Food for Thought

“Who You Follow” Is the Social Media Equivalent of “Who You Surround Yourself With”

A very important key to maintaining your happiness, motivation, positive attitude, and overall mental health is surrounding yourself with people that ELEVATE you. They make you feel better about yourself, they challenge you to reach heights you’ve never been, and they remind you of all the ways you are blessed. It’s about them, but it is twice as much about you. This said, there’s as much responsibility on you to take what they post in a way that benefits you, if not more.

When I first got into social media (about 13 years ago, according to my Facebook memories), I was very hesitant. It was through these platforms that my friends discovered unfaithful spouses (do you remember myspace??). It was also because of these platforms that I started noticing trends of jealousy and unhappiness from people. After personally succumbing to it and finally making accounts of my own, I even fell for it myself – as a young mom, even though I was happily married and raising two beautiful and healthy boys, a post from my friends hanging out at a club could easily make me feel left out. It would make me feel jealous and unhappy.

What we don’t realize is that a post from me with my husband and my boys can conversely make those people feel like they’re behind, make them think about how they wish they had a family, and make them feel jealous and unhappy. Certainly, that’s not the purpose of sharing these posts. At least, it’s not my purpose nor my intent.

It took a while for me to take personal responsibility – it is up to me to take the positive out of people’s posts, rather than having them negatively affect me. Most importantly, it took a shift in my perspective to first be happy for them, to see what they had that I want for myself, and then to be motivated by them to seek those things for myself.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. People try to make you (or themselves) feel better by explaining that social media only shows peoples’ “highlight reels.” They’re trying to say that peoples’ lives can’t be that good and that perfect all of the time. They can’t “relate” to these people because they don’t feel like it’s “real.”

And that’s understandable. People want to connect and this is the basis for social media. It’s supposed to be a way to network and find common ground. But it’s up to us to break the “misery loves company” mentality. Let’s create the “happiness loves company” mentality – let’s devote our posts to positive messages that bring hope to others. Heck, our posts should “challenge” others to rise up and go for what they deserve – if we can have something, they can, too! That’s what I started to see when I looked at other people’s posts – if they can do it, I can do it, too!

It’s a matter of where we exert our energy. For the sake of making my point, and for the only way some people can relate, yes, I have to deal with struggles, disappointments, and heartbreaks all of the time. Does that mean that I’m being unrealistic, unrelatable, and “fake” if I don’t post about these? Absolutely not. I’ve made it a personal mission to share and deliver messages of love, hope, and positivity to help and influence other people. I don’t share these things because the world needs more positivity. I share these things because the world needs to recognize there’s already plenty of it. They’re just distracted by the negative posts that I choose not to add to.

This is why I started the Delivering Love Project. There are so many ways to say “I love you” without using the words and, if I challenge you to recognize and deliver love every single day, by way of a journal entry or a post, I bet you’ll realize how wonderful this world really is and how blessed we truly are.

This said, I appreciate the posts that are not always so “positive”. It’s also a moral responsibility and a way of “looking after each other” to bring awareness into the world, and that is a positive thing 🙂

Don’t forget to recognize and deliver love today! ❤ G

Food for Thought, Freedom, Fulfillment

THE NEW MEANING OF TGIF

Thank God I’m FREE!

If happiness and fulfillment is the goal, then so is freedom. But living for the weekend means living for less than 29% of our days. What would it take to truly live at 100%?

In the spirit of acronyms, this is where the five Ws and the one H come into play – the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. But, in this case, I’ve learned that the Why comes first, as Simon Sinek brilliantly explains in his famous Ted Talk below:

After the Why, he discusses the How and the What, and this model may hold true for companies. But as people, we’re much deeper than three layers. As humans, we both want and need the freedom to be who we authentically are and with whom we love. We want to be able to do what we love, when it’s convenient for us, and where we’re most comfortable. We want to live happy and fulfilling lives however we envision that life should be.

People fight for our freedoms every day, so living life at full capacity day in and day out is a tribute to them. I’m so incredibly grateful for the opportunities that living in a free country provides. I’ve taken steps to live at 100% and am sharing these steps through what I’ve discovered I love doing – writing – whether in this blog, on social media, or in my books. So, let me re-phrase my earlier question, and I hope to help you answer it: What would it take for you to truly live at 100%?

Don’t forget to recognize and deliver love today! ❤ G

Finances

Florida Dominates the Top 25 List of Best Places to Retire

In 2011, Farhad and I went to Boca Raton for the Community Association Institute’s National Conference (CAI’s annual event). While Boca didn’t make the list below, we fell in love with Florida on this trip! We decided to start moving our money down from Maryland, starting with investing in a property in Central Florida. We would rent it out and we didn’t pay too much attention as to where in Florida it was, as long as the numbers made sense. In fact, we found our first property online, had our real estate agent Skype us in for the inspections, and saw it in person for the first time the day of closing! Our tenants were waiting for their new construction to be built and, as it was completed in 2018, Nikolas graduated middle school. It was the perfect time to move down!

In honor of our 4th Florida-versary, I thought it would be #fun to see where people are retiring to in 2022! I’m a bit biased, but it didn’t surprise me one bit that Florida tops the charts. According to the US News, the following Florida cities are rated the most desirable:

  • Sarasota (1)
  • Naples (2)
  • Daytona Beach (3)
  • Melbourne (4)
  • Tampa (6)
  • Fort Myers (7)
  • Port St. Lucie (8)
  • Pensacola (10)
  • Lakeland (12)
  • Ocala (16)
  • Orlando (18)

I love that it cited happiness as one of the various reasons for Florida’s desirability! We’ve been so happy with our move to Florida and we’ve loved every city we’ve explored. And palm trees just seem to always put a smile on my face! 🌴🌞

You can see the whole list in the US News Money section. #finances

As always, don’t forget to recognize and deliver love today! ❤ G

Food

Filipino Coconut Curry Chicken

Credit to my Momma for this super easy and delicious recipe!

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 thumb of ginger
  • .25 c patis (Filipino fish sauce)
  • 9 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large potato
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • 8 oz of peeled baby cut carrots
  • 1 tbsp yellow curry powder
  • White rice

Instructions (and Notes)

  1. Dice the onion.
  2. Mince the garlic.
  3. Cut the ginger into thin strips.
  4. Peel and cut the potato into medium-sized cubes.
  5. Remove the excess fat from the chicken. (You may want to try boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead.)
  6. Heat your pan. (I set it on medium-low/#4 and let it heat for a couple of minutes. Don’t let it get too hot.)
  7. Coat the bottom with cooking spray.
  8. Throw in the onion, garlic, and ginger, and let them brown a little.
  9. Add the patis. (This is really the only Filipino ingredient and you should be able to find it at a Filipino store or Asian supermarket like Lotte.)
  10. Add the chicken and brown both sides, allowing them to simmer in their own juices. (Be careful not to let the onion, garlic, and ginger burn. Just keep flipping the chicken and stirring everything around.)
  11. Once the chicken is almost cooked, add the potatoes and quickly brown all sides of them as well.
  12. Add the coconut milk. (You may want to try a light/low-fat version instead.)
  13. Add the carrots. (I used half of a 1 lb bag of ready peeled baby cut carrots, but you may want to use the whole bag instead.)
  14. Sprinkle and mix in the curry. (Use more or less to your liking. Also, add more patis or salt to taste.)
  15. Let everything slowly boil together until the chicken, potatoes, and carrots are ready. (It takes about 15-20 minutes more. Keep a lid on and stir occasionally so the coconut milk doesn’t evaporate.
  16. Serve with steamed white rice.

Enjoy and don’t forget to recognize and deliver love today! ❤ G

Fitness

G’s Driver’s License Weight Challenge – Behind the Scenes

Before these past couple of weeks, September 1st was the last day I exercised. What happened? I got the all-clear from my cardiologist to work out again! I’ve never been so relieved.

While this blog shows you everything I did to lose over 26 pounds the healthy way, I wasn’t feeling all that healthy. For months, I’ve been feeling weak and fatigued, I’ve been having this cold sensation around my mouth, my fingernails have been blue/purple, and I’ve been dizzy and lightheaded to the point I fainted and went to the ER – completely contradictory to being in the best shape of my life.

When I started my fitness journey (5 years ago today!), the nurses asking about my low heart rate became a recurring theme at my regular doctor checkups. Adults typically have a resting heart rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm). Mine averages somewhere in the low 50s, and I even see it dip into the 40s and even 30s at times. Apparently, athletes and physically fit people tend to have lower heart rates – something about their hearts working more efficiently. I was secretly proud of this “fitness indicator”, especially as my doctor visits confirmed my overall health and fitness.

Well, a low heart rate is generally overlooked unless you show the symptoms above that I started to experience during this challenge. After visiting my primary care doctor, we pretty much eliminated the possibility of dehydration and lack of nutrients being the cause, as we reviewed my nutrition plan I was on during this challenge. As you know, I drank plenty of water and ate a healthy, balanced diet.

I usually feel the lightheadedness I mentioned when I get up from bed or stand up from the couch. What I learned is that when you stand up, your body has to compensate for gravity and adjust your blood pressure. So, we started keeping a close look at my blood pressure and noticed that this, too, is lower than normal. Per the Mayo Clinic, most doctors consider blood pressure too low only if it causes symptoms. Some experts define low blood pressure as readings lower than 90 mm Hg systolic (the first number they give you) or 60 mm HG distolic (the second number). If either falls below that, your pressure is lower than normal and mine is always low in at least one of these, and sometimes both! And so, to cut a very long story short, I was referred to a cardiologist and was put through a series of tests:

  • Multiple EKG/ECGs
  • 24-hr Holter monitor (see my BTS video on IGTV @gi_rah)
  • Blood work to check my thyroid, cholesterol, and to do a complete metabolic profile
  • Echocardiogram
  • 24-hr blood pressure monitor (see my BTS video on IGTV @gi_rah)
  • Stress test (the one on the treadmill)
  • 5-day event monitor

Deep in my heart (pun intended), I believed nothing was wrong. If this “willed” me to receive negative results, then so be it. I choose to thank God that all of these tests came back proving that I am as healthy as I can be, much of it due to the lifestyle I choose to live. My cardiologist calls it essential hypotension – just as some people tend to have high blood pressure, I have the opposite. While there are medications I can take to increase my blood pressure, I can also increase my salt intake. But most importantly, as long as I keep health and fitness as a focus, which for me has to be a constant and conscious decision, and as long as I sit up and stand up slowly, I will be okay and I leave the rest up to my genetics and up to God.

It’s so easy for me to revert back to my old habits and gain all of the old weight back. We all know I love #food 🙂 It’s time to re-focus and, for me, I need a new challenge. What’s it to be, guys??

Oh, and by the way, don’t forget to recognize and deliver love today! ❤ G

Fitness

G’s Driver’s License Weight Challenge COMPLETE!

After 171 days, I woke up this morning and weighed in at 114.8 pounds! “I did it! Thank you, God!” These were my exact thoughts as I ran to let my boys know. I couldn’t have done this without their help, nor without them as my motivation.

#fulfillment #faith #family

#fwordsaremyfavorite

I am literally in the BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE! I know my target was my weight on my first driver’s license when I was 16 years old, but I’m pretty sure I lied on that application LOL! Sure, I was pretty fit in high school playing sports year round, but I was not toned at all and my weight was an uphill battle ever since.

Weight definitely fluctuates and I had to really be strong when weighing in daily, but it’s true – your weekly average weight always goes down when you focus on “fat loss” with a combination of a high protein diet and weight training, as opposed to starving yourself and just doing hours of cardio.

As I mentioned, being 115 pounds (or less!) was my goal, but the way I designed my plan to reach this goal was to help with my cholesterol levels as well. My LDL was 149 at my annual physical this past January, and it is now 93!

When I started this challenge, I weighed in at 141.0 pounds. At 5’1, my body mass index (BMI) was 26.7, which is considered overweight. After losing 26.2 pounds, I am now at a BMI of 21.7, right in the middle of the normal range!

I am so grateful for the gift of health, at least in terms of weight and fitness. There are things out of my control, whether hereditary, or unknown, and even with COVID! I actually haven’t been able to work out the past couple of weeks because of reasons my doctors are still trying to determine, and I miss it terribly! I certainly now know that getting to work out is a privilege not to be taken for granted. I also now know without a doubt that nutrition trumps exercise when it comes to weight loss.

I definitely took advantage of being in quarantine. After pigging out the 1st week of lock down, I knew this would either lead to something terrible or something great and I had to CHOOSE great. Of course, not travelling as much sucks and not seeing family and friends sucks even more, but it sure helped with time and #food choices.

I don’t recall a time, even at 16, when I wasn’t trying to lose weight. This is definitely a #first for me! Now, the challenge is to maintain and not hop back on the yo-yo. My favorite part of this challenge was that I did it the “right” way – no gimmicks, no shortcuts, no cutting out food groups, and certainly no secrets. Everything I did is on this blog and is all based on what we know but don’t want to hear – eat less and move more! I lost a healthy 1 pound a week. I found food choices that really don’t feel like “diet foods”, so this will hopefully transition easily into a new lifestyle. I enjoyed cake at family celebrations (via Zoom of course) and cookies when I really craved them and still lost the weight!

I was #flexible, except when it came to alcohol. I had 0 alcohol for 171 days, 24 and a half weeks, and through at least (also via Zoom) a dozen team happy hours! #Farhad and I are certainly drinking in celebration tonight! But despite being flexible, it took persistence, consistency, and a lot of patience. My daily accountability posts were definitely getting old!

I wish I had saved the LinkedIn post that I read from which I had my life’s “aha! moment”. Basically, what I got from it was that if I can succeed in something that challenges me to a great extent, I can succeed at anything. I can’t describe enough how this has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Yes, the official challenge took almost 6 months, but this has been my goal weight for almost 22 years! I feel on top of the world right now and I feel like I can do anything! With God all things are possible, and I am feeling more invincible than ever!

Thank you for following my journey and for your continued love and support. As always, don’t forget to recognize and deliver love today! ❤ G

Fitness

G’s Driver’s License Weight Challenge – Day 171 Results

  • Weight: 115.8 pounds (.8 to go!)
  • Steps: 2,474 (as of 6:55pm)
  • Lows: Didn’t get enough sleep. Didn’t exercise. Didn’t get Meals 4 and 5 in.
  • Highs: Weight hit a new low on this challenge and on my almost 5-year fitness journey! Less than a pound to go!
  • Nutrition:
    • Meal 1 – 1 slice of white bread, 1 slice of American cheese, 1 whole egg and .5 c egg whites scrambled
    • Meal 2 – potato omelet and fresh tomatoes
    • Meal 3 – 2 grilled skinless drumsticks, unmeasured baked zucchini and onions (tandoori!)
  • Exercise: none
  • All other markers checked.

Don’t forget to recognize and deliver love today! ❤ G

Fitness

G’s Driver’s License Weight Challenge – Day 170 Results

  • Weight: 116.4 pounds (1.4 to go!)
  • Steps: 3,565
  • Lows: Didn’t get enough sleep. Didn’t drink enough water. Didn’t exercise. Didn’t get Meal 5 in.
  • Highs: Weight hit a new low on this challenge and on my almost 5-year fitness journey!
  • Nutrition:
    • Meal 1 – 1 slice of white bread, 1 slice of American cheese, 1 whole egg and .5 c egg whites scrambled
    • Meals 2 and 3 – 1 serving of protein shake
    • Meal 4 – 2 grilled skinless drumsticks, unmeasured baked zucchini and onions (tandoori!)
  • Exercise: none
  • All other markers checked.

Don’t forget to recognize and deliver love today! ❤ G

Fitness

G’s Driver’s License Weight Challenge – Day 169 Results

  • Weight: 116.8 pounds (1.8 to go!)
  • Steps: 1,560 (as of 8:17pm)
  • Lows: Wrong direction on the scale. Meals 3 and 4 were off plan. Didn’t exercise.
  • Highs: Everything else!
  • Nutrition:
    • Meal 1 – 1 slice of white bread, 1 slice of American cheese, 1 whole egg and .5 c egg whites scrambled
    • Meal 2 – .5 c steamed white Basmati rice, 3 oz beef and onions cooked in low-sodium soy sauce, 1 banana
    • Meals 3 and 4 (combined) – 2 slices of white bread, 2 slices of American cheese
    • Meal 5 – .5 c steamed white Basmati rice, 3 oz beef and onions cooked in low-sodium soy sauce
  • Exercise: none
  • All other markers checked.

Don’t forget to recognize and deliver love today! ❤ G

Fitness

G’s Driver’s License Weight Challenge – Day 168 Results

  • Weight: 116.6 pounds (1.6 to go!)
  • Steps: 4,790
  • Lows: Meals 3 and 4 were off plan. Didn’t exercise.
  • Highs: Weight hit a new low on this challenge and on my almost 5-year fitness journey! Week 24 done!
  • Nutrition:
    • Meal 1 – 1 slice of white bread, 1 slice of American cheese, 1 whole egg and .5 c egg whites scrambled
    • Meal 2 – .5 c steamed white Basmati rice, 3 oz beef and onions cooked in low-sodium soy sauce
    • Meals 3 and 4 (combined) – 2 slices of white bread, 2 slices of American cheese
    • Meal 5 – .5 c steamed white Basmati rice, 3 oz beef and onions cooked in low-sodium soy sauce, 1 banana, 1 sugar cookie
  • Exercise: none
  • All other markers checked.

Don’t forget to recognize and deliver love today! ❤ G