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….

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The Middle Week + Work Travel

This past week, end to end, felt like a 9 or 10 day week.  As I sit now at the end of day 6 of the week, and day 17 of The Whole Damn Thing, I am just so happy to be this far along in the hard push that I knew January was going to be — and even happier that I am still rolling right along.

I was due in to Charlotte from Wednesday – Friday for work, and after a packed Monday and Tuesday trying to get everything ready, Tuesday night Yoga was more than in order.

fuel sweat grow: charlottesville opal yoga

A big group of us MAD ones got caught up in a non-stop Facebook thread that landed us in Opal Yoga at 5:30, prepped and ready for a near 90 minutes of Yin Yoga and myofascial release that was led by Mia in her Rasa Yoga Lab class.  And I needed it more than I even know.

fuel sweat grow: opal yoga charlottesville

Still sore from a killer workout on Sunday, my hamstrings needed some serious love to help recover and release.  While the early moments of the class my ability to make it through seemed a little questionable (my hamstrings were not remotely forgiving), ten minutes in I had generated some good heat, and slowly but surely things began to move a little easier, feel a little better, and ultimately felt amazing.

I needed it.  Not just my sore and stress bearing body, but my mind.  I needed the time away from everything else; the time in my own body, my own breath, and my own mind.  Even if just for a moment

Still in the zen-ish wake of savasana, I got to work in the kitchen cleaning out the rest of the fridge contents with a serious focus on getting meals organized for my trip.

fuel sweat grow: ground beef and roasted sweet potatoes

It was ground beef with zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers made the bulk of the meals, and roasted sweet potatoes with rosemary sea salt on the side.  The whole meal was plated with some leftover cole slaw (green cabbage, red cabbage, carrot, green onion, kale and a light olive oil and sea salt dressing.

fuel sweat grow: The Whole Damn Thing Dinner

While I loved this meal round I, the best part about all of these items and their flavor is that they are even better as leftovers.  Seriously.  When you travel as much as I do, and you’re constantly bringing food in tow, it’s important to plan meals that are good two to three days after the fact.

This particular meal got me through my trip to Charlotte (in several different installments), which was so critical since lunch is the absolute hardest time of day for me when I’m in the office.

By the time I got home, around 8pm on Friday night, I was beyond ready to be back to my Charlottesville routine — which I’ve got three (now two) days to enjoy before heading out to San Francisco for another work trip (though, I’m not fighting against mid 60’s temps, and my favorite city to visit).

Today kicked off with my two favorite Saturday things: MADabolic Cville and an almond milk latte from Milli Joe, and for that I am thankful.

Coffee, Recovery + the Sweetness of Life

There’s a strange feeling in the air; a slower pace than a typical monday, and a sense of calm that trumps the urgency that usually dominates the start of a new week.

fuel sweat grow: coffee is life

As I sat sipping my coffee this morning, a welcomed change to my typically hurried infusion of caffeine, I took a few extra minutes to breathe, settle into Monday, and embrace the Holiday calm.

The best part about the week of blending nothing and everything is taking more time to focus on what I’m really needing right now — some serious recovery sweats.

fuel sweat grow: sweat schedule Holidays 2014 We’ve gotten pretty into declaratory sweat schedules around here lately, a long-time habit from my lululemon days circa 2009-11, with a little more of the personalized branding to make it feel like home.  I’m pretty excited looking at this because I know how killer all of those days will be (in a good way), but also because I’m heading into a long stretch of…well, stretching…so expect a little revisiting the practice of Becoming a Supple Leopard and some new habit’s I’m forming to complement everything I’m putting my body through these days.  While I’ve been a little lax recently with my stretching and whole wellness routine, I’ve been creating balance with some other life choices that just fill my heart right up.

Last week amid the mayhem I opted to give my body an end-of-week break since it had been through enough with travel, gluttony, and constant pushing of December, and instead, I filled my usual Saturday morning sweat slot with two of the sweetest girls ever, and their amazing parent’s who are undoubtedly beginning a beautiful family adventure.

fuel sweat grow: Erin McDermotte Suki and Coco

Suki, my first (McDermott) White baby love, recently became a big sister to Coco (Collier Carrington White) and could not be more perfect for the role.  She’s lost none of her spunk or smooching skills, but has become an immediate protector and best friend to her sweet sister, as if her role was laid out perfectly for her.

I stopped by for a visit, and to give Coco some ‘welcome to the world’ gifts (any excuse to shop at Pottery Barn Kids + Baby), and of course ended up in my favorite room in the house, and the creative haven for Erin McDermott Jewelry.

fuel sweat grow: Erin McDermott Jewelry and Suki girl

The visit, the conversation, and the re-connection that I love every time I can make it in Charlotte was so much more than any workout I could have forced into the morning haze, and was exactly what my body and soul needed to take that first deep breath, and full exhale out as I moved closer to letting go for the Holidays.

Now, here we are on Monday, wrapping up all the loose ends, and creating space for relaxation.  It’s never a dull moment around here, but here’s to filling them with the joy and laugher of good friends and family to close out the year.  ❤

By the Grace of Coffee, this MAD week is ON

I know that there are 7 full days in a week, but somehow it always seems to be Sunday night.

IMG_7115

That was the thought that led off this post when I started it late Sunday.  Now it’s late Tuesday, proving two things: another couple of days have slipped past, each closer to Sunday’s return, and I’m constantly up, working, organizing, and writing late at night.  C’est la vie, I suppose, because if I’ve learned anything in the last 30 odd (literally) years of my life, it’s that I function best when in constant motion…as long as I’ve got some sense of organization and structure bracing my schedule.

Which of course leads us to food.  When things are crazy, but still functional, it’s usually a sign that I’ve made time for grocery shopping and cleared some therapy time in the kitchen.  I’ve been in the habit lately of hitting two grocery spots for different items: trader joe’s for produce and the general staples (coconut milk, coconut oil, almond butter, etc) and Whole Foods for the rest (avocados, meat, eggs).  It’s 100% a cost thing for making the two stops, because that’s obviously the only thing that can trump the convenience of Whole Foods, but the difference is substantial.  That’s not to say, however, that I don’t still impulse buy at Whole Foods.  It happens all the time, lately with my new favorite salad add-on: microgreens.

fuel sweat grow: sunflower and basil microgreens

I’m a sampler.  If you offer me a sample and it looks like something I would possibly eat (greens, soup, chili…anything but fish) I’m going to try it.  A year or so ago that habit led me to discover Keswick Gourmet, which has since become a favorite cooking staple; so obviously I’m a target market of sorts.  Last week as I walked into Whole Foods there was a sample table with these microgreens (sunflower and basil) dressed with light olive oil and sea salt.  Um, yes please (I bought two).  I played around a little with it for dinner, added some almonds, and ultimately mixed it in with romaine, some cucumbers, and other ever-loving salad add-ons.

On the stovetop I sautéed 2lbs of ground beef with onion (in coconut oil) and mixed the zoodles/spiralized zucchini right in there to soften slightly and soak up all the flavor. There’s a chance this might be my new favorite quickie meal….but I could just be caught up in the moment.

fuel sweat grow: ground beef zoodlesThe full meal looked like this and was arguably just as good as lunch leftovers, so again, if you have time to make more than you can eat, do it.  You’ll be thankful later.

fuel sweat grow: micro green salad and ground beef zoodles

This was exactly the right way (for me) to start the week, a structural component that has contributed to a pretty packed and productive week –  so far.  The other main contributor has been getting myself up (by the grace of coffee) for the 6 or 7am classes at MAD three mornings a week so I can relax and work without a deadline or a super packed end of the day.  It has been everything.

So, what have we learned here?  Coffee + early morning MADness + all the sunflower basil microgreens you can handle = an amazing start to a grey winter week.

A Head-down, Strategy in Focus, Hard March Kind of Week

There’s nothing like the start of an up hill week to keep you humble.  It’s an amazing thing how Friday can bring such a natural tapering of events and urgency, but Monday never fails to re-open the flood gates.  C’est la vie, I suppose.  Which brings me to #23to30 guideline #6:

fuel sweat grow: humble mondays

 

Over the last year I’ve tried to routinize myself enough to set aside a chunk of time on Mondays for circling back on loose ends and setting a basic plan for the next 5 days.  It’s always humbling, and somewhat overwhelming, to look at the full list of to-do’s, so I like to take a moment (coffee in hand, in immediate route to belly) to make an execution plan.  Workload isn’t something that scares me – believe me, I love to work and I’m terrible at vacation – but I have to have a plan or even smallest sense of organization and structure.  I need a strategy for how and why I am doing things and big picture approach –  without that, I suffer from what feels like a severe adult case of no-freaking-focus syndrome.  I’m pretty sure that’s not an actual ‘medical’ diagnosis, but it should be, because I think all my friends have had it at one time or another (we’re probably just passing it back and forth via viral emails and Facebook posts).

The reality is, no mater what, I’ll eventually get it all done, but I’d prefer to not waste my time (or others’) to get there.  Whether it’s work, life, or a combination therein, it all seems to be about perspective and and vision.  When both of those things are present in the foundation, it’s not so hard to deal with the unexpected, or adjust on the fly.  All in stride, and all with a deep breath, and all with trusty cup of coffee (or beautiful glass of wine).

So far this week has required many moments of pause, coffee drinking, and list-making….and the fact that it’s not even half way over should probably scare me, but thankfully the careful structure of my sweat schedule has added an extra precautionary layer to boost my mental preparedness.

We wrapped up MAD cardio week on Sunday with the longest, most grueling, and most intense hamstring and glute interval that I had felt in a while, so I took today as a rest day with the full-on commitment to my sweats for the rest of the week, as follows:

Tuesday: MADabolic

Wednesday: MADabolic

Thursday:  Run + kettlebells + band stretch (yep, i’ll be posting this)

Friday: MADabolic + Stretch

Saturday: MADabolic + foam rolling / stretch

Sunday: REST.

This weeks focus is a head down, strategy in focus, and a hard march on toward the end-zone as a restart to this final quarter.  The holidays are coming sooner than we think, and it’s time to get prepped, so who’s with me? I’ve got barely three weeks until I turn 30 and you better believe that 29 is going to finish out stronger than it started….and this year has certainly been a big one so it’s go time.

Pausing in Maine: Vegan Lasagna + Higher Vantage Points

Life has been stuck on fast forward lately.  Time is moving fast — too fast — and while all the balls still seem to be in the air, I needed to hit a hard pause, away from all the noise.  So, in the spirit of my new theme, ‘reconnection,’ I took off to Augusta, Maine…on this tiny plane.

fuel sweat grow: tiny plane to Augusta, ME

Destination #1: Belgrade Lakes.  My dad’s youngest sibling, my Aunt Patty, as lived here for 20+ years with her family, enjoying what feels substantially like the opposite of my life — and it’s wonderful.

Food and cooking has always been a central bonding force for this side of the family, and without fail, our first catch-up conversations happened in the kitchen a short 5 minutes after my arrival.

The project: vegan lasagna (pretty far out of my carnivorous wheelhouse, but surprisingly awesome).

The How to:

1. Sauce.  The sauce that goes into this dish is a lighter sauce (non-cheese laden) and, in this case, homemade.  [Ingredients: sundried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, fresh red pepper, 1c packed basil, garlic and lemon juice (+ a little water for consistency), all blended together.]

fuel sweat grow: vegan lasagna

2. Zucchini Ribbons: With a peeler, ribbon out zucchini, and spread it across the sauce, slightly overlapping.

fuel sweat grow: vegan lasagna

3.  Vegan Ricotta: Cashews, salt, pepper, and garlic.  Soak the cashews overnight, drain, and give it a whirl in the food processor with the garlic salt and pepper.

fuel sweat grow: vegan ricotta

4. Keep on layering until you’ve got a sweet stack of goodness packed together. Top with a little fresh basil, and then take a DEEP breath in through your nose.  That might just be all you need.

fuel sweat grow: vegan lasagna

Thirty minutes after I arrived in this quiet space we had a full meal packed and ready in the fridge (p.s. the lasagna is no bake — just a raw dish of vegness) and I was in bed before 10pm, which is usually a pipe dream for me.  Sleep was perfect with windows open, and what felt like fall air breezing in.  No alarms, no noise, nothing being demanded or expected from me in the morning, and it was wonderful.

I came down to this sweet note (Aunt Patty is known for her love notes, and even the most logistical ones are chock-full-o-love).  So, as you can imagine, I set forth making myself some coffee and spent the morning taking my time with a few things on my mind, going through the personal to-do lists that I never seem to get to, and ignoring any sense of urgency in the matter.

fuel sweat grow: sweet Maine mornings The rest of the day was spent talking, hiking, eating, cooking, and eating some more. The timeline was flexible, the moments were fluid, and nothing was set in stone.

fuel sweat grow: belgrade lakes, Maine

This was the view on one of our hike/walks, and could not have been more perfect.  Sometimes it’s hard to tune out or even just organize all the noise in our heads (at least it is for me).  I can’t tell you exactly why, but for whatever reason, there’s a clarity that comes from a little higher altitude and a broader view of the landscape.  Thoughts are more clear, perspective is reflective of the higher vantage point, and conversations are more productive.  I’m a believer in the big picture, the root and the purpose of people, moments, and lessons, and what possibilities exist in each experience and choice we are presented with in life — but I’ll be the first to say how damn hard it can be to maintain that mindset when faced with the small moments, minds, and crossroads in life.

This was only day 1, but somehow it felt like it could have been a week, and I’m so grateful for the pause, and such a beautiful place to go and recharge.  Dinner and some more amazing recipes to follow up, but for now, I’m disconnecting.