Last month I went up Mt. Whitney with WillTrek. It was my first time making a video so enzoy!
I have a few guilty pleasures in life. They make me feel real good, but I always have a slight guilty cringe just before feelings of euphoria and excitement take over. The #1 guilty pleasure I have is dance movies like uh… Step Up, the second being the Bruno Mars song “Just the Way You Are” (please don’t tell anyone!!!! :), and the third being frozen yogurt. Tart frozen yogurt has been the new craze these past few years (surpassing it’s predecessor boba tea) and has gained a lot of popularity, but I have been eating it for over 10 years. Hi. My name is Christine P and I am addicted to frozen yogurt. Well, I’d like to call myself a frozen yogurt connoisseur.
Frozen yogurt is promoted as being the healthy alternative to ice cream, but if you don’t do your research you won’t be getting the biggest bang for your nutritional buck. There have been a ton of random frozen yogurt shops that have been opening up that promote their stuff as healthy, but don’t believe everything you hear!! I single out frozen yogurt because they they really do push the health thing whereas ice cream shops really don’t care and admit they are not health-conscious. Frozen yogurt uses their well-known yogurt backbone as their health platform. Do not blindly believe- frozen yogurt retailers claim that their product has just the same benefits as regular yogurt, but it’s just not true! Well first off, what health benefits does frozen yogurt have? There are actually plenty. Yogurt has a lot of calcium; contains live active cultures which helps with digestion, bowel movements, good for people that are lactose-intolerant, etc; it also contains protein which makes yogurt quite a nice balanced snack. However, where things go wrong is that to make it taste good there are a lot of sugars added to it. Take a look at the nutritional info on those yogurts and you can see the sugar content go hiiiiigggghh. Most people don’t really think to look at the sugars since yogurt is “good for you.”
So let’s take a look at frozen yogurt. The problem with frozen yogurt is that most products that are sold to stores come in powder form and are just mixes. How can there be live active cultures if it’s just dried powder, you ask?? Some frozen yogurts don’t even have any live cultures because sold in its’ live form (most likely liquid that needs to be in a refrigerated temperature), it is very expensive to ship since liquid weighs more than powder. Also, it is very costly to go through temperature/pasteurization processes to keep the cultures live so most stores don’t want to deal with it. If you’re a live-culture fan like me, look at the National Yogurt Association homepage to see what brands are accredited by them. To be accredited by the association, the frozen yogurt must be reach a certain criteria and a certain percentage of live cultures.
Another problem that I have with frozen yogurt is the high fructose corn syrup. Yes, it’s just corn sugar- I’ve seen the new commercials this last year. I just still feel that there is not enough information regarding how our bodies process it. There are tons of studies that say our bodies process it just fine but the idea still doesn’t really sit right with me still. I try to eat it in moderation because I can’t avoid it completely, but I really prefer real sugar. I definitely know that Yogurtland, Red Mango, and Goldenspoon have HFCS so just be aware of that. In addition to the type of sugar, please please PLEASE check out the calories before you think they have all the same caloric content! Some yogurts pack up to 30 calories per ounce and I do not know anybody who only eats just 8 ounces! It is very easy to pack on the yogurt at these self-serve places. Another diet death trap are the toppings. These can pack on so many sugars and fats that you might as well be eating a piece of chocolate overload cake. If you’re conscious, just try to stick to the freshly cut fruits and nuts to keep your yogurt healthy. However!!!! If you really do want to feel good about yourself while eating these sugar bombs, just do it right after you weight train when you need sugar. Frozen yogurt is a great post-workout feel-good treat. It is “fat-free” so the glucose can enter your bloodstream quickly without anything slowing it down and it is just such a nice little reward for that hard workout you just did. Frozen yogurt is the way to my heart ok? No chocolates, flowers, or teddy bears. Just a carton of frozen yogurt :)
These past three weeks I’ve been obsessed with avocados… like SUPER obsessed. I not only eat one a day, but sometimes two! At this Korean grocery store nearby the office, they were selling four avocados for 99 cents! Avocados usually cost about 99 cents each, and when they are in season you can get them 49 cents each. I usually pass on avocados, but the Vietnamese in me couldn’t pass up this great of a deal. No way man. Sometimes I don’t even like foods, but when I see prices that are unusually low the Vietnamese in me comes out full force and I get really greedy. So I uuuhhh… ended up buying 12 When I buy fruits, I either go by cost or by numbers. This one was hard to decide because it was only 3 dollars but 12 avocados was a lot and I factor in how many I can/should eat so that’s why I ended up eating two a day sometimes. Since then I’ve been continuing to buy avocados and have been eating them so much that they’ve become a new found love of mine.
I probably should’ve been loving them sooner since I am obsessed with eating healthy fats, but I just didn’t think about it. Since I’ve been eating avocados I have been naturally eating less nuts. So what are the facts on avocados, you ask? There are many varieties of avocados and did you know they are also called alligator pears? I wouldn’t exactly call it an alligator pear myself, but I guess it has a rough exterior that looks like alligator skin and is shaped like a pear. Here in California, the Hass avocado has become widely popular and the type that is most marketed. However, they are not marketed highly because of their superiority but because they have the highest value for the retailer. The Hass variety has thick skin and don’t bruise as easily than their avocado cousins. Thus, they can keep longer during transportation from farm to store, and keep better once at markets. Other varieties are called Bacon, Pinkerton, Fuerte, Gwen, Reed, and Zutano. I am falling in love with the Bacon avocado :)
Nutritionally all varieties of avocados have the same caloric content- 150g of avocados will deliver 240 calories, with 22g coming from fat, 13g carbs (10g fiber!!!!! and only 1g of sugar!), and 3g of protein. Okay so you might be freaking out about the amount of fat in avocados and it’s not a big secret or anything, but they are actually good fats! About 75% of fat in an avocado is from monounsaturated fat (the good kind!) so do not worry, my fat conscious friends. They are also one of the only fruits that have fat, so they are quite special. Avocados also contain 23-30% of your day’s worth of folic acid which help in the production of new cells. Folic acid is also vital to pregnant women because it helps neural development in fetuses- so important that this is the reason why they fortify cereals with folate! Avocados are have vitamin C, B Vitamins, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and more potassium than bananas! In addition, avocados will help lower your cholesterol. Surprise!!! Who would’ve thought that something high-fat will help lower your cholesterol? They are so good for you!
In Vietnamese culture, they often eat avocado with condensed milk or mix that concoction into an avocado smoothie (sinh to bo). This is SO tasty, but the condensed milk has a lot of fat and sugar so that is not how I eat my avocados. When buying avocados, most stores will sell them when they are very firm to the touch. Just bring them home and store them unrefrigerated. They are ready to eat when the skin gives when you press into it. To speed up ripening, just place them in the sun or in a paper bag with either a kiwi, apple, or banana. These fruits give off ethylene gas which is the reason why they help speed up the ripening of an avocado. To eat an avocado I just cut it lengthwise until I reach the pit. Then I cut around the huge seed and twist the avocado halves to separate them. Using one swift ax-like ninja chop, the seed comes out with the knife. I just scoop the avocado straight out of the skin with a spoon and eat. Don’t be afraid to eat near the skin because just like most fruit, the most nutrients are nearest to the skin. Enzoy!
sleep aids=cool, but sleep AIDS=not so cool.
I’ve been having a really hard time staying asleep at night for the past several years. Yes, I really did say several years!!! I haven’t consciously been addressing the issue and was just complaining about the bad sleep I’ve been getting because I kept thinking that it was just a temporary problem. I’d tell myself that it’d go back to normal soon. However, this temporary problem persisted for almost 3 years. Blame it on an active mind, but I just can’t fucking stop thinking enough to get a night where I sleep soundly the entire time. The older I get, the more controlled I become under pressure so I end up over-taking care of myself cause I don’t want to get sick or get a million fucking zits on my face. BEAUTY IS MONEY :) I guess I just consider it being responsible for my own health. Thus, I really have started focusing on getting good sleep because everything else (diet and exercise) is golden.
When I was younger, I thought it was cool to be able to run on 2 hours of sleep- it was as though I had defeated some big giant by not sleeping… but ah, the wisdom we accrue as we age. One of the most essential facets of health is sleep, and on a physical training perspective it is even more important because that is when your body repairs and regrows all of your muscles. I don’t have insomnia and can fall asleep rather quickly, but the problem is staying asleep. I’ve always been a light sleeper and wake up for every damned thing. These are a few accidental and purposeful sleeping aids I’ve found the past several years that I’ve finally combined to create my ultra-powerful sleep formula.
CHRISTINE PHAM FORMULA
1. Blackout Curtains
I wake up whenever the sun comes out. It’s good, I guess…. except for those nights when you go to bed at 3 or 4 AM and the sun comes out at 6:30 AM. I discovered this when I went on a cruise and got one of those cheapass interior rooms. IT’S FUCKING PITCH BLACK. I’d wake up and think it was 7 AM to find that it was 1 PM, and had missed out on the breakfast buffet at the Pacific Room!!!! I think this happened like 2 out of the 3 mornings, and on the third morning I just set my alarm clock. Trust me, if you have a hard time sleeping purchase some blackout curtains and make sure no light can seep through. It’ll change your life.
I know most people don’t like taking stuff and especially to “help you fall asleep,” but think of it as taking a vitamin (okay well maybe it’s just me that doesn’t like taking stuff). Melatonin is a naturally occurring compound in animals (yes, we are animals) that is secreted to the bloodstream by the pineal gland. It is stimulated by the lack of sunlight so that is why it is a popular supplement for travelers since it helps with jet-lag. When you take melatonin, make sure you have at least 5 hours of sleep because if you don’t have enough time, you’ll wake up feeling really lethargic. Initially I didn’t want to take melatonin because I don’t like being dependent on things, but after years of not sleeping I figured a small-kine dependency wasn’t that big of a deal. As far as the milligrams, I purchased the huge tub from Costco which sells melatonin ultra which I don’t know what the hell that ultra is for. It’s 3 mg, but I take 2 of those because I am sort of a badass. I take one about half an hour before I am about to go to bed. However, this is not really a sleeping pill so you’ll have to just be sorta getting ready for bed and it’ll aid you, not knock you out.
3. Lavender Scents
Okay so this sounds super stupid and I was never a believer of lavender scents being soothing. I actually kind of hate plug in scented crap, but I plugged one of these in my office one day because I figured why the F not. I thought I’d make my window-less, next-to-the-break-room-burnt-croissant-morning room smell nice. Well, suddenly one afternoon I was doing work and noticed myself dozing off. I never doze off in the middle of the day unless some boring teacher is lecturing!!! This started to happen days in a row so I knew something was up and started peering around my office all confused. Deduction skills within 10 minutes!!!! I know, I’m so smart- it was the stupid fucking lavender scented plug in. My eyes zoomed into the plug. It stared at me and I stared back at it. I was horrified of the power of the lavender scent and immediately unplugged it. Well, my foe has become my friend and I have one plugged in my bedroom. It’ll go with my Wiccan decor, of course.
4. Sleepytime Tea
My roommate gave me this tea and it caffeine-free loaded with some herbal sleep aids. It has chamomile, spearmint, and the Sleepytime Extra by Celestial Seasonings has Valerian root which hella promotes sleep cause it is an herbal sedative. In ancient Greece and Rome it was prescribed for insomnia, so philosophy me that biatch. For me, it just helps me relax and unwind because of the act of having a cup of tea is relaxing.
5. Warm phallanges
I specifically remember one night when I was younger when it was so fucking hot that I was walking around in my bedroom with the fan on, unable to sleep. Did you know there was a perfect temperature to fall asleep to? Your body has an internal set point for temperature and it sleeps best at its’ achieved temperature. When you become uncomfortably hot or cold, you’re more likely to wake up. The best temperature in your room for you to sleep in is between 65-72 degrees. So if your room is too cold, but on some socks and warm clothing. If it’s a hot night though, just be NAKED. Cause of course, being naked solves everything.
INEFFECTIVE OR UNHEALTHY SLEEP AIDS
I took Ambien a few times, and it worked on me only the first time. Uuhhh I was at the LAX international terminal on my flight to Paris and took the pill too early. As I was called to enter the plane, I freaking stumbled and had to hold myself up against the wall. soembarassing. Well, after that time I’ve never been able to fall asleep when I took Ambien. Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic that binds to receptors in the brain that promotes sedation. However, there are a ton of uncool side-effects to taking this such as increased appetite, DECREASED LIBIDO, vomiting, etc… you know, all that fun stuff.
2. Simply Sleep
So dammit when I was sick as a kid, I’d take Tylenol PM. It was some strong shit cause I’d pass out cold. I was like WTH is this crap making me pass out harder then Benadryl? I looked up the ingredient and it was diphenhydramine. Diphenahydramine scares me. I noticed a new product a while back called “Simply Sleep,” and the italics of the main ingredient being diphenhydramine sparkled across my eyes. So they had taken out the acetaminophen (the main pain relieving product in Tylenol), and just made a sleeping product. It is a very old sedative meaning that it’s been around forever, but it has been used to treat other problems such as allergies. It is a very strong product and also metabolized by the liver so USE WITH CAUTION.
Well there are two other things that I don’t want to talk about that works, but I guess I’ll say it really quick because IT FUCKING WORKS. It doesn’t mean I do it though :) Smoke a shit ton of weed (umm before you get the munchies), and uuuhhh masturbate. Think of the nice pleasant calm aftermath as you lay in a lover’s embrace…. by yourself. Don’t tell anybody I promoted that though. Just high-five me under the table next time you see me.
So I lied and I am not going to write about my workout experience like I said I would in my previous post… cause that is one big bag of chip to open and you know you can’t just have one. That is just a lot to write about and I just don’t feel like delving into all of that with all the stuff I have to do. Today I feel like blogging about my partying fun! Well… the repercussions of my partying :) Even though I eat fairly healthy, I definitely have those days where I ate too much and feel like I ate the whole cow AND drank its’ milk. What to do, what to do. Luckily for you guys, I’ve been partying for the past 10 years and also exercising for the same amount :) I’ve got this down to a science.
Well first of all, just because you ate 10,000 calories does not mean you will gain 2.8 lbs. You’ll definitely feel incredibly bloated so DO NOT WEIGH YOURSELF. You are going to cry because you thought that meal last night caused you to gain 5 lbs overnight. Don’t worry, most of that is water weight meaning you ate a lot of salty foods which caused your body to retain water. That will go away in two days via the piss route. Only if you eat 10,000 calories a day for several months without exercise- that is when you will get fucking fat. Just like the saying “Rome was not built in a day,” that same goes for fat people- becoming fat happens over a period of time. One day of indulging every once in a while will not hurt you at all. However, it still takes a few days to recover from eating too much in one sitting. In my experience, do not let yourself go for more than 2 days of eating unhealthy because after that I’ve had a hard time trekking back to my diet and workout.
After you resonate with the idea that this weight isn’t all fat, you can move on to the next round which is your diet for the next two days. Eat foods that are high in potassium which will help your body shed the salt. Some examples of foods high in potassium are fish, beans, and vegetables. Just make yourself a nice giant tossed salad. However, if you eat beans you might still feel bloated because they are high in fiber so just be aware of that type of bloating. Also, eating these foods will help balance out the acidity buildup in your stomach from the extra production of HCL used to help digest your meal. You might also want to drink a sugar-free mixed sports drink which also will help your water balance. Stay away from foods high in sodium for a few days ok?
The third component is your exercise. After hot and heavy meals, I don’t like to weight train at all. I’m fucking bloated and no, I will NOT squat. Weight-training will most likely make you feel sore afterwards and those muscles will retain more water needed to help push out the lactic acid build up (which is not your goal). It just doesn’t feel good on your joints to work out when bloated I think. I wait until my body feels normal again to weight train which is about 2-3 days after eating one of these bad-boy meals. So if there is no weight training, there is only cardio :) Yes, the more you sweat the better. If you can get your heart-rate up it will help speed up your circulation which will help the water shedding process go faster. Also water will be released via the sweat route. So RUN! I tend to do 2 sessions of moderate-paced cardio for 45 minutes for two days after those meals.
After about 3 days, your body weight should go down and your body should feel back to normal. When I feel good again and my joints feel flexible, I go back to weight-training. If this plan sucks to you, you can just punch yourself 20 times until you cry out 5 lbs of water. That works too.
A few pretty cool things around here-
1. I saw that the Albertsons close by my casa has started carrying craft and local beers. I kinda squealed when I saw that cause they have this entire section selling individual bottles of beer and very competitively priced too. But I am a fan of Liquor Warehouse nearby my house cause they are good to me and I am good to those who are good to me. Scanning the beers though, I definitely saw a few that Liquor Warehouse does not have so I might have to grab a couple of bottles. shhh.
2. I should’ve said this sooner, but my blog has pretty much all been about nutrition. I barely talk about training even though I work out all the time. So I have completely stopped the weights/cardio routine since March, and have started kickboxing a few days a week at Wardance Training Center. I got really bored of doing body weight exercises and hours of cardio… HOURS!!! My body is really sensitive to weight-training and genetically I grow muscle easily so even without eating a ton of protein, my body will grow muscle. I’m short and do not like too much muscle on myself either. After around 5 months of kickboxing, here is a pic of my hard work … and one of the coolest parts is that my breasts are still there :) I don’t post face pics very often cause shit I’m shy ok, but this is me and Will who is my kickboxing instructor. He is pretty awesome. Come kickbox with me!!!!!!!!
Compare this to me back when I was 18. I remember when I was a trainer at 24 Hour Fitness and my fitness manager would walk around criticizing the people who worked out for years and their body never changed. But guess what d-bag? It’s been almost 10 years and I’m actually pretty happy that I am the same size as I was when I was 18. 18 forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
3. My new favoritest snack of late are Emerald brand cocoa roast almonds and cinnamon almonds (don’t hate me Blue Diamond!!!!!!!!! I’m still a fan of the smokehouse stuff). The Emerald almonds are sweet though and it’s awesome for when you’re having a sweet and crunchy craving. These almonds are sweetened with fake sugars so it’s not completely au naturel, but they totally hit the spot. Beware though because the dark chocolate peanut butter almonds have corn syrup in them.
So just a short little blog to let you guys know I’m still alive and well. I miss you guys and I’ll be blogging again very soon about my experience with lifting weights and cardio over the years.
So summer school just ended and holy mother f-er that nearly killed me but I made it out alive. Hooray. It super sucks driving back and forth since I am not the best driver in Little Saigon (I know- big surprise huh?). I’m glad it’s over though cause now I can relax a little and get super wasted every weekend which I’ve been strictly abiding by :) I probably said the f word a bazillion times in the last 6 weeks though so I hope Jesus forgives me.
On another note, WordPress is kinda cool in that it tells you the search words people use. So my favorite search words of the week are: woman sucking on a zucchini and fat guy with strawberries. Well ok first I don’t really understand the woman sucking on a zucchini thing and how these peoples ended up on my blog. I guess not only is it super weird but I don’t get why they would want to see or know about a woman sucking on a zucchini. The zucchinis sold in stores are usually coated in wax so it is shiny, but it wouldn’t really have any taste. Also uncooked zucchini tastes kinda bitter it so it’s definitely not about taste. Yeah it’s phallic and everything but c’mon a zucchini? That is a super non sexy vegetable. Maybe I understand the fat man with strawberries thing. Maybe. People are just so weird.
Today I am going to be blogging about alternative sweeteners because there’s so much going on in that department regarding health and all that. You have to admit that sugar in our culture has a bad reputation. And yes, I’m one of the ones that have given in to it so I’ve tried almost every alternative sweetener out there. I’ve tried more sweeteners than I have drugs so that is a good thing. Mother would be proud.
So here are the ones I’ve had and this is what I know about them. I pass down this knowledge to you.
1. Splenda- The sugar molecule contains alcohol groups (“alcohol group” is just a name for a specific group of molecular bonds) and one of the groups is replaced with a chlorine molecule. The subtle change makes it so that the body can still recognize it and it tastes sweet, yet it cannot be metabolized. Splenda is pretty much the newest sweetener on the market. It tastes super similar to sugar and supposedly 600 times sweeter. It is popularized mainly because of marketing and the moneys funded to push it on, but in my opinion I don’t think it is incredibly safe yet. Too much of it will make a ballsack grow out of your cheek. Ok, I lied. I just think that there hasn’t been a solid amount of time to test this product yet so I’m always weary of new FDA-approved products.
2. Aspartame- (I actually pronounce this as-part-am-me but yes, I know it’s as-part-tame) This sugar alternative has been around for a while and is heavily controversial in the health field. Lots of times I’ve heard “it caused cancer in rats!” Aspartame is made by three key ingredients which are sparatic acid, phenylanine, and methanol. You cannot absorb the calories in aspartame because it’s a modified dipeptide (protein) that the body can digest but not absorb since it has been modified. Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar. I don’t like using aspartame too much because it does leave an unpleasant aftertaste. Don’t swallow, just spit.
2. Stevia- I remember the good ‘ole days at Trader Joes when I had to buy the huge shaker of stevia sold in the vitamins section. I think they finally moved it into the baking section with the sugar? I thinks. Stevia is a natural sugar substitute that is made from an herb originally from South America. When you ingest stevia, it doesn’t immediately taste sweet but when the sweetness develops it lingers in your mouth for a while and does leave a slight aftertaste. It looks like powdered sugar though and does not look like a sugar granule. There is some controversy regarding it’s safety mainly in that when rats consume a shit-ton of it, those damn rats keep getting cancer. I think they probably fed the rats like a million teaspoons or something. I think Stevia is the “safest” of alternative sweeteners because it has been used by the Japanese for a super long time and they have super duper low cancer rates. In the US, Stevia was finally approved because Coca-Cola finally pushed all this funding into its’ safety research so it is kind of stupid that it’s finally gaining more popularity just because of Coke.
3. Xylitol- xylitol is an naturally-occurring alternative sweetener (meaning that it is found in natural things) and is just as sweet as table sugar. However, xylitol is not a no-calorie product. A teaspoon of sugar contains 15 calories whereas xylitol contains 9.6 calories so it’s just about 40% less calories than sugar. Xylitol is fucking expensive though so I don’t think it will gain that much popularity and also when consumed in large amounts it’ll give you some mean diarrhea. Oh yay. Is it worth it? No. However it has a little more health benefits than the other alternative sweeteners because it can help protect your teeth. Regular sugar feeds the bacteria on your teeth and one of the bacteria’s by-products are acid (which is why parents tell you that sugar causes cavities) that eats away at your enamel. Well how does this work, right? Supposedly since xylitol is so similar to sugar, the bacteria on your teeth are attracted to it and eats it, but since it is not sugar the bacteria cannot really eat this sugar so it “starves” it. They dies. Pretty smart. So I guess if you are prone to cavities it’d be cool to use xylitol but moreso as a chewing gum which is where you’ll find xylitol being the most popular.
All of these alternative sweeteners have different properties meaning that you can’t just cook and bake with all of them- they definitely are not as stable as sugar so when you purchase a product and want to use it in foods you’ll have to do some research. Personally, I’ve sorta gone back to using regular sugar in my recipes when I cook and just do organic sugar because I don’t think the bleaching process used in table sugar is very good for you. I’m not obese or diabetic, and work out regularly so I’m not too concerned with my sugar intake because it’s always under control- it’s just a lifestyle. Yea boi. When I do get a craving for a soda, I’ll just buy whatever diet soda because I don’t consume the alternative sweetener in huge amounts enough for it to be cancerous. Otherwise I really feel as though consuming too much alternative sweeteners cause a psychological craving for sweet things and I don’t think that is healthy for you. Everything in moderation ok?