Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Oh.

Does anyone remember me saying I was going to recommit to this blog in 2016? Well, it's August and I haven't posted since January. So that went very well.

I still want to, though. I'm still reading blogs and very tuned in through social media, but I really miss sitting down, putting fingers to keyboard and jotting down some random thoughts. I have recently taken some steps to really get back over here, though, and I'm putting some plans and posts together so that  I can come back strong - not just sporadically posting (like I'm currently doing...).

But hey, while I'm here, why don't I give you a quick rundown of what life has looked like since January?

February

- Went on my first solo work trip to DC. I got to see my best friend and SIL for the weekend before and it was awesome! There was even snow on the ground which is my absolute favorite.


- Got my husband to take a Pure Barre class with me. I truly wish I had picture of him actually doing the workout and constantly telling me "but my body doesn't move like this!" "this isn't fair because you're more flexible".



- The Panthers made it to the Super Bowl! They lost, but it was SUCH a fun season in Charlotte. There was such a crazy energy everywhere you went.


This was the team being welcomed home after the Superbowl!
- Took a trip to Boone with Alyssa and our men! It truly just always feels like home.




March

- Bachelorette Party in Nashville for my dear friend, Maggie. Seriously SO much fun. (Also, she and her now husband started a blog - go read it!)


- Maggie's wedding! What a special couple. I'm so happy we were able to be there to celebrate them.


April

- Kristin came to visit for the weekend and we got to meet her new boyfriend. We approved.


- Ellie turned 1!



- My brother came to visit and we had an awesome Charlotte weekend. Carowinds and the Whitewater Center.



- We did some rooftop yoga at Fahrenheit. And I still found a way to do some Pure Barre.


May

- I had a birthday and my uncle got married at the beach. Three of my four uncles have gotten married in May at the beach over the last 3 years (one of which was on my actual birthday) so we've spent the time with family the last 3 years!


- We lost an amazing man. On May 13, my friend Sam's dad lost his battle with ALS. He truly was one of the strongest people I've ever known and he left this life on his own terms and we all took a Jagerbomb with him just a few hours before he passed. It was such a special moment to be a part of and to witness such an amazing group of friends and family.


- Zuko turned FOUR. Holy crap.


- My best friend came to visit! We've always talked about seeing Kenny Chesney together and when I told her he was coming to Charlotte we planned a trip immediately. It was so amazing to see Kenny together (no rain would stop us!) and then spend the weekend showing them Charlotte and why we love it here so much!


June

- We saw Miranda Lambert and Kip Moore! I am now obsessed with both of them.


- Kristin came back! 



- Christian and I took a vacation. The original plan was Punta Cana, but we weren't able to work it out for this year so we decided on half a week in DC with his best friend and his sister and the last few days of the week at the lake with my family!


July 

- Spent July 4th weekend in Charlottesville with Kristin. I am seriously obsessed with Charlottesville. I would move there in a heartbeat. It's bigger than Boone but has all the charm. And it was in the 60s two of the days I was there which was much needed after all the days we've had around 100 here.


- Celebrated Queens Feast Restaurant Week in Charlotte. We enjoyed two fabulous dinners with awesome friends.


August 

So far, nothing super crazy has been going on. We've had some fun nights with friends and my mom is coming in a couple weeks for a concert/mother daughter weekend. But I'm SO ready for Fall. Charlotte is so freakin' hot that I really can't take it much longer. Hot and muggy are not my friend. Any Northerners looking for roomies? We come bringing a cat who sleeps all day and a dog who is a shadow. Both very sweet and love to snuggle. Let us know!

Hopefully, you'll be seeing me around these parts again soon ;)

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

What to Expect at the Barre

I've talked about Pure Barre a few times on the blog and shared my love of it a few weeks back. If you missed it, check it out here. Today, I want to walk you through what a class will look like and some of the crazy terms you might hear!



Every class is similar in that it follows the same basic format, but you'll be doing different exercises within each set. But, don't believe that just because it's the same general format, doesn't mean it gets any easier. Trust me, it doesn't.

Warm Up. 

Warm up sounds easy right? And you certainly think it might be for the first minute or so because you start by alternating lifting your legs up to chest level, almost as if you're marching and it feels like you might be in an aerobics class. After you finish "marching", it's straight to the floor for an early ab set and sometimes I think the first ab set is harder than the official one at the end of the class! And to top of the warm up, there's a 90 second plank. But, it's never just a plank - there's always some other movements thrown in there to make it more torturous fun.




I'm in the back row with pink pants!
Arms. 

Next up, arms! You'll start off by pushing up from your plank into push up position and then move into side planks on each side. There's a push up set - both standard and on your knees. Please don't think that just because they're "modified pushups", that they're not hard. As with the plank, there's always something fancy to make it burn more!


Once the push up set it done, you get a quick mini stretch before you stand up for weight work. I implore you to start with the 2 pound weights and don't be afraid to drop them if you need to. Some days, I'm able to do the full set no problem, then some days I have to drop them towards the end. Listen to your body BUT don't use it as an excuse. Your goal is to push your muscles to exhaustion!

Thighs. 

This is the part of class where the actual barre comes into play. There are SO many variations that can be done here and they're all going to hurt so good. My biggest piece of advice for thighs is when the teacher says "sink one inch lower" actually sink one inch lower! Take the challenge - I swear your body can do it! You should also always be holding your abs in tight to get the full body work out for the full 55 minutes.



There will be three thigh exercises before you get to move back to the middle of the room for a really good stretch. This is what's going to give you the long, lean legs you're looking for!


Seat. 

Back to the barre you go! (Typically, there are a few times you'll stay in the center, but they're not as common) You'll usually work the right side first and you'll have two exercises and a stretch and then you'll move the left side. Again, there are a ton of variations here which keeps things fun and interesting!


The biggest thing I told Alyssa when she started joining me at the Barre is that you're going to feel it in both sides - that's normal. The stronger you get, the less you'll feel in the other side. If at any time you're standing on one foot (like the picture above) shift your weight into the instep of your foot and you'll release some - not all - of the pressure and finish out strong before the next stretch!


Abs. 

There are two ab sections.. well, three if you count the warm up. The first will be with a mat and you'll stay under the barre. I'll be completely honest - this one took me almost 3 or 4 weeks to fully understand it. It's not the most intuitive exercise, but man does it work when you figure it out. My biggest advice here is to remember that you're focusing on your abs - don't be afraid to lower your leg in order to fully engage your abs.



The second portion will be more what you're used to with different variations of crunches. But, they're different than anything you've done in a standard work out. Always remember to breathe and keep your abs as flat as possible!


I'm on the far left in a blue tank by the barre!

Stretch. 

To finish class, there will be a quick ab stretch (this seriously feels so good at this point), a minute of back work and to finish - back dancing. This is a bridge where you may tuck, pulse or press your knees back.


Finally, it's time to grab your red tube and stretch out all the work you just did! The last 5 minutes are finally my favorite because the stretch feels so amazing and you're so proud of all the hard work you just did!

Now some terms....

Tuck: this is the act of rolling your hip bones towards your ribs. You'll be doing this literally all class. Just assume you're always tucking. And if you go often enough, you'll find yourself tucking in the car, while cooking, folding clothes...

Hold/Freeze: once you're in a position, you will stop in that position for a moment before repeating the movement. EX: "Tuck, hold. Tuck, freeze". They're completely interchangeable and you'll here it all class!

Pulse: pulse is a small movement where you'll move up and down in whatever position you're in - typically to the beat of the music. 

Down an inch, up an inch: this will normally be in thighs, but you will go down just an inch and slowly back up just an inch. Barre is truly about all small movements and an inch is smaller than you think! Concentrate on tiny movements!

Dime sized circle: usually takes place during seat work or abs under the barre - you'll move your leg in the tiniest circle you can imagine. Again, keep it all small!

This month, Pure Barre is doing a "Learn to Barre" month and I literally want every one I know to take advantage of it. See the details here.

And, if you're in the Charlotte area, I adore both the studios I go to: Ballantyne and SouthPark. There's also one in Myers Park, Lake Norman and Fort Mill!

Next week, I already have a post scheduled with all my best tips for a class! Yes, I'm planning in advance.. it's weird ;) 

**All pictures are from Pure Barre Ballantyne or Pure Barre South Park's Facebook pages! 

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Beginner's Guide to Meal Planning

So one week after recommitting to this space, here I am again. I don't know if that's actually the recommitting I meant, but at least it wasn't a month later?

I'm totally blaming this for the reason I've slacked:


She's cute, so it works as an excuse right? Great, thanks.

Today, I have some thoughts to share on meal planning. Let me preface by saying I am in NO way an expert. I literally started meal planning on Sunday. As in 3 days ago, Sunday. But, since I've just started, I have some ideas of what worked well and what I wish I had done differently.. starting with the gash on my thumb - I definitely wish I had done that differently.

But, really. I hope at least a couple of these are helpful to you!

one // Start small.  I was under the impression that I could just jump all in, spend a few hours on Sunday afternoon and have an entire week of 3 meals a day and snacks. I should also place the blame for this on Alyssa... she snapchats me her delicious and healthy meals all day and makes it look so easy. So thanks for that, friend. ;)

This is not the case. I'm slowly working healthier options into our diets, so I started with water prep. I hate drinking water and needed it to taste better so I pre-sliced lemons, limes, and cucumbers so I can throw them in my water bottle on the way out the door! I just use the same fruit all day and each of my bottles still has the great taste! I throw mint in sometimes, too!

Then I prepped breakfast: bananas (obviously, no prep here) and peanut butter English muffins. In the past, I've also pre-made breakfast sandwiches and thrown them in the freezer!

Following breakfast, I prepped snacks: baby carrots, celery, hummus and low fat Triscuits. All I did here was pre-bag snacks so they are easy to grab on the way out the door.

two // Start with the meal that you're the most rushed to make. For me, it's breakfast. I'm notorious for leaving my house the very second I need to leave to be on time for work. When you combine that with the little pup who needs 3 potty breaks a morning and hates going in her crate, I'm running around like a crazy woman in the morning.

So, I need breakfast ready to go the moment I am. By precutting fruit for water, having my peanut butter English muffins bagged up and granola bars or bananas in a basket in the pantry, I can sprint out the door and still have a good, solid breakfast!


three // Freeze smoothies. This comes back to the "meal you're most rushed to make". I've seen posts all over Pinterest about freezing smoothie ingredients and making them on the way out the door. As you read above, that is not feasible for me. I did some more Pinterest digging and found that you can freeze the actual ingredients with the right containers. I used these.


Sunday night, I gathered up my favorite smoothie ingredients and whipped up a few smoothies and threw those babies in the freezer right next to my mint chocolate chip ice cream. Before bed every night, just throw the smoothies in the fridge and they'll be the right consistency by breakfast! If you prefer them for a snack/lunch, pull them out of the freezer in the morning and let them stay room temperature.


four // You don't have to make the same meal all week. I made four servings of rice/black beans/shredded chicken (recipe coming soon - it was delish) - two for Christian and two for me. But, I know myself and if I eat it too many times, I'm going to go to Zaxby's for lunch instead.

So I will be mixing up the same meal. Yesterday, I ate it plain. Today, I'll be adding salsa and avocado. Friday, I'll make more of a buffalo chicken spread for some crackers or a wrap.

five // Don't slice your thumb open. Seriously. I haven't been able to use my thumb for two days. #rookiemove But, really, I got into the groove and just sliced it right on open. I don't suggest it.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Intentions.

GUYS. I wrote this entire post, hit publish and it was gone. GONE. Talk about frustrating. That is not a good omen for the goal I have written below... Oh, well. I'm back and I'm rewriting. So I hope you all enjoy it ;)

I'm not one for resolutions. In school, I set my resolutions with the school years and never followed through. After college, I've just set lose ideas in my head and never followed through with them like "lose weight" or something else random.

But, as the year ended and blogland was all in a tizzy with goals, I got caught up in it and started thinking about 2015 and everything I (and we as a family) accomplished.

Such as:

  • Starting and sticking to a workout. 
  • Changing my work situation for the better. 
  • Traveling more: DC, Charlottesville and Hawaii!
We did plenty of other things too: continued to decorate our house, got a puppy, made new friends, strengthened old friendships and more.

Since I actually got some of my goals accomplished last year, I devicided I might make some real ones this year and try to stick to them. What I've decided, though, is that I can't just jump in all at once. Just like smokers don't usually quit cold turkey (hey, this is a good example because my goals and quitting smoking are both good for you!), there's no need to jump into every goal hard core. I'm certain that I'd fail at them all if I did.

So here we go, 2016:


  • Drink more water. Duh. I think everyone has this goal at some point. But, I work for Coke and it's free to me all day, e'ry day and I love Coke. Needless to say, my water intake is ATROCIOUS. I think my body is 70% Coke, not water. So far, I've been adding lemons, limes, mint and cucumber to make my water tastier and the last few days, I've definitely drank more water and less Coke!
  • Eat better. Again, duh. But, I'm not jumping all in like I mentioned. I'm starting by making my breakfasts and lunches better and working my way up to dinner. Honestly, dinner is usually our healthiest meal, but I do like to cook with heavy creams so I want to cut those out and find ways to make our favorite meals in a healthier version!
  • Stay committed to barre. This will probably be the easiest of my goals, because I'm committed to a year package at my studio that starts February 6! So it's a total waste of money if I get lazy. But, I'd love to one day become a barre instructor, so I need to keep my classes up to 4-6 a week. I average 4 right now, but I'd like to average 5 instead! 
  • Add in some cardio. Hopefully this will be easier, too, because Pure Barre is adding a cardio class called Pure Platform and it looks INTENSE. But, it's built in to the package I have so I've got to go! But, I'd like to add in some hiking with the husband and pup when it warms back up a little. 
  • ROCK this new position at work. I haven't mentioned on the blog (proooobably because I haven't been here in a couple weeks), but I have a new position at work. It's a step up from what I was doing before and I'm SO excited. It's going to be a lot of work and there will be a lot of eyes on me but I'm so excited for the new responsibilities. 
  • Recommit to With a Side of Chocolate. I truly do miss this place. I know that's not obvious, but I do. Anytime I tell myself I want to post and I don't, I beat myself up a little bit. So this year, I'm pledging to post 3 times a week... I have so many ideas written down and they just haven't made it onto paper computer screen. 
  • Play with makeup more. This one is so silly, but I'm putting it out there. Make up can be so fun, yet I wear the same thing every day. The few times I throw on some lipstick or thicken up my eyeliner a bit, I get compliments. And who doesn't love compliments? Something so simple can give you a total mood boost and who doesn't want to have their mood boosted? Plus, it's a confidence builder and you feel infinitely more pulled together with a winged liner or red lip and this new position is going to require some confidence I may not actually have quite yet. 
So there you have it, my 2016 goals. There are some mini goals built into some of these bigger goals that will help my accomplish them, but I won't bore you with those. Hey, there's no pictures (blogging no no!) so who even knows how far you got? ;) If you did get this far, what are your goals for this year? Any advice on how I can accomplish mine?



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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Pure Barre Obsession.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 8:30am.


That's when the Pure Barre obsession began. 

And, it only took about a week before you all started seeing Instagram posts like this. 


My love for Pure Barre was immediate and shocking to me. 

In high school, I was a competitive cheerleader. This involved practicing every night from for 4-5 hours, cheering at football games on Fridays and competing on the weekends. Those practices involved a lot of running and conditioning on top of the regular practicing of tumbling, jumping, stunting and dancing. I was under 5 feet tall and less than 100 pounds until I quit cheering. But, all the forced running and exercise made me hate exercise and everything to do with it. 

In college, my friend Kristin would randomly convince me to go to the gym where I would half heartedly run on an elliptical or we would do yoga classes sporadically. But, I mostly spent college eating and drinking and it finally caught up to me. 

Before the wedding, I even gained more weight. Do I think I looked terrible? Not at all and I understand that I'm "skinny" by America's standard. But, I was unhealthy. The absolute definition of "skinny fat" and something needed to change.

I never had any motivation and I had been looking into barre workouts for awhile because they seemed like something I could do because of my cheerleading background. I was convinced I would be great at it. 

So, one day in February, I bit the bullet and purchased the New Client Special at Pure Barre Ballantyne without having ever taken one class because I was afraid I would back out if I didn't. 


Needless to say, I was hooked. Even if I felt like it kept getting harder instead of easier...


I took as many classes as I could in February in between all the sore muscles and the inability to wear heels because it hurt so badly.


In March, they announced a nationwide challenge of 20 classes in 31 days. And on March 31, I completed my 20 classes - even though I was out of town for two weekends. 

From that point on, I was going to class 4-6 times a week and getting stronger and more obsessed every day. What I love about barre is that any body can do it. Seriously, they can. I do think there's a stigma surrounding it that only "skinny girls" do it and it's a "skinny, rich girl workout" (yes, this has literally been said to me) but there are so many different body types and ages in the class! 

What makes barre so enticing to us all is the fact that it focuses on all those issues us ladies like to complain about - arms, thighs, seat and abs. And literally every muscle in between. Muscles I didn't even know existed are sore! And I've seen so many changes - stronger arms, firmer thighs, an actual seat that you can see, and tighter abs! 


But, and yes, I'm about to get a little cheesy here... Pure Barre has taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to. I CAN hold it a little longer, sink a little lower, sit up a little higher. I never thought I would be obsessed with a workout and upset if I missed a day... but I am and I'm loving every second of it!


I also plan to post more about Pure Barre in the coming weeks - what to expect in a class, the crazy terminology and more! Let me know if you have any specific questions :) 

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