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? 

Good Eats In Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

I know that people love looking at pictures of food, and trust me, I ate plenty of food while on our trip to Mexico last month! I promised you guys a post with some of the delicious things we ate, so here we go.

As I mentioned before, breakfast and lunch was always at the resort. Since we were staying at an all inclusive resort, we wanted to make the most of what we payed for. We did travel off of the resort several times, but during the day we generally had our meals there. One of the things I thought about going into the trip was whether I would get sick of the food, eating at the same places over and over again. Thankfully, the answer was no! I’m a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast, so that was no problem. And the main restaurant that we chose for lunch each day had so many options that getting tired of them would have taken a long time!

Another thing a lot of people worry about when eating at a resort like this is going overboard. It definitely takes a certain awareness to know your own food limits and not stuff yourself silly when you have endless options available to you at every meal. If you are someone who has problems with portion sizes and self control at meal time, a specific game plan might be a good idea when going into a situation like this. I knew that I would want to keep most of my breakfast and lunch options lighter, especially because I didn’t want to lie around the beach all day with a belly full of heavy food. Most of my “vacation indulgences” happened around dinner, with the exception of the drinks from the swim up bar at the pool, of course 🙂

Breakfast and Lunch:

I’m not a huge hot-breakfast person, so the choices here were easy for me. I generally had a bowl with plain yogurt, fruit and granola, with some bacon on the side. I don’t eat bacon every day in real life, but bacon every day on vacation? Yes please.

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Lunch was often a plate with bunch of random things in some form of a salad, often with grilled veggies on the side as well. Chips and guac somehow ended up on my lunch plate a lot, and once I discovered the chicken fajita station, it was all over. Basically for lunch I ate a lot of jicama, a lot of grilled veggies and grilled pineapple, and a lot of tortillas and chicken.

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Those chicken fajitas… So good and the perfect light but delicious lunch!

Dinner – At The Resort: 

Our dinners at the resort were all delicious! There were several different types of restaurants — Mexican (of course), Italian, Japanese, Indonesian, French, etc. We started the first night with the Mexican restaurant — exhausted and delirious from our travels, this was a wonderful and relaxing dinner. I didn’t get many pictures at the resort restaurants, partially because lighting wasn’t great for photos, and partially because I was just trying to enjoy everything, not worry about photos of food.

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Waiting for our table at dinner the first night… The only picture I took at that meal!

We also ended up having great dinners at the Japanese and French restaurants — and believe it or not, the French was probably the best dinner we had at the resort! It also happens to be the one I got the most pictures of. The food was beautiful as well as delicious, and believe me when I say we ordered a true 5-course meal here.

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Mushroom mousse on a crostini, stuffed sea shells, french onion soup, and filet with potatoes. 

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And of course we finished this meal with a flaming dessert! (Baked Alaska)

Off The Resort – 

Even though we were staying at an all-inclusive resort, and could have truly had 100% of our vacation food and drink paid for, we wanted to go into town to have some authentic, local Mexican food. We went into Playa Del Carmen 3 separate times, always coming back stuffed and happy!

The first time we went into town, our food mission was tacos. When in Mexico, right? But we didn’t want some americanized tacos that we could get at home, we wanted some true, authentic Mexican tacos. We decided to go away from the super touristy area in order to really get an authentic food experience. We ended up at a little street-side place called El Fogon, and we knew we were at exactly the type of place we wanted when there was no English on the menu — or anywhere for that matter! I ended up getting a delicious Sangria, along with 2 chorizo and one pork taco.

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That’s the pork that was being roasted by the brick oven fire behind it– YUM! 

The great thing about tacos there is that they are not covered in all sorts of things to create different flavors, they really let the meat speak for itself. There were no extras needed — no lettuce, sour cream, etc. All I put on these was a little bit of extra salsa, and they were absolutely amazing.

A couple nights later, we went back into town with the goal of getting dinner at a small Venezuelan restaurant, Kaxapa Factory, for some Arepas (we both love arepas). We ended up making a pit stop before dinner at a small restaurant/bar called La Perla for a drink, but when we saw Roasted Grasshoppers on the menu, we couldn’t resist a “snack” before dinner.

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Mezcal… Mmmmmm 

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We ended ordering a bowl of the grasshoppers by themselves, which came served with cactus, and then a bowl of grasshoppers over guacamole with chips.

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I know, I know, the grasshoppers look pretty atrocious. And the first bite for me was pretty difficult to get over the mental aspect. But believe me when I say that first bite was amazing! They really are just a tangy, salty, crunchy snack — and mixed in with the guac they were even better. We ended up eating all of both bowls of grasshoppers, plus the complimentary bowl of chips and salsa that we got at the bar. Oops, so much for just a snack!

Honestly though, the grasshoppers were so good we even ended going back a second night to get more of them! We also ate a full dinner there on the second night, which was just as delicious. Unfortunately, I didn’t get photos of our meal the second night because it was just too dark in there. It did include more grasshoppers, stuffed chiles, squash blossoms, and some other new-to-us foods!

We did finally end up making it to the Venezuelan restaurant after we left Perla and the grasshoppers on the first night. The food here was great too, although by that point, we were too full to enjoy it as much as we should have. We still wanted to try a few things, and the waitress and her father, who owned the place, were just delightful. It was so hard to say no when they kept trying to feed us more food! Hence the reason why we both ended up over-stuffed and uncomfortable that night, but for all that amazing food, I’d say it was worth it.

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Arepa con pollo and queso (chicken and cheese). If you’ve never tried Arepas before — put them on your list! 

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This was very good too and I wish I remember what it was called. It was basically a “sandwich” where the “bread” was made out of mashed plantains. We were so full, but had I been hungry I would have been all over this! 

Overall, the food in Playa del Carmen was wonderful. I was so happy that we got to try some authentic Mexican food off the resort, and I was also happy to be able to try some very new-to-me foods! One of my favorite things (besides the grasshoppers of course) was a little snack we bought while walking in town one day. It was called a Rollito, and was basically a very lightly sweet, airy dough formed into cylinder, and coated with cinnamon sugar or coconut. We chose coconut of course! This thing was so good — especially when eaten alongside some cappuccinos.

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Readers: What’s the best “strange” food you’ve eaten on vacation? Have you ever had roasted grasshoppers — do you think you could try them? Are you an adventurous eater when you are in a new culture, or do you stick to your favorites? 

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 great– I 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… 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 🙂

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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? 

A Wedding, A Minimoon, and A Hike

Hello everyone! I’m back! My brain is back, my sanity is back, my attention is back… but now I have a new last name 🙂

For those of you who were wondering, our wedding weekend was absolutely amazing. Everything went off without a hitch, and I couldn’t have had a better time with all of our wonderful friends and family. The rehearsal dinner on Friday evening was wonderful, and was such a good way for our families to mingle a little bit before the big day — our families hadn’t spent too much time together before so it was nice to let them get to know each other a little bit better.

bridesmaidsMy beautiful bridesmaids at the rehearsal! 

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Will and I walking to the rehearsal..  

And the wedding.. Oh my goodness, perfect doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about that day. I’ll do an actual wedding recap post when we get the professional photos back from the photographer, but until then, just know that it couldn’t have been better. There were no issues, no drama, just a gathering of amazing people for a beautiful, heartfelt ceremony and one hell of a party afterward. I swear, I honestly took about a week to recover from that day — the wedding was on a Saturday, and it wasn’t until the following Friday that I actually felt rested, awake, and recovered! I think that’s a sign of a pretty good party — and also a sign that my stress levels were so high going into it that some R&R was definitely necessary.

And boy did we ever get some R&R! After the wedding, Will and I headed up to Bar Harbor, ME for our “mini moon” (we’ll be doing a honeymoon in December). We stayed up there for a few days, just enough to relax and decompress after the wedding weekend, and I’m so glad that that’s where we chose to go. The weather wasn’t perfect (rain for 2 full days), but I think that was honestly a good thing, because it almost forced us to spend time just relaxing instead of “go-go-going” to try to see all that Bar Harbor has to offer in our time there. We did get to see some great sites, go on an awesome hike, and eat tons of delicious food, but we also spent a whole lot of time just sitting on the porch of our B&B reading books, drinking coffee and tea, and eating homemade cookies. Can’t beat that 🙂 And we did get a full sunny day at the end to explore Acadia National Park, which was gorgeous and I can’t wait to go back!

The hike we did while there was pretty awesome, and we chose it off of a recommendation of two of our friends who had just been to the area. Because of the stormy weather, we wanted something relatively quick but also a trail that would still be a little interesting. We ended up doing the Ladder Trail up Dorr Mountain and then across the ridge to neighboring Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the eastern coast. The hike itself was pretty much a straight shot up the side of the mountain, with a few ladders (hence the name) to assist on some of the steep scrambles. Thank God for those, because the rocks were pretty slippery that day, and we never would have been able to make it up -or down-  without those (wobbly) ladders. The hike itself was really awesome and we had a ton of fun, but unfortunately the view at the top was lackluster because of the weather. All we could see was fog, fog, and more fog, although there was something kind of cool/eerie about being on top of a mountain that you know is surrounded by the ocean and not being able to see a thing! The funny thing was when we went back up to the top of Cadillac on Thursday and saw the view we had been missing, it was a simply breathtaking view of the ocean and surrounding islands — I could have just sat there and stared all day.

All in all though, it was a great afternoon hike, about 3 miles round trip, and just enough of a workout to keep us both happy. If you’re in Bar Harbor and are looking for a shorter hike to the top of Cadillac, but one that will still give you a decent burn, I would definitely recommend this trail! And if you did it on a clear day, I hear the views are amazing the whole way up, not just at the summit.

I’ll leave you guys with some pics of the hike, since this blog IS about exercise after all! I’ll be back later this week with a recap of all of the amazing food we ate on the trip — hint hint, there was a whole lot of lobster! And then after that, I’ll get back to actual fitness/nutrition blogging, I promise 😉

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Wobbly ladders along the slippery rocks! 

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This should have been a gorgeous view beyond that tree.. instead it was a whole lot of fog! 

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Getting closer to the summit… very very windy up here! 

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Summit! No view of the ocean, but we had fun anyway 🙂 

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My new husband on our stormy hike! 

Readers: Have you ever been to Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park in Maine? Have you ever hiked Cadillac Mountain? What’s your favorite way to pass a rainy vacation day?

 

 

Trip Recap #2: Barcelona

Hola Amigos! It’s now time for the second half of my trip recap: Barcelona.

Similar to my last post, I’ll give you some food photos, some fun pics, and then a few thoughts and observations from my 3 days in Barcelona. This time though, at the request of some of my awesome readers, I’m giving you a few more food pics.. And while I guess this isn’t a traditional What I Ate Wednesday post, it’ll do for now. With my own little spin, I present to you What I Ate Wednesday… on my trip! Ready?

Just like in Paris, there was certainly an overabundance of cappuccino involved in Barcelona, and each place was even better than the last:

This was at a little cafe near our hotel (Hotel Guillermo Tell), that we returned to several times. Perfection! 

And then, of course, how can you go to Barcelona and not have Churros…

Health food they are not, but when served with a mug of warm, gourmet chocolate for dipping, how can you resist?

And then there was my adventurous Tapas meal…

Traditional Catalano sausage (and blood sausage). Not my cup of tea, but hey, at least I tried it! 

Grilled squid… Actually quite good, once you get past the texture. 

Potato Meat Balls… Delish! 

A delicious goat cheese and tomato salad. 

One of my favorite things that we had several times was the Tomato Bread:

Simple, but mouth-wateringly delicious. Served here alongside a spinach and goat cheese salad (can you tell I kind of have a thing for goat cheese?) 

A little “Meat Pie” I got from a sidewalk cafe:

This was beef covered with olives, onions, a layer of potato, and then a very thin layer of cheese on top. Kind of like a Shepherds Pie, but with a little twist! 
On our last night there, we waited a little bit too long to start looking for dinner, so in my beginning stages of extreme-hunger-rage (EHR…It’s real), I decided on a meal that I was more familiar with:

But it didn’t disappoint! Wonderfullly cooked salmon with a side of steamed veggies…I was craving veggies so much at that point I’m pretty sure I inhaled them 🙂  This was also served with a side of Tomato Bread…I couldn’t resist! 

And of course, let’s not forget to mention the main course of the trip: Sangria!

We sat in this courtyard drinking this little pitcher of sangria for about 2 hours on our first night there, while listening to music and people-watching. I couldn’t have asked for anything better!  We actually loved it so much we went back for more on our last night. Perfect end to the trip. 

Now that I’ve made some of you drool a little bit (come on, even if those grilled squid didn’t  strike your fancy, I know you can’t resist All of this goodness), let’s chat a little bit about what I learned in Barcelona.  First of all, I’m not even positive that I can actually put what I learned there into words, but I’ll give it a good shot for you fine folks 🙂

  • Smile: Honestly, people in Barcelona seemed so happy as a whole. We saw mini parades, music troupes, street musicians, and everyone seemed like they were celebrating something. From tourists, to locals, to foreign shop keepers, it was tough to find someone having a bad day! That’s a little bit more than I can say for the stereotypical New Englander who is too busy rushing everywhere to stop and give out a few smiles. So slow down there, and show someone your pearly whites why don’t ya!
  • We Don’t Need To Eat So Much: Ok, I didn’t actually learn this there, but the observation deserves a little attention here. Every time we went out to eat, no matter the type of restaurant, we were both given the perfect amount of food to satisfy us. No heaping portions, no giant plates, no meals big enough to feed a whole family. It also bears mentioning that it was extremely difficult to find overweight and obese locals… Maybe it’s because people over there haven’t grown accustomed to the giant serving sizes we see in America, therefore they actually stop eating when they are satisfied?
  • Churros look really funny but they taste like a dream. ’nuff said.
  • Brighten Up! If there is one thing Barcelona isn’t, that is drab. The city is full of color everywhere – on clothing, art, buildings — Everywhere! Sure, Gaudi had a lot to do with that, as his colorful (and beautiful) buildings and mosaics are sprinkled throughout the city, but there’s also more to it. Beyond the bright colors everywhere, the people of Barcelona exude a certain sense of happiness, brightness, pride and celebration that I haven’t seen before. It’s not difficult to walk around that city and find something of exquisite beauty, but beyond that it’s also very common to find people singing, dancing, and enjoying life. How awesome is that?
  • To be so awesome, you must never sleep: Seriously. I don’t know when people in Barcelona sleep. They don’t go to dinner until 11 pm, even on weeknights, and then they stay out until the wee hours of the morning on a regular basis. Even the night we walked back home at 3:30 am the streets were still packed with people. When do they sleep? And is not sleeping really the key to all that happiness?
  • Enjoy the moment: As I mentioned in my last post, I noticed that people over there seem to take a little bit more time to enjoy the smaller moments throughout the day. I tried to do this as much as possible while I was there — just sitting and letting everything soak in instead of worrying about what I was going to do next. This is something that we can all try to do more of in our daily lives I think. If you’re always looking towards the next thing, you may miss what’s right in front of you. Just soak it up!

Enjoying the view and the beauty of Guell Parc from this beautiful Mosaic Bench that Gaudi built 

Another Gaudi structure, this one right downtown. The colors and shapes are breathtaking in person! 

Enjoying some of that delicious Sangria! 

To wrap this up, traveling can be life changing if you let it. Even if it’s just a quick trip like the one I just took, immersing yourself in new cultures, eating new foods, speaking or listening to new languages, and trusting yourself to find your way around a new and unfamiliar place can all change you, even if just a little bit. I know I’ll savor this trip forever, and I’ll think of these memories and images often. And I know, without a doubt, I’ll be back.

Where is your favorite place you’ve travelled?

Food, Photos, and What I Learned In Paris

Bon jour!

I have finally had time to reorganize and resettle after returning from my trip a week ago! I finally got 100% unpacked, put everything away, uploaded photos, and have had a few minutes to sit and reflect on the trip. So what I’m going to give you over the next couple of posts are food pictures, some fun pictures, and also a little bit about what I learned in each city I visited.

I truly believe that every time you travel someplace where the customs are so different from what you’re used to, you learn things without even trying. (And if you don’t learn anything, maybe you just need to pay a little bit closer attention to your surroundings).

With that being said, let me begin by taking you on a mini-food tour of my three days in Paris…

First, there were the crepes:

The first morning there, I had a lovely crepe with ham, cheese, and a runny egg. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of that one, but this one with Nutella and Banana is a pretty good substitute! 

There was also quite a bit of cappuccino and espresso involved…

Sitting and enjoying these at little sidewalk cafes was most certainly one of my favorite parts of the trip! 

And then of course, the pastries:

A delicious, delectable, chocolate croissant

A lemon tart pastry… also known as a little piece of heaven. 

And yes, in between all of these sweets, carbs, and caffeine, I did enjoy some real meals as well:

Our picnic dinner beneath the Eiffel Tower on the last night. I was craving veggies at that point, so I picked up a little carrot-slaw to accompany my fresh baguette, goat cheese, and champagne 🙂 

Goat cheese, fresh mint, and a drizzle of honey in a pastry shell, accompanied by a small arugula salad. So simple, yet this was probably my favorite thing that I ate during the entire trip. 

There were other meals too, but I’m sure you guys don’t want to see every single thing I ate for a week (that would get a little boring, no?)

Beautiful sculptures inside the Louvre. 

Now on to the other part of this post: What did I learn from the French?

This one is easy, and is something that you can probably gather from all of the food pictures.  And it’s actually rather simple:

Indulge, enjoy, and savor (life). 

On the surface, this applies to food (bread, wine, cheese and pastries in particular), but it also goes a lot deeper than that (more on that in a second). In essence, it’s ok to indulge in decadent foods and savor every bit of it. The french eat bread like it’s their job. They walk through the streets carrying baguettes home to share with their friends and families for dinner. They savor a meal with friends, enjoying not only the food, but the company and the experience of it all. They have picnics beneath the twinkling Eiffel Tower at 10 pm on a weeknight, and they sit at sidewalk cafes taking an hour to enjoy a tiny cup of espresso.  There are lines out the door of pastry shops during lunch time; young professionals in suits lining up for an eclair (yes, really).

 But beyond the food, they seem to savor the experiences that go with it. There aren’t a whole lot of paper coffee cups being carried around the streets, nor are there fast food joints at every corner. It’s less about on-the-go, how-fast-can-you-get-where-you’re-going-while-eating-that-bagel, and more about enjoying the moment that you’re in. Doesn’t that seem like a great way to live (and eat)?

I’m not suggesting that we all sit around and eat pastries every day, but I AM saying that when we do eat a pastry, or some fine cheese, or indulge in a little bit too much wine, that we don’t have to beat ourselves up over it. Enjoy the experience you had, linger in the moment, and then move on. It’s really very simple.

And chocolate croissants are delicious. 

Another thing I learned from the Parisians? Always wear your leather jacket and scarf. I swear, even when it was 70 degrees outside, almost everyone was still in their leather jacket and scarf. Tres chic 🙂

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back and drool over that goat cheese/mint/pastry picture. I’ll be back in a couple days with some thoughts and pictures from Barcelona. Enjoy!

I’m Baaaaack!

Well, Hello everyone!!

I’m back from my little jaunt to Europe, and I am definitely not in the swing of normal life yet, so this post will definitely be a quick one.

Lori and I on our last night in Paris 

I flew in on Monday afternoon, and dragged my jet-lagged, half delirious self to work yesterday, so I have not had time yet to upload all of my pictures to share with all of you. Hopefully I will get some time to do that tonight, so I can be back in the next couple of days to show you some of the delicious foods I tried while I was away!

To give you a little sneak peek, let me just tell you that there was an over-abundance of bread,  goat cheese, sangria, and cappuccino involved. And I savored every last crumb, and every last drop of all of it, because there was no use fretting over calories and macros while I was in two of the  most beautiful cities on earth!

There is one thing that I don’t need any pictures of to talk about though. And that is the absolute amazing time I had in both cities! Paris is Paris, and it will always be one of my favorite places in the world. But Barcelona absolutely blew me away. The people were so friendly, so relaxed, so helpful, the scenery was breathtaking, the food and drink were incredible… Just the atmosphere there was indescribable. I have never been to a foreign city where I felt so comfortable, so relaxed. It truly was the type of place I could stay forever!

Enjoying a glass of Sangria at my favorite little outdoor bar patio 

One of the most wonderful things about the trip was being able to just relax and escape from everything. I did not work out at all while I was there, and I consumed more bread and pastries than I have had in a long time. And you know what? I’m absolutely fine. I did not stress about food, and did not stop to think about working out even once.

Sure, I would take stairs instead of escalators, but that’s part of my normal life anyway. We were also walking a ton each day (except for our epic beach day in Barcelona…but that’s another story for another time), so we were active without even trying.  So while I was not working out, and was eating pretty much everything in sight, I also found myself listening to my body better than ever before. I found myself tasting things more than I usually do, and enjoying the experience of the food/drink, such as sitting and enjoying a cup of cappuccino for an hour rather than gulping it down in 5 minutes.

The beauty of Barcelona was that everyone seems to live that way. They seem to just enjoy life and everything that comes with it, which is a lesson that I think we can all stand to learn every once in a while! Instead of worrying about the little things, sometimes it is completely necessary to just slow down and enjoy the present, and to really take in what is going on around you. I found myself just sitting places and trying to soak up every moment, every minute that passed so that I could remember how it felt to be there. How often do you do that in your every day life?

I’m not saying that we all need to sit for an hour with each cup of coffee that we drink, because there’s not always time for that, but there is definitely something to be said for that type of lifestyle. So take a few moments today and enjoy what is going on around you… Notice the sounds, notice the flavors in your next meal, notice your feelings and mundane thoughts. Just be.

It may sound cheesy, but I’ll take cheese over stress any day 🙂