Barcelona Summer Packing List

Barcelona Packing List_1
Photo courtesy of

Hola amigos! I thought I’d share my packing list to Barcelona before I depart. One of my favorite pass times is to pin packing lists on Pinterest. Bonus points if the packing list takes on the minimalistic approach. Luckily, I was able to pack in under an hour! My packing list is greatly inspired by the pin above. Read on for the items I am bringing with me on my first trip to Europe!


What’s in my carry-on backpack: 

  • 4 tops (2 short-sleeve, 2 sleeve-less)
  • 2 skirts
  • 2 dresses
  • 1 pair of dark wash jeggings
  • 1 black spandex shorts
  • sundress for sleeping
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 2 bras (1 regular, 1 strapless)
  • 6 panties
  • 1 scarf
  • Not pictured: 1 pair of Sseko sandals
  • Travel outfit: 1 pair of Skechers slip on sneakers, black tank top, black running capri leggings, 1 chambray long sleeve button up shirt

What’s in my purse:

  • Nikon coolpix point and shoot camera
  • Headphones
  • wordsearch
  • passport/phone case (with the items)
  • EOS lipbalm
  • phone charger

In makeup bag:

  • Foundation
  • Concealer
  • Buffing brush
  • Neutral lipstick
  • Hairties/bobby pin
  • Tweezers

*Not pictured: toiletry bag w/ liquids, toothbrush, comb, contacts, etc.

my belongings

That’s basically it! I was able to use my school backpack and still have room leftover to place my Nikon camera (with it’s case) inside the backpack. To make it more organized, I placed all my electronic cords in a mesh bag and stacked and rolled my clothes. Seriously, the classic stack and roll is the way to pack! Until next time!

Peace, love, & blessings,


P.S: I won’t have time to blog while I’m abroad, but I’ll definitely share my experiences on Instagram!



Let’s Talk About Collaborations!

Hi everyone! I have some exciting news! Through blogging, I have been welcomed by such a positive community and am constantly connecting with new friends. In the past few months, I’ve connected with Jess from PTContender and one main thing we have in common is that we are both pursuing Physical Therapy! More specifically, Pre- physical therapy, since we’re both in the phase between post undergrad and pre-PT school. Jess reached out to me via Twitter and proposed that we should work together in creating a virtual Pre-PT club, Pre-DPT Society. I obviously agreed and now we’re here announcing our big collaboration! We both hope that our club will be a resource for other Pre-PT students to connect with each other and share ideas and advice on the crazy, intense, and sometime wild ride that we know Pre-PT to be! By following and joining our club, you’ll have access to interviews with licensed PTs and current PT students, article shares, interview/GRE advice, and much more!

So that’s my spiel on our virtual club! In order to get to know us better, Jess and I interviewed each other. Jess’s interview will be posted on this blog post and my interview will be up on Jess’s blog. Without further ado, here’s the club’s Founders Interview…

Samantha (Braidologie): How old are you? Where are you from?

Jess (PTContender): I’m 27, and grew up in Northwest Florida. I just moved to North Dakota last December and I’m having fun learning what ND life is like. 

S: Why do you choose to pursue Physical Therapy? What experience influenced your decision? 

J: My first time observing was an experiment. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and didn’t even know if I would continue observing if I didn’t like my first day. I chose PT because it’s challenging, it makes all the difference, and it’s all the things I’m interested in -health, wellness, exercise, nutrition, psychology, communication, how the body works — it’s so many things, and it just makes sense to me.

S: What did you major in for undergrad?

J: I majored in Exercise Science and loved it! Most people doing Exercise Science are trying to do PT, but I wasn’t. As soon as I graduated I wanted to go to work anywhere and start making money. So I took a job because it was a leadership position, and ended up getting bored, feeling unchallenged and started looking for other options. That’s when I began thinking about PT.

 S: What is the first thing you realized  when you started observation hours? 

J: When I shadowed a physical therapist for the first time, I watched a first time patient’s evaluation and realized a couple things: One- being a physical therapist is like solving a puzzle. Two- being a physical therapist is being a teacher. The PT did a number of movement and strength tests with the patient, then told the patient  what he thought was going on with his body and what their plan of care would be. After that eval, I’ve been all about pursuing PT, and haven’t looked back since!

S: In your opinion, what makes physical therapists stand out from other medical professions?

J: Physical therapists are the body’s movement experts! They heal people by teaching them how to correct bad habits we’ve all created over the years – like bad posture. Also, if someone has pain, they can help them figure out ways to eliminate or manage that pain by treating the cause and not just the symptom. They help the body heal itself through movement, exercise, and even nutrition.

S: What do you hope to accomplish in PT school? 

J: I hope to learn everything I can to help people heal through PT. I know I’ll have some side-goals, but that will be my main priority.

S: What is one misconception about Physical Therapy that you’d like to debunk?

J: I’d like people to know that it’s not just for injuries. A physical therapist can help with all phases of life, like before, during and after pregnancy!

S: Is there a certain specialty in the PT world that interests you the most? If so, do you plan on specializing?

J: I’m not sure if I plan on specializing yet. There are certain settings that I’ve preferred over others. During observation hours, for example, I liked pediatrics the least, and enjoyed outpatient clinic & the inpatient hospital the most.  

S: What is your main goal after PT school?

J: I know for sure I want to stay open-minded and help people heal. I also know that I’ll always crave creativity and a challenge. 

S: Any advice for those that also which to pursue Pre-PT?

J: Here are 3 things I keep in mind while pursuing my dream of being a PT:

  1. Don’t listen to negativity. We all know it’s competitive, and everyone tells us that it is. I just remember that thousands of others are PT’s, so why not me?
  2. Go all in. This is what I want, and I have to prioritize it over a lot of other things – I’m talking financial, social & leisure time.
  3. Get involved. I like to get involved on social media. There is a huge PT community on Twitter, Instagram and even Snapchat! I have learned a lot about the profession and met a lot of inspiring people just by getting involved on social. If you want to get involved on Twitter, just let me know and I will give you names of people you should definitely follow!

 And that sums up Jess from PTContender in a nutshell! My answers to these questions will be posted on Jess’s blog soon. Jess is a really cool person and I encourage you all to check out her blog! I also feel compelled to tell you that Jess and I haven’t met in person (yet) and our passion for PT is what led us to this exciting collaboration! It’s truly amazing what we can accomplish with technology these days.

We would love to get your feedback on Pre-DPT Society, since we’re pioneering in uncharted territory! For those interested in joining, what do you want us to cover in the Pre-PT world? Who should we interview? Let us know in the comments and feel free to reach out on our social media (links below)!

Peace, love, & blessings,


Instagram | Facebook | Twitter 

Jess from PTContender: Instagram | Snapchat | Twitter

How to Get Free Products Using Social Media

Disclaimer: This blog post in NOT sponsored by Influenster in any way.

Yes, you got that right: you can get free products using your social media! I recently discovered the website, Influenster, and have been having a great experience. In essence, Influenster is a site that has honest product reviews from its users and utilizes social media analytics to measure its users social media influence. Once the user syncs his/her social media accounts on the site, an ‘Impact Score’ is made and is used as scale to qualify the user for a free box of sample products, also known as a VoxBox. Each VoxBox has a different theme and has a variety of products.

Looking back, I’d say that the time it took for me from signing up to actually receiving a box was about 3 weeks. I created my account on May 2nd and connected my social media, received an email about being on the shortlist for a VoxBox on May 8, and found out that I would receive one on May 10. The Glow VoxBox came in seven days later.

The shortlist is Influenster’s way of letting you know that your account is on a ‘shortlist’ of names to get a VoxBox. By completing different surveys on the site, you make your own profile of what products you like (and don’t like). This helps Influenster sort out which types of VoxBoxes you’d actually like to receive and essentially try out the products and review them.

Since I previously reviewed various beauty products, I was on the shortlist to receive the Glow VoxBox. The free products included:

  • Nail polish from the Sinful Colors Desert Divas Collection- Super Cooper ($1.99)
  • Not Your Mother’s Naturals Honey & Kalahari Desert Melon Repair+Protect Leave In Conditioner ($8.99)
  • Flash Tattoos: Child of Wild ($25) & Chloe, Dakota, Lena, Nikki, Zahra ($20)
  • SheaMoisture African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask ($14.99 for 6 oz.)
  • SheaMoisture African Black Soap Problem Skin Facial Wash & Scrub ($9.99 for 4 oz.)

*The total amount of the Glow VoxBox (retail size) checks out to be $80.96 (and I got this box for FREE :O)


Overall, I am very happy with the free sample products I received and am excited to try them out! I don’t know about you, but the feeling of getting a package delivered to you is exciting, even moreso when you know that you got it for FREE. For those that are curious to see what Influenster is all about, I highly encourage that you visit the site and maybe even make an account. If you are curious about the products I reviewed prior to receiving the Glow VoxBox, click here. I will most likely write up my product reviews on my Influenster page and not on the blog because it is more convenient. Until next time!

Peace, love, and blessings,


Catch me on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Right Now, Currently, This Month: May

may update
The May cover on my planner 🙂

Hello lovely readers (mom and friends, I see you!) IT’S MAY! I cannot believe that it’s already May! This means that I am graduating from undergrad in just 9 days and I am feeling ALL OF THE FEELINGS (happy, excited, scared, terrified, etc). Since my last blog post, I’ve had some fun exciting experiences. I’ve been more consistent in getting back on the road and logging in some miles and also going to yoga class at m university’s gym. The most exciting experience though was going to Chance the Rapper’s concert for the first time! I went with my brother and I can honestly say that the concert was fantastically amazing! I would definitely go to another concert again because Chance is such an amazing and humble artist, he’s a great live performer, and his concerts are just SO LIT!

Anyways, here is my monthly musings of what I am up to and what I am currently listening to:

Loving: my family + friends

Eating: more vegetables

Drinking: coconut coffee (It’s finals week!)

Watching: Netflix series of Dear White People (discover your wokeness, peeps)


Reading: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Texting: friends

Playing: nothing? More like stu(dying)

Celebrating: Graduation

Listening: DAMN. (Kendrick Lamar)

Buying: SAVING

Pinning: graduation cap ideas

Planning: my summer

Visiting: Europe (hopefully! fingers crossed, prayers up)

That’s basically it! Now back to study mode I go. Have a great week! 🙂

May the Fourth be with you,


Making Adventures in Memphis, Pt. 1

For my senior year of undergrad, I joined my professional fraternity’s (Phi Epsilon Kappa) research team. We studied Kinesio Tape and its effect on force output. In layman’s terms we were curious if KT Tape had any effect on one’s sport performance. This whole process lasted all of fall semester and most of spring semester. In the fall, our main focus was working on our IRB and abstract. The IRB is basically a document that describes our hypothesis, our experimental design, and our participant group. The abstract is a more succinct version of the IRB and was required to submit in order to present at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research. Our IRB was approved during winter break and our abstract was accepted by NCUR the beginning of spring semester. Long story short, we tested a total of 24 participants (12 male, 12 female), in three conditions: 1) No KT tape, 2) KT applied for facilitation, and 3) KT applied for inhibition. With the help of our research advisor, we analyzed our data using statistical analyses and found that in terms of muscle recruitment, KT Tape has no effect on force output. We suspected this in the beginning since there isn’t really a lot of research on this topic. Now we can share our findings with our peers and colleagues in Memphis!

Our research trip to Memphis is 5 days long: two of those days will be designated for the actual research conference and the remaining three days will be for exploring. I was quite excited to prepare for this trip since I am slightly obsessed with traveling. Admittedly, I was just excited to finally follow one of the many packing lists I have pinned on my Pinterest board! ^_^ Since I did the Project333 minimalist fashion challenge, packing for this trip was actually quite simple.

Day 1: Traveling to Memphis, TN

We flew out of Sacramento to Houston, then got on a connecting flight to Memphis. We were basically traveling the whole day since we had to drive up to Sacrament from Stockton (45 minutes). The flight from Sacramento to Houston took around 3.5 hours, but with the time change to Central Time, the flight felt longer. Something really interesting (that might not be the most accurate word lol) happened on this flight. I won’t go into too much detail (as it will be a chapter of my Brown Gal Chronicles), but it does involve racial generalizations.

Flying from Houston to Memphis took an hour and ten minutes, so it was shorter. This flight had a lot of turbulence, apparently remnants of the storms that Atlanta experienced that day. Other than the turbulence, this flight was pretty uneventful- I was able to fill out my reimbursement forms and get a little bit of sleep.

Day 2: Settling In- NCUR & Midtown

Once we got our stuff settled into the hotel and got a little more sleep, we went to the University of Memphis for NCUR. We checked in and tried to find the place where we would be presenting at the next day. As we walked around the campus, there were two things I noticed. The first was how spread out the campus is. The buildings on UM’s and Memphis, are physically wider and more spaced out than the buildings in California. This did not bode well for my feet and the black flats I wore, but I digress.

After finding our presenting spot, my research team and I went to the campus’s art museum, where they housed mummies. This mini museum is probably one of the coolest museums I’ve visited because it had interactive exhibits about social/cultural normalcy, war propaganda, and an empty white wall adorned with the words “Who Run The World”. Of course this reminded us of Beyonce’s anthem and we had a mini photoshoot!

We decided explore off campus and go to Memphis’s Midtown and find a cafe where we could prep for our presentation. We used Lyft to get to Muddy’s Cafe & Bake Shop (on Young and Cooper) to study. Before deciding on Muddy’s, we also checked out the cafe, Otherlands Coffee Bar, which is a block away. Otherlands is the epitome of hipster cafe meets garden shop, meets bar. Their setup is both eclectic outdoors and indoors, with plants and couches inside and psychedelic murals on the exterior. Since this cafe was somewhat crowded, we decided on studying at Muddy’s. In contrast, Muddy’s is the ultimate charming Southern cafe because of the quaint interior design and rustic country exterior. I would go back for their Chai iced tea, but not to study because their wifi was spotty.

Once we felt ready and prepped for our presentation, we decided to walk South along Cooper St. to find a place to get dinner. As we walked on, I noticed that the locals don’t really get out and walk around, most drive. Due to the lack of cultural diversity and the fact that a group of young women with heavy backpacks, it felt like all eyes were on us as we walked. I could be wrong, we didn’t really see any Hispanic or Asian people apart from the students there for NCUR. For me, this lack of diversity it felt a bit strange because seeing and interacting with people of all different races was normal growing up.


We decided to split ways for dinner: two decided to eat at an Italian restaurant and me and a friend ate dinner at the restaurant, The Beauty Shop. I would describe this restaurant as American cuisine, with a modern culinary twist, in a retro setting. The Beauty Shop is interiorly designed with vintage hair-dryer chairs and glass-brick booths. I ordered the Shrimp a la Plancha & Grilled Avocado and the Belgian Style Fries with the Truffle black pepper Parmesan. It was good, but not very filling since the shrimp was basically an appetizer. I was careful in choosing a dish that wasn’t pricey, but in hindsight, I should have chosen another dish because I would get reimbursed for it anyway.

I’ll pause the trip recap here, because if I go any further this post will probably be 2,000 words long.  From just my first two days in Memphis, I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the locals are. Every local I encountered was very welcoming, friendly, and approachable. You may be thinking “but Sam, you’re from California, aren’t Californians the nicest people?!” To that, I say we may be nice, but we’re not Memphis-nice…

Peace, love, & blessings,



Project 333: Month 3 Update & Final Conclusions

I DID IT! I went 3 months with just 33 items in my closet! I can’t believe I’m already done with this challenge- it feels like I started it yesterday! To recap: #Project333 is a minimalistic fashion challenge created by Courtney Carver of the blog, Be More With Less. The basics of this challenge is to live with 33 items of items for 3 months, hence the 333. I started this challenge back in mid-January and just completed it on Easter Sunday.

If you missed my introductory post about #Project333, including the rules and whatnot, you can find it here.

During the beginning of my challenge, I had originally planned to do a weekly recap of my outfits, but then I realized the “Hey guys this week I wore..” post would be a little too repetitive. So instead, I did a monthly recap and added some things I learned about myself throughout that entire month.

The collages below include all my outfits for the third and final month of this challenge. I’d say some of my most worn products were the dark wash jeggings and purple converse. I was already in a groove by the time the last month came around and it was really nice because I looked out together most of the time. I learned that my go to outfit I went to when I was in a rush was a nice shirt/blouse with a scarf and pants. I might have already mentioned this, but I’ll reiterate that no one noticed that I was wearing the same pants or leggings consecutively. Most of my friends didn’t even know that I was doing this challenge unless I had previously told them.

I did come close to breaking my rule of not shopping for new clothes. My professional fraternity’s formal was recently and I almost went shopping for a new jumpsuit to wear to the event. Fortunately, I decided against it and wore the black dress that was already in my 33 items. Funny enough, this was the only time I wore the dress, in all of the 3 months. I wore the same dress to last year’s formal and got even more compliments this time because I rocked the dress. Black never goes out of style, it’s timeless!

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Back to the bigger picture: in the 12 weeks of my Project 333 challenge, I created 84 outfits from just 33 items. I honestly believe that I could create more outfits with my 33 item capsule wardrobe. So here is my round up post of Project 333, here we go…

My biggest takeaway from the challenge..

In the beginning, I thought my biggest takeaway would be to gain greater creativity from creating different outfits from a limited wardrobe but I’d classify this as one of the best things of the challenge.

My biggest takeaway was realizing how much unnecessary stuff I have in my life and how I put value on material things.

When I chose my 33 items at the beginning of the challenge, I put the rest of my clothes in garbage bags and didn’t touch it. Most of the stuff in those boxes are old and ill fitting on me. The reason why I still have them is due to sentiment and an unhealthy motivation to ‘fit back into those clothes’. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. We all have that one blouse or those pair of jeans that are just a little too tight but we still keep them to use as motivation to lose weight. Not only is this unhealthy and unattainable, it also makes us add unnecessary pressure on ourselves and value beauty on a physical level.

Through out this challenge, I learned to be more accepting of the changes my body has gone through. My body is no longer as thin as it was when I ran cross country in high school. My body is curvier and my legs are stronger because I added strength training to my exercise routine. With these changes, of course my old jeans won’t fit anymore. I stopped focusing so much on my weight and size and instead focused on how my body feels. When you feel healthy and are getting in enough exercise and eating enough whole foods, little things such as waist size shouldn’t hold a high standard in your mind.

Since I didn’t shop for clothes for 3 months, I had more time to read books I’ve been meaning to read. I also had more time to myself and write about my thoughts. I spent most of my downtime with family and friends, where we actually did things besides shopping. We place so much our time and value into material things, we should really putting that effort into having different experiences.

Did I get bored?

I rarely got bored with this challenge. Refer to best things about this challenge (below).

What were my most worn items?

Definitely my black leggings, dark was jeggings, chambray shirt and scarves. I also wore my dark brown boots quite a bit to get me through the rainy weather.

Was there anything I didn’t wear?

Hah, yes! I didn’t end up wearing my white blouse with black polka dots because I forgot about it (and it no longer fit me haha). So really, I did this challenge with 32 items 😉

Best thing about the challenge?

Having a uniform. Every morning, I spent maybe 5 minutes getting dressed because I already had an idea of what I wanted to wear. The best thing about this was knowing that I would look good with whatever I chose that day since most of the items meshed well together. This made my confidence soar, which positively translated to how I carried myself.

Hardest thing about the challenge?

Aside from almost breaking the no shopping rule, nothing was hard about this challenge. If anything, I was motivated to create a new outfit for each day of the challenge.

Will I keep it up?

I would like to! I need to replace some of the items in my capsule wardrobe like my black flats. After the Memphis trip, I retired my black flats and am currently looking for black flats and casual shoes that are comfortable, stylish, and stood in for long periods of time.

I love the idea of changing the wardrobe based on the seasons. I feel like this approach is better for me, only because my wardrobe isn’t very ‘interchangable’ (yet). If I do this challenge again, I’ll approximate the 33 since it is a good amount to strive to and keep less hangers in my closet.

Interested in taking on the Project 333 challenge?

YAS! You definitely should! For more information on how to get started and what the rules of this challenge are, check out Courtney Carver’s website Be More With Less. Her blog is a wonderful resource for minimalist living and decluttering your life, so definitely visit her blog. It will be worth your time! 🙂

Hope you have a  wonderful week!



Minimalista’s Packing Guide to Memphis (Business Casual)

Hello! I’m back home now and am in the last few weeks of undergrad!! Anyway, I just wanted to share my packing list for my Memphis trip. I was able to write part of my blog post on the plane. Since welcoming the Project 333 challenge into my life, packing for this trip was definitely faster than normal, as I had a limited wardrobe to choose from. Luckily, I had chosen pieces that could be worn in a business casual setting! I was really excited to finally use one of the many packing list pins I found on Pinterest. My approach to packing for this trip is heavily based on the picture below:


It is important to note that I fit all of these items in a carry on luggage (I was not about to pay for those crazy expensive check in bag fees!) Here’s what I brought with me for 5 days in Memphis:

In my carry on:

  1. Dark wash skinny jeans (1)
  2. Black & white striped skirt (1)
  3. Red slacks (1)
  4. Black dress (1)
  5. One piece swimsuit
  6. Chambray button up (1)
  7. Black blazer
  8. Black tank top
  9. Navy blue, sleeveless printed blouse
  10. Tan knit blouse
  11. Black long-sleeve blouse
  12. 1 pair of pajamas
  13. Running leggings (1)
  14. Running shorts (1)
  15. Running shirts (2)
  16. Black wedges (1 pair)
  17. Black flats (1 pair)
  18. Curling wand
  19. Toiletries bag
  20. Makeup bag
  21. Kipling hand wallet
  22. Kipling purse

 In my backpack (personal items bag):

  1. Laptop
  2. Camera (my small point and shoot, red Nikon Coolpix & not my blogging bridge camera)
  3. Bag for chargers
  4. Headphones
  5. Book (The Lore of Long Distance Running)
  6. Folder with envelope for receipts, exercise metabolism notebook, and scratch paper
  7. Wallet
  8. Hand sanitizer
  9. EOS lip balm

 Departure Outfit (Sacramento to Memphis)

  1. Black puff jacket (foldable from Costco, I believe the brand is 32º)
  2. Pashmina scarf
  3. Light blue running shirt
  4. Black running leggings (3/4 pant)
  5. Running shoes (Purple New Balance)

Homecoming Outfit (Memphis to Sacramento)

  1. Black puff jacket
  2. Purple multicolored running capris
  3. White running shirt
  4. Running shoes

I wore everything I packed except for the black dress, 1 running shirt and short, and my swimsuit. One item that was my favorite was the black puff jacket I brought. This jacket is so light in weight, but can also keep me warm in chilly weather. The best part is that I can fold it small enough to fit in my backpack- it even comes with a pouch!

If I could go back and change my packing list, I would have brought more comfortable black flats since the pair I ended up bringing had no arch support whatsoever and were already breaking down (the insole of the right flat was starting to come off). By the third day, the insole had detached completely. With the items I brought along, I honestly think that I could have create new outfits for an extra week. With that said, I am currently in the market for black flats that have good arch support, durable, stylish, and can be worn for long periods of time.

That’s basically it! I am currently working on my trip recap and it should be up soon 🙂 Other than that, I had a really positive experience in Memphis and am thankful for all the hard work that my team and I put in this school year!

Peace, love, & blessings,


Right Now, Currently, This Month: April

Hola! I can’t believe I’m already writing a blog post in April! Can you believe that a quarter of 2017 has already passed?! (because I can’t!). In other news, spring break has passed and the semester continues on. The research team and I have finished our KT Tape study: the results are in and drumroll please…. KT Tape doesn’t enhance sport performance! I wasn’t really surprised because I was already skeptical of KT Tape and my thoughts were proved once we ran statistical analyses on or results. There is still research to be done though, as we only tested on young, recreationally active, healthy individuals. We are presenting our findings at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research this Thursday in Memphis, TN! In addition to the conference, I am excited to explore the city and try their food 🙂 Anyways, here’s my monthly journal for April!

Loving: my family

Eating: Afghan food (recently at Kabul in San Carlos and LOVED it, definitely recommend visiting!)

Drinking: water & tea

Watching: Ingobernable (new Spanish Netflix original)

Going: to class and work, of course!

Reading: “The Lore of Running”-Tim Noakes

Texting: my research team

Playing: Hamilton and Moana soundtracks

Celebrating: Easter

Listening: to 90s R&B

Buying: a badass jumpsuit to wear to formal (& SAVING)

Pinning: packing lists

Planning: my summer adventures!

Visiting: Memphis, TN

So that is what’s happening this month! I’m also thinking of possibly registering for my 3rd half marathon in May. I’ve been running pretty consistently lately and would love to see if I could PR… off to school and work I go!

Peace, love, and blessings,


Tackling The Road: Running for Beginners

One of the first things people will learn about me is that I love to run. That’s right, I just did use the words ‘love’ and ‘run’ in the same sentence. There are people that absolutely detest running and don’t quite understand why runners choose this form of cardio. I could go on and on about the reasons why I love to run (in fact I even wrote a post about it, which you can find here) but I won’t in this post. Like the title of this post, my main purpose is to provide a beginner’s guide in adopting running as a lifestyle.

In the past, I’ve had some friends genuinely interested in taking up running as a lifestyle change and come to me for advice. First of all, it makes me so happy when my friends seriously give running a try because it’s one more aspect we can bond over. Second, it is extremely humbling when people go to me for advice because it shows that they trust my opinion. Before I continue with my guide, I’d like to disclose that I am not a certified Personal Trainer, coach, or licensed Physical Therapist (yet!), I am simply speaking from personal experience! Whether you have been regularly exercising and want to add running to your routine OR if you are totally new to the wonderful world of running, my guide is universal to both situations of the spectrum. Now without further ado, here is my Beginner’s Guide to Tackling the World of Running:

  1. Start walking: Yep you got that right! Run walking that is! As tempting as it may seem to go out and start pounding the pavement at full speed for as long as you can, the risk for injury and pain increases with this approach. Instead, adopt a walk/run workout of 2:1. For example, add 1 minute of running to every two minutes of walking. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend running so that it will eventually double the time spent walking. If you are consistent with this method, you will eventually be able to run a mile no problem.
  2. Get fitted for shoes: With the many GPS watches and various running gadgets out in the market, running shoes will forever hold the title for most important. Running in worn out shoes is a huge call for injury, it is best to get fitted at a running specialty store. When shopping for shoes, shop for function and not aesthetic. By this I mean, really pay attention to your feet’s needs; Are you flat footed or do you have a high arch? Will you be running on trails or mostly pavement? Are you a pronator or a supinator? These things matter and can serve as a guideline to what types of shoes you purchase. Just because your friend looks really cool in those new Nike Frees does not mean you should run in them too! Happy feet equals a happy run, so don’t disrupt the balance! The miles will be comfortable and your body will thank you!
  3. Relax and Run Tall: When I ran cross country in high school, my coach made it a point to teach us how to run properly. Oh yes, there is a proper way to run. I was skeptical at first when he said long distance runners are notorious for having bad running form but that quickly changed when he videotaped me running across the track. My video playback showed my arms crossing at the front of my chest, my shoulders shrugged up towards my ears, and worst of all, the dreaded heel strike. From then on, my coach made us do exercises that you help us change our running form. One exercise we had to do was to sit cross legged on the ground with a relaxed upright posture (shoulders down and relaxed). We had to bend our elbows at 90 degrees and do arm swings for 30 seconds. “Hands relaxed! Feed the bird!” he barked at us. By feeding the bird, he had us imagine that we had an imaginary bird sitting atop our shoulders and to feed it whenever our hands came up. In doing this, you don’t expend as as much energy swinging your arms forward as opposed to swing them across your body. Heel striking is bad because it places the shin bone (tibia) in a position to absorb most of the shock and force with each step that makes contact with the ground. This can lead to injuries like shin splints. In order to combat this, we worked on a forward leaning posture will running. By leaning forward you are in a better position to ‘catch’ yourself from falling by landing on your midfoot. Midfoot striking displaces the force absorption to your calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) instead of the tibia.
  4. Slowly ease into it and warm up properly: Start out small, like running a mile everyday or every other day, depending on your fitness level. If a mile sounds too daunting, run half a mile every other day. Adjust the mileage to what you are comfortable with and capable of. Then each week, slowly add more miles. Learn to warm up the right way! Since I am studying health, exercise, and sport science, I have learned that the correct way to warmup is to do dynamic stretching before your workout/run and static stretching post workout/run. Dynamic stretching involves momentum and active effort used to stretch the muscle; there is no hold position. Examples of this would be leg swings, jumping jacks, butt kickers, high knees, etc. These allow more blood flow to the muscles, warming them up and giving them oxygen. In contrast, static stretching is what is typically thought of as stretching; it is basically a stretch and hold. Static stretching is best done after a run if you are still feeling sore or tight. Static stretching before a workout may potentially make you at risk for injury or even slow you down. Think of your muscles like a rubber band, if you stretch it out before exercise it won’t have as much resistance, making it looser.
  5. Maintain a healthy diet and hydrate properly: Clean up your diet by eating more fruits and vegetables! If there is anything I learned this semester in my Exercise Metabolism class, it is that fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans are a wonderful source of complex carbohydrates. Green leafy vegetables are your best bet when it comes to getting enough Vitamin A and E. Limit the amount of processed foods you consume. Try to buy goods around the perimeter of a grocery store the next time you shop; the majority of processed foods are located towards the middle of the store. Instead of soda and/or juice, drink water instead. Since I have a water bottle on me most of the time, I am reminded to stay hydrated. In regards to water and exercise, make sure to drink early and often. If you drink large amounts of water in a short period of time, you increase your chances of getting water poisoning.
  6. Set small, achievable goals: In my experience, setting big goals such as running 35 miles a week can be daunting especially if you are a new runner or an experienced runner coming back from a hiatus. Small, achievable goals like running 10 minutes each day or even running with a friend on a certain day each week are good motivators in staying active each day. When you surpass a goal, you start to create slightly harder ones to work towards. Soon enough you’ll be signing up for your first 5K! This is honestly how my dad progressed his fitness journey. When he started running, he couldn’t even run a mile without stopping but eventually he ran a little bit each day and was soon racing his first 5k. Then, as his ability to run longer distances got better, he worked up to a 10k, a 10 mile race, a half marathon, and even a full marathon. The great joy (and perhaps curse) of running is that you really get out what you put in.
  7. Be consistent! Stick to a schedule! My current fitness routine has me running on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings before my classes start and strength training on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Write your schedule done on a sheet of paper and hang it on your wall, that way you’ll see it and be motivated to workout. Working out with a friend is also helpful in keeping yourself accountable. Also, don’t forget to rest as well. With adequate sleep and gradual increase in mileage, you are slowly easing your muscles into the physical stress running adds and allowing them to recover. Over time,  as the miles become easier, your muscles get stronger, your lungs get more efficient in gas exchange, allowing you to handle increased mileage, speed, and overall endurance.
  8. Be patient! Whether you are running for weight loss or running to train, it is important that the physical changes you might expect to happen will not occur fast (and especially not overnight). Instead of focusing on a certain number of a scale, focus on how running or just general exercise makes you feel. Don’t ever compare your fitness journey to anyone else because everyone is different. There are a lot of factors that go into physical changes and effects of exercise, so be mindful of that.

So that is that is my guide on how to adopt running into your life! Again, I want to reiterate that these tips have come from personal experience and in no way are a substitute for the many running guides that currently exist. In fact, if you want a more in depth guide to running, Runner’s World has a great guide, which can be found here. For the runners out there, what else would you add to my guide? What are your tips for taking up running? For the newbies to running, if you have any questions, please ask! Let me know in the comments!

Happy running!


On Body Image & Beauty Standards

I am, by traditional North American standards, exotic. With my long, straight, raven colored hair, coffee colored skin, muscular legs, and ‘flat’ nose are a stark contrast to the fair skinned, blond, blue eyed, ultra thin women often gracing the magazines today. Even by Philippine beauty standards, I am still somewhat exotic because of my above average height (I’m 5’7) for a Filipina girl and body type (think the child of curvy and muscular).

Being exposed to both American and Filipino beauty standards is sure interesting to  say the least because in most ways they are contradictory to each other. For example, while having tan skin is an attractive physical quality to have in the US, having a pale skin tone is more aesthetically acceptable in the Philippines. This ideal stems from the Spaniard caste system once put into place during the Spanish colonial era in the Philippines and was even more of a cultural ideal than an aesthetic one. As years progressed, the superiority of lighter skin was more perpetuated into Filipino culture due to the many celebrities and TV personalities endorsing several skin whitening products. The constant advertisement of these types of products screams the idea that ‘lighter skin is more attractive, therefore the epitome of beauty’.

My mind wasn’t conscious of the unique-ness and unconformity of my skin tone to the Philippine beauty ideal until I visited the Philippines when I was 14.Although this was almost seven years ago, I remember this day so vividly. I was walking through a shopping mall in Manila with my family enjoying the day until I caught a bit of side eye from a group of Filipino teenagers. It is as if my above average height  and the brown-ness of my skin was something they haven’t seen in person before. Their unforgiving bluntness made me feel uncomfortable in my own skin. Contrastingly, here in America, the color of my skin is the envy of some women.  It still baffles my mind that some people would spend money and risk their health to lie in a tanning booth just to achieve a darker skin tone. “How do always look tan all the time?” one lady dared to ask me. “It’s just my skin, I’m ethnic not tan!!” I wanted to yell at her, but instead I replied with “Dunno, maybe it’s because I run outside all the time..” Despite the stark differences in American and Filipino beauty standards on skin color, I’ve come to learn that it is much better for your mind if you embrace what you have and not lust after the things you don’t have and can’t control. It has honestly made me happier and more confident in my skin.

One major similarity present in American and Filipino beauty standards is the overwhelming pressure to stay thin. This also plays into a larger media and culture driven narrative that being thin equates to being beautiful (and that is ‘perfection’). From celebrities to Instagram models, the mirage of thinspiration plagues the minds of most young girls everywhere. I remember reading fashion magazines when I was younger and comparing myself to the models that graced the glossy pages. It was detrimental to my body image as I would internally berate myself about eating that extra slice of pizza or getting that extra scoop of ice cream. Mind you, I was around 10 at the time and was very athletic so doing this to myself was as unhealthy as it was unnecessary to my mental state.  I am fortunate enough in that I’ve never had an eating disorder but that isn’t the same case for many young girls nationwide.

While thinness isn’t so much the beauty standard now, there is still an underlying idea that thin means healthy. We need to start teaching and be an example our daughters, nieces, and friends that healthy comes in all shapes and sizes, not just stick thin. We also need to stop body shaming and comparing ourselves to other people. To me, healthy means strong and a body that is balanced physically, mentally, and spiritually. Now, I  place more value in my body being able to run a certain amount of miles or at a certain pace than how much of a gap my thighs have (there is no gap, my thighs will forever be thick because they were made that way – I have accepted this). As long as you are eating healthy and do some form of exercise everyday, then there is no need to stress over being ‘thin’. Thin is overrated, but healthy will forever be in style.

So that’s my take on the beauty standards of today and my though process of overcoming them. There is a saying that “comparison if the thief of joy” and that is especially true whenever we lust over a certain look that someone else has and put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to achieve that endless ideal. Instead, set a standard for yourself- whether it’s exercising more or not worrying about a thigh gap- and keep working towards it. As long as you are happy and healthy in your approach, then these ridiculous beauty standards won’t dictate how to live. And eat that extra slice of pizza or scoop of ice cream, your mind will thank you!

Peace, love and blessings,


Follow my adventures: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter