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Popcorn Party

The days of keggers, clubs and beer pong are officially gone and now a Friday night turn up is a popcorn party y’all!  Not only is popcorn low carb and filled with fiber, you can season it to your liking or your glass of wine.  My friend Ashley Cinq-Mars came over and we swapped our favorite flavors- two herbalicious healthy options and one treat because hey, it’s Friday! Don’t tell me you still pop popcorn in the microwave…I’ll ignore those who said yes and you can read below to see how easy it is to make a fresh, radiation free batch of popcorn.

YOU KONG POP IT

How to pop popcorn on the stove

  • Coat the bottom of a large pot with high heat oil like CANOLA or VEGETABLE OIL (3-4 tablespoons) or COCONUT OIL (2-3 tablespoons)

  • Pour a layer of popcorn kernels so it covers the bottom of the pot like the photo on the left

  • Cover the pot and place on high heat

  • Listen as the popping kernels slow and remove from heat

Vegan Turmeric Parmesan

  • Turmeric

  • Flax Oil

  • Nutritional Yeast (What’s nutritional yeast?)

  • Sea Salt and Pepper

  • Add as much of each ingredient as you’d like… the oil is key so the yeast and turmeric have something to stick to.

  • If you’ve recently had a light colored manicure, beware that turmeric will stain!  The popcorn is delicious without the turmeric as well.

Rosemary Truffle

  • Minced fresh rosemary 1-2 T and/or regular dried rosemary

  • Truffle Oil- 100% authentic truffle oil is insanely expensive and very strong tasting.  We found a truffle/olive oil blend for $15.

  • Sea Salt

  • Toss popcorn with these ingredients and enjoy.  Always start with less truffle oil and add to your liking.

White Chocolate Funfetti

  • 1 bag of white chocolate chips, spring for the good stuff!

  • Sprinkles, your favorite shape

  • To melt- Stovetop: Fill a large pot with a few inches of water. Put the chips in a smaller pot inside the larger pot with water and place them on a medium flame.  Watch and stir the chips until melted, no longer.  This will keep the chocolate from burning, which we did the first time 😉 Microwave: Place chips in microwave safe container and heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between until melted.

The Power of Protein – Tart Cherry Superfood Smoothie

Everyone is always harping on about protein intake. We know it keeps you feeling full and your muscles feeling strong, but why is that? Turns out, like all things in life it’s not that complicated.  Protein literally passes through your body (a.k.a. metabolizes) at a slower pace than fat or carbs.  This is why a protein heavy choice keeps your energy up and your cravings at bay (hopefully) longer than a gorgeous pastry or cream cheese smeared bagel.  That being said, protein is not stored in the body which is why we need to eat it on the regular– at least 0.8g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day.  I am 5’7 and 135 lbs (61.23 kilograms) which means I should eat about 49 grams of protein per day.  However, athletes and the super active should eat more.  For young women that’s 15-23 grams of protein post workout. When I am in peak shape, I’m eating 20 grams of protein per meal (60g/day).  A typical day looks like this: shake in the morning, eggs, egg whites, beans or quinoa at lunch, and chicken breast or turkey burgers for dinner.

The morning is often the most difficult time to get protein in, especially after a sweat sesh and before work.  This post-workout shake will help soothe your muscles, replenish your strength, and sustain your energy well into lunchtime with 3 key ingredients:

  • OLLY Super Foods Smoothie Mix –

    I have long embraced plant based protein over whey (dairy) which is why I love this OLLY Super Foods Smoothie.  I consider dairy a gateway drug: with cheese comes bread, with milk come cookies. OLLY protein is a blend of pea, golden chiorella and flax.  Unlike other vegan proteins like rice or soy, pea based proteins are considered “complete” meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. The Super Foods blend has two serves of fruit & veggies with 6 different super foods which is great when I’m super crunched on time I can shake it up with almond milk and run out the door.

  • Bok Choy- Chinese Cabbage

    Like broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts, bok choy is a crucifer.  Its leaves and stems are soft and fully edible. It’s great in stir fry, salads and soups, but not often forgotten when it comes to smoothies. Bok choy is high in antioxidants, vitamin K and omega-3s which help reduce muscle inflammation – key for post workout fatigued and sore muscles.

  • Tart Cherry Juice

    I’ve long heard about runners drinking tart cherry juice to expedite muscle recovery. An Oregon Health and Science study found that runners who drank tart cherry juice immediately after a run, had 23% less pain than those who didn’t.  However you’re sweating, unsweetened, 100% cherry juice is packed with antioxidants and potassium both major contributors to soothing your worn and torn muscles.

Tart Cherry Super Food Smoothie

  • 2 Bok Choy leaves and stems

  • ½ cup Tart Cherry Juice (unsweetened)

  • ½ cup Milk or Nutmilk (I used Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk )

  • 5-6 Frozen Strawberries

  • ½ Frozen Banana

  • 1 Tablespoon Almond Butter

This post is in partnership with OLLY however the views are all my own!

Wanderlust 108 Santa Monica

I wanted to share some highlights from this year’s Wanderlust 108 on Santa Monica Pier! This was my second year attending the mindful triathlon and per-usual, it did not disappoint.  The morning started with a 5K beach run followed by yoga with Chelsey Korus and meditation with Joanna Harper.  Nothing like a long day in the sun, laughing, flowing and dancing with hundreds of your closest friends.  I was excited to be outfitted in the new Adidas x Wanderlust co-branded apparel.  The strappy back made for an awesome tan line 🙂

photos: Adidas ///

You Kong Do It x MISSBISH

A few months ago I was lucky to sit down with one of my favorite lifestyle blogs, MISSBISH.  

MISSBISH:

Meagan Kong is no stranger to the world of dance but can still acknowledge that it’s never an easy job. She’s danced professionally in the worlds of entertainment and sports for years and yet still experiences pre-audition nerves and the struggle of jumping back onto the fitness grind after a hiatus. Meagan is just like the rest of us, and is living proof that hard work and determination will get you far. From dancing throughout high school as a hobby to gracing stages and TV channels worldwide, to even working with major brands like adidas, Meagan is living her own personal dream. Check out our interview with her to get peek into what it’s like to dance professionally.

 

When was the point that you decided to make dance your career and how did you prep for that?
I decided dance would be a career in Minnesota while in high school. One day I realized how much time and money my parents were putting into allowing me to dance whenever and wherever I wanted. All night after school, away on weekends, in LA during the summer. We’d save and hustle side jobs so I could train with the best. The idea that someday someone could pay ME to do what I loved was mind blowing.

I prepared by training in as many disciplines of dance as possible, even Irish soft shoe. I also went to college and graduated Cum Laude–from Loyola Marymount University–with a double major in Business Marketing and Dance. On one hand, some dancers would say it put me 4 years behind in the industry, but within those four years I matured and gained a larger perspective of the business of entertainment and the context of dance within it.

 

Putting yourself out there through dance requires a lot of confidence, what helps you to become more confident? How do you handle the stress of not always booking the jobs that you want?
It’s definitely rough. Auditions are like interviewing for a new job every week, on a megaphone, while in front of all the other applicants. This never becomes easy, but you develop defense mechanisms to help cope with the fact that despite perhaps being the best dancer in the room, maybe they aren’t looking for a tall, multiethnic, long haired woman that day. I learned to focus on the task at hand rather than fantasize about how amazing the tour, the tv show, or the award show would be. Your drive trumps the fear and speaks louder than any other voice in your head. If you lead with determination, your confidence will follow.

 

What’s a typical day in the life of a professional dancer?
A day as a dancer is completely dependent on whether or not you’re working. While on a job, you wake up, go to work, come home, eat sleep, and do it again. While not on a job you hustle. Take class and go to castings or auditions. You take care of your body and keep your tools sharp so that you’re ready when jobs pick up.

What’s your favorite style of dance and why?
I don’t have a favorite style, but I have a favorite type of job. I dance for, and assist, Emmy-winning choreographer Kathryn Burns. She’s known to work on a lot of comedic television where dancers are used to make a joke kick. For example–in the CW show Crazy Ex Girlfriend, I was in a yoga class scene doing sun salutations as a pregnant woman. The lead actress fantasized about a song and dance production and the entire class broke into a Bollywood-esque routine. It was ridiculous that I was jumping, kicking, and turning while appearing 8 months pregnant, but my job was to dance like it was perfectly normal. Dancing within the context of a script adds another layer to my performance which I love.

What has been a highlight of your career as a dancer?
Dancing on the scripted VH1 series Hit The Floor. As a dancer, it’s your job to make a singer look cooler, a product look sexier, and a joke punch harder. Hit The Floor is about a fictional LA basketball team and their cheerleaders, so us dancers were woven into the storyline. On the show I had a character name, lines, occasionally hosted, and of course danced every episode. Being principal talent and showing up to Paramount Studios to work with the same cast and crew for multiple years in a row was an absolute dream. The fact that my parents at home in Minnesota and my friends in Paris could watch gave me all the motivation I needed to kill it.

 

Any tips for young girls out there trying to get into the professional dance industry?
1. Outlast them all.

2. People don’t care about what you’re doing as much as they care about what they’re doing.

3. Remember to be adaptable – the stage, choreography, singers, and actors are always changing, our job is to make them look flawless no matter what.

 

Being an ambassador for adidas, what’s it like to work with a major sportswear company?
Insane really. It’s rare that the more involved you get with a company, the more you respect it. adidas lives what they sell and genuinely care about the strength of the female athlete. It’s a giant corporation but they project so much trust onto us ambassadors while letting me be me, say me, and do me but with their support.

Favorite sneaker by adidas?
Non-work out: White leather gazelles with gum sole
Workout: Ultraboost X

 

You’re also a worldwide recognized fitness influencer, have you always been so health conscious?
As a dancer, I grew up super active of course. It wasn’t until after college that I understood that I needed to eat right and train outside of the studio to reach my maximum potential in the studio . I was kind of a mess–Dominos accepted our University meal plan and I thought healthy was a Salandwich (a Caesar salad Sandwich). I would go to diet extremes when dance jobs or auditions popped up to whip my body into shape ASAP. I eventually got tired of constantly getting my body “ready” for something and learned to train and eat cleanly everyday so my mind and body were always prepared.

 

What are three hidden gems in LA?
1. Hollywood Reservoir
2. Palette Juice and Food
3. Raggedy Threads

What does MISSBISH mean to you?
MISSBISH represents women who own her craft and live their lives unapologetically.

Who’s your MISSBISH? Tell us who she is and why she’s an inspiration to you.
My MISSBISHes are all the ladies I meet who are finding fitness for the first time. Movement is programmed into me and even still, kicking my fitness game up after a month of LAX is rough. The MISSBISHes that find it in themselves to get up, lace up, and show up for the first time fuel me to keep on pushing.

Photos by Christina Choi

SOCCA: Chickpea Pancakes

I woke up missing the south of France! I once lived in Monaco for 4 months and would go to Nice to eat my favorite street food: SOCCA. Made from chickpea flour, socca is naturally gluten free, vegan and has a bit of protein.  Traditionally you’d eat socca plain, but I like to top it with anything I’m craving to make a pizza/crepe like meal. In the photo below I went with wilted arugula, spicy chicken sausage and sautéed onion and red peppers.

Combine and mix all ingredients well in large bowl.  Coat a hot non-stick pan with oil.  Pour 1/4 cup batter into pan and shift it around until it thinly covers the entire base of the pan evenly.  Cook for 3 min and flip-the edges should be crispy.  Drizzle with oil (I use flax) and salt and pepper.

Yields 4-5  pancakes

  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cumin

Refinery29 x Adidas Greater Every Run Event

I recently had the pleasure of hosting some runs at an event involving two of my favorite companies: Refinery29 and Adidas. It was all to continue the celebration of the release of Adidas Running’s latest shoe created specifically for the female foot- the UltraBoostX.  I’ve spent a lot of time in these shoes the past few months and I love them.  The shoe’s floating arch, boost sole and primeknit upper hug my foot like glue to keep up with my every move.

The event took place in Santa Monica, California in front of the gorgeous adidas 3rd St Promenade store.  There were 3 runs throughout the day- 1 and 2 miles led by Remi Ishizuka and myself and a 3 mile led by my girls Diana Mireles and Mellie Cay.  These three ladies have been at my side since I started sharing my fitness journey last year so this was an especially exciting combination of women 🙂

Throughout the day there were insane performances by treadmill dancers who were once on America’s Got Talent.  As a professional dancer, I tip my hats to those ladies turning, leaping and jumping all while in perfect unison on a moving belt!  Juice Served Here poured delicious runner themed pressed juices and attendees were able to try on the Ultra Boost X and enter a raffle for an Adidas gift card.  Adidas swag, Rx bars and tunes from DJ Lola Langusta kept the energy flowing all afternoon.

Despite the classic ocean-fogged weather, I met SO many new faces full of energy, eager to become #GreaterEveryRun.  Thank you to Adidas Running and Refinery 29 for having me be apart of such an inspiring afternoon and thank you to all of my friends new and old for coming out!

Almond Butter Berry Bowl

In my last blog entry I discuss some brain boosting foods that help you focus fast and sustain your energy throughout the day.

Here is my absolute favorite food for thought, an Almond Butter Berry Bowl.  I originally created this bowl for an article on SimonSAID, but am so obsessed with it I had to share it here.  Unpeel and freeze bananas in a plastic bag or Tupperware in advance. Using frozen opposed to fresh banana and berries will create the thick, satisfying smoothie bowl you are hoping for. Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.  My favorite post workout meal to date!

 

  • 1 Cup Frozen Mixed Berries

  • 1/2 Frozen Banana (I always keep peeled and bananas in a Ziplock in my freezer!)

  • 1 Scoop Protein Powder

  • 1 T Almond Butter

  • 1 T Chia Seeds

  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond milk (1/2 cup for even thicker bowls)

  • Top with your favorite brain foods— I used dark chocolate, blueberries, whole grain granola and shredded coconut.

Photos by Nikki Dalonzo

Wardrobe and kitchen accessories from Simon Malls 

Brain Boosting Foods to Help You Focus

These days your mind is at a constant tug of war with so many worlds. While you can’t tell the world to stop spinning, you can take control by feeding your brain with the nutrients it craves. Using food as fuel you can funnel your focus, harness a sense of control and turn your mind into an ally.  While a venti triple dirty chai sounds like the perfect pick me up to focus fast, you risk a heavy crash. Whether for a meal or on the go, nutrient dense foods with a balance of healthy fats, carbohydrates and protein will sustain your energy level when you need it most.

In creating this balance, there are certain foods you can incorporate that contain especially powerful brain boosting properties:

  • Berries

    Flavonoids are an important component of berries. Not only do the flavonoids give the berries their gorgeous color, they feed the hippocampus which is the portion of your brain responsible for memory and learning. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power helps your blood flow through your body and to your brain without inhibition.

  • Dark Chocolate

    Like coffee, dark chocolate is a natural stimulant but has a fraction of the caffeine so you can get a boost, but avoid the crash. 1 ounce of dark chocolate (5-6 squares) contains ¼ of the caffeine in an 8 ounce cup of coffee. Like berries, dark chocolate contains flavonols and antioxidants which can do the work so your attention span doesn’t have to.

  • Probiotic Foods

    Probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir and kimchee help balance the bacteria in your gut referred to as your gut microbiome. “The key to optimizing our cognitive and physical health lies in the health of our gut. When we feed our gut a healthy diet we are truly fueling maximum health,” explains Bruce Lowell MD of Lowell Metabolics.

  • Leafy Greens.

    The benefit of eating your greens is no new news but, recent studies link the consumption of 2 cups of greens per day with a lower level of cognitive decline*. Greens such as spinach, kale and swiss chard are loaded with Vitamin A, and folic acid which has been shown to improve mental clarity.

  • Nuts and Seeds

    Nuts and seeds are especially high in good fat and vitamin E. Both properties help keep your heart healthy and brain functioning properly, increasing focus and concentration.

  • Click here for my favorite food for thought… an almond butter berry smoothie bowl!

Photos by Nikki Dalonzo 

Wardrobe and kitchenware provides by Simon Malls 

BodyBoss Method 12 Week Fitness Guide Review

I am lucky enough to try new workouts on the regular. Some are trendy, shiny and gimmicky… others like BodyBoss Method, let the work do the talking.  It’s a straight forward, 12 week fitness guide that uses High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) as the basis to reshaping your body.

BodyBoss  explains, “The HIIT technique involves repeated bursts of brief, intense anaerobic exercise performed at maximum effort, alternated with short periods of recovery.”   BodyBoss HIIT days consist of 7-8 exercises done for 7-8 minutes and repeated for 3 rounds.  This is a total workout time of 24 minutes.  When you complete your workout, you continue to burn calories as your body recovers.  This is called afterburn or the #BossEffect.

A typical week with BodyBoss looks like this:

Monday

Your workout week begins with Legs and Booty HIIT.

My favorite BodyBoss Leg and Booty exercise is the squat with side kick.  You kill two birds with one stone lifting your ass while kicking out your aggression.

With your feet slightly wider than shoulder distance apart, do a squat without letting your knees go beyond your toes.  Try to lower yourself back until your thighs are parallel to the ground.

Dig your heels into the ground and press back to vertical, shifting your weight to your left leg.  Kick your right foot as if you’re busting through a doorway with your heel.  Return to squat and repeat.

Tuesday

Tuesdays are about keeping the train in motion with some light exercise.  The BodyBoss schedule reads my body’s mind and creates peaks and valleys in the week so you don’t get burned out.  Bike, swim, go for a walk or take yoga.

Wednesday

Arms, Abs and Core  HIIT days are Wednesday.  I find that working my core always re-energizes my body so hump day is the perfect day for this session.    I love V Sit Ups because they’re simple and there are so many variations to challenge yourself.

Start on your back with your feet and shoulders hovering above the ground,

Exhale while you engage your ab wall to lift your upper body towards your lower body.  You can keep your legs bent, straight or even twist to either side to work your obliques.

Thursday

Thursdays are for Cardio.   I use these days as opportunities to make a fit date.  Running, hiking, cycling and group classes are always more fun with with partner.

Friday

Fridays are the big finale.  Total Body HIIT days.  These days you rotate between only 4 exercises that usually correlate with what you did on Monday and Wednesday.  These days usually require less reps but more energy and explosiveness from you.  The BodyBoss book says, “Think of it as your Friday super power session!”

My favorite BossBody exercise for Full Body days is the Aeroplane Push Up.  A plank alone is a great way to engaged your full body, but with a twist and push up added on you’ll be the best kind of dead by rep 12.

From plank position, lower your upper body towards the ground.

Push your arms straight and shift your body weight onto your right hand.  Lift your left elbow towards the sky, opening your body outward.

Extend your arm and focus to the sky to form a straight line.  Return to starting position and repeat on the left.

My thoughts on BodyBoss

  • Amazing for Beginners. This book teaches you how to work out.  Not only does it tell you what to do, it tells you how to do it.  The back of the book has a full glossary of how to do the most basic to advanced moves.  For someone just beginning their fitness journey who may never have done a squat in their life, they have a 4 week pre-training program to ease you into the motion before fully committing to the 12 week plan.

  • Amazing for hardcore fitness fanatics.  There is an option to increase the intensity of every exercise in the book.  Adding weights, ankle weights, stairs etc, takes each exercise to the next level.

  • BodyBoss budgets time for stretching. I also love that the book budgets time within the workout for stretching.  Long, lean bodies are created by working the muscle then stretching it.  Even as a dancer, I take stretching for granted.  The Body Boss stretches are simple, but seeing them on the page makes stretching before and after your workout a no brainer.

  • Option to pick and choose. BodyBoss is effective whether or not you are following their 12 week plan.  I love to workout at home or while I travel, but I often spend just as much time thinking of exercises as I spend actually doing them.  The Body Boss book gives me a roadmap for my workout, wherever I am in the world.

  • You can travel with it.  Many people skip workouts when they travel because they are away from their local fitness classes, regular running routes, or usual gym equipment.  BodyBoss HIIT days require nothing else but the book.  I like to take photos of the pages  I’ll need while away so all I don’t need to pack anything extra at all!

  • Supplement my group class addiction.  I love group classes with a passion because you show up, do what you’re told and leave in complete exhaustion.  ClassPass has recently limited us to 10 classes per month which is not nearly enough. I supplement these group classes with BodyBoss sessions.

  • -20% CODE: MEAGANBB

    Good through May 2017 via link above.  I make no profit on this, but let me know if you purchase and try!

REFORMING MY RUN

I started running recreationally about four years ago.   I laced up, plugged in and worked up a sweat giving little thought to form or function.  This approach to running contrasts to my life as a dancer.  Over the years I have been taught to be aware of what every inch of my body is doing and why.   I have memories of repeating the same movement over and over until it became second nature.  I would never claim to be a perfect dancer, but I do take pride in being an aware dancer.  In January I started to share my workout life online via photos on Instagram, this blog and through my ambassadorship with Adidas Running.  I’ve continued upon my run-to-feel-good ways until I scrolled upon this sponsored ad of me to the right.   Comments read “yikes, that heel strike tho,” and “her hips are gonna be hurting with that stride”.  ……GASP….STOP THE PRESSES… WHAT’S A HEEL STRIKE?  SEND HELP. I will NOT be the Kendall Jenner of running.

Meet Jessie Zapo (@jessiezapo).  Jessie and I met in January at the Adidas PureBOOSTx launch in Santa Monica.  Over the span of seven years Jessie has carved a space for women and new runners in the NYC urban running community.  Named “the first lady of running,” Jessie created and produced programs for organizations like Bridgerunners, The Black Roses NYC and Girls Run NYC.  During a recent trip to New York I was lucky enough to have some one on one sessions with Jessie that opened my eyes and rocked my running world.

Run Revelations

EFFICIENCY

My first revelation on form was understanding how it’s systematically inefficient to lead with your heel.  I used to think that a longer stride was created by reaching my foot/heel further and further in front of me.  My run was low and heavy but my stride was long so I never thought there was a problem.

A stride that leads with your heel (heel strike) involves 4 steps per stride, while a mid foot strike only involves 3:

KNEE

MID FOOT TO GROUND

KICK BACK

      Heel Strike Stride:

  1. KNEE LIFTS
  2. HEEL TO GROUND CONTACT
  3. MID FOOT CONTACT
  4. KICK BACK

       Mid Foot Strike Stride:

  1. KNEE LIFTS
  2. MID FOOT TO GROUNT CONTACT
  3. KICK BACK

HIGH KNEES 

A correct stride is initiated by the knee.   The force of your knee lifting into air sends your body upward and propels forward into your next stride.  Your foot never reaches in front of the knee that’s lifted- it hits the ground directly underneath.

Jessie sent me this video from Competitor Magazine to help understand this concept.

FLEXED FOOT

In dance class I was always taught to jump off the ground heel, ball, toe and land toe, ball, heel to absorb gravity and protect my joints.  This is not the case when you run. Though you will naturally run in this sequence, emphasizing the toe ball heel landing will slow you down.  Lifting your knee with a flexed foot, positions your foot to land directly on the ball when you put it down underneath you.  Your heel will follow.

EMPHASIS

Before our lessons, my run felt heavy.  I put emphasis down/into the ground with every stride.  Jesse encouraged me to think of the action as UP.    Your foot is pushing off the ground rather than hitting the ground with every stride.  Thinking “UP UP UP” immediately made my run lighter and stride longer.  More time in the air gave me more time to propel forward and run faster.

JESSIE’S FORM CUES

  • Eyes up

  • Head up

  • Knees up

  • Shoulders relaxed

  • Neutral spine & pelvis

Photos by Melissa Holtz (@melisinestudio)