A Weekend in Pictures: San Diego

Hello friends!

Will and I got back yesterday from a whirlwind of a weekend in San Diego to celebrate the wedding of two of our good friends. The wedding itself was absolutely amazing — the scenery was incredible and it was such a fun group of people, I don’t think it could have turned out any better!

The whole weekend though, from start to finish, was great as well. Here we go!

Very early Friday morning, I left for the West Coast. Will had already gone out a few days before, so it was just me getting out the door that morning. I may or may not have come super close to missing my flight. Oops!

Since I had to leave my house at 4 am, breakfast was brought on the plane with me. I had a little bit left in this local greek yogurt, so I packed that up with some peanut butter and some granola/dates in my little ReebokOne GoStak, and I was good to go! It was a nice breakfast on a plane instead of the usual airport fare of a bagel or pastry.

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Once I landed in San Diego, I was surprised to be picked up at the airport in this by Will and our friends Zack and Emily… talk about arriving in style!

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Our first stop in San Diego was for what else… Tacos! We ended up going to a place called City Tacos in North Park, and it was delicious! I got the Chorizo and Mahi tacos, and wished that I could eat a thousand of them — that chorizo one was to die for.

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Friday night we went to the rehearsal dinner at the bride’s parents’ house, and then I crashed pretty early as I had been up since 3:45 that morning! Saturday morning, with Will on Groomsmen duties all day, I had a few hours to kill until the festivities began.

The evening before, on a walk to the store from the hotel, I found this great set of stairs leading from the sidewalk up a hill to a restaurant. Being that I have a crazy love of stair workouts, I knew this would be where my workout would be the next day, instead of the stuffy hotel fitness center.

So out I went to the stairs, and it was perfect! Pretty hot for what I’m used to right now, but I got in some sweaty stair work along with what felt like a thousand push-ups. The view from the top of the stairs was pretty amazing too — I don’t quite get a view like that when I run stairs in the park at home!

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Following the workout, I decided to go take a dip in the pool to cool off (rough life, right?). I then stayed out in the sun to do some program writing while catching some rays on this pale New England skin.

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Saturday night was the wedding and as I said before, it was perfect! Taking place again at the bride’s parent’s house, with a view of the surrounding mountains, it could not have been more picturesque. The entire night was a blast, but I’ve only got a couple of pictures for ya!

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Sunday was spent at a brunch with the bride and groom, and then cruising around San Diego for a while as our flight wasn’t until later that night. Since Will had already spent a few days there, he knew right where to take me!

Of course, coffee was the first stop.

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…followed by lunch at this awesome place called Cafe Gratitude. I loved this place so much. The menu starts with “I AM…”, and each menu item is listed as Happy, Grateful, Incredible, etc. When you order, you say to the waiter “I am ____” and your menu choice. Then, the best part is that when they bring your food to you, your waiter says “You are____”. For instance, when Will got his smoothie delivered, the waiter said “You are incredible”. How awesome is that?

The food is all vegetarian, vegan and a lot of it is raw. And trust me, you leave there feeling on top of the world. Everything tastes so fresh! I tried “Happy”, a raw falafel wrap, and it was so incredibly flavorful. I’m not sure how they made raw falafel so crunchy, but it definitely wasn’t lacking anything by being raw. I can’t remember the name of Will’s dish, but it was also delicious and fresh!

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We followed up lunch by walking around downtown for the rest of the afternoon, just browsing through shops, exploring, and quite honestly, waiting until we were hungry again for dinner.

That evening, we went to Juniper and Ivy for dinner, a restaurant that we had heard about through friends. It did not disappoint! We weren’t starving, so we intended to just get a few small plates (what they specialize in) to share. What we didn’t realize was that their small plates are actually quite generous portions, and we ended up with more food than we planned! Don’t worry though, none of it went to waste as it was insanely delicious.

We started out with deviled eggs, but these were not your run of the mill deviled eggs! The white of these was made from a dehydrated egg white meringue, which literally melted in your mouth. It was such an interesting take on this dish and definitely unlike anything I’ve ever had before!

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We then had a buttermilk biscuit that came with foie gras butter. I don’t even have any words to describe this — it was that good.

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We finished up the meal with sugar snap peas, a delicious brussels sprouts dish, and lamb bolognese. I didn’t get pictures of any of this because I was too busy raving over how good everything was. Trust me, if you visit or live in the San Diego area, make a point to get here for dinner at some point! (And don’t forget that heavenly biscuit)

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend that went by way too fast!

Sunday night, we flew back here on a Red Eye flight — needless to say, work yesterday was interesting. Was it worth it though? Heck yes.

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Readers: What’s the best meal you’ve had when traveling? Have you been to San Diego? How do you tend to workout when traveling — do you find places outside or stick to the hotel gym?

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West Coast Recap 2: San Francisco

I feel like today’s post should probably be fitness related, since it’s been a while, but I’m going to go with the second part of my recap instead. Mostly because if I don’t get this down into a post, I’m just going to forget too many details to give you a good recap!

The first part of our west coast trip was to Portland, OR, which you can read about here. In short, I fell in love with Portland instantly, and although I was excited about San Francisco, I felt like I could have stayed there forever.

I will warn you ahead of time, I think I have far less food pictures from SF than I did from Portland — we were there with several friends and ate a lot of meals with them, so I spent a lot more time socializing and a lot less time photographing my food. I will say that we ate some of the best meals of my life here — so even with few pictures, I’ve been dying to tell you guys about these places.

We arrived in SF early on a Saturday morning, and after dropping our bags at our hotel downtown, we had one goal: breakfast. After a 4 am wakeup time to catch our flight, we were starving and felt like it was already mid-day, so honestly I probably could have eaten lunch at that point. We set off on foot, as always (we are vacation walk-aholics), and really just wandered for a bit before settling on a place to eat.

We ended up at a tiny hole-in-the-wall joint called Farm:Table, which seemed to be the only place fairly close to us that didn’t have an hour wait for breakfast/brunch (it was Memorial Day weekend, so the city was pretty busy!). The reviews we read were great, so we decided to give it a shot, and I am so glad we did. It is quite literally one of the tiniest restaurants I’ve ever seen, with the inside consisting of one communal table and the counter where you order. With a line out the door, we knew we wouldn’t get to sit at the table, but that’s ok because they have an outdoor counter that you can stand at, a couple of tiny outdoor tables, and a little parklet right outside with some funky benches, etc.

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I stood outside to snag a spot at the counter, leaving Will to order. In true Will fashion, he decided to order one of just about everything, which meant we were served quite the feast for our first San Francisco meal. We each had an egg sandwich on a freshly baked croissant, and we shared the house made cereal as well as a delicious spinach frittata that was served with fresh fruit. Yes, it was A LOT of food. And yes, we ate it all. And YES, it was absolutely delicious. I kept meaning to go back there for the rest of the week to have that house made cereal again, but never made it. Maybe next time!

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We spent most of the rest of that day wandering around town, checking out some of the “must-see” touristy spots, to check those off our list. We saw Lombard Ave, the iconic San Francisco “curviest” street, we visited the waterfront and spent some time with the Sea Lions on Pier 39, and wound our way back through China Town and Little Italy. After all that walking, it was time for a late afternoon lunch. We stopped at a little sandwich place/bar called Naked Lunch, and I had a Fried Green Tomato Sandwich. It was enormous, but after that giant breakfast I only ended up eating half. It was incredibly tasty, and don’t worry, the second half was taken home to eat later!

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Here’s where I tell you about an amazing meal that I unfortunately have NO pictures of. We made reservations with our friends to go to Stone’s Throw for dinner that evening. As there were six of us, when we arrived we were informed that the chef’s tasting was available for parties of 6 or more– so of course, that’s what we did? Why order one entree when you can try so many different things?

And try different things we did! I’ve never had such an incredible chef’s tasting before — we ended up with an 8 course meal, all before a 3 course dessert. And that is not an exaggeration! We ate everything from duck liver pate (which I’m usually not a fan of but this was incredible), to a spring pea salad, to squid ink pasta and a bruschetta with bur rata cheese. I wish I had a list of everything we ate, because the details just won’t come back to me, but trust me when I tell you that everything was perfect.

When we were all starting to get stuffed, we were informed that we hadn’t even tried the entree selections yet — perfectly cooked salmon, duck, and steak. I can’t even do this meal justice in text, but please visit this restaurant if you live in or visit San Francisco. It was one of the most amazing meals that I’ve ever eaten, and the icing on the cake (besides our 3 perfect desserts), was when the chef came out to greet us when we were done, and he couldn’t have been more humble or friendly. Stone’s Throw, I officially love you!

On Sunday, definitely still stuffed from the night before, I actually got up to go for a run on the waterfront, which actually ended up being my fastest 5 mile run ever. I guess the secret is eating 11 courses of decadent food the night before a run? I’m not sure I’ll be testing that theory again though. ūüôā

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That day we headed out to Presidio Park for Off The Grid, San Francisco’s very own family friendly “Sunday Funday”. There were food trucks and carts galore, a bar, and tons of people just camped out and having fun for the day. Of course we had to try multiple food carts while we were there, but I ordered my food from La Marcha. I ended up with some amazing paella and patatas aoli, which were patatas fritas with a black truffle aoli. Holy yum, I could have eaten those all day.

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Previous delicious food aside, there is one more meal that we ate in San Francisco that I just have been dying to tell you all about. The restaurant is called State Bird Provisions, and this was on Will’s “must do” list from the beginning. As the one who does all of the food research, I can always count on him to find something amazing in a brand new city, and this was no exception.

The deal with SBP though, is that it’s almost impossible to get a reservation, but they do reserve a specific portion of the restaurant for walk-ins. Or should I say, “wait-in-line-ins”. You see, we arrived at 3:50 to get in line, and the doors to the restaurant open at 5:30. Within minutes of us getting there, the line was down the block (we were the 3rd party in line. so we made good timing!). For the beginning of the line, you can choose to get sat right away, or put your name in to come back around 7 or 8 for your table. We chose to sit right away, although waiting until later would have been totally worth it as well.

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The line for SBP at about 4:30 pm. My favorite part of this picture though is the man with the pups in the stroller! 

The restaurant is American “dim sum” style, with servers and chef’s offering food as they go. Servers bring dishes around on carts, and because we were right at the chef’s counter (my favorite seat in any restaurant), the chef’s were offering us plates as they were plating them. You keep track of everything you’ve ordered on a sheet right in front of you, so although all of those small dishes add up, you know exactly how much you’re spending the entire time. We tried so many different dishes here, and this time I did get to snap a few photos. I wanted to really enjoy the whole experience of this different type of meal though, so I didn’t go crazy with the photos.

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When all is said and done, I would easily say that SBP and Stone’s Throw are both on my top 10 meals eaten of all time. State Bird Provisions was a combination of incredible and interesting food and a different type of experience, which will help it to stand out in my memory for a long time to come. One thing is for sure, if I ever return to San Francisco, both of these will be on my list.

Since we were actually there for Will to be at a conference, I spent a good amount of time during the day just cruising around the city on my own. It gave me a lot of time to just walk and wander, which is one of my favorite things to do when traveling. I was able to visit many different neighborhoods, one of my favorite was Hayes Valley, which had a great vibe and adorable shops and restaurants. I was also able to wander over to see the Painted Ladies, Buena Vista Park (which had the most incredible views), the Mission, Nob Hill, and Haight-Ashbury.

We spent an amazing afternoon at Alcatraz — my #1 must see of the trip, and it didnt disappoint! We¬†also took an afternoon to drive out to Muir Woods and see the Redwoods, which was a beautiful and relaxing excursion from the hustle and bustle of the city. That same afternoon, we took some time to visit Sausolito, and of course go back to view the Goldent Gate Bridge from the other side. It’s amazing how the view of a bridge can be so breathtaking!

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And some other notable foods…

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My breakfast and¬†coffee almost every morning came from Blue Bottle Coffee. Holy yum! Maybe the best granola I’ve ever had. Be prepared to¬†wait in line if you go here!¬†

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An acai bowl from a food truck called Bowl’d Acai. So good!¬†

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I have a really weird love for rice pudding, so when we found a place that served Fro-Yo and Rice Pudding as their specialty, I knew we had to go! This was Loving Cup, an adorable little dessert shop in Hayes Valley. (And yes, it was delicious)

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When in Sausolito… seafood is a must! This delectable piece of salmon came from Fish, where we sat out on¬†picnic tables right on the water. Just LOOK at that piece of salmon! Perfect!¬†

Overall, San Francisco was wonderful, and although I can’t see myself ever living there, it was an extremely fun place to visit. Also worth noting is that I had two of the best meals of my life there, and I am positive that we only scratched the surface in terms of what San Francisco has to offer on the food scene.

**NOTE: Although it may not appear to be the case, we did a lot more on this vacation than eat, and each city has so many amazing things to offer.¬†The thing is, this is not a travel blog, and although I’m going a little bit out of my realm to recap these trips, I figure you guys are pretty interested in the food. So please, know that we enjoyed the cities for all they had to offer — not just the food!¬†

West Coast Recap: Food and Fun in Portland, OR

….And I’m back!

If you follow along on Instagram, you got a few glimpses into our awesome trip to Portland and San Francisco, but now it’s (finally) time for a full recap!

We ate far too much delicious food and saw way too many great places for me to recap ALL of it, so consider this more of a highlight reel. And highlights they are — I swear, I’ve never eaten more than I did during the 9 days of this trip. Multi-course meals turned into the norm, and dessert was almost a constant. Good thing we were getting an average of 14 miles of walking per day! (Not kidding). All of that walking probably saved my waistline and my sanity, and I truly believe that walking is the best way to see a new city, no matter how much you’re eating.

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Stepping madness! No wonder my legs were tired by day 8! 

The City

If I had to describe Portland in 3 words, I would say Chill, Vintage, and Roses. I know, I know, strange choice of words, but they all fit. The vibe in Portland is so chill that I felt instantly relaxed and at home there. In fact, it was in such a stark contrast to the uppity nature of New England (a place I love, and have lived all my life), I couldn’t help but fall in love instantly.

Vintage, because it seems that everything new in Portland is actually old, and everything old is new again. There are vintage shops pretty much everywhere, many restaurants/bars have a  very vintage vibe, and the general aesthetic was that of days past. Again, this plays into the chill factor.

And now for the roses. Portland is the Rose City, something I never knew until visiting. There are gorgeous varieties of roses everywhere, in most front yards, in parks, even along the highway. They are everywhere, and they are beautiful! And not only were there roses everywhere, but there is so much beautiful vegetation as well. Most people’s front yards were overflowing with beautiful jungles of plants, vines, flowers, and greenery– I was having so much yard envy it wasn’t even funny.

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Bottom line is, I loved it and I felt at home in a place that combined my love of the city and also beautiful nature scenery all in one place. I don’t think there are many cities that can combine both so seamlessly!

The Food  

Now for what most of you are interested in, right? Food. Let me tell you — food was abundant in Portland, and all of it was delicious. We ate at a mix of different types of places in all different neighborhoods, trying to get a feel for as much of the city that we could. Ready for some of my favorites?

Sweedeedee.¬†This was an amazing little breakfast/lunch spot on the Northeast side of the city. We actually walked 4 miles there for breakfast the first day — not a bad way to work up an appetite, huh? Everything on the menu looked delicious, so I ended up ordering a couple of what I thought would be smaller breakfast dishes. Boy was I wrong! I got the house-made yogurt and granola, along with a breakfast sandwich. Both were out of this world, but the breakfast sandwich was served on what was some of the best bread I’ve ever had — house made molasses bread. It had the slightest hint of sweet, but was so soft and pillowy it made the perfect base for an egg sandwich.

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Seriously, this breakfast was so good, at the end of the trip we got mad at ourselves that we didn’t go back there a second time! If you are in the Portland area, I HIGHLY recommend this for breakfast or lunch.

Donuts.¬†We knew going into the trip that donuts were going to be a must in Portland. With the famous Voodoo Doughnuts as well as Blue Star Donuts in the city, we knew we had to hit up both. And they didn’t disappoint! Voodoo is definitely more about the experience and the weirdness/”wow”-factor of the donuts, while Blue Star is more about gourmet flavors and ingredients. At Voodoo, I had a “no-name”, which is smothered with chocolate, rice crispies, and peanut butter sauce. It was ridiculous, and also ridiculously filling. At Blue Star I ended up choosing the Coffee Coconut Cheesecake and Will had the Blueberry Bourbon Basil. Both were delicious, but I must say I preferred Will’s over mine, and I’d probably try something different next time!

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Doughnuts from Voodoo and Blue Star (description). Bottom left is Will and his Voodoo “doughnut” that was actually bigger than his head..¬†

Le Pigeon.¬†One of the best dinners we ate on the trip was at Le Pigeon. We sat up at the chef’s counter, which I love doing because I love watching everything that goes down in the kitchen. Anyway, the highlight of that meal was actually the pigeon breast starter that we ordered — I had never had pigeon before, and never intended to, but it was absolutely wonderful! Not too gamey, in fact to me it tasted more like filet mignon than poultry, which was a pleasant surprise. I also ordered lamb shoulder for my entree, and we finished with a decadent flourless chocolate cake for dessert. We left stuffed and happy that night for sure!

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Food Trucks.¬†The food truck/cart scene in Portland is out of this world. Sure, in Boston the food truck world is growing, but it Portland it just seems to be a part of their culture. We happened upon so many little “villages” of food cards with open seating areas, they were just everywhere, and they all serve amazing food! It was often hard to choose between them, and we definitely made some good choices when we chose to hit up the food carts instead of traditional restaurants for a few meals. One of my favorites (and one of my favorite things we ate in Portland overall!) was Fried Egg I’m In Love. All I had was a breakfast sandwich, but it was a darn good breakfast sandwich, probably one of the best I’ve ever had.

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My FEIIL breakfast sandwich, and another food cart “village”, with some delicious Korean/Mexican fusion.¬†

Salt And Straw.¬†I’m a bit of an ice cream fanatic, so whenever we travel we try to find the best ice cream in the city. We found it here, and we loved it so much we came back a second time before we left (and we were only there for 4 days, so that should tell you something)! Salt and Straw makes gourmet, unique ice cream flavors with local organic ingredients. If you go there, expect a line down the block, but don’t let that deter you because it is well worth the wait!

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Everything Else

As I’ve said a thousand times already, I fell in love with Portland instantly. We stayed on the southeast side of the city, in the Buckman neighborhood, and it was perfect. Wandering through our neighborhood and others, and venturing into downtown, I felt comfortable and at home everywhere we went.

Home to an amazing array of coffee roasters and breweries, Portland also had something to offer no matter what mood we were in. We made it to about 1297 coffee houses (give or take a few), two breweries, two cider houses, and the coolest little smoothie shack where I blended the smoothie using the pedal power of a bike. How cool is that?

The city was extremely walkable, in fact we only ended up taking public transportation once the entire time. The rest of the time we walked (and boy, did we walk!). It was an amazing city over all, and I would go back there in a heart beat. In fact, we both agreed that it is somewhere we could definitely move — it’s just that whole pesky moving clear across the country thing that would stop us.

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Samplers from Reverend Nats (If you like cider and you visit Portland…GO HERE!!!), Storm Breaker Brewery and Deschutes Brewery¬†

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A delicious meal at Pok Pok, an incredible and authentic  little Thai restaurant. 

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Probably the weirdest thing we ate on the trip. Sea Urchin Creme¬†Br√Ľl√©e at Bamboo Sushi. Dinner here was amazing… this dessert… not so much. Will loved it, but I couldn’t get past the¬†first bite!¬†

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And the coffee… There was a LOT of coffee. ūüôā¬†

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A few scenes from our hike to Multnomah Falls, and a little bit of the hiking trail beyond the falls, which was breathtakingly gorgeous. 

Readers: Have you ever been to Portland, OR? If you live in Portland or have been there, what are some of your favorite restaurants? And most importantly, Blue Star or Voodoo?

Life Lately: Fitness, Food, and Fun

Hi all!¬†I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Mine was so relaxing and reminded me why I someday might want a job where I don’t work every single weekend. Throughout the school year I work almost every Saturday and sometimes Sunday, so for the last couple of weeks go have the entire weekends off I feel like a new human!

With¬†Will and I both off, we were able to spend the entire weekend just doing whatever we wanted (which never happens). We went to the extremely interesting Brimfield Antique Fair with a good friend — we’ve been antiquing lately looking for some unique decor for our new porch, and we had some great finds¬†this weekend! I was also able to¬†go see Pitch Perfect 2 (Loved it — Fat Amy is hilarious as always!) and spent yesterday afternoon lounging with some great friends and their most beautiful baby boy. We spent the afternoon just lounging around¬†on Castle Island, a little beachy oasis right here in Boston, and it was just such a perfect afternoon — I wish we could do that all the time!

Don’t you love it when a weekend is so relaxing it feels like a mini vacation? And now, on to the usual Life Lately topics:

Workouts Lately

My workouts lately have been fabulous, I’m not going to lie. I’ve got myself in a pretty good routine of spin 1-2 times per week (once at Turnstyle cycle and once on my own at the gym), lifting 2-3/week, and running 1-2x/week. My typical week lately has looked something like this:

Sunday: Run, 4-5 miles

Monday: Spin @ Turnstyle Cycle

Tuesday: Light run and full body lift

Wednesday: Stadiums

Thursday: Off

Friday: Full body lift

Saturday Off

It’s kind of a lot of cardio for me, but I’m really loving Spin lately, and I always find myself doing more cardio in the summer anyway — better weather means I just want to be outside as much as possible! There are certainly variations, and some weeks I lift more than others, but as I mentioned recently, I’ve really kind of found peace with not lifting all the time.

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I’ve finally come to the realization that fitness is not all-or-nothing in one category, that it’s ok (and fun!) to incorporate different forms of fitness into your routine. I’m not a running fanatic, but I do enjoy it a couple of times per week, so hey! I’ll keep it up until I no longer enjoy it. Life is too short to just do what you think you’re “supposed to” do. You’ve gotta do what makes you happy and what makes you feel good (while still being a responsible adult, eh?)

Food Lately:

For some reason recently I’ve been obsessed with falafel and hummus. Put the word “mediterranean” in front of anything on a menu and I’ll likely order it! I’ve been making a lot of mediterranean salads at home with spinach, bell peppers, feta, hummus, and falafel (pre-made from Whole Foods), and that has been my go-to lunch lately.

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Is it any surprise that I’ve also been craving ice cream like nobody’s business? I guess that just comes with the changing of the seasons, but self control is in full effect these days! If I had ice cream every time I wanted it, things wouldn’t be too pretty right about now. ūüôā

Snacks that I’ve been loving lately are Picky Bars. I found these through a friend on Instagram and decided to give it a go. I really love most of the flavors I’ve tried — my favorites by far are the “Cookie Doughpness” and “All In Almonds”. They are a date base but still have a little bit of sweetener added, and that I don’t love, but all in all they’re a great on-the-go snack and perfect for my more active days. Add in the fact that they get delivered to my doorstep once a month, and I’m sold!

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Life In General Lately:

All in all, life has been pretty darn great lately. My busy time at work has completely come to a halt, giving me more time to focus on just enjoying life for a little while. We’ve been to a couple of really amazing weddings lately for some wonderful friends of ours, and I ¬†recently hosted the super fun NBGNO event here in Boston.

And now, something I’ve been excited about for months is finally here — our trip to the West Coast! We’re leaving tomorrow for Portland, OR and San Francisco, and I can not wait. I’ve wanted to go to both of these cities forever, it’s going to be a great trip. If you’re from either of those areas, please let me know some killer food suggestions! I’m sure we’ll be spending the good majority of our trip eating, per usual, so we’re open to lots of good suggestions. Follow me on Instagram (stephdrondeau) for the good eats and awesome sights of the trip.

And don’t forget to check out the Group Fitness tab above. If you’re in the area, I’d love to have you join me for a Rondeau Group Fitness workout (or two, or all summer long!).

Alrighty kids, what’s going on in your life right now? Any good suggestions for Portland or San Francisco?

Vacation Workout Quickies

If you are a fellow Bostonian, can I get a HELL YEAH for the weather this week? Finally some sun, temps into the 40s and 50s, and a reassurance that we may get out of this winter alive (and sane) after all. I know I can’t be the only one who has been basking in the sun for the last few days. I’ve made a point to get off the train a couple stops early just to walk more, and even made it out for a beautiful 4 mile run along the Charles River on Wednesday. Since I hadn’t run outside since the fall, I wasn’t sure how things would go for these old legs. But honestly I think the pure joy of sunlight took over, and it was a pretty blissful experience! The juxtaposition of the snowy views and the warm sun on my back didn’t hurt either. There really is a lot of beauty in our daily lives that we can miss if we’re not paying attention!

Ok, off my little Vitamin-D filled soapbox about appreciating the little things. Today’s post is inspired by the fact that although the warmer temps and sun this week have been encouraging, I’m well aware that we’re not in the clear yet. It’s only the beginning of March, and I’m sure Mother Nature has her own ideas about when she’ll actually let us fully thaw for spring.

Because we’ve still got some cold to go,¬†most people I know are either in the middle of or planning a tropical vacation right about now, hence why today I’m giving you a couple of workout quickies. I know that when I’m on vacation, I still like to get a good sweat going on most days, but I don’t want to spend all of my time in the gym when I could be enjoying the beach. So whether you’re heading to a tropical resort, or just looking for a couple quick workouts for some busy days, here you go!

These are actually two quick workout circuits that I did while on my Honeymoon in December. This view from the resort gym made it easy to get things done, but all in all each of these will only take 20-30 minutes, depending on how tough you make them. The other good thing is that they both require very little equipment, just a treadmill for one and a dumbbell or kettelbell for the other. So even if your resort gym (or home gym) isn’t fully equipped, you can still get some good work in!

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Just to be clear, you are first completing 10 reps of the burpees and squats, then 9, then 8, and on all the way to 1 each. As the graphic says, try to take as little rest as possible and complete this for time. To make this workout harder, start the pyramid at 15 instead of 10 — this sounds a lot easier than it actually is if you’re working hard! Additionally, use a little bit more weight on your goblet squats if you want more of a challenge, or make the push-ups traditional, and not incline.

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As much as I don’t love treadmill work, I actually really loved doing this workout. Make sure you get a good warm up in before your sprints though, in order to avoid muscle strains or other injury. Make sure to go all out on the incline sprints, and set the incline at a level that is challenging for you. I think I did these at a 10% incline. In the “recover” aspect of the treadmill work, you are simply standing on the sides of the treadmill, NOT incline walking. If you are not accustomed to treadmill intervals in this manner, be very careful getting on and off the belt — use the hand rails!

The floor work is pretty self explanatory. To make this workout harder, take only 1 min rest between the treadmill and floor sessions. To make it easier, take 3-5 min rest.

Readers: Do any of you have tropical vacations coming up? What types of workouts do you typically do on vacation? 

Healthy While Honeymooning

I’m just going to start this off by saying that the best way to ruin a perfectly good vacation is by stressing about¬†staying healthy during your vacation. It’s pretty simple. I am a strong believer that vacation is a time to relax and enjoy yourself, sample local cuisine, and “refresh” mentally, and I can’t think of a better way to ruin all of that than to worry the entire time about calories, macros, and diets. I recently read a blog post, which I won’t link to, where the author described her latest trip to Italy, and how strictly she counted (and restricted) carbs during her time there.

I’m sorry, what?

I’m pretty sure that when I was in Italy years ago, I ate almost exclusively bread, pasta, pizza and gelato. And there was absolutely nothing wrong with that — who goes to Italy and skips out on the home made pasta, anyway? My point being, vacation is not a time to restrict and to stress about all of that. That’s not to say that it’s a time to be a glutton and stuff yourself to the gills every day, but there’s a lot of wiggle room between those two ends of the health spectrum.

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As I mentioned last week, Will and I just recently got back from our Honeymoon in Mexico (hence the blog absence lately). We were just outside of Playa del Carmen, at the gorgeous Valentin Imperial Maya resort, and it was true paradise. The grounds of the resort were beautiful, the beach and pool were incredible, and the food/drinks/entertainment at the resort were greatРI would go back there in a heartbeat!

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Going into the trip, I had no strict plan on how to “eat healthy” or how to keep up my healthy lifestyle. Sure, I brought workout clothes, but I didn’t have a set of rules about what types of foods I would stick to, or how many times I would work out. I just wanted to go and enjoy myself.

As it turned out, I ate a lot. I ate a lot of carbs, a lot of chips and guacamole, a lot of delicious desserts, and I also had my fair share of adult beverages (because‚Ķ tequila). And you know what I didn’t think, not even once? About how many carbs I had been eating.¬†¬†I was able to get in about 3 pretty good (but quick) workouts, and just because of the nature of the resort and how we spent our days, was taking upwards of 15,000-20,000 steps most days (these get tracked on my phone automatically).

But if we’re here to talk about staying healthy, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Despite all that I ate and drank, I did not gain any weight on this vacation. I attribute this to a couple of things: I’m pretty good at knowing my limits, and lack of stress, baby.

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As far as limits go, sure, there were a few times where I stuffed myself silly — for instance, the night that we stopped at this amazing little restaurant in Playa for just a drink, and ended up having several drinks, tons of chips and guacamole, and the most amazing thing ever — roasted grasshoppers! (More on that later). When we got back to the resort that night, I was so full it was uncomfortable, and that’s something I generally try to avoid in my daily life (usually a good goal). However, that day we had walked a ton, and I had kept my breakfast and lunch pretty light. I’m sure it didn’t balance out perfectly, but there was a constant ebb and flow of indulgence throughout the week instead of stuffing myself every time I sat down to eat.

Breakfasts were usually yogurt with fruit and granola, lunch at the resort was usually a salad or a couple of chicken fajitas. Dinner was where I had my splurges, and trust me, there were plenty. Desserts were plentiful, multiple glasses of wine were had every night, and there were usually multiple courses involved in meals. But like I said before, I know my limits when it comes to food, and was so invested in enjoying¬†food, drinks, and experiences, that I wasn’t eating just to eat. I was trying new foods, eating the ones that I truly loved, and leaving the ones that were just so-so. I was moving a lot, but I think more importantly, I wasn’t stressing out about, well, anything.

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Mmmmmm Sangria…¬†

Stress affects your body in a lot of ways, some good, but too much stress can be severely detrimental when it comes to your body’s natural homeostasis and metabolism. ¬†Not only does stress affect us mentally, but it is also a physical bully. Sleep problems, metabolism problems, blood sugar problems — when it comes to health, too much stress is never your friend. So please tell me why I would ruin my perfectly good vacation by stressing out both mentally and physically about carbs, calories, and macros? By focusing on just being free and enjoying every moment of our trip, I was able to stay in a healthy place. And I really believe that the lack of stress played a huge part of that, despite my food and drink indulgences.

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And besides, even if I had gained a couple of pounds on the trip, every thing would still be worth it. Every morsel I ate, every ounce of tropical cocktails and tequila, every moment spent basking in the sun aside the Caribbean Sea. Life is about experiences and joy, not just about calories and diets.

For instance, lets talk about those grasshoppers that I mentioned above. That was an experience I’ll never forget — and let me tell you, despite how they look, they were absolutely delicious. We actually went back the very next night for more roasted grasshoppers, that’s how good they were! And besides that tasty new food, I also ate a ton of guacamole on the trip (the best guac I’ve ever had in my life), endless tortilla chips, and some absolutely amazing pork and chorizo tacos.

I love to try local cuisine when I travel, and when doing that, any food “rules” or guidelines go straight out the window for me. If I had tried to stick to salads and “healthy” foods all week, I would have missed out on so much deliciousness, and also so much of the culture, in my opinion. To each his own when it comes to travel, but I’l take experiences and culture over diet rules any day. Soon I’ll be putting together a post with a lot of the amazing food we ate and also the workouts I did while there. I was going to include that today, but it’s just too much for one post! Here’s a few more pictures though, just because I can’t help sharing ūüôā

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This was taken while wandering around Playa del Carmen 

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Ahhh Paradise… when can I go back?¬†

Readers: Do you follow strict health guidelines while on vacation? Do you have any tips or tricks to staying healthy on vacation? Do you prefer relaxing trips or exploring trips? 

What Happens In Vegas…

… Is a lot of learning and networking…

Right?

Oh, and pool time.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m off to Vegas for the National Athletic Trainers Association annual conference until next Friday.

There’s sure to be a ton of learning, a ton of networking, and also plenty of pool time and other fun. The NATA holds it’s national conference in different cities each year, and this year is the one we’ve all been waiting for since it was announced a few years ago. Vegas! Last year we were in St. Louis, and while I really do love St. Louis, it’s about time for a trip to Las Vegas. I haven’t been there in years, and I can’t wait to get back. There’s something about a city that actively tries to keep you from finding out what time it is…

Anyway, anytime you’re away from home, there are some simple ways to stay sane and (fairly) healthy even while away from your routine. Yes, even in Vegas, it is possible to stay (fairly) healthy, and that is my plan. Hydration, veggies whenever possible, and at least a few light sweat sessions will be musts. But like I said, my goal is to keep this week only fairly healthy, because who goes to Vegas and follows all the rules?

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I’m not even sure there are any rules in Vegas to be honest.

My point is, vacation (even though this isn’t really a vacation) is not a time to stress about rules, calories, macros, and hitting PRs or certain mileage. As long as you keep yourself mostly in check, a few days of relaxed food and exercise “rules”will do you more good than you realize. It’s one thing to maintain a mostly healthy lifestyle while on vacation, and it’s another thing completely to obsess over everything concerning nutrition and fitness. Stress is stress, and worrying incessantly about only eating perfectly on your trip or burning enough calories will actually be harmful toward your health goals, not beneficial. The body needs periods of time with low stress, and that includes mental stress as well as physical. So my plan this week is exactly as I outlined above. Get those veggies in, stay hydrated, and work out at least a couple of times. This will ensure I don’t feel like complete crap but doesn’t mean that I’m going to skip the strawberry margarita just because it doesn’t fit into my plan.

Sometimes you just gotta relax and live it up, you know?

Maybe I’ll come back with some knowledge that you all will find interesting. Maybe I’ll put some posts up while I’m gone next week, but really who knows? That would require me writing them today, since the thought of me writing next week while I’m there is just completely ludicrous.

Any-hoo, I’m off to do some learning, networking, and to have a few cocktails by the pool. And I’m going to enjoy every second of it. ¬†Don’t miss me too much!

Have you been to Vegas? What is your favorite thing to do there? Any good book recommendations for my flight?