Oh, how I love the Windy City!

About one month ago, my sister randomly asked me if I wanted to go to Chicago with her because she was going for work! Of course, I jumped on the opportunity to hang out in the Windy City. That same day, I immediately asked for the time off of work and booked an awesome flight for only $175. Just like that, I was booked and ready to go! It has been a long month, to say the least, but I could barely contain my excitement for this trip!

I am beyond thrilled to be here since this trip is all about reconnecting with friends and spending time with my sister. I went to college not too far from here in Michigan so it’s great to be back in the midwest again. Oh, it has been too long! I just love all of the people here and the way of life. Chicago not only has the amazing busyness of a city but it has quiet suburban areas as well. Along with all of the aspects of the city, one of my most favorite memories is the food! Specifically, I am talking about the pizza. Yes, Giordano’s is my favorite pizza place of all time. I am obsessed with their deep dish pizza. Just look at it…yum!

This trip has been amazing! I’ve been able to spend some quality time with my sister and reconnect with a ton of friends. We started our trip off at Navy Pier, which has amazing views of the city. My friend drove 2.5 hours with her daughter and husband to come visit me for the day. I had not seen her in over 3 years! It was so great to spend quality time with her and the weather has been beautiful. We ate at Giordano’s right on the pier. Totally worth it!

After Navy Pier, I was dying to see Cloud Gate (aka. The Bean). So, we took a walk in the beautiful weather over there! You have to take a picture at The Bean when you are in Chicago! It’s silly but it’s a must.

We decided to head over to the Zoo after taking a ton of pictures at The Bean! What’s great about the Chicago Zoo is that it provides free entry to the public. I love that Chicago offers such an amazing experience to people by allowing free entry.  We were only able to see a few animals since they were closing for the day but we did see the reptile house, monkeys and a leopard.

Throughout my trip, I have been able to see a lot of friends that I haven’t seen in forever! We had a mini college reunion at a local bar where some friends were working. It was a blast. My sister was able to see some of her friends as well.

While hanging out with friends, I did a lot of walking! I know I did a minimum of 10,000 steps a day but it was more like 15,000 steps a day. One of my friends showed me around the city where I saw great skyline views. This made me so happy as I love city living. I definitely do not get these views from Phoenix.

While in Chicago running around with my friends, I wanted to make sure that I kept my fitness up. For the last 9 days, I have been doing the #strongestSELFever challenge with Self Magazine. This 30 day challenge is all about creating your strongest body ever! It has a mix of strength and cardio.

Let’s talk about the #StrongestSELFever challenge!

This challenge has been difficult at times but it’s nothing I can’t handle. I am well into the second week of the challenge and I feel like I have more energy than ever! I really like that these workouts are 10 minutes or less. It’s really easy to do them before work. Another thing that I like is that there are two rest days per week.

There are quite a few workouts that include  planks. This is one thing that I have trouble with because I do not have very good upper body strength. Planking not only works your arms but your abs and legs. Holding a plank for 30 seconds seems like a lifetime!

Burpees and mountain climbers are also very challenging for me! The Strongest SELF ever challenge includes a lot of burpees and mountain climbers, just FYI. But, they are so satisfying once you do them since you know they are really working your body!

I guess I didn’t realize how tough these workouts can be when I am looking at the instructions. In my head I say, oh I can easily do arm circles and bird-dogs! Well, the harsh reality sunk in when I was doing the “Arms All Day” workout challenge on day 7. These workouts are designed to challenge your body in strength and endurance. You may be looking at the moves and telling yourself this will be an easy challenge but once you are in the midst of doing the workouts, you realize this is harder than you may have expected!

For all of you doing the #strongestSELFever challenge, keep up the good work! Let me know what is inspiring you to keep going and how we can motivate each other. I know that these workouts are kicking my butt into gear. Next week, I’ll go more into depth about my wins and challenges throughout the program. Until then, keep at it!

Be bold to live free, xo Aimée

“Fitness is not about being better than someone else…it’s about being better than you used to be.”