Is passion overrated?

I hear so much career advice that says your job needs to be your passion. After all, they say “do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” But is this really true?? Pretty much everyone I know has tons of activities that they would rather do while they were working.

Since graduating college, I’ve worked at 4 different companies, holding 5 different jobs. For a while, I was “stuck” in an industry I wanted to get out of, but couldn’t very easily. Why not? You may ask. Well, when companies look to hire someone, they want to see relevant skills. So changing an industry is pretty hard. Entry level jobs often won’t accept someone who already has a few years of work experience because they are “over-qualified” even if they aren’t qualified for that particular job. Most people also don’t want to go down to an entry level salary so that they can pay the rent, buy groceries, etc. Hence my problem. I applied to some more entry-level jobs that I was interested in, but rarely heard back. I feel so lucky that I have finally made it to the industry I always wanted to be in, even if it’s 6 years post-grad! (wait what??)

But still, I am 100% PASSIONATE about my job? Ummm, no. I love the people I work with, I think the work/industry is interesting, and I honestly don’t mind coming into work every day. My company has a great culture, and coming from a company that did not have that, I don’t take it for granted! All in all, I feel incredibly lucky to have the job that I do. But I would not say that this job is my passion!

I will always be someone who works to live, not lives to work. And for me, personally, that’s the way it should be! The most fulfilling parts of my life are what fills the hours OUTSIDE of work– running, reading, spending time with friends and family, traveling, being outside in nature, trying new restaurants, etc. Those are the things that give my life meaning! Those are my passions!

I see so many people online encouraging people to be their own boss, take control of their lives, do what they love, etc. But I think you can also be happy doing and job you LIKE and doing things you LOVE outside of work! Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good here- if you like coming to work most of the time and have a salary and benefits that let you explore your passions outside of work, that sounds pretty good to me! Don’t compare yourself to the girl who quit her full-time job in order to pursue being an Instagrammer/ blogger/ influencer full-time. That may work for some people and they might be perfectly happy! But I don’t think that’s the solution for everyone.

So right now, I will be content with living for the weekends 🙂

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Frustrations of Anxiety

I am very open about the fact that I struggle with anxiety. I know when it started (after the death of my sister) and I know many of the things that set it off. I have learned tools to cope with it. But still, I can’t escape it completely. And I get so frustrated with myself that I feel this way, telling myself to get it together, and feeling ashamed about the fact that I feel like I’m going to throw up the whole way to work, walk certain ways to avoid people, and have to talk myself down from multiple panic attacks each day.

I know this is a particularly bad period of my life and it will pass. I am being proactive about changing certain things. But in the meantime, I have to deal with feeling constantly exhausted from my anxiety flaring up and trying to keep it at bay. When I was home over the holidays, I slept 10-12 hours every night. I couldn’t figure out how I needed THAT much sleep, but I really think my body dealing with stress needed longer to recover. I would sleep in, work out, eat lunch, hang out with family, eat dinner, watch some TV, and then be ready to go to bed again. I will admit, I was ashamed of being so lazy. But I could tell I was stressed because I hardly had an appetite all day and was fighting head aches and stomach aches. Although I am back in the swing of things at work, I am still fighting the same symptoms.

This is my little reminder to be patient and gracious with yourself. Focus on what you can do to feel better (for me this is LOTS of deep breathing, reading before bed, exercising regularly, keeping my apartment clean, getting lots of fresh air, and venting to my mom when I need to). I’m not going to be able to function at 100% capacity or handle everything that I usually can, but I am going to fight and take it day by day.

 

First marathon is in the books!

I still am on a high from completing my first marathon 2 days ago. I ran the Chicago marathon, a race that I’ve been wanting to run for at least 5 years now! I actually signed up and trained to run 2 years ago, but ended up being way too stressed and having some Achilles pain and didn’t end up running it (still kicking myself for that!)

To be honest, I didn’t feel at all ready for the race. I missed a couple long runs and quite a few mid-week runs. I felt awful during my 18 mile and 20 mile runs and ended up having to walk a lot during both of them. Granted, the 20 miler was extremely hot and humid. But I still doubted my ability to run the whole time during the marathon.

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At the marathon expo the day before the race

Luckily, I woke up on race day and it was cloudy and 60 degrees! I was so happy because I was fearing an 80 degree and sunny day, which can often happen in October in Chicago. There was a high chance of rain and thunderstorms, but I was just so relieved it wasn’t hot out. I woke up at 5am and ate the breakfast I had prepped the night before- overnight oats with blueberries! I heated it up, added a little peanut butter (not too much because I wanted to be consuming mostly carbs) and drank water while eating. I put on the outfit I layed out the night before, double (okay, triple) checked I had everything in my gear bag, and was ready to go! I ordered a Lyft to get me to the CARA gear check, but unfortunately it said the driver wouldn’t arrive for 20 minutes! So I put away some laundry to get out some nervous energy. Anyways, the driver ended up dropping me off at the wrong spot, so I actually had to take a bus and then walk to the check in–thank god I left early enough! I still had time to gear check, drink gatorade, pee twice, and mentally prepare for the marathon. Around 7:30am, I started heading over to the start line! I should have expected this, but there were so. many. people. It was packed! Luckily I got into my start corral in plenty of time, adjusted everything in my Flip belt, and just had to wait. I met a nice girl in my corral while we were both marveling at the barefoot runner ahead of us–seriously how do people do that?! It was so nice to chat with someone before the race and helped soothe my nerves.

About 8 minutes after the race started (about 8:08am), I was off and running! I decided I was going to run conservatively. I really wanted to run the entire time, and I knew if I went too fast in the beginning, I would lose all steam (like during my 20 miler). I kept checking in with myself to make sure I was running a steady and sustainable pace. Even though it was wet and rainy out (it started really downpouring around miles 6-10), once I was running, I hardly noticed! The energy of the city was truly amazing and every single spectator made all the difference. Seeing my parents and a lot of my friends cheering for me was SO awesome and totally kept me going. Knowing I had someone I knew coming up helped me get to that next mile.

The race went by really well until mile 21 or so. My feet, legs, and back were starting to hurt and I was running out of steam. At that point I was totally focused on just getting to the next mile. I wouldn’t even let myself think about mile 26, it was all about mile 22, and so on.But I hadn’t stopped at all- not even at the water/Gatorade stops, I kept running while going through, so I knew I could run the whole thing. I thought about Julia cheering for me and being so proud of me for doing this. I know a lot of people run marathons without raising money for a charity, but doing that made a big difference for me and gave my run more purpose. I listened to my music intently and focused on the goal. I knew I was slowing down, but I didn’t care- I told myself to just keep running. Once I got to mile 25, I knew I could do it! Only a little over a mile left! But seeing the 400m sign was a huge relief- especially since at that point, we were going up the steepest hill of the race (it’s Chicago though, there are very few hills, so it probably wasn’t actually that steep). But after turning the corner of the hill, the finish line was in sight and tears formed in my eyes. With a huge smile on my face, I was able to find a last bit of energy and power through. What a feeling!!! I actually ran a marathon.

I still can’t believe I did it. I keep thinking back to the crowds, the city, and reliving every moment. Running the marathon was an absolutely amazing experience that I know I will treasure forever. You never forget your first marathon, and I am so happy that mine went the way it did! Not my fastest run by any means, but that’s why they say “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” I am not totally sure when my next marathon will be, but I know there will be more in my future!

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Running the marathon! Totally soaked from getting rained on

Why can’t I take my own advice?

Maybe everyone thinks this, but I believe myself to be a good friend and a good person to talk to. I enjoy lifting people up, bringing down the best in them, and pointing out the bright side. I consider myself to be a good listener (why didn’t I follow through with my dream of becoming a psychologist again?) But I cannot take my own advice.

I have tried giving myself the advice and support that I give to my friends, but for some reason, it’s impossible. It’s as if I hold myself to a way higher standard than anyone else on earth.

If a friend complains about missing a workout, I tell them it’s okay! Listen to your body! It probably needed the extra sleep and one day off means nothing. But for me when I sleep in instead of working out, it’s because I’m lazy, undisciplined, and will never achieve my goals because I don’t work hard enough. Is it because I know what I’m capable of and am disappointed in myself?

I have had a little nagging realization in the back of my head recently- that I am always letting people down. I can’t tell if it’s letting myself down or my parents. I constantly feel like I’m just not enough- not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not fast enough, not ambitious enough, not fun enough, not happy enough. And it is a tough feeling. Sometimes I think I give up and set myself up to fail because I “know” that what I do won’t be good enough.

I can listen to the little voice in my head saying just be you, there’s no such thing as being good enough! But again, I set crazy goals for myself and push them and see other people doing things, so I think why not me?

There is really no resolution to this post. But I don’t think anyone reads this blog and I like to write so this is just my space to get my thoughts out and hopefully work through them.

Not everyone has to care about health

If you are in the health & wellness community or just like to read blogs and keep up with health trends, then it might seem absolutely 100% necessary to focus on and care about your health. While I believe this is a good thing to do, not everybody needs to. At the end of the day, everyone is in charge of his/her own body.

This is a realization that I recently came to after listening to some podcasts on the subject. There is something called “healthism” in which basically everything revolves around being healthy and the thought is that it should be a priority for everybody. But in the end, I think healthy eating and exercise are hobbies! They take up lots of my precious time and I personally am interested in them and learning more about them. But there are SO MANY other hobbies and interests that people have. Health might not be one of them and that’s okay!

I absolutely do not think that shame or judging is alright, especially when it comes to food. So many times people say “don’t judge me” if they are going to eat something that is considered “unhealthy.” I wish people didn’t feel this way. What people put into their body is their own individual choice. Everyone has different cravings on different days. Sometimes I want a salad and sometimes I want cheese fries. It’s part of being human and there should be no shame in that! If I order a salad for dinner, there is usually one person who says “you’re so good.” But I almost ordered pizza… if I had done that, would I be bad? I know that people don’t make those comments with bad intentions at all. It is just something that has been ingrained in us by our society and we need to actively question those types of comments. Because eating a salad doesn’t make you good and eating pizza doesn’t make you bad.

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Turkey burger with brie, arugula, and roasted red pepper with a side of mac and cheese for dinner from a couple weeks ago…delicious!

And honestly, being able to be traditionally “healthy” is such a privilege. A single mom working multiple jobs, trying to make ends meet, and taking care of 4 kids cannot necessarily prioritize her health in the same way that others can. Eating a nutritious meal is probably at the bottom of her priority list! She will most likely eat what she can get her hands on before she crashes into bed. If she’s able to eat a fresh meal, great! But if she has to get something out of the freezer, this does not make her a bad or good person, it’s just life.

So remember: not everyone HAS to prioritize health. If you want to, great! And if you don’t want to, that’s great too! Eating a certain way does not make you a good or bad person. Truly beautiful people shine through their hearts and souls, not their bodies. You are not better than a girl across the room from you because you are eating a salad and she is eating a hamburger.

Why is It So Hard to Eat Normally?

A firm memory sticks in my mind as I being to write this. I had recently moved in with a new roommate a few years ago. She often had to work late and one night she came home, said she was in the mood for pizza, called the local pizza place for a delivery order, and ate her dinner while we watched TV together. I had gotten home earlier, gone to the gym, and made whatever dinner I had planned for that night; taking into account getting in all my macronutrients and having a balanced plate. While she was eating dinner, I was probably having my night snack of some low calorie ice cream. I literally sat in AWE watching her eat and enjoy that pizza, watching TV with not a care in the world. It struck me so hard that she was eating NORMALLY, not thinking about health in any way. She wanted pizza for dinner, so she ordered it and ate it. After having a couple of slices and dipping them in Ranch, she put the rest of the pizza back in the fridge and had the leftovers the next night for dinner or for lunch, I can’t remember.

My roommate was in no means unhealthy. She was in great shape, worked out when she could even though it was never her number one priority, and ate what she wanted, which included pizza, pasta, fried food, etc. along with salads, veggies, and smoothies. Quite honestly, she was in better shape than me and never had to “worry about her weight.” Why couldn’t I eat the way she did, happily and with no guilt ever associated with it?

To be honest, I do not quite know the answer to that question, but I know it started early on. I can remember the day when my relationship with food changed. I guess I started becoming “curvier” in eighth grade–not large by any means, just developing and no longer weighing under 90 pounds. My clothes were a little tighter (I probably shouldn’t have been wearing children’s clothes anymore) and my mom made a comment about how I shouldn’t have a bagel with melted cheese on it (low key this used to be one of my FAVORITE foods) for a snack–that that was more of a meal, not a snack between meals. From that point on, I decided I needed to lose weight. I began weighing myself, exercising, and watching what I ate (more on all of this later). No, I did not have an eating disorder, but I was conscious of what I put into my mouth and what I was doing.

Since then, I have almost always been conscious. Yes, this has backfired, and sometimes I would turn unconscious and eat an entire box of cookies on accident. But I have been aware of food and judged it before putting it into my mouth.

In the past year or so, I have learned the importance of balance and preached it to myself and others. I know that labeling food as “good” or “bad” will only backfire on me. If I really want something sweet, I have it and try to savor every bite and be done with it. I know that eating whole foods makes me feel good and junk will make me feel tired and sluggish. I have something for dessert most nights and usually try to make healthier versions of my favorite treats. I go out to dinner with friends and family and order what sounds good to me, but make an effort to choose something that will also make my body feel good.

But I will never be that girl who can eat greasy pizza without a care in the world. Maybe it’s because I’ve done too much research and become too interested in health to just suddenly forget every health fact and indulge without thinking about it. Maybe it’s because I’m not the type of person who is naturally slim and doesn’t gain weight. When I indulge a ton, my jeans become tight and I start feeling uncomfortable.

While I believe that becoming educated about health is a good thing 99% of the time (we are only given one body after all, it is our home and it’s important to know how to treat it right!), there is that small 1% that mourns the fact that I will never be totally carefree when it comes to eating. That when I eat a cookie, I will love every bite, but there will be still be that knowledge in the back of my head knowing that tons of sugar isn’t good for me. I fight these thoughts and still enjoy treats because I know that it’s part of LIFE and I want to enjoy life, but it’s still there.

I guess I will never be able to completely eat like a normal person. But I will continue pushing to listen to my body and enjoy life!

Learning From My Mistakes

When you make a mistake, you’re supposed to learn something, right? Well it isn’t always that easy. Sometimes I have made a mistake time and time again even though I felt an inkling in the back of my head that it was a bad idea.

Well, there is one mistake that I finally have learned from and won’t make again. This is running/forcing workouts on an injury. For me, even running through pain for 1-2 days can put me out for WEEKS. So now, as annoying as it is, I stop completely. On Monday, I noticed my hip feeling a little off. But why?! I had only run 8 miles on Saturday, shorter than my planned 11, and done an easy cross training session on Sunday. I didn’t do anything wrong! Well, sometimes your body just has other plans for you. So I have been taking it easy and not running this week. Which has been extremely tough because it’s been Spring in Chicago this week, even though it’s the middle of February. I got home from work on Tuesday and it was the perfect night. Breezy, but warm. I saw tons of people out running and I was just aching to get a run in. Just 3-4 miles! But I felt that hip pain as I was walking to my apartment and I just knew it wasn’t a good idea. So I sat on my couch with the window open watching Shameless and didn’t run. I didn’t work out at all actually. Yes, I felt kind of guilty, but I have to keep reminding myself to push past those feelings!

I’m doing a 10 mile race in March and half marathon in April! I want to go into those races feeling strong and healthy. That’s not going to be possible if I push myself to run when I’m noticing pain, as much as I want to. So, I haven’t been doing my planned workouts this week. But today I’m not noticing any pain and that’s a win. I may try to do an easy run tomorrow or this weekend, but if anything flares up I will STOP. Because I’ve made that mistake way too many times and have FINALLY learned that it isn’t worth it.