a happy soul

how taking care of your body will allow your soul to achieve a higher level of happiness

Work {Out} in Chicago

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Last week I had a conference in Chicago for work and I was excited to visit the Windy City. The only bad thing about traveling for work or even going back to your hometown or on a vacation for a few days, it can throw you out of your routine. Cooking is out of the question, your schedule is typically completely different, you’re in a different time zone,  and overall, you sometimes don’t feel like working out. I’ve done a better job of disciplining myself to make sure to eat right when I eat out and doing a workout no matter where I am.

I, of course, love my sleep. Wednesday I had to catch up on sleep since I had to get up early for the flight to Chicago on Tuesday. Thursday and Friday morning I was able to get a good work out in with my colleague, Caitlin. Out hotel was close to the Lake Michigan and of COURSE that’s what I wanted my view to be while we worked out.


Thursday’s Morning Work Out

Warm Up

Run from hotel to the lake (approx. 0.7 mile)

Strength session

10 walking lunges on each side. Do one leg at a time.

10 pushups

20 yard side shuffle- go down and back twice

Hold plank on hands for 10 seconds, go to T for a brief pause, return to plank for 10 seconds, go to T on the other side for a brief pause

Repeat 3 times


blogchicago3Going into T after plank

blogchicago2Walking Lunge

Yoga session

Hands in prayer to chest, breathe in and stretch hands up, and then breathe out and stretch hands to the ground.

Repeat 3 times

Move into plank

Lower down into Cobra

Downward dog

Repeat 3 times

Move into plank and bring one leg between your two hands

Warrior A

Warrior B

Move into half moon

Move into twisted half moon

Move into Airplane

Repeat 3 times each leg

Run back to hotel (approx. 0.7 mile)

blogchicago6Half Moon

blogchicago7Warrior A

Friday Morning Workout

After our Thursday morning workout, I realized running from the hotel to the lake was like interval training. There were almost equal distances between each intersection and we had to stop every time we got to an intersection…well, because it’s Chicago haha. So I decided to make it a sprint between each intersection on the way to and from the lake.

Sprint from hotel to Lake (approx. 0.7 mile)

First Couplet 10 Minutes



Second Couplet 10 Minutes

Slow, cross body mountain climbers

Sit ups.

Sprint back to hotel (approx. 0.7 mile)

For the first couplet I did body weight squats next to a nice little bench that I then used for dips. For couplets, you don’t have a set amount of reps you do for each exercise. Don’t go to failure each time but this is a continuous set with no rest.

For the second couplet, I found a grassy little incline that I thought would be great to add difficulty to the slow cross body mountain climbers and sit ups. I faced the decline with the mountain climbers and then faced the incline while doing sit ups. It felt like one sit up on the incline equaled 5 regular sit ups. I liked it, it was very efficient 🙂 Although, I did get a lot of weird looks. That’s ok, though, all in the name of a good workout.


On my planned interval sprint to the hotel,  there seemed to be less traffic and each sign said  to walk when I reached them…so I sprinted most of the way back haha. Not ideal but that was a great way to end the workout.

blogchicago5Sprinting back to the hotel

Food for the Week

For food, Caitlin and I went to Freshii and Corner Bakery quite a few times for breakfast/lunch. They had great healthy  options to choose from. Here are some links to their sites. If you ever go to Chicago, I highly recommend these two places.


Corner Bakery Cafe


Meal from Corner Bakery Cafe

As for dinner and other lunches, I made sure to get a protein and a vegetable with a healthy sauce and skipped on any bread that was given. Except for this mexican restaurant, I had to get the salsa and chips. Who can resist, right? The first night we were there, we were so hungry we just went into a restaurant and ordered food, only a few days later did I figure out which restaurant we were actually in (Petterino’s). I ordered parmesan crusted sea scallops with sauteed greens beans. Let me tell you, it was the best dish I’ve had in a while. It was AMAZING! I couldn’t figure out what the delicious sauce was for the life of me, I finally asked the waiter and it was a lemon butter wine sauce. Fail on the butter part. I typically try to make sure I stay away from the butter, but I’m kind of glad I made the mistake this time. But always try to double check what is in the sauce, even though it may be the best sauce you ever have.


On my way back to the airport via taxi, I was in the backseat not talking to anyone. I was just watching the scenery as it flew by, and I caught myself just…smiling. I just chuckled to myself and realized how great the week was. That week I was able to work hard, learn a lot, eat right, and take care of my body and I just felt happy. It was a content feeling that I try to carry with me every minute of every day. You should try to do the same! 🙂


Author: Erica Van Treese

I live an exciting, adventurous life with my husband Ben (he can take credit for the adventurous part). We live in little ol' Columbus and we just love this city! I'm an organizer with OCD (self-diagnosed). My husband turned me into a crazy water ski competitor and taught me how to jump off a 5 foot ramp going 32mph to see how far I can go, and sometimes I don't land the way I should (The whole ski community is a little coo coo, but I love them). I love pizza, and when I proclaim my love for pizza all my friends go "We know". My favorite thing is when my family and friends gather for a meal, and there is banter and wine. I love art and looking at beautiful things and I believe every item of decor in a home should have a meaning and a story behind it. I love food and exercising, but just like any other person there are days I really don't feel like going to the gym or I just rather throw in a pizza in the oven for dinner (and sometimes I do). This blog is a reflection of my love for being happy and my journey on eating right and exercising to achieve a higher level of happiness.

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