Tag Archives: wellness in San Francisco

Day 34: Finding my swagga’ at HipHop

As mentioned I’ve been trying lots of exercises classes recently. One of my favourites is (Beginners) Hip Hop at the Dance Mission Theatre, on 24th and Mission in San Francisco. I go every Tuesday night with Lysbet.

hip hop

Whilst technically not an exercise class, it’s an hour and a half of body rockin’, booty shakin’, b-girlin’, kriss-krossin’, breakin’ it down and poppin’ it like it’s hot. In other words getting your body moving and your sweat on. And for good measure, the instructor throws in some sit ups, so we can legitimately call it a work-out.

This class is so much fun!

Every two weeks we learn a new routine to a new song, so we get two classes to practice the moves. The instructor, David, is amazing – he’s a talented dancer, number one,  he’s patient and pauses for questions, and encourages us to let loose and find our inner swagga’.

Cos it’s alllll about the swagga’ and attitude.

I need to work on the swagger a bit, being honest. Starting with the threads. I turn up in my pink runners, with matching pink t-shirt, and pink socks and all these Urban funksters in their slouchy pants and boot-runners stare me out of it. No hip-hop pro is going to be taken seriously wearing pink. Especially matching pink.

I also need to work on the moves. They come fast and furious and they need to be precise to look good. You really do need the two weeks to be able to get them right. But it’s like playing the piano, or anything else that requires coordination – when you get it, it’s the most AMAZING feeling.

I’m not quite ready to break it down in da cluuub just yet, but it’s coming. I may look like Carlton at the moment, but I can feel my inner Beyonce bubbling to the surface.

On a side note, I really, really want to learn a routine for the Big Butts song. I have a bit of an obsession. I know all the words to the intro! I also love Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda, and this 11 year old girl is my new idol. Killin’ it!


From a 100 Healthy Days perspective, my hip hop class serves two purposes:

  1. Getting my body moving after a day of sitting at my desk
  2. Making me happy by doing something fun and challenging. Health and happiness go hand in hand.

It doesn’t always have to be about weights and interval training!

Food and exercise

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and steamed kale. The usual!
  • Exercise: 1 hour PT
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with loads of veg and quinoa
  • Snack: Banana and greek yogurt
  • Exercise: 1.5 hours hip-hoppin
  • Dinner: Greek yogurt, peach and pecans
  • Comment: Way too much greek yogurt and fruit today. I didn’t get it together in time to grab a salad in work before hip hop. My bad!

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Day 32: Time for some tough love

I’ve been doing the 100 Healthy Day Challenge for a full month now. 31 days of making a ‘concerted, dedicated and publicly documented effort to be healthy.’

However, taking an honest look back at my posts, I’ve decided that rather than applaud, high five and/or fist bump myself, I actually need some tough lovin’. I’mma open up a can of whoop-ass on myself.

I'mma open up a can of whoop-ass...on myself

Opening a can of whoop-ass was my favourite saying when I was kid! I was opening up cans all over the place.

There have been some highs, that’s for sure. My zucchini noodles for a start – I was immensely proud of those. Saying no to cupcakes in work, was a huge win, (especially because they were from Kara’s Cupcakes in Palo Alto, and they had a banana cream one. I love banana stuff). And I love all the exercise classes I’ve been trying.

But for the most part, it’s been a catalogue of challenges and failures and small, daily slip ups. Hangover-gate, burrito-gate and of course that week of utter granola carnage.

It’s just dawned on me that, whilst I’ve been making an effort to make the healthy choice where possible, I haven’t been putting any concerted effort into it. I’ve been exercising my will power when I’ve needed to, but I haven’t been going out of my way to make sure I’m leading as healthy a lifestyle as possible.

Let me give you some examples.

Exercising will power:

  • Choosing the healthy option when out for dinner
  • Saying no to bread with brunch
  • Saying no to ice cream, dessert or sweet things when on offer
  • Only having one glass of wine at dinner, rather than sharing a bottle

Where I could have made a concerted effort:

  • Going shopping for the picnic in Dolores Park to ensure I had healthy options
  • Making time for dinner before a date
  • Food prepping in advance to account for those times when I’m too exhausted to cook
  • Buying healthy snacks for those late night munchies after a night out
  • Having healthy snacks at my desk to ward off granola cravings

A dedicated healthy lifestyle takes a lot of work – prepping and planning, shopping and scheduling. You can’t be half-ass about it. (Soz, I think I’ve over-used the word ass in this post.)

I can see now why so many people fall into living such un-healthy lifestyles. None of us have time for it! We’re all too busy! Have you ever found yourself answering the question ‘How are you doing?’ with ‘Ohhh, you know, busy!!’ Shocking.

But, are we ever not busy? What the hell are we busy doing? Why do we prioritise all other things over a healthy body?

So, going into my second month, I’ve decided to get my lazy ass (one more ass for good measure) into gear and make time for my healthy lifestyle.

This will include:

  • Doing a weekly food shop so I have healthy food in the fridge
  • Buying snacks for those late night post-drink munchies
  • Making a big dish of something healthy (eg curry, soup) and freezing it
  • Bringing healthy snacks with me wherever I go
  • Booking my exercise classes in advance

A little more effort will mean a lot more gainz!

Any other tips out there?

Food and exercise

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  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt, apple and pear
  • Lunch: Omlette with tomoatoes
  • Snack: half an apple and 8 almonds
  • Dinner: Spaghetting squash with puttanesca sauce and chickpeas, glass of win
  • Exercise: None – it’s the day of rest after all! I got into my work out clothes though, Nearly there!

Day 31: It ended with a burrito

Day 31 ended with a burrito. A big, fat, chicken one. With guac.

But it had started so well!

I had woken up early, loving the fact that I had such a clear head on a Saturday. Sad to say,  but that’s not been the norm to date – Friday nights out on the town are one of my most favourite things in life.  As a result, I felt like I could conquer the world! Or at the very least conquer my bad habits and have a golden day*.

Mags and I went to Barry’s Bootcamp in the morning and killed the workout. (Big fan now, by the way. Huge.) This was followed by a green juice from Pressed Juicery and a healthy brunch of eggs and salmon in Savor., Noe Valley.

‘No, bread,’ I told the waiter, with a smug smile. ‘And, no, I don’t want a box for those potatoes I left behind.’


Next stop after brunch, was none other than Dolores Park. Thinking about it, I really should have anticipated my downfall.

A bunch of us had decided to go watch the movie they were showing that night, as part of their movie series. I was so excited about it! This is such a Californian thing to do, in my mind. The fact that you can sit outside, in a park and watch a movie and not have to worry about rain, or wind or the gangster pigeons you’d sometimes get in a Dublin park – it blows the mind.

The movie started at 8.30pm, so the plan was to get there at 3.30pm to secure a good spot and have a picnic beforehand.

The fatal mistake I made was not planning what to bring in advance.

I was running late and still full from brunch, so I thought I wouldn’t need to eat anything (eh, in what world would that ever happen, Michelle??). I then wanted to get some alcohol like all the cool kids were doing so I went into the Bi-Rite Market near the park. It was so jammed I ended up panic buying some BEER!

It all went downhill from then.

Of course, the others had brought an amazing spread with them, and of course, I got hungry so I was powerless to resist.

So, first this happened:

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Then this

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Being honest, this would have happened anyway. Mags made some home-made Irish scones and they were delish!

And then flash forward, past a few handfuls of kettle chips, more beer, dancing at a friend’s house, out to a bar, another beer, and then finally this happened:

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Despite having grazed all day my stomach was hungry for something more substantial and nourishing. A burrito was the perfect answer, obvs!

But, fate, the heavens and the angels are obviously all working hard to keep me on my healthy eating track.

Just as I was sitting down at the kitchen table, all set to enjoy my greasy, fatty, unhealthy indulgence, my roommate Quinn suddenly appeared at the door.

‘YOU’RE EATING A BURRITO?!?’ he cried, incredulously.

Caught in the act, with the burrito half-way to my mouth.

Note, Quinn doesn’t even know about my 100 Healthy Day Challenge, by the way. He’s just a Californian and the idea of eating a burrito, late at night, was probably just shocking in general to him.

‘Emmm, yes,’ I replied, red-faced, ‘Hungry, you know.’

He stared at me, still in obvious shock.

I looked down and the burrito, and back to him.

‘Actually, you know what, this is way too big for me. I’m stuffed.’ (Lies, pure lies). ‘Do you want some?’

I could see the same internal, mental struggle I was suffering from, painted on his face.

‘Well, maybe just a bite,’ he said, after a while.

And proceeded to eat the whole thing.

The next day I woke up, feeling thankful for the unexpected intervention. One of these days, I will be able to intervene on my own behalf and truly have the, as of yet, elusive golden Saturday.

This day was not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. But, I am determined to plan better for the next time.

(*NOTE: A golden day is what I’m calling a day where I make all the right decisions from a healthy living point of view.)

Day 10: The Pre-Gaming, Night Out Challenge

  • Breakfast: Omelette with smoked salmon and tomatoes, coffee with milk
  • Snack: Fruit tasting at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market
  • Lunch: Chinese Chicken Salad at Gott’s Roadside in the Ferry Building
  • Snack: Iced Coffee
  • Dinner: Left-over salmon with roast potatoes and fennel
  • Pre-gaming: Prosecco, mini cup-cake, tortilla chips and guacamole
  • Gaming: Vodka Soda
  • Post-Gaming: Pizza…


Day 10 of my 100 Healthy Days in SF brought the greatest challenge to date – the pre-gaming night out. (Or, if you’re in Ireland, the pre-drinking before going on the tear). And I am ashamed to say, I failed spectacularly. 

From the start, I’ve known that social drinking would my Achilles heel. It’s probably the whole reason why I feel the need to embark on this challenge. I’m relatively healthy during the week and feel empowered and motivated to make healthy choices. However, as soon as Friday comes and the suggestion is made to go for cocktails/beers/dinner/margaritas my resolve crumbles faster than low-fat feta cheese. It’s not just the drinking, it’s the whole package – the unwinding after a long week, the catching up with friends, the debating over what cocktail to try…it’s just all so social and fun. 

So, today’s event was a night out with some of the Irish people living in SF. Our friend Kev was over visiting from Dublin, so of course we wanted to ‘catch up’ (aka go on the lash). We started out pre-gaming at another friend Katie’s house in The Mission, followed by drinks at my fave bar The Latin American Club (beware the Margaritas – they are lethal!).

In fairness to me, I couldn’t have been faced with more difficult foes. Kev is the Emperor of ‘getting on it’ and it’s practically impossible not to be affected by his good buzz and Katie is always on hand to pour the bubbles. I just couldn’t say no. Actually I didn’t even try. 😦

So, I ended up drinking a lot, and then going for pizza afterwards. The shame!

I’ve been beating myself up about this ever since, but I’ve decided to stop doing that. This is the first time I’ve met with this challenge during the 100 healthy days, and while I failed it’s not the end. I just need to come up with some strategies to ‘healthify’ the nights out. Some ideas:

  • Drink a TON of water the day before going out so you’re not dehydrated and reaching for the neared liquid to hand
  • Eat a big, protein and veggie filled meal before-hand so your blood sugars are balanced and you feel in control
  • Drink a glass of water as your first drink
  • Bring your own ‘healthy’ beverage to the pre-game
  • Have a healthy snack prepared for when you come home, so you don’t feel the need to go to the pizza place

The next time I go out, I will be prepared!!!

In other news, I spent a lovely day with the folks wandering around the famer’s market at the Ferry Building (a must for those visiting SF) and then doing the city bus tour, joined by the bold Kev.



Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Buidling. Check out dem peppers!


Irish reunion!

Day 9: The Wine Tour Challenge

  • Breakfast: 2 boiled eggs, banana
  • Snack: Half a banana, wine
  • Lunch: Meats, cheeses, tomatoes, olives, cheeses, cheese
  • Snack: Wine, wine, wine
  • Dinner: At Slanted Door – 1 x fresh spring roll, 1 x crispy spring roll, cellophane noodles with crab, glass wine, coffee with milk
  • Snack: Cheese
Meals today were mostly of the grape variety. And cheese...

Meals today were mostly of the grape and cheese variety. 

One of the nicest things to do when you’re visiting San Francisco is to head off into the hills for an afternoon of wine tasting – Sonoma and Napa Valley being the most convenient areas from the city.  You can hire a limo, join a group, or cajole (bully) a friend into being the designated driver (sucker). Blissful hours are spent wandering through vineyards, sipping on delectable vintages and trying to decide which of the cheeses you bought at the farmer’s market will go best with the 2010 Chardonnay you’ve just tasted.

Sounds idyllic, right? It is.

But days like this are a NIGHTMARE for anyone trying to eat healthily.

1. Wine is obviously high in calories.

2. Cheese goes amazingly well with wine. And cheese is also high in calories and potentially other not-so-healthy things like trans-fat.

3. When you have one glass of delicious wine, you want another. And another. And sure why don’t we buy a bottle for the limo.

4. You don’t drink enough water, so you’re thirsty, so you drink more wine.

5. At the end of the day you’re slightly buzzed so all you want is to eat carbs.

As a result of all of the above, my day was not the healthiest. So, I think I probably failed the Wine Tour challenge. But what are you supposed to do? Decline the invite and sit at home drinking green juices? Actually, that’s probably exactly what you’re supposed to do if you’re really dedicated to living a 100% healthy lifestyle. But, I still want to do fun things and live the full SF experience. I just need to be as healthy as possible.

So, what would the ideal healthy wine tour look like to me? I think it would mean going to wine country, doing the tastings, being able to choose your own healthy lunch (or bring your own picnic), not having any extra wine, drinking enough water and going home to a healthy, home-cooked meal.

Lesson learned.

But it was still a lovely day and I’m glad I was able to give my parents that experience.

As regards the details of what we did – we joined a tour group run by Valley Wine Tours in Sonoma. We visited some lovely wineries – my favourite being Jacuzzi, which had more Italian type wines. I did find an amazing Sauvignon Blanc in Bartholomew Park Winery as well. We had a lunch stop at Larson Family Winery, which was nice. They have dogs you can play with (I say play, but all they want is for you to feed them) and some fun lawn games to play. The tour itself was only OK I would say. I’ve heard rave reviews about the owner Bob, but we had a different driver.

Dinner that night was in Slanted Door on the Embarcadero, which has won a few awards. Tasty Vietnamese food and the views of the Bay Bridge at night are spectacular.

Tasting the wine

Tasting the wine


Lawn games at Larson Family Winery

Views of the Bay Bridge at night

Views of the Bay Bridge at night

Day 7: One week milestone!

  • Snack: 10 almonds
  • Exercise: 45 mins spin class
  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (half egg whites, half regular), sauteed escarole (I had never heard of this veg before), celery, coffee with milk
  • Lunch: Mixed salad with loads of veg, chicken, avocado
  • Snack: Half a carton of Chobani Greek yogurt and half a banana
  • Dinner: Kale salad with smoked salmon and chia seeds, apple cider vinegar, nectarine

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Today marked the one week milestone in my 100 Healthy Days in SF challenge. Whilst there are still 14.3 weeks left in the challenge I’m going to go right ahead and celebrate! Whilst the victory is small, I feel proud of myself for being consistent – both in terms of eating healthfully and blogging every day. Go me!

kale party

One week in and how do I feel? Not radically different- I obviously haven’t suddenly lost a stone or developed a six pack (not that I would want a six pack), but I do feel good. I feel slightly more alert and energetic than usual. I’ve also noticed that I’m not battling any major sugar cravings, which is amazing.

I was even able to go to Mitchell’s ice cream parlour in the Mission with my roommate last night and resist getting a scoop. Anyone who has ever been to this place will know how hard it is to say no. Their ice cream is goooood! Check them out. My fave is the Grasshopper Pie. Arrgghhh enough talk about ice cream.


Mitchell’s Ice Cream parlour in The Mission. Check them out! 688 San Jose Avenue


It just goes to show that even one week of healthy eating can have a positive effect on your well-being. I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel at the end!

Michelle x

Day 6: The 100 Healthy Days in SF Rules

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, steamed greens, raw red peppers, raw celery, coffee with milk

Exercise: 1 hour PT session

Lunch: Mixed salad with loads of veggies and grilled chicken, balsamic vinegar

Snack: Mixed salad with turkey and apple cider vinegar

Exercise: 1.5 hours hip hop class

Snack: One apple with a carton of plan chobani greek yogurt

Dandelion and nettle tea during the day


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Today was the first day back after vacation and I was ready to launch myself full throttle into the 100 Healthy Days challenge. I am feeling super motivated at the moment! May have something to do with all the fit bods on Venice.


Muscle Beach, Venice. There was a body building competition on!

I thought it might be a good idea to ‘jot down’ ‘on paper’ (funny how that expression is now practically obsolete with the internet) what the rules of my 100 Healthy Days challenge are. Health and healthy eating can mean different things to different people. As such, I best be specific about what I’m doing lest I draw the wrath of any health zealots out there. ‘You ate store-bought Greek yoghurt?!? That’s not healthy – you need to buy a cow, and a field and make your own.’


I’ve also decided to approach this in stages. I don’t think it’s a wise move to radically change everything about your diet and your daily habits in one go. I tried that once and I lasted one very miserable day before gorging myself on ALL of the carbs, meat, sugar, coffee, salt, dairy, cooked veg etc etc that I came across. 

So, for the next 14 days these are my rules:

1. No processed carbs – bread, crackers, pasta (I’ve decided tortilla chips are fine. I’m not ready to let go yet).

2. No sugary foods – chocolate, ice cream (arrrghhhh), cakes etc

3. When I go out for a meal and host a dinner party I will limit myself to one glass of wine

4. When I go out for drinks or a night on the town I will limit myself to three vodka sodas


Sound simple? In theory, but I know i’m going to find this challenging. Particularly, the alcohol rules. No jokes about the Irish liking to drink please. 😉 Even though it’s probably true.

Let’s do this!



The Canadian part of me loves rules.




Day 1 – the day before the vacay

  • Breakfast: Egg whites, steamed kale, chia seeds, raw red peppers and a large coffee 
  • Snack: Cherry tomatoes
  • Lunch: Chicken with mixed green salad
  • Snack: Carrots and aubergine dip
  • Dinner: Omelette with cheese and tomatoes and mixed green salad
  • Lots of water and nettle and dandelion tea
  • Exercise: Power Sculpt class, 1 hr


Day 1 Food


As today was the day before the big Cali road trip I tried to go as easy on the food as possible. It’s so hard to be 100% clean and healthy on vacation (and in fairness, kind of boring) so I kind of feel like as much good work as I can do beforehand the better. So this meant loads of water and herbal tea and no refined carbs or sugar – including sugar from fruit. It wasn’t 100% perfect – I accidentally had eggs twice and I could have done without the cheese but it was a good enough effort. Even my parents peer-pressuring me into having a glass of wine didn’t sway me!

And even though my quads were killing me from the workouts earlier in the week I dragged my butt along to the exercise class today. Squat-hell. But hopefully worth every minute.

Overall a good day, ending with some road trip planning with my Mom. Some exciting days ahead with some of the best scenery in the world!

Day 1 Food