2018 Reflections, Onward to 2019!

2018 Reflections, Onward to 2019!

Last year, 2018, marked the hardest year of my life so far. Countless days of studying for standardized tests, working through the most difficult semesters of high school (junior spring + senior fall), applying for college, and struggling to resolve family matters took a tremendous toll on my wellbeing. But, highs always come with lows, and as I scrolled through my camera roll at all of my pictures from the past year, I know that there is much to be thankful for.

2018 began with good food and family time…

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1/1/18 breakfast at the best coffee shop with my family

And continued with friends…

 

Travel to old and new destinations…

 

Many trips to my favorite city, NYC…

 

Lots of golf with my favorite team…

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Exploring my passion for sustainability…

 

And of course, indulging in lots of food…

 

Thank you, 2018, for all of the struggles and new experiences!

I hope that 2019 will bring lots of growth for me, as I complete high school and embark on my college journey. I usually don’t make “resolutions,” but I will set new (and hopefully attainable) wellness-focused goals for myself to start off this year.

  1. Food – this winter break, I indulged on practically every meal. With the holiday season and large family feasts, I made it a habit to finish everything on my plate, even if the amount was too much. As a result, I didn’t feel healthy, and tried to offset my meals by working out. But I know from experience that diet is the single most important factor in a healthy lifestyle, and these are my food goals for 2019…
    1. Break the habit of eating past 8pm! (Only do this on special occasions)
    2. Portion control (only one plate of food/meal)
  2. Prioritize sleep and try to wake up earlier – After watching many productivity/lifestyle Youtube videos, I have been feeling very inspired to start waking up earlier. My goal is: wake up at 6:30 AM everyday, with the hope of reaching 6AM. Of course, this will mean that I have to sleep earlier.
  3. Write one blog post/month!
  4. Read more books for pleasure…I’m currently reading The Girl on the Train…would recommend for those who enjoy psychological thrillers and mysteries!
  5. Be more respectful of parents
  6. Work hard and play hard

 

What are your New Year’s resolutions, and what have you learned from 2018?

Love,

Serena

 

 

I choose well over healthy.

I choose well over healthy.

As a high school senior, college applications have been an overwhelming force. But to be truthful, writing these applications was an opportunity to be reflective. And one of my supplementary essays asked me what my favorite word was.

I knew when I first read that prompt, I knew that “healthy” was definitely NOT one of my favorites. I’ve had a hard time with the word “healthy.” I was told to reach a “healthy” weight, told to eat a “healthy” diet, to exercise in a “healthy” way, to have a “healthy” relationship with my food.

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And during that time when the doctor and my friends told me these things, my head was screaming NO KIDDING, YOU THINK I DON’T WANT TO BE HEALTHY? I CAN’T BE HEALTHY BECAUSE IT’S PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY HARD FOR ME. 

“Healthy” was an overwhelming goal, it was to be frank, an annoying and unattainable goal at the time. And much of it has to do with how modern culture has warped the definition of this word. For as long as I remember, “healthy” has been characterized as having a lean physique, always going to the gym (preferably a SoulCycle, boxing, or HIIT workout), eating big green/grain/veggie bowls, and doing daily morning meditations. The food and exercise industry has planted a very deliberate and structured and specific image of this “healthy.” There is a clear and fine line between “healthy” and “unhealthy.”

Things just get even better when we have influencers on Instagram and YouTube living this incredibly healthy life. But rather than providing motivation, all these images compounded creates an incredibly pressuring and burdensome responsibility to be “healthy.”

And so what fueled my recovery was not striving for that “healthy” image, but rather a “well” image. Well seemed more approachable, more manageable.  Well was a much more flexible definition.

Sometimes I might feel great after eating a burger. Sometimes I might feel a bit sick after eating a burger. And wellness lets me focus on maximizing those feeling great moments whereas healthy would automatically label a burger as unhealthy.

And so I choose wellness over healthy. Likewise, I hope society can strive for feeling well. To be at peace with their body. To be content. Rather than feeling the burden of having to fit into the extremely strict and overwhelming definitions of healthy.

Do you choose well over healthy too?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

 

What does it mean to honor and listen to your body? Delving into what intuitive eating means…

What does it mean to honor and listen to your body? Delving into what intuitive eating means…

Some of my friends who read my blog posts ask me what it means to honor and listen to your body. To be frank, listening to your body is a medium that is incredibly hard – harder than the extremes. Based on my experience, restricting or overeating and not exercising at all or overexercising is a lot easier than practicing “moderation.”

Across my recovery, I’ve been recommended to practice intuitive eating, but let me tell you intuitive is very difficult when you’ve been practicing disordered eating. Listening to your body requires a lot of time, patience, and effort.

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To me, listening to my body means to not eat ice cream because I know that my body does not process dairy well. I know that the sluggish and queasy feeling I get in my stomach after eating dairy is not worth the momentary pleasure of eating ice cream. This is not restriction. Restriction would be not getting ice cream because I know there are too many calories in ice cream.

To me honoring my body means going out for an easy run when I’m itchy for some movement. I know that I have been sitting down a lot throughout the week and want to stretch out and give the range of motion my body wants. This is not exercise addiction. Exercise addiction would be exercising despite injuries, despite your body feeling weak and tired.

To me, intuitive eating means not getting seconds because I am aware that my wanting to get seconds is emotional: I had a rough day at school, I have friend drama going on, I have a big test looming ahead. I am aware that my physical hunger has been satisfied. This is not restriction because restriction would be to not eat when my stomach is asking for more food.

Indeed, this is not easy. It’s hard to take the time to reflect, pause, and listen to what your body wants. And even when you are trying to listen, sometimes you are confused as to whether you are listening to your physical self or your emotional self.

This took me an incredibly time (maybe an upward of two years) and I’m still not near perfect. Intuitive eating is never about being perfect and listening to your body every single time. Intuitive eating is about progress, about continually getting better at listening to your body. Because sometimes, you may be physically full but you just might need a little sweet to pick you up. And that’s completely fine.

Going into intuitive eating is first a huge step. To completely ditch the calorie counting in your head, to ditch the “obligation” to exercise, to completely ditch all the rules from society but to only listen to yourself. And even when you decide to practice intuitive eating, it is a hard principle to follow. But read my examples above. Getting to that point took a lot of time, patience and effort but at the end, I feel much more energy and love and self-respect for my body.

You only get to live with your body once. Honor it. Listen to it. No matter how hard it gets.

What will you do today to honor your body?

Xoxo,

Stephanie

Am I in the position to tell people to stop their self-fat shame? To stop their need to restrict food choices and pressure themselves into a certain body standard?

Am I in the position to tell people to stop their self-fat shame? To stop their need to restrict food choices and pressure themselves into a certain body standard?

This is something that’s been lingering in my head a lot. As someone who has recovered from my eating disorder, as someone who has restricted her eating, as someone who feared being labeled fat, i understand where these sentiments are coming from. But I wonder if I am in the position to talk back on those who fat shame themselves and speak in negative body image language.

I do understand that these sentiments are reinforced by the greater society. To be frank, I fell under society’s trap too. As someone who wanted to please others, I wanted to please society’s standard of perfect which unfortunately is very limited to one certain body type.

And having gone through a mentally challenging and physically life changing recovery, one of my life goals (if I can even call it that) has been to make sure no one to go through that sucky process. To ever feel the need to unhappily change their body and their eating habits for someone else’s satisfaction.

However, despite such a conviction four years ago, I still hesitate whenever I hear passing comments that reflect this societal pressure: “Oh, I can’t eat that. I’m going to get fat.” “Woah that’s way too many carbs.” “Oh forget it, I’m just going to eat that cupcake and just be fat.”

I can hear these comments so clearly – even among a bustling conversation – crystal clear. They are triggering, not in that they make me relapse, but in the way that I get incredibly sad but also frustrated that so many girls are thinking in such a way. I want to interrupt and say, “You CAN eat that. There is nothing like bad or good food. All food is fuel and you should nourish your body with what it asks for.”

But then I falter – I wonder if I am being patronizing. I wonder if I’ll be looked at weird for giving such a long talk for such a perceived small but for me a consequential comment.

This year has already made me question this passivity. As someone who’s in the mentor role of the boarding school dorm for freshmen girls, I feel a greater responsibility because it was exactly at their age where upon receiving recovery I decided I won’t let anyone go through the same thing again.

At such a young and impressionable age, I feel a greater need to assert these messages because it’s only going to be a matter of a few days, weeks, months or years that these kind of comments manifest into actual actions.

So I ask you join me in this endeavor. To stop all fat shame, to stop society’s need to justify certain food choices and body sizes. And instead celebrate our ability to move, live and love our bodies.

Debunking the Freshmen 15

Debunking the Freshmen 15

For some reason or the other, I’ve been in a jumble of emotions. First, I’m heading into my last year of high school (insert screaming face emoji here) and that in itself is surreal. I tell my friends this all the time, but I still very much feel like I’m a freshman.

Second, a lot of my friends are heading into their freshmen year of college. And that feels weird too. Although they’ve always been a year ahead of me, it just doesn’t seem right that they should now possess the maturity of a college student. Anyways, some of these friends told me that they were worried about getting the freshmen 15.

For those of you who don’t know, the freshmen 15 is an expression that refers to college freshmen gaining arbitrarily 15 pounds their first year of college.

And now I get it, gaining 15 pounds sounds scary. I mean in this culture gaining any little bit of weight is daunting. As a boarding school student, “freshmen 15” was already buzzing around the halls in the freshmen girls dorm. I even wrote a post two years ago about how to “avoid” the freshmen 15.

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But in many ways now, I personally think the freshmen 15 phrase is dangerous. It is one more time for society to tell us that gaining weight = bad and so conversely, being skinny = good. And this black and white spectrum is a toxic mindset to adopt.

I still vividly remember freshmen year exclaiming, “There goes my freshmen 15” as they took a bite into a slice of pizza. That takes the joy out of eating. The “Freshmen 15” presents one more obstacle to something that was so natural as simply eating when we were hungry and stopping when we are full.

Eating is truly and genuinely for fuel and nourishment. It is just as much an essential, in fact a basic essential, as SLEEP. But then when we go to sleep do we worry about not getting enough sleep? (Actually maybe that might be a concern for some, but it’s not as raved about as the Freshmen 15, no?

Why do we have to create certain limits and fears and “rules” to an essential? If you are hungry eat! If you have a craving, respond to that craving. I’ve talked about this many times on the blog before, but our bodies are a lot smarter than we think.

Respect. Listen. And Honor your body. Don’t shy away from getting to know your new dorm mates because you know there’s going to be Chinese take out. Don’t ignore a text to go out to dinner at a restaurant you know is “Freshmen 15 conducive.” Live life. Enjoy life. Understand that food can be a very social thing and that yeah, you might gain weight. But that shouldn’t be your biggest worry. It’s just not worth your time. I promise.

Have you heard of the Freshmen 15?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

Food Explorations in Ecuador (Ecuador Part One)

Food Explorations in Ecuador (Ecuador Part One)

Recently, my mom and I travelled to Ecuador  to volunteer at a small organic farm in the Galapagos Islands, and to explore the country. In the next series of blog posts, I will be describing my experience in Ecuador, starting with Part One: Food Explorations.


Desayunos (Breakfast)

Our hotel breakfast was our first meal in Ecuador. When we entered the dining

IMG_1939area/reception area, we were immediately greeted by a woman who asked us (in Spanish) what we wanted to eat. Unfortunately, both my mom and I do not understand or speak Spanish, so we both stared at her helplessly, until my mom pulled out her phone to use Google Translate (the translate app became our best friend on this trip!). For breakfast, we had scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, bread, and yogurt. All pretty standard breakfast foods at my house!

 

Almuerzo (Lunch)

Thankfully, avocados are highly abundant and extremely cheap in Quito, Ecuador. One supermarket that I ventured into was selling five avocados for $1 total! Every lunch and dinner that we had in Quito included avocado (thank God!!).

Below is one of my lunches in Quito. Since I am pescetarian, it was a bit difficult to order food, since the majority of the dishes contain chicken, beef or pork. But, I was able to find this vegetarian dish. Since the water in Ecuador is not safe for travelers, I could not consume any raw vegetables or fruit washed in tap water. Thus, I ate close to no vegetables in Quito 😦 (When we arrived back in America, I had a huge salad and green juice immediately!).

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The dish pictured includes: half a “salad” of half an avocado, a couple lettuce leaves, and a slice of tomato, with steamed green beans and a tiny carrot slice, steamed corn, and two llapingacho (fried potato cake).

Throughout my time in Quito, I found myself constantly eating corn, rice, and potatoes. Additionally, fried foods (like slachipapas-fries) are very popular here.

So, if you are going to Ecuador, be prepared for solely carbs and protein. Not my favorite type of food, but, to each his own!

Thankfully, I was able to find some healthier food at a restaurant we stumbled upon. The dish included a humongous piece of salmon, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, and avocado. Freshly baked bread rolls, salad, and cheese also came with the meals.

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Throughout my time in Ecuador, I probably drank juice (jugos) every day, as it is a very standard drink with meals. At home, juice is extremely rare, as it is either too sweet or too expensive. But, in Ecuador, since we couldn’t drink the water, juice was the only other option. Some restaurants served freshly squeezed juice! Popular options included naranjilla juice, orange juice, blackberry juice, guava juice, guayaba juice, guanabana (soursop) juice, maracuya juice, and papaya juice.

Cena (dinner)

IMG_2119Unsurprisingly, dinner was also solely rice, corn, and meat 😦 However, the one exception was ceviche, a sour soup with small chunks of seafood, onions, and tomatoes. Every chance I could get, I ordered this dish because it was delicious and not fried.

The first picture is an appetizer: small plantain “cups” with cheese, some kind of salsa, mushroom, and avocado sauce.

 

 

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Rice with fried chicken, fried plantains, and avocado.

 

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Fish CEVICHE! Of course the dish includes fried plantain chips, popcorn, and popped corn kernels.

After traveling around Quito for several days, we headed to the GALAPAGOS ISLANDS! I was very excited about this part of the trip because the Galapagos is well known for its abundant wildlife and beauty.

My mom and I lived on a small farm in San Cristobal island. The farm is located in a very rural part of the island, so there were no easily accessible restaurants in walking distance. We cooked our own meals, and had to browse in supermarkets often. Although one would expect that with farms occupying 90 percent of the island, produce would be abundant and cheap, we found that the opposite was true. Families in the Galapagos usually farm for themselves and sometimes the surrounding community, so all other foods must be imported, making everything very expensive. One jar of imported peanut butter costed $12! But, the homemade peanut butter sold at a few restaurants was only about $2. Also, all of the packaged foods in the supermarkets (flour, cereal, rice, snacks, etc.) were all enriched with various chemicals to boost their nutrient quantity.

We did travel to explore the other islands for a couple days with a tour group. Since the meals were from a pre-selected menu for tourists, we essentially had the same foods every day: soup, a main dish of rice, vegetables, and seared fish, and dessert.

If you are traveling to Ecuador, or another Spanish speaking country, here is a list of Spanish terms related to food that I used constantly during my trip. Note: I learned Spanish in elementary school, so these terms may not be the correct spelling or grammar, the list is just for beginners 🙂

  • Desayunos (breakfast), almuerzo (lunch)
  • Quanto questa? (how much does it cost?)
  • Pescado (fish)
  • Camaron (shrimp)
  • Ceviche (popular seafood dish)
  • Jugo (juice)
  • Queso (cheese)
  • Pan (bread)
  • Aguacate (avocado)
  • Huevos (eggs)
  • Leche (milk)
  • Agua (water)
  • Con (with, ex. cereal with milk)

Overall, I would have to say that Ecuador is far from a healthy foodie haven. However, the travel experiences make the country more than worth the trip.

Stay tuned for the next parts in this Ecuador series, in which I will share more about my experience living on a farm!

Love,

Serena

TEDx: Do you already love yourself? | Discussing what it means to practice self-love

TEDx: Do you already love yourself? | Discussing what it means to practice self-love

Today was quite an emotional day for me.

I gave a TEDx speech about my eating disorder and how it helped me learn what self-love truly means.

While yes, I did slip up during my TEDx speech, standing in front of the audience and finally putting into words my eating disorder was an overwhelming experience for me.

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I’m so thankful for having the opportunity to talk about how my eating disorder shaped me and ultimately discover what self-love truly means.

For those interested, below is the transcript of my TEDx speech.

Hope you enjoy!


 

It was exactly around this time four years ago that I started my eating disorder. While I can’t pinpoint the specific start date, what I do remember is this. I was currently taking a week-long trip in Rome during spring break with my Latin class and was eating well. And I’m not taking that “eating well” lightly. I was eating rich pastas and gelato every. Single. day. But eating well was common to me. Growing up, my food consumption always went into my height. I never had a problem with my weight or my self-confidence. This is not to say I was arrogant and self-centered, it’s just to say that I never really paid much attention to my appearance.

 

But coming back from the Rome trip, I decided to lose some weight. Part of the reason was all that pasta and gelato I indulged on. But the bigger reason was that I started noticing I was a bit chubbier than my other friends who happened to be all stick thin. Now, for someone who grow up not paying attention to her weight that much, these foreign and unfamiliar thoughts overwhelmed me.

 

Nevertheless, not knowing any better, I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app. For those who don’t know MyFitnessPal, this is an app that tracks your caloric intake to lose weight, gain weight or maintain weight. Of course, in my case, I was using it to lose weight. I put in my current weight, goal weight, my activity level.  Being the “goody-two shoes” girl I am, I religiously followed the 1,200 calories that this app instructed for me to eat.

 

It became a routine. Half a bagel for breakfast. A meager salad for lunch entailing a handful of spinach, cucumbers, and tomatoes and of course, no dressing. And another meager salad for dinner. No drinks except water. No snacks no matter how hungry I was. No cakes, no processed food, only this and nothing more. I did this for three months while running track, or at least attempting to run track given how little I ate.

 

And soon enough, Food consumed my life. When I wasn’t eating, I was drooling over my next meal. When I was eating, I became guilty for eating too much. My mind was always noisy. Voices of “Stephanie, don’t eat that. Stephanie, you are fat. Stephanie, you need be hungry or else you’re not doing it right.” My calorie counting became another class for me. I obediently counted and measured my food logging into the MyFitnessPal app. A good day meant that I went under my 1,200 calories. A bad day meant that I went over my 1,200 calories. My life became purely numbers: the 1,200 calories, sub 100 pounds on the scale, the size double zero on my clothes.

 

But I am not here to storytell about my eating disorder. While I do not consider myself fully recovered, I feel enoughly distanced and detached from it now that I can talk about it with a fresh perspective. I’ve realized how much food is a representation of myself, of ourselves. It’s how we take care of ourselves, it’s how we view ourselves – whether that is subconsciously or consciously.

 

As someone with a perfectionist and Type-A personality, I wanted one more aspect in my life to control, to perfect. And that perfect standard meant being skinny, meant restricting my food choices, meant over-exercising, and ultimately, losing a sense of myself in the process to become society’s perfect.

 

But as much food is a representation of ourselves – whether that’s the perfectionist side of ourselves or the more complacent side of ourselves – in this modern 21st century we’re living in,  it’s so easy to believe what we’re supposed to be. We’re supposed to be the health nut who lives on kale salad and avocado toast. We’re supposed to be fitness maniac who loves going on morning runs. We’re supposed to be a certain size and live this supposedly “healthy” lifestyle that ultimately makes us feel unhappy and unfulfilled.

 

Doubting our ability to provide the best for our own bodies, we create habits—or, more accurately, unrealistic and restrictive rules that we impose on ourselves. We trust others’ rules and opinions to fix our own bodies—but why? The culture assumes it has the authority to show how we’re taught to love ourselves. The media and current slew of weight-loss programs teach us that our habits will ultimately allow us to love ourselves. We have to eat green smoothie with kale and spinach and whatnot, and we should only eat desserts that are made from all-organic, vegan ingredients. If we don’t, we’re taught to believe that we are not taking care of ourselves or valuing our bodies.

 

However, in reality, I believe that our love reflects our habits. The true order is actually switched. We already love ourselves. Let me repeat that, we already love ourselves.

 

Our habits do not lead us to feel self love. No, our already existing self love forms our habits.

 

We do not eat well to feel self love. We do not exercise to feel self-love. We are constantly bombarded with fat-free, low-carb, low-calorie food ads. But these ads are simply for us to be in the illusion that by eating these foods, we will in the future, love ourselves. That we will in some unforeseen future, will finally accept ourselves.

 

But the truth is, we already accept ourselves. We already love ourselves. The fact that you are living right now. The fact that you are breathing right now goes to show how much you love yourself.

 

Once you realize and fully believe that you do indeed already love yourself, the food you eat simply becomes a reflection of this acceptance and abundant love for yourself. And so, no food is bad or good. There is no moralizing involved because we are already good, we are already loved, we are already enough.

 

By no longer having to quantify our worth, we no longer eat excessively to feed our inner psychological need, nor do we over-exercise to reach a certain body type built upon elusive happiness. Instead, we eat for physical nourishment, and we exercise for physical vigor and strength.

 

We eat a green kale salad to honor our body’s physical needs. But we also eat a hamburger to respond to our body’s natural emotional need. We exercise to give the movement and strength our body wants. We live life not to love ourselves, but we live life to affirm this great love for ourselves. I already love myself. You already love yourself. We already love ourselves. And that should be enough.

 

 

 

 

 

What to do in NYC During the Holidays

What to do in NYC During the Holidays

New York City is one of my favorite places to visit during the holidays because of the beautiful Christmas displays, endless things to do and see, and of course, the huge selection of food! Here are my favorite activities in NYC during Christmas time.

1.) Walk around holiday markets. These markets are great places to shop for unique Christmas gifts, or just to “window shop!” Everything from Christmas ornaments to loose-leaf teas are sold, and there are markets around the city, including in Columbus Circle, Bryant Park, and Union Square.

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2.) Visit an Instagram-famous bakery. If you have an Instagram or Facebook, you’ve definitely seen those Insider videos of delicious-looking baked goods, oozing with cream or dripping with chocolate. There are numerous “Instagram-famous” bakeries across New York City, and it’s definitely worth it to visit one of them. My favorite bakery is Bibble and Sip, and here, you definitely don’t have to feel embarrassed about taking multiple pictures of your food at different angles; every time I go to Bible and Sip, there are always people attempting artsy photos of their food. My favorite dessert from Bibble and Sip is the matcha cream puff. It is a must-try!!

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Portuguese Egg Tart, Earl Grey Cream Puff, and Matcha Cream Puff (my favorite!)

 

3.) Watch a Broadway Show. Bibble and Sip is conveniently located 10 minutes walk away from Columbus Circle, and 5 minutes away from Broadway theaters, so definitely make this list of things to do in NYC into an itinerary! New York is THE place to go for amazing Broadway shows. My favorite show is definitely “Wicked,” but I’ve also really enjoyed watching “Phantom of the Opera,” and I hear “Les Miserables” is wonderful as well.

4.) Eat a sit-down meal. No trip to NYC would be complete without having a sit-down meal in the city full of the best restaurants in the country. Recently, I took a trip to Blue Ribbon Sushi (best sushi I’ve ever tasted!), Ippudo, and Pure Thai Cookhouse (amazing prices!).

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Pure Thai Cookhouse

So, there you have it, my favorite things to do in NYC during the holidays!

What restaurant/bakery are you dying to try in NYC?

Love,

Serena

Ditch the New Years Gym Membership…workout at home instead!

Ditch the New Years Gym Membership…workout at home instead!

Every year, I get surprised as to how close Christmas and New Years is. It seems like just as the Christmas celebrations and dinner parties are over, I have celebrations for New Years right after!

With New Years comes New Year’s Resolutions. There will be a separate post about setting nutrition and fitness resolutions on the blog earlier next week. In the meantime, for those whose New Year’s Resolution is to get a gym membership, hold off.

While my family still has a gym membership, we do not use our gym membership that often. Going to the gym (no matter how close it is), having to look somewhat presentable, and sharing equipment sometimes has it downfalls. I always love fitting in my workout at my house because it’s just so much more convenient. I can wear totally uncoordinated outfits, I can get set up in less than 5 minutes, and there’s no time wasted coming to and from the gym.

Here are a few examples of home workouts to convince you that you can get a solid exercise routine all in the comfort of your house!

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1.Running | I’ve definitely fallen off my runner’s high bandwagon, but I still from time to time return to running because it gets my heart rate up quickly and release endorphins (the “happy” hormone). My go-to method is going outside and running around my neighborhood.

For those who want to run inside without the preying eyes of your neighbors (haha), check out this treadmill guide that was shared to me. It’s one of the most detailed treadmill guides, if not the most detailed guide in general. It divides the guide into best walking, running, training and even most entertainment provided treadmills.

2. YouTube | There’s so many great workout videos that are free on YouTube! I’ve shared a couple on the blog, but some of my favorites are blogilates, Fitness Blender, Ballet Beautiful and PopSugar Fitness. Let me know in the comments below of any other workout channels that you enjoy!

3. 7 minute workout app | I use this app if I’m pressed for time and don’t have time fit in a proper workout in. It’s great because you don’t need any equipment. Just grab your tennis shoes, grab a yoga mat if you want, find an open space in your house and start the workout! This is great for those who are just starting an exercise routine. With anything habitual and lasting, the best way to start is to do it incrementally. You’re going to burn out if you go to the gym for an hour everyday. Start with doing the 7 minute workout two to three times a week and build up from there.

4. Be creative! | For those who really don’t have time to carve out time to workout even at home, try implementing more active things in your daily life. From time to time, I work standing up rather than sitting down all day. I’ll grab my laptop and books and create a small set up on the island in my kitchen. It’s the perfect height for a standing desk. The standing desk is great as well since you can easily squeeze in a few squats or lunges while working. Even when brushing your teeth or when you’re on a call with someone, walk around rather than standing still. Stretch in the morning and in the night. Even the little things will add up overtime, I promise.

So there you have it! Hopefully I’ve convinced some of you that you don’t have to break the bank by signing up for a gym membership this new year.

I hope you all have a fantastic holiday season with your family and friends!

What’s your favorite at home workout?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Taking care of yourself this holiday season

Taking care of yourself this holiday season

I was falling into the black hole of YouTube the other day (you know that hole where you go in to find one video and then 2 hours later, you find yourself watching a totally unrelated video?) and I came across a video featuring Miranda Kerr. It’s actually a worthwhile video to watch, but she said something in the video that really resonated with me.

“If you take care of yourself, then you can give so much more as a mother, you can give so much more to your work …”

Obviously, this quote can be tailored to you: “If you take care of yourself, then you can give so much more as a ________ [friend, daughter, wife, mother …]

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I don’t know why, but I’ve been especially cranky and “off” this holiday season. Throughout the school year, I would get into frequent bouts of feeling “off” to the point where many of my friends felt it.

Now I’m not advocating for people pleasers, but I don’t think it’s fair or ever enjoyable for your friends to deal with negative/pessimistic people. I always feel horrible and sorry when I’m snapping back to my friends or am not my usual chirpy self.

I think this quote is really critical, especially during the holidays when we’re spending so much time with our family and friends. We have to be the best versions of ourselves so that we can step our best foot forward when we’re spending time with others.

For me, that’s to exercise, journal, get lots of sleep, eat nourishing and nutritious food and getting enough alone time. This last one seems counterintuitive, but I often times find myself the most energetic and outgoing with my friends when I’ve had enough time for myself to recharge.

And exercise doesn’t have to be extreme. I usually like to go on runs, but these days I’ve been trying out the barre/pilates/yoga classes at my gym – and completely obsessed! It’s nice to have someone tell you what to do and the class members motivate you to not give up! Or even a simple morning walk with the dog or family is always up my alley.

So in short, remember to pamper and take care of yourself during the holiday season. It can definitely get hectic and busy, but unless you maintain the best version of yourself, you can’t give as much to those around you.

What do you do to recharge/take-care of yourself?

xoxo,

Stephanie