Summer Workout Favorites-dogs included!

Summer is the time for working out (and of course cooking)! Even though summer is very unfortunately coming to a close in a few weeks, I thought I would share with everyone my favorite ways to exercise this season. (pilates, yoga, running)

1.) Pilates, specifically Blogilates

My recent obsession has been working out in my room. I roll out my yoga mat, open the windows to let the sunshine flow in, and do pilates to Cassey Ho’s Blogilates videos. They’re so challenging, but Cassey’s positive and bubbly attitude keeps me motivated. Also, I’ve definitely seen results-I’ve been working out to one video in particular. Two months ago, I was only able to get through half of the video, but now, completing the entire exercise sequence is becoming easier and easier!

2.) Yoga

Usually, I end up doing one yoga video as a warm up, and then a Blogilates video. Here’s an amazing link to a list of great (free) yoga videos on Youtube! Alternatively, I take an hour yoga class at the gym, because the group setting can by really enjoyable. I’ve also recently discovered an awesome form of yoga called doga (dogs+yoga). Essentially, you and your dog practice various yoga poses together, and it’s a wonderful way for you and your canine companion to bond and stretch out! Even though I don’t have a dog, I definitely want to try this, it seems so fun!

3.) Running

Last summer, I ran every morning for a couple weeks, and in the end, I was constantly sore and developed a minor injury. So, this summer, I’ve definitely been listening to my body and running when I want to (and not just to follow a daily ritual). I definitely enjoy running with company, but since many of my friends don’t like running, I’ve tried Facetiming them while running. Needless to say, my attempt at Facetiming failed because I could hardly talk while running without having to stop to catch my breath. However, taking dogs out to run with you is a great way to both get exercise and motivate yourself to go on a run. Plus, your dog won’t expect you to talk back to him/her, your dog is just the perfect companion for a run.

Here’s an infographic from Puppyspot on exercising with your dog:

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So, next time you workout, try it with your dog! It definitely makes working out fun and rewarding.

What are your summer workout favorites?

Love,

Serena

How to Drink More Water!

From a young age, I always struggled to drink the recommended amount of water. I’m not sure if this is just me, but for some reason, I drink liquids very slowly-I physically cannot chug anything-small sips for some are like big gulps to me. So, I always viewed drinking water as a chore and never found any motivation to hydrate. But, my breakthrough moment was when I went backpacking last summer. Everyday, I carried two 32 oz. Nalgene bottles full of water, and ended up drinking all of it! Even though this could have been due to my thirst after so much physical exertion, it felt like I wasn’t drinking a significant amount of water, just two bottles a day. So, this leads me to my number one tip to hydrating actively….

1.) Use a 32 oz. reusable water bottle. My 32 oz. Nalgene bottle is very special to me-wherever I go, my Nalgene travels with me! The size of the bottle tricks me into drinking more water than I feel like I am consuming, but drinking the full bottle is equivalent to drinking two plastic bottles of water (what I used to drink from). As an added bonus, reusable bottles last forever (the one I use was actually my parents’ from when they were in college!), so you’ll save money and the Earth’s precious resources ūüėÄ

2.) Bring your bottle everywhere. As I said before, my bottle travels with me at all times. It’s presence reminds me to be constantly sipping. There have been multiple times where I have been in awkward social situations, and drinking water helped me look preoccupied and skip over any awkward silences.

3.) Use a bottle that is aesthetically pleasing. Having a good-looking bottle makes it appealing to look at, drink from, and carry around. I decorated my Nalgene completely with stickers of things that mean a lot to me- national parks, my high school, farmers markets, healthy food, my religion…but I also know plenty of people who go for a plain bottle. Stephanie is obsessed with her Hydroflask-it would definitely be worth purchasing if you enjoy ice cold or hot beverages.

So, those are the three tips I swear by to motivate me to drink more water. Let me know what you do to drink more water!

Love,

Serena

My Tried and True Wellness Tips

Despite all the hardships and struggles I’ve found in my health journey, I’ve discovered and learned tried and true habits that have made me feel (and look) better.

I think for most of these habits, you¬†feel their effects much faster than¬†seeing their effects. It’s like going to the gym – you feel great after a workout, but you don’t necessarily see the results then and there. Those results are seen after consistently going to the gym and also eating properly.

So in other words, if you practice at least three of these habits, I guarantee that you’ll feel great¬†instantly, but in order to see it, give it a few months.

Some of these tips are tips that both Serena and I have provided separate posts about. That shows how important these tips are! So even though you may have already read these tips from previous posts, bear with us!

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< NUTRITION >

Drink plenty of water // If there is ONE thing you will takeaway from this post, it’s this tip. Drink plenty and plenty of water. As up to 60% of our bodies are made up of H2O, our entire body depends on water to function at its peak. Water serves to cleanse and detox the systems in our body.

The recommended amount of water to drink per day is your body weight divided in half in fluid ounces. For some, this may be a drastic increase in water. Therefore, in the first few days or even weeks, you might find yourself frequently running to the bathroom. Don’t worry and stay persistent! Once you start consistently drinking that much water, your body will adapt to your new water intake.

Here are two apps to help track your water intake (Flo in addition tracks your steps, mood, and period! One of my favorite apps!): Waterlogged and Flo.

Eat until 80% full// This “Japanese” tip is something I knew even before traveling to Japan (check out my Japan food journal, what I learned about food habits from Japan, and what I learned about self-love and body-image from Japan).

This is something that I am very guilty about, but I used to define “full” as “overstuffed and where I have to unbutton my jeans haha).” In reality, “full” means “satisfied.” And that satisfied means not feeling hungry but not feeling overstuffed – just that happy in between. In the beginning, this is definitely hard to gauge as we’re so used to our usual (that are typically too much) portions. Start by eating half of what you have and stop to pause and think to yourself “Can I eat more?” Just like with the water, your body will get used to the different portions – your stomach is very malleable (if that’s the right word)!

Savor each bite // This helps with the “Eat until 80% full” tip. In order to savor each bite means to eat slowly. This helps a lot with overeating. A lot of times, we’re super rushed to our next meeting or our next class, that we just stuff ourselves without ever listening to our body or enjoying the actual meal.

I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed my meals more when I savor each bite. It sounds silly, but trust me – it does wonders. Often times, I always feel like I need more even when I’m finished with my meal. I don’t necessarily feel full, but I still feel like I want more. While in reality I want more emotionally, I equate that to wanting more physically and then eat more when I’m not even hungry!

Cut back on the artificial sugar// I’m sure you’ve heard of this before, but here it another reminder! ūüôā In truth, I credit my mom for this. My mom around 8 years ago, banned juice from our house. Now, my family still drinks juice when we go traveling and such, but we just don’t have juice as an option while in the house. The cut has definitely help with beating my sluggishness and sugar crash!

 

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< ACTIVE >

Walk (as much as you can)¬†//¬†I’ve recently been in a walking kick lately. It’s not the most calorie-burning activity, but I enjoy it so much that at the end of the day, it’s all that matters! I mentioned this in a previous post, but because I am able to do it twice a day every day, I think it’s a lot better than dragging my butt to go on a run that frankly speaking, I don’t really want to do. I’ve been averaging 10,000+ steps this past week and I’m loving the “walker’s high” haha!

One tip, try walking around while taking a call. I have a tendency to sit down and talk on the phone, but these days, I’ve been walking around the house or sometimes even outside while I’m on the phone with my parents while at school.

Stretch before bed // This is something that my mom has engrained in me from a very young age; in fact, ever since I did ballet (that was like eons ago lol).

My mom (being the shortie that she is as well as my dad) made a conscious effort to make me as tall as possible. I don’t know if this is something I can admit or not, but I did think she succeeded. I’m 5’5″ and a little over (according to my doctor’s visit the other day) and while that’s not going to make me the next supermodel, it’s definitely a good inches from my mom who’s around the 5’0″ and 5’1″ mark.

Back to the point, I’ve been stretching every night before I go to bed and this means actually stretching¬†on my bed. I stretch my hamstrings, my quads, my back, stomach, arms, sides, etc. What started out to be a way to make me taller has now become a routine that lets me unwind and also lets my body now that it’s time to go to sleep!

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I actually have three journals! One journal for my faith, one journal for my physical and mental wellness, and one journal for my life rants and worries!

< MENTAL >

Journal //¬†I’m a full-on journaling addict. While I journal about a range of things, one of the greatest things that I found from journaling is being able to put down my complex and overwhelmed emotions. I tend to stress-eat (and I still often times do but not in as much frequency) and journaling has really helped me curb this bad habit.

Instead of letting out my stress through eating, I let out my stress by putting pen to paper.

Here’s a few my beginner’s/101 tips for how to start journaling.

Say one good thing about yourself //¬†I definitely don’t do this as often as I should, but it’s effects are amazing. I’m sure a lot of you like me, in this social media world are under the comparison curse.¬†“I wish my legs were as skinny as hers. I wish my stomach was as flat as her. OMG bod,” and the list goes on and on. Instead of nitpicking or addressing the problems that you want to fix, take the time to appreciate and thank your body for what it is right now. I like to say something about my physical body and something about my personality. Something such as “Thank you, legs, for being strong and helping me speed-walk over that steep hill” or “You’re such a hardworker Stephanie!” It’s not the most easiest thing to do, but once you do, you’ll get addicted to the aftermath.

So there you have it! My tried-and-true wellness tips!

What are some of your wellness tips?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking is my therapy

To me, summer means the time for cooking, the time to explore all of my culinary ambitions that have accumulated throughout the school year.

So, everyday, I cook dinner for my family, and there are always a couple of essentials (ingredients, kitchen tools, etc.) and things I keep in mind.

When I first step into the kitchen, I always venture into the fridge to figure out what it is that I want to cook. My dinners typically consist of some kind of soup, starch (usually rice), and two main/side dishes: veggies and protein or sometimes more veggies. So, I’ll make the rice first in a rice cooker (takes about an hour) so that the rice will be finished when I’m finished cooking.

Then, with the veggies and/or protein that I’ve selected for the meal, I search for recipes. My go-to resources have been The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook¬†by America’s Test Kitchen, New York Times Cooking, and Food and Wine. If there’s a recipe that I love, I’ll remember it and make slight modifications to ingredients if necessary. I love going to the farmer’s market and buying exotic vegetables so that I can try out recipes on my family!

My favorite recipes have been these caramelized broccoli “steaks” (so soft and delicious!), brocollini, veggie gratin (minus the cheese, I used nutritional yeast instead), and mashed potatoes with root vegetables.

I find that searching for new recipes every night actually helps me be more adventurous in the kitchen. Now, I’m less intimidated by baking vegetables instead of stir frying, broiling instead of baking, and using a variety of spices.

By the time I’m done with my main dishes, the rice is ready. I simply heat up the soup that my dad makes every weekend for the week, and dinner is done! Cooking every night is the most therapeutic part of the day for me, and I can’t wait to try more cooking techniques for the rest of the summer! I’m thinking of experimenting with more beans and grains.

What are YOU cooking??

Love,

Serena

 

How small steps (literally) can change your life

In this fast-paced world of instant access, it’s perfectly normal that we want change¬†fast. Changes such as losing weight, eating healthier, and being more active. Things I talk about here in avolicious¬†a lot.

We’ve all heard the phrase “Take a leap of faith.” Well actually don’t. I was to be honest tempted to title this post as “Don’t take that leap of faith”

Let me explain.

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Just like taking the stairs. One step at a time.

I took a huge leap of faith, a leap that looking back I realize was completely uneducated and made in blindness. That leap was in the faith that I would become skinner. I don’t what got into that eighth-grade self me. Looking through the pictures now, I was perfectly fine! But at that moment, I felt large. I felt big. I felt like I was that “fat friend” amidst my friend group. Nobody pressured me or treated me differently to lose weight. In fact, it was completely my decision.

I can’t completely say that I regret this decision, as this leap let me become so passionate about proper nutrition and fervent on redefining what “healthy” means to me (which you can read here). ¬†However, if I was given the choice and go back in time, I would choose not to go through this arduous journey.

This leap of faith made me restrict myself to consuming a mere 1,200 calories and running an average of 3 miles daily in the scorching sun. Roughly calculating it, I probably lived off of 500-800 calories. In a matter of 3 months, I lost 20 pounds. But most importantly and significantly, I lost my self-esteem and self-confidence which still affects me today.

Yes, that big leap of faith allowed me to get quick results FAST. I was so proud and pleased with my appearance. I was able to fit into those skinny jeans, no problem. I had a thigh gap. I had a flat stomach. I finally looked like those girls on Instagram.

But I was completely miserable. My day was dictated merely on numbers – the number on the scale, the number of calories I ate that MyFitnessPal app told me, the number of miles I ran that day, the number on the size tag of my clothes. These numbers consumed my life and let me tell you, I felt so powerless. I was in such control of my eating, yet I felt so out of control in my life (it’s a hard feeling to describe but I’m sure a lot of those who’ve gone through ED or experiencing one right now can attest to this).

But fast-forward two years now, I am a much better relationship with food now. I don’t necessarily think that I am fully recovered. I still have a long way to go.

But I have made progress.

And through my experience, I can say that I’ve had successful progress when I took small steps.

Small and baby steps.

Give you an example? I’ve been straying away a bit from running these days. I used to love running the past, but these days I dread just thinking of the mileage and the prospect of running. Instead, I’ve been doing so much walking.

I’m a Type A gal so I love keeping track of things. I’ve been recently logging my steps into the Health app on my iPhone. I’ve been average 10,000+ steps daily!

I wake up at 6:30am when the weather is actually bearable and take a 30-40 minute power walk. This gets me to about 4,000 steps. Later in the evening, I take a 60-75 minute walk with my parents after dinner. This second walk allows me to get up to 10,000-12,000 steps.

And the best part? I get to enjoy being active. I sincerely do get excited about the prospect of walking in the morning and after dinner. While yes, walking necessarily may not burn as much calories, I am able to do it more consistently and with a glad heart.

And to be honest, all I’m going for is to develop a sustainable, maintainable, and happy lifestyle. Nothing too extreme – on both sides of the spectrum. Doing things that I enjoy, eating things that I enjoy, and most importantly, enjoying the body that I was born with.

So I challenge you: instead of making your goal to go to the gym for an hour everyday, or go cold turkey tomorrow, pick ONE change and stick with it.

Have you tried taking baby steps?

xoxo,

Stephanie

My Top Five Tips on Keeping your Skin Healthy

I don’t want to come off as bragging, but I have to admit that I have been blessed with great skin. Serena always asks me about my skincare routine, but to be honest, it’s too simple that I don’t think it will help.

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My entire skincare products! A mere five, it’s very simple and low maintenance.

Both my parents never had major acne breakouts – when I look back at their old high school/college photos, their faces look clear (or maybe it looks clear because the photos are not as good quality as today’s haha).

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My skin despite the dry and not-so-great quality air in airplanes. Read below for my tips on how to keep clear and glowing skin!

However, my mom continually reminds me to not take my clear and healthy skin for granted. She told me that if there is one regret she has with her skin, it’s that she took her healthy and clear teenage skin for granted and now the slacking is showing up. I definitely know what she’s talking about – nowadays, my skin occasionally breaks out and doesn’t have that glow as it used to.

Here are some of my basic (yet always important to hear again) tips for skin care!

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I’ve been drinking so much water that all my reusable bottles are in the dishwasher! So a plastic bottle would have to do for today.

ONE// Drink water – and lots of it.

If you search “water” in the search bar of Avolicious, you’ll find so many photos where both Serena and I talk about the importance of drinking water. Drinking water has so many benefits and is such a quick and easy way to instantly feel and look better!

Our skin is an organ too! A large one in fact. So we need to supply our skin with water so that our skin cells can function properly and at its best.

Unfortunately, water reaches our other organs first before it reaches our skin, so that’s why you have to drink so much water! So go drink up!

TIP: keep multiple reusable bottles (my favorites are Hydroflasks!) in the fridge and take one out to bring around the house or when you go outside. Continually be sipping. It’s going to be hard the first few weeks where you’ll be running to the loo constantly, but once your body adjusts, you’ll be going to the bathroom less!

 

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I use these two as my lotion. I first apply the rose-petal toner and then as it dries out, I apply the Korean lotion. Secret: the Korean lotion is actually a baby lotion; my mom and I have been using baby lotion for around three years now!

TWO// Over-moisturize

This is one of my other biggest tips. I tend to over-moisturize (if that even is a word) my face. I make sure my skin is really moist and dewy. This ensures that my skin is both moist and hydrated from the inside (from drinking water) and the outside!

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My FAVORITE face cleanser for a strong 4-5 years now. It literally thoroughly cleans your face haha! I usually get this cleanser from either Whole Foods or order it on Amazon Prime if its urgent.

THREE// Wash your face regularly

For the 16 years I’ve been living, I have always, always, without a single day missing, washed my face right after wake up. It’s a habit that my mom has drilled into me since I was young. Before I go downstairs to eat breakfast, I always wash my face. While yes, you’ve only been sleeping, those 8 hours (or less or more), the oils, impurities and other things that are on your pillow and bed have appeared on your face. You want to wash them away!!! I usually wash my face right after I wake up and right before I go to sleep. If I wash my face in the middle of the day, it’s because I came right after a workout.

Make sure to wash your face especially if you’ve been sweating a lot. Your sweat can clog up your pores and not allow your skin to breathe enough and get the air it needs.

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I apply the sunscreen on the left when I know I’m going to be outside for a long time. The one on the right is a mix of a lotion and sunscreen. I use the Aveeno either in the winter or when I’m going to be outside for very little (such as being in the car).

FOUR// Apply sunscreen

I know, I know. This is one of my least parts also. But it’s so important. Make sure to apply sunscreen both in the summer and winter. To be frank, I would rather be tan, but my mom is constantly reminding me that I’ll thank her later when I don’t have wrinkles (or even worse skin cancer) from not applying enough sunscreen.

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FIVE// Nourish

You become what you eat is so true when it comes to skin. You probably know that when you eat very oily or fatty foods, your skin is bound to break out. After a bowl of instant ramen, our faces get bloated. Our skins are a clear indicator of the quality of our diets. Make sure to get lots of nutrients – veggies, fruits, healthy fats, and whole grains. Of course, you can indulge yourself, but in order to have that radiant skin (without the help of make up of course), you need to eat right.

Do you have any skin care tips that you would like to share?

xoxo

Stephanie

What are you hungry for? It might not be food

I have a lot of things that I’m not especially proud about. However, there is particularly one big problem that I want to fix because it’s bad for both my physical and mental health.

This big problem is my stress-eating.

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Literally me…no joke¬†

Especially during the final season, my eating habits just crumble. I gravitate towards sweet, oily, savory foods that I know should only be eaten as indulgences, but soon become regulars. It’s a vicious cycle – I surrender to stress eat, then when I come back home for break, I get mad at myself for stress eating from all the weight I gained. And then I try to lose some of the weight while I’m back home, but because I get so easily stressed, I easily gain all that weight back.

However, I realized that when I was stress-eating, I was stress-eating because I was trying to cope with my stress. But I was trying to cope with my stress by eating – and eating too much and eating not well. Other people cope with stress and challenging emotions in different ways. Some through drinking, some through exercising (I wish right?), some through getting cranky and venting their anger at their friends, some through shopping (aka retail therapy). It just happens to me that I cope with stress through food.

It might be because I had so much control over food when I had my eating disorder. During those (miserable and dark) days, I religiously counted every morsel and calories. 1,200 calories to be exact. I exercised every day or else I felt guilty. And when I mean exercise, it was mostly running and cardio as I was worried I would “bulk up.” I had so much control over my food and my exercise.

But once I realized that I couldn’t live like this through a number of events and close family and friends, I suddenly lost all that control. I ate so much. I gained back the weight I lost and then some more. I continually kept on eating because I had restricted my body for so long.

So maybe it’s because of this history and background that when I undergo stress or unwelcome feelings, when I feel like I’ve lost control of my day and my life, I continue to lose control by eating.

But this is bad. And I’m not proud of it.

These days, as I’m studying for SATs (as that is the high school life haha), my mind often times wander and starts craving food. But I stop myself and think:

“Stephanie, what do you¬†really¬†want?”

“I want food.”

“Are you sure? But you’re not hungry…”

“I just want something else to do. Something else other than studying. I’m getting so bored just studying so I want to do something else. And that something else is food.”

That’s the key. It’s not that I want to eat because I’m hungry. I want to eat because currently, at the present, I don’t want to do the thing I’m doing. I want to go away from it. I want to take a little breather, a little break, go away from studying. But guess what? As soon as I’m done eating, studying is going to be still there.

Or sometimes, I want to eat because I’m tired. So when I really need to sleep and relax, I want to eat.

While I haven’t figured out the magical key to stop stress eating, I’ve realized that it’s so important to LISTEN to your body. It takes lots of practice. But when your mind wants to eat, wants to do _____, stop and ask yourself: what do you really want right now?

Your body is your temple. If you don’t listen and respect it, nobody else will.

So what are you hungry for? Comfort? A place to hide? Something enjoyable?

Well you can find this without having to eat food. You can find comfort by hugging a close family or friend and telling them your current mood and thoughts. Need a place to hide? I find that a lot of times when I’m in this situation, I like to listen to my favorite music and take an hour long nap. Just to take a break and a breather from life. Something enjoyable? Go watch some YouTube videos, go hang out with friends, go do what you actually enjoy!

What are you hungry for?

xoxo,

Stephanie

“Ita daki mas” – summer in Japan

I have always been skeptical of the old adage that travel is the best learning experience. However, after traveling to Japan for a two-week cultural immersion program, I have become a firm believer that travel is indeed the best learning experience.

Get ready for a¬†photo overload, especially of food since I’m a foodie ūüôā
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On the flight to Japan. Despite all the bad news of United recently, this 14 hour trip actually went pretty well. I had so many cups of green tea during the flight which I oh-so regretted later.

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My first breakfast in Japan – guys they have¬†green tea granola. Let’s just say that I was¬†obsessed.

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Visiting the aquarium – the jellyfish were so cool!

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The Big Buddha – little did I know when taking this trip that I would be in for a long hike in the nearby mountains.

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The hike was only half as bad as its length because aren’t these hydrangeas beautiful? These flowers were peppered all throughout the hike. Apparently, they are called the June flower in Japan.

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After a long and tiring hike, and an even tiring hour-long wait for the restaurant, we ate udon. Oh. my. goodness. The wait was definitely worth it because the udon was so good. There was also tempura and the chefs just made it right in front of you. Warm tempura is always the best.

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To cool ourselves off after the long hike, we got green tea and sweet potato ice cream. I know, the combination sounds weird, but guys, it was so good!

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Here is Takoyaki. It’s a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special moulded pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion. It was delicious, but very hot! I could have watched the chefs making takoyaki all day long, it was such carefully methodical process.

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Apparently this is a hit-or-miss not only with foreigners but with local Japanese. It’s something called¬†natto. It is fermented soybeans that can be eaten by mixing it with rice. I actually enjoyed the taste which my host family was very impressed by as only a few Japanese people actually enjoy it! Of course, as a foodie, as long as it’s healthy and relatively tasty, I’m always good ūüôā

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On one of the nights, my host, my host sister and their cousin met up and ate out for dinner at a Hawaiian restaurant. It was so much fun hanging out with them – so much laughing and fun while with these three. The pancakes for dessert were equally as good, although we all regretted eating them because we became so full afterwards.

It wasn’t the healthiest option, but these days, I’m all about balance and moderation and that being mentally healthy is as equally as important as being physically healthy.

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My host introduced these to me, but apparently, these chocolates help reduce how much fat and sugar you absorb. My host and I both being foodies, ate a few of these chocolates just for good measure!

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Japan was just beautiful. Here are a few non-food pictures that are so beautiful.

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One of my favorite dinners while in Japan.

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I’ve always heard that you never know the taste of matcha unless you try it yourself. So I tried to try matcha as many times as I could. It’s definitely not as sweet as the matcha we taste at Starbucks or in the States. It’s a much more bitter taste but somehow has some charm to it. I actually brought home a matcha kit so I could continue making it at home! Once I’ve mastered it a bit, I’ll write up a post for those interested!

Japan was in short, such an amazing trip. I can’t wait to go back there someday!

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After two weeks in Japan, I took a two hour flight to Korea and stayed there for a week. My parents were already in Korea at that time so I met up with them at Incheon airport. After a quick week of meeting up with old childhood friends and family, we left Korea and finally headed back to home sweet home!

 

P.S.: In nod to the title of the post, “ita taki mas” is what Japanese people say before they start their meal. It’s kind of like saying “Thank you for this meal, I will eat it gladly!” I loved saying this every time before I ate because literally every time I ate something, it looked and¬†was super delicious!

P.S.: If my host and her family or any of her friends are reading this, thank you for letting me have such a memorable trip!

 

 

Canadian Rockies Adventures

It’s a tradition for my family to go on a national park trip every year. Funny story, last year, we were supposed to go on this Canadian Rocky trip, but when we got to the airport  ready to go, we realized that my passport had expired! So we couldn’t board the plane, and instead, we took the long drive to Ottawa, Quebec, and Montreal. Since we were visiting cities and going through all of the touristy attractions (instead of hiking), the trip was definitely out of the ordinary, maybe what one would consider a “normal” vacation. I wrote a blog post for Part One, Two, Three, and Four of my trip, so check it out if you want ūüėČ

So back to the Rocky Mountains…it was absolutely GORGEOUS! I don’t think I’ve ever hiked so much before in my life though (except for the time I backpacked)! My friend’s family also travelled with us. Unfortunately, the Rocky Mountains is not a foodie destination, but I did visit some awesome (and one horrible) restaurants and cafes that I’ll recount below.

First, we travelled to Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park. We went on a cruise tour of the lake and then hiked around. This was my first view of the beautiful blue waters in the Rocky Mountains! The water is truly turquoise, pictures really don’t do this place justice. Also, this first day was our coldest of the trip, we all had to wear our North Face’s in the middle of summer! But after warming up in out resort hot tub, we went to a Japanese/Korean Restaurant. I had some tuna sushi, salmon sushi, and a special roll of shrimp tempura, avocado, imitation crab, and cucumber. Well the sushi was alright; nothing impressive and I wasn’t expecting anything great since after all, this is in rural Canada. But, the view was amazing. There are gargantuan mountains throughout the town (Canmore), and surprisingly a lot of people! (Mostly European tourists).

The next morning, I worked out (Blogilates and HIIT) on the porch of our hotel room. I had an absolutely beautiful view of the snow-capped mountains, and the weather was just chilly enough to cool my body down while I sweat.

Then we had a quick breakfast at a bagel shop right next to the sushi place. Walking in, I was thoroughly surprised by how nice it was! Very Insta-worthy ūüôā

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I devoured (except I was always the last one finished with my meal!) a whole wheat bagel with spinach cream cheese, lox, and egg. I have never been a big fan of bagels, I find that they all taste the same, but it was nourishing for our trip to the Banff gondola and hot springs.

Now, the views from the gondola were truly amazing, as we travelled higher up the mountain, I could see the entire town and all of the mountains below.

In the afternoon, we hiked outside of the city of Banff and had lunch there. BlockKitchenandBar

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Veggie burger and a side salad! Yumm
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Green tea ice cream! I was so shocked to find this flavor in the middle of a national park!!
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So aesthetic!
That afternoon, we drove to Lake Louise. We literally walked and biked everywhere, from our resort, to the supermarket, and the restaurants. Lake Louise is a very small town only opened during tourist season, so there weren’t many restaurant options. Our choices were either high end mandatory-reservation restaurants (we learned this the hard way), or low quality restaurants. After waiting at one of the expensive restaurants for half and hour, we ended up settling on a pizza place at our resort. Actually, the food wasn’t half bad! I’m not the biggest fan of Italian food because I find that it’s all just a glutinous conglomeration of cheese, butter, pasta, and bread…but I had a butternut squash ravioli that I really appreciated!

The next day was one of my favorites because we went on a bunch of short hikes, with each one more scenic than the next!

But first, for breakfast, I had THE BEST humongous bowl of oatmeal. It had maple syrup, spiced apples, and milk, brown sugar, and walnuts on the side. I also added some pumpkin seeds, granola, and sunflower seeds from my parent’s buffet breakfast.

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Best ever!!
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My friend and I hiking to the Paint Pots!
Now that night, we made a horrible decision to not look for a restaurant using Yelp and ended up at the Village Bar and Grill. This place was horrid- the Sriracha was very clearly watered down, the waitress did not bring me a drink after I asked for it twice, we found a mysterious knife in the bathroom, there was a mandatory tip, and my stir-fried vegetables were actually steamed, and then doused in a “dressing” of water and oil!!

And unfortunately, the food choices actually decreased from there. The next day (Canada Day-actually Canada’s 150th birthday!), we hiked at the Chateau Lake Louise and made a lunch of whole wheat wraps and cheese and carrots and pretzels with hummus.

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Me paddling away from the Village Restaurant! Haha
That night, we checked into a “resort” with no wifi, pool, or any other amenity. There was only one restaurant within a 60 mile radius, which was the one in our “resort”. I opted for an average pasta with sauce dish, and since there was no wifi, we spent the night playing Scrabble on the porch. The days are really long in Canada, and it was still bright and sunny at 10pm!

The next morning, I got up for a run around the resort. It was actually so enjoyable because I found numerous trails and had a 360 degree view of the mountains! I think that’s one thing I won’t forget from my trip-the backdrops of my workouts!

Then, we drove to the Columbia Icefield to look at the Glaciers, walk the Icefield and the Skywalk. 

 

How I Get It All Done

I’m known by many to be a Type-A, workaholic, and perfectionist. There are pros and cons to this. The pros are that I get everything that I say I’m going to do, done. The cons are that it’s not necessarily “healthy.”

Having a healthy lifestyle not only means eating healthy, being active, and maintaining your body such as your eyes, but it also means having a manageable schedule and workload, having that balance.

Here are a few of my tips on how I get it all done, without sacrificing my health and happiness.

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ONE// Prioritize

This is so important. There are a million and one things to do and to be real with you, we’re just not going to have enough time for that.

Rather than being pulled in so many directions, choose a handful of things that are truly important to you and that is worth investing your energy into. To give you a sense, my priorities are: school work, friends, family, health, Avolicious, my faith.

If some work pops up that involves these categories, then I’m willing to stay up later, sacrifice my sleep time and get it done. If the work does not involve these categories, I’ll either put it off to the side to work on it later, OR I’ll say no.

This is said so so so many times, but saying NO is okay. Period. No questions.

Keep your important categories in mind and as you create your schedule/to-do list, make sure those categories are on the top of that list.

 

TWO// Nourish

As much as hangry (hungry + angry) exists, losing focus when hungry is very much a real thing (do we have a term for this?). I tend to always lose focus when I’m hungry. This is perfectly normal because rather than using our energy to focus on our work, because we have no energy, we can’t focus. The key is that the snacks you eat should¬†help you study and work longer. They shouldn’t drift you¬†away from studying because of their absurd sugar content or some weird chemical ingredient.

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The easiest snacks that are both healthy and convenient to carry around are granola bars. My recent favorites are the GoMacro bars. GoMacro bars provide organic, plant-powered and wholesome nutrition  Рa perfect combination for a little pick me up at around that 3pm/4pm time.

I love stashing these in my backpack during school or even in the summer, when I’m going out and about doing internships and volunteer work.

THREE// 120% Focus

I live by the mantra, “Work hard, Play Hard.” And working hard for me not only means putting in the time, the hours to work, but to be ultra-efficient while doing so. Making sure the concentration between the effort and time is the highest it can be.

Completely hone in on your work. No other thoughts. Put away your distractions, including music. Go all in.

You’ll find that when you have a 120% focus you get much more work done in less time, meaning you get more time to relax and play¬†hard.

FOUR// My non-negotiables

With these three tips above, I get my non-negotiables accomplished. My non-negotiables are: sleeping at least 6+ hours every day, eating healthy (eating at least one meal where it is non-meat and green), and at least 1-2 hours of relaxing and play time.

How to you get everything done (in a healthy way)?

xoxo,

Stephanie