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…]