Race for the Cure 5k

22 Sep

This weekend, my college girlfriends and I signed up to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Lombard, IL.  This event was special for two reasons:

1. We are all Zeta Tau Alpha alums and Breast Cancer Awareness is our philanthropy.  In college, we used to charter a large bus to pick us up in Normal, IL (Illinois State University) and drive us to the Race for the Cure event in Chicago.

2. One of our closest friends had this philanthropy hit home when her mother was diagnosed earlier this summer.

Since it’s not always easy to get all of us in the same place for an extended period of time, we decided to make a ‘weekend’ out of it.  My friends and I whom live in the city drove out to the burbs Saturday to hang out with several of our other friends to have a good ol’ fashioned girls sleep over.  Wine, cheese and chick flick movies were all involved.

The next morning we were up bright and early to get to the event by 8:00 a.m and to meet Brian who drove up to participate.  The race start and finish was located in a mall parking lot, which was really the perfect spot because no one is at the mall at 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning.  The lot was full of women and men alike dressed to the nines in full out pink.  Pink socks, skirts, homemade pants, boas, ribbons, hats… you name it.  There was a large stage where people were dancing and playing music, getting pumped up for the race and lots of vendors there handing out free goodies.

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At 8:30 a.m., the race began!

5k’s are really such fun races.  It’s a long enough distance to get in a good workout, but not too long where I feel like i’m going to pass out.

A lot of the people racing with me were super friendly, giving each other high-fives and screaming out encouraging mantras.  It was an all-around feel good kind of race, especially because you knew that the donations were going towards such a wonderful cause.

The course took us out of the mall parking lot and into the surrounding neighborhood.  It was a pretty perfect day to go running except for a few strong gusts of wind here and there.  I wasn’t complaining though ;)

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I had an awesome time running the race.  Surprisingly, the cheese and wine combo from the night before was not hindering my stride and I ended up running a pretty decent race!  I didn’t PR my 5k time, but I did place 3rd in my age group which was pretty neat.

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Of course, there were really only 50 people in my age group… but I’ll still take it!

After the race, we hung out for a while.  Enjoyed roaming the tents eating fresh watermelon, coffee and donuts.

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Check out these amazing watermelon carvings!  The man who created these did them live so you could watch him make one from start-to-finish.

It was a great way to spend a Sunday.  I love my college friends so much and am so glad we continue to stay best friends even though 4 years has already passed since we got to live carelessly at our old stomping grounds.

 

How to stick to your fitness routine

18 Sep

Hello Hello!

Last week, my company wrapped up our 60-Day fitness challenge.  The event was a success!  We had over 50 employees stay committed during the entire challenge and some of our employees saw amazing results (I’m talking over 8% body fat loss and several inches off their waist and hips).

The question that now burns deeply in all of our minds is… now what?  Well, we have a major product release and user conference coming up in less than a month, so our kFit program is taking a breather so people don’t feel overwhelmed.

The answer: get into a routine as quickly as possible.

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Staying active, staying motivated and staying in great shape is all about routine and consistency.  For some, the kFit 60 Day Challenge was the first consistent program they had followed in several years.  All I gotta say is DON’T BREAK THE HABIT!  Here are some helpful tips on how to maintain an active lifestyle.

1.  Join. Join. Join. Join.

Join a gym, box, running club, studio, or league.  Join something that is going to help you stay consistent a couple days out of the week.  Currently, I belong to a gym, play on a coed soccer team Monday nights and joined the ClassPass program so I can find out what types of fitness studios I really enjoy.  I love love love HIIT conditioning and using heavy weights to build my strength.  I was so happy to find that by joining ClassPass I was able to find a HIIT studio winner … more on that later.

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2.  Mark your calendar.

Nothing holds me as accountable as creating a calendar of my weekly workouts and posting it somewhere public.  If I come home early and Brian see’s that I have a 5 mile run written down, he won’t let me sit on the couch and blow it off.

3.  Find a buddy!

One of my favorite things about our 60-Day challenge was the fact that it was group training.  We all supported each other, did the same damn bear crawls together and we were engaged and excited to be there.  If you can find a friend, spouse, significant other who wants to be just as committed to an active lifestyle as you, it will make your fitness routine that much more fun!  Hell, maybe you will find someone through joining a studio or league.  Cough cough. Do it.

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4.  Measure yourself.

When you take your hip, waist and body fat measurements and re-evaluate yourself every month, it really shows how much effort and commitment you are putting into your routine.  The body fat % scale does not lie, folks…

5.  Make it fun!

Don’t run every day if you freaking hate running!  Do activities that you truly enjoy and will make you go back and do it again.  I can’t tell you how awesome it is to try out new fitness classes (spin, barre, conditioning, strength, pilates, yoga, CrossFit) and find something you truly become passionate about.

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Now that I’ve given my little rant, let’s hold myself accountable – shall we?

This weeks workouts:

Sunday – 60 minute spin class/body pump at GO Cycle.

Monday – Soccer.  (I got a stomach bug this night and only played half a game, but it’s better than nothing!)

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Tuesday – 3.2 mile run.

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Wednesday – 60 minute conditioning class at my new favorite… DHF Lakeview! (Again, more on that later).

Today - 4 mile run.

Friday – Rest.

Saturday – 45 minute spin class at Go Cycle

Now go out there and get. it. done.

Quick Beef Bourguignon with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

16 Sep

Tis’ the season for soups, stews, french oven meals and cast iron dishes.  If you’re like me, and have a 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. day job, there is not enough time in the day to make a decadent dish that takes 3 hours.  I too love home cooked meals after a long day at work, so I’m always surfing food websites for ideas on how to cook quick week-night meals.  After having a serious craving for Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon recently, I decided to come up with a quicker version that wouldn’t have me bent over the stove for half the day.

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Quick Beef Bourguignon with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. beef tenderloin; cubed into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 oz package of mushrooms; quartered
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 tbs. water
  • 2 tbs. flour
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tbs. butter, divided
  • 1 tbs. tomato paste
  • Salt & pepper

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Directions:

1.  Fill a large pot with water, place sweet potatoes in them cover and boil over medium-high heat.  Cook for 10 minutes or until fork tender.  Drain the potatoes and keep them in the pot to stay warm.

2.  Using a paper towel, pat the cubed beef pieces dry and season with salt and pepper.

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3.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tbsp. butter to melt, then add beef cubes and brown on each side – about 3-4 minutes.  Remove beef from pan and set aside.

4.  Add mushrooms to pan and cook until brown – about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and thyme and cook for 1 more minute.  Add tomato paste and wine and cook until liquid is reduced to half.  Be sure to scrap all the brown bits off the pan and stir to combine.

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5.  After liquid has reduced, add beef broth and bring to a boil.

6.  In a separate small bowl, combine the water and flour.  Whisk together and add to the pan.  Cook for 2 minutes – stirring constantly.  Add beef back to pan and cook until desired doneness.

7.  Add remaining butter to sweet potatoes along with almond milk, salt and pepper.  Mash together until light and fluffy.

8.  Serve beef and sauce over mashed sweet potatoes.  Sprinkle with fresh thyme and enjoy!

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Seriously nothing better than a home cooked meal.  :)

 

Beer, Workout, Eat, Repeat.

15 Sep

Hi, friends!

This weekend was an interesting one to say the least… and as I type up this post the Bears are off to a piss poor start, so let’s hope that changes by the time I’m done here.

Friday after work, a group of friends and I had tickets to go to the ‘Lions, Tigers and Brews’ beer festival at the Lincoln Park Zoo.  If you live in Chicago, then you know Friday was just an awful, awful day to be outside.  It was 55 degrees, windy and rainy.  Yuck.  I had a sweater and leather jacket on, but that really was not enough to block the piercing wind while holding a cold beer.  Needless to say, the “festival” was very short lived for me and my crew.  We managed to snag about 3 or 4 beers (the lines were outrageous considering the weather), and visited the lions.

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He was the best part of the fest.

The low-key Friday was okay by me because we had ANOTHER beer festival to go to on Saturday, and luckily this one was indoors :)

The Chicago Beer Festival was held on Saturday in the Great Hall at Union Station.  There were two sessions you could attend and my friends and I choose the 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. time slot.  Day drinking at it’s finest.

The Great Hall is huge and there were at least 50 different breweries at the event.  Including:

… and so much more.

Upon entering the event, we received our ‘tasting’ mugs, which were actually a really decent size for tasting pours!

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We took our time pretty much sampling every vendor.  I sampled all kinds of IPA’s, Saisons, Porter’s, Cider’s, etc.

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My favorites from the day were:

  • P.2 Pale Ale from Penrose Brewing Company
  • Really Cool Waterslides IPA from 3 Sheeps Brewing
  • Crooked Tree IPA from Dark Horse BRewing
  • Rasberry Ale from Dark Horse Brewing
  • en Seine Pearis Saison from Bucket List Brewing

So yummy!  We had an absolute blast at the event – it’s always fun to go with such a great group of people!

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After our 4 hours were up, we were HUNGRY (and severely buzzed) so food was in order.  We headed over the Haymarket Brewery, because clearly we had no had enough beer yet, and ate some delicious pizza.

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After that Brian and I headed home to let Bailey out and uhhhhh pass out.  :)

I was up bright and early Sunday morning to immediately start working off all of the beer/pizza that was in my body.

First, a long morning walk with Bailey.

Then, a spin/pump class at Go Cycle courtesy of my ClassPass subscription.  The class I signed up for was called ‘Go Pump’ and was 40 minutes of cycling followed by 20 minutes of weights.  Go Cycle is not just a spin studio, they have lots of other combo classes such as:

  • Go Core: 30 minutes of cycling followed by 20 minutes of core
  • TRX Training
  • TRX Express
  • Go Yo: 40 minutes of cycling followed by 20 minutes of yoga
  • Go Ripped: Alternating intervals of cycling and weights

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My instructor was Sara B. and she was AWESOME!  High energy, tons of fun… she even danced during some songs!  I absolutely loved the class.  I left SUPER sweaty and my booty was on fiiirreee.  I will definitely be going back and can’t wait to try out all the other different types of classes.

Welp, the Bears still aren’t doing good, but it’s only the 2nd quarter.  Here’s hoping they big home the W!

 

 

ClassPass – Fitness at your fingertips

12 Sep

Last week, when I returned from my wild and wonderful vacation, I was offered the opportunity to attend the ClassPass launch party at Flywheel spin studio in the Gold Coast.  ClassPass is a fitness start up that helps people find fitness classes that they love. For $99 a month, you get 10 classes you can use to visit any studio that you want. Some of these studios include:

  • Pure Barre
  • 105F Bikram
  • Atlas Performance
  • Bar Method
  • Chicago Kettlebell Club
  • DHF Lakeview
  • Exhale Chicago
  • Go Cycle Studio
  • South Loop Crossfit
  • Core Chicago Pilates
  • … and so much more!

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Most studios have two or three locations around Chicago, so you can find a class that is close to where you live or where you work.  Currently, ClassPass is available in Chicago, Boston, New York, L.A. and San Francisco.

When I arrived at the launch party, I was informed that the spin class I was supposed to attend was already full!  I’m not going to lie, I was really bummed and a little annoyed until they handed me a sweet swag bag and offered me a free ClassPass monthly trial.

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Ummm, okay!  (p.s. not the biggest fan of the hashtag, but the tank top and water bottle are super cute)

Last night, I attended my first class of the month – Pure Barre in Lakeview.

I’ve heard a lot about barre classes and have actually attended one a while back, but knew there was a lot of hype surrounding this specific studio.  I was excited to try something new and nervous at the same time because I knew a lot of the moves require flexibility, and that is just an area I do not excel in :)

When I got to the studio, I was immediately greeted by one of the instructors.  The first thing she asked me was, “Is this your first time at Pure Barre?”  A little embarrassed to admit it I replied “yes” and was immediately glad to hear I was not the only one.  The instructor took me around the studio and introduced me to the instructor who would be leading the class.  They showed me what types of equipment I would need and a little bit of what to expect throughout the class.  I was very impressed with how nice and helpful everyone was.

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Since the instructors did a good job of engaging me, I decided to go ahead and buy a pair of their signature socks (yes, I’m a sucker for new fitness stuff).

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I loved all the fun colors I got to choose from and have to admit that they class would have been a lot harder without them.  The grips on the bottom help you grip to the carpet so you aren’t sliding around during the workout.

Once the class started, I noticed that I guessed the correct attire to wear to class.  Lies – I Google imaged ‘Pure Barre” and saw that everyone in class was wearing some sort of tights and a tank.  I’m a nerd.

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Now to the fun part – the class itself.  It was definitely challenging in a way that will probably have an awesome effect on my abs and thighs, but it’s not one of those classes that you leave completely drenched in sweat… unless I was doing everything wrong.

Everything is done in little movements and high repetitions.  After 2 minutes of making the same small, controlled motion you definitely start to feel it… and may even start to shake!  “Shaking is changing”, or so they say!

The class moved at a very fast pace so that I never really got bored or lost focus.

Overall, I had a lot of fun and will definitely go again.  I may, however, pair the class with a run outside or some other type of cardio because I felt like I needed something else to round out the workout.

I’ve already mapped out the other classes I want to try through ClassPass at other studios that are close to me.  I’m really excited to try new things and find out if there is something else out there I could add to my regular routine.

I’ll be sure to let you all know how the rest of my ClassPass experience goes… stay tuned!

 

Chicago Activities – Fall Edition

9 Sep

Well, friends it’s starting to feel like fall more and more everyday. Cooler temperatures, less humidity, Monday night football… Is it too soon to break out the fall decor?

Last night, one of my favorite fall activities started… Outdoor soccer!

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What makes fall soccer better than summer league? Well the fact that I can run/sprint around the field without feeling like I’m going to die from the humidity is a good start. You don’t have to worry about getting stung by bees on the field – oh and you can bust out those sweet high school soccer sweatshirts you know you’ve been holding on to for said occasion. They are “vintage” now, so you totally look cool wearing them.

Last night I was a fall cliche if you ever did see one. Soccer game at night (we won!), Monday night football upon my return home with a big bowl of leftover chili and a piece of jalapeño cornbread. All I needed was a pumpkin spice latte (homemade, of course) and I would have completed the fall madness.

There are some really fun fall activities going on around the Chicago-land area that I’m very much looking forward to and you should too:

Beer Festivals

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Lions, Tigers and Brews – September 12th

The Chicago Beer Festival – September 13th

Oktoberfest Festivals

Berghoff’s Oktoberfest – September 10th – 12th

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Oktoberfest 5k – September 18th

Oktoberfest The Dawson – September 20th

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Logan Square Beer Fest – September 20th

Oktoberfest St. Alphonsus – September 26th, 27th and 28th

Fall Movies

Gone Girl

Fury

Interstellar

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The Hunger Games – Mocking Jay Part 1

The Drop

Fall Concerts

Riot Fest - September 12th – 14th

The Black Keys & Cage the Elephant – September 27th and 28th

Lily Allen - September 30th

Fall Weddings

We have three!!!!

There is so much more to do… how will we get to all of them!?!  Bust out your flannel, y’all and embrace these fun activities!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

8 Sep

Another weekend has come and gone…

This one was full of lots of activity, laughter and of course… wine :)

Saturday morning started with a nice 4 mile run on a blue bird sky day.

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We are now entering my favorite season to go on runs and I can’t wait to get back into race mode with a few I have scheduled these next couple of months.

After I dropped Bailey off at home (oh yes, she came with me!), I headed out to the grocery store to stock up on some items for the weekend.  Specifically, items to make chili and cornbread for football Sunday!  When I got back home, I realized I forgot to pick up items to bring to the Carrie Underwood concert I was headed to that evening.  I frantically pulled whatever was in my fridge/pantry and came up with this awesome pasta salad:

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

  • 1 lb. cavatappi pasta
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, diced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper

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Directions

  1. First, start by making your dressing for the salad.  Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Place a large pot of water over medium high heat and bring to a boil.  Cook your pasta according to package instructions or until just al dente.  It should be noted here, that you can use what ever fun pasta shape you have in your pantry.  However, I would not use a long linguine or spaghetti type noodle for this dish as it wouldn’t hold the dressing quite as well.
  3. Once your pasta is cooked, set aside to cool.
  4. Dice the cucumber, olives, sun dried tomatoes and place in a large mixing bowl.  Add the cooled pasta to the bowl and the vinaigrette.  Add the spinach and toss to coat.  I find it easier to toss the spinach once the vinaigrette has already been added.
  5. Top with crumbled feta cheese and enjoy!

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We enjoyed this and so many other great items at our Ravinia picnic – shout out to Kristin’s veggie “deep dish” pizza!

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The concert itself was just okay.  I love Carrie Underwood, but she didn’t have an opener and only played for an hour and half so we all left a little disappointed.

Sunday morning, Brian and I headed over to Kendell College for an extravagant brunch to celebrate the graduation of our family/friend, Diane.  Diane took a year-long culinary class through the college and we were able to see all of her hard work come together as the brunch was completely hosted by the students!

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We dined on so many great dishes…. (and sipped on lots and lots of prosecco!).

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The favorites among our table were the grits and leek gratin.

Our weekend ended on the couch watching endless amounts of football and enjoying homemade chili and jalapeno cornbread for dinner.

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Pretty successful weekend if I do say so myself!  Hope you all enjoyed yours :)

 

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