Workout review: Orangetheory

I’m staying in Atlanta for most of this week, so trying out Orangetheory Fitness was a must on my list after reading about it on well+GOOD. And, after the hour-long workout and 461 burned cals later, I’m glad I did. Totally worth the three (four) Uber drivers that couldn’t find the location to pick me up later that day.

What is Orangetheory? 

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1. It’s a company that launched in Florida in 2010 with a workout concept that combines treadmill intervals, water rowers, strength training (using weights, TRX systems and medicine balls) and abs in a 60 minute workout.

2. It’s designed to maximize the effect known as afterburn (formally known as EPOC or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). It sounds more complicated than it is. Just know that high-intensity training sessions force the body to work harder and longer to build its oxygen stores back up resulting in more calories burned than if you’d exercised at a lower intensity for the same or even longer period of time.

3. You wear a heart rate monitor during class so that you can see your heart rate zones on a screen as you work out and keep track of how hard you’re working and pushing yourself. The goal is to work out as much as you can in the “orange” and “red” zones. The orange begins at 84% of your max heart rate (subtract your age from 220). Everyone has their own max heart rate and therefore their own orange zone.

My experience:

When I first arrived (they ask that you arrive 30 minutes early for your first session), the class instructor, Alana, walked me through the heart rate zones and gave me a tour of the studio. She was super helpful and very clear in her description. 

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At 8:45 a.m. on the dot class began. Half the class starts on the treadmill and half with the weights. My first “learn as you go” experience started with finding my “base” pace and “push” pace. Base should be a pace that you can keep up for 25 minutes. Push is when you start to feel uncomfortable and wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation. Sprint is obviously all out. Alana led us through intervals based on those paces. The more you go Orangetheory, the better you’ll get at pushing yourself. It took me a few rounds to figure out what speeds I should be running.

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After 10 minutes on the treadmill, we switched over to the weights. We did circuits of single-leg bench squats and pause squats 10 minutes. Then, it was back to the treadmill for a different round of intervals. The back to the weights for something new. Rinse and repeat for approximately 50 minutes. We then did water rowing intervals for five minutes, which is one of my favorite full-body workouts you can do. The last five minutes we hit the mat for abs which included planks, scissors and sit-ups.

After class, you get emailed a rather detailed report of your workout, including how many calories you burned and how long you spent in each zone.


  • Expensive? Kind of. Single classes are $34, but packages are much more reasonable.
  • The pros: Class-like environment that also caters to the individual in that you are in control of how fast you run and how much weight you lift… Love seeing how much I’m really maxing out my heart rate in real time on a big screen… The mix of “cardio” and “weights” really gives you a full-body workout… Every class is different in its mix of treadmill usage and weight-based exercises… It’s hard to plateau because as you get better, your base, push and sprint speeds increase! (<<< my favorite part)
  • The cons: None that I found! However…

Can’t you do interval-based treadmill running on your own? And can’t you lift weights on your own? Yes and yes. If you love taking classes, being held accountable by a teacher, and letting tangible numbers lead the way for how hard you work, then this is for you. Otherwise, you can get away with a set of barbells, a trusty old treadmill and a commitment to intervals for 60 minutes for the same workout.



Upper (body) & Under (Armour)

Today was tough. Love working upper body though.

A1 Bench press (3×10)

A2 Single arm pulls (Each arm – 3×10)

B1 Bent over barbell rows (3×10)

B2 Cable crossover (3×10)

C1 Smith machine pull (3×10)

C2 Smith machine push (3×10)

D1 Treadmill pushes (30 seconds on, 10 seconds off, 10 seconds on, twice) – Grueling!!!!

D2 Plate raises (10 each – triceps, overhead, chest up, horizontal, chest down; 20 – hip to hip, twice)

  • Treadmill pushes are a great way to skyrocket your heart rate after a lifting session. It’s running on the treadmill while it’s off. Grip the sides of the treadmill and keep your head low. Maintain the same pace throughout!
  • Smith machine pulls are no joke. They’re also one of my favorite ways to work biceps. Improve each time by moving your feet further away from you, so you have more of your body to pull up to the bar.
  • YouTube these workouts if you don’t know what they are.

*** Link of the day – Here is how Under Armour grew from its humble beginnings to a $15 billion industry. I cover Notre Dame football as a sports writer, and last year Under Armour signed its biggest deal ever with a college team when it signed with the Irish ($90 mil). Under Armor reps were also at my gym today. They’re in town (Indianapolis) for the NFL combine this week as they work on re-upping their shoe deal with Cam Newton. The cleats the Panthers signal-caller dawned this past season were sweet.





Two tricks to get more avo in your diet

Confession: I don’t like the taste of avocado. I know, who (especially in the nutrition/fitness industry) doesn’t like this green healthy fat?! I just can’t get myself to adopt to the taste.

But avocado is so good for you and provides potassium (twice as much as a banana), 4 g protein, just .2 g of sugar, and 11 g of fiber. Plus three-fourths of cals in an avo are made up of healthy fats.

For those reasons I searched for other ways besides some avo on my toast in the a.m. to get its nutrients. It’s amazing how easy avocado is to disguise in recipes, especially when it comes to baking and juicing. It has the perfect creamy texture to substitute for butter, mayo and even bananas when you want to go low-sugar.

Here are my two favorite ways to eat avocado. The first could be a dessert it’s that good! I know there are few chocolate-avocado mousse recipes floating around out there, but I kept experimenting with my own ingredients until I thought I perfected it.


1. Chocolate-avocado mousse

– 2 ripe avocados

– 1/2 cup creamed coconut, chilled

– 1/4 cup cocao powder

– 1 tsp liquid stevia drops or brown rice malt syrup (honey or granulated stevia works too)

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– 1 tsp ground cinnamon

– pinch of salt

– cacao nibs, cinnamon chips, berries for topping (optional)

Blend all the ingredients except for the nibs until you have a creamy mixture. Refrigerate for at least an hour and a half before eating (This makes a big difference!). Enjoy!

2. Avocado cupcakes with avocado orange buttercream icing

These cupcakes are seriously amazing. They come from Laura Lea, a chef based out of Nashville. I have yet to try out a recipe of hers that I don’t become obsessed with.

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Here’s the link to these cupcakes. Trust me, you don’t need to tweak a thing. However, I used brown rice malt syrup instead of maple syrup because Sarah Wilson is pretty dang convincing.

***I do like guac, but haven’t found a homemade recipe that disguises the avocado enough haha. My attempt at making Chipotle’s just doesn’t taste the same! Try the recipe yourself here.



Food for the occassion

I wanted to do a post about what I whipped up for Super Bowl Sunday because the food was just so good, easy and healthy. Didn’t even feel like I missed out on Papa John’s!

Dinner was a taco bar, complete with Ezekiel tortillas (made with real whole grain and containing 80 cals, 14 g carbs and 3 g protein), shredded cheddar cheese, lettuce, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, pico, limes and grass-fed beef. Note: Look at the ingredient list of any “grain” item you buy. If sugar, corn starch or enriched bleached flour is on the list, forget about it! In Ezekiel products you’ll find good-for-you carbs like wheat, barley, millet, spelt and lentils.

Before we dove into the tacos at half, I had some apps out including sweet potato fries with blueberry ketchup, chocolate chip cookie cough dip, and pineapple.

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It was my first time making the sweet potato fries and I was so happy how they turned out. Sweet potatoes are a great carb source and they’re packed with fiber, potassium and Vitamin A. The “blueberry ketchup” topped it off to make it seem like what we were eating was too good to actually be healthy.

Sweet potato fries with blueberry ketchup


2-4 large sweet potatoes

2 tbsp almond flour

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tbsp sea salt

Lots of cinnamon! (to taste)

Stevia (optional, to taste)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Cut your sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut the sweet potatoes evenly into even fry shapes and place into a large bowl.

Sprinkle almond flour over the uncooked fries and use your hands to gently toss potatoes and flour together to lightly coat the sweet potatoes. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the fries and toss with your hands, adding more if you feel the fries are not LIGHTLY coated. Sprinkle whatever spices you’d like onto the fries (I use cinnamon) and gently toss again.

Spread sweet potatoes evenly on your baking sheet(s), making sure that they aren’t touching each other. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip fries with a spatula, and bake for 10-15 minutes more or until the fries are golden brown and crispy. While cooking, sprinkle stevia (to taste) if desired). Do not over bake or they will burn. A little caramelization on the edges of the fries is a good thing, though. Sprinkle more cinnamon on top once they’re finished cooking.


2 cups blueberries

4 tsp minced garlic

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp dry ginger

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/16 tsp pure stevia

Bring all ingredients to a boil. Simmer 25 minutes. Chill in the fridge.

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The chocolate chip cookie dough dip will be a staple for yearssss to come. Crowd-pleaser no matter the audience. I tweaked mine a little from She has great recipes.

Chocolate chip cookie dough dip

1 1/2 cups chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed very well)

1/4 cup brown rice malt syrup (or honey)

1/4 cup almond butter

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

3 tbsp gluten-free oats

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/8 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup chocolate chips

Add all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) to food processor, and process until very smooth. Then mix in the chocolate chips. I served with water crackers. Fruit would work great as well.



Valentine’s Day at home

Thanks Mimiblue for the amazing meatballs for Valentine’s Day dinner! Turkey with cilantro and the special pork were our favorites. Cooked the rest of dinner at home, sides of vegetables, sweet potato fries, and pineapple. Dessert was homemade strawberry-banana ice cream topped with almond butter, pistachios and honey.

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Recipe for the sweet potato fries will be up soon!

Strawberry-banana ice cream:

Serves 2

– 2 1/2 frozen bananas

– Approx. 8 strawberries

– 7 cubes of ice

– 1 tsp stevia

Blend for 2 minutes and stick in the freezer for an hour. Top with a dollop of almond butter, a few pistachios and a drizzle of honey.