5 Tips for the Gal Who Doesn’t Know WTF She’s Doing in the Kitchen

My little sister recently moved into her own place and started her first big girl job (ohh, it brings ya back, doesn’t it?) and she recently asked me about some recipe ideas and tips for cooking at home. So, naturally, my first inclination was to go off on a tangent preparing a whole word doc for her on my fave #BusyGirl tricks for cooking at home, complete with tips, staple items and such, and I thought – why not put this into a blog post? I know I’m not the only one who struggles with cooking for one – and cooking good, healthy meals on a budget, too.

Here are a few tips I’ve found that work for me!

1.Try batch cooking.

Hear me out – some meals are just better cooked fresh. (Soggy salad? No thanks.) But others, think a big pasta dish for example, make for awesome leftovers. Plus, you can make a big batch of something for fairly cheap and it’ll prob feed you for at least a few days. I recently made this amazing Turkey Black Bean Quinoa Bake and literally had lunch and dinner for five days. Just heat up and voila!

2.Always have your staple items on hand. 

Almond butter, oats, black beans, chickpeas, chia seeds & Amy’s organic soups are a few that come to mind when I think of some of the staple items I’ve always got on hand. Your staple items are anything you cook with frequently that will last a really long time, that way you can always have these things in your pantry and whip something up if you’re lacking in groceries. These Black Bean Burgers I made for Danny & I recently were sooo good, and I already had my cans of black beans so I only had to buy like three ingredients.

3.Freeze your produce.

Every week, I grab a bushel (bundle? handful? IDK) of bananas, chop them up into fours and place in a big gallon-sized freezer bag for smoothies that week. Little tip: If you’re not adding nanas to your smoothie, that’s probably why the texture is icy and weird – do it. Living alone, my produce goes bad pretty quickly so I’ll also freeze my spinach or kale for smoothies, and even tried raspberries a couple of weeks back and used the frozen raspberries for mimosas – I mean, it was pretty perfect.

4.Pinterest is your BFF.

As you can see, there’s a theme in this post of a lot of my recipe inspo coming from Pinterest. If you’re in a rut, get to pinning – you’ll feel like a culinary creative genius in no time, promise.

5.When in doubt, it’s okay to go pre-made.

I usually try to stay away from the pre-made aisle of the grocery store, but I will say I’ve gotten some pretty good bake-at-home chicken dishes or salads from the Publix deli when I’m in a real crunch. Other than that, one of my big tips is to buy a rotisserie chicken, cut it up and put it in a tupperware for the week to be used on top of salads, served with veggies or in a wrap.

Happy cooking!

Girl Boss Guide ft. Donna Burke of FORME Studios

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Founder of FORME Studios, Donna Burke is the definition of a hustler. From running her own studio to maintaining an active social life to taking the time to talk with me about it all, she seriously does it all. For those of you who haven’t tried FORME, it’s one of my favorite group fitness studios in Atlanta because it offers such variety – and the classes kick your bootay. Not only that, but the welcoming vibe is like no other studio I’ve been to – just take a class there and you’ll see. I’ve known Donna for a while now, but was so excited to get the opportunity to talk with her even more about the backstory behind FORME and how she manages being (literally) Superwoman.

Yes Girl: I’ve always loved your classes, but can you tell me more about how FORME came to be?

Donna Burke: It all started out when my sister & I owned Atlanta Activewear a few years back. We did a lot within the local community and since I have a degree in Exercise Science, I came up with this idea to incorporate a barre class in our store! My sister initially questioned how we could do it with no actual barre, but I thought it would be a great idea to take it off the barre… and that’s how Barre Fusion was born. We set up a sign-up page, posted it and within 30 minutes, the class had sold out. My first thought was “What have we created?!” We knew our clients were interested in fitness but we never knew how successful Barre Fusion would be – 25 girls came to the first class. We started to do the Barre Fusion classes once a week and as demand grew, we now had a full schedule of classes in the mornings and evenings outside of store hours. People were paying to come and work out inside of a clothing store because they loved it that much. When we ran out of space, we moved our evening classes over to Witzlib and the class grew even more. The day we got a call from ClassPass saying they wanted us on board, I knew we had something here. We eventually decided to close the store when the activewear industry became too saturated, and in the same month that we closed the store, I bought the studio and opened FORME.

YG: How the heck did you come up with the concept for this AMAZING workout? 

DB: I’m a total gym junkie. I have tried every workout from CrossFit to Pure Barre to Water Aerobics. I got injured while training for a marathon and through that, I found barre – and quickly realized it was no joke! Through studying Exercise Science in school, I knew how to get my heart rate into that fat-burning zone that everyone wants to get in – and stay in. So, I took all of the aspects of the workouts I liked and put them into my own unique workout. In a Barre Fusion class, you do two total-body workouts within less than an hour that combine the small, pulsing movements of a barre class with cardio that promotes fat-burning. The cardio abs section really gives that ‘shake factor’ we all crave. I also got certified in Bootybarre, which is a similar concept to Barre Fusion, so it went hand in hand. Cardio FORME came out of a need for wanting something more intense, yet still fun, without being too cheesy. I put together a playlist and got inspired and, with the help of some of my friends who danced, I put together a routine and Cardio FORME was born.

YG: Tell me about your own personal success story with FORME. 

DB: I gained 50 pounds after getting injured. As much as I was toning up from barre, that layer of fat was still there because I wasn’t getting cardio in due to my injury, so I knew I had to incorporate cardio into my classes. As a result of FORME, I lost 35-40 pounds.

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Because we believed so much in our product and didn’t focus so much on it being a business, it made it so much more than just a workout.

YG: What is your weekly workout schedule like?

DB: All FORME – all day, every day! I only teach, and that’s because I teach about 10 classes per week. I don’t suggest that someone works out as much as I do, but I’m very aware of how much sleep I get and what I’m eating to stay fueled. I eat probably 3,000 calories a day to fuel my body because in a standard Barre Fusion class, you’re burning 650 calories. In a Cardio FORME class, you’re burning 800 calories within 45 minutes.

YG: There’s a lot of pressure in society to be perfect. How do you stay above it? 

DB: A lot of people get lost in the pursuit of perfection. I was always kind of the ugly duckling growing up and I struggled throughout school with that. Playing sports really helped me to learn to be okay with myself. I started playing soccer when I was 12, and my first coach told us he wasn’t going to train us as girls, but just as regular soccer players. He showed us we were completely equal and I took a lot of that with me as I grew up. Whenever people were nasty or rude, in my mind I was like “we are all the same, I don’t get it”. Growing up, our parents never treated us like we were inferior and that still resonates with me to this day.

YG: What does a typical day of eating look like for you? 

DB: The reality is, I don’t have the time to cook elaborate meals, so my goal is to always find a way to live as healthy as I can while on the go. In the morning, I wake up, teach and go to Starbucks. In the winter I’ll get a Jade Citrus Green Tea and in the summer I get a Venti Iced Coffee with cream and regular sweetener. [I don’t believe in sugar substitutes because your body doesn’t know how to burn it off!] For breakfast, I’ll have a sesame bagel with cream cheese or some kind of smoothie. Then I head into the office for my full-time job. Mid-morning, I’ll usually grab some type of fruit as a snack. Lunch can really vary, depending on the day. Some days I’ll grab pizza; some days I’ll bring a salad from home. I just can’t do the whole meal prep thing because getting out the door with all of my meals ready to go for the day just doesn’t happen for me. It’s easier for me to leave the studio and go by the grocery store and pick out what I’m craving. Dinner, again, is usually a quick trip to the store for whatever I’m craving… there’s usually ice cream involved with dinner, too.

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I’ve tried every diet out there – because paleo is fun, but I love pizza! I think balance brings you sanity.

YG: How do you maintain your desired level of fit while still keeping balance in your day-to-day life? 

DB: I truly don’t want a six-pack and super ripped arms, I just want to be in shape and enjoy margaritas! I saw something that really resonated with me the other day: Don’t waste 95% of your life trying to lose 5% of your body weight. I don’t believe extremes work for anyone because at some point, that extreme will make you crack and force you in the total opposite direction of what you were trying to accomplish. In achieving balance, you end up a lot happier. I’ve tried every diet out there – because paleo is fun, but I love pizza! I think balance brings you sanity.

YG: How do you balance your relationships with your insane schedule?

DB: It is really difficult. My boyfriend is so supportive of my crazy schedule and he really believes in the studio, so he does whatever he can to support. I really try to cut off all of my work at least by the time we finish dinner and spend that last hour of my day with him.  A lot of people will really dive into their business and forget their social lives, but mine are very intertwined because a lot of my friends are from FORME. Even though I’ve worked a ton throughout the week and still have to teach over the weekend, I make sure to make plans with my friends because it’s important to me.

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Our pride at the studio is preaching “Be who you are, whatever shape you are.”

YG: What tips do you have for entrepreneurs or women looking to start their own side hustles – or full-time hustles?!

DB: When people start their own business, they need to realize they’re going to work 10 times as hard for a quarter of the amount of money. Luckily for me, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, because I saw the hard work pay off for my parents as entrepreneurs. I also recommend for people to keep their full time jobs as long as they can, because you’ve got bills to pay! Build your business on the side – we have 24 hours in the day, so when you really break down your day, what can you do in those 5-10 hours you have left over? Those hours outside of work are when you create your brand.

YG: What do you look for when hiring FORME instructors?

DB: My only requirement for instructors is a person who is genuine – everything else can be taught. You can’t teach someone to be a welcoming, nice person and we’ve all been there where we walk into a room and we don’t feel welcome. That was the one thing I did not want in my studio – I want the girls to be comfortable every time they walk in our doors. When someone is genuine, they are here because they love it and because they want to be here.

Interested in taking a class with Donna or one of her amazing instructors? Just head to FORME’s website and sign up! I promise, you won’t regret it.

 

Sharing a Lil’ Bday Wisdom

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After a fun weekend of celebrating my 4th 21st birthday (yea, it’s a thing), I can’t help but look back at years past and think about all of the good times and the things I’ve learned. There’s obviously been times in my life that were not so glamorous, but it’s nice to be able to look at where you are in life and say, hey, I’m doing alright. As I continue to grow up, it seems like there’s always something else to learn or to take away. So, to celebrate this special day I’m sharing a little birthday wisdom. Here’s a few things I’ve learned over the years :)

Everyone is “busy.”

We are all busy all the time. It’s impossible not to be. But I’ve learned that there are certain relationships worth making time for, no matter how crazy life gets. If it takes me writing “make plans with so-and-so” on my to-do list for that week, I’ll literally do that. I’ve become very good at keeping in touch with important girlfriends because, at the end of the day, those relationships are a huge part of what makes life worth living, right? Stop making excuses and start reaching out to those people who are most important to you.

If you’re working out to get skinny, you’ll never be satisfied.

I have to reinforce this to myself almost every day, but it’s the truth. I’ve gone from being a cardio bunny to half-assing my workouts at the gym to finally being at the point where I’m truly working out to become stronger and more healthy. Sure, I’d love to attain a model bod eventually but by focusing on the fact that, with each workout, I’m getting more strong and fit, it helps keep me encouraged and motivated.

You’ll never be fully happy in a relationship until you work through your ‘stuff’ first.

We all have things that hold us back in our romantic relationships and until you face those things, you’ll never be truly happy in any relationship – not just that one. You can be in a relationship with the most amazing, perfect-for-you person ever, but if you aren’t content with who you are and what you have going on, you’re always going to feel like something’s missing. Work through that sh*t!!

Having an “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to food is so 2009.

Back in high school I counted every single calorie of every single morsel of food I put in my mouth. In college, I drunk-binged on cheez-its and pizza on the reg. There was no in-between, no balance. If you think this way about food – “I have to eat 100% super healthy” or “Screw it I’ll just eat like shit cause who cares?”, it isn’t a healthy mentality. I’m at a point now where, as much as I’d really love to look like Blake Lively or a Victoria’s Secret model, I still enjoy the foods I love – because who can pass up a good cheese plate or truffle fries, right? I eat clean about 85% of the time but let myself enjoy the foods I love in moderation. Because food = love.

Spending your hard-earned money on experiences, rather than things, is much more rewarding.

Don’t get me wrong, I love splurging on a new pair of shoes or home decor (usually the latter), but I’ve found that spending my money on events, festivals, concerts and traveling is SO much more fulfilling. There’s been quite a few times where I’ve felt like I really can’t spend on anything – whether it’s a material thing or experience – but I think there’s a really fine line between being money-conscious and being overly conservative. You worked for it – go sample a billion wines and eat a ton of cheese at that cool food festival or take a spontaneous weekend trip!! The memories of those experiences will be much more valuable, trust me.

Thank you for reading & sharing my birthday with me! xx