Disclaimer: I am not a licensed professional in nutrition or medicine. This is my personal story and journey. Consult a doctor before making major nutritional changes.
I have a confession: I'm a serial dieter. I've been hopping from fad diet to fad diet ever since the 5th grade. I've tried juice cleanses and single food diets and being vegetarian and cutting out carbs and even the Hollywood Cookie Diet that one time (I did it for 2 days before I quit, but I did end up with lots of yummy cookie snacks). All of this effort to try to achieve my perfect weight, which according to my mom, is always 20 pounds lighter than my current weight. Well, none of it had ever worked, not because the diets were crazy (well, the cookie diet was a little crazy), but because I never found one that I could stick to for one simple reason: I LOVE food. So, the years went by and my weight kept going up. I was never conventionally fat, but I was perpetually flirting with the line between healthy and overweight.
Last Christmas, 2017, I resolved to lose some weight. 10 lbs, not too crazy. Sure, I'd had weight loss as a resolution for the past 10 years, but I figured I'd give it another try. A real try this time. You see, I'd just graduated from college, I had a gym membership, a gym buddy (the boyfriend), and maximum control of what I put into my body. Armed with my Fitbit Alta and the matching app, I was ready.
Now, I've tried counting calories before, but those diets ended quickly due to 1) my lack of knowledge on how many calories are in any given food item, and 2) pure and simple laziness. But this time, I had help. The Fitbit app supplied me with all the information I needed including calories out, calories in, and a calorie counter set to losing one pound each week. For 4 months, I followed the app to a T. However, the results weren't so great. I was essentially binging and purging, but instead of throwing up, I'd walk laps around my building or in the hallway, just to earn that bubble tea. But I was obsessed. My Fitbit controlled my life.
It wasn't until I was in a performance that strictly prohibited jewelry that I was forced to part with my Fitbit device. Without the knowledge of how many calories I was putting out, I had to set a consistent calories-in value. That was when I stumbled onto Kathryn Morgan's Youtube Channel. She's a real life ballerina who danced with the New York City Ballet as a principle dancer. In one of her videos, she said that she eats about 1500 calories a day. And I decided if that's enough for a ballerina, then it's enough for me.
When I started limiting my calories to around 1500 each day, something unexpected happened. Something good: slowly but surely, the numbers on the scale started going down. To my surprise, the months of looking up calories for every food item and carefully measuring out food portions allowed me to eyeball food and get pretty darn close to it's caloric content. I started to gravitate toward whole foods and less processed foods because they are naturally lower in calories than their heavily-processed equivalents. I can have cheat days as long as at the end of the week, the average calories in clocked in at around 1500. And, best of all, it doesn't feel like a chore. It's completely sustainable for me.
Now, 7 months after my New Years resolution, I've lost 10 pounds. I wanted to share this story with you because counting calories generally gets a bad rap for causing obsessive behaviors. Or else, it's seen as a way to go on a junk food starvation diet. But I'm here to tell you that it is doable, and if you do it right, you'll think twice about grabbing that cupcake when you are in need of something sweet and reach for a peach instead. You may decide to wrap up half of a big meal and have the leftovers for another meal. Calorie counting is a tool to make you aware of what you are putting in your body. So if you would like to change your eating habits, don't blow off this method. Just be aware of why you are doing it and how this tool will help you. And if you try it and it doesn't work for you, that's great, too! Go on and experiment with other healthy diets and find the most sustainable one for you. And hey, good luck on your nutrition journey!
I thought I was going to go into opera. In opera, you don't need to dance. You just need to sing. So when I made the change to Musical Theatre, I suddenly realized how behind I am on my dance training.
Last week, I attended an audition for a show that focuses heavily on both singing and dancing. After the singer call, they seemed to like me - at least, they seemed to like me enough to ask me if I could dance. Now, my dance training consists of some afternoon dance classes in the 1st grade and two years of ice skating. Basically non-existent. (I'm working on it, though!) Anyway, they called me back to dance the next day (to be honest, I feel like a random high B will get anyone a call-back).
So there I was the next day, dressed in my yoga pants and long-sleeve shirt among dozens of beautiful girls dressed in nude fishnets and leotards. But, see, this isn't my first audition anymore, so I just wrote in my journal and minded my own business. After 3 hours of waiting, they asked us to go in. It was a group of 30 women, all called back for the same role. The routine given to us was, as described by the choreographer, half show-girl and half Latin.
And then it began. Kicks and turns and ball changes and stuff I have never heard before were thrown at me. After the first couple of tries, I realized I'm drowning in the deep end. Why did I attend a dance call when I obviously can't dance? Before I could beat myself up for it, I remembered what my friend had told me the night before: If you can't do the routine, then act the hell out of it. So that's exactly what I did. I was called in the first group to dance. I got lost, but I gave them my best character.
We did the routine two times, and I was getting ready to be dismissed to the side of the room when the casting director called my name. "Kathee, can you do a single time step?" My first reaction: What is a time step? Turns out, it's a standard tap dance step, and I had no idea what it was. "If you can't, just say no. It's okay," the casting director said kindly. I guess he saw me panic. "Nope," I said, and my resume was immediately put in the reject pile.
Well, that was that. The moral of this story? I need to get more dance training, fast. But also, I evaluated how far I've come in just one month in New York. I didn't beat myself up. I didn't get disappointed. I got a free dance lesson, and now I know what a dance call looks like. So it's off to dance classes I go, and I couldn't be more excited.
Hi! Mommy finally came back from NYC this weekend! It's been the longest time. I was so happy when she came home with grandma I ran around her in circles to show how ecstatic I was that she's finally home! Mommy told me I should formally introduce myself to the world, and I've never really done that before (though I have appeared online before). Here I go:
When I was little, barely covered in fluff, I had to go around the streets looking for food. Then, a long time later, some nice people found me under a bridge where I was digging through some people food that smelled really odd and brought me back to a place with big lights and doors. There, they gave me some doggie food and lots of water. Then, one day, I woke up, and my belly was all sore. Soon after, I was moved to my own room.
The people kept talking about the SPCA while I was in my own room. There were different people there all the time, but I didn't like them very much. They wanted to pick me up and pet me, but I didn't like it. And then, one day, mommy came in and I took one sniff and realized that she is my human! I jumped into her arms and she cuddled me for an hour straight! Then she left and I was so sad I didn't want to eat anything. I thought she'd never come back! But the next day, she came back with grandma and grandpa, and I've been with her ever since.
I try to be a good girl. I potty trained myself and I never complained. When I was little, I'd defeat all of my squishy opponents and tear out their stuffings. But these days, I prefer to cuddle with them instead and only chew on mommy's underwear.
When I was one, mommy brought home a little black squishy thing. He had the biggest ears I've ever seen! I thought he was a toy, so I tried to bite him and tear out his stuffings, too. But then he looked at me and sniffed me! Well, I was so scared I jumped and ran around while that little thing chased me! It was really quite embarrassing. Eventually, I got it through my head that he's my little brother his name is Milo. But, oh gosh is he annoying. He is always following me and cuddling up to me. Can't a girl just get some peace and quiet once in a while?
When I was four, grandpa drove Milo and me from home where the weather is nice and we're close to the beach to a place where it's scalding for a long time and then freezing for a long time and then scalding again. I mean, what's that white stuff on the ground and what does it do besides make my paws all cold and numb?
Now I'm six and my favorite thing to do is help mommy with cooking. She always puts things on the ground for me to eat. Sometimes she throws things on the ground and then yell at me when I try to eat it and feed it to the trash can. I wish I were the trash can. He gets all the good stuff.
Some hobbies of mine: cuddling with mommy in bed (though she has recently moved our cuddling to the bath tub... But there's no water so I guess it's okay), eating Greenies (those things are so yummy), taking walks outside (preferably without Milo, but that doesn't happen often), and sitting behind mommy while she works at her desk. My biggest pet peeve is that mommy sometimes leaves me with grandpa without any warning for a long period of time, and I don't get to see her. My dream is for mommy to be home all the time and for Milo to disappear when I don't want him to be here and reappear when I get lonely. Also, I wish mommy would stop holding me while she practices. She used to squeeze me too tight but now she's gotten a little better, but it's still loud.
So that's a little bit about me. I'll probably be writing a couple more posts in the future. Nice talking to you! Have a good day and I wish you many Greenies in the future.
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When I announced to my parents I wanted to major in voice at the end of my freshman year of high school, they thought it was a joke. And they laughed about it and told me it was funny. It took a year for it to sink in that I was serious. I don't blame them. I've had many hobbies in the past - ice skating, ballet, art, math olympiad - and none of it lasted long. They had no reason to trust a 15-year-old with the attention span of a squirrel to actually carry through on the "whole singing thing." Back when I told them of my newly-found dream, I had just completed my first year of choir and a total of 4 months of voice training. During that time, I had, somehow, gotten into both sectional- and regional honor choir and spend two glorious weekends rehearsing and performing. I was hooked.
My parents, though lax compared to most other Chinese parents, had their eyes set on something more practical for me: business. I'd always been good at math and science. And, what's more, I genuinely enjoyed it. Though I told people that I was taking AP Chem just to get the GPA bump, the truth was I loved every minute of it. But music became a big part of my life. I looked forward to choir and band more than anything else. I loved belting out show tunes in my room and annoying the neighbors. And, during those rare honor choir weekends, I would pretend that this is what I did for a living and sang like I was being paid for it. For my last two years of high school, I commuted an hour each way to my voice lesson every week, sometimes twice a week. I was in love with singing. I couldn't imagine not doing it for a living.
And then college application time rolled around. My parents were worried that I'd started too late to get into a performance program. Plus, even if I did, what are the chances I'd have a stable career? They picked seven schools for me, all for music education, music business, and general arts degrees. I got to pick three that I actually wanted to go to, but also for music education. I didn't care at the time. As long as I got into a music program, I was happy.
One crazy year later, I was starting as a music education major at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, one of the best schools for music educators in the country. I went to the mandatory music ed meeting during orientation, and promptly changed my BM in Ed to a BA in Music the first week of school. My argument, which I still 100% agree with: the world doesn't need another bad music teacher. See, I've been blessed with so many good music teachers. But I've also seen my fair share of teachers who would rather be doing something else. I didn't want to be one of those teachers who would rather be performing and blame their students for their current position.
My first voice lesson went something like this:
Me: I want to be a voice performance major.
My teacher: What major are you now?
Me: Music ed. But I don't really want to do the whole... teaching thing...
My teacher: Well, I have to hear you sing, but you can audition into it.
Me: Oh great! When can I do that?
Cut to me unable to do any simple vocalizes because of my unhealthy belt habit and my split register. Really though, I had a gigantic hole in my middle voice.
For the next two years, I would ask my teacher every other lesson when I would be ready to audition into voice performance. I'm not exaggerating when I say I have the best voice teacher in the world. She was patient, kind, insightful, and gave me all the courage to keep trying. After two years of hard work, but also multiple break downs and a brief period as a voice and piano double major (wow did that end quickly), I was finally declared ready to go for it. (Of course, that was also the last chance for me to try. We literally waited until the last possible moment.) Three songs and multiple questions later, I was accepted. I cried tears of happiness and began preparing for my now-mandatory junior recital.
The rest of my college career passed in a blur. I almost failed my level three jury, but somehow got through by the skin of my teeth. After that, I went to Florence, Italy to study Italian opera. I took lessons in the city twice a week. I sang my senior recital without forgetting a word. I got to be a part of the group that sang at both Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. I graduated a semester earlier than expected. And I got cast in my first show since high school.
I look back at that 15-year-old girl who has barely started and I see how far I've come. I am thankful for every one of my educators, and especially my current voice teacher for believing in me and giving me a chance. I am thankful for my parents who took some convincing and a few years to come around, but are now fully supportive of my dream.
I had just become truly comfortable at school, and now I'm out of it. I'll go to a bigger pond, where I'm the smallest fish once again. It's a scary though. New York City is a big place. But hopefully, seven years down the road, I'll look back at me now - 22, just out of college, full of fear and anticipation - and I'll think to myself: I've come so far.