Oh the Places You Will Go: Nashville

In a delightfully hasty decision, I booked a ticket to Phoenix by way of Nashville at the end of October.

First I had to drop off little Rigo at the boarders for the week. He was not as excited about his vacation as I was about mine.

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Then, I flew on a red eye to Nashville. Especially for long distances, this is just the way to go. I was worried I’d be wiped and I didn’t sleep a ton on the flight, but I got to my destination ready to party.

Oh, and yes, I went alone – it’s kind of hard to find someone else who can travel during the week with a few days’ notice – yay unemployment.

Why Nashville? Because I’ve always wanted to visit. Spoiler alert, I was right, it was amazing! Here’s the somewhat quick and dirty of my four-day trip.

DAY 1

Breakfast: Puckett’s Grocery
Coffee, coffee, coffee and eggs and such to fuel my busy day.

Nerd alert: Tennessee State Museum and State CapitolIMG_0074[1]

IMG_0076[1]Get your cruise on: Country Music Hall of Fame MuseumIMG_0084[1]

IMG_0085[1]airbnb: East Nash Room
For the first time, I stayed in a “private room” airbnb, meaning sharing a home with the homeowners. It wasn’t as weird as I thought it would be, honestly. My hosts were, of course, super nice and the room was great and it was perfect for mostly just sleeping since that’s really all I needed it for. I was out and about most of the time anyway. (Also, a nice money saver when traveling alone!)

Nashville perk: Sam Hunt street concert
Is this real life? In Nashville it is! The concert was announced for Tuesday (the night before I got in) but moved to Wednesday due to weather! What a charmed life I lead!

Yeah, it was pretty crowded. I got close, but mostly got pictures of other people's pictures.

Yeah, it was pretty crowded. I got close, but mostly got pictures of other people’s pictures.

GNO round 2: John Corbett at City Winery
This was my original plan for the night. Yes, he sings. Yes, he sings country…kinda, it’s kinda like Southern rock. Yes, he’s still sexy. Yes, he’s actually pretty funny. I loved the intimate venue.
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Dinner and bed…I was zonked.

DAY 2

My hosts made coffee and blueberry muffins, which totally saved me from the struggle bus so I could start my day.

Local culture: The Parthenon
Yes, a full-scale replica in the middle of a nice, little park with some history.IMG_0139[1]

Local flavor: Loveless Cafe
Just yum. Like holy shit, but yum.IMG_0160[1]

Nerd alert: Cheekwood Botanical Garden (and art museum)
One of my favorites!

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I took a very important phone call here….couldn’t have asked for a better view!

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Pop culture must do: The Bluebird Cafe
Stood in line for a good chunk of the evening, but loved the intimate show – my favorite of the night was Michaela Anne.

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Local flavor: The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden
I was (kinda) finally hungry again after breakfast and yum! Also, I met not one, but two, bartenders from Washington!

Nashvegas must do: hit the honky tonks, like Tootsies!

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DAY 3

Small town charm: Franklin, Tennessee

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History nerd alert: Carnton Plantation
Another highlight for me!
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Get in my mouth: Red Bull Vodka slushy
Found on tap while afternoon honky tonkin’. Obviously another highlight.

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Dinner #1: Five Points Pizza
Like a snack…don’t judge.

Classic Nashville: Grand Ole Opry
Friday night at the Grand Ole Opry! I saw, among others, Charlie Daniels playing the shit out of his fiddle and Brad Paisley. Brad Paisley! At the Grand Ole Opry!

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Local flavor: Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Hot chicken is a Nashville thing and Hattie B’s is the place according to friendly locals I met. It was good, but after three days of Southern cooking, I should have just tapped out.

DAY 4

Run it off: Shelby Park
Another perk of staying with hosts…finding out about the local running trails!

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IMG_0232[1]Breakfast: Noshville

See ya later from Bicentennial Park
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I loved Nashville! Everyone’s friendly and there’s a great, creative energy all around. Fall is such a gorgeous time of year to be there and and there’s plenty to do no matter what you’re in the mood for. I’m not always big on vacation repeats, but I will definitely go back to Nashville! I’ve hopefully already talked it up enough to my friends that there may be a girls’ trip in the works!

As for traveling alone, I actually liked it a lot. I’m very comfortable on my own and have done business trips and quiet, recharging road trips solo, but this one was bigger and made me somewhat anxious, but yeah, it was great. I wouldn’t say I necessarily prefer it, but given the option to travel or not, I’ll take travel TYVM!

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Oh the Places You Will Go: Seattle

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Seattle and my most recent trip only made that more apparent. I was there for the bachelorette party of a great high school friend who went to UW, so she knew all the ins and outs. We stayed in a cute little house in Capitol Hill that had this hanging in front of the, ahem, porcelain throne: seattle so trips to the loo were quite educational. We hit a bunch of those neighborhoods because the secret is, they’re pretty small and obviously pretty squished together.  Even on my morning runs, I made my way through at least three or four. My friend, April, doesn’t actually live in Seattle anymore, but she loves the city too and has a handful of college friends who do still live there, so it seemed like a pretty great place to party. And by party I mean, I already admitted I was up to run in the mornings (by like 8), so yeah. SeattleOn Friday morning, we started with a short walk to breakfast #1 – eggs, bacon and the like – before heading out to be touristy at Pike’s Market, where we had breakfast #2 – Piroshky’s (pastry), #3 – two doors down at Beecher’s (mac and cheese, which I am quite enjoying here) and #4 – donuts.Seattle Breakfast3

The forecast was calling for a nice day on Friday and cold rain for the rest of the weekend and it was indeed gorgeous, so we went to Alki Beach in West Seattle (new to me) and had a beer at Duke’s across from the beach until we were hungry again and had some clam strips. Seattle Alki Beach Friday night, we got to meet up with some of the other bridesmaids (just the four of us out-of-towners were staying in the house) for tapas, which turned into Mexican. Seattle gets a bad rap for their Mexican, but it seems like if you get to the right neighborhood, there are plenty of trendy foodie places popping up and my carnitas burrito was delicious.Don’t judge but after that, the bride was ready to go home. We had cake waiting from Dilettante and it was a perfect night cap.

Seattle RunEarly bedtime meant I was able to get up and run. I didn’t really have a plan, but soon realized the streets were looking familiar and I was heading back to Pike’s Market, so I might as well keep going to the water, run the stairs and no, surprisingly, I didn’t stop for donuts again. But now I wish I had. It was only five miles round trip. It actually felt like it took less time to run there then drive!
I got back in time to meet the girls at the coffee shop right down the street – Katie’s, adorable – for an Americano and then went to Gas Works Park (another new to me), which had a gorgeous view of the city. Seattle GasworksSeattle View from Gasworks What kind of classy 30-year-old’s bachelorette party would be complete without wine tasting? That was our plan for Saturday. We drove up to Woodinville , starting at Chateau Ste. Michelle. Seattle Winery Lucky for us, not so lucky for her, the matron of honor is pregnant and now I firmly believe that every bachelorette party should come with a built-in DD. We actually paused for lunch and then just hit one more small tasting room before heading home anyway. I was truly among my people. April had actually woken up with a tummy ache (gee, I wonder what it was from?), so we cooled it on the eating three meals for every meal thing. We got a spattering of rain when we were driving back to the house, but it cleared and was still gorgeous.

We went to a cute stone-oven pizzeria, Via Tribunali, for dinner and it was perfect for sharing with a big group and sampling everything, yum! And then, mostly because April was wearing a bachelorette sash, we went to a club. At 9pm. We stayed long enough for it to fill up – with other bachelorettes, way-dressed down kiddos (WTH) and creepy old guys – but they were playing music from the early 2000s, so our inner college girls had a lot of fun!

Seattle Run2The next day, I got another run in. This time I had a plan, I wanted to go to Lake Washington via Madrona. The neighborhoods to get there were adorable. I wasn’t even mad they had a TON of hills! This side has a great view of Bellevue.

Another Katie’s Americano before heading out to meet a big group including spouses and babies for brunch at Cafe Flora. April apologized about 10 times because she didn’t realize it was completely vegetarian. As a former vegetarian, I didn’t really notice, but some of the carnivorous guys were like “babe, we’re stopping somewhere on the way home.”

The forecast was again a lie and it was another gorgeous day in Seattle, so with the whole afternoon to kill before our flights, we hit Golden Gardens Beach. It was actually so warm, I wish I had changed into my bikini or at least shorts, but I had to do with pants and a tank top. I actually got a bit of a sunburn enjoying a beer (shh) on the beach with some new friends and two cute pups. Seattle Beach2A trip to Seattle wouldn’t be complete without seafood, so we stopped at Ivar’s to eat on the patio.  The weather did eventually start  to turn while we were finishing up there and driving to the airport, but it was awesome it stayed so perfect for our weekend – my favorite bachelorette party so far! Can’t wait to see everyone again in a month at the wedding!

Attack of the Holiday Sweets

I’ve officially been at my new job for a month! Time has just flown by!

At first I was very concerned my little Corolla would drive itself back to my old office out of habit, but I’ve more than adjusted to my new drive (it’s just as close) and my new hours.

The thing that hasn’t changed is that around this time of year, the office is filling up with sweets!

treats

On Monday, we received homemade fudge, a Fairytale Brownie assortment box, the biggest box of cookies ever and a very large Russell Stover box. Seriously, the cookie and chocolate boxes were so large they looked like props! And that was just in one day and that is just the beginning of the season! My new real estate team is very well-loved by their clients and the partners we use, so I can only expect more to come pouring in.

On Monday, I did my fair share of sampling, but then I had a CTJ with myself.

If I’m going to make it through the holiday season without actively training for a race, with my new normal of maybe getting to the gym four times a week, and while still trying to reach a small weight loss goal, I’m going to need a better plan than “see what everything tastes like and then check again in a few hours to see if it changed at all.” Yeah, that’s not a good plan.

I started thinking about making a trade-off plan…I eat a cookie, I do 100 jumping jacks; a chocolate equals 30 crunches…but I’m not a big fan of exercise as punishment or trying to figure out exactly what would negate the calories consumed. I saw that in a Tracey Gold movie once, it doesn’t end well. (Um…when did I miss the memo that there are full-length Lifetime movies on YouTube?!)

Instead, I am just going to increase my activity level and eat smarter in ways that still let me enjoy the holidays.

Take my dogs on long walks a few times a week. They need the exercise and the nearby neighborhoods have great Christmas lights!

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Get in a small workout every day. I saw this on the BERRY‘s Daily Motivation the other day and think it’s a great idea so I may just create my own. I caught a few minutes of an infomercial for T25 over the weekend and am reminded that even little things move you toward your goals! I used to hate showering without sweating for the day…time to get back in that habit!

Suck it up and go for a bundled up run every now and then. Note to anywhere north or east of me, it’s not actually cold, just by Arizona standards.

Okay, maybe find a race to train for, even if it’s a medium- to long-term goal. That helps me stay on track more than anything else I’ve found.

Sweat like you mean it once a week. Sometimes working out is just going through the motions, but I’ve decided to sweat like I mean it at least once a week – long hikes/trail runs, back-to-back kickbox or spin and yoga classes on a Saturday morning, long bike rides, bricks, basically anything for longer than my standard 60 minutes.

Crossfit like a badass.

Set up my bike trainer and spin it out while watching a holiday movie. At least part of it before snuggling on the couch!

Work out in the morning whenever possible. Morning workouts always win for me. If I do it before I have time to think about it or come up with excuses. It’s even more important during the holidays when last-minute plans can pop up and my errand list starts to get out of control.

greekcucsTake my lunch to work. If I’m tempted to add a sweet treat to the end, it’s not as damaging to my calorie count for the day. I’ve been doing well with this since I started. It’s been the return of the Greek salad! It’s much easier to just avoid the eating out habit than to start it then try to break it. 

Keep tracking my calories. I’ve been using My Fitness Pal for most of the year now and there are definitely days (like Monday) that I’d like to pretend some of my snacks or meals didn’t happen, but I keep putting them in to keep myself accountable. It helps me balance the rest of my day and also sometimes helps me realize the damage isn’t as bad as I might think it is!

My first steak I cooked myself for steak fajitas after a great gym date!

My first steak I cooked myself for steak fajitas after a great gym date!

Keep planning dinners at home. I generally know when I’ll be partaking in holiday festivities ahead of time, so I don’t have to plan meals for those nights, but on the other days I can put a little effort out to cook something good at home to make up for it! Bonus points when I use my slow cooker for a warm soup on a cold winter day!

Reboot with protein shakes or juicing every now and then. Sometimes my belly needs a rest!

Drink delicious Starbucks coffee treats while I’m out shopping. I’m loving SB’s caramel brulee latte. Yum, but it definitely packs a bigger calorie punch than my typical morning black coffee, so I try to avoid stopping on the way to work. But while I’m out shopping, particularly at outdoor centers, a warm treat is an extra special treat!

You can have it all, just not all at once. Putting the treats off limits will make them more enticing. Telling myself it’s okay to have a treat every now and then is a much smarter option. I strive for 80/20.

Keep dressing in my cute new skinnies and leggings. The not-so-new boy has made significant improvements to my fashion sense since we started dating, particularly my winter clothes, but there’s no hiding weight gain in skinny jeans or leggings!

Motivate myself with new workout clothes when I reach my goal! While out Christmas shopping I’ve found more than a few things I’d love to add to my workout rotation, but I’m supposed to be shopping for others. After the new year, though, I’m going to get some new goodies, but hold off until I reach my first goal!

What do you do to combat the dreaded holiday weight gain and winter lethargy? 

My First Bountiful Basket

I’ve been wanting to participate in a food co-op, but the amount of produce I’d get and the idea of getting some really weird stuff that I’d have no clue what to do with kept me away for a while…until this weekend! I follow Bountiful Baskets on FB so when they said Arizona ordering was up and to reserve your basket by Wednesday, I thought, why not? My arthritis diagnosis last month (along with other food allergy tests) has me eating a little better – mostly produce and A LOT of it, so I figured I could probably handle it.

Bountiful Baskets has locations all over and is more of a food co-op than a CSA (Arizona has plenty of farms that have weekly programs, but you commit for a certain amount of time for a lot of them). I paid $15 for 20 pounds of fruit and veggies and here was my haul…

That’s…

  • grape tomatoes
  • english cucumber
  • 4 broccoli heads
  • spinach bunch
  • head of green leaf lettuce
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 6 BIG potatoes
  • 4 fuji apples
  • blackberries
  • strawberries
  • 9 bananas

It’s definitely all food that I would consider “normal,” nothing that had me asking, “what the heck is that and what am I going to do with it?” But, unfortunately the foods I’m supposed to stay away from because they cause inflammation and make my neck issues flare up are nightshade veggies aka potatoes, tomatoes and peppers (and eggplant, but I’ve yet to find an eggplant recipe I like anyway), which were a big part of the pick-up.

I’d like to really eat clean for some time to see how it goes, but that is hard for me right now (need to find my mental grit), so I’m still eating those veggies on occasion. I still have a ton of my haul left, so I’m not ordering again this week…it really is a lot of food and requires a totally empty fridge and a meal plan to follow to not waste the food!

What I have eaten, I can’t say I’m super impressed with, unfortunately. I might stick with Sprouts or seek out a few farmer’s markets for fresh produce so I can pick and choose what I want, but I just have to be better about not trying to buy everything that looks good on a Sunday afternoon, and just buying the food I can eat before it goes bad, but it’s a nice option and participating made me feel super crunchy!

My Mini-Spring Break

2006 - Senior Year

My college roommate, Amy, is currently on her two-week spring break from the school she works at in LA and she took her middle weekend to come visit me! And I took the opportunity to pretend for two-and-a-half days that I was on spring break as well!

The only plan for the weekend was an alumni event at a Diamondbacks/Dodgers spring training game at Camelback Ranch Stadium in Glendale. She’s a Dodgers fan and I’m a DBacks girl, so it worked out well, especially since the DBacks won!

The alumni event was a nice idea (I went to a small, private college in California and it’s nice that they do events here sometimes as many students are from Arizona or land here after graduation), but it was a lot of older alumni and their families and it was held in an open-air suite and the lack of sun and the wind that was coming through there made it really chilly, so we spent some time on the deck before finding seats in the sun behind home plate to enjoy the rest of the game.

Spring training brings in a lot of visitors, but I think it’s something I tend to take for granted and miss out on, so I’m glad I got to at least one game this season!

On Monday, I had to work in the morning, but I left at about lunch time and took Amy to Old Town Scottsdale for some wedding dress trying on fun with my newly engaged guest!

When I have visitors, I suddenly think of twenty places we HAVE to go to eat, so it felt like we were eating all weekend long, but we were eating well!  We hit Postino for bruschetta, La Grande Orange for wine from their grocery enjoyed at the picnic benches outside with my St. Patrick’s Day Run friend back in town with her boyfriend for the wedding, Local Bistro for some fantastic risotto and Salty Senorita for mid-day margaritas and Mexican food on their sunny patio.
It was a pretty grand mini-spring break and I have another three-day weekend coming right up to enjoy the spring weather in Arizona!

Protein Please!

No thanks!

As a vegetarian for 10 years, the most obnoxious question I got asked constantly was “where do you get your protein?”  I was young and a bad vegetarian, so often I’d say eggs, peanut butter or cheese.

Last Saturday, after a morning hike spent discussing nutrition, I went to a Vinyasa class and felt weak. Granted, I had done an hour-long hike and this particular yoga class was led by the fitness coordinator of my gym and I just kind of get the sense that her old school group fitness ways sometimes interfere with the yoga I love, but too often I feel weak in classes or on runs or in the pool and, yes, workouts should be a challenge, but for as much as I work out and as “healthy” as I am, that should not be the case!

It kind of all came together in that class and it made sense that my muscles are hungry and protein would feed them! Although I don’t consider myself a vegetarian anymore, I tend to eat vegetarian about 90% of the time and I tend to fall back on my young vegetarian ways of not eating meat (v. replacing it with other good sources of protein). Protein and iron often come hand-in-hand in foods and the fact that my iron count was too low to donate blood for about four months last year should have given me the hint that I needed a dietary change.

One of the resolution ideas I tossed around for a while was Stephany’s idea of making one change each month.  I found it hard to come up with 12 changes, particularly without wanting to tackle them all at once, but perhaps I just needed to let them come to me!  So…increasing my protein intake is going to be my change for January (a week and a half late, but still) and I’ll see what pops up each month for the rest of the year.

To figure out how to best up my protein, I consulted my experts…

In Racing Weight, Matt Fitzgerald recommends getting anywhere from 15-30% of daily calories from protein.

The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises says one gram of protein for each pound of your goal body weight.

My NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training supports both, saying 10-25% of daily calories from protein or 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (oh, kilograms).

So, there are four calories in one gram of protein and if I’m supposed to eat 2000 calories a day on active days…yep, figuring out the percentages and counting calories and adding grams = too much work, so I’m going to aim for one gram per pound.

I found some foods I enjoy eating to help me increase my protein intake:

1 serving chicken breast…34 grams
1 serving fish (depending on type)…34 grams
1/2 c. of cottage cheese…16 grams
1 scoop protein powder…15 grams
1 cup black beans…15 grams
2 Tbs. peanut butter…8 grams
1 cup cooked quinoa…8 grams
1 cup skim milk….8 grams
1 cup fat-free yogurt…7 grams
1 egg…6 grams
1 oz. almonds….6 grams
2/3 cup granola…5 grams
1 cup spinach…5 grams

And now I can see how I was NEVER going to get to my required amount with milk and eggs alone.  It still seems difficult…I mean, seriously, with everything we’re “supposed” to be eating, does anyone else feel like they’re just going to have to walk around eating ALL DAY LONG?!

Honestly, I’m telling you right now there is no way I’m going to eat a gram of protein for every pound of my body weight, BUT, there is a way I will be more aware and do better and get closer each day. I have a hunch that my workouts will be better off for it!

What are the most annoying questions you get asked?!
When I was graduating college I dreaded, “So, what’s next?” (until I knew, then it was fine) and now I’m sometimes bored with people who think my love life has got to be the most interesting thing about me. BUT, I’m just as guilty of asking high schoolers what college they’re going to and newlyweds when they’re popping out the first kid.

What are some of your favorite sources of protein?
My IRL bestie from second grade (second grade!) recently started a 90-day paleo and crossfit challenge so I’m following along with her new blog to discover some of her high-protein recipes!

Racing Weight

I pleasantly surprised myself with how well I did in the first three races I ran, but I pretty much had the same thought after each of them…

“Next time, I’m going to run lighter.”

Now, this is NOT a fat talk post. I’m not fat, but for racing purposes, it would always be nice to be carrying a little less weight.

After my first race, I read Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald. It’s about learning to lose weight for performance purposes while still fueling properly for training. He has a whole system of tracking food points mostly based on quality that I never really followed, thus why I consistently had the same thought of wanting to lose weight for the next race.

As much as I focused on training this summer, I didn’t give food a second thought until my mom made me brownies last weekend and put them in the freezer so that I could “save them until after the tri.” Well…that’s one way to do it, but instead, I ate them.  I think she was used to me at least attempting to eat well before my past races. 

I’m not one to eat A LOT of food, but the quality has been a little suspect lately.  As a flexitarian, I probably haven’t had as much protein as I need to properly fuel my training and my workouts haven’t been long or intense enough that I’m concerned with carbo loading.  And of course, I’m never one to deny my sweet tooth.

Even so, over the summer I lost 13 pounds from my high weight I hit in the spring and five pounds from what has pretty much been my weight since high school without too much thought or effort.  Let it be known that I actually weigh what my driver’s license says now!

If ever anyone asks me how to lose weight, I will say yoga four times a week + training for a triathlon six days a week.  Okay, maybe there was some effort, so make that without too much thought.

I’ll find out on Sunday if the loss will make a difference (or if the quality of foods I’ve been eating will cancel it out) or if I’m still singing the same tune about losing weight for the next one!