The Crunch: time + greens

I think I’m obsessed with kale.  I’ve always liked it just fine, but recently I’ve been craving it.

Usually when my body tells me it’s craving leafy greens I go with it – it knows better than I do – and with all the craziness of the last few months I just need a little more from my food.

We’re about two weeks out from opening the doors to Fight Gone MAD – Charlottesville, and it has been far less than a smooth buildout so we’re all feeling the time crunch.  In fact, I’d say it’s been a borderline nightmare on what should have been a simple project, so the extra anxiety has taken its toll on my body (or sanity).  So, in the spirit of making good of what is possible – I bought kale.  Lots of kale.

Kale

Since I live by the motto, ‘when in Whole Foods.’ I stopped by the meat counter to stock up on some of my favorite grass-fed cuts.

whole foods meat

Whole Foods happened to also be running a deal on chicken breasts, so I got a family pack to go with this meal, and the meat was stocked in the fridge for another meal to come (soon).

fuel sweat grow: food blog kale salad

For greens we had kale and asparagus – kale for the salad and asparagus to be grilled along with the cauliflower and chicken.

Fuel sweat grow: cauliflower + asparagus

In the salad the kale was met with some cherry tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers, and a little added spring mix.  A quick knock off of the House Seasonal salad at Nolen Kitchen in Charlotte I shared a few weeks back – it was exactly what I wanted.  Kale has an amazing crunch to it, while also being leafy, so the mixture of the different lettuces adds a great texture.

fuel sweat grow: kale salad

I made some guacamole as a side (with sliced carrot chips), and it doubled as the salad dressing.  It doesn’t take much on the fork or on a piece of lettuce to give it some flavor and saved me the trouble of getting into an oil/vinegar mixture.

guacamole: fuel sweat grow

This meal is exactly right for green-craving day.

fuel sweat grow: kale salad with chicken

It was so good that Bug achieved stalker status (two notches above begging) and employed her deep breath + audible sigh technique to voice her displeasure.

Bug says: stalking

As far as sweats go, I’ve been doing mostly around-town running this past week, fitting in to whatever time slot I have open, actually running to the location to meet with contractors and our super awesome property manager Fabian.

I did manage to slip in some few and far between garage workouts, one of which was last night (a Saturday nonetheless) at 8:45pm.  It definitely felt late, and being post-dinner was a little tougher to mentally cope with, but I needed the sweat, badly, and it was totally worth it.

I still owe updates on our training at Fight Gone MAD (Inc)’s flagship in Charlotte with our management team, and initial team of trainers, but until then, here’s a little peek at some of the canvases waiting to find their new home on the walls in Charlottesville.

fuel sweat grow: MADness photos

fuel sweat grow: fight gone mad canvases

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The Last of the Adventures in Chicagoland

Here we go:  part II of the Chicago chronicles.  Friday was an awesome start to the weekend, and thanks to the beautiful 80 degree weather and some amazing people, Saturday and Sunday were even better.

Since bootcamp (and work) has my body programmed to rise with the sun, Saturday morning kicked off pretty early with some coffee and a little romping around the city before settling on a breakfast spot: Eggsperience.

Eggsperience

Honestly, this is one of my favorite breakfast spots, ever. There were a million options, tons of ways to substitute and create your own, and everything that came out looked delicious.

Since eggs are one of the easiest clean eating options for breakfast, that’s what I got – three eggs scrambled with broccoli, mushroom, and turkey sausage.

eggsperience: egg scramble

This breakfast was both the best and the worst idea we had all weekend.  It was great because I was starving and needed food (fuel) to get through the 10:45 Flywheel class – and it was bad for the same reason.

Last October Dar and I took our first ‘scouting’ trip up to Chicago and took two classes at Flywheel with Candy.  We didn’t know her at all, or what we were getting ourselves into, but she is Awesome, with a capital A.  Since our visit we’ve kept in contact with Candy and made sure (with her help) that we made it into her class.  That being said, her class was an hour of complete intensity and probably the highest energy class all around that I’ve ever been in — but half way through eating seemed like it might have been a mistake.

flywheel gold coast

Regardless, we got a killer ride in before 12pm,  just in time to make it to lunch with a good friend, and rounded out the afternoon with a short(ish) shopping tour of the city.  That’s about the point where I lost Dar’s interest and ventured solo around the best Nordstrom Rack I’ve ever been to (after the standard trip into the lululemon on Rush Street of course).  I almost don’t want to share the primal experience that shoe and jeans shopping for me at a place like ‘the rack,’ but I have no problem saying this: it was something to behold.

By some miracle I managed to make it back to the hotel and get ready for another dinner out with the Charlottesville crew (me, Anita, Dar and her best boyfriend Uday…) at Cantina Loredo.

cantina loredo

This was probably my favorite meal of the weekend- amazing drinks, awesome food, and a great atmosphere.  It’s the kind of high end mexican food that provides awesome food choices and modified options for clean eating.

That being said, we started out with some really great guacamole and chips, per the requirements of any good vacation, alongside the obligatory margaritas and mimosas.

IMG_2913

Our entrees were equally as good – salads, tacos, and the like.

Salad

cantina loredo

After dinner we headed out for a few more drinks at Fado, which I was psyched to see since it was a bar I really loved when I was living in Philly.

chicago: dar val anita

After Fado we made our last and final stop at RPM where we had the classic vacation late-night snacks.

Zucchini chips and a pepperoni pizzetta.  So, so good.

zucchini chips

RPM italian

It was our last night in the city, and an awesome way to cap off the urban portion of the trip.

Sunday I went with Dar out to her cousin Jeff’s house for the last day of the trip, and had an awesome time hanging out in the pool, watching movies, and pretty much just relaxing with the whole fam damily.

cusibians in chicago

It was an awesome trip, and a pretty tough place to leave, but it was time to get back to real life, and all the work that has to happen in these next few weeks to get Fight Gone MAD open in Charlottesville.

Welcome Back to Chicagoland

I can’t remember the last time I took a legitimate vacation away from work, constant internet connection, and phone dependency.  What originally was going to be a work-focused trip to Chicago with Dar quickly transformed into an extended weekend away with some great friends, and amazing weather – with business sprinkled in to the daytime hours.

Chicago: River + City

Despite the early flight time, long travel hours, and airport lethargy (I’d be great at traveling if it weren’t for the travel part) – we were there by 12pm on Friday, right in time for lunch on the river.

We sat right outside with a table RIGHT on the river, so close in fact we personally met all of the fine folks that were parking their boats and shimmying up to the restaurant for lunch and drinks.

lunch on the river

We were bought a round of drinks courtesy of one of our new friends, and had an extended conversation with the restaurants owner about Chicago, fitness, and his previous home of 10 years: Charlotte!

Friday afternoon drinks: Lunch on the River

After a long morning of travel, this was exactly what we needed.  After lunch, in the spirit of vacation, we did our own vacation rituals and listened to our own personal needs; Dar went to the hotel and took a long nap, and I adventured around the city and got my nails done (with a few extra turns and city street wandering).

edna ring

When I travel to different places I usually bring at least one special piece of jewelry that at one time belonged to my grandmother (my mom’s mom, Edna May).  She was always taking trips with her girlfriends, taking in new cities, cultures, and I think just space out of what seemed like a super static life.  I totally get that. There’s always something freeing about traveling to a new place and thinking about what could be, what additional experiences and communities could be built – ultimately helping to re-instire, direct, or even simply appreciate the life back at home.

This trip was a lot of that for me, and it was awesome to have a little piece of my grandmother there with me, adventuring and seeing my world from a different vantage point.

After my adventures around town it was time for dinner, and a little check in back with our Cville lives since Anita + Uday (two of our favorite bootcampers AND and neighborhood organizers) were in town to take over Chicagoland with us.   They organized a progressive dinner tour on Friday night with our first stop at Bin 36.

BIN 36: chicago

This first stop was the ‘wine + appetizer’ stop on the dinner tour, and it proved to be perfect for just that.

wine flights

I chose the ‘some like it sweet’ wine flight, which was awesome.  Dar was actually the only flight of reds, but we all chose different pairings.

table of wine: Bin 36

The second stop was David Burke’s Prime House (steak house), with more wine, and steak.

chicago: steakhouse

Huge steaks.

Prime House: Filet

And three amazing, enormous, sides of food for the group.

The asparagus was awesome: tender roasted w/a poached egg in the center.

asparagus w/poached egg

Spinach Gnocchi with a fresh spinach center and a cream sauce.  I dripped off a bunch of the sauce, leaving just a light glaze on top for flavor.  Unreal.

spinach gnocci

I also need to go back to the beginning and make note of the exceptional rolls that they have – like a sweet pastry puff with asiago cheese toasted on top.

wine and rolls

 

So, it’s pretty safe to say that the weekend started out with a little less health + fitness than normal, and a little more eating + drinking.

The trend only continued the later we pushed into Friday night with dessert at Sable (the gastropub at Hotel Palomar), and even more fun with the whole group.

dessert at sable

 

The top dessert was the Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake with bourbon ice cream, and the bottom was the Cookies and Cream Ice Box cake.

By 11:30 (or really 8:30, but who’s keeping track?) my eyelids were struggling to stay up, and despite being the youngest of the group I was the first to call it a night.  In my defense, it was really 12:30 my time…

So that’s the start to the Chicago adventure – and a great start to the sequel of last October’s epic Chi-town trip.  The rest of the weekend was even more eventful than the first half, which will be apparent in the next post!

Anyone else secretly (or not so secretly) want to live in Chicago, if there was no winter?  Seriously, if the winter were just half as brutal I think I would have to live there – since that’s not seeming likely I guess I’ll just have to work on my half-year plan to live there in the summer.

CLT Revisited: Friends, Food + Fitness

I’ve been back in Charlottesville for over a week now, which means it’s (obviously) due time to circle back to my Charlotte trip and squeeze in a few things that got left out of the few-and-far-between updates as of late.

I have a ton going on right now with my attention being pulled in a million directions, so when I’m in Charlotte (especially when I’m in Charlotte) I know it’s important to emphasize sweats and structure in my day to stay focused and have the energy to knock the to-do’s off my list.

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From a sweat perspective, I spent most of my time bouncing between Fight Gone MAD and Flywheel and loved every second of it.  That being said, since both are pretty intense, every 3-4 days I would take a day to myself to run or walk (especially during the beach trip) giving a little solo time to myself and my body.  The most key piece of that experience for me is always music, and new (at least new to me) songs and playlists.

I managed to fill my adventures with some new choice songs that are definitely going to be deemed the ‘Summer of ’13 Soundtrack’ for my life, but none more frequently played (in its entirety) than the Delta Rae ‘Carry the Fire’ album.  I would not necessarily recommend it for high intensity workouts, or anything where you’re looking to really find increased motivation and energy, but it’s awesome for a walk, long run, or just basic listening.

If you want to test your own willingness to be vulnerable and do a little at-home therapy, lay on the floor and shut your eyes while you listen to their single ‘If I loved You,’ and let your mind wander to the past, or present, and the many complex and heart breaking layers of relationships, life, and trying to do the right thing.  The song is about as powerful as it gets and could probably bring the strongest of souls down to their knees- so listen at your own risk my friends.

On a much more upbeat note, I was also able to catch up with some amazing friends in Charlotte that I don’t usually get to see, and loved getting to catch up with over sweats, eats, and even a little jewelry.

I met my friend Cara for a walk around her neighborhood (and a ‘surprise’ walk to Harris Teeter to buy a few kitchen items she was out of  – coupons present a sense of urgency people.  We’ve always walked together, and use the time to get in a little physical and mental therapy.  It’s probably one of my favorite friend sweat rituals because it helps restore balance to my whole being and gives us a chance to reconnect, a process that takes all of about 5 seconds.   I have a number of larger take-aways from our conversations that will be part of future blogs and would be far too minimized to squeeze into a paragraph here.

The day after my walk with Cara, and post-Fight Gone MAD class, I ventured over to reconnect with my favorite little bulldog – Suki.

fuel sweat grow: suki Mcdermott-White

Suki is the four-legged fur baby, and jewelry model, of my friend Erin McDermott (White) who is one of my absolute favorite people on earth (and the only person that I seem to buy Jewelry from anymore).

Erin is in Charlottesville every couple of weeks so I do see her pretty regularly, but it had been almost a year since my last smooch from Suki so I took the opportunity to catch her at home while I could.  Suki has crazy awesome energy and calmed down on my lap only when it meant full neck to belly button rubs – oh and when we put a necklace on her.  Like any good model she knows when its business time and sat still(ish) in her chair for the photo op.

While I was there Erin handed me some earrings that were the nearest replicas to old favorites that I had back in college and lost somewhere during my journeys.

Erin McDermott earrings

I had sent her pictures several months back asking for re-creations, even though they were not the typical style she normally makes.  I had actually forgotten about it totally, but she had remembered and when she was working with another jewelry designer that had the right scraps and tools, they gave them a shot.  They are perfect.  I think they’re going to try and team up on some different sizes and variations which I could not be more excited about (and you should be too).

Since I can never get out of Erin’s without making additional purchases, I picked up a few extra tidbits including an elephant necklace that had been waiting for me to get it.

Erin McDermott: elephant

And some more droplet earrings to go with my collection of the similar items in Erin’s line.

Erin McDermott Jewelry

My last two special friend-visits were happily done over lunch, one with my amazing friend Lauren who is always sweating towards some goal – this time the Baltimore + NYC marathons in the fall.  She and I hit up Bad Daddy’s which is one of my all-time favorites, and lunch was a CYO salad of romaine, mushrooms, apples, cucumbers, walnuts, avocado, and grilled chicken with a vinagrette on the side.  No picture to share, but the combination is awesome for summer.

While Bad Daddy’s is a go-to spot, I think I found a new winning salad when I grabbed lunch with my friend Cadie at Nolan Kitchen.  I got the house seasonal salad which is typically a kale salad with beets, tomatoes, herbed goat cheese, pistachios, pita croutons and a honey-sumac dressing.  I added Chicken and some additional (spring) greens to mine, and can say with all honesty this is my favorite salad, probably ever.

fuel sweat grow: nolans seasonal salad

So, those were the fringe updates on my trip to Charlotte with a few more sweats, eats, and suki/jewelry treats.

All of these things were awesome and made me happy in my heart, which is really all I could have hoped for and totally completed the trip.  And best of all? Erin is now a Fight Gone MAD addict (like so many of us) and I can’t wait for her to workout with us in Charlotte at the South End location, and when she’s up visiting in Charlottesville.  Suki is welcome too, of course.

Sweating + Working and Celebrating America

I keep thinking that it’s Saturday, but alas, it’s just Thursday so nobody panic.  We still have 3.5 sweet days left in this weekend and I, for one, intend to use them all.

Since getting back from Charlotte last week I’ve been a catch up and settle in cycle that can only be described as organizational chaos.  Thankfully I’ve squeezed in enough sweats to keep my brain functioning and my body awake.

Sunday required planning + body testing Tuesday’s bootcamp workout, which I was more than happy to oblige to since I needed a little circuit to get myself going in the morning.

The time table looked like this:

  • 45 seconds on / 15 seconds off (rotating through each station once per round)
  • 1 minute of rest in between rounds
  • 5 full rounds of high intensity pace

And the menu was:

  • Kettlebell RDL (option of 12, 16, or 20 kg kettlebells)
  • Medicine Ball Thrusters (holding ball at chest squat full down, drive up through heels extending arms and ball overhead while fully extending hip flexors)
  • Kettlebell twist (using 10 or 12 kg bells – slight dip with hips twisting to one side + pop up to extend hip flexor and twist bell to opposide side of body.  All while keeping an engaged core + strong back)
  • Turkish Getup w/barbell
  • Slamballs (12 or 20lb)

After testing this Sunday, Monday was a welcomed day for a long run + walk around town to slow things down a little and lengthen out the soreness in my glutes and hamstrings.

Tuesday morning was a boocamp morning which means a bright and early 5-something in the morning wake up, and kicking off the day with the 6 + 7am classes.  Per usual everyone rocked it, and we shot this picture of part of the 6am gang after the workout.

fuel sweat grow: 6am bootcampers

Usually I’ll try to swap coaching times with Dar if I can convince her, and I’ll take the 6am and she can take the 7 (if we feel so athletically inclined in those early morning hours) but Tuesday I happily delayed my activity until the afternoon and took a quick 2 mile warm up run before doing the circuit for the second time in three days with the 5:30pm group.  (I’m not pictured because apparently I have the most superior photo-taking skills – or at least that’s the reason I give myself.)

fuel sweat grow: 5:30pm boot campers

Meals this week have also been slightly chaotic, and have involved far more restaurant food than home-cooked, which is something I don’t usually like to let happen.

Monday night I did manage to pull myself together before too late and used the last of the fridge contents to make this meal.

fuel sweat grow: dinner at home

Ground local (Wolf Creek) beef with zucchini, onion, and mushrooms all sautéd together, plus a salad with romaine, almond slivers, blueberries, cucumber and avocado.

fuel sweat grow: guacamole and carrot chips

A side of my homemade guacamole and sliced carrot chips (for dipping and eating) also doubled as the salad dressing.  I’m not sure if it was just a really filling and great meal, or if I was so craving something home cooked, but it was exactly what I needed to kick off the ‘work week.’

There were multiple mornings turned ‘breakfast meetings’ at LaTaza this week, and I finally converted over to Dar’s full-time ‘regular’ order of scrambled eggs with veggies and extra avocado.

fuel sweat grow: eggs and avocado

This used to be my go-to for healthy (@28tolife style) breakfast out, but lately I had fallen into a pattern of getting the same thing, just wrapped up in a burrito.  I highly recommend both from a taste standpoint, but my body is thanking me for cutting out the gluten-full wrap.

Wednesday, which happened to be an off day for my body started with a LaTaza breakfast and began celebrating America a little early with an afternoon bar business meeting in Richmond.

fuel sweat grow: tequila snack time

It’s pretty uncommon (outside of such holiday events…) that I’ll decide on cocktails in the middle of the day, but somehow yesterday fit the bill, so I went for it.

After a full afternoon of meetings, and a quick trip over to Short Pump for a little retail tour, it got too late to think about going to the grocery store and cooking and when we got back to Charlottesville around 8:45, Dar and I settled on the idea of an extended post-business meeting business-meeting at The Local.

The one single change to my usual order is that I ventured over to the House Salad, forgetting my usual goat cheese favorite, and lived on the wild side of choice, even for just one meal.

The Local: House Salad

I’m not someone who can eat the same thing every single meal, or even every single day for that matter (outside of coffee and wine) but I have a hard time diverting from my favorite dishes at certain restaurants, especially if they’re local and real food oriented.  Therefore, once again I got the Tenderloin Special, and unlike Dar I opted to keep the potatoes rather than getting double vegetables.

The Local: tenderloin special

We’re celebrating America here people, and America (apparently) is about starches and butter, not vegetables.  [Disclaimer: I do not actually recommend that choice model or mentality any days of the week or year outside of some select holidays, and in moderation…].

This morning (Thursday — yep, still Thursday) since everyone was off work for the 4th, bootcamp turned into 1 group class with everyone still in town and moved to the park at 9am.

In an effort to push a little more cardio, and account for a larger group, the workout was structured a little differently.

4 people per station: 4 stations (each station had 2 exercises)

1. speed balls (modified wall balls)/breakdancers

2. jump squats/plank

3. slam balls/walking lunges

4. KB swings/star jumps

We started at each station for 2 minutes (1 minute of each exercise + then switch), with one minute of transition rest in between.  It may have been the heat, it may have been hangovers, or it may have just been much harder than we thought, but after the first round of 1 minute for each exercise, we took it down to speed rounds with round 2 having 45 second intervals, and round 3 pushing through at 30 second max effort intervals.  Regardless, there was heavy breathing, lots of sweating, and three full rounds of work.

Fuel sweat grow: boot campers

The rest of my day consisted of catching up on work, stocking up at Whole Foods (updates on that to come later), and this:

Fuel sweat grow: Ball Jar Mimosas

So far I’m enjoying my celebrations of both Freedom and America, but I’m ready for a nap, and still hoping to squeeze out a little more work.  Two contradictory forces working there, but I’m optimistic.