Entertaining My Family in San Diego [WIAW]

My mom and baby sister are here.

Watch out San Diego! 

I haven’t seen my family since leaving Atlanta in February.  I’ve been looking forward to having my mom and one of my sisters here for weeks!  Naturally, the first thing I did way try to kill them with an 8 mile hike in 90 degree temps.

Potato Chip Rock hike… 

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Living Clean and Getting Outdoors

Living Clean

People often cop out of exercise because working out inside a gym simply doesn’t motivate them.  Yet leading an active life and eating clean doesn’t mean spending hours alone chained to a machine.  In fact, a great way to stay in shape and active is right outside your front door!  From walking to running and even outdoor yoga classes there’s a whole load of options where you can work out alfresco and enhance your lifestyle.  Here are some top tips to get you started.

Outdoor Activities

Choose an activity you enjoy that fits around your commitments.  Buddy up with friends and family to make it a social occasion rather than a chore.  If you’re looking to walk or run you can join a local club or research your own route.

Incorporating a route with useful natural features such as steps and benches for triceps dips and other maneuvers will keep things interesting.  There are plenty of hiking websites out there if you’re looking for inspiration, with a range of routes from light to more adventurous.

img 1… 

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#MoveHappy in the Mountains

Being in the mountains mandates some #MoveHappy action.


It’s downright chilly in places!

This week of #MoveHappy I joined forces with Heather!  Literally – I spent the entire week in Colorado.  Here’s just a quick showing of what we did:

Ready to rack & roll down the river!

Ready to rock & roll down the river!


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A Little Scary, A Lot Marvelous in Mürren

“Do something every day that scares you.”


I’m pretty sure Eleanor Roosevelt would approve of this jaunt…

The morning after my decedent meal in Interlaken, I woke up early and ready for a physical adventure.  The plan was to go canyoning, but water levels were too high.  I decided to go paragliding while I figured out what else to do with my day (this isn’t the scary part).

Paragliding in Interlaken, Switzerland… 

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Strange But Good: Switzerland

Strange is global.


Ever use a Turkish toilet?  I still have nightmares.

Switzerland suprised me with it’s fancy strangeness.  I had one huge “treat” meal there.  By treat, I don’t mean indulegent (I did that on emore on e occassion).  I mean ridiculously expensive fancy.

The day started innocently enough.  I left Lucie to in Basel to explore Interlaken for a few days.  One of the best things about Europe is the train system.  You can get anywhere so easily!  And it’s fast – I left in the late morning and arrived in time to check into my B&B and do a little exploring before my fancy dinner.

I went for a leisurely run to take in the sights.  There were streams and lakes filled with impossibly blue water, majestic swans, breathtaking mountain views, and a cable car ride to the top of a small peak called Harder Klum.  I had a salad and glass of wine at the top while I gawked at the view.  Also, there was a cow.  And a certain apron.  Strange, no?



Then it was time to get cleaned up for tyhe evening’s adventures.  I found the swankiest hotel in the city, Victoria-Jungfrau,  and pranced in to the Brasserie for a little self-romance.

As soon as I set down, the server wheeled over a cart that held a giant silver basin of champagne on ice.  Clearly, I’d found my home.  They also brought out homemade bread and three toppings: herbed quark, butter, and some mix of apple and onion that I supposed to be more addicting than crack.  There was also an amuse-bouche, or gift from the kitchen, that was some sort of cheese sauce with a cheese souffle, and a delicately pickled slice of cucumber.



Next up was the started.  I selected the wild garlic soup with a garlic-stuffed ravioli.  It was perfection.  Just the right amout of food!  The foam on the top of the soup was light and rich, and that little ravioli was the single most perfectly cooked piece of pasta pillowy goodness I’ve ever had.

And it was green.  Perfect for a dose of foamy strange!  It was all I could do not to stick my finger in the glass to get every last bit of the soup.

Wild Garlic Soup @ Victoria-Jungfrau


Then came the main.  Chicken stuffed with morels over a bed of creamy spinach, balsamic reduction, and barley.  The cubes are bread dumplings” that were essentially a savory black potato bread pudding.

It seems strange to order chicken in such a fine establishment, but the stuffing and sides were too enticing to pass up.  Those bread cubes alone were worth the price of admission.  The thought of dessert My pride held me back from begging my server to bring seconds.

Chicken @ Victoria-Jungfrau


Dessert.  The whole menu was #strangebutgood.  They offered indulgences like fennel creme brulee with candied celery and lemon verbana foam and a goat cheese-saffrom dome with rhubabrb compote and dandieon sherbert.  The struggle was real!

I sipped an espresso and ate some housemade chocolates while I mulled over the choices.  Therapy.

Espresso @ Victoria-Jungfrau


My selection?  Strawberry crunch (a soft of strawberry brownie with a nutty crust) with absinthe strawberries and garlic ice cream.

I died.

Strawberry Crunch @ Victoria-Jungfrau


Not wanting the night to end, I waddled down to the hotel bar where I listened to the pianist while sipping bourbon.  As a good Southerner, I know that bourbon can only come from Kentucky… but after a meal like that, I’ll let them call their booze whatever they like.

Faceplant into bed back at my B&B.  Strangely enough, I managed not to mess with the guitar hanging on the wall through the whole stay!

Whisky Bourbon @ Victoria-Jungfrau


How have you enjoyed making co-workers, friends, or family stare with strange but good creations this week? The link up rules can be found here or by clicking on “Strange But Good” in the menu bar above. In short, I want to see what concoctions have earned you weird looks from co-workers, family and friends! Post your Strange But Good creations, grab the logo below for your blog, and link up here.

Sprint 2 the Table



Remember to use #strangebutgood in any Tweets and Instagrams of your creations. :)


Now I’m hungry all over again.

Have you ever been on a train?  I’ve neve been on one in the US (unless you count Disney World).

Do you have one “big” treat meal on vacations?


Work It Out On Vacation

Vacation is a time for relaxation.


I would say rest and relaxation, but I’m not good at being still.

Taking a break from your exercise routine doesn’t have to mean being sedentary.  Being active away from home is one of the best ways to explore a city!  Today’s Work It Out is dedicated to a few of the ways Lisa, Heather, and I stayed active in Napa* last week.

*Raising a wine glass doesn’t count as lifting.  But not for lack for trying.



The cottage we stayed in had bicycles available to guests, so on day 1 of our trip Lisa and I decided to cycle from winery to winery.  There was plenty of entertainment, as neither of us bicycle.  As we were pulling out of the cottage area, a couple stopped to tell us we needed to take a few practice laps before we got on the road.  Haha!

It was a blast – we went up and down some hilly roads on the cruiser bikes (read: no gears or handle breaks).  Talk about a killer quad workout!  The unexpected value add was that it kept us from buying too much wine – you can buy more than you can fit in the basket on the front of the bike!  That is, until we discovered a winery that offered to deliver to our cottages.  Tee hee.


Photo courtesy Lisa


On day 2 we’d planned to take a break from wine gluttony enjoy the town.  We set out on a 7 mile hike up Oat Hill Mine Trail.  The trail was filled with flora and fauna I’d never seen before.

This tree’s red bark fascinated me:

Calistoga hike


We were rewarded for our hard work up the winding trial with a stunning view:

Oat Hill hike in Calistoga


Then we were rewarded again with a mud bath that afternoon.  No pics of that (it was a nude area), but it was certainly a fun experience (if not a teensy claustrophobic).


Heather arrived the next day.  She is doing the Live Fit program right now and needed to run 30 mins of sprints.  I tagged along and pointed us down the Silverado Trail.  I hadn’t been in that direction on the bike, and it was fun to watch the fog lift from the valley in the cool morning air.

I don’t normally run with other people, so it was also a nice change to have Heather there.  I definitely wouldn’t have done 30 sprints without her encouragement!

Photo courtesy Heather

Photo courtesy Heather


Added bonus: after being so fit you can feel good about flexing in front of a giant bottle of wine from Del Dotto Vineyards called “The Beast.”

Nevermind the fact that the winery owner was looking at me like I was nuts. #shameless

Del Dotto Beast


Finally, we took one long, long walk to dinner.  I thought we could cut down a side street to get to dinner… it ended up making a 3/4 mile walk more like a 3 mile walk.  I don’t recommend this method of exercise unless you have very patient friends.

The upside was seeing a gorgeous sunset over the vineyards.

Calistoga sunset

The downside was walking the last mile in the dark… rockstar Heather ran the last mile to get them to hold our reservations.


Exercising without knowing you’re exercising is a blast.  So is getting home and back to a routine… vacation wears me out!

How do you stay active on vacation?

Have you ever taken the long way on accident?  I’ve gotten lost on runs more times than I would like to admit.


Work It Out: Baby Got Back

I don’t want none…


Unless you got buns HON!

This week’s Work It Out is selfish.  My goal this year is to grow a booty.  When I first started with my trainer, he told me I literally ran my ass off.  Nice, right?  But he was correct.  I had NO arse.




My friend Jessica and I decided that it is time to become more well-rounded, and take our glutes to the maximus.

We are off to a great start.  Walking/sprinting inclines is great for the booty, and last weekend Jessica, our friend Kathleen, and I all hiked up Stone Mountain.

Jessica, Kathleen, and me

Jessica, Kathleen, and me


Beyond hiking, there are a ton of exercises you can do in the gym that will help to round out your rump (yes, I’m having way too much fun with this theme).

Today’s Work It Out is composed of my favorite booty-building moves.  I do 4 sets of these, 15 reps each.  You may want to start out with 3 sets of 10-12 reps and work your way up.


Two-Leg Glute Lifts

Frog Legs

Lie face down on a stability ball, making sure your hips are on the ball and your hands are shoulder-width apart on the floor in front of you. Engage your abs, squeeze your glutes, and draw your heels together and your toes apart. The knee should make a right angle. Press your heels up towards the ceiling 15 times.

Need a challenge?  Wear ankle weights!


Banded Side Walk

Side Band Walking

This is awesome for hitting the area where your glutes meet your hamstrings – an area where many women carry body fat.

Tie a resistance band just below your knees.  Lower your booty about half way to a squat position, with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart (as pictured above on the left).  This should be just enough to put tension on the band.  Remain in your half-squat, keep your core tight, and step to the right with your right leg first, then your left.  Be sure to keep tension on the band through the entire exercise.  Repeat for reps, then switch sides to lead with your left leg.


Barbell Hip Lifts

Barbell Hip Lifts

This particular move killed my backside last week.  You can perform this on a bench with a barbell or plates, or you can use the Smith Machine.  Start light and work your way up as you get used to the movement – it can feel awkward at first!

To begin, sit on the ground with your back against a bench and your feet in front of you.  Hold a (padded) barbell or plate in your lap.  Extend your hips sky-ward to raise the barbell, keeping your core tight.  Take care to push the hips upward using the glutes.  At the to of the left, your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees (full hip extension).  Squeeze at the top, then slowly descend back to the ground.


One-Legged Deadlifts

one leg deadlifts

Want to hit your glutes AND hips at once?  One-legged deads are the way to go.  This move does require some balance.  Take your time, start with a light, and don’t be embarrassed to rest your hand on a bench to steady yourself.

Stand on one leg with the opposite foot slightly back, resting on the toe.  Hold a weight in front of your thigh and lean forward from the hips, keeping the back straight and core tight.  Slowly bring the weight towards the floor.  Lift the back leg up as you lower the weight, reaching hip-level at the top of the move.  Squeeze the glutes, returning to the upright position and repeat for reps before switching sides.


Disclaimer: I am not licensed or a professional anything.  If you don’t rock a Beyoncé booty after this, it’s not my fault.  Don’t sue me.  End scene.

Not ready for this jelly


I’m running way  behind with back-to-back weeks on the road… but I did make it to the hotel gym last night!  Tonight I’m at it again… can’t miss glute day!!!

People talk a lot about losing, but do you have a specific body part you’re looking to GROW?

What is your favorite booty move?  Or favorite booty joke?  Extra points if your comment makes me laugh out loud in my meetings tomorrow. 😉 


Cramming 101: Endurance Training and Recovery

Endurance isn’t for the weak.


It also probably should not be prepared for in a cram session.

This Saturday I’m doing an adventure/orienteering race that my cousin talked me in to.  8 hours in the woods with a GPS.  They give you the start, the finish, and a couple of mandatory check points along the way.  It will be running, hiking, mountain biking, and canoeing.  I hope I live.


Keep going


Some of you may not know it, but before I got into lifting seriously, I was a runner.  I was a decently fast 5K’er, loved adventure races (hellllloooo Tough Mudder) and ran a few Halfs.  I wanted to run a full but one day my knee said no.  If I ever want to run distances again I need to have surgery.  That won’t be happening.


All of this to say, I haven’t been running in 8 months!  Saturday that changed.  My cousin recommended I get 6 hours of continuous exercise/training in before the race.  Cramming.

Kat agreed to keep me company for half of that by taking me on one of her trail run/hikes.

Kat and Me


13 STEEP miles in 3 hours.  We hiked up steep incline filled with wet leaves, leapt over creeks, and ran power lines.  It was the perfect day for it – record high 75 degree temps and partly cloudy.

I was sore half way through.  


Nutrition is something I struggle with.  I have a hard time eating or drinking during a run – it makes me slosh and cramp.  In our 3 hour run, I just ate a mini über Lara Bar (the one with the nuts) and sipped some water.  Will have to be sure to take in more fuel while biking and canoeing this weekend.

We finished (thank you, Kat, for being patient with me) and did a little yoga to loosen up.  I chugged water.

Post-Run Yoga #FitFluential


Kat dropped me at my place where I ran up to pee, change shoes, and eat.  In that order.

I broke out an old favorite for fuel:

Sweet Potato “Cereal”

  • 1/2 sweet potato, bakes and cubed
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Unsweetened almond milk


Place sweet potato in a cereal bowl.  Mix together remaining ingredients in a separate bowl, adding milk until the mixture thins to a milk consistency.

Pour protein milk over the ‘taters and inhale.


Then I grabbed my bike, water bottle, and a GU and took off.  (Note: Espresso GU is tasty!)

Gingerly set out may be a better way to describe it.  I was tired.  What I considered to be “flat” ground before seems quite hilly.  I rode about 15 miles (had to stop for air in my tires and forgot to re-start my RunKeeper app).  After I loosened up a bit, it turned into a fun ride.  I followed Atlanta’s new Beltline Path and got to see the city in a whole new way.  I even took a tour to ride the Krog Street Tunnel (infamous for its graffiti):

Krog Street Tunnel

Krog Street Tunnel


I decided to get back on the path and head back when I rode past a woman on her porch yelling at her neighbor, “Don’t mess with me or I will HURT your dog!”  Scary lady.

Honestly, after I got back within a mile of my place I’d convinced myself to call it quits at 5 hours.  I was tired, sore, bored, and hungry.  Then I ran into Carol and her sweet puppy Bailey!  She was walking home from an afternoon at the dog park, so I joined her to catch up.  30 mins walking there, then another 30 back to my house = 6 hours DONE.


When I got home I was famished.  I would have eaten my right hand (I’m left-handed).  Instead, I stood in the door of my fridge and ate half a rotisserie chicken with my bare hands.  After washing my hands, of course.

Then I cleaned my sticky self:


And finally it was dinner time.  Burger topped with avocado, black bean dip, jalapeno, and pico de gallo, with a side of house-made crinkly-crispy sweet potato fries dipped in sriracha and mustard.  Then… there may have been an (unpictured) apple pie milkshake.  I’ve been boycotting the burger trend (I HATE Yeah! Burger), but Grindhouse Killer Burgers changed my mind.

Grindhouse Killer Burgers - Gringo


Yes, it’s Junk-Free January.  I needed calories… and it was junk-free-ish.  The meat for the burger is freshly ground by a small North Carolina producer and delivered every day, and the bun is a soft potato roll made by a Pennsylvania Dutch bakery.  The sauces are homemade.  The shakes are homemade.  I have no regrets.

Then I crashed.  And got hungry again.  Banana.  Cottage Cheese.  Protein powder.  Cinnamon.  Face plant in bed.

Then, in the wee hours of Monday morning, I got the stomach flu.  I think I would have gotten sick despite the cram session… but it probably didn’t help.  In the future, I’ll plan better.  Thank you all SO much for the well-wishes!

2 days ’til race day!!! I’m eating my carbs and doing to light workouts to prepare.


I was nominated for something I’m really excited about: Top Health and Fitness Blog of 2013.  I’d be honored to have your vote!  It’s really easy – no registration required.  Click here to Vote.

Leap Fitness Top 100


How do you fuel before/during/after races?

What is the toughest race/physical activity you’ve ever done?


Habit Formed

Hiking is habit-forming.


Ever since the awesome hike in Boulder at the Blend Retreat, I cannot get enough!



This weekend I took off for North GA to a place called Tallulah Gorge with Heather, Kirk, Lindsay, and Nancy.  The gorge is a 2 mile long, 1000 ft deep canyon about 90 miles north of Atlanta.   They even have a suspension bridge and  a sliding rock!

It’s a good thing we were armed with our FitMixer BCAA drinks!  (Click here for more on the benefits of BCAAs.)


Photo Credit: Heather/Kirk


After the crazy hike to the bottom (think lots of sliding down rocks on my butt), we were wishing we’d thought to bring swimsuits so we could use the rock waterslide!  Next time it’s on.



See the bottom right pic in the collage above?  That’s a snake skin.  Snakes are the only downside to hiking…

One 4 mile round trip and about a million stairs later, we were STARVING.  Like good bloggers, we already had a lunch spot picked out.  By we I mean Heather.  Anytime she picks a place you know it’s going to be good.  Grapes & Beans (not to be confused with frank and beans) in Clayton, GA was no exception.



Small town cafes can be surprisingly good!  They had a gorgeous patio where we ate while listening to jazz music.  As an appetizer we shared a delicious curry hummus (hummus + curry = win).  For my entree I had a portabella pita sandwich with mixed greens, tomatoes, carrots, and herb-garlic tofu dressing.  Yes, the dressing was as good as it sounds.


Wednesday I leave for Argentina.  Exercise there will consist of mostly sight-seeing/walking/jogging.  I love my weight though, so these next few days I’m going to squeeze in some good strength training workouts.

This past week I had a decent week of workouts on top of the hike, so I treated myself to a rest day Saturday.  I’m beginning to appreciate their value, and so is my body.


Workout Recap (5/28- 6/3):

  • Monday – 4 mile run/walk, Back, 100 push-ups
  • Tuesday – Personal trainer (full body), 5 mile run/walk with Carol
  • Wednesday – Bis/Back with plyo, 3 mile walk, 100 push-ups
  • Thursday – Shoulders with plyo, 3 mile run/walk 100 push-ups
  • Friday – 3 mile run, Ab Ripper X, 100 push-ups
  • Saturday – REST
  • Sunday –  4 mile hike, 100 push-ups



Having worked 60+ hours in the past week, I’m so ready for vaca that it almost hurts.

Are you afraid of snakes?

Do you take rest days regularly?  Have you found them beneficial?  I need encouragement.


An Accidental 7 Mile Hike with Fitmixer

What started out as a 4 mile hike turned into 7.

I was so inspired by the hike we took during the Blend Retreat that I couldn’t wait to explore some of Georgia’s trails.  My partner and crime and I took off for Kennesaw Mountain, the scene of a few bloody Civil War battles.

Despite it’s history, the mountain is quite beautiful.  The views of the skyline along the way are stunning, and you run across several historical sights, structures, and cannons.  Naturally, I had to pose on a cannon labeled “keep off.”

We wandered about, having a great conversation.  Such a great conversation that we almost missed seeing a deer!  She literally ran right across our path!

We were following our intended trail as best we could without much signage.   Well, without much useful signage.  We missed the first turn off for our planned loop.  Oops.  

See the pic below?  Those arrows didn’t appear to be pointing to any logical paths.

Thankfully, we had provisions – the extra 3 miles weren’t so bad after all.  In fact, I’d like to do it again and make a 10 mile loop!


A few saving-graces:

1. We were well-rested.

2. Provisions were provided (thanks Blend Retreat goodies – that ProBar hit the spot!).

3. I invested in trail running shoes.  They aren’t hiking boots but the extra traction was perfect for me.

4. My ego is huge.  There is no way I’d ever a) admit to taking a wrong turn or b) give up.

5. FitMixer Aminos.  This stuff was another Blend Retreat discovery and I swear to you it is amazing.  Also the reps are totally kickass – they hung out with us all weekend and kicked our butts with a bootcamp Sunday a.m.  Post Cinco de Mayo, thankyouverymuch.

This miracle powder gives you energy and helps you to build muscle.  You guys know how I love muscles.

I met up with an old workout buddy the other day and he was quizzing me on how I got  my arms “like that.”  (Note: I know I still have a way to go, but progress is exciting!).  BCAAs, my friend.

I would never put anything up here that I didn’t like love.  Fitmixer, I love.  This powder uses ingredients that increase nitric oxide (increasing the oxygen delivered throughout the body) more than other BCAAs on the market.  I have a scoop before exercising because is give you crazy energy, and then a scoop after my workout to help with muscle recovery (amino acids are used for used for protein synthesis).  Sometimes I have a scoop for dessert since it tastes like Kool-Aid.

BCAAs typically go directly to the muscle after being digested, whereas most other amino acids go to the liver.  With BCAAs, that muscle can use them directly for fuel.  Why is this good?  It helps to strengthen, build, and repair muscle tissue broken down by weight training or other strenuous activity.

Oh, and did I mention BCAAs also help to rev the metabolism and burn fat?


Always a glutton for punishment, I’m going hiking again this weekend!

Do you like to hike?

Have you use BCAAs or other “workout” supplements before?  Who has ‘roid rage?