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.

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CLT Revisited: Friends, Food + Fitness

I’ve been back in Charlottesville for over a week now, which means it’s (obviously) due time to circle back to my Charlotte trip and squeeze in a few things that got left out of the few-and-far-between updates as of late.

I have a ton going on right now with my attention being pulled in a million directions, so when I’m in Charlotte (especially when I’m in Charlotte) I know it’s important to emphasize sweats and structure in my day to stay focused and have the energy to knock the to-do’s off my list.

600860_10200839069714385_1077805743_n

From a sweat perspective, I spent most of my time bouncing between Fight Gone MAD and Flywheel and loved every second of it.  That being said, since both are pretty intense, every 3-4 days I would take a day to myself to run or walk (especially during the beach trip) giving a little solo time to myself and my body.  The most key piece of that experience for me is always music, and new (at least new to me) songs and playlists.

I managed to fill my adventures with some new choice songs that are definitely going to be deemed the ‘Summer of ’13 Soundtrack’ for my life, but none more frequently played (in its entirety) than the Delta Rae ‘Carry the Fire’ album.  I would not necessarily recommend it for high intensity workouts, or anything where you’re looking to really find increased motivation and energy, but it’s awesome for a walk, long run, or just basic listening.

If you want to test your own willingness to be vulnerable and do a little at-home therapy, lay on the floor and shut your eyes while you listen to their single ‘If I loved You,’ and let your mind wander to the past, or present, and the many complex and heart breaking layers of relationships, life, and trying to do the right thing.  The song is about as powerful as it gets and could probably bring the strongest of souls down to their knees- so listen at your own risk my friends.

On a much more upbeat note, I was also able to catch up with some amazing friends in Charlotte that I don’t usually get to see, and loved getting to catch up with over sweats, eats, and even a little jewelry.

I met my friend Cara for a walk around her neighborhood (and a ‘surprise’ walk to Harris Teeter to buy a few kitchen items she was out of  – coupons present a sense of urgency people.  We’ve always walked together, and use the time to get in a little physical and mental therapy.  It’s probably one of my favorite friend sweat rituals because it helps restore balance to my whole being and gives us a chance to reconnect, a process that takes all of about 5 seconds.   I have a number of larger take-aways from our conversations that will be part of future blogs and would be far too minimized to squeeze into a paragraph here.

The day after my walk with Cara, and post-Fight Gone MAD class, I ventured over to reconnect with my favorite little bulldog – Suki.

fuel sweat grow: suki Mcdermott-White

Suki is the four-legged fur baby, and jewelry model, of my friend Erin McDermott (White) who is one of my absolute favorite people on earth (and the only person that I seem to buy Jewelry from anymore).

Erin is in Charlottesville every couple of weeks so I do see her pretty regularly, but it had been almost a year since my last smooch from Suki so I took the opportunity to catch her at home while I could.  Suki has crazy awesome energy and calmed down on my lap only when it meant full neck to belly button rubs – oh and when we put a necklace on her.  Like any good model she knows when its business time and sat still(ish) in her chair for the photo op.

While I was there Erin handed me some earrings that were the nearest replicas to old favorites that I had back in college and lost somewhere during my journeys.

Erin McDermott earrings

I had sent her pictures several months back asking for re-creations, even though they were not the typical style she normally makes.  I had actually forgotten about it totally, but she had remembered and when she was working with another jewelry designer that had the right scraps and tools, they gave them a shot.  They are perfect.  I think they’re going to try and team up on some different sizes and variations which I could not be more excited about (and you should be too).

Since I can never get out of Erin’s without making additional purchases, I picked up a few extra tidbits including an elephant necklace that had been waiting for me to get it.

Erin McDermott: elephant

And some more droplet earrings to go with my collection of the similar items in Erin’s line.

Erin McDermott Jewelry

My last two special friend-visits were happily done over lunch, one with my amazing friend Lauren who is always sweating towards some goal – this time the Baltimore + NYC marathons in the fall.  She and I hit up Bad Daddy’s which is one of my all-time favorites, and lunch was a CYO salad of romaine, mushrooms, apples, cucumbers, walnuts, avocado, and grilled chicken with a vinagrette on the side.  No picture to share, but the combination is awesome for summer.

While Bad Daddy’s is a go-to spot, I think I found a new winning salad when I grabbed lunch with my friend Cadie at Nolan Kitchen.  I got the house seasonal salad which is typically a kale salad with beets, tomatoes, herbed goat cheese, pistachios, pita croutons and a honey-sumac dressing.  I added Chicken and some additional (spring) greens to mine, and can say with all honesty this is my favorite salad, probably ever.

fuel sweat grow: nolans seasonal salad

So, those were the fringe updates on my trip to Charlotte with a few more sweats, eats, and suki/jewelry treats.

All of these things were awesome and made me happy in my heart, which is really all I could have hoped for and totally completed the trip.  And best of all? Erin is now a Fight Gone MAD addict (like so many of us) and I can’t wait for her to workout with us in Charlotte at the South End location, and when she’s up visiting in Charlottesville.  Suki is welcome too, of course.

Sweating + Working and Celebrating America

I keep thinking that it’s Saturday, but alas, it’s just Thursday so nobody panic.  We still have 3.5 sweet days left in this weekend and I, for one, intend to use them all.

Since getting back from Charlotte last week I’ve been a catch up and settle in cycle that can only be described as organizational chaos.  Thankfully I’ve squeezed in enough sweats to keep my brain functioning and my body awake.

Sunday required planning + body testing Tuesday’s bootcamp workout, which I was more than happy to oblige to since I needed a little circuit to get myself going in the morning.

The time table looked like this:

  • 45 seconds on / 15 seconds off (rotating through each station once per round)
  • 1 minute of rest in between rounds
  • 5 full rounds of high intensity pace

And the menu was:

  • Kettlebell RDL (option of 12, 16, or 20 kg kettlebells)
  • Medicine Ball Thrusters (holding ball at chest squat full down, drive up through heels extending arms and ball overhead while fully extending hip flexors)
  • Kettlebell twist (using 10 or 12 kg bells – slight dip with hips twisting to one side + pop up to extend hip flexor and twist bell to opposide side of body.  All while keeping an engaged core + strong back)
  • Turkish Getup w/barbell
  • Slamballs (12 or 20lb)

After testing this Sunday, Monday was a welcomed day for a long run + walk around town to slow things down a little and lengthen out the soreness in my glutes and hamstrings.

Tuesday morning was a boocamp morning which means a bright and early 5-something in the morning wake up, and kicking off the day with the 6 + 7am classes.  Per usual everyone rocked it, and we shot this picture of part of the 6am gang after the workout.

fuel sweat grow: 6am bootcampers

Usually I’ll try to swap coaching times with Dar if I can convince her, and I’ll take the 6am and she can take the 7 (if we feel so athletically inclined in those early morning hours) but Tuesday I happily delayed my activity until the afternoon and took a quick 2 mile warm up run before doing the circuit for the second time in three days with the 5:30pm group.  (I’m not pictured because apparently I have the most superior photo-taking skills – or at least that’s the reason I give myself.)

fuel sweat grow: 5:30pm boot campers

Meals this week have also been slightly chaotic, and have involved far more restaurant food than home-cooked, which is something I don’t usually like to let happen.

Monday night I did manage to pull myself together before too late and used the last of the fridge contents to make this meal.

fuel sweat grow: dinner at home

Ground local (Wolf Creek) beef with zucchini, onion, and mushrooms all sautéd together, plus a salad with romaine, almond slivers, blueberries, cucumber and avocado.

fuel sweat grow: guacamole and carrot chips

A side of my homemade guacamole and sliced carrot chips (for dipping and eating) also doubled as the salad dressing.  I’m not sure if it was just a really filling and great meal, or if I was so craving something home cooked, but it was exactly what I needed to kick off the ‘work week.’

There were multiple mornings turned ‘breakfast meetings’ at LaTaza this week, and I finally converted over to Dar’s full-time ‘regular’ order of scrambled eggs with veggies and extra avocado.

fuel sweat grow: eggs and avocado

This used to be my go-to for healthy (@28tolife style) breakfast out, but lately I had fallen into a pattern of getting the same thing, just wrapped up in a burrito.  I highly recommend both from a taste standpoint, but my body is thanking me for cutting out the gluten-full wrap.

Wednesday, which happened to be an off day for my body started with a LaTaza breakfast and began celebrating America a little early with an afternoon bar business meeting in Richmond.

fuel sweat grow: tequila snack time

It’s pretty uncommon (outside of such holiday events…) that I’ll decide on cocktails in the middle of the day, but somehow yesterday fit the bill, so I went for it.

After a full afternoon of meetings, and a quick trip over to Short Pump for a little retail tour, it got too late to think about going to the grocery store and cooking and when we got back to Charlottesville around 8:45, Dar and I settled on the idea of an extended post-business meeting business-meeting at The Local.

The one single change to my usual order is that I ventured over to the House Salad, forgetting my usual goat cheese favorite, and lived on the wild side of choice, even for just one meal.

The Local: House Salad

I’m not someone who can eat the same thing every single meal, or even every single day for that matter (outside of coffee and wine) but I have a hard time diverting from my favorite dishes at certain restaurants, especially if they’re local and real food oriented.  Therefore, once again I got the Tenderloin Special, and unlike Dar I opted to keep the potatoes rather than getting double vegetables.

The Local: tenderloin special

We’re celebrating America here people, and America (apparently) is about starches and butter, not vegetables.  [Disclaimer: I do not actually recommend that choice model or mentality any days of the week or year outside of some select holidays, and in moderation…].

This morning (Thursday — yep, still Thursday) since everyone was off work for the 4th, bootcamp turned into 1 group class with everyone still in town and moved to the park at 9am.

In an effort to push a little more cardio, and account for a larger group, the workout was structured a little differently.

4 people per station: 4 stations (each station had 2 exercises)

1. speed balls (modified wall balls)/breakdancers

2. jump squats/plank

3. slam balls/walking lunges

4. KB swings/star jumps

We started at each station for 2 minutes (1 minute of each exercise + then switch), with one minute of transition rest in between.  It may have been the heat, it may have been hangovers, or it may have just been much harder than we thought, but after the first round of 1 minute for each exercise, we took it down to speed rounds with round 2 having 45 second intervals, and round 3 pushing through at 30 second max effort intervals.  Regardless, there was heavy breathing, lots of sweating, and three full rounds of work.

Fuel sweat grow: boot campers

The rest of my day consisted of catching up on work, stocking up at Whole Foods (updates on that to come later), and this:

Fuel sweat grow: Ball Jar Mimosas

So far I’m enjoying my celebrations of both Freedom and America, but I’m ready for a nap, and still hoping to squeeze out a little more work.  Two contradictory forces working there, but I’m optimistic.

Dog Meets Ocean: A Weekend at the Beach

After a long week of work, and several long months of craziness in general, it was finally time for a quick break.

fuel sweat grow: Myrtle Beach

Welcome to Myrtle Beach, friends.  After an early Saturday morning departure (and a far too long 5 hour drive) it was time to take a breath – and a long nap in the sand.

After the beach it was definitely time for dinner – but first, margaritas.

Fuel sweat grow: margaritas

We went to Twelve, a restaurant close to Garden City, and since they had a $3 margarita special, 3 out of the 4 of us had to give it a go.  It was totally worth it too, there was nothing discounted about it, but it definitely put the happy in happy hour.

For dinner I had the skirt steak with seasonal veggies, and then the garlic mashed potatoes came on the side.  Initially I had no intention of eating the potatoes, but it’s vacation, and they were delicious, so I indulged — but just a bit.

fuel sweat grow: steak at Twelve

Sunday morning came pretty quickly after 3 margaritas at dinner, and kicked off with Bug’s first beach adventure.

fuel sweat grow: bug beach run

So, turns out, she LOVES running on the beach, but she’s terrified of the waves, so there was a lot of zig-zagging around to dodge what she viewed as impending doom.  I did eventually get her into the water, but I had to really coax her, and slowly walk in first.  What can I say, she’s all about safety first.

She spent the rest of the day guarding the house from all other beach goers, and pretty much anyone who considered walking within 100 yards of her perch.

bug

I spent about 6 hours and two solid naps on the beach getting some much needed Vitamin D (yes mom, I wore sunscreen) before heading back to the house to make dinner.

fuel sweat grow: veggie stir fry prep

Veggies chopped and ready to simmer.

fuel sweat grow veggie stir fry

Paired with chicken and steak for an awesome stir fry modification.

fuel sweat grow: stir fry meats

I was really in need of some good protein, and veggie nutrients, so this was a great Sunday dinner.

fuel sweat grow:  stir fry plate

Since my only real exercise of the day had been my wind sprints on the beach with Ms. Bug, after dinner I hit the beach for a long walk.

I’ve been getting back into walking lately since I don’t always want to push my body through a run (usually after a tough workout, but also during rest times), and this was perfect.  I absolutely LOVE beach walking, and dusk walks with the breeze from the water are without a doubt the absolute best.

My recent iTunes adds included the latest Delta Rae album, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for some beach walking music or really honest lyrics.  Double recommend to some of my yogi friends, and I will probably cry immediately (tears of joy?) if you play them while I’m on my mat.  That’s pretty much a promise — the songs are that easy to connect to.

This morning included another beach walk, another dog meets ocean adventure, some sun, and then a run after the long afternoon ride home in the rain.  I’m signed up for Flywheel tomorrow morning before a long day of work, and have a full week of sweats and some awesome new Fight Gone MAD pics to share tomorrow.

I miss the beach already.

Some ‘Almost’ Summer Sweats + Eats

Happy Memorial day WEEKEND!  It feels a little strange to think that it’s already memorial day weekend since I’m not sure how we got to May, and have seen only a handful of days that I would categorize is truly ‘spring’ days, but hey, if everyone is in agreement I think I’ll just take it as the truth.

So far the weekend has been amazing.  Totally relaxed, driven less by a to-do list than a want-to-do list which is just beautiful in and of itself.  The lead into the weekend was pretty sweet with Thursday night’s bootcamp group rocking out a partner workout.

Workout: 3 station with 7 minutes of constant work for BOTH partners, alternating work at each station.

There was a 2:30 break in between rounds.

Station 1: 6 Box Jumps / 6 slam balls (counting rounds)

Station 2: KB swings / 200m run

Station 3: Air squats (or goblet squats w/KB) / Plank hold

After bootcamp was in a complete grilling (and using everything in the fridge) sort of a mood, so here’s what happened.

1. grilled asparagus.  made the usual way – light olive oil + sea salt.  grilled to tender, but not wrinkly.

asparagus

2. grilled turkey burgers! I bought ground turkey from Whole Foods a couple days prior so it was time to put it to use, so, that’s what I did.  I literally just made them into patties and added nothing except for a little ground sea salt on the outside.

turkey patties

While they grilled I set out the ‘fixins,’ which included iceburg lettuce for buns, tomato, cucumber, avocado and (not pictured) some amazing dijon mustards.  I always order the dijon at Citizen Burger Bar when I build almost this same burger there (but with Timbercreek beef and pickles instead of cucumbers) and it has this unbelievable kick that I can only assume is horse radish, so of course I bought some.

fixins

Here is my completed plate for a meal that was exactly what I needed.  I did add one more lettuce leave for full coverage (and control) of the burger, but it was amazing.

val burger complete

A few hours after dinner I somehow managed to make a slightly better choice than the Sweethaus cupcakes that Margaret had dropped off during her lunch hour, and had strawberries, blueberries, sliced almonds, a few mini chocolate chips, with a shaken coconut milk/cocoa/vanilla extract ‘sauce’ on top.  It was awesome and I got exactly the right amount of sweet from it.

dessert

Friday morning we had the 6 and 7 am bootcamps who did the same workout as the Thursday night group, and then I jetted off to Richmond for the morning to get some things signed and to get a little retail therapy in on the backend at Short Pump.  I scored some amazing new sneaks at Nordstrom and a new outfit at lululemon, of course.  By the time I got home (and after I woke up from a surprise hour-long nap) it was time for Friday’s after Five downtown.

There’s not a ton of graffiti in Charlottesville, or really much at all that I could even recall, but this was on the wall at my new favorite ‘not so secret anymore’ parking spot for Fridays.  There’s something about it that really actually appealed to me for some strange reason, and added a little color to a random and hidden side street.  There is a serious artistic talent to some of these sections that I totally appreciate and that actually make me miss making art.

charlottesville 'street art' charlottesville 'street' artcharlottesville graffiti art

Friday’s was awesome as per usual, despite the chilly winds that took the heat of the sun away, immediately.  Most of the usual suspects were out, and Dar of course managed to meet some new people that will likely now add the group of ‘The Usuals.’

Thanks to the chilly winds we did split a little earlier than usual to find refuge and delicious food at the upstairs bar in The Local.  I love the local in general, but there is something about sitting at the bar and getting to chat with other people, bartenders included, that really adds to the element of being out, and Dar and I were able to talk at length about new ideas and thoughts for the Fight Gone MAD grand openings here in Charlottesville, as well as in Richmond.

Sidebar: have you ever read the ‘history of the building’ section in the menu? It’s so very Charlottesville, and gives a great historic feel to the whole space.

The Local History

 

The drinks definitely helped the feeling of excited jubilance.

bold rock cider

They have my favorite Bold Rock Cider, which helps me cause greatly, and then my favorite courses of local meals around.

Local (Caromont) Goat Cheese Salad:

the local's goat cheese salad

Followed by the tenderloin special with no sauce, cheeses, or dressings of any kind.  Asparagus and red bliss mashed potatoes underneath.  It’s amazing people, you need to try it.

The Local's tenderloin special

That was a wrap for Friday night, and it was a good one.  Definitely an awesome lead into a three-day weekend full of beautiful weather and nothing but want-to-do’s.

More to come on that later.  Hope you’re all enjoying your weekends, let us know what eats, treats, and possibly even sweats (?) made their way into your holiday fun!

Saturday Recovery + Food Restocking

The past few weeks have been pretty hectic, and when I threw in a last minute trip down to Charlotte last weekend, my normal routine fell apart.  On Saturday morning when I opened the fridge and realized that had allowed my reserves to deplete down to liquid diet options of either booze or almond milk, I put on my coat and ventured out on a gathering expedition.
food blog - fridge pic

On a warmer Saturday in Charlottesville (seasonally dictated) I would have gone directly to the farmers market, and found all my favorite local sources of meat and produce, but alas, it is the middle of winter and four walled stores it was.

When I’m heading on a full fridge restock trip it always involves multiple stops, so on Saturday I made my way to Trader Joe’s, by way of Whole Foods.   The produce section of TJ’s has all of my staples and is always cheaper than WFM, but the meat section just can’t compare.  I am going through a pretty serious flank steak phase, and Whole Foods has some of the best grass fed cuts that don’t taste ‘grassy.’

food blog - flank steak from Whole Foods

I used the opportunity to grab an iced americano from the little coffee cart, and happily made my way across the street to Trader Joe’s where I picked up staple produce, berries,  nuts, and some basic replenishing supplies in the form of spices, pasta and coconut oil.

food blog produce
basic core staples: spinach, mushrooms, zucchini + yellow squash, romaine
food blog  spices from TJ's
TJ has the best seasoning spices – everyday seasoning is my go-to for everything
food blog berries from TJs
dark berries: blues, blacks, & rasp.
TJ's coconut oil
most universal + used staple in the house.

Friday morning included Dar’s bootcamp at Solidarity, immediately followed by Pure Barre with Kristin, so my body was ready for a rest.  Friday night had been an equally long night out venturing over to Mudhouse in Crozet to listen to a small acoustic show performed by a friend’s husband, and then dinner and drinks back downtown at Citizen Burger Bar.  By Saturday night I was ready for some down time to get work done and spend a little time creating in the kitchen, so that’s exactly what I did.

whole foods flank steak w/tenderizer & seasoning
whole foods flank steak w/tenderizer & seasoning
purple potatoes, zucchini, sliced bella mushrooms
purple potatoes, zucchini, sliced bella mushrooms

When I start chopping, I like to do more than I need and pack it away so it’s easier and faster to make quick meals during the week, so I chopped what I had and then packed the potatoes away with some mushrooms and zucchini to use in scrambled eggs this week.  The flank steak went on to the grill, and the rest went into a pan with a table spoon of coconut oil, and added spinach once everything else was tender.

food blog : mushroom, zucchini, spinach

I’m always amazed at how much spinach cooks down, and how quickly, so I never add it until the last second and try to take it off the heat before it gets too soft.  While everything was cooking down I had brown rice pasta cooking on the back burner, also taking it off the stove a minute before the suggested time to avoid it getting too soft.

food blog - brown rice pasta

After the pasta and veggies were done, they were combined in a mixing bowl, and created one of my favorite combinations of flavors.  The coconut oil combined with the juices from the vegetables acts as a natural dressing for the pasta.

food blog - 021113

food blog - 021013

I kept the salad simple since so much else was happening around the chopping block and the stove, so it was just romaine, avocado, walnuts, and mozzarella cubes, with the Trader Joe’s Cilantro salad dressing.

food blog - 021013

food blog - 021013

All in all, Saturday was a great day for both food and rest, and I threw in a couple glasses of wine for ‘moderation’ and relaxation as I pushed through the to-do lists that had been piling up.

On to a new week now, but check back in for Sunday highlights, full of more market finds, friends, and PB toning.