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.


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.


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).

A Little of This, A Little of That

So, on monday I made a rookie mistake.  I planned and cooked one of my favorite meals, and even brought out the good camera to capture the whole thing.  What I failed to do was make sure the memory card was actually in the camera.  So, sorry folks, no pictures.

That being said, here’s what was on the menu (and the grill):

  • 2lbs of whole food’s skirt steak (a great option when they’re out of flank.  and flat iron.)
  • grilled asparagus, and zucchini
  • romaine based salad with avocado, cucumber, walnuts, and tomato

The food was delicious, and the presentation was majestic, sorry you can’t see what it looked like.  What I can show you is the hasty leftover salad that I put together on Tuesday afternoon during my ‘working lunch.’


Don’t let the lack of frills fool you, in the moment it tasted like the best thing I had ever eaten.

leftover lunch

It has been a more than beautiful week this week, so in the spirit of enjoying that I took some work outside with me after lunch to get a little extra vitamin D, and to (hopefully) also bring a stop to Bug’s incessant requests to go in and out  of the house.  It worked surprisingly well and once I was stationed outside she decided that her only option was to stay outside and be quietly miserable.  bug outside

I did the 7am bootcamp yesterday with the group while Dar coached which was awesome.

30:30 (4 rounds)

  • Box Jumps / rest
  • Push ups / Plank
  • Kettlebell swings / squat hold
  • star jumps
  • Breakdancers

So, to better explain the bullet points, the workout was 4 rounds of 1 minute rounds split into 30 second segments.  For box jumps it was 30 seconds on, then 30 seconds off (rest!), but for the push ups and KB swings, they both had active rests with planks and squat holds, respectively.

In the most surprising turn of events, one of my group partners, Uday, turned to me after round 1 and said ‘lets do 45/15 on the full rest sections.  Now, I’m not sure if he was having a particularly good morning, or just trying to compete with his wife (the amazing Anita of Maliha Creations ) that did the same workout in the 6am bootcamp, but we made the switch and I definitely felt it immediately.  The only other change I made was holding a 12kg kettlebell for a goblet squat hold.

I managed to get my act back together at dinner, so here are a few food scenes from what was an awesome rainy day meal.

Roasted cauliflower on the grill, seasoned with salt.

roasted cauliflower

The ‘main course’ and future lunches was a mix of onions, ground beef (local!), zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, and red peppers.  It was all just seasoned lightly with sea salt, but had an amazing flavor thanks to the beef.

beef. it's what's for dinner.

On the (other) side was a sweet little tomato and avocado salad, seasoned with salt, balsamic, and a tiny bit of olive oil.

tomato avocado

This meal had a 20 minute turnaround, and provided leftovers for the next two days.  I’m huge on having leftovers on hand to grab and go, or quickly eat sometime between breakfast and an afternoon snack (some might call that meal lunch…).  It really helps to put it in serving sized containers so it’s easy to organize and take with you.

I spent most of this week working on stuff for Fight Gone MAD, from social media, to retail ordering, and a million details in between.  We’re getting closer and closer to announcing both of the actual locations, and I could not be more excited.  I love the spaces we found, our builder is a rock star, and the designs all look amazing.


Anyone ready for the grand opening party?  I am.  Seriously, that’s one of the things on my to-do list, probably one of the least important, and I have a million little notes on what it’s going to look like.  I did a little professional reflection this week, and on my personal blog, and am just so excited for everything that we’ve got going on right now, and that I’ve got going on, despite the million directions I feel like I’m constantly going in.  This is the good stuff – it’s the beginning – and the beginning of something awesome.

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.


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!

Snow Days are to Be Celebrated, By Cooking.

This week Charlottesville (and certain randomly selected pockets of the east coast) got hit with a one day blizzard.  In 24 hours the skies dropped slightly over a foot of snow, effectively causing a state of emergency and shutting down the town.  Oh yeah, and 60K residents lost power for days.

While most of the city was wishing they had gone to the grocery store, living in unheated and dark houses with only candle light and pantry snacks, Bug had the best day of her life.

bug says

Despite a 3 hour break from heat and electricity, nothing super eventful disturbed what otherwise could have been termed as a perfect snow day.

I had managed to squeeze in a grocery run on Tuesday night around 10pm, immediately prior to (and a little during) the start of the storm.  The amazing thing about eating clean and only shopping the perimeter of the store (produce, meat, eggs + wine..yes, wine) is that most people freaking out over winter storms stock up on milk, bread, and snack foods, leaving fully stocked shelves where I was looking.  Had we lost power long term (like so many other Charlottesville residents) the food would have gone bad, but thankfully the outage was short lived and as soon as the power came back on food cooking commenced.  And it became a big production.

I started by sautéing zucchini with mushrooms and coconut oil.

snow day food: fuel sweat grow

Added some spaghetti squash that had been roasted in in the oven, and seasoned it all with the trader joes everyday seasoning and ground sea salt.

spaghetti squash: saute

[If I had it to do all over again, I would have drained the pan post-mushroom softening but pre-spaghetti squash adding.  Regardless, it tasted good, and was the perfect replacement for pasta.]

While that was cooking, I popped the asparagus (lightly drizzled with olive oil) into the oven to broil on high for less than 10 minutes, until they were tender but still slightly firm.

fuel sweat grow: asparagus

The salad for the meal was angel/thin cut cabbage, purple onion, slivered almonds, ground sea salt and pepper, mixed with white wine vinegar and olive oil.

cole slaw: fuel sweat grow

Add to that my favorite guacamole and flank steak, and we had enough food to ensure that we didn’t go hungry, should the power flicker back off.

fuel sweat grow: avocado
starting the guac. secret recipe not included.

Thankfully the power stayed on, but we were fueled up and ready to go, no matter what the weather brought our way.

fuel sweat grow: snow day meal

I considered for a moment doing a kettlebell and bodyweight circuit at home, but in the spirit of celebrating the snow day, I moved around the house getting myself organized and let that suffice as a workout.  Sometimes your body tells you when it’s time to rest, and sometimes the universe does.  When you live in the south, snow days are meant to be celebrated, and not taken for granted.