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 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.
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).
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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!
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?
If you guys have read any of my blog posts, then you know that I am quite immune and familiar that I have dealt with body image issues and not being “normal” with my eating.
And as much as I love sharing it here on the blog or writing about my experience with body image and my attitude towards food. Nevertheless, there is power and beauty in physically talking to someone. Face-to-face.
I go to a boarding school so in my residential house, we have prefects. Prefects are seniors who serve almost in place as our parents. However, prefects tend to be so closely integrated into our house that they are our friends but our parents.
So a couple of weeks ago, I decided to go one of my prefects and just open up my whole situation. And I’ve shared this story so many times. Here on the blog. In my journal. But being able to talk to someone about this – someone who can respond and react to my story as I tell it, was powerful.
Another great thing was the prefect I told this apparently went through a similar situation. She was nodding the whole time and almost smiling to herself because she knew exactly how I was feeling. And after talking to her, she gave me a couple of tips, but what I cherished the most was that I had someone I could share my feelings and my experience with. Someone who went through something similar and understood me.
So with that, I really urge those who have something that they want to share, to just share. Go to someone you trust, trust that they’ll reserve judgement. There’s such a huge difference and power in telling someone face to face. Trust me.
Have you ever opened up about your experience regarding body image/eating disorder?
Now usually, stomach aches are normal for me. I’ve had gas problems as a child so my tolerance for stomach aches are quite quite high.
However, today, after having lunch with my mom, I had a massive stomach ache. Something that I was not used to tolerating.
Initially, I thought it was just that I ate a lot. That what I was feeling was fullness. Like literally as we drove out of the restaurant I was like, “Darn it, Stephanie. Why did you eat so much? Remember: hara hachi bu! Only eat until 80% full. You stuffed yourself.”
But after a couple of minutes, I felt a pang in my stomach. It was different to fullness – no, I’m a common customer for fullness. I literally stuff myself full like every other meal lol. No, it wasn’t fullness.Was it gas? No – I’ve been having gas problems since 5 years old and this was definitely not gas. Then what was it?
It was really hard to diagnose what I had and even looking at water made me want to vomit. I just couldn’t fathom putting anything in my mouth.
Short end of long story, the pain decreased after 30 minutes. By then, I could tolerate it. And this again, remind you, is my high tolerance for stomach pains. But after about 2 hours, it was completely gone.
I still don’t know what that incident was and I probably won’t know in the near future, but what I do know is that my wellbeing is the utmost priority.
It’s at times like this that I realize I take too many things for granted. I nitpick at the thickness of my thighs, the “wings” on my arms, the flab on my stomach. I suck in my stomach whenever I pass the mirror. But at times like this, I realize that I was shallow.
As mentioned in my self-love post a few days ago, I’m still in the process of loving my body. Loving it truly the way it is right now. That the reason I’m eating healthy and that I exercise is NOT because I hate how my body looks and I want it to look a certain way, but because I want to feel nourished and empowered and healthy. That word, healthy is abused so much here, but today, this incident reminded me what healthy meant.
Healthy does not mean a certain number on the scale. A certain number on the label of your clothes. A certain number of how many calories you’ve eaten. Healthy does not mean your appearance. For the better or worse, healthy means different to everyone. It’s such a relative term which is why I think it’s been abused so much.
But as I’m slowly moving forward in my self-love journey, I start to build my own definition of healthy. And so far this is what I have: being healthy means to enjoy life without any limitations.
I really don’t want to get that stomach ache ever again – a stomach ache that I could barely sit still with. A stomach ache that I truly felt helpless and out of control with my body.
So yep. That’s what healthy means to me thus far. I’m sure as I add more years and experience to my life, this definition will change. But so far, that’s it: to enjoy life without any limitation. To feel powerful and confident.
I’ve recently been listening to the Jess Lively podcast. Truth be told, I’ve always been wanting to be that girl listens to podcasts. Serial was the first podcast that was introduced to me. However, 10 minutes into the first episode I had to stop because the locations that were being mentioned were very close to where I was living and I knew that this would freak me out and make me paranoid later on into the podcast. Other podcasts, I was annoyed at the lack of focus and how the people would go off on random tangents, and just as they were about to get to the sweet spot, there would be a commercial break – go figure, right?
Regardless, I’ve recently taken interest in Jess Lively through her YouTube channel. I think she lives a unique and awesome life – like seriously. She sold her home (30 minutes after filming her house tour video) and all the things in her home and currently right now, all her stuff is in her carry-on and suitcase. She’s right now traveling the world – never really knowing where she’s going to be, but simply said going with the flow. Now I haven’t been watching Jess Lively enough to give a thorough introduction about her, but I just wanted to share something from her most recent podcast.
During the second half of the interview, Jess and the interviewee Brooke Castillo talk about the mindset of losing weight. And they said that it’s simply NOT thinking about it. To “be the person you think you’ll be when you lose that weight. Act as if you already lost that weight.”
Be the person you think you’ll be when you lose that weight. Act as if you already lost that weight. How would you eat and view your body differently?
Jess and Brooke talked about when we think we’re overweight, we eat more because we say “Oh I’m already fat, so why not just eat some more? Why not continue binging? Why not just eat more even if I’m full? I’m not skinny so I might as well just treat myself because either way, I’m going to be fat.”
Or we think: “I want to be skinny, but I’ll work on that after this meal. I’ll just eat a lot now, and then starting tomorrow I’ll eat healthier.”
Instead, imagine: when you are at the smaller size and you get to your goal weight, will you eat that much? Will you be so lax and hard on your body? No! You’ll be loving your body – how it looks and how it feels.
I think the key is that we should foster and practice those habits that we will be doing after we lose that weight, after we get to our goal weight, after we get to that goal body.
And that makes sense – why do things that will make you gain even more weight when what you want to do is lose weight?
And that makes sense – why do things that will make you gain even more weight when what you want to do is lose weight?
So, in short: Be the person you think you’ll be when you lose that weight.
If it’s hard for you to imagine, think of a friend that you think is a model for the healthy lifestyle or the body that you want. I have one friend, and truth be told, it’s not Serena!!! This friend of mine, actually doesn’t like healthy food. Read: she doesn’t like avocado, almond milk, hummus or chickpeas. BUT… what I admire about her is that she eats slowly, she eats when she’s hungry and stops when she’s full, she eats all the food groups in moderation but she when she indulges, she only takes a small portion.
Thus, that’s why I envision myself and imagine myself to be when I get to my goal weight. So why not practice that right now?
As we head of this weekend, let’s not think “Cheat meal!” “Let’s indulge!” since is that what our future, weight-loss successful selves would think? NO! Take a moment and think to yourself, “what would I do, how would I act if I was skinner, if I was more toned, if I was more ____?” And that answer is exactly what you do this weekend.
In commemoration of this holiday, I want to talk about self-love. This is a topic that I think that every woman in this world should hear.
A couple of my friends at school make fun of me that it’s easy to identify which posts are mine because they see the #everythinginmoderation #bodylove #bodyimage whether it’s on this blog or on my Instagram. While they make fun of me and I smile outside, inside, I’m frustrated because they don’t know the struggle I went through and still going through with my body.
I’m embarrassed to say this, but I’m not too confident on my body. There are many times when I stop in front of the mirror and ask why I’m not thin and why I’m not skinny when I eat so healthy and when I exercise often. Perhaps my friends never struggled with their body image. But I have. Loving my body the way it is and loving it from the inside out is something that has been very hard.
So in this post, I’m not going to talk about how to find self-love because I haven’t achieved it or even close to achieving it myself. However, I want to share and how that maybe this could be a platform where other women can share about their struggle and journey to self-love.
I find that it’s hard to open up on my story. As I mentioned above, whenever I post something on Instagram that’s remotely linked to this topic, my friends back at school make fun of me. Only a handful of friends know my story, and only one back at home asks me every time I come home for break and checks up with me. And I’m forever grateful to have such a friend like that.
I do have to add that when I had my myriad of injuries this fall – including a stress fracture – I was able to gain a new perspective. I realized how blessed and how lucky I am to have a fully functioning and healthy and strong body that allowed me to do whatever I wanted to. Being in that boot for 6 weeks allowed me to gain a new perspective in that being thin, having that thigh gap, having a flat stomach, having slim arms, that’s all OUTSIDE the point. My body for 16 years and counting has been giving me energy to run, walk, sleep, laugh, hang out with my friends, travel, study, dance, and more. And I should be loving my body. Note the word “should.” As soon as I got off that boot, however, I tried to get back into running as soon as I could so I could get back into shape. I know, not much of a progress, but I just wanted to share a little anecdote.
I really hope that our community, our friends, our world can be a more accepting place and a place where all women can share their struggle and journey to self-love. Since I personally think that it’s so black and white. It’s either lose weight! Be like this celebrity! Change your body because it’s not good enough! To the other end of the spectrum which advocates to completely loving every inch of your body. There is no in-between and frankly, a lot of women are in that gray area.
So while we may never come to achieving complete self-love, I hope that through discussions and transparent blog posts, we can slowly and slowly inch towards that goal.
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” – John Steinbeck
Personally, I think this is such a powerful quote. As one who is a perfectionist, I always want to do things perfectly. Perfect grades, perfect work ethic, perfectly organized desk, perfectly organized room, a perfect life. And of course, this perfectionist attitude took a toll on me (and I’m sure with others too), when I wanted a “perfect” body.
Now “perfect” is such a relative word. How do you measure what is perfect and what is not? Most times, if not all times, it’s the image that society and the media show. Those tall and lean girls with toned abs, thigh gap, and no bat wings – that’s what we deemed as “perfect.” Now, I’m not going to talk a lot about body image on this post because 1) I’ve talked about it on the blog before and 2) there’s a lot on the Internet about this topic.
So I want to address the second clause of this quote: “you can be good.” I lost a significant amount of weight over the course of three months in order to reach my “perfect” body. I was determined and resolute that this would make me happy and fulfilled. But as I lost my body, I lost my self-esteem and my self-confidence together. I started putting my worth as an individual on the number of calories I ate that day, the number that was put on the weighing scale. My happiness and my self-esteem solely came from those factors: that I was skinny enough and that I was eating only 1,200 Calories.
But when I hit the low point of this “perfect” body – I was losing hair, my hands and feet were getting increasingly cold when it was the middle of summer, I haven’t a period in four to five months, I was constantly tired despite clocking in 8 hours a day. My doctor, my family, and my friends were warning and advising me that this was extremely dangerous for me – that this is not the Stephanie they used to know and should not be the Stephanie that should follow. So long story short, I realized that I don’t have to have the perfect body. I don’t have to have that thigh gap. I don’t have to have perfectly toned abs, it’s fine and normal that I have flab hanging over my stomach when I’m sitting down. I don’t have to have slender arms, I can have a mini bat-wing or angel wing (whatever you want to call it). I don’t have to be perfect, I can be simply good. And for me, good means not the physical appearance but the internal state. To nourish and fill myself up with nutrient-dense, fresh, green, and clean foods. To give my body the nourishment, the physical activity, the rest, and the meditation that it so needs and deserves.
So again, mini-rant here today, but remember, GOOD, not perfect. GOOD.
Have you had to switch your mindset from perfect to good before?