Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Favorites

New swim/yoga outfit from Mika Yoga Wear

#AtlasSweatworking with

21 Guns WOD for Memorial Day

Beautiful view of the Water Tower and Hancock building

What were your favorites this week?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Are you Fed Up?

Last week, I had the opportunity to see the new documentary, Fed Up, which is basically about the affect of food on health in America. To be honest, I didn't learn anything new in the movie and was basically just nodding my head in agreement the whole time. The documentary is a more elaborate version of a paper I wrote on The Obesity Epidemic in grad school. Obesity and related diseases (type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.) are increasing at alarming rates in the United States and especially in children. Americans consume way more sugar that the daily recommend amount and it comes mostly from added sugar in processed foods. Since a low-fat diet became popular 30 years ago, more and more sugar was added to food to make it taste good. And the sugar and processed food industry lobbies are powerful and influence our government. School lunches are unhealthy and parents and children are not educated on what they should be eating. The obesity epidemic is very alarming and costing us billions in healthcare. It will also become a national security issue when the next generation is Too Fat to Fight.

The documentary followed the lives of a few obese children and their families, talking about what they ate and how hard it was to lose weight. We often put blame on the victim in this case saying that these children are lazy and have no willpower. But they are victims of a society that markets unhealthy food to children and puts addictive substances (added sugar) into food. Unhealthy options (e.g. fast food, junk food) are much easier to come by than healthy options. There is no proper nutrition education in school and school lunches are awful. As someone that tries to be as healthy as possible, I know that it is really difficult. Turning down tasty food and trying to make meals from scratch is not easy, at all, in this society. I had to educate myself to figure out what to eat to stay healthy, most people won't do that. And it is still very difficult for me to choose an apple over a cupcake if given the option, and I often fail. I can't keep sweets in my house because I will eat them.

I'm always torn on the issue of the government regulating food, such as a sugar tax or limiting marketing unhealthy food to children. I think that people should be free to choose what they want to eat. However, my health insurance premiums are paying for obesity-related diseases and my tax dollars are going to agriculture subsidies. The way our society sees food and how we teach our children about nutrition needs to change. The movement is happening with grassroots efforts. But there needs to be change on a larger scale with the food industry and government working together. Many people, including in this documentary, compare the smoking revolution to the impending food revolution. I think that it is similar, but has a major difference in that not all food is bad. Food companies can create healthier options.

I don't think that there is a perfect solution to making our food healthier but there are some things that you can start doing now to contribute to the healthy food movement, including:

  • base your diet on fresh vegetables
  • think of food as fuel for your body to work well
  • limit processed foods, even if they say they are healthy, organic, low-fat, gluten-free, etc.
  • teach your kids about good nutrition and pack their lunches
  • pack your own lunch
  • Make food from scratch and think outside of the box with healthy recipes (not just salads!)

What steps are you taking now to make you and your family healthier?

Do you think a sugar tax would work to fight the obesity epidemic?

Disclaimer: I received two complimentary tickets to see the Fed Up movie but was not compensated for this post. All opinions and text are my own.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day and start of #summertimechi

Happy Memorial Day! I just got done doing the 21 Guns WOD saluting our fallen troops and the hard workout was nothing compared to sacrifices those men and women have made. Remember them as you celebrate the unofficial start of summer this weekend!

As you all know, I'm moving to France this August to start the full-time MBA program at INSEAD, and while I am SO excited, I know I'm going to miss Chicago. So, in light of surviving this horrible winter and celebrating my last couple of months in Chicago for a while, I'm going to do all there is to do in Chicago before I leave, and I need your help! What do you think of when you imagine summer in Chicago? What are all of the typical outdoor Chicago summer things? I don't care how cheesy/touristy, I want to do it all! Here's my list so far:

  • Running on the Lakefront Trail
  • Paddle boarding on the lake
  • Beach day and Castaways
  • Outdoor music festival
  • Outdoor food festival
  • Cubs game
  • Pub crawl
  • Brunch at Zella's
  • Jazzin at the Shedd
  • Classical Music Festival at Millennium Park
  • Picture with The Bean
  • Fireworks at Navy Pier
  • Air and Water Show
  • Six Flags Great America
  • Arlington Race Track
  • Jump in Lake Michigan
  • Beach volleyball
  • Lottie's Kickball League
  • Big Ten 10k
  • What else??
I'll be posting all of this on Instagram with hashtag #summertimechi, so follow me!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Favorites

CRW volunteers at the Girls on the Run 5k

Girls on the Run 5k!

Got my passport renewed and I'm ready for INSEAD!

Meeting up with INSEAD Chicago admits at Bridgehouse Tavern

Beauty Bash at Benefit Cosmetics! I got my brows tinted.
Thanks to Shaheen, Lindsay, Laurie, Lauren, and Grace for coming.

Congrats to Hannah L. for winning my Mamma Chia giveaway!

What were your favorites this week?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Review: Five Four Club

I usually only post about women's fashion but when I was contacted by Five Four Club to review their men's clothing, I said, why not? I know I have some male readers out there! Ryan was, of course, excited to get some new clothes but not as excited about the modeling part. I think he looks great though.

Ryan received the Henry tee (above), Scott button down (below), and Venice shorts. Everything fit him perfectly which is fantastic. The tee is extremely soft and has a nice heather-gray like pattern. It can be dressed up or down. The button down is high quality and Ryan even wore it to work the next day. Finally, Ryan was impressed by the shorts. He rarely wears shorts, even in the summer, but I think he'll be wearing these quite often!

Five Four is a club website that works by sending you items of clothing each month for a flat $60. You fill out a style profile and then a real stylist matches items for you. You can exchange sizes for free (and free shipping) but not return items. Each package is worth at least $120 in retail value, so you'll get at least 50% off. Club members also get 25% of off the store. You can skip a month as to not get new clothing every month. I think the motto "your closet on auto-pilot" really works here! Click on the banner below to get started! Also, use code AF15SIM to get 25% off or $15 off!

Five Four Clothing

Disclaimer: Five Four in partnership with She Is Media provided me with complimentary product in exchange for writing this review. As always, all opinion and text are my own (and Ryan's). 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Motivation post-PR

As you know, I had a successful half marathon a couple of weeks ago when I finally beat my high school PR from over 10 years ago. I was such a good feeling to accomplish that after training through the horrible winter/spring in Chicago and even after building up all of that endurance for the Chicago Marathon last year. I've been working hard training for a while and now I'm in a weird spot because I'm not signed up for any races right now! I'll probably do the Big 10k again but there's really nothing upcoming that I need to train for. Where am I going to get the motivation to workout?

I'm heading to MBA school in France and Singapore this fall so I'm not signed up for any fall races. I don't want to worry about training while in school and traveling. Until I leave, my workouts will just be about staying healthy and in shape. I tend to run less when I'm not training for a race but the weather is finally getting nicer in Chicago so I feel like that will motivate me to get outside. I also need to use up all of my group exercise classes before I leave.

So coming from this high of training hard and attaining marathon, 15k, 10-mile, and half-marathon PRs in the past few months, how do I motivate myself to keep working out hard this summer? I know I'll be active because I'm doing a beach volleyball league and two kickball leagues. I'll also take walks outside in the afternoon because the weather is nice. But, I need motivation to attend get through those hard group exercise classes and actually go out for a few long runs.

How do you get motivated to push yourself when you're not training for a race or other competition?

Do you ever take time off completely from working out?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Favorites in Bay Harbor, Michigan

Last weekend Ryan and I traveled to northern Michigan for his cousin's wedding and the setting was just beautiful. Here are some pics!

Chateau Chantal vineyard and winery near Traverse City

Sun setting in Bay Harbor at the rehearsal dinner

Docks in Bay Harbor

View from our hotel, the Inn at Bay Harbor

Bob and Jaclyn releasing doves after the ceremony

At the reception at the Bay Harbor Yacht Club

What were your favorites this week?

I extended the Mamma Chia giveaway another week so be sure to enter here!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

BurnThis and Pilates ProWorks

Are you tired of a million different MindBody accounts and trying to keep track of all of your fitness classes? Me too. Well I was contacted by BurnThis to take a look at their new app and try some fitness classes and I must say that I am impressed! BurnThis works with studios to sign up and pay for all of your classes in one place, with one account. You can add classes to your calendar also connect with your Facebook friends and coordinate workouts. As a person who loves to vary my workouts and try new things, this app is perfect! BurnThis also has reviews and tips for each class/studio so you're prepared.

BurnThis is in twelve cities right now, including Chicago! Studios in the app in the Chicago area include Barre Bee Fit, The Bar Method, Sweat on State, Air, Exhale, and Pilates ProWorks. More are coming! Pilates ProWorks is having a great 50% off special right now at just $15 per class, so I decided to check it out!

Pilates ProWorks is a brand new studio in Lincoln Park on Halsted. To be honest, I thought a pilates class would be "easy" so I went last week, two days after my half marathon. Um, bad idea. The class was much tougher than I expected and I was still sore from running and then went to CrossTown Fitness the day after. That was rough, but anyway, I decided to give it another try this week without the soreness and it was still tough but I felt like I could keep my balance better without the leg soreness.

Pilates Pro is way more than pilates because of the FitFormer machine each person uses during class. It contains a suspended carriage with springs and band that allows for a large variety of movements with resistance. In the picture above, you can see that I'm doing a lunge by sliding my back foot backwards and moving the carriage back. There are spring connecting the carriage to the frame that you can adjust for resistance. I think this system forces you to have good form and use your core, because you will lose your balance otherwise, which did happen to me a couple of times. Have you ever done planks sliding up and down with discs under your feet? It's like that but harder. There are many core, leg, and arm/shoulder movements. We didn't do any of the same things between the two classes that I took and thus the 55 minutes went by really fast.

The Fitformer system looks complicated but will only take you 1-2 classes to get the hang of, and the instructors are very helpful (along with all of the mirrors to follow your classmates). I found this great video on YoutTube (below) that explains the class better than I can with pictures and words. Pilates Pro really is the next level of pilates and I think a great cross training option for anyone. My lower abs are sore, which doesn't happen often, so I know I'll be going back!

Pilates ProWorks also has other classes, including TRX, Barre, and private sessions. Like I said, the studio in Lincoln Park is brand new and their current special is $15 per class if you sign up through the BurnThis app. New clients also get a week free!

Do you practice pilates?

Don't forget to enter my Mamma Chia giveaway!

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored but I did receive a complimentary Pilates ProWorks class from BurnThis in exchange for this review post. All text and opinions are my own.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mamma Chia Review + GIVEAWAY

I've written before about how much I love chia seeds and about how great they are for energy during running, as mentioned in the book Born to Run. Chia seeds are extremely nutritious for their size, with lots of fatty acids, protein, calcium, iron, and other vitamins an nutrients. When placed in water, they become gel-like and thus are perfect for making energy gels for endurance sports. Their water-retaining properties are also thought to help regulate electrolytes and the absorption of sugar. So chia seeds paired with sugar and electrolytes is really the perfect running fuel.

I was excited when Mamma Chia sent me some new products to try. They make drinks, gels, and other products with chia seeds and fruit juice. The drinks and gels taste amazing and go down easy. I actually love the consistency of the Mamma Chia products. And the flavors are great! Coconut Mango in both the drink and the gel is my favorite. The Green Magic is great too because it contains spirulina and kale.

I am really picky with the gels that I eat during running because most of them make my stomach hurt. But I knew that the Mamma Chia gel would be good because it only has natural fruit and chia ingredients. I tried the gels both before and during running and they were fantastic. I even had a gel during my half marathon last week. My only complaint is that the gel packs are quite big and don't fit in a pant pocket. I put mine in my bra and they would probably fit in a belt pack.

Janie Hoffman, the founder of Mamma Chia, also has a great book, Chia Vitality, about how to harness the power of chia seeds to boost stamina, lose weight, prevent disease, and get healthier.


FitFluential and Mamma Chia have partnered to giveaway an awesome prize pack to one of my readers. You get all of the items pictured above (total retail value of $75):
  • 7 Chia Squeezes (varied flavors)
  • 7 beverage vouchers
  • One copy of Janie’s book – Chia Vitality
  • One Mamma Chia T-Shirt
All you have to do is comment below telling me if you already use chia seeds (and how) in your daily diet. If not, tell me why you want to! Then fill out the rafflecopter app below telling me that you commented. If it doesn't work, just say so in your comment and I will enter your entry manually. You can also tweet about the giveaway and follow me and Mamma Chia on social media for extra entries.

Giveaway ends on Thursday, May 15 and the winner will be announced on Friday! Open to U.S. and Canada residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: FitFluential and Mamma Chia provided me with free products and the giveaway in exchange for a review post and social media shares. All opinions and text are my own.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Food irradiation can save thousands of lives each year

Have you ever had food poisoning? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 6 people get food poisoning each year in the United States and that 3000 die from foodborne illness. Food irradiation can drastically decrease these numbers by killing harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella in meat and produce. The U.S. government endorses the use of food irradiation, but does not educate the public about its benefits so it had not caught on because consumers fear that radiation will mutate the food. In fact, food irradiation is safe and does not alter the nutritional content of produce and meat. Read my full article on food irradiation at the ANS Nuclear Cafe

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

CrossTown Fitness and #CTFSweatworking

I got to check out CrossTown Fitness in West Loop a couple of times in the past month and I must say that I am impressed! Betina Gozo (pictured below) is one of my favorite trainers in Chicago. She's the type of trainer that can really encourage you to do your best and makes you feel like you're the only one in class with her individual attention. Betina's smile also brightens up the whole room! 

CTF is a studio gym at 1031 West Madison Street with hour-long classes that involve a variety of movements…you'll never get bored! There is no set program, but each trainer is required to design the class so that is it half cardio, half strength. All of the weights and movements are scalable so you can be a beginner or an experienced athlete and still get a great workout. There are treadmills, pull-up bars, medicine balls, free weights, body bars, kettle bells, resistance bands, and much more. I would compare the CTF workouts to CrossFit without the Olympic weightlifting. Therefore, you don't need an on-ramp class and can just get into it.

I went to CTF for the first time in April for #CTFSweatworking with (pictured below). "Sweatworking" is seriously my new favorite thing! Networking usually involves happy hour - as in, not healthy. But sweatworking is networking with a workout, much more productive! We first started with an hour-long workout with Betina involving rotations between the treadmills and body and weight movements. There was little rest in between and I liked the variety to keep things interesting. Afterwards, we networked with each other and a few brands that came by to give us samples. I even won one of the raffle prizes! More on that later. You should attend the next sweatworking event on May 24!

#CTFSweatworking with (I'm in the white top on the treadmill)

I went to CTF again this morning and I am spent. I think I should have taken a few more days off after the Indy 500 Mini Marathon because my legs are still sore. But it does feel good to get back to weight training after tapering for a couple of weeks. We did AMRAP rotations today involving 6 rounds of 6 minutes of work each. Rotations involved, running, box jumps + rows, TRX + push-ups, kettlebell swings, pull-ups + burpees, and core movements. It was definitely a full body workout and I liked that I could go at my own pace but still had the 6-minute interval to push me to do as much as possible.

CrossTown Fitness has some great programs going on this summer so check it out! You won't regret it!

40 Days Till Summer Package starting May 12

Three 30-Minute Personal Training Sessions
Unlimited High Intensity Interval Training Classes at CTF
CrossTown Fitness Custom T-Shirt

Costs $220 per person, and is available for new clients only. Classes can be booked through CrossTown Fitness’ online scheduling center. Must purchase between May 1-12.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Boot Camp

Saturdays at 8 AM at North Ave. Beach starting June 7.
Included for CTF members and open to everyone, sign up on the online scheduling center.

I'll be at the first paddle boarding class with Betina on June 7 so I hope to see you there!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Race Recap: Indy 500 Mini Marathon

This past weekend was a blast as some of my friends and I headed down to Indianapolis to run the Indy 500 Festival Mini Marathon. I got a PR and finally beat my high school time and had fun along the way!

Ryan and I headed down on Friday evening and stayed with his parents in the Indy suburbs. Luckily, one of our friends in town picked up our packets so they were ready when we got there. I tried to go to sleep early but it was hard with the time change and race jitters. My sleep wasn't great but I was ready to go when we woke up at 5:45 am, which is 4:45 in Chicago time. I'm not used to waking up that early.

The great thing about events in Indy is that you can drive downtown without traffic and park right next to the start line for $5. Ryan dropped me off at my corral and then he waited for our other Chicago friends to run with the "fun crew." My corral was pretty crowded in the beginning but it loosened up after a couple of miles. I felt pretty good except that I kept getting cramps. I hydrated all week so I'm not sure what was causing it. Even though the forecast said cloudy with possible rain, the sun came out and I was pretty hot. I'm glad I wore a tank top! A lot of people had long sleeves and tights and must have been so hot.

The best part about the mini course is that you run on the Indy 500 track! It's a 2.5-mile track so you're on it for quite a while. Diana and Jess (pictured above) started before me and I caught up to them on the track as they were taking pictures kissing the bricks (start/finish line). I passed by and then Diana caught up to me again in mile 9. She helped me finish the race and I was glad because my legs started seriously getting heavy in the last mile and my stomach did not feel good either. I was glad when we crossed mile 11 and I realized that I had to get across the finish within 20 minutes to get my PR. Totally doable if I just kept running! The last mile was rough but we came across the finish line together and then took the great pic above. Thanks girls for pushing me along in the end! My official time was 1:53:50 with an average pace of 8:41. Like I said, I finally beat my PR of 1:55 which was at my first half marathon in high school, the Naples Half Marathon, over 10 years ago!

The rest of my friends from Chicago run the Indy Mini every year "for fun" and costumes are a huge deal. This year they dressed up as horse jockeys. They had stuffed animal horses, jockey jerseys, and hats with goggles. It was pretty legit! I had been training all winter for this race so I wanted to run it seriously without a costume but I still had fun waiting to see them cross the finish line. They came in about an hour after us and I got the pic above. Right before the finish, the whole crew lined up and trotted across the finish in true Derby style. They were certainly a crowd favorite!

After the race we hung out in the expo for a while. Lots of people came up to us and wanted a picture with the horse group. Costumes are the best! These were created by Cameron, my running friend who introduced me to Bright Pink. She is the best at homemade costumes! I'm trying to convince her to start a blog...

For the rest of the weekend, Ryan and I hung out with our friends above and also some other Indy locals we know from Purdue. On Sunday we went to brunch with his parents and I had a delicious eggs florentine and a well-earned post-race bacon treat. We then saw my friend Jordan and her adorable baby, and husband too. She's the one with the amazing black bean salsa recipe.

Now it's Monday and I'm still pretty sore from the race. I don't get sore from running often so I'm glad that I am because it means that I tried my hardest. My upper back is also sore, I'm not sure how that happened. I've got some strength training workouts coming up this week but I want to take a couple weeks off from running to recover. The bottom/side of my right foot is swollen and I'm really hoping it's not a stress fracture. Anyway, a fun race, PR, and good friends to make a great weekend!

Did you watch the Kentucky Derby this weekend?

Have you ever run a race in a costume?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday Favorites

Favorite Run
Last long run with the CRW before the Indy 500 Mini this weekend

Favorite Kitty Pic
Helping out in the office

Favorite Scene
Tulips in the yard, maybe spring is coming after all?

Favorite Newsletter
The Skimm

Congrats to Samhita of Engineering in Style for winning the Bridal Sculpt giveaway!

What are your favorites this week?