0

journey in yoga

Yesterday I was looking at some intro video to Ashtanga yoga, the instructor in the video was saying for almost all the asanas, “it doesn’t matter if you can reach your toes, if you can’t, just feel the length in your spine, and elongate.” And it struck me that whether you can get into the deepest possible pose is not the point, the point is you are progressing, and you are practicing.

Recently I has just started the seated sequence of primary series, and I got a little frustrated with the jump back and jump throughs.I know that these are advanced, and people practice years to be able to do that. But still, when you are just stuck in the middle of the pose and couldn’t get your legs back in between your arms, there can be a little frustration in my heart.

I remembered when I first started practicing in August, I was so looking forward to the morning yoga practice, coz I know I will be paying full attention to my body and let all my energy develop and flow in my body which feels great, and I always get a sweat on after the practice. But these past couple of weeks, I didn’t really feel the passion in me even though I still practice every day. It is just lacking the spark I thought.

And I know one of the reasons is that I start to get to new postures and some of them I can’t even modify to do it. But I remember the excitement when I can get a posture about right when at the beginning it was really hard.

Watching advanced practitioners practice let me know what each posture should look like, but yesterday after watching the intro level video, I start to realize some problems in my practice. I was struggling in some postures that my breath are shallow. But I think I should not struggle in the asanas. I should relax into the asanas, not pull or push into it. “Use asanas to get into your body, don’t use your body to get into asanas.” And I realize that the postures should be peaceful and graceful and relaxed. It should not be tense or struggle or short of breath.

“Practice, and all is coming.” As Pattabhi Jois said. I shall trust the process and my body will open to the postures as I go.

 

0

the journey of yoga begins

Recently I have got back to Yoga practice. I went to some power flow classes offered at the school gym and have some really fresh understandings about yoga.

First off, yoga can be challenging. I used to think of yoga as slow and not worth doing and spending the time if I want to get the most effect in fat loss. I mean it looks like only some stretches OK? But boy can it be sweaty and engaged! Added some core work into the sequence and I am getting sweaty all over!

Then, yoga can be beautiful. Sometimes we forget that we have a beautiful body. Society feeds the image of perfect bodies into our head, we didn’t even think about it and directly believe that it is what we want too. But what we really need is to appreciate our body, appreciate what we have. While i am doing some poses like warrior two, and looking at myself in the mirror, and looking at my elongated and straight arms, I learn to appreciate how strong and beautiful I am. And some poses, although it is not challenging, it is just simple and beautiful and so balanced and elegant. I also went to some barre burn classes, which is also so beautiful and makes me fall in love with my body and what my body can do all over again.

Then, yoga is a practice. The end goal is not some headstand or really really hard poses, it is about the feeling and the appreciation and being humble. I noticed that I really want to challenge myself to harder poses, but at the same time told myself that it is not only about the poses. It is also about breath. And as long as we keep practicing, our yogi path will start to deepen and enlighten our soul.

Today in the morning, I was just listening to my heart and didn’t follow any video. I do what I want and what feels good. I started with a simple sun salutation sequence, and then gradually add in one more movement and pose each time, and I finally understand why the classes are always like this. I remembered wondering: why do we do the sequence so many times? why can’t we just directly go to the full sequence? and today I understand that we need to ease into all the poses. The first time that I did the cobra is so stiff and I noticed the difference when I did it the second the third time. It is all a process. Don’t rush.

Namaste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

calm and ready

Recently I have been binge listening to “the model health show” podcast, I think Shawn has some really good episodes where he talks about training that really gets my blood pumping for going to the gym, excited to do the workouts, and more importantly, get me to realize the importance of sleep and rest and reduction of stress.

He talked about his morning routine, where I also started to implement to my mornings. 1L of water to inner bath. I feel that this is working great for me, not only did I start doing this first thing in the morning, I also make sure that I drink at least 2 bottles of water at school. I used an app called Strides to keep track of these new habits. This is really helping a lot, coz I want to be able to have a streak of keep doing those things. I also put meditation on the list, which has helped hugely.

Earlier this year, I was really concentrated on doing meditation and was spending about 30min each time to meditate both morning and evening. But I slacked on the physical activity part and got so frustrated with the weight gain. Then I started going back to my workout routine and also started meditate again, but this time, I didn’t spend that long sitting and meditation, I just make sure that everyday I do some meditation. 10min usually. And I can already see what this little tweak has changed my attitude towards the day. I always do a little visualization, reminding myself of the goals that I want to achieve and telling myself I am not giving up until I get there. I also tell myself that today I am going to do everything to the best that I can. And many times, if I get frustrated with myself, I will use the meditation time to distill and think about what is the right way to take a look at things.

I also find that sometimes, when pain comes, I just need to lie there and lie with it and wait until it passes. The other day, I had too much for dinner and I was so frustrated with myself and I was really upset. Usually I would want my husband to say some encouraging words and help comfort me, but that night, I was just lying there, although uncomfortable and really down, I lied there, then fell asleep, and then the next morning during meditation, I told myself that I am determined to make some change to this. And I am seeing good changes already.

I find that many times I put too much food in my plate, and before I can finish the whole plate, I already feel full, then sometimes I told myself I will just finish it anyway, it is not so much more. But every single time, I feel so full that I don’t want to move after the dinner. So I made a note to myself, I need to change this. And I also put this into the list of habit that I want to form into the Strides app. And I know that I want to tick off “controlled dinner” on my list. And I am so happy with the past few days that I am behaving so well. And I am really positive and confident that I really can make those changes long term.

I am happy with the changes that has happened to me recently, and I think I am reducing my stress mindfully, and I am moving through life more gracefully. Like, I can have a vegan French toast for a Saturday morning breakfast, or I can just really take a moment and enjoy the glorious green smoothie bowl with cacao nibs to chew on. How perfect that is. Sometimes we just need to stop and take a moment to appreciate the things we have.

1

Spiral upwards

I had thought that I had gained good relationship with my food. turns out that it doesn’t happen that easily. I was looking at some pictures I took recently, and realized that I look like that I have gained weight. And the other day when I weighed myself at the gym, I was definitely putting on a few pounds.

This got me a little depressed and frustrated. I found myself eating more snack food than I usually do. This is all a mental thing. I was thinking to myself. Zhuo! I thought you are over it. I thought you were saying you are good enough. I thought you don’t eat emotionally anymore. Especially when I think that I already talked about this in my youtube channel. This gets me even more frustrated and mad at myself.

Another thing is that I haven’t been exercising regularly starting this year. I didn’t feel that it matters to me as before. Before I would make sure I keep down every exercise I do on the calendar and kept me going. I have strict exercise routine. But starting from this year, I guess I just decided that I would take it easy, and not be so fixed on exercising. And also I have put more energy in meditation practice which kind of makes me think it is justifiable that I don’t do that much exercise.

But then one of my friend posted his miles for the month. 100k. And with a picture of the ranking in Nike+, where I am the second place. I got a little pissed. When I took running really seriously, I run a lot more than that. And I never showed off in social media. I think the problem is not his. It is my mind playing tricks. I think on the one hand, I think I can easily run more than him. On the other, I was not so sure after not running seriously for such a long time. And I know, nothing wrong with him showing off. It is just me that took it that way.

Cried, confessed to my fiancee. And started running again last week. And made it my priority. First thing in the morning. Didn’t care that I would go in work later. I had to do this first to take care of myself. I know. After a week I will be on top of the game and here I am.

I met the friend the other day. And felt that he is being competitive. Actually at this point, I am not even that competitive anymore, it is always about myself I know. Once I get past the mental block. Everything is fine. It is not really about competition. And the fact that he is being competitive and sort of weird just means that I need to block him or shy away from him a little bit. I think everyone is going through hardship you would never know. But I would still mentally block or get farther away from him at this point because of the energy.

Well lessons learned.

  1. Always have my workout routine going, necessary for my mental health.
  2. Don’t be afraid. Once I start doing it for a week, I am in good hand.

 

0

self talk Queen

OK so I am being a little dramatic in the title there. I will never in a million years call myself queen.

One big change I have realized in myself is that I finally start to be able to talk myself out of anxiety, anger and stress. The thread for this begins with my trip back to China. I was gaining a few pounds, and I fell really stressed out after coming back to the states. Not only because of the weight, but also because of some visa issues which had delayed my trip for 3 weeks. I was thinking in my head, I am going to lose the weight so fast coz I will be eating clean as I want to be. But then it just didn’t happen.

And I start to think about this weight issues. It seems to me that many people, if not all people are struggling with weight issues. I have friends who want to put on weight but can never manage to do it and would brag about it. I have friends who are looking so good to me complains to have put on weight and really want to lose it. I always assure them that they are looking great, because they do. But they told me that other people have told them so. Some are very skinny and tiny, but they are being very harsh with comments on other people’s body. Even Katy Perry didn’t escape the critics. There are friends who would say that they will go to the gym with me, but it never happens. We are in a culture that we are programmed to accept that we should all  be like the models that we see in instagram pictures.

I actually have a lot to say about weight issues. But I found myself not so convincing when I say them, because you know, I am not the ideal body type. But is it reasonable to let the models talk about body image, self love? It just doesn’t help, does it?

At the beginning of my vegan lifestyle, at the point where I am still deciding when to let my friends know that I am vegan, I was a little stressed out. I kept thinking to myself, what would they think about my decision. Will they think it is because I want to lose weight so badly that I decide to go “extreme”? Will they secretly think to themselves: ‘but she doesn’t even look like a vegan, vegans are skinny, aren’t they?’ It almost seems to me that I should be all the best to be a good representation of this lifestyle. I was putting too much on myself.

Around fall 2015, I was really starting to stuff myself with knowledge about vegan lifestyle, watching documentaries, finding youtubers, watching recipe videos. To one point, I was having my morning oatmeal, and thinking to myself, why are they having so many delicious food, but not me. But NO! I was having oatmeal, exactly the same as so many of vegans do for their breakfast, and it is perfect! I was just caught in the pattern that I would watch what other people are doing, but failed to pay attention to what I have. It all seem so glamorous on videos what those trendy youtubers have. But when I am having my oatmeal, I wasn’t even enjoying it, the whole time I was thinking to myself, oh my life sucks, I would want to be like them youtubers too.

I realize how bad and wrong this thought is. And I decide to go without youtube in December. It turns out pretty good. One thing it did is that it reminds me to be mindful in my own life and not get caught in other people’s life. And about the weight issues, I was still having that few pounds on my body, but I start to look at my body in a different way. I was thinking through out the years that I was struggling about my weight issues, I always come back to this weight, and actually it is not overweight or anything like that. It means that my body is just good with maintaining this. And I am happy with it. I can feel the muscles in my legs and my arms. I am capable of doing long runs like half marathon, I can do long rides of 3h. I am happy where I am.

A friend of mine once told me, your legs would be better if they are trimmed half. Of course vertically, he added. I don’t want to cause any fight, so I just laughed it off. But seriously I was thinking to myself, who are you to judge. It is my legs. I work to have those muscles on there, who are you to say that they are to be trimmed off.

Along my journey, sometimes people comment, oh you lost so much weight. But let’s be honest, who cares after that one comment. Everybody goes to live their own life. Everybody has their own business to worry about. And if I am doing all sorts of bad things to my body, like working out too long, eating too little, just to get one compliment like that, is it even worth it. NO! And of all those years of my weight gain and loss, my parents don’t love me less or more, my fiancee doesn’t love me less or more. They love me because of the person I am, not because I look like a model.

This is all a process, I understand. I have listened to other people preach about positive body image over the years, but the change has to come from within. I was so happy when I looked at my old pictures and say to myself, oh this is too skinny I don’t want that! Because that’s my true feelings and I am proud of this kind of thought. Not “OH see I look so much better when I am 10 pounds smaller”. I was proud that I have this idea popping out when I look at those pictures. And this would lead to better self image thinking patterns.

We just need to have a grownup in our mind. Telling ourselves, It is gonna be OK.

All are going to pass. This will only be a blink of an eye in my life time. I am going to feel better even my talk isn’t selected to be presented. I am not going to be annoyed by other people’s decisions. I am just taking it slow and be compassionate with myself. Good for her, not for me!

All is going to get better and better. I have faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

Picture bomb situation

IMG_1095

Purple rice sushi with sweet potato and hummus.

IMG_0995

Homemade sourdough muffin with curry.

IMG_1153

Fried rice with all the vegetables you can eat!

IMG_1175

Chow Mien.

IMG_1166

Indian Buffet. Need I say more?

IMG_1154

Best desert ever!!!

IMG_0840

Dinner plate.

IMG_0816

Sprouting some mung beans!

IMG_0851

Some sriracha? Yes!!!

IMG_0842

Banana Icecream~

IMG_0829

Mungbean sprouts!!

IMG_0959

Traditional spring burrito with homemade naan bread.

IMG_0573

Just take a moment and adore the bagel.

IMG_0523

Present from heaven, young coconut.

IMG_0406

Sunset in Destin.

IMG_0347

You jump, I jump.

IMG_0143

Green Smoothie. Morning Glory.

IMG_0140

Look at the colors of my dinner plate!

IMG_0046

My best sourdough loaf so far!!!

1

Zero to hero—–how I go from 0 to 5k, and to half marathon

I started running when I was in college, a great friend of mine encouraged me to lose some weight and insisted that it would make me look so much better if I am thinner. She is like a robot girl, always had the energy to work and always have bright ideas. We spent all our time in the classroom studying, we went for runs on hot summer days. We talked about silly things like we both want to have the power enough that when we walk past people, they would all feel our energy. There are people in my life that have seen the best of me that I didn’t even think I have. They walk into my life and they passed. Only now do I understand that people that truly love you will be drown towards you. You don’t have to try to please people. Well this should be a whole post. Let’s stay focused for now and talk about my running.

I started running and make myself run for 4k, which is 10 laps on the school playground. I just made it a rule, I get up in the morning, I go run, however long it may take, however tired I was, I have to finish that 10k. Through that summer holiday, I lost quite a few pounds and when I come back to school, many were saying that I lost a lot of weight.

Tip #1:Don’t count on discipline, make it a ritual.

Like brushing your teeth, you don’t think about it every morning, you just do it. That’s what I did. Many would say that oh I can never make running a habit, I just don’t have that kind of discipline. For me, it is simple and brutal. Just do it. No excuse. Make it a ritual like brushing your teeth, you just do it without thinking about it.

JUST DO IT. Simple as that. Everyone starts somewhere, if you can only run 2 min then be it. Run 2 min, then you can walk 2min, maybe you have the strength to run again, then do another 2 min maybe. Next day you increase it to 3 min.

IMG_2248

Tip #2: Find a buddy, report everyday.

I don’t remember exactly how tired and out of breath I was when I started running. But I clearly remembered that I want to make sure that I report to my boyfriend everyday. I don’t want to miss one day. Everyday I want to be able to say that I have done the 4k, I am good.

Find someone who you really cares about, and who cares about you. Do it with them, or report to them everyday, or weekly, to have accountability.

IMG_2325

Tip #3: Find something you enjoy while running.

For me, music works. I just love listening to pop songs which make my blood pump. I also listen to podcasts while I run, it just makes running not so dreadful when you have some interesting materials to listen to. I will share what songs I listen to when I run, these are the jams! Podcasts that I listen to are Richroll podcast, Goodlife project, etc.

You can also run on trails in the woods, which is so refreshing and serene. You never get bored in the woods!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tip #4: Think about all the food!!

Running means calorie burned, means I need to refuel my body to better recover. If that’s not an incentive, I don’t know what is. Just think about that banana smoothie after your run! Creamy, chilly, sweet goodness!! Think about all the fruit you can eat, mango, papaya, watermelon, coconut water! Man I have to say Oh good heaven when I eat those juicy fruits! I also love baking, so I run and bake and eat. Works for me!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tip #5: Sign up for a race!

For me, the real deal all begins when I signed up for the New Orleans Jazz Half marathon. I started training according to plan seriously. I did my first race ever March 2014, which is a departmental 5k, which lead to the decision to run a half marathon. After I signed up for it, I really start to get serious about running. After the half, I had a little bit down moment for running. Then I came back full forth with the determination to run a full marathon.

SIGN UP for a race together with your best friend! That’s a sure good way to spend a Saturday morning. Sweaty and all excited!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tip #6: Take it slow.

Often times, we want the results too fast. On our first day of running we want to complete a 5K. And next thing you know, you have a sore leg that you can barely walk the next day. You stopped there, AGAIN. If we want to get there, we must take it slow, however much our body can take in. Don’t push too hard. It is the long shot, It is persistence that really matters. It is not just a week of running, or a month of running. It should be a life time commitment to exercise and an active life style.

30 day shred, 8min abs. I don’t buy it. Results come slowly, if you do it consistently it will come eventually. I don’t believe in losing 20 pounds in  2 months. I don’t think your body would like that. I believe in small changes that you keep for a life. Anything you believe that you can do it for your whole life, you should do that. If a diet plan or an exercise plan asked you to restrict your calorie intake to a minimal that you have so much craving, if it asked you to exercise more than 1h everyday, besides looking at all the sexy before and after pics, you should consider whether you can do it for the rest of your life, if you stopped restricting so much and exercising at the same time, think whether you will regain that 10 pounds back.

One step a time, take it slow, You will get there in no time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tip #7: It is about the mindset.

Healthy is not all about diet and exercise, it is also about your mind. I recently read something like: it is not the food that you eat are making you fat, but rather it is the thought that the food you eat would make you fat really does.

I am just struck when I read this. Really, if you enjoy every single bite of the bagel you eat, you smell the wheat, you love the simpleness of a bagel, how is that bad for you. Some people label food as good or bad. Banana is bad for too many calories, potato is bad for being too starchy, peanut butter is bad for the fat. But there is nothing wrong with all these food, these are all nature’s gift. I love my bananas, I like potatos, and peanut butter! If you sincerely enjoy the food that you are eating, take every bite with full appreciation, it is not going to make you fat!

At one point after my half marathon, I just ditched running. I don’t fancy the idea of running 3h alone. I believed that was crazy and it does no good to my body. But I got back to it with the mindset of giving it another shot. With no stress, just see how I feels. I loved it! The time running, is the time I have to myself. I know it makes me a happy person. Then it switched, I still have that losing weight mindset on the background I admit, but I start to look at more things than that. How far can I go, how fast can I go, how quick do I recover. There is much more than just the scale.

DO IT FOR YOURSELF. Don’t run because it is the craze now, Don’t run because you saw the before after pic of someone else. Don’t run because you think it make your friend think more of you. If you don’t like running, find something else to keep you active. You HAVE TO ENJOY IT!

IMG_2400

Please leave any comments below, I really want to connect with you guys! If you have any questions I would be happy happy to answer!