I am a data junkie! I want to know the stats, trends, and frequencies of everything I am doing – including my fitness routines! I decided to invest in a heart rate monitor after learning how inaccurate my calories “burned” really was on exercise equipment. polar_ft40_2 Prior to purchasing a Polar FT40 Heart Rate Monitor (HRM), I had an iPod Nano and iPhone with the Nike+ app installed. In general, I really enjoyed using the app for my runs and half-marathon training. I was able to sync my runs online and see a chart of how my runs were progressing. The technology remains exceptional in my book. However it lacked one major feature – a heart rate monitor.

Why does it matter?
For folks who are trying to lose weight regardless of the amount, the rule of thumb is that you would need to have a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose 1 lb. of body fat. It’s a lot trickier than it seems. Depending on your body type, age, and gender, you will need to adjust your weight loss methods to meet your goals. The watch will offer some insight to how many calories you burn during a particular workout. We naturally burn and metabolize calories throughout the day so it goes beyond your workout session! polar_ft40 Why I chose to buy a HRM?
I really debated my choice for several months before hitting the “Add to Cart” button. My other choice was a Garmin GPS watch with a HRM because I used to run 3-4 times a week outdoors. However, the watch was outside of my post-grad budget. It’s nice to have but my iPhone can do the GPS part. I sacrifice the fancy gadget and went with the bare essential Polar HRM that I can use for different workouts beyond running.

The neat thing is that a lot of local gyms have equipment that uses Polar synchronization. Just hop on a Polar integrated equipment and the display will link up with your watch! I have worn this watch out during my runs and even at my half-marathon in January. I burned about 1920 calories in 3 hours (warm-up, half-marathon, and cool-down)! I enjoyed comparing effective calorie burning vs. fat burning exercises! I found out that yoga burns more fat than running despite the low “calories burned!”

Buy the watch if you:
a) Enjoy making personal challenges to meet your health/fitness goals
b) Plan to wear the watch when you exercise
c) Need motivation to get off the couch
d) Are a fellow fitness data junkie

Don’t buy this watch if you:
a) Are a minimalistic gym goer/athlete
b) Are forgetful when it comes to bringing gear to the gym (i.e. headphones and/or iPod)
c) Are not calories conscious

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My earliest memory of my childhood was sitting beside my mother as she recited a story that she knew by heart, her life in Cambodia. Everything about it fascinated me. I wanted to know more about the life she left. She willingly told me the grave details of her family’s survival and their journey to America.

Last year, my mother and I visited her hometown in Central Cambodia. My mother had not seen her village since she escaped from Cambodia during the 1970s. The feeling was so surreal. It finally hit me that I was visiting the location of where most of my mother’s stories took place.

Cambodia_May2013-11My uncle drove us in his pick-up truck to a remote village far from the main road and into a desolate region with a few homes and neglected rice paddies. The spot where my mother’s childhood home once stood, now lay barren with sparse patches of grass and a tree that my grandfather planted nearly six decades ago.

We hopped out of the truck and took a moment to reflect on the journey that our family took since leaving this small village. In that moment, I felt that I connected with my family’s history and discovered the root to my passion.

I discovered that I’ve been given this ability to document and share my family’s history with future generations in more ways than one. It’s a powerful gift that continues to give beyond my family. I hope to share more stories with you all in the future.

Sincerely,
Malissa

Ensenada_2Three months ago, I emptied my bank account and started a small multimedia company with me as the owner, president, head of operations, and main boss lady. My decision came after years of deliberation with my loved ones. I admit, this experience hasn’t been the easiest transition into entrepreneurship. There are plenty of things I am still figuring out. I am just excited that I am doing things that make me happy.

I remember reading inspirational quotes on happiness and often thinking,

“well that would be a great dream, but who the heck will pay my bills?”

The looming threat of poverty still plagues my thoughts; I don’t want to subject my family to another lifetime of crippling stress and worry.

When I was younger, I saw people work jobs that made them unhappy every single workday just to put a roof over their heads and food on the table. For a long time, I thought that was what being an adult meant. You have a job but you probably hate it.  It’s normal, right?

When I graduated from college, I was excited to finally apply for the dream jobs. At least, I thought I would apply for those types of jobs.  On most days, I found myself riddled with anxiety after clicking on a lengthy job description for a reporter or journalist position at a local newspaper. In my head, I would never be good enough to cover stories for so-and-so publication on an everyday basis.

That was my problem. The whole anxiety issue of deeming yourself “not-good-enough” was poison to my happiness. Even with launching this blog, I wrote a handful of drafts that I deemed not good enough.

I realize that this mindset needed to change, especially as a business owner. It’s more than flipping a switch and being completely happy. It’s changing your thoughts and actions to become your source of happiness.

Every day is another day in the pursuit of happiness.

 

“Mak, are you having a boy or girl baby?”

The rumble of my dad’s old Mercedes-Benz turbo diesel drowned out my 4-year old voice. My mom, little brother, and I sat in the back of the car as my dad drove us towards our weekly grocery trip. I repeated it more than once, “Mommy, are you having a boy or girl baby?” My mom replied with a smile, “You’re going to have a sister.

I remember the day when we brought my sister home. Our family packed ourselves in my mom’s light blue Dodge Caravan and we drove back to our apartment. My dad carried my sister in her car seat upstairs and placed her in the living room. I sat beside her as my mom began to unpack the hospital bag. I peered into the car seat and took a big whiff of my sister’s “new baby” scent. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

To my surprise it wasn’t the “new baby” smell, but the smell of McDonald’s French fries. It was that fragrant smell of fried starch and salt being shuffled into the iconic red French fry carton. Being a 4-year old, I didn’t know any better. I begged my dad to take us to McDonald’s for some French fries. Despite my pleas and persuasiveness, I sat there “French fry” less next to a baby who made my yearn for crispy fries.

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Joking aside, I am incredibly grateful to have my little-french-fry-smelling-sister in my life. She has grown up into a young independent, hard-working, smart, and humble woman.

Here’s to another alcohol-less year of life, happy 20th birthday, my dear!

06/09/2014

The Perfect Timing

Written by Posted in Long Reads Comments 4

“I will launch my ___________ in the next few days, weeks, months, or years.”

I’ve been watching the days go by, waiting for everything to be perfect. Nothing has happened, and nothing has been done. I’ve been sitting on my hands worried on how I start this new entry on this exciting yet scary adventure that I am now embarking.

To be honest, I’ve drafted a few different versions of this “Letter of Intent” – the basic introduction to this crazy life that I am now adopting as my own. As I become older, I realize the more fearful I become. The sudden leaps towards the unknown – plain out worry me. I blame it on this emphasis on financial success. I am almost in my mid-20s and I have graduated from a pretty decent university. Everyone, including myself, has this expectation that I will be closer to middle-class by the time I am almost 30. Maybe it will happen, but right now I am okay with exploring my options.

However, I am throwing in the towel and calling it quits on the waiting, there is no better time than the present. Allow me this time to introduce to you, the owner and mastermind behind this blog, me!

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I decided to get serious with my photography AND writing. The core of my passion(s) is storytelling. There are so many artists, creators, and/or makers who are trying to express themselves through their craft. I face the reality that I am not ever going to be a medical professional, lawyer, politician, or some rich start-up developer; I am okay with it. I am happiest when I am capturing a story right before my eyes, even if the story does not have words or images.

I invite you on this journey because I decided that today will be perfect timing.

03/23/2014

Viva Las Vegas

Written by Posted in Travel Comments 0

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Do you ever get “traveler’s feet” and need to scratch it with a new adventure? That’s me for you! Ever since I turned 21, Las Vegas has been my mini-getaway from the rat race that you call life. Vegas has a bit of everything for everyone. I enjoy the yummy food choices on and off the strip. On our recent trip, the Mister and I opted to stay off the strip and indulge in the sights of the Mojave Desert. Our trip was cut short but we enjoyed every minute of it! We stayed at the M Resort. It was AMAZING even for 10 hours.

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Nothing beats a warm bubble bath and the view of sunrise over the desert. Absolutely gorgeous!

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We concluded our trip with a visit to the majestic Red Rock Canyon! We didn’t have time to hike or go on the cruise but the view is still incredible from the various look-out points. We will be back on our next trip!
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Where is your favorite place to visit for some needed rest and relaxation?

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How do you keep yourself accountable for your goals?

Are you the type that can commit to a goal with 110%? Or are you the type who works better with group competitions? Or are you the type who says you have goals but never make the time to commit to it?

Hint: I am the latter!

For a long time, I struggle with stress and stress eating. I gained the coveted “Freshmen 15” and lost most of it since my college days. However, my stress levels remain the same. Instead of stressing about papers, tests, and reading assignments, I am stressed about managing my bank accounts, having enough energy for work, and transitioning into the grown up life. It’s completely normal. It’s called “Post-Graduate” life after all. I know I am not alone on this.

I wanted to make a commitment to myself. I wanted to keep track of my stress levels, food intake, and exercise activities. I knew it was a challenge. I have failed a lot of those “New Year – New You” challenges in the past. I didn’t want to fall victim to it again this year! I bought myself the Moleskine Passion Wellness Journal because I am a Moleskine addict. I have bought many journals in the past, but nothing really compares to the quality that Moleskine delivers.

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The notebook offers a handful of helpful sections to keep you on track.

  • Daily calendar to note special events/appointments
  • World map with different time zones
  • Measures & Conversions
  • International sizing for BOTH men and women
  • Wellness Planning
  • Monthly Goals
  • Food Calendar (Northern/Southern Hemisphere) – illustrates seasonal fruits and vegetables
  • Caloric Food Facts of common food
  • Blank portion for Caloric Food Facts you may consume
  • Weekly (Monday-Sunday) Food Journal with time, exercises, diet, daily notes, and words of the week
  • Body Therapy
  • Vitamins/Herbs/Others
  • A blank tabbed note section for your own customization

So far, I have kept this journal going for almost 3 solid months. I am not a nutritionist or a fitness trainer, but your every day kind of gal. I knew writing down a food diary would make me aware of my bad habits. According to a study from Kaiser Permanente, food diaries/journals doubles a person’s weight loss. While that’s not the main goal of my food journal, I wanted to be observant of my habits. Slowly but surely I am shifting my diet to include more natural whole foods and mixing up my exercise routines to be more effective.