Sunday, September 30, 2012

Popeye-ing Pellegrino

Before and after study spot shots. Hawt, right? :P

Doing whatever it takes when it's worth it.. while drinking water!

For those of you who don't know, I work and I attend school.  It's a heavy load on both ends, especially at school, but I only have 80 days left. That's right, 80 days until I have a degree that's been a long time coming.  It'll be a fight to the end, and there will be a lot of lost sleep, excessive amounts of coffee and peptalks, venting, and stress.. but it is worth it.  I'll do my best to keep my sanity through exercise and sprinkles of self-indulgence, but my priority is finishing with flying colors!  This week, on top of regular work, I have 2 exams coming up so I naturally forgot everything else on my schedule.  Last night I got a reminder email for a facial today that was too late to cancel, so I went today instead of getting in a workout.  It was so worth it!  50 minutes of relaxing recuperation and now I feel rejuvenated.  The aesthetician said my skin was very dehydrated and that I need to work on drinking more water and using a more intense moisturizer.  I'll be switching moisturizers very soon, as well as working on the H2O intake, and report soon!  It is even possible that my recent headaches are due to dehydration as well, so I gotta get on that.  It's not as easy to twist open a tall bottle of water on a chilly autumn day; I'd rather pour myself a tall mug of coffee!  But there are some serious reasons to fight that urge, including (but not limited to):

  • improved digestion & metabolism
  • healthier skin, hair and nails 
  • detoxification of the body
  • joint protection
  • improved organ function
  • body temperature regulation
  • improved brain function

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hard workout Headaches

Happy weekend everyone!  So many holidays today- it's Korean thanksgiving and International Coffee day!  Unfortunately, I have 2 huge exams coming up this week so I'm stuck indoors studying for most of it.  I did get in a hard workout this morning and I have a cold-like headache now.  Tried caffeine just a minute ago, so hopefully that'll help.  It occurred to me however that this isn't just a fluke.  I've noticed regular headaches after hard workouts, so I did a little research.

As it turns out, exercise should alleviate, not trigger headaches.  Most headaches occur due to the inflammation of blood vessels surrounding the brain, which then stretch out the underlying nerves and sends waves of pain.  While regular exercise can diminish this response through endorphin boosts and by improving blood flow to the brain (which minimizes blood vessel inflammation), some people do experience effort-induced migraine headaches which are triggered by intense exercise.  These exertion-related headaches can last anywhere between 5 minutes to 48 hours, but if they persist, you should see your doctor (I will be doing that!).  The majority of headaches post your sweat session can be prevented and alleviated with the following tips:

  • better hydration before, during and after your workout
  • warming up slowly and cooling down gradually after your workout
  • sufficient sleep
  • proper breathing during your workout
  • cold packs to your head or neck to alleviate head pain
  • less caffeine and no alcohol before or after exercise
  • temperature accommodations and apparel to prevent overheating 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Turn Around Tuesday

First of all, I apologize for the vent yesterday.  It was such a humiliating and exhausting day, that I had so much steam to get out!  Second, I finished the assignment for today and I'm determined to turn things around today.  I got a good 6 hours of sleep, a great workout in this morning, submitted my assignment and I'm back to work now.  The past 24 hours has made me think that a step-by-step Plan of Attack on Stress might be useful. Stress is inevitable and we can't always take all the necessary measures to prevent it.  Either life happens or things take longer than we had hoped, or natural, human laziness kicks in.  So here are a few steps to take when you get to that breaking point:

1. Ask yourself, what 1 or 2 things do you have due tomorrow (or your soonest deadline)? Just focus on 1 at a time, in order of imminence.  

2. After completing that (or those) task(s), try to get some sleep.  Whether it's 2 hours or more, rest is rest.  It'll help.  After that rest, jump in the shower, and indulge in a strong coffee.  You'll need it. 

3. If you have time, either before or after work, force yourself to get to the gym.  Remind yourself that the voice in your head that says you'd be better off going home to rest, is wrong!  

4. At the end of the day, take out a healthy & balanced meal.  Whether it's a wrap full of chicken and veggies from the neighborhood Deli, or a steamed chicken and vegetables with brown rice from your local Chinese takeout joint, just pick it up and bring it home.  Not only do you deserve it, but chances are, if you don't, you'll eat whatever is least healthy and easiest to throw together at home.  Even if your refrigerator is chalk full of healthy foods, there are so many ways to make healthy foods unhealthy when you're exhausted and hungry.  

5. List the next few things you have to do.  Let the cycle start over.  Each subsequent cycle will become gradually less stressful and more rewarding.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Manic Monday

UGH, what a tough day.  First day of the week is always a toughie but today was hard.  I was up until 4am this morning working on an assignment due today, back up at 7:30am to down a French press, and  finish the assignment and shuttle my butt into the city.  Had meetings ALL day, and after downing TWO artic zeros in the car, and then a few spoons of peanut butter with a sweet potato when I finally got home, I'm back at my desk, ready to start another assignment due by tomorrow.  Yea.. I wish I had done a better job in the diet department because a workout is just not looking feasible today.  Hm.. maybe if I'm efficient, I can squeeze in something?

So here's the (ideal) plan of attack for tonight:

8:30pm -12:30am Attack this Assignment
12:30am-1:30am Change, Weights
1:30am-2:30am Shower, Change
2:30-6:30am Sleep


6:30-7:30am Coffee, Pack my things, get to the gym
7:30-10am 45 min Cybex, 45 min Jogging, Shower
10-2pm Breakfast, Get to the city, meetings
2-5pm Lunch, Work on assignments for Wednesday
5-6:30pm Stretch Class nearby, Shower
6:30-9pm Dinner, Finish assignments for Wednesday
9-10pm Home, Wash up
10-7am Sleep

I have Jury Duty on Friday so that makes this week a 4 day week, so after tomorrow, I'll be halfway through!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Back on the workout wagon

Yesterday I got myself into the gym again for a training session, and hot d@mn, my entire body is feeling it today.  It's a good sore and I'm feeling awesome though. After some intense studying I want to get back in for some cardio later today.  Yay, back on the workout wagon!

In other news, I have been trying out a new combination of cleansers:

In the AM, Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

The reason for the change from the Neutrogena Grapefruit cleanser (which has been doing cleanser) is the change in skin needs due to the change of seasons.  With the onset of fall, and cooler temperatures, I needed deeper moisturizer but in order to get full penetration of a good moisturizer and minimal breakouts, you need a good deep cleanse.  This combination may be a little strong for some people, but it has sloughed off a lot of dead cells and kept my skin clean and clear.  I'm currently testing out new toners so I'll update you after a more thorough trial period!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Happy Fall Goals

Happy official first day of fall everybody!  With the harsher winds in Boston lately, I've felt it coming just around the corner and now it's actually here.  It's a wonderful time of year in New England, with the changing leaves, the pleasant running temperatures, orange-red seasonal colors, pumpkin and squash-containing foods and drinks, and people wearing tweed and wool.  What's more, it is officially 100 days until 2013 which stands for some celebration and... goal-setting.  Here are my goals.  Plan of action will come in the next post.

1. Finish classes, take GRE, apply for grad school

2. Lose 10 lbs

3. Run a short-distance race for charity

4. Volunteer more

5. Visit Chicago once more. 

6. Go out on 3 dates.

What are your goals?

Friday, September 21, 2012


A lovely Friday surprise: My GlossyBox!

It was shockingly light at first but it blended in 3 minutes later!

It has a light, liquidy texture and blends into your skin quickly, with no sticky residue.  

It has a mild, vanilla-ish scent and thick consistency.  I'll let you know how it works.  
**Edit: Just tried this lovely shampoo/conditioner duo.  The shampoo smells more coconut-y in the shower and it lathers up really nicely without being too harsh. I should note that I have sensitive hair follicles; harsh shampoos tend to result in massive amounts of hair falling out right in the shower.  The conditioner was almost scentless and my hair held on it pretty well (I hate the ones that are so liquidy that it just runs through your hair!).  Result of this duo was refreshed, and moisturized hair ! 

Lipstick in "Glossy Pink" by Glossybox
At first it looked a little too purply for my taste but when applied it has a much more mauve-y tint.  I'll let you know about drying and staying power with some use. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What's in my purse?

I'm not the girliest of girls but there are a few things I always keep in my handbag.  First off all my go-to-hand bag is this small tote from Pleats Please by Issey Miyake that I picked up a few years ago in Japan:

It's so handy - it fits a lot more than it looks, it can be dressed up or down, pretty much water proof, light-weight, foldable, and everyone doesn't carry it around.  

And here are the items that I always keep in it:

  • Umbrella
  • Red case containing tampons, travel tooth brush & paste, hair elastics, 2 tylenol, sample of lotion, mini bottle of eye drops, sample of perfume and 2 bandaids
  • Iphone charger
  • Headphones
  • Wallet by Fendi (Christmas present)
  • Smith's Rosebud Salve- good for lip balm, cuts, blisters, dry skin (so multipurpose!)
  • Handy fold-up grocery bag
  • Handkerchief (present from mom)
What do you keep in your bag?


As if it weren't obvious already, I've been in a bit of a rut during the past few days.  I watched more movies than I have in the past several years, countless tv show re-runs, and consumed couch potato foods like air (ramen, chips, guac, popcorn, junk).  Not only am I feeling a little antsy (actually, almost stressed out by my laziness), but I have too much to do to let this linger any longer.  This morning, I took advantage of the cool Massachusetts breeze, opened windows and let out the stuffy air in exchange for fresh air.  I brewed myself a delicious pot of coffee, cooked a few eggs on toast, fed and let out my dog, and here I am.  I apologize for my empty blog posts. I debated posting anything and I probably shouldn't have.  I am not sure what brought on this funk but I'm back.  On this note however, I know I'm not the only one to fall into funks like this (and this certainly isn't my first) so I've got some tips on how to 'get back into life': 

1. Take out all the trash. Start the laundry.  Do the dishes.  Open your windows, ventilate (weather-permitting)
I know this sounds silly, but these sorts of physical & external changes can often help the inside.  The idea is to get out the old, lazy & dirty, and to bring in the new, optimistic & fresh.  

2. Wash your face, brush  your teeth, take a shower.  Get dressed. Smile. 
Sounds superficial, right? All these things can help.  Looking less disheveled will help you take the day more seriously.  I know you might have wasted a few days, but just let those go.  Today is a new day.  Smile - you have a fresh start.  

3. Make a plan. Have a start time and an end time.
Write down a list of things to do, and number them in order of how you'll tackle them.  Just like a job, have a starting time and a finishing time. You can't 'do things' 24 hours a day.  Everyone needs decompression time.  We aren't energizer bunnies. 

4. Get out of the house.
Sometimes, the first and most important step is leaving the environment that got you in a funk in the first place.  Whether it means leaving for 30 min to take out the dog, going to the gym, going out for coffee, or to see friends, just leave the house for a bit.  Even if you had a break from your life for a little while, you actually need a break from the house too.  

5. Take breaks
You can't go from being Couch potato Susie to Superwoman without a few breaks in between.  Go out and get your nails done.  Take a bath with a glass of wine.  Have a rumble in the hay with your hubbie.  Go for a yoga or meditation class.  Call a girlfriend up and gab. 

6. Go to sleep.
At the end of the day, if you want to keep from digging yourself into another rut, you need to rest and renew.  So, put on the PJ's and go to bed!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Movie Ratings, Scale: 0 (worst) -10 (best)

Your Sister's Sister, Overall Rating: 3/10
Comedy: 5
Classic: 6
Acting: 6

What to Expect When You're Expecting, Overall Rating: 3/10
Comedy: 3
Classic: 3
Acting: 3

Five Year EngagementOverall Rating: 5/10
Comedy: 5
Classic: 6
Acting: 4

Darling CompanionOverall Rating: 1/10
Comedy: 3
Classic: 2
Acting: 4

ButterOverall Rating: 2/10
Comedy: 3
Classic: 4
Acting: 6

BacheloretteOverall Rating: 3/10
Comedy: 4
Classic: 2
Acting: 4

Think Like a ManOverall Rating: 3/10
Comedy: 3
Classic: 3
Acting: 3

Salmon Fishing in YemenOverall Rating: 6/10
Comedy: 5
Classic: 5
Acting: 6

WanderlustOverall Rating: 4/10
Comedy: 5
Classic: 3
Acting: 4

A Little Bit of HeavenOverall Rating: 2/10
Comedy: 2
Classic: 2
Acting: 2

New Years EveOverall Rating: 1/10
Comedy: 3
Classic: 2
Acting: 2

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The last few days have been a crazy few (hence, the absence from the blog) but I'm back!  I've decided to make new dinner dishes daily for 10 days.  I started last night, but I was exhausted after a long day (5am to 7pm!) so I just whipped together a stir fry consisting of: stir fry veggies by dole (these are so easy and keep for a good week!), 3/4 cup of cage-free organic egg whites by Abbotsford Farms, prechopped onions, 1 cup of leftover cold brown rice, and 1 Tablespoon of Korean spicy pepper paste (gochujang).  Came out looking like:

It totally hit the spot.  Not sure what's in store for tonight but I'll keep you updated!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tough Monday

I apologize if this turns out to be a bit of a whine-sesh, but oh boy it's been a long Monday.  It started at 4:50 am when I woke up early for my 5am alarm clock.  (Yea, I don't know what's wrong with me either).  I took out the dog, got dressed, packed my things, had my bowl of Kashi Go Lean with a cup of my new Coconut Milk Almond Milk Blend by Blue Diamond, and was out the door by 6am.  I had a presentation to give at 11am, so I did a few run throughs, snacked on a banana and a bag of Dark Chocolate flavor Almonds since I knew I wouldn't have a chance to eat until after 2pm.  Finally I had a half hour break to grab a quick roast chicken wrap at Sebastian's in Cambridge (jeeez, they are slow!!) before I had to get to my next appointment.  I got to the library around quarter of 5, to study but I was craving food (again!) so I grabbed a salad bar mix and half a pita.  Pretty pathetico.  It's only 5:30 and I'm ready to call it a day!

Oh boo for Mondays- they feel so long.  And it's only the start of the week!

Controlling portions

Since my Friday post on weight loss, I haven't yet fully committed to all the responsibilities of weight loss but I did try to clean up my act a little.  I was honest with myself about the portions that I was eating (which were out of proportion!), and tried to take it down a notch.  There wasn't a full scale change, but I just limited the amount I was eating.  For example, instead of a snack consisting of baked pita chips, low fat microwave popcorn and fruit, I went with just fruit and half the popcorn; instead of eating  2 wraps and a salad, I kept it to 1 wrap and a latte, that sorta thing.  After 3 days I feel much better, despite having less time to exercise.  I stepped on the scale this morning, weighing in at 128.6.  Yes, people, that is 1.6 lbs less than before, and I weighed myself at the same time.  Sure, it may partially be water weight, but it's still a loss!  I'm definitely motivated to keep my portions in control, but I haven't yet decided on a full fledge diet/lifestyle overhaul.  My plan is to watch my portions for the next few weeks, see what results I achieve and decide accordingly.

Now, limiting portions with a big appetite is not easy.  After 1 wrap and a latte, I still have room for more (I'm used to having more!).  Here are a few tips I've learned recently:

  • Wear a belt - I know, it sounds silly, but having loose pants on puts you into comfy, watching-TV mode and it's harder to recognize when you're fill; on the other hand, when you wear a belt, you will feel that tightness around your waist when you've eaten your fill.    
  • Drink more water - Obvious, but often neglected habit.  Frequently people mistake their thirst for hunger.  Keep drinking the H2O to avoid that.  Plus, it's great for the skin and your entire body!
  • Eat slower - It takes time for your brain to recognize fullness: a good 15-20 minutes.  Even if you down a full meal in 5 minutes, your brain might not receive the message until a little later.  Eat a little slower, chew a little more, and this way, your brain and your stomach will be in better sync. 
  • Snack - Carry a banana and a small pack of nuts with you.  Snacks will quell the sudden hunger pangs and protein-filled snacks will hold you over till your next meal. These 100-calorie nuts are awesome. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Healthy Substitutes

Whether you grew up in Europe or in Japan, we all have indulgences that aren't exactly healthy -whether it's because it is carb/fat/sodium-laden or otherwise.

Here are common cravings and healthier alternatives:

 1. Instead of a 870 calorie shake from Johnny Rockets

Make yourself a thick mocha smoothie of the following ingredients:

- 1 packet of Mocha flavored Click Protein Powder (120 cal)
- a couple ice cubes

2. Instead of a 380 slice of thin-crust cheese pizza from Upper Crust

Toast the following under the broiler:

- 1 wholegrain Tortilla by Food for Life (150 cal)
- a few slices of tomato (15 cal)
- sprinkle of fresh basil (~0 cal)

3. Instead of Golden pancakes at the local breakfast eatery

Mix up the following & cook it up in a pan:

- 2 egg whites (30 cal)
- 1/2 mashed up banana (45 cal)
- 1 scoop of generic protein powder, for ex the powder by CVS (140 cal)
- 2 spoons of  Blue Diamond Unsweetened Almond milk (5 cal)
- sprinkle of cinnamon

4.  Instead of a 6 piece Chicken McNuggets (280 cal):

-chop up half of a skinless chicken breast (4oz) into bite-size pieces (110 cal)
-dip them all into 2 egg whites (30 cal)
- mix in a separate bowl: 2 Tbsp quick oats (~40 cal) with 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour (50 cal)
- spray some nonstick spray into a cooking pan
- dip the chicken pieces into the flour mixture, and cook

You get the idea, but if any readers want some more substitution recipes, just let me know.

New-agey drink

After my morning workout, I had to drop by Wholefoods to pick up a few things for lunch when I noticed a strange new drink by the Bragg Company.  I use their apple cider vinegar all the time in my salad dressings, so I thought I'd give their drink a try.

First of all, the price tag on this thing was $2.69.  Uh yea, not worth it.
Second, it has sweetener in it.  Agh! I only noticed this when I was halfway through it, at which point I didn't want to waste any, so I drank it all.
Third, it basically tasted like their apple cider vinegar, diluted in water, and drowned with a ton of sweetener.

So it suffices to say- I will not be repurchasing this one again.

However, after perusing their website, I'm definitely interested in their "Sea Kelp Delight Dressing" and their Nutritional Yeast, so I requested free samples (give it a try if you're interested!).

It takes the first step

Like a lot of you out there, I have a little 'extra' in the belly/hip area and I'm ready to get rid of it!  Weight loss (at least for me) is no fling though- it takes serious commitment, planning and follow through; otherwise, you shouldn't be surprised when you see the same number on the scale.  For a few weeks now, I've been brainstorming ways to structure a healthy weight loss plan and garnering the balls to step on my scale.  I literally avoided looking in the direction of this thing:

Until Yesterday.  I finally stepped up to the plate.  What I read wasn't actually as bad as I thought: 130.2.  I thought I had put on several more and was up to ~134-136.  I've developed a lot of muscle mass over the summer so I guess all that muscle burned up my massive caloric intake- yay!  Still, it doesn't undermine the fact that my comfortable weight is around 115 lbs.  I'm only 5' 2" and 130 lbs isn't huge by any means but it certainly doesn't feel like "me."  Everyone has their "comfortable" or "healthy" weight and sometimes it's over or under statistics.  I believe being at that weight which feels personally right for you is perfectly fine as long as it's achieved through healthy means.

So the reality now is I have 15 lbs to lose.  Many folks might think that's not too bad and I can easily do that by the year's end.  My reality however is that with my roller-coaster-diet-ridden history, my metabolism is a little j@cked up, and it's going to take a lot more work.  I need to feed my body the right things at the right times in the right quantities, continuously and without fail or excuses.  The truth is I have my self-doubts.  I'm pretty good about exercising but the food part is where I get stumped.  I know nutrition to the T, but my achilles heel is being self-controlled not to pig out and diligent enough in preparing my eats for the following day, every day.  No skipped day(s).  That's what it's going to take.  There is just no denying that.

So the question now is: How badly do I want it?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Moving on after a breakup

Today I'll be sharing something personal with you.  A little over a year ago, I broke up with a guy with whom I'd been sharing my life for over two years.  We had been having issues for some time, so maybe it shouldn't have lasted so long, but nonetheless, we had some very good times and went through a lot together.  During the span of our relationship, my mother got sick twice with tumors, my paternal grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer disease and forgot who I am, a close family friend and both my maternal grandparents passed away.  Yea, a lot.  Considering how much we had gone through, I knew he and I weren't right for one another.  Not only was there a glaring, 10-year age difference, cultural divide, but most importantly, we came to realize we had divisively contrasting opinions on key life views/issues such as the role of family (parents and siblings), career ambitions, work ethic and optimism/pessimism.  We never betrayed one another but knew that if we kept trying to make the relationship work, we would betray ourselves.  The break up was made even more painful when a side of him I had never seen or known surfaced.  He began stalking me, and dragging out the break up.  Initially I pleaded him to stop his behavior, but eventually I had to put my foot down and be much more stern.  During this time, I lost a lot of trust in my own 'people-skills'; I couldn't believe how wrong I had been about him, and that this side of him had ever been there.  It goes without saying, I wasn't in any position to date anyone for a while.  Any date I was asked out on, I turned down.  I said was very busy with work, but that wasn't the real reason why I couldn't and wouldn't. 

Now, over a year later, an old acquaintance has asked me out and I realize, I am no longer immediately repulsed by the prospect of getting back out there.  A year can seem like a long time but guess what, that's what it took.  I'm not sure if I'm going to take him up on his offer but I'm certainly considering it.  So guys and girls, give yourself time.  Not only is there  no quick fix but also the grief from the failed relationship doesn't just stop when you find someone new.  It takes time to let the wound heal, to come to appreciate the scar and then be able to face a whole new world of opportunities. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What do you eat for breakfast?

You know what they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, except... when it's a sugar and fat-ridden pastry like a donut, muffin, croissant, or scone.   Although it is important to eat within an hour of waking up, if your only option is a sugary and/or fatty option, then skip it and wait for a better option.  As long as you have options though, try to go for something with protein and a lower glycemic index; here are some healthy breakfast options:

At home:

1. Oatmeal: Steel-cut oats are great but instant will do when in a pinch; top it with a few tablespoons of nuts, dried/fresh fruit and maybe a little honey/agave (if you need a little extra sweetness).

2. Greek yogurt with fruit  and again a little honey/agave (optional).  It takes no heating up, and it's easy to whip up.

3. Sprouted whole grain bread with some nut butter.  You can easily eat it in the car or in the bus, and it'll keep you roaring for a while.

4. Egg white veggie omelet.  If you have a little more time for breakfast and crave something more savory, try a veggie omelet and hold the cheese if you can.  Go easy on the salt and ketchup (if you use it), and try out new flavors in the form of a little hot sauce, peppers or herbs.

5. Pancakes. Yes, you heard that right, pancakes.   Just keep out the white flour and butter.  Try a mix of whole wheat flour, protein powder, egg whites, almond milk and a little olive oil.  Add a little mashed up banana, apple sauce or even pumpkin puree- whatever you're craving!

At Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts/Another coffee bar:

1. Whole grain bagel with light cream cheese or peanut butter.  Just eat half of the bagel; they're loaded with carbs!

2. Nonfat milk/ Soy milk Latte with a banana.  You get protein from the milk and healthy carbs from the fruit.

At a diner:

1. Egg whites, turkey/canadian bacon with some dry whole wheat toast.  Make sure to ask for it "dry"; otherwise, most diners add generous amounts of butter before serving it to you.

2. Oatmeal with toppings on the side.  I specify "on the side"; otherwise, they often dump way too much stuff onto the oatmeal, making the meal actually unhealthy.

Now, I only listed healthy options here but remember unhealthier options are okay too but make sure to limit the amount and the frequency.  You've gotta indulge once in a while; you're human!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Handling Stress

Woooaahh yea, this is a large topic.  We all have stress in our lives, and sometimes stress escalates even though you do your best to handle it.  This is all normal and human.  Reacting poorly and not handling stress well all the time is human.  When it gets to that explosive point, recovery from our poor behavior is the only thing we can control.  That begins with forgiving yourself for getting that stressed out, and then to apologizing to whomever you may have lashed out on and finding a solution to the stress.  I should note that not every stress-causing problem has an immediate solution, but you can dissolve the stress- whether that's through getting involved in a new activity like volunteering, becoming more spiritual, pampering yourself, or seeking out friendly support.  A change in perspective will naturally help you see that stress-causing problem differently.  The hardest part is forcing yourself to get out of your rut of stress escalating misery and getting yourself out there.  However, when there is a solution to your problem, repeat to yourself, you can do this and start with step 1 towards the solution.  Oftentimes, a change of scenery can help.  For example, if it's refinancing you have to tackle, take all of your paperwork to the local library, or to a new room in your house.

Today, I had a very stressful day- I consulted my advisor regarding grad schools.  I'm super eager to apply but he wasn't very optimistic; actually, he was pretty pessimistic.  It felt like a hard blow to my spirits, but after the meeting, I tried to figure out what other resources I had.  Subsequently, I went to another appointment I had, but by the end of that, I was wiped.  Mind you, it was only 3:30 in the afternoon.  I knew I had to get away from it all, at least for a brief moment, before I re-faced everything my advisor had laid out on the table.  The result of this decision to 'get away' was this:

I went home satisfied, talked with my family a bit about what happened, and now I'm ready to handle it.  It doesn't always go so hunky-dory, but I'm telling you, sometimes it works.  So ladies, don't always be so hard on yourself; treat yourself during your most trying times- sometimes the silliest things work.  

Back to school

Post- Labor day, many of us are back to school.  It means not only the start of late-night homework and exam-study sessions, but also amplified levels of stress, unhealthy eating, abandoned exercise habits and dearly-missed sleep.  Procrastination happens, but even in rare and almost bizarre scenarios, where it doesn't, time seems to be a huge deficit.  No student is perfect and has a 100% smooth-sailing semester (even if some might pretend to), but we can all try to make it less horrible.  Here are some tips:

1.  Once you get all of your course schedules, write down all their deadlines and exam dates into one calendar.  This is crucial so you won't be less than pleasantly surprised later on.  Add personal appointments and dates to this calendar, such as family and friends birthdays, long weekends, celebrations, etc.  Girls, add your 'cycle dates' to this calendar as well.  It will help you gauge when you'll be most cranky and exhausted, and prepare in advance for your natural biological tendencies. 

2.  Organize, organize, organize.  I can't stress this enough.  Having the dates all laid out into a calendar is only a small part of your organization.  You should have separate folders, binders, or files (however you need or prefer to organize them) for each of your subjects.  Within each binder/folder, you should have subfolders for notes, handouts, homework assignments, practice exams, and actual exams.  

3.  Be your own secretary.  When you are a student, you don't have an assistant to tell you when to do what, and where to be.  You need to do this for yourself.  You don't need to have every second of every day planned out, but try to have every hour planned out for all your weekdays.  Include class time, time to meet your advisor(s), professors, TA's, commute time, exercise time, personal cleaning/shower/self-care, and most importantly, sleep time.  Figure out when you are most efficient at studying- is it the early morning hours, or are you a night owl?  Schedule accordingly.  You can make a rough schedule for half your weekend, but leave the other half unplanned.  Trust me, you will need that 'nothing' time- even if you just end up sleeping through it.  

4. Set rewards for your diligence and good work ethic.  Whether it's a manicure/pedicure, hair day or watching/attending a show/movie/concert, having a 'goal' in mind will help you use your 'work' time more efficiently since you'll have a 'reward' in mind for the end of the week.  

5. Breathe and stretch.  There will inevitably be times where despite your best efforts to plan and stick to that plan, that it doesn't work out.  When (and notice, I say 'when' and not 'if') this happens, stop and close all your books.  Step away from your work.  Stretch for 15-30 minutes and take in as many deep breathes as you can.  If you're not a stretcher, try walking around campus or the neighborhood.  Take the full 30 minutes but don't take any longer.  When you return to your work, focus on smaller increments of 'to-do's' and just focus on one at a time.  Remember, you may not feel like you can do this but you can certainly tackle that small subsection.  Just tackle that.  

6. Take 5-10 minutes at the end of each day, to clean up your study area and book bag.  This will prevent clutter and whether you believe it or not, outer order will help hamper internal stress.  It's only 5-10 minutes. Take the time. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

C'mon, let's talk about our Aunt Flo

C'mon ladies, there's no denying it.  We all have our premenstrual and ovulation symptoms- whether it's un-thwart-able craving attacks, alien-like bloating, Cruella moods, or migrainy headaches.  I admit to all of the above.  Any men (or women) reading this blog, don't be scared & run away; get educated and respect the female system.  All of us women, who are still ovulating, have healthy fluctuations in hormones.  The effects of said fluctuations, are no easier for those around us than they are for us.  Many of us figure out ways to diminish the side effects, sometimes via prescription drugs or change in diet; however, even those of us who do our best to handle our symptoms, have off-days or cycles.

Now, for the ladies: people, even our closest girlfriends, often vent just about our periods and premenstrual symptoms; rarely do we discuss ovulation symptoms.  If you are easily grossed out, don't continue reading; otherwise, keep going:

When we ovulate, we experience change in cervical fluid, increase in basal body temperature,  and changes in the cervical position or firmness.  Hormonally:  Our Luteal hormone, estradiol, progesterone, and follicular stimulating hormones all spike up during our ovulation, which is typically around day 14 of our cycle.  These are major changes to endure each month but extremely important if we are trying to get pregnant.  Nonetheless, some unpleasant side effects of all these changes include light spotting, cramping, breast tenderness, abdominal bloating, increased sex drive and heightened sense of smell, taste or vision.

When we have our periods, our pituitary gland (in our brains) sends chemical signals to our ovaries, which then produce their hormones.  In order for all this to happen, they must have sufficient cholesterol and body fat.  Periods not only signify reproductive health, but they also prove we are producing sufficient levels of estrogen (which is important in bone-building in young women), and androgens (including testosterone- which women need as well as men).   Knowing all this should help you respect your body more; however, it's important to learn how to handle our periods.  When you first start menstruating, it may be irregular (meaning it doesn't arrive every n number of days); it may take up to 2 years for it to become regular.  For a woman who is already menstruating, irregularity in cycle arises for a variety of reasons: most commonly, it is pregnancy; otherwise, it is anorexia, intense dieting and/or intense exercising, or pituitary or thyroid irregularities.  For that reason, it's important to follow your period, for regularity and consult your doctor when you skip a period or it becomes irregular.  I personally use the iPhone app, Period Tracker Lite, which is free!  Don't be scarred to consult your doctor or nurse practitioner; I've skipped and had irregular periods from time to time, and they've turned out to be nothing (but it's better to be safe than sorry!)

Diet-wise, it is important point to note that when we have our periods, we lose quite a bit of iron.  It's good to take an iron supplement or a multivitamin that will supplement your diet with sufficient iron.  My multivitamin actually covers me on that front.  Food-based forms of iron include beef and chicken.

Now, I know having your period is not the most pleasant experience, but it is a small miracle of biology which signifies health and fertility.  Try to appreciate it!  Power to us women!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Goals for the Rest of 2012

As the summer-chapter of this year comes to a close today, I have new goals on the mind.  Resolutions &goals are usually set at the start of each year, with the drop of the Times Square ball, but that's just custom.  There isn't anything keeping us from setting resolutions now, approximately 2/3rd of the way through 2012.  So here are my "Last-4-Months-of-2012 Resolutions":

1. Drink 1.5 L H2O per day

Currently, I'm not a huge water drinker.  I used to drink tons of Diet coke, but since cutting that out, I have been drinking way too little fluid.  I will take a bottle of Smart Water with me to the gym, but that's about it.  Drinking water has a ton a benefits from improved digestion to better moods and healthier skin, so I'm determined to take in more. I just bought a dozen 1L bottles and 6 1.5L bottles, so you better be I'll be drinking more everyday.  Cheers!

2. No more shopping 

If there's anything I could have concluded from the closet cleaning project a few days ago, it is that I don't need anymore clothes! Maybe a few staples like a nice white button up and class, straight cut blue jeans, but I'm going to try and do without those for the next few months.  I'm officially on an extra- clothing & beauty items shopping boycott. Hold me to it!

3. Blog at least 5x/week

I know I just started this blog, but I want to keep it growing, and potentially network with other bloggers and readers!  I've seen the traffic increase but I would love to eventually see some comments.  

4. Lose my extra weight

As I mentioned in a "becoming healthier post," I have approximately 10-15 extra pounds on my frame. I'm nowhere near obese or unhealthily overweight, but I definitely could do without the 'extra.'  I know it would improve my energy, athletic performance and mood, so it's not just about vanity; however, I am a girl, and I want to look good in my clothes!  I had a very basic idea of how I'd lose the weight in the earlier post, but I'll become more specific in another one coming up.

5.  Get my outfit(s) ready the night before/in advance

I have more than enough clothes but I probably have about 6 items on constant repeat.  I have no time to look around and try different things on in the morning, so I just grab whatever I know is comfortable and fits.  It's such a waste of clothing to let them sit in your closet, so I'm going to prepare my outfit the night before.

6. Make new friends

A subject that I'll get to later is friendship and betrayals.   I recently experienced a disappointing burn & betrayal by a group of my closest girlfriends, which cast me on a trip of self-doubt, insecurity and trust issues.  I'm determined to make new friends and cultivate healthier, more mature, trusting relationships during the remaining four months of this year.

7. Engage in more meal time with family & friends

With busier-than-ever schedules, my family often eats in shifts.  Even when I'm home, I'll eat before them because I feel I need to get to some of my own work, which results in me not getting to see or break bread with them until the weekend.  Not only do I miss the shared time and ritual with my family, but I also find myself eating less healthy, not well-rounded meals.  I am determined to be more meal-oriented, per my own suggestion in a previous post.

8. Apply for grad schools

I've been working at the same job with the same employer for several years and I'm ready to move up and out of this stage of my life by attending grad school.  It'll be a crazy couple of months of applications but I'm determined and I will put everything I've got into it!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Best of August

I was going to summarize my day yesterday (did a lot actually!), but I don't want to bore you with minute details of my life; instead, I'll turn to a very popular topic of choice in the blog-osophere and youtube-osophere, which is that of the best of the summer.

By 'best' I will be referring to, all best moments, best products, best foods.  OK, pretty much, all the best memories of the month.  Here we go:

1. Filet mignon at Capital Grille

(sorry, bad phone picture!)

I enjoyed this twice dring the month of August. Once at the Chicago branch and once at the Boston branch; both, lovely!!   

2. Massage at Bella Sante of Wellesley.
Holy Cow, I felt like a different person after this place!

This was AWESOME.  Cirque du Soleil performers are amazingly talented!  

4. New product discovery: Caudalie beauty elixir.
This stuff is now a holy grail item for me.  Not sure how it works but my skin looks so vibrant an beams when I use it. 

5. New watch by Alessi from my brother for my birthday

6. Being done with my MCAT on August 10th!

7. Volumizing shampoo and conditioner by Rahua

I've tried both the regular and volumizing versions of the shampoo & conditioners, and love them both.   They are safe for colored hair, 100% natural and organic, and last a long time (I've used half each container over 3 weeks now!)  They have a refreshing rainforest-y scent, similar to that of Neutrogena's Refreshing Shower and Bath Gel.   Most importantly, your hair will be shining in days! (one more hair-related item coming up!)

I haven't gotten sick since June when I started taking them and my hair has gotten shiner and I've noticed much less hair fallout ever since starting on these multivitamins! They are a bit pricey but there's nothing more important than taking care of your health, and vitamins inject a huge amount of supplementary nutrition to your diet; might as well make that injection good for you!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cleaning the closet

Much of yesterday afternoon and evening was spent cleaning the closet.  Yep, it was one hell of a way to start off labor day weekend!  

I knew I had more than a few things I needed to let go of- some just to throw away and others to donate or sell.  

OK, I won't make anyone use their imagination.  This is a photo of all the contents of my closet before. 

Now let me defend myself.  I've held on to things that I've had since the start of high school.  I'm not sure that I'd call myself a hoarder (some justifiably might!) but the truth is, I haven't kept these things out of pure attachment.  I've occasionally used most of these things at  one point or another throughout the years because I haven't changed height or approximate size since then!  Yea, it's true. I stopped growing around the ripe old age of 13 standing at 5' 2.5"  

After a laborious 5 hours of separating the keeps from the not-keeps, switching out the wire hangers for these pretty ones from Container store, adding a few cube-shelves (similar to these from Target), putting my boxless shoes in clear shoes boxes (also from the Container store- only $33.80/20 boxes!), labeling all the shoes boxes, my closet ended up looking like this!

Beautiful, right?  

In the end, I had 4 Wholefoods bags packed full of clothing to donate, and 3 large Neiman Marcus bags of items to sell.  

Absolute, cathartic, craziness. I hope all these items end up going to people who need them much more than I did!

Now, I'm off to an interval training session at the gym.  Have a wonderful day everybody!