapen your strengths.

5) If you regret it in the morning, sleep later.

My Tribe: Wonder Women + The Countdown to Thirty

Two weeks ago one of our first ever MADville clients, and a pretty freaking awesome professor at UVa, Lisa, made/gave me this Wonder Woman mug for my coffee, of course personalized with my name on it.

fuel sweat grow: Wonder Woman VAL

If you know Lisa, you know that in addition to being an amazing super woman/mom/human who makes her family’s clothes and works out at MAD Cville almost every day at 6am, she’s also the now incredibly renowned and cutting edge Professor at UVa who teaches the Game of Thrones course that caused so much chatter this past summer.  (I mean it…you can check out more about it in these articles from the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone...and even Perez Hilton. There are more, but I think this sampling proves my point.)

Aside from just loving Lisa for all of her unique badassery, I also love her as a part of this amazing tribe of strong, brilliant, and driven women that I’ve been so lucky to surround myself with, and this coffee mug symbolizes that in so many ways.  I’m so grateful for all my Wonder Women.

fuel sweat grow: Wonder Woman

Today is the first day of my Birthday month, which I love, but there’s a slightly different vibe this year.  This year marks year thirty of my life — which I’ve realized I’m much more comfortable spelling out than showing in digits.  While I do feel the full weight of the manufactured milestone that thirty signifies, when think back to 25 and realize that it was just 5 years ago, I feel both slightly exhausted by the multiple life evolutions that I’ve gone through in that short time, and liberated from the weight and struggle of ‘the twenties.’

When I turned 25 I remember telling myself that at thirty I wanted to look better, feel better, and be better than I was at that moment in time.  In the last 5 years I’ve pushed myself, I’ve grown, I’ve built things that I’ve loved and things that I haven’t, but I’ve learned from every moment of it.  I’ve put myself out there, I’ve confronted fears and learned more about loving myself for what pieces of my experience I own.  I’ve walked knowingly into conflict, stood toe to toe with ignorance, and I’ve embraced more vulnerability than I thought my anxiety (or mind) would allow me to.   I not only survived it all, but I’m better for it.  I’m the better version of my 25 year old self that I committed to, and while the road was certainly more challenging than I may have ‘hoped’ for, it got me here, and I am better than fine.

My birthday is the 23rd, and in this final 22 day stretch to the next decade, I’m going to share the top lessons from the last 5 years of growing into adult hood in my own countdown to thirty.

So today on Day 1 of my #23to30 push I’m appreciating the strong women – the peers and role models – who inspire me, empower me, and fill my heart up with the courage and self-assurance to push my goals forward. In a world where competition and insecurity are so prevalent, it’s important to celebrate the soul connections of those who make you better, love you, and not only support what you’ve accomplished to date but also what you’re building towards – flaws and all.  We all need each other, and there’s something so amazingly beautiful about the possibilities when we all work together to create a collective legacy that goes beyond our ‘portfolio’ of work, to bring the power and influence to empower the next generation of women.

So to my own Wonder Women, near and far, thanks for being exactly who/what you are, and for being a part of my own development over the last 5, 10, and 29.99 years.  You’re everything.

Pausing in Maine: Vegan Lasagna + Higher Vantage Points

Life has been stuck on fast forward lately.  Time is moving fast — too fast — and while all the balls still seem to be in the air, I needed to hit a hard pause, away from all the noise.  So, in the spirit of my new theme, ‘reconnection,’ I took off to Augusta, Maine…on this tiny plane.

fuel sweat grow: tiny plane to Augusta, ME

Destination #1: Belgrade Lakes.  My dad’s youngest sibling, my Aunt Patty, as lived here for 20+ years with her family, enjoying what feels substantially like the opposite of my life — and it’s wonderful.

Food and cooking has always been a central bonding force for this side of the family, and without fail, our first catch-up conversations happened in the kitchen a short 5 minutes after my arrival.

The project: vegan lasagna (pretty far out of my carnivorous wheelhouse, but surprisingly awesome).

The How to:

1. Sauce.  The sauce that goes into this dish is a lighter sauce (non-cheese laden) and, in this case, homemade.  [Ingredients: sundried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, fresh red pepper, 1c packed basil, garlic and lemon juice (+ a little water for consistency), all blended together.]

fuel sweat grow: vegan lasagna

2. Zucchini Ribbons: With a peeler, ribbon out zucchini, and spread it across the sauce, slightly overlapping.

fuel sweat grow: vegan lasagna

3.  Vegan Ricotta: Cashews, salt, pepper, and garlic.  Soak the cashews overnight, drain, and give it a whirl in the food processor with the garlic salt and pepper.

fuel sweat grow: vegan ricotta

4. Keep on layering until you’ve got a sweet stack of goodness packed together. Top with a little fresh basil, and then take a DEEP breath in through your nose.  That might just be all you need.

fuel sweat grow: vegan lasagna

Thirty minutes after I arrived in this quiet space we had a full meal packed and ready in the fridge (p.s. the lasagna is no bake — just a raw dish of vegness) and I was in bed before 10pm, which is usually a pipe dream for me.  Sleep was perfect with windows open, and what felt like fall air breezing in.  No alarms, no noise, nothing being demanded or expected from me in the morning, and it was wonderful.

I came down to this sweet note (Aunt Patty is known for her love notes, and even the most logistical ones are chock-full-o-love).  So, as you can imagine, I set forth making myself some coffee and spent the morning taking my time with a few things on my mind, going through the personal to-do lists that I never seem to get to, and ignoring any sense of urgency in the matter.

fuel sweat grow: sweet Maine mornings The rest of the day was spent talking, hiking, eating, cooking, and eating some more. The timeline was flexible, the moments were fluid, and nothing was set in stone.

fuel sweat grow: belgrade lakes, Maine

This was the view on one of our hike/walks, and could not have been more perfect.  Sometimes it’s hard to tune out or even just organize all the noise in our heads (at least it is for me).  I can’t tell you exactly why, but for whatever reason, there’s a clarity that comes from a little higher altitude and a broader view of the landscape.  Thoughts are more clear, perspective is reflective of the higher vantage point, and conversations are more productive.  I’m a believer in the big picture, the root and the purpose of people, moments, and lessons, and what possibilities exist in each experience and choice we are presented with in life — but I’ll be the first to say how damn hard it can be to maintain that mindset when faced with the small moments, minds, and crossroads in life.

This was only day 1, but somehow it felt like it could have been a week, and I’m so grateful for the pause, and such a beautiful place to go and recharge.  Dinner and some more amazing recipes to follow up, but for now, I’m disconnecting.

Kale is King

After this summer I think that I’m going to designate Kale as it’s own food group.  It’s not just that it’s such a nutrient rich plant (or, you know, the most ‘in’ leaf right now; my excitement really revolves around the fact that it keeps so amazingly well marinated in dressing that other soggy and often slimy leftover salads just don’t stand a chance.

fuel sweat grow: kale saladIt’s the easy travel, prep in advance, versatile and vibrant solution to any big dinner and week of leftover lunches.  In a world where healthy and clean eating convenience is so hard to come by, Kale is King.

When I do have time, or at least some time, on week nights I like to keep things pretty simple.  The main objective is easy cooking, and lots of leftovers that lunch is ready to go for a few days and I’m not stuck in a morning, or lunchtime panic at work trying to find something that I can eat. (Add roasted cauliflower and chicken to any kale salad and you’ll be SO happy. promise.)

fuel sweat grow: grilled dinner

So far this week has continued to be sponsored by Kale for lunch (and a couple dinners too) with a little extra flair to keep the variety up.  The base, however, is the same with Kale marinated overnight in fresh squeezed lime, drizzled olive oil and kosher salt.

Today I ate my breakfast and lunch pretty much back to back, so I had some eggs scrambled with squash and steak as an appetizer which truthfully only made the whole experience better since my stomach had been talking to me through three hours of meetings.

fuel sweat grow: kale summer fruit salad

There’s just something about summer fruit that goes perfectly with the lime tartness of the dressing, and the tenderness of the kale leaves, combined with the crunch of sliced almonds seconds that perfection.   For those 10 minutes I was eating, this salad was everything.   I’m pretty much always eating lunch at my desk – or a desk – these days, so having bright happy colors and bold flavors really helps to create a happier experience and a little boost in my day.

fuel sweat grow: work lunch

This past weekend I actually tried my hand at cauliflower pizza crust for the first time, and I have to say, while I’ll definitely make some tweaks to the recipe next time, it was great.  Pizza without the grain, but all the fun of the crust — that’s what I’m talking about.

Since I don’t really eat a lot of cheese, or much dairy at all, these days, the whole thing was a pretty awesome treat, and paired with filet, salad, and some veggies, it was a brilliant Saturday night dinner despite really not feeling well at all (who started circulating this mid-summer cold? because we’re not friends).

I need to read a bit more on how to REALLY get all the moisture out of the cauliflower before mixing together all the dry ingredients.  Sounds easier than it seems, but you’d be amazed by how much moisture it holds in just the raw state without any steaming or added moisture.  As a disclaimer, it’s kind of a messy process (such is the nature of cauliflower in general) so I bypassed pictures for attempt #1, but I’ll be sure to share the whole experience next round.

The rest of the week has been a hodgepodge of leftover meals, a few quick grabs (big hugs to Foodiecall and CPK!).  I’ve got just about an hour left in Charlotte before I make my way back to Charlottesville to get ready for our 1 Year Anniversary Party, and assorted celebrations therein — and I could not be more excited.  It has been a long last month and I’m ready to spend a weekend full of nothingness in my favorite city.

A Celebration of MADness: Charleston Style

Hello, Charleston.  Yep, that’s right, we’re back again, and all in the name of MADness.  We opened the doors to MADabolic Charleston (Mt. Pleasant) in the beginning of June, and this weekend we celebrated the coaches, community, and the complete disbelief that it’s only been 7 weeks.

After an epic Thursday and Friday nights (which I’ll recap later this week) we kicked off the Grand Opening celebration on Saturday with some morning interval action (it.was.brutal.) followed by FREE samples from our friends at modpaleo.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston

I met Amber and Carter, the creators/owners of Modpaleo, a few years ago – just prior to their meal plan launch- when I started to drop into their morning bootcamp in Charlotte for lululemon.   Like anyone who has pushed hard to eat clean,  they recognized the lack of convenient or easy meal options for those days or weeks when you just don’t have the time to spend hours doing prep work.  Thus modpaleo  was born providing amazing chef prepared paleo meals to their pick up locations (in select cities…).

We are now one of their pick up locations in Charleston, and the only one in Mt. Pleasant, so check them out and place an order! The food is amazing, and the convenience seriously can’t be beat.

fuel sweat grow: modpaleo

fuel sweat grow: modpaleo

[coconut curry beef – roasted cauliflower – apricot glazed chicken – YUM ]

fuel sweat grow: modpaleo

After two packed morning classes, and two additional preview classes for new clients, there was just enough time to take a 30 minute nap in between setting up and getting ready to go.

I don’t have all the pictures back from our photographer to really do the whole event justice, but I have to give a huge shout out to the guys from Charleston Choo who catered the event and did an amazing job.  I absolutely loved all the food, and they went beyond what I was even envisioning with the house made dressings and original recipes to fit our locally-sourced and more farm-to-table requests.

Our friends from King of Pops were also there to round out the catering with their sweet treats and signature pops.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston grand opening party

The party was awesome, and a great celebration of our community.  And let’s not forget our awesome founding team of coaches, all of whom made this community (and stream of photos) as ridiculous and fun as it is strong.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston coaches

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston coaches

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston coaches

There’s really nothing as good as a Saturday night well spent with a group of great people.  Thanks Charleston for another awesome weekend.

Monday Coffee + Some Work-Lunch Balance

I’m definitely a fan of three-day-weekends, but there’s something a little painful about it when the short week comes on the front end of the holiday.  Adding an extra weekend day never achieves that extra rest and work catch up that would probably be the responsible time spend.  Instead, adding an extra 30% to the weekend immediately results in a 50% increase of overall wine consumption, sun exposure, and as a combined result, sunglass wearing to compensate for the consequences of both.

That being said, Monday morning brought a pretty harsh snap back to non-holiday reality, so, naturally,  I coped the only way I knew how: with an almond milk latte from Milli Joe.

fuel sweat grow: Milli Joe Coffee

And since Monday’s are tough (and this one didn’t disappoint), I decided to keep the celebration going after work with wine and a catch up friend date at Commonwealth.  I mean, it’s America kids, lets not limit our freedom celebrations to one day in July – celebrate every day and wine when you damn well please.

fuel sweat grow: commonwealth restaurant

And why quit while we’re ahead?  I was bordering on hangry driving while I was looking for parking downtown (which only took about 90 seconds, but they were 90 long seconds), so with my coveted wine I paired up two quick appetizers that proved to be a pretty awesome little meal. [Brussel sprouts and spicy chicken lollipops – try them Charlottesville, they’re both amazing.]

fuel sweat grow: commonwealth dinner

Today was another packed day, so work-life balance quickly translated into a work-lunch balance experiment of trying to eat, type, and strategically mute myself through conference calls to fit in chewing (Kale is NOT a quiet food).

fuel sweat grow: work place lunch

I had actually gotten myself up for the early am classes at MAD this morning to hopefully clear out my schedule for the rest of the day and enable myself to stay in my house with no interruptions, but of course I found myself rolling up to the 5:30 class to check in and take some much needed photos of our clients doing what they do – being awesome.

Dinner was a plethora of leftovers; kale marinated in lemon juice and olive oil, grilled flank steak, cucumber, and avocado.  I’m apparently on a kale binge, which was not intentional, but mostly just a product of some pretty aggressive fridge stocking last week.  Thankfully there’s not much I love better than some really great leftovers, so I’m all for it.

Here’s to hoping that the rest of the week shakes up a little to find some pockets of calm, but I wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway, so I might as well just hope for large periods of productivity coupled with some good food, great company, and MAD sweats.  I’m back to Charlotte next Tuesday so I’m trying to pack in as much time in MADville as I possibly can, and I couldn’t have picked a better line up of intervals than this week.

 

Starting the Week with Sunday

Sundays are the days that I look forward to most – not just because it’s part of the weekend, but because it’s usually the re-grouping day.  It’s the day when my errands happen, groceries are stocked, and the chaos of the last week gets settled so life can be organized.  It’s also the day that I spend the most time in the kitchen, and is arguably the most involved dinner of the week.

Last night’s dinner included a grilled flank steak, grilled chicken thighs, roasted cauliflower (seasoned with sea salt and light olive oil), and a salad with kale (marinated for an hour in lemon juice), cucumbers, slivered roasted almonds, and avocado drizzled with olive oil and sea salt.

fuel sweat grow: sunday dinner

While I like the therapeutic process of Sunday meal prep, the absolute best part about Sunday dinner is Monday lunch.

fuel sweat grow: monday leftovers lunch

I am such a huge kale fan in the summer because I’m on the go so much, and when I’m packing lunch for work it is the ABSOLUTE best and easiest salad to have.  I can make a huge salad on sunday, and leave the lemon juice (or lime juice) and olive oil dressing on it, and it just makes the greens softer and more flavorful.  Other greens just get soggy and slimy with dressing, or wilt when prepared dry in advance.

Today I threw all the leftovers in together to make a sweet combo lunch for work and it was even better than last night.  There’s nothing better than heading into a busy work week prepared with meals and snacks to sustain you, and nothing worse than walking in unprepared and hangry even before the case of the Mondays has sunk in.

This week I’m back in Charlotte after an extended stay back in Charlottesville, and while I’ve got a lot of great things going on this week, it’s hard to watch the HOOS in the College World Series and not miss the homeland.  I took this picture walking over to Friday’s after Five last week, and just love the little piece of the city and the huge part of our community culture that it captures, so please, indulge me for a second with this extra boost of Cville love.

fuel sweat grow: Fridays after five

In other news, I want to send a big congratulations to my dear friend Tracie Chan on opening MADabolic LKN, in the Huntersville/Lake Norman area north of Charlotte.  I absolutely can’t wait to come up an get in on the MADness with her this week, and I hope all of my Lake-living co-workers and friends will check it out too.  Better yet, let’s go together, and then get coffee.  Maybe on Sunday, my favorite day of the week.

 

Work Week Closeout: Friday the 13th

There are good weeks, and bad weeks, and then the weeks that come out of no where to remind you that the universe certainly has a sense of humor (a bonus to the previous 30 years of undeniable proof).  This has been a week of everything, and the fact that we’ve still got one day left actually intrigues me more than anything else — like the mystery surprise in the cracker jack box, or a sneeze…but better.  It’s Friday the 13th y’all, so I’m moving methodically to push through the final day of the work week so I can coast into the weekend.

In addition to being Friday, it is also day 5 of 28toLife for our small real food army, and I’m feeling great.  Wednesday night turned into an impromptu Bachlorette viewing party and post-MAD dinner with some of the usual crew.  The provisions in the fridge were dwindling down to nothing, so I made the best of what was left over, and despite my personal opinion that it could not have been more random, it was voted high on the charts of favorite meals from this group.

[Kale salad with slivered almonds; lime, olive oil, and salt dressing….again]

fuel sweat grow: kale salad

[Broiled/roasted cauliflower and brussel sprouts; touch of sea salt and olive oil]

fuel sweat grow: cauliflower and brussels

[Ground turkey simmered with zucchini.  Period.]

fuel sweat grow: ground turkey

It all seemed like an unlikely (and kind of sad) combination, but together it actually created a pretty awesome meal and got us through what could have been a food shortage crisis.

fuel sweat grow: real food dinner

Last night I met up with a good friend at Commonwealth to catch up so I have nothing new to share on the home cooking front, but stay tuned for some ‘dining out’ options and updates — always a question and a hot topic related to how NOT to become a social recluse and still eat clean.

On the sweat side of things, here’s this week in small snapshots from MADabolic:

fuel sweat grow: MADabolic Cville

fuel sweat grow: MADabolic Cville

fuel sweat grow: MADabolic Cville

 

I still owe a full recap on last weekends MADrave, but for now, I’ll let C-Ville Weekly do it for me with this awesome review of the event.  Now that we’re over the major hurdles of the spring, the MADcharleston opening, and a million other small milestones we can really focus on the next phase of this great fitness family and building off of this first event into a deep and longstanding relationship — my favorite kind.

For now, that’s a wrap and I’m off to complete this work-day, squeeze in a quick run and enjoy a night of drinks with friends, Friday’s After Five, and dinner with my family.  Not too bad for a Friday the 13th, but I don’t want to speak too soon…

Day 1 of 28: Real Food + ‘Real’ Life

Day 1 of 28 is in the books — and it was a great one.

I had done my due diligence of stocking the fridge and cabinets with all of my favorite clean foods and ingredients, but I completely failed on the Sunday prep piece so meals today were a little bit of a scramble (and a lot off schedule) but it all worked out.

I’m not big on early breakfasts, so I typically start myself off with coffee, and today in order to ease my way back into the swing of things I grabbed my favorite almond milk latte from Milli Joe and got to work.  By mid-morning I was ready for some breakfast — Eggs scrambled with zucchini/yellow squash and mushrooms – avocado on the side (standard).

breakfast Eggs

Prior to 28toLife I didn’t eat eggs more than a couple times a week, and now they’re definitely a staple.  I still try to abide by the food pairing rules: Protein (eggs – and sometimes meat); carbs (vegetables); fat (avocado) and it really does make all the difference in how long my energy is sustained and what that level is to begin with.

Breakfast and snacks are always the toughest meals to stay on track with, so I always try to make extra of everything when I do cook so there is something to reach for when I need it.  If you have a quick morning routine, I highly recommend making a big batch on Sunday to grab and go on Monday/Tuesday morning, or even make them while you’re cooking dinner the night before.  Since I typically don’t get hungry until 9 or 10am for actual food, having something to pack and take to work with me is a life saver.

fuel sweat grow: Kale Salad & Stock Provisions

Lunch yesterday came a little late (and rushed) after the 12:15 MAD class, but it turned out to be a winner.  Kale, softened slightly with lime juice (did this first and let it sit for the 10 mins it took to get the rest ready), and avocado, almond slices, hard boiled egg and grilled chicken on top.  The dressing was finished off with a little olive oil and sea salt, and was exactly what I needed.

The background items are two of my new favorite local finds (thanks Elly!): cold brew coffee and fresh farm eggs from Stock Provisions on Main Street (just next to Bellas!).  I’m addicted to cold brew to begin with, but I can’t say enough about how amazing and fluffy these eggs are.  It’s actually disappointing to eat store bought eggs after having experienced these guys.

Dinner came a little later after I helped my parents unload a 16′ truck of furniture into the new, aptly named, ‘summer house’ they closed on the Rivanna in Cville yesterday, adding one more layer to the amazing summer to come (and their retirement winters).  Don’t worry guys, I’ll make sure the pool gets plenty of attention until you get here.

fuel sweat grow: rivanna summer house

Since I had pretty much had two full workouts by the end of the furniture moving sweat session, I just needed a little refuel without getting too complicated.

fuel sweat grow: broccoli slaw, chicken, avocado

Broccoli Slaw sauted in coconut oil, grilled chicken, and avocado.  It was exactly what I wanted, and with a little apple + almond butter later on for dessert, I was all set to close out on day 1 of my return to ‘real’ food.

I’m hoping to carve out a little time tomorrow to get some end of week meals prepped, but until then I’ve got some chicken, salad, and great snack/smoothie options awaiting to keep things on track.

Here’s my sweat schedule for the week!

Monday: MADabolic [+ manual labor] = done!

Tuesday: Run + Stretch

Wednesday: MADabolic

Thursday: MADabolic + Stretch

Friday: MADabolic

Saturday: Run/Walk + Yoga!; Come get MAD with me at 9:30 in MADville!

Sunday: Kickball w/ the MADabolic Team!

 

Returning to MADville + Real [Clean] Food

Last Monday was the official first day of business for MADabolic Charleston, and if you told me it was two months ago, I would believe you, 100%.  The last four weeks have included a ton of travel, way too many hoops to jump through, and a complete and total sense of chaos that is just beginning to settle.  Along with the MADness, there was lots of food — great food — and wine.

The great part of opening fitness concepts is that you typically get to workout a decent amount, but the restaurant hopping really took it’s toll on my energy and overall wellbeing.

Prior to leaving for Charlotte and Charleston I had committed, along with several of our clients in MADville, to kick of 28toLife this week.  While I always tend to teeter on the edge of a modified version, and typically try to eat 80/20, the detox from the last four weeks had me SO incredibly ready to get back into the full routine of planned eating.

On Wednesday night I hit up Trader Joes to get some of the most essential staples for survival.  I had gotten into the habit of making the quick trip to Whole Foods out of convenience, and forgot just how much more expensive it is — which will have to be a post of it’s own.

fuel sweat grow: trader joes grocery cart

So, starting back at the basics, here’s the note that I sent out to our small (but mighty) group of real food freedom eaters to kick off the next 28 days:

The Rules:
-no grains
-no dairy
-no sugar
-no alcohol
-no legumes (soy, beans, peanuts, etc)
Basically, nothing comes out of a box or package.  Below is my most standard grocery list for survival :
- Chicken (breasts or thighs)
- ground beef (or turkey / chicken)
- applegate farms chicken sausage
- yellow & purple onion
- zucchini / yellow squash
- red/orange/yellow bell pepped
- mushrooms
- cauliflower
- celery
- carrots
- spaghetti squash
- avocado (MANY)
- asparagus
- (local) Keswick Gourmet Marinara Sauce (this is the local option at Whole Foods — and they typically carry the most local brand in each market)
- kale
- romaine
- cucumbers
- broccoli slaw (only at Trader Joe’s)
- blueberries
- green apples (usually 6, but if i’m making the streusel recipe about a dozen+)
- bananas
- strawberries
- almond butter
- coconut oil
- sesame seed (or safflour) oil
- coconut oil
- coconut milk (light)
- eggs
- plantain chips (only at Trader Joes — NOT to be confused with banana chips)
- almonds (whole, slivered)
- sunflower seeds
-lemons
-limes
This isn’t totally exhaustive, but for the most part every recipe that I make that is an ‘everyday’ recipe includes these ingredients.  Every once in a while I’ll really branch out, but that’s if I’m trying to follow a recipe from someone else, or get a little creative.  When I do 28toLife everything else (for the most part) gets totally cleaned out and only the good stuff is left, and that makes it so much easier to pick the right things and really prep food.
The easiest thing to do is on a Sunday night (or any night really) make a big dinner with several sides and spend some extra time chopping things up (like zucchini or celery, etc) to have ready for cooking or snacks.  I’ll also usually roast a spaghetti squash or two on Sunday while I have time and will then have it ready in the fridge for meals that I don’t have a ton of time for during the week.
Here’s a post with our favorite quick breakfast option (Apple Streusel ‘Muffins’) which do require some time to make in advance, but are easily kept in the fridge or frozen
This Thai Chicken Stir-Fry is probably my favorite rainy-day or winter meal, but it’s still awesome in the summer with cauliflower rice OR over spaghetti squash. There are no exact measurements, but the feedback we’ve come up with is that adding a little more coconut milk for a thinner sauce is better than a really thick one.
This is by far my favorite meal and the best replacement for spaghetti and meatballs/meat sauce.  It keeps AMAZINGLY well as leftovers, so this is a great one to make in excess and pack up for lunches during the week.
And that’s where it begins.  Tomorrow morning, it begins with breakfast, and most likely the biggest Almond Milk Latte that Milli Joe can make.
Lets do this!

Charleston MADness + Juice Blends

It’s official — MADabolic Charleston is finally open!

MADcharleston

After what felt like endless months of build out and training, the doors are now open and the foundation of this new community has already begun to form.  And it’s been nothing short of amazing.

Thank you Charleston for the amazing reception — and our MADabolic family (flowers courtesy of Tracie and MADabolic LKN) for the support as we open #2.

MADcharleston

MADcharleston

Preview classes were awesome, and we got to christen the space with some packed classes, which is always amazing energy.  If you live in Charleston, have friends in Charleston, or just vacation there, come check it out — we’re here.

I can’t really pinpoint what the ‘best’ part of this whole endeavor is, but I’m pretty sure that just shy of the amazing community, it’s going to be having the excuse to be in Charleston ALL the time.  Things could definitely be worse.

On Saturday, after the two morning classes, I hit up Blend Juice Bar (in Mt. Pleasant) with Dar, Heather, and Mike (two of our coaches at MAD) for a little boost in our energy.  This was an absolutely amazing find, and it’s only been open for about a month.

Blend Juice Bar Charleston

Blend Juice Bar

To start we (each) did a grand slam of juice shots:

1. Red Dragon: lemon, ginger, cayenne

2. Green Dragon: wheat grass, kale, lemon, ginger, cayenne

3. Tiger’s Blood: beet, carrot, ginger

4. Nature’s flu shot: garlic, ginger, beet, cayenne, romaine, jalapeño, lemon, oj, apple, kale, spinach, lemon

Blend Juice Bar

These definitely had a kick to them, and my belly was warm for about 10 minutes following, but we definitely felt awesome.  I HIGHLY recommend checking this place out…and not only for the pure juice.  Their smoothie selection is unreal, and the Green Sweetie might be the best green smoothie I’ve ever had or even dreamed of.

There are so many new spots I loved from this week’s trip and I absolutely love Charleston, but I’m still homesick for Charlottesville and the MADville crew.  I’m back in Charlotte this week for my ‘real’ job, so it’s going to be a little longer, but you better believe I will be ever-so present at Friday’s after Five and of course the MADrave on Saturday night.

It’s both amazing and challenging to balance life between three cities, but I don’t think I could have picked three better places to have an anchor. This is going to be an amazing summer of MADness.

 

Eating Local: Charleston Tour

I’m definitely a creature of habit, with all the potential for an addictive personality – energy that thankfully (usually) gets focused around food and fitness.  This past week was exactly that, all set in the ever-loving and beautiful city of Charleston.  From beginning to end the trip was an exploration, and a somehow stressful break from the normal routine (such is opening a new business), but the food scene and amazing weather made it worth it.   Here’s a quick glimpse into the food tour that became my life, and the sweet local spots we experienced.

Verde:

Salads and wraps — with all the fillings — either tossed or chopped.  This concept is so simple, clean, and done exactly right with quick and convenient and the ‘create your own’ combination(s) had every option i could have wanted.  And if you live in Charleston (or vacation there), it’s all within your reach because they have two spots: mount pleasant and charleston.

fuel sweat grow: verde chopped salads

fuel sweat grow: verde chopped saladI think I ate there 5 times in a week (not kidding) and never repeated the same combination. This summer combination blended their mixed greens with kale as the base, and then added cucumbers strawberries, almonds, grapes, hard boiled egg, and avocado.

I always got the salads chopped, and then played between their chipotle lime vinaigrette and just balsamic and olive oil.  On Wednesday as I was heading out of town I stopped for my last and final visit (for the week) and switched things up with a wrap: base of arugula,  with added cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, hard boiled egg.  Cilantro lime vinaigrette, chopped, and wrapped — it was AMAZING.

Between my trips to Verde, and our time at MAD with the trainers, I also squeezed in some amazing meals out in Charelston:

SALT at Station 22:

fuel sweat grow: SALT at station 22

This spot on Sullvan’s Island is awesome – the perfect higher end and foodie friendly beach restaurant with a great seafood selection, and an incredibly diverse (and delicious) menu — because it actually changes daily.

fuel sweat grow: SALT at station 22

The first night we went there for our MAD management dinner (yes, first night, because I had to go back) I had an awesome arugula salad with beets, goat cheese, and homemade croutons.  For dinner I had their tenderloin special with a pretty awesome sweet potato mash.

The second stop at SALT was actually on the last night and I had the absolute best roasted half chicken of my life — the Roasted Tanglewood Chicken.  The chicken itself was unbelievable, and it sitting atop of a mix of crispy sautéd onion and vegetable and jus.  It was unbelievable.  This will, without question, be a favorite for me every time I’m here.

Graze:

This spot is so close to our space in Mt. Pleasant (in the Whole Foods shopping center right by Pure Barre and Charleston Power Yoga) but to be honest, probably wouldn’t have been on my radar if it hadn’t popped up on Open Table.  As I say that, I want to immediately (and vehemently) say that I will absolutely go back – this place is awesome.

fuel sweat grow: Graze Charleston

This tenderloin entree was honestly one of my favorite meals from recent memory and the roasted cauliflower puree it was sitting on is something that I’m going to have to try and recreate, but I’m certain I will not fully be able to match.

fuel sweat grow: Graze Tenderloin

Low Country Bistro:

Another favorite spot in downtown [Charleston], and the perfect Sunday night dinner.

fuel sweat grow: Low Country Bistro

fuel sweat grow: Low Country Bistro

Dinner was with two of our coaches from MAD, and in addition to the great food and great company, we had GREAT wine – and lets be honest, that’s really all I’m looking for on a Sunday night.

fuel sweat grow: low country bistro

From what I’m told, the Chicken & Waffles are exceptional – it’s a sweet potato bacon corn bread waffle people –  and there ain’t nothing wrong with that….except that it’s not something that would register on my clean eating plan.   For that reason I didn’t even give it the courtesy of a menu skim when we were there but if you’re wondering how I’m feeling about it now — the answer is: slightly regretful.

Crave Kitchen & Cocktails:

Our second to last night in Chuck Town ended at Crave in the Shoppes at Seaside Farms for dinner, and I got the slight indulgence I had been waiting for.  Chicken Marsala over an amazing risotto, with broccoli and sautéd spinach on the side.  I actually took most of this back to the hotel with me and never managed to finish it, but what I did have was awesome.

fuel sweat grow: crave charleston

This place was a really unexpected treat, and from what we learned, the chef, Landen, happens to have an affinity for paleo-esque clean eating, so they’re definitely on our short list to cater the Grand Opening Party for MAD (save the date: July 19th).

All in all, from a food standpoint, this trip was an absolute success.  From a getting the doors open standpoint — well that hasn’t exactly happened on an even remotely reasonable timeline, so I’m just going to focus on the food — the delicious and saliva inspiring food.  Our last team trip in February was full of equally as impressive spots that I definitely want to go back to (Stars and The Grocery, for instance), so Charleston is quickly climbing the ranks as one of my favorite restaurant cities of all time — and I’m okay with that.

I’ve been back in Charlotte for a few days now and head back down to Charleston this Wednesday to hopefully get the doors open at MAD with our team there, and then will finally make my way back to Charlottesville.

Now, for the most important part of this post — any suggestions for awesome places to eat in Charleston?  I’m assembling my to-do list for the next year, and that food tour is definitely on on it.

 

 

Mother Nature is Doin’ Her Thang + So are We

The end of this week was a little of everything, but it ended up being pretty productive and it was for that sole reason that I was able to breathe a little easier on Sunday and finally got myself organized right before my pending work travel to Charlotte.  So naturally, my trip was cancelled on account of mother nature deciding to spread the snow love to a full week event…and in a much broader geographic range than she usually prefers.  I get it sister, it’s still winter, so make the most of your wildest season of business – I can respect that, so I’ll just find a way to embrace all my happy things right in stride. fuel sweat grow: ciders and flower Since I didn’t make it to Charlotte for work, it really just meant that instead of being in an in-person meeting for 8 hours, I was on a conference call, straight through for 8 hours.  You know what that means? Yep.  It means my inbox is currently the most organized it has ever been, my OneNote skills took a massive upswing today, and there are about one million old files shredded in my garbage can right now.  And it was worth it. It was worth every last second of that phone call to be able to look into my office and feel a sense of organization, calm, and overall bliss — and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Since I knew it was my last chance to get out of the house and sweat for a while, I committed to the 5:30pm class — and I’m so happy I did.

I love this place, it’s like a second home, which makes sense since we built it to feel that way.  I’m there enough that it pretty much is my personal rec-room, but it’s the people that make that so worthwhile.  We seriously have the best trainers, and that’s only getting enhanced by all of the fine b:core folks that have come on board [including the non-barre side staff soon to be announced].  I happened to snap a pre-snow photo, and then during one of the breaks in class tonight managed to snap more of a real-time snow moment from the same view.

fuel sweat grow: February Snow Day

fuel sweat grow: february snow day

Both photos provide a little perspective change from the norm of looking in, but both pretty significant to me for how this business is positioned. Yes I mean that literally in the photo, but mostly metaphorically as the foundation for all the rest to come out in the larger world. Outside these doors, but never too far away from the passion, lies the intent and serious commitment to what has been built here and the people who have been so integral in building it.

I’ve been working on a number of exciting future projects lately, and the one thing that keeps coming up and I keep coming back to is just how amazing our MAD-core family is. What makes me/us so proud to not only stand with them in these ventures, but also to grow and evolve with them in staying true to our mission, goals, and full commitment to not only build great community but maintain the integrity of a foundation.  For us that is not only about perpetual learning, but in really embracing the ‘why’ behind all that we do.  We are constantly challenged and pushed by our trainers to know more, be more, solution for more, and I wouldn’t (or couldn’t really) have it any other way and still feel or be remotely legitimate in this business.  This is both an incredibly exhilarating discussion point in the fitness industry right now, and an incredibly scary one, all depending on what surrounds you, so I’m so thankful every day to be surrounded by the passionate few who are not only hungry for it, but seek it out.

So, anyone ready for a little comic relief? I’m pretty much always game for a little laugh, this definitely got my attention today as I found myself pacing my office and standing at my desk to take meeting notes and manage chaos, reluctant to sit down.  Our bodies have an intuition about them, and our hip-flexors have a short fuse (get it?), so I’m a huge proponent for finding that balance….just maybe a little toned down from actually walking right out of my job…but to each his own.

Tomorrow has essentially already been declared a snow day for most of Charlottesville (MAD morning classes included) so despite the fact that I’m going to be on another call for 8 straight hours, I’m fully ready to embrace all the good things that are set up for the evening, and maybe, just maybe I’ll do a little sneak reveal of some of what’s to come.  No promises, but you never know.  Either way, I’ve got a lot of new content coming out with a little more of an informative approach as I merge into a new content venture and fitness editorial approach for some other things I’ve been working on for a while.  So hang in there, we’re about to get a little technical up in here.