Monday, June 27, 2016

Chicago Marathon Training, Week 2

I'm back in Chicago! I had a work trip last week in Phoenix and I didn't get home until last night. I love being home in Phoenix, but I didn't want to run outside in the heat. I used to give up running entirely in the summers when I lived in Phoenix. Yes, I'm a fair-weather runner; what of it? I didn't log any miles outside last week. My mileage was not high at all, but I am proud of myself for making it to fitness classes during my busy trip.

Here's how Week 2 of Chicago Marathon training went:

Monday: 3 miles at Orangetheory. It was the first day of peak performance week in which we really challenge ourselves. We don't normally run for as long as we did that night; it seemed like we did endless push paces. I kept my push pace at 9:30, which would be my ideal race pace right now. I stayed at that pace even when we did 3 percent and 4 percent inclines. My all-out pace was 8:31. We also challenged ourselves to finish a 500-meter row as fast as we could. My time was 1:51, which I was impressed with. (I was also super out of breath!)

Floor workout included:

  • Tempo pushups
  • Bridge rows on the TRX straps
  • More rowing
  • Back extensions
  • Squats. (Always squats.)
Tuesday: 30-minutes of yoga at home in honor of International Day of Yoga!

Wednesday: Travel day. I did squats (reps: 14/12/10/8/6), crunches (20) and pushups (20) before I left.

Thursday: 2.3 miles at Orangetheory. I completed the 2,000-meter challenge in 8:46.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: 1.8 miles at Orangetheory. We started with a 4-minute progressive push. I went to class to avoid running in the Phoenix heat, but even the class was hot. We also had three all-out rows. On the floor, we did:

  • Reverse lunges with dumbbells.
  • Double crunches.
  • Plank with alternating foot raises.
  • Rollouts on the TRX straps.
  • Knee tucks.
  • Squats with dumbbells.
  • High rows with dumbbells.
  • Tricep extensions.

Sunday: 2.25 miles at Orangetheory. I made it to the 6:30 a.m. class before breakfast with a friend and flying back to Chicago. We did a lot of incline work: One of the all-outs was at a 6 percent climb! We also incorporated several all-out rows.

Floor workout included:

  • Ground to press.
  • Sit-up to stand on Bosu ball.
  • Bicep curls.

Week's mileage: 9.35
Yoga minutes: 45


While I didn't increase my mileage much in Week 2, I stayed active on a work trip, which I consider a win. I was out and about nonstop during my time in Phoenix. I wished I had gone to one more class, but I did the best I could. I'm looking forward to my regular running routine this week with miles logged outdoors.

I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the recent stress I have been experiencing. One issue I had been anxious about has been addressed and another is about to be as well. I can't wait to get there!

Also, I started tracking my food Saturday after neglecting to do so for months (even a year). I am hoping that by tracking what I eat I can avoid gaining weight during this marathon training program. When I trained for my first marathon I put on a little weight (which is more noticeable on my small frame). This was mainly due to not eating the best foods during training and giving in to too many cravings after my long runs. My goal is to not do that this time.

How are your fitness goals coming along? Do you track your macros? Do you have any tips for doing so?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Current Favorite YouTube Channels

I have never really been a fan of Youtube until recently. I didn't understand how people could watch videos for hours and be fans of these people. Boy, was I missing out! I am surprised I didn't become a fan sooner because I am totally into reality television, and the parallels are obvious. With a few exceptions, I am more interested in watching videos by people who are not mega celebrities. My list of subscriptions isn't that long yet, so I'm always looking to find more awesome channels to watch.

These are five of my recent favorites and why I watch:


Meg O. 

  • I love that Meg shares her picks for both drugstore and high-end beauty products. She also doesn't overdo it with makeup and I feel like I can do what she is showing us. I have bought several of her recommendations.

Jaclyn Hill

  • I also sometimes watch other major makeup Youtubers, but I like Jaclyn's personality the most. Some people think she's too much, but I love it. I can also relate to her struggles with anxiety. By the way, I just bought her face palette and I can't wait to try it out!


Taylor Chamberlain
  • I am obsessed with Taylor Chamberlain's Youtube Channel. I have watched almost all of her past videos since discovering it a couple of months ago. She is a trainer, fitness model and athlete who competed last week! Check her out if you want workout tips and ideas, meal prep advice and a peek into the life of a dedicated athlete. She has so much self-control to stick to her strict macros and workout routine. She's also adorable!


Jessie Deschane

  • I like that I am watching Jessie's journey from what seems like the beginning of a shift in her life. She seems like she'd be fun to hang out with as well. She's down to earth, plus she really loves fitness! I like to watch people who don't have huge followings as well because they seem more grounded. I like her honest full day of eating vlogs.

Kelly Louise

  • I didn't start watching Kelly's videos until she took a break from blogging and vlogging recently. I like how she edits her videos and envy her skills. I also like how she is honest and open; that's what makes a good Youtuber. She hasn't posted regularly in a while but I'm hoping she'll come back.

What are your favorite Youtube channels right now? Share them with me in the comments! Also, watch my own videos and subscribe!

* This post contains an affiliate link.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

June Favorites

I know June isn't over, but it feels like the month is zipping away. I have been trying new products lately after becoming hooked on a couple of beauty Youtube channels. How I have found the time to watch videos with everything going on is beyond me, but that's another story.

My favorites right now:
  • Wet n Wild MegaGlo Highlighting Powder in Crown of my Canopy. I saw this mentioned in one of Meg O.'s videos recently, and it looked so pretty. I wanted to try it, but I couldn't find it anywhere! It is a limited edition product, and it seemed to have run out everywhere. I ended up buying it on eBay for almost three times the price including shipping, but it was still worth it because I love the look. (It was originally about $4.) I have been wearing it regularly and I love the glow.

  • Colourpop Ultra Satin Lip in Panda. I wasn't sure about the color, but it has grown on me. I love the longevity. The name satin threw me off because they become more matte throughout the day. The formula feels a little sticky on the lips and doesn't dry completely. It's quite pigmented, but applying it wasn't too tricky. One downside though is that it transfers. 

  • Miss Spa Exfoliate sheet mask. I've been focused on my pores lately. Their size bothers me. I know it's genetic, but I'm willing to try anything and everything to minimize and unclog them. Thus, I've been trying masks and serums. I enjoyed this one, which I picked up at Target recently. The mask didn't quite fit my face that well though. I noticed a brighter complexion after use. I plan to try other Miss Spa masks soon.

What are some of your favorites this month? Share them with me in the comments!

Shop some of the mentioned items: 

* This post contains affiliate links when available.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Chicago Marathon Training, Week 1

Chicago Marathon training has begun! I doubled my mileage from the previous week, but I didn't log as many miles as I wanted in Week 1. When runner friends talked about their training last week, a couple of them said they are on 10-plus miles, which I have to admit made me feel like I'm not doing enough. But I have to remember that I am following a different training program. My goal for the Chicago Marathon is to run it even just one minute faster than my first marathon time, which was 5:02. 

So here I go!

Monday: 3-mile run. It was a cool, breezy day, and I wished it could always be this way.

Tuesday: Rest day. I didn't need a rest but I had scheduled workouts the following three days, so I wanted to give myself a break.

Wednesday: About 2 miles at group marathon training. I think we actually ran more than that, but my running app failed to record the workout. Bummer! We did hill workouts: We ran forward and backward up the hill, did lunges up the hill three times and jogged in between. We also did planks, stretching and more.

Thursday: 2-mile run. I meant to do at least 3 but I received the phone call I've been waiting for since the end of May, so I immediately went back home to finish the call. It was an amazing day!

Friday: Rest day. I didn't plan for this to be a rest day. I planned to work early, work out at lunch and then attend a rooftop party with Graham. I ended up being too overwhelmed with work to even take a full break.

Saturday: I missed group marathon training, so I did a 2-mile run/walk through my neighborhood.

Sunday: I went to my first Soul Cycle class! It was tough, and I loved the inspirational aspect of class. I will definitely be back soon. Have you tried it? Let me know in the comments!

Week's mileage: 9.


I keep making excuses for why I miss my runs and workouts. That needs to stop. One of the challenges for this marathon training will be waking up early enough to train during the Chicago summer. It has been much warmer than last June, and that will likely continue. I am disappointed with myself for missing my 4-mile group run on Saturday, but at least I stayed active five days last week. My battle in the coming week will be training in Phoenix during my work trip. The forecast is 113 degrees and higher, so I will most likely train at Orangetheory. I would have to run at 4 a.m. in Phoenix to be in temperatures under 90 degrees, and that's not happening. Wish me luck!

Shop this Champion sports bra (*affiliate link):

Friday, June 17, 2016

Brookfield Zoo

Graham and I have wanted to go camping for months now, but our schedules haven't allowed it. The next best thing we can do is explore a place we haven't been to yet in the Chicago area. Last weekend we took a mini road trip to Brookfield Zoo to check out their grounds. That may sound weird, but Graham works in the turf industry and he's fascinated by anything to do with gardening, outdoors, nature, animals and sports turf. Basically, the Floras are obsessed with flora.

We just didn't quite feel up to it after we heard about the Orlando shooting. After thinking about it for hours, we decided to go anyway to make the most of our one day off together.

It took us about an hour to drive there. The GPS directions were a little off. One second it told us to turn left, and the next it said right, but we discovered that you can just rely on zoo signs once you exit the highway. The reason the directions seemed off was that you park on one side of the street and then take a short little tunnel to the other side, where the zoo entrance (North Gate) was.

I was impressed by the size of the zoo. We spent four and a half hours there and didn't even see everything. You could easily roam the grounds for an entire day. Graham and I quickly discovered we were one of the few couples there without children. We decided to stick with the general admission vs. the tickets that included six additional attractions. We contemplated getting membership because we have a feeling we'll be back soon and with more family members.

I liked that many of the animal enclosures were larger than I've seen at other zoos.  Of course, nothing is as good as what they'd have in the wild, but at least these animals seemed to be able to explore a larger area. The Tropic World habitat was especially impressive.

We witnessed two memorable animals moments: the black rhino sprayed the wall (and he could have sprayed us), which would have been a story to tell, and the pygmy hippo decided to come out of the water and take a No. 2 that cleared the surrounding area immediately. It was fascinating.

We walked around until I couldn't take it anymore. I wore the wrong shoes -- flats -- which was the worst decision I could have made. In my defense, I was not in the best head space when I got ready. We enjoyed the zoo regardless and plan to go back soon.

Have you been to Brookfield Zoo? What did you think?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thursday Tidbits

I got the idea for a Tidbits post from Allison of Because I Said So. She shared little bits of information and updates that wouldn't make up a full blog post on their own. I love the idea, because I tend to have several drafts waiting to be published that never really pan out. 

Thus, here are my Thursday Tidbits:
  • I recently bought a Samsung Galaxy S7 when I was eligible for a Verizon upgrade. 1.) I am disappointed Verizon doesn't have contract pricing on phones anymore. Instead you just pay a certain amount per month on your phone. It seems like Verizon gets more and more expensive, am I right? 2.) The Galaxy S7 is touted as being water resistant and durable (or so I thought), but within the first week of having it, my phone fell out of my pocket and the BACK shattered. Not the screen, the back of the phone. I have never heard of that happening with any phone. I was livid. After cooling off for a week, I bought a gold case that hides the shattered part. The only advice I got from Verizon had been to submit an insurance claim, which typically costs $100. I am shocked at how this phone could be manufactured to be so vulnerable on the back of phone, which is typically more durable. By the way, I love my case, which I got from HD Accessory (not affiliate link). It was shipped quickly and matches the gold on the phone. It cost me about $8 including shipping.
  • Graham and I finally made our annual trip to a home-improvement store for gardening supplies and plants. I am getting a late start on our garden because we waited until we moved into our new apartment, but I'm so excited! This year we are sticking with the vegetables I had success with last year: jalapeƱos, Anaheim peppers, red and green bell peppers, eggplants, cilantro, sweet basil, chocolate mint (Graham's choice) and oregano. We also bought a lot of petunias (which I am always drawn toward) and many other plants.
  • I recently tried George's Ice Cream & Sweets in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago and it.was.amazing. I ordered the smallest sundae they have with Caramel Chaos ice cream and I struggled to finish it. But it was delicious. The line was out the door on a Friday night, and I can see why. George's has tons of flavors to choose from and the portions are generous. Want to see where else I'm eating? Follow me on Instagram!
  • I just started marathon training and I absolutely love these shorts from C9 at Target. They kept me cool and comfortable while running in the heat and humidity. 
  • Last but not least, I tried Starbucks' Granitas, which are available starting at 3 p.m. every day.  I ordered the Strawberry Lemon Limeade Granita on a hot afternoon before marathon training. It was a perfectly refreshing summer drink. I will be trying the Youthberry White Tea Granita next. Have you tried them? What did you think?

Share a tidbit about your life in the comments!

* This post contains an affiliate link.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

More Thoughts I Had During an Orangetheory Class

After my first class at Orangetheory, I wrote about the thoughts that popped into my head during the session. After being a member for eight months now, I decided to write about what I thought during the most recent class I attended.

I still find Orangetheory Fitness to be incredibly challenging. Some days I feel some soreness the next day, but for the most part I can attend more than one class in a row. This is how my most recent class went:

  • *As coach scrolls through the playlist* Don't you dare turn off that Beyonce!
  • I'm gonna puke. No I'm not. I'm gonna puke. No I'm not. Get it together!
  • *Coach yelling "Empty the tank!"* OK, OK. I'll turn it up a few notches on the treadmill.
  • Coach is coming, I better turn up that rowing.
  • This is the longest row in the history of rowing.
  • Time's almost up, just a couple more reps!
  • OK, I gotta stop checking the monitor every 10 seconds. *10 seconds later* How am I doing?
  • OH YEAH, coach complimented my form!
  • *Looking in the mirror* Holy biceps! 
  • More Beyonce, please!
  • *Imagines she is on the U.S. Olympic track and field team.*
  • *Imagines she is on the U.S. Olympic rowing team.*
  • How are there 20 minutes left in class?!
  • I'm going to feel this tomorrow.
  • Can't wait to do this again!
Read the first installment here. Have you tried Oranegtheory? What did you think?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Chicago Marathon Pre-Training Week

I decided to officially start marathon training last week when I got an email from my half-marathon training coaches that they are also doing a training for the Chicago Marathon. They only charged $26! That's practically giving it away. I signed up immediately. 

But things didn't quite go as planned:

Monday: 1.34 miles at Orangetheory. It was a good workout on a terrible day. My mind was so all over the place that I don't remember much of the floor workout, besides:
Tuesday: Rest day. I could have benefited from a run on another bad day, but I didn't.

Wednesday: 2.2 miles at Orangetheory. My push pace was 9:40. I am still a bit slower because of tightness in my calf. We did a couple of inclines. Our last all-out was at a 5 percent incline, for instance.

Floor workout:
  • Bench hopovers (not sure this was the actual  name; 3 sets of 30 total reps)
  • Horizontal bicep curls on the TRX strap (3 sets of 8 reps, I think)
  • Side plank hip dips (3 sets of 8 reps on each side)
  • 3-minute row (714 meters)
  • 2-minute row (494 meters)
  • Reverse lunges to high knee jumps on TRX straps (3 sets, reps: 8/10/12 on each side, I think)
  • Chest press on bench with 15 pound weights (3 sets, 15 reps)
Thursday: Rest day.

Friday: 0.5 mile run at lunch before I realized it was too hot. I did squats, crunches and hip raises at home instead.

Saturday: It was the first day of marathon training ... and I missed it. I assumed the training was at 8 a.m. and I was wrong. I missed it completely and was disappointed in myself. Later that day I did a .75 mile run and 40 pulse squats, 100 bicycle crunches, 100 crunches, 30 lunges. It was 97 degrees and humid, so that was all I forced myself to do. 

Sunday: I awoke to horrific news about the mass shooting in Orlando. I had planned to run, but I just was in shock and disbelief, like the rest of the country. Graham and I debated whether we should go through with our plans to go to Brookfield Zoo. We ultimately decided to make the most of our rare day off together. Orlando was on our minds though.


I didn't even get to 5 miles, so I am not even considering this a training week. I am grateful to still have 17 weeks until the marathon, so I can start seriously running this week and build up my mileage again. Despite being thrown off in the first week, I am at least giving myself a longer break to heal from my previous tightness and soreness. Also, judging from Chicago weather lately, this summer is going to be a challenge. I have to get used to running in warmer, more humid weather or running earlier in the morning.  Somehow I was left with only a couple pairs of running shorts after my recent decluttering, so I bought a cute summer running outfit (for 30 percent off!) at Target that I'm sure will help with my motivation and comfort during the season. Wish me luck!

What are your summer fitness goals?

Shop the above photo (and similar items):

*This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Speak Your Truth,
Even if Your Voice Shakes

I've written about "speaking your truth" before, but this week it's been more important than ever. If there's one thing I will not stand for, it's disrespect. When someone speaks to me in a condescending, derogatory or just plain rude tone, I have to say something about it. But it's not easy to stand up for yourself.

You can say whatever you want to anyone, but you have to learn to do it the right way. When I encounter people who use "That's just my personality; I'm direct" as an excuse for rudeness, I am appalled. 

But does it even have anything to do with me? I am guilty of being overly sensitive, and I recognize that. I constantly have to remind myself that the way someone behaves toward me often has nothing to do with me. However, it's important for me to let people know I do not appreciate being spoken to in such a harsh way.

In yoga, truthfulness is satya, one of the yamas. While I try to focus on being as honest as possible about how I feel, I recognize that I need to do so with the intention of being understanding as well. 

I remember a workshop we had during teacher training in which we were instructed to ask ourselves, "How would I live if I weren't concerned with the opinions of others?" It is a constant battle for me to not worry about what people think.  I sometimes avoid confrontation because I stress about how my actions will be perceived. But I would rather be seen as sensitive than walk away from interactions with such a negative feeling about not only the conversation, but my whole environment.

I have to be honest about how things affect me. I have to also be honest about what I want. It is teaching me that I need to make changes in my life instead of solely complaining to Graham about them. How can I expect change when I never speak out about something that bothers me? I often think of the quote by Maggie Kuhn (I think) that reads something like, "Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes." That's exactly what I plan to do.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Brunch at Cafe Ba-Ba Reeba, Chicago

Choosing where to brunch is an extremely difficult decision. Chicago has countless options, and there's pressure (I put on myself) not to pick the wrong spot. Luckily my friends and I made the right choice this weekend by going to Cafe Ba-Ba Reeba in Lincoln Park.

The tapas (small plates) are meant to be shared, so order a bunch of everything and try it all!

What we ordered:

  • Waffles with marcona almond nutella: Amazing.
  • Two orders of spicy potatoes with aioli sauce: I could not get enough. I pretty much ate one order by myself.
  • Brussels sprout salad: Looked like cole slaw to me, but was great.
  • Eggs Benedict: I may not be an eggs benedict person, so I don't know.
  • Calamari: Good, but seemed like aioli would be a better sauce for it. In fact, that's what I used.
  • Goat cheese baked in tomato sauce with toasted bread: Yum.
  • Deviled egg: Also yum, but tiny.

  • Chicken and ham croquetas: Didn't try them. Comes with ham that I didn't eat. 
  • Beef empanadas: Didn't try them.
I didn't try all of the items, but my friends seemed to like everything. We also loved the blackberry-raspberry sangria (We ordered two pitchers.). I was so full that it felt like I had a bowling ball in my stomach afterward, but I was happy. I should also mention that the waiter was nice enough to bring us dessert without us asking. It was a caramelized banana, butterscotch custard and a marcona almond caramel bar. 

Would I go back to Cafe Ba-Ba Reeba? Absolutely. You'll probably see me there again this summer.