Spring “Cleansing”

Another example of how easily I get distracted and forget to finish something great that I started. Here’s a piece I wrote 2 years ago that I dug up…

Mar 2015 — Edited on April 2017

As I begin to pack away my winter clothes and change my bed linings in preparation for spring, I’ve also turned my attention to the natural changes happening in my body. I ask myself, “How can I help my body get rid of all the fat built up this past winter and any the toxins that are preventing the natural release?” The natural answer was a true and complete cleanse.

Around this time last year, I went on a smoothie cleanse, where I kicked off each day with a detoxing smoothie with whole lemons, celery, cucumbers, ground up flax seed, green tea powder and berries. I also coupled a carb-free diet with hot yoga, strength training and running. That routine actually ended up becoming a daily routine for me. I was pleasantly surprised but it definitely helped keep the winter “coat” away. Here’s the look-back to last year if you’re interested in reading about it.

A lot has happened in the last month – Holy Ship (which is a 3-day EDM cruise in the Bahamas), snowboarding weekend at Killington, bachelorette/bridal party, the flu… all of which have contributed to a disruption to my sleep cycle, leading to bad eating habits, which resulted in less energy and less working out… in the end, a exact recipe to packing on the pound. Fun? Yes. Sustainable? Absolutely not. So how do I kick myself back into a healthy life style again? 3 days to spring and I raid Trader Joe’s health sections for supplements.

I found two items this past weekend which I’ve been since Monday morning. Trader Joe’s Complete Body Cleanse Kit and Organic Yerba Mate tea

Complete Body Cleanse Kit

It consists of 3 bottles of tablets and capsules. 1 for liver, 1 for digestive and 1 for fiber. The sizes of the digestive tablet is really big, and you need to swallow 3 of it the first week and 2 the second week. The liver one is small and fiber one is normal sized. If you weren’t a pro at swallowing capsules before, you’ll definitely have some trouble. I wonder what would it taste like if I just chewed the digestive ones up. The quantity for the fiber one is also over the top, but I think you can open them up and blend it into a smoothie or something. I will attempt those alternative options and update tomorrow… Anyway, you can read all about the product here. I also searched for other blogs that have written on the experience and found 2 that were from a couple of years ago. I guess this cleanse has been around for some time now… Anyway…

Day 1

Definitely not in a good state when I woke up. Since I didn’t eat much during the day before and had wine plus too much food at dinner, I just felt sick to my stomach the first morning of the cleanse. On top of that, it was also that time of the month so… not a great morning. I couldn’t let anything stop me from my cleanse anymore, I was already pretty upset with the way I was treating my body; I definitely needed to start taking better care with what I put in my stomach…

So, I take 4 Fiber caps with half a bottle of Poland Spring water (normal size). I skip the gym and go straight to work. I had gone to the bathroom once before leaving my apartment, no change there. But when I got to work and had my first cup of Trader Joe’s Organic Yerba Mate Tea, that the stomach gurgling started. Let’s just say I was uncomfortable all day and all the normal body function you would expect from stomach gurgling happened very frequently that day. I wasn’t sure at that point if it was my choice of food the day before or the fiber/tea that’s causing all the disruptions… Looking back now, I’m thinking it’s all the simple carbs I had the night before that was reacting with the supplements. I hadn’t had that reaction since and all I’ve been doing differently is avoiding simple carbs.

I didn’t feel hungry all day until 5 in the afternoon, to which I addressed it with a light lunch of arugula, chicken, beet, artichoke, red pepper, asparagus, and mushroom salad with lemon juice and red wine vinegar dressing. After a late night at work, I went home around 7:30 and decided to go for a 4 mile run. It was an exhausting run and my calves haven’t hurt like that in a long time. A bit nervous about that, but hopefully it was just a one-time thing. Exhausted and thirsty, I get home and make myself a protein shake with soy milk, matcha, sugar-free protein powder and a pinch of tumeric. White tea is also suppose to be good for detoxing so I make myself some hot water and tea. A shower and some fussing later, I’m ready for bed. At this point, I downed a ton of tea with my large dose of pills – 8 to be exact. Probably not the best idea to have so much water before bed…

Day 2

So much better than day 1… I wake up to an urgent bathroom trip. A very healthy amount of pee and waste flushed out later, I’m feeling ten pounds lighter. I actually made myself breakfast, which I’m usually not afforded the luxury to do. I’m usually rushing to the gym in the morning. I had an egg white omelette seasoned with garlic and tumeric powder, slightly salt-and-peppered. I also decide to make sauteed curry cauliflower, which made my apartment smell divine.

Arriving at the office at a leisurely time of 9:10, I down my fiber caps (having forgotten to do so in the morning), make yerba mate tea and start working, happier than I was on the first day. The only downside was a soreness in my calves… Luckily I make my way to hot yoga after work. For lunch, I had baked salmon, arugula, and the cauliflower I made in the morning. The meal didn’t last me as long as I would have liked and so when everyone started snacking on chips and dry roasted edamame, I washed the box of strawberries I had picked up in the morning and ate that. It was surprisingly filling.

75 minutes of hot yoga later, my craving reared its ugly head and I start to want to have pizza, chicken and rice, cheesecake, chips and so forth. Instead, I settle for a Quest chocolate chip cookie dough protein bar. After consuming the whole bar and allowing time to elapse as I make my way home, the hunger and craving was completely gone. I would go as far as recommend Quest as a meal replacement bar. It’s relatively clean and made perfectly to trigger the sensation of fullness with 17g of fiber and 20g of protein. I make sure I drink plenty of water with the bar due to the high fiber and protein content, so another quarter of liter of water in before arriving home.

8 caps in before bedtime with some red chrysanthemum tea ends the day.

—End—

I’m really sad I ended the piece on Day 2 because even I’m interested in finding out what happened to the other days that followed until I finished that cleanse kit. But if memory serves me right, I finished that kit and kept up the same regime for 2 weeks. I also didn’t mention this was my pre-Coachella prep, which worked surprisingly well. I believe I had about a month to get back into shape and with the help of hot yoga, I was able to.

Funny how life repeats itself without intentionally making an effort. This is year 2017 and I’m once again back at hot yoga everyday, expect this time, it really is just for myself. I can’t say my vanity is nonexistent, but it sure is a hell’a lot less.

Health is more important than looking hot for the sake of looking hot. Obviously it doesn’t hurt to look amazing in the process of getting healthy, but a health body comes in many shapes and sizes and there shouldn’t be one standard. As long as I’m happy and I feel great, that’s all it matter.

My new regiment is eating whatever I want in small portions and exercising each day. After all these years of trying different diets and establish various routines, I finally realized the ultimate level of dieting is obtaining forgiveness and patience with your own body. It’s okay to have a piece of cake or a bag of chips as long as it’s what you really want. If what you really want is to be happy and so you always turn to food, then maybe supplement it with something else, like yoga, a friend’s company, a walk in the park or a good book.

At some point, I realized I would always gain weight when I’m miserable or unhappy. Maybe I thought being miserable gave me an excuse to eat poorly and be lazy, but that only worsened the situation. Challenging as it may be to get out of that vicious cycle, you need to know when and how to do so. Maybe it’s changing your current situation, no matter what it takes. In the end, I realized getting healthy isn’t about dieting, but readjusting a mindset. 

All I needed was to learn how to take better care of myself and make a conscious effort to do so—to do what makes me happy. That was the true cleanse.

If you managed to read this far, thank you and take care! I mean it! 🙂

Weight Loss / Training Update

Almost another month has passed since my last update and I’m happy to report my progress, slow and steady, has continued.

Weight: 105.5
Body Fat: 18.6% (athlete mode)

What have I been up to?

  1. I have not drank alcohol in a month (I just sip wine if drinking is unavoidable)
  2. I always sleep before 11pm and wake up by 6am (There were only a few occasions where I had to stay up, but I still woke up before 9am)
  3. I switched my workouts to the AM (I’m in the gym by 7am, 7:30 latest)
  4. I incorporated incline runs into my warm-up every day (max 15 incline at speed 6, which is 10 minute miles, 1 minute on, 1 minute off doing squats)
  5. I am eating a lot more protein with healthy fat (salmon especially, and seafood)
  6. Carb loading / cheat day on weekends (For recovery and motivation to eat clean and healthy during the week)
  7. Hard boiled egg white, yogurt, cottage cheese for breakfast or dinner
  8. Purchased a Nike+ Fuel Band to motivate myself to move more throughout the day
  9. Bike or walk everywhere (I would take the subway only if I had no choice)
  10. Surround myself with company until it’s time for bed (Prevents me from boredom eating)

I may sound like a crazy person that’s over-the-top committed, but these things have become second nature to me that I don’t find it difficult at all. I’m seeing the results I want and I haven’t sacrificed my social life, much. I even think I’ve influenced some of my friends to strive towards some of these them. Pick and choose what works for you and stick to it, just give it time.

I end simply with, “don’t just say what you want to do, do it!”

Happy Friday everyone!

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Day 13 of CAC

Another friday and the first 2 weeks are almost up. I’m back at where I started in terms of weight (110 lbs) but hopefully with less of the fat and more muscle.

I finally took a rest day this morning for the ab challenge. I don’t believe in rest days, but it just felt like one of those morning. I haven’t worked out as hard as I did on Wednesday in a long time. My back, shoulder and glutes are quite sore at this point, but surprisingly not my abs.

Today’s smoothie was an alteration to the normal smoothie, all the ingredients arefresh and not frozen. I’m avoiding frozen/cold drinks and foods for the time being. Only time of the month I dislike being a girl, too much hassle and too many restrictions.

Day 13 Smoothie: 2 celery stalks, 1/2 cup cucumber, 1/2 cup kale, 1/3 cup blueberries, protein powder, matcha powder and 10 fl oz of water

My plan for working out today is the eliptical for cardio since I still can’t run. And no alcohol, hopefully.

Intro/Day 3, Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 17, Day 18, Day 20, Day 24

Day 11 of CAC

Ever since I injured my foot on Saturday, I haven’t been able to do any running or other cardio, and it’s taking its toll. A friend of mine said working out is detrimental to the body and I would agree but I would also add, not working out is detrimental to my fat cutting goal.

My workout has been limited to the Abs Challenege each morning and a quick weight training session the last 2 days. Also out of curiosity, I googled whether hot yoga count as cardio. Unfortunately just because my heart is pounding doesn’t necessarily mean I’m working as hard as when I run. Less movement = not cardio. With that being said, yoga is great for muscle toning and flexibility. Ladies, if you want to shapely legs and waist, yoga is the way to go.

I can keep making excuses or I can suck it up and admit I’m back to square 1 when I first started last Monday. Weight is back at 110.

So, instead of wallowing in selfpity, what’s my next plan?

1. Eat cleaner and cut out alcohol completely. I realized every bite and sip counts for me. In order to work towards my goal, some sacrifises need to be made. No more cheat foods for the time being.

2. Join a gym that has a swimming pool. Luckily there is a pool close to my apartment that offeres lap swim 7am-9am and 6:30pm-9:20pm every day. As it’s also getting closer to summer, it might start to get too hot to run in the morning. This makes me think about chopping my hair to shoulder-length so it’s easier to wash and dry.

3. Heavier weights. I realized my 20lb kettlebell has become too light for me after using it to work out all winter. Joining the gym will take care of that. I’m going straight for that squat/bench press machine.

4. Schedule activities that do not revolve around eating on weekends. Preferrably activities that involves physical exertions.

5. Continue with large smoothies for breakfast

Day 11 Smoothie: 10 fl oz of water, 1 whole organic lemon (peels on), 1 cup frozen spinach, 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries, 1/2 tbsp matcha powder, 1 tbsp protein powder — w/ addition of: 1/3 cup cucumber and 1/4 cup celery leafs

Intro/Day 3, Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 17, Day 18, Day 20, Day 24

Day 10 of CAC

Can’t believe the challenge is already 1/3 way over. I have sped ahead on the Abs Challenge to Day 13, skipping 3 rest days. No rest needed! This way, if I skip a day, I know I’ll still be on track. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to run at all, though beach soccer does count somewhat.

Weigh-in: 109.5 (Another disappointing increase of .5lbs since yesterday)

I wonder if it’s muscle weight…hopefully, but I have a feeling it might be fat accumulation.

Day 10 Smoothie: 10 fl oz of water, 1 whole organic lemon (peels on), 1 cup frozen spinach, 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries, 1/2 tbsp matcha powder, 1 tbsp protein powder — w/ addition of: 1/3 cup almond milk and 1/4 cup cilantro

Intro/Day 3, Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 17, Day 18, Day 20, Day 24

Day 9 of CAC

Another dreary Monday, progress has regressed unfortunately. A bit disappointing but I think I’ll move past it.

Official weigh-in: 109lbs (1lb increase)

Waist: 24.5 (.5 increase)

I don’t think Dukan method works. Or I’m just not doing it the right way. Maybe I should have avoided the fat. Anyway, back to the stricter diet!

Day 9 Smoothie: 10 fl oz of water, 1 whole organic lemon (peels on), 1 cup frozen spinach, 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries, 1/2 tbsp matcha powder, 1 tbsp protein powder — w/ addition of: 1/4 cup pineapple chunks and 1/2 cup frozen kale

Intro/Day 3, Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 17, Day 18, Day 20, Day 24

Day 8 of CAC

Made it through all of yesterday without eating fruits, vegetables and carbs. Luckily the BBQ had plenty of meat and not so much of everything else, though the chips were very tempting. Results?

Weight – 108lb (no change)

Waist – 24in (no change)

% Body Fay – 14 belly, 5 biceps, 13 triceps, 10 back (shaving a few mm here and there but nothing definitive)

What did I eat all of yesterday?

Breakfast – 1 scoop of soy protein powder (0g of sugar)

Lunch – 6 small shrimps, 1 burger patty, ~5oz of galbi steak, 3 small chicken wings, 1 rib

I did eat some watermelon but I just equate that to water since watermelon is basically 91% water.

Dinner – I wasn’t feeling hungry at all after 40 minutes of intense beach soccer and 30 minutes of volleyball, just very very thirsty. I just had 1 burger patty and called it a day.

How did I feel?

I basically moved between 3 grills and picked at food that looked good. Looking back, I realized I may not have eaten much at all, but that fullness settled in fairly quickly and I stayed full all day.

I will try the Dukan Method for one more day today and see if I see any results tomorrow.

Click through to see more results: Intro/Day 3, Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 17, Day 18, Day 20, Day 24

Day 7 of CAC

I finally measured myself with some real tools and here’s what I think is close to accurate:

Weight – 108 (dropped another .5lbs, yay!)

Waist – 24in

Caliber Method: Belly (16), Back (14), Triceps (10), Biceps (5) for a total of 45mm give or take 5 mm

% Body Fat – 23.5% – 25% range, so we’ll just say 24%, which makes sense since I would be in the fitness zone. My goal is to get down to 20% then I should be golden.

Today is a beach BBQ day, which gives me a reason to forgo my normal diet and give in to my carnivorous urges. For all of today, I will eat nothing but protein, preferably lean protein. This is following the Dukan Diet. This is short term for me of course. Supposedly, and I quote from this article, “A short-term, protein-rich regime like this will purge the tissues of excess water, dull the appetite (if you eat only protein foods, your body produces ketonic cells that are powerful natural appetite suppressants) while maintaining muscle tone and skin glow.”

I began my breakfast instead of the usual smoothie, with a straight-up protein shake. I’m still take my vitamin supplements so I should be okay for 1-2 days on this diet in terms of nutrients. I’m very curious as to if this would work.

Remember to subscribe for daily updates! Thanks for reading and enjoy a gorgeous sunny Saturday! 🙂

Click through to see more results: Intro/Day 3, Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 8

Day 4 of 30 Day CAC

Today is Day 4 of my Cleanse for Abs challenge.

Do I notice a difference? I suppose I’ve dropped 1.5lbs since Monday morning, but not sure if it’s water weight or fat or a combination of both.

What have I been eating besides the breakfast smoothies? Yogurt, cottage cheese, fresh strawberries and blueberries, seaweed soup using bone broth w/ meat and connective tissue off the bones, raw greens, and green tea.

What other activities have I been doing other than the abs challenge? Hot yoga, strength training (kettle bell swings, 1 min planks, push-ups, and squats), and HIT workout for abs, butt and thighs from FitnessBlender on YouTube. I haven’t been able to run because I injured my foot, so it limits my cardio. I plan on incorporating swimming as my cardio replacement.

Day 5 Smoothie: 10 fl oz of water, 1 whole organic lemon (peels on), 1 cup frozen spinach, 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries, 1/2 tbsp matcha powder, 1 tbsp protein powder — w/ addition of: 1.5 stalks of celery

My Tip? Use a straw to minimize the taste, it’s not pleasant.

Click through to see more results: Intro/Day 3Day 5, Day 6Day 7Day 8

Drastic Measures

OMG, IT’S ALMOST SUMMER.

IF ONLY…

Panic set in about two months ago and it was when I realized I have truly LET MYSELF GO. How the heck did that happen? Winter fat has got to go!

Goal, check.

Plan, check.

Execution, check.

Result, check! I can happily report I have lost 5% body fat (plus about 7lbs) in the last 1.5 months thanks to my ULTIMATE slimmed-down routines. The key: dedication is a must!

1. Calorie Cutting

First, always keep in mind: A net of 3600 calories is equivalent to 1 pound.

Daily food intake – normal daily routine – exercise = net calories

This is the basis on which everything else in my routine is built upon.

2. Carb Cutting

No more bread, pasta, rice! This somewhat resembles the paleo diet with the addition of  3 additional rules, no processed food, no food with added sugar and portion control. Of course makes life very difficult, especially in New York. This lead to a lot of turned down meals out, drinking and staying out late.

On a typical day, I drink a 20 oz smoothie. It keeps me full and since work usually distracts me from thinking about food, I don’t realized I’m hungry until noon. But by noon I am starving. Lunch is strictly salad, with white meat. When I have time, I make turkey meatballs or eggplant stuffed with ground turkey. Other times I just buy the store-bought already cooked chicken breast. (Interesting fact: baby carrot is actually just regular carrots cut up into smaller pieces). Dinner is usually around 7 and by then, I make sure to eat very little. lots of fruit and yogurt. Dinner is berries and yogur, which is basically sugar, fiber and water. The first day or two is not hard, it gets harder toward the end of the week. It’s only seeing results after 2 days that keeps me motivated.

3. Late Night Cutting

I always complain about not having enough time in the morning to work out, which is actually the best time and most effective. Waking up at 6:30AM was unthinkable for me even half a year ago. Now, I can’t sleep past 7. I get enough sleep and I now have the time for a quick workout in the morning.

4. Cardio, Muscles, Flexibility

I work out for at least 20 minutes each time, twice a day. My workouts range from weight training, running 2-4 miles, or hot yoga at YTTP. By gaining muscles, you can speed up the process of fat burning. Hot yoga helps with detoxing through sweating, and I mean lots of sweating.

5. Rewarding Yourself

Schedule cheat meals/days. Our ancestors often undergo periods of food shortage and low calorie intake, but followed by gorging on large meals after a successful hunt. Carb loading isn’t a bad idea, especially when I notice I get a lot more energy for working out afterwards.

8-Grain Congee Recipe ( 八寶粥)

My new favorite diet-food is my mom’s 8-Grain Congee. It works for whatever diet you’re on. It’s vegetarian, but contains protein and essential vitamins and minerals to support good health. The multigrain gives it a low glycemic level while the high fiber and water content fills you up and keeps you full until the next meal.

Ingredients: All dry

Instructions:

  1. Put all ingredients in an electric pressure cooker
  2. Set on high pressure to cook for 45 minutes
  3. Serve

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, I would recommend buying one because it’s so versatile and it makes cooking so much easier and faster. Brown rice that normally takes up to an hour to cook, takes 20 minutes in the pressure cooker!

But if you don’t want to dish the money, cooking in a slow cooker will also work, but just double the time or cook until the beans have softened. If you must use the old-fashioned pot on the stove method, make sure you have a HUGE pot and fill it only half-way. You run the risk of the content spilling over if the temperature is not controlled correctly at low.

Break Your Sugar Addiction Today

I know you can’t avoid it all the time, but you don’t want to consume it every other hour of the day either! Take it out of your food choices slowly until you can go without it for days at a time. Because honestly, it’s the worst possible legal substance you’re putting into your body on a daily basis. So before you pick up a cookie, think about all the sugar that goes in there and how SCARY that is. 1 cookie will become 2 and 3… trust me, it’s addicting.

Vinegar Soaked Black Soybeans

We all know vinegar and black soybeans are nutritious foods on their own, so is it surprising that putting them together will create a super food combo?

Benefits – high in vitamins E and B, skincare, whitening, weight loss, lower bad cholesterol, antioxidant

Ingredients

If you don’t have a Chinese supermarket close to you, aged balsamic vinegar will do as well.

Instructions

  1. Pour soybeans into the pan and stir on medium heat (do not add oil) for 5 minutes
  2. Stir soybeans in low heat for another 5 minutes until the shell have been opened
  3. Remove soybeans from pan and leave for 15 minutes to cool
  4. Place the cooled soybeans into a glass container that has a lid
  5. Pour vinegar until it has covered all the soybeans
  6. Close the lid and let the soybeans sit for 2-3 days or once they have absorbed most of the vinegar

Eat 10-20 beans a day

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!

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…]

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!

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.

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MNYCBP_2013-Semi_final_ChinaPressMNYCBP_2013-Semi_final_SingdaoMNYCBP_2013-Semi_final_mingpao_semi

[to be continued…]

Bai5 — Coffee Replacement?

A lot of my friends are big coffee drinkers – some to the point where they need it to function. I, on the other hand, would enjoy a cup once in a while for the aroma or if I’m craving that bitter taste of chocolate. Of course, I grew up drinking tea in China, more frequent than drinking water even. Being Chinese, I’m definitely truer to my roots. Anyway, back to the subject of coffee. When I started paying closer attention to food that assist weight loss, I noticed that there were mixed feelings towards coffee.

Some people say it’s beneficial to drink coffee if you want to lose weight because it speeds up your metabolism and it also provides a healthy dose of antioxidants. However some time back, I read a book called Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss by Joel Fuhrman, M.D., who discourages people from drinking coffee if one can help it. Essentially, coffee is a drug that replaces your body’s production of stimulants, which is why in the long run, you become reliant on it as a result of over-consumption. He explains others reasons as well on his website.

Afterwards, I began avoiding coffee, choosing tea instead for that boost of antioxidant. Until one day, I picked up a bottle of Bai5. It’s made from coffee berry. They are the fruit around the coffee bean. The berries are often discarded during coffee bean extraction process. After doing a it more research, I found out that recently, the new hype has been around this “superfruit”. It is high in antioxidant and other nutrients as well as containing trace amounts of caffeine.

Coffee fruit
Pomegranate Flavor

I was first drawn to Bai5 by my curiosity of this fruit.  I’m also a sucker for advertisement and so I was drawn by the large fonts printed on the label that says ANTIOXIDANT INFUSIONS. Secondly, I had wanted to drink something fruity and sweet without taking in the calories from sugar. A bottle of Bai5 has 10 calories total. It became my favorite low-calorie, fruit-flavored drink ever since.

I’ve tried the pomegranate, the dragon fruit, the blueberry and the lemon. My favorite is the pomegranate because it’s the most tart and it’s the least sweet and artificial tasting. The lemon is my second choice. I like it that it contains 4% juice, but obviously not the main reason I go for it. I figure, if I get tired of drinking tea or water and in need of something sweet and cool, it’s a good alternative. Click on the bottle for more flavor options.

I don’t encourage drinking one every day because it’s slightly on the costly side at $2.99-$3.99 a bottle and despite it being naturally derived from a type of herb and GMO-free corn, it’s still artificially concocted. Best thing to do, stick with water. It’s the best hydrant and will help flush out any unwanted chemical buildups in your body. But if you want to satisfy that sweet tooth, it’s not a bad treat!

Track Your % Body Fat

Percentage is the most accurate form of metrics when it comes to measuring body fat. It’s also the leaser known form of measurement. First, let’s look at an average and what each range means in this chart below:

Women

Men

Essential fat

10-12%

2-4%

Athletes

14-20%

6-13%

Fitness

21-24%

14-17%

Acceptable

25-31%

18-25%

Obese

32%+

26%+

When I first embarked on my weight loss agenda back in February of this year, I was bordering obese – yet, people still said I looked slim. This can be explained by the fact that I have smaller bone structure than usual. I’m 5’4” and 110 pounds at the time. How much fat can this girl have? About 29%, most of which concentrated around my belly. Belly fat is the most dangerous of all because it leads to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and all those life threatening diseases.

So let me talk about how one can find out one’s % body fat. The first method is one that my personal trainer used on me, by using a caliper, which is essentially a clamp with markers on it. The cheapest one I can find on Amazon is only $2.97.

Even comes with a chart!

Or if you know someone that works in a lab, have them bring one back for you:

Caliper used in labs

Next, you perform a pinching action on the following parts of your body and clamp the fat. Be critical! The harder you pinch, the more accurate the final number.

My trainer added the result from my

  • lower abdomen (belly)
  • armpit
  • biceps
  • triceps
  • back

If you don’t know exactly where, check out this site for images and more info.

Add the numbers up in millimeters and compare it to this chart.

Age range VS sum in mm

Set your goal at a % and work hard towards it. It’s possible! I dropped from 29% to 23% in 6 months. If you lose weight the healthy way with exercise, healthy eating, and supplements, then you average 1% per month.

Stop Using BMI as the Golden Standard of Health

I’m sure most people are familiar with BMI, Body Mass Index. It’s simply weight divided by height, a ratio, which you compare to a table. Unfortunately, it’s does not accurately describe how good one looks on the outside, which pretty much the point of losing weight. Why is it not accurate? It’s because muscle is denser than fat! In other words, muscle takes up less volume.

Less volume = less space = tighter looking body

Well, that’s the scientific explanation. Let’s take a look at a diagram…

Fat vs Muscle

Again, BMI can’t determine how good you LOOK. Hence, what one should really care about then, is % body fat. The picture below demonstrates that idea.

BMI is often used because it’s easily measurable in one’s household. % body fat on the other hand will require equipment and expertise. Check out this article for one of those methods.

Weight Loss Regime

Here is a list of all the products I eat on a daily basis as part of my weight loss regime:

Breakfast:

  • Slimmetry®: 2 tablets
  • CLA 500: 2 tablets

Wait 30 minutes

  • Natural B Complex: 2 tablets
  • Protein Powder: 2 scoops
  • Berry assortment: 4 oz
  • Multivitamin: 1-2 tablets

Lunch:

  • Slimmetry®: 2 tablets
  • CLA 500: 2 tablets

Wait 30 minutes

  • Natural B Complex: 2 tablets
  • Salad or any vegetable (vinegar or lemon juice dressing only): 2-3 cups
  • Brown rice: 0.5 cup
  • Protein (limit to fish or lean meat): 4-6 oz
  • Berry assortment: 4 oz

Dinner:

  • Slimmetry®: 2 tablets
  • CLA 500: 2 tablets

Wait 30 minutes

  • Natural B Complex: 2 tablets
  • Protein Powder: 2 scoops
  • Berry assortment: 4 oz

Prior to Sleeping:

  • Natural B Complex: 3 tablets
  • Protein Powder: 2 scoops

Taking protein powder prior to sleeping will help hold me over until the next morning so that my body does not shut down due to hunger. My calorie intake each day will be well below recommended values, but I don’t feel the effect by taking the protein right before bed.

Contact me if you’re interested in learning more about the products or would like to purchase them.

Too busy…

I’m a full-time consultant and my schedule is packed. I often find myself too busy to follow any of the conventional weight loss methods. What I can’t do, I improvise.

I was introduced to the brand, Nutrilite, by a nutritionist who came and spoke at a weight loss class I attended. I have read enough weight loss articles to know the best way to lose weight is NOT by starving yourself. At the time, I was going to the gym everyday and doing both cardiovascular exercises and strength training. (See Workout Tips for more details) I even hired a personal trainer who suggested using MyFitnessPal to track my food intake and weight loss.

I want to clarify here that when I use the conventional term “weight loss”, I’m not actually referring to the pounds I shed or BMI. What I ultimately care about is having a toned and slim body, or low % body fat. I’ll post another article on this later on, so keep an eye out for BMI vs % Body Fat.

My % body fat was:

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

I began going to the gym regularly in February and began using Nutrilite products in April on top of my workouts.

The reason I like Nutrilite products is two-folds. One, it’s all natural. Two, it works for someone like me who is just too busy all the time. Check out my Weight Loss Regime for that list!