Random.

Hello Friends!

I know I have been a bad blogger, please forgive me.  Once May rolls around I will be better ( I will also have way more fun things to blog about rather than how my life is consumed by homework).  Hopefully I will also come up with better blog titles than “random”.  Really creative Jill, genius.

Within the next week and a half I have 3 more big papers left to do, a midterm and I am off school for a whole MONTH! But don’t worry, every Saturday in May is booked up already with wedding appointments.  Of course right?  Work is still crazy right now with wrapping up things for conference next week and just the usual million and one student visits, questions, calls, visits etc.  Love my crazy mess of a life.

Want to know what is super awesome? So… over two years ago, after signing up for my very first 70.3 Ironman I registered for a Master swim class to help me prepare for the open water swim.  Now, I am by no means afraid of water. I grew up going to a lake house every summer, I love swimming, love water.  HOWEVER, having to actually keep up with people in a class who have most likely been competitively swimming for a long time scared the CRAP out of me.  I knew I was not a fast swimmer and I certainly was in no shape to swim non stop for over an hour.   But I went in, introduced myself to the coach who was sweet as pie and could not have been more welcoming.  She put me in a group of two other guys who JUST so happen to be in the same beginner boat I was AND training for the same race!  Needless to say, those guys are still my buddies to date and we have done many races together since.  It was one of the hardest workouts in the history of my athletic life but I was so incredibly proud that I made it through.  It took me a solid 3-4 months  to get my technique down before I finally felt smooth and comfortable in the water.  Ironically, the race I was training for had bad weather and the swim was CANCELED.  Really funny God, hilarious.   So naturally, I had to sign up again the following year and loved every minute of the open water swim.

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Anyway, get to the point Jill…what is so super awesome?  Well last night I met one of my clients at the Vaughn Center, she is training for her first ever triathlon this coming June.  So I met up with her to do a pool workout.  I had such a weird full circle moment when I was sitting there helping her with breathing exercises, drills, working on form etc.  Let me just say, I am by NO means the best swimmer in the world but the fact that I am at a point now where I am comfortable enough to be able to help somebody else out… THAT is super awesome.    Not to mention, this woman has two kids, runs a super successful and BUSY marketing agency, a million other gigs and is still dedicating herself to this challenge. I am so looking forward to cheering her on across that finish line, what an amazing accomplishment!

Want to know what else is awesome?  My run club and I found $70 cash money on the running trail this morning, if that isn’t a sign of a good day I don’t know what is.

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Also, Nashville Country Music 1/2 Marathon is THIS WEEKEND! YAY!!!  This was the first distance race I ever did back in 2008, so it will be cool to see how different I feel after having more races than I can count under my belt.  I do not have a goal in mind for this race, I really just want to take in the city and enjoy the time with my bestie.  Going to be a good time!

To all my College Counselor and Admission friends- POWER THROUGH!!! 🙂

Balance

People have been asking me a lot lately- “How do you balance everything?”.  So I thought perhaps I would divulge my methods for attempting to balance this life the best I can.  I say attempt because quite frankly, I fail quite often.  Forgetting birthdays, messing up my scheduling or just straight up having a mental breakdown.  Totes happens.  Remember the name of my blog? My life is sometimes an absolute MESS.  I could very easily sit here day after day and complain to you about my long work weeks, loads of homework or my sweets addiction that causes my jeans to fit too tight.  But who would want to listen to that?  Instead I will complain only sometimes (okay maybe more than that) and tell you about my awesome workouts, amazing friends, fun travels, rewarding job and all the little deets in between.  Much more fun to read about.

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Rare is the week I miss a run with my pup, he needs the exercise too!

So back to this question, how do I balance two jobs, graduate school, training/working out and still have time for friends family and fun?

I first must point out that I know this sounds totally lame, but both my Admission Counselor job and personal training job are straight up fun.  I laugh everyday, I feel like I am making a difference everyday.  So while yes I may have little time for other fun things, my day to day life makes up for that.

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A little wine never hurts either…

I am a big planner, so I have found that what works best is literally writing out plans week by week .  Every Sunday night I sit down, look at my schedule for the week which always changes and I literally write it all out.  THEN  I put where I am able to fit in my workouts, my homework assignments for that week, errands, etc.  This helps me to make the most of my time and be able to prioritize, also to not waste time on things that are not important or shift something if needed.  I am then able to visualize what time I have left over each week and spend it accordingly.  Whether that is dinner with a friend, time with family, date with Shain etc.  I spend my time on things that are important, make me happy and are getting me towards my goals, period.

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I am a serious list maker which aids to this as well.  Every morning at work I make my task list for the day and I literally write what time frame of that day I am going to do it.  For example:  8am-10am respond to emails, 10am-1130am approve files, etc.  I do better when I know exactly what I need to do and when I need to do it.  Otherwise I will find myself answering emails all day long but not accomplishing tasks, getting caught up in office banter, wasting time online etc.  As my day is often is incredibly unpredictable, there are plenty of days where my schedule goes out the window, but that’s okay.

I also have what I like to call my ‘happiness laws to live by” that I highly recommend everybody should make.  There are quite a few of them, so I will save them for another day but they are guidelines for myself such as, no negative people allowed, 7-8 hours of sleep always,  etc.  Whenever I feeling unhappy or overwhelmed, I look at these laws and more often than not I am unhappy because I am not following one or more.  You know what makes you happy, own it.

One of my laws to live by is having one hour a day to reflect, pray, journal etc.  In today’s world when we are go go go, it is important to really sit down and be at one with your thoughts, feelings etc.   It is during this hour that I almost always have my biggest ideas, revelations and breakthroughs.   Writing these blog posts is usually a part of that hour too 🙂

With adding school to my plate this year, I have realized very quickly that there are things I need to cut back on.  I enjoy being busy, but it has gotten a little out of hand and I am working on that.  Truth is,  life is better when it’s simple.

Pray for Boston

Wow.  What an emotional day yesterday.

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I consider myself a spiritual person, I pray, I have a relationship with God and I try my best to always do what is right.  But in situations like this, I have a hard time praying even though I know it is the first thing I should do.  I just get SO angry.  I get filled with rage towards somebody who would carry something out like this.  I hear a lot of people saying things like “What has this world come to?”, “It just keeps getting worse” etc.  Most of the time  I agree with that, but other times I wonder if maybe our world is the same as it has always been?  Maybe now because of the social media channels, we hear about it immediately and we hear about it more so it seems more extreme? Maybe not, who knows.  Let’s be honest, I am from Chicago and am well aware that violence happens everywhere everyday, and a lot of that violence never even makes the news.   It is a reality that has been alive LONG before terrorism.  All I know is we are no longer guaranteed safety anywhere, not going to a movie, going to the mall, going to school and now running a race.

I have a theory I will delve into on a different day on why so much violence has happened and it actually  has nothing to do with gun laws and everything to do with the kind of people we have morphed into in this millennium.

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I received so many text messages and phone calls yesterday from close family and friends asking me “Are you still going to try and run this next year??”.  To be honest, I did not even have to think about my answer.  Yes.  Yes I am still going to try and qualify to run Boston in 2014.  It has been a dream of mine for quite some time and no terrorist prick is going to stop me from doing that.  It might seem safer at this point to live in a hole, but sorry not doing it.  You have to live your life.  Whether you are a victim of an act of violence or in a fatal car accident, your life could end at any given moment.  And I hate to tell you, but you have no control over when that will happen, God does.

All we can do is pray. Pray for Boston, pray for the victims, pray for our world and yes even pray for those who did this. Whether you like or not, the oppressors need just as many prayers as everybody else.  Continue to love and be kind to one another, despite this fear and anger you might feel.  Continue to see the good in everything, the blessings in the mess.  The number of good things and people in this world outweighs the bad by far, the media just does not portray it that way unfortunately.

Stop the anger, stop the hate.  Say a prayer and BE the change you wish to see in the world.

 

Happy Friday!

HAPPY FRIDAY!  Even though it’s not really a Friday as I have class tonight…and tomorrow….annnnnnd work on Sunday.  But it’s cool I will still do the Friday jig with you because I am supportive like that.

I apologize if my last rant offended you, sometimes I get a little ragey.  In the future I will try to be less ragey and more inspiring (hopefully).

So I had this awesome blog post idea (or so I thought) for your reading pleasure today and unfortunately the words were just not coming out.  Probably because in the last two days I have completed 3 papers as well as had our final edits for the IACAC Conference program due.  My writing is tapped.  My brain is tapped. Who has 3 papers due in one week?  Stupid.   My stress levels are maaaaaaaaaaybe a little high.  So I apologize, I got nothing.

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This is what April looks like when you are an Admission Counselor

Don’t worry I am not on suicide watch or anything GEEZ.  I still love life.  I always love life.  This month is just cray cray.  Yes I just used the term cray cray.  Also… SUMMER YOU CAN SHOW UP ANYTIME NOW THANKS.

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Trying to manifest summer, is it working?

I do have some awesome things to look forward to at the end of this month though!

  • April 27th I am going to be a bad student and not go to class as I will be spending the weekend in NASHVILLE with my bestie for the Country Music Marathon!
  • May 1st- 3rd IACAC Conference!
  • May 4th-5th Oswego Wine Festival!
  • May 5th Great Western Half Marathon!

Gotta get through April, I can do this, I can do this, I CAN DO THIS!!!

Yup, worst post ever.  Happy Friday!

Processed food… RANT ALERT!

So I have two clients  doing a clean eating challenge this month and so far they are kicking butt!  You guys rock!  Because of this, we have had numerous discussions  as to how DIFFICULT it is to eat clean in our society.  They are right.  It is possible, but annoyingly hard.  It seems that every where you go, people eat crap because that is all that is offered and that is the norm.  This is something that has always frustrated the hell out of me.

Let me give you an example.  I had some back to back college fairs yesterday and usually the high schools offer a hospitality room, treats or breakfast for all us college reps.  What do you think kind of food is brought in?  Doughnuts, cupcakes, cookies, bagels, chips…JUNK.  Don’t get me wrong I appreciate the gesture from the schools, but this is the reason I bring all my own meals and snacks to fairs- despite the weird looks I get.  What do you think the college reps who were perhaps running late into the fair, had not eaten breakfast yet or eaten all day for that matter and are exhausted are going to do?  Eat the junk, because it’s there and everybody else is eating it, so it can’t be that bad right?  Processed food is taking over.  It is taking over so much that people THINK they are making a healthy choices by eating things like lean cuisines, or Chex Mix.  These are not healthy.  If you are in a bind and need something, fine.  But consuming things like this on a regular basis is NOT GOOD.

Picture 038A “goody bag” from a college fair

I am convinced that the reason this country is so disease ridden, is because of all the chemicals and crap we put in our body on a daily basis. Now, please know I am just a mere blogger and I have no research to back this but I still personally believe it.   Ever look at the back of an ingredient list?  If there are several things you cannot pronounce and have no clue what they are, avoid it.  When shopping at the grocery store, the majority of your items should come from outside of the aisles.  The more you go into the aisles, the more processed it gets. Now, clearly by now you all know I love me some sweets, so I am guilty just like the rest of them.  However, this is a rare treat  for myself and absolutely NOT an everyday occasion.

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“Low fat” Cheddar Chex Mix.  Nice marketing ploy, disgusting.

What IS clean eating?  Check this diagram out below, it is pretty clear cut.  If you are buying any packaged foods, check the ingredients on the back.  If there are more than 5 ingredients, put it back down.  Even if it says “low fat” or “healthy”.

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I am constantly frustrated at the lack of choices provided to people who want or are trying to eat clean.  But that being said, I am also frustrated by people who complain about how they look and then continue to make poor choices.

“But JILL, I am SO busy, I don’t have time to cook.” You know what that says to me?  “My health and my family’s health is not a priority.”  Might sound harsh, sorry if it does.  But there is someone out there busier than you, making healthier choices.  Fact.   Set yourself up for success by planning out your meals each week, so that you don’t find yourself in a situation where it is 1pm, you realized you have not eaten all day, your blood sugar is low and those M & Ms sound like a great idea as a lunch.

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Eat simply and Eat fresh.  No that does not mean you have to live off salads.  There is an amazing amount of yummy clean food out there that will satisfy you.  You will have to order off the menu sometimes.  You will get weird looks.  You will get people that say “Are you on a diet or something?” or my personal favorite “You can afford to eat that, you workout”.  Why is it SO wrong for us to put good things in our body just because?  WHY do we have to make a big stink about it when others are trying to make healthy changes?  I don’t care if you have weight to lose or not, eating right is not about having a model body, it’s about treating this one body you have with respect, so that you can be your best self.

Again, this does not mean pizza and ice cream and alcohol are the devil as I indulge in all three of those things.  It is about making sure at least 80% of what you put in your body is good, that 20% can be fun as long as it is not everyday.

Look around… there are more people overweight and unhealthy than there are NOT.  It is sad.  It is a problem.  Having chronic health problems is now a norm of our society and that makes me seriously enraged.  TAKE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR OWN HEALTH.  Being healthy unfortunately means you might be the minority.  I know it is tough,  it is a constant battle,  a constant choice to not give in, believe me I KNOW.  But if you are willing to make the commitment, it is worth it.

Rant over.

 

Teenagers.

Do you ever walk around your local mall, look around at all the teenagers being disrespectful, inappropriate, rude etc. and worry just a little bit about our future?  I know I do sometimes.  And I get to witness this at college fairs very often!  However, let me tell you… I spend a lot of time one on one and in small groups with this age group and I am so impressed with some of the students I come across that it restores my faith in our future generation.  We are in good hands. These kids are overachievers, hard workers and just downright awesome.  Don’t judge the whole generation by some questionable clothing choices and choice of language when around friends.  This might be what you see here and there, but it does not determine much about their character.  You were young and stupid once too.  We all were.

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Remember what the pressure was like to try and fit in and be “cool”?  Remember how TERRIBLE  that first heartbreak was?  Remember how you felt nobody understood you? Remember wanting your parents to just leave you alone?  Maybe you didn’t feel any of these things.  Good for you, but that is not the majority of this age group.  Cut these teeny boppers some slack.

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All they are trying to do is make their way in the world, just like everyone else.  They have endless possibilities and choices in front of them and that is incredibly overhwleming for a 17 year old.  How are they supposed to pick a life path when they don’t even know what to pick out for clothes in the morning? 

If you are as priveleged as I am to be around this age group often, do something for me.  Don’t give them the whole “when I was your age we didn’t have bla bla bla”.  WE hated hearing that when we were young, that has not changed.  When they tell you about all their crazy ideas and goals, don’t roll your eyes and tell them they are making no sense  or are not being realistic (even if that might be true).  Hear them out. Treat them like an adult even when you feel like they don’t deserve it.  Give them some encouragement.  Tell them it will all work out.  It will not go unoticed, promise.

 

What I learned from the Crossfit Open.

Well, the Crossfit Open has officially ended!  I don’t know whether I am depressed about that or jumping for joy that it’s over…maaaaaybe a little bit of both?  The last 5 weeks of doing these workouts, I felt like such a mental case.  Some weeks I was all like “YEAH! I am awesome!” and then other weeks I was all like “Holy cow, I SUCK.”  But that also pretty much sums up the life of a crossfitter.  Some workouts you leave high on life, while others beat you down.   Even if you do not crossfit, this is how your workouts should be.  Maybe not all of them, but at least  a couple  where you are pushing your body past it’s threshold.  This is how you get faster, stronger, leaner, better.  If you keep doing what you have always done, you will not improve. Whether you are a biker, runner, swimmer, lifter etc.  Doesn’t matter.  If you want results, you must push yourself past that threshold.
  aequoteAs somebody who tells people this on a weekly basis, I was surprised to find out that I have NOT been doing this with my own strength workouts.  What a hypocrite I am! When training for a marathon or triathlon I am all about pushing myself past my limits.  But since starting Crossfit almost a year ago, I stayed in my comfort zone, especially with any heavy olympic movements.  Anytime they were in a workout, I always stuck to a ‘safe’ weight.  I used my size as an excuse.  I didn’t realize what I was capable of.  I didn’t know that I could push press 75 pounds several times, let alone power snatch it.  I didn’t know I could clean and jerk more than 95 pounds.  Every single week the workout was posted during the open I literally thought to myself, “well crap, I can’t do that.”  But guess what?  I did it. It was ugly.  It was out of my comfort zone.  My results may not have been that good. But I did it, and that’s all that matters because it’s only up from here.

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This concept does not just go for working out.  This goes for LIFE.   Too many of us just stay comfortable, just doing the same old same old.  Same old job that we hate, same old relationship that does not make us happy, same bad habits, because it is what we KNOW.  Change is hard. Why change?  I cannot explain the feeling of conquering a fear or going outside your comfort zone in words, it is one of the most tremendous and empowering feelings that exists in human life.  I felt it when I traveled across the world for the first time on my own.  I felt it before my first day on a new job.  I felt it when I showed up for my first master swim class.  I feel it every time I am about to hit a PR.  What is the common denominator of all these? FEAR.

I am not just talking “oh, this might be hard” …I am talking about body shaking, heart beating, palms sweating, looking for any possible excuse to not do it, FEAR. We’ve all been there.  Ask Shain or my friend Suz the state of mind I was in when he was driving me to the airport for my flight to Indonesia.  Shain later on told me that he was pretty positive I was not getting on the plane haha, I was HYSTERICAL.   When training for my first ever 70.3 Ironman, I signed up for a master swim class knowing that almost everybody would be way above my level.  I literally sat in the locker room during the entire  first class and never actually went in, I was terrified.  The feeling that came after I went through with  these things was exhilarating, I felt like I was on top of the world.  I conquered a fear, what was next?  Bring it on.

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You see, when you push yourself like this it leaks into other aspects of your life.  Your work ethic, your attitude, your effect on others. Things will start coming together for you, magic starts to happen.

Of course it helps to surround yourself with people that are not going to allow you to fail, that are going to push you, even when you don’t want them to.  I have to give a shout out to some Crossfit Oswego peeps here, without them I probably would have tried to sneak my way out of the open and I am so glad I didn’t.  Thank you Joe for pressuring me, pushing me and expecting more than I expect of myself.  Thank you Ryan for screaming at me when needed and then helping me “shake it off” and keep things in perspective.  Thank you Andy, for always being the first one to send me a ridiculously long motivating text after a bad workout.  Thank you to my fellow CFO members who inspire me every time I walk into that box.

What are you afraid of? Tell that negative voice inside your head to shove it and go conquer that fear that has been eating away at you. You are capable, you are ready. You have nothing to lose.

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Easter Weekend

Hola Amigos! Since my last name is going to be “Diaz” next year, I thought I would practice some Spanish on you.  Not impressive, I know.

Remember how I told you April is insane for me?  Well, it is only April 2nd and I am already feeling the pain.  But it’s all good because I had an AWESOME weekend! I flew out to Maryland this weekend to visit my brother and sister-in-law and of course my NIECE! Ahh, she is getting so big!  I am maybe kind of obsessed with her.  Can you blame me? My parents and little brother were out there all week before I got there, so we were able to spend Easter all together (we missed you Ben!).  So in other words, this is a post where I tell you all about my weekend.  If you could care less, might as well stop reading now.  I won’t be offended, promise.

Brynn

I love spending time with my brothers when I can, there is something special about sibling relationships.  We can all pretend we are kids and just be goofy, stay up watching stupid TV shows, beat up on each other and laugh until we come close to peeing our pants.  I mean… who wouldn’t want to hang out with this too cool 16 year old?

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I have to tell you about my flight in on Thursday night though, it was so fun.  So, because I forget every time to check-in 24 hours before my southwest flight, I almost always end up with a middle seat all the way at the back of the plane.  Which is totally fine, I’m not afraid of sitting between strangers.  There I was walking through the aisle desperately scanning for an open seat and the flight attendant ahead of me motioned for me to come towards him as he had found me one.  It was in the middle of two guys who I guessed were around my age both with heavy country accents.  So I sat down, and within 5 minutes I knew this would be a fun flight. The guy to my right was fresh out of college and his first comment to me was “Did you know they serve alcohol on flights?  How awesome is that? I am totally going to get drunk! Are you going to get drunk?!”  Oh boy.  To be young again. Ease up killer, its an hour flight.  The guy on my other side was extremely polite and pretty quiet at first.  By the end of the flight, I am pretty sure every one surrounding our seats hated us.  I don’t think I have laughed that hard in a while, I don’t even remember half the crap we were talking about but we just kept laughing.  I also found out that the nice country gentleman to the left of me was good friends with THE BAND PERRY! Which is one of my favorite country bands! How cool is that?! I know what you are thinking.  He was probably lying, I thought the same.  But he showed me a bunch of pictures on his phone of them together, super cool.  He also claimed to have some kind of hunting TV show on A&E?  Who knows.  In any case, they were both very nice, made for a very humorous flight and I have no idea what their names are. I love meeting people, it’s my favorite.

Friday night my family and I just hung out at my brother’s house most of the day and then I made a yummy dinner for everybody.  I love cooking for people, that is also my favorite.  I made chicken breast stuffed with cheese, spinach and tomatoes.  For a side we had grilled veggies and a simple spinach salad.  They were pleased, that made me happy.

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Saturday, my parents dropped me off at one of the local Crossfit gyms.  I figured while I was out there, I would give the 13.4 open workout one more try. This week, the workout was a progression in threes of a 95#  clean and jerk and toes to bar.  Let me preface by telling you that until I tried this for the first time on Thursday at my home gym, I had never cleaned or jerked that much weight…like ever.  So I was already super intimidated by this workout, as I am with pretty much any Olympic lift.  I can swing my toes to a pull-up bar all day, but I struggle with putting that much weight over my head.  With help of my coach at home, I completed a pretty pathetic 11 reps but I was excited to get a PR.  I was hoping that after doing it once already and then having the pressure of being at a new gym would motivate me to get more reps, but I just could not get the movement right.  Lots to work on before next year.  It was frustrating and humbling workout but I am glad I gave it another go and was able to check out Montgomery County Crossfit, really great people!

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After that workout I hit a trail for a ten mile run behind my brothers house that was BEAUTIFUL.  I swear I do not belong in Illinois, I belong somewhere where I can run in regional parks and trails on a daily basis.  Oh and this trail I was on also had these little fitness circuits every half mile! How awesome is that?? There were rings and bars for pullups/dips, benches for step ups, stretching devices, you name it.  Way to go Maryland, way to go.

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That night we took a drive to go walk around the inner harbor in downtown Baltimore and of course have some seafood, YUM.

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Sunday we went to my brothers church, which was a really cool experience.  My Brother and Sister-in-law are both deaf and they go to a deaf baptist church near their home.   There were announcements, prayers, hymns and a sermon just like any other church but of course all done in sign language.  Super cool.  I was so blown away by this church, they do not have an actual ‘church’ to hold a service in, so they use the property of another hearing church.  All of their services are done in this little trailer on the Church property and that thing was PACKED!  It was a very powerful service, enjoyed every minute.  I couldn’t help but think of all the fancy churches I have seen with their basketball courts and huge facilities etc.  All great of course, but in my opinion THIS is what it is really about.  None of the fancy stuff, just a room where people can come together and celebrate God. You don’t need more than that. You could feel the strong community of these people the second you walked in, it was awesome.  I am so happy that my brother has a community like that to surround his family with.

Overall, it was a good weekend.  I was of course sad to leave Brandon, Bethany and Brynn- but I am crossing my fingers we will seem them again soon.  Ready to get back to the grind this week 🙂

Stay blessed in the mess!