Chicago Running Bloggers Holidaze


Saturday I spent my morning with about twenty of my new Chicago Running Blogger friends! Early in the morning, a few of my new North Shore BFFs (Kim, Bobbi, Marcia and Riyanti) met up at my place and I got to play bus driver as we chatted our way down to the city. Honestly, I don’t think there was a quiet second in the car and I loved every minute of it!

Once we got to the city, we met up at Erin‘s beautiful loft and then headed out for a rainy three mile run. The first mile I ran with Kim and Anne and got to catch up with them, so the first mile was a breeze. The last two miles I bonded with Cary over our love of breweries so the miles flew by in a flash. Then, we came back to Erin’s place for some fun!

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I was easily persuaded by this crazy ginger to be beer buddies.

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And, of course I had to try all of the amazing food that everyone brought. These bloggers really know how to cook and bake!

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After the food, we all voted on best costume and Kelly won with her Santa snuggie over ugly Christmas sweater combo. She also won most Christmas clothing worn by one person that day. 🙂

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Maggie and Kim did a great job of announcing the costume winners and then helped lead us through our White Elephant gift exchange.

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I was the lucky (stealer) winner of a set of cat weights!

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Just kidding, I happily stole Kelly‘s gift which consisted of several Picky Bars and other running goodies. I’ve been wanting to try Picky Bars ever since she told me about them months ago when we met for lunch during the Nato summit. I’m so excited to give them a try!

I’m so glad that I got to see lots of blogger that I have met before and meet some new friends! My husband’s probably really annoyed with how many times I have said how much fun I had, but I really can’t get over it. Bloggers are so fun to hang out with and they know exactly what I need in my perfect day. A workout, some good food, some good booze and some good fun!

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Monday Motivation


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Personally, I believe that Friday’s tragedy was yet another reminder of how short life is. I’ve been making a conscious effort to enjoy every moment of this holiday season and not get too bogged down with the busyness of the season and the stress that comes with it. So far, I think I’m doing a great job. I’ve managed to splurge without overeating, fit in workouts, socializing, volunteer work and be productive at work. I’ve definitely struck a balance and I hope to keep it as long as possible. Here’s to another great week!

Meal Plan 12/16-12/22


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This week’s going to be another busy week filled with holiday parties and a trip to Michigan! Having a simple meal plan will definitely keep my life intact.

Breakfast
Snickerdoodle Oatmeal (oatmeal made with almond milk, sliced almonds, cinnamon, honey and white chocolate chips)
Hard Boiled Eggs

Lunch
Fruit, Nut and Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette (I liked it so much on Friday night that I am making it for lunch this week!)
Leftovers

Snacks
Fruit (apples, oranges and bananas) and mini popcorn bags (one of these days I will get sick of these snacks)

Dinner
Sunday: Leftover penne from Friday night
Monday: Man Pleasing Chicken and roasted acorn squash
Tuesday: Crispy Tofu with snow peas and brown rice
Wednesday: Trader Joe’s turkey meatballs with whole wheat spaghetti and red sauce
Thursday: Pork tenderloin and some type of veggie
Friday and Saturday: Off to Michigan to celebrate Christmas with my Dad!

Newlywed Night


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Last night, we had our good friends Denise and Jeremy over for dinner. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ve seen Denise a lot on here since she’s one of my best friends. And we in each other’s weddings this past summer. Since our weddings, we’ve been trying to plan a time to have dinner at each other’s places and tonight we finally had dinner at ours!

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For appetizers, I made a cheese plate and an olive platter. Aka, a great excuse to finally use our new cheese plate and cheese markers that we got as wedding gifts and haven’t used yet!

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As a start for dinner, I made an amazing fruit, nut and goat cheese salad with pomegranate vinaigrette. This was a new recipe but it was just as good as expected. I will definitely be making this again.

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Our entree was How Sweet It Is‘s Roasted Butternut Squash Penne Bake. It was just as awesome as the first time I made this recipe and Denise and Jeremy loved it.

For dessert, Denise brought a Death by Chocolate cake. Apparently I was too excited to take a picture because it totally slipped my mind. It was the perfect way to end a night with great friends!

Things Worth Mentioning


This week really flew by for me! It was a crazy busy one with work and life, so I’m just glad to have made it to Friday. Here are few uninteresting things that happened this week.

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Tuesday I got a manicure and took a blurry picture of it. I rediscovered my favorite OPI color, “Bastille my Heart” and I’m so happy I did. Seriously, having my nails done makes a major difference in my mood.

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On Cyber Monday I ordered these heels on Piperlime for 30% and they are the most comfortable heels I’ve ever worn and also the only heels I’ve ever worn I can actually walk in. Last Saturday I wore them for 6 hours at my husband’s company holiday party and even after dancing for three hours I felt like I hadn’t worn heels. This week I wore them twice on busy days at work and they still didn’t bother me. I’m buying them in every color.

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I’ve eaten way too many sweets this week but I’ve enjoyed every one. I’m not depriving myself so I don’t think I’ve felt the need to go completely off the ledge, but I definitely haven’t held back. Tis the season!

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This week I have also eaten out way too many times. Wednesday I had a business lunch and for dinner we ordered take out. Yesterday, I got to see two of my friends from college one of them being my long time BFF Ashley who was in town visiting from Michigan. I also had a business event last night with cocktails and appetizers. I’m making it a point to enjoy this season while I can but not go too overboard. So far so good!

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Despite a busy week, I fit in three workouts! In the past, this would have never happened. But as I mentioned on Wednesday, I’m focusing on how working out makes me feel and this makes all the difference in the world for me. I woke up on Monday and Wednesday morning to spend some time walk/running on the treadmill and on the bike. Today, I went with a co-worker to the Yoga Loft at lunch for a flow class. Tomorrow, I’ll fit in a 3 mile run with the Chicago Running Bloggers before our Holiday Brunch. I’m really proud of my workouts this week despite it being so busy!

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Lastly, today’s tragedy is something worth mentioning. What a sad, sad day. I truly believe that with evil comes good, so I hope this serves as reminder to everyone how short life is and how much you should appreciate your loved ones on a daily basis. I for one can’t wait to go home and give my hubby a huge hug!

I definitely think the sad event today gives me a little leeway to be sappy, so I thought I would share the little note (and cookies!) I got in my lunch today. I’m a lucky lady. 🙂

Enjoy your Friday evening! Anything worth mentioning happen to you this week? Did you have a crazy busy work week like me? Who will you hug tonight?

Intuitive Eating the Holiday Season


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Finally this morning, I finished Intuitive Eating. While it was a lengthy read and a very fact-driven book, I loved every moment of it. As someone who has struggled with “food noise” for the majority of my life, this book was a big game changer. I think it was perfect timing reading this going into the holiday season too, because now I can apply these principles during one of the most challenging times of the year. In the past, the holiday season has been a huge struggle for me as I tried my best to “be good” which always ended up backfiring. This year, I’m taking away several key lessons from Intuitive Eating and applying them to how I’m eating this holiday season.

Lesson One: Diets Don’t Work
Although this is something deep down that I already knew, I had been on some sort of “diet” so many times that it just seemed like part of my life. Intuitive Eating taught me that depriving myself will only lead to me feeling unsatisfied. Although it was a scary though at first for me to give up dieting, allowing myself to have whatever I want has quickly changed how I eat. I have not felt deprived in the past few months since I decided to try this concept out and I also haven’t felt the need to go overboard with food in any situation.

Lesson Two: Focus on how Exercise Makes you Feel
This lesson was something that I had already thought about, but reading about the concept of treating exercise as “play time” really hit home for me. I’ve shifted my focus from treating working out as something I “have to do” to something that is a social activity. Last month, my husband and I joined a Master’s Swim League and now I look forward to spending time with him and having others to hold me accountable. I’ve also made it a point to make working out my social activity by making yoga dates and having a buddy to hold me accountable when I decide to do a morning workout. This was exactly what I needed, because it has helped me find my workout groove again.

Lesson Three: Quit Being Your Own Worst Enemy
This was something that needed to happen. Once I gave up dieting, I also had to give up the guilt that goes along with dieting. Although this is a work in progress, I’ve given up being “good” and “bad” when it comes to food. I’ve given up feeling guilty because I ate some chips, a cupcake or a bowl of ice cream. In the past, this guilt would cause me to feel bad about myself and eat even more “bad” food. Now that there is no “bad” food, a cupcake is just a cupcake. Now, I eat the cupcake, enjoy it and move on. No one ever got fat eating one cupcake.

Lesson Four: You Don’t have to Eat Perfectly to be Healthy
One thing that really resonated with me was the idea of maintaining a balance overall. In the past, I’ve become so focused on what I was eating at that moment and having a “bad day” that I never really took a step back and looked at the big picture. Some days are going to be high calorie days, some days are going to be pictures of health. All that matters is it all balances out. And it will, if you listen to your body and give it what it wants, when it wants. This is the ultimate goal for Intuitive Eating and this idea is something that I’m trying to keep in the back of my mind at all times. So far, it’s working. And this holiday season, I definitely think these lessons will carry me through feeling balanced and healthy!

My Third Service Project


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This morning, the smallest thing happened to me that completely changed the course of my day. While I was getting off the train, the women next to me stopped, looked at me, smiled and said “have a good one.” It was the simplest thing, but it put me in a good mood and I finished my walk into the office with a smile and a positive attitude.

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I can’t help but notice but people are a lot more friendly and caring around the Holidays. People donate more money, time and effort into helping out those in need. That’s great, but what about their general attitude towards people who cross their paths? I’ve definitely seem people out Christmas shopping that get annoyed by the long lines, frustrated by the full parking lots and have a general negative attitude towards those around them. Maybe some people have this disposition, but what if we were all more like the woman on my train this morning? What if we stopped and said, “have a nice day,” let someone go ahead of us in line, or dropped our attitudes and simply put on a smile while Christmas shopping?

This got me thinking about my third service project for this month. Earlier in the month, I made the goal to do three service projects this month to help others. My first project was donating clothes and dishes to Goodwill to help out those in need. My second project is volunteering at a gift drive at church this weekend. But, I still needed my third project.

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I came to the conclusion that my third project doesn’t have to be a formal “project,” but a general attitude towards everyone I come across in my daily life. So, this is what I’ve decided. For the next few weeks, I’m going to make a conscious effort to be nicer to those around me. I’m going to make an effort to say, “have a good one” to strangers, let people go ahead of me in line, not get frustrated in the crowds of Christmas shopping and put on a smile for those around me to see. Maybe I can change the course of someone’s day like the woman on the train did to me this morning. Even if I don’t , I’m pretty sure that this “project” will make me feel better and enjoy this Holiday season even more.

So, here’s to my third project! Anyone out there in on joining me? I would love to have someone to hold me accountable!