Fueling Up: Greens, Eggs + Sweet Potato Noodles

I’m not sure what’s in the air, or if it’s just the sheer fact that it’s cardio week at MADabolic, but I feel hungry all the time.  ALL the time.  I’m usually slow to start in the morning, not grabbing any real food until I’ve had ample time to get coffee, settle in, and assess the schedule for the day.  This week, I have one objective, and it’s to get food into my body.

While vacation is great in concept, any travel where there’s no kitchen is always challenging for me, so the last few months have been hit or miss for me.  My first destination when I got back into Charlottesville was to hit up the grocery store, and I did just that — hard.

Whole Foods here (and maybe everywhere?) has this awesome kale slaw in the juice / chopped veggie section that also has shredded cabbage, carrots, broccoli (sometimes) and green onion that I seriously can’t get enough of.  I’ve historically used it to make salad and sides for dinner, but it just so happened that I was craving it one morning, so I went hot with it.

Sautéed in some coconut oil ad seasoned with a little sea salt, my little green friends made a turn for the even more delicious, and perfectly accompanied my eggs.

fuel sweat grow: green eggs and bam

I’m calling this ‘green eggs and BAM’ because it was totally a power breakfast that I needed to get myself going. It’s going to quickly become clear that I was loving on kale this week, but I’m still not sick of it, so no apologies here.

The thing that really started my love affair with kale was it’s amazing relationship with all things citrus, and the fact that you can absolutely douse it in lemon/lime/orange juice based dressing and it didn’t become slimy or sad.  In fact, while it does soften (thankfully), it seriously takes on the flavor and tartness of the dressing, and that always makes everything more delicious.

This salad wasn’t anything particularly special; just kale, blueberries, cucumber, and some leftover grilled chicken to give it a little boost — but to be honest, it didn’t need anything else [the dressing was fresh squeezed lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt sprinkled].  It stood just fine on it’s own, and was a great partner for my new favorite thing: sweet potato noodles.

fuel sweat grow: summer kale salad fuel sweat grow: kale salad and sweet potato noodles

I’ve long been loving on zoodles and spaghetti squash, but I never really took the time to dive hard into the sweet potato arena. I think this ignorance was in part because the first time I did 28 to Life I convinced myself that sweet potatoes were on the naughty list (I was later corrected….but not until much much later).  Recently I’ve been seeing more and more meals pop up on blogs, and also on MODpaleo’s menu that are centered around them, so I figured it was worth a shot.  And worth it, it most certainly was.

I sent those sweet P’s through the spiralizer and then sent them straight into a pan with some ghee (yeah, it’s butter folks, and it was delicious).  In case you can’t tell, just writing about this meal is making me hungry all over again, so I definitely recommend it.   I also recommend the (RED) meals on the MODpaleo menu, because they’re amazing too [and friends that use the code MadnessCville get 10% off their first order, so get after that…stat].

I did get after it again with the spiralizer again, with an awesome new thai cucumber noodle salad that I made last night, but that one is going to have to wait because it was too good to rush through.

fuel sweat grow: cucumber thai noodle salad

Now that I’m back to cooking and feeling a little more food-stable, I’m pretty excited to start playing around with some old favorite recipes and clean them up – at least as much as is reasonable.

I’ve got a goal to make one new recipe each week, minimum, and hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be rolling through a whole new cycle of favorites.  But who knows, if I stay hungry like this I’ll probably hit that full 52 new recipe marker a lot sooner than I projected.  If you’ve got any favorites of your own, shoot them over — I’m most definitely taking suggestions.

Do Your Best + Let the Rest Roll Off

There are moments, moments that always feel far too frequent, when something shakes our world a little (or a lot), both devastating our hearts and creating pause.  It’s in those moments of pause when silence can become deafening, and all of the pointless chatter happening around us goes quiet so deeper perspective can take root.

This past week I followed on my Facebook feed as the community I grew up in, and a school so close to the hearts of my family and friends, turned itself inside out searching for one of their own. They came together as a community only to be rocked completely.  A 13 year old boy who was so distraught over overdue class assignments and an overly manufactured sense of failure left his home and took his own life.  And unfortunately, this has become far too common.

There are a million different things to speculate, to wonder, and on some level to even relate to, because we’ve all been in a situation at one point or another where it seems almost impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  What that light looks like and how we get to it is going to be different for all of us, and for some, especially those who have battled or known the despair of a deep depression, the end may be that light.  I know all of this, but I still can’t help but feel the extra weight of this tragedy today.  Today my mind kept coming back to a few thoughts I could not shake; things that I wish everyone not only was reminded of, but also deeply believed in.

1.  Outside of doing your best, nothing you do in school really matters.  Seriously, not really even college.  All of those years are meant to give you time to develop, to create context, and to allow you to grow — not to determine your lifelong potential.  Be open to learning, be open to exploring your interests, and of course working hard, but your whole job is to discover your own passion and hopefully start to live it.  Learning what makes you tick, what keeps you motivated, and what your strengths are will be more important in our life than any class, or test, or assignment in the world.

fuel sweat grow: you were meant for amazing things

2. Be open to failure.  Failure and struggle are the experiences that give our stories content, that teach us our most important lessons, and help us find the grittiness in ourselves that confidence can stand on.  Find any person that you think has succeeded and ask them about where they failed — believe me, they’ll not only have some good stories, they’ll also be able to draw a direct line from what they learned to all of their subsequent successes.

3. You have value.  Truly, you. are. valuable….invaluable really, so don’t you ever let anyone or anything ever tell you differently.  There’s a horrible epidemic of kids who grow up looking for their value in other people, in things, or in money, and as adults we have a responsibility to instill in them the confidence and understanding that value is inherent, and not externally found.

4.   Don’t take life so seriously.   Sure, life is a serious business, but sometimes it’s the ability to shake off all the unnecessary pressure and manufactured stress and enjoy the moment for exactly what it is.  Whether you’re in the build, the struggle, or the victory lap of your life, live through every moment and appreciate what’s available to you in that moment. Truly, if you’re alive and your heart is beating for something, you’re already succeeding, so find joy in the path.

I could go on, and I probably will at another time,  in several different installments, but for today, this is what I’ve got. So, thanks for letting me rant, feel, and write my way through what makes no sense and all the sense in one messy package.  And, most importantly, may that sweet boy’s soul rest in peace.

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.

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).