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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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 agoย ๐Ÿ˜ฑ) 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 reallyย  unmotivated to cook once they move off campus and live off take-out and ramen, but not me!ย  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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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!ย  And to share my love of black beans with all ๐Ÿ˜‰

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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.๐Ÿ˜ฑ

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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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?”, “itโ€™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 Studyย 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.ย  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. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ 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 ย 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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I learned so much about myself and my long term goals during this journey.ย  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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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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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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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜› 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 Queenโ€™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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus I am recovering from my runs well so far…but we shall see once I start ramping up the miles ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

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. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ 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.๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ

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

Not accomplished yet ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 

10. Join a running group or racing team

Not accomplished yet ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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…๐Ÿ˜œ

11. Read 24 books (2 books/month)

Not accomplished yet ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sadly, I’ve only read one book in 2018 so far ๐Ÿ˜ฆ 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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ˜› 

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 ๐Ÿ˜› 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? Iโ€™d love for you to share, so we can support each other! ๐Ÿ™‚

F^3 training weeks 3-6 (12/25/17-race day 1/20/18)

Good evening friends!

I know that technically I raced yesterday…BUT I will finally recap all my training or lack thereof that led to the race. In the very near future I will also review the F^3 Half Marathon and 5k here and on BibRave! I will say now that it was fun and very well run! I am pleased with how the race went, but not with my training. You will see what I mean below…I am giving myself some credit, though, because I just started a my first ever teaching job where I am teaching chemistry to high school students who did not have a teacher for almost three months AND finals are in a week!!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

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Things have been crazy, so my sleep and my training has definitely suffered: I get to school by 7 am most days and do not leave until 445-6 pm most nights and often still have work to do when I get home. I’m not making excuses, but rather giving an explanation for the many zeros/low mileage weeks below. I pride myself on being real with all of you! Even though I am a former college runner, I want to remind all of you that now I am just a regular person with a real job, trying to fit in my runs and live my life. Please be kind before commenting on my situation! I know I did not train adequately and that is why I took yesterday at tempo effort, rather than an all out race. As I figure things out and get the students caught up, my hours will be better and so will my training. I am looking forward to better weeks of training for the Shamrock Shuffle and the Illinois Half Marathon. I am forever grateful that I am no longer injured! ๐Ÿ™‚

Week 3: Monday December 25th-Sunday December 31st:

-Monday December 25th: 3.6 miles at 7:23 pace with my husband & sister-in-law. Furthest run since my injury! I foam rolled and stretched after the run.IMG_4738

-Tuesday December 26th:  REST

-Wednesday December 27th: 3 miles at 7:25 and it was freezing! It felt like -3 outside!

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-Thursday December 28th: Yoga/strength for 60 min

-Friday December 29th: Wintery weather caused me to move this run to the dreadmill and it did not feel good. 3 miles at 7:29 pace followed by stretching and foam rolling.

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-Saturday December 30th: Yoga for 30 min

-Sunday December 31st: 4 miles at 7:19 pace with my husband followed by foam rolling and stretching.

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WEEKLY TOTAL: 13.6 miles

Week 4: Monday January 1st-Sunday January 7th 

-Monday January 1st:  REST DAY

-Tuesday January 2nd:  5 miles at 7:21 pace (2.5 with my husband and 2.5 alone) followed by foam rolling and stretching.IMG_4834

-Wednesday January 3rd: Cold weather makes it tough to tempo. 1 mi w/u, 1 mi tempo (6:33), & 2 mi c/d followed by stretching and foam rolling.

-Thursday January 4th: 30 minutes of yoga

-Friday January 5th: 3 miles at 7:20 pace followed by stretching a foam rolling.

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-Saturday January 6th: REST DAY

-Sunday January 7th: 6.1 very windy miles at 7:31 pace followed by foam rolling and stretching.

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WEEKLY TOTAL: 18.1 miles

Week 5: Monday January 8th-Sunday January 14th (WEEK 1 OF TEACHING)

-Monday January 8th: REST

-Tuesday January 9th 4 miles easy (7:40 pace) after a long two days of teaching, followed by foam rolling and stretching.

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-Wednesday January 10th: 30 minutes of yoga

-Thursday January 11th: REST

-Friday January 12th: REST

-Saturday January 13th: Tempo workout: 1 mi w/u, 1 mi tempo at 6:46, and 2 mi c/d. Overall pace was 7:12 and I stretched and foam rolled after the workout.

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-Sunday January 14th: 7 miles at 7:57 pace. I think the face below says it all…I felt terrible on this run for some reason ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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WEEKLY TOTAL: 15 miles

Week 6: Monday January 15th-Sunday January 21st (RACE WEEK)

-Monday January 15thREST

-Tuesday January 16thREST

-Wednesday January 17th: REST

-Thursday January 18th: 2 miles on the dreadmill at 7:30 pace my new AfterShokz headphones!

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-Friday January 19th: No run, but lots of foam rolling and stretching.

-Saturday January 20th (RACE DAY!): Due to my lack of training and injury history I decided to treat this 5k race as tempo run. I did my tempo 5k in 21:08 (6:48 pace) and that was good for 1st place… My husband ran the half marathon in 1:15:58! Will do a full recap and review on the blog and BibRave in the very near future with more pictures! It was fun to meet up with the other BibRave Pros who ran the race. Pictured below is the BibRave Pros who ran the 5k.

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WEEKLY TOTAL: 5 miles

Today’s questions: Did you race this last weekend? If so, how did it go? Also, has your running ever suffered due to a new job? If so, how did you reestablish a new running routine?

Join me at the Illinois Half Marathon on 04/28/2018!

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’m excited to announce that I am running the Illinois Half Marathon on Saturday April 28, 2018 and I’d love for you to join me! ๐Ÿ™‚ I even convinced my husband to run the full marathon, so hopefully I can convince YOU to run something!๐Ÿคž๐ŸปIfย you don’t want to run a full or half marathon they also have a 5k, 10k, andย  marathon relay!

This is a really awesome race because it is FLAT (i.e. fast and perfect for PRing) and you get to finish in the historic Memorial stadium!ย  Plus, it is a USATF-certified marathon course and serves qualifying race for those of you looking to Boston-Qualify!๐Ÿ˜‰ย Anotherย perk, are the free pacers for the half-marathon and full marathon! I know I will personally utilize the pacers during my half marathon race, so I can reach my goals. Finally, this race boasts some sweet amenities from free digital photos (how else can you immortalize your ugly race pain face?! haha, but seriously…see below for one of my college running gemsย ๐Ÿ˜‚)ย to a pre-race bagel bar to a post race Muscle Milk.

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(Me circa 2012 as a college runner with the classic race pain face)

So, what are my goals for this race?! Well, I’ve only done one other half-marathon inย  and I did not train for it. For that race, I didn’t do speed work, my longest run was 8 miles, and my weekly mileage was maybe around 20 miles. I was feeling burned out from college and college running… I shouldn’t have signed up for one the summer after graduation. :/ During the race,ย  I ALMOST dropped out because my IT band tightened up around mile ten and I was in a lot of pain…but I’m stubborn and wanted to finish, so i did! I ended up taking a month off after the race and spent almost 8 months barely running without pain before I admitted I was injured…I went to Physical Therapy for 4 months in 2015 to get fixed up.ย  Considering all those factors I’m fine with my time 1:40, but I know I am capable of more this time around!

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(My now husband & I at my last half marathon in 2014)

My goal is to at least get a PR and ideally run a sub 1:30! I’m going to train smarter and am already building my base. I just got over another injury, so I’m taking things real slow. I’m doing the F^3 5k in a few weeks to see where I’m at and then I plan on doing another half marathon in March to gauge my fitness. It will either be a trail half marathon in San Francisco or the Carmel half marathon in Indiana over my spring break (March 30th weekend)….stay tuned!

I’m going to loosely follow the Hal Higdonย Intermediate 2ย training plan and it peaks around 35-40 miles per week. It is a 12 week program, so I will switch from base building to the training plan the first week of February. I picked the Intermediate 2 plan because I am keeping my mileage modest the first half of this year to make sure I stay injury free. Then, I will ramp my mileage up once I starting training for the Chicago Marathon later this summer!ย ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

So, what do you say?! Want to join me at the Illinois Marathon? If so, use the code 2018bibravebonus for $5 off race entry for any of the race distances! ๐Ÿ™‚

2018-BibRave-discount-code-usage-instructions.jpgTonight’s question: Are you running the Illinois Marathon (or Marathon relay, half, 10k, or 5k)? What other races are you running this spring?! ๐Ÿ™‚