Summer Workout Favorites-dogs included!

Summer is the time for working out (and of course cooking)! Even though summer is very unfortunately coming to a close in a few weeks, I thought I would share with everyone my favorite ways to exercise this season. (pilates, yoga, running)

1.) Pilates, specifically Blogilates

My recent obsession has been working out in my room. I roll out my yoga mat, open the windows to let the sunshine flow in, and do pilates to Cassey Ho’s Blogilates videos. They’re so challenging, but Cassey’s positive and bubbly attitude keeps me motivated. Also, I’ve definitely seen results-I’ve been working out to one video in particular. Two months ago, I was only able to get through half of the video, but now, completing the entire exercise sequence is becoming easier and easier!

2.) Yoga

Usually, I end up doing one yoga video as a warm up, and then a Blogilates video. Here’s an amazing link to a list of great (free) yoga videos on Youtube! Alternatively, I take an hour yoga class at the gym, because the group setting can by really enjoyable. I’ve also recently discovered an awesome form of yoga called doga (dogs+yoga). Essentially, you and your dog practice various yoga poses together, and it’s a wonderful way for you and your canine companion to bond and stretch out! Even though I don’t have a dog, I definitely want to try this, it seems so fun!

3.) Running

Last summer, I ran every morning for a couple weeks, and in the end, I was constantly sore and developed a minor injury. So, this summer, I’ve definitely been listening to my body and running when I want to (and not just to follow a daily ritual). I definitely enjoy running with company, but since many of my friends don’t like running, I’ve tried Facetiming them while running. Needless to say, my attempt at Facetiming failed because I could hardly talk while running without having to stop to catch my breath. However, taking dogs out to run with you is a great way to both get exercise and motivate yourself to go on a run. Plus, your dog won’t expect you to talk back to him/her, your dog is just the perfect companion for a run.

Here’s an infographic from Puppyspot on exercising with your dog:

puppyspot_fido_fitness_x2_v02

So, next time you workout, try it with your dog! It definitely makes working out fun and rewarding.

What are your summer workout favorites?

Love,

Serena

How to Drink More Water!

From a young age, I always struggled to drink the recommended amount of water. I’m not sure if this is just me, but for some reason, I drink liquids very slowly-I physically cannot chug anything-small sips for some are like big gulps to me. So, I always viewed drinking water as a chore and never found any motivation to hydrate. But, my breakthrough moment was when I went backpacking last summer. Everyday, I carried two 32 oz. Nalgene bottles full of water, and ended up drinking all of it! Even though this could have been due to my thirst after so much physical exertion, it felt like I wasn’t drinking a significant amount of water, just two bottles a day. So, this leads me to my number one tip to hydrating actively….

1.) Use a 32 oz. reusable water bottle. My 32 oz. Nalgene bottle is very special to me-wherever I go, my Nalgene travels with me! The size of the bottle tricks me into drinking more water than I feel like I am consuming, but drinking the full bottle is equivalent to drinking two plastic bottles of water (what I used to drink from). As an added bonus, reusable bottles last forever (the one I use was actually my parents’ from when they were in college!), so you’ll save money and the Earth’s precious resources ūüėÄ

2.) Bring your bottle everywhere. As I said before, my bottle travels with me at all times. It’s presence reminds me to be constantly sipping. There have been multiple times where I have been in awkward social situations, and drinking water helped me look preoccupied and skip over any awkward silences.

3.) Use a bottle that is aesthetically pleasing. Having a good-looking bottle makes it appealing to look at, drink from, and carry around. I decorated my Nalgene completely with stickers of things that mean a lot to me- national parks, my high school, farmers markets, healthy food, my religion…but I also know plenty of people who go for a plain bottle. Stephanie is obsessed with her Hydroflask-it would definitely be worth purchasing if you enjoy ice cold or hot beverages.

So, those are the three tips I swear by to motivate me to drink more water. Let me know what you do to drink more water!

Love,

Serena

My Tried and True Wellness Tips

Despite all the hardships and struggles I’ve found in my health journey, I’ve discovered and learned tried and true habits that have made me feel (and look) better.

I think for most of these habits, you¬†feel their effects much faster than¬†seeing their effects. It’s like going to the gym – you feel great after a workout, but you don’t necessarily see the results then and there. Those results are seen after consistently going to the gym and also eating properly.

So in other words, if you practice at least three of these habits, I guarantee that you’ll feel great¬†instantly, but in order to see it, give it a few months.

Some of these tips are tips that both Serena and I have provided separate posts about. That shows how important these tips are! So even though you may have already read these tips from previous posts, bear with us!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

< NUTRITION >

Drink plenty of water // If there is ONE thing you will takeaway from this post, it’s this tip. Drink plenty and plenty of water. As up to 60% of our bodies are made up of H2O, our entire body depends on water to function at its peak. Water serves to cleanse and detox the systems in our body.

The recommended amount of water to drink per day is your body weight divided in half in fluid ounces. For some, this may be a drastic increase in water. Therefore, in the first few days or even weeks, you might find yourself frequently running to the bathroom. Don’t worry and stay persistent! Once you start consistently drinking that much water, your body will adapt to your new water intake.

Here are two apps to help track your water intake (Flo in addition tracks your steps, mood, and period! One of my favorite apps!): Waterlogged and Flo.

Eat until 80% full// This “Japanese” tip is something I knew even before traveling to Japan (check out my Japan food journal, what I learned about food habits from Japan, and what I learned about self-love and body-image from Japan).

This is something that I am very guilty about, but I used to define “full” as “overstuffed and where I have to unbutton my jeans haha).” In reality, “full” means “satisfied.” And that satisfied means not feeling hungry but not feeling overstuffed – just that happy in between. In the beginning, this is definitely hard to gauge as we’re so used to our usual (that are typically too much) portions. Start by eating half of what you have and stop to pause and think to yourself “Can I eat more?” Just like with the water, your body will get used to the different portions – your stomach is very malleable (if that’s the right word)!

Savor each bite // This helps with the “Eat until 80% full” tip. In order to savor each bite means to eat slowly. This helps a lot with overeating. A lot of times, we’re super rushed to our next meeting or our next class, that we just stuff ourselves without ever listening to our body or enjoying the actual meal.

I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed my meals more when I savor each bite. It sounds silly, but trust me – it does wonders. Often times, I always feel like I need more even when I’m finished with my meal. I don’t necessarily feel full, but I still feel like I want more. While in reality I want more emotionally, I equate that to wanting more physically and then eat more when I’m not even hungry!

Cut back on the artificial sugar// I’m sure you’ve heard of this before, but here it another reminder! ūüôā In truth, I credit my mom for this. My mom around 8 years ago, banned juice from our house. Now, my family still drinks juice when we go traveling and such, but we just don’t have juice as an option while in the house. The cut has definitely help with beating my sluggishness and sugar crash!

 

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

< ACTIVE >

Walk (as much as you can)¬†//¬†I’ve recently been in a walking kick lately. It’s not the most calorie-burning activity, but I enjoy it so much that at the end of the day, it’s all that matters! I mentioned this in a previous post, but because I am able to do it twice a day every day, I think it’s a lot better than dragging my butt to go on a run that frankly speaking, I don’t really want to do. I’ve been averaging 10,000+ steps this past week and I’m loving the “walker’s high” haha!

One tip, try walking around while taking a call. I have a tendency to sit down and talk on the phone, but these days, I’ve been walking around the house or sometimes even outside while I’m on the phone with my parents while at school.

Stretch before bed // This is something that my mom has engrained in me from a very young age; in fact, ever since I did ballet (that was like eons ago lol).

My mom (being the shortie that she is as well as my dad) made a conscious effort to make me as tall as possible. I don’t know if this is something I can admit or not, but I did think she succeeded. I’m 5’5″ and a little over (according to my doctor’s visit the other day) and while that’s not going to make me the next supermodel, it’s definitely a good inches from my mom who’s around the 5’0″ and 5’1″ mark.

Back to the point, I’ve been stretching every night before I go to bed and this means actually stretching¬†on my bed. I stretch my hamstrings, my quads, my back, stomach, arms, sides, etc. What started out to be a way to make me taller has now become a routine that lets me unwind and also lets my body now that it’s time to go to sleep!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
I actually have three journals! One journal for my faith, one journal for my physical and mental wellness, and one journal for my life rants and worries!

< MENTAL >

Journal //¬†I’m a full-on journaling addict. While I journal about a range of things, one of the greatest things that I found from journaling is being able to put down my complex and overwhelmed emotions. I tend to stress-eat (and I still often times do but not in as much frequency) and journaling has really helped me curb this bad habit.

Instead of letting out my stress through eating, I let out my stress by putting pen to paper.

Here’s a few my beginner’s/101 tips for how to start journaling.

Say one good thing about yourself //¬†I definitely don’t do this as often as I should, but it’s effects are amazing. I’m sure a lot of you like me, in this social media world are under the comparison curse.¬†“I wish my legs were as skinny as hers. I wish my stomach was as flat as her. OMG bod,” and the list goes on and on. Instead of nitpicking or addressing the problems that you want to fix, take the time to appreciate and thank your body for what it is right now. I like to say something about my physical body and something about my personality. Something such as “Thank you, legs, for being strong and helping me speed-walk over that steep hill” or “You’re such a hardworker Stephanie!” It’s not the most easiest thing to do, but once you do, you’ll get addicted to the aftermath.

So there you have it! My tried-and-true wellness tips!

What are some of your wellness tips?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking is my therapy

To me, summer means the time for cooking, the time to explore all of my culinary ambitions that have accumulated throughout the school year.

So, everyday, I cook dinner for my family, and there are always a couple of essentials (ingredients, kitchen tools, etc.) and things I keep in mind.

When I first step into the kitchen, I always venture into the fridge to figure out what it is that I want to cook. My dinners typically consist of some kind of soup, starch (usually rice), and two main/side dishes: veggies and protein or sometimes more veggies. So, I’ll make the rice first in a rice cooker (takes about an hour) so that the rice will be finished when I’m finished cooking.

Then, with the veggies and/or protein that I’ve selected for the meal, I search for recipes. My go-to resources have been The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook¬†by America’s Test Kitchen, New York Times Cooking, and Food and Wine. If there’s a recipe that I love, I’ll remember it and make slight modifications to ingredients if necessary. I love going to the farmer’s market and buying exotic vegetables so that I can try out recipes on my family!

My favorite recipes have been these caramelized broccoli “steaks” (so soft and delicious!), brocollini, veggie gratin (minus the cheese, I used nutritional yeast instead), and mashed potatoes with root vegetables.

I find that searching for new recipes every night actually helps me be more adventurous in the kitchen. Now, I’m less intimidated by baking vegetables instead of stir frying, broiling instead of baking, and using a variety of spices.

By the time I’m done with my main dishes, the rice is ready. I simply heat up the soup that my dad makes every weekend for the week, and dinner is done! Cooking every night is the most therapeutic part of the day for me, and I can’t wait to try more cooking techniques for the rest of the summer! I’m thinking of experimenting with more beans and grains.

What are YOU cooking??

Love,

Serena

 

How small steps (literally) can change your life

In this fast-paced world of instant access, it’s perfectly normal that we want change¬†fast. Changes such as losing weight, eating healthier, and being more active. Things I talk about here in avolicious¬†a lot.

We’ve all heard the phrase “Take a leap of faith.” Well actually don’t. I was to be honest tempted to title this post as “Don’t take that leap of faith”

Let me explain.

FullSizeRender 3
Just like taking the stairs. One step at a time.

I took a huge leap of faith, a leap that looking back I realize was completely uneducated and made in blindness. That leap was in the faith that I would become skinner. I don’t what got into that eighth-grade self me. Looking through the pictures now, I was perfectly fine! But at that moment, I felt large. I felt big. I felt like I was that “fat friend” amidst my friend group. Nobody pressured me or treated me differently to lose weight. In fact, it was completely my decision.

I can’t completely say that I regret this decision, as this leap let me become so passionate about proper nutrition and fervent on redefining what “healthy” means to me (which you can read here). ¬†However, if I was given the choice and go back in time, I would choose not to go through this arduous journey.

This leap of faith made me restrict myself to consuming a mere 1,200 calories and running an average of 3 miles daily in the scorching sun. Roughly calculating it, I probably lived off of 500-800 calories. In a matter of 3 months, I lost 20 pounds. But most importantly and significantly, I lost my self-esteem and self-confidence which still affects me today.

Yes, that big leap of faith allowed me to get quick results FAST. I was so proud and pleased with my appearance. I was able to fit into those skinny jeans, no problem. I had a thigh gap. I had a flat stomach. I finally looked like those girls on Instagram.

But I was completely miserable. My day was dictated merely on numbers – the number on the scale, the number of calories I ate that MyFitnessPal app told me, the number of miles I ran that day, the number on the size tag of my clothes. These numbers consumed my life and let me tell you, I felt so powerless. I was in such control of my eating, yet I felt so out of control in my life (it’s a hard feeling to describe but I’m sure a lot of those who’ve gone through ED or experiencing one right now can attest to this).

But fast-forward two years now, I am a much better relationship with food now. I don’t necessarily think that I am fully recovered. I still have a long way to go.

But I have made progress.

And through my experience, I can say that I’ve had successful progress when I took small steps.

Small and baby steps.

Give you an example? I’ve been straying away a bit from running these days. I used to love running the past, but these days I dread just thinking of the mileage and the prospect of running. Instead, I’ve been doing so much walking.

I’m a Type A gal so I love keeping track of things. I’ve been recently logging my steps into the Health app on my iPhone. I’ve been average 10,000+ steps daily!

I wake up at 6:30am when the weather is actually bearable and take a 30-40 minute power walk. This gets me to about 4,000 steps. Later in the evening, I take a 60-75 minute walk with my parents after dinner. This second walk allows me to get up to 10,000-12,000 steps.

And the best part? I get to enjoy being active. I sincerely do get excited about the prospect of walking in the morning and after dinner. While yes, walking necessarily may not burn as much calories, I am able to do it more consistently and with a glad heart.

And to be honest, all I’m going for is to develop a sustainable, maintainable, and happy lifestyle. Nothing too extreme – on both sides of the spectrum. Doing things that I enjoy, eating things that I enjoy, and most importantly, enjoying the body that I was born with.

So I challenge you: instead of making your goal to go to the gym for an hour everyday, or go cold turkey tomorrow, pick ONE change and stick with it.

Have you tried taking baby steps?

xoxo,

Stephanie