Birthday Post: Five Lessons for Twenty-Five

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A couple of weeks ago I celebrated my 25th birthday (woohoo!). There is a big difference between the reality vs. expectations of turning 25. I can’t say the difference is bad. It’s becoming more obvious that our lives becomes less linear and way more confusing as we grow older…but hey, maybe that’s okay.

Honestly my expectations were kind of boring & left little room for spontaneity (yawn). I never expected that I would be running a blog on the side, or getting certified in POP Pilates, or that I would be meeting some of the amazing people who are now in my life.

With the successes there were also struggles; last year was filled with many emotions. I’d switch between feelings of uncertainty and anxiety to happiness and confidence within a day or even hours. There was a bit of intentional change & unexpected change in my life and it had left me emotionally exhausted (READ: Maybe This is What Quarter Life Crisis Feels Like?).

However, like always, with the good & the bad there were learnings. Plenty of them. And I’ve chosen my top 5 lessons to share for the big 2-5.

Mental health is as important as physical health

It feels like society wants us to be super humans. How many quotes do you see floating around on social media that go like “You can conquer everything!”, “You are Wonder Woman!”, “Rise & Grind,” etc.? They all are with good intention but they neglect how we actually feel and focus more on what we do – even if it doesn’t feel right. With fitness especially, there’s a disproportionate amount of emphasize on the physical. How about we leave a little more space for our minds?

Respect everyone’s time (including your own)

Time is precious & it should be respected. It’s so important to set boundaries for what you are willing to do with your time then allocate it to your work, your personal life, your family, & friends. When it comes to making time for your family & friends do your absolute best to prioritize them in your crazy schedule. Oh, and invest time in those who will make time for you in return.

Don’t waste time on a flat tummy

I can’t tell you how much time I spent in my early 20s trying to get “the perfect body”. I wasted so much time scrolling through blogs & Instagram hoping I’d one day have abs like those I see online. Did it make me feel better? No. Are people going to love me more if I have a six pack? No (well, maybe if I had a six-pack of beer :)).

Think about about all the people you love: if they gained 10 lbs, would you love them any less? No, right? Then why do we care about of own bodies so much as if we need external validation? Take that wasted time and focus your energy on something more fulfilling.

Patience is hard, but important

As millennials when we want something we want it now. Personally, I’ve been impatient with my career, my blog, literally anything you can name. I’m slowly starting to learn that success comes by chipping away at want you want, bit by bit.

Embrace your community

I’m a bit of an introvert so I have a tendency to do things on my own, (somewhat of a lone wolf I may say). Although I do enjoy my independence, I am so much better off with a supportive community around me. This past year I’ve expanded my circle of trust and have let others teach me a whole lot, but more importantly, give me the confidence to continue to do what I love.

So if you are anything like me, realize that there are people who can help elevate you. Trust them, mingle a little, and expand that little (or big!) circle.

Tone It Up Bay Area Getaway: Part I

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The Getaway

I’ve been a silent follower of Tone It Up for the last couple of years. I’ve wanted to get involved in the community for so long, but hesitated in the past. I’m a bit of an introvert so I tend to shy away from group activities and do more things independently.

But I still really wanted to get involved…so I finally took a leap of faith and signed up for a retreat with 30 other local TIU members. We rented a house in Marin and spent three days working out, relaxing by the pool, working out some more and then drinking a lot of wine. It was like a weekend with your sorority sisters…but better.

The Tone It Up Getaway wasn’t actually sponsored by Tone It Up or affiliated in anyway with the official Tone It Up Retreat. The trip was actually planned by a few special women who thought it would be fun to do our own mini-retreat at a much more reasonable price.

Here’s Part I of the Getaway… there’s so much to say that I’m going to dedicate Part II to all the food we ate (because it was that freaking good!).

So what do you do at a fitness retreat?

Our first night in the house (Friday evening) we spent time getting to know each other over food, games, and wine. We also received our super cool swag bags that night – I’ve never seen anything like it: great snacks, head bands, water bottles, and other Tone It Up gear.

We kicked off Saturday morning with our Booty Call. For those unfamiliar with Tone It Up workouts, a “booty call” isn’t what you may think; rather it’s short morning workout to start off your day! You can go on a walk, a run, complete a HIIT workout, whatever gets you up and moving in the morning.

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The afternoon was spent relaxing by the pool while drinking sangria & eating Nada Moo ice cream from tub (my new obsession!).

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Later in the afternoon, we welcomed Leila to lead a 90 minute yoga session. We opened the French doors out to the front yard so that we could set some yoga mats in the living room and others out by the pool to create a partially indoor/outdoor yoga experience.

Immediately we knew this practice was going to be different. First, we were at a fitness retreat in a quiet neighborhood where we could see hawks flying, and hear leaves rustling with the wind. But what made the class truly unique was the spirituality aspect Leila had brought. She began the class with a spiritual chant “Sri Ram Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram” while she played the harmonium.

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I’ll be completely honest: I was hesitant to accept the practice due to my personal, internal conflicts with western yoga and Hindu religion (this topic totally deserves it’s own post). However, because she felt so genuine, I was able to fully embrace her style and felt at peace while she chanted. It ended being one of my most memorable yoga practices.

Our final celebrations

You guys, we had our own dance party in the house and it was so much fun! It reminded of house parties we used to have in college, but way less trashy ☺. We converted the living room into a dance & drank copious amounts of wine and tequila, sang our favorite throwback hits, and danced the night away.

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After an intense night, Sunday morning was a bit of a struggle but we were still determined to workout! Our final organized activity was a 5K hike/run – we marched out in our pink Charity Miles tanks to get our sweat on.

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Saying our goodbyes was tough, but luckily the TIU community is very active online. It’s been so easy to stay in touch!

I want to thank Raisa, Lauren, and Kara for planning this unforgettable getaway. They went above and beyond to make this event a success by organizing fun activities, partnering with amazing brands, and by taking every step they could to strengthen our community. You ladies are the best!

Look out for TIU Getaway Part II while I’ll recap all the yummy food we devoured.

When a Nutritionist May Help More Than a Doctor

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Ever since I got sick in Spain four years ago, my digestive system has not been the same. For a while, I treated it on my own by cutting out food groups such as dairy. Slowly, there were other foods I was having trouble tolerating and I started to notice my digestive issues would affect my mental state, energy levels, and overall immunity.

My experience working with a Gastroenterologist.

I knew it was time to see an expert so I scheduled a few appointments with a GI doctor. I went through a few tests and procedures but nothing concrete came out of them so my doctor was adamant on doing more tests to find the real issue.

She was really looking for a serious IBD like Crohn’s, Celiacs, etc. and she was looking for all the right reasons. However, my gut feeling (no pun intended) was telling me that we may need to take a step back as the issue may be a bit more subtle.

I wanted to talk about lifestyle changes and diet modifications before I went through more invasive procedures but the one time my doctor and I discussed nutrition, all she did was hand me a list of 50 foods I should try eliminating from my diet (aka a low FODMAPs) diet. I was so overwhelmed and discouraged.

I felt like it was time to consult a nutritionist.

When I finally began seeing a nutritionist.

There’s so much information out there on nutritionist and it’s hard to find someone who is right for your personal goals. Luckily one of my friends recommended me to see Mary Vance in San Francisco. While researching Mary’s practice, I could tell Mary was extremely passionate and well-informed about holistic nutrition. She even listed on how she helps people overcome digestive issues so I could tell she was the right person for me.

The first step to working with Mary was to fill out a detailed questionnaire about diet, symptoms, lifestyle, and mental health.All of these factors can affect the gut and she really wanted to see the big picture. I spilled my heart while answering her questions because all of it seem so fitting in terms of what I was going through.

The biggest contrast between working with a doctor vs. a nutritionist is the time you get the spend with the two. A visit with my doctor would be no longer than 10-15 minutes. My first visit with Mary was an hour and a half long! Nutritionists can take more time to get deep and truly understand what can be causing the issue. I’ve learned that gut health is complicated and there is no cure that fits all.

The Initial Remedy

I’ve been instructed to cut out coffee, dairy, gluten, and soy for at least a month to reduce inflammation. I was skeptical about cutting out gluten because I had always assumed for the general population, gluten-free diets were a fad. But I was ready to listen to almost anything to feel better.

Mary knows what she’s talking about because I am already starting to see a difference in my gut health. It’s only been a few weeks and sure I’m not feeling perfect yet, but I feel like I’m getting one step closer to the truth and to finding the right balance for myself.

When I wrote my last post on anxiety and my health problems a lot of you told me how you were able to relate. I’ll definitely keep you all updated with my progress in the hope of providing you a little bit of guidance!

*A nutritionist is a great addition to a doctor but please consult your doctor first if you are experiencing health issues. Please note my opinions and experiences may differ from your own – there’s no one perfect solution!

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Maybe This is What Quarter Life Crisis Feels Like?

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The last couple of months have been tough. My anxiety & stress levels have been at an all-time high. I’ve felt helpless and lost. Fortunately, I’m slowly getting better but it’s an uphill battle.

It happens. It happens to everyone but it’s not something we easily talk about. We are silent about our rough times so we feel isolated and alone when we experience these moments.

What’s been causing me pain? It’s hard to know precisely but I have a few ideas:

-Health Issues.
-Injuries.
-Change.
-Not Enough Change.
-Gloominess.
-Trying to Balance Everything.

I’ve been struggling with health problems for a while and I’ve been going to specialist after specialist for stomach issues, anemia, inflammation. Interestingly enough I learned gut issues can create a vicious cycle: stress can negatively affect your gut, and an unhealthy gut affects happiness. Unhappiness can induce stress…and then the cycle begins again. In fact, 90% of your body’s serotonin is produced in your digestive tract so if something’s off there, chances are your mood is off too. I’ll likely dedicate a couple of posts to this topic as I learn more.

I’ve wanted to write a post about what I’ve been going through but I’ve been hesitant to confront it publicly. I know my friends, family, coworkers, and people I don’t know read this blog so I worry that what I say will be taken the wrong way. I’m overall content, my life is good, and I have AMAZING people in my life (I can’t stress this point enough). But there are instances of uncontrollable tears, panic attacks, uncertainty and doubt.

On the bright side, there are instances where I feel warm, happy, and at peace and I’m hoping to keep more of those moments in my life.

A few things keeping me sane are:

-Yoga
-Rock-climbing
-Sunshine
-A few special people in my life
-Quiet moments

I’ve heard from a lot of people that they’ve experienced something similar in their mid-20s so maybe this is how quarter life crisis manifests itself in my life.

Thanks for letting me share what I’m going through. This blog isn’t supposed to be a journal but sometimes I just have to say what’s on my mind.

My Health Story

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I’ve met and spoke with a lot of health & fitness bloggers and I learned that many have a story to share. Today I thought I’d share my story on why I’ve become so invested in my health and well-being. There’s so much to say but hopefully this post starts unfolding some of the layers.

Everyone has different reasons to why they start their health journey: to lose weight, to recover from a sickness, to become stronger, etc. My journey really began about four years ago when I came back from studying abroad and didn’t recognize who I was anymore.

The unrecognizable version of myself was the by-product of unhealthy life choices and an unfortunate stomach bug that has permanently altered my digestive system. To this day I am still trying to figure out what foods are safe and what lifestyle is best suited for me.

But let me rewind even further and start from the beginning:

Growing up I was fortunate to be active, happy, and healthy. In high school I was a swimmer and I really didn’t have to worry about my weight or what I ate because my metabolic rate was off the walls with all that working out. There was a time where I could eat six eggo waffles in a sitting and I’d feel perfectly fine afterwards.

Once I got busier with studying and left for college, my health was no longer a priority. I actually was close to being underweight from the stress so I knew started to incorporate more physical activity into my lifestyle. My mom was a great influence for me back then (she still is now) and she introduced me to yoga and convinced me to run my first 5K! Still at this point, my health was something I’d take for granted.

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My biggest turning point came after studying abroad my third year in college. I remember vividly, the moment when I realized I needed to make a drastic change.

After being abroad for six months I was excited to come back home to California, back to family and back to familiarity. When I arrived home, I ran up the stairs to my room to drop off my luggage and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I was shocked by the person staring back at me.

“What has happened to me” were the first thoughts in my mind after really looking at myself for the first time in half a year. I had gained weight, lost confidence, and didn’t recognize the person looking back at me. I wanted to undo the damage ASAP.

Four years ago, I decided to make a change. I began focusing on what I eat, started lifting weights and tried out different fitness classes. I ran my first 10K, my first half-marathon and then, many more races have followed.

I think there is never an end to one’s health journey. For me, a lot has changed since that summer after junior and my perception of “health” has changed quite a bit over time. I’m still learning what’s right for me but by focusing more on my well-being, I’ve slowly been able to reclaim my happiness and confidence.

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Why I created A New Blog: Citrus & Gold

Why I created CitrusGold

Hello new friends and old friends! Welcome to my new blog: Citrus & Gold. For those that know me I’ve been blogging on the side for a few years but I’ve never put as much energy into it until now. I wanted to share with you why I was motivated to start from scratch to create something completely new. I’ve shared a version of this post on my old blog, but if you hadn’t had a chance to read, here it is:

I started blogging in college to claim a little piece of the internet. You know, to have something of my own where I could freely share my thoughts. I didn’t really have a focus when I first started to blog so I wrote about whatever piqued my interest. Slowly but surely, I saw a trend: I began sharing healthy recipes, interviewing inspiring people, and writing posts related to running/ working out. The more time I invested in blogging, the more I realized I focus on the particular niche of health & fitness.

Which is why I started Citrus & Gold.

I want to inspire people to be bolder, healthier, and happier.

I’ve learned a lot about who I am as a person by focusing my energy towards my health. When I started paying more attention to my well-being, I realized that a lot of the “new habits” I was picking up were actually things my mom tried to teach me at a young age.

For example, she tried to convince me about benefits of yoga & breathing exercises; she also made me drink turmeric milk when I was sick; and she would often suggest using natural products for skincare. All of the tips & tricks she tried to teach me were rooted in South Asian culture. Though all of these may be trendy now, I want to share a perspective that brings it all close to home.

I’m excited start a new phase of my blogging “career”. The whole process definitely didn’t happen overnight: I’ve been working on planning & creating the blog little by little these past 3 months and I have big dreams for this blog!

I truly appreciate your support and would love if you could be part of the community:

1. Follow me on instagram at @citrusandgold for the latest update.
2. Subscribe here to receive a curated monthly newsletter (may change it to bi-weekly!).
3. Tell me what health & fitness topics you’d like to hear more about by asking me here or on social media!