Vacation.

Hello Friends!

Well, vacation is over.  I feel rested, I feel re-charged and most importantly I am TAN!!  It turns out that being tan does loads for your self confidence… I wore bright pink spandex shorts to the gym yesterday, who am I?  Anywho… as I mentioned to you before, I am usually not a big fan of beach vacations.  Mostly because they usually involve a lot of drinking which I am not good at and a lot of laying around, which I am also not good at.   But it has been a really busy few months so this was actually EXACTLY what I needed.  A whole lot of nothing, I even got through two books!  Shain needed it more than I did, so it was even better to see him enjoy it.  He is such a work horse it is almost unbelievable.  There will be weeks at a time when he is gone at a trade show and he will come home on a midnight flight and be back in the office plugging away before 8am the next day, without a single complaint.  One of the many things I love about him.  But I could tell all the travel especially was really wearing on him, and he deserved some serious R&R and got it!

I of course did manage to find a local Crossfit on Memorial Day to visit which was awesome.  Boxes across the nation were doing “Murph” on Memorial Day and I did not want to miss it.   It is a Warrior WOD dedicated to a solider, but this one has an especially remarkable story to it.   The workout is:  1 mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, 1 mile run.  It is a burner to say the least.  I was on my last round of pullups when I looked down and realized my left hand was covered in blood because I managed to tear my not so built up yet calluses.  I actually told myself that I should probably cut the pullups short to avoid further ripping, but then I remembered what our soldiers endure, I remembered what “Murph” endured and I remembered the whole reason I was doing this workout.  One little cut is the least I could push through to honor those who have served and are serving.

I wish I could tell you about all the other exciting things we did but this is pretty much what every day looked like:

6am-ish:  Got up and ran along the beach…

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8am-ish: came back to get everybody to go to the coffee shop down the street…

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9-12: Hang out/read by the pool which was right outside our condo…

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11am-ish:  Make lunch in the condo and then spend the rest of the day on the beach…

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5pm-ish:  Hit up a local restaurant for dinner (they were ALL AMAZING)…

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8pm-ish: Go watch the sunset and just walk along the beach…

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The night pretty much always ended with some kind of delicious dessert, my personal favorite was the mini chocolate peanut butter donuts.  Holy cow.  Totally worth the shooting pains in my tummy after.  No really, they were worth it.

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Then we would usually leave our friends out (who are much more fun than us and actually act like they are in their twenties) and we would be in bed by 10pm.  I know, I know we are lame.

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You know how I know this was a great vacation?  Because on the last day, I got up for my sunrise run and when I finished I just sat on the beach by myself for a little while.  I stared out into the crashing waves and waited for my usual train of thoughts to come pouring in for me to sort through.  Silence.  Not one thought.  Not one concern, not one thing weighing me down.  My mind was clear and open.  I smiled to myself and took the beauty in.

 

 

 

Choices.

Life is full of choices.  Some are more difficult than others.  And sometimes we wonder if we made the right one.  How do we know if we are on the right path and making the right decisions?  It’s hard to say, but I tend to follow my gut, talk about it with loved ones, pray about it..whatever I have to do.  Sometimes I make the wrong decisions, but that’s life.  Gotta keep moving.

This week has been filled with some serious emotions as a result of some choices I have had to make.   As many of you know, I am a busy bee.  Always have been.  Ever since I can remember, my life has been a balancing act.  Growing up it’s how I coped with stress, emotion, etc.  This carried on into my young adult life.  When I graduated from college,  I was lucky enough to land a job here at AU within months.  Despite my luckiness, I still had a considerable amount of student loan debt.  Probably more than the average Joe.  So, I continued babysitting, training clients,  (and pretty much every random part time job you can think of) on the evenings and weekends in order to get ahead.  I also lived off peanut butter & jelly, yogurt and canned black beans.  Yeah…don’t ask.    Didn’t really think it was that big of a deal to be honest, just how it was.  Work, work work.  Don’t worry I had my fair share of fun too, as it turns out I didn’t need much sleep back then.

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When Shain and I moved in together 3 years ago, things started to shift.  And I don’t just mean the shift of living with a stinky boy.  I WANTED more time to just be home (despite the stink), I didn’t want to be gone 16 hours out of the day.  But, I still had bills to pay so nothing really changed and I kept plugging along and not thinking much about it.

Within the last year my responsibilities here at AU have increased significantly, there has been more need for me to come in early, stay late, etc.  Then, I decided to enroll in a graduate program.  Things became harder and harder to balance.  When writing my “about me” section of this blog back in December and talking about working two jobs, one as an admission counselor and one as a personal trainer I said something along the lines of “I know someday I will have to choose one, but now is not that day”.  Well, that day came sooner than I thought.  Within the last few months specifically I have been really stretched thin, 40 plus hour workweeks, 20 plus more hours personal training and weekend classes really made me realize that I am indeed NOT Superwoman.   Dang, I really liked her outfit.

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And if I want to maintain my happiness, which is very important to me, something had to go.  After wrecking my brain about what to do, lots of conversations with Shain, I had finally decided I had to cut back on personal training.  Over the course of the last 3 months I have let go of 8 clients- which is roughly 12-16 hours a week.  This has been really hard.  I know I am letting people down.  Meanwhile, new client inquiries still come in (that I of course say no to) and makes me wonder…am I making the right choice letting this go? If this is something I am good at, am I doing the right thing?   Of course this has always been a great supplemental income that allows me to save money, but more importantly it also is a huge passion of mine.  However, the more I learn about myself this year the more I realize where my #1 passion lies and that is with students.  Health and fitness is a HUGE part of who I am and I love inspiring others, but working with students is what makes me feel alive.  Plain and simple.

That of course  does not make this choice any easier.  People have depended on me to help them fight through this journey of being healthy in a society that is not and now I have to let them go fight on their own.  I love all my clients, there was not one single one that was easy to let go.  Not one.   This past week was the final week of a booked training schedule, I do feel a little relieved…but my guilt and sadness are winning out right now.  I know this is better for me, for my career, for my relationship,  but it is still tough.  It is time to let go of the Jill that always has to be busy and runs around from one thing to the next on a daily basis.  It is time for the Jill that when a friend asks if I want to go grab a cup of coffee, or any other spontaneous event comes up I can finally say…why yes, I have time for that.

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To my wonderful clients, you know who you are.  Thank you for your understanding in all this, I know that you are all strong enough to continue this journey on your own, I have an incredible amount of faith in you (stop crying, Joan!).  You have made it so far, don’t give up now.  With my extra free time I am hoping to be able to post more workouts, healthy eating tips, and then of course my usual life stuff to help you along this challenging yet rewarding journey to be healthy, get after what you want in life and of course to find the blessings in the mess 🙂

 

 

 

 

Do you care what I did this weekend?

Guess WHAT?! Only 4 more days of work until we leave for a much needed vacation! Whooppeee! We have been trying to take a trip every Memorial Day weekend since we get the bonus Monday off.   Also, because Shain travels so much for work we can usually get our flights free with all his points.  Last year we had an awesome trip to Colorado, however he requested that our next trip involve no activity other than sitting on a beach… LAME.  So we booked a trip with some friends to Siesta Key, Florida and despite the fact that there will be no hiking up mountains, I am still excited.   We have both had a pretty stressful couple of months so this will be a great way for us to kick back and just relax with friends.

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Friday evening walk by the river

This weekend was busy but good.  Friday night was the Crossfit 1 year Anniversary party, tons of fun.  I even stayed until 11pm…I know I am such a party animal.  Although, as it turns out people that I workout with cannot recognize me without a headband on which is kind of hilarious.  Yes I am capable of not looking like a child sometimes I swear.  I loved that I was finally able to make a social event and get to talk with other people who workout at different times than I do.

Saturday morning, my pup and I rose with the sun to do an 8 miler, this turned into a 6 miler as it was a little too humid for him.  Wyatt usually  helps me push the pace but he was struggling, looks like the poor guy’s  running days are done for the summer until it gets cool again 🙁   I then headed to AU for our first Freshman Orientation of the year! This is one of my favorite events.  I love seeing all these students walk onto campus absolutely terrified and excited all at the same time, such an exhilarating time for them.  I  am always slightly jealous that they are just starting college, I would love to go back to that day.

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Do you see why I LOVE the 5am hour?!

After the long day of Orientation, Shain’s mom and I went to go meet with our potential wedding caterer- eek!  Nothing set in stone yet, just had lots of general questions about the different options.  This wedding planning stuff is for the birds, so overwhelming.  It will all work out right?  Then we went to Cobblestone Bistro and had some yummy food and REALLY yummy wine.  Of course because I  had one glass of wine I went home and pretty much passed out before 9pm.  Told you…party animal.

You know what game I am terrible at? The “don’t eat all the trader joe’s dried mangoes pack in one sitting” game.  Awful. I fail every time.  600 calories in 45 seconds, UGH SO GOOD.

Sunday was nothing special, went for another run ( I usually do not run this much but remember the part about me going on vacation in 4 days?), trained some clients, did some cooking, cleaning, etc.  Finished up the day with a graduation party of a close family friend, she is a DOCTOR now no big deal.  I have smart friends.

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Annnnnnnnnd Shain comes home from his business trip tonight! I swear he has been on like a 100 this year.  It’s like I am living the single life again, except for the fact that when he is not home I pretty much go to bed at 8pm every night.  Wild.  Thank goodness he will be home for a while now, I don’t have to worry about an axe murderer coming into the house.  No, but seriously this is what I think about when trying to fall asleep by myself.

Happy Monday friends, stay blessed in the mess! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year of Crossfit.

On Monday May 7th, 2012 I walked into Crossfit Oswego for my first ever elements class.   I was terrified.  I am an athlete, I love challenges, I love working out.  But I was afraid for many reasons:

1.  Will I fit in here?

2.  Will the coaches be nice?

3.  What if I am terrible?

I love trying new things, I love that butterfly feeling when you are going into something in which you have NO clue what the end result will be.  I thrive off of that, but I was still scared.  I didn’t even want anybody to know I was a “trainer”,  for fear I would be judged for not being as strong or as fast as I should be.   As I walked into this big industrial building that everyone calls “the box”, I kept an open mind and hoped for the best.  The coaches were incredibly welcoming, excited and get this…NORMAL people. This  put ease to my anxiety right away.  The first three elements classes went over basic Olympic movements and other exercises commonly done in a crossfit workout to make sure everyone knew the proper form, technique, etc.  Right away from the first workout, I was hooked.  I knew this would be exactly what I needed.  I was coming off of doing many endurance races so I was in shape, but I needed to get stronger, to be challenged more and in a different way.

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First day of Crossfit- needed a band to help me get over the pullup bar

Not only have I been beyond challenged, gotten faster, gotten stronger…but I have found this beyond amazing community.  That is what makes it addicting, the workouts are awesome yes but the people…are incredible.  Inspiring to say the least.  I consider my 530am crew especially to be close friends (hope they feel the same, if not then I am a little pathetic).  The coaches,  Ryan, Joe, KT & Andy all have very different  styles and I think I can speak for everyone when I say each of them have very special talents in their ability to push and motivate others in their own way.

Everybody has to find something that works for them, an exercise or fitness routine that they love.  Crossfit CAN be for everybody, but it is not for everybody.  Personally, I hate when other crossfitters say things like “My warmup is your workout” or I saw a shirt recently that said “Boot-camps are cute, when you are ready for Crossfit, come see us“.  Shut the hell up.  Get off your high horse.  I get that you are proud of what you are accomplishing but doing Crossfit does not make you better than anybody else and demeaning other people’s workouts just makes you a tool.   In my opinion, those are the people that give crossfit a bad name.  Whether you bike, Zumba, do yoga, Pilates, walk, run…does NOT matter.  As long as you are moving, doing your body good, and enjoying it in the meantime.  That is what’s about.  THAT is why I love CFO, none of us have the “higher than thou” attitude.  I mean half the time we look like total idiots.  You know like when trying to do a double squat wall ball and it hits you right in the face.  Or when doing a box jump and…you completely miss the box.  Or my personal favorite…doing double under attempts and somehow slashing yourself in the face.  Yup, we are a bunch of cool cats alright.

Just a couple things I have made progress on since starting Crossfit a year ago:

  • I actually have muscle tone in my upper body and my strength has increased significantly.
  • Shaved over a minute off my consistent 5k time, 10 minutes off my half marathon time and 33 minutes off my full marathon time (hoping for more)!
  • Can finally kind of see my abs (well except for the weeks I eat too much pizza or other naughty foods).
  • Can do 7 consistent strict pullups (goal is 15 by the end of the year).

So since it is  the official 1 year anniversary of CFO opening we are all celebrating tonight like most crossfitters do… doing a ridiculously long (yet awesome) workout followed by eating lots of food and drinking lots of beer, duh.

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Here is to many more years ahead!

Happiness is…

What makes me happy?  The little things in life.  Not nice clothes, not a fancy car, or any of the “finer” things.  Those give you momentary joy that fades.  I prefer the consistent and permanent kind of happiness.

 

Happiness is…..

waking up with the sun…

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working out with an awesome group of people at Crossfit Oswego…

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biking along the beautiful  fox river to work…

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…and taking self portraits while biking (and I wonder why Shain always worries for my safety)

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 getting to work an a beautiful college campus and serve students…

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planting flowers in my yard…

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and having them turn out like this…

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Happiness is…

lazy Sundays with my boys…

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walking down to the Farmer’s Market…

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grabbing coffee and a treat at the Village Grind…

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cooking up new recipes with Farmer’s Market finds…

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Happiness is…

sitting on the back patio…

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wine with friends…

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helping someone run their first 5k…

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and just running in general…

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obnoxious headbands that make me look like I am 12 (but I don’t care, I love them)…

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being surrounded by nature…

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Go find YOUR happiness, stay blessed in the mess 🙂

Culture of Excess

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Back Porch Sitting

The more I take in the world around me, the violent tragedies, the broken families, the crashing economy, the rapid growth of obesity, diseases, etc. the more I realize that our society is creating our own future doom because of our culture of excess.

Culture of excess… what do I mean by this?  It’s quite simple, we do too much, we spend too much, we eat too much.  We pay little attention to the things that matter and lots of attention to the things that don’t- which results in the society we have created today.

Please know that the examples I give below are general and are no reflection of one specific person, there are plenty of things I need to work on with this as well.

I see much of this first hand in families today.  I know I am not a parent yet, so I realize there are many things to learn yet about that world and the challenges it brings.  However, I was a nanny for several different families for almost a decade.  I am not just talking babysitting for a parents night out, I am talking full on almost 24-7 childcare.  I adored every single family in different ways.  Want to know what I noticed the most?  Parents or myself constantly running from one thing to the next.  School, dance practice, piano lessons, basketball practice, agility camp etc.  Meanwhile you have the majority of parents that work now right?  So usually they come home after an exhausting day of work and then continue to rush their kids around to a million different things until they have to rush them to bed to do it all over again the next day.   This usually results in McDonald’s for dinner and perhaps a lot of meltdowns or yelling at each other because you are all tired, and have had no time to decompress the day.   So you can’t blame anybody for feeling agitated.  Often times I see discipline is the first thing that goes out the door, which is a crucial part of parenthood that should NOT be ignored just because there is no time or energy for it.  I get it, we want our kids to have all the opportunities in the world, to be the best they can be, to have more than we did and not to mention EVERY other kid is involved in all of these things right?  But there are serious consequences of that.  If we are too busy to teach our children manners, respect, discuss the world with them, ask about their day, teach them about serving others, allow them time to reflect, decompress, cope with issues, or heck just allow them time to be kids…they will have serious  problems functioning well into adulthood.

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Many of our younger generations have serious issues dealing with life and with their emotions.  I see this at the high school and college level…A LOT.  When they have a conflict at school, with a friend, do poorly in a competition, it seems that they have serious trouble knowing how to handle it, how to deal with their feelings.  Why?  Because we never give them a chance to. They barely have time to breathe, yet alone deal with their emotions.

This is not just for people with families,  In general I think we are too busy.  Lord knows I am extremely guilty of that.  I had a really pivotal moment a few weeks ago that made this all come to a crashing halt for me. I was driving home from AU, on my way to train some clients and of course I was running a little behind.  I had all these things on my mind of what I needed to do, homework, laundry, pick up Wyatt’s medicine, get groceries, return that friends phone call, etc.  You know how it is, the list goes on and on and I don’t even have a family yet!  As I am driving down a side street I notice an elderly man trying to get his dog who seemed to have ran out of the house.  The dog was trying to play and run around with him but the older man was very growing very frustrated and could not keep up.  He kept calling the dog to come back and would get so close and the dog would run away again.  I could tell the man was not very mobile and was really struggling.  A very clear voice in my head said “Get out and help him.” but then another voice said “But I’m already late, he will be fine right?”.  Needless to say I did not get out and help him and man did God wrestle with me on this one.   My guilt tore me apart for weeks.  Am I really too busy to be a good citizen?  To help somebody out?  If I am too busy to do my due diligence as human being, something needs to change. That is NOT acceptable.  I have serious changes to make.

 

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More time to snuggle with my pup

Being busy has become a societal norm.  It is one of the reasons fast food and processed food have reaped havoc on our health.  Nobody has time to cook.  We are too busy to think about our spending, and end up with a house full of crap we don’t need and credit card debt high enough to feed a starving small country.   We are even too busy to deal with our emotions,  so we bottle them up and then wonder why later our lives seem to be falling apart.

This culture of excess MUST stop.  We have to take control.  Control of our finances, control of our health, control of our families, control of our minds.  Maybe that means we can’t do everything, or be everything to everybody.  Maybe that means we can’t be the best.   But that’s okay.  Because in the end, we wont be so busy that we miss that man you pass by that needs help or miss precious time with our family.  We will be happier people, better citizens and in turn, put this world back on the track it was meant to be on.

 

 

 

 

Jill’s Laws of Happiness

So remember how I told you a couple posts ago that I have my own “Happiness Laws” to live by?  Well this is a post where I tell you about them.  I know, what a great intro, I am so creative.

So here is the thing, we all know for the most part what we enjoy doing, what makes us happy, what we hate doing, what puts us beyond our limits, what our obligations are, what we don’t have to do etc.  But sometimes, life is crazy.   So what happens when life gets crazy?  We start to forget what makes us happy and spend too much energy on just getting through the day by day tasks.  Then before you know it, you are exhausted and miserable because your happiness tank is running on empty.  That is no way to live a happy life, it is important to remind ourselves of our boundaries otherwise our quality of life suffers, our work suffers and people around us suffer.  Having your own personal happiness laws is a great way to constantly ensure that your happiness tank is full with things that are important, that are key to YOUR success and what you want for YOUR life.

I got this idea of Happiness Laws a few years back when I read the book, The Happiness Project.  It is a great light read and I highly recommend it.  The author used these to help keep herself in check, she called them something different that I cannot remember but I liked Happiness Laws better.  You can name yours whatever you like 🙂

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Jill’s Happiness Laws

  • 8 hours of Sleep is non- negotiable

Many people can function on little sleep, I am not one of those people.  I have tried to to function on less, but I turn into a rampant 3 year old.  With all the races I train for and my busy schedule- my body needs the 8 hours.  I RARELY get less than 7 hours of sleep a night.

  • No workout=Crabby Jill

Working out makes me happy, it is my release, it is my hobby.  When I don’t do it I am crabby, so even if I am on a recovery day I will do yoga, take my dog rollerblading, something to get me moving.

  • Do not schedule something on consecutive weekend nights

With adding school onto my plate, it is even more important than ever to not book up my weekends.  So if I have plans for a Friday night, I will try my best to not plan anything at all for Saturday so that I have at least one night to decompress or catch up on homework, house chores etc.

  • 30 minutes of journaling/reflection/praying each day

This is key to my mental health.  When I don’t take time to reflect or talk to God, I miss out on some serious feelings or thoughts that are trying to tell me something important.

  • Avoid Sugar

I love sweets, but the problem is that sugar is a total gateway drug for me.  Some people can have one piece of chocolate and kick their sweet craving for the day, if I have one piece of chocolate it turns into 5 pieces and then a trip to the Dairy hut and then maybe some Portillo’s Chocolate Cake…all in one day. The cycle just gets worse.  So I aim to avoid processed sugar at all costs unless it is a cheat day/cheat meal.

  • Clean Eating at least 80% of the time

Eating healthy and clean makes me happy, makes me a better athlete, makes my skin better,my energy levels better, keeps my badonka donk in check, the list goes on.  So even though every one around me might be indulging and giving me the “you can afford to eat this” guilt trip, I know what works for me personally and for my body, so it is important to stick with with it.

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  • One date night with Shain a week

Yes, Shain and I live together.  But it is CRUCIAL for us to have at least one night a week where we are spending quality time together by ourselves doing something outside our house.  Otherwise he is just this random guy I happen to live with who gets my on nerves (naturally I am perfect and never get on his nerves…duh).  He travels a lot for work so that makes it tough but our relationship is a priority and needs time to be fostered  just like anything else.  Sometimes this date is as simple as hanging out at  Barnes and Noble and getting some coffee, actually that is pretty much what we always do for our date.  Nerds.

  • Staying out late= missing a workout=crabby Jill

Pretty self explanatory, I cannot hang with the night owls.  Took me a long time to own up to that.

  • Aim to do important tasks before 11am

Morning is my time, I love it.  I am the most productive and the happiest then, after lunch is when I struggle.

  • One cheat day a week

When I am on a roll of super clean eating, I make sure to have a least one meal a week where I can cheat but no more than that.  Again, I do not do well with a “little cheat” each day, I am an all or nothing kinda gal.

  • Speak only if you will add value

I am a chatty Cathy, but I need to work on reigning that in.  So I am constantly trying to be conscious if I am talking just to talk, or if I am adding value.  Words used to gossip about others or judge others are not a good use of words.

  •  Kindness always wins

There are moments when I really want to put somebody in their place, when somebody is being rude, disrespectful etc.  I always always try to “kill em with kindness”, even if it means sucking up my pride and eating a big slice of  humble pie in order to do so.  I have a side personality that tends to come out in these situations, my friends like to call it “street Jill” but whenever that side of me comes out, I feel awful afterwards. Even if a person deserved it, it is never worth it afterwards.  Respect and kindness always win and in the end that person will appreciate you much more for helping them see a different side in a kind way, not by being rude right back.  Can’t kill disrespect with disrespect.

  • Less is more

I have really learned the hard way that the simple life is the key t0 happiness, still working on this one.

  • Plan Ahead

By nature I am not an organized person.  Just ask anybody that lived with me during or before college, my room was always a disaster.  But after I graduated I decided I was sick of losing things,  running late etc.  So I plan like crazy.  I plan my meals for the week, I plan what I am going to wear, I pack my food the night before and I plan out my tasks.

 

7-steps-to-happiness

So there you have it, they are nothing special but these “laws” are something I always  come back to when I am having a rough time.  Usually, when my happiness tank is running on empty it is because I am not following my laws.  I have quite a few more, but these are the main ones.  Your laws are going to look different than mine as you have different things that are important to you and that make you happy.  But I recommend giving yourself a guideline to keep yourself on track.  Maybe it is something simple, like never making plans on a Friday night because you usually are exhausted.  Or maybe it is 20 minutes a day of playing on your guitar.  Not checking Facebook all day.  They can be whatever you want, look at what you are spending your time on and figure out a way to put some more things YOU want in there and fill that happiness tank back up!

 

 

 

Post-Paleo Challenge

I bet you were wondering what ever came of my Paleo Challenge a million years ago, huh?  Sorry it took so long, we did not get the official results until a few weeks after it was over and then well..April happened.  My bad.  Please be kind to me as I am putting half naked pictures of myself up here okay?

So, despite only cheating once on a sushi roll…I did not WIN the Paleo challenge.   But I definitely came out on top in my own mind.  Since starting Crossfit a year ago, I have experimented with Paleo recipes often, but never went full on strict until this challenge.  I have always believed in clean eating, staying away from processed foods and having the majority of my diet be fresh fruits, veggies, lean meat, etc.  The only thing I was consistently eating that was not technically Paleo was greek yogurt and granola.  It is my staple, I have had greek yogurt with granola and strawberries everyday since I was 14.  No but seriously, everyday.  Sometimes more than once a day.  It is my favorite.

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I do not eat much bread except for the occasional bagel with Sunbutter/Nutella on the day of a distance race, so I knew that would be easy.  But to give up my YOGURT? AHH.   I knew that would be tough, but I was willing to see if it yielded any results.

One of the biggest things I noticed on the first week of this challenge was how much I was eating.  We had to record every single thing we put in our mouth and I realized that I eat as if I am constantly training for a marathon!   Since I was eating good things like fruit and veggies I never really put much thought into it, but when looking at my food log and realizing I had 12 servings of fruit in one day! What can I say I love fruit.  So the hardest part for me was limiting my snacking and not doing it so mindlessly, regardless if it was good food or not.

Giving up yogurt was tough, but limiting my snacking to one in between meals was harder.

At the end of the 30 days, I ended up losing about 3 pounds, an inch in my waist and an inch in my thighs.  Might not seem like much, but I definitely felt leaner and my muscle tone came through a little more.  Although when looking at these pictures, it is kind of funny as I really look no different.  I actually showed these pictures to Shain and asked if he saw a difference and he said “Well…your hair is down in one and up in the other?”  That Shain, what a Smarty Pants.

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I did go back to eating my yogurt after the challenge, which resulted in a week of really bad stomach pains.  So I decided to switch to coconut milk yogurt as anything that causes that kind of pain in my stomach I do not want to consume anymore. Again, was not a big bread eater beforehand so nothing really changed there.  In the past year since learning to incorporate more meat especially into my diet, my energy levels have seriously sky rocketed.  Not to mention my strength and speed in my workouts have increased as well.  So I am hooked.    However, I still preach the 80/20 rule.   If I am craving pizza on a Friday night, it’s happening.  Life is too short to be 100% Paleo- even if it makes you feel like you are having an alien baby afterwards.

In the year of doing Crossfit and the somewhat Paleo lifestyle, my body has changed in many ways.  I am a little thicker in my butt and thighs than I would like, but I know it’s because of all my strength gains so I cannot complain.  The first place I put on weight is in my lower half ( the Italian curse), so it is really important for me to eat as clean as possible in order to keep that in check.  You know, like not eating an entire tray of brownies or an entire family size bag of sour patch kids, or a whole pizza.  Who does that?  Not me, stop judging.

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Voice in my head.

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Last weekend I went on a much needed girls trip to Nashville, it was SO fun.  Nashville is probably the only place on earth where I enjoy staying out late and drinking alcohol.  Live country music everywhere, how can you not? My two friends and I signed up to run the Country Music Half Marathon, which is pretty much the best race ever.  It is usually warm out, there is music and people having a good time the whole course.  Except for this year, it was down pouring and barely broke 50 degrees, yuck.  I went into this race not wanting to wear a watch and worry about a pace, I just wanted to enjoy the environment.  At the same time I wanted to see if I could comfortably run ‘Boston qualifying pace’ without knowing it.  To qualify for Boston I need to be able to run at least an 8:15 minute mile consistently for 26.2 miles.  This weekend my time was a 1:41:30 which is about a 7:44 pace.  I felt great but I  still had way too much energy the last 4 miles.  So even though I know I maybe could have given a little more, I was super pumped to know I am right where I should be in terms of my pace.  My goal for the summer is to get my half marathon time into the 1:30’s to practice being more comfortable with the sub 8 pace for distance.

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This past weekend I had another half marathon here in St. Charles and my plan was to run it with my speedy Ironman friend, Mike (and see if I could keep up).  Typically, I like to start my pace out 15-30 seconds slower for the first few miles and then gradually pick it up and finish strong.   Mike is a pretty strong and consistent runner right out of the gate, so I knew it would be a little bit different than what I am used to and definitely a challenge.  I stayed with him until about mile 10 when I really started to die off, still finished with a PR of 1:40:22 but not in the 1:30’s as I would have liked.  I am not sure if I need to learn to be more consistent, or if I should stick with my usual gradual increase as that is usually when I feel the strongest.  I have A LOT of kinks to work out before the Chicago marathon this fall.

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My biggest challenge, is the voice that likes to rear it’s head when things get tough.  I am not just talking about when I am working hard, I always work hard, I always push myself.  It’s that next level AFTER you have pushed, after you think you gave everything and you still have more. It is that level that if you breach it, it’s going to hurt, it’s going to be scary.  You athletes out there know what I am talking about, it’s the threshold you have to cross before great things happen.  That little voice comes up and says things like:  ““You sure you want to do this? This hurts, let’s just slow down…you’ll still get a good time.  Wouldn’t you rather enjoy the last few miles?  You’re not that fast/strong, stop kidding yourself.  You don’t feel like doing this right now. Just give up.”

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I know I can be a good athlete, I know I have not even come close to my potential.  It actually pains me to think I have just now realized in my twenties what my true athletic capabilities are.  But when this voice comes up, I freak out.  It happens when I am pushing extra hard in a race and it happens pretty much every  workout in Crossfit.  So my biggest challenge this year  is going to be learning how to tell that voice to shut the h*ll up.

Why do we second guess ourselves so often?  Why do we think we are not capable? Why do we stay in our safe zone?  We are all more capable than we think.  Maybe for you it is not trying to run fast, maybe for you it’s a challenge you face at work, a task or project you don’t think you can handle.  A personal issue you can’t shake, addiction you can’t break.  A presentation you think you might bomb. Pressure to be a good parent, a good student, to do the right thing.  All of us have that stupid nasty voice telling us we are less than worthy.  I think it is time we put it to rest, start to really realize our true potential and get after what is rightfully ours.  Don’t you think?

Why I love my job.

Man guys, I am POOPED!  This has been the craziest month and week ever!!  All awesome things, but exhausting none the less.  I was in Nashville last weekend for a much needed girls trip and of course to do a little running in the country music half marathon.  I actually wrote a whole blog on my trip already, but I shall post that later this week.  Oh!  I ALSO received my Paleo Challenge pictures and results back, so I will be posting about that too!

More importantly though, I want to talk to you about one of my favorite events of the year that just happened this week, the annual Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling Conference.  This is a conference where all the high school college counselors, guidance counselors and admission counselors come together and collaborate on how to better service our students.  I always come out of this conference on a high with different ideas and energy to bring back to my office.  This is also a great chance for people to let off some steam after a very stressful month.  My staff and I at AU have been busting our butts and are on track to bring in yet another record breaking class, so it was great to take time and celebrate with them.  I pretty much love my staff times a million, they are some of the most hardworking, dedicated and fun people ever and I am so incredibly blessed to be able to work with them.

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Keep in mind that at this conference are many ‘competitors’ of AU, other schools also trying to bring in their class, just like we are.  But you see, it’s not really like that.  I cannot tell you how many times I have had a conversation with a student who is not a good fit for AU… do I still try and recruit them?  Absolutely not.  If we do not have a program for them,  or we are just not the right fit I will get on that phone right away and call a friend who is at Depaul, Augustana, NIU…etc.   And I will give that student their contact information.  Sure, sometimes my director gives me the look when I do this but here is the thing, it’s not about me It’s about the student, always.  No exception.  I would not be able to lay my head down at night if I did it any other way.  I am not a salesperson, I am not a recruiter, I am an Admission Counselor.  My job is to present AU in the best way possible to the students that are meant to be here and counsel them through the process.  Sure, I get sad when I lose a deposit or a student who I have been working with since they were a sophomore tells me they are going elsewhere, but I feel more excited for them, than sad for me.

I have come to realize why I love my job so much, why I just am so enamored by high school students.  Even they have so much opportunity ahead of them, these students are also hopeless and lost in a sea of choices.  When they step into my office, that is unfortunately sometimes the first time anybody has ever taken the time to listen to them for 30 minutes, as opposed to telling them what they should be doing.  They just want to be heard.  I love that I get to listen to them because I remember feeling like that as if it were yesterday.  It does not matter if you have the perfect home life, perfect grades, perfect friends etc.  Being that age is overwhelming.  Many of these students are so overwhelmed with the choices ahead of them that they shut down and stay in their safe zone, which many times results in missed opportunities.  I get to spend time with them, get to know them and help them to that next step of the unknown, which can be very scary.  Sometimes I am the gatekeeper to the other side of amazing possibility, even if that other side is not Aurora University.

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My whole life I have always wondered what my one god given talent is and if I am following the right path.  I am “good” at many things, but struggled with what I am “great” at.  Am I using the abilities I have to truly make a difference?  The amazing people within IACAC  make me more sure every day, that I am indeed in the right place.  IACAC has this wonderful tradition of lifting people up, showing them their worth and recognizing hard work.  Without this organization I would not be where I am in my career today, no question about it.   Because of the wonderful friends and mentors I have encountered at IACAC who have told me to sign up for a committee when I had no idea what that entailed, who have encouraged me, offered me constructive criticism, and pushed me to be better at my job and move up within my institution- I have realized what my “great” talent is.  I can connect.

What does that mean? I have had the ability since I can remember to make friends anywhere.  To get a complete stranger to open up about their life story.  To turn someone who I was pretty sure hated me, into a best friend.  To make somebody in a horrible mood, laugh.  I don’t do this on purpose, it just kind of… happens.  I have realized I am good at my job because students feel comfortable with me, which as a result allows me to help them be their best self.

I am on the right path, I am in the right profession, I am making a difference.  I would not have realized the magnificence of that without IACAC.

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