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bikini body tips: complete roundup of women’s activewear

April 3, 2015

the best workout gear to sport this summerI think I underestimated the time it would take to write this post. I meant to make this live on Wednesday…but that didn’t quite happen, obviously.

On Monday, Ryan came home.

Tuesday, we had to figure out the new apartment situation and pick up the keys from the owner. So, we met her at our new apartment and she introduced us to one of the building maintenance people and gave me a tour (since it was my first time ever being in the apartment!)…but I wasn’t able to take any pictures or snapchats with everyone in the room 🙁 Then, I had to complete a post for Easter.

Wednesday, we took advantage of Chicago’s incredibly beautiful weather by going for a walk on the lakefront, followed by hours spent filing our taxes together (married life!) and topped off with a delicious dinner delivery: lobster rolls and a tasty lobster bisque. Oh, and lots of packing and tidying up.

Now, Ryan’s in Portland till Tuesday and I’m home in Wisconsin! Writing this post as a scented candle burns to my right and Gangland is playing on the tv in front of me. Basically, heaven.

Anyway, back to business.

When trying to get back in shape (or just trying to friggin’ stay in shape), I swear one of the best ways to kill your workout and stay motivated is to feel great in what you’re donning at the gym.

Though I’ve heard trainers/people in the fitness community say that before, I never believed it until I started doing bbg. There’s so much jumping and running around, if your clothes don’t fit well, it can be a huge distraction and make you feel gross. And when you feel gross, you’re probably not going to be giving it your all.

But there are A TON of activewear options to choose from. I mean, I’m pretty sure every brand on the planet has some sort of workout line now.

So, I thought I’d make it easy(er) on you and compile a ton of kick-ass clothes in one place. I hope you enjoy! And if you swear by any particular brand/clothes/shoe, please dish in the comments!stylish workout shoes for this summer1. $68 / 2. $120 / 3. $100 / 4. $140 / 5. $190 / 6. $180 / 7.$180 / 8. $65 / 9. $110

workout shirts (for this summer!)1. $42 / 2. $64 / 3. $68 / 4. $88 / 5. $58 / 6. $58 / 7. $42 / 8. $58 / 9. $64 / 10. $64 / 11. $68 / 12. $59

colorful workout leggings1. $53 / 2. $58 / 3. $64 / 4. $78 / 5. $94 / 6. $56 / 7. $74 / 8. $74 / 9. $64 / 10. $74 / 11. $102 / 12. $98 / 13. $88-98 / 14. $68 / 15. $98 / 16. $82-92 / 17. $150 / 18. $50 / 19. $60 / 20. $120 / 21. $45 / 22. $65 / 23. $110 / 24. $50

sports bras for summer workouts!1. $68 / 2. $55 / 3. $44 / 4. $54 / 5. $44 / 6. $42 / 7. $52 / 8. $52 / 9. $48 / 10. $42 / 11. $48 / 12. $58

complete roundup of women's activewear for summer!1. $44 / 2. $54 / 3. $44 / 4-5. $54 / 6-8. $54-58 / 9. $54 / 10. $58 / 11. $66 / 12. $21


Move Snacks

bikini body tips: homemade protein bars

March 25, 2015

tips to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefestWhen you’re trying to tone up, everyone always advises you consume more protein. While, I believe it’s up for debate how much protein is healthy to consume (honestly, how much is too much?), protein is an important part of toning up and shedding pounds. Not only does it keep you full longer, so you’re not randomly snacking on junk, but it helps repair and rebuild the muscle that’s broken down during an intense workout.

So great. Protein is awesome. Except I’m not one to gobble chicken breast on the daily. Sure, it’s a versatile protein (bake it, shake it, cook it etc.), but really…I need some variety.

bikini body tips: homemade protien barEnter this wonderful recipe (originally posted on Fitnessita).

Now, I’m already pretty damn picky about the snack bars I pick up from the store. I mean, have you ever checked the label on the backs of those things? It’s like a mini dictionary, all those wacko ingredients. But I admittedly don’t enjoy making my own bars at home. Every blogger is like, “Blah, blah. They’re SO easy! Granola and coconut and yum!” But I’ve never had them turn out as good as those bloggers claim.

But…I swear to you, this recipe is different. This has become my go-to to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefest tips to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefestThe ingredients are simple, pure and delicious and the recipe is super-duper simple. I’m talking 5 minute simple. Plus, I’ve discovered it’s a difficult recipe to screw up. And, trust me, I’d know.

There’s no baking involved, so all you need to do is nab the right ingredients, mix them together, throw them in the fridge and cut them into individual bars. You can also add an “optional” chocolate drizzle on top. I did this for my first batch, but discovered (on my second batch) that it wasn’t even necessary. The bars were perfectly decadent all on their own. Though, it’s ultimately your call if you want the added sweetness.

tips to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefestI do recommend the Trader Joe’s chocolate hemp protein powder I used.

I’m not a huge fan of whey powders (just a personal preference), but I also have difficulty with a lot of the additives of most vegan protein powders. So I took a gamble and won out on this tasty, plant-based alternative.

tips to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefest tips to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefest tips to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefestAs far as making the bars, you can either use parchment paper or plastic wrap. I preferred the plastic wrap because it conformed more easily to the glassware.

Once you’ve laid out the plastic wrap and poured the mixture in, throw the whole thing in the fridge for an hour or more (I just went for a walk while I waited). Then, slice them into bars and boom! Dunzo.

Store them in the fridge (in little plastic baggies or wrapped in plastic wrap) and grab them on the go.

I figure they would keep for about a week or so, but I devour them so quickly I’ve never made it through a full week to actually know.

protein-two tips to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefestAnother plus side to these bars, they are extremely filling. Just make sure you don’t leave them out of the fridge too long. They will melt and literally look like poop (I found this out when I left one in my purse).

In non-related-to-protein-bar news, Ryan returned from Portland Monday and left for New York this morning. SUCH a jet-setter. Makes me want to travel SO bad (I know you care about these random things in my life (ha), so I thought I’d mention it).

Okay, back on track.

What’s your go-to protein bar? Aside from this homemade one, I’m obsessed with the snack brand KIND since their ingredients are a bit more on the pure side. Have any other recos?



gettin’ your bikini body on, planner-style

March 18, 2015

tips on getting a bikini bodyAlright, so quick back story on this bikini body challenge:

When I was getting ready for my wedding, I was probably in the best shape of my life (grade school obviously excluded). I wasn’t 100% what my goal “look” was, but my weight was perfect and I could tell I lost a good amount of body fat. Fast forward a few months later and…I’ve regressed a little. I’m not back to square one, but I’m not as fit or toned as I’d prefer to be.

After the wedding, there was a lot of hoopla with adjusting back to normal life and then the holidays came and by the time January/February rolled around, I was exhausted. I tried going to the gym–and succeeded–but couldn’t push myself to put in the type of work that would get me the results I wanted. So, I took a few weeks off, which actually helped (and I sort of recommend to people who are feeling low on energy–take a short breather, adjust what’s not working and let your body rest). But now that some of my energy has come back, it’s time to stay on track for summer time. And not only for that loverly bikini I bought for my honeymoon, but for the wedding I’m in in October AND the Laguna Beach visit we are planning to make this Christmas. Plus, let’s be real, I just feel better when I’m leaner and healthy.

That’s why I wanted to start this weekly little blog post. Sharing one tip, recipe or tool that would help you get into bikini body shape too. Of course, you can just follow my journey, but I also want you to share your #OBB (operation bikini body) journey too! Let me know what you’re struggling with or want to learn. Otherwise, this is an accountability post and hopefully a support system to anyone who needs it.

Okay, now that we are all caught up on what the eff I’m talking about with “operation bikini body,” let’s get down to business…

Fitness and food planners.

tips on getting a bikini bodyFor a long time I used MyFitnessPal to track my workouts and food. I HIGHLY recommend that tool if you are an avid phone user and are looking to really get down to the nitty gritty on calorie intake. It’s by far the best app I’ve used and has a huge database of food (meaning, you could go to a Wendy’s and get a baked potato with sour cream and I guarantee that exact food item is in MyFitnessPal). It also syncs to various fitness trackers and even other active iPhone apps (like Runtastic).

tips on getting a bikini bodyHowever, it’s not the best meal planner. And if there’s one thing I am, it’s a planner. So much so that I’m made fun of for dragging around my daily planner. But I’m sorry, it’s from ABeautifulMess, it’s gorgeous and it helps me stay focused. Plus, I get a real sense of relief when I cross off items in my planner, you know what I mean?

Well, I started looking for a strictly fitness planner, to help me better plan out my meals and keep track of the different workouts I’m doing. I kept that info in my regular planner for awhile, but it got to take up too much space. After a bit of looking around, I found PlumPaperDesigns.

The planner isn’t made by a brand or a blogger (which I preferred, because I’m following Kayla Itsine’s guide + my own workouts). The planner cost $31 + shipping, which ended up being around $40 total. And…I love it so far.

tips on getting a bikini bodytips on getting a bikini bodyI got to pick the month the planner started on (I chose March, since I’m clearly starting a bit later in the season), so it goes till end of February 2016.

It has tabs that open to a notes section for the start of each month. After that, there is a full monthly calendar spread over two pages, followed by the individual weeks.

In the individual week spreads, each day is broken down by morning, afternoon and evening, where you can plan your meals and even calculate calories if you want. Below that is a little section labeled “fitness,” where you can track the calories burned and the workout(s) you’re doing that day. To the left of the week breakdown is space for your fitness goals, weekly list (I assume food?) and more space for notes.

At the end of the planner, there is special dates section, contacts page, holidays page (that details holidays for the next 3 years), complete yearly calendar and a page that acts as a folder for any inspirational images you might want to store.

tips on getting a bikini body tips on getting a bikini body tips on getting a bikini bodyI highly recommend this, or something like this, for starting out. It helps you plan your meals and your workouts. Plus, writing things down allows you to move things around (if your workouts need to be switched), while staying accountable to the things you consume and the calories you burn during your workouts (if you are really taking it to that level).

Gah, I love organization!

Do you have any planner-like tools you swear by for getting fit? Please, please, do share!


the easiest exercise you’re not doing

December 2, 2014

the one ridiculously simple exercise you're NOT doingThe past year and a half I’ve really tried to up my fitness game. It began as a way to work off the excess weight I had put on from stuffing myself with carbs in preparation for my endoscopy (to see if I had a gluten intolerance). Then, it was for my wedding. But now, it’s for me.

When I don’t move during the day, it feels like one giant box that was left unchecked on my to-do list.

Of course, I still have days where I feel off. Where I don’t want to go to the gym and push it. Either I’m too tired, don’t have time or…I just don’t feel like it. Can’t that be an answer?

Luckily, I discovered one exercise that is simple. Mindless. Something most of us should be doing every day anyway (if we weren’t cooped up behind a desk for eight hours)…


What does that stand for? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Low. Intensity. Steady. State.

Now what does that mean? Again, glad you asked!

Basically, it’s walking, jogging, getting on the elliptical or doing any light exercise for a set period of time, without putting your body through too much stress. I personally walk on the treadmill for 35-60mins at a 2.0 incline and 3.6mph pace. Not only is this great for rest days (or days you’re just not feelin’ it), but it also burns calories and can help boost your metabolism for the day.

Yes, it’s a walk in the park (pun intended) for those days after the holidays (*ahem*) where you just can’t get your ass out of bed and dominate that circuit.


Motivation Move

fitness lover: a day in the life of dalia

July 16, 2014

Today, I want to introduce you to an awesome fitness lover friend of mine, Dalia. Now, this lady is uber inspirational. Like, I have no clue how she has all the energy to do all the things she does! I met her through Ryan (they worked at the same ad agency for a bit), and wish I had half her enthusiasm and drive. The girl is fit, accomplished and can get a shit ton done in 24 hours–eating well, working out, teaching spin class, freelancing, all while working full time. I will definitely be stealing a few of her health tips (you might want to do the same, just sayin’). Without further ado…

▲ Introduce yourself, please. 

Oh hey! My name is Migdalia but the world calls me Dalia.

▲ What inspired you to pursue a healthy lifestyle? 

After college I was eating like a track star minus the whole track and field part – I had like 5 desk jobs and I was in a relationship with a boy who looked like a track star. I needed to get into to shape and get healthy. I started working out a little bit and eating healthy and learning about nutrition.

▲ What’s one health or fitness tip you live by? 

Balance is key. Don’t kick yourself over a pizza and wine night. Don’t tell yourself you can’t have something. Don’t call them cheat days. Eat clean, good for you stuff, move your body and be happy.

▲ Favorite snack 

Quest Bars and ripe, ripe bananas.

▲ Favorite workout 

I love indoor cycling because I love loud music and a sweaty workout, but I’ve fallen head over heels for Barre recently and have been digging Studio Fit Chicago’s classes.

take a peek inside the day of this Chicago fitness guruI usually start my morning with a cup of coffee and a quest bar at 5:30AM.”

take a peek inside the day of this Chicago fitness guru“I head over to Studio Fit Chicago for a Barre class. They always help to get me up, alert and in a good and productive mood.”

take a peek inside the day of this Chicago fitness guruAfter class I head back home for some fruit, make breakfast and pack some lunch.”

take a peek inside the day of this Chicago fitness guruMornings are key time with the mister, we’ll usually watch TV together or eat breakfast before heading off to work together.”

fitness & health tips from this fit Chicago chickAt work I try to move around a lot to keep the body moving and brain alert, you will never find me in the same place for more than an hour!”

take a peek inside the day of this Chicago fitness guruLunch is usually packed and ALWAYS my favorite time of day.”

an inspirational peek inside the day of fitness instructor @ohmydaliaCoffee, water and tea fuel the rest of the afternoon.”

health tips & tricks from a fit Chicago chickIf I’m teaching I always have two Quest Bars a day. They help fuel me with happy protein and no added sugars.”

an inspirational peek inside the day of fitness instructor @ohmydaliaTeaching class is my favorite thing. I love being able to give people fun music, a sweaty work out and a total workout high from accomplishment!”

an inspirational peek inside the day of fitness instructor @ohmydaliaAfter class I ride home and work on dinner with West. Mmmm dinner.”

an inspirational peek inside the day of fitness instructor @ohmydaliaDesserts are always key. So it’s either coffee, dark chocolate or maybe fruit!”

an inspirational peek inside the day of fitness instructor @ohmydaliaAfter the dishes are clean and the kitchen is closed, it’s couch time with the mister.”

an inspirational peek inside the day of fitness instructor @ohmydaliaI get back to work with my own freelance and get ready for bed to start the day over again.”

Do you have advice for someone looking to start living a healthier lifestyle, but who is struggling to start?

Just do you. Don’t worry about other people. Don’t follow a fad diet because some star is doing it and don’t start doing Cross Fit because everyone is doing it. Start small and start smart. When I decided to change my life style I started with the elliptical for 45 minutes, 3 days a week and I cut out boxes of Wheat Thins and my daily bagel. It’s little things but they make a difference.

So you are awesome. Where else can we find you? ▲

You can find me working out at Studio Fit Chicago  – Teaching at Cheetah Gym and Instagramming my food and workout adventures at @ohmydalia. – Sometimes when I have time I feature blogs I love, places I enjoy and photos that bring me joy over at OHMYDALIA.

Dalia, thank you so much for letting us pick your brain and take a peek inside your day!

And side note to all you: If you’re ever in the Chicago area I HIGHLY recommend you stop by and say hi to Dalia in one of her classes. She’ll probably kick your ass, but you’ll love it.

Educate Move

3 tips that helped me lose 20 lbs

June 4, 2014

I should probably be clear. I was never overweight or in an unhealthy weight range. If you are, you need to seek the supervision of a physician (aka more than these two tips). However, if you’re like me, the pizza and booze consumed throughout your college years eventually catches up to you. Plus, my personal anxiety issues caused me to eat more to dull my stomach pain.

Now, this isn’t a post about my stomach issues (that’s a whole novel’s worth of shit). Though I will say, getting that part of my health under control was a major weight-loss factor since it caused me to cut back on heavy carbs and dairy. But, aside from that health issue, there were two things that helped me drop the pounds pretty quickly.

2 tips that helped me drop 20 lbs

1. Read labels

The first thing you can start doing TODAY is reading labels, on everything! That includes Trader Joe’s sandwiches, nut packets and even water. Quick story: the other day I was at my parent’s house, drinking a bottled water they had leftover from my sister’s graduation party. Well, as I take a sip, I decide to look at the ingredients on the water’s label. I kid you not, two of the four ingredients: chloride and salt. SALT! No wonder I was flying through those waters. Who puts salt in water? Ridiculous. But that’s what I mean. Nowadays, you have to read everything. My trick? If you can’t pronounce it or don’t know the origins of that ingredient, then you probably shouldn’t be putting it in your body.

2. Track food

Now, I know not everyone is on board the “track what you eat” train. Some people have eating disorders or other issues, and I strongly encourage them not to track their food because, for some, it can become an obsession. However, when you are just starting off on your weight-loss journey, tracking your intake can be an eye-opening experience and provide you with a better understanding of where calories hide. This is especially true if you’ve plateaued. When you start tracking what you eat, it can be extremely surprising how quickly those Starbursts or mini peanut butter cups add up. I once tracked my meals in a physical journal, but tossed it in favor of MyFitnessApp since it’s always available on my phone (and has an awesome database). Just make sure not to set your caloric goal below 1200 calories per day (even that is pretty low; that’s basically you in a coma).

Reading labels and tracking your food will help you clean up your diet and become better aware of what you put in your body, which is (arguably) the most important part of any weight-loss journey. But, there is one last bonus tip:


Once your diet is in check, it’s time to start toning up and building muscle! I mean, there’s a reason everyone says diet and exercise help you lose weight. And there is a point you reach where the only way to get the body you really want is to hit the gym (assuming you don’t want a body that just withers away). Plus, once you start exercising, you may need to start eating a little more since 1 pound of muscle burns up to 50 extra calories a day. Just another reason it’s good to start by cleaning up your diet before adding in the final component: fitness.

How about you? How do you torch calories or keep yourself on track during bikini season? I know I definitely need to get my ass back in gear, and back in the gym.
Move Random

5 of my Fave Free Fitness Tools

May 21, 2014

gettin' fit @ midwestlovefest.comI am pretty sure I live online. Every day, I get sucked down an internet rabbit hole, with one account or link leading to another leading to another. Side note on that, what is with all the Instagrammers encouraging us to follow other Instagrammers? Like, tone it down a bit. You are all awesome, but I can only keep track of so many peoples’ stories.

Anyway, the internet.

It is both my friend and my foe. But, I will say, it has given me some awesomely free ways to get fit and stay healthy. No membership fees or trainer needed. Here are some of the best sites I’ve found:

1. Steady 130

I think Ryan found this site a few years ago, back when it was just starting out. Now, it’s been updated to make it even easier to download FREE workout mixes right to your computer or iPhone. Basically, you can download half hour to hour-long mixes made up of different songs, at different BPMs (beats per minute) to fit your workout session. I personally love it because there are no breaks or pauses between songs, and it gets me amp’d for a 6AM sweat sesh.

2. Blogilates

Who hasn’t heard of this internet superstar? I don’t know. But I still felt like I should mention, um, basically everything Casey Ho is about. Between her Cheap Clean Eats (based my protein and strawberry pancake idea off one of her videos), awesome pilates videos (her bubbly convos keep you distracted from the pain) and kick-ass clothing line, she’s a girly, fitness powerhouse.

3. PopSugar

Love that this site covers it all–nutrition, fitness, even weddings now (how serendipitous!). Not a huge fan of their obnoxious recipe videos (the people bug me for some reason), but they have tons of easy workout videos, pictures and print-outs to try at home.

4. The Rawesome Vegan

I know not everyone is vegan (hell, I’m not really 100% vegan either), but I love this site. Mainly because I am one big everlasting gobstopper at heart (a.k.a. sweet things are my weakness). Her desserts are decadent, but clean and vegan! And every now and then there’s an awesome meal option or smoothie. Pure, RAW perfection.

5. FoodBabe

Found this site through a podcast and was struck by Vani’s journey from overworked junk-foodie to clean and organic food advocate. She’s gone up against some major players (Kraft, Chick-fil-a and Taco Bell to name a few), but has been getting press recently for helping expose the terrible ingredients found in Subway’s bread (one ingredient is found in yoga mats people!). Now, every time I eat out I think to myself, “I wonder if FoodBabe wrote a post about this.”


Honorable Mentions:

BodyRock TV – I’ve only completed (or tried to complete) one video because my body was just…not in a good place to follow at the time. That said, the amount of workout videos and fitness info she gives away for free is INCREDIBLE. And if you can complete one of her programs, your body will be bangin‘.

Toneitup – Have you watched their BravoTV show? Addmitedly, not a huge fan (doesn’t mean I won’t watch again though! And that, my friends, is the trickery of reality TV). But, if you love Pilates and beaches, these ladies seem to be a popular choice!

Kayla Itsines – I’m biased because I’m in the process of completing her program, but I strongly believe in Kayla’s method: hard work and no short cuts. Plus, she’s a certified trainer who only trains women and specializes in helping them achieve the bikini body.

Pinterest (in general!) – I’m on this site a good portion of the day, so I see quite a few of the awesome videos and charts and infographics and recipes being shared and pinned every minute. If you’re ever feeling like you need a good kick in the ass, Pinterest (or even Tumblr) is a great place to go for some fitness inspo.

Educate Move

The Best Health and Fitness Apps for iPhone

April 25, 2014

my fav health and fitness apps -  midwestlovefest.comLike most 20-some year olds, I’m attached to my phone. When I make a concerted effort to be away from it, I am unbelievably happy, sure. But, that’s not too often. And real life? Having my iPhone handy does have its benefits, at least when it comes to helpful, apps. Here are a few that help me stay on top of my health game:

1. MyFitnessPal – There are tons of calorie counting apps, but this one is my favorite and the only one I’ve ever used. It has a huge library of food items to choose from, including well-known brands and restaurants. Plus, it easily syncs with other fitness tracking apps or bracelets, has a great community and is easy to use on your desktop.

2. Runtastic – At some point I lucked out and was able to upgrade this app for free, but even the basic, free version is great. You can choose from a list of activities (walking, running etc.) and it lets you know distance, length and rough calorie burn.

3. Breathe – This is the perfect app to help improve your meditation practice. I’ve legit done this at work because the meditations can be so short. Plus, before you meditate, the app does a “check-in” to better tailor your session.

4. Yoga Studio – I’ve been to numerous actual yoga classes, and the voice/short videos in this app are pretty close to the actual thing. Plus, you can arrange the poses to create a completely personalized routine.

5. AnyList – This app works well for any to-do list, but its special power is that it can include and sync with multiple users. Meaning, my fiancé and I can add our must-have items to one grocery list. Then, once we are in the store, we can pull up our iPhones and cross each item off our shared list. Perfection.