Sunday, August 2, 2015

How I Maintained Weight and Physique on my Wedding Day and Beyond

Quinoa  and Arugula Salad (with yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, edamame, dried cherries, capers and spicy almonds) tossed with red wine vinaigrette

I’ve never written about how I was able to fit on my wedding dress while still working at the culinary school. But I’ve realized that it’s important for me to write about it. This is not only for the purpose of looking your best on your wedding day but to really understand that diets don’t really work unless you are an athlete. I hear people say I’ll go on a diet (for a few days or weeks) and it never happens. The truth is, it never will and it will never work. But how does one find the motivation to eat healthy, lose the excess bad fat and maintain a healthy weight? It’s one question with so many answers that leads us to many different ways of doing it. 

No-Oil Sauteed Mushrooms with Herbs and Marsala Wine

One thing I usually say is ditch the word diet (as a verb) but change your bad diet to a healthier diet (as a noun). Dieting (verb) will not work if you don’t change your diet (noun). It may sound simple but doing it is the complicated part for most people. 

When J and I set the date for our wedding day, I never really had the motivation to exercise and eat properly. J keeps on telling me that we need to exercise but we only jog at the park once. But prior to meeting J, I was already in the habit of going to the gym and exercising. I was already eating healthy even with occasional binge. I was already at my healthy weight and body frame. Why in the world do I need to maintain my weight and figure on my wedding day? I have to because at a certain time, I stopped my membership at the gym when J and I are going out more often. Going out more often means eating out more often as well and that includes the dessert. And I find the paying for the gym membership is way too much for my budget already.

Roasted Cauliflower, Arugula, Avocado and Tomato Sandwich

So, what did I do?

I started exercising 2 months before the wedding (because that was the only time I had the motivation to do so). I downloaded Barre3 videos on my Ipad. My friend gave me a code and the website allows you to watch it for free for a limited time. I was hooked on Barre3 so I did it until 2 days before the wedding. 

I still eat the same food but in small amounts but with increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.

I ate fewer sweets and other simple carbohydrates. 

I drank more water. 

I don’t count calories. More on that later.

Most importantly, I stopped sweating the small stuff over the wedding preparations and details. A wedding is only for a day (or even only half a day) while a marriage is for a lifetime.


Noodle Plate of Soba Noodles, Grilled Shishito Peppers, Bakes Tofu, Grated Carrots, Sauteed Msuhrooms and Tao Miao Sprouts (with Citrus Miso Dressing)

Actually, in my case, I didn’t do much because I believed I was eating properly already. My body frame was proportioned and I don’t consider myself fat. But what I really wanted to change is that I wanted to have more lean muscles and still maintain the figure. We’re talking about the arms and the waist line. Although I didn’t develop really defined long, lean arms, it didn’t sag either.

Zucchini Noodles, Soba Noodles, Japanese Mizuna and Sunflower Sprout Salad with Mango and Soy Tofu (Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette)

When I got pregnant and gave birth, that was another story. I ate whatever I crave for when was I pregnant and ate sweets in moderation. My cravings are more on the salty, sour and spicy foods than on the sweet side. After I gave birth, I was just too lazy and also too tired to exercise. I did a few times, maybe 5, before Nate turned one. Most of the time, when I’m done with work and household chores, I just want to rest. Again, the motivation to exercise is not there. Although I still eat normally like I used to, how my body feels and the energy is different after the baby came out. I just felt that my body is dragging me down. Yes, gravity is what you call it, Now, I’m starting to get back in shape and lose the excess 15 to 20 lbs that my body is carrying. I'm a size bigger but I still fit into my old clothes yet who doesn't want to lose the excess pounds just to feel better?

Two things: Exercise and Healthy Lifestyle


Roasted Beets, Arugula, Kale and Walnut with Mango Vinaigrette

I’m still doing Barre3 because I can do it at home even with limited space. My motivation to get back in shape is not really to look good, although that is a plus factor. My main reason is I want my body to be functional and efficient again and to move with flexibility, grace and strength, and definitely more energy. The exercises were designed with a purpose so that we can move better with our everyday activities such as picking up things from the floor, reaching for things from the shelve or carrying groceries or the baby. Pilates is great but a teacher is required to do the movements properly and correctly. So Barre3 has been very helpful now. 

When it comes to food, I make sure that I eat whole and real foods most of the time except in emergency situations. I’ve heard this before many times and I still hear it again. People would go on a diet from Monday to Friday and would indulge during the weekend. They would have their cheat days on Saturday and Sunday. It might work for a short while but it will not establish healthy eating habits. I still like the 80/20 rule. You eat 80 percent healthy foods and indulge with the 20 percent. So, it means to eating whole and real foods 80 percent of the time focusing on foods that are mostly home-cooked, using healthier cooking methods and incorporating more plant foods into your diet. Then, you can have a bar of dark chocolate or a piece of cake shared with your loved one or maybe some bacon into your salad or soup. For me, the 80/20 rule works better overtime because you’re not depriving yourself of important calories and nutrients that you’re not getting from the 5-day calorie-counted/2-day indulge cheat day diet.
Losing the excess weight is hard after I gained my pregnancy weight, what more for other people who have gained so much? With a husband, a home and a baby to take of, the challenge is even more difficult most especially that Nate and I have been sick for almost a week. Priorities have to be redefined and time has to be managed well. In, the age of technology, knowledge is disclosed to everyone but with too many information these days, what should we believe in. I think we need to go back to the basics of what healthy food is. That would be a great article to write next time. 




Sunday, July 5, 2015

Three Things


Long before marriage entered my mind, there are three things that I desire to do with my child. This is my journey so far.



BREASTFEEDING

It happened for a few months with a lot of struggle, sleepless nights and a lot of crying. We also spent thousands of money just for breastfeeding. I even attended a breastfeeding talk twice. One was when I was only 3 months pregnant. Second was when I already on my last quarter of pregnancy. I don’t know what went wrong. Maybe I didn’t have the same determination or perseverance that other mothers have. And because I wanted to purely breastfeed Nate and not giving him any formula, he became dehydrated and totally lacked feeding. At first, I blamed my husband but in the end I blamed myself. Even after he was hospitalized and almost had a blood transfusion, I was still stubborn. Nate has to be breastfeed. But I knew before we went to the doctor that something is not right. Nate doesn’t look healthy at all. I wondered if he will even get fat because I kept on looking at his legs and wondered why there are so frail. We were confronted by the doctor so we mixed fed after that. But after a few months, my milk is not enough to keep him full so he drinks more on the formula until he’s no longer taking any breast milk. When J would mention that his friend’s baby is fat because of breast milk, sometimes I become envious or when his relative would tell me that the more the baby will suck the more milk you will have. Those were the days when I wish people would just remain quiet. I got used to it after awhile and just surrendered the outcome to the Lord. Although Nate eats home-cooked meals most of the time, it’s not as easy as people might think. But I want to make sure that he’s well-fed.



FULL-TIME HANDS ON MOTHER

I’ve been taking care of Nate for the past 12 months. It was tiring but that’s already a given. It’s expected and  I was prepared for it.



I was told that you will become dull if I take care of Nate 24/7. It was a good statement. In fact, it was a valid statement. It made me think and reflect on what I’m doing for the past year which taking is care of Nate the whole day. I was not angry with the statement but it made me think. That statement or whatever comments people would like to blurt out (there were lots of them) is just the tip of the iceberg. And many people don’t know what’s underneath the surface. I may be the “babysitter” of Nate because there is no one else. But remember I am also the mother. Aside from giving him a bath, feeding him, putting him to sleep or watching over him, I also read to him, I play with him, I laugh with him, I cuddle with him, I watch him grow, I see his development and milestones. Looking back, I might have regretted resigning from my job, but now I don’t regret it in exchange for spending time with Nate. No, I don’t feel that I’m getting idle from taking care of him 24/7. In fact, I’m actually learning something new every day. I may have missed the opportunity to work and connect with other people or hone my skill and upgrade as a chef, or even expand my small unstable, God-given business. I’m okay staying at home and still be sane. I took care of dad for 7 years remember? And I’m still sane. I thought the business can wait. Nate will need someone to look after him. For me, it’s not the babysitter, but it's me, his mother. The first few years are very crucial for me. I heard a lot of parents telling me that they miss their sons and daughters who were once a baby. I know I will miss it. I might as well be with him as much as I can. You can’t turn back the clock. When this day is over, it’s over.


I was able to travel and lived abroad. I was able to work. I was able to get married. And now, I was given the chance to be with my baby. But there were many days when I cry out to J telling him my regrets in life.

I should have been the first person doing that. 
That was my idea few years ago. 
All the ideas that I have before has been materialized already.
She has gone far with her career.

And J would remind me not to compare myself with other people and that I only have one audience which is God. I have no idea what other women are going through. They might even want to have a family and take care of their own baby .

Maybe that business is not supposed to be yours. 
When people say that you should be doing this, do you really want to do it? No.
Then, maybe God has something better for you. 
So, while waiting on the Lord, just continue what you’re doing right now. 
 
Reflecting on it, I’m blessed to be able to spend time and see Nate grow and can still work at home. Some would say that you might lose your identity if you stop working. If I'm no longer the chef instructor, then who am I? Oh, you’re a full-time mom, but what do you do at home? I believe that my identity is not based on what I do but for who I am in Christ alone. As I’ve mentioned before, motherhood is seasonal. It changes as the baby becomes a toddler. Sooner or later, he would be a teenager. I know what some women are thinking, whether you are single or married. You’re thinking that we not doing enough with our lives. We think that we are a failure. You might be finishing your master’s degrees and pursuing a career in an international bank or you could be studying for your board exam or you just opened your own coffee shop. But despite all these accomplishments, we worry that we’re not doing enough or we felt that we’re failing in life. I am guilty of this do. I’ve decided to be a full-time hands mother but on the sidetrack, I kept thinking, I should be the one doing this or that instead of them. I’ve beaten myself up with those negative thoughts by constantly measuring myself against other people's progress but that’s not supposed to be the case. We are unique because God created us Himself.

HOMESCHOOLING

Don’t even get me started. I know the first question that you’re going to ask. What about socialization? Well, I thought, I went to a traditional school and it didn’t help me with my socialization skills either. I would hide inside the room whenever we have guests at home. It didn’t help me to interact with other people wherever I go or wherever I might be. I thought this is ambitious. Can I really home school Nate when the truth is I’m already having patience deficiency with him sometimes? That’s why God placed us in a situation where we can learn more about being patient. And it gets tougher most especially when people ask you WHY? It’s a question with a lengthy answer but if you’re thinking it’s a 9am-4pm sit down scenario where the child sits on his table and you’re in front with a blackboard, then you are completely mistaken. I believe it’s more exciting than being in the classroom the whole day thinking that you’re exposed to the real world. Instead, the world is their classroom and that’s where the real experience and learning is.

When we talk to other people, we always compare. The three things I’ve mentioned above are very common. If you breastfeed your son, that’s great. If you formula feed, that’s great also. With yaya or not, homeschool or not, only son or 2 kids, that’s the parents’ decision. Many times we try to impose on parents what to do instead of giving suggestions or advice. We are tongue-tied because it’s either we want to defend our decision or we just want to be kind by remaining silent. There are also many instances where we feel ashamed because of the things we didn’t do. And in some cases, we feel that we didn’t do enough because they did more than enough. But as we learn to grow from this experience, we have stories to tell and share to other people. There’s kindness and understanding and even compassion and sympathy. Yes, we share because we care but share with gentleness and warmth without being so proud that we are right. Every child is different, every experience is unique and every situation needs a different approach and decision.

The journey continues..









Sunday, June 28, 2015

Nate's 1st Birthday and Child Dedication


Last June 13, Saturday, we celebrated Nate's birthday. But his real birthday was on June 18 and we will celebrated it in Manila with my family.



In planning for Nate's birthday, I only want a simple celebration of family and close friends and when I learned that we had many guests, I told John why do we need to have a lot of guests for Nate's birthday. I don't think I received an answer from him. Two weeks before the celebration, I know God is talking to me telling me to share God's goodness during those difficult times. A few days before, John was asking me if he would do his testimony. If you're wondering what kind of testimony we're talking about, it is sharing to the public about how God's glory was revealed in every situation and every circumstances.


But last June 13, I didn't feel like sharing and so does John. And when our Pastor started already with the child dedication, it was obvious that not everyone was listening. In fact, I felt that most people are not actually listening at all (the fact that I don't want to invite so many people although someone told me that the sound system is functioning well). John and I felt that it's not the right time to share our testimony. But I told John, I have a blog. What in the world is my blog for. I will share it here where people who randomly visit my blog can actually read it from all over the world at anytime and any place.
 For the past twelve months, I have been asked by people if I breastfeed Nate. It was a common and obvious question. I'm certain mothers who have 6 or 8 month old babies would have been asked the same question. But every time I remember that Nate was in the hospital and every time I'm being asked if he's breastfed, I feel guilty. And there's no other person to blame except myself. Two words: guilt and blame. When John asked me about it, I said I'm alright with it already. But the truth is, when I started to think about what to say, I realized that I wasn't over with it yet. Every time John will bring it up, I want to tell him I don't want to talk about it anymore because I would only feel guilty about it.

Well, if you've read my post about how I struggled with breastfeeding Nate, it was because I was stubborn. I insist the he should only drink breast milk and nothing else. I didn't have enough breast milk that's why he was confined in the hospital for high bilirubin levels. He almost had a blood transfusion. If you're a doctor, you probably know the risks and complications of blood transfusion for a newborn baby. The only thing we could do was to pray. John did because I couldn't even think anymore. We could have lost Nate just because of my stubbornness. Even when Nate was discharged from the hospital, I still insist that Nate should be breastfed until we went back to the doctor. Although I knew that Nate's aura is not nice and I felt he's not doing well, I still want to continue to solely breastfeed him. I cried the whole day after the doctor's visit yet we started giving him formula milk.

But God talked to me about it, he said that issue here is not about breastfeeding, the issue here is about whether you trust Me or not. I wanted to breastfeed because of the money we can save, not because of health and nutrition that Nate will obtain from the breast milk. God continued that I could have answered your prayer by providing you more milk but I chose not to because I want you to trust Me first more that your ability to breastfeed your son.
         God continued to tell me:
First, you need to trust Me that I, the Lord your God will provide for all of your needs, For the past 12 months, God has been our provider. Whenever we need money for Nate, God has never been too early or even late. He's always been on time. When I decided to stop working in culinary school, God provided an avenue for me to work at home.

Second,  that I the Lord your God will be your protector. Nate had a fever and cough but it only happened once and it was mild and tolerable. Nate was still very active and talkative during that time. Although he hits and bumps himself from time to time or even stumbles, I pray that he will always be protected from harm and accidents.

Third, Nate's life belongs to Me, not to you. God chose John and I to be his parents to raise him in a godly way and to instruct Nate in the ways of God. Consequently, the importance of child dedication. If Nate's life belongs to the Lord, so does my life and your life. We are here today only by God's grace. Before we sleep tonight, I think one of the most important question we need to ask ourselves is, what has God done in your life that you don't deserve and what are you going to do about it? 

To God Be All the Glory. Thank you. 
That is probably what I would say to the guests if I had the chance.


Twelve months went by so fast. I thought, can we just pause for awhile and savor the moments first before moving on again. Nate was indeed a blessing from the Lord. Having him in my life made me realize that I need to become a better person if I want Nate to follow the Lord. My prayer for him is that he would choose to know and have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ; that he will not harbor any bitterness nor anger towards anyone but to learn how to forgive immediately who would cause him pain; that he will always be joyful and thankful in every circumstance and in every situation. Isn't that what God wants us to do and experience as well?



Another blessing is I didn't have a hard time conceiving and we didn't pay anything in order for me to get pregnant considering that I became pregnant at 37. Hearing other people's struggle to conceive for years or even spend money for it made me realized that I am truly blessed.

Sooner or later, Nate will leave me and John and get married. I know that would be years away but it's good to keep in mind that Nate belongs to the Lord and not to us. Dedicating him and ourselves to the Lord brings comfort and joy knowing that our lives is in the great hands of our Almighty God.