Carmel Valley Travel Diary (+ Surrounding Exploration)

May 17, 2017

Travel recap of a 36-hour adventure to beautiful Carmel Valley with stops along the way.

MM and I were looking for a mini getaway to celebrate a whole host of things: my birthday (May 1), his birthday (May 7) and our 6-month wedding anniversary (May 5). Initially, we were planning to go to Tahoe to sneak in some Spring skiing before the slopes close, but opted for an easier and more relaxing visit to Carmel Valley, just 2 hours south of San Francisco. One of the main reasons I leaned towards Carmel? Drive another 30ish minutes further south and you hit Bixby Bridge on the way to beautiful Big Sur (anyone else a Big Little Lies fan?).

We booked our trip super last minute, snagging our hotel room just two days before the trip. I referred to Andi’s recent Carmel recap to guide our plan. Like Andi, we stayed at Blue Sky Lodge, which isn’t the nicest hotel in the world, but it gets the job done. It’s dog-friendly. quiet, quaint, and right downtown so you can walk to the tasting rooms and restaurants. Our room was $200 for the night which was one of the least expensive rates in the area, especially when booking only two days in advance.

Our trip was just one night, but we got to experience a lot of the Valley and surrounding areas. We’d previously visited Carmel-by-the-Sea, which at the time seemed like a quaint town. Compared to Carmel Valley though, you could call Carmel-by-the-Sea a bustling city. Carmel-by-the-Sea is on the water and Carmel Valley is a one-street little town about 20 minutes inland. While you could spend a full weekend in cute Carmel Valley, keep in mind how small it is. We spent an afternoon there and felt pretty content with what we covered. To explore more widely, we spent time across Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel Valley and Big Sur.

Here’s a rundown of what we ate, drank and saw in & around Carmel Valley.

EAT

LouLou’s Griddle in the Middle: We stopped at this hole-in-the-wall style joint in Monterey on our way to Carmel. It’s super small but very popular. We sat outside with Ollie and feasted on fresh fish and chips.

Cafe Rustica: Even though Carmel Valley is a teeny tiny town, there are so many great restaurants, it was hard to pick! Cafe Rustica was rated one of the top restaurants in the area and it didn’t disappoint. The heated patio made for a nice night.

Carmel Belle: We needed a quick grab-and-go breakfast since we didn’t want to waste any time as we headed south for Bixby Bridge, plus we had Ollie in tow. We stopped at Carmel Belle because it’s dog-friendly, quick and delicious.

DRINK

Carmel Valley is a street full of one tasting room after another. It’s extremely low key, and if you’re used to the scene of Napa, this will be a breath of fresh air. Not to mention, tastings are as low as $10, way cheaper than you’ll find in Napa or Sonoma. We did tastings at Parsonage, Boekenoogan and Testarossa. If you’re looking to wander through a small town tasting great wine (and who isn’t looking for that?), this a great place to do it.

Carmel Valley

Ollie checking the barrels at Testarossa. All good here!

If you visit Parsonage, say hi to Nemo the vino dog for us!

SEE

17-Mile Drive: This had been on our list from the last time we were in town and somehow we didn’t get to it. This time, it was a priority. A lot of reviews online say the drive is underwhelming and not worth the $10 entrance fee. I can’t fully disagree because it’s kind of silly you have to pay to drive on a street, but I’m still happy we did it, and would recommend it if you’re in the area. It’s a beautiful drive around Pebble Beach with dreamy ocean views and a look at the Lone Cyprus Tree.

Bixby Bridge: Yes, one of the reasons I wanted to head south was to drive over this iconic bridge. It’s just so beautiful!  I was obsessed with it before Big Little Lies, but that just increased my desire to get down there. I wasn’t the only one with the idea, there were a lot of people taking pictures of the scene. Even with a crowd, you’re still able to get great shots. Our weather was a bit gloomy, but that didn’t matter, it’s still such a sight.

Big Sur: After snapping 100 photos of the bridge, we continued south. Parts of Big Sur are currently closed so we went as far as we could, then turned around. I love windy cliffside views and this drive is full of them. It was honestly hard not to stop every few feet to get a new view of the waves. We passed a bunch of cabins and campgrounds and I’d love to head back down there for a weekend in the woods.

Carmel Valley

 

This part of California may be one of the most beautiful, and I feel lucky to have it a quick drive away. California friends or those making a west coast visit, make sure to add Carmel to your to-do list.

Healthy Moves on the Horizon & Fresh Week Vibes

May 15, 2017

I’ve been enjoying life, and hey, I’m not mad about it. But I’m ready to focus on those healthy moves I love so much.

Healthy Moves

This weekend was a whirlwind of activity and indulging. While I’m obviously sad the weekend is over, I’m ready to use today as a fresh start. My parents have been visiting, which means eating lots of delicious meals and exploring, without much care to the health factor of it all. If we’re being honest, I’ve sort of been doing this for the past few months…like six maybe?

When MM and I moved to SF, I was pretty restricted in my eating. It’s not that I wasn’t eating enough, trust me, I was, but I was extremely focused on what I was eating. It was mostly because of our upcoming wedding and my goal to look and feel my best by November 5. That kept me super on track, but also because I wasn’t working a full-time job, I was home to cook healthy meals (and also was working super hard to save money, because no full-time job=no regular paycheck).  On the weekends I wasn’t looking for the coolest new restaurant to try, we were cooking healthy meals at home, prepping for that wedding and saving big $$!

Then the wedding happened, and after I fell of the wagon. Hard. I’m not saying I’ve been super unhealthy, but I’ve definitely been letting myself experience San Francisco without holding myself back. I’ve been feeling guilt-free to try anything on the menu and yea, I’ll take a glass of wine with that. We went on our honeymoon, celebrated birthdays, entertained visitors and have been exploring the SF food scene as well as all the amazing surrounding areas.  And to simply mention workouts, I’ve been doing them, but my heart hasn’t been in them as much as I want. I could work harder and more focused and I haven’t been (this goes hand-in-hand with my eating habits).

Am I upset with myself for getting off track? Not at all. While I don’t feel my best, I know that how hard we work and how focused we are ebbs and flows. Sometimes you feel your best and all-in, other times healthy eating and working out fall by the wayside to make room for other things happening in life. I believe that these ebbs and flows are not only okay, they are necessary for a balanced life.

My exploration and enjoying life in SF isn’t going to stop, but I’m feeling ready to get back on some sort of track. By track, I definitely don’t mean the level I was at pre-wedding. Who knows if I’ll ever be back at that, or would want to be, but something in between where I was then, and where I am now. Here’s the thing, I have zero regrets about falling off the healthy wagon, but when I’m off my game, I don’t feel my best, and all the indulging has been catching up to the way I feel. It’s not about being skinnier (but not a side effect I’d ever be mad about), it’s about feeling healthy and feeling more like me.

So with a Monday upon us, I’m going to make my way back to a healthier track. My parents are still in town so there may be a delicious meal or two still in my future, but beyond that, let’s make some moves. And even if they seem like small moves, are still moves!

4 Healthy Moves I’m Making

  • Wake Up With Water: upping my hydration levels is a must
  • Schedule My Workouts (then stick to said schedule): aside from teaching, plan workouts for me
  • Practice 80/20 Eating: 80 percent on-point healthy, 20 percent saved for those indulging moments
  • Sleep More: Aim for those elusive 7-9 hours of sleep nightly

Simple enough, right? Maybe. If you’re like me and trying to make some healthy headway, I wish you a good, strong start to the week!

For The Guys: Rhone Workout Apparel X Equinox

May 3, 2017

Rhone & Equinox partner up to give you a gold-level fitness experience.

Rhone Workout Gear

Lately, I’ve (not-so-secretly) been trying to get MM to join me for more workouts. I’m training for a half marathon and could use the company, plus I know MM loves to run, he just needs to be reminded of it sometimes. My top ways to get him to run? First, I found a half marathon he couldn’t say no to, it’s in wine country and two of our friends were on board, he really had no choice. Next, I bribed him with some really slick new workout gear.

Success! We went for a run this weekend and he even suggested we run again last night (okay, confession, we didn’t actually go for that run, but even him suggesting was solid progress!).

Our weekend run did happen though, and it was a beautiful one. We ran along the Embarcadero for four miles, ending at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market. After the run, we treated ourselves to iced coffee and endless samples of fresh fruit before a leisurely stroll home. SF people & visitors, if you haven’t been to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, make sure to get there on the next sunny Saturday.

For our run, MM was outfitted in Rhone workout apparel. The high-performance activewear just came out with new GoldFusion Technology that infuses gold particles into the clothing. You read that right, gold! Um hi, Rhone, when are you going to make women’s apparel? I’m ready 🙂

GoldFusion gear dries up to three times faster than other leaders in the space and the moisture transfer allows you to move faster and feel lighter and cooler than ever.

If you’re looking to motivate the men in your life to get moving, this gear will help do the trick.

Rhone X Equinox

And now, Rhone is partnering with one of my favorite brands, Equinox! Rhone recently launched pop-up retail concepts at 11 Equinox locations across the country, including a few of my favorite locations: the Bay Area, Bethesda and NYC (get the full list HERE).

To celebrate the pop-up, 4 Equinox locations and Rhone are welcoming members and non-members to a free Metcon3 class on May 11. Attendees will get exclusive discounted shopping and freebies from Equinox and Rhone.

Metcon3 is one of my favorite Equinox classes. It’s a 45-minute high-intensity interval training class where you do 10 moves, each move for one minute, all in row. Then you repeat three rounds through, plus some special bonus moves to finish out strong. It’s one of my favorite classes to teach and take, so whether you’re an Equinox regular or have never stepped inside an EQ, sign up! Bay Area people, the San Mateo Equinox is hosting this special class 5/11 at 7:45pm, sign up HERE. I can’t make it because I teach an Equinox class that night in SF, but would love to hear from you if you attend!

Thank you to Rhone for partnering on this post and getting MM run-ready.

31 Adventures of 31: My Year in Review

May 1, 2017

Looking back on 31 adventures from the past year as I celebrate my 32nd birthday!

Happy Monday! And, happy birthday, to me! That’s right, today’s my birthday. Kind of an anticlimactic one, because Monday birthdays are kind of the worst, right? Usually, I have a co-birthday celebration with my friend (hey Caryn!), but this year, with a country between us, not so much. For this birthday, it’s a low-key one. Teaching my regular classes, going to work and then will go celebrate at dinner with MM.

To celebrate turning 32, I thought I’d take a look back on my year and all the crazy and exciting things that happened. Here are 31 memorable adventures from my year of 31.

  1. After 9 years of living in NYC, packed up everything and say farewell to the city.
  2. And moved to San Francisco!
  3. Took 2.5 weeks driving across the country, fulfilling a big dream of mine.
  4. Visited 3 new states (Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota), getting me closer to my goal of visiting all 50.
  5. Visited 5 National Parks (Badlands, Bryce, Zion, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone).
  6. Moved into an apartment with a washer & dryer (literally changed my life) and a pool, ah Cali living.
  7. Invested in grown-up furniture (finally!) after selling almost everything from life in NYC.
  8. Planned a wedding from across the country.
  9. Felt honored to have all the best ladies in my life come together for my bridal shower.
  10. Went to Charleston with 13 of my best friends to celebrate my bachelorette party.
  11. Then got married!
  12. Mini-mooned in Napa.
  13. Went on our African safari honeymoon.
  14. Visited 2 new countries (Botswana and Zimbabwe).
  15. Spent 36 hours traveling to get home from Africa (longest journey ever).
  16. Ran 3 half marathons (Brooklyn, San Francisco and SeaWheeze).
  17. Celebrated friends’ engagements, weddings and babies.
  18. Explored Vancouver during the Lululemon half marathon weekend.
  19. Ran across the Golden Gate Bridge 2 times (still obsessed).
  20. Tried teaching fitness as my full-time job at three gyms in SF.
  21. Decided that wasn’t the right path and started a marketing job at Fitbit.
  22. Kept teaching at Equinox and paired that with my 9-5.
  23. Partied in Vegas & saw Britney Spears.
  24. Skied in Tahoe.
  25. Drank champagne on the top of a ski mountain.
  26. Vacayed in Cabo with my family.
  27. Became a certified personal trainer.
  28. Played tour guide in my new city to lots of visitors (thanks to those that have visited!).
  29. Hiked SF and scenic spots nearby.
  30. Explored the SF fitness scene, trying new workouts, new studios and meeting new friends along the way.
  31. Experienced California (Carmel, Napa, Sonoma, LA, Paso Robles to name a few).

31 adventures

31 Adventures

31 adventures

31 adventures

31 adventures

Ok, so that was kind of hard! Even though it was probably the most eventful year of my life, coming up with 31 memorable moments was a bit of a challenge. I’m not sure I’ll attempt that exercise again. But hey, who knows what the next year has in store. Here’s hoping for more adventures, visits to new places, exciting opportunities and even a few challenges that encourage me grow.

Presidio 10-Miler Recap & A Look at What’s Next

April 24, 2017

Some runs make you feel on top of the world, and thanks to some big hills and mileage taking us over the Golden Gate Bridge, the Presidio 10-miler had me feeling all the feels.

Presidio 10-miler

It’s been a hot second since I’ve run a race and I’m so glad this weekend I got to feel that rush of sprinting across the finish line again. A couple of weeks ago I decided to sign up for the Presidio 10-miler. Not because I was training or was ready for a 10-mile race, but because the opportunity presented itself and the course was one I couldn’t pass up. Despite not feeling 100% ready for the mileage, I’m so happy I signed up.

Presidio 10-Miler Race Recap

I’ve been doing a little bit of running around SF, typically a few miles to and from my apartment. This race got me out of my neighborhood to explore one of the most popular SF running routes. I ran into two coworkers at the start and ran with them the whole time, making the miles pass quickly and giving me extra motivation to keep pace. The race started at Crissy Field and almost immediately we headed up a giant hill, taking us around the Presidio and to the Golden Gate Bridge. Maybe it’s because I’m an SF newbie, but does it get more incredible than running over that bridge? Not only do you get to take in the iconic structure, the surrounding ocean views and cliffs are incredible. I can’t get enough and hope to make this route a part of my regular(ish) running routine.

The bridge is long and fortunately took up most of the race. We ran over the bridge, then headed down a long flight of stairs that took us on a path underneath the bridge, bringing us to the other side to run back towards the city (the bridge wasn’t closed for the race, we ran on the walking and biking paths on each side). By the time we made our way back over the bridge it was already around mile 7, just 3 more to go.

We ran down a pretty big hill and next we’d head back towards Crissy Field. Still running with coworkers, on the big downhill, a runner fell in front of us, tumbling a bit and dislocating his shoulder (yikes). We took a brief pause in our run to stay with the runner and make sure help was on the way. About 10-15 minutes later, help arrived and we picked up our pace heading into those final 3 miles. We looped around Crissy Field and then some, and soon we were at the finish line.

Just the smiling face I want to see after finishing a long run.

I’m not really sure what my finish time was and I don’t particularly care. This race was more about getting back into that running rhythm and taking in the epic scenery. I think my pace ranged from high 9 minute miles to low 8-minute miles.

The race was pretty low key–in a good way. It was well organized (like 3 minute waits for the bathrooms, unheard of!) and had a hot breakfast and bloody marys at the finish. My only constructive criticism is to better staff the water stations. Water wasn’t poured and ready, which meant you were waiting at some stops. Not a big deal, but not the most professional race feel.

The Presidio 10-Miler is a great combo of a small race feel with a big crowd and a great course. In addition to the 10-miler, there are also 10k and 5k options. I highly recommend this race, sign up next year!

Presidio 10-miler

The start & finish line area on a perfect SF day.

Running Inspo & My Next Race

The most important takeaway from this race was my renewed inspiration to run. I feel very grateful that my body can handle 10 miles without much prep. But I’m ready to do more than just get through the miles.

I’m still disappointed in myself for skipping the upcoming Santa Rosa Half Ironman. Part of me still wants to do the race, but the more responsible part of me knows that I’m not prepared and for a race that big, you need to be prepared (more on my decision HERE).

That being said, I need to put that race behind me and look ahead. The next big race on my calendar is the San Fransico Half Marathon on July 23rd. I just signed up and with 13 weeks to go, now’s the time to start training!

And when do I ever get serious about racing? I’ll admit it, it’s pretty rare. There are a few races I’ve trained properly for, but to long-time blog readers, I probably sound like a broken record. I often talk about big training plans, then I write about how I failed to follow them, but oh well!  And hey, no promises it won’t happen again. BUT, I really truly want to train for this next race. I haven’t attempted a PR in really long time and I’m feeling ready to take it on. Yesterday’s race gave me the inspiration to focus on a goal. I’m going to dig deeper into my training plan and will share more with you next week.

Presidio 10-miler

Running beautiful routes and comfortable paces inspires me to keep running. What inspires you to sign up for that next race?

 

What It’s Really Like to Be a Full-Time Fitness Instructor (+ why it’s not for me)

April 19, 2017

An inside look at what life is like as a full-time fitness instructor, the good, the bad and the exhausting.

Full-Time Fitness Instructor

Hanging at the gym all day (not sitting in an office), working out, getting free classes and living that fitness dream. Sounds pretty great, right? Well, it might sound like a fitness fantasy, but the reality didn’t exactly match up. Not for me anyways. Here’s a look at what it was really like to be a full-time fitness instructor, and why I couldn’t hack it.

Back to the Start of the Fitness Journey

I started teaching fitness classes in college and for nine years following that taught a couple of classes a week, typically early morning before heading to the office. In all the years that I taught, in the back of my mind I had the question of what it would be like to be a full-time fitness instructor. When MM and I moved to San Francisco,  this was the time to give it a try. I was craving flexibility in my schedule as we relocated across the country and as I finished planning our wedding on the east coast.

Full-Time Fitness Instructor Opportunities in SF

Fortunately, I almost immediately got hired at three studios; Equinox (which I already had taught at in NYC and was able to easily transfer to the SF locations), Orangetheory Fitness and Core40. Let me say this upfront, I know I’m very lucky that I was able to score spots at three solid gyms and I’m thankful for that. From the get-go of getting hired, each week I taught around 12-20 classes.

The first couple of weeks were incredibly hard. In NYC I typically taught two classes a week and suddenly I was teaching up to five in one day. My throat constantly hurt, my voice was scratchy, my legs ached and mentally I was exhausted. I very quickly began to question this new lifestyle. While it did allow me some flexibility while wedding planning and traveling, it wasn’t quite the dreamy life I thought it would be.

Not a 9-5

One of the things I thought I wanted was to not work a 9-5. My thinking was very naive because you know what can happen if you don’t work a 9-5? You work early in the morning and late at night, a really tough combo. My earliest classes started at 5am (wake up time: 4am!) and my latest classes ended at 9pm (dinner at 10pm, horrible). Those 9-5 hours were starting to look really sweet.

You’re Always On

I’m not saying at an office job you can slack off, but when you are leading a class you have to be very ON. You’re connecting with clients, talking non-stop and are always on your feet. Typically in an office, your work will ebb and flow, crazy stressful moments and more relaxed times. When people are depending on you for their workout, you better be at 100%, 100% of the time.

Lots of Protocols

Because I was working at three different studios, the rules, protocols, and language you’re supposed to use at each studio is different. If you need a sub, there’s a different way to secure and confirm them at each studio. Things you should and shouldn’t say in a class varied by studio. It was very confusing and stressful to keep track of what to say and do at each place! Instead of choosing to teach at three studios, I could have taught at just one studio, but I probably wouldn’t have been able to secure enough class times and teaching at one place felt repetitive. And speaking of repetitive…

 

It Gets Repetitive

At one studio I taught at, I’d teach four identical hour long classes in a row. Not only was it hard to keep my energy up by hour four, my brain felt like it was turning to mush, repeating the same thing over and over again. Some classes allow you to be more creative, but the super templated studios leave very little opportunity for that.

The Pay…Yikes

Happiness and life isn’t about how much money you can make, but yeesh, being a fitness instructor (at some studios), is very underpaid. A girl’s gotta pay rent! I recently met a woman in her 60s who said she taught fitness classes in the 80’s. We discussed the pay rates and I was extremely shocked to find out that for some of the studios I was teaching at, the pay is the same! Literally, what I was getting paid in 2017 was the same as what she was getting paid 30 years ago. Not to mention I live in one of, if not the most expensive city in the country. In order to make the amount of money I wanted to be making a week, I would have had to teach twice as many classes. In speaking to some instructors, they teach upwards of 40 classes a week. I can’t even imagine how they do it, I’m truly in awe.

Impossible to Track Finances

So the pay isn’t great, but on top of that, it’s really hard to keep track of the money. Ok, maybe I could have been better at this, I admit I was not on top of it. Each studio that I taught at had a different pay structure. Some places pay you the same thing for each class. Other studios pay on a sliding scale based on how many students are in your class. On top of that, some of the studios that have multiple locations will give you a different paycheck for each location. So basically each pay period I’d receive 3-6 paychecks, all in different amounts each week. It’s pretty much impossible to know how much you’re going to make each week.

No Paid Travel or Sick Days

I’m very passionate about travel and it’s a priority for me. Teaching gave me that flexibility because I could get subs to cover classes, but when you get a sub, you don’t get paid, making travel that much more expensive.

Exhausting on your Body

Some of my classes required me to intensely workout, others I demoed a few moves and walked around. Combined, all those classes in one week takes its toll on your body. Not to mention just being your feet for 5 hours without a break (major props to school teachers who are on their feet all day. what’s your secret?) is tiring AF.

Constantly on Display

You may notice that a lot of fitness instructors are actors, dancers, and performers. And it totally makes sense; teaching a class is like being up on a stage and putting on a show. But me? I’m definitely not an actor or dancer (my friends can attest to that). Sometimes teaching made me feel self-conscious, especially when you get reviewed in your classes (by management or ClassPass ratings). You definitely need a thick skin and strong confidence to be a fitness instructor. I think I have this, but being in front of people and putting on a show for many hours a day got to be a bit too much for me.

Comparison Struggles

Being a fitness instructor is a competitive business. So again, I am thankful I got hired where I did, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t constantly comparing myself to other instructors. Why does she have a full class and mine isn’t? How is she wearing a full face of perfect makeup while sweating through a spin class and I look like a mess? Are people liking my class? Are they mad I’m subbing and wish it was the other instructor? Not fun thoughts. I know it’s important to stay in your own lane and focus on yourself, but sometimes those not so positive thoughts creep in.

And Finally, the Positive Side of Being a Full-Time Fitness Instructor

I hate to dwell on the negative, but I also want to give you an accurate depiction of how I felt in the 8 months teaching full-time. Am I saying everything about being a full-time fitness instructor is bad? Absolutely not. While the hours were nutty, I was home during most of the day and got to hang with my dog (life goals, right?). I was able to cook most of my meals at home and spend time creating new recipes. You get to work out a lot, and for free! You get to meet new people and positively impact their health and wellness. By teaching classes in my neighborhood, I met so many new people quickly. It was pretty cool that after only a couple of months in SF I could walk around my neighborhood and run into people I knew; it made a big city feel smaller. And had I not been teaching or working when I moved to SF, I’m pretty sure I would have gone crazy; teaching got me out of the house, exploring new neighborhoods and experiencing my new city.

While I wasn’t a fan of being a full-time fitness instructor, I am truly inspired by those that are. To be so on, connecting and motivating tons of people a day, is a true gift. While I decided teaching full-time wasn’t for me, I’ve found that the balance of teaching and working a full-time job is right for me. Here’s the thing about teaching. For me, it was always a side passion that I loved. By doing it too much, it became something I resented and it began to feel like a burden. I wanted to keep doing it, but in a way that I still enjoyed. Once I decided that teaching full-time wasn’t my path, I kept teaching while also looking for a job. Now that I’m back to that #officelife, I get my much-desired combo of working in a strategic and business savvy environment and gives me time on the side to pursue my passion for wellness.

While it turned out not to be right for me, I’m happy that I had the opportunity to teach full-time and experience that alternate path.

Full-Time Fitness Instructor

Are you a full-time fitness instructor? Or do you balance it with a 9-5? I’d love to hear about your experiences below.

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