My LASIK Surgery

11/19/13 – Pre-Op

I began contending with the idea of LASIK surgery a year ago and 3 days from today, I will be able to see clearly all on my own. I just wanted to log this in case anyone is sick of glasses/contacts and are considering going this route. LASIK fall under cosmetic surgery so insurance will not cover the procedure. However, you can buy up to $2500 or however much is allowed of flexible savings which saves you about 33% on taxes. My surgery, including a portion of discount, comes down to $4,850. I don’t think this is too steep a price to pay for perfect eyesight but this could be a setback for many people so I’m just putting it out there.

What first attracted my attention was a deal on Lifebooker for 2for1 LASIK at Diamond Vision. I’ve heard this name before and thought I go in for a consultation. I was recommended PRK instead of LASIK because it’s safer. Here’s the difference between PRK and LASIK.

PRK is done by rubbing a layer of your cornea away with a chemical ingredient and then performing the laser correction on the portion of the cornea that will never grow back. This portion of your cornea will grow back in a few weeks, during which time you will feel uncomfortable and vision will be blurry. You’ll also experience changes in your vision for the next 6 months to a year. It’s a long process but you don’t lose corneal thickness and the correction is done closer to the top of your cornea.

LASIK is done by cutting the top layer of your cornea and leaving a portion connected, mimicking a flap. The doctor then open the flap to allow the laser access to the portion of the cornea that will receive the correction. After the laser finishes, the flap is closed. After a day, the flap will seal itself and no further changes to the vision will occur. You’ll be seeing 20/20 the next day and a week’s recovery is recommended.

I was all set on doing PRK until my eye doctor recommended TLC Laser Center. After an initial consultation, I was sold. They said I was an ideal candidate for LASIK, but I’ll need to wait a year in order for them to monitor my vision to ensure that it will no longer change. They also guarantee lifetime correction if I do need it. Everything is done via lasers, no blades are involved. Everything just screamed better care, better technology and better service.

After 3 separate free eye examinations over the course of a year, I was deemed ready for surgery this Friday. Today’s pre-op exam was long but very thorough. My eyes were dilated to confirm my prescription level, consistent between machine and manual. I won’t be able to update on Friday, but I’ll definitely enter another post as soon as I’m able to see. I really can’t wait!

12/2/13 – Post-Op

The operation was a huge success. It has been a little over a week now and my eyes are completely back to normal/not blind as a bat anymore! I can’t emphasize how worthwhile it was. No more glasses or contacts. I can see from the moment I open my eyes to the moment I close them. Everything looks more colorful and picturesque. I love it.

The day of the operation went like this. I get to the clinic around 10 AM though my appointment was at 9:30 AM. It was raining that day and I had been working up until 30 minutes before the surgery. Even though I was late, TLC was so accommodating and the paperwork began almost immediately. I also lucked out since it was a slow day due to the rain. After signing away my life, I was ready for surgery. 🙂

I took 2 Valiums. I felt happy with heavy limbs. With only a couple hours of sleep the night before, I just wanted to get the surgery over with and sleep. Luckily I was in and out of the surgery room in 5 minutes. First I’m taken to a dark room to receive the anesthetic drops. They also covered me up with a blanket so I was comfy as can be. The surgery room had 2 giant machines and 1 lounge chair. I lie down on the chair and put my eyes in the hand of Dr. Speaker.

The surgery begins with a clamp that holds my eyes open. Luckily my eyes are wide so it wasn’t uncomfortable. The doctor began with the right eye. A suction cup is place on my eyeball and I go under the first machine. After a few seconds, the laser trimming of the top corneal layer is complete. The doctor then flips over the flap. At this point, I am staring at a giant spot of light which takes up most of my field of vision. The light became even blurrier but since I can’t blink, my automatic reflex to clear my vision by blinking is stopped.

Next, I am told I will hear clicking sounds and smell a burning odor. The clicking began and I knew the laser has begun its work to remove bits of my cornea. I felt extremely calm and even intrigued by the light, which made it a lot it easier to stare straight at it. After about 45 seconds, I hear the doctor say, “That went perfectly. You can give lessons to my other patients.” He places a few drops of steroid and antibiotics in my eye and closed the flap. He used a tiny sponge to smooth out the flap and placed a few more drops of medicine. He then removed the clamp and covers my right eye with a square gauze.

“Let’s move on to the left eye now.”

The same procedure took place and the surgery was over as quickly as it began. The doctor puts plastic eye shields around my eyes and secures them with tape. The shields are clear with holes.

Upon completion of my left eye, I was moved to to the waiting area and again covered in a blanket. I’m not sure how long I dozed, but next thing I hear is my mom. It was already 12 PM or so. I must have passed out for over an hour, oh, how blissful my sleep was. My mom leads me downstairs and we grab a cab home-bound.

Eyes drops every hour for the first day plus restful sleep. I was seeing 20/20 the following day during my post-op checkup. A few days later, another checkup and I was told my flaps were healing perfectly. Today, I can resume my normal activities and I really do need to. The holidays plus no exercise equal insulation overload.

Cranberries

Fresh fruit prices are on the rise as we enter the wintry season, so now is the time to purchase those bags of fruits in the frozen aisle. Berries preserve especially well and you have the added bonus of no added sugar unlike canned fruits. Freezing fruits allow farmers to ensure excess produce won’t go to waste.

I went to the grocery store and picked up 4 bags of 12oz frozen mixed berries (strawberry, blackberry, blueberry and raspberry) for$2.99. I also picked up a 16oz bag of frozen cranberries for $5.99. I have begun to incorporate them into my daily breakfast smoothie and enjoying the extra tartness that comes from cranberries. You can of course also buy bags of fresh cranberries and wash/freeze them as well.

Cranberries offer same amount of antioxidants as blueberries at half the calories and an extra gram of fiber per cup. All in all, don’t overlook the cranberries the next time you’re looking for fruits to munch on as a snack!

cran blue

Miss New York Chinese 2013 – Part 8

How great I perceive myself to be affects how I feel.

I’m curious as to how many people does this statement affect and to what extend. As for me, I would say it’s definitely true and the two are highly correlated in my case.

That’s so vain! Appearance isn’t everything you know?

Very true, but people have different reasons why they would be affected. It’s especially true when you’re the type of person that are in tuned with the feelings on others around you. I find myself to belong in that category. For example, I can naturally pick up a person’s emotions and thoughts just by being around them and engaging in a short conversation. I can’t help it and nor can I turn it off. I also  have a tendency to take things very personally. I hate it when people say to be, “Don’t take it personally.”

How can I when I remember everything that’s said about me for days at a time? Say it but don’t tell me not to take it personally because it is personally.

But, I also think this fact works to my advantage. I actually feel exceptionally happy when I know I look great so I don’t mind going the extra mile to make it happen. Anyway, I digress.

Take 2

2.張凝 Nina ZhangThroughout the whole process of prepping for China and the events leading up to the final competition, I was most disturbed at how often instructions and events are announced last minute. I can understand how accommodating they expect students to be since they’re all on summer vacation, but as a full time worker, I didn’t have that luxury. I wish they made this shoot more painless, but fortunately it wasn’t overly complicated. After getting hair and makeup done, I had my head shot retaken. I must admit it looks a lot better than the first one though I was annoyed at having to redo it.

And I must admit, this round of head shots for all the contestants were very well done compared to semi-finals. With the exception of some, we all look true to reality. It was also around this point in the competition that the pageant committee informed everyone to go and purchase circle lenses that enlarge and change the color of your irises. Most of us in the pictures on our official site are wearing them. I think it makes a huge difference in giving that extra spark of cuteness and friendliness too much whiteness of your eyes give off.

Many people (strangers and friends) have asked me or commented on my eyes because they do look extraordinarily big. So, if you’re interested, I’ll spend a moment here to talk about where to buy them and how best to care for them. There is this one shop in the Flushing New World Mall that sells the, but if you ask me, they are a huge ripoff. If you can wait a month, it’s better to order them online. This is the site I’ve used for the past several years. http://www.ebeautyna.com/ 

My favorite brand is Pop.c. 15.5cm in diameter or Poppy 16cm. If you’re going to wear them, why not go for the extra large. Otherwise, what’s the point? These lenses are at least $10 cheaper than in stores. Some tips for maintenance and sanitary health, use this brand of contact solution: Clean Care. I’ve worn contacts for the better part of 10 years now and circles lenses for half of that. I’ve never had eye issues so I don’t agree with the warnings some people give about circle lenses. However, I will be getting LASIK in a week and after that, I’ll definitely wear contacts much less often – probably only when there’s a special occasion that I want to dress up for. I’ve ordered 2 -0.00 (Plano) pairs to use in the future.

Self-Promo Video

This video was definitely one of the coolest products from the pageant. My very own video! Before I talk about, just have a view – it’s only about 50 seconds.

The shoot started as any other with hair and makeup. That day, we were told to bring two outfits, both casual. But since I learned to take their instructions with a grain of salt, I brought more than that just in case. A good thing I did too. What they failed to mention was exactly what we were suppose to do that day until I went in.

When I got to the hotel lobby where they were shooting the video, I saw an area set up with lights, reflector panels, cameras, microphones and a chair. That’s when I realized what it was for. I pretty much went in without any prep. I had to quickly come up with and memorize a short self-intro. Not hard, but I definitely wish I could have done more prep in the mirror. Still I must say the camera crew, Kim and Tanya, are extremely good at their job.

There were three parts to this video shoot.

Part I (Interview) This was pretty much what we did inside the hotel lobby where we sat in a chair and did a quick 1 minute self-intro. They overlaid the audio on top of the other two scenes. So, if your intro was short, the talking started later in the video or ended early. Mine turned out was exactly the right length.

Part II (Garden) – I am wearing a pinstripe top and orange skirt in this scene and it takes place outside in the garden of the hotel. This is the scene was a bit awkward for all of us at first. Act natural and smile. Try not to look at the camera. Do something but don’t move too much. Pictures are easy because you just pose and the photographer snaps individual stills. But in this case, the camera is filming the whole time and you have to make sure you maintain the right angles and smile and pose the entire time. Somehow I pulled it off although I look somewhat like a ditz playing with my earrings and my hair. -.-

Part III (Street) – I am wearing my favorite summer maxi dress. I love the color and texture of the material – fuschia colored silk. I had to get about 3 inches cut from the bottom and wear a 5-inch heel in order to pull it off, but it’s great at elongating my figure. If I’ve always wished I had longer legs, so this gives the illusion of that. If you don’t recognize this portion of Main Street in Flushing, that’s where it was taken. Our task was walk up and down the street and smile. Much easier said than done walking on 5-inch heels and over uneven road with danger around every crack in the cement. And you can’t look down!

The entire shoot, consisting of 14 people, took an entire day. There goes my Sunday, though I can’t imagine having a most productive day. 🙂

You can also view videos of the other 13 contestants here by clicking on each individual. Our self-bio’s are also posted along with the videos. They’re all equally good!

[to be continued…]

Sleep Early, Wake Early

A wise lady once said, “Sleep is the best skin care regime.” That lady would be my mom. I remember growing up, I would constantly be awakened by her loud talking or her vacuuming the house 7 or 8 in the morning. Having gone to sleep no more than a few hours ago, I would moan and pull a pillow over my head to continue my sleep. That habit never changed. Even in college, I was always a late sleeper, 1 AM was the normal.

Yet, recently, I have been unable to sleep past 9 and staying up past 12 feels like torture. It might have something to do with the sunlight peaking in through my curtain-less window around 6 in the morning or with the fact that work starts a lot earlier. Take yesterday for example,

7:30 AM - Wake up
8:00 AM - Breakfast
8:30 AM - Put laundry into washers
9:00 AM - Finish vacuuming and cleaning my room
9:05 AM - Put laundry into dryer
10:10 AM - Remove and fold laundry
11:00 AM - Leave for Hot Yoga
12:30 PM - Head to lunch after a sweating session at yoga

There you have it, in the time I would have spent in bed normally, I was able to get all my chores out of the way. For the rest of the day, I was able to enjoy the unusual warm weather. By 11:30 PM, I was in bed and sound asleep.

But I can’t fall asleep before 1 no matter how I try.

I want to go out on weekends and hang out with my friends, so it’s impossible to wake up that early.

I definitely don’t do this every weekend, but it’s definitely encouraged in order for you to have a healthy life style. Also note, you should always try to eat within half an hour of waking to get kick off your metabolism. If you wait too long or skip on breakfast, your body will assume food is scarce and go into starvation mode and conserve energy. Sleep regulates a myriad of hormones in your body, which controls your entire biology.

  • Immune system – A lack of sleep can cause you to be more prone to diseases like catching a cold, or longer healing time of wounds and longer recovery time after working out.
  • Brain and nervous system – Without proper sleep, you will have shorter attention spans, have difficulty concentrating and focusing, get tired faster, which all influence your mood and stress level. It’s a lot harder to be happy when you feel like work is piling up and you can’t process them faster. The longer you spend working on a single job, the shorter your breaks are each day, which makes you more grumpy. And the more stressed you are, the less restful you are and harder it is to sleep. This is why stress and sleep come hand-in-hand. Altogether, it’s a bad cycle. Depression and bipolar disorder is also more likely. Think your cravings for alcohol has nothing to do with sleep? Think again.
  • Cardiovascular System – Lack of sleep also harms your heart which makes you more prone to hypertension. We may not feel it today, but one day it will come back and haunt us when we grow old.
  • Metabolic Function – Last but probably the most obvious result is irregularities in your metabolism. When you subject your body to less sleep, you have less energy throughout the day. When this occurs, your body will turn to food that would give you the maximum energy – sweets and fatty foods. Your body will also tell you to eat more often and feel less satisfied than normal when you do. This would cause you to overeat and destroy any weight loss plan.
  • Cell Repair and Aging – Sleep is directly correlated to aging. I’m sure everyone has experienced eye bags and dull skin tone after an all-nighter. The less sleep you have, the more stress you’re putting on your cells and the less time they’ll have to repair itself. Collagen production naturally occurs in your body, but is greatly disrupted during time of sleeplessness. You’re also loosing moisture in your skin. You end up with more leathery texture skin rather than a healthy stretchy translucent color of youth.

All in all, don’t sacrifice your body for the extra hours you think you need at night and sleep at a reasonable time. Studies show, most of the cell repairs occur between 11 AM and 4 AM. Give yourself the luxury of sleep early and waking early. Get 7.5 hours if you can, but if you can’t, it’s more important that you sleep early. Especially in the winter months where seasonal depression is common due to lack of sunlight you come into contact every day. You can take full advantage of the sun starting from 6:30 AM.

Try it for a week and you’ll notice a huge difference in your skin color and texture as well as energy. You can find good tips to help you get more restful sleep, but the most important tip is having a routine. Your biological clock will help you with it so don’t fight it. Get up as soon as you wake and sleep as soon as you’re tired.

Happy sleeping!

Incorporate Strength Building into Your Cardio Routine

But everyone says you need to do cardio to lose weight!

Yes, that’s true, but I’m specifically talking about yielding results that makes you LOOK better. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried them all. I’ve done classes like TRX, Zumba, and whole-body workout and I’ve sweated like crazy at every single one of them. I’ve ran 20 miles a week and was able to run longer and longer without getting tired. All those exercises are great! They’re great because you’re definitely burning calories and enhancing your cardiovascular health. The downside is, you tend to maintain your natural body type/shape and it won’t help you get to your ideal body image. I’ve seen runners who can run longer and faster than me, but are much heavier-set than I am. If you want to look tighter or slimmer, it won’t happen unless you do strength training.

What? You mean lift weights and bench press? That’s only for guys. I don’t want to have bulging muscles.

That’s what I used to think. What changed my mind was trial and research. First of, right assured that it is VERY difficult to build up huge amounts of muscle mass and a lot of time dedicated to accomplishing it. True, it’s a lot easier for men to build muscles because they have 20%-30% more testosterone production than we do. Even then, they truly have to work at it. I’m talking about the same amount of time us ladies spend on cardio, they focus on lifting heavy weights and building up those vanity muscle groups – arms and pecs. Secondly, I would never focus on purely arms or pecs (ever). I always work the whole body focusing on my vanity muscle groups, which are abs, legs and butt.

The truth is, I have developed muscles in places I’ve never imaged wanting, but I’m so glad I do. I feel so much stronger. This morning, some giant guy rammed into my shoulder as we walked by each other. I was surprised, but I’m pretty sure he was equally surprised some 100 pound Asian girl returned the favor with equal force. For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. 🙂

My arms are a lot stronger now – I used to complain how weak they were and how floppy they looked in pictures. Now I actually have distinct triceps and biceps. I have less backaches now that my back is a lot strong. Feeling the muscles throughout my body makes me feel strong and invincible.

These muscles also come with added benefits:

“Weight training is an excellent way of combating several symptoms we all face as we get a little older. After the age of thirty there is a loss of 3-5% of muscle mass per decade, making day to day tasks gradually harder to perform, slowing down the metabolism and increasing the risk of fat gain. Resistance exercise can reduce bone deterioration and build bone mass, preventing osteoporosis. It has been proven to have a positive affect on insulin resistance, resting metabolism, blood pressure, body fat and gastrointestinal transit time, factors that are linked to illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer

Remember, the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism. So this means you are burning more calories even while sleeping, as your body needs to use more calories to fuel your muscles, which helps you to burn more fat!” –  Why women need to build muscle.

Want to look slimmer and eat more, cut down on cardio and dedicate more time to weight training. Start small and build up your strength. Stayed tuned for some workout tips!

Don’t Let the Cold Slow You Down

Coming into my first consciousness, I heard rain drops and began to dread the day ahead. At 6:30AM, I got up and witnessed the first snow of the season. It’s snowing in NY people! Yes, it’s winter and yes, your body naturally prepares you for the cold months ahead by urging you to seek out those sweet and fatty food. You’re getting hungrier more often and you just want to chow down. Don’t listen! You might have excuses like,

I can let myself go because it’s the holiday season and I’m allowed to eat whatever I want. 

It doesn’t matter if I gain a few pounds since all my clothing will cover it up.

Why fight it? My metabolism is already slowed down due to the cold, I should just skip working out altogether. 

I need the fat for insulation.

I’m hungry and I just want to eat.

Trust me, you will definitely regret it by spring of next year. That’s exactly what happens to me every winter. But this year I’m determined to fight my urges and work out even MORE. It’s okay to have some fat for insulation because guess what? You can have fat and lose weight. You just need the right sort of fat. WHAT????

This research conducted by Mitchell A. Lazar, MD, PhD, director of the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania uncovered the existence of two types of fat – brown and white. What’s the difference? Apparently, a LOT.  Brown fat cells, as opposed to white fat cells, make heat for the body and are thought to have evolved to help mammals cope with the cold.

Studies conducted with mice showed that through exercise, their muscle cells release a newly discovered hormone that the researchers named irisin. Irisin, in turn, converts white fat cells into brown ones. It was also discovered that lean people tend to have more brown fat than overweight or obese people. Brown fat is now thought to be more like muscle than like white fat. When activated, brown fat burns white fat. Just 2 ounces, if maximally stimulated, could burn off 300 to 500 calories a day — enough to lose up to a pound in a week. Another reason to stay lean and exercise!

Here are some other ways I stay warm:

  • Hot yoga
  • Eat spicy
  • Eat soups and drink hot tea
  • Sauna
  • Blast the heat at home

Miss New York Chinese 2013 – Part 7

Photo Shoot

Each year, we get a few weeks at the beginning of summer that are just perfect days. A cool breeze leveling the warmth of the sun and gently blowing the heat away. This shoot took place on one of those days. Everything was going perfectly, things just moved at a slower pace and I needed feel the need to rush.

IMG_8792_副本 I took the train to Flushing that day and again returned to Imperial Wedding for hair and makeup. We were told to bring a few outfits that day for a studio shoot. The first outfit of the day was again the pink take top uniform. I know I’m suppose to feel like a super model with the fan blowing in my face, but to be honest, it was really drying out my contacts. I later found out this photo was to be our head shot for advertising the finals and none of us looked very good in it. Hehe but I do since I’m so photogenic! Or so I thought, but that was not the face full frontal. Luckily we had another shoot to replace this shot.

Next, we changed into our own outfits for a full-body shot. I really liked these and it was later used in China on the various shows.

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Okay, so yes, I’m being vain and loving these pictures of myself, but which girl isn’t? When you’ve worked as hard as I have and wished for it for as long as I have, you would want to show it off too. All that dieting and money spent, I better get these treatments as a minimum. Plus, even if you’re not in a pageant, it’s crucial to allow yourself to show off what you’ve worked so hard on. It’s a great feeling hearing others tell you that you are looking skinnier and hotter. And it’s true just what losing a few pound of fat will do to make you look tighter.

I always struggled with my arms looking pudgy and having that floppy feeling when you bend your elbows and flap like a chicken. Well, maybe you don’t , but I do silly things sometimes and hate it. You can notice it in these pictures because one, I haven’t lost it yet and two, these pictures are in no way photo-shopped.

My next set of photos were of us in wedding dresses. I don’t know why, but hey, when does a girl get to wear a wedding dress unless it’s at her wedding, hopefully once in her life. And no, I’ve never been married so this is my first time wearing one. It was fun and I loved that fishtail snow-white wedding gown. Definitely something I would want to wear for my own wedding but probably better designed and more fitted. I had so many pins on me that day I could barely move without dislodging one and poking myself with it.

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I also really liked what they did with my hair. I had about 20 bobby pins that night when I took it down. I wish someone would do my hair like that everyday…

First comes the bride and then comes the bridesmaid? These dresses were literally what I believe to be bridesmaid dresses. We all changed into one of two colors/styles and gathered at the Sheraton garden patio for a group shoot. I had a blast shooting these, each of us trying to outdo the other.

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That day was definitely one of the best I’ve had during the month of June.

[to be continued…]

Miss New York Chinese 2013 – Part 6

The hard work had officially begun. We were scheduled for a 2 week tour of China from 7/1 – 7/15. So the month of June was full of preparations not to mention all the activities I had to attend, some one which you’ve already ready about. I had to sacrifice many nights and weekends for training and so forth. I spent no less than $1,000 on clothes, shoes, cosmetics, and not to mention weight loss supplements – expensive but worth every penny for the experience.

I caught wind of the brand NUTRILITE at a dance rehearsal where we were learning a Latin number at a studio in Flushing. A nutritionist came in and spoke about being smart when it comes to losing weight. She spoke to my own experiences in the past where it was much easier to lose the weight in high school than later on, especially this year in particular. Obviously your metabolism slows as you age and that’s one factor. But the other factor is around % body fat. I’ve written about it earlier, but it’s so true. We all know muscle cells burn way more calories than fat cells, but this concept is important because it’s a better metric of health than BMI.

From them on, I stopped obsessing with weight and began to build up my muscle mass. It helped that I had hired a personal trainer and I had trained. I also kept a log of all the workouts we did at each session to help me map my future workouts on my own. Crunch gym is very well equipped with machines and weights, but also add to the price. At $75 a month (student discount and 1 gym membership), it is not cheap. On the bright side it motivates you to go everyday because you don’t want to waste the $2 a day, but then again, it’s only $2 a day. I worked with a lot of equipment, but it’s not mandatory. On my last session with my trainer, he taught me 5 workout moves when repeated, would do the trick.

After daily rehearsals began in June, unfortunately I had little time to go to the gym, but I was too tired at the end of the day to even think about lifting, let along have the time. Immediately after work everyday, I would take the train to Flushing. The commute to and from Flushing added up to 2 hours a day. Then I was at rehearsal for 4 hours, most of the time skipping dinner and drinking a protein shake instead. I also began a strict weight loss regime.

I attended dance classes and learned Samba and Belly Dance. These days were my favorite. I love dancing in general, but I’m not great by any means. Keeping to the beat and mimicking the movements came naturally to me. Without years of training though, I’m like a monkey trying to copy the moves of a human. I’m clumsy but I try. This dance would be the dance we would use often during our two weeks in China.

Another favorite class of mine was singing. I’ve been told by my own mother that I suck at singing. I have been called tone deaf at some point. I’ve also been told that I tend to “screech” when I try too hard to hit the high notes. However, I still love to sing and in my head, Marie would insist that, I sound amazing. I have no idea what they are talking about. So we learned the song You Lift Me Up. It’s a really good song, but we don’t exactly have many great singers among us. At this point, we recognized who the strongest singer in our group was and she actually went on and won 3rd place – she’s amazing though. I learned my range tend to be on the lower end and I would often revert to falsetto to hit the higher pitches. I try to avoid it as often as possible these days and my singing has improved tremendously.

The most tedious class had to be catwalk but some girls really needed these sessions. 5 inch nude heels from Aldo was demanded for the trip to China, but they were extremely uncomfortable. Any shoe from Aldo in my opinion is uncomfortable, so I opted for a pair of nude pumps from Steve Madden. Madden shoes get more comfortable the longer you walk in them and its quality of leather is guaranteed. I, too, had trouble walking in them in the beginning.

Please don’t trip and break an ankle. Look forward, tuck in your tailbone, remember ballet training. Look at a point, okay walk. Don’t be scared, you’re okay. My inner cat is of course intimidated, but to mention Marie is also losing her balance and not liking it at all. This is so stupid, why do we have to walk in these shoes? I look like an idiot and I don’t like it one bit. These shoes are mad heavy! They’re not pretty either. So what if I look 5’9 now? 

I like to internally complain and all smiles on the outside.

At least I got to shop for some new clothes. I bought 2 evening gowns (which I had yet had the chance to wear) and a blue cocktail dress. A new pair of shoes, new underwear and I was ready to go. Unfortunately for some girls, they had to buy all 10 dresses. Yes, I said it. 10 dresses were demanded of us to prepare. It was written in a 2-page addendum. No harm in sharing it now.

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We had less than a month to make these preparations, but no one complained, too much. We were all excited to go and counting down the days!

[to be continued…]

Miss New York Chinese 2013 – Part 5

Summer of 2013 was truly a time to remember for the rest of my life. It was the first time I stopped doing what was easy and instead put in the extra time and effort into accomplishing a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The pageant became my life outside of work. I was dedicated and motivated. I was enjoying myself and proud of everything I was accomplishing. One of which was weight management. Having worked out everyday, I still wasn’t seeing quick results,  but this time around, I had more help. Find out more about it here.

Moving on, my all-time favorite activities pre-China would have to be the two photo shoots – a city tour plus a studio/outdoor shoot. I got to collect a lot of great pictures, as you’ll see. Another interesting discovery was how noticeable a few extra pounds of fat look in picture. Though my weight didn’t shift, my % body fat dropped shockingly fast since going on my weight loss regime. I made a note of it here. I pulled the following information from a post I wrote back in July.

My % body fat was:

  • 29% in February
  • 27.5% in April
  • 23%  in June

Or you can just see for yourselves from these pictures taken in the beginning of June.

City Tour

I tend to sleep in weekend mornings, but during the next 2 months, my designated waking hour ranges between 6AM to 8AM, but never into noon. This Saturday was no different, though I didn’t mind. I can’t sleep anyway from all the excitement. Makeup and hair began early but as always, I had to wait in line. My breakfast is of course a protein shake while a few girls ate juicy meat buns and cake – you know, one of those lucky girls who can eat whatever they want and never gain a pound.

“Stance”

By the time all 14 of us were done, it was 1PM – where did the morning go??? After some more waiting around (yes, we do a lot of that, talking about a waste of time), we finally begin the photo shoot at Imperial Studio where we had our makeover done earlier. We’re in our uniforms to begin with – the exact same one from semi-final: pink tank top and white tennis skirt. I talked briefly about the proper stance and this particular set of photos just show how bad I was at it in the beginning and how little I cared about being in stance later on when I’m exhausted. I also look very awkward a lot of times and did so for a while. It’s true. I really did need more practice in front of a mirror to get it right. That pose is NOT natural at all. Here’s one of my better, more natural looking ones.

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Mannequin “MV”

The day of the shoot was sunny and hot. Summer was just beginning and I was loving every minute, except maybe when I had to wear a bodysuit, aka, qi pao that draped all the way down to my feet with slits going all the way up to my bottom cheeks. We also had to do a “MV” where we pretended to be mannequins that came alive. I have yet to see that video – I wonder if we sucked so much that they were too embarrassed for our sake to show it. Anyway, this was taken during the part where we were “wandering around aimlessly” having just turned into humans. Interesting concept, but none of us are very good at acting so I doubt it looked any convincing as the director had hoped.

Being in that AC’ed studio was fine, until we had to step out into the streets and sit on top of a tour bus to wave at people on the streets of Flushing.  Some were nice and waved back, but mostly we were ignored or gawked at. I think my reaction would be to either feign ignorance or sneer condescendingly. Thankfully, there are much less skeptical people than me out there. The top of the bus was NOT fun. I felt like I was suffocating like a potato in a white wool bag. Luckily we got to sick on the inside as well, which was pretty fun with a bit of singing and cheering.

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Party on the Bus

Our first destination was across the river from Manhattan where we got out to take pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge. So cliche! Yes, people stared at me as I walked in line with my fellow finalists in long sequinned qi pao. People also took pictures, I wonder where they’ve posted them. If you’ve seen similar pictures elsewhere, post them in the comment box below. I’m really interested in seeing what people thought of us.

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Brooklyn Bridge

After driving across the bridge, we ended up in Chinatown. Of course, how fitting to take pictures in qi pao in Chinatown. At some point during the shoot, I head my name being called out.

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“Nina!”

Muahaha, of course someone recognizes me. I feel like a celebrity. This moment of fame feels glorious. Yes, it’s me. Sure, I can give you my autograph. Glowing and smiling from ear to eat, my inner Marie can no longer contain herself.  

An Alley in Chinatown
An Alley in Chinatown

Then I spot my roommate and my bubble gets busted. No matter, I still feel pretty awesome. As my roommate points at me, she turns around to tell her 2 friends about me. It was still a pretty good feeling. In hindsight, I’m sure I didn’t look nearly as good as I imagined myself to be in my head. Here’s a photo to prove it.

Luckily it was time to change outfits. We stop shortly to change and eat a sandwich. I was starving! What I don’t like is the fact we get fed unhealthy food. If the pageant is telling us we need to lose weight, why were they providing food that was high in fat and low in nutrition. The sandwich consist of white bread, egg, ham, mayo and a few specs of lettuce, basically everything I was avoiding. An apple would have been a better alternative. What was worse is the fact that this was our only source of food, who can say no when our stomach is growling and there’s nothing else to eat? Absolutely inexcusable trade-off and because it’s cheap and fast to obtain. Granted they had no obligation to feed us, but still…

Anyway, the afternoon’s outfit was much more comfortable and much less stuffy. Another cliche destination was South Street Seaport. At least it was cool by the river. More “MV” time – we strutted down the walkway like it was a runway. It was pretty cool I guess. Again, yet to see that music video…

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South Street Seaport
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Runway or Army?
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STH ST SEAPRT

Can you guess the next place? We’re traveling north. Yea, I was pretty exhausted at the point and on top of that, I was standing on vents. Unfortunately I didn’t feel like being a “professional” and making it look like I was effortlessly floating on air.

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Time Square

Last destination is? Central Park! Truth be told, this was pretty awesome. I’ve never ridden a buggy in NYC before so this was pretty fun for me, even though it lasted about 2 minutes. Talk about cheap, but I’m grateful.

Central Park - Horse Pulled Buggy
Central Park – Horse Pulled Buggy

By the way, I don’t know the name of this statue or why it’s famous. This picture is so un-pageant like, but it’s so me. I love fast cameras that can capture action shots like this one. I had to pretty much repeat it 3 times in 4 inch heels in front of a 3 feet drop. No, I wasn’t scared.

Yeehaw!
Yeehaw!

My long day finally ended on a high note. I was happy…

[to be continued…]

Avoid These Disguised “Junk” Foods

Back in the beginning of June, 2013, I had began a diet that consisted mostly of protein shakes in order to get in better shape for my  beauty pageant. I had it for breakfast, dinner and pre-bedtime beverage. I frequented my dietitian, who taught me about nutrition 101. I explained my situation to her and she shared her knowledge with me.

She had recommended NUTRILITE to me. And because it truly worked for me the first time, I am writing about it today. After going on her regime I stopped craving food and stopped thinking about food 24/7. It helped that I had a higher purpose (pageant), but food just lost its hold on me. I trusted the brand because the ingredients are all natural. You can actually read the label and find the ingredients at a local produce store. In addition, all products are organic, more than I can say about the food I eat day to day. I actually noticed a huge difference because my stomach was flat again, even at night. I never felt bloated. I was getting closer and closer to my goal without starving myself. I felt energized and satisfied.

The way it was explained to me is that your body is a powerhouse that get all its resources from food. If you provide it with the right building blocks – vitamins, minerals, protein – then it will function efficiently and only tell you to eat what is needed to maintain a equilibrium in the body. When you don’t give it the right building blocks and only empty calories – white carbohydrates, animal fat, and red meat – it sends distress signals, which our body wrongfully interpret as “eat more” rather than “eat more nutrient-rich food”.

It’s as if you are suffocating in a room full of carbon dioxide and you gasp for air, except you’re still depriving yourself of oxygen. What you need is to move to another room that has oxygen. In other words, your body craves food that are high-calorie and nutrient-deficient because it thinks it’s hungry. But the more you eat empty “junk” foods, the more you’ll hunger and crave them. You need to stop this cycle!

How I stopped was with the help of my supplements and picking the right foods to consume in the right portions. Some food I avoided besides the obvious junk foods (burgers, fries, pizza, etc.) were:

Processed Food – These tend to be foods you find in a box or bag that can be stored for a long time. I can’t say all processed foods are bad, but it’s difficult to differentiate the good from the overwhelming number of bad ones, so why risk it. They also have preservatives, which is never good for you or natural. No, popcorn is not processed, so feel free to eat those, but choose the ones without any seasoning (butter) and add your own! Use powdered spices as they provide the flavor and not the calories. Just be smart about which food has been processed – grounded up and put back together with added ingredients to make it taste better or look different from their natural state.

Food Bars – Though it doesn’t exactly fit the bill of process foods, nutrition bars should also be avoided because of the added sugar for taste. No to granola bars, Luna bars, Clif bars or oatmeal squares unless you’re an athlete or working out intensively for a long time and need that extra boost of energy. Go for the steel-cut Irish oatmeal or grits with nuts instead. Popped whole grains are also great quick snacks if you’re really hungry. But back to an earlier point I made, you should not be snacking if your body is truly balanced.

Skim Milk
Skim Milk

Milk – This can be counter-intuitive because milk has many benefits such as calcium and protein. On the other hand, milk contains lactose, which just means sugar. Any ingredient you see on the label that ends with -ose is a sugar. It’s best practice to get the same nutrition minus the sugar. A good alternative is almond or soy milk, I tend to blend it in a smoothie in the morning. I also like to add protein powder, which also contain milk extracts and 10% daily calcium per scoop. 

Coffee – Another substance that’s counter-intuitive. The downfall of coffee is that it’s addicting. That alone is pretty scary to me. Why is coffee addicting? Coffee contains large amounts of naturally occurring caffeine. Caffeine antagonizes, or blocks, adenosine receptors. Adenosine is a by-product of cellular activity, and the adenosine receptors play a role in producing feelings of tiredness and the need to sleep. Studies have shown just taking 100mg (1 cup of coffee, 2.5 cups of cola, 4 cups of green tea non-repeating leafs) of caffeine a day can lead to addiction. This avoidance is more for your general health than weight loss, but important to not rely on coffee to give your metabolism a boost. If you’re looking for that boost, go with Slimmitry. In addition to 26mg of caffeine per tablet, you get 80mg of EGCG, 50 mg of yerba mate and other ingredients that’s a better option than coffee. I have never experienced withdraw symptoms and I’ve narrowed my intake of it to 1 tablet a day in the morning as part of my daily dose of health.

Potatoes – Avoid in any form. It has no beneficial substances and get turned into sugar almost immediately. You might as well be eating spoonful of sugar. Opt for sweet potatoes if you are craving the taste. Though sweeter, sweet potatoes are more similar to carrots than as its name indicate. It’s a good source of Vitamin A. Purple sweet potatoes also contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

White Bread, Pasta, Rice – Pretty self-explanatory and you hear it often. Any grain with its shell removed is lacking in any nutritional value. Choose the whole wheat and brown rice instead.

Vinaigrette – Most people would tell you to avoid fatty dressing like ranch or honey mustard, but I’m telling you that you should avoid all vinaigrette because it offers nothing but sugar. Choose lemon juice instead. Go for the balsamic vinegar if you want a stronger taste. A bit of extra virgin olive oil is good for you, but be conscious of how much fat you’re consuming.

Juice – A big must and surely you hear it often. Anything deplete of its fiber will fail to fill you up and keep you hungry despite the calories from fructose, aka sugar. Freshly pressed vegetable juice is okay, but the whole veggie is better. Stick to water, you’ll get use to it and stop craving sweet liquids.

I know this is a lot of don’t-do’s but it’s good to keep them in mind. Your mind will slowly adjust to wanting to eat more organic and natural ingredients. It takes time, but begin to accept it today. It’s okay to still eat them from time to time, but ultimately you want to get to a point where you unconsciously pick the alternative and better option.

Miss New York Chinese 2013 – Part 4

Yes, I’m top 14 and I get to go to China for two weeks. $3,000 is a lot to pay though. But it’s a chance of a lifetime, to be on tour and appear on national television in China! Plus I’ll have a photo shoot in the city? Awesome!

In a blur of a week, I attended 2 fittings, 1 sponsor visit, 2 photo shoots, 1 taping session, and each time I was dolled up by very skilled makeup artists. Good thing I have such nice skin, I really do need to take better care of it. Okay, no makeup during the week, exfoliate, moisturize and use masks. I felt sorry for one girl who got an eye infection that caused her eyelid to swell up like a bee sting.

The fittings and sponsor visit were the only times it took place in Manhattan. I’ll talk about each and try not to complain too much.

Fitting

We each get a tailors cocktail dress courtesy of Cindy Ma. The dress is strapless with a zipper on the side. Our theme color is purple and the dress we received for the final show in a gorgeous qi pao (旗袍)styled evening gown. A block of time was put aside for us to go in the first time. I went during my lunch hours and finished it in less than 10 minutes. I didn’t see many others there, but that was probably an indication on the level of seriousness people placed on the fact.

What transpired was an angry chairman telling us how irresponsible and immature we were for wasting Cindy’s time and not going to the fitting. Turns out, only about half of us went. Fine, you a right to be angry. Just don’t lump everyone into that category. What about the girl that did go to the fitting? Plus, people have other priorities. Marie likes to complain but not without reason.

The second time around, everyone was much better about fitting because it was the last chance to make alterations. I remember mine was way to big for me, which I categorized it as maybe they just measured wrong. I forgot to remember the fact that I probably lost several inches all around after a month of my weight loss regime.

Sponsor Visit

The sponsor visit was a chaotic day for me. I rushed over after work, arriving as early as I could possible afford, and still all the girls had left at the point. My makeup and hair was rushed and my entire being was all wounded up like a spring. I am not happy about this. Why do I have to visit sponsors? I haven’t eaten all day. Marie was pissed, but on the other side was Cat the complete opposite. I feel really bad. Everyone is so nice and forgiving. I feel bad for making everyone work extra for me. It’s like having the angel and the devil on my shoulders, except neither are purely evil or nice.

First stop was Chinatown. We went to several jewelry stores and took pictures with all the employees. Free advertisement! I can’t complain since they sponsor us and I have an obligation. We also visited beauty salons, one of which dangled food in my face and refused to give us time to eat or leave at the very end.

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Hung Seng Jewelry

How dare you offer us cheap Chinese pastries and not let us eat them! You might be our sponsor but you don’t own me!

So hungry. Must keep smiling though. It’s almost over.

Another picture? No, I don’t want to take a picture with you. Fine, I will, it’s not like I can refuse. Okay, fine, just one more. 

1 out of 50 pics taken
Beauty Beauty – 1 out of 50 pics taken
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Beauty Beauty

Finally, we get back in the van and drive away. Food is passed around and gone in a flash.

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Okay, where are we going now? Oh, looks like we’re going to Flushing. Gah, more pictures.

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Love the workers here
Imperial Studio

The two places I didn’t mind going to were Imperial Studio and Fashion Hair Mode. I frequented this studio very often and the makeup artist, Lily, was always nice to me and always do an amazing job with my face. Micheal from Hair Mode is also amazing. I went there with tri-colored hair and walked out with the most perfect color, highlight and cut.

Love the hair dressers!
Fashion Hair Mode – Love the hair dressers!

More pictures, blah, blah. Luckily this was in the summer and the day is long. It must have been 6 by the time we went back to the city for dinner. “Sponsor Dinner” at the Golden Unicorn turned out to be actually quite delicious. What made a lot of girls uncomfortable was the fact that we sat with older Chinese men, who were our sponsors, and had to appear lady-like while eating. The girls were young so they’re not used to it all, but I was perfectly happy eating all the delicious food that was served.

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Golden Unicorn

I can happily talk if needed or I can stay silent and just eat. Either way, finally, food! I’ve been around the block enough to know they pose no real harm. Nothing to make a huge deal out of. I’ll play along though.

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Golden Unicorn

The night ended with a sponsor telling me I owe him a song. Whatever, I’m never going to see you again so sure, no problem. Smile. So full… That fried rice was delicious. The lobster tasted a bit funny, but all-in-all, not a bad way to end a very long day.

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Golden Unicorn

[to be continued…]

Eat More of These Healthy Foods

I’m definitely a person of routine and as of late, this has been my routine for health. I like to start my morning with a bottle of homemade smoothie (recipe).

I then catch up on Emails and read up on my favorite sites for new articles on health. One of my favorite site is Women’s Health Magazine. They have new articles daily so it’s always exciting to add new facts on nutrition to my knowledge base here. What I found out today were beneficial foods for healthy skin. 10 great foods for healthy skin:

  • Almonds – I use almond milk instead of regular milk for my smoothie
  • Carrots – Go for baby carrots because they’re easier to eat, but don’t eat too many as they have higher sugar content
  • Dark Chocolate – Portion control and go for the 90% cacao chocolate bars instead
  • Flaxseeds – I tend to overlook this, but if you have access, by all means!
  • Green Tea – Great replacement for water if you don’t like the blandness of water
  • Safflower Oil – I never go out of my way to buy an ingredient and try to incorporate it, but luckily my CLA supplments consists almost entirely of this oil 
  • Spinach – Do a quick blanch on a bag of spinach and put it aside for the week – egg white spinach omelettes are great break, lunch and dinner items
  • Sweet Potatoes – Easy to prepare: wrap in tin foil and bake in the oven at 400* for 45mins
  • Tomatoes – Go for cherry tomatoes, but same concept as baby carrots, high in sugar
  • Tuna – Canned tuna is just fine, but replace the mayo and use

Incorporating these foods into your diet is not hard, just be conscious of them and find a routine that consist of these health foods.

Shameless plug –> The two foods I’ve highlighted in green are ingredients found in my supplements so if you’re interested in learning more about the supplements, Email me via the link under the Follow Me section on the righthand tab. Also follow me, like me on Facebook/Tumblr/Instagram to get more articles like this one!

My Response to “Miss America’s Amazing Weight-Loss Transformation”

There is just too many similarities for me not to blog about it. I’m sure most of you have heard, the title of Miss America this year was awarded to Miss Nina Davuluri, 24. She has a truly inspiration weight loss story I just wanted to talk about. Here’s the article I came across that inspired me to write this blog, one of many articles I’m sure.

Before I begin, I wanted to make another point, which is pageants of today have changed drastically from a few years ago. We see more and more smart, intelligent and confident young women enter into beauty pageants. Pageants have always had a bad rep because women who enter are thought to be shallow and dumb. This is no longer the case and it’s people like Davuluri and Miss America Runner-Up, Crystal Lee (Miss California) that are changing this concept.

Davuluri graduated from University of Michigan with a B.S. in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science. She then took pre-med requisites in order to complete her requirements for medical school. She first entered the pageant to earn money for college and then again for med school.

Lee on the other hand, graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in Human Biology and a Masters in Communications. Upon graduating, Lee got involved with a startup, called Nanoly, a nanotechnology company working on a way to transport and deliver vaccine without refrigeration. She was introduced to the startup by Miss Oakland 2011, who was the company’s lead researcher.

All these smart cookies deserve the respect of the world and I’m proud to say I was involved in a pageant myself – a side plug for myself. I graduated from Columbia University with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering: Operations Research. I am fluent in Chinese and one smart cookie! Click here to read more about my pageant days. I’m glad I can speak out for all pageants and encourage people to change their perception.

It is no longer enough to look beautiful on the outside. The ultimate level of beauty is to emanate beauty in the very fibers of our being. This is what I truly believe in. I never push for extreme weight loss because it’s not realistic nor is it doing good for your being. Healthy weight loss is empowering yourself with the knowledge to maintain the ideal body for you.

Nina Davuluri lost 55 pounds in the course of 2 years through diet and exercise. When she was too embarrassed to go to the gym because she couldn’t keep up, she started to do workouts on her own at home. Once she became more confident, she joined fitness classes for that extra boost of motivation. She also began to do yoga and hired a personal trainer. She got down to what she weighed in high school, which is speaking a lot!

Nina Davuluri

There are so many great resources out there, but everyone is different. You can be like me who needs variety. I also went through the same process with classes and personal trainer. Now I am into Yoga and strength training on my own. Or you can be like my friend who enjoy the aerobic classes at the gym and goes to that along with Yoga. Either way, it’s about finding that motivation to do the exercise. Studies have also shown, you can actually lose more from diet than exercise. So don’t undermine your good work with that plate of dessert. I will be posting more on how I lost the weight in my pageant series so stay turned!

Words of Encouragement

I just wanted to take a minute today to thank these people for commenting – for some reason it got lumped into spam (and I’m too paranoid to accept them on the site in case they are). I just think they are really nice, even if it is spam. So I just wanted to acknowledge these readers:

1. Does your site have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an email. I’ve got some ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it improve over time.

Yes, please feel free to shoot me an Email via the comment box on my homepage here. Enter your Name and Email address so I know where to send me responses to, though that’s optional. Upon submitting your comment, it will get sent to my inbox. I will write back to you as soon as I can.

2. What’s up it’s me, I am also visiting this web site daily, this web page is actually fastidious and the viewers are genuinely sharing nice thoughts.

Thank you so much for your encouragement. I’m a very fact-oriented person and I enjoy researching in order to find out the truth. I also like to experiment for myself whenever I can.

3. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something informative to read?

I will definitely try to find more time to write and share my findings with everyone! Thank you for the advice.

To all my followers and anyone who chance upon my blog and found it somewhat interesting, thank you for reading! I really appreciate any feedback you have for me. Feel free to post questions that have always puzzled you. I’m more than happy to read up on those topics and give you the best answer possible. I can’t express how much I appreciate these comments I’ve gotten. Please keep them coming!

Miss New York Chinese 2013 – Part 3

The Doll Look
The Doll Look

2 full rehearsals later on stage, we were ready to go to hair and makeup and await the clock to strike 7 that night for the show to commence. Behind the scene is not as glamorous as you imagine it to be. It’s chaotic and loud. Doing the hair and makeup for 24 girls took hours to complete, but thanks to our ever-so-diligent staff, everyone managed to look great in the end. This portion of the show is of course my favorite.

My inner Marie loved every moment of the transformation, and what a transformation it was – I could hardly recognize myself. I was told by other participants that I resembled a doll – not sure if that’s a compliment… My makeup artist managed to double the size of my eyes through fake lashes and eyelid tape. This is also after I had big eyes to begin with. I thought I looked great though – my confidence to win was high. I was ready!

Our uniform was a pink racer-back tank top with a white tennis skirt. That’s what we all walked out in as the show began. We were given numbers based on height, with the shortest being #1. At 5’4, I was #3 – no surprise there. We did a lap around the entire ballroom, looping between tables all the time smiling and waving. Upon returning to the stage, we all lined up according to “position 3” and in “stance”. These terms will be used throughout the next 4 months, so I decided to define some terms here.

Semi-Final Walkout
Semi-Final Walkout

Position 1 — In sequential order, line up from left to right starting with #1.

Position 2 — In sequential order, line up on 2 sides with even #’s on the left side and odd #’s on the right side; #1 and #2 are at the center of the line  and increases as the line fans out.

Position 3 — In sequential order, line up on 2 sides with even #’s on the left side and odd #’s on the right side; the last 2 numbers are at the center of the line and decreases as the line fans out.

Left Stance — Body is shifted 45* to the right from center. Left arm is bent with the left hand placed slightly below the rib cage. Left feet is on tip toe with the left knee bent and covering the back leg. Left feet is pointed at center while the right feet is turned 45* to the right.

Right Stance —  Body is shifted 45* to the left from center. Right arm is bent with the right hand placed slightly below the rib cage. Right feet is on tip toe with the right knee bent and covering the back leg. Right feet is pointed at center while the left feet is turned 45* to the right.

In this photo, we were arranged in Position 3 with the odd numbers on the right in a Right Stance and even numbers on the left in a Left Stance.

Let the show begin!
Let the show begin!

— Round 1: Swimsuit Walk —

For my group of 4, I must have had the most experience with catwalks though only once in a bikini before. Little did I know, that number is soon to be doubled and tripled in the coming months. I was selected to be sent to the safe zone first and there I sat for the next 4 rounds.

I was amazed at how slim I looked on stage. If I compare a picture of myself in bikini from just 4 months prior, I can tell there has been a huge change. At that point, I was being really careful with what I eat and working out every day. The result was a 1.5% decrease in body fat over the course of 2 months. It’s normal, but I wanted faster results, I just didn’t know how. If you’re unfamiliar with % body fat, here’s a previous article I had written on how to measure it and why it’s more important than BMI/weight. I know it may not look like a big difference, but that’s 1.5% looks like. Keep reading to see the result of 5% only 2 months later!

January vs May
January vs May

— Round 2 and 3: Quick Chang and Q&A —

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— Round 4: Elimination —

Based on a 30 second self-promo, 2 contestants in the safe zone is eliminated. I was the second to perform. I used the same dance I prepared for my interview. The top 14 contestants were selected by both the audience and the 5 judges that were present. Based on the most votes, 2 people were eliminated. Judges possessed 10 votes each while the audience possessed 1 each. In the end, I was safe with only 1 vote from a judge, which I think was caused by “lost in translation” to one of the judges. Normally, you vote on your favorite contestant, not the opposite. No matter, I still had one of the least votes. I knew I had nothing to be worried about!

Our entire show was then uploaded onto YouTube which you can watch it here. You’ll see me at the following times:

  • 0:00:33 – Walkout
  • 0:08:07 – Bikini
  • 0:47:49 – Q&A
  • 0:53:12 – Q&A 2
  • 1:07:31 – Elimination

Here’s a picture I really like with everyone from semi-finals:

Everyone is a winner!
Everyone is a winner!

Updated 11/9

I also found some Chinese newspaper articles published about top 14.

MNYCBP_2013-Semi_final_orld journal

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[to be continued…]