Taking Care of Your Eyes

As much as Serena and I devote much of Avolicious to nutrition and health (and of course body image ramblings by me), I don’t think we’ve talked much about taking care of our skin, our hair, our teeth, and our eyes. I’m planning to do a summer series talking about these sort of basics because I don’t think we hear these enough.

First up, our eyes. I’m not old by any means (still a high schooler), but as I grow older I do realize how much more care and attention I have to put towards my eyes than when I was an elementary school kid.

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Especially as a student, I’m constantly looking at something. The minute I wake up, I look at my iPhone because my iPhone is my alarm. I scroll through Instagram, check my Snaps, look at the news. Throughout the day, I’m either studying or on my phone. For only a couple of hours am I exercising, eating, hanging out with friends (and let’s be real, sometimes even with friends we’re looking at our phones) and sleeping.

So as the kick-off post for this series, here are a few of my tips and advices about taking care of your eyes.

ONE// Nourish

Yes, yes, yes, I’m still going to be talking about the importance of eating healthy. A lot of people (including myself) are jealous at those people who are naturally skinny (cough cough Serena ;)). No matter how much they eat, they don’t gain a pound. However, as much as there is to be jealous about those people, the real people to be jealous about are those who are healthy. Now, I know I discussed the nuances of healthy on the blog previously, but in this context, healthy is good. Having healthy and strong eyes is important. No questions about that. In order to have healthy eyes, you need to nourish your eyes with good food.

While of course mineral-rich vegetables and fruits are a definite no-brainer here are few foods known to be especially good for healthy eyes:

  • carrots
  • eggs
  • blueberries
  • almonds
  • fatty fish (salmon, mackerel)
  • oranges

TWO// Get proper eyewear – eyeglasses and sunglasses

This is probably a no-brainer. Even those who take high-maintenance of their eyes, we’re bound to wear prescription eyeglasses or lenses. Make sure to go get your eyes checked once a year if possible or once every other year at the latest. Listen to your body and see if you have any headaches (as that could be due to wrong prescription). Make sure to get glasses that are light. While chic and stylish glasses are great, you want to make sure they’re light enough so they don’t weigh you down.

Especially in the summer, but also in the winter, make sure to wear sunglasses. It’s hard to get in the habit, but once you start wearing sunglasses, it’ll become a lot easier to wear them consistently.

In need of new eyeglasses and sunglasses? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I’ve recently been obsessed with an eyewear company called Warby Parker. Go and take a look and you’ll be amazed at their amazing selection of eyeglasses and sunglasses. What’s great is that Warby Parker has a Home Try-On system where you can try on 5 pairs for 5 days for FREE!

So you can imagine my sheer excitement when Warby Parker asked us to help share the news that they just launched a limited edition Sculpted Series. These new frames are handcrafted in Italy made from premium acetate. If you’re unsure of how these new frames will look, then use the Home Try-On system!

I mean what’s not to love? Whatever frames you choose, you can’t go wrong! They are all so gorgeous!

THREE// Look away from the screen

Like seriously. With the advent of iPhones, iPads, and etc, we are on our screens too much. Make a conscious effort to take a breather and unplug. Yes, there are instances where we have to be on our phones (studying, business emails etc) but sometimes, it’s unnecessary.

Try to have a check-out time for your phone at night. For example, after 10pm, you can’t go on your phone except for emergencies. Meet up with your friends face-to-face rather than texting or calling. Meeting someone in-person makes a huge difference in how much commitment you have towards that friendship. Taking a complete unplug day once a month, or once a week if daring.

Or even simply distancing yourself a bit more than usual from your computer screen. I remember as a kid my mom would always make me read my book by having my arms straight in front of me.

So there you have it, some tips and (long) advice on how to take care of your eyes!

Make sure to wear your sunglasses when out and about this summer and look away from the screen from time to time!

How do you take care of your eyes? 

xoxo,

Stephanie

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.

 

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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?

 

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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.

You know what’s good for the soul? — JOURNALING

As much as Avolicious is about keeping your physical body healthy and happy, I think discussing our mental body is just as important.

I’ve been keeping a diary ever since I was little. My parents, ever since I started to write, have armed with journal and pencil to write in my diary. Now of course, back in those days, it was just a way for me to practice my handwriting. During elementary and to be honest, early middle school, I didn’t write in my diary at all.

However, I started writing in my diary (I call it now journaling instead) at the middle/end of eighth grade.

And let me tell you, journaling has been so therapeutic to me. Being able to write down all your worries, concerns, thoughts, epiphanies, reflections is such a powerful way to cleanse your mind but to also get some organization and clarity in your life. Seeing your thoughts that used to be jumbled up in your head all laid down on paper refreshes you in ways that only you can experience if you actually do it.

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Here are a few of my tips for you to start journaling:

 

ONE// Don’t force it

There are definitely days when you can write a whole novel in your journal. But then there are days when you just don’t feel like journaling. Especially when I was in a funk in the beginning this summer, I really had no energy to journal.

I think the problem that I faced in elementary school that led me to quit journaling was that it became a burden. The burden of having to journal everyday. And for some reason or another, the human mind, when something becomes a burden, we have less of an urge to actually do it.

So my number one tip for you, is to don’t force it. Journaling works the best when everything just flows out. You want those thoughts and feelings that you are journaling to be in its purest and rawest form. Don’t force it. Period.

 

TWO// Pick a journal and a few pens that you’ll enjoy writing in

Maybe it’s because I’m a stationery junkie, but writing in a great journal with a smooth pen makes all the difference for me. Yes, it’s expensive, but think of it as buying high-end fitness gear. A lot of people who buy Lululemon for their exercise clothes always justify that at the end, they wear their Lululemon clothes the longest and that Lululemon pieces actually motivate them to go to the gym. In the same regard, your journal and pen are going to influence whether you feel motivated or not.

My current favorite is a 0.38 black MUJI pen (yes, I am that picky) and a Moleskine.

 

THREE// There are no rules in journaling

This is another important advice. There are no right’s and no wrong’s in journaling. Whatever feels right to you, is correct. Sometimes I just full on rant. With no paragraph breaks, I just fill up the whole page. Other times, I draw or do bullet points.

Sometimes even, I’m not even journaling. I lay out my goals, my schedule for the coming days, my eating log – my journal becomes my everything and anything. The dumbest thing to do when you start journaling is to be so careful and so wary about writing something “wrong” that you never get into the joy of journaling.

 

So there you have it! If you have any more questions in journaling, while I am by no means am I an expert, please email/comment me!

Have you journaled before?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Learning from Travel part 2

Yesterday’s blog post centered around why I think Japan is known to be such a healthy country from my visit to Japan.

Today’s post is centered around something more personal. If you have been sticking along on the blog for awhile now, you probably know that I, Stephanie, struggling with body image and self-love. As discussed in many posts previous, I am slowly and slowly inching myself to complete freedom. I’m still far but I’m not giving up.

Nevertheless, I’ve been able to make huge steps through my trip to Japan. Who knew that travel was also good for the struggling-with-self-love-and-body-image soul!

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Going to a completely new school where the majority of the student body and teachers spoke Japanese (a language I had no experience in), wearing a uniform, as a complete foreigner was terrifying. Again, as someone who struggled/struggles with body image and self-love on the first couple of days, I was extremely self-conscious about my body. I wanted to appear as thin as possible because a) the uniform was mercilessly unflattering and b) I knew that Japanese people were slim and I didn’t want to be an outsider already from appearance.

But what I was surprised was how much my host’s friends and classmates just didn’t care. Period. It’s hard to describe in writing or even through speaking, but you just know and you just feel it when people are #highkeyjudging.

But I felt none of that. I remember on my last day, all my new friends were saying how much they were going to miss my smile, my sweet demeanor, and my genuine curiosity in Japanese culture. And I believe them. Not once did I feel someone “scanning” me or having that judge-y face or feeling. They truly treated me as just me. As they only saw my inside and never the outside. (Now, important disclaimer: I never ever want any of my readers to think that being larger should be a social hinderance. NO. It’s just that in my own personal thoughts, as an individual, as Stephanie Yoon, I have always had that unhealthy and incorrect idea that thinner is better. Again, I’m still working on switching that attitude.)

I was so struck by this. I don’t know why, but I never felt this much sincerity of actually valuing what you have on the inside than the outside. It’s a sad reality I know. I’m someone who is very hard on myself and felt like only a handful of my close family and friends really valued me from the inside. So this experience in Japan was powerful.

And with this experience, I’ve been able to change as well, for the better. I’ve been able to really treat and value and only consider the inside of my family and friends. As much as I’m hard on myself, I am quite judge-y. It’s definitely something that I’m not proud of but is quite true. However, ever since I’ve been treated differently, I’ve been influenced to treat other differently too.

So with travel, I have first-handed experienced that what matters is NOT on the outside but on the INSIDE.

Do you 120% believe that what matters is on the INSIDE?

xoxo,

Stephanie

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

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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

 

Getting Out of a Funk

I’ve recently been in a funk. After school got out on May 31st, I’ve just lost all motivation and energy. I am an extremely organized and Type-A person – so much so that I plan my days out to the minute. Throughout the school year, before I went to sleep, I would create my schedule from my notes app. It would be something like

 

This sort of method helped me to stay on top of things but I think such a rigid and structured schedule made me completely flop over when school ended.

Things I enjoyed such as blogging, running, and reading, became things I didn’t even consider doing. I just wanted to sleep, eat, and watch videos on YouTube.

It’s hard to describe the feelings exactly but I’m sure many of you guys here can relate those days when you just don’t want to do anything.

But I’m slowly coming out of that funk right now and I have a few tips based on my experience.

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UNPLUG | We unfortunately have these things called electronics and social media. I really really recommend to those who are in a funk to just UNPLUG. We have such a bad tendency to just reach for our phones or our computers whenever we feel lazy or unmotivated. This is procrastination at its finest. I tend to procrastinate on studying or doing work by going on social media rather than spending time with my friends or family or by reading. This past week, I unplugged for just one day and it was such a powerful experience. My emotions and feelings were no longer dependent on these small devices – I felt so free and lighter. Take a day or a few hours to just unplug (if you need to tell some important people beforehand, send them a quick text saying that you’re going to turn off your phone for x amount of hours). You’ll feel refreshed and reset to forget about the sluggish past few days and look forward to a fresh new slate.

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WALK | While I haven’t been running at all this past week, I’ve been walking every night for an hour with my parents. Something about being surrounded by who love you the most in the midst of a light cool evening breeze and just walking it out is therapeutic. Also, walking alone is great too. Listen to some music (or refrain if you’re going to adhere to #1) and take a moment to just reflect and think.

JOURNAL | Maybe it’s because I am a huge journal addict, but I love love journaling. Its really powerful to just jot down your feelings. Sometimes you just don’t know why you’re feeling like you do. You feel sluggish, unmotivated and lazy, but you don’t know WHY. And writing in your journal, it allows you to again, take a minute, reflect, and identify why you’re feeling a certain way and then find ways to solve it.

You can see that in these three tips, the running theme is to TAKE A MINUTE. Just take a moment, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and reflect what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way.

And the most important thing to remember is that we all have those days. It’s normal to feel unmotivated and sluggish. We are not perfect. We are human. We are allowed to feel lazy and not are best selves.

How do you get out of a funk?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

 

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.

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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!

 

 

 

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Look at that scoby!

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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

 

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

Easter Brunch: What I Ate Wednesday! 

For many people, Easter is a day for celebration, complete with lots of scrumptious food.  Here’s a rundown of everything I ate and did on Easter Sunday!

In the morning, I got up early for a 7:30am sunrise service at my church. Following the service, we had a large Chinese breakfast, with four different types of congee (beef, pork, pumpkin, and century egg) with fried crullers, tea-braised hard boiled eggs, steam pork buns, man tou (plain buns), and my favorite, red bean sticky rice cake.

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  Pumpkin Congee
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Tea-braised Eggs

 

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Red Bean Sticky Rice Cake- my favorite!!
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Mantou (plain buns)

 

After church, I went out to practice golf, because the weather was 80 degrees and gorgeous. Around 1 or 2, I came home to have a late lunch. I was sweaty and starving at this point, so I quickly grabbed all the fruit in the fridge, and had a feast of papaya, mango, and jack fruit. The fruit was perfect after a couple hours in the sun. I then had two slices of avocado toast, and finished my meal with some dairy-free ice cream!

  

Almond milk So Delicious ice cream with pistachios

So much good food on Easter, it was seriously #foodgoals!

 

Love,

Serena