Saturday, April 27, 2013

Chicago Running Bloggers

I'm excited to announce that I'm now part of the Chicago Running Bloggers network! The blog is meant to promote and connect the running blog community in the greater Chicago area. There are organized race meet-ups and posts about race re-caps. I'm looking forward to connecting with more runners in Chicago! Check out Chicago Running Bloggers on Facebook and Twitter.

Chicago Running Bloggers is also partnering with Muddy Monk Trail Running to organize a Run for Boston 5K in Libertyville on June 15Immediately following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Jothy Rosenberg created the “Who Says I Can’t Foundation.” The money raised by this event is going to fund programs that get those who became amputees because of the Boston Marathon bombing to rehabilitate and get back into doing something they love: being active. I'm planning to run and can give a ride to anyone from downtown!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Another Ellie Review + GIVEAWAY!

20 percent of Ellie

That's right, one giveaway ended last week and another one is starting today! I recently received some more workout clothing from Ellie (some provided by Ellie, some I purchased myself). One of the tops doesn't fit me so I'm giving it away to one of my readers! Also, my readers get 20% their first purchase, just click here!

First of all, Ellie is a new company that provides quality athletic wear at a great price. I've been impressed with each piece I've tried out at the gym. The clothing is fashionable, functional, and much less expensive than popular athletic brands. My friend and I were talking the other day about how we do our laundry based on when we run out of workout clothes. This is a good problem to have because it means I'm working out a lot but, with the amount that I do workout, I really could use some more athletic clothing. I also like that Ellie is fashionable because working out, especially in group setting like I do, is really a social activity, so why not look good? (Don't worry, I'm not one of those that wears make-up at 6 am in the gym...)

The Little Black Capri are just as comfortable and amazing at the Electric Love capris I got last month. The waistband is wide and they are a good length. They also mold to my skin while I'm working out so it doesn't even feel like I'm wearing pants. I always do the "squat test" with workout bottoms and these pass the test! I'm wearing a size S.

The Black Swan Tank is a little tighter than my usual taste (this is an XS and next time I will get a S). I do however really like the design on the back, it is very pretty. I wore this top to my first Bikram (hot) yoga class and it was actually good that it was tight. It held sweat well in the 110-degree room. The top is also long which is great because it doesn't ride up as easily. The top does contain a shelf bra which was fine for me in yoga but you would probably want to wear a sports bra if you're larger than a B cup or doing an intense activity. 

The Kiss Me Capri are also very similar to the other capris with a wide waistband (I'm wearing a size S). I love the pink detail and it matches the Under Your Spell bra. I got the bra in a size XS and it definitely runs large so I would order a size down. I love how pretty it is and the back detail is great. The bra is not tight enough for running but great for other activities (medium support).

The Vixen top is so pretty and fashionable but I was sent a size S and it's too big on me, so I'm giving it away to one of my readers! I have a small upper-body but it should fit anyone that usually wears a size S or M in tops. It's sold out online so this is your only chance to get it!!

How to Win

All you have to do is tell me what your favorite workout was this week by commenting below and say that you did so in the Rafflecopter app below. Then, you can also have bonus entries by tweeting about the giveaway, following me on BlogLovinTwitterFacebook, and Pinterest and by following Ellie on Twitter and Facebook. If the app isn't working for you just say so in the comments and I will manually add you. Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only!

Also, remember that my readers get 20% off! Just click here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Run for Boston

I am speechless after yesterday's bombings at the Boston Marathon and appalled by the attack that occurred on such a sacred and peaceful event. As a runner who only hopes to one day qualify for the Boston Marathon, my thoughts are with the runners, spectators, and people of Boston. I'm relieved to know that my friends are unharmed but saddened by all of the tragedy. The Boston Marathon is an international event  celebrating the natural human sport and it breaks my heart to see it tainted by terror. I know that all of us will come together to honor those affected by yesterday's events and support Boston in a time of need. Whether I'm doing sprints in crossfit or a long run along the lakeshore, I will always remember to run for Boston.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Running Barefoot

I got my first pair of Vibram FiveFingers three years ago and have bought two more pair since then, so you know I'm a fan of minimalist shoes. When I first got my VFFs and started running in them, I did too much too fast. One time, after a 5-mile run in my VFFs, I wore high heels all night at a banquet. It was too much for my feet and I got a stress fracture that really flared up a week later. I went to a podiatrist and he told me to stop running in my VFFs. So I did and continued to only use them for crossfit and other sports. Now I'm increasing my running volume training for the Indy 500 Mini Marathon and I'm finding that my knee injuries are coming back and I'm just not liking running in my normal running shoes. They feel stiff the and upper hurts the top of my foot (I have a high instep). Actually, I switched from my Brooks to my Nike FlyKnits because the upper is thin and doesn't hurt my foot. I'll run the half in my Nikes.

Now I'm considering going back to running in my VFFs and doing it right this time. The Vibram FiveFingers website has tips on running "barefoot" and even a training schedule (below).

I've already completed the first two steps because I've been wearing my VFFs and New Balance Minimus for crossfit (and other things) for a while now. Therefore, I'm ready to move in to running and increasing my VFF running distance by 10% each week. I decided to start with 2 miles last week, and I made a schedule increasing this run by 10% per week (below).

It's a huge coincidence that this schedule ends at 26.2 miles on the week of October 7th because the Chicago Marathon is October 13! So, if I follow this schedule, I could be ready to run the marathon in my VFFs. This would be really great and I'm willing to try it.

For more information about why barefoot/minimalist running is good for you, check out Podiatrist Dr. Nick Campitelli's Running Blog.

Do you run or workout in minimalist shoes?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Karyn's Raw Detox: Day 28 - Final Post

This post is part of a series in which I am sharing my journey of Karyn's Raw Detox program. Read my other posts below:

Free Seminar
Day 0
Days 1-2
Days 3-6
Days 7-10
Days 11-14
Days 15-19
Days 20-27

Day 28 - Final Post
I'm not actually writing this post on Day 28 (last Wednesday) because I had to leave town for a conference last week and didn't have time to write. We had a "graduation" party last Wednesday which was a really good time to reflect on our journey and also hear about other's experiences. There were both newbies (like me) and people who have detoxed with Karyn before in my class. Therefore, each person's perspective was very unique and I certainly learned quite a bit engaging with others. I think the most important thing I learned at the graduation party was that going through a raw food detox doesn't not automatically make you 100% healthy or a raw foodist. The detox gives you a starting point but you still have to work hard afterwards to maintain a healthy lifestyle and continue to detox. In this post, I want to share my overall impression of Karyn's detox program. And since I strive to be honest on my blog, I will share both the good and the bad.

I feel like fresh spring flowers after the detox!

  • Learning how to eat. Karyn's detox is a learning experience and one thing that she constantly stresses is to fuel your body so it can run like the magnificent machine that it is. Our bodies are extremely complex systems with atoms, molecules, cells, and organs. It is best to fuel your body with what nature intended, or it won't work properly. This means we should eat foods in their most natural form, with vegetables as the foundation. After the detox, I am always thinking about what food will fuel my body rather than what will just make me feel full or satisfy my appetite. This is tricky but I found that during the last week of the detox, I was eating less than usual, but I did not feel hungry or have cravings. I was adequately fueling my body.
  • Sick no more. 80% of our health comes from our gut but our society has come to the point where it accepts diseases like diabetes and cancer as just a fact of life. Karyn proves during the detox that you don't get sick because of bad genes or flu season, you get sick because your immune system is compromised by what you put in your body. Other than detox symptoms, I felt much healthier during the the past month and I'm hopeful that I will never get another sinus infection as long as I continue to eat healthy and detox. There are also some amazing stories about people that have had chronic illness and been cured by a raw food detox.
  • Supplements like crazy. This program did involve a lot of supplements that I honestly just found annoying after a while. I'm not good at remembering to take things things throughout the day and I certainly had trouble during the last month. I value the importance of the supplements but I felt like it was overkill. However, detox is supposed to be overkill on your body so I understand the process. As a new person to the detox, you will probably be as overwhelmed as I was by the amount of things you have to do and take each week.
  • Hard work. Speaking of the amount of work you have to do each week, this detox is hard work. You will not breeze through it even if you are already a relatively healthy person like me. There were many times when I wanted to give up and I almost did during the juice fast. I'm not sure I would have made it if I didn't have my blog to hold me accountable. I took me a ton of time in the mornings and evenings before work to prepare all of my foods and supplements. I also chose not to go out with friends so I wouldn't be tempted to eat bad food or drink alcohol. I did go to the movies one night and it was torture trying to resist popcorn. You will have to put time and effort in to the detox to make it work.
  • Invest now, save later. You will also have to spend money on this detox. The class itself is $250 ($50 off is you sign up early and half price for returning customers). You will also spend $100-$200 each week on food and supplements. You may also spend even more money on kitchen appliances if you choose. I bought a dehydrator for $180 and a Vitamix blender for $450. Of course, I'll keep using the appliances, but my credit card bill did not look good this month. Be prepared to spend money but also be prepared to save money. What will heart disease, diabetes, or cancer cost you in the future? Compared to American healthcare costs, the cost of this detox is nothing (and should be covered by insurance as preventative care). I used to buy only the cheapest foods at Wal-Mart when I was an undergrad in college because I wanted to spend as little as possible on food. But we shouldn't have that mentality considering the fact that we can't live without food. We should be spending all of our money on food. I finally started eating healthy in grad school and it was possible, even on my poverty-level research assistant salary. You will save money during the detox not going out to eat or buying alcohol at bars, for example. If you truly think you can't afford the detox, then I would suggest buying Karyn's book and doing what you can.
  • Look and feel amazing. I wrote last week about how I felt completely amazing after finishing the juice cleanse and continuing to eat raw food. I am amazed at how much of a difference a raw vegan diet makes. I had limitless energy and great workouts. I never felt irritated (even in Chicago traffic). I felt completely at ease with my body and my mind. This is something that is not achievable without a healthy diet and exercise and completely makes this whole process worth it.
  • Just do it. I know a lot of you are probably hesitant about giving up meat, eggs, dairy (cheese!), and cooked food. You can do anything for a month. Don't think about the detox as giving up all of your favorite foods, but rather as adding nutritious raw foods. You can go back to eating your normal diet after the detox but you'll find that it doesn't make you feel very good.
Kelp noodle salad

Moving Forward
Now that the detox is over, how do I plan to continue my health journey? My goal right now is to eat 60% raw vegan, which means eating raw until dinner. I've mastered some raw lunch recipes and I think I'm ready to do that. I also consider Vega One in my morning smoothie "raw" because it is practically raw, and very healthy anyway. I also plan to keep on eating and drinking Rejuvelac, energy soup, and sprouts salad and taking supplements of enzymes, spirulina, and chlorella. Finally, I plan to do Karyn's full detox twice per year and mini detoxes in between (including enemas/colonics). I've learned a great deal from this experience and I'm excited to continue my health journey and share it with you!

Thank you to Karyn Calabrese and her team for providing me the opportunity to participate in the detox program and share it with my readers.

Disclaimer: Karyn's Raw provided the detox class to me for free and is giving me a discount on the supplements for writing about my experience. The text and opinions are completely my own. You can learn more about the detox class here or buy Karyn's book here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Thrive Forward Sport Edition Launches Today!

Vega is one of the first companies that really tailors to plant-based athletes since founder Brendan Brazier is a professional endurance triathlete. Using himself as the experimental subject, he figured out that his athletic performance peaked on a whole-foods, mostly raw, plant-based diet. The Thrive Diet reduces stress on the body and allows you to recover quicker after workouts by focusing on alkaline-forming foods with high-nutrient density.

Thrive Forward launched earlier this year as an easy-to-use website for understanding the science and philosophy behind the Thrive Diet and how to implement it in your life. Well, now I'm excited to announce that Thrive Forward Sports Edition is launching today!

I'm super excited for the new lessons because the Indy 500 Mini Marathon is just a month away! The Thrive Forward Sports Edition includes videos with successful plant-based athletes. One of the athletes that talks about endurance training is Hillary Biscay. Hillary is a long-distance runner and triathlete and her notable accomplishments include the 2008 Ironman Wisconsin Champion, five 2nd-place iron-distance finishes, and 29 top-5 iron-distance finishes. In this video, Hillary and Brendan discuss how to fuel and sustain your long workouts.

There are some really good points in the video about fueling your workout or race. You need simple and complex carbs for fuel, and also nutrients to replace electrolytes lost in sweat (not just plain water). If you're doing a much longer workout or race, then protein and fat are also important. By far the best gels that I've every used while running are the Vega Sport Endurance Gels. They are plant-based and made out of dates, electrolytes, and coconut oil.

Did you notice in the video how Hillary said that a half-marathon is a "short" race? Well, for most people, it's not. Don't let the amazing success of these athletes make you think that proper nutrition is just for race winners. Properly fueling your workouts will help you actually reap the benefits of your workout, whether it is a 20-minute jog, 10-mile run, or exercise class. There is no point in working out if you eat crap.

Also, everyone is always so concerned about my protein intake as a runner and crossfitter. Well, do Hillary and Brendan look like they get enough protein? Look at those plant-based muscles!

Have you tried any Vega Sport products?

What questions do you have about fueling your workouts?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Karyn's Raw Detox: Days 20-27

This post is part of a series in which I am sharing my journey of Karyn's Raw Detox program. Read my other posts below:

Free Seminar
Day 0
Days 1-2
Days 3-6
Days 7-10

Days 20-27
Remember how last week I said I felt amazing after the juice cleanse? Well, it lasted all week! I feel like I had and eye-opening experience last week and "became" a raw-foodist. I didn't get too crazy with my recipes but I felt completely satisfied with eating raw food all day. My mind was clear, my energy was sustained throughout the day, and my workouts were great. Here is what my daily raw-food menu looked like (pictures below):

  • Breakfast (pre-workout) - cup of Rejuvelac
  • During workout - coconut water
  • Breakfast (post-workout) - Karyn's green meal smoothie or Vega One smoothie
  • Morning snack - fresh vegetable juice and fruit
  • Lunch - sprouts salad
  • Lunch #2 (about 3 pm) - Energy Soup
  • Afternoon snacks - Kamut drink and Vitamin O (hydrogen peroxide mixed with water
  • Dinner - "sushi" rolls (almond pate and avocado wrapped in nori seaweed) or raw flatbread with cashew "cheese" spread 
  • Dessert - raw cashew chocolate chip cookie

On this diet, I ate about every 2 hours and kept satisfied and full of energy. I was surprised by this because I felt like I wasn't eating enough (based on the looks of my food) but didn't feel hungry. I usually feel hungry all day at work when I just eat a salad for lunch and then I come home starving for dinner. But really, I just wasn't making my salads nutritious enough with sprouts and the energy soup. This diet also has much more protein than you would think a raw diet would have. There are lots of nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and rejuvelac.

Sprouts Salad
Ingedients: mixed green sprouts (from store), sprouted sunflower seeds and fenugreek seeds (sprouted at home), pine nuts, chopped red bell peppers and tomato, and Karyn's lemon dressing 

Raw Nut and Seed Flatbread
Recipe from Chef Amber Shea's Practically Raw cookbook

Raw Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from Chef Amber Shea's Practically Raw cookbook

Easter Weekend Fail

Well, I did so good all week and ate my raw food like I was supposed to and then I crashed and burned on Easter weekend. My boyfriend and drove down to Indiana to visit his parents and family for the weekend. They are the kind of family that eat the typical Midwestern "meat and potatoes" diet and think I am weird for eating plant-based. I'm used to that because most people, especially in the Midwest, think that way. And, I expect to eat less-then-healthy when I am around my boyfriend's family. I can only resist to a certain point when everyone around me is eating cupcakes.

I actually packed quite a bit of food and supplements for the weekend, including everything that I listed in my raw menu above. I bought this awesome (and very cheap) cooler tote to transport it all. So I actually did pretty good with my main meals and eating the food that I brought with me. I even had energy soup for Easter dinner. I'm glad that even though they think I'm weird, my boyfriend's family respects that I eat differently and usually won't eat their food, even at a nice holiday dinner. I usually stock up on sides (mashed potatoes and cooked veggies) during these family dinners since I won't eat meat at all. It was the dessert and chocolate candy that got me. I am so bad as resisting milk chocolate and cake/cupcakes that I absolutely can't have it in my house or I will eat it. So, I had some very not raw and not healthy treats over the weekend.

Come Monday, I literally felt like I had a hangover from food (I didn't drink any alcohol). I was tired, my workout sucked, I had a headache, my stomach hurt, and I just felt like I had absolutely no energy. I ate my raw menu but still didn't feel my best at the end of the day. Today I feel better but I am still bloated and have a slight headache. I feel like I completely ruined the cleanse just by having a few treats over the weekend! It is astonishing how bad your body can feel after eating bad food. Nothing, not even your mind, works at 100% with bad nourishment. I can't believe that people feel like this everyday without even realizing it.

So eating badly over the weekend was very eye-opening for me and perhaps convinced me even more than the cleanse itself that I need to focus much more on nourishment rather than filling foods. I also need to bring my own desserts to parties so I stand a chance against cupcakes. I think I need to be especially strict with not eating any dairy whatsoever because I have been slacking on that in the past year.

I'm going to write a final post on Thursday about my overall impression with Karyn's Raw Detox so stay tuned!

Did you splurge on any unhealthy meals or treats this weekend? It will make me feel less guilty if you say yes...

Disclaimer: Karyn's Raw provided the detox class to me for free and is giving me a discount on the supplements for writing about my experience. The text and opinions are completely my own. You can learn more about the detox class here or buy Karyn's book here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

March Update on New Years Resolutions

March is over, 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 - Still can't do more than a couple. What am I not getting?
  • Do regular push-ups (not on knees) - I guess I didn't really focus on my crossfit goals as much this month because I was so focused on the detox.
  • Do all pull-up workouts without a band (unassisted kipping pull-ups) - COMPLETE!

  • Running

    Beat half-marathon PR of 1:55 in the Indy 500 Mini Marathon - I'm on track with my training plan!

  • Participate in the Thrive Forward program - I've been going through the videos and learning even more about clean and healthy eating. Thrive is also launching a sport program, so I'm excited for that!
  • Eat 50% raw food - If you've been following me for the past month, you know that I've eaten mostly raw food because of Karyn's Raw Detox. I've also learned how to make some delicious raw food recipes, like the raw bread pictured above. I call this goal COMPLETE!
  • Go back to not eating sugar - I did so well all month until Easter yesterday. And now I feel like crap.

  • How are your New Years Resolutions going? (Do you even remember what they were?)