Friday, September 22, 2017

Smile Because It Happened

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“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – often attributed to Dr. Seuss

My 10 weeks of leave of absence from work is almost over.  On Monday I go back to work.  I wanted to extend it to mid-October, but they really wanted me back at work for quarter-end.  I feel so wistful today.  I can honest say that I’ve had the most amazing time the last 2.5 months.  The best time of my adult life.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity to take this leave from work.  I would highly recommend anyone to do it if they can.  It makes me look forward to the day that I can “retire” from work, hopefully in a few years!

I have a few more posts to document my life the last 2-3 weeks, but it may not happen until this weekend or next weekend.  However, I wanted to write a summary post of how I feel about my leave of absence from work, and also what I’ve learned during this time.

  • Don’t put your life on hold because of work demands, stress, or pressure.  I was giving the best of myself during work time, and the rest of my life was getting the shaft.  I was exhausted when I got home, and vegged out the rest of the evening.  I felt like a big slug.  I was not socializing with friends as much, because it just felt like I didn’t have the energy.  With everything going on at work lately (layoffs, massive changes, etc), my work friends and I have come to the sad conclusion that the corporation/company that you work for doesn’t really care about you.  They can get rid of you in a hot second.  So to think that you would be rewarded for putting in a ton of extra effort and time is foolish.  This is a hard lesson for me, since I am Type A overachiever personality.  But it is something that I really had to learn for myself.  Working extra hard and putting the rest of my life on hold did not get me any rewards at work.  It will not happen again.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me!
  • Exercising is a priority.  I exercised 6 days per week during my leave.  I will continue to do so after I go back to work.  I had forgotten how many benefits there are to exercising regularly.  I talked about why I was able to stick to regular exercising this time in this post.  My body felt so great when I moved it every day.  I really enjoyed the types of exercises I was doing.  My daily energy level improved so much.  And daily exercising improved my overall mood.  I’m so glad that I was able to totally reset my relationship with exercising, and was able to do it consistently almost every single day.  This was one of my intentions for my leave, and I did it.  I will continue to do it.
  • Make time for friends and family.  Social support is everything.  Before my leave, I was not socializing with friends as much.  It just felt like it was a big effort, after I had already “shot my wad” during the week at work.  This was totally wrong.  During my leave I was able to schedule social time with a friend every week, if not twice a week.  I loved hanging out with them and chatting.  It really gave me a sense of social support, and that I matter and I am cared for.  I saw my dad and Shelly and hung out with them.  I made a trip to Dallas to see my sister and her family.  All this was precious to me.  I will continue to make time for friends and family. 
  • Sleeping is a priority.  We often have the mentality that sleep is the time leftover after we do all our other things.  We are short-changing ourselves on something that’s vastly important for our health.  Staying up to watch TV, watch movies, read, surf the internet, etc is totally not worth it.  Sleep is when our bodies regenerate.  Lack of sleep is related to a host of health issues.  Instead of thinking of sleep as depriving ourselves of doing those other things we want to do, we should think of sleep as the ultimate “me time”.  During my leave I was able to reset my sleeping habits and got 7-9 hours of sleep regularly.  It really made a big difference in my overall well-being. 

I thought I was going to get more accomplished during my leave.  Things like house projects, purging, cleaning, organizing, etc.  But I hardly got those things done.  I’ve come to realize those are secondary to my primary intentions above.  I mean, I can hire people to do these secondary things, but only I myself can do the priority things above.  Those were absolutely up to me, and they were the most urgent things that I needed to change about myself.  So in that respect I feel very accomplished and awesome! 

I feel nothing but gratefulness that I was able to take 10 weeks off work.  Grateful to my manager for allowing it to happen, at great cost to him and my team.  Grateful to Todd for supporting me.  I  have never felt happier in my adult life.  I will do everything I can to carry this knowledge and these changes forward.  Onwards and upwards!

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Monday, September 4, 2017

Fitness Journey

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Yesterday I finished my six week workout program Walk Strong 6 Week Total Transformation System without missing any workouts.  I worked out six days a week for six weeks!  I’m pretty excited to complete this program successfully, and I’ve already restarted the program today to do it for another six weeks. 

A little background on my fitness background and journey.  I started working out at the age of 27 (twenty years ago).  I was experiencing shoulder and back issues after working at my desk job for a few years.  I asked my father-in-law, who is a physician, about how I could combat those issues.  He told me that I need to strengthen my back and shoulders.  So I started going to my work gym to do weights, and gradually started walking and then running on the treadmill as well.  That has led to a lifetime of striving for fitness.  I have pretty much regularly worked out since then, with the exception of a few months here and there when I had fallen off the fitness wagon due to life circumstances.  I have run a marathon (26.2 miles), two half marathons (13.1 miles), and various other running races of shorter distances.  I have done workout programs such as Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred, P90X, P90X3, T25, etc.  Over the last two years, I’ve also been avidly walking and trying to get my 10,000 steps in daily.  The months right before my leave of absence from work, I had fallen off the workout wagon and was not exercising regularly.  One of my main goals during my leave was to workout almost every day and to reset my fitness journey to take me to a good place.

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I think my relationship with exercising is complicated.  I’m just now coming to a place of really understanding the purpose of exercising in my life.  For most of my life, I thought of exercising as a way to lose weight, or to maintain weight.  What I’ve found is that reason alone is not really enough to keep me exercising, because it sounded like a chore.  Plus, current research show that diet (what we eat and how much we eat) is MUCH more correlated with losing weight than exercise is.  I really had to dig deep and come up with “my reason why".  In the end, I had to reframe exercising as a priviledge, because I am worth it.  It cannot be something that I “have to” do.  It has to be something I “get to” do, and that I enjoy.  It has to be FUN.  And I like how good it feels to exercise my body.  How great I feel after I exercise.  And how motivated I am to keep going when the hill that was hard to walk up before now is a piece of cake.  I want to be a strong person as I get older, so that I can do all the functional things in life with ease.

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I’ve been thinking about why I was able to complete the program successfully this time, and what I’ve learned from it.  I wanted to share with you, in case it resonates with any of you.  I’m really speaking from personal experience.  I understand that everyone is different, and there isn’t a perfect workout program for everyone. 

  • My top priority in exercising is being consistent.  Being able to achieve results and changing my body is much more likely when I exercise on a consistent basis.  For me personally, this meant avoiding exercises that were too hard, too complicated, or too time-consuming.  This program told me what workout to do every day for six weeks.  It was only 30 minutes each day, which is not too time-consuming.  It was not too hard for me to do, yet challenging enough to feel like an accomplishment.  I have tried P90X before, but for me, it was too hard on my body, I couldn’t do the pushups and pullups, and it was too much time commitment.  All those things led me to fail before. 
  • The amount of exercise time and level of exertion is important.  In the past, when I ran long distances for hours, or when I did workouts that were too hard, I felt depleted afterwards instead of energized.  I didn’t want to feel exhausted after exercising, so much so that I needed to take a nap.  I also didn’t want to exercise for too long and too hard, such that I end up eating everything in sight afterwards. 
  • Exercising should make me feel happy, not frustrated or sad.  This program has a lot of fun elements to it, and I feel myself looking forward to certain days when I get to do my favorite workouts.  The key to consistency is finding something fun that I could enjoy and look forward to every day.  And I really feel that my daily mood has improved, as well as my sense of well-being.
  • I need a workout program that worked my entire body, not just certain parts.  In the past when I concentrated too much on one type of workout, whether that was running or cardio or weights, I ended up being injured.  I really wanted to avoid overuse injuries this time, so that I could keep going every day and not be sidelined by injuring my body.  You can’t be consistent with exercising if you are injured or too sore.  The 10 workouts in this exercise program has cardio, strength, flexibility, high intensity interval training, and total body workouts.  These workouts make my entire body feel good and strong, and I haven’t been so sore that I can’t do the workouts every day.  The program has good variety and good rotation schedule so you’re never working the same body parts on back to back days.
  • The program removed barriers to exercising for me.  In the past I wouldn’t exercise consistently, because it took too much time and motivation to plan out what exercises I should do each day and each week and each month.  I’m also not an expert on anatomy and exercise science, so any program I could come up with myself was probably not optimal anyways.  I like taking the guesswork out and having a program that tells me what to do each day.  It took away the mental stumbling block of “what workout should I do today”?

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So what are my results and how do I feel about them?  What are my plans going forward? 

First off, I did not lose weight.  That is ok with me, since it was not my goal with this exercise program.  I did not change my diet during the first go at this 6 week program.  However, my body FEELS totally different.  My posture is way better.  I feel strong in my core, shoulders, back, and legs.  I have triceps now.  Walking up a hill is SO much easier.  My weight stayed the same, but I have lost a little bit of fat and my clothes fit better.  Overall, I just feel good in my body, which is a huge thing, when you think about it.  Often times as women, we have body image issues, or we emphasize LOOKING good.  But feeling good about your body and what it can do is MORE important and more awesome!  And probably longer lasting.

Going forward, I am starting the 6 week program over again.  But this time, I am going to try eating healthier and eating smaller portions to see if I can lose some more fat.  I don’t believe in cutting any foods out of my life.  Just eating sensibly and mindfully, and less sugar.  I’m excited to see where that takes me after this additional 6 weeks.  My biggest hurdle that I have to figure out is how to keep going with my exercising habits after I go back to work.  I can’t allow work to derail my success, so I need to figure out and remove barriers.  It was a lot easier to stick to a daily exercise program when I didn’t have to go to work! 

I hope that sharing my fitness journey and what I’ve learned is helpful to you.  I am constantly inspired by other people’s journeys, so I thought I should pay it forward and share mine, in case it is helpful to anyone else.  Just remember that everybody is different.  You have to find your own “why” and “how”.  Smile

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Social Hours

I’ve been having a ton of fun just getting together with friends.  Most weeks I have had lunch or dinner with a friend, or been out doing stuff with friends.  That was one of the things that I had stopped doing as much in the last year.  Work was leaving me too exhausted to socialize with friends.  I am glad to be cultivating my friendships again, because I think it’s really important for my mental health. 

What I haven’t been remembering to do is take photos with my friends every time we get together.  Hopefully I can remember more often than not!

On Tuesday 8/15 I had lunch with my friend Erecca at Stir Fresh.  I forgot to take a photo of us, but I remembered to take one of my food, LOL.

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I actually have a story to tell about this lunch outing.  I was in line at Stir Fresh, getting my ingredients together for the Mongolian grill.  I was in the inner line and when I finished getting my ingredients, a bunch of guys from the outer line got in front of me with their food.  I asked what the line procedure was, since it seemed to me that they were cutting in front of me at the grill.  They said I had to go to the back of the line behind them, and I didn’t agree.  One of the other guys in the back of the outer line started arguing with me and then said, “Yea, you’re a genius” in a really sarcastic way.  I said, “There’s no need for name calling.”  After we got our food we sat down and I was slightly rattled.  I don’t normally get into verbal arguments with strangers in public.  But Charlottsville had just happened a few days prior, and I am Asian and my friend Erecca is black.  Maybe I was more sensitive due to recent events.  So Erecca and I talked about Charlottesville and racism, and how she wants to talk to her biracial kids about it but didn’t know how yet.  At the end of our meal, when the waitress brought our boxes for leftovers to us, she said that someone paid for our check already.  On the way out, I asked her who paid for it.  She said the guy said he felt bad for acting like a jerk in line, so he wanted to pay for our food.  I was totally surprised by it.  And I was also humbled by it.  Because of recent events and how my view of our beautiful country is clouded by racism, I was humbled to see that what I had assumed was racism was not, and that I shouldn’t make assumptions about people in general.  I was humbled because I was sort of doing exactly what I didn’t want other people to do. 

On Thursday 8/17 I met up with Sally for dinner at a new dim sum place called Fung Fung Yuen

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I’ll just state up front that I would not recommend this place to anyone right now.  The service is slow and horrible, and the food is just so so.  The saving grace was that this was my first adult girlfriend date with one of my best friends in YEARS.  So I treasured the conversations that we had, despite the very slow and terrible service at the restaurant.  If I had been in a hurry, I would have pulled my hair out.   Dim sum is usually a place where the food come around on rolling carts and you point to what you want and they put it immediately on your table.  Well, this place just didn’t have enough food and carts to go around, because we didn’t see many carts with food come by our table, and we had a LONG time in between dishes.  I was so hungry.  I didn’t take photos of all the food, but here are a couple we had.

Xiao Long Bao

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BBQ pork buns

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Shrimp balls

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The wait staff hardly ever came by our table.  We asked for a menu and it never came.  We asked another person for a menu and got one 10 minutes later.  Then it took forever for anyone to show up to take our order.  We wanted to actually order some food because there wasn’t enough food on carts coming around.  Then they never showed up with the check and we had to ask for it several times while waiting for a long time.  Then after we up our credit card down, nobody came to get it.  I actually had to wave the bill and credit card in my hand for a couple of minutes before someone came to get it.  It was the worst meal experience I’ve had in a long time.  But it was contrasted by the best experience of hanging out with a long time friend and chatting like adults, without kids.  I like hanging out with all of them, but it had literally been YEARS since we had adult girlfriend time.  And this was only the 2nd time we’ve done it since the kids were born 5.5 years ago.

On Saturday 8/19 we went to Todd’s company picnic at Liberty Station in Point Loma. 

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We saw lots of Todd’s friends there, as well as my friend Daryl’s family.  We failed to get a photo with anyone, LOL.  But I do have a couple of photos of the food!

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We saw this big sign and had to take a photo in front of it.  Liberty Station used to be the US Naval training station. 

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On Tuesday 8/22 I had lunch with my friend Susan from work at Curry And More.  Good food and good service at this place!

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I had a lot of fun catching up with Susan and talk work gossip as well.  I don’t miss work, but I do miss my work friends and hearing about what’s going on at work!

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On Wednesday 8/23 we went to Todd’s friends Jonathan & Kameran’s house for dinner.  Once again we forgot to take photos of people, but I took a photo of my plate, ha ha.  They have a smoker and served up some smoked BBQ ribs!  We brought the broccoli and dessert.  It was a fun evening of chatting.

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On Sunday 8/27, I drove to Miramar Lake at 8:30 in the morning to meet up with Sally and her mom and kids for a morning walk.  When I first got there, there was still fog over the lake and the view was really cool!

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We walked for two hours and got about 4-5 miles in.  I had 12,000 steps on my Fitbit when I left.  It was fun to get some movement in while hanging out!

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Todd has said to me that he’s glad that I am hanging out with girlfriends while I’m on leave.  I’m thankful for them.  Many of them have reached out to me to schedule fun lunch dates.  I have not felt isolated at all, even though I am not working right now.  It’s been a blessing!

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Sunshine in My Pocket

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I cannot get over how happy & joyful I have been since the start of my leave of absence from work.  On various days, I would just randomly text Todd while he’s at work and say, “I’m SO happy!!”  It really has been the best time of my adult life.  I need to figure out how to carry this mindset with me when I return to work. I also need to figure out some coping mechanisms for the stress.  Work has not been my friend the last two years.  It was a perfect storm where I got way more responsibilities dumped on me, and then just massive changes happening every few months, and not being appreciated.  I was really unhappy at work and I let it permeate into the rest of my life.  No more!  I will write a separate post soon about my relationship with work and what I have learned since going on leave.

I’m behind on documenting the stuff we’ve been doing!

On Friday night 8/11 we drove down to the Embarcadero Marina to see the San Diego Symphony orchestra play all the scores from the ET movie while watching the movie.  I haven’t seen the movie in years!  As always, the combination of the San Diego waterfront, sunset, symphony, and movie is amazing.

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Before the show, we had a quick dinner at The Kebab Shop.  We usually share a plate.

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On Sunday 8/13 morning, Todd went swimming in the ocean with the San Diego Triathlon Club.  Someone got a group photo this time (I downloaded it from Facebook)!  Todd is on the left, right behind the waving hand.  Ocean swimming is no joke, so I’m glad Todd has the Tri Club to swim with!

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After he came back, we went to Little Italy for some lunch.

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We went to Monello, one of our favorite Italian restaurants in San Diego.  For weekend brunch, they have these croissants with nutella!  There are actually a few fillings you can pick from.

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Todd had the fish.

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I had the squid ink pasta with octopus.  This is my favorite dish there!

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We thought the Little Italy Mercado (farmer’s market) was on Sundays, but it’s on Saturdays, so we missed it.  We walked around and went to Lofty Coffee to share a latte.

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It was a fun outing in Little Italy.  We hadn’t been in a long while.  That evening, we took a walk after dinner, on the trail by our house.  The light was just perfect, and it was so picturesque.  Of course, we had to walk quickly so we could go back home and start watching Game of Thrones!

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Todd took day off on Monday 8/14, so we went to lunch at Bongiornos.  This is Todd’s favorite casual pizza joint, so he’s always happy & excited to go there.

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On Tuesday 8/15, we cooked Lemon-Browned Butter Cod with Hazelnut Pilaf.  One of our favorite fish dishes!

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On Wednesday 8/16 I got my haircut and pink hair coloring done.  It took 4.5 hours!  If I were working I would have had to take a half day off for it.  Afterwards I met up with Todd at Punjabi Tandoor nearby for dinner.  This is our favorite Indian food in San Diego.

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Afterwards, Todd’s softball team Mean Green Peace Machine (MGPM) played their playoff game against Natty Ice.  My friend Daryl plays on Natty Ice, so I went to game to watch it.  But my loyalty was with MGPM, of course!  Smile

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Todd played well.  He had a couple of hits and caught a couple of fly balls for outs in the outfield. 

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But unfortunately, they lost to Natty Ice and were eliminated from the playoffs.  One last team cheer!

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The team captain, Jared, told Todd afterwards that he nominated Todd for “Most Improved Player” this year.  That’s fantastic!  I’m so proud of Todd, especially since this was his first year playing.  And I loved seeing him bond with his teammates, be a team player, and having fun. 

On Friday 8/18, Todd led his work lunch book club in a discussion of the book “Meddling Kids”.  He got up early to make these chocolate chocolate chip cookies with chocolate cream cheese frosting, so he could bring it to book club!  These were fantastic.  He left two cookies for me and they were gone in no time.

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Of couse, Monday 8/21 was the solar eclipse.  We didn’t have total eclipse in San Diego.  I think it was around 55% eclipse.  I went outside with a colander a few minutes before the max 55% eclipse and took some photos and a video during the max eclipse at 10:23 AM.  So fun!

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Check out the crescent shaped shadows in the holes!

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And I watched the total eclipse on TV as it went across the US.  So cool!

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Gray & Pink

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I thought I would take advantage of the time that I’m not working in the corporate world to do something fun with my hair.  Something that would reflect me.  So I went pink!  I also decided to NOT color my salt & pepper roots anymore for now.  I don’t care that people know that a middle-aged woman has some gray hair, LOL.  I am tired of covering the gray that I do have.  I feel fine about them and see no reason to hide them for now.  But I also know that I wanted to have some fun with my hair, so I asked my hairstylist Mel at Ahura Salon to add in the pink. 

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The pink was actually like two or three pink colors mixed in there.  One of them glows under black light!  Here’s the before and after of the back.

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She actually had to lighten strands of my hair first in order for the pink to really show.  So the pink will fade eventually to a strawberry blonde color.  I got a little bit of length taken off, and more layers put in.

And since I am working out every day, and it’s still summer, I have my hair in a ponytail quite a bit.  So I asked Mel to put in some pink strands on the underside of my hair so that they would show when I put my hair up.

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I’m very pleased with how it turned out.  When my hair is mostly gray or all gray, I’ll be able to have rainbow hair without having to strip color off first!  Something to look forward to!  Smile

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