A Purposeful Break in the Routine

Life lately has been a balancing act, a constant grind, and at times an overwhelming pursuit of magically jamming 36 hours of work into 24, with no consideration for how.  Like anyone else, when I can’t fit work between 8a-8p, the day (‘graciously’) extends itself to fit the need; and all the ‘for me’ things on my docket become expendable suggestions rather than the priorities they should be.

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I have clients who have this issue constantly, because, well we’re all human beings, and my rational informed answer – to them – is that they need to make themselves a priority; you’ve got to put your oxygen mask on first if you want to be of any use to anyone else.   It’s the good old ‘do as I say, not as I do’ cliche, as I wonder if maybe I left my oxygen mask in my other bag or inadvertently gave it away in a box of old forgotten things.   During really busy weeks I will frequently basque in the irony that I own three fitness businesses and I can’t seem to get into a class to save my own life.  These are the weeks when I confuse ‘fitness’ with ‘health’ and understanding what I really need to be able to sustain a pace anywhere close to what it’s been lately.

The reality is, that sometimes you just need to give yourself a damn break; whether it’s a real unplug and go off-the-grid type break, or just the grace to be imperfectly human and an actual better, truer, version of yourself — or maybe both.IMG_7119

So here are the things that I’ve really learned, and am learning, about life and myself as I chew through the ‘too much’ that I bit off in 2016; and while I’m working on getting that balance, or ‘blend,’ back in the corner of my most productive, healthy & happy self, since lets be honest, those bites have never been, and are not likely to ever get much smaller with what I’ve got on the docket.

  1.  Fitness is everything, but it’s not the only thing.  I obviously believe strongly in fitness as a mechanism for overall health and wellness, because it is, but that doesn’t mean that 365 days a year of it is ‘healthier’ than a schedule that has balance and recovery — because it’s not.
  2. Take a break.  Whether you plot out two days a week that you go to yoga or stretch class rather than doing something higher intensity, or you literally cut-and-go on vacation – give yourself that break from the grind once in a while, and love every second of it.  Including the food that makes you say YUM.
  3. Do one thing a day that brings you happiness, for the sole reason that it makes you happy.  While I sometimes will go through a full day without a spare second to myself  the one thing that I do every.single.day., unless something is gravely wrong, is have my coffee.  It brings me joy, [relative] patience, comfort, drive, focus….and any of the caffeine generated superpowers required to not lose my shit on the days of constant demands and not-so-emergencies that pile up higher than my most lofty ambitions.  Pretty much coffee saves lives, but more importantly, it makes me happy and that in and of itself makes my life possible.
  4. Cut out the crap: the food, the jobs, the drama and the people that not only bring you down, but actually stunt your ability to do and thrive.  On the food front, rid yourself of the chemicals, but not the joy of eating.   Quit any jobs that you hate; not with abandon, but with the intentional process of setting yourself up to have a development path, to achieve something you’re proud of — because if you’re not motivated to do the work every day, you’re not the right person for the job.  When it comes to drama and the people that create it, forget them. They will always create it and they’ve got no value in your story; don’t waste a pretty little second on it.
  5. Know where you are going: life can certainly be an inexact science, but you will never regret working (and I mean REALLY working) towards achieving something.  If that process lands you somewhere a little different, well, that’s freaking awesome, but never stop learning, never stop developing, and never ever stop building for the future.  If you earn it, you will always deserve it.

And on that note, it’s back on the grind tomorrow, but I’ll be reminiscing about vacation all over the internet for the days to come.

Fueling the Extra Mile + The Longest Week of 2014

This last week, hour for hour, was without a doubt one of the longest of the year.  After last weekend’s marathon of holiday parties, a week of complete insanity and over-booked days of work and bid’ness was seriously cutting it close to my capacity limit.  But thankfully, like always, I somehow live to tell the tale (but in all honesty, I had an airborne for snack this afternoon and have been in my PJ’s since 2pm…so the candle may have burned a little too long).

Monday and Tuesday brought early morning sweats at MADabolic Cville, and a lot of end-of-day food prep to fuel incredible conversations, strategic planning, and serious contemplations about the broader concept of development with some of our favorite MAD ones.  Tuesday dinner was another zoodle + beef sauté, accompanied by one of my new favorite salad combo’s [romaine; shredded kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage; cucumbers; raspberries; slivered almonds] and Tessemae’s Zesty Ranch dressing. It’s winter love.

fuel sweat grow: beef zoodles and

Tuesday happened to also be our night to take dinner to two amazing new parents, Robin and Ryan (and sweet baby Arya), so I got to cook a little out of my usual zone since Ryan is a veg-eater, and Robin eats ‘anything’.

fuel sweat grow: spinach fettuccine and veggies

I made them one of my absolute favorite meals from my grain-loving days, and I have to say, if you’re going to have pasta and a bit of dairy, it’s definitely a killer option.  Zucchini and peppers sautéd in coconut oil, Trader Joe’s spinach and chive linguine, tossed in a greek yogurt and avocado blended ‘sauce.’  The veggies are seasoned with Trader Joe’s ‘everyday seasoning,’and can be done with gluten free pasta (or zoodles) if that’s your thing.  I added some grilled chicken thighs to Robins meat-favorable meal, and a cucumber and heirloom tomato salad with balsamic and olive oil to up the ante for Ryan as well.  All in all, a pretty solid tuesday night meal (I think, and yes, I had a little bit myself for old times sake…).

With a million things backing up on the to-do list and ‘real’ work pushing to the end of the year in a full sprint, most mornings begin like this to help me get through: egg and zucchini scramble with a post-MADabolic almond milk latte from Milli Joe.

fuel sweat grow: zucchini eggs and almond milk latte

This is the scene from Wednesday morning, the day of ‘all the things,’ and the last day I spent in Cville this week before taking off for more work+holiday mayhem in Charlotte.  While craziness has been the constant theme of the last few months, it’s all been worth it.  As work and 2014 finally slow down, and new everything begins to ramp up, the only true thing I know is that it always, always, pays off to push it to go the extra mile.

fuel sweat grow: the extra mile

The end of the week finished with more amazing friends, great food, holiday parties galore, and more than I can capture in these final sentences, that’s for sure.  You can expect to hear about all the adventures and new amazingness over the next few weeks.

Goal Digging My Way into 2015

This may be news to some, but it is likely the least shocking and most underwhelming declaration to those who have known me well over the last 5 years: I love goal setting. I’m a total goal digger.

fuel sweat grow: Goal digging / goal setting

At my core I’m an idea generating, relationship developing, connection making, and all around goal crushing nerd trapped inside what recently has felt like an ad-hoc life on the fast track to somewhere, but certainly no where externally defined.

In my previous life I was goal obsessed (It was borderline unhealthy).  I would ‘create possibility’ and make vision boards during every spare moment.  I craved time with friends who wanted to talk about their goals, or even better, allow me to peel away the layers to discover the goals they never knew they had. I was devastated by people who didn’t know any of their own unique passions, or didn’t want to spend all of their free time exploring their own existential purpose. I kept a notebook with me at all times where I recorded all of my ideas, projections, and complete mental regurgitations of work/life flows and strategic mind maps – it was yellow, you may have seen it with me everywhere from 2009-2011.

Sometime over the last three years I lost a little touch with that presence of mind when it comes to my own development.  I continue to build, I have ‘goals’ in the most practical of terms, but I left the constant state of possibility somewhere far behind me.  Maybe it was for the best, but maybe I can make a little room for that imagination without losing my bearings in the now.

Recently Dar became an ambassador for our lululemon showroom here in Charlottesville, and one of her first assignments was/is to develop her goals.  When she asked me to help her expand on her brainstorms and sketch out her milestones it was as if, finally, after two years of being partnered on business goals she realized my full existence and allowed me to revisit my former self.  A little too involved? Maybe, but it only took a few minutes for my arms to get tired of holding Tank up towards the sky like Simba, and eventually the Lion King theme song ended and my iPod shuffled over to some other meaningless anthem. And as suddenly as it all began, I was back to normal… but a normal that lives somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

Last night we finally made time and talked goals.  We discussed 10 year visions, the 5 year milestones, and the now.  We contemplated what we each need to be doing right now to get started on that trajectory that we secretly hope lingers around the bend.  What’s there to do?  So much.  So, so, much, and it’s all exciting, terrifying, and overwhelming in all the best and worst ways.

fuel sweat grow: goal setting

We spent 45 minutes talking through the different exercises, the overall objective, and a few of the details surrounding our own personal milestones.  And then, of course, I spent another 45 minutes alone on my own head, scribbling out crazy detailed and psychotic mind maps to show how all of the goals, the next 10 years, and points of performance that all connect to the end goal(s).  What’s life without a little chaos? I wouldn’t recognize it.

While my actual full-blown 2015+ goals are not yet complete, there are a few big ticket items that did manage to sprout and find growth even in the darkest of times, and we’re just about ready to scream it from the rooftops….but not quite yet…

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.