Alright Spring, Let’s Do This

There’s something so comforting about spring; even in it’s earliest moments. I’m not sure if it’s the subtle smell in the air, the vitamin D finally returning into my life, or the visible bliss of the dogs when they find that perfect sun spot to lay in, but all of it makes me soul so happy — almost in an instant.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the winter grind; I need the seasonal rebuild time to anchor down into planning for all the businesses, to set the strategy and pace for my day j.o.b.,  and of course there is always the amazing and fun adventure that is tax season.

IMG_7659

The cycle is critical, but there’s still that powerful feeling of loading a spring (literally); it’s  a set up that holds a specific power, an anticipation, and a please-just-freaking-let-me-go feeling that can’t be denied when you’ve spent months preparing to inevitably hurry up and wait.  As one of the least patient people in the world, winter can be pretty unbearable for me.  I’m great at planning, I love long term strategy, and I’m certainly going to want to have a plan before implementing, but beyond that, deliberating is a soul crushing practice and it’s always that last 5% of the wait that does me in.

This past week finished out, for me, what’s been a LONG start to the year balancing my real job, the businesses, and cold weather travel. Thankfully it finished out strong with some amazing  road-sweats in Burlington and NYC as I did my northeast tour — so much so that I almost forgot that a short preview of summer weather hit Charlottesville while I was gone.

I finished out the week with a little solo dinner in NYC to close out the craziness and some down time without any responsibilities or distractions, and was finally able to take a breath before heading back home for what is slated to be a pretty insane month.

IMG_7693.JPGI’m excited about the direction of all the things that are currently hanging in the balance, and, of course, the impending warm weather certainly is not going to hurt.

[Want to get the latest in exciting news of what’s on the horizon? Follow ME, b:core methods, MADcville or sweatIXcville for daily updates and all the big announcements coming out of our compound this month.]

Thank You Spring, You’re the Best: 7 Ways to Clean out the Stress

Another Monday is here, and another gorgeous weekend in the books. I sometimes think that Spring has an unfair advantage over all the other months for being the one that brings the sweetest relief to the depths of winter (clearly, I don’t love the cold).  I’ve been pretty under the weather the last little while, still mostly trying to chug along, and I’m looking forward to being fully on the mend with some sweet spring air change fully what’s in the air.

Recently, despite even being down of the count, the stress in the air has been palpable all around.   End of the 1st Quarter means anyone on a (fiscal) business cycle is feeling the pressure. The varying schedules for spring break brings travel, uprooting, and re-settling to the surface for folks all around, usually impacting schedules of the whole collective to piece together what would be normal life and timing.  In all things small business (in my life), the coordination of all the little pieces, all the schedules (human and otherwise) and all of the competing timelines that need to somehow magically merge together have brought some anxieties to an all time high.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the stress of not only my own life, but of those around me and the collective whole — and then I think to myself, ‘Frankie say RELAX.’ Because sometimes, you’ve just got to take a pause from all the noise to figure out what’s really a priority — and reset on what sanity means to you.fuel sweat grow: relax

I came across this article about Second Hand Stress and it couldn’t be more spot on.  Stress always has a snowball effect; whether it’s taking on other peoples stress, building more of our own, or just feeling the avalanche of ‘ALL THE THINGS’ at once, sometimes it’s most important to pump the breaks and get back to our own baseline.  I’ve found that the more you do, and the more you have going on, the more frequently you’ll find yourself in a second-hand struggle, and you’ve got to have your own coping/recovery methods for getting through it.  I’ve got some what I’d call, first and second level stress recovery tactics that have gotten me through some of the worst energy vortexes I’ve ever known:

First Level Stress Recovery [immediate options for the small bumps]:

1. Stand up from wherever you’re sitting. Log off of all social media. Turn on music. and dance.  Seriously, just dance.  Increasing the volume will directly increase the effectiveness (of decreasing anxiety).

2. Play with a dog.  If you have a dog, play with it, walk it, do something that brings you freedom (mind and distance) from your stress.  If you don’t have a dog, borrow someones or walk one at the SPCA (there are a lot of them there just wishing someone would show them love too).

3. Workout. Go somewhere and sweat.  If you’re really in a stress bubble, go for a long run, a walk, or do yoga.  Find a place where you can escape into your solitary mind with minimal intensity and lots of movement freedoms (maybe check out Yogavibes.com and get in a little at-home class).  If you’re needing to really sweat it out, maybe do something like MAD, and rather than finding the solitary moment, find some comfort in community and the folks that just won’t let you get out of there without a conversation and some laughter — that works too.

Second Degree Stress Recovery [when it feels less like a weight on your shoulders, and more like a sword through your brain]:

1.  Move furniture.  Literally re-arrange your life via your living space.  It’s cathartic, fun, and will allow for a pretty quick sense of accomplishment. You can ask my college roommates — this was a pretty frequent tactic for dealing with my multi-level life at the time.

2. Take a day off and go off the grid.  Maybe you take a long weekend and go visit your best friend, maybe you need to just go for a ride.  Whatever the distance is that you need, take it, and don’t apologize.  Sometimes physical distance is necessary to create the space to let go.

3.  Cook all the food.  Go to the grocery store to stock up on some healthy staples, and then come home and cook some meals for the week (or a big awesome dinner for friends? your call).  Sometimes the process of chopping and prepping is what I need in order to work through whatever is going on, and sometimes it’s the actual organization of packing up prepped and cooked food into a million different containers that helps me feel like there is some order in the world.  If you’re not looking for a marathon cook-fest, just go to the grocery store because just having food can sometimes be relief in itself.

4.  Stop spinning all your wheels, and get organized.  This is my most frequent struggle when things start moving faster than I feel like I can respond, and that’s a sure sign to me that there is a breakdown somewhere in my organizational systems, or I need to do some high level re-structuring.  I’ve been a long-time user of Evernote, but just converted over to OneNote at work and at home, so I’m heavily reliant on having one place to go where I can keep everything organized and accessible.

Those are some of my key strategies to get myself back on point, and honestly, even if there’s nothing particularly troubling in the air, and no second hand stress to be had, these are all pretty cathartic as every day practices to keep things positive and constantly refreshed.  In fact, turning them into more of a practice may actually be the key to avoiding life’s little potholes or getting caught up in the external noise.  So, if you’re up for it, welcome spring with open arms, a little release and re-org, and just coast straight on into summer.

Springing into Summer: A May Weekend in Cville

fuel sweat grow: Charlottesville Paramount TheaterWe’re only 4 days into the month and I’m already missing May in Charlottesville.  After starting off the week with three straight days of miserable rain, high 70’s and sweet spring air has been more than welcomed around here.  It’s usually tough for me to pick an absolute favorite time in Cville (it usually spans from spring through late fall) but the extended winter has me so grateful for each day that my body welcomes in vitamin D, and I’m loving hard on this late spring.

This weekend definitely included a long list of to-do’s, prepping ourselves and MADville for our long departure from the day to day, but there was no shortage of the spring weekend things that make this place so magical.

Friday’s After Five was of course the end of the week highlight for the group, which included a core contingent of our MADville members, several of which had used the 12:15 class as the start to their weekend, working their way through the downtown bars until 5pm became an official reality.

fuel sweat grow: charlottesville Fridays after Five

I’ve recently switched over to white wine as I’ve eased my way back into the warm weather, but I haven’t drawn a hard line in the sand.  I think white will just continue to be my outside drink and I’ll relish the indoor moments that red and I continue to have.

fuel sweat grow: Fridays things

One of the least obvious things that I absolutely love about Friday’s is the kettle corn.  I’m obsessed with it.  It’s the end of the week treat and pre-dinner snack that I work towards, and the fact that they’re making it hot and fresh right there just makes it all the better.  I didn’t realize (because I live under a rock?) that you can actually buy this stuff in stores all around Charlottesville – but to be honest, for me, it’s the experience of the in-the-moment purchase that makes the experience so special.

Fuel Sweat Grow: Kettle Corn

Saturday brought an early morning of MADness, but for the first time in what seems like forever, it was just for operational support.  Saturday is actually my favorite day in MADville and you’ll rarely see me sitting out, but after the previous four intervals I did this week I needed a break – body and mind.  I’m always on the later end of the City Market, so I made a point to get there before 8am yesterday, scooting right over to see Erin McDermott for a little jewelry shopping before the masses.  And of course, I got it all packaged up in sweet little bags, just because she’s always adorable like that.

fuel sweat grow: Erin McDermott

I made my way back to MAD in plenty of time to check out both morning classes, and watched two packed classes experience what we by far the most grueling interval of the week.  Sorry guys, you’re better for it.  Brunch happened at The Southern (again) for a little business meeting with our friends who are launching Swim s’cool this summer in Charlottesville, and then it was back to the gym for a private class with the Sigma Kappa sorority chapter from UVa.

After everything at MAD was wrapped up, errands happened, including a late lunch at Zoe’s Kitchen (Greek Salad, no potatoes, add grilled chicken), and finally wrapped up in enough time to take the dogs for a walk.

Fuel Sweat Grow: zoe's kitchen

The rest of the night was spent celebrating a very special 2nd birthday.

fuel sweat grow: happy birthday charlotte

 

fuel sweat grow: sharing is caring

Sweet Charlotte turned two, and despite having her own personal smash cake, she preferred to delicately and intentionally share pinches of her cake with her best friend Eloise.  The cake was of course done by Maliha Creations, and was the best cake I’ve had since the last cake she made, and that’s a pretty high standard to hit.

All in all it was another great weekend in Charlottesville, and the last May weekend I’m going to spend here this year so I tried to soak in every last second.  I head back to Charlotte mid-week this week, and down to Charleston next week to finally get MADabolic Charleston opened and rolling with preview classes and the much anticipated grand opening.   At this point I think it’s safe to say we’ve essentially missed spring, so let’s do this summer, I’m ready for you.

 

A Declaration of Seasonal Change: 4 Priorities for a Productive End to Winter

Every year, around this time, there comes a day when I just hit my threshold for winter.  It’s not necessarily on the coldest or snowiest day, but just a day when my tolerance for anything other than the regrowth of spring and light jacket weather becomes insufferable.

Wednesday was that day for me.  It was cold, work was frustrating, and I was experiencing a constant level of nagging anxiety that I couldn’t shake off with rational thought or even wine.

We’re just over a month into the new year ( which always somehow resets life across the board ) in the thick of  the building phase for the next three seasons.  New projects, goals, and restructuring for both business and personal lives are in full force – detailed out in to-do lists, budgets, and expectations that will undoubtedly be deemed obsolete by the time we begin executing the plans.

We’re all trapped inside, sheltered from the cold as prisoners of the grind;  planning, evaluating, and creating our own hurry-up-and-wait anxiety for every imaginable demand we can think of.  Then, miraculously, when the weather finally breaks and we’re rolling in  consecutive 70+ degree days, life somehow manages to begin.  We graduate from the planning phase into the post-planning hyper productive phase of actually accomplishing things.  We can finally feel the gratification of achievement, and use it to gain the momentum to feed us the energy to take on the rest of the year.  It’s a beautiful cycle really — but only after winter is over.

So, since I have absolutely not control over the weather (namely the recent patterns of almost warm weather followed by two consecutive days of snow) I’m taking control over the next few months of my own life, and to the extent that I can — everything else.

Accomplishments -Georgia O'Keefe

1.  Goals Accomplishments  I’ve been a little down on the idea of setting ‘goals’ lately because they can too easily turn into a list of forced to-do’s in the future, so instead, I am focusing on ‘near term accomplishments.’  Habits to create right now, priorities, and daily/weekly goals that are both attainable and fulfilling.

2. Time Blocking.  In my former life I could multi-task with the best of them.  In fact, I performed best when under multiple deadlines and an overwhelming sense of urgency.  Now, not so much.  I have things happening in way too many directions right now and the challenge isn’t necessarily in getting them done, but rather, being able to be present in the moment I am doing them, focusing wholly on the sole task at hand to complete it fully and be done without having to come back to it multiple times.  I love this kind of structure and can’t wait to actually have time free to do whatever I want without worrying about the growing to-do list waiting for me at all times.

3. Yoga. I’ve been neglecting my self (not myself, really my self) and my body lately, so I’m making space in my life for this.  It’s a priority.  Between MADabolic, Flywheel, and all my runs and endurance workouts, I hardly struggle to find a good sweat, but I have been completely failing to give love back to my body.  I need to spend time focusing on mobility and flexibility in both my life and body, and for me, yoga is the answer.

4.  Creative Therapy.  I love crafts.  More than that, I love creating.  Whether it’s painting, sketching, designing, re-organizing my house, or even building a strategic plan for one of the businesses, the act of creating is so cathartic.  Sometime in the last couple of years I either lost the time or the space for the full creative process, so now, I’m focused on getting it back.  This is the ‘piece’ of my new life-commitments that I’m the most excited about, and that I think will ultimately provide the most value to all the other areas in my life.

So those are my top 4 right now, from a list that is actually much longer, and will undoubtedly continue to grow.  I’m excited to share everything that goes into these goals, and the accomplishments that come out.  There’s  something really rejuvenating about taking the time to spell it out and really committing to the power of it all (plus it magically fit into the 1 hour I had blocked while watching Father of the Bride on TBS.  Double win).

Cooking It Forward: Sunday Meal Creation

It appears that winter might finally be on the way out, but not before it gifted me with a sweet viral strain of mono that has me sidelined for a bit.   I’ve been under the weather for a while, so I’m glad to at least know what is dragging my body down, and I’m staying up on my chiro appointment to keep my immune system functioning.

That being said, my appetite has been either fully blown or completely absent, sometimes for days.  So, when I have the energy and desire to cook, I cook.  For hours.

Last Sunday I was feeling particularly inspired because my full-room closet was being constructed (oh yes, there will be a post full of pictures to follow), so I went to the market first thing to grab the weeks necessary ingredients.  Once I had the groceries, it was game on.

The first creations I set out to make were some (clean) egg streusel ‘muffins’ that our friend Becky had sent over to me.  I’m not sure how exactly they came about, but Dar had been talking about them for a week straight, and since multi-step recipes are not exactly her thing, I obviously inherited the task of experimenting.  So, here are the directions from the recipe, along with some of my own commentary since I’m not a strict recipe follower, by any stretch of the imagination.

ingredients:

  • 3 large green apples, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (approximately 2 cups) – peeled if you like
  • 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
  • 9 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil (to make it dairy-free), melted
  • 3 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees 

2. Peel & Chop 3 granny smith apples into 1/2″ pieces

green apples

2.  Simmer diced apple pieces in a saucepan with 3 tbsp (warm) water, and 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon.  Now, if I were to do this again, I’d be chopping those little guys up a bit smaller, because it took forever for them to cook down.  Also, I added about 6 additional tablespoons of warm water because it kept boiling off.  Other than that, it all worked out pretty well.

apple sauce

Simmer the apples down (stirring occasionally) until they apples are soft and the consistency of chunky apple sauce.  It also says to let it cool before combining with the dry mix part (that’s next!), which I was far too impatient to do, so I can tell you from experience, even if it’s still warm, you’re good to go with mixing it all together.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, butter, coconut milk, coconut flour, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Add the cooled apples, reserving 1/4 cup for a garnish.

This part was pretty simple, but I’ll just say, if you’re going to substitute out the butter for coconut oil (that’s what I did) just make sure you melt it first to keep things simple, and again, moderately cooled apple mix-in is kosher, so just get after it.

Here’s how they looked coming out of the oven:

apple streusel muffins

When they came out of the oven I let them cool for a bit, and then they went directly to my face.  And they were good.

I packed [most of] them away and popped them in the fridge so they’d be easy grab and go breakfast items during the week, and got started on project #2: dinner(s) for the week.

When I lived in Philly I didn’t have an outdoor grill, so I got pretty used to broiling vegetables in the oven.  Now that I have an awesome outdoor grill accessible I’m trying to be better about grilling more than just meat, so I made good on that promise to myself with some cauliflower and brussel sprouts drizzled with olive oil, everyday seasoning from Trader Joe’s and fresh ground sea salt.  Last minute I jammed an additional row of zucchini in there to give it some more green.

grilled veggies

Along side the veggies, there was of course a steak from Wolf Creek Organic Farm here in Charlottesville.

steak

We had a few cuts including a skirt steak that we hadn’t had before that were tossed onto the grill, and in the spirit of ‘cooking it forward’ for the week, I thawed some ground beef for another round of the spaghetti squash bolognese we also made the week before.

wolf creek ground beef

That being said, here’s how everything turned out:

The spaghetti squash bolognese was exactly right.  I had finally found a couple of larger squash at Whole Foods (so I didn’t have to roast 5 of the baby ones again), and the ground beef and turkey bacon really made the sauce more flavorful and soaked right into the squash strands.

spaghetti squash bolognese

The veggies and meat were awesome, and lasted for several meals during the week thanks to the over abundance of food this ‘meal’ yielded.

grilled veggies

wolf creek farms steak

When all was said and done, this was dinner:

dinner plate

The 28 day challenge was still in full swing during this meal creation, and was around the time that we stopped realizing that there were no carbs or additives in our food.  Of course that is not to say we forgot about coffee creamer and wine, but for the most part, we adapted to the food part and continued to be filled up by meals.

Dar and I will both, independently, be writing our own recaps of the 28 to life challenge in the coming days.  Our experiences differed somewhat based on our difference in food preferences and overall experience, which mostly differed only due to my decreasing appetite over the last few weeks thanks to this awesome illness.  Either way, it was a worthwhile challenge, and will definitely be modified and incorporated into our everyday eating habits.

We’ve obviously got lots of updates coming your way in the next few days from the past week, and have a number of exciting updates to share in the next few days so stay tuned for the skinny on all of that.  Until then, enjoy the beautiful SPRING weather!