Thinking Out Loud: Ebay, donuts, and the great grammar epidemic

Now that I’m back in the writing rhythm, it feels awesome to participate again in Thursday Thoughts. Thanks, Amanda, as always, for hosting!

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The Grammar Epidemic

I’m starting to think there’s an epidemic going on, and it’s not the Zika virus. Everywhere I turn, people are beginning to use apostrophes willy-nilly like it’s a new trend for all plural nouns. I just NEED to get this out there so let me have my soapbox for 30 seconds, okay? Unless it’s possessive, you don’t use an apostrophe. “Happy Holidays from the Johnsons!” makes me happy. “Happy holidays from the Johnson’s!” makes me want to light you on fire. The Johnson’s what? The Johnson’s dog wishes you a happy holidays? Their mailbox? What? I know I’ve been out of school for awhile now so if there was some grammatical overhaul and I’m in the wrong here someone’s gotta let me know because I’m losing my shit over this.

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(Of course because I said that I’m sure there’s an apostrophe error somewhere in this post).

Stan’s Donuts

Tuesday was Fat Tuesday, and since I’ll use pretty much any excuse to eat fried foods covered in sugar I was hellbent on making it to a donut shop that morning.

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I’ve tried tons of donuts in the city but had never been to Stan’s (Chicago blasphemy for sure). I’m always tempted by the classic glazed, but anytime I see anything lemon poppyseed or pistachio flavored I always have to get it. So when I saw the lemon pistachio cake donut, my mind did a few cartwheels before I grabbed it.

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We picked some up for our coworkers too because not all heroes wear capes.

SoulCycle Southport

I know I’ve said a few times that SoulCycle isn’t really my jam. I like it, but I don’t like it like it.

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That being said, a new studio just opened up two blocks from my apartment. Two blocks. So I can essentially walk out the door, take class, and be home within one hour. And that, my friends, is too good of a deal to pass up. So it looks like I’ll be knocking elbows with the stay-at-home-moms of Southport more than I ever anticipated. Worse things have happened.

 Espresso, anyone?

In what can only be described as the world’s most random Thursday Thought, I recently put a beautiful espresso machine on Ebay. Don’t ask me how I ended up with an espresso machine or anything about it because I’ve never touched the thing, but if you’re in the market, have a looksie. If I can’t sell it, maybe I’ll get a third job running an underground coffee shop from my apartment. It’ll be great — come for a visit, have my landlord yell at you about keeping your shoes on in the building, get a shitty cup of coffee made by a past-her-prime barista, and help her pay off all her student loan debt. How have I not thought of this before?

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And to end in good measure, I can’t get enough of this song. If you follow me on Spotify, you probably think I have a problem. Gotta remember to put my profile on private if I’m going to repeat songs like an obsessive 13-year-old.

Questions:

  • Have you ever used Ebay to sell something? What was your experience?
  • What’s your favorite song right now?
  • What’s your favorite type of donut? Chicagoans, any strong feelings towards one donut shop or another?

 

 

 

Back in business

I know I’m the boy who cried wolf when it comes to this here blog. I pop in every now and then, but let’s be honest…since I ran the marathon, oh, four months ago, I’ve been like the absentee father that shows up every other week looking for attention and validation that they’re still relevant (you still love me, don’t you?! Here! Look at this awesome picture of a bagel sandwich and you’ll never forget me!”)

I know I’ve told you all before about my computer situation, which was holding me back from posting. At my breaking point it took close to three hours to get one post up. And since I’m not sitting around watching Giada and testing banana bread recipes all day (although that would be the life, wouldn’t it?) I just didn’t have the time or motivation to do it any longer. It’s unfortunate because I truly love the community I’ve built with all of you over the past two years, but reality set in and it just wasn’t in the cards for awhile.

THAT BEING SAID…here I am, back in action, and it’s all because of Chicago’s very own Superwoman, ERIN!

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Erin and I see each other a lot these days (we train at the same studio, frequent the same Chicago neighborhood, swap restaurant obsessions, and she visits me at lululemon when I’m in the store). I thought nothing of the random Sunday morning text when Erin said she was stopping by the store to give me something. Honestly I assumed she had received a new shipment of blogger goodies since she’s such a badass writer and she was going to share her spoils with me. Little did I know what surprise she had in store for me — a Macbook Pro! That’s right…she and her husband Neil walked in the door and handed me one of their old computers. She kept saying that like it meant it wasn’t as huge of a gift but come on…it’s a Mac! She asked for nothing in return, just that I start writing again (she had been bugging me for awhile about it haha). I was near tears as I hugged her and thanked her for the generous gift! Needless to say, I’ll be taking her out to breakfast for awhile in gratitude.

So thanks to Erin, I’m BACK IN BUSINESS!

There isn’t much to catch you all up on except I’ve been eating out like my life depended on it. This is my kryptonite, especially in the cold winter months when there’s pretty much nothing else to do except warm up in cozy restaurants with copious amounts of fried food and alcohol.

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If you can’t guess, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.

Starting in February, I made a vow to myself to no longer go out to eat. Besides financially (which is killer), it just isn’t good for my body. As much as I wish it was. So big grocery hauls have been the name of the game this week!

IMG_9579Peanut M&Ms and wine are necessary evils.

On that note, anyone know fun ways to cook whole artichokes?

So what’s new with you guys? Tell me the best thing that’s happened to you in 2016.

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My First Fitness Photoshoot: Sweat Chicago

There are too many ways I could start this post…something along the lines of “do what you love” “blessed” and some Rumi quote about waking up every day living your passion and the rest will follow. But we’ve all seen one too many Thought Catalog articles emphasizing that rather overstated notion…so I’ll just leave it at this:

It’s official. I’m a trainer, I’m a writer, and I “basically” get paid to work out. So that magical life I dreamed of two years ago that seemed untouchable is the life I face every morning when I wake up. And it’s fucking awesome.

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This past weekend Sweat Chicago hosted a fitness photoshoot for its trainers. We’ve all worked so hard over the past few months to get out in the community and attract great people to the studio, so this was the culmination and celebration of it all!

The days leading up to a day of being on camera were full of smoothies, juice, and spray tans. The owner of Sweat was able to get us in at Benefit so we all arrived Saturday like glowing goddesses (they did a phenomenal job, if you’re ever thinking about getting one). The amount of compliments I’ve gotten on my tan are pretty disturbing, though. I’m starting to think I looked like Casper the ghost before and that I can’t go back!

Saturday morning arrived and all the trainers assembled to take our headshots, some action shots, and a video workout for the studio. I walked in hungry, dehydrated, and pumped full of red wine and coffee (thanks for that pre-photoshoot tip, internet) so physically it was a grueling few hours. But the trainers and I had so much fun messing around together while we were getting ready and in between shots that the time flew by.

The shots aren’t out yet, but thankfully there was a good blogger in the group (Erin for the win!) who snapped a few from afar. That girl is the paparazzi that I wish I could pay to follow me around and make me look pretty all the time. Maybe one day she’ll be looking for freelance pap jobs. Keep me updated, E.

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We ended the shoot with a 45 minute video workout, which in all honesty I expected to be staged. Nope, it was a full-out HIIT workout on camera in full hair and makeup. FUN! I felt like a damn fool running on the treadmill with sweat and foundation running down my face, and towards the end of the workout all the trainers were getting our butts kicked by the clients who came in for the workout (we were all exhausted!) But afterwards we toasted with Coronas and called it a day. It was SO much fun and I can’t wait to see the final product. There’s nothing quite like being surrounded by weights, pounding music, motivated people, and knowing there’s a Corona and sandwich waiting for you at the end.

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Questions:

  • Have you ever had to be on camera?
  • After a few days of watching everything you eat, what would you splurge on as  your “first meal”?
  • HIIT workouts: love ’em or hate ’em?

 

Honey Butter Fried Chicken

It’s a pretty bold move to name a restaurant after one of  your menu items. Can you imagine if the streets were lined with WIENER SCHNITZELs or CAESAR SALADs? You’d go in pretty much expecting the best damn schnitzel or salads of your life, right? That’s why it was so exciting for me to finally try Honey Butter Fried Chicken, a joint situated on a sharp corner smack dab in the middle of Avondale.

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Courtesy of HBFC’s Instagram

I took my dad there this past weekend for a late lunch and after snagging some free parking out front (a rarity in Chicago) we were inside and ready to feast.

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HBFC is counter service so they don’t take reservations. I can only imagine the fights that happen when finding seating during peak hours, because even at 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon the dining room was nearly full. We had both already looked at the menu online (like father like daughter) and were both set on our meal choices: The OG sandwich for me + the four piece meal for him. We also grabbed a few sides, of course, because we’re not savages: cornbread and mashed potatoes+gravy. I also got a diet coke for the first time in god knows how long because clearly this was a diet kind of day.

We took our seats and looked at the menu again, almost silently debating if we’d consider getting more meals to go. They have so many options at HBFC that I was having serious food FOMO about potentially missing out on other deliciousness. Thankfully our food was out in less than ten minutes and we were off.

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The Spread

Let’s just get this right out in the open. The fried chicken with their signature honey butter slathered on top of it is better than Christmas morning meets your first frat party meets the day you got your driver’s license meets your wedding day (something I have yet to experience but I promise this was better). It was so many descriptive words that I’ll just leave it at that so I don’t drown in a sea of my own hyperboles. The chicken came out piping hot and fresh (they use local, antibiotic-free chicken) with crispy-as-sin skin and juicy meat. The honey butter melted on top of it like a symphony of sweet+salty flavor and we just kept looking at each other in disbelief for how freaking stellar it was.

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Honestly — you could put that honey butter on a gas station bathroom doorknob and it would be an outstanding culinary experience.

Next up was the OG sandwich: fried chicken strips, candied jalapeno mayo and crunchy slaw. I’m pretty sure the slaw was pickled vegetables which isn’t my jam normally but after taking some of it off to make the punch less packed, this was a bomb sandwich. Plus it was very photogenic which is really what it’s all about, right?

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The whole meal was as close to perfection as it gets, and we even sat back and reflected for a few minutes after we were done. The vibe there is like a hipster Buffalo Wild Wings, with the addition of cool artwork and awesome sunlight that comes from being on such a prominent street corner.

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To sum it all up, the people are cool, the chicken is fab, the place itself is eclectic without sacrificing class and cleanliness, and I am one day further from being a supermodel. Everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there, from the patrons to the employees. I instantly felt part of some kind of “club,” one that doesn’t think twice about combining honey, butter, and fried chicken (and why would they? It’s genius!)

HBFC is closed on Monday and Tuesday (understandably to give those poor chickens a break) but every other day they stay open until 9 or 10 pm, leaving no excuse for anyone not to try it. They accept cash and credit but not reservations. Walk in, order, and fight for a seat Hunger Games-style. Check out their menu or Instagram and get in there if you can!

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PS I just found out they deliver and are also hiring. To say I’m overstimulated and overwhelmed with the beauty of life right now is an understatement.

 

Studio Three

Chicago locals, if you’ve been walking around River North lately (maybe headed to Portillo’s? You’ve got my full support), you may have seen construction going up around Clark and Erie.

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I’ve been hearing about Studio Three for months now, and just about all I could gather was that it was a boutique fitness studio comprised of three workouts in one: HIIT, yoga, and peloton cycling. But when I found out that my good friend would be managing there, I was more excited than ever to check it out for its soft opening.

I stopped over last night for media night and was met with a bright, vibrant studio oozing energy in only a way that a brand new studio can. There was something particularly exciting about this opening. As you can probably assume from its classification as a “boutique” studio, this event wasn’t frizzy-haired college grads handing out Kind bars. The space was filled to the brim with heel-wearing, LBD-clad, Chicago 20 and 30-somethings all ready to see the new “it” place “on the scene.” I felt 200% underdressed and underprepared for the chicness of this event, but at the same time it struck a chord of excitement in me. Chicago fitness includes pretty much everything you can imagine, so it takes a lot to get people excited. Having one location for three types of workouts (plus a juice bar) is unlike anything I’ve seen and as a huge community buff, it excites me to know that there’s now a place in our big city where you can get it all in, and still only pay one membership fee. Everyone wants a Cheers-type relationship with their gym, right? Where everybody knows your name…

The most appealing part of this fitness conglomerate is that it’s comprised of three floors with three distinct fitness adventures. The top floor is home to a beautiful yoga studio and underground there is a HIIT studio. On the main floor is their Peloton cycling studio.

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Photo courtesy of Studio Three @ Instagram

 

I have yet to try all three spaces but was lucky enough to get a preview spin class on Monday night with Erin, one of our lululemon ambassadors, and it. was. tough. I don’t know why I had the idea that spin was an “easy” workout. This class was a wake-up call. The room is heated and the bikes are able to go up to an insane amount of resistance (something Erin was sure to hit throughout class). I left covered in sweat and definitely did my share of huffing and puffing (but don’t worry, there was plenty of towel-waving, cheering, and dancing to balance it out). The coolest part was the Peloton technology: every Peloton class is live-streamed and at-home Peloton users can log in and take the class too. So as you’re looking at your stats, you’ll see everyone in the room who has logged on as well as everyone at home playing along. It’s like a live-action video game!

Since I’ve reviewd both Flywheel and SoulCycle here, I think it’s only fair to compare the three. I have to say I liked Studio Three much better than SoulCycle because it felt like less of an emotional experience/dance party and more of a hardcore workout. That’s just the kind of experience I except when I pay to workout. It was not much different than Flywheel except for the lighting and music, which felt sexier and more fun. Flywheel feels like you’re biking in an underground rave in Amsterdam at 3am and you’re not really sure if the sun is about to rise or if a meteor has hit the earth. Studio Three feels like you’re cycling with Arianna Grande at her favorite club at 11pm but will definitely be out by midnight to stop for frozen yogurt (not doughnuts though, am I right Ari?)

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No judgment, girl. I too have been tempted to lick donuts on the shelf I just can’t imagine how short that counter must have been for you to reach it.

In other words, cycling at Studio Three is the sweet, sweet lovechild of Flywheel + SoulCycle. The best of both worlds.

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I still have to try out the other two studios but I was able to meander around the place on media night and pretend like I was supposed to be there (I spotted a Chicago news anchor from across the room and just about had a heart attack. This is proof I shouldn’t be allowed in nice places).

First of all, the space is gorgeous. Along with the three studios, Studio Three is home to the new Real Good Juice Co. location. I’ll be honest — I cannot afford juice. I can afford good meals, but not juice. But I LOVE Real Good Juice. They have the nicest staff, the most delicious juice options, and awesome offerings like dried coconut jerky. The day I win the lottery I’ll be hanging out at Real Good much more often. Until then, I hoard samples like the penny-pincher I am.

The rest of the building was filled to the brim with fitness bloggers, media hustlers, and many of Chicago’s top trainers, all excited to see what the buzz was about.

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Opening day is today, 11/18, and needless to say I will definitely be back to try out their HIIT workout. I’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to lift dumbbells in a blacklight-laden room (hello, Destiny’s Child music video!) and you can’t help but feel sexy in that kind of atmosphere.

Drop-ins for your first class are $13 (after that it’s $26 with free towels and shoe rental for spin). I’m not even going to say the monthly membership rate because I fear many of you may have a heart attack at your desk, so just drop in with me every now and then. Or use the code GRANDOPEN2015 for an additional 20% off all monthly unlimited and series/packages. I’m down to feel like one of the cool kids again ASAP.

Studio Three

648 N Clark Street Chicago IL 60654

(312) 944-3333

Info@studiothree.com

What I’m Eating Lately: 21 Day Shred

If anyone has been following me on social media, you’ve probably noticed a drastic change in what I’ve been posting. Normally I’m all about trying that monstrous sandwich, sampling every cookie on the menu, savoring a sweet latte on a blustery afternoon, and enjoying a sugary margarita on a Friday night. Food brings me so much pleasure, and I’m proud of the relationship I have with it. That  being said, things have been getting a little bit out of control.

It all started with marathon training, during which I absolutely gained a bit of weight (they say you either lose weight or gain it when training). Now, I am in no way diminishing the accomplishment of running a marathon or insinuating that I was expecting to lose weight during training. It was my first marathon and I didn’t really know what I was doing in many senses of training. That included fuel. I clearly did something right because I ran the damn thing in way better time than I was planning, but once I crossed that finish line I didn’t know how to go back to my old eating habits. You know, the ones where cheese isn’t the center of the universe.

So there I was, entering November, and I just felt…well…pudgy. I had taken some time off from really working out and was still eating pretty good portions of my favorite comfort food, as if another 26.2 was on the horizon. The thing is, there isn’t. I knew that if I didn’t want to completely lose control of my eating habits come holiday season (get at me, Bailey’s and hot chocolate!) I needed to reset my taste buds and get used to cooking beautiful dishes again.

Luckily, my coworkers at Sweat Chicago had similar thoughts and put together a challenge for us called the “21 Day Shred.”  So, starting November 1st, my eating habits changed drastically.

  • No dairy
  • No gluten
  • No alcohol
  • No added sugars

Whoa nelly.

So here I am, 14 days into it and it feels like nothing much has changed, which is crazy because the cuts I made were drastic. That makes me smile because it goes to show how I really want to eat 80% of the time. Sure, I lovvvve indulgence. But I love vegetables, protein, and healthy fats too. And those things should be making up most of my diet.

So what have I been eating a lot of?

  • Eggs
  • Potatoes
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Hummus
  • Carrots and celery
  • Nuts
  • Snap Pea Snacks

I was expecting the “no dairy” part of this diet to be the hardest, but it’s the SUGAR.

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You guys. There’s sugar in EVERYTHING. Things that say 0g sugar still have sugar in them. Salsa, vegetable stock, every sauce you can imagine is filled to the brim with the sweet stuff. I’m not going to lie…I spent close to two hours in the grocery store last Sunday reeling over how much shit had sugar in it. It kept ruining all my recipe ideas and I was NOT happy about it.

Aside from the extra effort, I’ve loved (almost) every minute of it.

What have I noticed since cutting out dairy, gluten, added sugars, and alcohol?

  • I LOVE to cook. I don’t just like it, I love it.
  • I don’t crave food at night as much
  • I have pretty good willpower
  • I don’t need to put cheese on everything
  • I’m actually more fun sober than I am after a few cocktails (this is arguable, but man I’ve been having fun going out and getting “hydrated” instead of “wasted”)

These are just a few things I’ve noticed since starting, and even though I’m definitely looking forward to a celebratory meal next Sunday (get at me, crab mac and cheese!), I’ll probably keep incorporating this diet during the week. It has really held me accountable to the “balance” that I claim to have but up until two weeks ago was completely losing control of.

Plus I’ve been killing it…and I mean killing it…in the kitchen.

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Eating out hasn’t been too tricky either. Sure it takes more effort and is a bit more expensive to eat this way when you’re not prepared, but there is GOOD FOOD out there.

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So there’s that! I know a lot of other people have been trying new ways of eating this month (I’ve seen a lot of first-time Whole30-ers!) so I’m interested to hear your takes on changing it up like this. What have your experiences been with cutting out certain food groups and then reintroducing them back into your diet?

Not-So-Breaking News: New Developments

I know, I know. You were soooo worried that ihabl was over, done with, kaput. But not to worry, it’s just another case of broken laptop, busy life, the usual excuses. How is everyone? I feel like I’ve missed A LOT. And I’m excited to wake up at the crack of dawn tomorrow and catch up on each and every one of your lives. Because believe it or not, this little space of the internet that I call my own has really created a community for me, and I feel invested in all of your lives. Some of you got married, moved, got injured, took vacations, accomplished crazy fitness feats, and I don’t even know about it! Not cool! So just know that I’ll be around now. Especially for the holidays. There’s just too much goodness to share this time of year 🙂

That being said, what’s been happening since I ran the marathon, oh, a MONTH ago? The day still feels like a dream sometimes and I often forget that it even happened. As many of you remember I became a NASM certified personal trainer this past summer. Well, now I’m going to be putting that to use! In early September I joined the training staff at Sweat Chicago, a HIIT studio in the Gold Coast of Chicago. I am just about done with their internship program, learning the programming of the workouts, proper form, techniques, how to use the mic during class, etc. so soon I’ll be teaching classes #likeaboss. It’s exciting, especially because I had gotten so used to straight cardio and now I’m blowing up like the hulk (or at least it feels that way after Monday’s arm workouts!)

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Another new development is that I was promoted at lululemon and am now part of the management team. There are no words to describe how ready and excited I am for this change. When I look back to my first few weeks at lululemon I thought I’d never want to leave my role on the floor because, to put it simply, it’s just too much fun! But now that I know our store like the back of my hand, it just feels right that I’ll now be part of the business on a logistical level. It also means that I get to help all the newbies with their personal development in the same way that I was helped. And that is one of the greatest things about lululemon: they invest in and love on their people.

Needless to say, these two new job opportunities + a spontaneous trip to DC made for an eventful October. Luckily November settled down a bit and now my days are just a little more filled. Filled with management meethings, time on the floor, emails emails emails, Sweat shadow sessions, and of course my own workouts. Thank goodness for a planner, that’s all I’m gonna say.

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I’ll just end here for today to give me a chance to catch up with all of you! Tomorrow I’ll share a fun thing I’ve been experimenting with thanks to Sweat (although if you follow me on social media, which you should, you already know exactly what I’m up to!).

Have a great Tuesday everyone!