Summer of Health and Fitness: Week 7

Hobby Lobby

Can you guys believe it’s already August? Time really does fly in the summertime.

As of last Thursday, I have officially lost 10 lbs. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but do the math and I’ve basically been losing 2 lbs a week. I went shopping the other day and actually managed to fit into a pair of Size 4 jeans!

According to my health app, I am now at a healthy weight with only 5 lbs to go until I actually make my weight loss goal. The hard part now is just going to be maintaining my weight and not gaining anything.

There are still days where I go over, but it’s mostly on days where I eat out and no day has been as bad as the time I ate too many tortilla chips at Chili’s. I’m pretty sure that by now, everything has balanced out.

So the question now is “Where does the Summer of Health and Fitness go from here?”

Well, summer’s not over yet, for one thing. I will keep updating about my health and fitness every week until the month of September.

I also want to know about your own weight loss/exercise stories. What kind of progress have y’all been making? Let me know in the comments.

 

Summer of Health and Fitness: Week 5

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 Fall seven times and stand up eight-Japanese Proverb

It isn’t easy sticking to a diet and exercise plan. I’ve been doing this for over a month now, so you shouldn’t be surprised that I’ve had a few bad days. Instead of giving up, though, I just kept sticking to my diet, trying to eat better and exercise more than I did the previous day.

Let’s say that, like me, you go out to dinner with your family. You eat handful after handful of tortillas (or breadsticks) and all of a sudden, you’re over your calorie limit for the day. First of all, don’t panic. If you’re anxious because you went over recently, take a deep breath.

You’re not gonna cancel out those calories in one day. As I’ve stated before, don’t exercise to the point of exhaustion. Just go into your normal workout and see if you can push yourself a little more than usual. Dance for 45 minutes. Do some strength training. The calories will burn out.

As far as eating goes, don’t skip breakfast, even if you ate a lot the previous day. Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. Get your protein in. Just skip the snacking for the day and eat a lighter lunch and dinner.

Trust me when I say that as long as you stick to your diet and exercise plan, the bad days will balance out with the good ones. Having this lifestyle will take work, but it’s going to be worth it.

This perspective of perseverance has also applied to my life as a writer. I’ve learned that when you’re in the midst of revising your novel, you are essentially turning coal into diamonds or purifying silver. You are taking a load of crap, putting a lot of pressure and heat on it, and working hard to achieve a worthwhile result.

Don’t give up! You can do this!

Summer of Health and Fitness Week 4

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From last Wednesday til yesterday, I was on vacation. My family and I went to Galveston for a day and Corpus Christi for 4 days.

Since I couldn’t cook, dieting came down to controlling how much I ate. I drank more Slurpees than I usually did and because of my allergies, I couldn’t just order a salad everywhere I went. (The problem with restaurant salads is that they put stuff there that I might be allergic to, like peanuts, croutons, or stuff I never ate before. #foodallergyproblems.) In spite of not really being in control of what I ate, I still managed to stick to my diet. 

Here’s a tip: If you’re eating out, don’t eat the whole plate. Eat a portion and share the rest or save some for later. 

If there’s anything I learned from my vacation, it’s that if you want to stick to your diet and exercise plan, have courage. Don’t be afraid to eat out! Just be smart about it. At the same time, don’t be anxious when you treat yourself to Slurpees or Italian Ices. When you get back home, you can return to your regular diet/exercise and everything will balance out.

If you’re planning on traveling this summer, make sure your hotel has a good gym. Even the smallest fitness room usually do fine. I worked out for 30 minutes on the elliptical machine 2x during my vacation. The rest of my exercise consisted of a lot of walking, whether it was on the beach or browsing around antique stores. Do a lot of walking on your vacation, but keep the weather in mind. Nothing wrong with doing a long walk inside a museum on a hot day! 

I’m gonna end this blog post with a recipe for my new favorite food: Tuna and guac tacos! This is perfect for anyone who’s gluten-free.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small haas avocado (or 3 if you’re cooking for 4 people)
  • 1 small (4″ diameter) corn tortilla. (I got a store brand.) 
  • 1/2-1 whole yellow onion, diced (Depends on the size of the onion and how many people you’re serving)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped (use 6 if cooking for 4 people) 
  • Lemon/lime juice
  • Salt and pepper (feel free to add your favorite spices here)
  • Starkist tuna in vegetable oil (Pouch, please. You can also use the EVOO version.)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Set a pan over medium/high heat and cook up the Starkist tuna
  2. Scoop the avocado meat once the tuna has been cooking for a few minutes. Add spices as you spread your avocado meat around the pan. Mix it all together.
  3. Add the onions and lime juice.
  4. In a separate pan or in your toaster oven, cook up your corn tortillas for a minute or two. The tortillas should be light and fluffy.
  5. Turn off the heat after cooking your guac/tuna/onion mixture for 10 minutes.
  6. Plate the tortillas and scoop the mixture by the tablespoon into the tortillas.

Summer of Health and Fitness Week 3

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There is a lot that can go wrong when dieting and exercising. You can swing back and forth between not eating enough or eating too much. You can exercise until your entire body is in pain. So with me down to 145 lbs as of now, here’s my piece of advice for the week:

DO IT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS

What do I mean when I say that?

I mean that when you start dieting and exercising, start from a place of love. Love yourself first. I know it’s hard to do that. I’m definitely certain that if you’re reading this, you can list off everything you hate about your body off the top of your head. I want you to STOP THAT NOW. Take a deep breath.

You are beautiful. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are enough.

The reason why I’m dieting and exercising is because I want to be healthy, plain and simple. I want to take care of myself and love myself.

If you want to have a healthier lifestyle, you need to start with having a healthy mind and heart. Instead of thinking of having a “revenge body” or wishing you could look like the cover of a magazine, think about being healthy. Start with loving yourself and wanting to be the best version of yourself.

Being healthy can include eating french fries and hamburgers. You just have to control the portion size and how often you eat these things. In the past, I used to eat two large fries more than once a week. I used to buy the frozen fries at the grocery store. Potato chips were my go-to comfort food.

A lot has changed in the past few weeks. I’m not just talking about my weight, either. Up until this summer, I never really exercised. I longed for the days when I had dance lessons or wished that I could take martial arts courses or join in on the exercise bike craze. I’m grateful that now I can work out at home and that I have a lot of fun in the process.

So my assignment for you today is to start loving yourself. List off five things that you feel are the most beautiful parts of yourself: your eyes, your smile, the way you laugh, etc. Keep telling yourself “I am beautiful.” Because you are.

Do it for all the right reasons. Do this for love of yourself. LOVE YOURSELF.

Summer of Health and Fitness Week 2

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The previous week was definitely a challenge for me, as I had to change my exercising strategy. My feet were not up for running at all. Whenever I did a jumping exercise, I felt a sharp pain in the arch of my left foot.

I still made an effort to exercise everyday, in spite of the soreness in my legs. Simone de la Rue’s workout videos have some modified low impact moves that still get the job done. Check out this 25 minute cardio dance workout video and see how well you do.

4th of July was another test for my diet/exercise as I ate some pretty carb-heavy meals (hashbrowns for breakfast and sushi for lunch). I also snacked a lot, so I decided to eat corn for dinner so that I could have room for a nice s’more at the end of the day.

The only time I went over my calorie intake was a couple days ago when I had dinner at Whataburger. But here’s a tip: If you’re going to eat fast food, order small portions. Before I started this diet, I used to eat two large fries at Whataburger, which would add up to over 1000 calories. On Sunday, I ate a junior Whataburger with pickles and ketchup and had a small fry with water. It’s a huge difference, trust me on that.

I haven’t lost any weight since two weeks ago, but my waist to hip ratio has gone down. On top of that, some of my clothes are starting to feel big on me. What I’m doing is making a difference on my body. It’s just gonna take some patience.

Aside from patience, however, one virtue that I felt was prominent this past week was prudence. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,

Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every good circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it.

You won’t always be in control of where you go to eat things. You can’t always eat at home or bring food with you. It’s prudent to figure out your best option and not worry if you go over your calorie limit for one day. Just remember to work it all off the next day.

Prudence also applies to exercising. Listen to your body and don’t push it so hard that you feel pain. The best workouts are the ones that make you sweat without hitting a nerve or end with you hitting the floor.

I also had to apply the virtue of prudence in terms of some negative emotions I’ve been feeling. Like a lot of people starting out on a new health and fitness habit, I made the mistake of comparing myself to someone who was a lot more fit and attractive than I will ever, ever be. I was jealous of this person beyond what’s rational or sensible.

The best thing I had to do was not give into the feelings or blast them out in the internet for all to see. I wrote in my journal. I confided in trustworthy friends. I focused on myself. And then I let it all go. It’s a process, obviously, but one I feel will help my emotional well-being.

If you’re starting out on a new health and fitness routine, don’t compare yourself to the model you see on the cover of Sports Illustrated or a fitness magazine. Focus on your own personal goals and be realistic.

It’s going to take time to lose weight or lower your cholesterol or whatever you want to do. The best thing you can do is just stick to what you have planned, no matter how you feel, and take care of yourself emotionally as well as physically. Keep a journal about everything you feel. Find something to be grateful for on a daily basis. Trust me when I say that having the right mentality will make diet and exercising a lot easier.

 

Summer of Health and Fitness Week 1

 

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A couple weeks ago, I bought a bathing suit. This has been the first time since college that I ever wore one.

Like a lot of women this time of year, I checked my weight and measured my waist-to-hip ratio. I was 150 lbs and I’ve been 150 lbs for a while. I’m 5’3″ so the weight I’ve been carrying isn’t a healthy one because I don’t work out.

For the past week, I decided to get myself down to a healthier weight, using the Samsung Health app. I also decided on making changes to what I eat everyday.

Disclaimer: I have food allergies. I’m allergic to a lot of things, namely dairy, eggs, and nuts. I can’t drink protein shakes or eat granola bars. Please keep these things in mind and consider your own diet.

Like my fellow millenials, I am a fan of avocados. Thanks to Alton Brown, I’ve learned that I can use avocados in place of eggs. So yes, I’ve eaten avocado toast. I also made bagel avocado sandwiches and used avocado when making salads.

As far as adding exercise goes, I use the Johnson and Johnson 7 Minute Workout app, which lets you customize your own workout. I also exercised along to Simone de la Rue’s videos on YouTube. I made a playlist. Check them out!

I also tried running. Emphasis on tried. While my first day of walk/running was successful (running for 30 seconds, walking for 90 seconds), I forgot to stretch and as such developed some pain in the arches of my feet and my ankles. When I tried running for a second time, it was more of a struggle. However, I’m not gonna give up after one bad day of running. I just don’t think I’ll be running any marathons anytime soon.

Question time: What’s the difference between pain and soreness? Answer: Pain is sharp. It feels like needles poking your brain. If you ever feel pain when exercising, STOP or SLOW DOWN. Soreness, on the other hand, is more spread out. Your muscles are being put to use. Imagine pizza dough that’s rising and spreading out. That’s how your muscles feel when you exercise.

There are three things I learned from my first week.

  1. It’s all a matter of balance. Don’t put so much worry into counting calories or exercising to excess. You know what kinds of foods are healthy. Eat more salads and drink more water, cut out soda and junk food, and pay attention to serving and portion size. Use your health app as a guideline and not a strict regimen. Drink plenty of water and vegetable juice. Coffee and tea are allowed, but keep the sugar and cream to a minimum.
  2. Listen to your body. I recommend one hour of light to moderate exercise maximum per day. You don’t even have to exercise for one hour straight. You can start your morning with a good stretch and then go out for a walk after work later on. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Just don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion and if you feel hungry even after drinking water, snack on something, but keep the portions small. It will all balance out.
  3. Indulge wisely. I don’t recommend eating out everyday or buying potato chips, as much as I love them. Most restaurants serve large portions and a lot of snacks from the grocery store don’t package according to serving size. However, if you’re like me and you’re still craving a soft pretzel or a burger, Do your research on the nutritional information behind your favorite restaurants and snacks. See if you can make healthier versions at home. If you have to eat out or indulge on snacks, read Eat This, Not That. There’s one version that gives nutritional information on the stuff you buy at the supermarket and one that gives information on restaruant food.

So what has been my progress?  In one week, I have lost three pounds. I did go over my daily calorie limit on Saturday, but I didn’t exercise much, either. Yesterday, I learned that even something as simple as walking around a grocery store can make a difference in balancing your calorie intake.

I will update on my progress every week, checking my weight and waist-to-hip ratio once a week. I recommend that you limit how often you check your weight. Don’t obsess over the numbers on a scale or the number of calories you ate. You may not lose as much weight or lose more, depending on your current lifestyle and metabolism. It’s all a matter of balance.

From a Catholic perspective, I see this as being an example of practicing the virtue of temperance.

According to The Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion. “Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart.” (Sirach 18:30) – CCC 1809

I honestly think that the reason I haven’t been obsessing over every calorie and pound is because I offered up my new diet and exercise plan in prayer. By the grace of God, I am keeping my focus on staying healthy.

The point I’m trying to make is that you don’t need a gym membership to live a healthy lifestyle. You also don’t need to do heavy lifting or run fast. I hope that this new blog series will inspire you to live a healthier life this summer and I hope that we will all continue a healthier lifestyle even after summer is over.

Coming to Theaters in September: Smallfoot

 

What happens when you turn the myth of the abominable snowman on its ear? You get Smallfoot! Based on a book from the creator of the Despicable Me films, Channing Tatum stars as Migo, a Yeti who encounters a human (played by James Corden). The only problem is nobody believes him. because they don’t believe humans exist at all. So Migo goes on a journey to prove his village wrong.

“Smallfoot” stars Channing Tatum (“The LEGO® Batman Movie,” the “Jump Street” films) as the Yeti, Migo, and James Corden (“Trolls,” “Into The Woods”) as the Smallfoot, Percy. Also starring are Zendaya (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”), Common (“Selma”), LeBron James (upcoming “Space Jam 2”), Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”), Danny DeVito (“The Lorax”), Yara Shahidi (TV’s “Black-ish”), Ely Henry (TV’s “Justice League Action”), and Jimmy Tatro (“22 Jump Street”).

“Smallfoot” is directed by Karey Kirkpatrick, Annie Award-winning director of “Over the Hedge.” The film is produced by Bonne Radford (“Curious George”), Glenn Ficarra (“Storks,” “The is Us,”) and John Requa (“Storks,” “This is Us”). Serving as executive producers are Nicholas Stoller, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Jared Stern, Sergio Pablos, and Kirkpatrick. The creative team includes editor Peter Ettinger, and composer Heitor Pereira.

 

The film is set to debut in theaters September 28, 2018.

 

The Declassified Convention Survival Guide

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I love going to conventions. I don’t get to go as often as I used to in college, but this year, I got to go to Comicpalooza again!

Since there will be many conventions happening all around the country this summer, here are some tips for making the most out of your con experience.

  1. Plan ahead. If you’re 100% certain that you’re gonna go to this convention, book your tickets ASAP. Take advantage of early bird prices or special offers. You don’t even have to go for all three days. Pick one day. Trust me, it will be more than enough. It also helps to know the schedule, too.
  2. Have a really good costume. You don’t have to know how to sew in order to make an amazing cosplay. My Mantis cosplay is made from stuff I have in my closet. The only things I actually made were the sleeves (which I knitted) and the headband antennae.
  3. Find good parking/transportation. If you can’t book a hotel close to the convention, find a good parking space that’s within walking distance.
  4. Get there early. Lines for getting your pass, autographs, and the big Q&As are long. Get a program as soon as you get there and figure out which events are most important for you.
  5. Keep Captain Cold’s words in mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ReF-nlrQAY. The best of plans will inevitably fall apart, so don’t panic if you miss out on the big Q&A or can’t afford a picture with your favorite celebrity. You’re at the con to have fun!
  6. Remember to eat and drink! With all the events going on, it’s important to make time for a little snack and water break. If you have food allergies like me, bring a snack or figure out what places nearby will have something you can eat.
  7. Splurge wisely. It is REALLY tempting to blow all your money on everything you see, but if you’re on a budget like me, it’s better to splurge on one big thing than spending your money on tshirts. Photo ops are my best recommendation. A picture is worth a lot, at least to me. It may not sell on eBay, but that’s not really the point.

Overall, I had a fun time at Comicpalooza. Check out my photos on my Instagram:

Beyond the Sun: Childhood Adventures

In a summer with tons of blockbuster movies, Beyond the Sun offers a slice-of-life adventure that will be inspiring for the kids and nostalgic for the adults.

When I was a kid, I loved going to the beach. This might sound a little weird, given that I lived in New Jersey at the time, but my favorite beach growing up was named Sandy Hook. It was a short drive away from my school. My classmates and I went on a field trip there when we were kids. We learned about different sea creatures, such as manta rays, and about some local history.

All of these trips to the beach showed me that beauty can be found anywhere. When people think beach, they usually think of locations like Florida, California, Hawaii, or some international exotic locations. Having Sandy Hook in my life taught me to appreciate the things around me. I didn’t have to go very far to find a fun place to go.

A heartwarming family film is releasing this week.  Distributed by AMBI Distribution, BEYOND THE SUN, is a modern day tale of hope, faith and courage based on stories from the Bible. This delightful family movie chronicles the adventures of four young friends in search of God.

The film features a very rare special appearance by Pope Francis.  In support of the film, AMBI Media Group is holding a special contest where one lucky winner will win an Exclusive private tour of the Vatican and front row tickets to an audience with the pope for four! 

For anyone who has ever wanted to visit Italy and The Vatican, this is your chance!  For additional details about the contest and to enter, please go to:

www.freetriptorome.com

 

BEYOND THE SUN will be available for purchase across multiple platforms including iTunes, Amazon, and TUGG on May 15th.

 

Met Gala: Best and Worst Dressed of “Catholic Imagination”

The Catholic side of social media has been pretty divided as to whether or not having a Catholic themed Met Gala would respect the Church. Anti-Catholicism is nothing new, after all, and some people made a career out of appropriating Catholic culture. In fact, my first reaction upon seeing some of the Met Gala looks on my social media feed was a feeling of discomfort. My contemporaries at New Catholic Generation had some similar reactions.

Upon further reflection, however, I realized that there was a method to the madness. The Catholic Church has been a big influence in classic art and architecture, from the Renaissance artists to the beautiful Gothic cathedrals.

And so, as a millenial who’s watched her fair share of America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway, I will list off what I think are the ten best and works looks. I’m judging these outfits as to how they fit the theme and whether or not they’re aesthetically pleasing.

Worst Dressed

cardi b worst

I know that Cardi B is making a splash on the Billboard charts, but this outfit and her hair is ridiculous even by avante-garde standards. The train of her dress with the slit doesn’t flatter her legs, the bustline is too low for such a formal occasion, and her hair is in desperate need of some frizz control!

frances mcdormand

Frances McDormand may have the “Triple Crown of Acting,” but she is turning heads in a bad way with this getup. I’m not sure how this outfit fits the theme and she honestly looks like she’s wearing a giant tent with a bush on her head. It says a lot that Tom Lenk does a better job with this than her!

jaden smith worst

Dear Jaden Smith. This outfit does not make any sense and, well, your self-promotion is honestly very blatant, borderline narcissistic. There’s a time and place for showing off your gold records. This is not the time nor the place.

 

cara d worst

I only know of Cara Delevingne from her cameo in Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video. She is dressed as the confessional screen and, sad to say, this dress reveals way more than it conceals. Try again, Mother-Chucker!

 

sjp worst

Tsk, tsk. I wouldn’t expect anything less than the worst from Sarah Jessica Parker. While the papal tiara hat fits the theme, the dress looks more like a reject from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland movies. Actually, it’s more like the modern Alice in Wonderland movies crossed with the gritty Snow White and the Huntsmen movies.

 

miley cyrus worst

Miley came very close to having a wardrobe malfunction with this outfit. Not only does this outfit not fit the theme, but the plunging neckline basically screams “trying too hard to be an adult.”

 

tom brady worst

Everybody has already been mocking Tom Brady for this outfit and I don’t blame them. He looks more like he’s auditioning to be the toreador in a production of Bizet’s opera Carmen.

 

lana del and jared leto worst

Finally, we have Jared Leto and Lana Del Rey. While Lana’s outfit isn’t so bad, invoking Our Lady of Sorrows and sticking to the avante-garde style, I can’t say the same for Jared Leto’s ridiculous outfit. He looks like he belongs on a parody production of Jesus Christ Superstar or a remake of Life of Brian.

Onto the looks that I found to be the best of the bunch!

Best Dressed

zendaya best

Zendaya is one of the handful of celebrities who invoked a Joan of Arc style with her outfit. Kudos to her for evoking the beauty of armor with this outfit, along with her short hair. All she’s missing is a sword. (But maybe switch out the stilettos for boots.)

 

gigi hadid best

Gigi Hadid’s outfit is inspired by angel wings, but unlike Katy Perry, her outfit is tasteful and elegant without crossing the line into the outrageous. It flatters her body without being provocative.

 

ariana g best

Arana Gradne’s outfit was inspired by Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. It reminds me of a Tudor-era/Elizabethan dress and I really like this outfit on her. I hope to see her performing in outfits like this more often.

 

emilia clarke best

Emilia Clarke’s dress is regal and beautiful. I can see Daenerys wearing this on an episode of Game of Thrones. It reminds me of an Eastern European Catholic art. Eastern Orthodox Catholics, what do you think?

 

leticia wright best

I’m biased about this outfit because I’m a huge fan of Letitia Wright as is, given how she’s one of the few celebrities in Hollywood genuinely devoted to being a Christian (or at least having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ). Her dress, according to her Instagram, is inspired by Ethiopian culture and I can definitely see that. Points to John Boyega, too.

 

chadwick best

The robe that Chadwick Boseman is wearing is reminiscent of a bishop’s cape. On the other hand, I am reminded of royal Byzantine robes as well. The King of Wakanda would probably wear this to Latin Mass and get away with it. So yeah, kudos, T’Challa!

 

lily collins bbest

Lily Collins goes for an understated, tasteful elegance with her outfit, which evokes Our Lady of Sorrows. Points for NOT wearing a Rosary as a necklace and instead just using a silver cross chain. With some modifications, I can see some high schoolers trying to wear something like this to prom.

 

lynda carter best

Lynda Carter is another woman in a beautiful, queenly outfit that wouldn’t feel out of place in the next Wonder Woman movie, as an older Diana who has become the new queen of the Amazons.

 

donatella versace best

While I’m not sure about Donatella Versace’s face, I do love her outfit. Evoking Joan of Arc’s armor, but in a more subtle way. It’s actually an outfit that I think I might wear. Not that I would actually wear it, but it’s something that I want to wear, so that’s something.

 

blake lively best

Saving the best look for last. Blake Lively, who could give Padme Amidala a run for her money with this outfit. She honestly looks like a queen. The only thing I don’t like is that she’s married to my celebrity crush, Ryan Reynolds and has the most beautiful children with him. But that’s just me being a fangirl. 😛

If there’s one thing every Catholic can learn from this event, it’s that we need to pray for all these people, whether they had bad outfits or good ones. This is as close to authentic Catholic beauty as some of these people will ever get. Pray for these people and for a conversion of their hearts.