Scenery + Serenity: Coming and Going in my Everything Place

This is what it looks like to drive through Virginia.  The beauty of this state in and of itself is something to behold, but for me, in my life of constant transit, it’s so much more than that.

fuel sweat grow: charlottesville virginia

When I drive through Virginia, whether I’m en-route to Charlotte, or heading back into Charlottesville, there is a distinct serenity that I get from the scenery — and probably also the fact that it’s the only time I get completely to myself, without having to be in any particular place, or being chained to a computer.  With that being said, while I revel in the space and time to myself whether I’m coming or going, there is the distinct feeling of letting go of whatever might be weighing me down when I drive into the Charlottesville city limits.  This place is my everything place.

Last Friday as I drove in after spending the week in Charlotte there was more than just a sense of calm — there was an immense amount of anticipation since this weekend was packed full of goodness.  Just a few short hours after rolling into Cville, it was time for the Tom Tom Founders Fest (fall edition) Block Party at the McGuffy Art center; an event that we ( MADabolic Cville ) were sponsors for.  So, as you can imagine, the troops were out dressed in some MAD gear, chatting up friends and strangers, giving away our beer tickets liberally.  And it was awesome.

fuel sweat grow: MADabolic Cville at Tom Tom Founders Fest

From what I gather there were over 6,000 people there, which is a tremendous amount of people to have anywhere in Charlottesville at any given time (well anytime that isn’t Friday’s After 5).

Saturday kicked off with some of my favorite people at MADabolic Cville on what turned into one of the last lingering days of summer weather in the beginning of fall.  And let’s be honest – this was all made possible by the caffeine I imbibed first thing in the morning to start the engines.  I can’t tell you HOW much I miss my (house made) almond milk lattes from Milli Joe when I’m out of town.

fuel sweat grow: milli joe almond milk latte

After class while we were waiting on a call with our western business partners, Dar and I hit up Brazo’s Tacos pop-up shop that is running out of our building for 60 days in the Al Dente space from 7am – 2pm.  And let me tell you — it’s GOOD.   Great local ingredients, and a build your own basic template so you can eat as clean as you want (we went with eggs, bacon, avocado and eggs, steak, avocado, and they were killer).

fuel sweat grow: brazes pop up taco shop

There was just enough time post-lunch to get cleaned up and head over to Scott Stadium for a little UVa v. Kent State action….and a big fat W.

fuel sweat grow: Virginia Football ( UVA )

Post-game Saturday was mostly an exercise in unwinding and getting back on track with life.  Some strategic planning, but mostly couching and cooking good food, which is what has been missing from my life lately.

Sunday brought some more culinary goodness for breakfast (scrambled eggs with ZOODLES!) and a long walk downtown to shake out some of the soreness and overall tension that my body has been carrying.

fuel sweat grow: scrambled eggs and zoodles

Following some time up at MAD, some of our kickball crew hit up the UVa Baseball game v. Towson, to cap off a full weekend of Virginia Sports lovin’.

fuel sweat grow: virginia baseball

This week is a de-loading and re-loading week from end to end, from it being #MADcardioweek, all the way to my own sweat schedule that is touting more yoga/stretch than I’ve given to my body in a long time.  It’s also time for some major fall organization, and strategy implementation for ALL my jobs, setting a solid new schedule for some work/life balance.  Pretty exciting stuff if you’re a dork like me.

While I’m not getting the time and serenity of a several hour drive through the Virginia country side this week, I’m just happy to find some security and balance in the chaos of home.  There’s something to that, and I can’t imagine life any other way.

Tiny Dog Camp, a Rest Day + Wednesday Chaos

Today was a day that seemed both endless and unstoppable.  It was so chaotic that I lost total bearing of myself and my surroundings.  I didn’t finish my coffee; I spent a solid 5 minutes midday trying to remember what I was looking for (the answer was a post-it to remind me of the very important thing I then couldn’t recall); I fell off my rocker at work; and then, as if that weren’t enough, the unthinkable happened — I forgot to pick my Bug up from day camp.  I failed tiny dog pick up 101, and if we’re being totally honest, that’s a pretty low bar.

fuel sweat grow: BugSays
note: this is the little peanut. but this is NOT a picture from tiny camp. she does not get tied up. really ever.

For the past two years I have joked about, and feared, the possibility that this day might come, and low and behold, here it is.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it would land on a day that tipped the scales of chaos — who would forget their dog on a normal day? Wait…lets not tempt fate.  The good news is that I didn’t forget her ENTIRELY,  I was just late, and she didn’t have to spend the night.

That all being said, this evening didn’t exactly go as planned, and I got an unexpected and much needed rest night for my body.

So far this week my sweat schedule has been MAD (pretty literally), and I can feel my body desperately craving a little lovin’.  Here’s the week spelled out, end to end.

Monday : Run + MADabolic

Tuesday: MADabolic

Wednesday: REST ❤

Thursday: Run + Stretch class at truPilates

Friday: Run + Bodyweight circuit (to be posted)

Saturday: Monkey Gym Infused Pilates at truPilates

Sunday: MADabolic + downtown run

fuel sweat grow: MADabolic

So, in the spirit of putting the day behind me and moving on, I’m saying hello to tomorrow.  You, Thursday, have all the makings of an amazing day and I’m excited to meet you.   While chaos has been a main theme around here lately, it’s all for the better.  There are some pretty exciting things coming up for me, for MAD (cville) and projects beyond my current scope.  There’s no time like the present, so you better believe I’m going to try and squeeze every last drop out of what time I do have.

Prepping for the Week + The Whole 30 Challenge

There are some weekends that stand out from the rest, and this weekend was one of them.  Fall is in full swing in Charlottesville, and things in MADville are getting crazier by the day.  A full social, sweat, and food recap of the weekend is in order, but I need to take a day or two to get myself in order and honestly just recover from what feels like a week of constantly being on the go.

While this week is another over-full week of work and life (in a good way), the most exciting for me is a client-driven restart on the food front.  Some of our clients signed themselves up for the Whole 30 challenge from Whole 9 and are starting tomorrow.  Hearing this was awesome not just because I have a group to motivate and recipe share with me, but also because it’s such a huge part of the lifestyle and health change we continue to love seeing slowly take over this community.

Since I was out for most of the weekend and didn’t have a kitchen at my disposal to prep meals, I’m a little behind, but I’ve committed to getting my life together tomorrow to walk (or eat, really) side by side with this group as they start this 30 day push.  That being said, here are a few of my favorite / must-have ingredients, recipes, and just generally amazing food to lead off week 1.

fuel sweat grow: Whole 30 Grocery list

STANDARD Grocery List:

– Chicken (skinless, boneless, thighs or breasts)
– ground beef (or turkey / chicken)
– applegate farms chicken sausage
– yellow & purple onion
– zucchini / yellow squash
– red/orange/yellow bell peppers
– mushrooms
– cauliflower (2 heads – I ❤ it)
– celery
– carrots
– spaghetti squash
– avocados (MANY)
– asparagus
– (local) Keswick Gourmet Marinara Sauce (the only one WF sells that does not  have added sugars…and it’s local, so that’s a bonus)
– kale
– romaine
– cucumbers
– broccoli slaw (only at Trader Joe’s)
– blueberries
– green apples (usually 6, but if i’m making the streusel recipe about a dozen+)
– bananas
– strawberries
– lemons / limes
– almond butter
– coconut oil (for cooking)
– olive oil (for salads only)
– coconut milk (light)
– eggs (I buy 2-3 dozen at a time….but I’m also usually feeding Dar)
– plantain chips (only at Trader Joes — NOT to be confused with banana chips)
– almonds (whole and slivered)
– sunflower seeds
– fresh ground almond butter (if it’s not ground fresh, check the ingredients to ensure it’s just almonds and doesn’t have added sugar or chemicals)
This isn’t totally exhaustive, but for the most part every recipe that I make that is an ‘everyday’ recipe includes these ingredients.  Every once in a while I’ll really branch out, but only if I’m making a new/special recipe.  These staple items will still be stocked in the fridge.   The MOST important part of staying sane during the first week or two as you quit sugar and adapt back to real food is to HAVE food available.  This is not a starvation diet — you NEED to eat, so make sure you have good clean food available and prepped to keep your energy up and balanced.
fuel sweat grow: grocery list and meal prep
The easiest thing to do is to make a big dinner on Sunday night (or any night really) with several sides and spend some extra time chopping things up (like zucchini or celery, etc) to have ready for cooking or snacks.  I’ll usually roast a spaghetti squash or two on Sunday while I have time so it’s ready in the fridge for quick meal assembly since my week nights (and days) are usually much tighter on time.
Here are a few favorite meals that can all be made with the food on the grocery list above, and save amazingly well (read: amazing leftovers and quick grab-and-go options).
  • [Lunch / Dinner] Thai Chicken Stir-Fry is probably my favorite rainy-day or winter meal, but it’s still awesome in the summer with cauliflower rice OR over spaghetti squash. There are no exact measurements, but the feedback we’ve come up with is that adding a little more coconut milk for a thinner sauce is better than a really thick one.
  • [Lunch / Dinner] Spaghetti Squash Bolognese.  It keeps AMAZINGLY well as leftovers, so this is a great one to make in excess and pack up for lunches during the week.
So, to our Whole 30 first-timers getting ready to give up all of their ‘favorite foods’ tomorrow…. congratulations, you’re about to know what it feels like to be fueled with the best stuff on earth – REAL food.  It will change your life.
For other general ideas, search salads, vitamix (for smoothies) or dinner, or check out the eats or fuel categories on the blog.

 

Welcome to Fall: Comfort Food + Charlottesville Weekends

It’s fall.  It’s a leaves changing, crisp air breathing, college football kind of fall, and I’m so in love with it.

fuel sweat grow: pumpkins and fall

I love warm weather just as much as the next winter-fearing southern transplant, but there’s some naturally ignorant draw to the changing of the seasons that fools my body and mind into thinking that there will be a favorable outcome, or at least a perpetual new reality where life is all hot-chocolate, boots, and pumpkin everything.  And listen, if there’s a world like that somewhere, please send me the coordinates.  I’ll be there….fully engulfed corduroys, a turtleneck and tall boots – because that’s my jam.

This past weekend, despite Saturday being unreasonably hot, was a beautiful first full September weekend in Charlottesville.  Football, the downtown mall, long sleeves and my first hot chocolate provided the perfect lead in to what I’m hoping will be a little calmer season than the last.

Sunday, outside of just football and the steep break in the weather from Saturday, was the perfect day of balance and organization.  The morning included my favorite Sunday activities – coffee, breakfast, and strolling the downtown mall, and in the process, seeing this sweet little love note on the door of Mudhouse downtown. [MUD + MAD = <3].

fuel sweat grow: charlottesville mudhouse downtown

Early afternoon kicked off at Citizen’s Burger Bar in tandem with the 1pm NFL kick off, and was followed up by a nap, a trip to HomeGoods and Whole Foods, and then an evening of food prep glory.  It was perfect.

For this week in food, a few things went into production to prevent any meal driven panics, starting my favorite Spaghetti Squash Bolognese. As far as clean eating goes, it’s one of the best cold weather comfort foods you can imagine, and might be even better reheated (so make a LOT and pre-package lunches for the week if you can).

The squash was already roasted, so I took some ground beef from Whole Foods, simmered with squash (zucchini and yellow), and then added in the ‘spaghetti’.  The sauce was my favorite (at least favorite store bought), Keswick Gourmet, made locally in Charlottesville.

fuel sweat grow: spaghetti squash marinara

fuel sweat grow: spaghetti squash bolognese

While this was happening on the stovetop, SO much more was happening all around it to make my new favorite pack and go snacks, including chopping, grilling, and even more stove-topping.  The result: amazing spring rolls.

fuel sweat grow: hand rolled spring rolls

I made a batch of these last weekend in Maine with my Aunt, and immediately got all of the necessary ingredients to bring them back to my everyday life.  Stay tuned for the full scope update with recipe options and process.  I’m obsessed.

I guess the cliffs notes version of all the above is: welcome fall, you’re beautiful.  The rest of the week is promising to be pretty awesome as well with the cool air sticking around, amazing sweats, happy hours, live music, and food throughout.

Peace Driven Anxiety & Labor Day Weekend

This was my view this past weekend as I sat on the porch checking in on work.  The only real noise came from birds, a calm in the air emanated through the fog, and there was no where to be with any sort of urgency.

fuel sweat grow: #takethelake maine wedding

It was beautiful, calm, and so far from my norm that I started to actually get peace driven anxiety.  I officially fail vacation.

The good news is that I managed to rein it all in and march on like a normal(ish) person thanks to the incredible surprise gift of wifi and was able to check in virtually to the happenings in Charleston and Charlottesville.  I’m not going to say I wasn’t sad to be missing out on what looked like some amazing packed classes of my favorite people, followed by the first UVa Football game in Charlottesville and beach trips in Charleston, but I had something a little more rare waiting for me in the afternoon — one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever seen (pinterest wedding boards included).

fuel sweat grow: #takethelake Wedding in Weld

The wedding was held on a beautiful property in Weld, Maine, recently purchased by Linda Bean (of L.L.Bean), with the ceremony looking over the lake and the reception in an incredibly beautiful and newly renovated barn…that was almost immediately filled with 140 screaming, dancing, and laughing people.

fuel sweat grow: Wedding in Weld #takethelake

The wedding details and decor were gorgeous, and even more impressively, were largely created and arranged by the Bride’s family members.  I have always known Emily to be artsy (exceptionally amazing at cookie design), but I had no idea that it was such a strong family gift.

fuel sweat grow: #takethelake Wedding in Weld

In addition to this being a beautiful wedding for two beautiful people, it was also a mini-reunion with one of my very favorite people from college.  I met Laura while we were both undergrads at UVa, and she quickly became my workout, healthy eating, and too-many-selfie taking friend who was a constant in the rest of my college career.

fuel sweat grow: weld wedding selfie

After graduating from UVa we both moved to Philadelphia, Laura to go to med school and me to return for my first job in my hometown.  Over the next three years I got to meet her growing friend group from medical school, which included her brother Daniel (groom) and his now wife, Emily.  Amazing people all around, and the faces that can be seen in a majority of the pictures from my early – mid 20’s.

All in all this was one of the most beautiful and rustic weddings I have ever been to, and was complimented nicely with the high energy, major love, and complete involvement of both families and all of their friends.  And there’s not much that can top that.

The remainder of the long weekend was wrapped up back in Belgrade Lakes, in the kitchen with my Aunt, making a pretty awesome Monday night dinner before what turned out to be the worst / longest travel day of my life on Tuesday.  More on that later 🙂

Thanks to the Spectors and Godbouts, and all that fall in between, for making the #takethelake #spectorwedding such a beautiful experience.  And, of course, many happy years to Emily and Daniel as they grow their own arm of the family.