Tuesday, February 7, 2017

My Fitness Journey on Instagram

I am on a fitness journey. I haven’t been here very long. After several months of feeling somewhat depressed while the weather here in Idaho progressively got colder, I spent less time being active while caring less about what I consumed on a regular basis. The consequences weren’t good. I recognized that I was putting on weight, especially in my gut, my energy level was way down, and I often didn’t feel good inside and out! I knew what I had to do to get better, it surely had to do with my diet and not being very active, but I wasn’t motivated enough to do it. I settled for doing nothing about my current state of health. It was easy to postpone change for another day. Then one day, I had a discovery that propelled me to want to make those changes and I began. I started going down this fitness journey with a small tank of motivation, but after consistently sticking to my plan of walking daily for 15-30 minutes for over the period of a month, I’ve gained greater motivation to continue pressing forward with more diligence and determination! I was able to start running again and it felt great. Then my back pain returned due to something I did while at work. It was horrible. I couldn’t keep my back straight when I walked for two days. At first I felt like giving up. I didn’t want to go back to the beginning. I hated the fact that I had to revert back to where I started, stop running, and take it easy. I was doing so well until this happened. It was extremely disappointing because I wanted to keep going at a faster pace, but I needed to play it safe, and be smart in order for my back to heal. Looking back, I am thankful I didn’t give up like I have many times in the past. Instead of focusing on perfection, having things lined out perfectly, I focused on progress. I knew I had to keep going even if things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to. This time around, I understood that although I may have been making progress slowly, progress is progress and I was a lot better off than I was a month ago!
On Instagram I’ve been following this guy living overseas who is a weight lifting coach and who often shares videos of himself working out or eating. He also creates videos on Youtube that contain inspiring and helpful messages concerning health and fitness. His example and his positive messages were the boost I needed to push hard and stay focused on my health and fitness goals. He is the reason why I decided to incorporate weight training into my fitness routine. I’ve always wanted to get into weight training, but knowing where to start has always been a problem for me. I’ve been spending a lot of my free time diving into reading materials online about weight training and nutrition. It has been tremendously helpful in keeping me on the right track and excited to be on this journey. I’ve been feeling so great physically and mentally as I continue down this path. I know this is just the beginning. I have ways to go before I get to where I want to be, and I’m excited about it! I’m looking forward to seeing where I’ll be in a few months and a year from now!
When I started this journey, I put more emphasis on exercise over diet because I knew that the important thing for me to do is just start and everything else would follow. I knew I couldn’t go cold turkey and remove all processed foods out of my diet and stick to only whole, raw foods, otherwise I would be setting myself up for failure. I increased my daily water intake by keeping count of how many cups I had per day, threw away what was left of my jar of Nutella, brought home more fruits and vegetables to eat for meals and to snack on throughout the day, started limiting how much processed foods I consumed, eliminating weekly sugary beverages, cooking more meals at home, and reserving one day in the weekend or special occasions to have something sweet. I had many experiences in life that has shown me that the beginning of starting something new and out of our comfort zones is usually the hardest. Like starting an essay or a new job. And certainly making changes for a healthier lifestyle! But once you get going, it will get easier because you already started and with consistency and familiarity comes ease. You may even start to love it! I used to say I don’t want to get up so early in the morning to work out. I used to skip breakfast or have something packed with a lot of sugar. Now I look forward to starting my day early with exercise and healthy foods. I’ve noticed with my past behaviors that the more I exercise, I am more conscious about what I eat and the less I exercise, I am less concerned about what I eat! I know that by making those small choices or baby steps you take will lead to big things you want to accomplish. So don't be discouraged if your journey is starting out or moving slowly. You will get there! Just keep making those efforts every day.
Last week I decided to create an instagram account as a space to document and share my journey with others in hopes of helping me and others stay motivated to reach our health and fitness goals. It is a place to find motivation and to give support. Through instragram stories, I share bits of my day and thoughts concerning health and fitness. I regularly post facts and information on all topics relating to health and fitness along with my experiences and thoughts about it. So far, it has been successful in helping me stay motivated and excited to be on this journey. I hope the same can be said for my handful of followers. I hope that what I am doing can be a guide or aid in helping you be successful in starting and completing what it is you want to accomplish. So follow along, join me, or invite others to check out @my_fitness_journey_cw on instagram to find strength in coming together with others who have similar goals as you do. We can do it! Keep on going, don’t stop! Think about how wonderful you will feel as you make these positive changes in your life and the feeling you will have when you have reached the top of your mountain!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

What I Am Going To Miss About My Daughter When She Turns One

Our youngest is going to be 1 in nearly a month! Life with a 10-month-old certainly has its challenges, but man is it something special! I will miss this stage of my daughter's life.

I am going to miss finding my happy baby with a toy or a utensil sticking out of her mouth!

I am going to miss the squeals, the giggles, the funny sounds, and the indiscernible words she uses to express herself.

I am going to miss her smiles, that show one set of two teeth she has on either the top or bottom of her gums, that makes any tough guy or sad soul smile back!

I am going to miss her little body walking around the house, dragging a doll with one hand, eating the pages out of a book, digging though the toy boxes, or pulling things off shelves!

I am going to miss returning to her in her crib after she wakes up, standing grinning or sometimes whining at the sight of you, waiting for you to get her out.

I am going to miss the way she runs with delight and laughter, often times throwing herself on the ground to a quick crawl, after someone playfully chases after her threatening to get her!

I am going to miss her soft, chubby cheeks I can smother with kisses, her somewhat bald head (even though it leads strangers to mistaking her for a boy), her cute, little dagan that often comes to her aid when she falls down, and her tiny fingers she uses to randomly point at others or pick up specks of who knows what from the carpet!

I am going to miss her resistance to keeping still for diaper changes.

I am going to miss the simplicity of giving her a pretzel to pacify her when I'm not quite done shopping or when we're on the road and she isn't happy with her current situation!

I am going to miss her tight embrace around my legs when I am standing doing the dishes or walking and she needs me!

I am going to miss looking down at her while she sucks on my susu for milk with a look on her face that tells me she is being nourished and comforted.

I am going to miss having her wait on the other side of the bathroom door (I can imagine, wishing she could get her hands on some garbage in the trash can or dip her hands in the toilet water) while I help her sister go potty. 

I am going to miss the look on her face as something desirable comes into her view, like the dog's food on the kitchen floor, before sprinting after it!

I am going to miss slipping on small pants and shirts on her and seeing her walk or run in adorable, little shoes, hoping she doesn't fall down and hurt herself.

Someday, maybe not right now, I know I am going to miss having a house cluttered with toys and pots and pans all over the floor! I am going to miss the trail of mess left behind by an infant!

I am going to miss coming home to a little baby, lying in her dad's lap, enjoying a bottle of milk or coming home and being greeted with a smile from the ground!

I am going to miss being able to hold her with ease on my hip!

I am going to miss that funny way her lips turn when she is sad and about to cry!

I am going to miss her leaning against the chair I am sitting in at the dining table, looking up at me like a puppy dog wanting food!
I am going to miss my baby girl as she matures and moves into a different chapter of our lives, a different stage of her development.

I love my baby girl. Just watching her now, as I type, in the living room making adorable sounds and moving throughout the house exploring her surroundings makes me thankful to be a mom. Thankful for the happiness and strength she adds to my life. Thankful for the journey we started together, for what has been, and what is to come!

Little Children Are Not Little Adults

On many occasions as a student in college, in my pursuit of a degree in Education, I've had the discussion of how little children today are not only being encourage to dress up like little adults, but they are often treated or expected to act like one. Last night my 2 year old initially refused to have her dad help her brush her teeth because she wanted me to help her. I love my husband because he is not only patient and understanding with me, but with our kids and he demonstrated that again last night. Instead of demanding Enya let him help her despite her protest which experience has taught us, would ultimately lead to a crying, upset child, he asked her if she would like him to hold her by her legs while she hung upside down (her new favorite requests from dad). She was delighted to have him do that and it only took a few seconds. Afterwards, her attitude changed towards having him be there while she brushed her teeth. She let him help her. This experience reminded me of how often we as parents can expect our little ones to respond or behave like adults. And when we do, more times than not, we end up creating more work or more stress for ourselves. Take for example, what happened last night. I know that if my husband would have forced my daughter to let him help her after she made it clear she wanted me to help her, she would have completed the task, but she would have been unhappy and many times in similar circumstances when we don't let her have her way, she cries. (Yes, we can ignore her behavior when she throws fits, but sometimes it's not worth the trouble! Why not prevent the unpleasant behavior, all together? And in a way where her negative behavior isn't reinforced or in other words, we don't give her what she wants.) I love that this example illustrates there are other alternatives to spanking or yelling at your children. Alternatives that don't leave you as a parent with regret or disappointment and leave your child feeling upset or hurt.

My oldest is almost 3. Every day she challenges me to be patient with her and to see things from her point of view. I am learning that when I seek to be at her level and remember she is a child with a mind not as developed as mine, I need to be more understanding and more playful because that is how we will get along, that is how we have a happier mom and child. That is how I can meet my child's needs.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Let Them Be Happy

Yesterday being the first of the month, a Buddy the elf meme was circulating on Facebook with the caption: "It's November 1st...we're officially allowed to talk about Christmas." It got me thinking, there are 2 kinds of people in this world: people who put up their Christmas tree before Thanksgiving and people who absolutely refuse to put up their Christmas tree before Thanksgiving. Where do you stand? And why? This year we will be celebrating Thanksgiving at our place with my in-laws. Every past year in our married life, we have went to either my mother's house or my mother-in-law's house or both for Thanksgiving and that weekend following Thanksgiving, we put up our Christmas tree. I decided since we will be gathering at our place for the first time, I also want to put up our Christmas tree before Thanksgiving for the first time. I want it to be present during our family gathering. Contrary to what some may believe, I don't think it will take away from our Thanksgiving experience, in fact I want to do it because I feel that it will add to our Thanksgiving experience, a time we dedicate to being with our loved ones and feeling loved and thankful, feelings also associated with Christmas.

We all know someone who opposes putting up Christmas trees before Thanksgiving and from my experience, usually their stance is due to their belief that setting up your Christmas tree before Thanksgiving is an act of overlooking Thanksgiving or failing to fully enjoy Thanksgiving by not giving it all the attention it deserves. I can understand and appreciate where they are coming from (because there is virtue in learning to slow down and enjoy the moment) but I disagree with their argument knowing where my heart is. You don't know my reasoning behind my choices unless you ask me. By bringing in or engaging in anything resembling Christmas before Thanksgiving, I do not feel that by doing so I am forgetting or devaluing Thanksgiving. The bottom line is, don't find offense in those who put up their Christmas tree before Thanksgiving or those who start singing Christmas songs in October because if it isn't hurting anyone, then let them be. Many times they do it because it makes them happy. Let them be happy.

Oh and did you hear? This year the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree is coming from Idaho! It's actually the second time in history. You can read more about it here http://www.capitolchristmastree.com/ and here http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/article50986545.html!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Rice with...noodles?

Today, the weather being cloudy and dark with rain drops here and there, I desired to eat something warm and I could think of nothing better than soup! So many choices for soup. Pho soup or Thai noodle soup are my ideal choice of soup, but that would require spending money and driving to a restaurant. Next in line would be authentic ramen, not the cheap stuff out of a bag, but there isn't any place here in town that makes them. Of course I can attempt to make these soups myself, but my lack of motivation to work in the kitchen coupled with the knowledge that my creations just aren't going to be the same, allows me to settle for going without right now. My parents' delicious and fresh chicken soup with vermicelli noodles or their chalakiles soup would fall in the same category with the soups I've just mentioned: either I am too lazy to put it together or I don't want to leave this house on top of spending money to have someone cook for me! So I did the next best thing I can think of to meet my needs and get what I want...I did what we did many times growing up, I opened a can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup, cooked some rice, and combined them in a pot to simmer with corn. Was I satisfied? Not really, but from a health stance, I was no longer hungry and I managed to sustain my energy levels (oh and I'm pretty sure I prevented myself from having a headache)! As my age has increased over the years, so has my dislike for canned or processed foods, still I make room for them in my life for moments like today (or perhaps out of habit).

When I mentioned cooked rice, I'm sure some of you (particularly those of you who aren't accustomed to the way a large number of people eat in Guam) were perhaps confounded or appalled at the thought of eating rice and noodles together. Don't worry, I see where you're coming from. Who serves pasta and rice together? Many islanders do, in fact I can tell you a whole lot of Micronesians, Guamanians, and Filipinos do! Go to Guam or even Hawaii, and you will find a macaroni salad along side of your entree with rice. Heck, I know many Chamorros or other Micronesians and islanders (including me) who has tried spaghetti with rice. So there you have it. It is evident that the Chamorros or people from Guam love rice so much not only do they often have it three times a day, but they can eat it with pasta, and enjoy it. Another favorite pasta and rice combination in my family is beef stroganoff over rice! As any folk from Guam would tell you, you just got to have rice. A meal isn't complete without it...

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Remember Where You Came From

According to GUAMPDN, Guam is experiencing more power outages this month:

Power rationing started again Friday, in one-hour blocks, because two major power plants, capable of producing 110 megawatts combined, are once again out of commission, according to the Guam Power Authority. In addition, a third power plant is operating at less than half of its capacity, GPA said.

“With the loss of two baseload generators, the island-wide power system is short of generation capacity to meet demand for electricity,” according to a GPA statement Friday morning.

Rationing started at 2 p.m. Friday, said GPA spokesman Art Perez.

During the peak evening hours, demand for power can reach 250 megawatts, according to GPA.

As of noon, GPA had about 205 megawatts of supply, but 9 megawatts came from a solar farm that doesn’t have battery storage, so it can’t supply power at night."

About a week ago, it came to my attention on Facebook from some family members living in Guam, that they were dealing with a power outage and as in most cases, it was uncomfortable and inconvenient for various reasons. Being a resident of Idaho for about 10 years now, I have to say these recent power outages in Guam reminded me of how fortunate I am to be residing in a place where power outages are rare as opposed to being what I've always considered normal living in Guam. Growing up in the island, it was indeed common to experience power outages multiple times throughout the year, including during a typhoon passing through the island. About 3 years ago, I was also reminded then of how fortunate I was to have reliable, consistent electricity running in Idaho when I temporarily left the state and moved to Majuro, the Marshall Islands, not too far away from Guam, and made it my home for a year and a half. Prior to moving to Majuro, I can't recall having a power outage while living in Idaho in all of the 3 years I lived there. Yes, it's that uncommon. Anyway, the first power outage I experienced in Majuro brought me back to what it felt like living in Guam when I was younger. To be honest, it wasn't a negative experience for me. Because of my circumstances in Majuro, going through a power outage there allowed me to relive childhood memories unique to growing up in Guam, memories that I can say are tied to who I have become today. Let me explain what I mean by that.

Because of the challenges or inconveniences I often experienced growing up in Guam such as going through frequent power outages which brought about hot days and evenings, and mosquitoes (a great formula for irritated children and adults), along with having to improvise meals made with non-perishable foods like canned and processed foods in addition to having to cook food outside over a fire, and lastly, being forced to physically labor to wash our laundry by hand and hang out to dry, I know that these experiences have become tools I can use today to "survive" or to make the best of any situation Life throws at me. I remember how nights without power being in a room lit by candle set the stage for inviting the family to gather together to tell stories, both funny and scary, or to simply enjoy each other's company without various forms of the media and electronic devices working to pull us away from each other. Though we would have liked our air conditioner blowing to keep us cool and to be able to watch an anticipated movie on TV, we didn't dwell on our unfortunate circumstances and let it get us down, instead we found joy in the moment. Out of these, I guess you can call it, hardships (because let's face it, for those of us living in places like the States, how many people do you know today have no choice but to wash their laundry by hand and hang them on a line to dry or when is the last time you had to cook your food with a wood fire and I'm not talking about going camping), so yes because of these hardships, the virtues of patience, resilience, frugality, hard work, and optimism were instilled in me. They became a part of me. They contributed to the person you know me as today.

When I recall washing dirty laundry without a washer, these memories lack ebullience due to the fact that my wrist would burn and my back would ache from bending over from repeatedly scrubbing and wringing out clothes, however today I can look back at those moments with a smile and know that I did it. Our family did whatever we had to, to get by. Bring it on Life because I won't be defeated easily! 

All the lessons we have learned from past sufferings and adversities can be applied to other aspects of our lives. They can be used to our advantage like tools in a tool box there for us when we need them. Each of us have gone through tough times. We have accomplished tasks and experiences that weren't easy. When times are tough, think of that  phrase we hear often, "remember where you came from," (this applies to everyone from all walks of life) and if I may add, tell yourself, "I can do this and someday I can look back and be thankful or find a purpose or value in what this experience has "taught" me. You are tougher than you imagine. Remember that. You can do it!

On a spiritual note, for my Christian friends, remember where you came from in terms of your relationship to a Heavenly father. You are a child of God. There is nothing God will you give that you aren't capable of handling and he will not give you a task without any opportunity to succeed. He will provide a way for us or we can draw strength from him to fight and win the battles we encounter day to day. Seek his help. He wants to help you. He loves you.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Sailing the Pacific waters

From California and Idaho, my dinga' and I were able to watch events that took place in Guam for the Festival of the Pacific Arts earlier this week (thanks to Kuam news). During the opening day of FestPac, several Pacific islanders including Chamorros arrived in the village of Hagatña by sailing in the type of canoes their ancestors built and used to navigate through the waters of the Pacific. (For more information regarding traditional Chamorro vessels, click here http://www.guampedia.com/agadna-canoe-builders/)

As natives of Guam, we were proud to see our people participating in this special, opening ceremonial event celebrating our culture and remembering our past. As the Chamorro navigators reached land, they were welcomed by a crowd of locals and guests from over twenty Pacific nations, and there was a group singing in Chamorro (you can watch the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WL8BcGIvchU). After speaking to my twin sister about this particular scene, she mentioned how watching this event and hearing our native language sung was an emotional experience for her (as it was for me). Alongside a sense of cultural pride, she felt a sense of sadness for not being able to understand the words of what was being sung, especially when her little boy asked her what were they saying. She was very happy and very sad at the same time.

Two years ago, a few months after my firstborn was born, I had an overwhelming, emotional experience similar to what my sister felt while watching that scene with her son. As a result of that experience, I was determined that I was going to learn Chamorro no matter what it took and despite the challenges I have to overcome. Why? Because of my daughter. She was my inspiration. Although she is not being raised in Guam, as part of my legacy and her heritage, I want her to know about her mother's roots to Guam and the Chamorro people. I strongly feel that one of the best ways I can strengthen her bond and mine as well with our Chamorro heritage and culture is to learn the Chamorro language and use it everyday. Make it a normal part of our lives. Yes indeed, it is sad to not be able to understand and speak your native language, the language that was spoken by your people long ago including your grandparents. I always thought it was a sad fact that the Chamorro language is threatened with extinction, but only until I became a mom did it hit me that the sorrow lies in not being able to give my children the gift of knowing and being able to speak the language which is an important aspect of their Chamorro heritage! What's even more tragic is not doing anything about it or failing to see that I can play a role in reversing the tide. Together we can make a difference. Think of the difference one person or one family can make in preserving the language for future generations to come by learning, speaking, and teaching the language to others, especially young people and children!

I know I I still have a long way to go, it's as if I just set off on a voyage to learn Chamorro and I can still see the shore, there's always room to improve and more to learn, but I have already learned so much and so has my daughter who is now a toddler! Thus far it has been a wonderful journey these past two years of studying the language on my own and speaking it with my daughter and husband who is a native of Idaho. It has brought me so much joy to hear Chamorro words come out of my family's mouths and to say something and know that they understand what I am saying! And you know what, when I watched that video and heard my language sung, it was an amazing feeling to be able to recognize words and phrases!

Before my grandmother died in 2010, I couldn't speak to her in Chamorro, at all. Or I barely understood her when she spoke to me in Chamorro. I always thought it was cool that some of my brothers understood the language and could speak back to her in Chamorro. I never imagined I could speak Chamorro at their level. Now I believe I can and it's a great feeling. I know if my grandma was alive, she would be so proud of my efforts and accomplishments. As I look back to my past and see myself now, though I haven't been on this voyage very long, I have come a long way and I am happy of where I am at today! Proud that I am learning Chamorro, speaking it (even if at this point I don't pronounce everything perfectly or understand everything my dad says when he comfortably and thus rapidly speaks Chamorro), and I am passing on what I know to my family! I will remain on this journey for the rest of my life. I know there will be typhoons along the way, but like my ancestors and the people of the Pacific, I will not let heavy rain and strong winds destroy my faith and determination. I will move on and make do with what I have and try my best. Where there is a will, there is a way. If it means that much to you, you will find a way, right? You won't make any excuses, give up easily, or take the easy way out. If I can do it, you can too! Join me on this ride that will give life to our culture, connect generations, remember our history, and show the world who we are as Chamorros. It's not too late to set sail and begin learning, using, sharing, teaching and living the Chamorro language!