Have you ever wondered how you change? It's a vague question, I'll admit, but chances are you're considerably different in some way today than you were five or ten years ago. When it comes to health, many people believe that aches, pains, weight gain and inactivity are part of the "aging" package. They don't have to be. You have much more control over your body's health that you realize.
Life is certainly a series of changes. When we start a new phase, whether it be a new job, new relationship, parenthood, retirement, etc., patterns change in our life. Added responsibilities often mean less time. Less time is often one of the hallmark reasons people abandon a healthy diet or workout routine. When faced with a change, good or bad, give yourself enough time to get your bearings. That may be a couple days, a couple weeks or even a couple months. After that, it's important to move forward. Try something new that inspires you. If the first thing you try doesn't work, move on until you find that thing that really motivates you to stay healthy. It might be a book. It might be a health club. It might be a new group of friends.
Here is another installment of The Year of Me!. The last few days I've worked my way around Chicago to find a few things that are healthy and good. I'll keep bringing them to you two or three times a week. If there is a fitness class you love or a restaurant you think I should try, let me know. I'm open to suggestions. I'll give anything a shot.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012 | Indie Burger in Lakeview
Indie Burger at 1034 W. Belmont has been open for several months now, and every time I go by it I tell myself that I will stop in next time. Just about everything on the menu is organic, much of which is locally produced. The burgers come from grass-fed cows, which, for you beef eaters, is a great thing. Truth be told, I don't eat beef, and haven't since college. I don't even remember why I stopped eating it. I just did and haven't really had a hankering to pick it back up again. Nonetheless, there was one thing on the menu that really caught my attention. The organic chickpea burger withtzatziki sounded too mouth-watering not to try. I also don't eat gluten, so I was happy to see that Indie Burger offered gluten-free buns, too.
My husband and I both stopped by for lunch the other day. He ordered the Indie Burger, which is a beef burger served with grilled onions, Swiss cheese and a house-made Indie sauce. He has no qualms with beef, but, like me, doesn't eat gluten, so he ordered a gluten-free bun as well.
As we waited for our food, I was able to take in the interior of the restaurant. If there is one thing I love just as much as fitness and healthy food - it's music, primarily indie music at that! I was like a kid in a candy store checking out the countless posters on every wall. M83, Lykke Li, Arctic Monkeys and LCD Soundsystem among hundreds of other bands gave a true indie feel to Indie Burger.
When our burgers arrived, we quickly dug in. I love the taste of curry and was pleasantly surprised that the chickpea burger had a good amount that the spice within it. The outside of the burger was slightly crispy and the inside was a nice medley of chickpea, curry and a really delicious tzatziki sauce. Tzatziki is traditionally made with a yogurt base, some dill and cucumber. The flavor is usually really mild. The tzatziki sauce on the burger was a really nice complement to the hint of curry in the burger. I was happy! Curry, tzatziki and chickpeas - all healthy things in my book. The burger was kind of like fluff. Even though it was gluten-free, I only ate half the bun. But I would say that about any starchy food - especially breads/buns. If it doesn't have a lot of nutritional value, I'll take a pass. In this case, I wanted to try it because I have tasted gluten-free buns in the past that were like train wrecks in my mouth. This one passed the test. It really did taste good. Again, just my personal preference to avoid the super starchy stuff.
Even though I didn't taste my husband's burger, he enjoyed his. All burgers come medium well unless requested otherwise. He asked for medium, which I think was a good decision.
Would I go back? Yes! I'll probably give one of the salads on the menu a shot the next time I'm back.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Banana "Nice" Cream made with Buffalo Grove's Futters Nut Butter
If you've ever shopped at Whole Foods, you may have noticed they have signs posted throughout the aisles indicating which foods are produced locally. This is a great (and very convenient) way to try something new - and probably healthy. This week I opted for a nut butter produced by a Buffalo Grove company called Futters Nut Butters. If you're looking for peanut butter, you'll have to look someplace else. According to the Futters Nut Butter website, I saw not one mention of peanuts. But you can find several other nuts, like almond, cashew and the one I choose - hazelnut - on grocery store shelves.
Nut butters are a really healthy addition to yogurt, oatmeal, baked good, or even on their own. The hazelnut butter was really good. It reminded me of Nutella without the chocolate. I decided to make Banana "Nice" Cream with my new nut butter. Inspired by a recipe I foundonWhole Foods' website, I created a modified version of banana ice cream that really turned out great. The flavor of the hazelnuts really came through.
Banana "Nice" Cream
2 Bananas, sliced
1 c Coconut Milk (you can substitute regular milk or almond milk)
2 tbsp Futters Hazelnut Butter
1 tsp Vanilla
In a blender or small bowl, combine all ingredients. With a hand blender or upright blender, puree. Cover and place in freezer. Stir every 45 minutes for 2 to 3 hours. Serve.
Thursday, August 23, 2012 | BOSU Bootcamp at Wicker Park Athletic Club
Julie Bellis, group fitness instructor at Wicker Park Athletic Club walked into Studio 1 at 6:00am on Thursday morning to teach BOSU Bootcamp. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but wanted to take the class because it used the term "energy system." I'm a big fan of energy systems, and have devoted just about every workout I've ever written to intervals. This class combined a series of intervals, while using a BOSU, honing in on energy systems which help your body adapt neurologically and physically to various movements. Pretty cool stuff.
I should have knownthatclasswasgoing to be tough. When "bootcamp" is in the name, it's just never going to be easy. Nonetheless, I arrived early enough for a quick warm up, then headed into the studio, grabbed my BOSU, a couple weights and found a space on the floor. For those of you unfamiliar with BOSUs, they're simply a training product that stands for "both sides up." They're flat on one side, with a blue, dome-like bubble on the opposite side. You can use a BOSU in many of the same ways you can use a step or riser with the added benefit of using the black, flat side to increase stability and balance.
Back in October of 2011, I did a workout at Shred415. It was tough, but I loved it. This workout ranks right up there with the toughness of a Shred workout and the desire to be back. Where the BOSU class didn't have the rock star Woodway treadmills that Shred415 has, Julie made up for it by getting our heart rates up in other ways. Two words: Tuck Jumps. Yes, tuck jumps, my friends. More on that in a bit.
Classstartedwith some quick warm up movements. After the warm up was over, we moved right into a series of movements that focused in on our right leg. Before long, my quads were on fire, I was dripping in sweat and my heart rate was high. The intensity of the workout zoomed past "easy" after about five minutes. With just enough time to give our legs a rest, Julie had us pick up our weights for a series of shoulder, tricepandbicep work. It was time to switch to the opposite side. Everything we did on the right side was repeated, in balance, on the left. Judging by her style of teaching, I knew she was going to save some time for core work. But before we got to that she had us go into a series of tuck jumps. Sixty seconds of tuck jumps to be exact. Two times. You might think, who can't do tuck jumps for one minute? Oh, you can, but after 50 minutes of high intensity intervals, you'll feel every little rebounding inch as your knees work their way back to your chest. At last it was time for core. Using a stability ball, Julie had us do a series of core exercises, including tucks and crunches.
Julie is a great instructor who knows her stuff and I'll definitely be back. As it turns out, Julie is also the Director of Personal Training at inerTRAIN, a company that offers customized virtual training programs for people who are on the go, but want to stay fit.
Want more tips like this? Traci D Mitchell is a healthy living and fitness expert. Follow Traci on Facebook. She’d love to see you there! Interested in working with Traci? She works privately with clients specializes in nutrition coaching and weight loss as well as functional fitness and personal training. All sessions are done via Skype or telephone if outside of Chicago. For more information, contact Traci here.
Looking for a simple way to get into great shape and eat right? Try Traci’s 40-Day Shape Up!