A couple of weeks ago, I shared my Tried & True Wellness Tips over on the blog. The central idea of that post was that while these tips are not life-changing, consistent practice and application of them will produce great results.
To be honest, this has been my mantra ever since I naively lost 40 lbs. in the course of two months and then gained it back again. I realized the importance of sustainable healthy practices, not extreme ones. Here is one of favorite posts that talk about this small change, big gain theme: How small steps (literally) can change your life
So you can imagine my excitement when Elysium Health included my advice in a graphic they created with this same theme! I’ve been perusing their website recently and I love reading their research and mission. They’ve also released an NAD+ supplement called Basis—it’s some really interesting stuff.
I loved the graphic so much that I decided to share it on the blog!
Aren’t these great tips?
Hope you can use these small tips to create a big gain in your week!
What small change are you going to implement this week?
Thank you for Elysium Health for creating this awesome graphic.
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.
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.
I’ve recently been in a funk. After school got out on May 31st, I’ve just lost all motivation and energy. I am an extremely organized and Type-A person – so much so that I plan my days out to the minute. Throughout the school year, before I went to sleep, I would create my schedule from my notes app. It would be something like
This sort of method helped me to stay on top of things but I think such a rigid and structured schedule made me completely flop over when school ended.
Things I enjoyed such as blogging, running, and reading, became things I didn’t even consider doing. I just wanted to sleep, eat, and watch videos on YouTube.
It’s hard to describe the feelings exactly but I’m sure many of you guys here can relate those days when you just don’t want to do anything.
But I’m slowly coming out of that funk right now and I have a few tips based on my experience.
UNPLUG | We unfortunately have these things called electronics and social media. I really really recommend to those who are in a funk to just UNPLUG. We have such a bad tendency to just reach for our phones or our computers whenever we feel lazy or unmotivated. This is procrastination at its finest. I tend to procrastinate on studying or doing work by going on social media rather than spending time with my friends or family or by reading. This past week, I unplugged for just one day and it was such a powerful experience. My emotions and feelings were no longer dependent on these small devices – I felt so free and lighter. Take a day or a few hours to just unplug (if you need to tell some important people beforehand, send them a quick text saying that you’re going to turn off your phone for x amount of hours). You’ll feel refreshed and reset to forget about the sluggish past few days and look forward to a fresh new slate.
WALK | While I haven’t been running at all this past week, I’ve been walking every night for an hour with my parents. Something about being surrounded by who love you the most in the midst of a light cool evening breeze and just walking it out is therapeutic. Also, walking alone is great too. Listen to some music (or refrain if you’re going to adhere to #1) and take a moment to just reflect and think.
JOURNAL | Maybe it’s because I am a huge journal addict, but I love love journaling. Its really powerful to just jot down your feelings. Sometimes you just don’t know why you’re feeling like you do. You feel sluggish, unmotivated and lazy, but you don’t know WHY. And writing in your journal, it allows you to again, take a minute, reflect, and identify why you’re feeling a certain way and then find ways to solve it.
You can see that in these three tips, the running theme is to TAKE A MINUTE. Just take a moment, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and reflect what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way.
And the most important thing to remember is that we all have those days. It’s normal to feel unmotivated and sluggish. We are not perfect. We are human. We are allowed to feel lazy and not are best selves.
It’s finally spring weather! After a super cold and dreary winter season, it’s so nice to sit on the porch with the sun shining and wind billowing. And of course, spring means that there is absolutely NO excuse to exercise! As much as I love working out and breaking a sweat, it’s definitely hard in the winter with the weather and just the ole winter blues.
With spring season and summer right around the corner, I wanted to share a few of my essentials for a killer workout routine.
Aaptiv is one of my newest discoveries, but quickly becoming my favorite and most crucial to have an amazing workout session. Warning: this is not a regular fitness app. The app provides motivation and guidance right from your headphones. For instance, when I do a treadmill workout, throughout the whole run, the trainers (one of my favorites being Rochelle) are continually motivating and cheering you on. The trainers are all super inspiring and their pumped-up voices are literally what makes me go that extra mile or push harder. Rather than my voice telling me that I should stop, go slower, or take a break, Rochelle’s voice shatters those doubtful thoughts. For those who are lacking in the motivation department, especially when you’re in the midst of the workout, give Aaptiv a try! (They provide a free 7-day trial. I’m sure you’ll be hooked on it after the 7 days, haha). If you check out their website and scroll down, you can hear a sample workout.
2) Hydroflask Waterbottle
Now, this isn’t just any water bottle. It has to be a Hydroflask. Oh my goodness, I can’t express how much I love my Hydroflask. On those hot and boiling days, opening my Hydroflask and sipping on ice-cold water is THE BEST FEELING. Even if I filled it up in the morning, my water stays cold even when I finish a workout late at night. (I believe that it insulates cold water for 24-hours and hot water for 12-hours). I highly recommend investing in a great insulating water bottle – it will change the way you drink water. (I’ve seen other popular insulating water bottles like S’well)
Out of all the essentials here, I believe that number three is the most important. Scheduling and carving out time to workout is key. For me especially, I am a busy-bee and have a million and one things to do in the weekday (and weekend sadly). So unless I schedule and write down that I’m going to workout, chances are, I’m not. And the workouts don’t have to be long at all. Even 20 minutes each day will make you feel much more energized and fit! In the app I was talking about previously, there is a filter where you can filter workouts depending on their duration, a feature I love and use a lot. If I only time to squeeze in a short workout I filter the time to 20 minutes and I can pick and choose which workouts I want to do within the 20 minutes. If I have more time, I would choose like a 45-min or even an hour long piece. TIP: Make sure that when you schedule your workout session, you create buffer time before and after the session. Usually I have a 5-min buffer before and a 10-min buffer after so that I have time to change, head to the gym, and take a break if needed.
4) Be realistic
Don’t overdo yourself. Make sure that your workout routine is sustainable. There are very low chances that you will continue a workout session if every time it is miserable and you hate it. In fact, for around 3 weeks, I’ve been routinely walking 10,000 steps daily. And while it took some modifications to get to that quota, the changes weren’t so drastic that I’ve been able to do it everyday. Making manageable changes are key to continue your workout session. In addition to manageable changes, it’s important to make sure you’re enjoying the workout. For me, I love running, taking long walks, golfing, or doing yoga, so I get to be happy while I’m burning calories – a win-win! I think Aaptiv does a great job with this (have I mentioned how much I love Aaptiv?!). The trainers are super motivating and after the end of each workout, I feel so rejuvenated and energized. The trainers at Aaptiv are what allows me to come back to the app each time for another workout.
The first day back from spring break, I had golf try-outs.
Now, I’m NOTHING NOTHING compared to Serena (she is a goddess at golf, but she’s way too humble to brag or talk about it, so I’ll do it for her: her handicap is an 8!!! An 8!!!).
However, ever since I’ve been a little kid, I’ve always wanted to learn and do golf. My dad is an avid golf fan and he goes out with his friends or coworkers pretty much every weekend. He always expressed interest for my mom and me to join him to golf. As much as he loved golfing with his friends, he’s always wanted to play with his family.
So after having a horrible experience with crew (it’s a very respectable sport, but it just wasn’t the sport for me), I had nothing to do for spring term. I decided to try out golf.
I started playing golf seriously last summer, so summer of 2016. I had weekly lessons and my dad and I would go out to the driving range several times a week. But being that I was away at boarding school and busy with school work, I could only practice golf intensely during school breaks.
So with a lack of sufficient experience, I was a wreck and full of nerves and anxiety leading to the golf tryouts. However, if there is one thing I learned from golf try-outs, it’s having a positive mindset.
I used to play tennis before (yeah, as you can see, I’ve had my fair share of many sports but I was never able to stick to a sport since I was so horrible at it haha. One of the reasons I fell in love with running – not much skill needed). One thing about tennis that I miss is the mental game. You have to have a strong mental game. Period.
I remember during tennis matches between each point, while waiting for the serve or before my serve, I would tell myself “Stephanie, you can do this. You can do this. Have confidence. Have faith. You can do this.”
And this sort of mental pep talk does wonders. It really does. Playing with a positive and confident mindset has a huge difference than playing with a negative and discouraging mindset.
Instead of regretting and grumbling of a bad shot, changing my mindset to “Okay, make the next shot the best you can,” has changed the outcome of my golf game drastically.
So in short, LIVE WITH CONFIDENCE. CARRY YOURSELF WITH CONFIDENCE.
Remember to always to have the glass half-full perspective. You’ll find yourself surprised of the positive outcomes that will come out of it.
This is definitely a question, actually more of a belief that I would have held last year.
As much as I loved running and the feeling you get after a nice long run, I do have to admit that I did run for the sake of staying fit. My thought process was this: if I run, then that means I’m burning more calories, building up more stamina and endurance, yeah, I’m going to keep on running.
And this mindset would be the driving force despite the pain I felt in my knees, the heaviness in my quads, the limping after my run.
Now this isn’t to say that running is bad, no that’s not it. After taking a break from running and simply “intuitively exercising” I’ve realized that I’ve been extreme in my attitude towards exercise.
I reasoned that if you don’t exercise, namely rigorous exercise (which means lots of sweating, lots of heavy panting, frequent thoughts of “I can’t do this. I want to give up”), then I won’t be fit.
However, as I continue to consistently do yoga, walk a lot, and go golfing, I realize that exercise doesn’t have to be necessarily rigorous to make an impact.
It’s just a matter of efficiency. Running, HIIT (High intensity interval training), boxing require a lot of energy but in a short burst of time. Yoga, golf, walking, hiking require much less energy, but during a longer period of time. Now, long distance running has both the energy and the length aspect, which is probably why the bodies of long distance runners is generally referred to as #bodygoals.
However, I think the key to exercise is not about the intensity or about the length, but about how much you enjoy it.
My dad personally hates running (yet he was my buddy runner for all my 5K GOTR races when I was in middle school – thanks dad!!! <3), but he LOOOVES golfing. He claims that he’s not good (I don’t know about that since he’s waaaay better than me lol) but he enjoys the sport so much. Now, there’s no point in him to run since he literally only goes to the gym once or twice a month to run on the treadmill. What good is that? Yeah, even if one mile is nearly 100 calories, what good is it if he only runs 4 miles ONCE a month? Just 400 calories.
But he almost golfing every weekend with his friends. And I mean every weekend. Minus the weekends that he’s visiting me that is. Even during the winter, he would go out with a million of layers and lots of heat packs. He even did a golf outing with his friends for a long weekend where for two days, they played 36 holes each. 18 holes before lunch and 18 holes after lunch. I know, extreme.
But despite the less energy golf requires, my dad does it in such high frequency that in the long run, golf is the exercise that makes him fit. And let me tell you, don’t regard golf lightly. All the times I’ve gone golfing with my dad, walking the full course is a lot of work. I had my phone in my pocket the whole time and after the course, I checked my phone and it was already over 10,000 steps. Think about it! I just walked the recommended number of steps by doing a round of golf! It definitely requires less energy BUT it’s for a prolonged time so it definitely does train you.
Sorry for this long rant – these days, I’ve been getting a lot of “aha!” moments about eating and exercise. And I wanted to spread this “wisdom” I’ve been getting with you all.
There’s such thing as a runner’s high, and let me tell you, it’s real. Now, I’m not a professional runner, let alone a varsity runner at my school, but I sure did love running winter of 2015 all the way to fall 2016.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’m taking a break from running as I’m just not feeling it (#intuitive exercise).
Anywho, I’ve been walking a lot more in response. Apparently, you’re supposed to walk 10,000 steps a day. Now, in a culture where we sit down to study, sit down to eat, sit down in the car, sit down just everywhere, that’s hard.
But…getting those steps gets addictive. At least for me as a Type-A, workaholic, and perfectionist. I’ve been going upstairs and downstairs getting my mom’s bag for her, getting my dad’s keys, just to log more steps. I’ve been running in place while I’m brushing my teeth and flossing. I’ve been walking to and fro in the house while I watch YouTube videos or read a book.
It’s kind of insane and silly to watch me like that in the house, but overall, I’ve been able to log in more steps and truth be told, I do feel like I’m getting enough exercise but just spread over time. So call me someone on walkers high, because honestly, I really just might.
I have to give credit where credit is due. While I’m not athletic (at all, trust me), I do consider myself quite flexible. I did ballet for a couple of years when I was in kindergarten and first grade and and then on and off during fourth grade, but I don’t think ballet really had anything to do with me and my flexibility.
Flexibility is crucial – it keeps your muscles elongated and supple, reduces the risk of injury, and helps with recovery. For me, my mom “forced” me to stretch every night before bed so that I can grow taller. As a daughter where her dad is 5’7″ (around 170cm) and 5’1″ (around 150 cm), anything that could help me grow taller by even a centimeter was accounted for.
However, even though I’ve stopped growing, this habit of stretching has ingrained in my head and body, that I stretch literally every night I go to sleep.
Below is my stretching routine:
< Before Bed >
< During the day/In the morning >
Try to incorporate at least ONE of these stretches this week! I think you’ll feel a difference!
I wanted to accompany this post along with my “intuitive eating” post. All of us, everyday, have those ‘awkward’ times. We have a couple of minutes to spare, but it’s too short to actually do something worthwhile.
Here are some workouts that you can do based on how much time you have in your hands:
< 5 minutes >
2 reps of 2 min jumping jacks / 30 sec rest
Alternating 10 pushups and 10 situps during the whole 5 minutes
1 min full plank // 30 sec elbow plank // 1 min raised leg plank (30 sec on ea. leg) // 2 min side plank (1 min on ea. side) // 30 sec full plank
Alternating 10 wide squats and 10 regular squats during the whole 5 minutes
Jump roping (try jump roping for the whole time with minimal breaks)
1 min high knees, 1 min skiers, 1 min mountain climbers, 1 min jumping lunges alternating, 1 min high knees
< 10 minutes >
5 reps of: 1 minute 90% effort sprint and 1 minute rest by slowly jogging in place
4 reps of: 2 min jumping jacks / 30 sec rest
Alternating 10 pushups and 10 situps during the whole 10 minutes
2 reps of: 1 min full plank // 30 sec elbow plank // 1 min raised leg plank (30 sec on ea. leg) // 2 min side plank (1 min on ea. side) // 30 sec full plank
Alternating 10 wide squats and 10 regular squats during the whole 10 minutes
Today, I want to talk about intuitively exercising. I really want to experiment with this “intuitive exercise” thing for a month and perhaps give you guys an update.
As many of you guys know, I am pretty strict and regimented about my exercising routine (as you can see from my various exercise blog posts). However, for the past three weeks or so, I’ve gone to the gym perhaps in total of three times. I know…gasp. It’s a surprise for me as well.
Now, I don’t know why all of a sudden, my motivation and love for exercise died down. Perhaps it’s because of all the injuries I’ve gotten this past year (knee problems, shin problems, foot stress fracture) and perhaps because I got cut from winter track this year that I really wasn’t required to run every day like I was in the fall with cross-country or last year when I did winter track. I don’t know. I really can’t say what the reason was.
Regardless, I’ve trying to get back into exercise. And I want to get back by intuitively exercising. And this means whatever makes me move and makes my heart pump for at least 30 minutes. At that means at that instant – that instant where you realize you should exercise — what do you want to do? What makes you excited to move around?
Whether that means I’m foolishly dancing to songs, whether that means I run for 10 minutes and walk for 20 minutes, whether that means I go on a hike with my parents, whether that means I go shopping with my mom (which always takes longer than 30 minutes), whether that means I go on YouTube and find a 30 minute full-workout video or do a nice relaxing yoga session, as long as I’m moving and my heart rate is increasing, I’m good.
I think this makes exercise so much more enjoyable. Not that running wasn’t enjoyable to me. I think because I came back from so many running injuries and thus had a hiatus from running, my endurance and stamina for running has dropped significantly. And being the Type-A perfectionist I am, every time I go on a run after my injury, I am striving to get to those splits and times and mileage again. Which is unhealthy. And which makes my body struggle and makes the whole exercise experience unenjoyable.
Therefore, I’m just going to do whatever floats my boat. Intuitive exercise doesn’t mean that I’m going to get out of shape or gain weight. In fact, some of the most slimmest countries do just that! Reading about the Japanese or Korean or Europeans, while these countries have the most delicious foods (at least in my opinion), the natives are so slim. Why? First their portions are small (what Serena just wrote about) and second, they walk A LOT. In America, we tend to rely a lot on our cars – but in these countries, there’s a lot of walking. While there’s still public transportation, walking to and from the bus stop, train stop, and all sorts all adds up. And so these people eat good food and stay in shape by simply walking! So don’t be afraid/think that your exercise regime isn’t “hard enough” – as long as you’re moving and you love what you’re doing to exercise, then you’re all set!