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“The world is a book and those who don’t travel realy only one page.” ~St. Augustine~

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“Isn’t it mysterious to begin a new journal like this? I can run my fingers through the fresh clean pages but I cannot guess what the writing on them will be.”
~Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy in Spite of Herself~

I’m ECSTATIC this week to blog about me and Jerry’s new food journal that he gave me as an early birthday present!  For the longest time, Jerry and I have talked about keeping a journal regarding the adventures we take since we love going on road trips and trying out different foods that each city has to offer.  Throughout the years, we’ve gone to some really cool places; however, we never wrote down where we went.  As you know, as you get older, your memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be, so we were finding ourselves having those little “arguments” trying to recall the names of the restaurants we’ve been to along with where exactly it was located.  After many of these wonderful “arguments”, I decided to be proactive and began to search for food journals but not one where a person keeps track of what he or she eats daily but rather a food journal of restaurants that me and Jerry have visited.  Much to my dismay and frustration, I could not find a journal that had what we wanted.  Finally after some time of searching, I went on Etsy and found a lady that made journals from vintage books.  The really cool thing about her was that she customized journals from the type of book we wanted along with sections of areas we wanted to visit but the best thing about her was that all proceeds go to her teaching other people how to up-cycle and rebind old books  After showing Jerry the work she did, he was pretty impressed with her especially since he was very skeptical about it at first especially the price of the journal.  Since I told Jerry that this is what I wanted for my birthday, he decided to go ahead and work with the lady to come up with a design for our journal.  After a couple of weeks, we got our journal and I can honestly say that I’m absolutely in love with it!  The journal is made from The Travels of Marco Polo, and it contains five sections consisting of USA, Great Britain, Italy, Vietnam, and Food for Thought which will be used as a reference of future restaurants we want to visit.  Each section is divided by maps of the countries we selected.  Our dream and goal is to be able to visit these countries together since one of us has been to all of the places.  We love to travel but have never been able to share that experience of going abroad together, so I think it’s really cool that we have a journal that can be a visual reminder of us to work hard towards that goal.

This week we will be going to Dallas, so we will be able to use our food journal for the first time!  People may think of us as odd for keeping a food journal, but we are a couple that LOVES food and not just any type of foods.  We love going to unique ones where people get the ingredients from the local farmers and small mom and pop restaurants where the food is an outpouring of their love.  I definitely know Jerry is really excited about the trip because he has planned out all the eateries we will be going to and has not given me any hints on where we are going.  I tell my family and friends that he’s like a kid in the candy store because every single day for the past couple of weeks, I constantly hear him say, “Ooooooh!!  I’m so excited about our trip and I bet you just have NO idea where I’m taking you!  You’re just going to absolutely love them all!”  For some people, this maybe annoying but for me it brings a smile to my face because I can definitely say that we never have a dull day in our household.  Even though this will be a fun trip full of surprises, I still have to keep track and not forget that I’m trying to lose weight especially since I’m 4 pounds away from losing 10% of my weight.  That may not sound a lot, but it’s the first big milestone I will have hit for Weight Watchers.  My plan of attack is to enjoy the foods I eat but not to go all ravenous on the foods.  I plan on portioning things out and eating my 5 serving of fruits and vegetables throughout the day.  Will it be hard?  Yes!  I just have to keep in mind that making smarter food choices will outweigh the benefits of me stuffing my face and feeling like a comatose.  The nice thing about not being on a diet is that I don’t have restrictions on food.  I can eat whatever I want but I just have to plan it and portion it out.  Needless to say, I’m really excited about the beginnings of writing in the journal and building memories that Jerry and I can look back on several years from now, and I want to make sure that those are good memories and not ones filled with looking back and regretting that I stuffed my face to the point of being a glutton for punishment.

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“We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.” ~Alfred E. Newman~

This quote can either cause someone who is reading this to either think I’m crazy or a genius, and I can honestly say that I understand both sides since I have been on both of the sides of the spectrum when it comes to processed foods.  I grew up in a household where we did not have a lot of money, so eating fresh fruits and vegetables were not always an option for my family and eating processed foods was cheaper and quite honestly faster to make.  Don’t get me wrong, my mom was not the one who spent most of the grocery money on junk food.  If anything she tried her hardest to incorporate healthier eating especially as I got older since my weight started going on a downward spiral.  When I think about it now, not only was I a minority growing up in Florida but I was also an OBESE Asian which in many ways is like an oxymoron.  You see, in the Vietnamese culture, the skinnier you are the healthier you are and most men prefer a woman who has very little meat on her.  I was definitely the atypical Asian because I was far from being skinny and had a diet that probably was not the healthiest especially since Vietnamese diets mainly consist of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry, and fish.

Throughout the years, I always thought that Oreos, Kraft mac and cheese, and Sloppy Joe’s were normal foods that were okay to eat.  I never really thought about whether those types of foods were healthy or not since I grew up eating it.  It wasn’t until I got into college that my thinking on processed foods began to change.  My very close high school friend who I still talk to now began to educate me about the dangers of processed foods.  If you knew this friend of mine, they had the “typical” diet of Americans such as pizza,cookies, and ice cream, so much to my delight, it was always fun hanging out with her since I knew that she would always have some delicious junk food waiting for me to devour! 😉  Anyways, her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer and to make a long story short, they decided to take an alternative route to treat the breast cancer.  They went to a biochemist who began to educate them that what you put in your body truly affects your health, so the junk foods that were a consistent part of their diet was taking a toll on her mom and that their eating habits had to change if they wanted her mother to get better.  Not only was she encouraging her mom to change her diet but also the family and that is what they did.  They went from buying Little Debbies to buying organic fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish, and they CUT out ALL processed foods!  After several months of clean and organic eating, her mother was no longer diagnosed with breast cancer.  Throughout the whole time my friend was going through this, I began to evaluate my eating habits and started researching the dangers of processed foods.  I started to cut back on processed foods and began to buy foods that were grown from nature.  I won’t get into a lot of details, but if you think about it, it just makes sense to eat wholesome, fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables that contain very few ingredients instead of sugar laden, chemically altered processed foods that contains so many ingredients that it ends up taking up most of the package.  To make it worst, it’s impossible to read most of the ingredients because it looks like it came from a foreign language! To me, I want to be able to read and understand what I’m about to put in my mind.

Even though it’s been several years that my view began to change about my diet and trying to incorporate healthier food options and staying away from processed foods, it’ still not an easy thing to do.  When I look back on the periods of my life when I began to pack on the pounds which have been at least 3-4 times, I noticed that my diet changed drastically!  When I was at my heaviest, my diet consisted of fast foods, processed foods, and practically no fruits and vegetables.  I always found myself feeling tired and having a hard time focusing on tasks soon after eating a huge meal that consisted of burger, fries, and soda.  It wouldn’t be long before I began to get hungry again, so I felt as though I was constantly eating but never feeling satisfied.  When I was at my smallest, my diet changed completely.  It went from eating processed foods to eating tons of fruits, vegetables, and poultry.  I found that my energy level was higher and that I was full longer.  My overall health and well being was amazing.  Now one would think that feeling that way would have prevented me from  gaining weight; however, as we all know, life tends to bring about changes and sometimes they end up being more stressful and busier than one anticipates it to be.  I found myself getting back to my old habits of eating unhealthy because it was faster and convenient; however, the tradeoff was not worth it because I ended up gaining the weight back.  My goal this time is to try to be more conscious of what I buy and taking the time to read the ingredients of packages.  Not only am I interested in losing weight but I’m more interested being healthy especially as I get older. This journey is not only about losing weight and looking good but it is also about incorporating permanent lifestyle changes such as my eating habits.  Will it be easy?  Of course not since this has been almost ten years of me trying to minimize eating processed foods.  The awareness and knowledge are there and now it’s time for me to take it to heart and apply for the long term.  With ALL of this being said, to help with my challenge of incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my diet while minimizing processed foods, my husband and I will be planting our own vegetable garden in the next couple of weeks which I am excited about because it allows us to be in control of what we are putting in our garden.  Nothing beats homegrown vegetables that you can pick yourself from your own backyard!

“We are living …

Since When Did Numbers Get SO Big??

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I’ve always wandered when did society get so caught up with the numbers on the scale?  I definitely know that I’m not the only one who has jumped on the bandwagon of being obsessed with the numbers on the scale because I used to weigh myself not just once a day but up to FIVE times a day!  When I think about it now, it just doesn’t make sense on what I was doing, but sure enough, those three tiny, measly numbers had such an impact on me that I found myself weighing myself multiple times throughout the day.  It’s crazy to think that these numbers could control my life in such a negative and unhealthy way.  Even though I’ve made a conscious effort to only weight myself once or twice a week, it still takes a lot of work for me to try not to weigh myself more than two times throughout the week because I know if I get caught up with the numbers on the scale especially if I gain weight then it would ruin me emotionally.  I find that the negative thoughts and guilt start creeping into my mind, and one would think that it would give me the drive to lose the weight; however, it ends up doing the complete opposite.  I end up getting depressed, and the depression leads me to start stress eating.  My definition of stress eating is not grabbing an apple but grabbing the biggest bag of potato chips and french onion dip!  At that moment, I feel as though nothing in the world would make me feel better but only the junkiest, greasiest, and the unhealthiest food can save and cure me from the woes of weight gain. For a moment it does make me feel good…..but it’s only for just a moment.  That moment of shoving several (more like the whole bag) grease laden potato chips and feeling sorry for myself because I’ve been defeated by the weight gain monster.  But after that moment of so called heavenly bliss, I find myself feeling completely sick and even more depressed for gorging myself to the point that one would have thought I hadn’t eaten for days.  I know it doesn’t make sense, but let’s think about this.  When you get angry, do you think logically or do you tend to react and do things by how you feel at that moment?  More than likely, you don’t think logically and you end up making irrational decisions based on how you currently feel. It’s the same way for people like me who struggle with their weight.  In my mind, the scale is just more than a number because it becomes a dictator of my feelings and ultimately my life.  When the scale moves in a direction that I don’t want it to, then it controls my feelings, and it shouldn’t be like that because there are bigger and better things than just stepping on the square-shaped platform of emotion killer!  I think what causes me to get so caught up on the scale is I can visually see the numbers go up or down, and I can’t necessarily see the inches that I’ve lost or even the energy I feel after eating a wholesome, balance meal.  I really have to constantly train my mind to remember the other perks of losing weight because it’s more than just the numbers on the scale.  It’s more about the future and being healthier as I get older.  This is a journey not a short trek to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time because I’m dealing with more than just my physical appearance.  I’m dealing with my mental and emotional feelings too which takes time to train it to be healthy.  That’s one of the main reasons why I’m a huge advocate for losing weight slowly because your mental and emotional well being has to have time to catch up to your physical appearance.  Think about it, if you were to lose a huge amount of weight in a short amount of time, you end up getting extremely excited about all the pounds you’ve lost in a short of amount of time which then causes you to feel happy and ecstatic.  But what happens when you lose all that weight?  Did you have time to properly train your mind to make right food choices when you don’t have time to eat the planned out meal you prepared yourself because something unexpected happened or preparing your mind for when you gain the weight?  For me, it takes time for me to train my mind to be positive even when the numbers go up and to train my mind not to run to the junk food that I think will be my savior for the moment but to sit back and think about what I need to do differently to prevent me from gaining the weight. This weight journey of mine has not yielded fast weight loss because I don’t want it to be like that.  I recognize that I’m working on my emotional and mental well being which is just as important, and in order for me to make healthy habits and keep the weight off, it’s going to take a journey of up and downs, tears and sweat, and weight gain monsters for me to get there.  As the caption from the above picture says, “Fed up with how her diet is going, Charlene takes a more serious aim at her target weight.”  The serious aim for me is to not let it get me down!

I’m on Top of the World!

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I'm on Top of the World!

Actually, I’m really not on top of the world; however, I am ecstatic to share with you that I’m one of the top 15 women who lost the most weight for the Shape Up and Ship Out challenge! I weighed in last week and just received this email today! This came at a perfect time because I was in the middle of texting my friend about what topics I should blog about on my weight loss journey. This email will be a reminder for me to keep on doing what I’m doing and not to lose focus on my goal of wanting to win this cruise, and of course, to be healthier and happier!
I know I didn’t blog last week, but it was a crazy, busy week filled with a snow day, my trip to Memphis to watch Wicked with some of the greatest girls I know, and last but not least, celebrating my hubby’s birthday! Wow! I need to take a breather just from typing all that out! Even in the midst of unexpected surprises such as the snow day along with expected surprises like taking my husband on a picnic and watching a movie, I was able to squeeze in two Weight Watchers meetings by accident this week because I originally thought I wouldn’t be able to make it to my Saturday meeting, so I ended up just going in to weigh in on Friday. However, my schedule allowed me to attend my Saturday meeting which I’m extremely happy that I did. I lost almost 2 pounds last week which has been the most weight I’ve lost since I’ve started this journey about a month ago. To some people, that may not seem a lot, but for someone like me who has tried ALL the diets in the world from the grapefruit diet to the Atkins diet, this is huge because the last couple of years, I’ve not been able to lose any weight with any type of diets. I don’t like to say Weight Watchers is a diet because it really isn’t. I don’t ever feel deprived, and if I want a piece of cake, then I can have it as long as I plan for it and not get a GIGANTIC slice! Weight Watchers allows me to not only work on my outward appearance, but it also allows me to work on my inner self because it challenges me to take extra time to think about why exactly do I want to eat something junky whether it’s because I’m stressed or bored. Once I figure out the reason why I want to eat the deliciously, greasy potato chips, then I’m able to say no and choose something healthier to eat. Planning my meals out and packing my lunches have been a huge time saver for me! Even though it takes me a couple of hours to make the weekly dinners and lunches, it saves me so much time during the week because I don’t have to worry about it at all. It makes time management heavenly because I’m able to spend more time on things that I enjoy along with other things that I don’t really enjoy such as studying. 😉 But nonetheless, everything is all about give and take, so I guess I can’t complain too much! It’s been an amazing week, and I’m looking forward to many more to come in the future!

My First Weight Loss Reward!

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My First Weight Loss Reward!

Hi guys! I know it seems like it’s been forever since I wrote my last post; however, I did not forget about you guys! I actually wanted to wait until today to blog because I got my very first weight loss reward! At my Weight Watchers meeting, if you attend four weeks straight, you get a key chain. This Saturday marked not only me attending all of my meetings for four straight weeks, but it also marks exactly one month since I’ve started my weight loss journey. It’s pretty crazy how FAST time goes! Between school, keeping up with the wifely chores, and doing this weight loss….it’s been crazy, fun, and challenging all at the same time! I’ve hit some minor roadblocks such as today because I ended up gaining a very small amount (.2 to be exact), so that kind of put a damper to things especially since I planned all my meals and measured everything I ate, but I tried to get the negative thoughts out of mind and started to refocus on my cute little key chain that I got. For those who know me, I absolutely love cute little knit knack things, and this key chain means a lot to me because it shows that I’ve consistently prioritized myself and made a point to go to my meetings religiously. Honestly, I love my meetings because every week I go, I’m forming relationships and a strong bond with the ladies that go there. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one struggling with this. This key chain is a huge reward for me because it makes me look back at this month to see what changes I’ve made such as planning out my weekly meals when I know I won’t have time at all during the week to cook or even pack my lunch. I’ve been consistently tracking everything I eat and measuring out my meals. Those two things alone are quite a challenge for me! I still have a lot of changes to make but that will take time. Even though I haven’t lost as much as I wanted to this month, I have to remind myself of the small lifestyle changes that I’m making that end up making a HUGE impact along with working on my thoughts and kicking out anything that is negative. I’m happy to report that my clothes are getting bigger, and that I’ve lost a total of 5 pounds this month. But what has been the most important thing is how I feel. I’m more energized and not tired at all. I’m slowly incorporating exercising such as Zumba which my friends and I still consistently do even though there are times when we just don’t feel like it; however, there’s always someone in our group that forces us to do it because it makes us feel better at the end. The huge amount of support I’ve been getting from everyone has been so overwhelming for me because it shows that everyone believes in me and knows I can do it. Here’s to one month and many more to come! Wish me luck on Monday because I’ll be doing my FIRST weigh in for the Shape Up and Ship Out challenge at my school!

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“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
~Benjamin Franklin~

If I had to pick one thing that I would love to master, it would be planning.  This simple word seems so easy to do, and it usually comes natural for people who absolutely love to plan; however, it is definitely not something I do very well especially when it comes to planning my meals out for the week.  When I think about it, I can be a phenomenal planner when it comes to throwing a party or even making plans to hang out with friends, but I absolutely STINK at planning meals ahead of time especially when I get busy.  I think that is one of the major things that set me up for failure is my lack of planning because it requires me to prioritize myself.  It’s very easy for me to pack my husband’s lunch and make him breakfast every morning because I don’t mind doing it, but it’s hard for me to do it for myself because I don’t prioritize myself.  I know a lot of you know where I’m coming from especially the ladies because I think it’s natural for us to put others before ourselves and forget ourselves in the midst of life and all the craziness it brings with it.  Even though at the moment, it seems like we are doing good by helping others out especially our loved ones, but are we really doing good if we forget ourselves because we get so tangled up with helping everyone else?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying not to help anyone out because it’s all about you; however, what I’m trying to point is that it’s not doing any good for anyone if we don’t take time to take of ourselves because we are doing a huge disservice to our own sanity.  It’s all about balance, and I really believe that is what is life is all about.  Even though it makes sense logically in my mind, it is extremely hard for me to practice this.  So I’ve been trying to practice planning in my mind and taking actions to prepare my lunches and meals ahead of time especially when I know there are certain days that I won’t have time to prepare it.  This has been a huge accomplishment because in the past I just end up making excuses and not preparing meals ahead of time which then results with me going through the drive thru and choosing the not-so-healthy foods.  Benjamin Franklin is right about  failing if you don’t make prepare. If I don’t take the necessary steps to plan ahead of time, then I will end up failing by not making the greatest food choices.  It’s taking me slow steps to do this especially prioritizing myself; however, I am very proud of myself because I accidentally booked my dog’s vet appointment during my Weight Watchers meeting, so in the past I would just cancel my Weight Watchers meeting; however, I am not doing that.  Instead I’m going to have Jerry take Marshmallow to the vet while I go to my meeting.  Did I feel guilty for doing that?  A little bit but I had to stop and remind myself that I have to take time for me and take care of myself, and that it’s okay for Jerry to take our dog to the vet since I don’t think they would be cry and throw a tantrum if I didn’t go. 😉  The quote from Benjamin Franklin will be a true test for me nest week since school is on the verge of getting busy.  My challenge for next week is preparing all my meals ahead of time in order for me not go through the drive thru.  Wish me luck!   

“By failing to…

Help! I need somebody!

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First, I want to say thank you to everyone for the love and support you have given me when I posted my first blog.  I’m always in awe on how much people truly love and care for me!  It means a lot for people to take time out of their busy schedules to read my posts, and I just want to say that I’m grateful for each and everyone of you!  You will be happy to know that I’m down 3 pounds since I’ve started!

Before you read this post, please take the time to watch the video I posted above.  Throughout this week, I was thinking about what song would fit perfectly with this new journey that I’m embarking, and the first thing that came to my mind was the Beatles song, Help! Reading through the lyrics just seemed be exactly what I need and will continue to need in the future. I’m going to need people to help me through this weight loss journey. When I was younger, I never asked for help and support especially when it came to me trying to lose weight, and I think that’s one of the many reasons why I ended up failing time and time again. This week has went by fast, but the overwhelming support and love that I’ve gotten from family and friends have been truly amazing and wonderful.  I find that the more I share my story and tell people that I’m trying to lose weight, the more support and love I get.  For instance, we began a weekly get together on Mondays with my friends to do dinner, and one of my friends volunteered to do dinner yesterday.  So last week as we were trying to make plans for Monday, she asked if there are certain things I can’t have since she was going to make spaghetti.  She willingly offered to alter her recipe by swapping ground beef to ground turkey and doing whole wheat pasta.  When she made this offer, it  meant a lot to me because it shows that she really wants me to succeed and want to make sure she does not set me up for failure.  On top of that,  my friends and I have been working out together, and we are wanting to try out new and fun workouts which is great because I think it’s more fun to workout with others rather than by yourself.  The accountability that my friends and family have given me just this past week has been great, and it means so much to me because it shows me that I’m really not doing this alone.  I know that I shouldn’t feel ashamed to ask for help; however, it’s always difficult to ask for help because naturally I want to do it on my own.  But….doing it all by myself won’t work because there are going to be hard days when I just want to give up, and if I do it by myself, there won’t be anyone there to pick me up and say, “Don’t give it up cause it’s not worth it!”  Most importantly, I’ve got to learn to ask for help when I fall, and I know I’m not going to do things perfectly cause I’m not perfect and will hit roadblocks along the way; however, if I just stop what I’m doing and listen to that Beatles song, it will help me to re-focus and know that it’s okay to ask for help.  If one of the most popular and successful music group can write a song saying there’s going to be times they’re going to need people to help them, then I think I can do it too! 😉