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:

puppyspot_fido_fitness_x2_v02

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 😀

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!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

< 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! 🙂 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!

 

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

< 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!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
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

 

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.

stress_eat_cover2
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

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 😉

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 🙂

BanffBagels.JPG

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

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
Veggie burger and a side salad! Yumm
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Green tea ice cream! I was so shocked to find this flavor in the middle of a national park!!
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
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.

LakeLouiseInnBreakfast.JPG
Best ever!!
PinkPots.JPG
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.

Paddling.JPG
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. 

 

Lately Obsessed #6

As much as I love traveling, it’s also been great to finally settle down and spend time at home. Given that I attend school away from home, I love being at home. I love the little things – going to the grocery stores that I’ve been going since 8 years old, seeing license plates in my home state rather than my school’s state, eating my mom’s food, living in my childhood room, going to my home gym, going to church with my childhood friends.

Here are few of my lately obsessed.

 

image1 (2)

ONE// Kdrama, Kpop

For the longest time, I was never really a big fan of KDrama or Kpop. Yes, I am Korean-American, but my parents never really turned on KDrama or turned on Kpop. Funny enough, a lot of my high school friends (let alone my roommate) love Kpop. So I’ve been slowly becoming a lover of Kpop. I’ve always just listened to the Kpop music my roommate has turned on. I’ve lately obsessed with Big Bang (I know, so late) and especially G-Dragon’s new “Kwon Ji Young” album. KDrama has been more familiar with me. The KDrama that got me officially hooked and sold on KDrama was “My Love from Another Star.” Are there any KDrama or Kpop fans out there like me? If so, any recommendations?

 

IMG_7853

TWO// Stationery

Of course, coming back from Japan and Korea, I just had to get stationery. Without a doubt, Japanese and Korean stationery is THE BEST. Every time I buy some stationery in Korea, all my friends back in America ask me where I got it. I tend to always buy some extra stationery for my friends who desperately want some.

As I’m studying for SAT’s, yes that dreaded time of high school has come, I’ve been studying quite a lot this summer. And I’ve been using the Japanese and Korean stationery I’ve bought into good use!

 

THREE// Spending time with my mom and dad ❤

Especially being away home for school, I really cherish every moment I get to spend with my parents. Maybe it’s because I’m an only child, but my parents are literally my best friends. Everything that I know, they know, and there is never a single time that I’m not cranking up with them. It’s been so nice to be able to spend so much time with my favorite duo during the summer.

Learning from Travel

Just when you thought that I was gone, surprise! Stephanie back again!

I just came back a three-week trip and suffering terribly from jet lag. I went to Japan for two weeks for a cultural exchange program and then met up with my parents in Korea where I stayed for a week.

As much as travel is travel, attending a cultural exchange program really allowed me to become immersed into the culture. And of course, the foodie I am, while I was in Japan, I was hyper-aware of the food and the attitude around food.

In the 14 days I was there, I learned for myself why Japan is so well-known for its healthy and slim population.

IMG_7515.JPG
a standard meal 😉

ONE // portion size

First off, portion size. Even before I went to Japan, I knew from the numerous articles I read on the internet, that Japanese (and French and pretty much the rest of the world) eat much less than us in the States. Those sites weren’t kidding – I don’t know what I was expecting for smaller portion size but I don’t think anything would have gotten me prepared for the ridiculously small portion sizes!

It really may depend on the family, but my host family (oh my gosh, they were the sweetest!) did eat very little. And while it was hard to adjust at first, that adjustment and change was all part of the experience.

To put it in perspective, a meal that looks like it could be served to one person in the States, was shared by four people (two adults and two high schoolers) while I was in Japan. Eating in such a way for two weeks, my stomach and appetite has definitely shrunk.

The other day, I was eating my classic avocado toast meal and I felt so full even though I was only halfway into the meal! Usually I still feel hungry after two pieces of toast, but the other day, I already felt full only after finishing the first piece!

img_7307.jpg
I wasn’t kidding…

TWO// three square meals, no snacks

Another big thing I learned is that they eat very little if not no snacks. For my host family, we ate three square meals – but usually when we say square, we mean a big meal, but if you look at number one, square meals in Japan are like the quarter of the size of a square meal in America haha. I think the two weeks I was there, my host family’s mom offered snacks around three times. And the after-school snack was three pieces of watermelon with three pieces of melon. Not your usual mini-meal.

Also, because I was there as a cultural exchange, my host skipped her basketball practice and instead just went home with me. However, on usual days, my host and the rest of the student body have clubs from 3:30-6:30. These clubs range from sports (basketball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, etc) to music activities (orchestra, band). And the average commute time is 90 minutes! So when these students come back home, they eat dinner at around 8pm (when lunch was at 12:30pm!) I was alarmed at how little these Japanese students ate compared to their activity levels.

IMG_7128.JPG
Yes..it is white rice – but relatively healthy and small in portion. Much better than white bread sandwiches with heaps of mayo and cured meats.

THREE// they just eat.

One night in my second week staying in Japan, my host family and I started talking about the different cuisine and lifestyles between Japan and the States. My host said that while Japan is known to be healthy from other countries, she claimed that not a lot of Japanese people actually think that they eat healthy. Japanese people don’t make a conscious effort or decision to eat healthy. Unlike a lot of “healthy” people here in the States (I’m putting healthy in quotes because of this blog post) who eat salads everyday and go to SoulCycle, Japanese people just eat what they are given. They just eat. Their cuisine in itself is just healthier. In the two weeks I was there, I think I had red meat once if not at all. However, despite not eating a lot of red meat compared to back home, I didn’t feel like I was nutritionally deficient. They eat the feared carbs – they eat rice every meal – yet, they are still slim. Why? Because they eat everything in moderation and smaller proportion.

I have much more to share about what I learned while in my two weeks in Japan. But the other tidbits are more personal and specific to my body image and self-love. I’ll be sharing tomorrow 🙂

But in all, I never expected to learn so much while traveling. Most of my traveling after 8th grade has been to Korea to visit my grandparents. Going to Korea is kind of like going to Nantucket/Cape Cod for some in the States. I don’t go to explore and discover new places in Korea, but more to just spend time with family and friends and doing the mundane things – eating, shopping, and some R&R. So going to Japan this summer was such a mindblowing and amazing experience. Of course, other than food I learned other things, but I decided to share the food aspects on the blog today.

Have you learned something from your travels before?

xoxo

Stephanie

Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep-it’s super important for physical and emotional well-being. People who are well-rested are more energetic, productive, and alert. And I must say, waking up after an amazing sleep is an awesome feeling!

Interestingly, sleep regulates the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) and full (leptin). When you get less sleep than recommended, your ghrelin goes up and leptin goes down, which is why you feel hungrier after getting little sleep than when you’re well-rested.

So how much sleep do you need?

  • Teenagers (14-17):  8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range  remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours
http://time.com/3691992/sleep-hours-recommendations/

Unfortunately, most people struggle with falling asleep. A study done by Consumer Reports says that 68% of Americans struggle with sleep at least once a week. That’s approximately 164 million people.

 

unnamed.jpg

So, here are my tips for getting a good night’s sleep!

  • I find that dimming my bedroom lights an hour before sleeping by only turning on my lamp helps tremendously in helping me fall asleep. It prepares my body for sleep by creating a peaceful environment.
  • Make your bed before sleeping. I find that slipping into a nicely made bed is one of the most comforting feelings! If you’re looking for a new bed or some new sheets, I would check out this new bed from Leesa!
  • Have a bedtime ritual. Mine’s is showering right before I go to sleep. The steam feels so refreshing and having a ritual every night signals to my body that it is time to sleep 🙂

Ok, writing about getting ready to sleep makes me feel sleepy! Happy resting!

Love,

Serena

 

Making My Own Kombucha

Kombucha. You’ve probably heard about this fizzy, probiotic drink from plenty of food and wellness bloggers. Kombucha is the product of fermenting sweetened tea using a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). Kombucha has been lauded for its ability to

  • Improve Digestion
  • Weight Loss
  • Increase Energy
  • Detox
  • Support Immune System
  • Reduce Joint Pain
  • Prevent Cancer

But, kombucha typically sells for $3-6 at supermarkets, which can really add up overtime! I decided to brew my own kombucha to see if it actually lives up to its health claims.

I started brewing my kombucha in February and I used a recipe by The Kitchn; it’s super detailed and explains everything step-by-step.

Just as a helpful note:

Batch Size: To increase or decrease the amount of kombucha you make, maintain the basic ratio of 1 cup of sugar, 8 bags of tea, and 2 cups starter tea per gallon batch. One scoby will ferment any size batch, though larger batches may take longer. (The Kitchn)

One of my friends’ sister was brewing kombucha as well, and I used a piece of her SCOBY.

Improving-SCOBY-Health
The scoby looked a little something like this! (Improving-SCOBY-Health.jpg)

I kept the kombucha in a dark area and let it sit and brew. Every couple weeks, I would give it a taste test to  make sure it wasn’t too sweet, but it also wasn’t too sour and vinegar-like. Finally, at the end of April, I decided it was ready!

 

 

 

IMG_6248.JPG
Look at that scoby!

IMG_6249.JPG  IMG_6252.JPG

So, you can see that the scoby grew to be huge and super thick. The kombucha tasted sweet and vinegary, with just the right amount of carbonation. I drank 1/2 cup of kombucha a couple times every week, so here are my observations:

  • Claims to improve digestion –> From my experience, I was actually more gassy than before!
  • Increases energy –> I guess the vinegary kick from the kombucha did give me more energy…but the drink is super sugary, and the longer it was left in the fridge, the sweeter it got (something to do with the fermentation process…), and for me personally, the kombucha was too sweet.

In conclusion, I don’t really think kombucha is worth the hype based on how it made me feel. I must admit that I do feel very healthy sipping that ice-cold kombucha, but at the end of the day, I don’t think it is worth the money, or effort and time to make it.

What do you think about kombucha?

Love,

Serena