How I Spent My Blogcation: California Edition

I hope you all had a great week.  I can’t even tell you how strange it felt to not be checking in much over the past week, but I truthfully had so much going on that there just wasn’t time to blog.  So how was I filling my time??

I Jetsetted to California!

Last Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early and headed to Southern California!  I had my annual work trip to Orange County last week and added a few days of fun and sun onto the trip.  And, I got to spend time with this girl!

Crystal and Kelly | No Thanks to Cake

Crystal and I have known each other for years now.  Former co-workers and great friends, I definitely don’t feel like I get to see this girl nearly enough!

This trip was especially lovely in that I got to meet Crystal’s family (who I’ve heard about for years!) and visit her home… She lives in Temecula, right in the middle of wine country.  The timing for the visit was perfect in that we got to enjoy the Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival.

Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival | No Thanks to Cake

Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival | No Thanks to Cake

And, we drank a LOT of wine.  WAY too much wine.  And, don’t be surprised that I couldn’t keep up with the locals.

Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival | No Thanks to Cake

Before heading to Orange County the next day, Crystal and I hit her local gym, where I enjoyed the most amazing yoga class.

Yoga in Temecula | No Thanks to Cake

Before leaving Temecula, we visited one of the beautiful wineries in the area:  Leoness Cellars.  We packed up a little lunch and headed over there to enjoy a glass of white wine on the terrace… delicious!

Leoness Cellars | No Thanks to Cake

Afterward, Crystal was nice enough to drive me up to Orange County where I met up with the lovely Janelle.  Traffic in SoCal was insane, so we ended up meeting up in San Juan Capistrano.  What an adorable little “old town” area!  We had a wonderful dinner visiting and catching up at Guapas Tapas – - Check out the gazpacho cucumber cups below!  Amazing!!

San Juan Capistrano | No Thanks to Cake

I wrapped up the week in Orange County with co-workers.  Long days of learning and networking, I learned a lot and was exhausted by the time I came home late on Wednesday night.

And this is just the beginning of the week!  

Have you been to Temecula Wine Country or beautiful San Juan Capistrano?

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Girls Getaway in the Mountains

March 2nd marked my SEVEN year anniversary of living in Colorado… and for those of you in Tennessee, can you believe it??  It seems like just yesterday that I packed up all my essentials and moved across country!  Seven years later, I am so happy I made the decision to move!

Now, even though I’ve lived here for that long… I finally did something that is VERY Colorado for the first time.

I finally went to the mountains in the winter!

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

Now, I’ve spent a bit of time up in the high country during the summer… but I’m not a skier or snowboarder, and I’m not the best driver in the snow and ice… so I never quite made it up there until this weekend!

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

When Kristen invited a group of girls to her dad’s condo in Winter Park, I couldn’t resist joining in!  I met Kristen through my friend Tiffany, and I just love her positive spirit!  She’s a native Colorado girl… so who better to serve as tour guide to this Southerner’s first trip up!

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

We ended up being a party of 4 – Kristen, Tiffany, and Ashley (who I just met for the first time this weekend!)

Girls' Weekend | No Thanks to Cake

We drove up to Winter Park on Saturday morning.  After unloading our stuff in the condo, we headed to The Village for lunch.  Kristen introduced us to our first ride on a people mover.  It is sort of like a lift, yet just moves you from parking lot to the village.

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

While there are Cheeky Monk locations in Denver, I had never been and we were all craving a hot meal on such a cold, cold day, especially after the windy ride in the people mover!  I settled on a Blackened Chicken Pita Wrap with a salad instead of fries.  So good!!!

Cheeky Monk Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

Afterward, we walked around the Village popping into souvenir shops and visiting along the way.  The snow was coming down, but we didn’t let that slow us down!

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

We initially had great aspirations of going snowshoeing and playing in the snow, but when we were done with lunch and shopping, all we really wanted to do was head back to the condo and curl up on the leather couches in front of the fireplace.

This was my view for the next few hours… curled up under a down blanket.  We watched a movie, and some of us (me) took a nap.

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

Later that night, Kristen took us to her favorite pizza place for dinner – Hernando’s.  Such a fun little place with great pizza!  It’s been a while since I had real-deal pizza… so good!

Hernandos Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

Afterward, we went back to the condo, back to the fireplace, and opened a bottle of wine.  We snacked on green velvet angel food cake, and we found a fun game to play in the condo.  Have you ever played Table Topics?

Table Topics | No Thanks to Cake

It’s supposed to be a conversation starter, but we had so many fun answering questions that we did this for hours!  Here are some examples of what questions in the box look like.

Table Topics | No Thanks to Cake

It was so fun getting to know these girls better and JUST RELAXING a little on a Saturday night.  What a great way to re-energize after a huge work week!

Winter Park | No Thanks to Cake

We ended up grabbing a quick breakfast and heading home in the morning, so as to avoid crazy ski traffic.  Overall, I had a blast… and I know a little more what to expect next time I’m up there.  It also makes me want to spend more time up in the mountains and to see more beautiful places like this!

Thanks, Kristen, Tiffany, and Ashley, for a wonderful weekend… I look forward to spending time with you guys again very soon!  xoxo

Have you ever spent the weekend in the mountains?  What’s your favorite thing to do while there?

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Overcoming an Occupational Weight Loss Hazard

As of the first of the year, I got sorta-kinda-but-not-really-yet-in-a-way promoted.  My company did a reorganization of my department, and while my paycheck still looks the same, I took on a whole heck of a lot more responsibility and stress.

Nearly two months in, I’m sort of regaining my stride (sort of), but something new has popped up that is so crazy.

I’m entertaining customers over meals on most days!  Last week alone, I had three meals at fabulous restaurants in town (Denver folks:  The Rio, Pappadeaux, and Jason’s Deli.)  Now, the foodie in me gets excited, but that girl who just re-committed to weight loss freaks out a little…

All I REALLY want to do is to be left alone to my Jenny lunches and my pre-planned snacks.  That would be so much easier… but I can’t really take my food to the restaurant and not eating with the client would be just plain awkward.

So, I’ve been learning to work with it… and I thought I’d share a few tips I’m come up with.

Dining Out Tips | No Thanks to Cake
Check out the Menu Ahead of Time

I am notorious for this.  When I get an invite to dinner/lunch, I always go online and see what the options look like.  Most chain restaurants will even have a nutrition guide posted, which I’ll reference when making my choices.

I can always find SOMETHING to eat.

Also, the trick about reviewing the menu and choosing your meal ahead of time is that you will not get distracted by the menu when it’s crunch time.  For me, I also walk into the restaurant completely confident about what I’m eating and that I’m staying on track… which assures I’m going to enjoy my night.

Don’t be Afraid to Customize Your Meal

I used to be a little hesitant to ask for special requests with my meals.  I never like to draw attention to my strange order, but at this point… I just don’t care anymore.  I like my food my way (after all, I’m Sally Albright), and there are so many people that are ordering even stranger meals than I do…

Be clear and specific about what you want.  Break it down for the server clearly, and thank them profusely for building your salad just the way you want it.

Example of a recent order:  At Pappadeaux this week, I ordered the Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken (no breading), instead of fried, no cheese, no croutons, no bacon, no egg.  Add extra tomatoes and cucumbers, with a light vinaigrette on the side.  The server didn’t even flinch, and the order came out perfectly…

NTTC Bonus Tip:  Scan the other salads for extra veggies you want to add to your salad.  I always do this!

Pre-Party with Your Own Appetizer

Load up on a healthy snack before you head to your event.  Most times, I choose vegetables because they’re incredibly filling and low-calorie.  Example:  Here is the snack I ate before I went to a work dinner this week.

Dining Out Tips from NTTC | No Thanks to Cake

These vegetables with my Roasted Red Pepper Dip filled me up nicely before I arrived at the restaurant.  This helped me to ignore the bread on the table and to say “No Thanks” to the appetizers that were passed around the table. #NTTA

Plan for an On-Track Day for All Your Other Meals

You may have one meal that is a little in-flux, but the remaining two and all the snacks you eat throughout the day should be on point.  I find this easy to do by using my Jenny foods.  I’ll write down exactly what I intend to eat for the planned meals, and then pick my restaurant choice based upon balancing out the rest of my day.  Example:  If my day is carb heavy, maybe that meal out needs to be carb-free.

Regardless, make a plan for the entire day… and stick to it!

Watch Your Liquid Calories

With socializing, there is often alcohol present.  As you talk and laugh throughout the night, you may lose count of how many glasses of wine you have or mixed drinks you down.  Set a target for what you will consume while you’re out before you walk into the restaurant.  Maybe it’s one glass of wine, and if so, consider pairing it with your meal for the most enjoyment.

Wine

Wet your whistle the remainder of the night with water, and lots of it.  This will help you stay hydrated, avoid ordering more vodka, and keep you satisfied.

Enjoy Your Time

Your friends, family, and co-worker want to visit with you and enjoy time with you.  They are not watching what you are eating like you are.  Relax, create your plan, and enjoy your night.

What other tips do you have for staying on track while dining out?

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A Weekend of Food, Friends, and Fun

My weekend was INCREDIBLY BUSY.  The kind of weekend where you blink, and you missed it.  And, I even took an extra day off…

Because who really wants to work on her birthday?

Not this girl!

Friday morning, I woke up without an alarm (best birthday gift ever!) and had a light agenda planned for how I wanted to spend the day of my birth.

First and foremost, I jumped on the scale to see how my week had gone. I felt pretty good about the week, and the scale confirmed with with a -1.3 lb weight loss – - Happy Birthday to Me!!!

After giving my scale a hug… I got ready for the day’s events!  I scheduled time to get a super-relaxing massage and facial with my very favorite aesthetician Sam.  (Note to my Denver peeps:  If you are looking for a masseuse, she is AMAZING and one of the most lovely people I know.)

Spa | No Thanks to Cake

The massage was JUST what the doctor ordered.  My job changed as of the first of the year, and I’ve been carrying a lot of stress in my back and on my mind.  This 90-minute disconnect is just what the doctor ordered.

After the massage, the only thing on my agenda was to go home and get ready for my birthday dinner.  I always choose Indian food on my birthday because it’s just so amazing!

Indian Food | No Thanks to Cake

I’ve decided it JUST might be my favorite cuisine because each bite has so much amazing flavor.  I’ve you never tried it… you seriously should!  My friend Tiffany was game to join me and ended up being a huge fan of the flavors.

Tiffany and Kelly | No Thanks to Cake

My second birthday celebration was Saturday night at a little Asian restaurant close by.  I always feel great about the food at this place because I can get a steamed chicken and vegetable dish which to me is completely guilt-free.  I pair it with a side of kung pao sauce… and it is amazing!

Steamed Chicken and Broccoli | No Thanks to Cake

The night took an awkward turn when the waiter brought out the dessert, and (yes) serenaded me in a very LOUD voice, insisting on holding my hand during, and then kissing me on the head afterward.

Dessert | No Thanks to Cake

Oh geez… I felt like I had a sombrero on my head at La Siesta in college.  So awkward…  but a nice gesture.

Sunday had another lovely outing, where I got to meet up with some local bloggers!  Tiffany, Jess, Lauren, and I met at True Foods Kitchen to enjoy their healthy cuisine, and it didn’t disappoint (nor did the conversation!)

Denver True Foods Kitchen | No Thanks to Cake

This was actually our first outing with Jess from Operation Skinny Jeans who was so nice to join us girls for a quick lunch.  She is a fabulous lady on an amazing weight loss journey.  It was so nice to meet her after “knowing” her for so long on Instagram.

Johnny Cakes True Foods Kitchen | No Thanks to Cake

During lunch I had my first “Johnny Cakes” made with quinoa, and I LOVED these.  They were made with quinoa and were AWESOME.  Lauren was right when she said I would figure out a way to make these at home… it’s just a matter of time!

Inside Out Quinoa Burger True Foods Kitchen | No Thanks to Cake

My main course was just ok… I ordered the Inside Out Quinoa Burger and it just had a weird flavor to it.  I really didn’t eat much of it, but saved room to order (wait for it)… the Flourless Chocolate Cake. I die for this flourless chocolate cake and thank goodness my light lunch and three lunch buddies supported this dessert decision.

Flourless Chocolate Cake True Foods Kitchen | No Thanks to Cake

It was incredible!!!

And, with that… the weekend was mostly over.  At least the fun part of it.  Back to work, back to the grind, and, my goodness… back to the gym!  I want to make sure all my dining out doesn’t erase that 1.3 lbs I lost this week!

BTW… I haven’t forgotten my promise of a Birthday Giveaway… it’s coming this week!

How was your weekend?  Have you ever been serenaded to at a restaurant?

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