From the Fridge to the Plate: Everything Taco Salad

A few weeks ago, amidst one of the most brutally cold days of the winter, I found myself staring into my fridge around 5pm, desperately hoping that I didn’t have to head out for groceries.  I really do love grocery shopping and meal planning, but when I have a ton going on I hate the last minute obligation of it.

Thankfully, I had some of my clutch grocery items, and after a minute of working it around in my head I decided on Taco Salad.  It had been forever since I made this, and the first time without rice or any sort of cheese, so I wanted to make sure I had enough variety to keep me interested.

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The key for me is mild seasoning — I don’t love a ton of seasoning, and never actually liked the packet mixes — so I sifted through the spice cabinet to find some chili powder from Savory Spice shop and got to work.

The basics: onion, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, yellow and red bell peppers, and mushrooms all sautéed in coconut oil until tender, and then add in (local, grassfed) ground beef.

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Enter my beloved Chili Powder and some fresh ground pink himalayan sea salt, and the meat portion was finished and ready to cool.

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The completed product (once cooled) then topped chopped romaine, avocado, and cucumbers.  And I have to say, this is one of my absolute new (old) favorites, remade into a clean and 28 to life acceptable meal.

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Even my most faithful sidekick and kitchen assistant loved it — despite what she may imply with her saucy little face.

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These types of simple and basic recipes are so critical for me and my lifestyle in order to stay on plan, keep things clean, and also allow for the ‘everything in the fridge’ type meal while still being damn good.   It’s also incredible for leftovers and lunch planning — just make sure you package the meat and lettuce separately to  avoid any slimy/gross wet lettuce situations.

Here’s to hoping the coldest of the cold weather is past us, and we can all sail sweetly into a premature spring.   Or at least that’s what I believe when my glass is half full of wine.

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Fuel. Sweat. Snowday.

Tonight we got snow in Charlotte, so naturally everyone freaked out all day in preparation.  As a Northerner I typically find the southern snow experience underwhelming….and I love it.  Today’s snow drill was met with a cancelled work dinner, so I found myself free to live the dream in my living room: sitting by the fire doing work during the single digit hours.

fuel sweat grow: snow day

I hate cold weather, and I’m not a huge fan of snow (after the initial aesthetic factor), but I’ve really come to love snow days as an adult far more than I ever appreciated them as a kid.  The thing I crave most these days is time.  I’m not talking leisure or wasted time, but more time in my world to get things done without outside world distractions or scheduled obligations.

Today was also my planned off-day from working out, so this could not have come at a better time.  Last week I hit up MADabolic CLT 5 times, including both Saturday and Sunday morning, with a Flywheel class squeezed in the middle so I needed a day of rest.

Sweet pic of Sarah mid-interval at #MADabolicCLT
Sweet pic of Sarah mid-interval at #MADabolicCLT

Yesterday, to wind down and stretch out just a bit, I took the 6pm class at Y2, led by my friend Adam – something I’ve been meaning to add back in to my regular schedule for longer than I want to admit.  I needed a good sweat and a short mental vacation to get me started this week, and it totally worked it’s magic.

I still have some things to unpack, but for the most part my life is beginning to feel organized again, and I’m creating space for the things I need: both mentally and as it relates to my belongings.

fuel sweat grow: office organization

I’m really crazy about office supplies and organizational bins/concepts, so that whole process has been hugely therapeutic for me.  I spent some serious time the last two nights on a few planning pieces that I just haven’t had the time to focus on lately, so while I got a little anxious about the time it took from my extensive to-do list, in the long run it’s going to be huge for me.

fuel sweat grow: business planning

I’m not sure what tomorrow’s going to bring in terms of a snowday or workout, but for a change I’m just going to fully enjoy this moment of bliss: fire, warmth, organization and the kind of sleep that only comes from a cold winter’s night.

It’s off to Charlottesville this weekend for some serious quality time with the MADabolic Cville crew, and a birthday celebration for their fearless leader Dar that will certainly be one for the books.

Grocery List, Breakfast Favorite + Monday Things

From the moment I opened my eyes this morning I could just feel the monday-ness looming in the air.  I had the classic weekend where I had more to get done than I could have ever reasonably accomplished, and it was actually a struggle for me to admit defeat at 10pm on sunday night to allow myself a good night sleep.

It was totally worth it.  The still-unpacked box that was abandoned in the corner is still staring at me, but I don’t care.  I’m prioritizing me this week – my sanity, my health, and my own piece of mind.

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I committed to an 80/20 style 28toLife program with Sarah and Georgi, good friends and trainers from MADabolic, and it started today.  Over the past year I’ve gotten pretty used to cooking according to Cristina’s preferred plan and can make a meal out of just about anything at this point — as long as there are groceries stocked.  That’s one of the challenges — making sure that there is good, fresh food, constantly stocked in the fridge.   Meat, fruit, vegetables, and a few other critical essentials to allow for spontaneous meal creation.   The point is not to feel hungry and deprived — it’s to change what you’re using to fuel your body and teaching it to run on good quality food.

Depending on what your preferred tastes and meals are, you might want to meal plan ahead of time and buy groceries a little more frequently than usual, or, you might want to go all-out on Sundays in preparation for the week.  Totally your call.  I do a little of both, but I would say that I do have a staple MUST-HAVE-THESE-THINGS at all times list:

Basics:

  • Coconut Oil
  • Coconut Milk (canned from Trader Joes)
  • Sesame Oil
  • Almond Butter (Fresh ground from Whole Foods if you can)
  • Sea Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Chili Powder

Meat:

  • Chicken Breast
  • Ground Beef
  • Flank Steak (get a big one so you can take advantage of extra)
  • Chicken Sausage ( Applegate Farms)

Fruit & Vegetables:

  • Zucchini
  • Yellow Squash
  • Cauliflower
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Lettuce / Kale
  • Cucumbers
  • Avocado (MANY)
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli Slaw
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Lemons

Additional staples:

  • Whole and/or slivered Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower Seeds

It looks like a huge list — and it is, but for the most part you can ALWAYS find these things in my fridge, and they are the best and most versatile basics I’ve found.  There are certainly other things I like to pick up at times — beets, arugula, and spinach included, but usually only when they’re planned in a specific meal.

This morning’s breakfast was straight out of my critical ingredient handbook, and was the perfect way to start off this Monday.

Fuel Sweat Grow: Egg Scramble
Saute broccoli slaw, zucchini, and yellow squash in coconut oil
Add chicken & Eggs
Add chicken & Eggs
The finished, and delicious, product.
The finished, and delicious, product.

Lunch was a salad with chicken from a little spot next to my office, accompanied by about 10 huge cups of water that were strategically consumed to help me prepare for (hot) yoga at Y2 tonight — more on yoga tomorrow.

Dinner tonight was grilled chicken, cucumber, avocado, and sea salt seasoning all chopped and mixed together for a chunky chicken salad.  It was super quick to make since I had some chicken already cooked and awaiting it’s destiny in the fridge.

And that marks the end of this super long monday.

Goodnight.

 

Making It Count in 2014: Month 1 Recap

There’s something about 2014 that I haven’t quite figured out yet — but it’s a different year.  The jury is still out on how exactly I feel about it, but it’s going to be transforming for sure, and there is always value in growth – no matter how rough around the edges.  Sometimes it just takes a little extra time and effort to understand the importance and let even the most challenging experiences feel valuable.

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Every year around this time I will typically ask myself (now usually with a slight laugh and small eye roll), ‘I wonder what I’ll be doing one year from right now?’  I’ve been doing it for about 6 years, and each year it is more apparent to me that there is no freaking way that I could ever guess the answer.  It’s an impossible question.  And to be honest, if it were a stock year with a predictable answer, I don’t think I’d be very happy.

I need to be able to acknowledge progress; to see and feel my life evolving and my perspective broadening. I’m not looking to replicate years through routine and stagnance– I want growth and change.  I want to finish each year and know that I’ve learned something, that I can relate to a broader group of people, and that I’m still working towards something bigger than my present reality.

That’s the deep version of how I look at each new year when I feel inclined to wax philosophical.  Most of the time I want to be happy in the moment.  To feel purpose, commitment, and appreciation for exactly what is in front of me.  We’re three weeks deep into 2014 and I’m off to a pretty solid start — in my opinion.

Here’s what’s been happening lately:

1.  I kicked off the new year in a way I never thought I would: with beer.  Now, I’m fine with drinking, in fact, I’m a huge supporter of evening wine and enjoying life — but that has never included beer before.  Excited that LOVING Southern Tier’s Choklat Stout was an immediate victory for 2014, I had it for three consecutive nights.  And then I remembered why I don’t drink beer — because the gluten or hops, or whatever happens to be making it all beer-like totally disagrees with my belly.  But hey, I welcomed the new experience with open arms (arms that carried ALL the beers), and that my friends, shows both growth and courage (I might be pushing it with courage).  fuel sweat grow: southern tier stout

2. Dar went to yet another kettlebell certification to ensure that she’s the MADdest person in all of Charlottesville (and beyond), so I got to look after three of my favorite things:

fuel sweat grow: tank
Tank the Crank.
Lil' miss buggie
Lil’ miss buggie
MADabolic Cville
MADabolic Cville

At MADabolic Cville we’ve hit that tipping point where classes are maxing out and our clients are really starting to kill it in the workouts, which is exactly how I like to both coach and train.

3.  Back in Charlotte by mid-month, where recovery from the holidays and Charlottesville looked a lot like work (life work and actual every day WORK), I’ve filled nearly every free second  training at the flagship MADabolic location (#MADabolicCLT), taking in endurance rides at Flywheel Charlotte, re-organizing my living space, and smooching all over a foster-pup that was delivered to my door last Sunday morning.

Fuel Sweat Grow: Foster Pup
Sweet DIXIE girl! Looking for her forever home through Carolina Paws.

It’s a shameless plug for this sweet girl, but she deserves it.  You know I love my Buggie, and Tank (her brother for life), but Dixie is the most obedient, loving, people oriented, and well behaved dog I’ve ever met.  She’s the follows-you-around, places-her-head-on-your-lap and just-wants-love-and-a-family-to-love-back, dog, that people dream of.  So check her out, and please please please share with your friends.  She’s awesome with kids and would love to be that dog that walks them to the bus stop and loves them unconditionally.

And then last but not least…

4.  We finally announced the third MADabolic franchise location in CHARLESTON (South Carolina)!  It’s such an exciting step for our partnership group, and comes with the addition of a new corporate family member, Pat, who will be carrying the torch as the General Manager for Charleston.  We’re up and running on Facebook and Twitter, so give us a follow, and as always, make sure you’re tuned in to the corporate Instagram and Twitter to keep up with ALL the locations.

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It was a pretty serious amount of excitement for the first few weeks of the year, and not even a comprehensive view of the whole, so stay tuned for some backdated shares, and some pretty serious new recipe and meal posts as I head back onto the 28toLife plan starting Monday.  It’s going to be real….real food freedom (wink wink).

5 Pieces of Life Balance: Training Edition

I never used to take rest days.  In fact, I rarely listened to my body.  When I was rowing in high school and college, it was normal to workout 6 -7 days a week, sometimes even twice a day.  It was normal because we were all training at high levels, pre-elite and elite levels, that demanded that kind of training regimen.  The difference then was it was essentially a job, and we had some of the best strength coaches and trainers in the country supervising our programming and skills (and also, we were barely in our twenties).

Now I’m 29, I have a real job (or 3), and training is not a demand – at least not at that level.  So, the most important thing for me in my ‘adult’ life,  was to find a healthy balance of training for fitness, and living life.  At MADabolic we frequently say ‘we don’t live to train, we train to live,’ and as cliche as I’m sure it could sound, it’s actually a really honest statement.   I don’t have the time to revolve my life around training, and honestly I don’t want to.  There’s no balance in trying to train for an imaginary career in elite athletics, so now I train for the life I want to have, with the time I have, and don’t sacrifice actually LIVING.

MADabolic Cville

I also train smarter.  Some days I think I train harder, others I know I don’t, but I have the balance and formula to maximize my efforts, and that has made all the difference. I look better, I feel better, and I actually perform more consistently now than I ever have.  I don’t have quite the same power and endurance as I did when I was rowing at 18 and 19, but to be healthier and happier heading out of my twenties – that’s a different kind of power and endurance.

This is a blog where I talk a lot about eating clean and smart, but the same is true for training.  When you workout, make your time count.  If you want results, you’re going to have to work for them, but also make that time work for you.  Find good coaches with actual resumes and credentials — not just the ability to sit through a weekend pay-for certification.  And ask about their experience — actual experience: who were they trained by, where have they been, and what have they accomplished.  There’s no such thing as an inexperienced training savant — so do your due diligence.  It’s not just about programming, it’s about actual applied knowledge, fundamentals, and safety.  It takes about 5 minutes for me to determine if a coach or instructor is a seasoned athlete or someone spitting out learned terms and phrases, and the latter is the biggest danger to clients and the fitness industry on the whole.

MADness

There was a great article in Huff Post this week about 5 Things You Need to Know if you’re searching for a personal trainer – definitely worth the read.

And now, to round out my rant and bring it back to the personal: listen to your body.

If your body isn’t changing and you’re not getting stronger – either work harder or find something else. If you’re training constantly but not losing extra weight, change how you eat.  If you’re getting injured and nursing chronic pain – stop doing what you’re doing.  And if you’re tired or overtraining yourself and your body asks for a break, give it one.  You’ll do more damage than good if you keep pushing your body through such high demands when it’s telling you it needs a break (trust me, I’ve learned that the hard way.  many times).  Seven days a week of mediocre and half-assed workouts will never compare to 4 days of high efficiency.  The same is true with 90 minute cardio pacts versus high intensity intervals and scientifically programmed interval cycles.

So, here are my own 5 points of guidance to give balance to your training and life:

1. Train for your life.  Not for someone else’s – very few adults suddenly develop into elite athletes, but many will develop chronic injuries from improper and unsafe training. Be smart.

2.  Give yourself a break when you need one: mentally or physically.

3.  Know your trainer.  Don’t blindly accept inaccurate advice.  Seek out knowledgable and experienced trainers and know who THEY were trained by.

4.  Listen to your body.  It will tell you what you need.

and last but not least…

5.  Have a good damn time.  Seriously, enjoy your workouts.  Look forward to them.  Mix them up, and make sure you smile and laugh.  Life’s too short.

Welcome 2014: the year of coffee + anything you want

Welcome to 2014: the year of coffee.

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I’m pretty sure that’s not the official slogan of the new year, but if it went to a vote, I’d definitely support it.  I’ve  been getting more sleep lately than I have in a really long time, so I’m not nursing my favorite mud for any major reasons, but more for the comfort and warmth that it provides.

That’s kind of what I’m looking for this year: comfort and warmth.  So, if I can get a little hit of that each morning (afternoon, and evening…) to keep me on track, well, I’m going to take it.

The extended holiday season was something borne out of what felt like pure chaos, so for the last week or so I’ve been really pumping the breaks on 2013 to allow for a fresh and intentional start to the new year.

Fuel Sweat Grow: New Year

I think the hardest thing about pressing the reset button, or setting goals is, really, honestly, taking the time to figure out what you actually want.  We’re so programmed to want what we’re ‘supposed’ to want, what we think we ‘should’ want at whatever our particular age is, or what other people want for us.

I’m still working on the list of things I want to accomplish this year, but there are a few major things that I know I want to do for me, and either create or strengthen the habit(s) as a part of my forever lifestyle.   I used to break out my goals in terms of career, personal + health, but to change things up a bit (and because those aren’t easily decipherable categories these days) I’ve divided them into my three favorite life categories:

FUEL:

1.  Take a cooking class

2. [Better] Sunday preparation for the week of meals to keep things clean.

3.  Hydrate.  This means drinking 5-6 times the amounts, of water, that I drink of wine.  (This one is really a major learning and goal from the holidays, but I think it’s a worthy rule of any life experience.)

SWEAT:

1.  Master ALL of the MADabolic primal movements.  Or at least let myself believe I have for the length of time I need to KEEP MOVING during the entire interval.  (I can be an angry gorilla, right? right.)

2. Re-incorporate yoga + stretching into my life, 2-3 times a week.

3. Take a group class at a trampoline gym (and then buy a[nother] trampoline).

GROW:

1.  Take an art class.

2.  Take on at least three of the projects I’ve pinned to my Pinterest boards.  Even if just for the sheer entertainment of making the attempt.

3.  Make dates with myself.  I used to dress up in real clothes and take myself to coffee and shopping or a movie once a month.  I don’t know why I stopped, but I miss me.  I was pretty fun to hang out with.

The list goes on… and on, and on, but for now, that seems like a good start.

2014, I’m in this with you.  Let’s see OWN how this goes (coffee mandatory).