Woman Crush Wednesday: My Baby Sister, Lovely

Woman Crush Wednesday: My Baby Sister, Lovely

Almost everyone who knows me, knows I have a baby sister. She’s 12 years old and she came into my life when I was 15 years old. I remember reading my moms pregnancy test to her telling her she was pregnant…I was so excited. My mom was well she was close to 40 with two teenage kids…she was worried and not sure what to expect.

Lovely ended up being THE best blessing to our family. Not too long after Lovely was born, we lost my dad to Cirrhosis. Her existence gave my mom so much purpose to continue on. Yes my brother and I were too but there’s something about a toddler that kept our life so busy that we honestly didn’t have time to be so sad.

After losing my dad, my mom become the head of our household, which means she was working 6-7 days a week. This meant that A LOT of the responsibility of raising Lovely fell on me. Although, there was a time that I felt so much resentment towards my family and her because of this…I quickly realize what a blessing she was to me.

Lovely allowed me to step into a mother role at a young age. It was hard. So hard to be a teenager and raise a kid. So I have so much respect for teenage moms. I missed out a lot of my teenage years because I was really mothering a child. But let me tell you, I wouldn’t trade it for the world because of my special bond with my sister. We’re literally two peas in a pod and if I hadn’t been forced to mother her, I don’t think we would have been this close.

She’s my best friend, my daughter, my shopping partner, my therapist, my dog sitter so I can nap, she cleans my house for me, she’s my favorite person in the whole world, and literally my world. I feel more connected to her than any human I know because it’s almost as if she’s my kid. I gotta protect her always. She’s been on dates with me. She’s been to friend gatherings with me. She’s been to so many places and been with me through so much that she’s my person.

Funny story, when she was about 4 or 5, she would always call me mom in public or cry when guys try talking to me. Yup, she was a little c-blocker then.

Although these days she’s a sassy teenager, she still remains my baby. Every time I look at her, I beam with pride because of the person she’s grown up to be. I soooo pat myself on the back a lot let me tell you lol. She’s so smart, so goal driven, has so much integrity, she’s kind, she’s compassionate, she doesn’t give a crap about what people think…she’s so unapologetically and authentically herself that I’m just like yaaaass queen (she loved this phrase)!!! I didn’t screw her up lol. Gah, I love her so much!

Lovely, if you’re reading this, which you totally are because you’re a nosy little sister, I just want you to know you’re the best sister/daughter ever lol. You make my world better just being in it. You help me out so much, more than you know. I hope you continue to grow into a strong, courageous and kind human being. I hope you use your voice for the right reasons. I hope you never ever let someone walk all over you which I doubt because you have so much self respect. I hope one day you won’t judge me for wearing a body suit. I also hope you own one someday because you realize it does keep your shirt tucked in the whole time. But overall, I hope you know I am always here for you and I’m always going to love you even when I’m being mean to you❤️❤️❤️

Falling Back in Bad Patterns…Or NOT

So tonight I got a little pissy with myself because the last few days, I slipped up on my 100 days of clean eating challenge. I’m not proud of it. But I will have to say I am very proud of how I’ve been able to portion control the amount of unhealthy food I consume and not spiral completely. I’m still alcohol free…almost 20 days strong 💪🏽 I’ve definitely cut back my sugar consumption to 20%…amazing! I don’t even miss the sweets or the junk. Where I struggle a bit is the carbs. But I’ve cut back on that down to 40% instead of 80% carbs. I barely eat dairy anymore. It’s like down to 10-% and the only reason I give it 10% is because of the last couple days.

I’m learning to pick healthier options at restaurant. I’m finding new ways to curb my sweets craving…or fruits or all fruit bars or drinking a ton of water. So far, I’m doing good. It’s not perfect like I wanted but I had to remind myself this is a lifestyle shift not a quest for perfection. A friend of mine who’s been super supportive during this transition continues to remind me to focus on the baby steps. I have a tendency to go from 0 to 100 with things and that’s why I fail miserably with my diet. But shifting my focus to baby steps has been so beneficial.

So tonight, after consuming more carbs than I should of, I noticed how I felt…my body felt sluggish, I’m super bloated, I overstuffed myself and now I feel gross. Apart of me feels like I’m back to square one with this challenge thing or that I failed. But the other part of me was like no, I didn’t. Before i would eat and eat and eat, but this time i stopped and evaluated how what this meal did to me. I’m consciously aware of the effects of this meal. Next time, I can still enjoy this meal but I’ll probably eat waaaay less so I don’t feel sick.

Anyways, I had to share this experience because I know how hard it is to eat clean and how sometimes one set back can make you feel as though all your efforts are wasted. Just keep trucking along you guys. One meal at a time. Even if it’s one meal a day that you eat healthy, it counts. One day one meal becomes two then it becomes three. It’s a long journey so be patient, be kind with yourself and don’t quit! Because I sure as heck am going to dust myself off and start again tomorrow ❤️

How Kaia Fit Made Me A Stronger & Better Woman

How Kaia Fit Made Me A Stronger & Better Woman

I joined Kaia back in October 2017. It was strongly recommended by my college Professor who is a Kaia girl herself. I was really nervous about joining a new gym because well, it’s terrifying and the thought of starting at an all girls gym, made it even ten times more terrifying. I never got along well with girls. In fact, I usually avoided female friends because of all the drama that came with it. I have always been a tomboy so I never quite felt like I fit in with the girls I knew.

Anyways, first day of my trial happened to be on the first day of HELL WEEK. I showed up & the coaching leading the work out was in head to toe camo. Not going to lie, I seriously was like what the heck is this place…The workout was extremely challenging. I seriously thought I was going to be fine because when I scanned the room, the women in the room were a bit older than me so I figured, I would out perform them. Boy was I wrong. I remember at one point, I just sat there and thought to myself, I don’t know if I want to come back tomorrow. These women are so strong and I underestimated them. There I went comparing myself again which I shouldn’t have because it was my first day. Chillax, I’d catch up! After finishing my workout, a very sweet lady, Diana, told me she will see me tomorrow…not hopes to see me tomorrow, but she will see me tomorrow. Coach Johna walked me out the door and also told me to come back tomorrow, it will hurt but it will hurt less after the workout when I break up the lactic acid in my muscle. So I listened, and I showed up the next day and the next and so forth…then somehow became Kaia Queen & a proud Kaia girl. I also started making a ton of friends, who were woman, who were super supportive, and oh my god, I have girlfriends now, LOTS OF THEM…WHO AM I?!

Kaia became more than a gym for me. It became like a second home to me. I showed up every morning at 6am, crushed my workout and then felt like I accomplished something so big before my workday even started. It felt amazing. For the first time in my life, I was befriending a lot of females. But the strange thing was, they were not your normal girlfriends. These women were some of the kindest, strongest, motivating, and funny women I have ever been around. I never got to experience a woman cheering me on and mean it. I never had a woman get down on the floor with me and help me finish my workout even though she was finished with hers. I never had someone come back for me on a run because of the “no Kaia girl left behind” motto. I felt like I was apart of a community, a sisterhood, and most importantly, I finally had a place where I belonged. So how did Kaia change my life? Well there are a few amazing ways but I will start with a few…

  • For once in my life, I did not find myself comparing myself to other women. I was being fully loved and appreciated for what size shoe, bra, pants, shirt I wore. I was rewired to believe that skinny isn’t sexy, strong is the new sexy. And when the Kaia girls talk about being strong, oh they mean it. Tire flipping strong.
  • I quickly learned that there are enough mean girls in the world. Instead of being jealous of each other or watching people fail, it’s so much more fun cheering people on and helping them accomplish their goals. I have never clapped and cheer louder for another woman til I came to Kaia. I learned how to be happy for someone without being jealous of them. It’s their moment to shine, I’ll have my moment another time. It’s okay to be genuinely, whole heartedly happy for another person’s success & accomplishments.
  • I found myself checking things off my bucket list because of Kaia. If you are lucky enough to have a couple pushy friends in your life, friends who push you in the right direction, hold them close. I remember I mentioned to one of the coaches that I have always wanted to run a half marathon but I didn’t think I could. Welp, sure enough, she put me in my place and asked me why the heck not? She pushed and pushed til I signed up for the Shamrock Half Marathon. Signing up was half of the battle. The training was the other half. Came race day, I finished & was able to check it of my bucket list all because I told Coach Heather, I wanted to run a half a marathon. Note to self: Don’t share your goals with Heather unless you plan on doing it ASAP LOL. I now know, anything is possible if you have the best cheerleaders on your side and of course, you set your mind to it.
  • I gained a sisterhood. I made some of the best-est friendships in my life from Kaia. I leaned on these women more than I expected the last two years. They were there for the good times, the bad and even the roughest of days. But their love for me was unconditional and I will forever be grateful for that. They mean it when they say “No Kaia girl left behind”...whether it be in the gym or outside of the gym…they were always going to be there. This was a motto I took on to support other woman and relationships in my life as well.
  • I learned how to have a better appreciation for my body. I valued my body and what it could do for me. Every time I felt insecure, I workout because feeling strong makes me feel confident!

These are just some of the ways I’ve grown as a person and woman with my time at Kaia. Although, I’ve been on a break, (a legit one, not the kind ROSS & Rachel were on), I still manage to practice these life lessons from Kaia. I even brought the energy to jiu jitsu. Right now, the big question is when do I plan on returning to Kaia and if I’m being honest, I don’t know. I truly believe everything in life happens for a reason, season or a lifetime. Kaia may have just been a season & reason in my life, but the friendships I’ve made will be a lifetime…well we will see about that lol. Check back in 10 years to see who is still around 😉 I do miss the people, sometimes the workout, but most the safe space to love my body. Overall, I love Kaia and will always be a Kaia girl because once a queen, always a queen.

If you haven’t tried Kaia Fit or if you’re curious, I strongly recommend giving it a try. It’s a truly magical place with beautiful, kind human beings that will change your life for the better. There are so many Kaia Fits in the Sacramento area. If you’re in Elk Grove, give it a try! Best coaches in the world I promise!

Woman Crush Wednesday: Nichole P.

Woman Crush Wednesday: Nichole P.

This week’s woman crush Wednesday is the beautiful, talented, super mom, kind, funny, thoughtful Nichole P.

I met Nichole in high school. We were never friends, more like we had mutual friends. We lived on the same street. She had those ugly palm trees surrounding her house but she had the nice pool so whatever. We never became friends then. Although she was a grade below me, I found her to be quite intimidating. She was super beautiful, stylish and sometimes, she did have a case of the rest bitch face. Sorry babe, it happens to the best of us lol. But nonetheless, I adored her bright blue eyes and found her to be one of the prettiest girls in school.

Nichole and I connected again almost two years ago when I asked her to be my make up artist for my wedding. I saw that she was pursuing her passion for make up and I loved all the looks she created. Plus, I was big on giving my business to small business owners especially if I know them, so I hired Nichole.

Not going to lie, I was nervous about my first one on one interaction with Nichole. I had all these preconceived notions of who she is and let me tell you, she was so far from it. The day of my trial she showed up with all her make up. Within minutes, we both got to talking and I quickly realized what an amazing person she is and how I wish I had gotten to know her sooner. We connected on various levels and especially, given how close she was to poking my eyeballs out, I had to develop some sort of trust with her lol.

I have so much respect for Nichole. She got married and become a mom at a young age. She made it look so easy via social media but I quickly learned that she was human too and she was dealing with normal issues that all moms and wives deal with. But she does it with such grace! I adore her beautiful babies. She makes cute babies with her hubby! She should consider selling them jk jk. I mean look at this photo below…doesn’t it just make your heart smile?

I adore her taste in home decor, big heart, gentle spirit, and a thousand more things about her. I just adore Nichole.

Nichole, if you are reading this…I want you to know and realize what an amazing woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend you are! You are one of the nicest human beings I know. I have so much respect for you as a woman. I love seeing you blossom into this amazing person. I know there will be lots of challenges in life but I hope these challenges will encourage you to look back at the beautiful little family you created for yourself and find joy & peace in them. Your children are very lucky to have you as a mom. You are so patient and they will grow up always looking like models in their photos thanks to you. You are this amazing person to the everyone in your life. You always put them first, which is normal because of the generous & loving person you are. I hope you will continue to find time for yourself – to love yourself, be kind to yourself, celebrate yourself and more. Continue to be the amazing person you are and please know, you are doing a great job! I see it, I believe it and I know it.

Day 10 out of 100 Update

So I’ve been a bit MIA lately because of course, after a week on steroids for my rash, I caught a cold. So I took a lot of time off to rest. But thankfully, I am finally on the mend!

I am officially on Day 10 out of 100. Let me tell you, being sick and not being able to eat pho was a bit of torture. However, I did find new ways to make a healthy & hearty soup without the noodles. Thank goodness for pinterest & instagram hashtag search. So how am I doing?

Well, I feel pretty amazing I must say. I am not bloated anymore so now I can actually see what my real body looks like. I am eating more than I normally do but my meals consist of 70% veggies and 30% meat. I am loving all the new recipes I get to try. However, the annoying party is building a pantry of healthy ingredients. My skin is clear and I want to believe there’s a glow to it lol. Overall, I just feel so much better and it’s amazing what the right foods can do for your body.

During the last 10 days, I did have two exception meals. One meal was a date night with my husband. We went to sushi and I had to make some modifications to my food selection. Instead of rolls, I went for handrolls without the rice. I also order just the raw fish and veggies instead. I still got my fix without consuming too much of the process junk I am avoiding. I also had breakfast with my cousin at a brunch place. I won’t lie, it’s a bit harder to order food when I go out. But I just allowed myself smaller portions of what I was eating. I had a 1/4 of a waffle & half a biscuit. Although it’s not 100% clean eating for that meal…the rest of the day, I can eat clean & all my efforts won’t be wasted. I have to remind myself, one meal isn’t going to throw myself off the rail. In fact, one meal here and there is what is going to make this new goal of mine a lifestyle.

As for the scale, I’ve been dying to weigh myself but trying my best not to because I am trying to not make this about weight but about health. Seeing numbers on the scale will immediate make me feel like I’m on a diet & I’m depriving myself of things. So no scale. I want to remind myself that I am eating this way because I want to take better care of my health not look good in a bikini. Plus who wears a bikini in November…weirdooooo…jk.

So here’s a list of things I can’t live without right now…I hope this helps you kickstart your reset as well!

  • I substitute soy sauce for coconut aminos. Trader Joe’s has a good option for 2.99.
  • I also use the coconut aminos to make my own teriyaki sauce. If you take two cups of coconut aminos, 2 cups of fresh pineapple, 3 cloves of garlic & one 1/2 inch piece of ginger and blend it together, then you reduce it over the stove, you will have yourself a delicious teriyaki sauce. I love this sauce over my chicken thighs/breast that I cook on my George foreman grill & steamed veggies
  • Trader Joe’s also has these delicious all fruit bars for 99 cent. I highly recommend them. Super yummy & it will kick those sweet cravings to the curb.
  • Speaking of sweets…I also love taking a pear, drizzling it with some clarified butter & cinnamon, then microwaving it for 2 mins to create a yummy fruit dessert.
  • I also can’t live without sparkling water. Waterloo is the best brand out there in my opinion…move over La Croix!
  • I’ve also made a yummy Monogolian Beef Stir Fry. You can follow the recipe here.

I am feeling really amazing & can’t wait to see what the next 10 days bring! I’ll update you more in the next 10 days.

Today I am grateful for pears. I love love love them as a sweet treat. It’s a guilty free treat.

Woman Crush Wednesday: Karri H.

Woman Crush Wednesday: Karri H.

Today’s Woman Crush Wednesday is my best friend Karri who is also celebrating her 28th Birthday 🎂

I met Karri in college. We took similar classes and had similar friends but never really talked because well she was too busy being someone else’s partner for a project. But I knew Karri and I would ultimately be friends someday because on any given day, no matter how cold, she would still wear flip flops to school. This whole time I thought I was the only one until I met Karri!

After a serious cat fight, so kidding, I manage to get Karri as my partner in all three class projects. This was awesome because we had the best working relationship ever. We got everything done before it was due and her strengths complimented my weakness and vice versa. Even outside of class, we managed to get along so well in all areas. She also had a really cute niece that just stole my heart as soon as I saw her photo.

Over the years, Karri continues to be my ride or die friend. Although we never get to see each other because she’s always so busy or I am, we never fail to be there for each other. This would mean a 7am phone call on the way to work or a 5:30pm call on the way home from work. We always made it work. I also loved that no matter how much time we go without seeing each other, we always pick right up where we left off.

Karri is one of the seriously nicest human beings I know. She is the friend that will drop everything and show up for you when you need her. I’m pretty sure I planned my entire wedding with her LOL sorry Eph. I also cannot imagine sharing my first floor seat concert event with anyone else seeing the one & only, Thomas Rhett.

Here are 1/10 of the reasons why I love Karri oh so much!

  • Karri is incredibly patient. Like so freaking patient. Her patience can make her a saint. I have no idea how she is this patient but she really is.
  • Her mom Cindy is soooooooo beautiful (yes, totally kissing Cindy’s butt here). But in all seriousness, Karri has an amazing mom & it shows in the person Karri is
  • Karri is super artsy fartsy even though she will deny it. She has this can do attitude when you present her with a challenge and she will always figure out how to do something..always…probably because of how patient she is
  • Karri is such an amazing aunt to her niece and nephews. I love how much she adores them. You would think they were her kids if you listen to her talk about them. Those kids are so lucky to have their Auntie Karri.
  • Karri is really really really really smart. Like intelligent smart. Like so smart, sometimes I ‘m just like hold up, let me look up this word.
  • Karri will do anything for a friend. I think I mentioned that above but let me tell you a story. We were in Catalina Island for my bachelorette. It was 2:30am and we were leaving a club. I saw a donut shop & wanted a donut so bad. Karri ran over to the donut shop & banged on the door to get the ladies attention so I could get my donut. Although it was a failed attempt, man that was some serious loyalty.
  • Karri is like the mama bear of our group of friends. She’s always the responsible one and it was really nice for me to have a friend like this because I was always the mama bear too. She is always looking out for us and always has our best interest at heart.

These are just some of the many thousand reasons why I love Karri. I would go into it a bit more but I am sick as a dog right now and would make zero sense.

Karri, if you are reading, because you better be, because what best friend wouldn’t support her friend’s uncomfortable blogging expose journey LOL…HAPPIEST OF BIRTHDAYS TO YOU!!! I love you so much and I can’t imagine the rest of my life without you because there is no one else in the world I would get on the phone with at 7am to talk to about anything and everything!!! You are so beautiful inside out. Your heart is so big that sometimes I want you to stop sharing it because I selfishly want you to fill it with more of you than others. You make my life so much better just by being in it. I am so glad you decided to go to Sac State and I am also so glad you didn’t die in that horrible car accident. My life would seriously suck without you. I am also glad you like to eat food as much as I do. I am also so glad you let me embarrass you at Yard House last year for your birthday when I got the waiter to sing to you LOL. I have a video to prove it!

Today I am a grateful for this friendship with Karri. A good friend is hard to find these days and I am just glad I can always count on her for the truth.

Why I Am Giving Up Alcohol…

No I’m not pregnant.

Alcoholism runs in my family…like deep in our blood lines. Like so much so that I don’t recall a family gathering that doesn’t involve alcohol. Being Vietnamese means that when there is a family get together, you know there is going to be some sort of booze. You can always guarantee that there will be Heineken and/or Budweiser at every gathering. If it’s a wedding or a special occasion, there will be Hennessy or Remy Martin. And if it’s a wedding, best believe it is going to be a poop show because we are there to draaaaaaaaaaaaank!

I’m pretty sure I was not even 10 yet before I had my first sip of alcohol. This is pretty common for kids who grow up in my culture. Drinking is such a big part of the Vietnamese culture that often times, alcoholism never comes up because its within us to drink. You walk into a party & your third cousin, twice removed will greet you with a shot. You’re at a wedding and see a distant relative and they will grab your arm & pull you to their table for a shot. You sit down for a meal with them and they will hand you a drink. You’re having a good day? Drink up. You’re having a bad day? Drink up. You’re anti-social? Drink up. You’re poor? Drink up. You just got cancer? Let’s drink. There is always a reason to drink…and for the longest time, I was always up for a drink, two drinks, three drinks, four, five, six, seven, and so forth.

But these days, I am no longer up for a drink.

I will sit with you while you drink. I will drive you home when you drink. I will engage in all the silly drinking games. I will dance. I will tell jokes. I will do everything I use to do but I won’t drink anymore…or at least for the next 100 days. And here’s why…

Alcohol was one of the things I used to cope with my depression & anxiety. Alcohol didn’t help me with my depression; instead it made me fall deeper into it. Blacking out drunk was easier than feeling my feelings. Drinking also gave me an excuse to behave a certain way or say certain things…liquid courage they call it. Drinking also ensured I never had to sit through awkward conversations because I didn’t have to be fully present for them. Drinking made me feel fun and alive. But of course, it was temporary & comes with a terrible headache the next few days. As I’ve been in therapy, I have come to the realize that I have an addictive personality and tendencies. My addiction reveals itself in other ways…I’ve come to realize, you don’t need to drink every day, all day to be consider an alcoholic. In fact, a binge drinker can also be an alcoholic. That was were I fell…I was a binge drinker. Knowing of this problem, I wanted to do something about it immediately. So I would try to go days without drinking but then a friend would invite me out and I binge drink. Then I won’t drink for awhile, then I binge drank again. When I was drinking, I was living out my addictive tendencies in other ways…shopping, eating (this was a huge issues), and over training to feed into my addictive ways. So again, I would try to quit & fail, then try again, then fail…

But what really did it for me was last week when I was in therapy…

I was revisiting some childhood memories and so much of my childhood memories was my dad being drunk. My dad was an alcoholic. And to no one’s surprise, he died because of cirrhosis, a late stage disease that is linked to alcoholism. All of which could of been prevented had he spent less time drinking and more time dealing with his demons. Looking back, it saddens me to not recall many family memories that involved family time without the presence of alcohol. Someone was always drunk. We always had family or friends over. They would drink. The kids would play (unsupervised), and then someone would have too much to drink and fights would break out. Growing up, this was fine. This was normal. This was how it was and how it was always going to be. It’s our culture.

But what if it didn’t have to be?

If my dad hadn’t been too busy drinking and actually watching us like he was suppose to, maybe the most horrifying event in my life wouldn’t have happened? I mean it wouldn’t have because all the children would have been supervised and all the safety precautions would have been there to ensure it didn’t happen. I was angry after realizing this. The negligence that comes with drinking and how it effects those around us made me never want to drink again. Because I realize, I was an unintentional victim of his drinking. And when I drink, there are unintentional victims of my drinking. OH MY GOD. MY BABY SISTER?

It got me thinking about my baby sister. How many of our family holiday gatherings involved drinking when all she wanted to do was play board games with us and talk to us. Yes talk to us. Can you imagine a sober conversation? Whoa, brave girl she is right? But in all seriousness, we can’t even stand ourselves sober so we drink but when we do drink, we are the most annoying versions of ourselves. So why do we continue to do so?

I also started thinking about the last few gatherings I had with my family over the years. A drunken shit show. Even my wedding. Everyone was drunk. Some relatives didn’t even make it to my first dance because they were so drunk. I didn’t even get the chance to thank some individuals because they were too drunk. My husband was drunk. I was drunk. Our friends were drunk. Drunken mess. All of us.

I don’t like who I become when I drink. I don’t like how sad I get. I don’t like how it can sometimes trigger suicidal thoughts. I don’t like how it makes me angry. I don’t like how I think I can dance. I don’t like any of it. So I decided I won’t want to be that person anymore.

Instead, I want to be sober. I want to be present. I want to address my issues head on. Have those difficult conversations. Be confrontational & be sober when I am confrontational. I want to get to know people as Ngoc instead of drunk Ngoc. I don’t want drunk photos or videos of myself out there. I also want to break a cycle for the next generation in my family to know that there is life, love, fun and good conversations without alcohol. We are capable of being ourselves without it and we should continue to be without it. Now I’m not here to shame you if you choose to drink. That is totally your choice. I will drive your drunk ass home. I will hold your hair when you puke. I will give you Advil before you go to bed and give you pedialyte. But what I will not do for awhile is drink with you. Because I love & respect you enough to give you all of my attention & my true self. Most importantly, I have a little girl watching me and I want to practice what I preach to her.

I’m also not saying I will never ever ever ever ever drink again. Because I am certain I will. I’m just saying that the next time I do have a drink, it’s going to be something I think carefully about and I will make sure I don’t over do it…for my health, my actual self, and the young set of eyes watching me.

The part that I am most excited for is all the money I will be saving haha!

Today I am grateful for the friends in my life that enjoy a good ole sober conversation and can have a good time without the booze! If your friend needs alcohol to be interesting, I think it’s time for you to find new friends…you’ve outgrown them! And that is perfectly okay!