that time there was a whole fish in my kitchen
Friday, August 31, 2018
Grilling a whole fish has been in my mind for years. I just haven’t done it. And finally, while dining at Annette outside of Denver (highly rec), after enjoying a grilled whole-fish grilled, I announced to the table, (which included 2 people I had never met), that this would be the year I would attempt at grilling a whole fish.
When it came time to finally start searching for the *perfect* recipe, many had citrus-centered ingredients. Now, I realize/know that citrus and fish go hand-in-hand and I personally love all lemon-lime-grapefruit-clementine-orange-flavored things. But here’s the thing: Justin doesn’t.
So when I came across this Grilled Branzino with Cilantro-Mint Relish, I knew I either had a winner (based on pure success of this endeavor) or a total loser. Now there’s still citrus in this recipe, duh, but figured the acidity with the mint and cilantro would lend to a flavor of true salsa.
I made my way to Whole Foods for the fish and came back to Justin grinning on the couch, “Do you have it?” What was this, a drug deal? I grinned back, “’Yes, and I also have chicken in the freezer if this is a total bust.”
I started prepping earlier than I normally would—I didn’t want to rush the process. I opened the butcher-paper and laughed out loud. I am staring at a whole fish. Or is this whole fish staring at me? What had I gotten myself into?
I prepped the delicious cilantro-mint oil tasting as I went along (fact: I did not use as much oil as the recipe called for #macros, plus I just don’t love super oily consistencies). The flavor was incredible.
I read the runner-up recipe which suggested letting the fish sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. So believe it or not, I added this step…and no, I am not the person who refrigerates sugar cookie dough at Christmas.
Showtime. I coated the grill with plenty of EVOO spray, and a little on the fish, too. And the next step was the hardest: patience. For the skin to crust up and not stick, you really must wait a full 5-8 minutes. So, we waited. Then, the moment of truth: the flip. I used to spatulas underneath the fish and flipped it over to reveal a gorgeous skin. Patience paid off.
After removing everything from the grill, I topped it with the relish and we sat down. The second moment of truth. When you score the skin, it is easy to just pull on one edge up by the tail and reveal the meat. There was such beauty in this meal, it forced us to slow down, take care in picking meat, and enjoy each and every bit. Two fish down the hatch later, with full bellies, it was perhaps one of the most surprising and enjoyable #sundaysuppers we have experienced together. One that I hope, to repeat again and again.
Grilled Branzino with Cilantro-Mint Relish
Gas or Charcoal Grill
Plate/cutting board/Plastic Wrap on counter top
Kitchen Twine (optional)
TWO Metal spatulas (plastic will melt)
¼ small white onion, finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup fresh lime juice (I also added some Lime sparkling water because I didn’t get quite ¼ cup)
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp coconut sugar
½ cup finely chopped mint, plus 4 sprigs for stuffing
2 red chiles (such as Fresno or serrano) with seeds, thinly sliced, divided
¼ cup of EVOO (the original recipe called for 1/3 cup plus 1 tbl but since I had also added the sparkling water, I used less of this)
2 whole branzino (they should come already cleaned. I got mine at Whole Foods.)
Nonstick cooking spray
1 lime, thinly sliced (optional)
SIDE DISH OPTIONS
Potatoes in foil on the grill
Arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette
Working with the fish first: pat fish dry with paper towels. With your knife, make slashes crosswise on a diagonal along body every 2” on both sides—cutting down to the bones. Season inside and outside of fish with salt. Let sit 20 minutes at room temperature.
While the fish sits, mix onion, cilantro, lime juice, ginger, coconut sugar, chopped mint, half of the chiles, and oil in bowl. Add salt to season. Set aside.
You can prep your other veggies until the time is up. I did par-boiled potatoes and then put them into foil packets to finish on the grill, along with grilled zucchini, grilled asparagus, and a buffalo mozzarella tomato salad.
When 20 minutes is up, stuff the fish with mint sprigs, lime slices, and remaining chiles. You can tie with kitchen twine at this point, too, but I decided to live on the edge and not.
Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Spray grill grates with nonstick spray and spray the fish a little, too. Grill fish until skin is crisp and flesh is flaky and opaque, 5-10 minutes. DO NOT MOVE THE FISH. The only time you should move the fish is to flip it.
To flip the fish, slide your metal spatulas under the head and the tail. In one motion, ROLL the fish away from you. Et voila! Finish cooking on the other side.
Remove fish from grill and cover with relish.
When you sit down to eat, lift a piece of the skin by the tail up to the head to reveal all of the delicious meat.
Each Branzino is about 8oz of fish in total. 0C/5F/42P
For the added relish, I added a few fats into MFP. And yes, there was also a delicious sauv blanc served alongside the fish.
this is definitely not chicken
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
So we don’t eat pork a whole lot, but Justin loves BBQ and I was craving something different for a #sundaysupper so I thought, why not?
Knowing that they aren’t the most ideal source of combined protein and fat with macros, plus added sugar (i.e. carbs) with standard BBQ sauce, I knew I needed to get creative.
And it would start with sauce. From tomato sauce to salsas and all the condiments in between, I always prefer to make my own sauces to avoid any added nasties, as well as sodium. Plus, 9 times out of 10 they taste way better because, well, they are fresh. The sauce below yielded quite a bit, that unfortunately didn’t get completely used, but I hadn’t planned on leftovers, and I don’t love BBQ sauce on much else other than ribs or chicken. I’d also rather spend my carbs in a different way, but if I had some shredded chicken, it could be a yummy addition. Feel free to throttle different amounts of ketchup, vinegar, and Worcestershire. Taste! Taste! Taste! Ask your family to taste so they can tell you what—if anything—needs to be added. Justin took a few dips into the sauce to make sure I got it just right.
Next, to get the most bang for my meal and to feel satisfied, I paired the protein with some hearty side dishes. I made a tomato and fat free feta salad that gave me the extra bump in protein for the night. I added grilled asparagus, grilled zucchini, and some roasted potatoes. I don’t tolerate corn well but grilled up some corn for Justin because corn and BBQ scream synonymous summer.
Finally, let’s talk about the “magic spice blend.” It was delicious. While it is still sitting in our cabinet, I am just dreaming of what I am going to put it on next. I did, go figure, make some swaps, but the full recipe is on Food52 and I mentioned the original ingredients below so if you want to go OG, by all means, go for it!
What I loved most about this recipe was how easy it was! Seriously fool proof, and yes, while an oven in the summer isn’t always *ideal* the house smelled pretty damn good all afternoon. If you’re cooking for a crowd this Labor Day, or need something easy for football season, look no further.
The original recipe never even called to finish them on the grill, but I liked taking this extra step because, grilling them with the sauce yields a nice, crispy, caramelized skin.
Baby Back Ribs with Magic Spice Blend
Sheet pan/cookie tray
Gas or Charcoal Grill
2 lbs of pork baby back ribs
4 tbls Magic Spice Blend
Magic Spice Blend (adapted)
1/3 cup coconut sugar (original recipe called for brown sugar…you choose)
1 tsp regular salt (original recipe called for 3 tbls)
2 tbl smoked paprika
1 tbl garlic powder
1 tsp cracked pepper (original recipe called for 1 tbl)
1 tsp cayenne (original recipe called for 2 tsp)
1 tsp celery seed
2 tbl dry mustard (original recipe did not call for this—optional but mustard+pork=classic)
Alexandra’s BBQ Sauce
½ cup no sugar added ketchup
3 tsp coconut sugar
dash of hot sauce
½ tsp chili powder
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp ground mustard
2 tsp fresh garlic, minced
2-4 tbl apple cider vinegar
salt + pepper to taste
SIDE DISH OPTIONS
Potatoes in foil on the grill
Preheat oven to 300. Season ribs on both sides with magic spice blend. Wrap the ribs tightly in aluminum foil. Place on sheet pan, flesh-side down, and bake for 2 ½ hours.
Remove from oven. Finish on grill, basting with sauce along the way.
I calculated 6oz of ribs at 22.5F/0C/27P.
Sauce clocks in around 0F/15C/0P.
the most #basic protein of them all
Thursday, August 16, 2018
So you bought some chicken breast at the store along with a million of other Americans to cook this week or weekend. Chances are, unless you sprung for the $7.99/lb already cut tenders, you have in your possession a piece of chicken with a fat end and a thin end. And I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way.
Please, for the love of all things, stop either:
I am here to help
I have been using this fail-proof method for cutting up chicken breast for a few years, and I finally took the time to snap some photos (DIY, so excuse the not perfect-quality) to share with you. This method is perfect for baking, poaching, grilling, or sautéing chicken (which when I sauté, I prefer to go a step further and cut the breast up into bite-size pieces).
It might be easier to look at the pictures first and then read the instructions before you cut away but I guarantee that you’ll find it takes just a little prep, and with macros, I love the two smaller pieces of chicken option for meals when I just need a little protein, or a snack, but don’t have to cut into a whole chicken breast.
Plate/cutting board/Plastic Wrap on counter top
Ziploc for storage
Raw Chicken Breast
Remove chicken breast from packaging (duh).
Flip chicken breast over so that you can see the smaller tender piece. This piece usually has a flap on it, so lift it up.
Beginning at the small thin end of the large breast, cut along the natural line and flap of the small piece to where it connects to the thicker end.
You’ll have a tender.
Still working with the breast flipped over (so the “shiny” side is still face down), take your scissors and cut horizontally into where the thickest end of the chicken breast is. You’ll have another flap until you cut the thickest part all the way through.
You’ll end up with a rounder, slightly larger tender.
Your results yield 2 smaller tenders and 1 large breast for your next meal.
From there, I like to weigh the pieces out, usually combine the two smaller segments, and put in Ziploc for cooking later.
Grab that scale!
SOup ME up, Summer.
Thursday, August 9, 2018
A few weeks ago I hit this really weird point where I was just so sick of eating the same protein sources and meat. Enough with the sautéed chicken and egg whites. I couldn’t take any more. I’m cool with the cauliflower rice bowls, and red lentil pasta, and all the vegetables. But when you make them for lunch AND for dinner – for almost 2 months straight – you’re just kind of like, “Come on you’re better than this.” Which is why I am thrilled that Alissa Vitti’s soup from “Woman Code,” popped up as a memory in my head.
Soup in the spring and summer? Well, Alexandra, considering you work with a blanket on your lap and slippers on your feet, this doesn’t seem like it’s too far off.
In an effort continue to stay creative in the kitchen. I decided to whip up a similar version of her for lunch the other day. This soup focuses on keeping the liver lean and clean and is a great alternative when you just *can’t* eat a salad. Obviously, you could make more than the one serving here, and divide, which I have done in the past, but I wasn’t sure if I would want soup two days in a row...
Making soup is an incredibly efficient, easy, and inexpensive way to use whatever you have on hand to clean out the cabinets and whatever is in the fridge that might be on its last legs. Celery that isn’t perky? Great, throw it in. Zucchini that has a squishy spot? Put that in, too. Go through your spice cabinet. If you have 1 tbl left of marjoram from the winter, throw it in, flavor it up, and recycle that bottle.
I used raw chicken here and had poached it in the soup which lent to a great texture, and just a little protein. It was a welcomed change-of-pace meal for me. And in case you’re wondering, I do wish I had made a larger batch because I definitely craved the cozy comforts of this afternoon lunch the next day.
Small non-stick pot (I used a Le Creuset)
Olive Oil Nonstick Spray
Low Sodium Chicken Broth 2.8oz
Water, as needed—I don’t like a soupy-soup
Garlic powder, to taste
Oregano, to taste
Shredded green and red cabbage 85g
Boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed, 116 g
Turmeric, added LAST, to taste
Measure ingredients using scale. Liberally spray inside of pan with olive oil spray and add fennel, leek, celery, and carrots. Let them soften and brown a little. Add your chicken broth and additional water. Add the cubed chicken and poach until it is cooked through. Finally, add the turmeric and more water or broth as needed. Because the turmeric is so staining, you can’t quite tell if and when the chicken is done if you add it before the chicken.
a unique surf 'n turf
Friday, July 20, 2018
Do you ever have that ingredient in the fridge or freezer that you just CANNOT look at another day or you’re going to go insane?
So I have this thing with frozen meat. I just prefer raw. And I know that once meat hits the freezer (for me) it tends to sit.
Enter a half-dozen chicken wings. I don’t even know how long they were in there (definitely less than 6 months), but I can’t even remember if I moved them TO Justin’s apartment when I moved in or if they were here because I bought them for a #sundaysupper and we went out instead. Now y’all know I am about that #zerowaste life, so I couldn’t possibly waste precious protein. Wings tend to have a higher fat content, and I knew I couldn’t just rely on wings for dinner, because I needed more protein and something low fat to round out my macros for the day. Shrimp came to mind. Lower in fat and higher in protein, this seemed like the perfect option.
Now there are two food groups that I can pound, and probably put down a pound of. These are, wings and shrimp. (I challenged my dad once, I ate 23 wings. Pound of shrimp at the beach solo? No sweat.)
I knew this would be the perfect combination.
And it was. This meal was satisfying on many accounts. It got my hands messy which sometimes you just crave on a casual summer night eating outside with a slight breeze. With just a couple of wings, and a bit of shrimp, I felt full, but not overstuffed as I would have been had I cooked steak. I didn’t feel weighed down and the herbs lent such a nice flavor to the proteins.
With that said, wings, well, have bones. I’m not crazy enough to debone those buggers, so whether or not these macros are perfect or not, I can’t totally be right, so I just tracked how many wings I ate—which were 2, not 23.
Gallon Ziploc Bag
Gas or charcoal grill
1 ½ - 1 ¾ lb. chicken wings
1 lb. shrimp (keep refrigerated for later)
Olive oil spray
1 heaping tbl oregano
1 heaping tbl ground mustard
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp Trader Joe’s 21 Season Salute
2 tsp of garlic from the jar or 4 fresh cloves
1 tbl Worcestershire
½ c. white wine or rose (I had old wine to use, you could also try broth, or a water/vinegar mix)
Spray the inside of your gallon Ziploc bag liberally with the olive oil spray. Combine all spices in the bag and add the wings. Flip, cover with marinade generously. Refrigerate up to 6 hours. I think ours ended up around 4.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees, line baking tray with tin foil. Remove the wings from the marinade and PUT THE BAG TO THE SIDE. Place wings on baking tray and bake for 12 minutes.
Remove shrimp from fridge and put into chicken marinade (you’re going to cook the shrimp). Add additional spices—I chose 21 season salute, garlic, oregano, and added about ¼ c. wine. Place back in fridge just to cover.
Remove wings from oven and shrimp from fridge. Lightly cover the wings with a coat of balsamic vinegar.
Preheat grill. Remove shrimp from fridge. Grill wings until caramelized and brown. Grill shrimp until cooked through.
2 wings = 0C/11.6F/16P
...but could it be my cardio? part 2of2
Monday, July 9, 2018
WHY? Because we live in a molded society and many of us—admit it or don’t—are all trying to look similar and fit into whatever compartmentalized “look” that has been dubbed as pretty. And I had a damn vision in my mind that I thought I had fulfilled…
Then I realized something. I did fulfill it. Because you know what? Those things I tried on, that didn’t fit, weren’t meant for ME.
The past six months have provided a lot of change of which I am very proud of. I’ve grown stronger inside, and outside, of the gym, and as I mentioned in part 1, my body has evolved, too. I continue to learn about the fuel and nutrients my body needs to function and feel well.
Just as “I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me,” there are certain clothes, styles, outfits, that just won’t always WORK. Clothes should work for, and with, you, not against you.
For my birthday, I found a few great dresses a rockin’ Anthro leather jacket. Then I was walking through Target (not looking for clothes, go figure), and I walked past the kid’s section and thought, “Hey, that looks kind of cute,” and then proceeded to try it on. It fit.
Please, laugh at this. I am 30-years old, wearing a children’s size 16 but couldn’t fit into a size 4 romper (with a 0 waist: stating a fact here; not boasting). And I continue to find luck in the children’s section! See photo evidence below...
Justin and I have recently had a few events that required additional shopping. And you know what? Some things didn’t work; but let me tell you about the stuff THAT DID. This dress, that dress, a top here with tried and true white jeans…
I was so excited getting dressed, I asked Justin to wait until I was completely ready. I’m still thinking about these outfits and the next time I can wear them in 3 years so no one notices my outfit repeat.
This was LOUD for me; hot pink find from Nordstrom
Great top-find from Target kid's
My journey with finding clothes and perfect pieces meant for me, is an adventure I’m eager to continue. And these few moments have me feeling like I am capable of dressing like a normal human outside of the gym. I know I’ll have less than stellar moments in shitty fluorescent lighting. Did it still feel treacherous trying on bathing suits for the beach? Hell yes, but then I realized I’ve worked hard, and a little outside of the comfort zone is a good thing. We push ourselves inside of the gym, but why not out?
For those moments that I might get caught up in the ego game of sizing, I now have this post to come back to as a reminder that the dress with a side zipper that doesn’t zip past my rib cage is OKAY. Forget anything that doesn’t make you absolutely feel 110%; the size doesn’t matter one bit.
Another Nordstrom dress find...I own it in black, too.
Cutest ruffle detailed faux leather jacket ... from, you guessed it, Target kids
Shopping was not my cardio. part1of2
Friday, June 29, 2018
We hear about body positivity, confidence, how we are all shaped differently, carry weight and muscle differently, etc. but how often do we really take this to heart? And how often do we end up fighting ourselves?
I haven’t been relying on the scale, but my body has changed in the past 6 months ever so slightly that I am almost between sizes. I’m proud of the hard work I’ve put in to accomplish these changes, so around my 30th birthday I was excited to go shopping. And just before summer, I couldn’t wait to splurge on a new bikini.
Now my “old” wardrobe featured lots of J.Crew, and well, J.Crew. Since working from home, those pencil skirts have taken up the back half of the closet and I just wasn’t going to wear those on my birthday trip to Napa! My current wardrobe consists of workout clothes all day, every day, and I’ll throw something on for date night. I don’t consider myself a super trendy person—I know what’s out there, have stuck to what works for me, and always focus on quality over quantity (I like to buy things once).
But that doesn’t mean ya girl doesn’t like a good retail shop every once and again. I will be the first to admit—I like nice things—but usually choose to spend on food, and well, workouts. And pedicures because of those workouts. Okay manicures too because calluses aren’t cute. I. Am. Down. The. Rabbit. Hole.
For my birthday, I was ready to exude style and confidence and step a little out of my typically-conservative wardrobe. I wanted edge. And for the summer, I wanted to hit the pool in something other than my 2013 black Old Navy bikini. Note: that was 5 years ago.
My shopping excursion mission began. I scoured online, visited boutiques, then of course hit up old faithfuls—Nordies, my beloved J.Crew. I picked out cute rompers, great shorts, dresses, little tank tops, excited to rock something new and different knowing very well, my body had changed.
I spent upwards of $800 on bikinis to figure out sizing and try different styles.
And then nothing fit.
Something, somewhere, the tank tops wouldn’t fit my chest, or then it would and I would look unproportionate. The suit tops would cut into my back, and the bottoms would fit perfectly. Or the top would fit, and the (already smallest) size bottom was, too big.
My self-perception and pride of the work I had put in felt crumpled. I won’t deny that tears welled.
I berated myself for looking terrible in things. Too puffy, too fluffy, too bulky. I was confused, frustrated and discouraged. I eat well, I train daily. While I don’t utilize the scale as a progress predictor, I know that I was lighter. What the hell gives?
But WHY…WHY did I feel the need to send my anxiety into a tizzy and raise my blood pressure to a boiling rate? To be continued....
the 90s called: they need their turkey burger back
Friday, June 22, 2018
The macros journey is one that, as you know, requires protein. And as much as I have LOVED macros and appreciated the flexibility of food, I’ll be the first to admit that I had become stagnant in the kitchen. Bored and frustrated with my lack of creativity, I thought about – what felt like – a long lost love for cooking. Sure, #sundaysuppers continued in our household, but they were becoming very…bland. Why should I throw away the creativity of my meals when I adjust my lifestyle? I sure as hell shouldn’t.
This particular Sunday I was like, “What do I want that won’t blow my numbers out of the water?” “What can I grill?” “What haven’t we eaten in a while?” Mexican? Nah. Steak? No. Then it hit me. Summertime, crisp iceberg lettuce, and a sweet slice of tomato. Burgers. I’d make burgers. But I wasn’t going to make any old burgers.
I knew turkey would fit the bill for a low-fat, high protein source. But these couldn’t be the bland, dry turkey burgers our mom made us in the 90s with English muffin buns, covered in ketchup to add some sort of taste. No, no. These needed to be #extra, have depth, and spices. I opened the cabinet. Cumin hit me in the face and I knew I’d be making Greek turkey burgers.
Using garbanzo bean flour as a binder kept with traditional Greek ingredients and I had some on hand so that’s what I used to hold them together. If this was necessary, I am not certain, but I have found that unless I’m cooking beef burgers, chicken and turkey tend to require a binder. Next, the earthiness of the cumin combined with oregano and feta lent to flavors of the Mediterranean. As I type this, I’m thinking I should add mint next time.
Along with grilled eggplant and zucchini as our sides this #sundaysupper was simple, fast, and felt elevated. I did a lettuce wrap, J had a pretzel bun, and my macros were happy.
As this is my first macro-published recipe, I’ve done my best to estimate them below using My Fitness Pal. Feel free to use the below as a basis. While it took a little longer to plug this recipe into MFP, bringing it back to the roots of my love for being in the kitchen and creating made me feel excited again and brought another layer to this macros journey. Plus, I had leftovers, so all I had to do was go back to my recipe, add it as my meal, and enjoy again.
These were lower in fat, but seeing as I couldn’t get ground lamb, I’d like to do a mix of that and turkey next time, but in the meantime, these flavorful, juicy patties were put to the test—and passed. Ketchup, optional.
Plastic wrap/small container
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp Piment d’esplet paprika (optional)
10-11 g/1 tbl garbanzo flour
46g/2 oz feta
Combine turkey and spices in a bowl. With your bowl on the scale, tare the scale (bring it back to zero), and add your garbanzo flour. Tare the scale again and add your feta. Remove bowl from scale. Wrap your kitchen scale, with plastic wrap or add the small container to measure out single patties weighing to 4-5 oz. You should yield 4 patties.
1 x 127g / 4.47 oz
3 x 139g / 4.90 oz
How unplanned days and meditation got me through April … and has continued
Monday, June 18, 2018
March was a month: <24 hours in San Diego, a bachelorette, my Napa 30th, plus planning those events, work, learning macros, the gym…I got back from my birthday feeling burned out AF. What a way to welcome 30.
I took March 30th off, checked into the spa—a generous Christmas gift from Justin (yes it took me 3+ months to get there)—with intentions of decompressing and unplugging. And I did as such. My phone stayed in the locker on silent ALL DAY.
I had begun meditating in the beginning of March, a habit inspired from J. I wasn’t super consistent, but on the days I skipped my morning peace and quiet, I could tell.
When I left the spa that day, I knew I needed to keep the reclaimed rest that I had just cultivated from my day of quiet and relaxation at the spa, but another month of madness was on the horizon…12 days home.
I had to approach April differently. I would not allow myself to feel the overwhelming-ness of life. I decided to up the ante with daily meditation and tackle the month in a way I don’t usually organize my life: with no plan.
Since April 2nd, I have meditated every day using Insight Timer; as short as a minute of solace or as long as five (or longer if I do multiple). It has changed everything. Sometimes I’ll use the timer, sometimes I’ll reach for a guided session. I will tell you the anxieties haven’t completely disappeared but it’s less than before. My mornings are now better than ever and if I don’t get to it first-thing, the day feels “off” (although meditating before bed helps to unwind). I’ve even used Insight Timer for those lazy-hot Sundays when you’re not quite ready or in need of a nap, but you just want to veg-out.
As far as living without a plan…te mindfulness I had unplanning-ly planned went like this: I would not think too much about the next day until 8:00 p.m. or so that night. I would not obsess, stress, or worry over what was happening in the future. Allowing myself grace to move through each day without thinking about the next until a specific time, proved to be instrumental. I truly took the days by day, but it all stemmed and grew from the mornings of meditation.
Meditation is simple and straightforward. There isn’t a right way or wrong way to approach it. I hope you’ll give meditation a try—breathe. Ground yourself, energize yourself, take a moment of silence, just for yourself. If you need some extra edge, go ahead and find me on Insight Timer, I’ll be there right along with you.
My intentional group fitness break
Friday, June 15, 2018
I recently took a group fitness hiatus…
Rewind. I began tracking macros with @madeline_moves in February. After great 8-week results, I felt I was living a more balanced lifestyle instead of one that was fear-based of anything not “clean.” Madeline began talking about a first-time 30-day workout and carb-cycling program called “Tighter Together,” for April.
I was intrigued. And I was apprehensive.
Could I do this? Ego snuck in. “You never stick to other challenges like TIU. You get bored easily. You already work alone, and for most of the week, live alone. Your workouts are an outlet, a form of human interaction daily. How can you give that up?”
Then, my brain wanted to think this was the worst timing. The biggest meeting of my career was on the horizon—I’d be on the road for 10 days.
I stopped, and thought about what I could gain. You see, I was feeling less motivated in the group atmosphere. And on the road, I felt like I wasn’t giving the hotel gym enough. I’d wake up with boring DIY workouts and not push myself…insanity is repeating something and expecting different results. I knew I needed a change.
I’ll never forget the first day’s upper body workout. Justin went to a class—I had FOMO. On top of that, the workout was 90 minutes long. Y’all where was this disclaimer in the beginning? How on earth was I going to stick this out!? Then my intuition kicked in, you can do this. You’re going to do this. And along with some community motivation, and Madeline’s natural ability to keep things down to earth and flexible, it didn’t feel overwhelming, or fake. And I did it.
Let me tell you how much I learned from these 30-days:
going to bat for 500.
June 14, 2018
The fact that this little blog of mine has been on the interwebs for over three years boggles my mind. Half the time, I don’t know who reads it, and half the time I know who does, but first and foremost, if you’re here right now: thank you.
I’ve been in this position before with the re-evaluation of what needs to change and the required work that this page does take to keep up. Side-hustle and full-time bloggers, y’all work so hard and I respect the shit out of your commitment to your trade.
I have no intention of pursuing this craft as a full-time commitment, but the truth is, my mind has been brimming with words. There are single word-documents saved in a folder with just a handful of sentences on them. Many of them have “DRAFT” in the title. And some say, “FINAL.” I have post it notes with quotes scattered. My phone contains almost fully-written blogs. I haven’t for lack of any other excuse, made this a priority to sit, and write. Sometimes it feels daunting to do so. Do my words make sense? Do I blab too much? And of course, it takes a lot of time. In a similar capacity to “you never regret the workout that you finished,” I never regret when I sit, type, and hit publish to a new post. Sometimes I look for the perfection of the words to flow just right, and end up procrastinating perhaps out of worry that I should just “read it one more time,” and then I never get to it. I am working to restore some spiritual aspects within the general realms of life and the ideas of creativity and photography and writing keep popping up. Sure, the hesitation might not disappear but if “writing,” keeps coming to top of mind, I need to try—harder than I have. So, in the words of Gabby Bernstein, “Who are you NOT to share your story…” Here I am.
Which brings me to this: 333 words feels, not “write” anymore. I know I need more, for I have not upheld my promise on more than one occasion. So I thought 444 (#angelnumber) and as I started typing the next post after this one, I was approaching 500 words. And somehow that just feels…right. Not too few, not too many.
You’ve grown with me. You’ve witnessed my triumphs, my failures, times of sadness and moments of great joy. I’ve shared with courage, what I hope has proved beneficial, to each and every one of you and that you finish reading each post with a piece of inspiration. Whether it’s in the form of attempting a challenging new workout, or a recipe that is out of your normal wheelhouse – side note: my summer goal is a whole-grilled fish…stay tuned – or perhaps you were experiencing a moment of loneliness wondering if it was “only you,” and words on this page resonated. Please continue to visit.
With love, and gratitude,
Dare to delete
March 18, 2018
Words: 692...listen,, Linda, I know it's longer than I usually promise
Back in January, I began reading once a week, for about 35 minutes to a little boy at an elementary school. He is in first grade.
In the two months that I have worked with him I have felt moments of gratitude, sadness, and inspiration.
Every Thursday, he walks into our session and the first thing I ask is “Are you ready to learn?” (Strategically I chose the early morning session so that this answer would always be “YES!” so that he wasn’t burned out after a day of whatever-else they are teaching that day).
While reading over my tutoring assignment, the title struck me: “Dare to Delete.” We had to delete sounds within words and match them to something similar. So we began, “Are you ready to learn today?” I asked. “Yes!” He said with a smile. I explained the directions. My buddy struggled on some of the words. And as he sounded out and deleted letters and sounds, I couldn’t help but think about what we, as functioning adults, could use to delete? And as this exercise was difficult for him—even me!—how hard is it for us to delete things? It could be as easy like getting rid of that pair of shoes we never wear, that’s taking up space in our closet? What about an addicting application on our phone? Or it could be more difficult. Is it time to end that relationship that no longer serves it purpose—romantic or a toxic friendship? Perhaps it’s that extra commitment that we know will put us over the edge? Where could we learn to say “no?”
I have been feeling excessively overwhelmed recently and have recognized my down time and self-care has been a little less-than stellar. I’m finding myself guilty of add-add-add instead of delete, jam-packing attempts of every aspect of my life trying to make sure every little piece is in line. Like most people, and especially us women I recognize we are sometimes hardwired to live that life of “perfection.”
With a packed travel schedule for the next couple of months, both work-and personal related, I was looking to plan it all out (hello, I am a meeting planner IRL)…but it is looking more of like I need a plan to have no plan. To leave calendar days blank. Or in my case, a calendar invitation to my boyfriend that reads, “Do not ask me to do anything except maybe cook.” (You think I’m joking. This actually happened.)
It was also during these moments of chaos that I remembered the mantra, “Slow down to speed up.”
Can I wake up an hour earlier or even thirty minutes to meditate and set a tone for my day to attack my list (whether it is mundane laundry or dishes) with calmness and make sound decisions on what is sharpied into my planner versus what just gets the pencil-in or a move to another day/week/month?
How am I organizing my day? Do I need to swipe through Instagram again or can I use that time for something else? Is the task at hand really going to take as long as my brain is saying it will? (it won’t, promise).
I’ll be damned if I go to another appointment, heck, even a manicure, only to feel frazzled about the 573 other thing I want to get done that day. How can I create space in my day instead of cramming back to back appointments in that end up unenjoyable?
Is it totally needed that all dishes are clean in the dishwasher by the time I leave for my trip? Is it going to be the end of the world if they are dirty when I come back?
Every once and again we need to let some things slide and show some self-care and love. You’ve heard it before and I’m going to repeat it. Self-care is not selfish.
I want you to take an honest look at your schedule for the week…and the question now, I ask of you, similar to what I ask of my buddy at the beginning of our day is: “Are you ready to delete?”
Pt. 2 of 2: Finalizing resolutions
February 28, 2018
Words: Bless you if you make it til the end of my rambling
Here we are, the last day of February…is it ironic, that February begins with the letter F? Maybe I was meant to resolute this month all along.
Although instead of resolutions per se I’ve decided to come up with a list of other F words (because my true Favorite F word will always be numero uno) that I would like to Focus on as I approach 30…-in-less-than-a-month-no-I-am-not-freaking-out…here goes:
Fresh—why wait until spring. What can I infuse into my environment, both tangible and not, daily, weekly, monthly. Meditation is a cleansing piece of my day I lost and would like to revive. A DIY manicure or Flowers also help to brighten my mood. My wardrobe could also definitely use a swift kick in the ass.
Financial Responsibility—oh the big one. Y’all know I was in a pretty desolate place when I moved and it took a lot to get out of that bad, bad place. Since last September, I have officially tracked every cent of my money and completely budgeted where things go. I’ve given up a lot. I barely shop. I don’t drink during the week. My finances look different now and I am consciously choosing what money goes to what pile. While I’m nowhere near where I need or want to be, it’s time to own the rest it, grab a bottle of champagne—even if it’s a weekday—put my big girl 30 pants on, and, well, get shit done to Figure it out.
Friendships—with the rocky start I had here in Charlotte combined with #roadwarrior status, Friendships were, and have been a challenging avenue especially in Charlotte. I am cognizant that I can work harder to Foster new and Fuel old friendships that align with me, are supportive, and nourish my life.
Fun & Fabulous--Goodness I’ll be damned if I don’t try to infuse some sort of Fun every day. It won’t always happen, that is surely unrealistic, but I can try remember to make time for Fun and laugh… (probably at myself, Justin always says, “You think you’re so funny?” because I end up laughing at myself like 99.9% of the time. If you can’t laugh at yourself, then what is there!?). I’d really love to nail an unassisted handstand. How Fun would that be? What can I do to Feel Fabulous? Mind, body, soul, and, yes, aesthetically. I think I already mentioned clothes…#byebye safe and boring BUT NEVER BYE TO LEGGINGS. I draw the line somewhere.
Forgiving--ah, mindfulness, we meet again. I’m working to remember the life lessons of the past…take what you need, leave what you don’t. And those Futuristic plans are incredible and goals are important but the daily grind matters just as much.
Focus--Am I positively Focusing on the right things? How can my Focus help to build my career and promote growth within my organization? Could I Focus more to Find time in my day? How can I Focus to boost my confidence? How is my social media consumption? I deleted Snapchat back in the Fall. Instagram, you’ll stay, but my Focus on less is more, is becoming easier to handle.
o my list in a nutshell:
Perhaps these words will live within me every day…I am sure that some will stick more than others. Or maybe one or two will sneak in when I need to remember my Focus if I get all bent out of shape and off my rocker (yes, it definitely happens).
One thing is For sure. I’m about to hit 30, I am sick of living in an ego-driven place of anxiety where I am afraid of mistakes or feel like a victim. I am ready to Flourish. Live Fully. And BE FEARLESS. And for me, that looks like applying a combination of the above action words to Fuel my life. To make the words on this list work together. For example, I want to do a little shopping to add a Few Fresh Fun pieces to my wardrobe but I can do so with my Financial responsibility in mind.
I think more than just saying these words and keeping them safe somewhere, locked up is great, but sharing these strong words…what a powerful start to becoming #Fearless in 2018, let’s go.
Pt. 1 of 2: foraging resolutions
February 27, 2018
*For the purpose of this post, every word that begins with “F” is capitalized. You’ll later Find out why.
Much to the chagrin of my mother and father, one of my Favorite words begins with the letter “F.” It’s well-rounded (and we know I hold this viewpoint as personal manifesto). It’s a verb, a noun, an adjective. Use it when you’re happy, when you’re sad…
Needless to say, I was contemplating my New Year’s resolutions in December (and, yes, I realize it is February), and I came up with another “F” word: Fearless.
You see, there are many days where I live in a lot of Fear. “What if I do this; what if I do that; what if this happens; what if I say the wrong thing...etc.” all stem from a place of egotistical Fear. Lessons learned I’m afraid of repeating, or something, and you know what? It sucks. It sucks walking around being scared all the time. In 2017, all I wanted to hear was congratulations. Check. And now, I’m ready to be Fearless in 2018.
I started thinking about my list for where I wanted to go in 2018 I knew I wanted to be more than just Fearless, although I know will take a lot of work. What do I aim to Foster? I thought about my Finances. I thought about Friendships. I thought about what I Focus on daily.
Then I picked up, “Maybe It’s You,” which Forced a pause on Finalizing resolutions because I decided I wanted to Finish reading before I completed my resolutions.
Reading “Maybe It’s You,” helped me to approach self-work in similar ways I had already utilized as an organized type-A human. It opened my eyes in good ways, and some bad ways, as I had moments of anxiety. I Found a Few takeaways from the book: Fun. Forgiving. Fresh. Fuel. Fabulous.
While the disdain my parent’s hold against that one “F” word, I hold my own irritation for another, a word I’d like to eliminate Forever. And that is failure. It doesn’t deserve to be capitalized. Ever. Further thoughts next…
this little piggy was honest
February 14, 2018
I recently shared something with y’all on Instagram: I don’t love the slow cooker. On the other hand, one thing I truly love within my relationship with Justin is our ability to be honest with each other. We have no issue calling out one another’s bullshit or giving our opinion, and I think it has helped to establish a strong foundation. It has been—so refreshing— and this way since day 1 and it continues to grow.
Where am I going with this? Justin called me out. “You don’t like the slow cooker because it’s boring to you. It’s not challenging, so you don’t like it and you avoid it.”
Well I’ll be [insert knee jerk slap]. “You’re right.” And UGH, wouldn’t we all rather receive those two-and-a-half words instead of dole them out ourselves? Who likes to admit they are wrong? I guessss there’s strength in admitting you’re wrong….
The second Hemsley + Hemsley cookbook has been on my shelf for over a year, and I believe, as pathetic as it is, this is the first recipe I have made from their sophomore debut. With a little creativity, the pork lasted two solid dinners, and one lunch.
The first night we enjoyed as prepared, and I added roasted brussel sprouts, parsnips, and turnips. The next night, we created carnitas nachos for J and a burrito bowl of sorts for me. J finished the pork for lunch over rice the next day.
With work travel schedules, we don’t always find ourselves home on a Sunday to enjoy a home cooked meal, but this particular Sunday, as un-challenging as it was to not stand in the kitchen for 2 hours, it was just as challenging to sit still on the couch, but it was amazing! I felt like I had all of the time. So maybe, just those things that don’t seemingly upfront challenge us, should be welcomed as, you guessed it, a challenge. And the challenge is accepting the unchallenging aspects of life.
Smoky Slow Cooked Pork
*Adapted from Hemsley + Hemsley’s “Good + Simple,” and https://themindfuleater.ca/slow-cooked-pork/
Small Bowl with mixing spoon
2 lb. boneless pork shoulder
3 bay leaves
4 Tbl. Apple Cider Vinegar
3 medium apples, cored and chopped into chunks
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ Tbl. Ground black pepper
½ Tbl. Fennel seeds or ground fennel
1 Tbl. Sweet smoked paprika
½ Tbl. Cumin
2 Tsp. ground Cinnamon (I have to admit, we didn’t have it and omitted it and I am so sad! I think it would have really elevated the flavor, but Justin definitely didn’t notice)
½ - ¾ Tsp. chili flakes
1 Tbl. Sea salt
Combine all the spices together in the bowl.
Put the remaining ingredients (apples, bay leaves, ACV) in a slow cooker, give them a mix, and place the meat on top. With a sharp knife, score the pork all over and then rub the spice mixture well into the meat.
Cover with the lid and cook on low for 8 hours (or on high for 4-5 hours if you don’t have the time). Alternatively, place in an ovenproof casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid and cook in the oven (preheated to 325 degrees F) for 6–8 hours.
At the end of the cooking time, place the meat in a dish (or just keep in slow cooker) and use two forks to shred it. Remove the bay leaves. Place the pulled pork back into the slow cooker or casserole dish and toss in the smoky apple sauce. Switch to "warm" (or turn the oven temperature down lower) and keep covered until ready to serve.
Make Ahead Options
As I mentioned this tasted great warmed up the next day. By day 3 it was not the greatest anymore, but prepping one day ahead and reheating would work just fine. Alternatively, I’d be interested in scoring the meat all over and letting the rub sit for 24+hours prior to slow-cooking.
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Little did Justin know that since we started dating (he has now since caught onto this) I have been secretly imposing #sundaysupper into our weeks. Our first-weekend-date even ended with an “I know this sounds crazy, but do you want to come over for dinner tonight?” text message which was, you guessed it, on a Sunday.
He didn’t quite catch onto this effort of mine until late, and he wasn’t convinced about my theory of how it sets the tone for the week, until he started to really look forward to the moments on Sunday when we choose a protein, head to the farmers market, settle into coziness, and cook while listening to music (okay, or really, watching sports).
I had sort of lost some of this #sundaysupper mojo, slightly blaming work travel schedules, lack of planning, exhaustion, and the like, but after a weekend or two with consistency, I was back on the train, and loving every moment—okay, and so was Justin, because what man doesn’t want a warm, nourishing meal? Especially with us both on the road often, we usually find ourselves with food of less flavor, more sodium, and more fat.
After flipping through some cookbook inspo I came across this Food & Wine magazine that I had saved and thought, “You know what, I save all of these articles, and rarely find myself going back to them, so let’s try this one.” And enter our little faux-getaway to Spain.
These albóndigas were full of flavor, cooked in a delicious broth and finished with shimmering mushrooms, and for the man, a hearty crusty end of bread to sop up the goodness.
I loved the make-ahead aspect to the meat, and while it required a little bit of extra effort, it was nice to come back to them after a little afternoon delight (read: cocktail), to have supper on the table in no time.
So while the weather still calls for something hearty, go on, take a trip to Spain.
Albóndigas with Mushrooms
Adapted from http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/albondigas-mushrooms
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dredging*
1/2 cup milk*see note
1 pound ground chuck
1/2 pound ground pork
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoons white Rioja or other dry white wine*
1 large garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil*see note
2 medium tomatoes, halved crosswise
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour*see note
1/2 cup white Rioja or other dry white wine*see note
3 tablespoons brandy or dry sherry
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound mixed wild mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster and chanterelle, cut into 1-inch pieces
Large saucepan/dutch oven
Large saucepan/dutch oven
Make the meatballs In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour; cook over moderate heat, whisking, until a thick paste forms, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk and cook until thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl and let cool slightly. Add the chuck, pork, eggs, parsley, wine, garlic, paprika, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper; mix well. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours. (***hence when we went for our afternoon delight.. Let's be honest, I probably would have never actually let them sit)
Form the meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Dredge half the meatballs in flour. Cook over moderately high heat, turning, until browned all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and meatballs; don’t wipe out the pan.
Make the sauce Grate the tomato halves on the large holes of a box grater set in a bowl until only the skins remain; discard the skins. *see note
Add the onion, carrot, garlic and a generous pinch of salt to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and paprika and simmer over moderate heat until slightly reduced, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, then stir in the wine and brandy and simmer until barely thickened, 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until very smooth. Return to the saucepan, whisk in the stock and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover and simmer over moderately low heat until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, cover and keep warm over very low heat.
Meanwhile, make the mushrooms In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add half the mushrooms; season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining oil and mushrooms.
Spoon the meatballs and sauce into bowls, top with the mushrooms and serve.
Make Ahead Options
1. The meatballs can be refrigerated in the sauce for up to 2 days. Reheat gently and stir in the parsley before serving.
2. I froze these for Justin and he reheated them up. They were still a bit frozen and he broke them up to make them a little mushier but they were still in tact when he took from freezer.
1. I made this GF and DF adaptable. You don’t have to! I think almond flour might work well also. The meatballs had a tough time staying put together but if you work carefully with the coconut flour, they will.
2. Rose all day, baby! I only had Rose and pinot noir on-hand, so guess what I used? No need to open a new bottle here.
3. I definitely did not use a box grater because until all of my kitchen supplies make their way to the boy's, i had to make do with old school squeeeeze method.
4.I did not use 1/4 cup of oil in the places it called for that much.
#healthhacks pt. 3: road prep
January 7, 2018
My first work trip of the year was cancelled, which def bummed me out as I truly enjoy being on the road in work mode. I looked at this extra week-ish as an opportunity to spend some QT in the kitchen, get back on my clean eats wagon and I’ve got to be honest—I have truly enjoyed getting back in my groove, letting my creative juices flow, and my mood dictate flavors and menu. I have cooked more in the past week than in the past month. Plus, I don’t think that Justin is complaining!
The extra week also allowed us some more time to…make space for me! Yes! I am moving in with him. And that kitchen space needed some work (I love you babe, but basketballs in the cabinets).
In preparation of my work trip slated for the end of the month, I have another set of #healthhacks for when you find yourself hitting the road. While the holidays are over, we know that wedding season is about to be in full swing which usually means travel…
wip it good, wip it real good
December 17, 2017
Justin and I woke up one morning to a work conversation. As I write this, I realize work-talk first thing in the morning doesn’t sound sexy…but hear me out.
“I have a project that’s a WIP.” I stared at him, puzzled.
“Babe, what’s a WIP?” [pronounced WHIP] “You know, a ‘work in progress.’”
A lightbulb switched on instantaneously.
As we wrap 2017 with 2018 on the horizon, I couldn’t help but gently remind myself how we are all a “WIP.”
Every action we take, whether it be a step forward, a thoughtful conversation, a challenge, requires work, and it propels us closer—we hope—to our goals.
Sometimes, the work isn’t simple or the action we want; the plan is met with tiny steps backwards, hard conversations, or hurdles that aren’t welcomed with a smile, but met with a good cry, a middle finger, or a rant.
It’s not news that social media is a highlight reel. This holiday season, I want to remind you, behind that post, is a WIP. Someone like you. Someone like me. Everyone is a work in progress. We don’t always share the struggles, though we try—me included—to keep it real.
But maybe, perhaps we can switch from self-deprecation and comparisons with the “likes,” and instead have it assist with an inventory and help take an honest look at not only who we are but WHERE we are. What is that person doing to create a moment of envy? What sacrifices did they make? What excuses are they not making? We all have the same amount of hours: how did you use them in 2017?
I hope you’ll take some time to meditate and reflect on 2017 and embrace what 2018 will hold and what you aim to create. I plan to do this soon, and I’ll share…of course. And then perhaps we can change it from the highlight reel, to the highlight REAL, because that’s what I’ll continue to try to do here, and everywhere.
the gratitude run
November 16, 2017
The past May, I signed up for a June 5k. I hear the haters: “What a bitch you just went out and ran a 5k?” Mostly…you see, I had an excellent treadmill-sprint one day and decided to find a race. Two weeks later, I ran my heart out.
It was my first race since Thanksgiving 2014. Between injury years and other classes, running was on hold.
After working out regularly and frequenting my chiropractor, I was feeling, well, strong.
Needless to say, race morning came and like a child on Christmas, I was almost irritable that I had to wait until 9:00 a.m.
My manageable goal—break 26:00. 2014’s PR was 24:16/7:49 on a DC full-flat that I was super trained up for so I thought breaking 26:00 was fair since I hadn’t been consistently running.
I told my motivator—my-then-I’m-not-sure-what-we-are-but-we-just-started-talking-sort-of-dating-I-know-what-I-want-us-to-become-man—my goal. I honestly didn’t think he’d show. But there he was when I clocked in at 24:51/8:00, +:35 from my PR…um, excuse me? 6th in my age group?
Come September, Justin, still, my motivator (more than ever) and I decided to race together. I started running more, continued MADabolic, and set another goal—top 5 in my age group.
The last stretch of the race I was beat. Then it struck me—I couldn’t do this one, or even two years ago. Had I started to take movement for granted? I wouldn’t let that happen. I dug up some gratitude and powered through. Breathless, I watched Justin cross the finish line, which is to date, one of my favorite memories. Overwhelmed with love and joy for having him by my side again, this time as a participant instead of a spectator, we walked to the results…3rd in my age group. Couldn’t be. Logged out. And back in. Confirmed.
And as I stood there, filled with all-of-the-emotions along with an incredible man, who achieved a goal he set, and I realized did too…we did it…all I could think of was, thank you.
November 10, 2017
*Thank you to all of our Military Veterans for their service!
Words: 348...I also broke my 333 rule here, too....WHOOPS
I’m not a celebrity-gossip guru. I don’t watch television. But I read. Recently we went on an old-school movie-date to the Glass Castle, an enthralling memoir I read years ago.
The dad, Rex, said something that hit me:
“You learn from living. Everything else is a lie.”
I grabbed my phone…blasphemy…to take note.
I find myself learning from living every day. A trial and error lesson. A lesson from a someone a stranger or a familiar face. Perhaps a lesson from reading.
How open are you to learning?
I must say, in the literal sense, I wasn’t very open growing up. Learning didn’t come easy. I didn’t love school. (Or because I was “bad” at it, those tendencies to avoid something because we don’t think we are good enough?) I did okay because I showed up. How often do we need to do just that?
As an adult, I don’t know if I find myself yearning to return to an academic setting, but I find myself eager to learn from living. To expand my brain. Who or what can challenge my thoughts? My patterns? What can I read to expand my vocabulary? What can I listen to that sounds different from my usual channels? What am I going to come up against today and how can or will I react? How should I react? What do I need to take note of, so it is a lesson learned and doesn’t repeat?
Maybe I wasn’t open to learning academically because I thought it was a damn lie. I’d rather you throw a wrench in my day; watch me pull it out. With, or without help. It’s not always going to be easy or fun, these lessons. Lots will suck. Many will be great. And combined, make us stronger.
As a person of routine this takes a lot to say out loud. It’s scary. It’s unknown. But the fact that we are continuously learning by experience--as long as we show up—is a gift. Do we view it as such? If we don’t, I think damn well we should.
Nothing Rhymes with Orange Pt. 3
October 29, 2017
To recap part 1 and part 3. Lack of energy, space, good organization/variations of exercises but also a surprise when you walked in the door.
And to that point, I sometimes felt like I was being rushed through an hour of hard work. Get in. Work. Get out. And when if you left with fewer than 12 points it was like you had failed for the day…
I’ve written about metrics before, and somehow I don’t know why I thought my type-a personality would look at OTF differently. Now, I did in the beginning, but I was wrong in the long run. I found the competition started not only within me but with others. Now, please, I can be very competitive, and not everyone is, and that is a-okay. Sometimes classes focused on competition and sometimes they didn’t. Additionally, while I had great caloric burn, I felt like I was getting a little bulky. PLEASE at this point, if you are still reading, remember this is MY experience. And my honest opinion.
I have actually found that I am not alone in my aversion for OTF. Before I explain, I want to mention that I think there is GREAT potential for studios like this. It’s an incredible place for someone looking to work out for the first time. It’s accessible. It can teach anyone, a lot about fitness and training. After talking with people here, there, and everywhere (remember I am on the road a lot) the reviews were always mixed. For some of the monotonous reason I found people generally had the same feelings as I did.
But here is the bottom line: OTF, I respect the hell out of what you have created. But it’s not for me. Just like how not to take things personally with people… You aren’t for everyone and everyone isn’t for you. OTF you aren’t my workout, and I’m not your client.
nothing rhymes with orange pt. 2
October 24, 2017
Part 1 recap: lack of energy from members, crammed space. Now, lets get to the guts—the actual workout. It’s an hour long, [usually] split into three areas: row, treadmill, and floor (weights). It combines interval training and lifting and because I’m not a total asshole critic, I decided to break each down into what I liked and didn’t like.
Nothing rhymes with orange pt.1
October 18, 2017.
Words: 433...100 over. I dare you not to read the whole thing , though.
This a peek into my honest look at what led to my cancellation at Orange Theory Factory. Oops did I say that out loud? I meant Orange Theory Fitness.
I first tried OTF in November 2016 during my blog-workout hiatus. Desperate to breathe again in a familiar space, I took a free class and thought it would be something I’d enjoy. The class kicked my ass, and I liked it, but since I was *technically* unemployed, I really couldn’t afford it.
Fast forward to now, and parts of me were still curious as to why I was spending $69 on 4 classes (in addition to ClassPass++) that, here is the kicker…I dreaded attending.
I thought I’d visit OTF when traveling, and complete workouts that I knew I wouldn’t really do by myself while on the road. But then I found the workouts to be just fine…energizing sometimes…but just fine and a little mundane. It literally, as I mentioned in the first sentence, felt like a factory.
The environment in my “home studio” was lackluster. You had regulars with rapport with coaches, which is great, but I’m not around all the time to do this. Members were mostly 80s/90s kids like me (refuse to reference our nickname) and the energy of the studio was borderline “here to impress,” or, “here because I have to be.” And let me tell you what, a lot of the latter was evident when we lined up at the door, no one looked excited to be there.
I can be pretty energetic. Crazy at times, I’m completely self-aware of this, and I accept this. I think the world needs it because we help make it go round. But if I’m running late to another boutique studio, I am freaking out because I’m excited to be there. And I can tell my fellow-classmates are, too.
The energy of any fitness facility, must, come from a combined effort of the class members and the instructors. Now, I did experience positive energy when I visited another studio, further north, as well as one back in my home state of VA, that I found to be more encouraging, and more open, with a better environment. So, for some of my remaining sessions, I drove out of the way, to try to enjoy something I dreaded.
On top of the lack of energy was lack of space. Maybe people didn’t have enough space to keep their energy levels up. The machines were jammed into a small space, like a factory, to accommodate a large group, and it sort of felt sterile.
More to come…
#healthhacks Pt. 2: Good-Better-Best
September 12, 2017
Words: 364...I know, I know
It’s currently 6:35 a.m. and I’m about to board a flight: CLT-PHX-LAS. I haven’t completed a workout, but I’ve at least, showered.
I’m pumped for Vegas as I genuinely enjoy being on-site. With the challenge of something new everyday, interacting with a multitude of different people, it is exciting and I feel #blessed with a job I enjoy.
The next 35ish days will be, however, extra challenging in ways of sleep and food. And I write this post to go eyes wide open. I’ll be on PST for the next 7 days. EST the 5 following. MST for the next 6. And then after 2 weeks home, I’ll be back in Vegas for 5.
I mentioned in my previous #healthhack post that the food-exercise balance thing can be difficult. When the ego of the “who-what-where-when-how” sneaks its way in, I’ve found the best way to navigate the shit-storm is to first, of course, be kind to yourself. Breathe. And interrupt the pattern using the good-better-best scale. Something a doctor mentioned to me years ago.
How can you do the best you can, with what you’ve got?
Good is a baseline. Maybe it’s choosing Gatorade over soda. The better option is unsweet tea over Gatorade. The best option is water.
We can’t always strive to be perfect, but we can strive to be best and choose what serves us…best. I hope you’ll be with me this next month to keep me accountable!
Alas, here is my next set of #healthhacks:
p.s. if you want to try WelleCo, let me know and I can send over a discount code!
The fear we put in comfort zones
August 17, 2017
So this morning, I did a thing. Not like a huge thing, but for me, it kind of was.
I worked out in a sports bra and leggings.
A week ago, I was getting dressed to run and I was challenged with the question of why I wasn’t wearing just a bra and shorts to run. UM, I am going on a run...in public. “Lots of people run in a bra and shorts, you should.” He continued. While blushing, laughing out loud, and rolling my eyes, I could only think about my D chest flaring about on the very-public trail and people looking at me. And then my stomach (!) far from perfectly flat, completely bare. Yeah, no chance.
And then this morning, I was getting dressed for spin…I slipped into high rise Lulus. I threw on a bra. And I got sidetracked brushing my teeth while wearing just the bra and leggings. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and thought, “Damn, I’m kind of feeling myself right now.” The cherry on that sundae is that I accepted monthly bloat that visits once a month. Okay twice sometimes if I eat something bad, or drink too much, but this wasn’t food related.
It was right then, mouth full of toothpaste that I decided to take my spin class, in NYC of all places, with no a shirt on.
And I did.
Now, I did put a shirt on for the walk to class, but as soon as I mounted the bike, it came off.
I felt free. And I think I even worked harder. Sure, I had moments of “Thank goodness it’s dark and these are high rise leggings,” but it wasn’t as uncomfortable as my brain feared it to be.
Sometimes we need to give ourselves credit (and thank those who challenge our thinking), because deep down, I felt it wasn’t just those leggings, I work hard…not just to feel good, but dammit, to try to look good, too.
Dear Charlotte. One Year Later.
July 21, 2017
One year ago, my happy ass drove down to you, alone, and it’s been a ride ever since.
The past 365 days have been filled with experiences that were scary, joyous, exhilarating, fun, and also, exhausting.
It’s incredible to look back and think that this time has really flown and yet I still have to wonder. Why the hell am I here? What am I actually doing here? Is this a stop gap? Is this the permanent location that I had fixated my mind on for years on end?
Now please, do not get me wrong here, I love Charlotte, I really do, but my mind has been expanded tenfold over the course of the year and I'm curious. I never expected this. Perhaps my ability to work from wherever [yes, a true blessing] has made my mind wander. What else can I experience? Where else can I go? What can I learn?
I’ve met some incredible people since I landed in the Queen City last summer. And I know a few will be around for life. I’m forever grateful for the community and the camaraderie that surrounds me daily…even on days I am traveling.
Like, ironically, today, as I find myself back in my home area, in the city I used to work. And I look out into the skyline at something familiar, yet so unfamiliar. Which shows me that I do have a lot of love and pride for the QC. The pace. The town. The people. Are we missing things here and there? Of course. Are we a little behind on the food-times and trends? Uh, yes. Does it sometimes feel very small? There are moments.
But, as to why it actually worked out for me to land in the 704 , I guess will find out, seeing as I just re-signed my lease.
do you believe in magic?
I'm so glad you're here! I'm Alexandra, and I am fearlessly embracing my 30s and believe in being well-rounded. This is my life manifest.
I follow a macro-based flexible gluten-free lifestyle, and have a complicated relationship with dairy. I also love challenging fitness classes, a great glass of tequila or wine, and traveling -- both for work -- and for fun, with my Justin.
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