Monthly Archives: February 2017

Song for the Weekend [SIA Post]

Casual Clothes

I’m such a hypocrite, you guys. When I first started at my current job I swore I wasn’t going to be the person who wore jeans every day. And now I basically do. I also swore I would never wear leggings. But, you know, when you wear jeans almost every day maybe you want to be even more casual on weekends.

And leggings are basically the same as running clothes, right?

So, in the interest of full disclosure, this is what I wore all weekend. Well, except when I went to the annual Wetsuit Formal. More on that on Friday, I promise!

IMG_5582 (1)

similar cardigan | same tee | similar scarf | similar boots | LuLaRoe leggings

Athleisure is a thing now, right? That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

I’m also telling myself that this outfit works well for this week’s Style Imitating Art choice. It helps that I found the perfect backdrop a block from our apartment.

IMG_5593 (1)

04_salazar_singstreet

Oh, and if you’re interested in recreating this outfit and saving some money, you can get very similar pieces from Shopbop during their huge sale!

image00

The sale officially starts at 7:18 AM Eastern Time on February 28th and ends on March 5th at 4 AM Eastern Time.

IMG_5557 (1)

Fashion Philanthropy

Office Appropriate Outfits - Spring · Shopping

I have a friend. Her name is Annabelle. She’s one of the nicest, most interesting, hardworking people I know. I’m thrilled that I’ve gotten to know her a bit better recently since I’ve ended up behind the scenes of her latest endeavor to raise money for services and create jobs for adults with disabilities.

She recently became a LuLaRoe consultant, which, if you don’t know what that is, is a clothing line that is sold online via Facebook groups or at houses during pop-up shops. Yes, a lot of women sell it to make extra money but Annabelle is hoping to use her side business as a way to create jobs for adults with developmental disabilities. She’s even donating part of her proceeds to her “day job” employer, Garden Center Services.

avondale-chicago-striped-dress

LuLaRoe dress | same jacket | similar scarf | similar shoes

Because I think this is so awesome, I’ve been helping her out when I can. And spending my own money on things like this dress. It’s called a Julia and it’s basically stretchy t-shirt material.

lularoe-julia-striped-dress

The thing about LuLaRoe is that when you see a pattern and style you like, you’d better grab it. Consultants order sizes and styles but don’t get to pick patterns. Which means that what they have is always a surprise! I was helping Annabelle unbox her initial inventory shipment when I spotted this dress. Lucky me!

The best way to shop Annabelle’s inventory is either via her Facebook group or at her pop-up shop in Lincoln Park, Chicago. In fact, she’s got one coming up on March 10th from 6 to 10 PM that will coincide with another fundraiser for Garden Center Services – the growARTS art show! So, you can shop for art or you can shop for clothes and either way you’ll be helping fund Garden Center Services.

I did both at the February art show and not only came home with the dress, I also came home with some lovely art.

IMG_7893

Art for sale is either painted by adults in the growARTS program or is donated by their family or friends. The artists in the program also get paid a commission for each piece that sells. There is truly something for everyone, though, and I had a difficult time sticking to just this one piece.

Same thing with sticking to just one dress. I have a feeling that if I continue to help out Annabelle behind the scenes I’ll own a lot more “LuLa”.

Oh, and speaking of art, there is so much street art in our new neighborhood! All three of these photos were taken within a 5 minute walk of our house. So fun! And, yes, it’s been warm enough in Chicago to dress like this. I’m loving this weather, too!

lularoe-dress-utility-jacket

 

 

Sing Street [SIA Post]

Style Imitating Art

Thanks again to everyone who participate in last week’s Style Imitating Art challenge! This week we’ve got something both retro and modern to interpret. Salazar chose the movie poster from “Sing Street“.

04_salazar_singstreet

I’m admittedly not much of a movie person so I hadn’t seen this nor had I heard of it (although, I did see “Once” on Broadway!) but Salazar highly recommends it.

Personally, it reminds me of when I was a kid and wanted to be Madonna so badly. I would layer dresses, skirts and bracelets and occasionally even wear crop tops on weekends. I don’t think I’ll be doing any of that this time around, but you never know!

If you’d like to break out your best retro 80s outfit, or just dress in black with a few pops of color, don’t forget to snap a picture and send it to 14shadesofgreyblog@gmail.com by next Monday, February 27th.

 

How picking up weights will help you speed up your running pace [Fitness Friday]

Fitness

Have you ever heard the saying, “In order to run faster you need to run faster”? Have you done your speedwork and your tempo runs and your long runs and not seen much improvement in your running paces? What about instead of running more you actually started running less, but still got faster?

run-faster-run-less

Think it’s crazy? It’s not. And the secret is strength training. But by strength training I don’t mean using hand weights or dumbbells in a group exercise class. I mean getting friendly with that big heavy Olympic barbell in the gym. Picking up weights that are heavier than your purse or backpack. And running less.

IMG_7765-2

Here’s how it works: four or five days a week you do 45 minutes of strength training. Two days a week you do 20 to 30 minutes of high intensity interval cardio. One of those can be running and the other can be swimming, rowing, cycling or using the Stairmill. One day a week you do a longer endurance cardio workout of your choice.

I’ve personally been following this plan for over two years and I’ve dropped a significant amount of time from races and my overall training pace. When I started marathon training in October 2016 my long run pace was 8:45 per mile when it used to be closer to 10:45 per mile!

marathon race pace improvement

My paces at each of my five marathons

The key is to flip your paradigm. Instead of thinking of weight or strength training as a way to ward off injury or as something you should do in addition to your running, start thinking of your cardio as something you do in addition to your strength training.

Strength workouts are most effective when you combine low rep, high weight full body power lifts with “assistance” endurance exercises. Full body lifts include deadlifts, bench presses, squats and overhead presses. While you might typically think of these as “upper body” or “lower body” exercises, they are actually also working your core, your back, your arms and your legs all at once. The assistance exercises, such as barbell rows, kettlebell swings, dumbbell curls, hamstring curls, lunges and a variety of other moves done with slightly lower weight and more reps help with your muscle endurance. And, of course, you can’t forget the ab work!

IMG_7880

4×8 sumo deadlifts! Yes, I make weird faces when I lift.

same tank | same shoes

Figuring out much to lift for each exercise can be a challenge at first. Lower rep, higher weight power lifts should be done in three to five sets of three to eight reps each at 75 to 85 percent of your one rep max. Your assistance endurance exercises should be 2 to 4 sets of 12 to 20 reps each at 60 to 70 percent of your one rep max. Hold on. I can see you scratching your head and saying, “Huh??”

First, pick an exercise. Let’s say a squat. Pick a weight with which you’re pretty sure you can do at least 10 reps. If you can do all 10 reps and feel like you can do more, pick a heavier weight. Do this until you can barely eek out 10 reps with good form. This weight is 75% of your one rep max. The chart at http://bit.ly/OPRCchart can help you figure out the rest of the percentages.

Let’s keep using the squat as an example. Your workout starts with 3 sets of 8 squats. If you did 10 squats at 45 pounds you should do your 3 sets of 8 with anywhere from 45 to 51 pounds.

weight-chart

Source: Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 4th Edition

You want the last rep in the last set to feel like you can’t do anymore. If you feel like you can do two more reps you’re ready to up your weight!

Workouts should consist of one or two power exercises, two to four assistance endurance exercises, and at least one abdominal muscle specific exercise. Although, in reality, most of the other exercises you’re doing are working your abs, too! In all of the power lifts you need to keep your abs tight to protect your back. In many of your assistance exercises you’ll be keeping your abs tight as well.

Form is incredibly important if you want to see results from strength training. If you’ve only ever lifted on your own or in a group exercise classes you’re missing out on some great tips. Has anyone ever told you when squatting to pretend like you’re trying to keep a big rubber band from pulling your knees together? Or when doing a kettlebell swing to thrust your hips forward instead of raising your arms? Or how to correctly do a deadlift so you don’t hurt your back? If not, I highly recommend doing a few session with a personal trainer. Be specific about what you want to learn. If you want to learn to deadlift, tell them you want to learn to deadlift. If you want to have them help you with your squat form, tell them that. While you can get some great tips from http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises there is some feedback that only comes from someone watching you do an exercise.

deadlift

Picture taken by one of my trainers

Learning that heavy weights are not as intimidating as you probably once thought will open up a whole new world. Lifting heavy and running less will not only change your pace, it will change your attitude! It’s empowering to look at a weight and know you can move it yourself. If you’re struggling in a race you’ll not only have the muscular strength to power through, but you’ll have the mental strength as well. And if you track how much you lifted each workout you’ll find you can get PRs in strength training, too!

So, flip your paradigm and try putting the emphasis on strength training and see what kind of results you get. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

I put together four weeks of workouts plus even more information at http://bit.ly/oprcstrength. And, of course, ask me questions! I don’t want to be all evangelical about this, but it really worked for me and I’d like to see it work for more people.

Note: I am not currently a personal trainer although I put together this information based on study materials for the certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Always consult with a personal trainer before trying any new moves. I’d hate to see you get hurt! 

SIA: Pond in the Woods Round-Up

Style Imitating Art

Thank you all so much for welcoming me back with open arms after my little blogging break! I’m excited to have some new Style Imitating Art participants on the blog today.

As a reminder, we’re interpreting the Georgia O’Keeffe painting, Pond in the Woods.

Georgia O'Keefe Pond in the Woods

First up, we have Nancy from Nancy’s Fashion Style!

DSC01923 DSC01930

Nancy said that she doesn’t usually wear a lot of color but that these are the colors she loves. And could the peacock feather be any more perfect?

Random thought: I saw peacocks while I was running the Miami Marathon. One even ran along side us for a few feet!

Next we have Jodie’s submission. This is one of my first visits to Jodie’s blog and I love that she features three different decades of women. Today we have the “60s model” AKA her step- mom…who also happens to be named Nancy!
1-23-17 067 (792x1280)

Jodie writes, “I was inspired by the color scheme of the Georgia O’Keeffe painting —the browns, greens with that beige in the middle, all reminded me of Nancy’s brown jeans, green turtleneck & beige sweater!!”

Co-host Jen got every color in the painting into one outfit! Way to go! She even says her earrings are topaz to bring in that bit of brown.

jenPondWoodsSIAcollage

Mike, an SIA regular, commented that he almost went with his usual black pants but, at the last minute, swapped them out for the khaki ones. I say good choice!

Pond In The Woods SIA

Rabbit Style News also went with blue and green for this one. I really like her blouse!

2017_02_09 SIA

Gail “chose brown and green tones plus the lighter and circular ‘center’ of the pond mirrored by my fun pompoms.”

SIA_2

Also, side note, Gail’s got some good indoor lighting going on there!

Co-host Salazar has a coat that I am currently envying. All my coats are black, gray or red. But forest green? Drooling! Plus, you have to see the close-up of her brooch.

dsc_3335

And then! We got a submission from “A Dog”! This pup is super stylish and is making Chewie quite jealous.

O'Keeffe Pond in the Woods

They also have one creative owner!

Finally, there’s me! I notice I was the only one to go with a burgundy color scheme. That’s what I love about SIA: so many different ways to interpret the same piece of art!

IMG_5474

Stay tuned for next week’s choice! And thanks again to everyone who participated.

 

 

 

Out of the Woods [SIA Post]

Casual Clothes · Casual Friday · Office Appropriate Outfits - Winter · Style Imitating Art

Not taking outfit photos for the past few months actually left me in a bit of an outfit rut. In fact, I struggled to come up with an outfit for this week’s Style Imitating Art challenge…even though I was the one who chose the art!

Georgia O'Keefe Pond in the Woods

Georgia O’Keeffe, Pond in the Woods

I had quite a few ideas, but I felt that many of them I’d either worn on the blog before or would just be me putting on something to take the photo and not something I would actually have a chance to wear any time soon.

For example, this dress would have been perfect…but I have no reason to wear it right now. I did decide while finally unpacking my jewelry that I wanted to wear my necklace with the green gemstone.

IMG_5478

So, I did. And I paired it with a cream-colored tank top, my burgundy cardigan, my newly DIY distressed black jeans (as in, I did it 20 minutes before I wore them), and my tan booties. I couldn’t figure out how to add purple or blue to this outfit, though. Plus, I’ve just been more of a fan of neutrals, lately. Or I’m wearing burgundy for Valentine’s Day. Either way!

IMG_5474

similar cardigan | similar jeans | same booties | similar necklace 

Also, welcome to our backyard which, right now, is basically a mud pit. We’ve asked our landlord for help in landscaping it so that the dog doesn’t track muddy paw prints all over the house if we don’t wipe off his paws every single time he comes in from outside.
IMG_5457

I’m still getting some great submissions from others who have been inspired to create an outfit based on this painting. And it’s not too late for you to submit yours! The round-up will be posted on Wednesday so send your pictures to looplooks@gmail.com to be featured!

Fitness Friday: The Miami Marathon

Fitness

Almost every summer and fall I get a little twinge of “FOMO” when I see so many people I know training for the Chicago Marathon. I hadn’t trained for a marathon since early 2013 and there was a part of me that was missing runs of longer than 9 or 10 miles. I was also wondering what I could do with the speed I’d acquired thanks to tons (literally) of strength training.

Which is why, when my favorite triathlon store and training group announced winter marathon training targeting the 2017 Miami Marathon, I decided to bite the bullet and sign up.

For the most part, the winter in Chicago cooperated. We only had one bitterly cold day (I think it was like 4 degrees) but even that was sunny and not very windy. We never had a major blizzard. We never had a major rain. I even managed to get in one long run at altitude while visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico.

IMG_7672

Sure, I had to do a lot of my shorter runs on the treadmill and sure I had to skip a few shorter runs towards the end of training due to time constraints, but overall I had a really good training cycle. I kept up my weight lifting. I avoid major injury. I enjoyed most of my runs and I definitely enjoyed my training buddies.

live-grit-chicago

My only concern was what the weather would be like in Miami on race day. Humidity is my kryptonite and I’d been warned it could be quite humid. Thankfully, race morning brought cool temps in the 50s, low humidity…and rain. I honestly don’t mind rain, though. Give me that over a hot, humid run any day!

My coach and my main training buddy both told me I would easily break the 4 hour mark. I couldn’t quite bring myself to believe them. My best marathon time previously was four hours and 26 minutes. But, I have gotten faster so I decided to line up with the 3:50 pacer and see what happened.

Turns out that what happened was that I ran every single step of that race, averaged an 8:34 pace, and finished in 3:44:58.

Yeah, that’s a 42 minute personal record.

miami-marathon-finish-line

I’m still kind of in awe at how well the whole thing went.  Other than not being able to find my group’s tent after the race and getting caught in a downpour after I finished, it was a perfect day for me. I created my own mantra of “No bonk, no wall” that I repeated to myself whenever it started to feel difficult.

I ran without a fuel belt, a first for me. I didn’t walk a single step, also a first for me. And clearly breaking the four hour mark by a quarter of an hour is also a first for me. I attribute these successes to several things:

  1. An amazing coach who believed in me, gave me workouts that pushed me, and gave me some great advice about race day pacing
  2. An amazing run buddy who stuck with me on our long runs even though he was training for a different race (and pace!) entirely
  3. My personal trainer at the gym who knows nothing about running but knows everything about making me stronger
  4. My husband who didn’t complain at all during my training (and who I forgive for staying in the warm and dry hotel room instead of spectating in the rain)
  5. Live Grit. Without them I don’t think I would have done a lot of the things I’ve done over the past few years.
  6. The weather gods. I asked for cool weather and I got it.

I’m not rushing to sign up for another race right now. I’m going to bask in this accomplishment for awhile. And work on building back up all the glute muscle I literally ran off while training!

miami-marathon-medal

Uncommon Goods for an uncommon space

Shopping

This post is sponsored by Uncommon Goods but, as always, all opinions are my own.

I hate to be like, hey guys, I’m back to blogging so here, have a sponsored post, but, to be honest, I haven’t had time to take outfit photos because I’m still working on unpacking and figuring out how to find places for everything in our new apartment/duplex/house.

So, when Uncommon Goods approached me and asked if I could highlight some of the items on their website, I took a look and decided, yes, I could. Because I need some of these in our new space!

For example, while I’m not one for dust-collecting home decor, I am all about practical home decor. We have two bathrooms in our new apartment but neither has the same amount of under cabinet storage space as in our previous place.

15380684_10153928927932035_7576590509568734483_n

The nicer of the two bathrooms

Which is why I immediately fell in love with this toilet paper storage shelf that makes the paper rolls look like clouds! I’d hang it across from the sink/toilet area and it would serve double duty as art AND storage!

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 8.53.13 PM

That’s what Uncommon Good is all about. The items not only look good, they do good, too.

We’re committed to offering you a creative and exciting merchandise assortment and are working with our suppliers – from artists to small manufacturers – to make their products in a more socially and environmentally responsible manner. Since our founding, we’ve featured products that contain recycled components and have not sold products containing leather, feathers or fur – we’re committed to selling products that do no harm to people or animals.

We used to store plastic bags in the space between the wall and the fridge but our kitchen now doesn’t have that space. Which is why this trash can appeals to me. It’s in a section of the website that bills itself as gift ideas for wives but, since I’m a wife and I’d like it as a gift I think it’s totally appropriate. Maybe it’s in that section because Uncommon Goods knows that this wife likes things to be organized. Actually, this wife would like just about everything listed in that section. Especially the wine glasses.

15349580_10153928927922035_2954698264408890302_n

Kitchen and dining room before we cluttered it up with our stuff

Finally, our place is all hardwood and tile so my feet are always cold. Even though our old apartment was also hardwood, it was on the 8th floor of a nine story building so our floors were always heated by the people below us. Now we have the first floor and the basement of the house we live in so there’s no one below us to keep our floors warm. Which is why I need slippers. Like these. They have even more slippers (and socks!), as well as other gifts for women here.

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 9.20.28 PM

15356720_10153928927962035_6627015097593006590_n

This is our basement. We honestly have no idea what to do with this space since it’s not big enough for our couch and the washer & dryer are behind those doors.

I’m really impressed with the items on the Uncommon Goods website and will probably be ordering some in the future. I’m glad they reached out to me because otherwise I don’t know if I would have thought to look there! Especially since they have a “give back” program that allows you to donate a dollar to a charity of your choice when you checkout. They’ve given over a million dollars since they started it 15 years ago!

Now, if you don’t mind me, I’m off to figure out where to put all these clothes I have now that I don’t have as much closet space as I used to.  Maybe I just need a bunch of these reclaimed wine barrel hooks

 

SIA: Pond in the Woods

Style Imitating Art

As much as I enjoyed doing ALL the things in January, I’m looking forward to a nice, quiet(er) February. I hope to get everyone caught up on what’s been going on in my life (moving! marathoning!) but for now it’s time for me to pick the Style Imitating Art Challenge for this week!

In December I went with my friend Emily to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Neither of us had ever been there before and we were pleasantly surprised to find that it’s full of museums, art galleries, shopping, and eating and that all of it is easily walkable. We didn’t really have an agenda other than that we knew we needed to go to the Georgia O’Keeffe museum. I think it’s like a rule or something.

Anyway, we were pleasantly surprised at it, too. If you thought all she painted were flowers and desert landscapes, you’re wrong! She painted and sculpted many, many things. So, of course I chose one that I took a picture of for this week’s SIA.

Georgia O'Keefe Pond in the Woods

“Pond in the Woods”, 1922

This is something I could totally see hanging in our new apartment. I love the dark colors, the depth, and the movement. I kind of feel like I’m being pulled into the painting.

I took photos of some of my other favorites, as well, so I suspect you’ll see them pop up as SIA pieces throughout the year.

In the mean time, if this painting inspires you to create an outfit, snap a picture of it and send it to looplooks at gmail.com before Tuesday, February 14th to be included in the outfit round up.