Moving to Charlotte: my struggles and how I got through them

When I moved from Syracuse to Charlotte, I went through a period of time where I questioned my decision. Now, less than a year later, I’ve purchased my first home (in Charlotte!) and am here to stay. My first-ever “vlog” documents my journey: how I felt and what I went through! I’d love to hear what you thought about this in the comments, via email, or DMs!

Travel Diaries: Atlanta Recap

One of my husband’s goals is to see all of the MLB stadiums in America. Being the great wife that I am, for his 30th birthday I gifted him tickets to see the Braves and Brewers play at SunTrust stadium in Atlanta. It didn’t hurt that now that we’re in the south, Atlanta is only a 4-hour drive and the closest stadium to our home city of Charlotte. Perfect for a weekend trip!

We kicked the weekend off by taking a half day on Friday to drive to our AirBnb in Atlanta. I chose a reasonably-priced one-bedroom apartment in midtown Atlanta with free parking and gym access. It was also conveniently located with lots of great places to walk to nearby! When we travel, we typically only use the AirBnb’s for showering and sleeping, so amenities aren’t that important to me, but the gym on site was great!

Once we dropped off our bags, we walked about a block away to get dinner at Papi’s Cuban Grill. I’d never had authentic Cuban food and this did not disappoint! Their skinny marg and Pollo Vaca Frita (pictured below) was exactly what I needed after that drive. Tequila, vegetables, and chicken: what more could I ask for?

After dinner, we decided to check out the Georgia Aquarium (it was a nice little break before we started drinking more, okay?). Once I knew we were going to Atlanta, this is one of the first “must-do” activities I put on the list. I’d never been to an aquarium before and this set the bar pretty high. The range of sea life was amazing! I particularly loved the jellyfish, penguins, and the area where you could walk through a glass hallway underneath/among a huge pool of different fish. I highly recommend making the trip if you’re in Atlanta. It’s a kid-friendly activity, but as adults, we definitely enjoyed it too. As an added bonus: all of the tourist attractions of Atlanta are located right next to each other, so if you plan on touring Coca-Cola or CNN (neither of which we did) or walking through Centennial Park (this we did do!) then you can knock them all out in a few hours without transportation.

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I asked around for advice on what we should do while in Atlanta, and multiple people suggested Ponce City Market, which is where we headed next! It’s super cool and full of different shops and restaurants. We got edible cookie dough from Batter Cookie Dough Counter and walked around. I enjoyed it, but if I did this trip over again, I would’ve saved Ponce City Market for a brunch trip. It’s nice because since there’s a food hall, you can get food and (alcoholic) drinks from multiple restaurants and consume it anywhere. So, if you’re with friends and you all want different things, no problem. Order from the restaurant of your choice and meet up in the middle to eat together! We also had a hard time figuring out how to get onto the rooftop, and by the time we figured it out, we were over it and skipped out. That’s one other thing I’d do if I go back to Atlanta: get on that rooftop!

By this point we were starting to wind down and walked to a brewery near our AirBnb called Torched Hop. They had great beers and we loved the vibe! I prefer breweries during the day and have a hard time drinking craft beer at night, but they had great cocktails so I was saved. My husband loved the beers though! We were really happy to find a good brewery because the craft beer scene is so big in Charlotte that we’re used to spending more time at breweries than bars these days.

That was our last stop of the night before heading back to our AirBnb to rest up for the long Saturday ahead!

Saturday kicked off at the gym in our AirBnb. My husband and I did a partner workout (in the caption here). We like to work for our beer, so a quick HIIT session did the trick!

Post-workout, we walked to brunch at Babs Midtown, where we had Blood Orange Mimosas with our breakfast food. I don’t remember what we got to eat, but I remember it being good, and I definitely remember those mimosas!

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Once we’d kicked off the day with drinks, we decided to embark on a drinking tour of Atlanta. First stop (at my husband’s request): an Irish bar called Meehan’s Public House. I usually love Irish bars, but it was a dark bar with only indoor seating and it was so beautiful outside I couldn’t stay too long. It would be a great spot to watch a game or spend some time in the rainy weather, though.

We headed out down the block to the Atlanta Braves bar in anticipation of the game later on! I didn’t have high expectations of a sports bar in the city, but my god, the service at this place blew me away! Our bartenders were extremely friendly and carried on interesting conversations with us while slinging amazing drinks. When we decided to leave, they handwrote a list of cool places for us to check out. It was so nice! If I go back to Atlanta, I will 100% go back to this bar for the service.

Based on the list given to us by these friendly bartenders, we headed to Little Five Points (not to be mistaken with Five Points–apparently if it’s not “Little” Five Points, you’ll have big problems!). This artsy neighborhood is full of vintage shops and dive bars and reminded us of our neighborhood in Charlotte, Plaza Midwood. We went to Little 5 Corner Tavern, a fun little dive bar. This is definitely an area I would explore more if I ever go back to Atlanta! It feels less touristy than the downtown area and I’m a sucker for neighborhoods with character, which Little Five Points had in abundance!

By this point in the day, we were ready for some lunch and headed to SweetWater Brewing at the recommendation of a friend. This was one of my favorite things we did in Atlanta. The brewery is a good size and has a lot of outdoor seating (perfect for day drinking in the beautiful Southern weather). The food and beer selection was also great! Apparently, they’re pretty new to serving food, but we were not disappointed. We each had a salad and beers (mine sours, Colin’s IPA’s). It’s not my favorite brewery of all-time (currently that’s Sierra Nevada in Asheville) but I’d put it in my top 10!

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Last but not least, we decided it was time to head to SunTrust Park for the Braves game. I had not been looking forward to it (my husband loves baseball enough for the both of us–I personally find it pretty boring) but it was the surprise of the trip. It ended up being my favorite thing we did! The park is brand new and beautiful. Working in marketing, I can fully appreciate the effort that went into creating the ultimate fan experience. It’s not just a baseball stadium: there are bars surrounding it and carnival games and a zipline within it. The food and drinks were super cheap (which I did NOT expect since Yankee Stadium was my only prior MLB experience). If you plan on visiting any MLB stadiums, move this one up on your list. And if you don’t, but you find yourself in Atlanta, I highly recommend catching a game here!

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After a long Saturday, we Ubered back to our AirBnb. We woke up Sunday and went to breakfast at Flying Biscuit (YUM – biscuits are the king of breakfast in the South and I judge people who don’t order them). They’re actually a franchise with locations in Charlotte but we had never been and it was highly rated so we checked it out. It was good and the service was quick, but my favorite thing about eating here was actually that the restaurant was located right near a big, beautiful park that we walked around as our breakfast digested. This also gave us time to wait for our last stop of the trip to open up: the College Football Hall of Fame.

Again, this was not something I was particularly interested in (sensing a theme here? not a big sports fan!). And again, I was surprised. Where I was expecting a traditional museum, this was instead a digitally personalized experience. Upon entering you get a “pass” that identifies you and your team of choice. The exhibits then change to display facts about your school. I wasn’t expecting to see much as a Syracuse University alum, but I ended up learning a lot about my school’s history with football. Colin, of course, had plenty to do as a Penn State fan. We also enjoyed the indoor playing field where I threw a pretty solid spiral directly into the target! Overall, it was a pretty good experience.

I enjoyed Atlanta, and while I mentioned there were things I’d do if I go back, it’s not someplace I’m dying to go back to (unlike Asheville, where I would go 100 more times). Have you been? I’d love to know what you think of the city and what you did while you were there!

28 Things I Learned By Age 28

This month, I turned the big 2-8. Every year I take some time to reflect on how my life has changed, how I’ve grown, and what I’ve learned. This year, I decided to document it! So, without further ado, 28 things I learned by age 28.

  1. Stop waiting until you’re “ready”. You’re never “ready”, and you won’t ever truly know what to do until you DO THE THING! You can read all the books you want and spend endless hours researching with little to no impact. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, do what you want to do before you’re ready.
  2. You already know enough to impact someone else. Picture it like this: you’re only at step 2 of a 10-step journey, so you think what you’ve got to say isn’t worth sharing. But for someone at step 1, you have exactly the message they need to hear. What someone is saying at step 10 is too far ahead to resonate with that person–so by holding yourself back, you’re also doing someone else a disservice. Stop waiting–GO FOR IT!
  3. Take care of your skin. When I was in college, my skincare routine included going out then falling asleep with my makeup on, and never wearing sunscreen. You’re not invincible, wash your face, invest in a good daytime moisturizer and a night cream, and wear sunscreen!
  4. Do things with intention. If you don’t, you’ll find your life flying by you and have no idea where the time went. Think about what you want to do, and pursue it.
  5. Drink water. LOTS of water. It keeps away the brain fog, helps with gym performance, and I don’t suffer from debilitating hangovers.
  6. Find a routine that works for you. Get on a schedule of going to the gym and preparing/packing your food in advance. Your health will thank you. So will your wallet when you don’t have to order all of your food out.
  7. But also, break that routine to try new things. Don’t set foot in one gym and never leave it. Expand your community by trying new workouts. Sleep in sometimes when you need the rest.
  8. Manifestation is real. What you think about, you bring about. Remember that next time you start stressing and feel negatively about your life.
  9. Life is one big energy exchange. To make things happen in your life, you have to direct energy into them. Want to get fit? You have to put energy into working out and planning/preparing your meals. Want to get a new job? You have to put energy into applying places, or networking, or learning what you need to know. You can dream about it all you want: but you have to put time and energy into it to make it happen.
  10. Expressing gratitude can change your life. It can pull you out of a negative headspace, improve your interactions with those around you, and bring good energy your way. I spend less than 5 minutes a day gratitude journaling, but it adds so much power and value to my morning!
  11. More is not always better. We often think that if some is good, more is better. I fell into this trap with exercise. There is a point of diminishing returns, where you become susceptible to injury, or suffer hormonal damage, or your metabolism slows down. Don’t let the good things in your life try to pull you out of balance.
  12. Set boundaries. I’m big on workplace boundaries: you get me for 40 hours every week, don’t reach out to me on nights and weekends and expect me to answer. That is not your time. Without those boundaries, everything else in my life suffers. If I let work creep into my evenings on a regular basis, I don’t get to work on any of my own personal growth or spend time enjoying myself or connecting with my husband and friends.
  13. Get back to your roots and spend time doing things you enjoyed as a child. The quote “we don’t stop playing because we grow up, we grow up because we stop playing” really hit me. Think back to how you spent your time as a child. If you loved playing sports, join an adult league. If you loved to read, make time for it. Because of this quote, I now play more board games, ride my bike, and read simply for pleasure on a regular basis, and I’m happier for it!
  14. Your brain requires working out just like your body does. Meditation, reading, and brain games are all ways to work out your mind and keep it sharp!
  15. Do things that scare you. I used to hate doing things I wasn’t good at because I was scared of failing, and scared that I’d be embarrassed. Then I realized I was missing out on so many opportunities for growth and shutting myself out of things that I could fall in love with.
  16. Being defensive and taking everything personally gets you nowhere. To be fair, this is a lesson I’m still constantly learning–I struggle hard with this, but over time, I’ve recognized that I’m not actually helping my case by immediately becoming defensive.
  17. In order to be heard, you have to meet people where they’re at. Pushing your agenda on someone is not an effective communication strategy in the long term: you have to put yourself in their shoes and level with them. If you can master this, you’ll accomplish so much more than you ever could by trying to go it alone.
  18. Get to know yourself. Take personality tests, hang out by yourself, be introspective. Learn exactly who you are and what you want, or you’ll spend your life getting sucked into someone else’s current.
  19. Imposter Syndrome is real, and some days it’s hard to put it to rest. I am years into my career and I still find myself thinking: when is everyone going to figure out that I shouldn’t be here and I don’t know as much as they think I do? Even when there is no evidence to show that I am not doing as well as I should be, my mind interrupts me with thoughts like this. I’ve also learned that this happens to SO MANY PEOPLE. You’re not alone, the voice is lying, and you have to push through.
  20. When you are leading a meeting or a fitness class or anything, really, be confident in what you say. Don’t be deferential: take charge. When you’re in a position of leadership, people want you to take charge. So stop being scared and just do it.
  21. Social media is not reality. I’ve met some people in real life who have huge instagram followings and loads of beautiful pictures and they’re not at all what they portray on the internet. Stop comparing yourself to someone’s posed, filtered, and completely curated life. Enjoy and appreciate the messiness you bring to the table.
  22. Travel as much as you can. A few years ago, I made an agreement with myself that if I can get the time off of work and the trip is less than $1000, I’m going. Because of this, I’ve been on amazing trips that I would’ve talked myself out of otherwise to “save money” or some other lame excuse. I’m a better, more whole version of myself because of the places I’ve been and things I’ve seen and I wouldn’t take any of it back if you could offer me a refund of my time and money.
  23. Get outside in the sun as much as possible. It’ll energize you and bring you joy. You can afford a 10-minute break from your work to go for a walk and you’ll actually perform better when you come back from it.
  24. Certain habits make every day better. Eating vegetables, getting enough movement in, and taking time to meditate, read or journal are non-negotiables. Even on vacation, I find I enjoy myself more when I stick to these simple habits.
  25. Shake up your identity from time to time. For the past few years, I’ve considered “coffee drinker” and “crossfitter” parts of my identity (there’s even a sign on my desk that says crossfit and coffee). I thought I could not live without either of those things–that I wouldn’t be myself. Then I took a break from Crossfit and seriously reduced my caffeine consumption, and I learned a LOT about myself in that time. I’m now back to about 2 cups of cold brew per day and crossfitting 4x per week, but I wouldn’t take back the time I spent questioning myself and my beliefs and all that I learned in that process.
  26. You can’t impact everything, but you can impact something. There are so many causes out there it can feel overwhelming to give back. But you don’t have to pursue every cause: pick one or two that resonate with you and do what you can. I love to run charity races and do charity workouts to give back, but I’ve also found that anything environmental strongly resonates with me, so I’m now on a mission to get others involved keeping our planet thriving.
  27. The faster you consume content, the easier it is to retain. That sounds counterintuitive, but when you read fast or speed up your audiobooks/podcasts, it forces you to focus and you actually retain more. Added bonus: it also gives you more time to consume even more content. If you don’t believe me, listen to Jim Kwik.
  28. Love is everything. Love yourself, love your partner, love your friends, even show love to strangers. And most of all, live a life you love.

There you have it! What life lessons would you add to this list?

An Update On My Fitness Journey

Over the past few months, I’ve made some changes as far as my fitness goes. I’ve tried so many new things that it’s been a lot to follow. This post is a documentation of what I tried, why I tried it, and where I am now!

When I lived in Syracuse, I didn’t venture outside of my fitness bubble much. As soon as I set foot in Urban Life in July of 2014, I didn’t try much else. There were a few reasons for this:

  1. I LOVED going there every day–the coaches and members were like family to me and I never wanted to miss a workout there! (I could honestly say a million amazing things about my time there and all that it brought me as far as personal growth, connections, knowledge, and athleticism, but that could be its own post.)
  2. I was suuuper into CrossFit and wanted to be good at it, and trying non-CrossFit classes didn’t seem to align with that goal.
  3. There weren’t a ton of options in Syracuse. Sure, there are gyms, but the city is not exactly a hotbed for innovative fitness companies.

When I got to Charlotte in July 2018, all of these things kinda went out the window. I was entering a transition period where I wanted to try new things, and that trickled into my fitness journey. I was questioning if CrossFit was still the best thing for me (even though I was really enjoying my membership at CrossFit Dilworth). I was presented with a LOT more opportunities for fitness classes, and I was seeking new connections. All of this lead to the perfect storm of me branching out and trying new things with my fitness.

In October 2018, I decided to take a break from CrossFit and try a Mind Pump program, so I got a YMCA membership and purchased MAPS Strong, a 3-month lifting program. I quickly realized that I missed the energy of group classes, but I stuck it out for the full 3 months for the sake of finishing out my investment and building my metabolism. The program had fun, interesting and effective lists, and I learned a lot by doing it, but going to a gym and just lifting is not for me.

When it was over, I decided I wanted to get back into group exercise and try a variety of fitness classes. So many gyms offer a free trial (one day, a week, X number of classes) or a deeply discounted first month. I’ll save my in-depth analysis of each class/gym for another day, but I tried:

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I had a great experience at each gym I tried, but I missed having a home base. I don’t love the feeling of not having a gym membership. I like to have a plan in place as far as my workouts go, and just bouncing around didn’t feel quite right to me, so I started thinking about what gym I wanted to spend most of my time at so I could get a membership again.

As soon as I dropped into a CrossFit gym I knew I was ready to come back. Doing CrossFit makes me feel like an athlete. The movements require a lot of skill, the environment is high energy and competitive, and the Open was calling my name.

So as of February 2019, I am participating in the CrossFit open and back to being a member at CrossFit Dilworth! I plan on doing CrossFit at least 4x/week, but I also plan to continue trying other fitness classes. I really enjoyed Yoga One, F45 and Crown Town Athletics so I will continue dropping in at each of those from time to time. I also plan on trying:

When’s the last time you tried something new with your fitness? And if you’re in CLT, tell me: what else should I have on this list to try?

How and Why I Cut My Caffeine Intake

I love coffee. I love the taste of it, the smell of it, the ritual of drinking it, and the feeling it brings. To me, coffee is energizing, euphoric, and a staple in my day. Over the course of about 10 years, it grew to be a 3-4 cups per day staple.

I saw no problem with this. I was treating myself to something I loved. It made me feel happier, more productive. What I didn’t see was how it was affecting my anxiety, my sleep, and my wallet.

So, why did I stop drinking coffee?

But let’s back up a bit. In November 2018, I started to have sleep issues. Before then, I’d been the type of person that passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. I could sleep on command. I’ve fallen asleep in the car surrounded by loved ones all awake and talking because it was late at night and I value my sleep that much. So when these issues hit, I was shocked and confused and realized I needed to take a deeper look at my lifestyle.

I have healthy sleep hygiene. I relax at night with epsom salt baths, sleepytime tea, and occasionally yoga. I work out regularly, I eat pretty well, I try to manage my stress. I know exactly how important sleep is to a healthy lifestyle. So what could be causing this issue?

Besides overthinking it and not managing my stress as well as I thought I was, it was brought to my attention that my caffeine consumption should be looked at. I was not excited by the thought, but I’ll rise to a good challenge with a clear purpose. So in December 2018, I started my journey to cut my coffee consumption from 3-4 cups/day down to 1.

How did I cut my caffeine consumption?

I’m not a cold-turkey kind of person–I don’t believe that large, black and white changes all done at once create sustainable, lasting change (i.e. my healthy habits program that I created to completely combat this notion). So I started by cutting down to 2 cups/day for 2 weeks. I used to drink a cup of coffee right when I woke up (5:30/6 AM) then another when I got to work (8:30/9 AM) then another when I needed an afternoon pick-me-up (1-3 PM). The first cup I decided to cut was my mid-morning “when I get to work” coffee. This was pretty easy–I never really felt like I needed that cup since I was still buzzing from the first, it was more out of habit that I drank it.

Once I had comfortably shifted to 2 cups/day for 2 weeks, I cut down to 1 cup. This time, I decided to cut my very first cup of coffee and my afternoon cup, and go back to having a cup when I got to work. This change was much harder. Working out without caffeine was a big change for me at first, and when the afternoon slump hit, I struggled. I’ve found that caffeine-free herbal tea helps (especially this herbal elements blend) and so does decaf. But as the days have gone on, I’ve found that I’m even less reliant on those substitutes.

How do I feel now, 1 month into less caffeine?

I’m amazed that throughout this process I didn’t suffer from any headaches or true withdrawal symptoms. I did try to go totally caffeine-free one day and felt like my brain wouldn’t turn on, so I ordered a half-caff Pike’s Place from Starbucks (a girl’s still gotta get work done, right?!). I plan on sticking with half-caff for another few days and then trying to go coffee-free for awhile. I want to make coffee a treat again (and save some money in the process!).

I’ve also found that since January 2, 2019, I no longer have sleep issues. The first day I shifted to 1 cup/day was January 1. Now, I have made a lot of other adjustments (including meditation, gratitude journaling, and melatonin) but I can’t deny that I’ve felt less anxious and less “tired but wired” since I’ve embarked on this journey.

Do you drink a lot of coffee or a lot of caffeine? Have you embarked on a similar journey to reduce your consumption? I’d love to hear about it below!

2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Fitness Lovers

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I’m a sucker for the holidays (hence my December 16 wedding). I love the cheer, the decor, and showing the people in my life how much I love and appreciate them with gifts!

Now that December’s here, gifts are top of mind for me. Through my own search, I’ve highlighted my top suggestions for the fitness lovers in your life below!

  1. Fre skincare. Fre is the first line of skincare created specifically for skin that sweats. The ingredients are high-quality and smell amazing–I feel like I’m at a bougie spa when I’m using them. The products really help keep skin moisturized and feeling smooth. I’ve been using Fre for months now and am so pleased with how my skin looks and feels! And to top it all off, this company has amazing values. They plant an argan tree for every 123FRÉ set sold. Out of all the options they have, I would recommend the 123FRÉ set + Glow Me. The 123FRÉ set includes the core, daily-use products, and Glow Me is a tinted moisturizer that truly makes my skin glow while lightly masking any red spots on my skin. When I use Glow Me, I leave the house feeling confident without any makeup on. Check it out–code STODDS gets you a discount at checkout!
  2. HIIT at Home. Fitness is the gift that keeps on giving! This program is perfect for someone looking to get in shape without spending hours at the gym. It requires 30 minutes a day, 5 days/week, and NO EQUIPMENT. Help someone in your life get stronger, leaner, and more confident in 2019 with HIIT at Home!
  3. Work For Your Beer Shirt. How fun are these? If you know someone who loves burpees as much as they love beer, these shirts make a great gift. There’s also a “Work For Your Wine” shirt for the wine-os out there. I get stopped and complimented on these tanks every single time I wear them. Check them out, and code CHRISTINE15 gets you a discount at checkout!
  4. Apple Watch. I live and die by my Apple Watch. I actually tried to wear it on my wedding day until my friends pried it off me, and I haven’t gone a day without it besides that. I have super aggressive tan lines to it because it’s always on. I can’t say enough about how much I love it! Anyway, it’s on this list because fitness enthusiasts like to chase goals and quantify their efforts, and the Apple Watch delivers on both. You can see how many calories you burn in a variety of workouts, see accurate mileage for runs/bike rides/swims, and set workout-specific and daily calorie-specific goals for yourself. I also love that I can go for a run without my phone, and just use my watch and Air Pods to listen to music or podcasts. Which brings me to my next suggestion..
  5. Air Pods. I do admittedly LOVE apple products (I’m obsessed with my iPhone XS max, apple watch, air pods, etc) but Air Pods are my all-time favorite. They stay in really well, there’s no cord hitting me during my workouts (I hate the sound of that), and when you pull one out of your ear, it automatically pauses what you’re listening to. The sound quality is great. Anyone who works out by themselves NEEDS these.
  6. Speed Ladder. Speed ladders are inexpensive, easy to transport and add so much variety to your training. It’s great for anyone who likes to train like an athlete or wants to add something new to their home workouts. I use my speed ladder as a finisher at the end of most of my workouts. It’s challenging and fun.
  7. Jump Rope. Similar to speed ladders, jump ropes are also inexpensive, easy to transport, and allow you to add a challenge and variety to your workouts. My rope is from double under wonder – I liked customizing it and I like having a little bag to keep it in when I take it to and from the gym.

So, there you have it! What would you add to this list?

3 Reasons I Love To Work For My Beer

One of my favorite things about this city is the overwhelmingly popular beer fitness scene and all of the balanced living enthusiasts that come with it. That’s why when I heard about Work For Your Beer – Charlotte’s hub for all things beer fitness – I knew I had to get involved.  There are few (if any) things that I love more than a nice adult beverage after a workout! So what exactly is Work For Your Beer?

Work For Your Beer is the place to go if you’re looking for beer fitness classes. This site serves as a guide for pub run clubs, brewery yoga classes, bootcamps that end with beer, and more (there are even dance classes — Twerk For Your Beer, anyone?). Outside of the super-helpful calendar that provides details for more than 100 beer fitness events/week, they also post interesting content. The blog shares beer releases and reviews, Charlotte-specific events, and topics that balanced living enthusiasts would relate to (read one of my personal favorites here). PS – if this sounds like your thing, sign up for the weekly brewsletter–you won’t be disappointed!

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Like this shirt? Enter code: christine15 at checkout on the Work For Your Beer site for a discount!

So, why am I so obsessed with being a Work For Your Beer brand ambassador? Find my top 3 reasons below:

  1. The workout variety. So many workouts, so little time (and money!). I love that the beer fitness scene allows you to vary your workouts, commitment-free, for a small price tag. Many of the pub runs are free (you just buy your own beer afterward), and classes are around $5 (which sometimes includes a beer!). So, you get to experience lots of different trainers and exercise styles for much cheaper than a membership or drop-in fee at most boutique studios! The variety of options is great for someone who likes all different kinds of fitness.
  2. The craft beers. Beer fitness is a great excuse to try different craft beers! In Charlotte, there’s no shortage of brewery options. Within walking distance of my apartment, I can go to Legion Brewing, Resident Culture, Catawba, Pilot, and more. It would be easy to fall into a rut of going to the breweries closest to me – but the fitness events offered at other breweries get me out there, trying new things! I’ve since figured out that my fave Charlotte beers are Birdsong Jalapeno Pale Ale and Wooden Robot Good Morning Vietnam.
  3. The community of people. Beer fitness events provide a great way to get out and be social on weeknights. I love being able to connect with people who I already know share two of my biggest loves! And meeting new people is so important to me, being new in town. To all my fellow beer-and-fitness-loving Queen City residents: message me to meet up at a class together!

I’d love to hear your favorite beers, breweries, and beer fitness events (Charlotte or not) in the comments!

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Why I Moved to Charlotte, NC (and Why I’m Loving It!)

I was born in Syracuse, NY in 1991. I grew up in a suburb of the city, attended Syracuse University, then moved to a suburb on the other side of the city. For the first 27 years of my life, it was all I knew.

There’s so much about Syracuse that I love. I have 27 years of family ties and amazing friendships there. In Syracuse, I experienced so many firsts in life, so much growth, and a ton of fun. But there was also a lot I was missing.

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For one: I’m happiest when the sun is shining. It’s something I don’t even realize in the dead of winter, but once the sun comes out, I feel like a completely new person, full of energy and excited to do things. I am truly my best self when I have that kind of energy. When the sun isn’t shining: I find myself wanting to stay home. I noticed last year that I was having a hard time finding the motivation to do things that I loved, like coaching HIIT, because it meant leaving my house after 5 PM when it was dark out and I had no energy. After weeks of endless grey, I’ll find myself completely thrown off. Syracuse averages 63 sunny days per year. Charlotte almost doubles that at 109. As I learned this about myself, having more sunshine moved up high on my list of priorities in life!

I was also ready to be somewhere that’s experiencing growth and has a lot of opportunities. Syracuse isn’t exactly a booming economy, and the job market for millenials is less than ideal. I particularly knew I wanted to work at a marketing agency. All of my experience pointed me in that direction. I love working with other young marketing professionals and I love all the cliche millenial perks, like kegs in the office and work happy hours. Syracuse just didn’t have a lot of options in this realm. It’s also not a hotbed for young people, and I prefer a work environment where I have a lot of peers close to my age. Charlotte, on the other hand, IS a hotbed for young people, and has SO many marketing agencies to choose from. I had a hard time deciding where I should apply with all the options available! I ended up interviewing a ton of places before landing at a place where I already feel so at home, Pinckney Marketing. The office is aesthetic and fun, my coworkers are great, and there’s a huge emphasis on growth, with the processes and goals in place to back it up. Work takes up a significant chunk of time, it was really important to me to land someplace that I’m happy, and I knew I would have better odds in Charlotte!

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The other big thing on my mind was the opportunity to experience new things. Charlotte has so much going on! There are so many bars and restaurants I’ve never been to, tons of breweries, and a huge beer fitness scene. The city is alive with young people. After watching Syracuse be a place that most people my age moved away from, I wanted to see what it’s like to live somewhere that 60 people a day are moving to. I’m an active, experience-loving person and I was drawn to a city that would have a lot to offer.

Moving is something I’ve always thought about doing but never pulled the trigger on. I was so comfortable in Syracuse. For 4 years, I had the same routine of going to the same gym every morning and heading to work in Armory Square. I went to the same bars and restaurants because I knew what I liked. And while there’s nothing wrong with that: I also wasn’t growing. I was so. comfortable. Everything in Syracuse was comfortable to me. I’m a firm believer that outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens. I needed to take a leap and do something scary and figure out who I am in a new place without all of my comforts to fall back on. That included moving to a new city without a job (and proving to myself that it could be done, and in fact, work out better than I ever expected!).

So now that I’m a month in: how do I feel about it? I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS CITY! I love the weather. I love the skyline. I love my apartment. I love my neighborhood and all the ice cream shops, breweries, and restaurants within walking distance. I love my job and my coworkers. I love walking around Uptown on my lunch. I love being a Work For Your Beer ambassador and attending beer fitness events. I love how active the city is. I love the CrossFit workouts I’m doing. I love that I can bike to work. I love having nitro cold brew on tap almost everywhere I go. I love interacting with people who are so different than central New Yorkers. I love relearning things as simple as where to grocery shop and how to get there and how to navigate the store efficiently. And most of all: I love the space and freedom my husband and I have had to be with each other, and all of our adventures exploring the city we now call home.

A month into this move I can say that I’m so happy I made it. Do I miss my friends and family? Of course. But I am resoundingly ecstatic with this decision and look forward to all that’s to come!

My Experience Attending the CFL1 Certificate Course

*Disclaimer: this blog post is a high-level overview of my personal experience. No details about the format and content of this course will be disclosed.*

Attending the CFL1 Certificate Course

At just about four years into my CrossFit journey: I finally bit the bullet and went for my CFL1. To those who don’t know what that means, it stands for CrossFit Level One, and it’s a certificate course that provides introductory education on the fundamental principles and movements of CrossFit.

So, why four years in did I decide to pursue it? It’s something I’d thought about more than once as I started to grow as a CrossFit athlete. For one, I loved the discipline and confidence I gained through CrossFit and wanted to share that experience with others.

Then, once I became an NASM personal trainer, I knew I would have to take CEU’s (i.e. continue my education) to keep my certification active. Since all my NASM studying occurred at home, on the internet/with a book, I wanted my next endeavor to be an in-person seminar, like this.

As I started to look into the certification further, I saw that the CFL1 course was being offered in Charlotte shortly after my move. Something that had deterred me previously was the cost: not only is the course itself $1000, but it’s typically offered in bigger cities (aka, not Syracuse) so I would’ve incurred travel expenses on top of it. (Sometimes it’s really hard to justify investing in yourself, but that’s a topic for another day.) With the course coming to my city, it would significantly reduce the cost, and I was out of excuses. It was time to dive in!

Here are my biggest takeaways from the weekend I spent at the CFL1 course:

  1. It’s humbling. I always refer to CrossFit as humbling because there’s so much going on that it’s impossible to be good at everything. But this course was another level of humbling. Four years in, I’ve made a ton of improvements. I’ve “won” a lot of workouts in the gym. I’ve gone to non-CrossFit gyms and been complimented by coaches, telling me that I move well and they can tell I’m an athlete. But in this course, I was surrounded by CrossFit experts, critiquing my movements and efficiency and challenging me on things I thought I knew so well. I received an overwhelming amount of critical feedback on the simplest movement, the move that most of CrossFit is built upon: the air squat. And it wasn’t just me: all 50 athletes in the room with their own levels of CrossFit experience received a wealth of critical feedback. Which brings me to the other reason this experience was so humbling: the caliber of the other athletes also participating in the course. In most social circles, if you do CrossFit, you are (among) the fittest of your friend group. People at work refer to you as the fit one. You stand out for your love and pursuit of fitness. Not in this room: you’re now the norm, one of many. In a way, it’s a super cool experience. Think of the last time you attended an event and not one person was overweight. I know it’s not the case at most sporting events, concerts, fairs or festivals. In a room of other CrossFitters, your “edge” is gone!
  2. I’m better for it. This was one of those experiences that was pretty far outside of my comfort zone. I knew that by attending, I would be opening myself up to criticism and to different ways of thinking, which is a position I don’t often put myself in. I know that putting myself out there like that and opening myself up to that experience has already made me better as a person and as a coach. It reminded me that I can’t be afraid of revealing that I’m not perfect, and that the only way to improve is to do things like this!
  3. I learned a lot about coaching fitness that I didn’t already know. Being in person with lots of other coaches and athletes exposed me to so many different ways to coach someone. I learned helpful new verbal cues and I also learned a ton about tactical cues. I’ve never used tactical cues when coaching, and I’ve very rarely been coached with tactical cues, but we used them a ton this weekend. I realized just how much more effective they are for me to learn. In the middle of a workout, my brain shuts off and goes into “just get it done” mode, so when someone tells me verbally to change something I’m doing, I don’t always have the awareness to correct. My brain isn’t always aware of where my body is in space. Based on what I saw this weekend, I think a lot of people have a similar experience when they’re pushing hard in a workout, so I’m excited to have a better way to help people moving forward!

So where am I going from here? I hope to use this experience to improve as a coach and as an athlete. I plan to take what I’ve learned about myself (just how much my weight ends up in my toes/midfoot when I move) to improve my own form and grow as an athlete. And I plan to use the techniques, methodology, and cueing I learned this weekend to coach others into their fittest selves. Who’s with me?!

My Podcasting Debut: Listen to My First Interview

I love listening to podcasts. On my commute, on my lunchtime walk, as I’m getting ready in the morning.. virtually any time that I can, I’ve got my AirPods in and a podcast on. I feel like I am always learning something new or expanding my perspective. Some of my favorites include Mind Pump, Girls Gone WOD, She Thrives, Meathead Hippie, The Model Health Show and PaleOMG Uncensored. It should come as no surprise that literally all of these have to do with improving your health/fitness and/or lifestyle. That’s the content I gravitate toward (although I do try to expand into other avenues from time to time so I would love some recommendations in the comments or my DMs!).

I recently had the very exciting opportunity to step into the other side of podcasting by being a guest on the very first episode of the Colin Cerniglia Podcast! If that name looks familiar to you, it’s because he’s my husband ;). He owns a full-service coaching, training and consulting firm, called Talent 409, that helps athletes discover their talent altitude. Talent 409 hosts a number of paid events (seminars, workshops, etc.) but also has some great free content, like the Colin Cerniglia Podcast, to get you started on your journey to becoming a dynamic leader.

You can hear my interview below, where we cover things like: my athletic journey, the impact of sports and athletics in my life, and my thoughts on leadership. I have found a lot of parallels between sports and the workplace which I’d love to hear your thoughts about! Give it a listen here and let me know what you think!

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