Tag Archives: working out

Turkey Day Menu

22 Nov

I’m thankful for my health, my ability to participate in an early morning turkey trot…

And trotting alongside such excellent company at that.

I’m thankful for another year of our family brunch allstars…

Egg casserole and monkey bread.

I’m thankful for an incredible menu.

Not listed: our favorite libations, specifically very classy wine.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

I’m thankful to have such nice folks reading my blog! Hope there is plenty of football and elastic-waisted pants in your future, wherever you might be celebrating today.


Fall Favorites: Six Things I’m Loving Right Now

24 Oct

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1. New Project: Fancy pumpkin painting! You might be asking yourself, why in the name of Martha Stewart would you want to paint a pumpkin when you can just carve the thing like a normal person? To which I might answer, you do have a point, if you can get past weird rotting shriveling gourds. I would argue that a patterned pumpkin makes for a superior interior display. Plus, who can argue with a chevron pumpkin? Not I.

Also you might find yourself painting pumpkins in lieu of carving, too, if you had 8 functional fingers. Fact is, apart from setting the kitchen on fire this weekend, I actually seriously dropped my iPhone into a smoothie last night (seriously). Consuming my liquid dinner whilst flipping between the Bears game & the debate proved an insurmountable task, and pretty soon I dunked it in. Think that’s funny? So did my doctor. You people are cruel.

2. New Purchase: What do I have to say about this 12 cup coffee maker SLASH instant hot water dispenser from C&B? Nothing. It speaks for itself. I haven’t owned a coffee maker since college, and I finally bit the bullet on this one. It’s currently marked down to $99 and works like a dream. Get you some!

3. Healthy Helper: I’ve been guzzling milk thistle tea with a splash of almond milk a couple times a day this week. Allegedly it supports kidney & liver health – if you’ve attended nearly as many football games as I have this year, you get why this is important. Also, I think I’m just obsessed with the new coffeemaker.

4. Favorite Fallwear: “Scuba hood” zip up from Lululemon. I know I know, I too had to take out a small loan to acquire this piece. I’ll go on record and tell you it’s worth the small fortune. Ultra thick, great fit, dresses up or down. If you live in Chicago, look for the walking graffiti art — it’s probably me, sporting this hoodie for the 5th time this week.

5. Favorite Treat: I mean. Do I have to say anything else about pumpkin butter? If you think you enjoy yogurt, oats, baked goods, or the way you currently perceive the world, just put pumpkin butter on top and see what happens. Mind. Blown.

6: Can’t Stop Watching: The League. Everyone has been telling me I’d love this show for years – why did it take me so long to listen? Hilarious + fantasy football banter + couple who bet on football constantly (sounds eerily like my life). Highly recommend. Even if you aren’t a “football person”.

Menu Monday: Sugar Rush

1 Oct

Miss me over the weekend? Oh sorry guys. I’ve just been a little busy hanging with Michelle.

Pretty epic wedding photobooth corner.

This weekend we traveled to Columbia, SC, where we saw the sights

{South Carolina’s state capitol building}

And even managed to squeeze in a broken-finger-burn session

Lunging around the state capitol. Casual.

A fabulous weekend was had by all, but the weekend (and last week serving time as a gimp) didn’t exactly revolve around the high produce, low sugar diet I strive for.

When I feel this way, I’ve learned over the years that the key is to avoid panicking and/or guilt, emotions that come naturally in the wake of sugar hangover.

The fact of the matter is that today marks a new day, a new week, AND a new month, and by the looks of it so far, seems like all good things lie ahead.

First October sunrise.

I think I’ll outline my steps to curbing sugar cravings later in the week, but I will say one of the very first steps is to make a plan.

Menu items this week:

  • Monday: Trader Joe’s chili for lunch with spinach salad, Italian vegetable salad during the Bears game tonight
  • Tuesday: spinach salad with lentils, slaw vegetables, onion & veggie burger patty drizzled with balsamic, tofu stir fry for dinner
  • Wed: leftover stir fry for lunch, tuna salad (salsa instead of mayo) over spinach + lentil salad for dinner
  • Thursday: leftover salad for lunch, grilled veggie burger patty + cauliflower mashed “potatoes” for dinner
  • Friday: leftovers for lunch, parents in town on Friday so unplanned dinner
  • Breakfasts: 1 egg + veggie juice
  • Snacks (I’ll have a morning & afternoon snack this week): cheesestick, greek yogurts, hummus + veggie dippers

I almost always create a week’s menu on Sundays, otherwise I’d probably just eat almond butter and Chipotle 3 times a day every day. I have to admit, I’m not nearly as diligent with my workout “menu” — I usually fly by the seat of my pants, which shockingly translates into working out about half as much as I intend.

Not this week! I know with the broken finger situation I’ll be even less motivated than usual, and I’ll have to get creative. On this week’s agenda: a new hip hop DVD I was given at FitBloggin, trying a new hip hop class near my apartment (!!), making up a finger-less boot camp circuit, and a couple of elliptical sessions.

Bring it, October!

For the peanut gallery: Do you make a plan for the week’s menu items or do you make it up as you go?

Triathlon Update: How to Not Suck at Running

27 Jul

This post was supposed to make its debut Tuesday – It’s a little hard to have “Triathlon Tueday” on … Friday?

Just go with it.

The name of the game in this neck of the woods has been “getting back into the swing of things” – last weekend was all about getting my Rocky Mountain High on…

My sister-in-law got hitched atop a beautiful mountain in Colorado. Beautiful nuptials, and quality time with JC’s fam!

But back at the ranch, it’s time to get serious about our impending triathlon! In less than a month we’ll be swimming, biking and running towards the finish line. For me, that means dealing with my least favorite leg of the race… the final, the anchor, the dreaded… running.

Cross-training is a must. When I first decided I was going to “do running”, I sought the guidance of the world wide internets to educate me on topics like, say, learning to run for a period of longer than 10 minutes at one time. While the internet overflows with resources, everything seemed to be pointing in the same direction: start small with running/walking, and slowly build up to greater distances.

Simply put, this method just didn’t work for me.

It wasn’t until I gave up on running and turned my attention to other outlets I enjoyed more thoroughly: consistent weight training, mixed with a regular 90 minute dance class once a week. While the dance class helped me work on endurance, I think the strength piece helped me lay a foundation of muscle which turned out to do a lot of the work for me. After training for a significant amount of time – I’m talking 3-4 total body lifting sessions a week for at least 8 weeks – I’ll never forget my first run. JC & I headed out for a 30 minute out & back, and I could run the entire 30 minutes. I owe this entirely to strength training while also discovering a cardio outlet I could actually enjoy instead of suffering through.

It’s all about the experience. This theory is otherwise known as “bribe yourself to squeeze as much enjoyment out of running as you can.” I’m not trying to make mountains of molehills here — let’s face it, running will never be as cool as watching Teen Mom or eating ice cream — but gearing up an exciting playlist, wearing comfortable clothes complete with earbuds that will stay put, and choosing a picturesque route along the lakeshore to serve as a backdrop for my huffing and puffing are all keys to my success.

While you are running, don’t, under any circumstances, stop running. It’s just like that old Winston Churchill quote: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” If you think you’re getting tired, keep running. If your legs feel heavy, keep running. If you feel like your lungs will explode if you take one more step — you get the picture, do. not. stop. running! Everything will just be harder if you do.

I’m certainly no pavement pounding expert and I see approximately zero marathons in my future. However, using the keys I’ve discovered, I’ve been able to unlock a few secrets about running that have allowed me to incorporate it into my rotation.

Are you a runner? Which part of the triathlon trifecta troubles you – swim, bike, or run? Or none of the above, because you’re just a badass like that?

Happy weekend!

Triathlon Tuesday: Sprint Distance

17 Jul

If you’re anything like me, you might occasionally find yourself in the mood to hit the pavement or the gym for a good workout only to find yourself hemming and hawing over what to actually do with your sweat session.

After all, there are a million options plus one hundred schools of thought: old school steady state cardio, like running multiple miles at the same pace? How about trading that run for a shorter session with intense intervals built in to keep your body guessing? And what about weight training?

It’s confusing.

Personally, I’ve found the most success with sticking to activities I can actually (at least mostly) enjoy – and for me, those typically lean more towards weight training and group fitness classes (especially dance.) I’ve tried the whole running forever thing and frankly I just can’t understand what would possess a person to casually run 6,7,8,9+ miles on any given day (more power to you gazelles who can swing it – it’s just not for me.) But when I stick to what I like, I find I actually somewhat regularly scan myself into that gym that I’m paying for month after month.

However! Even though I’d like to think I’ve found my workout niche, I’m still up for a challenge here & there. And despite my status as  a self-proclaimed weight room novice,  I spent most of my growing up years as a swimmer. Being that I now live in the obscenely active city of Chicago I’ve met a number of fine folks who have casually completed triathlons, and so before I could think this through and, you know, come to my senses, I bought myself a one way ticket to Run Bike Swim.

So here we are.

What is it? A Sprint distance triathlon entails a 1/2 mile swim (approximately 33 laps in a 25 yd pool), 12 mile bike, and a 5k (3.1 mile) run, in that order.

How do you train? From what I can tell, training for a triathlon depends completely on where one currently is in terms of cardiovascular shape. I work out pretty regularly, but given that I’m a weenie I decided to be pretty conservative and try out this 13 week “Couch to Triathlon” training program.  So far it hasn’t been outside of my comfort zone, but has provided enough structure to keep me committed to my training “appointments.”

Speaking of which: I find I cannot seriously commit to a workout “plan” unless I physically place each workout onto my calendar. From there, I have to mentally envision this event as an actual appointment that I MUST show up to – no different than a meeting at work or a dinner date with friends. Does it work? Sometimes yes, sometimes I remember that it’s a completely self-imposed gimmicky attempt at getting myself to workout.

If that doesn’t work, I have the publicity of the internets to back me up. I recently posted my hypothetical week-at-a-glance training, and while I never posted the actual result, knowing that I would need to publicly own up to skipping a workout helped me suck it up and just go.  Plus I get a cool little check mark if I just finish the workout, so there is that.

My prospective week in training:

More likely:

We’ll be in Colorado this weekend for JC’s sister’s wedding, so whether or not the ??’s disappear from that 50 minute bike depends entirely upon our hotel setup. But knowing I have to report back on this makes me that much more eager to bang- out an hourlong stationary bike ride whilst a mile high.

Any triathletes out there? Do I have this on lock or am I going to totally need CPR on the beach?

Zumba Jitters

12 Jul

If you’ve read the blog somewhat frequently, you might know that my Tuesday night Hip Hop dance class is my ritual.

You might also know that I make a frequent habit of having a bad class. I dance basic level at a studio, but apparently in the dance world “basic” doesn’t mean easy; it just means “slightly slower-paced than Beginner. G’luck.”

I like the challenge, but sometimes it feels stressful. And I already have work and moving and all that good junk to do the stress thing for me.

So for this week I traded my typical Tuesday popping locking & dropping for something a little more… approachable?

Fact is, I’ve been mulling over the Zumba thing for a while. Tuesday night, I took the plunge!


Calorie burnfest. I certainly didn’t wear a heart monitor or anything, but I’ve read multiple reports of Zumba-goers burning 400-800 calories per session. And me & my drenched-in-sweat-self believed it. All while dancing around to some Shakira? Sign me up!

Many dance-y funktown moves. I have been known to bust a mean chest pop or hip shake in my day. These parts of the choreography I embraced with sassy zeal.

All ages & experience levels welcome. Ages ranged from 25-65 in my class last night. Very different than the exclusively 20-something demographic I’m used to in Basic Hip Hop.

Nice mix between easy to follow & challenging combinations. There’s a brief pause after each song combo, so you can quickly catch your breath and grab some agua. Just when you get comfortable, it gets fast and exhilarating again.

The accessories!! Because Zumba is kind of a giant Latin party lovefest, there are hoards of fun apparel choices to rock out with while you shake it.


Cheese city, at times. You’re really going to have to get over yourself if you want to get anything out of this except besides a wounded pride. Yes, much of the party is a hip shaking good time, but other parts are very much jump-and-clap; kind of a modern day Jazzercise if you will. Who cares if you feel like you belong in a bad American Idol audition at certain points when you’re not feeling the choreography? It only feels worse with self-consciousness.

Varies depending upon instructor. Seems like there is a lot of creative freedom in the choreography department, so I’m sensing it might take a bit of searching around and class sampling to determine which instructor best fits my personal taste.

I really can’t think of any other drawbacks. Once I was 15 minutes in I had a sweaty helluva time, and I think I’ll try some more classes with different instructors to find out whether this is something I’d like to add into my regular rotation! While I really missed the challenge of a full Hip Hop routine, the light-heartedness of a dancey good workout was just what I needed.

Have you ever tried Zumba? Yay or Nay to the dance cardio? Anyone try any new classes or routines outside their comfort zones recently?