What is the difference between vegetarian, vegan, and plant-based?!

*Note: I am not a doctor or medical professional. I am studying nutrition and on the path to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Please, contact a healthcare professional with any questions or concerns before adapting a new way of eating.

It is 2019 and I would be shocked if you told me that you do not know at least one person in your life that is vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based. Same with gluten-free. Or soy-free. Or oil-free. But, I digress. The focus today will be on plant-based eating. You probably hear about this way of eating all the time or may even eat plant-based yourself on the daily or by participating in #meatlessmonday. But, do you truly know the difference?! It’s okay if you do not! I’m here to save the day 😉

As a future Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), food is my favorite topic! I love researching about food, talking about food, cooking food, and obviously eating food 😛 But as your favorite future RDN, runner, and black bean lover (I’m making a lot of assumptions here, okay? :P) I am here to set the record straight about the differences between the types of plant-based eating patterns, and to provide you a few resources along the way. So, let’s get to it! I promise it’s not that long, but full of helpful information and a link to some resources! 😉

Me eating a vegan cookie dough bite and living my best life 😛

The key difference between vegetarian, vegan, and plant based

First of all, let’s be clear. Vegetarianism, veganism, and plant-based diets have a lot of similarities, but they are not the same. Two of them are diets and one of them is a lifestyle. More on this later.

According to the Harris Poll conducted by Vegetarian Nutrition resource group in 2016, 37% percent of the population always or sometimes eats vegetarian meals when eating out (1). Note that approximately 3% percent of the population is vegetarian (including vegans) all the time, regardless of whether they dine at home or out (1). A slightly higher proportion of people (5%) always eat vegetarian or vegan meals when eating out (1). Three years later, in 2019, I imagine the numbers of vegetarians are even higher, and we see this reflected in huge increased in plant-based options at restaurants. There has also been an increase in exclusively plant-based restaurants. This makes sense because nearly 25% of millennials (yes, I am one :P) consume a vegetarian or vegan diet (2). With the increasing popularity of plant-based, especially with my generation, you may find yourself wondering about the differences between the 3 eating patterns.

Whether it is something you are interested in yourself, you are about to host a dinner party with a vegan guest, or you are unsure how to explain yourself to your family, this is the post for you!

So, grab a bite to eat and let’s discuss the key differences! 🙂

Vegetarian

A vegetarian diet refers to an eating pattern that forgoes all forms of flesh foods (3). This includes seafood, shellfish, poultry, beef, etc. A vegetarian consumes a diet containing fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy products, but no flesh foods (3). Depending on the type of vegetarian, they may consume dairy or eggs, though (3). A vegetarian who still consumes honey, dairy products, and eggs, but no flesh foods is called a lacto-ovo vegetarian (3). A vegetarian that consumes dairy, but not eggs is referred to as a lacto-vegetarian and a vegetarian that consumes eggs, but not dairy is called an ovo-vegetarian (3). There are a multitude of reasons someone might adapt a vegetarian diet, but the most common reasons include: health, environmental concerns, ethical concerns, and enjoyment of vegetarian foods (3,4). Some other less common, but still fun reasons to go vegetarian: you’ll be more regular (runners love talking about poop 💩), your dinners will be pretty and colorful 🌈 (millennials love putting food pictures on Instagram :P), and you may live longer 👵🏻 (4).

Veganism

Veganism, is not a diet at all, but rather a lifestyle. What does this mean? Someone who practices veganism will not consume any flesh foods, honey, eggs, or dairy. Vegans have been dubbed “strict vegetarians” by some groups. Yet, veganism extends beyond diets. True veganism is an ethical practice that seeks to reduce harm and suffering of animals in the world. A vegan likely will not wear clothes with any animals products (i.e. wool or leather), will not go to zoos, use products tested on animals, and any other activities or practices that might bring harm or suffering to animals.

Please, respectfully discuss with me in the comments or via e-mail if you agree/disagree with the following… but some people may identify as vegan, but occasionally wear animal based products because they already owned them before going vegan (but then will not buy any more animal based products moving forward), use make-up that was tested on animals, or they might allow their child to go to a zoo for a school field trip. The end goal of the vegan lifestyle is to reduce animal harm and suffering, but to also make this lifestyle accessible to as many people as possible! A 95% vegan lifestyle is better than a 0% one! Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Taylor Wolfram of Whole Green Wellness describes this beautifully and in more detail in her post entitled: Veganism is not a diet. I highly recommend checking it out!

Plant-based

Finally, plant-based is a more general term that refers to a few different eating patterns. The most common type of person who calls themselves plant-based is someone who eats a mostly vegetarian or vegan diet, but occasionally has meat or dairy products. A pescatarian falls under this category because they consume a vegetarian diet, but they also eat fish, dairy, honey, and eggs, but no other flesh foods. A second category might be a person who is a true vegetarian or vegan, but they call themselves “plant-based” because it is a more general term and they like the flexibility of this classification.

As of today, I personally call myself plant-based, because I am 98% vegan, but I very occasionally consume food that contains honey (but otherwise no animal products) and some of my clothes and cosmetics are made from animal by-products or tested on animals. I am slowly working to live a more cruelty-free lifestyle, but with my current budget as a student, I’m not about to throw away clothes or shoes I already own, but I try to only buy vegan products when I’m on the search for something new. *If you have any thoughts about this please comment or e-mail me, but be respectful.

A third category of plant-based are people that eat a whole foods, plant-based diet (WFPB). This diet is technically a vegan diet in the sense that it avoids all flesh-foods and animal by-products, but they may not have the ethical ties that a true vegan has (5). Furthermore, a person adhering to a WFPB typically avoids processed foods and choses minimally prepared foods, as close to the Earth as possible, such as i.e. salads (5). This diet was made popular from the documentary Forks over Knives and the book The China Study.

Do you eat plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan? I’d love to know if you do and why you do! Drop me a comment below. Be on the lookout for more information about plant-based, vegetarian, and vegan resources for endurance athletes, specifically, later this summer!

Additionally, comment below or e-mail me if there’s a topic you’d love for me to cover here. My goal is to help and inspire all of you! 🙂

BONUS! Check out the new blog tab, entitled RESOURCES for some of my favorite resources for plant-based recipes, books, cookbooks, and documentaries! 🙂

References

  1. How Many Adults in the U.S. are Vegetarian and Vegan?
  2. Everything Is Ready To Make 2019 The “Year Of The Vegan”. Are You?
  3. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets.
  4. Why Go Veg?
  5. Plant-Based Primer: The Beginner’s Guide to a Plant-Based Diet
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2018 in review

Hello friends! Long time, no post and Happy New Year’s Eve! How is it only one day away from 2019?! 😱

Life got a little crazy since my last post in October: I ran my 1st marathon in a BQ, got injured during said marathon, finished my 1st semester of nutrition classes, and focused on injury recovery! All those recent events reminded me that it’s been a crazy fun, tear-inducing, challenging, awesome, amazing, and unpredictable year. 😜

So why not recap/reflect on the highlights from each month of 2018, so I can start 2019 on a high-note? Without further ado, here are my top moments for each month of 2018, running and otherwise:

January:  The top moment of January was running the F^3 Lake 5k and meeting a few of my new BibRave teammates. It was my favorite moment because I spent a lot of the fall injured, so it was exciting to be able to lace up and race a 5k, even though I only had a few weeks of training under my belt and no workouts. I treated the race as a tempo, somehow won, and had an overall great time. My husband ran the half marathon and earned a personal best time of 1:15! We were fortunate to have weather in the high 30s and the post race party was fun. If you want to read more about this race check out my recap 🙂 I am recovering from injury (again) now, so I likely won’t run the race in 2019, but I highly recommend the 5k or half marathon on 1/26/19!IMG_5111

February: The top moment of February was a tie between the unexpected snow day (and day off work) on Friday February 9, 2018 and being chosen by BibRave to test out the Aftershokz wireless headphones. And yes, I’m sure you’re wondering how one single day could be my top moment of 2018…but if you are a regular follower/reader here you may remember that I used to be a high school chemistry teacher. In January- March 2018 I was working as a temporary chemistry teacher for a teacher on maternity leave. The teacher had been on leave since September, and the school had trouble finding a teacher to take the maternity leave, so the students had been without a permanent teacher until I took the position in January. Without divulging every detail, it was tough situation that really tested me, especially when I was already fairly certain (not yet publicly at this point) that I did not want to teach, but rather go back to school to become a Registered Dietitian, but more on that later 😉

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Anyway, after a particularly tough Thursday with some unruly students and a mountain of grading, we got an unexpected snow day on Friday, February 9th. For those of you who aren’t in Chicago, it is incredibly rare for the Chicago Public Schools to declare a snow day. It happens maybe once every 5 years. 😛 It was much needed! I was able to fit in a snowy run with my new trail shoes, my new Aftershokz, and in the daylight hours on a week day. Friday, Feb. 9th was AWESOME! It’s still funny to me in December 2018 that a simple snow day was my top moment of February 2018.

March:  Hands down the best moment of March 2018 was winning an Instagram contest for of three months of coaching with Heather McKirdy of McKirdy Trained. She had been a runner and coach I looked up too since I made an instagram page for this blog. 🙂 She’s positive, hard-working, a dreamer, speedy, and extremely knowledgable about running. In my short three months with her as my coach, I grew so much as a runner! I set a half PR, integrated more workouts and recovery, and took my running more seriously for the first time since running for my college in 2010-2013. I also watched many of my other Instagram friends become her athletes around when I did and make awesome running gains (I’m especially looking at you Teagan, Meghan, Laura, and Nicole :P). I was very sad after my three months ended because I decided to exit the work world and go back to school to study nutrition, so unfortunately I could not and still cannot afford a coach and I loved working with Heather 🙁 It would have definitely been helpful to have one when I trained for the Chicago Marathon because my training was kind of a mess 😂 ANYWAY, if you are looking for a coach and it’s in your budget I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend Heather or any of the other McKirdy Trained coaches. 🙂 A majority of their athletes BQed or set PRs at their races this year and those are results you cannot ignore! 😱

Honorable mention/a close second was finishing off that maternity leave teaching position and figuring out my now public next steps. More on that below 😉

April: Okay, okay! I can’t pick just one moment because this month was freakin’ awesome. Hands down the BEST moment was deciding to change my path and go back to school to study to become a Registered Dietitian. I also ran a personal best in my second ever half marathon (1:34), while sick, under the guidance of my new coach Heather. My husband ran the full marathon that same day in a stunning 2:42, cutting 26 minutes off his previous best time and securing a ticket to Boston 2019. You can read much more about my experience at the Illinois Half Marathon here.

Last, but not least I was able to meet and become real-life friends with two of my Instagram friends: Katie of 2fabfitchicks and Danielle of Feed Me Happy. Danielle and I are also now real-life classmates and future RDs, so that’s pretty awesome. 🙂

Meeting and running with Scott Jurek during his North book release tour also deserves an honorable mention! April was truly an amazing month!

May: May’s top moments are a tie between being interviewed for my first ever magazine article in Voyage Chicago and my birthday BibRave run meet-up at Millennium Park. It was nearly 95 degrees, but I still had a blast running with Steph, Ben, and Frank on my 26th birthday! 🙂 Joining such an awesome team of supportive and fun runners/ambassadors may have been my greatest decision all year, besides deciding to go back to school 😛

June: It was a hot day and not my best race time, but I still pick my first ever 10k at the Run for the Zoo as my top moment of June 2018. I even managed third female overall somehow 😛 It was a fun race to rep BibRave and somewhat kick off my Chicago Marathon training!

July: My husband got a new teaching job and we moved to a new apartment. I absolustely love my new loft apartment and it’s proximity to awesome places to run along the Chicago LakeShore path.  I  was honestly hoping that the Rock ‘N Roll Chicago half marathon would be my top July moment,  but I just did not have a good race and you can read more about it on my Instagram 🙁 I’m still glad I ran it even if my time of 1:36 was very far off of the 1:30 I was hoping for at that point. 

August: A hot month full of marathon training and long run PRs (mileage wise) every single week. I even made it through my through my longest run ever (20 miles) and nailed my fueling strategy with Spring Energy (ElectroRide in my hand held and Canaberry gels ).

Running the Nike unsanctioned 6k race deserves an honorable mention, as well. It was a fun race and a great way to fit in a mid-week workout.

September: Oh man September was a tough month! I was struggling to balance my classes, work, my extremely long commute to/from school, and training for the marathon. I had a few 0-10 mile weeks and I even contemplated not running the Chicago Marathon. Thankfully, after turning around my training a bit, some reflection on how far I had come (despite a less than ideal training situation). and the kind words of so many of you I decided to still run. That is definitely my top moment of September 2018. It was not an easy decision!

October: Completing my first marathon in a BQ, enough said! 😛  Although, having to stop multiple times to stretch due to hip and IT band pain and then becoming so injured I just started running again a little over a week ago also serves as a bit of a low point. :/ You can read more about my race on Instagram.

I am extremely grateful that Dale of Marathoner Dale ran part of the marathon with me. She had a fantastic race (earning a 3:22 PR) and helped me at my lowest, most painful points. I am also grateful that Jess (the cofounder of BibRave) and I were able to run together for some of the race! 🙂 I am positive with better training (and honestly a coach ), I would have a had a much better and injury free race, but hey- a 3:28:01 is not bad for my first one!

I am proud, but am also dreaming bigger (and training MUCH smarter) for my next marathon! 😛 I had a blast meeting a lot more of my BibRave teammates at the Chicago Marathon summit and the race and would not change the race or this weekend for anything, though. I can only hope to perform at what I am actually capable of next time I run a marathon 😉

November: No running at all for me in November, as I focused on cross training, resting, and gaining hip/glute strength. BUT the best moment was watching my husband cut two more minutes off his personal best marathon time at Indy Monumental in a blazing fast 2:40! 🔥 I am also grateful for Ashlyn, who is the kindest human and an amazing friend, who put together a strength training plan and will make a running plan once I am able to run more. I am not sure what I did to deserve her help, but I am grateful because this injury has been a struggle and an uncertain time for me. :/

December: After not being able to run post-Chicago marathon, hands down the top moment of this month was the pain-free mile (even if it was on the dreadmill) I ran three days ago! I am cautiously optimistic about my return to running as enter 2019! I am not sure anything I will do in the remaining hours of 2018 can top that, unless I am able to run 10 miles 😉 But don’t worry, I’m won’t try such a foolish thing!

Finishing my first semester nutrition school finals and earning good grades also earn an honorable mention, but clearly being able to run again is more exciting to me 😛 I also got accepted to be a BibRave Pro for another year, so I am grateful that they want to keep me! 🙂

So now, I want to hear from all of YOU! What were your top moments of 2018, running or otherwise?! 👇🏻

Illinois half marathon training week 10

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Illinois Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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Good evening friends! I can’t believe we are 11 days away from race day! 😱

I am definitely getting nervous because it’s my 1st big post-college race, but I also feel prepared. This training cycle started out rocky with my crazy schedule during my temporary teaching job, but getting a coach a month ago has been a game changer. Plus, my teaching job is over now, and although I am working two part time jobs, I have been able to train more consistently than when teaching. And I’m just generally happier and more motivated about training because now I am on a path to pursuing my passions. 😍

I sometimes have to be creative about when to fit in my runs, though, because some weeks I work mornings/days and other weeks I have to work evenings/nights. Regardless, the change in jobs has allowed me to run more often with others, go to fun events, and meet new people as you will see in this week’s training recap. I even hit my highest weekly mileage since college over the last two weeks. 30 miles per week may not seem like much, and I was running more in college, but I’m just so happy to be running injury free again! 🙂 So without further ado let’s get to the recap!

Week 10: Monday April 9th -Sunday April 15th

Monday April 9th: My friend Ben has a somewhat a flexible work schedule and I was off work, so he came to Chicago to run 5.1 miles (7:47 pace) with me. Afterwards, I took him to one of my favorite coffee shops. He’s silly and got a cold drink even though it was chilly and it had snowed earlier in the day! I got an oat milk chai and I would 10/10 recommend. It was fun to spend the afternoon running and talking to another fellow running nerd. I’m grateful for all the awesome people I have met through Bibrave!

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-Tuesday April 10th:  I ran 4.5 miles with some 6x 30 second strides at 6:16 pace mixed in. Then, I went to one of my favorite Thai places to finally meet up with Danielle in real life. We had been following each other on social media/our blogs for a while and talking nearly every day prior to dinner about all things running, health, and nutrition, so I was not scared at all to meet up! The two and half hours really flew by at dinner and I cannot wait for more adventures with another fellow future RD!

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-Wednesday April 11th: I helped lead an easy 3.1 mile evening fun run with Scott Jurek and then attended a question/answer session and book signing. It was amazing and honestly I’m still star struck that I met one of my favorite runners in real life! I cannot wait to read North, his newest book! It was worth the long line to get it signed and have him write personal note to my husband, who was coaching track and unable to attend the event.

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-Thursday April 12th: A while ago Katie messaged me saying she’d be in Chicago for a business trip and asked if I’d want to run this week. Katie is another runner that I connected with through Instagram. We decided to run together on Thursday. We ran 5 miles at an easy pace (7:53/ mile) along the Lakefront Path. The weather was amazing and actually spring-like, unlike Monday when it snowed. The miles flew by far two quickly and we bonded over being former division 1 runners and our love of training/racing even in our busy adult lives. I hope we can run again soon! I love how social media and this blog has connected me to so many amazing people.

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-Friday April 13th: REST DAY. Spent some time doing yoga and foam rolling because it was much needed.

-Saturday April 14th: 12 miles at 7:53 pace. This was supposed to be a hard workout within my long run, but the freezing, windy, rainy weather made that tough. I did the best I could, but only completed 4 of the 6 tempo miles. It’s tough when you are supposed to run 3 miles at 7:00-7:15 pace, 2 miles at 6:49 pace and 1 mile at 6:49 pace or faster and you know you can hit all those paces, but running into the crazy headwind you get a 7:09 as your fastest… My husband was helping me pace the workout (all my paces are easy for him because he is super speedy) and together we decided the time on my feet was much more important than hitting the paces. We decided to just finish the run as a regular long run rather than tempo more into the crazy wind. I was super frustrated on Saturday, but now reflecting back on the day I am proud I got my long run done! It would have been easy to turn around, head home, and throw in the towel.

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-Sunday April 15th: REST DAY.

WEEKLY TOTAL:  29.7 miles

Tonight’s question: Are you racing this month? If not, want to last minute join me at the Illinois half marathon? They also have a 5k, 10k, full marathon, and marathon relay! So there’s a race for everyone!🤗 Use the code “2018bibravebonus” code for $10.00 off your entry if you want to join me!😉

Your path is not linear

Your path is not linear and it is NOT meant to be!

I’m not sure about all of you, but I wholeheartedly believe everything happens for a reason. And sometimes that reason happens right away and other times it could be a very long time before it makes sense. No one knows what is best for you, BUT YOU! Not everyone will approve of your choices or your path, but you are not here to please them, you are here to be TRUE TO YOURSELF. 🙂

So, where am I going with this?! Well, I have a story to tell about my own path and it is certainly not linear!

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My senior year of college (nearly 4 years ago 😱) and most of college for that matter, I remember feeling really anxious about what I wanted to do as my career. I knew that whatever I was going to do I wanted to use science to help people. As a freshmen in college, I chose biology as my major and thought it would help me reach my a goal of becoming a neurologist. I had that goal since I was 12 when my grandmother died of brain cancer. I quickly learned that medical school was not for me. I would not have taken kindly to the high pressure situation of brain surgery or any surgery for that matter. My love of science persisted, though. I played around with other ideas including a physician assistant, physical therapist, and science teacher.

Then, junior year of college I moved off campus to a house with a kitchen and that changed everything for me. I was now responsible for ensuring that I had nutritious meals and snacks to fuel my workouts as a college runner. Some students become really  unmotivated to cook once they move off campus and live off take-out and ramen, but not me!  I have been passionate about eating healthy as long as I can remember. I used to annoy my dad in high school with my requests at the grocery store for things like natural peanut butter, wheat germ, Clif Bars, and giant canisters of oatmeal. I loved eating healthy food and found out I loved making it even more in college! I really enjoyed cooking new dishes in my off campus kitchen and making healthy snacks for after cross country practice as a welcome study break.

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(My junior year snack staples: no bake peanut butter energy bites and peanut butter granola)

Then, my senior year of college we moved to an apartment closer to campus and I decided to go vegetarian. I can share my full vegetarian story at a later date if there is interest. I welcomed the new cooking challenge and had a lot of fun making food and snacks. I made smoothies and homemade energy/protein bites almost every day. I even tried tofu for the first time my senior year. I loved it! It was also nice because one of my good friends/teammates, who is also vegetarian, lived next door to me. Some nights we cooked dinner together after practice. My favorite dishes we made together were black bean burgers and black bean tofu tacos (which should not surprise any of you :P)!

 

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(Homemade black bean burgers with my teammate)

I even got my now-husband hooked on black bean burgers then before he went vegetarian! 🙂 Despite my crazy busy schedule, I spent my spare moments cooking or reading about health, fitness, and nutrition. I was becoming really passionate about vegetarianism and nutrition! But I was also becoming really stressed out because it was my senior year and I was still not sure what I was going to do with my life.

My now-husband and I talked about both of us pursuing Master of Education degrees to become science teachers. I really liked that idea at the time. So, in late fall we went to take the subject area exam (biology for me and chemistry for him) to gain admission to a program. I really thought I had it all figured out! But over winter break I could not shake the thoughts of “are you sure you want to teach?” and “wouldn’t it be awesome to work with food/nutrition/health instead?” And on Christmas day my senior year I remember searching for ideas of how to make a job out of nutrition and wellness. I had an epiphany! I could become a registered dietitian!  And to share my love of black beans with all 😉

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(Black beans, corn, brown, rice, and salsa. A staple meal to this day. :P)

But then panic ensued…So many of the programs I looked into were past the deadline or within a few weeks of the deadline. If I wanted a Master’s degree in nutrition I needed the GRE and it takes weeks to report the GRE score to schools. So if I wanted to pursue nutrition that year, I had to pick a second bachelor’s degree program instead of a master’s program. Plus, some programs included the internships and some did not. It was an overwhelming amount of information.😱

I also learned I was two pre-requisites shy for all programs and scrambled to figure out ways to take the classes, which were not offered at my college. I somehow finished the application, got letters of recommendation, and figured out how to take the pre-reqs before the fall in time for the deadline. In April of my senior year, I found out I got into a program! We also found out my now-husband got into a Master of Education program. We graduated college and moved in July 2014. Fun fact: I actually made this blog in June right before we moved. Life was good! 🙂

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(Undergraduate graduation in spring 2014 with my now-husband)

I finished up my last pre-requisite class and then began the nutrition program in late summer. My now-husband started his classes too. Things were going well for the most part. But, then the doubt started creeping in…”why didn’t you stick with teaching?”, “it’s dumb to get a second bachelor’s degree”, “you should have taken a gap year after undergrad to figure out a better plan”, etc. I went from feeling sure and confident to doubting everything I was doing. I told my now husband how I was feeling and he said that maybe I should teach instead. He reminded me that I’m a decent public speaker, passionate about science, and he thought I’d be good at it. Plus, I already had all the pre-requisite classes taken care of because it’s what I was going to do originally. I agreed with him and applied. I got in the same program as him.

I finished out a semester of nutrition courses and then began my teaching journey in January 2015. I still kept this blog as a place to write about food and running, but stopping posting as frequently. By July 2015 I stopped posting here altogether. I tried to put my heart and soul into teaching, but I continued to read about nutrition in my spare time. I missed the nutrition program I switched out of, but kept it to myself. I even read The China Study during my commute to and from teaching observations. I did a good job in graduate school and student teaching. I won an award for most promising science educator. I liked teaching enough! I just knew all along I liked nutrition more. My now-husband and I graduated in June 2016 and we both tried to find teaching jobs.

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(Master’s graduation in June 2016)

My now husband got a teaching job right away! I did not land one, so I started subbing. Subbing was not a steady enough paycheck, so I was lucky when my old boss (from my job in graduate school) asked me back to work.  In that time frame, I also got engaged. Things were crazy with working full time at the firm and wedding planning, but I still could not shake that feeling of doubt. Doubt about why I went into teaching, especially because I struggled to get a job, and doubt about where I was headed. I knew that I still had a passion for nutrition.

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(Our wedding in July 2017)

A few months after my wedding, I secretly started researching how I could go back to school for registered dietitian programs, but I did not know if it was feasible. Around that time I also started this blog back up again. I was feeling stuck in so many ways in my life. 🙁 I figured the ship for becoming a dietitian had sailed, but I also was not sure I wanted to teach or stick at the firm. Soon enough, I got a new science related job in late 2017. Then, an opportunity to temporarily teach for just under four months presented itself to me. After asking many different people for advice, I took the temporary  teaching job, even though I had just started a new job two months prior. I told myself I needed to give teaching a shot because it is what I studied. I secretly decided that if it’s not for me then I would find a way to make my passions a career. Because at the end of the day you are the best version of yourself if you work a job that you are passionate about. You do your best work this way too! 🙂

Overall, it was a tough temporary teaching job, but I think I did a decent job! Less than a month into the teaching job, I started working on applications to registered dietitian programs that include the internship component, but did not finish them. Around two months in, I talked to my mom and my husband about wanting to go back to my original path and they were both wildly supportive. I decided to finish the applications and play the waiting game. I wanted to go to a school that would not completely uproot my husband’s life if possible.

THE GOOD NEWS: I recently found out I got into a nutrition program! I’m so excited for my new journey and I cannot wait to become an RD! 🙂

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I learned so much about myself and my long term goals during this journey.  I am almost 26 years old, so I can say I took me a long time to figure it out. I did not do everything in a logical manner. If I could do everything over again I would have taken a gap year after undergrad to research nutrition programs more, complete pre-requisites, and apply to the most logical program. BUT I can’t go back in time, I can only move on. I would not trade these twists and turns in my journey for anything! My path was not linear and it taught me important lessons.

There is relief in the destination, but also so much beauty in the journey. And if you have reached your destination it is time to start a new journey 😉

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So please, join me on my new path to becoming a registered dietitian! There’s bound to be bumps in the road, but ultimately I am excited to become what I’m meant to be! I’m also excited to continue to share my my love of plant based food, running, fitness, recipes, and eventually my nutrition expertise here!

Have you changed careers before or want to? If so, what was your experience? If not, what is holding back?

Top 5 reasons to run the Cinco de Miler on 5/5/18

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Cinco de Miler as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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As is tradition this year, this will be my first time running Cinco de Miler and I’m super pumped! Even though I have lived in Chicago for nearly 4 years, I have not run many races because of injury and running burnout. I’m happy to be back to running healthy!💪🏻 Cinco de Miler is a 5 mile race that starts and finishes at Montrose Harbor at 8:30 am sharp on May 5, 2018. Event though it’s a week after my half marathon and my legs are going to be tired, I’m excited to run Cinco de Miler because it is such a fun race. YOU SHOULD RUN CINCO DE MILER TOO!!!😉 Need more convincing?! Check out the top 5 reasons why you should run Cinco de Miler below. And by the time you reach the bottom I can (almost) guarantee you will want to sign up! There will even be a discount waiting for you at the bottom. So, what are you waiting for?! 😜

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Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Run Cinco de Miler:

1. The race is a unique race distance. How many other 5 mile races do you know of in and around the Chicagoland area? Plus the course is USATF certified, so you know that the 5 mile course is in fact 5 miles and not 4.98. 😜 A unique race distance= a likely PR! And we all want to earn that elusive PR, am I right?! 😉

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2. To cater to the competitive, seasoned runner there is chip timing, elite coral assignments for those that qualify, and cash prizes for those in the elite corral. So, if you want to run with some of Chicago’s best and earn a PR and/or bragging rights, there is a spot for you at Cinco de Miler!

The cash prizes are as follows for the top 3 overall men and women in the Elite Corral:

1st Place = $400
2nd Place = $250
3rd Place = $100

Additionally, if you break the existing event record will receive an additional $100!

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3. Speaking of PRs…even if you don’t earn one, you can still get this super sweet finishing medal just for crossing the finish line! And the medal even doubles as bottle opener so you can easily open post-race beers!  😜🍻

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4. Not a competitive runner? No worries, there is plenty of fun at the post race fiesta! There will be a mechanical bull, human fooseball, mariachi bands, and live Lucha Libre matches, Not to mention there will be plenty of beer breakfast tacos, Horchata, and Mexican sweets!🍻🌮

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5. Last, but not least you will get this sweet technical tee for running, plus other awesome swag in your race goodie bag! You will get the goodie bag and tee at packet pick-up.

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So, what are you waiting for?! Sign up today! 🙂

Have you run Cinco de Miler before?! If so, what’s your favorite part of the race? If not, are you joining me at the race this year?! Sign up by using the code “BRCinco” for some extra swag on race weekend – a pair of super awesome sunglasses!

Plants are cool #1: “Squacos” recipe

Good afternoon! 🙂 As promised many, many months ago, I am finally sharing my butternut squash taco recipe, AKA “squacos”!🌮 I am sharing this as a part of my new recipe series called “plants are cool”. Because duh, plants are amazing! And because we should all be eating a lot more of them! I’m here to show you that cooking with plants can be cheap, easy, versatile, and fun! I know I am biased because I am plant based…but please be open minded, maybe try a few plant recipes this month, and who, knows?! Maybe you too will agree that plants are cool! 😉

Of course, today’s recipe has black beans, because I have not been living up to my namesake!😱 This is a very basic recipe that lends itself to dressing up with different toppings and serving options, because that is half the fun with taco recipes! So, without further ado let’s make some “squacos”! 😋

“Squacos”

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Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients

1 bag of frozen butternut squash or 1 whole butternut squash

Grapeseed or Avocado Oil (for sautéing) 

1 cup rice or grains of your choice (I used 365 by Whole Foods Organic Super Grains, but other options I’ve used include brown rice, jasmine rice, and quinoa)

1 can of black beans drained and rinsed

Cumin (we never measure :P, but I’d put at least a teaspoon or two)

Cinnamon

Himalayan sea salt (to taste)

Optional: avocado, tomato, cilantro, shredded lettuce, red pepper flakes, salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese (regular or non-dairy), and/or sour cream (if you aren’t vegan)

1. Measure and rinse your grain of choice in a mesh sieve.

2. After rinsing, prepare your grain of choice according to the package directions.

3. Chop the butternut squash if you aren’t using frozen.

4. Add the Grapeseed or Avocado oil to a sauté pan and add the chopped fresh or the chopped frozen butternut squash.

5. Sauté the butternut squash on medium high for about 5 minutes or until warmed.

6. Add the cinnamon and cumin to the butternut squash and make sure everything gets thoroughly mixed.

7. Add the drained and rinsed black beans to the butternut squash mixture.

8. Check the grains and if they are cooked, turn off of the stove top and fluff them.

9. Sauté the black bean and butternut squash mixture for another couple of minutes.

10. Serve on tortillas or make a taco bowl. Be sure to add in any of the fun extras listed above! The optional mix-ins add flavor and depth if you eat these on a weekly basis like my husband and I do! My personal favorite is making a taco bowl with salsa and other veggies and then using tortilla chips as scoops. 🙂

If you make “squacos”, I’d love to see your creations! E-mail me or share on social media ( InstagramFacebook, or Twitter), but make sure to tag me! I’d be happy to feature your version of “squacos” on my social media channels!

Running into 2018: goals and dreams for the new year: spring check-in

Hello friends! Happy Easter (if you celebrate)! I hope you all had a fun and relaxing Sunday. Mine was busy because of work, but now I’m happy for some time to relax. 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, my temporary teaching job ended last week, so I acted quickly and snagged two part time jobs. Both of the jobs are at places I adore and are perfect for this somewhat “limbo” phase of my life. I’m still figuring out what my next steps are, but I have a really good idea what they will be and will share when the time is right…

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In the meantime, I thought the 1st day of April was the perfect time to check-in with my 2018 goals. This is mainly a way to hold myself accountable, so feel free to skip this post if this sort of thing bores you 😛 If not, I appreciate your support by reading and commenting! I’d love to know if you set goals for 2018 and have accomplished some of them, so feel free to share with me too!

Black Bean Queen’s fifteen 2018 goals check-in #1:

1. A minimum of 5 minutes of stretching/foam rolling after EVERY RUN

9 times out of 10 I have accomplished this goal since January! So that feels good. 🙂 Just knowing that I shared this goal publicly with all of you made me think twice when I wanted to slack on stretching and rolling 🙂 Plus I am recovering from my runs well so far…but we shall see once I start ramping up the miles 😱

2. Strength training a minimum of 2x/ week (particularly glute/hip exercises)

Not doing well with this goal…I’m at once a week when it’s a good week. When I was teaching I barely had enough time to fit in my runs, let alone my strength workouts, but this isn’t optional for me or I will get hurt. 🙁 Strength training at least twice week, focusing on hip strength, is my top goal moving forward. 

3. Yoga 1x/ week (a class or YouTube video)

Also not doing great with this goal for the same reason as #2…BUT now that I am done teaching and working two PT jobs that do not require outside work (i.e. lesson planning, grading, etc) I will be able to better fit in the “extras” that enhance running training. Yoga will be my second top goal moving forward. However, I have done yoga twice in the last week for what it’s worth.🤷🏼‍♀️

4. Finish my first marathon in October (my ultimate goal is 3:30 or faster so I can Boston Qualify)

Not accomplished yet 😉

5. PR in the 5k and the half marathon by increasing my mileage (SLOWLY) and adding in more track/speed workouts (5k goal is sub 18 minutes & half marathon goal is 1:25)

Same as above. I’ve only done one 5k in 2018 and no half marathons yet. My first half marathon is the Illinois half marathon in less than a month!

6. Run my first 10k race

Same as above. My first 10k will be on June 3rd at Run for the Zoo

7. Run a trail race of any distance

Not accomplished yet 😉

8. Hire a coach in the spring/summer to help me with Chicago marathon training

Accomplished sooner than expected. A few weeks ago, I won two months of coaching with Heather Szuba of McKirdy Trained and it could not have come at a better time! I’m at a new phase in my life where I can prioritize my training a bit better than when I was teaching. I can already tell this is going to be huge for my running and so far I love working with Heather. I can’t wait to see where working with her takes me! 🙂 

10. Join a running group or racing team

Not accomplished yet 😉 Since one of my new jobs is at a running store, I think it is time for me to finally do more group runs or join a team. Stay tuned…😜

11. Read 24 books (2 books/month)

Not accomplished yet 😉 Sadly, I’ve only read one book in 2018 so far 🙁 On the bright side I am an extremely fast reader, so I am confident I can still accomplish this goal!

12. Connect with more liked minded people by growing Black Bean Queen to 1,000 subscribers. I also want to grow my social media presence on Instagram and Twitter to at least 1,000 followers and my Facebook and Pinterest to at least 500 followers.

Partly accomplished! 🙂 Last I checked this blog has over 1,060 subscribers, so it has grown a bit in the last few months. My Instagram is also over 1,000 followers, but I am not at my Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest goals yet. I’m concerned less about actual numbers and more about connecting to even more awesome runners, fitness enthusiasts, plant based eaters, etc. 

13. Be kinder to and less critical of myself by reflecting on the positives in my life at least 1x/week

Working on this! One of the best things I did to help me with this goal was buy 52 Lists for Happiness by Moorea Seal. I love starting a new week with one of the lists. Thanks to Connie of Constantly for the recommendation! 🙂

14. Take my vitamin everyday

I was really good about this in January and February, but fell off the wagon during March. It’s a new week and month, so time to be better about taking my vitamin again! 😛 

15. Cook a new vegetarian/vegan recipe with my husband 1x/month

Working on this goal! We got in a bit of a rut cooking the same old favorites the last few months..BUT we just bought the Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook and I flagged some of the vegetarian/vegan recipes to make over the next few weeks. Plus, I still need to make a bunch of the recipes from Oh She Glows Everyday, which we bought a year ago. So ideas are not the problem 😛 One way that has helped us in the past has been by turning it into a date night to make a new recipe. I highly recommend this tactic for any couples out there who keep making the same things or go out to eat for many meals. 

Are YOU accomplishing your 2018 goals, running related or not? I’d love for you to share, so we can support each other! 🙂

Illinois half marathon training weeks 1 & 2

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Illinois Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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I can’t believe I’ve made it through the first two weeks of Illinois half marathon training! It has been tough to balance training with my (relatively) new teaching job…Things are going well training wise, though, and I really hope it stays that way! I’m nervous because of my injury history, but I am optimistic, especially after I wrapped up week 2 yesterday! So without further ado, let’s take a look at my last two weeks of training! 🙌🏻

Week 1: Monday February 5th -Sunday February 11th

-Monday February 5th: REST

-Tuesday February 6th:  3 miles @ 7:42 on the treadmill followed by strength work

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-Wednesday February 7th: REST/XT

-Thursday February 8th: REST

-Friday February 9th: Unexpected day off work (snow day) resulted in a fun, but snowy/slippery 5 miles @ 7:59 pace

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-Saturday February 10th: 4 miles @ 7:31 pace

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-Sunday February 11th: REST

WEEKLY TOTAL: 14 miles

Week 2: Monday February 12th -Sunday February 18th:

-Monday February 12th: 3 miles after school at 7:18 pace followed by stretching

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-Tuesday February 13th: REST

-Wednesday February 14th: 3 miles @ 7:07 pace. I ran by feel, but ended up with a run that was almost at tempo pace…

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-Thursday February 15th: Late and dark 4 miler at 7:49 pace. This run didn’t feel great…

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-Friday February 16th: REST

-Saturday February 17th: 1 mile w/u, 3 miles @ goal half marathon pace (6:49, 6:54, 6:48), and 3 mile c/d

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-Sunday February 18th: 5 mile recovery run @ 7:39 pace followed by yoga

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WEEKLY TOTAL:  21 miles 

Tonight’s question: What races are you training for this spring? Will any of you be joining me at the Illinois half marathon? They also have a 5k, 10k, full marathon, and marathon relay! So there’s a race for everyone!🤗 Use the code “2018bibravebonus” code for $10.00 off your entry if you want to join me!😉

Top 5 reasons why you should run the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k

Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I’ve lived in Chicago for 4 years now and this is the first year I’m running the Shamrock Shuffle 8k!😱 If it weren’t for all injuries over the last few years, I would have run it sooner because it’s a really awesome race! Don’t be like me-run it this year too! Need more convincing?! Check out my top 5 reasons why you should run the Shamrock Shuffle 8k below. And if you read the whole thing I’ll even give you a discount code!😜

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Run the Shamrock Shuffle 8k

1. You can’t beat the amazing city views on the race course! 😍 I may be biased because I live in Chicago, but dang the views are gorgeous! You get to run through scenic downtown Chicago where you get the best of both worlds: city AND lake views! And if you’re not up for the full 8k, the 2 mile walk course still boasts some stellar views! 😊

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2. Beer! 🍻 Need I say more? You get one free Michelob ULTRA beer at the finish line (if you are of age of course)! There is live music, great city/lake views for that post race insta 📸, and then you can head over to the post race party. This year the post race party is at the Scout Waterhouse & Kitchen (1301 S. Wabash Ave.). If you bring your race bib to  the Scout between 2 pm and 1 am they will give you another free Michelob ULTRA!

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3. The race is such a big deal that NBC 5 Chicago covers it! So, if you’ve ever wanted to be on TV, now might be your chance 😉 The cooler your outfit, the better your chance of being featured on TV (ok I made this up…but dressing up is part of the fun 😝)!

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4. The race is competitive. There’s even an elite corral! So you just may be able to admire one of your favorite runners from afar!  Each year over 30,000 runners run the Shamrock Shuffle! So, regardless of your pace,  there is bound to be someone to race against and push you toward an ever elusive PR! And if you are extra competitive you can form a team and race in the team competition division. Plus, the finisher’s medal is pretty if I do say so myself!🥇

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5. You just might PR! An 8k is a unique race distance (4.97 miles) that you may have not done before. And anytime you run a new race it’s a PR, right?

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BONUS REASON: I’ll be there! I’m running it for the first time and you know you’ve always wanted to meet the Black Bean Queen in real life 😉😜

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Have you run the Shamrock Shuffle before?! If so, what’s your favorite part of the race? If not, are you joining me at the race this year?! If use the code “SHUFFLE” at the following link: http://haku.ly/dd2567 you can save $10 on your race entry!

 

F^3 Lake Half Marathon and 5k race Chicago review

I will start my race review by saying in an ideal situation I would have run the half marathon, not the 5k. I become injured in early November and was unable to run the Madison half  marathon that month, so I knew a January half  wasn’t realistic. My husband signed up for the F^3 Lake Half Marathon and I felt left out, so I signed up for the 5k in the hopes that I would somehow recover and be able to run at least a few weeks before the race. Thankfully, I overcame my injury in a month and half through lots of rest, time in the weight room, yoga, and a little cross training. I started running again a week before Christmas and knew that my goal for this 5k would be to finish and nothing more.

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Now I will say that despite my lack of fitness going in, I am so happy I signed up for this race! The weather was unseasonably warm for January (40s) and it was so much fun.

Packet pick up: There were multiple weekends and locations (city and suburbs) to pick up packets and even an option to pick it up race morning for $15.

Parking: Only con about this race. Parking was a slow process and expensive because they made you pay before entering the garage. Most places have you grab a ticket and pay on the way out. I would have preferred that option because my husband and I kept our wallets in the bag in our car truck. So when we got to the front of the parking line I had to jump out of the car and scramble to open the trunk and find one of wallets to pay… I feel like myself (and everyone else) who had to do this held up the parking line significantly.

Waiting for the start: My favorite part of the race (besides running it) was the ability to stay inside the warm United Center until the start of the race and pee in a real toilet instead of a porta potty 😛 I also thought the gear check was easy to find and very well organized. If it had been actually cold on race day, I would have still been comfortable because the start line was right outside the door. I still took advantage of the warmth and since I did not warm up, I reported to the start line 5 min before the race. Had I had lofter goals for this race (i.e. getting a PR rather than just finishing), I would have warmed up, done drills, etc. I also used the wait time to finally meet some of my fellow Bibrave Pros Connie and Ben in real life 😛

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Race course: The 5k (and the half) was a flat/fast out and back course. There was one water station on the 5k course than I didn’t use or need, but it was nice that they had one. My husband ran the half and did not take in much water, but was pleased with how many stops were on the course too. There were quite a few people cheering and taking pictures so that was also cool.

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I just started running again a month before the race (due to my injury) and recently got a new job as a chemistry teacher, so my training was subpar going in. I only ran twice in the two weeks before the race and decided that with my lack of speed work it would be smartest from a recovery/injury standpoint to treat the race as a tempo run. I ran it in 21:08, which was a tempo effort for me at this point in m training, and unexpectedly 1st place female… Finally, everyone I saw on and off the course was nice, but I feel like this is because only the most dedicated runners are willing to run or volunteer in a Chicago winter race!

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Post race/swag: Everyone who ran the 5k or half got a cool medal. The top three overall 5k runners for each gender got a plaque and the top three half marathon runners got prize money, which helped make the half marathon competitive. So, I got a pretty sweet plaque from the 5k! There were also age group prizes for the half marathon, which my husband narrowly missed (4th in his age group with a PR of 1:15). We also all got a cool lightweight hooded top, which is super comfy and soft and I’ve already worn twice since last weekend 😛

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I waited around with the other 5k finishers until my husband finished the half marathon. Again, I was grateful that I was able to wait around in the warm United Center instead of outside. We all took some time to stretch and we met up with one more Bibrave Pro Mark! I’m sad I wasn’t able to meet up with/find everyone! :/

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Then, we attended the awards ceremony, so I could collect my first place plaque and cheer on all the finishers.

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After party: After the awards, we finally decided to mosey on over to the post-race party and get our free beers from Kroll’s. Our entire table ordered Two Brother’s Pinball pale ales. A few of us got food as well: my husband got a veggie burger, I got sweet potato fries, and Mikey got a Chicken Cesar Salad which he enjoyed. Kroll’s had a fun atmosphere, the food was decent, but I feel like they were a bit understaffed. They could have used a few more severs to handle the high volume of hungry and thirsty runners.

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Overall, the F^3 Lake Half Marathon and 5k was well organized, fun, and definitely a race I’d do again. 🙂 Although, next time I’d do the half marathon rather than the 5k. Did any of you run F^3 this year or in the past?

P.S. check out my F^3 review on Bibrave. It is a great place to go when you are looking for races to run because you can read about the experiences that other runners had at that race in the past! 🙂