Top 10 Moments of 2017

As the 2017 year comes to a close, I wanted to stop and reflect on the year that has passed. While there is so much hate and negativity going around in the world, when you stop to think about life, you really only remember the good things. Just like anyone, my year had ups and downs, but at this time I am realizing how small and trivial the downs were, and how uplifting and exciting the ups were. These are my top ten moments (in chronological order) of 2017. I hope this inspires you all to think back on your year to remember all the amazing times.

1. February 2017- The last meet of varsity high school swim career was everything and more that I could have asked for. I was the captain of the team and we were in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for our conference championships. We had all trained super hard the whole season and were excited to see what we could do as a team. To be honest, I was not confident that we would be able to pull out a win, simply because we had a fairly young and new team. The gold medal came down to the very last relay, in which I was swimming. All we had to do was beat one relay team to snag the championship. As nerve-wracking as it was, it was the most amazing race of my life, full of nothing but excitement and adrenaline. As the anchor of our team touched the wall ahead of the other team, we broke out in tears of immense joy. The absolute highlight of my high school swimming career.

2. February 2017- I always knew that I wanted to travel to New Zealand before I graduated high school, and I got the opportunity to visit the beautiful country on a school trip in February. We spent 8 days doing everything from hiking, camping, luging, white water rafting, and visiting and staying in traditional Maori housing. It was a beyond incredible experience (though I have to admit, mentally challenging at times, especially during the hiking) and I am so lucky to have visited the country. I hope I can visit this amazing country again soon!

3. March 2017- One of my favorite parts about living in South East Asia is being able to travel around easily at a fairly low cost. At least once a year, my family goes on a quick vacation to a SEA beach destination. This year we went back to Phuket, Thailand for spring break and stayed at the Meridien. As usual, the beach was clean and beautiful, perfect for a little getaway. We spent our days lounging on the sand and spent our evenings exploring restaurants throughout the town. This five day trip with my family definitely made it into the top ten moments of this year.

4. June 2017- Of course one of the highlights of this year was this milestone, Graduation! It was a crazy and hectic time of the year, but I was so unbelievably lucky to have so many family and friends around me to celebrate. I was one of those people who just loved high school, so this moment was sad as I was saying goodbye to so many people and places, but also exciting as I started a new journey.

Graduation blog post: https://swimeatlove.com/2017/07/09/a-goodbye-to-high-school/

5. July 2017- Instead of coming back to the US for the summer (like we normally do), my family stayed in Asia and I was able to travel around a bit. My mom had a business trip to Seoul, and since I had never been I decided to tag along. Although we were only there for 3 days, we saw and did so much. From exploring the local malls to going to the Korean spa and eating lots of yummy Korean food, it was a blast.

6. July 2017- Every summer my family and I go to our lake cabin in Northern Japan for a few weeks to hang and spend time with family. Last year, we discovered what I like to call a hidden gem of the Tokyo area, Karuizawa. Mainly known for it’s outlet shopping mall, the beautiful suburb is filled with secret spots that are amazing. This year we took a day off from lake life and spent the day shopping, going to the hot springs, and visiting the cutest little vintage shops. Definitely a day well spent.

7. July 2017- Although this was an extremely sad time, it was also a very memorable time. After 18 years of living in Singapore, it was time for me to say goodbye (more like see you soon!) to my beautiful little island. As most of you probably know, I have so much love in my heart for this country. It was fun for me to spend time really appreciating all the things I love about Singapore and doing a little bit of exploring at home. The last week spend at home was full of family, friends, laughs and of course some Din Tai Fung and a Tiger beer for the road:)

8. August 2017- One of my biggest dreams came true this year not only as I started college in LA, but also as I began my career as a collegiate athlete. There have been so many “pinch me” moments these last few months as I’ve experienced things I’ve never dreamed of doing. From my first collegiate swim practice and swim meet to living the LA life, college has been everything and more I ever wished for.

9. October 2017- While being away from home was hard, I was lucky enough to have my dad visit me for a week in early October. We spent the weekend hanging around Downtown LA and Santa Monica, eating to our hearts content. As a foodie, it was a much needed break from the college food scene (though I have to admit, our school has really good food). We found amazing eateries everywhere from Santa Monica Boulevard to Sunset. It was such a fun weekend with my dad, and I was lucky to have him with me.

10. December 2017- After the first semester in college, it was so nice to be home with my family for the holidays. I had counted down the days, and it was definitely one of the best holiday seasons yet. I was lucky to have 2 1/2 weeks at home and spent so much of that time with my mom, dad, little sister and doggy. There was lot’s of Christmas shopping, yummy food, cooking, cheers-ing and laughter. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the year.

Here’s to an amazing 2017 and an even better 2018!

Happy new year!

Top 15 Workout Jams #2- Pump Up

  1. Low- Flo Rida (ft. T-Pain) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1nM4OKvoXw)
  2. Believer- Imagine Dragons (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wtfhZwyrcc)
  3. Buttons- Pussycat Dolls (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCLxJd1d84s)
  4. Strip That Down- Liam Payne (ft. Quavo) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSW2M-BB1NE)
  5. Good Grief- Bastille (Don Diablo Remix) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iaa03itxNZ0)
  6. Fight Song- Rachel Platten (Wildbeat remix) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hy9ns90vMz8)
  7. The Fighter- Keith Urban (ft. Carrie Underwood) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzT4p-OaJ5c)
  8. I Like the Sound of That- Rascal Flatts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIwKZLcQM0E)
  9. Something Just Like This- The Chainsmokers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FM7MFYoylVs)
  10. There’s Nothing Holding Me Back- Shawn Mendes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT2owtxkU8k)
  11. Dessert- Dawin (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZp_axebSfQ)
  12. Black Magic- Little Mix (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkElfR_NPBI)
  13. My House- Flo Rida (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo35R9zQsAI)
  14. Giants- Matt Nathanson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMbyup1xuFI)
  15. I Took a Pill in Ibiza- Mike Posner (Seeb Remix) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foE1mO2yM04)

#fitgirllife: At Home Workout

What’s better than a great workout… a great workout in the comfort of your own home while watching Friends. Whether you’re on the road, stuck in a hotel room or just too lazy to get over to the gym, this at-home workout will have you sweating y0ur butt off!

3 x 15 air squats

5 x 20 (total) high-knees

5 x 20 double skips

3 x 20 (total) lunge pulses

3 x 10 (total) front kicks

4 x 30 second plank

5 x 10 plank butt-ups

3 x 20 (total) fire hydrants

3 x 15 push-up pulses

4 x 20 (total) donkey kicks

3 x 30 reverse crunches

3 x 20 glute bridges

If you try this workout out, make sure to snap a picture and leave it in the comments:) Happy training!

 

#fitgirllife: Healthy Snacks

One of the things I’m asked a lot is how I snack. People tend to think of snacking as a bad thing; chips, chocolate bars and cookies. However, I think snacking is the key to eating clean. If you cut back your main meal portions, you can fill up with healthy snacks between instead. This keeps you from overeating and from limiting spikes in your sugar level. Snacks don’t have to be unhealthy, in fact there are so many ways that you can make snacking healthy and fun! Here are some of my favorite healthy snacks:

  1. Cuckoo for Coconuts Trail Mix (Trader Joe’s): This trail mix is my current favorite snack. It comes in small snack sized bags, so it’s already portioned for you. It has toasted almonds, coconut praline cashews, coconut dark chocolate cups and toasted coconut. It really satisfies a sweet tooth and is super filling for such a small amount. (https://www.amazon.com/Trader-Joes-Cuckoo-Coconut-Individual/dp/B01N1UFCKN)
  2. Mamma Chia: These chia squeeze drinks come in all sorts of flavors and are super easy to grab on the go. They will fill you up and can even go in place of breakfast (especially if you’re in a rush). (https://www.amazon.com/Mamma-Chia-Squeeze-Vitality-Blackberry/dp/B00DOO7AY8/ref=sr_1_3_s_it?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1493189084&sr=1-3&keywords=mamma%2Bchia&th=1)
  3. Fresh popcorn: For some reason it took me 17 years to realize that instead of buying super salty popcorn from a box, I can buy a bag of kernels (which is cheaper btw) and pop them myself. My favorite flavorings are coconut oil and a little bit of honey, or chili powder, garlic powder and a little bit of salt. (https://www.amazon.com/Jolly-Time-Yellow-Popcorn-Kernels/dp/B0077USTMM/ref=sr_1_14_s_it?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1493189159&sr=1-14&keywords=popcorn+kernels)
  4. Peanut butter on… EVERYTHING: Peanut butter is one of those foods that seem to go with literally anything. Carrot sticks, crackers, apple slices, rice crackers, everything! Peanut butter is super filling and also filled with tons of protein, so I usually just have 2 tablespoons of peanut butter with one of the things listed above and I’m set for a good 2 hours. (https://www.amazon.com/Trader-Joes-Unsalted-Unblanched-Peanuts/dp/B00I4FAPPS/ref=sr_1_1_s_it?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1493189192&sr=1-1&keywords=trader+joe%27s+peanut+butter)
  5. Leftovers: Believe it or not, sometimes leftovers make the best snacks. We usually always have some leftover pasta, chicken, rice or beef, so I just go to the fridge to portion out a little to eat as a snack. You don’t need a big amount, you just need a little to go a long way.

What are your healthy snacks? Comment them down below to share:)

#fitgirllife: Healthy Habits

Throughout my journey to self-love and acceptance, I’ve found that it’s super important to set habits that make it easier to being healthier over, both physically and mentally.

Habit #1: Drink lots and lots of water. I always have a 24 oz. water bottle with me, and make sure to drink around 1 full bottle for each 2 hour swim practice (I swim twice a day). In addition to that, I drink about 3 full bottles (75 oz.) during the school day. During dinner, I drink about 1 glass of water and 1 glass of unsweetened iced tea (currently obsessed with Tazo iced passion tea). One really helpful habit I’ve started to do is to drink about 1/2 cup of water before I eat. This helps to ensure that you don’t overeat. Something I’d do more of if I didn’t swim early in the mornings is to drink 1 full glass of water first thing in the morning. This just makes sure that you replenish the water and electrolytes you lose while asleep. The most useful thing anyone’s ever told me was that water is to your organs what oil is to your bike chains, helps everything fun smoothly.

Habit #2: Prioritize movement. Make sure that you get moving at every single day. That doesn’t mean that you have to go on a long run or spend an hour in the gym, get creative. Whether it’s taking your dog on a walk, take the stairs, or doing a short yoga routine at home, you will feel so much better once you’ve broken a sweat. Find a routine that works for you and fits your schedule. If you’re busy, sneak in 3 five minute workouts during your breaks, if you aren’t feeling too well, do a low intensity yoga routine, just as long as you get moving.

Habit #3: Eat multiple smaller meals throughout the day. For the past 3 years, I’ve been eating about 6 smaller meals throughout the day and I find that I don’t get that sluggish feeling I do when I’m really full and that I have more energy during the day. This is really easy when I’m at school since it works perfectly with my school schedule. My biggest meal is typically dinner (which is right after practice so I’m usually super hungry) and we usually have lots of meat, veggies and rice or pasta. For breakfast my go-to is granola with yoghurt which fills me up after morning practice. During the day I like to snack on cut fruit, peanut butter, pretzels, rice crackers and cut veggies.

Habit #4: Stock up on healthy snacks. When I’m at home for a long period of time doing homework or just sitting watching TV, I never have the energy to make myself a healthy snack, so instead of keeping easy-to-reach bags of chips of cookies around, stock up on healthy rice crackers, natural peanut butter, protein bars or chia drinks that are easy to grab when you have the munchies. If you have a sweet tooth, bake a batch of healthy coconut cookies or chocolate banana muffins for the week to grab whenever you want a sweet treat.

Habit #5: Find time to pamper yourself. My favorite ways to treat myself are to do my nails, put on a face mask (I use the Freeman Beauty masks, Indian Healing Clay and Lush masks), do a deep hair mask or take a bath with a Lush bath bomb. I try to do a combo of about 3 of those every week and I feel that it just rejuvenates me and makes me feel special. About once a month I do a full-out at home spa session where I take a bath, while I have a hair and face mask on watching my favorite shows. Then I get out and use my favorite lotion all over my body and do my nails in my room with candles lit. It’s important to take the time to pamper yourself, especially with such a hectic school or work schedule.

Habit #6: Meditate. This may sound a little hippie-ish, that’s what I thought when someone first told me about this, but it’s totally not! Since I don’t know how to meditate on my own, I found an app that has different types of meditations you can listen to. It’s called InSight Timer and it’s FREE! I use one when I’m going to sleep (sometimes) that lasts for about 18 minutes. I don’t do this every night, but I find that when I do, I sleep so much better.

Challenge yourself to add a new healthy habit to your routine, whether it’s one of these or something you come up with yourself. Your body and mind will thank you!

 

Pre-Race Rituals

In honor of my next big meet starting tomorrow, I thought I would share some of my pre-race rituals with you. These are just a few different things I do before a big race to make sure that I get up to the block feeling 100% ready. I really hope that you find these interesting and helpful, but remember that you are your own athlete. Everyone’s going to have different mindsets before a race and will need to do something different from everyone else. Do you have your own pre-race ritual? And if you don’t, can you come up with one? Leave your ritual in the comments!

Day before:

  1. I always make sure that I get at least 30 minutes in the water the day before a race. I won’t do anything hard, just a meet warm-up and some dives and sprints, but I just need to make sure that I get a feel of the water. This can be hard to do, especially if you are traveling to your meet, but I find that even waking up extra early to get a quick swim in before your flight makes you feel a lot more confident about your race.
  2. Eat smart. While I always try to do this, I do this even more so the days leading up to a meet. If I have school that day, I will pack everything I’m going to eat that whole day the night before so I know I’m eating what I need to. I eat tons of fruit, nuts and bars, protein, and complex carbs. I love brown rice cakes with peanut butter and dried cranberries or bananas. It’s a perfect way to fill yourself up with protein on the go. I try not to eat too much meat or veggies the night before, just because they tend to be a little heavier and take longer to digest. Eat simple food that will digest and give you energy before your race.
  3. WATER! Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. 5% dehydration results in 35% loss in performance, so drink up!

Night before:

  1. Eat dinner fairly early and get to sleep as soon as possible. Give your body as much time as possible to digest all of your food so you swim with tons of energy and without a heavy stomach.
  2. Pack your bags. I always pack my bag the night before a swim meet. I find that I sleep so much better when I know that all I have to do in the morning is change and run out the door. Goggles, warm-up suits, race suits, caps (endless amounts of caps), clothes, jackets, and food. I have everything ready to go in my bag.

Day of the race:

  1. Get to the pool early. Nothing’s worse than stressing about being late to warm-ups or even your race. Don’t let that be the reason that you don’t swim well. I’d much rather get to the pool 15 minutes early that be running 5 minutes late, it just rattles your brain. Stretch, sleep, rest, do whatever you need to do to stay calm.
  2. Have a pump-up playlist. Some swimmers hate listening to music before a race, but I feel like (especially in the on-call room), having one earphone blasting music drowns out some of the negative thoughts around you. These are some of my must-haves on my playlist:
    • Turn Down for What- DJ Snake & Lil Jon
    • Die Young- Ke$ha
    •  Best Day of My Life- Gazzo Remix
    • Bo$$- Fifth Harmony
  3. If you are confident and excited about your race, there is no reason you shouldn’t have a good swim. When I get up to the block, there is nothing else I can do to prepare. I am confident that I have put in the work for my swim, and I am excited to finally race. Let yourself be excited, and be confident that you will swim your best. When I really stop and think about it, swimming that one race is ten times easier that what I do multiple times a day at practice. My body knows what it needs to do, and the time will be what the time needs to be.

If you have a big meet coming up, remember to stay calm and be confident! GOOD LUCK:)

The Art of Taping

Today, if you turn on the TV to watch a sports event or scroll through Facebook to see pictures from a game, you’ll see athletes with bright strips of tape on different parts of their body. This is called KT Tape (or physio/rock tape). It’s an extremely controversial method of rehab in the athletics world. There’s been a lot of research done and it’s proven that taping both works and doesn’t work. So I thought I would break it down. There has been research done to show that there is an ‘ingredient’ in the tape that pulls your skin away from your muscles, allowing an increase in oxygen and blood flow to the muscle for faster recovery and longer muscle endurance. The material used to make the tape has the same elasticity as human skin, allowing the muscle tissue to move comfortably even when taped. On the flip side, there are many people saying that they have tried KT tape and that it has never worked. For me, I’ve been using KT tape for the last 3 1/2 years, and it has been my savior. I have used it on multiple parts of my body for many different injuries including my shoulders, back and ankle. I use it the most on my shoulders since I am a swimmer and have done damage to my rotator cuffs, and I really notice the difference. Not only does it seem to prevent further injury, but when I’m swimming with the tape on, I notice that my shoulders don’t hurt as much and don’t tire as easily. The same on my back. I used it on my ankle after a really bad sprain, and it helped to stabilize my ankle and increase the amount of time I could put pressure on it. So whether it really truly works or if it just the placebo effect, I will continue to use KT Tape because it is helping my performance. As an athlete, I will do anything I possibly can to increase my muscle endurance, prevent injury, and quicken the healing process of injuries, so there is absolutely no reason any athlete out there shouldn’t give KT Tape a shot. The worse thing that could happen is nothing at all. So give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Teaching at 17? #2

Today I did something really exciting: I led a whole group fitness class from start to finish! And it was such a good feeling. I started writing the workout about a week ago and worked on it little by little up until today. There was a warm-up, circuit, challenge, and warm-down. In addition to that, I also created the playlist to go along with the workout. I definitely learned a lot today and I’m looking forward to teaching again in the future so I can see how I improve.

So for today’s workout, I wanted to do something a little different from what we had been doing (body pump), so I decided that we were going to do a circuit. I started by splitting the class up into groups. Although it seems like such a 3rd grade thing to make groups, I think it’s extremely effective in this context. I spent a good 20 minutes picking the groups. I started by making sure that there was a good mix of boys and girls in each group. I then made sure I split up the students who I knew were friends, and put them with people that I hadn’t seen them interact with a lot. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out, but I think it did! There were exercises that required partners, and I really saw some students going out of their comfort zones and working with people they normally wouldn’t work with. So then it was time to create the workout. I went into the storage room where we have all of our equipment, and picked 5 pieces that I wanted to work with. I then thought back to all of the workouts I’ve done before and picked my favorite exercises using each piece of equipment, and there was the workout.

 

Main set: Circuit; 2 rounds straight through 2 min water break}repeat  (45 seconds on, 15 seconds off; 5 mins per round)

5 groups of four (mix up, 2 girls 2 boys)

  1. Squat/Burpees
    1. All rounds: 5 squats holding weight overhead (arms stay straight), 5 air burpees w/ push-up
  2. BOSU Ball push-ups
    1. Round 1-2: regular push-ups (with knees for regression)
    2. Round 3-4: push-up with bounce (if too tired or want a regression, regular push-ups)
  3. Kettle Bell Swings
    1. Round 1-2: Both hands
    2. Round 3-4: Singles, switch hands at top
  4. Med balls
    1. Round 1-2: Bounce w/ chest pass
    2. Round 3-4: Sit up w/ OH throw
  5. Ladders
    1. Round 1-2: Quick feet, shuffle on the way back
    2. Round 3-4: Hip switches, shuffle back (switch sides each time)

 

After we finished the circuit portion, everyone seemed pretty tired, so I had planned to do a couple yoga challenges. We did a few of them and they were really fun. I had the class get into groups of 2-4 people that they felt comfortable with and we went on. The challenges we did were the push-up chain, plank pyramid, and the box sit-up/pike.

Students trying the push-up chain challenge!

Students trying the push-up chain challenge!

Students trying the push-up chain challenge!

Students trying the push-up chain challenge!

Overall, I think today’s workout went really well. I recapped after class with my mentor and we talked about some things that went well and some things I could work on for next time. Can’t wait for next time! And stay tuned to stay updated about a 17 year old teaching PE!

My Letter to Swimming (6 months later)

To my love,

“I hated you. I really did. I wanted nothing to do with you, but you didn’t let me get away. And I didn’t let you get away. Whether I knew it or not, I always found an excuse to crawl my way back to you. And I did it again, but this time, a little different.  You put me through the hardest time in my life, but now I know why you did it. Like always, you did it to teach me a lesson. You did it to give me a tiny little taste of what real life would be like. As hard as it was to be put through that, it was a reminder for me that nothing will get in our way. We will always, no matter what, find a way back to each other. You reminded me of the strength that lies behind one’s passion. Once aware of your passion, the opportunities are endless, and what you must do then is take it and run with it. I’m so lucky to have had you to guide me through all of this. I’m so lucky to have you by my side no matter what we’re going through, reminding me that everything will end up the way it’s meant to, and that everything will be okay. For that I will be forever in debt to you.

I thought we were over 6 months ago. I really did. I thought that our time was up and that my goggles would come off for the last time. But thank you for showing me that our time will never be over. No matter what happens from this day forward, I know that you and I will be inseparable until the day I die.”

Discovering My Passion… AGAIN!

6 months ago, if you told me that I would be back in the water, in better shape than ever and captain of the team, I would have told you you were insane. But here I am, 6 months later, and I would have been wrong. You were not insane. It was a hard time to go through. All the lying and hiding and ditching practice, I’m hoping I never go through it again. But, it changed my life forever. I hated the sport, I wanted nothing to do with the water. I couldn’t stand to be around my coaches or the pool. I distracted myself, or at least I tried to. I kept everything inside for so long, not saying anything to anyone, even my parents. But finally, that day came when I had to let it all out. I had to tell people how I was feeling. That week, the day and the week after I told my parents what happened was the hardest week of my life. I thought I would never get over it. Someone close to me helped me gain some perspective at this point. She told me to take a step back. Take a couple weeks out of the water and see where it takes you. It might take you back to the water, it might take you somewhere very different. And whichever way I went, it would be okay. I knew that I had some other passions that I never had time to pursue. I was interested in nutrition, I was passionate about body image and I wanted to help others learn how to be healthier. But what could I do about this? Well, those two weeks out of the water ended up being the most clarifying two weeks of my life. I found so many opportunities that I never would have discovered if I didn’t pull myself away from the pool. I began working on projects that I became so emotionally attached to because of how passionate I was for those things. At that point I looked at my life and thought that finding these new passions meant that I was done with swimming. The time had come and I was ready to hang up my suit one last time. Boy was I wrong. Although it was a grueling process that took a long time, I found my way back. I started swimming again simply to stay in shape. I had no desire to go the extra mile or to race, I just needed to keep my body moving. And after a 1 month break, 2 months of swimming for exercise, 2 months of swimming on my own over the summer, and 1 month of swimming with our new team (shout out to Eagle Swim Club!!), I found my passion. Was it a new passion? No. Did I always know it was my passion? Yes. So why did I think I found my new passion? Because I did. I had lost touch with the water for so long, that I had come to terms with the fact that it was over. Discovering my passion again felt like no other feeling. It was a Tuesday afternoon about 3 weeks into school, and I was on the bus home after a hard practice and this rush of happiness fled over me. I couldn’t figure out why, but now I know. It was the moment I fell in love with swimming (again!).