Sites to see in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

In May, I spent a month in Brazil and every time I attempt to describe my two weeks in Rio de Janeiro, I keep coming back to the words: a beautiful fairy tale.

I traveled to Rio for work but was adamant about making the most of my short, free time. I enjoyed myself so much that it felt very much like a dream. It was my version of a fairy tale – hiking a short, steep trail that led to a spectacular view overlooking the South Atlantic Ocean and beach-side lounging to the sound of giant waves clashing against the sandy shores – to name a few moments. I also witnessed some insanely breathtaking views; I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was such a relaxing experience living in the moment with little care about any troubles in the world. While I miss Rio dearly, I left with beautiful memories for which I’m beyond grateful. And because these moments were very special to me, I wanted to share them with you.

Pedra do Telégrafo

Parking can be scarce and it’s a steep trek to the start of the trail, but this short and moderately uphill hike is very much worth the views. There’s a popular photo opp with magical angle tricks making it appear as if you’re on the edge of a cliff. There may be a line of travelers waiting their turn for a photo. You’ve been warned.


Pão de Açúcar (also known as Sugarloaf Mountain)

For the best sunset views, take the cable car up to Urca Mountain and another to the top of Sugarloaf. This was by far my favorite view of Rio.


Cristo Redentor (also known as Christ the Redeemer)

An iconic tourist attraction, you can hike or train to the top for a different bird’s-eye view of the city.


Parque Lage

An architectural beauty, the Parque Lage is a home to an art school, Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage. It’s exterior and interior are both photo-worthy locations, but don’t forget to trek along the trails behind the building for a quick walk in nature and to spot some monkeys.


Copacabana Fort

For a very minimal fee, you can enter the military base for a walk with a view of Copacabana and Ipanema coast. While you’re there, drop by one of the small restaurants for a quick bite. If it’s not too cold, opt for outdoor seating to embrace the views. Keep walking and you’ll eventually run into a military bunker.


Arcos da Lapa (also known as Lapa Arches)

While the arches make a perfect photo backdrop, be cautious in this area. Lapa neighborhood isn’t quite known for its safety.


So if you somehow make your way to beautiful Brazil, be sure to check out these spots in Rio de Janeiro.

Sites to See in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:

  • Pedra do Telégrafo
  • Pão de Açúcar
  • Christ the Redeemer
  • Parque Lage
  • Copacabana Fort
  • Arcos da Lapa
  • Escadaria Selarón
  • Prainha Beach
  • Museu do Amanhã

Photos by Awktopian, Colin Young-Wolff, Pedro Pavanato, and Bruno Alvares

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post although my trip was paid for entirely by my company since it was primarily a work trip.

Post-Travel Recovery with CLEAN Program

It is of no surprise that I travel often – about a minimum of 25% of the year – for work. This year, my travel activity has significantly increased to 40% when adding in my runcations and weekend getaways. One of my worst (or best) habits while traveling is making food a big part of the experience. Early July, I was in New York for the weekend where a lot of serious food damage took place – it was pastries, pastas, dairy, and sugar galore. This is the norm for me whenever I travel.

However, without fail, the feeling is never mutual every single trip. The aftermath is not guilt but more so disgust, which usually succeeds in making feel absolutely terrible. After consuming so many sugars and carbs in New York, I craved it EVEN MORE when I came home. My stomach is the first to tell me when I have been a bad girl – haunted by bloating and aches of all kinds.

Since I needed some sort of saving grace, I decided to give the CLEAN Program a try for 7 days as a way of transitioning back to my normal diet. For those curious, my normal diet consists of high fat for energy, medium protein, and minimal carbs with the exception of fiber and the occasional donut cravings (which is a must).

The CLEAN Program is pretty much as it sounds: CLEAN. It is a short-term method that aims to eliminate your body of toxin triggers and unnecessary processed sugars. The goal is to feed your body with foods that do not stress your digestive system – 2 shakes plus a regular meal a day. At the end of the 21-day plan, it is recommended you introduce certain foods back into your diet to see if it has any affect on your body (e.g. dairy and gluten). For more information on the CLEAN Program, click here.

I knew I could not last 21 days so 7 days was less life-threatening and doable for me, lol.

Things I aimed to achieve with the CLEAN Program

  • Minimize snacking
  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Eliminate processed sugars
  • Feel better overall

First impressions

Information overload. Perfect for the curious. Digestible info for the lazy.
I felt a bit overwhelmed. While drinking 2 shakes and eating 1 solid meal seemed fairly simple, identifying what was and wasn’t allowed on the diet was a lot of work for me. Because food is provided for me 5 days a week for free at work, I didn’t have control over all the ingredients and spent more time than I liked googling to verify my meals were approved. My friend Melissa was also on the diet and I most likely annoyed her with my texts on the daily asking if X food was good to eat or not.

Reasonably restricting.
I’ve been on more restricting diets in the past so this one was easy peasy. I will admit though I’m not a shake person. I’d rather eat a meal than drink my calories. This is what made the diet difficult for me and I knew that 21-days would be brutal. The best part though was the options of food available for the single allowed meal.

Pre-diet conditions

  • Poor sleep – waking up 4-5 times throughout the night and nightmares.
  • Infrequent bowel.
  • Cravings.
  • Bloating and zero tummy aches.

Post 7-day cleanse

  • Improved sleep conditions – waking up once throughout the night and easily falling asleep.
  • Daily bowel movements – YAY!
  • Minimal cravings although I don’t think cravings truly disappear.
  • Less bloating and tummy aches.

While I saw no weight loss, how I felt after the 7-day cleanse is worth noting. I felt happier overall which was my ultimate goal. Food is always going to be a big part of my travel experience and sometimes, I’m going to feel crappy after a trip because of it. But it’s all about balance, right? That’s why CLEAN eating for a few days after traveling is crucial. That is of course, assuming you indulge in all the foods like I do.

Disclaimer: While I was gifted the 21-day CLEAN Program in exchange for this post, all thoughts and opinions are mine.

How to finish running your hardest race

My worst race to date was Nike Toronto 15K back in June 2015. Sometimes I wonder how I ever completed it if it wasn’t for my best friend who literally held my hand and dragged me to the finish line.

Not long ago, I finished Rock’n’Roll San Diego which I want to say was my second hardest race and I finished it all on my own…kinda sorta.

Before I hop into the how, let me give you some context. Here were my pre-race conditions.

  • I was on US soil for less than a week after working in Brazil for a month. I barely recovered from jet lag.
  • I ate little carbs (less than 25g) the week of the race and carb loaded only the day before.
  • My longest run was 3 miles on a treadmill.
  • I worked out 3x weekly prior to race but no cardio.
  • I was not confident mentally going into the race but attempted to run anyway because I didn’t want to be a quitter.

How to finish your hardest race running alone:

  1. Always put one foot in front of the other. It’s a no brainer but the reminder is important. You’ll feel like you want to stop but at least keep moving forward.
  2. Go at your own pace. No one matters at this point but you. Walk if you need to. Reduce your pace. Do whatever is necessary to continue doing #1.
  3. Set small goals. Run/jog a few blocks before allowing yourself to walk. You can also set timers or use music. Find a person running at a similar pace and try to keep with them for as long as possible.
  4. Text a friend. Sometimes you just need someone to talk to. It’s okay to pull out your phone and seek support from a friend. Simples words of encouragement can get you through the next few miles.
  5. Hydrate and fuel. Don’t allow yourself to skip these during the course. It’s crucial.

What I wish I did:

  • Consistent training – doesn’t need to be intense just consistent and appropriate.
  • Normal diet – don’t switch this up before a race. It can affect your body.
  • Be more confident in your body – it’s capable of more than you think.

Have you ran a difficult race? How did you get through it? Was there a time you had to quit? How did it feel?

Photos by Brian Wong.

A simple idea to make running fun

Regardless of why we run or how long we’ve been doing it, there are days when we can’t get ourselves out the door for a run. The urge to be unproductive and lazy is strong to the core and we find every possible excuse to refrain from running. More often than not, it is easier to say ‘no’ than it is to say ‘yes’. Well, at least that’s the case for me on those days. There are tips and tricks out there to overcome this, but my favorite way to say ‘yes’ to running is by making it fun.

Create a running game

When I create a running game for myself, I think of what I love – in this case, pretty photos – and incorporate them into my run. When I do this, it gets me more excited to run and play the game.  The objective is to create an image I love to look at. To achieve this, I run routes in and around my neighborhood looking for photo-worthy spots or abstract gems I could use to create an interesting photo. At the same time, I am exploring and familiarizing myself in places from a different perspective.

Set your own rules

Whatever the objective – distance, duration, speedyou set the rules. For my exploration runs, I don’t stop running unless I’ve found a photo worth taking. In addition, I switch up the amount of photos I need to collect during my runs.

Reward yourself

Give yourself more reasons to get out there. It could be as simple as that ice cream you were craving last week or a much-needed massage. I personally like to squeeze in a little coffee or donut stop toward the end of my run. Why not?

Share your results

There’s a giant community of runners out there who want to support you. I know I’d love to hear about your tough days, how you overcame it, and what cool fun-run games you’ve played. Be proud of the work you’ve put in and share the love. Someone out there may need your motivation. Pay it forward.

And there you have it. A quick recap on how to make running fun:

  • Turn your run into a game.
  • Set your own rules.
  • Reward yourself.
  • Share your results.

Photos by Kyle Miyamoto.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post although imagery was in collaboration with PUMA Running featuring their Ignite 3 running shoe.

3 Reasons to start running

In 2016, my new year resolution was basic – to do more of the things I love and less of the things I don’t. Sadly, it was that same year I fell out of love with running.

As with anything I’m passionate about, I become fully invested. When it comes to running, I was heavily involved with my local running community, ran as many races as my schedule would allow, and even travelled to new countries for the sake of running. But somewhere along the way, the fire stopped burning. The notion that runners must be fast ate at my love for the sport. Over time, I felt pressured being surrounded by runners who ran for speed, which made me lose sight of the reason I started running in the first place.

Running is my way of learning more about myself, discovering new cultures and locations, and meeting new people. To be honest, I’m not a fast runner and I never intend to be one. I run to explore.

For 2017, my new theme is to rediscover my love for running– to dig deep and have a better understanding of why I started back in 2014 and embrace it. A close friend of mine introduced the sport to me, but the reasons below are what kept me running. If you’re looking for reasons to finally start running, here are a few of mine.

3 Reasons to start running

  • Running makes you feel good physically and mentally.
  • The process teaches you important life lessons such as accountability, perseverance, challenge, and discovery.
  • You’ll meet incredibly driven people with various run levels, who may very well be worth keeping in your life.

Photos by Kyle Miyamoto.

Disclaimer: I’ve partnered with PUMA Running to share my run story with you this month. This post is not sponsored although the imagery and product were in collaboration with PUMA Running. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine.

I’m never going to be perfect

and I’m completely okay with that.

I now live in a world where complacency is viewed negatively. Success is about moving forward– having the drive and hunger to do more, be more, and achieve more. It’s about more money, more responsibilities, more credibility, more of this, more of that, more, more, and more. When does it end? “More” becomes the new norm then I’m back at square one feeling unfulfilled and unhappy.

A year ago today, I was 10 lbs lighter. Whenever I look back at my old photos, I think to myself, “Wow, I was so skinny then.” I clearly remember in that moment when I first took the photo, I truly believed I was fat. The feeling was different then. I wanted to be skinnier; I wanted a better looking ass; I wanted a flatter stomach. I don’t think it’s ever going to end with only setting goals and achieving them.

More isn’t necessarily a bad thing but we need to be happy with who we are in the moment. I’m never going to be perfect because I’m human. There’s always room for improvements and I’m always going to want more. Understanding and believing that we are already more and we are enough is the key. We come to this mindset through acceptance and gratitude.

Simple steps to become more grateful:

  • Always find a reason to be thankful even in the negative moments; appreciate all opportunities big and small
  • Say thank you more often and really mean it
  • Give yourself a daily motivational speech
  • Follow your favorite influencers on social media for the extra inspiration
  • Action leads to motivation. Do something, anything

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. How do you practice gratitude?

Photos by Bruno Alvares.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post although the imagery was funded by Finish Line Women in collaboration with Reebok for their recent Perfect Never campaign. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine.

Fitness Gifts for Her 2016

If you’re searching for the perfect gift for fitness fanatics, look no further. I got you covered. I’ve put together a simple holiday gift guide including some of my favorites this year.

Even better, I want to share these gifts with you so be sure to check out @rarax3 on Instagram from December 20 to 24 for a chance to claim the gifts in this guide.

Fitness gifts for her

ALALA Custom Captain Tights
ALALA’s Captain Tights are made for the gym and streets. This is the perfect pair for someone who values comfort, style, and personalization.

Flywheel Sports
Do your friends’ booty a favor and grab a few rides at Flywheel Sports. This type of spinning is a little less soulful and a little more competitive. Flywheel has a holiday gift card promotion through December 31. Earn complimentary rides for yourself when you gift classes to others. More details here.

Give the gift of safety or motivation. With RoadID, your friends can wear their emergency contact and health information or a simple motivational phrase on their wrist.

Brilliant Reflective
Help a friend be seen. Brilliant Reflective can stick or iron on to anything for night time visibility. It’s as simple as that.

LUSH Bath Bombs
A seriously fizzy fun explosion of colors, scents, and textures. Anyone can use some relaxation after a race or workout so you can’t go wrong with bath bombs. Your fit friends will love you.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post although I reached out to some of the mentioned brands for giveaway contributions. I’ve also spent some of my own money for the gifts.

Losing weight while traveling: 10 lbs in 1 month

Losing weight while traveling is no breeze. I am so damn proud of myself. I lost 10 lbs while traveling for a month although it took me 3 attempts in 3 years.

Starting in 2014, I’ve traveled for 4-5 weeks every October for work. Every year since, I’ve gained about 10 lbs on the road and another 5 or so lbs during the holiday season.

In 2014, I had zero control. I ate all the guavas in Singapore and couldn’t resist my daily boba milk tea in South Korea. I was running and training during this time but ate way more calories than I burned.

In 2015, off I went to Europe. Although still running, I felt the need to eat all the pastries in Paris and drink all the beers in Berlin. That same mindset tagged along with me to Amsterdam and London.

In 2016 now 20 lbs heavier, I needed change. The goal was never to lose weight but rather to not gain another 10 lbs. In the end, I actually lost weight.

How to lose weight while traveling

  • Make time for fitness
  • Indulge in moderation
  • Limit drinking calories
  • Say no
  • Be consistent

Making time for fitness
Every other day and sometimes every day, I would wake up at 6am to take a Flywheel class before going to work. It’s not easy waking up early, but it was the only time I had for a workout. Also incorporating small things like walking instead of Ubering and opting for stairs helps a lot.

Indulging in moderation
I love eating new food and I was still able to do this. I made sure that I was eating smaller portions and sharing whenever possible. Rule of thumb is always order a size small. Another trick for eating out is taking half your meal home and boxing it before you start eating.

Limit drinking calories
If you’re anything like me, I’m always hungry. I minimized drinking my calories and saved them for snacking. I stuck to sparkling water or sugar-free coffee.

Saying no
It’s way too easy to go out for a drink every night especially when others are treating. This was very difficult for me because I love being social but I had to learn to say no. Also, you don’t always need dessert or snacks. And if you have strong willpower (I don’t, so I just avoid situations), you can still be social and not make poor decisions.

Be consistent
This is probably the most important. Making change for a day won’t do much but keeping at it for a long duration will. I took it one day at a time and the next thing I knew, I was back home a month later.

To be fair it was a lot easier this year partly because I was traveling within the USA (2 weeks in SF, 1 week in CHI, and 1 week in NY). I wasn’t as compelled to splurge on food and it was more convenient to find workout partners or classes.

Regardless, I’m still super proud of myself. Now that I’ve done it, I know I can do it again. I’m not yet sure where I’ll be traveling to next year, but wherever it is, I know I’m ready for the challenge.

Photos by Colin Young-Wolff.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.