Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Coffee, Wine, and Sweat

No matter the morning, my schedule, or what’s happening in my life, every single morning starts with coffee.

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About a year ago, Parrish and I dedicated ourselves to using reusable Keurig cups instead of disposable ones, and I’ve really enjoyed filling our mugs with tasty Fair Trade coffees from One World Market. Our current cup: Equal Exchange Congo Coffee

Most mornings that one cup will last for my entire day. Other mornings…

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a SUPER TALL vanilla latte is needed.

Yesterday started great. I had my morning coffee on the way to Pure Barre. After Pure Barre I changed at work and attempted a selfie in my new favorite shirt:

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Yeah…bathroom selfies are not my strength. But how cute is that shirt?!

As I dove in to my email at work, I quickly became bogged down. A few more work disasters, and it seemed absolutely NECESSARY to have a second cup of caffeine.

I wish I could say that work improved, but I pretty much felt overwhelmed the entire day. I hate days like that, but it can’t be easy every day. Do you have days like that? I wasn’t grumpy – or mad – or sad. I just couldn’t seem to get out from underneath the mountain.

Needless to say, after two cups of coffee and a tough workload, I needed a little bit of extra winding down time last night before bed. Luckily I had my favorite chocolate on hand:

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Yep. Alter Eco Dark Coconut Toffee: Creamy Chocolate with crunchy, buttery bits of toffee and a hint of coconut – I dare you to eat just one square. It’s impossible!

I paired the chocolate with a new to me Pinot Noir Rose:

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and felt the day just fade away.

At least…until I woke up this morning!

Since I have a Board Meeting tonight, I’m heading to the gym this morning. A good sweat session should help with work stress!

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Charlotte NC Blogger Meet Up

There’s something about running a race, that makes you want to run another one.

I totally get how some runners break the bank paying registration fees, because the feeling of running in a race is SO MUCH better (to me) than just hitting the sidewalk alone.

I’m faster during a race.

I push myself more and tell myself to quit less.

Don’t get me wrong. I still struggle mentally with running. I get about a quarter of a mile in and my mind goes STRAIGHT QUITTER on me. “This is hard. Why did you do this. Could you run off the course and back to your car without anyone noticing?” Seriously. These are all things I have thought during a race.

Luckily the threat of sheer embarrassment keeps me moving, because by the half to one mile mark I’m feeling strong and ready to keep going. 

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After my first race of the season – literally my post-runner’s glow hadn’t even worn off, I was searching for more races.

The state of NC has TONS of races. I have a race I’m running at the end of May with the Cabot Fit Team (squeal!!! I can’t wait!!) but I wanted a few more races to round out my year.

I thought about running the Merge Records 25K just because it sounded awesome! Music blaring at each station from Merge Artists and a huge party at the end. But a 25K really didn’t fit into my training program, so I talked Parrish in to volunteering!

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Volunteering at a race is also SUPER fun! The runners are so appreciative and the atmosphere is energetic. Plus how could I not have fun spending the day with my hubby?!

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We both look killer in fluorescent orange BTW.

I hope to add The Running of the Bulls 8K to my schedule, but it’s the weekend after my Cabot race, so I need to be sure my knee can handle it.

I did add a race this week that I’m SUPER EXCITED about – especially because I hope some of you will join me!

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The Shape Diva Dash on June 21st!

I am running this race as a Shape Ambassador and couldn’t be more excited to attempt my very first Obstacle Run!

But seriously, how fun would it be to run the race together?! Gluten Free Warriors!

Any race with this many tutus is bound to be fun!

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SHAPE Diva Dash logo HorizSo exactly What is the Diva Dash?

Forget barbed wire, fire pits and mud. It’s a women’s-only 5k course dotted with fun obstacles sure to challenge your agility, balance, strength and speed. Add in copious amounts of tutus, boas and bling, plus enthusiastic camaraderie, and you’ve got SHAPE Diva Dash.

  • Join the competitive wave at 9AM and battle for a top finish and prize. Or go at your own pace. There’s no pressure to finish fast, you can run, walk, jog or slog your way to the finish.
  • Tackle tough obstacles that challenge you or take the easy route. Different degrees of difficulty on some obstacles give you the chance to make the Dash as hard…or easy…as you want.
  • Sign up with your favorite ladies so you can be in the same starting wave. And don’t forget costumes! Tutus, boas, bling, and whatever other embellishments you can dream up are all the rage at the SHAPE Diva Dash.

 

If you live in NC, I would love to run the race with you on June 21st! And we will definitely need to reward ourselves with gluten free goodies afterwards. That’s really the best part, right?!

SHAPE was kind enough to offer any Gluten Hates Me reader a $10 OFF Coupon too as a part of my Ambassadorship! So register HERE and use the coupon code: AXMR

Don’t live in NC? No worries! The Gluten Hates Me coupon will work for races in Twin Cities, Chicago, Washington D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, and New York Metro too!

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And feel free to sign up with friends and share the coupon code. $10 off for everyone!

If you sign up for the Charlotte race please let me know! I’m going to plan a Blogger Meet Up for lunch that day – even if you can’t race I hope you’ll join me!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Five Things I’m Loving – The Daily Edition

One of my favorite types of blog posts to read are compilations of what the blogger loves. It gives such insight into their daily routine, plus it’s a great way to discover new things!

I found my current makeup routine through one of those posts. I’ve definitely found some great recipes too.

So since I’m busy this week preparing for a conference this weekend, my Board Meeting next week, and just generally don’t have the bandwidth to wax on about my latest meal, I thought I would share Five Things I’m Loving Right Now – Volume 6.

Previous Posts:

Five Things – The No Tears Edition ( <---- LOVE this one! Wow! That was a tough time)

Supper Fail & Five Great Things

Five Things I Love in My Kitchen

Five Things 3.0

Five Things Volume Four

I love reading back through old posts! Particularly that first post, The No Tears Edition. Man, commuting down to Wilmington to finish my degree feels like a lifetime ago, but I remember that day in my Memoir Class vividly. Ugh. I was SO embarrassed! After the fact I was so thankful that I did it, and honestly, writing about the shooting and my stuggles with PTSD really helped me move forward. Sharing that information with a class full of near-strangers……I guess that helped too.

Ah memories.

If I had to title this list of Five Things, I guess I would call it the Daily Edition, because these are Five Things that I love on the daily for sure!

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The Spice Hunter Organic Ranch Dip Mix

I’ve tried Simply Organic. I’ve tried making my own. I’ve even tried Hidden Valley once they went gluten free, but this is BY FAR THE BEST Ranch Dip ever!! I mix it up with 0% Fat Plain Greek Yogurt and dip everything in it. Carrots, Peppers, Cucumbers, Chicken Tenders….my fingers…..it’s so darn good! I buy it at my local Harris Teeter.

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Tessemae’s Vinaigrette Dressings

I’ve talked about Tessemae’s before, but it definitely warrants a second mention. I LOVE these dressings. I literally crave salads everyday, and I think these tasty dressings are a big part of that. Yes, people make homemade salad dressings all the time – I am not one of those people. If you’re not either or you need a quick option to have on hand, I highly recommend these dressings! I buy mine at my local Whole Foods. My favorite flavor: Lemon Garlic

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Cabot Cheese Seriously Sharp Shreds

I found these at my local Harris Teeter last week and I squealed in the aisle! I LOVE Seriously Sharp Cabot, and now I don’t have to break out the shredder each morning. Cabot is the only cheese I have found that I absolutely know is gluten free. Plus it’s a Farmer Owned Co-op – I like that.

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Pure Barre

Yep. I drank the kool-aid my friends. I seriously LOVE Pure Barre. I attend class 4-5 days a week and I can’t get enough of it! It feels less like exercise and more like a daily relaxation I do for myself. It’s super low-impact and I find that with consistency – going at least 4 days a week for several weeks in a row – my body really reacts and changes.

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My Favorite Quick Smoothie

I’ve been drinking these nearly every morning and loving it! You don’t taste the spinach at all, but you get all the nutrients. Recipe here.

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Happy Tuesday friends! I’m off to another busy day at work!

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Reflection on 38 Pounds Lost

Fitness is definitely something that hasn’t come naturally to me.

On the one hand, I used to be an athlete. Tennis, volleyball, dance, weight lifting – I did it all. But just a few years in to college, and I had dropped nearly everything from my routine.

In my mid-twenties I tried to get interested in something. I picked up yoga. I toyed with running. In fact, if you been reading this blog since the beginning (nearly SIX years ago!!) then you may remember my lack of dedication. My life would get busy and I would push exercise aside.

3 years ago I hit my heaviest weight. 183 pounds of unhappiness. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin, but I also had no idea how to make a change.

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My wedding day September 2011 – After a workout in 2013

In fact, I honestly felt that I couldn’t lose weight. It seemed impossible to me. I would set some crazy standard for myself – fail within a week – and then fall off the “Healthy Wagon” hard. Most importantly, I was barely active.

In March of 2011, I joined the YMCA. I started working out at least four days a week, and I met the Arc Trainer.

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I made going to the gym a regular part of my routine. I aimed for three days and if I hit four then great. I packed my gym bag the night before. I organized my workout clothes to make it easy to prepare. I started reading Healthy Living Blogs.

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I found that the more I moved, the healthier I ate. The healthier I wanted to eat. I made SMALL changes:

I cut down my potato consumption to once a week. (Twice if I’m really good) Potatoes are starch, starch becomes sugar, sugar can become fat.

I cut down on red meat to less than once a week.

I upped my veggie intake, and I upped my protein and fiber.

I drank MORE water and WAY LESS Redbridges. WAY LESS! I went from a 6 pack a week to less than one single beer a week.

I tried to eat smaller portions most of the time.

I switched from sweet tea to un-sweet tea.

I did NOT feel guilty for anything I ate.

It wasn’t easy. I’m not saying that I woke up every morning and thought, “Yay! Let’s go to the gym!” In fact, it was more like “Ugh. I just want to sleep……but get up. You’re going to the gym.”

In 1 year, I lost 15 pounds – and reveled about in THIS POST from March 2012.

I remember at the time feeling like nothing was happening. But really, I was losing a pound a month – and those pounds were never coming back.

But 15 pounds wasn’t enough. I stayed consistent through 2012. I didn’t push myself too hard – I was finishing my college degree for goodness sakes. Commuting down to Wilmington every week for 9 months.

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I didn’t lose many more pounds that year, but I did maintain 3-4 days of activity. 

In 2013, I made the decision to take it up a few notches. Luckily I ended up with a super fit co-worker who introduced me to Zumba. I fell in love!

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With my new found confidence, I tried other classes. I became obsessed with Cross Training. Weight Lifting – Cardio – Pushing it to the limit. I LOVED Bootcamp classes at my local Y.

I started talking about fitness. ALL. THE. TIME.

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Honestly, I probably lost a few readers along the way. I’ve definitely received my fair share of snarky comments on Instagram BUT I couldn’t care less. I LOVE finding motivation through other people’s successes, and what better person to motivate me than myself?

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I was starting to workout 5 days a week. I was pushing myself and breaking down mental blocks. When I started out I couldn’t run longer than 60 seconds – by summer 2013 I could run 5 minutes without stopping. Then a mile. Then two miles. It all came with weeks and weeks of practice and work, but the further I realized I could run – the more determined I became.

I’ll never forget running with Parrish and realizing that we had just ran past three different spots on the trail that I used to stop and take a walk break at. I literally started crying – while running – I never thought I could be this person: a runner.

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Just like my initial weight loss, it wasn’t drastic. I lost a pound a week. But within a few months, I would go down a pants size. And then a few months more – another pants size.

At the end of 2013, I signed up for my first NHerShoes Shred. I loved the idea of having a training schedule, and a meal plan during the holidays seemed like a good idea. Through the shred, I began working out HARD 5 days a week with 1 additional day of active rest. I was being active 6 days a week, and it really clicked for me.

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Being active is what I love. Fitness and Exercise make me happy. Like…REALLY happy. I love trying new sports and activities. Sweat is good.

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I’ve found a new freedom in being super active. I can eat a cheeseburger occasionally without the guilt. I still pay attention to what I’m eating, but the more active I am, the more healthier I eat. I crave salads – never thought I would say that!

Four months in to 2014, and I’m still exercising 6 days a week. But I’m also taking rest days when my body lets me know it’s time. A little over 3 years since I first joined my local YMCA, and I have lost 38 pounds.

I plan my life around getting exercise. On Sundays, when I finish planning my meals – I plan my workouts for the week.

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And I’m still not finished.

I have four races this season so far. I’ve completed my first one, and couldn’t have been happier with my time.

While I’m still focusing on eating healthier foods, I’m not setting any weight goals for myself this year. I’m giving my body image a break and instead focusing on some non-weight victories I want for myself.

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38 pounds ago, I felt helpless. I felt stuck. I felt like I was trapped beneath weight, and fear, and low self-esteem. Exercise set me free.

None of this is to say that this blog is going to change. I am still a Southern Girl WITH Celiac Disease, exploring new ways to live with a gluten free diet. But you will see more fitness posts. I have come to far to not document this journey in my life, and I hope you’ll stick around. But if you leave, you won’t hurt my feelings, because this is who I am now.

I am an athlete.

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Want to know more about my journey with Weight Loss?

Read Balancing My Weight Gluten Free and Fitness Friday posts for more information.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Primal Preview Wine Dinner

Sometimes I feel so lucky and blessed and LOVED that I just have to pinch myself!

This past week for my birthday, one of my dear friends gifted Parrish and I two tickets to the MEAL OF A LIFETIME!

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As if my post earlier this week didn’t brag enough about my local gluten free options, I am happy to say that this summer one of my favorite restaurants, Blu Seafood, is opening a COMPLETELY gluten free restaurant: Primal Food and Spirits.

Executive Chef and Owner Tim Lyons is creating a local food focused menu with delicious meat and veggies – all options are naturally gluten free, which is my favorite way to eat! Gluten free substitutes are great, but for me, I love yummy foods that are naturally safe for me to eat.

So last night Parrish and I had the pleasure of attending the Primal Preview Wine Dinner:

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To say we were excited is an understatement. I practically stalk their Facebook page for upcoming news about when they’re going to open!

The meal was four courses, and each course was paired with a wine:

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Funnily enough, I commented to Parrish that none of the wines were something I would order on my own – so I was excited to branch out and try new things.

Our first course came and we nearly died.

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Pasture-Raised Pork Belly Poached in Olive Oil with Sour Orange Mustard

It was so FREAKIN’ good! The pork belly was perfection and I literally licked up the sour orange mustard.

Second course:

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Bacon Wrapped Dates with Chevre, Spinach, and a Red Wine Glaze

Why haven’t I ever tried a bacon wrapped date?! So good. Have you had one? There is definitely something about the sweet and the smoky – the chewy and the crispy – that makes it a bite of heaven.

Parrish and I agreed that when you had a little bit of everything, the bacon, date, chevre, spinach, and glaze in one bite, it was divine!

And the wine!!!!!

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I typically turn my nose up to rose wines, but this Pinot Noir Rose was incredible! I will definitely be trying a glass again. Plus it paired with the dish perfectly.

By the time our third course came out, Parrish and I were pretty much in a trance of delicious food. How could this night get any better?!

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Thirty-Hour Braised Short Rib with Roasted Cauliflower & Mushrooms

Ummmm….. when you’re eating a 30 hour Red Wine Braised Short Rib! At this point, the sun had gone down – so please excuse the dark photos.

Honestly, I wish computers had smell-o-vision because you NEED to smell that sauce around the short rib. We considered drinking it out of the bowl like soup. Seriously. No joke.

Our fourth and final course was a delightful way to finish such an incredible meal:

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Coconut Milk Ice Cream with drizzled local honey and pistachios.

I loved taking a bite of the dessert and then chasing it with a sip of the Moscato – it had a wonderful light fizz that really spiced things up.

It truly was an amazing night. I can’t wait until Primal opens this Summer. You will definitely be seeing TONS more of their meals on the blog.

And I DEFINITELY think we should plan a blogger meet up there once they open!

And thank you so much Jessica for this sweet birthday gift! Your thoughtfulness means so much to Parrish and I! You gave us the meal of a lifetime!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My FAVORITE Quick Smoothie

If you follow me on Instagram (glutenhatesme) then you have noticed that I am on a REAL Smoothie kick lately. There really is nothing more satisfying after a tough Pure Barre class than a cool smoothie.

Plus, they’re crazy easy to make!

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My FAVORITE Green Smoothie – and I promise, you won’t taste the GREEN!

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1 cup frozen bananas and strawberries (I get a huge bag at Target)

2 scoops Vanilla Whey Protein ( OR 1/2 cup Vanilla Yogurt)

1 to 2 handfuls of Baby Spinach

2 to 3 cups Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

Place all ingredients in a blender – start with 2 cups of Almond Milk and then add to get the consistency you like. I like a thick smoothie (I pretend it’s a milkshake) so I add less.

Enjoy!

Fun Twist: Add 1/2 cup of Orange Juice! It will taste just like an Orange Creamsicle

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gluten Free Restaurants in NC–BDay Recap

I never thought it was possible, but this past week – while celebrating my birthday – I actually had TOO MUCH yummy gluten free food.

I mean seriously, gone are the days of searching out safe restaurants for me. I am so blessed here in NC to be surrounded by a handful of positively DELICIOUS restaurants that are kind enough (and smart enough) to offer ACTUAL gluten free options.

*I say ACTUAL because lately there have been a few reports of restaurants that offer gluten free but then make a disclaimer about shared workspace and urge those with Celiac not to choose their gluten free options. Ummmm seriously?! Yep. But more on that another day.

My birthday celebrations truly represent a Who’s Who list of restaurants with safe options.

First up, Bella Monica in Raleigh, NC.

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Bella Monica is no stranger to gluten free. In fact, you may have purchased their gluten free flatbread at your local grocery store. Their restaurant has SO MANY gluten free options. I’ve blogged about it before, but….

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their gluten free focaccia is to die for. Crispy, buttery, and brought to the table fresh from the oven.

I also love their Gluten Free Cheese Ravioli:

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When is the last time you had ravioli?! For me, it had been about 7 years. Incredible.

Next up, The Little Dipper in Durham, NC.

Their Pineapple Habanero Margarita is my absolute FAVORITE cocktail right now.

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It’s spicy and sweet – LOVE. Paired with a big ol’ pot of Cheese Fondue:

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where could you go wrong?!

You’ve seen it before – you will definitely see it again – Geer Street Garden in Durham:

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Their gluten free grilled pimento cheese is CRAZY good! And their fries are now gluten free too! The owner’s wife has Celiac Disease, so they are always super helpful when it comes to ordering.

My LOVE – DaisyCakes in Durham:

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I’m either stopping by for one of their delicious cupcakes, or enjoying a gluten free biscuit with a latte; I can NEVER go wrong at DaisyCakes.

In fact, I ate there TWICE during my birthday celebrations! Smile

Kimbap in Raleigh:

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Gluten Free dumplings. Enough said, am I right?!

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But I can’t forget the Bibimbap. The only thing bad about Kimbap is that it isn’t closer to my house. However, it is well worth the 30 minute drive. Well worth it.

By the end of my extended Birthday Weekend, I was DONE with celebrating. I honestly couldn’t tell when my stomach was hungry for a few days! Of course I got plenty of exercise:

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31 OverHead Ball Slams for the Birthday Girl

But my stomach was still overloaded. In addition to the above deliciousness, I also ate TWO amazing dinners at Dos Perros, and a yummy breakfast at Another Broken Egg Café. I must have been in too much of a food coma to remember to whip out my camera!

So – check your calendar and book a trip to the Triangle area of NC. We can go on a Food Tour together! But wait a few weeks, I still need to recover from my birthday!

Winking smile