Fitness magazines: RANT ALERT!

And now for another episode of  “What grinds Jill’s gears”!  Also known as, things that really piss me off.  Aren’t you so excited?!  Don’t let my bubbly and annoyingly happy personality fool you, I can get pretty ragey for a small person.

So there is a certain fitness/health magazine that I have been a loyal reader of since I was 13.  I even have a huge binder full of recipes, exercises, good articles etc. that I have kept adding too all these years.  I have always loved this magazine.  Except for the last 2 years, I think I have maybe saved 5 articles total.   It seems now that it is filled with fads, fluff articles and is loaded with advertisements.  In the July Issue I just received yesterday,  they had the “2013 Snack Awards” where they research what good snacks are on the market right now and make a running list of ones they have approved.  The qualifications for a good snack in this article are:

200 or fewer calories
No high-fructose corn syrup
0 grams of trans fats
No more than 3.5 grams of saturated fat
No more than 400 milligrams of sodium

Okay, this is fine.  But what really pisses me off is most of these snacks are PACKAGED AND PROCESSED.  I mean really, these are the “BEST” snacks?  Apparently fresh fruit and veggies are no longer considered good snacks?  Or maybe they are too obvious to put in a “best snacks” article, I think they at least deserve an honorary mention?

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It also pisses me off that they give us no ingredient lists on these (yes I know I could look them up individually) but knowing what is IN the food you are putting in your mouth is important enough to share in this kind of article.  In the few that I checked out, the ingredient lists are monsters.  Just because it says “all natural” or “healthy” on the label does not mean crap.  No really,  it is all a marketing ploy.  Healthy food is not granola bars and packaged crackers that are under 200 calories.  I dare you to eat one serving of these things and be satisfied,  DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU.  Things like this will almost never fill you up.  So then what, oh I will have another serving it won’t hurt.  Then before you know it you have eaten a whole meals worth of calories on crackers, or granola bars.  But they are healthy right?  No.  Real food is healthy.

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Don’t worry, I am not going to go all Paleo on you and I will not yell at you for eating bread.  But what I will tell you is that if you stick to CLEAN eating, you will see results.  Food that has less than 6 ingredients in it is considered clean, food that does not have words in the ingredients that you cannot pronounce.  I have always been into healthy eating but since I have become a strict clean eater a few years ago ( I allow cheats mind you, I am human)- my skin is clearer, my weight is more stable, I am leaner, my workouts are better and my energy levels have gone through the roof, THROUGH THE ROOF.   The proof is in the pudding, friends.  Stop getting your snacks in the middle of the grocery store and stick to the outside aisles or go to the Farmer’s Market for goodness sake.  THOSE are where the best things to eat will be.  You will be fuller, you will be more satisfied and you will be taking better care of your body.  Don’t fall into the “all natural” packaging, take a look at the ingredients, it is the only part of the package that will speak the truth. 

Sadly, just because a “health” magazine or a package tells you something, does not mean it is so.  Common sense= stick to food you prepare yourself.  There are of course exceptions here and there.  However I must warn you, these are the things that might happen when you become truly serious about clean eating:

  • You will be the minority.  Sad but true.
  • You will need to order off the menu sometimes and people will think you are ridiculous.
  • When you go to parties, celebrations, BBQs etc.  half the food there will not be healthy for you, if not all. Cheese dips, Nachos, mini-subs, things with lots of mayonnaise seem to be popular.  So be prepared and be the one who brings the good stuff.
  • Most people do not understand portion sizes, so when they look at yours they might think you have an eating disorder ( I am pretty positive number of people that eat around me think this)
  • On the times where you DO treat yourself to some ice cream, birthday cake, greasy burger etc.  You are going to appreciate it and savor it so much more.

You have to remember, this is not a commonality.  Again, it is sad but it is true.  Most people have no idea what eating good is like (hence why obesity is an epidemic) but they will be the first to rag on you for trying to make good choices.  It is a constant commitment that will be challenged every single day.  Let people judge, let them scoff at you for being “one of those healthy people” because you know what?  If you keep it up, you will feel better, look better, become better at everything you do and they will be jealous.

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We see articles all the time about “How to lose 10 pounds this week!” or “Bikini ready in just 10 minutes a day!”- LIES LIES LIES.  If I could get a bikini body in ten minutes a day I think I would be considered some kind of  circus freak.  Doing crunches before bed is not enough, having a healthy and active lifestyle is.  Don’t fall into the fads.  Feed your body good things and exercise 3-5 days a week.  It really is that simple.  I did not say it was easy, I just said it was simple.

Rant over:)




Wedding update…sort of.

So it turns out Shain and I have been engaged for 7 months today, what the HECK!? Where did the time go??  I don’t know how you rock-star brides out there planned a wedding in a few short months because I have been doing nothing but dragging my feet.

On top of that I have people saying to me, but Jill don’t you want your wedding to be unique?  Don’t you want it to be different?  It HAS to be perfect, you know.  It is the most important day of your life!  Everyone has to remember it! BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH.  That is how I feel about that.  Perfect Shmerfect.    As long as everyone is eating, drinking and dancing that is all we care about.  End of story.

I just want to marry Shain.  I want my close friends and family to be there and have fun.   And I don’t want it to cost a million dollars.  Is that so much to ask?

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So in all seriousness, here is where I am at right now.  We have the place, which is basically a big beautiful backyard that we get full reign of.  We will be getting married under a big oak tree and putting up a tent for the reception/dancing/dinner.  My biggest item of stress right now is our catering menu.   We are not going crazy and spending a lot of money on decorations, photography, flowers etc.  The majority of our budget (seriously like 95%)  is going to food and drinks, yet the numbers are quite frankly still putting me in shock.   Even with a bunch of corners we are cutting, it is still insanely expensive.  I would love nothing more to tell you that I will plan a decent size wedding  for under 10 grand, I am fighting like hell to make that happen but let me tell you it is NOT easy.

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Managed to scoop up 60 mason Jars at a garage sale for 20 bucks. Woot! Centerpieces, check.

When we originally did our guest list, there were close to 400 people on it.  Not kidding.  I wish could tell you that some of these people I could care less to have at our wedding or are friends/family I don’t talk to often and can easily cut off the list, but that is not the case.  I have a really big family with lots of close family friends, church friends, etc.  Yes, some are cousins I only see once a year but it does not make them any less important to me.  I want all of them there, honest to goodness.  But we just can’t.   I don’t know any other way to make this wedding  more reasonable than cutting down the guest list.  I just hope people are not upset with me,  I hope they understand.  Right now we are at almost 300 people which still makes me nauseous.

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For all of you out there who have already gone through this….what did you do to cut costs? Any catering recommendations you have had good experiences with for an outdoor wedding? I am pretty set on our caterer as they are very reasonable, but there is still time to be open to new ideas 🙂  Please share!

Oh and did I mention I am going to try on wedding dresses this weekend?! OH MY GOD AHFASJKFHASJKFHASKFJHASJKFH.  That means this is really happening huh?  Snap.


Life is good.

I know it is already Wednesday and the majority of you are already looking forward to the coming weekend but I need to tell you about my awesome amazing wonderful weekend I just had.  So, since making the very tough decision to cut back on training clients- it has been such a huge blessing.  I am able to actually focus my time on my schoolwork, be better at my job, not miss any workouts and overall I am just happier and less stressed.  When things don’t go right during my day or I am running behind, it doesn’t bother me as much.

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Our pots are really starting to pop! Yay!

Being able to leisurely bike to and from work without rushing has been great.  I can come home, eat some dinner, take Wyatt for a walk, maybe go train a client for an hour and then still have the rest of my night to read, spend time with Shain, work on homework, etc.  It is awesome.

One of the best parts of this is having my weekends back.  The grad class I am currently in for the summer is online, so even though it is much more work,  I can do it on my own time and do not have to give up an entire Saturday.  And now that I do not work on Sundays anymore, it has turned back into the day Shain and I get to spend time together and do fun things again.

This past weekend was perfection.   Friday night Shain and I went to a friend’s new house and had a BBQ with some of my old high school pals who I barely see anymore, it made me miss them so much.  We just grilled out, had some drinks, nothing crazy but it was super fun.   Saturday,  we woke up early like we do (even though we had nowhere to be) and I was able to get all my cleaning/laundry done, take Wyatt on a  nice long walk down the river, with of course a stop at my local coffee shop; all of this before 9am!!  It’s the little things, right?  Later that morning I headed out to Utica for a baby shower for my good friend Jess, she is getting so big!  Yet still managing to look adorable of course.  Cannot wait to meet this little girl.  It was so great to see her and catch up with her awesome family, who I adore.

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Later that night, Shain and I headed out to Prairiefest which is a big hometown festival in Oswego, always a good time.  We wandered around,  listened to some music and then met some of his friends at the Tap House to watch the Hawks game (bummer) and stumbled on home 😉  I love that we can pretty much walk everywhere we need to go in Oswego.

Sunday was the best part of the whole weekend for many reasons.    First, I did a 5k with my Dad and Step-mom which just makes me happy to share running with people I love.  Second, I FINALLY BROKE 21 MINUTES!!  I have been stuck in the 21’s for 2 years in my 5k’s and I ran a 20:20 this week!!  I seriously wanted to scream, it made me so happy.  I am improving, getting faster, getting better. It gives me such a huge confidence boost that I really CAN be a strong runner.   If I can sustain this time in my next couple 5ks, who knows I may even be able to break 20 minutes one day.  That would be insane.  Despite the PR, it was not fast enough to catch the first overall girl who finished in 19:28, holy fast!  I was honored to even be able to keep her in my eyesight the whole race.

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I have good genes right?

Right after the 5k,  we all walked down to the Oswego Family Diner and had a good old hearty breakfast.  So yummy.  Naturally we made the usual stops at the Farmer’s Market and Antique shop.  It was so fun to spend the morning with them in the little town we love so much.

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The rest of that day Shain and I spent at his parent’s house hanging out by the pool in their beautiful backyard and eating good food- typical Diaz Sunday.  I seriously could not stop smiling all weekend, no stress, just quality time with loved ones and fun.  That is what I am talking about.  Life is good.

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Why I am running Chicago 2013.

Chicago Marathon training is HERE!!

This week was officially week 1 of my training program, I cannot believe it is here already.  I am ready  to work hard and do big things this year.  This will be my third time running the Chicago Marathon, yet this one will be extra special.  I am not just running for fun and because I like the torture of 26.2 miles,  I am running with a purpose.  Not just one purpose, but two.

First and foremost, I am running to raise money for a charity that I love dearly, Girls on the Run.  It is a non-profit organization with a mission to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident. Using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running, the innovative program combines training for a 5K event with interactive lessons that encourage positive social, emotional, mental and physical development.   For all you ladies out there, you remember how rough the middle school age can be with insecurities, false sense of beauty, pressures of society,  pressure from friends, etc.  This program ensures that all girls who are involved, get a better sense of themselves, what is really important and how beautiful they are inside and out.


I so badly would love to be a coach for this program, but my work schedule does not allow.  So, I give back by running for them and raising money to keep it going.  Being an athlete growing up taught me so much and helped me work through many of the issues girls face today and for that I am so thankful.  Without running and sports I would not be who I am today.

If you are interested in donating to my cause, my fundraising page is now OPEN!  Check it out:


The second reason I am running the 2013 Chicago Marathon is: Boston.  It has been a long time dream of mine to be able to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  A dream I honestly and truly thought was never in my reach, but was fun to think about.  Last year I finished my marathon in 3:53 and I literally felt like I could go 10 miles more, it was insane.  I remember Shain saying to me “You didn’t push hard enough, you should not feel this good.”  He was right.  That is when I knew I had the capability of really digging deep and going for Boston. What would I have to lose?  My goal up until this week was to keep my endurance high, so that when week one got here I could hit the ground running with pace runs and speed work.

During the last mile of almost every run I have visualized myself crossing the finish line at 3:28.  I am not quite sure why that number popped in my head but that is the one I will continue to train for, manifest and visualize.  I know I can do this.  I know it might hurt.  I know it means I will sacrifice many fun “conversation pace” runs with friends, but the idea of qualifying gives me chills.

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Call me crazy, but when the 2013 Boston Marathon was bombed this year, it magnified my desire to want to be there times 100.  I will show the world the spirit of a true runner.  You can’t keep us down.  We will prevail, we will push through and we will conquer.  If I don’t make the 3:35 cutoff,  I know I will have at least been out there for the right reasons and giving it my all.  This is my way of  paying respects to those who were affected by that terrible day, I will run with all of them heavy on my heart.  When the pain starts to get to me, when I am too tired, I will think of those girls will low self-esteem who need the GOTR program.  I will think of the precious 8 year old boy who was waiting for his Dad at the Boston finish line and lost his life.  This may be a goal of mine but this race is so much more than me.  It is much bigger.  Here is to 4 months of some serious hard work ahead.








Yesterday a client of mine had her first ever triathlon in Naperville.  10 weeks ago I gave her a training plan and we got to work to get her ready.   She was scared, she was nervous and there were a couple times that she asked me “do you really think I can do this?”.  Now, let me tell you something about Jackie.  I have mentioned her before, she is nothing short of inspirational.  She has overcome so much struggle in her life yet you would never guess that when you spend time with her.  She is an eternal lover of life and her successful career, family and personal life is a result of her ambition and positive attitude.

This race was not just a triathlon, it represented yet again that she cannot be held down when she sets her mind to something.  This particular race is also associated with Team Hope, which is an organization that raises money for Cancer research.  Jackie is a two time cancer- survivor so as you can imagine, this race also represented much more.

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Right before the swim start, a young lady whom was a four time survivor of pharyngeal cancer and laryngeal cancer geared up to sing one the most beautiful national anthems I have ever heard.  Keep in mind, someone once told her that she would never sing again.  Boy did she prove them wrong.  As I was listening to her beautiful voice, thinking about all that she has overcome to get here and thinking about my own family members that I have lost to Cancer- I cried tears of sorrow but also of thankfulness.  I then looked over in that moment to see Jackie and all the other women in the Cancer Survivor wave (they all donned pretty purple swim caps) despite not knowing one another, they all linked arms and cried during the majority of the anthem.  I will not pretend to know what it is like to have Cancer, so I can only speculate what was going through their heads in that moment.  My best guess is that they were probably crying tears for all those years of struggle, tears of fear that it might come back but most of all tears of gratitude.  Gratitude that they were here, that God gave them another breath.  And now they were going to use that breath by challenging themselves in a triathlon.  I felt so honored to be able to witness that moment, to see the true image of what gratitude looks like.  

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This life is a gift, friends.  A privilege.  The more thankful you are for it, the opportunities will come your way, sometimes out of thin air. If you are constantly consumed by what you don’t have, you will continue to never have enough.   Every single one of you has something to be thankful for.  EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.  Are you reading this blog?  You have sight.  You have the ability to read.  You have the breath of life.  The breath that is taken away from so many when they are not ready.    I cannot even describe the kind of amazing things that will happen to you when you live a life of gratitude.  When you stop wanting, comparing & lusting.  You have everything you need, right here, right now, in this moment.


Are you listening, really?

One of the key components within my master’s program is learning how to become a better listener.  This is something I used to pride myself in.  As I am learning, I am not as good of a listener as I thought I was and it is very humbling.  The good news is I am working on it.

Think about a recent conversation you had with somebody, a co-worker, a friend, spouse etc.  As they were talking, did you interrupt them?  If not, were you thinking about what your next statement would be? Were you thinking about your to do list?  If there were any thoughts at all running through your head, you were not truly listening.


We are all guilty of this.   As I touched on a few blogs ago, we are a culture of excess.  We multitask in everything we do, even within our thinking.  We move a million miles a minute and that has turned us into terrible listeners.  We sometimes are such poor listeners that we miss out on an obvious cry for help from a loved one who needed us… because while they were talking we were thinking about something else.  We must shift. We must close our mouths and open our eyes and ears to the voices and non-verbal communication around us.

The more I practice this and study it in different seminars within my graduate program, the more sensitive I am now when it is happening around me.  I have to admit,  there are meetings at work or social outings  that I have become so uncomfortable in because all everybody is doing is interrupting each other, having side conversations, not paying attention etc.  This of course accomplishes nothing and just creates this culture of disrespect that everyone deems as normal.  There is no doubt that I used to do the same and still am working on changing my bad habits.  It is our nature to want to talk about ourselves and tell our story, we all have great stories.  The problem with that is, you do not succeed or gain respect by telling everyone how awesome you are.  You do that by listening, by lifting others up, by putting others before you.  By SHOWING your character, not talking about it.  People do not always remember what you say but they always remember how you made them feel.


Next time you are in a group setting, think “2B4U”.  2-voices-before-your voice.  Let others talk, ask them questions, when you give them your full undivided attention they will in turn give you theirs.   Don’t interject with a “me” story, don’t look at your phone, LISTEN with your eyes and ears.   Sure, they might ramble on but that is okay.  It is our nature, and you and I are both guilty of rambling  if we are given the chance.  But think about the last time someone was TRULY interested in your weekend or a project you were working on or your kid’s baseball game.  Didn’t that make you feel great and valued?  Didn’t you think a little higher of that person because they took the time to ask you how things were going?  And actually listened and cared?!

Another part of this is negative talk or gossip. It drives me nuts.  Don’t start gossip.  Don’t say something negative about another person, no matter what the circumstance.   Even if it is as simple as “Did you see her outfit? I would never wear that.”  What good or value did that statement bring by being said outloud?  Zero.   I have learned that the concept of “those who gossip with you, gossip about you” is 100% true, and sadly it seems worse in adulthood.   There have been numerous conversations I have had even with close friends that go down a negative path and my mind cannot help but wonder….what do they say about me?  It certainly hurts my heart because I know it is probably true.  We are all vulnerable in someway, we all have weaknesses and often we spend so much time pointing out others’ shortcomings instead of working on our own.

Don’t you want to be remembered as the person who stays above that?  The person whom nobody has anything negative to say about you?  I hate to say it, but if you are constantly judging and talking about others…chances are people might not always think very highly of you.  It does not mean you are a bad person, it just means you can afford to be more self-aware.  Gossip and negative talk screams “I am insecure”.  You will not get ahead in your life that way, I promise you.  You will get ahead by praising and supporting others.  You will get a head by listening.

key to success

 Stay blessed in the mess 😉

Why do YOU run?

Happy National Running Day!

 Many of you know by now that running is a huge part of my life and has been for a very long time.  It all officially began going into my Freshman year of high school at the ripe old age of 13.  I had this great idea that my friend Nicole and I should go out for the high school cross country team.  Now, keep in mind Nicole had to be pushed into this a little.  She ran in middle school but was totally over it.  But alas, after lots of begging (A LOT)  I convinced her to tag along because I wanted a buddy.  No big deal, she was in the top 7 right away, went to State a couple times and ended up getting a D1 running scholarship to Central Michigan University.  That worked out well right, Coley?

I did not want to go out for Cross-country because I was a good runner. I was not even in the least bit fast, like at all.  I just wanted to “get in shape” for soccer and more importantly meet new friends.  That cross-country team taught me more in 4 years than I could have ever imagined.  They became my family.  I learned how to be a part of a team.  I learned how to be a leader.  I learned (the hard way at times) how to be humble.  I learned how to keep pushing when things get tough. And most importantly, I learned that there is so much more to the world around me.  14 years later and running still teaches me new lessons everyday.  It lets me clear my mind on an otherwise busy day.  It is my meditation, my outlet.  But of course there are SO many other benefits to running…

I run to spend quality time with my best friend…



and other friends…



and to meet brand new friends…

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I run so that I can splurge on treats here and there…

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I run to keep my dog in shape…



I run to keep my badonka donk in check (no really)..



I run for Charity…



I run to prove myself…

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I run to appreciate nature…

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I run so that bathing suit shopping isn’t so terrible.

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I run well…because it’s FUN!

Why do YOU run?!






Holy awesome weekend.  It was the first weekend in a LONG time (aside from vacation) that I did not work or have class. WHAT? So weird.  This whole “relaxing on the weekend” thing is a completely new concept to me and doggone it I LOVE IT!  I know I was a tad bit annoying to  Shain this weekend since he is used to being solo for the majority of the weekend.   I kept being like “Whatya doing? Wanna go for a walk?  Wanna go ride our bikes? Whatcha thinkin’ about?”  At one point he very kindly (bless his heart) said to me….”Jill, I love that you are home and all, but you need to chill out a little”.  Hahaha, whoops!

Saturday morning I ran in the Walter Payton Foundation Sweetness 5k in Yorkville and I WON! I was a little disappointed as I did not even come close to a PR, but I suppose a win is a win right?  Gotta keep pushing, keep getting faster.  I still cannot believe I am capable of winning a whole race, this is something I am not used to.   I never used to think of myself as a fast runner, ever.  Once I made the mental switch and told myself I AM CAPABLE , things changed.  I have Crossfit to thank for a lot of that.  It just goes to show that if you set your mind and put in the work,  great things will happen.  We are all more capable than we know. I am slowly but surely pushing that fear and doubt aside that has kept me from reaching my potential.

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After the race I rushed over to the train station (sans shower, eew) and headed into the city to meet up with some peeps from my gym to watch Crossfit Regionals.  I literally ran from the train station to Navy Pier which was supposed to only be 2.8 miles…but turns out I got lost and ended up running 4. Whoopsie daisy.  Good thing I was going to an event to watch people workout because I was a sweaty mess.

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Watching these athletes was so incredibly inspiring.  The caliber that you have to be  to even qualify to compete in the regional games is insane.  You need the balance of strength, flexibility, speed, and endurance.  Just one of those or a few does not cut it.   One of the coolest parts of watching the games is seeing that these athletes have moments just like the rest of us.  Those moments when all you can do is stare at the weight you are supposed to pick up.  Those moments when every muscle in your body is throbbing with exhaustion.   I also loved how in typical Crossfit fashion, all the athletes ALWAYS cheered on and encouraged the last one to finish, no matter how tired they were.  That’s what it’s about.

Sunday the plans I had fell through so Shain and I had a whole fabulous day together.  We slept in, got breakfast, read the paper, did our usual cleaning and other chores.  Then we headed on down to the first Farmer’s Market of the season! YAY!

We also stopped by the local antique shop  got some cool ideas to set up for the wedding. Then…we took a nap.  WHAT?  I know.

Later that afternoon we headed over to the Diaz household for my all time favorite meal that Nikki makes- Chicken Enchiladas. OHEMGEE. They are so good.  Paleo Shmaleo.

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I love hanging out at their house, they have such a beautiful backyard.  In the summer we spend a lot of time over there hanging out in their pool which is awesome.  Wyatt also LOVES going there because he can just run like crazy through all the land.  How awesome is this shot of him running mid air?  I thought for sure he was going to plow me over right when I took this. This guy has some serious speed and agility.

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What a great weekend, little fun, little relaxation, some productivity.  This is how it is supposed to be right?  It is amazing how much more energized and refreshed I felt this morning coming into the work week after I actually took time to do things for myself this weekend.  I don’t ever dread going to work by any means, but I certainly have felt drained coming into a Monday.  Today was different.  I felt fresh.  I felt rejuvenated.  I felt ready take this week by the horns.  Even if it is for an hour or two this week, take sometime to do something for you.  Step away from the rat race and fill that tank up!

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