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BurnThis Challenge: FitnessRuns+Core Fusion

Yesterday, I had the chance to attend a truly awesome fitness event.  The BurnThis Westside Cross Training Challenge!

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BurnThis is an app that lets you book fitness classes through your phone. It’s currently available for 12 cities.

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It has a few features that are really cool.  It is connected with mind body, which is the system almost all studios use for online reservations, but now you can book with one password for all studios.  This is a huge plus because I always find it annoying when I have to log out of one account in order to book another class at another studio.  I think this will make it much easier to book all your classes for the week at one time.   Also, it automatically pulls in your existing credits and packages.

Beyond this app, BurnThis occasionally offers fitness mashups that allow you to try two different workouts!  My “challenge” featured a 40 minute run workout and a 40 minute core fusion class at Exhale Meatpacking.

We kicked things off with mini blueprint juices, water and kind bars and then got right into the run.

FitnessRuns coaches led the run, which was awesome!

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We ran about 1 mile at a moderate pace, speeding up at the end. Then we found a big open space on the west side highway to do running drills, sprints and strength moves.  It was a great conditioning workout for runners–it reminded me of some of the workouts I did with team in training.  It was pretty tough, the typical drill might be sprints followed by burpees followed by recovery.  By then end of the 40ish minutes, I was tired!  I highly recommend FitnessRuns, it was a great full body workout geared toward runners.  They have a variety of workouts ranging from 30 to 60 minutes–and a few even include yoga! The coaches were very attentive to  form and really friendly. If your interested in checking it out, your first class is free and you can get 25% off your first package with the code FITNESSRUNS.

After quite a few drills, we jogged back to Exhale in the meat packing Gansevoort and after a few minutes rest, we started a Core Fusion class. It was an express class and the 40 minutes literally flew by.  That said, I definitely experienced the signature barre class leg shaking!

In addition to the double workout, the challenge included  giveaways from lululemon, exhale and fitness runs, pretty awesome.

I’ll definitely be attending these challenges in the future. It was a lot of fun,  a great workout and pushed me to my limits.

Disclaimer: The workout was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

 

Training Again

It’s been so long since I’ve actually trained for a race that it almost feels like I am starting from scratch…except I kind of know what I’m really in for!

The Brooklyn Half is coming up on May 17th.  I have only run this race once– in 2009! It seems like so long ago.   Tomorrow I have 7 miles on the schedule–rain or shine!  If I add a mile a week until May 17th, I’ll have a solid 11 miles under my belt before the race.  I’m planning to do at least one easy or tempo run a week and one night of speed work a week as well.

Adding to that, I also have this little race to prepare for:

Congratulations, Melissa! You’re in.
Welcome to the Class of 2014, TCS New York City Marathoner!

You’ll be on a runner’s journey through the five boroughs of New York City. The TCS New York City Marathon is the ultimate celebration of what makes each borough unique, inspiring, and an amazing place to get out and get moving!

Kick off your marathon season—there’s a lot you can do to get started now

Man! The pressure is on!

Just for kicks, I’m also considering doing my first tri.  The Escape to Miami looks like fun and I have some friends doing. Plus, any excuse to go to Miami.  Joe’s Stone Crab how I love thee.  The question is Sprint or Olympic?  I think I could do the sprint no problem.  However, it’s tempting to push myself a little bit more and try the olympic length.  That said, I’m not sure where I would swim. I also don’t know if I want any to have to worry about really training for anything other than the marathon.  I have to decide soon, so I’ll let you know what happens!

 

Fitbit Flex: First Thoughts

On Monday, my birthday present to myself arrived, it was a Fitbit Flex.

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Initial reaction–I love it!  I haven’t been using it long enough to do a full review, but so far, it’s been great.

Here’s what I like about it:

It motivates me to move: I love tracking my steps and just knowing I’m wearing my fitbit makes the decision to take the stairs or walk to a restaurant instead of ordering from seamless easy.  The frigid weather has definitely hampered my walking a bit, so I’ll take any motivation I can get.   I was actually surprised to see how much I walk now.  I’m averaging about 14,000 steps a day with several days over 20,000 not including other workouts. I was dog sitting last week, so we’ll see if my activity level decreases this week. Oh, and I love that they make a big deal with buzzing, text messages and little emoticons whenever you hit your goals!

It tracks everything in one place: I’ve tried a few calorie counting tools before and never stuck with them past breakfast.  However, because I check my fitbit dashboard regularly to see steps, I’ve had no trouble remembering to also track my calories. I can also track water consumed, weight, sleep and activity very easily.

It’s easy to wear: While the band isn’t gorgeous, it doesn’t really bother me at all. I’ve been taking it off to sleep and shower, but that’s about it.

It can be personalized: You have a lot of options based on your overall health goals. For example, when I set my weight goal,  I could pick from 4 different program levels to reach my goal.  I went with the medium level of intensity, which helps me create a 500 a day calorie deficit through diet and exercise, approximately 1 pound of weight loss per week.  It automatically accounts for my activity and adjusts my daily calorie allowance throughout the day.  As someone who hasn’t counted calories in ten years, it’s definitely a bit strange to track my food intake so closely, but I’m enjoying it for now.   You can also personalize your goals for daily steps, water, etc.

Here’s my dashboard from yesterday.

You can see the 5 mile run I went on at 10AM is my highest activity level of the day.  Also, I definitely need to step up my water intake. On this particular day, it said my calories were low, but my average for the week was around 2,000 calories a day, so it all balances out.

Here’s What I’m Still Figuring Out:

If I’ll still be wearing it in 3 months. I’m not sure if I’ll be as jazzed about Fitbit down the road or if it’s just a novelty.

How often to charge it! It says the battery lasts for 5 days, but I had to charge my Fitbit after 4. I think the charging might getting a little annoying, but maybe I’m just really lazy.

How accurate it is: I have a hard time believing that I actually burned 2342 calories in one day. I’m only 5 feet tall, so typically when I figure out my resting metabolic rate plus activity level, it’s closer to 17,000. For now, I’ll take it. :)

What the “premium” tool is all about: I fine using their basic program for now. It’s actually fairly robust, but I’m curious to see what the premium software offers.  Has anyone tried it?

How much does the Fitbit Flex cost? Approximately $99. Mine was slightly cheaper on Amazon, but now seems to be the same cost as other retailers.  The computer software and app are free unless you upgrade to premium.

Weekend in North Fork: Fig and Olive B&B

My  birthday weekend in North Fork was wonderful. It really is the perfect escape from the city.  It’s quaint, relaxed and charming, it kind of reminds me of cape cod.

We stayed at the Fig and Olive Bed and Breakfast, which was idyllic. I can’t think of one thing they could have done to improve our experience. It was so personalized and perfect. Before we even arrived, the asked if they could help make us reservations, but of course, I was already on top of that!

The B and B was within walking distance to 6 vineyards, so we decided to see if we could get away without renting a car and just hopped on the Jitney.

We arrived at the B and B to a warm greeting!

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Fig and Olive was absolutely beautifully decorated–it looked right out of a magazine. In fact, our room, the Driscoll room, was featured in W Magazine!

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There are only 3 rooms total, and we were the only ones in that weekend, so I was able to take a peek at the room across the hall.

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Our room had a great coffee station and a mini fridge that was packed with complimentary beverages. Lisa had even left a cheese plate ready for arrival!

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There were several sitting ares for guests and lots of books and magazines to peruse.

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After we had a moment to settle in, we took advantage of nearby vineyard that was open until 7PM and had a nice little tasting!  More on wine tasting in my next post.

We ended up switching our dinner reservation and went to the nearby North Fork Table for dinner, which was highly recommended by pretty much everyone. It has a 3-Course pre-fixe with many options to select from.

The  restaurant itself was quite simple in decor. It had a colonial history charm.  The food, on the other hand, was very modern and beautifully presented.  Oh, and there was a lot of it!

We started out with an amuse bouche of lobster salad.  Divine.

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I had the tuna tartare to start

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Frank had a very refreshing fluke and grapefruit dish

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For my entree, I had an incredible kale and ricotta cavatelli.  I have no words for how good this was.  The mix of textures and flavors made it my favorite dish of the night.

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I wish I could say the same for the monk fish….

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Then we had about 25 dessert courses, starting with a coffee, toffee ice cream sandwich.

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Followed by some cheese, but Frank hates cheese, so cancel that…

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Cinnamon sugar donuts, now that’s better…

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And por fin, a s’more/mallomar hybrid. Delish.

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Whew!  We went home and I sunk my teeth into some James Patterson. The Beach was a truly terrible novel, but fortunately the other book I read that weekend made up for it!

The next morning, Frank and I did a short run around the area.  When we returned our hosts  prepared and served us a truly lovely breakfast in their charming dining room.

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We started with a delicious berry parfait

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Then warm zucchini bread was served–mmmmm

IMG_7627A fabulous crustless quiche with asparagus was up next

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served with a side of five spice bacon

 

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Along with our breakfast, we enjoyed reading the NYTimes with leisure.  It was definitely the perfect start to a full day of wine tasting!

Fig and Olive turned out to be a great find.  We read about in NYMag and booked it without looking into many other options. I have to say, it was one of the best impulse decisions I’ve ever made!

Escape to Northfork

Yay for a long weekend.  What’s the occasion?  Just a little celebration of getting a year older.  While I don’t know how I feel about that, I do know that I am thrilled to have tomorrow off!

My standard b-day routine includes treating myself to a workout class, typically Physique 57.  Since my schedule tomorrow is tight, I’m saving P57 for next week, but I am indulging in a strength class at Uplift.  I don’t think I ever posted this picture from my bachelorette:

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These brave ladies actually indulged me in a pre-party workout class to kick off the bachelorette weekend. In any case, I’m excited to head back to uplift, so many awesome memories.

After that I am going to try and get a mani (it’s been months) and retake my passport photo for the third time.  I can’t even tell you how bad the first two came out–believe me, I typically could care less, but so far my photo attempts have been hideous.

After that, I may try to get my beloved avocado sandwich at the Smith, but that’s probably a bit of a lofty goal since I have to hop on the Jitney at 2:00PM.

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Our plans for Northfork are pretty low key right now, a little bed and breakfast action, some wine tasting, and a few nice dinners.

Fingers crossed it warms up a bit before I’m hiking around the anti-Hamptons.

 

Cook and Go!

I’ve been super excited to do a post about Cook and Go!  I was able to attend an event there last week and I had an absolute blast!

What is Cook and Go? It’s a culinary studio that provides cooking lessons and you leave with a 3-course meal to take home!  The concept was originally from France, so things like portion size are definitely kept in mind

Here’s a look at the studio:

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Each month features 4 different themed, 3-course menus, so you can pick the one that sounds the best to you.

On my menu was:

  • Green smoothie
  • Chickpea burger with tahini sauce Recipe below
  • Raspberry Tart Cookie

For traditional classes there are about 8 students, each with their own station.  Here’s a peak at my station:

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In addition to this there was a handy immersion blender and a knife.

We started with the shortbread cookie!

It was amazing that we only used about 1.5 TBSP of floor a touch of sugar and a pat of butter to create a whole tarts. Here’s the finished produce–you can’t see it, but there’s some yummy jam in the center.

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Next up was the chickpea burger!

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This was delicious! I can’t even tell you!  And again, I was shocked that about 6 tbsps of chickpeas made a huge burger!

Finally, we made a very green smoothie!

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Honestly, I had so much fun. I want to go there with friends, on dates, as a team building event!

What I loved about Cook and Go was that it was fun, health and hands on! Unlike cooking classes where you watch the chef, at cook and go, you actually cook!

I met some great people (Stefanie @thebrokeandbeautifullife, Jennifer @medicinalnutrition and David @bartonbites). In the 90 minute class, we got to know each other, it was a very natural way to get to know someone without all the awkwardness that can occur at meet and greets.  The chef was amazing too! He kept us laughing!  Oh, and did I mention the free wine at every class?

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Lastly, and maybe most importantly, is the affordability of Cook and Go. Classes range from $39-89, which is way less than most culinary studios. Most dishes are easy to prepare and something you actually would cook at home. They also send you home with recipes with instructions for preparing a dish for anywhere between 1 and 6! Yay portion control.

To make the already affordable classes even more affordable, I have a discount code that will give you 15% off your first class.  Just use the code BLOG14 when you sign up online.

 

The all too familiar too short weekend

I can’t believe the weekend is almost over! I know we lost an hour, but it felt even shorter.  Oh, btws, thanks for your feedback on my stitch fix post!  I’m not sure if I’ll get a stitch fix box every month, but I’ll try to recap it whenever I do!

Friday night I had to work pretty late, so after the pup we were dog-sitting arrived, we just chilled out for a bit, before getting a casual, late dinner at BLT Fish Shack.

Saturday I stopped thinking about starting to train for the Brooklyn Half and actually put foot to pavement.  My first run was about 4.5 hours.  It went okay, I definitely need to work my distance back up. The weather on the other hand was great, if only it had stayed that way! Can’t wait until they turn the water fountains back on for spring.

After a busy afternoon we met Frank’s family for a feast of epic proportions at Del Frisco’s.  My seafood trio special was just a fraction of what was ordered. delf

 

I was definitely happy to know that I had a Barry’s date planned this morning to help detox a bit.  I followed my first 8 round (4 tread, 4 floor) Barry’s with brunch with at Sagaponack.  Frank and I spent the afternoon working and doing some housekeeping before I made some simple sweet potato soup and a huge salad for dinner. It was just what the doctor ordered.

What’s on tap for this week?

Well, tomorrow I am going to post about Cook and Go. I had the best time at an event last week and I’ve been dying to share the details.

Tuesday, I’m getting dinner with Ashley and the gang, which will be amazing.

If that wasn’t good enough, I have Friday off and we’re heading to Northfork for my birthday weekend.

Hope ya’ll had a great weekend and nice weather wherever you are!

My 2nd Stitch Fix!

Happy Friday everyone!

We are almost there.  In other exciting news my second stitch fix arrived yesterday!

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I don’t think I did the best job describing it last time (see my first stitch fix), so let me try again.

  • Stitch Fix is a company that will send you a box of clothes and accessories (5 pieces total) selected by your personal stylist.
  • In order to tailor to your needs, Stitch Fix asks you to complete a thorough survey about your style, budget, size, etc.
  • You can order boxes as frequently or as little as you like, there is no commitment beyond your first box!
  • There is a $20 styling fee per box, which is credited to your order, if you keep at least one item. (So it’s almost always worth it to keep something.) If you keep everything, you get 25% off the total cost of your box, plus the $20 styling credit.
  • Before you receive each box you let your stylist know what you’d like to see it that box, for example, evening wear, work attire, etc.
  • Finally, after you get your box, you have three days to decide what to keep and you ship back the other pieces in a prepaid envelope.  Then you give feedback on line!

So here is what was in my box:

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It included a color block knit dress,  a v-neck blouse with gold buttons, a black and white stripped skirt, a black fit and flare dress with lots of texture and a clutch.

Plus, a style guide:

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Here’s what they looked like on (cue the awkward self-timed photos):

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The top had a lot of weight to it; it was high quality.  I could wear it to work with a blazer or dress it up with a necklace.  It’s easy and comfortable and I like the gold buttons on the neck and sleeves.  However, it’s pretty expense for a knit shirt.

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Striped skirt.  While this is light and easy, it may be a little long for me. I always feel a bit apprehensive about skirts that fall mid-calve.  #calfissues But I love that my stylist pulled it from a similar skirt on my pinterest board and the price is right, so it’s a keeper.

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I actually have a similar mod-style dress that I love, but this one might be a little too mod for me.  It’s also way too large, so back it goes. Next!

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Lastly the black fit and flare.  You can’t really see in the picture, but it has little color specks all over it, plus textured stripes.  I’m on the fence about this piece. It’s super comfy and I’m sure if I keep it, I’ll wear it a ton. However, it’s a bit heavy for summer and it feels a little young. It’s also a tiny smidge too big, so I think I’ll update my dress sizing.  Still not sure!

Also, I’m sending back the clutch, I got a nice black clutch for Christmas.

As always I’d love your thoughts!  Do I keep the dress? The blouse? Have you tried stitch fix?

All right, 11 hours and it is officially the weekend! I can’t wait!

Weekend in Vegas

Last weekend, I went to Vegas for the first time. I feel as though I’ve spent a lifetime (or, ya know, 10 years) speculating about what Vegas would be like, so it was great to finally see it for myself.

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We had a great weekend walking around checking out the hotels (we saw 14 different hotels, but who’s counting?), seeing shows, dining, gambling and laying out at the pool.

The first night we got in pretty late, so we  checked into our hotel, Aria, and then explored some other hotels along the strip. We ended the night with a drink at the Cosmopolitan hotel.

The next morning, we got up early to work out in Aria’s gorgeous gym.  It was one of the nicest hotel gyms I’ve head the opportunity to work up a sweat in. That said, I’ve never seen a hotel gym so busy.  After some more touring, we had some lunch on the strip and did some shopping.

We had dinner reservations at Koi, which was fabulous.  I think I liked it better than the one in New York.

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Tuna tartare with crispy rice

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Lobster tacos

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Sashimi roll

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Tiger roll

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Black cod

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So much food!  But so delicious.

After dinner, we had tickets to Britney Spear’s Piece of Me show.  There were highs and there we lows, I think this  NYTimes article kind of sums up my thoughts. It was great to see Britney and the show itself was pretty impressive, but come on Britney, gimme more.

After Britney, DJ Pauly D was actually djing at our hotel, so we had to check that out.  He was actually pretty good and seemed really excited to be djing, which was refreshing.

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I woke up really early on Sunday to try and go to Yoga with Dolphins at the Mirage.

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At first I thought I would be doing some kind of aqua yoga with the dolphins.  Okay, pretty silly.  Then I wondered if both the dolphin and I would be instructed simultaneously–me being on land and the dolphin in the water of course.  Eventually, I realized that was probably a bit far fetched and that I would just be observing the dolphins while doing yoga from land.  After several unanswered phone calls to the spa to book a class, I decided to just show up and hope a spot was available.  No dice.  All sold out. At least I got a good walk out of it.  Frank and I ended up doing a nice run instead.

After the run and checking out the Wynn and the Encore, we were famished.

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I had some fish tacos to fuel the journey back to Aria.vegas7 

We spent the afternoon at the pool and grabbed some drinks on the strip right across from the famous Bellagio fountains.

For our final night, we had dinner at Michael Mina. So many Vegas restaurants are ones that we have in NY, so we were excited to go somewhere that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to try.  We had a huge meal, but  it was too dark to get good pictures, so I’ll just share my favorite course, which was a delicious cod.

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After Michael Mina we had tickets to “O,” which was great.  After some gambling and a nightcap, our Vegas vacay come to an end.

So how did Vegas compare to my assumptions? Here is what stood out to me…

The Weather: it was fantastic! It was 82 degrees (hello pool deck) in February! Basically the opposite of NYC winter weather, which leaves something to be desired.

Tacky or Opulent: I’d say opulent.  Vegas was far less tacky than I imagined. At least on most of the strip, things were way over the top, but more refined than I expected. I think all the flash added to the indulgent mood of the city.

Walking: We did so much walking. Probably 5-6 miles each day. This was awesome.  That said, walking in Vegas could be annoying.  The streets were packed and people sure do mosey in Vegas.  It was kind of like being in Times Square at all times. Also, I had never experienced anything like the elevated walkways that are used to allow pedestrians to cross the streets at major intersections.  I really think cars get an unfair advantage.

Overall, it was a really fun time and a welcome break from winter.

Bye Vegas, I’ll be back someday

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Monday Musings

It was a great weekend.  Lots of relaxing with a few actual activities.  Both aforementioned activities happened to be brunch.  Any double brunch weekend is a win in my book. In case you are wondering, one was at the Smith and one was at TBSP.

I committed myself fully to watching as much of the olympics as possible–particularly the figure skating.

I also managed to catch yet another new Bravo show, Southern Charm.  Does Whitney remind anyone else of Chuck Bass?

Ed Westwick seen filming Gossip Girl in New York City

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Just me?

In other weekend news, I decided I don’t like my gym. I find it depressing.  I joined NYSC because I got a good corporate rate and because it’s 1 block from my apartment.  However, I’m kind of regretting my decision now that I see that they could care less about maintaining the gym.  There are always numerous cardio machines broken and the weight equipment is all scraped up and rusty looking.  I don’t need a fancy gym, but it makes me sad when companies just don’t care about their facilities.  I’ve seen decent NYSC club locations, mine just isn’t one of them.  It’s definitely affecting my gym usage, that’s why I’ve been doing so many home workouts!

Back to positive, I made an epic kale salad last night.  I have really really struggled to enjoy raw kale salad and I’ve only found a few recipes that could keep me from throwing the salad in a pan and sautéing to my heart’s delight.  The recipe was from Smitten Kitchen.  SO GOOD.  It’s not 100% raw because there is cheese and the bread crumbs and walnuts are toasted, but baby steps folks.

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Try it! I think you’ll like it.