Guest Post: Strength Training to Compliment Running

We are tackling the Wisconsin North Face Endurance Challenge in September and in preparation for this wickedly fun 10K trail run, we’ve partnered with Lauren Fairbanks, Chicago Mountain Athletics trainer.  This week Lauren is helping us become well rounded athletes by challenging runners to add strength training to their regimen. This is also part of the focus of The North Face Mountain Athletics Program. Athletes and amateurs alike can take part in these free bi-weekly workouts in order to improve their speed, strength or endurance in any sport. You may even have a “Lauren siting” there.   Welcome back Lauren!

lfIt’s no secret that serious runners favorite form of exercise is running, but many runners may be missing one key component to their training program.  One of the key components that compliment any running program is strength training.  For a number of different reasons, runners often overlook the importance of adding in strength workouts to their training regimen.  Some are scared to “bulk up” or gain too much muscle mass, while others might just be unfamiliar with how to work with weights.  These days, runners need to do more than pound out miles on the pavement to see improvements in their racing performance.  They need to be strong, athletic and have muscular balance to avoid injury during their training program.   Strength training helps build a solid foundation in the body and increases joint stability, which in turn can lead to fewer injuries.   The benefits of doing a strength training workout at least 2-3 days/week will not only help with injury prevention, but will also help your overall racing performance as well.  Strengthening both big muscle groups (Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves) as well as the smaller stabilizer muscles throughout your hips (hip flexors, extensors, hip rotator muscles) will create a strong base to withstand the impact that running has on your body.  The best exercises for runners are those that strengthen the legs, hips and core.   Some examples of these would be squats, lunges, deadlifts, planks and step ups to name a few.  Strength training will not only help you feel stronger during your races, but can also help you run longer and more efficiently.  Stronger legs and core equals both more endurance and speed.

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If you’re brand new to strength training you should build your weight capacity up slowly, starting with just body weight exercises and then progressing to loaded movements.  Heavier strength training days can be done after your lighter mileage/intensity days, and body weight exercises can be done on the other days where your running training is more intense.  Smaller hip mobility movements and foam rolling can be done on a regular basis and act more as maintenance since they are less intense.    Below is a basic strength training routine you can do as a beginner with just body weight or add weight if you are more advanced.  Circuit through each tri-set 3x them move on to the next one.

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3 sets of 12 repetitions

Forward lunges

Step-ups

Plank (1 minute)

Hip fire hydrants

knee up

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3 sets of 12 repetitions

Single leg squats off a bench

Russian twists (30 seconds)

Lateral lunges

Side planks (30 seconds each)

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So if you’re ready to crank up the intensity in your training, run faster, feel stronger, and spend less time injured then starting a strength training program is a no-brainer.  You will definitely feel the positive effects in no time!

 

Lauren Fairbanks is a Certified Personal Trainer and Holistic Health Coach with a passion for helping people reach their goals.  As a lifelong athlete with an expansive knowledge of nutrition she strives to share her expertise with everyone she meets.  She loves working with people and helping open their eyes and minds to the positive effects of proper nutrition, physical activity and living a balanced life.  Lauren was a Division I Track & Field Athlete at Central Michigan University where she graduated with a B.S. in Dietetics.  Along with her Dietetics degree and personal training certification she also holds specialty certifications in Kettlebells, TRX, and Pre/Post Natal Training.  When she’s not busy working with clients you can catch her running or riding her bike around the city, cooking, checking out Chicago’s newest restaurant, or planning her next travel adventure.

 

Chiorganicgirls Meatless Monday: Grillable Veggie Burgers

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July is National Grilling Month and it’s been a scorcher in Chicago.  With all the BBQs and back yard grilling bonanzas this month, adding some veggie burgers to the mix can happify those who don’t wanna have a cow.  Humans are naturally omnivores, meaning we’re down (and hard wired) for some vegging out.  Plus, eating more veggie based meals can help the environment, reduce cancer risks, minimimize exposure to meat based antibiotics, and improve the quality of life for animals.  But lettuce not forget taste!  There isn’t mushroom for a bad tastin’ veggie burger on the grill.

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Upton’s Naturals, an independently owned Chicago based company, dedicates themselves to providing delicious veggie based meat alternatives for the vegan and vegetarian community in Chicago and abroad.  They just celebrated their 10th birthday and certainly know how to turnip any grilling occasion.

Their veggie burgers are one of the newest additions cropping up on their rotation.  So you may wonder, how does Upton’s Naturals: The Classic Burger stack up?

Battle of the Burger:

Traditional Hamburger vs. Upton’s Classic Veggie Burger

Traditional Single Patty Hamburger

  • Ingredients:
    • Beef (moooo)..maybe some hormones.  We can’t guarantee anything.
  • Nutritional Profile (from the USDA website):
    • Calories Per Serving: 254
    • Total Fat: 10 g
    • Saturated Fat: 3.1 g
    • Trans Fat: .5 g
      Polyunsaturated Fat: .2 g
    • Sodium: 378 mg
    • Carbohydrate: 29g
    • Sugar: 5g
    • Dietary Fiber: 1 g
    • Protein: 13 g
    • Cholesterol: 28 mg

Upton’s Classic Burger

  • Ingredients:
    • Vital wheat gluten, eggplant, water, tofu (water, soybeans, calcium sulfate), sunflower, canola or safflower oil, soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt), wheat flour, nutritional yeast, evaporated cane juice, onion, sea salt, garlic, natural hickory smoke concentrate, whole wheat flour, oregano, black pepper, paprika, parsley, marjoram and apple cider vinegar.
  • Nutritional Profile:
    • Calories Per Serving: 168
    • Total Fat: 5 g
    • Trans Fat: 0 g
    • Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g
    • Sodium: 365 mg
    • Carbohydrate: 9 g
    • Sugar: 1 g
    • Dietary Fiber: 2 g
    • Protein: 22 g
    • Cholesterol: 0 g
Upton’s Taste and Texture: Upton’s Burger tastes a lot like their other seitan blends that we’ve had before.  There is a slight smoke flavor with a peppery finish in the patty.   It’s a hearty veggie burger, not one of those ones that falls apart, and it easily cooks on the grill in a short time.  Can’t beet a quick cooking meat free burger to get those planty vibes!
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So who won?  Is this your garden variety knock out?  Upton’s has less fat, calories, and cholesterol than than a traditional beef burger.  It also has more fiber.  Upton’s is kosher, lactose free and vegan so it digs away at different dietary needs.  Note: Upton’s burger is NOT gluten free so traditonal burger takes the medal for that category.
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Are you ready for your BBQ guests to cheer “Olive Veggie Burgers!”?  
Upton’s Naturals’ Classic Burger is planting itself at natural retailers throughout the Midwest for $3.99 for a 2 burger box. Click HERE for a store locator.  Swinging by the Chi?  Sample the classic burger or many other vegan delights (jackfruit tacos, vegan bacon mac and cheese and more) at Upton’s Breakroom in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood.  Visit www.uptonsnaturals.com and find @UptonsNaturals and @UptonsBreakroom on social media.

Your New Post Workout Snack: LUNA Protein Berry Greek Yogurt Bars

Rise and Shine, beautiful friends!  Working out in the morning can give you energy all day.  And who wouldn’t get out of bed for a new kick a#@ workout, free samples of the new LUNA bar flavor, a beautiful Chicago skyline view at the ROOF at the Wit and more.

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LUNA delivered just that with the launch of their new Berry Greek Yogurt Protein Bar and threw a fitty party that would make you break up with your covers.  LUNA’s new protein bar is a refreshing new flavor for those of you who doth not love chocolate (we know, some people are weird like that!) or people who want a breakfasty bite after an early workout.

Protein Bar Stats:

LUNA Protein is gluten free  and high in protein.  LUNA brand is one of our favorites because of their girl power focus and their promotion of positive initiatives for women here and abroad.

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LUNA Berry Greek Yogurt Bar is:

  • 170 calories
  • Protein filled with 12g soy/whey protein
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • Low sugar
  • Iron and Vitamin D filled (definitely a must to incorporate as we get older to prevent athletic injuries…more self care!)
  • Helps you more easily fit protein into your diet (especially for you veg heads like Monica or weird people who don’t like to cook meat like Kate)
  • Free of trans fat, partially-hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or synthetic preservatives and non GMO

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And taste?  Kate isn’t a huge fan of protein bars in general and Monica is not crazy about sugar laden bars.  But the light yogurty coating and fruity filled flavor is a great combination.  It hit the spot after the crazy sweaty morning workout with Betina Gozo and Jeana Anderson.

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Nike Fitness Stats:

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Nike Master Trainer Betina Gozo. Photo Credit: Amy Boyle Photography

Chicago based rock star NIKE master trainer, Betina Gozo, and the motivating  Jeana Anderson Cohen from #asweatlife cheered us through a partner based HIIT workout.  Jeana Anderson Cohen’s concept, #SweatWorking, aims to get people in Chicago working out while networking and getting to know each other.  Betina ensured that we did by pushing our partners to their physical limits, making us feel stronger and more connected to each other.  We celebrated our successes with a LUNA Protein Berry Greek Yogurt bar.

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Photo credit: Amy Boyle Photography

Check our Instagram video post for the cool experience.  Also, go to the Nike Training Club schedule for more FREE workout classes with Betina and other Nike masters.  Sign up and bring your LUNA Protein Berry Greek Yogurt Bar.

You can make your own post workout berry bliss any where LUNA bars are sold!

Chop to it! Win Quick Healthy Dinners with ChopBox

Have you heard the news that Americans can’t/don’t cook?  As a country, we spend more time watching cooking shows than actually cooking.  Cooking, however, allows us to have more control over what we put in our bodies than eating takeout or processed pre-cooked foods.  So if you can’t cook (yet) or feel like you are too busy, healthy meal delivery services can dissolve both of these problems while being affordable.

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ChopBox is a Chicago based company that provides:
  • Family friendly dinner kits for 4.  Price per person is around $10 a person, less than you usually spend at many healthy fast restaurants.
  • Pre-portioned meals changed weekly to add variety. They do the shopping and portioning. You cook and enjoy!
  • Delivers the recipes and ingredients directly to your house so you can get your chef on.  Unlike other meal delivery service, you can either try ChopBox once OR sign-up for weekly meal service.

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Now We’re Cookin’

We were given 2 meals to sample in exchange for an unbiased review:
  • Tofu Stir Fry with rice noodles and veggies
    • Bright colorful vegetables and perfect amount of tangy sauce.
    • Delicious, filling, and we had more than enough for 4 people.  YAY healthy leftovers!

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  • Raspberry Pecan Crusted Chicken with sauteed asparagus and jasmine rice
    • Crunchy dark green asparagus, spicy sweet raspberry sauce and juicy pecan crusted baked chicken…yum!
    • Recipe cards are colorful with easy step-by-step instructions.
    • (Tip: Make sure you read carefully.  Kate missed the fact that egg white was pre-portioned and included, thus she needlessly cracked two eggs and wasted them.  Umm and she overcooked the jasmine rice so try not to multi-task).

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  • Both recipes were ones that Kate hadn’t made on her own so you get guidance and encouragement to try new foods.

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To the Chopping Block

  • The weekly menu options are a bit more limited than other meal services we have seen and/or tried with slim to no vegetarian options.  ChopBox is willing to work with you on any allergy or diet requests, however, so put your foodie desires out there.
  • If you are an experienced chef, you may want to add your own flava’ to spice it up to your taste.
  • If you don’t cook AT ALL, please note that you will need some basic ingredients like salt, pepper, olive oil, and pans to make these meals work.
  • You may have to chop ingredients😉 for some recipes so we hope you have some decent knives.  The chicken dish actually required very minimal prep (no chopping) compared to the tofu.

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Wanna skip the line tonight?

  • Enter here to WIN your own ChopBox and feel like the next Master Chef.
  • Giveaway runs from July 11th-July 18th.
  • You must live in the following states to win and delivered: Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana.
  • Ready to roll with a ChopBox?  Sign up here!

 

A Nutritionist Dishes: How to Find the Perfect Healthy Snack

parfait

We have a confession to make….when we see a new “healthy” snack option, we just gotta try it.  But, with all the maca, acai, jackfruit, hemp milk, hair of the goat (ok we made the last on up) superfoods out … Continue reading

Windy City SmokeOut Ticket Promo

A fantastic summer can be summer-ized (see what we did there) by the Three Bs: Bands, BBQ, and Beverages. Even vegetarians are tantalized by the smell of the grill when they’re getting down on a veggie burger. So where can you get a hearty helping of all 3? The Windy City Smokeout, of course, July 15-July 17. Hosted by Bub City and Academy of Country Music Award winner, Joe’s Bar, this fest promises to be anything but basic. Don’t like the ‘Que? No problemo. Hob Nob with other non ‘Que carousers at famed spots like Three Dots and a Dash, Drago’s Seafood or The Salsa Truck. Or do what we do, and eat up all the sides:).

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What:

Windy City Smokeout

  • 3 days of live music from up and coming talent (Maren Morris, Old Dominion, Chase Rice, Billy Currington, Corey Smith, Big & Rich with special guest Cowboy Troy, Phil Vassar, Jessie James Decker, Whiskey Myers, Walker County and Whiskey Jam)
  • All the BBQ you could ever purchase from BBQ Big Wigs like Smoque, Lillie Qs, and Chicago Q.
  • Cooking demos, beverage pairings, and more!

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When:

Friday July 15th through Sunday July 17th

Where:

560 W GRAND AVE CHICAGO, IL 60654

Promo Code:

3 day tickets only $75 with CHIORGANIC (good until 11:59 July 7th, 2016). That’s $35 dollars off!

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Additional information on this year’s fest available here: http://www.windycitysmokeout.com/.

The World’s Healthiest Granola?

Granola may bring to mind images of incense burning, camping, and a halo of healthiness but store bought kinds are often sugar bombs.  But can some granolas live up to the healthier than the hype?

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We recently were given samples of Viki’s Granola new on-the-go Granola Packs to test for their health-o-meter reading.  Viki’s Granola is not your grandma’s granola but, dang, it could be.

First, Viki is an actual person, Viki Sater, who creates the actual granola, originally for her daughter’s bake sale.  Her small batch granola was so popular that orders began pouring in.  Currently, Viki’s granola offers 5 different flavors: Original, Blueberry Almond, Maple Cranberry, Banana Walnut and Apple Cinnamon.

So is this really the healthiest granola out there?  Check out these healthful stats.

Nutrition

Sugar: Per 1/4 cup of granola, Viki’s has on average 4 grams of sugar.

Nutritionists suggest you should look for granola with 8 grams or less of sugar. The 1.5 ounce on-the-go Pack is perfectly portioned so you don’t have to wonder if you just snarfed down a crazy amount of granola.  Also, bees rejoice, Viki’s only uses organic honey or pure maple syrup as a sweetener.  You won’t find any high fructose corn syrup here.

Calories: With about 150 calories per pack, you would want to add some fruit or yogurt for a meal but this is a sizable snack to have in your bag after a workout.

Ingredients: Each granola features only 6-7 ingredients (gluten free oats, organic honey, unsweetened coconut, and different nut and fruit combos) and none that you would have to look up to figure out what it is.  This is about as clean as you can get for a processed food.  Viki’s is mindful of special diets as well.

• Gluten Free
• Non-GMO Verified
• Cholesterol Free
• Zero Trans Fats
• Sodium free
• Dairy Free
• Kosher Pareve

Taste

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Viki’s Granola is pretty versatile as it is not overly sweet.  Expect soft honey touched oats intermingling with dried fruit.  It’s inclusion of tree nuts like almonds and walnuts adds a nice crunch and a pinch of healthy fats to keep you fuller longer.  We liked eating it with a splash of coconut almond milk or mixing it up in a parfait.  Viki’s website has other fun recipe suggestions like granola covered frozen bananas (summer yummer) or even granola crusted chicken.

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You can purchase Viki’s Granola at several grocery stores or even order online.

So is Viki’s the World’s Healthiest Granola?  It’s pretty close.  There are a small amount of other granolas out there vying for the title.  Does your favorite granola have a shot at the title?

Easy Gluten Free Treats with Garden Lites

Gluten Free

Gluten free goodies are hit or miss. Sometimes you try a gluten free muffin that’s as heavy as a hockey puck and wonder: “Is this the only option I have for muffin glory?”  For people with gluten sensitivities or, even more serious, those with Celiac disease, the need for gluten free options is real. But do we want them super processed or super disgusto?  No!

Garden Lites gets to the root of this matter and offers gluten free frozen treats to cure your muffin madness with fluffy de-lite-fulness.

Ingredients

  • First 2 elements: zucchini and carrots in almost every products
  • Gluten free flour mix: brown rice, sorghum flour, flaxseed meal, or cornstarch
  • Allergens: Nuts free and dairy free.  Some products are soy free, too. (Check particular products, however, for allergen information)

Garden Lites shear off unnecessary fillers and keep their ingredients at the root of what’s needed to make their souffles and muffins.  Most have a list of 10 or less on the nutrition facts.  The most processed item we noticed is soy lechitin, a common emulsifier used in chocolate and other health related food products.  Obviously, it’s best to eat whole foods, but Garden Lites’ chocolatey or blueberry oat muffins will harvest your health compared to those fast food muffins.

Taste the Goodness

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We dug into the Chocolate Muffins, Ninja Power Muffins (Heroes in a half shell…turtle power!) and one of Garden Lites’ savory options, the Butternut Squash Souffle.

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These muffins are great for tricking kids into eating veggies and tricking adults into being health conscious.  The muffins and souffles are all soft in texture and not grainy.  They are also produce packed with the following nutrients:

  • Calories for one muffin range between 80 to max 120 calories,
  • 2-5 grams of protein, and 8 grams protein in souffle
  • 2-4 grams of fiber, and 5 grams in souffle
  • less than 11 grams of sugar, 18 grams in souffle

The Chocolate muffin is moist and melty like a baby lava cake.

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The Ninja Powered Muffin is but a morsel with a chocolate chip zucchini bread flavor and is aimed at the youngins’.  We like Ninja Turtles though so we also enjoyed them.

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The Butternut Souffle was cornbread like in texture with the mellow aroma and flavor of squash.

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Purchase Options

Garden Lites are available at Costco, Target, and Amazon — and let us tell you that Amazon shoppers are all over the Garden Lites, like bees on flowers.  Also, you can purchase the frozen products at HealthyGoodness website and get a FREE pint of Three Twins ice cream here!  What are you waiting for?!  Go Power yourself with Gluten Free Goodies!

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*We received free Garden Lites coupons to sample the product.  We were not monetarily compensated and our opinions are our own.*

Paddle and HIIT the Beach with Crosstown Fitness

Wanna throw shade at your same ol’ summer workout routine? Join Crosstown Fitness and Chicago SUP for a blazing combo high intensity interval (HIIT) and Stand-Up Paddle Board (SUP) class on gorgeous North Avenue Beach Chicago this sunny season.

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Crosstown Fitness, a HIIT training gym with 2 locations, West Loop and North side, houses some of the best trainers in the city and no class is ever the same. Chicago SUP is Chicago’s original Stand-up Paddle Board outfitter. They have 2 paddle ports on North Avenue Beach and Diversey Harbor.  This perfect partnership is 3 years strong and is still walking on water.

Betina Gozo, Nike Master Trainer and Director of Fitness at Crosstown Fitness, leads a sweaty, sandy and sizzlin’ HIIT sequence to heat things up before you cool it down with the calm cardio of paddle boarding. Betina starts class off with sand running sequences, such as short sprints, butt kicks and high knees. She then moves on to body weight training like bear crawls, push ups, or 1 legged paddle dead lifts. If you didn’t know, running and exercising in sand helps strengthen weaker muscles in the legs and is lower impact than running on pavement. Come for a few weeks and you’ll shore to be feeling like Sponge Bob Svelte Pants.

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After you HIIT the beach hard, it’s time to paddle! Ok, so what is SUP? It’s a beachy blend of Surfing and Kayaking, where you stand on a wide surf board and use a single bladed paddle for momentum. SUP challenges your core, balance and is also low impact. However, with all these benefits, you may still feel a lil’ crabby about paddling for the first time.

Fear not! Chicago SUP staff are friendly and ready to help you feel like a fish in water. When we stepped up to the board, staff members gave an overview of the paddle parameters and techniques. They also loan out water proof phone holders so you can safely selfie your way through the waves.  Chicago SUP staff provide Baywatch like support, eyeing the tides by your side as you paddle. If you’re feeling shaky about your sea legs, you can always kneel or straddle the board to anchor yourself with more stability.

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After you serenely sail around Lake Michigan and dock your board, drift into Castaways for a drink or chill at Green City Market in Lincoln Park to refuel with fresh farmer’s market produce. Your perfect summer Saturday is planned–you’re welcome!

When:

Every Saturday, 8:30-9:30 a.m. (weather permitting) through October

Where:

Chicago SUP stand, North Avenue Beach Chicago. The SUP stand is south of the Castaways boat and the volleyball nets.

Sign Up:

Shell out $25 for a sandy bottom adventure or a 10 pack pass is $220! Members can get wet with sweat for free. Check out Crosstown Fitness website to purchase and for more package options.

Other High Tide Tips:

Wet to Wear? No shoes are needed for the workout. Wear a swimsuit or sweat wicking clothes that dry easily (*you may fall off your board*).

There are cubbies for your belongings at the Chicago SUP hut but don’t bring anything too valuable.

Finally, everyone wants to be at the beach (beach..as Nikki Minaj says), so parking may be tight. You can access public transportation, park near Lincoln Park zoo, but come early to make sure you have time to score a spot for your vehicle.

*Thanks to Marissa Joseph and Dana Hartung of MJPR for hosting us and for the pictures of the event.  We were offered a class for review but were not compensated for our opinions.*

 

 

 

 

 

Down and Dirty Mudderella Recap

We DID it, our first mud run as a Chi Organic Girls team! We took a leap of faith off the final 10 feet high platform onto an inflatable and then trailed dirt to the finish line.
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So what muddy mysteries did we solve and what mud madcap adventures did we have? Muck through our review of our first ever Mudderella run.

Muddy Mistakes

Sooo dressing for the after effects of a mud run is a challenge.  Double check what you pack the morning of. Kate forgot a dry bra for after the race–leading to wet t-shirt contests all day. Bring layers, a towel, and a bag for wet clothes too. Although the weather channel may tell you it will be 80 degrees, what they actual meant was 60 degrees. We were freezing after our Antarctic hose off and really should have packed warm joggers and a jacket just in case. You can always remove an extra piece of clothing if you are hot.

Need more mud run tips? Check out our previous post here.

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Muddy Mastery

Smells like Team Spirit

15 obstacles and 5+ miles=determination! We loved Mudderella’s pre-muck area with free braiding, fake tattoos, warrior makeup (purple lipstick anyone?) and face painting. Oh and a roof….when we arrived, it was pouring so it was a perk to stay dry and pretty for first pictures. Women were totally in the spirit of the challenge with creative team names like “Cookie Mudsters” or “Girls Gone Dirty”. Green tutus and team camaraderie filled the barn we huddled in.

Bringing a muddy spectator buddy to drive us to and from the event was a huge win. Our friend followed our route, took shots of us in action, and held our finisher t-shirts so they wouldn’t get dirtified.

What we especially embraced was the power of women. We dragged each other through mud pits, other women launched us up walls. We let chicks stand on our shoulders literally to breach obstacles. You don’t experience that in the competitive race world so THIS is exactly why non-competitive runs like Mudderella are essential. Whether you walk the whole way or run like madwomen, Mudderella girls are ready to encourage, cheer and lend an actual helping hand.

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Thanks to Mudderella for hosting us!  Any other questions about this fab fun female event?!  Reach out to us in the comments section.