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.
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
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!
Dried Fruit (Mango, Banana, Apple, etc.) are perfect for snacking. They can be put in the trail mix as well.
Energy Bars: KIND bars, Clif bars, Luna bars, etc.
Sandwich: a boring spinach, tomato, & cheese. Spice it up with mashed avocado!
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.
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.”
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???)
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:
Out of sight, out of mind–if the unhealthy food is inconvenient to obtain, you will be less likely to consume them
Just because other people are eating it, doesn’t mean that you have to–learn to resist!
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!
Confession time. I used to be horrible at drinking water. I was so bad at drinking water that I would never have to go to the bathroom for the whole school day. I would drink a glass of water before I left home for school and drank the second glass of water when I got back home.
Now to a lot my friends, even Serena, this might be a surprise since I carry my water bottle everywhere. And not just any water bottle, but my huge 40 fl. Oz Hydroflask. I refill it about twice a day, meaning I drink around 80 fl. Oz of water or 2 Liters a day. Let me tell you, the differences are amazing, I have experienced them first hand.
Here the differences that I felt:
Helps me feel more energized | When I find myself sleepy and tired while I’m doing my homework or sitting in class, drinking a sip of water refreshes me.
Helps my skin look clearer | I can definitely attest to this. After drinking water religiously this summer, my skin looked immensely clear.
Prevents constipation | I was always jealous of my dad who would do go to the bathroom every morning after he woke up and did his #2. For me, the time was always varied and sometimes I would encounter major constipations. However, once I started drinking lots of water, my “pooping” (excuse my candidness) schedule has been a lot more regular.
Enhances my performance | I can definitely tell you as a track runner, drinking lots of water is CRUCIAL to your performance. There’s nothing worse than feeling dehydrated and dryness in your mouth while running your race.
Now, I understand that it’s hard to drink lots of water suddenly – here are my tips:
Drink water the minute you wake up. | This is a habit that I’ve done before my “I need to drink more water” realization. My mom and maternal grandmother always had me drink a glass of water 30 minutes before breakfast. They say that it helps my body start moving in the morning and they’re definitely right.
Buy and carry around a cute water bottle. | I personally don’t get any motivation to drink water when it’s in those Deer Park plastic bottles. Also, plastic bottles are bad for the environment so invest in your health and the environment and buy yourself a water bottle. I personally love CamelBaks (these are so fun to suck on and great for runners because you don’t have to stop in order to sip) and HydroFlasks (great for insulating both cold and hot), but I know the S’well and bkr water bottles have been in the rage recently.
Put lemon in your water | Restaurants do this for a reason. Adding lemon in your water adds more taste to the “bland” water. Also, there are a lot of health benefits to adding lemon into your water. Healthy and tasty!
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:
Nice 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
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!
The title of this post is a twist around Julius Caesar’s famous quote “I came, I saw, I conquered.” It’s about forgiving yourself after you eat a lot. I don’t want to call this binge-eating because binge-eating can be a lot more serious than over-eating. This past Saturday, I had an away crew regatta at Delaware. First, this means I don’t have my handy and trusty dining center (I go to a boarding school, so I eat all three meals at school but I never thought I would ever say that my school dining center was trusty, but in extreme situations like this Saturday, they can be quite relished and appreciated).
I had my usual breakfast at school (luckily) of yogurt with granola and nuts on top and sauteed spinach. However, everything goes downhill from here.
First, I ate a clementine before getting on the bus at 9:45am because I thought I was hungry because I ran from my first class to the bus. Bad thought there. Thinking I deserve to be hungry…
Next, I ate a pre-made box lunch turkey sandwich – with loads of deli turkey (= lots of sodium), cheese and white bread. I ate this at around 10:45am as my lunch because my race started at 1:15pm and I “calculated” that the protein in my turkey needed enough time to digest. In other words, I got too bored on the bus and decided I needed to eat despite not feeling hungry.
After the race, which was 500m shorter than varsity since I’m novice, I decided that I needed to refuel. Now the race wasn’t that bad and was definitely less physically demanding than any of the track races, but because I knew crew was deemed as a “physically demanding sport that burns tons of calories,” I digged into the snacks the parents brought. Here’s the list: One HUGE banana, one Clif bar, half a bagel (now this was my first time eating a bagel in months – I thought I deserved this thing of dense white flour because I rowed too hard), 5 cookies (again, another first since months – this was more out of a craving, just kind of bummed out that I ate my first cookie since last year as a Chips Ahoy cookie and not a homemade one), plus another banana and a whole bowl of pineapple. I know … in a less than 8 minute race that I partook, I ate that much. It also didn’t help that the day was super chilly so I wanted to eat even more.
After all that snack shazam, we went to one of the varsity boy’s house for dinner. And I ate okay, except I ate a brownie, my first in years, for dessert.
But with all this being said, guess what? I just worked out today and I feel perfectly in shape. My clothes still fit me the same. I ate just as much as I would have on any regular day. No, I did not eat less on Sunday because I ate more the day before so I can “balance” my calories out. Nope, I just moved on. I didn’t dwell on my lack of self-control, I just told myself that Saturday was my “treat yo self” day and I gave myself the trust that I can go back on track the very next day, which I did. I told myself that it’s the consistency that counts and one day isn’t going to ruin me.
So to all of you out there who are perfectionists when it comes to eating, just chill. My mom is the perfect example of this mentality that I’m talking about. She exercises an hour everyday, but she does it because she enjoys it. And the exercise I’m talking about is simply walking briskly on the treadmill for an hour while watching her favorite TV show. She eats pretty balanced meals, but when she wants dessert, she’ll get it, if she’s at a dinner party and there’s heaps of food, she’ll treat herself. The only way she shows her regret is this, “Oops, I ate too much.” That’s it. And she moves right on.
So for those who eat for perfection, I want you to know that sometimes you have to eat for pleasure. It’s okay if you eat that cake, it’s okay if you eat something despite knowing that it’s “bad” for you. In fact, I think it’s emotionally bad for you to eat something with guilt. Remember, everything in moderation.
So you overate for one meal, one day, one week, or more? It’s okay, I did that too. I ate, I ate some more, but guess what? I still love myself.
Do you have any tips for getting back on track after a “cheat” meal?
Dark Chocolate Almond Bliss Balls. Oh, how they are blissful!
I bought a big pack of dates and a box of raw almonds a while back, thinking that I would make bliss balls because they were the trendy raw vegan snack. Just yesterday, I finally made them and I am so thankful I did.
One to the most defining factors of boarding school is eating at school. Home cooked meals become a rare commodity, a serious treasure. Me and my fellow boarding school friends have the “honor” of being able to experience college-style dining halls four years EARLIER than most. Whether you’re a boarding school student like me or college student, I hope these tips and tricks will help you be smart and eat healthy in the dining halls! Remember, nothing can get in the way of eating healthy!
TRICK #1: Tupperwares and ziploc bags are your saviors.
One of the cons about dining halls is that they only open on certain hours. But, I’m sure a lot of you can relate, I need to snack and my hungry times don’t match up with the dining hall operating hours!
These are where tupperwares/ziploc bags come in the save the day. Bring a tupperware and a pack of ziplocs from home. I use my tupperware to put yogurt from the yogurt bar. This is especially helpful on Sunday mornings (where no breakfast is served but brunch at 11) when I can have yogurt to hold me over until brunch.
I use my ziplock bags to hold another breakfast item. During breaks or whenever I go back home, I put nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans) plus my favorite granola (Love Crunch Granola) into small ziplock baggies. These daily servings are convenient because the granola in the dining halls are okay, but sugar laden, and they never have my favorite nuts. Also, these daily servings of nuts/granola is helpful or else I would be eating too many!
I personally don’t do this, but I know several friends do, which is packing dry cereal in ziploc bags. If you’re a cereal lover, than why not do this instead of spending money on cereal?
TRICK #2: Stock up on apples/bananas
Or this really goes with any food that are easily portable. Pretty much everyone I know always leaves breakfast with a banana in their hand. Why? Because they know they are going to get hungry mid-way through the day and a banana is a perfect mid-day pick me up snack.
TIP #1: Do what you would do at home
I think the main reason why it’s so easy to gain weight is because of the plethora of food but no one to stop you from it. At home, you had your parents to stop you or not allow you to have dessert every day for lunch and dinner. So why not do that at school too?
TIP #2: Go with the water
Going along with the above tip, you wouldn’t drink soft drinks or juices every day right? As tempting it is to have soft drinks, just go with the water. Your body will thank you (and me) later.
TIP #3: Healthy substitutes
I know, I know, you have a sweet tooth. So instead of suppressing or restricting that, get in the know of some healthy substitutes. Such as yogurt and granola instead of ice cream.
TIP #4: Use your creativity hat
Realize that you don’t have to resort to just standing line in the hot bar to get your food. I usually get most of my food at other places in the dining hall (sandwich bar, salad bar, omelette bar) while only a small portion of my plate is from the hot bar.
For example, I don’t like omelettes (egg in the morning don’t work for me), but I use the omelette bar to make sautéed spinach.
Also, I know for people who live by protein shakes : use chocolate milk: great recovery drink!!!
Do you have any tips and tricks to share from your college dining hall experience?
Traveling to New York City is one of my favorite things to do because of the city’s amazing food, cute shops, and famous museums. This past Saturday, I went on a day trip, starting at Juicy Cube, a juice bar also selling smoothies and bubble tea.
I had a Thai Iced Bubble Tea which I shared with my friend. It was very refreshing and delicious! I would definitely recommend visiting Juicy Cube because of their quick service and amazing variety of drinks. Next time, I definitely want to try the young coconut blends because they use the meat and water of a fresh coconut.
Next, I went to the Museum of Modern Art. My favorite exhibit was called A Japanese Constellation, which showcased Japanese architects’ designs and buildings.
I also saw numerous well known paintings such as the work of Vincent Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo.
Finally, I walked to the Midtown Momofuku Milk Bar. I was absolutely elated to finally try the desserts at the Milk Bar because I have heard so much about this bakery!
I ended up ordering a cereal milk soft serve and a pack of three birthday cake “truffles”. The cereal milk soft serve tasted very similar to a mainly Asian drink called Ovaltine that I had in Hong Kong. It satisfied my sweet tooth and it was refreshing, but I don’t quite understand the popularity of cereal milk…I probably would not order this again. However, the birthday cake truffles tasted exactly like a Funfetti cake, without all the cringe-worthy ingredients! Overall, I think the trip to the Milk Bar was an exciting experience (complete with a 30 minute wait), and if you haven’t been there, definitely go!
I had a wonderful time with my friends in NYC. Where should I visit next time I head to New York?