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?

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Top 5 reasons why you should join me at Run for the Zoo on Sunday June 3, 2018

Disclaimer: I’m received a free entry to Run for the Zoo 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!

This will be my first time running Run for Zoo and I’m not sure what took me so long to sign up! 😛 When I first moved to Chicago about four years ago I even lived across the street from the zoo and would regularly take a lap through the zoo in the middle of my runs…at least until I got injured 😦 What can I say, I’m a sucker for cute animals🦁🐵 If it weren’t for all my injuries over the last few years, I’m sure I would have run it sooner! YOU SHOULD RUN IT THIS YEAR WITH ME!!! Need more convincing?! Check out my top 5 reasons why you should run the Run for the Zoo below. And if you read the whole thing I’ll even give you a discount code (or you can scroll to the bottom right away for the code, but I’ll know you didn’t read)!😜

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Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Run the Run for the Zoo:

1. The course weaves through the beautiful Lincoln Park Zoo! If you have run many races in Chicago ,you know that is is a treat because most races occur on the Lakeshore Path. Granted, the Lakeshore Path is gorgeous, but it’s fun to shake it up. 🙂

2. Multiple race options. Do you have a competitive side? Do you have a little one at home? Or trying to convince a reluctant spouse to try running for the first time? This is the perfect race for all three options! There is a 5k, 10k, and the Safari Stampede race for kids ages 3-6. There is chip timing, it is a USTAF-certified course, and there are wave start times, so you can go for that elusive PR OR take leisurely walk-run through Lincoln Park Zoo. The choice is yours!

3. Proceeds from the race go directly to Lincoln Park Zoo to keep it up and running for FREE 365 days a year!

4. You will receive fun swag and attend a post-race party! All finishers get a tech T-shirt with the new an improved logo, plus admittance to a fun post-race party with a DJ, free beer (for those over 21), and snacks!

5. I’ll be there! I’m running the 10k for the first time and you know you’ve always wanted to meet the Black Bean Queen in real life 😉😜  And yes the Black Bean King (AKA my husband is also running) Plus, if there’s interest I could host a shake-out run the day before or a warm-up the day of the race. Just let me know on social media or via e-mail!:)

This is a picture of my husband and I is from Zoo Lights in December 2017. It is a free month long event during Christmas time that is open to the public. It is made possible through generations donations and proceeds from events such as Run for the Zoo. Just incase you needed a 6th reason to run 😉

Have you done Run for the Zoo 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 “BIBRAVE” for  10% off your race entry!

Running into 6 months of marriage: a look back on how we met & our Chicago Marathon engagement

I can’t believe I’ve been married for 6 months! 😱 Time flies when you are having fun-that’s for sure! Although the last year has had some ups and downs, including my injury in Nov, my wedding exactly 6 months ago was, hands-down, the highlight of 2017! So in honor of the best day of my life (so-far), 6 months of marriage, and my favorite runner in the whole world (who happens to be my husband) I am taking a look back on our story. 😍

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I thought this would be a fun way for all of you who don’t know me in real life to get to know me better….but rest assured this blog will continue to be a space primarily dedicated to running/training, racing, running product reviews, and vegetarian food.

So, without further ado, here are the stories! 💕

How my husband & I met

My husband and I knew of each other for years before they started dating because we attended the same middle school and were both on the cross country/track teams in high school. Fast forward to April 2009: it was track season and prom asking season. My now husband noticed a lot of his friends on the track team were taking dates to prom. He decided he also wanted to go to prom in May, but who should he ask? Even though he barely knew me, he thought he would ask me because he thought I was a talented and cute runner on the girls track/cross country team and I seemed nice. He waited at my locker on an April morning with flowers and asked me to prom. I accepted!

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We hung out several times in groups and at track meets leading up to prom. Then, we went to prom together as friends and did not expect to be anything but friends after the night ended. But something was special about that night in May 2009 and we both felt it. My now husband realized that night he wanted to hang out with me more and asked me on an “official” movie date the following week. I eagerly accepted. That night (May 9, 2009) he asked me to be his girlfriend and the rest is history!

The Proposal

On the morning of October 9th, 2016 we both woke up before 5 am. I had to report to the first Chicago Marathon water stop to volunteer by 5:30 am with my now husband’s mom, our friend’s mom, and my now husband’s sister (who made a surprise appearance…but I now know it was to be our photographer). That morning, I was confused why he woke up extra early with me since he was running and he did not need to be up until 5:30 am. He claimed he had to grab some “throw away warmups” from his mom’s car, so he went to her car, but at the time I did not think much of it. Little did I know he was giving the ring to his mom for safe keeping…

I hopped into car clueless about the day ahead. The day seemed relatively normal and this was my third time volunteering at the Chicago Marathon, so I knew the drill. After the race ended, his mom, his sister, our friend’s mom, and I went into the post-race party to find and congratulate my now husband and our friend. Once I found the boys, I volunteered to locate snacks for both of them, since I figured they would be hungry.  It was the perfect time for his mom to return the ring!  Once I returned, I gave my now husband  the snack and was confused that he didn’t want to eat it. I asked if he wanted me to grab a beer instead. He said sure, but that he wanted to walk with me to grab it. I said it was not necessary, but he insisted anyway…

Once we were out of the giant post-race crowd, he got down on his knee and proposed. I was shocked and excited. And of course the answer was YES!

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Running was how we started dating in high school  (2009) and he wanted our proposal to occur surrounding one of our favorite activities. I am still in awe that he was able to get down on one knee after running a marathon…

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Please let me know in the comments, via e-mail, Instagram,  Twitter, or Facebook if you appreciate these glimpses into my real (non-running) life or if you prefer the normal types of posts.

 

 

 

F^3 training weeks 1 & 2 (12/11-12/24/17): my return to running after injury

Hello friends! It’s been far too long since I’ve had a running/training update…but until Saturday December 16th this gal was confined to cross training and rest due to  left IT band injury. :/

The good news is all my rest/cross training/strength work paid off and I’m back at it! 🙂 My comeback race will be the F^3 5K on 01/20/2018! I’m sad that I’m not running the half marathon like I planned, but that would not be a smart training move…Sudden mileage increases and laziness toward strength work is what got me injured in the first place.  I’m just happy to be running again! I have all year to reach my time goals- this 5k is just to get back out there! Although, at some point this year I’d like to run a sub 18 5k…not sure how realistic that is.🤔

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So, without further ado let’s recap my last two weeks of training/ my return to running. I won’t lie- it’s not very exciting 😂 My return to running involves cross training, strength work, and only a few days of running per week. Each pain free mile and increase in my strength and balance is a step in the right direction, so I’ll take it!💪🏻

Week 1: Monday December 11th-Sunday December 17th:

-Monday December 11th: REST DAY

-Tuesday December 12th: 20 min on the stair stepper, lower body weights, foam rolling, & resistance band exercises

-Wednesday December 13th: 30 minutes of yoga & foam rolling

-Thursday December 14th: REST DAY

-Friday December 15th: 20 minutes stationary bike, resistance band exercises, upper body exercises, and core

-Saturday December 16th: 1st run back in nearly 6 weeks! 2.2 miles at 7:30 pace followed by lower body strength exercises & foam rolling

first run back

-Sunday December 17th: REST DAY

Week 2: Monday, December 18th- Sunday December 25th:

-Monday December 18th: 2nd run back was 2 dark miles at 7:24 pace followed by stretching and foam rolling

2 miles in the dark

-Tuesday December 19th: 40 minute upper body, core, & IT band strength routine

40 minute IT band

-Wednesday December 20th: 3 miles at 7:15 pace followed by 15 minutes of yoga and foam rolling

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-Thursday December 21st: Lower body strength routine similar to Tuesday’s workout

-Friday December 22nd: REST DAY. Went to zoo lights and out for pizza/beers with my husband to celebrate the end of final exams with his students (he gave a little over 100 final exams Monday-Thursday, so was A LOT of grading due today ).

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-Saturday December 23rd: REST DAY, but did some stretching & foam rolling

-Sunday December 24th: Christmas Eve fun run of 3 miles at 7:47 pace with my husband and the running club in our hometown. We kept the pace easy because it was icy and it started to snow toward the end of the run.

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Today’s question: Are any of you running any races this winter? If so, are they in a warm or cold destination? ALSO, if you aren’t running any winter races and are interested in the F^3 5k or half marathon in Chicago, check out my race discounts page! Plus, then you can join me at Chicago’s coolest winter race! See what I did there?! 😂