Monday, February 11, 2013

Are diet teas safe and do they work? (Part 1)

Before/After results
The impulsive side of me decided to buy a detox tea on a whim. It goes against a lot of the material I've read that is opposed to natural therapies and detoxing but I feel to keep me motivated on my weight loss journey I will need a bit of a 'quick fix'. I have purchased a 28-day "teatox" from skinnymetea which includes a supply of loose tea leaves of which you have one teaspoon of every morning and colon cleanse teabags to be used every second night before bed.

I was swayed into spending $60 for this tea after seeing all the 'before' & 'after' shots on skinnymetea's instagram page and all the good feedback from customers. Some of the results were less noticeable but most users reported at least 2 kg(4.4 pounds) weight loss.

What concerns me about the 'teatox' is the colon cleanse tea bags which have a "laxative effect". Laxatives are meant to be used to combat constipation so using them in this way is technically incorrect use so users need to be very careful. This product is marketed to the general public and for healthy weight loss it seems 'ok' but essentially this teatox promotes the use of laxatives for weight loss which is what some people with eating disorders use to maintain dangerously low weight levels. I doubt your doctor or nutritionist is going to recommend it.

After doing my research on diet teas I had come to the conclusion that young girls(under 18) shouldn't use the tea as they are not mature enough and may use the tea inappropriately to get even more drastic results. I also concluded that people with eating disorders shouldn't take the tea either as they are likely to abuse it and those with anorexia and bulimia may actually be underweight already. I seemed to have forgotten that I have a mild eating disorder myself- binge eating disorder(not officially diagnosed). In saying that I will still be taking the tea but I shall be very cautious about it, hence why I've done a bit of research on the laxative effects of the tea bags. I believe I am at the maturity and emotional stage where I will use the tea appropriately plus I'd be too scared too use it in excess! [the toilet situation would be a mess!]

The main ingredient in the colon cleanse teabags is the Senna leaf and root which is a natural herbal supplement used to treat constipation but also a common ingredient in diet teas. From what I have read the weight loss caused by the herb is temporary so you would need to use exercise and a healthy diet to maintain your new weight. The Senna leaf and root may cause side effects in some people even if used correctly such as vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. If I experience any of these symptoms for more than a few days I will stop using the colon cleanse teabags, regardless of how much weight I think they may be causing me to lose. Prolonged and excess use of senna leaf and root may increase your risk of developing colon cancer(reference) and there have been four reported cases of death from use of diet teas by young women in the US(reference). Hopefully that scares you into using these teatoxes wisely if you're considering them!

Does the laxative-effect actually lead to weight loss?

According to Paul Kurtzweil, a public affairs agent for the FDA(The American Food & Drug Administration agency): 
"laxative-induced diarrhea does not significantly reduce absorption of calories. This is because the laxatives do not work on the small intestine, where calories are absorbed, but rather on the colon, the lower end of the bowel."
Wow. Perhaps I just wasted my money? I'll be posting part 2 of this post tomorrow explaining why I will still be taking this tea and the proper precautions you should take when drinking it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lite n' Easy Week 1

So I've passed my first week of trying Lite n' Easy, the weight-loss oriented meal delivery service, and it has been such an interesting experience. I feel lighter, more alive and most importantly happier. I do feel my body is detoxing or perhaps even having withdrawal symptoms from not eating the large quantities of carb/fat-loaded food I was previously eating as I've been feeling pretty tired and weak. This is not because of a lack of food as I am eating 1500 calories a day which is perfectly healthy for my age, body and lifestyle. I can really relate to the song 'Feel Again' by One Republic as I am more conscious of things now. There's just an openness to my mind and I'm feeling extremely optimistic. Before trying this meal plan I would literally use food like some people do alcohol - to forget everything and feel numb to the rest of the world. I would purposely go into 'zombie-mode' and eat a whole pizza plus bowls of whatever I could put together from the kitchen and then fall asleep to Days of Our Lives on the couch. I actually noticed during my first week I spent a lot less time on the couch and watching tv.

Lunch: beetroot hamburger
I'm beyond impressed that I didn't stray off the eating plan, the only extra I really had was a bit of tomato sauce with one or two of the dinners. The small portion sizes were a little scary at first but as they were so small I HAD to slow down otherwise they'd be gone in a flash. I've found that within a week Lite n' Easy has helped train me to be satisfied with smaller portions.

I had literally gone from binging EVERY SINGLE DAY of the week prior to then eating a healthy portion-controlled meal plan the next. The main reasons I believe I was able to successfully stick with the food provided are:

- Having a big breakfast. I only ordered the lunch and dinner program(to reduce expenses)but I closely studied their breakfast menus and saw that the portions were really big relative to the amount of calories consumed in the day.So I replicated their items myself and increased the sizes of my breakfast; now I can have THREE weetbix, HALF a cup of oats(instead of a quarter) and TWO pieces of toast!

Breakfast: muesli with greek yoghurt, chia seeds & strawberry preserves

- Having food to look forward to.  The lunches provided were always quite small but knowing I had a sweet treat or two for afternoon tea made everything better(apple and cranberry muffin, date and walnut slice, mini muesli cookies, popcorn, raisin toast with butter, citrus and sultana oat biscuit, etc.).

Snack: mini muesli cookies

- Starting a new project. I've had way too much free time on my hands with the THREE MONTH(!) summer break from university and the supermarket where I work hasn't given me any extra hours so I've found a little side job. I'm helping develop an app, Lost on Campus, which is an interactive map for Australian university students of their campus. That sounds really fancy but basically I'm an editor for my campus and have to go round taking photos and writing descriptions and upload them to the database for the new students coming in this year who will be clueless as to where their first lecture is. Being busy with this has helped take my mind off of food. If you're stuck in a food rut I'd recommend trying a new hobby to draw the focus in your life away from food. Start a blog, learn how to do some fancy braiding/hairstyles, try a new type of exercise, volunteer, organise your paperwork/photos/filing systems or make a Youtube channel(something I'm considering myself for the near future).

Dinner: salmon, calamari & squid ring pasta

- PHOTOGRAPHING MY FOOD! If you've been following me on instagram(likely you are as that's probably how you've found my blog) you will know I've been photographing most of my Lite n' Easy meals, minus a couple of the dinners because they're frozen meals and hard to transfer from the cardboard container to a plate without it looking like an ugly mess. As a result of my food snapping I've started to plate up my meals much more nicely as well. This photography/presentation process takes a little time before I get to eat but that's helped me to relax before I eat instead of wolfing it down straight away. It's made me appreciate my food so much more and makes the eating experience so much more special. If you don't want to turn your instagram into a 'foodstagram' then get the free app, The Eatery to record your meals for your own pleasure.

Unfortunately I forgot to order in time for the next delivery of Lite n' Easy so I've had to fend for myself this week. At first I was so scared and thought all my hard work in week one would go down the gurgler when I was left to my own devices but so far so good. After this week I'll do an update on how it went.

Stay classy, stay healthy.

Instagram: @MissShivi

Snack: apple & cranberry muffin with green tea

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Deja Vu

Well, well, well.... it's been far too long, hasn't it? A whole year has flown by, and then some, without a single post. I've lost all my followers/readers and any interest that I may have had previously. I basically have to start from scratch now with gaining a readership for my blog, not that it's all about the fame but the point of a blog is to have someone read it, otherwise I'd be scrawling in a diary(something else that I have also neglected this past year).

It's quite interesting to see the last post I published on 'Miss Shivi' was all about how I was embarking on a new health and fitness regime because I wanted to lose weight. Deja vu it seems as that's where I'm at right now although I've gained MORE weight and am at a much more desperate stage. It's got to the point now where if I keep going the way I am, I will become one of those large overweight middle-aged women that I secretly judge and question how they could let themselves get that way. How hypocritical I have been. I currently work at a small supermarket where I have been frequently disgusted at the rubbish people put through the checkout- Red Bulls, lollies, sugary flavoured milks, biscuits, mac n' cheese, etc. I would feel so superior whenever I ate a clean, supercharged and nutritious meal . I was a health food snob yet I secretly ate junk food occasionally and over the last few months the ratio of perfect food to junk have tipped in favour of the junk. I'm at the point now where I'm eating more junk than healthy food. I eat food that I would never have considered eating before. Now I intentionally scope out the vending machines and the individually-packaged ice cream fridges whereas before I would have walked by without a second thought- it used to be something I just didn't do. I never had cravings for those sorts of foods but now when I'm hungry they're the first things that come to mind. I now have sympathy and empathy for other individuals struggling with their weight. I understand how it can happen.

Now is the time for a drastic change. I've noticed that when a change occurs in my life, altering my typical routine, so too changes my diet - for better or for worse. When I went to America on my high school exchange in 2011 my world was turned completely upside down and I tried many new foods and in much greater quantities than I had in Australia. When I came back to Australia in early January of 2012 my routine changed again as I had to get used to 'normality' and I got a part-time job. This time I ate better and my weight decreased. Then I started my first year of university in March of last year meaning I had to juggle work, study, classes and exercise. Unfortunately I gained back all the weight I had lost in January from comfort eating.

This brings me to now. I can literally feel my thighs and waistline expanding and I'm surprised I haven't ballooned out even more. At the moment I'm binging every day and have become a social recluse. I spend my free time watching too much TV as I make a nice big dent lying down on the couch. Thankfully my mum suggested I try Lite n' Easy, a weight-loss meal delivery service. This means I will be giving my freedom away when it comes to choosing food and I couldn't be more grateful. To know I don't have to fight with myself not to demolish an entire bag/packet/container of food is liberating. I just have to eat the pre-portioned meals and that's it. It'll have been months since I've eaten less than 1500 calories in a day. I know my portion sizes theoretically but I just keep going back for seconds and thirds AND then I'll have a bowl of another type of food and have seconds and thirds of that! I'm hoping this plan will help my body get used to healthy foods once again as well as normal portion sizes.

Tomorrow is Day 1 and I will be weighing myself in the morning to use as my 'Before'. I am planning on doing the program for about 6 weeks and will then wean myself off of it(perhaps alternating weeks) so I can continue the new way of eating all on my own. I will let you know more about the program in forthcoming posts as well as how my first week goes.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Working...of a different sort

As you know, I really wanted to do something in my summer here that was purposeful. But as my internship experience fell through I have something else to really put my energy into and that is my health and fitness.

My dad back in Australia is really into exercising and eating well and before I left for the US he said to me, "Don't come back fat!". I pretty much laughed it off as I highly doubted I would gain weight as I'm pretty fussy with my food anyway and I don't like lots of condiments/grease/sugar/etc. If anything I thought I'd lose weight! How naive I was. A big change when I arrived in the US was that I wasn't used to having so much control over the amount I ate. My host parents encouraged me to eat more and didn't tell me to stop eating certain foods(like my mum would "That's enough now.") and I pretty much took full advantage of that. I became addicted to tortilla chips and at my old host family's house we didn't have a lot of pantry space so the extra-large packet of chips would be left out on the counter and I would just keep snacking at them way beyond the point where I became full. I'd almost lost sight of what 'being full' even meant. And then I was invited to various parties/gatherings which is not something I normally would do in Australia so I'd have free reign of waaaaay too much food- tortilla chips galore! Then as things started to go downhill with my old host family, my foreign exchange sister, Hannah and I would be left at home on the weekends we would pig out and spend our days eating food and watching Desperate Housewives. I think I really suffered from emotional eating at that point. Of course, when I went to New York with the exchange students I wasn't depressed or anything; I was eager to take full advantage of the delicious food NYC had to offer! Such as the amazing Hale and Hearty Soups stores which sold delectable deli sandwiches and salads and of course plenty of amazing healthy soups. [Such a brilliant idea for New York where a soup is just what one needs in the cold weather!] I even went to my first Indian restaurant(since being in the US, I mean) there as well as an Italian restaurant which I thought was amazing but the Italian exchange student didn't think it was anything fancy, go figure!

Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. So basically I'd gained 20 pounds in the US. It sounds so much more when it's in pounds than in kilos. Moving to a new host family really gave me a fresh look at things and an opportunity to start afresh. I love america's teen magazine, Seventeen and recently they came out with a new exclusively health and fitness issue. I knew I needed to change up my exercise routine as I was just doing strength exercises and I just wasn't seeing many results. So as I have lots of free time this summer I've taken up their 4 week 'Best Beach Body' plan. This is my third week on the plan and it is really working for me. I'm feeling fitter and I can no longer do my 'pregnant stomach'. Actually my stomach is looking lovely and flat at the moment, if I may say so. Basically a typical workout according to the plan starts with 5 mins of skipping. Then I do one of the cardio dance moves for one whole song. I alternate with my own dance moves because it is very tiring doing two side-lunges, a spin and then a squat; continuously for a whole song. You're supposed to do 6 songs in total but doing three is plenty enough for me. I would like to at least work up to four but if I'm sweaty and red in the face after three I think I'm good. Next is usually a strength workout for a different area of the body. There are different ones for butt, legs, arms and abs. Then as a cool down I do some of the yoga moves in the magazine, which are hard! I've definitely become more flexible now though.  I do this in the morning, usually after breakfast as the workout is so much harder on an empty stomach and then in the evening I got for a 'speed-walk' round the block a couple times. I've been trying to do a jog around the park nearby too but I keep getting shin splints which makes it difficult.

Of course, food is a big part of my new body overhaul so I'll let you know what I'm up to in that regard in an upcoming post.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Internship [part 3]

I was equally as nervous on day 2 as I was on day 1, so much so that I just wanted to run away and not turn up but my hostbrother dropped me off and there was no way I was turning back. Shaking in my boots I asked for Arturo at the newdesk and soon enough he came through and told me I could watch whilst one of the newsreaders, Katie Marzullo, did the 'Pound Puppy' segment. I watched as Katie held a little Jack Russel puppy and ran through the whole segment first time without a single mistake. As soon as she was done she rushed off to her next engagement. I stayed behind and spoke to the women from the dog shelter who'd brought the pup. I was telling her how I had a Jack Russel myself but that she didn't look like "Milo" who was white with brown and black patches but instead is tan with white socks on her feet. The shelter worker told me that was exactly how Milo's brothers and sisters looked too but they didn't pick them for the segment as it was thought they wouldn't 'sell' as well. That's kind of sad really as they're all puppies and are no doubt adorable but I guess the world revolves around aesthetics and there's no escaping that.

I spent the rest of the time working the teleprompter and I was feeling pretty comfortable with it considering it was only my second time working it but then my worst nightmare happened...the teleprompter screen kept rolling backwards and as much as I tried to turn it the other way it was just doing its own thing. I felt sick to my stomach as I thought it was something I was doing wrong and would be in huge trouble as this was being aired live and could haven potentially been a major embarrassment for the news station. Luckily one of the newsroom operators told me it was just a technical issue and not caused by my rookie teleprompter skills. At this point Arturo was doing the news segment and he just had to ad-lib which I was super impressed with. I'm sure many people assume that being a news reader isn't difficult as you're just spoon fed everything like a robot but these anchors know exactly what they're saying and are capable of speaking without the teleprompter if the need arises. I even discovered that at times the newsreaders will diverge from the script and use their own lines so the segment appears more authentic.

Thinking the technical errors were over I started to relax again but then someone shouted that old scripts were coming up on the teleprompter which the newsanchor was reading off of. To make matters worse the footage on  the screen was from a current story so all of a sudden the technical operators deleted all of the scripts from the teleprompter which completely confused the newsanchor who was mid-way through a sentence. Thankfully they put on some pre-recorded footage for a couple minutes while they transferred the new scripts to the teleprompter. Live television may be fun to watch but for the people behind the scenes it's hard work, stressful and involves a lot of risk as so much can go wrong and every mistake is broadcast to thousands of tv sets in the community.

When it was time for me to go home I went to collect my things from the desk where Tom worked and I found a big poster rolled up with a post-it note attached reading "Welcome to America - This is for you!". It turned out to be a promo poster for some new tv show(some drama about dinosaurs that I'm quite sure never made it past the first season). I couldn't have been more grateful and was extremely grateful that my existence there was even acknowledged.

I was due to come back the following week and I had every intention but didn't have any transport from my host family so I had to get there on foot. It turned out to be a very long walk and I wasn't really sure where I was going, I just had to go off memory from when we'd driven to the news station so I kept walking along this street and there was no news station in sight but all these buildings I didn't recognise at all and there weren't even proper paths to walk on any more. I started to get scared too as it didn't seem like the safest part of town and I kept seeing all these creepy men. It was getting super close to the time I had to be there at so I decided to head back thinking I must have completely got the roads mixed up. I knew then though I wouldn't be returning, they wouldn't want someone who didn't show up and I didn't have Arturo's number to call him and apologise. They needed someone they could rely on and I knew I couldn't walk back in there again knowing I'd let people down as they would have been assuming I was coming in to work the teleprompter for them.

Secretly I was glad to have an excuse not to go back there again. On the bright side I was extremely grateful to have had the two day experience and thinking about it I would have been really nervous if I had to go back each week as there weren't that many people to talk to me as everyone seemed too busy so awkwardness would have been aplenty. I really hate awkwardness. Another reason I was glad it ended so soon was that I didn't really want to have to walk such a long distance on my own in the unsavoury part of the city, two days a week.

 Had I done the internship at a later stage in my life I think things would have gone better- I would have been more confident in my self and not been so afraid of making mistakes and upsetting people. I knew I probably upset Arturo as he went out of his way to get me the internship and then I bailed on him. I did try to make amends by sending an email of apology but it never received a reply....

 You live and you learn.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Internship [part 2]

I was so nervous to begin my little interning experience at the local news station. I was greeted by the news anchor Arturo Santiago who showed me the broadcasting room where he said I would later use the teleprompter(you know, the little box the news anchors read their scripts off). I was quickly shown how to use this little dial that makes the words keep moving forward(or backwards if you go too fast!) and then told I wouldn't be needed until 5pm when the first evening news show started. I had organised with Arturo to come in every Thursday and Friday during summer at 4pm. I wondered what I would do until 5pm and wandered round til I found the main newsroom but I couldn't find Arturo at first and I just stood there super awkwardly whilst everyone else took phone calls, discussed news stories and worked at their computers. Luckily I found Arturo who said I could just sit at the assignment desk with this young guy, Tom. The assignment desk was a raised 'work station' at the back of the room and is where they had all these police radios. Tom was super friendly to me, even though he looked really stressed out. He received the breaking news first and was to assign new stories to different people at the studio. He took phone calls, listened to the radios(which were constantly rabbiting on; half the time I could barely understand what was said although I did catch an alert of a possible suicide attempt which was rather intriguing), alerted everyone else in the room of breaking news updates and wrote articles for KCOY's website. He was telling me you basically have to be A.D.D. to do his job which was very true. You have to be able to divide your focus between various tasks, something I didn't envy. I just sat next to him for most of the time whilst reading the latest articles on the website and he asked me various questions about my exchange in the US. He told me he was from Philadelphia and that the people over there are really friendly but he didn't want to move back there as vacationing there made it that much more special. I wanted to ask him more about why he moved to California but he was in the middle of writing articles and such. I mean I wanted to be more social but I didn't want to disturb him either. Then at 5pm, it was the first evening news show of the night and Arturo was like 'Are you ready, Shivi?' and told me to go back to the broadcasting room. I didn't really think I would be using the teleprompter as I was barely shown how to use it but that's exactly what they wanted me to do. My heart was beating so fast. I mean, it was live television and the teleprompter is what the anchors rely on. At the beginning it was really hard to control it but after a while I got used to each anchor's speed at which they speak. Each time it was a commercial break I had to stretch my hand and roll my eyes as I had to be so focused and still during the half hour which went by so quickly. Then in my break before the next show I went back up to the assignment desk and this blonde-haired girl came up to me and asked if I was interning. Turns out she's a foreign exchange student too but on a college program and she's from Germany. She even knew one of the German exchange student from my group too! She was so friendly and was telling me that she's interning 6 days a week during the summer and this was her second week at KCOY. I told her I was doing the teleprompting and I think she was a tad jealous as she said she'd never got to do it before so she came and watched me for the 6pm show. I found out I was to do 3 shows each day so I finished up at 7:30pm. I felt really empowered by the end of the day as I really had to come out of my shell and interact with all these adults. I was telling my host sister that during my last year of high school back in Australia I didn't have many opportunities for meeting new people or speaking to adults so I was really proud I was able to cope.

I'll let you know how the second and last day of my internship went in my next post; Internship [part 3].

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Internship [part 1]

Let me tell you about an event in my life recently that has passed much sooner than I had hoped.

I wanted to do something this summer that was some form of work, that would get me out of the house. Ideally I wanted to get a job to earn some extra cash but because of my visa I can't do any paid work. I can do 'cash-in-hand' jobs such as babysitting but it's pretty unlikely to find work in that area. Believe me I tried, I stuck up flyers all around where my old host family lived and nothing came of it.

I was reading online about how many ex-seniors do summer internships in their summer break before starting college to get some extra experience to help them with college and getting jobs later on in life. Usually with internships you work for free or sometimes you may get paid a very small wage. So I thought that would be perfect to do in my summer holidays as I needed some sort of work I could do because I didn't want to feel purposeless or bored. Plus I thought it would be great to experience a real work environment as when I got back to Australia I'm going to have to apply for a part-time job.

My previous host sister actually works as a news anchor on the local morning news show as part of the KCOY news station and my old host mom had suggested maybe I could  do an internship there during the summer and although we talked to my host sister about it nothing ever came of it. Then after moving to my current host family and when I revisited the idea of interning I decided that just because I no longer had a contact within the company didn't mean I couldn't try to look into it myself. So I found the KCOY website and sent a message to one of the contact emails listed on the site. Honestly, I doubted I would get a response but I did. I had a reply from the evening news anchor! We arranged a meeting where he told me I would be job shadowing. Basically it's just a simpler version of an internship. Apparently I had missed the deadline to apply for internships so I was fortunate that they were still trying to accommodate me. I think perhaps with an internship there you would have been paid. The news anchor, Arturo told me that I would be helping with various things such as editing, writing news articles, working the cameras and the teleprompter.

I'll let you know how it all went down once I started working there in my next post- Internship [part 2].

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Den.

One of the things I miss about being with my previous host family is my bedroom there. It was pretty close to my 'ideal' bedroom. I had a double bed, a beautiful wood chest of drawers with pastel-coloured knobs and a pale golden-yellow wall to die for. I would have liked more storage though as my room started to pile up with junk every now and then but when it was tidy, it was a gem and I'd decorated the walls with these butterfly decals and momentos I'd collected from my time in the US. It had so much warmth and character to it. Enjoy.

News article on school track team

My first pennant! I love it to death!

My wardrobe, rubbish bin, recycling bin, mickey hat and statue of liberty head accessory

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Acquiring A Sister

Several weeks back I said 'adios' to my dear friend and exchange sister, Hannah Mathis. She's from Austria(something that always confused people during introductions being that I'm from a very similarly named country) and was a fellow exchange student I lived with for 6 months with my old host family. She was honestly my rock. People always thought we were sisters. We are, just not biologically. Hannah was a very intelligent individual and her english was pretty good right from the start but it improved in leaps and bounds during the course of her half-year stay. Overall we were pretty different people. Hannah is sophisticated, trendy, polite and caring. I'm more....rough around the edges. She's a year younger than me but probably more mature. She put up with all my craziness(like listening to my numerous rants and watching me pose in front of all the mirrors in our house) and my lazy/messy-ness.

But we were very similar at the same time too- we loved all things girly like makeup and fashion. Shared a love of cooking and food and we both thoroughly enjoyed our Desperate Housewives & Keeping Up With The Kardashians marathons. Towards the end of the six months she spent in the US we started to finish each other's sentences and even laughed at the same time. 

The sign I made Hannah for the airport
Finally the day came that Hannah was to go back to Austria and I wondered what school would be like without her by my side and what home life would be without someone in the same situation as me, to chat to. I felt really happy for Hannah as I knew she was ready to go home and excited for life back in Austria. I was kind of jealous to be honest as I, myself felt ready to go back too. I didn't cry when she walked out of the tiny little airport to hop on the plane. I'll admit I did get a tad teary the next day when I saw her room void of all her belongings and replaced with children's games and toys(as the room was previously intended for my hostmom's granddaughters). 

Although we're no longer in the same country, we're still tied together. We're sisters now and forever. And I've told Hannah that she's coming to my wedding- there's no way she's getting rid of me!

Hannah's farewell card

Friday, July 8, 2011

4th of July Weekend


Myself, my host sister, host mother and her boyfriend went to a wedding of a family friends'. I realised it was my first actual wedding(I once went to a vow renewal ceremony) that I've attended. My host mom was quite suprised when they get invited to at least two a year. It was a very traditional ceremony held in a catholic church with a very bold colour pallet of hot pink with the secondary colour being bright lime green. Not what I would choose but I was told it represented the bride perfectly- a very loud and out there woman, full of life. I was absolutely ravenous at the reception waiting for the food to arrive and dove right into the bread basket. Even though I'm not a dessert fan I was fond of the chocolate cake(not the icing or fillings though) and so my host sister, Tiffany and I went round and nabbed a couple more plates of cake from those who had vacated to the dance floor. Stuffed to the brim, Tiffany and I later went and danced off some of our calories and as per grad nite I really went crazy by the end of the night, most obvious when they put on the slow songs....I kid you not. 


I didn't eat a single meal at home. We had breakfast at this award-winning American diner/cafe. The breakfast menu items such as 'biscuits and gravy' as well as 'pork ribs and eggs' scared me into ordering a lunch item- a chicken/pesto/sun-dried tomato wrap. We went to the beach later on in the day which was so so foggy!


My older host brother, Edi likes to make weird faces

My hostmom, Diana and her boyfriend, Jesse

It really was a team effort to get all the food ready for 4th of July as there were eight of us all up that went. My host mom's boyfriend loaded up the esky, my host mom sliced up the salad items and everyone loaded stuff into the cards including tables and more than eight chairs(I think we had 11....). We went up to a little beach shopping strip where people hiring bikes that were all decked out in 4th of July gear. USA flags were everywhere. It was very different to Australia day. People are so proud of their country here. Even though we ended up being way too far away from the actual fireworks that night and the water at the beach was so cold is made my feet numb I think everyone could agree it was a brilliant day spent with close family and friends.

Those are some brave men, the water was so cold my feet were numb!