South of the Border

This past year has been full of fun writing assignments and fun travel. In terms of writing, I’ve been doing gear reviews for Bicycling magazine, worked on a couple of fitness articles for Women’s Health, and wrote about energy for Details magazine. I also wrote about the power of a hug for Family Circle, detailed singer Ellie Goulding’s running routine for SELF magazine, and wrote various diet, fitness, and nutrition posts for websites like Shape.com and Fitbie.com. (See these in the writing clips section or via my new portfolio at contently.com.)

Luckily, my writing work is usually a lot of fun. But much of the time, travel is even more fun. (Good thing I do plenty of both!) I recently tallied the number of times I traveled south of the border in the last year and the total came to 5 (4 if you don’t count Puerto Rico, which I do). Wow! I think most surprising of all was how little I needed my junior-high school Spanish: Nicaragua was the only place I had to conjure up those mostly forgotten words, despite having also traveled to Honduras, Mexico, and Costa Rica. Each of these trips was amazing. I won’t go into too much detail but I do want to post some pics. It’s hard to choose which one was the most fun—I’d probably go back to any of the spots I visited, and more! Vieques, Puerto Rico was the first stop. I was actually there in early May so technically it’s been a little more than a year. The weather was perfect and the terrain was stunning. We swam in turquoise waters, walked along stunning beaches, had cocktails on a gorgeous boat, and saw lots of horses (and foals)! 488010_10101274672782412_1089114948_n 532772_10151445143138795_1146983347_n 935230_10151442001963795_1883481229_n 538018_10151444256613795_1030965522_n Later in the month I went to Costa Rica. I’d been there a few years before and, while I liked the destination I wasn’t enamored with it. However this trip took us deeper into the jungles and the culture. I was there for a full week during which we hiked, scouted the volcano Arenal, and—best of all—white water rafted down the Pacuare River. It was a spectacular trip! IMG_8268 IMG_8245-2 IMG_8533 IMG_9204 In October, I made a quick trip to Honduras with friends. (Our tiny plane actually landed on a field in Guatemala our first day there—we were greeted by tons of adorable little kiddos—but because we were only there for a few hours I can’t technically check that country off the list.) We visited the ruins of Copan which were amazing. Lots of sacrificial altars and so forth. Then we hopped a plane to the island of Roatan, where we went stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling, and boating. What fun! Windows Phone_20131010_13_15_15_Pro__highres Windows Phone_20131011_09_55_41_Pro Windows Phone_20131011_13_01_22_Pro__highres Windows Phone_20131012_11_39_29_Pro   Windows Phone_20131012_17_25_01_Pro Windows Phone_20131013_09_04_30_Pro Windows Phone_20131014_06_23_29_Pro__highres In November, my father and I escaped to Rancho la Puerta, one of my all-time favorite destinations. Nicknamed “The Ranch” or “The Door”, this health and fitness retreat near Tecate, Mexico, has it all. For one week we took cooking lessons, went on early-morning hikes, tried out sports like kick-boxing and aqua aerobics, and even practiced meditation. The setting was stunning and boy did I feel relaxed when I returned home! Windows Phone_20131116_07_06_13_Pro__highres Windows Phone_20131114_07_42_34_Pro__highres Windows Phone_20131112_16_40_24_Pro__highres Windows Phone_20131112_16_38_25_Pro Windows Phone_20131111_14_38_44_Pro Finally, this past February I went to Nicaragua for the first time. I’d been interested in visiting this country ever since I was 10 or so, when my father went to help document their national election. In the past 20-some years the country has changed dramatically, becoming not only stable but also a bit of a tourist destination. It’s still far from Cancun—I didn’t even see any real souvenir stands—but there are a growing number of tourists visiting the country. We spent our first night in the charming town of Granada, the next two nights on the volcanic island of Ometepe, and the final part of our trip on the beaches of Playa Maderas. Windows Phone_20140226_07_58_18_Pro Windows Phone_20140226_14_45_16_Pro__highres Windows Phone_20140226_14_49_11_Pro Windows Phone_20140226_14_58_33_Pro Windows Phone_20140227_09_54_56_Pro Windows Phone_20140227_12_13_52_Pro Windows Phone_20140227_15_24_13_Pro__highres Windows Phone_20140228_15_13_20_Pro__highres Windows Phone_20140228_15_17_54_Pro Windows Phone_20140228_18_18_22_Pro Windows Phone_20140301_09_59_14_Pro

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Women’s Health magazine: Rapid Results Workout

As a writer who’s also curious about the body, I’m lucky to be assigned articles on health and fitness that often require contact with experts in the field. A recent article I wrote for Women’s Health magazine needed just this: In order to find the most time-efficient workouts out there I pored over studies and research then contacted the professors and trainers making headway in this field. The result was an article in the April issue of Women’s Health, called “The Body You Want in the Time You Have.”

Full disclosure: I always try the workouts I write about, and sometimes I’ll even stick with one for a few trips to the gym, or even weeks. But these workouts in this article are so simple–and effective–I’m still doing them months after initially writing about them. By working hard for 20 minutes a day a few days a week the scale has started to budge and I’m (finally!) back in my skinny jeans. After the 8-minute workout in the piece my thighs were so hammered I had a hard time walking down stairs for 3 days! So, these moves and cardio routines are effective. Here’s a sneak peek of one of my favorite workouts from the piece, the 20-minute cardio interval routine. If you try it out, let me know what you think!

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More 2012 Highlights

Well, getting the rest of 2012 down on paper hasn’t happened all that quickly so here’s the short list of highlights: I got to hang out with Patrick Dempsey on a bike (along with my friend, cycling superstar Rebecca Rusch, and athletes Tom Danielson and Levi Leipheimer) at Levi’s Gran Fondo, a timed road race on the coast of Northern California.

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I got to meet lots of superstar athletes at the ESPN Women in Sports summit, including Gabby Reece and Al Raisman.

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I went on another 4-day float trip down the Rogue River here in Southern Oregon. (Mostly in a raft though this was a short paddle board portion.)

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I became certified to teach barre3, a workout based here in Portland, OR that combines ballet, yoga, and Pilates.

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I biked the Cycle Oregon Weekend Ride with my friends Lindsey and Eddy (and dropped out of the full week ride when I realized bike rides to the grocery store wouldn’t prep me for 500-miles of riding).

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And I traveled a lot: To Wyoming to see friends and family; to New York for my friend Alyssa’s wedding; to California (3 times) for various birthdays and vacations including a short climbing trip to Joshua Tree. DSCN3379

So, lots of fun and adventure in 2012. May 2013 hold more of the same!

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The Past Six Months… Starting with my garden

So much to say. These last several months have been really great. I feel settled in Portland and have vowed to travel less in 2013. I’ve nursed an injury to my “good” knee and fully recovered. I started teaching barre3, a workout based here in Portland that involves small isometric contractions and lots of Rihanna. I’ve traveled to California four times. (!?) I’ve moved–twice–bringing my total of Portland homes to three in one year while my New York decade was spent in just one. (I feel like the universe is just evening things out.) I’m good. I’m happy. I’m healthy. I am feeling inspired in my writing career. I’m having fun putting together workouts for my classes. And just last night I picked up my knitting needles and put on a period drama–my recipe for success last winter. So yes, I’m good.

My biggest regret from this long silence is not sharing about my garden plot. I had the best time. It was incredibly therapeutic, jus tike I knew it would be. (Having a garden was high on my list of reasons I wanted to leave NYC for PDX.) I harvested corn. And beets. And lettuce. And green beans. And tomatoes–3 kinds. There was also kale, and radishes, and carrots, and onions, and scallions, and cucumbers, and strawberries. Such bounty! I loved working the soil. I loved eating the actual fruits of my labor.

But I didn’t blog about it.

So now I will. With pictures of some of my favorite moments, meals, and sights.

When I first saw the plot, in late April, it was 100-square feet of weeds:

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So I pulled them:

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And cleared the space. You can’t really tell, but I put two wood chip rows for walking: 
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Then I planted my starters. (At this point, seeds seemed intimidating.) From left to right, front to back, we have sweet peas against the trellis and leeks to their right. Gold and red beets are in front of them. In the center row I planted spinach, scallions, and kale. In the purple cage is a tomato plant; just to its right is a pepper plant. 
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Overnight things started to grow. My spinach and kale shot up and so did the scallions. 
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The sweet peas started to climb their trellis. I always ate handfuls while weeding. SAMSUNG

They also made their way onto salads of homegrown spinach scallions and raspberries with quinoa, almonds and apple. Delish!SAMSUNG

The leeks, beets, and carrots flourished, taking a bit longer to ripen. (disregard all those weeds in the trail way :)SAMSUNG

Here’s a salad of kale, scallions, quinoa, walnuts, nectarines, and blackberries from my garden. SAMSUNG

By July or so the corn was coming in and the kale was huge! I pulled out the spinach–it bolted in the heat–and put in some lettuce (by seed!) which you see peeking up in the foreground. SAMSUNG

The corn–called sugar pearl–was super sweet. SAMSUNG

Then, one day I arrived and saw that a lending library went in next to my plot. (Just beyond that blackberry bush on the left is the fenced in corner of my garden.) Isn’t it the cutest thing ever!SAMSUNG

Come August, when my purple, green, and red tomatoes were ripening, along with my yellow and green cucumbers and onions, I made every variation of Greek Salad possible. SAMSUNG

Here’s a typical harvest from August: radishes, tomatoes, onions, kale, lettuce, corn, carrots, blackberries, and cucumbers.SAMSUNG

I just love all the color that came out of the ground and off the vines:SAMSUNG

In September, which is part of summer here in Portland, the garden was still going strong.

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The tomato plants got so big and heavy I had to add a second row of trellising. SAMSUNG

The chocolate peppers came in, turning from green to red to brown.SAMSUNG

The green zebra tomatoes started to turn a little yellow, signaling they were ready to eat. 
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Green beans took the place of the sweet peas, which succumbed to the summer heat.
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I had a single delicata squash come in. I stuffed it with brown butter orzo, cranberries, and nuts and served it with some garlic green beans. Yum!

SAMSUNGIn early November I pulled up most all of the plants and “put my garden to bed,” helping retain nutrients in the soil and some other good for the garden things. But my kale plants are still going strong, and so are the leeks. I’m already looking forward to next year’s plan!

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Access Hollywood Live!

I was so excited when I received a call from Prevention magazine last week to see if I could help out with a TV segment in LA. The story was the best swimsuits to work out and hang out in, and the show was Access Hollywood Live. I told them to sign me up! I flew to LA last night–or “Hollywood” as my dad was boasting to his friends–and appeared on the show this morning. I had a great time–instead of Billy Bush, Chris Harrison of “The Bachelor” was there filling in as co-host!

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Birthday News

Hello! I’ve got a lot of catching up to do but I’ll start with two Fridays ago, May 11, which was my birthday! I turned 33 which is an auspicious number in my opinion. I actually tell myself that each new year, but there really does seem to be something about 33. Anyway, I had a terrific day. I took a barre3 class, I went to the garden supply store, I had lunch with a couple of good friends, I spent some time planting my new strawberries and tomatoes, and I had a party that included Indian food, ice cream, and craft beers. It was an awesome day! But there was one more event that really helped my day get off to a good start–I went on our local morning show to talk weight loss tips! It was a fun segment that covered some of my fave weight loss ideas from Better Each Day. I was there at 8:30AM–being on TV literally started my birthday off, which is kind of cool.

I promise to post garden pics and more soon, but for now, check this out:

Slim Down Secrets

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Back in Portland

Don’t ask me how it’s easier to blog from Africa than America. I’ve been back in the states for two weeks but have already jetted of to San Diego and Seattle so I guess stateside travel may have gotten the best of me. But now I’m back in Portland and am really excited to be here. The weather is getting nice–I’ve been on three long bike rides this week–and I’m ready to truly set down some roots. Portland has been my home for 6 months, but I’ve only been here for half of that. I don’t have any trips planned for a couple of months so now it’s time to really cultivate friendships and get into a routine.

Part of that has been getting back to work. I’ve been pitching a lot of stories and have had a few I wrote before my trip come out. I had a celebrity workout piece in the March issue of Shape as well as this article on choosing your yoga style for WeightWatchers.com. (I couldn’t find the Shape article online, but I did find this one, on quick stress-busters, which cites me as an expert.)

I was also profiled in an Australian magazine, Body + Soul. They have down that I live in LA–um, no–but everything else is spot on.

Happy Friday everyone! It’s good to be back!

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