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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 ///

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!

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)

Headphone Review: Sudio Sweden

I recently received a gorgeous pair of Sudio VASA Blå wireless headphones from my friends at Sudio Sweden.  At first glance, these headphones are absolutely stunning.  After living with them for the last couple of weeks, here’s my review.

  • Pro: Swedish design is stunning.  Each pair comes with a chic matching leather pouch and rose gold clip to store and secure the headphones.
  • Pro: The sound is great, even my musician boyfriend approves.  Sudio explains the headphones have a “tuned driver and amplifier. The combination of driver and amplifier is able to separate the sound of every instrument in every song, thereby giving the listener a true studio experience.”
  • Pro: Bluetooth/wireless aspect helps streamline my everyday activities.  City walks and airplane rides are less of a mess and I don’t have to make sure my phone is within wire’s distance away.

  • Pro:  The headphones are super light, I forget I’m wearing them.  Sudio claims they are the lightest on the market thus far weighing 14g.
  • Con:  Despite trying all four ear bud sizes that come with the headphones, they fall out when I jog, dance or workout.  This was major for me as I continue my search for a pair of headphones that not only look and sound amazing, but stays secure even with extreme physical activity.

Overall, these headphones are chic and fantastic for all activities except working out.

Check out Sudio Sweden here. Enter discount code “YouKongDoIt” for 15% OFF. 

Adidas Running in MONTAUK

Adidas does it big. Pure Boost X was launched earlier this year and I was lucky to participate in the shoe’s epic three day launch in Santa Monica, CA.  Recently, Adidas Running continued the Pure Boost party but this time in Montauk, NY.  For those who are unfamiliar,  Montauk was once a quiet fishing town past the Hamptons on Long Island, and is now THE summer getaway place to both escape and be seen. The event started with a bang as we boarded three helicopters from NYC to MTK.  One hour later we were at Gurney’s Resort.  We went through hair and makeup glam, picked out our outfits for the weekend, and got the new Pure Boost X.  The two days centered around what adidas Women always stresses- being strong in every sense of the word. We trained- ran in the rain, took a Barre 3 class, examined our gaits and took SUP paddle board yoga.  We also spoke with 3 time Olympian Jennifer Rhines and Barre 3 founder Sadie Lincoln on building our own empires, finding balance and doing it all with positive energy.    The video and photo library below represent it well.  Thank you adidas Running for another epic event.

EAT BETTER

Motivated by MaraNatha

Let me fess up to a few neurotic habits I’ve committed to while I was on a health kick — Preparing all my food without oil or salt.  Bringing my own meals to parties.  Eliminating fruit except apples and berries.  Counting my almonds.  I was borderline insane and 100% not living life. Eating food that is delicious and more importantly satisfying around the clock is what keeps my on track today.  Nut butters give you that fatty satisfaction and protein to keep you full.  I am thrilled to partner  with Mara Natha to share how nut butters are easy to travel with, quick to fill you up and satisfy both your sweet and savory cravings.  Here are my favorite MaraNatha recipes that keep me motivated throughout the day.

Almond Swirl Overnight Oats

Most mornings I barley have time to brush my hair and let’s be honest,  a lot of these healthy breakfast bowls and smoothies require so many dang ingredients it’s just too much to think about while running out the door.  My go to for a busy week is throwing together a couple jars of almond butter swirl overnight oats on a Sunday night.  You can add fruit, jam, chocolate, protein powder, the list goes on  make them but here are the basics, no measuring involved!

  • Spoon MaraNatha almond butter blobs into jar

  • Fill HALF the jar with oats (I mix steel cut oats and rolled oats for a variety in texture)

  • Sprinkle a some chia seeds and cinnamon on top of oats

  • Drizzle some maple syrup or favorite sweetener

  • Fill the jar with your favorite milk (I use almond)

  • Screw lid tight and shake to mix oats and swirl almond butter

  • Refrigerate a few hours or overnight

Snack Attacks

Cinnamon Almond Butter Dip 

I’m sure I’m not the only one who likes to eat nut butter by the spoonful and dip anything from apples to pretzels to fig newtons right into the jar.  To slow my roll on polishing off an entire jar in one sitting I mix coconut milk (thicker dip) or almond milk (thinner dip).

Blend 1 part milk of choice to 1 part MaraNatha almond butter + cinnamon ( + sweetener as you’d like ).  The photo was 1/4 cup almond butter and 1/4 cup coconut milk (from the can)

10 Second Energy Bites 

Easier than making powerballs and cleaner than eating a packaged protein bar, these energy bites take 10 seconds tops to throw together.  In a pinch or before I work out I grab a pitted date, smear some MaraNatha almond butter on it and sprinkle bee pollen on top.  The date gives you the natural sugar, almond butter protein and fat, and bee pollen for B vitamins!

Almond Tahini Pad Thai

After a long day, these is a recipe for me to look forward to – Here is a fresh twist on Pad Thai.  In these photos I used brown rice Pad Thai noodles, but I’ve also made the dish with kelp noodles, zucchini noodles, and a no noodle version served on top of brown rice.  It’s really about the almond tahini sauce- make it as thin or thick as you want by varying the amount of water you add.  Also, feel free to add less spice, but do make up for it by adding soy sauce or else your Pad Thai will reside in bland land 🙂

PREP

  • Make the sauce

    • 1/4 cup MaraNatha almond butter (crunchy or smooth)
    • 3 tsp Sriracha
    • 1 T Tahini
    • 1 tsp ginger – either graded fresh or I use a jarred for convenience
    • 3/4 cup water
  • Boil a pot of water for your brown rice pad Thai noodles, rice or any other grain.  Prepare as advised on packaging.

  • Slice your favorite veggies so they’re similar in size – I used spiralized zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli and broccoli slaw.

COOK

  • Heat vegetable oil or coconut oil and 1 clove of garlic minced.  Sautee veggies until soft.

  • Add protein and noodles to cooked veggies.  To save time, I buy a rotisserie chicken (no salt option is best), shred the meat.  For a vegetarian/vegan version, add cubed tofu.

FINISH

  • Remove from heat and add sauce, stir

  • Top with the juice from 1/2 to 1 whole lime, slivered almonds and cilantro

Photos by Nikki Dalonzo 

This blog was sponsored by MaraNatha Foods but the views are all my own 🙂

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!

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

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 

Savory Steel Cut Oats

It’s a chewy nutty bowl of fall comfort.  I am loving changing up my normal breakfast routine with these savory oats.   Anything goes, especially when you dress the final product with flax oil to tie it all together.  I keep it dairy free by use nutritional yeast, but I imagine it being next level with cheddar cheese!  Enjoy.

  • Bring 1 cup of water to a boil

  • Add 1/2 cup of Steel Cut Oats and pinch of salt.  Lower heat to simmer for 5 minutes until water is absorbed.  Stir every minute.

  • Stir in desired amount of  Nutritional Yeast (I added 1 T) or Cheddar Cheese for dairy eaters.

  • In a separate pan, sauté kale with olive oil.  I like to let the kale rest in the pan while on high heat so it chars 🙂

  • Fry an egg, scoop and avocado, throw it all in a bowl.

  • Drizzle with Flax Oil.  This ties the elements together and adds a delicious nutty flavor.  Flax oil is packed with good omegas and fiber.

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

FEEL GOOD

Drive Your Life #DriveVolvo

Yes- looking forward, thinking bigger, and creating the fruitful and fulfilling life I want to live is at the center of my mission.  I don’t believe in dwelling on the past, but even more so I don’t believe in forgetting it.  I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I moved to California and went to Loyola Marymount University and have lived in LA ever since.  I attended a fancy private school with a fancy tuition to match, but none of my core college friends had their lives handed to them. We worked the mailroom, ran event centers, taught dance classes and drove the school shuttle a.k.a. Lion Express. We shared rooms with twin beds (even after we graduated) and of course took on the dreaded student loan debt that continues to haunt most of us today.

Over Memorial Day weekend the gang got back together.  We united in NYC and took a trip up the east coast to celebrate one of our bests get married in Maine.  It didn’t take long to realize how far we had come in 8 years.  My friend Taylor is his own fashion empire- creative directing, styling even photographing campaigns we see everyday.  Kelly runs a designer eyewear label, Jessica represents the most working choreographers, Jacqui just opened Maine’s favorite artisanal ice cream shop and Ashley runs a high school department and is our first mom of the bunch!  My two majors (dance and business) have actually become my career- I’ve danced for my favorite pop stars, in my favorite TV shows, have a fitness lifestyle blog and create content for the brands I grew up loving.  As we live our lives day in and day out, we get lost in what we haven’t accomplished and neglect to take a moment and realized what we have.  We all agreed we want more, but recognized that we have all come so far on our own, never hesitating to ask each other for help along the way. If you can’t come up with your friends, what’s the point?  Your success is measured by the success of those who surround you.

As we drove from Manhattan to Maine in the gorgeous 2017 Volvo S90 sedan, we realized it’s a symbol of how far we’ve come.  Outdoor noise muted, music crystal clear and wifi flowing to pull up all of our favorite memories along the way.  The smooth ride allowed us to stay the course and focus on us.  Thank you Volvo for perfectly accessorizing our coming of age reunion.

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.

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

Don’t Sweat the Stress

While unplugging and disconnecting are many people’s go to answer to de-stressing, these days this isn’t always possible.    Online, offline, at home, at work, in the gym, on the road… Stress is inevitable.  As a professional dancer, I’m hyper aware of the fact that a stressed mind a stressed body go hand and hand.

Here are my methods to control the madness and cut the stress.

Tools of Torture.

Mental stress creeps down to my neck and shoulders first, then makes its way down to my mid and lower back.  I keep a bucket of stress relieving fun next to my couch to pick up whenever I have a spare moment.  Trigger points (knots) develop in your muscle tissues from physical, metal or emotional stress.  I use a TheraCane or lie on tennis balls to massage these spots and increase blood flow.  I like to use Rescue Cream on problem areas to moisturize my skin and relax my muscles as I iron out the tension.

Floatation Therapy.

Sitting still and taking 5 deep breathes helps me relax, but when I have time I like to float.  Floatation therapy (sensory deprivation) is gaining popularity among professional athletes and those looking for complete and utter relaxation.  In your hour long session, you float in a pool of water filled with 10K lbs of epson salt.  This pool is enclosed in a pod or room that blocks all light and sound.  Without distraction, you increase relaxation, creativity and clarity while decreasing stress and mind clutter.  Note that the first time I floated, I was a mess.  I was anxious I was doing it wrong and stressing about not de-stressing.  It takes several times to achieve a peaceful Theta state of relaxation.

Aerial Yoga.

While any form of yoga or stretching helps me relax, aerial yoga really changes the game for me.  In an aerial yoga class, you use a silk hammock to maneuver yourself into positions that suspend your body in the air and allow you to hang freely.   There is a tourniquet effect created by wrapping the hammock around your limbs.  Though uncomfortable in the moment, when you dismount the pose, fresh blood travels around your body and through your joints.   This gives you an adrenaline rush and releases “happy” hormones like endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.  All this boosts your mood and makes you feel more energetic, happy and stress free.

Herbal Supplements.

Sometimes it’s hard to pop into a deprivation chamber between meetings and unfortunately, the TheraCane doesn’t fit in my purse.   My portable means of relaxation are herbal supplements like products from Rescue.  Rescue Remedy is made of 5 of Bach’s flower remedies: Rock Rose, Impatiens, Clematis, Start of Bethlehem and Cherry Plum.  I reach for an Elderberry Pastille (hard little gummies) to chill out during Los Angeles traffic from hell, to help focus at an audition or while learning choreography.  I pack the dropper in my yoga bag and add a few drops of Rescue to my water bottle to enhance my relaxation and deepen my practice throughout class.  The Rescue Plus Sleep gummies with melatonin have been key while I travel and adjust to sleeping in new places in new times zones.

This post was sponsored by Rescue, who was kind enough to send me some of their products earlier this year.  I’ve since been able to find them at Whole Foods here in Los Angeles.

Click here to find Rescue near you.

#FINDFOCUS

Adidas recently launched Adidas Athletics and its Z.N.E. line to help you #findfocus off the court or at the start line.  This structured hoodie is thick.  It keeps me warm and muffles the noise with the hood on.   The pants are super stretchy and are loose enough to wear tights or shorts underneath.  I’m a fan of this concept and this line, can’t wait to see more.  I’m wear a small top, bra and pant. Links below.

Hoodie: Adidas Athletics Z.N.E. Hoodie – White

Pants: Adidas Athletics Z.N.E. Pants – White 

Bra: Adidas Women Techfit Bra – White

Shoes: Adidas Running UltraBoost – All White

PHOTOS BY JA TECSON 

Skin Care with Emmy nominated Sarah Hall

Sarah Hall is my girl on so many levels.  I met her while working on VH1 television show Hit The Floor where us 11 dancers were forced to draw straws to decide who got to sit in her makeup chair.  For some perspective- 12 year old boy with severe acne would come out of Sarah’s makeup chair looking like Kim K on a good day.   This Emmy nominated make-up artist is not only a former model, she has a bachelors in Biology, is a certified Nutritional Biochemist and Esthetician, and is also a wife and mother of two insanely beautiful children.  Sarah is my go to on any skin question- what ingredients are good/bad in my products? what make up is ok to sweat in?  will washing my face before AND after my workout dry it out?  how do I get the mountain range on my forehead to flatten by tomorrow?

The number one habit Sarah pushes whether it be about my face or my body— you must exfoliate! “[Exfoliating will] enable the skin to generate new skin cells and open up the surface to allow oils to penetrate and increase nourishment,” Sarah explains.  This makes so much sense- We spend so much money on fancy products, but debris aka dead skin can actually block their effectiveness.  Exfoliating my face twice weekly and body once has made all of the difference.  My skin shines brighter and any eczema flair ups settle quickly.

Sarah created Restoration Skincare and explains, “I believe in eating clean and not putting anything on my body that I wouldn’t put in my mouth. I like to feed my skin vitamins and nutrients to promote a healthy status and balance inside and out.”  Though I love her Hydrating Mist and deodorant dispensed Body Butter Balm, the Sugar Body Scrub is definitely my favorite.  I’m in awe of the simple ingredients: coco butter, coconut oil, raw sugar and vitamin E.   I’ve noticed that after I use the scrub and pat dry, the coconut oil and cocoa butter subtly remains on my skin to moisturize it without feeling oily.

Sarah recently hosted a Restoration Skin event at Soule Spa.  This Sunday Spa Day was equipped with a brow bar, oxygen facials, shoulder massages, and hand treatments.  Naturally, I kicked off the event with a glass of rose accompanied by a plate of brie and brownies.  I experienced a brow revolution with Candy who pointed out that my left brow was round and sloped downwards compared to my perky and pointy right brow.  She evened me out and taught me how to fill my brows in to lift my face (tail end to center, then define the inside corner point).  Candy used Restoration’s lavender hydration spray on a Q-tip to calm my freshly waxed skin which I loved because other calming oils and creams make me break out.  Sarah gave me a hand treatment with her Brown Sugar Scrub which I was already sold on and my garden shoulder massage was heaven accompanied by Restoration clove body butter.  I went home with a mini lavender hydrating spray and roll on body butter which will keep my skin fresh and dewing during a month of heavy travels.

MEAGAN KONG

Hi guys! I’m Meagan.  I am a professional dancer based in Los Angeles, by way of Minneapolis.  Using my body for a living is both a blessing and a curse.  It’s great because I get to be active and live out a childhood dream.  It sucks because I never know when I’ll get the call that I booked the job, dancing in a white bikini, on television, for example.  *Actually happened

In situations like this, I used to call 911 and do quick fix crash diets, take water pills, weigh my food, do insane three a day workouts or hot yoga challenges to get it together stat.  Problem is, I would end up looking like a raisin and having no energy to do the job I was hired for.

I consider these hardcore yo-yo diet and exercise years, research.  I’ve learned what aspects of each extreme method my body and brain respond to.  I’ve taken these bits of information and wove them into a manageable way of living.  I am here to share what I eat and how I move so maybe #youkongdoit too.

click here for my DANCE website