Thursday, February 28, 2013

February update on New Years Resolutions

It's the last day of February, which means I need to update you on my New Year's Resolutions! I listed my health and fitness goals in my blog post on January 1st and since they are measurable goals, I want to provide an update on them every month to hold myself accountable. So here's a list of my goals and an update on how I'm doing:


  • Learn double unders - I slacked off with this the past month but started practicing again this week and got 12 in a row today! My plan is to make sure I bring my rope to class every day so I can practice.
  • Do regular push-ups (not on knees) - Little progress...practicing needs to become an everyday thing.
  • Do all pull-up workouts without a band (unassisted kipping pull-ups) - All of my pull-up workouts in February were unassisted. I think this goal is COMPLETE!

  • Girls WOD at RNCF

  • Beat half-marathon PR of 1:55 in the Indy 500 Mini Marathon - I have stuck to my training plan pretty well so far except for last week because it was cold and snowy. I plan to get back on track this week with 7 miles.

  • Eating
  • Participate in the Thrive Forward program - I've been going through the videos and learning even more about clean and healthy eating. I highly encourage you to check out the website!
  • Go gluten-free - So I ate gluten-free in January and didn't really see a difference. Here's my post about it. I think I am scratching this one off the list and adding "eating 50% raw food." I'm hoping this will happen after Karyn's Raw Detox in March.
  • Go back to not eating sugar - I did not do well with this in February! It all started with cake on my birthday, sweets around V-day, and Ryan just got me some cupcakes. FAIL! But the March detox 

  • Are you gluten-free?

    How are your New Years Resolutions going? 

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

    Electric Love Capri by Ellie - and 20% off!

    Hey friends! I'm excited to tell you that I am an Ellie Ambassador! Ellie is a new website/company formed from pv.body. It features fashionable, high-quality athletic clothing at an affordable price. A new line of clothing comes out every month and Ellie sent me two samples from the February line to try out. The top was too big so I'm exchanging it but I tried out the Electric Love Capris today at CrossFit and they were amazing!

    First of all, I got compliments from both girls AND boys on my new pants, probably because of the bright color! I really only own black and gray capris/leggings so these are a nice addition to my wardrobe. When I first opened the package, the capris looked really small and didn't look like they could fit. However, they are extremely light and stretchy and fit perfectly when I put them on. For your reference, I got these in a size S and I am 5'8, 130 lbs, and wear a pant size 4-6.

    The WOD at RNCF today involved a lot of different movements, like back squats, lunges, kettlebell swings, and pull-ups and the capris moved well with my body. I often find that tights can be stiff but these are the opposite and really feel like they are a part of your skin. I also like how long they are because I was able to wear my boots in the snow on the way to the gym and my skin wasn't exposed. I was really sweaty by the end of  the workout but the capris still felt light and didn't feel as if they were stuck to my legs. I am very satisfied after working out in these and I can't wait to get more Ellie bottoms!

    As a perk of being one my readers, you get 20% your first order just by clicking on the banner below and signing up for Ellie! You can buy the clothing at regular price or join the Fit Fashionista Club for $49.95 per month. Each month you can pick any two pieces from that month's line. $49.95 for two high-quality fitness clothing items is really a good deal. The best part is, if you don't want anything from any month's line, you can just opt out that month and not be charged the fee (must do this by the 7th of the month). As a member of the club, you also get free shipping and returns/exchanges on all of your orders. High-quality and fashionable fitness clothing is really hard to find at a good price, so I'm really excited about Ellie and I hope you sign up!

    This post was not sponsored by Ellie, however they did provide me with the clothing item as part of the Ellie Ambassador program. All opinions are my own.

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

    Raw Pesto Zucchini Noodles

    Remember how I got a new vegetable spiralizer? Well, I've put it to some good use by spiralizing zucchini and trying some raw sauces. I made a raw marinara-type sauce but it didn't come out as good as I hoped. However, This spinach-walnut pesto sauce from Practically Raw by Amber Shea Crawley turned out to be delicious! First of all, I really like this cookbook and Chef Amber Shea. The recipes are "practically" raw so they can be adapted to be either cooked or raw and you don't have to have all of the raw food equipment. There are also substitutions listed for ingredients and not too many unfamiliar ingredients, which is great for people new to raw food, like myself.

    Ingredients - 4 servings (recipe from Practically Raw)

    1/3 cup dry walnuts
    1 small clove garlic
    3/4 tsp. sea salt
    1 cup fresh basil
    1 1/2 cups packed fresh spinach
    1/2 tsp. lemon juice
    2 Tbs. olive oil
    2-3 Tbs. water
    4 medium zucchini, spiralized

    Combine the walnuts, garlic, nutritional yeast, and sea salt in a food processor and process until the walnuts are crumbs. Add the basil, spinach, lemon juice and olive oil and pulse until mixed. I used parsley instead of the spinach because I didn't have any on hand. Add water to the mixture until it is spreadable, I used 2 tablespoons. Add the pesto (see picture above) to the zucchini noodles. You can also use spaghetti squash or kelp noodles. I added kalamata olives and some pine nuts to my noodles, as well.

    What's your favorite "raw sauce"?

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

    2013 Chicago Marathon!!

    I DID IT! I signed up for the Chicago Marathon! I had been planning to sign up for a while but I really got cold feet this morning. And then registration too forever because the site was down. 

    Running a marathon is a big commitment with all of the training you have to do. The 15-25 miles runs take a long time and you have to prep the day before with good food and sleep. And since I do these long runs on the weekends, it kind of impairs my social life. I can't go out one night and expect to run a good 20 miles the next day.

    The good thing is that a few of my friends are also running the race, so I'll have people to train with. And I also have Ryan's support of course. I'll outline my training plan after the Indy 500 Mini Marathon in May.

    Ryan and I before the 2010 Chicago Marathon.

    Have you signed up for any races this year?

    What is your 2013 Chicago Marathon goal?

    Monday, February 18, 2013

    8 workouts last week! and Nike+ iPod

    I guess I got some major fitness inspiration last week and did quite a bit of working out! I went to Crossfit on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, R3 spinning on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday, did a 3-mile run at the grand opening of NTC Lincoln Park (see post) on Thursday, and a 5.5-mile run on Friday morning. Today is Monday and I am taking a much-need rest day because my body hurts!

    I would honestly work out twice a day more often if I had the time. The problem is that I work 9 hours and commute 2 hours a day, which doesn't leave much more time during the week for many activities. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep is important and I also like to spend about an hour relaxing with Ryan before bed. I work 9 hours a day so I can get every other Friday off. I usually spend these Fridays working out (long runs), catching up on my blog, and doing errands. There is actually a really nice trail where I work in the Chicago suburbs, so once sunset gets late enough, I can do a short half-hour run before I drive back to the city and still get home at a decent hour. Running more will be important for training for the half and (possibly) full.

    I mentioned in my last post that NTC Lincoln Park has a Nike+ Run Club. I plan to join them on a run this Saturday so I tested the Nike+ app on my iPod nano on my run last Friday. I mapped the run before I left so I knew how far I was running. After the first 2 miles I meant to pause the app while I was waiting to cross Lakeshore Dr. but I accidentally ended the workout instead, so that messed up counting my total mileage  I figured out that you have to pause the app using the pause button on your headphones (not by touching the iPod). This is important because I run through the city and often have to stop at a stoplight. So I turned the app back on for the last 3.5 miles of the run. By the end, it had said that I ran something like 3.8 miles which I knew was inaccurate because I mapped the run (and I was not running below 8:00/mile pace). So I calibrated the workout on the app and it should presumably be much more accurate next time.

    I was thinking about getting a Garmin GPS watch but just using my little clip-on iPod Nano (unfortunately, the newest model does not have the convenient clip) might be enough since I already run with it for music anyway. I also like the Nike+ website (pictured above). It tracks yours runs and gives you a chart of your pace. The app and website are free. I think the app on your smartphone uses GPS outside so it is more accurate. The iPod nano comes with the app and you don't need the shoe sensor for it.

    Do you ever do 2 (or more) workouts per day?

    Have you used Nike+ to track your runs?

    Friday, February 15, 2013

    Nike Training Club (NTC) Lincoln Park

    I had the opportunity yesterday to check out the brand new Nike Training Club (NTC) in Lincoln Park (Chicago)! You may have heard of or used the NTC app, which has lots of great workouts and acts like a personal trainer. Well, NTC Lincoln Park is the app come to life! It's the first studio of it's kind. There's a store downstairs with the latest Nike apparel and products (pictured below) and then a spacious studio upstairs that holds free classes like yoga and workouts from the NTC app. One of my friends from college, Kate, actually teaches the NTC class on Sundays (trust me, she will kick your butt). Also, this place just caters to female athletes, which is awesome! (Unless you're a guy.)

    My friend Cameron and I went to the grand opening event last night, "Find Your Perfect Fit and Commit." This event was all about running which is of course why Cam and I wanted to attend. We committed to running the Indy 500 Mini Marathon in May and also marathons in the fall (Cam Milwaukee and me Chicago). Cam plans to break 4 hours! 

    After committing to our runs we got to try on the new Nike FlyKnit Lunar1+ running shoes. Then, the trainers gave us a pep talk and told us all about NTC and the Nike+ Run Club (pictured below). The NTC Lincoln Park class schedule actually includes runs led by trainers. Then we headed out into the cold for a 3-mile run led by Nike master trainer Marie Purvis. It was such an honor to run (and keep up) with her since she helped create the NTC workouts and trains with Nike pro athletes! During the run, Nike also got some model-looking guys to cheer us on, now that was a good Valentine's Day treat!

    After the run, we had a little after party back in the studio and the trainers announced the Nike+ NWM Virtual 10K on March 10, which Cam and I both signed up for. Sadly, we had to leave quickly to make our dodgeball game but it was such a fun event!

    I can't even explain how excited I am about NTC Lincoln Park and the free classes and run club! I'm going to participate in the run club to help train for my races this year. It will be great to have the support of an amazing female athlete community to help me in this journey. Plus, my (already dominated by Nike) workout wardrobe is going to expand!

    Be sure to check out NTC Lincoln Park at 833 W. Armitage Ave. and on Facebook and Twitter. You can sign up for the free classes here and comment below if you live in Chicago and want to join me in the Nike+ Run Club!

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

    New Vegetable Spiralizer!

    I'm attempting some raw recipes this month as I prepare for my raw food cleanse in March and there are a few essential kitchen tools that you need for a satisfying raw food diet (raw food is not just salads!). I decided to go ahead and purchase the cheapest tool on my list of things to buy...a vegetable spiralizer! (The other two are a Vitamix blender/processor and dehydrator which will cost me about $400-$500 total.)

    After doing some research on Amazon and on other blogs, I decided to purchase this GEFU Spirelli Spiral Cutter. The reviews were somewhat mixed but the small size of this appliance compared to others really attracted me. I have a small kitchen so I don't like to collect big appliances. Plus, it was only $23.55.

    The picture above shows me using the spiralizer with a zucchini. I was really skeptical about this tool when I opened the box because it looked really small and flimsy. However, I was extremely surprised at how easy it was to use and how well it turned the zucchini into pasta-like noodles. It was really easy to rotate the vegetable through the spiralizer. It even has a hole left in the middle so you don't use the seed part in your noodles. There are also two sizes of strips you can make. Below is the finished product of the whole zucchini and I just added some tomato sauce and olives to make my lunch. What a fun way to eat vegetables!!

    Do you have any good recipes that use spiralized vegetables?

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

    Vega One Giveaway Winners

    Congrats to Lizzie, Rian, and Sonia for winning the Vega One Giveaway! And thanks to everyone else who entered! I enjoyed hearing about what all of you eat for breakfast. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day which is why it's important to eat/drink something that is nutrient-packed.

     Even if you didn't win, you can still buy Vega One - French Vanilla on Amazon here.

    Random numbers that chose winning entries:

    What the winners eat for breakfast:

    *Sonia's tweet actually won

    Friday, February 8, 2013

    Karyn's Raw for Dinner and Detox

    Don't forget to enter my Vega One nutritional shake giveaway!!

    You may remember that I went to Karyn's Fresh Corner in Chicago a couple of months ago and had an amazing raw dinner. It spiked my curiosity for raw food because we didn't eat a single salad and the food was sooo good. I then went to a free seminar where I got to meet Karyn Calabrese and I was really inspired by her story and the state of her health. She is a 65-year-old woman with more energy and better health than a 25-year-old (me). I've decided to participate in Karyn's detox program in March. It involves eating raw foods and taking other steps to detox the body. I'll be blogging all about my experience! I'm already more prepared for a detox than most people because I already eat mostly vegan and healthy foods. But I still want to prepare myself this month by trying new raw recipes and juicing more often. I'll post my recipes if they come out good!

    My friend and I got coupons at the free seminar so we went to Karyn's Fresh Corner cafe for dinner last week. I had the Swedish Crepe and it was amazing of course! I need to learn how to make these very creamy sauces (topping the picture below).

    Then, it was my birthday on Wednesday so Ryan took me to Karyn's Cooked, which is closer to our apartment. We had some vegan pizza as an appetizer. Ryan had vegan lasagna, which he devoured! I had the rueben sandwich which was good but it tasted a little too much like meat for my liking. 

    We were really full from dinner but took home some vegan cookie's and cream cake...delicious!

    Have you done a detox? What kind?

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    Vega One nutritional shake GIVEAWAY!

    Hey friends! It's my birthday today but instead of giving gifts to me, I'm giving away some free stuff to YOU! If you follow my blog you know that I'm a huge fan of the Thrive Forward program and Vega products. I drink a morning power smoothie made with Vega One nearly every day. Vega One is by far the best plant-based protein and nutrition supplement that I have found. It contains 15g of plant-based protein and 50% of your recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals. It also contains superfoods like chlorella and maca and other antioxidants and probiotics. Perhaps the best part is that it's free of common allergens, such as milk, corn, and soy. All of the flavors really do taste good and work well in any smoothie recipe. Try my delicious pumpkin smoothie recipe! If you don't have a blender, the powder does mix well with just water, I've done this on travel.

    Vega has graciously offered to give away three tubs of Vega One- French Vanilla to my readers! To enter, all you have to do is comment below and tell me what you currently eat for breakfast. You can also get an extra entry by tweeting this post and tagging me @LenkaKollar and @VegaTeam, just comment again below that you did so and include your Twitter handle. Finally, be sure to follow Vega on Facebook and Twitter and check out  the Thrive Forward program. And don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest!

    You have until Friday, February 8, at midnight to enter and then I will pick three winners using a random number generator. This giveaway is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

    Gluten-sensitive or not?

    One of my New Years Resolutions this year is to eat not eat gluten/wheat. I got tested for the genetic mutation that causes celiac disease last year but I do not have it. However, many people, including medical researchers and doctors, have claimed that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may exist. I just came across this article on the topic on the NY Times website.

    When I first started eating vegan, whole-wheat bread was a much bigger part of my diet than in the past year. I slowly phased wheat out more and more from my diet as the idea of gluten sensitivity became more popular. I've always noticed that eating wheat does make me feel extra full and a bit sluggish after eating it. In the most basic form, it seems that my body exerts more energy (thus the tired feeling) to digest wheat, perhaps because gluten (a composite of starch and proteins) is more difficult to break down. And I've also noticed that white bread and tortillas make me feel much worse than sprouted wheat, like Ezekiel 4:9 bread. So maybe there is a refined flour issue here too? Wheat (and gluten) was only introduced into the human diet 10,000 years ago so the digestive tract has not had the time to evolve to digest it yet (the whole premise of the Paleo Diet). I think that there is a lot we don't know about whether humans can digest wheat or not, as mentioned in the NY Times article.

    Another point to make is that casein (found in dairy) is a similar protein to gluten and digested by the same enzymes in the intestine. I know for sure that I am sensitive to dairy (and not necessarily lactose-intolerant) so this makes me think that I may also be gluten sensitive. Interesting enough, the Autism Research Institute is now recommending a gluten-free, casein-free diet for autistic children because it seems that symptoms improve after adopting this diet.

    A fellow blogger, Mara, at Cheap & Simple Vegan also decided to do the gluten-free experiment for a month. She tested eating wheat at the end of January and realized that it made her feel awful so she decided to go gluten-free for good. I took her idea of testing eating wheat again this past weekend. First, I ate a Potbelly sandwich with whole-wheat bread after my workout on Friday. It did not immediately made me feel bad. However, I did feel more tired than usual in the afternoon, and I had to drink some coffee to feel motivated enough to do chores around the house. I also ate out at a Mexican restaurant that night and had tacos with white flour tortillas. Again, I did not feel bad immediately but I did feel extremely full and barely ate half of my meal. I ate a couple more bread things throughout the weekend. I must say that I feel much more tired than usual this week so far. I also ate other unhealthy things this weekend like alcohol, sugar, and even some cheese dip (thank you Superbowl). So, I can't attribute my tiredness to gluten. Therefore, I am going to continue gluten-free for the rest of the month and then try to eat wheat again (without other toxins) and see how I feel.

    Have you tried the gluten-free experiment?

    Monday, February 4, 2013

    Fitness Log: 1/27 - 2/1

    Sunday 1/27 - Spinning at R3
    Spinning class at Real Ryder Revolution
    This class was a really good one and I'm finally starting to feel more comfortable on the R3 bikes. (They are suspended and actually "turn" so you have to use your core and arms to stabalize - much more like riding a real bike.) 

    Monday 1/28 - Rest Day
    I was going to get up in the morning and run, but it didn't happen...oooops!

    Tuesday 1/29 - Crossfit
    Pre-WOD: Max Front Squat - 125 lbs. (same as PR)
    WOD: 12 Minute AMRAP with a BUY-IN
    100 Squats buy in
    Remaining time: 
    5 Push Press ()
    10 Burpee
    15 Box Jump (20)

    Rounds: 4 + 15 

    Wednesday 1/30 - Crossfit
    WOD: 5 Rounds:

    5 Sumo Deadlift High Pull (53)
    10 Front Squat (53)
    15 Hang Power Clean (53)
    20 Hand Release Push Up (on knees)
    25 Sit Up
    Time: ~20 min.

    This was a long and hard workout, the cleans were probably the hardest. My legs were also sore from the front squats yesterday.

    Thursday 1/31 - Crossfit
    WOD: 4 Unbroken Rounds:
    10 Pull Up
    15 Kettlebell Swings (35)
    20 Burpee
    25 Squat
    Time: ~20 min.
    I did this workout almost Rx! I did do each round unbroken but only used the 35# kettlebell instead of the Rx 53#. My biggest accomplishment was doing 4 sets of 10 pull-ups in a row (unbroken). 

    I'm on the right at the bottom of my pull-up (from RNCF)

    Friday 2/1 - 3 mile run
    I wanted to run 4 miles outside today, according to my training schedule, but it was far too cold. Like 3 degrees F cold. So I ran on the treadmill in my building's gym. I hate running on treadmills so I could only stand to do the 3 miles and then I played some basketball.

    Friday, February 1, 2013

    New shoes! Brooks PureCadence

    I finally replaced my old Brooks PureCadence with some new hot pink ones! I had my other pair for over a year and it was really time to get some new ones. Thanks to my best friend Jessica and her family's shoe store, Snyderman's Shoes in Naples, FL, for getting them to me!

    I really wanted to start my half marathon training today and run 4 miles outside, but its 3 degrees Fahrenheit in Chi-town right now so that didn't happen. I broke them in on the treadmill instead and they feel great! Maybe it will be warm enough to run outside next week!

    Did you get any new running shoes for the new year?