Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving in Louisville, Kentucky

My weekend in Kentucky in (mostly) photos:
I finished one of the last items on my fall bucket list when I baked an apple pie for Thanksgiving. I used a recipe for Grandma Ople's apple pie that I found on It's published with a video, which is a tremendous help. The pie received rave reviews at Thanksgiving dinner. I highly recommend it!
Grandma Ople's appie pie from

I admired the landscape as we drove around from family member house to family member house. We spotted deer on our drives, too!

Kentucky sunset


After our Thanksgiving feast at my brother-in-law's house, I fit in a class at the OrangeTheory location in Middletown, Kentucky. At least five students were from out of town that day, and the instructor asked us all to introduce ourselves to make us feel more welcome. I thought that was a nice touch. The hill workout was perfect for burning off some of that Thanksgiving overindulgence!
orangetheory middletown kentucky
One of our stops was another brother-in-law's house, where we checked out our nephew's tree house and the family's chicken coup. I would love to someday have a setup like theirs, though it'd be challenging to keep our dogs away from the chickens.
Graham also had the chance to ride the go-kart he and his brothers had as kids. I loved seeing how much fun he was having.
We broke in our new Jeep Renegade as we drove around the Louisville area all weekend to see our friends and family. 
Jeep Renegade

We were so thankful to our family and friends for feeding us such delicious meals during our trip and hosting us and our dogs.

I almost wanted to move in! The rainy weather made me want to curl up on the couch and watch movies.

It was a blast spending time with everyone while eating, drinking and hanging out, but it was such a relief to drive back into Chicago. The holiday lights greeted us when we returned to the city.

Chicago holiday lights

And now it's on to the next adventure! Stay tuned for a video of our trip!
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Friday, November 27, 2015

Gifts for Runners

** This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Floradise blog.

It's the time of year for gift guides galore. I'm throwing my hat into the ring by offering my suggestions for gifts for runners. Best of all, these gifts can be purchased online to avoid the Black Friday mess. Here's what I think would make thoughtful presents for your fitness-loving friends and family:
  • Medal Holder Rack. I found thousands of options on Etsy and many of them can be customized. Similar options abound when you search. I find it helpful to read some reviews from the vendor before selecting your gift.
  • Halo Headlamp from Nathan. If the runner in your life prefers evening runs or pre-sunrise morning jaunts, a quality headlamp will allow him or her to see better and stay safer. This one is a little pricey but may be worth it for the enhanced visibility. Your runner will be prepared for the popular Ragnar Relays and other races around the country that require headlamps to be worn at night.
  • Travel Stick roller. I own this and love it. It's portable and comes in handy after races and training runs.
  • Runner's World subscription. Whether your loved one is a new runner or a more experienced one, he or she will appreciate the wealth of knowledge in Runner's World. The magazine teems with running advice, recipes, gear recommendations, and articles about runners. 

More Gift Ideas**:

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**Affiliate links included above. I am compensated for clicks and purchases through these links. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What I'm Grateful For

I keep a journal in which I often write about gratitude. On bad days, when you think life sucks, it helps, even just a little bit, to write down something that is going right or something that brings you happiness. Thanksgiving week is the perfect time to share some of the things that make me happy. 
What's on my list?

  • Graham.
  • A family that helps each other out, even if we don't always get along. My cute nieces and nephews.
  • The ability to work from home.
  • Time for myself via yoga, running, fitness classes and writing. The opportunity to work on myself.
  • Friends who make an effort to maintain the friendship despite the long distance. (Especially Charlsy, in the lower left circle above.)
  • The ability to travel.
  • My dogs. They can  be a pain sometimes, but they are also adorable. I love how happy they are when they can play at the beach or when we take them camping.
  • A creative outlet via this blog and writing.
  • Music. Especially my current favorite, Johnnyswim.
  • Being able to enjoy quality, delicious food regularly.
What are you thankful for? What brings joy into your life?
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Runner's World Run Streak

One of my November goals was to keep running, yet I've neglected my training. I felt like a failure. What should I do now? How will I ever get back on track? As I wondered how I could motivate myself during the holidays, this month's issue of Runner's World fell into my lap — or arrived in the mail. In it, the magazine announces this year's Runner's World Run Streak, which takes place from Thanksgiving Day until New Year's Eve. Sometimes the universe gives you exactly what you need at just the right moment. I'm in! The goal is to run every day, but I am adjusting the Run Streak for myself by running 37 miles in that time period versus at least a mile per day. This allows me to be more flexible during the busiest time of year. You can customize the Run Streak by varying the length of the runs, too. Graham has agreed to run with me, so I'll have someone to keep me accountable. Hooray! I'm going to need the help after the disappointment of not keeping up with my plan to practice yoga every day of November

Interested in signing up? Visit the Runner's World website to download a PDF of the training plan. Once I complete the Run Streak, I'll once again have a foundation so I can train for another half-marathon. I'm complementing this plan with training at OrangeTheory and yoga. I really, really want to accomplish this goal. Won't you be my virtual workout buddy? You can connect with other people who are doing it by using the hashtag #RWRunStreak on social media. See you there!

My Twitter handle: @maretteflora

Credit: Runner's World

P.S. I'm joining the Training for Tuesdays linkup hosted by Alyssa and Tracy. What's your plan to stay in shape over the holidays? I love to read about how others are staying inspired and bettering themselves.

Related Posts: 

Shop My Favorite Running Gear

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Monday, November 23, 2015

What I Learned When I Skipped Yoga for a Week

I fell off the wagon last week during my trip to Phoenix when it came to my goal of practicing yoga every day. It seemed as though most of my time went to work and then driving around to see friends and family as much as possible. I didn't get much yoga or meditation in, though I consider it a small win that I made it to a 6:15 a.m. OrangeTheory class. I missed the benefits of yoga in my life during this off-week. 

My yoga practice took a backseat, but I realized its importance as a method of calming. I consider it a missed opportunity that I didn't do any yoga poses or meditation during work (in a conference room or break room) to alleviate the effects of sitting for too long. At one point I was upset about a family matter and curled up into a ball instead of working out the emotions with a physical practice. I would love to re-train my mind to choose yoga over stewing in my emotions. I also missed writing in my journal and taking time for self-reflection. 


  • Don't be so hard on yourself when you fail at a goal, but focus on what you can do about it now.
  • Schedule time for yoga, or whatever your intention is. Make it a priority. I decided to save reminders in my phone to practice yoga, because scheduling time for it will cut down on my excuses. If I can't find an hour block of time to practice, I can at least get a few minutes in here and there throughout the day. 
  • Find a yoga/workout buddy to keep you accountable.
  • Bring along your yoga mat when you go out of town. Seeing it will remind you to use it.
  • Tell your friends, family, or the even the Internet about your goal. People will ask you about it and that will keep you motivated and accountable.
Wish me luck as I try to finish out the month with daily yoga. What are your fitness goals?

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Eating, Seeing, Doing in Phoenix

Tomorrow I head back to Chicago to a winter storm. Before I return to reality, I'd like to share some of my favorite things in Phoenix this week:

  • The avocado and kale dip at True Food Kitchen at Biltmore Fashion Park. It's delicious and comes with flax crackers instead of tortilla chips. I also had fish street tacos with beans paired with a honey lemonade. True Food is opening a location in Chicago soon, and I can't wait. 
    Credit: Fox Restaurant Concepts
  • The view from my office building in central Phoenix. I'm on a work trip, so I haven't had the chance to hike at all, but I was tempted to leave it all behind and head to the mountain on many occasions. 
  • Spending time with family, especially my nieces and nephews! I had a dance party in my car with my oldest nephew, watched my younger nephew perform in a variety show, tried to get my oldest niece to warm up to me, and sang to my youngest niece to make her smile. 
  • Tomorrow's brunch with friends will combine my love of the best meal of the week with the coolest people I know.
  • Trying out the Orangetheory location in central Phoenix. The class was just as great, although I wasn't a fan of the older treadmills. I'm actually impressed that I managed to make it to a 6:15 a.m. class.
  • Tuesday night's dinner with my yoga friends. One of them made the prettiest  and tastiest  salad, which we ate with Spinato's Signature pizza, my favorite option on the menu, and pumpkin pie. 
    Spinato's pizza
    Spinato's pizza and salad

    Pumpkin pie and the loveliest salad
Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Yoga Friendships + Yoga Teacher Training Recap

Two years ago, around this time in November, I finished yoga teacher training, one of my biggest accomplishments. The program changed me and brought some amazing people into my life. Tuesday night I had the chance to spend quality time with three of my fellow teacher trainees. The conversation hit on yoga teaching, nutrition and the food system, relationships, parenting, our yoga teachers, our future plans -- everything. I realized that despite not seeing each other as often as we'd like, we will be forever connected and supportive of one another. We shared parts of ourselves with each other that we maybe didn't share with anyone else. We were all seeking something when we signed up for teacher training, and it's been satisfying to see all the changes we've made since graduation. One of us is fulfilling her goal to become a foster parent, another left an unhealthy marriage and has found happiness, another is finishing up medical school and working on herself, and I've moved to Illinois for a new adventure and to fulfill my desire to experience new things. I can't say things are perfect for any of us but that's not the point. We're on our way to becoming who we want to be thanks to the self-awareness and insight we learned during teacher training.

If you'd like to see what yoga teacher training was like, read the weekly recaps I wrote in 2013:

Thinking about yoga teacher training? It will, no doubt, change your life and give you more than you ever expected. I am convinced of that.
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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Playlist for When You Want to Get Lost

As I stepped into the line to board the plane to Phoenix on Sunday, I felt anxious, as I often do. My phone decided to stop displaying my boarding pass, so I held up the line while the agent printed one for me. I stepped a few feet away to where the line was stopped again. Behind me was a woman and her husband, and the woman was airing her grievances. Two crying babies were boarding the plane, and she repeatedly stated she would not sit "within 20 feet of those people." She then went on to comment on the size of fellow travelers' carry-on bags, noting she thought they were much too big. How do they get away with it? Her list of complaints grew until I walked out of earshot. I'm sure it continued for the duration of the flight. I was relieved for a moment to get on the plane, until it came time to store my bag. I am only 5 feet tall, so getting my bad in the overhead bin is always a challenge. The man in the seat below the compartment sighed and asked, "Do you need some help?" I politely refused his offer, slid my bag in the compartment upside-down and squeezed into my window seat. The man in the middle seat looked uncomfortable as soon as he sat down. He asked if he could put the arm rest down, and I said "Of course, yeah." He thanked me and then noted how I am "very fit." I gave him an awkward smile and opened the window shade. 

Traveling alone is always nerve-racking and uncomfortable for me. My anxiety about a.) getting to the airport on time b.) getting through airport security c.) finding my gate d.) getting my stuff into the overhead compartment e.) being able to get up to use the restroom and f.) being so close to people is overwhelming. I felt so relieved to finally be up in the air, and semi-relaxed. I lost myself in my thoughts. I even wrote a few words. When my brain needed a rest, I lost myself in music. Today I'm sharing some of my recent favorite tunes. I hope these help you release some of that tension that builds up in stressful or uncomfortable situations. Some of these reference "home" because that's where I was headed.

Have any tunes to recommend? Please share them in the comments!

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Monday, November 16, 2015

November Yoga Challenge: Week 2

Yoga, Arizona
Yoga on one of our Arizona camping trips
I just completed the second week of my November yoga challenge. My goal was to spend time doing yoga every day this month, but as you can read below, I didn't do so well this week. I did, however, take a major step in pursuing another fitness goal. This yoga challenge is a personal intention I came up with to recommit to my home practice and get in better physical shape. I could think of no better time for this goal. The holidays will bring overindulgence and a busy schedule, but I'm confident I will be successful if I stay motivated.

Here's how Week 2 went down:

Day 1: 6 minutes of meditation to start the day. I joined Orange Theory and went to a one-hour class. I was nervous. Afterward, I did 5 minutes of yoga at home to stretch out.
Day 2: 5 minutes of meditation. 20 minutes of yoga, mostly seated poses.
Day 3: 6 minutes of meditation, 20 minutes of yoga and a class at OrangeTheory. Some of the poses I did: downward-facing dog into a low lunge, half splits and pigeon (all on both sides, of course); malasana (yogi squat); supta baddha konasana (reclined bound angle pose); and Warriors 1 and 2.
Day 4: 8 minutes of meditation. 15 minutes of yoga.
Day 5: I started the day off on the wrong foot and never recovered despite meditating for 15 minutes. I didn't practice yoga.
Day 6: I went to an OrangeTheory class and then did 15 minutes of light yoga later that day.
Day 7: No meditation. I flew to Phoenix that evening, but I squeezed in 10 minutes of yoga before bed.

Yoga Minutes: 85
Meditation Minutes: 40
Orange Theory Classes: 3
Miles Run: 5.3 miles (including OT classes)


I've been in a crummy place emotionally. I've only found the motivation to do about 20 minutes max of yoga at home per day. I consider myself a self-aware person, but it's been difficult to pinpoint why I've been so down. I'm hoping this week's visit to Phoenix, even if it's a work trip, will give me the mental boost I need. 

Have you tried a fitness challenge recently? I'd love to hear about it! In unrelated news, I'm hoping for a Spiritual Gangster Black Friday sale so I can treat myself to one of these tanks I have my eyes on. They aren't practical for Chicago winter but they're perfect for Phoenix weather and yoga classes! That burgundy is calling my name and looking into my soul.
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Friday, November 13, 2015

"I Need Me Some Home"

I'm proud to have grown up in Phoenix.  The city has changed so much in my lifetime and has the potential to get even better. I was lucky enough to work downtown over the years when nightlife and restaurants started to become more plentiful after being limited to just chains. I loved going out downtown and midtown, which is still undergoing a transformation. I don't think Phoenix gets enough credit. Maybe its culinary scene doesn't match what cities like Chicago have to offer, but there's a lot to do and see in the Phoenix area. Speaking of the Valley of the Sun, I'm heading home! I will be in Phoenix in a couple of days for work, but I will be sure to squeeze in some local eats and fun as well. The trip could not come at a better time: I've been down in the dumps for a couple of weeks now, and in the words on Johnnyswim, " I need me some home."

What I'm looking forward to doing:

Phoenix, Camelback Mountain
Sweet home Phoenix.
Will you follow along on Snapchat (floradise) and Instagram?  

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thoughts I Had During An Orangetheory Fitness Class

I finally took the plunge and signed up for a membership at Orangetheory Fitness. I had been putting it off for a month after trying a free class. I knew I could benefit from the classes, but I have lacked motivation for months now. This lackadaisical attitude has resulted in me gaining 15 pounds this year, and I'm finally ready to do something about it. It's not so much the number on the scale that bothers me, but instead I dislike the slower running pace, lousy moods and overall lack of fitness. After just two classes, I can tell a difference. 

Floradise, Orangetheory Fitness, Thoughts
Photo courtesy of Orangetheory Fitness
I still fight an internal battle. These are the thoughts I had during one of my first couple of classes at Orangetheory Fitness:

  • I don't want to go. Why am I going. Is it too late to cancel class?
  • OK, OK. I'll go. 
  • Welp, I'm here. 
  • I immediately regret this decision.
  • *Instructor asks half of class to get on treadmills, half on rowers.* I'm getting on that treadmill, girl. Don't even think about it.
  • What's my base pace? I have no idea.
  • I think I am doing this class out of order. Oh well, keep going.
  • Oh no, the instructor's coming over here. But, yay, he says I have good form!
  • These frog jumps are the worst.
  • I've never been this happy to be back on the treadmill.
  • I'm always in the damn red zone.
  • Wooo! Time for the floor exercises. Oh, wait ...
  • I hope no one behind me is staring at my bum during these squats.
  • Am I doing these snatches correctly? *Asks instructor*
  • Snatch is a funny word for an exercise.
  • I would love to have the voice and confidence of a fitness instructor.
  • I am already looking better! Look at those arms!
  • I need to start wearing gloves.
  • My arms are going to hurt tomorrow.
  • My legs are going to hurt tomorrow.
  • Everything will hurt tomorrow.
  • I'm so glad I made it to class.
Do you have any of these thoughts during a fitness class or workout? Please tell me I'm not alone! Let me know in the comments. I find that the thoughts start out negative and transform thanks to those endorphins. Let's hope these good feelings are enough to get me into the gym regularly!

In case you're wondering, I pay $139 a month for eight sessions at Orangetheory Fitness and additional sessions are $17 each. Different gyms may charge different rates depending on the level of studio it is. (I attend a premier location, which means I pay more.) New gyms have promotions that can make your membership more affordable. 

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November Yoga Challenge: Week 1

If something is a priority, you'll make time for it. It's as simple as that. If you think you can't fit yoga into a busy schedule, notice how much time you spend on social media or watching TV.  I bet you could find even just 15 minutes to devote to some yoga. Here's how my first week of my November Yoga Challenge went:

Day 1: 1.3-mile run and 25 minutes of free flow yoga. I worked on splits, pigeon, plank to chaturanga, handstand, forearm balance (pincha mayurasana) and yogi squat (malasana), among other poses.
Day 2: 30 minutes. I free flowed again. I worked on splits, pigeon, handstand, chaturanga, warriors 1 and 2, malasana, crunches and more. I also ran a mile.
Day 3: 3 minutes of meditation upon waking up and I took Yoga International's 43-minute Twist and Flow class. Yoga International lets you take seven classes per month for free. Subscribers can get unlimited access to classes. At one point in this particular class the instructor cues what she says is called Gecko pose on the East Coast. You learn something new every day, and yoga is not exception. I am always learning about poses I have not tried yet or variations I didn't even know about. Yoga teacher training is just a drop in a bucket of what yoga to offer.  I like the way she instructs fierce/chair pose (utkatasana) at about the 16 minute mark of the class. I also like that she reminds the class to keep their shoulders above the elbows in chaturanga. I need to hear this cue often. Another pose she cues is what she calls Bridget's Cross. I've seen only a couple of teachers do this in class, and they have never used this name. (We come down into the pose from a side plank variation.) She didn't instruct Pigeon pose, but I did it anyway.
Day 4: 6 minutes of meditation to start the day. 34 minutes of free flow yoga.
Day 5: 5 minutes of meditation. 35 minutes of free flow yoga plus a 0.9-mile run. I felt so meh all day long. I blame the fact that I didn't go outside until 4:30 when the sun was setting. 
Day 6: 20 minutes of yoga after a day at the Adler Planetarium. I didn't do any warriors but instead did low and high lunges; crunches; child's pose; and malasana.
Day 7: 20 minutes of yoga that included high lunges, low lunges (anjaneyasana), seated wide legged fold, child's pose, downward-facing dog, chaturanga, upward-facing dog, crunches, pigeon and half splits.


Yoga Minutes: 207.
Meditation Minutes: 14. 
Miles: 3.2.


I should have meditated more in addition to the moving meditation of yoga. I was surprised to have been in such a melancholy state this past week (during the workweek) despite focusing more on yoga. By the weekend though, I was in a much better place mentally, and I had much more energy than usual, though not enough to get myself on the trail for a run. I keep telling myself this next week will be different and that's it's difficult to focus on more than one fitness goal at a time in addition to every else I have going on. I can only take baby steps. I hope to do more running in the second week. Maybe Graham will join me (hint, hint).
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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Taylor and Capone's Beach Day

The beach has gone to the dogs. Ask Taylor and Capone, they'll tell you all about it. We took them to Montrose Dog Beach, their favorite place in Chicago, over the weekend, and they had a blast. In fact, they had so much fun that they napped for the rest of the day. Taylor's not as young as she thought she was during their beach day, and now she whines when she gets up because her body aches. That's how I feel the day after I go out. I feel your pain, Taylor.

Check out my GoPro video from their little outing.

Again, we used the GoPro dog harness to capture the fun. As you can see, Taylor guards her ball. Capone doesn't stand a chance at retrieving it, but he has fun running around.

Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, dogs, taylor and capone

Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, dogs, taylor

When she's ready for you to throw the ball, she has no patience. Throw it already!

Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, dogs, taylor

Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, dogs, taylor and capone

Taylor was in her happy place.

Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, dogs, taylor

I love to see them so happy. I wish every day were a beach day!

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Interested in the GoPro dog harness? Shop here.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Adler Planetarium

The end of 70-degree weather in Chicago didn't slow us down over the weekend. We drove downtown to explore the Adler Planetarium, which participates in Bank of America's free admission weekend the first weekend of every month. The free entrance applies only to general admission, normally $12 per person. To see any of the shows, you have to pay more; the price varies by how much you want to see. We ended up paying about $35 for both of us to see two shows, Welcome to the Universe and SkyWatch Live. (The original price was around $59 total.) We were also able to go into the Atwood Sphere, Chicago's first planetarium, at more than a hundred years old. Your ticket has to list the Atwood Sphere in order to go into it. It's a ride in which you are lifted into the sphere for about 10 minutes to see the positions of stars over the city.

Again, SpotHero has saved us from paying more than $22 in parking fees near the planetarium. We instead paid only $6 to park and walked about a mile to the planetarium. Afterward, we Ubered back to the parking lot. Watch a video of some of the fun below!

Watch the Youtube version here and follow my channel, please!

The video doesn't show everything we saw. Photography isn't allowed during the shows because of copyright laws and because the rooms are dark. Besides the shows, you can stroll through the various exhibits included in the general admission.

There's stuff to see outside the planetarium, too. We noticed a few weddings and quinceaƱeras taking photos with the Chicago skyline in the background.

With a view like this it's easy to see why the parties were braving the chilly weather for the photos. Inside, if you can snag a spot next to the windows in the Galileo Cafe, do it! The cafe was a bit slow to make the food, so plan accordingly. We had to eat our pizzas quickly in order to make it to our first show in time.

If you want to feel small and insignificant, I recommend the Welcome to the Universe show. You'll be left pondering the vastness of the universe. Add the planetarium to your Chicago list!
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