Why School Counseling?

Why School Counseling?

School counseling was not a career I had ever imagined I’d go into. From the time I was a junior in high school, I knew I wanted to go into a helping profession, but it wasn’t until last year that the thought of becoming a school counselor changed my life!

In previous posts I’ve shared my desire of becoming a mental health counselor that specialized in treating eating disorders. That was my one & only plan all throughout my high school & undergraduate education. To help give me experience for this career, in winter of 2017-2018 I applied for a job at an eating disorder treatment center & for a counseling graduate program. I had my mind set on obtaining what I thought would be my dream career.

However, on what is now known as one of the top 10 WORST days of my 22 years, I found out that I didn’t get into the graduate program. A couple of hours later, I found out I didn’t get the job at the eating disorder RTC. My heart broke reading the depressingly generic “this position is very competitive and we have decided to pursue other candidates” emails, that to me, screamed, YOU are not good enough!!! That night I questioned my worth & my capabilities. I began to think that maybe I wasn’t cut out for counseling or helping people through recovery. Luckily, Austin pushed me to get back up and continue to pursue what I had originally set my mind on doing.

In the summer of 2018 I landed a job at a different adolescent treatment center & finished up my bachelors degree. I still thought I would try to become a mental health counselor, though each day I questioned whether that was truly what I wanted to do. Instead of feeling passionate and excited when I thought about that career, I felt uneasy & stressed. Working at the treatment center was eye opening for me. I was learning so much about mental illness & how it effects teens in all areas of their life, including their education. When I didn’t have to cook dinner for the kiddos, I loved being in the classroom with them for the end of their school day. I liked talking to them about school & their future plans for their education & careers. I started to love the academic side of treatment.

Then one day, a student who was about to graduate high school got an acceptance letter to the U of U. He had major treatment burn out, and was struggling to stay motivated. That letter sparked an excitement for him & became his motivation through difficulties that arose. As I listened to him talk about his anticipation for college, the thought, “you could do this as a school counselor“, popped into my head. That night I started researching school counseling and, to be as dramatic as that night felt, I fell in love.

To be honest, up until that point I thought that all that a school counselor did was help set up schedules & tell students about scholarships. If you got on a school counselors good side, they might even ‘sneak’ you into a class that was too full. I had no idea how much more they were responsible for. Not only can they help prepare students for college by telling them about scholarships, they motivate students to achieve overall academic success, open up possibilities of career opportunities for students who may be limiting themselves, they are advocates for each of their students & they can help students with social & emotional development.

Schools help raise children. From first grade on, they are spending about 8 hours a day, 180 days a year in a school setting. In my mind this is an incredible opportunity to not only teach them basic education, but also how they can apply this education for a career. And just as (if not more) important, school is a place to teach social & emotional skills. School counselors are the ones who can provide the programs and resources for this social & emotional learning to take place.

So, I took the thought of becoming a school counselor & I ran sprinted with it. I switched from working as a residential staff to becoming a member of the academic team at the treatment center. I applied for the U of U’s School Counseling program. I kept researching school counseling & started reading book after book & article after article about the profession. I was SO BLESSED to be able to get into the U’s program & with one month in, I couldn’t feel more passionate about this profession.

I will still always have a place in my heart for eating disorder recovery & advocacy. I hope as a school counselor, I can build a prevention & awareness program in my school (& hopefully in other schools). I attribute part of the development of my eating disorder to what I was taught in school, and while I am grateful for my battles, I would never want another student to be able to say the same thing. School should be safe & supportive. It should be a place where students learn the truth about mental illness as well as the resources that are available. I feel as though eating disorders are still taboo, and I want to change that.

I cannot wait to continue this journey of becoming a school counselor.

Marathon Training & Intuitive Eating

Marathon Training & Intuitive Eating

Thinking about my marathon experience has been taking up about 80% of my brain space. Eventually I’ll want to write about something else… until my next marathon;).

Even though my actual race day experience wasn’t exactly a dream come true, I am still so happy about the experience. My favorite part about my marathon was the training that lead up to race day. I learned SO much throughout training. Coming from my competitive background, I approached my training much differently. I didn’t want to feel pressure if I missed a workout, I didn’t want to feel bad if I had to take an extra slow recovery run day, and above all, I didn’t want my focus to ever be on eating a certain way or changing my body whatsoever. I’ll admit I struggled with the first two; my Type A personality couldn’t look at a training plan and not feel anxious to check off each & every workout. I felt nervous when I couldn’t hit my paces in workouts and would run my recovery runs faster to “make up for not being able to hit those paces” despite being tired. However, I can happily say that I didn’t fall into any false beliefs that I needed to change my body, and I actually learned to appreciate intuitive eating & fueling on a whole new level.

When it comes to the marathon, fueling is an essential aspect. You’re not going to perform well if you don’t consume enough energy, or if you consume energy that doesn’t sit well. Instead of following online sources that share list of “good” and “bad” food for marathoners, or articles that lay out restrictive “runners diets”, I instead treated the process of finding out what worked best for me as a personal experiment. I let my body tell me what I needed, not some online source who knows nothing about me!

What I found surprised me. The day after I completed a hard workout or a long run, I’d naturally be hungrier. This hunger was usually accompanied by cravings for saltier foods (which is unique due to my normal sweet tooth all day every day). I figured out my all time favorite post-long run meal is an entire box of Annie’s White Cheddar Shells❤ Foods that I thought would be “healthy & helpful” for me during my runs (such as applesauce & pure fruit blends) actually backfired big time. Days following a rest day or very easy & minimal work were normally days where I wouldn’t feel like I needed a big snack before bed. Eating high sugar foods right after finishing a run usually left my stomach feeling uneasy for a few hours. Ultimately, I learned the difficult lesson that a good amount of fiber the day before race day is a not- so-wonderful idea.

Moral of the story, I learned what worked best for me, and I did so in a curious and self-compassionate way. If I would’ve done this years ago, I would’ve looked up exact meal plans to follow, and would’ve force myself to follow them to a T even if I was left with an upset stomach & hunger. I would’ve blamed myself for not being able to eat the applesauce & fruit blends, thinking my body wasn’t “clean enough” to accept that as proper fuel. I probably would’ve ended up completely burned out before making it to the start line because I would’ve been too terrified to follow my cravings for more food. I didn’t judge, didn’t compare, I just ate & reflected on if it worked or not.

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to get to this place in my relationship with food. Understanding that I am the expert of my own body & that my body knows exactly what it needs has helped me find so much peace.

First Marathon Recap

First Marathon Recap

I ran the Utah Valley Marathon as my very first marathon and had my body and soul completely demolished;)

I learned a lot from this experience and am SO happy I get to call myself a “marathoner” now. Though to be completely honest, I left the race feeling pretty disappointed.

They say that you shouldn’t set a time goal for your first marathon so that you can simply enjoy the experience, and whoever “they” are, they are 100% correct.

However, I had a hard time taking this advice. While I told everyone who asked that I didn’t have a goal… I “secretly” had a goal in the back of my mind. A goal that was probably just a bit too out of reach for me, but I chased that goal, until my body decided it had other plans.

To start, this is probably gross & TMI (but if you’re a runner you’ll probably understand my stress), I couldn’t go #2 before starting. This was stressful due to the fact that I knew if I didn’t go before starting I’d have to go during the race & that my stomach would get upset. Unfortunately, it came to haunt me around mile 12.

At mile 11 I ate some Clif Energy Bloks, and so I don’t know if it was those, the previously mentioned fact, or a combination of the two, but my stomach wasn’t thrilled. So, from mile 11-21 I had to stop at the potties 4 times. Definitely not ideal. I felt like each time I had to stop, my legs felt heavier & heavier upon starting again.

On a more positive note, some members of the UVU track team (some of which were my past teammates) were volunteers at the aid station at mile 19! It was so fun to see some familiar faces. When my college coach asked me how I was feelin’, I was honest and said, “I’m getting my ass whooped.” Lol.

By mile 23, I was hurting pretty bad. My stomach was upset, my legs felt a fatigue I’ve never experienced before, I knew I was looong gone from reaching the time goal I shouldn’t have set in the first place, and I was starting to doubt I’d be able to finish. I said a prayer, got an otterpop (which was the best tasting otterpop I’ve ever had), and struggled on.

I stopped to walk a few times between 23 & 25 (which probably wasn’t helpful for my aching legs) & then made the goal to run the entire last mile + 0.2 (which actually ended up being 0.45), which I was able to accomplish (even though at that point idk if you could call what I was doing “running” 😉

Coming through that finish line felt pretty dang rad, despite the pain & tinge of sadness.

I’m walking away from this experience with a lot more knowledge & hungry for more, earning to make some progress! Good thing I only have to wait ’til October for round two!!

This next training cycle I’m going to work on the following:

☆Increase overall mileage.

☆Take the easy days easy, so that I can really show up to hit my paces during workouts.

☆Incorporate the “little things” (foam rolling, ice baths, dynamic stretching before & after runs, core work & strength training). Make them a PRIORITY.

☆Practice running at goal marathon pace during long runs.

☆FIND A WAY TO FUEL (pre & during) THAT DOESN’T DESTROY MY INSIDES.

Races on deck for the rest of my little “running season”:

☆Heber Half Marathon – June 29

☆Kaysville 4th of July 10k

☆Timpanogos Half Marathon – July 27

☆St. George Marathon – October 5