The ugly duckling doesn’t forget the past.



There’s a pain inside me that’s never really gone away. Growing up, I never felt beautiful – I was always the biggest girl in my class and my family often acknowledged my lack of being SKINNY. Yes, I said, “skinny.” I grew up in a Traditional Filipino household and a majority of my family still kept traditional Filipino values. This included their image of what a girl, now I my case, a woman, should look like. To them, short and skinny was “sexy.” That sounds ridiculous right? Now, I mean no offense towards skinny people out there, but I grew up never being small; so please look at this from my perspective.

I grew up believing I was ugly – can you imagine being 8 years old and constantly hearing your family tell you how “fat” you are? I sure can. Only because I lived it. Flash forward to my early 20’s. I lost almost 40 pounds and suddenly, I get compliments on my image not only from my family, but from strangers. I didn’t know how to perceive all of this new POSITIVE attention.

I’m now in my mid/late 20’s and guess what? Life happened and I gained 30 pounds back. What’s interesting is that no one seems to believe me. I should take that as a compliment, right? I don’t. I say this because even at my smallest, I always remained insecure. And while I look the same in the eyes of people who know me, I feel worse because I know myself I’ve let myself go again. I feel like I’m at a constant mental battle with my body image. No matter how motivated I am, or how I seem to motivate others, I always have this insecurity inside that never seems to go away.

Tears are running down my cheeks as I write this, because I know I shouldn’t feel like this. God has given me this body and I should love myself. I should not worry what other people think – but like many, I do. We live in this world where the media has tricked us into believing there’s a certain image that is the epitome of beauty. With that, and what was instilled in my mind as a child has mentally challenged my body confidence. It’s something I’m working on everyday, but it’s certainly one of those things that I let my past dictate. I promise, I’m working on it.


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I’m finally a college grad!

It’s been MONTHS since I’ve blogged, I know. I haven’t blogged since around the end of March. I hate to use it as an excuse, but the reason for the neglect is due to my last quarter of college! I’m proud to finally say that I’m a college graduate. I earned my B.A. in Communication and Minor in Business – a 4 year degree that took me an entire 7 years to finish. I remember a time when I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life; I knew I wanted to finish something in school, but I didn’t know what in. You see, I come from a family who has never had anyone graduate college, and with that, included years of pressure with little to no guidance.

I come from a very traditional Filipino family – complete with 2 older brothers and a whole bunch of cousins. Remember that movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Aside from my family not discouraging me from going to a university, my life is very similar to what Toula’s was. From the moment I was born, it was instilled into my mind that my purpose in life was to become either a nurse or doctor, get married at a young age and have tons of babies. I’m sure you can imagine what my entire family is thinking now that I’m 25, with a degree and still lack a family of my own. lol. Hell, they still question why it took me so long to graduate! Anyway, about school, what they didn’t understand is attending college here is completely different from attending in the Philippines. Different in a way that waiting to get ACCEPTED into a college is so stressful. I applied to 3 universities in high school, but of course, my mind was in one specific college and with the influence from my family, go to school for dentistry. I thought my plans were set in stone, but of course, life happens. Long story short, I didn’t get in the university I wanted, I dwelled on it for a few months and finally got myself to enroll in a community college the following January (in Washington state, most universities go by a quarterly schedule).

I enrolled in classes that would fulfill a pre-dental program and I must say, that was the worst mistake of my life. I was never a fan of math or science, so of course I was miserable in school. About a year a later and still so confused with life, a cousin recommended I try to enroll into the Art Institute for Fashion Marketing – even a bigger mistake because a year after that, I dropped out completely; even more miserable. Similar to the months after high school, I dwelled and saw myself as a failure. What was even more disappointing was feeling of my family thinking I failed. Surprisingly, the best thing happened to me within those months. Instead of seeking answers from the people closest to me, I finally spent a long time praying and thinking about what made me happy – being creative. Something that DID come of use to me at the Art Institute was learning that I loved all the business and graphic design classes. Shortly after, I enrolled back into a community college and after one quarter, transferred to the University of Washington to major in Communication and minor in business – ultimately wanting to get into a career in either PR, Advertising or Marketing. It was the perfect major for me because it hit all the elements of digital design that I loved, all while learning the basic principles of business. Sadly, none of my credits from the Art Institute transferred to the UW, but 3 years later, I walked across the stage in front of my family and finally and graduated!


Words cannot express how relieved and proud I am of myself that I’ve gone through this huge accomplishment in life. It’s funny because everyone I’ve ever met tell me that I’m “too nice” and I let people walk all over me. I see it now how much that WAS so true. I love my family to death, as do many people love their families, but what I’ve learned through all of this is to remember to keep an open mind with other people’s opinions, but at the end of the day, I need base decisions on what makes myself happy, and not other people. Anyway, here I am blabbing on. The day right after graduation, I rewarded my accomplishment with the most AMAZING trip to Europe! Blog post about my vacation will be posted soon :)!

What’s next for me? I’m actively seeking a new full time job that’s more pertaining to my degree and I’m looking into grad schools! I’ll keep you all posted!



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Experimenting in the Kitchen.

I live at home with my parents, brother, sister-in-law and nephew. Yeah, I know, we’re sort of an epitome of a real-life Full House cast. While I love living at home where someone is always there for support, that’s just the problem, someone is literally ALWAYS THERE. I came home from work at around 5pm last night and, surprisingly, found that I had the house to myself for a few hours. As you can imagine, I take full advantage of those rare moments I get the entire house to myself. I re-heated my pre-preped chicken curry and watched the movie, Julie and Julia – a film about food blogger Julie Powell and chef Julia Child. I love watching cooking shows and often try to mimic the food that the chefs are making. So as I was watching the movie, I, of course, saw mouth watering food that I so dearly wanted to make.

After the gym this morning (I’m on Spring Break from school), I went grocery shopping for this week’s meal prep (I usually just grill chicken, add a healthy carb and include a veggie on the side). After grabbing the ingredients I needed, I had to walk through the bakery section to get to the checkout stands. As I walked through, my eyes quickly were gravitated towards the french bread – generating images of the scrumptious bruschetta that Julie was making in Julie and Julia. Now, I know you all must be thinking at how I should be staying away from bread when I’m on this healthy journey with eating/fitness. But what I’ve found most helpful with how I lost weight before is to never deprive myself from foods that I want. A cookie will not cause me to gain 5 pounds, nor will 2 pieces of bruschetta. It’s all about moderation, right?

Now, back to my story. After using my phone to specifically google, “Bruschetta from Julia and Julia,” I grabbed the french bread, put it in my basket and made my way to the produce aisle to pick up some tomatoes, basil and feta cheese. As soon as I got home,  I showered, dressed and ran down the kitchen to finally make the bruschetta I was excited to eat. I followed a recipe I found online: – adding feta crumbles to the top as well. The ending result was wonderful! I used my pregnant sister-in-law as a guinea pig and to ensure that if they tasted good, I’d only eat 2, while she eats the rest lol





I can’t believe how easy they were to make. Like I mentioned, I added feta cheese on top to make them extra delicious – the photos do not show it. Oh how I wish I had grabbed a bottle of wine to pair with it. Next time. They were a huge hit with my sister-in-law and 4 year old nephew! As soon as summer rolls around, I’ll definitely be making these more often! Happy cooking everyone, and as Julia Child said, bon appetit!



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I need to stop relying on the scale.


I’m sure there are many of you out there who rely on the steady declining numbers on a scale, to ensure you’re doing well with eating healthy and working out. When I lost 35 pounds almost 5 years ago, I was obsessed with the scale. Obsessed to the point where I would get on it everyday to ensure it was not going up. If you’ve read my blog post from last week, The never-ending battle with my body image, I noted that I’m starting this entirely new journey to transform my body into a healthy and fit one. To jump-start my routine, I began the TurboFire 5-day Inferno workout.


If you aren’t familiar with Turbofire, it’s a high-intensity kickboxing and interval training program, created by Chalene Johnson. The plan did include a specific meal plan, but I didn’t stick to it 100% – altering the some recipes to my liking (but still healthy). The first 3 days of working out was tough for me – I cried during my workout on day 2 because it hit me that I’m pretty unfit – and I was just sore, tired and hungry. To my surprise, day 4 & 5, while still intense, was a little easier for me. I completed the 5-day plan yesterday and to track my progress, I decided to get on the scale this morning. Last Wednesday, I was at 183 and today I weighed in at 180 – 3 pounds lighter. You would think that I was happy and excited about my results right? Wrong. I was a little disappointed. Why? Because when I compare my results to those (primarily success stories on Youtube/Instagram),  I my results were not as dramatic. I even contemplated whether my consumption of 2 Oreo cookies yesterday was the reason I didn’t loose more weight. Silly, right? I guess the other reason is because I weighed less before, and it’s hard to accept that.

Quickly, I turned to the internet to search why I wasn’t as successful as others and about a minute into my search, I stopped and thought of the positive, yet not statistically noticeable, aspects of my results. I feel better over all. Yes, even before starting this program, I ran regularly on a treadmill, about 4 miles, 5 days a week – but it never did anything to me. Just after 5 days, I feel so much more energized and I feel so… light. I realized now that what I should have done was take measurements, because in reality, I shouldn’t care about the numbers on the scale. I remember doing an assessment test with a personal trainer last summer. She told me she weighed 160 pounds at 5’4. That was roughly my weight at my smallest. I found it so hard to believe because she was so fit! I mean, there was no possible way all of the weight was muscle. But yet, it was right in front of my face. I should have listened to her when she said that inches lost matter more than pounds lost. Again, this is all mentality. This journey, this transformation, is mind over matter. I can’t put into words how great my body feels right now and I’m excited to keep going.

I’ve been logging all my eating in this food journal – along with writing down about a paragraph of my thoughts, reflecting on how I did that day. Starting today I’ll be doing a hybrid of beach body programs, like TurboFire or Insanity, along with strength exercises in the gym. I’ve asked my sister-in-law to dispose of my scale in the bathroom – only giving it to me once a month – while I track my progress every 2 weeks, with measurements. I’m excited to move forward with my progress. Stay tuned for my weekly blog posts and please feel free to share any advice or tips with me :)!



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The never-ending battle with my body image.

Since I was young, I was never “skinny.” As I think back to elementary school gym class, I remember the embarrassment I felt whenever we were tested on pull-ups or mile runs. Out of the 25-30 students, I was one of the very few who could never pull herself up, one of the last to finish the mile runs and got frustrated when I couldn’t get myself past 3 bars as I was playing on the monkey bars. While I felt embarrassed, what was amazing about elementary school was that my peers, the people I called friends, never really noticed my lack of physical abilities nor mentioned that I was a little chubbier than the average 9 year old. Those certainly were the days. Flash forward to middle school – the complete opposite. As I began to grow into my “tween” years, it was more noticeable, at least to me, that I was bigger than the other girls. Though it wasn’t often, I had moments where I was called “fat” or “big.” It was then that I procured body image issues and lacked self-esteem. High school was a little different. I never was made fun of for my weight, but I think the mean things kids said to me in middle school really took a toll on me. High school is a place where you make a few of the best memories in your life. It’s also a place where cliques are the norm. With that said, I never really considered my circle of friends as a clique, because aside from our small group of 5, we also had friends outside of our circle. Nevertheless, image was a dominate aspect to think about in high school. And as I mentioned before, as much as I tried to dress up or no matter how confident I seemed, inside I was feeling so out of place because of my weight.

Finally, during my first 2nd year of college, I began to make slight changes to my diet and I started to become active. What’s intriguing was that I never made those changes with the intention of loosing weight. I simply wanted to just be more active and monitor my eating habits. I remember just getting on a scale and reading 192 pounds. After that, I weighed myself every week, and I saw gradual changes. My smallest weight was at 158 pounds. I went from a size 16 to a size 8/10. Below is a photo of my results – I apologize the “after” photo isn’t a very good one. To the right was during my brother’s wedding in the Summer of 2009, and to the left is of me trying on my bridesmaid dress a few months later. What’s amazing is that I never realized the amount of actual inches I lost, and muscles I gained, until after I put the dress on again (I was cleaning out my closet). I remember just being so… HAPPY.



That was 5 years ago. Within the past 5 years, I’ve gained a majority of my weight back – currently at 183 at 5’5. How in the world did I let this happen? I’m a college student with a part-time job, and many people say that’s probably the cause of my weight gain. But let’s just be real here. I lost weight from being LAZY and CARELESS. I didn’t care what went in my mouth and as a result, gained weight. While I still worked out (not as much as before), I kept eating crap and getting on a “diet” every other week, and I constantly wondered why the scale wouldn’t go down anymore. Now I experienced first hand what people mean when they say that inches are lost in the kitchen. I got too obsessed with the scale – around 2013, I would get on the scale almost everyday and hated that I was not longer loosing weight. Bad, BAD idea.

Today, as I finished my last final exam of this school quarter, I had a few hours to myself just to relax. I was browsing through old photos and stumbled at the one posted above. Seeing photos like this; photos of my before and afters, just opened up this entirely new sense of motivation for me. I need to get back into routine. I need to stop treating my this as a “diet” but a ROUTINE. Yes, I hate using that whole, “lifestyle change” statement lol I know starting a new “routine” is pretty much a lifestyle change, but hey, mentally, I find that word better suited for me. This is all mental, isn’t it ;)? Anyway, enough of my blabbering. What’s my plan for this new “routine?” Seeking help from an old friend who knows a thing or two about fitness (I’m all about cardio and I know I need to stop that lol) and researching food options! Every week, I’ll post my results. But because it’s the middle of the week already, I won’t post my first “week” of results/updates until next Monday, March 30th.

Have a great day and remember to be kind to everyone :)!



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Let’s give this blogging one more try.


Greetings! My name is Crystel – welcome to my blog!

A few facts about myself is that I’m a Seattleite, meaning, I LOVE coffee. You’ll often see me post things about my life, health & fitness, and food & wine! Enjoy :)!

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Pre-Graduation Meltdown.

grad meme
I can’t believe that I created this blog months ago and I’m now just writing an actual blog post. I guess it’s because these past 2 weeks have been a little stressful for me and I love to write out my thoughts. I guess, other than exercise, it’s a little bit of a stress reliever for me. So what’s been going on in my life you ask? Well, I’m just in the midst of finals week in school – after this week, I’ll have Spring Break and then begin my last and FINAL quarter of my undergraduate studies. I can’t believe it.

This 4 year degree has taken me 7 whole years to finish. I remember my senior year of high school and I remember crying for hours when I received my rejection letter from the one school I was dying to get into. After that, I decided to go to a community college and transfer after 2 years. Sounds like a great plan doesn’t it? Well, I’m one of the many college students who took FOREVER deciding what I finally wanted to do in school. After 7 years, I’ve gone from taking Pre-Dental classes to majoring in Accounting, from Accounting to Fashion Marketing and after a nervous breakdown, finally taking a few months off of school all together. In other words, I dropped out of school. Drop out. That’s one term I’ll always hold near and dear to my heart, as laughable as it sounds. But you know what? Dropping out for a few months was exactly what I needed to do in order to get to where I am today. The first month was the most difficult for me. I had no idea what to do with my life. I worked in Nordstrom as a sales associate and I feared that I’ll be in retail my entire life (no offense to those who have found success in retail). You see, I come from a family who hasn’t had anyone ever graduate college. So I assume you can imagine the pressure I felt – and still feel – to graduate with at least a Bachelor’s degree.

Now, it’s that time of the year where high school seniors are getting their first round of acceptance letters. Seeing all those photos of acceptance letters on my Facebook and Instagram news feeds bring me back to the day I got my acceptance letter from the 3 colleges I applied to 3 years ago – after my few months off of school. I was so happy that I cried tears of joy – kind of like what I’ve been doing for the past few days. I’m an emotional wreck. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to worry about 3 presentations last week, 3 papers this week and 2 final exams tomorrow. Or, maybe it’s because I’ve only had a combination of 8 hours of sleep within the past 2 days and my diet has consisted of coffee and bananas (I will post a blog about my plan to eat healthy/exercise soon). I think what’s really getting to me is the realization that graduation is coming near. I mean, where will I go from here? Of course I’ll want to get a good job – that’s what EVERY college grad wants right? But where will I even begin to look? Should I try to apply for smaller organizations? Should I try to tackle corporate America right away? Or, shall I consider going straight to grad school?

Asking myself these questions are just… frightening. And what I’ve realized is that I need to stop focusing on the uncertainties of my future. Cause you know what? That’s exactly what’s holding me back from living my life to the fullest today. I’m a Communication major and Business minor in school, so I’ve learned to critically analyze things – from academic articles, music videos and simple advertisements. Never did I think I would over-analyze my life. Looking back at my journey with school is helping me realize now that in life, I’ll encounter many of these setbacks. I’ll have to overcome the challenges of failures. I’ll have to make important decisions that may change my life forever. What’s intriguing is that now with school ending, it’s sort of like I’m starting the same journey all over again – while facing it with confusion and uncertainty. And that’s okay. Now as I live my life, I’ll just live it in the moment. No more dwelling in the past or worrying about the future. Now I just need to… in the words of one of my favorite Adam Sandler movies, “Just go with it.”



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