Fitbloggin: Exploring Baltimore

Hey all! Yesterday in my Fitbloggin: Saturday in Review, I talked about all the great things from the conference as well as post-conference fun on Saturday night. Now, on to Sunday!!

Rude Wake-up Call at the Baltimore Marriott

Scott and I attempted to get up at 6:45 AM in order to get a head start on our last morning there. But, around 2:30 AM we were rudely awaken (is that proper grammar?) by a party of some sort on our floor which lasted for over an hour! We were so incredibly annoyed!!! So, when we woke up at 6:45, we hit snooze and woke up 45 minutes later!

Pre-Breakfast Run Around Baltimore Harbor

Before breakfast, Scott and I went for an awesome run around the harbor – we went for 40 minutes! Scott is not really a runner but is training for the Chicago triathlon in August. He’s doing such a great job with his training 🙂 On our way back into the hotel we ran into Bookieboo who said that she had the same “party” problem on her floor. She suggested we complain and that’s just what I did. We ended up getting 1/2 off our room from the previous night – awesome! Thanks for the tip Bookieboo! Once we were freshened up and packed, we headed down to walk to breakfast in Fells Point. Unfortunately, the Blue Moon Cafe was a 45 minute wait, so we came back to the Marriott and had an outstanding champagne brunch!

Fantastic Baltimore Marriott Brunch

Although expensive, the brunch included an unbelievable amount of food and all drinks! No kidding – at one point, we had 8 drinks on our table –

  • 2 glass of water
  • 2 glasses champagne
  • 2 glasses of orange juice
  • 1 cup of tea
  • 1 glass of iced tea

Crazy! The food was fantastic! I tried to stick with all healthy things like low-fat yogurt, granola, fruit, etc.

Hmm…not sure how that vanilla pound cake got on my plate 😉 I was pretty full after my first plate, but wanted to sample a few other things, including the oatmeal, breakfast potatoes, and banana bread pudding…

Oh my, that banana bread pudding was dangerous!! If I wasn’t so full, I probably would have eaten a whole bowl of it complete with the vanilla cream sauce – ha!

After breakfast, we had to rush to the airport to catch our 1 PM flight back to chilly Chicago. Back to reality!

Wow, what a fantastic, whirlwind weekend. Loved Fitbloggin and all of the attendees/speakers and loved Baltimore!

Now, I need to get some sleep 🙂

Have a great night!

Do Not Disturb

Hey All,

I didn’t sleep well at ALL last night. It doesn’t help that I was:

A) Up late picking out clothes for Fitbloggin
B) Up even later worrying about my clothing choices Fitbloggin
C) Distracted by Miss M who, at just 2 years old, insists that she is not tired and would like to play with cars in the dark

    Ugh! Sleepless nights are hard and they make for even harder mornings. So, it may be no surprise that I did NOT run today as planned. I had hoped to get an extra hour of sleep, but that plan didn’t go over very well.  I need to hang a sign on my door that says Do Not Disturb – too bad Mr. C and Miss M can’t read yet. The other day, Mr. C so kindly asked me, do they let you sleep at work? No, mommy does not get nap time at work – or at home apparently.

    Maybe I’ll actually get some sleep at Fitbloggin – he he! Unless of course, we’re all going out dancing, at which point I will stay out all night reliving my sorority girl days. I’m hoping Ashley can give us all the scoop on the Baltimore restaurants and nightlife!

    Aside from Low and Behold, has anyone else started packing yet? I’m usually like Low and pack a week or so in advance just because I’m so excited. But, I literally feel like I just unpacked from my trip to Orlando, so I’m not motivated to start packing yet. Aside from my trip to Baltimore, I’m headed back to Orlando just after Easter, then back to Washington, DC, for a week in May. Anyone else have travel plans for the Spring/Summer?

    The other day I went to the grocery store and found myself in the produce section, as always. I’m very frustrated that fruit costs so much, yet you’re supposed to eat 4-5 servings a day. Looking at all the fruit, I was reminded of the healthy eating tip about buying several single pieces of fruit and placing them in a big bowl on your counter or desk at work. Then, when you have the urge to snack, you eat a piece of fruit.

    I tried that, but unfortunately, the fruit is not ripe and won’t be ripe for a few days. So it is just sitting in my cute little bowl mocking me as I contemplate what snack I can actually eat. Some chocolate chips are sounding good right about now.!

    Oooh, wait. Scott just came home with 4 quarts of ice cream from our local dairy…

    This is exactly what happens when you’re fruit is not ripe – he he!

    Have a great night.

    Desserts and Dreams, Disney Style

    Hey All! As most of you know, I was at Disney World all last week on vacation. Scott and I have been to Disney several times together – after all , we met at Disney while working there so it’s kind of nostalgic for us. On most of our previous trips, we’ve stayed at Disney’s “deluxe” resorts, but this time, we decided to give one of Disney’s moderate resorts a try. We stayed at the moderate for less than 24 hours, then – by a strange twist of fate, we found ourselves staying at Disney’s flagship resort – the Grand Floridian – for the remainder of our stay.

    The Grand Floridan is a Victorian-themed hotel (think My Fair Lady or Mary Poppins) with beautiful landscaping and an amazing lobby. Upgrading resorts took us from a room of 315 sq ft. to a room of 460 sq ft with a balcony and view of Cinderella’s Castle. As you can imagine, from the time we checked into our “new” room, we had the most amazing and magical time – a dream come true.

    Even though the weather was in the 60s practically the entire time, we made it to the parks 5 of the 7 days we were there. The kids loved exploring the parks, riding the rides, and meeting all of the characters…

    I loved all of those things as well, but I also loved being pampered by the hotel and, specifically, the amazing housekeeping staff. It was so nice to come back to a relaxing, luxurious room every night, not to mention a few Belgian chocolates on the pillow…

    As I mentioned in a previous post, we decided to try the Disney Dining Plan for the first time. I wasn’t super thrilled with the plan – to put it bluntly – no one really goes to Disney for the food. And, coming from Chicago – a city of amazing food – Disney has never really impressed me with its culinary offerings. However, I enjoyed the daily desserts that were included on our plan – 2 desserts a day to be exact!

    Instead of giving you a long review of ALL of the food I ate while on vacation (no entrees really stand out), I’m going to take you through some of the wonderful desserts that crossed my path and my lips 🙂

    Early on in on in our stay, we ate at Le Cellier in Epcot where I ordered the maple creme brule – it was fabulous, and that is saying a LOT coming from a person who doesn’t really like creme brule. Next up, the kids and I split a giant cupcake (it’s not vacation without a cupcake!) made of chocolate cake and frosted with creamy white frosting coated with crushed butterfingers…

    Again, this dessert/snack was fantastic, although I had major cupcake remorse after eating it!

    Finally, on our last night there, we ate at Le Cellier again at which point I ordered the s’mores dessert, which was a concoction of graham cracker and chocolate cookies that sandwiched vanilla ice cream, all topped with two candy-covered marshmallows. OMG – I can’t believe I ate this whole thing!!

    For those of you who are wondering, I did run four days while I was there and walked a TON of course. Somehow, I still managed to gain two pounds – can’t imagine how 😉

    Now, it’s back on track for the next two weeks – Fitbloggin here we come!


    Hi all! We just returned from vacation late last night. So far today, I’ve unpacked, cleaned, and have been nursing a migraine for most of the day. Be back tomorrow with more details.

    Take care.

    Engrossed in the World

    Hey everyone! Just a quick note to let you all know that I have not dropped off the face of the Earth. In fact, I’ve actually been engrossed in the world – Disney World that is! I won’t give all the details of my culinary adventures in Mouseland now, but take a look at what I’ve been enjoying for the last week…

    Yes, it DID taste as good as it looks! This was by far, the best dessert I had all week – and believe me, I had several to compare this to.

    OK, off to bed for me = stay tuned for more pics in the next few posts.

    Weather Obsession

    You all would have been so proud of me today! While driving into work, I was really craving a Starbucks mocha frap. I somehow managed to justify stopping just one more time this week, but at the very last second, I said “no”, and went straight to the office! Plus, after dinner tonight, Scott and I played the who wants to go out to get a treat game. I offered to go at first, but then decided we didn’t need to consume the calories or spend the money. Again, so proud!

    OK, can I be more obsessed with the weather these days. And it’s not because of Chicago’s recent snowapalooza or the fact that it is bitter cold. I have been obsessed about the weather for my vacation to Florida. I feel like I’m going onto The Weather Channel site every hour, just to see if Orlando’s forecast has magically change. Will it rain or snow? Will it be sunny or cloudy? Will it be warm enough to swim or wear shorts? Only time will tell. And, as soon as it does change, I am going to be the first one to know because I’ve got the Weather Channel booked marked. Strangely enough, I feel like one of those retirees who can only talk about the weather or sales at the grocery store. I’m not alone though. I’m going to guess the folks in the mid-Atlantic states are pretty obsessed with their weather right now too.

    Enough of the randomness. I’m off to bed. I have a big day of running, shopping, and studying on tap for tomorrow. Then Saturday, it’s a surprise activity that’s just for all the single ladies – hint, it involves purses!

    Have a great night everyone.

    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    The Good…

    I just finished my dessert for the evening – a kid’s size chocolate ice cream with Heath bar from Cold Stone Cremery…

    It was VERY small, we’re talking a 1/2 cup at the most. But it was sooo good! Just enough to keep me satisfied. 

    The Bad…Chicago’s Earthquake

    So, about 4 AM Central this morning, an earthquake rocked Chicagoland. It was a small earthquake – only 3.8 on the scale. To my knowledge it didn’t cause any damage or panic in the streets. Did I feel it? Yes. It woke me up from a dead sleep. Was I scared? No. It wasn’t that bad – more of an odd feeling, like you’re not sure what’s going on. The bed and windows were shaking. I thought it was a slow plow outside the house. But  then I realized I didn’t hear the scraping of the snow and didn’t see any truck lights. When the bed stopped shaking after about 10 seconds, I contemplated waking Scott up to proclaim that we had just experienced an earthquake. I decided against it and went back to bed.

    It’s rather strange though. Although I heard it all over the news on my drive to work, NO ONE at work said anything about it. Like it never happened. Strange.

    The Ugly…

    I received a note from my younger brother today. He moved to Orlando about a month ago to start his new job as a physical therapy assistant. I haven’t seen him since Thanksgiving so we’ve been emailing back and forth about my trip to Orlando in a few weeks. Yesterday, I asked him how the weather was at Disney World and he replied…

    It is cold at night. During the day, you will need something to cover your arms. When the sun goes down, you will need some type of pants. The water parks do not open unless the temp is in the high 60s.

    I was sooo bummed when I read this!! I wanted to go to Orlando to get away from the cold, but it appears that the cold will be following me on vacation. I know that the whole country is experiencing colder than normal temps, but for some reason I always think of Florida as being immune to the cold weather. Like even when it’s 70 degrees, it still feels hot. Hmm…not so much.

    Oh please, please, please Mother Nature, Old Man Winter, and whoever else will listen, PLEASE give me at least a few 75 degree, sunny days on my vacation!

    Avoid Weight Gain While Traveling

    Today, I booked yet another business trip. This time, I’ll be headed to Orlando in April for a continuing education conference. Finally – a business trip where I don’t actually have to work! If all goes as planned, I will have logged at least 8 business trips this year.

    Although traveling for business can get old, one thing I do enjoy is eating at new, fun restaurants in each city I stop in.  This is a great way to explore the city and new foods at the same time. But, it can also be very, very dangerous for your waistline. When you’re out of town on business, you have no choice but eat outside the home. Hopefully, you have good luck in your restaurant choices, but sometimes you’re at the mercy of airport food and ya all know how I feel about that!! Plus, it is very easy to overeat while on business. Most business events are centered around food and drinks and plenty of both! If you don’t pace yourself or know when to stop eating, you’re likely to put on a few pounds by the end of your trip – and all for the sake of your job!

    10 Strategies for Healthy Eating During Business Travel

    In all of my years of traveling for business and eating at many, many business lunches and dinners, I’ve developed a few strategies that help me eat less and make better choices about what I eat. Although I do not follow these tips religiously, I find that they’ve become almost second nature when order food at restaurants.

    1. Eat an appetizer or small plate – Before ordering, I peruse the appetizer or small plates section. If there’s something tasty in that section, I’ll order one or two smaller dishes as a main meal. And, because they are served more like appetizers (bite size/finger foods), I usually end up sharing them with the table, which means I eat even less.
    2. Order a salad or soup to start – If I am really hungry when I sit down to eat, I’ll order a small, simple salad with a vinegar dressing or a minestrone/broth soup. I find that this takes the edge off of my hunger and prevents me from eating the whole bread basket (although I have done that in the past – ouch!)
    3. Beware the bottomless bread basket – As I mentioned in #2, I have been known to eat more than my share of bread or tortilla chips. This would usually leave me too full to eat a significant portion of my entree. This may sound like I’m balancing calories, but it’s definitely not balancing nutrition. It’s much better nutrition-wise to eat your entree (provided it’s a healthy one) than eating 7 pieces of bread.
    4. Limit alcohol or other calorie-laden drinks – I don’t drink a lot of alcohol to begin with but when I do, I limit my intake to 1 or 2 drinks max. I would much rather save my calories for dessert and sip on ice cold water or a calorie free drink with my meal.
    5. Split an entree – On a business trip, splitting a meal can be difficult. Although, in the last year, I have done this a few times with close colleagues. Even my boss – a man – has been known to split restaurant food – but it’s usually dessert!
    6. Pretend you’re at home – Before you order and especially before you eat, think What would I eat if I was at home? or How much would I eat if I was at home? For instance, would you really eat a pound of spaghetti bolognese after eating calamari and a salad? Maybe, maybe not. At home, would you really make yourself a greasy egg McMuffin-like breakfast sandwich? Probably not, so why would you order it at the airport? Even the worst airports have yogurt, fruit, and cereal.
    7. Plan your calories – If I know that my colleagues and I are going out to a big, fancy dinner with drinks, I’ll eat a bigger breakfast – like yogurt with nuts, fruit, and maybe some toast. Then, I eat lighter at lunch – a cup of soup or a 1/2 sandwich. This leaves plenty of room and calorie cushion for dinner on the town. 
    8. Don’t follow the table – Just because everyone else is ordering multiple drinks, appetizers, and a filet with a baked potato does not mean I have to. I’d much rather feel good about what I’m eating (and not feel bloated/stuffed) than feel like I have to match my colleagues’ ordering and eating habits.
    9. Excuse yourself – By getting up during the meal, your body has time to adjust to the food you’ve eaten and decide if it still needs to eat more. Also, if I’m out to eat with a big group and am tempted by the food a the table, I will excuse myself once or twice to go to the bathroom or to make a phone call. This gives the food on the table enough time to disappear. This could also work during dessert – when the server comes around to take dessert orders, quietly tell the person next to you that you need to make a quick call and that you don’t need anything for dessert. While everyone else is pressuring his/her neighbor to order a dessert (because who really wants to be the only one ordering a dessert?), you will be away from the table and the peer pressure.
    10. Remember, it’s not your last meal – Even if you do end up ordering more food than you’d normally eat at one sitting, it does NOT mean that you have to eat it all. This is not your last meal so don’t act like it by stuffing yourself.

    These strategies don’t just work for business trips, but for eating at restaurants in general. I hope to put all (or at least some!) of these strategies into practice during our upcoming trip to Disney World. Wish me luck!

    Happy, Healthy Travels Everyone!

    Like Being in College, Except You Get Paid

    Happy Friday! Don’t know about you but I am really ready for the weekend. I stayed up until 12:30 AM last night to finish a project for work. I felt like I was in college/grad school again, playing beat the clock against a mid-term deadline. Back in college, I used to think that all that work and pulling all-nighters wouldn’t be so bad if we got paid for it. Well, now that I AM getting paid for it, I wish I was getting paid MORE! 

    Despite only getting about 6 hours of sleep, I had a great run this morning on the treadmill. It really is too cold to run outside here in Chicago – at least in my opinion. Although I complain about running on the treadmill day after day, I really am thankful that I have one.

    Breakfast was a hearty bowl of oatmeal, with a tad of brown sugar and a few chopped walnuts…

    I had to make a Target and Costco run for things for the party tomorrow, which consumed most of my morning. But I did cash in my Starbucks giftcard for a tall mocha frap. Instead of drinking it right away, I put it in the fridge to stay cold until after lunch…

    Since I’m trying to stick to 1,600 calories a day for the next few days, I’ve been really watching my portions. As you can see, I had a 1/2 sandwich made with reduced-fat salami and a 1/2 slice of Swiss, plus a few carrots and chips to balance it out.

    While the kids napped, I savored my mocha frap and spent the better part of 2 hours perusing the menus at Disney World. We have been very strategic about our restaurant choices, trying to balance quality food with a fun atmosphere for the kids. You’re probably thinking that every restaurant at Disney provides a fun atmosphere for kids – well, not really. Some do a better job than others. This balancing act also includes trying to split our meals between a la carte menus and buffets. Here’s the catch, most character meals are buffets and most of these get pretty low ratings for food. But, when you have small children, you want to go to character meals to make it more fun for the kids and not just like going out to eat back home.

    As I checked out the menus online, which are very accurate by the way, I was contemplating some of the healthier choices for both me and the kids. On the dining plan, the kids have to order off the kid’s menu. And wouldn’t you know it, nearly all of the menus include hot dogs, pizza, chicken fingers, burgers, and mac and cheese. Come on – I know kids are picky but couldn’t you be more original than that? That’s not to say that my kids won’t eat those things because they absolutely will – but twice a day for seven days?? Even my kids would get bored with that. And what is even more strange is that the appetizer for the kids (the kid’s meal includes an appetizer) they can choose from a salad or carrots sticks. I know that those are healthy choices, but how many kids do you know (especially those 5 and under) who eat salads or carrot sticks for an appetizer? It seems like it should be switched, give them something a little more “fun” for an appetizer and give them a healthier choice for the entree.

    Anyway, dinner ended up being homemade chicken noodle soup, which tasted really good on a cold day. Before soup, we actually started with a little white cheddar and crackers…

    Again, because I’m watching my portions, I had one small cup of soup – about 10 ounces. But it looked really good in my fancy smancy cup…

    I’m off to go finish up a few party things before bed. See you all tomorrow!

    Today's Rant: Unhealthy Airport Food

    I’m back from DC and pretty darn tired – blah! I’m actually feeling pretty “fat” right now too, considering I sat in a meeting for most of the day and then sat on the plane coming home. I am so looking forward to my run tomorrow morning. 

    OK, now for an airport/travel RANT…

    Why is it that Washington Reagan Airport – I’m sure one of the busiest airports in the US – has such terrible food options???? Maybe it was just the terminal/wing I was in, but I seriously had 4 options for quick-service food, and only one that I would even consider as edible (Potbelly). Plus, no Starbucks in site after you pass through security. Sure, there was a Starbucks before going through security, but I would have had to chug my drink or throw it out before going through – what gives DC??

    O’Hare – you have set the bar so high that I’m spoiled for life.

    That’s all I got. Until tomorrow….