Thinking Out Loud: Challenge Yourself

Remember the other day when we talked about saying yes? Sometimes it’s easier said than done. Saying yes is easy when it’s “Wanna meet at Portillos after work?” or “Wanna stay in, curl up on the couch and watch a Chopped marathon?” But what about things that push you out of your comfort zone?

It sucks. Saying “yes” when you’re happier opting out can be uncomfortable, awkward, and downright risky. But what kind of life lesson would it be if we just said yes to the things that were easy?

So today I’m thinking about the things I’ve done lately that have pushed past my comfort zone.


Group workout + Networking event

On Tuesday night I attended a group workout and networking event held on the west side of the city. Now, usually anything west of the highway means I won’t go. I’m a bit of a hobbit in this way — I have my “zone,” and I won’t venture out by myself. Not only was it a hike via public transportation, but it was a workout followed by a networking event (drinks/appetizers/cool new health products). Networking is not my strong suit. Contrary to what it might seem like on this blog, I don’t like talking about myself, and sometimes I psych myself out when meeting new people and get nervous. But it was a wonderful opportunity to support a lululemon ambassador from Shred415 and I knew the store was looking to have presence there, so I said yes.

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I basically faked it til I made it but it was awesome! The workout was held in a giant warehouse/studio space and even though it was only 20-30 minutes it was great. As you know I love group fitness in any form and this was like group fitness on steroids! We did a Shred415-inspired workout so you can imagine it was sweaty as all get out.

I said yes, got my sweat on, networked a bit after the workout, and, what do you know, I came out alive! I even got to meet some of the higher-up ladies for lululemon so that in and of itself made this challenge worth it.

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#diningin challenge

In terms of food, I thrive on “going with the flow” of my cravings. As I’ve shared before with my own health journey, years back I struggled with strict rules and consequences if I didn’t follow those eating rules. Nowadays I think I’ve completely thrown myself at the other end of the spectrum, almost as if to prove to myself just how “healthy” I am. And while I’m not saying I should go back to serious food structure, there’s something to be said about self-control, listening to your gut (literally and figuratively), and making food choices based on things other than “oooo that looks good! I’ll take it!” So I decided to challenge myself this week and see if I have the mental game to spend money on food only in the grocery store, and nothing outside those walls.

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I hit every food group, made pulled BBQ chicken in the crockpot as a good protein base to use throughout the week, and made sure to include some sweet/saltiness. Let’s be realistic: this isn’t Whole30 this is “don’t run to the 7/11 at 10pm for a bag of tortilla chips.” And you know what? It hasn’t been tough at all. Now, granted, when Friday rolls around and I can’t spend any money on food or drinks I’m going to have to come up with some pretty creative ways to get my drink on at the bars, but that’s neither here nor there. For now, this is a success story.

So far so good:

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Overnight Oats: 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup almond milk, chia seeds, millet, cinnamon, stevia, slivered almonds, and a scoop of pb

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Grilled cheese: havarti cheese, tomato, and (of course) another slice of bread on top

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“Homemade” trail mix for quick energy bursts in the afternoon (plus unpictured almonds)

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Pulled chicken sandwich, roasted crispy sweet potatoes, roasted cauliflower and broccoli

lulu photoshoot

I guess calling this a photoshoot is a stretch, but I took some photos for our store’s social media pages and it was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve done in awhile. I am about as awkward as it gets when it comes to any kind of “candid posing”. So when my manager asked if I’d be willing to do showcase some of our new spring pieces, I almost said no, as I’ve said no in the past. But hey, I have to practice what I preach, right? So I said yes. And, once again, I survived (and had a lot of fun doing it).

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We even got a hilarious shot out of it. I was trying to do a stretching pose and ended up looking like George Washington crossing the Delaware (minus the sword, sadly). I knew the second I saw it I had to get the two side by side. My coworkers and I were in stitches.

unnamed (15)Moral of the story, saying “yes” isn’t always easy. And it might not always turn out great. But I like to think that the consequences of missing out on a fun opportunity outweigh actually saying yes and it not going well. I’d rather have the latter and know I at least gave it a try! Why be scared of taking chances?


  • How did you last challenge yourself?
  • Have you ever said yes when you didn’t want to? How did it turn out?
  • Best meal you cooked this week with ingredients from the grocery store….go!

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 😉 ). 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!

Thinking Out Loud: franken fraps and waterboarding


It’s been a hot minute since I’ve shared the random ramblings that go on inside this (oversized) noggin of mine, so let’s just jump right in.

1) Let’s set the mood. I couldn’t pick between these three songs so you get ’em all:

2) I woke up at the crack of dawn this morning, determined to hit 6 miles before the majority of people would see me dying on the side of the road on their way to work. It was freezing. Winter is coming, Chicago. I’m here to tell you.

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Lucky for me cold weather running is my jam and I made that six miles my b***h 😀

3) I am incapable of washing my face and not making a mess. A total mess. I get water like two feet from the sink, get mascara all over my towels and go to bed with facewash in my ears. IN MY EARS. Did I just not learn how to wash my face right? Was this a lesson they gave while I was in speech therapy? It gives me anxiety when I stay over at someone else’s place because a) why is everyone’s sink so small?! and b) where in the world does their mascara go?! Clearly not on the pristine white hand towels that everyone seems to have.


4) Speaking of speech therapy, fun fact: I had a speech impediment growing up. I sound like a normal human these days but back then S’s were tricky and I couldn’t for the life of me say the letter R. That was a real treat because my name has an R in it. I even called my aunt rich once and hurt her feelings, having just been called a “witch” by her niece. The word “world” is still tricky for me to say to this day. So let’s just say I’ll never be writing a novel called “The World According to Lauren.”

5) I realized after spending lots of time reading all your blogs and commenting yesterday, that I included the word “literally” in, literally, every comment. Guys I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me. Things were getting real literal in the blog world, apparently.


6) I haven’t had wine in a full week. That’s SEVEN MOONS’ TIME. Funny how six months ago I didn’t touch wine – but when I was dealing with all that ish this past summer wine became my best friend. Weird how I now notice the time I DON’T have a wine glass in my hand, and not the other way around.


7) I had a sleepover the other night. At a personal chef’s house. I came home from work and this was waiting for me in the fridge:

unnamed (26)A beautiful Greek salad with my NAME written on it. I felt like the queen of England. I need to continue to make friends with like this. These are my people. They just get me.

8) I can’t wait for Halloween. Scratch that – I can’t wait for Halloween 2020. When I’m a a real adult and can throw real holiday parties where people send out cute Etsy invites three weeks ahead of time and people actually RSVP and you make six hundred adorable Pinterest-inspired apps and have costume contests. Right now is not a good time to be a holiday lover. 50% of people my age want to dress up as a slutty minion from Despicable Me and the other 50% don’t want to do anything. Not a fan of this middle ground. I want apple bobbing and beer tasting, eating donuts that are hanging on strings from the tree in my front yard and handing out candy to kids when they ring the doorbell. So basically I want my Halloween to be straight out of an episode of 7th Heaven.

9) Speaking of Hallween did you all see this??


The limited-edition Franken Frappuccino is a Green Tea Frappuccino with peppermint syrup, white chocolate sauce, java chips and topped with whipped cream and mocha drizzle. To celebrate the spooky holiday Starbucks is serving these creations for $3 for a grande after 2 p.m. today and tomorrow. I’ve never been a huge frappuccino fan but in the spirit of the holidays I’m definitely going to get one. I’ll let you all know how it goes!

10) I decided to make some money on the side by participating in focus groups in Chicago. Well I’ve been at it for two days now and I am officially qualified for ZERO focus groups. So…either I’m an awesome/unique individual whose life just can’t be quantified, or I’m a loser.

That was a LOT of rambling. If you made it to the bottom I’ve officially succeeded as a blogger, as I’ve kept you entertained longer than a standard YouTube video. My work here is literally done!


  • Are you a holiday lover? Do you throw any cool parties for any specific holiday?
  • Will you try the Franken Frap?
  • Anyone else make a complete mess whenever they wash their face?
  • Any fellow speech class peeps?