Hello Everyone!

Welcome to my LoveToBeInLove4ever blog!  I decided to blog about LOVE because we all have love interests — whether they be people, our pets, our obsessions with fashion, food, travel, health, our bodies, politics, etc.  This forum gives us all an opportunity to express about the things we love and to find people with similar love interests.

Tell me….who or what are you in love with.

I look forward to hearing your love stories. ❤

My Beloved

My Beloved….

  • makes me laugh and cry happy tears
  • is honest, transparent and not afraid of the truth
  • respects me in words, thoughts and actions
  • elevates me spiritually, mentally, psychologically and physically
  • enlightens me and inspires me on all levels
  • pushes me to go beyond that which I’ve only dreamed of
  • supports me on all levels
  • tolerates and loves me despite my imperfect ways
  • forgives and is compassionate and understanding
  • is generous and giving and doesn’t take advantage of others
  • is trustworthy
  • can say “I’m sorry” and do the right thing
  • is spontaneous
  • wants to spend time with me
  • gives me attention
  • makes me feel beautiful
  • is thankful for all of his many blessings
  • loves and honors God
  • loves and respects his family and friends
  • loves and respects my family and friends
  • is humble
  • is wise
  • is courageous
  • is not afraid to take risks
  • sees the bigger picture
  • motivates me to be better
  • is successful and hard working
  • respects my opinions, my thoughts, my body, my experiences
  • is unselfish
  • loves to eat and try new foods
  • keeps himself in good shape
  • pulls me close and never wants to let go
  • wants to be my partner for life
  • knows how to maintain balance
  • has discipline and self control
  • is my best friend
  • confides in me and I confide in him
  • isn’t distracted by what everyone else thinks but thinks for himself
  • spoils me
  • likes to go shopping with me
  • isn’t afraid to make mistakes
  • learns from his mistakes
  • is a kind and patient teacher
  • is open to learning
  • will be a good husband
  • will be a good father
  • is a good provider
  • is traditional
  • is a man who is not easily frustrated
  • is attentive
  • is genuine
  • is authentic
  • is a leader and not a follower
  • is always learning
  • freely speaks his mind
  • is his word
  • doesn’t make me second guess my decisions, supports me in my decisions, as well as the consequences of those decisions
  • doesn’t instill in me unnecessary fear and doubt
  • makes me feel secure
  • calms my fears
  • reassures me of his love and devotion
  • is charitable
  • is happy
  • manages stress well
  • is uplifting
  • is confident
  • wants to take care of me
  • brings me home to meet the family
  • sticks up for me
  • likes to go on adventures with me
  • is imperfect but strives to do his best
  • with whom I feel a soul connection

I Am My Beloved’s, My Beloved is Mine

Dearly Beloved:

From the moment we meet, I will know that I am yours and you are mine.  It will be so clear to us.

My love will be devoted completely and forever to you.  My trust in your hands.  I will never look or have a thought for another.  And I will hold our love in utmost sacredness and faith.

I will be aware of the imperfections — of yours, of mine, and of ours.  We are human.  We all make mistakes.

I believe.

I will not be able to deny the connection of our souls – we are as one.

Your heart will speak to mine and mine to yours.  Our minds will be able to read each other’s.

We once made soul agreements with one another in a past life — so when we meet again, we will recognize the truth and love that we once shared and could now renew in this life.  We will be reconnected in this life and reconnected soon.

God placed us in each other’s paths for a significant purpose — not for our connection to be temporary but to be eternal.  For good.  Not bad.

Not a day will go by that I don’t stop loving you.

Not a day will go by that I don’t pray for you.

I pray through God’s grace, love and powers, He will align our paths and bring us to a positive place of pure love, of trust, of forgiveness and faith.  And we will walk this path together and it will go on forever.

And I pray that God will seal and protect our love from evil forces that may seek to destroy what is pure and good between us forever.

May we be able to attain the sweetest essence of fulfillment together in love — to bring about children and future prosperity who are healthy, happy, righteous and God-loving.

God is great.  God is just.  God is real.  God is love.

May the good prevail and the evil be defeated.

May we be strong and use this energy for good purposes always.

May we strive to be Gods ourselves one day.

This is my prayer, My Beloved.

I am my Beloved’s.  My Beloved is Mine.

Thank you God.

Amen

Give Yourself a LOVE Makeover

I think it’s safe to say we all go through times in our life when we feel down in the dumps physically, mentally, psychologically and emotionally. I know I do.  So it’s during those times that we need to love ourselves most.  And I suggest giving ourselves a love makeover!

The makeover shows on television inspire me.  I love watching men and women go through some form of transformation because, the reality is, change is possible!  My favorite part is watching the people come out on stage, their faces glowing, their countenances radiating as they proudly show off their “after” look.

Just this past weekend, I had the honor of witnessing the real life makeover of a friend.  For the sake of anonymity, we’ll call her Faye.  Faye is in her early fifties, a successful career woman, strong, outspoken, kind, easy going, sensitive, a selfless human being, and a caregiver.

Recently, Faye’s been experiencing increased anxiety, depression and feelings of defeat.  With all that’s been going on in her life, she’s been battling a loss of control over her emotions, her physical body and her mental state.  Sound familiar?  I think most of us can relate.

So my saint of a friend, Maria, suggested we take Faye to a spa so she could beautify herself.  It turned out to be a wonderful idea.  Faye walked into the spa looking weathered, unsure of herself, and scared.  After  she got her hair cut, colored, blow-dried and styled, and had some light makeup applied,  Faye was a whole new woman.  She now walked and talked with confidence, smiled bigger and no longer shied away from cameras.  Faye exclaimed, “This is exactly what I needed!”  Faye gave herself a love makeover that day.

A few weeks ago, I finished reading Dr. Gary Chapman’s #1 New York Times bestseller, “The 5 Love Languages.”  It is a fantastic read and I highly recommend it.  Although the target audience for Dr. Chapman’s book is married couples, I feel even single people and unmarried couples can learn a great deal from his message.

Dr. Chapman explains that love is spoken in 5 languages: (1) Words of Affirmation  (2) Quality Time  (3) Acts of Service  (4) Gifts  and (5) Physical Touch.  Dr. Chapman explains that when couples first begin a relationship, the love euphoria is so great it is capable of translating love gibberish.  But once that love euphoria starts to wear off (commonly referred to as the end of the “honeymoon phase,” and usually lasts two years into a relationship), people’s love languages start to become more defined and articulate.

If individuals are not aware of  their own love language(s) and if couples are not aware of each other’s love language(s), a disconnect forms.  As if speaking in tongues, it becomes hard to communicate love with our partner, family members, friends and coworkers.  Frustration starts to escalate, disappointment creeps in, and we begin to grow more distant from others.  But once we identify the way in which we speak love and how our loved ones speak love — usually not in the same love language — our relationship between ourselves and with others becomes better understood and we can fall in love more deeply.  If you read The 5 Love Languages, it’ll make a lot more sense.  I rate it 5 stars!

Today my focus is to get you to love yourself in all five love languages, to give yourself the ultimate self-love makeover!

1) Words of Affirmation:  Write down 10-20 things that you love about yourself and say them out loud to yourself every day over the next week.

2) Quality Time: Carve out 30-60 minutes every day to do something you really enjoy doing (eg. reading, painting, running, doing yoga, cooking, etc).  Do this for yourself in week two.

3) Acts of Service: In week three, do something nice for yourself each day.  For example, prepare yourself a cup of tea, make your bed in the morning if you like coming home to a made bed, write yourself a nice note before you go to bed, etc.  Perform an act for yourself that normally a loved one would do for you.

4)  Gifts: This may be financially difficult for some of you, but I suggest you love yourself within your means and budget.  Buy something nice for yourself in week four — something you really had your eye on but just couldn’t bring yourself to buy because you thought you were being too selfish — or just something that would make you happy.  Treat yourself to a gift.  You deserve it!

5) Physical Touch:  Relaxation takes place in week five.  Take care of your physical needs.  Every day in this final week of your love makeover, do something nice for your body — preferably something that involves physical touch.  Some ideas might include: getting a body massage, treating yourself to a facial, massaging yourself, doing your hair, washing your hair twice in a day, wearing makeup, giving yourself a bubble bath, exercising, doing yoga or even something as simple as closing your eyes and taking a nap.

I hope that by the end of your five-week love makeover you feel more love for yourself because you deserve to be loved.  And if you can, discover which love language you speak most fluently.  The goal is to be aware of it yourself so that you can then communicate this to your loved ones so they will better understand how you speak love.

In Dr. Chapman’s words, the goal is to keep our “LOVE TANKS FULL.”  XOXO

Perfecting Love in Our Relationships

Is it the happily ever after endings in fairy tale stories and romance movies which puts us on the quest for “perfect love”?  And what happens after we realize that perfect love doesn’t exist with the person who is the target of our affection?  What are our choices?  I see three main solutions to this dilemma: (1) We can walk away from our relationship with this person.  (2) We can settle for “what is” in this imperfect relationship because in reality nobody and nothing is ever truly perfect.  Or (3) we can attempt to perfect the love in our relationships because we recognize that love is dynamic, ever evolving, and malleable.

I’m quite familiar with these three choices because when, on my quest for “perfect” love, I came face to face with imperfect love and had to make that difficult decision.

I’ve walked away from imperfect love — sometimes you just have to for your safety, security and sanity.

I’ve settled, temporarily, for imperfect love — settling, I feel, usually comes to a dead end for most relationships, as unresolved issues do not disappear.

But what has had the greatest impact on me, what has enriched my understanding and growth most significantly, was when I made the choice to perfect the imperfection in my relationships, being fully aware that it would never really be perfect.

I think the latter choice is the most difficult because it is the path filled with the most unknowns, and can be an uphill battle.  Will we be rewarded for sacrificing our time and energy to perfect imperfect love?  If there’s no guaranteed reward for our efforts, what is the point to even try in the first place?

What I’m suggesting today is that it’s usually worth trying for at least a predetermined time (the time-frame  being established based on what we feel is appropriate and fair to ourselves as well as what we can tolerate).  The final outcome of this attempt may not be what we hoped for in the beginning, and we may still end up walking away alone.  However, the growth, knowledge and discipline that are gained from this journey are all what I consider to be “rewards” of our efforts.  Regardless if the love in your relationship is salvageable, you will gain from the experience.  And that’s why I think it’s a path worth exploring.

What are some of the ways we can perfect the love in our imperfect relationships?

Might I suggest a few that have helped me and which I hope will help you:

  • Stay positive – While easier said than done, staying positive really is the key to happiness both for ourselves and in our relationships.  When a relationship doesn’t go the way we expected, it’s natural to feel discouraged.  So to overcome this, we have to in a way train our minds every day to focus on positive emotions and thoughts and sift out negative ones.  Keep a note pad close by and jot down all the positive things about this other person as they come to our minds.  Initially, the process may require us to convert a negative into a positive.  For example, if Billy is running late to pick you up (a negative), mention how well he cleaned himself up for you (a positive) when he arrives at the door.  The point is to focus more on the positives so hopefully there are more positives in the relationship to build off of.
  • Let go of expectations – To expect someone else to meet our unfulfilled or uncommunicated needs is like planting a time bomb in the relationship — eventually it will explode.  The problem with having expectations is that we depend on others to act, behave, and speak in ways that we desire rather than what comes naturally of another person.  They may have trouble comprehending our desires, and if it goes outside this sphere of comprehension, we have unmet expectations.  When our desires and expectations go unfulfilled, then demands start to creep into the relationship.  We may start to say, “Well, if you love me you would do this/say this…” or perhaps,  “If you were responsible, you wouldn’t do this…”  We fail to see that our interpretation of something is not the only correct one.  Each individual’s perception leads to unique responses, which may or may not be in-line with our own.  So we start to impose on others to change their ways to align themselves with our understanding, values and expectations.  But as we’ve heard the saying before, “We cannot change others.  We can only change ourselves.”  Trying to do otherwise will only escalate tension.
  • Have open, non-threatening communication – What makes for open and non-threatening communication is when there is but one speaker and one listener at a time.  The speaker represents him or herself using “I” statements to communicate his or her point of view.  “You” statements too often come across as attacking and degrading, which puts the listener on the defensive and leads to escalation of conflict.  So instead of saying “You never do the dishes after dinner,” you can express the same point more diplomatically by saying “I feel frustrated when I have to clean the dishes every night after dinner.”  The key to being a good listener is being able to hear not only the speaker’s overt message but also his or her underlying frustrations, and then accurately summarizing back to the speaker the message in one’s own words.  At the end, the speaker and listener come to an equitable solution.  It takes a lot practice to be both a good speaker and listener.  I found this article really helpful: A Game Plan for Effective Communication.
  • Be patient – As the saying goes, “Patience is a Virtue.”  Humans and relationships are complex.  Perfecting relationships takes patience and time.  Change does not happen over night, and time can help heal emotional wounds.  So we need to be patient and not rush a solution.  And if we can be patient with both ourselves and others, we may see our relationships grow and evolve more perfectly – like a rainbow that forms after a big storm.
  • Keep learning – We can glean a new perspective and better understanding of the challenges in our own relationships when we learn from others who have been through similar challenges and who may be experiencing similar emotions.  Finding good books and articles to read can also show other perspectives to our problems.  Talking to trusted family members and friends can give us additional insight.  And while we may come across advice and/or information that doesn’t feel or sound right, we must learn to trust in our feelings to decipher these new ideas and retain what resonates with our hearts and minds.
  • MeditateMeditation can be a very effective way of calming the mind and freeing it of all worries.  In life we are bombarded with stress and distractions.  If we can make an effort, even if it’s for just a few minutes a day, to zone out from these distractions — preferably putting ourselves in a quiet and peaceful place — we give our minds a chance to re-group and recharge as we welcome new and positive energy to our bodies.  Meditation is a very individual activity.  A lot of people find it helpful to meditate with their eyes closed, focused on deep breathing, with their body still in a seated upright position or laying flat on their backs.  Discover what works best for you.  The benefit of regular meditation to our relationships and to ourselves is it gives us a chance to “empty out the garbage” in our minds.  Too often we sweat the small stuff.  If we don’t do a routine dump of this small stuff, eventually it will accumulate and become unmanageable.  Someone wise once told me, “if it’s not an issue you see yourself fighting over with someone 10 years down the road, let it go.  But if you envision this problem today being a problem 10 years from now, then maybe it’s worth coming to a head with it.”  But when you can, let it go.  Meditate.
  • Do you – A dear friend of mine once said to me, “Do You!”  I never quite understood what that meant until I started “Doing Me.”  A relationship is made up of ourself and another person.  Too often we become so obsessed with “doing” the other person, catering to their needs and desires, we forget to “do ourselves.”  To perfect a relationship, both parties should be thriving at their best.  And the only real control we have in any relationship is the control we have over ourselves — making ourselves happy and thriving at our best.  So when you “Do You,” delve into your passions, your hobbies, reconnect with your friends, take care of your body, eat better, sleep more, love YOU!!!!

We invest in relationships because we want to love and be loved.  Love is a beautiful thing but it is not easily earned and even more difficult to hold onto and grow with.  That is why love is something we must give constant care and dedication to.

The act of loving is so enriching because while in the act we learn so much about ourselves and we learn to love better.  No love is perfect, but we can all strive to perfect the love in our relationships one day at a time.

30 Reasons I Love My Brother

Today is my brother’s 30th birthday!!  Happy Birthday Brother!!!!

I feel very lucky because I have three amazing brothers in my life.  But today it’s Brother 2’s special day so this one’s for you….

30 reasons I love Brother #2:

  1. Great sense of humor – when Brother 1 got married, he took advantage of the opportunity to market himself and his real estate business in the wedding video — splashing his number across the screen and adding a twinkle to his smile for special effects.  It was hilarious!  Lol
  2. Funny – he’s always making people laugh
  3. Successful – he developed a very successful real estate business
  4. Investment minded – he plans today for the future
  5. Loving – he has a heart of gold and everyone likes him
  6. Kind – he does not know how to be mean-spirited
  7. Generous – he gives freely of his time and resources so no one is ever without
  8. Optimistic – he sees the best in everyone, everything and every situation
  9. Friendly – he always greets people with a warm smile and an honest handshake
  10. Laid back – he doesn’t take life too seriously.  He rolls with it.
  11. Forgiving – he never holds grudges against those unfair to him
  12. Compassionate – he feels for those less fortunate and he elevates their spirits
  13. Intelligent – he’s incredibly bright, a quick learner and a good teacher
  14. Helpful – he’s always the first person to lend a helping hand
  15. Tenacious – he stays determined and focused on the prize despite all of life’s obstacles
  16. Life of the Party – whenever there’s a great party, you’d be sure to find my brother
  17. Sincere – when he speaks to you, his eyes connect with yours in tenderness
  18. Humble – he has accomplished so much in his life but he lives so modestly
  19. Considerate – he will serve you tea before he serves himself
  20. Polite – he speaks to everyone with such grace and gentleness
  21. Creative – he can imagine beauty in his mind and make it a reality in life
  22. Articulate – when he speaks, people stay engaged
  23. Hard working – he uses his hands and gets dirty even when he doesn’t need to work
  24. Good dancer – he has rhythm and does a great signature dance move people will circle around to watch
  25. Dark, tall and handsome – well…..he is my brother! :p
  26. Carefree – he allows himself to enjoy the simple pleasures of life every day
  27. Charming – when he walks into a room, people notice him
  28. Confident – he sets goals and knows exactly what steps he’ll take to accomplish them
  29. Fearless – he takes big risks and gets big rewards
  30. Trustworthy – I would trust my brother with my life

Brother 2, cheers to joining the “thirties” club!  May it be all that you’ve hoped and dreamed it to be.

Love you always.  xoxo

A Caregiver’s Love

I have a great-grandmother who just turned 109 a couple of weeks ago.  Yes, you heard me right!  A hundred and nine years old.  We call her Bak Bak — that’s not her name but it’s the Cantonese way of pronouncing maternal great-grandmother in English.

Bak Bak lived with her son (my grandfather) until 2000, the year he passed away.  After my grandfather’s death, my mother encouraged Bak Bak to sell her home and move in with our family.  Even at age 98, Bak Bak was mentally and physically strong — she climbed up and down stairs without assistance, cooked her own meals and called her family and friends frequently from a rotating dial phone, which I thought was so rad.  But the loss of her son crippled her energy and she started to slow down bit by bit.

Today Bak Bak is unable to get herself in and out of bed like she used to just a couple of years ago; she wears an adult diaper but can successfully communicate to her caregivers when she needs to use the restroom before a diaper accident 80% of the time; Bak Bak still has a healthy appetite and enjoys all foods (especially potato chips and salted nuts — no special diets), and sometimes feeding herself; but most of the time, she lays her head to rest on a 3X6x9″ block pillow (solid as a rock) snoring boisterously.  !! Heaven forbid if you try to take that pillow away from Bak Bak!!  This 4 foot, 75 lb lady will use her claws — she’s a feisty one.  No joke!

My mother, an angel on earth, is Bak Bak’s primary caregiver.  Sometimes when my mother’s not home, my brother is the person who provides care to our dear great-grandmother.  Even though Bak Bak doesn’t require around the clock assistance (since she sleeps 70% of the day), caring for her is a mental, psychological and physical challenge for my family, especially my mother.

Just recently, Bak Bak started to exhibit signs of Alzheimer’s.  Although silent most of the time, when she does talk she asks who my mom is or mistakenly calls my mom “Ah Jo,” which is the name of Bak Bak’s daughter.  Bak Bak might also seem confused and disoriented at times — not knowing where she is and asking us to take her back to her village in China.  And sometimes Bak Bak mumbles gibberish because she’s forgotten some words.  But we look at her and approvingly nod so she feels understood.

Culturally speaking (for many Asian families),  it is expected of us children or grandchildren alike to provide financial, physical, emotional, mental and psychological support to our elderly parents/grandparents.  I don’t think there’s even characters in the Chinese dictionary for “nursing home” or “assisted living” — well I guess I wouldn’t know even if there was cause I’m a CBC (Canadian Born Chinese) who speaks Chinglish.  But you get the drift….when our parents get older, we are responsible for taking care of them.  We see it as our honor to reciprocate the love and care they shared with us for our entire lives.

So I ask myself, “What do I need to do now to prepare for this inevitable duty as primary caregiver to my aging mother (my only living parent) and/or my future parents-in-laws (if I get married one day)?”  I guess there’s no way to really prepare myself for this, but I gleaned a lot of insight and understanding of what I might expect by observing my mother who’s cared for Bak Bak over the years, hearing stories from friends whose parents care for their elderly parents with Alzheimer’s, and reading online articles that discuss elderly care.

A few ideas stood out to me on caregiving for elderly parents that I would like to share with anyone who is already living in this role or anticipates to take on that role one day:

  1. Trust in our intuition.  Denial is potent and seductive when it comes to dealing with aging.  No one wants to acknowledge that a family member is in decline.  If our parents get really sick or if they start to become more forgetful and/or clumsy, trust in our gut to prepare and take action.  Pay attention and acknowledge the truth sooner than later.  Preventative measures can help us prolong the lives of our aging parent(s).
  2. Create a support group.  A friend once told me, it takes a village to raise a child.  I believe the same truth applies to our elderly parents.  Build a village of family members, doctors, pharmacists, insurance providers, other caregivers, support groups, neighbors and friends we can ask for help if we need it.  Don’t try to do it alone.  Then the experience becomes one more of joy and less of duty.
  3. Save money.  I read a lot of articles about how caregiving is a big financial commitment.  Even if our elderly parents have some money set  aside to help fund their retirement/old age, this money may not necessarily last for the remaining duration of their lives — especially if large, unexpected medical expenses come up or if they live longer than expected.  Other reasons we should save: some of us may need to retire earlier than expected to be able to be home with our elderly parent(s) who are in need of around the clock assistance. Who pays for this lifestyle shift/change?  This is a commitment for possibly ten to thirty-plus years.  Can we afford it?  We need to start saving today.
  4. Learn patience.  Patience is a virtue when it comes to caregiving.  Take time to notice what our elderly parents are trying to communicate to us with their eyes, their tone of voice, their words.  Love and patience is critical — and of course a good sense of humor.
  5. Provide maximum independence (consistent with their physical and mental condition).  One of the greatest fears of elderly people is the loss of their independence.  That’s why it’s devastating for a lot of older people to have their driver’s licenses revoked because they must now depend on others to take them wherever they need to go.  Instead of asking “What would you like from the grocery store?” you might ask “Would you like to come for a drive with me to the grocery store?”
  6. Educate ourselves.  Learn all we can about our elderly parent’s condition so the knowledge can guide us and instill greater confidence in our caretaking abilities.
  7. Love ourselves.  In order to provide the best care to someone else, we need to be in good health ourselves.  Caregiving can become tedious, frustrating and isolating at times.  It is important that we don’t neglect our own personal needs — and sometimes that means not being afraid to ask for a “time-out” so we can tend to our health, rejuvenate our spirits and nurture our souls.  We need to always love ourselves!!

Cheers to all the caregivers out there — you are an inspiration to me of true love and sacrifice.  May your burdens be made lighter and the love you have for yourself grow stronger.  

We notice.  We appreciate.  We thank you.

Love to look good!

I have a friend who works for a fitness club and he told me that membership sales in January are the biggest for the year.  And it’s no surprise.  One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions for people is to LOSE WEIGHT.  People spend most of their holidays wining and dining with family and friends, and before they know it they can’t fit into their jeans mid January.  Immediately, they panic and drive to the nearest gym.  I know it’s true cause I’ve been there!

The reality is most people start with good intentions by purchasing an expensive gym membership but then lose motivation to keep going back after the first few months.

So what can we do to keep up our motivation to stick to our fitness routines/practices?  Here are just some of my ideas to help:

  • Figure out the real reason you want to lose weight.  Is it to look and feel great in your summer wedding dress?  Is it to not feel embarrassed when you slip into your bikini on your upcoming beach vacation?  Is it to improve your health because you want to take preventative measures against illnesses caused from being overweight?  Is it to lower stress levels caused from work?  Or are you just vain and want to look good?  Have a clear idea of why you want to lose weight, write it down or post up a picture up and then refer to these often as daily/weekly reminders to keep you going.
  • Pick a health club close to where you live.  If you’ve decided to financially commit to visiting a gym regularly, make it easier for yourself so you have less excuses — choosing a gym that’s far or difficult to get to will only make it easier for you to stay home and veg instead.
  • Buy a few different work-out DVDs and exercise at home.  For myself, I don’t even own a gym membership because I know I will make a million excuses not to go.  I try to wake up early in the mornings before work (4x a week) and exercise to a fitness DVD.  I am a huge fan of the following workout DVDs cause I’ve noticed a change in my body from working out to these routines: (1) Insanity with Shaun T (2) P90X with Tony Horton (3) Bar Method with Burr Leonard.  Try them out and see what you think!
  • Lift weights.  To all the ladies afraid of bulking up from lifting weights…this is a myth!  Trust me…I had the same fears!  I wanted to look small, petite and not “too muscular.”  So for years I stayed away from weights and stuck to cardio activities only.  Big mistake.  When I finally decided to give weight lifting a chance, my body completely transformed for the better — lifting 3lbs to 12lbs weights gave me nice definition in my arms and legs, I leaned up and my metabolism peaked!  Positive results = continued motivation to keep exercising.
  • Mix up your workout routines.  If you are a gym goer, don’t just go to the gym everyday and run on the treadmill.  Mix it up.  Shock the body.  If your body gets acclimated to the same routine every day, it’s going to eventually plateau and then you’ll wonder why you’re not losing any more weight (when you know you could afford to lose another 5-10 lbs).  So my advice is to work out one day on the treadmill, the next day the stair climber, and then the next day on the elliptical (or however you want to mix it up).  And if you’re like me and you choose to work out at home, rotate between your workout DVDs.  I do believe changing the way you exercise regularly helps to burn fat off your body faster and works different muscle groups.
  • Be conscientious of what you’re eating.  Just because you’re exercising regularly, this doesn’t give you a free ticket to eat whatever you want and lose weight.  Losing weight is simple mathematics.  If the calories you consume from eating and drinking is LESS THAN the calories you burn from working out per day => you will LOSE WEIGHT.  And the opposite is true.  If you consume MORE calories than you burn in a day => you will GAIN WEIGHT.  Refer to the calorie chart to see how many calories you should be consuming for your weight based on your level of activity.  The challenge most of us face is overeating.  Working out intensifies the hunger pangs and we feel justified in eating all the wrong foods.  Stock up on healthy foods and choose healthier food options when you dine out or at home.  Be careful of portion sizes.  Mama may have told you once to “finish everything on your plate…” but now you can interrupt that as “finish a portion of it today and take the leftovers home for tomorrow’s meal.”
  • Be in love with your body.  I think a key to rapid and healthy weight loss is a positive attitude.  If we’re constantly beating ourselves up and looking in the mirror saying “Oh, I’m so fat.  I can’t stand looking at my gut.  My thighs are too fat.  My butt is so large….”  your body is going to possibly resist change by going on strike because even our bodies don’t like when we nag and complain!  But if you “feed” your body with positive thoughts and healthy ideas, your body will love you and appreciate your words of affirmation.  Positive reinforcement goes a long way, with others and ourselves.

I hope some of my ideas help to keep you on track of your fitness goals.  I’m not a fitness expert and I don’t claim to be, but I know a few of the ideas that I learned from reading books or magazines and talking to fitness trainers have helped transform my body for the better through the years so I hope it works for you too!

Cheers to a healthy and sexy body!!  🙂

Symposium and Love

The other night I went to the B. Cafe with a friend and her friend Bob — a place I give two thumbs up for ambiance, food and drinks.

Bob tells us that he just recently submitted a number of applications to the top philosophy PhD programs in North America.  We did a congratulatory CHEERS to that — they raised their glasses of of Belgian beers and I raised my glass of sparkling Pellegrino water.  My abstinence from drinking gets him talking about the Symposium.

Now what is the Symposium you might ask?  I had no idea myself.  Back in Ancient Greek times, aristocratic men gathered together to drink and talk — debate, share poetry, boast, celebrate.  The symposium that Bob focused on that night was Plato’s dialogue, which is one of the most famous symposium in history.

The reason why this symposium caught my attention is because the topic of discussion at this drinking party 3000 years ago was on LOVE!  We woman are always curious to know what men think of love, right?!

Here’s my summary of the symposium (what the 7 participants spoke of) and as I understood it:

Participant 1 – Pausanias: Love is earning the admiration of his beloved — showing bravery on the battlefield, even sacrificing one’s life for the beloved.  Love is one of the most ancient gods = Eros.

Participant 2 – Phaedrus: Love is a complex thing of two types: common love and heavenly love.  Common love is sexual love based on the body; and heavenly love is the pure form of love based on honoring a partner’s intelligence and wisdom.

Participant 3 – Eryximachus: Love occurs in all of the universe, in plants, in animals.  Love takes two forms in the human body: one healthy and capable of curing diseases and one unhealthy.  Love as a whole is the source of all happiness.

Participant 4 – Aristophanes: Love is reuniting with our missing half and feeling “whole” again.  Aristophanes explains this idea in a comedic eulogy.  In primal times people had doubled bodies, with two faces and limbs that turned away from one another.  To get around, these spherical creatures rolled around like clowns doing cartwheels, and they were very powerful.  These creatures were one of three sexes: all male, all female or androgynous — half male and half female.  One day,  Zeus — the father of Gods and of men — decided to chop these creatures into half, and in effect one body became two.  Since that time, people have been in search of their other half.  Once reunited with our other half, we never want to be separated because we’ve found “wholeness.”

Participant 5 – Agathon: Love is the youngest of gods and enemy of old age.  Love clings to youth.  Love creates justice, moderation, courage and wisdom (cardinal virtues within ancient Greece).

Participant 6 – Socrates: Love is best explained by the priestess, Diotima of Mantinea.  Love is the son of “resource” (father) and “poverty” (mother).  To love in the highest form as human beings is to direct one’s attention to spiritual things — the love of Divinity — true Beauty.

Participant 7 – Alcibiades (the intoxicated party crasher): Alcibiades tries to seduce Socrates with his physical beauty but Socrates rebuffs this pursuit.  Socrates is not allured by Alcibades’ sex appeal.  Socrates explains that he loves that which is truly beautiful and good and has no fixation on the physical (lust).  In the end, Alcibiades views Socrates as the only worthy lover he ever had. He told Socrates that it seemed to him now that nothing could be more important than becoming the best man he could be and that was love.

Why do I share this?  Because I am fascinated with discussions on love and how these ideas of love have evolved over time.  How would you define love today?

PS.  Philosophy is derived from the Greek word philosophia which means love of wisdom.  I am also a lover of wisdom.  I hope I shared some of that love with you today!

PSS.  If I butchered Plato’s dialogue, please forgive me because this is my first attempt at summarizing what I think I learned.  I happily welcome all corrections/additions.  🙂

Two hearts

Yesterday, my dear friends shared some tragic news with me.  They had lost their unborn twins to miscarriage.  My heart reaches out to them.  I know they are suffering great sadness and sorrow.

My dear friends,

I’m very sorry for your loss.  I wish I am with you at this time – to give you a big hug, to make you something to eat, to listen if you need someone to talk to or be silent as you grieve.  I am here whenever you need me.

The brief existence of these two young ones will have an everlasting place in our hearts.  And although unseen, we loved them and will love them forever.

You are two wonderful people deserving of all great things — you did nothing wrong.

I love you guys very much.  My heart beats with yours at this time of sorrow.  xoxo

Celebrating CNY with a great meal!

Last night I went out for Chinese food in celebration of Chinese New Year!

Traditionally, noodles are eaten on Chinese New Year because they symbolize long life.  Dumplings are also commonly prepared and served because they signify wealth and prosperity.  So I made sure last night I ate dumplings and noodles!  🙂

I am in love with great food! And New York is a fantastic city for great food. One of my favorite Chinese restaurants in New York is Joe Shanghai.  They are famous for their soup dumplings — which are delicious!  But you must know the art to eating these dumplings because each dumpling is filled with meat (your choice of crabmeat or pork) AND soup.  I personally prefer the crabmeat ones.

How to eat soup dumplings:

First, you use the tongs they serve you with the dish and delicately lift the dumpling from the top — the doughiest part of the wrapping.  Then in your other hand, you have a soup spoon handy so you can gently place the dumpling (hopefully still in tact) on top of your spoon.  Take a small bite off the top of the dumpling and suck out the flavorful juices.  I like to add some of their hot chili sauce to my dumpling before I consume the rest of the wrapping and meat.  But it tastes great even without any hot chili sauce.

Each order comes with 8 soup dumplings.  For a party of two, one order is a great appetizer to share.  But if you’re going to Joe Shanghai just to get full on their dumplings, you can quite easily consume 2 orders on your own.  🙂 Personally, I think it’s worth leaving room for some of their other great dishes.

Being a HUGE fan of roasted duck, I wanted to try their Peking Duck which I enjoyed a lot (not listed on their online menu).  The skin was the right crispiness (my favorite part) and there was a good amount of duck meat not served with too much fat.  Perfect!  I’m always on the hunt for great roasted duck.  Please share if you have other recommendations for great roasted/Peking Duck in your city!

So to all those who celebrated Chinese New Year last night, I hope you all enjoyed a great meal like I did!

Gong Xi Fa Chai (Mandarin) or Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese)!

May 2012 bring you all love, happiness, great health, prosperity and good fortune!!