Preparing to Relax… the Au-Naturel Way

I’m going to Greece this week.

It’s a much anticipated trip.  Not only because I’m heading to a foreign nation I’ve never been to (love this), but because…. I need a vacation.

I’m sure some (most?) can relate.

I need to stop and smell the Greek wine, detach the laptop from my body, and stop checking my cell phone (see previous post).

I think island hopping in Greece with friends might just do the trick.

In order to prepare for my very own Greek odyssey, I’ve spent the past few weeks crossing things off my prepare-for-Greece-list.

Obviously priority one is healthy-er eating in preparation for B.I.P. (bikini immersion program).

I know what you’re thinking…. detox during first weeks of gorgeous summer weather… impossible.

It’s a challenge I’ve taken on.

I still attended every BBQ, roof-top party and tater-tot-loving day-drinking event.  I’ve also managed to tone it down (pun intended) and flush the body out in preparation for serious vacationing.

How did I do it?

Simple.

By substituting meals where I wasn’t involved in potato skins eating contests with all natural and clean home-cooking.  And when I say all natural, I don’t mean it in the way that grocery-store companies mean it when they write “all natural chicken” on the front of the packaging.  (Because honestly – what in the world is non-natural chicken?  Do I even want to know?)

When I say all natural, I mean non-processed.   These are meals that have no chemicals, substitutes or fake sugars.

I’ve chosen to use this post to show a couple of things I’ve been eating over the past few weeks.  It’s left me feeling cleansed.

1)     Simple salad with home-made lemon vinaigrette dressing

salad

I took this idea from Andie’s blog.  I stumbled upon this mecca of healthy food ideas many months ago and continue to check back in often.  One of the posts a couple weeks ago caught my eye.  It was simple, easy to make and left me craving more leaves and veggies.

Who could ask for more?

The recipe can be found here.  I tweaked it since I forgot to buy avocado and instead used shaved raw brussel sprouts and miniature heirloom tomatoes.

For me, the most important part of the salad is the dressing.  Often times I find that once I’ve added my favorite veggies to a salad, I inevitably want to drown them in ranch dressing.  Andie’s recipe for lemon vinaigrette is delicious and satisfies the craving.

2)     Home-made red pepper hummus

hummus

One of my friends loves to make hummus and recently tried adding in her own mixture of veggies.  I decided to add this to the list.  As a pairing with the salad, I made my own hummus from scratch.  It took about 10 minutes total and tasted delicious.

In order to make this, I purchased a small food processor for about $11.00 on Amazon (truth) and bought/compiled/fetched the following ingredients:

  • 1 can of chick peas (16 oz)
  • 1 can of tahini paste (1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 2 lemons (for freshly squeezed lemon juice) (3-5 tablespoons)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (2 tablespoons)
  • Sea salt/pepper (to taste)
  • 1 organic red pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup liquid from chick pea can

Combine all ingredients leaving the chickpea liquid from can for the end.

The result was delicious and once again… had completely clean and healthy ingredients.

I paired this with some baked chicken and the salad above.

3)     Juice

The last thing I want to share is the juicing portion.  My friends hear me talk about juicing all the time (sorry guys).  Last year a friend gave me a juicer for my birthday and I’ve been juicing my heart out ever since.  It takes about 5 minutes to make a delicious veggie and/or fruit juice and about 5 more minutes to rinse the parts clean.

A juice can supplement breakfast or a day-time snack.  My favorite juices for the morning:

  • Kale, carrot, green apple, lemon
  • Kale, cilantro, strawberry, apple, lime

I’ve enjoyed putting in extra effort to eat clean over the past couple of weeks.  It’s been uplifting.  I find that half the battle in the detox is the mental game anyway.

Eating well makes you feel Awesome.

The “Me Me Me Generation”

time magazine

Time Magazine; May 20, 2013

This post was inspired by last weeks’ Time cover article.

It’s been on my mind for about a week…

At this point, I believe I’ve just about heard it all when it comes to the infamous Generation Y (of which I am a proud member).

Nevertheless, the topic continues to intrigue me.

And since Time has decided to get the world talking about it, I’ve taken a moment to dig through my thoughts.

Yes, the things said about my generation aren’t always the most positive.  For those that have yet to read this gem, let me give you the CliffsNotes: we are reportedly “lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow.”  Our incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is akin to an army of Kim Kardashian clones, we are more likely to find friendship with same-age kids from foreign nations than our own grandparents and apparently walk around looking confused on account of phantom phone vibrations.  And of course, we are known to take an alarming number of photos of ourselves. (I’m not denying any of this).

All this said, the article was actually geared, uncharacteristically, to a point in the complete and opposite direction:

Millennials are an adapted generation that might be the “new greatest generation” that will “save us all.”

Alright.

Even I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

But maybe not?

A quick summary of presented arguments: Gen Y embraces authority in a way that Gen X never did and never will.  We are cautious about life decisions, are increasingly innovative and are generally “nice.”  Above all, we’re strangely optimistic.

Although one can probably (easily) argue both sides, I’m going to take the latter stance on this one.

From my personal experiences:

The notion of “peer-enting” has never rung truer than in my own life.  My parents (and their friends self-admittedly), Gen X-ers who grew up in a “because mama and papa said so” world, have raised my siblings and I differently.  Where my mom wasn’t allowed to take swimming lessons because grandma preferred piano lessons, I was encouraged to explore my interests to my heart’s content.  We were respected as little people.  My parents cultivated relationships with us that made us feel like we were on the same level.  We were told we could be anything and achieve anything.  Before my mom passed away, I considered her a friend, called her daily and felt that phoning her to give updates on my dating life was absolutely normal (necessary).  These days poor papa is handling the daily relationship woes and triumphs of two girls.

Not surprisingly, my peers and I view authority differently.  In fact, as the article points out, we embrace them.  I believe the way I was peer-ented has enabled me to build strong relationships with leaders at work that far surpass the big guy-little guy chain-of-command hostility my parents grew up with.  I think it makes the work environment stronger and more fulfilling.

Secondly, an incredible amount of my friends are starting their own companies, innovating and creating new tools.  Just in the past week, I’ve looked at a friend’s new idea to revolutionize the availability of Wi-Fi with a company called Spark, downloaded an app a friend created that puts friends in touch by showing what others are “doing tonight,” met a friend of a friend working on a new popular start-up called SceneTap and caught up with a friend who founded a company that hand-crafts candles in Bali called Volcanica Candles.

I’m seeing less lazy and a lot more action these days.  You want to talk about the economy going down…  I think my peers are doing something about it… at an inspirational rate.

And lastly, unlike the generations before ours, we are not making grand life decisions on the fly.  Or as I see it: because we have to.  The heavy divorce rate and debt bubble rose out of the baby-boomer generation.  People got married because it was expected by a certain age and they bought a white picket fence and a house (whether they could afford it or not) because it was the American dream (and the bank handed out loans like candy apparently).  Not anymore.  I’m surrounded by twenty-somethings who are dating for years before deciding to take the plunge, getting married in their late 20s/30s and are purchasing white picket fences with money they actually have.

Maybe this article is right…

And millennials will do great things in the face of current economic and political adversity.

That would be Awesome.

Improv Shows and Musical Performances

tall heights

Recently, I’ve had the chance to support friends while they pursue their passions.

These friends, although practicing different crafts, have one main thing in common: the stage.

While visiting New York this month, the stars aligned and I got the chance to watch a close friend perform in a stand-up improv comedy show, something she had wanted to do all her life (in pursuit of being Tina Fey).

As someone who is well-versed in “performance,” I can honestly say that it’s hard enough to get up in front of others with a planned routine, let alone with nothing planned and people screaming from the audience.  Not surprisingly, friend was super nervous and had purchased a new wardrobe in anticipation of the night (great calming tactic).

I did my part by bringing my most inappropriate friend.

After waiting like anxious teenagers at our first concert and feeling nervous (!), we were finally seated and prepared to laugh our buns off courtesy of an improv troupe in which friend was taking part.

The troupe worked off each other and between sketches, the host requested that the audience yell out scenarios.

Friend busied himself with sexual innuendos while I yelled out everything that came to mind (finally, an activity where my lack of filter is rewarded).

Where should they be?  Pool!  First date!  Yacht!  Roller derby!  Naked in hot tub!  Naked in the ocean!  Naked on an island!   What life moment are they in?  Kindergarten!  Teenagers at prom!  Losing their virginity!

Some great things resulted, including my favorites: a play on “Stacy’s mom” having it going on and a girl who was in the gospel choir until she realized that everyone was sleeping with each other.

Friend held her own and produced some excellent comedy.

I was astounded.

This inspirational event lead to another when I was given the opportunity to see a good friend perform while on tour.

Paul and Tim have been touring as part of a two-person duo known as Tall Heights since college.

During our decade-long friendship, I have heard these two discuss their goals in pursuing their musical dreams and work hard to make that dream a reality.

When I found out I was in the right place at the right time, I did everything I could to make it to their show.

Yes, I was in a bar wearing pink leg warmers and had just finished skating practice, but it was worth it.

They sounded incredible.  The dynamic friendship between them was evident and inviting.  The words had some real meaning.

Tall Heights released a new album this week called Man of Stonewith a video debut on the Conan O’Brien website.

Both performances left me excited for my friends, proud and inspired.

Turns out watching your friends follow their dreams is pretty… Awesome.

The Running Path

chicago path

I started running outside this week.

As mentioned in previous posts, I really started running last year.  Previous to that time, I ran because I was a) forced by figure skating coaches b) wanted to beat my brother c) wanted to beat the boys in gym class (this is true).

As I’ve matured (loose term), running has become a great way to get in a short workout, be outdoors and push my competitive needs.

Ever since I moved to the Windy City, all I’ve heard about is the famed lakefront path.

This is no exaggeration and I have a sneaky suspicion that anyone who has spent more than 35 minutes in Chicago will attest to this.  I have heard about running outdoors by the lake from my dad (he was on a work assignment in Chicago once…decades ago), from former co-workers overseas and from friends who spent a hot second doing an internship out in the Miwest.

This week I got to experience it for myself.

Chicago enjoyed warm temperatures for a whole 72 hours.  And I took advantage.

I mapped out a course and figured out how to cross the lakeshore highway (tricky underground tunnels!).

I set out running through the streets, meandered through heavy traffic on Michigan Ave and finally made it to the path where my fellow runners were.

I joined the rhythm of the other runners, turned up the volume on David Guetta’s Night of Your Life and aimed for North Avenue Beach.

Running right along the sand and the lake with no guard rail is an experience.  It reminded me of why I loved lake Michigan so much as a child and why I love it so much now: it looks like an ocean.

When I reached the tip of the bay where the beach curves and sets out in the other direction, I stopped running and turned around.

The view was incredible.

Awesome.

chicago