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2015 review

I think it is high time that I review 2015, fabulous with exciting changes and improvements and self discovery.

  1. Running, swimming and cycling.

Earlier this year, I started training for a marathon. I stick to the training program on Nike+ pretty well and get to a point where I can run up to 3h for 15 miles. I was running 4 times a week, on Fridays I would get so excited for the long run at the gym. I read a book about marathon training and educate myself. The whole training process is almost injury free, just some minor issues with IT band and balls of my feet. It turned out to be the problem with my running shoes. I lost a few pounds, because I wasn’t refueling my body properly. Then I increased the calorie intake and I am fine. In June, I increased the mileage to 88 miles, which I am quite proud of. Then I was back home for a vacation, and I just stopped the training. One reason is that I discovered swimming and cycling, and get excited over these. And also I felt very differently while swimming and cycling than running, it is refreshing, and relaxing. For running, I was super pumped and hyped. They are all good, I started to see the merits of different exercise. My fiancee started cycling with me and I am really happy to find him excited to go on weekend bike rides together. If we are not cycling, then we would go for a walk in a state park, go on the trail, take pictures of mushrooms after rain, frogs, water, sky. Some times we do long 3h rides, sometimes we do some hill work for shorter time. It was just a set time for the weekend that I am always looking forward to.

Then just a few days ago, I went to a ultra marathon race with 50k and 50 miles to volunteer. There is so much inspiration going on and I have my highest respect for the runners. Few are fit and lean, but the majority are not so much so. Fitness comes in all different shapes and sizes. Some are concentrated and determined, others are playful and singing and talking. Everybody has their own journey, everybody has their own battle to fight. Some are running alone, others have their husband or wife or even a group of friends to accompany along the way. Some throws up. Some couldn’t even talk in such agony. So many of the runners are so appreciative of us, they are saying thank you when they are at the aid station. You can see that they are just awesome people. Perfect dose of inspiration at the end of the year.

2.  Veganism.

I started learning about animal agriculture, animal rights and vegan life style earlier in the year. There are a few documentaries that are very informative and lead me to the decision of becoming a vegan. <Cowspiracy> talks about the environmental effects of animal agriculture, it has become the single biggest contributor to deforestation, sea pollution, species dying, air pollution, water usage, global warming. There is simply no way that the planet is going to support us the way we eat meat like now. We will be running out of resources.  <Earthlings> shows the clips and images from factory farms. It is just harsh to see how the animals are treated from the beginning of their lives. They are mistreated, tortured, confined to a small space, sitting directly next to each other. Their beaks, tails, horns, teeth are cut off soon after they are born. They are ill, sometimes going insane because of all the mistreatment.

There are people that inspires me to choose this lifestyle and assuring myself that this is possible, and this is healthy. Like Rich Roll, who is a ultra distance endurance runner and podcaster. Kristina, who is fully raw vegan promoter, artist. Steph Yu, who is 19 years old Asian girl who is going on adventures to discover and enjoy life. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, who is an educator, pro veganator, advocate for compassionate living.

Once I adopt this lifestyle, it is not as what I had perceived. I thought vegan just means salad all day, but no, there are so many things to choose from, and honestly I never felt so satiated after each meal. And the best thing is I don’t feel lousy afterwards. The one thing I noticed is that I don’t have stomach pain or heartburn anymore. I used to struggle with heartburn after lunch almost everyday. Then it is all gone after I stopped eating meat. Also with the amount of fiber intake, morning bowel movement is never a problem again, 5min and I am done. I also started to learn so much things about compassionate living with the food for thought podcast, with Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. It helped me with my earlier transition days of how I come out, how I can explain to people my decision, how to be a joyful vegan when eating out. Beyond that, there are also so many more things like how you can help injured animals you see, how animals are treated in the film making industry. I started with the understanding of veganism to be a glamorous lifestyle, but this podcast is just so eye-opening that I know that veganism is so much more than what you eat. “Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything, do something, anything.” is one of my favorite quotes from her. You just see compassion beaming through her, and I feel like I am opening up a new level of consciousness. After all, vegan is not the end, it is a way to an end.

The decision to go vegan is probably the most important decision I will ever have made, for myself, for the animals, and for the people around me, and for the planet.

3.  Self love.

After the vacation home in July, I gained a few pounds. I was having a hard time accepting the fact. Then I started to realize that I should love and take care of my body no matter what. It is the only thing that I am in control of. I can nourish my body with good food, make it stronger with moderate exercise, and cherish it with great self compassion and self love. Whether you are comfortable within your own body shines through. I think the definition for fitness for me is not how I look, but what I can do. Of course it would be awesome if I have washboard abs. But I shouldn’t make it a default and say that if I have belly then I am not good, I am being lazy, or I am finding excuses, or I am eating too much. Fitness should come in all different shapes and sizes. At one point, I have filled my instagram with people with exceptional good physique. But then I deleted them all. I don’t need it. I already know what the society has imposed on us, and looking at the pictures would not be any inspiration but just recipe for self-loathing, and stress.

For me, I am happy with where I am now, I have a defined tricep, my leg muscles are strong, I have a tummy, but this is just the way it is. Thinking about what others think of you is stressful. Just do whatever you feel like in accordance with your value. And the truth is, nobody really cares, everyone is all too wrapped up in their bubbles to care. So if you eat so little, and exercise so much to achieve a great figure to get some compliment, think about it. I don’t think exercise and working out should be stressful, or a burden, or you feel like obliged to do because of what others think of you. It should be fun, relaxing and rejuvenating. You should enjoy the process of it. It shouldn’t be to own someone else’s compliment, It is to own you own applause, your own compassion and your own appreciation.

So before I was checking on my Nike+ all the time whether I am still ranking the first, and if I find someone before me I would go and run some extra miles. This is just not right. When I look at pictures from when I was thinner, I am thinking, oh this looks so under-nourished, like it is not even me. I am curvy, and that’s just me. After years of struggle I am back at an optimal weight, I figured this weight is just for me. No more, no less. Right on point.

Make peace with yourself. Praise yourself. Give yourself some love. Take it easy.

4. Relationship.

I am grateful with what JB did for me as I adopt the vegan lifestyle. I stopped cooking meat for him, he doesn’t have complaint. He is cheerful and joyful all the time. He is such a gem. He has taken good care of me. And I noticed his changes, he wants to go out hiking or cycling during weekends, which I had wished for. He is still playing a lot of computer games. But I decided to not intervene or try to stop him. He has his own decisions. Everyone has their own journey. Even us, even we are together, we are just companions, we can’t share the experience. So it is of his own decision what he wants to do. It might look wrong from my standpoint, but it is their own journey, and I can’t decide what is right and what is wrong for others’ way.

5. Miminalism.

I find myself not wanting to buy things. Especially clothes. I have enough clothes, they should last for so many years to come. If I buy more, there will just be more sitting in the closet, with the current selection I have, I can’t have even wore all of them.

I like to DIY, especially my food. If I can make it, I wouldn’t buy it. Actually the first time I eat almond butter, it is my homemade one. After I tried the Costco pecan cranberry sourdough bread, I am so hooked! And I started my own sourdough culture, and now the sourdough culture is almost 1 year old! I bake with them every week now. I also make my own sauerkraut, mung bean sprouts, pistachio butter, granola.

I think it is the best to use few ingredients to make simple yet delicious food. Curry is such an example. Potato, carrot, onions, tomato, lentil and we are there. Fried noodles, fried rice.

And with our decision to spend Christmas in town, it will be an awesome minimalist holiday for us too!

 

 

Sending all the love and joy! Peace.

 

 

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2015 Holiday guide

When I came to the states in 2012, I have had some rough times for my mental health, been hospitalized, and recovered from the trauma with running, food and meditation. I perceive myself as a forgetful person. Past experiences, however strongly I felt at that point, I find myself peaceful with the experience, and go on and get concentrated and overwhelmed with just what is going on right now. I don’t talk to old school friends much, to some degree also because of some bad memories around college graduation time, things just got ugly when I am drunk and don’t sleep. I said horrible things to some of my best friends in college after they out of nowhere turned their back on me. It is funny how I am kind to and liked by my classmates for the most part of college when Bam! Everybody I cared thinks I am a bad person.

I also think I am a person who always want to settle things. If someone is not OK with me, I’d like to know why and try to communicate, you know, to solve problems. But turns out, not everything can be solved and some people just don’t go together. So I kept calm and moved on and stopped trying.

There are several important people in my earlier days that influence me a lot. I remembered after I transferred to a new class, nobody really knows me and some people just started hanging out with me. They are awesome people, and I had no idea why they chose to study together with me and staff. I am just a kind person. I treat well people that no one cares for.

I don’t talk to those important people in my life anymore, it ended bad, but whenever I thought about those innocent days, I still remembered so vividly and have gratitude and a smile in my heart.

For me, 2012-2015 are some drastic changes. I battled with Eating disorder, now in remission, started meditation, commit to vegan lifestyle, started to practice minimalism, culturing love for my body, just having more awareness for my body and also for the world around me. I find myself not so stable in mood when the holiday comes. It is happening this year too. Even though I have decided not to go anywhere, but when all my friends are leaving town, I panicked a little bit.

But I can see a happier and grown me in the future. I know this is the right way. The right way doesn’t mean it will be flowers and rainbows all the way, there could also be thrones and dark times, but I have firm belief that I am on the right path.

So since I am not leaving town as most of my friends do for this Christmas. I am staying home, with my beloved fiancee. After all, that’s all I need. Then I came up with ideas for Christmas tradition. Not sure I will be doing them all, but just coming up with so many interesting ideas just make me excited. The bucket list is like this:

  1. One Christmas movies(or not) a day till the new year’s eve.
  2. One cuisine a day homecooking including but not limited to Korean, Indian, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, trying out new recipes, vegan, from scratch. Best idea or what!!!
  3. Visit parks on sunny days.
  4. Biking together. (JB suggested midnight biking, biking without lunch, yeah sure, I overruled.
  5. Pick up yoga.
  6. Clean up room and make it more comfy and cozy.

Not so shabby~ I think this will be a real awesome Christmas without mindlessly spending so much money, eating too much food and getting anxious and guilty before the new year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Give yourself some love

The other day I was going swimming with a friend, and before we entered the pool, she said, I want to have abs, I have to lose my belly fat. And I said, you don’t have any belly fat! To me, she is already petite, quite fit, you can see the definition of muscles on her arms and legs, it is quite awesome already. Then she said: oh I have to hold my belly in, that’s why you don’t see it.

I am pretty radical in my mind, but kind of mild when i am with people. At that point, I thought to myself, if you have to hold your belly in, what shall I do? I have so much more fat and they are in places that I can’t even hide. And to me, nobody is watching. This is a problem to me.

I just realized the fact that it seems like everybody wants to lose some weight, everybody wants to have 6 pack abs, even my tiniest girlfriend. A roommate of mine in college is such a tiny girl, and she was struggling to put on weight back then, but recently I just saw a post from her with a picture of some kind of weight loss protein powder, I mean this is all wrong. You can drink that for several days, of course you will lose weight, coz all the glycogen in your muscles are depleted, and no water is retained, you lost weight because you are dehydrated. You can lose all the water you want, but is that healthy? Is that maintainable? Are you going to do this the rest of your life? I don’t think so.

Yet another time, when we are watching the rose bowl football game, Katy Perry was performing in between rounds. And a friend of mine just kept saying that she is so fat. I just couldn’t stand this. She looks healthy and vibrant, why is it so important to be skinny? One thing is the cultural background, in China, the big crowd still applause for skinny. Although I do see that this situation is changing towards fitness end. Still if you lose weight, everybody would praise you for that. But it just occured to me that, if you base your compliment on others’ weight loss, this is not going to do much good. It could cause potential stress when that person gains weight again, what would other people think of me? They must think that I am eating like a pig or I am so lazy and would not go to the gym. After that incident with Katy, I think to myself, oh my, what would that friend keep to herself how fat I am in her eyes.

And another time, we were celebrating a friends birthday at a Chinese Buffet, and a friend just said to me directly that with the food that I eat, all the miles that I run that day all goes to waste. I am not good with confrontations, but I was so mad inside. What do you mean by waste? How can the miles that I run go to waste? I might run to eat more, and often times and what’s the case now is that I eat to fuel my body for runs. It is just so obnoxious that people would think that you run to lose weight when you are really not. I started with the intention to lose weight, but along the line, I started to change my goals. I tried to lose fat, I didn’t see instant result, I just don’t want to bother anymore. I start to keep eyes on what my body can do. Now my goal is to run a marathon, and I can see myself doing that, and even beyond that, I would like to do ultra marathon when it is the time. I know that to some people, I am just a crazy girl that wants to lose fat so bad that I put myself on the treadmill for 3 hours. I don’t care. It is for my own pleasure.

And there goes the craze with abs. What’s up with that? Everyone wants that, 6min abs, 30 day shred. I mean, if you can get that and maintain it, then big round of applause for you. That would feel nice. But really you would have to lower your body fat to a really low level to see your abs. And that’s not healthy for many. For women, if your body fat is lower than 19%, it is not recommended, that’s just not how women body work, you might have period issues, or you might not be capable of carrying a baby. If you want abs just to show, that would work as a good motivation, but that’s only such a small muscle of the whole body, you do those crunches just to show off that piece of equipment you have? I understand that it takes a lot to have abs, and if that’s your goal, it is fine, but I just feel that it is wrong that so many people wants to have abs. Everybody is different, I have girlfriend that just eats a lot and wouldn’t put on weight, and they just are muscular. And there are friends who work out so hard, eat so little and still don’t get to their ideal weight. So I think it really all comes down to yourself. What your body is really comfortable with.

I have come from a point when I just worked out so mad, eat so little. I was trying to see instant results. But it doesn’t happen this way. I spent 23 years to get where I was and I want to shred all extra pounds in a few months? My body was complaining. I had irregular menstrual cycles. It has been a haunting issue. But I am getting better. I just keep telling myself to go easy sometimes, I am not competing in Olympic games or anything. I was just too eager to shed the fat to have others’ compliment. But my boyfriend and I met when I was kind of chubby, and he loves me. And through all the ups and downs of my weight, he always does. But the compliment from whom I was trying to get, some just don’t appreciate my body. I am fat to them and I might always will. When this becomes clear, I don’t care what others think of my body. I just start to take care of my body and learn to love it. Even with the bye bye fat, even with the muffin top. It is who I am.

Radical self love, that’s what we all need.

I was listening to “Fight song” for more than an hour during my last long run. That was unexpected. I never thought I could put a song on repeat and run for that long. I just think the song sings my heart. I do have a wrecking ball in my brain. I might have shout in my mind, but I try to keep it mild on the outside.

Recently I heard an athlete say that he wants to be a lighthouse, he doesn’t want to drag people to help them, he just has to be there, do his thing and that’s what a light house is. I have a friend in my life that is exactly like that. She doesn’t need to strive or push, she just does her thing and be herself. That’s enough motivation for me. Although we don’t talk much, we don’t share secrets, but I always admire her. She is the light house.

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OK so lot of hands spotted!

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So this is how my banana bread turned out to be, my friends always trade food!  Aren’t those cookies so cute! My little girlfriend made this! It literally melts in your mouth!

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So since I have decided that I want to do my long runs on Friday, Friday becomes more exciting. I decided to finally get my hands on making my own Frappucino, well, the consistency is a little to watery, I guess I will use less milk and more ice cubes. I also put a scoop of coffee icecream in there!! And Nutella! Ended up needing more sweetness so I added agave and shak’em up. Then with the oh-so-good banana bread, I am off to the game!

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My friends at work went together to an Indian restaurant, which is approved by our beloved Indian lab mate, to celebrate my birthday. Look at the size of the menu!!! Well as you can probably tell the hand on the right isn’t mine, my friend got this amazing colored nails!

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This is what I got, Veggie Kurma, I really want some veggies for my long run recovery, and this is what I’ve got. Totally saw Curry leaves for the first time! It was a great time, but I felt bad that even 3 of my fiends ordered mild, it seems like they are served with some spicy spicy food that one looks like he is dying, another didn’t really eat it, and my boyfriend took the gut to jug down the whole thing. Today in the morning after I woke up I still feel the Indian Spices in my stomach.

On my hands are some special snacks brought from India by an Indian friend. She swore by it to help with digestion, she asked for 4 packets and her mom sent her 30 of them! It is fried and coated with salt and it only has an Indian name that I can’t remember and we decided to call it “no idea”, “oh I have no idea, do you want some?” Totally cracks me.

So the 12 miler was great, 5.3mi/h, had 1 GU before run, 2 GUs during run. OJ after run, Broccoli for lunch, then coconut water for electrolytes. I was doing experiments the whole morning before a conference call, then went for the long run around 1 without lunch, not sure whether I still feel the coffee from morning. I definitely added too much instant coffee to my Frappe, I literally feel my hands shake a little bit and feeling high.

Now I didn’t mean to, but really everyone is asking me about the long run… I didn’t mean to! I just told Sunny about this because I was feeling more intimate and want to share my excitement about running, and Emily spotted me before my run and asked about it and then when we arrived at the restaurant, everyone knows. Now I am a little freak who tries to run the hell out of herself. Well I guess I will be that little freak happily.

Long runs are my favorite workouts, for now.

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April Recap–2015 is getting more and more awesome.

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Ghirardelli 86% is no joke, I think I prefer anything less than 80%, not gonna try going over that in a while. I like dark choco as snacks in the morning. The one on the right is an Indian dessert, well you know about Indian dessert, they are usually very very sweet. This one is too, brought by an Indian friend back from a family reunion. It is made of coconut flour, cardamom, and sugar! I like this one though, the color is so appetizing and the cardamom scent is just so addictive! This does have a lot of oil in it too, as is evident after I wrapped it in a paper towel.

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Waiting to be picked up for a big feast in Chinese Buffet! Oh I so deserve this! The easy 5 mile is somehow difficult for me coz it is an easy recovery run, I shouldn’t get my speed too fast, and without any intervals or higher speed to challenge myself, 55min seems quite a long time.

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I so like the Spring Wrap! Not really the staff we would put in a Spring Wrap, but still Oh So Good! Give me that full mouthful of delicioiusness! OMG! My grandma would usually have one dish wrapped in, but all my other family members would have all different dishes served to be wrapped up in one. My father is so keen on making wraps for others, and especially me. I am so keen on making huge wraps, the filling is almost falling out as I bite into it. This is the dish that I miss the most after I came to the states. We sometimes would eat out for the Spring Wrap, but most of the time, we make it at home. Home cooking is the best! And I have already mastered the art of making the bread from my father and aunt, both frying and steaming fashion.

Miso soup is must have in buffets, I don’t dig other soups that Chinese buffets serve that much.

Oh that Donut right there! Heaven Heaven! OMG that oily cinnamon sugar heaven! Everytime Everytime, so looking forward to it!

I have a much more controlled buffet discipline that I can use for my craving days. At least for now. I know that I am eating to fuel my runs. I am eating to feel good and replenish my body. With that mind setting, I am able to enjoy my YOLO life. Moderation not deprivation.

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Today morning didn’t feel like having the usual power green salad, so made some oatmeal porridge with banana, choco chips and pistachio together with a protein overdose full of super foods.

The lily sitting in the lunch area is making the day so live and bright.

So I ended up doing 105 miles in April, not bad! Big shout out to myself! I can feel that I am getting faster and stronger day by day. I am so glad that I decided on this marathon training. So far so good.

Plug in for my favorite comics, the oatmeal, it cracks me up so hard and it made me fall in love with running a little bit more. No not a little bit more, A Huge Leap forward More!

Apirl has been such great month, with the marathon training and learning about marathon training, I am truly glad and happy.

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Just when you feel weak. A little angel comes to rescue and company your run

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Beet juju, i am thinking of other ways to cook beet. I am a little over the raw juice thing now. Maybe because I added too much ginger. Just had a weird feeling in my stomach after this jar.

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Sunday special for boyfriend. Sourdough left over come into use for those fluffy pancakes. and Strawberry overload!

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This is called dough drop soup with tomato and egg drop. You see that it is kind of like egg drop soup except that it also has small pieces of dough in it! How awesome is that! I asked grandma to cook it for me all the time when I was young. Just so hearty and warm and comfort.

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Went to a friend’s house as I was walking in the apartment complex. Got this crazy rich organic soy milk. She spent an hour to make this, after soaking soy bean for 5h, she strained them, boiled them, and the left over crumbs goes to another stir fry dish. Oh so good!! I need to do this too. I figured that low intensity cardio is better for fat burning, well I am never a fan of walking, I can run for hours but not so much walk. My mom is the same thing. She is not a good walker either. But I guess after I know the benefits, I would be doing more walking maybe also hiking.

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This is what happens when I am too tired to cook after my run for dinner. Simple, quick, easy, Delish! You have to add sugar to it to make it extra yummy!!

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Breakfast overload. I always have time to make my breakfast. I never skip a meal. The salad and yogurt bowl above literally takes around 5 min to put together. I never compensate for quality of my meals. Lots of veggies, enough protein, I need them to fuel my run.

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This is me after a 7 mi run. 1 mi warm up and cool down, 5 miles of fartlek in between. I was proud of myself. Was not sure about my energy level and whether I can kill this workout until i get onto the treadmill. Surprise Surprise! Nailed it, with a faster speed of 5.9 most of the fartlek, I am happy with the time. 1h 13min 20s. Didn’t even push it at the cool down stage, still made my PR. Marathon training is beyond half, I am feeling good.

A good playlist sure does its job. Songs like “Till I collapse” totally gets you into the zone, I believe one of the reasons that I keep breaking records lately is highly related to the new songs I added, they matched my pace. For many of them I could stride on the beat throughout the song. Bonus!

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Now for dinner, this stew I made using high pressure cooker. There sure is beef in it, I just didn’t have much in my bowl, I love those tender carrots!! Mildly sweet, and I drank all the soup from the stew. Heaven!!

These days I woke up very early, usually go to bed 10PM and woke up 4AM, I would eat breakfast, cook something up to bring for lunch, and then hop on to 7AM school bus. Early morning is glorious. I feel productive. Maybe sometime in the future I will switch my run in mornings.