Tag Archives: lunch

Aruba – Our Happy Island

photo 2-45If you read my blog regularly, I’m sure that you noticed that I haven’t posted in almost a week. For the first time in almost two years, my husband and I took a “real” vacation. By “real”, I mean no phones, no computers, and no social media. In determining where we should go to escape, we wanted to stick to a place that we had been to before (so we wouldn’t have to do much planning) and we could ultimately blow through all of the remaining Marriott hotel points that I had left from public accounting.

IMG_1093Aruba it is. We have traveled to some pretty amazing places, but there are a few reasons why Aruba stands out to us.

  • Direct, affordable flight + a clean airport (it is hard to find a nice airport in the Caribbean)
  • English speaking, friendly natives
  • US currency is accepted everywhere – Yes, no currency exchange!
  • Gambling is legal – there are some really nice casinos, and I’m talking Craps, Roulette, and Black Jack (not just slots)
  • It doesn’t rain here – Average rainfall is 16 inches a year. Yep, pack the sunscreen; you will be in the sun A LOT!

Leaving our daughter for several days while we went away was the hardest part about the trip. Thankfully, my parents moved into our house to watch her while we were gone. Since we have been to the island before, we knew that we were going to be overwhelmed with some amazing (even healthy) food choices, but we also packed our workout gear because we knew that there were some great outdoor running areas. Over the next few posts, I plan to share with you some pictures and reviews of some of our amazing meals, plus our fun workouts.


Let me start by saying that we were lucky to have stumbled upon the Marriott Stellaris Tradewinds Club. On our first trip to the island we decided to stay on the club level, and we enjoyed it so much, we decided to come back. Here are the details. To stay in the Tradewinds Club you have to pay a premium on top of your nightly amount. However, the premium includes all of the following that a regular room does not:

  • Complimentary breakfast – see pictures of my typical breakfast compared to my husband’s breakfast.  Like I said, you can make it as healthy or unhealthy as you want to!
My typical breakfast.

My typical breakfast.

My husband's typical breakfast.

My husband’s typical breakfast.

  • Complimentary lunch

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  • Afternoon snacks
  • Complimentary bottled waters (big time advantage in the heat), soda, and beers during the day.

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  • Evening happy hour (including a taste of specials from the hotel’s restaurant dinner menus, plus cocktails – wine, beer, and liquor)
  • Free internet
  • Private adult pool
  • Private beach area with optional beach hut and chairs

IMG_1102We did the math and we definitely won out here. Not only are the breakfast and lunch options good, but you can make both meals extremely healthy (or not). There was always a significant amount of fruits and vegetables at every meal. Not to mention whatever type of cold beverage that you wanted to take back to the beach for the afternoon (or morning).

IMG_1094The private beach in front of the hotel is pristine with little to no waves. You can literally pull a raft out into the ocean and not float away. In fact, I think the ocean might even be less choppy than the lakes surrounding Charlotte!

Since we hadn’t gone on a real vacation in years, we even took advantage of the spa and got massages. I will be the first to tell you that I don’t get massages often. I think they are awkward. Should I talk? What if I fall asleep? What should I wear? Yea, it’s not my thing. This place blew my mind. I set up a Bali (relaxing) massage at the Mandara Spa. Everything about this place is calming and somewhat euphoric. Even the smell when you walk in the door makes your shoulders drop (if you are someone who sits at a desk all day hunched, you know what I’m talking about). Relax. I felt like a different person when I left this place. This was exactly what I needed to force myself to settle into a day of doing nothing.

The transition area.

The transition area.

The selection of scents and scrubs for massages.

The selection of scents and scrubs for massages.

With my introduction of the island and our hotel, look forward to details about our meals and workouts throughout the next several days. While I enjoyed our time away, it does feel good to be back!

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My Front Porch Workout + Our Second Anniversary

Everyone likes variety, including me.  Sunday evening we watched the sunset on the front porch.  As I was looking around at how green everything is right now, I realized that I could do a pretty good workout in my driveway and on my front porch (and still be within range of the baby monitor).  If you have followed my prior workouts, a lot of times I do circuits in the house.  Having the ability to do something outside is a game changer!

photo 4-19I grabbed a pair of dumbbells before heading outside. It is so much easier to do a warm up with some space!  Total workout time came in a little over thirty minutes.  However, you could most definitely do this in less. The first round through I was spending extra time working out some kinks of transition.

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Warm Up I start my watch when I start my warm up.  Today, I used the driveway to do some dynamic stretches.  I also did a serious of plyometic drills, starting on one end of the flat part of the driveway to the other end (about 20 yards one way, 20 yards back).  Think high knees, butt kicks, karaoke runs.

Workout I followed the order of the exercises below sequentially and completed the entire set 3 times.

  • Dumbbell swing – Exactly like a kettlebell swing, but use a dumbbell.  Do 15.
  • Burpees – Do 15.
  • Kettlebell push press (only with a dumbbell) – Do 15 each arm.  Notice the trend of 15?
  • Walking lunges – over the same distance that I did my plyometric drills, I held a dumbbell in each hand and walked down and back.  Weights by your side.
  • Side shuffle – body weight, over the same distance as the lunges, go down and back. When you come back continue facing the same side.
  • High knees – just like the side shuffle, down and back (your heart rate should get up).
  • Backwards squat walk – holding a squat, walk backwards down and back. Think low.
  • Bicep curls – isolate one arm.  Do 15 each arm.
  • Dips – Off the side of my porch.  Really focus on pushing through your hands when you come back up.  Do 15.
  • Single leg butt lift – Off the bottom step of my porch.  Yes, you have to lie on the ground.  Do 15 each leg.

By the time I was done I could seriously feel the burn.  Hopefully my neighbors don’t think i’m too crazy!

photo 1-41I want to take a second to pick up where I ended in my last post. Since the weather was finally nice on Sunday, we were able to take a long walk (which included a stop at a local grocery store and lunch). If you haven’t been to Reid’s, located right on Selwyn in Myers Park, you need to stop by. This small grocery store used to be located uptown, but relocated a little over a year ago. Talk about convenient. On our walk, we got freshly made sandwiches and salads to eat on their outdoor patio, before buying steaks and vegetables for dinner. Check out my salad above.

photo 2-41 Good thing we walked, because for my Mother’s Day/Anniversary eve dinner, my husband did all of the cooking. Strip Steaks on the grill, baked potatoes and fresh cut green beans.

1204_JenJeffEng_143I must say, I didn’t intentionally plan to get married two years ago on Mother’s Day weekend. However, it is pretty special to be able to celebrate being a mom and wife in the same week. We are a pretty low key couple, and I know my husband would hate for me to say too much about him on social media, so let me keep this short. I’m not going to pretend like we had a fairy tale romance from the start, but over time I realized that the reason things weren’t perfect was because the best things never are. Prior to meeting my husband, I’m not really sure what I envisioned the person I would marry being like, but I’m pretty sure that all of the events leading up to me moving to Charlotte happened so that we could fall in love. It’s hard to believe two years is in the books.   I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for us!

Throwback YMCA Lunch Workout

Today’s workout title is interesting. “Throwback YMCA” based on the fact that I haven’t worked out at a Charlotte YMCA in months and “Lunch” because I did my workout in the middle of the work day. Let me first say that the YMCA of Greater Charlotte will forever hold a place in my heart. If you didn’t know, my husband and I met while he was teaching an athletic conditioning class at the Dowd Y. The Dowd Y was also the first gym that I ever belonged to in Charlotte (so it is also the place that I met some of my best girlfriends).   As far as Y’s go, the Charlotte area YMCA’s are top of the line. However, with the introduction of boutique studios all over the metro area, the Y has had to find a way to revamp its equipment.

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Post workout with Janis

They took their first big step to refurbishing their look, by doing an extensive remodel of the Childress Klein YMCA located in uptown Charlotte. Since this is within walking distance to my office, and my membership allows me to visit any Y in the Greater Charlotte area, I thought this would be the best place for me to try a quick lunch workout. Within minutes of being in the facility I saw a familiar face – Janis Smith. Janis is now the group exercise coordinator of the Childress Klein Y. After minutes of catching up, she was ready to show me the new facility and even gave me a workout to try that she promised wouldn’t take more than 25-30 minutes. PERFECT!

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The renovation opened up a significant amount of space (making it look more appealing), but through the remodel an old area of offices was made into a core training room. The main equipment available for anyone to use is listed below:

  • Kettle bells
  • Wall Balls
  • Plyo Boxes
  • Sleds
  • Pull Up Bars
  • Training Ropes
  • Monkey Rigs (being installed the day that I worked out)

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So how did I use this equipment to do a quick workout during my lunch break? Janis gave me a mock CrossFit workout that did not include any complex moves.

Warm up – Four laps around the track (approximately 800 meters) at a warm up pace.

Workout – Complete the following four exercises as fast as you can four times:

  • Run two laps around the track (400 meters)
  • 15 Kettle bell swings
  • 15 AbMat Sit-ups
  • 15 Ball Slams

Birthday Celebration + End of Week Catch up

Wow!  So much going on at the end of the week.  Like I said in a prior post, it is the end of quarter close at work (which requires additional work on top of tight deadlines), we finally took an offer on our condo at Metropolitan and our daughter continues to wake up several times a night (we still think she is teething).  With all of that said, I skipped a day from posting yesterday.  Perfect time for me to admit, that days off are good for you (and that includes exercise).  Pushing yourself to the point of fatigue makes your workouts less effective and the risk of injury goes up.

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Thursday Workout – My daughter loves “selflies”.  It is ridiculous that she can instantly put on a big “cheese” when she sees herself in the camera.  To get jazzed up for our afternoon run, we took a series of “selflies”.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous, so my Thursday run was with the jogger.  Slow three miles.  My legs were dead from some of the weight workouts this week and I stopped several times to take my daughter out of her stroller to look around.

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Friday “Dawn Patrol” – My Friday workout is teaching my class.  That’s it.  If you didn’t think that I was working as hard as you are, I am.  It would be crazy for me to ask people taking my class to do something that I wasn’t doing myself.  I love the early morning work crowd.  As usual, they pushed through a heavy workout to start their day off right.  We even had time for some blurred, photo bombed “selflies”!  Great work this morning “Dawn Patrol”.

10153702_742583359119713_1520110018_nLike I said, work was crazy busy towards the end of the week, but I was able to stay a little later on Friday, which gave me extra time to grab lunch with my girlfriend Meredith.  True story on how we became friends: When Flywheel first opened, there were five people who rode regularly in the 6AM class (there was no 5:30AM).  Of those five people, I have found two of what I would consider my closest friends (including Meredith).  Our “regular” lunch spot uptown is Dean and Deluca.  I always forget how fresh their build your own salad bar is.  This salad looks like something out of a magazine!

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That brings me to Friday night.  Birthday dinner.  My family is in town, so we took advantage of our time together to celebrate my dad’s birthday.  My dad is truly one of the most important people in my life. I can only hope that my daughter and my husband develop the same great relationship as she grows up.  We chose Nolen Kitchen to celebrate.  Honestly, my experience at this place is different every time that I go.  Last night happened to be incredible.  The waiter convinced us to try their recently recognized zucchini chips as an appetizer.  Believe it or not, they are super light and delicious.

photo 3-6For dinner I had the special:  Seared trout with a tomato/jalapeno roasted succotash.  It did not disappoint. Although this isn’t a regular on the menu, there are so many options here (including gluten free).

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Perfect fuel for all of the rides I have planned this weekend.  Weather is supposed to be a little cooler in Charlotte Saturday afternoon.  Grab a bike!  I’m all over the schedule at Flywheel this weekend.