Lakeview's Power Sculpt Fitness, Simplicity in Stability Balls, Ravenswood's City Provisions Cafe and Deerfield's Be Real Cereal

Lakeview's Power Sculpt Fitness, Simplicity in Stability Balls, Ravenswood's City Provisions Cafe and Deerfield's Be Real Cereal

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw

Before I started my project, The Year of Me!, (or if the idea of doing such a project was something I would never have considered in the first place) I would have missed out on so the past few days alone, including a great Lakeview fitness studio that combines TRX training with barre technique, an amazingly delicious and sustainable delicatessen in Ravenswood, a Waukegan-based cereal company that actually makes real food and a couple stability ball exercises I've always told myself I'd do "some other time."

Stability Ball Circle 8s | Friday, August 24, 2012

I'll keep this part of the post short and sweet. I've used stability balls as long as I've been working out. Rarely do I sit on them.  I'm almost alwaysplankedout over them, doing some core exercise, like a pike. There are a couple exercises I've never done, however, but always wanted to try. They're not complicated, but do require quite a bit of abdominal strength. If you're up to it, here is a description of one of the exercises I did:

Stability Ball Figure 8: Bracing through your abs, place both hands on a stability (preferably a well-inflated ball that isn't more than knee-height). Carefully bring both knees over the top of the ball until you're kneeling. Let your hands go and bring your body upright, with your arms out or on your hips. Keep your knees about one foot apart for support. You'll probably want to practice by holding onto something until you get your balance. Once you're able to kneel on a stability ball without tipping over, add in a medicine ball or dumbbell. While balancing on the stability ball, hold the weight overhead and start tracing a figure-8. If you can't manage adding a weight just yet, the work your way up to it by raising your hands overhead. Keeping the ball steady is done through the work of your core. It's a great exercise - albeit a little advanced. If you can get this down, you'll know yourabs are headed in the right direction.

Deerfield-based Cereal Maker: BeReal | Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lately I've been trying to curb my Whole Paycheck Foods habit. I work in nutrition and fitness. I believe whole-heartedly in eating healthy, real foods. Yes, there are healthy foods in every store. Stick to the perimeter of most stores and you'll probably get the healthiest, freshest foods. Start threading your shopping cart in and out of the aisles and your shopping cart will quickly fill up with packaged, processed foods. Whole Foods is certainly no exception. There is a fair share of expensive junk there, too. Regardless, there are a few things I can only pick up at Whole Foods, so that's where I end up from time to time. One other thing I really like about Whole Foods is the emphasis on locally-produced foods. I've talked with local food producers who have told me that each individual store determines which local foods will make it to the shelves. I think that's pretty cool. When I arrived on Saturday, the Northalsted store was filled with local food companies offering samples.  One of the companies that was in the mix was BeReal Cereals.

BeReal Cereals
A Real Cereal with 10 Ingredients & No Added Sugar

Small purple bags were on display in the store next to a tray of freshly-made smoothie and yogurt cup samples. The Deerfield-based cereal company sells a granola-type cereal that is made up of ten whole, healthy ingredients - from steel cut oats to raw pistachios. There is no added sugar, just the ten ingredients. I picked up a bag and gave it a try. I added a serving to a bowl of coconut milk, put a cover on it and left it in the refrigerator overnight. I like to soak anything that has oats in it as it's usually perfect and ready to eatbythe next morning.  By 7am the next day, the cereal had absorbed  most of the milk and looked delicious. I added a little more cinnamon and enjoyed my breakfast.

BeReal'swebsite has a bunch of recipes to try based around the cereal. If you happen to pick up a bag (sold through most local Whole Foods), think about giving them a try.
City Provisions | Sunday, August 26, 2012

How often does this happen to you? It's a rainy Sunday afternoon. (If you're a parent), you've got a kid or two in the back of the car who are really getting hungry. You've got nothing in the kitchen and you're not about to go to the grocery store because a) you're hungry now and b) if you do shop for food hungry, you'll buy regrettable foods. You start driving around, but everywhere you look - from the driver's seat - appears to have a line out the door. Of's Sunday brunch time. (In my case), there's a Cubs game, and traffic is moving insanely slow. Drunk people are pouring out of local bars into the street because there's a rain delay. You drive with extra caution. Your slower speed results in questions from the mouth of a three-year-old in the back seat  like, "Mommy, why are you driving so slow?" You quickly realize the snacks that were holding your kids over have long since disappeared. You start snaking your way through the city, bound and determined to find a new place to eat because you promised yourself no more same-old, same-old. "I have to go to the bathroom!" gets shouted from the peanut gallery in the back. "We'll be stopping very, very soon," you say assuredly.  "I can't wait!" gets shouted back. Then you take a left of Wilson, drive a couple blocks, see an awning with the word "delicatessen" on it and start to slow down.  There is an unmetered parking spot right outside the door, and immediately expect to see a fire hydrant. hydrant. Is this a trick? You stop, look in the windows to see a bustling (but not overly-crowded) crowd enjoying their meals. This is it! "We're eating here." And the rest is history.

I have no idea how I didn't know about City Provisions, which has been around since 2010. Located at Wilson and Wolcott in the Ravenswood neighborhood, City Provisionsis simply good food for your body (and soul). The uniqueness of this restaurantspeaks for itself, from the locally-sourced foods (within a 200-mile radius) to the recycledt-shirt (but very clean) hand towels in the bathroom.

I walked into City Provisions with my two little girls. They were antsy, hungry and in need of a bathroom. I was hungry, too, and felt like I really made the right decision by stopping in. The tables were filled with people enjoying amid-daymeal. After waiting at the door for no more than five seconds, we were told that a table would be ready for us in just a moment. Seated around the corner from the main dining area, a table for three waited for us. As we were seated a noticed a map on the wall that said, "See Where Our food Comes From." All the points on the map indicated nearby towns in Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. I later learned that City Provisions has an in-house butcher whose main focus is producing local, sustainable meats.

City Provisions Food Source Map
Where City Provisions Gets Their Food!

Our server, Eric, mentioned that the menu changes seasonally, or as produce and other items on the menu are available through the region.  It was refreshing to hear that none of the foods we were about to order would be shipped in from thousands of miles away just to make it to our plates. I was told that if anything wasn't sourced locally, its origin had to be totally sustainable.

City Provisions Grilled Vegetable Wrap
Grilled Veggie Wrap from City Provisions

I ordered a grilled vegetable wrap made with red pepper, red onion, eggplant, zucchini, hummus and a balsamic syrup. The combination of hummus and balsamic was delicious, as were the vegetables. I had a chance to meet Cleetus Friedman, chef and owner of City Provisions. He was even nice enough to help cut my daughter's sandwich for her. Thanks! Friedman impressed that local and sustainable food is the lifeblood of the restaurant, which also hosts seasonal Supper Club events. If you're a fan of farm-to-fork events, you should consider participating in the restaurant's farm dinners. While the season is nearly over, one more farm dinner will take place on September 8th. Participants will venture out on a day-long trip to La Pryor Farms in Ottowa via abiodieselbus that takes off at 11am from the restaurant and returns again at midnight. For more information, contact the restaurant at 773-293-2489.

I'll be back to City Provisions again sometime soon. If not to dine in, then to carry out from the deli.

Power Sculpt Fitness | Monday, August 27, 2012

I'm a big fan of TRX, and I've really enjoyed the barre-formatted classes I've taken in the past. When I walked into Power Sculpt Fitness at 3148 N. Lincoln Ave., in Lakeview yesterday to take a TRX/Barre Challenge class, I couldn't wait to get going. Instructed by Power Sculpt Fitness owner, Heather Hughes, the room quickly filled for the 9:45am class.  Each of us stood next to one of the ten TRX suspension systems mounted from the ceiling. If you're unfamiliar with TRX, think of it as a long, very sturdy nylon strap with two handles. Usually mounted to a ceiling, this suspension system allows participants to use his or her own body weight to exercise. If you use the TRX correctly, it makes for a very tough, but effective workout.  Heather kicked off class by having us do a series of lunges, squats and jumps - all using the TRX. Before long, we were moving into a series of upper  body movements, honing in on chest, back, arm and shoulder muscle development. With no rest, each of us made our way to a BOSU that sat about ten feet in front of our TRX. Using the dome side for movements like toe taps, and the flat side for exercises like push ups, our heart rates stayed high.  Back at the TRX again, we went into a different series of exercises, including core and upper body.

Heather Hughes of Power Sculpt Fitness and Traci Mitchell
Power Sculpt Fitness' Heather Hughes & Me

About 40 minutes into the hour-long class, we made our way to thebarre, grabbed a ball and went to work on a series of exercises that recruited every bit of cooperation fromourtush, inner thighs, outer thighs and calves. Moving up and down from heel to toe, and in and outofplie position, it takes very little time to feel the burn of muscles getting longer and stronger. Class wrapped up with a series of mat-based core movements one hour after we started.

Power Sculpt Fitness has numerous class formats in the schedule, ranging from the TRX/Barre challenge I took yesterday to PSF Signature class I plan on taking this Friday (can't wait to see what that's like). Each of the classes is designed to accommodate a smaller amount of people. I really felt like  I was taking a small group, or semi-private training class. Classes at Power Sculpt Fitness are offered on a drop-in basis and range from $7.50 for an individual express class to $15 for a full hour class. Packages are available. An added bonus for busy moms, childcare is also available! If you're interested in taking a class at Power Sculpt Fitness, call 773-802-2602.



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!
















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