SmarterFitter in the U.S.A.

Requisite photo of The Bean

This blog usually comes to you from merry England, but for the next three weeks I’ll be writing from my home country: the U.S. of A.

First, Chicago, my home town and the place I’m writing from now (alongside a hot cup of coffee and a very crazy bird). Tim and I are staying with my parents and couldn’t be happier to be in a city where summer actually FEELS like summer (it may be hot and humid in Chicago, but I’m not the least bit cold – yesterday in England I was still wearing thermals).

On July 2nd we’re off to Austin, where Tim and I met and where I went to grad school. I suspect Chicago’s balmy 93 degree weather is just a primer for what’s waiting for me in Austin. But so are good friends, excellent food, and a rental house with central a/c.

Frost Bank at 5

After our travels we pack up and move to the country and it won’t be until July 17th-ish that we’re finally in our new place and able to settle into our new routine. Until then, all bets are off.

This is a bit of a challenge for the SmarterFitter mindset, which knows that keeping fit is largely about consistency. True as that may be, there is also the part of keeping fit that involves trying new things and setting new challenges. Not only does this keep things interesting, but it also avoids those dreaded plateaus many of us struggle with.

So I’m going to look at these next few weeks of unrest as the ultimate plateau buster. I’ve been feeling a little stuck lately in the same routine. Swim, walk, cycle, repeat. As dear as these activities are to me, I fear I’ve been growing more in boredom than I have in muscle mass. I’m tired of counting laps, cycling down Kingsland Road, and circling Clissold Park. I’m ready for something new.

We don’t often think of travel as a part of a healthy fitness “routine”, but I wonder if travel can be just as effective for breaking out of plateaus as is all the other plateau-busting strategies out there? After all, travel is a great opportunity to



  • Relax – In between this trip’s various weddings and other social commitments, I plan to do a lot of chillin’, hopefully in the sun with a cold beverage and a hot barbecue. What could be better for the mind and soul than a healthy dose of relaxation.


  • Have a think – About life, goals, the future, and all those other things sitting in the back of my mind that I always feel like I don’t have the time to think about.


  • Try new things – New foods, new scenery, new moves and new people. Even just walking in a different environment can lead to all sorts of ideas. I’m already thinking where my walks will take me when I move to the country. As much as I love Clissold Park, it will be great to be in a place where walking is as much an adventure as it is a sport. The scenery along is enough to inspire me to up my mileage into day-long hikes, with a pack, working my way up to the point where I’m able to go on multi-day backpacking trips.




Of course, there are some routines I can’t live without, and one of those is Bircher Muesli. But how can I not spread the love of my favorite breakfast cereal?

Bircher Muesli Chicago Style



So far I’ve taken Bircher Muesli to L.A. and Chicago, convincing both my parents and my sister of its extreme awesomeness. I’m still waiting for the rest of the world to catch on, but I think it’s coming along. In fact, yesterday there was an article in the Chicago Tribune for overnight oats, which is basically steel-cut oats soaked overnight to reduce cooking time in the morning. But I say skip the cooking altogether. After all, it’s summer, and a hot one at that. Days like these call for cool, refreshing foods, and Bircher fits the bill like a charm.

Recipe: Bircher Muesli

8 thoughts on “SmarterFitter in the U.S.A.

  1. Katharina

    Bircher muesli has a strong present in my parent’s household! Definitely has been a delicious part of our lives since.. forever!

    I hope you have a wonderful trip and thoroughly enjoy your time in all of these places! Be safe :)

    Reply
  2. Monica Shaw

    jw – I’ll actually be staying at a hotel Friday night right near Millenium Park. I might have to check that out (however, my reason for staying at the hotel is a wedding the night before, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be feeling like working out in the hot sun on Saturday morning =)

    Reply
  3. Gavan, The Healthy Irishman

    I’m sure it was tough leaving lovely sunny England during the summer for Chicago!
    Obviously you know how great Austin is so have a blast. I can appreciate your love for your muesli. I’m the same with oatmeal or porridge as I call it. I’ve always had it from childhood to now. Old habits are hard to break.
    Enjoy your trip.

    Reply
  4. Monica Shaw

    Hi Gavan. I’m know what you mean about porridge… that’s been my breakfast of choice for the past few days. I love it with fresh sliced banana!

    Reply
  5. Evita

    Hope you are having an amazing time from beginning to end. I had no idea you actually grew up in the States and then decided to move to England – that is very neat!

    I am not sure which one is better though. In some ways they are so different and in some ways they are so the same, especially food wise I would imagine?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>