Wednesday, July 30, 2014

French Women Don't Get Fat

In the spirit of my big move to France, I decided to finally read something that has been on my reading list for a while, French Women Don't Get Fat by by Mireille Guiliano. The book was easy to read and contained lots of recipes and great stories. It actually made me really excited to enjoy French cuisine while I'm there.

The tips given in the book are pretty common sense, eat real food, everything in moderation, and drink plenty of water. Although I've completely eliminated things from my diet before and done cleanses, I'm a big believer in enjoying the things that you like, in moderation, otherwise, life can get pretty boring. It's also important to figure out what works for your body. For example, I know that cow's milk makes my stomach hurt and is therefore bad for me. So, I avoid it as much as possible but I'm not afraid to indulge in cheese or desserts once in a while.

The problem in America is that we don't value real food anymore and tend to eat out often. Food is about convenience and taste, rather than quality and nutrition. I learned good habits from my European parents. Almost every meal was home-cooked, we hardly ever ate out, and there was no junk food in the house. We also got our liquids from water and not soda or juice. The habits explained in this book are very consistent with what I grew up with and quite different from what I saw in my friends' homes. I was always excited to go to friends houses as a child because there was so much candy and their parents took us to McDonald's.

Healthy food can taste good with the freshest ingredients and spices. Quality ingredients are more nutritious, taste better, and will keep you satisfied. Remember that investment in your health now will pay off later.

One thing I don't cover enough on this blog is ways to stay active without working out intensely at a gym every day. I do group exercise, crossfit, spinning, and running because I like it, but I understand that not everyone loves to break a sweat. The training and amount of working out that you've seen me post about on this blog is overkill, and I don't need to do it all to be healthy.

French (and European) women don't spend hours at the gym but they do make sure to move all day long by taking walks and using the stairs, for example. There are lots of pedometers and fitness trackers that can help encourage to keep active all day.

Mireille Guiliano has other books too, including a cookbook, that you should check out. I'm excited to get to France and start eating like a French woman!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Favorites - Gyms in Chicago

As I'm wrapping up to leave Chicago for INSEAD, I'm reflecting on all of the wonderful experiences that I've had here. Because of this blog, so many of these experiences have revolved around being active and there is such a great health and fitness scene in Chicago, I'm going to miss it! A lot of times, please ask me where my favorite places to workout in Chicago are, so here's a list! There are way more gyms in Chicago than I could ever hope to visit so these are just a few that stand out to me.

River North CrossFit was my original box in Chicago when I first moved here. I spent many early mornings there and hot afternoons on the track training. The community is like no other!

CrossTown Fitness was a new addition to my fitness routine after I attended Sweatworking there with Every class is different and has a combo of cardio and strength. Plus, they do stand up paddle boarding on the lake on Saturdays.

Not exactly a gym, but my friend Kate Hiipakka has been central to the Chicago fitness community since I got here and she introduced me to both NTC Chicago and Shred415. Check out her blog at The Four Percent.

And finally, the best running group ever, Crew Runs the World! They got me through my second Chicago Marathon and my half marathon PR earlier this year. We have very fond memories of battling polar vortexes, snowy sidewalks, and icy winds along the lakefront (I will not miss those things about Chicago).

Thanks to everyone in Chicago who has motivated me and pushed me to be healthy and fit!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Instacart grocery delivery service

You wouldn't expect to hear this from a health blogger, but I've gone to the grocery store once in the past month. I've been so busy prepping for my move and trying to catch up with all my friends before I leave, so Instacart has been a lifesaver! This app and website is super easy to use. You just type in your address, pick a participating store (Jewel, Whole Foods, and more for Chicago), pick your groceries, select a delivery window (as fast as two hours from ordering), and someone goes to grocery store for you and delivers the groceries to your door. There is a small delivery fee but I think it's worth it because I really dislike going to the grocery store. The best part is that you get free deliver and $10 off your first order with my link!

My orders with Instacart have all come out pretty good. The person calls you when they're in the store if they don't have something you want, you can then choose substitutes and the final price is adjusted accordingly. One time, I got some bread and opened it a day after the delivery only to realize that it was molded. I noted this in my delivery rating to Instacart and they refunded the amount for the bread. So, they work with you if something goes wrong. Good customer service is always a plus.

Another function that is growing on the Instacart site is the recipe center where you can actually browse recipes and add the ingredients directly to your cart. Here's the recipe that I posted for Sweet Potato Hash.

Give Instacart a try and let me know what you think!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Favorites - Smoothie Ingredients

These are the things I put in my morning smoothie, not necessarily all at once. Just add a frozen banana and water or almond milk.

Athletic Greens is my ultimate nutritional insurance. It contains the optimum combination of nutrients derived directly from vegetables and other super foods. A mild taste, easy to blend (even with water), and they even have travel packs.

Vega One is the original healthy plant-based shake that has everything you need to make your day nutritious. The flavors are excellent and you can get creative, like making the pumpkin smoothie above. Protein-rich and a filling breakfast.

I love green tea, more than coffee, and this Organic Matcha powder makes the perfect addition to my smoothie as a caffeine and antioxidant boost. Also, congrats to Agnes of Aggie Runs for winning this giveaway!

Finally, spirulina is the ultimate superfood. It is literally the most nutritious, whole food that we know of and contains a much higher concentration of nutrients than any vegetable. I always add a scoop or two of the powder into my smoothie, which also gives it this wonderful green color. 

What's in your morning smoothie?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: Icebreaker Merino

Beach volleyball is one of my favorite things to do in the summer but we haven't had the best weather in Chicago. Warm weather was scarce during the first half of the season and I couldn't wear my usual bathing suit so I opted for my Icebreaker Merino Wool long sleeve and tights instead. 

Icebreaker clothing is made out of wool from the merino sheep of the New Zealand mountains. These sheep live in extreme weather, from the frozen winters to the warm summers, and their coats have to be able to adjust. That's why the merino wool fabric is so versatile. Early summer in Chicago is warm but breezy and the temperature drops at night, so this lightweight clothing has been perfect.

I'm wearing the Flash Long Sleeve Half Zip and the Rush 3/4 Tights. The tights aren't as elastic as I would like them to be but they are soft and comfortable. The long sleeve, however, I can't stop wearing! It's prefect for throwing on on the way to the gym or summer sports. I've worn it during kickball and volleyball and before/after paddleboarding. It's still comfortable even when I have a wet bathing suit on. I also love how lightweight it is because even though the sun is warm, it can be breezy and cool in the shade.

I'm excited to try more Icebreaker merino clothing for my upcoming travels and as the seasons change. It seems very versatile for all weather conditions and different types of activities. You can check out the women's running and fitness collection here.

Have you worked out in wool clothing?

What's your favorite summer adventure?

*Icebreaker Merino Wool provided me with this complimentary outfit in exchange for this review post. All pictures, text, and opinions are my own.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Favorites - Vegan Cookbooks

A reader asked me what my favorite vegan cookbooks are, so I made a list! 
Click on the images to buy on Amazon.

Brendan Brazier make plant-based eating popular for athletes and "normal" people alike, food is fuel.

Peggy K cooks like Brendan Brazier but will a feminine twist…aka, more desserts.

Amber's raw recipes are straightforward and her desserts are amazing.

All of the classic recipes turned vegan, great for starters.

Not exactly a cookbook, but still contains great recipes for treating food as fuel.

What are your favorite plant-based cookbooks?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

New Vega Bars

You know that I'm a big fan of Vega products and so I was very excited when they came out with the all new Vega Bars a couple of months ago. There are four different bars in a variety of flavors that each have a specific purpose, see chart below. As usual, all Vega products are plant-based and natural and include ingredients prefect for a healthy diet. And these bars are perfect for on-the-go! I'm always finding myself heading downtown for meetings around lunchtime so I pack a Vega Bar and it holds me over until I'm home.
I received some samples to try and the Vega Snack Bar in Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup is my absolute favorite. It's perfect for an on-the-go snack and delicious. It also has nutrients and protein to keep you full. I'm definitely taking these with me when I move abroad. The Vega One bars are also great for a meal replacement and worked for me when I was on my recent trip to Reno and couldn't find healthy food at the conference. The Vega Sport Energy Bar is excellent pre-workout and I would be using it much more if I was marathon training this year. Finally, the Vega Sport Protein bar is great post-workout and can replace your protein smoothie, especially if you're on the go. 

I know that the prices for the Vega bars are more than you would expect for snack bars but you really pay for quality. I think that it is worth it to spend the extra dollars on a bar that you can carry with you in case you need sustenance instead of being tempted to buy a candy bar at a convenience store and risk the side effects that come from unhealthy, sugary food. Remember that investment in your health now will pay off later!

Have you tried the new Vega Bars?

What do you eat when you're on-the-go? 

*Vega provided me with samples of the new Vega Bars to try in exchange for this review post. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: Mika Yoga Wear

I'm having an action-packed summer with lots of outdoor activities including volleyball, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, and just going to the beach. I wanted something sporty but cute to wear in the water this summer besides my usual string bikini. I came across Mika Yoga Wear and thought their separates would be great for both outdoor summer sports and indoor yoga.

First up is the Maya Bra (shown above and below), which is so versatile that I've been wearing it everywhere I can. It fits perfectly and is comfortable. It is supportive like a sports bra but sexy like a bikini. I've gotten a lot of compliments on this one at beach volleyball and in the water.

The Mika shorts are also all amazing! The fit is wonderful with a wide waistband and secure fit. There is also just enough coverage to be used for sports but also just laying out at the beach. I've worn the shorts under regular clothes before heading to volleyball and they are as comfortable as underwear. And I can't say enough about the wide waistband! I have the Meeko, Betty, and Mikaela shorts.

I had my sister wear one of my Mika outfits (above) when she was visiting this weekend. We went paddle boarding with CTF and Chicago SUP on the lake and she also loved the sporty but cute bathing suit. Olivia is wearing the Tula top and Lucia shorts from the Pink Ribbon Collection.

My Mika Yoga Wear has definitely been great this summer for my outdoor activities but I also wanted to try it for it's intended use, hot yoga. I generally wear athletic shorts and a sports bra to Bikram and I could definitely tell a difference with the Mika pieces. They fit better as I was sweating through my clothes an I definitely felt like I could move around. Because the Tula top ties in the back, it was easy to take off after class (usually I'm wrestling with the sports bra).

To sum up, Mika Yoga Wear is awesome for both hot yoga and summer activities. I'm definitely taking it with my on my travels because I plan to be doing lots of fun activities, and especially outdoor water sports when I'm in Singapore next year.

What are your favorite summer outdoor activities?

What do you wear for water sports?

Don't forget to enter my Matcha Green Tea GIVEAWAY!

*Mika Yoga Wear provided me with some complimentary outfits in exchange for this review post. All opinions, pictures, and text are my own.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Friday Favorites - America

Happy Independence Day! Since I'm moving abroad, I thought I would share some of my favorite American things that I'll miss over the next year. 

Watching the World Cup in Solider Field.

Sunsets in Florida

The Chicago skyline

Baseball games

The Super Bowl


What are your favorite things about America?