6 Habit Reminders to Help Stay Charged

‘I’m not sure….what day is it again?’  That’s how most of my conversations (and thoughts) went this week.  More than just not being recovered from the holidays, I seem to have adapted to the work Monday, Tuesday, vacation, work friday, off again, holiday schedule — which doesn’t seem to be catching on as an on-going national trend, unfortunately.

We’re going strong, heading in to week 2 of The Whole Damn Thing, and while I’m clear through the sugar quitting phase, I was dragging.  I could tell you what day of the challenge I’m on, but ask me for a day of the week and I’ve got nothing.

On Tuesday, instead of going to the 7am MAD class, I slept in until 7:30.  I worked all day mostly in a fog, and with a considerable pace deficiency.  By 6:30 that night I was fading fast; low on energy, low on general capacity, and I continued with what was my constant assumption for the day — I’m just hungry.   I’m definitely guilty of getting lost in work for hours, and lunch between 11 or 3:30 can be pretty normal for me, so throw in The Whole Damn Thing, and the probability that I would not be eating regularly enough seemed like a definite possibility….only that wasn’t it.

fuel sweat grow: smoothie

It wasn’t until after I had dinner (and then another big post-dinner snack to make extra sure) that I realized that perhaps food wasn’t my issue.  I had eaten — all day really; I ate great meals, clean, balanced, and nourishing meals that are right in line with some of the best I could have managed (including a killer smoothie in the vitamix to power me through the mid-afternoon hour).  But what I didn’t think about, and what can often get buried behind the focus of fueling with food, is making sure I’ve gotten enough rest to even be able to function on good fuel.

I’ve been burning it at both ends.  Even though I took ‘off from work’ for the majority of the last two weeks, that was just off from my full-time job and didn’t really account for the fact that all of the ‘free’ time that comes with vacation was then immediately allotted to the other businesses, strategic planning, and the million little things that I haven’t been able to get to with all of my working and traveling full time.  While this is pretty normal for me and I actually function better on a tight timeline with lots of moving parts, I needed just a little extra recovery time.

With The Whole Damn thing, with MAD, and just life in general, it’s great to have focus and commitment, but forfeiting that recovery time amidst craziness was a major miss for me.  So, I’ve tried to adjust –  where I can.  Here are a few habits I’ve been trying to revive (or in some cases form) to help bring a little balance and rest into my life:

1)   Sit down to eat.  I’ve gotten into the habit of rushing meals, eating at my desk…standing… and taking zero time to just de-load.  Making this change is so critical in really creating a little quality time for my mind to slow down and my body to re-set.

2)  Drink Water.  Seriously, our brains are something like 70% water, right?  We need water, so the 6 hour IV of coffee that I was in the habit of living on had to be adjusted to stop the midday headaches, keep me fully functioning, and most of all have me hydrated enough to truly handle our intervals.

3) No phone in bed.  This is a big one, and something I’ve heard a number of our coaches talking about as well.  From causing a divide in relationships, having late-night chime/text/call wake ups, to even the risks the constant screen time plays on your eye balls and sleep habits, the phone has got to go.

4) Sleep. Seriously, sounds stupid, but I can’t tell you how much I’ve been benefitting from shutting EVERYTHING down before 10 and letting my body rest in full.  It’s too easy for me to keep burning the candle into the middle of the night, unproductively shifting between everything, unable to keep my wheels from turning when I’m trying to fall asleep.

5) 7th hour stretch.  I work predominantly from home — for all my jobs.  While I’m definitely luck that one of them includes owning fitness businesses with unlimited opportunities to sweat, I spend at LEAST 11 hours a day sitting working for my ‘real’ job and trying to crank out a few things each day for  the businesses.  It’s a thankless position, and even though I do try to stand for portions of the work day, there’s nothing quite as necessary as a little childs pose and ad-hoc office-floor stretching to mitigate some of the stress.  Maybe this should really be about breathing…so here you go…

6) Keep Breathing. Pretty self explanatory, and pretty important.  Just do it.

7) Take time for food prep.  Regardless of if you’re eating clean or not (though clean eating DOES help regulate hormones, sleep patterns…stress…) make sure you are taking time to prepare meals, and have good healthy food available when you need it.  There’s nothing worse than literally having nothing good to feed yourself, causing you either to cave and eat processed garbage, or to venture out into the world in a full out hunger-panic — which isn’t safe for anyone.

None of these things are life-altering discoveries, or new information at all…in fact, most of these I used to do as a habit in my younger years when things seemed less serious, but these days I sometimes just need the reminder.  All in all, this week has been laborious, but necessary in getting back on track and re-balancing life.  Today is day 8 for us on the challenge and I have to say, outside of the complete smash back into reality, it’s been a pretty smooth ride.

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Convenience v. Efficiency: A Food + Fitness Story

I’ve been a little off-target over the past two weeks with planning my food and getting into any sort of consistent sweat routine.  It’s not historically in my nature to take long breaks from working out, but over the last year I’ve developed a (much) more balanced approach to letting go of structure when the stress of trying to force fitness in any given day is greater than the benefit.  I’m not sure if it’s a product of ‘growing up’ or just ‘getting old,’ but it’s a real need a couple times a year to slow down and I’m always so thankful when I allow myself to let it go.

Part of creating that balance has also been efficiency.  Convenience is something our whole world seems to be driven by these days, but somehow efficiency sometimes gets lost in the mix.  They’re not the same thing, in fact, they’re grossly different.

It’s the appeal of convenience that leads so many of us to drive-thrus, to processed foods and sugar addictions.  It’s what keeps us on the continuous (proverbial and literal) treadmill for years without seeing any significant change or improvement to our bodies or lives —  and in fact, it usually has the adverse effect.  Efficiency is completely different. It’s the ironic counter to convenience; it’s the most effective way to reach a goal or see a result, and without it, I would never accomplish anything.

So, let me talk clean to you for a second…  [clean + efficient meets food + fitness].

The most important part of eating clean (for me, in my crazy life) is preparation, and packaging.  When I cook it’s never for one meal – I’ll happily live off of leftovers for a week of work lunches and on-the-go dinners.   Example: on Sunday morning I made breakfast for my Charlotte family – 18 eggs worth of breakfast.

fuel sweat grow: steak and eggsZucchini, leftover chimichurri marinated skirt steak (a YUM from Fresh Market), and 18 full fledged eggs.

fuel sweat grow: egg scramble #paleo breakfast

I’m terrible about giving myself enough time for breakfast during the week, but I love breakfast on weekends, so having these leftovers is such a huge thing for me.

Sunday afternoon I followed right up with a bulk-cooking marathon to get ready for a week in the office with my favorite Thai Chicken Stir-fry (with spaghetti squash).

fuel sweat grow: thai chicken stir fry

fuel sweat grow: thai chicken stir fry

To compliment (and balance out the days) this salad came to be — and is always a consistent favorite of mine. It’s definitely more of a summer salad, but it was 80 degrees in Charlotte this weekend, so I’m going to give it a seasonal pass.

fuel sweat grow: fall summer salad

Efficiency is also what I look for in my workouts.  Well, that, and a little escape once in a while.  I still run when I’m feeling inspired — its one of the most freeing actions, and sometimes the only time I have to be in my own head.  I still crave yoga + stretching because it feeds my body and soul.  And I still love sweating for the sake of sweating, when that’s what I need, but for my actual fitness, strength, and total body change, I go for efficiency – and that’s the theme of the week.  So here’s how I’m hoping to balance it:

Monday: Run + new playlist

Tuesday: Carolina Barre + Core: 30/30 Cardio Barre

Wednesday: MADabolic

Thursday: Walk with a friend + Run/body weight circuit

Friday: MADabolic

Saturday: MADabolic

Sunday: a day of REST (or maybe a hike with the 4-leggers)

And the reality is….if somewhere in there life gets a little too jammed and my sanity depends on a little lunch time yoga or childs pose in my office, then so be it.  Sometimes being effective is just about being still.

MODpaleo: Clean, Convenient Fuel

Remember earlier this summer when our friends from MODpaleo came out to our Grand Opening Party at MAD Charleston for a little ‘MEAT & GREET’ to let our clients taste test their delicious paleo meals? Well, we’re actually their pick up location in Mt. Pleasant, which is awesome, and since July I’ve been pumping hard (from my social media perch) to make sure that their food is in ALL of my favorite places.

fuel sweat grow: modpaleo

In addition to putting a hard push on them to bring their clean eats to Charlottesville, I somehow managed to score them as a breakfast vendor in my office in Charlotte so I’ve got some amazing healthy options when I’m there.  It’s all about convenience and quality in our industry, and when the right options are there it’s not hard to make good choices and maintain positive momentum knowing that you’ve been fueling your body to sustain an active lifestyle.  Day 8 of #23to30: quality of life comes from the quality of your surroundings -know what you need and what makes you feel whole and surround yourself with it.

Two weeks ago when I was working in Charlotte you better believe that I was in the office early on Wednesday morning to get my breakfast on with MODpaleo in our super pantry, and it was killer.  [Egg baked in a sweet potato, herbed chicken patty with fresh pesto on top.]

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo Breakfast

This meal sold out completely by 8am, and not only tasted amazing, it kept me full well past lunch time.  In a job and world where I rarely have a down moment or a regularly scheduled anything, having MODpaleo at the office was an absolute life saver.  So, naturally, this breakfast just re-lit my hard march to get their pre-packaged meals to Charlottesville so I can spend a few less days doing meal prep and planning and just let them do it for me.  And then low and behold, I saw this on instagram:

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo Virginia

You better believe this made my day.  Happy, clean, fresh fuel made for convenience and overall goodness – I’m in.  For everyone who has been nagging asking frequently for made to order clean meals….well here’s your best shot.  Check out their website and the weekly menu posted and get your orders in — they even have veggie options people.

Amber + Carter, sounds like it’s time to get your Cville on and get this full-blown show rolling.  We’re ready for you in MADville.  Next goal: shipping meals to me on all my trips.  Just saying…

 

Always Go Full-Ass Towards Your Goals

Day 3 of #23to30: Don’t half-ass anything, and be clear about what’s important to you.

I’m perpetually working to keep up the juggling act that is my life; trying not to let anything drop and to give all of my jobs and commitments (to othes and myself) the attention they demand.   When I choose new ventures, my goal is not only for it to be successful, but more importantly, fulfilling.  I learned a long time ago that I have to passionate about what I’m doing to be effective in it, and my success unfailingly runs in direct proportion to how connected I feel to the work content, the people, and the overall balance I’m able to keep across my life. The last thing I want is to waste my time and energy giving marginal effort to something I’m not connected to, or don’t have enough time to give to.
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This year has been a big year for really setting priorities, digging in deeper to the things/places where I find value,  making room for what’s coming next, and becoming clear on what I for any degree of life-balance.   For me it’s work and life.  Outside of the connection to my work, I need the structure and balance of a eating good clean food, being physically active – ranging from the most intense sweats to childs pose – and a little time once in a while to be no where in particular.

  • What’s important?
  • What is a fundamental need to be happy?
  • Where do you want to be?
  • What people and passions fall within the first concentric circle of your life?

I ask myself these questions to help me figure out whether something is important enough to say yes to, or whether it will end up compromising the balance in my life.  While the system isn’t fool proof, and some bouts of passion are just momentary, it does help me to stay a little more focused than I normally would on what I have available for myself, and anyone else.

So after many, many, failed attempts to do and be everything, here’s what I’ve learned to be the most important: know your passion, set your own path, and always, always, go full-ass towards your goals (it’s just a metaphor, mom).

 

Almond Milk Lattes, StrengthsFinder & Earned Weeks

There are good weeks and bad weeks, long tough weeks and the weeks that pass in what feels like the blink of an eye. It’s always a gamble, and the more you push to achieve, the more concerning the odds are.

And then, like hope at the end of a long winter, there are the earned weeks — the weeks that can only be found at the end of the most challenging stretches of time-sleep-and-sanity deprivation.  They make all the struggles seem worthwhile, even if just barely, and everything begins to fall together.

This week was definitely an earned week, and in addition to all the work and long hours that made it happen, I’d also like to thank the newest sponsor to my productivity: Milli Joe.

Fuel sweat grow: Milli Joe

Milli Joe is a locally owned coffee and gelato (+ cheese and chocolate) shop right off the downtown mall in Charlottesville.  While all of that’s awesome, this town is hyper-local so everyone needs a little something extra to distinguish themselves, and this week I found out what Milli Joe had to hook me in – fresh all-natural almond milk made in house and hand crafted each morning into the latte that kept me alive.

Fuel sweat grow: almond milk latte

Today is day 10 of 28toLife and it’s so true for me that the most challenging part is giving up coffee the way I love it — a little sweet and a lot creamy — so this was the perfect replacement.  They are just shy of $5/cup, but that’s pretty on-par with starbucks pricing, and has none of the crap, so that’s an immediate bonus.  Add on that my current alcohol costs are hovering around zero, and it doesn’t seem so terrible.

And if that wasn’t enough, they were awesome enough to reserve us a sweet corner section for our MADabolic Cville team StrengthsFinder development night last Thursday.

Fuel Sweat Grow: MADabolic StrengthsFinder

I love personal and professional development, especially exploring the strengths, motivations, and goals of the people surrounding me, in both work and life.  A few years ago I was introduced to the StrengthsFinder test when I was working with lululemon, and revisited it again just recently with my team at Wells. It’s still dead on for me, and continues to blow me away with it’s accuracy across the board.

When we were in Charleston last month the rest of our MADass partnership group took the test, and it only seemed appropriate (and more exciting) to enroll our trainers in Charlottesville as well.  In addition to giving insight into each individual, what makes them tick, and what strengths we embody as a team, the book also digs deeper into how best to manage individuals based on their top strength which is so important to consider.

It was a great forum for team bonding, conversation, and development, while also serving as a great tangent off of our normal fitness focus.

Fuel Sweat Grow: MADabolic StrengthsFinder

Fuel Sweat Grow: MADabolic Cville StrengthsFinder

Fuel Sweat Grow: MADabolic Cville StrengthsFinder

Fuel Sweat Grow: MADabolic Cville

The most important part of any business is leadership — which is only a strong concept when it goes beyond who is ‘in charge’ and extends to the sum of all the parts.  Our trainers are awesome people and give our business the energy and life it requires (and our clients demand) everyday, so it’s our responsibility to continue to develop and invest in them to continue their growth – and in turn, ours.

I’ve been lucky enough to know, and work for, more than my fair share of awesome leaders who viewed themselves as small pieces of the whole– and my fair share of those who touted themselves as leaders without what I would call any earned or legitimate experience (or respect) in business.   Both experiences had value, but the former was of course was the one that equipped me with the inspiration, drive, and sense of self that really took my abilities (‘potential’) and pushed me to achieve more than I knew I could.

In short (or, actually, long), last week I had some amazing fresh almond milk lattes which inspired my strengths, reinforced my goals, and supported the foundational steps for our team and business growth.

Add on to all of that my renewed sense of accomplishment that is directly rooted in a new style of notebook, and you’ll understand how this week became an earned week – the first sweet trace of spring at the end of a long winter.

fuel sweat grow: notebook organization levenger

 

And that’s just what happened when I wasn’t figuring out meals for 28toLife and sweating next to the best of them at MADabolic Cville.   Thanks for the good week, Charlottesville. I miss you already.

Grocery List, Breakfast Favorite + Monday Things

From the moment I opened my eyes this morning I could just feel the monday-ness looming in the air.  I had the classic weekend where I had more to get done than I could have ever reasonably accomplished, and it was actually a struggle for me to admit defeat at 10pm on sunday night to allow myself a good night sleep.

It was totally worth it.  The still-unpacked box that was abandoned in the corner is still staring at me, but I don’t care.  I’m prioritizing me this week – my sanity, my health, and my own piece of mind.

IMG_4985

I committed to an 80/20 style 28toLife program with Sarah and Georgi, good friends and trainers from MADabolic, and it started today.  Over the past year I’ve gotten pretty used to cooking according to Cristina’s preferred plan and can make a meal out of just about anything at this point — as long as there are groceries stocked.  That’s one of the challenges — making sure that there is good, fresh food, constantly stocked in the fridge.   Meat, fruit, vegetables, and a few other critical essentials to allow for spontaneous meal creation.   The point is not to feel hungry and deprived — it’s to change what you’re using to fuel your body and teaching it to run on good quality food.

Depending on what your preferred tastes and meals are, you might want to meal plan ahead of time and buy groceries a little more frequently than usual, or, you might want to go all-out on Sundays in preparation for the week.  Totally your call.  I do a little of both, but I would say that I do have a staple MUST-HAVE-THESE-THINGS at all times list:

Basics:

  • Coconut Oil
  • Coconut Milk (canned from Trader Joes)
  • Sesame Oil
  • Almond Butter (Fresh ground from Whole Foods if you can)
  • Sea Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Chili Powder

Meat:

  • Chicken Breast
  • Ground Beef
  • Flank Steak (get a big one so you can take advantage of extra)
  • Chicken Sausage ( Applegate Farms)

Fruit & Vegetables:

  • Zucchini
  • Yellow Squash
  • Cauliflower
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Lettuce / Kale
  • Cucumbers
  • Avocado (MANY)
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli Slaw
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Lemons

Additional staples:

  • Whole and/or slivered Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower Seeds

It looks like a huge list — and it is, but for the most part you can ALWAYS find these things in my fridge, and they are the best and most versatile basics I’ve found.  There are certainly other things I like to pick up at times — beets, arugula, and spinach included, but usually only when they’re planned in a specific meal.

This morning’s breakfast was straight out of my critical ingredient handbook, and was the perfect way to start off this Monday.

Fuel Sweat Grow: Egg Scramble
Saute broccoli slaw, zucchini, and yellow squash in coconut oil
Add chicken & Eggs
Add chicken & Eggs
The finished, and delicious, product.
The finished, and delicious, product.

Lunch was a salad with chicken from a little spot next to my office, accompanied by about 10 huge cups of water that were strategically consumed to help me prepare for (hot) yoga at Y2 tonight — more on yoga tomorrow.

Dinner tonight was grilled chicken, cucumber, avocado, and sea salt seasoning all chopped and mixed together for a chunky chicken salad.  It was super quick to make since I had some chicken already cooked and awaiting it’s destiny in the fridge.

And that marks the end of this super long monday.

Goodnight.