Every Workout I Did This Year

It’s been an amazing year at the gym, and here, with the help of the almighty Beyonce, are photos before, during and after the 175 workouts I did as a 32-year-old. Thanks to my gym fam for helping me shine. Enjoy!

 

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Favorite Jokes of the Year

If you know me, you know I’m always writing jokes. Here are my 15 favorite I wrote this year.

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A man in Australia has been bitten by a venomous spider on his penis for the second time in five months. “Fool me once…”, said the person who had to suck out the poison

A new restaurant has opened in New York that is inspired by the show Golden Girls. And like Blanche’s legs, it’s open 24 hours.

A new study finds that 84 percent of all wildfires in the US are started by people. Though one man strongly disagrees. (KEY: Billy Joel)

It was announced that this summer Manhattan will get a fourth area code, 332. While the Bronx is sticking with its area code, 911.

This month marks the 75th anniversary of the classic animated film Bambi. And he’s still looking for the bitch that killed his mom.

A man in Florida protected his prized BMW during Hurricane Matthew by parking it in his living room. While his wife and kids got the garage.

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone. Meaning iPhones have been around longer than most of the people making them.

An ice cream parlor in Mexico has begun serving ice cream specially made for dogs to eat. The most popular flavor is “other dog’s butt.”

A woman in Australia gave birth to a 13-pound baby, and she’ll never be the same down under.

A Massachusetts man tried to argue his way out of a speeding ticket by claiming that the police officer’s radar gun picked up a deer running at 40 miles an hour, and not his car. Sure, blame it on the guy with brown skin.

New York City officials said that the city doesn’t face any threat from people dressed as “creepy clowns.” That’s just how they dress in Brooklyn.

A shoe company was able to use a 3-D printer to make shoes big enough for a Michigan man, who was once listed as the world’s tallest teenager, and has size 28 feet. He’s hoping next they’ll be able to print him out some condoms.

Shaquille O’Neal announced that in 2020 he will run for sheriff of Henry County, in Georgia. Even though traditionally in Georgia, big, black men run FROM the sheriff.

The controversial Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, about a teenage girl’s suicide, has been renewed for a second season. Because getting cancelled would be the easy way out.

Two more Fox News employees have joined a race discrimination lawsuit against the network, saying working there was “more akin to plantation-style management than a modern-day work environment.” For starters, they were literally chained to their desks.

#HireBrianna

My name is Brianna, and I want to do social media for the Foo Fighters.

“Go to the fucking yard sale, buy a fucking guitar, start a band with your fucking friends, get in the garage and fucking suck and work on it until you fucking make great music, and become the biggest band in the world.”

-Dave Grohl

If the Foo Fighters have taught me anything, it’s that if you want something, you have to get off your butt and do something about it. So this is me doing just that.

I got out my computer, wrote a cover song, asked some friends to help me record it, and shot and edited this video.

As one of the biggest rock bands in the world, it’s very possible Foo Fighters already has a social media team in place, but the opportunity to be a part of it would be the best thing ever. I could contribute a whole lot of experience, and am fully aware of the amazing chance to learn from the pros.

For anyone reading this, all of your time, consideration, shares, likes, and retweets are very much appreciated. I know that #HireBrianna can only be successful if a bunch of people join in on the fun, so thanks for helping me make this a thing!

You guys rock.

B

PS…

If you decide to tweet out the video, you could just copy and paste the below tweet:

Hey, @foofighters… It’s time to hire @lil_conqueror! #HireBrianna http://bit.ly/1OMJw7x

ORRRR feel free to write your own, including:

-@foofighters

-#HireBrianna

-the video link (http://bit.ly/1OMJw7x)

Farley Elliott is Taking it to the Streets in his DELICIOUS New Book

I am all about things that make you go “mmmmm”, and Farley Elliott’s debut book, “Los Angeles Street Food”, definitely falls in that category. Farley, a Senior Editor for Eater LA, does his city more than justice with mouth-watering descriptions of LA’s top food trucks, carts, stands, festivals and more, complete with photos that can only be described as food porn.

farley ramen'

Farley travelled far and wide for his soon to be go to guide, and I was lucky enough to catch up with him to talk about his book, the LA food scene, and of course tacos. You can check out our convo below.

cover book

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With all the great restaurants out there, what about street food gets you so excited?

It’s the innovation, the regional specificity. When you’re opening up big restaurants with big-name chefs, you sort have to take a maximalist approach — appeal to lots of people, and charge accordingly. With low overhead operations like carts and trucks, you can really focus on the one thing, or the two things, that you want to do, and do them with amazing accuracy. You can learn about the world through LA street food, because every place you visit is allowed to have its own footprint leading back to wherever it originated.

So many people come up with great ideas, but never follow through. What motivated you to actually make this book happen?

Well, for one, I always feel like I have something to say. That’s just part of being a writer. So there’s that idea — I get to say what I want, and you pick up the book and listen. That’s pretty great! I also wanted to write the book because, no matter how successful anyone is, we always try to find benchmarks to define ourselves. Having a book was a benchmark for me — a big one — and being able to see it on the shelf of my local bookstore was something that was important to me. Not wanting to fail yourself is a big motivator.

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You travelled to the far reaches of LA to hit up some of the vendors in your book. What was the craziest thing that happened on the road?

I did have a knife pulled on me once, but that was from a drunk guy and could have happened anywhere, at any time. It just happened to be in front of a taco truck. The idea of an unsafe taco stand or Taiwanese meat skewer truck has largely become a vicious rumor. Honestly, these are hardworking families trying to make a great product to feed their own neighborhoods; rotten food or outbursts of violence would be bad for business.

The photos in your book and on your drool-worthy instagram account are always amazing. Any tips or rules of thumb for taking awesome food photos?

Lighting is key. You can make bad food look good with the right light, but you will never be able to make amazing food look even remotely interesting in the dark.

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While delicious, the tacos, meat, pastries, etc. featured in the book might not be the most healthy. What street food would you recommend for someone trying to watch what they eat?

Well, there IS the idea of moderation in all things. But you’re right — it’s not the healthiest way to eat, especially if you spend most of your time in front of a computer screen. But there are fruit carts, juice vendors, trucks that serve goat birria with a hearty “bone broth” side of consommé. And yes, there are many, many vegetarian taco options, from huitlacoche (a funky sort of corn option) to stewed huazontle, which is a hearty green native to Mexico.

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If money and LA traffic weren’t an issue, what is your dream street food meal?

I’d start with elote from the Lincoln Heights corn man. It’s this amazingly simple corn on the cob that’s grilled, swiped with mayo and butter and dashed with salt and spices. From there, a round robin of tacos: one short rib from Kogi BBQ, one carne asada from the Tire Shop Taqueria, one al pastor from Tacos Tamix, and one carnitas from Tacos Los Guichos. Then the main: a torta cubana from Super Tortas D.F. in South LA. If there were any room left, I’d take some champurrado as a sweet finisher.

Oh, and an al pastor quesadilla from El Chato — as a late night snack, just in case.

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If you were to open up a food truck, what would it be?

I’d be no good at opening a truck. The margins are too thin, the days too long, and I’d blow up at a customer within the first few hours, probably. But in my best moments, I could see being a sort of short order breakfast cook within the food truck realm. Simple egg and sausage sandwiches, easy breakfast burritos, some high-quality drip coffee. There is something undeniably satisfying about feeding a crowd…

“Los Angeles Street food: A History from Tamaleros to Taco Trucks”, is available here, and be sure to follow Farley on Twitter and Instagram.

This Year I Gained 15 Pounds… Of Muscle.

I just turned 31, and in an attempt to continue on my quest of empowerment, am going to do the thing that terrifies me the most. I’m going to tell you how much I weigh.

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In exactly one year, I’ve gone from 153 to 168. And no, it has nothing to do with the fact that Dairy Queen opened in NYC.

Gaining weight is something I’m REALLY good at. When I was 13, my family moved across the country to California, and my friends were replaced with McDonald’s Quarter Pounder Value Meals. I went from a size 6 to a size 12, gaining 30 pounds in a matter of months. 30 pounds I have been fighting to lose ever since.

Sometimes to lose weight, you have to put it on first, and that brings me to my latest set of “Skinny Girl Problems”. Last year was all about cardio. I was at spin class 24/7, turned the treadmill into my part-time residence, and when I did use weights, they were the lightest ones possible.

The weight seemed to just fall off. The more I sweat, the more I lost. I got to my lowest weight since high school, which you might remember reading about last year. But I wasn’t strong. I couldn’t do a push up. My lower back was a mess. And strength training was a concept as mysterious to me as wanting to go to a Dave Matthews concert.

My workout instructor, the great Angel Ortiz at Crunch, starts every month by saying, “change something”, and this year I took that advice to heart. I traded out my spin classes for strength training classes, and now there are muscles where my fat used to be.

I earned every single one of the 15 pounds I gained this year through long-ass sweat sessions, crazy tough workouts, a gazillion squats, and lifting all the weights. I gave my whole exercise regimen an overhaul, and in doing so, lowered my percentage of body fat, went down 1-2 sizes (depending on the store), and am now considered “acceptable” instead of obese.

Push-ups have become something I’m excited for, because I can actually do them. I love the definition in my quads, right above my knee. I love that I just had to switch to even heavier weights because the lighter ones were too easy. And finally, I love that my hip problem has chilled the eff out, because my back is getting stronger.

All of this kind of hit me in the last month. I was lucky enough to travel to Bermuda, and had an insane epiphany. As I stepped out in my new bikini, 100% conscious of my rolls, stretch marks, and cellulite, I looked out at the bluest water I’ve ever seen, saw the palm trees swaying in the wind, and felt the soft, warm sand on my feet. It took my breath away, and I realized that the world is just too freaking beautiful to worry about what little ole me looks like in a swimsuit. I’m the only one thinking about my flaws because there are too many other incredible things to look at instead.

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So now, a few days into my 31st year, it’s time as Angel says to, “change something”. And the thing I plan to change is the idea that my body is something to be ashamed of. Right now it’s the result of a crap ton of hard work, and I’m excited for what next year’s fitness milestone is going to be. Maybe by then I’ll be able to do a pull up, or have 1 or 2 abs.

A girl can dream.

The first thing I did on my bday was go on a long run... Who am I?

The first thing I did on my bday was go on a long run… Who am I?

 

Where Hip Hop Meets Punk Rock: Get Social with Stose

There’s something special about socially conscious rapper Stose. Beyond the tattoos, studs, and leather, lies a man who is thoughtful, kind, smart as hell, and all about bringing social injustices to light through his music. He’s also pretty damn funny.

PHOTO - Stose -Cowboys- by Jahn Hall

Stose just dropped a collection of songs that is so eclectic, compelling, and edgy, that regardless of whether or not you agree with his charged political messages, you’re definitely going to want more.

You can hear old school, new school, and every school of hip hop in between on Stose’s debut EP “Civil Disobedience”. And with a healthy helping of power chords, courtesy of his veteran status in the punk world, there’s something for you rock fans as well.

“Civil Disobedience” is definitely the first step in a long, successful journey for Stose. He’s already gotten props from MTV and Paper Magazine (no big deal), and “Civil Disobedience” will for sure push things to the next level.

Here’s your chance to get to know Stose. Civil Disobedience - Album Cover

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You’re fresh off a show at NYC’s famous club Westway. How did it feel to perform the new songs live?

It felt great! That was the first club I performed at after moving back to NYC in 2012, so that place will always have a special place in my heart. Frankie Sharp has always been very gracious to let me perform at his party “Westgay”, whenever I had a new release of some sort. It’s a shame that the gentrification of this city is responsible for this club being torn down in a few months, all so they can build more condos. But with that said, I am very glad I got to play there one more time before it closes its doors. It felt great to play the new songs live for the first time, especially in front of that crowd.

You’ve said you’re fully aware that the political content of “Civil Disobedience” might alienate you from people. What compelled you to take that risk?

I think the current state of mainstream music is mostly disheartening. Music is getting more and more whitewashed, ignorant and dumbed down. It’s losing its sense of creative awareness and turning into an easily-digestible package that can be served to consumers on a silver platter. The issue there is when you have producers and label executives telling you what to say, how to dress and what your image has to be, you lose authenticity. The things I say may alienate me, but to not say them would be to sacrifice my authenticity and that is something I never plan on doing.

Do you ever feel there’s a burden that goes along with being a socially conscious rapper?

I sometimes feel like there may be, but I try not to focus on it. From my perspective the burden lies more so within being a human and trying to do your part to make the world a better place. But personally, I experience more of an internal burden that comes with being an artist, always feeling the need to create something better than before.

You recently moved to the Bronx. Has living in what is debated to be the birthplace of hip hop had any effect on your music or the EP?

Well the EP was basically done by the time I moved to the Bronx, but I am sure it will have influence on whatever I do next. Since moving up here I have constantly been working on new songs and writing more frequently, there is definitely something magical and inspiring about this borough. PHOTO - Stose -2-Tone- by Jahn Hall Your influences include Dr. Dre and Black Flag, what do you think is the common ground between hip hop and punk rock?

It can actually be traced all the way back to the birth of the hip hop movement in the Bronx. In the late 70s early 80s, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash would perform at clubs in the Lower East Side and East Village, which were frequented by punk and new wave kids. The two disenfranchised cultures of Punk and Hip Hop were formed out of a need for music of substance, so naturally they bonded on that. From then on the two cultures clearly influenced each other yielding music such as Blondie’s “Rapture”, Afrika Bambaataa and Johnny Rotten’s group called Time Zone, and the Beastie Boys. The interesting part of my personal story is that growing up I gravitated towards both of these genres of music, before even knowing the history. I was drawn to the attitude and ideology of the two groups, and obviously I wasn’t the only one.

Fun fact… You play saxophone on the record… If you could jam with Bill Clinton, Lisa Simpson, or Kenny G, who would you pick and why?

Hahaha yeah, I did! Although Lisa Simpson is pretty socially conscious, I think I am going to have to go with Bill Clinton. He seems like a pretty real dude and I bet he’s got some crazy stories. I think I now have a new life goal, so thank you for that. Stose_Logo_Black_1000x355 Download “Civil Disobedience” here, and for more on Stose, hit up his Website, Twitter, or Insta.

Photo Credit: Jahn Hall

Miss Ya Already, Dave!

My first Foo Fighters concert was at the Ed Sullivan Theatre.

It was on a rainy hiatus day when we were filming Jersey Floor for Fallon, and I spent that day chasing the Jersey-fied Roots, Tina, Amy, Jimmy, Miles, and more around 30 Rock, all while feverishly texting with people at Letterman to try and get into the show.

We wrapped Jersey floor around 6, and I had accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to see Foo play. So I went to the bar with my co-workers, and put away my phone.

An hour later I had 14 missed calls and 7 voicemails telling me to get my butt to Letterman by 7:15 because I had magically gotten a ticket. It was 7:07.

I ran across town just in time to see Foo recreate the Beatles’ famous Ed Sullivan set. It was the fucking best. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better first show.

Letterman obvi had a huge influence on us all with comedy, but he was also super kick ass with music.

I’m going to miss that.

A Chat with Katie Quinn AKA The Food World’s Next Star

You’ve seen epicurean extraordinaire Katie Quinn on Today Show, The Meredith Vieria Show, covering Sundance, and more, and now is your chance to get to know this amazing lady a little better.

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I met Katie way back when in the NBC Page Program, and she’s gone on to strut her stuff as a seriously inspiring self-starter, covering all things food. Her passion for the food world and drool-worthy YouTube Channel had me all kinds of curious, so I caught up with Katie to pick her brain about cooking, traveling the world, and how she made the brave decision to take her career into her own hands. Bon Appetit!

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After working for larger companies like the Today Show, Serious Eats, and NowThis News, how did you make the brave decision to go into business for yourself?

It was, indeed, a tough decision. A saying I kept in mind throughout the whole process was “Leap, and the net will appear.” I’ve found it to be outstandingly true. Here’s what happened for me: I was offered a staff position at a big network and going through the whole interview process, I completely intended on accepting the offer. Once the offer was made, though, I had a crisis: I did not have that feeling of excitement that you should really have when diving into a new position. I immediately knew why: I had to give myself a chance to make it on my own, for my own brand. It was a hard decision to make, but as soon as I made it, I knew it was the right thing. My heart was smiling. And it was time to hustle to make it work.

For many people, self-employment equals Netflix and sleeping in, but you post videos on your YouTube page twice a week, in addition to a ton of other amazing content. How do you stay on track, and what is your day to day workflow?

This question makes me laugh. For anyone who knows me personally, they know that I’m entirely too Type A for the pitfalls of self-employment to be much of an issue. Even in college, I was bordering on being the stereotypical obnoxious achiever. I think it’s probably just a personality thing. I’m a morning person, so I usually wake up with the sun. I do set a schedule for my days, which helps me organize the different projects I have and allows me keep my YouTube videos a priority–even though they are not the most profitable part of my work.

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Where does your love of food come from? What are some of the specific meals or dishes that inspired you to work with it full time?

I love this question! My love of food is inspired by the incredible variety of dishes that exists all around the world and the fascinating characters who make them. When I worked backstage at the TODAY show, I would get as excited about Thomas Keller coming on the show as other people would get about Kim Kardashian being a guest. Every morning, I hung around the TODAY kitchen set and would interview as many chefs as I could. Their stories and their passion is what wrapped me into the food world. So my love of food is less focused on a specific dish, but rather embellished by a good story, or an interesting person behind the dish.

I can’t help but notice the global feel of your recipes, which are no doubt a result of all your travels. What are some of the places you’ve traveled, and which ones have inspired your cooking the most?

Yes! Travel is SO inspiring, for so many reasons, but especially when it comes to food. Peru and China have had the greatest impact on the way I look at spices, at which parts of the animal can be eating, and at the eating ritual.

A lot of people reading are city dwellers, who maybe don’t have the time or resources to make extravagant meals. What are some staples you recommend keeping on hand to avoid a steady diet of Seamless and Chinese Food?

Lentil soup or a stew where you can just use up the variety of things in your fridge. Pasta tossed with sautéed veggies (whatever kind of veggies you like or have on hand). You can swap out the pasta for rice, quinoa, or any other grain. Put a fried egg on top–and you’re golden.

PHOTO CREDIT: Robert Caplin

In this video, you call YouTube your “metaphorical table” to gather and talk about food. If you could sit down at a real life table with three people from the food world, who would they be?

Holy moly, I love this question. I’ve never considered it before. Off the top of my head I’m going to say: Ina Garten, David Chang, Anthony Bourdain.

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How to KEEP Going to the Gym

We’re midway through January, which means one of three things:

1) You’re still keeping up your New Year’s Resolution to get fit

2) You gave up on the gym last week

3) You never went in the first place

This post is aimed at everyone in group number one. Congratulations! We’re all very proud of you.

Nicki-Minaj-Anaconda-Video-LARGE

Exercise isn’t easy. If it was, we’d all be camping out for the new Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Core Ice Cream. Working out is a pain in the ass (and the rest of your body if you’re doing it right) and recently this tweet caught my eye:

ex tweet

This anonymous tweeter hit on something that makes a lot of people pack up their sports bras and quit. And as a gym regular, I’m here to help with a few tips on how to keep it fun.

-THE BUDDY SYSTEM

A lot of people skip the gym to hang with their friends, so make the gym the place you hang out. Find a friend to work out with who will hold you accountable, and be pissed if you flake. It’s easier to get through that final set, or a tough class, when you have someone sharing your pain. I also recommend getting to know the people who work at the gym, because when they say “see you tomorrow”, you want to prove them right.

-DRESS ALL CUTE

This might sound dumb, but ditch your old Garfield tee shirt and pajama pants for some cute gear, and I promise you’ll immediately have more fun. It’s like when you get a new dress or a sweet pair of kicks. You want to show them off, and the same goes for gym clothes.

And you don’t have to spend a ton of money either. Old Navy has a sale like every five minutes and their clothes last forever. My trick is to buy everything in the same color palette, which makes it easy to mix and match.

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-LOAD UP YOUR IPHONE

One of my favorite things is the Nerdist podcast, and the only place I let myself listen to the Nerdist podcast is at the gym. Reserve a bunch of things to listen to and watch during your workout, and you’ll actually start looking forward to your time on the treadmill…

-DON’T DO STUFF YOU HATE

…And on that note, while the treadmill is my jam, you might find it to be super boring and repetitive. Simple solution for that, stay off the treadmill. You will never find me on the elliptical machine because I totally hate it. I’d lose my damn mind if I took more than two spin classes in a week, so I don’t.

You have to find the things you like at the gym and only do them. Mix it up, take the classes, and come up with a varied schedule that both challenges your body and leaves little room for your mind to wander.

-THINK ABOUT HOW YOU’LL FEEL AFTER

I know I’m not the first one to say this, but when I’m really having trouble finding the motivation to exercise, I always fast forward to how I’ll feel afterwards. If you think about it, you’ll only spend about 60-90 minutes at the gym, which means it takes three episodes of Mindy Project, or one and a half listens to the new Taylor Swift album to feel like a new person.

And in that time, those exercise endorphins will make you feel all happy, and you’ll earn the right to try some of that new Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Core Ice Cream. You’ll also sleep better, think more clearly, and feel like a total badass.

-AND FINALLY

If all else fails, pretend you’re Buffy. How are you gonna kill all those vampires if you can’t run a mile or do a sit up? This might only work for me…

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Click here for more on my weight loss journey.

2 Jews, An Italian, and A Food Festival

As a New Yorker, I spend a lot of time celebrating other people’s cultures through the city’s vibrant restaurant scene, but Sunday was all about the traditional foods of my fellow chosen ones. Thanks to The Workmen’s Circle “Taste of Jewish Culture” event, I ate  latkes, pickles, corn beef, falafel, chopped liver, and most importantly, the three B’s: Babka, Borscht, and Brisket. And I was lucky enough to be joined by my good friends Pamela and Michael.

Walking through the various stands brought back so many memories… Helping my grandma make rugelach when I was too little to reach the counter, Shabbat dinner centered around my mom’s secret brisket recipe (Heinz Ketchup and Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix), and the annual Hanukkah party I threw at my old apartment in Harlem. I am so proud of my heritage, and without getting too political, now feels like an important time to honor it. It was also nice to share this experience with Michael, who was eating some of these foods for the first time, and creating new memories of his own.

Big thanks go out to all the musicians, volunteers, and chefs who made this amazing event possible. My restaurant to do list just got a whole lot longer. Below are some snapshots from the festival, and links to my favorite vendors.

*Breads Bakery – 18 E. 16th Street

*Mile End – 53 Bond Street / 97A Hoyt Street (Brooklyn)

*Shelsky’s – 141 Court Street (Brooklyn)

*Peck’s Homemade – 455A Myrtle Ave (Brooklyn)

*Kossar’s Bialys – 367 Grand Street

*The Pickle Guys – 49 Essex Street