Almond Milk Lattes, StrengthsFinder & Earned Weeks

There are good weeks and bad weeks, long tough weeks and the weeks that pass in what feels like the blink of an eye. It’s always a gamble, and the more you push to achieve, the more concerning the odds are.

And then, like hope at the end of a long winter, there are the earned weeks — the weeks that can only be found at the end of the most challenging stretches of time-sleep-and-sanity deprivation.  They make all the struggles seem worthwhile, even if just barely, and everything begins to fall together.

This week was definitely an earned week, and in addition to all the work and long hours that made it happen, I’d also like to thank the newest sponsor to my productivity: Milli Joe.

Fuel sweat grow: Milli Joe

Milli Joe is a locally owned coffee and gelato (+ cheese and chocolate) shop right off the downtown mall in Charlottesville.  While all of that’s awesome, this town is hyper-local so everyone needs a little something extra to distinguish themselves, and this week I found out what Milli Joe had to hook me in – fresh all-natural almond milk made in house and hand crafted each morning into the latte that kept me alive.

Fuel sweat grow: almond milk latte

Today is day 10 of 28toLife and it’s so true for me that the most challenging part is giving up coffee the way I love it — a little sweet and a lot creamy — so this was the perfect replacement.  They are just shy of $5/cup, but that’s pretty on-par with starbucks pricing, and has none of the crap, so that’s an immediate bonus.  Add on that my current alcohol costs are hovering around zero, and it doesn’t seem so terrible.

And if that wasn’t enough, they were awesome enough to reserve us a sweet corner section for our MADabolic Cville team StrengthsFinder development night last Thursday.

Fuel Sweat Grow: MADabolic StrengthsFinder

I love personal and professional development, especially exploring the strengths, motivations, and goals of the people surrounding me, in both work and life.  A few years ago I was introduced to the StrengthsFinder test when I was working with lululemon, and revisited it again just recently with my team at Wells. It’s still dead on for me, and continues to blow me away with it’s accuracy across the board.

When we were in Charleston last month the rest of our MADass partnership group took the test, and it only seemed appropriate (and more exciting) to enroll our trainers in Charlottesville as well.  In addition to giving insight into each individual, what makes them tick, and what strengths we embody as a team, the book also digs deeper into how best to manage individuals based on their top strength which is so important to consider.

It was a great forum for team bonding, conversation, and development, while also serving as a great tangent off of our normal fitness focus.

Fuel Sweat Grow: MADabolic StrengthsFinder

Fuel Sweat Grow: MADabolic Cville StrengthsFinder

Fuel Sweat Grow: MADabolic Cville StrengthsFinder

Fuel Sweat Grow: MADabolic Cville

The most important part of any business is leadership — which is only a strong concept when it goes beyond who is ‘in charge’ and extends to the sum of all the parts.  Our trainers are awesome people and give our business the energy and life it requires (and our clients demand) everyday, so it’s our responsibility to continue to develop and invest in them to continue their growth – and in turn, ours.

I’ve been lucky enough to know, and work for, more than my fair share of awesome leaders who viewed themselves as small pieces of the whole– and my fair share of those who touted themselves as leaders without what I would call any earned or legitimate experience (or respect) in business.   Both experiences had value, but the former was of course was the one that equipped me with the inspiration, drive, and sense of self that really took my abilities (‘potential’) and pushed me to achieve more than I knew I could.

In short (or, actually, long), last week I had some amazing fresh almond milk lattes which inspired my strengths, reinforced my goals, and supported the foundational steps for our team and business growth.

Add on to all of that my renewed sense of accomplishment that is directly rooted in a new style of notebook, and you’ll understand how this week became an earned week – the first sweet trace of spring at the end of a long winter.

fuel sweat grow: notebook organization levenger


And that’s just what happened when I wasn’t figuring out meals for 28toLife and sweating next to the best of them at MADabolic Cville.   Thanks for the good week, Charlottesville. I miss you already.

Pre-Snow Sunday + Spaghetti Squash (local) Meat Marinara

I live for Sundays.  It’s the sleep-in, make breakfast, drink my whole damn coffee (or two), and enjoy the scenery day I exist for.  Even when I’m in Charlottesville (especially when I’m here) and I know I’m going to be at MADabolic in the morning, the pace is still distinctly different.  The only thing better than Sunday mornings are Sunday afternoons that involve great food and relaxation.

Since this past Sunday marked day #2 of the 28toLife partial re-charge, and thanks to an afternoon trip to Whole Foods, the fridge was stocked with food begging to be turned into something amazing.

Now, I’m going to digress for a moment because this Sunday happened to also bring the less than thrilling news that apparently it was going to snow — again.  I love a good snow day, maybe once a year, but that quota was filled months ago and I’m ready for 70 and sunny.  Apparently that wasn’t happening, so after surviving the parking wars at Whole Foods and a desperate scramble for provisions, it was homeward bound for 48 exciting hours of wine-less confinement.

The best way to keep my mind off of something displeasurable is to cook, so I blocked out the snow-cast and got organized.

Fuel sweat grow: inspector bug

The fridge was inspected by Bug, and packed with plenty of food to survive the storm (note: the left side door doesn’t count– some things should never be thrown away even if they’re forbidden in the moment #beer #wine).

For dinner, I started with two main ingredients: spaghetti squash and my new absolute favorite (and LOCAL) marinara from Keswick Gormet.

Fuel sweat grow: spaghetti squash marinara

The woman who actually makes this sauce happened to be in Whole Foods on Sunday with a sample table.  It is completely free of preservatives, sugars, or any added anything outside of her amazing natural ingredients — and it tastes JUST like my grandmother’s best sauce (a true testament from an Italian granddaughter).

Fuel Sweat Grow: Meat Marinara

Since I needed to get some meat into the meal, I decided to make a vegetable and ground beef base to transform it into a meat sauce.

Fuel Sweat Grow: Meat Marinara

While it was all simmering together a salad was created with romaine, kale, avocado, almonds, heirloom cherry tomatoes and cucumber.

Fuel Sweat Grow: salad

And then, miraculously, the best meal I’ve had in recent memory was completed:

Fuel Sweat Grow: Spaghetti Squash Meat Marinara

fuel sweat grow: Spaghetti Squash Meat Marinara

I love food, pretty non-discriminantly, but this was SO good.  I had roasted two spaghetti squash the night before, and the full jar of marinara with a little over a pound of meat so there was plenty to go around, and a good amount of leftovers (that all lasted less than 24 hours).  I highly recommend this as one of the easiest, best, and most re-heating friendly meals ever.  Try it.

So, the moral of the story is that I survived the snow, and managed to keep myself busy long enough to avoid any serious breakdowns — although wine would have helped my morale tremendously.

Hello Again Cville, 28toLife & ACC Titles

On Saturday I made the journey back up to Cville for a pretty exciting week at MADabolic Cville, and an epic afternoon for Virginia Basketball.

MADabolic Cville

In addition to a pretty full docket, our MAD team is preparing for a visit from Cristina (our favorite nutrition guru and lead trainer from the Charlotte location) by kicking off our 28toLife reset a week early.   As brutal as it is to give up wine and cider when I’m in the land of plenty, Charlottesville thankfully is one of the best places to possibly be when you are buying local and eating clean.

Saturday afternoon, after my obligatory and desperately scheduled nail appointment, my nervous cooking habit was in full force while Virginia Basketball took on Syracuse (right down the street at JPJ).  Whatever happened, I was making sure I at least won dinner.

Fuel Sweat Grow: Saturday meals, spaghetti squash

For the menu at hand I broiled asparagus in the oven, and then payed it forward a little by popping in two spaghetti squash to roast for Sunday night’s dinner.  I can get pretty impatient when I’m hungry, so when I have the opportunity to do a little extra prep, I take it.

The meat portion of the meal was brought to life with some rib eyes that were unbelievably good, and were accompanied by more ‘make it just in case’ chicken since the grill was fired up.

Fuel Sweat Grow: rib eyes

The side carb/fat combination came in the form of a salad: romaine, kale, avocado, cucumber, and almonds in a balsamic vinegar/olive oil.  Bonus vegetable was cauliflower, grilled until tender, and it was the perfect addition to the whole meal.

Fuel Sweat grow: salad

Dinner was done by the end of the game, which we won pretty convincingly, and there was happiness all around HOOville.

Fuel Sweat Grow: ACC Champ Dinner

It was a slow start into 28toLife, but the good news is that no one is hungry.  That’s the whole point — eat clean, fuel your body, and feel better.

This meal was everything I needed to get me through the night and kept me going for a long and strong interval on Sunday morning — and the marathon day that followed, including the BEST meal I’ve made in recent memory.