Sweet Home Chicago

Just a disclaimer: you may come across a few articles about Chicago in the next month or so. I recently found out that I was going to relocate to the East Coast at the end of July.

This means that I will be leaving the city that has been my home for the past six and a half years. Looking back, I realize that it’s been a long time! While I am happy to move on to new adventures, there are definitely many things I will miss about this amazing city.

So this first article will  mention some of the things that make Chicago my home.

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  • Walking/jogging by the lake

In my time here, I have moved a few times within the city, but I always made sure to stay within walking distance to Lake Michigan. It is one of the Great Lakes, so it resembles a sea because you cannot see the other side.  Though it does not have a salty breeze. I love being near the water; it is one of the few things that relax me. I don’t really care for lake beaches, but it is in Chicago that I really started jogging on a regular basis.  While I am no marathon runner, I go at least once a week on the lake path and it has become essential to my well-being. I should also add that the view of the skyline from the lakefront is pretty amazing.

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  • The yearly traditions

I love that Chicago has all four seasons, although the Spring often blends into the others. Each one of them brings yearly events that I love to attend. Two in particular are my favorites:

– The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House, which happens every year in October. For a weekend, many public and private buildings are made available to the public. Chicago’s architecture is amazing and I love exploring places that are closed to the public most of the time. It is like a weekend adventure into the unknown without leaving your own city and the list of participating locations change every year.

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– The ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo. Chicago has a free zoo in the heart of the city and every Christmas, in collaboration with ComEd, they deck out the entire space with colorful light displays. It is like walking into a magical wonderland and I have not missed it since December 2012!

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  • The food scene

Chicago has an amazing restaurant scene. For a place famous for its hot dogs, pizza and Italian beef, the food scene is actually very diverse! There are a lot of up and coming restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines, and my boyfriend and I love exploring new hot spots, whether they are gastronomic institutions, or neighborhood gems. As a tribute to our neighborhood, and because I intend to make a more expansive article on restaurants later, I will only mention the unassuming places we typically walk to and leave out the acclaimed culinary temples you will find on a guide. Our favorite for Thai is Andy’s Thai Kitchen. For a local burger we got to DryHop or Kuma’s too.  For sushi – and the competition is fierce around here – we love Sushi Mon, and my favorite, everyday/healthy option is Vegetarian Express. This place is literally a hole in the wall; as a matter of fact I don’t think I ever ate inside it, but their food makes for awesome take out!

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  • The neighborhoods

Chicago has a multitude of neighborhoods. When I first arrived, I was surprised of how serious people are about the neighborhood they are from. They all have a different vibe and different trends. The funny part is as I spent time in the city, I too became attached to my neighborhood! Chicago is so spread out that people end up spending a lot of time in their respective neighborhoods because it helps make living here more personal.

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Here are some of my favorites: Lakeview (you should hit up Boystown at least once!) for the bar life and fun times. Lincoln Park and Old Town are a bit more yuppy, but they are my favorite areas to live. I love the old brownstones! Wicker Park, aka hipster central, is super popular for vintage shops, bars and entertainment. River North is the hip, urban neighborhood with a booming night life and the West Loop developed a top notch foodie scene. Make sure to spend some quality time with its Randolph street restaurants. Because I am lazy, I do not often venture there, but these neighborhoods are also worth exploring: Pilsen, with its vibrant murals and rich Mexican influence is a good one. Hyde Park, home of the renowned University of Chicago and Barack Obama, is also definitely worth the trip! Just a tip though, rely on a car or take the Metra (the commuter rail system) as they can be hard to reach with the CTA.

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After writing this, I realize I have so much more to write about Chicago, so bear with me through the summer!

 

How technology can help stay in shape

As far as I remember, food was always a big deal for me. I really love eating and I used to be a bit of an emotional eater. When I had a bad day, I would find comfort in eating. As a result, I struggled to keep a balanced weight and this is where technology actually helped me a lot.

First of all, thanks to YouTube, my booty is now firm. I practice different activities. I go running and I have a gym membership, but what I love about using YouTube to exercise is that you don’t need to get ready, get into your car or walk to the gym. Whether it is in the morning after I wake up, or after a day at work, I just need to turn on my phone, take my gym mat and here we go. I love working out outdoors, but  I deeply believe that I wouldn’t have obtained the same results without YouTube. It helps me stay active even when it’s raining or I’m feeling lazy. No more excuses.

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There are a billion You-tubers that will  make your muscles sore and bring your heart out of your chest. My big favorite is  Cassey Ho from Blogilates. She knows how to motivate me and is more like a friend than a coach. She definitely knows how to make it burn. I also like Chloe Ting, because her videos challenge me every time.

YouTube is not the only way I use technology to get fit.  Thanks to our smartphones,  it is now possible to know how many steps we took all day, how many stories we climbed up, how many kilometers or miles we walked and even how many calories we burned. Being able to know this type of information motivates me to be more active. Until I got the Apple Watch, I was using the podometre++  app on my iPhone. There are similar apps on Android devices. With the Apple Watch, I have a lot more details about my activities and I can set my daily goals. For example, my watch reminds me to stand up if it finds me too lazy. Above all, I love that we can share our activities with our friends, support one another and sometimes even tease each other. As a huge Apple fan, I could talk about the Apple Watch for days, but I’ll start to annoy you guys so if you want more information, you can find it here.

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Looks that my girls are working hard today

On top of helping me move my butt, technology also helps me manage what I eat. I use the Yazio app, also available on Android. With this app you can calculate the calories you eat everyday. I have to admit that counting calories can be a bit constrictive, so I use the app to make sure that my meals are balanced. When I see that I have crossed the line and ate too much, I use the app to set me back on track. It helps me maintain a balance without feeling the frustration of a diet. I don’t believe in dieting anyway. I believe we have to find balance between what we eat and what we burn.

There are lots of similar apps to Yazio. For example, I find Lifesum to be a very complete fitness app, although I still use Yazio because I am accustomed to it.

Last, but not the least, is Instagram. You can find many accounts for a healthy life and food ideas or Fitspo. I think it has a great impact on our lives by encouraging the exchange of this kind of content.

Here are some accounts I like:

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@fashionablefit
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@amandabisk
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@healthier_world
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@mimmidousis
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@sjanaelise
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@yourhealthyworld

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