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Game On, 2015.

29 Dec

Well, folks.  I warned you to follow me on Instagram – and you still should, duh! (@MichelleSFTS)

I guess when the universe decides you need to take a break, then you do what the universe wants.  I’m feeling kinda like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire when he got shipped from West P to Cali to be honest.  Good decision on both of our parts, the Fresh Prince and I.  I’m not going to get into too many details because….well….it’s none of yo’ business really but my life is VERY different than it was back in October.  More details may follow if I feel the need to share them, but the most relevant changes to this space include:  I’ve moved to another part of the city and I’m back to working in an office.

For me, these changes have posed many new obstacles.  I mean, who can make time for anything really – it’s not like Trivia Crack is going to play itself.  But, I digress…First, it’s been incredibly difficult for me to stay on track with clean eating while working in my new office!  Between all the wonderful treats they bring in for us at work and the holidays, I’m ashamed to admit that I think I’ve gained 10 15 lbs.  If I don’t meal prep responsibly, I find myself eating Chipotle, Panera, or Chic-fil-a for lunch.  NOT good.  Second, I’m struggling to settle into a fitness routine.  This one is sad because there really isn’t any reason why.  I mean, yes I have a slight commute now but my hours allow for plenty of time for fitness.  Laziness and the holiday chaos are really the only things I can attribute to my suddenly sedentary lifestyle.

But, you all know I love a challenge and I’m goal-oriented, so….

  • I joined a gym near my house.
  • I’m not only registered for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May, but I took it upon myself to register for ANOTHER half in September.
  • I’m made a base-building plan for the month of January.
  • I’m in the process of buying new running shoes (mine aren’t quite maxed out on the mileage and I’m still not sure which ones I want – open to suggestions though!)
  • I have a few new gym buddies.
  • I realistically meal plan and prep, usually creating around 3-4 healthy options for the week.  By eating leftovers for lunch, I don’t leave myself room for temptation.

Honestly, the only true solution is motivation, hard work, and self control.  We all know it.  But having a good plan makes it a hell of a lot easier, amiright??

So, what can you expect from SOLE For The Soul in 2015?

You can absolutely expect more healthy recipes being shared, along with tons of complaining about running!  Jk.  About the complaining, kind of.  Not really – I definitely will be complaining because half marathon training is probably way more difficult than I can even imagine right now!  Eeek!  I can’t wait!!  You can also expect tons of my usual antics.

Game on, 2015.

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Happy 4 Years SFTS + A Review of Alihan’s

6 Oct

It’s a big day at SOLE For The Soul!!!  I’ve been keeping this blog for exactly FOUR YEARS today – that’s pretty crazy if you think about it!  We’ve come a long way together, me and you.  We started out trying all the best restaurants in Pittsburgh, talking about sustainability, and going on adventures.  Then, when we started making healthy changes and getting fit together.  I like the new us, don’t you?

thanks-for-the-feedback-bye

Seriously though, I’m so appreciative of all you guys who consistently come back and check out what I’ve got going on, share my recipes on Pinterest, and stalk my Twitter.  Love you guys! ♥


 

It seems appropriate to get back to our roots on such a big day, so I’m happy to do a little restaurant review today of a new-to-me place called Alihan’s in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.  I didn’t take very many pictures when I was there on Friday night, but that’s because I was busy catching up with my favorite cousin.  We don’t get to see each other very often, so we had plenty to talk about – and wine.  So, yeah.  Little known fun fact about where I’m from (New Castle, PA): it’s an unexpected little pocket of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean culture.  When I’m craving the tastes of home, lamb on the rod is probably the first thing I start talking about so when my cousin found Ailhan’s on Yelp we didn’t hesitate to make a reservation.  (I would strongly suggest making a reservation because they get pretty busy if there’s a show nearby.)

The space is small but charming and not overly kitsch-y.  There is an outdoor patio with a gorgeous view of the Roberto Clemente bridge if you’re into that sort of thang.  The 20 mile an hour winds on Friday didn’t make that very inviting, though!  Inside, there was an unexpected water feature that I was impressed with.  We knew it was BYOB, so we had each brought a bottle of wine and were happy to find out that there is only a single corking fee per table.  We ordered the cold appetizer platter and WOW.  It was basically heaven in my mouth.  From left to right, the plate offered feta, tabbouleh, char-grilled eggplant salad, stuffed grape leaves, yogurt sauce (I didn’t try this), hummus, and baba ghanoush.  Everything was so delish.  The stuffed grape leaves were absolutely perfect, so many places don’t take their time on so they end up rubbery and tasteless.  I was impressed!

Not sure about grape leaves?  I say try them – they are low calorie, high fiber dark veggie that are full of calcium, iron, and vitamins A&K. One cup of grape leaves actually provide you with an entire day’s worth of Vitamin A!  Also, the char-grilled eggplant salad was not something I even thought I would like but I could not stop eating it!  Mixed cold platter for the win guys.

alihans-mixed-cold-appetizers

We decided to split an entree – neither one of us wanted to take home any leftovers since we both had plans for after dinner.  Of course we ordered the lamb shish kebob with white rice.  I’m not going to lie, I am a lamb snob.  I can’t help it, I’ve been eating it all my life and it’s one of my favorite proteins.

alihans-lamb-shish-kebob

This may not look like a very large portion, but the pieces of lamb are bigger than they look.  They use a pepper and tomato marinade before they char-grill this lamb on a rod.  Let’s just say I was kind of regretting the decision to share.  They weren’t over-seasoned, and you could taste the caramelization from the marinade.  They were cooked perfectly with a great char and a tender inside.  The rice was so fresh, we both were surprised at how good it was since it’s kind of an afterthought.  The whole time we just kept saying that we would come back again and again.  I will not be sharing next time, I will say that.

What else can I say?  Our server was helpful, attentive, charming, and knowledgeable (that can make or break a place for me).  It’s right next door to a parking garage, but there is plenty of on-street parking.  And, if you want to know anything else leave me a comment I guess!  As far as I’m concerned, this place is a little hidden gem in downtown Pittsburgh.

Race Recap: Great Race

29 Sep

I don’t even know where to start with this recap other than to say this was such an awesome race!!  I had built this one up so much in my head that I had been nauseous for DAYS, I mean I’d been running but I definitely did not stick to my training plan.  Oopsie?  The night before I tried really hard to just relax, but of course I want to fuss over everything when I’m stressed out.  I ran down to the expo on Saturday and grabbed my bib, I did a few laps around and talked myself down from buying anything because I wanted EVERYTHING.  I did stick around and play with the kitties at the ARL booth and say hi to the Greyhounds.

Great-Race-2014-Expo-Bib

I made sure I ate something carbaliciously familiar the night before and somehow managed to get an awesome night’s sleep.  I woke up at 6:30 and at a pumpkin english muffin (who knew those existed?!) with peanut butter, a bottle of water, and a banana.  Then I paced around my house for several hours.  I finally decided to head to the starting line super early because I thought it would be better to just stretch and people watch.  As soon as I parked my car I realized that my phone armband thing was broken which was soooooooo annoying.  The stupid velcro just came completely off so it wouldn’t stick together anymore.  I guess if something had to go wrong on race day morning, I’m glad it was just that!

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The starting line was insanity.  This was by far the biggest race I’ve ever been to.  The relay didn’t seem crowded to me because I started at an exchange point and the crowd was pretty small.  It looked like this in front and behind me.  I seriously could not stop people watching, I’m such a creeper!  The crowd started slowly walking towards the starting line and I was so so so nervous because this race starts with a hill.  As the people crossed under the start, the tempo picked up a little bit and they were blasting the song “Shout.”  It was seriously the perfect time in the song as I started, the way the crowd was picking up speed at that exact moment – I seriously can’t even explain how awesome that feeling was!  I was totally not nervous anymore and I killed it up the hill.

I felt like I was pacing myself pretty well, which was easy since it was so crowded.  I tried to just find someone who looked experienced and was running around the same pace I wanted to be at, then just tried to stick with them!  That worked like a charm for the first 2.5 miles.  As we got into the Oakland, I was shocked that the first 1/3 of the race went so fast.  I started to struggle around UPMC because I felt like my bladder was about to pop – luckily that’s right where the 5K starting line was so there were bathrooms available.  I seriously wished there had been at least one other bathroom available  before the middle of the race.

The second half of the race was a LOT harder than the first for me.  It was getting really hot and there is not much shade from Oakland until you get downtown.  I made sure to walk through every water station.  The first actual walking break I had to take was right at the mile 5 marker because I started getting a side stitch.  My legs felt like jelly as soon as I started walking so I kept telling myself to push through it because ain’t nobody got time for that.  I think I SPRINTED down the hill on the Boulevard of the Allies and I knew I would be okay when I was still passing people as we pushed into downtown.  I just remember thinking – “OMG, this is the coolest thing EVER!” as I ran into downtown.  That was another big first for me!

As soon as I saw the finish line banner I gave it all I had and finished strong.  I was actually kind of nervous at the mile 6 marker that I would be crawling across the timing mat because I was just so done at that point.  Of course the crowds and the adrenaline wouldn’t let that happen though. 🙂

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It was really disorientating after the finish line because it was just a massive crowd of confused, tired, sweaty, disoriented zombies wandering around a grassy knoll.  I made a bee-line for the water station, which was really understaffed if you ask me.  All I wanted was a banana and people would. not. move.

Starving

I grabbed 2 bananas and an apple and headed directly for a shady spot closer to the point and away from the crowds.  I just laid there and couldn’t move.  You know I’m just exhausted when there is a squirrel within 15 feet of me and I literally don’t react.  (I do NOT like squirrels.)  I laid in the grass, ate my apple, and listened to my favorite cool down music.  I want to always remember those few minutes and that feeling:

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It was seriously so awesome!  My Garmin said I finished in 1:07:22, but my official time was 1:09:55.  Since this is my first official 10K, I’m considering this my PDR race AND since I ran basically this same distance in the relay in May – it was a PR too!  Just a great day all around and an absolutely awesome race.   Definitely didn’t have the energy for a full smile though!

great-race-2014-finish-red-face

I took the shuttle back to the starting line where my car was and I will NEVER do that again.  I underestimated how badly a city bus full of sweaty runners could actually smell.  I will run this race again and again and again though!

 

Friday Five: 5 Things To Do In Pittsburgh This Month!

15 Aug

This week’s Friday Five linkup (an awesome weekly event hosted by Courtney @ Eat Pray Run DC, Mar @ Mar On The Run, and Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What!) is themed:  Free Friday, which means we are all writing about whatever we want!  Open-ended topics are so difficult for me because I usually have about a thousand things on my mind minute to minute.  How am I supposed to narrow things down into 5 coherent tidbits?!!  After a lot of thought, I’ve decided to share 5 things I’m looking forward to throughout the rest of August.  This link-up is about to get link-heavy so get ready!!  🙂

Friday-Five-August-Events-Pittsburgh

1.  Yoga In The Square – Yoga has been extended through August!  Hooray!!!  This is seriously one of the coolest programs I’ve been involved in – free yoga offered in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh at Market Square.  I hope they find other interesting ways to offer free yoga (I know of another program in Highland Park on Sundays, but I’ve never been!) because I will support it every single week!  I love that there is a different instructor each week, because as a new practitioner it’s nice to see the different teaching styles.  I’ve all ready got a favorite and I will be searching her out at her home studio.

2.  Little Italy Days – August 21-23, 2014 – I don’t know if it’s the inner fat kid in me or the New Castle native, but I look forward to Little Italy Days all summer.  Give me all of the meatballs, all of the Italian flags, all of the cannolis, and bring your bocci balls while you’re at it!

3.  Savor Pittsburgh – August 21, 2014 – This elegant, end-of-summer fundraiser is worth the hefty price tag!  This exciting food competition and showcase, which will be held at Stage AE for the first time, includes an evening of bites, brews, and dancing shoes catered by Pittsburgh’s top chefs!  The event itself raises money for Magee Women’s’ Hospital, but it also gives prominent chefs the opportunity to bring their culinary A-game as they compete for “Dish Of The Year.”  You don’t want to miss it!

4.  DOG JOG!!!!  – Orientation August 31st, 2014 – I heard about this program through one of the current Animal Rescue League volunteers (my friend Cassie), and knew I had to get involved!  I’ve talked about the dog jog program before over here, but orientation is right around the corner.  I hope you are all looking forward to lots of pictures and stories because I am seriously bouncing up and down excited to spend time with those pups!

5.  Bikefest – August 8-24th, 2014 – The entire month of August is dedicated to biking events, thanks to Bike Pittsburgh.  I highly suggest checking out the schedule – there are so many cool free things coming up like group rides, educational tours, and speaker series on things like the future of downtown’s bike infrastructure.  Also, don’t forget to sign up for Pedal Pittsburgh on August 24th!

BONUS:  Sept. 1st – Doggy Dip @ The Dormont Pool!  I’m including this in August because the early-bird tickets end August 29th.  This is one of my favorite things about the end of summer!  Before they close the Dormont Pool, they host a giant dog pool party!  Tickets are $25 (early-bird) or $35 at the door. Make sure you check the schedule because there are different sessions depending on what you want (small dogs only, large dogs only, or open to all).  All proceeds benefit the Western PA Humane Society.

 


I hope you enjoyed this Friday Five linkup, I had fun writing it and I can’t wait to participate in more of them!!

Wordless Wednesday

25 Jun

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