A Girl and a Meal Plan

First of all, congrats to all the Boston Marathon runners–Meri, Tina,  Sarah, Anna, Katie S. and the loads of people who I am forgetting!  Amazing job out there! Marathons are just so inspiring!

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on the blog, but a few years ago, Frank got me the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan for Christmas. I really like the tips, workouts, recipes and motivation.  Their most recent plan, the Bikini Series Plan, is easily my favorite.  Some of the other ones were just not enough food, but this one is generally realistic and there are many delicious meal ideas.  That said, it requires preparing 5 meals a day, which is just not a reality for me.  Even so, it has inspired me to make more meals at home.  Sadly, some weeks I only make 2-3 meals at home.  Believe me, this is embarrassing to admit on the blog. I’ve been hiding it from you and I can’t live a lie any longer. I often grab something at the deli for breakfast, my employer generally provides lunch or I get a salad at Fresh and Co, and dinner tends to be ordered from seamless or eaten out most nights. My only pathetic defense is that I don’t have a dish washer and I hate spending hours (and it does take me hours) washing and putting away dishes all week-long.

Clearly, there is serious room for improvement.  This weekend I challenged myself to break my ordering trend and spend some time in the kitchen.  With a tone it up inspired plan, I headed to Whole Foods with my shopping list and started filling my basket.

Here’s a look at the haul:

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Lots of produce.  The only things I didn’t get from my list were ground turkey, broccoli, frozen vegetables and almond butter.  The turkey and broccoli selection was dismal; I got distracted by goat cheese on my way to the frozen veggies; and I couldn’t bring myself to pay $9 for almond butter.  The PB is for Pettitte who gets a PB and dog food filled kong every morning when we leave.

I picked up my missing items from Westside Market on Sunday.

So what was on the menu?

Saturday Night: Salmon Stuffed Avocado

Sunday Night: Southwest Turkey Burgers with sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli

Monday Night: Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes

Breakfasts: Fage and berries

Night one was the Grilled Salmon Stuffed Avocado. This was the fanciest looking meal and hands down the easiest to make.  12 minutes people!  I came across on youtube and there is a great video that explains exactly how to make it!

 

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I made a few small substitutions to the simple recipe. I skipped the olive oil for grilling the salmon since three fats is a lot of fats, even if they are all healthy. I also subbed greek yogurt for sour cream since it’s the same thing and I always have greek yogurt on hand.  I also added shredded carrots, since they were already in my fridge.  The recipe suggests using a whole avocado, but I had some guac for a snack and went with just a half

 

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In the end, I actually had some extra filling, so I dumped everything onto a plate and sliced the avocado on top.  If I was serving to guests, I would have definitely left the salad in the avocado cup.

 

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This was amazing. I’ll definitely make it again. So darn easy

Night two was Southwest Turkey Burger Night.  I was looking for a turkey burger recipe and this one from Rachael Ray had great reviews.  Sorry for the less than appetizing photo, I totally forgot to take it until I had eaten half my meal!

 

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The turkey burgers were delicious. I skipped the bun and used guacamole and salsa for toppings instead of the bacon suggested.  I am so into roasted broccoli lately, just a tiny drizzle of evoo and it’s amazing.

Tonight I had Super Loaded Sweet Potatoes. 

Sweet potato, goat cheese, black beans, salsa and mixed vegetables.

 

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I realized that I forgot half a left over turkey burger and some garlic powder because clearly I needed more toppings.

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Honestly, this was divine.  So easy and so good. I couldn’t even finish it!

I’m pretty proud of myself for making three dinners in a row!  As long as I can find recipes that don’t require tons of dishes and allow me to recycle ingredients so I don’t throw tons of things out at the end of the week, I could definitely get back on the made at home bandwagon.

NYC Workouts I Want to Try This Spring

Oh Spring, it’s been an elusive little devil, but hopefully it gets here soon! I’ll pretend that I didn’t see snow flurries during my run this morning!  Personally, I always feel a little more motivated to workout during the warmer months. Here are a few of the workouts that I want to try this spring:

Fhitting Room Flatiron  

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Yes, it is FINALLY opened.  Discounts packages are available on Gilt to boot!

What is it?  It’s a HIIT-style workout using kettle bells, boxes, free weights and a bunch of other crazy equipment to get a kick butt cardio and strength workout.

Cost: $35 a class

Exhale Core Fusion Extreme

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Again, super excited that there is now an Exhale in Flatiron!

What is it? It’s a power hour of weights, suspension training, gliders and “cardio explosions” and core work.   Sounds intense!

Cost: $38 a class.  But also on Gilt a lot!

SLT Flatiron

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SLT has been expanding in the NYC metro area and now has a home in fitness-friendly Flatiron.  I reviewed SLT’s midtown location a few years ago, but I’m excited to give it another try in one of its downtown studios.

What is it? As their website says, if “cardio, strength training and pilates had a baby, it would be SLT.” It’s sort of the east coast’s answer to pilates plus, which is a very trendy west coast workout done on a pilates reformer machine.

Cost: $40 a class (yikes!). First class $20.

Refine Method 50 Minute Format

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Welcome to the West Village, Refine! I love the new space!

What is it? “NYC’s Smartest Workout” is a mix of high intensity intervals and compound movements using all kinds of crazy props from boxes to pulleys to kettle bells. Thrown in the mix are a bunch of killer cardio bursts.  Refine has recently switched from their traditional hour-long class to a 50 minute format.  The idea is that if you are working out at a high intensity, quality trumps quantity and 50 minutes is plenty.

Putting this on the list is short of a cheat because I actually already tried 50 minute class at their new studio. It was as intense as every during the core workout and basically the only difference I noticed was that we didn’t do abs on the floor at the end.  I still got a good workout and knowing that I only had to get through about 40 minutes of real work meant I could really push myself.  #winning

Cost: $34 a class/ first class is buy one, get one free

Mile High Run Club

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What is it? A 45 or 60 minute treadmill workout incorporating strength and  power training. The also offer outdoor runs and race prep.  MHRC says you’ll get in around 3-5 miles depending on which class you take!

Cost: $34 for an indoor class, $30 for an outdoor.

I wrote a similar post a year ago, but I only got to try two of the workouts, City Row and Studio 360, hopefully I do better this time around!

Stitchfix Review

I decided to order myself a stitch fix for my birthday! It’s always fun to get a box of surprises! You can see other posts on my stitch fixes here and here.

What came this month?

A striped dress with tie sash

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I love anything nautical and I like that this can be worn in spring, summer or fall depending on how you style it! Keep.

Blue textured pants

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I’m sorry that this a pretty bad picture of the actual pants and that my sports bra is showing through my shirt, but you get the idea.  The textured pattern and bright blue color are not me at all.  Although I do think I requested fun pants, since I love my black textured jeans so much!  Frank absolutely loved these. I kept thinking he was joking, but he actually wanted me to wear these all over town.  Ultimately, these are way out of my fashion comfort zone!  Returned!

Black pants with gold ankle zippers and green top

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Again, sorry that this is a terrible photo of the pants.  The best detail, the gold ankle zipper is cut off! I actually loved the zippers and they fit well, but I didn’t think the fabric was really that high quality considering that these were $90.  I also didn’t think they were that flattering. I was pretty on the fence, but ultimately, they were returned!

I also asked for nice tops for evenings out.  This was a cool top, but I didn’t find it terribly flattering, so it was also returned.

Peach, space-dyed cardigan

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While I don’t really need anymore cold weather clothes, I really liked the color of this sweater.  It is also good for the very cold spring weather we are experiencing. It’s something that I can where to work or to weekend brunch and I know that I’ll actually get a lot of wear out of, so it’s a keeper.

Both items minus the $20 style fee came out to about $128.

Ultimately, I decided that this would be my last stitch fix.  I took a look at the items in my wardrobe that I wear the most often, and none of them were stitch fix pieces.  I often keep something just so I don’t lose the $20!  I love the idea of my own personal stylist, but I don’t think I even know what I want to articulate my needs half the time.  Plus, I live in NYC, so it’s not like I am hurting for shopping options.

I think the idea is super clever and clearly it’s been a huge hit, but it’s just not for me!

In other news, this guy turned 9 months today!

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He is such a big boy!

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Weekly Workout Wrap Up

Wow, it’s been SO LONG since I’ve done a workout wrap up.

I am “officially” training for the NYRR Brooklyn Half, so I’ve been trying to track my workouts a bit more consistently.

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On a side note, how great is it that there is going to be a Rock N Roll Brooklyn Half this year?

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If you register for the RNR Brooklyn Half, it’s only $55!  The NYRR Brooklyn Half is sold out.

Anyways, on to the workout recap:

Monday: 40 minutes on the elliptical

Tuesday: nada

Wednesday: 3 Tone it Up Workouts (Lift and Tone Booty Routine, Slim and Toned Arms and Bikini Abs). My abs were definitely sore on Friday.

Thursday: 4.5 mile run outside, gorgeous

Friday: I wasn’t feeling great, so skipped my workout.

Saturday: Soul Cycle.  I had a great class with Brett!

Sunday: 50 minute run.

Question: Do you prefer point to point races (like the NYRR BK Half) or do you like loops and out and backs (like the RNR BK Half)?

Week in Austin, Weekend in North Fork

Well, I’m another year older.  The week leading up to my birthday I was in Austin and  I spent the weekend wine tasting in North Fork, so I can’t say getting older is all that bad.

I was in Austin for the SXWSedu conference. It.was.awesome.  I’d never been to Texas, so it was great to check out the capitol city and the conference was so innovative and inspiring. It really raised the bar for all conferences in my future

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During my sessions, I got some great food recommendations.  On our list of things to try were: bbq, tex-mex and breakfast tacos.

First up was BBQ.  We went to Micklethwait.  We thought it was a restaurant, but it was actually a food truck.image5

This plate was filled with the most amazing beans and potato salad, brisket and two deliciously fluffy slices of sour dough.  I don’t go crazy for bbq, but this was awesome.

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My group also got a dessert sampler of one of each pie!  Cheesepie, pecan pie, chocolate moon pie and peanut butter moon pie. My favorite was the chocolate moon pie!

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One of the first of many many reception/parties hosted by SX was at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library. It was the coolest place! I loved the replica of the Oval Office! The University of Texas campus was also stunning.

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There were lots of skinny margaritas!

 

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I wish I had a picture of my tacos, but alas I was so hungry that I forgot to snap a pic!

I saw this at the conference bookstore! Has anyone read it?  It looks interesting.

 

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My top 3 recommendations for Austin are:

After four days in Austin, I unpacked, repacked and we headed to North Fork.

We once again stayed at the Fig and Olive.  They are so nice.  This time there was another couple, so we exchanged winery notes over breakfast each morning.

We hit up a bunch of wineries, my favorites of this trip being Bedell, Osprey’s Dominion and Lenz.

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The first night we ate at the Frisky Oyster.

The second night we went to Jedidiah Hawkins. We started with a drink in a speakeasy downstairs.

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For some reason, my main course photo was deleted by wordpress, so we’ll skip to dessert.  It was a vanilla lemon parfait.  Custardy, curdy, light and refreshing.

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Our final day of tasting we hit up four wineries and the fabulous new outpost of the Greenport Harbor Brewery.  It was a great day, rain and all.

We saw these geese marking down the fields, it was there kind of weather.

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We left pretty early on Sunday morning, but not before yet another fabulous breakfast made by Lisa!

It began with coconut chocolate chip bread (unpictured) and was followed by roasted pears with walnuts, cinnamon and vanilla yogurt.

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The main course was grilled cheese stuffed with peppers, onions and bacon and finished with a fried egg on top.  Pure food heaven.

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We caught the Jitney back to Manhattan to have a late lunch with my parents at the new(ish) Park Avenue Winter.

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Workout Playlist (Barry’s Tribute Edition)

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Is there anything better than a workout class with great music?  Personally, I don’t think so.

I often wish I had access to the instructor amazing collection of remixes.  Does anyone know where to access this?  Throughout my month at Barry’s, the music was consistently amazing.   Thank you Niv! Below are some of my favorite tunes from the month. A  lot of the songs have a club feel, which reminds me of being in Ibiza. 

Lately I’ve been struggling to find new music beyond what’s on the top 40 list, so I’m super excited about this playlist. I hope you enjoy it too!

Barry’s Tribute Workout Playlist

FourFive Seconds-Rihanna, Kayne, Paul McCartney

Heroes–Alesso

Love Me Like  You Do-Ellie Goulding  (here’s a remix version)

Blame–Calvin Harris

Uptown Funk-Mark Ronson

I Need Your Love-Ellie Goulding and Calvin Harris

Prayer in C–Robin Schulz and Lily Wood

Rather Be –Clean Bandit

Clique- Kanye and Jay-Z

GDFR–Flo Rider (remix version) <–This was one of my favs! I love sprinting to it!

Outside–Ellie Goulding and Calvin Harris

Hanging Tree-James Newton Howard Featuring Jennifer Lawerence (Rebel Remix)

 

Barry’s Academy Week 2 and 3 Recap

I can’t believe I only have 3 classes left in the Barry’s Bootcamp Academy!  In case you missed it, I signed up for the February academy, which entails taking a Barry’s Bootcamp class every weekday of the month at the same time each day. Here’s the week 1 recap.

Week 2 was actually pretty great. I felt strong and I could really push myself on the sprints.  I really liked Niv, who has taught almost all of my classes so far. He has an impressive arsenal of techno remixes.  I liked feeling absolutely spent at the end of each segment.  There were a couple downsides, 1.) getting up in the morning didn’t get any easier and #2 is that I haven’t seen any real results.

Week 3.  This was a tough week. My body was just tired.  Even jogging hurt and by the end of each running segment. I also developed  a shooting pain in my foot.  I kind of felt like I was falling apart, but at least the classes had a lot of variety.  I was able to recover from the nagging pain in my foot with a combination of compression and icing.   It was still hard to get up and walk through -2 degree weather each morning, but we did it. Probably what I like best about Barry’s besides the intensity of the workouts, is that each class is different, which kept me motivated.

Frank also recreated a Barry’s shake at home and has been making it each morning.  Here’s his recipe for an adapted orange creamsicle shake:

  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. honey or agave
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 cup ice

blend /vitamix all ingredients for 1 HUGE shake.

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I’ll see ya in a few for the final recap!

 

Garmin Vivofit Review

For the past two weeks, I’ve been trying out the Garmin Vivofit!

If you are not familiar with the Vivofit, it is a fitness wristband that tracks your daily steps, and so much more.

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When Verizon asked me to review the Vivofit, I didn’t know too much about it. For disclosure purposes, they let me borrow it for two weeks in exchange for a review on the blog.  I assure you that opinions are 100% my own.

Upon opening the Garmin Vivo, I was surprised that the instruction manual was just a few lines.  It came already in the strap, so I just had to put it on my wrist, easy peasy.  From there, I downloaded the garmin express, which allows me to sync the watch and see updates at my Connect Dashboard.  This took maybe 3 minutes and set up was done.

Still confused by the simplicity of the set up, I looked for information on how to charge the Vivo.  I actually had to google “charging the Vivofit” before I realized that YOU DON”T HAVE TO CHARGE IT!  This was pretty much the best news I could have received.  The battery lasts for a year.  The main reason I stopped using my fitbit after less than a month was because I hated having to charge it all the time.

I’ve now worn it for 11 days, and I am really enjoying using it.

Here are my favorite things about the Garmin Vivofit:

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  • I don’t have to charge it!
  • It is also a watch! This is awesome
  • It seems very accurate. I typically have my hands in my pockets and it still picks up steps, so it seems to be more than just arm swings. I also don’t think that is inflating the number of steps at all.
  • It’s very easy to sync to my connect dashboard
  • It was also easy to sync it with my fitness pal for tracking food and water.
  • THE SCREEN. I love being able to see time, steps, distance, calories burned and steps away from goal, right from my wrist and not having to have my phone syncing all the time.
  • It is totally safe to use in water, even for swimming.
  • It’s compatible with heart rate monitors and other garmin products.
  • It tells you when you haven’t moved for an hour and signals you to get in motion.

Here’s What I haven’t tried using yet

  • I haven’t used the phone app
  • I haven’t used the sleep mode
  • I haven’t checked out the groups or challenges
  • Probably a lot of other things I don’t even know about

Here’s What Could Be Improved:

  • The design is a little bulky, I could not wear this to a fancy dinner or an important business meeting. I am using the larger band, since I was too lazy to switch to the smaller band when it arrived already assembled.  Either way, it’s not particularly pretty.
  • The screen isn’t backlit. (It is on the newer model)

While being able to see everything on your wrist is awesome, I also like to check in with my dashboard to track my diet, water intake and to compare my steps from day-to-day.

Here is what the Connect Dashboard looks like:

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Here is a look at my steps for the week, I forgot to put it on one day.  I typically get in about 8,000 by the time I get home from Barry’s, so I am much less active on days I don’t work out. My steps have ranged from 7,000 to 21,000, which is quite the range. I’m trying to hit 10,000 steps minimum on days I don’t work out, which is pretty easy in NYC as long as it is above 10 degrees.

 

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You can sign up for challenges and they give you badges for hitting step milestones.  You can also use it to track your sleep.

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The dashboard is very easy to use, you can see the list of options above.

 

 

 

 

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I like that you can put in your running records–great feature.

 

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I’ve been trying to use my fitness pal for calories a bit more and it is very easy to sync the data to the connect dashboard. It’s definitely been a reality check to see that I typically only burn 1500 calories a day even with Barry’s! By the way, I NEVER eat less than 1800 calories a day, so I should definitely adjust myfitnesspal goal to reflect a more accurate number.  I don’t think I’ve eaten only 1200 calories in the last 10 years.

I’ve really loved the Vivofit during my little trial. I’m sad to send it back, but I’ll likely be buying my own soon.

The VivoFit Fitness Band retails for $99.  The VivoFit 2 Activity Tracker (which I didn’t try) retails for $129 and allows you to time and track activity with or without a heart rate monitor and it has a backlit screen.

I definitely preferred the Garmin Vivofit to the Fitbit, as it is much more functional and user-friendly.

If you use one, what’s your favorite fitness tracker?

Valentine’s Day Weekend

I hope everyone had a lovely long weekend! Despite the frigid temperatures, we had a fabulous weekend.

It all kicked off on Friday with a girls only  fondue night!

We had chocolate and cheese fondue and plenty of dipping options.

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On Valentine’s Day, Frank and I had a full day planned.

We  relaxed in the morning and watched some of our favorite food network shows.  Then I got a manicure before we met up to head to Dos Caminos for an amazing cooking class. I had gotten an email about a Valentine’s Day cooking class that included breakfast, unlimited cocktails, a cooking class with Ivy Stark, a four course lunch and a copy of the Dos Caminos Tacos cookbook. It was all for less than the cost of dinner for two,  so I signed Frank and I up.

We nibbled on some breakfast and had some delicious coffee before we were seated for the class.  Ivy Stark is the executive chef for all Dos Caminos and she was funny, talented and very witty.  She recently was featured in Well and Good, as she is on a mission to show people that mexican food can be healthy.

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From the second we sat down, the drinks were flowing, margaritas, sangria, tequila shots, it didn’t stop!  Frank and I did our best to pace ourselves, but the one thing that was totally worth it was the Mexican hot chocolate with chocolate tequila and passion fruit marshmallows.

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It was just insane.

We learned how to make blue cheese and fig  cheese empanadas, spiced rubbed filet minion with arbol chile sauce, chocolate mousse and mojito de limon tea.  Chef Ivy and Chef David were a great pair and answered all kinds of cooking questions.

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Then it was time for a four course lunch!

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We actually left before dessert was served  because we had a big dinner planned for the evening.

Can you guess where we went for Valentine’s Day?

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Dinner, dancing, old school New York?

If you guessed the Rainbow Room, you are right!  It recently reopened and it was a really fun way to have a very classic New York Valentine’s Day.  The live band was great and there were some amazing dancers on the floor.

The dinner menu was a nod to Rainbow Room classics with a modern twist.

We had a wide assortment of canapés and breads to start, that I forgot to photograph.

I asked for an alternative to the appetizer options and they suggested an endive salad, which was nice and light.

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Frank got the  amish chicken salad, which wasn’t what we expected, but was interesting.

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The seafood course was a delicious and perfectly prepared scallop.  I never order scallops because they are usually overcooked, but these were perfection.

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For my entree, I had the dover sole with crab tortellini.  Again, nice and light.

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To finish, we shared the baked alaska, which I had never had–so retro. It was our favorite course of the night.  Do you see the igloo?

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We had a great night.

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They gave us (well, me) a rose and some chocolates and a few petite fours to finish of the evening.

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It was a perfect day from start to finish.

On Sunday, we hung out with our furry Valentine.  Petty’s rigorous workout schedule included some yoga.

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He also enjoyed some time cuddled up on the couch.

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On Sunday, we had brunch with friends at Norma’s, which happens to be participating in restaurant week!

A weekend filled with my favorite people and my favorite puppy, I couldn’t ask for anything more!

 

Barry’s Bootcamp Academy Week 1 Recap

I can’t believe I’m already looking back at my first week of Barry’s Bootcamp Academy.  5/20 classes in February are done!

If I had to sum up my thoughts on the week in one sentence it would be: it could have been worse.

Prior to starting week 1 I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle 2, let alone 5, back to back Barry’s Bootcamp classes in a row. I’d never taken more than 2 classes a week and I’d never taken 2 classes on consecutive days.  I thought I’d be wrecked by the third day. My main and worst fear was that I’d be injured the first week and have to throw away the rest of the month and a ton of money.

Fortunately, none of that happened.  I made it through all five classes with the expected and appropriate amount of soreness.  A bit of icing was all I really needed to keep  myself together week 1.

The nice thing about Barry’s is that each day of the work week focuses on different muscle groups. Monday is abs and arms.  Tuesday is legs and glutes. Wednesday is arms, abs and chest.  Thursday is hard core abs and Friday is full body.

Even though only two days are officially arms days, there is still way more arm work than I would ever do on my own and sometimes it seems like everyday is arms day, you get through it. I will say that I can rarely do even the lightest of the recommended weight range and I often have to drop down further. When I try to take the weights they recommend, I typically can only do 30% of the workout.  I’m one part wimp and they are one part insane!

Goals for Week 1:

  • Don’t drink alcohol Mon-Thurs.: Fail. I had a glass of wine at the cocktail hour on Tuesday.
  • Finish Week 1: check

I was starving pretty much the whole week, so I ended up gaining weight. I’m hoping at least a bit of that is muscle–see notes about heavy weights above.

Goals for Week 2:

  • Don’t Drink Alcohol Mon-Thurs.
  • Finish Week 2
  • Less snacking in general, but definitely less snacking on crap.
  • Make more dinners at home
  • Increase sprints by .5 MPH

Just one overall observation was that I had 4 different instructors week 1, which was great. I loved the music in each and every class.  It basically made it all worth it.