My Personal CrossFit

This past weekend I suffered through an introductory CrossFit session with my boyfriend as the slave master. Since neither gasping for air nor achy muscles are conducive to photograph taking, only a few pictures were taken.

The scene of the crime, American River CrossFit in Sacramento.

I was so optimistic and full of hope before we started…

The session began with an introduction to lifting form and basic weightlifting apparatuses. First on the docket?

Kettlebells!

Despite their unassuming name and demeanor these little “bells” are, in my humble opinion, quite evil. Saturday’s workout included goblet squats (which I think should be renamed goblin squats, but I digress) and kettlebell swings. After learning the basics of these two exercises, I was given the following warm up:

3 rounds of:

  • 3 burpees
  • 6 Goblet squats
  • 9 Kettlebell swings

The next portion of the workout was devoted to mastering back squats, which according to my back squat-obsessed boyfriend, are the most important exercise to include in your workouts.

* Note: Ladies, if you’re worried that working with weights will add unwanted bulk to your frame, please don’t be. Weights are a great way to not only stimulate your metabolism, but are key in staving off weak bones and diseases like osteoporosis. Here’s a great article that walks you through the benefits of weights and may help alleviate some of your fears – Everyday Paleo: Women and Muscle.

So after working on my form – chest up, chin up, knees in line with feet – I was given a mini back squat workout of 3 rounds of 10, squatting just the bar. The suggestion (I use the word “suggestion” loosely as this was essentially a demand) was to incorporate back squats at least twice a week going forward, Mondays 5×5 & Wednesdays 3×10.

Next up was pull ups. SHUDDER. So I realize my pull up fears are somewhat unfounded, but hanging from that cold metal bar always manages to suck out my confidence. I’ve been practicing on the Gravitron at my work gym, but was informed Saturday that negative pull ups are actually the best way to prepare your body for this exercise, which entails jumping up to the bar and slooooowly lowering yourself down. After a handful of pathetic pull up attempts and half a dozen negative pull ups I practiced kipping with a band, the small chest forward swinging motion definitely helps you to capitalize on your momentum to complete the pull up.

And was I done after all that? Nope… That was, apparently, all just a warm up. Next came the following short circuit workout:

3 rounds of:

  • 30 jump rope single jumps
  • 20 box jumps
  • 10 squatting wall balls (8 lbs/10 feet)

I was red-faced and shaking with muscle fatigue by the end of this torturous hour, which sadly was only a fraction of how I would come to feel in 24 hours.

Was the workout intense and exhausting? Yes. Am I sore? Yes. Am I concerned that my boyfriend hates me little bit because he did that to me? Yes. Am I counting the days until my next attempt? ABSOLUTELY.

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The Art of Lingerie

I’ve loved lingerie for as long as I can remember. I used to steal borrow my mom’s slips and nightgowns when I was little and when I got older she used to bribe me to go to the dentist with trips to the Nordstrom intimates section. That lasted through college actually… 🙂

Vintage - Marilyn Monroe!

I’m not sure what first intrigued me about lingerie, perhaps it was the bombshell glamour evoked in the movies I grew up with. Grace Kelly’s nightgown in Rear Window, Take Back Your Mink from Guys & Dolls, Natalie Wood in Gypsy, or Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot.

What I can say for certain though is that my love affaire with lingerie was consummated, if you will, when I lived abroad. It was everywhere, much more prevalent and “acceptable” than in the US, and I just couldn’t get enough. I wandered into all the little shops I could find in Paris, Madrid, Milan, and Rome. I still have a handful of the pieces that I found while I was there, including a gorgeous lavender dressing gown.

And regardless of what first inspired me this has been a love affaire that’s lasted 29 fabulous years, and at this point I have nightgowns, separates, slips, matching sets, and dressing gowns filling up my closet and an entire bureau stuffed satins, silks, and lace.

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In my experience lingerie can serve a woman in two distinct but interconnected ways – the way it makes her feel and the way it makes her look.

The right cut, color, fabric, and style can make you feel beautiful, glamorous, and sexy. And I’m not just talking about pieces that you’re wearing for someone else, I’m talking about the simple pleasure of sleeping with the feel of satin against your skin or feeling soft lace wrap around your ankles when you take a step. It doesn’t have to be about anyone but yourself!

In addition to making you feel fabulous the right undergarments can make your clothes fit and look even better. It doesn’t matter whether you favor Lily of France, Victoria’s Secret, La Perla, or Agent Provocateur, it’s about finding pieces that complement your body type, personal style, and the clothes in your wardrobe. And for whomever invented shapewear (Spanx anyone?) deserves a medal, those glorious garments can hide all manner of sins.

However, despite my love of lingerie the “lingerie as clothing” trend is one that I must caution you to be careful with. Outside of Halloween it can be hard to pull off wearing stand alone pieces as clothing a la Easy A.

Easy A

That being said, you can evoke the same boudoir feel by wearing a lacy cocktail dress, pieces with sheer panels, satin and silk, or even by layering a bustier in your look.

Needs some inspiration for adding a sexy, boudoir flare to an outfit? Check out Giorgio Armani’s Fall 2011 Boudoir runway show or these sumptuous advertisements that were influences by beautiful, retro lingerie.

   

 

With the luxurious cuts, delicious fabrics, and just a hint of bedroom glamour, these clothes are a treat for the senses and a great way to indulge your lingerie fantasies in the real world.

Do you love lingerie too? How do you feel about daytime wear?

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Cafe Gratitude

This past weekend was busting at the seams with amazing and memorable moments. Three of my best friends from college came to San Francisco and we had a truly amazing weekend. There was dancing, running, watching the CrossFit Games, laughing and a whole lot of food. One of the major highlights?

This place!

Cafe Gratitude has been on my Must Try list for years but I almost never make it to the Mission so I’ve never had the pleasure before. And, WOW, what a pleasure! This is a famous San Francisco vegan landmark that supports local farmers, sustainable agriculture and environmental-friendly products. The quote at the top of the menu really says it all:

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food – Hippocrates

The four of us girls have all vegan or vegetarian at various times over the years and were genuinely thrilled to try this place on for size. My boyfriend, however, was slightly less enthusiastic. He was a good sport about it though and I ordered him Indian once we got home. 🙂

We spent an insane amount of time looking over the menu and finally settled on just ordering half of it.

Drinks:

  • I Am Enlivened: High protein algae shot
  • I Am Luscious: Vegan milkshake w/ hazelnut milk, figs, dates, cacao & vanilla bean – UNFREAKING BELIEVABLE!!! This was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever had.
  • I Am Courageous: Organic slow dripped coffee

Eats:

  • I Am Complete: Mediterranean plate featuring raw green falafel (not a huge hit), live crackers (yummy) and a seriously delicious almond hummus
  • I Am Grounded: Roasted organic potatoes w/ spicy cashew nacho cheese – I’m not going to try to lie and say that we behaved like ladies, we didn’t, we practically licked the plate clean.
  • I Am Transformed: Corn tacos w/ brown rice, black beans, salsa & cashew nacho cheese – This was my order and I ate it in under two minutes. And then promptly started on my neighbor’s food… 🙂
  • I Am Warm-Hearted: Organic polenta w/ Puttanesca sauce, cashew ricotta & Brazil nut parmesan – Delicious & hearty, this would be a great dish for a chilly winter night
  • I Am Elated: (Entirely raw) live spinach tortilla enchilada w/ sprouted seed filling & topped w/ spicy mole & cashew sour cream – This looked delish, but it never made it around to me
  • I Am Grateful: This is a really great dish and consisted of brown rice & local community-grown veggies w/ an amazing tahini & garlic sauce

Immediately after trying the cashew nacho cheese in the I Am Grounded appetizer my friend Emi and I bounced out of our seats and ran to the front to buy the Cafe Gratitude cookbook. Be on the look out for some recipe adventures once I dig in!

Unfortunately there was a major downside to this lunch… Namely that I’m now addicted to a restaurant that is really, really far away from my apartment.

I also want to offer a quick congratulations to Crystal & Ashley for their amazing time at the SF Half Marathon!

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Slowly catching up with the times…

Moi Contre La Vie now has its own Facebook page, so please take a look when you have time.

As you can see, I’ll be posting much more frequently and more informally on Facebook than on the MCLV blog. Expect interesting and provacative articles on food, health and fitness, tons of fashion ideas, photos, news and sale notices, as well as links to great blogs that cover topics that I think you’ll find to your liking.

Don’t hesitate to let me know what you’re interested in seeing or learning about, always happy to take requests!

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The cookies that passed the test!

I’ve been struggling to find the ideal cookie recipe, one that would be healthy and non-vegan (i.e. boyfriend) approved. Not always an easy feat, let me tell you!

My first attempt at vegan cookies turned out fine. Not awful, not great. My first attempt at vegan, gluten-free cookies was… Not so good. At first they wouldn’t stay together, then they were too dense. It was quite a balancing act to get the right level of sweetness (I balked when I saw a recipe that called for 2 WHOLE CUPS of refined sugar), oil and flour. The coconut flour smelled divine, but the cookies fell apart when you touched them, while the spelt flour with just oil was too cake-y and not light enough.

Finally I had my Goldilocks moment and they came out juuust right.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3 tbsp cocao powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar (brown rice syrup will also work quite well)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup carob chips
  • 1/4 cup coconut shreds (unsweetened)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Combine dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt & coconut, and stir until well combined
  • Separately, combine syrup, agave nectar, vanilla and coconut extracts with the apple sauce and stir until well mixed
  • Combine mixtures, add carob chips and stir lightly
  • Spoon batter onto lined baking sheet (these cookies spread so keep this in mind when you’re spacing)
  • Top with raw grain sugar and/or more coconut shreds if desired
  • Bake for 13 minutes & immediately remove from oven
  • Allow to cool for a few minutes and enjoy

These cookies are soft so be sure to let them cool or they’ll crumble around the edges. And if you want to save some for later, they’re great frozen. The flavor is chocolatey and rich, with a barely detectible hint of coconut .

Good luck mon petits chefs!

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