Love Catcher S2 E2: The love triangles begin to form

Pop quiz: one of these guests worked at Hong Suk Chun’s cafe before the show.

So it’s day 2 (literally) for these contestants and today’s date involves a wedding photo shoot. I mean, I know the producers want to break the ice for them early on but I feel like some of the girls seem uncomfortable getting this close too soon. Nevertheless, it does the job!

If you haven’t watched episode two, I warned you – you should stop here!
Or go read about Episode 1 to get you up to speed!

The show begins on a zoom-in on Chan Woo’s back muscles as he’s swimming in the infinity pool when everyone is sleeping. To recap from the voting night before, he did not get any votes from the girls. It almost seems like this scene symbolizes a swim of rage?!

After he finishes swimming, he goes upstairs to get ready for his breakfast-making date with Ga Bin, but lo and behold In Ook is already in the dressing room – fiercely staring Chan Woo down and making it known with the almost-palpable tension that he has his eyes as well on Ga Bin.

Chan Woo wears a suit to his breakfast date (which I will get to later), gives an apron to Ga Bin to make sure nothing spills on her clothes while they are cooking, and literally cooks the whole damn breakfast. This guy doesn’t regularly eat breakfast and also said previously that he doesn’t know how to cook, and yet cooks a fancy egg scramble on toast? What?!

Next we go into the dates that we have been looking forward to: the photo shoot. The girls choose a wedding dress they want to wear and the guys choose a tux they like. The contestants don’t know their “match” until they walk into the place where the shoot is going to take place.

  • The first couple revealed is, you guessed it – Chan Woo and Ga Bin. I got the chills when Chan Woo first looked at Ga Bin. I mean, this guy has googly heart eyes for this girl and this girl only. He’s all about complimenting Ga Bin and how beautiful she looks throughout the entire shoot. If only this whole episode revealed around this couple. Towards the end, he musters up the courage to hold hands with her and you can tell, this man has now had the best day of his life.
  • The second couple is revealed at an amazing church. Min Seok and Chae Rang, who actually voted for each other the night before. This guy is not playing around though. At first glance, he was all shy and ‘oh I could never pose for a photo’ demeanor but once the flash goes off, he does the most physical touch (or skinship in Korean) out of all the guys. He quickly pulls her in tightly in a grasp and almost goes in for a kiss. I don’t know if this guy is a sleaze or just a go-getter.
  • The third concept is Yeon Woo and So Young in their sleek suits. He initially asks her, “Am I above or below your expectations?” And she hesitates with her words – which unfortunately is the answer. But truth be told, their picture I thought was the winner.
  • The fourth concept will blow you away: In Ook and Young Seo in a sexy concept. Given the fact that he literally says, “Oh it’s you?” when he sees her, they have zero chemistry. But you can tell, they are trying for that first place. This girl gets absolutely no screen time for the past two episodes but then all of a sudden she shines in her revealing, deep V wedding dress. C’mon Mnet, I’m sure there’s more to her than that.
  • Last but not least it’s Jung Jin and Sae Ra. I think she fits this dress and the flower head piece very well. And believe it or not, she’s also become my girl crush fairly quickly. She tells Jung Jin right away that she likes how he’s the person she’s shooting the shoot with. She’s very genuine and I – along with Jung Jin – find this very attractive.

Dinner comes around and with this new bond that he’s formed with Sae Ra, Jung Jin is more confused than ever. He picked Chae Rang the night before but during dinner preparation, you can tell he’s more interested in Sae Ra. For example, he looks through the fridge. finds some leftover fruit and gives it to Sae Ra all the while ignoring Chae Rang who said she wanted fruit too. When Chae Rang is ignored, her bitch face is real.

In Ook is at it again with his cooking skills (although unsure why he needed a wine glass to break the eggs for the rabokki, 라볶이). Chan Woo makes sure Ga Bin who just happens to be sitting conveniently next to him has a dish of the food but doesn’t eat it himself (take that In Ook!)

The guys and the girls chat separately, of course the gossips of who could be love catchers and money catchers. Yeon Woo, who is the youngest of the group, is so not helpful as he literally twirls around in the bed thinking about how cute So Young was in the shoot.

Eventually the winner of the shoot is announced and it is Min Seok and Chae Rang. Their prize is to go into this secret room to listen in on ONE the interview sessions the contestants had before coming onto the show. This season, they are also adding what their close friends say about them, and what the contestants like to do outside of what they see in the show.

Min Seok picks Chae Rang and it seems like the direction that the producers are trying to hint at is money because it seems like if she does win the show, she will go on this extravagant trip. Her close friend also mentioned she has too high of expectations and is unsure if she has time for a relationship.

Chae Rang actually picks In Ook. He states that surprisingly, eight days is not too short to find someone and his friends believe that because he was so busy with working out, he couldn’t find someone. And we don’t blame him.

Knowing this information, Chae Rang (to no one’s shock) tells the other girls that she thinks In Ook is a money catcher. My bet is that she’s doing this so she can push everybody away and go for him herself (aka she’s in it for $$$)

I’ll leave the final votes from this episode off but if I could spoil one more event, it would be that today, Ga Bin and Chan Woo chose each other, and that is all that matters. My bets are still the same as last week’s – you can read about it here!

Next week’s preview does not look good for the WooBin couple (Chan Woo and Ka Bin) again. Looks like Ga Bin and In Ook go swimming together and Chan Woo overlooks the pool and sees them.

Truly, my bias is for Chan Woo. I think he is a sweetie and a love catcher. He wore a freaking suit to breakfast possibly to impress the girl, which I found adorable. (He cooked toast with a suit on, I mean…. can we get a holla?) He also has no problems expressing his current feelings, which I find really admirable. I think he is my one pick right now!

And there you have it. The second episode! Let me know what you think in the comments below, and stay tuned next weekend for the review of the next!

All pictures, GIFs, and content is credited to Mnet and Love Catcher.

Feeling stuck? How to get started in loving yourself

Declaring love for someone is probably one of the most courageous things to do. It encompasses not only the present but also the future – you love them now but you’re inevitably telling them you’ll love them in the next minute as well.

It seems like we go through a cycle of saying we are ‘in love’ with multiple people. We declare love for someone who we might have dated for a couple of months (or days). We even declare love after a couple of good dates. But as humans, we make mistakes. We realize that as time ticks, people grow. And as seasons change, we understand that some of those “loves” are mere ‘loving experiences.’

But then, why do we go back to the people who’ve hurt us the most? Is it because the euphoria that comes with such connections clouds the reasons why we broke up in the first place? Or is it because when we are in a time of vulnerability, we turn to those who we have been vulnerable to?

When we’re in a tough period of our lives, we are cultured to cope – some people with food or drugs or alcohol but some people with other people. We want to reach out to those past relationships – whether friends or romantic – because for one reason or another, we have somehow exposed our deepest darkest secrets to them.

And it’s this called trust that brings us back.

Trust and love are not interchangeable but instead, I believe love is dependent on trust. This means that without trust, you cannot love.

Think about it. How can you go about marrying your partner if you don’t trust him or her to go out in the middle of the night to have an affair? How can you date someone who knows your Venmo password but at the same time, you’re constantly worried about him or her hacking into your bank account (also may be a bad idea in the first place).

Initially, I thought that this was always with a relationship with someone else (aka my exes) that I struggled to trust. I always blamed it on my past with guys cheating on me and letting me down. But in fact, I missed what was right in front of me.

To love others, I needed to love myself. And to love myself, I needed to trust myself – a trust that things would be okay, and that I could love myself.

It’s no secret that love exists. The thing is, you are never able fully love anyone because no one can fill your heart other than yourself.

It is only when your heart is filled that you can start to fill others.

If you want to start somewhere, and don’t know why you’re reading all these self-help and self-improvement articles but are not getting anywhere, start by trusting yourself. Trust the process that you are taking. Trust that you do have the ability to love yourself and others. Trust that someone out there will love you just as much as you do. Trust yourself so much that in times of need, instead of resorting to an ex or a current fling, you look at yourself, and say, “Hey, I’m going to be okay.”

5 self-help books to read in 2019

For the disconnected:

1. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

This book makes you smile secretly from ear to ear as soon as you start reading Chapter One. It’s definitely a feel-good book and is meant to touch at the heartstrings with personal stories from the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. They share with us that no matter what background or religion you come from, joy is attainable – and not from money, fame or external sources.

We will feel intimately connected to two of the world’s most loved spiritual leaders, all the while as we figure out our own obstacles to joy and how we can practice some of the simplest of things to cultivate joy in our daily lives. This book reminded me that even amid all the chaos, suffering and stress in my life today, I have the ability to live a joyous and fulfilling life.

For the perfectionists, overworked, and overstressed:

2. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

It’s no secret that love exists, but does self-love exist in your life? As a self-proclaimed relationship addict, I was always stuck on this idea that once I found that perfect someone, I would have that perfect life. The thing is, I was never able fully love anyone because no one could fill my heart other than myself.

This book may feel thin as it comes at 126 pages, but it is interwoven with thorough analysis and work of other researchers and writers just like the author herself. Ten essential factors underlying wholehearted living are detailed in separate chapters. But instead of feeling overwhelmed that you are not absorbing all ten, decide your own guideposts: stop comparing yourself to others and be okay with your imperfections.

For the self-doubters and those feeling vulnerable:

3. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Yeah yeah, I put two books on here with the same author. But this goes on my list because I will never forget it. Just last year I seemed to have read this book at the perfect time. I started my first full-time job and being the youngest of the my team, vulnerability was written on my forehead. I had no previous nurse practitioner or even nursing experience and what was supposed to be constructive criticism from my peers felt like hard-core put-down shame.

This book reinforces the idea that allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a sign of strength and courage. Read that again. Vulnerability means strength, not weakness. And believe it or not, shame is everywhere – we all have it, and we all experience shame. It’s just no one wants to talk about it. The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives, and this book details what we can do about this!

For those who want a personal touch:

4. Educated: A Memoir

The author of this book is not just educated – she is brave. Determined to get a formal education, the seventh child of Mormon parents recounts her incredulous journey of rebelling against her parents’ isolating world. It is not an easy story to tell. There are many injustices and traumatic events surrounding her upbringing. There are moments when you want to look away because your heart aches from the repeated horror stories of abuse and neglect.

But she does it. She gets accepted into Cambridge to pursue her Ph.D in history. And even then, she looks back on her childhood with clarity and surprisingly with love. This book certainly puts your current hardships into perspective, and it challenges us to see how change in what seems to be a preset course is possible.

For those who want a quick read:

5. The Sun and Her Flowers

A book that is always resting at my bedside table. Poems have the ability to heal the soul. And I dare you to read some of the most beautiful poems about growing and healing!

And voila! There you have it. My favorite self help book list for 2019. Happy reading! And let me know what you think of them!

Disclaimer: tallkoreangirl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Intermittent fasting: Is it for me?

I have been intermittent fasting (IF) for about five months now.

My day goes as follows: I skip a typical breakfast and eat two meals, the first around 11 am and the second between 6-7 pm (with a snack or two in between). Then, I fast for 16 hours until I start eating again the next day at 11 am. This is the 16:8 method.

There is no dramatic weight loss picture or body fat/muscle mass measurement that I can show you, as the last time I weighed myself was at my yearly work physical and the time before that was at my previous yearly physical. But to my surprise, here are some of the changes I have noticed:

  • I went from a 28 to 27 in pants size (even a 26 at Urban Outfitters!)
  • My mind in the mornings have been a lot clearer – I focus on my tasks easier and I have more energy in the mornings (even without my bacon egg and cheese bagel from Spread!)
  • I drink more water (I will get to that down below).
  • I don’t struggle with late-night indigestion as I did before.

Now at this point, you’re probably thinking that this is just a coincidence that all of this happened or there’s some kind of fitness plan I additionally followed. And I think you will be surprised to hear that IF is the only thing that I have consistently followed in the past couple of months.

But Carol, this is a diet plan.
You can’t be on it forever as it’s not healthy!
Why are you starving yourself?
How can you skip the most important meal of the day?

These are the most common questions I get at work when I tell my coworkers about IF. In this post, I’m going to break down what really is intermittent fasting, how I incorporated it into my lifestyle, and how you can look into it today!

What is intermittent fasting (IF)?

Intermittent fasting for weight loss has been dated back to 1946 (although the subjects were mice). In the past decade, it started to gain popularity with stories of its effectiveness, one including Dr. Jason Fun’s bestseller The Obesity Code.

There are many versions to IF: 5:2, 14:10, 24 hour method, 16:8. I did my fair research into what could be sustainable and most doable for my lifestyle, and at the beginning of this year, I chose the 16:8 method – or 16 hours of fasting followed by an 8-hour eating window.

Long story short – when you eat, it takes about 3-5 hours to digest and absorb the food you just ate (this is called the “fed state”). Because your insulin levels are high, it is hard to burn body fat in this state. The “post-absorptive state” is the 8-12 hours after your last meal. Insulin levels will now be low, making it easier to burn body fat while in this state.

Essentially, fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that you rarely make it to during a normal eating schedule.

Hackensack Meridian Health

This is one of the reasons why many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat, how much they eat, or how often they exercise. It’s all about the timing!

How do you IF?

I work in an environment where my lunch can be at exactly at 11 am or patients start backing up and I get five minutes to eat at 2 pm. Every day is different!

At first, I questioned how I could even go about seeing patients throughout the day without getting hangry. But here is what works for me:

My “breakfast” is a tall (maybe grande) Pike from Starbucks with a splash of almond milk and half of a Splenda packet. I always ask for a Venti ice water and I set a goal to finish this before I “break” my fast. If I know it’ll be a crazy clinic day, I end up packing more snacks (because usually my lunches need to be heated) and leave it out at my desk so that I can easily grab one at 11 am (or whenever I get the chance to eat it).

There is absolutely nothing special about my lunches or dinners. My lunches can range from chicken vegetable soup from Gia Kitchen to some leftovers from the dinner the day before. And you already know my dinners are mostly Korean dishes, as I can’t last a day without eating something Korean!

Something I noted is that I actually found myself drinking more water throughout the day (especially in the morning before my fast). Prior to IF, I would be so focused on eating my meals that I forgot to drink water before, during, or after a meal. (Crazy, I know but this homegirl was so focused on food food food.) But now I make sure to have at least 8 oz before eating my meals because believe it or not, this not only helps digestion but also regulating your appetite (read about it here).

Do you IF every day?

Absolutely not! I went on vacation recently to see my boyfriend in Charleston and trust me, there were lots of ramen at midnight and warm bagels at 8 am.

And at this point in my life, I am not in a frenzy about losing weight. I will go into what my current fitness goals are in a separate post next week but as for now I am doing this because it has made me more aware and mindful of what I am eating and when. I was a huge late-night snacker which led to major indigestion issues before I went to bed but now it just makes life simpler. I don’t have to prepare breakfast and I am not counting calories.

To note, I want to make it clear that this is NOT restrictive eating. If you find that your hunger is of concern, don’t be afraid to break the fast. Listen to your body! Do not let yourself stress about eating at 10:59 am or at 730 instead of 7.

The decision to put your health front and center is the ULTIMATE act of self-love. We have to launch our journey from a place of love, and see the process to becoming healthier as a true journey with no end destination. It is simply to bring you to a higher connection with life.

And I really want to emphasize this.

Intermittent fasting is not about ‘how long can I go until I feel dizzy?’ Just like you would do with any diet/weight loss/get healthy plan, do your research. There is a long line of people who have shared their successes but no plan is a one size fits all. Some of the books that can put the first step in your journey: for women, for the skeptics, for the beginners.

Ask me anything about my progress so far! And if you want to learn more about intermittent fasting, stay tuned for the upcoming posts on the health benefits and tips on how you can get on the IF train!

*Disclaimer: although I am a healthcare professional, I am not a certified nutritionist or a fitness/weight loss expert. tallkoreangirl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. *Disclaimer: although I am a healthcare professional, I am not a certified nutritionist or a fitness/weight loss expert.

X1 Flash Part 1: Sweat and tears make a debut?

The saga continues for the eleven members who made the final line-up of Produce X 101. A two-part reality series called X1 Flash (to promote their upcoming release of the title song, ‘Flash’) aired this week. It highlights some of the events leading up to their debut showcase on August 27 in Gocheok Sky Dome, the same place Wanna One debuted two years ago.

Here are some of my 11 highlights (ha, get it) from this first episode!

1. Why do you have to take the members to a dark, scary deserted building with no walls for their interviews? Not only does this creepy place have zero security whatsoever but the members get interviewed through an old TV screen. Creepy much?

2. The intro is very solemn. To refresh your memory, immediately after the final episode of Produce X 101, news outlets reported that the voting system was rigged. There were actually concerns and lots of doubt that this group would get to debut because of what the Mnet producers might have caused. It is incredibly sad to watch the members say in their interviews how they didn’t think that they would be able to debut.

3. The choreography for the title track is no joke. Not only did every single member question whether they could even master the dance moves when they initially saw it, but everyone is getting hurt left and right. If that’s not difficult enough, they are also throwing in some major acrobatics for their photo shoots! And yes, that’s Han Gyul’s same foot that just did that major turn above!

4. But the pain brings all the members are closer than ever. Han Seun Woo is the leader and although he was initially closed off, he revealed that over the past couple of months, each one of them was able to open up to one another (and I guess it helps that they all live in the same apartment).

5. Two words for Seung Yeon: glass skin. Even with the close-up, I couldn’t find one pore on this guy. WHAT IS YOUR SKIN ROUTINE?!

6. Seung Woo made his grand v-neck appearance in today’s episode. If you have no idea why I’m making this reference, click here. You’re welcome.

7. Eun Sang reveals that instead of having this greed to be the top, he feels like he is lacking in many ways. This is concerning especially to the X1 fans as he expressed similar concerns in his journey through Produce X 101. Eventually, we were able to see how he overcame some of those fears towards the end of the competition. We’re all hoping that his insecurities and worries don’t hinder his performances because we all know that you are already doing great!

8. Although the intro started out pretty solemn, the episode ends with fireworks with the clips from the members’ interview of how they are going to be hopeful about their debut showcase. There were a lot of downs and pitfalls that these guys had to go through in just a span of a month or two but the episode ending like this instills hopes in us fans that things from now will look up!

9. The highlight medley for their mini album. Speaking of which, this album (not even released yet) has already made Billboard charts by going from No 6. to No. 2 on the Social 50 tally (updated 8/25/19).

10. I know, I know. We’re not supposed to have our favorites. But I can’t help when Seung Yeon comes in with his jokes. This guy is definitely the comic relief of the group and at the end of the episode, there was an epilogue of how he thought his room was the best.

11. And in the preview for next week’s episode, it looks like we’ll see what he’s talking about!

*All photo, video, and content credit to Mnet and the show X1 Flash.

Love Catcher S2 E1: Would you choose: love or money?

This week, the Korean TV show, Love Catcher, came back for season 2! If you are a fan of reality shows like me, you know that season 1 was an all-time nail biter and it looks like season 2 will not be let us down!

To summarize the show: 10 participants divvy up into “love catchers” who are out to find true love, and “money catchers” who join with the goal of winning the 50 million won (or $45,000) prize. Love catchers should avoid money catchers when finding their partners. On the other hand, those going after the money can only win the prize by partnering with love catchers. If they end up with another money catcher, they are dropped from the game and do not win any money. And all in the span of 8 days!

Spoiler alert: cooking is a way to a girl’s heart.

The first episode started off with 5 women and 5 men walking into this big-ass picture-perfect pension. (In Korea, a pension is a type of guest house.) A couple things to note before we even delve into their awkward first appearances:

  • Where does one even find such a pension in Korea and how does Mnet finance this elevator-incorporated infinity-pool pension?
  • Two words: interior design. I mean, did you see that dining and living areas? I was just eyeing for a new coffee table!
  • Anyone catch the cars they got out of? Red BMW convertible for the win.
  • What is up with white pants and fancy watches on these guys?

Now let’s start off with my first impressions of each guest (in the order of their arrival to the house):

Kim Min Seok (김민석) is the first to arrive and we get it – you’re the first to arrive and are incredibly nervous. But c’mon, you are 30 years old and still having trouble saying hi to the other guests here???

Jung Chan Woo (정찬우) is my favorite thus far – a 190 cm tailor who packed probably half a year’s worth of clothes for eight days. My bet is he is here for love – I mean look at the way he looks at Ga Bin already!

Kim Ga Bin (김가빈) is definitely going to be my girl favorite. Contrary to my initial belief, she is not a fitting model or an inspiring actress but a 23-year-old college student whose online bio states that her main purpose is to find the meaning of love (or so we are led to believe).

Song Sae Ra (송세라) has some dominant unnie vibe going on. Plus she’s a banker and comes on a show to win money (coincidence?)

Park Jung Jin (박정진) seems like a sweet guy who likes to play guitar in his spare time. Also this guy never got the credit where it’s due – a lot of attention was on In Ook in the dinner preparing scenes when you can tell Jung Jin was also cooking in the kitchen with him!

Kim So Young (김소영) gives me Park Bo Young vibes. Cute but girl, we know you wanted to make a statement with that spaghetti-strapped dress. Side note: she said she doesn’t like to swim but goes to the pool just to wear bikinis??

Kim In Ook (김인욱) is the millionaire body builder cafe/franchise owner. Everyone has an eye for him (whether it be from his physique or his $).

Lee Young Seo (이영서) I think is the boring one of the group. Her fun fact online is that she’s best friends with Robin (the winner from Season 1)……

Jang Yeon Woo (장연우) is all about that I-don’t-give-a-crap-attitude. The black pants, country accent hairdresser is surprisingly the youngest of the group!

And then Kim Chae Rang (김채랑) is the last to arrive and in my opinion, although not my favorite, will be the drama queen of the group. My girl senses are just tingling that this girl is all about winning the money.

After everyone changes and settles into their respective rooms, we get into the dinner scene. In Ook clearly has an interest in Ga Bin, while all the ladies have googly eyes for his fancy snap when he cooks the veggies.

And then Chae Rang comes in full swing. She likes what she sees and literally swoops the prongs out of Ga Bin’s hand to cook the beef herself just to be next to In Ook. (Did anyone catch how she told In Ook, “I always seem to cook the beef in situations like this” like she didn’t want to?! Girl, who you trying to play!!). This makes Ga Bin speechless and uncomfortable, but here comes Chan Woo who walks to where Ga Bin is to makes sure she’s okay. Sweet moment #49217.

My favorite is when all of sudden as everyone is finishing dinner, Chan Woo asks the group who wants to cook breakfast with him the following day. To note he states that he clearly does not eat breakfast. It’s pretty clear he’s making his move on Ga Bin who stated that morning that she doesn’t go about her day without eating breakfast. And let’s just say, In Ook is not happy with where things are going.

My current bets are as follows:
Love Catchers: Chan Woo, Jung Jin, Yeon Woo, Ka Bin, Sae Ra, So Young
Money Catchers: Chae Rang, Young Seo, Min Seok, In Ook

Next week’s preview does not look good for the WooBin couple (Chan Woo and Ka Bin). Looks like Chan Woo may have forgotten about his breakfast date? And the girls get in on a wedding photo shoot! But let’s see how that goes.

And there you have it. The first impression episode! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

All pictures, GIFs, and content is credited to Mnet and Love Catcher.
Disclaimer: tallkoreangirl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.

Are long distance relationships worth it?

676 miles between us.
This equals 13 hours of driving (or 8.7 days of walking!)

I’m in Philadelphia and my boyfriend currently resides in Charleston. But this has not always been the case. Today marks 8 months of us being apart (physically).

Unless you start off on a dating site and find your significant other in a far away city or even country, going from being together 24/7 to once a month is a major transition that involves a lot of work, money, time on both parties.

One question I get a lot is, “Is it even worth it?”

Not going to lie, at first I was pretty pessimistic. I mean, you’re reading about a girl who literally required a good night cuddle to fall asleep every night. In addition to my needy self, I admit that I was jealous that I wasn’t the one moving – the one getting a fresh start in a new city. He was. He got a big promotion in his amazing company and a new field that he loved.

He was starting it in a city that ranked No. 1 U.S. city for the past seven years while I lived in a city that ranked the worst for sleep health(?!). I mean, c’mon.

Eventually, it took a physical toll. I tossed and tumbled in my sleep for weeks months on end. Aromatherapy, adult weight blankets, meditation, a warm shower before bed were initially successful but the effects never lasted. Leading my nightly sleep to average around 4 or 5 hours. (May be ‘normal’ to some, but to put it into perspective, if I get 8 hours of sleep I order a tall coffee from Starbucks while if I get half of that I need a Venti and possibly a good slap in the face by noon.)

I was sick of feeling that way – not just from the lack of sleep but from seeing couples walk by holding hands when the only thing in my hand was my iPhone, eating dinner alone, and not being able to enjoy a sunny day outside together.

My thoughts rapidly went from ‘man, long distance relationships are hard’ to ‘this long distance relationship is killing me.’

And by the third month, I wanted out.

I wanted out not because there were too many unresolved arguments between me and my boyfriend but because I became selfish.

If you’re currently in or are about to be in a long distance relationship, I urge you to ask: why are you really worried, and is the long distance relationship worth it?

For me, my trust for my boyfriend or myself never wavered. It was me saying “I can’t do this” before “this (long distance)” even began. Think about it: I slept great before I even met my boyfriend, why am I blaming him and his move for my lack of sleep?

My relationship CPR came from self-discovery and self-improvement practices that I carry to this day. It was from me passing couples all lovey dovey and knowing that I have a boyfriend who loves me just as much, Facetiming while cooking and eating dinner together, and being completely okay enjoying a sunny day outside by myself.

Are long distance relationships worth it?

Fight for it. Fight for you and your partner – because distance is not why long distance relationships fail.

My transformation story – How I struggled with my body image

What’s wrong with me? Why am I not like her? Why am I like this?

These were my daily thoughts as I would mindlessly scroll through social media.

Believe it or not, research has it that we complain about 15 to 30 times a day or every 32 minutes that we’re awake. If that doesn’t make your mind spin a bit, it was estimated that 80% of our daily thoughts were negative and that such thoughts had toxic effects on our body. And this day and age, social media has propelled to this to be exponentially worse.

So many times I’ve failed to see what I had right in front of me because I was so busy wishing, ‘what if.’ And a huge chunk of those times it was about my body image. Each morning, I woke up dreading how I would look in the mirror and every night I would sleeplessly think about how I looked to others.

This post details the real, raw no-Photoshop truth of my story and how I got to be where I am today. I hesitated initially to even post these pictures publicly – yet alone look at them now. But I write this to shed light on how pictures are far from what they seem.

I write to let you know that you are not alone.

Let’s go back to 2011 when I was starting college at Penn. It’s crazy now how I can pinpoint a time in my life when things started to take a rough turn. But I was going through my photo album and the photo on the left is actually the ONLY picture I kept from my freshman year. And yes, it’s because I met Ashley from the Bachelorette that day and our shirts coincidentally matched. It’s the only picture I have because freshman 15 20 was real.

Speaking of Bachelor Nation, definitely on #teamDylan

On the right is a selfie I took after I went to the school gym … AFTER I binged on a family size bag of chips and Wawa candy in the span of an hour for five days straight, making an excuse of how I was super stressed about finals. I put on a fake smile, sucked my belly in as hard as I could and took that picture. The next day, I went back to binge eating.

Then comes the following year where I decided new me = new hair(?) It was an anxious year as I traveled solo to Korea by myself with really no other memories than feeling so self-conscious about my above average height and weight that I regretted the trip altogether. Still unclear why the standard size at Korean markets 44 (or US size 2)? But I actually remember catching myself Googling (or Naver-ing), “how to lose weight to look like a skinny Korean” once I came back from the trip. Ridiculous, right?

My senior year of undergrad was when I hit my peak weight. Although I never routinely weighed myself, I was embarrassed when getting my physical that year. My mom begs to differ but I thought the nurse practically shouted across the whole room my weight when I got off the scale. I cried for days, thinking I could never feel comfortable in my own skin. I went through senior year more confused than ever about where I wanted to go after college and who I was as a person – and I blamed that moment as the tipping point.

I wondered how people saw my life through what was posted on social media: did people think of me as successful, did I look pretty enough in certain photos, did I look too tall or fat, did I have any major life events that measured up to those of others? How I looked at myself was through the lens of those around me, leading me to a perpetual worry and desire for something more – and eventually losing the love of myself and my body.

This is me now. Okay, maybe a little less tan than this. But I am actually starting to feel comfortable in my body, my skin, my 5’11” unknown-weight self. Even the first pic of me where I ran with just a sports bra on – that was a first, ever!!!

No abs, no butt, no secret meal plan or strict fitness routine but when I go about my day today it doesn’t start with negative self-talk. In fact, I don’t think my weight has even changed much from my senior year! It’s just I can tell my mindset is different. Looking back, what hits me the hardest is knowing I had the ability all along to start the changes to get me to a better place.

Instilling confidence that I have this ability –
that’s what was (actually still is) my biggest struggle.

Take these daily affirmations with you as you go with your days forward:

  • Worrying and complaining change nothing.
  • When you’re trying to control too much, you enjoy too little.
  • You are good enough.
  • Trust me, you are not alone.

If there is one takeaway from this, I urge you to start here and today. If you’re feeling stuck in a place you don’t want to be in, this is your chance to figure out what you had all along. The secret is, the universe will not do it for you. You have to discover it.

Remember this. Even if you have a good reason to be angry or resentful at yourself, don’t. Channel your energy into thoughts and actions that actually benefit your life.
-Getting Back to Happy

Saying ‘no’ to self-hate

I am saying ‘no’ because you have ruined my relationships and have halted my progress in the current one. I am saying ‘no’ because too many times I have cried on the floor holding my chest, thinking that my heart would shatter if I didn’t. I am saying ‘no’ because there is more to life than you. 

I am saying ‘no’ to self-hate.

My name is Carol.

I am not a fitness guru or a social media influencer. I am your average Joe who has believed for most of her life that being skinny, rich and insta-famous were the ways to happiness – so that is exactly what I always strived to be.

Until yesterday. 

I was done. Fed up. Sick of the way my recent vacation ended. I could not look at my boyfriend’s face and tell him that I wanted to be there with him because the only thing I was focused on was how bad I felt about myself. All I wanted to do was to hole up and pity myself. I indeed indulged on one too many desserts and possibly a late-night cup ramen here and there but that was no excuse for treating him like I did.

It was disgusting; I was disgusted with myself.

But this was not the only time. There were many, many, many (^1000) times when I would feel this way and it would take an arm and a leg (and maybe another limb) to raise me back up to an ‘okay’ state.

This has to stop – and not just with me, but for everyone out there. For you, my future babies, your future (and current) babies but especially for you.

This blog is not to detail the perfect journey from how I came from a self-loathing grinch to a self-loving angel within a couple of weeks. It’s not a cheat sheet on answers to curing body-shaming or the pathway to happiness. It’s far from it.

It’s the raw truth of me – a 20-something-year-old girl still trying to find my identity and figure out who I am, what I’m doing, where I’m going and all the while trying to love myself in the process.

I encourage you this week to mark the number of times when you think the words “I look ugly” or “I look ______” (with a negative adjective there). Total them up. 

If it’s more than 0, start right here. Start with this blog. Join me every Monday, Thursday and Saturday (yes, three times in one week!) to discover (and love) a little more of you. Let’s go on this journey together.