Beatles Love, Wolfgang Puck, ‘Wichcraft

On Saturday morning I woke up at an ungodly hour for Las Vegas–like 8 a.m. But I was rested and excited to start my day. Michael, the poor boy having crawled into bed at 4 a.m., was still asleep so I snuck out and went to the gym in the Monte Carlo. The gym was small and crowded when I got there. My plan was to run on the treadmill or use the elliptical but they were all full so I hopped on the exercise bike instead. It was that new fancy Tour de France spin bike and it was super nice.

I got in a fantastic bike workout in about an hour and then headed back to the room to get cleaned up.

Michael was becoming one of the living around that time and we showered and went downstairs to the Cafe in the Monte Carlo. I’d eaten there once before with my friend Robyn but we split a huge piece of chocolate cake, so I had no idea if the meals were actually decent. ūüėČ I ordered a boring breakfast–two fried eggs with bacon, sourdough toast and hashbrowns (I ate a few bites only of those) and lots and lots of coffee.

The food turned out to be really good at the Cafe. After breakfast we played tourist. This is the fourth vacation to Vegas so I’ve seen most of the touristy things but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy doing them every time! Vegas is seriously what you make it. You can have a blast–AND save money–or you can live decadently and indulge. Either way, you can have fun.

So tourists! We walked around the Strip for most of the day. It was pretty overcast but muggy and warm. Neither Michael nor I had ever been to Aria or City Center (they were still building it last time) so that was first on the list. It looked like a really nice place but nothing really stood out as amazing to either of us. But, if you want, you can buy a humongous dragon made entirely out of chocolate.

Next, Michael wanted to check out the poker room at Caesar’s Palace and then I wanted to see the Bellagio atriums because there are always cool flowers and art there.

Finally, it was lunch time. We’d ended up at the MGM so we got sandwiches at Tom Collichio’s ‘Wichcraft restaurant. I ordered the gruyere and caramelized onion panini on rye bread and it was delicious. The rye bread was a bit overpowering; I felt like a sourdough bread would have been better, but I was famished and starting to feel cranky from low blood sugar and fatigue.

Michael says this picture says “Lisa’s cranky, feed her.” And I concur.

After lunch we split up and Michael played poker while I did some shopping and gambling on my own. He had a surprise for me for that evening, but I didn’t know what it was yet. After a few hours, we met up at the hotel room to get changed for dinner and the surprise!

For dinner we went to Wolfgang Puck’s at the MGM. We split an order of the cheeseburger and it was to die for–one of the best burgers I’ve ever had–far surpassing anything that I thought was great in Portland. It had a caramelized onion JAM on it and avocado. Every messy bite was totally worth every single calorie I ate. LOVED it.

We also split the mac n’ cheese, which was just ok (not as good as Martha’s) and the Brussels sprouts.

We ordered too much food. Period. There was no way we could have eaten all of that, which was a shame because it was all delicious. The Brussels sprouts were cooked in oil, garlic and I think the juice of a lemon or orange. I definitely saw orange zest on them.

I had a hard time stopping eating, they were so good. After dinner we went to The Mirage to see the Beatles Love show! That was Michael’s surprise and it was a fantastic one! I’ve never seen a Cirque show in Vegas and that was the one I really wanted to see. We had some time to kill before the show started so I played some roulette (and quadrupled my money).

The show was absolutely amazing. I can’t believe how much I am gushing over my weekend in Vegas, but truly it was one great time after another. We were seated in the 5th row of the theatre and every single moment of Love was mesmerizing and exciting. The music was great and there were too many moments to count that I had tears in my eyes. What an amazing, wonderful, spellbinding evening.

Needless to say, we both collapsed into bed as soon as we got back to the Monte Carlo and I wasn’t conscious until 10 a.m. the next day!

QUESTION: Have you seen any Cirque shows? What was your favorite?

Visualize a Wall

This week was a good week for me in the gym. I was feeling strong and positive about my body. Before my Spin class I hit the treadmill and had the BEST run I’ve had since I started up again. I started out at a 5.0 speed instead of slowly warming up and I really felt like I couldn’t go fast enough. it felt fantastic!

I think part of the reason was that I got distracted by that Super Nanny show on TV. Man are those kids monsters on that show! I’m sure that’s the point of the show, but still….Before I knew it, I had run a fast (for me) mile and I kept going. Then I looked down and I’d run 1.25! It was such a nice boost.

I went to Spin after my run and settled in for lots and lots of climbs. I realized something in my class. By going easy on myself in Spin class, I was just cheating myself for when I went back outside on my bike. I was doing the same workout as the teacher, similar resistance, but babying my body. I was so afraid of setting the resistance too hard and hurting my knee, I thought it was better, smarter, to reduce it. Instead of protecting myself, I think I was wasting my time. I wasn’t challenging myself as much as I needed to and I was really just going through the cardio motions.

This recent spin class was different. When the instructor said “8 out of 10 challenging climb” I actually cranked up that knob until it WAS challenging for me. NOT just a “sort of challenge that didn’t risk anything” kind of workout. And guess what? It rocked.

While I was on the bike, doing these very challenging seated climbs where it was a struggle just to propel my feet and legs each rotation, I visualized that monster hill in the Portland Century. It was the kind of hill that was short but straight up–really, it was a wall right in front of me. It was the kind of hill where cyclists gave up before they even started to climb it, and instead walked their bikes up. It was the kind of wall hill that I wanted more than anything to conquer on my bike–without giving up half way up like everyone else.

I remembered what I felt like when I was trying to climb that hill last summer. I remembered how the air in my lungs were burning as I gasped in and out like a fish on land. I remembered how my thighs and quad muscles were scorching in pain and my body was burning every little last bit of energy I had left to make it up that wall. And I remembered how wobbly and happy I felt once I reached the top. I used that visualization to get through the “8 out of 10 challenging climb” in the class. It was hard, but nowhere near as challenging as that wall.

I was glad I pushed myself in the class, challenging my body to do what I’ve been training to do: climb hills. My legs are strong. The muscles in my legs are bigger. They can take it. They¬†want¬†those challenges. So while the music in the gym was pulsating in my ears and sweat was dripping down the back of my neck, I hunkered down and just focused on that wall that I climbed last summer. I closed my eyes and thought about every single moment and every single pedal rotation until I was through it. It felt awesome!

Gym Stats:

Time: 1:38
Calories Burned: 649
Distance: 1.28 mile run, 15 mile bike 

That being said, this is just a friendly reminder to anyone else working out, taking fitness classes, trying to get in shape….

[blackbirdpie id=”172492444800266240″]

How many people out there can say that they’ve just been “going through the motions” and not really challenging themselves? I admitted it! And I changed that. I pushed myself to the brink and felt happy, energized and inspired after doing so. Let’s all get out of our “going through the motions” funk.

I got home from the gym to find a magnificent feast waiting for me! It was magnificent for two reasons: 1) I was absolutely famished and burst into the house kinda like Kool-Aid Guy and 2) I didn’t have to do any of it! Michael cooked the steak and the veggies without any of my participation, which was kinda nice. I just stood there and enjoyed the jalapeno and garlic stuffed green olives his mom brought us back from California:

The jalapeno stuffed olives were awesome and SPICY! I ate about 5 of them. Then dinner was ready. It was nice to have these green things again:

The steak was thick: my cut was about 1.5 servings or just under that because there was actually a lot of fat on one side. The Brussels sprouts were sauteed in grapeseed oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and had some bacon in it. Yes, I know I was eating steak and bacon but Brussels sprouts are so damn good with bacon!

The dinner felt like a hearty, caveman-diet. Meat. Green food. More Meat. Wine. RAWR! But it was tasty. And exactly what I needed after my challenging workout. The positive run and the positive spin class boosted my mood tremendously. I cannot express just how great I felt.

QUESTION: What do you visualize when you need that extra boost?