Fueling Up: Greens, Eggs + Sweet Potato Noodles

I’m not sure what’s in the air, or if it’s just the sheer fact that it’s cardio week at MADabolic, but I feel hungry all the time.  ALL the time.  I’m usually slow to start in the morning, not grabbing any real food until I’ve had ample time to get coffee, settle in, and assess the schedule for the day.  This week, I have one objective, and it’s to get food into my body.

While vacation is great in concept, any travel where there’s no kitchen is always challenging for me, so the last few months have been hit or miss for me.  My first destination when I got back into Charlottesville was to hit up the grocery store, and I did just that — hard.

Whole Foods here (and maybe everywhere?) has this awesome kale slaw in the juice / chopped veggie section that also has shredded cabbage, carrots, broccoli (sometimes) and green onion that I seriously can’t get enough of.  I’ve historically used it to make salad and sides for dinner, but it just so happened that I was craving it one morning, so I went hot with it.

Sautéed in some coconut oil ad seasoned with a little sea salt, my little green friends made a turn for the even more delicious, and perfectly accompanied my eggs.

fuel sweat grow: green eggs and bam

I’m calling this ‘green eggs and BAM’ because it was totally a power breakfast that I needed to get myself going. It’s going to quickly become clear that I was loving on kale this week, but I’m still not sick of it, so no apologies here.

The thing that really started my love affair with kale was it’s amazing relationship with all things citrus, and the fact that you can absolutely douse it in lemon/lime/orange juice based dressing and it didn’t become slimy or sad.  In fact, while it does soften (thankfully), it seriously takes on the flavor and tartness of the dressing, and that always makes everything more delicious.

This salad wasn’t anything particularly special; just kale, blueberries, cucumber, and some leftover grilled chicken to give it a little boost — but to be honest, it didn’t need anything else [the dressing was fresh squeezed lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt sprinkled].  It stood just fine on it’s own, and was a great partner for my new favorite thing: sweet potato noodles.

fuel sweat grow: summer kale salad fuel sweat grow: kale salad and sweet potato noodles

I’ve long been loving on zoodles and spaghetti squash, but I never really took the time to dive hard into the sweet potato arena. I think this ignorance was in part because the first time I did 28 to Life I convinced myself that sweet potatoes were on the naughty list (I was later corrected….but not until much much later).  Recently I’ve been seeing more and more meals pop up on blogs, and also on MODpaleo’s menu that are centered around them, so I figured it was worth a shot.  And worth it, it most certainly was.

I sent those sweet P’s through the spiralizer and then sent them straight into a pan with some ghee (yeah, it’s butter folks, and it was delicious).  In case you can’t tell, just writing about this meal is making me hungry all over again, so I definitely recommend it.   I also recommend the (RED) meals on the MODpaleo menu, because they’re amazing too [and friends that use the code MadnessCville get 10% off their first order, so get after that…stat].

I did get after it again with the spiralizer again, with an awesome new thai cucumber noodle salad that I made last night, but that one is going to have to wait because it was too good to rush through.

fuel sweat grow: cucumber thai noodle salad

Now that I’m back to cooking and feeling a little more food-stable, I’m pretty excited to start playing around with some old favorite recipes and clean them up – at least as much as is reasonable.

I’ve got a goal to make one new recipe each week, minimum, and hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be rolling through a whole new cycle of favorites.  But who knows, if I stay hungry like this I’ll probably hit that full 52 new recipe marker a lot sooner than I projected.  If you’ve got any favorites of your own, shoot them over — I’m most definitely taking suggestions.

Local Loves: Hellos, Goodbyes + See ya Laters

This past weekend was all about local living and embracing the beginning of the new, and finally a weekend (though just barely) to check in on Charlottesville.  New chapters, jobs, businesses, and lives; there is so much change happening these days that it’s sometimes hard to keep up with it, and it’s damn near impossible to anticipate.  But, thankfully, the first adventure of ‘the new local’ came by way of Brazo’s Tacos, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

fuel sweat grow: brazos tacos

Last summer when Brazos popped up temporarily in the IX building for 60 days, they became the 60 best days of summer.  Locally sourced ingredients, clean and delicious, and so freaking convenient to MADabolic that sweat + tacos began to define the MADlifestyle.

fuel sweat grow: brazos tacos

This summer, especially with the impending addition of b:core right around the (other) corner, it’s so huge that Brazo’s has set up shop — for good.   Sweat it out, taco up, and shake it off….all in a days work at IX.  Plus, I mean, can you really beat the indoor/outdoor friendly vibe?  Taco ’bout a sweet new spot, right?

fuel sweat grow: brazos tacos

After that taco action and a quick (and fun) check in with our photographer for b:core to plan some awesome projects, it was off to Pippin Hill for an afternoon of goodbye and good luck to Elly, our lead trainer at MAD in Charleston who is leaving us for new love, life, and adventures in dog mommying — which trumps most other things, in my opinion.

We were a little late with the pictures so we missed a whole lot of the crew, but these jokers managed to stay to the last minute to join in on our quick snapshot of beautiful Viriginia.

fuel sweat grow: elly goodbye pippin hill

And if it wasn’t just organically beautiful enough of a day, our friend Bill who happens to be the Chef at Pippin, made sure that we were taken care of — and free of the un-paleo menu anxiety that typically plagues so many MAD lives.  Pumping up some serious veggies, with honestly the most amazing hummus I’ve ever had, was definitely not a bad place to start.

fuel sweat grow: pippin hill food

Then this happened — along with other incredibly amazing and saliva inducing dishes that rocked our world (including the non-paleo but very-life changing homemade bananas foster that pretty much changed our lives.

fuel sweat grow: pippin hill food

I don’t have a picture of the dessert because honestly, while my heart and soul will never forget the moments we shared, my mind was desperately trying to wipe it from memory so I didn’t go to a dark place of addiction and full on NEED.

So, instead, I (eventually) put down my spoon and finished off my wine to appease the now full blown sugar craving that I just made happen.

fuel sweat grow: pippin hill

Sunday brought a return trip to Charlotte that was a little too quick for my liking, but with just one day separating me from vacation I managed to push through it, and just to give myself that little extra boost, I made a stop in my happy place (Erin McDermott’s Jewelry Studio) for a little Suki love and jewelry stockpiling to round out my packing.

fuel sweat grow: erin mcdermott

Since I pretty much only wear Erin’s jewelry these days, this trip was about rounding our my outfits specifically, and pairing up some new things with some of my favorite old pieces — and here’s what we came up with.

fuel sweat grow: erin mcdermott jewelry

I seriously love love these, and also LOVE how they’re going to pair with my outfits, so I guess I’m finally ready for vacation.

While I’m going to miss the mainland — mostly the four legged creatures that are being left behind — I’m most certainly not going to miss all the other garbage that comes along with too much chaos.  I’ve got a lot going on, and a lot coming down the pike, so a little re-boot is definitely in order.

Charleston Turned 1 + We’re all MAD

It’s hard to capture all the nuances of the last few weeks in just a few short posts (because lets be honest, time is a bit of a scarcity), but hopefully I can do a little justice to the amazingness that is our Charleston team, and last weeks celebration(s) to wrap up the first year of MADness in the Holy City.

Of course, I worked, and thankfully this time I was able to move my full work station off the counter and on to my brand new favorite desk that I miraculously found here on Overstock and loved it in person way more than I even liked it online, which never happens — believe me.fuel sweat grow: charleston work station and deskWhile it was a little bit of a chaotic week for me (work wise) to be away from my normal routine, I have to say it was definitely nice to have something to look forward to at the end of the day – switching up from my typically preferred morning sweat routine.  It could be the salt air that makes afternoon classes seem more energy-rich, or maybe it’s just the people, but I had the best time sweating next to everyone that rolled in and out of my group, with special props going out to my all-star ‘ride and die’ group for our #MAD100 celebration on Thursday.

If you follow us on Facebook you’ll know that we typically have at least two MADones hit 100 classes each week, a pretty impressive feat for those who have been with us for less than a year.  We view it as an honor — for US — to have such awesome and committed clients rocking it out in our intervals, and wanted to acknowledge that mutual respect, of course, in the form of an invite only private interval for those very MADones who’ve rocked 100 (plus some).

And for the record; this wasn’t just any run of the mill sweat – we made sure of that.  It is anaerobic month after all — and believe me, I haven’t met an easy day in it yet.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston MAD100 private intervalWe’re talking about our group of die hards — and while there are certainly some newer faces chomping at their heels — these are the founding faces of our community and we are so freaking happy to have them walk through the doors every day.  Now, I’m not going to spoil the fun surprise of how (absolutely) awesome the photos from the interval turned out, so you’ll have to stay tuned to our FB page to see them trickle in here and there until they’ve each had their moment in the sun.

Of course, we’ve also got our coaches.  Our awesome coaches, founding and novice, who have all added their own personal touch to how we do things, what we value, and most importantly — what’s coming next.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston team photo 2015

I think it pretty much goes without saying that our newbies are settling in quite nicely – in part because they’ve been pillars in this community since the beginning, but in part also because I’m pretty sure they were just born awesome, which certainly makes our jobs much easier.  But in case you had any doubts, here are a few of my favorite outtakes, which I’d conversely term as the ‘definite keepers.’

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston team photos 2015

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston team photos 2015

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston coaches outtakes 2015

So, in a nutshell, last week was awesome, despite the fact that I spent the majority of my week days holed up for work in a pretty dark room.  It’s amazing what a little sunshine, a new (favorite) desk, and a couple parties can do to pull a girl out of a rainy day rut.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of making the end of this first year so positive and strong, and to all those whose energy and commitment has already made the start of year 2 even better than we could have imagined.

I’ve still got plenty of updates on food in Charleston and some more gratitude for our extended community, but this was plenty for today.  In summary: work is bearable if your desk is cute enough, sunshine and parties cure all ills, and every damn one of the people that make up our community is MAD, and that’s exactly how it all should be.

The ‘On the Go’ Chronicles: Food + Love Edition

Life, lately, has been on the go — to say the least. Work and travel are the two main constants, and my long-time skills of throwing together quick meals for ‘on the go’ (or more accurately ‘on the clock’) have been more useful than ever.  The days of hurriedly eating over the sink have been pushed aside by the days of eating at the computer and at a stop-and-go pace that supports conference calls, emails, and all the other distractions that dominate the day.

fuel sweat grow: food on the go

I have a ton going on at all of my jobs right now so that seems to be a dominant theme in my life, and something that I’m both trying to balance and desperately organize so I can breathe a little easier.  I think what I’m working towards is more of an impossible mirage than it really is an achievable goal, but that’s pretty fine by me.  Landing somewhere in the middle is still somewhere closer to fine, and that’s still progress.

On days when things are beyond crazy, it’s not that abnormal for my eating schedule to be off, so I’ll either need a little snack to make up for an off-schedule, or to help me power through the mid-afternoon yuck that is 3pm.  Recently this little tomato / chicken / avocado salad has been my go-to with a little balsamic glaze and a crank or two on the sea salt.

fuel sweat grow: on the go snack avocado salad

Since I’m typically a proponent of over-grilling (in quantity) meat to force the possibility of leftovers, this is particularly appealing to me.  The balsamic glaze part is a little newer to me – not in concept, but mostly in obsession.  I went Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things for Memorial Day and they happened to be grilling avocado and watermelon out front, and sampling them both with the glaze.  I’m nothing if not a sucker for a tasty sample, and moments later I had all three items planted in my cart, all before I even stepped foot in the store.

Which takes me to my next obsession of the moment, and an incredibly simple throw together salad if you have the ingredients in ‘prepped and ready’ mode in the fridge.

fuel sweat grow: watermelon arugula salad

I’ve always LOVED watermelon, so this watermelon + arugula salad is seriously the best thing of my life.  Slightly modified for a stricter 28toLife/Paleo approach, it’s just a bed of arugula tossed in olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, topped with watermelon chunks, blueberries and chopped mint (not pictured).  It’s freaking good, and if you want to add in a little extra with some cheese or other snacks on top, have at it.  I’m pretty sure it is beautiful no matter how it is dressed up.

This past week has spanned all three of my cities; Charlottesville, Charlotte, and Charleston – and in that order.  I barely had any time in Cville to settle in or even really unpack before I was heading right back to Charlotte — but this time, work was thankfully balanced out by celebrating some love, and a fairly normal weekend (for a change).

Friday night brought a sweet relief from the work week, and an even sweeter night at the Vanlandinham Estate celebrating two awesome people – Kelli + Graham.

fuel sweat grow: Kelli + Graham Wedding

I’m not really sure how to explain Kelli outside of just saying that she’s incredibly smart, loyal, honest and supportive friend that anyone could ask for. While it was once difficult to believe that anyone would be able to fully match up to all of her awesome, it’s clear that she’s found that match, that best partner, and (most importantly) absolute happiness with Graham, and that’s more than enough for me.

After weeks (months…years) of crazy, it was such a welcomed break to enjoy and be present at such a beautiful wedding, on what might have been the most beautiful night of the spring so far.

fuel sweat grow: Vanlandingham estate wedding

This week has reverted right back to the desk eating and hurried meal creation, but after taking a little break from it all and a little trip into someone else’s bliss, somehow it doesn’t seem so bad.

I’ve got more food, b:core, MADabolic, and general life updates coming at you in the next week(ish) so stay tuned, and of course, let me know if you’re around Charleston this weekend and want to get in on celebrating the 1st Birthday of MADcharleston — it’s on.

Hey June, I can See You + b:core updates

Hey.  Profound, I know, but short and sweet is how I’m coping with all the things happening at the same time.  It’s just been a week since I rolled back in to Charlottesville and I’ve been trying to get everything set and ready before heading back to Charlotte this week.

Like every holiday weekend I’m not really sure where the time went, but I can tell you for sure that it’s not standing still, and in some ways, that’s something to celebrate.  Construction has also (finally) started for b:core, which is turning out to be better than I had imagined, and is lining up to mirror the vision that had long been living in my mind.

fuel sweat grow: b:core construction plans

I’m trying to squeeze in another 3-4 day stint in Cville before heading on Vacation (which is ‘conveniently’ out of Charlotte) so this whole month is pretty much wiped out, and each day feels crucial.  We’re past most of the logistics and planning for creating the space and business foundation, so now it’s ramping up into my favorite part — aesthetics and strategic planning.   The good news is that most of this direction can be given remotely (as we’ve finally mastered) but I’m a little bummed to be missing out on seeing the day to day progress first hand through this initial phase.

Over the past two years our MAD folks have become pretty familiar with the IX building — at least the sweetly tucked away location, and our extremely visible retail storefront.  b:core, while in the same building (and actually sharing a back wall with MAD) has a much different entrance, vibe, and overall comfort and serenity that so perfectly matches what we’re building. So, here’s a little tour in pre-build pictures.

[ this is the entrance hallway to the space; the actual entrance will be on the left hand side; and that sweet sunlight? that’s our little outdoor zen garden with exclusive entrance to/from our reception area.]

fuel sweat grow: b:core entrance

[ this is the inside – inside of the above wall; entrance on the right (and future barre studio to the far right), zen garden in the center right off of reception area; and that far, far left nook? that’s a small view of purvelo’s cycle studio]

fuel sweat grow: b:core space photos

[and this is the back side (the gluteus maximus, the guts, or the power source, if you will) of the whole enterprise — barre studio on the left, reception + core studio straight ahead, showers/bathrooms/changing rooms to the immediate right, and then the small sliver of purvelo, peeking through again.] 

fuel sweat grow: b:core methods studio space

Obviously these were pretty preliminary pictures, and I’m pumped to say that work has started and progress has been made on all fronts to take this shell and breathe life into it’s four (or I guess soon close to 20?) walls. I’ve got more (about a million) pictures that I’m saving for further down the road where I can see extremely tangible progress and share it with you via my ‘construction photo diary,’ but until then, these bones will have to do.

We’ve got a pretty sweet inspiration board locked down on Pinterest that I’ll share later, but our Brand DNA certainly gives us the warm and fuzzies, and mirrors the vibe of all our bells and whistles.

fuel sweat grow: b:core brand DNA

With so much happening and so many gears shifting constantly, it’s been tougher than ever to manage all things time, work, and life (but you can follow us, or me, on instagram anytime!).  We’re just about through the hardest parts and I could not be more ready for the next stretch of the build.  June not only brings more progress on the buildout, but it also brings two big celebrations at MADabolic Charleston (It’s our 1st Birthday!) and the impending vacation that you better believe I’m ready for this year.  Here’s to you June — I love you already.

Bottom Line: I’ve Learned

Today my thoughts are short in length, but, as I’m really finding, deep in meaning, content, and significance to me.  Turning 25 was a huge milestone for me in my life, and through the last 5 years (despite what I sometimes may think) I lived most every moment in one way or another.  I made a million changes, took big chances, explored to possibility and depth of my own person, and did so with what I would now characterize as a ‘cautious abandon.’  I met people who changed me forever; some that taught me to see and believe in the good in others, and some that taught me through their own limitations the importance of forgiveness, personal growth, and the ever-evolving art of learning to let things go.

I wanted the experience, and with that came all the wins, losses, and lessons along the way.  And that’s what matters – that I learned — and I’m still learning.

fuel sweat grow: life

Sometimes it’s just worth the reminder that life is a combination of living — living imperfectly — and learning from the mistakes. Learn from other people’s mistakes – let go of judgement and appreciate the guidance.  It’s worth the energy it takes to work towards the good places, and work out of the bad places so you can actually grow.  Live in all four corners of your life — live outside of the boundaries — and most importantly don’t ever let anyone else’s own limitations ever limit your ability to live your own passions.

Now that I’ve shared what I believe, someone please remind me of exactly this the next time I find myself faced with the seemingly impossible, or the ghosts of lessons past.  Tomorrow might even be a good day for a refresher.

Hello World; Here’s What’s Next

When I started my very first blog the short, yet profound, phrase ‘Hello World’ was sitting in the first draft post.  It sat, perfectly simple, in the wordpress template as if it were helping to push me along into the future, a little more open and a little less anxiously than would typically mark the beginning of the unknown.  Granted, I think everyone who started a blog had the same stock welcome note waiting for them on their first post, but in that moment the welcome felt very personal and very real.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about new beginnings – about the difficulties of wrapping up the past and stepping into the instability of the future – no matter how bright it might look.

If you’re standing at the edge of something new, no matter how much certainty you carry in the decision, you’re bound to feel vulnerable.  New jobs, new relationships, new businesses — and even just new routines.  It’s far too frequent that people tell me that they’d love to try out MAD, or they are really excited about b:core but they are afraid they wouldn’t be good at it, aren’t fit enough, or will try it ‘next month’ (when, clearly, all the rest of the world will have aligned around them to make the adjustments to their current schedule seamless and powerful).  Obviously I’m joking a bit there because I’ve never known any phase of my life, or even any day really, to perfectly align in a way that makes my goals easy (can goals be easy?).  If I learned anything during my tenure at lululemon and the hundred some goal setting sessions I conducted, it’s that if you’re not really reaching for a big goal– and maybe reaching, finding a step stool or ladder, and creating a pulley system to get to that top point — you’re not aiming high enough.  And if it scares the pants off of you? Great.  You’ll thank yourself later.  In short, you’ll have to create your own perfect alignment, your own power, and your own conviction to go after that next goal.

fuel sweat grow: b:core

Today as I sit here, amidst quite a bit of the anticipated ‘new’ and a list of far too many to-do’s, I’m embracing it all.  I have endless opportunities, a handful of things that are all building quickly, and powerfully, to lead to wherever it is I’m going to end up — but I can’t complain.  The good far outweighs the bad, the creative outweighs the mundane, and the strengths outweigh the weaknesses.  We are finally on the brink of being exactly where we anted to be with ALL the businesses, and it’s time to appreciate their energy, success, and communities – in a big way.

Today we announced another exciting piece of our b:core lineup – b:elite.  The b:elite program is geared towards developing high school and college athletes looking to build, or enhance, strength and endurance fundamentals through personalized and focused skills development and conditioning.

fuel sweat grow: b:elite programming

This training and programming is expertly developed, implemented, and paired to bring a well rounded and effective curriculum to the athletes it serves.  Stay tuned for more detailed information about the coaches programming, and partnership (yep, b:core and MAD will be teaming up to make sure these athletes are getting the benefit of the well rounded training regimen and lifestyle we promote through our barre, core, and interval programming. Questions? email belite[at]bcoremethods.com for more information or to sign up.

This summer is already off to a full and amazing start, and it’s just the beginning of May — not too shabby.  Between our MAD locations in Charlottesville and Charleston, b:core coming also to Charlottesville, and a few other things up our sleeves, there’s never a dull moment, but there are a lot of exciting moments filled with amazing friends, exciting new partnerships, and of course…..fitness + food.

Hello (again) World; I’m back and it’s time to embrace all the positive that comes with change, and walk eyes wide open into the next chapter.  Things will never be the same, but sometimes can mean a lot of beautiful things.

Recapping the Week of All the Food

It’s Wednesday.  I’m not sure how, or when exactly, that happened, but it did, and here we are.

Last week was a blur, a jam-packed blur of events and to-do’s that bled straight into this one and just kept marching.  But the blur doesn’t always have to be bad — those weeks are typically also packed with a whole lot of good to balance it all out and keep you coming back for more.  Plus, they’re usually when the foundation is built for whatever is coming next.  And on that note, just stay tuned, I’ve got some updates, announcements, and really fun opportunities that grew right out of it — and that definitely makes it all worth it.

This week, so far, has been for seriously getting things done, and I needed that.  I needed to start to feel progress, to check some big items off my list, and to find a little extra comfort in my routine.  We’ve had a lot going on over here lately – some pretty par for the course, and some a little more serious, so productivity has become something of a medicine.

This weekend was made up of MADabolic, vineyards, friends, amazing local restaurants, more MAD, some barre with the b:core girls, more friends, and of course, FOOD — and lots of it.

Saturday, and one of the best weather dates to date this spring, was largely spent at Pippin with some of our favorite MAD peeps.  Emerging from what was a heavy season of reds, I revisited some white vines, loving on a glass of their Viognier and paired it with the shaved brussel salad with an egg topper.

fuel sweat grow: pippin hill shaved brussel salad

After a few hours in the sun (and a few hours post-delicious food), we returned to the city limits and saddled up to my favorite new restaurant in cville: Oakhart Social.

fuel sweat grow: Oakhart Social

There was a while there in the winter when I was a weekly, or bi-weekly, patron of Oakhart, and a definite addict of their shaved salad and brussel sprouts.  Honestly, my mouth waters just thinking about them.  Since the weather was turning a bit, and we had enough wine in our bellies to want to live on the edge, this visit included (more wine, clearly) the shaved salad and the sausage pizza, which I highly recommend as a weekend treat for anyone living the 80/20 or balancing out the 5 day plan.

fuel sweat grow: Oakhart Social

Sunday brought on a dose of MADness that was almost cruel given how sore my quads were from Saturday morning, but somehow I (we all) made it through.  The afternoon brought on some serious shaking with the b:core girls (even with my half-marking of all the thighs) and a seriously amazing dinner with the Guptas in all of their paleo grilling glory.

fuel sweat grow: paleo kabobs

Monday night our friends from MODpaleo came out to MAD in Charlottesville and set up shop with some samples of their amazing, amazing, meals.

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo meal delivery

It just so happened that my weekly delivery arrived on Monday afternoon as well, so I took a few pics so you could see how amazing it is when it actually delivers.

fuel sweat grow: ModPaleo delivery

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo meal delivery

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo meal delivery

Delivery is overnight, and always lands on my doorstep with the food still slightly colder than my fridge, and packed ever so smartly.  And when I’ve been really good, I’ll sometimes get a sweet t-shirt.

Even just having the smell of the food fill up MAD on monday night the packed evening rounds was exciting, but really getting to see folks try some of the different meals and taste combos was awesome.  They’ve got meaty and non-meaty (vegetarian meals) and treats that change weekly, so you’re never bored or stuck with the same taste combos.  In fact, I think I probably repeat more meals in my kitchen than I ever do when I order, so that’s pretty awesome.

If you made it out and loved it, remember, use the code ‘MadnessCville’ for 10% off your first order, and if you didn’t make it out, well still order some and try it out — it’s worth it, i promise.

So, that was the food update.  The life + biz-venture updates are on their way, just as soon as I get myself a little better organized, and my brain a little quieter.

MAD + lifestyle = The Best Summer of Your Life

We keep talking about this ‘lifestyle’ thing.  We talk about what it means to us, what our lifestyles made up of, essentially, and how to connect all the pieces when it comes to what drives us forward. We spent last week in Charleston getting a few key things in order, doing some spring cleaning, and more than anything, getting all our ducks in a row to make sure that the lifestyle piece has the best opportunity to find it’s roots in the community as we close out year 1.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston Mount Pleasant

We happened to be there through Cardio Week – the most passionately loves and hated week of all, depending on how your lung capacity is.  Across all MAD locations, clients and friends commiserated with and encouraged each other through the sanding test of the previous three months, and it was awesome. Charleston, you impressed and pushed us through an amazing week, so THANK YOU.  And thanks to Donna and Tim for unintentionally defining the not-so-promoted lifestyle realities of Cardio week (relaxing low country afternoon, meet our friend, Advil).IMG_2464

With cardio week behind us, this week we’re getting back to the base (durability month), to strengthen us, and to propel us forward into our full cycles of the pace (momentum month) and then return to the race (anaerobic month). That’s where we build our strength, we sweat out stress, and push our bodies to function just a little better.  But that’s not the whole lifestyle – that’s a habit of passion, and the fitness side of things, and while it’s important it’s incomplete.

When we have new clients join our community, that’s kind of the hook — the sweating, the intensity, and the results.  The fitness piece is the starter that’s sparked by the diverse science that drives forward not only how we do our programming, but how we view fitness and health on the whole.  It’s about how you’re training your self: how you’re challenging your body and mind to push forward, to build strength, to increase endurance, and to know how to do so smartly, safely, and with balance.  The securing factor is community.  The connection, the interaction, and the full support of all members, that’s that keeps us growing — growing strong, not dilute.

The piece that completes us, and typically the final piece in the lifestyle for most of our clients, is food.  Food + Nutrition is the game changer.  It’s not something we pretend to be experts in, or something that is integral or forced from a membership perspective, but it’s truly the only way to overcome plateaus, increase energy, and complete the full cycle of the lifestyle.  It’s the maximizer of the group, and from what we’ve seen over the last few years, the thing that makes all the damn difference in the world.

fuel sweat grow: the whole damn thing

You can probably tell where I’m headed by this point…..because as we’re all headed straight into the sunny season (the bathing suit, beach all day, hanging by the pool and wanting to be active 24/7 season) we’re going to head towards local food, clean meals, and more conversation about completing this lifestyle.  Charleston, brace yourselves, The Whole Damn Thing is coming right at you….and soon.

This coming Monday we have MODpaleo heading over to MADabolic Cville for a little Meat & Greet / Taste Testing for their amazing pre-packaged meals that I’m so obsessed with.

fuel sweat grow: Meat and Greet MODpaleo

They’re truly the tastiest, cleanest, and most convenient meal options out there (at least in my life) and happily show up and deliver to all the places that I need in my life (that’s you Cville, Charlotte AND Charleston).

And Charleston (#MADcharleston if we’re being real), don’t worry, we did NOT forget you.  You’re about to get all up in the lifestyle with us  – even more – and we’re pretty pumped.  If you’re a planner, write this down: MODpaleo will be at MADabolic Mt. Pleasant on Monday May 4th from 6:15-8:15pm for a food sampling AND a little paleo fundamentals 101 talk at 7:30. You can count on more information coming your way soon, promise.

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo

So, it’s all happening.  This is definitely the cliffs notes version, but I can tell you with all certainty, it’s all happening, and it’s going to be amazing.  Make sure you’re tuned in over the next week because ALL THE THINGS will be coming at you, and we could not be more pumped.

On the Road Again – First Stop: Charlotte

The snow is gone, the weather is warmer, and apparently, travel is also back in full swing.  This week I got back in my normal routine and made my way down to Charlotte for a full work circuit.  While the vibe is definitely a change up from my normal Charlottesville pace, it’s also familiar.  I’ve lived in Charlotte enough times now to have an easy routine to fall back into.

I’ve got my favorite coffee spots, my go-to restaurants, my fitness favorites, and of course friends that somehow put up with my constant state of being ever-present and elsewhere all at the same time.  I’ve got a sweet little sometimes life there that I love, and a great city where there is constantly something new to try, to explore, and new centers of community.  This trip had a little bit of everything.

While my first ‘real’ day involved my office and a baby shower for a sweet friend and co-worker, my second day (post-work ritual) involved some full-body core action at Carolina Barre & Core, followed by a little happy hour and catch up with my friend Erin at her brand spanking new jewelry studio that I’m in love with.

fuel sweat grow: erin mcdermott jewelry

If I’m wearing jewelry, you can pretty much just assume that it’s one of Erin’s pieces, and if it has an elephant, you’ll know it’s one of my favorites.

fuel sweat grow: Erin McDermott Jewelry

You’ll be seeing much more of Erin, and some special new pieces at b:core in Charlottesville early this summer.  We’re pretty stoked to have her and her new little girls (or little kids) jewelry line share our community.

Friday brought another early dose of Carolina Barre & Core (Barre Fusion class), and some out-of-town community love.

fuel sweat grow: carolina barre and core

fuel sweat grow: carolina barre

By the end of that second class in just over 12 hours, and the fact that every Amity class I take completely rocks my whole world, I was ready for a little lacrosse ball release as we made our way down to Charleston.  Seriously, with so much travel taking up our lives these days, a few lacrosse balls and some foam toys can make all the difference in helping to counter balance the travel tightness.  You’d think that by now I would have learned to not workout and then sit in a car for hours, but apparently I haven’t, and my schedule never seems to make those allowances.

fuel sweat grow: little spoon CLT

So, after a quick coffee stop at Little Spoon, we were bidding adieu to Charlotte and en route down to Charleston to link up with our MAD coaches down here, check out the Bridge Run, and get the community juices flowing as we head into the spring season. Now, if I can just get my muscles to cooperate and stop whining over how dang hard the barre classes were….

Thank You Spring, You’re the Best: 7 Ways to Clean out the Stress

Another Monday is here, and another gorgeous weekend in the books. I sometimes think that Spring has an unfair advantage over all the other months for being the one that brings the sweetest relief to the depths of winter (clearly, I don’t love the cold).  I’ve been pretty under the weather the last little while, still mostly trying to chug along, and I’m looking forward to being fully on the mend with some sweet spring air change fully what’s in the air.

Recently, despite even being down of the count, the stress in the air has been palpable all around.   End of the 1st Quarter means anyone on a (fiscal) business cycle is feeling the pressure. The varying schedules for spring break brings travel, uprooting, and re-settling to the surface for folks all around, usually impacting schedules of the whole collective to piece together what would be normal life and timing.  In all things small business (in my life), the coordination of all the little pieces, all the schedules (human and otherwise) and all of the competing timelines that need to somehow magically merge together have brought some anxieties to an all time high.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the stress of not only my own life, but of those around me and the collective whole — and then I think to myself, ‘Frankie say RELAX.’ Because sometimes, you’ve just got to take a pause from all the noise to figure out what’s really a priority — and reset on what sanity means to you.fuel sweat grow: relax

I came across this article about Second Hand Stress and it couldn’t be more spot on.  Stress always has a snowball effect; whether it’s taking on other peoples stress, building more of our own, or just feeling the avalanche of ‘ALL THE THINGS’ at once, sometimes it’s most important to pump the breaks and get back to our own baseline.  I’ve found that the more you do, and the more you have going on, the more frequently you’ll find yourself in a second-hand struggle, and you’ve got to have your own coping/recovery methods for getting through it.  I’ve got some what I’d call, first and second level stress recovery tactics that have gotten me through some of the worst energy vortexes I’ve ever known:

First Level Stress Recovery [immediate options for the small bumps]:

1. Stand up from wherever you’re sitting. Log off of all social media. Turn on music. and dance.  Seriously, just dance.  Increasing the volume will directly increase the effectiveness (of decreasing anxiety).

2. Play with a dog.  If you have a dog, play with it, walk it, do something that brings you freedom (mind and distance) from your stress.  If you don’t have a dog, borrow someones or walk one at the SPCA (there are a lot of them there just wishing someone would show them love too).

3. Workout. Go somewhere and sweat.  If you’re really in a stress bubble, go for a long run, a walk, or do yoga.  Find a place where you can escape into your solitary mind with minimal intensity and lots of movement freedoms (maybe check out Yogavibes.com and get in a little at-home class).  If you’re needing to really sweat it out, maybe do something like MAD, and rather than finding the solitary moment, find some comfort in community and the folks that just won’t let you get out of there without a conversation and some laughter — that works too.

Second Degree Stress Recovery [when it feels less like a weight on your shoulders, and more like a sword through your brain]:

1.  Move furniture.  Literally re-arrange your life via your living space.  It’s cathartic, fun, and will allow for a pretty quick sense of accomplishment. You can ask my college roommates — this was a pretty frequent tactic for dealing with my multi-level life at the time.

2. Take a day off and go off the grid.  Maybe you take a long weekend and go visit your best friend, maybe you need to just go for a ride.  Whatever the distance is that you need, take it, and don’t apologize.  Sometimes physical distance is necessary to create the space to let go.

3.  Cook all the food.  Go to the grocery store to stock up on some healthy staples, and then come home and cook some meals for the week (or a big awesome dinner for friends? your call).  Sometimes the process of chopping and prepping is what I need in order to work through whatever is going on, and sometimes it’s the actual organization of packing up prepped and cooked food into a million different containers that helps me feel like there is some order in the world.  If you’re not looking for a marathon cook-fest, just go to the grocery store because just having food can sometimes be relief in itself.

4.  Stop spinning all your wheels, and get organized.  This is my most frequent struggle when things start moving faster than I feel like I can respond, and that’s a sure sign to me that there is a breakdown somewhere in my organizational systems, or I need to do some high level re-structuring.  I’ve been a long-time user of Evernote, but just converted over to OneNote at work and at home, so I’m heavily reliant on having one place to go where I can keep everything organized and accessible.

Those are some of my key strategies to get myself back on point, and honestly, even if there’s nothing particularly troubling in the air, and no second hand stress to be had, these are all pretty cathartic as every day practices to keep things positive and constantly refreshed.  In fact, turning them into more of a practice may actually be the key to avoiding life’s little potholes or getting caught up in the external noise.  So, if you’re up for it, welcome spring with open arms, a little release and re-org, and just coast straight on into summer.

b:core – THE Announcement

So here it is: the announcement you’ve been waiting for…or really the one we have been itching to get out for a long time.  b: is for barre, but core is for….Lagree.

We’ve been following this method for a while now, both at it’s foundational level through creator Sebastien Lagree, and also through some of the current top-trending brands that deliver the method globally (try: solidcore, core40, SLT, and over 100 others).  If you’re dialed in to the fitness scene even just a little bit, you’ve heard of it — and if you really have your finger on that pulse, you’ve probably gone out of your way to sweat your face off in a class somewhere, just like we did.

Want to learn a little more? Check out some of these articles from well+good that can give you a little bit more info on some of their top Lagree studios and why they love to sweat at them.  Our studio will have our local b:core branding and a strong athletic vibe, so you can expect some intense sweating to perfectly compliment everything else that you do — at least that’s what my plan is.

When I left Charlottesville after college and began my fitness career outside of college athletics (in tandem with my business career) I viewed the combination as part of my ‘real world’ immersion.  It began as a way to create balance in my new grown up life, and quickly started to set the foundation for my lifestyle.  I travelled often, always finding the ‘best’ place to sweat wherever I was, and was lucky to live in both Philadelphia and Charlotte where fitness is both a focus and something that is done exceptionally well.  I learned the importance of investing in my health, and tapped into my passion for not only teaching, but also building community with that same lifestyle focus.  Part of that path was  pushing myself physically to try everything while continuously learning and evolving beyond passion to establish that solid base for what I believed in and why.  That part of course has continued to evolve, and will hopefully only get stronger.

fuel sweat grow: lagree fitness b:core

The other side of that path was the one leading me back to Charlottesville.  I wanted to live here, that was without question, but I wasn’t willing to give up the fitness and health aspect of my lifestyle to make that happen.  So, of course, the only real logical course of action was to build what I wanted in Charlottesville, and that’s the root of this all.  Basically, what we have now is my ideal world, paired with Dar’s own dimensions and passions, and a community that is transforming before our very eyes.  I think I can also speak for Dar here when I say that we could not be more excited to finally have what we believe are the top foundational, innovative, and expertly designed methods out there all perfectly packaged to compliment each other — and we promise, we’ll never be complacent.

We’ve still got a lot more brewing over here, but now that this cat’s out of the bag, it will all make much more sense.  Charlottesville I hope you’re ready, because things are about to get pretty intense….in a good way.

Primal Education: Function to Movement

Secretly, or I guess not to secretly now, I have this dream that I live in a world where there are 26 hours in a day.  I’m not wishing for longer ‘work’ days — truly — I’m talking about two bonus hours that exist separate to any other possible commitments, interruptions, or demands to just simply catch up on the world.  Extra sleep would be great, sure, but there is so much other consumable information out there that is constantly evolving, thought provoking, and currently stockpiling up in my blog feed that I just want it to reasonably fit into my life.  I have these long lists of bookmarked and flagged articles ranging from fitness trends, to clean eating, to lifestyle….you name it… that I literally binge read once or twice a week to the point that my head feels like it might explode.

fuel sweat grow: reading

These days when I don’t get to read anything of particular interest or pleasure to me from 8-5, having these supplements to my development really caps off the day perfectly.  I use a few different readers, following my fair share of the larger industry publishers and (probably too many) individual voices whose views I respect and believe in, and a few that I don’t — which I look at as philosophical diversity.  It’s always a different perspective, a variety of information, and with the ones I really get into, either an integrated take on something so functionally relevant to what we do at MAD (and b:core), or something completely new that challenges my thinking.

Whatever the connection (or dis-connection) point, I love where each piece takes me.  This week I finally rolled across this post on the Whole 9 blog talking primal movements — or I guess I intentionally found that post after stumbling across this follow up on how the 7 primal movements in the first article are put into practice for balanced, total body progressions.  So much of what we do at MAD is based off of our 5 functions, creating a primal focus in every interval….and hopefully, if you’re paying attention, in every movement.  Our b:core training (barre certification from Exhale Spa) is deeply rooted in the same principles, in functional movement patterns, and the ‘why’ behind what we do and do not believe in.  Once again, rooted in kinesiology and movement principles, it’s all about the body, how it is assembled, how it moves, and what patterns are functionally sound to increase ability and reduce injury.  That’s kind of a mouthful, but essentially that’s what the goal is, and that’s what we strive to engrain in our staff, and love to learn more about from them.  We’re so crazy lucky with the teams we have for all businesses, and are constantly blown away not only by their knowledge and ability, but also their thirst for more functional knowledge to make them better at what they do.  That’s the true making of a fitness professional versus an instructor, and it’s such a hard thing to find in a small town like this.

In the last few years Dar and I have geeked out pretty hard on functional movement certifications and trainings not to mention a million hours of reading and practical implementation, so we’re pretty pumped to be bringing the best that we’ve found to Charlottesville.  From FMS to movnat, Strong First to barre by Exhale/Core Fusion, and of course the ___________ method being announced this week….we’ve essentially brought everything we believe in to one consolidated market, and we could not be more excited.  Stay tuned for some updates on each, including our latest adventures with the FMS screen and what it’s going to mean for our clients.

Charlottesville, you’re pretty freaking lucky — and we feel the same.  Now, if I just had those 2 extra hours to read my stories, my life here would be soon be complete.

Do Your Best + Let the Rest Roll Off

There are moments, moments that always feel far too frequent, when something shakes our world a little (or a lot), both devastating our hearts and creating pause.  It’s in those moments of pause when silence can become deafening, and all of the pointless chatter happening around us goes quiet so deeper perspective can take root.

This past week I followed on my Facebook feed as the community I grew up in, and a school so close to the hearts of my family and friends, turned itself inside out searching for one of their own. They came together as a community only to be rocked completely.  A 13 year old boy who was so distraught over overdue class assignments and an overly manufactured sense of failure left his home and took his own life.  And unfortunately, this has become far too common.

There are a million different things to speculate, to wonder, and on some level to even relate to, because we’ve all been in a situation at one point or another where it seems almost impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  What that light looks like and how we get to it is going to be different for all of us, and for some, especially those who have battled or known the despair of a deep depression, the end may be that light.  I know all of this, but I still can’t help but feel the extra weight of this tragedy today.  Today my mind kept coming back to a few thoughts I could not shake; things that I wish everyone not only was reminded of, but also deeply believed in.

1.  Outside of doing your best, nothing you do in school really matters.  Seriously, not really even college.  All of those years are meant to give you time to develop, to create context, and to allow you to grow — not to determine your lifelong potential.  Be open to learning, be open to exploring your interests, and of course working hard, but your whole job is to discover your own passion and hopefully start to live it.  Learning what makes you tick, what keeps you motivated, and what your strengths are will be more important in our life than any class, or test, or assignment in the world.

fuel sweat grow: you were meant for amazing things

2. Be open to failure.  Failure and struggle are the experiences that give our stories content, that teach us our most important lessons, and help us find the grittiness in ourselves that confidence can stand on.  Find any person that you think has succeeded and ask them about where they failed — believe me, they’ll not only have some good stories, they’ll also be able to draw a direct line from what they learned to all of their subsequent successes.

3. You have value.  Truly, you. are. valuable….invaluable really, so don’t you ever let anyone or anything ever tell you differently.  There’s a horrible epidemic of kids who grow up looking for their value in other people, in things, or in money, and as adults we have a responsibility to instill in them the confidence and understanding that value is inherent, and not externally found.

4.   Don’t take life so seriously.   Sure, life is a serious business, but sometimes it’s the ability to shake off all the unnecessary pressure and manufactured stress and enjoy the moment for exactly what it is.  Whether you’re in the build, the struggle, or the victory lap of your life, live through every moment and appreciate what’s available to you in that moment. Truly, if you’re alive and your heart is beating for something, you’re already succeeding, so find joy in the path.

I could go on, and I probably will at another time,  in several different installments, but for today, this is what I’ve got. So, thanks for letting me rant, feel, and write my way through what makes no sense and all the sense in one messy package.  And, most importantly, may that sweet boy’s soul rest in peace.

All Things Local: Fuel, Fitness + March Mindfulness

I LOVE weekends.  Since I don’t have as much flexibility during the weekdays with my regularly scheduled job, the weekends become my everything days, and I love it.  Our businesses are those of passion and people, so when I can look at my planner and see full days of exactly those two things, I’m pretty pumped.

This past week was so draining that Friday night was a mandatory night in –with Bold Rock Cider and Keswick Gourmet bringing some local Cville love into the mix. Dinner also included zoodles, skirt steak, spring salad, and some of my favorite [paleo] avocado deviled eggs.

fuel sweat grow: at home local dinner

There were definitely years in my life where friday nights out were a constant — but I’ve long since run out of steam for anything too involved (or past 9pm) — so something really comforting to me about being home, having a few friends over, and keeping things low key.  It also helps Saturday morning at MAD hurt a little less.

The Saturday 7:30am class at MAD brought a complete and total sweat-down at the first of a fully packed momentum day. Since my standard Milli Joe coffee run came later than usual at at 8:30am, almond milk lattes that gave us the fuel we needed.

fuel sweat grow: love and coffee

The rest of Saturday afternoon consisted of house chores, some business organization, mani/pedis, and a long awaited night out of the house with dinner at The Local.

Sunday was for community — and it hurt so good.  After a full night of rest, and a slow-ish morning that included adjusting to ‘springing forward,’ we went all #marchmindfulness and took up an invitation from Hannah, owner of the the most recently opened barre studio in Cville, barre[d.] for the 10:30am cardio barre class.

fuel sweat grow: barre[d.]

It was great to see so many faces, new and old, rolling in excited for the change-up.  After an hour of sweat and fatiguing with our new friends, we high tailed it over to MAD for a few meetings, Mia’s athletic recovery and release class and practice with our b:core team.

So, is that weird that we went to barre[d.] because we’re opening b:core soon? Not really — at least not to us, or anyone in the industry that understands the differences across the marketplace, or supports the fundamentals of community.  In the last 3 years I’ve taken nearly every barre class offered in most major markets, in studios big and small.  Knowing what all is out there, and understanding the nuances are for the foundations of each technique are just small pieces what feeds my development — and that hasn’t been specific to any one fitness niche, as will soon be very apparent.  This is actually not really that niche of a marketplace with over 20 dominant methods, and a multitude of others, all with different takes on the structure that Lotte Berk set out, and foundations in yoga and pilates.

The more I push forward my own learning and expertise in functional movement patterns, and the more certifications and trainings I get under my belt across all fitness modalities, the more exciting it is to see new methods popping up that respect similar fundamentals or introduce something completely different.  Of course each technique has their own spin, and none are the same, which is why we were SO excited to try out Hannah’s class and what she’s bringing to our community.  We loved experiencing such a different twist on barre, blended with her own approach on ballet cardio TABATA — so thanks for a great class, we’ll all be back to spread a little more local love soon!

Needless to say after cardio barre, yoga/myofascial release, and then more barre practice with the b:core team, my body was ready for some actual rest and recovery.  So what’s on this week’s agenda? We’re continuing our downtown district tour of our favorite women owned local studios in honor of International Women’s Day by hitting up TRU pilates, Hot Yoga Charlottesville, Opal Yoga, Integrity Pilates, and of course MAD.  We’re also kicking off the 5 day plan for lifestyle clean up – and really just a slight wine reduction, so it’s a big week for health and perfectly paired with some much needed spring weather.

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.

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.

Vacation and Barre + Conchella and Table 7: June Revisited

It’s been a while since I’ve had a few minutes to sit, process, and share anything more than just a single moment in time.  The last month has been filled with celebrations, construction, some serious bouts of hard core work, and the significant kind of family time that can only come from celebrations of life and love.

After celebrating Year 1 of MADabolic Charleston being open, it was time for vacation…and one that had been long since due.  Since I’m historically (and deeply) terrible at committing to vacation, it was incredibly important that this trip had deep roots, and thankfully, this one had the deepest kind of roots I could ask for – Morini Roots.

My dad’s the oldest of 5 kids in his (Italian) family, and his youngest brother Mikey (aka Big Mike) was getting married, so you better believe the M side rolled in strong for the occasion.   Neither the photos or my words will be able to do the setting or experience justice, but I’ll certainly throw out a few feeble attempts to at least tee it up.

fuel sweat grow: Gansevoort Turks and CaicosThis is the Gansevoort in Turks and Caicos, arguably one of the best places you could go if you’re looking for beauty and relaxation with both a pool and beach setting.   It also happens to be the partner resort for the Exhale Spa in Turks, which means all the life forces in my life converged (just missing MADabolic) and set up a vacation scenario that would be next to impossible to argue with.  In addition to their regular spa treatments, they also have twice a day classes at the outdoor studio, offering Exhale’s signature barre, cardio barre, sport, and yoga classes, which we’re so pumped is the same programming and training we’re bringing to b:core methods in Charlottesville. So basically, this was a business trip, or at least that’s what I’m going to try and sell my accountant on.

Envisioning the studio during my pre-vacation daydreams, I never considered an outdoor space, so I was a little caught off guard when we headed to our first class and found this al fresco setting for our morning sweat.

fuel sweat grow: exhale barre studio Turks and caicos

fuel sweat grow: Exhale barre studio Turks and CaicosThat being said, I absolutely loved it.  While I’m not really living in a geographic market that could ever sustain a full blown outdoor studio, the whole setting really played into the island lifestyle, the absolutely euphoric fresh salt air, and quite honestly my need for some real good sweating to detox from all the food and wine.  The instructors we had were awesome (what up Kim and Josie!) and were so welcoming and open to to Dar and I especially, knowing that we’re just weeks away from bringing this same method and class to life in Cville.  The universal language of barre as it’s been so fully and authentically taught to us by the founders and pillars of the method, is on the whole is something that is pretty incomparable these days in fitness, so we feel beyond grateful to be able to deepen these connections away from the home base.

After class our typical routine was to have ‘second breakfast,’ the better half of ‘first breakfast’ which was largely made up of coffee and just the basic ‘barre class survival’ fruits that were absolutely necessary to survive cardio barre.  Second breakfast included more coffee (obviously), fresh fruit, egg scramble or omelets (MTO), a side of bacon, and of course, my iPad so I could keep up with email, the MAD communities, and our b:core buildout.

fuel sweat grow: Turks and Caicos and b:core buildout

The rest of the day was a combination of pooling, beaching, napping, and showering before assembling the family again for the schedule of nightly events (both leading up to and following the actual wedding).  The family update will come at a later date since there’s some more reflection to be had there, but here are a few of my favorite shots from the wedding events, so eat your hearts out instafriends.

fuel sweat grow: Conchella at Da Conch Shack Turks and Caicos

fuel sweat grow: Conchella Turks and Caicos

fuel sweat grow: Conchella Turks and Caicosfuel sweat grow: Conchella Wedding Turks and Caicos

fuel sweat grow: Conchella wedding Turks and Caicos

fuel sweat grow: Conchella Wedding Turks and Caicos

If you’re up for the full scope look at what went down on that island, well, too bad, you’re going to have to settle for my piecemeal accounts and photos, or the slightly more diverse instagram version by streaming #conchella and getting a glimpse into more perspectives.  Or, if you’re really into it, go to about 7:10 in to this clip, and get another first hand account of the wedding week.  Mmm hmm, yeah.

That’s the quick and dirty of vacation barre / wedding-ing, minus the deep thoughts and over-sensitive feelers surrounding all things family at the moment, and the million+ things that are on the docket for the now and upcoming moments of life.

fuel sweat grow: Gansevoort Turks and Caicos

Until next time, good night, and sleep tight.  Turks, I miss you even more terribly now that I’ve forced myself to look at all these pictures again. Sigh.