health, Mental Health

Challenge: 30-Day Workout and Diet Reset

Five weeks. It has been five weeks since falling off my healthy wagon. Ever since I had the flu, and been knee deep in projects (which is a good thing), I have not gotten my butt back in the gym, and on top of that, I have been eating HORRIBLY. Bread, fast food and sugar galore! Everyone knows my undying love for Wendy’s, but good lawd, they gave me so many coupons that I went almost every week religiously, sometimes TWICE in a week. Then I gave up chocolate for lent, but I ended up making 50 sugar cookies and an entire tray of lemon bar squares, which got devoured within a couple days. Horrible.

Well… tomorrow is the start of March—holy my lanta, how did we get here so fast?!—and I am determined to climb back onboard the healthy wagon with a 30-DAY RESET CHALLENGE. Yes, I realize I’m thin and don’t need to “lose weight,” but as I’ve said many time again, this is not about losing weight. Workout and healthier eating habits help maintain discipline and create a better, healthier body for myself. Plus, no one wants to feel sluggish from the food they eat and/or beat themselves up from feeling eater’s remorse.

What regimens am I incorporating this time around? I’m not going too far fetched.

1) Blogilates’ 30-day Flat Ab Challenge
My core has always been my focus, because that’s an essential muscle group to keep fit and strong to supplement other muscles. And admittedly, (yes, again, I KNOW I’m small and thin), this is the area I’m most insecure about on my body, so I want to work up the confidence to feel secure with it. Not only does the Blogilates 30-Day Flat Ab Challenge present various exercises that focus on different parts of the abs, it increases the reps each day AND challenges me to drink more water, which I am TERRIBLE at as it is. Stay hydrated, y’all!

blog - 02.28.18 - 30-day-ab-challenge-blogilates

I’ve also accepted a new job, so adding that into my schedule will challenge me further to fit in my mini-ab workouts. Back in LA, I had a daily routine down to a tee with two workouts a day and weekly meal prep scheduled around my 9 – 5 job and streaming. Truthfully I would love to get back to that.

2) Low Carb Intake
This is where I struggle the most with dietary habits. I’ve managed to cut out pasta and rice (even living in an Asian household), but bread is my kryptonite. I love burgers, kolaches, pizza, bread with brie cheese and so much more, but it’s time to limit the intake, because carbs don’t make me feel full therefore I continue to gorge until I’m about to burst from the seams of my jeans. Since I cut out rice, I find myself eating more nutritious food such as vegetables, which I used to never eat enough of in the past.

I’ve been searching around the interwebs to find healthy recipes to make, and I’ve come across some gems. Namely, my sister showed me Fully Raw Kristina, whose recipe for a raw vegan pesto pasta I made this week and was a success! For Christmas my cousins got me a new food processor from Cuisinart, which I made the homemade pesto sauce with, and my uncle gave my family a new spiralizer from Vegetti, which I used to make the zucchini noodles!

Surprisingly eating zucchini “spaghetti” helped me curb my craving for pasta. (I never usually crave it to begin with, but when my family is eating it, I stare at it longingly and want to stuff my face with it.) In addition, I don’t feel guilty grabbing another helping of it, because it doesn’t give me that sluggish feeling I used to get eating pasta noodles. I explored Kristina’s website quite a bit and found recipes for other zoodles recipes for fettuccini alfredo and sweet curry.

3) Cut Down on Sugar
For lent, I’ve already cut out chocolate, because my dad has a mega sweet tooth and buys bags on bags of chocolate delicacies when he goes to the store, which I’ve been eating every day after every meal. IT. NEEDS. TO. STOP. But even though I cut out chocolate, I started hella craving sweet things, so I ended up making those sugar cookies and the lemon bars. Thinking back to past years I gave up chocolate, I remembered that I turned to other sweet foods (namely white powdered donuts) all the time to fill that void.

This could prove to be quite the struggle as well considering I love to bake and crave sweets more than I have in the past, but I’m determined to make it work. A treat here and there is nice, but I tend to cross the line of how much a “treat” is.

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In the midst of my past healthy regimens, I found a recipe for strawberry parfait cups from Blogilates. These are quick and easy to make and one cup can serve a perfect size snack and/or dessert without wanting to eat more and more.

• • •

There ya have it, folks! Me ranting about trying to be healthier. They say that the workout is the easiest thing to incorporate, however, it is not the biggest indicator for results. The DIET is 70% of what helps people see changes in energy, physical body and mindset. That said, I openly challenge anyone to join me in this challenge and share any thoughts, tips, results and more!

Hit me up on Twitter: @sirisvay



Anxieties of Photographing Concerts

**All photos are my own.

Going to concerts is always a ton of fun. Ever since I moved to Austin, TX for college in 2009, concerts have been my way of going out—not the… go out to Sixth Street and get shit-faced drunk and/or get hit on or groped by disgusting creeps. At least once a week I would go out to venues in downtown Austin (and eventually venturing out to Dallas and San Antonio) and see bands and artists I loved—shoutout to my first legit concert at La Zona Rosa to see All Time Low!

All Time Low at La Zona Rosa, Austin, TX

Fast forward to 2011 when one of my best friends invited me to help film an interview and acoustic session for an online publication in New York, Rock Edition. Soon after that, the editor asked me to join their staff photographer and videographer team, and from that day forward, I have been photographing concerts and festivals for publications. Now… I don’t claim to be the most talented ace photographer—I still consider myself an amateur—but I will say that I have seen and dealt with a lot. This blog post is going to discuss the main anxious thoughts and feelings I get when I go to photograph live shows.

Where are photographers shooting from?
My first and foremost anxiety about shows is not knowing where they’re putting photographers. The fact of the matter is that not every venue has the same setup. There are venues that have:

• photographers shoot from photo pits—a walkable space separating the stage from the first row of concertgoers

• photographers shoot from farther back at the sound booth

• photographers shoot from the aisle or from the side aisle

• photographers shoot from the crowd—the worst situation, in my opinion

The ideal situation for me is shooting from a photo pit / photo barrier, which means I can easily slip in and out after three songs and don’t have to rent a long lens.

The 1975 at Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

Unless you have an adjustable scope that lets you shoot from farther away, renting a long lens within days of a show is quite challenging—not to mention it costs a pretty penny.

If you’re ever shooting from the crowd, may the odds be ever in your favor, because you will have to dodge heads and find a way to take photos in a moving crowd / mosh pits.

Corey Harper at El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

What I’ve learned to do when I get approved to shoot photos is ask bands / tour managers where photographers are shooting from. If that doesn’t work, ask the venue itself, and they should be able to tell you.

Dealing with the audience.
This is the main thing that I get anxious about, even after seven or eight years of photographing concerts. I cannot begin to explain my experiences of interacting with rude audience members. Shooting from the crowd may not be the most ideal situation, but that can tactfully be adapted to. What I do not enjoy dealing with are concertgoers that say unnecessary things to photographers.

These days I do not have the time and energy to camp outside a venue six or more hours beforehand to get there early enough for a spot close to the stage—not to mention I shouldn’t need to as media on the job. Being at the front is not a priority anymore when going to concerts. I just want to photograph the bands / artists for the first three songs and then get out and enjoy the show from the back.

There have been various occasions when there was a photo pit, but it wasn’t easily accessible. In a nutshell, there wasn’t a pathway for photographers to get to and from the barrier, and I had to squeeze my way through audience members to get there and out.

The Neighbourhood at White Oak Music Hall, Houston, TX.

I’ve tried to be polite and say, “Excuse me, I need to get through to the photo barrier. Can I squeeze by please?” and people have turned around and ignored me or have straight up said, “No,” or “Too bad.” Even when I explain that I’m a photographer on a job and will be back out after three songs, they still don’t let me through. The times when I managed to make my way through, all the voices around me sneered at me saying things like, “Oh, maybe I should get a fancy camera and pretend like I’m a photographer,” or “Oh, I should just join a magazine then I would get to skip lines and be in front of everyone that waited for six hours.” When I make it into the pit, all eyes are on me and I can feel the daggers coming from their sockets.

Simply pushing my way through is easier said than done, especially since I’m a small girl and I don’t have a mean, stern voice. I don’t like causing unnecessary drama or confronting people in public, so I always make do with what I can manage. In the midst of my anxiety, I think about how there are notable photographers that audiences idolize and treat like royalty, much like the bands and artists, and how they’d have no issue getting where they need to be. Granted, they also probably don’t worry about the same anxieties as me, but if audiences can be respectful to those notables, why is it any different for an amateur like me? We’re not there to intentionally bypass anyone or cut in front of them; we all have jobs we have to fulfill by taking photos at concerts.

Audience members at The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

This long rant of a blog post is not to say that there haven’t been good experiences, because there definitely have been some good ones: the people who graciously let me through without rude comments, the people in the front row who are genuinely nice and ask questions about photography and publications and the countless security guys who got me in and out safely.

• • •

Photography has been a long hobby of mine, and I hope I can continue to do it. It’s been a journey, one with many experiences to learn from and apply to make better ones. Again, I am not the most talented photographer, I am not an expert, I am not the aggressive type in these situations—I am simply sharing my experiences. Hopefully my words can help other photographers with their work and help concertgoers potentially better understand photographers’ point of views. Concerts should continue to be a fun and safe environment for everyone in attendance, so let’s work together to maintain good vibes!


Mixed Bag of Thoughts


This past week has been the epitome of undying support, and it ended with a cherry on top this weekend with my family. Since the publishing of Saudade, the support has been amazing, but it wasn’t until my Twitch TV live stream celebration, the celebration at Cork Cafe and the celebration at my aunt house that it all hit me in the feels. I’ve been thankful for everything thus far, but somehow I became speechless—like words couldn’t form in my brain and come out my mouth.

It truly was humbling to see the amount of words of support and interest in my Twitch TV live stream to celebrate Saudade. I already have an incredible group on Twitch, but in addition to them, new users came in and took the time to congratulate me, and some even asked for links to the book, which I’m grateful for because these are people who have no obligation to me or to check out anything I do. And for everyone who was in my stream, I read a few of my poems from Saudade and the kind words said in the chat honestly warmed my heart.

And with this past weekend, seeing my family taking the time to plan and host two separate celebrations (one on my mom’s side, along with friends, and one on my dad’s side) just for an itty bitty little book that I published. It was even more humbling to have old friends who I see maybe three or four times a year come to celebrate with me, and it was awesome to catch up and find out what everyone else is up to. And even though my dad’s side celebration was on a Sunday, family took time to gather (and even called off work) to celebrate with me. My family has always been my #1 support system and always believed in me that I’d aspire to something great, and for the longest time—okay for 26 years of my life—I never thought I successfully lived up to those words or deserved that praise. But now those negative feelings are slowly, but surely, starting to change.

Support is one of the many things that I struggle with with my anxiety. Everyone who has taken the time to purchase, read and reach out to me about my book has a special place in my heart, because I still feel like I’m undeserving of such goodness. Somewhere in the back of my mind, this little voice tells me that this is not a big deal, that my work is not good enough and that anyone could do the same thing so what makes me special? In turn, it’s almost as if I take support for granted even though that is not the case at all, but it is something that this Saudade experience has opened my eyes to and that I want to work on. Accepting support. Accepting kind words. Acknowledging the accomplishment that I’ve created.


Mixed Bag of Thoughts

The Past Week

Well… it has officially been a week since Saudade has been live and available for purchase, and let me tell you that the support has been phenomenal, way beyond my expectations. Especially in the bed-ridden state that I’m in. And here is why:


For this entire week I have been in bed fighting the flu (or flu-like illness). Three days after the launch of my book, I woke up feeling ill—but ill in the sense of my usual monthly sinus, drainage, allergies, cold, which I was pretty upset about since I just got over being sick for two weeks over the holidays. Not only that but I felt fatigued and had major body aches, which I thought were from playing too much intense Guitar Hero to be honest. Anyway, I finally have health insurance so I made a doctor’s appointment for the next day to figure out why I’ve been sick so often in the past six months. (When I was living in LA, I was sick maybe three or four times a YEAR.)

So in light of this I also decided to take the day off and actually focus on getting better, so I laid in bed and fell asleep for about five hours. Boy, was that a terrible idea—this is why I don’t take naps and WE SHOULD NEVER HAVE THEM. When I woke up, it was blazing hot (even though I removed one of my heavy blankets), my body was burning and I felt like my brain was melting. This sensation was all too familiar to my “ER Incident of 2016” (THAT’S a great House MD-type story), so I rushed to take my temperature and HOLY GUACAMOLE I was running a 102.5 fever! Trying not to freak out, I got out of bed and mozied around the house for about ten minutes to cool my body down—maybe it was really hot from my nap, which is a false pretense to believe for me, honestly. I checked it again after and it crept up to 102.9. Seriously?

So I told my mom about my high temperature and fast forward many phone calls and conversations with my health insurance and various clinics in the area, we started heading to an urgent care. Just before we left, I took a couple Tylenol and checked my temperature again: 103. GOOD LORD.

Here’s where the support for Saudade comes in to brighten the day on this despair-filled adventure. I was in the waiting room when I saw someone tweeted pictures of Saudade and promo’d me and the Amazon link, and I was extremely surprised and touched. The same thing happened the next day when someone messaged me that their shipment was arriving that day. And then the next day when another person hit me up on Instagram that they were reading it and promo’d it on their story!

I am so incredibly moved by the overwhelming support that’s happened over this week. In just a day, I got more signed book orders than I had anticipated that I had to order a second shipment of books! So to anyone reading this who has supported me—THANK YOU SO MUCH. Seeing people express their interest in Saudade has been a beacon of light as I sat in my bed doing NOTHING. Oh, the torture of doing nothing and not working.


Mental Health


My first book being published is right around the corner. My. First. Book. Published. Something that I created with my own two hands is going to be officially bound together and put out there for the world to see. Never in my life did I ever imagine publishing anything this way, let alone my poetry writing.

But you wanna know what’s sad?

As I held the first proof copy of my book, the first thought was, “Wow! I’m actually holding this in my hand right now!” And the instant next thought was,

“Man. This isn’t enough.”

Why that second thought popped into my head is beyond me. I know, I want, I need to feel happy, excited, jovial, to the moon, about this, but an itty bitty voice in my head pokes me and says,

“You’re still not good enough, Siri.”

Last week I was cleaning out my laptop when I came across a file named “ALL RESUME EXPERIENCE.” To my surprise, it hasn’t been updated since 2013 (yikes, that’s FIVE years ago). So, today, after working on transcription projects, I had a bit of free time for myself, so I decided to update it. It took a few hours, but I’m happy that it’s organized and reformatted nicely. As I was working and filling in gaps, I read some of my past experiences on there—past jobs, volunteer work, extra curricular activities, etc.—and had actually forgotten some of them. I even thought, “Wow! I forgot I did that. That’s pretty cool.”

But can you guess what the next thought was?

“Man, I wish I did more. This doesn’t feel like I’ve done enough.”

This has been an inner battle for a majority of my life. I can see that I have accomplished some great things in my life, but for some reason, they don’t resonate as true accomplishments to me. Something in my mind is not registering that I should be proud of myself, that I have done something worthwhile. I honestly thought this published book would help me love myself, but it’s become another ordinary thing to me, which is awful because I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into it.

I took the night off from my Twitch streaming to take it easy and relax, but I ended up deep in my feels. After dinner I came up to my room, turned on the Final Fantasy VII soundtrack and started writing poetry. I’ll share a snippet that’s relevant to this post, aptly titled “I’m Not Doing Enough.”


Getting over this mind game with myself is a hella work in progress. Every day I try to pat myself on the back for all the little wins and fortunate things that happen. No matter how small, it’s good to recognize and acknowledge those wins.

By the way, for anyone who reads this, that’s a sprouting idea for a future book I have in mind. OOH, EXCLUSIVE!!!!!