Great Falls

July 29, 2015

It's almost August which means I need to get moving on my summer to-do list. In my 5 years living in Maryland, I've discovered so many amazing places that are great for hiking, biking and adventure so I figured I'd share them here throughout the next few weeks. (See the first spot on my list here!)

My warm weather to-do list includes: fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, camping and of course lots of hiking! The all-in-one spot to hike, bike, fish and enjoy nature is Great Falls in Potomac, Maryland.

Great Falls, Great Falls Taverns, Maryland, outdoors, hiking, biking, fishing, adventure, waterfalls, water, nature, vacation, Virginia, Potomac

Great Falls, Great Falls Taverns, Maryland, outdoors, hiking, biking, fishing, adventure, waterfalls, water, nature, vacation, Virginia, Potomac

I've been to Great Falls several times and each time I go I just can't believe these majestic views exist in Maryland. Of course, there is no shortage of beautiful water falls that I could stare at (and take pictures of) all day. The park runs along the Potomac River covering nearly 185 miles - and it also has a Virginia side. Throughout the park you can see visitors across the water in Virginia!

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Great Falls has 18 trails ranging in difficulty and distance. Every time I'm there I grab a map which lists each trail and details. You don't have to stay on the trails - there are so many areas you can hike to (pretty much at your own risk of course). There are also a couple trails that lead to walkways above the falls! If you don't want to get too deep into the woods, you can walk (or bike) along the canal on a dirt trail watching turtles and fish along the way.

Great Falls, Great Falls Taverns, Maryland, outdoors, hiking, biking, fishing, adventure, waterfalls, water, nature, vacation, Virginia, Potomac

Great Falls, Great Falls Taverns, Maryland, outdoors, hiking, biking, fishing, adventure, waterfalls, water, nature, vacation, Virginia, Potomac

Great Falls, Great Falls Taverns, Maryland, outdoors, hiking, biking, fishing, adventure, waterfalls, water, nature, vacation, Virginia, Potomac

Fun fact: There are several gold mines in the Great Falls area. The largest is the Maryland Mine located at the intersection of Falls Road and MacArthur Boulevard near Potomac. Gold was first discovered here by a Union soldier from Pennsylvania during the Civil War.

You can also hike the Gold Mine Spur trail - that's on my list next!

Great Falls, Great Falls Taverns, Maryland, outdoors, hiking, biking, fishing, adventure, waterfalls, water, nature, vacation, Virginia, Potomac

Last weekend, we made our own trail and found ourselves climbing down a rocky hillside, jumping across rocks to get to a big rock among the most calm water. It was so peaceful and a great resting spot to refuel and drink water before we headed back up the rocks to the actual trail.

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The entrance fee is $10 per vehicle and your pass lasts for 3 consecutive days so you can come back for more exploring. And trust me, there is way more to see than you can fit in a day! Let's not forget hiking is a great total body workout and before you realize it, you've gone several miles!

Have you ever been to Great Falls?

21 Day Fix Extreme

July 28, 2015

Quick story: I saw a man in the gym recently who was obviously an experienced body builder. Throughout his workout, after each set, I noticed he would watch workout videos of his next exercise. It made me realize that, just like him, I will never get to a point where I'm done learning and that's one of things I love about making fitness a priority in my life. There are so many directions that will help you reach every single goal on your list..... and beyond. You just have to do your research, keep learning and stick with it! The results are rewarding!

21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, workout, Beachbody, Shakeology, fitness, eating healthy

With that said - I'm taking my goals to the extreme!! ;) When I took the 6-day Shakeology/Clean Eating Challenge, I began learning yummy (and healthy) recipes to keep my eating on track. While I've come a long way already, I have a feeling my portions are still a bit out of range so I'll be starting the 21 Day Fix Extreme! (Thanks for the birthday present, Sis!) Three full weeks of 100% clean eating and portion control is just what I need!

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I'm so excited to get started and can't wait to learn more about choosing the right foods to fuel my body properly, and the portion sizes that won't throw everything off. (That's where those cute little color coded containers come in!)

I'll also be taking some of my workouts out of the gym and into my apartment. I'm also excited about this part because I need to switch up my workouts. Will I get the same sweat and burn at home as I do weightlifting? Who knows! Will I see awesome results like I have been with my regular workout routine? I sure hope so!

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What I do know is that I bought 2 sets of dumbbells over the weekend for the program and carrying them from the store to my car then up to my apartment could probably count as a second workout. (Side note: I shopped around for the best prices and Target was the most affordable!)

I'll definitely be keeping a journal and blogging about my experience with the 21 Day Fix Extreme. Stay tuned! You can also follow along on Instagram!

Have you done the 21 Day Fix Extreme? Any advice?

My ARTOGA Experience

July 21, 2015

Remember when I first introduced you to ARTOGA? (If you missed it, catch the first post all about it here!) Ever since that post, I've had a class on my calendar to try and the day finally came last Saturday. It was perfect timing, too because I haven't been practicing yoga as much as I would like. Summer is kind of getting away from me ya know? And lately I've been struggling with time management, stress and just taking time for myself so I couldn't wait for a nice Saturday sweat and painting session.

ARTOGA, ARTOGA DC, yoga, painting, yogi, namaste, yoga and painting, yoga class, Extend Yoga, Bethesda, Maryland

ARTOGA, ARTOGA DC, yoga, painting, yogi, namaste, yoga and painting, yoga class, Extend Yoga, Bethesda, Maryland

As weird as it sounds: I didn't know what to expect. Even as I write that, I know it sounds silly because it's a yoga & painting class. Pretty easy to grasp, right? Maybe for some - but I was unsure how we would be putting a paint brush to canvas while doing yoga. Impossible, right?! Turns out it's totally possible - for any level yogi! (I've only been practicing yoga for 7 months and never felt it was beyond my ability.)

ARTOGA, ARTOGA DC, yoga, painting, yogi, namaste, yoga and painting, yoga class, Extend Yoga, Bethesda, Maryland

ARTOGA, ARTOGA DC, yoga, painting, yogi, namaste, yoga and painting, yoga class, Extend Yoga, Bethesda, Maryland

ARTOGA, ARTOGA DC, yoga, painting, yogi, namaste, yoga and painting, yoga class, Extend Yoga, Bethesda, Maryland

We had a piece of paper that we turned over at the start of class to show us what we'd be drawing and I was so excited to see a Mandala. Then I thought: how am I supposed to paint that?! But, as we went through the class, our instructor Arlet reminded us that we simply use it as a guide. Our paintings didn't have to look like the picture at all (and mine didn't!). It was completely up to us what we felt in that moment and decided to paint... much like yoga itself: there is really no set routine and everyone flows through each practice at a different pace. And that's part of what makes it beautiful.

ARTOGA, ARTOGA DC, yoga, painting, yogi, namaste, yoga and painting, yoga class, Extend Yoga, Bethesda, Maryland

ARTOGA, ARTOGA DC, yoga, painting, yogi, namaste, yoga and painting, yoga class, Extend Yoga, Bethesda, Maryland

For a minute or 2 we would flow through a yoga sequence at our own pace, but each participant would end in the same pose then pick up a brush and work on the next step of our painting. It was challenging drawing circles after several downward facing dogs but after a while my hand would stop shaking a little and I'd paint my little heart out.

ARTOGA, ARTOGA DC, yoga, painting, yogi, namaste, yoga and painting, yoga class, Extend Yoga, Bethesda, Maryland

ARTOGA, ARTOGA DC, yoga, painting, yogi, namaste, yoga and painting, yoga class, Extend Yoga, Bethesda, Maryland

ARTOGA, ARTOGA DC, yoga, painting, yogi, namaste, yoga and painting, yoga class, Extend Yoga, Bethesda, Maryland

I loved every minute of the 1.5 hour class. It was the recharge I needed to relax, challenge my body and to also feel strong mentally. Just a few of the many reasons I absolutely love practicing yoga! I hope this post helps a bit if you're trying to decide whether or not to try ARTOGA (or a regular yoga class). I HIGHLY recommend it....you will not regret the experience! I'm already planning my next class and brushing up on my painting skills ;)

For the latest schedule, click here.

Outfit:
WORKOUT TANK: Ashley Brooke Designs //  
LEGGINGS: Alo Yoga // TATTOO: Flash Tattoos //


I received a complimentary class from ARTOGA DC, however all opinions are my own.
All photos by Cyril Allotey

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: Activewear Picks

July 15, 2015

As if I needed another reason to buy active wear... the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale begins this Friday, but Nordy card holders can shop the sale now! (Where do I sign up?!) There are A TON of fabulous items and accessories - but just in case you're shopping around for active wear, I have you covered (literally) and these items won't break the bank. Let's all celebrate with 30 burpees!

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This mega sale is literally the only time during the summer that I'm excited when I think of fall.... even though the thought of wearing these items makes me immediately sweat. Just like shoes, a girl can never have too many workout clothes. Especially bold leggings! I love the criss cross back top - it is per.fect for yoga! And if you've been searching for mesh leggings - I've linked a few pairs below!

Remember: if you're a Nordstrom card holder, you can shop the Anniversary Sale early here and on Friday, it opens up to everyone else. Get to shopping!

Shop My Picks! 


Puerto Rico Trip

July 13, 2015

You only turn 30 once and let me tell you, this year's birthday trip to Puerto Rico was such a blast! (Even topping last year's to Miami!) We ate at local restaurants (I had mofongo for the first time - yum!), went to a casino, nightclubs and of course spent plenty of time working on our tans. Check out some of my favorite sights and snaps.


CONDADO VANDERBILT HOTEL 

I have to start by sharing photos of the hotel we stayed at - The breathtaking Condado Vanderbilt Hotel. This historic hotel was recently renovated and no detail was overlooked from the bold colors to the gold 18th century hallway mirrors. Seriously, every time I turned around I was snapping pictures! I was constantly in awe of the design.

From the moment our cab pulled up to the bold glass doors, we were greeted by the nicest staff and a glass of champagne (I could totally get used to that!). It has the most gorgeous ocean front views, 3 pools and a hot tub, a private beach and plenty of lounge chairs. I felt like a superstar staying there and highly recommend it - the whole experience was way more than 5 stars in my expert opinion.






OLD SAN JUAN: CASTILLO SAN CRISTOBAL

One day we decided to get out of the hotel scene and play tourists in Old San Juan. It is such a vibrant town with cobblestone streets, bustling crowds and brightly painted buildings - my favorite! It was suggested we visit the Castillo San Cristobal which turned out to be a fascinating few hours full of history and more breathtaking views. The Spanish spent over 250 years fortifying the location, since through it, Spain controlled all access in and out of the Caribbean.







OLD SAN JUAN: CATEDRAL DE SAN JUAN BAUTISTA

We also took a cab over to see the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, another historic landmark in the heart of the old city. It is the second oldest church in the Western Hemisphere, and the oldest church on U.S. soil. The architecture alone is stunning but there is also a lot of historical information in each wing. The remains of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León are there and the church still holds mass every week!

 1919 RESTAURANT

The Condado Vanderbilt hotel also has several restaurants, so for my birthday dinner we ate at 1919, a high end restaurant where every menu item and ingredient is farm-to-table using the most fresh and organic ingredients. The Ricotta Ravioli & Chicken for 2 were delicious! And of course, I had to get dessert so I tried the salted caramel tart - yum!



We tried to set up some other fun activities but everything was booked through the month - so we'll just have to go back! ;) I could use another vacation lounging by the pool eating the most delectable fresh fruit I've ever seen. And avocados. Until next time!

Have you ever been to Puerto Rico? What was your favorite part?


I am not a travel blogger and was in no way compensated for this post - 
I just wanted to share some of my favorite parts about the trip!