Author Archives: Erin @ Loop Looks

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A Chicago Loop Girl Goes To Work

aquamermaid_chicago

Swimming Like a Mermaid [Fitness Friday]

Fitness

Several months ago I was invited to check out AquaMermaid Chicago. After seeing it on several other blogs I was VERY interested! A swim workout that is as much about play as it is about swimming? Yes, please. Even though I’ve done several sprint triathlons, swimming is still not my favorite. But playing around in the water? I’m totally down with that. It took us a while to find a date that worked, but once we did I was IN!

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Photo courtesy of AquaMermaid Chicago

(that’s me in the pinkish red tail!)

The lessons currently take place at the UIC student rec center on their west campus which is just an easy Divvy bike ride from me. It was really chilly the day I went, though, so I was happy that Emily joined me and that she drove. I didn’t really factor in biking home with wet hair!

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Thanks to Emily for the photo!

I fully admit that the logistics of putting on a mermaid tail are a bit weird and it took the instructor a bit to get around to helping all of us. If you go, be sure to get there early! But not too early (like me) since they tend to have classes back-to-back and you might be standing around awkwardly for a bit.

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First you put your feet into the fin and adjust the straps around the backs of your heels. I have weird feet that are wide at the front and super narrow in the back so I struggled the whole class to keep my fin on! They recommend that if you have smaller feet to wear water socks or neoprene booties. I wish I’d had some. They might have helped.

Anyway, once you have your fin adjusted you actually take your feet out and pull on the tail. It has a zipper on the bottom that you then put the fin into, place your feet in the fin, and zip it up. Ta da! You’re now a mermaid!

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A mermaid who wears goggles. And a nose clip. But still a mermaid!

Once you’re in the water you basically have to learn to swim with your core and your legs. After spending two years trying to learn how to swim WITHOUT using my legs as much, this was quite challenging for me. I started to get the hang of it right at the end but, man, it was more difficult than I expected.

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Photo courtesy of AquaMermaid Chicago

We learned to swim through hoops underwater, do somersaults and underwater flips, and, of course, handstands. If you take more classes  you eventually learn to do some synchronized swimming as well as some more advanced tricks.

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Photo courtesy of AquaMermaid Chicago

One of which should be how to take a good underwater photo. This was our best attempt.

Anyway, this was a fun thing to try! Especially if you love being in the water but hate swimming laps. They do classes for all ages, too, so if you have nieces (or nephews!) this would be a fun thing to do with them.  If you’re uncomfortable in deep water they have pool noodles to help out or you can just ask to stay in the shallow end.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can visit AquaMermaid Chicago on Facebook,  Instagram or on their website. You can even buy your own mermaid tail!

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Thank you to AquaMermaid Chicago for having me! And, yes, they let me take the class free of charge but all opinions are my own.

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A little behind on my marathon training summaries, so here’s two weeks in a row.

  • Monday 11/21 – 6 mile run + lower body strength workout
  • Tuesday 11/22 – Upper body strength workout
  • Wednesday 11/23 – 4×800 treadmill run + lower body strength workout
  • Thursday 11/24 – 6 mile run
  • Friday 11/25 – 3.5 mile walk
  • Saturday 11/26 – 12 mile run
  • Sunday 11/27 – Rest
  • Monday 11/28 – 6 mile run + lower body strength workout
  • Tuesday 11/29 – Upper body strength workout
  • Wednesday 11/30 – 8×400 treadmill intervals (6 miles total)
  • Thursday 12/1 – Upper body strength workout + 6 mile run
  • Friday 12/2 – Lower body strength workout
  • Saturday 12/3 – 14 mile run
  • Sunday 12/4 – Rest
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Favorite Outfit of November

Casual Friday · Office Appropriate Outfits - Fall

For the past few months Jason and I have been trying to have a date night of some kind each week. However, recently our date nights have consisted of viewing apartments, townhomes, or duplexes that have garage space where Jason can work on his car.

Yes, there’s a really good chance we’ll be moving out of Chicago’s West Loop. This makes me sad but I’m trying to look forward to a discovering a new neighborhood. Our plan is to stay in the city, though. Our lease isn’t up for several months, however, so I’m a bit stressed about what happens if we find a great spot but can’t find someone to take over our lease.

Speaking of which, anyone want to rent an awesome condo in the West Loop?? I’m not kidding.

Anyway, when we weren’t looking at places, I kept busy doing other things. Such as…

  • Attended the Illinois Science Council Cocktail Party
  • Took our second welding class
  • Watched Jason at his last car race of the year
  • Sat on a panel for a friend’s class (he’s an adjunct professor)
  • Started looking at new apartments/townhomes/duplexes
  • Had dinner at our neighbor’s while listening to actual vinyl records
  • Learned to swim like a mermaid (post coming soon!)
  • Celebrated Thanksgiving with both our families
  • Finally made it to a Moonfish pop-up shop
  • Kept up with my marathon training and weight lifting

And, of course, wearing outfits. Below are this month’s choices for your voting pleasure. My favorite is probably the cold-shoulder top outfit. Although I’ve now worn the purple sweater outfit at least three times. So, that one wins for comfiest!

What’s your pick? Don’t forget to vote below!

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1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

 

What was your favorite outfit of November?

View Results

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SIA: Sunset on 2016

Style Imitating Art

Jen‘s pick for our last Style Imitating Art challenge of 2016 is Edward Hopper’s “Railroad Sunset“. This seems appropriate for two reasons. One, it’s the end of the year and metaphorically we’ll be seeing the sunset on 2016 very soon. And two, she started off the year with a painting titled “Sunrise“.

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“Railroad Sunset” by Edward Hopper

We’re getting into the season of year-end round-ups and top 10 lists and all of that stuff. I know you’ll see a lot of the same type of posts on blogs and websites, so is there anything in particular you’d like to see from me? I’m open to all your ideas!

In the mean time, if you want to participate in this final SIA challenge for 2016, just snap a photo of an outfit inspired by this painting (selfies and flat lays are fine, too) and send it to librarianforlifestyle@gmail.com by Monday, December 12th. She’ll feature the round-up on her blog on December 13th.

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Just a sweater and some leggings

Casual Clothes · Office Appropriate Outfits - Fall

So, I fully admit that I think I blew my entire plan to save money by not shopping when I went to the Moonfish Pop-Up shop earlier this year. You already saw my black top, jeans and necklace, but I also purchased this amazing sweater. Because, you see, when I told Sarah that I didn’t own anything to really wear with leggings she basically refused to let me leave without trying it on. And, of course, I loved it.

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Sweater – LA Made via Moonfish | Leggings – c/o Moonfish | Boots – Sam Edelman c/o Shopbop (same

It’s so soft and cozy and….long. So, yes, it covers my butt. And, yes, I’m wearing leggings as pants. But, as I mentioned the last time I wore these leggings, they’re structured enough to feel like skinny jeans.

This sweater can also be worn off-the-shoulder, but that always feels kind of awkward to me. So, instead, I’m sticking with the cowl neck that is just slouchy enough to be comfy but not so crazy as to be overwhelming.

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However, it turns out that my office at work cranks the heat near my desk when it’s cold outside! So, for once, I won’t necessarily be bundled up all winter. I’m sure, though, I’ll find enough opportunities to wear this sweater. I mean, wouldn’t you?

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SIA: Tempest in a Hat

Casual Friday · Office Appropriate Outfits - Fall

I think I must still be in a food coma because I’m struggling with writing something interesting today. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family and then Jason’s family so there was a bit of travel and a lot of food!

On Thanksgiving proper we were at my parents and, although I had a different outfit originally planned, I ended  up in my favorite black jeans and this cobalt blue top. And, true to form, it was only after I had it on that I realized it worked perfectly for this week’s Style Imitating Art choice.

And of course I had to borrow a hat from my mom since she had the perfect one sitting in her closet, unworn!

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Scarf – gift (similar) | Top – Express (similar) | Jeans – Paige c/o Shopbop (same) | Shoes – Sam Edelman c/o Shopbop (same)

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I also didn’t do any Black Friday shopping, although that’s not unusual for me. I think last year I bought a purse but that was it. This year? Nothing as of yet. And I’m totally okay with that. Instead, on Friday we went for a 3.5 mile walk, drank margaritas, and played Sequence.

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Saturday we drove to Indianapolis to visit Jason’s family where I got in a 12 mile run before spending the rest of the day with them.

Now it’s back to the grind for a few weeks before I take a short vacation to Santa Fe, New Mexico and then celebrate Christmas!

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Things I’ve worn 100 times

Casual Friday · Office Appropriate Outfits - Fall · Shopping

Don’t forget to enter the Moonfish giveaway!

I have this habit of wearing something 100 times right after I buy it because it’s foremost on my mind. Currently it’s either these flats or, since it’s gotten colder, these boots.

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Cardigan – Le Tote (same) | Necklace – Le Tote (same) | Jeans – Paige c/o Shopbop (same) | Booties – Steven c/o Shopbop (same

I enjoy buying shoes from Shopbop because they carry my two favorite brands: Sam Edelman and STEVEN. They even restocked my favorite Sam Edelman riding boots.

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These jeans are also my favorite black jeans I’ve ever bought. Highly, highly recommended.

And, guess what? It’s all on sale, just in time for holiday shopping for yourself or someone else.

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Sale ends 11:59 PM Pacific on Monday, 11/28

Last year during this sale I bought my leather cross-body tote bag. This year? I haven’t decided yet. I’m debating either another pair of the Sam Edelman flats because they are SUPER comfortable. Or maybe a pair of Sperry duck boots. Or maybe I’ll be generous and buy some Christmas gifts. Anything you want me to pick up for you?

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All Moonfish, All the Time [Giveaway!]

Casual Clothes · Casual Friday · Shopping

Remember my post about how I finally found leggings that I would actually wear out in public thanks to Moonfish? Well, I finally  made it to a Moonfish pop-up shop and, let me tell you, they have so many other cute things and Sarah, the woman behind Moonfish, does a GREAT job of picking out items for you to try on that you probably wouldn’t have picked yourself but, once you have them on, you can’t imagine taking them off.

For example, the entire outfit I wore literally the day after I went shopping at the pop-up at Beermiscuous.

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Scarf c/o Moonfish | Top – LAMade via Moonfish | Jeans – Principle via Moonfish | Shoes – Sam Edelman c/o Shopbop (same) | Necklace – Soko via Moonfish

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These jeans, you guys, These jeans. I want to wear them every single day. They are the best fitting pair of denim I currently own. Finally! Jeans that fit my waist AND my thighs. And they were around $100 which, yes, is more than Old Navy but for something I can wear all the time now? Yes, I want many, many more pairs.

Which is why I will be doing my best to attend the next Moonfish pop-up at the end of November.

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In the mean time, I have a great giveaway of just two of the awesome items you can find at Moonfish: a hat with a furry pompom and a wonderfully cozy scarf!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Want another chance to win something awesome from Moonfish? Check out Erica’s giveaway!

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SIA: Tempest

Style Imitating Art

Guess what! It’s finally acting like winter here in Chicago and it basically came out of nowhere. Last Friday it was 70 degrees and I was running in shorts and a t-shirt. On Saturday I had to wear leggings, a long sleeved top, a jacket, gloves, and a hat for my run.

Which is why I think Salazar’s pick for this week’s Style Imitating Art, “Tempest” is quite appropriate.

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Source

This painting is by a Florida artist named John Larriva, who according to his CV, is actually a year younger than me. He’s got some really interesting items on his website (for sale, even!) and I recommend you go check it out. He even did an “Inktober” challenge where he tried to do a new drawing each day for a month. Pretty cool.

I’m looking forward to interpreting this piece because I’ve actually been drawn to neutrals, black, and simple outfits lately.  Shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with something. Especially since with our cold weather arrival hats are completely appropriate, too.

As always, if you want to participate, snap a picture of your outfit inspired by this artwork and send it to 14shadesofgreyblog@gmail.com by next Monday, November 28th.

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My own six pack ab experiment [Fitness Friday]

Fitness

I recently read an article titled “I Got Six-Pack Abs in Six Weeks. Here’s How I Feel One Year Later” and a lot of it really resonated with me.

Granted, I didn’t get six pack abs in six weeks, but I did get them over the course of about a year and a half.

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November 2015

I was lifting weights 4-5 days a week, doing HIIT training one or two days a week and doing a long run on the weekend. I was also tracking every gram of fat, carbs and protein (aka macros) I ate about 85% of the time.

I felt amazing. I loved how I looked. And I didn’t think it was affecting my social life too much. But, in the interest of full disclosure, I lost my period (yes, I’m talking about that again). I mean, I’m not planning on using my reproductive system but I understand it’s not healthy to go into amenorrhea.

So, I kept my workouts pretty much the same but stopped counting every macro I put on my plate. I posted about specifically trying to gain weight this past February. Well, I’ve definitely put weight back on.

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November 2016

I still look pretty good, though! And while my jeans aren’t falling off me anymore, they all still fit. I’m still feel awesome, can still lift really heavy and, heck I’m training for a marathon!! Someone at work recently asked if I was still following my meal plan and I said that since I was marathon training I needed to eat more. So, I do.

But here’s the rub: just like the author of that article, body image is weird after you get six pack abs and then (kind of) lose them. You think, “Oh, I have to keep it up! Everyone said I looked amazing! What will they think when I don’t look like that any more?” Or, “My love handles didn’t used to hang over these pants…did they?”

It’s weird. So weird. I can’t imagine what people who do body building or bikini competitions go through!

Still, though, I’m glad I did it. I actually learned a lot about how to eat to fuel your workouts and re-fuel afterward. I learned a lot of new recipes that I still make. I still love lifting and refuse to cut back even though I’m marathon training. But I also learned that I love wine and ice cream and pizza. However, I admit, I still feel a bit guilty when I eat those things. So, yeah, if you want to get six pack abs and you’re not naturally predisposed to them, just know you can probably do it, but it might not be easy physically or mentally to get them or keep them.

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  • Monday 11/7 – Lower body strength workout + 5 mile run
  • Tuesday 11/8 – Upper body strength workout
  • Wednesday 11/9 – 5.5 mile run
  • Thursday 11/10 – Lower body strength workout
  • Friday 11/11 – 2 mile run (treadmill) + upper body strength workout
  • Saturday 11/12 – 10 mile run
  • Sunday 11/13 – Rest
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Renting the Runway…in Person

Shopping

I’ve mentioned Rent the Runway in the past a few times. I rented a dress from them for a friend’s wedding, wore one of their dresses when I went to the horse races for the first time, and rented a tulle skirt from them when I wanted something fun to wear to a dog prom.

The first Saturday in November Jason and I attended the Illinois Science Council Science Cocktail Party and I wanted to use it as an excuse to dress up. Their emails always say to wear “weather appropriate cocktail party attire” but also go on to say that if you don’t feel like dressing up you can wear jeans and flannel, too. So, really, it’s anything goes!

I was debating wearing my gold dress (sans blazer and tights) or renting something from Rent the Runway. I debated until it was too late to order something online. But, wait! Rent the Runway has a brick-and-mortar location here in Chicago! I made an appointment and showed up on Saturday afternoon to a dressing room full of dresses for me to try on.

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1 (same in red)| 2 | 3 | 4

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1 |2 | 3| 4

Plus a few others (like this one and this one) that I didn’t take pictures of. Although many of these look great in photos, they didn’t all fit perfectly. Until I tried on the one on the bottom right. fullsizerender-3It was kind of like when I was trying on wedding dresses; I knew this was THE one. It fit perfectly, the slit made it more fun than a regular sheath dress, and the colors, pattern and fabric made it a great choice for a fancy-but-not-fancy event.

Being able to try on so many dresses was the perfect way to choose something. Plus, since I was   doing a same-day rental I was able to get accessories for $15. The dress itself? $30 to rent! It retails for $465 so this was a great deal. Plus, as I tried on dresses my stylist would go out to the floor and find more things for me to try on as she saw the items on me. I didn’t even have to leave the fitting room area!

Plus, after I wore it I just put into a bag and dropped it at the UPS store! I didn’t even have to go back to the physical location to return it.

I highly recommend using the Rent the Runway location in Chicago (or find one near you) if you need a dress for an occasion. They also rent fancy clothing (blazers, jackets, tops, etc) and accessories (purses, jewelry). It’s so much fun to try on so many fun things that I could never afford normally. Now, I just need more reasons to wear fun dresses!

This is not a sponsored post. I just had such a good time and wanted to share it with all of you!