Taking Back My Corner on the Internet

A while back, I first posted what my blog title and tagline mean. I always wanted my blog to be a bank of my reflections, a space where I can express myself without being interrupted, which is always the case whenever I talk with somebody (except for my SO, who seems to wait for a few seconds after I stop talking before he replies, which I find endearing).

However, one big obstacle in running a personal blog is how to make it appealing to others while still using your own experience and thoughts as fodder for your posts. I mean, this is no longer the early 2000s when online journaling was popular and everybody was interested in what everybody is up to. Now, the Internet has spared a small percentage of bloggers who can still pull this off; the rest of us now seek our audience on Twitter and Facebook. I, however, am staying in WordPress, where there are many personal bloggers who are doing well.

Another thing I’m struggling with, though, is accepting my story, all the decisions I made, and all the events I’ve encountered that led me to who I am and where I am today. Because here’s one big disclaimer: my life is boring. I know this fact and I am trying to accept it, and I also know how this came to be. So why am I still adamant about putting up a personal blog, when I can barely find time to write and I don’t even have a good enough topic to write about? Well, I have one reason:

My life is not over. I don’t think it has even begun yet. I am in my 20s, I should have more control over my life by now. I have the power to make it more interesting. And I thought writing about my journey towards interestingness can resonate to those who also feel stuck. This may be my writing space, but I am hoping to be read and to engage in conversation with other people, too.

I hope you join me on this venture and share your thoughts on whatever I post, even if it’s bad–even if it’s so terrible that your comment might make me quit blogging for good. I promise I will make this worthwhile.

Let me hear your story

What made you start blogging? How long ago was it? Do your motivations back then still drive you to keep your blog alive?

Look Who’s Back

LOOK WHO'S BACK

Hi guys. I have been in a dry blogging spell lately, so I joined Blogging 101 to get some inspiration. As usual, I am late in participating, but I’ll do as much as I can before the course is over.

This post, in particular, is a response to Blogging 101, Day One: Introduce Yourself to the World, which was published last July 6.


My name is Nelle. I am turning 24 years old in August. I have a lot of interests and I love trying out new things, but I don’t really get to talk about them often.

I used to keep my own journal where I would write religiously every day. However, soon I got tired of it. It was like talking to a wall. When I put up my blog, I not only got to write what I wanted to, but I also got to interact with people who read my posts as well as with other bloggers who publish their own.

I discovered blogging when I was around 10 years old, but I didn’t start my own until I was 12. I mostly wrote about what happened on that day. It sounds boring, but back then my audience was my classmates and friends, some of whom also blogged about their daily experiences, and I loved sharing my adventures and reading about theirs.

Now that I’m older, I want to keep my blog personal, but this time I want to reach out to a bunch of strangers all over the world. It is a desire so daunting that I still have no idea how to do it, which is why I haven’t really blogged in a while.

When I started blogging again last January, I got on track to building what I thought was the blog I wanted. Since I was jobless for a few months, I increased my posting frequency from once a week to three times a week, and I also started categorizing my posts and have different themes each day to be more organized. However, my Internet connection started to suck and then I got a new job, so I wasn’t able to keep up.

Now that I found some time to blog (hello, lunch break), I have done some evaluating and I want a do over. I feel like I’ve gone through enough blogging identity crisis and it’s now time to figure out who I really am and what I want this blog to be. I am thinking about giving my blog a makeover, so you might see some changes in the theme, the sidebar content, and the sections at the top of the page. Heck, I might even change my header. Aside from these, I am also planning to make (and keep) an editorial calendar and an idea bank so that I’ll always have something to post.

On this blog, you’ll read mostly stuff about my recent thoughts and reflections and my memories of a distant past. Sometimes, you might also read about my latest challenge (cough, weight loss, cough), adventures, and whatever else I’ve been up to.

By the end of this year, I hope to have fully identified my blog’s focus and keep working that angle. I also hope to get used to writing and blogging everyday.


Mid-Year Performance: How Are Your New Year’s Resolutions Going?

Mid-Year Performance

In my Obligatory New Year’s Post, I resolved to lose weight as well as keep this blog active. Unfortunately, I neglected both goals for the past 3 months. Ever since I got a new job as a writer/web content manager in which I work an average of 60 hours a week, I had a hard time keeping up with my blogging habits and fitness routine. I also stopped being mindful of what I eat and have been binging on a lot of food. Because of this, I gained even more weight.

However, I am not giving up. I still have 6 more months to get fit, and I have tons of ideas for this blog that I do not want to let go of. I actually spent several weeks planning what’s next for my goals, but I forgot all of them when I read a post on /r/getdisciplined about setting a goal and forgetting about it, which I will talk about in my next post. Hopefully, by the end of the month, I’ll be used to blogging again (particularly with blogging using my iPad, like I’m doing now) that I will revive my other segments such as Motivation Monday. Let this be my “mid-year resolution”, though I am getting tired of making such stuff at this point.

How about you: Did you make any new year’s resolution for 2015? Are you still keeping them? Do you even remember what they were? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you!

How To Make Delicious Snacks with Almonds

On my last diet attempt, I tried to skip snacks and just eat three full meals a day. However, it only made me hungrier, leading me to overeat during most meals. Now I figured I should eat some snacks in between, and almonds seem to be a healthy snacking staple.
 
I thought about almonds because I learned that these delicious nuts give quite a number of benefits, such as lowering cholesterol, reducing blood sugar levels, rich in antioxidants, and weight control. According to International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, almonds can help obese adults lose weight easier compared to a diet high in complex carbohydrates or fiber such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. They also help you feel full, which could help in preventing overeating.
 
Being a curious but lazy butt that I am, I looked up some ways to make healthy and delicious snacks out of almonds that do not require too much preparation. Here’s what I got so far:
 
Almonds, Almonds, Almonds
 
The easiest and most obvious idea–all you have to do is buy some delicious almonds, and keep some at home, in your office, and in your bag in case you get hungry on the go.
 
Almonds + Yogurt
Yogurt with Apples and Almonds
Yogurt with Apples and Almonds from Sweet And Saucy.
Get plain yogurt and then add a tablespoon or two of almonds in it for some crunch. You can also add fruits like berries and banana so you won’t get sick of eating this. Try this Yogurt with Apple and Almonds recipe I found on Sweet and Saucy. If you want something sweeter, you can also try vanilla or chocolate pudding instead of yogurt.
 
Almonds in Your Protein Shake
 
Almond Dairy-Free Protein Shake by GoDairyFree.org
Almond Dairy-Free Protein Shake by GoDairyFree.org
If you’re at home or you have access to a blender, simply include chopped almonds to your protein shake ingredients, blend them together, and enjoy. This is also a delicious breakfast fix for those days when you are running late. Why not try this amazing Almond Dairy-Free Protein Shake recipe from GoDairyFree.org, which is great for persons with lactose intolerance.
 
Pesto Pasta with Almonds
 
Kale Pesto Pasta by Inspired Taste
Kale Pesto Pasta by Inspired Taste.
While this may require more time in the kitchen (also it’s more of a dinner than a snack, but then most of my late afternoon snacking becomes an early dinner anyway, so yeah), making pesto pasta doesn’t take a lot of effort. All you need are the pasta, olive oil, basil leaves, and almonds. Just cook the pasta, put the basil leaves and almonds in the food processor, then mix them all together with olive oil. I love eating pesto pasta for dinner, too, and if you want to have this as a full meal, you can add some leftover chicken or tuna flakes. Try this Kale Pesto Pasta recipe from Inspired Taste, which uses kale instead of basil leaves.
 
Almond Trail Mix
 
Trail Mix Recipe by HalfwayAnywhere
Trail Mix by HalfwayAnywhere
Of course, let’s not forget about the trail mix. This snack is so popular among dieters and non-dieters that I bet we all have our own recipes for it (Don’t have one? Try this!). For an almond version, feel free to use your favorite trail mix recipe, but instead of using chocolate candy, try adding Jordan Almonds. These are candy-covered almonds that are commonly served in weddings, but you can easily buy them in stores and online. Just like M&M’s, Jordan Almonds also come in different colors, making your trail mix look yummy to eat.
 
By Evan-Amos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
There are so many ways to add almonds to your diet, whether it’s for a snack or a full meal. With these simple ways of healthy snacking you can do right now, you will be able to curb your appetite and hopefully solve your overeating problem in no time.
 
Do you have other healthy snack ideas? Let me know in the comments!

FITNESS FRIDAY: 5 Health and Fitness Apps I Use and Love

In my efforts to lose weight, I found some iPhone and iPad apps to help me out.

A screenshot of C25K app's free version. The paid version doesn't show any ads like the one at the bottom of the screen.
A screenshot of C25K app’s free version. The paid version doesn’t show any ads like the one at the bottom of the screen.

C25K Free. My main companion during my runs, the C25K Free app has a timer and a voice “coach” that alerts you when it’s time to warm up, run, walk, and cool down. I appreciate that it also lets me know when I am halfway through the workout or when I have 1 minute left before cool down–these alerts motivate me to keep running even when I’m tired, because I know it will be over soon. Once the run is over, I get to share it on Twitter (you can also share it on Facebook)  and log my workout on MyFitnessPal. The problem is, for some reason, the workout is logged on the next day instead of the current day, but other than that the app works really well. C25K Free is available on iOS and Android.

Photo 3-12-15, 10 50 15 PM
A screenshot of Interval Timer app for iOS.

Interval Timer (Free). Before I discovered that there is actually a C25K app, I used to time my runs using Interval Timer. I love how customizable each set is–I can set the timer for every high interval and low interval, and for how many sets I will do. I can also set a unique sound for each alert. Although I prefer the C25K app over this one, I recommend Interval Timer for those who do timed workouts. Interval Timer (Free) is available on iOS.

A screenshot of My Fitness Pal app's home page.
A screenshot of My Fitness Pal app’s home page.

MyFitnessPal (Free). A few years ago, I went online every day to log my calories on MyFitnessPal, but I stopped sometime after. Last year, my SO told me about the app, so I tried using it again (mainly so I can add him as a friend there). I love how easy it is to log my food, my weight, and my workouts. I also appreciate the report shown after logging everything I ate for the day and see how I would weigh in 5 weeks if I keep eating the same thing every day. It effectively puts into perspective how the amount of what I am eating affects my weight. You can use MyFitnessPal on your web browser, iOS, and Android.

A screenshot of Simply Yoga (Free). That is actually a video demonstrating the pose.
A screenshot of Simply Yoga (Free). That is actually a video demonstrating the pose.

Simply Yoga Free. Because I don’t want to go to yoga classes that are filled with strangers, I downloaded this app instead. You can choose how long you want to work out, whether it’s 20, 40, or 60 minutes. The free app gives you the first set of workout. When you buy the premium version, you will get access to the second set, the custom workouts, and no more ads. Simply Yoga Free is available on both iOS and Android.

Home page of the Daily Workouts app. You can choose what kind of exercise you want to do. the icons with a padlock on it means they haven't been purchased yet.
Home page of the Daily Workouts app. You can choose what kind of exercise you want to do. the icons with a padlock on it means they haven’t been purchased yet.

Daily Workouts ($3.99). From the same maker of Simply Yoga Free is the Daily Workouts app, which consists of a collection of workouts. Choose from exercises for abs, arms, butt, cardio, legs, full body, ball (additional $2.99), stretch (additional $2.99), pilates (additional $2.99), and kettle (additional $2.99). I downloaded this because it has complete workouts for all parts of the body. I also paid extra for the stretch workout, which has separate sets of stretching for each part of the body. Like the Simply Yoga app, it also has a video of each workout to demonstrate how it’s done, along with text instructions. I use this app for my pre-workout stretching and also for days when I only have 30 minutes at most to exercise. You can check out the app on its official website.

Do you use any health and fitness app that you’d like to recommend? Share them in the comments!

MOTIVATION MONDAY: Give All You Have to Life

Quote taken from Goodreads. Photo taken from Unsplash. Edited using Canva.
Quote taken from Goodreads. Photo taken from Unsplash. Edited using Canva.

Some of us are optimistic that we will have a good week ahead. But there are others who are worried about the challenges they will face this week, whether it’s exams (like my brother), a huge meeting at work, or something else they have been worked up about. Whichever category you belong to, give it your best shot; don’t hold back. Good luck, and I hope you all have an amazing week.

MOTIVATION MONDAY: Live your life, or live to repent it

Quote from Goodreads. Photo from Unsplash. Designed using Canva.
Quote from Goodreads. Photo from Unsplash. Designed using Canva.

In the 21st century, nobody–neither man or woman–has an excuse from finding their happiness. This week, start that project that has been on your mind for a while now; go where you have always wanted to go; do not be afraid to ask for what you want. There is no promise of next month, next week, not even tomorrow, so start living.

HOW ABOUT YOU: What are you going to start this week?

Late Writing Prompt #2: How To Deal With Boredom

If you could slow down an action that usually zooms by, or speed up an event that normally drags on, which would you choose, and why?

The Daily Post, 1 November 2014

Because I have a short attention span of 5 minutes, I easily get bored with almost anything. But there are some events and tasks that I can barely endure, like:

Writing the first paragraph. Whether it’s starting a new blog post or a feature article, I take too long in actually starting it. When I wrote this particular post, I spent half an hour debating on whether to put up the writing prompt in quotation format or make a graphic for it. Then I spent the next half hour making the graphic, and when I finished, I decided to just quote the question instead. My next problem was how to start my answer, and so I gave myself a few minutes to try it, but I ended up just staring at the screen.

Washing dishes. Even though I know that it takes me less than 20 minutes to finish, I still hate doing it. As much as I can, I try to pass this chore to someone else, but it almost never works.

City traffic. Here in the Philippines, the traffic situation in Metro Manila is a disaster. Major roads are constantly congested by private vehicles, jeepneys, buses, and trucks. So many of these drivers do not follow traffic rules, resulting in accidents and traffic jams. To make things worse, the MRT, which is a rail transport along EDSA, is in a state of disrepair. The trains often break down and they are far behind on their maintenance schedules. Instead of benefiting from faster travel, commuters are more inconvenienced by such neglect.

I try not to travel farther than Makati City, which is a 30 minute- to 1 hour-drive from my house. Thankfully, everything I need is in my city, so I don’t always have to go as far to run errands, get a pedicure, or go shopping.

Even though I wish for a fast-forward button to get through these trying tasks, I have learned to cope with them.

When I’m having a hard time writing, I set a 5-minute timer and write anything I can think of, whether they are random sentences or words that do not make sense together. When time is up, I give myself a 5-minute break before going back to see what I wrote. Most of the time the stuff I write are what I really wanted to say, so I just choose which ones I like most, then I continue writing based on these. While this is still time-consuming, it helps me stay on track.

In doing menial tasks or being stuck in traffic or long queues, I listen to my favorite podcasts. Since I have something else to distract me, time doesn’t seem to go as slowly, and my day is not ruined.

HOW ABOUT YOU: How do you cope with a boring task or event that seems to drag on? Does it help speed up the time?

NEW FITNESS FRIDAY: What ever happened to this year’s weight loss goal?

Remember my post about some easy steps to losing weight, and how I’m trying each step one at a time? Well, even though I haven’t written about anything else related to these, I never stopped doing each step. But this weight loss “journey” warrants an update now, because every Friday I will be posting about this or something else that’s fitness related. So here’s a list of what I did following steps 1 to 5:

  1. I stopped drinking cucumber lemon water. Instead I focused on drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day. Although I loved cucumber lemon water, I didn’t have time to slice a few bits every night. Of course, that was when I had a job, so I figured I should start again today. Maybe it will help with my hydration especially after my workouts.
  2. I have a difficulty eating fruits every day for two reasons: one, we don’t always have fruits at home; and two, most of the fruits stocked in our home are hard to open (e.g. pomelo or avocado). Now that I’m writing about it, though, I shamefully admit that I am just making excuses, so I am going to try harder now.
  3. To cut down on portion size, I decided to measure and track what I have been eating. While the advice from the “7 steps” post said to eat until you stop feeling hungry instead of eating until you feel full, I thought it may be wasteful sometimes. I mean, what if I stop feeling hungry but there’s still some food on my plate? So I did a harder method instead, where on the first week I ate as much as I usually do, measured them, and tracked them on My Fitness Pal. By doing so I learned the harsh truth when I saw how many calories I was eating, and how many calories each food contains. With this knowledge, I became more careful with what I eat. There  were times when I would still feel hungry, but I learned to combat this by drinking water first, and if I am still hungry I’ll grab a light snack that’s only around 100 calories.
  4. Does using an electric panini maker count as cooking? After my afternoon run, I chose to not eat rice during dinner (I’m a rice addict, that’s how Asian I am) and just make a caprese panini using whole wheat bread. You might be like my SO and say something like, “But bread is also full of carbs like rice,” which is true, but the difference for me is I can control my bread consumption more than I do with rice. Also, I still live with my parents and there’s usually a meal already prepared for the family, so I just make enough food for myself, and a panini is easy to make for just one person. I’m going to check with my mom if I could make some healthy food for the family (I can already hear my brothers’ gasps of horror at this proposal) or I’ll just research healthy recipes for one serving.
  5. I’m not good at avoiding desserts, but it’s okay. Even though I love chocolate, we don’t always have one in stock. And when we do have some at home, I don’t devour them all in one sitting. I’m proud to say that I can control this urge (much more than controlling my urge to eat more rice), and I am satisfied with one square of a chocolate bar or one piece of individually wrapped chocolate candy after a meal.
  6. I also work out, and I am now on Week 3 of the Couch-to-5K programI have been doing it for 5 weeks now, but there was one week when I only ran once, and currently I am having difficulty with the 3rd week exercise, so I’m trying to get used to it before I move on to Week 4. If you’d like to do this program as well, here’s a great visual guide:
Taken from the C25k subreddit.

Unfortunately, I haven’t lost much weight since I started, but I’m not letting it stop me from eating healthy and being more active. Instead of weight loss, however, I am experiencing surprisingly different results. I don’t dread my workout sessions anymore. I am also developing some healthy habits. Most significant and surprising of all is, I am starting to feel good about myself. While I still hope to lose 52 lbs. this year, I am happy with where I am heading.

If you resolved to lose weight this year, how are you doing so far?