Because, We All Deserve Some Good Clean Fun

There is no better prep for a clean eating month than the complete over indulgence of the holidays — at least for me — but the most painful part (aside from the complete and total withdrawal from my holiday wine pours) is social time out in public.

It’s not that it’s forbidden to go out, or that it’s that difficult to modify dishes to comply with whatever your preferred ‘clean’ mode of eating is — in fact we have a number of favorite restaurants locally that are amazing about modifying to be compliant, and have gone above and beyond to be safe havens for those brave enough to venture out during a ‘clean’ January.

The struggle, for me, is when I’m the only one at dinner in the early stages of cleaning up my fuel sources and I see someone fully enjoying my favorite red winter wine, or get a waft of some hot french fries passing behind me.  It’s the sensory overload of smells, emotions, and the connection between the two that initiates the game of personal restraint to not go full primal madness and launch my body across tables to secure my coveted wine simultaneously securing the french fries directly out of a small child’s hands.  And that is why I say with full conviction, that the struggle isn’t just for me, it is me, and the first two weeks are the absolute hardest. That is why we’re so pumped to hold our 1st ever Private ‘Whole Damn Thing’ Paleo/ Whole30 compliant dinner event at Timbercreek Market.

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I don’t know if you’ve experienced the dinner service at Timbercreek Market, but it’s amazing, and could not be more authentically farm to table.   They’ve put together an amazing three course meal for our community, all compliant with ‘The Whole Damn Thing,’ with a vegetarian option as well.

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Please join us for this one of a kind dinner event, and take a much needed night out to engage with the community, relax from cooking, and experience this amazing restaurant and menu.  Space is limited and spots are filling, so make sure you REGISTER on the b:core mindbody site to reserve your spot! Note: The event is listed on the schedule for Tuesday 1/17, and ticket purchases are listed under workshops/events.

 

 

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THE WHOLE DAMN THING v3.0

The first time we mentioned ‘clean eating’ at MADabolic Cville, and hosted the first ever seminar with 28toLife, we had 7 people show up…two of which were coaches.  A year later we launched the inaugural ‘Whole Damn Thing’ clean eating challenge and had 95 participants.  The community has steadily grown here in Charlottesville between our MADabolic and b:core methods clientele, and also grown strong at MAD Charleston over the last two years.

We’ve developed some amazing relationships, including with some awesome ‘clean’ partners in our efforts including our long-time friends at THE GOOD KITCHEN, formerly MODpaleo, who have just re-branded and improved their already amazing meals/meal plans.

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If you haven’t checked them out yet – do it immediately.  They provide clean (in all aspects) paleo/whole30 compliant meals that ship overnight in amazingly packaged shipments for the best on-the-go, or just simply delicious (or ‘GOOD’) meals you could imagine – and now also meal plans.

PSA: the last two years I’ve actually ordered their Thanksgiving meals for my own family holiday celebrations, and I now stock pile their paleo stuffing, green bean casserole, and mashed sweet potatoes with mushroom gravy because it’s better than anything I’ve ever had before, paleo or not.

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We’ll be sharing tons of resources over the next few days to help everyone get started with the best possible foundation, but don’t forget (if you haven’t already) to join the Whole Damn Thing Facebook group for community support, sharing, questions, answers, and usually some pretty good humor – you will not regret it, and geography does not matter.

As we prepare to kick off the 2017 edition it really brought my attention back to my own…well, lack of attention.  This blog was my motivation for so long, an outlet for things so far and distant from my day-hustle, and sometimes the easiest mode of communication with these amazing communities when the days seem to slip by too quickly, or when weekend fuel + sweat inspirations get buried too far under the stress-laden rubble of, say, a Monday.

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As we march hard into 2017 (there’s no turning back now), I’m re-committing myself to the vulnerability, connectivity, and ever-loving-catharsis of sharing the resources, lessons, inspiration and strength that I try and fail with in my life. Even just for the benefits of going through the process I’m excited to get back to the structure and motivation that comes along with commitment — passionate commitment.

Here’s to a stronger, healthier, and all around amazing year of kicking ass.

 

February is for All the Things

So far 2016 has been a little bit of everything.  It’s been stressful and exciting, chaotic and simple, passionately driven and at times, completely draining. So basically, it’s just another January trying to get all the things done, working towards a better blend of work, life, businesses, and well, wine.

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The Whole Damn Thing happened, and it happened pretty well again this year, up until the great snow storm of 2016 which made clean eating a very manageable reality (thanks to the in-house imprisonment) but pretty much guaranteed that 90% of our community would be reaching for some non-water beverage to help cope with the confinement.  And also, because, well, happiness.

This year, the beauty of the Whole Damn Thing was that it wasn’t just MADabolic Cville, and it wasn’t just 28toLife or Paleo.  It was about the embraced effort to eat clean, local, healthful, and body fueling meals that would promote strength and health in anyone, whether you eat meat or you’re a vegan-veggie-tarian.  We’ve long been fans of the Dar Salad (paleo/28tolife) at Citizen Burger Bar, for obvious reasons, but this year, we had our amazing friends and favorite neighboring food source join in to create a menu that our clients could not only love, but could also EAT.  Brazo’s Tacos released a paleo menu that essentially kept me, and many other people (as a result) alive for the duration of the month, and continues to be my lifeblood as when I find myself bound to the building several days a week.  Also, online ordering — it will change you forever.  You’re welcome.

In addition to the food efforts, we experienced the inevitable, yet fully embraced post-holiday influx of clients old and new, both at MAD and b:core, inducing wait list stress, scheduling trickery, and most importantly, a whole hell of a lot of excitement and energy in each class to kick off a brand new year.  With new interval and coaching developments at MADabolic (including what feels like the most innovative and freaking challenging intervals to date) and the launch of our cardio barre and core CARDIO class schedules at b:core that have us sweating our asses off every day, it’s hard to think that there could have been more on the docket for the month, but alas, it was also time to launch the sweatIX pricing, and so we did.

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Other highlights of the month include (but are not limited to):

  1. I was able to start using my Simplified Planner, and somehow, having each hour of the day filled out + up magically became appealing ‘structure’ rather than pseudo-organized chaos (although that’s already wearing off to a degree).
  2. We had an amazingly badass and physically/emotionally inspiring photo shoot of the sweatIX team with Andrea Hubbell that was nothing short of amazing and will continue to be coveted.
  3. The Mayor of MADville (Dar) turned 50, and no one wanted to believe it.
  4. Bug turned 4, and I cried.
  5. We had a delicious (and clean) happy hour at The Juice Laundry, and in addition to my obsession with the ‘Rinse and Refresh’ and ‘Cold Brew Latte,’ I finally had the vegan chili w/cashew cream, and some new Chicory Cold Brew coffee from the local Blue Prairie brands.
  6. Most importantly, we survived.  From the snow to juggling everything, January was unbelievably stressful this year with too little bandwidth and too much to-do, so getting through it is something to be celebrated with full abandon, and a deep exhale.

I’m still pending on really dedicating time to digging into my goals, development, and really any balance for myself, but I did book my first (adult) impulsive vacation, so right now, I’m just going to appreciate the fact that I’ve made it through the start of the year, and in many aspects am already beginning to feel like I’m getting my bearings, slowly.

Here’s to an amazing new year, built upon the foundation of chaos, experience, and all the good, the bad, and the strength, that has evolved up to this point.

The Inexact Science of Business, Life + Pumpkin Muffins

When I bake, I typically use a recipe (or two) as a framework, but the actual mixing of the ingredients is usually more of an inexact science.  For the last few years, trying to eat and cook clean has led to a fair amount of substitution and modification – mostly through trial and error – to figure out what combinations do or don’t work.

It’s a lot like life and business (the business of life?); systems and framework are critical to the foundation, but the rest is somewhat of an inexact science – an art if you’re lucky – that either blends into something amazing, or something that warms your garbage.

I’ve been thinking about it all lately as I try to navigate the ebbs and flows of the different businesses, my day job, and all things life.  So, today, I decided to dive into the metaphorical, and fulfill a few of my core desires in the moment: pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and kitchen therapy.

Without naming names, there’s a coffee shop in town (cough:: Mudhouse) that in the fall makes amazing pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  I became addicted years ago when Mudhouse was the only real local coffee game in town, and I would buy them in pairs like a little muffin hoarder out of fear that they’d run out the next morning before I got there.  Over the last few years the debut date of the pumpkin muffin has been more and more delayed –probably for the best, since eating sugar-laden muffins two-by-two is not consistent with any of my life goals.  Regardless, I still think about them every fall as the weather turns crisp and just like the stroke of midnight, everything turns into a pumpkin.

So today I pulled up this recipe from paleOMG and decided to fall in love with a muffin that I can have a reasonably stable relationship with.

fuel swat grow: paleOMG pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

Of course I had to make some modifications; in part due to ingredient preferences and availability, and in part due to my inability to painstakingly measure anything out exactly — that’s the art part for me; the outlet and liberation from following all the rules.

Modification #1: Date Paste subbed in to replace Maple Syrup.

fuel sweat grow: raw date paste

My main objective when cooking/eating clean is to eliminate most processed sugar, and leverage the flavor and sweetness of the natural sugars.  There are a number of different replacements out there, but dates are usually my go-to and were at top of mind this week after our friend Lisa geeked out over date paste to make what looked like some pretty amazing waffles this weekend.  Here’s a pretty basic and easy walk through from the chalkboard to get your sweet on without delay.

fuel sweat grow: date paste sugar supplementfuel sweat grow: date paste sugar supplement

Once I had the paste set and ready to go, it was out with the maple syrup and back to the muffins.

fuel sweat grow: paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

I ‘followed’ most of the rest of the instructions, pretty loosely, substituting in ‘pumpkin spice’ to replace the majority of the spices (except for cinnamon), eye balling most of the measurements, and multiplying the recipe by 2 (or maybe 2.5…who knows).

fuel sweat grow: paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

Yeah, I went a little rogue, but we all survived, and 10 minutes later it was all in the oven ready to prove whether or not my ‘art’ of mixing works, or not.

fuel sweat grow: paleOMG paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

While I waited for the moment of truth, I checked back in with the recipe and blog to get a good vision of what they ‘should’ look like, you know, if my muffin babies were ever going to be brunch models.

fuel sweat grow: paleOMG paleo pumpkin muffinsSince I pretty much just used the recipe as a suggested guide for basic structure and context, I wasn’t counting on my muffins being anywhere near as photogenic as the ones in the recipe, but I don’t think they’re half bad (if I do say so myself).

fuel sweat grow: paleo pumpkin muffins paleOMG Maybe I’m just having a proud parent moment, but outside of looking appealing enough, they also happen to taste AMAZING. I’m sure they’re not perfect, but I’m just saying, if they’re wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

[Disclaimer: if you’ve never had anything made with coconut flour before, the texture will likely seem odd at first, but once the taste sinks in, and you’ve had your first one, you’ll never turn back.  Just don’t freak out because it’s all in your head.]

They also apparently smelled pretty good, because this little diva begged incessantly before giving up to watch the rest of Harry Potter, in a full on pout, alone with her chipmunk.

fuel sweat grow: bug says pout

So, in short, I think what these pumpkin muffins are representing today is the reality life requires flexibility and modification.  There’s no one way to do anything, but if the basic systems aren’t there and the foundation is weak, it doesn’t really matter how you modify the rest.  It’s metaphorical, sure, but I really think there’s something to it.  The trick is having the patience to stay focused and committed to that core structure so that the modifications can just strengthen the goal.  I guess bells and whistles are nothing without wind.

And if that’s wrong, well, I gave it a reasonable shot, and whether the outcome is perfect or not, hopefully the modified version will still be tasty in it’s own right.

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.

5 Commitments for Balance + Productivity

It’s Sunday night, and once again as we stand at the close of this week and the start of the next, I keep coming back to the same thought: the weekends are too short.

fuel sweat grow: weekend days

It’s not that I necessarily need more rest — I’m not sure if the weekends are actually better for that these days.  My focus has been on trying to do less constant gear shifting,  and getting into a better rhythm of taking things to completion without a constant emphasis on multi-tasking.

It sounds somewhat like an oxymoron, but what I’m really going for is organized and balanced structure.  Organization in my environment, structure in my schedule, and a combination of the two when it comes to my calendars and work streams.  Time blocking is my best friend, and OneNote is my deepest passion — the only thing that I’ve been putting a little on the back burner is the food part.

It’s really not common for me to ever cook anything that isn’t Paleo, whole30, or 28toLife friendly because I’m just so used to it by now that I don’t really even know what I would cook otherwise.  What I’ve been slacking a little on lately is meal prep and planning, keeping things interesting and not monotonous, as well as doing actual at-home cooking.  The emphasis on restaurants and my red wine security blanket to get through these last four weeks of winter brutality has thrown me and my system off a little — so it’s time to re-organize, re-structure, and re-energize ALL the aspects of my life(style) and not just the work pieces.

So here are 5 things I’m doing on Monday to kick off the week:

1.  Email Organization. By the end of the week my email is usually out of control, so it’s helpful to start off monday morning not only clearing out the lingering unread messages, but also following up on anything that may not have been urgent at the moment but needs to be actioned.

2. Create a list of 5 action items to tackle each day before the first meeting of each day.  They can all be small milestones towards a bigger task, or completely unrelated, but I always like to start with the things that I either keep putting off or struggle to remember once I get caught up in the day.

3. Set a sweat schedule.  My daily schedule doesn’t always appear conducive to a regular fitness schedule, but my lifestyle is intertwined with it, so taking the time to be intentional not only with my schedule, but also the balance, brings me both sanity and a structure I can work around.

4. Plan meals out + go to the store.  I usually do this on Sundays and spend the afternoon prepping a number of different meals for the week, but with the craziness that has been filling up my weekend days lately, this can sometimes fall onto a Monday. And that’s exactly what’s happening this week.  I’ve got a little ‘whole damn thing’ spin-off brewing inside my head, so stay tuned for those updates coming soon, and as always, please join me.

5. Commit to down time.  This is everything right here — it’s the thing that constantly gets compromised or squeezed out, and it’s the most important part of the whole.  When I’m not zoned in on getting something done, or hyper conscious of my every-loving and constantly growing to-do list, every thing seems to become more clear.  When I slow down my mind is able to wander, creativity is heightened, and ideas generate at a faster and more connected way than normal.  It’s a 2015 priority for me, and it certainly deserves it’s space in my week.

So here’s to the start of this week, of March, and the hopeful ascent in temperatures and vitamin D. It all has to circle back at some point.