Valentine’s Day Weekend Recap: Running, Sunshine, and Picnics

With temperatures in Oakland and San Francisco reaching (and happily relaxing into) the high 70s this past three-day weekend, my last few days have been filled with morning runs, long walks, Valentine’s Day indulgences, and picnics every freaking day. If there’s anything I love more than Mexican food, chocolate, and running, it’s a good picnic.

Saturday morning Michel and I woke up early to go to a Valentine’s Day fun run/scavenger hunt hosted by Fleet Feet SF in the Marina, which had us running all over Chestnut Street, up the Lyon Steps, and through the Presidio along with some other great singles and couples.

I met an amazing woman named Monica who, like me, has never been what you’d call a “natural athlete.” But what she lacks in athletic upbringing, she makes up for with an intense drive and sense of self-competition. She’s now running 50ks and has her first ultra coming up this spring! She left such an impression on me, telling me to “NEVER let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, or stop you from doing what you want to do.” This woman is a boss.

Feeling inspired (thanks, Monica!), slightly exhausted (the Lyon Steps are no joke), and increasingly hungry, Michel and I grabbed coffee and took a stroll down Union Street before hitting up Whole Foods for picnic staples and going to Dolores Park for our first picnic of the weekend.

Cheese + crackers + people and dog watching = the recipe for everlasting happiness.

Sunday included an early leg workout at my gym, church at Canvas in San Francisco (so good!), then a solo interval run and coffee shop time. After this, Michel surprised me by taking me to Lake Merritt in Oakland and pulling out flowers, as well as a bottle of wine and chocolate for a sunset picnic in my favorite place in the world. Perfection.

On Monday, we woke up really early, walked around the lake, got coffee, and made a plan to go to Grand Lake Kitchen, a well-reviewed brunch and lunch spot in Oakland that ALWAYS has a crazy-long wait. In fact, we arrived 20 minutes before they opened, and there was already a line! However, if you have tastebuds, don’t let this line deter you from this amazing place. I had the chilaquiles (!!!) and Michel had the pork belly hash, and both were AMAZING.

After that, I hit the park again with a good book and some sparkling water to soak up even more sunshine. (My white legs were thankful.)

I start my new job next Monday, so I’m kinda still on a mini-vaca and will be continuing to try to soak up as much sun as possible  over the next couple of days.

This morning’s agenda includes a long run through Golden Gate Park.

How did you spend your Valentine’s/President’s Day weekend? Whatever you did, I hope you treated yourself to something special and enjoyed being wherever you are.

With love,

Melissa

 

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What I Learned from Whole 30

Michel and Melissa from Cook Slow, Run Fast excited about just finishing a Whole30

Guess who you’re looking at? Two people who have recently finished the Whole30!!  (We’re also mid-run, so there’s that too…)

I completed one last year by myself, and Michel decided to join me for my second time around because: 1. He saw how awesome I felt after finishing Whole 30 last July and 2. He felt ashamed about the ridiculous amount of cookies, cheese, and wine we consumed in December.

Parts of the last 30 days were incredible; I was full of energy, I was stoked on eating delicious breakfasts (eggs again, wahoo!), and I felt stronger at the gym. On other days, I dreamed of pouring Nutella over every single sugary food known to man and couldn’t stand the sight of another egg.

Since reflecting on these ups and downs, I’m here today to share a few things I learned while on the Whole 30.

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Brussels Sprouts and Bacon with Eggs | Whole 30 Recipe

Brussels sprouts, bacon, and egg dish that is paleo and Whole 30 approved

Like so many others, I’m on the January Whole 30 train with the hope of resetting my body after a December of chocolate, cheese, and enough wine to make any Game of Thrones character blush. By the end of December, I was feeling sluggish, bloated, and lazy about making food choices.

 

Enter the Whole 30! An eating program that cuts inflammatory, processed, and hormone-unbalancing food groups (like grains, dairy, artificial sugars, and alcohol) for a full 30 days. If you haven’t heard about it, check out the details here.

 

I completed my first Whole 30 in August of last year, and while it was hard at times (like anything worth going after), I felt incredible by the end of the month. In fact, by the end of my second week on the program, my energy levels were through the roof. I was running faster, lifting more weight, and once home, sleeping more peacefully. The Whole 30 creators call this energy Tiger Blood, and it’s ah-mah-zing.

 

Besides the increased energy, I love that the Whole 30 never made me feel totally deprived. (Well, except for when I had to order a water with lime when going out for drinks with friends. Let’s be real; that part sucked.) I LOVE food and cooking, and both are an essential part of who I am. The Whole 30 celebrates healthy food and allows you to enjoy tons of nourishing, homemade foodslike this brussels sprouts and bacon dish with eggs.

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2016 Resolutions & Looking Forward to the New Year

Melissa Lopez from Cook Slow Run Fast jumping for joy in anticipation of the new year 2016.

Resolutions are a funny thing. Some people wait until January 1st of each year, and in one grandiose gesture, try to change EVERYTHING about themselves, only to realize by January 15th that they really hate running like a hamster on a treadmill and that cleaning out a juicer every morning is one of the worst tasks in the world. On the other hand, some people are vehemently against anything resembling a resolution and roll their eyes at anyone who buys the January 1st gym membership.

 

I suppose I stand somewhere in the middle. I believe that we should always keep learning and growing, that to not intentionally want anything new from the upcoming 12 months is like turning your nose up to lots of awesome self-discovery, good stories, and knowledge.

 

However, I have also learned that tons of unrealistic resolutions set at the same time won’t work either, and can overshadow other important aspects of your life.

 

For me, having a successful year is about identifying how I want to feel overall and being flexible enough to let life happen and guide me where I’m supposed to be.

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Holiday Exercise Tips | How to Stay in Shape While Traveling

Whether you’re going home for the holidays, or evading the end-of-year craziness by taking off on a December getaway trip, you don’t have to give up exercising just because you’re traveling.

Cook Slow Run Fast Running Around Washington DC and standing in front of the Washington Memorial
Exploring the National Mall in Washington D.C. last winter
If you’re like me, you love to be in new places and/or visit family, but you still want to keep your fitness routine going while not near your home gym. I’m one of those people who after missing more than three two days of working out finds it extremely hard to hop back on the gym train. So fitting in workouts when I’m traveling is a must-do, especially because my travel planslike any good food loveralways include partaking in the many delicious eats and drinks of a new place and/or home.

 

Here are some of my favorite ways to workout and stay active while traveling:

 

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How to Have a Healthy Thanksgiving

Eat pie and give thanks Thanksgiving illustration

Gluten-free stuffing recipes aside, Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate and (as the name implies) give thanks. One of my favorite ways to show gratitude is by honoring my body, savoring what’s on my plate (literally and figuratively), and making happy, healthy decisions.

Below are a few great ways to savor this fall holiday and enjoy a guilt-free, feel-good Thanksgiving.

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