Archive | January, 2013

Matchbox and Mail

31 Jan

Has this week been dragging for anybody else? No? Just me then.

The bipolar weather, coupled with a terrible night’s sleep has left me in a weird mood today and I am so ready for the weekend so I can reboot. I did manage to make it to yoga yesterday, though! Because my friend Lucy is in town, I have been sneaking my workouts in at lunch so we can hang out as soon as I finish work.

Yesterday’s class reminded me of how badly I need to incorporate regular yoga sessions into my week – my muscles were so tight! My hips were especially bad – I couldn’t even stack my knees on top of each other during double pigeon, much less bend over.

double_pigeon[ source ]

After work, Lucy and I met Stef and some other high school friends for dinner at Matchbox. They have a couple of locations in DC, but the 14th Street location recently opened up in November. Known for their pizza and sliders, the restaurant is spacious and warm. I loved the exposed brick and the tall ceilings.


[ source ]

We decided to order the sliders as an appetizer, and they came in one huge mountain, topped with onion strings.


They were topped with a choice of either gouda, mozzarella, and gorgonzola cheese.

Our server, Lavonna, was so friendly and made us feel at ease. She asked us if it was our first time dining at the restaurant (it was) and explained a little bit about how their pizzas work (you can mix and match), as well as what their specialties were. She was attentive without being overbearing – A+ for service, Matchbox!

I ended up ordering the grilled veggie sandwich, which included marinated portabella, roasted red peppers, zucchini, pesto-ricotta spread, and a side of fries. It came in two large pieces of focaccia, so I ate one and boxed the other up for lunch today.

While eating, a huge downpour started outside and we, neglecting to bring umbrellas, ended up looking like drowned rats upon arrival at home.

I had two packages waiting for me when I returned, though!

IMG_1976[1]One was a totally random package from my dad and stepmom, which was chock-full of sweatpants and other cozies to last me through the winter. Much appreciated, though I don’t know if they will get much use if DC keeps posting 70+ degree temps in the middle of winter.

The other was a much-anticipated order from Amazon.

IMG_1975[1]I have been a follower of Zuzana’s YouTube channel, where she posts free workouts every week. She is the founder of, but started her own channel after awhile called Zuzka Light. These DVDs were just made available and are convenient for when you don’t have an internet connection or want to watch it on your television.

I love that her workouts are quick, but super efficient. I know that Gina’s a big fan of her and just ordered the DVDs as well.

Each DVD comes with 12 workouts, as well as an accompanying calendar to keep yourself accountable for your workouts. The DVDs are designed in order of difficulty and are meant to be used chronologically over the course of three months.

IMG_1966[1]There is also an area at the bottom of the calendar where you can put a before an after photo, as well as monitor your measurements throughout the course of the DVDs.

I am hoping to incorporate these workouts, along with yoga, to shake up my exercise routine. I still intend on going to my beloved Body Pump classes, but want to surprise my body and do something different for a little while.

Food for Thought: Do you have an exercise routine? If so, what does it include and how often do you switch it up? If not, how do you decide what you’ll do for movement each day?


Quickie Lunch Workout

30 Jan

Supposedly, we’re in the middle of winter over here, not that you’d be able to tell…

IMG_1972[1]Makes zero sense. I don’t even know how to dress myself when I go outside! I won’t complain though, it’s nice to not have to brace yourself when you walk out the door.

My friend Lucy arrived in the city yesterday and I picked her up from Union Station after work. She’s only in town for a couple of days, so I’ve planned on doing my workouts on my lunch break so I am free after work.


Yesterday’s workout was quick, but intense. I was totally covered in sweat by the end, plus I didn’t have to rush to get back to work because it left me with enough time to clean myself up. Double win.

Quickie Lunch WorkoutI did my warm up and cool down on the treadmill at an easy 12 min/mile pace. All in all, it took me just a little over half an hour to complete the workout, from the moment I stepped on the treadmill for the warm up, to when I stepped off at the end of my cool down.

IMG_1971[1]If you are using any of my workouts, I highly recommend that you download the GymBoss app (it’s free) for your phone, or invest in some kind of interval timer (GymBoss has them on their website for ~$20).

While looking over the workout, if some of the activities look unfamiliar to you, you can find demonstrations of them on YouTube quite easily. I have linked some of the exercises below:


Lately I’ve found myself falling off the clean-eating wagon over the weekends. My meals on those days consists mainly of carbs and fat -I ate two cheese quesadillas for dinner the other night – and it leaves me feeling like I have to play catch-up during the week. One of my goals for this weekend is to stick to my 80-20 plan so I don’t feel ‘blah’ on Monday morning. The weekends need to have less of this:

The 'S' was for Sharks, as in the NHL team.

The ‘S’ was for Sharks, as in the NHL team.

And more of this:


Monday night’s dinner: salmon fillet on a bed of mixed rice, side of sauteed stir-fry vegetables.

and this:


Yesterday’s lunch + pre-workout snack: Leftover rice and vegetables, sweet potato medallions with cinnamon, tangerine, green grapes, and trail mix.

Tonight, Lucy and I are meeting some old high school friends for dinner and then more girl-talk at home. Having a guest in the middle of the week is such a nice way to pick things up!

Food for Thought: Do you tend to eat differently over the weekend and during the week? What is your biggest obstacle to eating healthy food?

A Very Special Woman

29 Jan

Throughout my junior year in high school, I was profoundly sad. I dreaded waking up each morning and went to bed feeling utterly exhausted. Day after day, I would go to my mother’s bedroom after a late-night volleyball practice, cuddle up to her and just cry. It was during that year that I discovered that there’s nothing as comforting as snuggling up to your mom when you’re upset.

Whatever was ailing my junior year has since disappeared and I am a much happier person than those dark days, but there is still nothing better than a big hug from Mommy when I’m home or a text message to brighten my day. Even though I’m grown and have since lived across the country (and across the world) from her, she is still the most important woman in my life.

mommyoldI know it’s cliché to say that your mom is your best friend, but it’s absolutely, 100% true. We talk every day (even if it’s just a text) and she is the first person I call with exciting news. If I ever won the lottery, she would be the first to know.

mommyWhen I decided to move to Rome, it was the first time in my life that I had lived more than 15 minutes from home. Even though it meant being halfway around the world, my mom was my biggest cheerleader and encouraged me to go, just like she had when she moved to Paris at my age. We both knew that part of the reason she was so excited for me was that it meant she would be able to visit.


Reunited in my Roman apartment!

She came over to visit me in May of 2012 and we spent a wonderful week together: I got to show her my life in Italy and we explored all different parts of the city.


Roman picnic in Parco degli Aranci

Even though she doesn’t speak Italian, she was able to  pick up most of what people around her were saying and she loved learning how to pronounce the words on signs and menus.

mommycolosseumIt was so nice to be able to show her my life in a different city. When she came to visit, I had been living in Rome for nearly 11 months, far and away the longest time we had ever been apart.

Outside the Pantheon at night

Outside the Pantheon at night

She was happy to adapt to the Roman lifestyle – she especially got on board with the idea of nighttime strolls accompanied by gelato.

When I came back to Seattle to surprise Stefano for graduation, she was the co-conspirator who picked me up from the airport and surprised him at his house.


At my departmental graduation during my surprise visit

Since moving to Washington, D.C., we still talk all the time and I am excited for her to visit me in yet another new city. I genuinely enjoy her company, as do many other people. She is trained in psychotherapy, which means that she is the most wonderful listener and always makes everybody feel heard. In a group of people, she engages the individuals who might have something to say, but feel overwhelmed by the amount of activity going on around them.

When she’s not listening, she is full of insightful and thoughtful things to say, and her sense of humor just can’t be beat. One of my favorite things to do with my mom is watch a movie at home so we can both make side commentary and snarky comments about the film (we try to only do this together so we don’t bother other people!). Her sarcasm and dry wit is proof that we are indeed related, even though our personalities can be quite different.

Why did I write this post? Well, today is this very special woman’s birthday. Though I can’t be with her in person, I wanted to take a moment to share what a wonderful person my mother is and how she has helped me become the person I am today. I wouldn’t be where I am without her love and support and each day I am grateful to call her my mommy.



Happy Birthday, Mommy!!!




28 Jan

Hello, lovelies! For some reason unbeknownst to me, the federal government was closed until noon today (they say it was due to inclement weather, but the only thing I saw this morning was rain). Since my office follows the federal calendar, I didn’t have to be in until noon, either. That meant a nice leisurely morning, as well as a workout and shower! Though working out in the morning means I will miss my beloved Body Pump, it will be nice to go home and curl up on the couch or do some yoga.

Stef and I spent the weekend exploring Georgetown with our friends Eric and Sam (Eric is actually Stef’s cousin, too). We started Saturday morning with an ice skating session at the Georgetown Rink by the Washington Harbour. Though the weather was chilly, the sun was out and they were playing Oldies over the loudspeaker – my favorite.

IMG_1959[1]Those adorable penguins were confiscated from us shortly after the picture was taken. Apparently, only kids are allowed to have fun. Booooo.

After a little skating, we headed over to Clyde’s for a delicious brunch. I didn’t know anything about the restaurant before going, but it is a saloon-style restaurant, with various locations around the DMV area. Fun fact: Starland Vocal Band’s  1976 hit single “Afternoon Delight” was inspired by the appetizer menu of the same name at Clyde’s.

The menu had several choices that appealed to me and I had a supremely difficult time deciding. In the end, I went with a three-egg omelette, filled with all sorts of good stuff like tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon, onions, ham, spinach, and cheddar cheese. I ordered it without the bacon and ham, but was looking forward to the side of brunch potatoes.

IMG_1955[1]Stef ordered the Denver burrito, which was a Tex-Mex style egg burrito with scrambled eggs, black beans and jack cheese rolled in a flour tortilla topped with pork green chili and sour cream.

IMG_1956[1]I could have ordered an entree of breakfast potatoes alone – yum!

Before our entrees, we started with some deviled eggs, which were filled with lump crab meat and chives. Deviled eggs are one of my favorite party foods, but I never think to make them myself. Home kitchen adventure in the making!

IMG_1954[1]We went straight from brunch to the movie theater to catch a 1:15 showing of Silver Lining’s Playbook. I had heard so many good things about the film (plus I love Jennifer Lawrence) and I wasn’t disappointed. Some parts of it caused me to get really emotional, but the acting was wonderful and it had a great ending.

The film is up for eight Oscars and it’s the first time in over 30 years that a film has Oscar nominations in all four acting categories!

This week is more exciting than usual (because my weeks are so exciting to begin with) because one of my oldest friends is coming to visit! Lucy has an interview for medical school in New York and is taking the bus down to DC to visit for a couple of days. I can’t wait!!! She and I have been friends since we were 10 years old – I love her.


Circa 2006

We’re the cutest.

Hope you all have a wonderful start to your week – catch ya soon!


Baby It’s Cold Outside Tabata Workout

25 Jan

It’s still cold and it’s getting pretty old (ha, I rhymed!) but at least it’s Friday!

It’s becoming more and more difficult to get to the gym and it seems as if I’m only making it there for Body Pump on Mondays and Wednesdays because I just can’t get enough of the Pump! Luckily, I am getting better about doing my at-home workouts and came up with a pretty awesome full-body circuit yesterday.


The circuit is done tabata style, which is an exercise protocol developed by Izumi Tabata of Japan. He conducted a study involving a series of tests on two groups of athletes which compared moderate high intensity training with high intensity interval training (HIIT).

In group one, the athletes trained at moderate intensity (70% intensity) for one hour, five days a week, for a total of six weeks.

Group two trained at high intensity (170%) for four minutes, four days a week, for a total of six weeks. The 4 minute session consisted of eight rounds of 20 seconds of intense training (170% intensity) followed by 10 seconds of rest.


Group 1 had a significant increase in the aerobic system (cardiovascular system). However, the anaerobic system (muscles) gained little or no results at all.

Group 2 showed significant increase in their aerobic systems and their anaerobic systems increased by 28%.

Conclusion? According to the study, “adequate high-intensity intermittent training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy supplying systems significantly, probably through imposing intensive stimuli on both systems.”

Basic Tabata Design

Any exercise can be incorporated into the Tabata training, but the protocol for the basic Tabata method is:
•    4 minutes long
•    20 seconds of intense, as hard as you can go training
•    10 seconds of rest
•    8 rounds

When I say I did this “Tabata-style”, it means I incorporated the idea of rounds of intense exercise with brief rest periods, but this particular workout was 24 rounds, meaning four rounds of each of the six exercises.

If you have a Smartphone, there is a great app that helps with this style of training. It’s the GymBoss app and it’s free! When you open the app, it looks a little something like this:


As you can see, the timer in purple is set for my 24 rounds, with 30 seconds on and 10 seconds off.


You can change the background colors so it is easy to tell when your 30 seconds is up and you can rest. I make it super easy for myself by making the 30-second “on” period in green and the 10 seconds of rest in red.


Green means go and red means stop! If you look near the bottom, you will see how many rounds you have left to complete, as well. The timer can be set for any number of intervals, for any period of time. It’s like a stopwatch on steroids.

Exercise demonstrations and modifications

I did the side lunges and tricep kickbacks with a 10-pound weight, but if you want it to be equipment free, you could always substitute the kickbacks for some tricep dips. For those who are not familiar, here is a link for a dive bomber push-up video tutorial. I definitely feeling those near the end and had to go down on my knees.

I added a flutter kick to the Superman, so it look a little something like this:


[ source ]



[ source ]

Side lunges:

mv-alter-side-lunge[ source ]

The nice thing about training at home is you can eat and shower right after your workout. I made myself a heaping bowl of roasted butternut squash and brussels sprouts, sprinkled with some grated mozzarella cheese. On the side was a big smoothie with frozen berries, a banana, plain Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and some vanilla soy milk to get everything moving.

IMG_1945[1]Post-workout, I crashed on the couch and watched American Idol with my roommates. This was the first time I had seen the show since Kelly Clarkson was on it in the first season! I can’t believe that Ryan Seacrest is still doing it. One of the background songs in the show was ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ by Bruno Mars and none of us could get it out of our heads for the rest of the night! An impromptu dance session in  the kitchen may or may not have happened…

My goal this weekend is to make it to the gym for at least one yoga session. The more strength training I do, the more I find my muscles feeling tight and cramped. A good stretching sesh is much needed!

Food For Thought: Are your workouts short and sweet or is quantity > quality?

It is still taking some time for me to get used to the idea of short workouts being equally as effective, but I sure do appreciate the extra time in the day!

Wishing you all a very happy weekend ❤

%d bloggers like this: