The Weekend Update with Alena

Happy Friday everyone!

Though the weather in New York is anything but pleasant at the moment, this weekend is swarming with fitness events happening in the city. You can read all about them in my blog post for the FiTMAPPED Blog here.

I, myself, am planning on attending the Buns n’ Biscuits event, which combines bootcamp and brunch (who can say no to brunch?) and the Wanderlust Yoga in the City event, which features outdoor yoga classes taught by local instructors, live music, and post-savasana dance parties, taking yoga to another dimension.

What fitness events stand out to you? What do you do to keep fit on the weekends? Comment below and let me know!


The 5-Minute, Out-the-Door, Summer Salad

Think you don’t have time in the morning to prep your lunch for the day? Think again.

I must admit, I’ve been lacking in the “food-prep-the-night-before” department this week. Sure, on Sunday I had good intentions and cooked a large batch of wild rice meant to last an entire week, chopped up a few fresh vegetables, and bagged up pre-measured carrots and almonds to grab as hunger-striking snacks throughout the week. But alas, it is Thursday and and no, yesterday I neither prepped my breakfast OR my lunch for today. Yikes! Eating out for lunch today certainly didn’t fall into my [NYC-dwelling, NYU-student] budget so I had to think fast. And that I did. I grabbed the cutting board and the most accessible vegetables in my refrigerator and went in a chopping frenzy. All together, this salad literally took 5 minutes to throw together.


The 5-Minute, Out-the-Door, Summer Salad:

Makes 1 salad
1 small cucumber, diced
2 radishes, sliced 
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
1 vine-ripened tomato, chopped
1/2 cup spinach
1/4 cup light feta cheese, cubed
1 Tbsp Tessemae’s Lemonette Dressing*

Layer the ingredients in a to-go container as follows (from bottom to top): dressing, cucumber, radishes, tomato, feta cheese, spinach. When you’re ready to eat, shake the container with all your might (or just shake it normally…the end product is the same).

*Usually I make my own dressing, but Tessemae’s dressings are a great alternative to homemade dressings. They’re all vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free (READ: paleo-friendly), and can be found in select Whole Foods stores.

If you want to make your own lemon dressing, however, no need to fret. It’s simple and easy:

In a small dish, combine 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 lemon (juiced), 1 clove of garlic (diced), and a pinch of black peppercorn. Whip the ingredients with a fork, and you’re good to go. See, that wasn’t too bad, was it?

From start to finish, the salad took me less than 5 minutes to put together. And, might I add, it was delicious, filling, and healthy, just like lunch should be.

What are your favorite quick and healthy lunches? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Weekend Update with Alena!

So I recently started an internship for FiTMAPPED as a blog contributor. Every Friday, I’ll be posting a “Weekend Update with Alena” on the FiTMAPPED Fit Blog for fitness, food, and lifestyle events happening in NYC. You can find my first blog post for FiTMAPPED here.

I know I just started, but I’m excited for all of the opportunities that this internship will give me. It has already motivated me to make fitness a larger part of my life. With the stresses of moving to a new city (and not any city, NYC sure isn’t for the weak at heart), starting my first semester of grad school, and working for most of the day, I sort of…kind of…really let fitness go on the wayside. But no more! I’m vowing to make this summer a healthy and active one, and I’ll be documenting my adventures along the way. Not only that, but I’ve also started to think outside the box and consider options outside of basic (sometimes boring) gym exercises, and New York is swarming with free fitness classes and passes that pat the “I have no money” excuse on the back, and say “Nice try kiddo, but that’s not going to fly this time.”

Have a happy (and healthy) weekend!


And so much has happened. These past few months have had their share of ups AND downs, and although there were some things I would have changed, I’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way. 

Some of the ups:

I visited my family and friends in Michigan (twice). 

I was matched to the NewYork Presbyterian Hospital Dietetic Internship (!!!), and will be starting that in February. This is one of the most exciting things that has happened to me so far since moving to New York, and I will probably have to spend a whole blog post explaining exactly why, but basically, it puts me one step closer to becoming an R.D.!

The boyfriend came to visit and spent a whole week falling in love with the city with me. 

I finished my first semester of grad school at NYU. 

I started a really cool blogging internship with FiTMAPPED.

…and, like I said, I learned some valuable lessons. All in all, the city is making me grow up. Its making me fight for what I want, which in turn is helping me realize exactly what I want, and how to go about getting that. I’ve learned how to balance everything in my life (the hard way, of course), and that I can’t do everything, but that I have to put 100% into what I do…actually, scratch that…130%, because there’s always going to be someone going after the same things as you – the same goals, the same jobs, the same aspirations – and you know what, they might even be better than you, but hey, if you put in ALL of your effort, and I mean ALL OF IT, then you won’t regret anything. I know this is a jumble of thoughts all smashed together and competing for attention, but I’ll focus more on them later. For now, I’m just glad to be back at this. In some ways, blogging is just as therapeutic as a good yoga class or a sweaty run. 

Recap of Last Week: Michigan Comes to New York!

The lack of posts last week can be attributed to the fact that some of my greatest friends from back home came to visit me in the big city. They made a 12-hour trek to get here, and boy am I thankful for that green dragon that got them here. As amazing and exciting as the city is, it is very very easy to feel a little lonely and homesick sometimes. Thankfully, my friends came here before the homesickness settled in too much.

I think one of the biggest worries (for me especially) of moving away is the fear that people will forget about you – that the friendships and relationships you built will dissolve, and you’ll be replaced with someone new. Luckily for me, my friends have smashed that fear and thrown it far, far away – farther than the distance that separates us. Even before I left, my friends threw a surprise graduation/birthday/going-away party for me – a grand feat orchestrated by my boyfriend and two of my wonderful girlfriends. It was

then that I realized that these friendships will continue, they won’t even be paused or slowed down, they’ll push on full-force.


Yes, we’re goofy…and yes, we’re all wearing I ❤ NY t-shirts. And yes, I miss every single one of them.

So when 3 of those amazing people showed up in New York, I was the happiest girl in New York City. And on a mission to make sure they had the best time in the Big Apple. A great thing about friends visiting you is that you get to act like a tourist and fall in love with the city all over again. We went everywhere, from the Brooklyn Bridge to Union Square, from Times Square to Central Park. And ate so much food – I developed an inverse relationship with my wallet and my waistline – you can guess in which direction.

Some of my favorite grub spots included:

Grey Dog, which had an extensive list of Michigan sandwiches on the menu (more than enough to win us over). This is probably one of my new favorite brunch spots – the service, atmosphere, and foods were all spectacular. I got the Veggie Press, which had spinach, herb goat cheese, roasted artichoke, and roasted red pepper, and a Raspberry Lemonade. Yum!


Cheesing now that we are one step closer to having food in our bellies…

And yes those are cheesy fries on our table …I never said I had a healthy week, did I?

Crumbs Bake Shop – Where a delicious Cannoli Cupcake was split between Chase and I.

Madman Espresso – We headed over here on a rainy/snowy day for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Pretty good choice, if you ask me.


A cortado beats a latte any day.  Don’t believe me? Try one and you too will become a believer.

Bagelsmith – After hours of dancing at The Woods in Williamsburg, a night is not complete without a visit to Bagelsmith for their tasty bagels. My favorite? Everything bagel with Sundried tomato cream cheese. My friends agreed….and we came back the next day. That good.

So yes, I ate alot of good food with very good friends. We walked until our legs/feet hurt and had a grand ole’ time. Let’s hope they liked it enough to come back soon!

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week + The Starving Art

NEDAwareness_2013In case you didn’t know, February 24-March 2 is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. As the week is coming to an end, I wanted to make sure that the awareness spreads.

The aim of NEDAwareness Week is to increase awareness and education about eating disorders and body image issues for effective recognition, early intervention and direction to care (

This is something that I am so passionate about and find so important that I want the impact to last greater than one week – I want the awareness to spread, so that anyone with body image issues, disordered eating, and/or eating disorders knows that there are resources out there for them – there are people who are willing to help and there are plenty of people who are going through the same problem – You are not in it aloneYou can get help. You can get better. 

Now, eating disorders are something that I am very passionate about. Growing up in the dance world, disordered eating and eating disorders were always around me. That is not to say every dancer has an eating disorder, or that dance necessarily causes eating disorders, contrary to popular belief, but they are more prevalent among dancers than in the general population. So for my undergraduate honor’s thesis, in an effort to spread the awareness of eating disorders and educate health professionals (including registered dietitians and physicians) and the general public, I enlisted the help of my friend and videographer, Nick, and we created a documentary. I interviewed college dancers who were affected by disordered eating and/or eating disorders, whether personally or through a friend or family member. To gain a professional perspective on the treatment and physiology behind eating disorders, I also interviewed health professionals who treated individuals with eating disorders – medical doctors, pediatricians, registered dietitians, and licensed counselors. The documentary turned out to be much more than I expected – not only do the brave dancers expose their secrets and feelings about eating disorders, but you gain an overall perspective of the role that the dance world, the media, and society play in the development of disordered eating and eating disorders.

So without further ado, I bring to you:

 The Starving Art:

The Prevalence of Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders Among Dancers

I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. For any commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times.

NEDA’s campaign this year is that Everybody knows somebody who has been affected (  So if you know someone who struggles with body image issues, disordered eating, and/or eating disorders, please please please refer to the resources I have listed below. Eating disorders are a very sensitive topic and need to be approached in such a way – remember eating disorders are not lifestyle choices, they are diseases.



The National Eating Disorder Association has information and resources available on their website and helpline:

NEDA Helpline: 800 931-2237

Please show respect when commenting.



Kale, Pear, & Chia Smoothie: Superfoods Unite!

After a weekend of crappy eating (eg. bagels two nights in a row?! Who am I???), I craved, no I NEEDED something clean. Clean and green. Something light, refreshing, and healthy for breakfast…something like a kale smoothie perhaps? Yep, you guessed right…that is exactly what I had in mind. I have been on quite the kale kick lately (for example, my Lemony Kale, Brussel Sprouts, Shrimp & Quinoa dish the other night). And honestly, that’s nothing to be ashamed of…the two bagels this weekend, however…now that is something I should be worried about. Nonetheless, my bagel-consuming weekend led me to this smoothie in the end, so I can’t be too upset.

Kale, Pear, & Chia Smoothie:

Makes 1 nutritious smoothie

1 heaping cup of frozen kale

1/2 banana, sliced

1/2 pear, chopped

6 oz non-fat Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp Chia seeds

2 Tbsp water

1 tsp honey

Combine the ingredients in a blender and blend until you get a creamy, smooth consistency. It’s that easy!

A few tips:

  1. Put the yogurt and banana in first – that way the blender doesn’t freak out when you throw in the frozen kale.
  2. If you have fresh (not frozen kale), use a frozen banana. No frozen banana? No problem! Just use a couple of ice cubes and omit the water.
  3. If this isn’t sweet enough for you, add more honey. Or omit the honey if you’re looking for a sugar-free option. The choice is yours.



So there you have it, folks – my first kale smoothie! And hopefully you’ll be brave enough to try it too.

What are your favorite green smoothie recipes?