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.

Eating Local: Charleston Tour

I’m definitely a creature of habit, with all the potential for an addictive personality – energy that thankfully (usually) gets focused around food and fitness.  This past week was exactly that, all set in the ever-loving and beautiful city of Charleston.  From beginning to end the trip was an exploration, and a somehow stressful break from the normal routine (such is opening a new business), but the food scene and amazing weather made it worth it.   Here’s a quick glimpse into the food tour that became my life, and the sweet local spots we experienced.

Verde:

Salads and wraps — with all the fillings — either tossed or chopped.  This concept is so simple, clean, and done exactly right with quick and convenient and the ‘create your own’ combination(s) had every option i could have wanted.  And if you live in Charleston (or vacation there), it’s all within your reach because they have two spots: mount pleasant and charleston.

fuel sweat grow: verde chopped salads

fuel sweat grow: verde chopped saladI think I ate there 5 times in a week (not kidding) and never repeated the same combination. This summer combination blended their mixed greens with kale as the base, and then added cucumbers strawberries, almonds, grapes, hard boiled egg, and avocado.

I always got the salads chopped, and then played between their chipotle lime vinaigrette and just balsamic and olive oil.  On Wednesday as I was heading out of town I stopped for my last and final visit (for the week) and switched things up with a wrap: base of arugula,  with added cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, hard boiled egg.  Cilantro lime vinaigrette, chopped, and wrapped — it was AMAZING.

Between my trips to Verde, and our time at MAD with the trainers, I also squeezed in some amazing meals out in Charelston:

SALT at Station 22:

fuel sweat grow: SALT at station 22

This spot on Sullvan’s Island is awesome – the perfect higher end and foodie friendly beach restaurant with a great seafood selection, and an incredibly diverse (and delicious) menu — because it actually changes daily.

fuel sweat grow: SALT at station 22

The first night we went there for our MAD management dinner (yes, first night, because I had to go back) I had an awesome arugula salad with beets, goat cheese, and homemade croutons.  For dinner I had their tenderloin special with a pretty awesome sweet potato mash.

The second stop at SALT was actually on the last night and I had the absolute best roasted half chicken of my life — the Roasted Tanglewood Chicken.  The chicken itself was unbelievable, and it sitting atop of a mix of crispy sautéd onion and vegetable and jus.  It was unbelievable.  This will, without question, be a favorite for me every time I’m here.

Graze:

This spot is so close to our space in Mt. Pleasant (in the Whole Foods shopping center right by Pure Barre and Charleston Power Yoga) but to be honest, probably wouldn’t have been on my radar if it hadn’t popped up on Open Table.  As I say that, I want to immediately (and vehemently) say that I will absolutely go back – this place is awesome.

fuel sweat grow: Graze Charleston

This tenderloin entree was honestly one of my favorite meals from recent memory and the roasted cauliflower puree it was sitting on is something that I’m going to have to try and recreate, but I’m certain I will not fully be able to match.

fuel sweat grow: Graze Tenderloin

Low Country Bistro:

Another favorite spot in downtown [Charleston], and the perfect Sunday night dinner.

fuel sweat grow: Low Country Bistro

fuel sweat grow: Low Country Bistro

Dinner was with two of our coaches from MAD, and in addition to the great food and great company, we had GREAT wine – and lets be honest, that’s really all I’m looking for on a Sunday night.

fuel sweat grow: low country bistro

From what I’m told, the Chicken & Waffles are exceptional – it’s a sweet potato bacon corn bread waffle people –  and there ain’t nothing wrong with that….except that it’s not something that would register on my clean eating plan.   For that reason I didn’t even give it the courtesy of a menu skim when we were there but if you’re wondering how I’m feeling about it now — the answer is: slightly regretful.

Crave Kitchen & Cocktails:

Our second to last night in Chuck Town ended at Crave in the Shoppes at Seaside Farms for dinner, and I got the slight indulgence I had been waiting for.  Chicken Marsala over an amazing risotto, with broccoli and sautéd spinach on the side.  I actually took most of this back to the hotel with me and never managed to finish it, but what I did have was awesome.

fuel sweat grow: crave charleston

This place was a really unexpected treat, and from what we learned, the chef, Landen, happens to have an affinity for paleo-esque clean eating, so they’re definitely on our short list to cater the Grand Opening Party for MAD (save the date: July 19th).

All in all, from a food standpoint, this trip was an absolute success.  From a getting the doors open standpoint — well that hasn’t exactly happened on an even remotely reasonable timeline, so I’m just going to focus on the food — the delicious and saliva inspiring food.  Our last team trip in February was full of equally as impressive spots that I definitely want to go back to (Stars and The Grocery, for instance), so Charleston is quickly climbing the ranks as one of my favorite restaurant cities of all time — and I’m okay with that.

I’ve been back in Charlotte for a few days now and head back down to Charleston this Wednesday to hopefully get the doors open at MAD with our team there, and then will finally make my way back to Charlottesville.

Now, for the most important part of this post — any suggestions for awesome places to eat in Charleston?  I’m assembling my to-do list for the next year, and that food tour is definitely on on it.

 

 

[NEW] Cville Food: Three Penny Cafe

Monday night was the much anticipated soft opening of Three Penny Cafe on Main Street (in the old Zinc location), and it was worth the wait.

fuel sweat grow: Three Penny Cafe

It just so happened that Monday was beautiful in Charlottesville, so the outdoor seating was a must, immediately ranking it as a great summer spot.  And the exciting news is that the best part about the restaurant was the menu – which is saying something because the space is beautiful.  From the appetizers of root chips and olives, to salad and ultimate dinner of amazing pizza – and of course the accompanying wine – things were great.

fuel sweat grow: Three Penny Cafe

It is entirely possible, if you want, to eat clean here, and there is plenty on the menu to keep you from feeling deprived.  My carb bender happened to be an intently thought out and very committed action after a long weekend of wine, and it turned out to be exactly what I needed.

fuel sweat grow: three penny cafe

All in all, I’m so glad that I didn’t miss this opening, and I am definitely going to be back here – on the regular.  A big thanks to the staff at Three Penny Cafe for the warm welcome, the great hospitality, and all of the effort on what could have been an overwhelming pre-opening run through.  Congratulations, you deserve it.

 

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.’

leftovers

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.

work

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.

A Week in Charlotte: sweats, eats + great friends

We’re back from Charlotte and already hitting the ground running.  So you don’t miss out on the ‘fakecation’ week, here are the highlights split up in our favorite categories: sweat + fuel (with a little growth sprinkled in between).

Tuesday and Wednesday were the designated Fight Gone MAD days, and they were just as killer as ever.  The interval lengths and movement combinations are paired with serious intentions of making your whole body work, and the intervals are planned just perfectly to take you to that edge.  Both are constantly changing so adaptation is not exactly an option — in a good way.

fight gone mad

Thursday was a rest day for the whole crew, and then Friday was a Flywheel day for Dar, and a long awaited solo run for me.

I have not been running as much as normal lately, or really much at all, which I think has been great for my body, but I needed a little time with my music and some solo thoughts for a while.  It was exactly what I needed, and I took a round 2 run on Sunday back in beautiful Charlottesville.

I’ve got to say, I always have the highest (and most chaotic) planned workout schedule when I head into Charlotte, but this trip I took more time to unwind.  Even Bug got in the pool, despite her constant uncertainty about water.

bug pool

The rest of my time was filled with great food, friends, and meetings about exciting new ventures.  Among Thursday’s highlights was dinner at Soul Gastrolounge (one of my favorite local spots) with some of my favorite Charlotte ladies, business owners, and Fight Gone MAD addicts; Sarah, owner of Social Dress Shop, Carrie of Pink Toast Ink, and Erin of Erin McDermott Jewelry. We’ve got a few fun announcements and a new collaborative side business that we can’t wait to launch, so stay tuned for that.  Disclaimer: it’s not food or fitness – the only food is that which we consume while we meet, and the only fitness conversations are about Fight Gone MAD.  All that considered, it will still be amazing.

Since Soul serves a number of small plates and sushi options, here’s a look at what was enjoyed.  Which is to say, everything.

1. California Roll.

Soul sushi

2. Chimichurri Beef Skewer (with some amazing cilantro based sauce that I am yet to fully deconstruct to reconstruct)

chimichurri beef skewer

3. Guacamole Stack, which might just be the best thing I’ve ever ordered.  Anywhere. Ever.

guacamole stack

My dinner was accompanied by several awesome glasses of wine, and the brilliant conversation of this small think-ubator we’ve assembled, and was the perfect combination at the end of a long day.

Friday morning I stopped in to a local jewelry trunk show at Flywheel to check out Erin’s latest creations, and picked out a ‘congratulatory gift’ from her for our Fight Gone MAD announcement.

erin mcdermott

I love it (first of all) because it goes with my everyday style, but mostly I love it (the way that I love ALL of my Erin jewelry) because I always think of her when I’m putting it on.  Erin is one of the most generous and genuine people in the world (my world at least) and I am SO very grateful for her and all of the support that she has given over this last year of new life/career development.  It has been huge.

The rest of the day was filled with good food and friends, starting with a simple afternoon out by the pool, and a salad using the remnants of some other meal ingredients.

salad

Dinner was a ‘business’ meeting with our partners at Roosters, which has to be another favorite of mine.  Great wine, plus amazing clean food options.  I took zero pictures of food, and only managed this one ‘team’ photo, sans the other 50% of the team, as we waited to be seated.

IMG_3532

No food, just wine – the picture shows nothing but says it all.

I had the hanger steak (medium!) with a side of asparagus, beets, and string beans.  It was awesome (per usual) and was the perfect compliment to the ever-loving, ever-flowing wine that is vacation mandatory.

Saturday morning brought the much awaited Fight Gone MAD photo shoot with Dar (and cameo appearances by Matt and Cristina after the 10:30 class).  My good friend Courtney Linnehan was the Photographer (she’s legitimate, and awesome at what she does) and on top of getting some great shots, we had a damn fun time entertaining ourselves for a couple of hours.

After the photo shoot (pics to come soon) we grabbed lunch with 28 to Life guru and Fight Gone MAD original, Cristina at Bad Daddy’s.    The best thing about Bad Daddy’s, aside from the tater tots and sweet potato fries, is the amazing salad menu and create your own salad options.  Dar and Cristina ordered the same salad with mixed greens, nuts, avocado, tomato, apples, olives, and a burger on top.

bad daddy's big salad CYO with a burger

I also created my own, but went a different route: romaine, mushrooms, cucumber, avocado, walnuts, and chicken with their lemon-greek vinagrette.

bad daddys big salad w/chicken

They were all awesome, and if you’re trying to eat on plan (28 to life, or just clean in general) they are amazing options. A total example of how to successfully eat at a restaurant, without over indulging or leaving hungry.

Saturday night was a big stay-in dinner with some good friends, old and new, including our hosts for the week: Bill and Gwen.  We brought some of our favorite grass-fed, local, beef filets down from Charlottesville which were awesome with Gwen’s cucumber salad, tomato avocado, and a dab of rice.

dinner spread

We spent several awesome hours sitting around the table debating, discussing, and most importantly spending time with each other. It was the perfect last night in Charlotte, and one of my favorites of the whole week.

dinner table

Sunday morning we packed up after breakfast, and made it back to Charlottesville just in time for me to get in my second run of the week (outside, yeah!) and a trip to the grocery store so there is food in the fridge.

It was an awesome week away, but I am so happy to be back home.  There are tons of tangents and additional updates to come — all worth the wait!