Charleston Turned 1 + We’re all MAD

It’s hard to capture all the nuances of the last few weeks in just a few short posts (because lets be honest, time is a bit of a scarcity), but hopefully I can do a little justice to the amazingness that is our Charleston team, and last weeks celebration(s) to wrap up the first year of MADness in the Holy City.

Of course, I worked, and thankfully this time I was able to move my full work station off the counter and on to my brand new favorite desk that I miraculously found here on Overstock and loved it in person way more than I even liked it online, which never happens — believe me.fuel sweat grow: charleston work station and deskWhile it was a little bit of a chaotic week for me (work wise) to be away from my normal routine, I have to say it was definitely nice to have something to look forward to at the end of the day – switching up from my typically preferred morning sweat routine.  It could be the salt air that makes afternoon classes seem more energy-rich, or maybe it’s just the people, but I had the best time sweating next to everyone that rolled in and out of my group, with special props going out to my all-star ‘ride and die’ group for our #MAD100 celebration on Thursday.

If you follow us on Facebook you’ll know that we typically have at least two MADones hit 100 classes each week, a pretty impressive feat for those who have been with us for less than a year.  We view it as an honor — for US — to have such awesome and committed clients rocking it out in our intervals, and wanted to acknowledge that mutual respect, of course, in the form of an invite only private interval for those very MADones who’ve rocked 100 (plus some).

And for the record; this wasn’t just any run of the mill sweat – we made sure of that.  It is anaerobic month after all — and believe me, I haven’t met an easy day in it yet.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston MAD100 private intervalWe’re talking about our group of die hards — and while there are certainly some newer faces chomping at their heels — these are the founding faces of our community and we are so freaking happy to have them walk through the doors every day.  Now, I’m not going to spoil the fun surprise of how (absolutely) awesome the photos from the interval turned out, so you’ll have to stay tuned to our FB page to see them trickle in here and there until they’ve each had their moment in the sun.

Of course, we’ve also got our coaches.  Our awesome coaches, founding and novice, who have all added their own personal touch to how we do things, what we value, and most importantly — what’s coming next.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston team photo 2015

I think it pretty much goes without saying that our newbies are settling in quite nicely – in part because they’ve been pillars in this community since the beginning, but in part also because I’m pretty sure they were just born awesome, which certainly makes our jobs much easier.  But in case you had any doubts, here are a few of my favorite outtakes, which I’d conversely term as the ‘definite keepers.’

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston team photos 2015

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston team photos 2015

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston coaches outtakes 2015

So, in a nutshell, last week was awesome, despite the fact that I spent the majority of my week days holed up for work in a pretty dark room.  It’s amazing what a little sunshine, a new (favorite) desk, and a couple parties can do to pull a girl out of a rainy day rut.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of making the end of this first year so positive and strong, and to all those whose energy and commitment has already made the start of year 2 even better than we could have imagined.

I’ve still got plenty of updates on food in Charleston and some more gratitude for our extended community, but this was plenty for today.  In summary: work is bearable if your desk is cute enough, sunshine and parties cure all ills, and every damn one of the people that make up our community is MAD, and that’s exactly how it all should be.

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The ‘On the Go’ Chronicles: Food + Love Edition

Life, lately, has been on the go — to say the least. Work and travel are the two main constants, and my long-time skills of throwing together quick meals for ‘on the go’ (or more accurately ‘on the clock’) have been more useful than ever.  The days of hurriedly eating over the sink have been pushed aside by the days of eating at the computer and at a stop-and-go pace that supports conference calls, emails, and all the other distractions that dominate the day.

fuel sweat grow: food on the go

I have a ton going on at all of my jobs right now so that seems to be a dominant theme in my life, and something that I’m both trying to balance and desperately organize so I can breathe a little easier.  I think what I’m working towards is more of an impossible mirage than it really is an achievable goal, but that’s pretty fine by me.  Landing somewhere in the middle is still somewhere closer to fine, and that’s still progress.

On days when things are beyond crazy, it’s not that abnormal for my eating schedule to be off, so I’ll either need a little snack to make up for an off-schedule, or to help me power through the mid-afternoon yuck that is 3pm.  Recently this little tomato / chicken / avocado salad has been my go-to with a little balsamic glaze and a crank or two on the sea salt.

fuel sweat grow: on the go snack avocado salad

Since I’m typically a proponent of over-grilling (in quantity) meat to force the possibility of leftovers, this is particularly appealing to me.  The balsamic glaze part is a little newer to me – not in concept, but mostly in obsession.  I went Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things for Memorial Day and they happened to be grilling avocado and watermelon out front, and sampling them both with the glaze.  I’m nothing if not a sucker for a tasty sample, and moments later I had all three items planted in my cart, all before I even stepped foot in the store.

Which takes me to my next obsession of the moment, and an incredibly simple throw together salad if you have the ingredients in ‘prepped and ready’ mode in the fridge.

fuel sweat grow: watermelon arugula salad

I’ve always LOVED watermelon, so this watermelon + arugula salad is seriously the best thing of my life.  Slightly modified for a stricter 28toLife/Paleo approach, it’s just a bed of arugula tossed in olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, topped with watermelon chunks, blueberries and chopped mint (not pictured).  It’s freaking good, and if you want to add in a little extra with some cheese or other snacks on top, have at it.  I’m pretty sure it is beautiful no matter how it is dressed up.

This past week has spanned all three of my cities; Charlottesville, Charlotte, and Charleston – and in that order.  I barely had any time in Cville to settle in or even really unpack before I was heading right back to Charlotte — but this time, work was thankfully balanced out by celebrating some love, and a fairly normal weekend (for a change).

Friday night brought a sweet relief from the work week, and an even sweeter night at the Vanlandinham Estate celebrating two awesome people – Kelli + Graham.

fuel sweat grow: Kelli + Graham Wedding

I’m not really sure how to explain Kelli outside of just saying that she’s incredibly smart, loyal, honest and supportive friend that anyone could ask for. While it was once difficult to believe that anyone would be able to fully match up to all of her awesome, it’s clear that she’s found that match, that best partner, and (most importantly) absolute happiness with Graham, and that’s more than enough for me.

After weeks (months…years) of crazy, it was such a welcomed break to enjoy and be present at such a beautiful wedding, on what might have been the most beautiful night of the spring so far.

fuel sweat grow: Vanlandingham estate wedding

This week has reverted right back to the desk eating and hurried meal creation, but after taking a little break from it all and a little trip into someone else’s bliss, somehow it doesn’t seem so bad.

I’ve got more food, b:core, MADabolic, and general life updates coming at you in the next week(ish) so stay tuned, and of course, let me know if you’re around Charleston this weekend and want to get in on celebrating the 1st Birthday of MADcharleston — it’s on.

Running Behind + Pushing Forward

I’m running a few behind these days.  A few minutes, a few days, a few (hundred) emails — whatever the unit is, I’m not ahead of the game by any means.  When life rains, it most definitely pours, and while that’s not always as dark and negative as it sounds, it’s still a little extra weight on the shoulders, hours off of sleep, and mental gear shifting.

Life as of late has been largely on the road, in a perpetual state of travel; working the southeast circuit of all my jobs there’s been very little time to get settled and dig out.  While living like a gypsy isn’t necessarily my preferred way to live (at least not anymore…and ‘at my age’ which was a horrifying phrase to even have cross my mind), I’ve found that as long as I have a kitchen, I can find a way to soldier through.

fuel sweat grow: kitchen time

I just need a little base with the potential for the sanity check and cathartic rhythms that I can sometimes only get from a kitchen.  Even when I’m out of my own kitchen, familiar recipes, tastes, and ingredient control brings me a serious sense of comfort — and I’m pretty lucky in Charlotte to have friends / family that are open to trying my favored creations and at least pretend to make really awesome yummy noises.

fuel sweat grow: dinner in charlotte

In Charleston I was lucky enough to have had the foresight to buy a ton of MODpaleo meals to stock the new apartment, and finally have a setup that allows for at-home meals and a little more balance amidst the travel life.  But…. it’s still Charleston, so you better believe I do a little restaurant loving while I’m there, while still trying to hold true to the 80/20.  Last Saturday night brought dinner at SALT, a definite favorite, and this dish of gluten-free gnocchi, sautéed summer veggies, and chicken in a homemade pesto, which i honestly couldn’t have loved more.  It was a big change of pace from my usual orders, and I think that actually made all the difference.

fuel sweat grow: SALT at Station 22

Now that I’m finally back in Charlottesville for a short stint, there’s just shy of one-million things getting ready to happen all at once, but at least there is a purpose and a passion driving everything that’s on it’s way — now it’s just time to get excited.  If you’re excited, I’m excited, and that’s all it really takes to make all the beautiful things happen.

While there’s still so much from this weekend to catch up on — like volunteering at the Cops4Kids event with the Police Foundation, some MAD sweats, and little birthdays, today is about the Mothers, and the rest can wait until tomorrow.

fuel sweat grow: grit coffee mothers day flowers

So, here’s to an afternoon of productive recovery, of excitement building, and all the beautiful things that fill our days and lives – like all the moms, moms-to-be, and moms-in-spirit who are hopefully enjoying a day of celebration, of rest, and of certain appreciation.

MAD + lifestyle = The Best Summer of Your Life

We keep talking about this ‘lifestyle’ thing.  We talk about what it means to us, what our lifestyles made up of, essentially, and how to connect all the pieces when it comes to what drives us forward. We spent last week in Charleston getting a few key things in order, doing some spring cleaning, and more than anything, getting all our ducks in a row to make sure that the lifestyle piece has the best opportunity to find it’s roots in the community as we close out year 1.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston Mount Pleasant

We happened to be there through Cardio Week – the most passionately loves and hated week of all, depending on how your lung capacity is.  Across all MAD locations, clients and friends commiserated with and encouraged each other through the sanding test of the previous three months, and it was awesome. Charleston, you impressed and pushed us through an amazing week, so THANK YOU.  And thanks to Donna and Tim for unintentionally defining the not-so-promoted lifestyle realities of Cardio week (relaxing low country afternoon, meet our friend, Advil).IMG_2464

With cardio week behind us, this week we’re getting back to the base (durability month), to strengthen us, and to propel us forward into our full cycles of the pace (momentum month) and then return to the race (anaerobic month). That’s where we build our strength, we sweat out stress, and push our bodies to function just a little better.  But that’s not the whole lifestyle – that’s a habit of passion, and the fitness side of things, and while it’s important it’s incomplete.

When we have new clients join our community, that’s kind of the hook — the sweating, the intensity, and the results.  The fitness piece is the starter that’s sparked by the diverse science that drives forward not only how we do our programming, but how we view fitness and health on the whole.  It’s about how you’re training your self: how you’re challenging your body and mind to push forward, to build strength, to increase endurance, and to know how to do so smartly, safely, and with balance.  The securing factor is community.  The connection, the interaction, and the full support of all members, that’s that keeps us growing — growing strong, not dilute.

The piece that completes us, and typically the final piece in the lifestyle for most of our clients, is food.  Food + Nutrition is the game changer.  It’s not something we pretend to be experts in, or something that is integral or forced from a membership perspective, but it’s truly the only way to overcome plateaus, increase energy, and complete the full cycle of the lifestyle.  It’s the maximizer of the group, and from what we’ve seen over the last few years, the thing that makes all the damn difference in the world.

fuel sweat grow: the whole damn thing

You can probably tell where I’m headed by this point…..because as we’re all headed straight into the sunny season (the bathing suit, beach all day, hanging by the pool and wanting to be active 24/7 season) we’re going to head towards local food, clean meals, and more conversation about completing this lifestyle.  Charleston, brace yourselves, The Whole Damn Thing is coming right at you….and soon.

This coming Monday we have MODpaleo heading over to MADabolic Cville for a little Meat & Greet / Taste Testing for their amazing pre-packaged meals that I’m so obsessed with.

fuel sweat grow: Meat and Greet MODpaleo

They’re truly the tastiest, cleanest, and most convenient meal options out there (at least in my life) and happily show up and deliver to all the places that I need in my life (that’s you Cville, Charlotte AND Charleston).

And Charleston (#MADcharleston if we’re being real), don’t worry, we did NOT forget you.  You’re about to get all up in the lifestyle with us  – even more – and we’re pretty pumped.  If you’re a planner, write this down: MODpaleo will be at MADabolic Mt. Pleasant on Monday May 4th from 6:15-8:15pm for a food sampling AND a little paleo fundamentals 101 talk at 7:30. You can count on more information coming your way soon, promise.

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo

So, it’s all happening.  This is definitely the cliffs notes version, but I can tell you with all certainty, it’s all happening, and it’s going to be amazing.  Make sure you’re tuned in over the next week because ALL THE THINGS will be coming at you, and we could not be more pumped.

On the Road Again – First Stop: Charlotte

The snow is gone, the weather is warmer, and apparently, travel is also back in full swing.  This week I got back in my normal routine and made my way down to Charlotte for a full work circuit.  While the vibe is definitely a change up from my normal Charlottesville pace, it’s also familiar.  I’ve lived in Charlotte enough times now to have an easy routine to fall back into.

I’ve got my favorite coffee spots, my go-to restaurants, my fitness favorites, and of course friends that somehow put up with my constant state of being ever-present and elsewhere all at the same time.  I’ve got a sweet little sometimes life there that I love, and a great city where there is constantly something new to try, to explore, and new centers of community.  This trip had a little bit of everything.

While my first ‘real’ day involved my office and a baby shower for a sweet friend and co-worker, my second day (post-work ritual) involved some full-body core action at Carolina Barre & Core, followed by a little happy hour and catch up with my friend Erin at her brand spanking new jewelry studio that I’m in love with.

fuel sweat grow: erin mcdermott jewelry

If I’m wearing jewelry, you can pretty much just assume that it’s one of Erin’s pieces, and if it has an elephant, you’ll know it’s one of my favorites.

fuel sweat grow: Erin McDermott Jewelry

You’ll be seeing much more of Erin, and some special new pieces at b:core in Charlottesville early this summer.  We’re pretty stoked to have her and her new little girls (or little kids) jewelry line share our community.

Friday brought another early dose of Carolina Barre & Core (Barre Fusion class), and some out-of-town community love.

fuel sweat grow: carolina barre and core

fuel sweat grow: carolina barre

By the end of that second class in just over 12 hours, and the fact that every Amity class I take completely rocks my whole world, I was ready for a little lacrosse ball release as we made our way down to Charleston.  Seriously, with so much travel taking up our lives these days, a few lacrosse balls and some foam toys can make all the difference in helping to counter balance the travel tightness.  You’d think that by now I would have learned to not workout and then sit in a car for hours, but apparently I haven’t, and my schedule never seems to make those allowances.

fuel sweat grow: little spoon CLT

So, after a quick coffee stop at Little Spoon, we were bidding adieu to Charlotte and en route down to Charleston to link up with our MAD coaches down here, check out the Bridge Run, and get the community juices flowing as we head into the spring season. Now, if I can just get my muscles to cooperate and stop whining over how dang hard the barre classes were….

Nights on the Town; Chuck Town

The weekend recap posted yesterday really only did justice to the Saturday portion of the weekend.  It did nothing to share the tremendous nights leading up to the Grand Opening Party.

I blew into Charleston Thursday evening after the longest short-day of work I’ve had in a while, and was ready for a night out on the town.   It’s about 3 hours on the nose from Charlotte to the Holy City, and by the time I whipped out of my office I was already in a mad rush (pun intended?) to get here in time — and I made it with a 10 minute turnaround from bag unloading to our departure time for dinner.

Our coach Donna, and her husband Tim (the unofficial mayor of the 6am MAD class), were the guides for the evening food tour — and they were amazing  [If there was ever a human that Dar would share her Mayor status with, it’s Tim.  None of the rest of us are worthy].

We started with drinks at Charleston Grill, and moved on to dinner at FIG, one of my new favorite Charleston restaurants – and for good reason.

I would have happily eaten anything on the menu, but to avoid overwhelming gluttony, I went with the heirloom tomato salad and the steak that was included on that day’s menu.  Both were amazing.

fuel sweat grow: FIG Charleston - tomato salad

fuel sweat grow: FIG Charleston

The end of dinner scene looked something like this (I think had 5 of my own wine glasses?), a true sign of a great night — but it didn’t end here.

fuel sweat grow: FIG charleston Wine

After dinner at FIG we marched on to Palmetto Grill to raise the bar on what gluttony means on a Thursday night, and dove fork first into four of their top desserts — including the (in)famous Coconut Cake.  This damn Coconut Cake is so amazing that it doesn’t even require refrigeration (read: BUTTER) and is most definitely a dangerous gateway drug.  If you haven’t had it, avoid it like the plague; if you have, may god have mercy on your soul.

fuel sweat grow: FIG Charleston

The transition from Thursday to Friday came FAR too quickly, and the 12:15pm class that I struggled through might as well have been a 4am class, but it was worth it.  There’s nothing like a little anaerobic MADness to shock the body back into action.

Friday’s recovery lunch was provided courtesy of Charleston Choo, our Saturday night event caterers for the MAD Charleston Grand Opening Party, and it was perfection.  They were parked in their caboose just a few blocks from MADabolic in Mt. Pleasant, which was lucky since I was about 3 minutes away from a total state of hangriness.

fuel sweat grow: Charleston Choo Wedge Salad

fuel sweat grow: Charleston Choo

I had a wedge salad, followed up immediately by a hamburger on a lettuce wrap with bacon, tomato, onion, and a fried egg to top it off.  It was the perfect blend of a hangover helper and a good carb / fat / protein blend to serve as afternoon fuel.  Again, if you haven’t checked out our buddies from Charleston Choo, do it.  Find them wherever they may be squatting in the Holy City and grab a bite.  You can thank me later — just as I’ll take this moment to thank Scott from Charleston Food Bloggers for recommending them!

Friday Night was another amazing night hosted by Donna and Tim — but this time at their beautiful house with our coaches for a little development.

fuel sweat grow: MAD coaches development

The full details of conversation, learnings, and the amazing amazing culinary masterpieces of Tim, ‘Mayor of MADcharleston,’ will be coming later this week since I’m far too much of a goals / strengths / development dork to summarize it in a few short sentences.

Needless to say, this was a strong start to the four day weekend that was rounded out with a little more Charleston, fun with our coaches and clients, and a lot more gluttony– because everyone needs a vacation, no matter how short.