Talk. Just start talking.

If you guys have read any of my blog posts, then you know that I am quite immune and familiar that I have dealt with body image issues and not being “normal” with my eating.

And as much as I love sharing it here on the blog or writing about my experience with body image and my attitude towards food. Nevertheless, there is power and beauty in physically talking to someone. Face-to-face.

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I go to a boarding school so in my residential house, we have prefects. Prefects are seniors who serve almost in place as our parents. However, prefects tend to be so closely integrated into our house that they are our friends but our parents.

So a couple of weeks ago, I decided to go one of my prefects and just open up my whole situation. And I’ve shared this story so many times. Here on the blog. In my journal. But being able to talk to someone about this – someone who can respond and react to my story as I tell it, was powerful.

Another great thing was the prefect I told this apparently went through a similar situation. She was nodding the whole time and almost smiling to herself because she knew exactly how I was feeling. And after talking to her, she gave me a couple of tips, but what I cherished the most was that I had someone I could share my feelings and my experience with. Someone who went through something similar and understood me.

So with that, I really urge those who have something that they want to share, to just share. Go to someone you trust, trust that they’ll reserve judgement. There’s such a huge difference and power in telling someone face to face. Trust me.

Have you ever opened up about your experience regarding body image/eating disorder?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Glass half-full? Or glass half-empty? | Positive Mindset

The first day back from spring break, I had golf try-outs.

Now, I’m NOTHING NOTHING compared to Serena (she is a goddess at golf, but she’s way too humble to brag or talk about it, so I’ll do it for her: her handicap is an 8!!! An 8!!!).

However, ever since I’ve been a little kid, I’ve always wanted to learn and do golf. My dad is an avid golf fan and he goes out with his friends or coworkers pretty much every weekend. He always expressed interest for my mom and me to join him to golf. As much as he loved golfing with his friends, he’s always wanted to play with his family.

So after having a horrible experience with crew (it’s a very respectable sport, but it just wasn’t the sport for me), I had nothing to do for spring term. I decided to try out golf.

I started playing golf seriously last summer, so summer of 2016. I had weekly lessons and my dad and I would go out to the driving range several times a week. But being that I was away at boarding school and busy with school work, I could only practice golf intensely during school breaks.

So with a lack of sufficient experience, I was a wreck and full of nerves and anxiety leading to the golf tryouts. However, if there is one thing I learned from golf try-outs, it’s having a positive mindset.

I used to play tennis before (yeah, as you can see, I’ve had my fair share of many sports but I was never able to stick to a sport since I was so horrible at it haha. One of the reasons I fell in love with running – not much skill needed). One thing about tennis that I miss is the mental game. You have to have a strong mental game. Period.

I remember during tennis matches between each point, while waiting for the serve or before my serve, I would tell myself “Stephanie, you can do this. You can do this. Have confidence. Have faith. You can do this.”

And this sort of mental pep talk does wonders. It really does. Playing with a positive and confident mindset has a huge difference than playing with a negative and discouraging mindset.

Instead of regretting and grumbling of a bad shot, changing my mindset to “Okay, make the next shot the best you can,” has changed the outcome of my golf game drastically.

So in short, LIVE WITH CONFIDENCE. CARRY YOURSELF WITH CONFIDENCE.

Remember to always to have the glass half-full perspective. You’ll find yourself surprised of the positive outcomes that will come out of it.

How strong is your mental game?

xoxo,

Stephanie

How I Stay Healthy When Eating Out

You’re stuck in a restaurant that you didn’t want to go to in the first place. One look at the menu and you know this will be a major cheat meal-fried chicken, ribs, steak and potatoes, with not a mention of a vegetable in sight!

I’ve experienced this little scenario many times before, I visit my relatives from New York about once a month, and whenever we eat out, they always choose to go to either a chain steakhouse or a Chinese restaurant.

So, over the years, I’ve developed some techniques to staying healthy when eating out. I think these tips can be applied to many different scenarios, like if your friends all decide to order takeout from a restaurant that you know does not have healthy food, or if you are at a fast food restaurant because you have no time to sit down and eat a slow meal.

Also, I just want to note that I am pescatarian, but these tips can definitely apply to vegetarians, vegans, or just health-conscious individuals.

1.) Look at the salad options. Maybe this is a no-brainer, but the salad might be your best bet to eating a plant-based meal. If the salad has an element that you would prefer not to have, just ask for it to be removed or replaced. Since you are still paying for that element of the dish, you could just give it to the people dining with you.

2.) Sides are your best friend. I’ve been to steakhouses that offer no vegetable dish at all. Even the salads contain some kind of meat, whether that be chicken or steak. However, I can guarantee you that you’ll find at least one plant based option among the sides. Take this menu from Outback Steakhouse for example. All of the sides are plant based (with the exception of theFullSizeRender mac and cheese). You can also usually make potatoes healthier by asking for no toppings (getting rid of fatty sour cream) and just add salt and pepper to your taste. You could also ask for condiments on the side, so instead of the Sweet Potato with Cinnamon Sugar and Butter that is on the menu, you could add these two ingredients to your liking.

If none of the main dishes are speaking to you, you can order solely sides, or a combination of appetizers and sides.

 

 

 

3.) Your waiter is your best friend. As I’ve stated before, you can always ask for an ingredient to be removed, replaced, or put on the side. Your waiter or the cashier is your go-to person for making these requests. One time, I went to TGI Friday’s with my family because it was the only restaurant open at the time we wanted dinner. With the exception of a garden salad, there was not a single non-meat item on the menu. I didn’t really want to have the garden salad because it was just lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. So instead, I ordered the mac and cheese with broccoli and chicken, and asked for all of the chicken to be replaced with broccoli.

4.) When eating a family-style meal, take charge of ordering food. When you are eating with a large group of people (like my extended family, with 13 people) it’s easy to engage in side conversations while the ordering is occurring. There have been many times where other people have ordered, and as a result, I may only have one dish that I can eat as a pescatarian, or as a healthy person in general! So, if you are in charge of ordering the food, you can order what you want to eat because anyways, it will benefit the group to have at least one or two healthy dishes on the table.

So I hope these tips will help you when ordering food! Fast food doesn’t have to mean unhealthy, and steakhouses don’t always have to mean steak. Happy eating 🙂

Love,

Serena

 

Do I have to do rigorous exercise to stay fit?

Do I have to do rigorous exercise to stay fit?

This is definitely a question, actually more of a belief that I would have held last year.

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Golfing with my dad during the weekend. The sun was out, the sky was clear, perfect weather!

As much as I loved running and the feeling you get after a nice long run, I do have to admit that I did run for the sake of staying fit. My thought process was this: if I run, then that means I’m burning more calories, building up more stamina and endurance, yeah, I’m going to keep on running.

And this mindset would be the driving force despite the pain I felt in my knees, the heaviness in my quads, the limping after my run.

Now this isn’t to say that running is bad, no that’s not it. After taking a break from running and simply “intuitively exercising” I’ve realized that I’ve been extreme in my attitude towards exercise.

I reasoned that if you don’t exercise, namely rigorous exercise (which means lots of sweating, lots of heavy panting, frequent thoughts of “I can’t do this. I want to give up”), then I won’t be fit.

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I’m always up for a walk with my friends or family. Catching up while exercising! Best of both worlds!

However, as I continue to consistently do yoga, walk a lot, and go golfing, I realize that exercise doesn’t have to be necessarily rigorous to make an impact.

It’s just a matter of efficiency. Running, HIIT (High intensity interval training), boxing require a lot of energy but in a short burst of time. Yoga, golf, walking, hiking require much less energy, but during a longer period of time. Now, long distance running has both the energy and the length aspect, which is probably why the bodies of long distance runners is generally referred to as #bodygoals.

However, I think the key to exercise is not about the intensity or about the length, but about how much you enjoy it.

My dad personally hates running (yet he was my buddy runner for all my 5K GOTR races when I was in middle school – thanks dad!!! <3), but he LOOOVES golfing. He claims that he’s not good (I don’t know about that since he’s waaaay better than me lol) but he enjoys the sport so much. Now, there’s no point in him to run since he literally only goes to the gym once or twice a month to run on the treadmill. What good is that? Yeah, even if one mile is nearly 100 calories, what good is it if he only runs 4 miles ONCE a month? Just 400 calories.

But he almost golfing every weekend with his friends. And I mean every weekend. Minus the weekends that he’s visiting me that is. Even during the winter, he would go out with a million of layers and lots of heat packs. He even did a golf outing with his friends for a long weekend where for two days, they played 36 holes each. 18 holes before lunch and 18 holes after lunch. I know, extreme.

But despite the less energy golf requires, my dad does it in such high frequency that in the long run, golf is the exercise that makes him fit. And let me tell you, don’t regard golf lightly. All the times I’ve gone golfing with my dad, walking the full course is a lot of work. I had my phone in my pocket the whole time and after the course, I checked my phone and it was already over 10,000 steps. Think about it! I just walked the recommended number of steps by doing a round of golf! It definitely requires less energy BUT it’s for a prolonged time so it definitely does train you.

Sorry for this long rant – these days, I’ve been getting a lot of “aha!” moments about eating and exercise. And I wanted to spread this “wisdom” I’ve been getting with you all.

What’s your favorite form of exercise?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

“Healthy”

Today was sort of a scary day for me.

I had a massive stomach ache.

Now usually, stomach aches are normal for me. I’ve had gas problems as a child so my tolerance for stomach aches are quite quite high.

However, today, after having lunch with my mom, I had a massive stomach ache. Something that I was not used to tolerating.

Initially, I thought it was just that I ate a lot. That what I was feeling was fullness. Like literally as we drove out of the restaurant I was like, “Darn it, Stephanie. Why did you eat so much? Remember: hara hachi bu! Only eat until 80% full. You stuffed yourself.”

But after a couple of minutes, I felt a pang in my stomach. It was different to fullness – no, I’m a common customer for fullness. I literally stuff myself full like every other meal lol. No, it wasn’t fullness.Was it gas? No – I’ve been having gas problems since 5 years old and this was definitely not gas. Then what was it?

It was really hard to diagnose what I had and even looking at water made me want to vomit. I just couldn’t fathom putting anything in my mouth.

Short end of long story, the pain decreased after 30 minutes. By then, I could tolerate it. And this again, remind you, is my high tolerance for stomach pains. But after about 2 hours, it was completely gone.

I still don’t know what that incident was and I probably won’t know in the near future, but what I do know is that my wellbeing is the utmost priority.

It’s at times like this that I realize I take too many things for granted. I nitpick at the thickness of my thighs, the “wings” on my arms, the flab on my stomach. I suck in my stomach whenever I pass the mirror. But at times like this, I realize that I was shallow.

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If you couldn’t tell…my fingers are forming a heart. Giving much love and kisses to those who need love because we are all beautiful.

As mentioned in my self-love post a few days ago, I’m still in the process of loving my body. Loving it truly the way it is right now. That the reason I’m eating healthy and that I exercise is NOT because I hate how my body looks and I want it to look a certain way, but because I want to feel nourished and empowered and healthy. That word, healthy is abused so much here, but today, this incident reminded me what healthy meant.

Healthy does not mean a certain number on the scale. A certain number on the label of your clothes. A certain number of how many calories you’ve eaten. Healthy does not mean your appearance. For the better or worse, healthy means different to everyone. It’s such a relative term which is why I think it’s been abused so much.

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But as I’m slowly moving forward in my self-love journey, I start to build my own definition of healthy. And so far this is what I have: being healthy means to enjoy life without any limitations.

I really don’t want to get that stomach ache ever again – a stomach ache that I could barely sit still with. A stomach ache that I truly felt helpless and out of control with my body.

So yep. That’s what healthy means to me thus far. I’m sure as I add more years and experience to my life, this definition will change. But so far, that’s it: to enjoy life without any limitation. To feel powerful and confident.

What does healthy mean to you?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Walkers high?

Am I making this term up? I don’t know.

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There’s such thing as a runner’s high, and let me tell you, it’s real. Now, I’m not a professional runner, let alone a varsity runner at my school, but I sure did love running winter of 2015 all the way to fall 2016.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’m taking a break from running as I’m just not feeling it (#intuitive exercise).

Anywho, I’ve been walking a lot more in response. Apparently, you’re supposed to walk 10,000 steps a day. Now, in a culture where we sit down to study, sit down to eat, sit down in the car, sit down just everywhere, that’s hard.

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But…getting those steps gets addictive. At least for me as a Type-A, workaholic, and perfectionist. I’ve been going upstairs and downstairs getting my mom’s bag for her, getting my dad’s keys, just to log more steps. I’ve been running in place while I’m brushing my teeth and flossing. I’ve been walking to and fro in the house while I watch YouTube videos or read a book.

It’s kind of insane and silly to watch me like that in the house, but overall, I’ve been able to log in more steps and truth be told, I do feel like I’m getting enough exercise but just spread over time. So call me someone on walkers high, because honestly, I really just might.

Have you had walkers’ high before?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Secret to weight loss? Act as if you already lost that weight.

Sounds counterintuitive right?

I’ve recently been listening to the Jess Lively podcast. Truth be told, I’ve always been wanting to be that girl listens to podcasts. Serial was the first podcast that was introduced to me. However, 10 minutes into the first episode I had to stop because the locations that were being mentioned were very close to where I was living and I knew that this would freak me out and make me paranoid later on into the podcast. Other podcasts, I was annoyed at the lack of focus and how the people would go off on random tangents, and just as they were about to get to the sweet spot, there would be a commercial break – go figure, right?

Regardless, I’ve recently taken interest in Jess Lively through her YouTube channel. I think she lives a unique and awesome life – like seriously. She sold her home (30 minutes after filming her house tour video) and all the things in her home and currently right now, all her stuff is in her carry-on and suitcase. She’s right now traveling the world – never really knowing where she’s going to be, but simply said going with the flow. Now I haven’t been watching Jess Lively enough to give a thorough introduction about her, but I just wanted to share something from her most recent podcast.

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Jess Lively

During the second half of the interview, Jess and the interviewee Brooke Castillo talk about the mindset of losing weight. And they said that it’s simply NOT thinking about it. To “be the person you think you’ll be when you lose that weight. Act as if you already lost that weight.”

Be the person you think you’ll be when you lose that weight. Act as if you already lost that weight. How would you eat and view your body differently?

Jess and Brooke talked about when we think we’re overweight, we eat more because we say “Oh I’m already fat, so why not just eat some more? Why not continue binging? Why not just eat more even if I’m full? I’m not skinny so I might as well just treat myself because either way, I’m going to be fat.”

Or we think: “I want to be skinny, but I’ll work on that after this meal. I’ll just eat a lot now, and then starting tomorrow I’ll eat healthier.”

Instead, imagine: when you are at the smaller size and you get to your goal weight, will you eat that much? Will you be so lax and hard on your body? No! You’ll be loving your body – how it looks and how it feels.

I think the key is that we should foster and practice those habits that we will be doing after we lose that weight, after we get to our goal weight, after we get to that goal body.

And that makes sense – why do things that will make you gain even more weight when what you want to do is lose weight?

And that makes sense – why do things that will make you gain even more weight when what you want to do is lose weight?

So, in short: Be the person you think you’ll be when you lose that weight.

If it’s hard for you to imagine, think of a friend that you think is a model for the healthy lifestyle or the body that you want. I have one friend, and truth be told, it’s not Serena!!! This friend of mine, actually doesn’t like healthy food. Read: she doesn’t like avocado, almond milk, hummus or chickpeas. BUT… what I admire about her is that she eats slowly, she eats when she’s hungry and stops when she’s full, she eats all the food groups in moderation but she when she indulges, she only takes a small portion.

Thus, that’s why I envision myself and imagine myself to be when I get to my goal weight. So why not practice that right now?

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As we head of this weekend, let’s not think “Cheat meal!” “Let’s indulge!” since is that what our future, weight-loss successful selves would think? NO! Take a moment and think to yourself, “what would I do, how would I act if I was skinner, if I was more toned, if I was more ____?” And that answer is exactly what you do this weekend.

 

What habits do you want to start practicing?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

The Journey to Self-Love

Happy International Women’s Day!

In commemoration of this holiday, I want to talk about self-love. This is a topic that I think that every woman in this world should hear.

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A couple of my friends at school make fun of me that it’s easy to identify which posts are mine because they see the #everythinginmoderation #bodylove #bodyimage whether it’s on this blog or on my Instagram. While they make fun of me and I smile outside, inside, I’m frustrated because they don’t know the struggle I went through and still going through with my body.

I’m embarrassed to say this, but I’m not too confident on my body. There are many times when I stop in front of the mirror and ask why I’m not thin and why I’m not skinny when I eat so healthy and when I exercise often. Perhaps my friends never struggled with their body image. But I have. Loving my body the way it is and loving it from the inside out is something that has been very hard.

So in this post, I’m not going to talk about how to find self-love because I haven’t achieved it or even close to achieving it myself. However, I want to share and how that maybe this could be a platform where other women can share about their struggle and journey to self-love.

I find that it’s hard to open up on my story. As I mentioned above, whenever I post something on Instagram that’s remotely linked to this topic, my friends back at school make fun of me. Only a handful of friends know my story, and only one back at home asks me every time I come home for break and checks up with me. And I’m forever grateful to have such a friend like that.

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I do have to add that when I had my myriad of injuries this fall – including a stress fracture – I was able to gain a new perspective. I realized how blessed and how lucky I am to have a fully functioning and healthy and strong body that allowed me to do whatever I wanted to. Being in that boot for 6 weeks allowed me to gain a new perspective in that being thin, having that thigh gap, having a flat stomach, having slim arms, that’s all OUTSIDE the point. My body for 16 years and counting has been giving me energy to run, walk, sleep, laugh, hang out with my friends, travel, study, dance, and more. And I should be loving my body. Note the word “should.” As soon as I got off that boot, however, I tried to get back into running as soon as I could so I could get back into shape. I know, not much of a progress, but I just wanted to share a little anecdote.

I really hope that our community, our friends, our world can be a more accepting place and a place where all women can share their struggle and journey to self-love. Since I personally think that it’s so black and white. It’s either lose weight! Be like this celebrity! Change your body because it’s not good enough! To the other end of the spectrum which advocates to completely loving every inch of your body. There is no in-between and frankly, a lot of women are in that gray area.

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I know..:) Kind of a funny picture! But just wanted to show my face for once that I’m serious about this post. Dead serious. (Although I had to do the sunglasses b/c my parents are still a bit hesitant of having my face on the blog haha. Hopefully it’ll change)

So while we may never come to achieving complete self-love, I hope that through discussions and transparent blog posts, we can slowly and slowly inch towards that goal.

What has your journey to self-love been like?

xoxo,

Stephanie

My Stretching Routine

I have to give credit where credit is due. While I’m not athletic (at all, trust me), I do consider myself quite flexible. I did ballet for a couple of years when I was in kindergarten and first grade and and then on and off during fourth grade, but I don’t think ballet really had anything to do with me and my flexibility.

Flexibility is crucial – it keeps your muscles elongated and supple, reduces the risk of injury, and helps with recovery. For me, my mom “forced” me to stretch every night before bed so that I can grow taller. As a daughter where her dad is 5’7″ (around 170cm) and 5’1″ (around 150 cm), anything that could help me grow taller by even a centimeter was accounted for.

However, even though I’ve stopped growing, this habit of stretching has ingrained in my head and body, that I stretch literally every night I go to sleep.

Below is my stretching routine:

 < Before Bed >

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SINGLE LEG HAMSTRING STRETCH | the key is to keep a straight back and a straight leg, you don’t have to touch your toes
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BOTH LEG HAMSTRING STRETCH | again, the key is to keep a straight back and a straight leg, you don’t have to touch your toes
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BUTTERFLY STRETCH | you don’t necessarily have to be as this happy as this woman, haha; BUT, the key is to keep a straight back while trying to push your knees closer to the ground – you should feel a stretch in your inner thighs
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LYING DOWN QUAD STRETCH | If you’re uber flexible, or you get used to this stretch and want to feel a deeper stretch, try lying down where with your back on the ground 😉

 

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SEATED TORSO TWIST | the key in this stretch is to keep a straight back and every time you breathe out, to twist your body a bit more

 < During the day/In the morning >

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STANDING UP SIDE STRETCH | The key is to keep your feet and legs together and to apply pressure on them. As you apply pressure on your lower body, while keeping a straight back lean to one side and hold. Then reset and lean to the other side. Make sure to breathe!
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STANDING UP LEANING BACK STRETCH | The key is to keep your pelvis stable and to lean your pelvis forward. This allows for maximum stretch. Also, keep your legs and feet together.
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CHAIR TORSO TWIST | I think you got the hang of it by now, but keep a straight back. As you breathe out, twist a bit more.
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STANDING QUAD STRETCH | Everybody has different flexibilities, so move your raised leg forward or backward from your body to get the right stretch. For stability, fix your gaze on ONE point on the ground.
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STANDING HAMSTRING HANG STRETCH | The key is to make sure your legs are straight (don’t make those knees buckle in!) and your back to be straight!

Try to incorporate at least ONE of these stretches this week! I think you’ll feel a difference!

How flexible are you?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Intuitive Exercise?

 

Today, I want to talk about intuitively exercising. I really want to experiment with this “intuitive exercise” thing for a month and perhaps give you guys an update.

As many of you guys know, I am pretty strict and regimented about my exercising routine (as you can see from my various exercise blog posts). However, for the past three weeks or so, I’ve gone to the gym perhaps in total of three times. I know…gasp. It’s a surprise for me as well.

Now, I don’t know why all of a sudden, my motivation and love for exercise died down. Perhaps it’s because of all the injuries I’ve gotten this past year (knee problems, shin problems, foot stress fracture) and perhaps because I got cut from winter track this year that I really wasn’t required to run every day like I was in the fall with cross-country or last year when I did winter track. I don’t know. I really can’t say what the reason was.

Regardless, I’ve trying to get back into exercise. And I want to get back by intuitively exercising. And this means whatever makes me move and makes my heart pump for at least 30 minutes. At that means at that instant – that instant where you realize you should exercise — what do you want to do? What makes you excited to move around?

Whether that means I’m foolishly dancing to songs, whether that means I run for 10 minutes and walk for 20 minutes, whether that means I go on a hike with my parents, whether that means I go shopping with my mom (which always takes longer than 30 minutes), whether that means I go on YouTube and find a 30 minute full-workout video or do a nice relaxing yoga session, as long as I’m moving and my heart rate is increasing, I’m good.

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Taking a walk with my friends

I think this makes exercise so much more enjoyable. Not that running wasn’t enjoyable to me. I think because I came back from so many running injuries and thus had a hiatus from running, my endurance and stamina for running has dropped significantly. And being the Type-A perfectionist I am, every time I go on a run after my injury, I am striving to get to those splits and times and mileage again. Which is unhealthy. And which makes my body struggle and makes the whole exercise experience unenjoyable.

Therefore, I’m just going to do whatever floats my boat. Intuitive exercise doesn’t mean that I’m going to get out of shape or gain weight. In fact, some of the most slimmest countries do just that! Reading about the Japanese or Korean or Europeans, while these countries have the most delicious foods (at least in my opinion), the natives are so slim. Why? First their portions are small (what Serena just wrote about) and second, they walk A LOT. In America, we tend to rely a lot on our cars – but in these countries, there’s a lot of walking. While there’s still public transportation, walking to and from the bus stop, train stop, and all sorts all adds up. And so these people eat good food and stay in shape by simply walking! So don’t be afraid/think that your exercise regime isn’t “hard enough” – as long as you’re moving and you love what you’re doing to exercise, then you’re all set!

 

Do you intuitively exercise?

xoxo,

Stephanie