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WHAT I EAT IN A DAY

In my years of living alone and independently from my parents, I’ve gone through several stages of eating habits. Some I can only laugh at now, especially those days in university when I lived on ramen and coffee was my blood. Now, thankfully, I’ve learned a few things and trained my body to consume only what it needs and manage my cravings most days. Don’t get me wrong, I love pizza and I would kill for a cinnamon sugar pretzel, but I have them only as treats nowadays.

It’s not magic, but here’s what I typically eat in a day:

6:30 AM

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My work days start at 7:30 so I usually wake up at 5 AM and have to be out of the house by 7 AM. That gives me only 2 hours to get myself ready and eat, so breakfast is quick and hassle free I drink lukewarm water first thing after getting out of bed. I make it a point to eat something hot in the mornings, as my stomach doesn’t take too kindly to be woken up with cold food. Overnight oats, yogurt, or smoothies don’t work for me. Most days, I make myself some oatmeal on the stove. I use old fashioned oats and add water, a bit of almond milk, and sliced fruit.

10: 30 AM

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By this time, I would need a light snack to get me through to lunch. I bring a packet of nuts with me to work for this purpose. I pre-pack a variety of nuts like almonds, pistachios, and the like into small ziplock bags and pop them into my bag.

1:30 PM

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I eat lunch around this time. It might be quite late for some, but I like to avoid lunch hour crowds. I don’t have time to prepare lunch from home, so I step out from the office and get lunch in a restaurant around the corner. I usually order lean chicken salad with no dressing. For some reason, I’ve never liked salad dressings and simply eat my salad as it is.

4:30 PM

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The munchies hit me around this time of day, and to prevent my sweet tooth from getting the best of me, I opt for a sweet but healthier snack. I get myself a banana and mango smoothie with less milk and no refined sugar. It’s pretty filling and gets me by until dinner.

8:30 – 9:00 PM

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At the end of the day, I almost always feel like rewarding myself, so eating out would be a bad idea since I can get carried away with so much gastronomic options. To be on the safe side, I’ve made it a rule to only have homemade dinner at home, except when I need to have a business dinner or a special occasion with friends and family. I usually have some vegetables and lean meat or seafood. My favorite combo is asparagus with salmon, or some shrimps and baby carrots and broccoli, or some salmon with vegetables.

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THINGS I LEARNED IN MY EARLY 20’S

My early twenties was an exciting time to be alive. I made some horrible choices upon which I built wiser life decisions. It’s a time in our lives when everything is possible and the only person who can make or break you is yourself. Now, as I look back on those years when my waistline was smaller and I could eat more donuts without fear of them going straight to my hips, I realize I have learned quite a lot since then. Here’s a list of a few things I got from those nitty-gritty best years:

  1. NOTHING IS AS BAD AS IT SEEMS

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Something may seem incredibly mental at the moment, but it’s not half as bad as I made it out to be. If I got through my panic and started actually doing something productive about the problem, I would have solved it sooner. Kids, remember, panic later. That’s a rule.

  1. COFFEE DIDN’T KEEP ME AWAKE

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Coffee was my blood back in college and I was always exhausted that I never was able to stay awake without it. Now, I think that was probably all in my head and I just needed something solid and seen to help me feel in control. Nonetheless, it was probably the reason why I’m always anxious and jittery.

  1. PAPERS WON’T WRITE THEMSELVES

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I absolutely dreaded writing papers. I almost always felt like a fraud whenever I typed up my discussions and conclusions so I always put them off as much as possible and end up cramming the night before they’re due. Later on, though, I realized they probably won’t get any easier if I don’t do them more often, so I upped my game, did more research, read other’s papers, and kept on writing until I got the hang of it. I realized much of any work was like that, daunting at first, but will make more sense the moment you beign to actually work on it for real.

None of those mentioned above are hardly secrets, but I just felt like sharing it for all you kids out there still in their early 20’s and hating it. Embrace it. It’s the perfect time to find out more of yourself and what kind of road you want to carve out in the world. Explore, learn, and don’t mind the naysayers.

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SELF MANAGEMENT TIPS

A professor of mine back in college said a very profound thing in class one day and it has stuck to me ever since, “There is no such thing as ‘time management’; you can’t manage time. Time is out of your control. But you can manage yourself. That’s called self-management.” Very true, is it not? That has been my guiding mantra ever since I heard it.

But how exactly do we manage ourselves? A ton of self-help books won’t cut it if we don’t have the will to manage ourselves. We must lead our bodies and its cravings, not the other way around. So, if you’re craving more sleep, lead your body to get up. If you’re craving for more sweets, lead your body to say no. However, it isn’t always as simple as that. That’s why I’ve compiled 3 tips to help when self-management is just pretty hard to do.

  1. SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

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This sounds like what those self-help books would say, but I have practical tips for this. For example, if you find yourself having a hard time getting up in the morning, set your clock earlier and put it far out of your reach. This way, you’d have to get up before turning it off. Also, prepare your clothes the night before and all the things you need to bring for your activity in the day, as studies have shown that the less decisions your mind has to make in mornings, the better it will wake up.

  1. DO WHAT YOU CAN IN A DAY

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Keep a separate planner or calendar for work or school, or for whatever you have deliverables for. This will help you keep track of your tasks and will lessen the likelihood of you forgetting about it. Always do the most difficult tasks first, as this will ive you the sense of accomplishment and will help you get through the rest. Also, take a 5-10 minute breaks after each task to give your brain time to breath. Schedule a day per week when you can have a rest day and not think about work. This will promote a work-life balance and help you achieve more during the time when you do have to work.

  1. SET REALISTIC GOALS

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When you’re aiming for something big, it is best to start small. If you go big right away, there is a high tendency that you will burn out too soon. This can cause disappointment and frustration, which might cause you to give up altogether. Set up smaller realistic goals that lead up to your big goal. List your priorities, and when opportunities or extra things come up, always run it by your goals and if it doesn’t help you achieve your ultimate goal, let it go.

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MY FIRST SOLO TRIP ABROAD

Travel blogs have been such a hit these days, and with the Instagram posts of bloggers, it’s so easy to pick up travel envy. Scrolling my Instagram feed these days made me remember my own travel experiences. One funny one (well, now it’s funny) was of my first ever solo trip abroad.

I was 21 years old fresh out of college, and so I had this crazy instinct to assert my independence by going on a trip abroad alone. My parents were pretty used to my antics by now, since I’ve always been the independent child in the family, so they agreed to fund my trip as a graduation gift. I picked Shanghai, China, of all places. I’ve heard a few interesting things about Shanghai in one of my classes in my last year in college, did my research, and was promptly enthralled. I made my itinerary, secured travel documents, booked my tickets, and off I went.

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The moment I got out of the plane in Shanghai, I felt real fear for the first time. You know when you do something your entire life you hardly ever notice while you’re doing it… well,, communication is one of those things. I was so used to being understood by anyone and anywhere I go to, so not being able to communicate in English almost got me jumping back in the plane. In Shanghai, very little of the population can speak English, and most won’t understand you, even those who work at the airport. Despite that, though, I soldiered on and mustered enough determination to step out. I figured I would just have to get by with my precious little Shanghainese expressions.

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Thankfully, the tour guide from the hostel I checked in at spoke English and got me acquainted with a few English speakers as well. Getting a cab was a harrowing experience, since you’d need a translator, but most restaurants have staff that can speak in English. I opted to rent a bike for my stay there to eliminate the need for cabs, and an American I met in my hostel who has been in the country for a few years taught me how to navigate the subway. I got by with those two modes of transportation and saw for myself the beautiful hidden treasure of Shanghai.

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They have the most serene parks and friendly people. I biked around the city and went to their old shopping districts, visited museums, and also went into a few university campuses. They were amazing! The food was divine – it had a touch of Middle Eastern spices. The food stalls at night sold these grilled mushrooms and spiced lambs. I couldn’t get enough of those!

I fell in love with Shanghai from my very first visit, and since then I’ve been back about 5 times, 2 for business trips and 3 for leisure. It’s definitely a place I’d keep coming back to, pollution or no! It’s a lovely place.

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MY CAPSULE WARDROBE

I stumbled upon the concept of a capsule wardrobe 2 years ago and was intrigued by the idea, so I decided to try it out for one season. Two years later, I’m still doing and couldn’t imagine otherwise!

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What is a capsule wardrobe?

Basically, you create a capsule wardrobe for each season, with a specific number for each category of clothing you’ll wear. For example, you pick 15 tops, 6 jeans, 4 skirts, 3 dresses, 2 bags, 2 flats, 2 heels, 4 boots for summer, and you wear those for the entire summer by mixing and matching. Here’s the catch: you can’t do any shopping within the season, and are only allowed to wear what is in your capsule wardrobe. You are only allowed to do shopping in the transition to the next season to prepare for your fall capsule wardrobe. Ideally, you build your capsule wardrobe for each season and, over the years, reduce the need to buy more unless you have pieces that need replacing.

Why do a capsule wardrobe?

Capsule wardrobes are for those of us who are sick of having a full closet but always feelings like we have nothing to wear. 2 years ago I had no idea what my style was and simply had a bursting closet which I hate going through and always felt frustrated about. Having a capsule wardrobe allowed me to carefully plan my clothing items and pick clothes that I really actually liked, instead of just picking trendy items or those that are on sale.

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Is it worth it?

I find that it is totally worth it! It helps you discover your personal style and save money! Imagine,  you are on a self-imposed shopping hiatus for 3 months and can’t do any impulsive shopping! It was a miracle-worker for my bank account, and it gave me peace of mind knowing that I have a reasonable wardrobe to choose form every day, with pieces I love. It taught me how to invest on key pieces which are good quality and will not break in the 2nd washing. If you want to inject a little order and simplicity in your life, try starting a capsule wardrobe!