Friday Favorites–May 12th, 2017

Happy Friday! We made it to the weekend. Today is a whirlwind day as I have a doctor’s appointment uptown smack dab in the middle of the day and then am stopping by Uplift Studios to say hello and hang out with the FitWeek crew later this evening. In between then I had two conference calls for work and a project I’m trying to finish.  As I shared this morning on Instagram, I have discovered an incredible confidence and pride in my body during pregnancy. As I enter week 35 tomorrow, I can’t stop smiling! Even though I’m dealing with some pain in my right glute and round ligament pain that my physical therapist is working through, I feel stronger and more confident in my skin than ever before.

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This weekend we are hosting a backyard barbeque and I am so looking forward to enjoying time with our friends. Even though the weather in NYC isn’t exactly looking Summer-like this weekend, I’m not going to let a little rain or overcast skies ruin my mood.  Now, let’s dive into this week’s edition of Friday Favorites, including recipes, articles, posts and other things that caught my eye this week.

  • When Shape Magazine said they were looking for stories about mothers who inspired their daughters and others, I knew I had to share my mom’s story!
  • I was ecstatic to see that Haim finally released a new single on Spotify! I love this group and typically listen to their station or playlist while working.
  • This buffalo chicken bowl looks like a delicious way to enjoy something I’ve been craving recently, buffalo chicken, in a healthier way!
  • I would not be upset if Bo whipped up this fluffy omelet for us Sunday morning.
  • If you’re looking for a few new books, The Everygirl and Cup of Jo shared their recommendations for Summer reading! I’ve already put half of these on hold at my library.
  • Hopefully these tasty popsicles make their way across the pond sooner versus later. Until then, I may have to make the homemade version to enjoy later this Summer!
  • Guys, I can’t get enough of Halo Top ice cream after trying two of their flavors, cookie dough and cookies and cream earlier this week. Based on the Instagram comments, it seems that I have to try salted caramel and birthday cake next!
  • There is no question, Bo and I are DEFINITELY old millenials. What about you?
  • No less than twenty different people have shared this Birth of a Mother article with me this week and I have to say, the New York Times is spot on with this piece as I found myself nodding my head and identifying with the article; so many of the words resonated with me.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

 

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored and instead is a list of the things of my favorite things this week. As normal, it includes lots of beauty and fashion items which means there are a few affiliate links via ShopStyle. It takes time and money to maintain a blog so I thank you for the support and few cents that come from clicking through the links!

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Xtend Barre – A Barre Class That Will Leave you Sweating And Smiling

Over the past eight years, since I began working out in New York City, I have had the opportunity to try a number of different workouts including most of the barre studios. Every few months, I’d walk back into a barre studio, forgetting just how effective the small pulses are, and quickly sign up for more classes. But, after a few weeks of using this as cross training, I’d grow bored. Regardless how effective the workout is, the slower paced classes, repetitive motions, and playlists left me craving my other workouts.

Then, a few months ago, one of my friends asked if I wanted to join her for a class at Xtend Barre in Brooklyn Heights. Always excited to try a new workout, I joined her for their signature class, Xtend Barre.  While there are more than 250 Xtend Barre locations worldwide, this is the franchise’s only location in New York City until the Tribeca location opens later this year. Through my research, before class, I read that Xtend Barre combines traditional pilates, ballet, and dance in one workout that will lengthen, strengthen and stretch the body.  Little did I know, that after my first 60-minute Xtend Barre class, I’d realize that this barre class and the studio is like no other spot I’d tried previously.

The Brooklyn Heights location features a main lobby and studio shop as well as changing rooms and bathrooms in addition to the main studio and a smaller studio and child care area upstairs. The main studio, where we took class, was far more spacious and well-lit than most studios. The large windows on the far wall allow light to shine through during class, creating a warm atmosphere.  Similar to other barre classes, grip socks are required, and the accessories for class typically include a mat, two sets of hand weights, a ball, mat and a band.

The class was filled with twenty students of all shapes and sizes. Since it was my first class, when I spoke with the instructor, letting her know I was pregnant, I asked her what I should expect. This is when I first heard that Xtend is different than other barre classes. She told me that I’d be sweating within a few minutes, the cardio bursts throughout class keep our heart rate up and the pace is far faster than other barre workouts.  She requested that I take the pace slower and listen to my bodies needs since I’m pregnant and listen to her guidance during class as she would provide prenatal adjustments as needed, primarily during the ab sequence.

When she said I’d sweat in a barre class, I actually remember laughing to myself.

Xtend Barre Review

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The next 60-minutes of class were a bit of a blur. Everything she said was correct – here are just a few of the differences I noticed during class.

  • The warm-up was fast paced and included optional hand weights to make the moves even more challenging.  A combination of plies, curtsies, dynamic stretches, arm work and leg lifts the fast pace had me sweating in no time.
  • Unlike other barre workouts where the focus is merely on burning out the muscles through repetitive movements, Xtend barre focuses on lengthening the muscles through the inclusion of many traditional ballet and dance moves.  We moved constantly during the class, often taking wide movements with both our legs and arms.
  • Similar to a High-Intensity Interval Training class or boot camp, many of the moves were combinations such as wide-legged squat with arm curls or lunges with leg raise.
  • In addition, frequent cardio bursts throughout the entire class kept our heart rates elevated.
  • The arm portion seemed more challenging and longer than other classes, including hand weight and body weight moves.
  • The barre portion is where I saw the biggest variation from other barre studios as this portion included lots of moves that kept our heart rates up and lengthened the muscles through plies, kicks, tondus and optional jumps.
  • The instructor adjusted the workout for me during the core section, but the others in the room did a lot of traditional Pilates moves including the famous hundred as well as planks and movements using the ball.
  • The instructors have the freedom to choose their music, so every class features a different playlist which is a refreshing change from some barre studios who have monthly playlists.

As soon as we finished the class, I walked to the front desk and asked to learn more about their packages and classes. That’s how much I loved my first, sweaty class. It was harder and more challenging than any other barre class I’d taken due to the fast pace and complex moves, but it left me with an energy that I rarely felt after a barre workout. Since it’s low impact, it is perfect for people of all abilities including expecting moms like me. In fact, they offer a multitude of class formats including a popular babies-on-board class for new moms as well as focused pre-natal classes and bootcamp and Pilates focused classes for clients looking to switch things up.

Babies on Board Xtend

Since my first class back in late January, I’ve taken an average of one class per week, having the great opportunity to try many of the different instructors at the studio as well as their prenatal class.

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If you are local and want to try Xtend Barre Brooklyn Heights, you can enjoy one of the two below offers:

Looking to understand more about what to expect from your first Xtend Barre class? Check out this video.

This post is in partnership with Xtend Barre. In exchange for visiting Xtend Barre and experiencing their different classes, I was asked to share my thoughts with readers. As always, these thoughts are 100% my own opinion.

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What I ate Wednesday– May 10th, 2017

Good morning!

I am not sure if it’s the pregnancy or just my mood, but for the life of me, I can’t bring myself to finish a few posts I have half way done that require some concentration and hard work to get through. Last night, I fully planned to spend my evening at my computer, working on one of the posts that is about a recent partnership, but instead, I relaxed with a manicure and pedicure and then watched a movie on the couch. After doing some reading, it seems that it is pretty common for expecting moms to experience some attention deficit disorder or absentmindness during the third trimester. It’s interesting as I feel like I’m on my game during the work day but bringing myself to focus on something after hours is difficult. Or, maybe it’s all my friends and followers telling me to be lazy while I can.

Regardless, the partnership post that I had planned for today will hopefully go live tomorrow and instead, I’m sharing another What I Ate Wednesday with you guys. I’ve received some questions on Instagram and Instastories lately about the food I’m eating during third trimester so giving you guys a sneak into a day of eats will help address some of these questions.

Pre-Breakfast – 6:15 AM

When Bo and I go to the 6:45 AM Orangetheory class, we typically have coffee and either a piece of toast with almond butter or a handful of Purely Elizabeth granola. Yesterday morning I opted for a handful of granola, some NUUN and coffee before heading to the workout.

Breakfast – 8:15 AM

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This week I’ve been craving yogurt bowls filled with lots of fruit. Yesterday’s bowl included Fage 0%, ground flaxseed, 1/2 banana, a few strawberries, 1/4 cup of Purely Elizabeth granola and a drizzle of Justin’s Almond Butter. I microwaved one tablespoon of Justin’s almond butter so I could drizzle it versus putting a glob in my bowl. I tend to eat breakfast at my desk while catching up on emails and reading industry articles.

Lunch – 1:00 PM

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On Saturday, I suddenly had a craving for a sandwich after weeks of having salads or leftovers for lunch. While I’ve avoided lunch meat most of my pregnancy, after doing some research I realized that as long as I buy fresh, high quality meat that is nitrate free and hasn’t been sitting out very long, I can answer this craving. The harm in eating deli meat comes from the risk of listeria as well as the nitrates often found in lunch meat. We are lucky that there are a few places within walking distance of our apartment who slice their lunch meat fresh from meat they’ve roasted in house. After talking with them, I feel very comfortable about eating this meat.  Since Saturday, I’ve been enjoying the same sandwich and lunch on repeat.

Two pieces of whole wheat bread, one slice of Muenster cheese, 1/4 pound of roasted chicken, romaine lettuce, tomato, Sir Kensington’s mayonaise, dijon mustard and a dash of salt and pepper. I round out the plate with mini sweet peppers, hummus and a pickle.

Afternoon Snack – 4:30 PM

Yesterday I made a snack bowl which included one serving of these delicious, chocolate almonds mixed with 3 cups of popcorn. I enjoyed that with a La Croix during an afternoon conference call and loved the mix of salty and sweet!

Dinner – 8 PM

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Bo and I are still loving Hello Fresh and in fact, are currently on our third week of meals. Last night’s dinner was the Blackened Catfish served atop green beans, baby potatoes, peppers and onions. Many people have asked me what we like about the service and I think last night’s dinner is a perfect example.  We love that the meals take the exact amount of time the recipe card says (30 minutes), features a mix of proteins options including fish, and combines flavors that we would rarely use and therefore don’t typically have on hand such as blackening spices.  You are able to look at the meal cards in advance when you choose your meals for the weeks and each card provides you with the ingredients, time required, difficulty level as well as the nutrition values. I love that we’re able to make informed decisions together in advance of receiving our delivery. You can even customize your plan to Fit, Quick or Variety preferences and yes, they do offer vegetarian options!  If you haven’t tried it, you can get $40 off your first box by clicking here. For perspective, the Classic Plan which includes 3 meals for 2 people is $59 per week, which means you’d get 3 meals for 2 people for just $19 using the code!

Dessert – 9 PM

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As I mentioned, last night I found myself relaxing on the couch for two hours instead of being productive. The couch time was made even better with a bowl of delicious ice cream. A few weeks ago the team at Halo Top sent me five golden tickets, aka coupons, to try their ice cream.  I picked up chocolate chip cookie dough and cookies & cream this week at the grocery store and had a double date with each of them last night. While I know they advertise being able to eat the entire pint, I preferred to enjoy one scoop from each. Based on Instagram, it seems like the fan favorites are birthday cake, cookie dough, chocolate almond and peanut butter cup.  For those of you who haven’t tried it yet, Halo Top is a low-calorie, high protein and low sugar ice cream that uses all natural, wholesome ingredients. The ice cream is sweetened with organic stevia and Erthritol which is an all-natural sweetener which doesn’t cause the bloating and negative blood glucose side effects that the typical articifical sweetners cause. While I wouldn’t say that Halo Top can replace my beloved Ample Hills or other fresh, local ice cream it is definitely a good alternative to enjoy a few nights a week.  In Brooklyn it can be found at Fairway, Whole Foods, and Stop & Shop while nationally it’s now carried in many large grocery stores such as Kroger and Publix!

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