My Top Five Tips on Keeping your Skin Healthy

I don’t want to come off as bragging, but I have to admit that I have been blessed with great skin. Serena always asks me about my skincare routine, but to be honest, it’s too simple that I don’t think it will help.

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My entire skincare products! A mere five, it’s very simple and low maintenance.

Both my parents never had major acne breakouts – when I look back at their old high school/college photos, their faces look clear (or maybe it looks clear because the photos are not as good quality as today’s haha).

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My skin despite the dry and not-so-great quality air in airplanes. Read below for my tips on how to keep clear and glowing skin!

However, my mom continually reminds me to not take my clear and healthy skin for granted. She told me that if there is one regret she has with her skin, it’s that she took her healthy and clear teenage skin for granted and now the slacking is showing up. I definitely know what she’s talking about – nowadays, my skin occasionally breaks out and doesn’t have that glow as it used to.

Here are some of my basic (yet always important to hear again) tips for skin care!

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I’ve been drinking so much water that all my reusable bottles are in the dishwasher! So a plastic bottle would have to do for today.

ONE// Drink water – and lots of it.

If you search “water” in the search bar of Avolicious, you’ll find so many photos where both Serena and I talk about the importance of drinking water. Drinking water has so many benefits and is such a quick and easy way to instantly feel and look better!

Our skin is an organ too! A large one in fact. So we need to supply our skin with water so that our skin cells can function properly and at its best.

Unfortunately, water reaches our other organs first before it reaches our skin, so that’s why you have to drink so much water! So go drink up!

TIP: keep multiple reusable bottles (my favorites are Hydroflasks!) in the fridge and take one out to bring around the house or when you go outside. Continually be sipping. It’s going to be hard the first few weeks where you’ll be running to the loo constantly, but once your body adjusts, you’ll be going to the bathroom less!

 

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I use these two as my lotion. I first apply the rose-petal toner and then as it dries out, I apply the Korean lotion. Secret: the Korean lotion is actually a baby lotion; my mom and I have been using baby lotion for around three years now!

TWO// Over-moisturize

This is one of my other biggest tips. I tend to over-moisturize (if that even is a word) my face. I make sure my skin is really moist and dewy. This ensures that my skin is both moist and hydrated from the inside (from drinking water) and the outside!

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My FAVORITE face cleanser for a strong 4-5 years now. It literally thoroughly cleans your face haha! I usually get this cleanser from either Whole Foods or order it on Amazon Prime if its urgent.

THREE// Wash your face regularly

For the 16 years I’ve been living, I have always, always, without a single day missing, washed my face right after wake up. It’s a habit that my mom has drilled into me since I was young. Before I go downstairs to eat breakfast, I always wash my face. While yes, you’ve only been sleeping, those 8 hours (or less or more), the oils, impurities and other things that are on your pillow and bed have appeared on your face. You want to wash them away!!! I usually wash my face right after I wake up and right before I go to sleep. If I wash my face in the middle of the day, it’s because I came right after a workout.

Make sure to wash your face especially if you’ve been sweating a lot. Your sweat can clog up your pores and not allow your skin to breathe enough and get the air it needs.

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I apply the sunscreen on the left when I know I’m going to be outside for a long time. The one on the right is a mix of a lotion and sunscreen. I use the Aveeno either in the winter or when I’m going to be outside for very little (such as being in the car).

FOUR// Apply sunscreen

I know, I know. This is one of my least parts also. But it’s so important. Make sure to apply sunscreen both in the summer and winter. To be frank, I would rather be tan, but my mom is constantly reminding me that I’ll thank her later when I don’t have wrinkles (or even worse skin cancer) from not applying enough sunscreen.

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FIVE// Nourish

You become what you eat is so true when it comes to skin. You probably know that when you eat very oily or fatty foods, your skin is bound to break out. After a bowl of instant ramen, our faces get bloated. Our skins are a clear indicator of the quality of our diets. Make sure to get lots of nutrients – veggies, fruits, healthy fats, and whole grains. Of course, you can indulge yourself, but in order to have that radiant skin (without the help of make up of course), you need to eat right.

Do you have any skin care tips that you would like to share?

xoxo

Stephanie

What are you hungry for? It might not be food

I have a lot of things that I’m not especially proud about. However, there is particularly one big problem that I want to fix because it’s bad for both my physical and mental health.

This big problem is my stress-eating.

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Literally me…no joke 

Especially during the final season, my eating habits just crumble. I gravitate towards sweet, oily, savory foods that I know should only be eaten as indulgences, but soon become regulars. It’s a vicious cycle – I surrender to stress eat, then when I come back home for break, I get mad at myself for stress eating from all the weight I gained. And then I try to lose some of the weight while I’m back home, but because I get so easily stressed, I easily gain all that weight back.

However, I realized that when I was stress-eating, I was stress-eating because I was trying to cope with my stress. But I was trying to cope with my stress by eating – and eating too much and eating not well. Other people cope with stress and challenging emotions in different ways. Some through drinking, some through exercising (I wish right?), some through getting cranky and venting their anger at their friends, some through shopping (aka retail therapy). It just happens to me that I cope with stress through food.

It might be because I had so much control over food when I had my eating disorder. During those (miserable and dark) days, I religiously counted every morsel and calories. 1,200 calories to be exact. I exercised every day or else I felt guilty. And when I mean exercise, it was mostly running and cardio as I was worried I would “bulk up.” I had so much control over my food and my exercise.

But once I realized that I couldn’t live like this through a number of events and close family and friends, I suddenly lost all that control. I ate so much. I gained back the weight I lost and then some more. I continually kept on eating because I had restricted my body for so long.

So maybe it’s because of this history and background that when I undergo stress or unwelcome feelings, when I feel like I’ve lost control of my day and my life, I continue to lose control by eating.

But this is bad. And I’m not proud of it.

These days, as I’m studying for SATs (as that is the high school life haha), my mind often times wander and starts craving food. But I stop myself and think:

“Stephanie, what do you really want?”

“I want food.”

“Are you sure? But you’re not hungry…”

“I just want something else to do. Something else other than studying. I’m getting so bored just studying so I want to do something else. And that something else is food.”

That’s the key. It’s not that I want to eat because I’m hungry. I want to eat because currently, at the present, I don’t want to do the thing I’m doing. I want to go away from it. I want to take a little breather, a little break, go away from studying. But guess what? As soon as I’m done eating, studying is going to be still there.

Or sometimes, I want to eat because I’m tired. So when I really need to sleep and relax, I want to eat.

While I haven’t figured out the magical key to stop stress eating, I’ve realized that it’s so important to LISTEN to your body. It takes lots of practice. But when your mind wants to eat, wants to do _____, stop and ask yourself: what do you really want right now?

Your body is your temple. If you don’t listen and respect it, nobody else will.

So what are you hungry for? Comfort? A place to hide? Something enjoyable?

Well you can find this without having to eat food. You can find comfort by hugging a close family or friend and telling them your current mood and thoughts. Need a place to hide? I find that a lot of times when I’m in this situation, I like to listen to my favorite music and take an hour long nap. Just to take a break and a breather from life. Something enjoyable? Go watch some YouTube videos, go hang out with friends, go do what you actually enjoy!

What are you hungry for?

xoxo,

Stephanie

“Ita daki mas” – summer in Japan

I have always been skeptical of the old adage that travel is the best learning experience. However, after traveling to Japan for a two-week cultural immersion program, I have become a firm believer that travel is indeed the best learning experience.

Get ready for a photo overload, especially of food since I’m a foodie 🙂
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On the flight to Japan. Despite all the bad news of United recently, this 14 hour trip actually went pretty well. I had so many cups of green tea during the flight which I oh-so regretted later.

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My first breakfast in Japan – guys they have green tea granola. Let’s just say that I was obsessed.

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Visiting the aquarium – the jellyfish were so cool!

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The Big Buddha – little did I know when taking this trip that I would be in for a long hike in the nearby mountains.

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The hike was only half as bad as its length because aren’t these hydrangeas beautiful? These flowers were peppered all throughout the hike. Apparently, they are called the June flower in Japan.

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After a long and tiring hike, and an even tiring hour-long wait for the restaurant, we ate udon. Oh. my. goodness. The wait was definitely worth it because the udon was so good. There was also tempura and the chefs just made it right in front of you. Warm tempura is always the best.

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To cool ourselves off after the long hike, we got green tea and sweet potato ice cream. I know, the combination sounds weird, but guys, it was so good!

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Here is Takoyaki. It’s a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special moulded pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion. It was delicious, but very hot! I could have watched the chefs making takoyaki all day long, it was such carefully methodical process.

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Apparently this is a hit-or-miss not only with foreigners but with local Japanese. It’s something called natto. It is fermented soybeans that can be eaten by mixing it with rice. I actually enjoyed the taste which my host family was very impressed by as only a few Japanese people actually enjoy it! Of course, as a foodie, as long as it’s healthy and relatively tasty, I’m always good 🙂

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On one of the nights, my host, my host sister and their cousin met up and ate out for dinner at a Hawaiian restaurant. It was so much fun hanging out with them – so much laughing and fun while with these three. The pancakes for dessert were equally as good, although we all regretted eating them because we became so full afterwards.

It wasn’t the healthiest option, but these days, I’m all about balance and moderation and that being mentally healthy is as equally as important as being physically healthy.

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My host introduced these to me, but apparently, these chocolates help reduce how much fat and sugar you absorb. My host and I both being foodies, ate a few of these chocolates just for good measure!

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Japan was just beautiful. Here are a few non-food pictures that are so beautiful.

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One of my favorite dinners while in Japan.

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I’ve always heard that you never know the taste of matcha unless you try it yourself. So I tried to try matcha as many times as I could. It’s definitely not as sweet as the matcha we taste at Starbucks or in the States. It’s a much more bitter taste but somehow has some charm to it. I actually brought home a matcha kit so I could continue making it at home! Once I’ve mastered it a bit, I’ll write up a post for those interested!

Japan was in short, such an amazing trip. I can’t wait to go back there someday!

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After two weeks in Japan, I took a two hour flight to Korea and stayed there for a week. My parents were already in Korea at that time so I met up with them at Incheon airport. After a quick week of meeting up with old childhood friends and family, we left Korea and finally headed back to home sweet home!

 

P.S.: In nod to the title of the post, “ita taki mas” is what Japanese people say before they start their meal. It’s kind of like saying “Thank you for this meal, I will eat it gladly!” I loved saying this every time before I ate because literally every time I ate something, it looked and was super delicious!

P.S.: If my host and her family or any of her friends are reading this, thank you for letting me have such a memorable trip!

 

 

Canadian Rockies Adventures

It’s a tradition for my family to go on a national park trip every year. Funny story, last year, we were supposed to go on this Canadian Rocky trip, but when we got to the airport  ready to go, we realized that my passport had expired! So we couldn’t board the plane, and instead, we took the long drive to Ottawa, Quebec, and Montreal. Since we were visiting cities and going through all of the touristy attractions (instead of hiking), the trip was definitely out of the ordinary, maybe what one would consider a “normal” vacation. I wrote a blog post for Part One, Two, Three, and Four of my trip, so check it out if you want 😉

So back to the Rocky Mountains…it was absolutely GORGEOUS! I don’t think I’ve ever hiked so much before in my life though (except for the time I backpacked)! My friend’s family also travelled with us. Unfortunately, the Rocky Mountains is not a foodie destination, but I did visit some awesome (and one horrible) restaurants and cafes that I’ll recount below.

First, we travelled to Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park. We went on a cruise tour of the lake and then hiked around. This was my first view of the beautiful blue waters in the Rocky Mountains! The water is truly turquoise, pictures really don’t do this place justice. Also, this first day was our coldest of the trip, we all had to wear our North Face’s in the middle of summer! But after warming up in out resort hot tub, we went to a Japanese/Korean Restaurant. I had some tuna sushi, salmon sushi, and a special roll of shrimp tempura, avocado, imitation crab, and cucumber. Well the sushi was alright; nothing impressive and I wasn’t expecting anything great since after all, this is in rural Canada. But, the view was amazing. There are gargantuan mountains throughout the town (Canmore), and surprisingly a lot of people! (Mostly European tourists).

The next morning, I worked out (Blogilates and HIIT) on the porch of our hotel room. I had an absolutely beautiful view of the snow-capped mountains, and the weather was just chilly enough to cool my body down while I sweat.

Then we had a quick breakfast at a bagel shop right next to the sushi place. Walking in, I was thoroughly surprised by how nice it was! Very Insta-worthy 🙂

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I devoured (except I was always the last one finished with my meal!) a whole wheat bagel with spinach cream cheese, lox, and egg. I have never been a big fan of bagels, I find that they all taste the same, but it was nourishing for our trip to the Banff gondola and hot springs.

Now, the views from the gondola were truly amazing, as we travelled higher up the mountain, I could see the entire town and all of the mountains below.

In the afternoon, we hiked outside of the city of Banff and had lunch there. BlockKitchenandBar

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Veggie burger and a side salad! Yumm
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Green tea ice cream! I was so shocked to find this flavor in the middle of a national park!!
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So aesthetic!
That afternoon, we drove to Lake Louise. We literally walked and biked everywhere, from our resort, to the supermarket, and the restaurants. Lake Louise is a very small town only opened during tourist season, so there weren’t many restaurant options. Our choices were either high end mandatory-reservation restaurants (we learned this the hard way), or low quality restaurants. After waiting at one of the expensive restaurants for half and hour, we ended up settling on a pizza place at our resort. Actually, the food wasn’t half bad! I’m not the biggest fan of Italian food because I find that it’s all just a glutinous conglomeration of cheese, butter, pasta, and bread…but I had a butternut squash ravioli that I really appreciated!

The next day was one of my favorites because we went on a bunch of short hikes, with each one more scenic than the next!

But first, for breakfast, I had THE BEST humongous bowl of oatmeal. It had maple syrup, spiced apples, and milk, brown sugar, and walnuts on the side. I also added some pumpkin seeds, granola, and sunflower seeds from my parent’s buffet breakfast.

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Best ever!!
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My friend and I hiking to the Paint Pots!
Now that night, we made a horrible decision to not look for a restaurant using Yelp and ended up at the Village Bar and Grill. This place was horrid- the Sriracha was very clearly watered down, the waitress did not bring me a drink after I asked for it twice, we found a mysterious knife in the bathroom, there was a mandatory tip, and my stir-fried vegetables were actually steamed, and then doused in a “dressing” of water and oil!!

And unfortunately, the food choices actually decreased from there. The next day (Canada Day-actually Canada’s 150th birthday!), we hiked at the Chateau Lake Louise and made a lunch of whole wheat wraps and cheese and carrots and pretzels with hummus.

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Me paddling away from the Village Restaurant! Haha
That night, we checked into a “resort” with no wifi, pool, or any other amenity. There was only one restaurant within a 60 mile radius, which was the one in our “resort”. I opted for an average pasta with sauce dish, and since there was no wifi, we spent the night playing Scrabble on the porch. The days are really long in Canada, and it was still bright and sunny at 10pm!

The next morning, I got up for a run around the resort. It was actually so enjoyable because I found numerous trails and had a 360 degree view of the mountains! I think that’s one thing I won’t forget from my trip-the backdrops of my workouts!

Then, we drove to the Columbia Icefield to look at the Glaciers, walk the Icefield and the Skywalk. 

 

How I Get It All Done

I’m known by many to be a Type-A, workaholic, and perfectionist. There are pros and cons to this. The pros are that I get everything that I say I’m going to do, done. The cons are that it’s not necessarily “healthy.”

Having a healthy lifestyle not only means eating healthy, being active, and maintaining your body such as your eyes, but it also means having a manageable schedule and workload, having that balance.

Here are a few of my tips on how I get it all done, without sacrificing my health and happiness.

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ONE// Prioritize

This is so important. There are a million and one things to do and to be real with you, we’re just not going to have enough time for that.

Rather than being pulled in so many directions, choose a handful of things that are truly important to you and that is worth investing your energy into. To give you a sense, my priorities are: school work, friends, family, health, Avolicious, my faith.

If some work pops up that involves these categories, then I’m willing to stay up later, sacrifice my sleep time and get it done. If the work does not involve these categories, I’ll either put it off to the side to work on it later, OR I’ll say no.

This is said so so so many times, but saying NO is okay. Period. No questions.

Keep your important categories in mind and as you create your schedule/to-do list, make sure those categories are on the top of that list.

 

TWO// Nourish

As much as hangry (hungry + angry) exists, losing focus when hungry is very much a real thing (do we have a term for this?). I tend to always lose focus when I’m hungry. This is perfectly normal because rather than using our energy to focus on our work, because we have no energy, we can’t focus. The key is that the snacks you eat should help you study and work longer. They shouldn’t drift you away from studying because of their absurd sugar content or some weird chemical ingredient.

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The easiest snacks that are both healthy and convenient to carry around are granola bars. My recent favorites are the GoMacro bars. GoMacro bars provide organic, plant-powered and wholesome nutrition  – a perfect combination for a little pick me up at around that 3pm/4pm time.

I love stashing these in my backpack during school or even in the summer, when I’m going out and about doing internships and volunteer work.

THREE// 120% Focus

I live by the mantra, “Work hard, Play Hard.” And working hard for me not only means putting in the time, the hours to work, but to be ultra-efficient while doing so. Making sure the concentration between the effort and time is the highest it can be.

Completely hone in on your work. No other thoughts. Put away your distractions, including music. Go all in.

You’ll find that when you have a 120% focus you get much more work done in less time, meaning you get more time to relax and play hard.

FOUR// My non-negotiables

With these three tips above, I get my non-negotiables accomplished. My non-negotiables are: sleeping at least 6+ hours every day, eating healthy (eating at least one meal where it is non-meat and green), and at least 1-2 hours of relaxing and play time.

How to you get everything done (in a healthy way)?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

 

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