Wellness Retreat in Nicaragua

Earlier this month, I went on a wellness fitness retreat in Nicaragua through The Taylor Cut. I heard about it from one of my favorite Y7 yoga instructors, Sarah, who led the yoga portion. The founder, Michael, teaches at Barry’s Bootcamp, which is one of my fav workouts, so that in addition to the fact that I trust Sarah and always love her challenging classes, I’d never been to Nicaragua, and the dates of the trip worked with my schedule I thought, “why the hell not?!”.

Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work for Kev though. I was bummed that he wasn’t going with me (I literally had anxiety about it leading up to the trip because I haven’t vacationed without him since we’ve been together for over 8 years.), but it ended up being completely fine. There were nine of us total, including the two instructors. It was a good sized group; it was large enough to not get sick of spending so much time with any one person, but small enough that we all got to get to know one another. No one knew one another prior to the trip, outside of one of the instructors, and we surprisingly all got along very well despite different personalities and being in different stages of life.

For the 5-day trip we stayed at an eco-lodge, Eden on the Chocolata in San Juan del Sur. Eden prepared all of our breakfasts and dinners, all of which were vegetarian and were delicious. I definitely did not go hungry on the trip. I was pleasantly surprised how good and vegetarian-friendly the food is in Nicaragua. What I loved most about Eden though, other than the vegetarian meals, were the family pets who kept us company the entire time. There are two sweet, friendly dogs and two sweet, chill cats who live on the property and were literally always hanging out nearby. It made me feel more at home!

As far as the workouts, every day we did a HIIT workout and yoga. There was a private beach close to Eden, so we did the HIIT workouts there most mornings which I loved. Yoga was held at Eden in an open-walled space overlooking the forest, so we had amazing views throughout practice.

Other than getting two good workouts in each day, we also visited the colossal Christ of the Mercy Jesus Christ statue and explored the town of San Juan del Sur. My personal two favorite activities were surfing at Playa Hermosa and the catamaran cruise. Playa Hermosa is a beautiful beach and was not crowded, so it was perfect for surf lessons. I had never surfed before, so being a part of a group was helpful since we were all learning together and encouraged one another. I had so much fun and couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. I even got up a few times! My other favorite was the catamaran cruise that we went on the last day of the trip. It was a perfect activity to conclude the trip. We set off mid-day and had a few hours of boating and then anchored for beach/swim time before heading back and catching a spectacular sunset. I loved that as soon as we set foot on board, we were offered cocktails, and our group essentially had the whole front of the boat to lounge around.

I had such an amazing time on the trip. It went by super fast, and because we had a fairly jam-packed itinerary and enjoyed each other’s company, I hardly thought about work or anything else really. Despite working our butts off exercising, it was actually a mentally restorative trip as well. I also took some good habits back home with me. I’ve started journaling a little every day to get my thoughts and feelings out, I’m continuing to be mindful about being present and spending my time and energy on things that actually matter, and I’m holding myself accountable to small goals (i.e. catch up on writing blog posts, sign up for MasterClass, spend more time reading over mindlessly watching shows, etc.). I may need to make a point of going on a wellness retreat at least once a year from here on out! Cheers~Namaste.

My Favorite Workouts in NYC

In addition to my favorite vegetarian restaurants, I’m also frequently asked about my favorite workouts around the city, so below is a list of my go-to studios in no particular order. Most of the below have multiple locations, but I usually go to the ones closest to my apartment in Soho.

I have a ClassPass membership since I love variety with my workouts and most of the below boutique studios are on ClassPass. I work out around 5-6x a week, so I have the highest credit plan of 130 credits for $199 per month. I usually use all of my credits each month so I supplement ClassPass with class packs purchased directly from specific studios as well.

Lastly, if you’re interested in joining ClassPass to have access to classes at most of the below studios, here is a referral link.

  • HIIT
    • Barry’s Bootcamp
    • Switch
    • Fhitting Room
    • SolidCore
  • Yoga
    • Y7
    • Bode NYC (formerly Bikram NYC, it’s the traditional 90-minute class with twenty-six Hatha Yoga postures in 102-105 degrees)
  • Running
    • Mile High Run
    • Precision Run
    • Peloton Tread
  • Boxing
    • Overthrow
    • Grit Boxing
  • Cycling
    • Monster Cycle
  • Rowing
    • City Row

Happy Sweating!

My Fav Veggie Spots in NYC

I get asked about my favorite vegetarian restaurants a lot, so below is a list of my favorite veggie/vegan restaurants in Manhattan in no particular order. I’ve also indicated if the restaurant is vegan (ND-for “no dairy”) or just vegetarian (V).

West Village
Urban Vegan Kitchen (ND) – Everything is good but my personal favorites are the breakfast sandwich and the avocado ranch salad with buffalo fried seitan.
Soho
Le Botaniste (ND)
West-Bourne (V) – My go-to is the Mushroom Reuben with a Kin non-alcoholic cocktail.
Greenwich Village
Quantum Leap (V) – They have a robust menu but my fav is the Vegan Pineapple Up Side Down Pancakes.
Red Bamboo (ND)
Go Zen (ND) – My favs are the wonton soup, curry noodle soup, and the sweet and sour divine (which is sweet and sour fake-chicken and the bomb). Go Zen is right next to Red Bamboo so it’s easy to go to either if there is a wait to be seated.
Sacred Chow (ND) – My go-to is the Tempeh Reuben and Black Olive Seitan.
Kips Bay
Marty’s V Burger (ND)
Murray Hill
Franchia (ND) – Everything is good here but some of my favs are Spicy Kimchi Pancakes, the soy ‘duck’ wrap, and Singapore Curry Angel Hair.
Upper West Side
Blossom (ND)
East Village
Double Zero (ND) – This is one of Matthew Kenney’s restaurants and it’s my favorite vegan pizza spot.
Bar Verde (ND) – This is another Matthre Kenney restaurant (he has three right next to each other in East Vill). I love the vegan nachos.
Lower East Side
Jajaja (ND) – Best tacos and frozen margs.
Petisco (ND) – kitty-corner from Jajaja, Petisco is one of my all-time fav vegan spots. I love everything on the menu.
Orchard Grocer (ND) – I love this place so much and wish they had a location in Soho. They have daily sandwich specials that are amazing.
Koreatown
Hangawi (ND) – I love the ambiance of this place. Be prepared to take your shoes off at the door before being seated at a traditional Korean table.
Herald Square
Cinnamon Snail (ND) – Located in The Pennsy, I fell in love with the Cinnamon Snail several years before when they just had a food truck. They have great donuts and sandos.

The following are not solely vegetarian or vegan restaurants but they have some good options as well:

  • Vandal – Amazing ambiance with fun art and robust veggie options.
  • Saxon & Parole – They have one of the best Impossible Burgers in the city.
  • Umami Burger in Brookfield Place is another one of my fav spots for a good Impossible Burger.
  • Grey Dog – My favorite is the spicy caesar salad with tofu.
  • Blockheads – Surprisingly they have a whole vegan section on their menu.
  • Taco dumbo – The vegan chorizo tacos are bomb.
  • 12 Chairs – Good spot in Soho for nice sit down with Mediterranean food. They have the best hummus in the city.
  • Counter/Chef’s Club in Nolita- Though the chefs and menu changes every few months, there are always usually great veggie options.

Happy Eating!!

Why We Eat What We Eat -Book Recap

I’ve been on a challenging journey to try to cut back on sweets and curb my insatiable sweet tooth, so I downloaded Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship With Food by Rachel Herz on my Kindle to learn a thing or two. Below are my notes/key takeaways:

  • One reason why food that looks artistic, interesting, and attractive is enjoyed more is because the appearance of food affects our expectation of how it will taste. We assume that the better food looks, the higher the quality and the more delicious it must be.
  • Translating calorie information into meaningful real-world energy expenditure has the greatest likelihood of success in reducing calorie consumption and encouraging healthier purchases. (i.e a soda or fruit juice of 250 cals takes 50 mins running or 5-mile walk to burn) – Yikes that’s a lot of expenditure for relatively little fulfillment!
  • Even though companies like Coca-Cola are advocating a “don’t eat less, just exercise more” lifestyle, it takes an unrealistic amount of activity for most people to counteract the American diet (i.e 2-hrs of working out to burn off a Big Mac).
  • All senses are involved when we eat. Tomato juice tastes better when flying because the pressurized cabin makes it hard to hear and hearing and taste are connected. It’s the same with loud music; it’s harder to tell how much alcohol is in the drink. Another takeaway is that dimmer lights have restaurant-goers taking their time and ordering more. Music can impact wine choice. Weight, shape, and color of the dishes that the food is served in effects our taste perception as well.
  • The shorter the distance between us and food, the more of it we eat. (Out of sight out of mind is actually true!)
  • Labels that downplay healthiness are often better for your health. We trick ourselves into eating more when labels say low fat or healthy.
  • The more common cause of endorphin release is the learned connections to comfort and pleasure that we have associated with certain dishes through our past experiences.
  • Stress makes high-calorie food more pleasurable and decreases the ability to make prudent decisions.
  • For young adults, just one bout of thirty minutes of moderate physical activity can improve mental capacity which may instill the willpower needed to resist food passions.
  • Be fully present while eating without other distractions to pay attention to flavor of food, how much you eat, and feeling of fullness.
  • Interacting with products that are ethically branded has the counter-intuitive effect of making us feel entitled to be greedy and immoral (this point was interesting to me–let me be kind to others!)
  • Food is more than taste or nutrition, it’s emotion.

I really enjoyed this book. It definitely made me more aware of my relationship with food.