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Meet Amanda Wagner of Black Bean Queen in North side

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Wagner.

Amanda, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
The idea for Black Bean Queen came to me on a run (of course!) in June 2014, a month after I graduated college. I was headed to school in the fall for nutrition and wanted to start a blog where I could share my passion for vegetarian food, health/wellness, and running. Black Bean Queen was born at the end June 2014 and maybe had three readers besides family and friends. 😛 Then, in January 2015 I ended up switching out of nutrition to teaching, but still kept Black Bean Queen up and running for a while.

Eventually, I stopped posting in summer 2015 due to demands of graduate school. I did not post again until August 2017! At that point, my passion for writing, vegetarian food, running, and wellness was renewed. I was feeling stuck in my life in a lot of ways, particularly career-wise. I expanded Black Bean Queen to include some of my personal experiences with navigating this crazy journey called life. Since restarting Black Bean Queen in August 2017, I continue to be surprised. I am surprised that people look to me for running and plant-based food inspiration.

I am surprised by all the connections to other amazing bloggers, runners, and health/wellness advocates. I am surprised by all the support in this community. It has been nothing short of amazing! A lot has gone on in my life over the last few years, but I have found out that I am right back to where I started in June 2014. After a roundabout journey that anyone who is interested can read in my recent post entitled “Your path is not linear”, I am excited to share that I am going back to school in the fall! I am pursuing my passions and studying to become a Registered Dietitian.

Black Bean Queen will continue to be a source for running, product and race reviews, vegetarian food, notes about navigating life, and eventually my nutrition expertise!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Not at all! First of all, when I started Black Bean Queen I did not tell many people about it. I was really shy about it even when I restarted Black Bean Queen in August 2017. I took me a while to feel comfortable actually posting photos on the website and on social media. It can be hard to put yourself out there! Once I realized if I enjoy reading about other people’s health/wellness/life journeys, other people might enjoy reading my story too, I decided to make my website more public.

I figured if at least one person related to my journey, picked up running, starting eating more plant-based foods, or enjoyed reading it I would be a success! Also, as mentioned previously, I took a long time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Don’t get me wrong, I am still figuring it out, but I have more clarity now. There is relief in the destination, but also so much beauty in the journey.

And if you have reached your destination it is time to start a new journey! My new journey is going back to school this fall to become a registered dietitian, despite already having a BA in biology and Master’s degree in Education. I would not trade my roundabout journey for anything, though, because maybe I can inspire someone else who is feeling stuck in their life to take a risk and pursue their passions!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Black Bean Queen is a Chicago based health/wellness blog. It is dedicated to running, plant-based food, and navigating life. I detail my training for races, share plant-based recipes, and my life experiences. I write about running injuries, setbacks, and how I have overcome them. I also write reviews for products that I try and races that I run.

I am most proud of Black Bean Queen for showing others that you can thrive as an athlete on a plant-based diet. I am a big advocate of balance as a part of a healthy and athletic lifestyle. I try to eat healthy 90% of the time, but I definitely indulge in dessert on most days (my favorite is dark chocolate peanut butter cups). I also love red wine or a couple good craft beers, especially after a tough run. I am also proud that I share my experiences in life, both good and bad.

My recent post “Your path is not linear” is real and raw, about how I changed my path many times, but am now headed to where I am meant to be studying to become a Registered Dietitian.

I am excited for the future of Black Bean Queen! I plan to share my nutritional expertise there as I move through school. I write more about plant-based eating and fueling as an endurance athlete. I also can’t wait to share my journey as I train for my first marathon later this year!

Finally, I would not discount coaching (running and nutrition) as a future direction for Black Bean Queen! 😉

What were you like growing up?
Growing up I loved being involved in as many activities as possible. From sports to clubs, I did it all! I was very active and loved playing soccer and eventually running cross country and track. I loved eating healthy, but still had (and often still have) dessert every day! 😛 I was an avid (and speedy) reader and it was not uncommon for me to read thirty or forty books in a given year.

I also loved to write stories and act in theater. When I was in elementary school, I was convinced I was going to become an author or an actress. It was not until middle school that I developed an interest in science. I still pursued writing as much as possible in my free time and classes but ended up majoring in science in college.

And I’m still on a science-related path as a former science teacher and future registered dietitian. My love of science has evolved into science as it relates to nutrition, wellness, and health. Black Bean Queen allows me to have both passions in one spot: science and writing.

I want to give some shoutouts to the people who help and support Black Bean Queen: My husband Alex (who takes most of my running pictures and helps me come up with ideas); BibRave which gives me race entries, products to try, and is an amazing community of running enthusiasts; C3fit, Sweat Pink, and Honey Stinger for their supportive fitness communities; and finally my family and friends for reading, sharing, and giving me ideas!

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Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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