Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Recipe: Mexican Quinoa Bowl

This has been a really busy summer for me, as I'm sure it has for other people. Between traveling, marathon training, two kickball leagues, enjoying summer weather, and obviously my full-time job, I haven't had much time to focus on nutrition. My goal of eating mostly raw after Karyn's Raw detox has been on the back-burner. And because I've been too busy to prepare food in advance to pack for my entire day, I've had to eat out a lot. Now, it's not like I'm eating super unhealthy fast food (more like Potbelly and Chipotle), but I need to pack more of my own food for lunch and dinner. So instead of making raw recipes that I'm unfamiliar with, I'm going back to the basics and making things that I know how to make well. They're not as healthy as raw foods, but still quite healthy. For me, this means quinoa salads, sandwiches with Ezekiel 4:9 bread, and vegan pizzas.

Quinoa is one of my favorite staple foods because it is a complete plant-based protein, easy to cook, and goes with just about anything (including as a replacement for rice). I have some quinoa recipes on my recipe page but this one it new! I love Chipotle burrito bowls so I tried to mimic one with quinoa. I don't have an exact recipe...it's really up to you on the proportions of each ingredient.

cooked quinoa
chopped romaine
black beans
fresh pico de gallo salsa
Mexican hot sauce
fresh lime juice
chopped avocado or guacamole
salt and pepper

Assemble all ingredients in a large bowl and mix it up! I made a bunch of individual bowls to bring to lunch this week. But I added the avocado right before eating so it doesn't brown. I bought pre-made fresh pico de gallo from the store. You can make your own but I think the store-made stuff is just as healthy and fresh (and much more convenient).

What's your favorite quinoa recipe?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Marathon Training Log: Week 7...rest week!

I'm running the Chicago Marathon on October 13 to support Bright Pink. I'm tracking my progress so you can follow along. Since I ran the  Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon last Sunday and the BTN Big 10K this past Saturday, last week was rest week. This is kind of a new concept for me but I'm trying to work really hard some weeks and then rest for a whole week periodically in order to fully recover. This is kind of the idea behind tapering before a race, as well. I actually worked out less than I planning because I was at a conference for part of the week and didn't have time to get to crossfit. Since the conference was downtown, I did walk quite a bit at least.

I'm excited for this journey and please support my training efforts by helping me reach my fundraising goal!

Donate here!

Monday to Wednesday - rest days!
I wanted to do a couple of light runs but I was at a conference and really didn't have time without giving up sleep. And sleep is an important part of rest week.

Thursday AM - CrossFit WOD
5 rounds:
800 m run
30 kettle bell swings (26#)
30 pull ups (green band)
Total time: 36:30
I scaled this workout quite a bit because I have a race on Saturday and don't want to be sore at all. I'm also going back to doing pull ups with a band but trying to do them strict (no kipping) in order to actually build my upper body.

Friday - Rest day before the race!

Saturday - BTN Big 10K
Time: 51:45 (8:20/mile pace)
Despite the crowds this was a great race and I ran well. Read my race recap!

Sunday - Another rest day post-race

What was your favorite workout last week?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Race Recap: BTN Big 10K

This Saturday Ryan and I did the BTN Big 10K! Although it was crowded, it was a fun race and we loved representing Purdue. My total time was 51:45 (8:20 min/mile) and Ryan's was 41:15 (6:39 min/mile), pretty good!

If you're not familiar with college sports, the Big Ten is the conference in the midwest and contains some of the biggest rivalries in the country. So naturally, this race was really fun because we were competing with alumni/students from other schools and showing our Purdue spirit. I "ran" into a lot of friends both from Purdue and other schools. Chicago really is a central location for the Big Ten schools so there were plenty of people from in-town and that made the drive here.

If it wasn't for the fun school spirit aspect of this race, I would have hated it! It was so crowded in the beginning and pretty much the entire way. There was a bottleneck of people getting into the corrals in the beginning so we weren't even able to get into our designated A and C corrals and had to start in E. Both Ryan and I were quite faster than the people starting in those corrals so we have to weave a lot. I eventually caught up to people my pace by the 5K checkpoint but Ryan said he was passing people the whole way...he really needed to be in corral A! So it was difficult for Ryan to run but he still got a great time! I was satisfied with my time too because I was aiming for 52:00 and I beat that! Plus 8:20 is a great pace for me. So despite the crowded and narrow race course and the difficulty of getting into our corrals in the beginning, we still had great race times!

I had a good race last weekend too at the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. This race was a lot shorter of course and my pace was almost a minute faster. I felt good pretty much the whole was but I was starting to lose energy at the end. I didn't really eat much before the race and did even eat the chia gel I made for during the race. If it had been a longer race I would have taken it around mile 5. I'm working on some homemade combos for energy gels so I'll share them once I get the recipes right. Before the race I made a smoothie with rejuvelac, spirulina, frozen banana, and Vega Pre-Workout Energizer. I also ate one of my gels that had chia seeds and dates in it. I'm super-confident in my marathon training now that I ran two successful races!

The weather on race day was actually perfect for running. It was about 60 F and cloudy. I was chilly after the race so I changed my shirt and put on a light jacket. My Purdue socks were also quite a hit. It's actually been quite cold this weekend for July. It feels like spring or fall, not summer. Being from south Florida, I'm a warm weather person and I like the heat! I don't like that it's too cold for the pool!

The post race party was just as crowded at the race itself. We had to wait in long lines to get our bags from gear check and then also to get beers. That's why we got two each! I don't necessarily agree with the health aspect of it, but beer is a good way to replenish carbs after a race. Plus the after party was set up as a tailgate so drinking beer felt natural. That's our friend James on the left in the picture above. He ran the 5K and it was only his second race ever so he did great!

Despite the long lines for beer, the post race tailgate party was really fun. I ran into some old and new friends from Purdue and other schools. The race was mostly younger people but there were some older alumni too. The mascots and cheerleaders from each school were there too but I didn't run into Purdue Pete to take a picture! The mascots did a synchronized dance on stage at one point and it was pretty funny.

This was only the second annual race for BTN (Big Ten Network) so I hope that they can improve next year. It really is a great idea but the disorganization at the beginning and the mismanagement of crowds after the race were annoying. Regardless, I'll probably run it again next year!!

Finally, a special shout out to my friend and DG sister Neena who ran her very first race!! "Couch to 5K" is possible! I'm proud of her and she enjoyed it so I hope we can run more races together!

Please consider supporting me as I run the Chicago Marathon with Bright Pink. Donate here!

Did you run any races this weekend?

How do you show your school spirit? Go Boilers!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Favorites

Best View - from Shedd Aquarium while at the U.S. Women in Nuclear Conference

Best Treat - doughnut after the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon

Best Festival - Taste of River North

Best Parody - Look at this Instagram

What were your favorites this week?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Marathon Training Log: Week 6

I'm running the Chicago Marathon on October 13 to support Bright Pink. I tracking my progress so you can follow along. This week was pivotal in my training because I ran a half marathon and it went pretty well. I've been training mainly with crossfit endurance and not doing much running. So the successful half made me more confident in my training for the full. I'm excited for this journey and please support my training efforts by helping me reach my fundraising goal!

Donate here!

Monday PM - CrossFit Endurance WOD
3 rounds:
200 m run
400 m run
600 m run
with 1x rest in between each run

Tuesday AM - CrossFit WOD
Max shoulder press: 55#
3 rounds:
400 m run
21 kettlebell swings (37#)
12 pull-ups
Time: 12:47 Rx!!

Wednesday AM - CrossFit WOD
Max Back Squat: 145# - New PR!
Deadlift (85#)
Hand stand push ups (modified from box)
Time: 4:48

Thursday AM - CrossFit WOD
"Jerry" Hero WOD
1 mile run
2000 m row
1 mile run
Total time: 27:45
Splits were about 8:00, 10:30, 8:45 (not including transition times)

Friday AM - CrossFit Endurance WOD
4-minute Tabata:
20 seconds run
10 seconds rest
1 minute rest

4-minute Tabata:
20 seconds squats or push-ups
10 seconds rest
1 minute rest

4-minute Tabata:
20 seconds run
10 seconds rest
(plus 2-mile run to/from track!)

Saturday - Rest day before the race!

Sunday - Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Chicago (race recap)
5K: 28:47 (9:17/mile average)
10k: 57:57 (9:24/mile average)
10-mile: 1:32:52 (9:11/mile average)
Total Time: 2:00:59 (9:07/mile)
I held up a pretty good pace the whole time for a race I didn't even train for. I'm much more confident in my marathon training now!

What was your best workout this week?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Chicago

Thanks to Jeana from Fab Fit Chicago I got a free VIP entry to the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in Chicago last Sunday! It was a fun race with great music and I even got my best half time since high school, 2:00:59!

I only signed up for the race the day before so I really didn't prepare for it. On Saturday I was on my feet all day with some friends at the Taste of River North festival. I drank beer, ate unhealthy festival food, and stayed out pretty late (for a race). I was definitely tired and not feeling a 100% ready on race morning, but I think it actually helped me to not care that much. I usually stress out about races and can't sleep very well and am nervous on race morning. This one I just did for fun and had the mindset that it was a training race (for the full marathon). It was easy to have fun because there was music along the race course and lots of spectators. I especially loved running through downtown in the middle of the race because so many people were cheering us on!

Despite my longest run before this race only being 7 miles, I was able to run the whole way without too much pain and at 9:14/mile pace. I think that this means that CrossFit Endurance is working! This is encouraging as I'm training for the marathon. My endurance is better and my legs are stronger with more crossfit and less running, who would have thought?!

Did you run #RnRChi?

Please support my training efforts for the Chicago Marathon as I fundraise for Bright Pink! Donate here!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Favorites and Giveaway Winner!

Lauren Conrad does Friday Favorites on her website and I love the idea so I'm going to start doing on here! But first, I have to announce the winner for the Elite Dark Chocolate giveaway! Congrats to Donna R. from Alexandria, VA, for winning!! She likes dark chocolate covered almonds, which are also a favorite of mine. I loved hearing about how you all eat chocolate. I think chocolate has a bad rep because it's usually associated with unhealthy candy, but take out the milk and (most of) the sugar, and chocolate is actually healthy! Be sure to check out the Elite Dark Chocolate website and order some for yourself :)

Favorite workout: "Jerry" at RNCF

Favorite snack

Favorite kickball theme: Christmas in July

Favorite blog post:
 "A Numbers Game: Why your weight shouldn't matter"
written by my friend and workout buddy Rachel Waymire on The Everygirl

What were your favorites this week?

P.S. Is my new comment client Disqus working for you guys? I know people on iPads and iPhones were having trouble commenting but now that should be fixed. Let me know!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Recipe: Raw Sprouted Chickpea Hummus

I posted last month about sprouting seeds and how they are healthier than regular or cooked seeds because they are more digestible. There's other things to make with sprouted seeds than just salads. I personally like sprouted chickpeas and hummus made from them. Sprouted chickpeas themselves are bitter and tasteless but adding oil and spices makes a good hummus. This recipe is adapted from Chef Amber Shea's cookbook Practically Raw.

1 1/2 cups sprouted chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
other spices (paprika, cumin) to taste

Mix all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Enjoy with celery sticks, carrots, crackers, or how you would regular hummus. 

What is your favorite way to eat hummus?

Don't forget to enter my Elite Dark Chocolate giveaway!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Marathon Training Log: Week 5

As you all know, I'm running the Chicago Marathon on October 13 to support Bright Pink. I've been meaning to update you with my training progress weekly, but lots of travel in June and then the holiday last week got me behind in blogging. We're already through Week 5 (out of 18) for marathon training but I'm finally going to start updating weekly! Please support my training efforts by helping me reach my fundraising goal with Bright Pink!

Donate here!

Monday AM - CrossFit WOD
Max clean & jerk: 85#
5 rounds:
10 hang cleans (55#)
200 m run
10 shoulder to overhead (55#)
Time: 12:56

Monday PM - CrossFit Endurance WOD
4 rounds on the 4:00-minute clock:
400 m run
10 squats
10 push-ups
10 sit-ups
20 mountain climbers

Tuesday AM - Spinning class at R3

Tuesday PM - NTC Lincoln Park
NTC class and nutrition lecture at Centered Chef (blog post)

Wednesday AM - CrossFit WOD
Max push press: 70# (failed at 74#)
5 rounds:
10 sumo deadlift high pulls (45#)
20 lateral bar hops
Time: 5:30

Thursday - Rest Day

Friday - CrossFit Endurance WOD
6 rounds:
100 m sprint
squats/push-ups/lunges/pull-ups/burpees/mountain climbers for the rest of the minute (only one movement each round)
2 minute rest
Total reps: 154

Saturday - CrossFit WOD
Lift Up Moore fundraiser
1 rep max clean: 90 lbs. (failed at 95) - new PR!
5 rounds:
20 lateral burpee bar hops
13 squat cleans
Time: 25:45
This workout was to support and fund-raise for the people of Moore, OK, that suffered the terrible tornado on 5/20/13 (hence the reps in the workout). This community fundraiser was run by Train Heroic, which is an awesome app and platform to track your CrossFit workouts.

The 6 am RNCF crew at Lift Up Moore!

I was supposed to run 10 miles on Saturday morning but decided to take it easy with only one workout (which was not that easy). I felt sick on Friday morning and again on Saturday, like I was coming down with a cold. I ate a ton of vegetables and got lots of sleep so it went away and I feel better now. I've always been the type of person that gets sick a lot with colds and sinus infections but I haven't been full-on sick since January! I think some of the things I learned with Karyn's Raw Detox have really helped boost my immune system. Good nutrition and sleep is really the key to being healthy.

Sunday - Rest Day!

Don't forget to enter my Elite Dark Chocolate giveaway!!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cheap Nuts and Seeds!

I use a lot of raw nuts and seeds for recipes and sprouting and was looking for a good online source because the bulk section at Whole Foods isn't my favorite. I researched some sites and finally decided to purchase from Nuts.com. I know, the name "cracks" me up too :)

When researching websites, I was looking for price, variety, certified organic and raw, and fair shipping prices. First, I obviously searched Amazon, where I usually buy specialty grocery items. However, it was hard to gauge the quality of the nuts and seeds from the short descriptions on Amazon and the prices varied significantly. I then turned to some raw food blogs and discovered Blue Mountain Organics and Nuts.com. Blue Mountains Organics has a lot of great raw food items that are already made but the actual bulk nuts and seeds (including shipping) are cheaper on Nuts.com.

Just to make sure I was getting the best price, I added the nuts I wanted (by pound) into my shopping cart at Nuts.com and calculated the shipping. I then wrote down the prices per item by pound (including shipping) and too the note to Whole Foods. Every price came out cheaper on the website than in the store (some significantly cheaper). Plus, the nuts and seeds are clearly labeled raw on the website, whereas that is often unclear at the bulk bins at whole foods.

So I bought about $100 worth of nuts and seeds and other things (cacao nibs, coconut sugar) on Nuts.com and it came in the fun shipment below!

The shipping was quick and I was also impressed by the packaging of the individual bags. All of the nuts and seeds came in resealable packaging, which is a plus. I refilled my mason jar display and then put the rest in the cupboards. I'm glad that I have plenty of nuts and seeds to last me for a while and that I don't have to made the dreaded trip to the Whole Foods bulk section any time soon!

Disclaimer: This post is NOT sponsored by Nuts.com and I purchased everything myself.

Where do you usually buy your nuts and seeds and other "gourmet" grocery items?

Don't forget to enter my Elite Dark Chocolate giveaway!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

NTC Marathon Crew event at Centered Chef

Last night NTC Lincoln Park hosted a Marathon Crew team huddle event at Centered Chef with about 30 young women, most training for the Chicago Marathon. It was a combined fitness and nutrition class and lots of fun! We started off the night with an NTC class lead by my favorite trainer and college sorority sister, Kate Hiipakka. She teaches (free) NTC classes at 11 am on Sundays so check her out! We worked our butts off with lunges, squats, burpees, and core work.

Next, we replenished with water and veggies and hummus and sat down to hear a seminar from sports nutritionist Linda Samuels. I personally didn't agree with everything she said because she advocated for eating dairy, but I did learn some things. Your post workout snack with carbs and protein should be eaten as soon as possible after exercise. I get lazy with this but I am trying to make and drink my smoothie immediately when I get home from a workout. She also said to add tart cherries to your diet daily to alleviate muscle soreness and pain. I have been adding tart cherry concentrate to my post workout smoothies occasionally but I'm now going to do it daily. Someone asked a question about vegan sports nutrition products and Linda said that Vega has some questionable ingredients. I didn't get a chance to ask her what they were but I might email her. Finally, Linda told us about the HydraPouch to use during races instead of trying to drink from a cup, I might just have to get one!

After learning about nutrition, Centered Chef served us a buffet dinner with quinoa griddle cakes and kale salad (pictured above) and also rosemary chicken and chocolate avocado pudding. I didn't eat the chicken but everything else was amazing. Main Chef Ryan Hutmacher (pictured below) then proceeded with an interactive class on how to make the food that was served. I thought the quinoa cakes were delicious and I want to make a modified version because his recipe included bread crumbs, eggs, and parmesan. I'll definitely take out the parmesan and maybe replace the bread crumbs with sprouted wheat. The kale salad was easy to make, and Chef Ryan made a point of massaging the kale and making your own dressing. The, the pudding was simply made out of avocado, cocoa, honey, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. 

This event was great and I hope that the NTC marathon crew does more like it. I also want to attend another cooking class at Centered Chef. They have a vegan cooking class coming up on July 15 but it includes the quinoa, salad, and pudding that we already learned to make last night. Maybe I'll go to the 50 Shades of Green: The Side of the Garden You Never Knew cooking camp instead :)

How do you fuel during a long run or endurance event?

Don't forget to enter my Elite Dark Chocolate giveaway!!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Recipe: Natural Honey Limeade

I ran 7 miles this morning with the NTC Lincoln Park marathon crew and it was slow and painful, my legs still hurt from the Elmhurst 4 on the 4th race and WOD on Thursday. It was also quite warm this morning so I was craving something refreshing when I got home. My friend Kim made limeade when I visited her in Canada a couple weeks ago so I altered her recipe and made my own!

Usually lemon or limeade is made with a lot of white sugar, which, I admit, makes it taste amazing. But, you can make healthier limeade with natural sugars and still have that refreshing taste and reap the benefits of lemon or lime juice. This recipe is for limeade but I'm sure it would work just as well with lemons.

1 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (takes about 7-8 limes)
5 cups filtered water
1/4 cup honey (or agave nectar)
1 Tbsp. coconut sugar (or other sugar)
ice to serve
Tequila optional :)

Squeeze the limes either by hand or with a citrus juicer until you get 1 cup of juice. In a large bowl or pitcher, mix the lime juice and water. While adding the honey to the bowl, mix vigorously. I used an egg beater to whisk the honey in the mixture. Then add the coconut sugar and mix again until dissolved. Serve over a cup of ice and you can place the rest in the fridge for later.

What's you're favorite refreshing summer drink?

Don't forget to enter my Elite Dark Chocolate giveaway!!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Race Recap: Elmhurst 4 on the 4th

Happy Independence Day! This is one of my favorite holidays because I get to celebrate freedom and this amazing country! As a first-generation immigrant to the United States, I can truly appreciate the opportunities that this country has brought me and my family and I wouldn't want to have grown up anywhere else. Today is a day for us to reflect on our history and remember that we must continue to prosper by never giving up on our dreams.

Well, what better way to celebrate America than running a race with your friends? Some of us crossfit endurance enthusiasts from River North CrossFit and CrossFit Posted (pictured below) got together this morning to run the Elmhurst 4 on the 4th. It was a great 4-mile race just outside of Chicago. Some of us registered day of and it was super easy and only $30 dollars. There were about 1000 runners so the race was pretty low key and casual, which is a nice break from the huge races I usually do in Chicago. A well-run race and I would definitely do it again!

Jon, Nigel, and me from River North CrossFit in Chicago and Mac from CrossFit Posted in Brookfield, IL

I really haven't done a short race in a long time so I didn't have a goal time. My goal for my pace was to be under what I usually run during long training runs, which is 8:40 - 9:00 minutes per mile. As you can see in my results printout below, my pace was 8:13, which is great! The Nike+ graph also shows that I started pretty fast and then slowed down, but still held my pace around 8:30. I felt pretty good overall and even came in the top half in my age group (27 out of 64) and for women total (145 out of 466).

Print out results from the race

Friend me on Nike+!

After the race we drove back to RNCF and did the WOD! I kind of regret it because I was dying and now I'm exhausted. But, at least I had a great day of workouts and can enjoy the holiday.

WOD: 7 rounds with partner
4 wall walks
17 burpees
77 DU's
20 lunges (with barbell)
13 sumo dead lift high pulls
partner runs 200 m while other works

I did 45 pounds for the lunges and SDLHPs while my partner, Katherine, did 65 pounds. I also had to scale with pushups for the wall walks and bar hops for the DUs because I was just too worn out already. The time limit was 40 minutes and we got through 6 rounds plus some. I'm pretty sure the WOD was harder than the race this morning!

How are you celebrating the 4th of July?

Don't forget to enter my Elite Dark Chocolate giveaway!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Elite Dark Chocolate Review and GIVEAWAY!

I love chocolate and I know you do too. Cacao itself is actually very healthy but bitter, so things like sugar and milk are added to it to make delicious chocolate. I eat dark chocolate (over 60% cacao and dairy free) moderately to reap the health benefits and satisfy my sweet tooth. I was really excited when my friend in Knoxville told me about about a new chocolate brand that makes dark chocolate even healthier. So I contacted Elite Dark Chocolate and they sent me some samples and offered to host a giveaway for my readers!

Elite makes dark chocolate squares from high-quality french chocolate and infuses them with other healthy ingredients. Here's an overview of the three different flavors:


  • Contains added herbs:
    • Ashwagandha, boosts immune system and stress relief
    • Maca, good for energy and endurance
    • Gingeng, endurance and fatigue relief
    • Caffeine (equal to 1 espresso)
  • Great for pre-workout or in the morning


  • Infused with:
    • Raspberry Ketone, which is found in red raspberries and helps regulate metabolism
    • Green Coffee Bean Extract (50% Chlorogenic acids), stabilizes blood sugar levels
  • Great for weight loss and as an after-dinner dessert


  • Contains Vitamin D3, which is essential for immune system health and may help to prevent diseases like cancer.
  • Eat daily and after a meal with leafy greens to help absorb calcium

My first impression of the chocolate was the wonderful taste. It is creamy with just the right amount of sweetness. The added supplements go unnoticed in the flavor. The good things is that the chocolates come wrapped in individual square so you don't eat the whole bar at once (I've done that before). And each piece has only 4.5 g of sugar, which is just enough to make it sweet but not unhealthy. 

I've been eating one of two of these daily. The ENERGY flavor give you a good boost before a workout and the VITAMIN D is good after lunch because it's normally when you would get Vitamin D from sun exposure (around noon) and also helps you absorb calcium from a leafy-green salad (my usual lunch). The FIT flavor is good after dinner as dessert, especially if that'd your unhealthiest or biggest meal of the day. Green coffee bean extract helps stabilize blood sugar levels, which is good if you've eaten a carb-heavy meal. 

I'm definitely going to be purchasing more of this chocolate because I love the idea of having treats that are also healthy! You can buy Elite Dark Chocolate on the website or at select health food stores, they are expanding!


Elite Dark Chocolate is sending one of my readers a 30-day pack of each of the flavors, ENERGY, FIT, and VITAMIN D. All you have to do is comment on this blog post about your favorite way to eat chocolate and then log in to the Rafflecopter app below and say that you commented. Then you can get extra entries for tweeting about the giveaway, following Elite Dark Chocolate on Facebook, and following me on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and BlogLovin. If the app doesn't work for you for whatever reason, just comment and say so and I will add your entries manually. Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored by Elite Dark Chocolate but they did provide samples for me and the giveaway winner. All opinions are my own.