I recently was listening to a podcast with Oprah and Geneen Roth, an expert on body acceptance and reducing compulsive eating. One concept they discussed that struck me was that your relationship with food is a microcosm of your relationship with yourself and your broader life.

It’s never just about the food – which suggests we can look to other aspects of our lives to see what seems to be missing or incomplete, or out of alignment. Once those areas become more in balance, we can relax around food; it holds less power over us and becomes a little less interesting or important.

Related: do you have a “fear of missing out on food”? Here’s how to eat more mindfully.

Think of Food as Two Separate Categories

I learned something similar when I studied to become a health coach (before I became a dietitian) at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition: thinking of “food” as two separate categories, primary food and secondary food.

Secondary food is literal food, like fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, bread and pasta, animal protein, oils, sweets, even junk and processed foods. But primary food encompasses everything that “feeds” us in addition to actual food, like spiritual satisfaction, feeling fulfilled with your work and extracurricular activities, robust relationships, and ample exercise.

The reason these are labeled as primary food is because they can be considered in some ways to be even more important than the secondary food. Why? They nurture and nourish us in ways fat, protein and carbohydrates simply cannot. When our primary needs are well taken care of, our need for secondary food decreases, and we certainly depend on it less for happiness and fulfillment, and instead use it for its ideal purpose, which is strength and sustenance.

Your Relationship with Food

Think back to a time when you were depressed or anxious. You might have gained or lost weight, ate fast food or lots of sugary desserts, using food in a dysfunctional way to somehow feel better. But if you think back to your childhood or of a time when things seemed to have fallen into an easy rhythm, you might have eaten more lightly, focusing on other things and viewing food more as an afterthought.

Take some time to think or even jot some notes down about these four areas of your life currently: career, spirituality, relationships and exercise. Where could you put some more attention? Notice how bolstering these areas of your life affects your hunger for food.

Post written by FFC Boystown and East Lakeview Registered Dietitian Cindy Klinger. 

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Believe it or not, swimsuit season is just around the corner! But don’t let that deter you from soaking up all the warmer months have to offer – it just comes down to moderation. There are choices you can make in any social situation so you can indulge responsibly and enjoy upcoming social gatherings like weddings, picnics and parties without overdoing it or feeling left out.

Bringing the treats? You can control what options are available. I’ve created a list of the 4 best Lakeview bakeries that include some “not so bad” options for when you need balance, and “bad” options because hey, if you’re going to treat yourself, you may as well do it right!

Vanille Patisserie

Photo courtesy of Vanille Patisserie.

Vanille is a classic French patisserie with an astounding selection of pastries, cookies and desserts perfect for the holidays or your next special occasion. They have several individual pastries too, so you don’t have to worry about leftovers; just get exactly how many servings you need.

When it comes to a special occasion, though, if you are going to be bad… do it well. The Royal (pictured here) is a delightfully sinful chocolate mousse on top of a crisp caramel streusel base with a layer of hazelnut dacquoise. If you want just a little sweet decadence but don’t want to wreck your nutrition for the day, try one of their 15 seasonal flavors of macarons. One macaron has under 120 calories on average.

Bittersweet Pastry Shop

Bittersweet is a European bakery AND cafe so you can get sinful pastries (like one of their amazing layered cakes) etc, but you can also get a healthy lunch of fresh salad, sandwiches and soups full of hearty vegetables that are updated weekly so all items are at the peak of freshness. The Turkey Reuben is a popular choice on fresh marbled rye – leaner than a traditional reuben that would have the added fat of corned beef.

Related: in the area? Check out these healthy lunch spots in Boystown while you’re up this way!

Dinkle’s Bakery

Dinkle's Stollen Best Bakeries in Chicago

Photo courtesy of Dinkle’s Bakery.

Like Bittersweet, Dinkel’s Bakery is one of the best bakeries (of the German variety) that also has a cafe. Indulge in a little history lesson by trying their famous stollen. The delicious flavor starts with a pure, hand-shaped butter dough, which surrounds a buttercream filling, almonds, cashews and fruit soaked overnight in rum and brandy. It is then glazed in melted butter and lightly dusted with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. The recipe is from the 1800’s but they perfected it in the 20’s right here in Chicago and serve it all year round.

Need something a little more sustainable? Head to Dinkel’s for a healthy breakfast – choose a dish like the Veggie Baker’s Sunrise, which includes cage-free eggs, sharp white cheddar, avocado, spinach and pesto all on root bread.


La Boulangerie

Last, but not least, is La Boulangerie, another bakery AND cafe (French bakery, that is). They have some of the best tarts around — another great item to bring to a festive brunch or dinner. The Chocolate Passion Fruit Caramel Tart is an absolutely sinful indulgence – if you’re going to give into temptation, make sure it’s worth it! (It is.)

They also have the less guilt-inducing option of 8+ flavors of macarons (always a good choice when being bad but trying to stay good). Their savory crepes are one of the best things you can grab for lunch or breakfast. Since La Boulangerie has a traveling food truck, you can actually get these fresh meals on the go all over the city! The website updates the locations on a regular basis, – check if they will be in your area.

Have a favorite or see one we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Post written by FFC East Lakeview Membership Director Julia Groves.


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If you’re like me – from an area where it’s always sunny, never drops below 30 degrees and frost is the closest you’ll ever get to snow- then Chicago’s infinitely long winter and elusive spring has probably sucker punched you in the gonads in a lot of ways. You might find yourself more apathetic towards moving away from your couch or swearing whenever wind blows. Getting to the gym becomes less of a priority when the weather is downright terrible! But you’re in luck – we’ve got bad weather workout tips to combat that. Check them out!

Implement Dedicated Days

A large issue people run into is not having a consistent routine. However, consistency is SO important, because consistency is where you see results! It also helps motivate you when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Setting dedicated days is hard initially because you’re holding yourself accountable for working out. So start by setting a simple goal for the week. I recommend three dedicated days- that’s the easiest way to begin, that’s how I became consistent- Monday, Wednesday and Saturday for an hour.

When I stuck to the days I started to see the biggest changes in my body- three days a week. If you know you don’t like working out on Sundays, don’t! But, you also have to stick to the plan and not work out those days. Once you hit the routine regularly, you may naturally want to add a fourth (if you don’t, that’s ok too!). Just stay consistent with your days. You’ll begin to notice the difference in your body and your mind.

Change the Time of Day

We’re creatures of habit. I love working out in the morning; I go to work happier and more engaged with clients. I just feel better! But it can be difficult to get up in the mornings (especially during fall/winter, or even the odd with the dark skies of a spring or summer thunderstorm). A bad weather workout tip? Switch it up! Go to your gym after work or on your lunch break. If your office has a gym for its employees, utilize it.

Working out at night is a good for you too, as it has been known to assist in sleep and encourages your brain to wind down for the evening. Winding down is just as important as working out. We are all stressed in the age of technology and working out at the end of a day is great for releasing the mental drudgery of everyday work.

Find a Gym Buddy

Gym buddies help you stay accountable with your fitness goals and regimen. Help each other out; cheer each other on! You can even alternate who chooses what workout to do for the day or participate in a group fitness class together; you’ll take comfort knowing your friend is suffering beside you. So text each other, call each other, demonstrate different workouts you want to try. When you’re done, grab coffee, dinner, or if you’re like me, a bagel! Friends help friends stay consistent.

Related: feel like you fell off the bandwagon a little bit? Here are 5 tips to get you back into a fitness routine!

Change Up the Exercises

Get off the elliptical! Oh yeah, you heard me. Change up your routine. There is nothing more motivating than doing a different workout everyday. It helps with dedication, it’s fun and it’s challenging. This small change will help keep your mind engaged and excited to exercise. If that’s too much effort, you can also download an app. Two of my favorites are Sworkit and Workout: Gym Exercise Tracker, which offer various programs that will get you stronger, leaner and fitter, along with different intensity levels. They even offer lists of exercises and demonstration videos.

If you’d rather go for a more hands-on approach, you could also hire a trainer. It is literally our job to create programming so you don’t have to think — just do. Each FFC trainer has a unique take on fitness with different exercises and routines. For example, I work with kettlebells because they blast fat, increase strength and cardiovascular endurance. My coworker Steve is all about barbell work and lifting, Taylor does great with strength and conditioning. If this interests you, talk to the FFC membership team! They’ve worked out with the trainers and can pair you with someone suited for you and your goals. Or, if you’re feeling brave, walk up the trainers desk and ask for advice. If a trainer isn’t with a client, he or she will most likely show you an exercise or two. We’re here to help and want you to have fun!

Be Good To Yourself

Strength and fitness is a journey, just like life. You’re going to have good days and bad days and it’s ok to go with the flow. For example, if you don’t make it to the gym as much as you wanted that’s ok. Let’s say these changes are hard for you to implement. Ask yourself, “why am I making these changes and how important is this to me?”

Fitness is more than just the physique – in fact, rockin’ bodies are byproducts of exercising. Fitness is treating your mind right because your mind and psyche are what helps you reach your goals. So be realistic and make small changes so you’re not shocking your system. For example, if you want a cookie- eat a damn cookie. Don’t deprive yourself, but be aware of what you’re doing and adjust along the way. Success isn’t made in leaps and bounds, but rather in small doses. Find your small victories and build off of those!

Post written by Julia Meese, FFC East Lakeview Personal Trainer.


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I saw the signs plastered all over FFC East Lakeview: “Move2Win, Join Now!” Even trainers were wearing blue shirts with “Move2Win” on them. I wasn’t sure what was going on at first, but eventually I learned it was a fitness challenge that had to do with moving and wearable fitness tracking devices. Okay, it’s not so much a challenge as it is a full-blown competition. Teams, prizes and even competing against other clubs!

I quickly dismissed the whole idea and let the signs and shirts just turn into a blur. For me, to get to 10,000 steps every day is a challenge—and it’s a challenge that I don’t always (okay, rarely) meet. So the thought of being in a competition seemed laughable to me.

Getting Started

When I was approached about joining “Move2Win” by my personal trainer, I actually laughed out loud and asked if she was joking. Alena looked at me in her deadpan (more like death ray) stare and replied, “What’s so funny? No, I’m not joking… You’re joining.”

I explained that aside from my advanced age, I sit on my backside at a desk job and have an hour and 15 minute commute each way, but I never got to finish because she interrupted me with that death stare of hers again.

“Enough with the excuses, you ARE joining the challenge,” she said. “Are you ready now?” I meekly replied no, yet promised I would go home and sign up, but I could see the doubt on her face.

I turned to slink away, hoping she would forget all about it, but she jumped in with some parting advice. “Don’t think of it as a contest, but more of a chance to be a part of something and meet new people. If you get some extra walking in, great!”

The one thing about working with Alena is that I always keep my promises to her—and she expects me to! So, I went home and promptly signed up for Move2Win.

Related: feel like you fell off the fitness bandwagon? Here are 5 tips to help you get back on track!

My Progress During Move2Win

The day before the challenge started, Alena sent a group text a little before 10 in the morning. It was a picture of her tracking device, which read 10,718. I’ll be honest—I felt like the biggest loser as I looked at mine and read 2,656. But then I noticed a second text come in. Someone had excitedly replied, “The power of running!” which I thought was sort of cool.

Then emails were exchanged about a team name. Alena was very democratic about it and put her executive stamp of approval on the Scarving Pumpkins. Our group was fun, and Alena planned some great activities that everyone enjoyed. Not to mention there seemed to be a real camaraderie going and a bunch of our team members were on the leaderboard. (Go Scarving Pumpkins!)

Throughout the fitness challenge, we got fun, motivational updates from Alena like this:

Good morning:

After checking the leader board, I am happy to report the following stats.

  1. Prince Lewis – 335,575 steps; 163.76 miles
  2. Cody Melcher – 246,201 steps;  129.15 miles
  3. Anna DeLuna – 211,374 steps; 93.66 miles
  4. Courtney Kearschner – 172,388 steps; 89.12
  5. Christine Spasoff – 163,656 steps; 81.50 miles
  6. Kimberly Roberts – 159,570 steps; 71.66 miles

Let’s keep up the good work and represent FFC East Lakeview!

Wow, we have some awesome team members! And even though my name was nowhere on that list, it’s okay. We all have to start somewhere! I’ve started with my membership at a terrific club, which has terrific trainers and staff.

So the next time you see FFC is hosting a “fitness challenge” or event, definitely join! It can’t hurt, and who knows—maybe you’ll even find the “fun” in fitness, too.

Related: sign up for a personal training session at FFC on us – click here!

Finally I have to give a huge thank you to Alena, who helps keep my focus, tries to put fun into my fitness routine, has taken the word “can’t” out of my vocabulary, and has ultimately changed my perspective on the word “challenge” altogether.

Keep checking that leaderboard, you might just see my name up there!

Post written by FFC East Lakeview member Dee Dee S. 


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On November 25, 2013, my life was forever changed—I had gastric bypass surgery. My husband and I made this life changing decision based on the incredible pain I had been in for the two years prior due to fibromyalgia.

Back In early 1995, at the age of 23, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and fibromyalgia. In 1998, we moved from the northern suburbs of Chicago to Phoenix, AZ because my pain was so bad. We stayed in Phoenix for 12 years before having a mid-life crisis together and decided to move back to Chicago.

Our first two years back in Chicago, I felt great. Then, the pain, agony, and stiffness returned, reminding me why we moved to Phoenix. My mobility was drastically reduced, and I couldn’t do much without enduring massive pain and needing to rest. I was using a cane to walk and my knee was in a brace. I was taking 11 medications, including two injections a day. It came out to be 33 pills a day, except Fridays, when I took 41 pills.

It was a life I couldn’t imagine living forever. I also lived in fear that forever wouldn’t be that long either, since my father (who was also overweight) died of a massive heart attack at age 53 in the middle of the night—the same exact way his paternal uncle died. History wasn’t exactly on my side.

Learning About My Options

How FFC helped me with my fibromyalgiaIn October 2012, my husband and I attended a seminar at Northwestern University for bariatric surgery. We learned about the different kinds of procedures, and I made up my mind then: I was going to have gastric bypass surgery.

Getting to that point proved to be difficult. The surgeon I met with didn’t think I would be a good fit for gastric bypass because of all the medications I was on (he was afraid they wouldn’t be absorbed into my system). He suggested I have the gastric sleeve procedure.

The main difference between the two procedures is with gastric bypass, the percentage of weight loss is greater than with the gastric sleeve, and with gastric bypass you can’t have sugar, whereas with the gastric sleeve you can. I’ve compared my addiction to sugar to that of a drug addict. I can’t just have a little “taste” of sugar, because otherwise, I am going through a half gallon of ice cream and/or a bag of cookies in two days.

Related: click here to sign up for a free nutrition consultation with a registered dietitian at FFC!

My surgeon and I went to battle, luckily my rheumatologist believed in me and told my surgeon there were many different types of medications and that we would try them all if needed. My surgeon finally agreed and performed the gastric bypass surgery on me, but gave me a stern warning that I shouldn’t get my hopes up too high and that he would be happy if I lost 60 pounds.

SIXTY POUNDS? I was 150 pounds overweight. I was NOT going through all of this just to lose 60 pounds…

So for once in my life, I decided to get serious about my weight issues.

My Fitness Journey at FFC

Once I received the all-clear from my surgeon and rheumatologist to exercise, I joined FFC East Lakeview in January 2014.

I was only “allowed” to go in the pool by my doctors. I began with three sessions per week just moving my arms and legs in the water and doing various types of exercises with bending movements. Then I walked laps in the lane. I was only able to do three (back and forth) before feeling like I was going to have a massive heart attack.

My reward for doing my “routine” of exercises was sitting in the whirlpool afterwards. I was so incredibly embarrassed to be there, feeling like a beached whale in my “tent” of a swimsuit. But I kept arguing with myself that I shouldn’t care what others think, nobody knows me there, I’m not there to impress anybody, I’m there to get healthy, start feeling better, and not have my life shortened like my dad’s.

It certainly wasn’t easy. There were plenty of days I didn’t feel like going, especially during the “Snowmaggedeon Days”. Walking through two feet of unshoveled snow when you’re 150 pounds overweight wasn’t exactly easy… But I forced myself to go.

Before long, I was able to do more reps of bending-type exercises, increase my walking laps to five and increase my frequency of attending the gym from three to four days a week! After 4 months, I was able to meet with a trainer, to go over exercises to do in the pool. Then, a couple months later, I met with him again to do dry-land weight training exercises.

By April 2014, six months after surgery, I hit the half-way mark, and had lost 75 pounds! I felt great and was off seven of my 11 medications. Both my rheumatologist and surgeon were ecstatic with my progress. Neither expected me to do so well that soon, which made me more determined than ever.

Related: a life-changing Pilates transformation – pre and post-hip surgery.

Running a 5K with my husband with no pain from fibromyalgia due to exercise

All of this hard work certainly paid off by January 2015 when, 14 months after my surgery, I reached my goal of losing 150 pounds! Two months later, I lost another six pounds.

When I see these numbers I’m completely dumbfounded. I started off in a size 26/28 shirt and 26 jeans. All together, I’ve lost a total of 122 inches, and now wear an XS shirt and size 4 jeans. (It’s such a bizarre feeling to hang up my clothes and see such small articles of clothing.)

There have been times where I’ve noticed my reflection in glass and thought it was someone else. It’s hard to recognize this new me. For so long (about 15 years), I was “big” and kept getting bigger and bigger. I forgot what it felt like to work out. I forgot what it felt like to work up a sweat, not from just walking down the street at a ridiculously slow pace, but from actual physical exercise.

Last summer, my husband and I rode our bikes a lot along the lakefront. Each weekend, we increased our distance a little more. I was excited riding from Addison Street to the Fullerton Avenue Beach. A couple of weekends later, I couldn’t believe that we rode all the way to North Avenue Beach, then to Oak Street Beach, and then to Navy Pier. For some that that may not be a big deal, but for someone who hasn’t been able to ride her bike in about 15 years, this was HUGE. I actually surprised the hell out of my husband when we rode all the way down to Soldier Field one day, only having to stop at Buckingham Fountain for a little break.

How I was able to help my fibromyalgia with exerciseThis summer was the summer of size 0 shorts and the 5K. Because of my RA, fibromyalgia, and severe plantar fasciitis, I never could walk very far. But I decided I wanted to participate in my first 5K this past summer. Not only was I able to complete it, but I also completed it in great time! We have done two more since then and have one coming up in December.

It’s such an amazing feeling to be active again when I was literally crippled in pain for so long. I really truly feel like I got my life back. As for my RA and fibromyalgia, both are in remission. I now only take 1½ medications a day. My inflammation level has remained the same, below average, for a year now. (My rheumatologist and surgeon have both said this is practically unheard of.)

My rheumatologist has had arthritis patients who had gastric bypass surgery and fibromyalgia patients who had gastric bypass surgery. None have been cured of those diseases. I’m the only one who had both diseases and, and, jus last week, he labeled me as being “cured.”

Post written by FFC East Lakeview member Cheryl Wozny.





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Between Boystown and Wrigleyville, the Lakeview neighborhood has a lot of nightlife to offer, so it makes perfect sense that weekend brunches in this community are also a big hit! To help you keep the weekend going in delicious style, we’ve compiled a list of the best weekend brunch spots in Lakeview for great food and drink specials:

Ann Sather’s – 909 W. Belmont Ave. / 3415 N. Broadway St.

The menu plays up the Swedish roots of the owner’s family (an FFC member) with items like Pancakes with Lingonberries and Swedish meatballs. Add to that the variety of omelets, Eggs Benedict and breakfast wraps, and it can be hard to choose. Most of the entreés come with two sides, or you can choose to substitute for their amazing cinnamon roll (it’s worth it). They’re so well-known for these that they put them in their logo! A must-try is the French Toast Fantasy, recommended by Rachel Ray from her visit here!

Bakin’ & Eggs – 3120 N. Lincoln Ave.

One word: BACON. Followed by these other words: Waffle. Pancakes. Flight! French toast is only on weekends. While waiting for a table, you won’t find a Bloody Mary on deck, so pop over to the café for a cup of Ipsento coffee. Pastries courtesy of The Lovely Bake Shop. (Stop in on Monday or Friday for half-off pastries!)

Batter & Berries – 2748 N. Lincoln Ave.

Want brunch any day of the week? This place is a must try, especially if you love French toast! Choose from one of the four featured flavors, or get a flight and try all of them! Skip the inevitable wait and sit at a communal table. You never know who you’ll meet! This isn’t one of Lakeview’s bottomless establishments (it’s BYOB), so come prepared with your own champagne.

Fennel & Iris – 1652 W. Belmont Ave.

Another great coffee spot boasting Intelligentsia French press coffee. While there aren’t a ton of items on the menu, the ones they do have are delicious. With an intimate, quirky atmosphere complete with mismatched chairs, this is a great place for private parties and showers, kids’ parties and even weddings. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, BYOB.

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Glenn’s Diner – 1820 W. Montrose Ave.

This place is known for their seafood and cereal bar (if you’re not into brunch food). Though breakfast is served all day, every day, their weekend brunch menu features specials that you can only get on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am – 3 pm. If you’re craving something rich and sweet, try the Mom’s Appleishush Pancake, featuring fresh apples, cinnamon and sugar glaze, and be sure to ask for French vanilla ice cream on top!

Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club – 3700 N. Halsted St.

Come for brunch and stay for a show on Sunday! Brunch brings $14.95 bottomless mimosas, bloody martinis, Bellinis, and sangria with purchase of a food item. $29.95 prix fixe menu. Seating is limited to two hours, and we recommend you make a reservation unless you don’t mind waiting. (In nice weather, you can sit out on the patio!)

Ristorante Angelina – 3561 N. Broadway St.

A staple in the neighborhood, this Italian restaurant is a favorite brunch location because of its $21 Champagne Sunday Brunch (cash only). Choose from traditional brunch selections like Eggs Benedict and French toast, or go more Italian and opt for a pasta entreé.

Southport Grocery & Café – 3552 N. Southport Ave.

Who doesn’t want to eat in a grocery store that features locally-sourced goods? Open daily, their café serves up specialties like cupcake batter and bread pudding pancakes, as well as other breakfast items and fresh-made sandwiches. You might think they don’t serve supper, but they do… They’re secret! This place is so serious about the quality of its food, there’s even an in-house baker and preservationist.

Need more options near the neighborhood? Head over to our favorite spots to grab lunch in Boystown! What other places do you like to go for brunch or breakfast in Lakeview? Let us know in the comments!

Post written by an FFC contributor.