Monday, November 12, 2018

Why I Became Vegetarian when I was 8 Years Old

My Story:

Most people in my life know that I am a vegetarian. They know that I eat salads, that I love carbs, and even more than carbs, I love sweets. It takes absolute will power for me to turn down dessert. However, what many don't realize about me is that fact that I have been a vegetarian for over 13 years and I am 22 now. This means that I made the decision to become vegetarian when I was only 8 years old. It all started for me in first grade. My teacher at the time was reading Charlotte's Web to us one day and the story got my little brain thinking.. "Why would anyone want to eat this adorable pig?" "How can anyone harm him" and "Is this story even true?" In my head, I wanted to believe that this fictional story was just that.. fictional. However there was something in me that knew that this real, that people do kill animals to eat and that to them, animals were seen as just food.
Charlotte's Web Vegetarian

Following this book, my brain started making connections to past events in my life that include, holding a chicken on a chicken farm, petting a pig on the farm, and raising my own goldfish. These events may seem small, but they really did show me that animals had feelings and that they were loving and intelligent. Animals were our friends and we don't purposely harm or kill our friends. I thought quite a bit about this after the story and my mind shifted to eating less animals in my diet. There was one incident though that was the game changer and when I officially eliminated meat from my diet. One night, I had seen my parents cooking dinner. They were preparing red meat and lobster. I remember the terror in my eyes when I saw the cute lobsters I had just been watching getting placed into a pot of boiling water and being cooked alive. I watched as their movements slowed and they went from living creatures to food. I didn't say anything, but I was horrified. Even more, my parents were cutting up the red meat and it was just a bloody mess. I knew instantly that it was blood and that it came from an animal. In my little mind, I couldn't handle it. I loved animals and now they were in front of me, dead and as food. It just did not seem right in my mind that a loving animal could be so brutally turned into food. I swore off meat forever that day.

Growing up, I lived in what I would call a traditional Asian American household. My parents immigrated here from China and with that, they brought much of there culture here (which I really appreciate now!!). In the Chinese culture though, as in many other cultures, meat was just a regular part of a meal. Meat was also seen as a luxury food item for my parents as they had grown up poor and just could not afford meat. Now, we were able to and my parents wanted the best for me which meant feeding me as much "luxury" foods as they could afford. They wanted the best for me and I am very thankful to have such caring parents. With that being said, you can imagine how my parents reacted when I told them I was going to stop eating meat (because at that time, I didn't even know about the word vegetarian). They were confused and they thought I was joking. They would always place meat in front of me, telling me to eat it. I would refuse. At first, they weren't too upset, but it eventually got to a point where there was strong tensions between us during meal time. I know that everything they did was out of love now, but back then, we would often get quite angry at one another over the topic of meat, leading to fights during mealtime. Who knew a little kid could be this passionate? I recall one dinner in which I broke down in tears and stormed away from the dinner table over an argument about eating fish. My parents told me I would never be able to watch TV again if I didn't eat the fish. I was pissed over this conversation because I knew that they still didn't understand me and now they were using other ways to persuade me.

Eventually my parents accepted the fact that I was serious and they began to let me have my way. It definitely took a while for them to come to terms with this. I don't recall any incident that was the turning point. I believe time and persistence my end was what won them over. We started adapting our meals so that I could get the nutrients I needed while sticking to my no meat meals. We brought vegetarian protein such as various tofu's and beans to add to our dishes. My parents also began taking out my portion of the dish before adding me. This allowed me to eat what they were eating without making cooking more difficult. Overall, my parents have been supportive of my decision to go vegetarian after accepting the fact. There are times they make comments such as "You would be stronger and faster if you ate meat," or "Your skin is bad because you don't eat meat," but I don't let that bother me. I know they are coming from the right place, but in the end, I know myself the best. I now accept the fact that they probably won't even be able to understand my choices, but I am just thankful they accept me and are willing to try and adapt.

As an adult now, I am so glad that I stuck it out and stood up for what I believed was right. I have not had meat since then (on purpose, but slip ups have unfortunately happened on accident). I have no regrets and am proud to call myself a vegetarian.

Why I Became Vegetarian when I was 8 Years Old
Why I Became Vegetarian when I was 8 Years Old

Tips for Parents Whose Child Wants to be Vegetarian:

As someone who has grown up as a vegetarian and also someone who cares for kids, here are some of my tips for parents if their child wants to be vegetarian-

1) My first and most important tip is to talk to your child and find out why they want to go vegetarian. (Note this conversation should be one where you listen to them and not try to persuade them otherwise). This is so important in my opinion. You want to understand their motivation behind their reasoning and ways that you can best support them. If you show that you care and respect their decision, they are more likely to work with you to ensure that they have a healthy diet. Being dismissive will cause your child not to listen to you and even worse, forcing your child to eat meat can cause your child to not trust you or have an unhealthy relationship with food.

2) Don't just take meat off the plate. Instead, replace meat with foods such as beans or soy based products. Nothing is sadder than eating just rice and veggies or plain pasta (from personal experience, I know it's not fun). Now, you can find many "fake" meats on the market that can mimic real meat and add flavor to a dish. Also, make sure your child's diet is varied. Since children are still growing, they need to eat all types of food so make sure your child's diet is filled with fruits, veggies, grains, healthy fats, and plant based protein.

3)Iron is the most common nutrient deficiency in vegetarians and vegans. While plants may contain iron (hello spinach!), it is harder for the body to absorb iron from plants than from animal sources. Ways to increase absorption is to pair iron rich foods with Vitamin C rich foods, such as oranges, or foods rich in fat, such as olive oil (aka... olive oil in a salad helps with iron absorption).

4) Other nutrients that should be monitored are, Vitamin B-12, Protein, Vitamin D, and Calcium. Vitamin B-12 is only found naturally in animal products, therefore it is important to make sure you find foods that are fortified foods such as fortified cereals.
Protein is known to be found in meat, but thankfully, it is so easy nowadays to find non animal based protein sources. The key here is to make sure you provide your child with a variety of plant proteins to make sure that they receive all the 20 amino acids of protein.
Calcium and Vitamin D are also 2 that are a bit harder to find in a vegetarian diet, especially if your child cuts out dairy. Thankfully, it is easy nowadays to get these nutrients through non dairy milk or yogurt, the sun, and even broccoli. Most people don't know, but broccoli has a lot of calcium! If getting any of these nutrients prove to be too hard at time, supplements can help fill in the gaps. It's not my favorite way of getting the nutrients and not good for long term, but it does help at times when you are lacking.

4) Make some main meals vegetarian based. I think this tip is so important as well. Consider making a main dish once a week that is vegetarian. This will be beneficial to all. Your family can try a new dish and your child will feel included at meal time and cared for. It shows them that you are on their side and you respect their decision. On other days, cooking healthy, and yummy vegetarian for your child doesn't have to be hard. You can cook the same dish and just cook the meat separately. You can then take out a portion of your dish for your child or separate the food before adding in the different types of protein.

5) Nutrient wise, it is very possible for a child to become a vegetarian and to be healthy. (I am living proof :) The key here is to be supportive and educated on what a healthy vegetarian diet looks like and to work with your child to make meals that they like and are nutrient rich. It takes a little bit of time to get used to, but if you make an effort, it won't be too hard and your child will appreciate you for it!
Why I Became a Vegetarian
Some Yummy Vegetarian Dishes I Have Had Before

Monday, November 5, 2018

VS Pink High Waist Cool & Comfy Tight Review

Victoria Secret/Pink Cool and Comfy Tights Review

As a runner and a fitness lover, you can never have enough leggings! I have several pairs of leggings and tights from Lululemon (Oh so expensive, but it is my favorite), Under Armor, Nike, Aerie, and many other brands. Surprisingly, I have never gotten a pair from Victoria's Secret or VS Pink's Sport line. I think what held me back from trying their leggings was due to the cost vs. value that I perceived from the brand. When I think of Victoria's Secret, the first thing that comes to mine is lingerie, which is the complete opposite of athletic wear. As a result, I just never considered buying from them... until recently.

Pink launched a new line of sportswear that includes sports bras and leggings called Cool and Comfy. The line features brightly colored sports bras and black leggings to match. These leggings are designed to be seamless and smooth on your body. They are made to "hug" your body and can be worn at the gym and beyond. To me, they are sounding a bit like Lululemon Wunder Unders and I love my pair so these were worth a try.

It's hard to deny that these leggings are incredibly cute! The design that I chose came in 2 colors: Red and White. I had a hard time deciding between the two, but I eventually opted for the red pair (also known as pure black and red pepper on the website) since I don't own that many pieces with red on it. The leggings are a solid black color from the waist down to the calves. There is a slight partial ribbed texture that runs on the waistband, the butt area, and the hip area. Otherwise, it is smooth for the most part since these leggings were completely seamless. I believe this new textured material on leggings is gaining in popularity and I am starting to become a fan of it. I think it adds to the usual black leggings. On the calves, there is a red diagonal strip that runs around with the words "Pink" located on the back of the strip. Below the strip, is an adorable black and red polka dot design. It easily catches my eye and it looks a little bit like mesh from far away, but it isn't. The waistband of these tights also stands out to me. The waistband has a noticeable ribbed texture to it and is slightly thicker than the rest of the tights.
Pink Cool and Comfy Tights Review
Victoria Secret/Pink Cool and Comfy Tights Review
Fit & Comfort:
My first impression when putting these pairs of tights on was "Whoo they are tight!" I am about 5"4 and 120 lbs and usually a small or a medium in leggings. I got these in a small and they are a perfect (tight) fit. I feel that I could have gotten a medium if I wanted a bit more space, but the small works still! I would just keep that in mind though if you are between sizes and ordering online, I recommend for you to size up. As I walked around and tested my new leggings out, I felt that they were, like the name implies, comfy. These leggings are on the thicker side and with the ribbed texture in certain places, it felt very comfortable to the skin. They are smooth against me and the waistband provides a good amount of compression. These leggings are also warmer than the average pair and do feel like they are good quality. However, I don't quite feel that these tights are made for high intensity workouts. This is due to the material of the leggings which I will talk about below. I can see these tights though as being perfect for lounging around and light activities such as walking or yoga.

Victoria Secret Ribbed Texture on the Cool and Comfy Tights
Ribbed Texture on the Cool and Comfy Tights
Pink Cool and Comfy Leggings Red and Black Polka dot Pattern
Red and Black Polka dot Pattern 
The material of these leggings as stated is "imported nylon, polyester, and spandex." These materials are what I expect from leggings. The percentage of spandex in these leggings is only 6% and I do feel that these leggings could have a bit more spandex to them. They are stretchy and they do stretch very well, but I feel that this pair might end up losing their shape if I were to do high intensity workouts in them. My favorite pair of leggings, which are the "All the Right Places Leggings" from Lululemon have ~11% spandex in them which is double this pair. Despite this fact though, the material of the leggings feels soft against my skin and I enjoy having them on.

My Opinion:

There is without a doubt that the Cool and Comfy Tights are super adorable and I can easily see myself wearing them around. They can be paired simply with a black, white, or red top. They are flattering on my body shape and the seamless design makes it comfortable to wear around. The tights are thicker meaning they will keep me warm throughout the fall and the ribbed textured is a unique feature. However, I do have to point out that even though these pants state that they are for working out in, I would keep those workouts to a minimum and stick with low-medium impact exercises. These aren't the type of leggings I could picture myself running in due to the fact that it doesn't seem to wick sweat and the fact that they do roll. So even though I do not recommend these tights to run or do high intensity workouts in, I still love them and think that they are the perfect pair of leggings to lounge and walk around in. If you are a fan of VS Pink or of leggings with a simple, yet cute design, I would highly recommend them!
The price for these leggings as of now are listed for just under $50. This is a high price point especially for a Graduate student (whose also working an unpaid internship). To be honest, for the quality of the leggings and my recommend usages for these leggings, I do not think they are worth that price. However, I have seen deals and sales online where the tights drop significantly in price. Last week, I saw a deal on their site that included a pair of tights and a sports bra for just $35. In that case, I would say they are definitely worth the price! 

Cool and Comfy Tights/Leggings Review
Cool and Comfy Tights/Leggings Review
  • They are super cute!
  • Feel smooth and comfortable against the skin
  • Thicker material
  • Perfect for lounging around or light activities
  • Squat proof :) 
  • No pockets :( 
  • Not ideal for high intensity workouts --> Not Sweat Resistant and occasional rolling down
  • Not as much compression as I would like 

 Cool and Comfy Tights by Pink/VS Review
My Review of the Cool and Comfy Tights by Pink/VS
Shop My Look:

Shoes: Nike 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Easiest exercises to Burn off Halloween Candy

Ways to burn off Halloween Candy
Easiest ways to burn off Halloween Candy
It's hard to believe, but October is coming to an end soon, and this can only mean one thing... HALLOWEEN! 

If you are anything like me, you know halloween means a couple of things: 
  • Costumes
  • Haunted Houses
  • Corn Mazes
  • Trick or Treating
  • Scary Movies
  • And of course.. .LOTS OF CANDY 

Yes, LOTS of Candy (especially the after halloween sales!) Halloween is known as the start of the holiday season and with that comes a lot of food. It's only right to indulge and enjoy yourself this time of year since it only comes once and in the end, you need to enjoy your life. As long as you have balance, it will be alright.

Today I wanted to do some fun calculations just to put things into perspective. When it comes to losing weight, Calories In<Calories Out. For maintaining weight, Calories In=Calories Out. The formula is simple as long as you know how many calories you are putting into your body. The more you weigh, the more you burn as well since a heavier person has to work harder to do the same things that a lighter person does. This is when it starts to get tricky for some people since many people tend to underestimate their food or forget to count all the foods that they eat. 

Candy is tricky, especially around this time of the year where it is all around you. Fun sized candies seem like they would be low in calories, but the issue is that many people eat more than one serving of fun sized candy because it so small. It can be so easy to grab a couple handfuls or some snack sized bars from the table, and it does add up fast since there is a lot of sugar in these items! I wanted to do something fun today and compare the amount of calories in popular halloween candy to how long it would take you to burn those candy calories off. Lets get started with some of the most popular Halloween candies!

What are the calorie counts of the most popular Halloween candies?

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup (1 package, 2 prices, 1.5 oz):  
Calories: 210
Sugar: 21 grams

To burn 2 pieces of Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, you would need to do 60 minutes of walking, 20 minutes of running, 29 minutes of swimming, or 66 minutes of weight lifting. 
Exercises to burn off Reese's pieces
Twix (1 package, 2 pieces, 1.7 oz):  
Calories: 250
Sugar: 17 grams

To burn 2 pieces of Twix, you would need to do 72 minutes of walking, 24 minutes of running, 34 minutes of swimming, or 76 minutes of weight lifting. 

Exercises to burn off Twix
M&M's Milk Chocolate (1.7 oz package):  
Calories: 240
Sugar: 21 grams

To burn of one 1.7 bag of M&M's Milk Chocolate, you would need to do 69 minutes of walking, 23 minutes of running, 33 minutes of swimming, or 79 minutes of weight lifting. 

Exercises to burn off M & M's

Snickers Fun SizedBar (0.6 oz):  
Calories: 80
Sugar: 8.5 grams

To burn one fun sized Snickers bar, you would need to do 25 minutes of walking, 8 minutes of running, 11 minutes of swimming, or 25 minutes of weight lifting. 

Exercises to burn off Snickers
Sour Patch Kids (56 g Bag):  
Calories: 200
Sugar: 35 grams

To burn a bag of Sour Patch Kids, you would need to do 23 minutes of walking, 19 minutes of running, 27 minutes of swimming, or 64 minutes of weight lifting. 

Exercises to burn off Sour Patch Kids
Skittles (1 Fun Sized Package):  
Calories: 61
Sugar: 11 grams

To burn a bag of fun sized Skittles, you would need to do 18 minutes of walking, 6 minutes of running, minutes of swimming, or 19 minutes of weight lifting. 

Exercises to burn off Skittles

York Peppermint Patty (1 piece):  
Calories: 140
Sugar: 25 grams
To burn a York Peppermint Patty, you would need to do 40 minutes of walking, 13 minutes of running, 19 minutes of swimming, or 45 minutes of weight lifting. 

Exercises to burn off York peppermint Patty

How about other fun ways to burn off candy?

If you are not a fan of working out or the traditional exercises, here are some other ways to burn off some of that extra Halloween Candy.
  • Vacuum the carpet for 30 minutes (~100 calories). 
  • Raking leaves for 60 minutes (~250 calories).
  • Going grocery shopping (as long as you aren't buying more Halloween candy!) and pushing the cart around for 45 minutes (~110 calories).
  • Doing yard work for 15 minutes (~75 calories).
  • Sing and dance like no one is watching for 15 minutes (~50 calories).
  • Give a massage for 60 minutes (~210 calories).
Exercises to burn off Halloween Candy
Exercises to burn off Halloween Candy
  • Keep in mind that if you eat extra calories above your daily calorie amount, the workouts you do need to be extra as well in order to maintain your weight. 
  • Remember that these exercises don't need to be done all in one day. You can break it up and do a little bit extra everyday. (Every little bit counts!) You are more likely to stick with the extra workout each day if you don't go overboard one day.
  • When you do eat Halloween candy, try to limit yourself to the serving size that is listed. It is so easy to go overboard (trust me I know!), but your body will thank you for it. Halloween candy is not bad for you as long as you eat it in moderation. :) 

*Calorie Count of candies provided by Calorie King. Calories burned provided by My Fitness Pal and and Calorie King and are based on a 140 lb woman. Your actual calories burned will vary depending on your age, gender, and weight. If you are a male, you will burn more. You will also burn more if you are younger and are heavier than 140 lbs*

Monday, October 22, 2018

8 Tips for Staying Healthy While in College/Graduate School

Tips to Stay Healthy As a student in College and Graduate School
My Personal 8 Tips to Staying Healthy While in College & Graduate School
It's already Fall :)  Halloween is coming up. Midterms are around the corner and you just got assigned another project. The last thing on your mind right now is exercising and eating healthy. However, when it comes down to it, staying healthy is just as important as writing your 20 pages essay for English Class.

Graduate school, and especially college is undoubtedly an exciting time. For many of us, this is the first time we are away from our homes. This is the first time we are given freedom. We are surrounded by people who are our age and working towards our future goal. I know for me personally, I was extremely excited to live somewhere else besides my home. Unfortunately, as many of you already know and are probably experience, college and graduate school is also an incredibly stressful time of our lives. Between the readings, essays, exams, and balancing a social life (because in college, yes there is always something to do), you can find yourself living an unhealthy lifestyle. 

So how does a student stay healthy while juggling the requirements of school and a social life?
It has taken me quite a bit of trial and error, but here are things that worked for me when it comes to staying healthy.

1.  Make Small Changes:
If you are used to one type of lifestyle, it can be tough to change your lifestyle all of a sudden. Because of this, I recommend making small goals each week that you know you can accomplish. For example, if you are someone who never goes to the gym, make it a goal to go to the gym 1x or 2x a week. This is a small, reachable goal. Once you reach your goal, you can increase the goal until you reach the level you want. I find this to be the best way to make changes because it guarantees a higher chance of success. If I were to start of with the goal of going to the gym 6x a week, I would most likely fail. This would lead to me being upset and giving up on my goal of being healthy. When small goals are made and you reach them, you will feel motivated to keep going.

2. Prioritize Your Goals:
This tip relates a bit to the last one in the sense that you must pick a few things to improve at a time. When you start a journey to being healthy, there is a temptation to go overboard and try to do everything at once. You'll want to start running, lifting weights, meal prepping, drinking kombucha.. This list goes on. There is a lot you can do, but realistically, you can only do a couple of things at once. Because of this, you need to prioritize which changes are the most important and doable for you at first. For example, if you want to increase you activity, you can make it a goal to take the stairs everywhere rather than the elevator. You could also make it a goal to walk around for 5 minutes for every hour you spend sitting and studying. (I personally love this tip as it breaks up my studying time and it helps me actually focus better on my studies!)  

3. Make Time For It:
I wish there was a way to avoid this, but there is no way to deny that exercise and eating healthy are likely to take up time. Before you panic though, I am not saying it will take up a lot of your time, but you must plan for it. I understand that being a student already comes with a heavy work load, but if you want to get healthy, you have to plan for it. From meal prepping to working out at the gym, these things require time upfront. However, you will reap rewards from these activities after. Meal prepping is done once or twice a week. After that, you will have food for the rest of the week and save yourself some money! Exercise will lead to you being more focused and energetic throughout the day which will help you with your studies. Long story short, do make some time for it, but you don't need to go crazy. 

4. Try HITT:
Besides running, HITT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts are one of my favorite ones to do. HITT is a short, but highly effective workout. HITT workouts range from very short (4 minutes) to longer ones and you can pick the one that fits your own schedule. The thing that makes HITT so effective is that fact that you must push your body to the near max while preforming the exercises. HITT is made to get your body sweating and your heart beating right away. I personally love to do HITT workouts throughout the day or in the morning as a way to kick start my body.

5. Try Eating More "Plant Based" Foods: 
We all know the importance of having a proper diet. A healthy diet allows our body to function properly and gives us the energy to go about our day. I am a big advocate for eating plant based. According to Wikipedia 
"A plant based diet is a diet based on foods derived from plants, including vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fruits, but with few or no animal products." 
 know This could have different meaning for everyone, but for me, that means incorporating more vegetables, fruits, nuts, and plant proteins into my meals. Whenever I reach for a snack, I always for for a piece of fruit with a protein such as butters or buts. The fruit provides me with nutrients while the protein keeps me full. For my meals, I make sure to load up on veggies, making sure that they take up about half of my meal. A good way for me to achieve this is to blend my fruits and veggies. I can throw all my veggies and fruits into a blender and drink my plants! This is perfect for a student who is always on the go (like me!). On the side, I choose to eat some carbs such as pasta and a serving of plant protein such as beans or tofu.

6. Limit Your Caffeine Intake: 
Along with this, I am going to add: "Get Enough Sleep!" The lack of sleep is the one that I struggle the most on. When my schedule gets busy, sleep is almost always the first to go. When it comes to coffee though, the debate on whether it is good or bad for you is half and half. Coffee is known to increase your metabolism, improve your energy, and burn fat. However, caffeine also leads to a dependence on it which is not good. What is known though is that too much coffee is certainly not good your your health. Because of this, I recommend limiting yourself to 2 cups of it a day. If you find yourself needing more than 2 cups, you may need to look into your sleep habits and making sure are getting enough hours of ZZZZZZ each night.

Tips to Stay Healthy While in School
Coffee can be helpful for a tired college student, but too much coffee is not healthy. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and not relying on coffee to get through your day.  

7. Forgive Yourself:
This tip has a couple meanings, but the main message to take away is that no one is perfect. We are humans and life sometimes gets in the way. If you had planned to wake up early to hit the gym before class on Monday before classes started, but hit the snooze button a couple times too much, don't fret too much about it. There are times where plans don't go the way we want and as long as it doesn't become a frequent thing, it won't matter in the long run. The same can be said with your diet. You've been eating clean for weeks and all of a sudden, you go out with your friends and you have fries and a milkshake. It's not the end of the world! You had fun (which is 100% allowed) and got to spend time with your friends. The thing that matters now is that you get back on track after the meal.

8. Do It Your Way:
There is no one or right way to get fit. We are all different with different needs and different responsibilities. When it comes to exercise, find what you enjoy and stick with it. Some people may prefer high impact workouts like running (me!) while others like low impact yoga. Some people may like to work out alone while other perform their best in group classes. A example of this that I struggled with before was the idea that "You need to workout in the morning." I tried this tip and while it made sense for some things such as running (running outside at 6am vs. 9pm at night in the dark), it did not make the most sense for workouts such as the gym. I find myself more productive, less drowsy, and stronger when I worked out during the evening or at night vs. the crack of dawn.  My body just could not wake up. Now I will still wake up to run in the morning for safety reasons, but whenever it's a gym day, I save that for later in the day and I allow myself to get some extra (much needed) sleep!

Tips to Stay Healthy In college and Graduate School
While studying is important as a student, taking care of your body and making sure you are healthy is equally as important. 
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