Monday, January 30, 2012

After a year of sweating...

Woohoo, I've made it! A whole year! Today, exactly 365 days ago, I ventured into the world of exercise. Countless of hours, sore muscles and gallons of sweat later, I'm still standing, taller and stronger than ever before.

But this blog post is not just about me boasting about my success, even though I'm very proud of my achievements. It's about how sticking to one single decision can change a life. It might sound cheesy, but I'm dead serious. And it's not so much a cliché as it is a modification of a cliché.

You have probably heard it a million times (in all aspects of life) "you just need to make a decision". But is that the whole truth? There are millions of people around the world who make the decision to live a healthier life... every Monday. The challenge is sticking to your decision, not just to make it.

It's January and the gym is PACKED! Some faces I know, from seeing them every week. Some faces I recognize from January/February last year. Many faces are completely new. You can recognize the beginners by the look of pain in their faces. I know it's an up-hill struggle, believe me, I can relate. But once you're up the hill, you get to enjoy the view and the view can be spectacular.

What I really want to say, to those new to exercise, is "hang in there". Tough it out! But most of all, be patient. It will get easier. And before you know it, you will be the one surprised by your own reflection. I didn't suffer through any diets, I've eaten healthier and smaller portions but not deprived myself of anything. I can proudly say I've lost 8 inches (20 cm) around my waist and 35lb (16 kg) since January last year. As a final note, here are pictures taken from my vacations to Thailand and Mexico, exactly one year apart.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Waste of waist!

It's January 18th. So far, this year, I've spent about 20 hours at different shopping malls and outlets, actively shopping and looking for cloths. Am I a shopaholic? I wish! Let's look at what I've bought...

2 pairs of running tights
3 bras
2 panties
2 sweaters
1 shirt
2 t-shirts
1 pair of leggings
1 dress

A grand total of 14 pieces of clothing. If I remove the garments I bought out of necessity, such as underwear and replacement t-shirt and tights, I have bought 5 pieces of clothing out of enjoyment. So, it has taken me about 4 hours of searching to find each piece.

One of my pet peeves has always been people with nice bodies who doesn't dress "properly". If you have the goods, why not be proud of it. I'm not saying you should flaunt it, but if you have a nice body, most cloths will fit so why not buy appropriate sizes? I used to dream about the cloth I would wear if I weighed less.

Almost a year ago, I begun my own transformation, from being overweight to being smaller. My goal was to be able to walk into any store and have most of the medium sizes fit me. And when I reached my goal, I would reward myself with a new wardrobe.

Well, I've reached my goal. Actually, I reached beyond my goal. Now I fit in some mediums and some smalls. More or less everything I try on fits nicely. Have I treated myself to a new wardrobe? Nope. I have certainly tried, but it's been very difficult. I don't mean to sound like spoiled brat and I realize this may sound like a stupid problem, but I don't know how to dress the new me.

Last time I was this size, I was 13 years old. Obviously, it was a long time ago and there are very many reasons why I shouldn't be inspired by my 13 year old self.

Don't get me wrong, I have bought some new cloths, but only out of necessity, when I absolutely had to and not because I have found a million things I look great in. Trust me, when you're underwear is a couple of sizes too big, it's a sign your wardrobe has shrunk to a smaller size and it's time to buy some new cloths.

So, until I figure myself out, I will buy what I need to buy. Other than that, I will probably stick to my current re-invention of my style, belting and tying my old size 14 cloths. I've quickly turned into my own pet peeve. What a waste of waist!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Go to Mexico!

It's been over a week since I left Mexico. It was a fantastic trip! With all my heart, I recommend people to choose Mexico as a vacation spot, especially if you've never been there before.

This trip took us to great diving waters, fantastic beaches and hidden local gems throughout Quintana Roo, on the Yucatan peninsula. If you're looking to have a relaxing vacation whilst experiencing the Mexico away from the beaten path, but like to enjoy the organization and amenities that popular tourist destinations have to offer, I would recommend you to follow in mine and Theres' footsteps.

We arrived Cozumel Airport from Houston. When we booked our tickets, the difference in price between flying to/from Cozumel and Cancun were so vast, it made sense to fly to Cozumel. We then took the public ferry to Playa del Carmen, walked a few blocks to the bus station and took an ADO bus to Tulum.

Arriving Tulum, we grabbed a cab from the bus station to Zamas Hotel. All the taxis we took in Tulum had a set rate from the beach to/from the town (50 pesos). No room for haggling, but also no risk to be taken advantage of. The hotel was wonderful, with rustic, yet clean and pretty, bungalows on the beach. This was our vacation splurge. If you want to live on the beach, you pay the price for living on the beach. But it was worth every penny. Also, the hotel restaurant was great! We tried a bunch of different ones by the beach, but we kept returning to ours.

We did most of our diving in Tulum, with MexiDivers dive shop. They were so nice and the location of the dive shop was perfect if you stayed at our hotel. It was literally right across the street. The days we were not diving we made our way to downtown Tulum. It's where you can find the really good food for a steal! I ate ceviches  almost everyday in Tulum (downtown and at our hotel)!

After Tulum we made our way to Cozumel. We took the trusted ADO bus back to Playa del Carmen and then the ferry back to Cozumel's only city, San Miguel. Most people choose to stay in Playa del Carmen and only do day visits to Cozumel. If you're looking for great nightlife, it would be a wise choice. But if you're like us, who wanted great diving, good food and relaxation, go to Cozumel! Our days on the island turned out to be our favorite part of the trip.

We chose to stay away from the harbor, big hotels and cruise ships. Instead we lived at Hotel Casita de Maya, just next to the airport. It's about a 30 min walk from the town center, and the surroundings are not the prettiest. However, the hotel was really nice and cosy, only had four rooms in total. The owner and the staff made our stay unforgettable. Within a three block radius, we ate the trips best meal at La Perlita restaurant and we fell in love with one of my all time favorite restaurant, Diego's. We had two meals down by the harbor and hotel zone, but it was heavily overpriced and didn't taste that great.

If you're a diver or enjoy snorkeling, Cozumel is a must! Clear waters, colorful corals and more fishes than you can count! Our hotel recommended Dive Blue dive shop and the recommendation was spot on. The staff was super friendly, it was well organized and we had the best dive of the trip.

After Cozumel, we made our way to our final destination of the trip, Cancun. We knew Cancun was the tourist mecca of Mexico and that we would run into other tourist rather than experiencing Mexico. To our surprise, we were completely wrong! Why? Because we chose to live in the city and not in the Hotel Zone. Sure, you can find Walmart, Costco and Home Depot in Cancun city, but unless you go there, it's nothing you notice.

The Hotel Zone however, is a whole other story! We paid a visit when we went diving, and OMG, it could have been Mexico, Las Vegas or Disney World! If you enjoy your everyday life in the US, but want to stretch the dollar and enjoy the sun, the Hotel Zone in Cancun should be a perfect fit. If you, like us, wanted good and cheap Mexican food, communicate with body language rather than English and experience something different from what you already know, you can certainly find that in Cancun, as long as you stay away from the Hotel Zone. When looking for a hotel in the city, try to stay close to Tulum Avenue and the ADO bus stop. This will put you in close proximity to all public transportations.

During our stay in Cancun we did a day trip to Isla Mujeres. Once there we rented a golf-cart that took us around the island. We took the Ultramar ferry and it was very convenient. On our way back, we looked into grabbing a cab back to our hotel in the city. They wanted $20! By then, we had been in Mexico long enough to know when someone is trying to rip us off. Instead we walked across the street and found a somewhat questionable minivan/bus, but they only wanted $0.45 cent per person. The bus stop was a only a block from our hotel so it worked out perfect!

In summary, go to Mexico! The people are so very friendly, the food is fantastic, the climate is perfect and I can't wait to go back. As a final note, I leave you with a few photos from the trip.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Nice to meet you, 2012!

Happy New Year!

Today is NewYear's Day. The first day of the new year. I can't say I feel like any different or that the world around me has changed. However, today is a good day for contemplating on the year past and the year to come.

I'm still writing you from Mexico. It's our last day in this amazing country and tomorrow we will fly back to reality. The days in Cancun have been at times relaxing and at times very hectic (as has the entire vacation). More scuba diving (with some very interesting characters), golf-cart driving, ferry rides, loooong walks, crazy bus rides, suntanning, eating and drinking. This vacation has been everything I could have hoped for and it is with a humble heart and a full stomach I have to bid farewell.

All the great things aside, the most amazing thing with this trip is that I got to experience it together with my BFF. And thinkig back to the beginning of 2011, we had the privilage to explore Thailand together. We live on two different continents but with hard work, planning and prioritizing, we have done amazing things together and will continue to do so in the future. I can't wait!

2011 was a great year. My husband is great, my family is great and my friends are great. With all this, how can a year turn out anything but great? I got to start 2011 in Taiwan with my family, continue on to Thailand with my BFF, enjoy New York, Portland and Seattle with my husband, travel to Sweden, see our friends families grow, be visited by old friends from all over the world and make new friends I very much look forward to spend more time with. On top of it all, I got to discover new passions in drawing and scuba diving.

But in the grand scheme of things, I will look back on 2011 and remember two things in particular. 2011 will always be the year I received my Green Card and it will always be the year I changed my life around and became a healthier, fitter and slimmer version of myself.

What about the future? My hopes and plans for 2012 are very exciting. I'm not the one to promise before I know I can deliver, but I do invite you to join me in what could possibly be the most important year to date, but you will have to be patient. I also hope my loved ones will stay happy and healthy and that the small health scares we've had in 2011 is left behind, where they belong.

The years may change, but my new year's resolution stays the same. I promise, a year from now, I will look back on 2012 and have had a great year.