My Exercise Journey

My Exercise Journey

My exercise journey has been completely shaped by parent’s, especially my mom’s, passion for exercise. To put this in perspective, my parents actually met at an outdoors organization. Go figure.

Throughout my life, my parents have always stressed the importance of experiencing the outdoors. Our definition of a family vacation included driving until we were practically outside of civilization, hiking rugged trails that extended for miles, gazing out at scenic landscapes, and staying in funny-smelling, sketchy motels in the middle of nowhere. Every year, for as long as I can remember, we’ve visited at least one National Park. Last year, we crossed off an item from my bucket list by traveling to Washington and Oregon, and visiting Crater Lake, Olympic National Park, and others. So, hiking as a form of exercise has been with me forever. I can definitely relate to Stephanie’s post about a Walker’s High!

But for the majority of the year, when we were at home, my mom enrolled me in a variety of different sports, in hopes that I would find a passion. I was involved with swimming classes, a soccer team, gymnastics, golf, and ice skating.

Swimming eventually became a major part of my life, as I would take classes every weekend, and I joined a swim team. I remember one meet in particular, waiting anxiously beside the pool for my heat to start, as rain was pouring down, my small body was blanketed in goose bumps, and my heart was pounding out of my chest.

However, I ended up giving up swimming for the sport that had resonated the most with me–golf.

I think it was the similarities to hiking that got me hooked. I loved how I could just walk, while engaging in competition! To boil it down, golf is just that, walking, swinging a club every once in a while, and that’s it. But as I immersed myself deeper into golf, I realized that the biggest reason I loved golf so much was that feeling of euphoria after hitting an amazing shot. We golfers call it “pin-seeking” or “throwing darts” when we hit the ball close to the cup. It truly is an indescribable feeling.

I spent countless nights on the driving range, hitting balls until I was the only one left because it was too dark to see the ball. After the driving range, I would walk over to practice on the putting green. And by the time I was done, the entire golf course parking lot was empty except for my parent’s car. On the weekends, I would play in tournaments all over the state, sometimes driving over an hour to get to a golf course. Golf became an integral part of my life, and it was how I exercised.

At the start of middle school, I decided to join the track team, because I knew that running would benefit my golf swing and help me hit the ball farther. Well, let’s just say joining track was a bit of a fail. I was a sprinter, but we were also required to participate in a field event. I tried hurdling, because many of my friends were doing it, but every time I attempted to jump over a hurdle my foot would stubbornly hit the hurdle and I would fall flat. It was one of the most humiliating times of my life, and I remember all of the popular “track stars” laughing at me as I struggled and fell hurdle after hurdle. I also despised the running aspect of track, I hated the hard workouts, and coming in consistently among the lasts did not help. I was so defeated that I quit track the following year. I briefly tried volleyball, which also turned out to be a bust as well.

One day, I decided to go with my mom to her gym, and I went to a yoga class. It was completely love at first attempt. I adored the relaxing-yet challenging poses and flow of yoga. It helped me unwind and get a good workout. As my mom preferred Zumba and playing badminton to yoga that she considered was “too slow,” I frequently went to the yoga classes by myself. I was 12 years old and the only kid in the class, but nevertheless I enjoyed being around supportive adults who loved yoga as much as I did! I diligently practiced headstands in my room at night, and I would film myself to make sure my form was correct.

Right before high school, determined to have one other actual sport aside from golf, I attempted field hockey. I figured that since it seemed similar to golf, it might be easier than the other sports I had tried. Mind you-this was the first time I had run so much since track in 6th grade! I was not ready for the cardio challenge, but I actually thoroughly appreciated the wonderful workout that I would get a couple days a week at practice.

Now, I am still playing field hockey, and doing yoga when I can. But this year, I tried running track again. Judging by the running workouts from field hockey, I knew that my endurance was not bad compared to the other girls, so I tried out for the distance running team. I was mostly motivated by Stephanie’s enthusiasm about running, but also my desire to actually challenge myself, and the fact that running would make me stronger and my golf swing more powerful.

I never expected to make it into track, because 1) the most I had every run was 3 miles, 2) I had failed at 6th grade track, and 3) I didn’t have much willpower. But, God made it happen! During tryouts, I ran an entire minute and a half faster than I had ever run before. I found a sport that was extremely challenging, but it whipped me into shape and I loved the support that everyone gave each other through each meet. Being a part of track made me very proud, because I had never considered myself a very athletic person. –> I think I’ll talk about my thoughts/experience about athleticism in another post. I also think I’ll run track again next year.

I’m definitely looking forward to the golf season, it starts on Tuesday!!!

Oh wow I realize this post is longer than I expected! Congratulations if you made it all the way to the end. I hope you enjoyed my story and maybe took something away from it!

Care to share your exercise journey?



My Health Journey (Pt.2)

My Health Journey (Pt.2)

After reading Serena’s post over the weekend about her health journey, I decided to write my health journey as well. READ: Very long.


In truth, I have some suspicion that Serena might have wrote that blog post because of me. Now, I’m not trying to steal the spotlight here, but I’m writing this because I’m so grateful to have a bestfriend like Serena. You see, on the same day she uploaded her post, I texted her a few hours before with these exact words:


Yeah, in other words, I was in a pretty low point that afternoon. I was coming back from an all-day programming competition, where if you read above I ate: one whole peanut butter bagel, two slices of pizza, and five cookies.


I never was really fat in my childhood but I wasn’t the skinniest either. Up until 3rd grade, I was blessed with the “skinny” genes, meaning I was able to eat A LOT without having it show. My family friend described it the best, “Stephanie, all your food seems to be growing vertically on you!”


This was certainly so true. While length wise I fit into a kid size 12, width wise, I could comfortably fit into a kid size 8. So this means, up until 3rd grade, I lived off of unhealthy habits such as continuing to eat even if I was full.


This habit got created when adults would compliment me for eating a lot. You see, in Korea, the tradition is, little kids get the most compliments when they eat a lot, such as asking for a second bowl of rice. So in order to eat the second bowl of rice, I would stuff spoonfuls of rice in mouth.


Similar to Serena, I ate and loved chips. In particular, I remember always putting the Kirkland Tortilla Chips in the cart when my family was shopping at Costco. However, my mom curbed my chips habit when she banned chips from the house. Truth be told, my mom is the true health nut. She banned juices and chips from the house a long time ago. It’s not that she doesn’t like it, she herself loves juices and chips, however she lives by the motto “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Do these look familiar? Ugh…childhood memories.

Anyways, I remember the first time of feeling “fat” when I was in fourth grade. Because I attended a private school, starting from fourth grade, everybody wore uniforms. Before fourth grade, there was only a dress code, I didn’t have to wear a uniform. So because all the girls and I were wearing the same thing, body size and type became quite noticeable. I remember sitting criss-cross applesauce (do people still call it that?) and noticing that my thighs were thicker than my friend’s next to me. Still, I didn’t care about it too much. Even back then, in fourth grade, not only was being able to eat three slices of pizza impressive, but eating them the fastest was impressive as well.


So along with eating more than I was full, I ate fast. In other words, I seriously did not eat in tune with my body. I did not eat intuitively, but just ate to … I don’t know what. I don’t know the reason of why I ate. And this is where the problem lies.


So after fourth grade (sorry about jumping all over the place), I slowly gained weight, but looking back now, it wasn’t too bad, but all my friends were those stick thin girls so obviously, around them, I felt fat.


So in May 2015, I decided to go on a diet. Although I assured myself that this was a lifestyle change and not an extreme diet, looking back now, I definitely was a victim of the extreme diet. I downloaded MyFitnessPal, PumpUP, ate only 1,200 Calories, and ran distance track. Obviously, in the beginning this was VERY hard. However, from this weight loss journey, I learned that I actually have a lot of stubbornness, perseverance, and discipline. Even my dad said to my mom, “Stephanie will succeed in life. I mean if she can exhibit this much self-control in food, how much more work and effort will she put in other aspects of her life?”


Anyways, flash forward to summer 2015 after many days of feeling tired, exhausted, empty-stomached, and being the awkward person in the social event who declined ALL deserts and ALL “bad” foods but ate only salad, I lost 20 lbs. I’m naturally slim on the top and carry more weight on the top, so while my top sizes were the same, my waist size dropped by an inch or two. I found myself having a thigh gap. I found myself having thin and lean thighs. I remember slipping into a pair of leggings and gasping in front of the mirror because I never would have imagined my legs to look like this. However, contrary to popular belief, although people say they lose weight in order to feel more confident and good about themselves, I experienced the opposite.


Yes, when I got dressed in the morning I felt great, however, the remainder of the day I felt MISERABLE. I was constantly thinking about food, yet I would only eat so little and exercise so much. In fact, when my family travelled to Korea that summer, I was angry that I couldn’t take my iPhone because that meant I couldn’t track my calories (#sadlife). Now if any of you guys have been to Korea, Korea is food haven, and having to restrict myself there was miserable. All my relatives in Korea were astounded at my weight loss. While their responses were out of concern, I relished on their “you lost weight” comments. It proved how accomplished I was.


However, things turned for the worse. During my yearly check up, my pediatrician told me that she couldn’t sign my health form because my BMI was too low. She told me I had to gain more weight. Not only this, but I lost my period and I was growing more body hair than usual – an indicator that my female hormones were not in their normal level.


In order to keep this post any longer than it is, I’m going to go in bullet form from summer 2015 at the doctor’s to now:

  • Doctor tells me to gain more weight – only if I add more weight from my 107 weight (I am 5’5’’ for reference) will she sign my school health form.
  • I weigh myself again at the end of summer in the doctor’s office wearing my longest shorts so I could stuff my iPhone 6+, my dad’s wallet, my mom’s wallet hoping that these items will increase my weight. It did. The scale read: 108lbs.
  • Go to boarding school in the fall – mom is super worried that without her supervision, I will go on an extreme diet again. However, I assure her that I won’t. After the doctor’s visit, I had a huge realization that what I was doing was SO stupid. SO dumb. I wasn’t nourishing my body. I wasn’t loving my body. My body had to be healthy. My body needed fat. My body needed back its weight.
  • I gained weight freshmen year because I ate too much of good food. You can still gain weight from eating salads. I ate way too much of “whole” foods. I overstuffed myself. I stretch my stomach, I stretched my appetite.
  • In the midst of all this, I was so confused. I was so stressed. I didn’t know why I was doing this. Was I eating to lose weight? No I decided after the doctor’s office that losing weight is off my list now. Then what was I eating for? Having Serena there by my side helped.
    • In this confusion, I sought help and clarification on YouTube. (Bad decision since there are so many lifestyles people preach about). I thought I had orthorexia, I thought I needed to be HCLF. I thought I needed to eat protein power shakes, etc…
  • Deleted PumpUp and MyFitnessPal → huge milestone for me. Serena helped me on this one. She was the angel on my shoulder telling me to delete the app.
  • After getting into winter track and crew, I realized that I needed to eat for fuel
  • Major weight gain → Tried on clothes from summer 2015 during winter and spring break – none of the clothes fit anymore. Major tantrum. Major breakdown.
  • Calmed myself down and went back to school. Still in the midst of understanding and recollecting myself after the major weight gain. I think I gained the weight back because I was holding back on food so much that once I started eating, my body quickly gained it.
    • Got first period (although mild) in a year and a half.


After this long long journey (trust me the bullet points up there are SUPER SHORTENED), I am slowly but surely, going on a journey where I can eat normally. Ever since I was young, up until know, my reason to eat food was hollow. When I was young, I ate to impress the adults, but when I went on a diet, I ate to lose weight, I ate so I could feel better about myself (which obviously did not happen). My goal is to eat like Serena. My goal is to be physically and emotionally healthy. I want to eat healthy because I truly want to. And if I eat “bad” one day, to forgive myself and move on. Serena’s chill attitude about food is so inspiring. So just like she wrote about why she ate, I decided today to really see WHY I wanted to eat healthy. This was what I typed in my notes:


So that was a really long post. If you stuck with me till the end, thank you so much for reading. You don’t know how much it means to me. While Serena’s journey is pretty much perfected and completed, I still have a long way to go. I think my diet this summer was like the wrong turn of the journey and the struggle I faced and still face to recover is the detour. I am slowly reaching the right path of the journey.


“Recovery is about progression, not perfection.” – Unknown


Why do you eat the way you do? Do you have a health journey you would like to share with us?





P.S.: I want to give a special shout out to my amazing mom. She was able to put up with this hassle of a diet. She was by my side ever so stalwart and supportive. She never scolded me for trying to lose weight. After the visit to the doctor’s, I was sure she was going to scold me for being so ignorant in losing weight. However, this was not the case. When I said sorry to her and my dad, she came to my side and gave me a tight hug. Even now, I regularly talk to her about my feelings and thoughts and she always finds a way to understand me but also finds a way for me to recover from that condition. I really couldn’t have done it without you, mom! (Of course, my dad gave me immense support as well, but as a male, he couldn’t really relate to why I wanted to be so skinny …. Seriously, why are girls so obsessed with our outward appearance???)