Thinking Out Loud: to tan or not to tan

Better late than never! Let’s get those Thursday Thoughts out there.

First things first:

Can we please bring back the high-waisted workout leotards? Can you imagine? Crossfit boxes would be forever changed.

My new apartment downtown is closest to a Jewel so I’ve started going there recently in the burbs to get used to shopping at any store that isn’t Trader Joe’s. It was tough but I powered through somehow. I’ve been trying to focus on those damn veggies lately because I know that this time of year I pretty much just want to roast potatoes, cover them in cheese and call it a veggie. So a veggie-fied week it was.

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The loot included: sweet potatoes, white beans, coconut La Croix, bean sprouts, carrots, plain 2% greek yogurt, tuna, green beans, avocado, spaghetti squash, bananas, brussel sprouts and fingerling potatoes. But of course there are some things only TJ can provide so I swung by there afterwards.

The usual suspects: Ezekiel bread, British muffins, white bean basil hummus, soy creamer, chicken, pb pretzels and liquid stevia.unnamed (9)

Plus some new friends: coconut cream (not sure how I’m going to use this), garlic simmering sauce and coconut oil cooking spray.

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And some of the best nuts I’ve ever had. If I ever overdraft on my checking account it will because I can’t control myself around da nuts (that’s what she said). But seriously – those thai lime & chili cashews are killer.

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On the workout front, I started back up at a Crossfit box downtown (okay technically it’s not Crossfit because there’s not Olympic lifts but I’m not sure what else to call it. I’m sure the Crossfit police are out there monitoring the internet for every misuse of the word Crossfit so I guess I’ll just call it bootcamp).

We arrived to a seriously fun tabata workout. We started off with a sprint warm-up which reminded me of my old basketball days when I would get suuuuper competitive with everyone around me and try to win every time we had to run suicides. The workout then consisted of 20/10 work/rest increments of power balls, v-ups, broad jumps, rows and man makers or burpees (your choice – I chose burpees. Not because I have a death wish but because I didn’t understand what man makers are and I didn’t want to look like a fool).


Oh my gosh it was a BALL. The only downside: I’m STILL sore. I took a rest day Wednesday because I legitimately couldn’t think of a workout to do that wouldn’t make my body cry. That was one full-body workout. Oh, and broad jumps are my new favorite thing. If you need me I’ll be doing them in my kitchen.

I need your help. Thoughts and opinions, please. I have terrible, terrible skin. Acne on the face and eczema on the arms. Yep I’m just that blessed. With that being said it always hits its peak horrible-ness (I’m really going for a Pulitzer prize today, aren’t I?) this time of year and I’m just sick of it. I’m tired of wearing long sleeve shirts all winter. I’m tired of being embarrassed at the gym in tank tops. I’m sick of itching my arms constantly and wondering if I have any red patches on the back of my arms that I can’t see. I’m sick of lathering on six creams before bed. So, I’m seriously considering going to a tanning bed once a week or once every two weeks. I know, I know, CANCER BOX. But I also have spoken with a dozen people or so who say that, like anything in life, moderation is key. I even spoke to one woman who said her dermatologist recommended a tanning bed twice a month to help clear up her eczema. What are your thoughts of tanning beds to help skin problems like this? I would love to hear all opinions, but would appreciate personal experience and/or educated comments even more, thanks! I have no intention of becoming the next “Tan Mom” but I’d love to not hide my arms like an amish woman for the next five months.


I don’t know how much I talked about it last week but my mom’s knee surgery went well – she’s kicking butt (not literally, of course, with the new knee and all ūüėČ ). I have no doubt in my mind that her 25-pound weight loss helped immensely. It makes me so proud to see her taking control of her health. This is EXACTLY why I want to be a personal trainer. I spent years and years with my fingers crossed, hoping my parents would get on board with eating healthy and being active. Once you know how amazing that kind of lifestyle is, you just want to go up to everyone who’s not doing those things and just shake them, saying YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW GREAT THIS FEELS! But you just can’t. The healthy living journey is something that people can only fully appreciate once they make the decision for themselves. There’s a little mental switch that needs to be flipped. So now that I’m seeing my parents fall in love with vegetables, cooking, and portion control, it makes my heart smile a little bit. Not to mention I want them to be around for a longgggg time, so this new lifestyle only helps. I can’t wait to be a certified personal trainer so I can help people who take that first step and decide they want a healthier lifestyle, and walk with them through their journey.


I’m going ham on that frittata, folks. Sometimes I want to share recipes because I have a mini panic attack that I haven’t shared one for awhile and, what kind of blogger would I be without sharing a good recipe every now and then? But this one is truly one of the best things I’ve ever come up with in the kitchen. I’m so proud. It’s like my little frittata baby.


I typed in Frittata Baby into google and all I got was a baby eating frittata.

I go into work for six hours without my phone and this is what I come out to. Friends, you are hysterical. Reading through a group text that you haven’t been a part of for half a day is basically the same as watching a 30-minute sitcom on TV, so thanks for that.


It’s officially winter in Chicago. I broke out my blizzard parka yesterday and it was glorious. We also have legwarmers at lululemon now so I’m thinking it’s going to be a flashback to an 80s winter this year. It’s also the season of “I don’t need any more coffee in my body but damnit I really need to hold a cup of coffee to keep my fingers from falling off.”

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And finally, ¬†a quick story. I temporarily joined¬†a gym in the suburbs three years ago via Groupon. It was an amazing bootcamp-style workout that my friend and I took advantage of when we were home on winter vacation from college. I could tell from the beginning that the owner was salty about us “Groupon-users” but he was always pretty kind and helpful so I chose to ignore it. On our last day, however, I’ll never forget how he went into a rant to the whole class as we were jumping rope about how Groupon users were taking advantage and not serious about the program. IN FRONT OF US. It was so random and completely inappropriate. 1) YOU are the one who put up an offer on Groupon. If you don’t want people to use it, don’t do it. 2) Why would you EVER say that kind of stuff in front of the people who did nothing wrong except buy a Groupon? At least wait until we’re gone to trash talk us. My friend and I were absolutely mortified and I’ve resented that gym ever since. Why am I telling you this? Because I’ve been on his listserv ever since so I’ve been getting 3+ years of fitness advice, workouts and recipes sent to me for free. And I just had to express the poetic justice in that. I know it’s immature but every time an email from him comes through I just feel this evil grin come onto my face. Free stuff for an advantageous Groupon user? Don’t mind if I do.



  • Tanning beds: GO!

scenes from the weekend

Hi folks! I can’t wait to read about all your weekends. Mine was filled with tons of activity, sunshine, furniture shopping and, of course food. Is anyone else blown away that it’s June? March, April and May flew by but I’m hoping that June will slow its roll so we can enjoy the nice weather that we all deserve so much.

As you saw yesterday, Zain and I started out the weekend by biking¬†to the farmers market early Saturday morning. We didn’t buy anything but it was just nice to walk around and see the options for the future. Next time I’ll be sure to go around lunch time – there were tons of awesome food options! Tacos, fancy grilled cheese, crepes…I was pretty mad I had just eaten breakfast haha. I never like to miss out on food like that.

Breakfast before the market was peanut butter and bananas on a sandwich thin + coffee



Zain finally learned what it takes to date a blogger so he likes to take “spontaneous” pictures of our adventures.IMG_7804

I also noticed that everyone at the farmers market was in athletic gear. These are my people.IMG_7856

After the market I met up my friend Megan for a bootcamp class. It was the last class in my two week pass at Yoga Loft and I really can’t tell you how much I’m going to miss it. Once I have to stop paying all those beginning fees and additional costs of moving I’ll for sure get a 10-pass there to use over the span of a few weeks. That place kicked my butt and I loved every second of it.

IMG_7850The rest of the day was spent furniture shopping. Zain is all about the deals so we ended up biking + walking about five miles or so to a furniture outlet in the middle of nowhere. We felt like we were on a pilgrimage across the Sahara (it was 95 on Saturday) so when we saw 7-Eleven and were sure it wasn’t a mirage, we picked up some Slurpees.


Saturday night I hung out on¬†Megan’s roof watching the sunset and drinking wine, so it was basically the perfect day.

Sunday was¬†spent¬†church-going, grocery shopping and Blackhawks-watching. The weekend was full and fabulous –¬†but don’t think I’d leave you without showing you all the food I ate!

For some random reason I was all about the salads this weekend:


Mixed greens with hard boiled egg, tomato, blue cheese, avocado and balsamic vinaigrette.


Arugula with mozzarella and baby tomatoes (dressed with the oil that the mozzarella was soaking in plus TJ’s balsamic glaze)

But don’t think I just ate salads all weekend – that would just be nonsense.


Mahi mahi with herbes de provence and lemon, breadcrumb and herbes de provence-stuffed tomatoes and roasted brussel sprouts


Spinach-egg white breakfast wrap from Starbucks (plus it looks like the barista was cursing me out haha)


Veggie burger topped with cheddar, bbq sauce and onion straws

It was a blast of a weekend – I even started off Monday right with a 6:00am 4 mile run. Now that summer is here morning runs are going to be a lot more common. Everything is on the up and up!


Happy Monday!


  • What was the best thing you ate this weekend?
  • What’s your favorite homemade salad combo? I need some new inspiration!
  • Did you try anything new this weekend?

Yoga Loft Chicago

One of the coolest perks of my job is we get to try out a variety fitness studios and classes in the city. Sometimes they come to the office and we do a group workout in one of the conference rooms but this past week we were lucky enough to be invited to Yoga Loft, a gorgeous, almost hidden studio in the heart of the River North neighborhood.


All I knew before stepping foot in the studio was it was going to be a “sculpting” class. I assumed that since it was a sculpt class at a yoga studio it would be yoga + weights and maybe a little more movement than the usual yoga class. BOY was I wrong. But let’s rewind…

We walked into the small but well-utilized space and were immediately faced with rows of dark wooden cubbies for our belongings, a variety of weights to choose from, Dixie cups full of water and a wall of yoga mats. From the second we walked in it was a very warm and welcoming place.


Next we met Tim, who was our teacher for the day. I should have realized when he said he was a personal trainer that we were NOT going to be doing yoga, but I remained blissfully ignorant to what lay ahead.


All 15 of us grabbed some five pound weights, headed into the studio and sat down on mats already waiting for us. The room was hot as could be so I knew it was going to be a doozy.

Now, onto the workout. After a quick five-minute “warm up” (a term I use lightly because it was tough in and of itself) we jumped right into a 40 minute bootcamp-style workout. Now, I’ve tried just about every workout: spin, body pump, Crossfit, running, yoga, etc., but these 40 minutes were by far the toughest I’ve ever experienced.

We performed two circuits, including some of the following moves:

  • Moving pushups (moving side to side after each one)
  • Burpees + jump with knees to your chest
  • Pushup + lunge + jump lunge to the other leg
  • Planks
  • Forward and back kicks + punches
  • Mountain climbers
  • Sumo squats
  • High knees

I could keep going but you get the picture ūüėČ

The intensity of this workout plus the heat in the room made for a hilarious picture. ¬†All 15 of us were slipping and sliding on our mats, and I even fell a few times while trying to hold a plank. The longest break we had was 15 seconds, a well-deserved rest¬†that only came two or three times during the workout. Needless to say, it was the quickest 40 minutes of my life. After it was done we all looked around at each other and couldn’t believe we had just been moving like the for 40 whole minutes!


Now that is some good old fashioned sweat! (Plus a side of some serious forehead)

I left Yoga Loft feeling better than I have in months. They aren’t lying when they say that exercise gives you a serious high. I could have flown home on that endorphin rush!

The thing I’m most excited about is that Yoga Loft ¬†is offering new students an incredible deal: two weeks of unlimited workouts for $35! Anyone who has gone to a small studio in a big city knows just how expensive they are, so this is a steal. Megan and I are definitely going to go back for the next two weeks and get our sweat on again – we’re addicted!

If you’re from Chicago and want to check it out with me, I’d love to go with you in the upcoming weeks! Just check out their website, see if it’s something you want to test out, and let me know! I’m always looking for new fitness partners in crime ūüôā


  • When was the last time you had an amazing workout?
  • Do you belong to a regular gym or a small studio?
  • Any ideas for how to make a little extra cash so I don’t have to sell a kidney to keep going to classes like this once my two weeks are up?

Weekend Happenings

Hi, all! How was your weekend? Did you know it was the first weekend of FALL? Crazy!

While I still didn’t manage to do anything too autumn-ish, I know the next month will be filled with apple-picking, pumpkin-carving, candy corn-eating fun, so I’m not too worried.

This weekend I stayed in the suburbs for the first time in awhile.  I had two shifts at the restaurant so it just made sense to stay home. Luckily that meant I got to spend a lot of time with my family and make some great food!

Saturday was a rest day minus a casual walk with my dad through our neighborhood.


Isn’t this apple tree gorgeous??

Sunday was a little different, however. I dragged myself out of bed at 9 and headed to the gym. I spent a lot more time there than usual because I wanted to do both cardio (elliptical) and take a yoga class. My lower back has been kiiiiillllling thanks to the intensity of bootcamp lately so I knew I needed to force myself to stretch!


Needless to say I walked through the door after almost two hours at the gym ravenous and quickly made myself an egg sandwich before church.

ImageEzekiel whole grain english muffin, two eggs with spinach and parmesean cheese, and a Morningstar sausage patty.  Coffee on the side, of course.

The afternoon was spent watching football before heading to the restaurant for work. ¬†I don’t know if it’s just that I’m paying more attention this year, but all the games have been so good! Most of the games I tune into have ended up being close which makes it so entertaining.


Grilled cheese with tomato and an apple on the side before work

I got home late last night thanks to the Bears game (wooooo we won!) so I grabbed the first thing I could find for dinner.


Cherry walnut pancakes that my dad made in the morning alongside a cup of plain greek yogurt (with truvia). I passed out watching reruns of Parks and Recreation before I ate the banana, so there’s that.

This morning before work I’ve already been busy with a KILLER workout at bootcamp.


AMRAPs are nuts (as many rounds as possible). I, along with a few other people around me, were close to throwing up. At the moment you feel like death, but now I just feel like a badass ūüėČ I’ll spare you the picture of my tomato face afterwards, and instead leave you with a few hilarious posts from “Thug Kitchen”. Is it weird that I find food humor funny?




I hope you all have a great Monday! Happy Fall!

Question: what was the best part of YOUR weekend?

girls night in

I spent yesterday applying for some more full-time jobs in the city, so by the time late afternoon rolled around I was definitely in need of a sweat session.  Luckily my bootcamp has a night class, so  I headed there to get a good workout in.

ImageNot fun.  (But such a blast). yaknowwhatimean?

This workout kicked my but.  Knee raises (reverse crunches hanging from a pull up bar) AND burpees?  Cray cray.

((Sidenote, since I started doing Crossfit-like workouts I’ve noticed that my core is becoming incredibly strong. I love it!))

I ran home and showered really quickly because I had a girls night to get to.

Since we all graduated from college four months ago, my group of girlfriends has worked really hard to still stay close. One of my friends Monica put together a video montage of pictures from freshman-senior year and invited us all over to have dinner and watch it! How sweet!


We all brought over some food (my contribution was the cake batter rice krispie treats in the right corner) and snacked until everyone arrived.


My plate (plus more chips and carrots)

After we all got to Monica’s we settled in and watched the video. It was so sweet and well put-together. Seeing all those pictures was crazy because I can’t believe I was ever that young (but at the same time it feels like I was JUST that young–definitely one of the most bizarre parts about growing up.



After the movie we sat around a reminisced for awhile. It was so nice just to spend a night with my best girlfriends!


The gang minus a few!

This morning I hit the snooze button and missed BOTH workout classes that I was considering going to. Oh well ūüôā I need sleep! ¬†The best part about this morning was that my family was unanimous in wanting bagels for breakfast, so another pumpkin season craving has been satisfied!


Pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese and coffee with pumpkin coffeemate (not pictured). A little overboard? Not possible.

Now I’m planning on watching college football all day, maybe doing some yoga, and going to work at the restaurant tonight. It’s a beautiful September weekend–fall is finally here!

Question: what’s your favorite kind of bagel? Do you have an Einstein’s Bagel near you or is another place your favorite?

pressing the reset button

I always feel pretty out of sorts health-wise whenever I come back from time spent on vacation. Since the past month I’ve been out of town every weekend, indulging and skipping workouts, I knew this Monday was a good time for me to press the reset button.

The whole day was a jumble since I got home from my flight at 9am (after the airline lost my bag and I had to fill out all that fun paperwork) and had to jump directly into work. My eats yesterday were healthy and wholesome, however, which I was especially proud of myself for considering when I’m tired, all I want is easy-cheesy carbs and sugar.

The highlight yesterday was dinner! All the stars aligned and I had every single ingredient for a Nicoise Salad!


For those of you who don’t know, a Nicoise salad is NOT your typical rabbit food. ¬†It has some serious staying power, thanks to tons of protein in its variety of ingredients! ¬†When I studied abroad in Paris this was one of my favorite things to order (when I wasn’t diving head first into a croque monsieur).

Here’s a quick recipe for those who don’t know the ingredients:


Nicoise Salad

  • Leafy greens
  • One small can of chunk light tuna, drained (4 oz or so)
  • 1 hard boiled egg (chopped and sprinkled with salt and pepper)
  • Green beans (just a handful or so…steamed, roasted, whatever! but they should be served cold on the salad)
  • Chopped tomato
  • Dijon mustard dressing*

Dijon mustard dressing

  • Dijon mustard or something similar (this time I used the garlic mustard aioli from TJs)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil

Whisk the mustard and vinegar together first until very well combined. Then add the olive oil and whisk together for a few minutes. ¬†Proportions are hard to say exactly for this, but I usually start with about 2 tbl of mustard, add in 1 tbls of vinegar, and then add olive oil to taste. ¬†You really have to try it for yourself. You really can’t mess this up as long as you whisk the vinegar and mustard first and then add the oil slowly afterwards.

This salad comes together so beautifully, and if you have all the ingredients on hand (which, let’s be honest, how often does that happen?) it is so easy to make. ¬†Even if you normally don’t have this stuff at home, make it a point to try this salad sometime. ¬†It’s delicious and stays with you for hours, thanks to the protein from the tuna and egg.

An hour later I had some dessert: healthy but still indulgent


Plain greek yogurt mixed with truvia, vanilla, unsweetened cocoa powder, and semisweet chocolate chips. Yum!

This morning I got down to business at bootcamp.


Tough workout! Especially because I decided to wear all black and we spent most of the time running. All in all, including the warmup run-through of this WOD and the core work at the end, this was only a 30 minute workout. ¬†However, I worked my butt off and my muscles feel like they’re still twitching! Crazy.


Feeling exhausted but strong and powerful at the same time–the BEST kind of workout.

I came home and took two L-glutamine supplements hoping that will help my soreness when I head back to bootcamp tomorrow.  Breakfast before work was simple:

ImageKashi GoLean + flax seeds + banana + almond milk. Quick and easy, because I had a conference call for work to get on!

I’m feeling really motivated for a full week of healthy eating and challenging workouts! Maybe it’s the changing of the seasons but it always gives me that extra boost of motivation.

Question: when during the year are you most motivated to eat right and exercise? Is it only when bikini season is right around the corner?

bootcamp is no joke

Man. All my prior beliefs about what “makes” a workout are being shattered.

I woke up this morning and had a quick bowl of breakfast before heading over to bootcamp.


a delicious combination of Kashi go lean and honey nut cheerios. Sliced banana on top and almond milk. Pretty food ūüôā

I was planning on running to bootcamp (it’s a little over 2 miles each way) but I ended up deciding to sleep in instead. Thank goodness I did that because I definitely go my running in during the WOD.


Sweeeeet lawd. Doing jump squats directly after running is not a treat.  It ended up being 8 rounds, so a mile total, of 200m sprints. Phew!

Needless to say, my mindset of “a workout has to be an hour in order to count” is quickly being wiped away. This workout was only about 20 minutes, plus a 5 minute warmup, and I was wiped out. These crossfit workouts are mentally and physically challenging in no way I’ve ever experienced (except back in high school when my basketball team did plyometrics with the boys football team during the offseason).

The best part about today’s workout?

ImageI finally got to use kettlebells! ¬†I’ve been hearing about how effective kettlebell workouts are for awhile now but I always just stare at them at the gym, too nervous to do it alone. Being in a group environment where everyone is learning as they go along makes it so much easier to try new things.

I came home and snacked on some super ripe honeydew melon before running out the door to meet up with some friends from college for lunch.


I am lucky in that I made a big group of girlfriends my freshman year of college and we’ve been close ever since. Now that we’re all graduated and moving in a million different directions, it’s nice when some of us can find a random afternoon to grab lunch or coffee, or to even just catch up over the phone.


Love these girls so much!

Four of us met up at Portillo’s for lunch (a Chicago favorite)

Chopped salad FTW!


This salad has everything. Little bits of pasta, blue cheese, chicken, and chopped up lettuce. It normally has bacon on it as well but I always ask to skip that. ¬†It’s a huge portion (which you know I lurv) and a treat every time I get it.

I just picked up Zman from a work retreat and we went to get his oil changed. I grabbed Starbucks while we waited for the car to be ready.


Grande coffee with pumpkin spice and topped with soy milk. ¬†(Did you know they put FOUR pumps of syrup in a grande?! It was delicious but man is that excessive. I’m going to try two next time. I hate drinking my calories and want to make an exception for pumpkin since it’s my favorite, but four pumps of syrup is a recipe for disaster and sugar cravings allll day).

Now Zman and I are packing for a quick trip to Dallas for the weekend. ¬†I told you I have a serious case of wanderlust, didn’t I? ūüėČ

Have a GREAT weekend!