Lifestyle
Quick Trip to Chicago

Quick Trip to Chicago

Before school started up again, we wanted to try to get away for a quick weekend. After debating between two cities, we decided to go with Chicago. Zach lived there for a few months after college, and one of my closest friends recently moved there, so we knew we’d have plenty of suggestions of where to go. It was a PACKED 3 days. Here was our itinerary!

 

Saturday:

We arrived in Chicago around 8am and were lucky enough to be able to check into our hotel room to freshen up after our super early flight. We were starving but anxious to get started with our day, so we stopped for breakfast at Little Branch Cafe

Our first stop after breakfast was the Field Museum. We paid extra to see The Jurassic World exhibit, which brought so much excitement to these 90s kids’ hearts. Two hours flew by while we looked at the endless animal displays, but the most fascinating were the man-eaters of Tsavo. If you have not seen The Ghost in the Darkness, it’s a MUST!

We headed to Shedd Aquarium, which was WAY overcrowded. Travel tip: if you choose to stack the museums, do the Aquarium FIRST. My friend Ashley recommended Pickwick Coffee, so we stopped there on our way back downtown. It was tucked away in what felt like an alley, and had the most instagrammable storefront!

The weather was beautiful for strolling, so we decided to walk until we became too tired to go on. We ended up covering ALL of the Magnificent Mile and ended up at Eataly for dinner. If you read our New York post, you know we visited Eataly three times in one weekend and absolutely loved it. By the time we were finished for dinner, our feet were aching, and we felt exhausted. We had racked up 30,000 steps on the first day. HUGE MISTAKE!

Sunday:

After waking up, we hit a quick 30-minute upper body workout, because our legs were too tired from all that walking the day before. We walked through the CUTEST area called Maggie Daley park, saw the Bean, and grabbed coffee at Dollop.

After coffee, we walked to Navy Pier. I was fully envisioning a pier similar to the Fairhope pier, which is maybe 25 feet across. My mistake. This one is super famous for a reason. We walked and walked until it was time to meet my friend for brunch. One of her suggestions was Beatrix, which I had read about on multiple blogs. We enjoyed our food SO much that we considered going back for brunch the next day…and dinner the next day. It was the cutest atmosphere, and all three of us inhaled our meals. Hands-down a place to visit. I mean, just look at these desserts! We took home three.

We took a rest at our hotel, before it was time for church. We knew we were having dinner near Lincoln Park, so we scouted out St. Vincent de Paul, which was gorgeous. Dinner was at Mon Ami Gabi, which is known for steak frites. From the beautiful outdoor seating, the food, the drinks, and the DESSERT, this place was 10/10.

Monday:

For our last day, we ventured back down to Toast in Lincoln Park. We got our own breakfasts and split the strawberry/cinamon crepes (with Nutella), which was life-changing. For our coffee stop, we checked out La Colombe, where I got a latte ON DRAFT. It was incredible. We checked out the Lincoln Park Zoo, but the weather was ominous and many of the animals were still inside. We walked ALL along the lake from Lincoln Park to the John Hancock building…and continued walking. Eataly was our lunch spot of choice, partially due to our location, and partially due to my gelato craving. We racked up another 28,000 steps before it was time to the leave to the airport.

 

 

Podcasts

Podcasts

Zach has always been an avid podcast listener. My podcast addiction started this summer when I found myself running errands and tackling projects that I put off during the school year. The music on the radio sucks, and I can only listen to Pat Green radio on Pandora for so many hours. I referenced Juli Bauer’s list of podcasts and started with Serial.  I couldn’t stop, told everyone about it, and got my mom and sister hooked.

I tackled two series of Someone Knows Something and Accused, before my husband said I needed to quit with the true crime. So I moved on to the next topic that fascinates me: health, fitness, and nutrition. I started light with Paleomg Uncensored, and found myself CRACKING up in public. Juli Bauer of paleomg.com covers topics from Crossfit, Orange Theory, conquering sugar addiction, social media, and my favorite-the Bachelorette.

A few other health & fitness favorites are Girls Gone Wod and Fed & Fit.

Serial: If you like a good episode of Law & Order: SVU or James Patterson mystery-esque novel, this is for you. I thought the Adnan series was better than Bergdahl, but still…if you’ve already listened, tell me what you think in the comments below.

Someone Knows Something: The first series was about a little boy, Adrien, who went missing while on a fishing trip with his dad, siblings, and family friends. He disappeared literally without a trace, and the journalist explores all sorts of possibilities. The end is fascinating, because they may or may not have found something to help the closed investigation. The second series was about a 20s-something girl named Cheryl who went missing the day after she became engaged on national TV. I’m 99.99% sure it was her boyfriend who killed her, because the situation is suuuuuper sketchy.

Accused: A college aged boy finds his girlfriend murdered in the apartment that they share and is immediately the number one suspect. He is tried for the murder (and again for “wrongful death”?-correct me if I’m wrong) and both times, the jury found him innocent. No other leads were officially investigated, but the journalist covers a lot of leads.

Girls Gone Wod: Two avid Crossfitters, Claire and Joy, have been podcasting for years together and are pretty funny. One is a new-ish mom and shares how that changed the fitness game for her. At first, I picked the ones I wanted to listen to, but then decided to go back to episode 1. I love hearing how they venture into so many different approaches to nutrition–vegan, paleo, macros, zone, and whole 30.

Fed & Fit: Cassy hits a lot of paleo topics, but she also talks about things like brown rice vs. white rice, healthy swaps you can make, how alcohol affects your fitness, and holistic health like non-toxic beauty and sleep health.

Rose Pricks: If you watch The Bachelor/The Bachelorette, this is a must. They totally roast the characters, which is a little mean, but it’s hilarious. Their imitations of Eric and Bryan’s mom have me CRACKING up, because they’re so accurate. They basically say what we’re all thinking about this silly show, anyway.

Zach’s favorites: Here are some of my recommendations as well as personal favorite podcasts!

Barbell Shrugged: This one is an oldie and a goody. The crew will cover anything an everything from CrossFit, to nutrition, alternative medicine and philosophy. Mike Bledsoe, Doug Larson and the rest of the crew have a wide array of interests and wildly different personalities, which helps to keep everything light hearted and interesting.

The JuggLife: Chad Wesley Smith and Max Aita do their best “Step Brothers” impression on the podcast, full of dry sarcasm and an infinite knowledge of strength sport, programming, competition tips and analysis of some of the best 80s and 90s films. If you love barbells, cheesy jokes and some of the best guests in Strength Sport then this is a great podcast for you.

Mark Bell’s Powercast: The podcast that started it all for me, this may be the single greatest combination of some of the greatest guests in training and barbell sport, business, jokes that make you absolutely laugh out loud and a little bit of knowledge here and there. From the biggest names in CrossFit, Powerlifting Strongman and even celebrity trainers and the biggest personalities in business. Caution things can get a little immature…but if you find that hilarious like me, then you’re in for a treat.

Power Athlete Radio: With over a decade playing in the NFL John Welbourn has some of the greatest stories from life inside and outside of the league. Joining him are Luke Summers and Tex, all great coaches who routinely drop knowledge bombs about training, nutrition, lifestyle and talk shop about hunting, cars and the NFL life. With some of the most knowledgeable guests from barbell sport, former NFL players, military personnel and some of the brightest minds in medicine and nutrition this is a podcast you will definitely want to listen to. Prepare for some of the driest and most berating humor you can imagine, its like being in a high school locker room all over again.

 

Weekly Workouts + Recipe

Weekly Workouts + Recipe

 

Recipe:

We’ve added one meal into rotation to have once a week. When I was younger, I called it “sausage chicken” and the name stuck. It’s super easy and nutritious, so I thought I’d share it with you! There are few measurements to this recipe, because it’s that simple

  1. Place however much chicken on a pan. Place 1 tsp of butter on each breast or tender of chicken.
  2. Bake for 20 minutes.
  3. Flip the chicken over. Add chicken andouille sausage all throughout the pan. Make sure it’s cut up so that the flavor can permeate the chicken.
  4. Some of the butter will have melted in the pan. Spoon it over the chicken again.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. DONE! 🙂

We typically serve this with any greens.  Okra, zucchini, or asparagus are our favorites right now.

Protein Hacks

Protein Hacks

I refuse to eat nothing but chicken breast, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. I would probably reach my goals a bit faster if I did, but I would also not be a nice person. I like food too much. You may or may not know that I track macros, and on some days when I need to get some extra protein in, I don’t have the willpower to eat chicken or drink a shake. Here are some of my favorite things to do with protein powder. I’ve shared the recipes and macros according to my exact ingredients. Obviously, you can manipulate the macros to fit your needs based on which protein powder you use or what add-ons you choose. I’m no chef, so hopefully these directions are easy to follow.

 

Protein Pancakes

Chocolate protein pancakes: In a bowl, mix together 1 scoop chocolate whey protein + 1 egg + 6 egg whites. Add water until it’s the consistency you like. Pour into a pan, flip once until it’s cooked through. Top with 1/4c berries + 1/3 banana. Your macros will vary depending on the type of protein you use or if you substitute 3 more egg whites for an egg. Macros: 37P 22C 7F (the carbs come mostly from the berries + banana, so you can do without for a low-carb option)

Vanilla Protein Pancakes: See recipe above. Substitute vanilla protein instead of chocolate. If I still need carbs in my day and choose berries instead of a banana, I’ll add 1/4 cup oatmeal. This makes the pancake extra hearty and filling.

Protein Oatmeal

Vanilla spiced proatmeal: Put 1/4 cup oatmeal + 1/2 cup water in a bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir in 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder. Top with 1 tsp of chia seeds + 2 tsp of pumpkin spice. Macros: 27P 18C 4F

Acai Bowl 

Acai bowl: In a blender, mix 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 scoop Amazing Grass greens powder, 1 Sambazon Acai pack, 1/2 cup frozen mango. Add water (or liquid of your choice) until it’s the consistency you like. Pour into a bowl. Top with 1/4 cup granola of your choice. I use the cherry almond granola from Whole Foods. I also topped with 1 tbsp Justin’s Vanilla Almond Butter. Macros: 24P 48C 15F

I hope you enjoy these recipes! Let me know YOUR favorite way to use protein powder in a new recipe!

 

How to Work Out in the Morning

How to Work Out in the Morning

Two years ago, my friend invited me to a 5:30am Flywheel class before work. It took a couple invitations to get me to go, and even when I did, I was half asleep for the first ten minutes. These days, I bop into the gym around 4:15 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (for the most part). Here are my secrets:

  1. Great tasting pre-workout: I don’t know about you, but I crave sweets in the morning. A donut? Waffle? Muffins? Yes, please. So a sweet pre-workout can literally get me out of bed. My favorites right now are  PEScience prolific in raspberry lemonade OR Optimum Nutrition in Blueberry Lemonade. I try to drink this as I’m getting dressed and gathering my things. That way, the caffeine has started to set in by the time I walk into the gym and start warming-up.
  2.  Go to bed: I’m always exhausted in the evening times. It’s the nature of my job. But knowing I can get up and get a good morning workout in always motivates me to close my eyes when I want to keep scrolling Instagram or reading my book. I personally don’t feel the need to use it, but the bedtime alarm system on the iPhone is fascinating!
  3. Remind yourself of the benefits: Fitness at anytime won’t hurt, but these articles are great to read if you need a little push in the right direction. #1: Bodybuilding.com or #2: Cosmopolitan.com
  4. Make use of the extra time in the day: This really turned into a habit for me when I was planning a wedding. I was constantly meeting with vendors after school and knew that if I waited to work out, it wasn’t going to happen. If I work out in the morning and want to go to happy hour with a friend, I can, because I’ve already worked out. I can stay as late as I want at work (which isn’t late!), or I can take a nap–is there any better motivation than that?
  5. Find your Mindset: When people ask (because they do…often) WHY on Earth I would workout at 4:15am, I always respond with my true reasoning. I’m not trying to lose a certain amount of weight or get in shape fast. It’s mental. If I can get up and workout for an hour BEFORE I start my day, I know I can handle whatever the day throws at me. Lifting heavy weights by 4:30am reinforces the idea that I am strong, and if I’m strong in the gym, I can be strong in my classroom and in my family. And besides? Have you heard of an endorphin rush? I’m a much nicer person when I’ve worked out in the morning.

I’d love to know when YOU like to workout and how that helps you!

 

Weekly Workouts

Weekly Workouts

On Saturday, we went for a walk along the Katy Trail in Dallas. Once upon a time, I lived Uptown and brought Zach to the Katy Trail on his first trip down to visit me. Maybe it’s the sentimental part of us or maybe its just the paved shaded path, but this is one of our favorite places to get some outdoor activity. We love to park near Knox/Henderson, grab a coffee at Starbucks and walk about 1.5 miles and back. If you haven’t checked it out, definitely give it a visit.

Top 4 Dumbbell Workouts

Top 4 Dumbbell Workouts

I’ve recently started a new job, and with that comes traveling + a busy schedule (and wearing suits vs. lululemon). This doesn’t mean fitness has to go on the back burner, but it DOES mean that sometimes it means working out without a barbell. One of the first things Lauren and I check out when traveling is the hotel gym. Lame? Maybe. But there’s comfort in knowing that most hotel or apartment gyms at least come with a rack full of dumbbells. Whether the collection is small or large, you can still train to reach your goals using only dumbbells.  Obviously Dumbbells can be great for convenience sake, but they can also serve very valuable training purposes as well. Just to highlight a few, improvement in stability and range of motion, easier adaptations to changing grip/angles as well as loading/transitioning into other movements.  This makes the dumbbell a great training tool when dealing with injuries or any training limitations.

 

  1. Upper Push/Lower Pull
    • DB 45 Degree Bench Press
    • DB RDL(Romanian Deadlift)
    • DB Arnold Press
    • DB Single Leg Deadlift
    • DB Incline Alternating Press
    • DB Goblet Good Morning
  2. Lower Push/Upper Pull
    • DB Goblet Squat
    • DB Single Arm Bent over Row
    • DB Reverse Lunge
    • DB Upright Row
    • DB Lateral Step-Ups
    • DB Rear Delt Fly
  3. Power
    • DB Hang Power Clean
    • DB Thruster
    • DB Single Arm Snatch
    • DB Push Press
    • DB Split Lunge
  4. Gun Show
    • DB Hammer Curl
    • DB Skull Crusher
    • DB Front Raise
    • DB Underhand Curl
    • DB French Curl
    • DB Lateral Raise
    • DB curl 21’s
    • DB Tricep Kickback
Weekly Workouts + Mini Cut

Weekly Workouts + Mini Cut

Hi everyone! I know I’m late on weekly workouts, but I wanted to add a second component this week.

For those of you who may have read about my fitness journey (here) or followed for a little while, you may know that I’ve been “bulking”. I say that lightly, because it’s been a slow process and really nothing extreme. I’ve gotten to the point where I want to start “cutting” back down again, and I’ve been looking for some guidance/a program to follow. Zach recently downloaded The Bulking Protocal (here) from Power Athlete, and he told me about The Leaning Protocal (here). Well, I downloaded it on a whim and thought I’d share with you some of my “tricks of the trade” from when I originally cut down 20+ pounds (over 2 years) and what I’ll be TRYING to keep in mind over the next few weeks. Keep in mind that I am not certifed as a trainer or nutritionist. All of this information has come from trial and error and the guidance of my sweet husband (who is a CSCS and studied nutrition in college). I really encourage you to seek out guidance from professionals.

 

  1. Portion control: No, I’m not talking about eating an entire plate of spaghetti or ordering two double-doubles from In-n-Out. I’m talking about portion control even with our “healthy” foods. When we created our wedding registry, we invested in a good food scale. It may sound obsessive, but I found that it has made a huge difference in tracking macros. I used to eyeball my 4 ounces of chicken for meals, and it turns out I was only eating 2-2.5 ounces. I was not getting the amount of protein that I thought I was. Similarly, when it comes to items out of a jar or a bag, it’s so easy to track one serving size but actually eat 2-3 at one time. These informative posts are pretty eye-opening.

 

2. Ditch the scale: I still struggle with this, I really do. But having my body fat measured on a weekly basis gave me a whole new perspective. When I decided I wanted to do a small “bulk”, I knew I’d have to watch my weight go up. But as I did so, I experienced some newbie gains and saw my weight go up while my (overall) body fat percentage went down. That doesn’t mean I didn’t gain any body fat–it just means I gained more muscle than fat. This is possible. At this point, I’m working on cutting down a bit, but I have a little more freedom to let go of that scale number.

3. Protein: I see some  YouTubers or Instagrammers claim that you can protein from things like hummus and nuts, but y’all–how many nuts & tubs of hummus are you eating?! These new macros have me aiming for MORE than 1 gram per pound of body weight. When I used to just track calories vs. tracking macros, I ate probably 60-80 grams per day. I’ve had to up that quite a bit, but it makes all the difference with recovery, muscle growth, fat loss, and basic functioning of the human body.

4. Cross-training: What I have found works best for my body is incorporating more than just one type of training. I’ve gone through points in my life where I just did yoga, or just did spin classes 5-6 times a week. Those workouts are great in isolation, but the best results I’ve come from mixing up the workouts and training all parts of the body. I do a lot of weight training currently and the beauty of that is the room for variety within the workouts. I’ll do a super intense Crossfit-esque WOD, a slow body-building type workout, or add in cardio. Zach and I have been hitting a lot of yoga classes in DFW too!

 

Do you have any tips for a small cutting phase? I’d love to learn about your favorite tips and tricks!

Weekly Workouts + Polar Watch

Weekly Workouts + Polar Watch

Hi everyone,

Along with this week’s weekly workouts, I wanted to include something that has changed the game a bit for me. Keep scrolling to learn more!

Click this link for workout video.

So, the game changer I mentioned…over Spring Break, I found myself wondering how my home all-day activity level compared to my teacher life activity level. It certainly seemed like I was expending a lot less energy on my couch watching Netflix than my typical chasing around 7-year olds. I read a few reviews and impulse ordered the PolarA360 watch on Amazon same-day shipping.

I absolutely love being able to check my steps & calories burned throughout the day, BUT I find this most helpful during my workouts. You can use the touch screen to display exactly what you want during your workout. I usually default mine to current heart rate and time spent during workouts, but you can see the percentage of time spent in different heart rate zones or calories burned during the workout.

It’s been the most fascinating to wear my watch consistently during cardio, weight training, barre, and yoga classes!

If you wear it all throughout the day, it tracks your activity level, notifies you if you are inactive and gives you graphs to show how your day was. The examples above show an ACTIVE day with a workout, and the second shows a more typical day with afternoon workouts. You can see the time of day when I was taking an afternoon nap and the times during the day when I sat consistently. Pictured below are screenshots of the daily summary VS a screenshot of the workout information it gives you.

I find myself setting additional goals throughout if I notice my heart rate is low OR if I don’t seem to be burning very many calories.

 

Do you have a recommendation for a heart rate monitor? What’s your favorite workout watch?

 

Dallas Fitness Ambassadors: Silent Disco Yoga

Dallas Fitness Ambassadors: Silent Disco Yoga

Last week, I attended Silent Disco Yoga in West Village. I really had no idea what to expect, but I knew that I’d see some familiar faces and get the chance to try something out of the box. When I arrived, I couldn’t believe how many yogis showed up! Upon sign-in, we received two bottles of Muscle Milk to use as hand weights, and we got our headphones!

These headphones made me crave a pair of wireless headphones, because I loved the feeling of moving all over the place and never having the earbuds fall out. I mean, we were running in place, doing jumping jacks and inversions, and these babies stayed perfectly place! Once we all got situated, we could hear both music and the instructor’s voice through the headphones, and you could adjust the volume to your own preference.

We started in child’s pose and made our way through a combination of (what I would consider) traditional yoga poses, a lot of barre-esque pulsing movements, good core work, and some plyometrics to get our heart rates up.

After the class ended, I wandered through the amazing vendors that were a part of this event! I had my hair braided and got awesome recommendations/product samples for my chronically dry hair from Avalon Salons.

 

From Muscle Milk, I took home the two shakes I’d used for weights AND two of their protein bars (which are delicious). Buda Juice and SimplyFit Meals also showed up to share samples of their nutritious goodies. Some of the other vendors that I saw were Soul Cycle Uptown and Mini Luxe. 

 

It was so much fun to know we were in the middle of a bustling area–shops, restaurants, fitness studios and the like. But with our headphones and vibe, we were totally in our own zone.

Make sure to follow Dallas Fitness Ambassadors on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook so that you can take part in the next fun event!

Dallas Fitness Ambassadors
  • Farmhouse tacos for 👱🏻 & basic breakfast for 👩🏻 All fueled up for a night of football and GOT!
  • Y'all this shirt. It's me in a nutshell. I'm totally smiling b/c our weekly set of 20 squats is over & I PR'ed at 1X20@ 100lbs unbroken! Grow quads grow!
  • Could absolutely go for one of these cookies right about now. @beatrixchicago had the yummiest desserts & we took home three to eat after brunch 🙈😳 Our Chicago travel guide is up on the blog, so click the link in our bio if you want to see a bunch of food pictures 😉🍽.
  • Dinner in front of the TV for #GOT! This sausage & chicken meal is one of our favorite easy meals. The recipe is on our blog on the 2nd most recent post. Super easy, and YES that's hatch chili cornbread 😉
  • Saturday has become our day to do a @crossfit workout together. A challenging #wod is always better when you have an accountability partner to cheer you on 💪🏻 This was from a few weeks ago: 5 rounds of 200m farmers carry + 20 push-ups + 10 DB push jerks. (60/25lbs). 😝
  • A latté on tap? All my coffee dreams came true yesterday at @lacolombecoffee ☕️
  • Stuck in an airport for hours means looking back at all the delicious food photos from this weekend in Chicago. Cinnamon strawberry crepes from @toast_chicago are a MUST. Look for a travel guide coming later this week, which will likely be a list of our favorite foods 😍 🍴🍽🍾🍷🍻
  • In the car, while doing laundry, on long walks...we have both been listening to podcasts non-stop! They make 45 minutes go by in a flash. We've shared our favorites in our newest blog post. Link in bio 🎧
  • Most nights for dinner, I try to get a good share of protein & vegetables, along with my macro fill of carbs & fat. Some nights, I throw a bunch of chocolate chips into a pint of ice cream and call it a day #balance 💗