Tuesday, August 23, 2016

5 Days of Giving

I recently listened to "You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life" by Jen Sincero on Audible. It was my first experience with Audible. I finished the book in two sittings, and then I listened to it again. I loved it that much. While I have heard much of what Sincero has written in yoga-teacher training and in other books, Sincero told me the reminders I needed to hear in a new way. Among the many lessons and tips, Sincero writes that you should keep your frequency high so you attract high-frequency, positive results in your life. One way to do that is to give. Giving shows that you believe you live in a world of abundance and that you trust you will get what you desire.

Also, "giving is one of our greatest joys. It’s also one of the most fearless and powerful gestures there is," Sincero says.

And more from "You Are a Badass":

“When we trust that we live in an abundant universe and allow ourselves to give freely, we raise our frequency, strengthen our faith, and feel awesome, thereby putting ourselves in flow and the position to receive abundant amounts in return. When we’re in fear, we hold on to what we’ve got because we don’t trust that there’s more. We pinch off the energy, we’re scared to share, and we focus on, and create more of, the very thing we’re hoping to avoid, which is lack. We live in a universe of give and receive, breathe and exhale, live and die, suck and awesome. Each side depends on the other, and each is relative to the other—every action has an equal and opposite reaction—so the more you give, the more you receive. And vice versa."
This has inspired to give more. I like to give on a regular basis, but this week it's been on overdrive.
I am by no means bragging or preaching here, but these are just examples of some of the ways I've given this week to give you ideas:

  • Donated to Louisiana relief (twice).
  • Tipped twice as much as I normally would.
  • Donated to the family of a dog stung by bees.
  • Gathered items and clothing I plan to donate.
My motivation is threefold. First, I tend to hold on to money and things out of fear I won't have enough later, which needs to stop. I will have more than enough. Second, if there's ever a time for me to raise my frequency, it's now. I am in a transition period of my life. Things about to change, big time. I will write about it when the time comes, but nothing will be the same. What I need right now is to focus on giving and trusting. Third, giving just feels good. I love it.

I challenge you to do five nice things for others this week. You can find inspiration in the graphic above, or do whatever feels right to you.

Have you read "You Are a Badass"? What did you think?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Chicago Marathon Training, Week 10

The Chicago Marathon is in 47 days! That leaves me with six more long runs to prepare for the race. From now on I need to really commit to my schedule to stay on track. Wish me luck!

When I run on the lakefront path, I feel very much a part of the city. Countless runners use the trail during their marathon training. You'll see speedy athletes running alongside those who are more concerned with fun than pace. You'll spot moms and dads pushing their running strollers to get their mileage in. You'll notice running groups clustering together and chatting away. I love every minute of it, despite the recent humidity and heat.

Monday-Tuesday: Rest days.

Wednesday: 5 miles at group marathon training. We did 4 full-mile repeats and one half-mile followed by a cool-down half-mile jog.

Thursday: 15 minutes of at-home yoga.

Friday: 1.6 miles at Orangetheory plus 1,100 meters of rowing.

Floor exercises included:

  • Squat jumps
  • Plank jacks
  • Plank on palms to elbows
  • Burpees
  • Rollouts on bench
  • Step-ups on bench with weights
  • Toe reaches 

Saturday: Beach yoga was canceled because of the storm. I did no exercise that day, and I am OK with that.

Sunday: 14 miles. Oops. I was supposed to run 16 miles. I stopped to watch a few minutes of the Chicago Air and Water Show at about Mile 7 and had to turn around early because the trail was closed near North Avenue Beach. Oh well. I am not too upset about it. I have a recovery week next and then up to 18 miles after that. By the way, the weather was gorgeous. The cool breeze was a blessing!

Mileage: 20.6


I have been physically exhausted for about a week and a half. On the bright side, this week had a lot less work stress because I made the decision to not worry or get overwhelmed. I can only do one thing at a time. This meant I also wasn't as hard on myself when I missed a few miles or a workout. Summer is coming to an end soon and I have to enjoy it while it lasts, not work it away.

Previous marathon-training recaps:

Running posts:

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Movies at Millennium Park - "Grease"

One of the items on my Chicago summer bucket list is to watch a movie at Millennium Park. When I saw "Grease" on the schedule, I said, "Yes, please!" I made plans to meet my friends there on Aug. 9. I packed up my apple ale, snacks and a blanket and headed to the park.

When I arrived, I could not believe how packed the pavilion was. I knew these events would be popular, but I did not anticipate people resorting to setting up on sidewalks, outside the barriers, and in adjacent park lawns. There was not enough space, so barriers were put up to block people from entering. Unfortunately, my friends were among them. I found a spot on the side next to the sidewalk that was big enough for us, but now I would have to watch the movie alone. Well, not exactly alone, but you know what I mean. I stayed until just after the movie began, when I decided instead to meet them in Millennium Park and see what they wanted to do. We chose to go get wine and have our own watch party at their place nearby. 

Will I try to watch a movie in Millennium Park again? Probably, but I will arrive an hour or more early if it's a well-liked movie. Lesson learned.

Have you attended a movie in a park? What movie did you watch? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, August 19, 2016

What I've Been Eating: Asahi Roll, Toast, Happy Camper

I've been having some tasty meals in Chicago lately, y'all. If you live in Chicago or plan to visit soon, let me know if you try any of these and what you ate. I loved all three of these restaurants, and they are all located in different neighborhoods of the city.

Asahi Roll, Rogers Park

This is our favorite sushi place. It's not much to look at: It's a small space and you can miss it easily from the street, but who cares? The sushi is amazing. We eat at this restaurant once a week (almost) and we've tried most of the specialty rolls now. Our favorites are the Avocado Torch, Wonderful Roll, Loyola Roll, Arizona Summer and the May Flower. We still have many more rolls to try, but if you start off with the Avocado Torch (Spicy tuna, masago, tempura crunch, scallions, topped with torched avocado and tempura crunch with eel sauce and wasabi mayo) you can't go wrong. The ramen isn't bad either. 

Toast, Lincoln Park

I had brunch at Toast recently and I loved that they have a mimosa flight. My favorite mimosa was the Pomegranate. I ordered a Tijuana scramble (jalapeƱos, onion, tomato, Chihuahua cheese and cilantro) but later wished I had added soyrizo like my friends did. It was filling and tasty but perhaps I was missing some more protein. Of course, the meal comes with toast. There was a bit of a wait to eat here. The decor is adorable. There's also a location in Bucktown.

Toast Mimosa Flight

Happy Camper, Old Town

I loved, loved, loved the Green Eggs and Pie pizza (pesto, cracked eggs, potatoes, salsa, buttermilk ranch). It normally comes with ham but I ordered mine without. My friends really loved the French toast, which is topped with ice cream and comes with a generous portion. Another friend ordered the pulled pork hash, which she loved. Order the Trailer Park Queen drink with your brunch. You'll love it. My friend ordered the Hangover Coffee, another great drink. I am not a Bloody Mary person but I saw one with a pizza slice on it, so there you go.

Happy Camper Pulled Pork Hash

Happy Camper French Toast

Happer Camper, Trailer Park Queen, Hangover Coffee

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review: FlipBelt

I recently broke my armband that I used to carry my cellphone during runs. My friend at group marathon training suggested the FlipBelt, which she wears during our training sessions. The FlipBelt intrigued me because she said it didn't budge and the items inside didn't wiggle when she moves.

I ordered the FlipBelt a couple months ago and have been using it since. It comes in several colors depending on where you get it. Some retailers (like Target) only offer a few of the colors, but if you order on FlipBelt's website you get all of the options. I picked my FlipBelt in purple and size small. I wasn't sure if it'd be too tight on me, but it fits well. When I ordered I was between small and medium, but now a small is perfect for me. See the sizing guide here.

The FlipBelt is basically a fabric belt with four slits in which you can slide your items. I use it to carry my cellphone in the front, my keys on the side and my running fuel (gel) on the right side. 

It was a bit tricky getting accustomed to carrying my phone in a belt on my waist. If you just hit shuffle on a playlist and go, you'll love it, but if like me you skip songs a lot, you will have to pull the phone out of the slit as you run. Sometimes it isn't a problem at all, but sometimes my phone or earbud plug will get a little stuck. It's not a big deal, and I really should just play the damn playlist without skipping to focus on running, but hey, these are my running problems!

I may still buy an armband for my phone and use the FlipBelt for necessities such as my car key, my ID and credit card, lip balm, running gels/chews and ointment (during the marathon).

Overall, I like the FlipBelt. It's cute, it doesn't move and I haven't had an item fall out yet. (I can see how if you don't push an item far into the belt that you could drop something though.)

If you're looking for something to help you carry your necessities this might be for you. This would also make a great gift for the fitness junkie in your life. Of course, it isn't just for running. You can wear it during your other workouts as well. Let me know how you like it if you try the FlipBelt!

Shop for FlipBelt:

**This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How Yoga Has Improved My Confidence

I went to a yoga class Friday for the first time in a couple of weeks. My goal is to get back into the yoga studio more often, because I have been neglecting yoga for months. I try to practice at home, but it just isn't the same as surrendering to someone else's lead so you can go deeper into yourself. I find that when I practice at home I get too distracted and end up only doing the physical movements vs. the inner work. Being in class reminded me just how much yoga has improved my confidence. As I moved from pose to pose, noticing how my body was as creaky as old wooden floors, I also thought about everything yoga has done for me since I started practicing at a tumultuous time of my life.

Yoga & Confidence:

Improved my posture and thus body language. Working on lifting and opening the heart has helped me avoid the slouching position I often take in social situations. I tend to retreat into myself, often physically curling up and crossing my arms, but yoga has taught me to open my arms, hands, and heart to the world.

Practice in public speaking. When I signed up for yoga teacher training in 2013 I was not intending to become a teacher. I just wanted to challenge myself. Becoming certified to teach yoga helped me work on my public speaking, which is difficult for an introvert like me. My first classes were rough. I know my voice cracked and I lost my train of thought frequently. I even skipped many of the poses I planned to teach. But after months of teaching I was a lot more comfortable being in front of a class and I enjoyed it! My confidence showed in my voice and in the fact that I finally forced myself off my mat and around the room to adjust and assist my students.

Trusting myself. Yoga helps you see that the answers you seek are in yourself. It lets you tune in to your inner voice that sometimes get muffled by the noise of the outside world. It also builds trust that you can hold yourself in poses, especially when it comes to inversions. When I practice yoga I have to trust myself to be gentle with my body so I don't hurt myself.

Speaking up. I have always struggled with speaking up for myself. One of the biggest lessons I have learned from yoga has been to speak your truth. I say it often. I live by it. Standing up for yourself is not always easy. Yoga is a constant reminder that I need to live in the truth. 

Showing me my strength. I have surprised myself so many times while practicing yoga. On Friday, for example, I tried pincha mayurasana (forearm balance) for the first time in months. I didn't think I would be able to do it anymore, but I picked up right where I left off. Yoga has shown me time and time again that my body is capable of doing many incredible things, which in turn elevates my confidence.

Helped me work through fear. I don't want to live a life that's held back by fear. Working through poses that terrify me, such as handstands and headstands, has helped me take that newfound confidence off the mat. I won't lie and say I am completely fearless (See my post on ziplining in Costa Rica) but trying new things and stepping out of my comfort zone has improved my confidence immensely.

Have you tried yoga? Did you take anything away from it? Let me know in the comments!

Related posts:

Monday, August 15, 2016

Chicago Marathon Training, Week 9

I got on track with Chicago Marathon training in Week 9 after taking it easy the previous week. I feel good about where I am in the process, and I can't believe the race is coming up in just 54 days! 

Here's how I trained in Week 9:

Monday: 2.06 miles at Orangetheory. We all started on the rower and the floor, which is a nice change. I typically like to start class on the treadmill to get it over with, but since I didn't feel like working out that day it was nice to ease into class. I especially loved coach's playlist that day, which included Drake's "One Dance" and a remix of "Don't Let Me Down" by the Chainsmokers and Daya.

Tuesday: 2 miles at Orangetheory. I didn't plan to go two days in a row but I had to in order to avoid wasting an Orangetheory class. My classes expire on the 9th of the month and I hadn't gone the previous week. The treadmill portion of class included a 10-minute incline distance challenge. We ran at a 4 percent incline the entire time, which was tough. I managed just over a mile in that time.

Floor workout included:

  • Bicep curls.
  • Plank jacks.
  • Squat jacks.
  • 400-meter rows. (I did this four times.)
  • Rollouts on the TRX strap.

Wednesday: 3 miles at the Chicago Adventure Run at Road Runner Sports in Lincoln Park. I skipped group training to try something different with my friends. Sadly we didn't win any prizes, but it was nice to run with two of good friends. Maybe I will win next time!

Getting tickets at Vitamin Shoppe in Lincoln Park. Photo by Adventure Run.

Thursday: Rest day.

Friday: 75 minutes of vinyasa yoga at my neighborhood studio. I could feel how tight I was in every movement. It was a much-needed session.

Saturday: The 14 muggiest miles of my life. I was struggling and I had to walk a lot. The sun was so intense and I had defined tan lines after my run. I was just glad to be done. I treated myself to the most refreshing iced Chai from a favorite neighborhood spot afterward. I wanted to go to a running group picnic, but I was too exhausted afterward.

Sunday: Yoga at my neighborhood studio. I felt worn out and everything hurt. I used to be so flexible, but now I am so tight.

Mileage: 21.06

Yoga Minutes: 150


While I try not to obsess about a number, I noticed a slight drop on the scale this week, which was a relief. In my last marathon training I actually put on weight, and my goal this time around is to not gain any weight due to improper nutrition. I think the fact that I have been tracking my meals has made a tremendous difference. The humidity this summer has been insane. I come from Arizona, so I am not used to humidity at all. Phoenix is only humid on some summer days, but for the most part it's dry, which I miss. I am proud of myself though because I have been consistently running all summer vs. last year when I phoned it in when it comes to training.

How was your week fitness-wise and in general? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Camping in Michigan | Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness

Graham and I love to camp. We camped together at Fossil Creek in Arizona for the first time after just a few weeks of dating and we've been doing it ever since. When we lived in Phoenix we would often camp once a month or so, but we had yet to camp in the Midwest since moving to Chicago in March 2015. We finally got a chance to remedy that when Graham had three consecutive days off work for the first time in months. We packed up our things (and the pups!) and headed to Michigan to find dispersed camping.

We do not like crowded campsites, and we had heard that you can camp anywhere on public lands as long as there are no posted signs prohibiting it. We chose Manistee National Forest as our destination and set off from Chicago on a five-hour drive. Graham and I kept asking each other if we were in Costa Rica when we saw the lush forests along the highway. It reminded me of the greenery we saw on our trip.

When we arrived at Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness, we didn't immediately know where to camp. We drove around surveying the area before deciding to keep driving on the forest road. We drove north on 5356 until we found a spot near the Lake Michigan Recreation Area. While we had campers nearby, it was not on a developed campground and we had plenty of privacy.

We were so proud of ourselves for having out campsite set up so early in the day. When we camped in Arizona we had always rushed to beat the sunset. It was a nice change to have the entire day off and free to do whatever we wanted. We ate lunch and then set off to check out the Lake Michigan Recreation Area park. To park, you just need to pay $5 and deposit the fee into an envelope and drop it in the box. We walked over to check out the swimming area when we realized dogs aren't allowed in the swimming area. We decided to walk up the stairs leading to the viewpoint instead. We later walked north from the park to a spot for a swim away from other people.

That night was spent relaxing and catching up. It seems as though I don't see Graham a lot even though we live together because of our crazy schedules. I loved spending that quality time with no one else there besides the dogs. Dinner was our version of Mexican street corn plus black-bean burger patties on a bed of salad (from a bag) and topped with Colby-Monterrey cheese and salsa. We sipped on some apple ale and just hung out. I had limited to no service, so I was not distracted by social media at all. It was perfect.

The next day we drove to a nearby country store to get Graham his morning coffee, which was only 50 cents! We made egg burritos for breakfast and then set off for a hike at Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area. This park is dog-friendly so Taylor and Capone could join us on a hike to the beach. Each way was about 2 miles. We chose a less-frequented trail than most people seemed to be doing, but we're OK with that. It led us to a section of the beach that was not crowded at all, and we swam and played with the dogs for hours. The water was clear, cool and refreshing, and I could not believe the views.

Later that afternoon, we headed back on another trail that was on top of a hill. You can see impressive views of the lake and the forest and we did not see one person on that trail. It was even a little nerve-racking because we didn't know where the trail was heading at first. We later discovered that it rejoins the main trail but was a more scenic route. What a wonderful surprise!

We finished that day back at Lake Michigan Recreation Area, where we made dinner. I had black bean and vegetable soup and Graham had canned pasta, and each had a quesadilla. We then watched the sunset from the top of a hill above the beach. After all, Graham says one of his goals in life is to watch the sunset over as many bodies of water as possible.

I was in awe of the fact that the sun sets around 9. I had forgotten that Michigan is an hour ahead of Chicago and thus has so much sunlight late in the evening. It was incredible. As a lifelong Arizonan who never had to observe daylight-saving time, that is new to me.

Sunday was spent relaxing and cleaning up before returning to Chicago. The drive back took a lot longer --6 hours -- because of construction and accidents. We were exhausted, dirty and tired of being on the road, but we had a wonderful time in Michigan. I can't wait to go back!

Watch a video of our Michigan camping trip!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Chicago Marathon Training, Week 8

I had the opportunity to finally go camping last week for the first time since moving to the Midwest, so I took it. That meant pushing my long run (a 14-miler) back to Week 9, but that's OK with me! Week 8 of Chicago Marathon training was more fun than actual training, but I needed the break after a tough week of work. I wouldn't normally suggest not running much on Week 8 of training, but then again, you prepare for a marathon in 16 weeks or longer in some cases because some weeks will be better than others.

Marathon Training Week 8 Workouts:

Monday: 1 mile run, 40 bicycle crunches, 15 squats, 32 hip raises, 1 minute plank. Work was insane but I fit this short workout into my day.

Tuesday: 1 mile run. 100 bicycle crunches, 100 hip raises, 30 squats. It was yet another busy day of work but I am glad I did this short workout.

Wednesday: 4 miles at group marathon training. We did mile repeats -- oh joy! I did three mile repeats followed by a half-mile and then a half-mile recovery jog. It was brutal, I won't lie. My first mile was 8:55 but then my second and third were 9:30 and 9:50 respectively. That means my first was probably too fast for me.

Thursday: Rest day on a busy workday.

Friday: Road trip and camping in Michigan. (Recap coming this week!)

Saturday: 4-mile hike in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area. I normally do my long run on Saturdays, but I pushed my 14-miler back to Week 9 of marathon training.

Sunday: Rest and travel day back to Chicago.

Week's Mileage: 6 miles of running and 4 miles of hiking.


Though I didn't run as much as I should at this point in training, I needed a break from running on the same lakefront path, and my brain needed a break from technology. It was nice being in a place where I had little to no cellphone service for the weekend. Graham and I don't get much time off together, so when we get even just two or three days we jump at the chance to do something fun. This week we chose camping in Michigan, a state neither of us had ever visited. It was so worth it!

Previous marathon training recaps:

Sneak peek of my camping recap:

How was your weekend? Do you have any fitness goals? Tell me about them!

Monday, August 8, 2016

IAMS Deal at Target

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #IamsDogOffer #CollectiveBias

Double the savings for your pet! Save $1 on any 1 bag of IAMS dry dog food, PLUS get a $5 Target Gift Card when you buy 2 bags.