Nov 14 2014

How to Scale Back at Happy Hour and Brunch

By Danielle Michels

eggbrunchBeing a D.C.-area resident comes with a wide array of perks, one of which being the amazing food scene.

Yeah, yeah New York City has great pizza, but here in D.C. we have entire meal times that are infinitely more delicious than any slice of pizza, for example brunch and happy hour (yes, I regard happy hour as a meal time).

And although these two D.C. food-time staples are something we can all regard with fondness (because who doesn’t love all-you-can-drink mimosas?) I think we can all agree brunches and happy hours can get the best of not just our wallets, but our waistlines, too.

So if you’re starting to feel a little more doughy lately, like all those chocolate croissants you’ve been eating, here’s some tips to scale back:

Don’t Take The Words “Bottomless” and “Endless” to Heart

I get it that we all want to get our money’s worth whenever we pay for the bottomless chips and guac or the brunch buffet, but just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

Pace yourself and take little portions of the things you want. Just like you’re supposed to eat slowly through other meals so your brain can come to the natural realization that you’re full before you’ve actually stuffed yourself, the same thing goes for happy hours and brunch.

bluetoastSet a limit and let yourself feel satisfied, but keep that boundary between content and feeling like you could roll yourself out of the restaurant.


Yes, you read that correctly. Before you hit the bar or the buffet, make sure you’ve had something to eat.

We’ve all experienced heading out to happy hour feeling a little hungry, so we’ll split some wings or nachos (and by split I mean, you let your friend have one or two) and then you fill up on a few beers, and before you know it you’ve actually consumed enough calories to make a whole meal, even though you still fully intend to eat dinner later.

Or how about the times you head to brunch starving because you deprived yourself of breakfast?

Let’s stop kidding ourselves, brunch is just lunch where we let ourselves be okay with eating indulgent breakfast food later than normal and drinking at noon.

I’m not saying you can’t order that cocktail or have the meal you want, but don’t go there with an empty stomach where your natural instinct to overeat sets in.

And remember, take-out boxes exist for a reason, it’s okay to not finish your meal and ask for one.

Pick One Indulgence

Happy hours and brunches in and of themselves are an indulgence in my opinion. We really shouldn’t be doing happy hours every night of the week or brunch every single weekend, but to each their own.

However, if you are going to indulge in these events more often, you’ve got to make healthier choices while you’re attending.

Thankfully, many of D.C.’s hotspots are putting locally-sourced, fresh and health-conscious items on the menu, so choosing an item that doesn’t break the caloric bank isn’t too difficult if you go to good places. Find a salad loaded with vegetables or make sure to get a side of protein and vitamin-rich eggs with your short stack of pancakes.


Not only will hosting your own happy hour or brunch ease up the tightness of your wallet, but anytime you make things at home your work pants will be less tight, too.

Obviously hosting your own brunch or happy hour isn’t exactly comparable to a restaurant in D.C., but you may find it’s actually a fun change of pace to host people at your place.

Have everyone B.Y.O.B. or bring a dish for a brunch potluck and I think you’ll find that it’s not just a nice alternative to your regular ritual, but you’ll not feel like you did as much damage to your body since it’s easier to make healthy choices from home.

Nov 10 2014

VIDA No Added Sugar Official Rules

No added natural or artificial sweeteners of any kind for 21 days!

no-sugarThis includes ALL sweeteners such as honey, stevia, pure maple syrup, molasses or agave nectar. Fruits, vegetables and foods that come from the earth do not have any added sugars, so enjoy them. The key word is added. No loopholes, no exceptions: zero added sweeteners for 21 days.

Read the ingredient list! All sweeteners listed below are off limits for the challenge, so learn the hidden sources of sugar below. In general, avoid foods with the words “sugar”, “syrup”, “juice” or anything ending in “-ose” in the ingredients.

Names for Sugar:

Barley malt
Buttered syrup
Cane juice crystals
Cane juice
Corn syrup
Corn syrup solids
Carob syrup
Diastatic malt
Ethyl maltol
Evaporate cane juice solids
Fruit juice concentrate
Glucose solids
Golden syrup
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Malt syrup
Maple syrup
Rice syrup

In terms of a shopping list, it’s easy! Buy fresh foods that don’t come in packages. These include, but are not limited to fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, plain nuts, plain seeds, beans, whole grains (that you have to boil) and oils.

Check out the list below for some grocery staples to which you may need to give a second look. Many brands will contain sugar, but some will not. Plan to spend a little extra time in the grocery store these 3 weeks.

Beware! These Foods May Have Sugar:

Almond Milk
Soy Milk
Marinara Sauce
Hot Sauce (siracha has sugar)
BBQ Sauce
Salad Dressings
Deli Meat
Rotisserie Chickens
Any Pre-Marinated/Seasoned Meat
Baked Beans
Packaged Oatmeal
Peanut Butter

Nov 10 2014

VIDA Fitness 2014 No Added Sugar Challenge

Join VIDA Fitness in eliminating added sugars. For the next 3 weeks our Registered Dietitian will provide you with tips and tricks for avoiding the sweet stuff during the hardest time of year for a sugar lover. You can view the rules by clicking here.

no-sugarVIDA members and non-members are encouraged to take this challenge. Everything will take place online, so you do not have to be in town to participate. Get your friends, family and co-workers on board; make bets, put your pride on the line, set the stakes high. This is no easy feat, but we will provide daily support to make sure you succeed.

Benefits of Signing Up

1. Exclusive access to tons of resources including hidden sugar sources, shopping lists, recipes and FAQs

2. Group message board access to communicate directly with other participants and Registered Dietitians

3. Confirming your commitment publicly by posting your picture on the “Accountability Board”

4. Kickoff Dec. 2nd

5. Daily support via group site

6. The chance to win a free session with our Registered Dietician!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I eat fruit?
Yes! Please do. The naturally occurring sugars in fruit provide a good source of carbohydrate, fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Dried fruit is allowed, too.

Is alcohol allowed?
Yes, alcohol is allowed. Some participants may choose to eliminate alcohol for maximum benefits, but you do NOT have to avoid any alcohol without added sugars for the purpose of this challenge. For example, beer, wine, or liquor with club soda is fine; margaritas and whiskey cokes are off limits.

Doesn’t bread have added sugar? Does it count?
Yes, bread often has added sugar. Yes, it does count. Take a careful look at the ingredient list for hidden sources of sugar. Most sprouted grain breads, such as Ezekiel Sprouted Whole Grain Bread, do not have added sugar and are a great choice.

I noticed that some packaged foods say that have sugar in the nutrition facts panel, but they don’t list any added sugar ingredients. What’s the deal?
These foods have naturally occurring sugar, but no added sugar. They ARE permitted. Double-check the list of common names for sugar that you may not be aware of.

I can’t drink coffee without added sugar. Help!
This challenge is for you! We want to help you rid the need for sugar in food and drinks. If you can’t stand black coffee, add a splash of unsweetened milk or almond milk or try this creamer recipe.

My protein powder has added sugar or stevia. What do you suggest as an alternative?
Our primary recommendation – eat FOOD: meat, eggs, plain Greek yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, peanut butter and beans are all awesome sources of protein and can provide adequate protein for the average person.
Check out this 100% Whey Protein without added sugar:
Here is a Vegan, Rice Protein option:

I am an endurance athlete; is it safe for me to participate? What should I take in for nutrition during exercise?
Yes, you can participate. Ensure adequate carbohydrate intake by consuming fruits, vegetables and whole grains without added sugars regularly throughout the day.
For long runs or rides, simple sugars are essential for fueling muscles. While dried fruit and fruit leathers may work, they contain fiber, which can mess with your digestion. If you are an endurance athlete, I recommend making an exception for long distance training and continue your current nutrition program, consuming added sugars ONLY DURING DISTANCE TRAINING.

I have a pestering sweet tooth. What do I do?
Reach for a piece of fruit. Try frozen grapes, grilled pineapple or baked apples.

Will I experience withdrawals?
You may experience withdrawals, such as headaches, fatigue and irritability. This shouldn’t last longer than a few days. Have a game plan for those moments: try drinking water, sipping herbal tea or eating a piece of fruit.

What if I blow it
You can’t undo what’s been done so pull up your bootstraps and keep moving.

Nov 10 2014

Member Spotlight: Sarah and Eleanor — iRIDE Attendees

By Danielle Michels
VIDA Blogger

After taking iRIDE at Navy Yards, I caught up with two of the ladies who were pushing it hard in class!

Sarah and Eleanor are both new Navy Yards members, Sarah joined VIDA Navy Yards right before the grand opening, and Eleanor joined VIDA in September after moving to D.C. from New York.

iridepartsHere’s what they had to say about iRIDE:

iRIDE is relatively new, how many classes have you taken?

Eleanor: This is my first time taking Joel’s class. Although, I’ve been taking other spin classes since I joined in September.

Sarah: This is my second class.

What do you like about the format of iRIDE versus other spin classes? Because as Joel made sure to mention, iRIDE isn’t just an ordinary spin class.

Eleanor: The routine almost feels like your in a choreographed dance class because you’re not just moving your legs, but also your arms and abs. It makes for a great total body workout that you don’t get with every type of spin class.

Sarah: I love the music and I like that the class incorporates other parts of your body, for example, your arms are engaged with the weights and pushups on the bike. Also, the music makes the class fly by!

What’s your favorite part of iRIDE? At what part of the class are you pumped up to push even harder?

Eleanor: The whole class really. It kind of feels like you’re dancing, and the rhythm that’s in sync with the cycle movements and exercises on the bike is so much fun. Whenever a song that comes on that involves some choreography I feel like I can push a little harder than I already am.

Sarah: Usually when you sprint and try to get to 130 RPMs, I can’t do it, but in this class I think the pace and the rhythm of the class allow you to get there so much easier because you’re distracted by how much fun you’re having. So whenever Joel says to pick up the pace and go, it’s exciting to be able to reach that goal.

What other workouts and classes do you both participate in outside of the cycle studio?

Eleanor: I take Joel’s HIIT class and I love that one. Actually I took that before this class, just went downstairs, grabbed a protein shake, and good to go!

(After Eleanor told us she took Joel’s HIIT class right before iRIDE Sarah and my jaws dropped for a good minute and I completely forgot to get Sarah’s answer to this one.)

What’s your favorite thing about going to group fitness classes?

Eleanor: Honestly, I look at the other people in the class and they give me a lot of motivation to keep pushing and to keep coming back week after week.

Sarah: I think having somebody else guiding you and keeping your workout in control and continually pushing you is what keeps me coming back. And when Joel comes over near my bike I definitely pick up the pace!

To see when iRIDE is offered at Navy Yards and Metropole, take a look at our group fitness schedules!

Nov 6 2014

VIDA Fitness Food of the Week: Grapefruit

grapefruitGrapefruit is in the part of the citrus paradisi family, originally from Jamaica. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, and also contains potassium and folic acid. It also has digestive, antiseptic, and diuretic properties. Red grapefruit is also a great source of Vitamin A.

Health Benefits: Packed with antioxidants, grapefruit provides cardiovascular, anti-cancer, and immune system benefits.

Use: Add to salads and smoothies, enjoy as a pre-workout snack, or pair with walnuts as a mid-day energy boost.

Toss together segments from 1 grapefruit with 1 julienned cucumber, ½ a diced red apple, and chunks of ½ a small avocado. Top with grilled shrimp and drizzle with cilantro-lime dressing.

Nov 5 2014

What NOT To Do This Holiday Season

holiday-eating-caution-sign1. Don’t just assume you’re going to gain weight this holiday season, and throw in the towel. The average American gains 2 pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Now, if you don’t work any of it off, this accumulates to 20 pounds per decade. BUT, consider this. Two pounds equals 7,000 calories. If you can focus on burning 200 extra calories per day this season (or eating 200 fewer calories) you won’t have to spend January “making up for December”. Instead, you’ll have the chance to positively move forward with a wholesome nutrition plan and an exercise regimen in place.
2. Don’t skimp on traditions. Just include some new activities to the mix! For instance, my big family bundles up and goes on a post-Christmas-feast walk (3 miles to be exact, but anything is better than nothing!) We also add great and tasty nutrient-dense alternatives to some of the extra caloric, yet nothing-good-to-offer-your-body dishes. This year we added a Kale & Brussels sprouts salad and Asparagus, Beet and Goat Cheese Salad. It’s great having some light bites to accompany the heavier ones.
3.Don’t skip meals. Example: Skipping lunch ‘cause you know you’re “going to eat 10 pigs-in-a-blanket at the office party”. We’ve all done it, but skipping meals only leads to overindulgence. Instead, follow your normal eating schedule, including wholesome foods and a snack before leaving the house. You’ll still get to enjoy your traditional favorites without feeling like a ravenous vulture.
4. Don’t park yourself in front of the buffet table for the night. Find somewhere to socialize away from the table of food. It’s remarkable how much more you’ll eat at a holiday party by standing at the buffet table all night.
5. Don’t remember the indulgence dish and forget the nutritious one. For every plate of indulgence, bring a platter of fruit kabobs or a veggie tray.
6. Don’t let the cold weather get the best of you. There are plenty of ways to exercise indoors. At VIDA, group fitness classes are extremely motivational. When stuck at home, workout DVD’s are a quick and thorough way to burn calories without stepping into the cold.
7. Don’t forget to plan ahead. Keep ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator to help curb those cravings and keep you full. (Sliced bell peppers, carrots, grape tomatoes, celery, snap peas, strawberries, mango, cantaloupe, grapes, apples, and bananas.) Dip veggies in hummus or yogurt dip if you don’t enjoy them plain.
8. Don’t deprive yourself. It’s the holidays! Deprivation is not natural, nor is it fun. Yes, we all have our goals, but that doesn’t mean “run as fast as you can to the side of the spectrum where you don’t eat anything but fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains at Christmas”. In fact, once you decide that deprivation is not the answer, being healthy becomes attainable and more realistic.
9. Don’t forget about the Plate. When planning all your traditional meals and celebrations, be mindful of USDA’S My Plate model, and make your meal look at least a little more like it!

Eat This, Not That


*Beef Tenderloin: 328 calories, 14 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat
Prime Rib: 806 calories, 54 grams fat, 29 grams saturated fat

Side Dish
*Herb Roasted Potatoes: 100 calories, 5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat m
Loaded baked Potato: 400 calories, 14 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat

*Chocolate Fondue: 340 calories, 10 grams fat, 20 grams sugar
Pecan Pie: 610 calories, 45 grams fat, 15 grams saturated fat, 32 grams sugar

*Hot Chocolate: 120 calories, 4 grams fat, 15 grams sugar
Eggnog: 350 calories, 19 grams fat, 22 grams sugar

Nov 3 2014

VIDA Class Spotlight: iRIDE

By Danielle Michels
VIDA Blogger

iride1When I was assigned iRIDE as my next VIDA Fitness blogging/workout adventure I didn’t give it much thought other than I was going to a spin class. Oh, how I was wrong.

Usually when I’m reviewing a class I’ll do some preliminary research on the format, but this time around I figured, “how different could a spin class be?”

Well, for starters, as Joel (my instructor for the 11:30 a.m. Saturday iRIDE class at Navy Yards) clearly stated to the class before any pedals were moving, “This is not a spin class!”

My initial thought, “Holy crap, what have I signed up for?”

Well, just so you know before you adventure in to this class, “iRIDE is a unique, 45-minute cycling workout that challenges your body and engages your mind. Weights are incorporated into segments of the ride, and their use is inspired by different disciplines, such as boxing and Karate.”

And despite my blind expectations of it being just another spin class, I’m so happy it wasn’t. While I think of a traditional spin class as simply a nice break in my weight training routine (because I typically hate cardio with the fiery passion of a million suns and need someone to push me), this was more than just a cardio mix-up day.

iRIDE was challenging, exhilarating, preconceived-notion-breaking and by far one of the most fun fitness experiences I’ve ever had.

Yes, we biked, but unlike spin where your entire class is basically just switching between a flat road and climbs and looking at your revolutions per minute, iRIDE is completely focused on gear changes and utilizing your body on the bike rather than being glued to it for 45 minutes.

Over the course of the class you’ll do a little work in the seat, some sprints, quite a few jumps as well as standing climbs. However, you’ll do all that while mixing in fun stuff like arm moves using your 3-pound weights, switching up your hand positions with choreographed sequences and feeding off the energy in the room (rarely do you see a class where almost everyone is smiling during one of the hardest sequences, but you really can’t help it in iRIDE).

Now before you embark on your first iRIDE class, here’s a few things you should know:

• This is an any-level fitness class. Not a beginners class or an advanced class, it’s for literally anyone. Whether you’re looking to build cardiovascular endurance, increase slow-twitch muscle strength, or find a mind-body connection in your workouts, iRIDE has something to offer you. So don’t be intimidated if you’ve never done indoor cycling before because even experienced indoor cyclists will be learning something new. iRIDE is also designed in a way that fosters growth no matter where you’re at in your fitness journey.

• You don’t need to bring any equipment other than your body and a bottle of water. You don’t need to have special clip-in cycling shoes, but all of the bikes are compatible with SPD cleats just in case you do choose to purchase a pair or already own them.

• iRIDE is part of the normal group fitness schedule, which means it is included in your membership and you can take the class at no additional cost.

So far iRIDE has only been offered at VIDA Yards (which you should really come see if you haven’t had the chance), but it’s coming to Metropole this month through December on:

– Tuesdays at 7:45 p.m. with Hansen
– Fridays at 6:45 p.m. with Paul
– Sundays at 1:15 p.m. with Sonja

If you’re not a member of The Yards location, just let your membership consultant know you would like to take an iRIDE class, and they’ll set you up with a pass to go try it out.
Chances are you’ll also see me there when you go because now I’m hooked, and I’m willing to bet you will be too!

Nov 2 2014

Instructor Spotlight: Joel Patton

IMG_0543Joel is a Washington DC native, and Cycling and Interval Training is just one of the ways he’s found community in the city. Though his primary career as an IT Specialist in the Federal government and Doctoral student can pull him away from the studio at times, you can expect a challenging, but fun ride each time you take class with him. Learn a little more about Joel below!
1. Why did you decide to become an indoor cycling and group exercise instructor?

Several years ago, I looked to fitness after experiencing some self-esteem issues due to stresses from my personal life and career. After participating in a variety of classes and disciplines, I found the indoor cycling and interval training classes made me stronger and brought out my passion and inner drive while having great music to zone out to! I love to teach both!

2. What’s one thing you want all your first-time class participants to know?

I want my participants to know that we are all in this together! You’re not alone. I’m here to cheer you on with every step or pedal stroke. That’s all it takes! I like them to know that I always provide modifications because it is a journey. Try not to have pre-conceived notions or compare themselves to the next participant. Just come on in and be ready for a great and challenging time.

3. When you’re not squeezing another sprint out of your students, where can they find you?

Home! I am a homebody and just love to enjoy my downtime when I get the opportunity!

4. How are your classes different from other instructors’?

I love to MOVE and I love to play music that compels me to do that in order to affect the mood of the environment. I love to play fun music and that ranges from Top 40, Dance/Club, Rap/Hip-Hop, Old School R&B, Booty Bass Music. I like to choose the type of music that energizes and motivates others to put in the work to the point that they may forget that they are even working out. I like to keep my students engaged by incorporating plenty of drills to keep them fully engaged, thinking, moving and pushing harder.

5. Tell us something we don’t know about you!

In my fun loving spirit, I have a playful alter ego and he goes by the name “Juicy J II” (inspired by the rapper Juicy J). I got that nickname from my friends and other students that noticed that when I really start to feel the music or if I am just in the mood, that part comes out of me and I’ll rap, dance, interact even more with the students. This is something that I love to do, so I just want to continue providing a positive and exciting experience for members!

Vida Fitness
City Vista 45 K Street, NW Washington D.C. 20001
(202) 289-8432 Facebook Twitter Instagram

City Vista

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:00am – 11:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm

Phone: (202) 289-8432

$ 45 K Street, NW Washington D.C. 20001
Vida Fitness
Metropole 1517 15th Street, NW Washington D.C. 20005
(202) 588-5559 Facebook Twitter Instagram


Phone: (202) 588-5559

$ 1517 15th Street, NW Washington D.C. 20005

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:00am – 11:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm

Vida Fitness
Renaissance Hotel 999 9th Street, NW, 3rd Floor Washington D.C. 20001
(202) 742-1940 Facebook Twitter Instagram

Renaissance Hotel

Phone: (202) 742-1940

$ 999 9th Street, NW, 3rd Floor Washington D.C. 20001

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:30am – 10:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 6:00 am – 10:00pm

Vida Fitness
U Street 1612 U Street, NW Washington D.C. 20009
(202) 939-2577 Facebook Twitter Instagram

U Street

Phone: (202) 939-2577

$ 1612 U Street, NW Washington D.C. 20009

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:00am – 11:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm

Vida Fitness
Verizon 601 F Street, NW Washington D.C. 20004
(202) 393-8432 Facebook Twitter Instagram


Phone: (202) 393-8432

$ 601 F Street, NW Washington D.C. 20004

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:00am – 11:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm

Vida Fitness
The Yards 1212 4th Street, SE Washington D.C, 20003
(202) 554-0444 Facebook Twitter Instagram

The Yards

Phone: (202) 554-0444

$ 1212 4th Street, SE Washington D.C, 20003

Open: Mon-Fri: 5:00am – 11:00pm

Open: Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00pm