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Monday, May 22, 2017

Food for Thought

Eating well is not enough, you need to eat right for your body and take care of yourself. 1 in 3 Americans suffer from hypothyroidism, 85% of women suffer from hormonal imbalance at least once in their lifetimes, 75% of women have PMS, 40% of adults have insomnia, 74% are sleep deprived. The World Health Organization predicts that depression will be the # 2 cause of disability and premature death by 2020. Studies show that 80-90% of diseases are stress-related. Our society places a premium on multi-tasking, productivity and speed. We are overworked and underpaid. As women and care-takers, we have 2 jobs and one of them is unpaid (taking care of our family or loved ones). It's time to pause, slow down and put ourselves first. We can't care for others when we are sick or stressed. Make a list of things you love to do: put them in 2 categories.  Healthy vs Unhealthy, my co-worker who practices yoga 2-3 times a week likes to drink wine to relax. When she gave up her class of wine and drank herbal tea instead, she lost 20 pounds in just 3 months! Just one simple change can make a difference. What will you change to be healthier?

I am reading Born to Blog by Mark W. Schaefer and Stanford A. Smith. It made me realize that I was born to blog, I am a dreamer, a storyteller and I used to teach 2n-3rd grades. In Chapter 18 of the book - "Getting Personal", it talked about showing your personal side and taking a risk. I became a teacher because I love kids and wanted to make a real difference. I had a Business degree and a good job, but I wasn't satisfied. I started volunteering for a great non-profit Free Arts for Abused Children. I went to their events almost every weekend and enjoyed doing arts or crafts with the kids who just blossomed when they got the attention and a creative way to express themselves. I'd ask them what they like about themselves. Often, they'd look at me like I was speaking a foreign language. I'd share one thing that I appreciate myself for and wait. Most of the time, I'd give them a nudge. They'd say "I like my eyes or something physical." I then prompt them to find an inner quality that they admired. It'd take a while, but when they came up with it, their eyes and faces lit up. I felt such joy in sharing this simple step of self-love with them. I got burnt out as a teacher and quit. I felt like a failure. I stopped volunteering and working with kids regularly. I'm ashamed that I've forgotten how much I love kids.

Recently, I joined Girl Friends Circles because I wanted to be a better friend. I realized that like Mark who shared in Born to Blog, I've lost sight of what it means to be a friend. "It's a word that has been
cheapened by social-media. I was not getting to know the people behind their avatars" or social profiles. "I want to have real conversations and make real friends. I want to talk on the phone and even meet the people" in my social circles. I am also promoting Global Wellness Day.

Join my Being Well Group and come to a Healthy Cooking event - learn to take control of your health. Cost of eating healthy $ vs cost of dieting or diseases $$$. Choose one. Join now!

Friday, May 19, 2017

How to Break Bad Habits

One tool you can use to break free of bad habits and be attuned to your body is to observe the tension you carry in your body. Are you holding your breath or is your breathing quick and shallow? Are your shoulders stiff and tense? Just be aware without being critical. Take 3 deep, slow breathes - inhale to draw air (oxygen) into your lungs, feel your rib cage and belly expand and exhale to release stress or tension. A mantra you can use internally while you do this simple breathing exercise is "let go". Set an intention. What do you wish for? Inhale, "I let go of my pain". Exhale, "let go"

I am reading The Power of Partnerships: Seven relationships that will change your life by Riane Eisler. It is an eye-opening book about the old Domination Model based on authority/ control (win-lose) and the new Partnership Model based on respect (win-win).

Join The Partnership Revolution - Connect, Collaborate and find Common Ground to create win-win.
Yoga teaches us to be in partnership with our bodies, to treat them with care and respect. By practicing yoga, we become attuned to and connected to our bodies and our spiritual beings. Yoga made me aware of how I was harming myself with the bad habits of mindless eating and dieting. It connects me to the truth that I was seeking comfort from food. Now, when I feel the urge to indulge, I ask myself if doing that will satisfy me or if I'd feel better with a healthier choice.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

How to Stop the Blame Game

I used to love McDonald's. I'd eat their Chicken Mcnuggets, their grilled chicken burgers and their soft serve ice cream. I didn't have time to cook and was on a budget. I also loved their Happy Meals since they have smaller portions and comes with a toy. Depending on what toy they have, I'd sometimes buy the Meal just for the toy. I also ate Healthy Choice T.V. dinners. I'd pop them in the microwave & presto -dinner! Then, I'd watch my favorite shows on T.V while I ate. Little did I know that eating processed foods regularly was so bad for my health and weight.

I blamed myself for "being fat", I felt ashamed of my body and hated my tummy. Beautiful women have "flat abs" and I didn't. So, I went on a diet and joined a running group. When I first started to run, I hated it. I was slow and got winded easily. I wanted to give up so many times, but I kept pushing myself. I stuck to it, I ate less and I lost weight! I was so proud of myself. I ran more, ate less and got the natural high from being "healthy". I went lost over 45 pounds in less than a year. At one point, I weighed around 100 pounds and I felt "great". At 5 foot 9, I felt like a "big fat pig" before my transformation and didn't like to wear a swimsuit. After my weight lost, I wore my new swim suit with pride. I got rid of my tummy. Little did I know that I was anorexic and harming my health.

Luckily, my mom got concerned enough to intervene and dragged me to see a doctor. I was so mad at her then. I blamed her for telling me that I needed to lose weight in the first place. In fact, I was a chubby kid and growing up in Hong Kong where almost everyone is smaller and skinnier than I was got me the nickname "Fat Girl". My family was the first to call me "Fat" and made me think there was something wrong with me. I had low self-esteem and felt bad about my body. When I finally took control of my body and my weight, I felt good about myself. Yet my mom was trying to take it away. We argued and fought, but I finally gave in because she made me feel guilty. The doctor warned me about the harm that I was doing to myself. She pointed out that I was too thin - my body did not have enough nutrients to menstruate, my teeth and my bones will go bad if I continue. She persuaded me to add healthy, plant-based and whole food to my diet and to stop running. She asked me why I like to run, I told her that I felt free and happy when I ran. She suggested other low-impact exercises that I could try to see which ones I liked. She literally saved my life. I wish more doctors are like her.

I found that I like yoga and walking. I've been doing both since then. Yoga teaches compassion and non-judgement. It's a mind-body exercise that helps me tune in to my breathe and listen to my body. It helps quiet my inner critic as I focus on the present moment. I grew aware of the Blame Game that most of us are playing. I started to be more accountable for my own thoughts and actions. I still feel "fat" and "unattractive", but I catch myself and remind myself that I am a spiritual being having a human experience. As women, we are bombarded by the media on how we should look. We compare ourselves to other "beautiful" women and feel lacking. We get sucked in to the lie that if we buy this or that, we'd look and feel better. It's a vicious cycle that is bad for our health and well-being. So, stop the Blame Game and join me on The Kindness Revolution. Be kind to yourself and others in thoughts, words and deeds. Set the intention to be kind each day. Let's take back control of our health and our lives.

#SweatPink ambassador at

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

7-Day Health and Wellness

Kindness – We all need to be kind to ourselves and others. Do you get critical with yourself (say things like I’m not good enough)? Chances are you get stressed out by being so hard on yourself. Yoga teaches compassion and non-judgement. Accept that what is and where you are at this moment. What are you grateful for?

Intention – What is your intention? Why do you want to change?

Deeds – Do your actions move you towards your goals?

Support – Get support from Being Well. For the next 7 days, focus on being kind and do more things that you love to do.  Fall in love with life. See things with new “eyes” and practice positive affirmations.Need some inspiration? Create a Vision Board.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Celebrate by listing the women in your life who you're grateful for. Think of ways they inspire you & what you appreciate them for. Then call or email them to share your gratitude.

5 Benefits of Gratitude

1.       Improve health

2.       Better sleep

3.       Increase self-esteem

4.       Improve empathy

5.       Increase resilience

5 Love Languages

Dr. Gary Chapman’s book list 5 ways to express love

1.       Verbal  affirmation

2.       Quality time

3.        Gifts

4.       Acts of service

5.       Physical touch

This Mothers’s Day, determine the main way you express love and do more of it. Then try to show your love in other ways. 

I took an Acro-yoga class where the teachers emphasized good communication and trusting the partner to accomplish each pose. It was a great way to practice the verbal love language by saying “good job”, “you’ve got it”, etc. The whole class was based on physical touch.  It was challenging and fun. If you haven’t tried acro-yoga, do so. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

May is American Stroke Month

Let's join Together to End Stroke™. Our as women risk is higher and we need to increase awareness. Most strokes are preventable. High blood pressure is the most important controllable factor. Learn more .

#GoRedGetFit just kicked off year two with the challenge, focusing on getting total cholesterol under 200 mg/dl and logging 10K steps a day. If you haven't already joined the #GoRedGetFit Facebook group

Learn how food can prevent and reverse some diseases like high blood pressure. Sign up for Free Food Revolution now! Hear 24 experts talk about food & health.

Want to be Well for Good? Join Being Well Meetup

Free Food Demos at Farmers Markets nearby
Saturday, May 20th at the Saturday Santa Monica Downtown Market: 

POKE BOWLS: Join Chef Gill Boyd of the Gourmandise School in Santa Monica and Cape Seafood and Provisions, a local dock-to-dish seafood company sourcing sustainable California coastal fish, who will demonstrate methods of creating traditional Poke bowl using fish from small boat fishermen. 
Location: 300 Arizona Avenue at Third Street Promenade
Market Hours: 8:00am - 1:00pm

Sunday, May 21st at the Sunday Main Street Market

SOUP BOWLS: Think of a cool gazpacho made with the season's first apricots, mixed into a refreshing taste of summer. Chef Kim Vu of Vucacious Catering will walk you through methods of preparing delicious concoctions in a bowl that redefine the concept of "soup."
Location: 2640 Main Street at Ocean Park Blvd. 
Market Hours: 8:30am - 1:30pm

Saturday May 27th at the Virginia Avenue Park Market
FRUIT BOWLS:  Farmers have a lot to celebrate this year with the historic rains that reminded us of nature's beneficence. Late May is when California's stone fruit gets into full swing. Join Clemence Gossett of the Gourmandise School in Santa Monica as she shows you how to cut, macerate and season tree ripe fruit into salads and bowls. Veggies included!
Location: Virginia Avenue Park, 2200 Virginia Avenue
Market Hours: 8:00am - 1:00pm

Source: American Heart Association 

Monday, April 24, 2017

My Fitness Favorites

I got a query from Aaptiv, an on-demand audio fitness app that combines the guidance of a trainer with the perfect playlist on whether I'd be open to share what products I use to maximize my workout. So, here I am including a few of my favorites.
I love to exercise and stay motivated by doing something different every day. I’ve been doing Jillian Michaels “No More Trouble Zones” DVD and yoga at work during my lunch breaks. I like how tough Jillian is and her DVD targets the areas that I want to focus on like core and butt. It’s 40 minutes of strength training workout with “TV's toughest trainer”. Jillian combines upper and lower body exercises to maximize the effectiveness of the workout. The cardio and strength circuit training is intended for people who are serious about getting fit. This work out requires a set of 3-5 pound dumbbells and a mat. Of course, you also need a pair of sneakers. 

I also love yoga because it is an exercise for the mind and body. This work out only requires a mat. I focus on my breathing as I flow through the poses. There are some challenging poses like the plank pose that works the core and the legs. I also like that it helps improve my balance, increase my energy and reduce my stress.  After 50 minutes of varying poses including head stand, I enjoy the final resting pose with my body-length scarf as a cover up. It allows me to relax completely and often I end up dozing off. At the end of class, I feel recharged and ready to take on the rest of the day. I got the idea from Aaptiv.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

ABC's of Health

A is for Accountability – share your health goals and find a partner. Research shows that people who do it together reach their goals twice as fast.

B is for Breathe – take deep breaths and sigh out to increase intake of oxygen and release stress

C is for Chew your food properly. Savor and enjoy every bite. Don’t hurry or multi-task. It’s essential for digestion. Your stomach will thank you.

D is for Drink water and stay hydrated. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water.

E is for Eat whole foods. Preferably plant-based. 

F is for Fresh air and sunlight – Just 10 to 15 minutes a day before 12 pm and after 3 pm can improve your mood, your sleep and reduce risk of cancer

G is for Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is linked to hormonal imbalances, weight gain/ obesity and increased stress. Get 6-8 hours of good quality sleep.

H is for Have fun, physical activity. Do something you enjoy that is healthy. Dancing, hiking, walking, yoga, etc.

I is for Incentive. Download a free app that rewards you for exercising like Charity Miles, Nexercise, Pact, etc (bonus from me).  

J is for Join an online support group like ExerciseFriends, Meetup or SparkPeople (bonus from me).

K is for Kick your bad habits – Do you drink alcohol or soda? Do you smoke? Do you like desserts? Cut back or stop (bonus from me).

L is for Look at the bright side. Laugh. Studies show that laughter stretches muscles, burns calories and produces a natural energy booster (

M is for Make time for yourself. Go on a retreat or a vacation (bonus from me).

N is for Nature walk. Go to a State or National Park. Enjoy nature  (bonus).

O is for One day at a time and one thing a day. If you feel overwhelmed, just do one thing better each day (bonus).

P is for Persistence. Studies show it takes 21 days to form a new habit (bonus).

Q is for Quiet time. Meditate and pray.

R is for Replace bad habit with a good one. If you like to smoke or snack on junk food, chew sugarless gum instead (bonus).

Adapted from Lisa’s Top 10 Health Tips for Greater Vibrant Health

Hope to see you at the Women's Expo. Ingrid 
(Former member of Let's Move West L.A.)