When I revelled without a care

- Lorde, Team


J.Crew stripe shirt; 7 For All Mankind jeans; Triple Five Soul jacket; Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses; Gucci belt bag; Joe Fresh flats

Last week was a write-off in terms of school work. I wrote my fourth midterm on Monday morning, went to work, and completely crashed after that. On top of working long hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, I was also in a bad head-and-heart-space, which left me unable to do any studying. Thursday, I decided to take the evening off to chill out with some friends, and Friday, we attended Good Friday service and celebrated Jon’s 26th birthday at our favourite steakhouse, Vintage Chophouse.

This week, I’m working on my term paper and studying for my final, which I write on Saturday. Then we’re heading up to Edmonton to celebrate a few things: mainly, Jon’s birthday, the end of my course, and Jon’s last day of work. More on this soon.

It’s that time of year again where I’m distracted by a million things. I want to do spring cleaning, put away my winter clothes, get a mani-pedi, wax my eyebrows. Basically, get myself ready for summer. I also want to binge watch all my favourite shows and see friends again. But until this exam is over, I’ll be on lockdown. Talk to you in a week.

C.

My relationship with food

I should be working on my paper, but instead, I’m gonna write this post on food. First off, I don’t follow a strict diet. What I eat is a combination of healthy and unhealthy food. During the week, I do my best to eat clean. I usually start off everyday with a cup of black coffee. Sometimes almond milk. A typical breakfast for me is raisin toast with avocado spread and an egg on the side. Sometimes I’ll eat it at home or pack it to eat at my desk.

As much as I can, I try to eat a light lunch. I usually like to eat some sort of meat (chicken, fish, or beef), with rice and vegetables (broccoli, mushrooms, bell peppers, asparagus, or brussel sprouts). I also love to eat pasta for lunch. If I go out, I like soup and sandwich combos.

In the afternoon, I usually snack on yogurt parfait, an apple, or cheese and crackers. Every once in awhile, I like to change up my snacks. Instead of an apple, I’ll eat a peach. Instead of yogurt, I’ll eat grape tomatoes. Instead of cheese and crackers, I’ll eat chips. Almost everyday, I’ll make a salad. Sometimes I’ll eat it before lunch or right before dinner, depending on how busy my day is. My favourite is Greek salad (without the lettuce) or an avocado tomato salad.

I love preparing dinner the same day, but it’s not always possible because of my work schedule. Sometimes, it’s a simple chicken and rice meal, or steak and mushrooms. Other times, it’s Vietnamese food like bún gà or bún bò Huế. Dinner is flexible depending on who’s cooking.

On the weekends, anything goes. Korean fried chicken. Cheesedog from Five Guys. Donairs and garlic fingers from Big John’s Pizza. Eggs benedict for brunch. Late night Chinese food. Ham and cheese croissants. McDonald’s. Chicken wings and udon noodles at Bubblemania. Inglewood pizza. Dim sum. Hot pot. Plus, Sunday night dinner at my parents’ house which is usually tons of awesome Vietnamese food.

My weakness is late night snacking. I love eating slices of salami with black olives while watching TV. Or sometimes chips, ice cream, or instant noodles. Depends on the night. Depends on my mood.

That’s basically my eating routine in a nutshell. I haven’t always had a good relationship with food, and even to this day, I still struggle with stress/binge eating. By age 16, I quickly learned that I can’t just eat whatever and however much I want without consequences. As a result, my late teens and early twenties have been a battle with food and weight. It’s easy for me to eat healthy, however the struggle is staying away from bad food.

When you tell yourself you should eat this and you need to stop eating that, it becomes an exhausting mental battle of resisting temptation. Eventually, you give in, it feels great, and then the guilt settles in. You set new goals to avoid eating this and to eat more of that, and the vicious cycle continues.

I used to tell myself I shouldn’t eat fried chicken and pizza because it’s “unhealthy.” Instead, I should be eating lettuce and stick carrots, which I hate. If you eat stuff you don’t like, for the sake of eating healthy, you’re going to resent it long term. Plus, it doesn’t make for a healthy relationship because you’re eating what you “should” as oppose to what you WANT. Instead of eating something you don’t like because it’s healthy, find an alternative that you do like.

When it comes to bad food, the secret is truly moderation. For example, if you love instant noodles, like me, only eat it once in awhile. If you love cake, eat a small slice. Controlling portion size and how often we eat something is much easier than cutting it completely out of your diet. The reality is if you struggle with controlling your eating, you’ll always go back to what you love to eat, especially the unhealthy stuff. Instead of binge eating once you finally give in to the temptation, foster a healthy relationship with whatever you love to eat.

Sometimes what we love to eat and drink is really unhealthy for us, like pop and candy, and sometimes, we consume a lot of it. If that’s the case, it’s important to get that under control, especially for health reasons. I’m not prompting eating whatever unhealthy foods you want in moderation. What I’m saying is find a way to incorporate what you love (instead of what you hate) into healthy eating while allowing yourself to also eat some bad food, only occasionally and in small portions.

For the first time in my life, I actually feel like I have control over my eating. Here’s the kicker: it takes a lot of hard work. I spent half an hour to an hour every morning preparing my snacks, and cooking healthy meals is no easy task. Eating healthy requires time, money, and effort. Some health nuts might totally discourage unhealthy eating, but that’s not realistic for me. I love fried chicken way too much. If I want to get super ripped, I should probably cut out carbs and sugar, but I’m not there yet.

This relationship with food is lifelong. Food is essential to our survival, and it can be responsible for extending life or ending it early. I’m not a nutritionist, dietitian, or doctor. I’m only speaking from my own experience. There’s more I could say about food, diet, and exercise, but I don’t want to turn this into a fitness blog. For me, I’m focusing on maintaing a habit of clean eating during the week and moderately indulging in bad food on the weekend. Plus going to yoga. It’s not easy, but if you stick with it without being too hard on yourself, you’ll eventually see results.

Sorry for writing so much, but thanks for reading anyways.

C.

Best shape of my life

I believe in goal setting; whether it’s at the beginning of every day, every week, every month, or every year. This year, I resolved to get back in shape. I grew up playing sports like soccer and volleyball. When I hit high school, I stopped playing sports and also starting eating out regularly, which resulted in a 20 lb. weight gain over the course of three years.

Once I started University, I struggled with my weight even more, especially with stress eating. Cooking for myself was a challenge, and eating campus food was a much easier option. Making time for the gym was tough with a full course load, but I managed to work out here and there, and even took up wall-climbing for a semester. In my third year, I was on some long term medication that resulted in massive weight loss, and when I moved to Australia the following semester, I kept the weight off because food was incredibly expensive. Plus, I was walking and biking everywhere.

For my first few years back in Calgary, I didn’t do any physical activity. NOTHING. Why? Because it didn’t fit my schedule. My preference is to go to the gym at least three to five times a week and to work out at the same time everyday. That’s just me. But my work hours are staggered, so going to the gym consistently was not an option. That was excuse #1. Next, gym memberships are expensive, so if I’m not going to work out regularly, then it’s not worth it; excuse #2. I don’t live close to any gyms that I want to go to. When I first got back to Calgary, I was living in the NE, and even after moving closer to Downtown, I still didn’t want to drive anywhere that would take more than 15 minutes. Excuse #3. You guys get the point.

There was always some excuse not to go to the gym, but looking back, I could have never sustained a consistent gym lifestyle. It just wasn’t for me. I like working out, but it feels more like something I “should” do versus something I actually WANT to do.

Last summer, we moved to a lovely location, nested in a beautiful part of Inglewood. We bought a little cruiser bike for me, and thus began my love affair with biking to work every day. Then I started doing yoga at work once a week, but that ended in the fall. I also stopped biking because of the snow. As a result, I was physically inactive again and stress eating while completing my course in October. Plus, turkey dinners and many glasses of wine (SO MUCH SUGAR). By the end of December, I had gained 5 lb. It doesn’t sound like much, but it is for my size.

Come January, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and just pay the money for some sort of membership. I chose yoga. Admittedly, I had my biases about yoga. There are some things about it that initially seemed cheesy to me, but I figured I’d try the classes for the exercise. After my first couple of classes, I was already beginning to see improvement in my posture, flexibility, and breathing. I set out a strict schedule of going at least twice a week (gotta make it worth the money), and slowly started to incorporate more classes into my week. Two months later, I really started to notice the change in my body, especially the definition in my core and the increased strength in my arms and legs.

Why does yoga work for me and not the gym? The location is great. It’s roughly 10 to 15 minutes from my place, and parking is abundant. I like the class format where there’s a teacher/instructor and other fellow yogis. I don’t feel the need to go at the same time each session unlike with the gym (don’t ask me the logic behind it). The membership is expensive, but I get a lot of value from it.

Most of all, I like yoga because of how it connects the body, mind, and spirit. As a counsellor/therapist, I incorporate a lot of the same practices in my work with clients: grounding exercises, breathing techniques, positive thinking, feeling your emotions, letting go, knowing your limits, gratitude, balance, strength, and self-love. These are all things I practice in my own life and in my clinical work, so practicing it in a yoga studio was a natural fit.

I love yoga. Maybe not to the degree where I live and breath it (literally), but I love what it’s done for me. I hope to continue practicing, as long as my schedule will allow, but I know I just have to make time for it and stop making excuses. Soon, I’ll be biking again, and one day, I really hope to take up running. I also really like playing volleyball, which we did once back in January.

It’s taken me almost eight years to get to this point, but what I’ve learned about physical activity is that you have to find something that works for YOU. The gym isn’t for everyone. Yoga isn’t for everyone. I’ve asked Jon to go with me, but he’s just not interested. He prefers to go to the gym, and he also completed P90X last year. If you’re going to be successful, you have to figure out what works with your interest, your schedule, your lifestyle, your budget, and your goals.

Next post will be on food and diet.

C.

Sometimes the road gets tough

Since I’m working three evenings a week, I’m having to readjust my mornings. For the past couple of days, I woke up, made coffee, and spent the first two to three hours doing schoolwork. Then I cooked, packed my lunch (which I like to prepare fresh the same day instead of the night before), showered, and then did all of my beauty stuff (i.e. skincare, makeup, hair, etc.) before heading to work.

As of result of this new/temporary work schedule, dinner is a team effort. For example, I’ll marinate the chicken in the morning and when Jon gets home, he’ll cook the chicken and make rice. Plus, he’ll run errands like picking up the dry cleaning or coffee beans at P&S on his way to the gym. He’s the best. Last night, though, I came home from work, did another hour of studying and stayed up late to cook bún gà.

We finally bought a humidifier. For some reason, winter felt especially dry this year, and my nose was experiencing all sorts of problems. Not to mention, Jon’s wanted one ever since he moved to Calgary, but I kept saying how it wouldn’t look good with anything. I’m terrible, I know. The humidifier totally sticks out like a sore thumb in the studio space, but we’re noticing a difference, so it’s a keeper despite the decor clash.

So I’m totally addicted to Lana Del Rey’s album, “Born to Die.” Contrary to what I said about “Young & Beautiful,” I think Rey is a lyrical genius, and her vocal style is crazy alluring. Favourite songs include:

Born to Die
Blue Jeans
Diet Mountain Dew
Dark Paradise
Summertime Sadness
This is What Makes Us Girls

Anyways, there’s been a couple of mini crises this past week, but unlike before, I’m trying not to crumble under all the stress. I’ve learned that when life knocks you down, you get right back up and stand a little taller every time.

C.