Sunday, October 23, 2011

Facts of Life

-I've been overseas now for about 3 weeks.  Although this is a short deployment, I can't wait to come home.
-Being 100% gluten-free overseas is one of the hardest "diets" I've had to follow.  Mostly because it's all out of my control, partly because I don't feel like I'm always meeting my calorie requirements. My choices at the dining facility can be very limited some days.

-I started counting calories again while I'm here.  For the first time ever in my life it was to make sure I was eating enough, never that I'd see that day. 

- As much as I hate being away from my family & friends, I'm dreading going back to my job.

-On the upside, I think I found my "passion" in life & big things are happening with it :-) Final announcements will be made shortly after I get home. 

-Maintaining two blogs plus my life is a bit hectic.  I recently started blogging *here* and I think from now on I will keep it all there.  I started Gluten-Free girl in Chicago mostly to have a place where I could network with other people who suffer from gluten intolerances & other food allergies.  Nutrition & dietary restrictions have become a huge part of my life and I'm learning new things about it every day.  This blog has been fun & I've "met" some really great & inspiring people through it, all of who I still read their blogs :-) At my new blog, I will be posting mostly food-related stuff, a little here & there about my life, and any new fitness classes that I fall in love with in the Chicago area.     

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Since I was told that I should be on a gluten free diet, I've been doing A LOT of research about local restaurants, foods & drinks that I can and cannot have.  Still unclear about the grain vodka/distilled spirits containing gluten, but we'll have it figured out before the weekend :-) 

In my efforts to educate myself as best as I can about this G-Free diet, I've started a new blog that will highlight all things Chicago (and where ever I find myself) and gluten free.  I'll continue to blog here, but all things gluten free will be posted there.  I've also started a facebook page.  The blog is, Gluten Free Girl in Chicago.  Follow along if you're interested :-)


Wedding Wednesday-The Reception

Location, location, location.  That was key to me when I began planning this wedding.  LC and I were engaged on July 3, 2008 & our venue was booked July 26, 2008 :-) As soon as I saw Pier Wisconsin, I knew that I had to have our wedding here.  It was EVERYTHING that I had wanted.  Right on the water, not a hotel ballroom, and windows! Tons and tons of windows!  One problem with place? A Saturday wedding was well out of our budget.  So my mom and I went home and looked at the calendar and played around with the dates.  Sundays, of course were the cheapest.  I didn't want a Sunday wedding but when I saw that July 4, 2011 was a Monday, I was definitely sold on our July 3, 2011 wedding.  And that's how that came to be.  It worked out perfectly because it's the same date that LC had proposed to me.  When we went to visit with our coordinator at Pier Wisconsin for our food tasting, she said she had over 12 couples ask to see if that date was available. At the end of this post, you'll see why.   

We had a food and beverage minimum we had to meet, so we threw in a few extra things :-)

Instead of traditional cake we served cupcakes from Miss Cupcake out of Milwaukee.  The selections we chose were red velvet, pink lemonade, key lime, and chocolate with peanut butter frosting.  They were to die for.

The flavor of the cake we cut into was peach bellini. It was heaven on a platter.

After dinner was served & eaten, we danced our first dance to John Legend's "Stay with You". One of my favorite songs.

Next, I danced with my mom, to Carrie Underwood's "Mama's Song". I get teary eyed whenever I hear it and I think of this moment.  This will forever be "our song".

LC & I decided that we wanted to do a parents dance as a way of honoring my stepfather.  He didn't want to dance with his mom alone.

After all the designated dances, it was time to hit the dance floor! LC and I went around and thanked our guests for coming, but I told myself from the beginning that I would dance the night away at this wedding & that I did. And I brought our guests with me :-)

At about 9:30 p.m. our DJ played Katy Perry's "Firework" & "Blow" by Ke$ha just as our spectacular fireworks show was about to begin.  Every year on July 3rd, Milwaukee's lakefront has an awesome, hour long fireworks display.  We had the best seat in the house.

And they lived happily ever after!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Excellence in All we Do

This week has been super busy for me, yet I've had more energy this week than I've had in a long time.  Maybe it's having to go gluten free? Or the fresh air and easy living of the suburbs? :-)  Needless to say, I've been enjoying my time at my parents house in WI, but I'm ready to see my hubs & my dog.  I head back to Chicago tomorrow after my friend's wedding shower.

This past Wednesday and Thursday, I've been working at the base and preparing for my upcoming deployment.  It's been a lot of computer based training, and getting my shots up to date (Anthrax & Typhoid...not fun at all).  On Thursday morning, I had to take my PT test because I was coming due.  The weather was pretty cool in the morning and I was a little worried for my run because my chest always hurts when I run in cold weather.  We started out with a waist measurement (down 1 inch from last year-yay!), and then it was one minute push-ups and one minute sit ups.  I completed 31 push ups & 42 sit ups.  Then it was outside for my run.  I ran my mile and a half in 13:38.  A HUGE improvement from last year, which was 14:05.  I was pretty happy about that, especially since I had been dreading the run portion.  When our fitness monitor put my scores into the computer, she said, "Maria, you got an excellent! Good job!"  Out of the 8 PT tests I've taken, that was my first EVER excellent.  I was so happy and proud of myself!  I definitely deserve a trip to Lululemon this week :-) 

On Friday, my mom and I went to Kohls and I bought some fall wardrobe items, including brown flats & a poncho.  I'm very excited to wear my poncho!  I think we might go back today for more.  After our shopping trip we went to the Original Pancake House & I ordered my first  gluten free meal: pancakes!  They were so good!  They tasted just like regular pancakes to me, very light and fluffy.  

breast cancer awareness month is coming up!
After our delicious breakfast, we went and saw "I Don't Know how she Does It."  I didn't read the book, but I heard it was kind of depressing, which I could see.  But I thought the movie was good.  Sarah Jessica Parker played the role very well & some of the way it was filmed reminded me of SATC season 1 where she & other people would talk to the camera.  I thought they were very biased on both sides of working mothers and of stay at home moms.  They portrayed the stay at home mom as someone who gets glammed up, sits in the park all day or goes to the gym all day.  I bit stereotypical in my opinion, because I know from other people that's not what it's all about (for most people anyway).

Well, I'm off to get ready for the Wine and harvest Festival.  I woke up early this morning, ran 3 miles & did fitnessista's ab burner!  It was a tough one, but yet they all are.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wedding Wednesday-Villa Terrace

In between the ceremony and the reception, we took tons of pictures with our wedding party.  We chose The Villa Terrace in Milwaukee as our "playground".  We had so much fun here and the pictures turned out more beautifully that I could have ever imagined.  The Villa Terrace is an old mansion turned museum that faces Lake Michigan.  It has beautiful gardens, fountains, statues.  I think it fit our day & the look I was going for perfectly.  Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the Terrace.

I'm in love with our wedding pictures...and Olga Thomas :-) She did such an amazing job!! We will definitely be using her for photos in the future. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Allergy Geek

Blah.  A few weeks ago I met with a hollistic doctor in Chicago.  I wanted a new women's health doctor that I felt comfortable with (my last GYN doc was a B), and who could help me find an alternative method of birth control beside the hormonal kind. (saving that for a different post).  We went through my history and after talking with me she decided that she wanted run some tests.  She tested my thyroid, vitamin D & some other vitamin levels and she also tested me for a gluten intolerance.  I told her about some symptoms I was having with certain foods and she wanted to be sure before she put me on any elimination diet. 

She called me last night with my test results.  Everything came back normal except for my borderline low vitamin D levels {I think a trip to St. Lucia is in order :-) } She also informed me that I do have a intolerance to gluten :-/  and  that she wanted me to start an elimination diet and pay attention to any symptoms I have after eating (If I eat GF, the should get better).  She told me that although it's not causing problems now, it could later on down the road.  

Fabulous.  And my grandma is sending me a package that I know will have cookies in it.  I think I'll still manage to have at least one ;-) I'm off to finish packing for WI then it's on the road I go.  I'm grateful that my mom has to be GF as well, she can teach me the "ropes" while I'm staying with her these next 5 days. 

Sidenote...Trader Joe's gluten free bagels? Not the greatest.        

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Boy Next Door

Happy Monday!  In my "work week" this is actually my Thursday :-) Tomorrow after work, I head back to Wisconsin where I will spend the next 5 days.  I'm happy because I'll get a break from my regular 9-5 and I'll get to spend time with my mom + friends, but also sad because I won't get to see my boys all week :-/ A few skype dates will be in order. 

Speaking of boys, guess who just moved in next door? 

That's right my friends, I now share a backyard with the hottest guy on the block :-) This will come in handy, when I need to make a quick trip to the grocery store for dinner (like tonight).  I can't wait to explore!

I'm jumping back on the Say It Do it wagon.  This week will be a little crazy with not being at home, but I'm determined to make it work.

Monday: 3 mi run w/hubs + upper body & core
Tuesday: Bar Method
Wednesday:Turbofire workout + run
Thursday: Air Force fit test (goal is to beat last year's scores)
Friday:Run 3 miles
Saturday: Bar Method DVD
Sunday: Rest

I'm off to do some grocery shopping, work out with my hubs and pack for WI! Have a good night :-)

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I was a junior in high school when the tragedy of 9/11 happened.  We were outside playing golf for gym class and the teacher told us we had to go inside.  I remember being happy about this because I hated golf.  It wasn't until I got to my next class that I realized what was going on.  Watching the television footage and seeing the second plane hit the tower is something that I will never forget.  Little did I know at the age of 16 how this would effect my life.

I joined the military in 2003 shortly after high school.  I will be honest and say that I joined mainly because of the educational benefits & the opportunity to travel.  I've been extremely lucky to have never had to be deployed anywhere dangerous.  My list of deployments include Colorado, Mississippi, Texas & two weeks in Turkey.

In 2006 I started dating my now husband.  In 2008 our unit was set to deploy to Afghanistan.  They asked for volunteers first.  I said "no" to overseas but if they needed me to come backfill at the base, I would do so.  LC and I had talked about our decisions before hand I knew that he wanted to deploy.  As much as I didn't want him to go, I told him that if it's something that he really wanted to do, I would support him 100%. 

At our next drill weekend, they put up a list of who was going overseas and who was backfilling.  I waited until I got home to cry.
If someone had told me on September 11, 2001 that I would have a boyfriend serving in Afghanistan seven years later, I wouldn't have believed them because that was not how I had envisioned my life.  But I couldn't be more proud of him and the decisions that he has made.  His bravery and selflessness is something that I truly admire about him and that make him the person that he is.

Let us never forget all of those who lost their lives that day, who continue to put their lives on the line for our freedom daily and their families who are supporting their efforts.  God Bless America :-) 


Friday, September 9, 2011

Flywheel Friday

So this morning, I attended my first ride at Flywheel.  I found out about this cycling studio through a Vital Juice e-mail (a daily blast of all things health & fitness-subscribe!!).  Because I don't belong to a gym anymore (I use the fitness center in our building), I've been really missing my cycling classes.  I love cycling classes because they burn a ton of calories and each class is something different.  The time always goes by quickly and the instructors usually have a good playlist.

I called Flywheel yesterday to see if I could register for a class today at 6am.  The nice girl on the phone told me that I could register online and answered a few other questions that I had.  I purchased a class via the website and signed up for it.  They have a layout of the studio on their website and you can choose your bike right then and there.  I really liked that I could see where the instructor would be and how many bikes the studio actually had.

When I arrived there, I was told to check in on the computer and then the front desk girl showed me where the lockers are.  I put my stuff in the locker and put on my special cylcing shoes that Flywheel provides for you.  As many times as I've taken spin-like classes, this was my first time with the special shoes and I loved it!  Once I got into the studio, the instructor, Antonia, introduced herself to me and told me a little bit about what to expect in class and that because this was my first time there, just to do what I could handle.  The front desk girl came in and showed me how to set up my bike and how to clip my shoes into the pedals and then I started my warm up.  The 6am class had about 10 people in it.  We went through sprints, upper body work, hill climbs and more sprints.  Flywheel also has a TorqBoard in class which allows you to see how hard you're working compared to the others in the class.  Antonia put it up during the last sprint and man, did it motivate me! I pedaled my way to #1!  Not too shabby for a first timer.   

-friendly staff!!
-they provide you with free water & cycling shoes
-an awesome playlist! There have been times where I've taken spin and the class was awful because the music was awful.  Not here.
-there's a small portion of strength training w/the class. Small BUT effective. I loved this because with every other cylcing class I've taken my arms always feel left out of the party.
-energetic & motivating instructor
-If you come in the morning, you can find free street parking-big plus for Chicago.
-you can see your performance online and an estimation of how many calories you burned in class.

-No locker room.  My original plan was to come to the 6am class, shower, and go right to work.  Instead I drove there and then drove home and got ready.  Not a big deal!
-The price.  $25 per ride can add up quickly if you're going to visit frequently.  If you're serious about this place, I would definitely get a package.  Luckily bloomspot has a great deal going on right now that I'm definitely going to take advantage of.

Overall, it was a great challenge and an excellent way to start out my morning & weekend.  I will definitely be back to ride again.  

Thursday, September 8, 2011

1/2 Marathon #3 Recap

Good morning everyone :-) The weekend's almost here!!!! I have to venture up to Milwaukee for drill/a friend's wedding this weekend.  It works out very nicely because the hotel where we stay on drill weekends is where she's having her wedding.  I decided to skip this week's "Wedding Wednesday" post because I didn't have enough time to post it yesterday. But if you missed the past two Wednesdays you can catch up here & here.  I've  been nursing a bad bee sting to my left arm since Sunday night and today is the first day all week that it hasn't hurt to type.  My arm swelled up to the point where I went to see my doctor ASAP.  She said it wasn't an allergic reaction, but that it was infected.  I guess bee stingers can carry a lot of bacteria.  She put me on antibiotics and sent me on my way.  I'm doing much better and hopefully my arm will be back to a normal size by this weekend.    

normal arm

stung arm
Kind of awkward to take pictures of your arm, but it's still pretty swollen.  Even though it's gone down some, I still couldn't get my wedding ring on today :-/

Thankfully, this did not happen during my 1/2 marathon on Saturday.  The morning started out with severe thunderstorms, but cleared up by the time the race was set to begin.  When I heard the thunderstorms and saw the lightning just as I was getting out of bed, I layed there and a small part of me had hoped that the race would get canceled.  I just wasn't in the mindset to run 13 miles and with that I knew this wouldn't be my best race.  I started out running with my friend, who runs at a slightly faster pace than I do.  Mistake #1.  I tired out sooner in the beginning because of it.  There were also hardly any porta potties on the course.  Mistake #2-not going to the bathroom before the race.  By mile 6, I had given up.  The motivation was just not there, so I told myself to just enjoy the race, the scenery and try to finish strong.

Why the lack of motivation?  First and foremost, I didn't have enough time to train and mentally prepare myself.  Secondly, I'm a big city girl & there's nothing in the world like a big city race.  The last two 1/2 marathons I have ran have been in suburbs in WI.  And as much as I love my family & friends in WI I am done with long races there, unless the race is in Milwaukee and it's a big one {Like the Summerfest race}.  This past race, I ran for MILES without seeing one spectator.  I ran through subdivisions, past rummage sales, and onto someones lawn to get past a fallen tree.  I felt like it was just an every day run.  The scenery was peaceful, but at one point a CAR cut out in front of me.  A car on the race course!  The best part about a 1/2 marathon is supposed to be the race and the atmosphere itself.  There's nothing like running the streets of Chicago (blocked off streets) with thousands of people there to cheer you on.  I finished the race is 2:25.  Not the time I was going for, but with all things considered, it could've been worse.  My next race will definitely be a big one.  I'd love to run the Rock n Roll Las Vegas in December.  We'll see! 

What's next? Chicago has finally gotten to the point where it's my favorite running weather.  September/October are the best months for running in my opinion.  The temperatures are just right and the colors in the park are changing.  BUT this year, I won't get to enjoy it because of a possible deployment overseas.  I say possible because I was supposed to go somewhere last December, and the trip got canceled last minute. So we'll see, but as of right now I am supposed to be leaving :-/  No where too dangerous though. 

Fact:Since LC and I have been together (5 years+) we have yet to spend a year in the same state as one another because of our military obligations.  We almost made it in 2009/2010, but then I got sent to Biloxi for tech school. Hopefully one day soon we'll get our year together!