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I have a Groupon* problem.

Every day I get those “harmless” little emails in my inbox – Bloomspot, Groupon, LivingSocial, Spreebird – and for a few brief moments in the morning, my head goes wild with a discussion about the true meaning of need vs. want.  They really prey on the parts of me that both love trying new things AND get mild to moderately turned on by a good deal.

As I’m sure you’ve gathered from bits and pieces over the years in this blog, I am an explorer.  The base of triathlon has stuck around for about 5 years, but things have woven in and out throughout that time – salsa dancing, tango, Spanish lessons, surfing, p90x, yoga, my upcoming bit part in The Vagina Monologues, and even art using pastels for a short stint.  If I had unlimited funds and time, I would do even more.  Kite surfing is on the list for the summer.

I like to dip my toe in the water of different pools, to push myself, dabble, and test.  And BONUS if I can do it for under market price.  I could care less about the latest purse or shoes, but the opportunity to take a writing class, do a 15 hour race, or practice yoga on a surfboard?  Si, Senor.  And don’t get me started on my history of random jobs and certifications.  You can just call me AthenaJessofalltrades. If I could design my ideal job, it would be “professional hobbyist” or perhaps C-level Dabbler (working on it).

You can probably see why I’m Groupon’s ideal customer.

So a few days ago I found the sweet spot of Groupons – a very well-priced, block-away-from-home, athletic adventure/new skill, contained to a one-month period, and involving beating some ass.   Click.  Click.  Purchased.  Couldn’t help myself.  Got 3 friends to join me.

BOXING.

I had been wanting to harness some aggression lately and maybe I used the Secret to make this deal to come along.

It starts March 18th, runs for 4 weeks, and involves hitting people.  I have a feeling that this will be something I can really sink my Athena paws into, which by the way will be slid into super adorbs pink boxing gloves.  Now now…don’t worry about me hurting my pretty face, my moneymaker.  I have heard stories of my grandpa being a pretty solid boxer in his day, built for power as opposed to endurance…sound familiar?  I’m ready to defend the temple!

Aaaaaaand….There’s swag!

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I wish I was lying when I say that I labored for about 15 minutes over which of the 4 colors (red, pink, blue, black) I should pick for my hand wraps.  I went with black to match the pink gloves, which were the only clear option.

I know the pink doesn’t look super tough, but I chose it because of my mom’s breast cancer battle and I can think of no better reason to hit HARD.

My favorite is the little mini boxing glove. 

It’s deadlier than it looks. 

2013-03-13_17-20-38_617 Behind the scenes magic:
Yes, I did hit myself about 30 times with a mini boxing glove until the picture came out the way I wanted.

*Groupon is to discount/group deal sites what Kleenex is to tissue.  It is the catch-all term for “daily ways to spend money on things that I didn’t think I needed until I saw them posted in a beautiful well-marketed email in my inescapable yahoo inbox.”

**I really wanted to title this post “Jewhammed Ali”.  But I was afraid it would be misinterpreted.

At the end of my Ironman race in 2010, my feeling was that if I NEVER drank or saw another bottle of Gatorade again, it would still be too soon.  And yet, in 2012, there I went again.  This time it was Ironman Perform sports drink, but it’s not much different, believe me.  We continue to drink them, because convention says you will drink sports drinks if you’re going to train and compete at long distances. Because you want to survive don’t you??? 

But these commercial sports drinks are no longer acceptable.  How can we push our bodies to the limits while simultaneously poisoning them?  Not only are they completely unnatural colors and flavors – what the hell is the flavor of a Glacier Freeze or Riptide Rush anyway – but they are filled with things that I can’t imagine are healthy.  Trying to find the ingredient list on the Gatorade.com website proved to be less than fruitful, which seems telling.

A google search found this ingredient list for Gatorade:
water, sucrose, dextrose, citric acid, natural flavor, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, gum arabic, yellow 6, glycerol ester of rosin, brominated vegetable oil.

Only recently Gatorade’s parent company PepsiCo bowed to public pressure and eliminated Brominated Vegetable Oil (patented in Europe as a flame retardant) from its citrus flavors (still in Mountain Dew, btw…and we know how fabulously wholesome THAT is).

Brominated vegetable oil?  I need this in my life?  Guess what it was replaced with – sucrose acetate isobutyrate.  Um, thanks?

A few weeks ago, I made the bold statement that I would be figuring out a way to completely avoid Gatorade (& other commercial sports drinks/bars) for the entire triathlon season.   I meant it.  Contrary to what their marketing would have me believe, I do NOT want electric colors flowing through my veins – only my blood.

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<—I don’t want to Be Like Mike anymore.  

It really wasn’t hard to find a sports drink recipe.  I turned to the book “Thrive” for how to fuel my workouts naturally.  Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life is a book written by professional Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier, who has been a plant-based athlete since he was in his teens.

I made my first batch tonight.  It was beyond simple.
There are a couple options – here is one recipe.

Lemon-Lime Sports Drink (from Thrive)

Ingredients:
3 medjool dates
– 2C. Water
– Juice from ½ lemon
– Juice from ¼ lime
– 1 tsp Coconut oil
– 1 T. Agave Syrup
– Salt to taste and desired strength (i used about 1/4 tsp)

Blended the hell out of it in my Blendtec on “whole juice” mode, then strained.  Took all of 3 minutes. 

Yield: 3 Cups – let’s call it 6 4-oz servings, to make it nutritionally comparable to an 8 oz serving size of Gatorade.  Since it appears to be more concentrated calorie/carb/electolyte departments, my plan will be to dilute with water in my 24 oz water bottles at a 1:2 ratio – this will net me about 36 g. Carb per 24 oz bottle.

Here is how it stacks up when all is said and done.  And I didn’t even have to add brominated vegetable oil.

 

Gatorade (8oz)

Thrive Energy (4 oz)

Calories

50

50

Fat

0

.5

Sodium

110 mg

94

Potassium

30 mg

85

Carbs / Sugar

14/14

12/11

What about cost?

One 32-oz bottle of Gatorade costs about $2.  (6.25 cents/oz)
Making 24 oz of Thrive Energy Drink cost (OVERestimating): $2.50 (10.4 cents/oz).
But remember that the Thrive drink is twice as strong per oz in all areas, so you need half as much.  

And taste?
Well, if you live in America, you know how Gatorade tastes.  Sweet, sticky, fake, not horrible on a hot day.  The kids seem to be addicted like it.
I’ve always diluted it as it’s been too sweet and syrupy for me to handle for long workouts.  At times, I’ve felt downright ill from it, AND it often leaves me with a red clown mouth.

The Thrive sports drink is mild and slightly tropical – actually quite tasty – if I wasn’t saving it till morning, I might drink a glass of it right now.  There’s really nothing offensive about it that would be a dealbreaker.

Performance is TBD.  Based on the ingredients, I cannot see that there will be an issue.  My performance isn’t generally that earth-shattering anyway. Maybe I don’t want to *just* survive – I want to thrive.  And I don’t want my sports drink to be slowly killing me along the way.

If you read this and decide to try it yourself, drop me a line to let me know how it turned out (both in taste and performance).

My new kick is internet marketing and branding.

So in searching for domain names, turns out http://www.theathenaproject.com and http://www.athenaproject.com are both taken.

I started thinking bigger.  

http://www.athenalife.com????

It’s AVAILABLE…..for the price of $1095 (most are $10)  WTF?

Then I thought about it.  

It is a pretty awesome thing, la vida Athena 🙂  

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Athena Jess is going to make her acting debut (well unless you count the recent appearance as an extra in The Shahs of Sunset) with a role in The Vagina Monologues as part of VDay2013!!

My friend is producing, and I’ll be lending my voice to at least one line. 🙂  A few of the LA Derby Dolls (roller derby) will also be joining the cast and I’m pretty sure that I may find at least a few Athena sisters in that mix.  Heck, maybe I’ll even BE a derby doll by the end of it. (Did I ever tell you about the time I tried out (and made) the LA Women’s Pro Football team?)

Check out the site here and please do come if you’re in LA March 30th!  Tickets are only $14 and proceeds will benefit Children of the Night and Alexandria House.

www.vdaylosangelesvalley.com
Click on “cast” to see my heavily airbrushed mug.  

I wonder if there’s a monologue in there about the real enemy of the vagina…the bike seat?  

First a Haiku:

For months twas a void,
Betwixt my legs where you were.
But you’re back……bike seat. 

Yesterday for the first time since June 2nd, I got back on my bike.  Admittedly, it was begrudging, as I am protective of my back and neck and hours on the bike has never been too kind.  But the great thing about not riding a bike for 8 months, is that when you get back on, you totally remember how.  It’s like riding a bike!

But even that short hour-long ride reminded me of a bigger problem than losing fitness or bike skills – the deterioration of my hard-earned butt callouses.  

I am paying for it today. My crotch is now crotchety, my sit bones on time out.  I’m bruised and battered in my no-no zone and yet again reminded why these 5 months on, 7 or 8 months off tri seasons are not a standard training cycle 🙂

Check out my new red handlebar tape.  Sexy beast!  Why have I shunned you so long?  Oh yeah, I don’t really like you that much.  
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I lost my Love, but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t a ton of love in my life!  

I went to bed last night feeling so…satisfied.  Do I have anyone breaking down my door to date me?  No, and that’s ok. I am not ready.  

But today I accept the forced entry of this annual Hallmark tradition.  So I’ll bite.  I’m feeling it.  

I thought back on my last 5 nights and marveled at how full of love and friendship my life has been lately.  Saturday, it was my friend’s wedding shower, which produced what may now be one of my favorite photos of all time with some of my favorite people.

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Sunday, it was spending the night with my brother, his wife, and my 7 y.o. niece.  

Monday it was taco night with about 10 close friends and then Cards Against Humanity (best game ever, if you’re a horrible person…which I might be).  

Tuesday it was nursing a close friend back to health after her breakup a week ago, sitting with her while she cried over the loss of HER love of 10 years.

Last night, it was marveling at the aura and joie de vivre of my friend L., a 60-something who lives life to just about the fullest one could hope.  I want to be like her when I grow up.

Later today, I will be calling my mother to tell her I love her.  

Then I will be donating my platelets that will hopefully save someone’s life so that they can be around for all those that love them.  

Woke up this morning for a 4-mile run (my first early morning run since um, June 2nd) with my friend Sara, came home for a whole juice smoothie (beets, carrots, banana, lemon, ginger, kale/spinach) in my new BlendTec blender (omg, did I mention?) and just sat in the warm, loving glow of the Santa Monica sunlight.  

Feeling love for others, love for myself and my body, love for my simple little apartment that I am fortunate enough to afford every month.  Love.  It’s everywhere, even in this blog post.  It’s not just the romantic kind, though that is always incredible when you’re lucky enough to have it.  

I am sending love to you too, whether I know you or not.  Pass it on.  

I hope you have an amazing Valentine’s Day!

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FInally!  The elusive Karma Burgers! I have been wanting to try this recipe since I got the Karma Chow cookbook about a month ago.

But it needed food processing, so it had to wait.  Happily, I put my new Cuisinart to use last night (after about 20 minutes of trouble shooting why I couldn’t get the damn thing to work – lid on backwards…right) for me and forced a friend to test drive the burgers with me.  Fortunately, they were fantastic.

More than veggies, they really taste like rice/chickpea burgers, so they were pretty hearty and had a lot of protein to boot.  I added avocado and vegan chipotle mayo on a toasted Udi’s Gluten-free bun and ate gooood.  For the mom’s out there – this made about 7 hearty burgers and I’m pretty sure your kids would eat them.  Easy family cookin’!

http://karmachow.com/recipes/2009/9/29/karma-chow-veggie-burgers.html

INGREDIENTS

1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained & rinsed

3/4 c. cooked brown rice

1/2 red bell pepper, deseeded & cut into chunks

1 c. spinach

1/2 bunch cilantro

1/2 red or yellow onion, cut in chunks

1 tsp. chili powder

1-1/2 to 2 c. Gluten free bread crumbs

2 TBS Tomato paste or unsweetened ketchup

1 teaspoon sea salt

Using a food processor, blend pepper, onion, spinach & cilantro until all mixed together and somewhat liquidy. Pour into a medium bowl.
In food processor, separately pulse brown rice & chick peas together then add to bowl containing veggie mixture. Add chili powder, tomato paste & sea salt and stir together to mix well. Add bread crumbs and combine until burgers stick together. If the burgers feel too wet, add more bread crumbs.
Form into patties and cook on a skillet with coconut oil on the bottom of the pan over medium heat until browned on both sides.
Chipotle Mayo
– Mix 1/4 C. Vegenaise Grapeseed Mayo w/ ~1/4 tsp. Chipotle Chili Powder and 1/2 tsp agave syrup.  Use on burgers!  (I added more chipotle chili powder for extra kick).  I like to be kicked in the FACE by spice.
For fries, I cut sweet potatoes into strips, tossed with olive oil, sea salt, and chili powder, and roasted in the oven at 400 for 30 minutes.  Healthy and addictive!