The Ugly Truth About Losing Weight

The Ugly Truth About Losing Weight

The weight loss journey is filled with happy moments, like stepping off the scale and seeing that magical number for the first time in years. But there are also many ugly truths about the weight loss journey people don’t often talk about. Here are 5 ugly truths about losing weight people don’t talk about and the silver lining.

1. Your Relationship will be Tested

Getting in shape makes you look better and feel sexier, but it may not strengthen your relationship with your significant other.  While your boyfriend or girlfriend may like your new look, he or she could also feel jealous or even threatened by the attention you receive.  A study from North Carolina State University in 2013 found while losing 60 lbs or more in 2 years or less often improved a couple’s relationship, the dieter’s partner would occasionally feel jealous or threatened.  The reason why your partner may feel this way is because they may fear there is a shift in balance in the relationship caused by your new body confidence. 

There’s a saying in the fitness world that goes “Couples who workout together, stay together.”   Going on a journey, whether it is a vacation or a weight loss journey, can create a stronger bond between couples when they do it together.  Additionally, success rates are much higher when your significant other is supportive in your weight loss process.   

Keep in mind your relationship with your friends may also changes as well.

weight loss can change your relationship

2. Friends (and even family) may try to sabotage your progress.

Once you start losing some weight, people, usually our friends and family, may feel threatened by your progress or subconsciously sabotage your progress .

“Why aren’t you more?”

“Don’t you like my cooking?”

“I made this just for you.”

“You are so skinny now… it’s okay to have another piece of cake.”

We have all heard those words before.

During your weight loss journey, the people closest to us may try to sabotage your progress.  They may try to get you to eat more or tease you.  Often times, they may do it out of love or even habit.  Imagine going to your parents’ house and Mom made your favorite dessert.  When you tell her no, Mom gets her feelings hurt and says, “But I made this especially for you.” 

Or, you are at lunch with your co-workers and they may tell you to “splurge a little… it’s only one meal.”  “Take a bite,” or “Just have another drink with us” can set you back tremendously in your weight loss journey. 

Friends and family may try to sabotage your weight loss progress

Here are a few ways to handle this.  If someone make a special meal or treat just for you, say,  “I really appreciate how you go out of your way to make such a special meal for me.  You have always been so supportive and welcoming when I come over.  Thank you again for always making me feel special by making my favorite foods when I come over.   I’m making an effort to eat healthier for my health and I am counting on your support as well.”  

Or tell them ahead of time you are coming over for a meal and offer to bring a something healthy over.  If you are going out to dinner, suggest a restaurant with healthy options.  If your friends try to peer pressure you, try this approach “I am making an effort to eat healthier.  You guys have always been such a great circle of support for me in the past, encouraging me when I am feeling down.  I am really going to need your support in my efforts to eat healthier.  Thanks again for always being there for me. ”

When you communicate in a way that puts their reputation on the line, they will want to live up to it and not disappoint you.   

If your friend and family continue to try to peer pressure you, then try spending time with them around non-meal time.   Go on walk together at the park.  Hang out and talk over afternoon tea.  Go window shopping and get some steps in at the same time.  Look for alternatives to going out for lunch or drinks.  When they see how great you look and feel, they may even ask you for advice!

3. Food Guilt is Real

During the weight loss journey, there will be times when you cheat.  I am extremely guilty of this. My moment of weakness often involves Domino’s pizza and that damn cookie brownie.  Cheat meals are a healthy way to balance out the junk food cravings with a relatively healthy lifestyle. 

There will be days when a cheat meal turns into a cheat day or even a cheat week.  Instead of beating yourself up and feeling ashamed and “worthless”, realize you are human and to learn to forgive yourself.

When I am having a bad day, I tend to emotional eat, usually involving pizza and red wine. Then the food guilt kicks in and I start the to shame myself for not having more self control. I’m telling you, that food guilt is real.

Learn to be compassionate to yourself and love yourself. Love everything including the love handles, the tubby (but cute) belly and everything in between. The first step to healing your body, as well as your mind, is to be kind to YOU, extra pounds and all.

Love yourself and be kind to your body

4. Loose skin after Weight Loss

When a person holds on to extra weight, the skin expands to make room for the growth. An example is when a woman is pregnant. If you have been holding extra weight for years, the skin has been stretched out for a long time and may have difficulty retracting fully. Additionally as we age, the skin loses elasticity and collagen, which also contributes to looser skin. So what can you do about it? Start by eating more foods with antioxidants and add in a collagen supplement to support healthy skin. Firming creams may have a temporary effect. For people who have alot of extra skin, medical skin treatments such as radio frequency or body contouring may give you longer lasting results. Surgically removing the excess skin is the last resort.

5.  You will learn there are no short cuts … It is a life style change.

Everyone wants a quick fix, but you will have an “ah ha” moment during your weight loss journey where you realize there are no quick fixes.  It is truly a lifestyle change, and even when you hit your ideal weight, you have to work at it in order to maintain it.  The good news is, when you do make the lifestyle change, not only do you look better, you also feel better too.  The benefits of eating clean and healthy changes all aspects of your life.  You will have more energy to do the things you love to do.  You feel stronger, lighter and ready to take on the world.  Your skin, hair and nails will look amazing because you are taking care of your body by eating real foods that are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants.  The best part is, it’s really easy once you learn how to make healthy food choices. 

The Silver Lining – You will Start Enjoying Your Workouts.

Seriously. When you first start your weight loss journey, you are carrying extra weight which is harder on you joints.  If you haven’t been active, your endurance is also limited, and your lungs may burn more than someone who is at a healthier weight.  Once you begin working out consistently, your body will adapt, lean muscles will develop, and endurance will improve.  What was physically challenging will be come easy.  You will feel light, be stronger, and begin to enjoy the physical challenge. As you pass each milestone, such as being able to do real pushups, you will have a more confidence in yourself, have a closer relationship with your body and feel amazing.  The post workout endorphins will also give you a feeling of happiness and a sense of accomplishment.

Visiting New York City

Visiting New York City

Recently I went to visit one of my favorite cities in the world, New York City.  It is home to 8.4 million people, a melting pot of culture and commerce.  For most people, coming to New York means seeing all the tourist sites, walking through Time Square, climbing the Empire State Building, and going to Central Park.  As much as I love seeing the sights, New York City offers so much more.  Here are my favorite things about New York which makes this city one of my favorite.

New York City is one of my favorite places to visit

1- Concrete Jungle – Being in New York City is always mind blowing when I look out the window.  There are buildings as far as the eye can see.  What Manhattan lacks in green space, it makes up in buildings and there is so much diversity in the structures.  Old brownstone residential homes mixed with new shiny office buildings.  If you are lucky, you can turn a corner and see a quaint old church, with beautiful European architecture.  It is truly a magnification place.

2-Diversity of People- There is so much cultural diversity in NYC.  In a city where as many as 800 languages are spoken, everywhere you look, there is someone who may look different from you.  Yet, everyone resides in peace, sharing the same small spaces with their neighbor.  No matter where you go, you are welcome.  I love walking through Korea town, where you can find some of the best Korean bulgogi the city has to offer, only to cross a street, and end up in Little Italy, where you can find authentic home made pasta made with squid ink.  Because of the diversity of the people and their unique cultures, you can turn a corner and find you are in a different part of the world.

Cultural diversity is everywhere in NYC

3-Transportation Heaven – There are so many ways to get around in New York City.  With your choices from sea of yellow taxis, buses, and the extensive subway system, there is always an easy way to get around.  Of course, you have your choice of ride share options in including Uber, and of course, you can always walk.  New York is a very safe and walkable city.

Public transportation is every where in New York City

4-Food Carts- I love food carts.  They remind me of traveling overseas where there is so much amazing street food.  You can find a great Greek Gyro food cart at almost every corner, and there are people roasting fresh nuts with an intoxicating aroma of cinnamon and sugar.  It is authentic, quick and delicious.  There are even healthy options like smoothie food carts as well.

5-Energy- New York City has a very unique fast pace energy which seems to pulse through the veins of everyone who lives there.  Between dodging cars and the flashing lights, there is a unique energy only found in NY.  It is alive with culture, powered by the diversity of the people who inhabit this beautiful island.  I always feel recharged and inspired after visiting the city that never sleeps.

NYC the city that never sleeps

6-Nice People- Many people have the misconception that New Yorkers are not very nice.  While they are not like the folks in the South with Southern hospitality, New Yorkers have their own unique way of showing kindness.  For example, when I needed help getting around and was lost in the City, New Yorkers would take time to help me find my way back to the hotel.  I’ve had my doors opened for me many times and they were kind enough to humor me and take a photo for me.  When you think about sheer number of tourist who visit New York, asking for directions and blocking walk ways to take photos (yes I am guilty), New Yorkers actually display quite a bit of patience.  So on behalf of all the tourists visiting New York, New Yorkers, I would like to thank you for showing Northern hospitality.  We really appreciate it.

7- Street Performers – In NYC, there is never a shortage of talented people and you will see street performers all around.  Dance troups in the subway will hold an impromptu dance performance, entertain the crowd while they wait to catch the subway.  Musicians pour their hearts out, strumming away on their guitars.  A saxophone player creates a mood of romance in the streets, the perfect background to a night on the town.

There is no other city in the United States like New York City. Between the 24 hour night life and eateries, the pulsating energy of commerce, and the multi-cultural diversity of people, NYC is one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Until next time, New York, I will miss you.

Day Trip to Galveston Island

Day Trip to Galveston Island

Living in Texas has many benefits:  Lots of sun light, great economy and being close to the water. One of my favorite quick get aways when visiting family in Houston is to take a day trip to Galveston Island, about 45 minutes drive from Houston.  As you approach Galveston Island, a warm salty breeze greets you, and you know you have arrived. During the week day, the long boardwalk is quiet and there is a sense of serenity. Time slows down and relaxation sets in as you take in the sights of the island: The gentle waves washing into the sand, the sea gulls gliding majestically through the air, and little sand pipers running across the beach.

I am always grateful for quiet moments of solitude to reflect on the joy and abundance I have in my life.  So often we are caught up in this fast paced world, but being at the Galveston Island on the beach, I am reminded of the simple pleasures of life: Basking in sunlight, listening to the waves, watching a child play in the water, and seeing the joy in my dogs eyes as they wrestle in the sand. Being in Galveston has a magical transformational effect, if you take a moment and allow yourself to let go and just enjoy the laid back pace of life.  
The day trip to Galveston Island reminds me of a time in my lives when I slowed down and appreciated the simple things in life. When you think about it, when was the last real conversation you had with your neighbors? With your family? With your friends? Being here makes me think of afternoons in my earlier years where making time for the people closest to me mattered the most and I vow to make more time for my friends and family this year As the day comes to a close, I head to East Beach on the far end of Galveston Island and watch one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen. Happy and rested, I head back to the city of Houston, refresh and relaxed.
How to Travel Light

How to Travel Light

Each year, I travel about 200 plus days. If you add up the time it takes to check bags and to retrieve bags, it can easily add an hour to your day. On top of that, there is a chance the airline will lose your luggage. When you learn how to travel light, you will save time and never lose your luggage.  Once, my luggage decided to take a trip to Istanbul without me. For the last 3 years, I travel exclusively with a carry on and a backpack. This trip, I am flying to the Northeast United States, battling the rain and cold, then flying out to Colombia for another two weeks in the hot and humid climate. Even with 3 pairs of shoes, my laptop, my DSLR and camera lenses, work clothes and a mix of beach and casual wear with a winter coat, I am still traveling carry on only. How do I do it? Easy. It just requires a bit of creative planning.

How to Travel Light Tips & Tricks:


1) Get the most out of your luggage – Make sure your carry on luggage doesn’t have dead space. There are really pretty bags with structured designs that look cool on the outside, but take up precious space on the inside. Look for a luggage that uses all available space. And since you will be carrying everything, the lighter the bag, the better.  I recently purchased a new Samsonite Spinner luggage weighing 8lbs and it has made a huge difference. My other Samsonite bag, which only made it a little over one year, was on the verge of falling apart. One of the wheels were no longer working and I was literally dragging the luggage. This time, I looked for heavy duty wheels. I prefer the ones with a dual wheel because they seem to glide easier. Also, I prefer hard luggage with an expandable zipper. I use to travel with a soft side luggage but found I would over stuff the bag and it wouldn’t fit into the overhead compartment. The great thing about the zippered hard luggage is once everything is zipped, it will fit perfectly every time. Stay away from the conventional hard luggage because they are really finicky and are hard to close if the alignment is even slightly off. Last, I sit on the luggage to test it’s strength. Depending on how much you weigh, this may or may not be the best idea, but I want to make sure it can handle at least over 100 lbs of weight empty, both laying on its side and standing upright.

2)  Bring versatile clothing you can re-wear – Just like jeans, make sure to pack articles of clothing to build outfits around.  A cute summer dress can transition into an elegant evening with a cardigan, heels & accessories.  Plan out your outfits ahead of time and add accessories to glam it up.

3) Bring Ziploc bags & Trash bags – Dirty clothes goes in the trash bag and ziplock bags come in handy to pack snacks as well as to contain liquids from spilling. I like to double bag liquids, just in case.  Bring extra trash bags in case it rains and you need to make a make shift poncho for your electronics.

4)  Hand wash your clothes –  Bar soap.  Water.   A little elbow grease.  Done

5)  Roll your clothes up –  Don’t just dump clothes into the luggage or fold them. This takes up more space, plus your clothes get wrinkled in the process. If you are bringing shoes, tuck things like socks or underwear into the space to use all available space.

6) Downsize on your liquids. If you have to have your favorite conditioner, bring it, but you can do without the shampoo. My favorite facial cleaner and body soap is VaniCream Cleaning Bar, which you can get at a drugstore for about $6.  It’s extremely gentle on your skin, and doesn’t count take up space in my liquids bag. One of my favorite finds is a chewable tablet solid toothpaste by Lush. It is so easy to travel with and they have a variety of flavors. A good night cream is essential as well as an eye cream, since being on an airplane dehydrates your skin. And of course, travel size sunscreen makes the list. You can always get travel containers and refill as needed. The same goes for hair products as well.

7) If you don’t have to sit on the bag to close it, you have more space. The trick is to pack your bag using all available space, so the denser the better. If you are going on vacation and you want to bring back souvenirs , pack a different bag for the return portion. Most major airlines allow 2 free checked bags for international flights. You can always check a bag on the way back.

8) Get a backpack or a big tote. Don’t bring the purse unless it is HUGE. I travel with my Macbook Pro laptop, Kindle, DSLR, battery packs and food.  I have a huge Kenneth Cole Reaction Backpack which allows me to pack about 35-40lbs of stuff. I pack my purse in my luggage because I have more usable space in the backpack. This makes a huge difference in what I can bring with me on my trips.

Traveling light is easy when you plan ahead.   The important part is making sure everything you pack will be used at least a few times.  If not, it doesn’t make the trip.  Once you start traveling with only a carry on, you will realize how easy it is and how much time you save by not waiting for you bags.  It also allows you to be more mobile.  Happy Travels!

Smokie Mountain Day Trip

Smokie Mountain Day Trip

Towering trees framed with glistening streams and waterfalls are just some things you can look forward to when going to Smoky Mountain National Park. Nestled between Tennessee and North Carolina, the Smokie Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country, with over 9 million people vising annually.  With only one day to explore, I rented a truck after landing in Chattanooga, Tennessee and drove to the park. Worried about the notorious traffic as families are vacationing for Spring Break, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was an easy 2.45 hour drive. Instead of going through the main tourist town of Gatlinburg, I went through the less know entrance through the charming quaint town of Townsend to see the Cades Cove, an early European settlement dating back to the 1800’s.

Make sure to see John Oliver Place, one of the first settlers to call Cades Cove home in 1820’s. As I sat on the porch steps, it’s hard to believe the wealth of history present at this beautiful rural land.

If you are looking to get some hiking in, stop for a hike to Abrams Falls, about midway through the Cades Cove driving path. You are rewarded with a 20 foot waterfall after a relatively easy 5 mile round-trip hike. The entire hike should take 3 hours or less to complete, stretching your legs and enjoying nature.  If you are looking to see Clingmans Dome, the highest peak in the park, it is completely doable if you start you day early. Since I arrived at the park at 3:30pm, I opted out and enjoyed some short hikes instead.

Ideally, I recommend spending at least 3 to 4 days do you can enjoy nature and camp at this beautiful park. After going to Yosemite during the summer time, I recommend coming here during off season, even if it is cooler. You would be able to enjoy nature without having to sit in rush hour like traffic with hoards of people every where you look.

Kauai on a Budget

Kauai on a Budget

Warm weather,  incredible views and amazing hiking trails are some of the reasons to pack up and go to Kauai. Also known as the Garden Isle, Kauai is a tropical paradise. Rich tropical vegetation, stunning cliffs and waterfalls makes Kauai the ultimate island getaway.  Tired of wearing winter coats, my boyfriend and I decided to take a last minute trip to Kauai to ring in the New Year.  But can you go to wild Kauai on a budget?  I was curious to find out. 


In the past, New Year Eve was celebrated with friends over dinner, followed by drinks at fancy bar with a hefty cover charge and $16 drinks.  Some years, our group would have bottle service, which can run from $200 to $300 a person.  Hotel parties were fun but expensive.   Event tickets, dinner, drinks, and a hotel room adds up quickly. After careful scrutiny, we discovered we were spending $800 – $1,000 for a night of celebration for two.  Our challenge:  Travel to Kauai for 5 nights for less than the cost of New Year’s Eve night out.

With United airline miles in hand, we booked our flights for $5.60 each, less than a Starbucks Coffee.  We would leave in less than 24 hours   With only 5 days before the New Year, finding a place to stay was harder than convincing TSA to give me back my slightly oversized $35 conditioner.   My favorite booking site, Airbnb, only had only 2 options:   A semi private closet/bedroom for $65 or a condo for $600.  Yikes.   Almost every hotel on the island was well over $500.   Most of the popular campsites were also sold out.  After browsing online through County Site and State Park, we were able to find a few campsites still open.  As luck would have it, we also came across a cute inn at an even more attractive price of $103 per night on Craigslist. Booking the first 2 nights of our trip at the Kalaheo Inn, we decided to camping the rest of the 3 nights. Renting a Nissan Frontier Truck with 4 wheel drive for less than $200, we packed our tent and decided to wing it. With camping sites ranging from $5 to $20 a night for two people, it was a bargain.



After a long day of traveling,  we finally arrived in paradise at night.  Unfortunately it was raining.   In fact, the weather reports stated cloudy conditions with rain for the next few days, which would making camping very unpleasant. Luckily, the weather in Kuaui varies dramatically depending on the side of the island you are on.   Last time I was in Kauai,  I was chasing dry patches of sky, driving from Princeville in the northern part of the island, to the south, which tends to be drier.  With a 2-3 hour round trip commute each day, I spend more time in the car than I would like.
This time, our hotel was in Kalaheo, the southern part of the Kauai which tends to be drier.   Like any good budget traveler, our first stop was Walmart, which usually has the best prices on souvenirs as well as camping gear  After picking up a couple of light fleece sleeping bags, duct tape, and bottled water, we headed to Safeway Grocery Store to pick up some food for the hike. By the time we arrived at the Kalaheo Inn, it was almost midnight. The one bedroom suite, which included a kitchen area with a plugin portable stove, was more than what we needed As we looked around the Hawaiian inspired decor, we noticed one thing was missing:  Air conditioning.  Luckily, the weather in Hawaii is generally in the low 80’s to mid 60’s and there is a gentle breeze to cool the room.

Day 1 – Waimea Canyon & Polihale Beach & State Park

We woke up the next morning at 7am to the sound of crowing from the roosters which run wild on the island.  The roosters and chicken are almost like the mascot of the island, running wild, a showy array of vivid colors, begging for food like hungry dogs.  While some people consider them a nuisance, I adore them. In fact, it makes Kauai even more special for me . After loading up the car, we drove towards Waimea Canyon on the west side of Kauai. Commonly known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon is a 10 mile long canyon formed by erosion from the Waimea River Fueling our stomach with heaping piles of scrambled eggs, “little smokies” usually referred to as Vienna sausages, and fried Spam at Gina’s Anykine Grinds Cafe in Waimea Town, we continued towards the western point of the island.
Our plan was to hike into Waimea Canyon after stopping by the Waimea Canyon Lookout. It’s a popular spot with an observe deck to marvel at the beautiful red, green and brown hues along with the famous waterfall.  By the time we arrived to the Waimea Canyon Lookout, we were greeted by a flocks of roosters & hens. Excited tourists spilling out of the tour buses with their cameras and flip flops joined us at the Lookout After taking a few photos at the Lookout with tourist from all over the world, we went towards the cliff to a lookout point unprotected by guard rails, giving a complete unobstructed view of the canyon.  We decided to pioneer the journey and we were not disappointed with the view.   Other adventurous tourists followed our lead.  My advice: Keep your eyes in front of you and don’t look down!
After leaving Waimea Canyon Lookout, we continued driving until we reached Kōkeʻe State Park.  Wanting to conserve our energy and make better time, we decided to challenge our 4X4 Nissan Truck and drive down the Hale Manu Valley to hike the Canyon Trail and Cliff Trail.  Driving through 2 miles of wet red mud, we were able to reach the start of the Canyon Trail in no time.  After parking the truck, we trekked through the valley, making our way through slippery trail until we finally reached the Cliff Trail, a beautiful viewpoint of Waimea Canyon.  Seeing signs for a waterfall, we hiked a little further and arrived at a small but lovely waterfall. We stopped for a few minutes to take in the view.  Tip:  Wear good shoes with treads.  Having good hiking boots would have made our journey down much steadier, although the hike up was much easier.

Kalalau Lookout & Pu’u O Kila Lookout

We continued driving until we reached Kalalau Lookout, a popular photo spot with railing and an easy walked down a paved path. Many tour buses stop at this location because of the easy access and nice views.  For a better view of the Kalalau Valley, go to  Pu’u O Kila Lookout, a mile up the road from the Kalalau Lookout with higher elevations to the Pihea Trail Perched on a land bridge straddling 4,000 feet above the Kalalau Valley floor and the Alakai Swamp, Pihea Trail is know to be “The Wettest Spot on Earth”. Hiking a short distance down the ridge of the Pihea Trail, and you will be rewarded with an even more amazing view of the Kalalau Valley.   Needless to say, the mud was a little slick, but the view was worth it.  If you have time, make sure to hike the Awaawapuhi Trail, for the pictures from the trail is amazing!  Check out this blog Unreal Hawaii for more pictures on the trail.  I am definitely going next time!

View from Pihea Trail

Polihale Beach

After getting as much mud off of our shoes as we could, we headed towards Polihale Beach to catch the sunset.  Polihale Beach and State Park is the 17 miles, the longest stretch of beach in the state of Hawaii Since we had a 4-wheel drive, we decided to take on the  7 miles of rough unpaved roads away from civilization to the western end of the beach where the Napali Coast starts.
Keep in mind rental car companies frown on driving vehicles off road, so you may want to give the car a quick wash before returning.   As we drove through the spectacular stretch of wilderness, it seemed the road was never going to end.  After a slow and bumpy drive, we parked our truck and walked towards the unblemished white sand beach.
Polihale Beach has restroom and showering facilities, but no shade cover, so if you plan to spend time here during the day, bring an umbrella and don’t forget the sunscreen.  It is an amazing place to camp, but you need a permit.  I had tent envy as I imagined what it would be like to wake up to the sound of the ocean crashing into the sand.
Packing up our bags, we headed to the showers to wash the sand off our feet when we met a few locals with their dogs.  “The dogs didn’t bark because you have good energy,” said the guy as his girlfriend nodded her head in agreement.  Happy with the good energy we were putting out, we headed back to civilization, happy to know our karma was on point.