Blogging Fitness: The Secret Recipe – Sweating Through the Sweet Life

Work hard. Play hard. This is the notion New York bakers Pamela Weekes and Connie McDonald cling to while living it up. The interesting thing about these two ladies is they are die-hard fitness maniacs…but also love to whip up delectable baked goods.

In my eyes, these ladies have the best of both worlds!

Too many times people are one extreme or the other. They may be obsessed with working out and only eat the leanest and meanest food, or vice versa. I would much prefer to bust it out in the gym for an hour and then indulge from time-to-time in sinfully delicious fare. Life’s way too short to never taste the sweetness it has to offer.

levain-bakeryIf you are a foodie and avid watcher of The Food Network, then you may have already heard of Weekes and McDonald and their hotspot Levain Bakery in New York City. My co-workers know about my love affair with fitness, so they are always keeping their eyes peeled for interesting stories or workouts that will pique my interest. One of my work besties, Lauren, came to me the other day ecstatic about an idea for Blogging Fitness. She discovered Weekes and McDonald on “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” on The Food Network. They have the ultimate recipe for a happy life and I wanted to share their tale. These women are all the buzz in the press, including a recent feature on Oprah.

So how are these fitness maniacs keeping in shape? Triathlons!

The crazy thing is, they have done so many races they can’t even count them all. This blows my mind! Imagine being mentally psyched up for a race all the time, not to mention actually executing and completing the race. I am curious as to what possesses someone to compete in races of this magnitude.

“We both started racing because we were swimming with a group of men who had been competing in triathlons and they sounded intriguing,” Weekes said.

Well if this inspired them to sign up for triathlon after triathlon, then I better stay in the shallow end. Although I have a world of respect for these ladies, I cannot wrap my brain around the idea of going through with their fitness shenanigans; but isn’t it incredible that two normal gals put their mind to something extraordinary, kicked it in gear and mastered their goals? They should serve as an inspiration to us all. Even if it’s not to compete in a triathlon, at least to get after something that we have longed to achieve.

“Start anywhere; but start,” Weekes said. “Anything you do is more than doing nothing. When we both first started running after years of not running it was challenging, but if you stick with something every day, it gets easier.”

We all can attest to this. Whether it is a fitness regimen we aim to master or even a skill in the workplace, we are all starters at some point. What is amazing amazing is having a goal, aiming for it, and making the journey to achieve it worthwhile.

I asked Weekes why they trudge on through their training each and every day, and she responded with, “We both try to do things that we enjoy and give us pleasure but having an end goal to focus on definitely helps.”

With the crazy race schedules these women have on the books, how did they have time to build a business from the ground up?

“We opened our first location in 1995,“ Weekes said. “We actually did a lot of brainstorming while on our bikes training for an ironman triathlon and figured we needed another project after the Ironman because neither one of us fantasized about making Ironman races a full time occupation.”

Sounds like these folks know how to multitask. I am sure that visions of yummy sweets helped inspire them through their strenuous workouts – I know that would kick my butt in gear. Maybe that would get us all moving a little quicker and give us some pep in our step.

Speaking of pep in your step, cCheck out their famous gigantic cookie:


“We won a chocolate chip cookie contest on ‘Throw Down’ with Bobby Flay, featured on The Food Network, and Rocco DiSpirito selected our dark chocolate chocolate chip cookie as the best thing he ever ate on The Food Network’s ‘The Best Thing I Ever Ate’.”

How did these hard core athletes get mixed up in the baking world? When they were training for the Ironman race, regular-sized cookies just weren’t cutting it. So, they took it upon themselves to create a 6 oz. cookie to satisfy their roaring hunger. If you aren’t training for a race and feel that you may need to split the decadence with someone, that is always a good tip too. Splurging in increments is good for the soul.

“We both think that moderation is the key to many things in life as well as being one of the most difficult things to achieve,” Weekes said. “But working out is great for your body and spirit as well as allowing you to enjoy lots of delicious food. We both eat only real foods, no packaged or diet foods, and try to eat fresh local foods as much as possible, including, of course, our delicious baked products on a daily basis.”

levain-bakeryI love their take-charge attitudes. They wanted to complete a race. Check, they did it. They had their mind set on owning their own business. Check, they did that too. Not only did they open up a successful business that’s been prospering for the past fifteen years, they made it on Oprah. In America, that is making it big!

“We hope that we have been inspirational in the sense that we do not have any exceptional talents, but rather we have a drive to do anything and everything the best that we can,” Weekes said.

So not only are these ladies masterminds in the kitchen, cutting it up on race day, but they are incredibly humble as well. I don’t know about you, but I feel the need to hit the gym and then hit up a bakery for a cookie and a big glass of milk.

Go forth and take a bite out of the sweet life!


Kimber_WestphallKimberly Westphall is the author of Blogging Fitness and a regular contributor to Midwest Sports Fans.

She attended the University of Kansas where she majored in Journalism. She participated in a podcast with Jerod, which will help you get to know her even better. While at KU, she was an anchor and online web producer for Jayhawk Sports Talk.

Kimberly made her MSF debut in 2009 discussing the fight between Kansas’ basketball and football teams and also had her column about the Dallas Stars Ice Girls featured at Dallas Sports Fans.

She also is a reporter for where she reports on positive, uplifting news in the DFW Metroplex.

She has a passion for fitness and is on the lookout for emerging fitness trends and workouts. Her favorite group exercise format is kickboxing, and when she’s not hitting up the aerobics studio, Kimberly is training for her second marathon: Disneyworld 2011.

Follow Kimberly on Twitter: @Fit_Trip_Kimber


  1. Another great article! You motivate me to workout. When I see those scrumptious cookies I'm even more motivated. Fun article Kimber!

  2. This article has given me hope that I don't have to shun cookies for a diet of purely celery and tofu in order to live healthy! Thank you!

  3. I REALLY want that cookie!!!!!!!!!!!! It looks soo yummy!!!! Good article!!

  4. Another great article Kimberly! Now I need to get my butt off the couch and into a gym!

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