MAD + lifestyle = The Best Summer of Your Life

We keep talking about this ‘lifestyle’ thing.  We talk about what it means to us, what our lifestyles made up of, essentially, and how to connect all the pieces when it comes to what drives us forward. We spent last week in Charleston getting a few key things in order, doing some spring cleaning, and more than anything, getting all our ducks in a row to make sure that the lifestyle piece has the best opportunity to find it’s roots in the community as we close out year 1.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston Mount Pleasant

We happened to be there through Cardio Week – the most passionately loves and hated week of all, depending on how your lung capacity is.  Across all MAD locations, clients and friends commiserated with and encouraged each other through the sanding test of the previous three months, and it was awesome. Charleston, you impressed and pushed us through an amazing week, so THANK YOU.  And thanks to Donna and Tim for unintentionally defining the not-so-promoted lifestyle realities of Cardio week (relaxing low country afternoon, meet our friend, Advil).IMG_2464

With cardio week behind us, this week we’re getting back to the base (durability month), to strengthen us, and to propel us forward into our full cycles of the pace (momentum month) and then return to the race (anaerobic month). That’s where we build our strength, we sweat out stress, and push our bodies to function just a little better.  But that’s not the whole lifestyle – that’s a habit of passion, and the fitness side of things, and while it’s important it’s incomplete.

When we have new clients join our community, that’s kind of the hook — the sweating, the intensity, and the results.  The fitness piece is the starter that’s sparked by the diverse science that drives forward not only how we do our programming, but how we view fitness and health on the whole.  It’s about how you’re training your self: how you’re challenging your body and mind to push forward, to build strength, to increase endurance, and to know how to do so smartly, safely, and with balance.  The securing factor is community.  The connection, the interaction, and the full support of all members, that’s that keeps us growing — growing strong, not dilute.

The piece that completes us, and typically the final piece in the lifestyle for most of our clients, is food.  Food + Nutrition is the game changer.  It’s not something we pretend to be experts in, or something that is integral or forced from a membership perspective, but it’s truly the only way to overcome plateaus, increase energy, and complete the full cycle of the lifestyle.  It’s the maximizer of the group, and from what we’ve seen over the last few years, the thing that makes all the damn difference in the world.

fuel sweat grow: the whole damn thing

You can probably tell where I’m headed by this point…..because as we’re all headed straight into the sunny season (the bathing suit, beach all day, hanging by the pool and wanting to be active 24/7 season) we’re going to head towards local food, clean meals, and more conversation about completing this lifestyle.  Charleston, brace yourselves, The Whole Damn Thing is coming right at you….and soon.

This coming Monday we have MODpaleo heading over to MADabolic Cville for a little Meat & Greet / Taste Testing for their amazing pre-packaged meals that I’m so obsessed with.

fuel sweat grow: Meat and Greet MODpaleo

They’re truly the tastiest, cleanest, and most convenient meal options out there (at least in my life) and happily show up and deliver to all the places that I need in my life (that’s you Cville, Charlotte AND Charleston).

And Charleston (#MADcharleston if we’re being real), don’t worry, we did NOT forget you.  You’re about to get all up in the lifestyle with us  – even more – and we’re pretty pumped.  If you’re a planner, write this down: MODpaleo will be at MADabolic Mt. Pleasant on Monday May 4th from 6:15-8:15pm for a food sampling AND a little paleo fundamentals 101 talk at 7:30. You can count on more information coming your way soon, promise.

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo

So, it’s all happening.  This is definitely the cliffs notes version, but I can tell you with all certainty, it’s all happening, and it’s going to be amazing.  Make sure you’re tuned in over the next week because ALL THE THINGS will be coming at you, and we could not be more pumped.

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.






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.


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.


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.



Monday Round-Up: MADness, travel, music + food.

It’s 10pm on a Monday and I’m sitting at the dining room table eating avocado and heirloom cherry tomatoes because: a) why the hell not? and b) it’s been that kind of a week.  Last Monday feels like it could have been yesterday, or a year ago, so at this point the only thing to really do is enjoy my snack and get set for the week ahead — starting with right now.

There’s a lot happening right now in Charlottesville and Charleston, all good, and all full steam ahead.  In Charleston we’re just over two weeks from our soft opening, and it’s all hands on deck to make sure our schedules are aligned with having coverage across the board.  We’re all still executing on to-do’s in our own little silos, but the over-arching mother-of-a-goal is to make sure the doors are opening with everything complete.

MADcharleston window graphic

In Charlottesville we just announced an event that has been long in our minds, and relatively lengthy in production, but will undoubtedly be a great kick off to summer.  We’re hosting an interval rave with our friends from TruPilates and Opal Yoga at our space in the IX on Saturday June 7th.

MADrave at IX

[click on the poster to be routed to the event registration]

If you told me that any one of these event partners were having an event you’d immediately have my interest, but just seeing all of them bundled together in one single event just makes my heart nearly explode with happiness.  My goal for this event is not to just stop here (of course it isn’t) but actually to grow it outside of our space onto the lawn of IX for a bigger and more inclusive community event.  With all the changes happening on our property with the art park, I’m thinking that it could be amazing.

Speaking of amazing…Friday night was the long awaited Delta Rae show at the Visulite in Charlotte.   I planned this as my friend Cara’s birthday present this year, and despite the fact that she had never heard them and I was still reeling from missing them in Charlottesville, it worked out perfectly.

Delta Rae

This band is amazing; from their stage presence, to lyrics, and the fact that every damn one of them sings and plays instruments.  It was hands down one of the best shows I’ve been to in a long time, and I would have paid double and gone back every night for a week just to linger in the experience a little while longer.  And because that’s pretty much all I’m looking for – great lyrics and the enveloping comfort that comes from being invited in to someone else’s feelings and experiences.  That’s what their music is for me, and when I’m away from it too long I really start to disconnect from myself.

Prior to the show we actually went to dinner at Carpe Diem, a favorite of mine right down from The Visulite on Elizabeth, which was amazing as always and a great end to my ‘I don’t care how bad it is for me, it’s delicious and I’m going to eat it’ week (except really the end was Saturday when I killed a cinnamon roll from Sunflour Baking Co. and pizza and wine at Wolfgang Puck with work friends).

Now I’m back in Charlottesville manning the ‘ship’ here;  back on track with my local food groups, and finally back on track with working out – and life.  Despite the chaos of the multi-city life, and the divide and conquer that our team is currently pushing through to get the doors open in Charleston mid-may, things are falling in to place pretty nicely and summer has just begun.  I guess Monday isn’t a bad place to start new.


The Week the Snow Took Over Charlotte

Last week brought the most legitimate snow storm I’ve ever seen in Charlotte, as well as an ice sealed house arrest that I haven’t experienced since ‘that winter’ in Philadelphia when we all lost power for a week and were in school until July.  Since most snow ‘storms’ in Charlotte are largely dramatic media interpretations of some clouds and minimal precipitation crossing their interactive maps in the form of impending doom that never pans out, I was a little skeptical about how this one was going to shake out.

A big thanks again to the creators (all the creators) of wine for helping us all get through winters like this.

fuel sweat grow: wine

Well, kudos to you meteorologists, you nailed it.  Despite my skepticism (and the house transfer that occurred about 3 hours into the storm), I did manage to make it to the store before it all started so there was food.  In fact there was lots of really good food.

Breakfast: Egg Scramble with zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, and scallions.

egg prep: fuel sweat grow

fuel sweat grow: egg scramble

Dinner: Grilled chicken; cucumber, cherry tomato, avocado and raspberry salad in balsamic, and (oven) roasted cauliflower.

fuel sweat grow: grilled chicken

fuel sweat grow: salad

fuel sweat grow: snow dinner

And, of course, there were beverages.


The great part about winter storms in the south is that the snow and ice only lasts as long as the storm, and melts away just as fast as it arrived.  And then, all you’re left with are a few snowy patches, some wavering cabin fever, and of course, a few great moments capturing the memory:

Fuel Sweat Grow: Lex and Teddy

By Thursday I was ready for it all to be over, and to re-emerge into the real world, thankfully just in time for our team trip to Charleston for our soon to open MADabolic location.

I think the most challenging part of being trapped inside, for me, is breaking the routine that creates designated space for sweating, but thankfully I managed to keep moving.

The week looked like this:

  •  MADabolic (4:15 w/Sarah) on Sunday
  • Flywheel on Monday
  • (Indoor) run on Thursday
  • MADabolic on Friday (9:30am w/Georgi)
  • Charleston Ride (8am class w/Catherine) on Saturday (more to come on this…)
  • MADabolic (4:15 w/Sarah) on Sunday… to bring the week full circle.

And you know what? I survived.  Sun, snow, sweat, and more to-do’s than I know what to do with, but I’m still standing and might even be stronger than I was this time last week.  And that, is worth something.