Easter Weekend Wrap-Up and an Exciting Fitness Announcement

Happy Easter Monday, everyone! I hope you had a blessed Good Friday and Easter. My weekend was super busy but fantastic.

I took off from work on Friday to prepare for the weekend’s feasting and to spend some time at church. The Good Friday service that I attended was more liturgical than the ones I normally go to on Sunday, but I loved it. One of the recitations from the Book of Common Prayer, the guide for Anglican services, really stood out to me:

We glory in your cross, O Lord,
and praise and glorify your holy resurrection;
for by virtue of your cross
joy has come to the whole world.

May God be merciful to us and bless us,
show us the light of his countenance, and come to us.

Let your ways be known upon earth,
your saving health among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

We glory in your cross, O Lord,
and praise and glorify your holy resurrection;
for by virtue of your cross
joy has come to the whole world.

It reminded me again how much God wants to bring us into fullness in our health and humanity through Christ!

On Saturday morning, my husband and I ventured to Culpepper, Virginia, which is about 70 miles from D.C., where my accountability partner lives. She was teaching for the launches of the new cycles of BodyPump and BodyCombat at her gym, and I was so glad to finally get to see her in action! The classes were fantastic — especially the music for the new BodyPump release. After our workout, we met up with our husbands for brunch at a local diner and walked around the extremely charming downtown, which is full of specialty food shops and boutiques. (I love when the character of historic towns are preserved, and when they thrive!) I definitely want to go back!

My parents and brother and sister-in-law came into town on Saturday afternoon, and we all went into D.C. for dinner at Rasika, one of my favorite restaurants, to belatedly celebrate my mom and sister-in-law’s birthdays. (It was the first time my parents had ever been to an Indian restaurant, and it was a success!) After the delicious meal, my husband gave everyone an impromptu tour of the city by car, and we ended up at the Pentagon Memorial. I had never been there before, and it was very beautiful and moving, especially as the sun was setting.

Sunday morning was a glorious celebration of the Resurrection! My whole family went to my church for the 8:30 a.m. Celebration Service, which was a huge blessing. The sermon was fantastic and focused heavily on God’s grace. (I really want to listen to the sermon again when they post it online, hopefully today.)

The rest of the morning was spent preparing for a delicious feast! I love holidays and especially the fantastic meals that accompany them. I hosted last Christmas and again yesterday for Easter, and both times I’ve gotten ham and turkey from Honeybaked Ham. Nothing else comes close!

One of my favorite things about our Easter celebration was the candy boxes that I prepared for everyone. It’s not Easter without Easter baskets, and I thought that these came pretty close.

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No one was allowed to open them until we sat down for the meal, and everyone was surprised and excited about the stash of goodies inside!

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Following the meal and some fantastic desserts — Georgetown Cupcakes (another holiday splurge) and my mom’s homemade mini cheesecakes made to look like birds’ nests — we dyed Easter eggs. I love still participating in holiday traditions that we enjoyed as kids!

My family ventured back to Pennsylvania soon after we finished our egg coloring, and I spent the rest of the evening relaxing from all of the celebrations. I fell asleep watching a movie with my husband on the couch and wasted no time falling asleep in my bed soon after. I decided to take the morning off from work today, to allow a little time for extra sleep, and I’m so glad that I did. I feel energized now and ready to take on the week!

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And now for my exciting fitness announcement!

I’ve officially signed up for a 5k race on June 21st!

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Last week, an email arrived in my inbox advertising the Fit Foodie 5k. I looked into it a bit more, and decided that it would be perfect for my first race of this journey, because it embodies everything that I am trying to achieve — a balance between healthy living and loving food!

The concept of the Fit Foodie was born out of the idea that a healthy lifestyle and delicious culinary experiences don’t have to be separate. Calories burned, calories earned, right?? Life is about balance and working hard so that you can indulge in those things that you are passionate about. When delicious food, working out, and good friends are all combined, it is a beautiful culmination of all that life has to offer.

Sponsored by Cooking Light and Health magazines, the event is only being held in three cities, and Fairfax, Virginia, is one of them! The race location is 20 to 25 minutes from our house.

Following the race, I get to indulge in delicious tastings and fitness demos!

Cruise across the finish line and get ready to celebrate your success in style. At the Finisher’s Village, you’ll enjoy a post-event celebration where runners can enjoy refuel stations, celebrity chef demos and tastings, fitness demos at the Power Systems stage, beer and wine tastings, giveaways, and delicious bites from participating restaurants, sponsors, and more! 

I think this race is going to be perfect for me, and I can’t wait! I think it will also be great motivation to continue with my training plan! (Thanks to my friend Kelly for the suggestion, and to Carli for the Lululemon gift card! I’m going to get a new outfit with it, just for this race.)

What was your favorite part of your Easter celebrations?

Besides the C25k plan, how else should I prepare for my Fit Foodie race?

Weekend Wrap-Up: Cherry Blossoms Edition

Happy Tuesday, friends!

So, I know the weekend is two days behind us, but I wanted to give a little recap of last Saturday, when I enjoyed my favorite rite of spring in D.C.: the National Cherry Blossom Festival!

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a 3-week celebration that takes place in D.C. in late March and early April, officially commemorating Japan’s gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the city in 1912 as a token of friendship, and unofficially kicking off spring.

The cherry trees reach “peak bloom” — when 70 percent of the blossoms on the trees around the Tidal Basin are open — during the Festival, and tourists and residents alike flock to take photos and celebrate the new season. Because of the crazy winter that we had, the trees reached peak bloom on April 10 — the latest date in over a decade. (They barely arrived before the official end of the Festival!)

My parents came into town last weekend to enjoy the blossoms, and I went with them to the Tidal Basin on Saturday morning. I knew that it was going to be crowded, but always amazes me how many people actually show up! Despite the crowds, I had a wonderful time on an incredibly gorgeous day.

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The beauty brought to mind some verses from the Gospel of Luke: “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you — you of little faith!” (Luke 12:27-28)

We even got to see FDR on our walk around the Tidal Basin:

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His memorial is sprawling and beautiful, with a number of statues and waterfalls.

After walking around the circumference of the Tidal Basin, a journey that took about 2 hours, my parents and I ventured further into the city for lunch at Taylor Gourmet. My dad is completely obsessed with hoagies — also known as subs to those outside of the Philadelphia area, where I’m originally from — and I knew that he would love Taylor, a local sandwich chain that specializes in Philly-style sandwiches. (They were recently named best sandwich place in all of D.C. by Washingtonian magazine’s Great Sandwich Smackdown.) I’m not sure if they still do, but at one point Taylor was trucking in their thick, chewy rolls daily from Philadelphia.

I had enjoyed two cold Taylor sandwiches when my office had it catered several months ago, but I had never actually been to the storefront for a hot sandwich. It was worth the wait! I splurged and enjoyed the Benjamin Franklin Parkway — basically a chicken parm sub made with an Italian-breaded chicken cutlet and amazing sharp provolone cheese. (Every sandwich is named after a different street in Philadelphia!)

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Even though the restaurant didn’t have outside seating, we cheated a bit and ate our lunch at a table outside of the Starbucks next door. It was an incredibly enjoyable meal in the gorgeous weather! I love eating outside when I can, and it was great to spend such quality time with my parents.

Following lunch, my parents went on their way to do some more sightseeing, and I headed back to my car (but not before stopping to do some browsing at the mall where I parked.)

When I got home, I went grocery shopping, completed one of my C25k workouts, and helped my husband prepare dinner. The rest of the evening was super low-key, since I had done so much during the day! I even reached a personal record on my FitBit — 25,060 steps travelled, equivalent to 10.32 miles!

It was a truly fantastic Saturday!

Does your city have some type of spring festival?

Do you have a favorite sandwich place? I definitely prefer hot sandwiches to cold! Meatball sandwiches are a particular favorite.

Weekend Wrap-Up: March 16, 2014

Happy weekend, everyone! (I know, it’s almost over, but it’s not Monday yet, so I can still celebrate…)

This weekend was a whirlwind. My hubby was out of town for the weekend, so I tried to make my time without him as productive as possible.

I stayed home on Friday night. I’m usually quite tired on Friday nights from the week’s routine, and this Friday was no exception. I enjoyed leftover fajitas at home and then did some work on the blog and my Twitter page. I also figured out how to make a blog reader for myself using Feedly. What a cool website!

On Saturday morning, I made a list of the things that I wanted to accomplish for the rest of the weekend. I’m happy to say that I did get done 75% of them!

My biggest accomplishment on Saturday was reaching one of my goals for the week–I attended back-to-back BodyPump and BodyCombat classes at my gym! What an incredible morning workout!

I absolutely loved the BodyPump class. While I know that weight lifting is essential for creating a lean physique, it’s not something I will usually do on my own. The class, with a combination of bar work and some free weights, uses great music to make the time pass quickly and an instructor to encourage proper form. When I had done it in the past, I used too much weight and was in serious pain for days. I started small and only added a total of 5 pounds to my bar this time. I’m still quite sore today, but it’s a good sore. I know it means I am getting stronger.

Here is my current motto:

(I’ve loved Kelly Clarkson since she was on American Idol, and I saw her in concert last summer at Scentsy Convention in Indianapolis! She was excellent and so down-to-earth: she played most of her set without wearing shoes.)

I also felt so accomplished completing a full BodyCombat class after BodyPump. The session was pretty intense, with lots of kickboxing and martial arts type moves. I will definitely do it again, because it is a great workout and immediately follows BodyPump on Saturday mornings, but I think I prefer Zumba.

The weather was so amazing on Saturday afternoon–about 70 degrees and sunny–that I decided to make my lunch on the grill outside. After doing some work around the house, I took our dog for a delightful 35 minute walk. (After working out so much in the morning and walking in the afternoon, I hit 15,000 daily steps on my FitBit!)

On Saturday night, I went out with three of my best girlfriends to one of my top restaurant picks, Lebanese Taverna. I’m having a love affair with Mediterranean food recently, because the cuisine is so delicious, fresh, and relatively healthy. And as much as I love the hummus that you can buy at the grocery store, nothing compares to the fresh stuff that you can get at the restaurant.

This morning was filled by church, and afterward I treated myself to lunch at Panera. I had alot of errands to run, and getting a quick bite to eat somewhere seemed easier than going home and having to go back out again. I’m having a love affair with Panera right now, too, for almost the same reasons that I love Mediterranean food: if you plan it right, you can get a really delicious meal for a reasonable amount of calories. (And their kettle cooked potato chips, which I really love, are only 150 calories.)

After all of those errands this afternoon, I finally made it to the gym tonight in the last hour that it was open! They had to tell me to leave at closing time, just as I was finishing by stretching. My legs felt like lead, but I still managed to get in a great workout:

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I will be honest, though–probably my primary motivation for going to the gym today was to indulge in these without going over my daily calorie target:

Delicious!

Delicious!

For those observing Lent, every Sunday is a feast day, when the Lenten fast can be broken.  I did not break my fast last Sunday, because I felt that I had done enough damage with the Dominos pizza that I ate, but I decided to enjoy a treat tonight. Wegmans, my favorite grocery store on the planet–which also happens to be just across the street from our townhome development (like my gym)–has some of the best cookies around. Aptly named, their Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies were exactly what I wanted. I enjoyed them with 1 cup of milk, which I also really haven’t had since I cut out sweets.

While the weekend was good, I really didn’t get to relax much (with the exception of Friday night). Even though it was 70 degrees yesterday, it is snowing again, and I’m holding out for a delayed opening tomorrow, at least.

Have you ever tried BodyCombat? What did you think?

What is your favorite treat? Those chocolate chip cookies rank very high on my list!