Oyster Podcast: Travel

Back in the fall, I attended a local speed networking event for Entrepreneurs. While there, I met Nate, founder of Oyster World Radio & Travel Education. Oyster world Radio is an awesome podcast that interviews travelers about their experiences – whether it be an amazing adventure or someone who quit their job to travel, Oyster has found a fun way to teach culture around the globe.

oyster world

While chatting, Nate asked me to be on his show to talk about my solo travels around the world. We recorded a podcast over the phone last year, and it finally launched this week! It turned out amazing – I talked about my trips, fears, and how traveling has changed me.

If you are at all on the fence about traveling, just getting into it, or already an avid traveler, this podcast is perfect to put on while driving to work or hanging out around the house (I listen to it while getting ready in the morning or driving to work!). It gives you a look into the minds & decision-making of people who travel – it’s really, really awesome… You will want to drop everything and plan a trip now!

You can find it on iTunes or Stitcher! If you listen, let me know what you think!

Weekend Update: Blowout Bar & Wedding Season

This past weekend was such a blast! My cousin is getting married in a few weeks, and we celebrated her bachelorette party by getting our hair done, eating cake, and dancing!

To start off, we went to The Blowout Bar – a salon that solely does hair styling! I personally would have never gone there – I mean, I can curl my hair at home, why pay someone $40 to do it?? However, I am SO glad we went.. I will definitely be going back – that’s how much I was in love with my hair!

NinaElise

There is absolutely no way I could have done my hair like this at home! I am not sure what product they put in my hair, but it is AMAZING. Apparently, your hair will look like this for a few days without washing. A girls dream come true haha

Nina Elise blowout bar hair

The back was just as amazing… If only my hair could look like this everyday!

There were 7 of us total – we all got curls, but all of our hair styles looked different from each other – in a good way! Everyone looked absolutely stunning!

The blow out bar grand view

After, we went back to get ready, open gifts, and eat cake… It was so great hanging out with these girls – we have all known each other since birth! And my cousin was beyond the moon excited and so happy – I cannot wait for her wedding day!

Nina Elise

We all wore black, and my cousin wore a white dress… I couldn’t find a picture of all of us together before we headed out, so here is a picture of me with my makeup done… not something that happens often!

We all headed out to Hofbrauhaus for dinner – their food is so good! Not as good as the real hofbrauhaus in Munich, but pretty close 🙂 Below is a picture of me and the bride-to-be – cousins and friends since the day we were born (only a month apart!).

Nina Bach party

Afterwards, we went dancing for a little bit before heading home. I was asleep by 12:30!!! Not that I’m complaining – I got up at 6:30 to teach 2 back-to-back hot yoga classes in the morning. Saturday nights are normally a stay-in-and-go-to-sleep-at-9-pm type of night 🙂

I ended up laying around and watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch on Amazon Prime all day Sunday – and I’m already on episode 16! Since I was ridiculously unproductive on Sunday, I woke up early and went for a 30 minute run on the treadmill +did a quick circuit workout at the gym – check out the full-body circuit on youtube here!

Nina Elise Youtube image- 15 Minute Full-Body Circuit

After work, I went shopping to find a cute pair of tan booties… and no such luck. I ended up going online & buying a pair of Toms Leila Booties on Amazon – a little cheaper than buying from the Toms site or Nordstroms. Have I ever mentioned that I love amazon?? I order something from there every week!

toms leila bootie

After shopping, I set up my Go Pro and recorded a 30  minute YouTube video – a yoga flow specifically for weak, tight hips. It’s one of my tougher video’s, but it’s actually perfect for beginners to advanced! A lot of balancing and a little cardio will burn a lot of calories in this flow. I was sweating and ready for a nap afterwards!

30 Minute Hip-Strengthening Yoga Flow_Insta

I’ve been so busy with training for my half marathon & I haven’t had the time or energy to create a new YouTube video in a while. I am going to try to put a new one up every week… so if you have any suggestions or want me to post something for you, let me know! You can watch my 30 minute hip-strengthening yoga flow here – don’t forget to subscribe!

So what was everyone up to this weekend? Have you ever been to a blowout bar? What is your craziest bachelor/bachelorette party story?

Stitch Fix Review

Let’s talk fashion. Or in my case, my lack of knowledge of it. I have never really been that confident when shopping/dressing myself – it can be extremely intimidating & overwhelming. Also – I like to be as comfortable as possible at all times. I kid you not – not being able to wear leggings/jeans to work is a deal breaker for me when job searching. I’ve worked at companies that required dress clothes, and I couldn’t wait to tear off my clothes at the end of the day. Just give me a pair of leggings and a baggy sweater and I will be happy as a clam!

giphy

My Life in a Nutshell

Anyways – I actually do like to dress up, but pairing items together is not one of my strengths. Insert: Stitch Fix. Stitch Fix is an online company that curates outfits for you based on personal preference and your own style. (Please note – I am not getting paid or receiving any type of discount to write this post. A ton of my friends have been getting their stitch fix boxes, so I decided to give it a try! This post is 100% my opinion :)) When you sign up, you get your own stylist who works with you to basically help you put together outfits. Your stylist then sends you 5 things – shoes, clothing, jewelry, or handbags every  month (or, depending on how often you choose to have your box sent – every few weeks, every month, every few months,  or a few times a year) So how does it work?

  1. Sign up for Stitch Fix
  2. Set up your style profile, including any specific notes to your stylist. This includes size, style preferences, colors, cost of items (I chose cheapest for all of my items), etc. You can also include a link to a pinterest board with pins of your favorite things! (Follow me on Pinterest here :))
  3. Set frequency of box – every few weeks up to a few times a year
  4. Impatiently wait for your box to arrive in the mail

Once you receive your box, you have the option of keeping nothing or everything – if you end up not liking any of your items, you can return them and will be charged $20. If you decide to keep at least 1 item, the $20 fee is waived. If you decide to buy all 5 items – you get an extra 25% off your entire box!

So imagine my excitement when I finally get my first Stitch Fix box – how cute is this packaged??

Stitch fix 1

Included in the box was a letter from my stylist, as well as a card with different ways to wear each piece of item (where has this been all my life?!):

Stitch fix outfits

Unfortunately, my stylist did not get the memo on what my style is. Ok, I liked 2 items, but the rest? Total miss.

Item 1: Orange Blazer
Cost: $88

Stitch fix blazer

Verdict: I actually have this exact blazer in my closet. Also – $88?? The one I bought was $30 from target, and it is much better quality. Pass!

Item 2: Black knit top
Cost: $54

Stitch fix top

Verdict: No. Just no. Not my style at all – 3/4 sleeve black top with a see-through back – it didn’t look good on, and obviously wrinkles very easily. Pass!

Item 3: Jeans
Cost: $98

Stitch fix jeans

Verdict: I actually really liked these jeans – super comfy, stretchy, perfect color… unfortunately, they were a size too big, and a bit too loose at the ankles. If these had fit a little better, I probably would have kept them. Pass!

Item 4: Dress
Cost: $68

Stitch fix dress

Verdict: NO. This is not something I would EVER wear. The dress was super comfortable – but the print? Definitely not my style. Pass!

Item 5: Shoes
Cost: $60

Stitch fix shoes

Verdict: No. These shoes pinched my toes from the second I put them on – super stiff, and not comfortable. Also – not a fan of the print. A little too business-y for me. Pass!

Order Total if I bought everything: $256
That is a bit too expensive for me, so I went back and changed my price-point preference. My cousin chose the cheapest prices, and her order total was only $156.

Another thing to note – a lot of my items cam pretty wrinkled, which is 1) annoying that they show up looking like someone already wore them, and 2) If the items wrinkle this easily, they are definitely not something I would want to steam & wear all the time.

While my first box was a dud, I am giving my stylist another chance to get to know my style a little more. I did like a few of the items, so I’m hoping my next box will fit a little better & match my style.

Has anyone else tried stitch fix? If so, what do you think?

If you want to give Stitch Fix a try, check it out here and let me know what you think!

***UPDATE: I received my second stitch fix box, and I sent everything back. I chose the cheapest option, and my box total ended up being $300 (!). The items sent were also not my style… I just don’t think my stylist understood what I wanted. Either that, or I’m just too picky! For now, I’ll stick to TJ Maxx & styling myself 🙂

1/2 Marathon PR in NYC + Thailand & Ibiza

A few things:

St Jude is awesome
Running through Times Square when it’s shutdown is amazing
I PR’ed my half marathon time by 1.5 minutes
I’m pretty sure I’ll be living in NYC in the next year or 2 because I love it so much
Vacations are never vacations for me
I need to learn to wear sun block & not fall asleep on the beach
I’m going to Thailand AND Ibiza in October

This past week has been an absolute whirlwind – so much, in fact, that I barely took any pictures. The race weekend was jam-packed full of running, meeting up with friends, celebrating, and spending time with family. By the time my (delayed) flight got in after midnight on Wednesday, the last thing I wanted to do was work a 12-hour day on Thursday… but, like all my travels, no regrets 🙂

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How I felt by the time I got back home

I flew into NYC Friday morning, checked into my hotel, and picked up my packet. I got a good look at the race course – and I’m so glad I did! I had never run in Central Park, but apparently there are a decent amount of hills. I got the rundown on what to expect from others who have run this course before, and it was extremely helpful!

Grey Dog Cafe NYC

Brunch before the Expo: Grey Dog Cafe in Chelsea!

Afterwards, I took a nap before heading out to Sadelle’s – one of my new favorite places for drinks & awesome bread (with truffle honey & Icelandic sea salt – amazing!). I caught up with a friend from my Belize yoga teacher training over dinner and drinks… It never ceases to amaze me the people I stay in touch with from all of my travels!

NYC_Nina Elise

Saturday consisted of sleeping in, then finally meeting the coordinators of the St Jude Charity & the other runners! Everyone was So nice, and I spent about 2 hours chatting with everyone. As a total group, all runners raised ~ $50,000 for St Jude!! That’s 50 Chemo treatments for children with cancer! Just absolutely amazing.

Afterwards, I went on a coffee date with a new friend, then headed over to Jivamukti Yoga to take a class with another friend I met at the Cuchira Yogance workshop I took back in December. She convinced me to go to Thailand in September with her… I mean, why not??

Most trips I take aren’t personal – I always take yoga classes or workshops at other studios everywhere I go in order to learn more as a teacher and grow my own practice. I always take a ton of learnings back, and I think Jivamukti is my favorite yoga class I have taken to date! I am planning my next trip to NYC in the next month or so to check out a few other studios – next time I might not come back 😉

united airlines half marathon 2016

Afterwards, I made it back to my hotel and prepped for the race, laying everything out so I could sleep in a little longer in the morning. Fast forward a very sleepless night (who doesn’t get nervous the night before a race??), I hopped on a train and headed to Central Park. Since there were over 20K runners, it was a bit hectic… meaning, I was sprinting to my corral at 7:30 before they closed it…. I ended up being fine, but looked like a crazy person. My hands were full of water, gu, my gloves, an extra shirt… I think next time I am going to bring a friend to run this race with me!

The race has been my favorite to-date – central park was a bit hilly, but I ended up running a negative split & PR’ing by 1.5 minutes. It wasn’t my goal time, but considering I missed 2 months of training due to tendinitis & no speed work… I’ll take it!

nina elise nike half marathon

The last half of the course is pretty much downhill/flat once you get out of Central Park, and running through Times Square was unreal! It’s the only other time it’s closed off besides New Years, so it’s a treat to run through the streets. I wanted to take pictures/run with my go pro, but also didn’t want to slow myself down any more… hence the lack of pictures.

Nina Elise Run

Once I finished the race, I couldn’t believe how organized NYRR was… I immediately had a blanket & my medal handed to me, and was then directed to go pick up a bag full of post-race hydration & snacks. I was on the train back to my hotel within 20 minutes of crossing the finish line!

united-airlines-half-2016

My body was hurting, so I took a shower and headed to a water spa for the day. I ended up spending the most time in the nap room after sitting in the saunas… much needed! Afterwards, I stopped to grab some food before my massage:

Le Pain

Avocado Toast + Lemon, Ginger & Honey Tea

Yep, I’ll probably move to the city just for the food.

After my massage, I showered & went out with a friend for dinner & drinks. I’ve been wanting to go to Black Tap – I follow their instagram, and the milkshakes look Unreal. The burger was really good, but my stomach was not ready for that milkshake (the amount of gu’s consumed during my race always makes me not want to eat for a week straight). It was sooo sweet & peanut-buttery! But look at it. It looks so.so.good.

Black Tap NYC

Following dinner with more drinks, we ended up not crashing until 2 or 3…or maybe later… drinking celebratory drinks after finishing a half marathon is totally necessary, so no regrets.

4:30 am rolls around, and my airport shuttle was waiting to take me to JFK… family was waiting for me in Florida! 4 hours later, and I’m hanging out with my cousins… ok, I was napping off a hangover, but AFTER I hung out with my cousins!! It was actually too cold & windy to go to the beach, so we stayed in, and my cousin’s fiance cooked us smoked wings on the grill. So.So.Good.

Candy Cigarettes

On the 2nd & 3rd day, we were burnt to a crisp (blisters on my ear :(), but it was so relaxing and nice to not have to worry about work!

Florida Nina Elisa

Pre-Sunburn

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Wednesday night, I boarded my (delayed) flight back to Ohio , arriving home around 12:30 am. Note: The entire right side of my body was completely red & sun burnt – I looked like 2-face from batman. Seriously, not a comfortable flight back.

So what’s next for running? Resting up the next few weeks, then training for another half… I am determined to get under 1:50! Any suggestions on great courses? I will definitely be running this half again next year – and seriously recommend anyone who likes to run to do it! It actually went by really quickly, but it was so well organized, and the actual course basically sets you up to PR/negative split.

Upcoming travels: NYC in a month. San Francisco in June (TBD-my bank account kind of hates me right now). Thailand & Ibiza in September/October.

Yep, Thailand AND Ibiza! Flights are booked to Thailand and from Ibiza… All I need to do is buy my connecting flight from Thailand to Ibiza! So Yoga retreat with a friend, taught by 2 famous yogi’s for 1 week in Thailand, then jetting off to Ibiza the week after with a few of my favorite people! More yoga, relaxing, and dancing. I’ll be gone for almost a month! More to come on this…. 🙂

So what’s everyone else up to? Travel plans? Has anyone ever been to Thailand or Ibiza? Tips on running a sub- 1:50 half marathon? Best half marathons to run?

Weekend Update: Aerial Yoga, Acupuncture, Cryotherapy & More!

It’s been a while since I last posted, and a LOT has happened! After coming back from California, I had a sinus infection that lasted over 2 weeks! Between being sick and taking the last 2 weeks off from running (WHAT?!), I found other ways to fill my time that were less stressful (I can’t NOT be productive, it’s just not in my blood to be ;)).

So to start off – I have peroneal tenonitis. I don’t know how, and the only thing I can think that could have caused this is 1) my shoes, and 2) upping my mileage too quickly. I ran 9 miles the weekend I got back from San Francisco, and the next day I my foot started to bother me while teaching 2 yoga classes in the morning, and a 2-hour handstand workshop in the afternoon. By the end of the day, I couldn’t even put weight on my foot. It literally came out of nowhere! So, with less than 1.5 months before my half marathon, I couldn’t walk, and had no idea why. Cue panic.

DCIM100GOPROG0331299.

Take me back to running in Sunny SF!

So what did I do? Research like crazy, begin LOTS of stretching and rehabilitation, and stopped running immediately. The peroneals are actually these skinny tendons that run up the outside of your calf. The tendons connect to a bone on the outside of your foot, which is exactly where I had my pain. Most people have pain around their ankles, but mine was closer to where the tendon attaches. [Tendonitis generally occurs due to weak/tight calf muscles, running too many miles too soon, running a lot of hills/uneven terrain, or bad tennis shoes.]

Thinking I wasn’t going to be able to run in the NYC Half marathon, I tried several different methods to try to heal up my foot as quickly as possible:

  1. Stop running & stretch the peroneals, using a lacross ball to loosen up the calf/legs (so.painful.)
  2. Do Cryotherapy (Basically standing in a freezer that’s NEGATIVE 170 degrees for 3 minutes). Some of the benefits of cold therapy are increased muscle recovery, increased energy, and reducing inflammation.

ohio cryotherapy (2)

After stripping down to my underwear and putting on 2 pairs of gloves & socks, I got to hang out in a freezer for 3 minutes. Definitely not the most enjoyable experience, but a ton of athletes use it, so I was down to try anything to help my foot!

ohio cryotherapy gahanna

Freezing my buns off

3. Acupuncture: I’ve done this before, but with no results. However, I found someone who does more of dry-needling – a liiiitle more intense, where the needle goes deeper into the muscle to release myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues. Definitely painful. Definitely worth it. After just 2 sessions, I’ve noticed relief in the tightness of my tendon, IT band pain on my left knee gone, AND increased energy (bonus!). I go for my 3rd session tomorrow morning, and I’ll be continuing this a few times a month (or at least until my race is over!). Thanks to Jess who blogged about her acupuncture… so glad I gave it another try!

4. Rolfing: Treatment is described as a “holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organize(s) the whole body in gravity.” (Wiki) I did this about 1 year ago – you can read about it here and here and here – but decided I needed a refresher. My hips have been super tight and out of whack since august, and no amount of stretching or chiropractic adjustments have been able to help. My first appointment consisted of working on the feet & lower legs – breaking up scar tissue & working with the soft tissue. Def not a pleasant experience, but I’m really hoping that these sessions will be able to bring relief for this tendinitis, as well as help my hips/lower back. More to come on this!

5. Sports Doctor – I had x-rays done, just to be sure nothing was broken. My dr gave me a brace & an anti-inflammatory, and said to just continue with cross training. I also didn’t need physical therapy, and I should be fine (my foot was starting to feel better after ~ 1 week). So Good News!!

In my time off, I did cross training like cycling & surreal stride to keep up with leg strength & cardio. I also decided to try Aerial Yoga – this requires a bit of thinking, as you have to figure out what part of your body is in the hanging silks when you are moving around… but it was a lot of fun!

Nina Elise aerial yoga

Upon walking into the room, there are special-cut yoga mats on the ground with silks hanging from the ceiling.

Yoga on high ariel yoga

The best part was Savasana – the instructor gave you a little swing – wrapped up in your silk – and it felt like you were hanging over a lake in the mountains. It was so peaceful!

nina elise yoga on high aeriel yoga

So after all this madness, and after all these different treatments for my tendinitis, I finally began running again – 2 miles this past Saturday, and 3 on Monday. I only had a bit of uncomfortable feeling the first mile or so, but after that, my foot felt fine. So fingers crossed I can finish training & run the half marathon in NYC!

Regardless, the main reason for doing this race is to raise money for St Jude – so I will still be making the trip out there, and plan on hitting my goal of raising $1,500! (You can donate here :)) Also – I’m putting on a Yoga charity event – I’ll be posting more details soon, but you can sign up here! It’s a donation-based yoga class at a brewery.. can’t go wrong with that 😉

What has everyone else been up to? Have you ever tried acupuncture, rolfing, or cryotherapy?

10-Day Trip to Europe: Cost Breakdown

Hello!

I have been asked by quite a few people how much my 10-day trip to Europe cost. I estimated the total to be around $3,000 total, including everything. However, I never really sat down to look at how much I REALLY spent – probably because I was too afraid to see the actual cost, and I know there are things I could have spent more wisely on! With it being my first trip to Europe, alone, I just wanted everything to be easy, so I kind of just handed over my credit card/took out cash whenever I needed something! The actual total ended up being $3,865. I know, I know, not cheap. However, I wasn’t super strict about my spending – almost half was on transportation (flight + train pass), and a LOT of which was spent on chocolate and beer! No regrets. This trip could have definitely been cheaper if I booked earlier than 2-3 months in advance. Anyways, below is the cost breakdown, including information on the credit card I used, and the timeline of booking my trip.

First things first: Credit card. This was definitely a year for spending money, for a couple of reasons:
1) I wanted to travel internationally
2) I wanted to cross a lot off my bucket list
3) I wanted to get my yoga teacher certification

With that being said, I got dinged with international fees when I was in Costa Rica last year & Belize earlier this year, so I needed a card that didn’t charge me fees every time I traveled out of the country. I researched a few cards, and decided to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Card. Since I’m not loyal to a specific airline, and I already bank with Chase, the Sapphire card seemed like the most logical card to get. Below are a few reasons why I chose this card:

  • No foreign transaction fees when traveling internationally
  • While there is a $95/year fee, the first year fee is waived
  • If you spend $4,000 within the first three months of use, you get 50,000 bonus points – which, when booking any traveling through the chase website (super easy and amazing, btw), is $625 towards airfare or hotels. I booked an impromptu trip to Florida, my trip to NYC, AND my upcoming California flights for free with those points!
    • $4,000 may seem like a lot to spend in 3 months, but I put everything on my credit card – bills, groceries, my trip to europe, and every single cost for my yoga teacher training. It’s definitely doable, especially if you add an authorized user to help you spend more money!
  • Add an authorized user within the first 3 months, get another 5,000 points (I didn’t use this because, well, I am single and have no one else to use my credit card ;)). However, you could add a parent or a friend to help you earn points!
  • 20% off travel when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards
    • You book by logging into your chase account, then go into chase ultimate rewards and book there. The last 3 flights I booked through chase with my points was 20% less than if I had booked through an airline or travel site!
    • As a side note – I had issues booking my last-minute flight to Florida back in October, so I called chase to book over the phone – they spent an hour on the phone with me, looking for the cheapest flight that fit my very limited schedule – seriously, the best customer service ever!
  • If you are partial to a specific airline, you can even transfer your points to your frequent flyer travel programs! Ex: Transfer 1,000 points from your chase card to your southwest frequent flyer miles.(Participating programs: British Airways Executive Club, Korean Air SKYPASS, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, United MileagePlus®, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Hyatt Gold Passport®, IHG® Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards® and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®.)

This was the card that I used, so I am pretty partial to it. It all depends on what you are looking for in a credit card, what your travel frequency, etc is. So, I recommend looking at all your options and picking what works best for you. Nerd Wallet has a tool that you can use to find the most logical travel card for you based on monthly spend, credit score, fees, etc. Check out their comparison tool here.

Now – on to the more detailed part of the trip
Below is a breakdown by transportation, food, activities, accommodations, items bought for traveling, etc. I am going based off of credit card/debit card activity, as well as extra traveling items I purchased for the trip.

I also created a google doc  beginning in June (I left the second week of September)to add misc information for my trip and to plan – I normally do this for any trip to a place I haven’t been before! It might seem a bit scatter-brained, but it was a great way to keep all of my information in one spot. I basically start out with a blank spreadsheet and add stuff as I go along – I think i edited this until the day I left! It took me a few weeks to actually create a solid schedule, and I estimated all of the costs, but that’s the fun of planning ;).You can check out what it looks like here!

Booking Flights:
I booked my flight less than 3 months before I left – so, my flights were definitely not the cheapest. I recommend booking sooner, if possible. I used google flights to find the cheapest flights based on my timeframe & where I wanted to fly into, then went through my Chase credit card rewards account to book the actual flights (it’s cheaper when booking with points!). Super easy, and all of my information is in one place.

airlines

Cost Breakdown:

europe trip costs

Transportation: $1,556
Activities: $465

Hostels: $618
Food: $111.07 (on credit card)
Misc (Food, Souveniers, etc): $862.38
Pre-Trip Purchases: $215.57
Total Cost of Trip: $3,865.80

You can find the actual spreadsheet here.

So that’s it! This is what goes on in my brain when traveling and planning my trips! Also, planning versus what actually happens is very different (in a good way!), so always be prepared for the unexpected 🙂

oktoberfest3

I hope this helps anyone planning a trip to Europe, Oktoberfest, or pretty much anywhere! There are a lot of traveler sites out there with much more information, ways to travel cheap, etc. I recommend taking a look at as many blogs as you can, and taking what you want from them. It’s your trip, so plan the way you want and do what you are comfortable doing! If you have any questions, shoot me an email or leave a comment below!

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