My Spa Secret

10/10/2010

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Be it a hot stone massage, a Swedish massage, or a any other massage therapy, I have one little secret that makes my experience all the more relaxing, and hence, more rewarding.

Get there 10 minutes early.

Many of us work stressful jobs, some hunched over a keyboard for more long hours during the day.  We get stressed, we get tensed, and once in a while, it’s nice to get these knots kneaded out of our bodies.  For myself, massage therapy is super relaxing, and I like to meet up with a girlfriend for a spa date, every once in a while.

Usually I am rushing in at the last minutes, and super strung out to get to my relaxing session.  Kind of silly, isn’t it?  Even though I don’t do it all the time, I make a more conscious effort to get to these appointments early.  It really relaxes me and gives me a few minutes to wind down, and transition from the work day to a moment to relax.

Applying the  idea to all events.


I am also trying to apply this concept to other parts of my life.  Last week, I went to my volleyball game early, and got to chat with some teammates before the game.  It’s nice to not have to worry about letting people down, if my team doesn’t have enough people to start.


One of the guys commented on people cutting it too close to the game, “If you don’t have 10 minutes to spare, so that you can arrive early [for an event], then you probably haven’t gotten your priorities straight.”


Do you like arriving early?  And if you are one of the people who cut it too close, where are you spending your ten minutes?

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There are many health benefits and environmental reasons to a vegetarian diet.

Eating less animals kills less animals

Killing less animals means that we do not need to spend time and energy growing food to feed the animals.  Instead, the land used for growing feed can be used to grow food for humans, directly.

Eating less animals is better for the environment

Farm animals expel a huge amount of methane gas (i.e., cow burps).

Rain forests are being cut down in South America, and made into grazing land for cattle to feed the demand for American beef. Cattle ranching is the leading cause for deforestation in Brazilian Amazon because it is cheap and turns a high profit.  After this land is used for cattle ranching, the land is basically useless for anything else – any nutrients in the soil has long been eroded.

Eating less meat can be healthier

Eating less meat, also means ingesting less hormones and additives which are used to feed the animals (to make them grow bigger, faster, etc).  Having said that, we should also be mindful about pesticides that are used in the plants that we may eat.  I find that referring to they dirty dozen helps me.

Vegetarian and Minimalism

To me, minimalism is defined by identifying the most important things in my life, and working to strip away the non-important parts out so that I can focus on what is important.

The same concept can be applied to the foods that I eat.  I eat for enjoyment and to nourish my body.  If I can fulfill those two needs with a more vegetarian diet, then, there is not really a need to eat as much meat.

My Vegetarian Past

I used to be a vegetarian when I was a teenager for almost 5 years.  My reasons were a combination of religious beliefs and disgust after watching a video on animal cruelty in  a slaughterhouse.  As the years went on, and my social life grew, I found it difficult to continue to being a vegetarian, and truth be told, I also missed my meats.

It was quite the step going from a vegetarian diet back to a meat one.  When I first ate meat again, I felt that it tasted kinda “rotten”, but eventually, it no longer tasted that way, and only tasted good.

My Conclusion

Even though, I love my meats, I have been making an effort to eat cook  more vegetables, and thus leading to eating less meat in the past 2 years.  My groceries comprise mainly of fresh produce, and I have not cooked red meat for the last year or so.  I do still cook poultry, and I do have red meat on the occasion when I eat out.

I don’t have immediate plans of becoming a vegetarian, though I want to incorporate more grains and vegetables and less meat.  I want to become more informed of the nutrition value of the food I am eating, and focus on incorporating more high value foods into my meals (i.e., quinoa and oats).  I also want to make sure that I am getting enough vitamins and protein.

What are your thoughts on a “more vegetarian” or vegetarian diet?


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I ran my half marathon on Sunday, May 16th, 2010 starting at 7:30am.  I ran in the Mississauga Marathon with my sister 🙂

All in all, it was a great experience.

Let’s start with my thoughts from training, shall we?

The Beginning of my Training Thoughts

Training for a half marathon is hard work.  When I first started training in February, it was so hard to get up in the morning at 5:45 am to get to the gym at 6:00am and run at 6:15am.  Very, very difficult.  It was so dark out!

When I first started running, I was working at running 10 minutes without taking a break on the treadmill.  After a few runs, I realized that I was running way too hard, and I needed to slow my pace down.  I didn’t even know that I had a “happy” pace!  Once, I found my happy pace (approximately 5 mph), I was able to run longer and take shorter breaks.  I remember the first day that I could go on a 1 hour run, and not need to take a single break.  Such a triumph 🙂

Treadmill Training

When I first started training, I ran on the treadmill.  I think it’s a great place to start.

You can pick your own pace because sometimes you don’t know what pace you’re running at when running outdoors.

You can stop to rest whenever you need a rest, and rest for as long as you need to.

Outdoor Training

When the weather got warmer, I started running outdoors.  Little did I know that running outdoors is much harder than running on a treadmill.

You need to remember that no matter how far you run, you always have to run back!

You can rest, but if the weather is cold outside, your body also starts to cool down very quickly, and you need to keep running to stay warm.

You encounter hills, slippery surfaces, rodents, cars, bicycles and many other obstacles when running outside.  Always be mindful of your surroundings and make eye contact with drivers, cyclists, etc., before crossing the roads.

Race Day

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The night before race day, I laid out all that I needed the next day: running gear, hat, iPod, shoes, gel packs.

I was too excited and nervous that I didn’t sleep that well.  I woke up to all sorts of little noise that I never noticed before.

But at 4:15 am, my sister and I were up!  We changed, ate breakfast, and were on our way at 5:00am.

We parked at the finish line area, and caught the shuttle bus to the start line.

At 7:30am, we were off!

The Race

The trail was beautiful!  There were a bit of hills, but only one big hill.  There were beautiful mansions that I passed by in awe on Mississauga Road.

I took on a slower pace than usual, since I knew I needed to go longer than my usual runs.

I walked and got a drink at the aide stations- every 2 km.  Nothing more refreshing than water on a sunny day out running!

My first break  was at the 10km mark.  I felt quite good and energized!  I also took a gel pack to give me a boost of energy.  At 16km, was my second break, I still felt good, but I also started to feel tired.  At 18km, my body was telling me to stop and I started to walk more, and take more breaks.

At 19km, a fellow funner encouraged me to keep going since I was almost there.  I picked my tired legs off the ground, and ran the rest of the way.  The last 100m were the hardest!  My knees were really hurting me, and I could just see that I was so close, but not there yet.  People cheering and chanting really made a difference, and I finished as strong as I could.

My legs and knees were burning after.  It was then that I realized I hadn’t trained enough for my half, but it also felt so good to be done.

2 hours and 35 minutes 🙂

21.1km or 13 miles

What are some of your experiences in training or preparing for a big “event” in your life?

My Hair Story

05/22/2010

I was inspired to write this post, after reading Investing Newbie’s own hair story.

My hair story is not nearly as dramatic or exciting as her’s, but here it is.

As a toddler, both my parents worked, and my dad was often the one to bathe me.  So after every bath, he would also comb my hair (I had a lot of hair!), to a similar style of his own.  His style kind of looked like what Andy Lau has below.  Imagine my hair styled as such, and wearing the boy clothing hand me downs.  I was a really cute little boy.

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When I was about 3 years old, my mom was the one who styled my hair.  I had long hair and it was usually in pigtails or two braids.  She told me that she used to have to chase me down to comb out tangles in my hair after my bath, and tie them up so I didn’t get stuff stuck in it.

When I was about 4 years old, my best friend (at the time) got her hair cut to chin length.  Of course, I had to copy her, and my dad helped me chop off my tresses and I was left with the bowl cut.  I’m sure a lot of Asian kids are very familiar with this cut.

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After my parents had my two sisters, we all got this bowl cut from my dad.  My mom made up a rule that we couldn’t grow our hair until we were 10 years old.  (I think this was because she would not have enough energy to chase my 2 sisters and I down to comb our hair and tie it up).  And so, I had the bowl haircut right until I turned 10.  After that, I grew my hair for as long as it would grow.  After all, I had to make up for lost time, right? 😉

My hair grew almost past my back by the time I was in grade 6.  I started trimming my hair to be about mid back length in grade 7 – 8.

My hair is super straight, fine and I had a lot of it.  I tried a few times to braid my hair before going to sleep when it was wet so that it would be “curly” the next day.  No matter how much product I put in it, by noon, my hair was straight again.

In high school and the first few years of university, my hair length got a little shorter, and varied between shoulder length to mid back.  A friend of mine helped me put highlights in it, and I dyed my hair once.  Dyeing my hair was probably the most damaging thing I had done to my hair, ever.  This was terrible for my hair, and completely dried my hair.  At the worst of it, the ends of my hair reminded me of straw!

I moved to Boston for an internship, and that was when I took the bob plunge.  I wasn’t going into the salon wanting a bob, but I gave them free reins with my hair.  They gave me a really chic bob and I loved it.  It completely suited my hair, and my hair always fell in the most perfect way that I never had to style it.  (Yay for laziness!)

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After that my hair has always been about shoulder length or shorter.  I have a stylist I’ve been seeing for the past two years, and his cuts are amazing.  They usually last me about 3 – 4 months, and grow out nicely.  I love that he can cut my hair so that I can spend zero time on styling my hair in the morning without looking like I just rolled out of bed.

After being in my hair relationship for the 26 years of my life, I have come to terms with my hair.  I have accepted that my hair will always be straight and thin.  I will never have curls and waves, and I’m OK with that.  (But if I really want them, I can get it styled for the day.)

I prefer to have my hair cut at a medium – short length.  I like to air dry my hair, and I do not use any styling products.  I still shampoo my hair everyday, even though I have tried to stop.  I also make an apple cider vinegar with lavender oil rinse that I use once a week  to make sure my hair stays nice and shiny.  My goals is  to put minimal stuff in my hair.

This is how I had my hair last year, and I just got it cut in a similar style.

Current annual cost to maintain my hair:

Haircut $70 (including tip) x 3 – 4 = $210 – 280
Shampoo $6.99 x 2 (plus tax) = $15.79
Apple cider vinegar and lavender rinse = $6 ish

What’s your hair story?  Feel free to leave a comment or write a post and link back!

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I got the inspiration for this post from Angela over at her awesome blog, Oh She Glows.  (Btw, she makes the most delicious looking breakfasts, I am constantly drooling over those pictures!).

She talks about encountering a sticky  situation where her gut kicks in and tells her there is something wrong.  I think she did the right thing when she took off and removed herself from the situation.

As women, I feel we are often people-pleasers, and we usually shy away from doing anything that may be offensive or make the other party feel awkward.  This can be any situation, including encounters with friends and/or strangers.  I, too, fall under this category.

What I’ve learnt over the years is that no one cares more about you, than yourself.  No one cares more about your safety than yourself.  So, if something is “off” and your body tells you so – it could be a gut feeling, your hair standing on ends, whatever it may be, trust yourself.

Sure, you may seem rude for leaving the situation, and maybe you left the other person feeling weird, but that is not your problem. Your priority is to keep yourself safe, and if that means stepping on the dainty toes of some other people, so be it.

I led a very sheltered life growing up in the sub-urbs around Toronto.  So when I first started traveling abroad, I was probably too naive and innocent to see that not everyone has my best interests at heart, and that I needed to look out for myself.

I moved to Boston when I was 22 for an internship, and I would encounter people who would just come up and talk to me.  My good friends saw this, and they saw that it made me uncomfortable, but they also saw that I didn’t know how leave the situation.  They stepped in and pulled me (physically) away, and said something that I will always remember.

AM, you don’t have to speak with anyone that you don’t want to.  If doesn’t matter if they approached you, or not.  If they make you feel uncomfortable, just walk away.

When I asked them if that was rude, they responded, Who cares?  If you feel uncomfortable or not safe, that’s more important than someone else feeling a little miffed.

They are so right.

Another story that stands out and I want to share was when I was on exchange term in Singapore in 2007.

I got into the habit of running at night.   It was way too hot to be running any other time (except maybe before dawn).  I lived on the campus dormitory, and there was always people on campus even late into the night, so I always felt safe running – until this one time.

I ran around a road that encircled my campus, and I stopped to catch my breath and walk a little.  It just so happened that I was walking in front of our library, and a student stopped me to ask for directions to a dormitory.  It just so happened to be the dorm that I stayed at.

I pointed him out to the appropriate on-campus bus to take and was about to be on my way, when he said that the buses were really complicated and asked if he could walk with me instead.   I explained that I was running (if he couldn’t already tell from my sweaty self), and he pointed it out that I was walking at the moment.

I told him I was taking a break, and he asked if he could just follow me and I agreed but I wasn’t going to wait for him.

I know, I know.  Alarm bells, right?

I felt something was a little “off” and I ignored it. It wasn’t until we got to a more deserted stretch of the road that my imagination started acting up, and I realized that following me was a stranger.  So I picked up my pace and ran as hard as I could until I got to my dormitory.  He was carrying a backpack and a bunch of text books, but I wasn’t about to underestimate his strength or speed.

However, when I got to the dormitory, I felt safe again.  People were surrounding me, and there were lots of lights.  And I felt that I had let my imagination get the best of me.

The stranger caught up to me, and I was about to leave since he had found where he was looking for.  Then he asked if he could have a tour.  I said that I was about to walk back to my room, and he could just look at the common areas, and he could back during office hours.

After the walk through the common areas, I was about to take off, when he asked me to see my room.

What was this guy thinking?!

At this point, I didn’t want to be rude, and explained that I just finished my run, and would be washing up and then going to bed, so he should really come back for a tour with the resident staff.  I did not feel comfortable showing a stranger my room.  Or, I could ask my guy friends to show him their room, if he really needed to see it tonight.

He responded by saying, he could wait while I took my shower, and that there was no need to call my friends.  When we got to places where there were lots of people, he backed away.

Finally I listened to my guy and alarm bells.  I said that I was leaving and he should go.

He asked if he could come up to my room.  I refused.  He asked again.  And again.  I told him I was going to call the police.  And he finally left.

My dormitory has pretty high security, and you can’t get into the elevator without an access card.  Then, you can’t get out of the elevator lobby without the right access card.  And of course, there is the individual room keys.

When I got back to my room, it finally dawned on me what a perilous situation I had put myself in.  And I felt both really stupid and relieved at the same time.

I called my friend and told him what happened.  He made sure I was OK and the stranger hadn’t touched me, and from then on, we always ran together at night.

The next day, we discussed it, and I realized why the stranger had asked me so many times if he could come up to my room.

In Singapore, the girls are more docile, and usually feel embarrassed to refuse (especially so many times) and usually give in, even when they don’t want to.  If I was a Singaporean girl, I might have caved and agreed. I think that’s what this stranger was counting on.  Instead, he encounters a naive Canadian who is wondering why the heck he keeps repeating the same question.

Funny enough, my friend and I ran into the stranger at the library a few days after.  Complete coincidence.  But I wanted to show him that I recognized his face, and he better not try to pull this stunt again.  We approached him, and I greeted him.

Hi, StrangerName.  Remember me?  I just wanted you to meet my friend, and if you ever want to see a room, you can ask him.

I never saw him again.

My story could have had a tragic ending. And I scare myself when I say it out loud – he wanted to rape me. I’m pretty sure of it now.

I was lucky.  I should have listened to my gut.  Now, I know better.

If I feel uncomfortable in the slightest way, I will leave.  I have a right to do so.  And if I seem rude, then that’s better than putting my safety at risk.

Do you have a gut feeling story?  Do you listen to your instincts?

Happy Easter weekend, everyone.  Aren’t these bunnies adorable?  Cu-ute!

I’ve been training mostly indoors for my half marathon.  Mainly because it’s easier and I don’t have proper outdoor gear (and I don’t want to go all out and buy them so close to spring!).

Training on the treadmill is much easier than running outside, IMHO.  I can set the incline (1%) and my speed (4.7mph) and I’m off.  Forty-five minutes later, I get a summary of my workout.  Easy peasy.

However, with the weather much nicer, it is now time to start training outdoors more.  I did a 5km run with BF 2 weeks ago, and haven’t really run outside since.  Until this morning!

This morning, I got up bright an early and was at the gym at 6:00 am to meet up with my running buddy.  The trail we too was about 9km, and it took me 1 hour and 10 minutes.  It was hard, and my calves felt really tired afterwards, but I was super proud of myself!

I also ran without headphones and listened to the “world” wake up around me.  We ran through a park, and I ran into all these birds 🙂 !

A blue jay:
A cardinal:

A red-winged black bird:

And I heard a wood pecker.  I imagined he would have looked like this:

I hope that everyone has a good weekend, and for those of us with spring in our backyard – I hope you go out and enjoy it! 🙂

“If you run, you are a runner.  It doesn’t matter how fast or how far.  It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years.  There is no test to pass, no license to earn,  no membership card to get.  You just run.” — John Bingham


I read the above quote from a great blogger – Single Ma from Fabulous Financials & Fitness.

Having just started to train for my first half marathon this February, I am quite excited to be a “runner.”

Growing up, I have never felt the need to push myself physically.  I didn’t join any sports team, or inter-murals in elementary and all through high school.   Sports wasn’t my thing.  I was always the “smart” one, and I stuck to that because I enjoyed challenging myself intellectually.

100% on a Calculus test – no problemo, but doing a lay up in basketball?  No thanks.

Which feet goes first?  How many steps?  How high?  AND I have to hold a ball and put it through the net?!  That’s way harder than rocket science.

The first time I started getting into sports was in university.  Third year.  The school term after I broke up with my long term ex boyfriend and needed to prove to myself that I could do stuff on my own.  I needed to focus on myself and love me.  And I needed to take my mind off him.

What better way than through physical exercise?  There was no way that I could think about him, and do physical exercise at the same time.  I have pretty poor multi-tasking skills – I like focus on one thing at a time.  Perfect! 🙂

I started swimming.  I started running.  I started salsa dancing.  I started playing squash.  I started playing soccer (indoor and outdoor – just not at the same time!).  I started playing volleyball.  I started playing dodgeball.  I started taking up Yoga.  I even started belly dancing (well, lessons – I kinda suck at it a lot).

Notice that I said “started”?  That’s cuz I never did that stuff before.

I still play volleyball once a week, but I wanted to push myself harder physically just to prove to myself I can do it!

So, I signed up for a half marathon with my sister.

20km.

I’m not an avid runner, though I do run occasionally – about a few times a year.  I like to set high goals for myself.  It gives me a thrill when I can achieve it.  Kinda like getting my 100% on a Calculus test. 😉 Except now it will be making it to the finish line.  Test date will by May 16th.

So far, I have been running at least three times a week, and cross training on off days (cycling or swimming), and resting for two days.  I go to sleep at 10 p.m. every night, and get up at 5:50 a.m. to hit the gym at 6:00 a.m.  As painful as that sounded to me once upon a time (January), that hardest part is really getting up.  It’s the best wake up call and it gives me energy the entire day.

What are you thoughts on exercising?  And what are some of your routines?  Do you like to push yourself physically or do you prefer to challenge yourself mentally?