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 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!
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.
“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?
“Oh, that food is really healthy and good for you.”
“That food is really bad and fattening, don’t eat that if you don’t want to be fat.”
I’m sure we’ve either heard something similar to this or we’ve thought them ourselves.
Today, I want to talk about on no longer moralizing your food choices.
It’s so easy when we’re at the grocery store with the labels and packaging to identity what is “healthy” and what is not. In the past, anything that was fat-free was “healthy” (despite the fact that the substitute for fat that companies used are processed and the best either), later this turned into “carb-free” or “low-carb” (and this trend still lives in as carbs are thought to be the devil and turned against to) and now, it seems like the trend is “protein-everything.”
However, I’m here to tell you that our kale salads, avocado toasts, green smoothies are not healthy, but as a Washington Post article puts it, they are nutritious.
As someone who’s lost a significant amount of weight by running track while limiting myself to 1,200 Calories, I know that at the time, I justified my low calorie consumption because everything I was eating was “healthy.” I didn’t eat any sweets, cakes, “fattening” foods, I just ate a lot of greens, and heaven forbid, a carb ONE meal a day. I thought healthy = slim. But it’s not.
After losing 20 lbs. in a course of three months, my parents, my friends, the parents of my friends, and people I barely knew were asking me if I was sick. While I thought I looked great at slimmer, they obviously saw the truth. My face did not look as radiant and glowing, my hair was falling out, my hands and feet were always cold despite the fact that it was summer. However, none of these were my apparent then when I went to get my yearly checkup. My doctor advised me to take a blood test to see if all the nutrients I needed were there. When the results came back, I was lacking in a lot of nutrients.
As I looked at those results, I realized that my 1,200 Calories diet with no sweets, no processed foods, no fattening foods was not healthy.
I think Merriam-Webster’s definition(s) are perfect.
No where in the definition does it talk about diet. It does not talk about how many greens you should be eating a day. It simply says that we are free from disease or pain and that healthy things are beneficial to one’s physical, mental, or emotional state.
I think that part is key. While losing weight, yes, physically I may have looked great, I was not physically well as apparent by the blood test results. I was not mentally nor emotionally sound either. Food dictated my life and I was exceedingly insecure about my body and my food choices. I was a good or bad person depending on how much food I ate and if my foods were good or bad.
So I’m here to STOP. Being healthy, having a lifestyle that is beneficial to your physical, mental, or emotional state can still mean that you can have processed foods, can have your McDonalds, have your sweets, as long as they are for your well-being.
If you balance your “good” foods and “bad” foods and balance your exercise frequency while at the same time, taking the time to meditate and check in with your soul (I do this by journaling), choose the middle and you’ll be “healthy.”
No longer is a food healthy or unhealthy by its appearance and nutrient content. A food is unhealthy or healthy according to how it can benefit your physical, emotional and mental state. If you’re craving that food and crush that craving, and do that multiple times, that’s not great for your mental state. If you keep on comparing your body to someone else’s and go on an extreme diet, that’s bad for your physically and mentally.
So stop moralizing your food choices. Eat what you want, when you want them, in moderation. As simply as that.
2016 is over in a couple of minutes (or might be already over by the time you read this), BUT I wanted to share a couple of my 2016 health and fitness faves.
ONE// Wearable tech
While I personally don’t have any wearable tech items (as my mom fears about radiation…) I think 2016 was the year for wearable tech. I’ve seen from Jawbone, FitBit, Polar, Garmin and more on the arms of fitness junkies and ordinary people alike! It’s great that these wearable tech items are slim, pretty discreet, and easy to use. I really hope to persuade my mom to let me get one!
TWO// Foam rolling
Now this is something I’ve personally experience and reaped benefits of. I had extremely tired quads at the end of summer after a sudden increase in running mileage. My old running coach (that I still contact to this day) recommended that I take a break from running and instead, foam roll for a good 40 minutes. 10 minutes for quads, 10 minutes each for side of the leg, and 10 minutes for hamstrings. While it was a mundane motion, foam rolling definitely helped me recover quickly!
While yoga has always been touted as a healthy practice for the body and mind, I feel like it has gotten a lot of hype this year. I’ve personally love to do yoga as a nice way to stretch my body and challenge my body in a different way.
FOUR// Healthy and cute food restaurants
I personally am so happy about this! I feel like recently there’s been so many healthy restaurants that are both cute and popular, although they are on the expensive side. When visiting NYC or Seoul this year, I’ve definitely seen a lot of places to eat where there are green-colored and fresh foods instead of brown and fried ones. Especially, meals with avocado has been getting the hype recently!
My maternal grandmother and my mom is a huge fan of superfoods, so I’m definitely one as well. I think during 2016, we’ve seen a lot of acai, goji, maca, noni, and cacao from the media.
In addition, not really a superfood, but chia seeds and hemp seeds have been getting a lot of praise as well.
SIX// Green juices/smoothies
Oh. my. goodness. How could I not list green juice? I think this is a pretty self-explanatory item.
There’s also been a lot of encouragement, support, and development into diets and lifestyles that are necessarily the standard carnivore or American diet. I love taking a peek into “What I Eat in a Day” videos where the eater has a certain/specific diet.
I personally still eat red meat and all, but I truly respect all who make the choice to eat a certain way.
I personally think that the holiday season aka the season of feasting and eating way too much starts with Halloween. And while the holiday season is filled with friends, family, and lots of joy, it also means lots of food and chances to indulge more than needed. Now this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t enjoy yourself during the holiday season, but this post is here to help you guys get the most out of the holiday season by not sacrificing your enjoyment or nutrition/fitness you’ve worked so hard for until this time.
Eat slowly |I talked about this in my last blog post. Eating slowly does really help. Usually, I have this friend (let’s call her A) that eats at the same fast eating pace as me and we are always the one that get seconds together. But this week, as I’ve been eating slower, I notice that when I am halfway done, A is already done and she goes up for seconds. However, when I am done with my first serving, my stomach feels full and even though I want to eat more for the satisfaction of my tastebuds, my physical satisfaction has been reached.
Share | Share your treats. Use these treats to catch up and spend time with your friends and loved ones. When you gather around the table to eat a dessert, don’t make the focus of that time to eat, but an opportunity to spend time with each other. Also, if you share, you can try a variety of flavors. So if you decide to share with two of your friends, you can get the chocolate cake, your other friend can get the pumpkin pie, and the third friend can get tiramisu. And you can a small bite and indulgence out of all three.
Be realistic | Don’t skip meals or eat barely anything for a meal so that you can have a feast for dinner. By starving yourself for the night, you are going to eat more than you need. The food already looks appetizing but being hungry you’re definitely going to get more for the first serving and also get seconds. So eat normally. Don’t let those holiday parties be an excuse for you to eat more than you should. Eat those indulgent meals all in portions.
Have fun, though |What’s the point of the holiday season without some fun? Life is too short to be worrying over calories. Indulge and enjoy yourself (but of course in moderation).
What’s your favorite meal during the holiday season?
Just this past weekend was Parents’ Weekend so Serena and I got a much deserved long weekend and quality time with our parents!
Coming back home, I stepped on the scale on Saturday morning as the morning before I left for school around 50 days ago, I weighed myself to see how well I would be able to maintain (or even lose!) a couple of pounds.
Much to my surprise, I maintained my weight! While I am a huge proponent of fitness (I’m currently on crutches now due to an injury and am just dying to go on a run!), I think weight wise, diet is key.
And my number one tip to either maintain weight or to lose weight naturally is simply this: EAT SLOWER. Yep. Simply eating slower. No junk food/processed food elimination, no certain diet, just eating slower.
Now, I am a pretty fast eater. So much so that as a kid (and occasionally even now) I would get massive stomach gas. This happens when you eat fast that you swallow air along with your food and creates “gas” in your stomach. Read: a lot of farting hours after finishing a meal.
However, I’ve had a couple of slow eating friends (that to be honest, when I was young, I thought were annoying because we would have to wait for them before we could resume our game of tag or whatnot). And if it was coincidence or not, they were all slim. This includes my all-time fave, Serena.
I think the art of eating slowly allows you to be really in tune with your body. When you’re eating fast, you’re not eating for fullness, but you’re eating for your tastebud’s satisfaction. And we’ve all heard of the phrase “Eat with your stomach, not with your eyes.” As someone who has eaten fast for 15 years of her life, I can attest to the “Eating with your stomach.”
However, when you’re eating slower, it’s harder to force yourself to eat more when you’re full. You are much more cognizant and aware of feeling full that you feel obligated to stop eating, whereas, when you are eating fast, you don’t recognize that full feeling and stop eating until you are physically full (i.e. you have to unbutton your jeans).
So for any of those fast eaters out there, together with me, let’s try to make ourselves a goal. We will eat slower. We will place our forks down between each bite. We will talk more with the people sitting with us. We will NOT be the first ones to finish, but near the last ones to finish (sorry Serena, I don’t think I can eat slower than you … love ya!)
Do any of you guys have a problem with fast eating?