I’ve got Soul but I’m not a Soldier

Oh man, doesn’t that title take you back to 2004? Memories…

ANYWAY! I’m not here to discuss The Killers. I’m here to talk SoulCycle. I was recently invited to a blogger event at SoulCycle by my incredibly talented and beautiful friend Erin (BTW if you want amazing DIY ideas, top-notch fashion tips and delicious recipes, you should be following her here: Currently Coveting). I’ve previously not been a huge fan of spin classes. I love riding my bike, but I’ve struggled to enjoy class.

But this time, class was a blast! Abby, our fearless instructor, had a killer playlist. It was a 45-minute dance party that left my body feeling detoxed and my legs on fire!

If you haven’t been to SoulCycle yet, read a bit more about what makes them different from your average spin studio. Here’s what I enjoyed most:

  • Jams: I LOVE music. All kinds. Country, pop, rap, alternative rock. You name it. I love it. This class featured some of my pop faves: Beyoncé, Bieber, Gaga.
  • Dark + Hot: The studio is dark, lit only by candles which gives my competitive side a chance to relax and focus on myself, as opposed to all the riders around me. It’s also pretty warm in there and only get’s steamier as the class goes on. Mmmmm sweat it out!
  • DBs: I have scrawny little arms. So bringing dumbbells and a short arm session to the end of class is amazing. I didn’t just rock my legs and core, I felt that burn in my arms as well.

So if you haven’t yet, find a SoulCycle near you and give it a spin!

PS – I’ve been doing brand ambassador work for a line of compression apparel called Second Skin (more to come on the gear at another time). The tights were PERFECT for the sweaty sweaty class.

loveB

Advertisements

First Step is Admission: I’m a Grazer

Anybody who knows me knows that I am not always the most healthy eater, and much like a cow, I am a grazer. I am on a lifelong mission to give my body the fuel it needs, while maintaining my snacking ways, without denying myself delicious foods (sadly, I did not inherit my mom’s ability to enjoy raw veggies as much as tortilla chips). The struggle is real, kiddos.

But I have great news! Summertime is the best time for finding healthier snacking alternatives. Here are a few of my favorites:

1229903_10101794142535873_1323238134_n.jpgFrozen grapes –
They’re like delicious little popsicles. Buy grapes (I prefer red, seedless), wash grapes, freeze grapes, enjoy grapes. While sometimes a little pricey, and not a great source of protein, grapes prove to be a great source for vitamin K, vitamin C and potassium. So they’re working hard for your bones, heart, muscles and immune system.

Veggies and dip –
Not all dips are totally bad, and if they’re the vehicle to getting veggies in your body, then don’t totally count them out. Everything in moderation, right? My favorite dipping utensils are: carrots, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. Tip: buy fresh, whole veggies and clean/cut them yourself. They’re both healthier and MUCH cheaper.

My fave dips include:

  • Tzatziki – This heavenly white dip is made with a Greek yogurt base, shredded cucumbers, fresh dill, salt and garlic. The brand that I eat (Cava) has just 35 calories in 2 TBSP. It’s a much healthier alternative to ranch.
  • Hummus – Hummus is made from mashed garbanzo beans, ground sesame seeds, olive oil, garlic and spices. This dip is a significant source of fiber, which supports heart health and weight management. It’s also a great source of protein. Tip: Some people are getting real into the soy bean version of hummus… but beware of soy beans as they, like corn, are rarely non-GMO.
  • Fresh salsa – Homemade or fresh salsa is both delicious and an excellent source of vitamin C. Most contain about 10 calories in 2 TBSP, and boast 0g of fat.

Air popped popcorn –
This stuff’s the shit. You save money, you save your body from weird chemicals and you reserve the right to season it as you please. I season mine with pink Himalayan sea salt and a little bit of butter. But for reference, let me just quickly list the ingredients in a standard “Butter” flavor of microwave popcorn:giphy-downsized

  • whole grain popcorn, palm oil, salt, natural and artificial flavors [milk], color added, TBHQ (which is a preservative). Ew.

Great, so scratch out the fake crap and you’ve got what I make at home for WAY cheaper. My ingredients are: organic whole grain popcorn, sea salt, butter. Tip: Americans have an unhealthy fear of butter. Real butter, in moderation, is not bad for you. It’s certainly better for you than whatever the “natural and artificial” flavors are they’re putting in your microwave bag.

Let’s be honest, I’m not cutting out the occasional Twix bar and don’t you dare ask me to give up pretzels, but it’s good to look for some healthy snacking alternatives. Want to determine if something is “healthy?” Here’s a checklist that can help you decide:

  • Is it whole?
  • Is it fresh?
  • Can you read the ingredients and do you know what each of them is?
  • What type of fats are in it? Don’t hate on all fats, but try to stay away from saturated fats and run for your life if something has trans fat.

loveB

 

 

Checking In

Oh hey there. I’ve been missing you all. I took a short break from blogging, not intentionally but because life has been busy in all the right ways recently. But I am back, and figured that a good place to start would be to check in on how I am doing with my 2017 Goals. We’re one quarter of the way through the year. Here’s my progress and the completely ambiguous score that I’ve given myself.

The Ones Who Matter

  • Current Status: In just three months, I have already made some amazing memories. I also had my first Galentine’s Day trip with two of the most beautiful souls I know.
  • What I’m Looking Forward To: A few friends are getting married this year and I hope to be able to celebrate with them! I’ve also got a killer 4th of July road trip planned.
  • Score: 7. I can do better, particularly with the long-distance friends.

My Best Friend is a Pit Bull

  • Current Status: I remain painfully aware that Annie won’t live forever, and it’s almost debilitating. I’m super fortunate to have people in my life who understand how important Annie is and include her whenever possible. We have spent very few nights apart this year, aside from some travel. And my saint of a mom came up from South Carolina to dog-sit while I was in Ghana!
  • What I’m Looking Forward To: Annie is coming on the epic 4th of July road trip. I am also excited to continue a fun tradition that we started last summer. We skateboard to a nearby park where I work out. Then we skateboard home. It’s a great way for us to both get exercise and spend quality time together.
  • Score: 8. I still think I could do more. I specifically should hire a dog walker, as my work days are long.

Selfie

  • Current Status: Feeling good. In a steady workout routine, eating pretty well at home. But most importantly, I am not letting the stress of life hold me back from doing adventurous and exciting things. Like my recent, spontaneous, trip to Ghana. I’m surrounding myself with beautiful people who raise me up and bring out the best in me.
  • What I’m Looking Forward To: Continuing this trajectory of happiness, knowing good and well that I will encounter a few potholes, but feeling confident that I’m armed with everything I need to get past them.
  • Score: 9. Nobody should ever get a 10 when it comes to self-improvement.

I am still becoming who I’ll be. And if you ask me in a year, I’ll tell you the same thing. If you ask me when I am 100, I’ll repeat myself once again.

loveB

 

 

 

I’m Just Waiting on a Wild Sun

Actually, that’s a lyric from one of my favorite bands, but I am just waiting on any ol’ sun. For anybody who is not lucky enough to live in a place as wonderful as Colorado (I’m obsessed, can you tell), you know the woes of those dreary wintry months. You know what it’s like to leave for work in the dark, return home from work in the dark, and have nothing but overcast weekends.

READ: 2017 Goals

We’re getting into those dark and gloomy winter months here in DC, and each year I dread it more than the last. Since moving back from Colorado, where they have 300 days of sunshine a year + ample vitamin D, I’ve developed seasonal depression. It kinda snuck up on me, at first!

My Warning Signs: (First, as always, let me preface this by saying that I am not a licensed medical professional. But seasonal depression can typically be self-diagnosed)

  • Sleepin’ In – The first thing I noticed was extreme difficulty getting up in the morning, even with ample hours of sleep. As somebody who is typically a morning person, this was very strange.
  • Fatigue – I also found that by 7 p.m., when I got home from work, I felt ready for bed. I had no appetite. But the fatigue wasn’t just evening sleepiness, I felt weak at the gym and had to dig deeper for the motivation to drag myself out on a run.
  • Netflix + Isolate – In those dark months, the introvert in me took the reigns. Making plans felt both exhausting and overwhelming. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see friends or be social, but I wasn’t up for making any effort.
  • The Bear – An ex boyfriend once pointed out to me that (and writing it here makes it sound so much worse than how he meant it) I’m like a bear in the winter. I put on just a bit of weight and I am much more anxious and moody.

I’d say the bear comes out as a result of all of the other factors. My schedule is uprooted, I don’t feel good, I feel isolated, I’m tired and life seems to be just about work and sleep. Boring! So it is no surprise that I realized I was suffering from seasonal depression. For others, some of the warning signs may be different, even more severe in some cases. But there is hope!

What Worked For Me:

  • Work Hard, Feel Good – It may be harder to motivate, and you may need to decrease mileage and weight, but keep pushing yourself to get out there and workout. Or perhaps give yoga a try. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which trigger positive feelings. It will also help you keep a routine.
  • Now Talk it Out – Even if you feel the need to isolate, don’t push people away. It has helped me so much to be able to talk to friends and know that most of them suffer from seasonal depression as well. Sometimes my girlfriends and I will turn to the same channel, drink wine from the comfort of our own home and text back and forth. Depending on how severe your symptoms are, you may also want to participate in some kind of talk therapy. This can help steer your negative thoughts back toward the light.
  • Soak Up The Sun – When the sun does peek through, try to meet it halfway. Take a five-minute break during the workday to go outside and soak up some vitamin D. Sun in the weekend forecast? Plan an outdoor activity like hiking or running, even if it’s cold.
  • Back to the Basics – As is the case with basically every ailment in life, healthy eating habits and plenty of water will never do anything but make you feel better. Many people experience a decreased appetite and feel less thirsty during the colder months, but keep doing what you do all year.

Good news, folks! Less than three months until spring. Until then, feed and exercise that bear!
loveB

 

 

Twenty Seventeen

There is something so lovely about New Years. It’s that idea that we get a refresh button every 365 days. But how do you use it?

The Trouble with the “R” Word:

For those of you who know me, or who’ve been following along on my blog since last year, you know that I NEVER make “resolutions.” I realize it’s all in my head, but there is something about a resolution that feels daunting and almost as if it’s meant to expire. I am not sure I’ve ever met somebody who has stuck with theirs for an entire year.

Gooooooaaaaalllllllssss:

Instead of resolutions, I make goals. They aren’t goals for the year, they’re personal habits that I intend to work towards for the rest of my life. Much more broad than a resolution, and  his year’s goals are very focused on relationships.

READ: What I accomplished in 2016

The Ones That Matter:

I found out the hard way in 2016 just how much we need our friends and family. You may be the strongest, most brave warrior of them all, but trust me, you too can fall down. I intend to work much harder at staying in touch with friends + fam who live far away. And for those friends in the DC area, let’s hang out more. Love you all!

My Best Friend is a Pit Bull:

Almost 11 years ago, I adopted a pit bull pup. She has been through many breakups and cross-country moves with me. She is JUST beginning to slow down a bit, and I’m extremely aware that despite my begging, she won’t live forever. I have regrets about times when I could have taken her on a hike, but chose to sleep in. Or when she sat and wagged her tail, but instead of playing, I scrolled through my Instagram feed. When I adopted her, I promised she would be my number one, and I need to work harder at being a dog mom.

Selfie:

Relationships with those around you are only as healthy as the relationship you have with yourself. I am in sole control over my happiness, my sadness and my health. So while I work on my friendships, I will also place focus on bettering myself each and every day.

I’m ready for you, 2017. Let’s kick ass.

loveB

 

 

 

#HikeVA

Hey D.C.-area friends! Who has some free time this week + needs to burn off some Christmas cookies? Me! Me! Me! Here’s a quick guide to some of my favorite hikes around the District.

Not Much Time?:

  • Theodore Roosevelt Island – It’s not so much of a hike as it is a great trail run (or walk). It’s about a 1.3 mile loop and has a lot of shade for those hot summer months. The parking lot for the island is located off of George Washington Parkway, but you can run there via the Mount Vernon Trail or the Potomac Heritage Trail.
  • Turkey Run – Also located off of GW Parkway, this secret spot is never crowded and is just about a 5-minute drive from D.C.. There are multiple routes, including about a 4 mile loop that I love. Most of the trail runs parallel to the Potomac, so it’s a great place to bring your four-legged friend for a quick swim.

Don’t Mind Crowds?

  • Scott’s Run – This is probably my favorite hike in the immediate D.C. area, although it’s generally crowded on weekends. There are multiple trails, so you can make your hike anywhere from 3 miles to 6 or 7 miles. It has steep grades to work those glutes and also has a few picturesque views of the Potomac.
  • Seneca Falls – I don’t even know if this is the name of this hike. It’s located out in Great Falls just a few miles off of Rt. 7. It isn’t always crowded, but you sometimes get horse traffic out that way. The trail is wide, and includes wooded areas and more open fields, as well as long stretches along the river. If you do the loop, it’s just about 3 miles.
  • Difficult Run – This one is very short, and mostly flat. It’s about a mile out and a mile back. But it runs along Difficult Run, which is a pretty beautiful area with a few small falls. There are places to stop for a quick dip during those hot summer months. (Side note: Back in high school, we used to go rock jumping here. Apparently we had a death wish.)

Want to Get Outta Town?

  • White Oak Canyon – I’ve only been here once, but it was awesome. The trail is fairly steep, so it feels like a great workout. Toward the top is an incredible natural rock slide. WARNING: The water is FREEEEEEEZING.
  • Old Rag – Surely I am not the first to tell you about this one. I’m admittedly a bit of a hiking snob because I’ve been lucky enough to live most of my life in Colorado where hiking can sometimes mean mountain climbing. Old Rag is the most like a Colorado hike. It has a nearly 3,000 foot vertical climb and features a rock scramble at the top. The views are to die for and it’s well worth the 2-hour drive from D.C.. WARNING: No dogs allowed on Old Rag. The terrain is too tough.
  • Falling Springs Falls – This one is not a true hike, but has a lot of wooded trails for exploring AND two fun rope swings! Falling Springs Falls is home to the tallest waterfall in Virginia. There are campsites nearby as well! TIP: Stand under the waterfall for a VERY loud and incredible natural massage.

What are some of your favorite hikes?

loveB

2016 Grand Finale

I started 2016 with three main objectives for bettering myself (I will not use the “r” word), and before I talk about 2017, let’s check in on how I did this past year. Although I would like to start a dumpster fire with much of 2016, there are definitely reasons to feel accomplishment and pride. Let’s have a look.giphy (10).gif

  • My Health: I still ate too much sugar and about 300 too many bagels, however I prepared healthy, home-cooked meals for dinner more nights than I ate out. Let’s call this a win.
  • My Mind: Nothing is without setback, but I am pleased to announce that I have recently accepted a new role at my company that I am absolutely thrilled about. My work life was great in 2016, and I was lucky enough to be a part of some epic activations. I dealt with some pretty big emotional hurdles in my personal life, but I feel stronger because of them. Another win.
  • My Body: My body and I worked together to accomplish some awesome things this year. I PR-ed in two 10 mile races, and for the most part felt great all year. In the past couple of months, I’ve noticed some new old lady aches and pains, but I’m taking them in stride! It’s a draw.

I can’t say that I’m sorry to see it go, but I can say that I am excited for 2017 and the endless possibilities it holds!
loveB