How to live to be 100+


CrossFit Chicago Women’s Classes-1 FREE Month!

Are you a person that likes to leave everything on the floor at the gym?  No, not literally, but physically…You push yourself to your max and had one of those workouts were your muscles shake, but you feel so accomplished and proud.

CrossFit Chicago can make this all happen and more!  And they now have Women’s Classes that are held every Monday-Thursday.   These classes are lower impact using mainly body-weight movements focusing on agility and cardio.  Think toned, tight, well conditioned body-but not beefed up.

Need another reason to CrossFit?  CrossFit provides a sense of community, and the support you receive from those around you is second to none.  From those just starting a workout regimen to ex-college athletes, you challenge yourself, and yourself only with the help of trained coaches. 

So why wouldn’t you want to give it a try, especially if it is free for a month?  CrossFit Chicago is generously offering Healthy in Chicago readers 1 MONTH free of CrossFit classes.  Start the new year off right and do one thing a day that scares you-challenge yourself and look good while doing it!

Email to sign up today!

 Read more about the CrossFit workout here

Own Your Happy

 When I started the Healthy in Chicago blog, I told myself I wasn’t going to be a person who talks about how many calories I burned each day, took pictures of what I ate, or talked a lot about my personal life.  Not saying there is anything wrong with those blogs, but as we all know, there are many out there.  With that being said, I knew for the past few months that I would have to break that rule with this post and talk more about myself than before.

 Over the past 6 months or so, everything that I knew has changed; I left my job, started a business, started other work in a new place, made new friends, got a puppy, ended a relationship; and lost a best friend and roommate, and sadly witnessed someone losing their life.  This isn’t a post about how much things suck, or anything of that sort.   It is more a reflection of my life lessons from this year and how I am working to own my happy to ultimately move closer to the life I want.

Don’t apologize for who you are and what you want.

I know I am no longer cut out for corporate America.  I’m not sure I ever was, but after leaving, I know for sure I am happier and healthier being in another environment.  I won’t apologize for measuring success by happiness vs. zeros on my pay check.  I won’t apologize for a full passport but an empty (low) bank account.  I am who I am and instead of trying to be someone else for my parents, friends, significant other, society, I will just be me!

Don’t lose yourself, ever.

Don’t forget your goals, and your dreams.  People will come in and out of our lives that may cause us to alter our course, but if something is important to you…make it happen, no matter what.  Don’t compromise too much that you lose touch of what you want and who you are.

My Puppy Love

 Be open to possibilities.

Yes, so much change has occurred in the past months, however many of it was good!  I am continuing to work toward possibilities.  What does that mean?  See every situation, occurrence and moment as a positive opportunity instead of automatically going into your head with all the reasons why not.  I have said yes to new social events which have been some of the best nights out, side work and even a new teaching opportunity because I didn’t over think, I just acted if it felt right.

New friends

 Things happen for a reason.

A cliché saying, but is so true.  I have learned more about myself in the last few months than ever in life.  The road I was going on did a major detour, but even now, I am able to look back and say…thank goodness!  So when your life is crappy, just remember you are being tested for a reason.

Family Support

 Own your happy.

I read this phrase in the past and loved it, but now it is a life motto.  What does it mean to me?  That I have control over my own happiness by making things happen!  I had been fortunate in the past to have many things given to me; an internship that turned into a job offer, promotions from there.  Why look elsewhere when things just keep moving forward?  Because I wasn’t happy!  So what can we all do?  Take the bull by the horns and create a life you love.

I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult

 Move forward.

Every day is a new day.  Being stressed, angry, sad, or anxious, doesn’t get you anywhere tomorrow.  Think about it, how can you move forward if you are holding on to your past? 

 2011 is a year of new beginnings for me and Healthy in Chicago!  I put the site on pause when it became easy to not keep up which was a disservice for you my readers. I appreciate all of you who stuck with the site and came back to check it out.   But good things are ahead, get ready!  Healthy in Chicago is going to be bigger and better!  And as I move forward owning the happiness in my life, I will share (every once in a while) in hopes it may inspire maybe one of you, to do the same in yours if you aren’t already there.

 Happy New Year Chicago!

Revamp Your Resolutions

 Revamp Your Resolutions

By Sandy Sfikas, RD, LDN

Doesn’t it feel like less and less of us are making New Year’s resolutions these days? It could be because at times they’re nothing more than obligatory and far-fetched vows like these: “I won’t eat late at night anymore!” Or, “I’ll exercise every morning at 6am, no matter what.” They sound like empty promises, right? Even if your intentions are positive, if you have no plan as to how to achieve your resolutions, they’re likely to flop. Think about what’s really important to you and design a plan to go and get it. Here are some suggestions for realistic and achievable resolutions, along with ways to succeed:


  1. I will not stuff myself at every meal.

Plan: I will eat every 3-4 hours so I don’t get over hungry. I’ll carry around healthy snacks and remind myself that I’m keeping my energy and metabolism steady throughout the day.

  1. I will eat breakfast every morning.
    Plan: I’ll create 3 different simple morning meals so that I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat.
  2. I won’t raid the kitchen at bedtime. Plan: I will try other tactics to escape my cravings like brushing my teeth, taking a bath, or enjoying a cup of hot tea.
  3.  I will exercise 3-4 days per week, every week.  Plan: I will carry my exercise clothes with me in the car at all times. In addition, I’ll plan to do something different like a pilates or yoga class once a week.
  4. I will eat more fruit (this is my resolution!).
    Plan: I’ll keep fresh and frozen fruit in the house at all times. I’ll research what fruits are in season during the year and try one new fruit each month. (I even have an app on my phone that tells me what’s in season every month and how to enjoy it!)

 Once you’re following a plan, find ways to reward yourself for your hard work (not with food!). Buy a new exercise shirt or get a massage. In addition, forgive yourself for any mishaps. Resolutions are just goals to help you live a healthier and happier life. Focus on the positive, and the rest will fall into place. Happy New Year!

Sandy Sfikas is a registered dietitian, who in addition to seeing clients, is the editor of a international diabetes magazine. She has both a nutrition and journalism degree, and has worked in clinical settings as well as health clubs. She feels fortunate to have a career and clients that motivate her to continue to advance her knowledge of nutrition and wellness.

Mindful Eating By Sandy Sfikas, RD, LDN

You eat breakfast in the car while hurrying to work, chow down lunch at your desk while finishing a few emails, scarf a quick afternoon snack at the vending machine, and devour dinner at home while leafing through a magazine. If this sounds like you—you may need a lesson in Mindful Eating.

 The word mindful means to be aware and conscious. So, it only makes sense that Mindful Eating is all about being aware of the food we’re eating as well as being in touch with our hunger and fullness. It’s about noticing the colors, smells, textures, flavors, temperatures, and even the sounds (crunch!) of our food.

Think about the last time you truly enjoyed a meal. Chances are, you weren’t at the computer or in the car.  In order to practice Mindful Eating, it’s crucial to elminate all distractions while eating. Being fully in-the-moment puts the focus on slowing down, savoring the meal, and stopping when we’re full.

Additionally, Mindful Eating is about acceptance. When we can accept our bodies and let go of the preoccupation with dieting and losing weight, we can sincerely enjoy our food. How can we hope to make healthy choices when we’re constantly criticizing and judging ourselves? How can we take pleasure in our food when we categorize it as “good” or “bad?” Accepting our bodies and acknowledging that our self-worth is determined by a number of things and not just by our pant size, will contribute to a much healthier relationship with food.

The benefits of Mindful Eating are endless. It not only also leads us to appreciate and value the food that we eat, but it helps us to eat less! Being present while eating helps us to become full and satisfied quicker and eat less over all.

Once we can master these things, we’ll then be able to make healthier choices.


Where to start:

At your next meal, try to really taste your food. Smell it, chew it, and enjoy it. Eliminate all distractions like the TV, the computer, or the phone. Pay attention to your fullness and put your fork down in between bites. Spend at least 20 minutes eating. Take smaller bites and be thankful for the food in front of you.

For more information, visit the Center for Mindful Eating

Sandy Sfikas is a registered dietitan, who in addition to seeing clients, is the editor of a international diabetes magazine. She has both a nutrition and journalism degree and is a health/nutrition writer, blogger, and group speaker. She’s worked in clinical settings as well as in health clubs. She prides herself on helping people make realistic changes to their current eating habits and food repertoires. She feels fortunate to have a career and clients that motivate her to continue to advance her knowledge of nutrition and wellness.

10 Tips for First-Time Half and Full Marathon Runners

Good luck to everyone running the Chicago 1/2 Marathon this Sunday!

Here are Coach Jenny’s from Runner’s World tips to those first-timers.

  1. The number one rule in all of marathon-land (write this one down) is go with what you know and don’t try anything new during your taper, in race week, or race day. I can write this because I’ve made this mistake on numerous occasions. For example, the time I ran the St. George Marathon the week before my wedding and wore a brand spanking new singlet in the race. Guess who had a lovely chafing mark in her wedding photos? Keep it simple and stick with what your body knows–from the foods you eat to the clothes you wear. Every week has been a dress rehearsal for the big dance and it is vital to ignore the nervous voices telling you to buy those new shoes at the expo and wear them on race day. They’re just voices of energy and they’ll subside after the race.
  2. Have faith in your preparation, especially during the taper. Something mystical happens when you begin to taper your mileage to rest up for the race. It’s a little like taking away Linus’s blanket as there is comfort in training because you are actively moving towards your target race. As you reduce the mileage, the nervousness sets in. Remember that tapering allows your body time to rest and accumulate energy at the rate of a slow simmer so that on race day you are fresh and ready to rumble. Review your training log to remind yourself of the base you have going into the race and visualize a strong run during the season. You are well prepared and that is the best insurance against earning that medal.
  3. Watch a running flick. A great way to ease your mind and pump yourself up is to watch a running video. A few of my favorites include Without Limits, Chariots of Fire and the Spirit of the Marathon.  It’s a great way to relax, stay off your feet and keep your mind focused on the task at hand.
  4. Warn your family and friends that you’ll have the stability of a 3-year-old child on race day. I’ve borrowed this line from my husband John Bingham, and it’s true. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned veteran, making even the smallest decisions like what to eat and what to wear will feel like life changing moments during race week. Ask your support team for extra patience, because they’ll need it.  Anticipate this temporary state of immaturity and lay out your clothes the night before the race. It helps to try on everything you plan to wear (bib number, chip on shoe…) The more prepared you are the night before, the better.
  5. Get to the Expo early. Walking and standing for hours at the expo trying to decide which top is the cutest can really take it out of your legs (please refer back to tip four where you won’t be able to make small decisions). It’s best to go to the expo at off-peak times on the first day to avoid congestion and spend no more than an hour shopping. Plus, the vendors will have more supplies of all their goodies on the first day!
  6. Wear your race shirt only after you finish. I have a thing about celebrating too soon, and the race shirt to me, is a finisher’s shirt. I once heard an adventure racer say that you get seven years of bad joo-joo if you wear it before you earn it. Just saying…
  7. Review the course map and break it down. If you’re like me, you won’t have to know exactly where to run because you won’t be leading the race, but it does help to have a mental picture of the course and to break it down into smaller, more digestible pieces. There is nothing worse than toeing the line thinking, “only 13.1 miles to go (or 26.2)!” Review it, break it down and run check point to check point on race day. You’ll worry less, and celebrate more along the way.
  8. Invest in your finish line photo. Everyone wants a cool finish line photo, but in order to get it, you’ve got to invest in it. The number one mistake all runners make is going out too fast in the early stages of the race. And that can play havoc on your coolness and suck the life out of your legs early on. I’m an advocate for running negative splits. If you run the first half of the race slightly slower than the second, you have the energy to go fishing in the final miles and pass people (nicely)! And let me tell you, there is nothing more fun and energizing than having the strength and focus to pass people (nicely) in the end! Pace yourself and it will pay off in the long run (pun intended). [Fishing: Picking out a person ahead, say the guy in the red shirt, casting your hook into that fancy red shirt, and reeling him in.)
  9. Run the tangents! It took me several years to learn this nugget of information and I shaved minutes off my time once I did. When a race course is measured (and certified) it follows the tangents to the curves. A tangent is a straight line just outside the curve (or as close to the curve while still on the road). For example, Sandra the runner sees a curve on the course and runs a straight line (tangent to) the inside of the curve. Beth (who is not paying attention and didn’t read this blog) follows the curve in the road.  Curve for curve, Beth will end up running more mileage in the end. Sandra will run the measured 13.1 miles (and be showered  before Beth finishes). This will help you in two very important ways:  One, it keeps your mind actively engaged in running the course as you think your way through every turn.  Two, you’ll run only 13.1 miles! You can add more than a quarter-mile to the course by taking the long way around turns! Stay focused, grasshopper, and set yourself up efficiently as you wind through the course.
  10. Have fun and enjoy the journey. You’ve put a lot of time and energy into training for your first race, the least you can do is enjoy yourself along the way. There are no style points awarded on race day and it isn’t a final exam. You’ve trained hard, you’re well prepared, and race day is truly about the celebration. Soak up the excitement of the crowd and take it all in because you only run your first half marathon once and it’s a special moment.

Source: Runner’s Word

4 minutes of exercise-Tabata

In search of a new workout class, I had the opportunity to try Tabata at Equinox with Julie for the first time about a month ago.  After warnings from co-workers about how it was a “ta-brutal” experience,  I went into class with high expectations of a hard workout and low expectations of actually enjoying it.   True it was one of the hardest classes I have ever taken, but false in that I didn’t enjoy it.

What is Tabata?

Tabata is a form of exercise training that is 4 minutes of intense interval training/circuit training, repeated.  It was developed by Izumi Tabata at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. The institute did a study on comparing the effects of moderate intensity endurance (aerobics) and high endurance intermittent training (tabata training intervals).  The conclusion of the research was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance

What to expect in a Tabata class

Warm up, 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated without pause 8 times for a total of four minutes.

Warm up (jumping jacks)

Squat jumps


Burpees with arm extension

Push ups on bosu ball

Mountain climbers

Hard right?  Fun? Yes!  It was reminiscence of old high school soccer practices, but in a good way.  Julie challenged everyone in class to count how many squat jumps they do in 20 seconds then beat that number next round.  The class pushes you to be competitive, with not only the person next to you, but yourself!  The best part of this workout, it is only 30 minutes then you are done.  Youare left feeling tired, yet energized, and encouraged that you just successfully pushed yourself that hard.

Why take Tabata?

Killer workout, increased overall health, strength and calories burned (even at rest!).

Where can you find Tabata in Chicago?