Author Archives: Erin @ Loop Looks

About Erin @ Loop Looks

A Chicago Loop Girl Goes To Work


Staying Motivated [Fitness Friday]


I recently came across an article from A Sweat Life on workout motivation. Basically, they broke motivation down into intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic is when the motivation to workout comes from inside. You workout, run, go to the gym, whatever because you enjoy it.

Extrinsic is when the motivation comes from an external source like signing up for a race or rewarding yourself for completing your workout.

Yeah. I know. Shocking. But it’s nice to have a reminder!

Anyway, the article goes on to give some examples of motivators that work for each type of person.

But what if you fall into both categories? Actually, I think this is the best way to be. If you’re only extrinsic you might find that you’re a one-and-done kind of person. We all know them. We may have even been them. The person who signs up for a race, does it, and never runs again. Or, in my case, the person who did two triathlons and is debating whether or not to do more because I have no desire to go swimming.


Although, let’s be honest. Getting your picture in triathlon promo materials is pretty awesome.

If you’re only intrinsic you might find yourself getting bored with the same routine. You might need something external to get you motivated again.

I fully believe I fall into both camps. I currently don’t really have any extrinsic fitness goals. Sure, I’m signed up for a half marathon and I might sign up for another one because I do like running them, but I don’t have a time goal.

Sure, I lift a lot of weights but, unlike last year when I wanted to be able to deadlift twice my body weight and do a pull-up, I don’t have a lifting goal. I just really like to lift! For 45 minutes I don’t have to think about anything other than picking up something heavy.


In fact, I think my only extrinsic goal is to build up muscle so that it’s actually visible on a day-to-day basis. And this is such a long-term goal that if I was only focused on it I’m sure I would have quit my current workout regime a long time ago.

So, personally, I think that whether you find you are more motivated by intrinsic or extrinsic motivators you have to love what you’re doing or you won’t find a way to keep doing it. Not rocket science, right?

Right now, for me, that’s focusing on lifting with a bit of cardio thrown in. In the past it was just running with very little else. And it might change again in the future. Who knows?

What about you? Do you find you are more intrinsically or extrinsically motivated to workout?

I also recently listed to a great podcast about how little changes are the key to creating a routine and how that routine can keep you motivated. Give it a listen, especially if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed in the whole health and fitness arena.

Oh! In addition to listing this week’s workouts below, I also added a Recipe of the Week section! Let me know what you think of this addition.


This week’s workouts:

  • Monday – Chest/Shoulders/Triceps + 20 minutes HIIT on the treadmill (1 minute fast, 1 minute recovery)
  • Tuesday – Workout with my trainer (5×5 deadlifts @ 210 lbs, 5×5 bench press @ 80 lbs, 4×5 front squat @ 90 lbs, 4×3 pull-ups)
  • Wednesday – Back & Biceps + 20 minutes HIIT on the stairmill
  • Thursday – Legs
  • Friday – Rest
  • Saturday – 10 miles
  • Sunday – Rest


Recipe of the week: Honey Mustard Chicken with Turmeric

I have several recipes that I make on a regular basis but at least once a week or so I try to add in something new. Last week that was this Honey Mustard Chicken with Turmeric.

And it was so good that Jason requested it again for dinner this week.

I am NOT a food photographer so don’t expect pictures every week. Instead, how about the tweaks I made to the recipe?

Actually, the only tweak I made was to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in, skin-on. Also, I just seared them in a pan with some Pam spray to cut down on the fat. They won’t get super crispy because they don’t have skin, but it’s really okay.

Also, because they don’t have a bone you won’t have to bake them as long. I did 15 minutes or so.

Served with some steamed broccolini with salt, pepper and a squirt of lemon juice and you have dinner in about 30 minutes!

According to MyFitnessPal, one serving (two pieces of chicken) is 320 calories with 12 grams of fat, 14 grams of carbs, and 34 grams of protein.

And the leftovers? Make the perfect protein to add to salad for lunch the next day!


Let’s have a little fun for Valentine’s Day


We’re not big on Valentine’s Day in our house, but that didn’t stop me from putting on a fun red dress and taking some fun photos with a professional photographer a few weeks ago.


Dress – Express (similar) | Shoes – Bandolino (similar)
Hair & Make-up – Georgia HM


similar necklace

I found out about this professional photo event through a blog friend who used to do some modeling. For only $60 we got hair, make-up, and two hours with two different photographers in a really neat venue. I’m still waiting on the photos from the other photographer, but I couldn’t wait to show you these.

Because, I mean, if you want to have some fun for Valentine’s Day what’s better than a sexy red dress?


Stay tuned as I intersperse more professional photos over the next few weeks and tell you more about the event.


Cocktails for Charity [Things to Do in Chicago]


Note: this post is not sponsored although Revae did offer me a bottle of Sirop in exchange for helping her promote her fundraiser. 

A few years ago I attended an awesome mixology class with Femme du Coupe at the home of another blogger. I loved it so much that I ended up hosting one at my house with my friends for my birthday.

Revae came to my apartment fully armed with everything we’d need to make some tasty, tasty drinks. From what I recall, we had a great time and drank some tasty beverages. I even  learned how to mix a drink using the shaker cup and a glass. The secret is in the palm of your hand, literally.


Recently I found out that Revae is training for the Lavaman Triathlon in Hawaii with Team in Training. As a newbie triathlete myself (who also loves booze) I am all for supporting other triathletes! Which is why I wanted to share Revae’s Will Tri for Booze event with you:


All the details here: 

Revae is also the force behind the drinks at Bar Siena which is just up the street from me. So OF COURSE I plan to attend her mixology class fundraiser there on March 2nd.

However, if that date doesn’t work for you, she’s got two others plus a cocktail hour coming up. Heck, I might just go to the cocktail hour, too.

Trust me. Revae creates awesome drinks and you will have a great time learning how to make them.


So, who’s joining me??


A random assortment of clothes

Casual Friday · Office Appropriate Outfits - Winter

A few weeks ago I threw together this outfit but it only made it to Instagram. However, I loved it so much that I wanted to get better photos. So, I recreated it.

My original plan when I packed my gym bag that morning was just the plaid shirt. But, that shirt is kind of boxy on me so I felt it needed something to give it shape. My first instinct was to go for my olive cargo vest but I also felt that was a cop-out. This particular shirt has some black in it so why not go for a black vest?


Vest – Target (similar) | Shirt – Old Navy (similar) | Jeans – Old Navy (same) | Boots – Sam Edelman c/o Shopbop (same) | Watch c/o JORD (same)

All piled together it kind of looked like a random assortment of stuff. Jeans, brown boots, plaid shirt and a black moto vest? Interesting. But, for some reason it all works together.

I also like adding the white long sleeved tee under the plaid shirt and pushing up the sleeves on both. I think it helps add some visual interest to the outfit. Also, when it’s cold in Chicago, it adds some warmth. Always appreciated, right?



SIA: A Splash of Gold

Office Appropriate Outfits - Winter · Style Imitating Art

Remember the faux leather leggings I purchased in January? In fact, my only purchase in January?

I love them. I never want to take them off. I want to wear them every day. And, by the way, they’re on sale.


Cardigan – Nordstrom Rack | Shirt – Express (similar) | Pants – Club Monaco c/o Shopbop (same) | Boots – Express (similar) | Watch – gift (same)

I paired them with this blue top and my black faux suede boots and felt pretty sassy all day. I wasn’t in love with this cardigan and kind of wish I’d gone with a striped one, but in the end I stayed with black.

All together this outfit has the dark night sky colors the echo the painting that Salazar chose for this week’s Style Imitating Art challenge. The gold zipper on the top is a nod to the firework-eque splashes in the night sky.

Anyway, back to these leggings. When I first put them on it was like putting on a wetsuit. And if you’e never put on a wetsuit, well, let’s just say it was challenging. Thankfully they’ve stretched out just enough to make it so they go on a bit more easily. And I don’t have to wear a belt! And they don’t fall down! And I think they make my legs look nice.


Also, I got some of my professional photos back and I’m looking forward to sharing them on the blog! In the meantime, I’ve put a few sneak peeks on my Facebook page if you want to go take a look.

Finally, happy birthday to my husband! His birthday was actually yesterday and we went out to dinner on Saturday night. We went to RPM Steak and it was lovely! Plus, it gave us an excuse to put on some nice clothes and try to take some pictures of ourselves.


Dress – Stitch Fix (similar) | Long necklace – Le Tote (same) | Short necklace – The Limited (similar)


My Thoughts on Orangetheory Fitness [Fitness Friday]


I mentioned in last week’s Fitness Friday post that I recently attended an Orangetheory Fitness class. It’s actually the second time I’ve taken an Orangetheory class. I took one last year at a different location but both times I’ve enjoyed it. Both times they were complimentary classes but neither time was I paid or required to write about it.

So, what is Orangetheory? Well, I could tell you what it says on their website or I could tell you what I told my running club:

If you like HIIT training and get bored of just doing weight lifting for 45 minutes straight then Orangetheory is great. Typically it switches between weights, treadmill and either the rowing machine or a stationary bike. It’s a great way to get in cardio and weights at the same time without getting bored or not knowing what to do. They also let you set your own pace on the treadmill so it doesn’t matter if you’re super speedy or not. You can also “speedwalk” during the treadmill portions if running isn’t in your repertoire right now.

Both times I’ve gone I was a bad blogger who didn’t take any photos. So, I’ll give you this one that I took after my own Wednesday night HIIT session on the treadmill in my apartment gym.


Anyway, back to Orangetheory. Both times I went the instructor helpfully had all the first timers gather around while they went over the workout. As mentioned above, Orangetheory is a mixture of rowing, strength training with dumbbells, bodyweight, and TRX straps, and treadmill intervals.

You typically get to pick where you start. So, if you want to get your running in first then you start on the treadmills. If you want to do strength first while you’re feeling fresh, go for it.

Both times I’ve gone I’ve started on the rowing (or “erg”) machine. It’s the exercise I’m least familiar with so I wanted to do it first while I was fresh. And both times the instructor did a good job explaining correct form and how to read the machine’s computer. The whole workout is basically 15 minutes at each station and the 15 minutes of rowing was broken up into a several different sets. When I went last week, after a warm-up, the first set was to row 200 meters as fast as possible…because then you had to hold a body weight air squat for the same amount of time it took you to do that 200. Repeat with 400 meters and 600 meters.  Next it was to row at least a certain distance in a certain amount of time. And then it was some steady state rowing to finish out the time.

Meanwhile, a group was on the treadmills doing their thing and a group was doing strength. You’d think it would get confusing but you get so focused on where you’re at that you don’t even notice the other groups!

And here’s the cool thing: If you love data you will LOVE Orangetheory. Everyone gets to wear a heart rate monitor (included in the class fee) and you can see what “zone” you’re in on a screen during class. You’d think this would make some people self conscious but most people are just concerned with where they are personally.


The instructor will tell you what color zone you should be in so you know if you’re working too hard or not hard enough. Of course, it’s all up to you if you want to follow their advice.

For example, during the steady state rowing the instructor told us to be in the green zone. She also gave us guidance on where our wattage and strokes-per-minute should be. Very helpful.

Next it was on to the strength portion of the evening. I’d already lifted that day so I was planning to take it easy. But the instructor could tell I was strong and encouraged me to work a little harder. No slacking off here! We did a variety of exercises that hit biceps, hamstrings, glutes, and back. The entire time the exercises we were supposed to be doing and how many reps of each were on a video monitor in case we forgot.  To be honest, the strength portion is always my least favorite because I already do so much of this on my own. I’m really just there for the high intensity interval cardio.

Which you definitely get when you hit the treadmill. You pick your “base pace” which is basically what I would call your 3-5 mile training pace. And if that means walking that’s fine too! They even have a whole regime just for walkers. Can’t run or walk? Use the stationary bike instead! Once you’ve set your base pace the instructor will yell out how many MPH you need to increase from there for certain intervals.

The treadmill part always kicks my butt because they combine speed with incline. My heart rate is always in the orange or red. Which, by the way, for every number of minutes you spend in the orange and red zones you earn “splat points”. If I recall correctly the goal is to earn at least 12 splat points which will give you another 24-36 hours of metabolic efficiency. Or, colloquially, an “after burn effect”.

And then, after your workout, you get an email with all your results!

orangetheoryresults1 orangetheoryresults2

I could totally see how Orangetheory would be a great addition for someone who needs the structure of  a class to get in their strength and interval training. It would be a good addition to just running all the time, too.

But, personally, I’m doing okay on my own right now and like the flexibility of being able to workout when I want instead of needing to sign up for a class.

However, if you like classes where you can push yourself as hard as you want, love data but also aren’t in it for the camaraderie (seriously, there is no time to talk until afterward if you brought a friend) then I would suggest checking out an Orangetheory class. I think the first one might even be free!


This week’s workouts:

Monday – Legs

Tuesday – workout with my personal trainer

Wednesday – Back & Biceps + 20 minute HIIT on the treadmill

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Legs + 20 minute HIIT on the stationary bike (planned)

Saturday – 9 mile run (planned)

Sunday – Rest


Let’s pretend it’s almost spring


I don’t religiously follow the runway trends and I’ve never been to a Fashion Week event of any kind, but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally want to incorporate something new into my wardrobe! Except, as you know, I’m trying not to buy clothes right now. So, how can I incorporate at least one hot spring fashion trend, such as lingerie, vintage or off-the-shoulder looks using items I already have?

Well, I certainly don’t plan to show up to work in my bra and underwear, but how about a lace top with a blazer as a nod to the lingerie trend? Add in a silk scarf and you’ve got two lingerie-esque fabrics in one outfit!


Looking at lists of what the upcoming spring trends are going to be, they tend to call them by different names. At least one has said the 90s are coming back, especially slip dresses. So, does that count as vintage, lingerie or just the 90s? Either way, I might not have any more slip dresses but I do have some flannel and leather which were staples of the 90s grunge scene. Or maybe I’ll just pair my faux leather moto jacket with a dress and ankle boots.


Totally should have kept this slip dress from 1994!

As for the whole off-the-shoulder or cold-shoulder trend, I don’ think I own much of anything that fits this trend. Which is why I love Le Tote! Remember the top I wore for my girl’s night out look? Yep, that one fits the bill with its ability to unzip the shoulders. All the trendiness, none of the regret of buying something you’ll only wear once or twice.


So, what do you think? Do you see yourself trying to incorporate any of the upcoming spring trends in your wardrobe? Do you already have items that will work?


Five Small Goals [February]

About Me

Back in January, Bri introduced that she was going to focus on five small goals each month. I thought, ‘What a great idea!’ and then never did anything else.

Well, that changes today! Bri posted her update on January and her five February goals this week and I’m not going to procrastinate any more! Here are my five small goals for February.


  1. Do our taxes – Normally we’d have these done by now but we’re still waiting on a few things. Jason had three jobs in 2015 so that is going to make it interesting. Yay for TurboTax!
  2. Buy my personal training certification study materials – We got our bonus and raise information at work this week and I know where some of that is going! I’ve decided to go with NSCA because that’s what my current gym trainer has and I love him. He’s also already said he’d be a resource for me if I need help with anything.
  3. Read at least one book – I’m flying to Florida in two weeks and I love to read on the plane. I just need to find a good book. Any recommendations?
  4. Try a new restaurant – Is it cheating to put this on the list when we already have reservations at RPM Steak for Jason’s birthday on Friday?
  5. Schedule at least one happy hour with friends – I’m really bad about reaching out and scheduling things with people so if I put this as a goal hopefully I will hold myself accountable.

One other slightly more obvious goal for February? Run the Gasparilla Half Marathon (the reason I’m flying to Florida).

There are so many things I want to accomplish this year but I’m pretty bad at goal setting. Hopefully having a little list each month will help!

Linking up with Writes Like a Girl





I wish that I could be like the cool kids

Casual Clothes

Don’t forget to vote. It’s what all the cool kids are doing. 

My husband was out of town all day Saturday so I had this grand vision: I would take my laptop to the coolest coffee shop in what is arguably the coolest neighborhood in Chicago. I would get an Instagramable coffee and doughnut and set up my laptop and work.

Hahaha, yeah. I am not that cool.


Hat – boutique in Sausalito, CA (similar) |  Jacket – Zara (similar) | Shirt – J. Crew Factory (similar) | Jeans – American Eagle Outfitters (same) | Boots – Sam Edelman c/o Shopbop (same

The coffee shop was crazy busy. They were out of doughnuts. So, I got my coffee to go and instead went and bought running shoes and came home and worked on my couch.

On Sunday I wanted a re-do. I convinced Jason to walk to the coffee shop with me to get a doughnut AND bring the camera so we could take pictures by the awesome street art outside the place where all the cool kids hang out.


Of course, Jason went to take the picture only to find out we’d left the camera battery at home. iPhone to the rescue!

And, sadly, they were out of doughnuts. Again.

So we went across the street to Bombobar.

But, seriously, you guys. I feel like I’m the nerdiest, least cool fashion blogger in Chicago. And, in the interest of full disclosure, sometimes I’m okay with that and other times I’m not.

And sometimes I just want a doughnut and a cup of coffee and a cool picture so I can pretend I’m cooler than I really am.


P.S. While we’re being honest, I suppose I should say I wore this outfit two days in a row and hadn’t washed my hair when we took these photos.  Yay for weekends!



Favorite Outfit of January

Office Appropriate Outfits - Winter

Before we get to my favorite outfit and your chance to vote for yours, how is everyone’s 2016 going so far? Mine is flying by! I think because January was a busy month for me. So far in 2016 I’ve:

  • Run my fastest 5 mile race ever
  • Celebrated my birthday
  • Tried a new restaurant
  • Worked my butt off for the F3 Half Marathon
  • Had drinks with friends twice
  • Attended a board meeting for my running club
  • Taken an Orangetheory fitness class
  • Worked my regular day job
  • Published 18 blog posts plus one for Le Tote
  • Lifted some gigantic amount of weights at the gym
  • Gotten my picture taken by professional photographers

Thank goodness this week is much quieter! At least until Saturday when we take the dog to the vet and celebrate my husband’s birthday.

Anyway, moving on to the actual point of this post. My favorite outfit (and your chance to vote for yours!)

My favorite is actually one of my most casual. That’s how it’s been lately, it seems. So, I’ll be interested to see if you agree with me this month.


Original post

Yep. Jeans, cargo vest, boots and plaid. Could I be any more basic? I’m okay with that, though.

So, do you agree with me or do you have a different favorite? Vote below!


1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

What was your favorite outfit of January?

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