I've spent much of 2018 learning about how to be a better human. Looking back, I think my evolution from one who was solely focused on school or work and whoever was my boyfriend at that time - not exercising, eating right, taking care of my mind and body, spending time with friends, focusing on personal development - really started in 2016. Keep reading if you want a detailed timeline of how I got here.
Early 2016 I kept seeing Kayla Itsines BBG ads on Instagram. I was not happy with my body and feeling fluffy after years of takeout and no exercise. I kept thinking: only 28 min a day and I can eventually look like some of those ladies' after pictures?! If so many women in the world can do it I can do it. I finally pulled the trigger to buy the app that summer. As per usual, my consistent workouts only lasted a month, maybe two, before they fizzled. That was all I managed to accomplish in 2016.
In January 2017, I took advantage of Kayla's new year discount and 12-week challenge with the BBG community and tried again. I stuck to it! I didn't change my diet at all. I did 12 full weeks, 3-5 workouts per week (ok, most weeks it was just the 3 HIIT workouts). I took progress photos every Sunday. Some weeks the pictures were motivating because I'd see my muscles getting stronger, but other weeks I'd analyze the pictures and wonder why I wasn't seeing more progress. Every workout was hard, and it never got easier. Incorporating it into my daily routine got slightly easier over time, but it definitely wasn't a strong habit yet. It just made me realize I could do something physically and mentally hard for an extended period of time if I wanted it.
In April 2017, I started a fitness Instagram account to track my progress and get inspiration from others in the health and fitness community. After extensive research I decided to try the keto diet. A good friend of mine had been on it for a couple years and had a bunch of tips and recipes, which made it easier for me to get started. I downloaded MyFitnessPal, tracked everything I ate, and successfully ate less than 20g of net carbs a day for a couple months. The only reason I was able to stick to it was because of fear. Fear of getting huge because I ate carbs on top of the butter, cheese, bacon and whipped cream I was eating. I wasn't focused on quality - just on how to hit my ideal fat:protein:carbs ratio each day. I starting drinking coffee with grass fed butter and coconut oil every morning to get my fat intake up, and the brain fog I had for what felt like my whole life seemed to dissipate. I was waking up slightly earlier every morning. I didn't feel as dead when I woke up. The weird blurry eye sight thing I had on the weekends went away. I thought: could keto be the answer to being so so tired every day of my life? Was I about to be Bradley Cooper in Limitless by switching to fat for fuel??
In June 2017, I decided to try Whole30. I thought: If I could make it 2 months with less than 20g of net carbs a day, I can do this diet. I mean, I can eat sweet potatoes on Whole30! I made it 2 weeks and then had a company customer conference. I don't drink much - my Asian body rejects alcohol - so that part of Whole30 wasn't too difficult for me. However, the big night of the conference included renting out all of Tao in the Meatpacking District, and being tempted by delicious platters of food. Eventually, I gave in when the massive dessert boat came out. I thought: when will I ever have this experience again? So I ate some of every dessert on that boat and more. I can still taste the ridiculously fresh strawberry ice cream I was moaning over. And then I figured, fuck it. I ordered a whiskey soda, continued onto the club, and ended the night the last one in the club because I took a longer than intended nap in the bathroom.
The next day, I went to Doughnut Planet and crushed a coconut cream donut that I thought I wanted but couldn't enjoy because I was too hung over. Then I tried not to puke my entire train ride back to Boston. You do not want to be on an Amtrak hungover.
And that was it for 2017. I spent the first 6 months of the year being my best self from an eating and exercising perspective, and went the next 6 months basically eating garbage and not exercising. I fell off the bandwagon hard and couldn't motivate myself to get back on.
To be fair, 2017 wasn't a complete loss. I started following super inspiring and knowledgable people on Instagram that I've learned a lot from and who introduced me to new people to follow, products, books or podcasts. I also launched my JESSI+CO side hustle -- all natural, minimum ingredients beauty and home products that are easy and accessible. While I reverted back to my old eating and exercising habits and was putting shit into my body, I started caring about what I was putting on my body.
In January 2018, I wanted to be wedding-bod ready by 9/1/18, so I went back to what worked for me before: BBG. I also went to Costa Rica for vacation, which inspired me to get back into yoga. When I came back I found a yoga studio and signed up for a 20-class pack.
In February 2018, I started keto again. It worked for me last year from an energy perspective, so I thought it'd work again this year. I didn't quite feel the same effects, but I did feel leaner and better overall.
In March 2018, I read "Food, What the Heck Should I Eat?" by Dr. Mark Hyman, and that book changed everything. I finally understood why you should buy organic and eat grass-fed, and how we've been misinformed this whole time. Fats aren't bad for you, the food pyramid is backwards and nonsense, dairy isn't a good source of calcium, not all calories are equal, canola oil is terrible for you. I decided after that book I wanted to change my lifestyle.
I started buying all organic fruits and veggies, grass-fed meat, pasture-raised eggs and trying to eat as much whole foods and veggies as possible.
I also started listening to the Critical Conversations podcast, by Laura Gluck and Briana Reesing, two inspiring ladies passionate about preventative health who I followed on Instagram. I had never gotten into podcasts before, but after I started listening to this one, I was hooked and wanted more.
I started listening to Bulletproof Radio with Dave Asprey and learning so much about the body and biohacking. I added more podcasts to my library: mindbodygreen, Dr. Stephen Cabral's Cabral Concept, and Dr. Mark Hyman's The Doctor's Farmacy. I learned about circadian rhythms, gluten and other food intolerances, microbiome, gut and digestion, autophagy, inflammation, autoimmune diseases, memory, toxins, and more. I listened to podcasts on the walk to work, on the train back and forth to NYC, while I made my JESSI+CO goods.
These podcasts made me realize that I can and should feel great every day. I shouldn't wake up feeling tired every morning and throughout the day. I can live a really long, high quality life. They inspired me to put the work in so I can feel better now and prevent future disease. I was about to get married and I wanted to make sure I lived a long, vibrant life with my husband and future kids. This was a big shift in my mindset and was a big part of my new "why".
Now flash forward to a month ago, when I discovered Rachel Hollis and Dave Hollis. Since then I've read Rachel's book "Girl, Wash Your Face", watched them on their live Insta videos almost every weekday, listened to her RISE and their RISE Together podcasts, and am going to their RISE Together couples conference in Austin next weekend.
Not only do I believe I am capable of feeling good every day and living a long, healthy life. I also now believe, thanks to Rachel Hollis, that I'm made for more. That I should have big dreams and I can make them a reality. Turns out I've got a lot of dreams.
This blog is my first step in making my next dream come true.