TONE IT UP TOUR - SEATTLE

Ahhhhh! The TIU Tour came to Seattle last week, and I am so happy that I got to attend! As my #tiuhubby knows, I'm kind of obsessed with all things Tone It Up, so it was no surprise that when tickets came out, I bought them ASAP and splurged for the VIP. Luckily, I have a husband who supports my TIU addiction :P

So lo and behold the day finally came for the first ever tour! I got to meet up with some badass babes, flowed with Corepower yoga, got my ass kicked by Jillian Michaels, and sweated it out with Katrina & Karena. The day was filled with awesome empowering vibes, rose, and newfound friendships. And of course, a huge dose of inspiration and motivation. I always leave the TIU events on a high. It's obvious I'll be forever in love with this community <3

It's been almost a year since I joined Tone It Up and lately I've been thinking about how it's affected me:

  • I have been consistent in working out this past year (and bright and early in the mornings no less)!
  • I've learned to bake with protein powder. Not a big feat, but it's a pretty cool to healthify some baked treats once in a while.
  • I've fallen in love with smoothies and salads! I've always been a green smoothie lover, but now I've incorporated protein and super food powders to the mix, so I feel like I'm become a smoothie wizard! Before Tone It UP, I was a salad twice a week kind of girl, but now I seem to want them 5-7 days a week.
  • Even though physically I haven't changed much, I feel less soft and my fitness has improved.
  • I find that I can be brave and show up at an event without knowing anyone. I used to be super self-conscious meeting new people, probably because I always had some kind of network or friends to do things with, but when you move to a new place, you're forced to start over. For my first year in Seattle, I was afraid to do just that, but I found that TIU has helped me embrace being open with others.
  • It's brought my sister and I closer. My TIU membership was a pre-wedding gift from my sister to help me get in shape for my wedding. She ended up joining too after seeing how much I enjoyed it that we recently made our LA trip TIU themed!
  • I am kinder and more accepting of myself. I used to be really negative about myself and my body. I would never ever body shame another woman because I think of all woman as beautiful in their own right, but when it came to myself I had no problem dissing and dismantling my self-esteem. In a way, I've found some inner peace with myself (though of I'm not immune to having those difficult days; I'll just counteract them with positive vibes).

As I go into me second year of TIU, I know that what's finally blossoming within me, will slowly, but surely be reflected on the outside.

As always, thank you K&K.

 

Meeting K&K and the concept behind 'Michelle Manifesting'.

EEEPPPPPP! I met K&K. *pinches self* Tuesday night still feels like a d r e a m. No joke. I'm still coming down from my high from meeting them, but I'm so stoked I get to relive it by writing this blog post.

As I mentioned in my recap post here, my sister and I joined Tone It Up, an amazing health, wellness, and fitness community created by Karena and Katrina (hence the K&K) for women. I've pretty much fallen head over heels for the #tiuteam, #tiucommunity, and the #tiulifestyle. I love their message of women empowerment. It's so refreshing to have women supporting and inspiring one another, not only in health, fitness, or wellness, but in every aspect of our daily lives, which made the experience of meeting them in person mean so much to me.

So before I begin, I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you to Karena and Katrina for giving the #tiuseattle squad the opportunity, and a big thank you to Katrina and Deanna, our fearless Seattle leaders, who helped make it happen (and also these beautiful photos)! In less than a 24 hour notice, more than 100 girls showed up to represent to show their love and  gratitude to K&K for all that they do and giving us this amazing community where we can all connect and come together!

Who knew you could get high off #positivevibes! Am I right?

Anyway, it's kind of hard now to believe that I almost didn't go. I was wholly unprepared and not feeling my best (I blame it on the cloudy skies) and considered going home after work instead of heading into Seattle. I've also become a huge introvert lately so it takes a bit of mental energy to get me into a social setting where I don't know anyone on a personal level. Still, I was torn. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Who knew when I would get the chance to meet K&K? Once I checked the Facebook group and saw other TIU girls posting their insecurities and the overwhelming support that resulted from it, I knew I had to go. TIU girls are so positive and uplifting, there was nothing I should be anxious about.

So I went, and I'm so glad I did. Yeah, I looked a mess post work and had zero makeup on still dressed in slacks, but when I arrived and felt the buzz of energy, I felt at peace knowing I'd made the right decision. I read somewhere that the only regrets you should have are about the things you didn't do, and at that moment that saying completely resonated with me.

And what do you know, by stepping out of my comfort zone I made new friends, had a really great time, and got to thank K&K personally (though I think I was a tad bit incoherent from fangirling so hard). Getting a hug from them was probably the highlight of my year (well, second after my wedding of course;)).

Afterward, I came home to my husband basically floating on a cloud. The experience definitely filled my inspiration well and left me feeling motivated, not just with health and fitness, but with my own personal goals.

Seeing what K&K have achieved has definitely lit my desire to do more and be more by living a more purpose-filled life. If you follow my TIU insta (michellemanifesting_tiu) you'll finally get the concept behind the name I chose. With the one life I'm given, I want to manifest the best life I can possibly live by being my best self. So that means taking care of myself--body, mind, and soul--and chipping away at the dream.

Christmas 2015: Going home, coming back, and 'The Nutcraker'

Christmas is over! Still a bit hard to believe with the last couple of days being a whirlwind! I'm still coming down from my my ballet high. This year Michael got us tickets to 'The Nutcracker' for one of my Christmas gifts.




'The Nutcracker' was so much fun. The hall was decked out in Christmas decor and all the kids were so excited. The ballet itself was very festive and beautiful. It was my first time seeing 'The Nutcracker' and I loved every minute of it.

Before the ballet, Michael and I went to Petit Toulouse. They're rated top ten in best happy hours in the nation (according to their disclaimer on their menu)! The HH menu is pretty awesome though! Every single bite was delicious and none of the food went to waste.




Oh gosh. This white chocolate bread pudding was amazing. I am currently ranking it two in best desserts in Seattle, with the first being the maple bread pudding at Walrus & Carpenter.


Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we spent with Michael's family. As usual it was a blast with thoughtful gifts, great food, and great company.




Every year, I do miss my family. It's been three years since I spent a Christmas with them. Luckily, this year I flew down the weekend prior to Christmas to see them, also hoping to catch the birthing of my first little niece, Jasalyn. Of course, she was past due and didn't want to see me! But as I write this blog post, my sister is currently in labor, so I'm thinking good thoughts for her and her baby. By tomorrow morning Jasalyn will be sleeping in this little basinet Michael and I gifted to her.



I do have to admit, kids have grown on me! For awhile I thought I could do with or without them, but I am leaning toward them in the future now (like way wayyyyy in the future :P).


Now I can't wait to meet my niece next year!

How was your Christmas? Comment below :)

Swan Lake

This past weekend was seriously one for the books. I've always wanted to see a ballet. Something about music, dance, and story all wrapped up into one just sounds so... magical! Michael made my dream come true by getting us tickets to see Swan Lake for my birthday gift. It was about three hours long with two intermissions, but I could have seriously watched forever. The music from the orchestra, the costumes, and the athleticism of the dancers blew me away. If you haven't seem a ballet, I recommend you put it on your bucket list!

Note that photography is not allowed during the show because it can be potentially dangerous for the dancers, so I waited until the encore and turned off flash and snapped this shot. I know, such a rebel I am :P



After the ballet we went to Bottlehouse for some wine and met up with Michael's family to celebrate belated birthdays. It was just the right way to end the perfect day. 24 is definitely growing on me.

Asia Vacation: Day 13 & 14 / A to Z Challenge

E is for 'enough.'

After traveling for awhile, you get to the point where you've had enough and home sounds so good. Alas, this is my last post for my Asia vacation.

Day 13 marked our last full day in Seoul. I couldn't decide if I really liked Seoul or if I hadn't been exposed enough to it all. It just seemed lacking compared to Da Nang, but that could probably be attributed to the weather.

My sister, loves Korean culture. She love K-dramas and the food, so she really wanted to cross of everything on her to-do list. Unfortunately some things weren't open since it wasn't tourist season, but one thing we did do was the Korean bathhouses.

Let's just say it was an interesting experience.



When you enter, you get a change of clothes and strip down naked to go to the communal showers and hot baths. I don't know why, but it vaguely reminded me of what a prison shower would be like (not that I would know what one does look like). After that you can do an optional body scrub. For that, you're basically lying on a rubber mat while an Korean woman in her bra and underwear scrubs all the dirt off you. I was pretty stunned by all the excess skin that came off me, but it kind of hurt, so not sure if I'd do it again.

After that, we changed into our uniforms and went to the communal dining area for lunch then the fomentation rooms.






After this ordeal, I started to feel ill. I suspected I was coming down with a cold, but it started to hit me at full force. Our next stop was the N Seoul Tower, but I didn't want to miss it, which resulted in me being miserable the whole time. In hindsight, I should have stayed and rested at the hotel.

The tower was kind of a disappointment. It's placed on a hill, not that tall, and not a good looking tower either. The view was nice, but the skyline unfamiliar that I couldn't properly enjoy it. Sadly, it was letdown for me and the freezing temperature didn't make things any better. Nontheless, we did our love locks, took photos, then left.







We had planned to go to Insa-dong after, but I wanted to be closer to the hotel in case I needed to rest, so back to Myeong-dong it was for dinner. Again, we had Korean BBQ. As you can see, my family loves this stuff! We ended the night with karaoke, and then our last full day was over.





On day 14, Michael and I said good-bye to my sisters (they were on an earlier flight) and had lunch at Bulgogi Brothers. With a little time to spare we went to Cat Café before heading to the airport. The cat cafe was an interesting experience. About forty cats lived in the cafe, and I won't lie, it smelled pretty funny. We only stayed about fifteen minutes before our allergies went out of control. Oh yeah, and a cat jumping from a shelf and landing on my shoulder probably added to our haste. Again, interesting, but I prefer my Blaire Bear at home.




Asia Vacation: Day 11 & 12 / A to Z Challenge

D is for dawn.

We (my two sisters, Michael, and I) literally arrived at dawn in Seoul, South Korea on day 11 of our Asia vacation. The red eye had been long enough that it made us uncomfortable, but short enough that we couldn't get any sleep.

And right as we waited for our train I was pushed from behind. I turned behind me and found an elderly man. Everyone laughed and Michael informed me that the elderly here weren't the friendliest bunch. I'll say! What a stark contrast to my grandparents! During this trip, I was pushed a lot by old people. Perhaps they were attracted to my purple coat or something.

We dropped off our bags at the hotel and went to a Starbuck's for much needed coffee then explored Gagnum and had breakfast at Butterfinger Pancakes. Their portions were so huge we had to split our entrees, but so good. After we walked around for a bit and did some shopping.



My first reaction to Seoul was how westernized it was, that if I hadn't known better, I probably wouldn't have been able to distinguish it from any other city. Of course we weren't going during tourist season so maybe that would have changed my perspective?

And oh man was it cold. Freezing really, compared to the eighty degree weather we had just left. Now it was 30 degree weather which was a big adjustment. Throw in exhaustion from the red-eye flight and we were beat. We had an early dinner then all went to sleep.





To make up for our early night, Day 12 started off packed! We went to Gyeongbok Palace. The palace was expansive and well kept. It was pretty, and I expect it would have been even better in the spring of fall. But we made do and took photos galore!








By the end of it we were famished, so we headed to Myeong-dong and had lunch at Bulgogi Brothers.





After that we shopped and took a rest at the hotel before venturing out for the night. Street food vendors were everywhere and so enticing they became our dinner.





For dessert, we went to Poem Café and had waffles and tea (apparently they love waffles in South Korea, but I'm not complaining because so do I).






Asia Vacation: Day 4

Chuc Mung Nam Moi! Happy New Year!


February the 19th marked my 4th day in Vietnam! And better yet it was the holiday. The new year is like the biggest holiday in the culture. It's equivalent to the American Thanksgiving. All about family, food, celebration, and hope for the year to come. I was beyond excited since it was my first time ever celebrating in the homeland with the extended family.

My sisters and I all woke up and got dressed in traditional Vietnamese dresses and met the rest of the family at my grandpa's house. My mother had rented a van for the day to take us to the temple, the village where she grew up, and then onto Hue.


The main temple in Da Nang sits alongside the water facing the city. With the temple and neck bending monuments, it's a very beautiful and serene place to be--but not on the holiday. It was buzzing with people. We quickly went around saying prayers before going crazy with photos.











After that it was off to my mom's home village Vinh Hien. We had gone there too during my first trip, but going again, with fresh eyes it really struck a chord within me. This little town is based off one little dirt road with little houses pressed against each other. There are no streetlamps, no gutters. Just yellow sand and dirt, with the exception of green rice paddies in the distance.





We passed by my mother's old house, the school she had gone too, and houses where she remembered her friends. It was a very different upbringing than the opportunity she had given us in the states. As a sign of respect, my mother paid visits to relatives and friends, and those that had passed by going to their gravesites.


It was hard not to imagine my mom as a young girl just like the little kids I had seen the day before. Odds stacked against her. Living in conditions we hadn't. No power, no electricity, no creature comforts. It makes me respect her even more.


Our final and last stop was Hue to see the imperial palace. It was huge. Bigger than I remembered my first time around. Here there were a lot of tourists from many different places as well as locals. The city was bustling with people.







 






 


Michael and I walked side by side holding hands and it was the first time that we got more than the occasional glances. People were staring and it made me uncomfortable. It wasn't like it was rude stares or anything, more like curiosity. I could only imagine what they thought: mail order bride. Ha! I brushed it off and made the most of it. When we got back to the Van, I knocked out, and before I knew it we were back in Da Nang at my grandpa's house for dinner.

[[photo credit: all amazing and clear photos were taken by Michael. All the fuzzy ones were from yours truly on my iphone :P]]