Whole Holiday Gift Ideas with Whole Foods

If you’re like most peeps, you have a bevy of holiday partays, gift exchanges and soirees to attend to in the next few weeks.  So what if you need to bring a gift or a tasty treat to your event?  You could make several stops or…you could go to Whole Foods!  Yah we know, for us with low account balances, Whole Foods may seem a bit intimidating.  But we were pleasantly surprised to learn some new developments at Whole Foods this past week at a tour of their River North headquarters.  As we walked from room to room we delighted in the holiday goodies.  In no particular order, here are some Holly Jolly Holiday ideas from Whole Foods.

DIY Gifts

Did you know Whole Foods is a DIY hot spot?  If you have a crafty side, you have all you need to develop a relaxing bath salt, tantalizing sugar scrub, or soothing lip gloss by snooping through Whole Foods’ beauty and bulk section.

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Beauty

On our tour, we created our own Epsom salts by mixing 3 cups of salt with essential oil and flower choices.  We picked the eucalyptus oil (as cold season is on the rampage right now) and calming lavender oil (cuz the holiday traffic is making us pull out our hair.  Then we threw in some bright yellow dried calendula flowers (a relative to chamomile), lavender buds, light pink Himalayan salt, and some crinkly red rose petals.

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Floral

Who says the poinsettia is the only petal you can gift?  The Whole Foods Headquarters arranged a flower bar for guests to create holiday bouquets.  Pluck some deep red and purple buds, add some baby’s breath, and grab a cute mason style jelly jar for presentation.  You can feel charitable about your choice too.  Whole Foods carries fair trade and organic flowers as well as Veriflora Certified flowers (Veriflora certification indicates better working conditions such as no child labor, fair hiring practices, and access to education, healthcare and other needed services).

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Life of the Party

You all know that thing where you’re at a party and everyone is talking around the food set up?  Party food can make or break a soiree.  Stopping by a gathering?  Whole Foods produce, bakery, and cheese departments all offer unique and most talked about treats.  Our favorite cheeses at the gathering were the truffle stuffed camembert (a soft, creamy french cow cheese with a layer of tasty fungus…yes that’s a truffle, weird right?) and a pyramid shaped goat cheese.  In the bakery section, we delighted in gluten free and vegan options like a rice flour crust blackberry pie and the banana hazelnut vegan cupcake from local cupcake purveyor, Swirlz.  And on the non-semi healthy side of things, the gigantic Carol’s cookie was so fresh and chocolately and big enough to feed your whole family.  Or be the angel of the party, bring a fresh fruit tray and rejoice on your savings.  Whole Foods has heard our wallet cries and is now setting out to price their produce on par with competitors like Marianos and Jewel-Osco.

Hosting your own get together?  Lazy it up with Whole Foods catering and wow your guests with gruyere and spinach stuffed mushrooms, ripe guacamole, or ethnic goodies like spanakopita, a greek stuffed phyllo dough appetizer.

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Swirlz Cupcake – Vegan Peppermint Chocolate

Feeling inspired?  Go out there with confidence and shop, dear friends, and impress those peeps with your Whole Foods Holiday swag.

Pure Barre Lincoln Park: Fit Review

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10 brave women made it out in the cold after a appetizer, sides, and pie holiday to get their fitness on this past Sunday at our first ever private Chiorganic Girls class at Pure Barre Lincoln Park, an admirable feet given the tendency to want to sleep off the lingering food coma.  We were grateful for our motivation to attend as we got a kick a*@ workout that toned and tightened to reset the good habits and prepare us for the back to work grind.

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Lincoln Park Pure Barre is a brand new workout hot spot that just opened November 4th.  Ashley Gertz, owner of the newly opened Pure Barre in Lincoln Park, opened the location because of her personal love of barre classes and keen business sense.  She welcomed our group with a tour and an overview of what Pure Barre has to offer.  Ashley, a former marathoner and avid runner, found that cardio didn’t promote toning and strength so she joined the River North Pure Barre and was hooked.

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Marguerite, our teacher, gave us the overview of common moves of Pure Barre and then we got cracking with an immediate plank set (WHYYY??).  Bubbly pop music as well as giggles from class participants offset the strenuousness of the miniscule muscle movements.  We rolled through abs, arms, legs and ended with (sigh*) more abs and a bridge set to tense up the tush.

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After class, we took our shaky legs to the lobby area for complimentary Kashi and Luna snack bars as well as raffle for 2 lucky participants.

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And now, we are sore…very pleasantly “can’t walk up the stairs so well” sore, evidence of a real workout.  Wanna check it out?  Pure Barre Lincoln Park offers new students a very affordable unlimited month of classes for $99.  If you join now, you can also compete in the Jingle Tuck challenge (15 classes in 30 days) for prizes and the ultimate win, a retreat at a spa in Arizona.

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Free Workout Class at Pure Barre to trim those turkey thighs!!

Usually the idea of wiggling into a pair of hot pink leggings on the Sunday after Thanksgiving to go workout may not be so tempting but when it’s for FREE!?  We’re so excited…and we just can’t hide it!  On November 30 at 5 pm, we would like to invite you, dear reader, to don your sticky bottomed socks and long pants to tuck and trim your tush at a private class at Pure Barre, Lincoln Park!

GO US!!

Hmmm…but what are you committing to with this “Pure Barre” class?  

During this 55 minute class, you will experience a full body low impact workout including strength based movements alternating with stretching.  Most moves involve using your own body weight with tiny movements to change the shape and length of your muscles.  The class incorporates the ballet barre, small 2 to 3 pound weights and a rubber workout ball.  The goal is the lengthen the muscles to create a lean (not bulky) look…and yes, you will do some planks.

And what do you have to do to join us?

Send us 1,000 dollars worth of unmarked bills in a nondescript envelope to secure your spot. JK follow the instructions below.

What: Private Chiorganic Girls Holiday Trim Those Turkey Thighs Class

Where: Pure Barre, 2058 N. Halsted, Lincoln Park, IL

When: 5 pm, Sunday, 11/30/2014

Who: You lovelies!

Dress Code: Long workout pants or capris, socks (no shoes needed)…oh and of course, wear a top please

Sign Up?  RSVP here with you and any guests names.  Please let us know, as well, if you decide to cancel. There are 23 spots available.

 

Now you can feel good about stuffing yourself (in moderation) with your family.  Meet us at the BARRE!

Fit Food Delivery with Factor 75

Does anyone feel a small scream in their throat when they see Christmas decorations coming out the day after Halloween?  Yep, it’s the kickoff to the whirlwind holiday season, that season of cookies and brownies and parties. And soon enough, our thighs are looking like those gigantic turkey legs that people get at county fairs.  When you’re busy, how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Well your own personal in-house chef works…if you’re Beyonce.  If you aren’t channeling your inner rich chick, however, there are some options to keep you eating well.  Thankfully, the trend of meal deliveries has flown into our lives and we are gobbling up the idea!  This past week, we got to try Factor 75.  So what factors would make you choose them as opposed to another meal delivery service?

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Eating healthy could not be easier. https://www.factor75.com/

1) Options!  You don’t have to sit on Santa’s lap to get what you wish for with Factor 75.  Everybody loves options, especially those with more restrictive dietary needs.  When we checked in to pick our food, it was easy to balance our different desires.  We chose 2 vegetarian meals, 2 gluten free meals and one snack.  Factor 75 hooks up almost any eater with paleo friendly, dairy free, vegetarian and gluten free possibilities.  Factor 75 has also partnered for Aritzone and sources local ingredients so you can not only eat clean, but with a clean conscience.

2) Ease!  Who doesn’t need a break from shopping cart collisions and entertaining long lost cray relatives?  Your Factor 75 meals are cooked up by a chef, delivered by a nice FedEx person right to your door, and all you do is heat those puppies up and eat.  Can we also mention no washing dishes either?!  *High Five*

3) Holiday looove!  Remember that dude you only dated through New Years?  Factor 75 is low commitment.  Try 5 meals and if you aren’t feeling it, you cancel.  If you like it, continue that relationship til’ Easter!

 

What did we eat, tho?

Kate’s Foods

The spicy paleo meatballs, made from grass-fed beef, had a hint of cinnamon that made them stand out from a boring ol’ chunk of meat.  They came with a side of brussel sprouts, cooked with celery root and mushrooms in a brown butter sauce.  The meal was hearty, quick to heat up and kept me full until a late dinner.Downloads6

The chicken sausage with apple and pumpkin hash and a frittata was my second dish.  The chicken sausage and hash were tasty but the frittata was just ok.  I think it’s because I don’t like reheated egg that much (personal problem!).

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Monica’s Foods

Sometimes I wake up late and don’t have time make my own breakfast (hitting the alarm clock for that “5 more minutes”). That’s where Factor 75 comes in handy with super goji berries mixed in steel cut oatmeal with cinnamon spice.   I’m not used to steel cut oats so I added a lil’ more sweetness with brown sugar.  Of course, you need a bit need protein to survive the workday so a hard boiled egg is included as well.

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After work is over and I finish yoga class and my health coaching program homework, I have no time to cook but (yay) my Factor 75 dinner menu is sitting in my fridge.  The vegetarian dinner option I selected was Southwest Quinoa bowl with mixed beans (black, white, pinto & kidney), red onions, cilantro and mashed sweet potatoes were hidden on bottom with sides of cheddar cheese and a chipotle aioli.

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Shared goodies (Holidays are about sharing, yeah?):

The superfood bites were healthy and tasty super stars with chia, flax, cacao nibs, coconut, oats, honey, and applesauce. Hey buddy, these were way better than a crappy fruit cake!

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Are you ready to take a break from the cooking grind?  Try Factor 75 here, and when you purchase 4 meals, get a free meal on us (see, we like to give!) when you sign up using the code “CHIORGANICGIRLS” as well as a free healthy Ebook with tons of tips.  Let us know what you think too! We would love to try a few more recommended meals (maybe the autumn stuffed acorn squash or butternut squash lasagna…hint, hint) to save us some time after standing in those Black Friday lines.

Happy munching!

Food Goodies at the Green Festival

As we become more and more aware of the limited resources our earth has, the idea of being green has continued to take a front seat in our minds.  But what can we do to become more conscious consumers?  How about attend a whole festival dedicated to green lifestyles?

I recently attended the Green Festival at Navy Pier and discovered new tasty treats from eco-friendly companies.  With over 20,000 people attending each of the 3 festival days, the Green Festival had a ton to offer.  My friend and I only explored the food section which represents about one quarter of the vendors present.  So here is the best of the best of the yummy samples we tried.  Save your appetite for this event next year!

 

 

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Explore Asia authentic gluten free noodles, Vitamix, Food for Life Black Beans tortillas, Daiya vegan cream cheese, NessAlla kombucha, Ginny Bakes cookies, 2 Degrees snack bars, and Beanfields chips

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Goodies and Coupons

#Run10Feed10 First 10k Run Recap!

This past Sunday, I ran my first 10k with Run 10 Feed 10 and Women’s Health…and boy are my gams tired!  I did it!  And next time, I’m dragging Monica to run with me.  My popular co-blogger had yet another wedding to attend that day.

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And what did I learn from the fab event?  For those of you moving from 5ks to the next step up, know that it is possible to be ready in 4 weeks!  This is coming from someone who used to hate running.

Amateur 10K tips:

1) Don’t stress!  There was plenty of people walking and taking breaks.  Your first 10k should be enjoyable and don’t feel guilty if you have to pause to catch your breath.

2) Get enough sleep.

Ya’ll know Halloween is coming, yeah?  So I had a lil pumpkin carving party the Saturday eve before and maaaybe stayed up a bit too late.  You need your full body strength to be at optimal performance so go to bed on time!

3) But not too much sleep.

Ok, so rookie mistake.  My anxiety got away with me and while I woke up at 5:30 am, I went back to sleep until 7:30 and then had to pull a Ferris Beuller’s day off and ramp myself into my workout clothes and on to the highway to get to the start line 5 minutes after the race started.

4) Take in the scenery

Running outside in Chicago is a treat (no tricks here).  Other than dodging goose poo in a small section, the race jaunted along the picturesque Chicago lakefront.  The continually varied foliage and fauna…oh and the Grub Hub running team with their hotdogs and turkey shaped hats…is way more interesting than staring at the wall while on the treadmill.

5) Revel in your results (and the after party)!

My time wasn’t super fast but I have gained about 2 minutes of speed since I first started running.  Women’s Health put together a sweet after event with a post race yoga, free post race fuel (Nestle Choco Milk, Bagels and fruit), atheltic massages and beauty touch ups from Panasonic.  I was surprised to see Allison Sweeney of Biggest Loser there as well.  She gave out the post race awards.  None of which I won.  Maybe some day!

Thanks to Women’s Health for allowing me to contribute to this spectacular event.

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Quick and Easy Superfood Breakfasts

Superfoods are all the rage right now but why shouldn’t they be?  They are super after all, super at making your body feel spectacular.  In a world of fast food, we’re all in need of healthy heros like Sambazon!

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The brand Sambazon focuses on fair trade, non GMOs and sustainability of the cute lil acai superberry.  We recently tasted two of their acai breakfast (or any time of day, for that matter) options and simply swooned over their hunger pang crushing powers.

The first sample was the chocolate, almond and coconut milk protein smoothie.  Lactose issue folks and vegans can rejoice over this tasty drink containing 8 grams of vegan protein to get the day started.  We are a big fan of coconut milk as it adds a rich touch that makes the drink feel decadent.

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The second option, Acai Berry Superfood Smoothie Packs, breaks down to the bare essence of the superfood, fair trade organic acai berry pulp, in a convenient frozen ready to blend serving.  We love to make green smoothies to get a pop of spinach or kale in the morning and incorporated the pack into our easy and quick green recipe with coconut water, spinach and blueberries.

Monica & Kate’s Super Samba Greenie:

  • Take 1 cup coconut water (like Zico or Vita Coco) and put in a magic bullet or blender.
  • Add a smattering of blueberries, handful of spinach and half a superfood smoothie pack and viola!

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Your not too sweet not too sour SUPER green smoothie has been created!

Like the Sambazon Protein Smoothie but wanna make your own version?

Monica and Kate’s Fake Out Samba Protein Smoothie:

  • 1 cup Coconut-Almond blend milk
  • 1 packet Samanazon Acai superfood smoothie pack
  • 1/2 cup frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (like Ghirardelli)

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Voila!  3 breakfast options to break from your egg and granola routine.  Ready to get in touch with your inner champion?  You can find Sambazon at oh so many retailers like Marianos, Jewel-Osco, Whole Foods, Walgreens and even (*gasp*) Walmart!  They are everywhere :).

Jump Away Calories at Sky Zone

Ok 80’s babies, sing it with us.  Sky Zone will make you “Jump, Jump”!  Yes, now Kris Kross is in your head, suckers.

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We had the distinct pleasure of bounding on over to a trampoline haven at the newly opened Sky Zone in Elmhurst, IL, our Chicago neighbor to the West.  Jump-a-whaaa?  It’s basically a warehouse full of tramps (the hoppy kind, people) set up for your child-like nature…and children, if you have them, of course.

When we arrived, we felt a little nervous about the thought of trampling small children with our lack of coordination as we saw them running into the building.  Sky Zone has a pretty sweet set up, however, to make sure adults and kids leap with ease.  Sky Zone has scheduled jump times to reduce crowding and several jump arenas with different activities.

So what ya do when you get there?

First, we signed a online waiver, grabbed our cute pink sky socks (in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month) and stopped by the snack bar to get some water.

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Jump Tip #1: You don’t need to pay for water.  There are water fountains (uh duh, why didn’t we look earlier?).  There is no slushie fountain, though, so you will need to pay for that Blue Rasberry Slushie craving you have.

We started our jumpsperience at FOAM ZOOOOONE with some very inept flips into a big pile of orange and blue foam cubes.  There’s a monitor in each area directing flip traffic so you can belly flop, front flip, or just slide down the trampoline on your face into the pit…as one of us did (heheheh).

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Jump Tip #2: Wear Jump appropriate clothing.  Half shirts, low riding pants and thong panties may be a bit too revealing as you claw your way depths of foam helllll.  Seriously, its a struggle getting out of those cubes!

Next, we moseyed over to the open jump dome and were surrounded by all ages of jumpers.  The coolest aspect about open jump is that its organized chaos.  The dome is divided into personal trampoline squares so jumpers can have their own private trampoline dreams without being tackled by a fellow participant.  As we jumped back and forth between each other’s squares, we noticed how dang hard trampolining is.  We burned calories, sweat and didn’t even feel like we were working out until our legs revealed their shaky nature once we left the dome.

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Jump Tip #3: If you use the Sky Zone lockers, put your key somewhere safe!  Ours jumped right out of our pocket and left us with a $10 locker key replacement fee.

Finally, we tried out WNBA aspirations at Sky Slam, the Slam Dunk section.  One of us, the tall one with hops aka Monica, enjoyed the area, while the other, the shortie, got kicked out for trying to dunk in the kids line.  Kate can’t slam dunk and now it’s been proven by cold hard evidence.

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Sky Zone visitors can try their hand (or legs) at Ultimate Dodgeball.  We just didn’t feel like getting smacked in the face by 8 year olds so we skipped out.  Fitness classes are also available for those who want a dedicated low impact/high calorie workout without all the rug rats running about.

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Final Jump Tip:

Sky Zone is affordable (fitness classes are only $10 and open jump is $15), fun and will make you fit!  Check out the class schedule and open gym times here and hop to it!

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Experience the Great Outdoors (sans bears) with REI!

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Yo, did you notice the leaves are changing color and the Chi temp is dropping?  Yup, Fall is falling on us.  Relaaaaaax….you don’t have to hibernate just yet.  Fall is an awesome time to get in touch with your naturalist side (and not your running naked down the street naturalistic side, mmk).  It’s not sweatingly hot and Mr. Misquito is making his retreat which makes this season a lot more pleasant for outdoor adventures.

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Two weeks ago, we got the opportunity to take a lil’ hiking roadtrip, aptly titled Hikes and Hops, to Matthieson State Park and Starved Rock Lodge with the Chicago REI Outdoor School.  For those of you who don’t catch fish with your bare hands, REI is a leading seller of outdoor goods but also does outreach to help us city dwellers up our survival skills.

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First, all class members got treated to the eye opening induction of Starbucks coffee and snacks as we got organized outside the Lincoln Park REI store.  The class maxed out at 10 people which was an intimate way to get to know other group members.  Our REI guides, Marisa and Chuck, were friendly fitness enthusiasts.  Both teach stand up paddleboarding in the summer and Marisa also leads SUP yoga.  As we took the relaxing 1.5 hour ride in a comfy blue 12 passenger van towards Ottawa, IL, Chuck and Marisa told us fun facts about the area and shared wildlife books to prepare us for the resident park creatures.  Luckily gators aren’t native Central Illinois-ans.

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Once we got to Mathissen State Park, we made formal intros and did a circle share of what we wanted from the day.  Most group members echoed wishes for beautiful weather and animal sightings.  We were treated to both!  During our 70 degree day, we meandered past waterfalls and sandstone cliffs.  We saw frogs and toads (Marisa’s toad sighting wish was granted) while in the company of a diverse bunch of travellers, including a college professor/amateur astronomer, book reviewer/yoga teacher and systems manager/geologist.  Needless to say, we had really stimulating conversation, some which centered around how to manage a zombie apocolypse as we trekked through the quiet woods.

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Mid day we ended up at the bottom of the lower vale and explored some hidden cove type areas.  Our guides then busted out a machete (or maybe it was just a kitchen knife) and skillfully ninja-ed up a watermelon and fancy cheddar cheese for us to munch on.

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On the last leg of the day, the scenary changed and we entered a lulling prairie with yellow butterflies and waving native grasses.  We embraced the quiet moments of the trip as well as our surroundings lended themselves to reflection and private thoughts.

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At the end of our hike, we were treated to entrees and drinks at the Starved Rock Lodge, hence the Hops came into play.  We split a tasty helping of  panko breaded avocado fries with a spicy red chimi sauce before our main meal.  Monica picked a light and fluffy mushroom polenta while Kate ate a BBQ pulled pork with crispy waffle cut sweet potato fries.  Even with all that hiking, we were so full we had to skip out on the homemade ice cream and possibility of flourless chocolate cake.

So we can tell you are feeling slightly jealous of our beautiful day.  Why not have your own?  REI school has upcoming Hike and Hop classes as well as Urban Kayaking.  If you are new to nature, you can do basic bike riding classes, survival skills (for those “walker” attacks!) or even map reading.  We are especially partial to the Bike and Beans class.  Get caffienated while toodling on a bike at various Chicago micro-roasters?  Yes sir!  Sign up for an REI class ASAP! Your life may depend on it ;).

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#RUN10FEED10: Help End Hunger AND Shape Your Booty

It’s not hard to love such a beautiful city like Chicago in fall.  The leaves are changing and the weather is cooling. Not everyone gets to stay cozy warm, however.  The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless estimates there was about 138,575 Chicagoans who were homeless in August of this year. It can be overwhelming to figure out how we can best help people who are in need. One way, however, is very simple! Stretch your legs and run to provide meals to people who are hungry.  Join Kate as she tests her speed at the RUN10, FEED10 race on October 19th, 2014.

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Women’s Health and FEED are partnering for the RUN10 FEED10 10K race series to motivate consumers nationwide to help fight domestic hunger. RUN10 FEED10 has raised over 2.5 million meals to support the cause, and in 2014 the bar is set even higher. The concept behind RUN10 FEED10 is simple: run a 10K and feed 10 hungry people in your community. Timed 10K races will take place in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Those living in Boston, Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, Atlanta, Houston, Minneapolis, and Washington D.C. can participate in one of the Women’s Health “Fun Runs,” and if runners don’t live in one of the RUN10 FEED10 host cities, they can still participate by registering at RUN10FEED10.com to run a 10K in their hometown.

The series kicked off in New York City on September 21, 2014 with thousands of participants running down the West Side Highway for the timed race ending at Pier 84 at Hudson River Park. In the Chi, we will jaunt down Belmont harbor along our gorgeous lakefront and be greeted at the end with a post-race wellness festival. This post race celebration will feature yoga sessions, nutrition, beauty consultations and great giveaways from sponsors.

Feeling intimidated?  Kate has only run 2 5Ks before so she googled to figure out if she could make it through the entire race without yelling uncle and lying down on the pavement.  Self.com has an awesome 4 week training plan to get your booty in gear or you can sign up for training plans with Women’s Health and Run10 Feed10.  Doing a 10k will also flex those glute muscles and burn an odd 600+ calories (about 9 snack size Halloween packs of M&Ms, yup!). Good prep to don that sexy Pumpkin Spice Latte costume (or sexy wizard or sexy sexy…whatevs your wearing).

Not ready to run? You can still help by donating or even shopping at popular retailers like Nike and Gap from the comfort of your sexy couch.

Ready to join Kate and register or share your cash?

Sign up today at www.run10feed10.com!

 

Image from Run 10 Feed 10 Website

Image from Run10 Feed10 Website