Change: Brought to You by Failure

When you are caught up with mistakes in life, you never realize how much it really takes to free you from them. I failed because I haven’t been able to let go of the past. I failed because I wanted to categorize my success in ways that other people do. Lots of people fail, but many don’t completely come back to a place that enables them to succeed.

I hadn’t taken the time to step back and actually consider what makes me happy. What I want to spend the rest of my life doing. I haven’t considered on which terms I want to live my life. So I procrastinated, found projects to occupy my time, and wasted countless hours on meaningless things that will not change my life or outlook on it.

I am taking responsibility for my life right now. Hate your job? Find something you love doing , because no one but you is making you work there. Don’t know what you want to do with your life? Figure it out, because no one else is going to shape your future. Caught up in the past? Now is the perfect time to realize that it’s holding you back from leading the life you truly want, and move on. 

Last night while I was driving, I had a passing thought. I am 22 years old and just for that moment, I wanted my struggles to end. I was sick of fighting and losing, and I could think of few things that would motivate me enough to continue living. And there in two very telling words, lies my problem and solution: “continue living”. I don’t want to just continue living. I want to live a life that I look forward to living everyday. Underneath this static facade, I want to be dynamic. I want to be energetic, learn new things, and  desire new knowledge and enjoy my life. I want to meet people that change the way I think. I want the world to see the best version of me possible. Simply continuing to live won’t allow me to do that. I only hope I still have time. My failures thus far have taken me to a point where I can’t ignore myself any longer. As JK Rowling said in an epic commencement speech:

“Failure means a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”

My failure led me to this moment, and to this blog post.From now on, my energy will be spent on things that move me. Things that make me happy and fulfilled. Things that will bring me knowledge and joy. I am using this public blog post as a way to acknowledge that I do not live a life I am content with, and as an agent of change. I am not afraid of failing, because it is better than the static position I find myself in now. I define my success and determine my happiness, and I will define my terms to get there. Why waste the only life you have doing anything else?

“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”

Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Want to be a better person? This is like the how-to guide.

How to Win Friends and Influence People - novel by Dale Carnegie - cover image

Dale Carnegie just blew me away. I finished the book this morning and I am about to pass it on to my dad. It’s like common sense, but better. I want to personally thank him for making such a helpful book! I can imagine the principles he dictates working wonders in every area of my life.

Hellooo, California!

image

We just passed Palo Alto and I got shivers. God I’m such a dork.

Recent Musical Obsessions: Soul, Bruno Mars, & Dynamite

“Just the Way You Are”, Bruno Mars
Mars has the sweetest, smoothest voice I’ve heard in a long time, and this is an adorable love song. I miss when male singers could actually hit the high notes like this. It makes them even more endearing and vulnerable. Enjoy!

“You Don’t Know Me”, Michael Grimm
I didn’t know the meaning of soul until I listened to Michael Grimm. He has complete control of his rough, yet emotionally charged voice to give me shivers, so you KNOW it’s good. Weirdly (and luckily!) enough, I found him through a random America’s Got Talent video clip, a show that I don’t even watch:

“Dynamite”, Taio Cruz
Hands down, the BEST getting ready/dancing song I’ve ever heard. Disclaimer: This beat will stay in your head … for days! And it’s starting to be played on the radio more often, which renders me ecstatic:

“Waving Flag”, K’naan featuring Nancy Ajram
This wasn’t the actual World Cup song – it was the Coca-Cola sponsored one. Clearly, K’naan + a united theme + flags from everywhere does not make this song. The message he’s trying to get across is positive, yes, but the real gem in this song is Nancy Ajram. The second she started singing, I fell in love with her sweetly uplifting voice:

Get Your Sugar Facts Straight!

There’s been a lot of hype in the news lately about sugar and its effects on our bodies. How much sugar should we consume everyday? What kind of sugar is right for you? In my latest College Candy post, I give it to you straight:

pouring spoon of sugar

Click to read my latest College Candy post: everything you need to know about SUGAR.

Bring on the Bathing Suits!

[Read the edited version on the CollegeCandy site.]

Sodium is like that annoying, socially awkward neighbor you avoid inviting to your parties. He must know he’s not welcome, but he can’t take a hint. Somehow he always manages to arrive sporting a neon bandana, jorts, and a case of Natty Light (somewhat tolerable). But I digress. Clearly your sodium is not clad in ridiculous cut-off jeans – the point is that the amount of salt we consume daily can add up when  you least expect it. Summer happens to bring out the worst in my issues with salt (read: bloating). No matter how hard we hit the gym to get fit for bathing suit season, that extra water retention always manages to come back and haunt us right before we hit the beach. I say to hell with it.

I’ve written about the other negative effects that sodium has on the body, too. Think high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, etc… my personal fave has to be fluid retention though. You can become bloated because your body  retains water to dilute all of the sodium you’ve consumed. The Mayo Clinic recommends less than  2,300 mg of sodium a day for healthy adults. Thousands of milligrams, you say? Puh-lease. Why am I even reading this article?
HOLD UP, girl. Put that daily recommendation of 2,300 mg of sodium into perspective! Let’s say you decide your salad needs a little more flava: a measly teaspoon of table salt. Be prepared – you’re adding 2,325 mg of sodium, which means you are already over your daily recommended intake.
NOW think about this: on average, only 5% of our daily sodium intake is from adding it into our foods. The real culprits are processed and prepared foods – a whopping 77% of our daily sodium intake, to be exact! You don’t need to cut out salt completely – it would be near impossible because it’s in practically everything you eat. We need a small amount for our bodies to function anyway.  For example, when the annoying neighbor inevitably makes his way over to your party, you can’t just kick him out and be done with it. He lives next door, for chrissake! So don’t stress, just become more aware of what you’re putting into your body.

In my personal war against all bloat-inducing-foods (BIFs?), I’ve come across a few unlikely salt culprits that you should consider before slipping on your bikinis this summer – and probs during the rest of the year too. Remember we only need 2,300 mg of sodium (at most) a day, so look out for these surprisingly salty foods:
•    Dairy foods. Unprocessed dairy products have pretty low amounts of sodium, but once they are processed the sodium is way higher than expected!
⁃    1 cup low-fat milk = 107 mg
⁃    1 oz. slice American cheese = 406 mg
⁃    1 cup cottage cheese = 851 mg
•    Condiments. Who knew mustard and ketchup contained this much sodium? And I don’t feel so guilt-free now ordering the low-sodium soy sauce with my sushi…
⁃    1 tbsp. mustard or ketchup = 190 mg
⁃    2 tbsp. fat free italian dressing = 430mg
⁃    1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce = 600mg
⁃    1 tbsp. soy sauce = 1,000 mg

•    Soup & Sauces. I knew about the sodium content in soup before, but this is borderline obscene. Watch out for those processed tomato products!
⁃    1 cup Cream of Chicken soup = 1,047 mg
⁃    1 cup Chicken Vegetable soup = 1,068 mg
⁃    1 cup tomato sauce = 1,284 mg

•    Frozen/canned/packaged foods. I was expecting these to be high, but not for canned beans to have nearly the same amount of sodium as a chicken pot pie! Cray cray.
⁃    2 slices deli turkey meat = 450 mg
⁃    1 cup canned beans = 856 mg
⁃    1 frozen chicken pot pie = 857 mg
⁃    1 cup mac & cheese = 1,061 mg

•    Snacks & Grains. Bread & cereal are never places I expected to find sodium in! And holy dessert – pudding, too!?
⁃    2 slices whole wheat bread = 268mg
⁃    1 cup Honey Nut Cheerios = 269 mg
⁃    1/2 cup pudding = 470 mg
⁃    10 pretzels = 1,029 mg

•    Fast food. I knew it would have more sodium because it’s obviously processed, but this really makes me rethink my love for Taco Bell.
⁃    Cheeseburger = 1,108 mg
⁃    Egg & sausage biscuit = 1,141 mg
⁃    Large taco = 1,233 mg

Clearly we can’t just NOT eat any of these foods anymore. So here are really simple ways we can get around the high sodium problem until the food industry shapes up:
•    Limit the toppings. Get the dressing on the side, use unsalted butter if you have to use butter, and just leave extra sauce on your plate.
•    Get creative. Instead of lamenting your lack of sodium, you could be discovering an entirely new world of herbs and spices! Think garlic, vinegar, basil, cilantro, pepper, etc., which won’t put your tummy (literally) over the edge.
•    Pick fresh over processed foods…  Unsalted peanuts have 8 mg of sodium. Three oz. of steak has 55 mg of sodium. A plain baked potato has 5 mg of sodium. Yes, you can eat well sans salt. And if you need something pre-made, just look for the low sodium options.
•    Skip the fast food. There will be less salt if you just make yourself  – it’s just not worth it!

Whether you want to make these changes in the long run or not, you might need a quick fix. Maybe you’re about to catch some rays, go to a pool party later, or you’ve just annihilated a half a box of Cheez-Its while reading this article. Never fear. You can prevent and/or alleviate bloating by:
⁃    Eat fiber & probiotics. Eating fiber-rich foods like spinach and whole grains to help regulate your system. Also, anything with probiotics (like yogurt) help too!
⁃    Drink water! Not enough will definitely cause water retention, and drinking a little more than usual can help flush sodium out of your system.
⁃    Consume anti-bloat foods. Incorporating a mild diuretic like parsley or pineapple into your meals can ease bloating considerably. Bananas and chamomile tea are purported to ease symptoms as well.
Have you checked your labels lately? Which foods surprised you with their high levels of sodium?

Give Birth or Give Your Life?

Maternal mortality rates. How horrifyingly ironic.

In Sierra Leone, more than 1,033 women die for every 100,000 live births. In places like India, many little girls are forced to marry older men and then abused or forced to have children (more specifically, pressured to have boys) far before it is healthy for them to have another baby, or to have one at all. And in multiple areas of the world, it is considered taboo to have a baby in the hospital with proper medical care, rather than at home without any help at all.

It is ironic that, “while universally recognized as a milestone of womanhood, pregnancy and childbirth remain among the leading causes of death of women worldwide; every day, one woman per minute dies while giving birth or soon after. An additional 10 million to 15 million women suffer complications or injuries resulting from the act of giving life.”

The poor situations of millions of women and children everywhere prompted the Gates Foundation to give 1.5 billion dollars towards improving women and children’s health worldwide. The UN is in on it, as well. It’s all I can do not to go up to Ban Ki-Moon and thank him personally for making women’s health such a priority.

The solution is so simple that it’s pathetic. Education. All they need is to wait a few more years before giving birth. Or to know the benefits of medical care while giving birth. Or how and when to use birth control. Or to avoid being married off to a man who will not abuse them or pressure them to have more children so that they can have a son.

I realize that it is not that simple. But just working within these oppressive cultures can yield some positive results. We don’t have to change EVERYTHING, but we should be able to dramatically impact the suffering and death women around the world face while giving birth to new lives.

Read more about this issue here: