Challenge Accepted

At the beginning of the month, as I was leaving The Barre Code, my friend-instructor Jen asked me if I was participating in the Get Hot for Summer 2015 challenge (take 18 classes in 21 days & be entered to win a lot of very cool prizes!!!). Before I could even answer, she told me I was doing it.
The only challenge I’ve ever participated in at The Barre Code was the bingo challenge over the holidays because it involved both classes and fun holiday activities, like treating a friend to hot chocolate and making Christmas cookies. A “challenge” I could easily attain.
IMG_2892I usually take about 3-4 classes a week because with my work schedule and Larry’s work schedule that’s all I could fit in. Or so I thought. By participating in this challenge I would essentially be doubling my class load. I looked at my schedule for June and decided to go for. Challenge accepted.
I decided to take on the challenge because the past two summers I have dedicated my time and sacrificed my social life to marathon training. I was THRILLED when I found out I was pregnant with baby #2, but a part of me felt a little sad that I was going to have to “take it easy” this summer and take time off from training for anything for the rest of the year. I like setting goals for myself and achieving them, so the thought of doing nothing all summer really didn’t sit well with me. Enter this challenge and a new mindset: instead of wallowing, I decided to look at it as training for my delivery-which is definitely an athletic event in its own right.
How I made it work
*Each week, I fit 6 classes into my schedule. Luckily, I get an hour to workout that’s built into my work day (if the work gets done) so that helped out A LOT. Because of Larry’s schedule change I moved my normal night classes to morning classes. I’d drop Madelyn off at daycare at her normal time, but instead of heading to work right away, I went straight to The Barre Code. When we were in Chicago visiting Larry’s parents, I took advantage of trying out a new studio in Oak Park to get my 6th stamp for the week.
oakpark*I attended class 5 times a week, but one day a week I doubled up on classes.
*I found time in my schedule. The day I ran my 5k, I also signed up for a 9am barre class.
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*I scheduled my classes ahead of time. At The Barre Code, you have to cancel a class before the 4 hour mark in order not to get charged a $10 fee. Once I was within that 4 hour mark, I was committed. The only workout you regret is the one you didn’t do.
I completed 18 classes in 19 days. I took the last two days off from the challenge because I had a lot to get done around our house before we go out of town. I took 11 Barre Code Classes (strength training), 5 Interval Classes (cardio!), 1 TBC class in Oak Park (2 cardio blasts sandwiched between 30 minutes of strength training, and 1 Brawl class (cardio kickboxing). Overall, the challenge left me feeling strong, energized and fit in my ever growing body. The days I doubled up on classes, I noticed that my appetite was really high and naps were necessary. I enjoyed taking the cardio classes and modifying as I saw fit. I plan on writing a post on how I modified the classes throughout my pregnancy.
gethotchallengeNow that the challenge is over, my goal is to attend as many classes as my schedule allows me to (reasonably about 4-5 classes a week). I can’t wait to take on the next challenge which will probably be after the baby is born.
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What was the last fitness challenge you participated in? What was it? How do you find time to make fitness a priority in your life?

Friday Favorites!

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Friday Favorites post. Here’s a list of the things that I’m loving this week:

My Grandpa. This week and every week. He painted the majority of Madelyn’s room and I’m finishing up the rest today. I hate painting, but I love my grandpa for doing this for us.
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My Kelly Moore Bag. Happy {early} Mother’s Day to me! I recently traded in my Canon Rebel T3i for a newer model, so naturally the new camera called for a new home. I love that I can carry my camera around in a bag that looks like and acts like a purse and. No need for multiple bags. The bag lady look just isn’t my jam and I was always forgetting something.
IMG_3409All The Boston Marathon recaps. You can read some of my favorites here, here, and here. So inspiring!
Stitch Fix (

Lunch time workouts. Makes the day go by so much quicker!
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This article. 12 Simple, Important Things You Only Learn from your Little Sister. Thanks Melissa for teaching me so much 🙂
Now it’s off to finish painting and putting Madelyn’s new room together. We have a fun weekend planned filled with birthday celebrations. So many April birthdays!
What things are you loving this week?!

Pure Barre Whitefish Bay

Hey guys! I’m finally back from Guam. It was nice to get away for about two weeks to soak up some sun, relax and work of course, but it feels good to be back with my munchkin! It’s amazing how much she has learned and changed in just the few weeks away.
Happy Toddler, Tired Mama
Happy Toddler, Tired Mama
 Jet lag the week I got home was a killer.  All I wanted to do was sleep but someone else had other plans for me:
zoodays
 Now that I’m back to work and into my routine, my energy level is as normal as it’s going to be for right now. One thing that I didn’t skip a beat on was working out. I was back at it the very next day. When I’m super tired, working out always makes me feel ten times better. It’s counterintuitive, but it helps so much.
Running and barre have always been my two favorite workouts to do. They go hand in hand with one another and I’m a strong believer that barre is the reason I remained completely injury-free during my last marathon training cycle. Since moving back to Milwaukee from Chicago, the Milwaukee area now has THREE barre studios. Barre is here to stay folks.
The latest studio to open is Pure Barre-Whitefish Bay. It’s located just north of the city near The Bayshore Town Center. I first heard of Pure Barre while I was taking barre classes in Chicago. I never got a chance to try it while I was there, so I was excited to be given the opportunity to try out a class at the Whitefish Bay studio.
The Space
 When you walk in, you almost feel like you’ve stepped into a place located in the North Woods. The retail space has a very woodsy, cozy feel. The actual studio itself is carpeted (Just like the Bar Method studio I used to attend), and off of the studio is a prop closet. It looks like the props stay the same for each class: two sets of weights (one heavy, one light), a ball and a band.
pbretailWhat to Expect in Class
The class began with a warm-up. For our warm up we did a series of leg lifts with alternating arm raises. We moved right into arm work using both sets of weights and our band. Next, was core followed by thighs, seat, abs with round back and flat back against the bar and wall, finally ended it with seat dancing and a cool down. The class is 55 minutes long and it moves along very quickly. There is a stretch session after each muscle group is worked. Along with the instructor leading the class, there were two other instructors taking class that we were instructed to watch in case we got lost in class. This particular class I took was a little bit lower energy than what I am used to, but it could be that the energy of the class varies by instructor. Although I left feeling like my muscles had been worked, I found the thigh section to be a bit shorter than what I was used to. Short, but yet still effective.
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Pros
-Class went by incredibly fast! There was a lot packed into those 55 minutes.
-Hands on corrections. I know some people don’t appreciate being corrected, but even the slightest move can make a world of difference in that muscle and prevent potential injury.
-Positive reinforcement. Just when I wasn’t sure if I was doing a sequence right, the instructor said, “Great job Maria!” So I kept with it. I once read somewhere that people really enjoy hearing their name. I think that’s why Bar Method is so adamant that the instructors learn the clients name so that they can use them in class.
-Lights out during back dancing and stretch. I felt like I was in a yoga class during stretch and I LOVED that! The instructor came along and gave us gentle pressure, getting us deeper into the stretch. It felt really great because my hamstrings are super tight.
-Controlled mic volume. The instructor had a device in her hands that allowed her to lower the sound of the music while she was setting up the move so hearing her was never a problem.
Cons
-It’s Expensive. A single class is $23. They do offer a 1 month new client special for $99 so that you can decide if it’s something you want to invest in for the long haul.
-Small changing area. I can see that being a problem for the after work crowd.
-The music. It wasn’t so much the genre as much as it was that you heard the same song repeatedly during a set. If a song ended in the middle of thigh, the instructor just repeated it instead of moving onto another song.
Overall, I think that Pure Barre is a great studio in a good location. It’s a little far from where I live and not at all on my way home from work, but parking didn’t seem to be a problem which is always a plus. It’s located in Whitefish Bay, so there’s plenty of residential parking and I believe they do have a parking lot in the back. It reminds me a lot of The Bar Method, which is where I found my love of barre workouts. It’s a little lower energy & gentler than what I’m used to and the only class they offer are barre classes. If you’re in the North Shore area, and looking to see what this barre craze is all about, I highly suggest checking it out!

Catch Up

I’m alive! I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog post. In the little spare time I have, I’ve had my nose in the books, studying for a promotion test that I have to take for work. Good news is that I passed! Bad news? It’s a two-parter, so I’ll be back at it studying for the second part within a week or two. My brain needs a little break right now. I’ll be happy when it’s behind me.
So, what have I been up to since my last post?
Running
Slowly getting back into the swing of things. I ran 4 miles yesterday at a 9:14 pace, longest run post marathon. I headed down to the lakefront after work and it was completely dead compared to the last time I ran down there. I started by the lakefront but ended up running more in neighborhoods. I ran without music and it was very therapeutic. I had a lot of thoughts to last me 4 miles 🙂 Now that the marathon is behind me, I want to start training with a purpose. During my last two marathons, my goal was just to finish and to beat my previous time (2nd time around). Now, I’d like to focus on getting faster, add in more speed work, and educate myself more on marathon racing/nutrition. Next up on the race list? I am signed up for a Thanksgiving day run…running stroller category! I’ll be doing my first ever 5k while pushing Madelyn in the jogger. That should be interesting. Fingers crossed for good weather.
strollerunCooking
I’ve been dabbling with a little bit of everything the past few weeks: {partly} paleo, vegetarian substitutions, and vegan cooking. I recently purchased this cookbook and made Eat Your Greens Detox Soup. Oh She Glows has been a long time favorite blog of mine, so I was thrilled when I got it in the mail. I’m hoping to make some more meals very soon out of it.
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The soup was delicious, and perfect for a cold, autumn night. It freezes well too. I also changed it up with the old spaghetti squash creations. A few weeks ago, Danielle Walker from Against all Grain put up a picture with a link to a delicious looking casserole type dish: Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash. Once the spaghetti squash was cooked and shredded (thanks hubs!) this was incredibly easy to put together. Just how I like it! We also had leftovers of this that I froze and ate for lunch throughout the week. I really want Danielle’s next cookbook, Against All Grain-Meals Made Simple. I think I’ll add it to my Christmas list.
Celebrating
This past weekend, I celebrated my 30th birthday! It was the perfect weekend filled with all of my favorite things to do with all of my favorite people. I started the weekend off with a class at The Barre Code with my mom and sister, taught by one of my faves 🙂 Then we headed over to Polished for manicures and mimosas. After that, I went home and took a NAP! (My in-laws had Madelyn). When I woke up, I got dressed and ready to go celebrate with my husband. What I thought was going to just be dinner and drinks somewhere turned out to be a surprise party! I knew Larry had something up his sleeve, I just didn’t know what and to what extent. When we arrived at Camp Bar and he suggested we go “walk around to check it out” as I was trying to Instagram my Old Fashioned (they have THE BEST!),  I was onto him. It was so great to see all of my friends and family there to celebrate. It’s really hard to get surprises past me, so I give them props. If I know something’s going on, I usually bug the person until they just tell me (Larry is usually the only one who caves) and then I get mad at him for telling me. I’m the worst. The biggest surprise of the night? A Michael Kors handbag. And inside the handbag was a wrapped book clueing me in to a New York City trip! I didn’t know when we were going until I opened up the book and saw that we’ll be ringing in 2015 in NYC!!! I’m thrilled! Larry knows that I’ve always wanted to visit NYC during the holidays. Well played husband, well played.
bestbirthdayeverThere’s a story behind the book. It’s a kids series called Larry gets lost in…(Fill in the city). My mom got Madelyn her first one when she went to San Francisco and every time we’re in a city where they sell the book, we buy it. When I surprised Larry with his trip to Boston, I had the book gift-wrapped with baseball tickets inside. She has San Fran, Chicago, Boston & NYC.
The next morning, I started my day off with a run and then we enjoyed a peaceful, childless brunch before picking up Madelyn at our meeting spot. My mom cooked a delicious meal from Against All Grain. And of course birthday cake. She bought me tickets to a Broadway show in NYC. I was super excited to be spending New Year’s Eve in Times Square-something on the bucket list-until I read all of these horrible reviews basically giving advice not to do it. I went back and forth on it for a couple of days and then decided that it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity, it’s the reason Larry bought the tickets for the dates he did, and the older I get, the less appealing it will probably be. So, we’ve decided to brave the craziness and do it!
Other things on my NYC to do list so far: Run through Central Park, Frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity, Walk the Brooklyn Bridge, Ice skating at Rockefeller Center, visit Babycakes Bakery NYC, The 9/11 memorial museum, and a Carriage Ride through Central Park. I told my husband we will need a vacation after this trip 🙂
It’s been a great month so far and I have lots to look forward to. The next few months are going to fly!
What are some other must see/eat/do things in NYC? What’s your favorite way to ring in the New Year? I’m a bum, I prefer staying in, making dinner and fancy drinks at home over getting dressed up to go out. This year will be a nice change of pace!

TBC at The Barre Code

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The Barre Code Milwaukee has a new class on its schedule: TBC! (Total Body Conditioning or The Boot Camp). What’s this class all about? TBC stands for both Total Body Conditioning and The Boot Camp. This bootcamp-style workout consisting of functional, full-range-of-motion strength training exercises designed to challenge the whole body with a host of props including heavier weights as well as body weight exercises. Though predominately strength-based, this class is bookended by high-intensity cardio intervals. (From the website). Continue reading

Meals & Workouts for the Week + a Cardio Playlist

Oh Monday…so nice to see you 🙂  To say it’s been a long week and weekend would be an understatement.  A long week followed by a drill weekend is no bueno, but it did end on a high note:

GIRLS

GIRLS is back on TV!  So excited and thrilled to see what’s in store for Season 3.

Last week’s workouts consisted mostly of low-mileage runs and barre classes.  I’m just getting over some kind of sickness and my lungs were just not feeling it.  I didn’t complete a run longer than 4 miles.

This week, I’m feeling better and am starting to train for a 1/2 marathon I have coming up in March.  I’m hoping to get outside today for a run since it’s so nice!  I can’t remember the last run I had outside.

Here’s what’s on the agenda for this week:

Monday: Strength train plus run 4 miles / Spaghetti with veggies & pasta sauce
Tuesday: Run 3 miles + Abs and lower body / Slow cooker Sweet potato Chili
Wednesday: Barre Bee / leftovers
Thursday: 3 mile run + abs /Meatloaf from Runner’s World Cookbook
Friday: stretching & foam rolling

One of the things that’s been getting me through runs on the treadmill are my playlists that I’ve made on Spotify.  Inspired by some of the music I heard at barre, I decided to make a DIVAS cardio playlist.  It’s pretty much awesome.

Workouts & Meals for the Week

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone’s weekend was a good one.  I spent my Saturday in Chicago with two of my best girlfriends.  We took the Amtrak from Milwaukee and spent the day shopping, eating and drinking.  It was fabulous.  I even got to check out the New Eataly and can’t wait to make dinner with the pasta sauce I bought from there.  This place was pretty amazing and can’t wait to go back there with hubs.

eataly

So this week, I’m bringing back running as my main form of exercise.  I had lots of fun going to barre as much as possible in December, but I’m running a 1/2 marathon with my mom in March and I need to build my mileage back up.  Here’s what’s on the schedule as far as eats and workouts go:

Monday: Spicy Sausage & Mushroom Soup + run 4 and strength.

Tuesday: Spaghetti & meatballs + Run 4 and abs.

Wednesday: Slow Cooker meal + strength training

Thursday: Fish & Veggies + Barre Bee

Friday: Running, Interval Barre + dinner at my mom’s.

Saturday and Sunday we have drill so workouts are to be determined BUT I saw that we are supposed to be back up into the 30s so I run outside might be in order.

It’s FREEZING here today.  Schools and businesses have closed down.  I was supposed to go to Barre Bee today but they canceled all of their morning classes so I’ll be hitting up the gym today instead, which doesn’t open until 9am (normal time 5am).  Every time I look at my phone, the temperature just keeps falling :-/

What’s the weather like where you live?  Stay warm everyone!

Barre Bee Fit in #MKE

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am a HUGE fan of Barre workouts.  I took classes at a barre studio in Chicago and when we moved up to Wisconsin, I started a collection of different DVDs…total of 6 I rotate through.

The DVDs were good, but I missed going to class and getting the best possible workout.  There’s no one there to encourage you or to push yourself harder.  And a sturdy chair with a high back doesn’t even compare to the ballet barre. Continue reading

Belly Up to the Barre

Hello friends!  How’s your week going?  I’m PUMPED to be hosting my second Thanksgiving, but our first one in our new house.  I love to cook, so this is my favorite holiday ever.  AND our new house has a double oven!! So, I was on a cleaning & shopping mission today and I was successful 🙂

But before I got down to business scrubbing counters and sweeping floors, I had a very fun and interesting morning.  So a few weeks ago I mentioned that  Milwaukee would be getting its first ever barre studio.  I learned through Lululemon’s facebook page that Barre Bee Fit would be hitting the Third Ward early December.  To say I was excited to hear this news is an understatement.  Barre is by far my absolute favorite toning workout because it gives you results that you can see just after a few weeks of going to class.  It’s amazing.

Last week the owner put out a message that she was looking for people to come to a live preview class because Fox 6 news was going to be there.  I had planned on taking off of work anyway to get some Thanksgiving day errands done so I decided to add this my day as well.  I’m so glad that I did.  The space is beautiful and it was nice to get a little sampling of what to expect in the class.  I can confidently say that this will become an addiction.  I am already a big fan and like it over the Bar Method classes that I took in Chicago because it also has cardio intervals.

This couldn’t have come at a better time-with the weather being brutally cold already in Wisconsin, this will be a good alternative to doing cardio on the treadmill.  AND barre classes are excellent cross-training workouts for runners because it targets and helps strengthen all of those injury-prone areas 😉

Check out the Fox 6 Real Milwaukee footage **here**!

As a thank you for coming, the owner gave us all a pair of grippy socks, a voucher for a free class and then I bought the white tank top.  I can’t wait for their opening day which is happening December 7th!

BBF