My 2016 Health and Fitness Faves

My 2016 Health and Fitness Faves

2016 is over in a couple of minutes (or might be already over by the time you read this), BUT I wanted to share a couple of my 2016 health and fitness faves.

ONE// Wearable tech

tech.jpg
image source

While I personally don’t have any wearable tech items (as my mom fears about radiation…) I think 2016 was the year for wearable tech. I’ve seen from Jawbone, FitBit, Polar, Garmin and more on the arms of fitness junkies and ordinary people alike! It’s great that these wearable tech items are slim, pretty discreet, and easy to use. I really hope to persuade my mom to let me get one!

TWO// Foam rolling

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Now this is something I’ve personally experience and reaped benefits of. I had extremely tired quads at the end of summer after a sudden increase in running mileage. My old running coach (that I still contact to this day) recommended that I take a break from running and instead, foam roll for a good 40 minutes. 10 minutes for quads, 10 minutes each for side of the leg, and 10 minutes for hamstrings. While it was a mundane motion, foam rolling definitely helped me recover quickly!

 

THREE// Yoga

wheelpose-1-jp
image source

While yoga has always been touted as a healthy practice for the body and mind, I feel like it has gotten a lot of hype this year. I’ve personally love to do yoga as a nice way to stretch my body and challenge my body in a different way.

 

FOUR// Healthy and cute food restaurants

Image-13
from my What I Ate in Korea blog post 1 and 2

I personally am so happy about this! I feel like recently there’s been so many healthy restaurants that are both cute and popular, although they are on the expensive side. When visiting NYC or Seoul this year, I’ve definitely seen a lot of places to eat where there are green-colored and fresh foods instead of brown and fried ones. Especially, meals with avocado has been getting the hype recently!

 

FIVE// Superfoods

IMG_2694
from Serena’s “detox” juice

My maternal grandmother and my mom is a huge fan of superfoods, so I’m definitely one as well. I think during 2016, we’ve seen a lot of acai, goji, maca, noni, and cacao from the media.

In addition, not really a superfood, but chia seeds and hemp seeds have been getting a lot of praise as well.

 

SIX// Green juices/smoothies

greenjuice.jpg
image source

Oh. my. goodness. How could I not list green juice? I think this is a pretty self-explanatory item.

But one thing to note: some green juices can have a lot of sugar so watch out. It’s always best to make your own one (check out my green smoothie recipe from this year)!

SEVEN// Vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free …

There’s also been a lot of encouragement, support, and development into diets and lifestyles that are necessarily the standard carnivore or American diet. I love taking a peek into “What I Eat in a Day” videos where the eater has a certain/specific diet.

I personally still eat red meat and all, but I truly respect all who make the choice to eat a certain way.

Check out Serena’s blog post about her diet switch!

EIGHT// Body confidence

handsonstomach-e1455541799297

I feel like during 2016, the media as well as celebrities spread messages about body confidence and body image. So necessary in this day and age. #preach

Check out some of my body image posts here and here.

 

Hope 2017 can be another health and fitness filled year!

How did you ring in the New Year?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

Finding Your Workout: My Exercise Journey

Finding Your Workout: My Exercise Journey

I used to hate working out. Eating healthy was enough for me, and I didn’t realize the benefits of exercise until I actually tried it out. I loved gym class at school because of the team sports and the camaraderie, however, when it came the summer, I wouldn’t actually do much to maintain my fitness.

Every summer, I competed in golf tournaments about once a week and I practiced most days for about 2-6 hour. Really the only physical benefit of golf was that it strengthened my legs and kept my heart rate up because of the amount of walking (typically 5 miles) and swinging involved. However, I wasn’t doing much else to strengthen my body. So when my mom joined a gym membership, I decided to come with her to a yoga class. I instantly fell in love with yoga because it was so peaceful yet physically demanding, and the shavasana (lying down) at the end felt amazing. So I continued to attend the yoga classes once a week and carried this out during my school year. But obviously, one hour of yoga a week was not enough.

I started doing Blogilates (pilates) about once a week and doing push ups before going to bed. The next summer, I joined a field hockey camp that met twice a week, and I sprinted my way across the field. When high school started, I involved myself with field hockey. The team met every week day for two hours each. The amount of cardio we had to do was challenging for me. I remember thinking that the  3 mile run around school was a very big deal.

In the winter, I tried out dance, which met three times a week for one and a half hours each. Dance was completely different from field hockey; there wasn’t much cardio involved, but it was more like yoga because of the flexibility involved. During the season, I realized that I it really was not the sport for me. I wasn’t the most graceful or coordinated, so I told myself I would try a different sport the next winter season.

Spring was golf season for me, which was very exciting. I didn’t do much to supplement my exercise other than the mandatory half-hour weight-lifting once a week.

When summer rolled around, I started thinking back to the winter season and decided that I would either joint the swim team or run distance. Ultimately, I decided to run, mainly because of the support that Stephanie (yes, the other half of this blog), who ran cross country, gave me. I started running for 40 minutes, 5 days a week , and I got used to it. Although I dreaded the early morning wake-ups, I felt so accomplished after each run. I knew that I wasn’t the fastest, or even close to fast, but it gave me pride to be pushing myself into a sport that I was hesitant about because of the immense challenge that it presented for me.

So over the course of my journey so far, I’ve learned a couple things:

1.) Try it even if you think you’ll suck at it! Field hockey and running were two sports that I was completely intimidated by because I hated cardio. But when I gave it a try and gave it some time, I ended up enjoying it.

2.) Constantly push yourself. Fear of the greatness of your potential is probably what’s holding you back.

3.) You need a buddy/buddies. If exercise is hard for you, use other people to motivate you, whether that be teammates, friends, or opponents.

What are your experiences with exercise/athletics?

Love,

Serena

Lettuce Wraps and Leftovers

Lettuce Wraps and Leftovers

IMG_2491

Now that I’m finally on summer break, I have been cooking every meal for my family. So, I’ve been able to experiment with a lot of different recipes and ways to use leftovers. It’s safe to say that my parents can’t live without meat, so I’ve been challenging them to be more adventurous with their veggies. Last night, I made this lettuce wrap “bar” complete with Romaine hearts, chickpeas, carrots, red bell pepper, and oyster mushrooms. Also, (not shown here), I used a tiny bit of tartar sauce to amp up the flavors. To appease my parents, I did sear some salmon that I seasoned with only salt and pepper. It turned out perfect, no need to season it any more. Also in the picture was soup that my dad made in bulk on the weekend, some leftover turkey, and leftover brown rice.

IMG_2492
Green tea ice cream mochi. So good!!

Since my mom and I went on a Trader Joe’s run earlier that day, we purchased a lot of frozen desserts, and of course, I had to have some of them after dinner!

 

We did have some leftovers after the dinner-salmon, bell peppers, carrots, and chickpeas. I simply incorporated these ingredients into my meals the next day.

 

IMG_2495

My breakfast omelet had bell peppers and carrots. Then, for lunch, I made a salad with a green medley (arugula, spinach, kale, romaine) with yellow bell pepper, the leftover chickpeas, and the leftover salmon. I also drizzled some Miso-Ginger Dressing (also leftover from a while ago :))

What are your favorite lettuce wrap ingredients? Lmk in the comments 🙂

With Love,

Serena

Get Fit: Avolicious Summer Fitness Plan

Get Fit: Avolicious Summer Fitness Plan

Seasons for me are not dictated by the actual solar system, but by the academic year, so June 20th for me is nothing but a day. Which means … summer is here!

Serena and I officially got out of school yesterday and have three FULL months before we head into our sophomore year.

Having gained the infamous Freshman 15 (actually more like Freshman 20 for me), I am definitely motivated to lose some weight. However, I’ve learned that it’s much more rewarding and a happier mindset if I focus on health rather than a number on the scale. Therefore, the focus of this fitness plan is for us to see how much stronger our muscles feel, how much energy we get from eating nutrient-dense foods, and the confidence we have for ourselves without having the number on the scale or on the clothes tag dictate it.

summerplan

Unlike my winter break fitness routine, I wanted to get readers involved as well! I will be sharing (or more like I will be stealing from Serena) recipe suggestions, workout routines, and healthy habits that will be easy to incorporate into yours and my lifestyle.

The Rules

  • Despite the name, this should be a lifestyle change. Change your whole attitude about life and make the new habits you’ll be creating reasonable enough that you’ll be able to sustain it even after the summer season.
  • Drink lots and lots of water. A good rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in water.
  • Pick on exercise to do everyday. As I am a runner and training for XC – I know already… – my workouts may be too much cardio for some readers. As that will be the case, I will soon post about the workouts I will specifically be doing, but also strength and conditioning workouts I know my friends have raved about. And maybe along the way, I’ll discover a love for strength workouts as well (as that is also my goal for the summer, and as a Type-A person, I need my goals accomplished 🙂 )
  • Do all the exercises listed under “Everyday Exercises” each day in addition to your selected workout
  • Practice intuitive eating. Eat when hungry, stop when full. Easier said than done.

 

The Off-Limits List

  • No heavily processed, sugar laden foods (read: white breads, fried foods, candy, soda, sugary drinks)
    • Now I know that baked goods and ice cream will fit under this category. However, Serena and I love ice cream and baked goods too much, I will let this slide. Nevertheless, all of these things should be in moderation!

 

Everyday Exercises

  • 30 crunches each day | If you are already doing an ab-focused workout for the day, you can skip this.
  • 60 second regular plank, 60 second side plank on each side (3×60 second planks in total)
  • Stretch on your bed before you go to sleep

In short, if you remember to make healthy meal choices, sweat at least once a day, and stay focused, you’ll be right on track.

 

I’ll be checking up on you guys to make sure you’re following this plan!

Are you ready?

xoxo,
Stephanie

Summer Food Go-To’s

Summer Food Go-To’s

As school ends and summer break rolls in, I’ve started thinking about all the recipes I’ll bring back from last summer, and new ones that I’m excited to try.

First, I am definitely making my quinoa bowl. Last summer after my half day math camp, I would come home and make this lunch everyday. The bowl consists of quinoa with spinach, cherry tomatoes, avocado, minced garlic, and pine nuts in olive oil.

IMG_2700

This bowl is very filling, healthy, and bright. Perfect for a long day at camp!

Next, I will be making nice cream! I made a post about it a while back 🙂

12950265_1721462298098138_672336320_n
This isn’t my pic, but it’s so pretty!

I definitely want to make some bliss balls for an energizing snack.

IMG_2614

Of course, lots of FRUIT! I also love putting lemon and orange slices in my water.

IMG_2353
I stole this from insta 🙂

I’m also super looking forward to grilling some mangoes! This may sound weird, but mangoes develop an amazing sweetness when there are some lovely grill marks.

What are you excited to make this summer?

With Love,

Serena

Healthiness Compilation

Healthiness Compilation

I will bombard you with a bunch of healthy things because I (for once) took pictures of a lot of the things I ate! Eye-candy!

First, this beet juice that I made! It was so refreshing and delicious, and it only took a few ingredients : beets, carrots, apples, pears, ginger, water.

Next, an on-the-go breakfast that I had recently when I was running late to classes 🙂

IMG_2710
Chobani greek yogurt (banana+oats) and Chia seed pudding with raspberries and agave

This breakfast was healthy, satisfying, and filling, which is exactly what I needed before a long day at school!

I also had numerous bowls of healthy goodness.

First up, my go-to bowl that I made everyday for lunch last summer:

IMG_2700

Quinoa with cherry tomatoes, spinach, half an avocado, and pine nuts mixed with minced garlic and olive oil.

And then this one:

IMG_2717

I ate this for dinner and it was inspired by all the vegan Youtubers that I have been watching lately. It had potatoes, broccoli, tofu, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes.

I hope you enjoyed those healthy pics! What is your favorite bowl combo?

With Love,

Serena

The FDA’s Fat Phobia

The FDA’s Fat Phobia

Recently, the FDA complained about the KIND brand’s use of the word “healthy” on their bars. The reason, they cited, was that the bars contained too much fat to be considered healthy. Currently, 3g per serving of fat is the maximum amount for healthy food. With nuts as the main ingredient for KIND bars, they were not considered FDA healthy. However, after reviewing their complaint, the FDA allowed KIND to use the word. They are also revising their definition of healthy foods to encompass more plant-based fats, like nuts, seeds, and avocados!

kind_healthy_fats_label_fda_infographic
(pic from Well and Good)

The FDA’s dietary guidelines seem to be getting better!

What is your favorite plant-based fat?

Love,

Serena

Hiking: My Go-To Snacks

Hiking: My Go-To Snacks

A couple days ago, my entire grade went on a hiking trip at a state park. It was a fun experience, but I just wish we had more time to hike!

Anyways, I packed a couple snacks based on my prior hiking trips with my family, and here are my favorites and some tips.

  1. Trail Mix: DIY or a healthy store bought one (no M&Ms though 🙂 ) I packed a store bought one that had pecans, cranberries, yogurt balls, peanuts, and I added raw almonds and cashews
  2. Fruit: Apples, peaches, pears, anything that does not have to be peeled (eg. not kiwi or mango). Also, don’t pack bananas unless you will be eating them right away! My banana smushed in my bag and produced a terrible smell. I had to carry it down the mountain and on the bus ride back to school due to no trash cans!
  3. Dried Fruit (Mango, Banana, Apple, etc.) are perfect for snacking. They can be put in the trail mix as well.
  4. Energy Bars: KIND bars, Clif bars, Luna bars, etc.
  5. Sandwich: a boring spinach, tomato, & cheese. Spice it up with mashed avocado!
  6. Crackers if you’re into the savory like me! Just don’t binge-eat them 🙂 )

I hope this will inspire you to experience the great outdoors and not compromise your nutrition! Here are some of my favorite pics from a family hiking trip in Washington & Oregon from last summer.

IMG_1771
Mt. Rainier
IMG_1769
Mt. Rainier
IMG_1697
Multonomah Falls

IMG_1746

What are your go-to food tips for hiking?

Love,

Serena

My Health Journey

My Health Journey

Why do you eat what you eat? What shaped your food choices?

These were questions that I recently asked myself, and I figured that I could bring you on a trip down memory lane with me.

I was raised to eat conveniently, as healthy as fast food could be. About once every two weeks, I remember going to McDonalds with my parents, and they would always order a 6 piece Chicken McNuggets for me, with chocolate milk and apple slices.

On school nights, a typical “Chinese” dinner would include bone broth (made by my dad every Sunday for the rest of the week), white rice, meat (steamed fish or baked chicken) and sautéed veggies. Alternatively, we might have an “Italian” dinner with spaghetti with meat sauce, carrots, and peas. On weekends, my dad would cook an “American” meal, starting with the daily bone broth, and complete with mashed potatoes, ribs, and corn. We would always end meals with dessert–fresh fruit. My parents, both working, raised me on food that they felt was balanced and healthy, and that took half an hour to prepare.

However, I would always crave “healthy” snacks like sweet potato chips, string cheese, purple corn tortilla chips with guacamole, or greek yogurt. After school, I would gorge myself with these snacks, sometimes eating half a bag of veggie chips, or five cheese sticks. It was an unhealthy obsessions that would occur Monday through Friday as my self “reward” for a tiring day at school.

My mom, discovering that the family size chip bags she bought were finished in a couple days, realized that my excessive snacking was unhealthy. She encouraged me to control my portions, but I did little to change this.

Meanwhile, I was always the “healthy girl” among my friends at school, because of my sandwiches and salads for lunch, and my obsession with organics. Looking back, I realize that I was a hypocrite! While I seemed to be a healthy eater, I covered up the fact that I was binge-eating snacks, and my portion control was atrocious. My excuse was that-at least the snacks were “healthy”-they weren’t fried potato chips or brownies.

During the summer between middle school and high school, I became a full-fledged pescetarian, due to the horrors of animal slaughter that I had learned about through documentaries, Youtube videos, and research on PETA.

Admittedly, I did not change my obsessive snack habit until high school, when I would eat all my meals at school, and not have access to the bounty of snacks I had at home. Instead, after school, I would eat one KIND bar, and/or a handful or crackers. Only when the snacks were out of sight did I put them out of my mind.

At the beginning of high school, I also met my now-best friend (and other half of this blog!) Stephanie. She was “the healthy girl”, instead of me, and I could not compete with her. I couldn’t understand how she found salads -without avocados-appealing. Later, her influence rubbed off on me, and I began eating more and more salads. Now, I have noticed that I don’t binge eat on snacks as often, and I am used to eating more raw foods in meals.

What I have learned from my health journey is this:

  1. Out of sight, out of mind–if the unhealthy food is inconvenient to obtain, you will be less likely to consume them
  2. Just because other people are eating it, doesn’t mean that you have to–learn to resist!
  3. Find someone/something to motivate you–support from a friend helps a lot!

Hopefully, my journey is inspirational or relatable to you. Share your thoughts in the comments!

Love,

Serena

Smoothies 101

Smoothies 101

 

Smoothie bowls/Smoothies/Nice Cream (they are all essentially the same thing, only with different consistencies)!

The basis of all the smoothies that I make are blending fruit, vegetable (usually spinach) and liquid  (nut milk, water, coconut water). Sometimes, I add other ingredients like a handful of nuts, seeds, greek yogurt, and acai berry powder.

Smoothie bowls come in all different colors, which change based on the ingredients that you put in. For example, if you add kale, the smoothie will be green. If you add raspberries, the smoothie will be pinkish red. It makes sense. Tip: Don’t mix colors that will make brown! (ex. raspberries-red and spinach-green). The difference between smoothies and smoothie bowls is that the spoonable texture uses frozen fruit. Play around with the amount of liquid used for a more liquid texture.

I’ve seen tons of Instagram posts of smoothie bowls. I’m obsessed with taking a screenshot of the ones that look delicious! Eye candy:) Here are my favorite few:


12950265_1721462298098138_672336320_nNice cream is very similar to smoothie bowls, but they are just thicker, and resemble the texture of ice cream (minus the fat and dairy). In general, the key that I use to thickening the smoothie to make it spoonable like ice cream is frozen banana. Frozen bananas  act like ice cubes to make the smoothie cold, are a thickening agent, and add sweetness. There are so many different recipe variations. Here are some combinations I use:

Banana Chocolate Chip: Frozen banana+Almond Milk+Raw Cacao Nibs or Dark Chocolate on top

Raspberry: Frozen Raspberries+Acai Berry Powder+Almond Milk

Berry: Frozen raspberries+Frozen blueberries+Acai Berry Powder+Almond Milk

Chocolate: Frozen banana+Cacao Powder

Mango: Frozen mango+Almond Milk

Smoothie bowls/Smoothies/Nice Cream are great to have for breakfast, snack, dessert, or just to cool down on a hot summer day. Add chia seeds and store in the fridge overnight for an extra healthy kick!

What are your favorite combinations?

Love,

Serena