~ dazed - in a state of mental numbness...unable to think with clarity or act intelligently
~ dazzling - extremely clever, attractive, brilliant, or impressive

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Exercising ... Baby Steps

I've been exercising this past gym or anything offficial, but when I have a moment during the day, or feel couch potato-ish, I do a few sets of push-ups and sit-ups and other things. It's a conscious part of my look better/feel better attitude and my journey to become healthy and awesome. Exercising is not the most bothersome thing to do, as I used to think. It's actually fun to do with the kids. Here's how I involve them:
  • I lay the baby on a blanket on the ground, facing up. I do 10 push-ups, kissing his little face each time I go down. My toddler, in the meantime, is usually mimicking me on his own rug.
  • Then I do stretches, e.g. things I learned from pilates. Like sitting up with both legs folded to one side, and stretching arms up and then down over my head to one side, then up and bending down to the other side (called the mermaid HERE to learn more). And we do some toe touching and leg stretches too. The baby is very entranced and amused by my movements. The toddler will try these moves with my encouragement.
  • For core work - I do bicycle crunches. Alternating right elbow to left knee, then left elbow to right knee, etc. and stretching the straight leg out as high as possible. I find that doing these well, engaging my core, really makes a difference. I'm feeling muscles I haven't used in months! Maybe years! My toddler loves "helping" by trying to push me up from behind.
  • Then I do some jumping jacks. These are the kids' favorites. It's very stimulating for the little one to see his mommy huffing and puffing and jumping around. And the toddler loves counting or doing ABC's with mommy as a way of multi-tasking during this exercise.
  • We also dance whenever there's music on or when we play dancing video games (xbox kinect is very fun!) or when his cartoon theme songs come on. We may watch tv quite a bit but I interact with him and dance and sing as much as possible!
  • If I'm feeling ambitious, I do some tricep dips or bicep curls, but I think my arms are getting a workout every day when I'm lifting my 15-lb baby and carrying him around everywhere. And of course, there are the vacuum lunges I do, marathon laundry days, wax-on/wax-off dusting...(j/k on that last one)...basically, keeping my fitness in mind while doing chores makes things more interesting and maybe more calorie-burning.
Another thing I've been trying to keep in mind is to NOT finish my son's food. Being a picky eater means he leaves a lot of food on the plate, sometimes wasting half a sandwich or bowl of rice for example...well, I stop myself from popping that perfectly good piece of food into my mouth, and falling prey to what every parent becomes at some point - the human garbage disposal. I'm trying to only eat when I need to (not just because it's there) and to stop when I'm full.

I'm also drinking (a little) more water these days. A cup of warm water to start off the day and end the night is nice, comforting, and calorie-free. That said, I am still addicted to sugary snacks and drinks. At least, the hubby and I are eating less fast food (like maybe only once or twice a MONTH, rather than a week).

RESULTS: I haven't been tied to the scale, so I'm not sure of exactly how long it took, but I'm seeing numbers I haven't seen since before my first pregnancy 3 YEARS ago! It took about a year to get the baby weight off the first time. Then with the second pregnancy, I gained less and lost it all in these past few months. I probably lost a pound or so when I cut off all my hair. And now, I'm losing even more, zooming by that pesky "pre-pregnancy weight" mark that's been looming over me since February 2009. And that weight was a whopping 25 lbs more than my "wedding weight" which was only 9 months before (it was a tough 9 months*). Needless to say, I have a bit more to go before I reach my previous wedding weight. Maybe in time for this summer's whirlwind of weddings to attend?

*Here's a helpful timeline:

May 2008 = wedding weight

{June-July 2008 - studying for and taking bar exam #1             } 
{Aug-Dec 2008 - waiting for/recovering from bar exam results } 
{Jan-Feb 2009 - studying for and taking bar exam #2              }
= +25 lbs

Feb 2009 - got pregnant {this was my official pre-pregnancy weight}
Feb-Nov 2009 - pregnancy #1 - gained 28 lbs
Nov 2010 - Jake turns 1, I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight
Jan 2011 - got pregnant again
Jan-Sept 2011 - pregnancy #2 - gained 20 lbs
Dec 2011 - back to my pre-pregnancy weight
Feb 2012 - lost 5 additional lbs

Feb-May 2012 - lose another 10 lbs!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Operation Beautiful

While browsing the blogosphere (blogging/online world), I came across this site: and I just had to share, especially since today is a day devoted to love (well, "Hallmark love" but we can make it mean something else). Basically, the website promotes the mission of posting positive notes in random public places, so that whoever comes across it can read it and feel beautiful or just smile. It started with the idea that women and girls are too down on themselves a lot of the time, and encouraging, positive messages to boost one's self-esteem can be revolutionary in changing that negative cycle. I thought - what a simple and amazing idea. Imagine how nice it is to get a compliment or when someone admires your kids. It gives you a little ego boost, maybe just when you especially need one. Now imagine that when you're in a public restroom, or at the park, or driving down the street, and instead of horrible graffiti, you see "Smile! You're beautiful." or "You are a beautiful CUPCAKE in a world full of MUFFINS." Hehehe. Not that there's anything wrong with muffins but cupcakes have frosting!!

Anyway, I thought that I would participate in this mission. It goes right along with one of my goals to look and FEEL beautiful as a part of becoming DAZZLING, and my step of asking for help and helping others. When you perform random acts of kindness, or help a friend, or give encouraging words to your partner, you spread positive feelings, to combat all the negativity out there. If you promote positivity in your circle, your community, the online society, the can only bring more positivity to your own life too. You can join in the fun...just carry a pad of post-its and a pen or some note paper, and leave notes in random places. You can send in your pics of notes you've posted or found and they'll put them up on their website every day. How about a sticky note on the shopping cart handle. Or the windshield of a car in your workplace parking lot. You can put the website name on there, to spread its message. Maybe you can start right at home...put one on your mirror, and snap a pic of your beautiful self and your little note. Here's mine:
That says: "You're a wonderful person, so SMILE!"

Of course, it's easy to smile when you're with this little guy :)

Operation Beautiful also has published a book that compiles some of the best, most inspiring notes they've collected over the years. Below is a link to buy it on I hope you check out their site and perform an act of random kindness today (and every day, if possible). The book "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" is a great book that can help explain to kids why they should do and say kind things. Also, if you need inspiration, here is a great article full of positive quotes and sayings. And of course, give your loved ones an extra nice hug today. :D

Operation Beautiful: Transforming the Way You See Yourself One Post-it Note at a Time
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Taking The Next Step

Step 2: Tackle challenges and acknowledge successes.

As my last post showcased, I am very happy and proud of my achievements, no matter how small. I want to continue in this fashion and post what I am (or should be) proud of. Yes, I am also fishing for compliments. I recognize, of course, that with each new success, there are dozens more challenges I need to confront. Hopefully, posts about my successes in overcoming each challenge will be numerous :) 

Step 3: Ask for help and help others.

There's no shame in asking for help, as my friends and family can attest to every time I am running late or when the house is a mess when they come visit. In that same vein, I think it's nice not to judge others when they're running late or the house/party/dinner or whatever wasn't perfect. It would be better to jump in and lend a hand, so everyone can have a good time, right? That way, you will always be a good guest as well as a good hostess. I should add this to my list of challenges...

Step 4: Learn something new every day.

This should be everyone's goal. One time long ago, I envisioned being a world traveler, seeing new sights and meeting new people every day. That may not be my life right now, but fundamentally, I am experiencing something new every day as a mother. Life is never boring when you have kids. To keep growing and becoming a good person, no matter what successes I have in my life, I will always strive for more and hope to learn something or do something new every day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New year, New style

A couple weeks ago I attended the wedding of my husband's old med school friend. At first, I was apprehensive about going. We hadn't talked to this particular friend for over a year (maybe even two) and had never met his fiancee. And after a hearty holiday season and just having had a newborn and dealing with a wild toddler at home, I wasn't feeling particularly in the mood to emerge from my cocoon and party all night at a wedding. Especially not a fancy Beverly Hills wedding. But my husband had rsvp'ed us weeks before, so we were definitely going.

It was decided that we'd leave Jake (our toddler) at home with his grandparents while we took Logan (4-mth old, still nursing) with us. Jake is familiar with his Korean grandparents, and sees them every other week or so, but besides a couple movie nights out, my husband and I had never left him in their care for very long. Four hours tops. And I thought about this....the most I had ever been away from my son during his entire TWO YEARS of life was...FOUR HOURS!? Okay, that settles it, we're going to this wedding and enjoying every minute of it.
I wore this dress everywhere. Jake is almost 4 months older in every picture!
I had to get a dress, since I'd worn the same (blue) dress to every function and wedding for the last 2 years. And I had to do something about my hair - it was long (almost to my butt), constantly got in my way, and was now shedding all over the place (it's normal to lose hair post-pregnancy). I thought I'd get it cut and styled in time to go to the wedding that evening.

So off we went to Macy's department store. After striking out on the juniors floor (I am SO not a juniors size or age anymore, I realize), I go to the Women's floor, but am disappointed in the styles (matronly) and selection (I needed a v-neck or something that I could still nurse in, is that too much to ask??). I tried on a few, and thankfully, one fit. It also didn't have any tags in it (weird), only a store-generated tag, so I don't actually know its size or designer name. I used this weirdness to get an additional 10% off, and used gift cards I had, so the dress was only $57. I wanted something sparkly, like a brooch or sash to add interest to the black lace dress. So the store staff pulled out a box of discarded belts (I don't know how or why they had this) and gave me a couple FOR FREE!! I ended up wearing a leather rope belt and I thought it contrasted nicely with the old-fashioned (but elegant) lace. Over it all, since it was a rare drizzly night in Los Angeles, I wore a black bolero-type jacket. And I had black shoes (never worn) at home that went with it all, so that was not an issue.

15 inches!
I went to a Korean hair salon nearby that I'd gone to before, this time with a stylist that I had yelp'ed (i.e. looked up on a review site) and made an appointment with (rather than just walking in and hoping for the best). He didn't understand much English, but the reviews had led me to believe he'd understand what I wanted (or needed) without much direction. So I put my hair in his hands. I also wanted to donate my hair to Locks of Love, so I asked him to put it in a ponytail before snipping (hacking) it off. He did so, but my asked-for 10 inches (the minimum required to donate) shoulder-length style turned into a whopping 15 inches cut off and chin-length! I told him how my hair tended to curl at the ends and I didn't want too much response, he gave me bangs! I've never had bangs! Luckily, they're long enough to tuck behind my ear but annoyingly, they're not long enough to tie back in a ponytail. Oh well. At least, the styling of loose waves/curls that I asked for was nice. I was just about ready to go to a wedding that night.

Makeup - I don't wear ANY on a day-to-day basis but I have a lot of bits I've collected over the years. Yes, I know makeup is not meant to be kept for years and years, barely being used, but it's what I got, so I use it. I used Benefit tinted moisturizer, Bare Minerals medium powder and mineral veil (click here to check it out), some brown eye shadow, and black mascara. I also used a rose cheek tint, and a dusty rose-colored lipstick. I painted my nails with a sheer shiny nail polish. I realized later that my "going-out" makeup was probably the same or less dramatic than most women's basic everyday makeup. Oh step at a time for me.
BEFORE (Oct-Dec 2011)

AFTER (Jan 2012)

At the wedding...I drank a few cocktails that night...yippee!

So...what do you think? The wedding ended up being really fun, and I didn't feel out of place at all. I belonged among the young, fun, wear-makeup-every day crowd. I was Sunny and Dazzling and looked Beautiful, even though I was a mom of two under 3. It was funny actually that a lot of guests we talked to and who were at our table had kids also, and had left their toddler at home too. Logan, an itty bitty newborn (the youngest there) was oohed and aahed over because he was so well behaved and cute. It was a fun night, which, including commute from our house, ended up being about 7 hours. Now that's the new longest time I have ever been away from Jake. And when I came home, I gave him a big hug and a kiss and told him I missed him (I did, a little) and he was nonplussed, having had a great time with his grandparents. They were exhausted though. Ha!...welcome to my life.

Separated for so long but none the worse for wear.
Isn't Logan the cutest?? He was an angel for the whole wedding.