Chicago: Part 3 {Brunching, Architecture Tour, Homemade Dinner}

Hi there! After this post, my Chicago recap is finally done 🙂 In case you missed the other posts, you can find them here, here, and here.

Sunday morning, I woke up feeling mostly better, but my stomach was still a little off. We hung out in the hotel for a bit and I blogged and we watched some tv. Around 11ish, we ventured out into what looked to be another beautiful day in the city! Seriously, I cannot believe how lucky we got with the weather. It could have been miserably cold/snowy, which we were not prepared for at all!

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We met up with JP for brunch at Eggy’s, but not before going to the grocery store to pick up a bottle of Prosecco since Eggy’s was BYOB. How fun is that?! Dining out would be so much more affordable if you could bring your own booze. Boston, get on that, will ya?!

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Apparently cheese curds are big in Chicago (I didn’t even know what they were until Danielle and JP explained the to me), so we go an order of the fried cheese curds to start. I was pleasantly surprised by how good they were!

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I got the green eggs and ham, which was one of their signature dishes. Sadly, it looked better than it tasted. It wasn’t bad, there was just too much stuff going on… too many flavors.

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We walked around for a bit after brunch to digest and then jumped on an afternoon Architecture Tour. Whenever I go to a new city, I always try to go on as many tours as possible because I think it’s the best way to see the city and get a good overview of all the important pieces of information and dates. JP took this photo of my sister and I as we waited for the tour to start. Whoops. Not very good company!

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Our tour guide was fantastic and I learned so much about Chicago! As I mentioned in my last Chicago recap, Chicago completely burned down and was rebuilt in the 1900’s, so a lot of the buildings are relatively “new” and really interesting to look at since so many famous architectures came to Chicago to show their talents. I didn’t take many photo’s on the tour because it was SO COLD. Seriously… We were freezing because it was mostly in the shade and on the water. Brrr. I did get this one of the Sears (now, Willis) Tower, which is the tallest building in Chicago (right? I think it is…) since they count the tall things at the top in the measurement.

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I didn’t take this photo on the tour, but we did see them and talk about them, so I’ll post it now.

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Danielle and I immediately noticed these buildings when we arrived in Chicago. They were so cool looking, and when we found out that they consider themselves mini “cities”, we thought they were even cooler. Apparently they have everything in the building that a city would have, so basically if you lived in one, you’d never have to leave. A little weird, right?

After the tour, we warmed up by walking around the mall on Michigan Ave and then got a drink in the lobby of our hotel. Danielle and I went to JP’s to make dinner on Sunday night since we were tired of eating out and were craving healthy food. Ok, and, we wanted to shop at the amazing grocery store across from JP’s apartment building. It was like a mix between Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s… but better! It was two levels and had the best deli/hot bar section I’ve ever seen. I died and went to grocery store lover’s heaven!

We went simple for dinner and I just made a veggie and chicken dish, served over a fancy fettuccine with a nice, big salad on the side!

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Yum. It was so good! Danielle and I were in bed by 10pm on Sunday night and it was wonderful. Between traveling for work and then going right to Chicago to travel for fun, we were both exhausted!!! I think I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow 🙂

Monday morning we both got up and went to the gym and then hit the road for the airport.

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I traveled in comfy clothes, which I never do, because I had to sub a class on Monday night and was worried we might be delayed and I wouldn’t have time to change. Lucky for us, everything was on time (shocking for the Chicago airport) and I got home and to the gym with plenty of time to spare!

All in all, both trips were a blast. I might be going back to Chicago with a group of friends over the summer and I’m already looking forward to that possibility because I seriously loved Chicago. If I didn’t live in Boston but had to live in a city, I would choose Chicago. There was just something about it that I loved and I could see myself living there!

Thanks for following along through my recaps of the trip!

Questions for you: Have you done the architecture tour? If you had to pick a city to live in other than where you currently live, where would it be? Do you know of any BYOB restaurants in Boston?

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Weekly Workouts: Hotel Gyms & Preparing for Mania & Spartan

Hi Friends! How are you doing? Did you enjoy Meredith’s guest post on Friday? It’s worth a read if you missed it!

I am still in Chicago, but heading back today. I’ve had a great week of travel, but I am reallllyy ready to be home. I’m ready to not have wine or beer at every meal and I am ready to not eat out. Does anyone else feel that way at the end of a vacation?

With that said, I tried to counteract the cocktails and restaurant food by getting in some solid workouts. The Westin I stayed in while I was in Dallas was great! It was big, there were lots of cardio machines and a good selection of weights. I got up before my training sessions on Wednesday and Thursday and took advantage of the gym. I headed to Chicago on Thursday night and met up with my sister at a hotel near the airport and was able to get in another hotel gym workout before heading into downtown Chicago.

I took the weekend off from any formal exercise. This wasn’t my intention, but it worked out for the best since this week is going to be an intense workout week between attending Mania on Friday and Sunday and doing the Fenway Spartan race on Saturday. I’m also subbing a class tonight, so resting on Saturday and Sunday (besides walking a lot!!) was a good thing.

Last Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- I went to the gym after work and ran 4 miles on the treadmill. I ran it about 40 seconds faster last week than I did the week before! My muscles were sore from Sunday’s “Y Pump”, so a good run was perfect.

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  • Tuesday- I got up before work and did the 25 rep cardio & core I posted a few weeks ago. Before completing that, I did 10 minutes of random cardio in my apartment.
  • Wednesday- I ran 3 miles on the treadmill at the Westin and then completed some core and strength exercises.

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  • Thursday- I did 20 minutes on the stair stepper (I haven’t used that machine in SO long. I forgot how much it makes me sweat!) and then did a superset workout: upper, lower and core.

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  • Friday- I did 10 minutes on the bike and 20 on the elliptical and then did 2 rounds of my Got 20 Minutes? workout.

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  • Saturday- Lots of walking around Chicago! My feet hurt by the end of the day!
  • Sunday- More walking around Chicago… lots of walking again!

This Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- Subbing a kickboxing class at the Watertown BSC… pending that my flight isn’t delayed!
  • Tuesday- Not sure! Something quick after work I assume so that I can grocery shop after.
  • Wednesday- Cardio and teaching UXF Burn- I missed my members!!
  • Thursday- SHRED and Kickboxing… ready to be back at it!
  • Friday- Spending the day in Danvers at the Boston Mania fitness event. I signed up for a bunch of courses so I am excited to be in my “happy place” all day learning lots of new information about workouts!
  • Saturday- I am doing the Fenway Spartan Sprint… eek! I hope I am not too sore from Friday’s fitness events!
  • Sunday- I signed up for more courses at the Mania event, but I think I chose lectures and information sessions more so than fitness ones… I have a feeling I’ll be very sore on Sunday.

Questions for you: Are you ready to go home by the end of your vacation? Is anyone else attending the Boston Mania event?

PS- Thank you to all the Veteran’s who protect our country!

Weekly Workouts: Awesome on the road workouts & finally back at teaching!

I have to say, it feels pretty darn good knowing that I don’t have to travel for work this week! I need to soak it in because next week I will be in Dallas from Tuesday-Thursday and then I am flying directly to Chicago for a long weekend getaway. This week/weekend is also a bit crazy, but all of the craziness is good stuff, so I can’t really complain 🙂

Last week, I was in Ohio for my workouts on Monday and Tuesday, but both workouts were strong and didn’t feel like “on the road” or hotel room workouts which is always a plus! I was really excited to get back to teaching, though, which I think was a little scary for my members 😉

Last Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- I often workout in my hotel room because it can save 10 minutes or more of my morning by eliminating the travel time to the gym and equipment set up time. I’m all about efficiency in the morning and sleeping for as long as possible, so extra sleep and a hotel room workout generally trump all else. With that said, I knew I would have more time on Monday morning to workout so I decided to head to the gym. I ran 3 miles on the treadmill and then completed a short strength circuit, including the Monday and Tuesday moves for the Fall Into Fitness challenge that I am participating in. Loved the Monkey Curls!

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  • Tuesday- I completed a 25 rep core and cardio workout that I will post for you this week. No equipment necessary and even with a warm up, I finished in 28 minutes. Win, win if you ask me!

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  • Wednesday- I was finally back in the gym!!! I ran a 5K on the treadmill before teaching a killer UXF Burn class. I did the usual format that my class enjoys (Face off, but staying in their own spots) and after the Strength & Core exercises, we did 10 burpee tuck jumps. By the end of class, we did 100 burpees!
  • Thursday- I taught SHRED and Kickboxing. Felt good to be back for my double.
  • Friday- I did not have a great day on Friday and when I have bad days I usually like to workout, but I knew I should rest since I was teaching kickboxing on Saturday, so I drank wine instead… while doing my Fall Into Fitness Bridge & Crunch move. Whoops.

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  • Saturday- I taught a fun kickboxing class at the Oak Square YMCA. There were 33 people in class and the energy was so high- I was in instructor heaven. Judging by Jen’s Facebook status, it was a good workout for them, too!

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  • Sunday- I decided I wanted to try the “Y Pump” at the East Boston YMCA. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I love BodyPump and have been working on increasing my strength workouts so since I was around yesterday morning, I decided to try it out (it was hard to not just go to the 11am BodyPump class at the Wellington, BSC, though, since I know what to expect there!). The class ended up being awesome! We did a lot of reps and I really struggled to finish a number of the sets. In addition to the bars, we also used a band, something I don’t do often. I was sore by the end of the day yesterday, so I’m sure that will continue today!

This Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- To be honest, I am not sure! Since I did weights yesterday, I’ll probably focus more on cardio today. I hate that it’s getting colder and darker out after workout because I loved my Monday night runs!
  • Tuesday- Pending on whether or not I’m still sore from Sunday, I would like to do a lower or upper body strength workout. If I am still sore, I’ll do a core-focused workout.
  • Wednesday- The usual: cardio and then teaching UXF Burn.
  • Thursday- Another usual: SHRED and Kickboxing. I may bring back a circuit/stations workout this week since it’s been a while since I’ve done that!
  • Friday- Rest day? I am babysitting after work and since I’m teaching on Saturday again, a rest day is perfect.
  • Saturday- Teaching kickboxing again at the Oak Square YMCA. Since I will be in Chicago next weekend, which was my weekend to teach, the other instructor was nice enough to switch with me so I wouldn’t miss out on a class. Thanks, Amy!
  • Sunday- I have a feeling this will be a rest day, too. My weekend is: babysitting Friday night, teaching Saturday morning, heading to ME for the afternoon and then heading back to MA for a gym friend’s party so I think by Sunday, I am going to be exhausted!

Questions for you: Do you like trying new classes at the gym or do you stick to the classes you know will be a good workout? What was your best workout last week?

Weekly Workouts: A heavy workout week

Good morning, friends! How are you doing? Now that I have the keys to my new apartment, it’s been hard focusing on anything except for moving! My parents were planning to come down on the 16th and 17th, but I’m trying to figure out a way for them to potentially come down this Friday to at least move the big things in: my bed, dressers, couch, chair, table, etc.

Anyway! As my title suggest, this past week was a heavy week with regards to workouts. I COMPLETELY forgot that I agreed to sub Kate’s 5:30 Sports Conditioning class on Wednesday, so that was a big surprise when I finally made it back in the office after lots of travel and looked at my calendar and saw that! It all worked out, though and since it’s right before my normal class, it’s not really a big deal.

Last Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- I ran 3 miles in the morning and did some core strengthening exercises since my muscles were pretty tired from Sunday’s BodyPump class. As much as I like my workouts in the evening better than in the morning because I have more energy and more time, it feels great that I am getting back into the “swing” of morning workouts.
  • Tuesday- I got up at the hotel in Atlanta and did 30 minutes on the elliptical, followed by 4 rounds of: 10 box jumps, 10 incline push ups, 10 squat and press and 10 stability ball leg lifts. Felt great!

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  • Wednesday- Realized I had to sub Kate’s class which was kind of a bummer since I really enjoy my Wednesday runs along the Charles before teaching UXF, but I still got a great workout in between teaching the two classes!

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(I taught a fun stations circuit in both classes. Multiple people told me they were sore on Thursday. Music to my ears!)

  • Thursday- Taught SHRED and then kickboxing. I made up the routine on the plane (on a napkin, mind you), and to my happy surprise, it came out just as well in person as it did in my head! That never happens 😉

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(I wore the most obnoxiously loud colored outfit to teach on Thursday… yikes!)

  • Friday- REST. After 6 consecutive days of workouts, and two of those being doubles, my body was calling for rest. I also had the day off from work which was icing on the cake. It felt weird, but surprisingly good, to not plan my day around my workout! I did do lots of walking around the mall, though.
  • Saturday- Taught the same kickboxing class at the Oak Square YMCA as I did in Thursday’s class at the BSC. Awesome energy in the class!!
  • Sunday- Danielle and I went for a nice walk/jog around Shapleigh, covering almost 2.75 miles. I did some ab work after and also did lots of different kinds of burpees. Hint: fun post coming up on Wednesday!

This Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- Even though I don’t have anything after work (I was supposed to do something with Jess but I decided that could wait) I wanted to get my workout done in the morning so I could have the evening to grocery shop, cook and start to pack!
  • Tuesday- Likely working out in the morning again because I want to start bringing stuff to my new apartment!
  • Wednesday- Probably a run along the Charles and then teaching UXF Burn.
  • Thursday- SHRED and Kickboxing!
  • Friday- I have a 3 hour training for the latest UXF Burn release/format/abs… Last time I was trained on UXF Burn, we worked out like crazy people!! It’s so funny to workout with a group of fellow instructors because we all push ourselves way more than we would any other time 😉
  • Saturday- I am subbing a SHRED class at the Central Square BSC, so BSCers- COME GET YOUR SWEAT ON!!! 🙂 I’m thinking there will be a second workout of the day while dancing at Christy’s wedding 😉
  • Sunday- Rest!!! Maybe some moving, but mostly rest!

Questions for you: Do you look forward to dancing when you go to weddings or parties? How many weddings have you gone to this summer? Fellow instructor friends- do you work out harder when you’re in a class with all instructors?

Have a wonderful week, friends!!!

Stowe, VT- A mini “vacation”

As I’ve mentioned, last week I spent the week in Stowe, Vermont for a work conference. Since the conference was in the summer, I really couldn’t have thought of a better place for it to have been held (well, unless it was in Maine- that’s another terrific summer location, maybe even better since it has the ocean!). My coworkers, Tim and Jim, were also attending the conference, which was awesome since we all get along really well. Jim was bringing his wife, so they drove up in one car and I took Tim in my car. Obviously, I made sure to stock us up with delicious (and mostly healthy) snacks for the ride because no one wants a hangry Monique 😉

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The ride up 89 was just as I remembered it: long, empty, but absolutely beautiful.  Tim lives in Florida, so he was really amazed by the views. I told him that my favorite time to travel up and down 89 was in October, over Columbus Day weekend when foliage was always at its peak. The good thing about this trip, was that we were getting off at exit 10, for Stowe, versus exit 15, for Saint Michael’s College.

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(This was in Vermont at a family wedding last fall. The mountains are gorgeous!)

As we got off the exit, we drove past 3 of my favorite Stowe, VT locations and memories from college: Ben and Jerry’s, Cabot Cheese Factory and Pie in the Sky. I remember my college girlfriends and I making day trips to basically eat our way through Stowe!

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A little ways further, we showed up at the Stowe Mountain Lodge. The property was breathtaking: it was like a castle surrounded entirely by mountains.

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Shortly after arriving, we were checked in and parted ways. My room, although it was literally a 5-10 minute trek from the lobby, was WELL WORTH the distance because it was absolutely beautiful. Somehow I got upgraded to a junior suite and I made sure to gloat when Tim said he had 2 double beds with very little extra space in the room. Check this thing out!

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Seriously, the bathroom was bigger than my bedroom here, and the views from the balcony literally made me want to sit out there and just relax and take it all in; that never happens! I was tempted to crank the AC so I could have an excuse to use the fireplace 😉

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I’ll spare you the conference details, but I will say it was a really worthwhile conference and I made lots of valuable connections!

The nice thing about traveling with Tim, was I knew we would be working out most, if not all, of the days. Tim has been to a few of my classes, but this time I asked HIM to run me through a workout. I’ve mentioned before how I am trying to gain strength, so I was looking forward to workouts that were focused on just a few muscle groups vs a workout with multiple combination moves. On Wednesday, we skipped out on the ice cream social in favor of the gym- talk about serious self control! Anyway, we worked back and biceps first, followed by abs (which Tim let me lead) and then a really awesome trail run around the property. It was one of the better workouts I’ve had in a while- thanks, Tim! 🙂

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Thanks for taking all these pics, Tim! Some without me even asking! 🙂
Post workout, we met up with other conference goers at the pool, which served as a way to cool off, rinse off, and refuel, right?

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Thursday was a bit more wide open, and when I got a text in the middle of the day from Tim that read “any way you can clear your afternoon schedule? Ziplining?”, I got so excited. Ziplining?! How cool! Unfortunately, I had a call smack in the middle of the afternoon that I couldn’t miss and the latest appointment was full. Whomp, whomp. We then talked about doing the obstacle course at the same location where ziplining was held. We ended up nixing that idea since we feared it would be more of a “kids” thing than a “grown up” thing. Next idea? Alpine sledding down the mountain. Sold!… Until they heard thunder as we walked up to buy our tickets and told us we’d have to wait 20 minutes to make sure the storm passed. Whomp, whomp, again. What do you do when all else fails? Go to Ben and Jerry’s, duh!

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It ended up raining during our drive over, which was basically a sign telling me that an ice cream tour was juuuust the perfect way to fill an afternoon 😉

We ended up doing the “special tour” which meant we paid $20 for a t-shirt AND tour. Loved it! Look how cute my t-shirt is!

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There was a bit of a line, so we grabbed kiddie sized ice creams while we waited… and then we had another during the tour… Hey, we were making up for skipping the ice cream social the day before 😉 The salted caramel sampled was absolutely delicious!!! And the tour was more informative than I had remembered. Ben and Jerry seem like pretty cool dudes and I am forever grateful for the “free cone day” they established!

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After our ice cream cravings were overly satisfied, we headed back to the lodge. There were a couple of hours to kill before we met up with Jim and his wife for dinner, and I thought I was going to die of boredom (ok, I’m being totally dramatic here, but I hope you get the point!). At first, I thought it was great to have time to hang out on my balcony, read magazines and soak up the view, but about 20 minutes later I found myself pacing around, looking for something to do. I seriously need lessons on how to relax! Even though I struggled with having “nothing” to do, I definitely needed that down time. There’s something about being away from my apartment and being forced to relax that’s actually kind of nice!

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I’ve heard that wine helps with relaxing…

Friday morning, Tim and I went to the gym before packing up and hitting the road to head south. I was very, very impressed with the gym at the Stowe Mountain Lodge. Not only was it big, but it was equipped with new cardio and weight equipment, as well as lots of stability balls, BOSU balls, steps, etc. They also offered fitness classes throughout the day. How fun would that be?! I need to find a job like that 😉 We did our own respective workouts; treadmill and this workout for me, and I think Tim did chest and triceps? We joined together at the end for another round of abs. This time, I had him do a full Dynamax Wheel (the only complaint I had about the gym was that they didn’t have Dynamax balls 😦 ) with medicine balls instead of Dynamax balls.

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Andddd, that about sums up my Stowe trip! I didn’t take pictures of my meals because I didn’t want to look like that weirdo, well, taking pictures of my meals, haha. It would have been very easy for me to have been persuaded to spend the day by the pool instead of heading back to Boston on Friday, but Tim had a flight to catch and I had lots of work to catch up on, so that wasn’t really an option. All in all, though, the trip was wonderful. I felt very fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet so many people within my industry, as well as have some time to be on “vacation”. If you’re ever in the Stowe area, I HIGHLY suggest checking out the Stowe Mountain Lodge. I cannot say enough good things about it! The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful, and you could tell they weren’t acting that way just because they were getting paid; it was a genuine friendliness, which is so not something you tend to see in Boston!

I hope you enjoyed my recap 🙂

Questions for you: Have you ever been to Stowe? Do you utilize hotel gyms? What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?