Star Spangled & Healthy: 5 Tips to Stay on Track this 4th of July Weekend

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Just a little #tbt in honor of the holiday weekend! Ps: I’m thoroughly enjoying that frosting …

I get it, holiday weekends are toughies when it comes to staying on a healthy track — nutritionally and with regards to working out.

I am certainly not here to be the food police stating, “avoid the BBQ, beers and red, white and blue layer cake” … however … I am writing to help provide you with options that ultimately prevent a full-on star-spangled hangover.

With regards to junk food, I mean. Sorry, can’t help you in the alcohol department …

1. Schedule your weekend workout NOW

Booking with a boutique studio or alternate fitness facility that has a 24-hr cancellation policy will prevent you from skimping out on your workout come Sunday. Sure you may be tired and perhaps a bit — ahem — dehydrated, but sweating it out after a long weekend will prevent you from feeling like ultimate crap come Monday.

2. Bring goodies of your own

Invited to a BBQ this weekend? Good, me too. Instead of popping into CVS and grabbing a bag of chips, spend 10 minutes whipping up this patter, chips or even a healthier dip alternative.

Chances are it’ll be a party hit — And shhhhhhhh … we don’t need to tell anyone they’re healthy.

3. Get creative with your cocktail Miloby_PomegranateSangria

Last night I went over to my sister’s apartment for what we call a “Sister Date’.

Aside from the plethora of girl talk (Sorry to her BF Danny who had to drown us out by watching episodes of South Park), she made me a super easy and delicious sangria.

 

Polar Pomegranate Sangria + Red wine blend = Easy peasy (and 1/2 the calories) sangria.

This was obviously a great option for us, but if you’re not a fan of red, try mixing some Sav Blanc with their Champagne Strawberry flavor and add some chopped up fruit! Honestly, with these summer seltzer flavors, the possibilities are endless.

4. Get the games going

If you’re a New Englander like me the time is NOW to be outside. We are literally held hostage in our homes all winter long. So, during this long weekend full of patriotic goodness, get outdoors and PLAY!

Start a flag football game, get the bocce balls out — heck, play some ring toss! The point is, keep your body moving and avoid sitting on your tush while tossing back a few cold ones.

5. Hydrate & lather up

Even though you’re frolicking in the ocean or pool and feel nice a cool, doesn’t mean your body is properly hydrated. Remember: Once you become thirsty, you’re body is already dehydrated.

Be sure to guzzle some H20 this weekend and generously apply the SPF. While these two factors may not feel as satisfying as a 45-minute sweat sesh, your body will certainly thank you later on.

Have a happy and safe 4th!!
-TTT 

3 Boston Fitness Studios I’m Loving Lately

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It’s no secret I’ve hit a few bumps in the road recently. But, unlike my current mental state, my body feels fitter and stronger than ever.

Here’s why. I’ve decided to channel any anger, frustration and sadness into a positive direction: The betterment of my overall health and fitness.

I know what you’re thinking … ‘Caroline, staying fit is your job! What makes this any different?/Can you really workout more??’ 

Well folks, the answer is yes. Instead of using the word more I am choosing to be more productive with my fitness, give my body what it craves (hello, yoga) and feed it with the optimal nutrition … and perhaps a bottle glass of wine.

Aside from my beloved Turnstyle Cycle where I teach 7x/week, there are a few Boston (and Boston-area) hot spots I’m loving lately … and here’s why:

1. CorePower Yoga

Locations: Newton, Medford, Cambridge (Alewife)

Parking: Yes. Medford and Cambridge have large-and-in-charge lots.

Cost: Drop-in rate, $23 | 5-Pack, $105 | 10-Pack, $195

Cool perk: If you’ve never been to the studio before, you get your entire first week for free!!

Why I love it: Something you should know about me … I am not a picky yogi. I enjoy a flow just as much as a structured class. To me, yoga is about breathe and finding space to practice without judgement or expectation. CPY is it for me. Plus the parking is a HUGE plus :)

2. Barry’s Bootcamp

Locations: Downtown Crossing

Parking: No, however, it is across the street from the MBTA (Orange Line) Downtown Crossing station.

Cost: Drop-in rate, $28 | 5-Pack, $135 | 10-Pack, $260

Cool perk: They offer ‘Academies’, ‘Memberships’ and ‘Hell Weeks’ every month. This allows members to save a few bucks if you’re planning on taking a plethora of classes!

Why I love it: This is one of the HARDEST workouts I’ve ever endured. Normally, I would never push myself so hard on a treadmill (sprints, heck no … incline sprints, you’re crazy) but with Barry’s I find myself challenging every muscle in my body. As well as improving my speed!

3. RX Strength Training

Locations: Somerville

Parking: Yes! Medium-sized lot.

Cost: Drop-in rate, $20 | 1x/week, $70 | 2x/week, $125

Cool perk: Personally, I’ll take the rough and tumble gyms over the she-she ones any day. Dirt on the floor? Yes. Chalk on the equipment? I’ll take it. If you’re not willing to get a little grimy, this gym may not be for you.

Why I love it: See above :)

 

Have you tried any of the above fitness facilities? If so, tell me what YOU thought? I’d love to know :)

-TTT

The Week I Got Laid Off & My Relationship Ended

DisclaimerAs my mom calls it, ‘salty language’ will be heavily distributed throughout this post. I am not ashamed nor apologizing, however, I am warning you. Grab a cocktail, you may need it. 

Saturday evening my boyfriend and I broke up. Wednesday at 2 p.m. I was laid off from my job.

The problem is, they were both extremely unexpected and painfully close together. Did I see either coming at me? Not entirely. However, as is life, chances are taken and people and places are  trusted. Ultimately curve balls are thrown your way. And it is up to you to decide how you’d like to deal with the pain.

A.) Be knocked out cold. B.) Put an ice pack on your bruises. Or, C.) Dust yourself off and stand the fuck up.

I told you, salty language. Sorry, mom.

So while I am not going to give you a play-by-play of this week’s events, I will offer you a synopsis as well as how I’ve decided to handle it all. Wine in hand, obviously.

Would I love to go ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ or ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ the shit out of this situation? Of course I would. But the reality is I am 28 and my bank account is looking a little scary. So these days a Margherita pizza from Piazza Novello in Florence paired with a glass of Chianti from a small Tuscan village is more realistically Dominos thin crust with a side of Carlo Rosso.

Let’s take it back …

By Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. my world had been rattled. I felt sad, angry, frustrated, embarrassed and most certainly alone. Two stable aspects of my life had been pulled out from underneath me like a tablecloth covered in dish ware. Except, this was no magic trick and the perfectly placed table settings came crashing down in slow motion, radially shattering all around me.

After the initial shock subsided, I packed my book bag and joined my astonished co-workers at a nearby bar for a large-and-in-charge glass of wine. Reminiscing over the past year and a half made me laugh uncontrollably while tears of sadness rolled down my cheeks. This was one huge reason I’d miss my job — these individuals are both talented and real and even in my darkest state we able to make me crack a smile.

I made my way home — via the train I might add — and spent about 45 minutes crying in my bed before I made a decision. I could lay here, alone, sobbing into my West Elm pillowcase or I could get up and be with the people who loved and cared about me.

So I did.

3 miles and 25 minutes later I was in the presence of some of the most supportive people I know. Hugs were embraced, F bombs thrown and tears shed (again). I knew in that moment, I was with my people. I was where I was supposed to be. And I was proud of myself for not staying in bed.

It’s been a few days since the layoff and over a week since the breakup. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still really sad. I am. While I am not defined by my job or relationship status, two incredible pieces of my puzzle are now gone.

There’s a new word in my vocabulary I’ve been using quite a bit lately: Perspective.

In any situation at any moment you always have a choice. You can view the dilemma as positive, negative, a life lesson or merely a bump in the road. It’s all about perspective. Instead of honing in on this week of complete chaos, I am choosing to see a larger picture. One that includes every single incredible human that has held me up this week.

Because at the end of the day I could easily be consumed by all the negative. I could lay in my bed watching Netflix with a heavy pour of Savignon Blanc and a Cosco-sized bottle of ZzzQuill nestled on my side table.

Instead, I am selecting a vantage point that includes new opportunities both within my career and my personal life.

It’s my perspective. And from where I stand I am choosing to see it as vast and limitless.

-TTT

Holy Sriracha

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. As always, all opinions and commentary are my own.200

If there is one thing I love in this world, it’s condiments.

BBQ, low-sodium soy, Franks Buffalo sauce … and most definitely sriracha. Just this morning I doused that spicy chili goodness all over my hard boiled eggs [kisses fingers to hand and pretends to be Italian in her mannerisms]. 

Don’t get me wrong I don’t mask ALL my foods in condiments, however, when the cravings hit I find that adding a bit of dipping sauce — as I like to call it — gives whatever food I’m eating exactly what I desire.

Enter: Sriracha Blue Diamond Almonds.

No, you don’t need to adjust you screen, glasses or contacts. You read that correctly. Blue Diamonds has just released a brand new flavor of almonds and they are lip-smacking good. A kick of heat, packed with flavor and of course a protein punch.

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So far I’ve sprinkled them on salads, had them as a side dish with dinner (yes, almonds were my side dish), and eaten them by the handful.IMG_3610

Worried about overindulging like you might with a big bag of Doritos? Well, you won’t. These snackers are so loaded with flavor it’s really hard to overdue it. Take it from someone who loves her nuts — peanuts, almonds, Brazil, pistachios, you name it — one portion of these and you’re set.

Cravings quenched and taste buds satisfied. Now that’s a snack worth seeking out.

-TTT

PB & J Ice Pops [Recipe]

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk. As always, all opinions and commentary are my own. 

IMG_3533For the love of peanut butter and jelly.

Seriously though, if I could eat one meal for the rest of my life I’m IMG_348899.9% sure it would involve one if not both of those ingredients.

So, with the warmer months of summer approaching (and some days already here) I decided to whip up some lip-smaking, salty/sweet, ice cold, refreshing ice pops … dairy-free and with no refined sugars, of course.

Feel free to swap around the layers, change up the fruit or replace the peanut butter for a nut spread that tickles your fancy. Because, after all, summer is a time for kicking back and enjoying a sweet treat.

PB & J Ice Pops [Vegan, GF]IMG_3534

Ingredients:

1 1/2 C Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original, divided

1/2 C Strawberries, fresh

2 TBSP Honey

2 TBSP Peanut Butter, divided

Directions: 

In a blender or food processor combine 1/2 C Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original and 1/2 C strawberries. Pour evenly into ice pop molds. Gently place mold sticks into place. Freeze for an hour.

Wash blender/food processor and blend 1 C Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original and 2 TBSP of honey. Jiggle mold sticks out and pour milk/honey evenly into molds — 2/3 of the way. Replace mold sticks and freeze for an hour.

Finally, time for PB.

Wiggle/jiggle out mold sticks and spoon PB evenly over the honey almond milk layer. Replace sticks (for the last time, I promise), freeze and enjoy!!

** I made my layers this way, however, if your molds are like mine it might be better to place the PB in the center later. Just a thought :)

- TTT

Don’t F*ck with Body Pumpers

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Let’s get one thing immensely clear. I love Body Pump.

I aim to take it a few times a month at local gyms through ClassPass because — well — I enjoy the structure. I like knowing I won’t be doing cardio (since I teach 1,389,439,855 spinning classes per week). I always push myself with heavier weights. I completely fatigue the body parts we work on and then move on.

Bottom line: It’s fun for me and I don’t have to think for 60 minutes … which is refreshing when I enter the four walls of a gym.

Also, I have friends (I’m looking at you Katie and Becky!!) that teach it, so I have a heck-of-a-lot of respect for them. Have you ever tried to follow an 8-count … for 60 minutes?? Hard.

Which leads me to today. 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Body Pump … the instructor was a no-show.

In a packed class of nearly 25 members — all set up with risers, benches and bars no less — the fitness director had to come in and announce there would be no Body Pump. Instead, she was replacing the class with a traditional muscle conditioning circuit. Dumbbells would replace barbells and reps, counts.

To my surprise, no one left the room. But — and this is a pretty large but — it was clear people were significantly pissed off. The instructor, from what I could gauge had more of a background in personal training than group fitness, gave it her all. She told jokes, motivated us and consistently asked us how we were feeling.

Not a single person so much as cracked a smile. I’m certain the overused and under appreciated Bosus sitting in the corner of the classroom were having a better time than most individuals working out.

As an instructor and someone who has had to fill in last minute, I know this was painful for her to teach. I truly felt for her. With each set and repetition you could tell gym-goers were getting a great workout. But, it still wasn’t Body Pump … and to many that meant it wasn’t good enough.

From lunges to squats, curls to pushups I was adequately fatigued by the end. Some of my surrounding sweat-ers broke down their barbell boundaries by the very end of class, which was both refreshing and relieving to me.

This entire situation got me to thinking …

A squat is a squat is a squat. So why were people SO bent out of shape about the structure of the workout? Was it because they’re so familiar with routine? Comfortable? Afraid of change even though that is the very thing that will change their bodies?

D, all of the above.

Lesson for today: Do something this week that is outside of your comfort zone. Throw a wrench in your routine. Practice yoga, go for a run, find a hiking path, go kayaking, try a new class. Because at the end of the day you never know if you love it until — well — you try it.

Even if that means you’re being force fed muscle conditioning when you were expecting Body Pump. And just in case you were wondering the workout itself was awesome. ‘On fleek’ as the kids say these days.

So yah, after all that huffing and puffing from members it really didn’t matter at all.

They still exercised.

-TTT

21 Things I Want to do This Summer

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With the dog days of summer quickly approaching, I figured, why not whip up a list of the top favorites I want to do (read: eat, drink, visit, meet) over the next few months.

I’ll both use this as a wish list — cause let’s be honest, some things might not happen — but also as a checklist.

Lather on the sunscreen my trendy friends, it’s time to start listing …

1. Visit at least 3 different beaches. Multiple times.

2. Go to the SoWa Markets.

3. Go camping.

4. StandUp Paddleboat in the Charles River.

5. Go kayaking.

6. Eat FroYo at least once/month.

7. Go to a drive-in movie.

8. Swim in the ocean. Brr.

9. Buy myself fresh flowers once/month.

10. Make fresh iced tea.

11. Experiment with grilling different fruits/veggies.

12. Go on a road trip.

13. Watch the sunrise.

14. Hike Mount Monadnock.

15. Host a backyard BBQ with friends.

16. Visit my parents in Maine.

17. Read more.

18. Attend an outdoor concert.

19. Go on a bike ride (not indoors).

20. DIY projects in my new apartment.

21. Donate 1/3 of my clothes and shoes.

And this is just the beginning … What’s on your summer wish list?

-TTT

The Portable Protein Snack I Can’t Get Enough Of

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. As always, all opinions and commentary are my own. 

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But really though, what’s better than sea salt and chocolate? Mmm … cover almonds in them, that’s what.

If you know me or follow me on any form of social media, you’re well aware of my obsession with nuts and nut butters. It’s a problem actually, I’m working on that whole moderation thing. So when I had the opportunity to test out Blue Diamonds new Dark Chocolate almonds and Sea Salt almonds, I had to wipe the drool away in order to respond with a resounding …

Yes.

You see, for me, nuts are an extremely efficient food. They’re quick, portable and typically cure my desire to snack on (read: inhale) food post-class. They’re chock full of protein and low in sugar and sodium. Am I starting to sound like a commercial? Because I don’t mean to, I just really really love me some almonds. And almond butter. And almond milk. Okay, moving on.

Sea Salt

Crunchy and filling these little nibbles are my favorite. While I sometimes go with raw almonds, these sea salted ones are the perfect snack if I’m craving something with a bit more oomph.

Also, when I’m trying to keep my paw out of the Triscuit box.

Dark Chocolate

I mean, really. Need I say more?

Dusted in cocoa powder these bites are exactly what I need when I go to reach for a handful of M&Ms. They are the best when it comes to satisfying my sweet tooth. Which, honestly, can be a bit uncontrollable at times.

And since we’re in the trust circle, let’s just say these puppies didn’t last very long in my house. While my intentions were to create a recipe utilizing these protein-packed nuggets, no such thing happened. Instead they were my go-to snack for an entire week — ahem — okay few days.

Judgement free zone, people. I know you’d have done the same thing.

TTT

The Six Letter Word I Struggle With

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For as long as I can remember I have had issues handling one aspect of my life, stress.

PSATs (yes, the practice exam), homework assignments, essays and now bills, stress has always hit me … hard. In high school I would wake up in the middle of the night before a large exam my chest covered in red, itchy, burning hives. As I got older stress took a toll on my GI track — and in all TMI honesty, it still does from time-to-time.

Have I learned to minimize this issue? Mmm … sometimes, but it’s still something I deal with on a case-by-case basis.

Example A: I am moving August 1. No where far (still in the Boston-area), however my lease is up and my best friend of a roomie is wedding the man of her dreams. This means changes, cue the music — thanks Mr. Bowie.

Most recently this stressful aspect of my life radiates in the form of a bad attitude. That’s right, I put on those cranky pants — athletic edition, obviously — and wear them everywhere. In fact, they fit quite nicely.

I try deep breathing, yoga, meditation, even acupuncture to ease my nerves. Most instances it helps, which is incredible, other times not-so-much. Again, case-by-case.

I have realized one thing since my sleepless nights rubbing Sarna lotion beneath my oversized pajama top — I must breathe.

Slow inhales, extended exhales and a conscious focus on my breath is the key to preventing a complete cranks-induced meltdown. It may not involve me face down on the floor pounding my fists, but it’s pretty damn close.

When that feeling of stress bubbles up within me and my shoulders start to creep closer to my earlobes I remember that at the end of the day it’ll all be okay. Life will go on. Whatever the outcome, I will come out the other side … just fine.

However if I happen to have a glass of wine in hand and am surrounded by good company, that helps too.

Trust me, while the cranky pants fit like a brand new pair of Athleta crops, no one wants to see me sporting them. No one.

TTT

Banana FauxYo with Almond Breeze Almondmilk Coconutmilk

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Clearly I must work on my photography skills. FauxYo melts, people.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk. 

Beautiful spring weather means a few things to me: More white wine, less Vitamin D supplements and an unattractive amount of visits to the Davis Square FroYo joint.

Until now.

I’ve always been one to choose almond milk over cow dairy, it simply makes my stomach feel better. But, like many, I have an incredibly large sweet tooth. I’ll choose chocolate over chips any day — and if it’s a warm summer night, you best believe I’ll take that stomach ache if I can have some topping-filled FroYo.

In the past I’ve always frozen bananas and turned them into ‘Faux’ soft serve ice cream, but it’s always seemed to be missing something. It was a kick of coconut and creamy ice cream consistency that ultimately made me go weak at the knees.

Enter: Almond Breeze Almondmilk Coconutmilk. Basically heaven in a container. And when blended with frozen bananas and a hint of vanilla — pure bliss.

Now, if I could just control the sugar-laden toppings that typically overflow my bowl …

Banana FauxYo with Almond Breeze Almondmilk Coconutmilk

[dairy-free, gluten-free]

Ingredients:

1 Banana, sliced and frozen

1/2 Cup (or less depending on desired thickness) Unsweetened Almond Breeze Almondmilk Coconutmilk Original

1 Tsp Vanilla extract

 Top with chopped nuts, mixed berries or splurge with a little candy

Directions:

Chop and freeze banana overnight. Once frozen, place in your blender along with your Almondmilk Coconutmilk and vanilla extract. Blend until smooth.

Top with your favorites and enjoy!

Happy almost summer! 
TTT