Aspirations I’ve already kicked off this year

January is always a positive month, even if it may be a slightly hypersensitive sort of positive. We’re trying to develop the right habits we want to continue for the rest of the year after all. While I personally always feel a little more motivated in the spring when life is blossoming once again, I’ve been pretty pleased with some things I’ve done below to to fulfill my personal aspirations:

1. Maintain a “fit log”: from various phone apps, to at one point resorting to an Excel spreadsheet (prior to a big vacation), I’ve tried many ways to maintain an exercise log. Both my flux in physical activity as well as my inability to decide what I wanted to track what I did prohibited me from finding a happy medium last year. Appreciating the powerful formulas one can manipulate in Excel, I’m determined to maintain an Excel spreadsheet that contains each month in a separate tab where I’ll manually track my weekly fitness habits as well as end-of-month accomplishments. Activities like yoga can’t easily be track on the iPhone’s handy Health app so that’s where this calendar will come in handy. There may be better ones out there but I particularly enjoy the clean simplicity of this one.

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Whats been happening?

I’m happy to have maintained this blog for more than four months now. While I’m trying better to stay in the present and not look back on the future, I must say the best decision I made for myself last year were: a) creating this blog and b) moving to Seattle. Both of these choices led to emotional and intellectual satisfaction as I’m now capable of nurturing a hobby and was fortunate enough to have had the chance to escape an unchallenging work environment in NYC.

I celebrated my first Boxing Day celebration at the home of a British friend – the fiancé and I brought Peruvian alfajores (of course) and enjoyed many glasses of gluhwein. I always appreciate learning of cultural traditions with which I’m not familiar. Boxing Day appeared to me to be a convivial winter holiday among friends old and new; one final social celebration around the Christmas tree!

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Happy Holidays & End of Year Reflections

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Its been a busy holiday season for me with a lot in the works in my professional life. Mostly a work-in-progress but then again no big breakthrough occurs without building up “behind the scenes” work. After a very mellow Christmas Eve, I wanted to take the time to wish those of you who celebrate a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season as we reach the tail end of the year.

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Currently Appreciating

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday week! Its been cold, dark and rainy here in Seattle but at least no snow or ice on the roads. All activities mentioned below can easily be done at home, which probably goes to show how much of a homebody I’ve become this winter… lets hope that changes once spring come around!

FOOD: White Kimchi (recipe here)

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Non-spicy kimchi using 2 whole napa cabbages

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My favorite “happy” salad & guilty-pleasure pancakes

I love to have the time to consume large quantities of fresh fruits & vegetables. So, I whipped up a huge salad for lunch after a quick yoga session this morning. The best part of salads is that all you need is to combine what you have in your fridge. I love to start off with a base of tomatoes and cucumbers; a salad feels incomplete without these two ingredients for me. One of my most reliable dressings (which you can order at any salad joint) is olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Today, I decided to be ambitious and create a huge salad that would keep me full for hours. It took me a while to finish this!

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Currently Appreciating

Only three weeks left of 2015! I like to think that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better at appreciating the ever-changing tempo and turbulence that a year brings. The sense of anticipation with which we start off January, the beauty of spring and excitement when we plan for summer vacations, relishing time outdoors & basking in the rare sunshine here in the Pacific Northwest, and then the whole Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas sequence and other holidays that fall in the autumn and winter months.

2015 was the year in which I actually started caring more about my health and fitness. It started from working out and I soon got hooked on how great I felt both physically and mentally after an easy sweat session. I went from someone who didn’t own a pair of sneakers and considered shopping my cardio to someone who is now an avid fan of outdoor running and yoga. While my fitness is still a work in progress as I’m only human and prone to the peaks and troughs that come with establishing any routine, fitness encouraged me to take a closer look at my nutrition. But of course even the best fitness routine & nutritional habits can’t eradicate dissatisfaction. I’m keenly self-aware that I’m more prone to finding areas of improvement than areas where I’ve improved. I’m attempting to change this by cataloguing life events and moments which I appreciate. As we approach the new year, I aspire to get better at that.

Here’s a look at some things I’ve been appreciating this week–

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What rejuvenates you?

I’ve always relished weekends as the opportunity to carve out my own “me” time. It’s an integral part to my week and something without which could easily send me over the edge. A few of my favorite things that constituted “me” time back in the summer and after which I felt so much more relaxed and rejuvenated (and optimistic, overall) included: running outdoors, a nice hot bath with epsom salt & coconut oil and sunbathing with a good book in hand.

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My typical runs along the Hudson River back in the summer in NYC – from Battery Park (in the Financial District) to piers nearby TriBeCa. The times when I made it this far were moments to be proud of!

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What are you thankful for?

Decided to take a break from documenting my reflections of my Lima vacation to reflect upon the upcoming holiday season and what that means for me. If anything, Thanksgiving serves as one point during the year where we’re called upon to give thanks for the bounty that we have, not reflect on lack thereof. There have been numerous studies that indicate that the key to increasing one’s level of happiness would be to reflect upon what we’re thankful for every day, even if it’s as simple as jotting down three things before you tuck into bed (I particularly enjoyed reading this HuffPost article). While we seek to get the best money can buy for our loved ones and friends around this time of year, I’m choosing to spend this holiday with less significance on giving and receiving new presents and more on creating wonderful warm memories upon which to reflect in the future.

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Miraflores: Cats & Churros

Another day, another exploration. I was ready to explore one of the neighborhoods I was most keen on visiting during my stay in Lima – Miraflores. I had heard it was probably the most Anglicized areas of Lima and of its beautifully scenic oceanfront walkways. But what adventure could begin without a sweet treat to start off the morning?

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Cocada: tasted like two pieces of sweet, caramelized coconut macaroons with plenty of dulce de leche (or “manjar blanco” as they call it in Peru) in the middle

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