Quick Sweats + a FemCity Locavore Dinner

It has been a long last two weeks, which is only supported by the look of complete contention on Bug’s face.  She goes to day camp three days a week at Pampered Pets, which is probably her own personal disney land, but with people she loves instead of humans dressed as animals (she doesn’t love that).
bug stares

The unfortunate bit of her schedule is that on Tuesdays and Thursday’s she’s stuck at home and usually ends up watching me spend what she likely feels are her ‘best years’ doing work and checking emails.  These days have been especially bleak for Bug since the amount of work happening in the home office (and out of the house) is at a possible all-time high, and that is definitely saying something.

Somehow I’ve managed to fit in workouts most days, and try to take rest days when my schedule is just too full to rationalize creating another obligation.  I’m incredibly lucky to still be able to  go back to the weight room + athletic facility that I trained in when I was rowing for UVa.  All of the equipment is amazing, the strength and training staff is some of the absolute best out there, and it just feels like a second home to me.

McCue Center

Despite the amazing platforms and equipment, since I’m no longer training on a high level I try to avoid olympic lifting at all costs. I typically make an appearance when it’s too hot (or cold, or rainy) to use the Woodway treadmills – they are amazing pieces of machinery.

Last Thursday I stopped in and did a quick workout with a run + a small circuit:

  • 4 mile run
  • 25 wall balls
  • 25 sweepers (laying on the floor holding a bumper plate right above your chest + lift your legs taking toes to plate working on your lower abs)
  • 25 burpees
  • 25 air squats.

Normally I’d shoot for 3 – 4 rounds of this, but I was running out the door to get ready for our FemCity event, so I cut myself off at 2 rounds. It still started the big muscle engines though, I assure you.

Which brings us to the next item on the menu, literally: the FemCity Charlottesville Locavore Dinner Series.  One of the main purposes of Femfessionals, and our FemCity community here in Charlottesville is to connect, promote, and support women in business, across all industries and professional levels, to create a dynamic and powerful group of women actively changing and developing our city.  That being said, we love to have business (and human) connection events where members and future members can meet other women in the community.  The purpose of these events is to connect and share the passions, projects, and businesses that they put their time and energy into, hopefully increasing interest, support, and awareness for their work.

Last Thursday we launched a new dinner series to do just that, with a hyper-local focus that not only reflects our FemCity community, but also Charlottesville as a whole.  The event was limited to a small group of local women and was a dinner event where everyone was able to sit together, around the same table, connecting personally and professionally over a locally sourced dinner.  For this first one, I cooked, in the spirit of representing this very blog as well as many of our local bakeries, markets, and food vendors to keep things, well, local.

local asparagus from FEAST

It’s not too terribly difficult to accomplish an entirely local meal in Charlottesville, but it is somewhat expensive if you’re really committed to a tight radius.  I found some amazing asparagus, strawberries, and a local pesto at Feast! that cost a pretty penny but could not be beat in freshness and quality.

pesto

While I was at Feast! I grabbed some cheeses, including but not limited to, a great cheddar that I used to make some little grilled cheese appetizers, with local Breadworks bread (of course) in two flavors: 1) pesto + cheddar, and 2) granny smith apples + cheddar, all done directly on the grill.

the makings for grilled apple-cheeses

There are no pics of the finished project, but in full disclosure I did break from my typical no-bread stance and indulged in the apple and cheddar sammies, and it was TOTALLY worth it.  They are probably my favorite little treat snacks from recent memory.

I scored an amazing amount of produce from C’ville Market for less than $80, which always seems to be the case there, and had more than enough for all of the dishes, including the salad.

fuel sweat grow: salad

Mixed local greens, topped with avocado, cucumber, local strawberries, blueberries, and last but not least: sliced almonds.

fuel sweat grow: salad

I’m on a fruity salad kick right now, and have definitely been appreciating the surplus of local greens available at the market, so it pretty much just created itself with only a little help from my hands.

For one of the main dishes I went with my favorite veggie topping (zucchini, yellow squash, red + yellow peppers) all sautéd in coconut oil and served over amazing local fettuccine from Mona Lisa Pasta.  Even though they don’t have a gluten free variety yet, this pasta is made fresh in house, and is absolutely amazing.  This dish had half spinach fettuccine and half basil fettuccine to give everyone a little bit of choice in the matter.

fuel sweat grow: mona lisa pasta

In addition to the pasta we had gilled chicken from the Organic Butcher, marinated in either the local pesto or honey dijon, with a side of tomato mozzarella.

fuel sweat grow: chicken and tomato

The meal capped off with some SweetHaus cupcakes (and wine of course).

fuel sweat grow: sweethaus cupcakes

We had amazing conversations, a number of brand new faces, and an awesome night all around.  I could not be more excited for what is to come in our little FemCity, as well as all of the exciting projects and upcoming plans that all of our Fems brought to the table.  It was incredibly inspiring.

It’s so easy to get caught up in ‘work’ and the demands of every day life, and it was so great to have a casual reminder of just how energizing and productive it can be to sit down and share with no particular objective or necessary outcome.  We’ve got great programming coming up, so check our FemCity Charlottesville if you live here, or whatever Femfessionals community is close to you – they’re all amazing.

Memorial Day 2013: Red, White + Bourbon

I seriously considered posting a true photo journal of this past week simply because so much has been happening and I while I’ve managed to keep up my picture taking, I’ve been horrible at posting on here.  I’ll get us all caught up this week (that’s a promise) and we’ll be back on track right in time for me to take you on the road with me to Charlotte (again).

If I were to pick one picture from the last week that could pretty much sum up my life lately, this would be it.  My two essential must-grabs when I leave the house: sneaks and wallet.  Without them, I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere.

sneakers

Last Saturday (were I seem to have left off) was a sweet morning of ‘rest’ that involved running around town to hit up the city market and visit the top-secret (now about to be announced) new location of Fight Gone MAD Charlottesville.  The afternoon included a 25 minute workout jammed into a 26 minute available time frame, wine down the street with some neighbors to talk new business in Charlottesville, and capped off with a quick at home meal and heaps of wholesale/retail catalogues from Shelley at Diversified Sourcing Enterprises (our wholesale retail go-to friend).

retail orders

The meal was built on the fly, in a hunger panic, and with only the remaining ingredients left in the fridge.  It ended up being a lettuce wrap with a leftover turkey burger from two nights before, avocado slices, dijon mustard, and little side boats of yellow peppers, avocado chunks, and a drizzled natural ranch dressing (you know, for flavor).

avocado boats and turkey burger

Sunday felt like a bonus day since it was smack in the middle of the three-day weekend.  I had a ton on my to-do list that I wanted to knock out early which was pretty awesome for me, and apparently pretty devastating for Bug.

bug depressed

By mid-afternoon I was ready for a full workout and felt too hot to run, and managed to talk Dar into hopping on board with me for this workout.  It is a pretty close modification of Fight Gone Bad, and was just horrible enough at 3 rounds that clearly we did 5 rounds.

fight gone mad(isn)

I’m sure I would have managed to do it alone, but having another person (or 5 ) definitely helps to keep motivation up, even if it can’t dull the pain.

Monday was, of course, Memorial day, and was both incredibly gorgeous day and and incredibly fun.  Anita and Uday, our neighborhood social sponsors, had a joint bourbon tasting party and celebration for their friend’s birthday.

birthday bourbon table

There were neighbors, friends, kids, and most importantly, the most amazing Bourbon drinks I have ever had.

blackberry bourbon

The food was also awesome, and I had some great ribs, pulled chicken, slaw, pickles and a little bit of potato salad.

memorial day pulled pork and ribs

I had really been missing potatoes recently, but I have to say, it was the only thing on my plate that I didn’t finish – but that could have been largely due to the fact that everything else was so good that I ran out of room.

Once we had food in our bellies, it was game on.

bourbon

A full-on 7 round bourbon tasting was up next, and definitely propelled the party forward.

bourbon tasting

While I LOVED the blackberry bourbon drink, I don’t have much of a palette for dark liquor, so I sipped the rest of what I had and hung out with Asha and waited for the next course.

val + asha

Pecan Pie.  And of course, it gets even better.

pecan pie

Pecan Pie a la mode.  My dessert, and my life, were suddenly complete.

pecan pie a la mode

All in all, it was a successful holiday weekend, and by Monday night, even the dogs were ready to crash.  A+ for Memorial Day 2013.

IMG_3709

Some ‘Almost’ Summer Sweats + Eats

Happy Memorial day WEEKEND!  It feels a little strange to think that it’s already memorial day weekend since I’m not sure how we got to May, and have seen only a handful of days that I would categorize is truly ‘spring’ days, but hey, if everyone is in agreement I think I’ll just take it as the truth.

So far the weekend has been amazing.  Totally relaxed, driven less by a to-do list than a want-to-do list which is just beautiful in and of itself.  The lead into the weekend was pretty sweet with Thursday night’s bootcamp group rocking out a partner workout.

Workout: 3 station with 7 minutes of constant work for BOTH partners, alternating work at each station.

There was a 2:30 break in between rounds.

Station 1: 6 Box Jumps / 6 slam balls (counting rounds)

Station 2: KB swings / 200m run

Station 3: Air squats (or goblet squats w/KB) / Plank hold

After bootcamp was in a complete grilling (and using everything in the fridge) sort of a mood, so here’s what happened.

1. grilled asparagus.  made the usual way – light olive oil + sea salt.  grilled to tender, but not wrinkly.

asparagus

2. grilled turkey burgers! I bought ground turkey from Whole Foods a couple days prior so it was time to put it to use, so, that’s what I did.  I literally just made them into patties and added nothing except for a little ground sea salt on the outside.

turkey patties

While they grilled I set out the ‘fixins,’ which included iceburg lettuce for buns, tomato, cucumber, avocado and (not pictured) some amazing dijon mustards.  I always order the dijon at Citizen Burger Bar when I build almost this same burger there (but with Timbercreek beef and pickles instead of cucumbers) and it has this unbelievable kick that I can only assume is horse radish, so of course I bought some.

fixins

Here is my completed plate for a meal that was exactly what I needed.  I did add one more lettuce leave for full coverage (and control) of the burger, but it was amazing.

val burger complete

A few hours after dinner I somehow managed to make a slightly better choice than the Sweethaus cupcakes that Margaret had dropped off during her lunch hour, and had strawberries, blueberries, sliced almonds, a few mini chocolate chips, with a shaken coconut milk/cocoa/vanilla extract ‘sauce’ on top.  It was awesome and I got exactly the right amount of sweet from it.

dessert

Friday morning we had the 6 and 7 am bootcamps who did the same workout as the Thursday night group, and then I jetted off to Richmond for the morning to get some things signed and to get a little retail therapy in on the backend at Short Pump.  I scored some amazing new sneaks at Nordstrom and a new outfit at lululemon, of course.  By the time I got home (and after I woke up from a surprise hour-long nap) it was time for Friday’s after Five downtown.

There’s not a ton of graffiti in Charlottesville, or really much at all that I could even recall, but this was on the wall at my new favorite ‘not so secret anymore’ parking spot for Fridays.  There’s something about it that really actually appealed to me for some strange reason, and added a little color to a random and hidden side street.  There is a serious artistic talent to some of these sections that I totally appreciate and that actually make me miss making art.

charlottesville 'street art' charlottesville 'street' artcharlottesville graffiti art

Friday’s was awesome as per usual, despite the chilly winds that took the heat of the sun away, immediately.  Most of the usual suspects were out, and Dar of course managed to meet some new people that will likely now add the group of ‘The Usuals.’

Thanks to the chilly winds we did split a little earlier than usual to find refuge and delicious food at the upstairs bar in The Local.  I love the local in general, but there is something about sitting at the bar and getting to chat with other people, bartenders included, that really adds to the element of being out, and Dar and I were able to talk at length about new ideas and thoughts for the Fight Gone MAD grand openings here in Charlottesville, as well as in Richmond.

Sidebar: have you ever read the ‘history of the building’ section in the menu? It’s so very Charlottesville, and gives a great historic feel to the whole space.

The Local History

 

The drinks definitely helped the feeling of excited jubilance.

bold rock cider

They have my favorite Bold Rock Cider, which helps me cause greatly, and then my favorite courses of local meals around.

Local (Caromont) Goat Cheese Salad:

the local's goat cheese salad

Followed by the tenderloin special with no sauce, cheeses, or dressings of any kind.  Asparagus and red bliss mashed potatoes underneath.  It’s amazing people, you need to try it.

The Local's tenderloin special

That was a wrap for Friday night, and it was a good one.  Definitely an awesome lead into a three-day weekend full of beautiful weather and nothing but want-to-do’s.

More to come on that later.  Hope you’re all enjoying your weekends, let us know what eats, treats, and possibly even sweats (?) made their way into your holiday fun!

Rainy Day of Work, Workouts + Clean Eats

The excitement from yesterday’s announcement is still lingering, but thankfully reality has also set back in because we have a ton going on and it’s time to get back to work!

In addition to all of the Fight Gone MAD developments, FemCity Charlottesville is moving into the spring with some pretty awesome spring and summer programming that we could not be more excited for.

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The next event is coming up on Thursday, May 30th, and is the kick-off to our Locavore Fem Dinner Series all highlighting local Fem business owners, FemCity members, and inspiring entrepreneurs, as well as local farm to table fare.  Space is limited to each dinner, so register ASAP to reserve your spot!

This is an amazing opportunity to connect with other amazing Charlottesville Fem’s in a small group, sharing your business or professional goals, asking for feedback or connections, and hearing about the amazing projects that everyone else is working on as well.  Share, collaborate, connect, that’s the idea.

We’ll be sharing some really exciting, big, events that we’ve got planned for the summer and early fall that you don’t want to miss.  They’re going to be great, and we look forward to a ton of great engagement from Fems and Fem businesses!

In other news, while today was definitely a busy one, I got a head start early this morning on returning emails, checking off my to-do list, and was able to easy into the day.  I had coffee first thing, but after the pizza and cider celebrations last night I wasn’t ready for food until about 9:30.

Breakfast was spaghetti squash, zucchini and eggs scrambled together.  I never would have assumed it, but the spaghetti squash really adds something to the eggs, more of a texture than a flavor, that I love.

scrambled eggs with spaghetti squash

After I ate and had a few minutes to wrap up some ‘office’ work, I managed to convince my mind, and body, that I should do Dar’s 10:30am small group session.  I was actually really glad that I did, and in the moment believed that I was done for the day, but alas, I ended up doing the workout a second time with the 5:30pm bootcamp group.  I’ll let you all know if I’m able to walk tomorrow.

Today we did a 6 station circuit:

-Around the World Oblique work with a 15lb bumper plate

-Overhead Squats (walking) with 10-20lb bumper plates overhead (with arms LOCKED out)

-Getup Sit ups with a 15lb barbell

-break dancers -or- mountain climbers

-wall sit (with or without a 10lb bumper plate overhead)

-TRX pikes or knees to elbows

Each station was 1 minute of work, with 30 seconds off, for three continuous rounds.

After the 5:30 class my body was demanding dinner so I tried to put to use what was left in the fridge.

I had spaghetti squash, ground turkey, a zucchini, a red pepper, an onion and the 365 brand pasta sauce (no added sugars!) that all went on the stove. It was all seasoned with kosher sea salt and my favorite everyday seasoning from Trader Joe’s, of course.

food skillet of goodness

For the salad I had romaine, blueberries, avocado, walnuts, and cucumber.  Pretty simple, but a great mix of flavors and colors.

salad

It was a great blend of different (random) ingredients, and definitely replenished everything that I needed following today’s double workouts and hours at the computer and running around the house trying to get re-organized.

Tomorrow is another day of bootcamps starting bright and early at 6:15 am, so I’m going to take my own most common advice and get some sleep so I’m not totally dragging.  The only bonus to all of the rain is that it really helps me sleep, so I’ll embrace it and just appreciate my sleep rather than being beside myself about missing the sunshine.  Fingers crossed that we really do get to 70 degrees tomorrow!

Weekend Workouts, Events, To-do Lists & Relaxation

This weekend was a mix of everything.  Seriously, I think I did everything.  I worked, I played, I worked out, I relaxed, I soaked in the sun, and was soaked by the rain.  As I mentioned in my last post, this week was the first Friday’s After Five, which pretty much signifies the start of the summer season in Charlottesville.

charlottesville-pavillion

 For those of you who don’t know much about Charlottesville, it’s an amazing town that has an intense focus on community, a love for live music, and an absurd amount of amazing local beer and wine vendors that come together every friday from spring through fall to present a free concert series at the n’telos wireless pavilion on the Downtown Mall.  It’s amazing, fun, and completely taken for granted by those of us who no longer remember a life without Fridays.   Friday was sunny and beautiful, so needless to say the live music only made it perfect.

Saturday was a windows and doors open (but screens closed) kind of morning.  With coffee in hand I was able to get work done at a relaxed and pretty enjoyable pace.  I love having time to relax in the morning and use the weekends to prioritize my to-do list and schedule for the next week.  Since this week is shaping up to be particularly crazy (read: exciting), it was invaluable for me to have the time to get things organized.  The rest of the afternoon was pretty low key including dog walk + hill sprint adventure in the park that doubled as Tank’s 7th Birthday outing (and the best shot at tiring Bug out, even if just for a second).

bug says IMG_3262

Both dogs have 50′ leads instead of short leashes so they can have more freedom to run, but not enough slack to take off towards the street (or an appealing looking dog).  While the main purpose is to give them exercise and expend some of their pent up energy, let me assure you, it never fails to leave me winded as well.  As someone who typically prefers longer distance running (at least 3 miles), the short bursts chasing the dogs helps me to get in the sprints intervals that don’t make it into my routine nearly enough.

The rest of the night included dinner at Bella’s with great friends, and then the most entertaining parking lot event that I’ve been to in quite a while: CLAW.  I have heard about the Charlottesville Ladies Arm Wrestling group for years, but somehow never actually made it out to witness it first hand.  It was nothing like what I had imagined and was, in fact, amazing. 

CLAW

I had imagined pairs of super serious arm wrestlers sweating it out at tables, fully engrossed in the fiercest battles of strength.  And I imagined it was going to be scary, like sumo-wrestling scary.  It was neither.

CLAW is mostly theatrical, and fiercely entertaining with each competitor fully engrossed in their own special ‘persona.’  The wrestlers are escorted by full entourages of complimentary characters that tell a story sparing no cheeky (or blunt) innuendo or four letter word.  It’s fantastic.

The event always benefits a cause, this time supporting Common Ground Healing Arts, and was followed by a full fledged dance party.   There are 20 different leagues across the country now, all spin-offs of the original group here in Charlottesville (co-founded by Jodie, pictured on the right with the cowboy hat), so if you don’t live here, check to see if there is one near you.  It is more than worth your time.

Today was just as grey as the forecast predicted, which actually helped me to buckle down and crank out a few more of the tasks on my to-do list before getting in a short workout in the late afternoon.

DAR TABATA

Dar had done this workout just before I got out there, so those are her numbers for each round written in under each exercise.  Per usual I made a few changes to the program, this time simply using both arms for the swings, and replacing the Turkish Getups with plank variations keeping little to no transition rest in between variation changes or intervals.

One thing to remember with swings (which I don’t have the best or most complete or professional pictures for from today) is that it’s a hip hinge and extension.  It’s a common misconception to bend the knees to a near squatting position rather than focusing on the hinge and keeping an engaged and stable core.  It helps to start with the kettle bell in front of you just far enough that you can reach it from that hinge position without a deep knee bend.

KB swing setup

If you train with Dar on kettlebell technique, she usually refers to this position as the football hike position.  For girls that’s usually met with a sort of blank stare, but for guys it’s more like a perfect english translation to their understanding.

KB swing

To start the swing keep focus on the hinge and swing the KB high between your legs and then drive your hips forward to a full extension position, keeping your arms straight (holding ON TO THE KETTLEBELL) launching them up to eye level as you snap your hips forward.

KB swing KB swing

Dar is working on a series of kettlebell posts to help translate common misconceptions into proper technique, so hang tight, it’s coming to you soon.  As someone who didn’t start using kettlebells to train until the last two or three years, I have to say it is my favorite and most versatile tool for everyday workouts.  (If you don’t own one already, get one.  You can get them for cheap at target, and they fit in your closet.)

While Dar loves the turkish getup since it falls into her beloved ‘kettlebell movement’ category, I love planks.  I love lots of planks, for long periods of time, with little rest and lots of variations.

standard plank

Maybe it’s my pure barre background, or maybe it’s the plank holds we used to do in my ‘younger’ days, but forearm planks are a happy comfort place for me, relatively speaking.

side plank 1

I started to love side arm plank variations when I got into yoga.  My alignment isn’t quite perfect in these pictures, and my spirit fingers are sub-par, but the basics are there.  Since I was holding the plank series for nearly 4 minutes straight I transitioned through center with a slight rest in a straight arm plank until I was ready for the other side.

side plank 2

For the last 45 seconds I played around with a borderline mountain climber prep position, alternating sides for a knee to elbow movement that really helped to keep a more than steady burning through my core.

mountain climber

All in all this weekend somehow managed to be productive and relaxed, while also being activity laden and highly social.  I’m not sure exactly how that happened, but I’m not complaining.  The week starts for me bright and early tomorrow morning at the 6:15 bootcamp class, followed by a full day of task mastering so it’s time to shut down and scoot to bed.

Tomorrow we’re going to kick off a new (modified) real food challenge, so expect a little more nutrition talk complete with grocery lists and meal planning.

Easy at Home Workout: Barbell Circuit

Bug is pretty much summing up the ‘it’s been a long week’ sentiment that has been lingering in the air.  I’m not sure if last weekend just blended into the week, or if this week has been that non-stop, but I found myself being slightly jealous of her ability to throw down and nap, anywhere, anytime.  It’s an enviable skill.

tired bug

Since end-of-week workouts can be sort of blah when you’re drained, here’s one that I did with Dar last week for a quick and dirty garage gym workout that was felt for days.

circuit workout

This is a barbell workout, so anywhere you can find a 25lb, 35lb, or 45lb barbell, or just a really big stick (kidding!), you’ll be good to go.  While I love all the awesome toys that we have these days to make workouts more dynamic and varied (i.e. wall balls, medicine balls, bands, kettlebells, etc), sometimes it’s nice to keep things simple and just crank out a workout with one tool only.

barbells

This workout was TABATA style, 45 seconds on/15 seconds off, cycling through all the exercises and repeating the circuit for 4 full rounds. It did change a bit from how I wrote it out (note: ad-hoc arrows), so here’s how it works best:

1) composite rows: starting with the bar at/against your shins with feet hip width apart, and knees slightly bent. Drive through your heels to drive the bar straight up, standing tall, finishing with a high pull and returning all the way back down to the initial set-up and repeating the pull in a continuous cycle.  These are tough (essentially a narrowly set up sumo deadlift high pull, simulating the full body rowing motion). These were my nemesis circa 2002, thanks to Jim (GYM) Ferris.

2.  Back Squat: just what you think it is – standard back squat.  Feet about shoulder width apart, drive through your heels to keep your glutes and core engaged.  Since there’s no extra weight on the bar emphasize rhythm, sticking with a consistent speed and getting a full range of motion (hip crease drops below knee level). Think about pressing your knees out as you pull your hips towards your heels.

3. Push Press: Feet hip width apart, bar resting high on (in front of) shoulders.  Grip slightly wider than shoulder width, elbows in front (pointing at 45 degree angle), fingers wrapped around the bar.  Bend from hips and knees to initiate the dip, keeping your core engaged, drive through your heels to straighten your legs (and extend through hips). Finish by pressing the bar overhead right in line with your shoulders, hips and heels.  Just tilt your head back so the bar doesn’t hit you as you press it straight up to the ceiling (arms fully extended).

4. RDL : for this one you’ve got the bar in front, set up similar to the composite rows – feet hip width apart, slight bend in the knees, back straight (core engaged) and hinging from the waist.  The movement here is keeping your core engaged, weight in the heels, hinging forward until barbell comes to mid-shin, and standing straight up keeping the bar close to the body, and hinging back down to repeat.  This is one of my favorite moves of all time because it feel so good like a hamstring stretch while you’re doing it, but always leaves the glutes and hammies screaming the next day.

5. Front squat: Just like the back squat you’re keeping your weight in your heels and squatting until your hip crease is below knee level, but the bar is resting on the front rack position (on shoulders).  Arms are in front, elbows pointing forward and high, with the bar resting and balanced on your fingertips.  Unlike the back squat that emphasizes gluteal and hamstring work, this will light up your quads and tops of your thighs.

Like all interval workouts, the key here is really setting a consistent, and challenging pace.  If you push it during the work time, you are guaranteed to get your engines going.  If you just survive it, you’ll still be sore but you’re missing most of the benefit.

Give it a shot, and even modify whatever you’d like (time, weight, sequence) and let us know what works or doesn’t work for you.  We’re always playing with different combinations and love to change things up.

Happy Squatting!