The Company I Keep

House guests are my favorite.

 

Well, some guests…

This weekend I had the best guests possible – two of my favorite blogger friends!  Heather and Sarah started out as internet friends, but we become fast “real” friends after meeting in person at food-related conferences (yet another reason you should attend the Blend Retreat!).

I was so excited to spend the weekend showing them more things I love about my city!  Our first stop was to Atlanta’s “ethnic” food strip: Buford Highway.  We dined on Vietnamese food at Chateau deSaigon.  We have some sort of shrimp patty wrapped around sugar cane sticks, a sweet and sour tamarind soup, shaken beef, and burnt rice.  The rice was my favorite, but the other tow said it reminded them of burnt popcorn.  Probably why I liked it…

… 

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Tagalong French Toast + A Broccoli Weekend

I could eat a box of Tagalongs in one sitting.

 

Thankfully I haven’t proven that, but I’m sure I could.

While I was snowed (iced) in last week, I decided to make myself a healthier version.  One that I could eat an entire plate of.  And I did.

Tagalong French Toast… 

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A Relaxing Weekend

This weekend was relaxing.

 

My version of relaxing… which is active relaxed.

This was the first weekend in a long time where I didn’t HAVE to do anything productive.  I still did lots of things, but it was nice to not have a set agenda.

Friday night I had an impromptu dinner with my mom at local Italian restaurant Double Zero.  We had a great time catching up and eating. I hadn’t seen her since my competition!

My favorite dish was the grilled octopus with pancetta hash, asparagus puree, and citrus vinaigrette, but the lamb farro was a close second.  It was a smoke and braise lamb shoulder with apricots, figs, fresh ricotta, and a poached egg.  Next to all that the beet salad was underwhelming.

Double Zero

 

This next morning I woke up ravenous, so I threw together some quick pancakes.  I am not the Pancake Queen, so I was surprised when they turned out to be quite good!

I posted this Almond-Chocolate Pancake recipe here.  The topping was the icing on the (pan)cake. I used Lorann Oils Irish Cream flavor in it!

Almond Chocolate Pancakes

 

Then it was off to the gym for a glute workout with some of my teammates.  I normally workout solo and forgot how much fun it is to have a gym morning with friends!

After the workout we stood around talking about food (of course), and my friend Rachael revealed she hadn’t been to Whole Foods before!   I suggested a post-workout trip and off we went.  2 hours later, we were full of samples and hot bar boxes and Rachael learned why we lovingly call it “Whole Paycheck.”  She Instagrammed her finds – have you ever tried any of these items?  Black bean pasta and no-salt mustard are awesome!

Whole Foods finds

 

Saturday night I had a friend date with Kat.  I’ve been looking forward to catching up with her for weeks!  We talked and laughed for hours. You know those friends who just “get” you?  That’s Kat.

We ate at the bar at Kimball House.  Their cocktail program is incredible!  Their take on a Manhattan used cola bitters – coolest thing ever!  The food was ok… I’d go back for a pre-dinner drink or a nightcap.

Their take on a Manhattan with cola bitters, sautéed mushroom salad, and beef tartar

 

I took an “artsy” shot!  Sort of:

kimball house

 

Sunday was a beautiful day in Atlanta.  It was sunny and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky!  I decided to go for a run and enjoy the weather… as soon as I stepped outside I realized that – despite the sun – it was in the 30s.  About a mile into it I thawed out and enjoyed myself.

I love the trees with the red leaves.  They look like they’re on fire!

 

When I returned I had a lot to do in the kitchen.  All fun creations!  It was kombucha-brewing day.  I have been brewing my own for over a year now.  It’s really easy, especially if you have a starter kit (you need a “mother” called a scoby).  Mine was from Brooklyn Kombucha, but you could also beg a friend who brews for a scoby.

This week’s flavors are cranberry-ginger-lemon and blackberry-lemon-mint.

kombucha

 

I also did some baking for the Sunday evening end of season party at my training gym, House of Payne.  I’ll share my #strangebugood brownie recipe next week. ;)

This is what happens when a bunch of competitors get together for a post-season party.  It’s ok… we’re bulking… 

 

There were plenty of green veggies, clean sweet potato casseroles, and protein.  That pic just wasn’t as much fun.

I am so thankful to have found Steve and his gym.  This group of competitors is top-notch.  Everyone is kind and always willing to lend a hand.  They are funny, genuine people who I am proud to be associated with.

Team House of Payne

 

Linking up to Katie’s MIMM again – I’d say this “relaxing” weekend was pretty marvelous!

***

I’m 100% enjoying food freedom again.  Bulking season is my favorite.

When was the last time you had an agenda-free weekend?

Have you been to Whole Foods?  Do you remember your first time?  

 

Kentucky Muscle Weekend

Body building has no finish line.

 

This is both inspiring and frustrating.

You work every day – like all goals in life – to be better than you were the day before.  This past weekend’s competition, Kentucky Muscle, was the biggest one I’ve ever done.  I didn’t place in the Top 5 (I came in 6th)… and while I knew I probably wouldn’t it was still a little disappointing.

Not going to lie… the “trophy” was a sword, and that just made me want to place more.  Who doesn’t want a sword to display at home?!

Kentucky Muscle pre-show

 

What I am proud of is how I’ve progressed since my last show.  This time around I had made gains and, more importantly, I felt better than I ever had before.  This morning of the show I felt centered, confident, and ready to get one stage with my best package yet.

On stage, I wasn’t as uncomfortable as I’d been in the past.  My posing still isn’t the best, but it’s better.  I am confident enough to walk out with a smile, know I’m not going to fall over in my stripper heels, and look directly at each and every judge while I move through each pose (that part is maybe the hardest!).

Kentucky Muscle

 

Back stage was also fun.  I met some new friends and had time to hang out with my House of Payne teammates.  It’s a crowded space, but everyone made the best of it; I’m continually amazed by how kind other competitors are.  I bummed rice cakes (which I’d forgotten) and goofed off with the girls in my class as we lined up to get on stage.  I almost had them convinced to enter the stage doing the “walk like an egyptian” dance. ;)

You may recognize my partner-in-crime, Lisa, from my last show and birthday trip to Napa.  Hannah, the blonde in the picture below, won overall Physique!

Backstage at Kentucky Muscle

 

The best part is always the meal afterwards.  We didn’t finish until almost midnight, but that didn’t stop our group from heading to a local late-night pizza spot.  See the pizza on the top right below?  I ate the entire thing.  With a Kentucky bourbon barrel beer.  And a peanut butter Oreo (which are fantastic, btw).

My trainer and I stopped at a local brunch sport, Toast, on the way out of town for one final indulgence before I got back on the wagon foe next weekend’s show.  We split some #yolkporn served on toasted brioche with harissa hot sauce and bacon, and a fantastically decadent bread pudding pancake served with a blend of warm rum raisin syrup and Irish crème sauce.  Sugar coma heaven.

pizza and brunch

 

Last, but certainly not least, I was especially excited to see Brittany!  She lives nearby and came to hang out between after pre-judging and for the night show.  Seeing one of my favorite Blends made the waiting game so much easier.  She is hilarious and kept my trainer and I laughing the entire time.

Thank you, Brittany!!!  I can’t tell you how much seeing a familiar face helps!

Me and Brittany

 

I’ll do a longer recap after next week’s Colorado show.  I spent the few hours after I got home grocery shopping and meal prepping to make it through a crazy week of work, workouts, and travel.  Lisa and I are headed to compete with the lovely Heather in her bikini debut at the end of the week!

I hope you all have a marvelous start to the week!

MMIM

***

That’s the short and sweet recap… I’m about to fall asleep.  Thank you all so much for the tweets, texts, comments on last week’s posts (I swear I’ll catch up one day), Facebook, and Instagram.  It meant the world!

Do you view your goals as a progression, or is there a finish line?

What would be your “treat” food of choice after something like this?  Heather just texted me with an amazing food idea for next weekend… woo hoo!

 

Mocha Mint Protein Muffins + Giveaway

M is for Monday.

 

I swear I didn’t plan this.

This weekend had an M theme, which happens to work really well for Katie’s Marvelous Monday link up.  See what I did there? ;)

 

1. Meringues

My company is a cloud-based technology. Rather than handing out boring collateral like pens at the executive meeting, I ordered cloud-like meringue cookies!  Dyed blue and stuffed in pumpkins for Halloween.

Essential Pumpkin

Thanks to Henri’s Bakery for doing a great job on this custom order – I’ve been going there since I was a kid!

NO, I didn’t eat one… 2 weeks to go!

 

2. Muscles

Speaking of 2 weeks to go, I had my second to last posting practice with my trainer before my competitions!  I have never loved posing, but I’m learning to look forward these Saturday sessions – I get to spend the day posing and training with some of the most inspiring competitors around.

This Saturday’s session made me more excited than ever for these next competitions, and for the next year where I’m 100% committed to hardcore BUILDING.  I love lifting.

 

3. Mom

This weekend was my mom’s birthday.  She’s turning 29, once again. ;)

I was really excited to have her over for brunch.  She opened presents  and I made her my jicama nachos with shrimp, pico, yellow tomato, and #yolkporn.  She save this #strangebutgood creation two thumbs up, which means the world since she is the one I have to thank for my love of food and creating in the kitchen.

Mom

 

4. Muffins

Not just any muffins.  I accidentally made Mocha Mint Protein Muffins.

These were going to be a version of my coffee pancakes.  I accidentally added too much egg, so I decided to bake them instead. This is what a Thin Mint would taste like as a muffin.  Talk about an awesome mistake!

I used Dunkin Donuts’ seasonal Mocha Mint coffee, but you could use any flavor and add extracts.  I added peppermint extract because the DD coffee isn’t actually very mint-y.

Mocha Mint Protein Muffins

Mocha Mint Muffins

  • 2 T oats
  • 1 T coconut flour
  • 1 T (10g) chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp no-salt baking powder
  • 1/4 C egg whites
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee (I used mocha mint)
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 6-8 drops vanilla liquid stevia
  • Optional: chocolate chips, cocoa powder, nuts

 

In a small bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir to combine.

Pour into prepared muffin tins and bake ~25 mins.

Makes 2 muffins (or 3 squares in my slightly smaller silicone mold).

Note: I learned that this recipe can be doubled when I made more to have for breakfast this coming week.

This mistake was even sweeter because it gave me a recipe to link up to Heather’s MMAZ.  She told me seeds could count as nuts.

BWV-Round2-October1

5. Munchies

It’s Halloween.  You have candy coming out the you-know-what.

Just in case you want to give your blood sugar a break, I have a giveaway for one of my favorite bars.  One of you will win a whole box of thinkThin High Protein Bars.

thinkThin

 

Normally a “thin” bar wouldn’t appeal to me; however, my dad actually got me into these.  When he was getting chemo, all he wanted where the chocolate fudge bars.  Random craving, right?

I came to love them.  The 20g protein is perfect for a quick fix post-workout or on the run.  It keeps you full, gives you a pop of energy, and has 0g of sugar.  They’re also gluten-free!

My favorites right now are the Cookies ‘n Cream and the Chocolate Toffee Nut, but you can choose your own!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***

I am literally back-to-back in meetings all week.  Between that and gym time, blogging may be sporadic.  Does anyone else think of Clueless when they use the word sporadic? 

What is your favorite protein-filled snack to-go?

What was the last happy kitchen accident you had?

 

Work It Out: From Running to Lifting

Competing is not for the faint of heart.

 

Or for those who dislike asparagus.

Body building requires a lot of hard work and discipline.  I love the weights – that part doesn’t seem like work to me (most days).

The diet… well, those few weeks leading up to a competition get a little rough.  You probably didn’t want to be near me the last week because I was a total bitch tired of chicken and asparagus.

sprint2table-workitout-BLUE

 

This post isn’t about asparagus.  Today’s Work It Out is a guest post from a friend and fellow comptitior.  Jennifer trains at my gym, House of Payne.

We competed together in the NPC Jen Hendershott Big Shott Bodybuilding Classic last year (Jenn in Physique and myself in Figure).  She was such a great friend – calming my beginner nerves and raising a margarita toast to out successes post-competion.

Team Payne

Jennifer, Christina, Steve (our trainer), Devy, and Me

 

Jenn is a big inspiration.  Like me, she’s a former runner.  The muscle she’s gained in the ~7 months I’ve known her is absolutely incredible.

Below is the story of her transformation.  I hope it inspires you – even if you aren’t interested in competing, it’s a great reminder that we can do anything we want to, if we want to badly enough.

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Close to 2 Decades of Fitness

The year is 1994 and I sign up for my first jogging class at Gainesville State College.  Little did I know at the time what my fitness future would hold.  I had an amazing coach who shared his passion of fitness with me.  He gradually took us, beginners, and taught us how to build up stamina and endurance in running.  Through the class, I developed a liking to running.  I’ll never forget how I felt when I completed running 2 miles without stopping.  My coach told me if you can run 2 miles, then you can run 6 miles.  Well, I kept on running.  I even thought I was “Forrest.”  Forrest Gump, that is.

I ran all the way through college, 3 pregnancies, and into mid 30’s.  Then all of a sudden, I realized my body had massively changed.  I was fat.  I was flabby in a lot of areas.  I couldn’t eat the junk that I ate in my 20’s and look good.  I felt as if my muscle tissue was a lot less than it was in the  previous years.

Be Brave, Take Risks

 

I took a huge leap and decided to change my eating and my training.  I always loved the way girls looked in Muscle & Fitness Magazine.  I wanted that look.  I wanted biceps and a 6-pack.  So I started weight training at home.  I started out with a beginner set of barbells and a pull-up bar.

I trained 1 year at home and starting transforming my body gradually.  I mainly did strength training 4 days a week and 2 days of cardio.  But I wanted to do more and continue to transform my body.  So I hired a personal trainer.  Also at that 1 year mark, my pursuits became a little different.  At first, I just wanted to get fit and lose some weight.  Gradually as I transformed my body and learned more about weight training and its results, I decided to enter a figure contest.

Jenn Wade before and after

 

So I entered my first figure competition.  I will be real honest, my first time out I was not even close to the top 5.  However,  that first competition set me on fire to compete.  This was the best thing to happen.  I went into that competition thinking that I was going to win.  Oh Yes!  However, I left that competition and decided I was going to put in the time and build some serious muscle.  I was going to be a competitive figure athlete.

For the next 3 years, I studied and researched training methods.  I also hired a nutritionist/coach who monitors all of my food and helps develop my training splits.  He has developed a plan to help me build lean muscle mass in the off-season and he knows how to turn me into a lean competitor for the stage.

I have competed in 4 figure competitions since 2010.  However, in November of 2012, I stepped on stage as a physique competitor and placed 3rd in the competition, which qualified me for the national stage.

Jenn Wade

 

Physique is a new division in the body building world.  This division is for women that have a little more muscle than figure.  The Physique division also requires a routine that enables you to present your physique and display your muscles in a way that figure girls don’t get to do.  I absolutely adore it.  I love being on stage and the center of attention.  I especially love showing off my hard work that I have done in the gym and through my nutrition.

As I write this, I am in prep for Team Universe in July 2013.  This is my first national show.  I am giving my 110% to this competition.  I still have the same fire in my soul as I did with my first competition.  I love the structure, workouts, and the discipline required for competing.  Every time I do a  show I feel as if I learn something new about myself.  I have also learned in order for you to succeed, you must step out of your comfort zone and push a little bit harder.

Train Hard and You will be Amazed at Your Results!

XOXO

***

Follow Jennifer’s journey on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to check out her blog!

Did anyone try last week’s Super Slow technique?

Would/have you ever considered competing?

 

Work It Out At Home

We’re all busy.

 

My calendar is nightmare-inducing.

This time of year things get hectic.  You don’t have to sacrifice your fitness due to holiday craziness though!  Today’s Work It Out is something different – a routine you can do at home with NO equipment.

 

 

This quick, full-body workout is demonstrated by Jacklyn, a trainer at my gym, House of Payne.  She started doing figure competitions in her 40s.  When I met her, I thought she was 30.  Diet and exercise pay off!

Check out the video below for a video explanation of each move:

 

 

Printable/pin-able graphic of the workout:

 

Make time to run through this 4x to get a quick 20 minute workout.  Or just do one round – whatever you have time for!

On days when I’m in a rush or on the road, I’ll do one round of a simple workout like this just to get the blood flowing in the morning.  You can always find 5 minutes!

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Remember last week’s Kitchen Workout?  It’s about eating to fuel your body properly.  Calee (who designed the awesome logo above) created a graphic with my guidelines!  Again, these are guidelines that work for me.  Come up with a list of you own.  Calee came up with these for her “Operation Pants Fit” goals.

 

Have you joined the Kitchen Workout?

 

How are you doing with it?  I’m doing decently well.  Weekdays are easy, but this weekend I definitely slipped a bit… I blame the giant unguarded container of  peanut M&Ms.  Whoops.  The important to remember that every day, every moment is a new opportunity to get back on track.  Beating yourself up over M&Ms is silly.

Feel free to post/pin/tweet the #KitchenWorkout graphic and show your clean eating pride!  Check out last week’s post for tips and recipes!

***

I caved in and created a Facebook page for the blog.  Click here if you would be so kind to like my page. :)

Also, don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a $25 gift certificate to Open Sky!

Do you prefer to go to a gym or workout at home?

How are have worked it out in the kitchen lately?

 

A Taste of Atlanta

Bloggers make the best house guests.

 

This weekend my girl Allie @ Forgotten Beast came to Atlanta for a visit and to train with my trainer, Steve, at House of Payne.  Allie is also training for a figure competition.  She definitely lives up to her blog name – girl is a BEAST!

Steve made us strike a pose for a post-training mug shot:

 

We trained, we had posing practice… and then we ate our way through Atlanta. 

Allie eats a plant-based diet, so I knew I had to take her to one of my favorite vegan places in town, Dough Bakery. We split the “egg and bacon” biscuit above along with some vegan soft-serve before walking around one of Atlanta’s funkier neighborhoods (Little 5 Points).

For dinner we hit up Cakes & Ale where we split basically half of the menu and took pictures of it.  All tasty, but our favorite was the brie, and marinated greens with walnut croutons.  Our second favorite was the absolutely fabulous staff (Hi William!).  We rounded out the night with a craft beer from Brick Store Pub.  Allie is a fan of the craft, and this place has a beer menu that reads like fine dining restaurant’s wine list.

 

 

We stayed up too late chatting and eating the remainder of my S’more Bars.  It was awesome.  And I begged her to move to ATL.

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The next day we continued to eat our way through Atlanta.  It was the day of my cooking demo at Taste of Atlanta!

 

 

I was terrified, but SO glad to have Allie there for moral support.  My friend Kathleen also came; it means so much to have friends there when you jump so far outside your comfort zone.  You guys were also so great with the encouraging comments and tweets this weekend!

There wasn’t a huge crowd, but there were spectators that weren’t my friends.  I thought when they said they’d provide 2 burners that it would be little  stop top… notssomuch.  It was a Bunsen burner.  Between that and the wind, the Butternut Squash-Apple Soup took what felt like forever to make.  Just browning the garlic took 10 mins.

 

The view from the stage during set up

 

Overall, it did go well.  The burner eventually warmed up (thank you to the amazing volunteers who helped get it going), and I was able to prove that this is a soup you could make on a campsite.  :)

I did have an amateur fail: I was so flustered by the end that I forgot to add the turmeric.  Thank god Sweetwater Growers’ infused olive oil and fresh herbs were so flavorful the soup still tasted good.

 

 

Thank you to Scott and Sweetwater Growers for asking me to demo my recipe using their Red Pepper-infused olive oil.

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Workout Recap

Last week I mentioned we added 100 pull ups (assisted ) to my daily routine.  I did them most days… travel and long workouts threw me off a little.  My goal this week is to buy a pull up bar so it’s easier for me to get them done each and every day.

But that’s not as exciting as posing pics, right?  Yes, I asked permission before plastering Allie’s ass on the internet.

 

Workout Recap (10/1 – 10/7):

  • Monday - Shoulders/Glutes, Calf raises, 100 pull-ups, 1 mile walk
  • Tuesday – Chest/Bis, 100 pull ups, 2 mile walk
  • Wednesday – Legs (w/ trainer), 2 mile walk
  • Thursday – Back/Tris, 100 pull-ups
  • Friday – Rest, 100 PUs, 1.5 mile walk
  • Saturday - Legs (with Trainer), 2 mile walk
  • Sunday – Rest, 2 mile walk

***

I’m 4 weeks out from my competition… the diet is getting crazier.  More on that and a new fitness feature tomorrow! 

When was the last time you had to go outside your comfort zone?

Have you ever met your “online” friends in real life?