A Small Hop Over the Pond

I’ve had the itch to travel for the past couple of months, I had been dreaming of trips and endlessly pinning different vacation spots. My friend and I finally landed on a loose schedule that included round trip tickets to Lisbon and a loose plan to go to Malta for a couple of days. In case you’re curious Malta is quite far from Lisbon:

As you can see, not close

I spent the first couple of days in Lisbon by myself (my friend C was flying in later). I’ve never really traveled by myself before so I was nervously excited to do some solo traveling in Lisbon. After working 7 days a week for the majority of my summer I was looking forward to being able to disconnect and relax ( I slept for the 15 hours the first night! You could say I was tired). I spent the majority of my solo time wandering around Lisbon and exploring as many castles as possible. My second day I took the train from Lisbon to Sintra which is about an hour or so outside of the city and home to several castles. You can take the hop on hop off bus for 7 Euro round trip, which I would recommend since the whole trek is pretty hilly.

I truly loved being in Lisbon, the Portuguese are very friendly and the city is beautiful. My only weirdness was around eating alone, my only experience has been eating food in my hotel room solo during my weekly work travel (exciting I know). I truly ate out once when I was solo in Lisbon, I went to Tapisco (https://www.tapisco.pt/) in the Barrio Alto district, it was delicious. They have a little walk up bar where you can grab a drink while you wait for your table (it’s a bit of a wait). The food was fresh and delicious, and I would highly recommend it!

To break-up our travel time, C and I spent the night in Madrid on our way to Malta. We only had about 5 hours in the city before we had to go to bed to get up for our flight and we headed straight for food! We wasted no time in grabbing a glass of wine at the hotel bar and then heading out to find some paella. We went to this cute place where the owner served us copious amounts of wine and a yellow liquor at the end (still not sure what it was) and of course delicious paella. We left Madrid a little hungover and high on the high that good food gives you.

Our last stop on our Euro tour was the tiny island of Malta. Malta is a small island country in between the southern tip of Italy and the northern coast of Africa; it has a rich history as it has been ruled by a variety of rulers. We spent the majority of our trip in Malta, exploring the capital city of Valletta, the island of Gozo and taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon. Our day trip to Gozo was by far the highlight of our trip. Gozo is the smaller island, it’s more rural and home to some truly beautiful natural sites. We joined an Air BnB tour that took us all around the island to secret spots, it was an awesome day spent in the sun. I love being outside and really miss hiking out west so it was great to spend a day outside exploring.

Our last day we headed over to the Blue Lagoon, which is a small lagoon that has the most beautiful blue water. It’s also a very popular tourist spot, we went during off season but the beach was still quite packed. The beach is a rocky cliff and you can rent lounge chairs that are toward the bottom of the cliff. C and I roughed it up on the top of the rocks, which gave an awesome views but was not super comfortable to nap on. I found a flatish looking rock and spent the afternoon half in sleep and half listening to the multitude of languages around me. It was a perfect last day!

A couple of PSAs when traveling to Malta; the tap water isn’t safe to drink. It won’t kill you but since it doesn’t sit well in your stomach (I learned the hard way). There’s no Uber in Malta and the bus system can be kind of tricky; I would recommend using a cab app or if you feel brave driving.

All in all it was a wonderful trip! The temps just dropped in Chicago and I’m already looking forward to my next trip!

Let me know your travel recommendations!

Row Row Row Your Boat

This past weekend I tried Row House, which as the name implies is a studio that solely dedicated to rowing. The rowing machine has always intimidated me at the gym, mostly because I constantly do it wrong. I’ve always thought it was an upper body work out and I try to pull that thing with all the upper body strength I have (aka none). They explained at Row House that rowing is about 60% legs, 30% abs and 10% arms so not all arms like I previously believed.

I tried the full body work out which consisted of warming up on the rowing machine and alternating between rowing and lifting weights. Once I started rowing I didn’t find it as intimidating as I previously thought. At Row House the goal is to move as one boat, all rowing together. I followed the teacher and tried to match her pace, focusing on form rather than speed (per my dad’s advice). The weight portion focused on all the body parts that I neglect at the gym- meaning chest exercises, the ones you’re supposed to do if you don’t want your boobs to sag to your knees. I left exhilarated and was definitely sore for the next few days.

After class you get an email with your class stats, you can see mine below (not too shabby for a first timer):

I liked the format of the class and even though it was low intensity I felt like I got a good workout in. I will definitely be back!

Have you tried rowing? Let me know!

Alo Leggings and Sky High Yoga

One of my New Years Resolutions was to blog every month right now we’re at once a season and honestly one of my biggest blockers is photos. I’ve been stressing about my photos not being good enough for blog worthy content but I think this one of those shit or get off the pot situations so here we go.

I’m constantly in the search for leggings, I have short legs and thick thighs so finding leggings that fit and don’t fall down is a miracle. I bought a pair of Alo leggings earlier in the fall and I’ve wanted to fall in love with them but despite my best effort I haven’t and here’s why.

Alo makes aesthetically pleasing leggings, they look good on the rack and look good on your legs however it’s rough out there for us short girls. I’m only 5’2″ and most leggings are too long for me so I either bunch them at my ankles or look like I’m a child playing dress up. I bought the crop version of the leggings and they hit almost at my ankles, which means I would have completely have drowned in the normal length. I’m unaware of petite leggings ( if you know, let me know) and for me this is a constant struggle. No one wants the bunched fabric at the ankle, it’s not attractive and although hemming is a thing it frequently cuts off in the wrong spot.

I’m part of the yoga club at my office and we got up bright and early to do yoga on the sky deck of the Sears Tower ( I know it’s called the Willis now, but I refuse to change) I wore my Alo leggings for the occasion. Alo leggings are designed for yoga so in theory they should stay up during a workout, right? Wrong, these leggings constantly roll down, you’re mid downward dog and realize that you’re leggings have slid down and shirt has ridden up so now you’re non-summer body is exposed, it’s not pleasant. For $80+ a pair you’d think they would stay in place but at least for me they slid down.

Here’s my rating for Alo leggings:

4 out of 5 for style: while cute I’m annoyed that I can’t wear the normal length pants and have to wear crops which are a weird length

3 out of 5 for usability: They slide down during every workout I wear them to which is the last thing I want to worry about during work outs

5 out 5 for comfort: overall the fabric is soft and they’re pretty comfortable to run around in

Mid-way Checkpoint

Happy Valentine’s Day! And sorry for the long delay, one of my New Years resolutions was to write a new post at least monthly (so far I’m not doing too great).

New Years is a time where people set goals that they want to achieve for the year, in recent years I have started to set my goals based on my birthday. I write out a list of things that I would like to accomplish before my next birthday, to me turning another year older is more significant than a new year. As this is my half-birthday, here is a quick update on my goals!

Things I’d like to accomplish before turning 28:

  • Buy a Condo or find somewhere I can live for a few years
  • Work on something that I’m passionate about (career change, new project, charity work, etc…)
  • have 20k in savings
  • establish a work out/ healthy eating balance

I bought a condo toward the end of last year! It’s a cute vintage condo right in Lincoln Park! I moved in a few weeks ago and I’m so excited yet it still feels weird to look around and think all this is mine. I’m really excited to decorate and very nervous about anything breaking (I’m not that handy). Being a first time home buyer is both exciting and very confusing, I’m working on a tips and tricks… be on the lookout!

Work on something I’m passionate about: I started this blog, although slow at posting I’m very enthused about the idea and am looking forward to how this develops. I’ve also moved into a new industry at work and am rolling off my current project in the next few months and am so looking forward to a new industry, new teammates and new challenges 🙂

The other two goals are still in progress! As the last one isn’t truly tangible I think it will always be a work in progress and will hopefully improve as I grow.

Anyway I wanted to provide a quick update of where I’m at, and writing down your goals makes you more accountable…

How do you set goals? Yearly? Monthly? And how do you track them after you’ve set them?

Xo

Katie

Searching for Soul

The cult classic, Soulcycle; started in 2006 in New York City it needs no formal introduction. Popular among millennials and trendy moms it was no surprise that my mom took to it. My mom has always been up on the latest trends ranging from Twilight (when it was all the rage) to listening to the EDM music my middle brother enjoys- I know, I know I don’t have a regular mom, I have a cool mom.

But we’ll get into my mom and her fitness journey at another time… back to me and my journey. I have never been a big spin class person, I have always mocked people who get their exercise from spinning a bike in place. As a life long runner, I’ve been like why spin when you can run outside? I have now tried Soulcycle 3 times (clearly I’ve gotten over my snobbery, mostly) and say while not 100% for me I can see the appeal. I have also now tried it on both coasts, my first time with a good friend of mine in New York and twice out here in Seattle with my mom.

If you live under a rock and don’t know what Soul is, here is the basic concept: It’s a candlelit spin class ( I seem to have a theme with taking classes in the dark), you move to the rhythm of the beat with an instructor telling you to adjust resistance and speed based on the move. You’re in a dark room filled with about 40 other people sweating it out with you; no there aren’t boards that post your speed or resistance, which is a blessing. Full disclosure I can barely figure out how the bike works and am perpetually worried that I’m going to fall off a la Amy Schumer in “I Feel Pretty”. This isn’t my first spin class but it’s definitely the one I have liked the most. I have taken classes at the gym where they yell “turn your resistance up to 22/24” and I’m like hey soo I can no longer make the bike move and have to use my hands to push my legs- not encouraging. Soul is different, you set your own resistance and pace. It’s all about you, how hard do you want to push yourself, which is great if your new and have no clue WTF you’re doing or if you’re advanced and want to really crank it out. The instructors are encouraging and are right in there with you. This morning in class she came by and said “you’re doing amazing”- honestly it was what I needed to push me to finish the last bit of class. I finished the class thinking damn straight I am a bad ass. Yet I cannot get my feet to unhook from the pedals; I’m that person who has to leave their shoes behind. My mom and I didn’t ride next to each other today, and now I’m starting to see why….

Soul is a great workout, it gets your heart rate going and as far as the actual biking portion it’s relatively easy to keep up with the class. Where it gets tricky is you do push-ups on the handlebars and other abs moves, and you’re supposed to move at the same flow as the rest of class. My first class I was very confused and I think I asked my friend post class if I was missing something. Short answer, yes. You use various handlebar positions to do different pushups to get your upper body engaged in class. As I was doing the pushups on my bike this week, I thought is this going to support my weight? Or am I going to pitch forward into the person next to me? My mom informed me that the bikes are nailed into the ground, but I’m still a little worried.

All in all it’s a fun workout, it’s challenging without being overwhelming and the instructors are friendly. Their goal is to create a community, they ask you your name and have you high five your neighbor. I could definitely feel the community vibe coming out of class again. While I’m still not a spin person, I would definitely do class a few more times

My mom and I are wearing matching Soul shirts, she’s the real deal. I’m just a poser

Have you tried Soul? Or other spin classes? Let me know what you think!

XO

Katie

Finding a Ritual

What is Ritual yoga? And what sets it apart from all the other yoga studios in the sea?

Ritual offers a new spin on yoga, the class is set to the beat of the music vs the traditional flow. The class starts off with a meditation, leading into some warm up moves and then into abs (these hurt- but also I’m like, heyyy abs nice to see you), after some brutal abs you move into a short flow followed by a peak pose and a long flow. The class is truly candle lit, your only light is the little candle glowing in front of you. There’s something about being hidden in the darkness that makes yoga better- personally I’m not the best yogi and I like the illusion that people can’t see me. Real talk, they can 100% see me, I just assume that everyone is too focused on their own yoga.

Ok, so what makes the studio different from Corepower? Both are hot, and involve similar moves (I’m not a yoga expert could not tell you the differences I’m just on my own journey to being flexible). Ritual is a vibe, each week there is an intention that sets the mood for class. The teacher talks about the intention at the beginning of classes and brings it back to the intention throughout class- each teacher putting their own personal spin on it. As someone who hasn’t been practicing yoga for a long time, I didn’t feel completely like an imposter going to class. The studio is warm and welcoming and you feel right at home when you walk in.

I did a 10 day unlimited trial with Ritual, for $50 they offer a 10 day unlimited yoga trial and a free personal lesson. I did 9/10 days and felt very zen afterwards. I went to their hip-hop throwback jams with a new friend from work- it was a fun shakeup to traditional yoga class.

As this is my first workout review, bear with me this ranking system could change as I get better.

Workout Rating (everything is out of 5 stars):

Level of sweat: 4.5- you will definitely get sweaty in this class, and feel like you’ve detoxed. You hold some positions for longer than others so you’ll feel your muscles shake. Each pose has a different level so you’ll be able to find an adjustment that works for you.  The challenge comes from being in the dark, it’s harder to balance and some of the moves are difficult.

Teacher: 4- Generally the teachers are great and are easy to follow. They don’t demo every move which can make it hard to follow along. There is an assistant in every class that demos and offers hands on assists which is super helpful

Studio Vibe: 5- Ritual started in San Fransisco so it gives off a chill west coast vibe.  It’s an all amenity studio so everything is included (towels, mats, water, etc). The staff is friendly and make you feel at home when you walk in. They also have a beauty bar with hair dryers, which makes hustling to work right after 6am class super easy.

To learn more about Ritual click here: https://ritualhotyoga.com/

Have you tried Ritual? Let me know!

What is “All-Chi”?

What is “All-Chi”? Is it “chi” like the yoga meaning of peace or “chi” like Chicago? If you thought either, you are correct. I am a Chicago native so the “chi” means Chicago as well as I’ll be reviewing workouts/ workout gear it also means “chi” as in the yoga chi. The “all” is “all-inclusive” meaning I’m going to try to showcase as many different body types as possible- everyone deserves to feel good in when they’re getting their sweat on, so I’m going to try to curate a list for you.

So where did this weird nugget of an idea come from?

Last year I ran the Chicago marathon and I was looking for a sports bra that would get the girls across the finish line. I wanted something that was cute yet supportive and that my size 32DDD boobs (sorry mom, now the internet knows my bra size). Sounds simple? Nope. I tried on countless sports bras none that really gave the support or aesthetic I was looking for. I could go full support and feel like a matron or go low support and know that my tatas would never make it across that finish line without feeling like they went through an MMA match.  For some reason they don’t just make sports bras that are like your normal bra size, you can’t go into the workout aisle, find your bra size and be done. Every company has a different way of sizing that even when you think you’ve lined it up right it still doesn’t quite fit right.

I figured that I can’t be the only girl who struggles with this, so I created this blog. I’m going to try to give you a cheat sheet of which brands are great for each body type, so you can feel like a million bucks whether you’re getting ready to run a marathon or to Starbucks for a PSL…