Understanding the Root of it All

Some days are just those days.  Sometimes there’s a significant reason, and sometimes there isn’t.  I think that’s the most bothersome piece of all — feeling off but not having an exact enough reason to really deal with it.

Growing up when I had these sorts of days and would go to my dad I always ended up in the same cyclical conversation about what was actually wrong.  ‘Val, I’m a fixer. I fix problems, but I don’t understand the problem, so I don’t know how to fix it. I need to understand the root cause.’  Well, no kidding. If I knew exactly what the problem was, I’d probably solve it my damn self and wouldn’t be wasting your time (no offense, dad).  Sometimes I don’t have a root cause.  Sometimes I’m dealing with a global cause conspiracy and it would take more time to solve the mystery than it takes to open a bottle of wine and have a solo dance party in my underwear, or get lost in a syndicate marathon of Felicity or Grey’s Anatomy.  (For the record, I highly recommend the former if you can talk yourself into it.  It’s much more emotionally liberating.)

On Monday, sitting at my desk around 10am, I felt the strange calm of silence and an unbreakable feeling that something wasn’t right.  Somewhere, something is out of balance, and I’m not sure if it’s internal or external, but I’m certain that it’s there.  Something must be in retrograde, or some moon must be waxing full in the near future, but regardless of what the ‘root’ cause is necessarily, I sprung a small leak.  Little by little I’ve been losing my own power all week (or longer?).

Today was the longest day of all.  The longest hours, the most meetings, and the largest amount of mind-numbing conversations that inspired me to quickly develop a mental project plan for a mandatory common-sense university curriculum to distribute widely and use as a requirement to be allowed to use a phone or email to communicate with other able persons.  At 4pm I knew I wasn’t going to make it to work out.  Not even the 7:30pm class – half because I wasn’t getting out any time soon, and half because ALL I wanted to do was go home and open a bottle of wine.

So wine I had.  And I had my first moment of coming home to this house that has felt new and ‘strange’ for almost two months now.  There’s something about finally identifying something as a refuge from all the noise — from all life’s other instabilities — and that, I think, will make all the difference.

In a large part I think my uneasiness is the result of change.  Change is hard – always.  No matter what, it’s going to be a struggle to adapt, especially as we get older and have more habits or hangups about our own routines and comfort.  The changing of seasons, of the familiar, and of ourselves is constant — so constant in fact sometimes it’s difficult to keep track of ourselves.

Tonight I’m settling in to this bottle of wine and calling it a night.  But tomorrow, tomorrow’s a different story.  Tomorrow is the day that I dig up the roots — I think it’s time.  It’s a get-shit-done and create stability sort of a day, and you better believe I’m ready for it.

fuel sweat grow

The one thing I can usually count on from myself is my limit.  Good or bad I always reach a limit – the end of what I know I can reasonably handle. Sometimes it’s a visible limit, and sometimes it’s one that I have to work to keep inside, but I know when it’s there.  Effective tomorrow I’m done with search and discovery; I’m done with the mundane; and I’m done with the things that nag on me just enough to interfere with my happiness.

So here’s to this wednesday, and the next two days of opportunity.  Here’s to problem solving, task completing, and peace finding at the end of a long week.  Here’s to doing things because they feel good, and they create momentum — and most importantly, to the things that contribute to the growing sense of home amidst the chaos of an ever-changing world (and the wine that makes that possible).

Maybe it’s not so much about actually identifying a root cause for instability.  Maybe it’s about really growing the roots that anchor you to your world – because without them it sure is hard to feel solid.

Weekend Lesson: Drinks > Organizational Bins

I love organization.  I’m not sure if it helps or hurts that I have a compulsive organizational purchasing addiction… but I’m starting to believe it might be the latter.

My main goal this weekend was to finish unpacking and organizing my house to reinstate my sanity, and hopefully reduce my overall sense of anxiety.   The big things are always easy to get set up – furniture, TVs, books….major and limited quantity items (including all things kitchen).  They get packed most systematically, and are easy to unpack — giving the first senses of home in a new and strange place.  It’s the little stuff – like ALL the clothes and jewelry – that linger causing complete and total chaos when I can’t find what I’m looking for.

Somewhere along the way I began compulsively buying organizational bins, organizers, hangers, milk crates, office supplies, and pretty much anything that can hold many smaller things, or breed the idea that if you own them, things will magically be organized and minimalistic. I own no less than about 20 Ball Jars, and I don’t really know why.

Just a few of the jars in my life. Barney Butter just an accessory.

Friday night was the start to my weekend of re-org, and despite not having a hammer to hang my wall art, I still managed to get the ball rolling with some minor furniture moving and office file thinning.  A productive start.  By Saturday afternoon I was in full neurotic force.  Drawers were pulled out, corners were vacuumed, papers and all the ‘non-essential’ items were thrown out.  Empowered with my sense of increasing accomplishment, I made a list of other errands I’ve been putting off  — which included finally picking out new glasses, and making some returns.  A great plan — until I realized that one of the items was actually from HomeGoods, the perpetual black hole for my existence and the source of my growing addiction.  I’m pretty sure if there were a HomeGoods loyalty program I would hold platinum VIP status — but there’s not, so I’m more likely to end up in HomeGoods anonymous (or living on the street in a ‘reclaimed’ fort made of bins and milk crates).

fuel sweat grow: office organization

Once I walk through the doors I lose complete sense of time, space, and all things rational.  I know it’s wrong, but I just can’t help myself.  Do I need another cutting board? No, but what if someday I do?  More file boxes? I mean, it is tax season; I’m certain that somehow they would actually end up saving me money.  And pillows?  Don’t get me started on pillows.  After 5 minutes I was nearly comatose, slowly and numbly walking down the isles, mentally fitting all of my things into new organizational structures and re-setting the general color scheme of my life.  And then it happened.

My phone went off, bringing me back to the full reality that it was 6pm on a Saturday and I was buying bins.  I stared at my phone in disbelief for about ten seconds, and then, as if out of a movie, I made a grown-up (that’s stretching it) and rational decision to let go of the cart and walk away.  I walked out of HomeGoods without putting anything in my cart  – not a thing.  It was both liberating and terrifying.  As I walked (read: ran) out the door I knew I had to keep moving forward – blinders on.

The ladies of craft night had come together to celebrate a birthday – a plan that I had somehow forgotten amidst my organizational craze, and I was going to be late. I became fully aware of how badly I needed to interact with other human beings, away from responsibility, work, and anything more serious than college basketball and laughter filled stories about life’s little ironies.

Fuel sweat grow: Jackelope Jacks
Angry Orchard Cider on Draft @ Jackelope Jacks

Granted, we were only out for a couple of hours, and god knows I can’t stay out for any period of time after the double digits, but we had a few good drinks and a lot of great conversation.  Not everything can be planned and organized into bins — ‘everything’ being life, and all of the good, bad, and funny that it includes.  I needed these drinks to save me from HomeGoods, a night of compulsive closet-organization, and most of all, from myself.  And it worked.

Today I was able to pick up where I left off, sans HomeGoods, and made some serious progress with my to-do list.  I still have more to do, but I’m not going to sweat it.  I don’t need any more bins or random house wares, just a few focused hours to finish things off, and a good number of breaks with friends and laughter to remind me what’s really important when I forget.

When Life Takes Your Hammer, Pump the Breaks

I specifically set aside time tonight to finally hang some of the art and pictures that have been leaning up against my walls for the last few weeks, but, since I’ve just realized that I apparently don’t own a hammer, I think I’ll blog instead.  I guess if I’m going to take the glass-half-full approach, I now have sudden and unforeseen extra time which I can wholly appreciate.

This weekend is the first in a really long time where I don’t ‘have’ to be anywhere or do anything in particular, so naturally, by tomorrow at 9am I’m going to be attempting to do ALL THE THINGS. But that’s okay, because I can, and I can do it in my own sweet time, thoughtfully and completely. But lets be honest, I’ll be at MADabolic CLT tomorrow morning sweating out the residual effects of this past week.


My two major focuses right now are MADabolic Charlottesville and MADabolic Charleston.  We’re gearing up for some pretty amazing things at both locations — obviously OPENING in Charleston is a pretty big deal and comes with a substantial amount of work to spread the word and get connected, but Charlottesville is on my mind perhaps even more — for many reasons.

There is nothing better than a Friday afternoon in Charlottesville when the weather is warm and the sweet, small, little city is alive.  I love that town so much it hurts, and in a way that can only be fully understood by those who have shared a period of their life there as well.  Having MADabolic Charlottesville nestled into the heart of the city, building it’s own amazing community and small piece of the 3-mile world, is something I am so grateful for.  It has changed my affinity for the city — or really just re-focused it.  And while it is great to bring a new concept that is changing lives from a fitness perspective, the community itself is changing our lives and building something more substantial than any other community I’ve been a part of.  People you would never expect to hang out are connecting, becoming friends, and developing a deep appreciation for each person’s individual journey and efforts.  They are championing each other’s causes and becoming family in a way that can be too rare. You don’t see that everywhere – trust me, I’ve been places.  It’s a product of the city we are in, the incredible people that started with us early on, and the MAD boots on the ground building it.



Fuel Sweat Grow: MAD parties

Dar's MAD Birthday



There was a great article that came out this week from C-Ville weekly on MADabolic Cville, exposing some of the nuances and intricacies that make what we do so different in our programming.  It was a great article, and the writer did a great job of capturing the product in a short snapshot — but there was so much more I wish could be captured in words, because it’s the energy, positivity, and connectedness that comes from being a part of it all that makes my heart hurt when I’m away for too long.

This weekend I’ll be cranking out the next 6 months of events for Cville, some MAD invasions (yes, it does sound vague, doesn’t it? that’s because it’s a secret still), and some great rewards and deals for our clients and their friends.  It’s the season of MADness, and while Charleston is the big brass ring at the end of the next 7 weeks, Charlottesville is still my heart.

That being said, I’m heading back to the ‘ville next weekend and staying through our friend Cristina’s 28toLife Seminar at MADabolic Cville on Saturday, March 8th.  MADabolic Cville 28 to life

I’ll definitely be pumping this more over the next week.  I think it’s important to share my personal experience and also highlight some of the stories and testimonials that Cristina has shared from clients (who are friends of mine) that have had major transformations.

That (all) being said, bring on the weekend.  I’ve been waiting a long time for it, and it feels so good.

My Super Long Cut and Paste Week.

Today was one of those Thursday mornings when I spent about two optimistic and delusional seconds trying to tell myself it was actually Saturday before I forced myself to open my eyes.  Unfortunately, those efforts always prove futile, and I got up to face the fourth day of what feels like a twelve day week.

Coming off of our team’s weekend in Charleston, this week was a long extension of last, chock full of meetings, deadlines, and do-it-freaking-now lists.

Monday kicked off the week with a over-full work day, the 5:30 class at MADabolic, and dinner at Nan & Byrons in the SouthEnd to talk MADabolic strategy and development with an awesome local female entrepreneur.  I will absolutely be sharing more on this very soon — but in the meantime, check out her brainchild, The SoGood (& download the app).

Tuesday was the off-day from exercise that I promised myself, so I filled the post-work hours with a great dinner at Roosters and some of my favorite people — and of course, our best friend of all: wine.  I’m not sure exactly what it is, but Roosters has risen to be one of my favorite spots in Charlotte (ranking high up there with Soul) and never disappoints.

Wednesday was my ‘do it all’ day.  Work, grocery shopping, multi-tasking, MADabolic work, running, cooking, and most importantly: Craft Night.

fuel sweat grow: craft night

The anticipation was almost too much — but somehow I managed.  The craft of choice was pop-up cards, and the theme was romance foods and valentine’s day.  Or at least it was the theme until the snow forced us to reschedule, so the night transformed into a night of creating super ironic and unsympathetic occasion cards combined with dogs and food.


Today took everything I had left — which leaves me a little concerned for tomorrow — and I was on the go all day.  Thankfully being in constant motion typically does suit me well, so while I feel behind on administrative tasks, I finally filled some process gaps and created some long-awaited solutions to make my life much easier going forward.  So, it was well worth it.

I hit up the 6pm Flywheel class with Jenna, and got my butt kicked in the best way possible to round out the day and prep me for Friday.

I’ve worked hard to hit the end of the week, and you better believe that I am going to enjoy a weekend at home.  I have a ton of work to get through, and a million little things I need to finish around the house, but I’m committed to taking a few hours for me.

If you’re in Charlotte and looking for a good sweat, here’s my plan for the weekend:

Friday, 5:30pm at MADabolic CLT

Saturday, 10:30am at MADabolic CLT (I looked ahead guys, and you want to do these intervals too.)

Sunday, TBD Flywheel and 6pm deep stretch at Yoga One *subject to change*

Regardless, it was a super productive but busy week and I am SO EXCITED for the weekend to arrive.  See you on the other side.

Hello Charleston, Here We Come.

I go on vacation about once every never – half because I don’t have the time, and half because I’m actually terrible at vacationing.  I’m never fully able to let go of work, and even on vacation am always desperate to schedule in a good workout.  That being said, after a long decade of being a vacation failure I’ve finally found a compromise for it all: MADabolic ‘business’ trips.

This past weekend, after a long week of snow imprisonment, our MADass team traveled down to Charleston to check in on our new location (set to open in early April!) and started developing our community.  It would be nearly impossible to not be excited about any space or venture that enabled ‘business’ trips in the Holy City, but seriously, this newest MADabolic location is going to be unreal.

Our team spent hours in the space finalizing the plan details with our contractor, and building our vision for the branding and feel of our new Mt. Pleasant home.

Fuel Sweat Grow: MADass Team

Since we’re all about fostering and promoting healthy active lifestyles, as well as building community, we wanted to explore some of what Charleston has to offer.  On Saturday morning, at the bright and early hour of 8am we were saddled up at Charleston Ride, a spinning studio with a very cool urban vibe.  The class was led by one of the owners, Catherine, and was exactly what we needed to get rolling for the day.

Fuel Sweat GrowThe space is beautiful, and the community was incredibly welcoming — definitely our style.

Charleston RideIf you have a chance check out their charity ride – Pedals 4 Pattison – a charity cycle event that raises money to support a local school/camp for children with disabilities.  It’s a very worthy cause, and a very meaningful passion for all of those who work so hard to make it a success every year.

After we re-fueled up at Whole Foods, at least somewhat, it was back on the grind for the whole team.  We spent hours space planning in our new building, and talking strategy on everything from equipment placement and signage to social media and outdoor gardens.

fuel sweat grow: MADass team

We interviewed trainers, planned some events, and overall started our engines in Charleston – which of course translated into a short, but powerful, food tour.   Since the day-time hours included a good bit of running around and quick stops into local spots, dinner really remained the feature meal.

Friday night’s dinner was at Stars Rooftop Bar and Grill.  If I had to eat in one place for the rest of my life, this might just be the place.  The food was amazing, and more importantly….they have a wine tap.

wine of brilliance

Business meetings that happen over large glasses of wine, and are combined with amazing food, always seem to be my favorite business meetings of all.

Despite my juice appreciation, the kale salad was awesome, and served as the prelude to the steak, which I apparently ate too quickly to capture.

fuel sweat grow: Kale Salad at Stars

Saturday night was Pat’s night to show us one of his favorite spots in Charleston and without hesitation he decided on The Grocery — definitely a different vibe than Stars but had more of a neighborhood feel with a great atmosphere and amazing food

fuel sweat grow: charleston The grocery

Fuel Sweat Grow: The Grocery, Charleston

The meal itself was more home/family style, and cooked with a little southern flavor.  My meal of choice included a great cabernet (of course), the best carrot salad probably in the world, brussel sprouts and chicken.

fuel sweat grow: grape juice

fuel sweat grow: carrot salad

fuel sweat grow: brussel sprouts

fuel sweat grow: chicken

Needless to say by the time I got back to Charlotte on Sunday I was ready for a little food and wine detox.  It was a great and productive weekend, and more importantly, the first solid first chapter for our new venture in Charleston, and I could not be more excited about what is to come and the people we are building it with.

The Week the Snow Took Over Charlotte

Last week brought the most legitimate snow storm I’ve ever seen in Charlotte, as well as an ice sealed house arrest that I haven’t experienced since ‘that winter’ in Philadelphia when we all lost power for a week and were in school until July.  Since most snow ‘storms’ in Charlotte are largely dramatic media interpretations of some clouds and minimal precipitation crossing their interactive maps in the form of impending doom that never pans out, I was a little skeptical about how this one was going to shake out.

A big thanks again to the creators (all the creators) of wine for helping us all get through winters like this.

fuel sweat grow: wine

Well, kudos to you meteorologists, you nailed it.  Despite my skepticism (and the house transfer that occurred about 3 hours into the storm), I did manage to make it to the store before it all started so there was food.  In fact there was lots of really good food.

Breakfast: Egg Scramble with zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, and scallions.

egg prep: fuel sweat grow

fuel sweat grow: egg scramble

Dinner: Grilled chicken; cucumber, cherry tomato, avocado and raspberry salad in balsamic, and (oven) roasted cauliflower.

fuel sweat grow: grilled chicken

fuel sweat grow: salad

fuel sweat grow: snow dinner

And, of course, there were beverages.


The great part about winter storms in the south is that the snow and ice only lasts as long as the storm, and melts away just as fast as it arrived.  And then, all you’re left with are a few snowy patches, some wavering cabin fever, and of course, a few great moments capturing the memory:

Fuel Sweat Grow: Lex and Teddy

By Thursday I was ready for it all to be over, and to re-emerge into the real world, thankfully just in time for our team trip to Charleston for our soon to open MADabolic location.

I think the most challenging part of being trapped inside, for me, is breaking the routine that creates designated space for sweating, but thankfully I managed to keep moving.

The week looked like this:

  •  MADabolic (4:15 w/Sarah) on Sunday
  • Flywheel on Monday
  • (Indoor) run on Thursday
  • MADabolic on Friday (9:30am w/Georgi)
  • Charleston Ride (8am class w/Catherine) on Saturday (more to come on this…)
  • MADabolic (4:15 w/Sarah) on Sunday… to bring the week full circle.

And you know what? I survived.  Sun, snow, sweat, and more to-do’s than I know what to do with, but I’m still standing and might even be stronger than I was this time last week.  And that, is worth something.