Nights on the Town; Chuck Town

The weekend recap posted yesterday really only did justice to the Saturday portion of the weekend.  It did nothing to share the tremendous nights leading up to the Grand Opening Party.

I blew into Charleston Thursday evening after the longest short-day of work I’ve had in a while, and was ready for a night out on the town.   It’s about 3 hours on the nose from Charlotte to the Holy City, and by the time I whipped out of my office I was already in a mad rush (pun intended?) to get here in time — and I made it with a 10 minute turnaround from bag unloading to our departure time for dinner.

Our coach Donna, and her husband Tim (the unofficial mayor of the 6am MAD class), were the guides for the evening food tour — and they were amazing  [If there was ever a human that Dar would share her Mayor status with, it's Tim.  None of the rest of us are worthy].

We started with drinks at Charleston Grill, and moved on to dinner at FIG, one of my new favorite Charleston restaurants – and for good reason.

I would have happily eaten anything on the menu, but to avoid overwhelming gluttony, I went with the heirloom tomato salad and the steak that was included on that day’s menu.  Both were amazing.

fuel sweat grow: FIG Charleston - tomato salad

fuel sweat grow: FIG Charleston

The end of dinner scene looked something like this (I think had 5 of my own wine glasses?), a true sign of a great night — but it didn’t end here.

fuel sweat grow: FIG charleston Wine

After dinner at FIG we marched on to Palmetto Grill to raise the bar on what gluttony means on a Thursday night, and dove fork first into four of their top desserts — including the (in)famous Coconut Cake.  This damn Coconut Cake is so amazing that it doesn’t even require refrigeration (read: BUTTER) and is most definitely a dangerous gateway drug.  If you haven’t had it, avoid it like the plague; if you have, may god have mercy on your soul.

fuel sweat grow: FIG Charleston

The transition from Thursday to Friday came FAR too quickly, and the 12:15pm class that I struggled through might as well have been a 4am class, but it was worth it.  There’s nothing like a little anaerobic MADness to shock the body back into action.

Friday’s recovery lunch was provided courtesy of Charleston Choo, our Saturday night event caterers for the MAD Charleston Grand Opening Party, and it was perfection.  They were parked in their caboose just a few blocks from MADabolic in Mt. Pleasant, which was lucky since I was about 3 minutes away from a total state of hangriness.

fuel sweat grow: Charleston Choo Wedge Salad

fuel sweat grow: Charleston Choo

I had a wedge salad, followed up immediately by a hamburger on a lettuce wrap with bacon, tomato, onion, and a fried egg to top it off.  It was the perfect blend of a hangover helper and a good carb / fat / protein blend to serve as afternoon fuel.  Again, if you haven’t checked out our buddies from Charleston Choo, do it.  Find them wherever they may be squatting in the Holy City and grab a bite.  You can thank me later — just as I’ll take this moment to thank Scott from Charleston Food Bloggers for recommending them!

Friday Night was another amazing night hosted by Donna and Tim — but this time at their beautiful house with our coaches for a little development.

fuel sweat grow: MAD coaches development

The full details of conversation, learnings, and the amazing amazing culinary masterpieces of Tim, ‘Mayor of MADcharleston,’ will be coming later this week since I’m far too much of a goals / strengths / development dork to summarize it in a few short sentences.

Needless to say, this was a strong start to the four day weekend that was rounded out with a little more Charleston, fun with our coaches and clients, and a lot more gluttony– because everyone needs a vacation, no matter how short.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

[Foam] Rolling Through Another Cville Weekend

On Tuesday afternoon I thought that this week may never end, but now, as we get ready to turn the page to what then was ‘next week’, I’m realizing that I’m already behind on tomorrow.

We’ve already ‘rolled’ through our Foam Rolling Clinic with Airrosti at MADabolic (Charlottesville), and are just under a week out from our Grand Opening Party at MADabolic (Charleston) – which if it’s anything like that community, is going to be incredible all around.  I’m heading back to Charlotte on Tuesday to squeeze a few days in the office before heading to Charleston.   Since I’ll be gone for the rest of the month,  I’ve been packing in every last second of Cville summer life while I can.

There are parts of my split and transient life that I love; the amazing friends, communities, and teams that I get to look forward to seeing in all the Charl-cities that I land in – but it’s the transitions out that are hard.   And of course,  leaving my little love bug behind is the absolute worst (even if she is so pre-occupied with her camp friends and holding down the fort in ‘her office’ at MAD to probably even notice).

fuel sweat grow: Bug Says MADness

After my much needed R&R on Monday, I got back into the MAD intervals on Tuesday and Wednesday, both of which were absolute crushers.  My arms and legs were so sore by Thursday that I had to make a point to walk around my office every 30 or so minutes, standing during conference calls, and finally at 6pm managed to run it out with a slow and steady 5 miles.  Friday was off in preparation for what was a very, very, MAD weekend.

Saturday morning the weekend crew was out in full force with waitlisters on deck to get in to all classes, as well as the Foam Rolling Clinic with Airrosti.  I played coach support and amateur photographer in the 8:30 class, and got to sweat it out in the 9:30.

fuel sweat grow: MADabolic Intervals

The Foam Rolling Clinic was led by Page, our favorite Airrosti guru and client, and was so unbelievably needed by all of us – judging from the groans and nauseous looks that were spread across the room.  Our community is so incredibly committed to our intervals and intensity, the clean eating we love to promote, and the strict rules about being on time and doing the full warmup, but its so much less prevalent to see anyone take more than a few quick minutes to really work-out the days work with a little foam roller or lacrosse ball.  And I’m fully open to the reality that I’m probably the worst – over the last year my yoga attendance has decreased by several thousand percent, and stretch class?  I wish.   This is definitely something that I’ll be talking more about (and committing completely to) to give back a little love to my body that I ask so much of.

Today was the first weekend that I’ve been in Charlottesville where I haven’t made it up to at least check in with the classes, but I just needed a morning to sleep, and slowly prepare for the day; long coffee, dog time, and then my favorite home cooked eggs for breakfast.

We had a 1pm kickball game – yes, that’s right, we have a MAD kickball team, made up of just a small sample of our awesome clients, friends, and coaches.

fuel sweat grow: MAD kickball

fuel sweat grow: MAD kickball

fuel sweat grow: MAD kickball

We’re not exactly Championship bound, but we do have a perfect record (it’s all how you look at it …backwards helps), but it’s a great group and a really fun way to sweat a little differently.

After the game I actually hit up MAD to get my sweat in for the day, just a little bit off the grid.  Heading there I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do – would it be today’s interval that I missed, or the one coming up for tomorrow?  In the end I decided on my own flashback to college, full out slideboard interval series that I would do with my strength coach as part of my cross-training and rehab when I was injured.  I needed a little break from weights, and it was perfect – details coming in the next couple days on what it all entailed after my Apollo Ono stance was put into action.  I think I missed my calling….but I also think I seriously missed the height cap for that sport, so I’ll settle for just living the dream when I can in the privacy of my own workout.

fuel sweat grow: slideboard speed skaters

To wrap up this very incomplete summary of an amazing weekend (including also Sarah Bareilles live at the Pavillion and dinner at Bella’s); here’s the short story of Sunday night dinner, as I love to make it with as many leftovers as I think the week can possibly handle:

fuel sweat grow: sunday night dinner in cville

[Steak (fresh ribeye, and flank steak from Whole Foods); brussel sprouts and broccoli slaw, both sautéed in coconut oil with a little crank of himalayan sea salt on top; roasted/grilled cauliflower; and a kale salad with cucumber, avocado, and a fresh lemon juice and olive oil dressing.]

All in all, it’s been a crazy-beautiful Charlottesville summer weekend and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Charlotte, I think I might actually be ready for you this week – and I’m certainly ready for your yoga.

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.

 

 

Hello Charleston, Lets Get MAD

Where to begin? I think it was Alice in Wonderland that taught us all that it’s usually best to begin at the beginning, so, I will.

I spent the first half of the week in Charlotte tying up every loose end I could think of, preparing to head down to Charleston by Wednesday.  I had my mobile workstation in tow, and with the help of the coffee/smoothie bar at Whole Foods, I powered through everything on my list (I hope).

fuel sweat grow: working morning

By the time Thursday afternoon rolled around and I was officially on PTO, I was so very ready to shut down my mobile work station and take in our new home of the MADness — and the girl was there, awaiting my arrival.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston welcome entrance

We have been pretty delayed in our buildout which has (and always has) led to some anxiety and discontent in the ranks, but we started to get back on track Thursday and can hopefully set our preview week (FREE class) schedule in the next couple of days.  The bright side of the extra time is that we’ve had full availability to spend more time with our trainers to fine tune their coaching, our methods, and the operational procedures that we’ve developed over time in Charlottesville that can luckily kick off day 1 at this location.

fuel sweat grow: trainer training

The past 6 days have been constant work, development, learning, and thankfully, training for this whole group.  We don’t hire ‘trainers,’ or ‘fitness professionals,’ because we’re not just a gym with exercise classes (and because both terms are so generic and overused that they’re virtually meaningless at this point).  We’re a training facility, with a focus on training the everyday athlete.   Our target market ranges from the recreational sweater to the elite level athlete, and everyone in between. And as such, we require coaches – real, knowledgable, credible, fit and inspiring coaches – and that requires not only finding the right people, but providing perpetual training, development, and opportunities for them to better reflect and embody the product and lifestyle that we believe in.

I shot the below photo during one of our board talk/interval training segments, and just can’t get past the symbolic nature of the lighting.  This team, and this facility is still living in the shadows: of the hype, of the branding, and of all the unknown that exists outside of these four walls and these 6 coaches.

fuel sweat grow: trainers

In the next two weeks the doors are going to open, the classes will begin, and all the bodies that walk in the doors will be experiencing the product (obviously) but more importantly they will experience the community, the structure, and overall energy feed that we aim to deliver.

We’ve been so spoiled with our staff in Charlottesville that it’s unreal.  We have the best coaches we could have hoped for, and they make us better every single day.  They are the energy that our clients’ experiences and that our overall success is derived from.  The staff in Charleston is going to be amazing, and they are ready, but still don’t know what they don’t know — and that’s the most exciting part.  The next month is going to be crazy fast, and before we know it we’ll all be standing at the Grand Opening party with our brand new community, and a full month of new learnings, and a wide open road ahead.  I remember the beginning so vividly in Charlottesville that it’s completely insane to me that it’s almost been a year.

Which brings me to the much needed, never-long-enough, and just plain delightful non-work portion of this ‘vacation.’

fuel sweat grow: Charleston pool time

I’ll touch back more fully on this later, but we’re staying at the Wild Dunes Resort (I know, cry for me), just for a few days to break up the trip, and it is exactly what I needed.  Sun, beach, pool, and drinks – it was definitely not a bad way to start the weekend.

This morning was another training morning up at the space with a couple hours of coaching discussion and demoing, followed by the same interval that was being done in the other (open) locations this morning…just so no one felt left out.   While it was definitely more of a day of work than a day of rest, it was awesome to sweat with the group and detox from all of the absolutely killer food (+ wine) i’ve been consuming since I got here.  Restaurant reviews are a must, and will definitely not disappoint, since I’m pretty sure I’ve been eating better than anyone on the planet the last few days.

If we weren’t missing our Charlottesville group so much, we might never leave.  But, we are, and I can’t WAIT for the MADrave coming up on June 7th at our Charlottesville space in the IX building, so if you haven’t signed up already, get on it.  I’ll be there, glowing brighter than the sun.

 

Babies, Mothers, Sun and Home Cooking

There’s something to be said for weekends of constant motion — the kind that can take you so far out of the day-to-day that you actually get a break from  the routine.  That was this weekend in Charlotte, and as I sit here wrapping up the last few hours before I check in to next week I’m so aware and grateful for the last 48 hours of reprieve.

Saturday morning started with an early walk with a friend, and party preparations for baby shower brunch. In between the chaos of getting the house ready and getting myself ready (I was all kind of messy by that point) I inhaled some eggs scrambled with a left over zucchini, carrot, mushroom, and ground beef sauté.

fuel sweat grow: Saturday Breakfast

The shower was beautiful (and the company, amazing) but if you know the party hosts and their combined personalities, this would not be at all surprising.  The party favor is just a mere detail, and adorable at that — OPI nail polish aptly named ‘it’s a girl.’

fuel sweat grow: baby shower gifts

My typical Saturday morning routine involves working out and spending the greater part of the day in what seems like a spandex uniform so it was a great change of pace to be productive and dressed in real clothes before noon.  The afternoon was spent talking, eating, gifting, and generally appreciating the good company.

In a complimentary and lucky sequence of events, thanks to today being Mother’s Day, the opportunity presented to have yet another great break from reality.  With our Charleston MADabolic location opening soon and more than enough work happening on all fronts, simplicity and ease on a Sunday was exactly what was needed.

I had a few logistical to-do’s to get done in the morning, which happened even more smoothly and easily than I ever could have hoped, and by 1pm I was headed back to Casa Moertel for an afternoon of sun, aka my perfection.

fuel sweat grow: weekend leisure

Sunday dinner is kind of my thing, and this weekend proved no different so we brought forth a very clean menu to close out the weekend and get this next week started right.

There was salad with Romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, and chopped almonds.  Simple, classic, and exactly what was needed.

fuel sweat grow: summer salad

The big salad bonus was a vanilla balsamic vinegar that Billy had mingling in his collection, which gave a very unique flavor to the simple ingredients.

fuel sweat grow: vanilla balsamic

To go with the salad Dar grilled everyone Ribeyes, and cauliflower was broiled with olive oil and salt until aldente.  It was perfection.

fuel sweat grow: broiled cauliflower

fuel sweat grow: sunday night dinner

All in all the weekend was a great reprieve from the every day, and the perfect prelude to what will be a week of work, travel, and an actual vacation (I hope).   It’s also a week back to working out with a long anticipated and planned new playground in Charleston, so let’s get this all started.

 

Maybe Everything: Returning to Passion with My HOOS

This has been a pretty exciting year of athletics for everyone in Charlottesville, or anyone who has ever been connected to UVa.  There were moments in the middle of the numbingly long winter where the only thing cheering our hearts and warming our blood was the basketball team that went on to win the ACC Championship and make waves in the NCAA tournament for the first time in far, far too long.

Now, here we are, just a few months later, staying up nights to watch the baseball team win their way to the College World Series finals.  Yes, it’s a great year to be a Wahoo (though, isn’t is always?) and while I’ve lost hours of sleep ( and years off my life)  anxiously staying up to watch the extra innings, I couldn’t be more aware of how proud I am to be a Wahoo.

Virginia_Cavaliers

More than winning, the real value of the excitement comes from how it brings us together; it reminds us of our first adult roots and the collective identity that drove our passion in our early twenties.  At this point in life the only thing that is ironically predictable are change and insecurity.  Relationships, jobs, cities – they are constantly changing – and suddenly it becomes apparent that the most stable years of our adult lives may truly have been the four-ish years we spent as undergrads, bleeding orange and blue and enjoying the steady bubble within Mr. Jefferson’s university.   Game day brings back our security, it reminds us we are a part of something bigger than just ourselves and this single moment in our own lives.  It reinforces that we are a part of this family that continues to grow;  a growing legacy of hearts beating for the same thing — and you know what? It feels damn good.

I have zero idea how tonight’s game is going to turn out, or if we’ll become the National Champions or not, because on some level it [almost] doesn’t matter.  These teams have already inspired us to dig down, remember where we came from, and hopefully feel a little more inspired tomorrow as we plug away wherever we are in our lives and the world.

That was a little bit of a soap box moment, but that’s just where I am.  I am inspired; I’m reminded of everything I love (and loved) about Virginia, what I poured my heart into while I was in school, and what I wanted to accomplish with my life and that passion when I walked down the lawn and carried myself into my future.  Which all begs the question of the moment –  when this passion is remembered and the energy is raw, what’s the plan?  I’ve leveraged that strong foundation to get to this place, to get to right now…. so what’s next?  Maybe everything.