More fun.

Since I graduated from college, I have fulfilled the void of no longer being an official “athlete” with training for some kind of race every year.  I always loved the summer before a soccer season, blasting the Rocky soundtrack in my ears and dreaming about the kind of athlete I always wish I could be when in the gym, working on my ball skills or running up the stadium stairs at the crack of dawn.  When I graduated from college and no longer had a season to train for, I filled it with triathlons, 5ks, 10ks, half- marathons, marathons, etc.   It filled that void just fine.


Despite the amount of work  that was required to run these races, I still never trained for time.  I just did the miles I had to, sometimes at a slow pace, sometimes at a fast pace.  But I had no intention of “racing”, just getting out there and enjoying myself and doing better than last time.


However,  in the past couple years, I began to get a little more serious, I wanted to push my boundaries a little farther.  So with that came a lot of sacrifice. Even though training is my own sick version of “fun”, I missed out on a lot of other fun because I had goals in mind.   It wasn’t about just getting in the miles.  I had to get them in fast.  I had to hit the hills hard, I had to hit the track hard and I had to hit the weights hard.  I also had to do this while maintaining graduate school and 60 plus hour work weeks.  It is safe to say that for the most of 2013,  I have been absolutely exhausted.

This year took a lot out of me physically and emotionally.  This year also brought upon a whole new level of Jill “lameness”.  I barely had a drop of alcohol or ate anything bad.  I did not stay up late often and I missed out (and was crabby for) a lot of fun events because I was tired, and needed to preserve as much energy as I could for that 15 mile pace run coming up… or that 2 hour long track workout etc.


Shain often gets dragged into this as well.   If we are at a friends house or out and about somewhere, I am usually the one tugging away at him so that we can go early.  Sometimes he would rightfully put up fight, but most of the time he appeased me despite if he was not ready to go.  The guilt would always get to me.  Why couldn’t I enjoy myself for once?  A couple beers isn’t going to hurt me.  Why can’t I ever be fun? Why did Shain have to suffer and leave his friends just because I have a hard workout tomorrow?  I tend to become obsessive with my goals, sometimes to the point where it is not healthy.  And I want to change that.   I want to be more FUN.

I am not saying I will be up until 3am every weekend and doing keg stands, I never have been able to drink much or stay up late even in my college years.  But I want a better balance.  And now that I do not have a race on the horizon for a while, I am ready to let loose for a little bit.  I spent this past weekend in the city with my best friend, time with her is always so valuable to me, and it made me realize that I need to do stuff like this more often.  I need to spend time fostering my relationships and having FUN.

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It has been roughly 3 weeks since the Naperville Marathon and a little over a month since the Chicago Marathon.  My body is still not recovered.  I took a week off and expected that I could just jump right back in to my crossfit/running routine with out a problem, I even signed up for an indoor soccer league.   But I have been struggling.  My body still feels so broken.  Doesn’t help that my heart is still very broken too.  I know I just need time.  Time to let my body, heart and mind heal so that when 2014 comes, I can hit it hard again.   I have a plan that I know will get me where I need to be.  But for now,  it is time to let go and have more fun for once.

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂


Recipe Roundup!

It is that time of year when the mornings are dark and cold, you feel extra exhausted at the end of a work day and junk food and your couch seems SO much more appealing than something healthy and a workout.  Ah, Winter.  I don’t know about you but I am DETERMINED this year to not let the winter blues get the best of my healthy habits.  I suppose having to look good in a stupid expensive white dress this spring for all my friends and family to awkwardly stare at me has something to do with that?  Hard to say.

In the summer months I am pretty strict with my workouts and eating, more strict than normal.  Perhaps even borderline obsessive some would say.  I don’t want to go that extreme, after all the best parts of the winter for me are indulging in some holiday treats and having lots of wine with good friends.  But I still am planning on sticking to my “no sweets” except for Turkey Day and Christmas rule.  Need to keep my sweets in check.

A friend recommended doing a recipe round up of all my favorite recipes to share with you.  What a fabulous idea!  Thanks Dee 🙂  So I hope this inspires you to cook up something good this weekend.

I must forewarn, nothing I make is my own recipe.  Unless you count yogurt, granola and strawberries as original, doubtful.  I get 90% of my recipes from my two favorite blogs and and the rest from Pinterest.  I wish I could tell you I come up with everything on my own but…ain’t nobody got time for that.

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In terms of meal planning, every Sunday I cook-up TWO meals that I can put in containers for the week.  This week was White Chicken Chili and then a concoction of chicken, brown rice, pesto, spinach and almonds (that was kind of a last minute throw together, no real recipe).   Then during the week I make 1-2 meals right after work, depending on my schedule.  If I am not going to be home much during the week , I will just made 3-4 recipes all on Sunday.  But we always have food ready to go in the fridge for a meal, no excuses.2013 Cont. 159An all time favorite, and always a hit at parties/events is MEATZA!  Yes, pizza with out the bread.  Stop judging and just try it.  It is amazeballs.


You know how as a kid when your mom made meatloaf and you were like UGGHHHH NOT MEATLOAF!  Turns out we did not know what we were missing.  Now I totally understand why this is an awesome go to meal- it is SO EASY.  Check out a variety of my favorite meatloaf recipes here.

Picture 005For all you pasta lovers out there, fear the carb belly no more.  You must explore the awesomeness of spaghetti squash.  It tastes just like pasta (better in my opinion) but way better for you, it is a vegetable!  You can do something as simple as mix it with some olive oil, smidge of butter and Parmesan cheese or you can check out some other awesome Spaghetti Squash options that I love (Chicken Alfredo is my fave).

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A Sunday breakfast favorite in our house is Bacon wrapped eggs (bacon is not as bad for you as you think people,  cool your jets).

Picture 034    And then sometimes I get really lazy (mostly when Shain is traveling for work) and I literally just cook up some meat and veggies and throw a couple eggs on top..everyday.

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  Planning is EVERYTHING.  If you don’t set yourself up right every week, it will be so much easier to grab fast food, throw in a pizza but when you PLAN all you have do is make the choice to eat it, the work is already done.  Don’t let the winter pounds get you!   Besides, when the weather is dreary on the weekends, it is actually kinda fun to spend a couple hours playing around in the kitchen with some good music 🙂

Stay blessed in the MESS!




I won’t lie, I have not always been a big fan of Christmas.  Not because I am a scrooge, quite the opposite in my opinion.  It is such a wonderful holiday to bless others, spend time with family and give thanks for the reason we are here- Jesus.  Whether you consider yourself religious or not, does not matter.  Holidays are about love and family, you don’t need to believe in God to appreciate that.  But that is not what this country celebrates.  This country celebrates Christmas with THINGS.  Things that are shiny, things that are green and red, things that we do not need but it is CHRISTMAS so we buy them.  We spend our hard earned and saved money on gifts that most people will either return, re-gift, or never use.  Why?  Will those relationships falter if you don’t buy them something?  Will the world come crashing down if somebody doesn’t have a present to open on Christmas morning?  Of COURSE NOT.  So why are THINGS so important to everybody this time of year?


Don’t get me wrong, I love buying people gifts.  It is actually one of my favorite things to do.  I love finding that PERFECT gift for somebody.  Maybe the gift is $10 dollars, maybe it is $50, maybe it is free- just depends on the year and what I find.   But I like putting thought into my presents to other people, not just buying them something because it was on sale for a dollar on Black Friday and I had to punch out 4 people at 3am to get it. Again, I love the idea of exchanging gifts, but I have always felt it was not done right.


But then again, is shopping for families who are less fortunate all the same?  We are still buying them stuff they don’t need after all right?  This is something Shain and I do every year and it is one of my favorite traditions of ours, so I suppose I am hypocritical in that sense.  But knowing I am buying a few fun things for a child who otherwise would not have anything, makes me feel better than buying something for somebody just because  I “have to”.

But alas, it is impossible to be with somebody like Shain, and not LOVE Christmas, even with it’s faults.   My family has always done Christmas up pretty good, but the Diaz family…whoa.  They don’t mess around.   They have introduced me to so many fun traditions that I now cherish very much.  Being around Shain this time of year,  is literally like watching a little kid.  Despite not even being Thanksgiving yet, we have had Christmas radio on in the car and house non-stop.  If it were not for my pleading, Christmas decorations would have been up weeks ago.   He loves Christmas SO much that on actual Christmas day he becomes very sad and mopey, because it means the season is almost over.  I am not kidding people.


So despite me feeling conflicted for many reasons about this time of year, the joy and excitement of it are inevitable.  I still don’t agree with the the “stuff” part of Christmas, but I can get behind the anticipation of traditions with friends and family and watching movies like Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life and Christmas Story a million times over.   I encourage you to really think about how you approach this holiday season- I am not saying we should boycott gifts all together, but there needs to be more than just gifts.  Take your family to a soup kitchen, volunteer to sponsor a family, go Christmas Caroling or maybe just spend more time doing nothing with the ones you love most. If you are going to buy a gift, make it matter.  If not, just take that person out for coffee instead.  Relationships that are built upon fond memories are stronger than those built upon things.

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂



Season of SUGAR.

I have never been so thankful for November and December.  And that is saying something, because I HATE the cold.  But after 9 months of a strict diet, intense workout schedule and craziness at work…I am really looking forward to some downtime and being able to enjoy a glass of wine without the guilt of an upcoming long workout looming over me.


I am also excited to get back into a regular Crossfit routine and get my strength and muscle tone back.  Running a ridiculous amount of miles is great for how my jeans fit and all but I just feel scrawny and weak.

What I am NOT looking forward to is the fact that the “season of sugar” is officially upon us.  And the season in which my self control is no where to be found.  After every Holiday season it takes me months to recover and kick my sweet cravings, because I get such an overload over the holidays.

“But Jilllll you workout.. you can afford to have ONE cookie!”  You are correct.  But one cookie leads to 4 cookies which leads to pumpkin pie and then maybe some fudge and then some more cookies…all in one sitting.  I don’t think even a marathon would cover the amount of calories I consume daily during this time of year.  Which is why I have decided to not eat ANY sweets over the Holiday season except for on actual Thanksgiving Day and actual Christmas Day.  I am very relieved by this decision, actually.  I can enjoy some special things on the special holidays instead of constantly gorging myself and then not being able to fit into any of my clothes and have my skin look like I am going through puberty all over again. NOT happening.  MUST STAY STRONG.


It is so easy to get caught up in the “But it’s the holidays!” thought process and allow yourself a treat every day.  Co-workers will be bringing in non-stop sweets, holiday parties are every weekend- where does it end?  Don’t get sucked in!  It is the worst to start the new year feeling crappy about yourself and your holiday weight.  Don’t let all the hard work you have put in go to waste! Give yourself ground rules to follow, maybe only sweets once a week, or at a party.  You know yourself better than I do.

For me personally, when I allow myself a sweet every once in a while I enjoy it SO much more.  I actually savor it.  When I don’t give myself any rules, it is just a free for all.  And I find myself eating things I don’t even like.  What the what?  Waste of calories!!  But that is what sugar does to you, it makes you CRAZY!  It is evil.  I hate you sugar, but I love you, but I hate you.   I won’t let you win this year!  But I love you.

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂





Naperville Marathon, oy vey.

Man oh MAN.  This week has officially kicked my behind!

As some of you know, I ran the Naperville Marathon yesterday.  Apparently I took some kind of crazy pill and thought it would be a good idea to run another marathon in a matter of weeks.   I was not signed up for it all along, the opportunity just kind of was presented to me within hours after the Chicago marathon (by some seriously awesome people in my life who believe in me more than I believe in myself).  Although I had my doubts, when this opportunity arose I really truly wholeheartedly believed that this was my chance.  I believed that this was why I didn’t hit my time at Chicago, that this is what God planned all along.  I seriously would have bet a million dollars on it, that is how much I believed.

napervillemarathonIn the 4 weeks in between the two races I did a few long runs at pace and even a track workout and felt great.  This is gonna be it, I thought.  It will all work out.   On race day morning, I felt giddy and excited but not nervous at all.  Shain was giving me his usual pre-race pep talks (they are the best)…I felt so ready.

My legs certainly did not feel fresh having just run a marathon 4 weeks prior, but they felt good.  I can do this.  It will happen today. Then I hit mile 19 and it all went downhill.  And by downhill I mean uphill.  This course was constant hills, it was insane.  I always thought that if you trained properly, you shouldn’t hit this so called “marathon wall”.  But yet again, I hit it and I hit it hard.  My friend Steve who was helping me pace had quite the job of keeping me going, if it were not for him I probably would have called Shain at mile 23 to come pick me up and bring a bag of Sour Patch Kids and a McFlurry while he was at it .  The pain in my legs was tremendous.  I actually cracked the side of my I-pod slightly because I was clenching it so tightly.  I kept telling myself to leave it all here, don’t have any regrets, this is my chance.  But I just could not pull through.  3:37:45

The heartbreak of letting myself down for a second time was pretty rough.  As I met some close friends and family at the finish, I could not help but sob.  I have the best support system, I really do.  And they were all quick to get me back into perspective.

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Am I telling you all this so that you can feel sorry for me?  HECK no.   I will be just fine.   I have to remind myself of how far I have come over the years.  I could make myself sick thinking about all I could have done differently.  This is just a race and I must keep moving forward to my goal.  When I qualify for Boston I won’t be in excruciating pain, I will be able to smile as I cross the finish and I will make it in plenty of time.

2013 Cont. 127I chose to not put up the pictures of me grimacing in pain or sobbing while running, you are welcome.

I think sometimes we think things are “meant to be” or we think we are following the right path, but often we are just on our own agenda.  Just when you think you have it figured out God spins you around in a different direction.  Sometimes we just have to have faith.  We have to just trust in that higher power and trust that things will work out how they are supposed to.  They might not be how we envision, But it will always be better.  Better than we could ever imagine.  Keep working hard and keep the faith.  Never ever give up.





Do you ever wonder what other people say about you when you are not around?  If not, you should.  I know that might be contrary to popular belief.   I am talking about being aware of what kind of person you are to the outside world.  What kind of person do you hope others see you as?  Is that the kind of person you actually put out there?  I am sure you have heard the question- what will people say at your funeral?  Will they have to make up positive things about you?  Or will they be able to say the truth?

2013 Cont. 117When at a friends house a week or so ago, we were talking about another mutual friend.  Things were said like “she is such a good listener, such a hard worker,  always happy, she just loves being alive!”  What a wonderful way to be  talked about.  I thought to myself  after we were talking about this about the kind of person others see me as.  Is it the person I would hope to be?  Do others say positive things about me when I am not around? Or do they complain about me?  Do others see me as a good person?  I hope so, but I also know better.

My nature is to be happy, friendly and positive.  But I know that is not what I always put off.  Before entering into my Servant Leadership Grad program, I always thought this is what others must think of me…because it is what I think of myself!  A very immature thought.

A now good friend of mine once told me that in college, she was certain that I did not like her.  Whenever she would see me on campus and say hi, I would apparently not acknowledge her.  I remember her telling me this and just feeling so heartbroken, how could somebody think that of me? I don’t dislike anybody! I felt so terrible for making her feel that way.   But the times I saw her, I was not being very self aware.  During that period of  my life, I had many things weighing on me.  So even though that is not an excuse, I know that during that time I was not portraying the real Jill.  The Jill that would welcome anybody’s hello and make friends right away.  Thanks for being my friend anyway, Kay 😉

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When taking a self-evaluation  a little over a year ago, it deemed me with the characteristics of: open, approachable, energetic, friendly.  But within that same survey, it cautioned me of things that I may very well  be PERCEIVED as:  boastful, talks too much, poor listener.

That was hard to read, but necessary as I knew that often times that was true. Despite those not being the things that I was trying to get across, it doesn’t matter as that is how I was perceived.  I needed to work on those things.  I can be positive and friendly without being over the top and chatting too much about myself.

Also by nature, I am a very emotional person.  I can get emotional and cry and the drop of a hat- I take after my mom that way.  I can get emotional from a card I read, a song I hear or sob while reading a book about a fictional character.  I also get very emotional when OTHER people are going through things, almost as if I am going through them myself.  I am not just talking being sad, I am talking body shaking, welled up eyes, and lack of concentration and on the verge of a panic attack- it literally effects my whole being. That being said, I have always had a very hard time controlling these emotions.  I have a hard time watching movies where there are stressful situations (movies like Meet the Fockers– literally give me anxiety attacks) and I especially cannot watch movies or read books that are sad (Michelle has been trying to get me to watch My Sister’s Keeper for YEARS- can’t do it without having to take an emotional vacation day at work).


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This has been a part of me, every since I can remember.  And while some people might think this is a wonderful quality,  I often times despise it because I have trouble controlling it.   So somewhere down the line, I decided that I would mask it as much as humanly possible.  I developed this happy and bubbly persona (which is still natural) and stuck with it all of the time no matter what I am really feeling.  Many times if I am having a rough day or going through a very hard time, even my close friends and family would never even suspect.  I would like to think I have become a master at it.

However, I do have moments of weakness.  This past week at work, I had a conflict with another employee.  I don’t typically have conflicts ever with anybody unless it is absolutely necessary to hash something out.  But I approached another colleague about a situation, that I felt was handled in the wrong way and opened up a discussion about it.  And I thought, I had approached this very softly and respectfully.  But that employee did not feel so and became very upset with me.

Later on during a meeting about this situation, the same employee used words such as “disrespectful” and “unprofessional” to describe me.  This hit me right at my core.  Respect is a really big thing to me.  Huge.  I believe you treat everyone with respect no matter what the situation.  This employee and I had a great rapport up until this point, so I felt hurt and angry that those words were being used.  I felt my body reacting, my heart rate sky rocketed, my body started shaking…oh no.

In that moment, in a meeting with two of my superiors. I could not get it together.  I could not speak clearly. I could not defend myself or discuss the situation.   I could not keep my eyes from welling up like a little girl.  I kept asking God to keep me calm, but I was far from gone at that point.  All I could think about were those words.  After that meeting was over, I felt awful and embarrassed.  I do a pretty good job of keeping my emotions at bay, but in that moment I could not get my points across with out looking like an idiot.  Additionally, it tore me up to know that someone felt that way about me.  But it was also a very humbling experience that I needed.  It showed me that I still have much work to do on myself.

Really think about the kind of person you show to others.  More often than not, it is probably not the kind of person you want to be seen as.  It takes a great deal of self-awareness and not to mention an ego check to realize you have some work to do.  But it will make you a better person in the end.


Stay blessed in the mess 🙂



A clear mind.

So often, as we move through the hustle and bustle of life, it is difficult to keep an open and clear mind.  I know that the busier I am, the more clouded my mind can be- which then turns to me feeling stressed and anxious constantly.  I used to think I operated best this way, “I just like being busy!” “I love the fast pace!”.  But I was wrong.  Yes, I am not the type that can sit around and do nothing,  but I also have learned that I also CANNOT cram every minute of every day with SOMETHING and still be my best self.

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When I allow myself  alone time every day by simply going on a long walk, writing in my journal, listening to a favorite album or diving into a book- just a few minutes of those things leaves me feeling refreshed.  It is not a coincidence that when doing such things, I am more productive at work, I am more creative, and powerful thoughts (perhaps from the man upstairs) flow into my mind.  I am not talking about watching a T.V. show or browsing social media, even though that might help you wind down from a long day, those types of things will not help in this matter.

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Many of us are constantly asking the question of “Where do I belong?”, “What is my life’s purpose?” or “Where do I go from here?”.  We search and search for answers and directions to our life, but more often than not they are already within us… we are just too “clouded” to hear them.   Allow yourself time with nature, time to sit in peace and quiet or time in a sacred place of yours- just listen to your heart and listen to your mind for once.  The answers are all inside.

2013 Cont. 116I cannot even count how many awesome epiphanies I have had while on my long walks with Wyatt, sitting at our favorite spot on the river, on a solo run or even just sitting and journaling.  Not while playing with my phone, just me, nature and my mind.  This is when God and I have the best talks and when he tells me what needs to be done, or sometimes it’s just him telling me that I am exactly where I need to be…and to be patient.

Maybe you are going through a rough patch in your life, or you are feeling a little lost.  Give yourself some time alone.  It might be scary to listen to your thoughts, you might be fearful of what you hear, but it is necessary if you want to move forward.  Go to a favorite spot of yours and simply sit with an open mind and an open heart, you might surprise yourself with what you find.

“If you have a clear mind and an open heart, you will not have to search for direction, direction will come to you.” -Phil Jackson, Sacred Hoops

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂