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Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time

So it’s been quite a while since I last posted…and by quite a while I mean a long ass time. About three times as long as my usual breaks from the blogging world. And I can’t really give a good reason for any of this.
Sure, I’ve been taking 5 engineering technicals this semester (which is to be my most demanding semester of all my time at Cal), but that’s not even it. Let’s recap what I’ve done over the last 4-5 months: I started and finished a fulfilling, but extremely draining job as a tutor; I entered and exited a short-lived, yet somehow excessively emotionally-tolling relationship; I saw Michael Moore and Johnny Depp in the flesh (thanks SUPERB!); I took 10 midterms and turned in around 50 problem sets (more, I guess, if you count those summer classes); and I got into a health kick.

All that other stuff aside, that last item on the list is the most important to me right now. It’s what’s kept me sane through what I can confidently call my most tumultuous (though not necessarily worst) 4-5 months in recent memory. Usually bad stuff hits me all at once (as my friend Nicole can attest to), but this was more like a rolling wave of negativity. And yet, it hasn’t felt ALL that bad.

When I say health kick, this is what I mean: an average of 2 hours of exercise every day (which includes at least an hour of swimming and then another hour of physical therapy/core training), waking up early even when I have late classes (often to go swimming), and eating well.

I used to think, and I guess to some extent still think that eating well meant making food from scratch every day and that was about it. While I still realize this as a very important aspect of eating well, I’ve realized some other things, one of them about portion control. I’ve always been a HUGE eater. I may not look it to some, and I often challenge those who doubt me (although I don’t know if I could back up my claims as much these days) . I credit this to the fact that I’m the youngest of 3 kids who grew up in a family who ate all their meals self-serve family style. I always felt this subconscious (or maybe more conscious than I’m willing to openly admit) drive to beat my brother and sister to the food, to fill up as much as possible.

Or maybe it was just being raised in a Chinese family.

Ya. That’s probably it.

But back to the point–I realized that all of that is super unnecessary and though I wasn’t overweight or anything like that, I began reducing my portion sizes and actually began calorie counting for a while. It’s a really big wake up call to be mindful of what you’re putting into your body at all times.

Instead of 2 eggs in the morning with toast, I’ll now eat one egg with a 50 calorie high fiber tortilla and spinach. It still tastes great (to me, at least), and I feel decently satiated. Which is just what I want to feel nowadays. For lunch, either a small portion of leftover dinner from the night before, or another tortilla with some lunch meat and a few chips. Dinner? That’s where this post comes in: seasonal veggies (more than I was already using pre-health kick) like butternut squash and lots of brown rice.

Tonight, I ventured to make my first butternut squash dish–a simple fettucine with browned butter, sage, broccoli, and butternut squash. Oh! And freshly shaved parmesan. MMmm. Some recipes recommend adding pine nuts, but I’ve never been too big a fan of those.

It came out deliciously and now I’m excited about my lunch tomorrow! I’m also planning on making butternut squash risotto for Brandt’s Thanksgiving feast on Sunday with some of the leftover squash. Woo!

I don’t want anyone to freak out or take this whole health thing the wrong way–I still eat out on occasion (I like to try to limit it to once or twice a week now, if at all) and I even went to Bakesale Betty today for lunch, devouring a fried chicken sandwich and got a cookie to boot! So there.

If anything, eating this way makes me appreciate those splurges even more.

All this diet monitoring combined with the increase in exercise has led me to be in the best shape of my life. Or at least the last 5 years (since my stupid ankle injury in high school). I may not be at my lightest necessarily, but every muscle in my body feels toned and happy right now, which is more than I could say even when I was running 5 miles/day. Thank god for swimming, eh?

But like I said, I’m going to stick to this for as long as possible (even with Thanksgiving barreling closer to me with every passing hour) because despite my ups and downs, I’ve felt great recently.  There are also a lot of other things that have been going on in the world around me (hello? I’m in Berkeley, remember? Read the news lately?) that have made me realize just how lucky I am, and how great my life is.

Maybe all those self help books and websites that tell you peace comes from within are right? I know it sounds cheesey but it’s the best way I can describe my life at the moment. I’m happy with myself and that’s all I need for now.

Also, butternut squash is awesome.


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