How to Prioritize Travel + Why I Skipped SeaWheeze

August 15, 2017

Are you making the most of your travel opportunities? Sharing how I prioritize travel to get the most out of my experiences.

prioritize travel

Were you in Vancouver this weekend running the SeaWheeze Half Marathon? According to my Instagram feed, you probably were. Because it seemed like everyone was there. But I wasn’t. Actually, though, I was supposed to be there. About 10 months ago I got online right when the race entry opened and snagged a spot in the much sought-after race. I did SeaWheeze last year and had such a fun experience. I stayed in an Airbnb with a bunch of girls, the race was incredible, Vancouver is an amazing city, and I was looking forward to round 2.

Prioritize Travel

prioritize travel

Exploring the Vancouver area last year with Evann.

But then the logistics sort of fell apart. I wanted MM to come with me because I know he’d love Vancouver, but he had a conflict. Other logistics, like flight times, taking off work and where to stay were seeming more complicated and expensive than it was worth. As much as I loved it last year, I realized it wasn’t meant to be for 2017.  Luckily I was able to sell my race entry and I didn’t lose any money on the weekend.

So even though I was getting some serious FOMO watching Insta stories of friends’ Vancouver adventures this weekend, I reminded myself that it’s okay that I switched my plans and didn’t go. I’m sure I would have had fun, but it’s also okay that I wasn’t there.

Travel has always been a big priority of mine, so it was hard to skip out on a trip to a city I love, but digging deeper than just “travel”, my more focused priorities with travel are exploring new places, or if I’m visiting a place I’ve already been, having a new experience or being with friends I miss.

Unfortunately, Vancouver wasn’t going to check off those items, so instead of just going along with it, I’m putting that money towards trips to new places and visits to see friends (+ their new babies!).

If you love to travel, it’s important to really think about the trips you’re planning and prioritize in order to knock off the most important items on your travel bucket list.

Money and vacation days are not unlimited (but oh, if they were). And that’s why prioritizing your travel is so important.

Here’s how I make the most of my budget and days off to travel.

Prioritize Travel

Create a Travel Bucket List

I have a long list of places I want to go. That list continues to shift and evolve. If you have a similar ever-growing list, keep track and write them all down. I have an ongoing list in my phone’s notes app that I continue to update as I hear about new and cool places. One of my friends has a huge slab of wood in her house that lists out her and her husband’s travel bucket list, they cross items out as the go (such a cool idea!).

It’s best to prioritize the list as you add to it so you make sure that the trips you are most interested in actually come to fruition. You can say for years and years you want to go on an African Safari, but don’t let it slip away. If it’s at the top of your travel bucket list, find a way to make it happen.

Focus On Your Main Travel Priorities

Like I said, I am all about seeing new places and being with people I love. So if a trip comes up that sounds pretty good but is a place I’ve been, even if I loved it, it’s sometimes best to reallocate those funds and dates for a trip I’m really looking forward to.

Rank Your Excitement

If you’re in the midst of brainstorming or planning a trip and it’s stressing you out and you’re not even that excited about it. Just. Don’t. Go. Assuming you changing your plans doesn’t majorly affect other people, don’t feel bad about backing out. Especially on longer and pricier trips, you really want to feel passionate and excited about the experience.

Think About How You’ll Spend Your Money

Big picture, would you rather be on vacation for more days and stay at a cheaper hotel, or would you rather stay at a swanky hotel for a short trip? Everyone’s priorities are different, and if you’re working with a budget, figure out the various ways you can stretch that money. For some trips, it can be worth it to go for a shorter time and live it up in luxury, while other trips it’s okay to rough it in a motel if it means more time to explore.

Make A Budget & Stick to it

Speaking of that budget, how much are you willing to spend on each trip? If you’re looking to take multiple trips throughout the year, get a ballpark amount of how much you want to spend all together, then figure out how you split it up to get the most out of each trip.

Take Advantage of Your Location

Sometimes we forget about the amazing places right in our own backyard. Since moving to California, it’s been our priority to experience this part of the country. Back on the east coast, while we traveled a lot, there are a ton of places I still want to visit, and I’ll save those for (if/when) we live on that side of the country again. Before you plan your next big trip a long flight away, reconsider places accessible via a road trip or a cheap flight.

Prioritize Travel

Hopefully, you’re feeling inspired to create or update your travel bucket list. What are the top spots on your must-visit list?


Whole30: Why I’m Doing It Again + The Rule I’m Breaking

August 9, 2017

Whole30 might be restrictive and challenging, but here’s why I love it and am doing it again.


Back in 2014, I did my first Whole30. And I was hooked. I had a really positive experience, I felt amazing after the 30 days, had increased energy, learned to be more careful reading food labels, cooked more and depended less on processed and packaged foods, felt less bloated and overall just felt great (you can read the full recap here).

The rules of Whole30 are pretty strict and not something that can be easily maintained for more than the 30 days (for me anyways). After that initial Whole30, I dropped many of the rules but stayed mostly Paleo. Every so often, I get the itch to do Whole30, and since that first round, I’ve done it a handful of times.

Why I’m Doing Whole30 Now

About two weeks ago, I decided it was time for another round. For the past few months, I’ve been very free with my eating and drinking, and it was starting to get to me. I was feeling low on energy, a bit bloated, and just not like my best self. Even though Whole30 is very restrictive, I like it because as an all-or-nothing health nut, it’s the only thing that really keeps me accountable. Whenever I tell myself I’m going to do 80/20 eating (healthy 80%, not so healthy 20% of the time), I never stick to it. It’s hard to track that 20% and it creeps up and up until I’m eating whatever I feel like nearly all the time.

Since I’ve had success with Whole30, whenever I feel like I need a hard reset, this is my go-to. I usually end up feeling this way about once a year. I decided to do Whole30 now because I had a month coming up with very little travel and events. It’s tough to do Whole30 when you’re on vacation or have fun events like weddings or bachelorettes. Since this month is free of all that, it’s the best time to jump back in. Plus, I have a wedding and a bachelorette shortly after Whole30 ends, and I wouldn’t mind feeling a bit leaner and stronger by the time those events roll around.

The Rules of Whole30

Like I said, Whole30 is extremely restrictive. The major rules: no alcohol, sugar, wheat, gluten, dairy, legumes (read the details here). I’ve heard people say “I’m going to do Whole30 but I’m going to drink wine” or “I’m going to do Whole30, except on day 10 I have a party so I’m going to take that day off.” And really, not to be a stickler for the rules, but that’s not Whole30. Maybe it’s being healthier and changing your habits for the better for 30 days, but it’s not technically Whole30.

The Whole30 Rule I’m Breaking

Whole30 means following every rule for 30 days with no days off or rule breaking. So am I being a hypocrite by telling you I’m going to break one rule? Maybe, you be the judge. One of the rules in Whole30 is you cannot recreate non-Whole30 recipes with Whole30 compliant ingredients. Like Paleo pancakes, muffins, pizzas, chips, etc. Even though every ingredient might be compliant, because it’s imitating a food that might be a trigger for overeating, it’s not allowed.  One of the points of Whole30 is to understand your food triggers and things that might cause you to overeat, these are “foods with no breaks”.

To a certain extent, I’m not keeping this rule. I’m allowing myself compliant wraps, homemade baked goods (if I get around to making any…) and pizza crusts. These foods aren’t triggers for me. If I eat a wrap, I’m eating one, and if I’m eating a paleo muffin in the morning, I’m eating one. I rarely make and eat these foods, paleo or not (for example, I probably eat pizza once every two months), so I don’t feel like they get in the way of my experience. I will not allow myself things like store bought chips (Siete tortilla chips for example) that are compliant because those are a “food with no breaks” for me and I will eat the whole bag. I’m not breaking any of the food rules in terms of ingredients, but if I feel like whipping up a paleo pizza with an almond flour crust, I’m going to.

Is this technically Whole30? Maybe not, but for me I consider it to still be in line with the food rules. Because this is not my first round, I’m okay with the adjustment. However, if you’re taking on your first Whole30 and want to get that 100% legit experience, I say stick to every single rule, even the one I’m breaking.

Whole30 certainly isn’t for everyone. And some of you lucky people are way better at the 80/20 rule than me, so maybe you don’t need this when you feel like you’re off your game. For me though, I love how I feel on the program; two weeks in and I’m feeling awesome (though I could go for a glass of wine right now). I’ll give you a recap after my 30 days are complete, coming your way in two weeks.

Have you done Whole30? Are you doing it now? Hoping you have a good 30 days!

Healdsburg Half: My Next Race + New Perspective

August 7, 2017

Racing can be about fighting for a PR, but it can also be about enjoying the miles with friends.

healdsburg half

I just finished up the SF Half Marathon a couple of weeks ago, and I’m ready to start prepping for my next race.

Before I talk about the next race, here’s the quickie recap of the SF Half: The race was hard! Felt super hilly, hillier than last year somehow. The Golden Gate Bridge, which was the portion of the race I was most excited about, was totally fogged over, windy and rainy. Overall though, I had a good experience and while the race felt hard, I felt decent running it. Finish time: 1:54.

I sort-of trained for the SF half, pretty much in line with my standard training. At least one run a week, sticking to some sort of schedule and getting to the starting line feeling confident enough that I’ll get through it without too much of a struggle–though no expectation to hit a PR. I even met with a run coach a couple of times, which was really awesome.

Next Up: Healdsburg Half Marathon 

The next race on the agenda is Destination Race’s Healdsburg Wine Country Half Half Marathon on October 28th (spots are still available and you can get $10 off with code SHAPINUP). I’m approaching this one in a new way. I’m not really running this race for me. Instead, I’m running it for two of my friends who have never run a half marathon before and I’m running it to motivate MM to get back into running. My friend on the east coast expressed interest in running her first half marathon, and I easily convinced her to do it in wine country. What better setting can one ask for? We quickly convinced our husbands to join in the fun, luring them in with the finish line wine festival.

While I haven’t tried to PR in the half marathon distance basically in forever, I do always approach half marathons with a goal of under 2 hours. In fact, I’ve never run a half marathon over 2 hours. My fastest time is 1:45 and my slowest time is 1:59, with about 8 or so finish times landing somewhere in that range. I take pride in my “always under 2” finish, but I’m okay letting it go for this race, if it means I get three people in on the fun.

Healdsburg Half Training Plan

I’ve made myself and MM a relaxed training program, it only has us running 2x a week (which is what I usually end up doing no matter how intense a training plan I make for myself), with a day of cross training and a day of stretching/yoga. I usually work out 6x a week, but these are the workouts I’m going to ensure get done, and will stay on MM to get him doing them as well.

Healdsburg Half

My focus as we train for this race is to get us both in good running shape and to explore new running routes. It’s to get both of us to the starting line feeling excited about the 13.1 miles ahead, whether it’s an under 2 pace or a 2+ pace.

Let me give MM a little credit though. He’s run a full marathon and a handful of half marathons, some under 2 hours. So I’m not saying we won’t go under 2 hours on race day, but if we don’t, I don’t care. A lot of people ask if my husband is into fitness as much as I am. And well, he’s not. And that’s okay. Actually, often it’s quite nice. He’s my #1 crowd support when I run races, and when I have to wake up early to train, he’s home walking the dog and brewing the coffee, so I really can’t complain.

But sometimes running solo gets boring. There’s so much to explore in SF and driving to a run route and doing it alone isn’t so motivating or fun. I’m excited to bring a partner along. Also, I usually don’t mind lining up for a race alone, but it’s so much more enjoyable with people you know by your side. I kind of miss that. When I ran in NYC, I usually had a few friends there with me. Here on the west coast, less so.

healdsburg half

We’ve done some races together, I think this was the last one, a 4-miler, July 4, 2015

I’m also looking forward to having a little cross-country motivation going between us and our east coast counterparts. Obviously, I’m also excited that signing up for this race meant our friends would spend a weekend out in wine country with us.

Normally I’d make my goal to be under 2 hours. My goal this go-round is to keep myself and MM running. I want to enjoy race weekend at whatever our shared pace is, whether it’s under 2 or not.

When you train for a race, do you have a goal in mind, or do you run to enjoy the experience?

Morning or Evening: What’s the Ideal Workout Time

August 2, 2017

Every body is different, which is exactly why the ideal workout time isn’t one size fits all. 

There are lots of opinions on when to workout. Will you burn more calories doing cardio first thing in the am? Will you be able to lift more weights in the evening? If your schedule and routine have been shifting, perhaps you’re struggling with finding the right time to workout. I just went through this myself and learned a thing or two about what works best for me. Hopefully, my experience will help you nail down the best time to schedule your workout. 

Finding My Ideal Workout Time

Recently I had been struggling with my workout routine. It actually was more of a struggle with my teaching routine. Working full time and teaching on the side is a balancing act. Often when you are teaching, especially if you’re new to a gym, you don’t get your pick of the schedule. In order to increase your presence at the gym and teach at the times you want, you have to start by teaching whenever they need you. It might me 5:30am, it might be 7pm. Hopefully students and management like you, and slowly you can gain more control over your schedule.

When first trying to fit classes at Equinox around my full-time work schedule, I ended up with a bunch of evening classes. I didn’t think it was a big deal. It meant slower mornings and more cuddle time with my dog. My work schedule was pretty consistent so I didn’t stress about getting to my classes on time.

Within a couple of weeks of teaching nights, by the time I got to the gym, I was totally depleted of energy, and this was my time for both my workout and to teach. Sufficient energy and the desire to work hard is key, whether you’re working out for yourself or leading a class. I felt my lack of energy and motivation spread into the second half of my workday, with the cloud over my head that I still had my workout and class ahead of me (it makes for a long day after being at work all day). It also meant getting home around 8pm, pretty much taking over my entire evening. After eating dinner, it was time for bed and the day was done.

I struggled through a schedule mixed with morning and evening classes for a couple of months, hoping that my body and mind would adjust to the schedule. It wasn’t getting much better and I felt more tired as I trudged through it. So finally, I was able to make some changes.

Slowly but surely, I built up more morning classes and I’m happy to report that now I exclusively teaching mornings!. And yes, getting up at 5am sucks, there’s no way around that. But once I’m up, within 10 minutes I’m totally (or maybe mostly) awake and giving my workouts much more than I could say for the evening version. Coffee helps.

I’ll still occasionally workout in the evenings. I teach three mornings each week (5 classes total), so the other two days give me a bit more freedom. If I feel the need to sleep in a little later, I’ll move my workout to after work, or if I make plans to meet a friend for a workout date, it’s usually in the evenings. Big picture, knowing I have control of when I workout and teach has made my routine much more sustainable.

While waking up between 5 and 6am is a struggle, I’d still much prefer to workout before work. I was pretty surprised at the toll teaching in the evenings was taking on me. When I workout and teach in the mornings, the first few minutes of waking up are super tough, but then my energy spikes. The endorphins from my workout carry me through the morning and put me in a brighter and more positive mood, knowing I already did some good for my body. When I start my day with a good workout, I’m more likely to stay on track with healthier eating and hydration throughout the day.


How to Find Your Ideal Workout Time

ideal workout time

So here’s what I realized about whether working out in the morning or evening is better. It’s all about YOU. When YOU workout should be about finding the time that is best for you. If you supposedly burn more calories in the morning, but you’re too sleepy or rushed to get your workout done or perhaps you think you’re supposed to hit the gym hard after work but you’re so stressed from the day and the gym puts you in a worse and a discouraged mood, what’s the point of that?

Every BODY is different, and everyone’s routine is different. One size doesn’t fit all. To figure out what works best for you, play around with times and workouts and see what works best for you. When figuring out which time is best to workout, consider your mood beyond just the workout. How does the time of day you workout affect the way you feel the other 23 hours of the day? How does it affect your mindset and other healthy habits?

If you haven’t found your workout rhythm yet, not to worry. Experiment with early mornings and evenings. Don’t expect to feel right at home after a workout or two, it definitely takes a while to get used to that early morning alarm. Try the routine for 2-3 weeks and see how your body and energy levels feel. And just because you want to be a morning workout person, it does not mean 5x a week! Think 3 times. It will make you really savor those two mornings that you get to sleep till 7 (such a luxury, right?).

To recap, here’s how to find your ideal workout time:

  1. Experiment with mornings and evenings. Early mornings feel tough? Yep, they are. Give your body time to adjust to the new schedule before you throw the towel in.
  2. Pay attention to your moods throughout the day based on when you workout.
  3. Focus in on how the time of day you workout affects your other healthy habits (sleep, hydration, eating).
  4. Consistency is key. Find a routine you can actually stick with.

Have you found a workout schedule that works for you? Morning or evening, what’s your pick?


Staying Motivated: 5 Ways to Switch Up Your Race Training

July 13, 2017

Need that extra boost to keep running? Here’s how to stay motivated as you train for your next race.

If you’ve ever excitedly signed up for a race, to only lose your motivation and interest in training a few weeks in, I feel ya. This happens to me often. I love signing up for new races and creating training plans, but my motivation tends to dip pretty quickly. I’m most interested when taking on a new distance (like my first marathon and first triathlon), but when you’re on your 10th+ half marathon, it feels a little less exciting.

And this is where a switch in strategy comes into play. If pounding the pavement is getting old, refocus your training plan to keep things interesting.

Before we even get to the physical changes you can make to your training, let’s take a moment to chat about the mental side of training. The mental piece is huge, and if your head isn’t in the game, your body will follow that cue. Remember why you wanted to sign up for the race. Was it to hit a PR? To enjoy a new race environment? To run with friends? Don’t forget why you were once excited about the race, and keep that at the front of your focus as you run each week.

And now how to keep those workouts interesting…

Race Training

Here are 5 switches to keep you motivated during your training cycle

  1. Join A Running Group: Long runs can be a solo struggle, so don’t go at it alone. Many cities host free run groups. Even if you don’t know anyone, take the chance and join. You’ll meet new people, get running tips from the pacers/leaders and get to zone out as the leaders will keep you on pace and on the right route. In NYC I loved the Nike Run Club and in SF I just tried a free SF marathon training run with Run365 (though it looks like most of the trainings you have to pay for).
  2. Hire a Running Coach: If you struggle to stick to a plan, a running coach can give you the much-needed guidance to stay on track in a safe and effective way. Some run coaches will meet in person to take you through warm ups and workouts and will give you form tips throughout. Other coaches may provide a virtual training plan. Either way, it’s someone to hold you accountable, which will make you more likely to stick with the plan.
  3. Add Track Workouts: Anyone else get flashbacks to high school track practice when you see a track? Even if you might want to cry thinking back to those workouts (I sure do), track workouts can be super beneficial to your training. Plus, it welcomes a new type of workout if you’re tired of the treadmill or your same old neighborhood route. Add speed workouts on the track and try to bring a friend to keep things competitive and interesting.
  4. Diversify Your Workouts: Yes, running is key when preparing for a running race, but that doesn’t mean running should be your only form of working out. Add strength workouts and yoga; it will build up your power and flexibility, will prevent training burnout, and will make you an overall stronger athlete.
  5. Switch Up Your Run Route: It can get real old real fast to cover the same route for all your runs, especially the weekly long run. Even if it might take more time or cost a bit of money, get out of your neighborhood and check out new spots. Research popular local routes, or instead of running out and back from your house, run out for your total mileage and grab a Lyft Line to get home.

I’ve put these ideas into practice as I prep for the San Francisco Half Marathon, coming up in two weeks. Thanks to my friends at Lululemon, I had the opportunity to work with Lululemon Ambassador & run coach Alex Ho. After one session I had a reignited excitement about training (though I wish I had that feeling earlier in my training cycle!). We headed to a hidden (to me) spot in SF, a run track right in the middle of the city. Having someone to check my run form, and challenge me with a workout gave me the motivation to work harder at my speed, a part of training I typically neglect.

Whether you’re flying through your training plan or need an extra push to get to that start line, I hope these tips help you get prepped and feeling your best.

How do you stay motivated? Please share your tips below.


Keeping it Local: June Adventures + Popsugar Must Have Faves

July 9, 2017

A peek at June local exploration & the June Popsugar Must Have box.

June Favorites

Since our move to the west coast, we often get out of town, making sure we cross as many items off our west coast to-do list as we can. In June though, with the exception of an east coast wedding trip, we kept it pretty local. San Francisco has a lot to offer so instead of escaping each weekend, we instead explore our city. Thankfully, June gloom wasn’t as bad as I expected, and we were treated to lots of good weather.

Sometimes those weekends where you stay put are needed. They balance out busy weeks and allow you the opportunity to check out hidden spots in your own city. Plus, the down time will help you start each week feeling refreshed.

Here are some June Favorites:

Exploring on Two Wheels: I’ve been looking forward to biking around this city, and finally, in June we made it happen. MM and I got outfitted with Specialized bikes and took our new wheels over the Golden Gate Bridge and out to Tiburon. We lunched at Sam’s Anchor Cafe and then hopped on the ferry to SF, making our trip back an easy one. I definitely want to do this ride again and spend more time checking out Tiburon.

Urban Hiking: With a city full of huge hills and parks along the way, you don’t even have to leave the city limits to get some vertical exercise. We hiked up Twin Peaks for gorgeous views of the city. It was also fun to see the super fancy houses along the way (we hopped into an open house and saw a very quaint two bedroom for a cool million. But those views y’all.)

June favorites

Hanging Poolside: We’re lucky that our apartment building has a pool and a hot tub, but we’re unlucky because it’s rarely hot enough to want to go swimming. I never expected to have more use for a pool in NYC than in California, but in NorCal, it’s definitely the case. We did get some warm days though, which allowed for poolside reading and relaxation.

Popsugar Must Have Box Spotlight

And speaking of relaxation, I received the June Popsugar Must Have Box with a new book, perfect for weekend reading. I’ve been so bad about reading recently (I’ll admit, too much TV time these days), so I was excited to get something new to get me back on the reading routine. The summery themed box had some fun gear inside like Mermaid Sea Salt Hair Spray, Meri Meri Party Straws, NCLA So Rich Cuticle Oil and the Aloha Beach Pouch. These boxes are always fun to get in the mail. Popsugar sent me the June box to review. If you’re interested in ordering a future box, use code SHOP5 for $5 off.

This super beachy vibed box is reminding me that I need to get working on a trip to Hawaii, one of the big “musts” for our time on the west coast. It’s only 5 hours away, how can we not go?

June was a good SF month, but let’s see where July takes us next!

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