Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Getting Healthy and Hot in Virginia Beach

By: Finance Foodie

As I look back on my first year of grad school, I must say I’m quite disappointed at how my physical fitness has drastically deteriorated over the past nine months. Blame it on the copious amounts of alcohol, intense interview processes for a summer internship or the 5am pizza indulgences - whatever it may be - my liver, health and weight has definitely suffered as a result.  Therefore, as the summer approaches, I felt it more than imperative to shape up. Not wanting to look like Britney, circa disastrous 2007 Gimme More VH1 performance, I took up the Virginia Beach Tourism Board’s invitation to participate in a health and wellness boot camp and embarked on the two and a half day cleanse last week (I figured the abundant military presence in the city would be extra motivating).
The view from my room
Below is a recap of my experience. Note: I'm not really a hardcore calorie counter (my focus was more on eating healthy), but I aimed for an intake of approximately 1,500-1,700 per day and tried to burn an extra 300-500 calories per day with additional exercise.

Day 1
Breakfast: I had to wake up at the un-Godly hour of 4am for my flight, so naturally I had to start the day with a large cup of coffee. However, everyone else at the airport also had the same idea, which caused a huge delay in the procurement of this caffeine IV. Let's just say there’s nothing like a run cross terminal to catch a flight that will get the heart pumping and calorie engine burning.

Lunch: sushi and sashimi assortment at Mahi Mah’s. Due to Virginia Beach's close proximity to the water (and to fresh seafood), sushi was an obvious choice for lunch. The big as your head fried soft shell crab sandwich with fries at the table over looked mighty tempting, but luckily my willpower held out. Mahi Mah’s Seafood Restaurant &Sushi Saloon; 615 Atlantic Avenue; Virginia Beach, VA 23451; (757) 437-8030; www.mahimahs.com
Daily Burn:  Cardio Circuit - 20 minutes on the elliptical, 20 minutes on the recumbent bike, and a 20 minute jog on the treadmill at the Holiday Inn Oceanside’s fitness center. We had a choice between this or a real bike ride on the Boardwalk, but my nervous-haven't-been-on-a-bike-in-10 years self didn't want to break any bones. Plus in between commercial breaks of old Jersey Shore reruns, I got a great view of the Boardwalk and was able to live vicariously through all the bike riders actually outside.  Holiday Inn Oceanside; 2101 Atlantic Avenue; Virginia Beach, VA 23451; (757) 491-1500

Dinner: Halibut with Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Cream Sauce Topped with Chilled Jumbo Lump Crab at One Fish, Two Fish. Once again, I had to take advantage of VB’s super fresh local seafood.  This dish actually came with a polenta cake (sneaky little thing was discretely hidden under the halibut) – luckily, I saw this in time and avoided consumption. I did take a little bite (and it was heavenly), but at this point, carbs=enemy. One Fish, Two Fish; 2109 West Great Neck Road; Virginia Beach, VA 23451; (757) 496-4350; www.onefish-twofish.com
Day 2
Breakfast: Whole Wheat Carrot Pancakes (served with Sugar Free Maple Syrup), Egg Whites, Turkey Sausage, and Seasonal Fruit at Citrus. A breakfast dish that could not be more complete and healthy after all, it was on the Jim White Fitness Center approved menu. I especially loved that I could see the actual carrot shards that were in the pancakes. Citrus; 2265 West Great Neck Road; Virginia Beach, VA 23451; (757) 437-8030

Lunch: Spinach Salad with Grilled Mahi Mahi, Dried Cherries, Grapes, Spiced Walnuts, Goat Cheese with a Walnut Maple Vinaigrette Dressing at Catch 31. Flavorful, filling and full of vibrant colors – seriously one of the Top Five salads I’ve ever eaten. The beautiful table by the outdoor firepits for cool weather which overlooked the Boardwalk didn’t hurt either. Catch31; 3001 Atlantic Avenue; Virginia Beach, Virginia, 23451; (757) 213-3001; www.catch31.com
Daily Burn: 1 hour kayaking excursion with Chesapean Outdoors followed by an hour private beach yoga session with Oceanfront Yoga. I already feel the muscle from my guided kayaking tour through First Landing State Park, the most visited state park in Virginia. I then kicked up the intensity by another notch by channeling my inner “Charkra” with Oceanfront Yoga, the first ever yoga studio at the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Burn Baby Burn! Chesapean Outdoors; Virginia Beach, VA 23451; (757) 961-0447; Oceanfront Yoga; 3316 Atlantic Avenue Suite 301; Virginia Beach, VA 23451; (757) 233-8000; www.oceanfrontyoga.com  
Dinner: Sauteed Soft Shell Crab served with Steamed Cauliflower at Coastal Grill. A local’s favorite for fresh seafood since 1989, this Certified Virginia Green resto is famous for its soft shell crabs, so obviously I had to try. The crab was succulent and maple brown butter sauce was like a little piece of heaven.  Even the cauliflower was surprisingly well-seasoned and rich – for a moment, I almost believed I was indulging in a carb loaded baked potato! Coastal Grill; 1427 North Great Neck Road; Virginia Beach, VA 23451; (757) 496-3348; http://www.coastalgrill.com/

Day 2.5
Breakfast: Fruit plate with Fat Free Yogurt from room service at the Holiday Inn Oceanside. Pretty standard but not bad – the selection of tropical fruit was especially exciting. 

Lunch: Spring Garden Salad with Grilled Chicken at Flowering Almond Spa (following spa treatment). After an intense two days, I was ready for my joints to feel some R&R – namely in the form of a full body massage at the newest and largest spa in south Hampton Roads. Flowering Almond Spa; 5641 Indian River Road; Virginia Beach, VA 23464; (757) 424-4466; www.floweringalmondspa.com
Daily Burn: One hour power walk along the Boardwalk. Beautiful sun, sea and salt. ‘Nuff Said. 

Dinner: At home, I continued the lessons learned on my trip and had a bowl of steamed veggies with one cup of brown rice from my local Chinese restaurant. 

Final Results
Since this trip was only three days and not as strict as I thought it would be (I was expecting exercise and starvation 24/7), I only lost a paltry and probably unnoticeable (except to me) two pounds. 
However, the real take away from this was re-learning how to eat well, be fit and continue this lifestyle for the long term. So in the end, I might have lost the short term battle, but feel confident I’m on my way to winning the war!

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