February 3, 2017

5 Fun Things 2.3.17

1. I bought my third prime lens this week: a 24mm f/2.8. I get really excited seeing how different lenses work and the photographs I can make with them. This one will be great for street photography, but I tested it out in the restaurant yesterday. This is our February freak frappe special. Red velvet inside, cheesecake on top, candy galore. It’s a heartbreaker for sure.boston burger company freak frappe red velvet valentine's day

2. Who’s watching the Super Bowl this weekend? Of course I am. My eyes will be glued to Amendola’s and Edelman’s tushies all night, no shame. That is, in between eating these 3-Ingredient Cheesy Pizza Pretzels.  VACA DIET STARTS MONDAY. 😛

3. I think, like most people my age, instagram is my favorite social app. I post mostly food photos, with the occasional fitness snap so I don’t look like a total glutton, so if you’re into that…follow me. And here are some tips if you’re just getting started. Introduce yourself if you follow — I’ll follow back!

4. If you are as obsessed with barre as I am (I go 6x/week!), you might like this upper body workout. Resistance bands are my favorite — I picked up a 3-pack at TJ Maxx, but you can also find them here. Even cuter ones here.

5. All my love to you guys. Thanks for following along.


January 31, 2017

Why I Love 30-Day Challenges

For the past few years, I’ve done a ton of mini challenges. Whether it’s for 30 days or longer, I’ve completed a variety of things: fitness challenges, no sugar challenges, Whole30, no caffeine, training for my half marathon, etc. I attribute them to being a huge reason why I’m always so motivated and interested in improving my life for the better. These self-directed projects have always been an effective way to change my behavior or spark some personal growth. And here’s exactly why I love doing them.

  1. It forces me to prioritize. How will I fit this new activity in my life? What things do I need to do first to achieve my goal? This helps me better understand where I have free space in my schedule and how to use that time more effectively.
  2. They create a sense of control. Creating a challenge for yourself builds momentum to create new habits. Say I want to focus on going to the gym for 30 days. While my goal may not be to go every day, I make a clear plan when I am going, and how often. At the end of the 30 days I have created a momentum that is very likely to push me into the next month, even more successful than the last. Perfect example: In December, my barre studio held a challenge that included going to class at least 12+ times. I went 19. Guess what then happened? In January I wanted to go more than 19. I went 23!
  3. They make big goals seem more approachable. In January, how many of us have a lofty goal of working out more? I bet you’re shaking your head in agreement right now. Well, how about not set a year-long goal, but a monthly goal like I mentioned before. 30 days doesn’t seem so bad compared to a year, right? Set it for a month, see how well you do, and improve from there. Again, it creates momentum without being intimidating. A short-term goal is more likely to create a long-term change because you aren’t setting yourself up for failure.
  4. They create structure and standards. When I set a challenge, I have a clear vision of what the expectations are. In January, my coworker Kim and I did one together: no sugar for the entire month. We set the expectation that we would not consume any added sugar the entire month, with the exception of honey and maple syrup. Natural sugars were fine — desserts, obviously, were off limits. We would read all ingredient labels but we wouldn’t panic at the idea that, if, when dining out, a salad dressing or meal might have trace amounts of sugar in it. But the expectations were clear: do not consciously decide to consume any add unnatural sugars.
  5. They go by fast. 30 days seem like a lot when you’re giving up something that you enjoy, even though it may not be a great benefit to your life (ahem, sugar/caffeine/booze). But 30 days out of your life? Psshh that’s nothing. Counting down those 30 days is equally excited as counting UP on the days you’ve been successful. Towards the end of Whole30 as the days left got smaller, what was more important to me was the days I had already completed. It felt so good.
  6. They make a transformation. In addition to creating momentum, mini challenges always positively impact you in some way. Maybe you toned up from extra days at the gym, lost a few pounds from cutting out sugar, or are sleeping better because you nixed your daily coffee fix. Whatever it is, if you’ve created a challenge that you know will truly benefit you, I guarantee you will have changed for the better by the end.

In the past, my mini challenges have been pretty randomly placed. But when Kim and I started off January with our no-sugar challenge, it really got me thinking. Why not do a new challenge every month? Why not focus on improving myself in a new way…12 different times in 2017!  Giving up sugar was a breeze, and at this point, neither of us really have the desire to add it back in. We’re not going to freak out if there’s a small amount in something we eat, but we also don’t have the dessert cravings like we did during the holidays. And that feels awesome!

Because I am still riding out the barre challenge pretty strong, and because I gave something up in January, I wanted to add something positive in for February. I had this discussion with a coworker who is very similar to me in that he is constantly creating goals for himself and our business. He gently reminded me about that time I was going to learn Italian. Oh. Whoops. The answer was clear. Study Italian again! So to set myself up for February, I pulled out my old notebook, flashcards, and bought some SparkNotes cards from the bookstore. Here we go!

Do you create mini challenges for yourself? Any favorites that you’ve done?


January 19, 2017

My Feature in The Kitchn: 6 Ways to Deal with Cravings During Whole30

Hi hi! I’m thrilled to say that my first (and hopefully not only, ha!) article in The Kitchn is live. I was so excited when they asked if I’d contribute to their Whole30 series and I’ve been so anxious to see it go up. You can read my article below, or check out on The Kitchn.


Anytime someone asks me about my Whole30 experience, they always want to know, Was it worth it? Without hesitation I immediately respond, Yes. A month of eating whole, unprocessed foods was life-changing. I firmly believe that doing Whole30 completely transformed my way of eating. I am a much happier, smarter eater after this challenge and I recommend that everyone try it! And that’s not me being dramatic.

On the other hand, I was plenty dramatic during the actual experience. Wait, no sugar? No treats immediately after dinner? But what about my sweet tooth? Why is it aching for dessert that I “need” so badly? What’s going to happen to me?

It wasn’t just sugar cravings either: At times, I found my body craving foods like never before. Sometimes, I craved foods simply out of habit; other times I craved foods I didn’t even usually eat!

The ups and downs caused by the physical changes happening within the first few days caused some serious hanger. I often felt like I was riding an emotional roller coaster. Here’s how I learned to deal.

6 Ways to Deal with Cravings During Whole30

1. Take note of what you’re craving.

Is it something salty? Sweet? Write it down. The best thing I did during Whole30 (besides meal prep like a champ!) was write down everything I ate — everything. While this may seem tedious at first, it’s great to look back on your journal and connect the dots between what you’ve eaten and how you felt. It’s also a great way to review your progress and give yourself a pat on the back.

2. Record when your cravings happen.

Recognize if you crave candy immediately after a meal (a thing for many people), if it comes after several hours of not eating, or whether it’s a certain time of day. After you’ve figured out when your cravings typically hit, make a plan on how to beat them. Realize it’s that 3 p.m. slump? Keep a container of almonds in your desk drawer. Got a hankering for chocolate right after dinner? Go for a brisk walk outside … which brings us to my next point.

3. Get some exercise.

While your body is adjusting to the changes, a session at the gym may seem exhausting. Getting there is half the battle, and once you’ve completed a class or even 30 minutes on the treadmill, you’ll be so glad you did. Exercise is a mental refresh, a way to remind yourself why you decided to do Whole30 in the first place.

4. Keep healthy snacks on hand.

Friends teased me for always having multiple Larabars floating around in my purse. Preparing for situations where I may otherwise make an unhealthy choice is key to staying on track. Aside from Whole30-compliant bars, I also packed homemade trail mixes and fresh fruit with me at all times.

5. Drink a tall glass of water.

Thirst is often confused with hunger. You hear your body saying, “Hi! I need something from you!” And that something is usually water. When you feel an unhealthy craving come on, drink some water and reevaluate how you feel after.

6. Ask others to provide support.

All of my friends, family, and blog readers knew I was doing the Whole30 challenge. This means I had plenty of cheerleaders along the way. If a craving hit, or if I was questioning why-oh-why I had decided to torture myself for 30 days (I kid!), I’d text a friend. I got some pretty great responses (“You’ve got this!” and “Don’t quit now, you’re almost there!”) that helped me stay on track.

Bottom line? Yes, you’ll have cravings. No, you won’t go crazy. Some days will be a breeze, and others you’ll feel like the challenge will never end. But it will. You’ve got this!

January 9, 2017

Working on My Fitness (Wear!)

Activewear just keeps getting cuter and cuter…and yet is still functionable. I’m constantly impressed with the major retailers who design the trendy tanks and tights we wear to work out.

Here are some pieces I’m loving.